Topco Sales has hired three new employees in different departments.
Greg Holdridge has joined the sales department, Alla Vayner is new in the laboratory, and Erica Heathman is now a member of the product development department.
Along with sales, industry newcomer Holdridge will expand the company's licensing and branding relationships with customers.
From Belarus, Vayner is now senior research and development chemist in the Basic Solutions division at Topco Sales.
Heathman is the former managing editor at AVN Novelty Business magazine, which she helped launch. She is now a product development coordinator for Topco Sales.
"Greg, Alla, and Erica are truly exceptional additions to the Topco Sales team," said Scott Tucker, CEO of Topco Sales. "Their work ethics, fun personalities, and innovative ideas make them really fit in well, and I'm excited to welcome them into the Topco family."
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Adult novelty company Topco Sales has released five new Penthouse City toys, reflecting Los Angeles, New Orleans, Paris, Rome and Shanghai.
"The Penthouse City Toys perfectly capture the free-spirit feel of the new cosmopolitan woman," said Amanda Byrd, director of licensing for Penthouse magazine. "These are the kind of toys that every one of them should have in her purse or drawer."
Penthouse City Los Angeles is a petite multispeed vibrator with a quiet but powerful motor and rhinestone detail on the twist-knob base. It is waterproof, phthalate-free, and available in hot pink, purple and white.
Penthouse City New Orleans is a slim, waterproof, four-function vibrator available in metallic pink, green, and red, "his toy evokes the jazzy festiveness of the city for which it is named," Byrd said.
The Penthouse City Paris four-function vibrator has a wide center and a tapered tip, and comes in white, red, and purple. A smooth shaft and Topco's Push-4-Play controls reflect the sophisticated design of The City of Light.
Penthouse City Rome is a powerful finger vibe with a targeted nub on the tip and an adjustable grip. The on-off button maintains the streamlined design of this discreet toy that comes in bronze, silver and gold.
Penthouse City Shanghai captures the exotic nature of that city with ben-wa balls, which shimmer in iridescent silver, pink or purple. They are waterproof and phthalate free.
The distinctive packaging includes dynamic triangular boxes that hang by silky ribbons for display and an original Penthouse letter in every package.
"Topco Sales has a longstanding relationship with Penthouse," said Desiree Duffie, director of marketing and public relations for Topco Sales. "We are very excited to have Penthouse City Toys join the Penthouse Toys family, which includes Penthouse Pet Collection, Penthouse Mode, Penthouse Couples and Penthouse Variations."
In coordination with the release of the new Penthouse City Toys line, Topco Sales and Penthouse will conduct a contest where entrants will submit erotic, fictional letters of their own for a chance to win Penthouse City Toys and publication in Penthouse Letters magazine. Details of the contest will be announced shortly.
1973: A young Martin Tucker writes a book on lovemaking. It was not an uncommon thing to do during the Sexual Revolution, but a media-savvy Tucker took things a step further, by including an 8 mm "stag film" with the text. Such was the success of Tucker's book that he subsequently opened a small adult novelty store on Los Angeles' Third Street. The name Tucker gave to his new company was Topco Sales.
2008: Topco Sales has become an undisputed leader in the design, manufacture and sale of adult novelties. From its humble beginnings in Los Angeles, Topco Sales' reach now encompasses the global market. Among its well-known adult novelty brands are Adam&Eve, Penthouse, TLC, Wildfire, CyberSkin, grrl toyz, climax, Chi Chi LaRue's Rascal Toys, Danni's Toy Box, the Jill Kelly Superstars Collection, Lexington Steele Interracial Toys, Joanna Angel's Burning Angel Toys, My First, Fetish, playtoys and Hot Shots.
Not one to let a milestone slip by without keeping the industry on its toes, Topco is creating a paradigm shift in the novelty business with two substantial business changes. The first is to cut costs to retailers and consumers, and the other is to fully integrate China's High Tech Novelties (HTN) into Topco's operations. The logic behind these changes is the bottom line, not only for Topco, but also for the end consumer, distributors and retailers. Here, two key players give their two cents about the developments.
