April 7 - 14, 2023
Welcome to Your Weekly News Brief!
Happy Bloomin' Friday!
Congratulations to Tim Kilpin on being named Hasbro’s President; Toy, Licensing, and Entertainment! It is a grand slam homerun - he has held the title of ‘President’ at Mattel, Activision, PlayMonster and now Hasbro. Many of you may feel like you know Tim from his many insightful, heartfelt, and entertaining thoughts he has shared as a columnist in our Bloom Report – his musings were widely read and shared. I hope he’ll still have time now and again to write more columns. I just went back to reread some of them and couldn’t pick a favorite, although the Christmas Elf still makes me chuckle every time I read it! You can read them in his POP profile.
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Industry Commentary - Christopher Byrne
The Toy Guy Shares His Thoughts on our Brave New Toy Industry
The toy industry is undergoing monumental change—in a scale not seen since the 1950s. Like any thriving industry, from the beginning of the 20th century when the U.S. toy industry was established, it has never “stood still.” However, the post-World War II years (And, arguably the Korean War, which ended in 1953.) revolutionized manufacturing, retailing, and marketing. Most significantly, the Eisenhower years established young people as a powerful economic force (Thanks, Boomers), increased leisure time, and through the miracle of television created a commonality of experience nationwide that had never been seen before. The toy industry that emerged from the late 1950s up until the late 1980s remained largely unchanged during that time. Sure, there were computer chips, VCRs, cable television, expansion of children’s programming, big box stores and toy chains (come and gone), offshore manufacturing, and other developments during those years, but the fundamental processes by which toys were developed, marketed, and sold remained fairly constant. An entire generation of people of play got very used to these established business models.
That’s all changed in 2023. Well, not all. Kids are still kids. Media still works. People still buy stuff. Santa still flies on December 24. Yet the speed with which practices have evolved is comparatively head-spinning, and that dynamism shows no sign of slowing down. What worked five years ago is virtually arcane now, and what’s working now may not in 18 months. If it’s not enough to keep you up at night, it should be enough to keep you on your toes. Read More...
Industry Commentary - Don Wilder
Toyful Wisdom: Top 20 Quotations from Legendary Toy and Game Designers of the Past 20 Years
"A toy has no gender and no idea of whether a girl or boy is playing with it." - Andrea Barthello, co-founder of ThinkFun
Barthello's words remind us that toys are for everyone, transcending gender and societal norms. With games like Rush Hour and Gravity Maze, ThinkFun challenges us all to think, well, fun
"It's through play that we find our own identity and voice." - Tim Walsh, toy historian and inventor of the board game Blurt!
Walsh's Blurt!, a fast-paced game of word recall, helps us find our voices, quite literally, in the chaotic world of wordplay.
"In play, we can be whoever we want to be." - Eric Lang, prolific board game designer
Lang's diverse range of board games, from Blood Rage to Marvel Champions, offers players the chance to explore countless characters and universes, igniting our imaginations.
"When you design a toy, you're designing an experience, a memory that will last a lifetime." - Ruth Handler, co-founder of Mattel and creator of Barbie
Handler's iconic Barbie has inspired generations of children, providing them with an outlet for creativity, self-expression, and storytelling.
Industry Commentary - Rachele Harmuth
MESH SKILLS: PROBLEM SOLVING - Post Three of Six in Series
Thinkfun turns their focus to the global youth mental health crisis and how play can make all the difference in protecting and strengthening children and teens. The company’s new initiative brings together stakeholders from all over the toys and games industry with the challenge: how do we build MESH (Mental, Emotional and Social Health) skills through play?
In this bi- weekly column for The Bloom Report, we will look into the different areas of this initiative in depth. This week we share an overview of the initiative.
Mental, emotional and social health requires the ability to navigate change. Change comes at kids in predictable and unpredictable ways that can cause “problems” - moments or challenges they need to find their way through in order to be healthy and grow. Problem solving is a core skill that strengthens a child’s mental health in the near and long term.
Problem-solving requires practice. Most adults find it safer and faster to help kids by showing them solutions or jumping in to fix a problem themselves (and it is faster.) However, watching someone practice a skill does not build confidence or competence, therefore it is essential that kids experience solving problems for themselves. READ MORE...
Cartoon Lovers, Lexophiles & People in Need of a Smile!
Thank you Mike McKittrick for this week's cartoon! Oldie, but "Goodie"!
Thank you Jerry Cleary for this Lexophile gem...
The Roman emperor's wife hates playing hide and seek because wherever she goes, Julius Caesar.
Quote of the Week...
You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have. - Maya Angelou
Do you have a cartoon or a joke to share with your colleagues? Send it to me at email@example.com! Can't wait to see what you've got!
Financial and Legal
Sega and Rovio have agreed a deal for the former to acquire the latter for £625m in a move that will strengthen Sega’s position in the gaming industry by bringing Angry Birds into its portfolio, which already includes the powerhouse brand Sonic the Hedgehog. Reports indicate the deal will also give Sega the ability to bolster its gaming IPs by moving them into the mobile space.
