April 1 - 8, 2022
Welcome to Your Weekly News Brief!
Happy Bloomin’ Friday!
Announcing Three Truths and a Lie, a new virtual series held the second Monday of every month at 8pmET in the POP Pub on the POP website.
Rich Mazel, VP of Innovation and Inventor Relations at Spin Master will host the first show on Monday, April 11th and will kick-off with guests:
Dougal Grimes, VP of Innovation and Inventor Relations-Games, Gund, Outdoor and Activities – Spin Master
Peggy Brown, President - Peggy Brown Creative
Robert Fuhrer, Founder - Nextoy
David Fuhrer, Managing Director - BlueSquare Innovations
Host and guests will tell their stories and the audience will vote on who told the lie. Afterwards, the audience will have a chance to share their stories. Full press release HERE and please RSVP HERE.
Thank you for reading the Bloom Report. Have you checked out the new Bloom Report News Feed?
"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.
Person of the Week - Adam Hocherman
The Career Journey That Led Him To Fat Brain Toys
Adam, you've gone from a two-time toy company entrepreneur to product acquisition and new business at PlayMonster and this month you’ve taken the role of SVP, Product Development & Innovation at Fat Brain Toys. What does that entail?
I’m grateful to step into a role at Fat Brain Toys that combines expertise that I’ve gleaned from my years as a product entrepreneur with the experience that I acquired at PlayMonster as the head of inventor relations. In my new role I’ll head the PD team at Fat Brain in addition to spearheading inventor relations. In fact, these two roles are closely related.
That sounds exciting! Let’s go back further. As a child, were you somehow destined for the toy industry?
Well I certainly wasn’t destined for the video game industry. Back in the early 90s I loved tinkering with computers. In those, days, the state of the art in video games looked something like this: (see article for photo). Don’t be so quick to dismiss! This was a really fascinating game called ZZT created by Tim Sweeney. Tim used to send out packets of 3.5” floppy disks and newsletters in the US mail. He and I had a correspondence on something called “paper” in which I advised him to stay with the ASCII text-based universe and eschew hi-res graphics. For those that don’t know, Tim went on to create the Unreal Engine and subsequently the game Fortnite. He’s worth something like seven billion dollars. One of us was right. READ MORE . . .
Industry Commentary - Dr. Maureen Dunne
Neurodiversity and the Power of Play
As we kick off Autism Acceptance month, it's a perfect time to contemplate the extraordinary power of "Play" to help actualize the full potential of neurodivergent children.
Neurodiversity refers to a strength-based framework for understanding conditions such as Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, and other cognitive typologies as existing within the normal variation in the human population.
While there are many strategies to help neurodivergent children better adjust, develop, and blossom, "play" has not been given due attention as a potentially powerful part of that process. And yet, Play has such potential because children of all types are naturally drawn into it for their own reasons and by their own natural motivation to have fun, explore, create, and enjoy interesting interactive possibilities with stimulating feedback systems.
The World Health Organization (WHO) now estimates that one billion people, or approximately 15% of the global population has some form of disability and 1 in every 160 children are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Global estimates also suggest at least 5% of the global population fits diagnostic criteria for AD(H)D, whether officially diagnosed or not.
In other words, the need is there. READ MORE . . .
Entertaining Event of the Week - Toy Sync Battle 2022
Original Idea: Cassidy Smith Host: Brian Turtle
Hey Toy Family!
We are getting down to crunch time and need your submission for Entry to the Main Event..
if you want to compete for the Belt at this Year's ASTRA Toy Sync Battle!
Please share this post and mention and tag people you think could win the belt or who you would like to see compete!
Please PM all Entries to Brian Turtle by April 30th.
(Note from Mary - This is an hysterical event. Truly shows toy people know how to have fun and make fun of themseles. If you can't attend ASTRA in June, then watch some of the perfomances when they post them. Really good! )
Financial and Legal
Hasbro announced it is acquiring D&D Beyond, the leading digital toolset and game companion for the Co.’s groundbreaking fantasy franchise, DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, from Fandom. Fandom, the world’s largest fan platform, has owned and operated D&D Beyond since 2019 and has grown the direct-to-consumer business to be the leading RPG digital toolset on the mkt with close to 10 mil registered users.
Fortnite creator Epic Games has invested in and signed a publishing agreement with Brazilian developer Aquiris. The studio is best known for the Horizon Chase series and its Apple Arcade release Wonderbox, but Aquiris is also working on a new, currently unannounced game. Epic Games will publish it alongside an undisclosed number of other future titles, with Aquiris saying the investment will shape the next 15 yrs of the studio.
Epic Games, the creator of Fortnite, has raised $2 billion in capital from Sony and the Lego family, in a significant deal that demonstrates big firms’ enthusiasm for the so-called “metaverse.” Epic announced that Sony will invest $1 billion in the company, with KIRKBI, the family-owned investment firm behind Lego, contributing the same amount. Epic would be valued at $31.5 billion after the purchase closes, subject to usual...
How a Plano toy inventor helped push U.S. Rep. Van Taylor out of office. Josh Malone funded a super PAC that spent over $400,000 working to defeat the Plano congressman, who got forced into a primary runoff and then admitted to an affair and ended his campaign. Malone’s claim to fame is Bunch O Balloons, a product that allows dozens of self-tying water balloons to be filled at once. His invention brought him tremendous...
The Chinese National Press and Public Administration is approving new game releases in China for the first time in nine months. This follows a long year of the Chinese government tightening regulations on its video game industry, branding the medium as "spiritual opium," and pushing for late-night curfews for younger players. According to Reuters, the first games to receive new approval include Baidu Games...
The exclusive Magic Castle in Hollywood, home to the Academy of Magical Arts and one of Los Angeles' most storied landmarks, is getting a new owner, with the founder of video-game maker Gearbox Entertainment announcing his purchase of the Franklin Avenue manor. An avid magician himself and longtime AMA member and Magic Castle attendee, Randy Pitchford said he is dedicated to the preservation of 1908...
Sony has invested another $1 billion into Fortnite developer Epic Games in order to deepen its relationship with the firm "in the metaverse field". This increases the funding provided by the PlayStation 5 mfr to a total of $1.45 billion, as Sony made 2 other payments of $250 million in July 2020 and then another $200 million in April 2021. This latest round of funding represents the co's biggest investment in Epic Games yet.
Discovery Inc. and WarnerMedia closed their megamerger, adding a new behemoth to the entertainment industry. The two companies will combine television, movie and news operations that draw revenue of nearly $50 billion, forming one of the biggest media companies in the country. it means that rivals like Netflix, Disney, Amazon and Apple now have a new ferocious competitor for streaming dominance.
The Roachy Fund 2022 Scholarship Application Now Available – Deadline April 22, 2022. The Roachy Fund's mission is to help others follow their dream to “make art and play games.” The Fund will provide scholarships to college bound students who plan on pursuing a degree in art and/or game design. The scholarship was established to honor Alan Roach, a loved and respected leader in the toy and game industry.
***The above was posted after April 8th***
Property from The Strong National Museum of Play’s collection realized more than $821,600, doubling its expected estimate with extraordinary prices achieved for Chinese amber fish carvings, bronzes, porcelain figures and Japanese inro. Strong Diversions: Property from a Lifetime of Play spotlighted works from prominent collector and philanthropist Margaret Woodbury Strong, whose passion for learning and...
The LEGO Foundation invests USD 20million to catalyse innovation supporting neurodivergent children. The LEGO Foundation launches a new accelerator programme - Play for All - designed to celebrate the strengths of neurodivergent children and help ensure all children have the right to play, learn and thrive.
The Biden-affiliated nonprofit group Building Back Together plans to launch its own TikTok account on Wed. as part of the group’s latest effort to engage young people with the president’s agenda ahead of the 2022 midterm elections. The group’s account, @buildingbacktogether, plans to create content inspired by TikTok trends and features, like the green screen function, to explain President Joe Biden’s agenda to the...
Funko is relocating its main U.S. distribution facility to Buckeye, AZ due to its strategic location and strong talent pool. The company is consolidating several distribution centers from Washington into the single facility. “The demand for Funko products globally is as high as it’s ever been and the company recently surpassed $1 billion in revenue for 2021,” says Funko CEO Andrew Perlmutter. “The consolidation of several...
Spin Master issued its third annual Corporate Social Responsibility report, articulating the environmental, social and governance goals and performance of Spin Master for 2021. “Spin Master has always had a noble purpose, to create magical play experiences for children and their families,” said Max Rangel, Spin Master’s Global President and CEO.
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***The above was posted after April 8th***
Future Financial Reporting
Hasbro (NASDAQ: HAS) today announced that it will webcast its first quarter 2022 earnings conference call on Tuesday, April 19, 2022, at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time, following the release of Hasbro's financial results.