Scott Tucker, CEO of Topco Sales and son of Martin Tucker, explains the first change: "What we are doing is streamlining the supply chain and making it more efficient. Our full-line distributors are our partners in this initiative, and as we support them with better service and reasonable prices, they will be better able to support their customers: the retailers."
Vanessa Pellegrini, Topco's international sales director, fields the second: "The new location [in China] gives us the resources to handle our growing international clientele in the area of private-label manufacturing. It is no surprise that buying direct is cost-effective."
But what do these changes actually and practically mean for the novelty biz? STREAMLINING EXPLAINED
So, what's the first step in cutting costs? As of July 1, 2008, Topco Sales will no longer break cases to sell products. Only orders that include full case counts will be accepted. It is expected that ending case-breaking will result in lower overall production costs, providing savings that can be passed on to retailers and, ultimately to consumers. Retailers who do not want full cases of products will be able to buy them on a per-product basis from their local Topco distributors.
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"We operate in volume, and therefore it is up to our distributors to break cases to sell to the retail level," Chief Financial Officer Gabriel Scally explains. "This is ultimately the portion of the supply chain that distributors do best: They break cases, stock their shelves with smaller quantities and ship to retailers on a smaller scale. Topco Sales is committed to supporting the distributors so they can better handle their portion of the supply chain."
Taking into consideration the rising costs of manufacturing, increasing gas prices and other economic factors that point toward recession, Scally explains the company's rationale: "By no longer breaking cases, Topco Sales can sustain smaller price increases and incur more of the costs of doing business in an inflation-ridden economy. This will buffer price increases for distributors. Topco Sales will better be able to handle its inventory, meaning they will ship faster and control inventory costs better. Distributors won't have to pass big price increases onto retailers, and retailers can keep costs at the lowest possible level for the consumer." What remains to be seen, of course, is how smaller retailers will react to this news.
In this model, retailers who are used to buying small quantities directly from Topco will now place these orders with one of Topco Sales' full-line distributors. Scally asserts that the company's products will be "available to retailers just as they always have been." Scally adds, "Plus, it is now more important than ever before for distributors to become full-line. Full-line distributors are going to see an increase in sales as more retailers and chains come to them for the entire Topco Sales line of products." Topco Sales' full-line distributors include East Coast News, Honey's Place, Nalpac, New Beginnings, Universal, and Williams Trading.
MADE IN CHINA
Developments in China mean more than a shift in paradigm. A new facility and the ability to tailor products and packaging to suit individual customers mean that Topco will be helping retailers serve their demographics niche by niche.
Martin Tucker launched China's HTN as a separate enterprise several years ago. However, the two companies are now being merged into one, with HTN being rebranded as Topco Sales-China. Though Martin Tucker is retiring from the business, he will remain in China and serve as a consultant.
Topco Sales-China is located in Shenzhen, close to Hong Kong. Based on a Special Economic Zone (which operates under more liberal economic laws than the rest of the country), Shenzhen is a thriving city. Topco Sales-China is located in a new high-rise building with a full-time staff, product showroom and 4,500 square feet of office space. It works with various Chinese FDA-registered vendors to produce a range of products, including private labels.
Private labeling will give companies, online and brick-and-mortar, the flexibility to design packaging and create products that reflect their images and cater specifically to their customers, solidifying their brand identities. Topco also provides end-to-end, concept-to-product development for private-label clients. Scott Tucker says, "We give our private-label clients the ability to carry products that no one else does. They also have the flexibility to decide how their money will be spent. For example, an Internet-based private-label client may choose to spend less on the packaging and more on the product, whereas a brick-and-mortar retail private-label client might want to concentrate more on the packaging.
