the Bloom Report

Worldwide Toy Industry's #1 News Summary

Below is August 21 - August 28, 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! 

Last week Richard Highfield of Surprise Marketing in the UK questioned some of the points made by Jacqueline Vong in her op-ed piece: East Meets West. Where are we going from here?. Jacqueline answers his points this week below.

On a warm and fuzzy note, as autumn approaches, many have asked about bringing back Phil Bloom's iconic sweater once again. Justin Discoe, the creative who did the original photoshop on yours truly, happily obliged. I hope the images at the end of this newsletter bring a smile as we head into the weekend. 

Onward and Upward, 

Mary Couzin

Jacqueline Vong Answers Richard Highfield's Comments on her East Meets West. Where are we going from here? Op-ed piece.

I am excited to see a healthy amount of debate and reflection given to my op-ed in the Bloom Report. With the upmost respect to my UK colleague, I would like to address the points of Mr. Highfield’s rebuttal. I stand by my op-ed conclusion that there will be a shift of prominence from Hong Kong into Shenzhen. It was with a heavy heart I proposed such a dramatic change however, both my experiences and extensive research informed this perspective.

 

The violent police response to the protests from last year have caused damage to several areas forcing shops, restaurants and formerly resilient companies to be boarded up or close down.  Specifically, within the areas that Mr. Highfield highlighted, the City Super grocery store in Harbor City as well as the luxury goods store Valentino from Canton Road of Tsim Sha Tsui were either damaged or temporarily closed as a result of these protests. The Wanchai Convention Center where toy exhibitors gathered, was the main hub for protests and clashes. I saw the rubble of damaged cobblestone streets and many areas cordoned off; the damage was unimaginable as I once considered Hong Kong to be one of the safest cities in the world. This upheaval, coupled with the impact of a global pandemic and the implementation of a National Security Law which has limited freedoms of individuals, collectively has brought tourism and the economy to a standstill. Read More...

Jim McCafferty: EMPATHY WITHIN THE TOY INDUSTRY - tBR Person of the Week

Empathy is a powerful tool across numerous industries. And particularly in the toy business!

 

Is it fair to assume toy companies leverage their power while making too much money? Is it fair to believe inventors make too much money while getting off the hook so easily? Is it fair to assert that retailers have unrealistic margin requirements, making it difficult for companies to invest in new opportunities?

 

This feels like a Freaky Friday moment, right? Toy companies fail to appreciate how difficult it is to be an inventor. When inventors submit a product idea, the toy company representative says, “Hmm, I love it, but we just don’t have a brand which fits your invention. We must pass on this one.”

 

The inventor is screaming in her own mind when she hears that oft-spoken phrase. She suggests, “Why not create a new brand?” Yet the toy company representative explains how it requires a huge investment to grow a brand from a seedling to a viable business.

 

The representative continues, “The invention community does not appreciate the massive challenges and frustrations working in the toy company system, not to mention the difficulties faced in working with top-tier retailers!”  Read More...

Gray Matters Games: HOW A ROAD TRIP AND GOOGLE SEARCH STARTED A GAME COMPANY - tBR Company of the Week

HOW A ROAD TRIP AND GOOGLE SEARCH STARTED A GAME COMPANY

 

Gray Matters Games started on a family road trip when co-founder, Joe Barron, had a car full of passengers to entertain and whipped up a trivia-based game with a Name That Tune betting twist. After a year of testing it with friends and family, the initial concept for the company's first game, You Bet-Cha!, was born.

 

Now all Joe and his co-founder (and also wife) Lauren needed to figure out was how to publish a board game with no previous industry experience. Enter...the Google search. Lauren started with a search for “game designer Chicago,” and the third entry down was a company called Idea Monster headed by Luis Diaz.  Little did they know that Luis is known for being one of the most talented designers in the industry, plus he is a blast to work with.  Luis then introduced Joe to Jodi Meusel, now CEO of The Creative Fold.  Jodi and her team are phenomenal and have helped Gray Matters successfully navigate the game industry since day one. Next, with Jodi’s introduction, Joe found himself at a coffee shop eating donuts with Mary Couzin and learning about CHITAG (now People of Play)!  Joe attended the New Inventor Track at CHTAG in 2017 and met tons of amazing people in the industry. Since then, Gray Matters has published five games that are sold in over 3,000 stores across five countries - all thanks to a Google search and the power of networking! Read More...

 

Financial & Legal News . . . 

Walmart’s answer to Amazon Prime is cheaper and has gas discounts. The retail giant is offering free delivery from its 4,700 U.S. stores as it attempts to win over homebound consumers during the pandemic. Walmart said more than 160,000 items — including toys, electronics and groceries — will be eligible for free delivery under the new program.

Interactive storytelling platform Dorian raises $3.25 million in funding. Interactive storytelling platform Dorian has raised $3.25 million through a seed funding round led by March Gaming. Dorian is being pitched as a "no-code platform that allows writers to turn fiction into interactive visual games" and generate revenue from their content.

Trump’s TikTok deal has hit a serious roadblock. TikTok’s high-profile search for a US buyer is hitting a roadblock after weeks of public negotiations and months of national security debates. A string of reports from Reuters, Bloomberg, and The Wall Street Journal describes a growing stalemate over the algorithm behind TikTok’s For You page, arguably the most important piece of software the company has.

Marvel's Avengers sets new beta download record on PlayStation. Following in the wake of news that Fall Guys has become the most downloaded PlayStation Plus game of all time, Square Enix has now announced that the beta for Marvel’s Avengers managed to set a PlayStation-wide record as well.

