April 14 - 21, 2023
Welcome to Your Weekly News Brief!
Happy Bloomin' Friday!
Anticipation. Like waiting for the ketchup before the dawn of the squeeze bottle, anticipation can be a delicious thing. After a week of touring and selecting all new venues for our POP Week Inventor Conferences, TAGIE Awards, Young Inventor Challenge, and Chicago Toy & Game Fair, killer anticipation has got us in its grip! Block your calendars for November 2-5 and don’t even bother wearing comfy shoes, because all our venues are within 500 yards of each other – a newer all-suites hotel for pitch meetings (and an overflow hotel next door for those of you who register late), a modern, friendly, yet huge expo center for the YIC and Fair, and a top-shelf concert venue with all the amenities for the TAGIES awaits the arrival of POP Week! Not to wish the summer away, but Come On November! Registration opens soon!
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Industry Commentary - Nancy Zwiers
Letting Go is Harder Than it Sounds
I remember hearing the story about some men who were capturing monkeys in the wild for research. The monkeys needed to be caught unharmed. They finally landed on an approach. They put food in a container with a narrow neck that just barely allowed the monkey to reach its hand inside to access the treat. But lo and behold, once their little fist wrapped around the morsel, they no longer could get their hand back out of the narrow neck. Trapped with their hand inside the container, they were easily caught. If only they would simply release the treat, they could remove their hand and escape, but it just never occurred to the monkeys to let go of the food.
Letting go is harder than it sounds.
Last week marked the four-year anniversary of my retirement from my position as EVP/CMO of Spin Master. After 30+ years invested in the toy industry, I didn’t want to let go completely. It seemed foolish to give up focus on a domain where I had invested so much time, effort, and passion building my professional reputation. Just as important were the friends and colleagues I had enjoyed over the years.
As an industry veteran, I have a lot of wisdom and knowledge to share so mentoring and executive coaching have been rewarding. But I wrestle with how much time and effort to devote to a chapter that is, in fact, winding down. I recently had an epiphany as I was gardening in my backyard (I started during the pandemic and now I’m obsessed). Read More...
People of the Week: David Norman and Geoff Gray
Nine Arches, the only Game Where Everyone Wins and Wants to Tell Everyone!
Hi David and Geoff! Thank you for taking time to answer a few questions and sharing what you are up to! First, what are your roles and responsibilities in our industry?
David Norman: I run Moose’s game division. Our division is fortunate to get a great amount of marketing and innovation from Moose while having the flexibility to operate very entrepreneurially.
Geoff Gray: Well, I have been in the game industry for about ten minutes, haha. Nine Arches is our first game, and I think as outsiders we have the opportunity to bring a sense of wellness and a fresh approach to all areas of play - from the mechanics to marketing, to community building.
The game is an extraordinarily powerful tool, a potent weapon. Why not use it to allow players to win at life too?
Why and how did you get into the Toy and Game industry?
David: I was not successfully selling Exxon oil to Alaskan fisherman after the Valdez oil spill. I knew it was time for a change to do something fun and being a big kid at heart, I thought I’d give games a shot.
What has been your biggest professional achievement?
Geoff: I’ve been lucky enough to have some wonderful moments as a writer - first getting published in the New York Times, starting as a staff writer at New York Magazine in my mid-twenties, best-selling book, awards for stories and docs, but to me Nine Arches is on the top of that list.
Person of the Week - Fun in Motion's Laura Tommervik
On Decision Making: I ask myself, "How would I handle this if I were the owner of this company?’
Hi Laura, thank you for taking time for this interview and nice to meet you! Please share with our readers your roles and responsibilities in our industry?
Except for at the very beginning of my career I’ve been in Brand and Marketing Management. And in many cases, those roles did also involve a licensing element which has allowed me to work on some really amazing partner properties, including Harry Potter and The Simpsons.
What is it about the Toy and Game Industry that you love?
100% the people. When I think back over the years and the hundreds (thousands?) of people I’ve met that are passionate about brining people joy on a daily basis, I feel honored to be a part of that network. It’s also cool that people in the toy/game industry support & advocate for each other as folks change from one company to another. I’ve worked with many friends in my network that I’ve worked at 2-3 of the same toy/game companies. I’m now with the talented team at Fun In Motion Toys and my current Manager, Andy Moberg (who is AMAZING) and I have worked together at a previous toy company. He’s the best!
Do you have a mantra that you live by?
Not a mantra per se but more of a philosophy-- when it comes to my decision making at work, I always think to myself ‘how would I address this issue or handle this matter if I were the owner of this company?’. I think it adds some great perspective when you are doing risk assessment, financial planning or really making any big decisions.
Cartoon Lovers, Lexophiles & People in Need of a Smile!
Thank you Christine Blumberg, RBG Sales, for this gem! You never do know when someone is going to show you a life changing product!
I tell dad jokes but I don’t have any kids. I’m a faux pa. -submitted by Lexophile Jerry Cleary
Quote of the Week...
Tough times don’t last, tough people do. - Shannon Swindle, Inventor Relations Manager, Games at Moose Toys
Do you have a cartoon, quote or a joke to share with your colleagues? Send it to me at email@example.com! Can't wait to see what you've got!
Financial and Legal
Disney Sues DeSantis Over Control of Its Florida Resort. The company claimed “a targeted campaign of government retaliation,” which it said stemmed from its criticism of a contentious state education law. Last year, under pressure from its employees, Disney criticized a Florida education law prohibiting classroom discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity for young students. Almost instantly, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida started calling the company “Woke Disney” and vowing to show it who was boss.
Bed Bath & Beyond Files for Bankruptcy. The company said that it would seek to sell all or some of its business, and that store closing sales would begin on Wednesday. Bed Bath & Beyond came out of the 2008 downturn a winner. Competitors like Sharper Image and Linens ‘n Things filed for bankruptcy, but Bed Bath & Beyond actually expanded its business by acquiring other retailers.
