April 28 - May 5, 2023
Welcome to Your Weekly News Brief!
Happy Bloomin' Friday!
We are excited to announce Jenna Stirling has joined our team. She comes from ASTRA where she was working with us on the Young Inventor Challenge (YIC). We are still partnering with ASTRA as well as Happy Camper LIVE on Summer Young Inventor Camps. Jenna also brings her skills and experience to POP events, spearheading dynamite new initiatives. Watch for announcements and check out Jenna's interview below - you'll see why we are so excited!
If you have toy and game bits and pieces you aren't using, let Jenna know. She's assembling prototype packs for the young inventor camps. So far she's received everything from thousands of rubber ducks to sofas in the shape of lips. We are loving it and the kids will, too!
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Person of the Week - POP's Jenna Stirling
Toys, Teaching, and the Joy of Play
(Mary) Hi, Jenna! We are so excited that you have joined our POP team! We have a few questions for you so that our readers get to know you (if they don't already from your work in our industry). What was your favorite toy growing up?
Hmmm, tough question. I think my most dominate play personalities are “the collector” and “the explorer” so my favorite toys were probably my collections. I collected Barbies, California Raisins, Mattel Cuties, Muffy Vanderbears, Boxcar Children books, baseball cards, rocks, shells, and arrowheads.
So, how did you find your way into the toy industry?
I entered the toy industry because I was poor. The museum didn’t pay very well, but I absolutely adored it. I started a part-time position as a sales associate for a Learning Express toy store so I could afford to keep teaching. From there I became a buyer for those stores and got my "hands-on" MBA from my mentor William Meredith. I went on to “curate” toys at Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh, NC and during that time I served on the Board of Directors for ASTRA. During the pandemic, I took on a staff position for ASTRA as their memberships and programs specialist, and now I’m thrilled to be with People of Play as their first ever Executive Director.
What are you most excited about in this new position?
I am excited about so many things. Specialty retail, toys that teach and informal education have been my heart throughout my career and POP allows me to serve folks in those spheres. I already have the gears turning on an initiative to bring inventors and retailers together to promote products that I think will be extremely impactful, so stay tuned! Read More!
Person of the Week - TOMY's Lorena Montalvo
Early Career Designer Bringing Her Whole Self to Work
(Mary) Hi Lorena! Less than five years ago you started as an intern at TOMY and then joined full-time as an Assistant Product Designer on Lamaze. How's it going?
It’s been great to say the least! I’ve learned an immense amount working just five years in the industry. I have worked my way up to a Senior Designer position in toy and am now leading projects I’d never thought I’d work on so early in my career! It’s been a very fruitful journey and I can’t wait to see where the road leads me here at TOMY!
You and your design colleagues worked on the new Bebé Fuerte and Yumi Ami lines. Inclusion and celebration of LatinX culture are two themes that run through those lines. What has it meant to you to help develop these products that children will be playing with this fall?
It means the absolute world to me to be able to enrich these products with my knowledge and cultural background. This was a unique opportunity for me to have been able to work on these lines – really dream projects. My managers trusted me to add that sazón the Bebé Fuerte line needed to be truly authentic. From the colors to the patterns, every little detail had a reason.
When I first started at TOMY, I had a goal to bring some sort of diversity to any product line I was working on. Having worked on Yumi Ami and Bebé Fuerte, I can happily say that goal was accomplished. But it doesn’t end here! My hope is to be able to continue to grow the product lines we have with more attention to diversity and inclusion.
Cartoon Lovers, Lexophiles & People in Need of a Smile!
Thank you to the anonymous person who sent this cartoon!
How can you build a house that has a window in four walls but every window faces south?
What do you call a factory that makes OK products? A satisfactory. Thank you, Jerry Cleary, for sharing this lexophile gem!
Quote of the Week...
"Good toys are like good friends, they're always there for you when you need them." - Al Verrecchia, former CEO of Hasbro
Have a cartoon, quote or a joke to share with your colleagues? Send it to me! Mary
Financial and Legal
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) struck out at Meta on Wednesday, alleging that Facebook’s parentco is putting kids at risk and proposing tighter rules to prohibit the techco from profiting from any data it collects from users under the age of 18. The FTC has claimed that Facebook violated two previous orders not to give developers access to kids’ data. The company also “misled parents” by misrepresenting...