Mattel, Inc. today announced that it plans to release its first quarter 2022 financial results on Wednesday, April 27, 2022 at approximately 4:05 p.m. ET. Following this, Mattel will host a conference call and webcast at 5:00 pm ET at https://investors.mattel.com.
Spin Master Corp. (TSX: TOY), will report its first quarter 2022 financial results after market close on Wednesday, May 4, 2022 and introduce new segment reporting aligned with each of its creative centers: Toys; Entertainment and Digital Games.
Trends, Market Research, and State of the Industry
Geek Showbiz Roundup - 'SONIC 2' OPENS BIGGER; 'ST: TNG' STARS IN 'PICARD' S3; 'LOCKE & KEY' S3 WILL BE LAST; TOP WARNER EXECS EXIT AS MERGER CLOSES; HBO MAX DEVELOPING 'SHERLOCK' UNIVERSE; KIRKMAN, PRODUCERS LOSE IN AMC LAWSUIT
***The above posted after April 8th***
Stories, Comments, and Advice
John Baulch, ToyWorld, Hot Cross Fun…it’s the Friday Blog (on a Thursday)! As it’s Easter tomorrow, the Friday Blog is coming to you a day early this week. Let’s hope that the Easter holidays bring an upturn in trade – toy retailers and suppliers could certainly do with a bit of a boost after a challenging month, where petrol, food, gas and electricity prices have all risen steeply, making us all feel poorer every time we fill the car ...
How Easter Eggs Play A Role In Customer Experience. This week marks the celebration of three major religious holidays: Easter, Passover, and Ramadan. But only one of these holidays lends its name to hidden secrets within video games, movies, and software. I am talking, of course, about the mysterious Easter egg. Digital Easter eggs trace their roots back nearly 50 years, when ...
Former Cubs Manager Joe Maddon’s Advice for Baseball and Business. Former Chicago Cubs manager (and current Los Angeles Angels manager) Joe Maddon became a beloved figure in the city of Chicago, and his frequent quips – dubbed “Maddonisms” – were often quoted on T-shirts and in the media.
Steve Reece - Opinion - THE BIGGEST THREATS FACING THE TOY INDUSTRY: PART 2 – POTENTIAL REJECTION OF PLASTIC BY CONSUMERS. The hard reality we need to consider here is that consumers will not tell us in advance that they are no longer going to buy plastic products. They won’t tell us at or soon after previews & toy fairs which products they want to buy in the same way as retailers do.
"Why Is It Like That?" – Dr. Carly Kocurek on Games Research and Gaming's Techno Masculinity. Dr. Carly Kocurek and I (David Craddock) discussed the pervasive view of games as being made by and for men, the practices of documenting video game history, how her interest in research brought her to video games, and much more in this wide-ranging interview.
TikTok launches its own AR development platform, Effect House Last August, TechCrunch noted TikTok was working to build its own augmented reality development platform called Effect House, which would allow creators to build AR effects for use in TikTok’s video app. Today, Effect House has officially gone live. The platform has been operating in a close beta since last fall, where it’s so far been adopted by...
Goodbye, minimalism: How Gen Z is reshaping retail product design. Beauty brand Youthforia, a Gen Z favorite, packages its lip gloss and blush in neon tubes that click together like magnetic Legos. Founder and CEO Fiona Co Chan told us she wanted the products themselves to spark childhood memories. “[It] kind of brings you back to the first time you’ve ever bought makeup…I wanted it to kind of be reminiscent of a toy.”
For decades, women were leaders in computer science but then, in 1984, their representation in the field dropped dramatically -- in a way unseen in any other scientific or technical field. What Caitlin Kenney and Steve Henn discover in this excellent segment on NPR's Planet Money offers valuable insight on how gender stereotypes, especially as they pertain to children's toys and marketing, can have far-reaching and unforeseen effects.
Tristan Brooks on kids’ viewing habits. Post-Christmas, kids’ commercial TV viewing is now at an all-time low. During the festive break, new devices such as tablets and smart TVs are gifted and streaming services introduced to entertain the family, which impacts on time they’d usually spend watching kids’ commercial TV channels. This decline in viewing is nothing new and happens after every Christmas, including during...
***The above posted after April 8th***
The Baulch Blog - Constant craving … it’s the Friday Blog! Every time I write about attending a trade show here in the UK, I receive comments from toy people around the world (especially the Far East), envious about the fact that we are able to meet up at physical events. All I can say is that hopefully, other countries will soon be able to follow our lead and return to being able to get together in person.
Major US broadcasters are joining forces with LGBTQ+ advocacy org GLAAD to air a new PSA created to raise awareness and support for transgender kids and families. The Walt Disney Company, WarnerMedia, NBCUniversal, Paramount and Comcast have all donated airtime to run the “Protect our Families” PSA. This live-action video (in 10-second, 30-second and 60-second versions) was created to “humanize and...
Ahead of the launch of Jurassic World Dominion this summer, Toy World takes an in depth look at the world-leading global franchise. Movie licensed merchandise has always been a key fixture in toy retail aisles. The excitement generated by the launch of a blockbuster movie, coupled with heavyweight promotional activity, is a longstanding recipe for sales success. Or, at least, it was until the pandemic struck...
Retail Profile – Midco & Learning Express. Toy World sat in on a Teams call between Rick Derr, from Learning Express in the US and Dave Middleton, owner of Midco Toymaster in UK, to find out why small is mighty. Take two successful toy retailers, one either side of the pond – what happens when you get them together?
The push toward voice adoption across mobile apps, websites, cell phones and smart speakers underscores consumers’ fervent interest in engaging with devices through conversation. There have been small but numerous signs in recent years throughout the media and entertainment world that this industry is ready to embrace, learn and, most significantly, leverage voice technology.
Does Hollywood Need to Rethink Its China Strategy? As the Asian power's domestic film market mostly thrives, the disappointing box office for Warner Bros.' 'The Batman' and other recent releases suggests a continuing decline in audience enthusiasm for U.S. tentpoles: "China seems to have turned its back on Hollywood."
Netflix Announces A Motherlode Of Anime Content For 2022. Int'l markets are a key front in the current phase of competition among streaming media platforms, both as opportunities for subscriber growth and as sources for new content with global appeal. As Netflix strives to fend off competition from Disney Plus, HBO Max, Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video and other major platforms that have rounded into shape...
OPINION: We Can Help Build A Metaverse That Works For Kids. "It's time for us to build the metaverse we want, not just take the one we get," says Dubit SVP David Kleeman, who imagines the Web 3.0 world as a place that augments kids' development instead of impeding it. If I share a secret, will you promise not to tell? There’s no actual metaverse yet. For all the talk and press, it’s not here and won’t be for some time.
Former Disney CEO and chairman Bob Iger addressed Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill Thursday when he joined anchor Chris Wallace on his new CNN+ interview series. Noting that a lot of these issues, such as the bill, are “not necessarily political,” Iger emphasized: “It’s about right and wrong.” He continued, “So I happen to feel — and I tweeted an opinion about this ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill in Florida.
UNCENSORED LIBRARY PROJECT / BANNED JOURNALISM HOUSED IN VIRTUAL MINECRAFT ARCHITECTURE. When schools ban books, the strategy often backfires on would-be censors, resulting in greater interest around illicit literature. Their Uncensored Library project brings together architecture and journalism in an unlikely virtual reality space: the interactive gaming world of Minecraft."
History and Nostalgia
The Bizarre History of Scrabble. During the Great Depression, architect Alfred M. Butts had time on his hands and play on his mind. He devised a game of 100 lettered tiles used to form words on a square grid that looked like a crossword puzzle. Each letter carried a numerical value, and players scored points by tallying up the values of the letters in the words they laid down. Butts was a better game creator than marketer. He called his game Lexiko, then Criss Cross Words; but the names did little for sales.
The Birthplace of Scrabble - Queens, New York. A uniquely lettered street sign marks the corner where the iconic word game was invented. EIGHTY YEARS AFTER IT WAS first invented, the classic American board game Scrabble remains popular as ever (despite some competition from various digital copycats). The location of the beloved word game’s humble origin, in a church basement in Queens, is today commemorated...
Do you ever wonder who first thought of Bicycles? Bicycles are a beloved childhood toy, an environmentally friendly way to get around, and a great way to exercise. In many places, they are considered a true necessity. But where did the humble bicycle come from? The bicycle first gained mass popularity in the 1890s, when the “safety” bicycle that we are familiar with today replaced its perilous, giant-wheeled predecessor.
The Surprising History of Fuzzy Dice. The common lore says that fuzzy dice spring from a pilots' superstition in WWII. Before taking off for a sortie, pilots would put a pair of dice on their instrument panel, with seven pips showing, for good luck. Another, perhaps grimmer variant on the story is that the dice on the panel were a reminder that every flight was a figurative "roll of the dice" as to whether the plane would return...
