Tectoy

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Tectoy S.A.
Formerly called
Tec Toy
Sociedade Anônima
Traded as BM&F Bovespa: TOYB4
Industry Toys, Video games, Electronics
Founded 1987
Headquarters São Paulo, Brazil
Key people
Daniel Dazcal
Stefano Arnhold
Fernando Fischer Pereira
Products Master System, Genesis/Mega Drive, Game Gear, Saturn, Dreamcast, Zeebo
Website www.tectoy.com.br

Tectoy (known as Tec Toy before late 2007) is a Brazilian toys and electronics company headquartered in São Paulo.[1] They are best known for producing, publishing, and distributing Sega's consoles and video games in Brazil. The company stock is also traded at Bovespa.

Founded by Daniel Dazcal, who saw an opportunity for a market of electronic toys in Brazil, Tectoy had a goal from the start to enter the video game market. The company approached Sega and later introduced a laser gun game based on the Japanese anime Zillion, which sold more in Brazil than in Japan. Tectoy would later bring the Master System and Sega Genesis (as the Mega Drive) to the region, as well as Sega's later video game consoles and the Sega Meganet service. Other products developed by Tectoy include educational toys such as the Pense Bem, karaoke machines, and original Master System and Mega Drive games released exclusively in Brazil, such as Férias Frustradas do Pica-Pau.

Tectoy is credited with the continued success of Sega consoles in Brazil far past their lifetimes worldwide. At one point, Tectoy held an 80% market share of video games in Brazil. The Master System is still produced in Brazil decades after its cancellation around the world, and Tectoy's consoles continue to rival more modern systems by Microsoft and Sony.

History[edit]

Tectoy's original logo from 1987 to 2000

Formation and early years (1987-1996)[edit]

Tectoy was founded in September of 1987 by Daniel Dazcal, Leo Kryss, and Abe Kryss. Dazcal was previously associated with Sharp Corporation in Brazil, while the Kryss brothers were the owners of Evadin, a Brazilian TV manufacturer associated with Mitsubishi. Stefano Arnhold, who was Dazcal's subordinate at Sharp, joined Tectoy in December of the same year. The new startup company sought to create "intelligent toys" designed specifically for the Brazilian market.[2] At the time, Brazil's most dominant toy manufacturer was Estrela, which held 55% of the market share but did not have any interest in electronics. This gave Dazcal an area to focus with the new company.[3] In order to give the company an advantage in marketing costs, Tectoy set its factory in the Free Economic Zone of Manaus to leverage tax incentives.[2]

According to Arnhold, it was a main goal of the new company to join the video game market. Relying on individual previous experiences in working with Japanese companies, Tectoy reached out to Sega, and became the official distributor of Sega products in the region. Initially, Sega was hesitant to partner with Tectoy given the failure of Tonka in merchandising Sega products in the United States, but eventually Tectoy built trust with Sega and were granted total liberty to manage Sega products in the Brazilian market.[3] The first Sega product released by Tectoy was the Zillion infrared laser tag gun, based on the phaser featured in the anime of the same name.[2] The success of Zillion led Sega to have Tectoy distribute its 8-bit video game console, the Master System, in Brazil,[3] and would also lead to the later releases of Zillion and Zillion II for the console.[2] Launched officially in Brazil in September 1989, the Master System achieved success.[4]  Tectoy's revenue in 1989 was Cz$66 million,[5] of which Cz$40 million was attributed to the console. Some of this success is attributed to the company's strong advertising investments: the launch campaign, which lasted until Christmas 1989, was at an expense of Cz$2 million.[6]  A year later, at the end of 1990, the Master System base installed in Brazil was about 280,000 units.[7]  The company also introduced a telephone service with tips for games, created a Master System club, and presented the program Master Tips during commercial breaks of the television show Sessão Aventura of Rede Globo.[4]