Biden Administration will invest $140 million to launch seven new National AI Research Institutes. Ahead of a meeting between VP Kamala Harris and the heads of America's four leading AI tech companies — Alphabet, OpenAI, Anthropic and Microsoft — the Biden Administration announced a sweeping series of planned actions to help mitigate some of the risks that these emerging technologies pose to the American public.
***The above posted after May 5th***
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.
Flybar acquires Kid Trax brand from Pacific Cycle. It’s official: Kid Trax is now part of the Flybar family of companies. Kid Trax manufactures a wide array of highly detailed, battery-powered ride-on toys that are sold at a variety of retailers across North America. Previously operated by Pacific Cycle as a sister brand to Schwinn and Mongoose, Kid Trax’s future was placed into question last fall amid a restructuring effort by...
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,” ...
US interest rates raised to highest level in 16 years. The US central bank has raised interest rates to the highest level in 16 years as it battles to stabilize prices. The Federal Reserve increased its key interest rate by 0.25 percentage points - its 10th hike in 14 months. That pushed its benchmark rate to between 5% and 5.25%, up from near zero in March 2022, although the Fed hinted the rise may be its last one for now.
Meta putting child users at risk, says US regulator. The top US data privacy regulator has accused Meta, the firm that owns Facebook and Instagram, of not putting proper parental controls in place. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also said Meta should be banned from making money from children's data. "The company's recklessness has put young users at risk, and Facebook needs to answer for its failures," it said.
Unity laying off 600 workers in search of "long-term and profitable growth". Unity is laying off 600 employees in a bid to position itself for "long-term and profitable growth." The company announced the job cuts in an SEC filing and said the move represents an 8 percent workforce reduction. The engine maker said that executing its restructuring plan will cost around $26 million, largely due to charges related …,
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DTC lifts Warner Bros. Discovery’s Q1, despite an overall loss. In the lead up to the launch of its Max super-streamer, the media company has earned first-quarter revenues of US$10.7 billion, and its streaming division has posted a profit.
AMC Entertainment saw sales blow past Wall Street forecasts for the March quarter, rising 20% to $954 million. Losses narrowed by $102 million to $235 million, for an adjusted EPS of 17 cents a share, a also ahead of expectations.
***The above posted After May 5th***
Spin Master Q1 23 results beat expectations - says it remains confident to deliver profitable growth as it continues to navigate a “fluid environment”. Revenue was $271.4m, a decrease of -36.0% from $424.2m. Constant Currency Revenue was $275.6m, a decrease of -35.0%, from $424.2m, while revenue declined by -46.9% in Toys and -7.0% in Digital Games, partially offset by a +69.4% increase in Entertainment.
FUNKO FACES ‘RIGHT-SIZING” AS DIRECT-TO-CONSUMER BUSINESS SPIKES 61% DESPITE Q1 SLOWDOWN. Net sales decreased 18% to $251.9 million vs. $308 million in the Q1 of 2022 as Funko battled the same challenging retail environment that the greater toy industry has faced this year.
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.
Trends, Market Research, and State of the Industry
***The above posted After May 5th***
Stories, Comments, and Advice
Western companies are desperately looking for a backup to China as the world’s factory floor, a strategy widely termed “China plus one.” India is making a concerted push to be the plus one. It scored a coup with the decision by Apple to significantly expand iPhone production in India, including expediting the manufacturing of its most advanced model.
Activision, Once Dinged for ‘Frat Boy’ Culture, Hires More Women. Activision Blizzard one of several video-game companies accused of gender discrimination in recent years, said it has made progress in hiring more female employees. Rival Riot Games Inc. has also reported gains. Santa Monica, California-based Activision said employees who self report as women or nonbinary increased to about 26% of the company’s total...
Roblox Lures Users With Improved Metaverse, But They Are Not Dropping Much Cash. Roblox has been successful in drawing new users, increasing revenue as the game-oriented metaverse improves its user experience. Now, as the company prepares to announce Q1 results, the challenge is to figure out a way to make those sales profitable.
***The above posted after May 5th***
Rick Derr – Letter from America. This month, toy store owner Rick Derr updates Toy World readers on the latest from indie toy retail in the USA, as well as upcoming trade shows and trips. After 20 years working at A.C. Nielsen/D&B Research Company, Rick opened the first Learning Express Toys franchise in the Chicago area in 1996, and then became a sub-franchiser, opening nine more stores. Although leaving the corporate...