***The above posted after April 8th***
Star Trek Universe Collection from Playmates Toys. “It was the biggest and most successful Star Trek line ever.” So claimed Karl Aaronian, the Senior VP Of Marketing at Playmates, in a 2018 episode of the hit Netflix series The Toys That Made Us. And you know something? He’s not wrong! Beginning in the Fall of 1992, Playmates became the undisputed Grand Nagus of a quirky sci-fi series constantly looking to find its footing at retail.
Barbie Fashion Designer CD-ROM from Mattel. Released in 1996 by Mattel Media, the Barbie Fashion Designer CD-ROM allowed children to create custom clothes for their Barbie dolls. A home computer and printer was needed to design and print a variety of new outfits for Barbie dolls. The CD-ROM contained software that allowed children to select clothing items such as dresses, vacation wear, career outfits, gowns, and more. An additional menu in the visual interface offered pattern and colour options.
Puppet Love Theater from Mego. After releasing the Puppet Love line of finger puppets in 1977, Mego next provided amateur puppeteers with Puppet Love Theater, a stage to put on their own shows. The first and only Puppet Love series consisted of six finger puppets drawn from classic fairy tale characters: Alice in Wonderland, Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, Prince Charming, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty.
Mattel And Lucasfilm Launch New Star Wars Shorts And Plush. Younger-skewing SW Galactic Pals content and toys are launching at StarWarsKids.com & Target, featuring fan-favorite characters teaching important life lessons. Mattel and Lucasfilm are collaborating to bring aged-down versions of characters from a galaxy far, far away to younger fans with the launch of their SW Galactic Pals animated shorts and plush...
BBC Studios has sealed a worldwide partnership with Hasbro for co-branded classic games and Play-Doh inspired by Ludo Studio’s Emmy Award-winning animated sensation Bluey, which airs on Disney Junior, Disney Channel and Disney+. The new range will feature Bluey editions of the board games Monopoly Junior and Trouble as well as Play-Doh and will start rolling out in the U.S. and Canada in April, followed by...
Spin Master, master toy licensee for Ukrainian creative production company Glowberry’s BRAVE BUNNIES series, announced the launch of BRAVE BUNNIES toys in Italy and Germany. The toy line includes an assortment of playsets, figures, plush, games and puzzles. Aimed at preschoolers and based on an original idea by Olga Cherepanova, BRAVE BUNNIES is co-created with Spanish animation studio Ánima and is...
As part of growth efforts, Black Lives Matter (BLM) Licensing Committee is expanding its licensee base. The groups’ growth has been accelerated further thanks to a partnership with Tonies. Through this partnership, the Black Lives Matter Licensing Committee will work closely with Tonies on the company’s product development strategy and creative development.
FIBA, the International Basketball Federation, has appointed IMG as global master licensee of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023, taking place 25 August – 10 September 2023 in Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines. This is the first time in the history of the competition that multiple countries will host the global tournament, which will feature 32 national teams.
Wow! Stuff has unveiled the first images of its new blockbuster Jurassic World toy that have so far been kept tightly guarded by the company. “It’s a groundbreaking, breathtaking dinosaur with realistic actions designed to make any onlooker think it’s real,” explained Wow! Stuff CEO Richard North. Timed to coincide with the upcoming theatrical release of Jurassic World Dominion in June, the dinosaur in question is the...
Mattel and Ubisoft are teaming up to launch UNO Valhalla DLC, a virtual UNO game taking place within the mythical Viking world of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. For the first time in UNO history, the board becomes part of the gameplay. Players can discard their cards wisely to travel across the board and collect precious cargo to unlock exclusive perks.
***The above was posted after April 8th***
Sectaurs Returns as Nacelle Co. and Seven Towns Enter Licensing Pact. Another heroic crew from the 1980s is getting a shot at a comeback. The “insect-evolved humanoid” Sectaurs are suiting up for a relaunch thanks to a long-term licensing agreement between The Nacelle Co. and licensor Seven Towns. The original toys were issued by Coleco in 1985.
WarnerMedia Global Brands and Experiences will launch a spellbinding collection of products to help fans celebrate the magic of the highly anticipated Warner Bros Pictures film Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, debuting in theaters in the UK on April 8th and in the USA April 15. Allowing wizards, witches and Muggles everywhere to relive unforgettable Fantastic Beasts movie moments and engage...
The Topps Co, which earlier this year became part of the global digital sports platform Fanatics, has announced a partnership with UEFA as an official licensed partner of UEFA Euro 2024. From this year until 2028, under the current agreement, Topps will provide official stickers, trading cards and collectibles connected to the UEFA Euro and other UEFA national team competitions including the UEFA Nations League Finals...
French distributor APC Kids is making the most of MIPTV, closing several new deals along the Croisette. The children’s division of APC Studios has just announced its first global sales for Go Green with the Grimwades and Zoe & Milo, which will be screened at the market later this week.
Superights is proud to announce it will sell international rights of the animated series Go! Go! Cory Carson – a new, Emmy Award-winning addition to the Superights animation catalog to VTech. This agreement marks the first deal between the French company and the world leader in electronic learning products for children ,VTech, and confirms Superights’ standing at the forefront of the international stage.
Australian distributor Odin’s Eye Animation has announced new deals with Disney Japan and ABC Australia for animated series The Beachbuds. They come on the heels of the show’s launch last fall on Disney+ Hotstar in the APAC region. Produced by Montreal-based Syon Media and J-Toon Studios in LA and Indonesia, The Beachbuds (52 x 11 minutes) launched on Disney Japan today.
Singapore’s Powerkids Entertainment has teamed up with Italian comic publisher Sergio Bonelli Editore to turn its catalogue of books into animated series for kids. The first series to roll out under the deal will be Dragonero (26 x 26 minutes), co-produced by Powerkids, Sergio Bonelli, Italian pubcaster Rai and post-production house Nexus TV, with Powerkids overseeing animation, global distribution (excluding Italy) and consumer products.
APC Kids, the children’s entertainment division of leading co-production and distribution group APC Studios, has secured a raft of key int'l deals for live action family series Go Green with the Grimwades and brand-new 2D animated series Zoe & Milo. These deals mark the first global sales for both series, with APC Kids debuting Zoe & Milo at MIPTV this week.
Cloudco Entertainment, owner of iconic entertainment property Care Bears, has launched its new Care Bears: Unlock The Magic animated series on Globo Play, Gloob, and Gloobinho networks in Brazil, joining the Noggin platform in Mexico. The content deals come alongside new toy deals that will further support the launch of the TV series as well as the Care Bears’ 40th Anniversary celebrations...
BBC Digs Into Theodosia. After premiering on HBO Max last month, this live-actioner about a teen girl who unlocks special powers while on an archaeological dig with her family is heading around the world with new broadcast deals. Paris-based distributor Federation Kids & Family is bringing a little Egyptian magic to a handful of new channels this year, including the BBC.
Israeli broadcaster HOT and KiKA in Germany are joining forces on a new live-action sci-fi series called DreaMars, about a crew of teenagers who fly to Mars on a critical mission. The show was ordered by HOT for its linear kids channel Zoom, and it will be ready to air in both regions next year. Also involved in the co-pro are Israel’s STORYZ Productions, SKLAN&KA and Paris-based SAMKA, and German broadcasters...
People of Play
MATTEL PROMOTES LISA MCKNIGHT TO EVP, GLOBAL HEAD OF BARBIE AND DOLLS. Over the past six years, McKnight has led the Barbie brand to nearly double in size with a more than $750 million spike in gross billings. Additionally, McKnight is credited with playing a “crucial role” in Mattel winning back the licensing rights to the Disney Princess and Frozen franchises and securing licensing deals for Universal’s Spirit and...
Arnon Avitzur and Erika Rosenberg have joined early education app-maker Lingokids to help the Madrid-based company grow its US presence in the wake of securing US$40 million in funding for expansion. Based in NY, Arnon Avitzur started last month in his new role as chief product officer, tasked with accelerating the company’s product development, and heading up its product management, user experience and...
Child’s play has turned into challenging but rewarding work for a pair of college buddies who have seen their dream job evolve into a thriving business. Electrical engineer Michael Gramelspacher, who moved to O’Fallon with his family in July 2021, and his business partner, Rory Sledge, set up shop earlier this year in a rehabbed commercial building at South Cherry and West Fifth streets. The pair design and develop...
Activision Blizzard has announced the appointment of Kristen Hines as its chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer, starting Monday, April 25. Hines previously worked at Accenture, a consulting company where she helped a number of companies expand their DEI initiatives. She’ll be part of the senior leadership team, and will report to chief people officer Julie Hodges.
Jeff Taylor of Havas Entertainment is stepping down from the business in July, although he will continue his involvement with the BTHA and Toy Trust. Jeff started Azure Media back in 2002 with founding client Character Options, with whom he has worked with for over 30 years. Under his stewardship, the agency has gone from strength to strength to become one of the leading toys and games media specialists in the UK today.
