the Bloom Report

Worldwide Toy Industry's #1 News Summary

Below is August 14-21, 2020, Click Here for Last Week

Articles posted each day with newest articles at top of each news section. 

The previous week drops off each Friday when we send you highlights via email. 

Not only does the Bloom Report give you all the news you need to know...

we give you all the news you didn't know you needed to know!" -Phil Bloom

Welcome to your briefing of the week's news...

Happy Friday! 

We received a note  from Richard Highfield of Surprise Marketing in the UK a few days ago. He questioned some of the points made by Jacqueline Vong in her op-ed piece last week: East Meets West. Where are we going from here?. Since many of our readers make business decisions based on what they read in tBR, we are publishing Richard's note (with permission). It is important to show all views on this major topic and we welcome other views. Jacqueline will be responding next week.

Onward and Upward, 

Mary Couzin

Richard Highfield of Surprise Marketing Ltd replies to Jacqueline Vong's Op-ed article East Meets West

Mary,

 

I refer to last week’s article by Jacqueline Vong that may confuse or even dismay many international readers of The Bloom Report, though it does seem to have some credibility and states some obvious factors.

 

While the talented Miss Vong does convey the both sides of the story in the ever-changing toy business we love, the international toy community is surely years way away from removing the long-standing Hong Kong Toy Fair to mainland China. I am sure the Hong Kong Trade and Development Council feel much the same way after putting on a wonderful show for so many years.

 

To remind her, there are over 2,000 global exhibitors, not all local and more than 40,000 visitors.   Read More...

Tom Rushton: If You Think Adventure is Dangerous; Try Routine...- tBR Person of the Week!

(One of Tom's favorite clients paying close attention as usual. Meet Oliver the Rushton family Potbelly Pig! If you think Oliver is cute, click on the article to meet Maribel & Lucille, too! )

My name is Tom Rushton, as you can probably see from the title of Mary's article in this edition of The Bloom Report.  When Mary contacted me about this, I was pretty surprised...in a good way.  I had seen other "Toy People" featured and it's always really cool when you click on The Bloom Report and are able to call out, "Hey I know him/her!"...recently that's included our friends, Lisa Orman, Dee Farrell, et al.  

 

Our History...

 

My introduction to the Toy Industry was at a small trade show on the Navy Pier in Chicago, working for a German Company that crafted Galileo Thermometers.  We were invited to the NLDA Show as we were selected to participate in their holiday catalog.  I was setting up my booth when a woman walked around the "pipe and drape" and said "Can you help us put in our light bulbs?"  As a six-footer (barely 6' 0") that wasn't an uncommon request, so I said sure.  That company was Seattle-based game manufacturer, Front Porch Classics.  I put in the light bulbs (probably against union regulations...but we were rebels) and then looked down at their displays and saw these amazing solid wood tabletop games...I was blown away!  Couldn't believe that a company took the time to craft games from solid wood and die-cast metal with cloth playing boards, like their bestseller, Dread Pirate.  The Old Century Baseball Game even came with an actual Baseball Score Book.  That's all I needed to see...I was hooked.  A few months later I knew I needed a change and reached out to them to see if they had any sales positions available.  Read More...

 

Financial & Legal News . . . 

UK importers face seasonal logistics headache. Four week delays, rate hikes, and surcharges have led to concerns for shippers. Shippers from Asia to North Europe are said to be facing a mounting capacity crunch, while carriers are set to add to their woes with mid-month price rises and peak season surcharges.

PAG inks $127 mn deal to sell Tobots-maker Young Toys to MiraeN, 2 local PEFsHong Kong-based investment firm PAG has agreed to sell South Korean toymaker Young Toys Inc. to a consortium led by local education service provider MiraeN Co. for about 150 billion won ($127 million).

Apple Fortnite players left behind in new update. People who play Fortnite on Apple Macs, iPhones and iPads are to be excluded from the game's latest update. It follows the weeks-long escalating row between the two companies, which resulted in Fortnite being pulled from Apple's App Store. Mac computers, which do not use the App Store, are also now affected.

Facebook claims iOS 14 will harm developers that rely on ad-driven revenue. Facebook's warning is for developers of all stripes, but does include a segment of game developers who rely on in-game ads. A special page branded for gaming promises that Audience Network can "expand the reach of your game's monetization," help you "retain game players" and "drive sustainable growth." Those three pitches...

Fall Guys is now the most downloaded PS Plus game in history. Fall Guys has become the most downloaded PlayStation Plus game of all time on a global basis. PlayStation broke the news on Twitter, although it didn't reveal how many times the bumbling battle royale title has been downloaded.

Unity’s IPO filing shows how big a threat it poses to Epic and the Unreal Engine. Unity, maker of the popular Unity Game Engine, has filed to go public at an incredible moment in time. Its chief rival, Epic Games, is currently busy arguing that Apple is holding the Unreal Engine hostage, and Epic will appear in court this very afternoon to demand a restraining order so Apple can’t cut off access to developers.

Epic granted temporary restraining order to protect Unreal Engine on Apple platforms. Epic Games and Apple traded blows during a court hearing on Monday, and neither party emerging entirely unscathed. The hearing saw U.S. District Court Judge approve Epic's request for a temporary restraining order against Apple that will allow it to continue accessing Apple's development SDK -- essentially securing the...

MORE PRESSURE ON ONLINE PLATFORMS TO BATTLE COUNTERFEITS Over a dozen powerful industry associations, including the Toy Association and mass retailer organization Retail Industry Leaders Association, have joined together as the Buy Safe America Coalition to lobby for new laws to battle the sale of counterfeit goods online.  Citing a Department of Homeland Security warning that "…dominant online...

UK retail sales rise above pre-Covid levels as lockdown eases. Officials figures show that UK retail sales rose above pre-pandemic levels in July, which was the first full month non-essential shops in England were allowed to reopen. Indicating an increased appetite to travel to work and shop on the high street since the easing of the lockdown in May, sales increased to higher levels than in February, before lockdown.

Microsoft submits statement of support for Epic Games in Apple fight. The ongoing legal battle between Epic Games and Apple has expanded to involve Microsoft. Kevin Gammill, the general manager, gaming developer experiences for Microsoft, has filed a statement of support for Epic in their restraining order against Apple.

Toys ‘R’ Us just foolishly gave Amazon the Christmas gift of a lifetime. This past week Forbes received confirmation that Amazon will provide the digital capabilities and fulfillment services for the new Toys “R” Us brand going forward, which is quite possibly one of the worst ideas in the history of retail.

Apple says Epic is ‘putting the entire App Store model at risk’. Apple has responded to Epic Games’ antitrust lawsuit over its iOS App Store policies. The filing asks a court not to temporarily reverse an App Store ban while the suit is ongoing. And it accuses Epic of disingenuously creating an “emergency” by accepting direct payments through Fortnite in violation of Apple’s rules.

Government shutdowns of “nonessential” retailers were a huge gift for Amazon, Walmart, and Target. When stay-at-home orders due to the Covid-19 pandemic forced many US brick-and-mortar retailers to close up shop late winter and into this spring, some industry observers feared the government measures would widen the existing gap between the retail industry’s haves and have-nots. A few months later...

March Capital establishes $60 million game investment fund U.S. investment company March Capital has launched the March Gaming Fund, a $60 million fund that will invest in companies developing "gaming content, technology, and infrastructure." March has already invested in sports game developer Nifty Games and mobile studio Knock Knock, and will use its new Gaming Fund to make a further 12 to 15 investments.

(the above posted after Aug. 21st)

Chicago Toy & Game Group rebrands as People of PlayThe Chicago Toy & Game Group (ChiTAG) has rebranded under a new name: People of Play (POP). ChiTAG founder and occasional Toy Book contributor Mary Couzin will continue to lead POP in its efforts to “continue the mission of promoting innovation, creativity, and connectivity in the toy and game industry.”

Toys R Us, Amazon are linked online again, after e-commerce deal with Target ends. Ten months ago, the resurrected Toys  R Us brand made news when it announced an e-commerce partnership with Target TGT +12.6%. Last month, Toys R Us and Target quietly ended that partnership. Now, toys featured on the Toys R Us website have a click-to-buy link to Amazon.

UK bank account data shows 71% rise in gaming spending during lockdown. We all know that UK spending on games has skyrocketed during the pandemic, with charts, publishers and developers all stating big gains. But the latest figures, from UK bank accounts, pin that boom at a whopping 71 per cent year on year. The figure is taken from the lockdown period, from mid-March to the start of July.

Ex-Riot devs launch multiplayer game studio Odyssey Interactive in Canada. A team of game makers who used to work at Riot Games have raised roughly $6 million in seed funding to open Odyssey Interactive, a new Canadian game studio that aims to build competitive multiplayer games.

