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January 27 -  February 3, 2023

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Welcome to Your Weekly News Brief!

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Happy Bloomin’ Friday!

Congratulations to all the winners at the Spielwarenmesse Toy Awards in Nuremberg!

Exciting News! Our Inventor/Innovation Conference venue was such an over-the-top success, we’ve been asked to set up a similar venue during LA Toy Fair Week in September. Everyone attending – inventors AND retailers, manufacturers, distributors, and others are welcome to join! We will reserve a block of hotel rooms in an all-suites hotel. It will be a dynamite place to host showrooms and meetings, plus, it’s totally on-brand for POP to facilitate the fun of being able to bump into your friends and colleagues at breakfast and evening cocktail receptions!

We will create a directory and map of where all the toy companies are (hotels, offices, the ‘El Segundo Toy Building’, etc.) similar to the old Hong Kong directory, but better! In addition to the companies, we will list the people attending, dates, your calendly scheduling link and POP profile, just like we do for our awesome Inventor Conference Pro Track. All of this will be online just for POP members attending the LA events. Whether you’re an individual or a company, all you need to enjoy all these benefits and get in on a group room rate is a POP profile, which costs less than a pizza! No further cost but to pay for your own hotel room. And… we will, of course, host our LA POP Pub Party as always! Interested? Send me a note! mary@chitag.com

If you don't yet have a POP Profile, do it now, CLICK HERE!

​Thank you for reading the Bloom Report. If you can't wait for the news to arrive each Friday, check out the Bloom Report 24/7 News Feed!

Mary 

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  • "I don't know anyone in the industry that doesn't read the Bloom Report." -Ken Lewis, President, 4Kidz, Inc.

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Film Review by Julia DeKorte

Taking Flight

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(Note from Mary: Our ace book reviewer, Julia DeKorte, has added films to our review section!  If you have suggestions for books and films not yet reviewed, just let us know! She is reviewing titles that have been out for awhile as well as new releases.)

 

 

In Moonbot Studios’ Emmy-nominated, heartwarming short film, Taking Flight, Tony, a young boy, learns all about the power of imagination. After being dropped off at his grandfather’s house, he expects another boring, restless day until an old photograph of his father when he was Tony’s age catches his eye. In the photo, his father and his grandfather are pictured with an old red wagon, the same one Tony used to closer inspect the photo!

 

Tony’s grandfather asks him if his father had ever told him about the adventures the two of them used to go on in that red wagon, and, because he hadn’t, Tony’s grandfather decides to show him! The two are immediately transported to faraway lands – a menacing jungle with monkeys flying about, a raging river where they have to avoid alligators, a small plane that the two have to parachute out of, and of course, the adventure to top all adventures, space!

When his father returns, he sees Tony living through the same memories he himself made as a child, and the three embark on one last adventure together – back to space, but this time to fight off aliens!  READ MORE...

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Cartoon of the Week from... Steve Markey, Hog Wild Toys

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If you don't know Steve, here's a very entertaining interview with him! 

Backstory on this amusing feature:  Bob Fuhrer suggested we add Cartoon of the Week to the Bloom Report and our readers are loving it! 

Have a cartoon or a joke to share with your colleagues? Send it to me at mary@chitag.com! Can't wait to see what you've got! 

Financial and Legal

 

Giochi Preziosi Group has acquired the doll and accessories business of Muñecas Arias, the Spanish doll brand created more than 45 years ago in Castalla. The acquisition is in line with the strategy of the Group to create a solid, broad baseline of own property brands that will allow the business of Arias to grow in the Spanish, European and worldwide market.

 

Jumbodiset Group acquires Yulu. Jumbodiset and Yulu have been working closely over the last few years and are taking the next step in their strong collaboration. As part of the integration of Yulu, both founders and directors of Yulu, Jochem van Rijn and Thijmende Schipper, have joined the company. Jochem will lead the International Business Development operation, whilst Thijmen will be part of the Product Development...

Lunar X, a future-forward media company dedicated to investing in and elevating digital-first content into globally loved franchises, has announced the acquisition of Sunnyside Up Studios, a leading animation studio specialising in 2D and 3D children’s content, receiving over 2b YouTube views a year. 

BBC Studios targets global acquisitions as strategy to double in size takes shape. The commercial arm of the UK public broadcaster has focused almost all of its investment on UK production groups over the past decade, with recent deals seeing the company take a minority stake in Small Axe producer, Turbine Studios, and It also recently took full ownership of Inside The Factory outfit Voltage TV and acquired a 25% stake...

TikTok Chief Executive Shou Zi Chew will appear before the U.S. Energy and Commerce Committee in March, as lawmakers scrutinize the Chinese-owned video-sharing app. Chew will testify before the committee on March 23, which will be his first appearance before a congressional committee, said Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the Republican chair of the panel, in a statement on Monday.

US Commerce Dept calls for Apple, Google to allow more stores on their platforms. The US Department of Commerce is calling on Congress to help expand the mobile app store market. In a new report, the department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) accused Apple and Google of having individual monopolies on app stores for mobile devices, saying they both "play a significant...

 

India: Govt hikes import duty on toys to 70% to boost domestic manufacturing. The government on Wednesday increased the import duty on toys and its components to 70 per cent with a view to cut inbound shipments of these products and boost domestic manufacturing activities. Similarly, import duty on bicycles has also been hiked to 35 per cent from 30 per cent, according to a Union Budget document. 