Over a year after the launch of the Master System, Tectoy officially brought Sega's 16-bit console, the Sega Genesis (known in the region as the Mega Drive), to Brazil in December 1990.[7]  Sega's handheld console, Game Gear, was later released in August 1991.[8]  Like the Master System, the two products were assembled by Tectoy in Manaus, and Game Gear was the first portable console manufactured in Brazil.[9]  Sega's primary competition, Nintendo did not officially arrive in Brazil until 1993; they entered the region through Playtronic, a partnership between Gradiente and Estrela.[10] By the time Nintendo arrived in the region, they were unable to compete with pirated NES systems already available in the region and Tectoy's established following.[2] Mega Drive surpassed the SNES in market share in Brazil, and Tectoy claimed 80% of the local video game market.[3]

On May 26, 1994, Dazcal died at the age of 42.[11] Arnhold became Tectoy's CEO in his place.[12] Tectoy would later release the Sega Saturn on August 30, 1995, at a price of R$899.99.[13] With the increase in the number of commercial Internet users in Brazil, Tectoy also invested in content and Internet access by introducing a Brazilian version of Internet service provider CompuServe, at the time the second largest US subscriber number. São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Belo Horizonte were the first cities to receive the service.[14] The service officially began in April 1997 and was part of a strategy to diversify the company's interests away from being a seasonal industry.[15]

Debt restructuring and changes in focus (1997-2006)[edit]

In 1997, Tectoy saw financial losses of R$35.9 million and saw a 32% drop in revenue compared to its previous year,[16][17] after failing to meet its revenue goal the year before.[18] The company managed to reduce its losses, but still saw a net loss of R$10.8 million in 1998.[16] During this period, the company launched the Dreamcast console in Brazil in September 1999 at a price of R$900.[19]  To cut costs, the Brazilian version was released without a pack-in game and a modem for Internet connection.[20][21] The modem would be released months later at a price of R$49.99.[21] As of July 2000, Dreamcast sold about 20,000 units in Brazil.[22]

By 2000, Tectoy had debts of R$55 million.[16] The difficulties presented by the market caused Tectoy to announce their application for debt restructuring on December 9, 1997. At the time, the reasons disclosed to the press were the drop in sales and interest in Tectoy's products.[23]. The arrangement caused a number of Tectoy businesses to be restructured. CompuServe, which had opened the previous year in Brazil, was closed on April 25, 1998.  Subscribers had the option of migrating to the competitor Universo Online (UOL).[24] At the time of the closure, Arnhold stated that although the internet market was "promising", the company had not reached the number of subscribers that the company was expecting.[15] As part of the debt restructuring, Tectoy renegotiated the debt up to six years for repayment,[16] moved its factory in Manaus to smaller facilities, simplified its production chain, and cut its number of employees from 1000 to 110.[25]  In Tectoy's offices in São Paulo, all employees were centralized to one location.[17]  Tectoy also narrowed its focus to video games and their new work on karaoke machines. The company became the first in Brazil to use compact discs as media for their karaoke devices, in contrast to the cartridge-based machines of their only domestic competitor, Raf Electronics.[16] With these restructuring changes, Tectoy was able to reduce its annual costs to R$4 million in 2001, half of what it spent in 1997,[25] and bankruptcy procedures closed on October 4, 2000.[26]

Tectoy's second logo, 2001 to 2007

After the end of bankruptcy proceedings, Tectoy announced another change to its focus. The company announced its diversification from focusing solely on toys and video games into an "entertainment company". Tectoy intended to introduce more product lines, including DVD players, with a focus on higher profitability and less seasonality to the business.[25] The company's video game business remained strong during this time; the year 2000 saw Tectoy make a 25% increase in sales of its Mega Drive console as compared to 1999. While a 2% sales decrease occurred in 2001 due to power rationing in Brazil, the company aimed for another 25% increase of its video game business the next year. By the year 2002, Tectoy had sold 1.2 million Mega Drives in Brazil, and aimed to produce another 100,000 units.[27] Part of the continued success of the Mega Drive came from Tectoy's partnership with Brazilian television station SBT to release a game based on Show do Milhão, a popular game show.[25]

Diversification and Zeebo (2006-2010)[edit]