Amazon, Walmart double down on third party sellers. The ecomm world is changing rapidly in the COVID era, as retail behemoths and independent retailers alike mobilize to capture the billions in retail business moving online, over $60 billion in new ecomm sales in Q2 alone. A lot of the new ecomm activity surrounds third-party sellers …

Sweden: Social game platform Hiber nets $2.25 million to accelerate development. Social game platform Hiber has netted $2.25 million in funding to accelerate development and make key hires. Hiber allows users to create, play, and share a variety of games, and can be accessed on almost any device with a web browser, including smartphones, tablets, and PCs.

Amazon pushes sellers to meet two-day delivery guarantees so more people can get Prime-eligible products. Amazon on Tuesday announced several changes to its Seller Fulfilled Prime program, which allows sellers to designate Prime-eligible inventory without paying for Amazon’s fulfillment services. Starting in February 2021, sellers will be required to support Saturday pick-up and delivery, as well as...

Tencent picks up minority stake in hyper casual game publisher Voodoo. Tencent has picked up a minority stake in Voodoo, the hyper casual game mobile publisher behind games like Helix Jump, Color Road, and many, many more. There’s no word on what percentage of Voodoo Tencent picked up in the deal, or even how much the massive Chinese company spent to acquire it.

Epic asks court to block Apple's 'retaliation' as Fortnite, Unreal Engine face consequences. Epic is asking a California court to protect it from what the company describes as retaliation from Apple over the escalating conflict between the two massive tech companies. It’s the latest development in a dispute that rapidly unfolded late last week and ultimately saw Epic Games filing a lawsuit against both Apple and Google …

Take-Two Interactive acquires mobile studio Playdots for $192 million. Take-Two Interactive has acquired mobile studio Playdots for $192 million. The deal comprises $90 million in cash and $102 million worth of newly issued Take-Two shares.

Japan suffers its biggest economic slump on record. The Japanese economy has shrunk at its fastest rate on record as it battles the coronavirus pandemic. The world’s third largest economy saw gross domestic product fall 7.8% in April-June from the previous quarter, or 27.8% on an annualised basis. Japan was already struggling with low economic growth before the crisis.

Debenhams puts liquidation firm on standby despite insisting it is “trading strongly. Debenhams has put a liquidation firm on standby to draw up contingency plans for the department store chain should it not find a solution to its current financial crisis. The company, which is now in administration, has hired Hilco Capital to undertake the task should an answer not be found.

PUBG Corp invests $10 million into 1Up Ventures to support indies. PUBG Corporation has sunk $10 million into venture fund 1Up Ventures to help "foster the next generation of game developers." The PlayerUnknown's Battleground developer said the cash will be used to help the fledgling investment fund support indie studios.

Retailers launch lobbying group to fight counterfeit goods on Amazon. More than a dozen trade groups are launching a new coalition aimed at forcing e-commerce companies such as Amazon.com Inc. to take stronger measures to fight stolen or counterfeit goods sold on their platforms. The industry associations, which represent Walmart Inc., Target Corp., and Best Buy Co. Inc. among other companies, are...

US court ruling means Amazon can be held liable for defective goods. The online retail platform Amazon, which grew its third-party sales 53% during the height of the pandemic, has been dealt a blow by a US court ruling that will now see it held responsible for defective, faulty or unsafe products – and the injuries caused by them.

July increase in retail sales continues recovery from coronavirus pandemic. Retail sales continued to recover in July from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, growing more slowly (1.2%) than the month before, but adding to the strong turnaround seen since the spring declines.

US jobless claims rise back above one million. The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits unexpectedly climbed back above one million last week, official figures show. The US Labor Department said claims rose to 1.1 million, ahead of economists' forecasts of 925,000.

newyork-toy-600px-x-400px.jpg

 

Program Highlights

  • A++ rated insurer, $20 Billion in assets

  • Exceeds Wal-Mart and other leading retailers insurance requirements

  • Variable rate based on sales projections

  • Foreign & Domestic Liability coverage

  • Blanket additional insured vendors

  • Employee benefits liability

  • All certificates and claims handled in house

  • Quick quotation turnaround

  • Product recall expense $250,000 limit

 

Additional Coverage

  • Umbrella up to $50,000,000

  • Ocean Cargo & Property

  • Commercial Auto

  • Lead coverage

  • Intellectual properties (copyrights, trademarks, & patents)

  • Credit Insurance

  • US Customs Bond Insurance

  • Health Insurance

Call us today at 800-392-6958 (ext. 318)

for a free consultation and quotation for your business needs.

185 Newman Springs Road, Tinton Falls, NJ 07724

Contact: Jason Welch: tel: 732-842-2012 (ext. 318), fax 732-530-7080, jawelch@york-jersey.com

or Bob Witkin bobwitkin@york-jersey.com

Visit the York-Jersey Underwriters website at www.toy-insurance.com

Trends, Market Research Reports . . .  

US retailers bring holiday shopping forwards . . . Facebook Gaming: Discover why genre is a key trend for 2020 and beyond

(the above posted after August 21st)

GAMES TO THE RESCUE! A LOOK AT GAMING TRENDS IN A CHALLENGING YEAR (terrific article if I may say so. -Mary ;) . . . USPS delays threaten a key backbone of online sales for Amazon, eBay and more . . . Kohl’s, Walmart, Target Preach flexibility for holiday season . . . Japan: Toymakers ride eco-friendly wave by cutting plastic . . . Sustainability is driving the construction category . . . Toy sales have spiked, but will it last? . . . The Toy Association presents Mid-Year Toy Trends . . .  From Black Friday to parking lot pop-ups: 5 ways holiday shopping will change . . . SuperAwesome reports parents are planning to start their 2020 holiday purchasing earlier than ever to avoid quarantine-related delays. . . Videogames sales rise 32% in July. . . TOP 20 GRAPHIC NOVELS - JULY 2020

Financial & Brokerage News . . . 

Is Alibaba the better buy over Amazon? . . . 4 Top Gaming Picks for 2020 . . . Hasbro (HAS) Up 9.6% Since Last Earnings Report: Can It Continue? . . . The key difference between Walmart and Target's earnings reports

(the above posted after August 21st)

Mattel (MAT) Rose 34% in 3 Months: What's Driving the Stock? . . . Activision Blizzard Could Reach New Highs . . . Where Will Hasbro Be in 5 Years? 

Financial Reporting . . . 

Walmart: Impressive Results, Strong Margins. Walmart has been a beneficiary of the COVID-19 crisis, to an extent in the share price and in its actual operations as well. The thesis is simple, and that is that Walmart is a global powerhouse, one of the few companies with enough size, pricing power and capabilities to fight off Amazon and the likes.

Walmart beats on profit, posts record online sales on pandemic boost. Walmart Inc posted its biggest-ever growth in online sales as shoppers cashed in stimulus checks and ordered everything from electronics and toys to groceries from the safety of their homes amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Its U.S. online sales rose 97% in the quarter …

Target Corporation reports second quarter earnings. Target Corporation today announced its second quarter 2020 results, which reflect the continuation of heightened sales volume and significant investments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Company reported GAAP earnings per share from continuing operations of $3.35 in Q2, an increase of 84.4% from $1.82 in 2019.  Q2 Adjusted EPS of $3.38 grew...

Wizard Brands (née Wizard Entertainment) builds virtual event business. Wizard Brands (which recently changed its name from Wizard Entertainment) quickly pivoted to online events when COVID hit, and while losses grew to $390,000 in the quarter (up from $359,000 in Q2 2019), the speed of the pivot was surprising, with over 60 virtual events produced in Q2.

Kohl’s Corporation reports financial results. Strengthened financial position during the quarter, ending with $2.4 billion in cash. Disciplined management of expenses and inventory resulted in positive operating cash flow. Second quarter net sales decrease (22.9%) …

Future Financial Reporting... 

3 Reasons Target's and Walmart's growth will slow in the second half. The two retailers saw robust growth in their stores and even bigger growth for online sales, showing strength compared to Amazon. While the two big-box stores have thrived amid the coronavirus pandemic, there are reasons they'll likely see a pullback in growth over the next six months …

Toyjobs has been the dominant recruiting

Stories & Comments . . . 

ToyAid thanks the toy industry as over £140,000 is raised. ToyAid, the self-help organisation, so termed because it gained awareness for the toy industry across national radio while helping those less fortunate, wishes to thank the toy and entertainment industry for its support. That support has provided massive help to small charities that missed out on donations during the pandemic, and those families and children...

PlayMonster’s Tim Kilpin, Wind Sun Sky’s Catherine Winder Talk Snap Ships on the ‘Power Kid Podcast’  In this week’s episode of the “Power Kid Podcast,” host Phil Albritton of Power Kid Design speaks with Tim Kilpin and Catherine Winder about PlayMonster’s new brand, Snap Ships, and this week’s launch of the animated series, Snap Ships: Dawn of Battle. 