A LONG ROAD TO SUCCESS
If Nobel Prizes were awarded based on the number of people's sex lives that adult novelties have enhanced, then Martin Tucker definitely would have received one. After all, this is the man who developed vibrators that used low-voltage power adapters, allowing them to be plugged into wall circuits. Thanks to this innovation, humanity was rescued from the perils of batteries dying at the critical moment. Martin Tucker's background in aerospace technology and metallurgical engineering and his finesse for erotic creativity are key to Topco's 35 years of success. Together, these skills allowed him to not only imagine new adult novelties, but also to work out the nitty-gritty details of making them into real products.
Despite the success of Topco Sales' vibrator products and Martin Tucker's ceaseless research into new and different adult novelties-his many patents make for interesting reading, and one has to wonder what the clerks at the U.S. Patent Office make of them-gaining respect in the marketplace took time.
"In the 1970s, sex toys were often referred to as 'marital aid' products and were often found in the backs of adult bookstores and from mail-order catalogs," says Desiree Duffie, Topco Sales' director of marketing and public relations. "Today, they are prevalent on the internet, featured on TV shows and magazines. Women have taken command of their own sexuality, and because of this empowerment, you find sex-toy blogs, forums, toys in boutique stores and more."
In the end, Topco's innovative spirit and expertise are cornerstones of why the company is at the top of its game. An example of this is CyberSkin.
THE CYBERSKIN BREAKTHROUGH
Ironically, it was Topco Sales' invention of CyberSkin synthetic flesh, not battery-less vibrators, that really broke open the gates. Central to its range of realistic dildos, male masturbators, breasts, vagina-anus combinations, and full-sized 3D love dolls, CyberSkin is a soft, elastomeric material that is designed to feel and react like human skin. At the atomic level, CyberSkin's elements are connected with flexible, springlike electrical bonds. At the human level, this gives CyberSkin the texture, resiliency, flexibility, and memory recovery of the real thing.
"In itself, CyberSkin is highly, highly realistic," Duffie says. "Add our dual-density molding process, and CyberSkin products can simulate the softness of skin, plus ... the rigidity of erectile tissue and/or bone."
When CyberSkin dual-density products are made, the molding machine uses a computerized injection process that enables varying densities of CyberSkin to be strategically placed throughout the product. "In a product shaped like a vagina, you can actually feel the softness of vaginal lips and the hardness of pubic bone," she says. "In a penis, you can feel the softness of skin with the rigidity of erectile tissue, creating the most realistic sex accessory."
As for product safety? CyberSkin has been certified phthalate-free by none other than Greenpeace. Out of eight sex toys tested by Greenpeace, only Topco's Cyber Pussy-which is made from CyberSkin-was found to not contain the alleged toxic plasticizer.
SEX AND TECH WORKING IN HARMONY
It is the functionality and realism of Topco's adult novelties that retail customers care about. "Where does he get those wonderful toys?" is the rhetorical question the Joker poses regarding the gadgets and gizmos of Batman in the eponymous 1989 film. Well, Topco certainly gives retailers a way to inspire similar awe and desire in its customers.
Topco's secret formula is a combination of customer feedback, innovative design, and a healthy sense of lust tempered with science. "Autumn O'Bryan is the director of product development at Topco Sales, and she creates new products by analyzing comments and recommendations from the public. She works with inventors, and has a staff that searches out the latest and best technology in the marketplace," Duffie says.
Today, this combination is driving Topco Sales to achieve even greater 3D realism in just-released products like its Perfect Ass. Firm and full, and weighing an impressive 16 pounds, the CyberSkin Perfect Ass is as close to the real thing as technology can create. The detail on both the vaginal and anal tunnels is stunning; both are robustly designed for deep penetration and for ass men everywhere. O'Bryan comments, "It was designed to be smacked and grabbed just like a real ass. We paid special attention to every detail to make the most realistic experience possible."
