KENT, Ohio -- A Kent native's homegrown company has landed a contract with Lorimar/Telepictures to produce a national television game show that may air this fall.
Bob Petry, founder of Kent Toys Inc., expects the five-year contract to bring in more than $20 million -- not a bad piece of change for a company that bucked the odds by locating in what show business folks consider the oblivion that separates New York and Los Angeles.
'There were drawbacks,' Petry, 40, says of his decision five years ago to stick with the Midwest. 'But we had a good product and that made the difference.'
That first product was a collection of 10 characters known as 'Moodies,' who represent the basic moods of man: Happy, Innocent, Sexy, Ornery, Worried... The characters now star in national television commercials as official 'spokespeople' for one of the largest banking brokerage firms in Japan. They also appear on children's meal boxes for Wendy's International, on boxes of Kellogg's Rice Krispies and in more than 1,250 Thom McAn shoe stores.
Kent Toys now has 14 products ranging from board games to fizzy soft drinks, and is negotiating a multi-million-dollar contract for six new toy lines with a major company, Petry said.
After two stock splits last year, what began as a 70-cent-a-share stock is now valued at $5.75. Assets and shareholder equity have increased more than 1,000 percent in the last year. Annual sales in 1985 were about $700,000.
Kent Toys finalized the contract with Lorimar this week.
'There's a good possibility it will air on a network this fall,' Petry said. 'We have not signed with a network, but several have expressed interest because of who is involved. Networks are shifting from soap operas to game shows.'
Kent Toys has obtained a trademark for the show, which will be called 'Lottery.' Three players will try to answer questions from a variety of categories, competing for the chance to win a $100,000 grand prize.
'It's unusual in that it will feature viewer participation,' Petry said. 'The winner will pick a post card from a tumbler with a viewer's name and will play for that viewer, too.'
In addition to receiving a percentage of net profits and first-run syndication fees, Kent Toys will serve as a production consultant -- but the fun and profit doesn't end there, Petry said.
'We see a Lottery merchandising package,' he said. 'We've developed a board game called Lottery, and we see a designer line of clothing and gift products with the Lottery logo ... If it's done right, it can be a very merchandisable word.'
Watch out, Wheel of Fortune. Petry said he would love to steal hostess Vanna White to model the Lottery clothing line. To emphasize the growing success of game shows, Petry noted that Wheel of Fortune brought in $120 million last year, with only $7 million overhead.