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February 9-16, 2024

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Welcome to Your Weekly News Brief!

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Happy Bloomin' Friday! 

Let’s talk about exhibiting, sponsoring, and attending POP Week (November 7-10th)! Tami Murphy and I will be at ToyFest in Las Vegas, and will be happy to help you select the best level of POPticipation for you and your teams! I'll give chocolate covered coffee beans to all who sign up (thanks, Garry and Michael for the genius trade show hack to avoid coffee lines!). It’s time to get POPpin’!

​Thank you for reading the Bloom Report here or on the Bloom Report 24/7 News FeedPlease support our work by advertising and/or setting up a POP profile.

Mary

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

  • The BLOOM REPORT is fantastic and it allows me to stay on top of all the breaking news in the Toy industry! - Wai Or, Longshore Ltd.

  • “I seriously look forward to Friday to learn most every update + more in the Industry. Priceless info! Thank you” -Michael Kohner, The Michael Kohner Corporation

  • "TBR is required reading for: inventors, manufacturers, retailers, marketers, suppliers, absolutely everyone!" - Robert Fuhrer, Founder, NEXTOY

  • If you are tired of these quotes, send me yours! 

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Companies of the Week - Learning Resources & hand2mind

Holiday Movie Set with their Employees Extras

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Rick Woldenberg with actress Tamara Feldman

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(Mary) While chatting with Rick Woldenberg and his team at Spielwarenmesse's Nuremberg Toy Fair, they mentioned that Learning Resources and hand2mind were the focal set of the Christmas movie about a reporter on an assignment to do a puff piece about a Christmas toy manufacturer and the charming toymaker who inspires her to search her heart and find true happiness. The film premiered on HULU during the holidays. The majority of the movie was filmed in the suburbs of Chicago, working with Learning Resources and hand2mind was a no-brainer for production, and Rick was more than happy to offer its warehouse, personnel, and even himself to support the production process. Rick said in his role as an extra, he was to be in the warehouse with a clipboard counting inventory, which is ironic since LR does not use clipboards nor do they manually count as everything is computerized. 

 

“It was our pleasure to host the production team, cast and crew of Reporting for Christmas at our warehouse and offices,” said Sari Winick, Learning Resources and hand2mind Chief Marketing Officer. “Over 60 of our employees served as extras in the film, which was fun for everyone, and much appreciated by the film’s production team. Since the release, we have held several watch parties at our offices, and celebrated the fact that ‘our movie’ was a top 10 release on Hulu this past Christmas season. Participating in the movie was a great experience for everyone at our family of companies.”

READ MORE... 

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Industry Commentary - Toy Association's Andy Keimach

What I’m Hearing! – Toy Association Events

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Welcome to my new bi-weekly message which I have entitled – What I’m Hearing!  Outreach, inclusion, and responsiveness to opportunities and issues have been the focus of my time thus far as President and Chief Executive of The Toy Association. To those of you that have taken the time to share your POV with me, thank you!  My goal is to demonstrate, through action, that you were heard. My lines of communication are public and open. I welcome engagement and the chance to learn from you and also to share what your association is doing to help your businesses succeed. 

 

On the heels of our recent announcement that we will hold an LA Fall Preview for the toy industry this September what I have heard ranges from:  “It’s about time!,” to “Great job,  thank you and how do we participate?”

 

For this Bloom Report issue, I thought it would be a good time to provide more details on the preview so that all those who are interested can begin their planning.

Throughout the month of September, The Toy Association will offer showroom space and networking opportunities for the industry at large at 2250 East Imperial Highway in El Segundo, CA. Our goal is to provide toy companies with an efficient way to show their long-lead lines to buyers during the important fall timeframe.

 

Key facts and dates about the LA Fall Preview are outlined...  READ MORE...

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All in the Family - The Valenta Family

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Rudy, Rudy, Antoinette and Michael  Valenta

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How did your family first enter the toy industry?  It all started back in the early 90s. As a child, we spent our summers in Japan going to school and visiting relatives. One year, our uncle gave us a toy set called Pythagoras, which provided hours and hours of entertainment through open-ended play for my siblings and me. They were opaque magnetic building tiles invented by a math teacher in Japan. They consisted of 5 shapes and would always click together. My parents would watch us play with these for hours – cooperatively with no fighting – and a light bulb clicked in my parents’ head with the realization that they needed to bring Magna-Tiles to kids in the US to enjoy.

 

My parents, Rudy and Noriko Valenta, decided to change careers and become entrepreneurs in the toy industry at that moment. It was about two years of persistent calls and letters from my parents to the manufacturing company in Japan before they decided to give my parents a chance to import Pythagoras to the US. In 1997, it finally happened, and Rudy and Noriko founded Valtech to launch a new product and create a new toy category called magnetic construction.

 

In Japan, Pythagoras has two meanings that didn’t translate well for the US. The 1st is loosely tied to the Pythagorean theorem, which they found that many consumers didn’t connect to the toy. 2nd, Japanese is a phonetic language, and the sound “pyta” is used to represent the clicking sound when two Magna-Tiles click together. Since we use the word “click” to represent the sound of Magna-Tiles connecting, Pythagoras as a brand in the US didn’t make as much sense as it did in Japan. After a few months of ideation and testing, Rudy and Noriko rebranded their product as Magna-Tiles in the US, and the rest is history.   READ MORE...

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Cartoon Lovers, Lexophiles & People in Need of a Smile! 

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Cartoons of the Week: Thank you to the person who wishes to remain anonymous for this week's squirrelly cartoon. 

Lexophile Lovers:  "My friend Jack says he can communicate with vegetables. That's right...Jack and the beans talk." Thank you, Jerry Cleary, for sharing with our readers! 

Memorable Quotes:

"Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering." -"Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace"

Toy Industry Word of Day: Dolly Parton  submitted by Kim Vandenbroucke. If you can think of a toy/game industry word not in our POPDictionary, add it and we will connect it to you POP profile, feature it here in an upcoming week and on POP's homepage! 

Have a cartoon, quote or a joke to share with your colleagues? Send it to me!  Mary

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Financial and Legal

American Girl doll will close its Madison-area corporate office this spring.  The popular toy brand American Girl, which was founded in the Madison area nearly 40 years ago, will be closing its corporate office in Middleton late this spring, the brand's parent company Mattel confirmed Thursday. According to Madison-based WMTV 15 News, the decision will affect about 30 jobs.

 

*** The above posted after February 16th when tBR was sent out ***

 

Squishmallows launches legal fight against Build-A-BearSquishmallows, produced by Jazwares, has raised concerns regarding Skoosherz, a newly introduced toy by Build-A-Bear Workshop, citing striking similarities to its own egg-shaped cushion animal characters. Despite the cuddly nature of the toys involved, the impending legal showdown promises to be more akin to a rigorous legal battle than a playful pillow fight.

Disneyland Workers Seeking to Form Union for 1,700 Character Performers With Actors’ Equity. Calling themselves “Magic United,” the Disneyland union organizers have begun circulating union authorization cards to 1,700 “Cast Members” who work at the Anaheim, Calif., park and will seek voluntary recognition from Disney Resort Entertainment if and when a majority of the workers have signed.

Former West Loop toy design studio, Big Monster Toys (BMT), is on the market.  A former toy design studio in the West Loop is poised for reinvention.

Buffalo Games buys nearby buildings from company foundersBuffalo Games has seen a lot of growth since it acquired EastPoint Sports last year. Now, after the purchase of two nearby facilities in Buffalo, it has the space to continue that growth for years.