In May 2007, Fernando Fischer became the company's president. He promised to reverse the R$3 million loss from the previous year, and increase revenue by R$45 million.[28] At the same time, the company began using the name "Tectoy" as one word instead of two, and introduced a new logo. Tectoy set forth four business areas of focus in the digital entertainment field: video games, DVDs, digital TV receivers, and toys. One of the first new products was a mobile TV digital receiver, MobTV, in December 2007.[29] During the previous year, Tectoy entered the gaming market for mobile devices. Branded as a subsidiary called Tec Toy Mobile, the company partnered with Level Up! Games, responsible for games like the MMORPG Ragnarok Online.[30]  The partnership between the two companies ended in the second half of 2010, when Tectoy sold its stake in Level Up!.[31] Tectoy also began importing the Nabaztag, a portable rabbit-shaped electronic device that played music and accessed information over Wi-Fi.[32] A fire occurred in the Tectoy factory in Manaus in November of 2008, which temporarily paralyzed the production lines of the company.[33]  In February 2009, Tectoy launched the first Blu-ray player manufactured in Brazil.[34]  Subsequently, neither the digital TV receiver nor the Blu-ray player have been financially successful.[35]

Tectoy partnered with Qualcomm to release the Zeebo in 2009

Tectoy announced a partnership with Qualcomm in 2008 for a new project, the Zeebo. Known by the codename "Jeanie", the project was originally announced as a "digital toy" that would talk to "several existing technologies."[36]  The new digital platform was publicly released at the end of the year as a new video game console dedicated to emerging markets, with no physical media and low price to minimize piracy.[37]  Zeebo was released in Brazil on May 25, 2009.[38] In addition to the Zeebo, Sony was selling its consoles in Brazil with initial emphasis on the PlayStation 2, originally sold at R$799.[39] In turn, the Zeebo was not well received by consumers, selling well below what was expected by Tectoy. The final number reached 30,000 units sold, but the company expected to sell 600,000. Fernando Fischer, the company's president, stated that Tectoy would be operating at a profit if it had not invested in and launched Zeebo.[40]  Faced with this scenario of losses, the Zeebo was discontinued in Brazil in 2011.[41]  The game purchase network, ZeeboNet, was shut down on September 30, 2011.[42]

Continued business (2010-present)[edit]

For a short time starting in November 2010, Tectoy produced and marketed 14-inch tube TVs with 12 games included in memory. This production came at a time when LCD and plasma screen manufacturers accounted for 70% of production in the Free Economic Zone of Manaus.[43] Faced with the success of outsourced set-top boxes for the South Korean company Humax, which produced them for Sky, Tectoy executives saw the possibility of using the company's factory in Manaus for third-party products. This, the company reasoned, would be especially helpful to those who wanted to enter the Brazilian market without investing in their own structure. Tectoy's workforce rose from 200 to 400 employees as a result of the partnership with Humax,[44] which began on December 16, 2010.[17]  The company's partnership with Humax ended in the second quarter of 2013.[45]

In the wake of higher revenues obtained in early 2011, Tectoy attempted to auction preferred and common shares. While the company expected to gain R$9.6 million from the sale, a lack of market interest prevented the sale from happening.[35]  Tectoy continued to invest in new categories and licensing in digital electronics. Tablets were a major part of the company's revenue in 2013, accounting for 37% of revenue between January and September, with the expectation of surpassing DVD players and becoming their main product category. In 2012, Tectoy licensed Disney characters to launch a new product, the Magic Tablet.[46] The company's shares were grouped in 2015.  Tectoy was forced to carry out the procedure after actions of BM&F Bovespa against penny stocks.[47]

A strategy of the company has been betting on nostalgia to bring back consoles that were sold in the 1980s and 1990s. In March 2017, Tectoy released the Atari Flashback 7, a version of the Atari 2600, with 101 games in memory but without support to insert game cartridges.[48] Additionally, by June of the same year, it was planned to relaunch the Mega Drive, with some additional features such as a microSD card slot.[49] As of the end of 2015, Tectoy was still selling the Master System continuously since 1989.[50] By 2016, the Master System had sold 8 million units in Brazil.[51]

Products[edit]

Master System Super Compact, a Master System variant exclusively released by Tectoy in Brazil