France’s Mediawan has acquired a majority stake in Amsterdam-based Submarine, which owns one of the country’s largest animation studios and produces films and TV shows for both children and adults. Submarine’s kids library includes Apollo 10 1⁄2: A Space Age Childhood (pictured), a coming-of-age film that launched on Netflix last year; and in-development projects like 2D-animated series Pol The Pirate Mouse...
Spanish TV conglom Squirrel Media has signed a binding letter of intent to buy Mondo TV Studios. Under the agreement, Mondo TV Studios, also based in Spain, will become part of Squirrel, which is the country’s third-largest TV operator with advertising, content and telecom companies in its holdings. Squirrel is set to acquire 74.24% of Mondo TV Studios, which provides animation service in addition to producing and...
***The above posted after April 14th***
F.B.I. Arrests National Guardsman in Leak of Classified Documents in gaming group. Airman First Class Jack Douglas Teixeira was taken into custody to face charges of leaking classified documents after federal authorities said he had posted batches of sensitive intelligence to an online gaming chat group, called Thug Shaker Central.
David Zaslav on Potential Writers Strike: We’re Hopeful For Solution That’s “Fair to All Parties”. The president and CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery has been singled out by writers as being one of the highest-paid executives in Hollywood at a time when writers say many are fighting for a sustainable career.
Mood Bears secures Dragons Den investment. Joanna Proud of Mood Bears was the first applicant to secure investment from all five dragons on the show. In her pitch, Joanna asked for a £20,000 investment for a 25% share of her company. She told the dragons that she came up with the idea for the Mood Bears range in 2019 while struggling with her own mental health.
Twitter Inc. has ceased to be an independent company after merging with a newly formed shell firm called X Corp. driving speculation about what Elon Musk intends for the social media platform. Twitter “no longer exists” after being merged with X Corp., according to an April 4 document submitted in a California court for a lawsuit filed against the company and its former chief executive officer, Jack Dorsey, last
Essex police examine gollywog doll pub landlord’s ‘racist’ Facebook posts. Officers to look at comments by Christopher Ryley, who apparently joked about Mississippi lynchings next to doll images. Police investigating an alleged hate crime over the display of golly dolls in an Essex pub are to examine online messages by the pub’s landlord in which he apparently joked about Mississippi lynchings alongside an image of the racist dolls.
Google fined $32 million in Korea over game exclusivity requirements. Google has been fined $32 million by a South Korean trade regulator for blocking the release of mobile games on a rival platform. As reported by Reuters, the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) said that Google sought to become dominant in the region by requiring developers to make their mobile games exclusive to Google Play in exchange for...
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Box Office: ‘Super Mario Bros.’ Opens to Stupendous $204.6M in U.S., Record $375.6M Globally. The movie scored the top global launch ever for an animated pic, and the second-best ever domestically. Ben Affleck's adult-skewing drama 'Air' opened to $20.2 million
Trends, Market Research, and State of the Industry
***The above posted after April 14th***
Stories, Comments, and Advice
John Baulch, Toy World - A blast from the past …it’s the Friday Blog! I trust you all had a wonderful Easter break, and I very much hope that trading over the Easter holidays has lived up to expectations. In our neck of the woods, we have had just about every kind of weather imaginable this week (from getting sunburn on an Easter Sunday walk to a nasty sleet storm on Wednesday), so whether you are a retailer who believes...
April 13 is National Scrabble Day recognizing the game that is played worldwide but used to be made right here on Long Island when gamemaker Selchow and Righter purchased the rights to produce the famous word game in 1952. So, in celebration of National Scrabble Day, which honestly we think should be every day, we present some crazy and historical facts about Scrabble!
Musicians Dressed as Barbie, From Nicki Minaj to Trixie Mattel. Barbie has been a longtime inspiration in pop culture, ever since the first doll revolutionized the toy industry back in 1959. In celebration of the upcoming Barbie film, we’ve compiled a list of musicians who have dressed up as the doll at one point or another in their careers...
Snoopy Look-alike Bayley the Mini Sheepadoodle Is Winning the Hearts of the Internet. With a stark white face, an inky black nose, and black ears to match, Bayley the mini sheepadoodle bears an uncanny resemblance to the iconic cartoon dog Snoopy. The one-year-old's incredibly expressive face caught the eye of animal lovers on social media, and the American pup's Instagram following has skyrocketed to more...
***The above posted after tBR stated sending April 14th***
The purpose of play — for children, monkeys, rats or meerkats — has proved surprisingly hard to pin down. When a dog chases a ball or a child adjudicates relationship disputes in doll-land, something important and meaningful is clearly happening in their minds, says Laura Schulz, a cognitive scientist at the MIT in Cambridge. “Play has a lot of peculiar and fascinating properties,” she says. “It’s totally fundamental to learning...
A Monopoly game escalated into a fight with a samurai sword that left 2 men in the hospital. Monopoly players in Belgium got into a fight with a neighbor who was angry about the noise levels. The neighbor's son brought out a Japanese katana sword and began fighting with a player. Both men were injured, with the sword owner sustaining a deep artery cut, per reports.
