Chris Hawley at The Weirds Toy Fair exhibition booth
Bruce Lee product has been a toy business staple for years, but for Chris Hawley, owner/creator of The Weirds toy line where "Normal is lame—embrace your weird" is the battle cry, the Bruce Lee Foundation is the attraction.
"We partnered with the Bruce Lee Foundation to expand our outreach to kids," said Hawley at last week's Toy Fair. "Its philosophy and message is self-empowerment and being yourself. Ours is that it's normal to be lame and to embrace your weird—that being unique is cool. If you're 14-years-old and want a green mohawk, go for it! Mad\ke the world a cooler place."
The Bruce Lee Foundation began as a grassroots movement to honor Bruce Lee’s philosophies and dedication to his craft and his life, and is a not-for-profit organization established to motivate individuals to become the best version of themselves via numerous educational and social initiatives that encourage self-expression aligned with mind, body and spirit.
"I'm a graphic designer and brand builder, and did their label rebrand," said Hawley. "They're all such good people, and trying to raise awareness of Bruce Lee's philosophy. They paired me with their Little Dragons program, which provides life confidence skills and martial arts training to at-risk and underprivileged kids."
Hawley launched The Weirds line at last year's Toy Fair.
"It's a unique toy line and brand based on characters I developed, each with their own likes and dislikes --some more so than others," he said at his company's exhibition hall booth. "Like some don't like asparagus, and some like to eat their television set. But they encourage kids to be funny, and some of them have fabric that kids can color on and create their own weird."
The plush Weird characters—the Mexican wrestling tag team of El Loco and Guapo, the monster truck-loving and grilled cheese sandwich-eating Ms. E, the couch potato Bonez and the blank fabric Fab Ric—are accompanied by other branded merchandise, including coloring book with fold-out poster, T-shirts, buttons and stickers.
At last year's Licensing Show in Las Vegas, The Weirds brand was a finalist in License Global Magazine’s, “One to Watch” Brand Award. Besides the new partnership with The Bruce Lee Foundation, it has teamed with anime licensing company Sentai Filmworks for support through social media and its website.