Another interesting product - Black and Decker VPX

I saw in the ads for christmas presents this new line of tools from Black and Decker called VPX (dorky name). I was surprised by a few things.

The tech is nice (Li-ion batteries). I’m sure everyone else has noticed, but this has really blown the doors open for some nice design in cordless power tools. No longer do designers have to figure out a way to attach a 4x4x6 brick to the drill.

Design wise, these are obviously for the occasional home user, not contractors nor power-users (like us, right?). I really like the very graphic use of color and lines. They remind me a lot of European cars in that sense. Also, the amount of white is surprising, as these tools will undoubtedly look dirty quickly.

What’s everyone else think?

I saw them too a couple of weeks ago. Even the packaging looks nice from what I remember. The whole floorspace in depot stands out in a good way. I’m curious if they work well.


I saw these at Home Depot this past weekend and immediately went and checked them out. Definitely different from the average power tool design.

For those that haven’t seen them…

While I like the design from a purley aesthetic point of view- I think B&D is taking a huge risk in producing a line of products that moves away from the traditional “power tool styling”

As Mr-914 pointed out - these are obviously for the home user.

However… I did some research for a project on power tools recently and one of the trends that we documented was that quite often it was the home user that was buying the “contractor level” tools because they want to have the same tool as the pro’s. -Or… at least “look” like they have the same tool as the pro’s.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

ok im glad we’re discussing these.

they broke all of the rules and i love it.
the only poweretools i’ve seen EVER that have glossy finish… and it works for b&d, because they’re not a contractor product.

very well styled and different from all the others…

also check out Makita’s new(ish) design language… black and white mostly…

very cool stuff… also ryobi (the home depot brand) just recently went to a lime green color… Way more appealing then their dull blue they had.

all interesting changes.

maybe there is a bit of gender awareness in this design? Power tools designed for women has always been a small holy grail. Certainly now, in large N.American cities, many home purchases are by women. You just can’t own a home and survive without power tools.

Another interesting feature is there is a ac/usb charging unit thing that you can place the li-ion batteries into. Not really sure if there is any good use for it, but interesting none the less.

I was checking out that USB/AC thing the other day. It says you can recharge cells and ipods with it.
Nice sketches and design team photos.

BnD Designer Blogs

i would bet diy computer techs.were part of the target market too.

An update from an article on the front page yesterday:

Other recent launches, such as Black & Decker’s VPX products, have not been successful. Introduced earlier this year with glossy white, orange and black rubber surfaces, it marked a sleek departure for Black & Decker, but didn’t take off.

Oh well…

I guess you are all aware, that Porsche Design did these for Metabo years ago:

All the best

Yours mo-i

The target market, user, consumer or shopper may not be:

power-users (like us, right?).

Looks like VPX is just hitting US shelves, so UK Design Week article may be premature, or premonition.
I have not seen in store yet, so am interested to see where and how they are positioned in-store. I was reading an article this week on B&D which indicated that:

while women purchased about 70 percent of all power tools at Home Depot, most did not want to venture into the “tool corral” with all of those sweaty, disreputable looking men.

This insight lead to the strategy to develop a:

beautifully designed, interactive, permanent display…located in proximity to the Blinds and Faucets departments, high-traffic areas for women shoppers and, incidentally, a safe distance from the tool corral.

Resulting in a 53% sales lift for the featured products.

I love that the site shows off the design inspirations, concepts, and the team.

Interesting that therer are 3 industrial designers and 6 ME’s.
I would kill for that ratio on our larger programs!

Great products.

I think they are pretty gender neutral, but I think they do a great job of targeting the IKEA generation of partial do it yourselfers… we don’t want to make dovetails, just put some kits together, but feel good about it.

I like how that have tapped into a very tech/snowboarder aesthetic.

Also, showing the sketches, nice touch. Wish you could get team bios.

an important product line to watch, I will be curious as to the marketplace results. If I didn’t have tools, I would buy these.

51 : Are you sure about that 53% boost for VPX? The line debuted last year, and I think that the Business Week article was more indicative of how the line fared.

The ID team did a phenomenal job on that set of tools, but unfortunately it seems let down by a very poor selection of internal components (out of the hands of ID of course). .

However… I did some research for a project on power tools recently and one of the trends that we documented was that quite often it was the home user that was buying the “contractor level” tools because they want to have the same tool as the pro’s. -Or… at least “look” like they have the same tool as the pro’s.

Incidentally, the pros want tools that are plain and rigid Those that can easily be cleaned and survive a roof drop, tools that last. Surprisingly the younger the audience is, the more they are attracted to a dependable design rather than overmoulded rubber-bling.

I must be missing something, because I honestly don’t see the tools being any different at all beside the white color (considering that was what most of you were commenting, I haven’t read the specs). Besides, notice the sketches all being red/black? Marketing/business direction rather than the allknowing ID dept? :wink:

Then again, I’m in Scandinavia and not NA, might be as easy as that.

that sounds about right to me engio.

I was pleasantly surprised that they showed the sketches in the regular BandD livery.

51 : Are you sure about that 53% boost for VPX?

MasterBlaster: the article did not indicate ‘featured’ product, but I doubt it was VPX.

  1. I started this thread last year. VPX has been in NA for a year now. I’m going to assume that the UK article had it right and it fell below targets. Only B&D knows for sure, I guess.

  2. Note how the team is 95% middle age and up men. Kinda ironic that 70% of the buyers are women…food for thought B&D!

From May 2008:

Michael D. Mangan: We do not give product line volumes but VPX, in the product category there was a disappointment for us during the fourth quarter. We are working on some repositioning actions for that product category and VPX will be a smaller part of our future going forward.