the Bloom Report

Toy Industry's #1 News Summary Worldwide

Below is August 7-14, 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...

It is Thursday evening and I've Just watched ASTRA's Lip Sync Battle. Kudos to talented host Brian Turtle and the many incredible acts!  Congratulations to Tim Walsh, Scott Brown, Chris Callaghan and Team Roo Games on their victory. You will SMILE watching this video - great start to the weekend! 

Next week we will be announcing our line-up of virtual events for our CHITAG Week of Events - can't wait to share the details! 

Stay Calm and Play On,

Mary Couzin

Steve Rad of Abacus Brands: When learning goes virtual in a “New Norm” tBR Company of the Week

During these times, when the entire world is suffering and trying to survive a pandemic, we find ourselves at the doors of change of epic proportions. Children worldwide are affected.  Many of the simple activities children took for granted are no longer available to them.  They may no longer socialize and play the way they used to. Their daily activities must now be carried out with the greatest precautions. Many activities such as sports and lessons are even denied.  I would think that the most worrying for parents and children is the fact that school and education have been turned upside down. Families and caretakers are asked to look for alternatives for education as the local governments decide which plans will be implemented.  Online learning has become the forefront of a school day while a teacher and classmates have become secondary.  How can we keep a child interested in learning and discovery when they no longer have classmates and a leader to guide them through a lesson? How can learning remain fun? How can children learn through play online? And thus the stage is set for virtual reality to shine. 

 

Since the beginning of my career in the toy space, I have always believed that learning should be fun and transformative to keep up with the quick-paced and evolving way children are digesting and processing information.  Kids don’t just want to learn anymore, they want to feel, they want to experience. They’re not thumbing through encyclopedias and magazines like their parents did.  They are able to access instant information on cell phones and tablets quicker than it would take to just plan a drive to a local library to borrow a book.  Abacus Brands and Professor Maxwell’s VR Labs were born out of a desire to connect students with fundamental STEM learning exercises in a whole new way that they can relate to, and make tech learning accessible to kids everywhere.   Read More...

Jacqueline Vong - East Meets West. Where are we going from here? tBR Person of the Week

Where are we going from here?

 

In September 2019 – a small group of individuals including Josh Punin of Trade Asia Pacific Toys were trying to organize to move the Hong Kong toy show to Shenzhen because of the unrest of protests in the predominant area of Tsim Sha Tsiu which is known as a major toy district.  There was a small amount of interest from European companies, and Hong Kong and China related toy companies but the January toy fair in Hong Kong still went on and while certain things remained the same, you can say other things were different.  Everything seemed much quieter especially in the Wan Chai convention center.  The streets were dusty from the damage from the protests.  Some major companies and individuals decided to skip Hong Kong all together and other retailers may have set up hotel meetings in Shenzhen.  There was definitely the rumbling of a ‘virus’ that everyone in Hong Kong was worried about but most of us who attended felt safe and went on with business as usual.  

 

Come 2020 (a.k.a. the year we want to press reset on ) and Coronavirus is rampant globally and now the China and Hong Kong borders are closed to almost all foreigners.  International travel is strictly discouraged and zoom meetings and virtual trade fairs are accepted as the new norm. Major companies are holding virtual showrooms, some retailers are not taking actual samples for evaluation and ‘try me’ packaging may be considered a high risk factor.  All these factors are playing out in Fall 2020 and beyond and when the pandemic is over, will we come back for any trade shows?  And where to?    Read More...

 

Financial & Legal News . . . 

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.

(the above posted after August 14th)

Epic Games launches a campaign (and lawsuit) against Apple. Thursday morning, Epic Games introduced a new payment mechanism through a server-side update that allowed gamers to purchase Fortnite’s in-game currency directly, allowing the app to bypass Apple’s in-app purchase framework and the substantial cut that Apple takes. Apple quickly acted in banning the app from the App Store.

Apple pulls Fortnite from App Store over Epic’s new in-app payment option. Epic and Apple are locked in a battle of wills, each having made their own grand gestures today over in-app purchases and Apple’s steadfast insistence that it takes 30 percent cut of a game’s App Store revenue. Apple has now completely pulled Fortnite from the App Store …

Maxi Toys acquired by King Jouet. Coronavirus had put the future of the European toy store chain in jeopardy, but a buyer has now been found. The French Gueydon family, the main shareholder of the King Jouet toy chain, has acquired Maxi Toys in a deal that will save the majority of both the jobs and stores.

Rubies and Bristol Novelty to merge operations in forward looking response to Covid-19. Rubies Masquerade and Bristol Novelty have detailed the merger of its operations and office functions in a forward looking move to house all of its products under one banner as the industry begins to shake itself off from lockdown. It comes, the firm has stated, as companies the world over look to adapt to navigate the...