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Stories, Comments, and Advice

 

Rick Derr from Learning Express explains how to keep consumers shopping local by following the principles of ‘Teams, Products and Wow’. In his last column, Rick told us that the last 10 days of trading in 2022 went from sales of woe to sales are GO. In this month’s column, he tells us how the positive momentum continued into 2023, with sales in the first week of January well above past norms, and he explains what...

Layoffs at Hasbro may be a sign that the high-flying toy industry’s coming back down to Earth. The pandemic was a real boon to the toy industry, what with every kid in the country cooped up at home. Over the first two years of COVID, toy sales in the U.S. grew by around 33%, according to figures from analysts at the NPD Group. But last year was a bit of a comedown, with sales declining by 0.2%

Want box-office success? Focus on these character traits. A new report from The Center for Scholars & Storytellers at UCLA explores character strengths and the impact they have on box-office performance of modern kids movies. Children are spending a significant portion of their time consuming media— which is a good thing for those who make content; a potential concern for parents whose kids consume it; and...

Mars craters and cracks create adorable image of a teddy bear in latest NASA image. So what caused the adorable tattoo-esque image on the planet's surface? According to the University of Arizona, it was formed by a series of structural changes that happened to line up in just the right way. The circle encompassing the bear's head is actually a surface fracture that could have been caused by the "settling of a deposit...

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History and Nostalgia

Who first thought of Baby Nancy Dolls? After the Watts Riots in 1965, Louis S. Smith II and Robert Hall joined with civil rights activists and community members to form Operation Bootstrap. The organization’s goal was empowerment and social and economic equity. In 1968, they launched Shindana Toys, a community-owned company with a mission to make toys that “reflect Black pride, Black talent, and...

 

Scan the Split-Second Matching Game from Parker Brothers. Released in 1970 from Parker Brothers, Scan challenged players to quickly compare graphic designs on two decks of cards and identify matching shapes, patterns, colours, or positions. The family-friendly card game accommodated 2 to 8 players, ages 9 to adult. 

 

Expand-O-Car Super Wheelies from Remco. In 1972, Remco released a remote-control car with a twist: it could be transformed from one type of dragster to another and back again. Each Expand-O-Car Super-Wheelie was tethered to a remote control powered by two D-size batteries. Two buttons on the battery case controlled the Super-Wheelie. 

 

Magnavox Odyssey 2. Released in 1978, the Magnavox Odyssey 2 was a follow-up video game console to 1972’s Odyssey. The second-generation model included an alpha-numeric keyboard, used joy sticks for gameplay, and featured a colour television for visual display. Magnavox’s 1980 catalogue for the Odyssey 2 showcased the library of available game cartridges for the console. 

 

All Aboard! The Love Boat action figure line and playset from Mego. From the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s, ABC’s The Love Boat television show provided an antidote to any wintertime stay-at-home blues. Over nine seasons and 250 episodes, the beloved Love Boat crew and an array of guest stars set a weekly course for adventure and romance on the tropical high seas. 

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Licensing and Entertainment 

Disney+ and Lucasfilm are expanding the Star Wars galaxy in more ways than one, curating a list of nine animation studios from around the world that have been invited to create Star Wars shorts, each in a different style, for the second season of their Star Wars: Visions anthology. In the mix for this round are Cartoon Saloon (Ireland), Aardman (UK), Triggerfish (South Africa), El Guiri (Spain), Punkrobot (Chile),...

Canadian premiere for Paw Patrol spin-off series Rubble & Crew. Produced by Spin Master Entertainment, the highly anticipated spin-off series from Paramount‘s pre-school franchise Paw Patrol follows the adventures of fan-favourite English bulldog Rubble and his construction crew family.

Mattel and Minecraft collaborated for the launch of the Minecraft Creator Series Camp Enderwood DLC Map and a full range of companion toys. Camp Enderwood is a digital destination developed in partnership between Mattel, Minecraft, and Cyclone Designs. Kids can download the new map full of new minigames for free on the Minecraft Marketplace. In the new map, Campers can take part in the Glamper...

Tonies is kick-starting 2023 with new releases including Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom and Disney’s Lilo & Stitch. Disney blockbuster Brave also makes its Tonies debut with the empowering story of Princess Merida, while the hugely successful Lilo & Stitch movie and TV Disney franchise is making its way to audio, along with popular pre-school TV show Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom.

British broadcaster Sky Kids has acquired The Singalings, an out-of-this-world musical preschool series from Snipple Originals, the London-based content division of Snipple Animation in the Philippines. Animated in 2D, The Singalings (26 x five minutes) is about three extraterrestrials who are exploring Earth for the first time, and each episode kicks off with an original song. Leaning into the power of earworms...

WildBrain has secured representation rights to Mediawan Kids & Family’s new superhero adventure series, Petronix Defenders, in the U.S. and Canada. Under its dedicated North America office, WildBrain CPLG will build a cross-category consumer products program aimed at kids aged 4-8 yrs, with target categories including publishing, apparel and role-play accessories, alongside digital gaming and commercial tie-ins.