AT&T no longer looking to sell off Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment parent company AT&T is reportedly no longer looking to sell off the video game development and publishing division. According to sources speaking to Bloomberg, one factor in the change of heart is the decision that WBIE might be considered too valuable to sell off.

Big Fish Games lays off 250 staffBig Fish Games laid off a sizable portion of its staff today, a reduction an internal letter obtained by GeekWire says comes from a desire to pivot operations rather than concerns over company funds. Ultimately, around 250 people stand to lose their jobs in this round of layoffs.

Canadian distributors merge. Two Montreal-based distributors are merging effective September 2, the companies announced, with changes in Canada but no impact on U.S. operations.  Game distributor Luma Games and toy and game distributor ILO307 will operate as ILO307 across both English and French-speaking Canada, and Luma Imports will continue to be the brand for the American market.

Rubie’s Costume Co. heads to the auction blockSubstantially all assets of Rubie’s Costume Co., which filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection in April, are headed to the auction block. Qualified bids are being accepted through Sept. 16, with a Sale Hearing set to take place on Sept. 23 before the Honorable Alan S. Trust, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge.

China-linked mobile games including PUBG Mobile have been banned in India. The Government of India has banned over 100 mobile applications with links to China, including popular games like PUBG Mobile and Arena of Valor. Many of those blocked titles have ties to Chinese companies including Tencent and Netease, which have established themselves as major players both within China and on the global market.

Planeta Junior acquired a stake in ZAG Entertainment: interview to Ignacio Segura. Licensing International Italy interviewed Ignacio Segura, CEO of Planeta Junior. L.I. “You recently acquired a stake in ZAG Entertainment – the culmination of your excellent and longstanding relationship. How did this partnership come about?”

Sistema, Russia-China fund raise $281 mln from sale of toy retailer. Russian conglomerate Sistema said on Wednesday that it and the Russia-China Investment Fund had raised 20.7 billion roubles ($281 million) from the sale of 25% of shares in Russia’s biggest toy retailer Detsky Mir. The sale, which follows others by the partners this year and in 2019, sees them exit Detsky Mir entirely. It also makes Detsky Mir, which sells toys, baby food and other products, the first Russian company with a free float of 100%.

Apple says App Store appeals process is now live, so developers can start challenging decisions. Apple on Monday announced that its new App Store appeals process, first revealed at WWDC in June, is now live, meaning developers can challenge Apple over whether their app is in fact violating one of its guidelines. In addition to that, Apple says developers can also suggest changes to the App Store guidelines …

India’s toy industry can’t meet domestic demand, expectation... India’s toy industry – estimated to be worth just Rs 5,000 to 6,000 crore, making up less than 1% of the world market. It gets about 25% share of India’s toy market, the rest of it dominated by Chinese toys. If

you remove Made-in-China toys from the market, local manufacturers ..

Chinese 'copycats' of LEGO sentenced for copyright infringement. Nine people in Shanghai were sentenced up to six years in prison on Wednesday for infringing on the copyright of Danish toymaker LEGO, as China looks to take strict measures to protect intellectual property. The business' illegal turnover amounted to 330 million yuan ($48.31 million), Shanghai No.3 Intermediate People's Court said in their verdict.

The “Anti-Amazon” Alliance – Amazon has finally met its match. Amazon has finally met its match. And it’s all because of one simple reason: It finally has legitimate competition. Below, I’ll show you the three companies - what I call the "anti-Amazon" alliance - all coming for Amazon’s throat. All are rapidly stealing key parts of Amazon’s business. And all will prove to be much better investments in the coming years…

India: MSME ministry to support local toy industries. The Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) will extend all possible help to local toy industries, said MSME minister Nitin Gadkari. The minister took to twitter on Sunday, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi batted for the local toy industry in his monthly radio program.

Sweden's MAG Interactive acquires mobile trivia dev Sventertainment. Swedish mobile game company MAG Interactive is acquiring all shares of Sventertainment AB, developer of Swedish live trivia app Primetime, for SEK 20 million cash ($2.3 million). MAG Interactive is the company behind mobile trivia game QuizDuel. Primetime has a user base of about 100,000 daily active users

Planet Zoo dev Frontier has a new publishing label: Frontier Foundry. This week British game studio Frontier Developments launched its first third-party publishing label, Frontier Foundry, with the promise of already having signed five games to the label over the last year. This is a significant move for the 25-year-old company …

Apple removes Fortnite developer Epic from App Store. Apple has terminated Epic Games' account from its App Store amid a legal battle over in-app payments on the Fortnite game. Apple had already removed Fortnite from the store after the game offered a discount on its virtual currency for purchases made outside of the app, from which Apple receives a 30% cut.

What does Walmart see in TikTok? Millions of young shoppers. Walmart may be the world’s largest retailer, but it has mostly failed in its efforts to break Amazon’s online dominance. Could TikTok, a fast-growing 3-year-old app filled with goofy videos, be the answer?

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Trends, Market Research Reports . . .  

Cloud gaming: Are game streaming services bad for the planet? 

Financial & Brokerage News . . . 

How will the market react to JAKKS Pacific, Inc. stock getting a bearish rating? . . . Hasbro stock gearing for a breakout here . . . Spin Master Corp. (TSE:TOY) Not Flying Under The Radar . . . Here's Why You Should Hold on to Hasbro (HAS) Stock Now . . . Hasbro vs Mattel: Which Toy Maker Is The Better Play Amid COVID-19?

Financial Reporting . . . 