U.S. Retail Imports Head Toward Lowest Number Since 2016. The recent 16% spike for the toy industry was driven largely by sales of stock-on-hand, while individual toymakers have charted sales declines due in part to a reduction in orders of new product. This pattern extends to the rest of the consumer products and retail industry as a whole, as shown in the latest Global Port Tracker report …

Boris Johnson warns 'long, long way to go' for UK economy. Between April and June, the number of people in work fell by 220,000, the Office for National Statistics said. The drop in the number of people employed was the largest quarterly decrease since May to July 2009, the depths of the financial crisis.

Mobile developer Big Run Studios nets $5.25 million to expand operations. Mobile developer-publisher Big Run Studios has netted $5.25 million in seed funding, meaning it has raised a total of $6.6 million to date. The funding round was led by early stage venture capital company Transcend Fund and joined by Galaxy Interactive, which previously invested $1.4 million into Big Run back in March.

UK retail sales lift 3.2 per cent but provides ‘little cause for optimism’, says BRC. UK retail sales have risen 3.2 per cent for July, the British Retail Consortium has confirmed, but suggests that the lift should provide ‘little cause for optimism’ as many high street shops continue to struggle.

Talks underway to turn JC Penney and Sears stores into Amazon fulfilment centres. Both chains filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and have been closing locations across the US, as the pandemic kept consumers at home and shopping online. In June, JC Penney announced plans to close 154 stores this summer, while Sears announced plans to shut down 96 stores in November last year.

Walmart Canada’s new infrastructure development fee raises concerns. According to Walmart Canada, the new fee aims to recover some of its $3.5b modernisation costs. Toy companies in Canada and the US are reportedly shocked by the announcement of a new fee, which Walmart Canada published in a letter to more than 3,000 suppliers, signed by chief executive Horacio Barbeito and chief merchandising officer...

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Trends, Market Research Reports . . . 

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 . . . TOY SALES HAVE SPIKED, BUT WILL IT LAST? . . . 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

(the above posted after August 14th)

Uptick in gaming looks set to last . . . Mexican Toy industry takes a bit hit although board games see surge in sales . . . The NPD Group: U.S. consumer spend on video game products continues to break records . . .  Exclusive: NPD looks at the UK toy market in recent months . . . Top 5 trends that could change 2021 consumerism

Financial & Brokerage News . . . 

Where Will Hasbro Be in 5 Years? 

(the above posted after August 14th)

Mobile classic Subway Surfers surpasses 3 billion lifetime downloads . . . Fall Guys has sold over 2 million copies on Steam alone . . . Mattel – Consensus Indicates Potential 11.4% Upside . . .  Blizzard Trading Lower Despite Blowout Quarter . . . FUNKO REDUCES WORKFORCE 25% . . . Investors Appear Satisfied With Hasbro, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:HAS) Prospects

Financial Reporting . . . 

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%) …

(the above posted after August 14th)

Paradox reports upturn in revenue as expansion packs drive growth. Stellaris developer-publisher Paradox has reported a strong financial quarter. According to its fiscal report for the second quarter ended June 30, 2020, quarterly revenue increased by 20 percent year-on-year to SEK 464.9 million ($53.3 million), while operating profit rose by 29 percent to SEK 199 million ($22.8 million).

Sega reports loss despite strong video game sales. Net sales and profits are down at Sega Sammy, which released its financial results for the three months ended June 30, 2020. According to the fiscal report, net sales dipped by 33.5 percent to 48.3 billion yen ($454.4 million), with the company reporting a loss of 3.3 billion yen ($31 million).

Party City announces second quarter 2020 financial results and successfully completes reset of capital structure. Party City Holdco Inc. announced financial results for the quarter ended June 30, 2020. Total revenues decreased 54.8% on a reported basis to $254.7 million and decreased 54.6% on a constant currency basis. Total Retail sales decreased 56.3% on a reported basis and 56.3% on a constant currency basis …

SUMR Brands announced financial results for the 2nd quarter ended June 27, 2020. Net sales for the three months ended June 27, 2020 were $38.2 million compared with $46.4 million for the three months ended June 29, 2019. The Company’s results reflect the strategic restructuring of its international operations and negative impact of COVID-19 on revenue on revenue, primarily via store closures and...

Bandai Namco will merge gaming and toy divisions in 2021 restructuring due to major decrease in overall sales numbers. In a surprising move, Bandai Namco has announced plans to merge its gaming division with its Toys and Hobby unit in 2021. This announcement came as the company revealed its financial results for the first quarter of its fiscal year. That period begins on April 1 and extended until June 30 2020.