John Baulch, Toyworld - Out and about …it’s the Friday Blog! As we come to the end of another four day week, with yet another to follow next week (cue the infamous meme of that lady saying “what, another one?”), I suspect people fall into two very distinct camps: those who are relishing the additional days off, and those who are wondering how on earth they’ll get all their work done with so many disruptions.
‘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.
LEGO sparks outrage over its new gender-neutral collection as company is accused of forcing 'woke' ideology on Australian children. LEGO has been accused of forcing 'woke' ideology onto Australian children after the co. revealed its new line of gender neutral toys. The toy giant will release their Lego Dreamzzz collection that will include a Pegasus horse, a blue and pink bunny called 'Bunchu' and a 'nightmare shark ship'.
Bed Bath & Beyond, Toys ‘R’ Us and RadioShack all shut down for the same reason. In the 1980s, a new type of specialty retail chain started to emerge: “category killers.”The stores’ powerhouse business model was aimed at giving shoppers access to every different size, style and color of a product imaginable – all in one place and at reduced prices. Category killers, which began to dominate entire merchandise categories...
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...
History and Nostalgia
Magic Lite from Hasbro (1969). In the late 1960s, Hasbro released Magic Lite, a creative toy that allowed children to design using a psychedelic mix of kaleidoscopic patterns and multi-colored light. Magic Lite was part of the company’s Adventures in Light toy line, including the iconic Lite-Brite, Astrolite, Light-Up Color-Writer, and Trace ‘n Lite. Operating on a single 25-watt light bulb, Magic Lite was desktop-sized, had a plastic...
Tornado Bowl from Ideal. Released in 1971 by Ideal, the Tornado Bowl game had players battle the frenzied forces of a tornado inside a tabletop arena. Tornado Bowl was similar in play pattern to the company’s Battling Tops game designed by Eddy Goldfarb and released in 1968. Both games had molded blue plastic playing surfaces, scoreboards along the edge of the game, and spinning tops providing...
7 famous toys that defined the 20th century. Toys were influenced by the society in which they were created, and in turn, shaped the evolution of the toys that succeeded them. Toys opened our imaginations and influenced our desires for how we wanted to spend our childhood. In some ways, it’s possible to assume that the famous toys many played with influenced and helped shape the adults they became later in life. .
Licensing and Entertainment
Top Trumps USA announced today a Winter 2023 debut of MONOPOLY: Park City Edition under license from global branded entertainment company Hasbro. In the Park City Edition, the Atlantic City squares from Boardwalk to Park Place will be replaced with Park City landmarks and destinations. The Community Chest and Chance cards are also designed to represent Park City.
Burger King Celebrates Spider-Man With Red Whoppers. If you step into a Burger King this month and your spider-sense starts tingling, there's a good reason. The chain has teamed up with the forthcoming film sequel Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse to offer a unique alternate-universe take on its most famous hamburger.
SEVEN signs second licensed agreement with Hasbro, Inc. to develop the world’s first Transformers indoor entertainment centre in Saudi Arabia. SEVEN will develop and operate three Transformers attractions in Saudi Arabia, with the first set to open in SEVEN's entertainment destination in Al Hamra, Riyadh.
Warner Bros. Discovery is saying “I love you” to Barney, picking up Mattel’s new CG-animated Barney’s World series for a 2024 launch on Cartoon Network’s Cartoonito preschool block and its Max streamer. The show is part of Mattel’s franchise relaunch strategy for the iconic dinosaur, best known for headlining the live-action PBS series Barney & Friends from 1992 to 2010.
***The above posted after May 5th***
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 Force is strong with Hasbro. This week, the company hosted a fanstream on YouTube to reveal a dozen new items in honor of Star Wars Day. Highlights include a Black Series Axe Woves electronic helmet, a Luke Skywalker & Grogu pack addition to The Vintage Collection, and new Black Series figures from The Clone Wars. This is the way.
Moxie and Co is pleased to announce a new partnership with the Romare Bearden Foundation in respect of its Romare Bearden artwork, illustrations, prints and commercial designs for extensions into consumer goods, electronics, home fashion, apparel, toys and all branded merchandise and promotional tie-ins.
