April 21 - 28, 2023
Welcome to Your Weekly News Brief!
Happy Bloomin' Friday!
Everybody likes a quotable quote, and inspiration is always welcome from trailblazers. In today’s
Bloom Report, the naturally intelligent Don Wilder uses Artificial Intelligence to find a boatload of quotes from the captains of our industry. If you’re quoted here, thanks for your thoughts, and if your quote is inaccurate, blame the bots!
Thank you for reading the Bloom Report. If you can't wait for the news to arrive each Friday, check out the Bloom Report 24/7 News Feed!
“I seriously look forward to each Friday to learn most every update + more in the Industry. Priceless info! Thank you” -Michael Kohner, The Michael Kohner Corporation
"TBR is required reading for: inventors, manufacturers, retailers, marketers, suppliers, absolutely everyone!" - Robert Fuhrer, Founder, NEXTOY
"I am a long-time reader and champion of tBR. 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 & Founder, Little Kids Inc.
"I don't know anyone in the industry that doesn't read the Bloom Report." -Ken Lewis, President, 4Kidz, Inc.
Person of the Week - Moose Toys' Shannon Swindle
Surround Yourself with People Who Inspire You
Hi Shannon! Thank you for taking time to share what you've been up to lately. Can you share with our readers what you do in our industry?
I am the Inventor Relations Manager for Games at Moose Toys. Outside the industry, it’s not a well-known profession. At first, people think I’m in Investor Relations. I usually explain that it’s similar to a scout in sports or an A&R rep in music. Instead of looking for the next great athlete or promising new artists, we’re looking for the next best toy or game. The essence of my job is relationships. I meet with inventors every week and then share the best ideas with our team. During my first six months at Moose, I saw over 700 concepts!
What is your claim to fame?
I once jumped into the (very polluted) Chicago River to save my dad’s dog who accidentally fell in.
What advice would you give a young adult graduating from high school or college today?
Work hard. Be kind. Be humble. Be someone who other people want to work with. Accept responsibility for your actions. Surround yourself with people who inspire you. Don’t make decisions based on fear. If you fall, get back up. Learn new things. Grow. Take care of yourself, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Find a great mentor. Trust your gut. Know what your core values are. Don’t burn bridges. Read More!
MESH PRODUCTS - STORYTELLING
Part 4 in a 6-Part Series
Thinkfun turns their focus to the global youth mental health crisis and how play can make all the difference in protecting and strengthening children and teens. The company’s new initiative brings together stakeholders from all over the toys and games industry with the challenge: how do we build MESH (Mental, Emotional and Social Health) skills through play?
In this bi- weekly column for The Bloom Report, we will look into the different areas of this initiative in depth. This week we share an overview of the initiative.
A great deal of the worry adults have about kids’ mental health is in not knowing how to know when kids are struggling. Children and teens need the skills required to explain what’s happening to them and how they’re feeling.
Sounds simple, right? But really, this means that kids need to be able to:
Notice what’s happening
Understand their own reaction to it
Be able to communicate clearly what they experienced and feel
Trust an adult enough to tell them about it
Person of the Week - Don Wilder
20 Pearls of Wisdom: Witty Insights on the Toy & Game Industry
Ladies and gentlemen of People of Play, grab a comfy seat and a snack, because we are about to embark on a journey into the world of wit and wisdom. As the great wise sage once said, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink… unless you've got a really good toy!" Okay, I may have taken some creative liberties with that quote, but I promise you that the following 20 gems from industry leaders are as genuine as they are insightful.
"The toy industry is like a never-ending game of Monopoly; we're always trying to build hotels on the board." - Brian Goldner, Hasbro CEO
"Designing toys is like creating a new universe where the rules are entirely up to us." - Ruth Handler, co-founder of Mattel
"The greatest toy makers are like magicians, turning everyday objects into sources of wonder." - Toru Iwatani, creator of Pac-Man
If adults could remember the joy of playing with toys, the world would be a much happier place." - Charles Lazarus, founder of Toys "R" Us
"In the toy industry, it's all fun and games until someone loses an eye… or market share." - Martin Tremblay, former President of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Cartoon Lovers, Lexophiles & People in Need of a Smile!