Funko releases Q2 2020 results. The company is the latest to reveal the substantial impact of coronavirus on its business. Sales decreased 49% to $98.1m in the second quarter of 2020 compared to $191.2m in the second quarter of 2019. On a geographical basis, sales in the United States decreased 36% to $77.9m, while a 71% decline in sales was seen internationally, reflecting more significant impacts from Covid-19. 

Future Financial Reporting... 

Toyjobs has been the dominant recruiting

Stories & Comments . . . 

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 ...

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.

(the above posted after August 14th)

Toyworld (UK)'s John Baulch's Friday Blog - Timing in life is everything…it’s the Friday Blog! It may help if you read this first paragraph in a heavy Geordie accent…” Day 146 in the covid house. Housemates are gathered in the kitchen, moaning about the weather. It’s been too hot, no-one can sleep and everyone’s melting. Now it’s raining too hard and we need the underwater car from the James Bond movie...

Dora paved the way…now we need nuanced inclusivity. To move beyond the "Brown brush," creators need to be more specific when it comes to the identity of their characters, says Mariana Diaz-Wionczek. When it comes to representation of Latinos in the media, the language we use to refer to different communities matters. Along with physical features and story elements, language can help validate kids’ identities. 

UK survey finds positive links between playing games and literacy. New research published by the National Literacy Trust indicates video games can have a positive impact on the literacy, creativity, and wellbeing of young people. A survey of 4,626 young people aged 11-16 in the UK found that games can often provide children with a route into reading and writing.

25 diverse toys to teach kids how to embrace different cultures . Representation is so important for children of color, and sadly, it’s still somewhat rare. Seeing one’s self reflected in play is a crucial part of cultural and social development, and it can have a real impact on kids’ self-esteem.

Diverse toys for kids: what brands to buy. It is now easier than ever for kids to find toys that symbolize them and their families. From a customizable doll that looks like the child it is made for to mix-and-match families that allow for many races in one family – or two dads or two moms – options in the toy industry have expanded.

“Press Engine democratises the ability to talk to press” – Is Press Engine the answer to discoverability? Once upon a time all serious games PR was done in close proximity to a bar. Everyone knew everyone and it was all very matey. Review slots were agreed many months in advance, with a big shiny preview piece as part of the deal. And review code came by post in a jiffy bag.  However true that once may have been...

Adverty enters into agreement and completes integration with SuperAwesome to enable kid-safe advertising. Adverty has signed an agreement with the leading kidtech platform SuperAwesome, to allow compliant, kid-safe ads to be displayed in relevant mobile games using Adverty’s in-game ad technology. The completed platform integration allows for frictionless access between SuperAwesome’s connected...

LEGO is launching braille bricks for students across the US. The LEGO Foundation designed and created a line of bricks molded with studs that correspond to numbers and letters in the braille alphabet. The foundation is sending the blocks, free of charge, to school districts across the United States.

Squatter to Fly with New Growth Plan. Squatter’s focus on sheep farming reflects the inextricable link between this industry and Australian history more broadly. Since 1797, wool has been central to Australia’s economy, agricultural practices and to the collective consciousness of its people. Early settlers soon discovered that with its infertile soil and dry climate, Australia was well suited to the production of high quality wool...

Families Stuck At Home Turn To Board Game Catan, Sending Sales Skyrocketing. Entrepreneurs love the game. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is a fan. LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman reportedly has played it in job interviews to size up applicants and as a tool for making venture capital deals. In its 25th year, Catan has sold more than 32 million units, according to company figures, one of the bestselling board...

Remembering the toy industry's past . . . 

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 ...

(the above posted after August 14th)

20 years ago, Nintendo transformed the RPG genre with Paper Mario. Paper Mario made its debut in Japan on Aug. 11, 2000, as Mario Story after a whopping four years of development. Here's how Intelligent Systems made it happen.

High Score review: Netflix’s story of gaming’s “golden age” is honestly solid. High Score, the newest docu-series launching August 19 on Netflix. Split into six 40-minute episodes of gaming's so-called "golden era," which begins with Space Invaders in arcades and ends with Doom…

TRG Restoration. Don’t junk those old tin toys! The TRG Restoration YouTube channel showcases the process of restoring vintage tin toys and other objects. Many beloved objects of play languish in basements, closets, barns, and storage units after childhood, often deteriorating...

Lone Ranger Adventure Sets from Gabriel (1973). The Lone Ranger Rides Again! toy line comprised a series of 8.5-inch and 10-inch action figures, articulated horses, a covered prairie wagon, tepee, and numerous playsets. Gabriel was known for dedication to quality and detail...

