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June 3-10, 2022

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Welcome to Your Weekly News Brief!

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Happy Bloomin’ Friday!

We’re throwing a POP Pub Party next week on Tuesday, June 14th in Long Beach, CA!!!  Come one, come all! Join us at the Auld Dubliner from 6 - 11pm. There is no cost to attend, but we do need a headcount for our hosts at the pub, so please RSVP HERE!  

 

Huge THANK YOU to GPI - they are generously sponsoring the first $1500 in drinks. We plan to raise a glass to toymakers of all stripes, to summertime, and especially to friends. We’ll snap lots of photos and share them here like these from DISTOY recently. Hope to see you there!

Bonus - if you haven't already registered for ASTRA, you can register for a day (or more)  and walk the floor before crossing the street to the pub. I'm sure you'll see a lot of friendly faces on the show floor. 

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

Mary

"I am a long-time reader and champion of the Bloom Report. The quantity of quality articles on so many different aspects of our industry  is unmatched and  I regularly share and discuss them with my management team as an important business tool." 

- Jim Engle, President and Founder, Little Kids Inc. 

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Columnist - Nancy Zwiers

"Vital Activities" Enliven You - What are Yours?

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Back in 2011, when I was suffering from panic attacks in the face of a breast cancer diagnosis, my psychiatrist recommended I attend one of his workshops for cancer survivors called “Beat the Odds.”  The 10-week workshop included about a dozen cancer survivors, some of whom were in Stage 4 with little time left. 

 

None of us know the quantity of time we really have on this earth, but we all can improve the quality of our life, no matter what the circumstances.  So, how does one talk about quality of life with a Stage 4 cancer patient?

 

The two most important things I took away from the workshop are 1) do nothing for a portion of every day; and 2) engage in “vital activities” as much as possible.” 

 

The way I put the first point into practice is that I would stay in bed sipping coffee first thing in the morning while I pet my two cats for a half hour…I found it wonderful!!

 

As for the second point:  Vital activities are those that give you energy, bring you joy, and enliven you.  What better way to think about elevating your quality of life than maximizing vital activities?

 

We each made a list of our own vital activities.  Interestingly enough, the activities I listed all revolved around simple pleasures, like sipping coffee in bed and petting my cats.  The exercise helped me focus on what brings me joy.  (Quick side note:  joy is different from pleasure.  Pleasure is fleeting, while joy has depth and a long tail of well-being).

Just last month, I found a journal that I had been keeping as part of a journaling class in 2013.  This particular session was about time, and we were given many prompts, including the most thought provoking one for me: “Is time friend or foe?”  That led to thoughts about my next-door neighbor Naomi, who was just diagnosed with advanced Stage 4 lung cancer.  At age 52, she had probably never felt time to be as precious as she did then, I conjectured.  That prompted me to imagine, “If I only had two years to live, how would I spend my time?”    Read More. . .

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3 Truths and a Lie of the Week - Elliot Rudell

To be part of the game, all you need is a POP Profile with your Fun Facts completed and let us know! We'll do the rest! 

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Financial and Legal

Summer Infant, Inc, doing business as SUMR Brands, has announced that its stockholders have voted at a special meeting to adopt the previously announced definitive merger agreement pursuant to which the co. will be acquired by Kids2. The final voting results for each proposal voted on at the special meeting will be set forth in a Form 8-K filed by the Company with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Mighty Jaxx, an award-winning integrated future culture platform that designs and produces digital and phygital collectibles, has announced the multi-million-dollar acquisitions of local companies Kinetiquettes, a high-end statue collectible company, and PLAYe, a specialized DTC platform of consoles, video games, collectibles, and action figures.

Hasbro Board of Directors Issues Letter to Shareholders. Dear Fellow Shareholder: Following our 2022 Annual Meeting of Shareholders, on behalf of the entire Board and management team, we want to thank you for your investment, continued support, extensive engagement and constructive feedback. We have heard your perspectives, including around...

 

Funko has bought renowned collectibles company Mondo from movie theater chain Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. The sale was announced in a joint press statement issued by Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and Mondo. "Alamo is seizing opportunities to grow our cinema footprint... As the company resources are focused on this growth, we realized that perhaps a bold and exciting new chapter is about to begin for Mondo," ...

President Biden is expected to sign into law soon major legislation overhauling ocean shipping and U.S. port regulations. The U.S. House of Representatives on Monday passed by a vote of 369-42 the Ocean Shipping Reform Act (OSRA) of 2022, the Senate version of a reform bill passed by the House in December 2021. The legislation broadens the Federal Maritime Commission’s authority in regulating unfair business...

 

***the above posted after June 10th***

 

ASMODEE, DARK HORSE PARENT RAISING $1.05 BILLION. From Saudi Sovereign Wealth Fund. "Savvy Gaming Group’s investment of $1B enables us to continue executing our strategy proactively from a position of strength across the global gaming industry," Embracer Group CEO Lars Wingefors said of the new investment.  "Our relationship with Savvy Gaming Group will enable us to set up a regional hub in Saudi Arabia...

Toy World acquires ToyNews and Licensing.bizThe deal, which marks Alakat Publishing Ltd’s first-ever acquisition, will see both titles transfer over to the publisher of Toy World, strengthening its grip on the toy market and allowing the company to extend its activity in the licensing sphere.

The agreement will see both titles being taken over by Toy World following a brief handover period, after which ToyNews will no longer be published as a standalone magazine or website. However, Licensing.biz will continue as a news-focused website, and Toy World plans to make the website even more informative and relevant to the core licensing community.

 

Hasbro announced the preliminary results at the 2022 Annual Meeting of Shareholders, as provided by its proxy solicitors, which indicate that Hasbro shareholders have voted, with a substantial margin, to re-elect all 13 of Hasbro’s highly qualified directors to the Hasbro Board: Richard Stoddart, Kenneth Bronfin, Michael Burns, Hope Cochran, Chris Cocks, Lisa Gersh, Elizabeth Hamren, Blake Jorgensen, Tracy Leinbach, Edward Philip, Laurel Richie, Mary Beth West and Linda Zecher Higgins. Similarly, the Company’s say-on-pay proposal and auditor ratification were approved by the shareholders.

iCandy acquires Flying Sheep Studios establishing its presence in the European gaming market. In the video games area, the European gaming market is expected to be worth USD 27.4 billion in 2021. With its web technology that is size- and speed-efficient with cleaner and neater code, as well as lower server load, Flying Sheep Studios’ in-house HTML5 developer capabilities ensure on-time, high-quality games. 

World Bank warns of recession risk due to Ukraine war. Countries around the world are facing recession as the Ukraine war hits economies already rocked by the Covid pandemic, the World Bank has warned. Less developed countries in Europe and east Asia face a "major recession", it said. The risk of high inflation and low growth - so-called "stagflation" - is also higher, World Bank President David Malpass said. 

 

EU mandates USB Type-C chargers for mobile devices, handheld consoles. Beginning in the fall of 2024, all portable electronics sold in the European Union will need to use USB Type-C for their charging ports. The mandate was announced yesterday after an agreement was reached between the European Parliament and European Council.

Keywords buys Age of Empires: Definitive Edition dev Forgotten Empires for $32.5 million. Keywords Studios has acquired Age of Empires developer Forgotten Empires for $32.5 million. The game service provider said the deal will further its strategy of becoming the "go-to" technical and creative services platform for developers around the world. Forgotten Empires was established in 2013 and has become something of a real-time strategy specialist. The studio is best known for working on numerous Age of Empires projects, including expansions …

 

Epic Games boss Tim Sweeney slams "scam" Fortnite NFT project. Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney has warned Fortnite players to avoid a fake cryptocurrency project that is trying to affiliate itself with the popular multiplayer shooter. The chief exec seemed to be directly referring to a project called Fortnite Token, which claims to be a "fair-launch, community-driven" cryptocurrency project created by fans of Fortnite. At the time of writing, Fortnite Token has fewer than 2000 followers on Twitter but has been advertising using Fortnite branding …

Jubilant improvement to UK footfall. There was an upsurge in the number of shoppers hitting high streets and retail centres over the Jubilee Bank Holiday, according the British Retail Consortium’s BRC-Sensormatic IQ data, as consumers took advantage of the long weekend and reasonable weather to get out and about. Total UK footfall increased by 6.9% over the Jubilee weekend, compared with the average for May 2022. Total UK footfall for the whole week increased by 17.1%, compared to the average for May 2022.