British antitrust regulators dealt a major setback to Microsoft’s plans to acquire the video game giant Activision Blizzard for $69 billion, blocking the proposed deal and handing a notable win to government enforcers around the world who want to rein in Big Tech. With its ruling, Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority inflicted a possibly fatal blow to what would be the largest consumer tech acquisition...
Hasbro Inc. and Gel Blaster Inc. agreed to end their legal battles over water-based gel pellet shooters marketed to children, resolving 9 months of litigation that followed a breakdown in a contemplated business deal. Gel Blaster announced through a spokesman on Tuesday that the companies had reached a settlement, and that it would drop its breach of contract and theft of trade secrets lawsuit against Hasbro...
NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell is leaving the company with immediate effect, following an investigation into alleged inappropriate conduct. NBCU parent Comcast made the shock announcement on Sunday, with Shell confirming that his exit followed an “inappropriate relationship with a woman in the co., which I deeply regret.” Shell, who is married, added: “I’m truly sorry I let my Comcast and NBCUniversal...
eOne’s ex-CEO Darren Throop emerges as potential buyer as Hasbro sale reaches final stages. eOne was put on the block by toy manufacturer Hasbro last year, just three years after it acquired the TV and film company for $4bn, with Legendary and Lionsgate among those still interested. Private equity firm CVC Capital Partners has also been mooted as a potential suitor and it has now emerged that Throop is...
***The above was posted after tBR started sending on April 21st***
Sega and Rovio have agreed a deal for the former to acquire the latter for £625m in a move that will strengthen Sega’s position in the gaming industry by bringing Angry Birds into its portfolio, which already includes the powerhouse brand Sonic the Hedgehog. Reports indicate the deal will also give Sega the ability to bolster its gaming IPs by moving them into the mobile space.
Bed Bath & Beyond Tumbles Amid Mounting Bankruptcy Fears. Shares fell 35% after surging by about 95% over the past three days. The Wall Street Journal reported that the retailer is preparing a bankruptcy filing for as soon as this weekend, following an earlier Bloomberg News report that the company was holding talks with advisers and lenders ahead of a possible Chapter 11 filing.
France’s Mediawan has acquired a majority stake in Amsterdam-based Submarine, which owns one of the country’s largest animation studios and produces films and TV shows for both children and adults. Submarine’s kids library includes Apollo 10 1⁄2: A Space Age Childhood (pictured), a coming-of-age film that launched on Netflix last year; and in-development projects like 2D-animated series Pol The Pirate Mouse...
Spanish TV conglom Squirrel Media has signed a binding letter of intent to buy Mondo TV Studios. Under the agreement, Mondo TV Studios, also based in Spain, will become part of Squirrel, which is the country’s third-largest TV operator with advertising, content and telecom companies in its holdings. Squirrel is set to acquire 74.24% of Mondo TV Studios, which provides animation service in addition to producing and...
WGA members have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike. The vote, which was approved by nearly 98% of the eligible voting members, authorizes the WGA West Board and the WGA East Council to call a strike if a fair deal for a new film and TV contract isn’t reached by May 1, when the current pact expires.
Canada’s BC government invests ‘historic’ US$31 million in culture industries. Almost half the money will flow to the province’s motion picture and digital sectors, which rank among the world’s largest for animation and VFX. Almost US$12 million will flow to film and TV production, with US$668,000 broken out for programs dedicated to professional development, diversity and sustainability.
PlayStation has struck a deal to acquire game developer Firewalk Studios from ProbablyMonsters Inc, Sony Interactive Entertainment announced Thursday. Firewalk, which is currently developing an untitled AAA multiplayer game for Playstation 5 and PC, will collaborate alongside PlayStation brands including Bungie and Haven Interactive Studios to create constantly updated “live service” games for PlayStation...
Atari has announced the acquisition of more than 100 PC and console titles from the 1980s and 1990s. The PC and console collection acquired by Atari includes notable games from the Bubsy, Hardball, Demolition Racer series, as well as the 1942: Pacific Air War, F-117A, and F-14 air combat series.
ToyChamp buys Dreamland. The ToyChamp retail chain, which operates across Belgium and The Netherlands, is set to acquire 75% of Dreamland’s shares. With Belgian toy chain ToyChamp acquiring 75% of Dreamland’s shares, the restructuring has been designed to give Dreamland and Dreambaby ‘a new impetus to expand in a sustainable way’.
Amazon rolls out European Expansion Accelerator. Amazon has announced the launch of the European Expansion Accelerator, which it says will allow sellers to operate across all EU marketplaces ‘with just two clicks’. The new offering will allow sellers to expand their businesses to nine EU stores. The European Expansion Accelerator (EEA) will serve all active sellers and make it easier for them to list their products...
B&M calls halt to online home delivery. Online home delivery was first offered to shoppers last June on a trial basis but B&M has decided to no longer continue with the service. B&M has decided to terminate its online home delivery service following a trial period, according to Retail Week. The retailer introduced the service as a trial last June, offering delivery for heavier general merchandise products...
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The first quarter was a challenging one for Mattel with net sales falling 22% to $815 million amid the beginning of a reset year for much of the toy industry. Despite double-digit declines, the company remains confident in its multiyear growth strategy and has doubled down on its guidance for 2023.
***The above April 21st***
Netflix revenues increase by 4% in Q1. The streamer's take is up this quarter to US$8.2 billion, driven by the premiere of new seasons of teen shows and continued growth for its AVOD tier subscriptions.
Trends, Market Research, and State of the Industry
***The above posted after April 21st***
Stories, Comments, and Advice
The Dungeons & Dragons game was invented in Lake Geneva. Why no statue in the town square? He thinks of all those wealthy, famous names associated with the history of the town — the Schwinns, the Wrigleys, the Maytags, the Wards — then admits, “No matter how many well-known families have been coming here a century or more, I’m not sure any of us have done as much for the city of Lake Geneva as Gary Gygax.”
I set out to find the happiness I felt as a child, and it worked – let me tell you how I did it. Rediscovering old, simple joys such as music, photography and Lego made me wonder why I abandoned them in the first place. When I remember being very young, moments of intense happiness stand out – happiness that came from just curling up in bed, or playing a game with friends, or flicking through a book...