LEGO sees first half sales and profits increases as Technic, Star Wars, Classic, and Harry Potter lead the charge. LEGO has also seen operating profit rise by 11 per cent compared to the same period last year, hitting DKr 3.9bn. This momentum, according to LEGO’s CEO Niels Christiansen has also continued into the first two months of the second half of the year, suggesting that the pandemic has made minimal...

UK: Online marketplace OnBuy sets new growth record of 24,000 per cent. OnBuy has revealed record growth figures of 24,000 per cent GMV growth for the end of this fiscal year. The firm has landed the impressive result just four years after first launching onto the scene. The latest figures cement OnBuy’s strong market position …

CMON chooses new auditorCMON Ltd. held an "Extraordinary General Meeting" of shareholders on August 27 and voted to appoint Zhonghui Anda CPA Limited as the company’s new auditor, one step toward a resumption in trading of the company’s stock.

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 . . . 

This 84-Year-Old Gamer Has More Than 900,000 ‘Grandkids’. Shirley Curry has cultivated a following on YouTube with her charming videos of journeys through The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Shirley Curry has clocked thousands of hours of gameplay since the 1990s. She’s been a gamer longer than many of today’s top competitors have been alive.

Something Big Is Happening In ‘Fortnite’ Right Now. It appears that Epic Games will be making lots more changes lots more frequently to Fortnite in Season 4. The Marvel-themed season, which has introduced characters like Thor and Groot and She-Hulk, is off to a great start and it looks like things aren’t slowing down anytime soon.

The winner of Fall Guys’ two-week bidding war for an in-game costume is a four-way teamup. Brands and influencers have locked in a Twitter bidding war for the chance to get a branded costume added to Fall Guys since August 17th, and that bidding war came to an end today. G2 Esports, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, Aim Lab, and Jimmy “MrBeast” Donaldson, have emerged victorious as a team effort, pledging to donate...

The September issue of Toy World magazine is out now. This issue includes a comprehensive feature on Collectible & Pocket Money toys, as well as the second part of Toy World’s special Show Off feature, this time focusing on independent retail suppliers. We also explore the changing nature of pre-Christmas marketing campaigns, as the lines between TV and everything else become increasingly blurred.

The secret of CoComelon: How one dad's hobby turned into America's most-watched YouTube channel. The brand makes an estimated $120m each year, according to the Wall Street Journal. CoComelon started out as a hobby for one Orange County, California couple fifteen years ago after they decided to make short animated videos as a way to entertain their sons.

Rizwan Virk Apple, Google or Facebook? The Fortnite lawsuit shows who's been getting too much love. Apple has been doing exactly what it always accused IBM and Microsoft of doing: stifling innovation, killing competition and hurting consumers. Now, finally, the glow may be starting to wear off as the curtain is being pulled back on some of Apple’s less-than-savory business practices …

Made in India toy brands that are on top of their game. From traditional Indian toys to innovative new board games, these toy makers are dishing out some top-notch stuff. To anyone asking if there are any Indian brands making toys that are fun, smart and sturdy, here are nine options to pick from …

Toys are building blocks—of culture as well as economy. In the early 1980s, my father’s colleague in the Indian Foreign Service CB Muthamma, the fiery Kodava who was the first woman to enter the civil services via examination gave me an unusual task. She wanted me to make some wooden building bricks that she wanted to present to her grand nephews and nieces. In her typically forthright way, she expressed anger at...

DC unmasks plans for ‘Batman Day’. DC has unveiled plans for the global celebration of Batman Day on Sept. 19. The celebration invites fans from around the world to participate in a wide variety of Batman-themed activities that honor the DC Superhero.

Remembering the toy industry's past . . . 

Why retro toys like Barbie and Care Bears are flying off the shelves. Decades-old toy brands like Care Bears and Monopoly are flying off the shelves as parents turn to reliable hits from their own childhoods to keep their kids busy during the coronavirus, The Post has learned.

A brief history of online games. For most of human existence our ability to play together has been circumscribed by our physical connection with others in our immediate vicinity, a radiating circle of family, friends, and neighbors, spiced with an occasional get together with more …

100-year-old toys adorning Baroda palace restored.  Vadodara: Exquisitely carved and century-old wooden toys that were inspired by celebrated painter Raja Ravi Varma’s lithographs have been restored to their original form …

PlaytimeFun_540x250_BloomReport_Ad_2_SEL

Worldwide Licensing News . . .  

Playmobil rolls out classic Volkswagen. Playmobil and Volkswagen (VW) have entered into a new licensing agreement for an iconic ride.

The Playmobil VW Volkswagen T1 Camper Van will arrive at retail in January. The famed German toymaker took to Facebook and Twitter for the reveal …

K-Swiss and Magic the Gathering collaborate for a uniquely magical reimagination of the Gstadd ’86: Magic. K-Swiss, the American heritage tennis brand, is proud to announce a legendary collaboration with collectible and digital collectible card game, Magic The Gathering. Introducing Magic: The Gathering x K-Swiss a limited edition sneaker …

Zuru teams with Fanbytes to bring 5 Surprise Mini Brands to the UK through TikTok campaign. The global toy firm Zuru is bringing miniature versions of favourite households brand to the UK and Ireland in the form of 5 Surprise Mini Brands, a range that has already launched to much success in the US and Canada. Zuru has now partnered with the Gen Z marketing experts Fanbytes to devise a three-phased Tik Tok campaign …

SkyRocket to bring Wow! Stuff’s Printable Face Masks to the U.S.. Skyrocket inked a deal with Wow! Stuff to bring its customizable, at-home printable face masks to the U.S. market. Under the new agreement, Skyrocket will exclusively market and distribute The Printable Face Mask under the SnapStyle brand in the U.S. Wow! Stuff launched the brand as The Printable Mask Co. in the UK earlier this month.

