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A word with… Darren Epstein of Heathside Trading

Founded 17 years ago as a clearance and distribution company, Heathside Trading has carved out a niche for itself in the pop culture collectables market through its in-house ranges Khadou and Master Replicas.

The company recently acquired the IP and assets of LA-based Quantum Mechanix (QMx), whose popular product lines of toys, plush, gifts, prop replicas, collectables and more include Q-Figs, Zippermouth Plush and Mini Masters. asks Heathside’s evp global business development Darren Epstein what the acquisition means for the company, and what it will be focusing on in 2024.

For those who don’t know, can you briefly explain how the various arms of your business operate?

We have Heathside Trading, which develops opportunity programmes for suppliers to range product at retail throughout the EU, then we have Khadou, which designs, manufactures and distributes pop culture toys and collectables. And finally, we have Master Replicas, which sells direct to consumer. We have now added QMx into the company, which will form a standalone brand.

The pop culture merchandise market is quite a crowded one. Where is Heathside positioned within it, and what does it do best?

The company’s USP is good product at good value prices. We have been doing this for a long, long time; the consumer may get older, but there are always consumers behind them wanting new properties. We manufacture, wholesale and sell direct to consumer, so we see all aspects of customer requirements and we like to think we can act/react to whatever we need to, and tailor our ranges accordingly.

Heathside1The past year seems to have been super-busy for you, with new hires, new acquisitions, new distribution and licensing deals… is international expansion on the cards?

Well, we already sell internationally, we just do it in a limited way. But with the expansion into more tailored high-end collectibles, we have seen a swing towards more partnerships and more products. We have been manufacturing for a long time, but the primary focus has been European distribution. Now we have some global rights, which is allowing us to enhance and develop further categories.

What was the thinking behind the recent acquisition of Quantum Mechanix? What will it bring to the Heathside portfolio?

Well we loved the QMx product, and given that the company had decided not to continue, we thought: let’s try and see if we can purchase all the brands, it will give us a more quirky spin on the ranges of product that we will develop. We are in full-blown development right now, and I think we will see the first QMx branded item in January.

Heathside2Heathside has a successful board game history (with titles under the Destination brand, Jumanji, Sonic the Hedgehog and more). Will this continue to be a focus?

Our board games, I would say, are focussed on the mass consumer market; we want a big board game, with an hour play time, for a low price. The market is there for games and we have 10–12 new titles coming in 2024, but we have been really successful with games we have already launched, for brands including Dr Who, Yu-Gi-Oh and Sonic. They have been very popular.

Which brands will be a focus for 2024?

We have a strong portfolio of product for 2024 which includes sci-fi brands Star Trek, Foundation, The Expanse, The Orville and Stargate, as well as South Park, Godzilla, Dr Who, Dragon Ball Z, Sonic, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and many, many more.

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