Happy “Renew” Year! Renewals Announced for Six Precious Moments Licensing Partners. Why should auld acquaintance be forgot when one can happily renew them instead? As a company which has been dedicated to helping people commemorate life’s special moments for almost a half century, Precious Moments, Inc is pleased to ring in the new year by announcing renewed licensing agreements with six key licensees:...

With its brands FAO Schwarz, Sharper Image, Discovery Toys and Discovery #Mindblown, ThreeSixty Group welcomes visitors to its stand at the Nuremberg TF this year, as it expands across the European market. The numerous lines on offer across its product portfolio have been designed to inspire children’s imaginations and creativity, and all enjoy great popularity with kids of all ages. 

Two French powerhouses, APC Kids, part of leading co-production and distribution group APC Studios, and leading content creator TeamTO, have joined forces on the new action-adventure comedy series Jade Armor. The partnership will see APC Kids distribute the series worldwide, excluding the Americas and China.

Moonbug Entertainment, a subsidiary of Candle Media, has announced the global launch of CoComelon HugMees, a new collection from leading plush brand Squishmallows by Jazwares. Following a successful launch in the US, the collection will be shown at Nuremberg Toy Fair from February 1st-5th. The CoComelon HugMees by Squishmallows is the latest addition to the squad of high-quality plush toys...

Int'l licensing company and studio Animaccord has partnered with Giochi Preziosi to develop a new Masha and the Bear toy collection which will launch later this year in Italy, Portugal, Turkey, and Greece, as well as in other European countries in 2024. Production of the new toy line will include licensed products such as plush toys, dolls and play sets. Moreover, in 2024 Giochi Preziosi will extend the product...

LA-based Legendary Entertainment has partnered with HarperCollins Productions to make a live-action feature film based on classic picture book series Danny and the Dinosaur. Caroline Fraser, head of HarperCollins Productions and a producer on the film, confirmed the deal on LinkedIn yesterday. Legendary is financing the production, and HarperCollins optioned the film rights to the publishing franchise...

Toronto’s WildBrain has acquired worldwide distribution rights (excluding Ireland) to CG-animated series Ray of Sunshine. Dublin-based Daily Madness (Ollie) produces the show, which launched locally on RTÉjr at the end of 2022. Aimed at kids ages three to six, Ray of Sunshine (26 x seven minutes) stars an outgoing seven-year-old who engages with his eclectic neighbors in the heart of downtown Dublin. 

Hunter Price International has signed with Paramount Consumer Products UK to develop an extensive range of consumer products based on Paw Patrol. The partnership will see Hunter Price create a wide-ranging product collection for Paw Patrol, the leading pre-school brand created by Spin Master Entertainment and airing on Nick Jr and Milkshake! The product collection will have a key focus on creative play...

 

BBC Studios has agreed a global partnership with Tomy International to grow its licensed toy category with the addition of the multi-award-winning children’s TV property Bluey. The animated Blue Heeler pup will feature on a brand-new range of Toomies bath toys, launching with a line based on the Sing and Swim format. Swimming Bluey is planned to go on sale in the UK, US, Canada and Australia from Q3 2023,...

New DC Studios heads James Gunn and Peter Safran released their plans for the first ten DC movie and television projects they have in development, and updated status on a couple of previously announced projects.  Their new slate includes Superman: Legacy, The Authority and eight other projects, all of which will be set in a shared universe with characters that migrate among movies, TV series, animation, and games.

Superights—the sales division of French prodco Superprod—has finalized more pre-sales for upcoming tween sitcom Home Sweet Rome!. The distributor has just sold it to pubcasters RAI (Italy) and ARD (Germany), which will join the BBC and Canada’s Family Channel in running the live-action series after it premieres on HBO Max in the US later this year.  

Paris-based distributor Kids First has inked broadcast deals for CG-animated series Hello Kitty: Super Style! in Europe, East Africa and North America. New broadcast partners include Viaplay (Scandinavia, the Baltics, Poland and Benelux); Super RTL (Germany); Canal Panda (Portugal); Canal+ (Poland and Ethiopia), and CBC Kids (Canada). Aimed at kids five to eight, Hello Kitty: Super Style! (52 x 11 minutes) follows...

For the first time, Dino Ranch Live is hitting the road and will appear in more than 60 cities beginning 24th March. The fun-filled, family friendly and action-packed live show is based on the hit animated series seen on Disney Junior and follows the adventures of the Cassidy family and junior Ranchers Jon, Min, Miguel, their loveable dinos Blitz, Clover and Tango and the mischievous Tin Horn Trio. 

The modern take on the 80s girl-power icon, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is set to inspire a new generation of young fans and will premiere on Pop on Monday 6th February. From Eisner Award-winning author and executive producer ND Stevenson, She-Ra is a genre-smashing series full of adventure, fun, comedy and sincere heart. The trailblazing property originally debuted in 1985 to satisfy...

Faber-Castell is partnering with The World of Eric Carle Brand to launch a collection of craft and activity kits. This spring, Faber-Castell’s Creativity for Kids brand will bring arts-based products based on Eric Carle’s famous books to shelves. This alliance for the World of Eric Carle Brand and Creativity for Kids was brought together by the exclusive global licensing agent Joester Loria Group

 

YuMe Toys, a division of the Maxx Group of companies, is launching its own range of design-led, premium quality collectible toys globally throughout 2023. The 7.5” collectible ranges will be developed for a number of YuMe Toys’ licensing partners, and features bespoke artwork, style and design. Marketed to the consumer as limited-edition collections, new lines will be unveiled throughout the year. 