Former eOne creative exec Jillianne Reinseth has joined Corus-owned Nelvana as a supervising creative producer. She joins Vanessa Esteves in overseeing the creative direction of multiple series in production, as well as leading one or two concepts in development. Working in the same role as Reinseth, Esteves is also the co-creator, showrunner and executive producer of Nelvana’s latest 2D-animated show Super Wish.
Greg Cote Show Podcast Promo: Play Ball With Tim Kurkjian and Inventor of Strat-O-Matic Baseball. We are joined by the legend himself, Strat-O-Matic baseball game inventor Hal Richman! I am especially thrilled to finally meet the man who created the board game that meant so much to millions growing up, including myself, in my little corner bedroom at 1440.
***The above posted after April 8th***
David Zaslav will have a tight grip on the operations of Warner Bros. Discovery under the management structure unveiled for the new company that is set to emerge on Monday, Variety has learned. Zaslav, as longtime observers predicted, has opted to have a direct-report relationship with the leaders of the businesses he doesn’t know as well as he does cable channels and advertising sales, per individuals close...
Shannon Spisak elevated to VP Marketing and Communications, Dr Seuss Enterprises. Global children’s entertainment company Dr. Seuss Enterprises has announced the promotion of Shannon Spisak to her new role as Vice President of Marketing and Communications. Spisak, who previously held the role of Senior Director of Marketing and Communications, will spearhead all marketing-related activities for the company.
Following the critical success and strong streaming performance of its latest feature film Turning Red, Pixar Animation Studios has elevated the pic’s producer Lindsey Collins and director Domee Shi into leadership roles. In her newly created position as SVP of development, Collins (pictured left) will head up the studio’s development team for features and streaming, as well as supporting CCO Pete Docter in steering...
The BBC has hired media diversity specialist Joanna Abeyie on a short-term contract, a day after it emerged the corporation’s diversity chief June Sarpong is to depart later this year. Abeyie will take on a six-month Interim Head of Creative Diversity role, working closely with the outgoing Director of Creative Diversity Sarpong and BBC Chief Content Officer Charlotte Moore.
Sparkuhl brings over a decade of games industry experience to the new role including work as a quality assurance analyst and later a game designer for World of Warcraft, which included quest and narrative design, world spawning, lore development, and cutscene and event scripting.
Paramount Global has promoted Pam Kaufman to the role of president, consumer products and experiences. In her new role, Kaufman will report to Brian Robbins, president and CEO of Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon and CCO, kids & family, Paramount+ and Raffaele Annechino, president and CEO of Paramount International Networks, studios, and streaming. She will now oversee the Paramount global portfolio of live...
The Toy Book presents a special episode of the “Power Kid Podcast,” in which host Phil Albritton of Power Kid Design welcomes The Toy Foundation’s Executive Director Pam Mastrota and Chairman of the Board Andy Weiner to the show. The Toy Foundation operates underneath the umbrella of The TA to provide philanthropic support and vital play experiences to kids and families under stress and in dire...
“Power Kid Podcast,” host Phil Albritton of Power Kid Design welcomes Jamie Emmick to the show. Emmick serves as director of special markets for the Beverly Hills Teddy Bear Co. (BHTB) and leads the CustomPlush.com side of the business. She is a Genius of Play Ambassador and was a recent finalist in the Rising Star/Licensor category of Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment’s Wonder Women Awards.
Jeopardy! S38 E147 | Question about Reuben Klamer, Inventor of the Game of Life. Two out of the three contestants got it right. Scroll to minute 17:26 to see the action!
Global Kids Star Blippi Joins with Easterseals SoCal for Autism Awareness Month in April. As part of an ongoing effort by children’s programs to help families open a dialog with kids to tackle issues that matter, Easterseals has worked with the globally popular Blippi to create an episode which explores about how all children learn differently.
Hasbro is bolstering its board of directors with the addition of two executives from the tech and gaming space. Elizabeth Hamren, chief operating officer of Discord, and Blake Jorgensen, executive vice president of special projects, and former chief financial officer and chief operating officer, at Electronic Arts (EA), joined the board as of April 1.
MATTEL PROMOTES STEVE TOTZKE TO PRESIDENT AND CHIEF COMMERCIAL OFFICER. Following a successful turnaround effort, Mattel is officially in growth mode. The company promoted veteran executive Steve Totzke to president and COO as it seeks to evolve its strategy across toys and entertainment. Totzke previously served as EVP and CCO, developing a digital-first demand creation approach and expanding e-commerce and brick-and-mortar retail reach.
Daedrea Fenwick of Kulture Karaoke - Join us (GPI) as we talk to two Black women business owners about how they got started, being Black business owners in the toy and game industry, and their fast track from start-up to Target shelves. Don’t miss our fascinating conversation with Daedrea Fenwick of Kulture Karaoke whose business literally started in a car while on the way to her birthday party and ...
Moonbug Entertainment has appointed Danny Spronz as Head of Global Loyalty & Promotions and EMEA Retail Development. Danny will be responsible for driving the Loyalty & Promotions programmes at Moonbug as well as developing the EMEA retail strategy across Moonbug’s portfolio of properties, including Blippi, CoComelon and Little Baby Bum.
Spin Master has announced the appointment of Doug Wadleigh as Head of Global Toy Brands. The newly created position within Spin Master’s Toys creative centre is part of the Company’s new organizational design being implemented to enable and accelerate future growth. Wadleigh will oversee the development and health of all global toy brands, reporting to Chris Beardall, Spin Master’s President of Toys and COO.
CEO Coaching International, the leading executive coaching firm for growth-focused CEOs and entrepreneurs globally, is pleased to announce Mateo Romano as its newest Partner and Coach. Romano is a high-impact, global entrepreneurial consumer products industry leader with 25+ years of experience at top brands including Mattel, Moose Toys, and Tyco Toys.
Schell Games, the largest full-service educational and entertainment game development company in the US, announced the appointment of Jasmine Bulin as the company’s new VP of design. In her new role, Bulin will oversee the design dept and set the pace for discipline growth while forging and growing successful industry relationships. She will use her deep experience in the games industry to collaborate internally...
PlayMonster continues to expand its executive ranks with the addition of Dianne Lauble as director, inventor relations. In her new role, the Chicago-based Lauble will work to expand and grow PlayMonster’s relationships within the inventor community while focusing on the development of the next generation of inventors, creators, and designers that will propel the company’s product assortment into the future.
Companies and Brands
JAKKS Pacific, Incorporated, leading toy and consumer products manufacturer, announced a partnership with European-based toy innovation company Wow! Stuff to distribute Jurassic World toys timed to the upcoming theatrical release of Jurassic World Dominion in June 2022, including a new brand, RealFX.
Wild Republic is launching Monsterkins, a new eco-friendly plush line, just in time for Earth Day. Monsterkins are fully sustainable — not just carbon neutral — and come with a fun backstory. They are Earth’s creation to help eat plastic water bottles (the same material they’re made from) from land and sea. It may take almost 500 years for plastic bottles to decompose, but Monsterkins can digest them in only two hours.
PlayMonster Reveals the Six Winners of its Spirograph National Art Contest. Last month, PlayMonster called for artists ages 4 and up to submit original Spirograph designs to its Spirograph National Art Contest. Using the simple magic of pens, gears, and paper, artists around the world tapped into their imaginations to produce colorful and unique pieces. Today, the contest comes to an exciting close as six talented artists...
Crayola is adding a dash of creativity to Wendy’s Kids’ Meals this month. Participating Wendy’s restaurants will offer Crayola Color Adventure Kits with the purchase of a Kids’ Meal through May 30 or while supplies last. The promotion features a collection of six premium toys that come packed in crayon-shaped holders. Each Color Adventure Kit comes with three Crayola crayons in different shades, and includes activities on...
MGA Entertainment's Shadow High Stirs Up a Rivalry with Rainbow High. The edgy new doll line is stepping out of the shadows to stir up a high school rivalry in grayscale, embracing the other half of the rainbow. The much buzzed-about new line began hitting retail this week. The Shadow High students stay in line with the creative and inclusive values of their colorful Rainbow High counterparts, but with their own...
LEGO is targeting grown-ups with money to spend and a sense of nostalgia, looking for a creative outlet. And, so far, it’s working. LEGO—and the toy industry at large—have had an extraordinary two years, helped in no small part by adults stuck at home, buying toys for their own enjoyment and collection. The Danish company reported revenue growth of 46% and operating profit growth of 104%in the first half of 2021.
Mood Bears expands with new books and music. The plush brand which helps kids identify, deal with and understand a wide range of emotions continues to grow in popularity and has now added Mood Bears books. Following successful appearances at London Toy Fair and Spring Fair, and ahead of its first ever appearance at the Toymaster May Show, Mood Bears has announced its latest news as the company continues to expand....