Miraculous plots toy shelf takeover. Ladybug and Cat Noir may be heroes, but at retail level, the crime-fighting duo are ready for supervillain-style world domination. ZAG has named new licensing partners and inked several renewals across multiple territories for its flagship brand Miraculous Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir.

Wildbrain: Spark and Funrise Toys team up on digital-first content strategy for launch of new doll brand Bff Bright Fairy Friends. WildBrain Spark, the premium kids and family AVOD network and studio, has inked a deal with Funrise Toys to support the launch of the collectible doll brand BFF Bright Fairy Friends with a digital-first content strategy. With Funrise Toys, WildBrain Spark is producing over...

Vivid partners with pocket.watch to bring YouTube sensation Love, Diana toys and accessories to the UK. Vivid has partnered with the licensing and merchandising specialist, pocket.watch for the launch of a new toy line inspired by the latest YouTube sensation, Kids Diana Show. According to Tubefilter, the channel totals 5bn views a month across the globe. To support the global launch of the Kids Diana Show...

Hasbro Consumer Products Adds eOne Brands to WildBrain CPLG’s Representation in Benelux. After working with WildBrain CPLG Benelux since January 1, 2020, Hasbro is expanding the licensing agency’s rights to include the iconic eOne brands, following the recent integration of Hasbro and eOne.

Sambro partners with ViacomCBS and Pinkfong to launch Baby Shark arts & crafts and outdoor lines. Sambro International has detailed its new partnership with ViacomCBS Consumer Products and Pinkfong to produce and launch a range of children’s arts and crafts, novelty, and outdoor products inspired by the Baby Shark brand. The new range will include painting sets, doughs, and inflatable play products, and is...

Moose Toys, Warner Bros. team up for ‘Space Jam,’ ‘Tom & Jerry’ toys. Moose Toys inked a new licensing deal with Warner Bros. Consumer Products to create toys based on the Looney Tunes franchise and two upcoming feature films. Under the new deal, Moose will produce action figures, collectibles, plush, and more based on Space Jam: A New Legacy and Tom and Jerry.

Zuru teams up with Kraft Heinz for 5 Surprise Mini Brands. Take a trip to the grocery store with ZURU‘s latest expansion for 5 Surprise Mini Brands with collectible versions of Kraft Heinz products. 5 Surprise Mini Brands Series 2 will feature more than 120 of Kraft Heinz’s most popular consumer products in the form of miniature, collectible toys.

Spotify, Riot Games press play for ‘League of Legends’. Spotify has officially teamed up with Riot Games for its first-ever esports partnership centered around “League of Legends.” The deal sees Spotify and Riot Games, the developer behind “League of Legends,” join forces for a first-of-its-kind multiyear agreement.

The Mandalorian’s Baby Yoda Joins the Squishmallows SquadKellytoy — a subsidiary of Jazwares — entered into a new licensing deal with Lucasfilm and The Walt Disney Co. to bring The Child (aka Baby Yoda) into its popular collection of soft, plush characters. Fans looking to add the lovable tike from a galaxy far, far away to their collections will find “the asset” exclusively at Walgreens stores in the U.S.

Mattel’s Hot Wheels reignites partnership with YouTube’s The F2. Hot Wheels has renewed its partnership with the YouTube superstars F2 Freestylers – the hosts of the biggest football YouTube platform in the world – to create a series of head to head challenges that merge football freestyling and the collectable car brand. Mattel first procured the partnership back in 2019.

Target launches Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Trading Outpost collection with mixed results. Last month Disney Parks announced a new partnership with American big-box store chain Target, wherein the retailer would be carrying an assortment of new and repackaged merchandise inspired by the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge themed lands under the “Trading Outpost” branding. It launched at Target stores nationwide...

Disney continues to capitalize on Galaxy’s Edge with games, merchandise, and moreWhen Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge opened at Disney DIS +0.5%land and Walt Disney World DIS +0.5% fans of the Star Wars franchise anxiously waited for hours to get into the land, pilot the Millennium Falcon, and drink Blue Milk. Now, a year after it debuted, Disney continues to capitalize on the success of the new land with in-world games...

People . . . 

In this week’s episode of the “Power Kid Podcast,” host Phil Albritton speaks with toy industry veteran Nancy Zwiers. Zwiers gained wide experience managing brands at Procter & Gamble before becoming the senior vice president of worldwide marketing at Mattel for Barbie. She then founded the brand-building firm Funosophy before becoming executive vice president and CMO at Spin Master...

Ramsey Naito to lead Nickelodeon Animation. The former EVP of current series and development has been promoted to president. In this new role, she will oversee the network’s animation content across all formats and platforms, spanning linear, digital, TV movies, theatrical motion pictures and SVOD. Meanwhile, Nick India and International have partnered on their first co-pro.

Jane Ritson-Parsons has joined the board of directors of Flat River Group, the company announced.  Ritson-Parsons spent 25 years in management positions at Hasbro, capped with 10 years as Group Executive, Global Brand Marketing, a role in which she transformed multiple global brand marketing functions into one integrated global organization.  She was also President, Licensing at HIT Entertainment from 1989...

Emile Kalis on Moving Back to the Netherlands and More! Recently I moved back from the Seattle area to Rotterdam in the Netherlands, with my wife Alice and my two sons Maas and Cameron. Back in 2014 Identity Games started the distribution of Find It games in the US, out of our small office. The Find It office was in Monroe, close to Seattle, that’s why we ended up over there. The idea was to create new brands around...

