Rubber ducks are one of the most popular and iconic toys in existence. What started out as a simple yellow duck bath toy, has exploded into an eclectic adult collectible, that has collectors of all ages seeking-out floating versions of these feathered friends in an array of colors and themes that are “A lot like you and a lot like me!” With eons of insanely clever rubber duckies in their flock, a prominent producer of distinctive ducks is the aptly named Rubba Ducks.
The Company has fully developed hundreds of Rubba Ducks characters which take on the personalities of firefighters, pandas, sports fans and even Original Cheeseheads® from Wisconsin, in fact, each duck has a name and story on a trading card on each box, and iconic tattoos on their rear. Some of the ducks have awe-inspiringly detailed designs, such as “Chester” (the jester) or Spa Duck, Merduck, the incredible “Crystal” Rubba Duck, and countless more. And, as expected, each one floats up right on water with ease. Most of the Rubba Ducks can be purchased for around $10.00
Possibly the most fascinating aspect of Rubba Ducks is its unique and delightful history. A family owned business, the company started in Minnesota in 1997 when its founder, Mark Boldt, was searching for characters to promote in his publication titled “Surprises Magazine.” Noting that the magazine is for children, Mark asked his daughter, Savannah, for her advice about characters. Then only four years old, Savannah suggested that rubber ducks be featured in the magazine, which Mark misunderstood her saying as Rubba Ducks. Mark liked her idea and searched the patent website where he discovered that the term “Rubba Ducks” was not trademarked. Hence, the company was born. “We were really first to market with stylized ducks. Before us you’d largely find just the yellow ones,” Mark explained in a recent interview. “After we started making them and other companies saw their popularity it became a more crowded category. But ours have always been incredible quality, float upright and do not retain any water. We pride ourselves on that and our attention to detail.”
Being mindful of the details is something that has made Rubba Ducks products continue to stand out above the rest. Each design is well thought out and includes fine sculpting work that produces end products that are feasts for the eyes. The items are also quite technical given that they must float–which is not always easy when designs call for big hats or otherwise extended proportions. Yet, with help from his head designer, Emily, Mark always manages to make each model–some of which glow in the dark or contain scents–a success.
“When I first started out I was running my company from my basement,” he confessed. “I had no team helping me but the ducks were popular with consumers and kept selling out.” Mark was able to build up his business based on the merits of his products and, by 2001, the company was well on its way to being the worldwide success that it is today. “The ducks have sold really well all across the globe,” Mark stated. “In 2004 and 2005 our products did really well in Europe and now we are expanding into other products like board games, birthday supplies and clothing and perhaps multi-platform entertainment content including apps and shows, or even a movie. My wildest dream is a Rubba Ducks theme park.”
Mark’s goals for his brand are as ambitious as the very unique and wholly creative duck figures that it produces. He’s created more than 220 ducks, and ensures that dozens of new Limited Edition styles are available for purchase at any given time, until they sell out. Collectors see the available styles on their in-pack Rubba List and online at RubbaDucks.net. “We share what’s coming down the pipeline on the Rubba Lists, and also through our social media on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and more,” Mark explained. Of all the designs, the Frankenstein model—“Duckenstein™”–has consistently been a top seller although Mark holds a special affinity for “CowDuck™” which was one of the original models. “And now we have a new cow duck, Dairy Cow Original Cheesehead Rubba Ducks, which is awesome. It’s just rolling out now on pre-order along with a Pigskin football Cheesehead Rubba Ducks for Packers Cheesehead or any football fans. But, it’s really hard for me to pick one model over another,” Mark declared.
There are mega themes like Animals (Cracker a parrot duck, GiddyUp, a horse duck, Duckaroo, a kangaroo duck, Rubba Ducks, Ducklet, Gobble,and Trunk the elephant duck), which would be great in zoos; to the ProSports Series (Duckskin, Slamduck, Duckerball, DuckyPuck, W.E. Fowl, and Duckfan), and so many others for every hobby and interest in between. Needless to say, given their whimsical charm and wide style variety, the ducks are extremely popular with collectors. “When I first researched rubber ducks I was amazed by how many people collect them,” Mark proclaimed. “Now that I own a company that produces these items I get the opportunity to speak with a lot of people who really are fans of these products. Sometimes they even give me ideas for new designs–anyone who comes up with an original idea that we end up producing gets their birthday to be the same as the duck’s ‘hatch date.’ All of our ducks have hatch dates and names that are suitable to their personality or theme, it helps establish their individuality.”
Mark understands the power of networking and also would love to develop more private label custom-orders for charities, duck races, and major chains and brands like coffee houses, restaurant chains, zoos and more. “We like having the ability to personalize our products,” Mark explained.
Another upcoming event that Mark is very excited about is the “Get Lucky™” blind bag program set to be launched in spring of 2016. “Kids and collectors will buy small Rubba Ducks in bags where they cannot see which of the 24 Wave 1 designs they are getting, including three ‘mystery ducks’ that will not appear on the roster. However, if you “Get Lucky” and find one of the rare Lucky ducks you win an additional special prize. We want to grow this program organically. If it’s successful, we hope to have the ability to offer really cool prizes like a gold duck and a trip to our factory in China see how our ducks are made.”
The Rubba Ducks certainly shows no sign of slowing down any time soon. They are the featured product at THE BOATHOUSE in Disney Springs, and are doing well at Amazon.com and RubbaDucks.net store. With new specialty retailers rolling out this Spring with the Get Lucky program.
It is obvious that Mark truly loves what he is doing and the creative genes run strong; his daughter, Savannah, is currently an art major in college. When asked about the best part of working with the company, Mark did not hesitate with his answer: “I love how excited everyone gets about the ducks. They really elicit a great response from people of all ages and walks of life; in ten years, I hope we are bigger than ever.”
To learn more, visit the official RubbaDucks.net and Facebook. Anyone who is a serious collector and/or fans of the ducks can also subscribe to the company’s newsletter. Also, check out TheTub.com to connect with other Rubba Ducks fans!
To learn more, visit the official Rubba Ducks website and Facebook. Anyone who is a serious collector and/or fans of the ducks can also subscribe to the company’s newsletter. Also, check out TheTub.com to connect with other Rubba Ducks fans!