How Pinball is Changing the Game for Breweries Across the Country. For many decades, pinball and beer have gone together like peanut butter and jelly; like Gin & Tonic; like hops and yeast. People love to drink beer and play pinball, so naturally, breweries have been a great fit. The question asked the most is, “How do we get patrons to stay for one more beer?” Pinball has been that answer.
Pinkerton Agents Raids YouTuber’s House To Take Back Magic: The Gathering Cards. Sometimes, you accidentally buy something before it hits the street date, and you get bragging rights with all of your friends. In the case of one Magic: The Gathering streamer, obtaining a box of cards early landed him in hot water with one of the most infamous private security companies in the world.
Bandwagon: How the toy world is heading in a more sustainable direction. When Green Toys’ first product range hit retail shelves in 2010, the co.’s mission to use 100% recycled materials made it an outlier in the sector. It was a niche strategy at a time when consumers, manufacturers and mass culture at large were just beginning to become sensitive to the ecological impact of consumer products and manufacturing.
How can toys, games and apps help children strengthen their emotional intelligence? Researchers are attempting to design toys to boost young children’s emotional intelligence to help them better handle their feelings and improve their interaction with others. Studies have shown that children with high emotional intelligence have better academic abilities and social skills and fewer behavioural problems.
***The aboved after tBR started sending on April 21st***
John Baulch, Toy World UK - Saints and sinners …it’s the Friday Blog! I’ve spent quite a bit of time this week talking to – and talking about – retailers, and frankly, I have seen both the good and bad. Shall we start with the positives? I visited Swindon (no, obviously that’s not the positive…) to attend the Toymaster supplier meeting – the retail group’s first such presentation for six years. I think it is fair to say that the...
18 The Ever Growing Impact Of Amazon As A Launchpad For New Toy & Games Companies. In the Toy & Games business Amazon has been a hot topic for a long time now. I can clearly remember ordering from Amazon in the early noughties and becoming hooked on the ease of ordering at a time when many people still relied on ultra slow dial up internet connections at home!
Musicians Dressed as Barbie, From Nicki Minaj to Trixie Mattel. Barbie has been a longtime inspiration in pop culture, ever since the first doll revolutionized the toy industry back in 1959. In celebration of the upcoming Barbie film, we’ve compiled a list of musicians who have dressed up as the doll at one point or another in their careers...
Snoopy Look-alike Bayley the Mini Sheepadoodle Is Winning the Hearts of the Internet. With a stark white face, an inky black nose, and black ears to match, Bayley the mini sheepadoodle bears an uncanny resemblance to the iconic cartoon dog Snoopy. The one-year-old's incredibly expressive face caught the eye of animal lovers on social media, and the American pup's Instagram following has skyrocketed to more...
How AI Is Being Used to Create the Ultimate Choose Your Own Adventure Game. The text-based RPG is one of gaming's oldest genres. Thanks to AI, gamers are bringing it back. Choices are at the foundation of the text-based games. However, there are usually only a few possible paths to take based on how the creator has written the scenario. But what if your choice was truly limitless, because the story hadn't been...
Japan has completely run out of Pokémon cards. Thanks to a set of hard-to-get Pokémon cards, The Pokémon Card company has admitted that the collectibles are currently totally sold out in Japan. The Pokémon Company dropped a new expansion pack for the trading card game on April 14. Centered around Scarlet and Violet’s four Treasures of Ruin within the game’s Paldea region, the new packs, Clay Burst and...
I'm raising a bilingual child—these are the books and toys we love. If you want to raise a global citizen, it’s never too early to start a second language. There’s a joke in travel circles that goes something like this: What do you call a person who speaks three languages? Trilingual. How about two? Bilingual. And one? American. Like many friends and colleagues, I didn’t study a second language until the seventh grade.
When kids like the box more than the toy: The benefits of playing with everyday objects. Many have observed that sometimes when given a toy as a present, children play with the box the toy came in, or even the gift wrapping. In earlier generations, children's play materials were often homemade or relatively simple. Commercial or hand-made toys were made from durable and long-lasting materials.
Sustainability is priming the wooden toy category for growth. Creative Kids and BRIO parentco Ravensburger discuss opportunities in the category, which are increasing as today's parents seek out sustainably made alternatives to traditional plastics. Toy soldiers, craft dolls, miniature kitchens and alphabet blocks. Wooden toys have existed in the market for nearly 3,000 years, having made their debut in Germany sometime in the 1700s.
Fact: Kids grow faster in the spring. A 2015 study of 760 Danish students aged 8 to 11 revealed the most growth recorded around April and May, while a 2022 paper, which tracked the development of thousands of Texas kids from kindergarten to fifth grade, confirmed strong growth rates in spring and early summer.
History and Nostalgia
How Queen Elizabeth’s coronation helped start Matchbox cars. Matchbox, maker of tiny toy cars, is bringing back one if its most important models. It’s not a car, but a little horse-drawn coach, and its success led to the creation of Matchbox toy cars. And it was Matchbox cars that, in turn, inspired their one-time competitor, Hot Wheels.
***The above posted after April 21st***
Who first thought of Pickleball? Pickleball was invented in 1965 by Joel Pritchard, then a congressman from Washington State, and a businessman named Bill Bell at Pritchard’s home on Bainbridge Island, WA. They created the game as a form of entertainment for their families using an old badminton court, a lowered net, ping-pong paddles, and a perforated plastic ball.
Mosquito from Milton Bradley (1966). Released in 1966 by Milton Bradley, Mosquito was a skill and action game that required a steady hand and even steadier nerves. One or more players attempted to score points by navigating a mosquito, rendered as a spinning top, around as many numbered structures on the game board as possible before it stopped spinning.