Thank you to the anonymous person who sent this cartoon!
I like to play chess with old men in the park, although it’s hard to find 32 of them.
— Emo Philips Thank you, Jerry Cleary, for sharing!
Quote of the Week...
"It's through play that we find our own identity and voice." - Tim Walsh, Designer, YouTuber At SeizethePlay
Financial and Legal
Bob Iger rebuilt Disney. Fighting DeSantis could define his legacy. Corporate America is closely watching to see whether one of the country’s most powerful companies can face down a threat to its self-governance and free speech. Bob Iger has twice considered running for president. The longtime Walt Disney Co. chief executive conferred with political strategists and pollsters, studied up on key issues, reviewed famous speeches and consulted his family, according to his memoir and news reports.
Shopify is cutting jobs for the second time in 10 months and selling the majority of its logistics business to Flexport to focus on its core e-commerce platform business. The moves mean the company will shrink by more than 2,000 people. “I don’t want to bury the lede: after today Shopify will be smaller by about 20% and Flexport will buy Shopify Logistics; this means some of you will leave Shopify today,” ...
***The above posted after April 28th***
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...
A CURIOUS EN-TANGLE-MENT: TANGLE CREATIONS FACES OFF AGAINST FASHION RETAILER ARITZIA OVER FAMILIAR SCULPTURES. For more than 40 years, Tangle Creations has been perfecting the art of what just might be “the original fidget toy.” Created by Tanglemaster Richard X Zawitz, Tangle is art, it’s a toy, and it’s a brand that is familiar to millions.
US economic growth slows as firms cut investment. The US economy slowed in the first three months of the year, as businesses reduced investments in the face of higher borrowing costs. The economy grew 1.1% on an annualized basis, the Commerce Department said. That was down from a rate of 2.6% in the prior quarter, despite strong consumer spending.
California court sides with Apple against Epic Games' antitrust appeal. The US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has sided with Apple in its continuing legal battle with Epic Games. An appeal made by the Fortnite developer alleging the tech giant had engaged in antitrust practices via its App Store has been mostly dismissed. Back in 2021, a judge had ruled that Apple would have to loosen some of its restrictions regarding...
Cosmic Lounge nets €4 million to use AI tech to create mobile puzzle games. A group of former King, Seriously, and Next Games developers have joined forces to establish new studio Cosmic Lounge. Based in Helsinki and Stocklholm, Cosmic Lounge was quietly formed in 2022 after Seriously was shut down by parent company Playtika.
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Jakks reported an 11% decline in net sales to $107.5 million while its margins and profit increased slightly. Action play and collectibles business spiked 19% driven by strong sales for products tied to The Super Mario Bros. Movie to partially offset a 23% drop in sales for dolls and role-play products.
Amazon reports first quarter earnings, as online sales stall. Q1 profits reported at $3.17b, which was higher than the $2.24b which analysts had anticipated. Revenue was $127.4b, which represents +9% growth compared to the $116.4b revenue during the same period in 2022
IDW Media Holdings is cutting 39% of its workforce, voluntarily delisting from the NYSE American, and replacing its CEO with the largest shareholder's son. The move comes after years of losses, including a $2 million loss in the company's fiscal Q1 ended January 31
The Super Mario Bros. Movie has jumped past $1 billion at the global box office and has become the 10th animated film to achieve that impressive milestone... it's also the 10th biggest animated film of all time as it has now passed Despicable Me 2 and Minions: The Rise of Gru.
***The above posted after tBR started running April 28th***
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. Net sales in North America fell 27% while global gross billings declined across all categories but one: Vehicles. The co. remains confident in its multiyear growth strategy and has doubled down on its guidance for 2023.
The challenging first quarter hit Hasbro with a 14% revenue decline to $1 billion. Despite the slip, the company doubled down on its guidance for the year and believes that a stronger back half looms on the horizon. Hasbro’s direct-to-consumer business, Hasbro Pulse, spiked 21% while consumer products licensing and total gaming each grew by 2%, respectively.