 

Moonbug Entertainment is showcasing Mexican culture with Nina (working title), a spinoff of its popular CoComelon franchise that features one of main character JJ’s best friends. Mexican-American toddler Nina has been part of the CoComelon crew since 2019. In her own series for preschoolers, she and her family’s culture, traditions and daily lives will be showcased through three-minute nursery rhymes.

3D Sparrow expands licensing for kids’ show ‘Booba’. 3D Sparrow, the animation studio behind the British kids’ show Booba, has inked licensing deals for the show’s fourth season. Booba is an animated TV series about Booba, a hobgoblin who wants to explore the world around him. All four seasons of Booba are currently available on Netflix in the US and the UK and ITV has picked up seasons two and three for...

 

Firefly Brand Management appointed licensing agent for Sunny Bunnies brand. Firefly Brand Management is joining forces with Media I.M. Incorporated to become the North American licensing agent for the company’s Sunny Bunnies. The CGI animated series, which has been beloved by more than 4 million viewers across more than 160 countries, is broadcast across top streaming services like YouTube, Netflix...

 

ZAG, Horst Brandstätter Group ink deal for Playmobil X ‘Miraculous’ toy line. ZAG is adding a new licensing deal to its books. The company teamed up  with the Horst Brandstätter Group to create a new line of Playmobil toys based on the hit show Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir. The deal was brokered through WildBrain CPLG, which represents ZAG in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

WildBrain CPLG extends Hasbro/eOne representation to Italy and India. WildBrain is consolidating its representation of Hasbro and eOne properties with the addition of Italy (Hasbro and eOne) and India (Hasbro only) to its remit. Additionally, WildBrain CPLG’s existing representation deal has been renewed, under which the agency handles Hasbro/eOne’s portfolio of brands in Central and Eastern Europe, Benelux...

Full Moon Features launches premium toy division, ‘Full Moon Horror Line’. Full Moon Features (FMF) has announced the launch of the Full Moon Horror Line, its new, premium toy division, creating, developing, and producing a breadth of new, high-end replicas and figures, along with innovative toys and merchandise based off of FMF’s vast catalog of legacy franchises and licenses. 

Go for the goal and showcase your love for Ted Lasso with new Build-a-Bear gifts and collectibles inspired by the show that has captured the hearts of millions. Add a football kit, garbage water teacup or Biscuits with the Boss wristie, priced between $44 – $63.50, for even more fun! The perfect addition to your daily biscuit delivery.  This iconic collection will be available exclusively online at buildabear.com January 31st.  

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People of Play

James Zahn - THE CHANGING TIDES OF THE TOY INDUSTRY. It was 30 years ago today that an unlikely source* first pointed out to me that the words “edit” and “tide” represent the same thing: change. This year is a prime example of that as the tides are turning when it comes to the global toy industry calendar, particularly here in the U.S. where some major edits have taken place. 

With a 2023 Oscar nomination in his pocket and a new overall deal at Netflix, veteran animated film director Chris Williams is feeling bullish about his prospects for pushing the boundaries of storytelling in 2024. Williams is the capitan (er, director) of The Sea Beast, a Netflix Original movie that is nominated for Best Animated Feature at this year’s Academy Awards. The film was a “monster” hit for Netflix, where it ...

 

Lee Allentuck talks, licensing, games, and toys on the ‘Power Kid Podcast’. In this week’s episode of the “Power Kid Podcast,” host Phil Albritton of Power Kid Design welcomes Lee Allentuck to the show. Over the course of his career, Allentuck has done it all, from leading Global Gaming at Hasbro to serving as Licensing Market Lead for LEGO to founding Raising Nerd. He currently serves as an Innovation Scout for...

Rebecca Rørmark has been promoted to the newly created role of senior VP, head of streaming marketing, for Europe, Middle East and Africa at Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD), reporting into Patrizio Spagnoletto, global chief marketing officer for direct-to-consumer. WBD is currently preparing for the launch of its global streaming platform that will amalgamate HBO Max and Discovery+ content into a single user...

Licensing expert offers wellbeing workshopsHannah Holt spent well over a decade working in licensing. “I have so many fond memories of the licensing industry,” she told Toy World. “I spent 15 years of my life surrounded by wonderful people, worked on some amazing brands, from Vegas to ExCeL; and I’ve experienced all the highs and the lows.” Hannah recognises that the fast pace of industries such as licensing and toys...

Madeline McIntosh, one of the most powerful figures in American book publishing, is stepping down from her role as chief executive of Penguin Random House U.S. The announcement comes during a time of great turbulence for Penguin Random House, by far the country’s largest book publisher. Markus Dohle, who was the chief executive of Penguin Random House, and McIntosh’s boss, resigned from his position...

 

British prodco Aardman (Shaun the Sheep) has promoted Laura Taylor-Williams into a brand-new head of digital and strategic development position. She’s charged with managing AVOD, FAST and EST (electronic sell-through) sales for the studio’s original content library, as well as for third-party IPs Aardman represents, such as Happy the Hoglet, a 26 x seven-minute, 2D-animated series from Ireland’s Paper Owl Films.

