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Letting imaginations run free

Portrait

Papo France SAS has been making figurines for nearly 20 years. Since it produced its first two figures in 1997, its portfolio has swelled to over 550 different models. “Papo creates new designs for its portfolio each year, taking inspiration from childhood favourites such as horses and ponies, knights and pirates,” says President Martine Schwoerer. “As well as looking back in time with our historical figures, we also have a comprehensive collection of fantasy figurines.”

The figures are highly tactile with extraordinarily detailed surfaces that accurately convey the texture and colour of the animal represented. They are designed to last and are made of high quality materials that will not fade or wear. The main target group for Papo France’s figurines are children aged from around three to eight years, although older children and even adults are also collectors, particularly of figures of dinosaurs, which are designed with an extraordinary attention to detail.

Many of the figurines are portrayedin dynamic poses. “Many of our knights and pirates are modelled in such a way that they can stand or mount a horse or even a dragon,” says Ms. Schwoerer. “This affords children even more opportunities for imaginative play.” When the child has finished playing for the day, the figure makes a highly attractive and decorative object to place on a shelf. Some, such as a spooky ghost, even glow in the dark.

Papo figurines are sold in toy shops, hobby shops, department stores, museum shops and online. The bestselling models are its dinosaurs, horses and knights. The company has also introduced environments such as castles, farms, horse boxes and pirate ships to accompany its figurines and provide even more possibilities for play. “Hands-on toys are an important source of inspiration for children that allow them to be creative,” says Ms. Schwoerer. “This is missing from computer games which can only played in one way.”

Almost 60% of sales are to customers abroad. The family-owned company has subsidiaries in Germany, the UK and the US to support its network of sales agents and distributors. The incredibly life-like and realistic figures are popular around the world but there is still room for Papo France to expand. “Our main market is Europe but we are hoping to expand our export activities still further,” explains Ms. Schwoerer. “This means investing in merchandising at the point of sale and ensuring that customers are able to see our products on the shelf.”

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