How 5 Surprise Mini Brands took over TikTok, and the Toy Market. This is a story of how a mini toy brand became a HUGE viral success. Built around the growing miniaturization trend, we partnered with big FMCG companies to shrink their household name products into 5 Surprise Mini Brands. 14 Months later, Mini Brands is the #7 toy in the United States …

Is this the most extraordinary toy collection in the world? “Every toy geek has display cabinets arranged according to his own foolishness. Most of my collection is arranged by designer in one dedicated room at home. I haven’t counted the toys, but it’s certainly in the thousands, and the majority are sofubi – soft vinyl toys …”

Inside the wild and tumultuous history of Toys R Us — a once beloved children's brand in the middle of a comebackToys R Us has been trying to make a comeback for the past year. The beloved toy store seemingly rose from the dead in 2019 after it was purchased by Tru Kids Brands, which has since opened holiday pop-up shops and relaunched a website in the toy retailer's name.

India: Karnataka ups its game with Koppal toy cluster. The country’s largest toy cluster is all set to open at Koppal, one of the most backward regions in Karnataka, which is the third-largest market for toys in the country with an estimated sales of Rs 1,200 crore. Aequs Aerospace, a company better known for setting up India’s first aerospace SEZ at Belagavi district, is currently developing the special economic zone...

Six ways to make your user-generated content game successful and lawsuit-free. Games based on user-generated content have come a long way in the last few years, with more and more titles now being built from the ground up as a canvas for players to unleash their imagination. Of course, Minecraft and Roblox have been around for over a decade, and the mod scene has been thriving since the 90s. But things have...

CONFESSIONS OF A COMIC BOOK GUY -- IS THE FUTURE OF DC DIGITAL? DC Chief Creative Officer/Publisher Jim Lee has been in the news quite a bit lately... But Lee said something else that hasn’t gotten nearly the attention that it deserves.  As an article on GamesRadar put it, "As for what the future of DC looks like, Lee leans heavily on the idea of digital comic books as the best way to reach fans while maintaining a...

Devs exiting Lab Zero Games blame owner's persistent pattern of misconduct. Several developers have announced their departures from Skullgirls dev Lab Zero Games over the last few days, with all calling out the behavior and lack of accountability of studio owner Mike Zaimont as the reason.

Why this toy company creates play essentials that promote brain development. Jessica Rolph, cofounder of Lovevery, a children's toy company, and cofounder, Roderick Morris, have redesigned how children play through learning. Based on the research that the more babies are exposed to how the world works, the richer their neural networks become, Lovevery creates staged-based play essentials designed by...

India: How toys will be made part of National Education Policy 2020. The $1.7-billion toy market in India is likely to get a boost, once indigenous toy-making is made part of the education framework. The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 places special emphasis on local crafts like toy-making to be made part of the academic curriculum.

Do STEM toys actually teach kids science and math? With a rocky year of pandemic-related educational disruptions ahead, many parents are looking for ways to help their kids learn at home. Toys advertised as teaching STEM might seem like one way to fill the gap. But do they really work?

UK importers face seasonal logistics headache. Shippers from Asia to North Europe are said to be facing a mounting capacity crunch, while carriers are set to add to their woes with mid-month price rises and peak season surcharges. According to a report in The Loadstar, companies are currently experiencing three-to-four-week delays for FAVs (first available vessels) to North Europe, and even longer for the UK. 

Tips when Sourcing and Importing the Plush Toys from China Wholesale Market. China is the largest toy manufacturing country, and approximately 70% of the world’s toys are made in China. The United States is the world’s largest toy importer, followed by Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, France, Canada and Italy. In this post, we will explore the China toy wholesale market and see how to import toys from...

India should focus on digital gaming arena, develop games inspired from culture and folk tales: PM. India should tap the huge potential in the digital gaming arena by developing games inspired from its culture and folk tales, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday, while asserting that the focus should be on use of technology and innovation, besides manufacturing quality products that meet global standards.

iPhones with Fortnite installed hit eBay for crazy prices. Used iPhones with Fortnite installed are starting to show up on eBay at ridiculously high price tags. Apple booted the game out of its App Store last week after Fortnite’s maker, Epic Games, started offering people a way to bypass the tech company’s payment system for optional in-game purchases …

What games will launch on Sega's Astro City Mini arcade machine? There's a miniature version of Sega's classic arcade cabinet coming 17 December 2020, called Astro City Mini. Those of us who remember retro games will likely be chomping at the bit to get hold of this little system - but the catch is it's only destined for launch in Japan …

(the above posted after August 21st)

Games to the rescue! A look at gaming trends in a challenging year. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people everywhere have been playing games. In just a few months, the change in societal dynamic has impacted both sales and overall trends across the industry. According to data from The NPD Group, the resurgence in games has translated into a sales increase of around 250% since families began spending time ...

John Baulch from Toyworld - Any chance of some precedented times…it’s the Friday Blog! On the face of it, it’s been a relatively quiet news week in the toy world. In actual fact, there is plenty going on ‘behind the scenes’ – I am sitting on three major news stories at present. I won’t lie, that is one of the more frustrating situations for a media owner: I want to tell the world what is going on, but unfortunately my hands are...

Games Every Family Should Have For Game Night. My kids have barely mastered the concept of the game tag, but one day, I'm going to have a closet stocked with board games ready for a Friday night tradition with pizza and milkshakes. They might need to start with Candy Land, but eventually they're going to be beating me at Scrabble! And, as a total bonus, most of these games teach your kid something useful, too.

With titles like Battletoads and Grounded, Xbox Game Pass is inching closer to becoming like Netflix. Game Pass, Microsoft’s subscription service, is much like Netflix and other video streaming services in that, for a monthly fee, you have access to a broad range of experiences. If you follow Microsoft’s marketing, you’ll know that Game Pass is a place for the company’s big first-party games …

How to host a game nightWhat to Serve, Who to Invite, How to Play—Strategies for the Perfect Game Night. From party games to legacy games, setting up to hosting a crowd, tabletop game expert Erik Arneson gives you the strategies you need to host an epic game night.

Demand for Indian toys increased due to Corona and Chinese conflict. Children are studying and playing at home due to Corona. This has had a positive impact on the toy business. Demand for Chinese toys has come down due to the ongoing conflict between China and India. Indian toy manufacturers are also benefiting from this.

1/3 of Malaysian parents only spend less than 4 hours a week playing with their kids. For children, playtime is learning time. Babies, toddlers, young children and kids of all ages use play to learn new things, like shapes, colours, sounds, and numbers. In fact, many child educators call for more play as kids learn best that way.

The Japanese game became symbolic of how an entire generation lost the art of playing outdoors. Our virtual lives have taken on a new significance amid seemingly endless quarantines and requests for social distancing.. Covid-19 certainly accelerated the digitization of socialization, but it didn’t create it …

A guide to Thailand's video game marketThailand is the fourth-largest video game market within Southeast Asia and the 19th largest in the world. If you’re not seriously thinking about getting your video games into Thailand, or expanding your revenues there if you’re already in it, you absolutely must reconsider.

Facebook accuses the ‘Apple tax’ of stifling its plan to help struggling small businesses. Facebook is launching a new events feature that will let page owners and event organizers create paid online events to try to fill the gap created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the social media giant announced on Friday. But there’s one catch …

Raising the bar: what you don’t know could cost you your brandThe last thing a toy company wants to hear when you are about to launch a new product or service is that someone else may own rights to the brand that fits its product or service to a “T.” You may think that never happens, but it often does.

America’s Terrible Internet Is Making Quarantine Worse. Why millions of students still can’t get online. Because California suffered a surge in coronavirus cases this summer, students in Live Oak, a town about 50 miles north of Sacramento, will be learning virtually for the foreseeable future. Both Anderson and his students seemed nervous about how it would go. At 8:03, only eight of the 24 students had logged on...

Box Office Slowly Sputters Back to Life After Coronavirus Closures. After prolonged closures due to the coronavirus pandemic, movie theaters in the United States and other parts of the world are slowly starting to turn the lights back on, welcome patrons and hear their cash registers ring again.

Fmr. Toys ‘R’ Us CEO on why retailers may be in for a bad Christmas. July retail sales number rose 1.2% in spite of COVID-19. Jerry Storch, Former Toys ‘R’ Us CEO, joins The Final Round panel to discuss where the sector stands and what's next for retailers.

Chris James from Casual Game Revolution - News Flash: Tiny Epic Galaxies Blast Off, Telestrations Upside Drawn, Gamelyn Games has released a sequel to Tiny Epic Galaxies, The Op has released Telestrations: Upside Drawn, and Big Potato Games has two new party games out.

Remembering the toy industry's past . . . 

The Video Game Console Collector’s Field Guide. The Video Game Console Collector’s Field Guide is a 368-page compendium to identify and classify gaming hardware released in North America, Japan, and the United Kingdom from 1972 to present.

Yogi Bear Ball Toss from Transogram (1960). Yogi Bear was a relatively unknown bit-character in an animated TV show when he got his first big break as the face (literally) of a classic skill game for children. Released in 1960 from Transogram, the Yogi Bear Ball Toss challenged players to score points by tossing balls in the friendly grizzly bear’s mouth.