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Financial Reporting

After a profitable Q1, IDW Publishing swung to a loss in its fiscal Q2 ended April 30, albeit a smaller one than in the same quarter a year ago. IDW Publishing revenues grew incrementally, to $6.1 million from $6.0 million in the year ago quarter. 

 

Playful Studios, the maker of Words With Friends and Lucky’s Tale, unveiled a Web3 game and raised $46 million for its The Wildcard Alliance division.

***The above posted after June 10th***

Target Corporation announces updated 2022 plan focused on inventory optimization

 

Five Below, Inc. announces first quarter fiscal 2022 financial results

Amazon drives more than three-quarters of the $36 billion US ecommerce channel ad market.

Retailers cancel orders amid excess inventory

 

Trends, Market Research, and State of the Industry

 

U.S. Toy Industry Sales Grew 1% in the First 4 Months of 2022, NPD Says.

***The above posted after June 10th***

 

Toy World Exclusive: the many sides of the Arts & Craft and Creative Play sector

Toy World brings you the latest in the Wheeled Toys category for this year, and how recent developments in transportation law could affect the sector.

 

At the recent Toymaster Show, Sam Giltrow caught up with a selection of indie retailers to find out how business is faring.

 

GLOBAL TOY SALES GROW 1% AS UNIT SALES DECLINE

 

TOP 20 ADULT GRAPHIC NOVELS

MAY 2022 NPD BOOKSCAN - TOP 20 KIDS GRAPHIC NOVELS

How global manufacturers are becoming digital companies

Too much of a goods thing: retailers are drowning in inventory

 

Toyjobs has been the dominant recruiting

Stories, Comments, and Advice

 

Mother of deaf daughter purchases $4,000 worth of Mattel dolls with cochlear implants for children with similar issues. NEW YORK -- A mom in Westchester County is going the extra mile for her daughter, who was born with severe hearing loss. CBS2's Astrid Martinez shows us how a special gift allowed her daughter to feel seen and celebrate her uniqueness. Many parents revel in the moment when their child talks...

 

Pushing Buttons: Why every big game looks the same. From identikit space pirates to a Call of Duty remake, news from the three big gaming expos reveals that nostalgia trumps new ideas in game design.  The absence of the E3 expo in Los Angeles for the past two years has left a gigantic vacuum in the video game calendar. Last week, the industry did its best to fill that gaping content maw with three online events...

 

The Best Two-Player Board Games.  Many of the most popular tabletop board games are designed for big groups—that’s what game nights are about, after all. But coordinating the schedules of a bunch of adults can be a puzzle more intimidating than the Saturday New York Times Crossword, so it’s nice to have options for a quiet night in with your partner, roommate, or friend.

 

HOW TOY LIBRARIES ARE FINDING SHELF SPACE IN THE INDUSTRY.  Toy libraries are, for the most part, exactly what they sound like. Instead of books, their shelves are stacked with toys that patrons can borrow and play with, then bring back. But, the concept isn’t entirely new. The USA Toy Library Association (USATLA) was founded back in 1984 when 15 toy library locations came together to share ideas.

Mechanical Turk: An elaborate 18th-century hoax that played chess like an AI robot. An elaborate device called the Mechanical Turk defeated Benjamin Franklin and Napoleon Bonaparte at chess. Edgar Allan Poe revealed the hoax. A year before the invention of the Turk, a magician arrived in the court of the empress and performed an illusionary act that mesmerized everyone, including Kempelen. 

 

HOW THE TOY INDUSTRY IS NAVIGATING THE METAVERSE AND WEB3. Let’s face it: kids are obsessed with their devices and they use them often‭. ‬Even parents who are trying to limit screen‭ ‬time need to realize that their kids are living in a digital age more advanced than the dial-up internet sessions‭ ‬with which‭ ‬older generations grew up‭. ‬Generation Alpha socializes and plays in a network of virtual worlds called the...

 

Figure Out What’s Required To Survive the Cut. Target is the latest major retailer to send shock waves through the market by announcing it would begin a massive surplus inventory cleanup through deep discounting, canceled orders and a sharper focus on high-turn items heading into a back half facing tempered sales expectations. Stress about clogged supply chains seemingly overnight has turned into frayed nerves...

 

Steve Reece's Toy Industry Journal - #7 IS THE GLOBAL TOY INDUSTRY STARTING TO FEEL THE PINCH AS HIGH INFLATION BITES? High inflation has been well reported in Western markets – reported rates for the USA & UK for instance are c. 8% currently, although real inflation is observably higher than this. Governments have some incentives to under report inflation, and anyone who has looked at petrol prices at filling stations knows that 8% is an almost ridiculous under-statement.

 

***The above posted posted after June 10th***

 

John Baulch, Toy World - Exciting times …it’s the Friday Blog! I hope all of our British readers – at home and abroad – had a wonderful Platinum Jubilee weekend. No doubt about the big winner from the whole event; take a bow, Paddington Bear. An immigrant who arrived in the UK by boat and managed to evade both the Palace Guards and Priti Patel’s Rwanda extraction squad to share tea and marmalade sandwiches with the Queen – a truly heartwarming vignette (if any of our international readers haven’t seen the televised segment, I can heartily...

Walmart, the second-largest online seller in the US (having overtaken eBay last year) could be launching Walmart Marketplace in the UK, says the home delivery expert ParcelHero. This would finally give the UK a significant alternative to Amazon when shopping online for products, including tech, fashion and home.

KidsKnowBest on trends and licensing ahead of B&LIS. As the specialist creative agency prepares to appear at the Brand & Licensing Innovation Summit later this month, Toy World speaks to strategy director Sian Rider. I’m a strategy director: I find creative solutions for my clients fuelled by insight.

 

Kids Brand Owners Turn Up The Heat On NFTs. Will NFTs change how kids collect? Execs from Invisible Universe, Toymint, Encantos and Toikido have adopted the tech and are banking on the promise of utility, value and ownership for consumers. Three letters that elicit an almost immediate reaction today are N-F-T. Unique pieces of virtual content—like artwork or music—NFTs’ ownership details are stored in...

 

At least be bearable’: in the big business of music for kids, parents are the final frontier. How do you make songs children love and adults can stand? A new batch of children’s music artists think they’ve found out. It’s 8.27am and I’m ushering a toddler and a school child into the car, a baby strapped to my chest just to keep things interesting. From the driver’s seat of our sultana-strewn Kia Carnival, I switch from my...

 

Niche Appeal Equals Mass Popularity. Individual fandom can escalate into large-scale consumer movements at rapid speed these days, and companies need to be revolutionizing their marketing playbooks to keep up, says toy expert Christopher Byrne. It took nearly two years for Pogs, cardboard bottle caps reimagined as collectible game pieces in 1991, to become a nationwide fad. Three decades later, fads can happen...

 

Graham Saltmarsh, MD of Licensing International UK, on building a post-pandemic retail and licensing strategy. One of the panels you’re moderating focuses on building a post-pandemic licensing strategy. Why do brands and retailers need one? What’s so different now? It’s always good to have a plan in place and a plan B just in case! We learned a lot during the pandemic, it makes sense to diversify your ...

 

This game designer predicted COVID 10 years ago. Here’s what’s coming next. According to Jane McGonigal, the pandemic wasn’t unimaginable. “We just didn’t have a critical mass of people imagining it.” In January 2020, when the coronavirus started making headlines around the world, Jane McGonigal’s inbox was flooded with emails from Silicon Valley execs, government officials, and nonprofit leaders. 

