|It's more of a collector's item as opposed to a toy said Lau, the president and co-founder of Round 5 Corp., a Markham-based company that makes collectible figurines of athletes involved in Ultimate Fighting Championship competitions.Lau's staple product is a six-inch plastic collectible with caricature type style. They have really big heads and really big fists, but the faces look very real.
Since starting up in 2007, the company's products are sold in more than 7,000 stores across North America. Lau expects unit sales to top one million in 2010.The 29-year-old's success earned him a Chinese Canadian Entrepreneur Award nomination.
Lau has been martial arts fan since 1999 and has trained in mixed martial arts for about three years.He met Randy Couture, a former Olympic Greco-Roman wrestler and UFC champion, through advertising work for combat sport content provider The Fight Network.Lau describes him as the Michael Jordan of ultimate fighting. If you have watched UFC, you have watched Randy said Lau. A brainstorming session between Lau and Couture resulted in Round 5. Lau knew nothing about toys or retail but family in China provided financing and brought him to Hong Kong where he had about three weeks to learn the trade.
He started with Couture and fighters Tito Ortiz, Matt Hughes and Quinton Jackson.They now sell 35 figures, retailing in Canada for $14.99 and plan to boost that number to about 140 before 2012.In July, they signed a licensing agreement with the UFC and sales skyrocketed 700 per cent, said Lau. They've opened a Hong Kong office and plan to launch six new product lines by 2011.The U.S. is their main market, while Canadians account for 20 per cent of their sales.
It is not uncommon for Lau to get a call from a fighter asking when they can expect to be featured, or managers asking when the next product line is being produced. I find the athletes and their managers and industry people are actually bigger collectors than I am. They are fanatical.