Guru Studio taps former WildBrain manager for overseas sales. Guru Studio is expanding its sales team as its original intellectual property library and third-party acquisitions continue to grow. Jennifer Oppenheimer joins the sales team as International Sales and Licensing Manager. Oppenheimer previously managed content partnerships for Asia Pacific, U.S. Digital, and Global Home Entertainment at WildBrain. 

 

Sambro appoints new chief commercial officer. Sambro has promoted Eric Markus to the newly created role of CCO as the company looks to drive UK and pan-European growth. As chief commercial officer, Eric will continue in his role of leading Sambro’s European sales operations, whilst assuming the incremental role of leading the company’s UK sales operation to growth and success, heading up what will become a newly...

Plus-Plus UK & Ireland appoints Claire Coekin as sales manager. Following the incorporation of the company’s new UK & Ireland subsidiary and successful launch at London Toy Fair, Plus-Plus has confirmed the appointment of Claire Coekin as UK sales manager. Claire joins Plus-Plus with over 12 years of toy industry experience gained in sales roles at Spin Master and Funrise International. 

 

Mayur Pattni joins Funrise International. Mayur Pattni joins the growing Funrise International team beginning February 1st, when he’ll be in attendance at Nuremberg Toy Fair. He joins Funrise with 15 years of experience in marketing and brand management and will be working alongside Annie Sullivan, general manager Northern Europe and Sebastien Cardi, general manager, Southern Europe to support...

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Companies and Brands

Mattel is commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Matchbox brand and seven decades of die cast adventures by reflecting on its legacy and looking to the future. To celebrate, the brand is introducing a line of special limited-edition vehicles, paying tribute to Matchbox’s heritage of inventing highly detailed and realistic vehicles that have inspired generations of kids while remaining a trusted brand for collectors.

 

This yr, Hasbro celebrated 59 years of the iconic brand by presenting early digital renders of some upcoming action figures from its G.I. Joe Classified Series lineup. Retailers can look for the following characters to join the ranks later this yr. Each product from this wave of reveals is inspired by the 1982 G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero collection of 3.75-in scale action figures and vehicles but upgraded to the modern, premium...

The Zinc e-scooter brand has introduced the UK’s first seated e-scooter, the Zinc Venture Folding E-Scooter, with a top speed of 15.5mph and a battery range of 15 miles. Boasting many of the features you would expect from a bike including a seat, a frame and mudguards, the Zinc Venture takes all of the benefits of a bike and puts them into an e-scooter.

Mattel’s game show, Pictionary has been renewed for a second season on FOX First Run.  Hosted by Jerry O’Connell, each episode of Pictionary is 30 mins long. Much like the board game, the TV series features two teams as they try to guess what their teammates are drawing. Each team is helmed by a celebrity, such as Kate Flannery from The Office; Matt Iseman, the host of American Ninja Warrior; and Olympic figure...

Kroeger Inc. and Jazwares are expanding their distribution partnership to include Jazwares Costume Play products. Under the extended pact, Kroeger will provide sales and inventory support for specialty and mid-tier retailers in the U.S. and Canada in time for Halloween this year.

“‘We are honored and excited to expand our sales and distribution relationship with Jazwares, one of the leading...

The Mom’s Choice Awards has named Castle Panic as among the best in family-friendly media, products and services. The MCA evaluation process uses a propriety methodology in which entries are scored on a number of elements including production quality, design, educational value, entertainment value, originality, appeal, and cost.

Tesco announces management job cuts. In what it has acknowledged as ‘a difficult but necessary decision to make’, Tesco has introduced a new efficiency plan, including a revised in-store management structure. The store changes will put over 2,000 roles at risk. The retailer has been introducing the new management structure over the past two years in approximately 350 of its smaller superstores and will now...

 

The studio has well and truly cracked the formula for musical movie hits. And now, it’s working to translate that success to the small screen with a more modern approach to making music for new animated series headed to Disney Channel and Disney+ in February.  Jay Stutler, Disney TV Animation’s SVP of music, is leaning on some tried-and-true tricks and also some fresh new strategies to help...

 

Fan favorite fidget brand, NeeDoh, launches the seasonal collection this Spring, beginning with two Valentine’s Day NeeDoh designs followed by multi-season drops throughout the year. A juggernaut in the fidget world, NeeDoh has built a reputation for creating high quality, satisfying and interactive products of all shapes and sizes.

 

Vivid Goliath is excited to take its first steps into the nursery market with Modimi; a future focused range of infant toys that grows with baby to toddlers. With sustainability at its core, the new range from Vivid Goliath is made from durable, recycled materials and offers a wide variety of sensory and cognitive play experiences without compromising on fun. Based on the Montessori principle that focuses on the most...

Eolo Toys is set to showcase its new Gummymals at the Spielwarenmesse trade fair in Nuremberg this week, with the new range launching for spring/summer 23. Gummymals is a squeezable toy, featuring rubbery TPR material which gives the sensation of touching an actual gummy. The range of bright-coloured Gummymals is targeted at children aged 4 to 8, and comes with sensory features, so kids will be able...

 

Toikido…what’s next? CEO and founder Darran Garnham speaks to Rachael Simpson-Jones about why it’s so hard to pin down what Toikido does – and why it does it so well. For many, 2022 was a year of challenges and tightened belts. For Toikido, however, it was one of exceptional growth. The team has grown from just two at the start of last year – founder and CEO Darran and CPO Jeff Hall – to 12 at the start of this year. 

