Wild & Wolf’s Chris Naylor on why Ridley’s Games is poised to “take the industry by storm”

Chris Naylor
Bath-based Wild & Wolf are the award-winning gifting company, best known for its expansive portfolio of gifts and lifestyle products for brands spanning the likes of Ted Baker, Orla Kiely, Scrabble and Happy Jackson.

The firm is also the home of Ridley’s Games, a brand boasting revamped old school classics as well as original games, puzzles, trivia and novelties. But with a raft of brand new original titles out this year, Wild & Wolf is now in a position to further establish Ridley’s Games as a standalone toy and games brand in its own right.

We caught up with Chris Naylor, senior product designer for the Ridley’s team, to find out more about the design process behind Ridley’s Games, and why 2018 looks set to be a stand-out year for the brand.

For those who may be unaware, who are Wild & Wolf and what sorts of products do you design?
Put simply, Wild & Wolf is an award-winning gifting company that creates original, design-led gifts and lifestyle products that demonstrate thoughtfulness, personality and integrity. We love the detail of crafting great products and take time to make sure they deliver for any and all gifting occasions.

Founded in Bath in 2005, we are home to several fantastic brands (like Ridley’s Games) along with a portfolio of powerhouse global licences such as Ted Baker, Orla Kiely, Scrabble, Stanley, Happy Jackson, V&A and others.

Our Ridley’s Games products are specifically designed to intrigue, amaze and inspire hours of fun for all ages. From board games to toys, novelties and puzzles, we aim for our products to offer players a truly unique, awesome experience, with innovative bespoke packaging designs and original game play.

How would you sum up your approach to game design?
We’d sum up our approach to game design in two words: giftable games. It’s a very unique approach and one that we’re really excited to share with the game industry: one where the packaging features a very ‘giftable’ eye-catching and innovative design but that comes with a solid, credible game behind it.

Our ultimate goal is to create games with character: ones that will surpass the initial ‘wow’ factor to make their way as a staple onto the family game shelf to be played over and over again. Although the packaging is dynamic and fun, the game itself is the main event.

Our approach is also different in that it’s very trend-driven, which is traditionally reserved more for the gifting industry. We have our ears to the ground when it comes to consumer trends and we’ve answered the call for considered game options in imaginative packaging.

This is reflective of Wild & Wolf’s strategic approach to gifting, and is a key ingredient that will remain a core focus for us as we continue to embark on this exciting journey in establishing Ridley’s Games as a standalone toy and games brand in its own right.

Sumo Slam
With the Ridley’s Games portfolio, what’s new and exciting on the horizon? And how are you are breathing new life into the brand and its products?
Being a toy and games brand within a gift-led company has historically led to a more ‘gift-focused’ approach to our Ridley’s Games portfolio, and this influence can be seen in the classic Ridley’s House of Novelties collection with its popular retro packaging that is well-known within the market.

The nostalgic-inspired product and packaging style resonates well in the gifting world, but as we look to grow our presence in the toy and games world, we’re excited to be developing more inventive, original games that sit proudly on the toy and games shelves of retailers that usually have not carried Wild & Wolf product.

We’re not playing games (pardon the pun!) when we say that we’re planning to take the industry by storm, and we’re in a unique position to do just that. We have the fresh ideas and budding passion of an indie start-up with the fortunate backing of a big company who enable us the freedom to explore opportunities with risks that perhaps smaller start-ups could not afford to exploit.

We’ve also found that our stellar reputation in the gifting world has enabled us to develop relationships with toy and games buyers, with recommendations from our gifting buyer partners.

We’re moving in the direction of inventing novel games with completely bespoke gameplay and in-house illustration work, filled with little quirks and gems (look out for our junior designer Flo’s character card in our new game Caffeine Hit!). We think this will really set us apart and be a breath of fresh air in the market.

We’re still very much finding our feet and learning as we go, but we’re confident that with our incredible team and Wild & Wolf on our side, we’re starting out in a very positive place and are keen to see where we’ll end up!

What new products are on the way from you guys this year?
There are several new games that we’re launching in the AW18 season that we’re incredibly excited about, namely: Avocado Smash!, Sumo Slam!, Caffeine Hit!, Selfish and Draw A Blank, or as we like to call them ‘The Big 5’. Prepare to smash, slam, caffeinate, drift in space, and be at a loss for words with these five brand new games, all designed and developed over two years in-house!

Alongside cultivating ‘The Big 5’, we’ve also been working on mini brands: namely smaller, fast-paced games that hit multiple price points and markets. They’re the perfect games for on-the-go fun that can be played on long journeys or during down time with friends and family.

Our personal favourite is the Would you Rather? mini-game from our Mash-Ups! range. We spent many hours in the office debating important questions like: “Would you rather fart flames every time you kiss someone or have armpits full of sticky honey?” We’re not joking when we say we have hours of fun!

How do you stay creative?
By living and breathing games! Both our own and competitors, inside and outside of work. On an average day you’ll find the Ridley’s team huddled up in the games snug at our office, which is a space specially designed to boost inspiration and creativity outfitted with comfy armchairs, couches and shelves full of games.

We also go on team outings to games shops and cafes around town and organise game lunches every Thursday for the whole office to test out prototypes and get everyone excited about what we’re working on. We also have Ridley’s team-only game nights after work that are great for team bonding.

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