Facebook owner Meta’s profits exceed expectations. Meta has reported a profit of $5.7bn (£4.6bn) for the first qrt, surpassing expectations for a period in which many jobs were cut. It said artificial intelligence was "driving good results" across its business.
Activision Blizzard has released its financial results for 2023's first quarter. Revenue hit $2.38 billion, up 35 percent from the previous year's $1.77 billion.
Trends, Market Research, and State of the Industry
***The above posted after tBR started running on April 28th***
Stories, Comments, and Advice
‘The Godfather of A.I.’ Leaves Google and Warns of Danger Ahead. For half a century, Geoffrey Hinton nurtured the technology at the heart of chatbots like ChatGPT. Now he worries it will cause serious harm. n 2012, Dr. Hinton and two of his graduate students at the University of Toronto created technology that became the intellectual foundation for the A.I. systems that the tech industry’s biggest companys believe is a key to...
Tiny dolls appeared in mailbox with a note: ‘We’ve decided to live here’. Nearly a year later, the dolls are still there, now with items including furnishings and a service dog, all mysteriously appearing under the cover of night. Don Powell was sliding the usual assortment of envelopes from the mailbox outside of his home when he noticed something out of the ordinary: A tiny doll couple was sitting on a love seat inside the mailbox.
May the 4th be with you: How today came to be 'Star Wars Day'. The unofficial holiday originated from a catchphrase from George Lucas' first film of the space franchise, "Star Wars: A New Hope," which was released in 1977. In the film, General Dodonna utters the phrase to the rebel alliance as they prepare for their assault on the Death Star. "Then man your ships! And may the Force be with you!" Here’s what to know...
A month after internal, sensitive data from Samsung was accidentally leaked to ChatGPT, Samsung is cracking down on usage of the generative AI service. The electronics giant is planning a temporary block of the use of generative AI tools on company-owned devices, covering computers, tablets and phones, as well as non-company-owned devices running on internal networks. The ban would cover not just ChatGPT...
These popular board games are getting revamped for older adults. The maker of iconic board games like Scrabble and The Game of Life is retooling these classic games so that aging doesn’t get in the way of older adults continuing to enjoy them. Hasbro (HAS), in partnership with Ageless Innovation (a licensee of Hasbro (HAS) brands), on Thursday unveiled new versions of Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit and The Game of Life.
John Baulch, Toy World - Don’t believe the gripes …it’s the Friday Blog! Over in the US, it is the start of another ‘earnings season’, with Q1 results starting to be unveiled this week. Before anyone gets too carried away by the inevitable knee-jerk ‘trouble in toytown’ headlines, I think it’s important to offer some sort of perspective – basically, don’t believe the gripes. First and foremost, no-one in the toy community wins or loses the year in Q1...
***The above posted just after tBR started sending***
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.
Rare Pikachu card from Pokémon TCG’s first-ever 1997 tournament fetches $300,000 at auction. A rare Pokémon card, one of just four given to runners-up in the TCG’s first-ever tournament, has sold for $300,000. The Bronze Pikachu No. 3 Trainer Trophy card was awarded to the four players who placed third in the First Official Pocket Monsters Tournament, held in June 1997 in Chiba, Japan.
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.
Barnstormer from MARX. Released in 1975 by marx games, barnstormer players must combine their physical reflexes with intuitive guesswork. players compete to build a flight tower one block at a time in the unpredictable flight path of a circling biplane. the tower is constructed using a set of eight colored disks and a wind-up biplane randomly dives and climbs around the 18-inch square...
Flip and Fold Fashions from TOMY. In 1981, TOMY released Flip and Fold Fashions, a toy that let children play fashion designer by mixing and matching fabrics and accessories to coordinate a custom outfit for their model. The toy comprised a plastic baseplate and frame that were affixed at the top with a hinge. The baseplate held the form of a model while the top frame featured a cut-out of the model. .
Licensing and Entertainment
PAW Patrol already has legs in video games and mobile apps, but now the Spin Master preschool franchise is jumping into a new type of interactive experience where kids control the gameplay and fun with their bodies. Brand partner Paramount Global has inked a deal with NY-based live entertainment co. Immersive Gamebox to develop a new PAW Patrol experience that has all the trappings of a VR game, but...