Power up those shields, princess: Boba Fett is coming to Star Wars Villainous. Ravensburger, acclaimed publisher behind award-winning board games and high-quality toys and puzzles, has announced that the galaxy’s most infamous bounty hunter is the cover star of Star Wars Villainous: Scum and Villainy, the second installment in the Star Wars Villainous line. Ravensburger has also launched Star Wars Villainous...
JAKKS Pacific and Disguise ink deal with Rooster Teeth for ‘Bendy’. JAKKS Pacific is adding a new video game license to its collection for the fall. JAKKS Pacific and Disguise, its costume division, have inked a licensing deal with Rooster Teeth and Joey Drew Studios to bring the Bendy video game series, which includes Bendy and the Ink Machine and Bendy and the Dark Revival, to costumes, action figures, plush, playsets, and .
BOOM! Studios, under license by MGM and in collaboration with Michael B. Jordan’s production company, Outlier Society, and Chartoff-Winkler, is proud to announce an upcoming four-issue limited comic book series based on the Creed franchise. Creed III’s director, producer and star Michael B. Jordan serves as the creative director on the new story. He joins superstar co-writers LaToya Morgan (Dark Blood, ...
Zotac Gaming x ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ global campaign. Zotac Technology Limited has announced its gaming brand, Zotac Gaming, has partnered with “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” to launch a global “Power the Hero in You” campaign. Fans can participate in a mini-game scavenger hunt to win in a grand lucky draw and follow Zotac’s social media platforms to win movie-themed gear.
Dole Food Co. enters collectibles market with Shopkins Real Littles. Dole Food Co. has teamed up with Moose Toys to grow its licensing program. Earlier this year, Moose Toys unveiled new a line of Shopkins Real Littles inspired by 10 Dole fruit and vegetable characters. Among the characters are a mini banana and pineapple, a strawberry, blueberries, mandarins, grapes, romaine lettuce and a carrot, a chipotle & cheddar...
Fred Rogers Productions and 9 Story Brands inked a new licensing partnership for the beloved television series Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood with the company carter joey, which makes outdoor gear for kids such as backpacks, patch packs, and adventure blankets. “Carter joey will help families play-out the learning themes of the series in their own backyards and bring the important themes...
GBH partners with Moxie for Licensing Expo brands launch. There’s even more excitement coming to Licensing Expo, with brands from public media creator GBH hitting the show this June. GBH recently appointed brand management company Moxie & Co. as its exclusive worldwide licensing agent. Moxie will focus on GBH’s general audience and kids’ TV series, including Molly of Denali and Work It Out Wombats...
LEGO unveils Gabby’s Dollhouse construction line. The LEGO Group and Universal Products & Experiences are launching Gabby’s Dollhouse in brick form for the first time. The new LEGO Gabby’s Dollhouse collection includes four sets inspired by DreamWorks’ Gabby’s Dollhouse. The collection features iconic moments, characters, and scenes from the preschool series including Gabby, her cat friends, her dollhouse...
Crunchyroll, the int'l brand offering fans the ultimate anime experience, is kicking off ‘Ani-May’ with global retail and digital celebrations, including a variety of consumer products celebrating fan-favorite series in specialty retailer Hot Topic in the United States, Piticas in Brazil, and FNAC in Spain and France, alongside special activations within the online Crunchyroll Store just to name a few.
Pop! Retro Chuck E. Cheese First Edition announced to surprise fans. Chuck E. Cheese, the beloved family entertainment and restaurant brand, announced it’s first-of-its-kind, Pop! Retro Chuck E. Cheese vinyl figure. Part of the brand’s growing nostalgia memorabilia line, fans of the iconic brand will be able to get their hands on this collector’s item this summer.
Marvel’s beloved ‘Band of Misfits’ coming to stores. Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 premieres in theaters nationwide next Friday, May 5 and retailers are offering a wide variety of toys, collectibles, and more inspired by Star-Lord, Groot, Drax, Mantis, and the rest of the Guardians. Marvel Legends Series Star-Lord, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 from Hasbro is a poseable, collectible 6-inch figure...
Banijay Kids & Family announces video game based on ‘Totally Spies!’. Banijay Kids & Family has announced a deal with game developer and publisher, Microids, for a new title based on Zodiak Kids & Family France’s animated series, “Totally Spies!,” slated for release in 2024 on consoles and PCs. The “Totally Spies!” video game will offer players the opportunity to step into the shoes of the three secret agents...