Marking Nat'l Scrabble Day and Mental Health Awareness Week, the brand will partner with community cafe The Canvas to encourage people to connect over a game of words. Today, on National Scrabble Day, the Scrabble brand has unveiled a new initiative to foster community and combat loneliness after new research has found that almost half of Brits would like to feel more connected to their communities and 36%,,,
Asmodee, a leading publisher of board games around the world, has announced the US launch of Unbox Now, a selection of its best-selling and most accessible board games. Games under the Unbox Now label have collectively won over 140 awards internationally, making them some of the most celebrated brands across the board game sector. Unbox Now will roll out globally across both physical and digital...
Paramount+ Latin America’s kids content lineup is expanding with the recent acquisition of preschool adventure series Tainá and the Amazon’s Guardians from French distributor Dandelooo. After winning 23 national and international awards and airing in more than 40 countries, this Brazilian rainforest adventure toon makes its way to Paramount’s streaming service.
BBC Children’s has greenlit a third season of CBeebies animated series Pablo, which has a new look and narrative focus to resonate with all kid viewers, not just those on the autism spectrum. The 52 x 11-minute season finds its titular star Pablo—now eight years old—heading off to school. (He was five at the end of season two.) Pablo’s older age will be reflected in the series’ animation style, which has moved away...
Everyone hop to their feet, The Schleich Hippity Hops world premiere music video is here, just in time for spring and Easter! With inspiration from contest winner, Darby, age 13 in Bexley, Ohio, the Hippity Hops are ready for you to rock out with them on their first hit single, Stories Still Unwritten. Made up of four bunnies with wildly colored ears, The Schleich Hippity Hops love setting stories to music. In February,
Paramount Global and RECUR have announced that Star Trek will be the first NFT digital collection to drop from their multi-yr partnership to bring Paramount’s beloved entertainment brands and characters to the metaverse. Fans will be able to access Star Trek digital collectibles starting April 9th through Paramount.xyz, the online portal to access Paramount’s iconic IP and cherished franchises in the form of NFTs.
Robosen Robotics and Hasbro Debut Auto-Converting Trailer and Roller Set for Optimus Prime. Following last year’s launch of the Flagship Transformers Optimus Prime Auto-Converting Programmable Advanced Robot, Robosen Robotics in collaboration with Hasbro, announced the Transformers Optimus Prime Auto-Converting Trailer with Roller – Collector’s Edition for the Flagship Optimus Prime, the most advanced...
Waboba is donating $5 from all of its popular Blue or Yellow Moon Ball purchases made on waboba.com or Amazon.com for the month of April, with all proceeds devoted to supporting the World Central Kitchen providing nourishing meals for people who had to flee Ukraine. For further information about the program, visit https://wck.org.
In support of National Pet Day, Funko,announced a partnership with the ASPCA as part of its philanthropic initiative, Pops! With Purpose. The partnership brings fan-favorite movie pets to Pop! form to raise vital funds for the ASPCA, the longest-standing animal welfare organization in NA. Fans can contribute to the charitable cause by taking home Pops! With Purpose figures of iconic movie pets like the lovable...
YouTube Launches $100,000-Prize Global Competition Show to Find Next Big Gaming Creator, Hosted by OMGitsAliA. YouTube will award $100,000 to the grand-prize winner of a new global talent show to find the next breakout gaming creator, hosted by U.K. YouTube gaming creator Ali-A.
Disney+ Dominates At Kids’ Choice Awards. Marvel flies high after an eventful year, while breakout star Olivia Rodrigo scores dual wins in TV and music. Superheroes, Billie Eilish, and Olivia Rodrigo walked away with top honors from Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Awards 2022 as the show set a new record with 1,000 “slimings” and explored the metaverse with celebrity avatars.
Spin Master Entertainment Brings Home The Golden Screen Award for PAW Patrol: The Movie - Presented by the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television. The first feature film for Spin Master Ent., in association with Nickelodeon Movies and distributed by Elevation Pictures in Canada (Paramount Pictures in rest of world), PAW Patrol: The Movie grossed over $7.5 million in Canadian box office sales and $152 million ...
Dungeons & Dragons Strategy Game to Add Characters from the Classic 1980s D&D Cartoon. Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms' 100th Champion is a big surprise for D&D fans. Developer Codename Entertainment is gearing up to release the game's 100th Champion, and to celebrate, they're bringing the Dungeon Master from the 1983 D&D cartoon into the fold.
The continuing issues in the global supply chain are a win for a small business in Ohio. On the Mantle dba W. Britain Toys is expanding its operations in Chillicothe, Ohio with an investment of more than $226,000 to add manufacturing capabilities to its headquarters. W. Britain Toys is one of the most famous names in the world of collectible toy soldiers and while its legacy is rooted in the UK, it’s been an American-owned...
Build-A-Bear Workshop is the subject of a new documentary from Taylor Morden, director of The Last Blockbuster. The experiential retail pioneer known for its furry friends is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and cameras are rolling at the company’s St. Louis headquarters. “Going into this project I have so many questions,” Morden says. “What is it about Build-A-Bear that resonates with so many people? ...
***The above posted after April 8th***
Spin Master, the company behind the Sago Mini studio and apps (including Sago Mini School and Sago Mini World), has teamed up with Otsimo to release a new app. Sago Mini First Words is a game-based learning app designed to help kids build on their early language development through fun activities, mini games, and videos.
After much internal debate and numerous astrological consultations, all of us at Radio Flyer are proud to announce that, unlike Tom Brady, the color red is *really* retired. Effective immediately, our wagons will feature Pantone's Color of the Year, Very Peri. All questions and comments can be directed to our former CRO (Chief Red Officer), who has recently found himself with more free time. (April Fool!)
Eugy bags Red Dot design award. The crafting range lets kids (and adults) assemble adorable models of animals and dinosaurs, and has been lauded for its sustainability. The eco-friendly arts & crafts brand Eugy has scooped a prestigious Red Dot Award, an internationally recognised symbol of design excellence. Eugy was awarded in the International Product Design category.
Smart Toys & Games has announced the arrival of three new editions to the popular IQ collection: IQ Love, IQ Stixx and IQ Six Pro. IQ Love is a travel friendly puzzle game that revolves around 10 colourful gemstones, which players aged 7+ must fit into the board. Thanks to its double-sided board, the game boasts 120 challenges. Next up, IQ Stixx is a fun game where players stack up sticks; five horizontal pieces...
The Lego Group and Epic Games has announced they are entering a long-term partnership to shape the future of the metaverse by making it both safe and fun for children and families. The two companies say they will build an immersive, creatively inspiring and engaging digital experience for kids of all ages to enjoy together. The family-friendly digital experience will give kids access to tools that will empower them...
Super7's April Fools' Joke was a Collection of Real G.I. Joe Merchandise Created in Partnership with Hasbro. In honor of this holiday of tricks, Super7 released a very real collection of products with some silly origins. The new G.I. Joe PSA collection includes action figures and other items inspired by the G.I. Joe PSAs that originally aired in the ’80s, only to be turned into a series of parody videos in the early ’00s.
Mattel Celebrates Earth Month with Sustainable Toys from Matchbox, MEGA Bloks. The new assortment includes the MEGA Bloks Green Town collection and extensions to the Matchbox “Driving Toward a Better Future” initiative. Mattel is the first toy company to incorporate certified renewable polymers from SABIC’s TRUCIRCLE program into its products.
Moonbug Joins Zigazoo’s Push Into NFTs. Invisible Universe and young artist Nyla Hayes are also launching their first tokens exclusively on the kids social media platform, which is looking for more partners, says founder Zak Ringelstein. The NFTs on offer feature elements from Moonbug’s CoComelon, Blippi and My Magic Pet Morphle IPs and Invisible Universe’s Qai Qai brand (which was created in partnership with Serena Williams...
Direct-to-consumer (DTC) retailer Artkive is getting into the non-fungible token (NFT) market with a new service that digitizes kid-generated designs in the blockchain and provides educational tools to help its customers understand the technology. Since 2012, the LA-based company has run a DTC operation that converts kids’ art into personalized photo albums or framed mosaics.
LEGO Store Leicester Square set to become brand’s largest in the world. The LEGO Group has announced today that it will be overhauling its Leicester Square store to make it the brand’s largest in the world. It will also be the first store in the UK to feature the LEGO Group’s new ‘Retailtainment’ concept. Retailtainment will blend physical and digital experiences that allow shoppers to immerse themselves
Camp, Disney Collaborate for Interactive Retail Experience. Mickey & Friends x Camp: An Extra Big Adventure opens at Camp’s 5th Avenue flagship store in Manhattan on May 28. The collaboration is the first of several Disney-themed experiences that the growing retailer plans to launch this year.