110 Camera from Fisher-Price (1986). Before digital photography became commonplace, Fisher-Price offered children, ages 5 and up, a camera that used 110 film cartridges. The camera was designed to be kid-friendly, complete with shock-resistant, cushioned end caps, a “break-away...

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Worldwide Licensing News . . .  

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 …

(the above posted after August 14th)

Ravensburger to launch immersive The Princess Bride Adventure Book Game based in the cult classic ’80s film. Ravensburger has detailed the upcoming release of The Princess Bride Adventure Book Game, a new cooperative board game adaptation of the cult film. The new title will join the firm’s growing slate of licensed titles that already features the likes of Jaws and Disney’s Hocus Pocus.

Disney+ picks up first LEGO special. The SVOD is gearing up for the holidays with a LEGO Star Wars-themed festive special and consumer products push. The new special, which will premiere November 17, reunites many of the core Star Wars cast to celebrate the fictional Life Day holiday. Set after the events of recent blockbuster Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (which grossed more than US$1 billion worldwide...

‘Marvel Mania’ Celebrates Fifth Anniversary with Global Activations and Retail Celebrations. The preeminent Marvel retail celebration ‘Marvel Mania’ makes its anticipated return bringing kids, families and fans new ways to wear, collect, connect and play with Earth’s Mightiest Super Heroes. Now in its fifth year ‘Marvel Mania’ – the only campaign to bring all the Marvel Super Heroes together – offers an exciting...

Nickelodeon enters The Tiny Chef’s kitchen. In its second deal with Imagine's kids team, Nick will launch the stop-motion series based on a wee Instagram puppet globally. Nickelodeon’s Burbank animation studio will produce the new preschool cooking show in association with Imagine Kids & Family and IP owner Tiny Chef Productions. This is Nick’s second project with Imagine; the first was live-action sci-fi series...

The London Toy Company teams with Wow! Stuff and Warner Bros to launch Harry Potter plush. The London Toy Company has collaborated with the teams at both Wow! Stuff and Warner Brothers to develop its first range of plush toys based on the ever-popular Harry Potter franchise. The firm, who rebranded from High Resolution Designs this year, already specialises in the development of ultra-realistic...

Nelvana and Spin Master expand Bakugan franchise with new international broadcast partners. Nelvana, a world-leading international producer and distributor of children’s animated and live action content, together with Spin Master, a leading global children’s entertainment company, have secured new international broadcast partners for Season 1, Bakugan®: Battle Planet™ (100 x 11 min) and Season 2,...

Moose Toys’ hit doll line Kindi Kids lands bag and stationery items with Blueprint Collections. Moose Toys popular toy brand Kindi Kids is building out its licensing programme thanks to a new partnership with Blueprint Collections to launch a range of licensed bags and stationery items. In a deal brokered by Kindi Kids’ licensing and merchandising representative, Bulldog Licensing, the new licensed range will include …

Licensing mixtape: how video games became a major driver for licensing. According to Newzoo, 2.7 billion play video games. From action games like the "Assassins Creed" series or the light-hearted "Raving Rabbids" franchise, consumers come from all demographics to play all kinds of video games. This vast and diverse fanbase provides ample opportunity for those in the licensing to latch onto the next great brand.

Genius Brands’ Kartoon Channel! adds ‘Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V,’ ‘My Dog Chocolo,’ More. Genius Brands International inked multiple deals to bring approximately 230 new episodes of programming to its new Kartoon Channel! app. The new additions are toplined by 148 episodes of the global anime hit, Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V. Additionally, Kartoon Channel! licensed episodes of the YouTube series, My Dog Chocolo, Mondo TV’s Invention...

Chipotle, Tony Hawk skate towards food, gaming deal. Chipotle Mexican Grill has announced it is teaming up with skating legend and brand superfan Tony Hawk to offer his go-to Chipotle order exclusively on the Chipotle app and Chipotle.com. The first 2,000 fans who order the burrito will also get access to the “Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 and 2” Warehouse Demo for PlayStation 4, Xbox One or PC.

A Deeper Data Dive. As much as the EU created an economic monolith, it’s still a collection of disparate cultures and languages, and its children have wildly divergent interests and favorites. Taking a trip through the most recent sets of Brand Trends’ Kidz Global reports assembled for Licensing International shows how much kids’ tastes and preferences vary.

Transformers activate World of Warships collaboration. World of Warships is partnering with Transformers for a limited-edition collaboration. Autobots and Decepticons will be introduced for a limited-time as themed ship skins and commanders.

Hasbro, TOMS team for ‘Candy Land’ kicks. Hasbro has lent the imagery of “Candy Land” to TOMS footwear. The collection is the first planned in a series between the two brands, opening up a world of possibilities for toy and game-themed footwear.