ERIC LANG STEPS DOWN FROM HIS EXEC. ROLE AT CMON TO FOCUS ON DESIGN AND ACTIVISM. fter an incredible run in the executive ranks of CMON LTD, Eric M. Lang is stepping down from his day-to-day management role, making room in his schedule to focus on freelance game design as well as his growing involvement with activism. “The last three years have been fantastic, both professionally and personally," commented Eric. "Over the past few months, we drafted a long-term release plan with some truly great titles, which will continue to bear fruit...

Allen Wolf - You’re Pulling My Leg! I’m a game creator and also an author and a filmmaker. I featured my You’re Pulling My Leg! game prominently in my first movie, In My Sleep, which is now streaming on Amazon. I also featured the game in my first novel, Hooked, that will be released as a movie when the pandemic is over. I love that I can work in multiple mediums, and I’ve been able to feature my games in the...

Casey Karls, Co-Pilot of Wilder Games on Impractical Jokers and More! What advice can you give to young entrepreneurs who are working on a new toy or game idea? More than anything, you need to be relentless. Don't get caught up in the obstacles in front of you. You have to find a way around them. Most things aren't impossible, listen to yourself and carry on.

Stonemaier takes distribution brokerage in-house. Stonemaier Games is taking distribution brokerage, which it formerly outsourced to fellow St. Louis-based game company Greater than Games, in house. To handle the new work, Stonemaier is hiring former Greater than Game Account Manager Alex Schmidt (who handled the Stonemaier account for GTG) as Director of Sales.

Heather Welch - International Branding, Development and Play, Play, Play.  How did you get started in the industry? I’m what you would call a global citizen. Born in Australia, I was working as a business management teacher in Singapore before I joined Edx Education in Dubai. Interesting about this opportunity was the growth factor. Outside of the U.S., the types of playthings Edx Education offers were only available...

Harrison Brooks on ElevatorUp: Kid-invented, Kid-designed, Kid-marketed, Kid-shipped and Kid-loved! It is easy to learn, moves at a fast pace, and never gets old. The goal is to be the first player to get rid of all your cards. Higher Floor Cards can be played on top of lower floors. As the elevator rises to the Penthouse, special cards can make players Stuck, send you back Down to the Lobby, have the Doors Closed on you...

Companies . . . 

SmartMax launches latest expansion to its best-selling My First range. The award-winning pre-school magnetic construction sets brand, SmartMax, is expanding its My First collection with the launch of three new sets this summer. Joining the ever-growing line-up this season is the My First Vehicles, Animals, and Sounds & Senses, each designed for kids aged one to five.

Jakks Pacific debuts first Apex Legends action figure squad. Jakks Pacific is entering the battle royale with its first wave of 6-inch action figures inspired by Apex Legends. The reveal follows the news that the toymaker had inked a multiyear global licensing deal with Electronic Arts (EA) to become the master toy partner for the popular free-to-play game for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Origin for PC.

Modiphius Entertainment announces two new 'The Elder Scrolls' miniature packs. Modiphius Entertainment announced The Elder Scrolls Call to Arms Adventurer Followers and The Elder Scrolls Call to Arms Adventurer Allies, two new miniature packs, for release in September. Some of the most recognizable characters in Skyrim are finally coming to The Elder Scrolls Call to Arms miniatures game.

Expand 'Marvel Vs System 2pcg' X-Men and Brotherhood Of Mutants teams with 'Freedom Force'. Upper Deck Entertainment will release Freedom Force, a new expansion for Marvel Vs. System 2PCG, for release on September 16. This is the second issue of the Omega Level Arc which was originally teased alongside Futures Past in August.

Razer’s Naga Pro is a wireless modular gaming mouse with loads of buttons. Most gaming mice claim to work great for any type of game, regardless of their design and feature set. Razer’s new Naga Pro wireless mouse proves how well-suited it is for a variety of games with its modular, magnetically attached side button plates that make it a practical option for different genres, especially those that require...

Classic Films Jigsaw Puzzles from Firebox. A new puzzle series from online retailer Firebox harkens back to vintage movie nights form the 1980s/90s. The initial set of puzzles consists of three iconic movies: The Breakfast Club, E.T., and Jaws. Each puzzle is 500-pieces and comes boxed in retro-styled VHS tape packaging, complete with a Blockbuster video logo.

Super Mario Bros. 35 turns classic Mario gameplay into a 35-person battle royale. Nintendo is turning the original Super Mario Bros. into a 35-player battle royale game called Super Mario Bros. 35, available on October 1st exclusively to Nintendo Switch Online subscribers. all 35 players will play through a Mario level simultaneously until only one player is left standing.

Super Mario 3D World and other classic Mario games are coming to the Switch. Nintendo is bringing Super Mario 3D World to the Switch with an “enhanced” version. The developer announced the news today during a special Mario-themed Nintendo Direct, celebrating the original game’s 35th anniversary.

Nintendo's next Mario Kart title is a mixed reality racer set in your living room. Determined to prove that we aren't in fact living in the worst timeline, Nintendo has just announced Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit, a mixed reality Switch title that lets players build and race around real-world circuits using remote control karts. The game uses camera-enabled physical karts and course gate markers to allow players to construct...

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2 is the perfect remasterFor developers, revisiting a classic game has always been a tricky proposition. Games tend to age poorly - whether it’s the graphics, controls, or subject matter - and so they’re regularly rereleased in an attempt to update them for modern tastes. It’s a tricky balancing act. Change too much, and the game loses what made it interesting in the first place.

