Hot pursuit in the toy aisle
April 7, 2011
A fleet of “Hot Wheels”- style L.A. County Sheriff’s cars, complete with the trademark star and “A Tradition of Service” slogan, are coming soon to a Wal-Mart near you.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors this week approved a deal between the Sheriff’s Department and Jada Toys Inc. to create the die-cast cars, which will be part of the company’s “Heat” line of law enforcement vehicles.
Under the deal, a Sheriff’s Department training fund will get 5% of gross revenues from the sale of the tiny cars.
“I think they will do very well. Police vehicles have been very popular for the past few years,” said Jason Richman of Jada Toys. He’s not sure why but they seem to be equally popular with kids and adult collectors. And the market is split between realistic cars (like the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department model) and generic or fantasy cars.
“Someone will take a Corvette and make it look like a police car,” Richman said.
He said his company plans an initial run of 15,000 cars. The toys will be produced in China, and Richman hopes to have them in Wal-Mart stores nationwide in time for the holiday season. They’ll retail for $3.99, he said.
Sheriff’s deputy Bill Brauberger said that a realistic depiction of the car was important to the department.
“Our perspective is we wanted it to be similar to what we actually have,” he said. “When your department is as large as ours, it’s good to have kids playing with them. We wanted them to look factually accurate, not bogus.”
The five-year contract can be extended for another five years if all goes well.
It’s not the first time the Sheriff’s Department has gotten into the toy vehicle game. In 2005, supervisors authorized a Hong Kong firm, Sunnyside Ltd., to use the sheriff’s star and slogan for another line of toys. Deputy County Counsel Paul Yoshinaga said the company created 6” replicas of the buses that the department uses to transport inmates. He said the county received about $12,400 from Sunnyside.