Mattel reveals lineup of Minecraft Dungeons toys. Minecraft Dungeons has been extremely well-received since launch, finding a spot in the 10 top eShop charts since it released. Being a spin-off of the hugely popular Minecraft series certainly helps!

People . . . 

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.”

(the above posted after August 15th) 

All in the Family: The Morrison Family. Over the years, I’ve run into TJ Morrison at toy events all over the world and shared stories, but didn’t know his family history until recently. His dad, Doug, recounts their story which starts with Hasbro’s Animal Fun Keyboard, moved quickly to Star Wars toys and much more. I love Doug’s advice, “Never be afraid to try something new, even if you fail at first, keep trying.” I’m a believer!

The Bugg Report - We Interview Jonathan Byrnes CEO Toy Networx. Off the back of a very successful rebrand, Toy Networx announces a global toy partnership with Australian Geographic (AG). In this changing world and without bricks and mortar stores, Australian Geographic have secured a partnership with Toy Networx to develop, market and distribute their toy product around the world.

Women In Toys appoints Delanie West as its first Diversity and Inclusion Chair. In her role, West will be leading the team’s efforts to cultivate diversity, inclusion, and belonging as critical priorities across its global community. The drive will commence with the new initiative, Black Women in Toys, Licensing, and Entertainment and its focus on attracting, recruiting, spotlighting, and advocating for Black women in ...

Power Kid Podcast, host Phil Albritton of Power Kid Design speaks Kate Clark, founder of Yottoy. For the past 25 years, Yottoy has been creating plush toys based on top licenses, including Paddington, Eloise, Madeline, The Velveteen Rabbit, Babar, Corduroy, and more. On the show, Clark explains how plush design has changed and evolved, and how the plush medium can be used to best represent the iconic look...

IDW Publisher Jud Meyers, who was active in the position for less than a week, has left the company, according to a brief statement from IDW Publishing.  "IDW Publishing has parted ways with Jud Meyers and would like to thank everyone for their discretion," the statement said through a spokesperson.  The spokesperson did not respond to questions about who was carrying out the Publisher duties now, or the plan...

Companies . . . 

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.

(the above posted after August 14th)

FAO SCHWARZ REOPENS NYC FLAGSHIP WITH NEW SAFETY MEASURES, BRAND EXPERIENCES. The iconic toy soldiers at FAO Schwarz have been “fine-tuning their piano keys” over the past few months in order to get back into the business of play during the COVID-19 era. Alongside the reopening, FAO Schwarz has added an Iron Studios brand shop to its store. Kids and collectors can shop a variety of action figures...

Fisher-Price launches a work-from-home play set, as millions of American parents continue to work remotely. The "My Home Office" playset, available starting Wednesday for $24.99, features a laptop with four fabric "apps," a smartphone, headset, and coffee cup. The playset is part of a collection designed for babies and preschoolers whose parents are spending more time at home due to the pandemic.

Bring the LEGO City Adventures Tv series to life with the new LEGO City Main Square set. Families can now bring the excitement and buzz from city life into the comfort of their own homes – as The LEGO® Group launches the brand-new LEGO® City Main Square set. Designed for the whole family to build and re-build together, this latest product is the ultimate set in the entertaining world of LEGO® City …

Mattel celebrates International Lefthanders Day with Left Hand UNO. Mattel Games is celebrating International Lefthanders Day with a new UNO deck aimed at giving lefties and advantage. Left Hand UNO switches the numbers to the opposite side of the card so that left-handed players can better see their hand.

Abacus Brands to release Bill Nye’s VR Science Kit this Fall. Bill Nye’s VR Science Kit features uses augmented reality (AR) tech to illustrate scientific themes as animated and live-action versions of Nye appear to pop out of each page of the included 80-page, illustrated interactive workbook. Kids can use the included VR Goggles along with a compatible smartphone to view lessons from Nye in a VR tour of his actual lab.

The fight for supremacy is on in Marvel Future Fight’s new Inhumans vs. X-men update. Netmarble’s latest update today for the popular mobile game MARVEL Future Fight brings all-new Inhuman and X-Men characters and uniforms that are inspired by Marvel’s “Inhumans vs. X-Men” comic storyline as well as other popular Inhumans adventures. This update also brings numerous other improvements for player...

DC Direct shuttered amid WarnerMedia restructuring. After a 22-year run, the in-house toy and collectibles arm of DC Comics is no more. Launched in 1998, DC Direct marketed a collector-focused range of action figures, statues, prop replicas, and other items. For eight years, the division rebranded as DC Collectibles prior to returning to its DC Direct name during Toy Fair New York last February.