People of Play
Kirk Kristiansen family passes The LEGO Group to a new generation. The Chairman of the Board position for KIRKBI A/S, the family-owned holding company that owns 75% of the LEGO Group, has passed from father to son. Thomas Kirk Kristiansen takes over the position from his father, Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, who spent 50 years in the position. “The active family ownership of the LEGO brand and KIRKBI’s activities has...
A former Hasbro executive is selling his Tampa Bay mansion for $15 million, and it comes with a rooftop putting green. Owned by former Hasbro executive David Hargreaves and his wife Linda. The 6,590-sq-ft home overlooks New Pass in Lido Shores, and features five bedrooms and eight bathrooms, as well as floor-to-ceiling glass walls, a 60-foot lap pool, a sauna, gym, elevator, a deep water dock, and a rooftop putting...
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...
The “Power Kid Podcast,” host Phil Albritton of Power Kid Design welcomes Talia Filippelli, founder of Starr Therapy, to the show. Filippelli is a Genius of Play Ambassador, an award-winning “Top Doc,” and has served as an advisor for Sesame Workshop. Most recently, she developed The Genius of Play’s Emotional Wellness Playbook, a free resource that provides parents and caregivers with play-based, screen-free activities...
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.
IDW Publishing revealed plans to change its corporate structure with two new executive appointments and three promotions. In efforts to maximize brand awareness, innovation, and growth, the company appointed Davidi Jonas as CEO and Joshua Frankel as Chief Development Officer. IDW Publishing’s promotions include Mark Doyle and Tara McCrillis taking on the roles of Co-Publishers, Amber Huerta becoming the Chief Financial Officer, and Jamie S. Rich taking on the helm of Editor-in-Chief.
Companies and Brands
For the first time in 14 years, Nickelodeon has a new look. The network will spend the rest of 2023 rolling out a new brand identity and refreshed on-air look that’s designed to invoke nostalgia and return to its history. “It was time for us to really look at the brand, and look at our audience, and talk with our audience and revisit all the pieces of Nickelodeon,” Sabrina Caluori, evp of global kids and family marketing...
Konami Digital Entertainment B.V. has announced that the new Core Booster set Cyberstorm Access is available now for the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG in Europe and Oceania. Cyberstorm Access has a huge haul of powerful new monsters for players’ Extra Deck, headlined by a brand-new Link-6 evolution of Firewall Dragon. This 3500 ATK behemoth rewards players for combining classic Cyberse Link Summoning...
Why Mattel Television has its sights locked on more live-action content. The studio is aiming to reach parents who have drifted away from its products with aspirational offerings, says Mattel’s Phil Breman. Since Mattel Television launched in 2016, it has specialized in producing 2D- and CG-animated projects for streamers, YouTube and linear TV, including Deepa & Anoop for Netflix and a new Thomas & Friends...
***The above posted after May 5th***
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.
Rachael Simpson-Jones caught up with Zuru general manager UK & Ireland, Will Collinson, about the company’s growth plans and why it continues to win over consumers. Zuru, one of the fastest growing toy companies in the world, entered 2023 as the UK’s No.7 supplier and is enjoying continued stellar performances from brands including X-Shot, Rainbocorns, Smashers, 5 Surprise and Sparkle Girlz.
Significant transformation at Hasbro. Following a challenging few years, Hasbro is undergoing a significant transformation, focusing on fewer brands, an enhanced consumer experience and a simplified business model. Toy World sat down with the man brought in as part of the team overseeing the reinvention of Hasbro, Joao Nielsen Sebastian, president EMEA, LATAM & Asia Pacific, to find out about his vision...
Mattel shares all on the Year of Dolls. Toy World chats with Lisa McKnight, EVP, Global head of Barbie & Dolls Portfolio at Mattel, about what’s in store in the months ahead. “We couldn’t be more excited about 2023,” Lisa told us over lunch at the Mattel stand in Nuremberg back in February. The place is absolutely heaving: it’s almost hard to hear what Lisa has to say above the hubbub of visitors, all vying enthusiastically...