Content underpinning Action Figures & Collectibles. Everything from video gaming, anime and even NFTs is helping to push characters in the Action Figures & Collectibles market to the fore, as Sam Giltrow discovers. ‘Get off your Xbox’ is what many parents can be heard yelling up and down the country, but it’s fair to say that these very games are leading to a new way of play and reshaping the Action Figures & Collectibles sector.

 

Moneeba Baloch, Consumer Insights director at Kantar, explores how grandparents are helping out when it comes to treating the kids. Official data from the Office for National Statistics shows that inflation soared at its fastest rate for 30 years in February. As high street prices rise, almost 60% of households are now worried about spiralling costs and, as parents’ budgets are squeezed, they may spend less on toys. 

 

How Lockdowns Unlocked A Children’s Privacy Problem. A recent Human Rights Watch report on data-tracking related to virtual schooling reveals gaps in how kids use internet platforms and how government policies protect them. For families, teachers and governments, the pandemic threw a monkey wrench into the well-oiled education machine. In some cases, established tech platforms filled the need for virtual...

 

Kidcos Map Out Early Metaverse Strategies.  Genius Brands International, Dark Slope and Star Stable are placing big bets on what’s next in kids content, and using digital expertise to shape the future of the metaverse as it unfolds. It’s more than just a buzzy idea, but far from a concrete space yet. But nevertheless, kidcos are starting to place big bets on the metaverse, with business strategies rooted in the real world...

 

When Shipping Containers Sink in the Drink.  We’ve supersized our capacity to ship stuff across the seas. As our global supply chains grow, what can we gather from the junk that washes up on shore? here is a stretch of coastline in southern Cornwall known for its dragons. The black ones are rare, the green ones rarer; even a dedicated dragon hunter can go a lifetime without coming across a single one.

UNPACKING THE PREVALENCE OF MYSTERY AND DEDUCTION IN TABLETOP GAMING. Many of the newest games hitting store shelves and gamers’ too-full storage closets can be boiled down to a simple, three-word question: Who done it? Or, more colloquially, whodunnit? Games that center on mystery — of both the crime-solving and social deduction persuasion — have been a long-standing staple in the category. 

Plastic toys poised to be the next big export earner. The plastic toy industry could play a significant role in expanding Bangladesh's export basket as shipments are expected to hit an estimated $466.31 million by 2030 if the current annual growth trend holds steady at 24 per cent, according to speakers at a seminar. "With this growth rate, Bangladesh could become the 28th largest toy exporter in the world that year," said Md Jashim Uddin, president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

 

Content underpinning action figures & collectibles. ‘Get off your Xbox’ is what many parents (myself included) can be heard yelling up and down the country, but it’s fair to say that these very games are leading to a new way of play and reshaping the Action Figures & Collectibles sector. “Boys aren’t so reliant upon the TV show or the blockbuster movie as they once were in finding things that they like, hence why anime and video game properties have become so popular,” explains Nic Aldridge of Bandai UK.

It’s the end of a Pokémon era. The coming of Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet demonstrate the brand’s next evolution. Since the beginning of Pokémon, there has always been Junichi Masuda. As a cofounder of Pokémon developer Game Freak, Masuda worked on the very first titles, Pokémon Red and Pokémon Green (Pokémon Blue in the states), released in 1996. By 2002, he began serving as series director...

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History and Nostalgia

 

Do you ever wonder who first thought of Dice? Truly balanced dice didn’t exist until the Renaissance period, but dice themselves have existed for far longer than that. For example, Romans in the fort of Richborough in the UK played games of chance with dice. In the Americas, Native peoples often constructed two-sided dice that were curved on one side and flatter on the other using materials like fruit pits, shells, teeth, or...

 

***The above posted after June 10th***

 

The Game of Jaws from Ideal. Released in 1975 by Ideal, The Game of Jaws capitalized on the success of the blockbuster Steven Spielberg film that hit theatres on June 20 of that year. The concept of the game is reminiscent of the scene from the movie where Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfus) and Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) open the digestive tract of a deceased shark to discover fish (as expected), a Louisiana license plate...

 

Twiggy from Milton Bradley (1967). “A Game That Makes Every Girl, Like Twiggy, The Queen of Mod”. The psychedelic ’60s provided the backdrop for the Twiggy board game from Milton Bradley. Released in 1967, it gave players the chance to live like Twiggy — the famed British model and actress who was “The Queen of Mod” in her day. .

 

6 great live-action movies based on toys, ranked by Rotten Tomatoes. Recently at 2022's CinemaCon, director Greta Gerwig revealed the first look of her live-action Barbie movie. The movie stars The Suicide Squad actress Margot Robbie as Barbie, Ryan Gosling as Ken, and a range of other celebrities including America Ferrara, Emma Mackey, Simu Liu, Kate McKinnon, and Michael Cera..

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Licensing 

 

Maurizio Distefano, the Italian licensing agent for BBC Studios’ animated show Bluey and Giochi Preziosi, Italian distributor of Moose Toys, just launched a new collection of Bluey toys in Italy.  Inspired by the colorful world of Bluey, the collection includes plush toys of Bluey and sister Bingo and six sets of action figures based on the show. Additionally, there will be two mini playsets and a Heeler 4WD family vehicle. 

Pocahontas has traveled “Just Around the Riverbend” to join the Tonies family as the newest Tonies character figure full of iconic songs from Disney’s Pocahontas and an audio story. Families can place the Tonies figure on top of the Toniebox, a soft, 5-by-5-inch speaker cube, to activate the songs and stories attached to that figure. Designed for kids ages 3 and up, the Toniebox is made of durable fabric without screens...

 

Speed and vocabulary skills come into play in Pik Qwik, the new lightning-fast word game from TCG Toys, the toy and game company behind the popular strategy game Trominii and Rummoli, as well as the manufacturer of classics like Mexican Train Dominos, Chinese Checkers and Cats Pajamas. A whirlwind word game set against the buzzer, Pik Qwik tests vocabulary skills like never before! Two to four players can get.

Cyber Group Studios, a leading producer and distributor of animated programs for kids and families, has teamed up with Nippon Animation to produce a feature-length animated fantasy adventure film called Nanami and the Quest for Atlantis, based on the Japanese classic TV series, Tico and Friends. The new feature-length film marks the beginning of what is expected to be a long-term collaboration between...

 

The Sims FreePlay has teamed up with LEGO DOTS for a virtual partnership that will allow players to bring LEGO DOTS products to life within the game. The Sims FreePlay is a mobile experience that allows Sims creators – known as Simmers – to create an entire town inspired by their own style and personality. Opening a new world of DOTS-inspired fun and in-game products, the collaboration – engineered by Electronic ...

 

Burger King has partnered with Mattel on new, limited-edition Barbie and Hot Wheels toys. At participating int'l restaurants and in the U.S., King Jr. Meals feature a new collection of diverse Barbie premium dolls and classic Hot Wheels vehicles, while supplies last. Barbie is one of the most diverse doll lines on the market, offering fans a variety of skin tones, eye colors, hair textures, body types and fashions to choose from. 

***The above posted after June 10th***

OnChain Studios has announced a global, multi-year partnership with Mattel for its Cryptoys NFT platform, a new generation of digital toys that live on the blockchain. The partnership, OnChain Studios’ first and only with a toy company, will bring Mattel’s iconic brands into a collectible, interactive world through Cryptoys’ expansive and playable universe, ushering in a new era for the toy and game industry...

Bent Pixels Asia (BPA), the region’s leading revenue accelerator for premium YouTube esports and gaming creators, announced that it has entered a partnership with Tier One Entertainment, the Philippines’ leading gaming and esports entertainment talent and entertainment co., to help the latter’s creators accelerate their revenue from YouTube reserved media offerings, as well as grow their capabilities as creators...

Mattel Games will release UNO Star Wars, a new version of the classic card game, into hobby trade. The UNO card matching game heads off to a galaxy far, far away for a special Star Wars edition. This game features images of characters from the Skywalker Saga of movies. It also comes with a special "The Force" wild card, which is unique to this edition. The game box comes with 112 cards and rules. 