Toys for Bob closes physical studio location. Microsoft's recent layoffs resulted in 86 redundancies at game developer Toys for Bob. As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, per state filings, the studio behind Spyro Reignited Trilogy also saw its physical office closed. Toys for Bob most recently released Crash Bandicoot 4 and Crash Team Battle. It also develops Call of Duty Warzone content updates. 

DC Universe Online dev Dimensional Ink hit with layoffs.  At time of writing, a precise number hasn't been given. So far, it's known that members from the art, community, and narrative teams were caught up in the reductions. A source speaking to Kotaku claims the cuts mainly affected senior staff.

 

UK economy fell into recession after people cut spending. People spending less, doctors' strikes and a fall in school attendance dragged the UK into recession at the end of last year, official figures show. The economy shrunk by a larger than expected 0.3% between October and December, after it had already contracted between July and September. The UK is in recession if it fails to grow for two successive quarters.

Blackbird Interactive confirms layoffs and wider "realignment plan". Multiple posts on social media indicate job cuts are happening "across the company." A spokesperson for Blackbird Interactive has told Game Developer the studio is making layoffs due to "economic pressures" beyond its control. 

Paramount Global is shutting down Nickelodeon’s subscription-based Noggin app and has laid off its entire team. The SVOD service for two- to seven-year-olds had 2.5 million global subscribers in 2019 (four years after launch) and houses more than 1,000 educational games, videos and books in its library, some of which will soon be homeless. One of the app’s most recent launches that rolled out in December is Nogginville...

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Financial Reporting

Spin Master: Preliminary 2023 Earnings Reflect 5.7% Revenue Dip Offset by Q4 Sales Boom. A strong finish to the year in Q4 offsets losses amid major challenges for the overall toy industry. Spin Master says that its total revenue for 2023 slipped 5.7% to $1.9 billion versus 2022, driven by an 11.3% decline in Toy revenue, partially offset by a 60% spike in Entertainment revenue and a 6.1% increase in Digital Games revenue.

 

Hasbro: ‘Refocusing on Play’ as Revenue Falls 15% in 2023. The company is leaning into its strategy of “Fewer, Bigger, Better” brands as it looks ahead. For the year, Hasbro says that revenue slipped 15% to $5 billion while revenue in Q4 fell 23% to $1.3 billion. Hasbro says that the big holiday dip was in line with its expectations while full-year performance was impacted by the offloading of its eOne entertainment division.

Embracer reported that board game sales were slightly down for its Asmodee subsidiary, and that Dark Horse's performance was "encouraging" in its fiscal Q3. Asmodee sales across all categories and territories were up 1% in constant currency, with TCG sales.  Board game sales were "slightly negative" worldwide, with U.S. sales lagging those in Europe.

Zuru hails strong 2023 performance The company has announced that, although 2023 saw sales within the total UK toy market down -5% YOY, Zuru outperformed this, reporting sales at -3%. The company also confirmed its position as a top-six corporate manufacturer in the UK market for 2023 according to Circana Retail Tracking Service, UK, Value Sales, YTD Dec 2023.

Wildbrain reports Q2 2024 results. Revenue was $126.3 million, compared to $140.5 million in Q2 2023. Net income was $5.0 million, compared with net loss of $13.0 million in Q2 2023. 

TV Ratings: Super Bowl LVIII Sets All-Time Record With 123M Viewers. No other broadcast in American TV history — at least as measured by Nielsen — has drawn more people.

Sony Pictures Entertainment Third-Quarter Profits Jump 57% To $281M, a 57% hike versus the comparable period in 2022. Revenues were also up 5% to $2.473 billion.

 

Trends, Lists, Market Research, and State of the Industry

The Good News For TV Drama Producers Is That The Bad News Might Be Over: Global Content Spend Tipped To Return To Growth in 2024

 

TOP 20 MANGA IN COMIC STORES - FULL YEAR 2023

JANUARY 2024 CIRCANA BOOKSCAN - TOP 20 ADULT AND KIDS GRAPHIC NOVELS

 

The next generation of the model railroad industry. Despite those who don't believe the hobby is thriving, the Amherst show had a record attendance day on Saturday of 22,657 attendees.

 

What’s the Tooth Fairy Leaving These Days? $100 Bills and Louis Vuitton Bracelets. Parents are going bigger for the mini milestones in their children’s lives—but that is leading to comparisons and awkward conversations. “The phenomenon of going big for smaller milestones, such as losing a tooth, has been termed "inchstones" and is predicted to be a top trend in 2024. 

ONE GIFT IS NOT ENOUGH, IT HAS TO BE A BASKET  The extravagance continues with TikTok’s Valentine’s trend of gift baskets versus single gifts. It’s not just the Alpha’s, Gen-Z is happily enjoying the trend too. Is this a ‘core memory’ thing? Why is everyone going so over the top? Because gifting is now performance art. A brand could make this easier. (Good Thinking newsletter)

BUT MAYBE THEY WANT LESS? In contrast to Valentine’s baskets, Trend forecaster Ashley Edwards says there’s a rising “post-consumptive” mindset, where Alpha consumers are “scaling back their consumption in a big way, introducing ‘refuse’ and ‘repair’ into their eco-conscious lexicon beyond ‘reduce, reuse, recycle.” We all rebel against our parents. (Good Thinking newsletter)

MALL’S ARE THE NEW BARS—UNDER 18s NOT WELCOME - Atlantic Terminal Mall has instituted a new chaperone policy, which requires anyone under the age of 18 to be accompanied by an adult during most business hours. This is craziness. Casey wrote: “Teens belong in shopping malls. Give them a break!” and we couldn’t agree more. So interesting how brands all want Gen-Z but also want to keep them out. (Good Thinking newsletter)

EVERYBODY’S WAKING UP TO GEN ALPHA  “Businesses across categories need to start preparing to meet a new generation of digital native consumers. By 2025, Generation Alpha (ages 0 to 13 in 2024) will be the largest generation in history, and the first to be born in the 21st century. Their global economic footprint is projected to reach $5.46 trillion by 2029.” (Good Thinking newsletter)

 

*** The above posted after February 16th ***

 

The Toy Association™ Announces 2024 Toy Trends. From spooky, sustainable, and anime-inspired playthings, to holistic toys that give young minds and bodies a boost, The Toy Association™ today unveiled the top trends expected to drive consumer spending on toys, games, and youth entertainment products in 2024.

French toy market 2023 report. Now worth around 4.3b Euros... results show that the French Toy market was down -5.2% in 2023, and -8% in volume. This is a similar picture to that of the German and UK toy markets, which have both shown declines of around -5%.

Kids Industries shares its latest insights for building fandom. According to a January 2024 study from London-based research firm Kids Industries, 76% of six- to 14-year-olds worldwide consider themselves a fan of something—and that’s up significantly by 13% compared to last year’s data. 

From AI-powered bunnies to 'live' figures, start-up reinvents smart toys with ChatGPT-like tech and China-designed chips.

YouTube dominates kids’ leisure time and VOD preferences. Watching YouTube emerged as the most popular hobby among nearly 70% of respondents, followed by playing video games (62%), using social media (52%) and watching series/movies on VOD platforms (51%). 