Toon2Tango will lead Niko the reindeer into TV. Toon2Tango has acquired the rights to adapt a Finnish kids feature film franchise about a young flying reindeer into an animated series for six - 10s. The Niko IP is popular in Germany, where two films have already been released, collectively grossing more than US$40 mill worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo. Animaker is currently co-producing a 2024 holiday feature...
Lego launches new homegrown IP, Lego Dreamzzz, inspired by the way kids dream. The Lego Group has today revealed Lego Dreamzzz, an all-new theme that brings to life the creativity of children’s dreams through a new content series and product range. The 10 episode content series launches from the 15th of May on YouTube, Amazon Prime, Sky, Netflix and ITVX in the UK and follows the adventures...
Toonz and Gold Valley ink a six-pic deal. In the lead up to Cannes Film Festival, the two studios have struck a deal to co-finance and co-produce six films, including new CG-animated feature Pierre the Pigeon-Hawk. Also in the mix is a family-friendly feature in post-production called Little Emma, about a miniature human girl who is raised by animals and yearns to discover her origins.
10 Minutes With … MGA Entertainment on the Rise of LOL Surprise! in Toy Licensing. License Global speaks to Mindy Puente-Escalera, senior vice president, global licensing, MGA Entertainment about LOL Surprise! Rainbow High, Little Tikes and Bratz and how the IPs must develop to keep up with consumer trends.
BBC picks up two slapstick comedies from HARI. The Beeb is stocking up on humor-driven, non-dialogue content to appeal to British families, this time scoring a fan-favorite disgruntled bear vehicle and a new toon about a weasel parenting a pair of ducks. Since launching in 2016, Grizzy has built up a strong viewership on both streaming platforms and linear channels. Last year alone, it landed among Netflix’s top-10 shows...
***The above posted after April 28th***
B.Duck Sets Sail for the US Market. The iconic, globally recognized brand “B.Duck” and B.Duck Family Character has joined forces with Stephanie Kupperman at Licensing 360 to bring “B.Duck” to the U.S. licensing market. For the first time, “B.Duck,” “Buffy”, “B.Duck Baby” and more are available for U.S. consumer product partnerships and collaborations.
Welcome to this week’s edition of The Toy Book‘s Media Mashup, a roundup of all the latest in toyetic entertainment content that should drive sales in the toy department. Hasbro’s Transformers are roaring back into action with a ’90’s-fueled trailer for Transformers: Rise of the Beasts; Disney served up a first look at Wish; 10:10 Games dropped a look at Funko Fusion; and DC’s The Flash lit up CinemaCon.
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.
WildBrain CPLG has secured a wide-ranging partnership with renowned athletic and lifestyle brand Champion for a collaboration with Taito’s iconic Space Invaders brand. WildBrain CPLG has also inked further deals for Space Invaders in key markets, including the US, Canada, Spain, Portugal and Andorra, in what is the arcade gaming IP’s 45th anniversary year.
Out now, Bluey: Dance Mode! is the exciting follow up to the award-winning, chart-topping Bluey: The Album. Bluey: Dance Mode! brings together 17 brand-new recordings from all three seasons of the hit show with songs originally composed by Joff Bush. To date, Bluey’s music has been streamed more than 200 million times and the title track, Dance Mode, has become a global hit.
30th anniversary 'Jurassic Park’ content, products and events announced. From new broadcast and digital content to exclusive products, events, home entertainment releases and more, fans can celebrate the film during #JurassicJune and beyond. Universal and Amblin Entertainment are honoring 30 years of “Jurassic Park.”
Mattel unveils full Disney The Little Mermaid collection. Mattel released a new collection of dolls inspired by the upcoming Disney film, The Little Mermaid, set to hit theaters on May 26. Mattel’s Disney The Little Mermaid collection includes fashion dolls, figures, doll sets, playsets, and more, plus the recently released Disney The Little Mermaid Ariel Doll.