 

Gifts and gadgets retailer, Gift Universe has embraced employee ownership, putting its future success in the hands of its employees. The co. says its decision to transition to an employee owner business decision was based on careful consideration of several factors as the founder, Paul Kraftman, approaches retirement in the next few years. The business is now majority owned by an Employee Ownership Trust...

JAKKS Pacific is launching its latest brand this week. The company’s Ami Amis line of collectible, knitted plush friends will debut on Feb. 1 at Walmart stores across the U.S. Wave 1 includes 30 cozy, knitted characters developed across four themes inspired by the joys in life: food, music, animals, and nostalgia.

Transformers Rise of the Beasts: Hasbro reveals new toy line. Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is coming to theaters this June, and in preparation of the film's upcoming release, Hasbro has unveiled a new line of Transformers toys to go along with the movie. Four new types of Beast Alliance toys will hit store shelves on April 10, including the Battle Changers, Beast Weaponizers, Beast Combiners, and Beast Battle...

Two in three kids want toys to better reflect real-world feelings: LEGO Friends release new characters with complex emotions. The re-imagined LEGO Friends characters are more representative of the world that today’s kids navigate, including neurodivergence, mental health conditions, gender, culture, ethnicity, physical traits and abilities, whilst the stories they play out also more representative of the real-world...

Mattel extends inclusivity in the Barbie range. Mattel’s Barbie brand continually strives to offer one of the most inclusive doll portfolios on the market and this year, the brand continues to make strides to further inclusivity by introducing a Chelsea doll with Scoliosis. Chelsea, Barbie’s little sister, is core to the Barbie world and with the release of Chelsea with Scoliosis – featuring a doll with curvature in the spine...

 

Funko Games to expand presence in Australia and New Zealand. Funko Games is teaming up with Big Wheel Toys and Let’s Play Games to extend its reach throughout Oceania. This is the latest expansion for Funko Games as the company continues to grow its global presence. The toy and games industry is rising in both Australia and New Zealand. According to Statista, the toy market in Oceania is currently worth...

 

Asmodee will release 'The Werewolves of Miller's Hollow: The Pact'. Asmodee will release The Werewolves of Miller's Hollow: The Pact, an updated deluxe edition of the classic party game, into retail on February 10, 2023. This box collects The Werewolves of Miller's Hollow base game and its three expansions into a single deluxe master set. A version of this box set was released back in 2015 as Werewolves: Le Pacte.

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Gaming: Digital, Video, Hardware, and Development

God of War Ragnarok has sold 11 million copies in 3 months. According to Sony Santa Monica, God of War Ragnarok has sold 11 million copies in its first three months of release. That's a pretty big milestone to hit, and further goes to show how momentous the action franchise has become since the 2018 reboot. With its first launch week, the PlayStation 5 game sold 5.1 million copies, becoming the fastest-selling first party launch in PlayStation's whole history.

 

PlayStation 5: What to expect from Sony's console in 2023. Spider-Man 2 and PlayStation VR2 are exciting, but much of Sony’s 2023 is a mysteryIt’s January, and do you have any idea what’s coming to your PlayStation 5 in 2023? Sony’s been pretty quiet so far, but between major accessory launches, the rollout of an HBO show, and some notable exclusivity partnerships, the PlayStation brand has a lot going for it in the coming year. Read on for everything we know is coming from Sony and PlayStation in the next 12 months.

Highlighted Press Releases

Not this week! 

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Safety and Counterfeiting

 

A study conducted by KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital found that many parents are buying toys that are not age-appropriate for their children. For example, some parents believed that the toys they were purchasing would benefit their child educationally, and thought that their child was old enough to play with the toy safely. This resulted in a 15% rise in toy-related injuries in children under the age of 5 in 2013, compared to the same period in 2012.

Associations, Shows, Awards, Events, and Festivals

The International Istanbul Toy Fair will take place at Tüyap Fair, Convention and Congress Center from 28th February-3rd March. The exhibition will see visitors gather together with leading toy brands and suppliers under one roof. Companies will have the opportunity to exhibit their newest and most popular products, while visitors can discover the latest lines to help them achieve their commercial goals.

 

Ninety delegates will take part in the 2023 Brand Licensing Europe’s Retail Mentoring Programme, a record number and 16 more than last year. New retailers include Dunelm, My 1st Years, Marie Curie, Longleat, HMV and Frasers Group. New Look and DFS return after taking part for the first time last year, and Ann Summers and Claire’s are both returning after a gap in attendance.  

 

Chicken vs Hotdog from Big Potato Games and Dominic Yard was announced as Inventor Toy of the Year at this year’s UK Toy Inventors’ Dinner.  Inaugurated in 2013, the W.I.T.T.Y. (Winning Inventor Toy of The Year) Prize is presented to the inventors of a product introduced in the preceding year and judged by the attendees to be the most exciting and inventive. 

This spring, Nickelodeon will rollout a UK nationwide activity plan, inspired by the popular pre-school animated series, Paw Patrol, created by Spin Master Entertainment. Paw Patrol on a Stroll is an activity-led walk that nurseries, child carers and families can take part in with children, and will take place between 22nd-26th May  to raise money for Dogs Trust.