Shaker Maker Trolls from Toymax (1992). Shaker Maker allowed children to create molded figures from water and powdered casting material. The toy was created by Allen Greenberg and originally released by Ideal Toy Company in 1971. Toymax acquired the license to produce Shaker Maker sets in the 1990s and released sets based on popular properties, such as Trolls — demonstrated in this video from Lucky Penny Shop.
Two decades later, Pokémon's original iconic art can finally be seen in its full glory. For over 20 years, Pokémon fans have circulated poor-quality scans of the original watercolor artwork for the 251 monsters from the first two generations by renowned series artist Ken Sugimori. These scans were often washed out, and while they had a retro feel to them, weren’t accurate to the original art.
Licensing and Entertainment
France’s Canal+ has acquired seasons one and two of CG-animated series Noodle and Bun from South Africa’s Polycat. Targeting kids ages six to 12, Noodle and Bun is a comedy-driven, dialogue-free concept that follows the adventures of a cat (Noodle) who constantly causes trouble and gets into misadventures on a farm with a nervous pug (Bean) and a brave little mouse (Bun).
Build-A-Bear Ent. is kickstarting a new chapter in its franchising playbook, signing an overall deal with Macmillan-owned publisher Odd Dot. The companies will work together to create picture books, chapter books, board books, sticker and activity books based on Build-A-Bear IPs including Honey Girls, a plush line that launched in 2015 and was adapted as a live-action film in 2021. Odd Dot will also publish books...
Netflix is prepping a SpongeBob animated movie. The streamer has also revealed it’s working on a new comedy pic called In Your Dreams, about two brothers in search of a magician who can grant their greatest wish. Nickelodeon Animation’s Saving Bikini Bottom: The Sandy Cheeks Movie (pictured) will see Sandy Cheeks and SpongeBob travel to Texas to save Bikini Bottom from yet another evil plot.
Three secret spies of Beverly Hills are returning to screens across EMEA and the US next year with some help from Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD). The broadcaster has picked up an upcoming seventh season of Banijay Kids & Family’s revived Totally Spies! series. he latest 2D-animated season will premiere first on Cartoon Network US in 2024, and later on WBD’s Max streamer across the EMEA region.
Milkshake! is spotlighting the UK’s cultural diversity against a familiar backdrop: playdates. Channel 5’s preschool block has announced the commission of Reu and Harper’s Wonderworld, a 20 x 11-minute factual series from London-based Doc Hearts (Motocross Girls). It stars five-year-old Hazariah-Reu Zephaniah and seven-year-old Harper-Rae (pictured) of The Grimwades, a British family vlog with 296,000 YouTube subscribers.
***The above published after April 21st***
Mattel and Gap announce new partnership. Mattel, Inc. and Gap announced a new apparel collaboration inspired by Mattel’s portfolio of brands and Gap’s signature icons that have dressed generations since 1969. The first of many upcoming Gap x Mattel product drops will be the Gap x Barbie collection – an offering of tees, skirts, logo hoodies, denim, button-downs and accessories as well as pet apparel ...
Hasbro and Panini USA launch Monopoly Prizm: NBA Edition. In the new NBA version of Monopoly, players take control of games rather than buying properties. Hasbro and Panini USA have announced the launch of Monopoly Prizm: NBA Edition, a special edition of Monopoly where players will draft NBA teams using Panini’s Prizm trading cards. Instead of buying Properties, players try to take control of NBA Games...
Nickelodeon will welcome preschoolers into the magical world of Gabby’s Dollhouse, marking the linear debut for the hit mixed-media series from DreamWorks Animation, beginning Monday, May 1, at 8 p.m. (ET/PT) on the Nick Jr. channel. The hybrid live-action and animated series follows the super fun adventures of Gabby, as she unboxes a brand-new surprise in every episode before jumping into a fantastical...
Sonic the Hedgehog is getting four cool as hell new LEGO sets. On Wednesday, Lego and the official Sonic the Hedgehog account announced that the blue blur is getting four new grown-up play sets on August 1. The four new Lego sets are Sonic’s Green Hill Zone Loop Challenge, Tails’ Workshop and Tornado Plane, Amy’s Animal Rescue Island, and Sonic’s Speed Sphere Challenge.
With MIPTV starting next week, we’re spotlighting a few “cool new shows” in development that we think will be making moves at the French market. Galactic music, hares on an epic adventure and a young Abraham Lincoln are featured in this year’s batch of shows. The common thread? Fresh takes on bringing people (as well as monsters and aliens) together.
Rocket Licensing struck a deal to manage licensing efforts in the UK and other European countries for The 50th Anniversary of Hip-Hop campaign. Designed to honor the pioneering artists of the 1970s and uplift communities from Hip-Hop’s roots, the campaign is set to feature numerous live events, concerts, and collaborations. Master agent The Brand Liaison will support the campaign from the U.S.
With Earth Day approaching next week, TVOKids is marking the occasion with a “green” light for some new eco-themed content. The Canadian pubcaster has ordered Green Squad, an unscripted live-action series for 6-9-yr-olds from Montreal’s Apartment 11 (Interstellar Ella). This 13 x 30-minute series centers around five teen hosts who teach kids how to make eco-friendly and creative changes to their lifestyle.
The Hookup: Sky Kids’ Lucy Murphy on filling the linear grid. British broadcaster Sky has launched a new ad-free linear channel for kids, with a programming strategy that’s designed to inspire, energize and educate them as they move through their typical daily routines. Aimed at the under-seven set, Sky Kids launched in February. It was a move that surprised many in the industry, but the broadcaster’s...
MIPTV Market Moves: eOne, CAKE, Mondo TV - eOne’s Transformers: EarthSpark is making its way around the world, CAKE signs on for Toru Superfox, and Agent 203 has compiled a dossier of new buyers. Hasbro’s entertainment studio is bringing 26-episode animated series Transformers: EarthSpark into new markets, signing deals with buyers including Gulli (France), Clan (Spain), Super! (Italy), NRK (Norway), DR...
The League of Women Voters of the United States and a local board game designer are excited to kick off Women’s History Month with the launch of a new board game highlighting the women’s suffrage movement. Votes for Women, designed by Tory Brown and published by Fort Circle Games, recounts the story of how suffragists won the right to vote in 1920 through the 19th Amendment.