Mentos and Chupa Chups, two of the most iconic names in the candy and chewing gum universe, have signed an agreement with Destra, a Brazilian brand licensing co, to expand the presence of their brands in the Brazilian market. Mentos, sold in over 130 countries, enjoys huge int'l brand awareness and is number #1 globally in the mint category. In addition, it is also the 3rd in candy and chewing...

Netflix has announced eight new European projects joining its animation slate this year, and they’ll all be showcased at Annecy next week.

To get viewers into the Christmas spirit (literally!) this December, British prodco Timeless Films is producing the CG-animated film Scrooge: A Christmas Carol. Directed by Stephen Donnelly and featuring a new score from late composer Leslie Bricusse, this reimagining of the classic...

 

Canada’s Corus Entertainment revealed in its upfront presentation today that it has acquired three new series based on legacy IPs for fall premieres on kids channels Teletoon (six to 11s) and Treehouse (preschoolers).  Bound for Teletoon is HBO Max’s Gremlins: The Secrets of Mogwai, an animated prequel to the 1984 Gremlins movie. This co-pro from Warner Bros. Animation and Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television...

 

Warner Bros. Themed Entertainment on behalf of DC, and Spyscape are delighted to announce the opening of Batman x Spyscape, a brand-new interactive experience that will drop fans into the heart of a Gotham City mystery, with public previews beginning on June 8th in New York City. Fans will be able to sign-up online at spyscape.com.

New global presales have been signed for CG-animated series Hello Kitty: Super Style in several European territories and Latin America.

The 52 x 11-minute preschool co-pro from Watch Next, Banijay’s Monello and Maga Animation Studio will be heading to Canal+ and M6 (France), RAI (Italy), Tiny POP (UK), RTS (Switzerland) and Discovery Kids Latin America. It’s in production now and expected to premiere in 2022.

 

Banijay Kids & Family has signed an option agreement with Toronto-based publisher Kids Can Press to develop a new preschool TV series based on Arnold the Super-ish Hero. The picture book, written by Heather Tekavec and illustrated by Guillaume Perreault, was published last year. Its titular character Arnold helps out at his family’s superhero business. Although he’s not a superhero himself, his trajectory changes one...

 

Award-winning animation co. Omens Studios has secured a key deal with Sky Kids for its brand new preschool series 123 Number Squad!. The UK broadcaster has pre-bought two seasons of the show for its on demand channel Sky Kids and streaming service NOW. Aimed at children aged 3-6, the first season will start airing in Feb 2023. The CG animated series is executive produced by leading television...

 

Spread Group has signed a deal with Paramount Consumer Products to produce print-on-demand products for the European market for five iconic properties: Flashdance, Top Gun, Star Trek, Garfield and SpongeBob SquarePants. Sustainability is at the heart of the partnership. The Spread Group’s print-on-demand offering means an item is only printed after it has been ordered. 

 

‘GHOSTBUSTERS’ ANIMATED SERIES IN THE WORKS FROM NETFLIX, SONY PICTURES ANIMATION. Who ya gonna call? In Netflix’s case, Jason Reitman and Gil Kenan of Ghost Corps Inc. The duo behind last year’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife and stewards for the future of Ghost Corps will executive produce a new Ghostbusters animated series that Sony Pictures Animation is developing with Netflix.

 

Clash at the Castle set to boost WWE success. Almost a $1b global brand at retail, WWE is a heavyweight licence, and set to get even bigger with the staging of the first UK stadium show in 30 years. Sam Giltrow chats to WWE’s VP of Licensing & Retail Consumer Products, Carl Lawrence, to find out what the big event will mean for the brand, and toy retailers. Michael Hick, VP and GM for Mattel, which has enjoyed a rich and long...

‘ADA TWIST, SCIENTIST’ CELEBRATES THE WONDERS OF EVERYDAY SCIENCE. Why is the sky blue? What is a bird’s nest made of‭? ‬How does electricity work‭? ‬The world is full of mysteries‭, ‬but as the‭ ‬Ada Twist, Scientist‭ ‬theme song says‭, ‬“a mystery‭, ‬a riddle‭, ‬a puzzle‭, ‬or a quest‭, ‬there are wonders to discover and hypotheses to test‭!‬”‭ ‬

Tilting Point, WhaleApp and Hasbro partner to bring Clue characters to Hidden Hotel: Miami Mystery Game. Tilting Point, a free-to-play game publisher, WhaleApp, a specialist in story-driven games, and Hasbro are joining forces to bring some of the characters of the mystery board game Clue to Hidden Hotel: Miami Mystery, during a month-long event. Hidden Hotel: Miami Mystery is a hidden objects game available on...

 

IMG to launch licensing program for YouTube’s ‘Booba’. 3D Sparrow Group, a U.K.-based animation company, has appointed IMG to extend “Booba,” a global non-dialogue preschool family show following the adventures of a joyful, funny and curious creature and his friends, through product and brand licensing partnerships. 

 

Dan Dee International, Afro Unicorn enter a long-term licensing agreement. Dan Dee International and Animal Adventure, known for its baby, pet, plush and home decor merchandise, entered a licensing partnership with Afro Unicorn, a diverse lifestyle brand that represents people of color (POC) through inspiring characters and designs. 

 

Maurizio Distefano Licensing announces the arrival of Bluey toys in Italy. Maurizio Distefano Licensing, Italian agent for BBC Studios’ property Bluey, has announced the arrival at retail of new Bluey toys from Giochi Preziosi, the Italian distributor of master toy licensee Moose Toys Bluey toys hit the shelves in large-scale retail shops and major toy shop chains across Italy from 22 May. 

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People of Play

Mattel appointed Josh Silverman to serve as global head of consumer products and chief franchise officer, effective Sept. 1st. Silverman joins Mattel from The Walt Disney Co. where he spent more than a decade in its consumer products div.. In his new role, Silverman will oversee global consumer products licensing, franchise management, retail development, as well as publishing, live experiences, and location-based ent.

 

Asmodee USA Distribution announced that Andre Kieren has stepped down as their U.S. Head of Distribution, and that Steve Buckmaster has been tapped to fill the role in the interim. Kieren had been in the role of U.S. Head of Distribution for 5 yrs, during which Asmodee USA saw continuous growth. Buckmaster, who is currently the Global Head of Distribution and the former GM  of Asmodee UK...

Jenny Klein has signed an overall deal for television content with independent studio Entertainment One. Under the two-year pact, Klein will develop genre and drama-based television content and will serve as showrunner on eOne’s Power Rangers series that is currently in development at Netflix. She’ll collaborate on the series with Jonathan Entwistle who is overseeing the Power Rangers universe under a deal ...

 

Roz Nowicki, head of global consumer products and franchise marketing, Mattel, will exit her post as of June 30.  During her time with the leading toy co., Nowicki oversaw the growth of Mattel’s location-based entertainment and direct-to-retail initiatives on a global scale, as well as spearheaded and built a newly reorganized and high performing team.  "It has been an honor to lead the consumer products and... Nike, Zara...

 

***The above posted after June 10th***

 

Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) Chief Executive Bob Chapek announced a major leadership shift on Thursday, promoting Dana Walden to chairman of general entertainment content as the company works to build its streaming television efforts. Walden replaces veteran Hollywood executive Peter Rice, who is leaving Disney. Both executives joined Disney in 2019 when the company acquired entertainment assets from 21st Century Fox.

 

Kidscreen has confirmed that APAC head of kids Leslie Lee is leaving his role as part of a post-merger reorg in Warner Bros. Discovery’s India, Southeast Asia and Korea division. He’ll be replaced by Christopher Ho (pictured), who moves up to senior network director, kids content for Southeast Asia and Korea. Ho previously reported to Lee and oversaw Cartoon Network and Boomerang in Southeast Asia, Australia, New...