Marvin’s Magic has inspired millions of magicians throughout its 35-year history and in the past weeks there have been two stand-out achievements from Marvin fans. On the opening episode of the new series of Britain’s Got Talent, 13 year-old Cillian O’Connor, from County Meath in Ireland, wowed the judges with a confident performance, securing his place in the semi-finals with four ‘Yes’ votes from Simon...
Konami Digital Entertainment B.V. has announced that the new Core Booster set Cyberstorm Access is available now for the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG in Europe and Oceania. Cyberstorm Access has a huge haul of powerful new monsters for players’ Extra Deck, headlined by a brand-new Link-6 evolution of Firewall Dragon. This 3500 ATK behemoth rewards players for combining classic Cyberse Link Summoning tactics...
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.
PlanToys, the global leader in sustainable toy manufacturing, announced a partnership with Toronto based startup Beeja May to have them as the preferred partner of the manufacturer to buy and sell second-hand toys throughout Canada. With this partnership, Beeja May will ensure continued life for PlayToys’ items that children no longer play with. Beeja May and PlanToys will be creating a network of parents...
Moonbug Entertainment has announced a refreshed new look for the company’s 24/7 linear channel, Moonbug Kids, and a new name – now simply Moonbug – in line with its wider corporate rebrand. The new Moonbug channel identity aims to convey the same energy and fun as its colourful shows and characters. While streaming and content on-demand continue to gain popularity, linear channels are still relevant.
Schwinn Encourages Kids to Grab Childhood by the Handlebars with ‘Let’s Play Bikes’ Campaign. Unstructured outdoor playtime among kids is drastically declining. A 2022 study by Child Mind Institute reports that the average American child spent only 4-7 minutes per day playing outside, and more than 7 hours per day in front of a screen – despite nearly endless proven benefits that the outdoors can provide kids’...
Mighty Jaxx reveals latest Line Friends collectible. Mighty Jaxx has announced the upcoming release of the all-new XXRAY+ Brown & Sally from Line Friends. A group of characters originally created for the messaging app giant Line, Line Friends has taken the retail world by storm with tits licensed physical merchandise. The brand has previously collaborated with stars including the phenomenally popular Korean pop …
Gaming: Digital, Video, Hardware, and Development
MGA Entertainment’s ‘Rainbow High’ comes to PC and consoles this Fall. MGA Entertainment (MGA) and Outright Games revealed plans for a new video game, Rainbow High: Runway Rush, inspired by the Netflix and YouTube series Rainbow High. In this puzzle adventure game that focuses on all things art and creativity, fans can play as the six main characters — Ruby, Poppy, Sunny, Jade, Skyler, and Violet...
The Online Pokémon Trading Card Game apocalypse is coming In June. The Pokémon Company is officially migrating its online trading card ecosystem to its new app, Pokémon Trading Card Game Live, on June 8. This means if you’ve been playing the digital card game on Pokémon Trading Card Game Online, which has been the platform for official online play since 2011, you’ll have to make the switch...
The ‘Come Dine With Me’ video game: A modern metaverse masterpiece? ITV Studios’ MultiStory Media and metaverse creative agency, Metavision, have partnered with Channel 4 to launch the reality cooking show, “Come Dine With Me,” into the video game and metaverse community. The idea is to gamify the show’s widely beloved format.
PlayStation 5 nears 40 million lifetime sales, and Sony thinks it could become a record-breaker. The PlayStation sold 19.1 million units during the past fiscal year to close in on 40 million lifetime sales. According to the Sony's fiscal report for the year ended March 31, 2023 (FY22), PlayStation 5 hardware sales hit 6.3 million units during the fourth quarter, taking annual sales to 19.1 million units.
Mega Man's Battle Network remasters sell 1 million copies in 2 weeks. Capcom announced its Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection has sold 1 million copies. The two-volume remasters of the Game Boy Advance (and later Nintendo Gamecube) Battle Network sub-series from the 2000s released on April 14 for Nintendo Switch, PC, and PlayStation 4.
Hoyoverse's Honkai: Star Rail had 20 million downloads on launch day. Honkai: Star Rail reportedly hit 20 million downloads within a day of its April 26 release. According to industry analyst Daniel Ahmad and Chinese social media website Weibo, the newest title from Hoyoverse (formerly MiHoYo) is off to a strong start. By comparison, Genshin Impact had a reported 17 million downloads in its first day of release back..