 

Ahead of next week’s Spring Fair,  Bhavika Pattni tells Sam Giltrow how the show is attracting a growing number of retailers looking to expand their offerings to include toys and games. While the toy fairs in London and Nuremberg command huge visitor numbers from toy retailers, Spring Fair attracts many people from across a wide range of retail sectors including gifts, fashion and homewares. 

The winners of the 2023 ToyAwards were unveiled during the Press Preview for the 72nd Spielwarenmesse, with six outstanding new product ideas honoured with the prize for innovation. As an important quality seal, the ToyAward enjoys worldwide recognition. The prizewinning new products were selected by a 13-member international expert jury and rated in terms of comprehensibility of the product...

E3 2023 will feature little to no presence from the three console platform holders...  neither Xbox, Sony nor Nintendo will be an official part of E3 2023, or have a booth on the showfloor at the Los Angeles Convention Center, when the annual trade show returns in June. 2023 will be the first year E3 has been physically hosted since 2019, with the last three years replaced by digital events due to the pandemic. 

 

Toymaster has updated some job titles within the team to clarify to members what their responsibilities are, both internally and externally, to fit more in line with the roles they are fulfilling. “As we continually look to improve the service we offer to our Members and Suppliers, some of the roles performed by members of the team here in the office have evolved,” explained managing director Yogi Paramar.

 

UK Toy Fair 2023 – the magic is back. The 69th annual Toy Fair returned to Olympia London last week, welcoming back more than 250 exhibiting companies and thousands of visitors from around the world. The organisers report that the sold-out show welcomed just under 60 new exhibitors and increased its footprint by maximising the full space in the National Gallery to accommodate extra stands.

The BTHA has announced that the annual Toy Trust Media Auction has raised a colossal £107,100 during Toy Fair 2023, a record for the event. The auction sees airtime and printed media slots generously donated by leading online, print and trade journals, while major retailers also added valuable promotional slots in their catalogues, resulting in £100,000+ of media space to bid for.

Anna Marsh, CEO of production and distribution giant StudioCanal, will give one of the main keynote speeches for this year’s MIPTV, the global TV market confab held in Cannes in April. Marsh will address the international television industry at Cannes’ Palais des Festivals on Monday, April 17, the opening day of MIPTV 2023. Her Media Mastermind keynote will explore the increasing crossover between different mediums...

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RIP - Rest in Play - Remembering Those that have Passed

If you know of a colleague's passing, please send us information so we may share with our colleagues. Archives can be found HERE.  For those we lost in 2022, may they rest in peace and play.

Denni Rivette - A Tribute from Steve Rehkemper: A Vietnam Veteran and a toy industry veteran, Denni Rivette, passed away in Hong Kong on January 20, 2023 at the age of 80. Denni was a gifted illustrator and product designer throughout his long career which started in the 70's at Marvin Glass and Associates where he created many playful products, one of which has endured the test of time and is still sold today, the Hot Lips Telephone. After leaving Marvin Glass in the early 80's, Denni started a design consultancy in Chicago where he worked for many toy and consumer products companies. One of his earliest independent playthings was called Glazers, a squirtgun built into sunglasses. In the 90's Denni moved to Hong Kong to work for Tai Nam Industrial Co Ltd where he designed a continuous stream of toys across all categories for countless customers until he retired in 2007. Denni is survived by his wife Tammy Leung and was an extremely happy fun loving person until just days before his passing.

Julian Page passed away suddenly on January 3rd. Julian spent over 25 years in the toy industry, holding a variety of positions with Hasbro, Mega Brands and Mattel. Most recently, he has been working as National Account manager at VTech, a role he held for over six years.

At just 54 years old, Julian leaves his wife Vicky and two daughters, whom he often referred to as his ‘Three Page Girls’.

Julian was a great personality and was well respected, not just within the companies he worked at, but by all his customers past and present, his colleagues at VTech and his many friends within the UK toy trade and around the world.

A keen Coventry City supporter and avid golfer, Julian could often be found taking part in toy trade golf functions. As well as being a regular supporter of these charity events, he was the proud winner of the BTHA golf day in 2019.

On the Tuesday evening of London Toy Fair, friends and acquaintances came together to raise a glass in Julian’s memory, a gathering which close friend Tony Mace described as “a great turnout” which highlighted what a wonderful industry the toy trade is. “Julian would have been so proud of the respect he had from all his friends,” added Tony.

VTech Sales director, Graham Canning, commented: “Julian will be missed greatly and remembered dearly.”

The funeral will be held on Friday 10th February at St Johns Church, Warwick Road, Kenilworth, CV8 1HY at 1.00pm, and all are welcome.

The family has asked that mourners dress smartly (Julian loved his suits) and wear a splash of sky blue for his love of Coventry City. Family flowers only are requested, although those that wish  can make a donation to a fundraising page here.

The family has started raising money for a charity very close to Julian’s heart, acknowledging his lifetime as an avid fundraiser. Julian was diagnosed with having type 2 diabetes back in 2015, then discovered he had type 1 in 2017. Diabetes was a contributing factor to his passing, and the family would like to raise as much as possible for Diabetes UK, in Julian’s memory, to help raise awareness and knowledge around this debilitating disease

Annie Wersching, the actress who played Tess in The Last of Us, has died aged 45. Deadline shared the news alongside a statement from her husband, Stephen Full, who said Wersching taught her family to chase adventure and recalled how she was capable of finding "wonder in the simplest moment."