Disney has hired former Apple exec Mark Bozon as VP of next-generation storytelling and creative experiences. In his new role, Bozon will lead the House of Mouse’s metaverse strategy and build a multidisciplinary team to deliver interconnected consumer experiences across gaming, film, toys and parks. He reports to Mike White, SVP of next-generation storytelling and consumer experiences. White is a 10-year veteran...

 

Paula Taborda dos Guaranys has been named EVP of acquisitions and development at Paris-based distributor PGS Entertainment. She started in her newly created position last Monday and is based in Barcelona, Spain. Taborda dos Guaranys will provide strategic direction for kids and family content development in the global market, and expand the company’s sales portfolio through acquisitions. 

 

“Power Kid Podcast,” welcomes Cassidy Smith, president of the Uniche Collective to the show. For 18 yrs, Smith — an incoming member of ASTRA's board of directors — served as VP of sales and marketing at Hape Int'l. Now, as president of its new specialty division, the Uniche Collective, Smith and his team scour the globe to find and develop products exclusively for savvy specialty customers.

 

Opening a new world to children through the joy of reading has been a lifelong mission for LeVar Burton, so the legendary actor, presenter, director, podcaster and author is taking on a new role as the Chief Reading Officer (CRO) for Osmo from BYJU’S. Burton has been a high-profile advocate of reading for decades and was drawn to the engaging way Osmo from BYJU’S uses technology to help children...

 

Former WB. Discovery Exec Steps Into Lead Content Role At PBS KIDS.  Adriano Schmid has more than two decades of experience in producing educational kids content, and will start at the US pubcaster later this month. He brings more than two decades of experience in development and production to the role, and will oversee the PBS KIDS team and its full content library.

PlayMonster is proud to announce the appointment of Darby Zahradnik to the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association’s (ASTRA) Board of Directors. This appointment supports the company’s continued commitment to serve specialty toy retailers in North America. Zahradnik will serve on the Board of Directors for a three year term, serving through 2025. 

Ken Goodisson joins Maxx Group as commercial director, EMEA. Maxx Group is proud to announce the appointment of toy industry veteran Ken Goodisson as commercial director, EMEA. In this newly created role, Ken is responsible for leading the sales and marketing functions for YuMe Brands in EMEA with an emphasis on the company’s toy business.

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Companies and Brands

 

Pluto TV launched Transformers TV, the first dedicated Transformers streaming channel. The free service contains more than 200 hrs of content, including fan favorites Transformers: Bumblebee Cyberverse Adventures, Transformers: Prime, and Transformers: Robots in Disguise. 

“We could not be more excited to work with Pluto TV to bring this dedicated Transformers channel to life,” says Jenny Whitlock, SVP ...

 

Trefl, a jigsaw puzzle company based out of Europe, is ready to make its U.S. debut. The company plans to launch a collection of the company’s top European best-sellers, including the Trefl Wood Craft Origin line, the Trefl Prime Puzzle, and its original licensed and core puzzles.  “As the puzzle category continues to grow, and more families and friends begin to gather in person, we have identified the perfect ...

 

Mattel inked a multi-year global partnership deal with OnChain Studios to feature its brands on the Cryptoys NFT platform. Under the new deal, OnChain Studios will bring Mattel brands into a collectible, interactive world of animated, playable digital toys that live on the Flow blockchain. “As owners of one of the largest portfolios of children and family entertainment franchises in the world, and as the first toy company...

Far Out Toys‘ Glo-Up Girls Season 2 will debut exclusively at Walmart stores in the U.S. this August. The wave of six dolls will come in all-new packaging and feature glammed-up looks with new styles, new hair, and new ways to transform — all ready to rock, right out of the box. When Glo-Up Girls launched last year, the Season 1 dolls followed the TikTok glow-up trend and came with spa masks and pajamas.

Readyland LLC is introducing their proprietary Readyland Books, the first printed books that work with Alexa to create an immersive reading experience that makes reading even more magical. Get ready for the ultimate screen-free summer boredom buster – books you can talk to! For the first time ever, with Readyland books, kids can actually talk with the characters, respond to questions, play games, choose songs...

Xilam Animation, an independent producer and distributor of animated content, has announced the signing of deals with Disney to produce two new animated series for its Disney+ platform, The Doomies and a second season of Chip ‘n’ Dale: Park Life. At Annecy Intl Animated Film Festival, Disney announced the production of the upcoming series, The Doomies, an original creation by Xilam Animation...

 

Netflix has confirmed it will expand its video game catalog to almost 50 titles by the end of 2022 with the addition of new projects from notable studios and developers. Further outlining its plans for Netflix Games during its 'Geeked Week' event, the streaming company announced a deluge of new and upcoming releases, including some based on popular Netflix projects such as La Casa de Papel and The Queen's Gambit.

The LEGO Group is continuing to streamline its supply chain by investing more than $1 billion to build a new factory in Chesterfield County, Virginia. Ground-breaking on the 1.7 million square foot carbon-neutral facility will take place this fall with full production expected to begin in 2025. More than 1,760 American jobs are expected to be created at the facility within the next 10 years.

 

World’s best ads ever #61: Mattel Barbie spot thaws Disney’s ice-cold grip on Christmas.  The ‘Imagine the Possibilities’ campaign was a risky one for Barbie-owner Mattel. 2015 – the year the ad was released – was peak Frozen. Disney’s movie had hit screens just a year before and quickly became the highest-grossing animated film of all time. Toys and other merchandise relating to the blockbuster lined store shelves...

 

MATTEL IS RERELEASING ITS FIRST BLACK FASHION DOLL AS A BARBIE SIGNATURE COLLECTIBLE. In case you didn’t know, Mattel once offered a doll line called “Francie,” marketed as “Barbie’s MODern Cousin.” It was within this line that Mattel launched its first Black fashion doll in 1967. Now, 55 years later, the company is adding a reproduction of the doll to its Barbie Signature Collection

Squid Game: The Challenge, a new 10-episode Netflix series, has been unveiled. The show, based on the company’s most popular series of all time, Squid Game, would have the “biggest cast and lump cash reward in reality TV history.” It was dubbed the “largest reality competition ever” by Netflix. Unlike the Korean dystopian drama, the new reality show will not be a matter of life and death. 456 recruits from around the world...

 

Spin Master, a leading global children’s entertainment company, has cooked up something sweet with Buddy Valastro for its Kinetic Sand brand. Dubbed a Kinetic Creator, Buddy traded in his batter and fondant for Kinetic Sand, revealing a 2 ½ minute video (also shared on his instagram) where he creates his iconic 6-layer rainbow cake entirely out of Kinetic Sand.

Hit by war, Ukraine toy maker UGears back in business. Sweet-smelling wood chips cover the factory floor again at the toy manufacturer where Robert Milayev works now that production has restarted after the withdrawal of Russian troops. Thanks to donations, the factory outside Kyiv is back making wooden toys following a three-month hiatus that started when fighting with Moscow's army left the factory damaged.

***The above posted after June 10th***

 

The Monster Jam live show will visit London for the first time on 18th June and fans can recreate the action at home with the Spin Master toy line. Larger-than-life sporting experience Monster Jam heads to London for the first time this summer. Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, the adrenaline-charged, interactive experience for the whole family promises world-class athletes locked in intense competitions of speed & skill.

 

Elmo, Cookie Monster, Oscar the Grouch and more of Sesame’s Street’s family-friendly residents are set to take to the stage in the brand’s first off-Broadway musical. Developed by Sesame Workshop and New York-based live entertainment company Rockefeller Productions, Sesame Street: The Musical will premiere this fall at Theater Row in Manhattan. This marks the brand’s first move back to live events since...

Spin Master is now offering the Big Potato Games line and Marvel Zombies to the hobby trade via ACD Distribution and direct to retailers, a Spin Master representative told ICv2 at ACD Games Day. Big Potato Games, a UK co. which describes its games as “easy to learn, quick to play, and hard to put down,” entered the U.S. market in 2016 through a 3-year brand exclusive at Target. In 2019, it signed a 3-year license...