TOP MANGA PROPERTIES – FALL 2023. 'Chainsaw Man,' 'Jujutsu Kaisen' Move Up, More

VIZ MEDIA'S KEVIN HAMRIC ON MANGA SALES TRENDS, DIFFERENCES BY CHANNEL, ANIME, AND DIGITAL

 

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Stories, Comments, and Advice

Why Americans Suddenly Stopped Hanging Out. Too much aloneness is creating a crisis of social fitness. From 2003 to 2022, American men reduced their average hours of face-to-face socializing by about 30%. For unmarried Americans, the decline was even bigger—more than 35%. For teenagers, it was more than 45%. Boys and girls ages 15 to 19 reduced their weekly social hangouts by more than 3 hrs a week. In short, there is no statistical record of any other period in U.S. history when people have spent more time on their own. 

London Fashion Week AW24 Highlights: Simone Rocha's playful glamour and animal toy accessories. Hot off the heels of Haute Couture Week in Paris, where she was a guest designer for Jean Paul Gaultier, Rocha debuted a more grownup aesthetic with an emphasis on voluminous shapes. 

 

THE BIG 3 REPORT FULL YEAR 2023 RESULTS: WHAT DID WE LEARN? FY 2023 results have now been reported by Hasbro, Mattel & Spin Master. For those trying to follow what is happening across the world of Toys & Games, these results are normally revealing because a). They offer up hard data as to the performance of the market leaders b). It becomes clearer which categories and types of products are winning in the market and...

 

*** The above posted after tBR sent on February 16th ***

 

John Baulch, Toy World - Not going out … it’s the Friday Blog! Traditionally, many people from the UK toy community would have been over in New York for the US Toy Fair this week. But with the North American trade show landscape currently in a state of flux, we find ourselves without a US-based Q1 show for another year, before it is scheduled to return to New York in early March 2025. I am sure that’s a subject I will return...

Roblox releases real-time AI chat translator. Players will be chatting with Spanish speakers without needing to learn Spanish. Roblox built an AI model that it says translates text chats so quickly users may not even notice it’s translating the messages of other players at first. It works with 16 languages, including English, French, Japanese, Thai, Polish, and Vietnamese. 

FEATURE: The ins and outs of family entertainment centers. Execs from Crayola, Hasbro and WildBrain CPLG share their formula for bringing kids franchises to life as family entertainment centers. The global FEC business generated US$30.9 billion in revenue in 2022, and is expected to grow by 11.5% annually to hit US$88.7 billion by 2032, according to a report published last May by Allied Market Research (AMR). 

Celebrating Women in Toys: Breaking barriers and inspiring creativity. Hi there! My name is Marjorie and I am a toypreneur from Latin America. Back in 2019 I embarked on the adventure of developing a toy brand aimed to inspire and empower the next generation of female leaders. Toys aren’t just for fun—they’re also tools for sparking imagination, promoting learning, and inspiring creativity.

 

New report suggests the games industry is failing LGBTQ players. I’ve known that representation in games mattered ever since that day in 1987 when I finished Metroid and discovered that intergalactic bounty hunter Samus Aran was that rarest of things (for the time): a cool female video-game protagonist. Now, with games a more important cultural force than ever, the influential media advocacy organization GLAAD...

 

Consumers are stressed. It could be showing in how we bought toys in 2023. Consumers bought fewer toys in all of 2023, including during the key Christmas toy-buying period, showing that households continue to pare back on discretionary products. The year-end gift-buying season typically accounts for a big chunk of annual toy sales. It’s why retailers entice shoppers with discounts and other incentives to revv up demand. 

Why Disney’s $1.5 billion stake in Epic Games has implications far beyond gaming. Disney’s $1.5 billion stake in Epic Games is not just a play to make video games. It’s Disney’s first step towards a potentially transformative future media business: the metaversal theme park. On February 7, Disney announced its plans to acquire a $1.5 billion equity stake in Epic Games, the developer of Unreal Engine and popular first-person...

'Magic: The Gathering' preorders were solid; The 'Big Five' settle in on TCGplayer Top 25 Sealed TCG Products chart analysis for January 2024. Magic: The Gathering - Murders at Karlov Manor Play Booster Display was on top of the January 2024 TCGplayer Top 25 Sealed Products chart, which ranks the most active products on the platform by dollar volume, showing the beginning and ending prices of each product. 

 

The Best Horror Board Games for 2024. The horror genre is so alluring because it lets us experience terror and dread from a position of safety. The tension and thrills are a great match for the board game format, allowing a group of friends to explore their agency in shaping a horror narrative. It’s a unique way to experience such stories and provides chilling shared memories that can hit with more force...

AI-powered children's toy agrees to stop responding, but keeps butting into conversation again. Late last year, Claire "Grimes" Boucher, acclaimed musician and mother of three of billionaire multi-hyphenate Elon Musk's children, announced an OpenAI-powered line of toys called "Grok" — not to be confused with Musk's AI chatbot of the same name, as the two are currently entangled in a nasty custody battle. 

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History and Nostalgia

 

From the Archives: Why a New Toy Trade Magazine? A look back at the Editor’s Outlook column from the very first print edition of The Toy Book. by MILT SCHULMAN, executive editor, and NORBERT BROWN, editor. We are proud and delighted to begin publication of THE TOY BOOK, a different kind of toy trade publication. In a time of major and often confusing changes in the toy industry, we hope to better...

Kick Back from Schaper (1965). In 1965, Schaper released Kick Back, a game for two that challenged players to kick a ball into their opponent’s corral. Kick Back was a straightforward game accessible to most ages and abilities. Players placed the plastic game between them, each with a corralled mule in front of them. Each mule balanced inside its corral on a central fulcrum.

Navy Blinker Code Lites from Hasbro (1961). Navy Blinker Code Lites were originally introduced by Hasbro in 1961 as part of a navel-themed toy line. Inspired by the traditional signaling methods used by the U.S. Navy, the lights were sold in sets of two and allowed children to simulate naval communication using Morse Code. Operating on a single D-battery, each light was equipped with a camera-style shutter and...

 

Forgotten Toys: My photographic journey of an abandoned 1960s house packed with childhood memorabilia. There is a house in North Carolina that is filled with 1960s and 1970s toys. The last occupant was a grandma who passed away in 2002. The toys were left for her great-grandchildren to play with and belonged to the woman’s daughters when they were young.

The '90s toys worth the most today, ranked. The value of vintage Barbie dolls soared in 2023, thanks to the success of the "Barbie" movie, but they're not the only retro toys that can be worth a surprising amount. To determine which '90s toys are the most valuable today, TheToyZone analyzed the resale values of various popular toy models and ranked them based on which have sold for the highest price. 

 

The More Things Change. . . BY THE STRONG. Nature always strives for balance. While at times it may be fragile, there are ecosystems all around us that are evidence of this fact. Even in our own lives, we naturally strive for a state of equilibrium. We’re tired, so we sleep. We’re hungry, so we eat. We’re stressed . . . so we play. The past few years have certainly had their share of stresses, from civil unrest to economic woes...

 

Local knowledge leads archaeologists to prehistoric gaming field in Kenya. In some ancient time, we don't know how ancient, pastoralists in prehistoric Kenya may have whiled away their leisure time playing mancala – a board game of strategy that may go back to the Neolithic or even before. Within the Lewa Conservancy, home to the critically endangered black rhino, ultra-rare Grévy's zebra and many more animals...

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Licensing and Entertainment 

Ryan Reynolds to Reimagine Hasbro's Classic Board Game 'Clue' in Live-Action Adaptation. Ryan Reynolds, along with the Deadpool writers, adapts Hasbro's classic board game Clue into a live-action film, promising a blend of mystery and humor. The Clue universe expands further with an animated TV series on Hulu.