Lego reveals new Little Mermaid sets. The portable Lego Little Mermaid Story Book set is suitable for fans aged five years and above and features two underwater environments inspired by the film which can all fold up into a neat book. There is an Ariel Mini doll in her hideout, along with Sebastian and Flounder and a collection of Ariel’s land treasures. On the other side of the book, there is an Ursula Mini doll...
JAKKS Pacific reveals new line of toys inspired by Disney’s ‘The Little Mermaid’. JAKKS Pacific is proud to unveil its latest line of doll, role play, and dress up toys, just in time for the release of Disney’s The Little Mermaid on the big screen nationwide on May 26, 2023. Go on an underwater adventure with JAKKS Pacific’s Little Mermaid Under the Sea Exploring Ariel Doll to discover hidden treasures!
Bandai Namco releasing Harry Potter Tamagotchis. Bandai Namco is no stranger to Tamagotchi licensing deals, with recent releases of the virtual pet featuring Jurassic Park dinosaurs, Grogu from Star Wars, and the toy characters from Toy Story. This trend continues as Bandai has officially revealed the upcoming Harry Potter Tamagotchi Nanos, which will include magical creatures from the brand’s universe.
Apple TV+ greenlights new BE@RBRICK animated series. Apple TV+ is expanding its animated offerings with a series inspired by the collectible BE@RBRICK figures from Medicom Toy. The CG series will be animated by DreamWorks Animation and Dentsu Inc. and feature 13 episodes. It centers around the character Jasmine, a singer-songwriter who aims to follow her dreams along with her bandmates.
Sony Pictures Television – Kids unveils ‘The Creature Cases’ chapter 3 and new product lines. Sony Pictures Television – Kids, (formerly Silvergate Media) has announced a third chapter of animated children’s series, “The Creature Cases,” along with consumer products programs in key markets, led by toys and publishing. “The licensing program for ‘The Creature Cases’ will be spearheaded by the launch of toys,” Ron Allen...
Razer, ‘Roblox’ announce collaboration. Razer has announced a collaboration with “Roblox” on a high-tech hardware line, inviting people to experience “Roblox” in a more captivating way as they connect with their friends in digital worlds. The Razer x “Roblox” collection includes three of Razer’s award-winning peripherals: The Razer Orochi V2, a lightweight, wireless mouse with a small form-factor.
WWE and Fanatics expand partnership to include global event merch. WWE and Fanatics are expanding their partnership to cover WWE’s entire global event merchandise business. Fanatics’ e-commerce, licensed merchandise, and physical retail operations team will manage event retail experiences for more than 300 events WWE hosts every year.
‘Funko Fusion’ teaser trailer released. Funko has unveiled a teaser trailer for “Funko Fusion,” a multiplayer game that features NBCUniversal characters in Funko Pop! form. Characters from IPs such as “Jurassic World,” “Back to the Future,” “The Umbrella Academy,” “Masters of the Universe,” “The Thing,” “Child’s Play 2” and other blockbusters come to life in the “Funko Fusion” world, which is being built...
‘World of Warships’ announces Popeye collaboration. Wargaming, the publisher and developer of the naval multiplayer video game, “World of Warships,” has announced an official partnership with Popeye the Sailor Man in a special collaboration recognizing World Ocean Month. This collaboration will take place in tandem with a charity partnership, to be announced ahead of the content becoming available to purchase.
‘Angry Birds’ take a ride with Mercedes-Benz. Rovio Entertainment’s “Angry Birds” will be featured on the entertainment systems of the recently unveiled new Mercedes-Benz E-Class. The deal will allow passengers to play the classic “Angry Birds” slingshot game on the sprawling touchscreen that extends across the dashboard of the new sedan.
‘Come Dine With Me’ enters the metaverse. ITV Studios label, MultiStory Media, and metaverse creative agency, Metavision, have partnered up to launch Channel 4’s “Come Dine With Me” into the metaverse, with players now able to go head-to-head to become the dinner party host in a newly released Minecraft world. The experience has been inspired by the international hit show, distributed by ITV Studios...
