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No Strings Attached

Monster success in the toy industry.

Douglas Sapp and Michael Compton are counting on this being a great summer--no, make that a really great summer--for their Columbus, Ohio, toy manufacturing company, Resaurus Co. Inc. Why is this duo so confident? Hint: It has to do with a big lizard--no, make that a really big lizard.

" `Godzilla' is going to be huge," says Sapp, 38. "The hype on this thing is unbelievable."

In the wake of the monster-sized box-office numbers "Godzilla" is expected to rake in all summer, Resaurus' line of Godzilla puppets appears positioned to, well, leap right off store shelves. Not that this 5-year-old company doesn't already know a thing or two about leaping lizard-like creatures.

"We'd always said we'd like to do [licensed merchandise for] `The Lost World: Jurassic Park,' " says Sapp, explaining the impetus for "The Lost World" project. "We increased our business by 1,000 percent [because of that movie]."

Considering last year's sales of $6.5 million, Sapp and his 32-year-old partner could easily be mistaken for two guys who had big-time Hollywood connections. Wrong. The longtime friends first used their art backgrounds to produce not toys but a dinosaur poster. From that, they got the idea to create what has since turned into their signature product: puppets.

Skeptical? So were retail buyers at first. "We had to convince buyers who were [ordering] action figures and vehicles that our products fit in the action aisle," explains Sapp, who says some of Resaurus' puppets incorporate patent-pending sound technology that simulates, say, dinosaurs roaring.

Obviously, toy consumers had to be convinced, too. In tapping into kids' mindset, though, Sapp claims an advantage--six of them, in fact. "They're a good group to run stuff by," he says of his own kids. "If something stinks, they're pretty quick to say `This is a terrible toy, Dad.' " And we thought Godzilla was tough.

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This story appears in the July 1998 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »