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April 22 - May 6, 2022

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Welcome to Your Weekly News Brief!

Thank You to Our Generous DISTOY Sponsors! 

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Happy Bloomin’ Friday!

Hope to see many of you at DISTOY in London in a week. Eleanor Black (FUSE), Hannah Palfrey (FUSE), Casey Norman (Genie Toys)  and I have planned a Pub Party bigger than ever to celebrate being in-person again! In addition to fun and camaraderie, we'll be serving complimentary nibbles and libations from our generous sponsors! Join us!  REGISTER HERE!

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

Mary

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

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Person of the Week - Andrew Perlmutter

Journey from Glencoe to Funko with Crazy Ideas that turned out Golden

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Hi Andrew! Thank you for taking time for this interview. We know there is a lot going on at Funko. What are your roles and responsibilities at Funko? 

Chief Executive Officer - which includes the oversight of the Funko business globally. 

 

What is your claim to fame in the industry?

My claim to fame is pushing Funko to release a four pack of golden girls action figures during New York Comic Con in 2017. People thought it was a crazy idea but I pushed it through and it was a big success.

What has been your biggest achievement? 

My biggest achievement far and away is my family. I have a wife and four children , I could not think of a bigger achievement than that.

Why and how did you get into the Toy and Game industry? 

I am third generation toy business, my grandfather and both my mother and father were in the toy business. Growing up around this business I grew to really like the relationships that I saw my parents form with others in the industry. This industry has always felt like home to me.      

Read More. . .

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Brand of the Week - Happy 25th Anniversary GigaPets!

Story by Steve Rehkemper

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For whatever reason, the notion of having and keeping a pet has always been part of human nature.  Playing with and caring for a pet is an intrinsic value, part of being a good person and it’s no big surprise that we have instilled this value in children’s toys throughout history.  Whether toy puppies or other domesticated animals, toy pets made by toy companies usually attempt to be as real as possible- by emulating the sounds, motions or feel of real pets.  Over the years, the quality of the appearance and audio animatronics of toy pets have become quite good and Rehco, our toy invention company, certainly created our fair share of these including Daisy the Play-With-Me-Kitty and JJ the Jumping Pug among others in the FurReal Friends line!  As children play with toy pets, whether realistic or whimsical, their imaginations flourish and the concept of caring for and about something is instilled into their learning foundation. 

 

As toy inventors, we are on a continuous mission to find and create new ways to play with toy pets by providing an interactive experience that is as close as possible to having a real pet.  In turn, we’re hopefully helping children understand the value of caring for something.   When we first envisioned the idea of a virtual pet in the 1990s it was with the intent of tapping into this very concept of taking a child’s play pattern to the next level. With the invention of V-Pets (virtual pets) by Rehco in 1995, later marketed by Tiger, taking good care of a toy pet quickly became a super popular play pattern and ultimately resulted in an emotional connection to virtual pets that was similar to a real pet.  

Read More . . . 

Financial and Legal

In an all-stock deal struck designed for the current high-inflation economic environment facing streaming consumers, Crackle parent Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment is acquiring Redbox. The value of the deal is about $375 million, most of which is the assumption of Redbox debt. Founded in the heyday of DVDs 2 decades ago, Redbox is best known for its network of 38,000 bright red, disk-dispensing kiosks...

 

Screen Australia Invests US$3.8 Million In Three Kids Projects. The government org is putting an emphasis on investment and development, hiring two new managers and announcing funding support for an animated feature and two series renewals. On the kids and family front, feature film 200% Wolf will receive some additional support, as will new seasons of animated series Little K & Big Cuz and live-action dramedy The PM’s...

 

Boston Partners and Anchor Capital are among long-term shareholders urging toy maker Hasbro to refresh its board with at least one investor-nominated director and to settle a proxy contest with activist investment firm Alta Fox. Boston Partners, which owns a 2.26% stake in Hasbro and invests $96 billion for clients, told Reuters on Tuesday the board needs new directors and it is backing the activist's three...

 

SHOPIFY ACQUIRES LOGISTICS COMPANY. Shopify has reached an agreement to acquire fulfillment technology provider Deliverr for $2.1 billion, the companies announced. Deliverr’s logistics network currently delivers over one million orders per month for thousands of U.S. merchants.  Deliverr will be integrated into the Shopify Fulfillment Network along with warehouse and fulfillment software and robotics co. 6 River Systems...

 

Spin Master announced that the nominees listed in its management information circular were elected as directors of the co. at its Annual and Special Meeting of Shareholders. Following the results of the election two new independent Board members: Michael Blank, the COO of Polygon Studios, and Brian H. Whipple, former CEO of Accenture Interactive, have joined as Directors. Todd Tappin did not stand for re-election...

 

***The above posted after the Bloom Report started sending on May 6th***

 

A group of new investors led by The Chernin Group and including eBay, former Disney CEO Robert Iger, and Rich Paul (United Talent Agency) will acquire 25% of outstanding Funko stock from current shareholder ACON Investments, LLC,   As part of the transaction, Funko has signed a deal with eBay for exclusive product releases, and making eBay the preferred secondary marketplace for Funko products.

 

Continuing its acquisition tear, Embracer Group has reached an agreement to acquire assets of Square Enix Holdings, bringing intellectual properties including Tomb Raider, Deus Ex, Thief, and Legacy of Kain to the owner of Asmodee Group and Dark Horse, the company announced.  The acquisition also includes development studios Crystal Dynamics, Eidos-Montreal, and Square Enix Montreal for a total price of $300 million.  

 

The global Gen-Z agency Fanbytes, which has helped a number of major toy brands go viral on social media, has announced that it has been acquired by Brainlabs, one of the largest digital marketing agencies in Europe, US, and APAC. Founded in 2012, Brainlabs has expanded to become a team of 800 people across the globe delivering work for brands including Formula 1, American Express and Mars.

 

A second activist investor has taken a stake in Hasbro, calling for changes at the toy maker, a week after rival Mattel  was rumored to be considering going private. On Tuesday, Ancora Holdings sent a public letter to Hasbro, in which it supported a call for new members of the company’s board of directors, one of the demands of fellow activist Alta Fox Capital. Ancora, which owns approximately 1% of Hasbro, also urged the company to consider a full or partial sale of its television division Entertainment One.

Wordle brought ‘tens of millions’ of new users to the New York Times. The New York Times Company’s first-quarter financial results prove what we’ve all known all along: people really like Wordle. You know the story by now. Josh Wardle made a fun little word game for his partner, shared it with some friends (who happened to be some influential tech people, since Wardle has worked at places like Reddit and MSCHF)...

US makes biggest interest rate rise in 22 years. The US central bank has announced its biggest interest rate increase in more than two decades as it toughens its fight against fast rising prices. The Federal Reserve said it was lifting its benchmark interest rate by half a percentage point, to a range of 0.75% to 1% after a smaller rise in March. With US inflation at a 40-year high, further hikes are expected. 

 

Warning UK economy to shrink as interest rates rise. The Bank of England has warned that the UK economy will shrink this year as it raises interest rates to try to stem the pace of rising prices. Rates rose to 1% from 0.75%, their highest level since 2009 and the fourth consecutive increase since December. Inflation, at its highest for 30 years, is set to breach 10% by the end of the year, with fuel, energy and food costs soaring...

 

New York City has filed its own lawsuit against Activision Blizzard. Activision Blizzard is being sued by New York City for allegedly rushing into Microsoft's $68.7 billion acquisition of the company. The lawsuit claims the deal was rushed in an effort to protect CEO Bobby Kotick and other board members from legal liability over their handling of sexual harassment and abuse allegations that surfaced last summer. 

 

Activision Blizzard accused of threatening staff to halt talk about wages and work conditions. The Communications Workers of America (CWA) has filed an unfair labor charge against Activision Blizzard, and alleges the publisher told employees they shouldn't discuss their working conditions in digital channels such as Slack. 

 

Activision Blizzard shareholders approve Microsoft acquisition offer. Activision Blizzard shareholders have (overwhelmingly) voted to approve Microsoft's $68.7 billion acquisition offer. The investors who control 98 percent of shares in the company collectively gave a thumbs-up to the proposed transaction, which now means it advances to the regulatory approval stage. 

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Financial Reporting

Toy industry e-commerce sales in China increased by 8.8% to $1.3 billion (USD) in the first quarter (Q1) of 2022 (January – March) versus the same time period last year, and 27% from Q1 2020, according to The NPD Group.

 

The Character Group has reported a £6.5m profit for the first half-year ending 28th February, and anticipates continued growth in the second half.

 

Disney+ added 7.9 million subscribers in the most recent quarter for a total of 138 million worldwide, the company announced Wednesday, helping it avoid the streaming slowdown that has lately tanked the stock price of Netflix.

 

Buying group Toymaster has reported a revenue of £48.8m for the year to 31st January 2022, up from £39.9m in 2021

 

Fox Shares Slide On Mixed Quarterly Results, Including $30M Write-Down On Scripted Programming

 

Playtika Holding Corp. (PLTK) on Tuesday reported first-quarter earnings of $83.2 million.

 

Nintendo sold almost 35 million Pokémon games in the last year

 

Zynga reports 2% revenue increase to $691 million for Q1 2022

 

***The above posted after April 6th***

 

Spin Master Reports 34.9% Spike in Q1 Toy Sales; Updates 2022 Guidance

 

Amazon forecast indicates first quarterly loss since 2015

AMC Networks Hits 9.5M Streaming Subs, U.S. Ad Revenue Rises Slightly in First Quarter


Trade organization the Game Manufacturers Association returned to profitability in 2021, after a six-figure loss in 2020

Rovio sees 26% increase in group revenues to €85m. Mobile firm sees another record rise in earnings driven by Angry Birds franchise.

 

 

Future Financial Reporting

Trends, Market Research, and State of the Industry

 

ToyWorld's Sam Giltrow talks to IMC Toys, MGA Entertainment, Zapf Creation, Mattel and The Desi Doll Company, to get a flavour of the latest developments for their Dolls & Collectibles ranges.

 

U.S. RETAIL IMPORTS HIT NEW MILESTONE

TCGPLAYER TOP 25 SEALED TCG PRODUCTS (WITH PRICE SHIFTS) - APRIL 2022

APRIL 2022 NPD BOOKSCAN - TOP 20 ADULT GRAPHIC NOVELS

APRIL 2022 NPD BOOKSCAN - TOP 20 KIDS GRAPHIC NOVELS

 

Consumers opting for cheaper toys as inflation soars, toymaker Spin Master says

***The above posted after the Bloom Report started sending on May 6th***

 

UK - Sam Giltrow talks to retailers - With Easter out of the way, the summer season is getting started, and indie retailers have to balance this busy time with planning for the rest of the year ahead. 

 

Three Spending Trends Having An Impact In 2022

THE INSIGHTS FAMILY: Kids demanding meaningful interactions with brands

TOP 50 COMICS - APRIL 2022

TOP 20 GRAPHIC NOVELS - APRIL 2022

RETAILERS: COVID MADE IT POSSIBLE TO INCREASE SALES WITH FEWER HOURS IN COMIC AND GAME STORES

Toyjobs has been the dominant recruiting

Stories, Comments, and Advice

 

Reshaping the landscape: Corporate travel in 2022 and beyond.  Business travel is making a slow, but steady, return. Corporate travel providers that evolve with the changes stand to capitalize on new growth opportunities. As health concerns and travel restrictions abate, corporate travel is making a steady, but slow, return; recovery to 2019 levels is still likely at least a couple of years away

 

New York Times Apologizes After Wordle of the Day Is 'Fetus'.  They've already replaced the puzzle answer for any refreshed browser, saying that the online game should stay ‘distinct from the news.’ Emotions are running high around the word “fetus” after last week’s news about the possible end to Roe V. Wade and women’s right to safe abortion. 

The key to maintaining profitability on Amazon. As more businesses shift trading to eCommerce marketplaces such as Amazon, understanding the cost is critical, writes Asha Bhalsod of Etopia Consultancy. With minimal terms and limited costs, initially, Amazon was probably the most profitable account for many toy companies. 

 

***The above posted after May 6th***

 

John Baulch, ToyWorld - If you build it, they will come …it’s the Friday Blog! It’s good that we have moved to the stage where face-to-face meetings are very much back on the agenda, and I’ve been delighted to be able to spend time out and about seeing a few clients and retailers this week. Last weekend I took a trip to Derby (not a phrase I use too often, to be fair) to catch up with Dave Middleton on the opening day of his new Derby store.

Rick Derr – Letter from America. In this month’s column, he considers the relationship between suppliers and indie retailers and suggests how it can be improved to both parties’ benefit. “Although partnerships have come a long way since I started in the business 26 yrs ago, there is still room for improvement and opportunity,” writes Rick. “Come on suppliers! Why not treat us as your in-person sales force that can test new...

Steve Reece - THE BIGGEST TOY INDUSTRY OPPORTUNITIES: PART 1, THE KIDULT MARKET.,,, we move on from the dark clouds of risks and threats to look at a series of major opportunities for the toy business. The first Instalment takes a look at the opportunity of developing and selling toys specifically for ‘Kidults’ i.e. those adults who still hanker over and appreciate ‘childish’ things such as Toys!

 

How You Communicate With Customers Matters. According to the Harvard Business Review, the #1 determining factor of loyalty is reducing customer effort. When we communicate with customers, we reduce their effort because they don’t have to seek out answers themselves. Lately I’ve noticed that many companies are getting lazy with their communications or, sometimes, avoiding communicating altogether.

 

Designer Thom Browne holds a 'Teddy Talk' in playful toy-themed show. The 500 audience members were sitting in neat rows, and they'ddefinitely gotten the memo on attire: All were perfectly dressed in a classic gray Thom Browne suit.  They were very quiet, too, perhaps because they knew Browne’s show April 29 was a special occasion, held in New York rather than Paris where he usually stages shows, to coincide with Monday's Met Gala. But also probably because they were stuffed animals.

 

Seventh Graders Help Design Therapeutic Toys for Children.  Creativity is the name of the game in Austin Perry's Design and Modeling class, an enrichment course that is part of Project Lead the Way. Recently, seventh graders at Briarcliff Middle School ended their third quarter with a toy expo, displaying therapeutic toys they have created specifically for children with cerebral palsy in mind.

Wealthy Russians flee to Dubai to avoid sanctions. Dubai has emerged as a haven for wealthy Russians fleeing the impact of western sanctions over the war in Ukraine. Russian billionaires and entrepreneurs have been arriving in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in unprecedented numbers, business leaders told the BBC. Many multinational companies and Russian start-ups are also relocating their employees to the UAE. 

Intel CEO expects chip shortage to last into 2024. Intel boss Pat Gelsinger has said that he expects the ongoing semiconductor shortage to last until 2024. As reported by CNBC, Gelsinger cited the "constrained availability of key manufacturing tools," which serves as an obstacle to meeting elevated demand. "That's part of the reason we believe the overall semiconductor shortage will drift into 2024, from our earlier estimates...

 

How Josh Luber and Fanatics are making trading cards cool again. As a 10 year old kid, Josh Luber loved nothing more than trading cards and sneakers. Decades later, Josh has made a career out of these passions, first as the founder of StockX and now as chief vision officer at the recently launched Fanatics Collectibles. I sat down with Josh to learn more about the massive impact that Fanatics has already made in trading cards...

 

Mattel and Hasbro change their games. As Mattel and Hasbro released their Q1 2022 earnings, it became clear the toymakers are changing their games. With Mattel having recently landed Disney Princess and Trolls licenses that Hasbro previously held, the company is focusing on both its own franchises (Barbie, Hot Wheels) as well as upcoming tentpole films (Jurassic World: Domination, Lightyear). Hasbro, meanwhile, appears...

 

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History and Nostalgia

MASK Transforms Its Way Into Awesome 80s Toy Boom. LRM’s Retro-Specs. Welcome back to LRM’s Retro-Specs! There are a ton of toys out there. However biased I may be, the 80s toy boom is still untouchable. Sure, many may be trying to ride the coattails of another success story. Regardless, we get some of the best toys, cartoons, and comics to this day! Want a successful 80s toy? Make it transform. Transformers, GoBots, you name it. Another fun, transforming 80s classic comes to us in the form of Mobile Armored Strike Kommand. Better known as MASK!

This vintage toy store in Indianapolis takes you back in time with thousands of retro toys. At a new storefront tucked next to a Home Depot just north of Castleton, the childhoods of five generations are on sale — piled high on racks and tucked neatly in display cases. How much is tangible, playable nostalgia worth to the average grown-up pop culture fan or avid collector?

Alien Action Figure from Kenner (1979). After the unexpected success of Star Wars in 1977, every studio in Hollywood went nuts green-lighting projects that they hoped would give them some time in the science fiction spotlight. From Black Hole to Buck Rogers, it seemed as though everyone in the industry was looking to ride the massive wave of momentum that Star Wars had dropped on the world. 

Casper the Friendly Ghost Game from Milton Bradley. Released in 1959 by Milton Bradley, Casper the Friendly Ghost Game sent players on a journey down a spooky path and into a haunted house. The board game was based on the amiable child spectre created by Seymour Reit and Joe Oriolo in the late 1930s. Casper has appeared in animated shorts, comics, feature films, video games, and other forms of entertainment media.

 

The Bizarre History of Baseball Bats. In the 1860s, a wide variety of baseball bats were used in play. There were flat bats, round bats, short bats, and fat bats. Some weighed as much as 50 oz. and measured up to 42 in. long! (In contrast, today’s standards are 30 oz and 32–34 in. long.) Bats were also made from many different types of wood, but from the 1870s onward, ash was the most popular choice – until Barry Bonds picked up...

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Licensing 


Black-Owned Toymaker World of EPI Is Creating Toys for Disney & Marvel Shows.  Disney has tapped Dr. Lisa Williams's World of EPI to produce toys for The Proud Family revival and Marvel's Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. World of EPI is a toy manufacturer that has become known and beloved for its ethnically diverse toy lines The Fresh Dolls, The Fresh Squad, and Positively Perfect Dolls

 

Panini has announced the launch of the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 Official Sticker Collection. Dedicated to the women’s game and inspired by those who play it, this collection celebrates females in football and features all the teams competing in England this summer. Consisting of 366 stickers and 40 pages, this jam-packed collection features some of the most successful players in the women’s game. 

 

Spotlight Licensing has been appointed by Gaumont to launch and manage the global merchandise licensing program for Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles (which debuted on Netflix April 28th). 2022 may be the Year of the Tiger but it is also shaping up to be a big year for the rabbits of the highly anticipated Netflix animated kids series Samurai Rabbit: 

 

Wonderfold, the leader in stroller wagons for kids and families, is stepping back in time to introduce the VW4 Stroller Wagon, inspired by the vintage VW Bus. Designed to be both playful and functional, the wagon will hold up to four kids, come in original colors including Bondi Blue and Sage Green, and will include a bumper and functioning headlights.

 

Silvergate Media is joining forces with Tencent Video to bring its new animated series The Creature Cases to China. Silvergate will also partner with Tencent Video on a full consumer products roll-out in China from 2023, to be led by toys and publishing. The Creature Cases is an action, comedy and detective series animated by TeamTo that follows the adventures of a unique detective duo who specialize in solving ...

Moose Toys is poised to do so again with Magic Mixies Mixlings, a new collectible line based on global sales phenom Magic Mixies Magic Cauldron and The Legend of Akedo, an action-packed line of collectibles that represents the toymaker’s biggest boys’ brand launch to date. WildBrain CPLG, licensing agency for the two brands, will be hosting the toymaker at its booth during the Licensing Show in Las Vegas...

 

Vancouver’s Great Pacific Media (GPM) has entered into an exclusive multi-year strategic partnership with veteran unscripted content creator Sean Connolly’s newly launched Original Content Lab (OCL). The Toronto-based outfit is focused on developing unscripted kids and primetime series for the global market that will be produced by GPM, the factual division of Thunderbird Entertainment Group.

 

Hasbro and the LEGO Group inked a licensing deal for the LEGO Transformers Optimus Prime. Set to roll out next month, the set is expected to be a 1,508-piece build based upon Optimus Prime’s 1984 “G1” form — a box-style semi-truck cab that transforms into the famed Autobot leader.

 

PMI Ltd has announced it has signed a global toy, plush and stationery licensing agreement with Skydance Animation for Spellbound, Apple Original Films and Skydance Animation’s upcoming animated feature film, in a deal brokered by IMG. Directed by Vicky Jenson (Shrek) and written by Lauren Hynek and Elizabeth Martin (Mulan) and Linda Woolverton (The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast),

 

Hatsune Miku, the virtual pop-star performer, with help from the Carlin West Agency, adds new licensing and retail partners in the apparel, consumables, room décor, collectibles and footwear categories. These deals build on successful apparel and accessory programs by H3 Sportgear and Bioworld.

TCG Toys has announced that CoComelon and Miraculous Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir are the newest licensed properties to be featured on the company’s best-selling MegaMat line. The two additions join TCG Toys’ extensive portfolio of licensed playmats, including Barbie, Blues Clues & You, Paw Patrol, Hot Wheels, My Little Pony, Little Tikes, Tonka, Peppa Pig, PJ Masks, Thomas & Friends, Fisher Price and...

 

K.I.T.T., the legendary wonder car from the 80s hit series Knight Rider, joins the Playmobil Cars range! A sleek black sports car speeds towards the camera, the iconic theme tune plays and the voiceover begins: “Knight Rider, a shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man who does not exist. Michael Knight, a young loner on a crusade to champion the cause of the innocent, the helpless, the powerless, in a world...

WEBTOON Taps Surge To Rep Its Online Comics In L&M. The licensing agency that built Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will develop consumer products programs for select original IPs from the digital comic publisher’s titles. WEBTOON currently hosts upwards of 1.5 million comic series on its online platform, which has a global monthly user base of more than 82 million active readers, 15 million of which are based in the US...

 

Bulldog Licensing has announced two new deals for Topps Match Attax. Billionaire Board Games has introduced a co-branded Match Attax edition of Football Billionaire to its portfolio. The game invites players to build their ultimate team to outdo their rivals in a challenge and strategy game for all the family.

 

Smiffys has penned a licensing deal with Pink Key Licensing to transform the popular snack Pringles into an array of costumes and accessories for all the family, based on the well-known can. The first range is set to launch in Q1 in 2023, with collections available in Europe, Middle East, Africa, Australia, UK, Ireland & Channel Islands. 

 

Banijay is getting into the high-tech world of NFTs with a decidedly low-tech test subject: Mr. Bean.  In a deal with Dubai-based NFT platform FOMO Lab, 3,333 unique digital collectibles will be created based on Mr Bean: The Animated Series from Banijay-owned prodco Tiger Aspect Kids and Family. This is Banijay’s first range of NFTs, and they will launch on May 25 via FOMO Labs’ marketplace The Avenue.

 

Canela Media To Launch New Kids AVOD Streaming Service.  Canela Kids will debut on August 16, featuring an original doc series from Upstairs Miami and Sofia Vergara’s Latin World Entertainment. New York’s Canela Media is expanding its portfolio of streaming platforms with the launch of a new Spanish-language AVOD for children ages two to 12.

 

Kids Podcast Wow In The World Hits The Road.  Tinkercast is expanding its hugely popular audio entertainment brand with an experiential ice cream truck tour of seven US cities beginning on May 21. Tinkercast is continuing to execute a 360-degree expansion plan for its successful Wow in the World science and tech podcast with the May 21 launch of a traveling US road show called WOW on Wheels.

Telepool’s Global Screen has picked up family-friendly feature films The Last Whale Singer and The School of Magical Animals 2 to bolster its 2022/2023 slate. The German distributor will present both features this month at the annual Cannes Film Market, where attendees can purchase pre-sale tickets for The Last Whale Singer and also watch The School of Magical Animals 2‘s first teaser.

 

The Mouse House is turning Shawn Amos’s upcoming debut novel Cookies & Milk into an animated series, with Disney Television Animation driving development. Actor Laurence Fishburne and Helen Sugland, who jointly own the studio Cinema Gypsy (Black-ish), will executive produce with Amos, Brian Egeston (who will pull double duty as story editor) and Jesse Murphy and James Sears Bryant from...

 

HBO Max and Cartoon Network have ordered a new animated feature film and series from Cartoon Network Studios. Driftwood is a 90-minute space adventure pic from creator and EP Victor Courtright (Aquaman: King of Atlantis) that’s in production now. It revolves around a tiny mouse-like creature who races to find a city that has discovered a safe and sustainable fuel source, all while trying to avoid an evil overlord.

 

***The above posted after the Bloom Report was sent on May 6th***

 

Blake Shelton and Carson Daly are heading to Blake’s bar for a new celebrity game show. The longtime friends have teamed to star in and executive produce Barmageddon for USA Network, with Nikki Bella as host.  The show will take place at Shelton’s Nashville bar Ole Red, with Daly behind the bar and Shelton taking the stage with his house band for live music sing-alongs.

 

In what looks set to be another monster year for Flair GP and Playmates Toys’ MonsterVerse licensed collection, a host of new characters and lines will be launched over the coming months, and a rebrand and packaging refresh will roll out across the range. Popular with both kids and adult collectors alike, MonsterVerse is a multimedia franchise and shared fictional universe that features Godzilla and King Kong. 

 

BBC Studios has signed Mexico’s Tycoon Enterprises as its South and Central American licensing agent for hit animated preschool series Bluey. As part of the deal, Tycoon has lined up regional distributors Imexporta (Chile), Caffaro (Argentina) and Boing Toys (Guatemala) to make a product range from Bluey’s global master toy partner Moose Toys available throughout Latin America beginning later this year. 

 

Disney+ is prepping a feature film adaptation of bestselling novel Out of My Mind by children’s author Sharon Draper, and the live-action project will be a collab between Disney Branded TV, Participant, Big Beach and EveryWhere Studios. Out of My Mind tells the story of Melody Brooks, a sharp-witted girl with cerebral palsy. Despite not being given the same academic opportunities as her peers, she’s...

 

Surprise! Hasbro And Nintendo Release Monopoly Junior: Super Mario Edition. If you were a fan of Hasbro's Super Mario Monopoly when it was released back in 2020, but are looking for something that's a bit more accessible for younger audiences, you might want to check out Monopoly Junior: Super Mario Edition. 

 

THQ Nordic and MGM have announced plans to bring the classic Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader? franchise to Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, as well as PC later this year. The game is in development with THQ Nordic-owned studio Handy Games. Developed by Massive Miniteam, the game will be published by THQ Nordic subsidiary HandyGames.

Angry Birds is set to extend its toy line with the new Zzzopa Spinner Ball, thanks to a new deal struck between PMI Trading & Enterprise and brand owner Rovio Entertainment. The deal has been brokered by IMG. Having enjoyed huge success in the market to date, Rovio’s Angry Birds will become the first-ever licence to join PMI’s growing Zzzopa Spinner ball line.

 

Rocket Licensing Represents ‘Little People, Big Dreams’ Series.  Rocket Licensing will be discussing the brand with licensees across a wide range of categories and plans to create a licensing program that includes apparel, dress-up, games, puzzles, publishing, stationery, and more. Additionally, a new style guide will be available for licensing partners featuring illustrations from the series.

 

The Muppets Are Ready to Mingle with 12 New LEGO Minifigures. Hi-ho, Kermit the Frog here! LEGO is shining a spotlight on The Muppets with 12 new minifigures inspired by The Muppet Show. The assortment includes Animal, Beaker, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo, Janice, Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Rowlf the Dog, Statler, the Swedish Chef, and Waldorf.

 

LA-based ZAG Entertainment has signed seven new licensing deals in Mexico for its flagship brand Miraculous—Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir. Partners joining the consumer products program include Yuyin (shoes), Fotorama (school supplies), Novelties Best Trading (stationery), Cool Things (accessories) Área Creativa (gifts) and Helados Willy (ice cream), and they will all launch new products regionally this fall.

 

Cartoon Saloon will oversee global licensing and merchandising for its upcoming Netflix movie My Father’s Dragon. Since launching in 2019, the studio’s brand development division has managed consumer products business for projects such as The Secret of Kells, Song of the Sea, Wolfwalkers and The Breadwinner. My Father’s Dragon is Cartoon Saloon’s fifth feature-length movie. Based on a book by Ruth Stiles...

 

YouTube has ordered the an animated talk show called Corpse Talk from Banijay Kids & Family-owned prodco Tiger Aspect Kids and Family. The 13-episode comedy highlights historical figures in a talk show format in which luminaries such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Leonardo da Vinci and Cleopatra sit down with a host to share stories from their life. YouTuber Joe Sugg, whose channel ThatcherJoe has 7.5 mill...

 

Give the gift of play: Rubies and Disney team for Star Wars campaign. The Gift of Play is a new campaign hosted on a dedicated website [disneythegiftofplay.co.uk], which is entrenched in Disney’s nearly 100-year legacy of creative storytelling, to encourage adults and children to have more shared imaginative playtime together. The campaign, which will see a takeover of Rubies social channels and website...

Immersive touring attraction to bring The World of Barbie to life. Kilburn Live, a specialist in branded live entertainment, has revealed a partnership with Mattel, Inc. for a new upcoming immersive attraction: World Of Barbie. Created in partnership with the leading global toy company, Kilburn Live’s interactive exhibition will allow fans the unique opportunity to step directly into Barbie’s inspiring world, where they...

 

Yoto, the audio platform for kids behind the critically acclaimed, award-winning screen-free Yoto Player and recently launched Yoto Mini, has collaborated with Penguin Audio to bring Peppa Pig titles to its ever-expanding audio library. In a first for the platform, children will soon be able to immerse themselves into the world of Peppa, with two short story collections – At Home with Peppa and Peppa Pig: Bedtime...

 

NY’s Surge Licensing has signed TOMY International as the master toy partner for kids book series A Little SPOT. Written and illustrated by Diane Alber, the book range currently features 50-plus titles that have sold more than a million copies on Amazon. They’re designed to teach children ages four to 11 how to manage and understand their emotions by using brightly colored characters to explain topics such as...

 

GoNoodle has teamed up with mental health organization On Our Sleeves to launch The Mooderators, a new social-emotional learning (SEL) series for kids that explores mental health themes. The six-part live-action video series aims to teach five- to nine-year-olds how to identify, process and express their feelings in healthy ways. Each episode will be between two and three-and-a-half minutes long.

 

Amazon’s Freevee AVOD platform (formerly IMDB TV) has greenlit coming-of-age dramedy Beyond Black Beauty and unscripted series Play-Doh Squished as part of its content slate for 2023. Based on the classic novel by Anna Sewell, Beyond Black Beauty follows aspiring Olympic equestrian Jolie Dumont as she struggles to adapt to a new lifestyle after moving to her mother’s childhood home in Baltimore. 

 

Hot Wheels is partnering with Paralympic athlete Aaron "Wheelz" Fotheringham to release a speedy remote-controlled wheelchair toy that's ready to pull off all kinds of stunts.  Announced and launched Tuesday, the Hot Wheels R/C Aaron Wheelz Wheelie Chair looks a bit like playing a live-action version of a Tony Hawk Pro Skater game. The toy -- which is the first from Hot Wheels to feature a wheelchair as its vehicle....

 

YuMe Introduces’Stranger Things’ Upside Down CapsuleYuMe, the award-winning global toy brand recognized for its innovative, market-led approach, has announced its partnership with one of the most popular series ever produced by Netflix, Stranger Things. In the run-up to the launch of season 4, YuMe is introducing The Stranger Things Upside Down Capsule, the retro 80’s unboxing experience fans have been craving!

 

Toei Animation’s Dragon Ball Hits Record High in Franchise Licensing Deals.  Setting the stage for next month’s Licensing Expo 2022, anime pioneer and industry-leading studio Toei Animation Incorporated together with U.S. agent Crunchyroll has released the latest Dragon Ball franchise licensing report. This annual report provides a comprehensive look at the success of their collective Dragon Ball licensing...

 

Bluey brings first-ever live show to U.S. audiences.  The much-loved Heeler family are coming to theatres across the United States with the Bluey live show, Bluey’s Big Play The Stage Show. The Emmy Award-winning animated preschool series, which airs on Disney Junior, Disney Channel, and Disney+, will be “taking the show on the road” to theatres all across the U.S., starting with its …

 

Star Stable gallops into toy licensing with Just Play.  Swedish games company Star Stable Entertainment (SSE) has signed a global toy line deal with leading consumer products company Just Play for its hugely successful gaming brand Star Stable Online, via Finnish and Canada-based licensing and animation studio Ferly. The first toy line will hit the market in 2023. The deal will see the partners develop …

 

LEGO and the Rolling Stones band together for satisfying set. The LEGO Group is bringing a rock ’n’ roll image to life in brick form. The bright red lips and tongue known worldwide as the logo for the Rolling Stones is guaranteed to thrill adult fans looking to combine their passion for the band’s music and LEGO bricks. The logo, first seen on the Stones’ ...

 

MARVEL INTRODUCES ‘BLACK PANTHER LEGACY COLLECTION’ WITH HASBRO REISSUES. Following the success of the Infinity Saga line of toys and collectibles last year, Marvel Studios is looking ahead to the release of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever by bringing T’Challa and other legendary characters from Black Panther back into toy departments this summer.

Pickleball, golf score big in licensing. Many of the outdoor sports that gained scores of new fans during pandemic-induced lockdowns are rapidly emerging as new matches for licensing. Golf, for example, boasted 24.8 million players in 2020, up 2% from the previous year and marking the sport’s largest net increase in 17 years, according to the National Golf Federation. The number of players rose to 25.1 million in 2021. 

 

Funko unveils massive line of “Stranger Things” season 4 toys. With Volume One of “Stranger Things 4“ heading to Netflix on May 27, Funko is getting set to unleash a massive wave of toys based on the hit series’ fourth season, and they’ve been officially unveiled today. The collection features Eleven, Lucas, Robin, Steve and other members of the iconic “Stranger Things” gang as fan-favorite Pop! vinyl figures and classic pocket …

 

G.I. JOE is coming to Puzzles & Survival. Puzzles & Survival, a zombie-themed match-3 strategy game launched by 37 GAMES, has announced it will team up with Hasbro to bring G.I. JOE to the game on May 6. Upon its launch in May, the limited-time collaborative effort will pit players against the evil forces of Cobra over the course of six exclusive events, all while still striving to defeat the zombies that have become part...

 

KartRider Rush+ joins forces with SEGA’s ‘Sonic the Hedgehog'. Game developer and publisher, Nexon, has announced a global collaboration between free-to-play mobile kart racing sensation, KartRider Rush+, and SEGA’s “Sonic the Hedgehog.” KartRider’s Dao and Bazzi are pairing up with the fastest hedgehog in the universe, Sonic, in a race to collect all the shards. 

Hasbro re-releasing the very first Star Wars toys, complete with retro packaging. Hasbro is reviving the classic Kenner Star Wars action figures of the 1970s by releasing a "retro collection" multipack of characters inspired by the original toy line for A New Hope. In celebration of Star Wars Day 2022, GameSpot shared a few details about Hasbro's next Star Wars Retro Collection release, revealing a line-up of Episode IV...

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People of Play

The Infant, Science and Puzzle company Clementoni has announced the appointment of Paul Fogarty to the role of country manager, UK and Ireland. Paul joins Clementoni with over 25 years’ experience in the toy and licensing industry, leading sales and marketing for multiple global brands including Mattel and Tomy, and more recently leading and re-establishing K’Nex in the UK. 

 

Ex-Warner Bros. distribution chief Jeffrey Schlesinger has launched a new strategic advisory company, with the appropriately named Former Bros. Media apparently taking a cheeky jab at his one-time employers. Schlesinger, who most recently served as president of Warner Bros. Worldwide Television Distribution, exited the studio in 2021 after 37 yrs with the US giant, amid a wholesale restructuring of the company...

 

ERIK QUAM JOINS MAGFORMERS AS PRESIDENT, NORTH AMERICA OPERATIONSQuam joins the company from Harbor Freight Tools, prior to which he held longstanding roles at Fat Brain Toys and Mindware. In his new role, Quam will draw from his background in product development, sourcing, merchandising, sales, international distribution, catalog, and inventor relations to steer the Magformers business into the future.

STEVE MARKEY GETS HOG WILD ON THE ‘POWER KID PODCAST’. In this week’s episode of the “Power Kid Podcast,” host Phil Albritton of Power Kid Design welcomes Steve Markey, vice president of sales and marketing at Hog Wild Toys to the show. For more than two decades, Markey has traversed the toy industry with roles at Wham-O, PlanToys, Green Toys, Crazy Aaron’s, and more.

 

Elenco, the manufacturer behind the educational Snap Circuits line of STEM construction toys, has appointed Anthony Trani as CEO. Trani’s appointment supports the company’s larger efforts to strengthen and expand its business to the global market.  “I am excited to join the Elenco team and privileged to work for such a well-respected company in both the toy and education industries,” Trani says.

 

MIKE PINDER NAMED VP OF TECHNOLOGY, GURU STUDIO. Guru Studio is expanding its production technology infrastructure and team. The animation studio known for its work on Spin Master’s PAW Patrol and the Sesame Street Mecha Builders series hired Mark Pinder as its vice president of technology. 

 

Moose Toys names Chedney Rodgers as SVP Global & US Marketing.  Moose Toys has announced that industry veteran Chedney Rodgers has joined the company as senior vice president, global and US marketing. She will be based at the company’s US operation in El Segundo, California, beginning today.

 

Ravensburger has confirmed the appointment of Richard Collins to continue the company’s trajectory of growth in the region. Richard will oversee Ravensburger UK’s entire portfolio which includes the flagship brand as well as the ThinkFun, GraviTrax, Brio and CreArt brands, spanning the puzzles, games, play sets and craft categories.

 

MGA Entertainment  has announced the appointment of Sara Taylor as its new managing director for UK and Ireland. With over 31 years’ experience within the international toy industry, Sara Taylor joins MGA from Spin Master, where she has worked for over 13 years – most recently as general manager for the UK, Ireland and Amazon Europe. Prior to this, Sara has also held senior positions at Funrise and Mattel.

 

***The above posted after May 6th***

 

He’s All Fun and Games! In his 40+year career as a lauded toy and game inventor, Robert Fuhrer of Chappaqua has brought to market more than 200 toys and games — from Crocodile Dentist to KenKen. When I caught up with Robert Fuhrer on a Zoom call from his ocean-view condo on Singer Island in Florida, I learned about his decades-long toy-inventing collaboration with the Japanese, the advice he’d give folks who have cool new board game ideas, and what type of games go viral today. 

Moonbug Entertainment has announced the appointment of Francesca Romana Gianesin as head of Consumer Products EMEA ANZ. In this newly created role Francesca will be responsible for driving the consumer products business across EMEA and ANZ. Her remit covers all Moonbug properties, including hit brands such as Blippi, CoComelon and Little Baby Bum. An experienced international business executive...

Twenty-year Disney vet Francesca Romana Gianesin will oversee the kidco's licensing and merchandising business in EMEA and ANZ, as it prepares to expand the ancillary reach of its brands. Francesca Gianesin resizedMoonbug has hired former Disney VP Francesca Romana Gianesin to head up its licensing business in EMEA, Australia and New Zealand.

 

Former Nickelodeon and Viacom exec Lisa Silverman Meyers has been appointed SVP of International at WildBrain-owned Peanuts Worldwide.  Tasked with expanding the brand internationally, she will oversee all business outside of North America, identifying growth opportunities in underdeveloped markets. Silverman Meyers officially started in April and is based in New York. She reports to Tim Erickson,...

 

NIHF – National Inventors Hall of Fame Inducts Lonnie Johnson, Super Soaker Creator, and More. Five innovation pioneers whose inventions range from cataract surgery to the modern automobile will be honored as part of the latest class of National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF) Inductees, including the inventor of the Super Soaker, Lonnie Johnson.

The NY based crafts and activity co. Creative Kids has continued its expansion within the UK with the appointment of Grant Gie, who will head up operations in the country as managing director. He joins Creative Kids following his most recent role as international sales director at Melissa & Doug, having previously held senior roles at Sambro and Hasbro.

Bernard Kim to leave Zynga, named new CEO of Match Group. Zynga president Bernard Kim has announced his resignation from the company, as well as his departure from the games industry at large with a new role in the mobile app space. Starting May 31, Kim will assume the role of CEO at Match Group, the firm behind Tinder, Hinge and several other dating apps. 

 

Mainframe hires new business development SVP. Vancouver’s Mainframe Studios has brought in former Technicolor exec Kristy Scanlan to serve as its first-ever SVP of business development. Her remit is to develop and expand Mainframe’s production partnerships in TV, feature-length movies and cross-platform content. Owned by WOW! Unlimited Media, Mainframe has worked on projects such as DreamWorks...

Creative Kids appoints Grant Gie as UK MD. New York-based craft and activity company Creative Kids is continuing its expansion in the UK with the appointment of Grant Gie, who will head up operations in the UK as Managing Director. Gie is a recognizable face, having worked in the toy industry for over 14 years. He joins the company following his most recent role as International Sales Director at Melissa & Doug, having previously held senior roles at Sambro and Hasbro...

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Companies and Brands

Toy World caught up with DKB Toys & Distribution MD Chris Lohmeyer to find out how the company’s first 18 months in business has gone, and what lies ahead for 2022. Toy World first profiled DKB Toys & Distribution back in February last year, almost six months after the company was launched. In that interview, Chris spoke about his goal of establishing a toy and distribution company that offers service...

 

Dream Beams, from Happy Line Toys, are cute, plush glow in the dark characters, each given added collectability with imaginative back stories from a Dream Beams World. The partnership kicks off with the first wave on show at the Toymaster May Show, which runs in Harrogate from 17th-19th May. and they will be available for delivery from this month. 

 

Orchard Toys has appointed Kayes of Cardiff as its exclusive distribution partner to the independent toy sector covering England, Wales and Scotland. Under the terms of the partnership, Kayes will carry the entire Orchard Toys product portfolio. Independent retailers will still be able to order split-pack quantities of Orchard Toys games and jigsaws, and benefit from the same pricing they currently receive.

 

Plush toy maker and lifestyle gift creator Douglas Company adds two more little cuties to their plush line-up this year with Hedgehogs Stuey and Sally. Hedgehogs have a reputation for cuteness, and their popularity has not wavered. Douglas’ newest Hedgehogs are designed for ages 3 and up and are hitting store shelves now. Douglas Company celebrates their 66th year as a leader in the plush industry! 

 

VTech Communications, Incorporated, a leading manufacturer of award-winning baby monitors, announced the availability of its first-ever line of LeapFrog baby monitors. The introductory line, available now at major retailers nationwide, consists of seven models including both smart video baby monitors and video baby monitors, with additional models being released later this year. 

 

All your favorite Sanrio characters, including Hello Kitty, are getting a new blind box collection – Kandy x Sanrio ft. Jason Freeny (Series 01).  Featuring six regular characters and one rare character, fans will have the chance to unbox every sweet Kandy flavor and collect them all. Inspired by your favorite candied treats like pastel pink bubblegum or golden yellow sweet caramel, every figure features a different...

Moonbug Entertainment is launching It’s Cody Time, CoComelon’s first-ever spinoff channel featuring Cody Green and his loving family. The musical pre-school series debuts on YouTube with two special episodes, “Cody’s Spy Song” and “I’m going to be a Big Brother”, followed by a new episode each Wednesday, bringing positive and fun content to children around the world.

 

A new movie set in the world of the Descendants franchise has been greenlit for Disney+. The musical from Disney Branded TV is in development now under the working title The Pocketwatch. Jennifer Phang will direct the project and is also serving as an EP alongside Gary Marsh. With a time-travel storyline, the movie will feature seven new songs and two new characters—rebel Red and perfectionist Chloe. 

 

Holiday Channel Maps Out Expansion From Film Fest To SVOD. KIDSCREEN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: The company's CEO and COO reveal how they want to make every day feel like a holiday for kids and families. Holiday ChannelDoes Pizza Day count as a holiday? It definitely does if you’re five years old. And also if you’re a fledgling content empire looking to create franchisable formats with a holiday hook.

 

ToyNews EXCLUSIVE: Sambro comes of age.  It’s a milestone year for Sambro, with the Bury-based toy company celebrating 25 years in business and growth expected to hit nearly 40 per cent. CEO Paul Blackaby talks to ToyNews about what the next quarter century might bring, and why investing in Gen Z now will pay dividends later...

 

Showcase, a Canadian retailer that bills itself as “Home of the Hottest Trends” is expanding its footprint in the U.S. market after opening 10 stores in the Northeast three years ago. The company, which sells toys and novelties alongside home, health and beauty, candy, and food items, will open 27 stores across 12 states beginning next month.

 

American Girl is headed to HBO Max and Cartoon Network. Mattel inked a deal with Warner Bros. for a pair of live-action American Girl specials that will be available on Cartoon Network and HBO Max. MarVista Entertainment, a Fox Entertainment company, will produce. The first special, American Girl: Corinne Tan, will debut this December on Cartoon Network and will stream the following day on HBO Max.

 

New Barbies Meet Demand For Doll Diversity. Kids want to see themselves reflected in their toys, and a new range from Mattel’s top-selling brand will feature hearing aids, prosthetic limbs and other inclusive characteristics... the toyco’s new Fashionistas range features the first-ever Barbie to use a behind-the-ear hearing aid; a doll with a prosthetic leg; a Ken doll with vitiligo (a skin condition); and a wider variety of body types.

 

Spin Master Opens Applications for 2022 Future of Play Scholarship Program.  Now in its second year, the program will support those studying in the fields of  Toys, Entertainment and Digital Games. In 2021, Spin Master granted seven scholarships to individuals from underrepresented communities, including BIPOC, women and LGBTQIA+ students seeking post-secondary education within the areas of toy ...

 

Snorble has named its board of directors, featuring five members from different backgrounds including innovation, education, technology, finance, and cybersecurity. The first two members on the board are Snorble co-founders Mike Rizkalla and Doug Hughes. Rizkalla, also CEO of Snorble, is a leader in the technology and robotics industry with experience in organizations ranging from startup businesses...

 

Izipline seeks UK distributor. The easy to set up kits from Izipline create a family adventure space in the garden, plus harnesses, helmets and gloves are also available.  Since 2004, Izipline has been bringing the fun of ziplines into gardens and playgrounds with its range of quality products at affordable prices. The company’s ziplines are specially designed to encourage kids to go outside and get active...

 

Toy World spoke to Jose Manuel Diaz Ballarin and Alex Prieto about why toy companies should consider a partnership with design agency ToyZone. ToyZone, an innovative and enthusiastic specialist toy design agency, is enjoying strong success, with design collaborations continuing to rack up and an ever-increasing suite of services on offer.

 

Asmodee opened a new game studio called Access+ that adapts existing board games for players with cognitive disabilities. Asmodee partnered with an external scientific committee of care professionals to accommodate existing titles for players with disabilities that impact speech, social relation, attention, emotional control, planning, and memory.  Access+ will release accessible versions of Spot It!, Cortex, and ...

 

The LEGO Group launches LEGO City Missions.  The LEGO Group has today announced a unique interactive experience for budding designers: LEGO City Missions. The new experience will take kids on a story-led building journey – putting imagination and creative experimentation to the test. It’s the latest innovation from LEGO City that lets children dive into an awesome world of interactive adventures and missions...

 

Simba Dickie Group shares strategic vision.  Simba Dickie’s new strategic vision will lay the foundations for the future success of the family-owned company. Founded as Simba Toys in 1982, Simba Dickie Group is celebrating its 40th anniversary with the third generation of management at the helm. Florian Sieber took over as CEO one year ago, in May 2021, and has detailed ‘Our Spirit’, the new strategic vision of the ...

 

Behind the scenes at Ravensburger.  Having kicked off 2022 with a raft of new games and a €4 million investment in crowdfunding platform Gamefound, Ravensburger is on a mission to become “the most trusted gaming brand” on a global scale. ToyNews sat down with Filip Francke and Thomas Bleyer to find out about the company’s next moves

 

Husband and-wife team Declan Fahy and Kate Scott share why they believe tech has a place in play, what new licensing deals bring to the table, and their plans for the future of HoloToyz. ‘Positive’ is perhaps not a word everyone would choose to describe the past two years, but for HoloToyz, which was officially founded during the first lockdown in March 2020,

 

Bandai and Tomy are part of a trend in which companies are recycling products made from petroleum-based materials, reflecting an increased awareness of sustainable development goals (SDGs) as well as soaring material prices and tighter emissions regulations at home and abroad.

India’s leading toy manufacturer, Funskool India is back with launching yet another blockbuster range of toys for children this summer. The wide range of new products are from a diverse range of categories such as board games, puzzles, Infants & pre-school, dough etc. This range will not only encourage the development of multiple skills: cognitive, physical, social, and emotional but also help parents to fully engage their...

 

Continuing its “Tribute” collection, Mattel is back with another Barbie doll inspired by none other than Vera Wang. The toy co’s ongoing range celebrates leading figures across all industries who have helped shape and impact culture. Having started with a small bridal boutique during the early years of her career, Wang has established a name for herself in the fashion industry and transcended cultural boundaries.

 

***The above posted after Bloom Report sent on May 6th***

 

A Kid’s Show Juggernaut That Leaves Nothing to Chance. Moonbug fine-tunes the world’s most popular video programs for the youngest of viewers. Parents already know that resistance is futile. Sitting on a sofa in a glass-walled room, a 2-year-old in a blue T-shirt is riveted by an episode of “CoComelon,” an animated cartoon series full of vivid colors, cherubic children and earworm songs like “Miss Polly Had a Dolly”...

 

Moose Toys named one of the UK’s best workplaces  The UK’s best companies to work for based on employee feedback have been revealed for 2022, with Moose Toys proudly ranking among the best in Britain. Compiled by Great Place to Work, The UK’s Best Workplaces Awards were held at Tobacco Dock in London on 28 April, recognising the best businesses in the country. The UK’s Best

 

Golden Bear has launched its own interactive plush, introducing a range of entry-level animatronic soft toys to the sub-category. Curlimals is the company’s latest plush IP and supports a long-term strategy to grow and develop its own brands to sit alongside an already strong business portfolio of licensed plush. Curlimals are cute woodland creatures that respond to touch with over 50 sounds and reactions. 

 

Bazooka Candy Brands, a division of the Bazooka Companies, Incorporated, kicks off the Ring Pop brand’s 45th birthday with the launch of the #RingPop45Contest, calling on friends and families across the country to share their very own Ring Pop-inspired birthday treat on Instagram for a chance to win a $1000 cash gift card and a year’s supply of Ring Pops.

 

Following a new report for Nick Jr. by the National Literacy Trust, Nick Jr. and Blue’s Clues & You! will take part in Early Words Together programmes.  A report compiled for Paramount as part of a wider partnership between the National Literacy Trust and Blues Clues & You! shows that parents of young children engaged in fewer home learning activities in 2021 than they did in 2019, despite spending more time with them at home during the coronavirus lockdowns.

 

Toys ‘R’ Us ANZ Presents at NWR Virtual Investor Conference.  Following its relaunch of Toys “R” Us as a digital-first, direct-to-consumer retailer in Australia and New Zealand, Toys “R” Us ANZ Ltd. is currently setting up shop in the UK. This week, the company’s CEO and Managing Director, Dr. Louis Mittoni addressed investors and analysts at the NWR Virtual Investor Conference.

 

DECLASSIFYING THE FUTURE OF G.I. JOE: A ROUNDTABLE WITH HASBRO. It’s been 40 years since Hasbro launched G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, a revamped approach to its famous military brand. At the time, it was revolutionary in that the 12-inch line of action figures had entered the 3.75-inch scale that was all the rage due to the launch of the Kenner Star Wars collection just a few years prior. The new scale and multipronged...

 

Ravensburger has unveiled its plan to release Star Wars puzzles in the U.S. for the first time this year. The new line will include puzzles from the original Star Wars trilogy as well as the new hit series The Mandalorian.  “We know that Star Wars is such a beloved franchise, and we are delighted to finally introduce these puzzles to the U.S.,” says Thomas Kaepeller, president of Ravensburger NA. “With so many designs...

 

UNICEF, The LEGO Group Promote Kids’ Digital Well-Being UNICEF and The LEGO Group have joined forces to form the Responsible Innovation in Technology for Children project. Funded by the LEGO Foundation, the project seeks to create practical tools for businesses and governments that will empower them to put kids’ well-being at the center of digital design, during a digital age when technology has become...

 

Crazy Aaron’s is throwing its support behind Mental Health Awareness Month.  The company is donating special edition Thinking Putty Care Packages to therapists’ offices and mental health nonprofit organizations throughout its local community in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.

“Supporting mental health is the human equivalent to supporting infrastructure like roads and bridges. Without it, human potential is limited...

 

‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ Drops Intense New Trailer Featuring Darth Vader for Star Wars DayThe six-part series premieres on Disney+ May 27.  The new look at the Disney+ series, dubbed the “official trailer” is 90 seconds long — and there is a lot to unpack. It is clear from the preview that the six-part Star Wars series will tell the story of Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) on the run from Darth Vader (Hayden Christensen) and The Empire while he tries to keep an eye on a young Luke Skywalker.

 

PBS KIDS, PRX and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting  are running a second edition of their podcast initiative in order to support five US pubcasters in developing new content for two- to eight-year-olds. The Ready to Learn Podcast Accelerator is giving Ball State PBS (Indiana), East Tennessee PBS, KERA (Dallas), KSPS PBS (Washington) and WNET (NY) up to US$12,000 each, and 16 weeks of virtual training...

JumpStart, the parent company of Neopets, will be proudly hosting a charity auction, debuting a 25-piece collection of Neopian art featuring characters from the beloved game. The auction will go live on GiveSmart on Monday, May 9, 2022 and will end on Sunday, May 15, 2022. The full collection from the Neopets private vault on auction includes fine art paintings with luxe frames, large standees, and high-quality...

 

Hamleys Regent Street has unveiled its newest retail space, dedicated to gaming. The purpose-built 3,000 ft space, located on the lower ground floor, offers 13 interactive zones to explore, and will house the latest consoles, bestselling games and accessories from brands including Xbox, Nintendo, Razer and more. The highly immersive area – the only dedicated multi-brand …

 

“Pictionary,” the first-run syndicated game show based on the Mattel game, is now cleared in 90% of the country, ensuring a Fall 2022 national launch. Stations from CBS Stations, Sinclair, Nexstar, Tegna and Gray are the most recent to sign on to broadcast the strip, which had previously been cleared by Fox Television Stations. “Game shows have been a consistent performer for stations, so they really embraced the..

 

Disney Junior has unveiled new original content, including four series and two shorts, that will be launching across the preschool channel and Disney+ through 2024. New co-productions Hey A.J., RoboGobo, Kindergarten: The Musical, and SuperKitties are joining the kidcaster’s programming lineup targeting the two-to-seven demo.

 

Netflix has shut down two animated kids shows in production: Dino Daycare, from creator Jeff King (Vampirina) and executive producer Chris Nee (Ada Twist, Scientist), as well as creator Jaydeep Hasrajani’s Boons & Curses. The move comes in the wake of the streamer’s recent Q1 report, which saw it post a 200,000 subscriber loss for the quarter and a forecast for more of the same in Q2.

 

A least one U.S. consumer-products manufacturer has no intention of giving up on China anytime soon. Kids2, the online identity of Atlanta-based Kids II, Inc., designs and manufactures toys for infants and toddlers under several high-profile brands, including Baby Einstein, Bright Starts and Ingenuity. Kids2 offers hundreds of different products and maintains affiliate operations in multiple countries

 

Meet Sox, the breakout star of Disney’s ‘Lightyear’ — and the next hot toy. A robot cat named Sox from the Pixar film “Lightyear” was a standout during a preview of the film during CinemaCon, leading many observers to believe it will be the next hot toy property. Disney screened the first 30 minutes of its new Pixar film “Lightyear” at CinemaCon in Las Vegas on Wednesday, but the biggest buzz among attendees...

 

UK-based Aardman Animations and French AR/VR developer Atlas V are teaming up to co-produce Wallace and Gromit’s first virtual reality experience. Funded by Meta’s VR headset division Meta Quest (formerly Facebook’s Oculus Quest), The Grand Getaway is a single-player experience that will launch in 2023 exclusively via the Oculus store.

Capstone Games reveals 'Catherine: The Cities of the Tsarina'. Capstone Games revealed Catherine: The Cities of the Tsarina, a new board game, for release into retail on July 26, 2022. In this game, players delve into the Tsarist Empire of 1762 to earn the favor of Catherine the Great. They will explore different strategies, such as developing the fine arts, trade, or securing the Empire, that culminate in trying to accomplish …

 

Wizards of the Coast celebrates Pride with new 'Magic: The Gathering' drop. Wizards of the Coast announced Pride Across the Multiverse, a new Magic: The Gathering Secret Lair drop that celebrates the LGBTQIA2S+ community. Pride Across the Multiverse is a set that features the LGBTQIA2S+ community's creativity through artwork as well as supports a worthy cause, The Trevor Project. 

 

Devir Games reveals 'Home Sweet Home (Or Not)'. Devir Games revealed Home Sweet Home (or Not), a new cooperative board game by Paul Peterson, for release into retail in September 2022. Home Sweet Home (or Not) is a cooperative board game featuring a pick up and deliver mechanic. In this game, players attempt to clean up the house quickly as they try to finish one of the five missions included in the game. 

 

AEG reveals 'That Old Wallpaper'. Alderac Entertainment Group revealed That Old Wallpaper, a new card drafting game, for release into retail on August 19, 2022. In That Old Wallpaper,  players try to recover old wallpaper from a house they have fond memories of. They draft stacks of wallpaper cards and piece them together to create patterns. 

'Ready Set Bet' with AEG. Alderac Entertainment Group will release Ready Set Bet, a new horse racing game, on August 19, 2022. In Ready Set Bet, players wager on horses whose fates are determined by the roll of the dice. This game is played over four rounds where players place Bet Tokens on the board while the race is going on. 

 

Funagain will release 'Antematter'. Funagain Distribution will release Antematter, a space poker strategy game, into retail in Q3 2022. In Antematter, players command a crew of space pirates looking to increase their fortunes. To get rich quick, they hit the gambling tables for a few rounds of space-twisted Texas Hold'em.

'Zero Squadron' comes for 'Blood Red Skies'. Warlord Games has announced the release of the iconic Japanese naval fighter for its Blood Red Skies air combat game with the launch of the Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero Squadron. The Mitsubishi Zero, or Reisen as it was known to its pilots, was a highly maneuverable and effective aircraft that would become the most famous Japanese fighter plane of World War II. 

 

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Gaming: Digital, Video, Hardware, and Development

AppLovin buys earlier Wordle game. AppLovin has acquired mobile word puzzle game Worlde. (No, not that one -- that's still owned by The New York Times). The Wordle in question was developed by Steven Cravotta and released long before John Wardle's browser-based Wordle went viral earlier this year. TechCrunch reports mobile marketing specialist and game publisher AppLovin purchased the game from Cravotta...

 

Guillemot family is considering to purchase Ubisoft. The Guillemot family is considering to partner with a private equity firm to acquire Ubisoft from potential buyers. As reported by Seeking Alpha, according to Dealreporter, the group's reasoning is because it would like to remain in control of the company. Ubisoft was established in 1986 by the five Guillemot brothers, where Yves Guillemot currently serves as CEO...

 

Bungie condemns potential Supreme Court decision to end Roe v. Wade. Destiny 2 developer Bungie has taken the unconventional move of publicly decrying a potential Supreme Court decision that would overturn Roe V. Wade, the 1973 legal precedent that declared legal bans of abortion to be unconstitutional. On Monday, Politico broke the news that the United States Supreme Court is circulating a draft legal...

Roblox: Gamers frustrated by lengthy outage. Roblox players experienced problems for more than 11 hours, with issues first reported late on Tuesday. The platform is the world's largest user-generated games site, and is thought to have about 210 million monthly players. Roblox said its website, mobile app, Xbox app and games were all affected. The firm posted on Twitter that it was aware some people were having issues...

 

AMD promises ‘extreme gaming laptops’ in 2023 with new Dragon Range CPU. A funny thing happened in 2020: AMD won the gaming laptop for the first time ever. Until the Asus Zephyrus G14, we’d never seen a laptop with an AMD CPU and AMD GPU run circles around the competition. Since then, we’ve repeatedly seen that “AMD laptop” no longer means cheap. .

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Safety and Counterfeiting

 

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Highlighted Press Releases

 

GET READY FOR FUN IN THE FÖM THIS SUMMER!  Excitement is Bubbling Over for Active Outdoor Play the Föm Mania® Way Now in Stock at Target.  Also Available Now at Walgreens, CVS, BJ’s, Kohl’s, Meijer and Dollar General.   Little Kids Inc., the number one bubble manufacturer in the U.S. is excited to see their Föm Mania products hitting the shelves. Give the kids a blast they will never forget with the Fömilator foam blaster ($14.99 at Target). It’s the trendiest mess-free fun that blasts streams of foam, making it perfect for backyard play battles! When you just can’t get enough foam, look for the Fömalanche at Target ($39.99). 

 

EVER TUG AN OCTOPUS? GET READY, RETAILERS, TO POP, BEND & PULL THE TOOBIMALS AT ASTRA BOOTH 1823. These Soft Plush Toys Hail From The Sea Or Jungle With An Irresistible Twist: A Please-Touch-Tube That’s Entices Play Plus They’re Great For Our Planet! Atlantic Beach, NY (May 10, 2022) – Specialty toy retailers will be on the hunt at ASTRA’s Marketplace for the perfect products to stretch limited 4th quarter budgets while delighting young customers. A look-see at Booth 1823 will have them not only stretching but popping, pushing, pulling and smiling. Say hello to the Original Toobimals, a sensory toobed plush toy.

 

***The above posted after May 5th***

 

The Singing Machine Company – the worldwide leader in consumer karaoke products – announces the official product release of its new Sing-along Crew plush characters. This newest hit kid’s product line is a unique approach to plush toys with sing-along capabilities designed for on-the-go fun. Each character is full of fun personality designed to encourage children to discover a love with music and singing.

 

MasterPieces inspires young generations of explorers to play, create and discover the fun of outer space with its newest licensed product line for NASA branded puzzles, games and DIY wood build-and-paint sets. Now available is a collection of NASA puzzles, games and craft kits that is certified by NASA for accuracy and STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) value. David Rolls, President and Founder of MasterPieces, Inc., said, “NASA will continue to be a world leader in the exploration of space throughout the next decade, and MasterPieces can now bring that future to our customers.”

Associations, Shows, Awards, Events, and Festivals

 

San Diego Comic-Con will require proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test to attend the comic industry’s most important annual event, the convention organization announced, and follow other Covid safety rules.  Chief among those is a requirement for all attendees five years old and above to wear face coverings at the show.  

 

Toymaster Preview.  With one week to go until the show, Rachael Simpson-Jones provides all you need to know to plan your visit and speaks to the Toymaster team about how the buying group is evolving this year. The hugely popular Toymaster May show returns this month after being forced to sit out its 2020 and 2021 iterations by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

 

Women in Animation (WIA) and the International Federation of Film Producers Associations (FIAPF) have selected six finalists for their inaugural Stories x Women program. The initiative is designed to bolster diverse voices in animation globally, with a focus on female creators from Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America—three regions with growing creative talent pools.

 

***The above posted after the Bloom Report was sent May 6th***

 

Pam Kaufman joined by Gary V for Licensing Expo keynote. Serial entrepreneur and world renowned NFT expert, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Pam Kaufman, president of Paramount, will explore the opportunities in the crossover between licensing and digital collectibles.  Slated for May 24th, at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, this highly anticipated panel brings together the most respected visionaries in the industry...