Heritage Auctions offers first edition sealed 'Pokemon' box, high-grade video games, and lower grade bucket-list comics up at their September auction. The prime tabletop gaming collectible from this auction is a Pokemon First Edition Base Set Sealed Booster Box from Wizards of the Coast. Stored away since 1999, this box is in its original shrinkwrap, and contains all 36 booster packs. According to Heritage, a similar box sold for $78,000 …

(the above posted after August 21st)

BACKSTORY: SLINKY — 75 YEARS OF AN AMERICAN CLASSIC. Another toy, Slinky, was born out of a mishap in 1943 when mechanical engineer Richard T. James was experimenting with tension coils in an effort to stabilize naval instruments. James dropped a coil and watched...

Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle Toy Re-released, Using the Original Molds from 1973.  Amazingly, those items are being made with the original molds that were first used to product the stunt cycle in 1973. The molds belong to American Classic Toy, owned by Jay Horowitz. 

Magic Sand from Wham-O (1981). Long before Kinetic Sand arrived in 2014, Wham-O used chemistry to create Magic Sand—a toy substance that defied nature. Released in 1981, Magic Sand was the sand that refused to get wet.

How these top sad 1980s toys defined your personality. Jam shorts! Arcades! The fall of the Berlin Wall! The Challenger explosion! Famine! Disease! Chernobyl! Only 1980s kids will recognise these amazing toys that defined a generation and laid the groundwork for GenX’s ...

PlaytimeFun_540x250_BloomReport_Ad_2_SEL

Worldwide Licensing News . . .  

Nintendo powers up Lunchables partnership. Nintendo and Kraft Heinz are extending their partnership to power up lunchtime. Beginning Sept. 1, families will be able to find characters from popular Nintendo Switch games on specially marked Lunchables packages. The characters featured on the new boxes include fan-favorites from video games including Animal Crossing …

Food Network to turn Hasbro’s Candy Land into new cooking show. Food Network has started production on a Candy Land TV show, based on the classic Hasbro game. Hosted by Emmy and Tony Award-winning actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth, the six-episode competition features cake and sugar artists tasked with creating confectionary showpieces for a chance to win $25,000.

Dynacraft introduces NCAA College Football mascots Ride-on Toys. The start of college football season is a little delayed this year but that’s not stopping Dynacraft from bringing some of that school pride to families across the country. Dynacraft BSC Inc. inked new deals with Fermata Partners for the University of Georgia license and the Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC) to secure licenses for use on a new line of plush ride-on toys.

Sony Pictures Consumer Products kicks off ‘Cobra Kai’ licensing program. “Cobra Kai” is getting an extensive licensing program with partners such as Funko and Bioworld. The latest program includes partnerships in categories including gaming, apparel, accessories, collectible toys, publishing, costumes, home goods and more.

LEGO and IKEA’s long-awaited collaboration ‘devises new way for creative play in the home. The fruits of a collaboration between IKEA and The LEGO Group have finally been unveiled, as the two brands join forces to launch BYGGLEK, a new storage system featuring LEGO studs and a special LEGO brick set. The collection will be sold in IKEA stores and online from October 1st and is designed to encourage play and infuse...

Hasbro Consumer Products expands licensing agent WildBrain’s representation to CEE and TurkeyHasbro appointed WildBrain CPLG as its new sub-representative in the Nordics and Benelux, and has now expanded WildBrain CPLG’s rights to include CEE and Turkey. WildBrain CPLG will now represent Hasbro’s Merchandise, Publishing, Promotions and short-term Location Based Entertainment business across Benelux...

‘Thomas & Friends’ season 24 comes to NetflixMattel Television’s Thomas & Friends season 24 debuts Sept 1. with 20 all-new 11-minute episodes. In the new season, Thomas, Emily, Percy, Gordon, Rebecca, Nia, and James visit new countries around the world where they encounter new characters, including an electric train from Japan, a car made entirely of locomotive parts, and an American inventor …

Bit Fry Game Studios announces licensing agreement with OneTeam Partners and the NFLPA. Bit Fry Game Studios, Inc. today announced its agreement with OneTeam Partners (“OneTeam”) and the NFL Players Association (“NFLPA”) to add an officially-licensed football game to the studios’ ever-expanding line-up of sports videogames.

Hasbro suits up for uncertain Halloween with Disguise. Hasbro renewed and expanded its licensing agreement with Disguise for an additional three years, starting in 2021. The deal will see the Jakks Pacific-owned costuming company design, market, manufacture and distribute Halloween ware based on Hasbro brands including Transformers, Power Rangers, G.I. Joe, My Little Pony and PJ Masks.

Moonbug locks in deals with HBO Max & MGA. The toyco and producer are teaming up on Little Tikes' first show, while the SVOD snagged Little Baby Bum spinoff Mia's Magic Playground. The deal with Moonbug is a slight shift for HBO Max, which has focused on building up a slate of original kids content rather than acquiring existing titles.

License Global magazine released its 2020 edition of the Top 150 Global Licensors report, which sees The Walt Disney Company rank at No. 1, reporting $54.7 billion in annual retail sales of licensed consumer products in 2019, which is flat against 2018’s sales. The ranked report is collated from the world’s most powerful brands and is based on prior-year sales...

Decorate a Mini-Build-A-Bear Workshop with Magna-Tiles. If you can’t go to your nearest Build-A-Bear workshop IRL, bring Build-A-Bear home with new Magna-Tiles sets from CreateOn. Kids can decorate their own mini-workshops with the Build-A-Bear Magna-Tiles sets, which come with reusable stickers of costumes and accessories to customize the tiles with. The collection includes the Workshop Cub Condo, the Pajama Party...

With Her Hair Care Brand Set To Clock $30 Million In Sales This Year, Mindy McKnight Forays Into Toys. The mother of six (including identical twin lifestyle influencers Brooklyn and Bailey McKnight) is teaming with consumer products licensor Jakks Pacific on a line of toys — including toy mannequin heads and other styling accessories — that are meant to help children learn how to style hair.

SPIN MASTER EXPANDS BAKUGAN GLOBAL LICENSING PROGRAM WITH FUNKO, SUPER IMPULSE, MORE. New licensees for Bakugan include Funko (Pop! Vinyl figures and accessories); Super Impulse USA (novelty toys); Jakks Pacific/Disguise (costume and dress up); Finesse Skateboards; Scholastic (publishing); Isaac Morris Ltd. (kids apparel); Ripple Junction (adult and junior apparel); Handcraft Manufacturing Corp.

Little Tikes’ Cozy Coupe gets animated for ‘Let’s Go Cozy Coupe’. ... for a new series from Moonbug and MGA Entertainment. Let’s Go Cozy Coupe will debut on the new Cozy Coupe YouTube channel beginning in late September. The series turns everyday preschool and playground games into big adventures as Cozy Coupe uses its imagination, freedom to explore, and drive to “play big”.

PlayMonster, Wind Sun Sky launch ‘Snap Ships: Dawn of Battle’ animated series. The immersive world of PlayMonster‘s Snap Ships action construction brand is expanding on YouTube. Act I of the eight-part original animated series, Snap Ships: Dawn of Battle, made its debut this past Friday, quickly racking up nearly 80,000 views as of this writing.

Amazon signs deal with Crossfire creator Smilegate to publish new game in western territories. Amazon has signed a deal with South Korean developer Smilegate RPG to publish an unannounced title. The deal is an exclusive one for North America and Europe. Smilegate RPG is a developer which is part of the Smilegate Group, which in turn also publishes the very popular Crossfire franchise.

Warner Bros. Games and DC announce Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. Warner Bros. Games and DC today announced Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, a new genre-bending action-adventure shooter that can be played solo or with up to four players in online co-op. Featuring an original narrative set in the DC universe, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League takes place in a richly detailed open-world Metropolis.

(the above posted after August 21st)

Moose Toys’ Collins Key toy line hits retail. Following a colorful preview at Toy Fair New York in February, Moose Toys‘ new collaboration with YouTubers Collins and Devan Key is hitting retail. The Collins Key YouTube channel boasts more than 21.5 million subscribers and averages more than 25 million views per video …

Hasbro Introduces Peaceful Bob Ross Monopoly Edition. "We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.” The latest edition celebrates the late American painter, art instructor and television host best known for his show The Joy of Painting. Despite the PBS instructional television program ending back in 1994, Ross has remained a pop culture figure achieving posthumous Internet fame in the 21st century.

UN partners with games developers with ‘Playing for the Planet Alliance’. MAG Interactive, Sybo, Space Ape, WildWorks, Playdemic, Fingersoft, Rovio, Pixelberry Creative, Future Games of London and GameDuell, have all committed to integrating “green activations” into their best-performing titles. With each activation being themed and matched to the game in question.

Radio Flyer, Tesla launch ride-on for toddlers. Radio Flyer and Tesla have teamed up to create a new ride-on for toddlers ages 18 months-4 years old: the My First Model Y. Priced at $99, the ride-on is designed to look like Tesla’s full-size Model Y vehicle and features a honking horn, working steering, an ergonomic seat, and black induction wheels. It has a weight capacity of 43 pounds.