If your battery is running low, be aware that juicing up your electronic device at free USB port charging stations, such as those found near airport gates, in hotels and other travel-friendly locations, could have unfortunate consequences. You could become a victim of "juice jacking," a new cyber-theft tactic. Cybersecurity experts have warned that criminals can load malware onto public USB charging stations to maliciously access electronic devices while they are being charged.
Argentina has program that teaches game design to prisoners and helps them release simple titles. It has operated in three prison units in Argentina, where prisoners take part in weekly game development workshops. They learn the basics of storytelling, programming, game design, sound design, and other skills needed to create their own projects.
Sonny Angel figurines from Japan have spurred a passionate collector base. Sonny Angel is the name of a fictitious 2-year-old cherub designed to be a tiny companion for working women in their mid-20s dealing with the stresses of adulthood. He was created by Toru Soeya, a Japanese toy designer who lent his nickname “Sonny” to the character.
JEREMY PADAWER, Chief Brand Officer, Jazwares: THE FIVE REQUIREMENTS OF VISION IN A TREND-BASED CATEGORY. Vision requires EVOLUTION or CHANGE. There is no static vision in a world constantly evolving around an organization. Sameness over time leads to stagnation and decline. 2. Vision requires KNOW-HOW. Know-how isn’t necessarily experience. Know-how is the ability to execute with the experience...
Groundbreaking kids’ series A Kind of Spark is staffed by neurodivergent talent and treats its lead character like almost no other on TV. It’s cool, fun and powerful. Never before has there been a cool, edgy kids TV series that can attest to hiring neurodivergent actors, performing a script adapted from a book written by a neurodivergent author and employing neurodivergent consultants, crew and actors. That is, until now.
Why Toys “R” Us is banking on Geoffrey the Giraffe’s celebrity. The retailer is following Mattel and Hasbro into the content game and betting that its iconic mascot can expand the brand out of malls and into living rooms. “We want Geoffrey to be [to us] what Mickey Mouse is to Disney,” says Kim Miller, the retailer’s CMO and president of Toys “R” Us Studios.
Top global firms approaching Indian toy makers for sourcing goods: Official. Top global retailers from the US and Europe have shown keen interest in sourcing goods from Indian toy manufacturers and hand-hold them to meet their compliance requirements, a government official said. The official said these retail giants are looking to procure toys from India at a good scale.
Representation in toys can change the way kids understand disability. Last year, LEGO became the latest toy company to announce they are making toys that reflect differences — both racial and those that reflect people with disabilities. Some characters will be missing a limb, some are meant to represent people with Down syndrome. Fox News created a stir when it called the move "woke."
History and Nostalgia
Who first thought of Pickleball? Pickleball was invented in 1965 by Joel Pritchard, then a congressman from Washington State, and a businessman named Bill Bell at Pritchard’s home on Bainbridge Island, WA. They created the game as a form of entertainment for their families using an old badminton court, a lowered net, ping-pong paddles, and a perforated plastic ball.
***The above posted after April 14th***
Masters of the Universe action figures were created in 1979. Mattel’s Ray Wagner formed a team to explore the creation of the co.’s next big action line, which was needed to compete with Kenner’s successful Star Wars action figures. One of the team members named Roger Sweet added modeling clay to bulk up an existing Big Jim and an illustrator named Mark Taylor developed the proposed aesthetics for the new action figure and He-Man was born!
Dark Shadows from Whitman. Released in 1968 from Whitman, the Dark Shadows board game was based on the cult Gothic soap opera television series of the same name, which aired on ABC from 1966-1971. The show centered around the lives of the Collins family, inhabitants of Collinsport, Maine — a small, coastal fishing village where a preponderance of supernatural occurrences regularly occurred.
Magic Copier from Tyco. In 1991, Tyco released Magic Copier, a kid-sized equivalent to the adult-office version. Designed for ages four and up, the Magic Copier was small enough for a desktop and operated on two C-batteries. Junior artists used a special stylus to draw pictures on the copier screen, then pressed the Copy button to have a copy of their design emerge from the toy.
Hasbro ’69 Catalog – new products, new directions, new marketing, new advertising, new incentives. In 1969, fresh off a corporate name change from Hassenfeld Brothers Inc. to Hasbro Industries Inc., the US-based toy maker touted a new direction, products, and growth opportunities for retailers carrying the brand. The 68-page catalogue also introduced a short-lived visual identity for the company...
When were toys first added to cereal boxes and why did they stop? Picture it: You're eight years old. It's Saturday morning. You're sitting at the kitchen table, bowl in front of you, new cereal box in hand. You're struggling to get the box open but when you finally do, you don't pour the cereal into your bowl. Instead, you dive to the bottom of the box, searching anxiously for something that doesn't feel like flakes or crispies.
Chichen Itza: Archaeologists discover scoreboard for ancient Maya ball game. Archaeologists in Mexico have uncovered an intricately carved stone they believe was used as a scoreboard for pelota, a ball game played by the Maya hundreds of years ago. The circular stone was found at the Chichen Itza archaeological site and is thought to be around 1,200 years old.