 

Licensing Expo Reveals 2022 Speaker Lineup.  Representatives from License Global, Paramount, LEGO, Hot Topic, WildBrain, FanGirl Consulting & Brand Management, GennComm ImaGENNation, Seltzer Licensing Group, Ferdinand IP Law Group, Formula E, Beanstalk, PhatMojo, Watermelon Creative, JS Product Design, Smiley, Licensing International, and Products of Change are among this year’s speakers

 

MeteoHeroes Premieres on PBS on Earth Day and Inspires New Environmental Awards. Mondo TV Studios, one of the largest European producers and distributors of animated content, together with family entertainment maverick Kenn Viselman and Meteo Expert has announced big news for its mega-hit MeteoHeroes: a TV debut in North America on PBS, and new awards inspired by the environmentally focused animated...

 

Coinciding with National Mental Health Month, Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment (WiT)  has announced the launch of WiT Wellness, a year-round initiative designed to raise awareness and mobilize conversations around mental health and well-being, and inspire individuals and companies to incorporate mental wellness into their daily lives.

 

Kidscreen Summit: full steam ahead for July live event. With just 11 weeks to go until this year’s Kidscreen Summit takes place live in Miami, the organisers report that all planning and preparation is on track. New York Times bestselling author and Newbery Award medalist Kwame Alexander will kick the week off with a keynote address on Monday, July 18, sharing the inspirational story of his...

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RIP - Rest in Play - Remembering Those that have Passed

If you know of a colleague's passing, please send us information so we may share with our colleagues. Archives can be found HERE.

John R Hall, Jr.  (February 28, 1946 - May 3, 2022) - John Hall began his career in toys with Child Guidance, which was eventually bought by Gabriel and then by CBS Toys. Ultimately, Hasbro purchased this group and John and his wife, Nancy, moved to Rhode Island with their two children, Jonathan and Kirsten, where he had a long career working at Hasbro as Sr VP, Director of Product Development for Playskool. He was affectionately known and embraced the moniker “Dr. No” by toy inventors for his discerning taste. John, with his characteristic dry humor also didn’t mind being referred to as “Dr. Know”. (information from Bob Fuhrer) 

 

GEORGE PEREZ  (1954 - 2022) - Writer, artist, and humanitarian George Perez died of pancreatic cancer on May 6, at the age of 67. Born in the Bronx in 1954, Perez worked on numerous series for both DC and Marvel over the years, as well as for other publishers such as Malibu, CrossGen, and BOOM! Studios. Perez was known for his skill with complicated scenes, and he contributed to such groundbreaking projects as DC's Crisis on Infinite Earths and the Marvel-DC crossover JLA/Avengers. Perez was also one of the founding members of The Hero Initiative, a nonprofit that assists comics creators in need. He received the Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award in 2005, and in 2017 he was inducted into the Eisner Awards Hall of Fame. READ MORE...

 

Mel Squires - (the following is from Jerry Cleary) - Melvin Squires long time industry executive passed away at age 85 on April 23 rd , 2022 after fighting a courageous battle with cancer. He is survived by his beloved wife and best friend, Deena (nee Label). He is the loving father of Deborah Cleighton( the late Robert Cleighton) and David Squires (Diane) Proud grandfather of Skyler and Brayden Cleighton and Tyler Squires. He is also survived by his loving sister Helene Zeitz ( the late Marvin Zeitz) and former wife Bonnie Squiress. Mel was the leading buyer and general manager for A Ponnock & CO. a leading toy wholesaler who serviced the greater Philadelphia area and Mid-Atlantic states. Mel later served as a key account executive at both TYCO and TYCO Preschool. Mel is remembered for being tough but fair, a hard work ethic, a keen eye for product, his love of sports and a great sense of humor. He will be missed by all those he worked with during a long and distinguished toy career. Rest in Play Mel.

Robert Krakoff (October 4, 1940 - April 26, 2022)  “Razerguy”, the co-founder and former president of gaming hardware company Razer, died last week at the age of 81. Maybe you’ve never heard Krakoff’s name, but it’s possible you’ve been impacted by his far-reaching legacy. In 1999, Krakoff was behind the first-ever gaming mouse: the Razer Boomslang. Not only was it the foundation of Razer’s now-massive lineup of gaming mice, it arguably jumpstarted the entire gaming peripheral industry. Below, you can see Krakoff himself in an ad promoting the Razer Boomslang mouse in 2002 — alongside professional gamer Johnathan “Fatal1ty” Wendel, who signed a historic sponsorship deal with Razer long before the word “esports” entered the lexicon.  

Origin stories can be complicated, and the story of Razer is more convoluted than most. Razer wasn’t actually a company until 2005 — it was the trademarked brand of an entity called Kärna, which had invented an opto-mechanical encoding wheel that could track a mouse’s movements at 2000 dpi, far higher resolution than other mice at the time. (Yes, the first gaming mouse rolled on wheels, even though optical mice were becoming a thing.)

Kärna went bankrupt in 2001, and Krakoff co-founded Razer the company with current CEO Min-Liang Tan in 2005, but neither man invented the gaming mouse: This case study (pdf) details how a marketing agency named Fitch created the entire Razer brand, including the name, the iconic three-headed snake logo, the website, the packaging, and most importantly, the design and engineering of the Boomslang mouse itself.

None of this is in dispute: Razer’s first press release says the Boomslang was “designed by Fitch, Inc. for kärna.”

But it also quotes a “Robert Krakoff, general manager for Razer” — who would not only become the public face of the company for its first decade and change, but make an incredible impression as one of the most accessible public faces of a company you might ever have the pleasure to know.

You’d get a little message from Razerguy with every Razer product you purchased, and his public email address wasn’t just for show. He was known to respond to fans and sit down for interviews with scrappy journalists who barely had a following. Sometimes he’d give them jobs. According to his Facebook page, he studied journalism at UCLA himself, though he did so on a football scholarship.

He was also remarkably candid: in 2009, he told me, Sean, a similarly unknown journalist, that the company didn’t actually need to sell a single unit of his brand-new Razer Mamba wireless mouse at its then-exorbitant price of $130. The point, he said, was to inspire a huge audience of gamers with the innovation, knowing they’d choose other cheaper mice and merchandise from Razer.

A known leftie, he also told me he wished Razer could make a left-handed mouse, but that he didn’t have power as president of the company to make it happen — the board had apparently decided it didn’t make financial sense. A year later, I smiled when I saw Razer release the first left-handed gaming mouse, a mirror-image version of its best-selling DeathAdder.

While Krakoff still advised the company for years as a “President Emeritus,” Razer wasn’t his last act by a long shot. He also founded MindFX Science, a brand that focuses on selling energy drinks and supplements, serving as “a healthy alternative to the highly caffeinated energy drinks and pre-workout products.”

Fitness seemed to be an important part of Krakoff’s life. He played for the Los Angeles Rams for five years in the 1960s. As he grew older, Krakoff said he loved playing tennis, biking, and fitness training. He and his wife, Dr. Patsi Krakoff, even ran a blog focused on fitness and nutrition tips for seniors, and co-wrote a book about the secrets to staying young.

But under the name RM Krakoff, he also had a literary career all his own — writing a dozen books since 2009. After working as a copywriter, Krakoff said he “put his proverbial pen where his mouth was (the ink tasted like shit).” He dabbled in both fiction and nonfiction writing, penning everything from black comedies to sci-fi fantasies. His description of America Unbound: Fighting Demons in a Vanished Democracy is... a lot.

On Krakoff’s Facebook page, he said he would split his time between Jalisco, Mexico and Peoria, Arizona, as he enjoyed being “a sunbird and spending six months a year in each home.” He leaves behind two children, Scott and Robin, and five “very cool” grandchildren. Scott contributed the cover art for most of his novels.

“We are saddened by the passing of Co-Founder and President Emeritus, Robert Krakoff, known by everyone as RazerGuy,” reads a statement from Razer on Twitter. “Robert’s unwavering drive and passion for gaming lives on and continues to inspire all of us.”

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Toy Trade Monthly Issues​​

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Wizards of the Coast Celebrates Pride with New 'Magic: The Gathering' Drop
The Merchant's Anvil -- Miniatures Prices On the Rise
Enjoy an Evening on Krakoa with 'Marvel HeroClix: Marvel Hellfire Gala Premium Collection'
Rolling for Initiative -- Why Kickstarter is Still Problematical and Farewell Jerry Corrick
Retailers: Covid Made It Possible to Increase Sales with Fewer Hours in Comic and Game Stores
WizKids Will Release Two New 'D&D Icons of the Realms: Battle Mats'
Konami Announces 'Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG: 2022 Holiday Box'
Embracer Group Acquires Assets of Square Enix
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News Flash: Maui Announced, Downtown Farmers Market Released
Next Move Games has announced Maui, Blue Orange Games has released Downtown Farmers Market, and Days of Wonder has announced a new standalone Ticket to Ride game.

 

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Founding Editor and Publisher (1998-2020, Retired): Philip Bloom

We are honored to carry on Phil's 22 year legacy and continue the Bloom Report. Phil has been a mensch

and we've loved working with him. Here is a fun and interesting interview with Phil.

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Not only does the Bloom Report give you all the news you need to know... we give you all the news you didn't know you needed to know!" -Phil Bloom

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