WowWee, LEGO, and Sesame Workshop among winners of 2020 Licensing International Excellence Awards. After careful consideration, a panel of judges comprised of 152 executives from around the world evaluated more than 600 entries from companies in 22 countries to determine the nominees for the 2020 Licensing International Excellence Awards. The toy and kids’ entertainment industries were...

Conservation-focused toy brand Safari Ltd named new partner for Dino Dana. The family and kids’ production and distribution company, Sinking Ship Entertainment has secured a new toy deal for its Emmy award-winning series Dino Dana with the educational toy company Safari Ltd. The firm specializes in authentic, hand-painted figures.

Invictus Gaming, Secretlab take a seat together. China-based esports organization Invictus Gaming is collaborating with Singapore-based gaming chairmaker Secretlab. The collaboration is part of Secretlab’s expansion into China, according to Daily Esports. Through the collaboration, Secretlab plans to launch Invictus Gaming Edition chairs as a China exclusive.

Cloudco, Moonbug collaborate for Care Bears. Cloudco Entertainment and Moonbug Entertainment are plotting new adventures for the Care Bears. Under a newly inked agreement, Moonbug will take the reins in leading content creation, distribution, and management of the Care Bears YouTube channel.

Doctor Who card battler announced – BBC partners with Reality Gaming Group on blockchain-based title. The timelords at the BBC have signed a deal to create a blockchain-driven, digital collectible card game. UK company Reality Gaming Group, which is also responsible for AR mobile combat title Reality Clash, will develop and publish the game, titled Doctor Who: Worlds Apart.

Hasbro, GameMill team up for ‘G.I. Joe: Operation Blackout’. This fall, the legendary battle between G.I. Joe and Cobra returns to video game consoles for the first time since 2009’s movie-based G.I. Joe Retaliation. On Oct. 13, Hasbro and GameMill Entertainment will release G.I. Joe: Operation Blackout, a third-person shooter for Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and Playstation 4.

Just Play launches licensed face masks. Just Play is helping kids get back-to-school ready with a line of licensed face masks. The designs include Barbie, Hot Wheels, Ryan’s World, PAW Patrol, Blue’s Clues & You!, Harry Potter, Batman, Trolls, Minions, Jurassic World, Hello Kitty, and more …

People . . . 

Basic Fun’s Ashley Mady named committee chair for The Genius of PlayAshley Mady, head of brand development at Basic Fun!, is the new committee chair at The Genius of Play. Launched in 2015, The Genius of Play is The Toy Association‘s nonprofit effort “to raise awareness about play’s critical role in child development and the well-being of people of all ages” across the U.S. and Canada.

How a 20-something waiter made millions creating Pictionary: ‘I had no idea what I was doing’. Since the mid-1980′s, charades-inspired game Pictionary has sold over 38 million copies in 60 countries, making it one of the bestselling board games in the world. It’s even been licensed by popular sitcoms like “The Simpsons,” “Friends” and “The Facts of Life.” 

Who is Dave Clark, the new chief of Amazon’s giant retail business? Amazon's new retail chief, Dave Clark, has an unusual nickname: the Sniper. Underlings gave Clark, who has worked at Amazon during almost all of his career, that moniker after he told them that early in his tenure he would hide in the shadows at warehouses seeking to catch lazy workers slacking off who he could fire.

Genius Brands grows sales team. Former Corus and Kickstart Entertainment exec Jessica Brinder will oversee distribution for the company's growing slate. Brinder starts in the role today and will oversee global content sales of its kids shows, including Rainbow Rangers, Llama Llama and upcoming series Stan Lee’s Superhero Kindergarten.

Theresa Helmer will look to strengthen racial and cultural diversity in Disney Channel storytelling in new inclusivity roleNamed executive director of integrated content strategy and development, Helmer will be responsible for helping Disney Channel spotlight underrepresented groups in its content for kids ages two to 14. She will work closely across a number of Disney Channel divisions...

(the above posted after August 21st)

Crayola appoints new executive of communications and diversity, equity and inclusion managerCrayola has made its latest move to broaden its diversity and inclusion efforts within the company with the appointment of a new executive communications and diversity, equity and inclusion manager. The firm’s longstanding executive, Karen Kelly has been appointed to the position …

ASTRA HONORS LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARDEE JEFF PINSKERJeff knows games, or at least he knows enough about them to have helped create products that have collectively sold more than 41 million units at retail. Currently the CEO of Amigo Games North America, Pinsker is the 2020 recipient of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association’s (ASTRA) coveted Lifetime Achievement Award. 

“Power Kid Podcast,” host Phil Albritton speaks Brian McDonald, VP of sales and marketing at The Simplay3 Co. An expert in building profitable strategies for young and transitioning companies, McDonald previously served as vice president at Hedstrom, prior to which he spent 20 years at The Step2 Co., most recently as vice president, business development.

Hamleys CEO set to step down after just seven months. David Smith was appointed in January this year. The chief executive of Hamleys is set to leave his role at the end of August, a mere seven months after Reliance Brands, the retailer’s Indian owner, appointed him. Reports indicate that no reason for his sudden departure has been given, and that neither David Smith – a former executive at Debenhams and The Body Shop...

How a NASA scientist accidentally invented the Super Soaker. Dr. Lonnie Johnson might be one of the most brilliant inventors of our time. The scientist and engineer is responsible for over 100 patents, including a thermoelectric energy convertor and a thin film lithium battery. But his most famous invention? One of the best toys of the 20th century, the Super Soaker. And it came to existence all thanks to...

Ubisoft fires former Assassin’s Creed Valhalla creative director following an investigation. Ashraf Ismail, the former creative director for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, has been fired by Ubisoft, Bloomberg reports. Ismail stepped down from his role and took a leave of absence in June after a fan accused Ismail of lying about his marital status in order to pursue a romantic relationship with her.

Epic CEO Tim Sweeney says Apple fight is about ‘basic freedoms of all consumers and developers’. Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney has issued a series of public comments on his personal Twitter account regarding the legal fight the Fortnite creator initiated with Apple. he says Epic is fighting for “the basic freedoms of all consumers and developers.”

Companies . . . 

Sega wants to re-release more classic games on the Nintendo Switch. Sega has confirmed that Sega Ages, its series of ports and remasters of classic Sega Genesis and arcade titles on Nintendo Switch, has come to an end. This announcement comes as a surprise to fans. Thankfully, in a recent interview, Sega's Yosuke Okunari confirmed that the company still plans on bringing classic titles to Nintendo Switch in the future.

Hamleys expansion and investment ‘will be significant and worthy of a 260 year old brand’. Hamleys is pushing forward with expansion plans for its 260 year-old toy selling business which includes a refurbishment of its iconic London store on Regent Street and the potential to open new stores across the UK. The toy retailer’s current owner Reliance Brands has underlined its plans to for ‘significant investment’ …

Nintendo details upcoming Switch lineup with Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, and more. Nintendo is bringing a whole slate of new and remastered games to the Switch, the company announced today via a surprise Direct Mini. Included in its lineup is a remaster of GameCube title Final Fantasy Chronicles; the first three games of the SaGa series …

Activision prepares for battle with ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War’. On November 13, Activision will take the Call of Duty franchise back to the Reagan era with Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War. The sixth title to carry the Black Ops branding, Cold War is a direct sequel to 2010’s original Call of Duty: Black Ops and drops players right into a complex and volatile geopolitical landscape inspired by history.

Just Play is giving away gold-plated Slinkys for National Slinky DayNational Slinky Day is coming up on Sunday, Aug. 30, which also happens to be the 75th anniversary of the classic toy. Just Play is celebrating with a giveaway of 75 limited-edition, gold-plated Slinkys between Friday, Aug. 28, and Tuesday, Sept. 1. To enter, fans can share photos or videos on Instagram showing why they love Slinky

Fortnite’s new season pits Marvel’s biggest heroes against Galactus. The latest season of Fortnite is here, and in it some of the biggest Marvel heroes join forces to help save the battle royale island. The new season — technically Chapter 2: Season 4 — is dubbed “Nexus War,” and it’s a comic book-style event where major characters team up to fight off the planet-destroying villain Galactus.

Disney wants to help brands reach its Black and brown audience more effectively. A new partnership with Translation aims to meet brands’ urgency to connect with culture—and more diverse consumers. Back in April, ESPN CreativeWorks worked with agency Translation to create the most memorable ad around the insanely popular Michael Jordan doc The Last Dance

Reveal Snow Pets with a Mini-Avalanche of Overflowing Snow. This September, Be Amazing Toys! is launching Snow Pets, blind box collectibles that kids can reveal through a wintery reaction that sets off a mini-avalanche of overflowing snow. From capsule dispensers to water reveals, unboxing toys are getting more extreme every year to kids’ delight.

Hamleys to restore its London retail storeToys retailing giant Hamleys is planning to revamp its iconic London store. The brand is in the final stages of refurbishing the seven-floor store situated at London’s Regent Street. Toys retailing giant is also planning to open pop-up concessions and stores in Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle in England, Western Europe, Australia, the US and Canada.