Licensing and Entertainment
With MIPTV starting next week, we’re spotlighting a few “cool new shows” in development that we think will be making moves at the French market. Galactic music, hares on an epic adventure and a young Abraham Lincoln are featured in this year’s batch of shows. The common thread? Fresh takes on bringing people (as well as monsters and aliens) together.
With Earth Day approaching next week, TVOKids is marking the occasion with a “green” light for some new eco-themed content. The Canadian pubcaster has ordered Green Squad, an unscripted live-action series for 6-9-yr-olds from Montreal’s Apartment 11 (Interstellar Ella). This 13 x 30-minute series centers around five teen hosts who teach kids how to make eco-friendly and creative changes to their lifestyle.
The Hookup: Sky Kids’ Lucy Murphy on filling the linear grid. British broadcaster Sky has launched a new ad-free linear channel for kids, with a programming strategy that’s designed to inspire, energize and educate them as they move through their typical daily routines. Aimed at the under-seven set, Sky Kids launched in February. It was a move that surprised many in the industry, but the broadcaster’s...
MIPTV Market Moves: eOne, CAKE, Mondo TV - eOne’s Transformers: EarthSpark is making its way around the world, CAKE signs on for Toru Superfox, and Agent 203 has compiled a dossier of new buyers. Hasbro’s entertainment studio is bringing 26-episode animated series Transformers: EarthSpark into new markets, signing deals with buyers including Gulli (France), Clan (Spain), Super! (Italy), NRK (Norway), DR...
The League of Women Voters of the United States and a local board game designer are excited to kick off Women’s History Month with the launch of a new board game highlighting the women’s suffrage movement. Votes for Women, designed by Tory Brown and published by Fort Circle Games, recounts the story of how suffragists won the right to vote in 1920 through the 19th Amendment.
LA-based animation studio Baobab Studios is gearing up to expand its NFT-first IP Momoguro into a franchise, starting with its first Roblox game and an eye to animated TV. Baobab’s action-adventure title Momoguro: Momo Quest was developed internally at the digital studio and will launch on Roblox this summer. In it, kids work together to save an enchanted island inhabited by creatures called Momos from a force of evil monsters called the Singulars.
***The above posted after April 14th***
Hot Wheels Unleashed has now sold over 2,000,000 copies. Milestone CEO Luisa Bixio commented about the matter in the press release announcing the sales, saying that “Hot Wheels boasts one of the most engaged and passionate fan bases of any brand in the world. We’re proud that Mattel trusted us to bring the brand to life in Hot Wheels Unleashed, and so pleased with how consumers have responded”.
Why did Incredible Film cross the road? To add Katy and the Stolen Chickens to its sales portfolio, of course. The Dutch distributor Incredible Film has inked a deal to represent the live-action series internationally, which is produced by Netherlands-based Annemarie Mooren Productions. Aimed at kids ages 4 to 7, the five x 10-minute series follows Katy, a seven-year-old girl who has to solve the mystery of her...
The Star Wars juggernaut will continue in hyperspeed for the foreseeable future, with three new films added to Lucasfilm’s slate. The studio is developing a trio of new films for the franchise and has tapped Disney vets James Mangold (Logan), Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy (Ms. Marvel) and Dave Filoni (The Mandalorian) to direct a project each.
Funko Games has collaborated with Lucasfilm to bring Indiana Jones to board game night. The co. today revealed four new games, three already available for purchase and the final coming to Target soon. “Collaborating with Lucasfilm on Indiana Jones has been a dream, with the whole Funko Games team flexing their creative muscles as we designed a truly original slate of games,” says Deirdre Cross, Head of Funko Games.
Emmy-Winning Cyberchase Launches STEM-Powered New Season on PBS KIDS on April 21. Cyberchase returns for a new season beginning Friday, April 21 during “PBS KIDS Family Night” at 7 p.m. ET and streaming free on PBS KIDS in honor of Earth Day (April 22). Season 14 will feature four fresh environment-themed adventures and free interactive STEM resources for families, all available in English and Spanish.
Bidaya Media has signed a deal with independent IP creator and kids franchise company Epic Story Media Incorporated (ESM), a full-service kids franchise company, as the content and licensing agent for the new 2D animated series, The Adventures of Mansour: Age of AI. The series will join ESM’s growing portfolio of franchises in the upcoming MIPTV event in Cannes, France, and will be represented going forward...
PAW Patrol celebrates its 10th anniversary with live tours, consumer products, a new theatrical movie and a spin-off series. Anyone who’s spent time with preschoolers in the last 10 years has most likely heard the young kids talk about the inescapable allure of “PAW Patrol,” produced by Spin Master Entertainment and currently airing on Nickelodeon.
JAKKS Pacific brings Ami Amis to Fashion Famous on ‘Roblox’. JAKKS Pacific has announced an integration with Ami Amis in the Fashion Famous experience available on “Roblox.” When players enter through the Fashion Famous experience lobby, they’ll be greeted by the Ami Amis crew to help them get excited about carnival games.
The Tetris movie fumbles what's actually an incredible story. On its face, Tetris seems like it should be the first Oscar-bait video game film. A plucky programmer-turned-video-game-salesperson sees the magic of a new game called Tetris and goes to Soviet-era Russia to get the rights, all while fending off corporate greed and the KGB to boot.