Xbox narrows down Series X launch window to November 2020. Both Xbox and PlayStation have yet to actually disclose a set-in-stone launch date for their next generation consoles, but Xbox is inching ever-so-closer to doing so.  The company officially announced today that the Xbox Series X will launch during the month of November

Funko reveals second wave of PlayStation Pop! vinyls. Funko and PlayStation have revealed their second wave of Pop! vinyls in preparation for the release of the PlayStation 5. The figures, which will sell exclusively at GameStop, include characters from games like “Ratchet & Clank,” “Death Stranding,” “The Last of Us,” “The Last of Us 2” and “Twisted Metal.”

Hasbro will release an animatronic Baby Yoda into U.S. Retail. Hasbro will release Star Wars Collection: The Child Animatronic Edition, an animatronic The Child toy from the hit series The Mandalorian, into U.S. retail on November 1. Hasbro has applied the old Disney Imagineer animatronic magic to the global sensation known as The Child.

Minecraft: Education Edition is available on Chromebooks just in time for the school year. Microsoft is adding Chromebook support to Minecraft: Education Edition, offering another way for schools to teach virtually this upcoming school year. Designed specifically for a classroom setting, Minecraft: Education Edition provides tools for educators like virtual chalkboards and a Classroom mode that allows teachers....

Microsoft delays Halo Infinite to 2021. Microsoft and 343 Industries are making the decision to delay the launch of Halo Infinite to 2021. 343 Industries says the delay is related to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, as employees have shifted to work from home and development of large games has been particularly difficult for many in the industry.

Kinder unveils African-inspired range for Animal Adventures. Kinder is launching its Animal Adventures range across Kinder Surprise and Chocolate for a second year, following last year’s South American-themed toy range. This year 21 African wildlife toys will replace last year’s toys, made with “tailored materials and functions to improve the physical play experience”.

Micro Puzzles, Viz Art Ink collaborate for hand-drawn puzzle collection. Micro Puzzles entered into a new licensing deal with Gregg “Viz” Visintainer’s Viz Art Ink for a colorful new collection of puzzles.The offerings feature Viz Art Ink creations reproduced on Micro Puzzles’ signature 150-piece, 4- by 6-inch puzzles.

Mattel has the power in new Masters of the Universe toy line reveal featuring UNO, Fisher-Price and Mega Construx. Mattel has unveiled a new generation-spanning collection of toys, action figures, tabletop games and even a themed version of its popular card game UNO all based on the Masters of the Universe franchise, proving that the global toymaker really does ‘have the power.’A launch that will coincide with...

Trump’s executive order against Tencent will not affect its games businesses. Donald Trump has signed two executive orders – one that will prohibit Americans from doing business with TikTok-owner ByteDance, and the second prohibits transactions related to the app WeChat, owned by Tencent. The news set off concerns that Tencent’s considerable number of video games businesses would be affected by the order.

Massive Warner layoffs gut DC Comics, DC Universe. The merger between AT&T and Time Warner into another monolithic media megacorporation has seen a massive wave of layoffs targeted primarily at Warner Bros. this week. One area hit hardest overnight was DC Entertainment, with reports of huge swathes of staff at both DC Comics and DC Universe laid off.

Microsoft’s new Xbox Series S console confirmed in leaked controller packaging. Microsoft is rumored to be unveiling its second, cheaper next-gen Xbox console this month, and it looks like it will definitely be called Xbox Series S. The Verge has obtained photos of Microsoft’s new next-gen Xbox controller in white, complete with packaging that mentions the Xbox Series S.

Scottish board game outfit Taxi Game sees sales surge as it readies five new launches for 2020. The Scottish outfit of developers behind the board game Taxi Game has witnessed a sales surge ‘eclipsing even the national increase in board game sales,’ thanks to an increase in demand for the entertainment medium by families spending more time together at home. The business has seen its best quarterly sales...

Games Workshop will release new 'Warhammer 40,000' paint sets that include miniatures. Games Workshop will release Space Marines: Assault Intercessors + Paints Set and Necrons: Warriors + Paints Set, for use with Warhammer 40,000, on August 15. Games Workshop also unveiled three new starter sets for Warhammer 40,000, Recruit Edition, Elite Edition, and Command Edition.

Amazon rebrands Twitch Prime as Prime Gaming. Amazon is rebranding Twitch Prime, which gives Amazon Prime subscribers perks on the company’s live streaming platform, by dropping the Twitch name and emphasizing the Prime part of the brand. The service will now be known as Prime Gaming.

Rainbow Designs unveils innovative new pre-school toy line for The Adventures of Paddington. Rainbow Designs has lifted the lid on its new range of pre-school toys based on the new The Adventures of Paddington TV series. The innovative toy range has been developed by Phat Mojo and distributed in the UK by Rainbow Designs. The new collection has been designed to engage a new generation of fans...