Bababoo and friends launches their award-winning European toy line at Barnes and Noble stores in the U.S. Developed together by Eliana Martinez Tomalino and Stefano Orowitsch, Bababoo and friends made its US debut back in 2022 in specialty stores and online at Bababooandfriends.com, bringing their creative, high-quality wooden toy brand to a new audience.
CMON's 'Masters of the Universe' board game heads to retail. Asmodee will release Masters of the Universe: The Board Game - Clash for Eternia into retail on May 5, 2023. CMON was awarded the license to MOTU in 2020 (see "CMON Travels to Eternia"), and later ran a Kickstarter to fund this game. The Kickstarter raised $2,046,517 from 8,166 backers (about $251 per backer).
People of Play
Can you solve it? Chicken or egg. Brain games from a master puzzler. Today’s column is a tribute to Ivan Moscovich, a legend in the world of puzzles, who died last week aged 96. Ivan was a prolific inventor of toys and games, a pioneer of interactive science museums and a bestselling author of puzzle books. The following questions are taken from his magnum opus, The Big Book of Brain Games, which sold around half a million copies.
Sesame Workshop has promoted Whit Higgins to EVP and head of global enterprises. Higgins joined the nonprofit company in 2019 as VP of international media distribution and business development, and was promoted two years later to SVP of international media, education and global distribution. He has been overseeing key partnerships and new content development in Europe, Japan, China, Latin America and Asia...
Ding Liren has become China's first men's world chess champion, after defeating Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi. Ding, 30, won a rapid-play tiebreaker after 14 first-stage games at the World Chess Championship in Kazakhstan. He succeeds Norway's Magnus Carlsen, the five-time champion who said he was "not motivated" to defend his title.
11-Year-Old Inventor Creates Innovative Card Game to Revolutionize Geography Learning. MapGoMap is an innovative and engaging card game, invented by an 11-year-old named Jimmy, designed to help players of all ages effortlessly learn US geography. By turning memorization into a fun and interactive experience, MapGoMap encourages spatial reasoning and helps players easily remember state names and locations.
***The above was posted after April 28th***
Hunt A Killer takes on new VP of marketing, launches two games. Hunt A Killer named Kristen Koe as VP of Marketing as it launches two new games for preorder. Koe previously worked as VP of Marketing for North America Goliath Toys and Games and has also worked at TAG, Transformco, Digitas, Target, Sears, and Sports Authority. The two games being released: R.I.P. at the Rodeo and Homicide at the Heist are self-contained murder mystery games where players work together to solve murders with fun themes.
Canal Toys appoints Neil Bandtock as executive director. Canal Toys has announced highly-experienced toy industry veteran Neil Bandtock as executive director for the UK and Ireland. Headquartered in France, and with offices in the UK, US, Spain and Germany, Canal has just celebrated four years of consecutive growth since its initial launch into the UK and Ireland in 2018.
Aldo Ghiozzi elected to fill open GAMA Wholesale Director's seat. GAMA's Wholesale Voting Membership Group elected Aldo Ghiozzi to fill an open GAMA Wholesale Director seat in a special election. This seat was opened up when Sito Sanchez of Peachstate Hobby Distribution resigned his position at the March board meeting. Ghiozzi is the founder of Impressions Game Distribution Services...
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...
Companies and Brands
Barbie unveils Anna May Wong doll for AAPI Heritage Month. Six months after she was immortalized with a U.S. quarter, Asian American Hollywood trailblazer Anna May Wong has received another accolade affirming her icon status — her own Barbie. Mattel announced Monday the release of an Anna May Wong doll for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
Bandai is entering the collectibles arena in autumn/winter 2023 with the launch of its new IP, Pinky Promise. Pinky promiseCombining innovation with fresh new product themes, Bandai‘s new collectible Pinky Promise range will offer products at a range of price points, which also double up as wearable jewellery for children aged 4-6 years.
***The above posted after tBR started running April 28th***
As part of the 2023 Fashionistas doll line, Mattel is releasing the first Barbie in history with Down syndrome. The Barbie team worked closely with the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) to ensure the authenticity of this trailblazing doll’s design before it hit shelves. From the sculpt of the doll’s face and body to the features of her wardrobe, this new fashionista was meticulously designed to represent and inspire girls...