Common Sense Media Launches Podcast Ratings for Kids and Family Shows. The ratings will look at categories like educational value and co-listening quality and outline whether topics that may not be appropriate for children — such as violence, drugs, and alcohol — are present in the show.
BYJU’S Joins The Virtual Camp Craze. The edtech company's first-ever online summer camp will feature the likes of astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and cover topics including STEM, arts, gaming and cuisine. In an effort to help kids catch up on learning they missed during the pandemic, Indian edtech company BYJU’S is launching its first virtual summer camp program. Running from June 10 to August 30, the camp...
The LEGO Group Opens Billund Campus. It took five years of planning and construction, but The LEGO Group has finally completed an epic build on its home turf. The workspace can house up to 2,000 staffers in a manner that LEGO hopes will “provide a playful, inclusive, and collaborative environment that enables employees to develop the best play experiences for children all over the world.”
Exploding Kittens is bringing 2 new games to the table this Spring: Zombie Kittens and Poetry for Neanderthals: Not Safe for Work Edition. On a mission to ignite game night in households up and down the country, the 2 new titles come hot on the heels of newly launched Mantis and UK-exclusive Exploding Kittens: Cat Burglar Edition and are being offered exclusively to the hobby and independent sector for the...
Disney is one of four companies that will air a new public service from GLAAD that features a transgender teen and calls for nationwide support of LGBTQ youth. The video comes as tensions between Disney and Florida lawmakers have escalated over the passing of Florida’s HB 1557 law, which has been dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
Mrs Wordsmith, leader in hilariously illustrated literacy products for educators and kids, has launched a handout for families entitled How to Talk to Kids about War, in light of current events in Ukraine. This resource guide was designed to help kids navigate this difficult subject with tips from experts, followed by illustrated social-emotional vocabulary around compassion, empathy, resilience, and solidarity.
WildBrain CPLG, a world-leading entertainment, sport and brand licensing agency, is continuing to strengthen its global footprint with expansion across the Asia Pacific (APAC) region and the launch of new dedicated offices in Singapore, Taipei and Seoul. Additionally, the licensing team who are part of WildBrain’s existing Shanghai operations will be expanded and renamed WildBrain CPLG China.
The fierce and fashionable L.O.L. Surprise! dolls are O.T.W. back to the metaverse for a second installment of the popular Roblox game, Twilight Daycare, and this time they’re backed by the power of Gamefam and WildBrain Spark. MGA Entertainment‘s L.O.L. Surprise! miniature dolls make up for their size with fierce fashion and big personalities. With a variety of unique characters, each doll arrives in a small container...
Donkey Hodie, the hit puppet series from Fred Rogers Productions and Spiffy Pictures, has been greenlit for a second season on PBS KIDS. The series is produced by Fred Rogers Productions, the award-winning children’s educational media organization behind multiple well-loved, Emmy-winning PBS KIDS series, including Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, and Spiffy Pictures, the award-winning production company...
The company decided to reinforce its identity by bringing the brand to life with the creation of a Little Brian mascot. “As well as introducing the new mascot, we’ve implemented a vivid, multicoloured theme across all of our packaging,” Emily explains. “This will instantly...
The Entertainer and Mattel have launched a special retailer sales programme to support Ukraine. As of Thursday 31st March, 100% of proceeds (excluding VAT) from selected Mattel products sold in The Entertainer stores are being donated to the British Red Cross and The Salvation Army’s Ukraine Crisis Appeals. The charity partnership centres upon four of The Entertainer’s best-selling Mattel products...
Toikido has teamed up with toy maker Thinkway Toys to distribute the official toy line for Apple Original Films and Skydance Animation feature Luck. Luck, starring Eva Noblezada and Simon Pegg, centres around the story of Sam Greenfield, the unluckiest person in the world. When she discovers the never-before-seen Land of Luck, Sam must unite with magical creatures there to turn her luck around.
Purpose Toys, one of the largest Black-owned toy start-ups, has announced the release of two new purpose-driven toy lines, Naturalistas and HBCyoU, in partnership with Just Play and Kidfinity Inc (a Just Play affiliated company). Both lines will be sold and distributed by Purpose Toys for retail launch globally in Fall 2022, with additional collaborations planned for Spring 2023 and beyond.
Crazy Aaron’s has launched a limited-edition Play it Forward Thinking Putty in partnership with The Toy Foundation where all proceeds will directly support the millions of children and families impacted by the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. Available in TTF’s signature orange with playful purple sparkles, it will be sold exclusively on CrazyAarons.com through April 22, 2022.
Sesame Workshop is celebrating five years of its Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children initiative dedicated to showing that all children — autistic and neurotypical alike — are amazing in their own ways. New videos and activities launching today are centered on themes of friendship and belonging and feature Julia, a 4-year-old autistic Sesame Street Muppet, and her brother Sam and new friend Wes...
Funskool India Ltd., India’s leading toy manufacturer, adds another blockbuster to their list, by acquiring the rights from international brand Goliath to manufacture and distribute their popular board game ‘Sequence’, in India. Developed by Doug Reuter in 1981, Sequence is a combination of a board game and a card game. Often referred to as the ‘Perfect Family Game’, Sequence can be played by 2 to 12 players.
Hasbro CEO Signals Renewed Focus on Gaming Amid Proxy Battle. Since 2019, the toymaker has pushed into original entertainment content with the purchase of the 'Peppa Pig' studio Entertainment One, to mixed results. “Make no mistake, Hasbro is a games company. In 2021, games was a $2.1 billion business growing at 19% with an operating profit margin of more than 30 percent. Games are the beating heart of Hasbro...
Joel Silverman, co-founder and CEO of data-led ad agency KidsKnowBest talks to Toy World’s Sam Giltrow about how the company has been transforming children’s views and viewing habits into crucial information for toy companies. Launched five years ago, London-based KidsKnowBest has grown to be a respected full-service agency which is slowly but surely changing the mindset of companies trying to find the...
TV personality, writer and activist Katie Piper was among stars and influencers celebrating L.O.L.Surprise! along with children’s confidence and the spirt of sisterhood at a special event on Saturday. Spring has seen L.O.L. Surprise! launch the new L.O.L. Surprise! Queens series which celebrates the spirit of sisterhood and encourages children to embrace who they are; the World Travel series with a new storytelling travel...
GENIUS BRANDS INTERNATIONAL REBRANDS CHIZCOMM AS BEACON MEDIA GROUP. The companies have been rebranded as Beacon Media Group under parent company Genius Brands International Inc. With the refreshed alignment and branding, Donna MacNeil will lead Beacon Communications in Toronto while Kathleen Campisano will lead Beacon Media in New York.
Mattel unveils first mass-retail toy to be certified CarbonNeutral. Mattel, Inc today announced an expansion of its sustainable product offering with the debut of new products from its popular MEGA and Matchbox brands. The expanded offering is in line with Mattel’s goal to achieve 100% recycled, recyclable or bio-based plastic materials in all its products and packaging by 2030. MEGA, the global leader in preschool …
Funko opens first international franchise store in Dubai. Funko has brought the one-stop retail shop destination to the UAE featuring products from Funko, Funko Games and Loungefly. Funko has announced that it has appointed Monkey Distribution as the first franchise operator catering to growing pop culture enthusiasts and Funko Funatics in the Middle East.
Izipline brings the fun of ziplines home. Easy to set up kits from Izipline create a family adventure space in the garden, plus harnesses, helmets and gloves are also available. Since 2004, Izipline has been bringing the fun of ziplines into gardens and playgrounds with its range of quality products at affordable prices.
Amazon has launched a new projector and video-calling device this week, teaming up with major kidcos to stock it with entertainment content and activities. Amazon Glow connects parents and kids through video calls. At the same time, it can also project content like animated storybooks and interactive games onto a pad with sensors that detect movements so that families are able to play together. Disney, Mattel,...
Bandai – celebrating a legacy. Bandai UK’s 40th anniversary celebrates four decades of innovation, reinvention and evolution with a raft of product launches and activities that reflect the company’s roots – and where it’s headed. Toy World’s John Baulch and Rachael Simpson- Jones paid a visit to the Bandai UK team at its Richmond office to find out more.
The BBC has finalized the transition of its Children’s In-House Productions division from the public service broadcaster to commercial arm BBC Studios. Rebranded as BBC Studios Kids & Family, the amalgamation completes a process that began in March last year, when the BBC announced that the absorption of the in-house kids production team would play a significant role in the British pubcaster’s five-year plan...