Speed and vocabulary skills come into play in Pik Qwik, the new lightning-fast word game from TCG Toys, the toy and game company behind the popular strategy game Trominii and Rummoli, as well as the manufacturer of classics like Mexican Train Dominos, Chinese Checkers and Cats Pajamas. A whirlwind word game set against the buzzer, Pik Qwik tests vocabulary skills like never before! Two to four players...

Families who are hesitant to hit the road amid inflation/record-high gas prices can now get their travel fix at home with an eccentric, new board game from Big Potato: Zillionaires: Road Trip USA! To celebrate the game’s release, Big Potato is giving a lucky winner $5,000 and a copy of the game for the road trip of a lifetime.

While Dad Jokes may get a bad wrap, Bazooka Candy Brands is giving Dad Joke enthusiasts everywhere a chance to join in a celebration of Dad Jokes through another fun Bazooka Father’s Day campaign. Bazooka Bubble Gum is known for its Bazooka Joe comics that feature wholesome, exaggerated punchlines in the classic spirit of the “Dad Joke.”

Mrs Wordsmith, the award-winning play-to-learn company proudly launches Word Tag, an adventure-filled video game that uses missions, rewards, and hilarious character narratives to help kids ages 7-13 boost their vocabulary and learn up to 1,000 new words each year! With only 15 minutes of daily gameplay, kids will add 3 new words to their vocabulary, helping them achieve academic excellence from reading and writing...

 

NEW IN TOWN: [MODI]FYING THE TOY AISLE. Growing up in the U.S., Modi Toys Co-Founders Avani Modi Sarkar and her brother Viral always felt connected to their South Asian roots and their Hindu heritage. It wasn’t until they both became parents that they realized something was missing: There were no resources to cultivate that same link to Hinduism for their kids. 

 

ThreeSixty Group‘s MerchSource tapped PlayWise Partners to serve as the official public relations agency of record for its FAO Schwarz brand, including the full portfolio of FAO Schwarz toys and the flagship retail store located in New York City’s Rockefeller Plaza. “We are excited to partner with PlayWise and benefit from their leadership as veteran PR experts in the toy industry,” says MerchSource CMO Jill Nordquist.

 

Just Play announced the release of a Ukraine Relief Special Edition Slinky in partnership with The Toy Foundation (TTF) to provide humanitarian aid for Ukrainian children and families. The blue and yellow Slinky is available now at Amazon, Meijer, and other retailers for $5, with 100% of profits funding Ukraine relief efforts through TTF’s Emergency Relief Fund.

Marvel Comics and Penguin Random House Publisher Services (PRHPS) have signed an exclusive multi-year sales and distribution deal that will shift book-channel distribution of Marvel’s trades and original graphic novels, both new and backlist, to PHRPS. The new contract will begin with books that go on sale on April 1, 2023. 

Devir Games announced that it will publish Schmidt Spiele's titles in English for the U.S. market starting in 2022.  Under this agreement, Devir Games will publish new Schmidt Spiele titles as well as reprint titles from the Drei Magier line in English. The first releases in this agreement includes Reiner Knizia’s Mille Fiori, a card drafting game, that launched at Essen Spiele 2021.

 

Forever 21 collaboration with Mattel brings Barbie to the metaverse. The fast-fashion retailer is partnering with global toy company Mattel to release a special assortment of vintage style apparel items, swim, sleepwear, beauty, accessories, and home décor, inspired by the Mattel Barbie DreamHouse line of toys. The collection will be simultaneously available in-store, online, and in the “Forever 21 Shop City” immersive...

 

Leading toy manufacturer Funskool India has acquired the rights from Asmodee to manufacture and distribute its popular game Abalone in India.  R Jeswant, CEO of Funskool, said, "For Funskool, it is another big step forward in our Make in India programme. More of such initiatives will follow.”

 

Children’s audio system Tonies has unveiled a new line-up for the summer including Peppa Pig’s George, Tee and Mo, Swan Lake, Pinocchio and Monty & Co, as well as superheroes Owlette, Catboy and Gekko as the PJ Masks. Launching in June and July, they will be joined by Pride Tales, a Tonie dedicated to celebrating and reinforcing positive Pride messages for listeners and their families, which launches for Pride Month in June.

 

L.O.L. Surprise UK hosted an exclusive pop-up in Hamleys Regent Street to mark the Platinum Jubilee. Visitors were “royally wowed” as the L.O.L. Surprise! take over of Hamleys’ Regent Street store showcased the new Queens range over the bank holiday weekend. Shoppers were able to celebrate the Jubilee with exciting activities, including the chance to take a seat on the exclusive L.O.L. throne and strike a pose in the ...

 

Character Options is celebrating a ‘heroic’ first two weeks for GooZonians, with its largest marketing investment to date and the launch of its first child-facing YouTube channel. The successful GooZonians launch included a raft of marketing activity comprising influencer activations, TV, press outreach and more, as well as the release of the first GooZonians webisode on YouTube. 

Steamforged takes Epic Encounters: Local Legends to Kickstarter. The tabletop game creator and publisher Steamforged Games has unveiled a new spin-off of its ever-growing and best-selling IP, Epic Encounters. Epic Encounters: Local Legends is a supplement filled with unique, ready to play taverns, inns, pubs and other hostelries for any fantasy roleplaying game. Launching on Kickstarter on the 28th June, ...

 

Ravensburger, publisher behind puzzles, board games and toys, is partnering with “Minecraft” to translate the online universe into jigsaw puzzle form for the first time. The new line features both adult and kids’ puzzles and is now available for pre-order on Amazon. “Ravensburger is proud to have been selected as Minecraft’s global puzzle partner,” says Thomas Kaeppeler...

Attend New York City Fashion Week in 'Make It Happen'. Indie Boards and Cards will release Make It Happen, a new matching game, into retail on June 29, 2022. In Make It Happen, players take on the roles of design team members at New York City Fashion Week. They are tasked with picking fabrics in an effort to ready the most fabulous collection of clothes on the runway. 

Green fingers start with Dantoy’s eco-friendly gardening kit. Leading sustainable toy brand Dantoy has designed a play set to inspire the next generation of horticulturists. Solid and durable, and designed to help develop fine motor skills, encourage creativity and imagination, the Dantoy BioPlastic Gardening Kit lets kids discover the world of gardening and will keep them entertained for hours. 

 

Asmodee Will Release 'Farmerstein' into U.S. retail. Asmodee will release FarmerStein, a new card game by Giochi United, into U.S. retail on July 7, 2022. In FarmerStein, players take on the roles of crazy scientists trying to mutate plants into a fearsome army. They will play Plants using a pool of Mutagens to challenge other players, all while they stave off the invasion of the Zombie Zucchini. 

Zombie marksmen going hunting in 'World-Z League'. Trick or Treat Studios will release World-Z League, a rubber band target shooting game, into retail on June 29, 2022. In World-Z League, players take on the roles of marksmen at a Zombie Shooting Association event. Each player will choose a team, place their pieces behind chipboard terrain, and shoot rubber bands at their opponent's zombies. 

 

Uwe Rosenberg's 'Atiwa' coming. Lookout Games has announced Atiwa, from veteran designer Uwe Rosenberg (Bohnanza, Agricola).  The game will premiere at this year’s Spiel fair in Essen, Germany, and will be launched in North America through Asmodee after the show. The Atiwa is a region in eastern Ghana, home to a variety of fruit bat often considered a pest.  

 

The Barbie Truck Tour is back for 2022 with exclusive Malibu Barbie merch. For Barbie’s 60th birthday in 2019, Mattel celebrated by sending out a Barbie Totally Throwback Tour Truck across the U.S. to give fans the opportunity to shop some exclusive Barbie-themed merch. It was such a hit that the Barbie Truck Tour is back in 2022. However, this time around, Barbie’s got Malibu on her mind. Inspired by the ever-popular Malibu...