The Perfect Ass is made to sit on a flat surface with the tunnels perfectly positioned for table use, plus hand-grips keep the Perfect Ass from shifting. It comes with dual-vibrating multispeed Love Bullets to add extra sensations and can be purchased in either Natural or Cinnamon skin colors.
Topco Sales also is pushing the boundaries on interactive adult novelties. For instance, its TLC Virtual Sex Stroker features a realistic vagina with USB cord that connects to a PC. Nurse Nicci's on-screen male partner matches every thrust made into the CyberSkin vagina. "The Virtual Sex Stroker is the best interactive sex toy on the market," says TheVirtualSexReview.com, a site that reviews "all things virtual and sexy."
A WIDE RANGE OF SUCCESSFUL PRODUCTS
In addition to innovations like battery-less vibrators and CyberSkin, the company has a knack for developing product lines that capture specific sections of the adult market. Fetish toys appeal to the BDSM demographic, while Joanna Angel's Burning Angel Toys cater to consumers with a Goth sensibility. The My First product line helps newbies ease into the world of sex toy play, while Chi Chi LaRue's Rascal products are sassy implements targeting the gay marketplace. Danni's Toy Box brand is perfect for lovers of this big-breasted star, which explains why their faithful replica of Danni's FF boobs is a perennial best-seller. Add the lines based on the amazing endowment of Lexington Steele and Penthouse's legendary images, and one can see why the company's products are ubiquitous in both adult and (increasingly) mainstream retail stores. These factors explain Topco Sales' growth from a small L.A. store to a 500-person company with manufacturing plants in Chatsworth, Calif., and Shenzhen, China.
But being a big company doesn't mean Topco dismisses green issues. Topco Sales has one of the only FDA-registered facilities in the adult industry, Duffie says, and operates the industry's largest materials-and-process research center at its Chatsworth plant. "We implemented CE, WEEE, and RoHS European Directive compliancy long before it was mandatory to do so," she says. "In 2008, we made a 'Commitment to Green' at Topco Sales, and are now implementing several initiatives to reduce our carbon footprint." With these green efforts, "successful products" just got redefined.
FULL SPEED AHEAD
In three and a half decades, Topco has made its mark in the adult novelty business, and the future looks even brighter. "As sex toys become more and more acceptable, opportunities for the business grows and grows," Duffie says. "No longer considered taboo or indecent, toys are making their way into the mainstream marketplace, and that means that opportunities will continue to present themselves. Marketing and advertising Topco Sales products and brands is incredibly exciting, and as a marketer, I feel like I am at the cusp of a renaissance in the industry." Add the recent streamlining of Topco's distribution process and the integration of HTN into its corporate empire, and things can only get better.
Topco Sales account executive Tera Grengs has been certified by The American College of Sexologists and is now the on-staff sexologist at the novelty manufacturing company. Grengs will continue to share her expertise about sex toys with the Topco Sales product development team, distributors, retailers and the general public.
"I'm incredibly excited about this accreditation and resulting membership in The American College of Sexologists," Grengs said. "I'm proud of what I've accomplished in the past five-and-a-half years at Topco Sales, and I look forward to expanding mainstream understanding of all the amazing things that Topco Sales and the adult novelty industry provide."
The American College of Sexologists, a nonprofit professional association, is part of the Exodus Trust, which also owns and manages the Erotic Heritage Museum in Las Vegas. Founded in 1978, the college seeks to develop professional standards, accurate communication and global acceptance of issues relevant to the sex industry. The college offers classes at the Erotic Heritage Museum and promotes the discipline of Sexology worldwide.
"Topco Sales sees the value of supporting our employees for their own personal growth as well as for the benefit of the company," said Michael Siegel, vice president and COO of Topco Sales. "We are proud of Tera's dedication to the industry and know that her certification will be an asset not only to us, but to the entire Topco Sales Community."
The Topco Sales Community connects a select group of Topco Sales "sexperts" with distributors, retailers, and end consumers for ongoing dialogue through independent blogs and an online forum. Grengs maintains an active blog as part of the Community.