FFG plans new figure pack for 'Journeys In Middle-Earth'. Fantasy Flight Games will release Dwellers in Darkness Figure Pack, for The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle Earth, in October, the company announced. The new figure pack will contain three new miniatures of the iconic villains from the Shadowed Paths campaign …

Asmodee USA reveals 'Mysterium Park' for U.S. trade. Asmodee USA revealed Mysterium Park, a mystery-solving board game by Libellud, for release in Q4. In Mysterium Park, the former director has disappeared, and a ghost has appeared to help players solve the mystery.

Amazon stumbled as it worked to break into the lucrative video game industry. Now it’s trying again. On Monday, Amazon announced Prime Gaming, which is essentially a rebranding of its Twitch Prime service that provides exclusive game content. Just over a month ago, the company pulled its original big-budget game, Crucible, from digital store shelves after it was panned as a “hollow and forgettable experience.”

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

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 …

(the above posted after August 14th) 

MANGA IN THE COVID ERA: BINGE READING, BOX SETS, VOLUME 1S, MORE  ICv2 Interview: VIZ Media Vice President Publishing Sales Kevin Hamric.  VIZ has been doing extraordinarily well during the pandemic period.  Our sales are beyond expectations.  We started off the year strong, and then the pandemic hit, and we took a look at our business.  We even had talks about, should we revise our revenue budget and our goals?  

Toy Safety and Counterfeit Related Articles . . . 

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.

(the above posted after August 14th)

Disney, Viacom, others will limit data collection to settle children's privacy battle. Disney, Viacom and other companies have agreed to limit data collection and behavioral advertising techniques in children's apps, to settle privacy lawsuits brought by parents. “Children will be protected from advertising based on any past online activities or any previously collected data in the subject app or anywhere else...

In-game advertising, the compliance perspective. With more than a quarter of the world’s population playing games across PC, console and mobile, we'll take a deep dive into how, when and why you should be looking towards leveraging a Consent Management Platform

Some Nerf Supersoaker water pistols have been recalled due to a safety issue - here’s how to tell if you’re affected. The decorative sticker on the water tank of the Super Soaker XP 20 and Super Soaker XP 30 water blasters "may contain levels of lead in the ink that exceed regulatory...

"The presence of lead is limited to the decorative sticker affixed to the water tank of the blasters,” the company clarifies.

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Press Releases . . .

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.

(the above posted after August 14th)

KIDS AMPLIFY THEIR ‘INSIDE VOICES’ THANKS TO JAMMIN WITH YOU’S EXTENSIVE VIRTUAL LESSONS. Become a Virtuoso, Virtually, During The Summer 2020 Lull And Into The Hybrid School Year As Other Childhood Activities Get Postponed.  Another day, another announcement that something your child signed up for is being cancelled. Karate, preseason practice, ballet? Oh no! Jammin With You is coming to the rescue for kids whose summer camps are cancelled and for schools across the country forced to drop the arts and extracurriculars because they are going virtual. Jammin With You, the kid’s music institution in New York City and Boston, passionately believes in the power of music to bring joy...

Spin Master Declares August 11 Global Kinetic Sand™ Day in Celebration of the Original, Magical Sand. To celebrate the day, Spin Master is teaming up with Hilaria Baldwin, mother of four, co-host of Mom Brain podcast, author and contributor at TODAY.com and People, not to mention Kinetic Sand aficionado. "I am so excited to partner with Spin Master to kick off the first-ever global Kinetic Sand Day,"

 

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

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

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.

The Toy Association presents Mid-Year Toy Trends Briefing during Toy Fair Everywhere. On top of filling the void left by canceled events and face-to-face meetings that normally occur between now and the holiday selling season, Toy Fair Everywhere will unveil the latest developments in toys, play, and consumer shopping habits, with The Toy Association’s trends team providing a mid-year trend briefing …

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.

(the above posted after August 14th)

The winners of the 2020 Licensing International Excellence Awards have been revealed in the industry’s first virtual awards ceremony that brought together nearly 1,000 executives from around the world for the celebrations. Hosted by Handcraft VP and stand-up comic Marshall Mizrahi, the event saw licensing powerhouse Martha Stewart inducted into the Licensing Hall of Fame.

BTHA releases update on London Toy Fair. The British Toy and Hobby Association has sent a detailed update to exhibitors regarding the upcoming London Toy Fair, which is scheduled to take place 19th-21st January 2021. The statement reads: “At the end of July, after much campaigning from the events industry, the PM announced in quite a low-key way that business events, including exhibitions,...