US toy giant Walmart reveals its own top toy picks for Christmas 2020. The list, understandably features a large portion of Walmart exclusives, including lines from LEGO, Mattel, and Ryan’s World, but manages to span a spectrum of leading licenses, tech toys, interactive favourites, surprise toys, and those that promote screen-free play.

Fat Brain Toys introduces ‘Emery’s Toy Box’. Fat Brain Toys is celebrating its Midwestern family legacy of play with the introduction of a new generation. Emery Carson is the six-month-old daughter of Adam Carson, a 27-year-old industrial designer at Fat Brain Toys. It was Adam who initially suggested — at age 10 — that his parents, Mark and Karen Carson, open a toy store.

Walmart to allow virtual toy shopping for kids this Holiday Season. Walmart is letting kids to shop for their favorite toys virtually this holiday season, while also allowing them to virtually unbox, test and play with this season's hottest toys without leaving home, before placing an order. Kids can play and engage with hundreds of toys virtually from the aisles of Walmart starting today using the Walmart Wonder Lab …

Pikachu 'WHO are YOU?' toys announced, launching Fall 2020 in Japan. Sega Toys Co., Ltd. has announced Pikachu Scruff-a-Luv WHO are YOU? toys, set for release in Japan sometime during Fall 2020. Priced at ¥3800 (+ tax), soaking these fluffy round plushies in water reveals exactly who the creature is!

Toynamics kicks-starts Skip Hop distribution with retailer marketing support. Toynamics has begun its exclusive distribution of Skip Hop products to retailers across the UK and Ireland, delivering the pre-school brand’s products across seven categories including changing bags, on-the-go accessories, bath time, nursery gear, playtime, baby gyms, and the zoo toddler essentials.

Wizards of the Coast drops 'Magic: the Gathering's' release schedule for 2021.Wizards of the Coast revealed its 2021 Magic: The Gathering release schedule which will feature a Dungeons & Dragons crossover set. The 2021 release schedule features a few surprises, and the return of popular product lines to the Magic brand.

New Animal Crossing content hits: Fall crafting materials and much more. Nintendo published a video today highlighting some of the new Animal Crossing content coming for fall. The new trailer outlines some of the major additions hitting an island near you, including new bugs and fish to catch, shellfish, crafting materials, recipes, and trinkets for your dwelling.

Ubisoft apologizes after Tom Clancy mobile game co-opts BLM movement. Ubisoft once again came under fire over the weekend, this time for using real-world imagery and situations as a backdrop for a new mobile game in a way that aligned the Black Lives Matter movement and protests with the game’s fictional terrorist group Umbra.

Dark Knights from McFarlane Toys invade in time for the holiday season. At the beginning of this year, the first wave of the DC Multiverse figures from McFarlane Toys were released. Last month during McFarlaneCon, the company’s own virtual event, McFarlane Toys previewed future figures for the DC Multiverse line that included the Dark Knights, twisted nightmare versions of Batman that debuted during the Dark Nights: Metal storyline …

Bandai Namco announces worldwide release of Pac-Man 40th Anniversary jacket. Bandai Namco recently celebrated the 40th anniversary of Pac-Man, which was initially released in July 1980. The company has continued to roll out various anniversary merchandise to celebrate the long-running maze chase game series.

Sega Still Has Big Sonic the Hedgehog Announcements to Share. Sega has confirmed that a new Sonic game is in development, and it was assumed that it was going to be announced earlier this year. While that didn’t happen, Sega has stated that it still has big news to share, it’s just a matter of figuring out how to share it.

Hasbro Announces MarvelLegends Retro Collection Dr. Doom. With over 80 years of comic book and movie history, Marvel has become a cornerstone of fan collections around the world. With the Marvel Vintage X-Men Collection, fan favorite Marvel Comic Universe and Marvel Cinematic Universe characters are designed with premium detail and articulation for posing and display in collections.

Activision allegedly forces Call of Duty cheat maker to end sales. Cheating in the PC versions of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Warzone has been a huge problem, but now, Activision appears to be cracking down on the people creating these exploits. CxCheat.net, a company known for making exploits in PC multiplayer games, says it will stop creating Call of Duty cheats because Activision threatened legal action.

Pegasus Spiele unleashes 'Armata Strigoi'. Pegasus Spiele announced Armata Strigoi, a cooperative board game, for release on September 18. In Armata Strigoi , war between vampires and werewolves is arriving at a pivotal point, The last Vampire Master and his apprentice are hiding out in a fortress protected by undead creatures …

Bezier Games announces 'Silver Dagger'. Bezier Games announced Silver Dagger, the fourth stand-alone game in the Silver card game series, will be heading to retail this October. Silver Dagger adds 14 new roles and abilities to gameplay. It also adds new cards to help players protect their village …

This Game Boy Color is actually a portable Nintendo Wii and it’s so damn clean. Transforming classic video game consoles into on-the-go gadget gaming goodness is practically a time-honored tradition — I remember writing about Bacteria’s bulbous portable Nintendo 64 a decade ago. But @GingerOfMods new “Wii Boy Color” (via NintendoLife) is so clean, so compact, I just have to share it with you.

The Pokemon Company International reveals 'Sword & Shield: Vivid Voltage'. The Pokemon Company International revealed Sword & Shield: Vivid Voltage, the latest expansion for the Pokemon Trading Card Game, for release on November 13. Sword & Shield: Vivid Voltage features recently discovered Mythical Pokemon Zarude as well as other highly-collectible cards such as Pikachu VMAX, Orbeetle VMAX, and Coalossal...