Disney+ has licensed all 25 seasons of Om Nom Stories from Spanish game studio Zeptolab (Cut the Rope) for its European service. The 2D-animated short series (250 x 3.5 minutes) revolves around a tiny green creature whose love of candy fuels the slapstick comedy in episodes driven by typical preschool experiences like taking a bath and getting scared. Disney+ plans to launch the package in Q4. 

British broadcaster Sky has added two new 2D-animated series for its preschool viewers: Happy Town and Let’s Go, Bananas!. Both titles will roll out sometime this year on the Sky Kids linear channel, which launched a year ago to serve the under-seven demo. Happy Town is a 50 x seven-minute series about two besties, a hedgehog and a ladybird, who live in a colorful town and work hard to help others in their community.

Star Stable Entertainment has signed Stockholm-based licensing agency Rights & Brands to represent the global merch and publishing rights of its flagship same-name tween franchise. The Star Stable brand currently features a 2D-animated series, mobile games, books, music and a role-playing game called Star Stable Online that has attracted more than 26 million registered users since launching in 2011...

Pink Parrot closes theatrical deals for Elli and Her Monster Team! A Canadian/German co-pro, this book-based feature film for kids and families will roll out across 14 more countries after premiering domestically in June. The movie centers around a ghost who accidentally attracts too much attention from the living world while searching for a new home. She then works with a squad of monsters to restore order...

Boat Rocker Media has acquired distribution rights in all territories except the UK to Olga Da Polga, a preschool series based on another vintage publishing franchise created by Paddington author Michael Bond. Produced by Glasgow-based Maramedia, this quirky 2D-animated/live-action show was greenlit by CBeebies in July 2022 and then renewed for a second season last Oct. The IP dates back to 1971... 

 

*** The above posted after February 16th ***

 

PBS KIDS has commissioned a collection of themed content touching on civics and media literacy in order to address a learning gap that isn’t being well-served by the US school system.  On the greenlit list is Sesame Workshop’s new series of 20 Together We Can music videos for four- to eight-year-olds, exploring topics such as rights, voting and what it means to be part of a community. The first 10 vids will premiere...

The CW has closed deals on game show versions of the classic board games “Trivial Pursuit” and “Scrabble,”.  Both the “Trivial Pursuit” and “Scrabble” game shows are being produced by Hasbro Entertainment, The CW and Lionsgate Alternative Television. “Scrabble” is also being produced by Mattel Television Studios. Despite multiple reports about potential hosts, neither series has a host attached to it at this time.

Barney is back and wishing us all a Happy Love Day. It’s been 14 years since we last heard from Barney. Our favorite purple dinosaur hasn’t been on screens since 2010, when the last episode of Barney and Friends hit screens. A lot has changed since then, but Barney is still as lovable as ever! As a special Love Day present from Mattel, Barney made a video telling the world how much he loves us. 

 

McFarlane Toys reveals DC Multiverse Classic Aquaman, Green Lantern and Batman. McFarlane Toys is coming for classic DC Comics fans with these new three releases. We’re finally getting a classic Green Lantern and Aquaman…and a Batman in classic colors. The real winner here is Green Lantern, who looks amazing. Even with those same annoying boot cuffs. I love that smirk with his head sculpt. 

9 Story Distribution International has sold Dylan’s Playtime Adventures to British preschool channel CBeebies, which will air the show this fall. Toronto’s 9 Story Media Group and its Brown Bag Films animation studio (Toronto and Bali locations) are producing this 2D/CG-animated series, which stars a colorfully striped pooch who tries his hand at jobs ranging from train conductor, to nurse, to astronaut. 

Monster Jam Ramped Up coming to Birmingham. Monster Jam Ramped Up is arriving in Birmingham for the first time ever, for an adrenaline-charged weekend at Utilita Arena Birmingham between 29th – 31st March. The all-new Monster Jam Ramped Up features the Monstergon, a multi-sided metal ramp that launches Monster Jam trucks as they attempt fan-favourite stunts like...

 

Kartoon Studios, Penguin Young Readers launch ‘Llama Llama’ retail program. Kartoon Studios has partnered with Penguin Young Readers and Kohl’s to launch book and plush products inspired by the Llama Llama preschool franchise. The retail promotional program will be part of Kohl’s Cares, where 100% of Kohl’s net profit will benefit nonprofit organizations that improve the well-being of different communities. 

BBC Studios takes global family brand Bluey to new digital heights with celebrity YouTube series Bluey Book Reads. BBC Studios Social  and BBC Studios Kids & Family and Ludo Studio launched Bluey Book Reads on Wednesday on the Bluey YouTube channel. The series brings with celebrity readings. Bluey Book Reads is BBC Studios Social’s first piece of standalone content for Bluey.

Funko releases Chiefs Pop! Figure 4-Pack following Super Bowl. After the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl win, Funko launched a celebratory Pop! figure pack featuring the Chiefs. The Kansas City Chiefs Funko Super Bowl LVIII Champions Pop! Vinyl Figure Four-Pack, available exclusively at fanatics.com, features four of the players from the winning team. The pack includes Pop! Patrick Mahomes, Pop! Travis Kelce...

Creative Kids, Paramount ink Nickelodeon Slime deal. Creative Kids Group just got slimed. The maker of arts and crafts kits and compounds inked a multi-year, global deal with Paramount to manufacture and distribute products under the Nickelodeon Slime brand. The new line of products inspired by Nickelodeon‘s iconic green goo includes pre-made jars of slime, DIY kits, novelty toys, science kits, game sets, and outdoor...

Nickelodeon’s Super Bowl broadcast: an ingenious, wildly chaotic splash. This alternate Super Bowl program is, per a production company statement, intended for “lovers of slime and really good sports time”. Can’t say I’m in either camp. But nevertheless I find myself parked in front of – or should I say glued to? – Nickelodeon’s and CBS Sports’ slime-soaked Super Bowl simulcast, while the other members of my family...

 

I’m The Chef Too! partners with Mattel for Barbie-themed baking kits. The kits will combine STEM subjects, art, and Barbie’s slogan “You Can Be Anything.” I’m The Chef Too!, a monthly subscription company that specializes in home baking kits, recently signed a multiyear licensing agreement — as well as a Barbie partnership — with Mattel. A collection of co-branded baking kits will launch this month.

 

'Spy X Family,' 'Deadpool & Wolverine,' and 'Kingdom of the Pota' trailers; Musk funds Disney lawsuit; 'The Mandalorian and Grogu' news; 'House of the Dragon' spinoff news; 'Predator' movie decloaked; 'Percy Jackson' renewed. Showbiz Round-Up. The Yr of the Dragon roared in with fresh Hollywood News.  Time for a round-up! Crunchyroll released an official English dub trailer for Spy x Family - Code: White.  

 

Molang partners with PlaybyPlay for plush deal in Europe and Latin America. Millimages, one of the oldest independent animation studios and IP developers in Europe, is pleased to announce that its flagship brand Molang has partnered with PlaybyPlay for plush toys in Europe and Latin America. PlaybyPlay, a brand by Famosa, part of the Giochi Preziosi international toy group, will manufacture and distribute...