No one wants Max’s Harry Potter TV series from J.K. Rowling. During its tidal wave of major announcements Wednesday—including a rebrand from “HBO Max” to just “Max” for its streaming service—Warner Bros. Discovery officially confirmed that it is ordering a scripted series based on the Harry Potter books, which will air over the course of 10 years…and be executive produced by J.K. Rowling.
Ravensburger announces 'Disney Lorcana' organized play program. Ravensburger announced that they will be launching an organized play program for their new Disney Lorcana TCG once the game releases into retail in August 2023. The OP program will offer FLGS resources to support Disney Lorcana game nights in their stores. The support will come in the form of OP kits.
Playmobil welcomes Ferrari license to portfolio with SF90 Stradale. A new and exciting supercar, the Ferrari SF90 Stradale, is joining the Playmobil car fleet in the 125th birth year of Enzo Ferrari (1898-1988), the founder of the Ferrari company. The first-ever Ferrari model to join the company’s range, the new launch brings the inimitable Ferrari look to life on a Playmobil scale, and the Italian driving experience...
Media Mashup: toyetic trailers from ‘The Barbie Movie,’ ‘Star Wars: Ahsoka,’ ‘PJ Masks,’ ‘The Muppets Mayhem,’ ‘Shaq’s Garage,’ and more! This week, Mattel lit up the internet with the latest teaser for The Barbie Movie; Star Wars Celebration kicked off with a look at Star Wars: Ahsoka; Disney Junior dropped a look at PJ Masks Power Heroes from Hasbro/eOne; Lucasfilm unearthed a fresh look at Indiana Jones...
Hasbro announces publishing program for ‘Kiya & the Kimoja Heroes’. Hasbro is partnering with Random House Children's Books, a division of Penguin Random House, on a publishing program for the preschool series, “Kiya & the Kimoja Heroes,” which just launched in the U.S. The new publishing lineup based on the kids’ series will launch in summer 2024.
'Marvel Champions: The Card Game' ushers in 'Next Evolution'. Fantasy Flight Games will release NeXt Evolution, an expansion for Marvel Champions: The Card Game, into retail on August 18, 2023. This sixth expansion for Marvel Champions features X-Force characters. The expansion adds Cable and Domino as two playable heroes with pre-constructed decks.
StoryToys announces LEGO DUPLO | Disney Mickey & Friends. StoryToys, The LEGO Group, and Disney launched a new game for preschoolers featuring the beloved cast of Mickey & Friends that supports learning and development through open-ended play. LEGO DUPLO DISNEY | MICKEY & FRIENDS is a game designed to encourage creative play and learning for young children and is the perfect way for families...
People of Play
Renegade Game Studios has brought in a new VP of Sales, as VP of Sales and Marketing Sara Erickson makes an internal move. Andrew Lupp, most recently Sales Manager at PSI Distribution, is the new Vice President of Sales at Renegade. In addition to his over ten years at PSI, Lupp has also held sales management roles at Hidden City Games, Bandai America, and Decipher in a trade sales career that has run over 25 yrs.
After Her PhD at Harvard, How This Mum Started a Multi-Crore Sustainable Toy Business. Meeta Sharma Gupta started a sustainable toy brand ‘Shumee’ in Delhi after she did not find suitable toys in India that focus on developing children’s cognitive and motor skills. Today, she gets over 8,000 orders a month and employs over 100 artisans.
***The above posted after April 14th***
TIM KILPIN JOINS HASBRO AS PRESIDENT, TOY, LICENSING, & ENTERTAINMENT; GINA GOETTER NAMED CFO. Kilpin joins the company from PlayMonster where he most recently served as Executive Chairman following a stint as CEO. He previously led Activision Blizzard’s consumer products business and held leadership roles at Mattel and The Walt Disney Co.
Entrevista a Mary Couzin, presidente y fundadora de People of Play (POP). Una de las figuras más destacadas y versátiles de la industria del juguete a nivel mundial, promotora de eventos y conferencias, creadora y jurado de las principales premiaciones dentro de la industria, fundadora de instituciones tan renombradas como People of Play (POP), pero sobre todo, Inventora de juguetes. (English available on website)
Squishmallows Toymaker Jonathan Kelly Spends $26 Million on Futuristic Bel Air Estate... crafted by modern specialist Zoltan Pali, the palatial home spans nearly 17,000 sq ft of living space. Kelly, ever the hardworking businessman, hasn’t wasted any time putting his new Bel Air asset to work. The slick mansion is already on the rental market, so if you like what you see, feel free to move right into this place — $150,000/mo and $300,000 for the security deposit...
Lisa Marks Associates has two new members of its management team: Maureen Taxter as SVP of Licensing and Donna Moore as Director of Product Development. Taxter has spent more than 20 years in the licensing industry, including leadership roles at Nickelodeon, Viacom Consumer Products, Hasbro, and The Jim Henson Co. She will continue to expand the company’s licensing strategies and partnerships.