Spin Master’s Tech Deck sponsors skateboard championships. Tech Deck offers a range of fingerboards, ramps and playsets that provides sketeboarding fans with a unique outlet to practice their skills. Fingerboarding brand Tech Deck was one of the official sponsors of the 2023 Skateboard GB National Park Championships held at XC Park in Hemel Hempstead.
Crazy Aaron’s is celebrating its 25th anniversary by offering fans the chance to contribute artwork, photographs, mementos, and other items to a time capsule. From now through May 10, fans can mail or drop off their contributions to be stowed away alongside Crazy Aaron’s very own keepsakes.
Posh Paws partners with Play by Play on anime and manga licensed plush. Posh Paws has partnered with Play by Play to bring anime and manga licensed plush to the UK later this year. The new anime range will include fan favourites such as Demon Slayer, One Punch Man, Jujutsu Kaisen and Dragon Ball Super, to meet the growing demand for the Japanese inspired product that consumers are increasingly looking for...
Sea turtles, unicorns join Cepia’s Pop Art Soft herd. Make way for some new animals to join the elephant herd. Cepia, creator of the Pop Art Soft brand, is expanding its collection of elephant plushies to include sea turtles and unicorns. In addition to the new creatures, the release will also include colorful new elephant designs. Following a test launch at Learning Express last year, Pop Art Soft elephant plushies...
WonderFold, the original luxury stroller wagon brand, is thrilled to announce the launch of their first-ever rolling event, WagonThon! As the original luxury stroller wagon brand, Wonderfold is dedicated to inspiring families to get out and explore the world with ease and peace of mind. WagonThon registration is a seamless opportunity to bring our community together for a shared cause, with all proceeds...
Funrise launches Crushie Fluffies with Social media influencer, Gabi Faye, who boasts 11.5m followers on TikTok, will support the launch of new collectible unboxing line, Crushie Fluffies. Crushie Fluffies is a one-of-a-kind plush toy that combines everything kids love about soft and cuddly toys, with a unique and interactive sensory-driven element, packaged in unique Ice lolly concept.
Hamleys welcomes King Charles to Regent Street store. On the 26th of April, Hamleys exclusively welcomed the world’s only full-size Lego statue of King Charles III to its Regent Street store. The statue, made entirely of Lego bricks, will be displayed in the Grand Entrance of the central London shop as the country prepares to celebrate the Coronation of King Charles III.
Toys ‘R’ Us continues revival with Mexico launch. Toys ‘R’ Us parent company WHP Global has entered a partnership with omnichannel retailer El Puerto de Liverpool to launch the toy brand in Mexico for the first time. Initial plans include a combination of multiple flagship stores and a dedicated ecommerce site to fuel the iconic toy retailer’s global expansion.
A new phase of growth is underway for Alex Toys. The emerging retailer that launched with three Alex Baby & Toy locations on the East Coast last year has officially opened its new store concept in the suburbs of Chicago. Alex Toys has a familiar name and ties to a deep lineage within the toy industry. Created by the teams from Toys “R” Us Canada, FYE, and Everest Toys, Alex Toys takes its name...
Guess Friends' secret alignments in 'Kiss The Goblin'. Skybound Tabletop will release Kiss the Goblin, a new party game, into retail in July 21, 2023. In this game, players will react to an outrageous situation in an attempt to reveal their character alignment to the rest of the party. Players can have an alignment that is Chaotic Good, Lawful Evil, or other, and their comrades are tasked with guessing which one...
Yu-Gi-Oh! Legendary Collection: 25th Anniversary Edition now available. The very first Legendary Collection is one of the most popular collector’s sets for the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game, and it has made a return to celebrate the silver anniversary of the card game. The new set also introduces a new rarity to the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG.