 

Capstone Games reveals 'Terra Nova'. Capstone Games revealed Terra Nova, a new strategy game, for release into retail on October 26, 2022. This game is a simplified version of Terra Mystica, which was recently released back into retail as a Big Box edition (see "'Terra Mystica: Big Box'"). In this version, players choose one of 10 different factions with different abilities and attempt to achieve an objective each round.

Pegasus Spiele will release 'Remember' party game. Pegasus Spiele will release ReMEmber, a narrative party game, into U.S. retail in Q3 2022. In ReMEmber, players assign colors to words in order to create a tale. This is a new edition of FARBEN, which was released by Stronghold Games in 2019. The goal of the game is for players to associate a word card with a color card and a weave story as to why the two are connected. 

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Gaming: Digital, Video, Hardware, and Development

Xbox bringing new gaming features to Microsoft Edge. Xbox is announcing that everyone’s favorite gaming platform, Microsoft Edge, is getting a number of new features that prioritize cloud gaming integration and personalization for the blue browser. Microsoft has been consistently growing and improving support for Xbox Cloud Gaming across multiple platforms and is clearly taking steps to optimize this service...

Tencent taking global Honor of Kings as China continues to block its new releases. Chinese giant Tencent is bringing its flagship title to global markets as it attempts to offset the increasing restrictions and limited growth of its home market. The company announced Honor of Kings will be "rolling out... to global gamers by the end of the year" via Level Infinite, the publishing label Tencent established back in December.

 

Activision is prepping a new version of Call of Duty: Warzone. Ahead of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II's debut at Summer Game Fest, Activision Blizzard is sharing some details about the future of Call of Duty: Warzone. The money-making battle royale multiplayer game will be getting an updated version after the release of Modern Warfare II—one that will reset player progression in order to shore up the technical ...

 

Electric Gamebox and Rovio Entertainment launch life-size ‘Angry Birds’ game. Electric Gamebox, an immersive group gaming platform, has announced a partnership with video game developer, Rovio Entertainment, to launch a life-size “Angry Birds” game, in a partnership facilitated by IMG. The gameplay is the first time an “Angry Birds” game has enabled multiplayer slingshot.

 

ESA: 48% of game players are female and 29% identify as people of color. Essentials report also says that the average of game players is 33-years-old & 83% of people play online with others. Today the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) said in a new report that 48% of people whom play games identify as female and 29% of game players are people of color. 

 

Horizon, Resident Evil Village, and more are coming to PlayStation VR2. Sony’s latest State of Play showcase gave a glimpse into what games will support the launch of the PlayStation VR2 (PSVR2) headset. Neither a price or release date has been shared yet for the headset, but at least we know what kind of games we can look forward to. For what it’s worth,

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Hightlighted Press Releases

 

BIG THINGS COME IN MINI SIZES: JUNE 10th! This Summer’s Limited-Production 4-in-one Hess Mini Collection Toy Trucks Pays Tribute To 1989 Fire Truck, 2008 Truck Front Loader Plus 2012 Helicopter. New York, NY (June 10, 2022) – Hess Corporation announced its annual summer kick-off today with the release of its remarkably detailed small-scale vintage toy truck set. The 2022 Hess Mini Collection, with four toys included, is on sale exclusively at HessToyTruck.com for $31.99 with free standard shipping* and Energizer® batteries included.

 

***he above posted after June 10th***

 

Mattel, Inc. announced the expansion of its Mattel PlayBack program to now include Fisher-Price toys. Fisher-Price joins Barbie, MEGA, and Matchbox brands in the toy takeback initiative, which enables families to extend the life of their Mattel toys once they are finished playing with them.  The new program is designed to recover and reuse materials from old Mattel toys in future Mattel products, keep materials out of landfills, and supports the company’s goal to achieve 100% recycled, recyclable, or bio-based plastic materials in its products and packaging by 2030.

 

SPOKESTER® CLICKS WITH TOY JUDGES AS SPRING AWARDS REVEAL WHAT PARENTS ALREADY KNOW: CHILD’S BIKE PRODUCT “WORTH EVERY PENNY!”  The National Parenting Center & Mom’s Choice Awards Praises $9.99 Motor-Like Noisemaker That Snaps On A Bicycle’s Spokes

 – As kids count down to summer recess, parents are thinking of ways to keep them active while enticing them to get outdoors.  A cool new accessory for the bike, currently parked in the garage, is one idea that’s winning praise from both The National Parenting Center and Mom’s Choice Awards this season. Spokester ($9.99 at spokester.com) is the affordable bike add-on that kids love to showcase around the neighborhood! And neighbors will certainly hear them coming.

 

Safety and Counterfeiting

 

MAPP Trap Teams Up With Freeborn & Peters LLP to Remove Gray-Market Sellers. On the heels of launching their co-hosted podcast series, LegalBriefs, addressing online brand protection, MAPP Trap has just announced another great partnership with Chicago law firm, Freeborn & Peters, LLP. Effective immediately, MAPP Trap compliance clients will be able to escalate policy enforcement efforts ...

The Manhattan Toy Company Recalls Activity Loops Toys for Infants Due to Choking Hazard. Name of Product: Activity Loops. Hazard: Tubes on the Activity Loops toys can detach from the base releasing small plastic rings, posing a small parts choking hazard to children.  Remedy: Refund. Recall Date: June 09, 2022. Units: About 2,700 (In addition, about 472 were sold in Canada).

Counterfeit crackdown: Amazon deepens investment. Companies normally don’t look forward to declines, but when it comes to combatting counterfeit products, decreases can be a positive sign. In releasing its annual Brand Protection Report on Wednesday, Amazon said it blocked four million counterfeit listings in 2021 before they reached the Amazon platform, down from 10 million a year earlier. 

 

Toxic news: beware of “small but terrible” marble toys. Marble toys, also known as “Jolen”, is a popular Filipino toy that comes in different sizes and is usually played outdoors. The marble toy failed the required labeling information under RA 10620, otherwise known as the Toy and Game Safety Labeling Act of 2013. Using a SCIAPS X-200 HH XRF Analyzer, the toy was screened and found to contain traces of Cadmium. RA 10620...

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Associations, Shows, Awards, Events, and Festivals

 

ASTRA has unveiled its 2022 Best Toys for Kids winners. ASTRA’s 2022 Marketplace & Academy opened  in Long Beach, CA, and with it came the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association’s picks for best kids’ toys. The group picked 12 winning toys in 12 categories. “ASTRA’s Best Toys for Kids award program reflects the collective expertise of hundreds of toy retailers who know toys inside out,” says Sue Warfield, president of ASTRA. 

 

Brand Licensing Europe (BLE) – has announced a packed schedule of networking, educational and experiential events for its 22nd show, which takes place from 20-22 September 2022 at ExCeL London. Welcoming thousands of European retailers, manufacturers and brand owners, BLE 22 will present the latest brand collaborations, inspire future product ranges...

 

Finalists announced for the annual BAFTA Young Game Designers Competition. BAFTA has announced the 54 talented finalists, from across the UK, for the 12th nationwide BAFTA Young Game Designers (YGD) competition. BAFTA YGD is a year-round initiative of public events, workshops and a competition for 10-18 year-olds, culminating in the annual YGD award ceremony to celebrate finalists and winners. 

***The above was posted after June 10th***

 

Visitor registration for Brand Licensing Europe 2022 is now open. Hot on the heels of a triumphant in-person return for Licensing Expo in Las Vegas, Brand Licensing Europe (BLE) opens online visitor registration today. The event brings together thousands of leading retailers and manufacturers to discover the widest range of brands from Europe available for license for three days of deal-making, networking an...

Spider-Man: No Way Home was named best movie at the 2022 MTV Movie & TV Awards on Sunday night. Stars Tom Holland and Zendaya accepted the award via separate pretaped video speeches. Holland won best performance in a movie as well, while Zendaya also won best performance in a TV show for Euphoria, which was named best show. Star Sydney Sweeney accepted the latter award in person.