Canadian producer Sphere Media is consolidating its multiple kids scripted, animation and factual teams into one division and tapping the company’s unscripted and documentary president to lead it. Marlo Miazga will be taking over responsibility for kids content, as current president of Sphere Animation, Jacques Bilodeau, prepares to retire later this year. Bilodeau founded the business...
Dan Dee International taps Menal Mcgrath as SVP of global licensing. Dan Dee International has named Menal McGrath as its new Senior Vice President of Global Licensing. In the role, McGrath will oversee licensing deals for the company and work with licensors to develop and produce creative, high-quality products. The company has had licensing agreements with Crayola, Graco, and more.
ZAG appoints first retail and trade marketing director for Brazil. ZAG is expanding its executive roster in Brazil with the appointment of its first retail and trade marketing director, former Warner Bros., Viacom and Mattel executive, Thienne Manzoni Ribeiro. The announcement was made today by Jeremy Zag, founder and chief executive officer, ZAG.
Walt Disney Company names first chief brand officer. Asad Ayaz has been named the first chief brand officer of The Walt Disney Company, effective immediately, announced today by Robert A. Iger, chief executive officer, The Walt Disney Company. In this newly created role, reporting to Iger, Ayaz will be responsible for stewarding and elevating the Disney brand globally across the entire company touchpoints...
Companies and Brands
Earth Day Toys on STUDIO40 LIVE. Tammy Smitham, VP of Corporate Social Responsibility at Spin Master, joins us to talk about how the company is taking steps to protect the planet and making some of the most popular toys of all time more eco-friendly as part of its Playsponsible initiative!
Scotland welcomes 'hardest to reach LEGO store in the world'. The Danish toy production company transformed the Highland location into a shop as part of the launch of its new Classic Land Rover Defender toy set. LEGO design master Kurt Kristiansen said: “Bringing the Classic Defender to life in bricks was no easy challenge. “Defender can take you anywhere, so during the design process we wanted to infuse the set...
***The above was posted after April 14th***
Make It Real shares the launch of two new pickleball sets: The Adventure Fun and Tie Dye 2 Person Pickleball sets. These are the latest in the Make It Real roster of award-winning products, which include the Color Fusion Nail Polish Maker, Sticker Chic: Rainbow Chic, and the 5-in-1 Activity Tower. With pickleball being the fastest growing sport in America for the third year running, Make it Real recognizes the opportunity to...
The new set is designed by LEGO fan designer Jan Woźnica, an IT professional. It’s a part of LEGO Ideas, a website that gives users the opportunity to submit their own set concepts that then get the chance to become available as LEGO products. “Outer space is awesome! I love exploring new worlds imagined by great creators,” says fan designer Jan Woźnica. The Tales of the Space Age set features...
THE TOY INSIDER UNVEILS REDESIGNED LOGO, REFRESHED WEB EXPERIENCE. The No. 1 consumer resource for toys and gifts for kids, unveiled a brand-new logo for the first time in its 17-year history, along with a completely redesigned website to provide its readers with a user-friendly interface that will help them on their toy discovery journey.
Arcade1Up has once again leveled up game night with the release of the Infinity Game Board. Building off the success of the Infinity Game Table, an innovative digital table that connects family and friends through a vast library of popular games, Arcade1Up has gone one step further with the Infinity Game Board, creating a portable and easily accessible board game experience that everyone in the family can enjoy.
Funsicle is partnering with international recycling leader TerraCycle to enable consumers in the U.S. to recycle Funsicle inflatable pools and floats. As part of their ‘Float on Purpose’ sustainability initiative, Funsicle now offers customers the unique opportunity to reduce waste by collecting deflated Funsicle inflatables and sending them directly to TerraCycle to be recycled—at no cost to the consumer.
Super Mario Bros. theme becomes first video game song to be archived by Congress. Koji Kondo's original musical theme for Super Mario Bros. has been recognized by the US Library of Congress. Referred to by Congress as "probably the most recognizable" theme song in video game history, the theme has been added to the National Recording Registry.
LEGO releases new minimalistic Space Age set. The LEGO Group is known for sets that target the kidult market, with everything from an Indiana Jones Temple of the Golden Idol set, a Hokusai – The Great Wave art set, and an A-Frame Cabin, the company has a wide portfolio of construction sets designed specifically for those 18 and up.
Character and Hasbro agree brand expansion partnership for Stretch Armstrong. Character Options and global branded entertainment leader Hasbro are setting the bar high in the world of stretchable toys with new licenses and brand extensions for 2023 and 2024. Backed by more than 50 years of heritage, The Original Stretch Armstrong is globally recognized as the leading stretchable toy.
Crown made of Scrabble tiles unveiled. On National Scrabble Day (13th April), marking 75 years of the original word game, Scrabble has unveiled a couture custom crown made of 319 Scrabble tiles, an homage to the St Edward’s Crown that will be used in the Coronation of King Charles III. Created by British milliner Justin Smith, of brand J Smith Esquire, the Scrabble Crown was painstakingly constructed over 153 hours...
