the Bloom Report

Toy & Game Industry's #1 News Summary Globally
Below is Dec. 10-17, 2021. Click Here for Last Week

News posted daily with most recent at top of each section and previous week drops off on Friday when we email you highlights. 
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 Weekly News Brief . . . 

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Happy Bloomin' Friday! 

We are having fun with memes and are into our Twelve Memes of Christmas - check it out on POP! 

If you missed last week's edition, we welcome to our new readers! We’ve merged our POP/CHITAG Business of Play newsletter and the Bloom Report (tBR), along with their subscribers’ lists. Now we bring the best of BOTH to EVERYBODY! Enjoy!

 

We have a new super exciting initiative to help PR and Marketing people navigate the fast paced and rapidly evolving world of promotion. For both brands and agencies, we will be hosting a PR and Marketing 1.5 day virtual event in mid-March, monthly roundtables and a cocktail party during NY Toy Fair. After an exploratory meeting with brand execs and agencies,  Michele Litzky and Kathleen Tomes created a survey to gage interest and discover topics that interest you, such as ROI, Metrics, Influencers, etc. Please take the survey - click HERE.

 

Thank you for reading the Bloom Report.

Mary

Person of the Week: Rana Schenke Opines on Monkee Vs. Machine:

What can a '60s TV show teach us about toy inventing?

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After receiving news of the death of Michael Nesmith (Mike from the Monkees) on Friday, I thought back to the Monkees’ TV show and, more specifically, my favorite episode of the show. 

 

Funnily enough, the episode in question centers around the happenings at a toy company, so I thought it would make the perfect topic for a post.

 

In the episode, titled “Monkee vs. Machine” (S1:E3), Mike gets a job at a toy company and meets Pop Harper, an elderly toy inventor. 

 

Daggart, a company exec, is attempting to force Pop out in favor of having his cohort of computers design all of the toys, and Mike and the rest of the band decide to help Pop keep his job by sabotaging the playtesting of Daggart’s computer-designed toys. 

 

So, what can we take away from this episode?  READ MORE  . . . 

POP Week's Thursday's POP DUO: Garry Trudeau, Pulitzer Prize Winning Doonesbury Cartoonist and Will Shortz, Crossword Editor, NYTimes, Puzzle Master, NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday.   Watch on POP's hompage!

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tBR Person of the Week: Gert Garmen Opines on Cape-abilities: Adaptability

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How To Put On Your Cape-abilities

In this blog post, you’ll continue to find strategies that you can use to shake up your thinking and unleash your innovation super powers. Each blog post defines a tool you need, gives you a summary of what that tool can do for you, some questions that stir your thinking, and an exercise to get you started using the tool. You can either use the tools from start to finish to understand all the tools in your toolkit or you can pick up any tool — play around, use it, and discover how it works for you. 

The next ability in our Cape-ability series is … Adaptability

Vocabulary.com defines adaptability as the ability to change (or be changed) to fit changed circumstances.

My definition is the ability to adapt the creative problem process, tools, and behaviors to apply to challenges you are facing. 

The ability to adapt, or adaptability, is a great quality to have if you are an animal in nature, having to weather different seasons, or climate changes. You could say that some chameleons, which change color to blend into their surroundings, have a high level of adaptability. It’s also a good quality for an employee of a company that is going through a lot of change.  Read More . . . Read More . . . .

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Financial & Legal News . . .

Pacific Cycle Races into 2022 under New Ownership.  Amsterdam-based Pon Holdings has entered the final stages of its acquisition of Dorel Sports, the U.S.-based bicycle company owned by Canada’s Dorel Industries. The purchase of Dorel Sports includes three major names in biking — Pacific Cycle, Cycling Sports Group, and Coloi — including popular brands such as Schwinn, Mongoose, KidTrax, GT, and Cannondale.

Dark Horse Comics Sold to Gaming Giant Embracer Group.  The indie publisher is home to 'Hellboy' and 'The Umbrella Academy.' The publisher’s new owner, which has 9,000 employees globally, is touting the untapped potential of the Dark Horse library, noting that 159 of its 170 of its owned properties have yet to be optioned for film and TV shows. 

The Price for Asmodee, Its Sales and Profits, and Its Moves into Retail and Future Deals  Embracer Group, which announced a deal to acquire Asmodee, revealed more info about the acquisition in conjunction with a presentation to analysts. The biggest news was the surprisingly high price paid, roughly €2.75 billion, or around $3.11 billion at today’s exchange rate.  That’s more than double the $1.4 billion paid by owner PAI Partners just 3 years ago.

(the above posted after December 17th)

Embracer Group announced that it has purchased French board game publisher Asmodee. The purchase would be for €2.75 billion ($3.1 billion), €350 million ($394 million) of which will be paid in newly issued Embracer shares. Asmodee will continue to operate as it has before the acquisition with no organizational changes. "Asmodee would become our ninth operating group, moving...

