Mark Dinges, The World’s Greatest Wind-up Toy – My Reinvention Story

Mark Dinges owns California Creations, makers of the World’s Greatest Wind Up Toys.  His site is

Here is what Mark said in response to our recent call for Reinvention Stories:

Mark says:

1. Why: The market changed and we were forced to change with it.  The mass market and the internet grew rapidly while the specialty market was squeezed out of the middle.  Our loss of overall sales forced us to look for a higher margin business model to sell through our existing sales network.

2. What Were You Doing Prior: We were a unique type of distributor in the Specialty Toy and Gift market.  We found companies from around the world and exclusively marketed them to the North American market.  The manufacturer would hold the inventory, we would handle sales, credit, invoicing, etc.  Once the manufacturer shipped, we paid them weekly (guaranteeing their payment).  We would then wait for the store to pay.

3. What Are You Doing Now:  The margins were too low as a distributor.  We realized we needed to start making our own products and sell them directly to the stores (not using distributors).  One of the products we distributed was Tomy’s wind-up toys.  In 2006, they decided not to make their wind-up toys any longer.  Through negotiations, we were able to acquire their molds, allowing us to produce the toys while paying a royalty back to Tomy.  Along with the molds, we negotiated to be able to add our own new wind-up toys to the line and we acquired worldwide rights to sell the toys.

4. How I reinvented:  Since acquiring the Tomy molds, we have released over 100 new toys under the brand name Z WindUps. We have gone from an obscure distributor only known to buyers in the gift and toy industry to an internationally recognized brand of toys.

5. What Have Been Your Results:  Our business has increase by multiples and our long term outlook is extremely positive, because we are selling toys that have already continuously been selling since the early 1980’s. We sell more toys to adults than children, so we have a very large market.

-Mark Dinges, California Creations, For more information, please contact:

So what is YOUR Reinvention Story?  Send it to: and if we choose it for the blog and web site, you will see it published here!


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