Arcane Wonders will release three 'Mother of Frankenstein' puzzle games. Arcane Wonders will release Mother of Frankenstein Vol. 1-3, new puzzle games, into retail on May 3, 2023. Mother of Frankenstein is a series of games created by New York Times bestselling author Tommy Wallach and Terry Pettigrew-Rolapp, who are also the founders of Hatch Escapes in Los Angeles.
Steve Jackson Games launches 'Munchkin Cows'. Steve Jackson Games will release Munchkin Cows, a mini-expansion for Munchkin card game, into retail on May 3, 2023. This 15-card set adds more monsters and Treasures to any Munchkin base game. It features an array of comical cow cards with art by Ian McGinty.
Fun in Motion Toys partners with Canspan to promote its Shashibo line. Fun in Motion Toys — the company behind the interactive toy line Shashibo — is partnering with Canspan to manage its advertising, social media, and public relations efforts. This new partnership comes at a time when Shashibo is quickly gaining popularity worldwide.
Hasbro set to reintroduce window boxes and blister packs for 6-inch scale action figure brands, additional products. Hasbro just rolled back its approach to window packaging for its 6-inch scale action figure brands. Less than a year after the company’s commitment to plastic-free packaging made its way into the action aisle with the removal of clear window boxes and blister packs for the 6-inch lines..
Games Workshop reveals next 'Warhammer 40,000' 'Ark Of Omens'. Games Workshop revealed Ark of Omens: The Lion and The Lion & Retinue, for Warhammer 40,000, which will be on preorder on April 15, 2023. Ark of Omens: The Lion contains the final chapters of the Ark of Omens saga. Vashtorr the Arkifane is putting together Key-fragments, beginning a cataclysmic ritual, and the Dark Angels are battling..
Explore the ruins of 'Arkeis': New cooperative board game coming to retail. Ankama Board Games will release Arkeis, a new cooperative board game, into retail in 2023. Arkeis is a cooperative campaign game set in ancient Egyptian ruins. Players take on the roles of adventurers exploring the ruins in this story-driven game. The game offers up 9 scenarios for players to run through on a modular board.
Hachette Boardgames will publish 'Sky Team'. Hachette Boardgames will publish Sky Team, a new limited communication game by Scorpion Masque, which will hit retail in Q4 2023. Sky Team, designed by Luc Remond, is a cooperative limited-communication game where players take on the roles of a pilot and a co-pilot of an airplane.
Devir Games reveals 'Yokai Sketch'. Devir Games revealed Yokai Sketch, a new set collection card game, for release into retail in July 2023. In this game, part of Devir's Pocket Collection (see "Three New Pocket Games"), players attempt to complete sketches of forest spirits in order gain Yokai points. The game features two decks, one with the Yokai and another with Sketch cards that have victory points.
Discover the rules to ancient board games in 'Unboxed'. WizKids will release Unboxed, a new puzzle card game, into retail in September 2023. In this card game, players become archeology interns under the direction of Dr. Ramos at a dig site. Their team has uncovered the remnants of ancient board games and they need to piece their rulebooks back together.
Gaming: Digital, Video, Hardware, and Development
Microsoft pens 10-year deal to bring Activision Blizzard games to EE customers. Microsoft has pledged to bring PC games built by Activision Blizzard and Xbox to EE customers as part of an expanded partnership with the UK mobile network operator. Xbox chief Phil Spencer tweeted out the news, and explained the deal is part of a "10-year commitment in cloud gaming" that will allow the company to …
Fans are already revolting against AI that make their games feel cheap and soulless. Despite all the discourse about what effects that AI will have on game development, we don’t have to speculate about what can happen. We can just take a look at how AI is transforming game development in China right now. A combination of AI adaptation and regulatory setbacks have reportedly caused illustration jobs …
Disney taps Bithell Games for more Tron-themed titles. The next few titles from Bithell Games will be set in the digital universe of Disney's Tron franchise. Bithell Games' new title Tron: Identity is out today, and it has more games for the movie franchise in the works. Heidy Vargas, a producer at Disney Games, recently said that Tron: Identity was the beginning of further Tron-specific collaborations between it and Bithell.
Microsoft expands PC Game Pass to Ukraine, Egypt, and more countries. PC Game Pass has expanded to include another 40 countries across the world. Microsoft held a test period for this expansion in February, but the launch is now official. As of today, residents in countries such as Ukraine, Peru, Egypt, and Uruguay can join the PC version of Xbox's game subscription service.
Ninja Turtles: Cowabunga Collection sells 1 million copies. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Cowabunga Collection has shredded its way to 1 million copies sold. Konami broke the news on Twitter, revealing the collection of remasters hit that milestone eight months since its August 2022 release.
Resident Evil 4 Remake hits 4 million copies sold. 4 million units, 4 million president's daughters rescued. Resident Evil 4 Remake's success keeps growing, as the game has now reached over 4 million units sold. Capcom announced the milestone on its website, which comes two weeks after the game's release on March 24. Within days of coming out, it'd already sold 3 million units on...
Highlighted Press Releases
Safety and Counterfeiting
These 2 children’s toys could pose a choking hazard: What parents need to know. Two children’s toys are being recalled, because they could pose a choking hazard, according to notices published by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). About 25,000 Ikea Blavingad Fishing Games and about 2,700 Monti Kids Basket with Balls games are being recalled.