Moose Toys underlines mission to ‘keep ahead of the innovation curve’ with latest Christmas picks. Moose Toys is keeping ‘ahead of the innovation and design curve’ this season, as it unwraps a trio of new launches in the youth electronics and fashion dolls sectors. Squeakee the Balloon Dog, Gotta Go Flamingo and the fashion doll line FailFix are each tipped to be big numbers for the global toymaker this Christmas …

Lucky Duck launches 'Chronicles Of Crime - The Millennium Series'. Lucky Duck Games is taking its app-driven crime solving game Chronicles of Crime through a millennium-long tour of time starting with Chronicles of Crime: 1400, releasing in November. In Chronicles of Crime:  1400, the players collectively take up the role of Abelard Lavel, a Parisian knight living in the 15th Century who has the gift of prophesy.

Games Workshop announces final expansion for 'Warhammer Quest: Blackstone Fortress'. Games Workshop announced Ascension, the final expansion pack for Warhammer Quest: Blackstone Fortress, for release on September 1.This last expansion for Warhammer Quest: Blackstone Fortress introduces Guardian Drones as hostile enemies and adds a fresh challenge to The Quest.

Celebrate Power Rangers Day with Morphenomenal My Little Pony Crossover! In celebration of Power Rangers Day, this past Friday, Hasbro is releasing the latest in its My Little Pony Crossover Collection ponyverse – the Morphin Pink Pony!  The 4.5 inch figure combines the retro My Little Pony form with the design of the Power Rangers’ Mighty Morphin Pink Ranger. 

New PlayStation exclusives and first-party studios key in Sony's PlayStation strategy. Sony is doubling down on the strength of its PlayStation brand, and expecting those investments to pay dividends as it moves into the next console generation with the launch of the PlayStation 5 later this year. That continued focus is one of the core topics in Sony’s 2020 corporate report

LeapFrog debuts new and preschool learning toys nationwide. LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc. revealed the accessibility of innovative new additions to its award-winning baby and preschool collection. LeapFrog’s interesting, instructional toys encourage a kid’s natural interest and love of finding out with curriculum-based content that makes learning amazing, with innovative intros consisting of an interactive puppy, multiling...

LEGO’s New Harry Potter Diagon Alley set features all of the iconic shops. LEGO’s newest Harry Potter set heads straight into the iconic wizarding world location of Diagon Alley with more than 5,500 pieces of buildable magic. It includes all of the must-visit shops, such as Ollivanders, Flourish & Blotts, and Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes.

Iello USA reveals 'Zombie Teenz Evolution'. Iello USA revealed Zombie Teenz Evolution, a sequel board game to Zombie Kidz Evolution by Scorpion Masque (see "IELLO Fall Game Round-Up"), for release on November 12. Zombies are terrorizing the town, and a few teens have been charged with finding four ingredients that can create an antidote which will turn the zombies back to people.

Alias celebrates its 30th anniversary. Tactic Games is celebrating the 30th anniversary of one of its star titles, Alias. Created at a time when family party games were still far and few between in Finland, the title quickly became a hit and remains popular to this day. The game challenges players to explain words without using the word being explained, as their teammates try to guess and many words as they can in 60 seconds. 

Lion Rampant Imports inks distribution deal with Bananagrams. Lion Rampant Imports announced that it has inked an agreement with Bananagrams Inc. for the non-exclusive Canada-wide distribution rights to their full catalogue of tabletop games. This deal gives Lion Rampant the ability to offer the entire Bananagrams, Inc. portfolio to its network of Canadian toy and hobby retailers.

Live on a farm without leaving the house in 'My Farm Shop'. Pegasus Spiele will release My Farm Shop, a family board game, for release in 2020. In My Farm Shop, players can simulate the farm life experience.

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

Walmart changes toy testing routine, virtual testing is the new normal. Major retailer Walmart Inc has indicated it will be changing its annual toy testing routine as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The new testing model that will be adopted will now take place virtually. Annually, Walmart usually gathers a group of kids at a conference center near its Arkansas headquarters to try out a broad collection of toys …

Crayola and Suzy explore how parents plan to navigate the 2020-2021 school year amid COVID-19 concerns. Suzy, a leading real-time consumer insights platform that provides “actionable insights at the speed of culture,” today announced findings from their most recent report that asked parents of school-aged children nationwide how they will undertake the new 2qaz2020-2021 school year during the COVID-19 ...

(the above posted after August 27th)

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.

Toy Safety and Counterfeit Related Articles . . . 

All apps, social media, and online services for children must improve privacy or risk finesApps, social media platforms and other online services used by children will be required to improve their privacy protections or risk heavy financial penalties. A new statutory code, known as the Children’s Code, will force digital services to provide children aged up to 18-years-old with an automatic “baseline” of data protection...

BTHA responds to new CE mark guidance. On Monday, the Government announced that the UKCA (UK Conformity Assessed) marking – a new UK product marking – will be used for goods being placed on the market in Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) once the UK leaves the EU on 31st December. However, to allow businesses time to adjust to the new requirements, they will still be able to use the CE marking until...

Ecowaste warns of toxic toys sold in market. An environmental health advocacy group on Tuesday renewed its call for safe and non-toxic toys when buying gifts for children, especially after discovering the continuous selling of toxic “shrilling chicken” toy in retail and online stores. It is a yellow squeezable plastic chicken toy imported from China that has been found to contain high concentrations of phthalates …

How to clean and disinfect children's toys. Children’s toys can be sources of germs. Children can play, throw, chew and even sleep with their toys meaning it is best to try to ensure they are cleaned every so often to prevent dirt and grime building up. Express.co.uk has compiled a guide to show you how to effectively clean and disinfect children’s toys.