November retail sales slow but holiday outlook remains strong. U.S. retail sales growth has slowed in Nov. compared to Oct. according to the U.S. Monthly Trade Report. Total retail sales for November were nearly flat at 0.3% increase over October. Department stores had the largest drop for the major retail segment at minus 5.4% followed by electronics and appliances at minus 4.6%, and discount stores at minus 0.3%. 

CD Projekt settles investors lawsuit for $1.85m. CD Projekt has officially settled the lawsuit filed by its investors following Cyberpunk 2077's botched launch. In the regulatory announcement reporting the news, the company said $1.85 million will be paid to the investors behind the class-action lawsuit in exchange for them relinquishing "all claims against the company and members of its management board." 

Vodeo Games staff becomes first unionized game studio in North America. Today leadership from Vodeo Games has formally recognized the formation of Vodeo Workers United to become the first certified game studio union in N.A. The union, which was formed with the Communications Workers of America, says that it will represent all eligible employees across the entirety of job positions: those who are...

Good news for parents: 2021 is the cheapest year yet for must-have toys. With the gift-buying season upon us, online financial comparison site Money.co.uk has been looking into the ‘must-have’ toys of Christmases past, and one company has emerged as the clear winner. According to the Toy Retailers Association’s DreamToys annual listings, which are decided by a panel of retailers to encourage gift givers not to leave...

Ho, ho, how much?: Toy prices rise by 18% just in time for Christmas. Parents doing last-minute Christmas shopping might want to reconsider a lump of coal as a stocking stuffer:  Toy prices climbed 18% between November 2019 and last month, industry sources point out. What’s more, some parents will find “higher prices and empty shelves” if they’re still looking for certain items, a leading economist says. 

For some big box stores and national chains, their ships have finally come in.  Despite months of worry regarding supply chain issues, including a lack of container space; price gouging on spot rates; labor concerns; logjams at ports; and issues with trucking and rail — not to mention inflation and rising raw materials costs — big box toy departments from coast to coast are filling up.  In the U.S., regional outages...

Fox acquires MarVista  With a pipeline that churns out 80 films a year and a deep catalogue of kids movies, the LA-based prodco will now make content for Fox's platforms.  Fox Entertainment has acquired indie prodco MarVista Entertainment to make new content for its channels and to give both companies access to a wider int'l network of third-party buyers and co-pro partnersThe deal is worth more than US$100 mill... 

Who Bought What? WarnerMedia’s 2021 buying round-up.  From everything preschool to int'l expansion, here’s Kidscreen breakdown of Cartoon Network and HBO Max's content plays this year. Preschool dominated the Cartoon Network and HBO Max conversation this yr with the launch of a new Cartoonito programming block featuring 20 original titles, and a commitment to adding 50 more over the next 2 yrs.

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

Trends, Market Research Reports . . .

The NPD Group Offers an Update on China’s Toy Business . . . . . . . . NPD reveals UK’s best-selling toys in run up to Christmas . . . . . . . . Top-Selling and Fastest-Growing TCGs on Black Friday . . . . . . . . TOP FIVE COMICS BUSINESS STORIES OF 2021

(the above posted after December 17th)

TV toy advertisers moving away from stereotypes . . . . . . Ode to Joy: Kids are hungry for joyful shows . . . . . . These are the future-facing retail trends for 2022 . . . . .  The cultural trends behind Google’s Year in Review 2021 . . . . . . U.S. video game sales dip as ‘Call of Duty’ season begins, console availability declines . . . . . .  Playtime together tops the toy charts this Christmas as Hamleys reveals its top picks . . . . . . Amazon says these are the most popular holiday toys of 2021 -- Batman Play Sets, LOL Surprise and more . . . . . . MORE THAN 148 MILLION AMERICANS PLAN TO SHOP ON ‘SUPER SATURDAY,’ NRF SAYS . . . . . . The Kidscreen Hot50 results are in

Financial & Brokerage News . . .

JAKKS Pacific slides as supply chain problems take toll on Q2 revenue . . . . . . Hot Wheels Unleashed has sold over one million copies . . . . . . . . Box Office: ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ Soars to Record $260M U.S. Opening, $600.8M Globally

(the above posted after December 17th)

The Switch had an uneven 2021 despite outselling the competition all year . . . . . .  Nintendo Switch Best-selling Console in November – More Than 1 Million Units Sold . . . . . . . Character Group reports turnover increase of 29% for year ending August 2021 . . . . . . . Smyths Toys Irish business reports financial results . . . . . . . B&M announces encouraging half-year results

Future Financial Reporting . . .

Toyjobs has been the dominant recruiting

Stories, Comments & Advice . . .

John Baulch, ToyWorld UK.  Tidings of comfort and joy …it’s the Christmas Blog! It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Unfortunately, the Christmas it is most looking like is last Christmas. Yet more virus-related uncertainty saw last weekend’s retail footfall impacted in many areas, while all week there has been a seemingly never-ending ‘will he, won’t he’ debate around whether our Prime Minister would introduce new...