Tectoy is known for their handling and distribution of Sega's consoles in Brazil. The company sold all of Sega's consoles since 1987, including the Master System, Mega Drive, 32X, Sega CD,[2] Game Gear,[8] Saturn,[13] Sega Pico, and Dreamcast, in addition to the Zillion laser tag gun.[2] Because Tectoy continued to produce the Master System and Mega Drive years after its cancellation, the Master System is considered the longest-lived console in the history of video game consoles.[50] By 1996, Tectoy had sold 2 million video game consoles, and were receiving 50,000 calls a month to their video game tip line. The company also introduced the Sega Meganet service to Brazil in 1995, starting with a focus on e-mail but later expanding to online multiplayer and chat by 1996,[2] as well as partnering with Brazilian bank Bradesco to develop a banking system, similar to Japan's connection with Nagoya Bank.[3] As of 2015, the Master System and Mega Drive combined sells around 150,000 a year. This is a level comparable to modern consoles such as the PlayStation 4,[52] despite the Mega Drive being temporarily discontinued[3] and reintroduced.[49] Tectoy's hardware for the Master System and Mega Drive evolved over time into derivatives targeting the low-income market. These consoles generally do not have the cartridge slots, as games are installed directly on its internal memory. One of these consoles is the Mega Drive Portable, a portable Mega Drive with 20 games installed onto its memory.[53] Other variations exclusive to Tectoy's releases include the Master System Super Compact, which is a wireless system that transmits to a television, and the Master System Girl, a version of the Super Compact in a neon pink case. In 2006, Tectoy released the Master System 3 Collection and the Mega Drive 3, including 120 and 71 built-in games, respectively.[2] Tectoy has received and considered requests to remake the original Master System.[3]

Master System Girl, a pink-colored variant of the Master System Super Compact

In the 1990s, Tectoy translated several games published by Sega into Portuguese. Translated games include the first three Phantasy Star games, Shining in the Darkness, and Riven, the last of which also incorporated dubbed voices.[54] Additionally, Tectoy built relationships with other developers, including Capcom, Acclaim Entertainment, Electronic Arts, and Midway Games. Tectoy would then translate titles from these developers into Portuguese for release in Brazil. Some examples of this include: Teddy Boy became Geraldinho, certain Wonder Boy titles became Monica's Gang games, and Ghost House became Chapolim vs. Dracula: Um Duelo Assutador. Additionally, Tectoy ported games for their Sega systems, such as Street Fighter II for the Master System and Duke Nukem 3D for the Mega Drive,[2] as well as various games ported from the Game Gear to the more popular Master System. Aside from porting, the company developed Férias Frustradas do Pica-Pau after finding out that Woody Woodpecker was the most popular cartoon on Brazilian television. These titles were developed in-house by Tectoy in Brazil. Tectoy also suggested the development of Ayrton Senna's Super Monaco GP II, a project that Sega accepted but would be the only suggestion from Tectoy that Sega approved.[3] More recently, Tectoy created two Mega Drive games based on Show do Milhão, a Brazilian game show,[3][25] and Mega Drive 4 Guitar Idol, a 16-bit rhythm video game based on Guitar Hero with its own guitar peripheral. Tectoy had been granted a master license by Sega for all of their games, including those developed in Europe or America, and had permission to sell any game by Sega in Brazil.[3]

Aside from their work with Sega, Tectoy has developed and sold karaoke machines,[16] set-top boxes,[44] televisions pre-installed with games,[43] mobile games,[30] DVD players,[25] Blu-ray players,[34] a mobile TV receiver,[32] the Nabaztag music player,[33] and the Zeebo video game console.[38] Tectoy also distributed PC games in Brazil such as Blade Runner, StarCraft, and Daytona USA. A successful electronic toy of the company was the Pense Bem, a toy computer introduced in 1988 that asked questions to kids on geography and history.[55] Another product, the Teddy Ruxpin, is a teddy bear that moves and tells stories.[56] The Magic Star, a plastic singing toy based on a character from Monica's Gang, was popular in the 1980s and later was rereleased in 2013.[57][58] Other toys include the Mr. Show electronic question and answer game,[59] as well as Sapo Xulé, a frog doll wearing sneakers,[60] and toys developed for Senninha, a comic based on Ayrton Senna.[3] More recently, Tectoy has also entered the infant care market, partnering with Fisher-Price on electric baby monitors and with Disney on air purifiers and toothbrush sterilizers.[45]

References[edit]

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