Gaming: Digital, Video, Hardware, and Development
Sesame Workshop has received an Epic MegaGrant from Epic Games, which will be used to support the production of a 360° capture of the set. The $150,000 Epic MegaGrant helps with the creation of a high-definition digital version of the Sesame Street set that captures iconic locations including the 123 Sesame Street brownstone and its front stoop, Oscar’s trash can, Hooper’s Store, and Big Bird’s Nest. Utilizing Epic’s Unreal Engine, an innovative real-time 3D creation tool that has been used to create cutting-edge content and advance the art in virtual production, the capture will be leveraged for future Sesame Street XR (“extended reality”), interactive, and gaming applications.
Roberta and Ken Williams open up about their first video game in 25 years. No fear of Colossal failure: "If this game sinks, it ain't gonna change our life at all." Legendary game programmer Ken Williams needed only a moment to chew on my question. He and equally famed game designer Roberta Williams had set themselves up for the query by recounting a principle from their time at Sierra On-Line, the video game...
Ukrainians Design Game Called 'Beat Putin', Users Play as Elon Musk, Game Raises R145k for Humanitarian Needs. An online game inspired by the war between Russia and Ukraine was developed as means to raise funds, and so far it's been popular The game was designed with the Ukraine southwest city of Ukraine, Mariupol as a background, since it's one of the hotspots in the Russian assault
Game companies haven’t given up on the NFT concept completely despite the ongoing controversy. According to a well-known Call of Duty insider, Activision has also been thinking of adding non-fungible tokens to its main franchise. A new report came from RalphsValve, an insider known in the Call of Duty community for providing several trustworthy leaks.
Activision and contemporary fashion leader Alpha Industries have announced the launch of a unique physical and in-game product collaboration with Call of Duty – the new limited-edition Call of Duty x Alpha Industries B-15 Flight Jacket. Revealed during last autumn’s Call of Duty: Vanguard launch event, the limited-edition Call of Duty x Alpha Industries B-15 Flight Jacket is now officially available to purchase...
Safety and Counterfeiting
B&M, Amazon and eBay products urgently recalled over safety fears. Several top stores have recalled items in recent days due to health and safety concerns. Among the impacted shops are B&M, Amazon and eBay. The items have been recalled due to various risks such as the product containing glass fragments, posing a choking hazard, the risk of burns, or micro-bacterial risk. In many cases, customers who have...
Highlighted Press Releases
FUN AND CAPTIVATING NBA MATH HOOPS SCORES THE TOP PRIZE: A STEM.ORG ACCREDITED™ TRUSTMARK. Bringing Students into the STEM Pipeline through Basketball. This month all eyes are on the game of basketball and March Madness. From the tip off to every fake, foul, and free-throw, the captivating game comes with serious stats requiring precision math skills. Students (and their teachers) in grades three through eight looking to boost their own math skills have an assist from the basketball-themed NBA Math Hoops apps and board game! These games form the core activities of the NBA Math Hoops program, a community-based math education program operated by nonprofit Learn Fresh in partnership with NBA Cares.
PunkinFutz X Wiggles, Stomps and Squeezes releases Read and Play Bundle for Autism Acceptance Month. PunkinFutz, a sensory play company, celebrates Autism Awareness & Acceptance Month with neurodivergent author Lindsey Rowe Parker and autistic illustrator Rebecca Burgess, creators of the award-winning book about sensory differences, Wiggles, Stomps and Squeezes Calm My Jitters Down.
Associations, Shows, Awards, Events, and Festivals
A collective of the most renowned and best-in-class suppliers of home and gift merchandise in Canada are working together to open permanent showrooms at the International Centre in what will collectively be known as SHOW T.O. It will soon be home to the first eight agencies and distributors opening permanent showrooms, with more than 40,000 sq ft dedicated to servicing Canadian retailers, design ...
Combined Toy & Edu China, Baby & Stroller China, Licensing China Trade Show Sets New Dates for August. This past February, Messe Frankfurt (HK) Ltd rescheduled the combined Toy & Edu China, Baby & Stroller China, and Licensing China trade show to May 5-7. After recent spikes in COVID-19 cases, the event has once again been rescheduled to Aug. 5-7.
ANNA KNIGHT, SVP of licensing, Global Licensing Group talks to Roz Nowicki, head of global consumer products franchise marketing for Mattel, AK: We’re excited to have Mattel exhibit at Licensing Expo again. What drew the company back this year? RN: Mattel is a longtime exhibitor at Licensing Expo, and we are looking forward to being back and in person this year. We are excited that this year’s Expo highlights Location...
BLRA masterclass on Children’s Licensing announced. The first masterclass: ‘A deep dive into children’s licensing’ will be followed by a panel discussion chaired by Toy World’s John Baulch. The Brand Licensing Retailers’ Academy (BLRA) has confirmed its first masterclass for Thursday 12th May at Brand Licensing Europe’s offices in central London.
WWE has announced it will stage its first major stadium event in the UK for 30 years at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff Wales. Details about the event name, ticket sales and further event updates will be available soon but the announcement is sure to delight WWE fans in the UK. “Principality Stadium is the perfect place for a major event, hosting our amazing fans from Wales, throughout all of Europe, and around...
The Toy Foundation’s next Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards will take place this fall as The Toy Association welcomes the industry to the 2023 Preview & 2022 Holiday Market at the Dallas Market Center, Sept. 20-22. The move to fall serves as a reset for the “Oscars” of the toy industry ahead of next year’s big move which sees a reimagined Toy Fair experience taking place in Sept. 2023.
The Toy Foundation welcomes four new members to its Board of Trustees to help further its philanthropic mission to serve and support children locally and around the world. The Board is comprised of 20 accomplished industry professionals and continues to be led by Chair Andrew Weiner.“We welcome Jamie Cygielman, Bryony Bouyer, Manny Grace, and Aaron Muderick to The Toy Foundation’s Board of Trustees,” ...
The British Toy & Hobby Association, the organiser of London Toy Fair, announced that exhibitor applications for Toy Fair 2023 are now open. Toy Fair is to return to Olympia London from 24th-26th January 2023, across the Grand and National Halls. Toy Fair brings together toys and games manufacturers, distributors and retailers under one roof across three busy days and welcomes companies of all sizes...
***The above posted after April 8th***
Get Schooled at Licensing Expo with Licensing U. When the licensing industry gathers in Las Vegas for Licensing Expo from May 24-26, attendees will have a chance to extend and advance their knowledge of the business. The 2022 edition of Licensing U features a packed slate of educational content that was developed and produced by Licensing International
ASTRA’s Certified Play Expert Program Returns. The program offers retailers a chance to become familiar with the art and science of play through research-based instruction. Certified Play Experts can help independent retailers stand out from the pack by knowing what they sell and being able to guide parents and gift-givers to great products that kids will love.
Cannes Film Fest Expecting 90% Of Industry Delegates To Attend In Person; Asia Set To Return Despite Travel Challenges. Last year, the French fest reported 10,000 total registrations for its market, split roughly evenly between on-site and online attendance. That total was in line with 2020, when the event was entirely digital due to lockdowns, with 10,000 professionals registering for the virtual market. In 2019, pre-Covid...
Licensing Expo, produced in partnership with industry trade association Licensing Intl, will celebrate the event’s long-awaited, in-person return to the Mandalay Bay Convention Ctr this May 24th-26th with an opening night party in association with ATLUS. The party will take place on the first day of Licensing Expo, May 24th, and will provide after-hours networking for the industry, bringing together the world’s most...
TOYFEST REVEALS DATES FOR 2023, REBRANDS AS NATIONAL SHOW. The Western Toy and Hobby Representatives Association (WTHRA) has officially revealed plans to drop the “West” and rebrand the show as Toy Fest — a national show — when it returns to The Expo at World Market Center Las Vegas, from Feb. 27 to March 3, 2023.
The Toy Association is reminding companies that Friday, April 8 2022 is their last chance to apply for the Best of Spring & Summer 2022 Influencer Choice List, presented by Clamour. “Don’t miss out on the opportunity to put your playthings directly in front of digital content creators influencing what kids are buying this season,” said Adrienne Appell, EVP of marketing communications at The Toy Association.
Toy Industries of Europe (TIE) is calling for entries for the third edition of the Play for Change Awards which celebrate toys or initiatives that make a positive impact on children’s lives either by promoting diversity and inclusion, by showing care for our planet or by encouraging the development of the skills needed to thrive in the 21st century.
Back with a bang this year, the Outdoor Toy awards once again invites kid testers to put the very best outdoor toys through their paces. Toyology and the Kidzcoolit network will be overseeing the media and social coverage of the awards, which will see a total of 10 toys crowned must-haves for get-out, get-up and get-active play.
Rosie Marshall, head of Toys & Children’s Gifts at Playroom, the toy division of AIS, chats to Sam Giltrow about the INDX Toys & Nursery show, which takes place on 6th/7th April. This week will see members of the AIS buying group and other specialist toy retailers return to Solihull’s Cranmore Park exhibition centre for the group’s annual domestic show.