 

Storypod launches a host of all-new stories with Paw Patrol, Daniel Tiger, Zoonicorn, and more. Storypod is bursting with new content and characters! Storypod is a company that is revolutionizing the way kids engage with audio adventures. Storypod offers a range of interactive educational products, including Crafties (soft figures), Tokens, Card Sets, and more. Give the kids something to look forward...

 

Atari sets celebrity game show in motion. Atari, one of the world’s most iconic consumer brands and interactive entertainment producers, announced the company has enlisted executive producers Jay Blumenfield and Tony Marsh to create a game show, tentatively titled The Great Atari Celebrity Showdown. “This show celebrates the history of gaming, the culture of entertainment, and the joy of competing...

 

Hunter Price to partner with Paramount and Calm. Hunter Price International has announced a collaboration with Paramount Consumer Products and mental health brand, Calm. The news follows the recent collaboration between “PAW Patrol” and Calm, which saw the sleep, relaxation and meditation app create an exclusive collection of sleep stories and meditations to aid a relaxing bedtime routine.

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People of Play

 

Mattel has promoted Krista Berger to replace Lisa McKnight as SVP of Barbie and head of dolls. McKnight was upped to EVP and chief brand officer eight months ago. Berger now oversees global product development and brand marketing for all of Mattel’s doll franchises, including Barbie, Monster High and Polly Pocket. She reports to McKnight in her new role and is based in LA. 

 

*** The above posted after February 16th ***

 

Mattel has appointed Christopher Farrell as EVP and Chief Strategy Officer. Farrell will report to Ynon Kreiz, Chairman and CEO of Mattel.  In the role, Farrell will lead corporate development and strategic planning for the company. This includes identifying opportunities to accelerate growth and profitability and optimizing business performance. Farrell has experience in strategy, (mergers & acquisitions (M&A), investor...

View from the Shelf: Doug Wadleigh on Gabby’s Dollhouse. In a new format for Kidscreen's magazines, toy industry expert Chris Byrne is interviewing high-level CP execs. First up is Spin Master's EVP of global brands, who opens the doors into the success of the mega preschool license.

Chris Houghton and Shane Houghton, the creators of Big City Greens, have signed a new overall deal with Disney Branded Television, expanding on a previous agreement with Disney Television Animation originally signed in 2021. The pair will continue to produce animated kids projects for Disney Television Animation and develop live-action concepts for Disney Branded TV.

Nancy Kanter goes independent with a new slate of kids projects. The former Disney exec's overall deal with Netflix has just expired, and she's already working on a preschool show with singer Kevin Jonas and a film with Bob Higgins at Trustbridge. Untethered as of January, preschool content maven Nancy Kanter has reopened her Burbank-based studio Available Light Productions and has a slate of new projects in the pipeline. 

BBC Studios has hired Robin Gay as brand and marketing director for preschool property Bluey. Based in London, he stepped into the role this month and reports to Harriet Newby-Hill, the VP of marketing at BBC Kids & Family. Gay is no stranger to managing powerhouse kids IPs, most recently spending two years at eOne as the VP of global brand strategy and management for Peppa Pig.

Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) has promoted its business development veteran, Philippe Roucoule, to SVP of EMEA consumer products. Roucoule succeeds the former head of consumer products in EMEA and APAC, Julian Moon, who announced his upcoming retirement last October. (Moon will continue to oversee the APAC market while working with WBD leadership to find a successor for that region.) 

Cole Wehrle’s board games don’t just teach you history—they make you live it. Cole dreams of someday making a board game about Reconstruction. The 38-year-old designer has tinkered with a number of different prototypes over the years, but invariably he finds himself stymied by the same obstacle. Sure, table games have simulated the Civil War for decades, but its catastrophic aftermath—where an apartheid...

Nickelodeon has selected six participants for its annual Artists Program, which supports emerging artists. For six months, this cohort will receive creative mentorship and get to sharpen their artistic abilities and production know-how through workshops and hands-on experience working at the Burbank-based Nickelodeon Animation Studio. 

Glo, the co. behind Glo Pals and Glo Cubes, based in Starkville, Mississippi, is elevating a pair of mentors from advisors to leaders as Eric Hill and Jeffrey Rupp officially join the team as COO and Director of Business Development, respectively. A decade ago, the duo helped two Mississippi State University students launch Glo through the MSU Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach (E Center).

Kerry Walgrove introduces 1721 Coaching. Following redundancy from the LEGO Group in 2021, Kerry Walgrove has set up a new coaching service to help support and add value to companies. Kerry has started her own business, 1721 Coaching, through which she coaches, trains and mentors both individuals and teams, using science-based tools, techniques, training sessions and 1-21- sessions.

 

Heathside makes senior hires for Master Replicas and Khadou brands. Heathside is reinforcing its commitment to Master Replicas and Khadou through two key appointments that will help support the company’s growth. Heathside has announced Ben Robinson as the new head of Brand for Master Replicas. The recently established position will expand on Master Replicas’ vision to redefine high-end collections within the pop-culture space. 

 

 

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Companies and Brands

 

ICTI Ethical Toy Program (IETP) has announced that it will become known as the Ethical Supply Chain Program (ESCP). The global non-profit is recognised as a leading expert in social compliance and labour standards, widely known for its robust Supplier Certification Program, alongside its Social Impact Assessment, Environmental Assessment, supplier capability building and worker wellbeing initiatives.

 

*** The above posted after tBR started sending early Friay morning Chicago time ***

 

Wizards of the Coast celebrates Dungeons & Dragons 50th Anniversary with new releases. Hitting a milestone of 50 years of tabletop roleplaying content, Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) is celebrating with a full lineup of new releases. Dungeons & Dragons was first released in 1974, and has seen plenty of success since. The game has gone beyond the world of tabletop with licensed products, a movie, an animated...

 

Polestar, Hot Wheels launch 2024 Design contest. Polestar, the Swedish electric car brand, is launching its 2024 Design contest with Mattel’s Hot Wheels. This year’s contest is open to designers who are looking to infuse their designs with imagination.The winning design will be the first Hot Wheels x Polestar 1:64-scale, die-cast vehicle in the two brands’ collaboration.

 

Moose Games launches Pickleball Blast. The tabletop game will be available in stores and online on Feb. 18. Moose Games has launched a new family board game: Pickleball Blast. The two-player tabletop game is inspired by Pickleball, a popular sport in the U.S., and is designed for players ages 8 and up. Moose Games plans to market the competition-based game throughout the year with an integrated 360-marketing plan...

Hasbro celebrates Transformers 40th anniversary. Hasbro has announced plans to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Transformers franchise. Transformers made its worldwide debut in 1984 with its revolutionary robot-to-vehicle action figures, bolstered by a comic book series and an action-packed animated series, “The Transformers.” 

 

Barbie launches new Color Change Mermaid doll. Barbie has added new products to its Fantasy segment with the new Barbie Color Change Mermaid doll. Designed with beautiful detail from head to fin, the Barbie Malibu doll has 7.5-inch-long pink hair that kids can brush out and style for endless fun. Kids can witness the color transformation when the Barbie Color Change Mermaid doll is dipped into icy cold water...

Bandai Namco Amusement Europe is launching the UK’s first One Piece Card Game Official Shop in Brighton on 23rd February. The shop will be located on the town’s North Street. One Piece Card Game coming to Brighton’s North Street store sees the development and evolution of the brand store as it provides a fun and presentable physical space to collect cards and battle with friends with the hugely popular card...