LA-based animation studio Baobab Studios is gearing up to expand its NFT-first IP Momoguro into a franchise, starting with its first Roblox game and an eye to animated TV. Baobab’s action-adventure title Momoguro: Momo Quest was developed internally at the digital studio and will launch on Roblox this summer. In it, kids work together to save an enchanted island inhabited by creatures called Momos from a force of evil monsters called the Singulars.
There's a new lion king staking out his territory in the global kids and family media landscape—but this one’s Turkish, wears a blue hoodie, and answers to the name Shakir. The teenage feline is the star of King Shakir (pictured), a 2D-animated kids and family comedy from Istanbul-based Grafi2000 (Ali The Cavity And Necati The Microbe) that has become a massive ratings hit for Cartoon Network Turkey.
Lionsgate bites back into the Twilight franchise. The company's TV division is developing a series based on Stephenie Meyer's popular YA romance books set in the world of vampires and werewolves. Reviving one of its most lucrative IPs after more than a decade out of the spotlight, Lionsgate Television is developing a series based on the vampiric teen fantasy franchise Twilight.
Luxury stroller wagon brand WonderFold has announced the release of their new collection in collaboration with Japanese-inspired lifestyle brand, tokidoki. To accompany their current Animalini 2.0 Parent Consoles, WonderFold now offers a full collection of tokidoki prints. With the adorable cartoon art from tokidoki’s JuJuBe Animalini collection, the new tokidoki pattern adds a trendy, brightly colored...
Ahead of GAMA Expo, Funko Games unveiled four captivating new board and party games, including Star Trek Cryptic, Scream the Game, Big Boss and NUCK TATS. The leading tabletop games developer announced that the new games will include those inspired by popular fandoms, an updated board game classic, and an original pick-up-and-play party game perfect for casual gatherings.
ZAG signs Hyperkin for gaming deals. ZAG has signed a worldwide license with gaming hardware developer, Hyperkin, for an exclusive line of controllers and accessories for the franchise “Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir.” “Miraculous” is the first license for Hyperkin in the character IP sector, with products scheduled to launch this summer.
The Loyal Subjects Toy partners with Hallmark for Rainbow Brite. The new toy line includes Rainbow Brite fashion dolls, collectibles and more. The Loyal Subjects Toy (TLS Toy), which produces high-quality collectibles and toys, has announced a new licensing agreement with Hallmark, featuring one of pop culture’s most successful, uplifting, and inspiring brands, Rainbow Brite.
As the third season of The Mandalorian comes to a close this week, Hasbro is giving Star Wars fans a chance to continue the adventure with their favorite characters. Hasbro unveiled two figures to celebrate Mando Mania, weekly reveals of new toys and merch inspired by the latest season of The Mandalorian, which debuted on Disney+ on March 1.
Bakugan: Legends season finale to premier next month. The final season of Bakugan, Bakugan: Legends, is coming to UK TV screens on May Bank Holiday Monday 1st May. Bakugan: Legends is the fifth season in the Bakugan series which will see the Awesome Brawlers return to face off against a cruel and merciless enemy new to the show. Created by Spin Master Entertainment, the action-packed animated...
Supergirl Barbie Unveiled. Warner Bros. Discovery Consumer Products, DC Comics and Mattel have teamed up for a new licensed Barbie doll. A collaborative effort between designers and artists at Mattel, Warner Bros. Discovery Global Consumer Products and DC, Supergirl Barbie Doll has been revealed with her red and blue suit featuring the S-Shield displayed on her chest, and a flowing red cape...
Warner Bros. Discovery Global Consumer Products launches largest collection of The Flash merchandise inspired by super hero. Warner Bros. Discovery Global Consumer Products (WBDGCP) and DC are set to electrify the multiverse with a massive global merchandise collection inspired by Warner Bros. Pictures’ highly anticipated “The Flash.”
Devolver Digital — the company behind the global video game Fall Guys — appointed two new licensing agents for the brand. Tycoon Enterprises will represent Fall Guys across Latin America, while Maurizio Distefano Licensing will represent the brand in Italy. Fall Guys is a multiplayer party royale game where players must compete in increasingly hectic rounds of obstacle races until one lucky winner remains.
'Gigantosaurus' Toy Line Launches in Italy. The toy line features mini-figures, plush and action figures. The Gigantosaurus toy line and plush collection, based on the Cyber Group Studios TV series, is now available in Italy starting from Q2 2023, distributed under the Grandi Giochi brand through an agreement between manufacturer, United Smile and Giochi Preziosi.
The popular and record-smashing Fast & Furious Saga will race into homes next month with the release of The Fast & The Furious Deluxe Arcade Game, Arcade1Up has announced, in collaboration with Universal Games and Digital Platforms. Releasing ahead of the tenth installment in the Universal Pictures film saga, Fast X, the classic The Fast & The Furious Deluxe Arcade Game will transport fans...
Harry Potter TV series confirmed. The original Harry Potter scripted television series was confirmed during Warner Bros. Discovery’s unveiling of the Max streaming service on the Warner Bros. lot in Los Angeles this week. The series will be a faithful adaptation of the beloved Harry Potter book series by author and executive producer, J.K. Rowling. From Warner Bros.
People of Play
The Jim Henson Company has hired Tara Billik to oversee its movie pipeline as VP of feature films. Based in LA, Billik officially started her new role this week and reports to CEO Lisa Henson. She will oversee the development of Henson’s upcoming feature projects, which span animation, fantasy and sci-fi. The slate includes a Netflix adaptation of 1999 kids fantasy novel The 13 1/2 lives of Captain Bluebear...
What it’s like to be a theme park designer. Taylor Jeffs is living his dream. Growing up in Orange County, California, near Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm, he visited some of the world’s best theme parks on a regular basis. “Back then, it definitely wasn’t cool to be into theme parks, but I was obsessed,” Jeffs, 39, tells CNN. “I understood how special and important they can be and would dream about working in the industry.”