Games Workshop announces new 'Warhammer 40,000: Combat Patrol'. Games Workshop announced World Eaters, a new Warhammer 40,000: Combat Patrol, which will be up for preorder on April 29, 2023. The World Eaters are raging and ready for battle in this new Combat Patrol offering. The new boxed set is led into battle by a World Eaters Lord on a Juggernaut who can also be built as Lord Invocatus.
Hello Kitty is getting a new board game from the folks behind the Binding of Isaac card game. Pop-culture icon and cartoon cat (maybe) Hello Kitty is headed to the tabletop in a new board game. The Japanese character created by designer Yuko Shimizu will be the star of Hello Kitty: Day at the Park, a board game designed by Roberta Taylor.
Gaming: Digital, Video, Hardware, and Development
Dead Island 2 slays its way to 1 million copies in one weekend. Dead Island 2 has only been out for three days, and has already hit 1 million copies. Developer Dambuster Studios confirmed the news, saying its first-person zombie game had a "mind-blowing launch" after its April 21 release. That's pretty good on its own, but even more impressive considering how long Dead Island 2 has been in development.
Microsoft praises Xbox Game Pass as quarterly subscription revenue nears $1 billion. Xbox Game Pass appears to be the main growth driver within Microsoft's video game business. According to the company's fiscal report for the third quarter ended March 31, 2023, gaming revenue declined by 4 percent year-on-year, with Xbox hardware revenue also falling by 30 percent over that same period.
Highlighted Press Releases
MAKE TODAY FÖMAZING BY UNLEASHING SUDSY, SOAPY, SPLASHY FUN WITH FÖM MANIA! Kids (And Kidults) Can Make Piles of Foam Anywhere From The Backyard Or Park To College Quad With The Fantastic Fömalanche® or Sling Fast-Flinging Foam with the Quickshot Foam Blaster For Sudsy Silliness. Seekonk, MA (May 3, 2023) – When you send the kids outdoors, remember these three words: fill, föm and play! That’s because Föm Mania™, the one and only portable line of foam battle play toys and foam machines, will take fun to a whole new level with the release of the new Föm Mania™ Quickshot Foam Blaster™ ($12.99). If you haven’t already, look for the fan-favorite from last summer, the award-winning Föm Mania™ Fömalanche™ ($49.99).
***the above posted after April 28th***
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!
Safety and Counterfeiting
Fishing rod toys recalled due to lead. Over 80,000 fishing rod toys sold across the United States and Canada are being recalled because they contain an amount of lead that exceeds federal limits. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the rods were sold as part of the Kid Casters No Tangle Combo, which includes a rod and reel combo, plastic casting plug, bobber and snap swivel. They are being recalled because the rods contain levels of lead exceeding the federal lead content ban.
Associations, Shows, Awards, Events, and Festivals
GAMA reported record attendance at the recently completed GAMA Expo, up over 20% from 2019, the last year unaffected by the Covid pandemic. Attendance for the 2023 show was 2,041, compared to 1,680 in 2019. Attendance was up 50% over the 1,360 attendees last year. Retailer attendance is growing, but has not returned to pre-Covid levels. GAMA reported that 356 stores were represented at GAMA Expo...
***The above posted after April 28th***
The National Toy Hall of Fame’s home is getting a 90,000-square-foot upgrade. The Strong National Museum of Play – home of the National Toy Hall of Fame and the World Video Game Hall of Fame – has officially announced the grand opening of its latest expansion. Set to open June 30, the Rochester, N.Y.-based museum’s 90,000-square-foot expansion features more than 24,000 square feet of exhibit space...
Licensing International Excellence Awards finalists revealed. Licensing International has announced the full list of finalists for the prestigious Excellence Awards, dedicated to recognizing outstanding achievements and innovation in the global brand licensing industry. This year’s Excellence Awards features 201 finalists in 30 categories.
Fashion is the theme of this year’s Licensing Expo, and event organizers have tapped a heavy hitter to kick off the action. Informa Markets Global Licensing Group tapped fashion and footwear designer Sam Edelman to keynote the event in June. Edelman will be joined by Robert D’Loren, CEO and Chairman of Xcel Brands, to discuss how their brand built its fashion empire and expanded through licensing...
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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Matt Leacock created Pandemic... the game!
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