 

Licensing International has announced the six companies selected to participate in the 2022 Diversity & Inclusion Accelerator Program. Each participating company will receive benefits valued at more than $100,000. These benefits include monthly mentoring meetings with industry leaders as well as a one-year Licensing Int'l membership, including consultation services, networking resources, access to exclusive...

The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA)  has appointed five new members to its board of directors: Maryam Al-Hammami, co-founder and CEO at The Game Chest, Cassidy Smith, president at Uniche Collective, Darby Zahradnik, director of national accounts at PlayMonster, Rachel Jones, Virginia sales representative at Sandy Ruben and Associates, Sandra Malott, Wisconsin territory representative at Diverse Marketing

 

ASTRA INSIGHTS: HARNESSING THE POWER OF CLASSIC PLAY. ASTRA’s vision is to “change the world through the power of play” —  and classic play is vital to this vision. If you look up the definition for the word “classic,” there’s a phrase that stands out: “something that has a recognized and established value.”

 

CHECK OUT THE PHOTOS from our London DISTOY May 18th at the Buckingham Arms. Guess Who Theme! Thank you to our generous sponsors for plentiful culinary delights and libations!

 

Entry to the MadeForMums Toy Awards website opens today and winners will be announced in early October, for pre-Christmas press coverage. MadeForMums has opened entries to the MadeForMums Toy Awards 2022. The annual, consumer-facing awards celebrate the best toys at every age and stage from newborn to preteens, and are judged by an army of child testers – with the help of their parents, the MadeForMums...

 

With ASTRA’s 2022 Marketplace & Academy set to open in Long Beach, California this weekend, the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association has revealed the winners of its 2022 Excellence and Lifetime Achievement Awards. The annual ASTRA Excellence and Lifetime Achievement Awards are designed to honor and recognize the outstanding contributions made by members of the specialty toy industry.

The Children’s Media Conference (CMC), now in its 19th year, has announced its keynote speakers for the 2022 hybrid event, which will run in-person and online from 5-7 July 2022 and is themed ‘What Next 2.2’. The Children’s Media Conference 2022 opening keynote will be delivered in-person in Sheffield, on Tuesday 5 July, by YouTube’s Managing Director for the UK, Ben McOwen Wilson. 

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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.

Maureen Hiron

Hidekazu Yukawa. Former managing director known as 'Mr Sega' appeared in several classic Dreamcast adverts. Former Sega managing director Hidekazu Yukawa has passed away aged 78. According to Famitsu, the games executive passed away from pneumonia in June 2021, but news of his death has only just been made public.

Yukawa took on the role of managing director in 1998, ahead of the release of the Dreamcast in December that year. He was also well known as 'Mr Sega' during his stint on account of his appearance in several comedic adverts promoting the launch of the console. Yukawa also made appearances in several Sega games, including Shenmue, and DLC for Sonic Adventure. Former Sega peers paid tribute to Yukawa on Twitter, including former Sonic Team head Yuji Naka and Sonic voice actor Junichi Kanemaru.

 

Andrew Simon Thomas, a prominent figure in the New York City game development scene and creator of several independent games, has passed away following a vehicle collision on June 1. He was 32.

Thomas' work included arena shooter Shillelagh and balance board-powered rolling game Roll Control. He'd previously worked at Shapeways, designing unique creations for the 3D printing platform.

Friends and colleagues on social media are mourning his passing, with some calling him "an amazing and chaotic creative force for good." Others noted his pivotal role in community organizing, referring to him as a great leader.

Digital Trends Gaming section lead Giovanni Colantonio (a longtime friend of Thomas) recalled their shared time in a high school punk band. "In that band, he pushed me to think completely different about art and be okay with making people uncomfortable and being totally out there," Colantonio wrote.

Heart Machine community and PR lead Yiyi Zhang said that Thomas "had an incredible drive to improve himself, create great art, and uplift others," and called him "a true inspiration and friend."

An image promoting the event captured Thomas' creative and anarchic spirit, turning a recently popular internet taunt into a commemorative message. "Andrew always evangelized touching grass as a way to stay grounded and find calm," the image reads.

 

Wilhelm K. “Bill” Maisch, a longtime fixture on the buying side of the industry died on June 6, 2022. Maisch was known to many for his work as the buyer for the kids’ category at AC Moore in addition to his time spent at H. Clay Moore & Associates, and Jacent Strategic Merchandising. Last year, Maisch joined Cra-Z-Art as vice president of new business development.

“Bill is a guy that I knew for nearly 20 years — he was a kind, knowledgeable, caring, and passionate merchant that helped me to build my businesses, and help to promote kids’ products,” says Doug Cass, co-founder of Kahootz Toys and specialty sales consultant at PlayMonster.

Maisch is survived by his wife Lisa; his brother, Julius; his nieces and nephews, Nicole, Danielle, Leon, Matthew, Savina, Arianna, Valentina, Michael, Samantha, John, Bree, Trinity, and Caiden; his mother in law Theresa; his sister in law Doreen; his brother in law Michael; and his three dogs Max, Jetta, and Zuly.

 

Marilyn Feoranzo - With great sadness, we at Beacon Media Group share news of the passing of our friend and colleague, media specialist Marilyn Feoranzo. Marilyn brought passion, skill, and wit to her tremendous work with clients every day — skillful and astute in her mastery of media planning, and tough in her negotiation and execution of top-performing media buys across the industry. She worked tirelessly to ensure clients got nothing less than the best in media delivery. And she made us laugh every day.

Across a career spanning four decades, Marilyn managed hundreds of millions of dollars in media spending with a specialty in network, cable syndication, and radio markets at Bozell Ad Agency, eventually acquired by True North, where she worked on the JCPenney and Bausch & Lomb accounts before moving on to Unilever working on brands including Dove and Lipton Tea. She then moved to the Wyeth Ad Agency, where she worked on over-the-counter and direct-to-consumer brands such as Advil, Centrum, and ChapStick before moving to Beacon Media in New Jersey to focus her specialty on the kids and family market. With Beacon Media, for more than 10 years, she developed and executed TV buying strategies for many of the largest brands in the toy industry, including MGA Entertainment’s L.O.L. Surprise! and many more.

Marilyn retired from her duties to focus on health and family in her final year, and while we are tremendously sad that she is gone, her fire, commitment, and example will long be part of our legacy and an approach that helps drive our team to success in the future.

Marilyn leaves behind a husband, Bill, and daughters Nicole and Danielle.

Rest In Peace, dearest Marilyn. We are eternally grateful to have known you. — The Beacon Media Group Team

 

Lizzie Wilding. Lizzie Wilding, VP of commercial operations at UK studio Dovetail Games, has passed away. The company shared the news on its website and explained Wilding had been battling colon cancer. "Dovetail Games and the industry have lost one of their brightest lights, a fantastic colleague, an amazing mentor, and most importantly a wonderful friend," wrote the studio. "Lizzie was a wise, caring, witty, fearless woman who we shall remember with great fondness and love. She was passionate about this industry and it’s people. She was an avid gamer, who always put players first and loved nothing more than making them happy by providing engaging, fun experiences." Wilding was one of the first recipients of the MCV Top 100 Women in Games Awards and spent over five years working at Dovetail, initially joining the company as VP of publishing. Prior to that, Wilding spent time in communications and marketing roles at major game companies like Jagex, Natural Motion, Codemasters, and EA. Dovetail explained that although Wilding "shied away from the limelight," she continuously went above and beyond to support her colleagues, many of whom turned to her as a mentor and guide. "Her light shone brightly at Dovetail and she leaves a hole not only with us but in the wider industry. She will be greatly missed," continued Dovetail.

"If you have followed her journey via social media over the past few months you will know that she has voiced a wish for everyone with any medical concerns to get looked at as early as possible, however small. Cancer is a cruel illness that doesn't care about your age, fitness level, or lifestyle. We encourage you to make that call.

"Our thoughts are with her family, husband Sam, children Zoe, Billy, Lucy, Robert and Jacob as well as her mother, uncle, and grandfather. Your presence we miss, your memories we treasure -- fly high Lizzie."

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