Meet Amanda Luna: The Creative Force Behind CPGP’s New Tron-Inspired Product Line. Riding TRON Lightcycle / Run presented by Enterprise in Magic Kingdom Park is no longer the only way to enter the Grid! Disney Consumer Products, Games and Publishing’s latest product line is inspired by both the ride and the iconic films, “Tron” (1982) and “Tron: Legacy” (2010). To celebrate the launch, I sat down with Amanda...
***The above posted after April 21st***
Renegade Game Studios has brought in a new VP of Sales, as VP of Sales and Marketing Sara Erickson makes an internal move. Andrew Lupp, most recently Sales Manager at PSI Distribution, is the new Vice President of Sales at Renegade. In addition to his over ten years at PSI, Lupp has also held sales management roles at Hidden City Games, Bandai America, and Decipher in a trade sales career that has run over 25 yrs.
After Her PhD at Harvard, How This Mum Started a Multi-Crore Sustainable Toy Business. Meeta Sharma Gupta started a sustainable toy brand ‘Shumee’ in Delhi after she did not find suitable toys in India that focus on developing children’s cognitive and motor skills. Today, she gets over 8,000 orders a month and employs over 100 artisans.
Toy World welcomes new editorial assistant Marianna Casal. Marianna has joined the Alakat Publishing team and will be working alongside editor Rachael Simpson-Jones. Marianna Casal graduated from City, University of London in 2022 with a first class honours degree in journalism. Since then, she has been honing her journalistic skills by working as a news reporter for the Henley Standard.
Industry veteran, global brand builder and licensing executive Rosalind ‘Roz’ Nowicki has been appointed to Fabacus’ Board of Advisors. Fabacus is a data management and bureau service for the licensing industry and developer of the proprietary data management software platform, Xelacore. “Given Roz’s wealth of experience and understanding of the industry challenges, it is great validation having her advocate...
Just Play UK introduces new hires. Tess Parsons-Broome has been appointed Just Play Marketing communications manager for the UK and will be responsible for delivering the marketing strategy and activations across the UK and Ireland, working closely with EMEA colleagues for a joined up and holistic approach. Meanwhile, Ali Coates joins as Trade Marketing manager and will be integral to...
Karen Tank becomes latest Toynamics sales agent. Toynamics UK & Ireland has welcomed Karen Tank to its team of UK sales agents. In her new role, Karen will have a focus on the south west region. Karen will be responsible for sales across Toynamics’ toy and nursery brands including Hape, AmbossToys, Skip Hop, Korko, Nebulous Stars, DinosArt and Nanoblock.
Companies and Brands
Cepia, the creators of Cats vs Pickles, Dogs vs Squirls, Kittens vs Gherkins, and Bears vs Donuts, will launch Cows vs Aliens this summer. The co. promises that the line of 24, collectible, bean-filled plush characters is “udderly adorable.” According to the lore, the cows are being observed by aliens that are poorly disguised as humans. “We know our fans love the quirkiness of the VS World,” says Cepia Founder and CEO James Russell Hornsby.
Mattel, Inc has announced a forthcoming update to the Mattel Creations Virtual Collectibles Platform. On April 27, the platform will introduce its own peer-to-peer marketplace, allowing owners of Mattel virtual collectibles to display, trade, and sell their assets. To coincide with the update, Series 5 of the Hot Wheels NFT Garage will launch at the same time.
KAPPA TOYS OPENS NEW STORE IN THE FORUM SHOPS AT CAESARS PALACE. Kappa Toys is a specialty retailer in LV, focusing on collectibles, toys, and other goods that bring nostalgia and “kawaii fun” to toy fans of all ages. The store’s prior location was in Area15, and they’ve just recently opened a new store in The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace. “Kappa Toys has truly become the toy store for Las Vegas,” says Lizzy Newsome,...
Earth Day Toys on STUDIO40 LIVE. Tammy Smitham, VP of Corporate Social Responsibility at Spin Master, joins us to talk about how the company is taking steps to protect the planet and making some of the most popular toys of all time more eco-friendly as part of its Playsponsible initiative!
Scotland welcomes 'hardest to reach LEGO store in the world'. The Danish toy production company transformed the Highland location into a shop as part of the launch of its new Classic Land Rover Defender toy set. LEGO design master Kurt Kristiansen said: “Bringing the Classic Defender to life in bricks was no easy challenge. “Defender can take you anywhere, so during the design process we wanted to infuse the set...
Fun In Motion Toys, maker of the award-winning interactive toy sensation Shashibo, has been awarded STEAM accreditation from Dr. Gummer’s Good Play Guide in partnership with The Toy Association for Cubendi, the geometric origami puzzle, Cubendi is an entirely new form of magnetic puzzle that combines creativity with learning. Its urban vibes are captivating, featuring energetic colors and eclectic patterns...
License 2 Play is getting into the sandwich business, kind of. Sandoichis is a collectible plush range that combines animals with sandwiches. There are six of them in the first series: Patty the PB & Jellicorn, Charlie the Chicken Sando, Geno the Corgi Cheesesteak, Penny the Ice Cream Pengwich, Tammy the Grilled Cheese Tabby, and Peggy the Panini Pig. The collection is designed with both kids and collectors in mind.
LEGO is ‘building’ toward a better future. European Energy has entered into an agreement with The LEGO Group to deliver e-methanol as a lower-carbon alternative to conventional plastic production. European Energy will produce methanol from renewable energy using wind and solar plants as well as biogenic CO2, commonly referred to as e-methanol, which will in turn be used for plastic production.
The LEGO Group breaks ground on carbon-neutral run factory in Virginia. The LEGO Group has broken ground on its new £1b carbon-neutral run factory in Chesterfield County near Richmond, Virginia, US, a move which will aid the company’s long-term growth globally. Once completed in 2025, the 340-acre site, the size of 260 American football fields, will have rooftop and ground solar panels and an on-site ...