SPIN MASTER, DAX SHEPARD WELCOME PARENTS TO THE PAW PATROL YEARS. Spin Master‘s PAW Patrol is currently in its seventh season on Nickelodeon, and when a new generation of kids discovers the series every few years, a new generation of parents does as well.

Since its debut in 2013, millions of parents have entered the world of Adventure Bay alongside their kids, and now, TV’s Dax Shepard...

Latest Switch Pro rumors point toward early 2021. After a brief hiatus, the souped-up Switch rumors are back. This time around, manufacturers speaking to the Economic Daily News (via Video Games Chronicle) say that Nintendo could roll out the long-rumored Switch Pro in early 2021.

Brew up more dungeon crawling options with 'D&D Tasha's Cauldron Of Everything'. Wizards of the Coast announced D&D Tasha's Cauldron of Everything, a new rulebook for Dungeons & Dragons, for release on November 17. The wizard Tasha has collected a compendium of lore from her days as an adventurer, and now she is imparting her wisdom in this new book.

Funko announces new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle pop vinyls. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are back once again with some brand new Pops from Funko. It has been quite some time that we have got new TMNT Pops so this is pretty exciting for fans.

Wizards of The Coast drops deets on 'Commander Legends' product line. Wizards of the Coast unveiled product line details for Commander Legends, a new set for Magic: The Gathering, which will land in retail stores on November 6, 2020. They announced this product line last year as the capstone release to their "Year of Commander"

BANDAI brings 'Yu-Gi-Oh!'s Magical Hats to life with a plush release. Shortly after the release of a 1:1 scale Pot of Greed replica, BANDAI has now brought Yu-Gi-Oh!‘s Magical Hats card to life with a plush release. A favorite of protagonist Yugi Moto and his spirit entity Yami Yugi (Pharoah Atem), in the manga/anime the trap card was often used to protect and conceal a monster during a potentially devastating attack by an...

DC Multiverse Batman revealed by McFarlane Toys. Todd McFarlane, one of the most iconic comic book artists of the late 20th century, has unveiled a brand-new DC Multiverse Batman action figure designed, created and produced by McFarlane and his award-winning McFarlane Toys company.

Studio71 Games unveils As You ‘Wich, the firm’s first female-lead tabletop gaming title. Studio71 Games is making new history for itself having partnered with game designers Janelle Jones and Sanji Moore to launch the company’s first female lead tabletop gaming title. A creative, multi-player sandwich building card game, the new title has been ten years in development, but now ready to launch under the name As You...

Lego’s Next Build: Worlds and Characters Created by Its Fans. The maker of tiny colorful bricks introduces a platform to get its ardent fans, as well as professional creators, to develop story lines and toy ideas. Entertainment has long been important to the $21 billion toy industry, which also ... Its Lego Ideas program allows people to submit ideas for new toys.

Hasbro unleashes a galaxy of new Star Wars Toys, retires 5POA after 43 years. Changes are coming to the extensive world of Star Wars toys from Hasbro. On its latest Hasbro Pulse Fan First Friday Livestream, the company revealed plans to send its classic, kid-focused, 3.75-inch scale of 5POA (named for five points of articulation) action figures “to the vaults” following an epic-sized, multi-retailer send-off.

IDW Games delays launch of Metal Gear Solid tabletop title stating it ‘won’t compromise quality’The revered games publisher, IDW Games has been forced to delay the release of the much anticipated Metal Gear Solid tabletop title for a second time, telling fans that it wouldn’t compromise its standards for quality to hit the 2020 release date. The news marks the second time the game has been delayed.

Epic launches Fortnite tournament themed around Apple dispute. Epic is continuing to respond to its ongoing legal battle with Apple in… creative ways. After initially launching the FreeFortnite campaign, announced via a Fortnite parody of the classic 1984 Apple advert, Epic has now moved on to feature the #FreeFortnite Cup.

VTech offers magical color play with new Myla's Sparkling Friends. Available Now. Following the success of last year's popular robotic toy Myla the Magical Unicorn™, a Toy of the Year finalist, VTech® announced today the availability of Myla's Sparkling Friends™, a dazzling line of collectible toys that brings magical color play to life.

Pelican squadron to the rescue in 'Yum Yum Island'. Asmodee USA will release Yum Yum Island, a family game by Space Cowboys, on September 25. All was well for the animals on Yum Yum Island until a giant moved in and started eating their food. Now, it's up to a hearty squadron of pelicans to airdrop food to the poor starving animals.

'Dark Magician Girl the Dragon Knight' summons new 'Yu-Gi-Oh! Tcg' accessories. Konami Digital Entertainment announced several new accessories for the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game for release on February 5.  Each accessory features artwork of the ‘Dark Magician Girl the Dragon Knight’ from Dragons of Legend: The Complete Series

Wizkids unleashes an over 9-inch tall dragon miniature to roam RPG DungeonsWizKids announced D&D Icons of the Realms: Adult Black Dragon Premium Figure, a dragon miniature for use with Dungeons & Dragons, to release into trade in December. The Adult Black Dragon Premium Figure is the next release in the chromatic dragon figure series.

(the above posted after August 21st)

Play-Doh gets into licensed construction. Hasbro is taking its classic compound into the construction category for the first time, with a new range that lets kids build iconic sets. Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? SpongeBob Squarepants, of course. Only now, that pineapple is made of Play-Doh.

Vivid details Q4 marketing plans for games range. Vivid has shifted its focus from traditional kids’ TV advertising to include parent-targeted campaigns for autumn/winter. Vivid is thinking outside the box this autumn/winter for the company’s marketing plans across its games portfolio, with new arrangements in place.

Step into a dark, dystopian world with 'Cloudage'. Capstone Games revealed CloudAge, a new deck-building game designed by Alexander Pfister, for release into retail in November. CloudAge takes place in a world where players fly above dried-up landscapes and battle a secret society called the Cloud militia to survive in a resource-scarce world.

McLaren introduces its newest children’s ride-on, the McLaren Senna. McLaren is offering kids the chance to burn some rubber with the launch of its latest McClaren ride-on, the third in the British manufacturer’s range of children’s models, following the McLaren P1TM and McLaren 720S.The new launch is modelled on McLaren’s track vehicle bearing the name of the late Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna.

Mattel Television launches ‘Barbie Princess Adventure’ on Netflix. Following the success of Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures on Netflix, Barbie Roberts is starring in a new animated musical from Mattel Television that is set to debut on the streaming platform beginning Sept. 1. Barbie Princess Adventure is a modern fairytale that follows Barbie and her friends on a class trip to the country of Floravia to meet Princess Amelia...

Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War is official, will be ‘inspired by actual events’. Call of Duty: Warzone may have somewhat overshadowed the rest of the Call of Duty franchise, with the battle royale racking up 75 million downloads as of this month — but of course Activision also wants to develop a new flagship Call of Duty campaign …

Be Amazing! debuts Snow Pets, a new line of blind box collectibles. Be Amazing! Toys, a leader in developing STEM-based kits that offer hands-on fun for kids, announces the debut of Snow Pets®, a new line of blind box collectibles revealed by a frosty reaction that sparks a mini-avalanche of overflowing snow. Snow Pets’ initial series of eight characters, along with eight “Rare” icy pets, will be available September 1.

Enter the world of Irish myth and legend in 'Mournequest'. Asmodee USA announced MourneQuest, a board game by Backspindle Games Ltd. based on a series of teenage novels by Garry McElherron, for release on September 25. In this game, players can embark on a journey into the Mourne Mountains to save the Kingdom of Mourne.

Mattel unveils hockey-themed Tim Hortons Barbie. Doll comes clad in red jersey, with skates, stick and helmet. Play hockey or play Barbies? Why choose when you can do both? Mattel unveiled the hockey-themed Tim Hortons Barbie, which comes clad in a red hockey sweater, helmet, skates and a hockey stick. (I so love this! My daughter plays ice hockey! -Mary)

Educational Insights contributes Playfoam to Chelsea’s Charity art kits. Educational Insights is stepping up to add some fun to art kits distributed by Chelsea’s Charity. Fueled by concerns from the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chelsea’s Charity, an organization created by 10-year-old Chelsea Phaire last year’ spread its wings beyond the East Coast in an effort to aid kids in up to 22 states.

NECA's latest Ninja Turtles toys pay tribute to 1990 movie. It's been 30 years since the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie hit theaters--and 30 years since the Ninja Turtles became a band. Now, as fans celebrate the anniversary of that first film, NECA is honoring it with two new action figure releases.

DC'S FUTURE ISN'T WHAT IT USED TO BE - BUT AT LEAST IT STILL HAS ONE (FOR NOW). Last week, DC Chief Creative Officer and Publisher Jim Lee told The Hollywood Reporter that the recent wholesale layoffs and restructuring did not signal that DC was about to get out of the comics publishing business anytime soon.  Setting aside the circumstances that make the question of whether your company is going to...

Netflix celebrates Black voices with new kids series. Rolling out on the SVOD and its kids YouTube channel, celebs like Tiffany Haddish and Lupita Nyong'o will read books about race on the new show from Jesse Collins Entertainment. Premiering September 1, the 12 x five-minute show is hosted by Marley Dias, founder of the #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign. The series will cover topics about identity, respect, justice...