Highlighted Press Releases
Ready to Take the Stringamajig Challenge? DRAW BIG LAUGHS WITH ONLY A STRING AND YOUR IMAGINATION IN FIRESIDE GAMES’ PARTY GAME. Austin, TX (May 11, 2023) – Next time the gang comes over to play a game, challenge them to communicate only by animating a string! That’s the hilarious premise for Stringamajig ($19.95) from Fireside Games. Think of it as a little Pictionary™ mixed with a little charades. This device-free game is recommended for players ages 13 and beyond where players must talk or, better yet, shout as they guess what is being communicated wordlessly! Artistic ability is not required but knowing your players and how they think, abstractly, might be your secret weapon.
LITTLE KIDS, INC. ADDS SOME GET UP AND GET MOVIN’ PLAY TO THEIR SUMMER LINE-UP OF BUBBLE TOYS! The Toy Insider’s Top Summer Toys 2023 Includes Balloobles, Now On Amazon, And Fubbles Light-Up Bubble Torch At Specialty Toy Stores & Fat Brain Toys. Seekonk, MA (May 8, 2023) –Expect to hear the word Balloobles ($29.99) this season as kids delight in inflating a balloon-like bubble machine that blows continuous streams of bubbles featuring favorite friends like Bluey, Minnie, Paw Patrol or Spider-Man! This huge inflatable can be played two ways – handheld, using the bubble tube handle – or tabletop, for the perfect centerpiece at your next party using the Amazon-exclusive bubble base.
EVERYBODY’S DOIN’ A BRAND-NEW GAME NOW COME ON BABY DO THE LOCO-MOTION. Crazy Trains™ Has Families Rolling The Dice To Chug Along (Hopefully) To NYC As They Engineer A Way To Stay On Track With Plenty of “Loco” Obstacles! Miami, FL (May 5, 2023) — Punch your ticket to ride the rails from the safety of the kitchen table in this truly crazy Family Game Night board game called, aptly, Crazy Trains™: The Game of Loco-Motion! ($24.95). Along the way a new generation is introduced to traveling by train with vocabulary words ranging from Railroad Crossing and Collisions to Train Depot and Arrival Track. No two games are ever played the same as parents or grandparents compete...
***The above posted after May 5th***
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).
Safety and Counterfeiting
Diamond Visions recalls Plush Monkey toys due to choking hazard. This recall involves Screaming Plush Monkeys in brown, blue and pink. The monkeys are 23 inches long and make a scream-like sound when the front paw is pressed. The front paws of the plush monkey have Velcro so that the monkey’s arms can be wrapped around a consumer’s neck. Model TM-3280 and Diamond Visions, Inc. are printed on a tag on the monkey. Independent hardware and variety stores nationwide from September 2021 through November 2022 for about $6.
Associations, Shows, Awards, Events, and Festivals
The World Video Game Hall of Fame in Rochester, N.Y., announced its 2023 inductees. One is The Last of Us, the zombie apocalypse game that's now an HBO series. Barbie Fashion Designer was a rare attempt to market a game for girls. These games join Wii Sports and also Computer Space. That's an arcade game that used the very latest in fancy graphics as they existed in 1971.
***The above posted after May 5th***
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...
May Mayhem will be taking place throughout the whole month of May and the BTHA is encouraging as many members from the toy industry as possible to get involved to raise money in any way they can for this year’s main Toy Trust beneficiary, Whizz-Kidz. You can do anything you like from physical sporting challenges to bake sales, raffles or quizzes, and the Toy Trust is encouraging as many people...
ICTI Ethical Toy Program (IETP) is expanding its geographic goals. IETP announced its plans to support 30,000 kids by expanding its Family-Friendly Factory (FFF) program outside of China for the first time. After securing funding from key partners such as LEGO and Spin Master, the FFF program will begin operations in Vietnam later this year and in Mexico in 2024.
The winners of the B&LLAs 2023 industry awards were announced Thursday 27 April at a glittering awards event, held at the Royal Lancaster London. Hosted by Matt Forde, the brand licensing community’s annual get-together, was attended by some 450 retailers, licensees and brand owners who shared in the joy as the worthy winners made their way to the stage to collect their trophies.