"She didn't require music to dance. She taught us not to wait for adventure to find you. 'Go find it. It's everywhere.' And find it we shall," he wrote.

Although perhaps best known in the game industry for her role in The Last of Us, Wersching also appeared in a number of television shows including Star Trek: Picard, The Rookie, 24, and the Vampire Diaries.

Friends and colleagues have paid tribute to Wersching on social media, including actor Troy Baker, who played Joel in The Last of Us and its sequel.

"Never waste an opportunity to tell someone you are grateful for the simple gift of knowing them. Annie, so much of Tess is what you imbued into the character," wrote Baker. "Your strength is her strength and in some way, you live on in not only her but the many roles you brought to life."

Naughty Dog co-president Neil Druckmann, who co-created the franchise, also posted a tribute.

"I miss my silly friend who helped bring Tess to life," said Druckmann. "Annie, you left us way too soon. You will forever be part of the The Last of Us and Naughty Dog family.

A Go Fund Me campaign has been created to help support Wersching's family.

Lloyd Morrisett “Sesame Street” co-creator Lloyd Morrisett has died at age 93, Sesame Workshop announced Monday.

“Lloyd leaves an outsized and indelible legacy among generations of children the world over, with ‘Sesame Street’ only the most visible tribute to a lifetime of good work and lasting impact,” Sesame Workshop tweeted. “Sesame Street” was created by Morrisett, a psychologist who was vice president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and television producer Joan Ganz Cooney. They brought on Jim Henson and his Muppets to help bring the show to life. The first episode ran on November 10, 1969.

Morrisett was a co-founder of Children’s Television Workshop, now called Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind “Sesame Street,” and served as its chairman of the board of trustees for more than 30 years before becoming a Lifetime Honorary Trustee, according to the Workshop.

Marilyn Maher - Longtime CFO of game and toy distributor ACD Distribution Marilyn Maher passed away in Henderson, Nevada on January 2 after a brief illness.  She was 71.  The Maher family had gathered to celebrate the holidays in Nevada where she and her husband planned to retire. Maher became Chief Financial Officer of ACD after the purchase of the company in 2007 by her son Robert Maher, Jr. (who is CEO, see "Interview with ACD’s New Owner"), and had served in the role since then.  She and her husband, Robert Sr., have been splitting time between Middleton, Wisconsin (where ACD is headquartered) and their home in Oak Brook, Illinois since the acquisition.  Earlier in her career Maher also served as Executive Director of the YWCA in Freeport, Illinois.

Worldwide Magazines Weekly Top Stories

Added Friday Morning Chicago Time. Check Back for Complete Lists.

 

Toy Trade Monthly Issues​​

Adventure Media & Events (US)

aNb Media (US) 

Toyworld (UK)

Licensing.biz Powered by Toyworld

ICv2: The Business of Geek Culture (US) 

Non-OGL Fantasy RPG Lines
Hasbro to Lay Off 1,000 Employees
WotC Folds: OGL 1.0a Abides
'Fantasy AGE' Enters Its 2nd Edition
Rolling for Initiative -- Well That Was Quick, and Four Picks for RPG Week
Preview: 'Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves' Gaming Accessories
ICv2 RPG Week 2023
Paizo Runs Out of 'Pathfinder Core Rulebooks' until April 2023
Osprey Plans Four RPG Books for 2023
Accessorize for Adventure, Part 1

Nación Juguetes (Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Chile & Spain)

The Bugg Report (Australia)

TOTAL LICENSING

Casual Game Revolution

News Flash: Two new Lord of the Rings games have been announced, Plan B is releasing a travel-sized edition of Azul, and a new version of Fluxx will be released next month.

Video of the Week 

Azhelle Wade Interviews Mary Kay Morrison at
the Chicago Toy and Game F
air! 
The Surprising Link Between Play And Long-Term Memory
Have you ever heard of a guide-book for grandparents? Well Mary Kay Morrison created one with the help of her 12 amazing grandchildren. As founder and director of Humor Quest, Mary Kay Morrison is dedicated to the mission of exploring the links between cognitive research and humor. In this video, Mary Kay Morrison helps us take a look into two of her books. Learn the surprising link between emotions, play, and long-term memory…and take a peek inside o Mary Kay’s latest book, Legacy of Laughter: A #Grandparent Guide and Playbook. Hit play to learn more about Mary Kay's work and how it can help improve your life.

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Thank you for being a reader of the Bloom Report. — Mary and Graeme

 

Founding Editor and Publisher (1998-2020, Retired): Philip Bloom

We are honored to carry on Phil's 22 year legacy and continue the Bloom Report. Phil has been a mensch

and we've loved working with him. Here is a fun and interesting interview with Phil.

If you would like to reach Phil: philip.bloom100@verizon.net   

Publisher: Mary Couzin, Chicago Toy & Game Group, Inc.

Managing Editor: Graeme Thomson

Assistant Editor: Patrick Fisher

Not only does the Bloom Report give you all the news you need to know...

we give you all the news you didn't know you needed to know!" -Phil Bloom

Do you have news to share? Send us a note! mary@chitag.com 

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