Loot Crate to launch 60th anniversary Sanrio crate as the subscription box specialist details raft of partnerships. The pop culture subscription box service, Loot Crate, is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the world-famous Sanrio with the launch of a special October Anniversary themed Sanrio Crate. The limited edition crate will feature new and exclusive Hello Kitty and Friends collectables and gear. 

Hasbro HK launched its first virtual Bring kids to work day in August as the city faces a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Bring kids to work day website, which can be accessed remotely between 3-31 August, enables employees and their families to explore Hasbro’s Hong Kong office through virtual reality and experience more than 50 activities designed by the HR team. 

Disney’s first bisexual character confirmed by ‘Owl House’ creator. The show, which premiered in January of this year, follows 14-year-old Luz Noceda who travels to another world and embarks on a journey to become a witch. Along the way she has been shown to be attracted to both male and female characters. Series creator Dana Terrace recently took to Twitter to confirm fan theories that Noceda is bisexual and...

Selfridges launched its new sustainability initiative, Project Earth, a commitment from the retailer to change the way we shop by 2025. It builds on the steps that Selfridges has taken over the last decade to put sustainability at the centre of its business. Through Project Earth, the department store aims to help customers change the way they shop in three ways: by addressing the materials used in products, launching...

YuMe expands distribution for Harry Potter Magical Capsules. Following a debut last month during Walmart’s virtual Collector Con, distribution for YuMe‘s latest Wizarding World collectible range is expanding. Harry Potter Magical Capsules are hitting physical and digital shelves at Hot Topic, Walgreens, Indigo Books and Music, Walmart, and Amazon.

Fortnite vs Apple vs Google: a brief and very incomplete timeline. If you weren’t watching tech news, you missed an entire afternoon’s worth of cramming handfuls of popcorn in your mouth as you stared wide-eyed at the screen wondering what madness was coming next. Epic baited both Apple and Google into banning Fortnite from their respective app stores …

EA Access and Origin Access will combine under new EA Play banner.  Rebranding streaming services is very in these days across a number of entertainment industries, and EA is jumping on the trend by rebranding its EA Access and Origin Access services simply as EA Play. There are no financial changes for customers, nor does the rebranding require any additional effort for people to play games under their current...

Epic Games is now also suing Google over 'anti-competitive' Android policies. Following its lawsuit against Apple and Google's own removal of Fortnite, Epic has filed a similar lawsuit against Google, though there are some key differences between the two cases due to how each platform owner handles their mobile ecosystems.

Games Workshop announces two more warbands for 'Warhammer Underworlds: Beastgrave'. Games Workshop announced two more warbands for Warhammer Underworlds: Beastgrave, Morgok's Krushas and Morgwaeth's Blade-Coven, for release on August 22. Each of these sets are playable in Warhammer Age of Sigmar via a downloadable warscroll, and will retail for $35.00.

Wizkids unleashes 'Magic: The Gathering Unpainted Miniatures'. WizKids announced Magic: The Gathering Unpainted Miniatures, a new Deep Cuts miniatures line for use with D&D Magic: The Gathering-themed rulebooks, for release in November. WizKids also announced that they would release D&D Icons of the Realms Miniatures: Mythic Odysseys of Theros in August.

Ultra pro unveils 'Mewtwo' accessories for Pokemon TCG. Ultra PRO unveiled MewTwo accessories, for use with Pokemon Trading Card Game, that will be released into trade in November 2020. Ultra PRO also recently announced Dungeon's & Dragons: Icewind Dale Heavy Metal Dice for release in November 2020.

TV soap, Emmerdale, star Charley Webb launches new sustainable toy brand Nordi Babi. The Emmerdale star and entrepreneur, Charley Webb has launched a new toy brand for babies and pre-schoolers, inspired by the Scandinavian look and style. Called Nordi Babi, the toy line was launched via the soap star’s Instagram page, with the first run already a sell-out success.

Hasbro Reveals Newest Power Rangers Wave Including Zeo Red Ranger and Another GoldarHasbro gave Pulse members a first look at the wildly anticipated, and speculated, Wave 6 of the Power Rangers Lightning Collection. After prototypes leaked earlier in the week, they were confirmed during the Fanfirst Friday presentation …

‘Fortnite’ Season 4 rumored to be Marvel-themed with Thor, Wolverine. Marvel and DC have been doing battle with different Fortnite crossovers for a few years now. But Marvel may be assembling an entire Infinity Gauntlet worth of crossovers next.

POP-WebBanner01-540x250.png
Pottick-Ad-High-Res-01.jpg

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information Relative To Our Industry . . . 

Coronavirus: UK worst hit among major economies. The UK was the hardest hit by Covid-19 among major economies from April to June, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has said. Its economy suffered its biggest slump on record over the three-month period as coronavirus lockdown measures pushed the country officially into recession.

(the above posted after August 21st)

Tips to stay creative in the time of COVID. COVID-19 has changed every aspect of our lives, and it is no different for the toy industry. On one hand, toys are now more important than ever, with all the extra time families are spending together; yet at the same time, it’s harder to produce the highly polished content and commercials to which the industry is accustomed …

The new game plan for Olympic-inspired productsWhen the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo were postponed to 2021 due to COVID-19, toymakers around the world had to rethink their game plans for summer product launches. Some toycos like Mattel have chosen to move forward with consumer products programs as planned, while others like Hasbro have pushed back launches by a year …

Licensing’s COVID conundrum: movie-based toys and their films are completely out of syncThe ripple effect of unseen variables and a world that has been hard to predict continue to shape the evolution of doing business during the COVID-19 era. One major point of impact comes at the intersection of the toy industry and the licensing business, particularly where Hollywood is concerned …  

Toy Safety and Counterfeit Related Articles . . . 

Toys containing 8 dangerous chemicals including lead found on sale in the UK. Parents have been warned about eight dangerous chemicals, including lead and mercury, that have been found in children’s toys. An investigation by campaign group unchecked reveals that hundreds of counterfeit toys, cosmetics, and jewelry were found to have contained dangerous chemicals or dangerous levels of certain chemicals.

LOL doll furore: Toys R Us removes dolls from UAE shops. Following an outcry from UAE parents regarding the inappropriate nature of markings on some LOL Surprise! Dolls, the distributor for LOL across the MENA region, Toys R Us, has taken the decision to remove the dolls from their shelves.

(the above posted after August 21st)

Amazon can be liable for faulty and unsafe products, says new US court rulingA recent court ruling in the US could be about to make it harder for the online marketplace giant, Amazon, to avoid responsibility for unsafe goods sold on its platform. It’s a line that Amazon has long held much to the frustration of the toy and games industry …

Hidden feature on popular LOL Suprise! dolls leaves parents outragedAn outraged Queensland, Australia, mum has issued a warning to other parents after discovering what she says are inappropriate hidden features on a popular children’s toy. Kate Worsfold took to Facebook with a scathing assessment of her daughter’s LOL Surprise! Dolls …

Hasbro recalls a pair of super soakers because of their dangerous stickers. When the Super Soaker was first released back in 1990, it sparked a huge controversy when miscreants reportedly started filling the large tanks with chemical irritants and shooting unsuspecting victims. Thirty years later, the Super Soaker is back in the news again for being dangerous, but this time it’s a result of decorative labels …

UL launches BIS recognized toy testing services for domestic and foreign manufacturers in india. UL, a global safety science company, today announced the launch of the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) recognized testing services for domestic and foreign toy manufacturers in the country as per the Indian Standards (IS). UL recently added the new testing capabilities at its facility in Gurugram, India.

Peggy Brown Consulting Ad 540x250 pxl.jp

Press Releases . . .

SING, DANCE & JAM IN CLASS WITH ‘SCHOOL PASS’ PROGRAMMING LIVE-STREAMED TO PRESCHOOLS. Good News For Early Childhood Educators: Jammin With You Won’t Let Coronavirus Stop The Music! Wellesley, MA (August 25, 2020) – School Pass is bringing music back into day cares and preschools that thought they couldn’t have it. School Pass has your answer for the day the music died. Thanks to School Pass, children are clapping along as the virtual music teacher strums her guitar. Eyes are wide, smiles are big and little bodies are moving to the beat—it’s just that they’re at home. Even classrooms who are meeting in person are able to offer upbeat live music without the professional musician in...

Hasbro’s Iconic PLAY-DOH Brand Launches Cans of Kindness Campaign in Partnership With Save the Children & Actress Eva Longoria. To mark this back to school season and honor educators, the iconic PLAY-DOH brand from global play and entertainment company Hasbro, Inc (NASDAQ: HAS) is launching Cans of Kindness, a global initiative to recognize and reward teachers that uplift, inspire and encourage children...

JALIC BLADES TO PRODUCE REPLICA OF UHTRED’S ICONIC SWORD FROM THE LAST KINGDOM. With its fullered blade and distinctive amber pommel, the trusty weapon carried by Uhtred Ragnarsson, the hero of The Last Kingdom series on Netflix, has quickly become one of pop culture’s most recognizable swords. Now, thanks to a collaboration by Spotlight Licensing on behalf of Carnival Films, Jalic Blades will soon...