The Genius of Play celebrates Mental Health Awareness Month with Emotional Wellness Playbook. As part of Mental Health Awareness Month, The Genius of Play encourages parents and educators to help kids get in touch with their feelings with the Emotional Wellness Playbook. The Toy Association’s nonprofit initiative developed the digital play-based activity book in partnership with mental health expert and …”
Toymaster May Show fast approaching. The hugely popular Toymaster May Show returns to the Majestic Hotel in Harrogate from Tuesday 16th to Thursday 18th May. The largest trade show in the UK & Ireland dedicated to independent toy, gift and model/hobby retailers, the three-day trade event is beloved for its laid-back atmosphere and easy access to top toy suppliers and leading indies alike.
Spielwarenmesse is planning a new format for its PressPreview. We’ve spoken previously about the 2024 change in the Spielwarenmesse dates, as the fair is planned to run from Tuesday to Saturday, Jan. 30-Feb. 3, a switch from the previous iterations which ran Wednesdays to Sundays. This change in weekdays will also affect the planning for PressPreview. Rather than the usual press event taking place on the Tuesday...
In honor of National Foster Care Month, the Marine Toys for Tots Program is expanding its efforts beyond the holiday season to deliver toys to children living in foster care. The program’s initiative, Champions for Those in Foster Care, will distribute toys, books, and other gifts to children in foster care through local organizations across the country. More than 3,000 kids will receive gifts in the following areas...
Games Workshop announces Golden Demon winners from Warhammer Fest 2023. Games Workshop announced the winners of the Golden Demon competition from Warhammer Fest 2023, which happened from April 29 to May 1, 2023 at the Manchester Central Convetion Complex in Manchester, U.K.The best of the best Warhammer painters submitted their models for judgment during the UK leg of GW painting competition.
RIP - Rest in Play - Remembering Those that have Passed
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Frank Kozik - Chief Creative Officer of collectibles company Kidrobot, Iconic Graphic Artist Behind Album Covers Including the Offpsring’s ‘Americana,’ Dies at 61. Kozik’s death was confirmed by his wife Sharon, who did not give a cause of death but said his passing was “unexpected.”
In a statement she said: “We are devastated to inform you that Frank Kozik passed away unexpectedly this past Saturday. Frank was a man larger than himself, an icon in each of the genres he worked in. He dramatically changed every industry he was a part of. He was a creative force of nature. We are so beyond lucky and honored to have been part of his journey and he will be missed beyond what words could ever express.”
“He loved his wife, his cats, classic muscle cars, mentoring others and Disneyland. His forceful presence will be missed by all who knew him. His legacy, like all great masters, will love on through his art and our memories of him. More info on a memorial service will come soon. For now, we ask you please respect our privacy during this trying time.”
Born on Jan. 9, 1962 in Madrid, Spain, Kozik spent his formative years growing up under Spain’s fascist dictator Franco. As a teenager, he moved to the U.S., living first in Sacramento with his father before joining the Air Force, which saw him stationed in Austin.
A self-taught artist, in his late teens he began creating artwork for friends’ bands, starting with black and white flyers pasted to telephone poles. He soon moved into concert posters, including large silkscreen prints, for bands such as Pearl Jam, The White Stripes, The Beastie Boys, Green Day, Neil Young and Nirvana. He also directed a number of music videos, among them Soundgarden’s “Pretty Noose.”
Kozik eventually started his own record label, Man’s Ruin Records, releasing over 200 singles and albums by artists including the Sex Pistols and Queens of the Stone Age (whose debut single was released through Man’s Ruin Records). Kozik also designed most of the artwork.
In the early 1990s Kozik closed his label to focus on other media, including toys and collectibles. He became chief creative office of collectibles company Kidrobot, designing over 500 limited edition figures including his iconic Labbit characters (vinyl smoking rabbits) for which he collaborated with licensees such as D.C. and Marvel to create superhero-inspired versions. Read More...
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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- GAMA Expo News: Stone Blade Entertainment Regains Game Rights
- Steamforged Picks Up 'Altar Quest' Game and IP
- 'Magic: The Gathering' 'Secret Lair' Spring Superdrop 2023 Now on Preorder
- Funko Plots a 'Scream' Game
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News Flash: Queen by Midnight, New EXIT Game Announced
Darrington Press has announced a new board game, the next game in the EXIT series has been revealed, and Funko Games and Hasbro are releasing new Cranium games.
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The ‘Wes Anderson directs Star Wars’ AI art fad has its first full movie trailer
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