Dart Zone updates Adventure Force Nexus and Aeon Pro X Blasters. Dart Zone’s Adventure Force Nexus and Aeon Pro X Blasters from the Tactical Strike line have been fan favorites since 2020. Now, Dart Zone is releasing new versions of the Nexus and Aeon Pro X in April. The revamped blasters were unveiled last month at Spielwarenmesse in Nuremberg.

 

Our Generation celebrates 30 years. The doll company is launching celebrations with a new logo. Our Generation has officially been making dolls, playsets, and storybooks for 30 years. To kick off the anniversary celebrations, Our Generation unveiled a new commemorative logo to go along with activities, events, giveaways, and other surprises this fall. 

 

Pat Avenue secures distribution deal with Cutie Stix. Pat Avenue UK has announced the latest addition to its portfolio with Cutie Stix crafting activity sets and a new licensed segment for the brand. Cutie Stix is an all-in-one activity that allows creative kids to make a variety of crafting items, including bracelets and necklaces, from patterned rubber shapes. 

 

Amigo Games will release the 20th Anniversary Edition of 'Saboteur'. Amigo Games will release Saboteur (20th Anniversary), a classic card game by Frederic Moyersoen, into retail in April 2024. The new edition features cards from Saboteur World Championships 2016-2023 and new mini-expansions. Saboteur is a hand management card game where players assume the roles of dwarves digging for gold in a maze...

New product deets emerge for 'My Hero Academia: Girl Power'. UVS Games will release My Hero Academia: Girl Power, a new booster set, into retail on May 17, 2024. This set was first unveiled as part of UVS Games' 2024 lineup announcement (see "2024 Lineup"). The new booster set features fan favorite female students, heroes, and villains from the My Hero Academia universe.

 

Kartoon Studios’ Beacon Media Group reports growth, expansion. Beacon Media Group says it had a milestone year in 2023 and is poised for growth and expansion this year. A subsidiary of Kartoon Studios (formerly Genius Brands), Beacon Media Group specializes in the kids and family space and boasts a roster of toy industry clients, including Jada Toys, Goliath, The Loyal Subjects x TLS Toy, IMC Toys, Make It Real, and others.

 

The LEGO Group debuts updated Medieval Town Square. The LEGO Group’s latest building set is blasting to the past in more ways than one. The company is releasing the LEGO Icons Medieval Town Square, a reimagined version of a set that first launched in 2009. The LEGO Icons Medieval Town Square is also designed to go with the LEGO Icons Medieval Blacksmith and Lion Knights’ Castle sets. 

 

Hachette announces 'Nekojima'. Hachette Boardgames announced Nekojima, a new dexterity game by Unfriendly Games, that will release into retail in August 2024. In this game, designed by David Carmona and Karen Nguyen, players are tasked with stacking Denchuu (electrical poles) with the utmost precision. 

 

Renegade announces 'The Search for UAPs'. Renegade Game Studios announced The Search for UAPs, a new deduction board game, that will hit stores in August 2024. The Search for UAPs (Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena), designed by Ted Alspach, is a follow-up board game to The Search for Planet X and The Search for Lost Species. 

 

Maped Helix unveils spring coloring range. Maped Helix, manufacturer of school and stationery supplies, has added a collection of innovative products into its range this spring. New to the line-up is the already award-winning, patent protected, Infinity Coloring Pencils. Promising the brightest colors, the unique triangular shape not only supports optimal grip, but allows little ones to color with the entire surface...

 

'Tiny Epic Cthulhu' heads to retail. Gamelyn Games will release Tiny Epic Cthulhu, a new cooperative game designed by Scott Almes, which will hit retail in Q4 2024. In the newest installment of the Tiny Epic line of games, players assume the roles of characters from the coastal town of New Arkhammoore, which is under siege by cosmic horrors.  

 

Battle for subscribers in 'Streamer Standoff'. Flat River Games will release Streamer Standoff, a new board game from Maestro Media and DrLupo, into retail on May 3, 2024. This game, designed by Jeb Havens and Bobby West, is the result of a collaboration between Maestro Media and streamer, content creator, and philanthropist DrLupo, who has millions of followers on his social media.  

 

Space Marine reinforcements coming for 'Warhammer 40,000'. Incoming kits feature a Captain, Heroes, and more. Games Workshop will release new Space Marine kits, for Warhammer 40,000, onto preorder on February 17, 2024. The next round of Space Marine kits features a Space Marine Captain in Terminator Armour kit and a Space Marine Heroes of the Chapter kit.  

 

DKB announces exclusive distribution partnership with Wow! Stuff. After showcasing a selection of its ranges at London Toy Fair and Spring Fair, DKB says it is ‘more excited than ever’ to begin distributing Wow! Stuff’s toys. Wow! Stuff’s Wednesday range of Nano Pods is one of the lines DKB will now be distributing in the UK & Ireland DKB Toys & Distribution has announced that it has been named as exclusive distributor...

American Girl reveals new Tiana, Ariel, and Cinderella dolls. At long last, two iconic brands — best known for inspirational characters, rich storytelling, and memorable experiences — have come together to make dreams come true for Disney and American Girl fans. American Girl has unveiled the first wave of the multi-year collaboration celebrating beloved characters, Disney’s Ariel, Cinderella and Tiana. 

 

The 'Barbarian Kingdoms' invade retail. Ares Games will release Barbarian Kingdoms, a new board game, into retail in April 2024. In this game, players take command of a 5th-century kingdom in Europe at a time where the barbarians are on the rise.  They can choose to play one of six barbarian nations (Huns, Ostrogoths, Vandals, Visigoths, Franks, and Anglo-Saxons), and attempt to dominate the continent...

 

'Pokemon TCG: Armarouge ex' is armed and ready for battle. The Pokemon Company International will release Pokemon TCG: Armarouge ex Premium Collection into retail on April 19, 2024. The newest premium collection features Armarouge ex, a Pokemon ex that has strong armor and massive firepower. This Pokemon has a powerful scorching attack Ability and can also boost its defensive capabilities throughout the game.

McFarlane Toys celebrates 30 years of action figures and collectibles. The celebrations include limited edition collectibles releasing this year. McFarlane Toys is marking three decades in the action figures and collectibles sphere with new releases, social media campaigns, and more. The company has maintained private ownership since Todd McFarlane founded it in 1994. 

 

ThinkFun launches cooperative game Math Path Monster. ThinkFun is launching a new board game in partnership with Mathnasium Learning Centers. Math Path Monster, a game that builds math and teamwork skills, will be available this month. ThinkFun previewed the game at Toy Fair last year. During the game, players aid a group of explorers as they attempt to leave the Math Monster’s den.

Stomp Rocket’s new Space Collection soars into the galaxy. Well, at least 100 feet above your yard! The STEM toy you know and love, Stomp Rocket, is launching into space! The new Stomp Rocket Space Collection features space-themed rockets and learning opportunities. The Stomp Rocket Space Collection includes three different spacecrafts and a launcher.

 

Hachette reveals two new card games. Both games feature a $14.99 price point. Hachette Boardgames revealed two new card games, which will release into retail in 2024. Line-it is a strategic card game by Gigamic. In this game, players construct lines of cards, in either ascending or descending numbered order, in an attempt to score the most posts. 

 

 

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Gaming: Digital, Video, Hardware, and Development

 

Nintendo amps up an old feud in ‘Mario vs. Donkey Kong’. Let’s say your nemesis broke into a factory that made deluxe toys in your likeness, ran off with dozens of them, and then dropped them across a series of exotic locations. What would you do? Call your lawyers? The police? Or would you chase the thief, painstakingly reclaiming the merchandise? 