Moose Toys Unwraps Three New Must-Have Toys Ahead of the 2020 Holiday Season: Squeakee the Balloon Dog, Gotta Go Flamingo and FailFix. Launching the happy in holidays with the first-ever robotic balloon dog popping with personality, a hilarious pooping flamingo that's gotta go and messy hair don't care!

uKloo and MAJic Gotta GUND Deal. New Plush Pods, fun spring-clip, two-in-one plush pals, are now available from GUND, it was announced today by uKloo Kids, Inc. and MAJic Creative Inc.. Plush Pods (MSRP $15 each, for ages 3+) are adorable two-in-one plush toys. Just pinch the clip in the back of the 9.5" plush animal and it'll open wide for a surprise inside. Plush Pods bring make believe to life with open and...

Gray Matters Games announced release of its new team building game, Office Decathlon, where you can Show the Office Who’s Boss!

The game, a series of Olympic-inspired physical and mental challenges, replicates the style of a traditional decathlon and the humor of “The Office” television show.  Office Decathlon offers 120 challenges separated into three categories: team building, icebreakers and “just for fun”...

Industry Veteran Jeff Freeman Joins PlayMonster Leadership as Vice President Global Operations. a veteran senior-level business management and operations executive whose career includes twenty years in leadership positions at American Girl/Mattel, will join the team in the newly created role, reporting to CEO Bob Wann and based in the company's corporate headquarters in Beloit, WI.  In his role, Freeman...

Nintendo released a new Indie World video showcasing a wide variety of indie games coming to the Nintendo Switch system this year and next. Highlights of the video include rogue-like dungeon crawler Hades, card-trick adventure game Card Shark and Raji: An Ancient Epic, an action-adventure game inspired by Hindu and Balinese mythology that launches for Nintendo Switch later today.

 

News from Associations, Trade Shows, Awards and Festivals  . . .

(ASTRA, Hong Kong, LIMA, Spielwarenmesse, TA and more) 

How to watch the Gamescom Opening Night Live show. Plus, how to tune into all four days of nonstop gaming news. The opening keynote for Gamescom, the biggest gaming convention on Earth, is happening today, August 27th. If you want to tune into that, we’ve provided all the info below that you’ll need. The gaming news will continue to pour until the event ends on Sunday, August 30th.

Spielwarenmesse’s New Exhibitor Center puts newcomers in a prime space. Spielwarenmesse eG is offering prime space for exhibitors that are new to the annual international toy fair. The New Exhibitor Center at the 72nd Spielwarenmesse will showcase newcomers from around the world in Hall 3A for the duration of the show, which will take place Jan. 27-31 in Nuremberg, Germany.

DC’s FanDome set the new gold standard for virtual events. In a time when we’re oversaturated with virtual events, it’s impossible not to notice that most of them don’t exactly run smoothly. There are technical issues, sessions that run too long, and people so burned out on Zoom chats that sitting down for another video call on a Saturday afternoon is torturous. It’s for these reasons that the sheer excellence of DC...

Play at Home Fest returns for second weekend as Drumond Park, Geomag, and Kids’ Kreations take the stage.  Drumond Park, Geomag, and Kid Kreations’ fashion doll brand, DesignaFriend and the Argos top 12 toys for Christmas pick, Sisi Doll, will be among the headline acts at the returning Play at Home Fest this weekend. The second installment of the popular virtual family festival follows on from the vast success...

Toy Shop UK has unveiled the winners of its 13th annual Independent Toy Awards, highlighting the products that the UK’s indie toy retail scene think will be the top picks for parents this Christmas. A full list of winning products can be seen at http://www.toyshopuk.co.uk/ita/ 

Medal logos have been awarded across 30 categories, with gold, silver, bronze prizes being awarded. 

Virtually Expo reveals UK Games Expo Awards winners for 2020. UK Games Expo has wrapped up a successful all-digital 2020 Covid-19 secure version of its annual offering this year with the big reveal of the winners of its UK Games Expo Awards. Not allowing the pandemic to stand in the way of its yearly event, organisers moved the show to its Virtually Expo home this month.

(the above posted after August 21st)

GAMA hires Jen Kuhn as new Communications ManagerThe Game Manufacturers Association announced that they have hired Jen Kuhn as their new Communications Manager. Kuhn comes with a decade of experience working in the communications field …

World of Toys will return to Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair 2021 with new safety measures, Spielwarenmesse confirms. The 2021 HK Toys & Games Fair will once again play host to the popular international fair programme, World of Toys, created by Spielwarenmesse to make overseas trade fairs more accessible to companies. The international pavilion will be held at the Hong Kong show taking place in January next year.

Halloween ComicFest 2020 to feature an expanded line of exclusive collectibles. Halloween ComicFest, the comic book industry’s premiere Halloween event, will take place at comic book shops across the United States on October 31. On the heels of a successful Free Comic Book Summer 2020, Halloween ComicFest will shift this year to focus exclusively on merchandise and collectibles.

UK Virtual Toy Soldier Fair 2020. COVID-19 has forced the organizers of the Midlands Toy Soldier Fair to pivot to an online-only format. UK Virtual Toy Soldier Fair 2020 will take place online Sunday, September 27th, from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM GMT. Between now and then, an expanding roster of virtual seller “tables” will be posted on the event’s website.

SCORE Banner ad.jpg

 

Top Stories from Trade Magazines Worldwide this Week . . .

Adventure Media & Events (US)

aNb Media's (US)

  1. The Chicago Toy and Game Group Rebrands as People of Play (POP) and Announces Week of Virtual Programming to Kick Off 2020 Holiday Season

  2. Skechers X Dr. Seuss Footwear Collection Launches

  3. All in the Family: The Coster Family

  4. Firefly Secures Zoltar's Future With New Deals

  5. CCA and B LLC, Known for The Elf on the Shelf, Rebrands as The Lumistella Company

  6. WildBrain CPLG Wins Top Honors as Agency of the Year at 2020 International Licensing Awards

  7. Moose Toys and YouTube Creators Collins and Devan Key Launch Exclusive Toy Line

  8. Be Amazing! Debuts Snow Pets, a New Line of Blind Box Collectibles

  9. Owens Corning Marks 40 Years With MGM's Pink Panther

  10. The Very Hungry Caterpillar Extends Action for Children Partnership

Toyworld (UK) 

  1. Any chance of some precedented times…it’s the Friday Blog!

  2. Hamleys CEO set to step down after just seven months

  3. US court ruling means Amazon can be held liable for defective goods

  4. BTHA releases update on London Toy Fair

  5. Retail veterans to front rival £6.5b bids for Asda

  6. KAP Toys confirms distribution agreement for Lego Lites

  7. Moose and Collins Key partner on exclusive toy line

  8. Brainstorm to launch KlikBots at retail this month

  9. Launch of Vivid’s Vet Squad well underway

  10. M&S to cut 7,000 jobs over the next three months

ICv2: THE BUSINESS OF GEEK CULTURE's (US) 

  1.  Rolling for Initiative -- WOTC Drops ACD and What It Means to You. Oh, and April Fools.
  2.  WizKids Unleashes 'Magic: The Gathering Unpainted Miniatures'!
  3.  WizKids Reveals New Wave of 'Pathfinder Battles Deep Cuts'
  4.  Amazon, Walmart Double Down on Third Party Sellers, Book Business Unites vs. Amazon, More
  5.  More Unpainted 'Magic: The Gathering' Minis
  6.  New 'Dungeons & Dragons Nolzur's Marvelous Miniatures' Character Packs Are Headed to Retail for the Holidays
  7.  Furnish the Jarl's Longhouse with 'Deep Cuts: Vikings'
  8.  'Godtear' Welcomes Two More Champions
  9.  Don't Get Trapped Under Ice Without 'D&D Heavy Metal Dice'!
10.  GAMA Hires Jen Kuhn as New Communications Manager

TOYS Magazine (Germany) 

Toy & Hobby (Australia) 

Nación Juguetes (Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Chile & Spain)

Video of the Week

Steve Starobinsky, CMO Diverse Marketing, Founder Diverse Insights, KID@HEART♥️

Interviews Rick Derr of Learning Express

On today’s episode we have toy store owner and social media success story, Rick Derr of @Learning Express Lake Zurich. Rick leveraged insights and his network to pivot during the pandemic to get into new categories of business and flat out make it happen. He is the the most influential retailers in the specialty toy business - collecting over 50k followers, he is incredible transparent with data points, advice, and success stories. He is the toy man of Lake Zurich, Illinois, and one heck of a merchant

 

Thank you for being a reader of the Bloom Report. — Mary and Graeme

 

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

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

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

If you would like to reach Philphilip.bloom100@verizon.net   

Publisher: Mary Couzin, Chicago Toy & Game Group, Inc.

Managing Editor: Graeme Thomson

Assistant Editor: Patrick Fisher