Fred Rogers Productions is launching Writers’ Neighborhood, a 5-year initiative intended to support new and emerging writers from underrepresented racial groups who want to pursue a career in children’s media. As part of the initiative, Writers’ Neighborhood is accepting applications to its 8-week-long program from May 1-15. The program is aimed to help chosen applicants hone their skills as well as...
ADVENTURE MEDIA & EVENTS TO LAUNCH FUNFLUENTIAL INFLUENCER CAMPAIGN MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE FOR THE TOY INDUSTRY. This revolutionary software is specifically designed for the baby, toy, game, and family industries. It boasts an easy-to-use interface, it’s incredibly affordable, and it takes the immense legwork out of creating influencer campaigns, leading to reduced staff time and increased...
Miniland continues commitment to sustainability with expansion of ECO products. Miniland, makers of award-winning toys and games focused on Social Emotional Learning and diversity, continues to enhance its efforts to become a greener company through the expansion of its successful ECO line and actively measuring its carbon footprint over the past four years.
Ravensburger unveils vibrant line of natural wooden puzzles in time for Earth Day. Just in time for Earth Day, the puzzle leaders at Ravensburger are using sustainable materials to bring nature to life with their first-ever line of wooden puzzles. Made of eco-friendly engineered wood and packed in paper bags, these sturdy wooden puzzles feature unique laser-cut designs that are printed directly onto ethically...
ELC celebrates Coronation with Happyland set. On Saturday 6th May, His Majesty King Charles III will become the 40th monarch to be crowned King, and to celebrate, the Early Learning Centre’s exclusive Happyland King and Queen Coronation Carriage Set has been unveiled. The celebratory set will be available to purchase in-stores and online from Friday 5th May and is available to pre-order now.
Bushiroad announces next Cardfight Vanguard booster set. Bushiroad announced Clash of Heroes, a new Cardfight!! Vanguard booster set, coming to retail on September 15, 2023. The new set has cards for characters from the Cray Cross Epic novel. It features cards for characters like Kheios, Tamayura, Rorowa, Eva, and Thegrea.
Airfix announces three new starter and gift sets. The new Airfix additions are the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II, Supermarine Spitfire & F-35B Lightning II Then and Now Gift Set and 617 Sqn. 80th Anniversary Gift Set. The new mould Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II Starter Set, along with the associated Gift Set versions, feature the fifth generation fighter.
The Entertainer unleashes latest Fugglers. The Laboratory Misfits Edition is the newest launch from the plush brand and is made up of ten new Fugglers. The Entertainer has announced the newest launch of Fugglers with the Laboratory Misfits Edition, which are set to hit shelves this month. Bursting with personality and unique quirks, the Laboratory Misfit Edition features ten Fugglers.
Gaming: Digital, Video, Hardware, and Development
Outright Games will become UNICEF UK’s first official long-term video game industry partner and commit to raise a minimum of £200,000 each year through the sale of special video game bundles featuring the biggest names in kids’ entertainment. On 28th April, the first video game charity bundle will be launched, with all profits going to UNICEF, featuring some of the biggest video games from licensing partner Hasbro...
Atari acquires 100 classic franchises including Bubsy and Hardball. Atari has acquired more than 100 console and PC games from the '80s and '90s including titles from the Bubsy, Hardball, and Demoliti.-14 air combat franchises and grabbed the trademarks for the Accolade and GTI brands. Atari said it plans to create more games based on its newly-acquired franchises, explore branding and merchandising...
Ready at Dawn and Downpour Interactive impacted by Meta layoffs. Hours after Meta said thousands of layoffs were to come, it appears two of its game studios were affected. Now-former employees at developers Downpour Interactive and Ready at Dawn have said they were among those cut by the tech giant.0Meta acquired the California-based Ready at Dawn in 2020.
Falcon’s Beyond launches first mobile game – Katmandu: EtherMerge. Following the recent grand opening of the highly-anticipated Katmandu Park | Punta Cana, the Caribbean’s first world-class theme park, Falcon’s Beyond, a leading fully integrated global entertainment development company specializing in intellectual property (IP) creation and expansion, announces the release of its first mobile game...
Harry Potter: Quidditch Champions game announced by WB. Hot on the heels of the success of Hogwarts Legacy, Harry Potter fans can now look forward to a standalone game based on wizarding sport Quidditch. Harry Potter: Quidditch Champions from WB games and developer Unbroken Studios does not have a release date yet.
Highlighted Press Releases
GOT A YOUNG FRIEND IN NEED? TURN TO FLUFFYWEIGHT INDEED TO SOOTHE MELTDOWNS AND FEEL BETTER NOW. Therapeutically Weighted Stuffed Animal Cat and Dog Praised By National Parenting Product Awards (NAPPA) For Larger Than Life Comforting. Portland, OR (April 26, 2023) – That familiar proverb a friend in need is a friend indeed has never been truer as today’s youngsters are in daily need of perseverance and resiliency skills. Happily, the solution is a hug away with FluffyWeight, a prescription strength weighted stuffed animal that soothes on the spot. The National Parenting Product Awards (NAPPA) just named FluffyWeight to its 2023 NAPPA Awards list of the best toys, baby and family products on the market today.
TO COIN A PHRASE, THE “IT” TOY FOR 2023 MAKES ITS DEBUT IN STORES IN APRIL Nowhere As Pricey As Bitcoins(!) the $5 itCoinz Collectible Is About To Make A Spectacle With Kids Who Love A Magnetic Battle Challenge. New Brunswick, NJ (April 25, 2023) – If the kids have been saving their allowance to buy something super fun and new, we now know what “it” is! Parent company Watchitude®, beloved for products strategically engineered to showcase an artist’s style that’s fresh and trendy, announces the launch of Series A itCoinz (starting at $5 for mystery 5-pack). They’re bound to be the coolest locker feature at school!