Summer events in Pokémon GO have recently become more exciting with the announcement of Pokémon GO Fest 2022. Coming together for community-driven events in Pokémon GO is part of what makes the mobile game exciting for players. Events like Pokémon GO Tours, Community Days, and Spotlight Hours are all great incentives to get outside and meet up with friends to catch new companions.
Josh Wardle Hosts First Live Wordle Competition! Toy industry luminaries Bob Fuhrer and his son Alex competed with hundreds of world class puzzlers in the first ever Wordle competition held in Stamford, Conn. Despite not playing Wordle every day, Sid Sivakumar, a 25-year-old crossword constructor from St. Louis, won the competition.
There will be no E3 this year. Will Powers, PR for gaming peripheral manufacturer Razer, said that he received an email stating the digital event was canceled. IGN initially reported the news, saying they had also independently viewed the email confirming E3’s cancellation. in January, E3 was once again shifted from an in-person event to an online-only exhibition due to the pandemic. Now, it seems that the digital event has been completely canceled.
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Gilbert Gottfried, Aladdin Voice Actor and Comedian, Dead at 67 'After a Long Illness'. April 12, 2022. Known for his work in comedy films and as Iago in Disney's 1992 classic Aladdin, Gottfried was instantly recognizable for his over-the-top, exaggerated voice. A standup comic with a podcast called Gilbert Gottfried's Amazing Colossal Podcast! — the last new episode of which aired on April 4 — Gottfried was also known for his work on the popular PBS Kids show Cyberchase. His notable films include Look Who's Talking Too, Problem Child and Beverly Hills Cop II. He was also the focus of the 2017 documentary film Gilbert, about his prolific life and career. Gottfried reprised his Aladdin voice role of Iago — the villain Jafar's morally torn, wisecracking parrot sidekick — in the sequels The Return of Jafar (1994) and Aladdin and the King of Thieves (1996), as well as in various other Disney specials and series.
Fujiko Fujio A (real name Motoo Abiko) - passed away on April 7th, 2022 at his residence in Kawasaki, Tokyo. He was 88. Fujiko Fujio A is perhaps best known for his collaboration with Fujiko F. Fujio (real name Hiroshi Fujimoto) under the collective pseudonym Fujiko Fujio. The duo penned the world-famous Doraemon manga about the titular robot cat from the future and his friendship with the boy Nobita. The manga ran from 1970 to 1996. The pair worked together before parting in 1987, with Abiko taking the Fujiko Fujio A pseudonym, and Fujimoto taking the Fujiko Fujio F (later Fujiko F. Fujio) pseudonym. Fujimoto passed away in 1996. Doraemon has launched one of the most successful children's media franchises in the world, inspiring numerous anime films and three separate television anime runs, the third of which began in 2005 and is still ongoing and remains one of the most highly rated anime on Japanese television week after week.
Motoo Abiko also penned a number of successful manga series, including Ninja Hattori-kun, Kaibutsu-kun, Pro Golfer Saru, and Warau Salesman. Ninja Hattori-kun inspired a television anime that ran from 1981 to 1987, three anime films from 1982 to 1984, and a live-action film in 2004. Kaibutsu-kun inspired two television anime that ran from 1968 to 1969 and 1980 to 1982, respectively, as well as two anime films in 1981 and 1982. Pro Golfer Saru inspired a 1982 TV anime special, a television anime that ran from 1985 to 1988, and two anime films in 1986 and 1987. Warau Salesman inspired a television anime that ran from 1989 to 1992, as well as The Laughing Salesman NEW, a 2017 television anime that represents the latest adaptation of his individual work.
Jake Sivner - Toy World is sad to report the recent untimely passing of industry ‘rising star’ Jake Sivner at only 22 years of age. Following the sad news, friends and colleagues have issued the following statement: “Jake had a zest for life and lived it to the full. Blessed with his dad’s charisma and confidence, he built up so many great relationships in such a short space of time and left a good impression on everyone he met. He was always professional and courteous and carried himself in a way you would expect from someone 10 years his senior. Everyone was always surprised when they realised just how young he was.”
Ben Russell, Zuru’s SVP, remembers Jake’s first days working in Hong Kong: “Jake started at Zuru as an intern in January 2018, supporting the sales manager for Asia during the Hong Kong and Nuremberg Toy fairs. At only 18 years old, Jake already had an impressive knowledge of the industry. When given the opportunity to pitch product, it was clear that he was a natural and very talented salesman. Jake had big ambitions and was eager to start working, so at the end of his internship, we were more than pleased to offer him a role as a sales executive, supporting sales in Asia.”
Although enthusiastic about gaining a position at the company, Jake continued to push for more responsibilities, and within his first 12 months was promoted to account manager with full territory responsibilities for Southern Europe.
Ben continued: “There were many highlights and wins for the business while Jake was at Zuru, but it was also clear that he needed more than we could offer at the time, so Jake decided to move on to become sales director with a puzzle & games company covering all markets. Jake remained a friend of Zuru and myself after he left, and we were all looking forward to seeing him again once the fairs and industry travel started again. Jake had a heart of gold and embodied the expression of ‘living life to its fullest’. His loss will be felt not only by those closest to him but also by those lucky enough to have crossed paths with this charismatic and charming young man.”
Since leaving Hong Kong, Jake went about setting up his own company, JAS Ultimate, and growing a range of toy brands into North America. The statement continues: “He had a keen eye for supply gaps that his company could support and aside from toys, worked with factories in South East Asia to develop and grow a range of kids furniture solutions. This would have been a whole new revenue stream through Wal-Mart and Target and a fine example of the broad commercial head Jake had on those young shoulders.”
Jake’s father, Marc Sivner, founder of Singleton Trading added: “Not only have we lost our precious son but we’ve lost a rising star in the toy industry.”
Michael G. Landsman, 85. He was the president and CEO of a number of companies: Superior Toy, Tudor Games, Peoria Plastics, HG Toys, and Miggle Toys. Michael was always generous and philanthropic, donating to a wide range of organizations. He loved golf, card games, traveling, and dining with his beloved Delayne. He will be deeply missed by family and his wide circle of friends. Michael was the beloved husband of Delayne, née Hillman; devoted father of Barry J. Landsman and Stacy (Mark) LeBrun; proud grandfather of Rachel (Kevin) Daley and Ryan LeBrun; dear brother of Stephen A. (Beth) Landsman; caring uncle of Mark Landsman, Scott Landsman, and Sari Knight; treasured son of the late Sam and Jeanne; loving nephew of René (late Sheldon) Engerman; will be missed by many close cousins. The family would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to Michael's exceptional caregiver Bob. Michael was born in Chicago and grew up in West Rogers Park and Oak Park.
Charles Marx, passed on April 4, 2022. Charles was the son of David Marx and newphew of Louis Marx. Louis and David co-founded the Louis Marx and Company. From a friend and collegue of Charles, Jerry Cleary, "Charles was a great guy and a terrific Toy Person in his own right. Charles always carried himself with dignity and class and never used his name or celebrity back in the day to bully or take advantage of colleagues or customers. A family man, he was charismatic, kind and respectful of all who worked with him. Charles had a great eye for product and built a terrific segment of business for the company back in the day when retailers like Sears and Montgomery Ward had a significant market share in toys with their catalog operations. The customers loved Charles who had a great knack for supporting and balancing the needs of customer and company. I don't think Charles ever got the credit he deserved for his contributions to our industry. He was a true role model in how to conduct yourself as a businessperson and as an individual. I think I was the last salesperson hired by the old Louis Marx company and I have many fond memories of working with Charles for many years. I lost touch with Charles over the past several years and just wanted to express my thoughts on this wonderful person. May he rest in peace!!"
Estelle Harris, Mrs. Potato Head in 'Toy Story' series, dies at 93. Harris was best known for her distinctive voice and comedic timing, forever cemented by her role as the mother of George (Jason Alexander) in Seinfeld, where she appeared on 27 episodes. Her foil was Jerry Stiller, who played Frank Costanza, and the three characters engaged in countless scenes of lovable bickering.
She also had a robust voice career, anchored by her work as Mrs. Potato Head in the second, third and fourth chapters of the Toy Story series. Channelling the verve of her Seinfeld role, she has a loving and nagging relationship with Mr. Potato Head, perfectly voiced by Don Rickles.
From there, she popped up in many animated projects large and small, including films such as Brother Bear (2003) and Tarzan II (2005) and series such as Hercules, The Wild Thornberrys and Godzilla: The Series (all from 1998). – Reuters
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Ed Gartin is... the Evel Knievel of Inventor Relations!
Ed Gartin is an expert in inventor relations, bringing together Toy & Game companies and the creatives want to bring their inventions to the world. In today's episode, he shares what he looks for in a pitch as well as crazy stories from his twenty years in the industry. Check out Paper Bag Creative: https://paperbagcreative.fun/
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