India: Toy industry wants govt to extend time for BIS certification. Buoyed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaking about their sector, officials of the Indian toy industry are asking the government to give some more time to get the certification from the Bureau of Indian Standards.

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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...

 

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

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

IT’S OFFICIAL: TOY FAIR DALLAS IS CANCELED, TOY FAIR NEW YORK POSTPONED. Confirming months of rumors and rumblings, The Toy Association confirmed that it will not proceed with Toy Fair Dallas this year. The annual fall event was slated to take place at the Dallas Market Center (DMC) from Oct. 6-8. 

Hasbro announces the first ever Hasbro Pulse Con. The recent cancellations of bigger toy conventions like New York Comic Con and Toy Fair 2021 have been sad news. However, it looks like Hasbro is bringing the toys to the fans with their first ever Hasbro Pulse Con 2020. This convention will be covered on HasbroPulse for two days starting on September 25th and going until the 26th.

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Top Stories from Trade Magazines Worldwide this Week . . .

Adventure Media & Events (US)

Exclusive: The Mandalorian’s Baby Yoda Joins the Squishmallows Squad (The Toy Book)

Spin Master, Dax Shepard Welcome Parents to the PAW Patrol Years (The Toy Book)

Dynacraft Introduces NCAA College Football Mascots Ride-on Toys (The Toy Book)

Activision Prepares for Battle with ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War’ (The Toy Book)

Basic Fun!’s Ashley Mady Named Committee Chair for The Genius of Play (The Toy Book)

Disguise, Hasbro Extend Licensing Agreement for Costumes Based on Power Rangers, Ricky Zoom, G.I. Joe, and More (The Toy Book)

Little Tikes’ Cozy Coupe Gets Animated for ‘Let’s Go Cozy Coupe’ (The Toy Book)

Say Goodbye to Summer with These Top Toys (Toy Insider)

Harry Potter Build-A-Bears Are Coming and We Need 10! (Pop Insider)

Yahtzee Cup Noodles is Here (Pop Insider)

aNb Media's (US)

  1. Kellytoy's Squishmallows Ring In Snuggle Season With More Than 10 Holiday Characters 

  2. Top 150 Global Licensors Announced by License Global

  3. PAW Patrol Collaborates on Social Campaign with Dax Shepard

  4. Spin Master Unleashes Global Licensing Program Rolling Out New US Consumer Product Partnerships for Bakugan Franchise

  5. Play Monster and Wind Sun Sky Expand the Snap Ships Universe with the Launch of YouTube Animated Series

  6. Rube Goldberg Machine Goes Digital With Help of NASEF and Minecraft Education

  7. Genius Brands International Appoints Jessica Brinder to Head Global Sales of International Distribution

  8. Novel Entertainment Gears Up for Virtual Horrid Henry Summer of Slime Festival

  9. Createon Expands Licensed Magnatiles Portfolio with Build-A-Bear Workshop Partnership

  10. Disguise Expands Partnership With Hasbro With Brand Launches and New Global Rights

 

Toyworld (UK) 

1.  You had one job…it’s the Friday Blog!

2.  UK importers face logistics headaches

3.  Has Argos catalogue cancellation hit August toy sales figures?

4.   John Lewis to replace never knowingly undersold

5.   Hamleys details plans for revival

6.   Obituary – Wilf Shorrocks

7.   Toy Aid thanks the toy industry

8.   Tesco creates more roles

9.   Studio Retail

10. Magic Box launches SecretThings Secret Spies

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

  1.  WizKids Unleashes an Over 9-Inch Tall Dragon Miniature to Roam RPG Dungeons
  2.  WizKids Reveals a Wave of Two-Count Monster Packs for 'Dungeons & Dragons Nolzur's Marvelous Miniatures'
  3.  WizKids Announces New 'Dungeons & Dragons Nolzur's Marvelous Miniatures' Monsters for November
  4.  Wizards of the Coast Drops Deets on 'Commander Legends' Product Line
  5.  Brew Up More Dungeon Crawling Options with 'D&D Tasha's Cauldron of Everything'
  6.  Rolling for Initiative - Salience and the 'Law' of Small Numbers
  7.  Top 25 Sealed TCG Products - July 2020
  8.  More Pressure on Online Platforms to Battle Counterfeits
  9.  Repos Productions Expands on '7 Wonders'
10.  Heritage Auctions Offers First Edition Sealed 'Pokemon' Box, High-Grade Video Games, and Lower Grade Bucket-List Comics Up at Their September Auction

TOYS Magazine (Germany) - moving to monthly

Toy & Hobby (Australia)

TBA

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

Hot Toys and a triple release for Star Wars: The Clone Wars 

Hasbro Recalls Nerf Super Soaker Water Guns due to a lead hazard risk 

Playmonster expands "Snap Ships" universe with an animated serie for YouTube 

Funko Celebrates Pixar's 25th Anniversary With "Alien Remix" Series 2

Medicom Toy announces two Batman-based releases 

LEGO World Builder, the new platform for creatives and content creators 

 

Video of the Week

Who Invented Radio Flyer Wagons? | WTFF? by Tim Walsh

A Radio Flyer wagon is one of those rare toys that grows with us. At first we are pulled along as passive participants, simply along for the ride. Once we can walk, we take the handle (and an active role in our wagoneering), pulling along anyone or anything light enough to lift, and small enough to fit inside. As we grew older and bolder, we turned the handle around and transformed our wagon into an airplane to pilot, or a horse to ride. This is the story of America’s Little Red Wagon. It's the Radio Flyer Wagons edition of WTFF? (Where's the Fun from?)

 

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