Researchers detect cancer-causing chemicals in toys and headphones. Cancer-causing chlorinated paraffins are still used in a wide range of everyday products sold in North America despite their known health harm and being banned in Canada for a decade, according to a new peer-reviewed study in Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts.
Associations, Shows, Awards, Events, and Festivals
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government announced that Dr Peter K N Lam has been reappointed as chairman of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) for two years with effect from 1st June 2023. Dr Lam said: “I am honoured to be reappointed as chairman of the HKTDC. In the past four years, the global economy has faced unprecedented challenges.
Every year Samaritan’s Purse partners with families, churches, individuals and groups to send millions of gift-filled shoeboxes to children in need around the world through Operation Christmas Child. Each shoebox gift contains a range of toys, school supplies, accessories and personal care items. For many of the children receiving these gifts, this will be their first ever Christmas present. One reipient, 8 yr old Natalya, lives in an orphanage in Ukraine. She was delighted to receive a shoebox gift containing a baby doll, a tiara, a skipping rope, cuddly toys, school supplies, accessories and many more treasures. Her favourite item was a yellow duck-shaped torch, which she said would help her not to be afraid when she runs to the basement during air raids.
***The above posted after April 14th***
The ASTRA Play Awards are here with finalists at the ready. A committee met just last month to review the nominated products and has now selected a series of finalists outlined below. ASTRA retail members are invited to vote for their chosen products and winners will be announced officially at ASTRA Marketplace & Academy. The yearly event will take place this June 11-14 in Columbus, Ohio.
After initially debuting in Japan, a Nintendo Live event is coming to the U.S.! Nintendo Live 2023 is a new way to experience the games and worlds of Nintendo, with fun gameplay, live stage performances, exciting gaming tournaments, memorable photo ops and more. Held in Seattle in September, the in-person event will celebrate Nintendo’s unique entertainment on the Nintendo Switch system, inviting all members...
UKMums.TV extends deadline for Baby & Pre-School Awards. Due to popular demand, the deadline for entries has been extended for the UKMums.TV Baby & Pre-School Awards 2023. Designed to recognize the best products, services and brands in the baby and pre-school domain, entries opened in March, but the deadline to take part in the awards program is now Friday 21st April 2023.
Hong Kong 2023, it’s a buyer’s market. Those of us who have traveled to Hong Kong over the decades have experienced it as a beautiful, hyper-energized, safe, and affluent city. That was then, and this is now, and the stories coming out of Hong Kong are a bit depressing. One of my contacts has just returned from a trip to the city.
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
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.
Steven W. Smith, toy industry PR veteran. Steven W. Smith, public relations toy industry veteran, has died after complications from heart surgery. Smith worked in the industry for more than 50 years and notably created the public relations campaign that launched Teddy Ruxpin, one of the most iconic toys from the ‘80s. Smith opened his first firm in 1984, working with Bandai, General Mills, Target, Nike, Home Savings, and the World of Wonders before the firm was purchased by Saatchi & Saatchi.
“Steven was a true professional,” says Scott Allison, Chairman and CEO of Allison+Partners. “When we started our company and opened our offices in Los Angeles, Steven joined our co-founder, Scott Pansky, and helped us grow the office bringing several of his team members and clients with him including Cakebread Cellars and the Blackhawk Network, formerly Safeway Gift Cards.”
He relaunched his firm in 1992 as Smith Public Relations with clients including Mattel, McKesson Corp., Carl’s Jr., Best Buy, Vivendi Universal, and Capitol EMI. He joined Allison+Partners as Senior Vice President in 2002.
Smith graduated from California State University, Northridge with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is survived by his son Todd and his sister Robyn Askenaizer, her husband Gary, and her sons Adam and Chris.
Worldwide Magazines Weekly Top Stories
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ICv2: The Business of Geek Culture (US)
- WizKids Reveals Two New 'Pathfinder Deep Cuts' Packs
- Ravensburger Releases 'Disney Lorcana' Quick Start Rules
- Rolling for Initiative -- 'Dungeons & Dragons' Movie Gripes and R.I.P. Klaus Teuber
- WizKids Unleashes Ferocious Cuteness with 'Dungeons & Dragons' Baby Owlbear Replica
- New 'Warhammer Age of Sigmar' 'Vanguard: Soulblight Gravelords' Box Incoming
- Ravensburger Announces 'Disney Lorcana' Organized Play Program
- Steamforged Games Reveals 'Monster Hunter World Iceborne: The Board Game'
- Discover the Rules to Ancient Board Games in 'Unboxed'
- Funko Teams Up with Indiana Jones
- Villains Take Charge in 'DC HeroClix: Notorious'
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Posting Friday morning Chicago time
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News Flash: Dobble Connect Announced, Four Indiana Jones Games Coming Soon
Asmodee has announced a new twist on a classic party game, Funko Games has announced four Indiana Jones games, and the nominations are open for the Golden Geek Awards.
Video of the Week
Young boy sets world record for fastest average time to solve a standard Rubik's cube, securing an average time of 4.69 seconds
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