Partners in business and life, Johan and Lina are architecture graduates and founders of Fabbguds, a lifestyle brand that sells things from coasters to now, a board game called Local-Eyes.
But before Fabbguds, Johan and Lina were actually working on their main company, Fabbritory, a design and fabrication company making low-quantity prototypes and premium products for hobbyists, entrepreneurs, and businesses.
“We have always created products or prototypes for our customers, but we wanted something of our own—it was our goal,” Johan explained.
Thus, when the pandemic hit in 2020, the couple realised that the time was finally right for them to start Fabbguds, as they believe more people were spending time at home doing online shopping.
“We try to make sure all of our products are solving problems, are educational, and mainly different from others,” Johan said.
All of the products are designed by Johan and Lina, who also try to be waste-conscious. This means they try to make the products multifunctional. Plus, plastic elements are typically made from recycled plastic.
This ethos of theirs can be found in Local-Eyes, Fabbgud’s very own board game for kids launched just a few months ago.
Localising search games
Even before Local-Eyes, Fabbguds has released other educational items such as the Ramadan Daily Good Deeds set which includes Stacking Zikr, a Montessori-inspired stacking toy with Zikr inscription, and Jawi Tracing, a tracing board with Arabic alphabets.
The Ramadan flip book they created also appeals to children as it provides stickers that kids can use to design the included map.
Still, a board game seems to be quite a departure from the wooden items they typically make.
“We bought a board game to keep ourselves and our nephews and nieces entertained,” Johan explained. “They love search games, and there are a lot [of such games], but not a Malaysian one.”
Thus, the first side of Local-Eyes is actually a search game filled with Malaysian icons. Players will be given cards that have icons on them, which they then have to locate on the circular board.
Meanwhile, the second side is a geography-based quiz. Players must answer questions on a separate set of cards then locate where the item belongs to.
According to Fabbgud’s website, Local-Eyes’ benefit is to help foster concentration, reactivity, confidence, vocabulary, and patriotism within the children who play it.
Of course, there’s also just the plain old entertainment factor.
Targeting young kids and expats, this game is intended for anyone who wants to learn more about Malaysia in a fun way.
“But let’s be honest, there are Malaysian adults who benefit from this game for their game nights and family trips!” Johan expressed.
Doing the right market research
To create Local-Eyes, Johan and Lina turned to a trusted group to do conduct market surveys—their nephews and nieces.
While asking for their feedback, the couple also observed how effective and engaging the games were. The board game took a year of work to execute, from the ideation to the launch.
According to Johan, game one, the search game, is intended to include a mix of English and Bahasa Malaysia, so players would know what they are called in the language.
That means, there are icons that are labelled “manggis” instead of “mangosteen” and “buaya” instead of “crocodile”.
“This way, players would know what to Google if they want to know more about Malaysia,” Johan explained. “For a full Bahasa Malaysia version, maybe, if it’s needed in the future.”
Like Fabbgud’s other products, Local-Eyes is locally made, except for the timer. All the printed parts were manufactured by a trusted company Fabbguds has been working with for a long time.
The plastic markers in particular are created by a local company that creates products from waste plastic.
Local-Eyes comprises a two-sided board game, a deck of 60 cards, three markers, and a one-minute hourglass timer. Each set goes for RM149.
“It does seem pricey but it brings a lot of value to the players,” Johan justified. “It is not just about having fun with this board game but it is also to learn. They are also getting two games in one—we think it’s a fair price!”
On board with more games
Malaysia is home to quite a lot of card games, but local board games are still a rarity.
Thus, a big challenge of Fabbguds is to educate people about its aim and the product itself, especially with its higher price point.
“That’s why we are actively going to markets and events, to get the word out as much as possible. And obviously via social media as well,” Johan said.
Staying true to their goal of solving everyday problems since they started, Johan and Lina aim to explore more board game ideas and also venture into other target markets.
“It all depends on the sales, response, and feedback, of course,” he said. “If a lot of people love the product we create, for sure we will move forward with a new one.”
Featured Image Credit: Fabbguds