GDC 2021 shifts back four months to July with hybrid event. The conference is being billed as a ‘hybrid event’ and will take place from Monday, July 19th through Friday, July 23rd, 2021 at both the Moscone Center in San Francisco and online. With the format being described as an inaugural event for the format, suggesting that a greater online presence will be an ongoing element.

Facebook Gaming to build on its inspirational SheTalksGames series as Exclusive Media Partner of the Women in Games Awards.  “Facebook Gaming are delighted to partner once again with the MCV/Develop Women In Games Awards” said Cheryl Savage, Director of Gaming, Facebook EMEA. “This is the 5th year in which we have participated in the Women In Games and we are looking forward to...

DreamToys 2020 will go digital this year due to Covid-19 impact on the UK. The Toy Retailers Association and DreamToys committee today announced, DreamToys 2020 will take place as a digital event this year. “Due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK, it is not possible to hold a large-scale physical event to announce the DreamToys list,” commented Gary Grant, chair of the DreamToys selection committee …

Toy & Edu China, first-ever Licensing China together welcome 61,553 visitors. Held at the brand-new Shenzhen World Exhibition & Convention Center, Toy & Edu China, Baby & Stroller China and Licensing China hosted 1,321 exhibitors from eight countries and regions across seven halls (140,000 sqm), while 61,553 visitors attended. Together, the fairs including the debut edition of Licensing China.

Asmodee introduces its own virtual trade event AsmoFair for 2020AsmoFair.Taking its own stance against the swell of cancelled industry shows this year, the board game distributor has partnered with its sister company Coiledspring Games to launch the virtual event that will run from September 2nd to September 5th.

The Toy Insider prepares to unwrap Holiday of Play @ Home. Following the success of its first-ever virtual event, Sweet Suite @ Home, our sister publication, the Toy Insider is getting ready to help sleigh the holiday shopping season. Set to take place on October 22, the Toy Insider’s 9th annual Holiday of Play event is going virtual this year …

NYCC OFFICIALLY CANCELED, ONLINE EVENT IN THE WORKS. ReedPop announced today that, while there will be no in-person event at the Javits Center this fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the company will partner with YouTube for a digital version of the event. From October 8-11, the New York Comic Con YouTube channel will exclusively stream panels from Starz, CBS All Access, DreamWorks Animation, Hulu, FX, and more.

Messe Frankfurt hails success of Licensing China a ‘positive step towards the return of trade shows’. Messe Frankfurt has heralded the success of its three events, Toy & Edu China, Baby & Stroller China, and the inaugural Licensing China, as the first positive steps for the return of B2B events and in-person interactions in the region. The trio of events were the first fairs to be held by the organisation since Feb...

The Asian Animation Summit goes virtual for 2020. The ninth annual Asian Animation Summit has bitten the bullet and confirmed that this year’s event will take place in the virtual landscape, a move made in response to the continued travel restrictions and health and safety issues related to the coronavirus pandemic. The Summit will now take place online from November 16 to December 4 this year.

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Top Stories from Trade Magazines Worldwide this Week . . .

Adventure Media & Events (US)

aNb Media's (US)

Toyworld (UK) 

  1. Timing in life is everything…it’s the Friday Blog!

  2. BTHA releases update on London Toy Fair

  3. Maxi Toys acquired by King Jouet

  4. Asmodee set to launch virtual AsmoFair

  5. Rubies and Bristol Novelty to merge

  6. Exclusive: NPD looks at the UK toy market in recent months

  7. DreamToys transitions to digital event

  8. The Very Group reports strong annual revenue growth

   9. WHSmith requests rent decrease from landlords

10.  Retail sales rise despite lower high street footfall

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

  1.  Wizards of the Coast Says ACD Distribution 'No Longer an Option'
  2.  Funko Reduces Workforce 25%
  3.  Top 5 Roleplaying Games--Spring 2020
  4.  Need a Goblin to Guard the Store? WizKids Has it Covered!
  5.  Steamforged Games Unveils 'Epic Encounters' Fantasy Miniatures Sets
  6.  Gale Force Nine and Dire Wolf Digital Team Up for 'Dune: Imperium'
  7.  Fandom, Inc. Unveils 'The Masters of the Universe' Roleplaying Game
  8.  Top 10 Hobby Channel Board Games--Spring 2020
  9.  Hasbro Will Release an Animatronic 'Baby Yoda' into U.S. Retail
10.  Promising Spring Season Brought Low by COVID-19

TOYS Magazine (Germany) 

Toy & Hobby (Australia) 

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

 

Tabletop Wire (US)

  • TBA

Video of the Week

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!!!

Congratulations to Tim Walsh, Scott Brown, Chris Callaghan and Team Roo Games on their victory in the ASTRA LipSync Battle

 

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