 

Marvel's Spider-Man 2 tops 10 million sales in under four months. Marvel's Spider-Man 2 has topped 10 million sales in under four months. Insomniac Games' web-slinging sequel launched on October 20, 2023, to critical acclaim and sold 5 million copies in a matter of weeks. As detailed in Sony's latest fiscal report (and confirmed by Insomniac on X) it has now more than doubled that total. 

 

Granblue Fantasy: Relink sells 1 million copies in two weeks. Cygames' Granblue Fantasy: Relink has just sold over 1 million copies. On Twitter, the developer revealed the benchmark for its newest title "after just 11 days. [...] A million thanks to our wonderful community of skyfarers for helping us reach this milestone." The action-RPG released at the start of February for Windows, along with PlayStation 4 and 5.

 

Helldivers 2 defies studio expectations after selling 1 million copies. Arrowhead Games' manic sci-fi shooter Helldivers 2 has sold around 1 million copies in four days. The title launched for PlayStation 5 and Windows PC on February 8 and is currently smashing internal estimates. In a post on X, Arrowhead CEO and Helldivers 2 creative director Johan Pilestedt explained the game was sitting at around 1 million copies sold...

 

Nintendo says Super Mario Bros. Wonder soared due to multiplayer magic. Nintendo believes the magic of multiplayer was responsible for Super Mario Bros. Wonder's electric start. The platformer became the fastest-selling Super Mario title in history after selling-through over 10 million copies in under three months, and Nintendo thinks the game's multiplayer component was a driving factor.

New data seems to show PS5 Is Outselling Xbox 2:1. Microsoft’s home console is falling farther behind as Sony pulls ahead. We all sort of know that Sony’s PS5 is outselling Microsoft’s Xbox Series X/S. Sony gives us sales data, Microsoft hasn’t in years. You generally don’t stay quiet about that stuff when the news is great. 

PlayStation 5 is about to have a quiet year. If you were wondering what Sony’s up to after its latest State of Play presentation didn’t have much in the way of first-party games, it sounds like there was a reason for that. It looks like PlayStation 5’s 2024 will have a dearth of first-party games over the next year, as the company has confirmed it won’t be releasing “any new major existing franchise titles” until 2025.

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Highlighted Press Releases

JUMPIN’ JELLYBEANS! EASTER BUNNY ANNOUNCES PERFECT HOME FOR MY GNOME ON THE ROAM – YOURS! The Sweetest Basket On Easter Sunday Is Filled With Gnome-Themed Adventures Like $9.99 DIY Gnome Or Gnaomi At Home Plus Books, Mugs, Tees & Stickers. Madison, TN (February 14, 2024) – The Easter Bunny is making plans to hop over to your neighborhood on Sunday, March 31. For those tasked with lovingly creating an Easter Basket, consider the trend of a candy-free bundle that’s sweet on making childhood memories! My Gnome On The Roam® has five suggestions to wrap up in cellophane and top with a bow. Each is a treat and an adventure that will be enjoyed all year long. Marshmallow peeps? Not so much.

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Safety and Counterfeiting

 

EU’s new rules to protect children from harmful chemicals in toysThe European Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee on Tuesday (13 February) adopted new rules to ensure safety and protect children from harmful chemicals present in toys. The decision at the committee level in the Parliament follows the European Commission’s July proposal, which aimed to reduce the number of unsafe toys sold in the EU – with special emphasis on the online market …

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Associations, Shows, Awards, Events, and Festivals

Sony Pictures Animation’s CG pic Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse emerged as the big winner at 51st-annual Annie Awards ceremony, celebrating excellence in 32 animation categories. The web-slinger sequel dominated seven of these fields, winning Best Feature, Best Direction, Best Music, Best Production Design and Best Editorial. Across the Spider-Verse was the sixth highest-grossing film of 2023... 

 

Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment (WiT) is excited to announce the launch of the Tabletop Gaming Learning Community (TLC). The TLC aims to create an inclusive and supportive space for women working in, or aspiring to enter the tabletop gaming industry, facilitating collaboration, learning and growth. Led by seasoned tabletop industry professionals, the community will harness diverse talents and insights...

 

*** The above posted after February 16th ***

 

People of Play announce the winners of the 18th annual Young Inventor Challenge. Catastrophe of Hairballs, Hike the Spike, and Blanket Kingdom were among the top place finishers at People of Play’s 18th Annual Young Inventor Challenge (YIC) held in 2023 on November 4th at the Chicago Toy & Game Fair. The YIC is a yearly competition where students between the ages of 6 and 18 have the opportunity to create an original play product and pitch it to professional toy and game inventors for a chance to win big prizes.

 

Jada Toys to be title sponsor of Las Vegas Die-Cast Super Convention. The convention will be held in Las Vegas from Feb. 29-March 3. Jada Toys is officially a title sponsor of the Las Vegas Die-Cast Super Convention. The Die-Cast Super Convention is being hosted by Mad Mike and will feature four days of special events, panels, activations, and a full-size car show. Jada Toys will be showing off TrueSpec, its new line...

 

The Outdoor Toy Awards to return in June. Once more, the Outdoor Toy Awards will invite kid testers to put the very best outdoor toys through their paces. The Toyology and the Kidzcoolit network will oversee the media and social coverage of the awards and ten, toys will be crowned as the must-haves for get-out, get-up and get-active play. 

 

MGA’s Miniverse takes home 4 Circana Toy Industry Performance Awards. MGA Entertainment’s Miniverse brand won four of Circana’s Toy Industry Performance Awards for 2023, its first full year on the market. The awards include U.S. Top Selling Toy in the Explorative and Other Toys Supercategory, Europe’s Top Gaining Toy Property in Explorative and Other Toys Supercategory, 

The Pokémon Co. International will donate $10,000 to The Toy Foundation on Feb. 27, also known as Pokémon Day. The donation to the New York-based charity aims to provide philanthropic support to families and children in New York and other locations. The Pokémon Co. and The Toy Foundation have a long-term strategic partnership, as the charity’s mission to deliver the benefits of play to children in need...

The organizers of the British Animation Awards have unveiled the TV shows and films that are shortlisted this year, and Lupus Films and Aardman Animations are out in front.  Three of the four nominated entries in the Best Children’s Series category air on ITV: Eagle vs Bat’s The Sound Collector—Harp Strings, Illuminated Film Company’s The Rubbish World of Dave Spud—Moonbreaker and Aardman’s...

 

What if playtime could actually help kids heal? Join our next Children's Media Association online discussion with an all-star panel of toy industry insiders as they pull back the curtain on how play is transforming healthcare. Learn how cuddly robots and playful experiences are being used to ease children’s pain, reduce anxiety, and improve pediatric healthcare outcomes.

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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 readers. Archives can be found HERE

Yoshitaka MurayamaEiyuden Chronicle and Suikoden creator Yoshitaka Murayama has passed away. Rabbit & Bear Studios, the company founded by Murayama to develop Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes, shared the news on its website (as spotted by VGC).

"It's with a heavy heart and deep sadness we must inform you that the scenario writer and head of Rabbit & Bear Studios, Yoshitaka Murayama, has passed away on February 6 due to complications with an ongoing illness," reads the post.

"His hard work on Eiyuden Chronicle as scenario writer was finished but as his co-workers and friends, it saddens us to know that he won’t get to see the reactions from his fans. However, even with those feelings we need to accept the reality that he is no longer with us and continue to push his dream forward by releasing Eiyuden Chronicle to the world."