***The above posted after April 21st***
MOONLITE REIMAGINES STORYBOOK TIME WITH SOUND & LIGHT PROJECTED HIGH ABOVE SLEEPY HEADS. World Of Eric Carle™, Disney Princess, Disney Mickey & Friends Collections Now In Moonlite’s Library. Beaverton, OR (April 20, 2023) – What happens when traditional storybooks melds with modern technology? Tots reap the love of art and reading while creating moments with the grownups who adore them! Say hello to Moonlite and its newest library collections tucked in updated packaging that sparks the early development of imagination and curiosity!
Safety and Counterfeiting
Retail giant Amazon has revealed a new measure to help eliminate counterfeits across the consumer products industry. The company’s Anti-Counterfeiting Exchange (ACX) is an industry partnership designed to make it safer to shop online and more difficult for counterfeiters to move among different stores to attempt to sell counterfeit products.
FROM THE ARCHIVES: MATTEL’S WARNING REGARDING BOOTLEG RAINBOW BRITE PRODUCTS. Following the news that The Loyal Subjects will be relaunching Rainbow Brite this fall under its newly minted TLS Toy Division, The Toy Book is cracking open the archives for a look back at when the brand first made waves at retail. In the 1980s, toymakers were not as conservative in keeping scuffles private, and many took out full-page ads in The Toy Book to fire warning shots at the competition, or worse — counterfeiters.
Associations, Shows, Awards, Events, and Festivals
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government announced that Dr Peter K N Lam has been reappointed as chairman of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) for two years with effect from 1st June 2023. Dr Lam said: “I am honoured to be reappointed as chairman of the HKTDC. In the past four years, the global economy has faced unprecedented challenges.
Licensing Expo has extended the submission deadline for Ignite Brand Pitches to Mon., April 24. This competition gives exhibitors the opportunity to share their vision with attendees from more than 70 countries. Five finalists with existing licensing portfolios will have the opportunity to pitch retailers, buyers, industry experts, and agents from the main stage of the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas.
Spielwarenmesse eG is giving companies an opportunity to break into the Indian toy market with its Kids India fair. The event features a full collection of exhibitors within two halls, with toys featured including dolls, educational toys, electronics, and more. The fair was established in 2013 and has been going strong since as an opportunity for business-to-business networking.
Toymaster holds first supplier meeting since 2017. The meeting gave Toymaster the opportunity to update suppliers on what the retail group has been doing, and how they can maximize their business with the members. A host of toy companies travelled to Swindon yesterday to attend the first Toymaster supplier meeting for six years.
Toy & Edu China, Baby & Stroller China and Licensing China back in the game with 70,836 visitors. A 40% increase in visitor numbers compared to the 2022 editions has underscored a productive return to business for the three concurrent fairs, which successfully concluded on 9 April after a three day run at the Shenzhen World Exhibition and Convention Center.
The Yu-Gi-Oh! World Championship to commence 5th August. The highly-anticipated two-day event will see the best duelists worldwide challenge each other for the honour of securing one of three titles. Following the February announcement of the return of the Yu-Gi-Oh! World Championship (WCS), Konami Digital Entertainment B.V. has announced the official dates and venue for the two-day event.
Every year Samaritan’s Purse partners with families, churches, individuals and groups to send millions of gift-filled shoeboxes to children in need around the world through Operation Christmas Child. Each shoebox gift contains a range of toys, school supplies, accessories and personal care items. For many of the children receiving these gifts, this will be their first ever Christmas present. One reipient, 8 yr old Natalya, lives in an orphanage in Ukraine. She was delighted to receive a shoebox gift containing a baby doll, a tiara, a skipping rope, cuddly toys, school supplies, accessories and many more treasures. Her favourite item was a yellow duck-shaped torch, which she said would help her not to be afraid when she runs to the basement during air raids.
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
Ivan Moscovich - Holocaust Survivor, Inventor, Artist, Author, Puzzler and so much more. From Bob Fuhrer, "It’s with great sorrow to share that the legendary Ivan Moscovich has passed away just shy of his 97th birthday. Ivan’s life story is among the most remarkable tales of survival having barely survived Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen and 2 other camps to become an internationally known and acclaimed inventor, puzzler, author and artist. Please visit this link for more: https://peopleofplay.com/people/ivan-moscovich
Joan Frances (Bam) Widmer, August 18, 1926 - January 20, 2023, known by friends and family as "Bam" (shortened from Bambina, as she was christened by the neighborhood Italian greengrocer) passed away on January 20th at Carolina Meadows, her retirement community in Chapel Hill, NC. Born in Chicago to Frances Wynn Heile and Charles Heyfield Pike, she and her younger siblings, Patricia and Dick, grew up in a well-to-do household, doted on by their maternal grandmother who loved to take them to concerts, plays, ballets and museums. Their mother, Frances, was a pioneer in many respects by having attended Smith College and even more so in starting and running her own industrial design company in partnership with her sister, Harriet, in the 1930's. Frances was also an accomplished watercolorist who left Chicago at 61 to move to Los Angeles where she worked as a soft toy designer until her death at 73. Career and creativity were in Bam's genes. Bam's father, Charles, from Newfoundland, and whose history is a bit shrouded in mystery, was a much-awarded athlete at UPenn and a physician. The family's early years during the depression included summers in Wisconsin with Bam's maternal grandmother, aunt and uncle at Oconomowoc Lake, a much beloved memory. Bam attended Purdue University, but left to marry her first husband, Harry Leonard, living for the first two years of their marriage in San Francisco where she worked in a lab at the University of California, San Francisco hospital. When she and Harry returned to Chicago, she joined with her mother to start a small company that designed and produced "Snuffy the Clown" and other baby items. The department store, Carson Pirie Scott, in downtown Chicago displayed a multitude of Snuffy the Clowns in their Christmas window one year. READ MORE...
Klaus Teuber, the designer of Settlers of Catan passed away on April 1, 2023 at age 70. He was a German dental technician who became a professional board game designer. Klaus designed four games that won the prestigious Spiel des Jahres (Game of the Year) award: Barbarossa (1988), Adel Verpflichtet (1990), Drunter und Drüber (1991) and The Settlers of Catan (1995). The latter sold over 40 million copies with many line expansions.
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