The studio said the finished game will maintain his "legacy and vision" and noted it will have more information on organizational changes in due course. Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes publisher 505 Games also paid its respects on X.

"It is with deep and profound sadness that we have learned of the passing of our friend Yoshitaka Murayama, the creator of the forthcoming Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes. Not only was he a true pioneer and visionary, creating cherished memories for millions of people around the world, but he was a wonderful partner and dear colleague," wrote the 505 team.

"His enthusiasm and creativity knew no bounds and the gaming world will feel emptier without him. All of us at Digital Bros and 505 Games wish to express our most sincere condolences to Murayama-san's family, friends, and all those at Rabbit & Bear at this time. He will be sorely missed."

Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes was pitched as a spiritual successor to the Suikoden franchise, which Yoshitaka Murayama helped create during his time at Konami in the '90s.

Murayama worked on multiple entries in the Suikoden series as a writer, director and producer before eventually leaving Konami in 2002 to explore the world of freelance development. At the time of writing, Hundred Heroes is still slated for release in April this year.

 

Mark Sharp. Toy World is sad to report the passing of Mark Sharp of Outsourced Sales Solutions.

Mark, who also worked with Brainstorm, passed away on 9th February at the age of 57. David Lartner, director at OSS, and Nick Saunders of Brainstorm, for which Mark was an agent, shared some words with Toy World.

David said: “It is with great sadness and utter shock that we have to announce the sudden passing of Mark Sharp.

“Mark was a well-travelled man, living and working around the world in Australia and Far East, who met the love of his life, Annie, whilst in a Kibbutz in the Middle East. Mark was always bursting with pride for his two wonderful daughters, Amber and Imogen, and was always talking about them and their futures.

“Mark was a valued member of the OSS team and will be greatly missed. He was a much loved agent by his customers and as one said to me earlier: he was the type of guy you wanted to go and have a beer with.

“On his return from his travels, with Annie on his arm, Mark started his career in the toy trade, first working with Ty Beanies and then with Schleich. He joined OSS in 2015. At OSS Mark was more than a work colleague – we were a band of brothers who loved supporting our customers and then enjoyed our many nights out and weekends away. We were a family and this is devastating to write.

“Our love and support are with Annie, Amber and Imogen and the rest of Mark’s family and friends at this truly sad time.”

Nick Saunders told Toy World: “The entire Brainstorm team is absolutely devastated. Mark has worked for us for many years and I have known him ever since I came into the toy trade. He was a delight to work with and we will all miss him immensely – as will all of his customers. It hardly seems believable that we were with him all through Toy Fair, and now he has gone so suddenly.”

Toy World would like to add its condolences to Mark’s family and everyone who knew and worked with him.

 

Stephen Kennedy Lynn, 1965 - January 12, 2024. Our dear brother Steve passed away from complications related to his Type 1 diabetes unexpectedly on January 12. His passing leaves all who knew him greatly saddened, as his big personality, enormous heart, and huge talent filled our lives for 58 years. Steve was born in Long Beach, the 6th of 7 children of Richard and Catherine Lynn. He graduated from Wilson High in 1983, heading right off to Cal State Long Beach where he graduated with an art degree and a 4.0 GPA in all classes. At both Wilson and CSULB, Steve was the resident illustrator for all published periodicals, and he designed and painted murals at both institutions. Some of his works can still be seen there and elsewhere throughout California. Steve had his own art studios in Long Beach, Anaglyph Studios and Sow’s Ear Studios, where he had a successful career in art of all media, particularly in sculpture. He designed and sculpted the very first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figures that were sold in stores, and he helped in the development of the characters themselves at the outset of their origination. Steve sculpted all of the best of the McDonald’s Happy Meal toys, co-created and sculpted Mattel’s Street Sharks and Street Dinosaurs, created and sculpted The Toxic Crusaders, and for several years, worked in the Disney Art Department at Disneyland, where he did everything, including illustrations, sculptures, and ride design. When Splash Mountain construction went over budget, Steve was instrumental in the decision to use the recently-closed America Sings figures in the new ride. Read more...

 

Carl Weathers dies at age 76: Weathers starred in the Rocky franchise, Predator, Star Wars: The Mandalorian, and many more movies and TV series. Weathers starred in the Rocky franchise, Predator, Star Wars: The Mandalorian, and many more movies and TV seriesCarl Weathers, the legendary Black actor who portrayed Apollo Creed in the Rocky films and starred in dozens of other movies and TV shows like Predator, The Mandalorian, and Toy Story 4, died on Thursday, February 1 at the age of 76.

 

Lutz Muller - Lutz died earlier this month. He was President of Klosters Trading Corporation. Provision of business intelligence to large financial institutions - banks, hedge funds, venture capital companies - as well as to non-publicly quoted toy manufacturers. Klosters Trading is no longer active and will not be kept updated. Lutz was a Swiss who came to the U.S. the long way around - from a small alpine village in Switzerland to Asia, then the UK and Belgium, then Australia and Brazil. His background can be summarized by three concepts - CEO, packaged consumer goods, turn-arounds. Lutz is multi-lingual - he speaks fluently Swiss German, English, German, French. Thai and serviceable Portugnol and Lao. He was educated on three continents including North America at Harvard. He was also a member of MENSA. 

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)

  1. How to win friends and influence people… it’s the Friday Blog!

  2. Jazwares launches lawsuit against Build-A-Bear

  3. Hasbro reports Q4 and full year 2023 results

  4. Spin Master publishes full year and Q4 2023 results

  5. DKB announces exclusive distribution partnership with Wow! Stuff

  6. Star Wars Disney Doorables launches worldwide

  7. Barbie launches new Colour Change Mermaid doll

  8. Obituary: Mark Sharp

  9. MGA’s Miniverse makes it mini at AnimeCon London

  10. Zuru hails strong 2023 performance

Licensing.biz Powered by Toyworld

  1. Warner Bros. names new EMEA Consumer Products lead

  2. Peppa Pig kicks off global Cinema Party celebrations

  3. Bagpuss celebrates 50th anniversary with new ranges

  4. Monster Jam Ramped Up coming to Birmingham

  5. Craft Buddy appoints Grapevine PR

  6. BBC Studios announces new projects for Bluey

  7. Finalists of 2024 British Animation Awards announced

  8. Paramount announces significant job cuts

  9. Generation Media announces join-in cinema partnership for Maya the Bee special

  10. New global licence deal inked for Nickelodeon Slime

ICv2: The Business of Geek Culture (US) 

​- Hasbro Loses $1.06 Billion in Q4

WizKids' 'D&D Classic Collection' Continues On

Wizards of the Coast Offers 'Magic: The Gathering' New Perspectives Grant

ICv2 Exclusive: 'Disney Lorcana' Enchanted Rare Reveal

'Dungeons & Dragons' 2024-25 Deets and Dates

Board Game Sales Down for Asmodee in Embracer Q3

Rolling for Initiative -- 'Murders at Karlov Manor' Prereleases and MetaZoo's Collapse

'Magic: The Gathering' Preorders Were Solid; The 'Big Five' Settle In

New 'DC HeroClix' Set Inbound from WizKids

'Dune: War for Arrakis' Gets Retail Release Date

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

Global Toy News

 

The Bugg Report (Australia)

 

hobbyDB

Casual Game Revolution

Video of the Week 

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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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