RTE documentary shows the magic of toyshops at Christmas.  A fascinating behind-the-scenes look at one of the most adored environments across the world, The Toy Shop featured a range of retail venues in the Republic of Ireland, their staff and their customers, from the youngest shopper saving up their Communion money for a special treat, to their eldest devotee, who has been going there since their own youth.

Kidscreen’s most-read stories of 2021.  News about popular IPs being adapted, acquired or licensed for consumer products attracted the most views this year, as we look back at some of 2021′s most-read stories from the Kidscreen Daily newsletter. From beloved brand reboots to big deals for ZAG's Miraculous—here are the top-10 Kidscreen Daily articles of the year.

Board games heavily influenced some of 2021’s best video games.  The tabletop and digital realms became the best of friends this year. 

BoardBoard games have exploded in popularity, appearing everywhere from South Park to The New York Times. But their most fascinating impact is on a recent surge of excellent video games.  The charitable co-existence between tabletop and digital is not altogether new. 

The Best Fidget Toys for All Ages.  For reducing anxiety or just plain fun, these are the best sensory toys for kids and adults. Fidget toys have become all the rage in recent years. From occupational therapy offices, to classrooms, to work meetings, these items have spread like wildfire for their usefulness in keeping busy hands and minds focused, as well as for the simple fact that they’re just plain fun. 

The Playground Podcast – 2021 Year in Review. In the latest episode of the Playground Podcast, Richard Gottlieb (Global Toy Experts) and Chris Byrne (The Toy Guy) were joined by John Baulch of Toy World and James Zahn of The Toy Book to talk about the major issues of 2021 and explore some of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in 2022.

That Fun TikTok Video? It’s Actually an Ad.  Brands are flocking to the platform like never before, drawn by its more than 1 billion users and its algorithm, which can make an ad seem like just another video. Ever since young Americans began their exodus from commercial television to streaming services and social media, advertisers have searched for the digital equivalent of home shopping channels, a place online...

In Case You Missed It: 2021 in kids TV news.  From the Moonbug acquisition to Disney closing linear channels, we recap the year's major shifts in kids TV that could open new opportunities for producers. It’s been another wild yr, to say the least. New content and consumer products trends emerged as families continued to try and cope with pandemic life, and the kids industry got even more creative on the problem-solving front.

Ode to Joy: How kidcos can bring joy to tough topics.  Kids TV shows typically steer clear of serious topics, but some creators are using joy to keep kids engaged in issues like climate change and gender identity. After nearly two years of lockdowns, social distancing measures and worrying statistics around anxiety and mental health, kids are looking for things that make them happy.

Kidscreen: In Case You Missed It: 2021 in consumer products news.  From the supply chain to NFTs, an in-depth look at some of this year’s biggest consumer products stories. It’s been another wild year, to say the least. New content and consumer products trends emerged as families continued to try and cope with pandemic life, and the kids industry got even more creative on the problem-solving front.

Rolling for Initiative -- Not Dead Yet (And Other Observations of 2021)  This week, columnist Scott Thorne shares his observations on the games industry in 2021. Paraphrasing a quote from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the brick and mortar retail store is "not dead yet".  According to eMarketer, growth in brick-and-mortar retail stores outpaced that of online sales and saw their largest growth rates since 2021. 

AN ORAL HISTORY OF STRETCH ARMSTRONG’S DELIGHTFUL DESTRUCTIBILITY. Jesse D. Horowitz, inventor of Stretch Armstrong: Back in 1974, after finishing basic training in the National Guard, I was living on Long Island with my parents. I needed a job. I saw an ad in the New York Times for an industrial designer, and called for an interview. I had a background at General Motors, where you’d show up to work in a shirt ...

The Scholarly Pursuit of Shrek: 20 Years of Ogres and Irony. “I am my own boss,” I tell myself as I log into a seven-hour Zoom call about the cultural legacy of Shrek (2001) at 3 a.m. on a Saturday morning. I used to have vivid fantasies about being my own boss—creative control, music without headphones, giving yourself a day off for something you call ‘oxytocin methadone clinic.’ All of these things are true, but this logic...

Most popular Christmas toys in the world. It's that time of year when the hours of meticulous wrapping of Christmas toys are viciously undone in seconds by tiny children. LEGO and Pokémon are usually safe bets. Yet, despite tremendous advances in technology, some of the most popular toys are also the simplest ...

American Girl founder has been quietly dolling up a real-life town for decades.  Pleasant Rowland created a business worth $700 million by using dolls to teach young girls about American history. Now she’s using some of that money to restore her picturesque college town to some of its former glory. The founder of the American Girl doll brand has been quietly renovating the village of Aurora in upstate NY, restoring five ...

These are all the kids' toys that adults will love too. OK, don't think I'm weird, but there are some kids' toys out now that make for great gifts for grown-ups too. I'm quite serious. If you're looking for gift ideas for adults, there are some hot toys that kids will totally love -- and that grown-ups will want to steal away from them.

(the above posted after December 17th)

Dubit’s David Kleeman On The Importance of Young Audiences To The Metaverse The Dubit team develops interactive experiences and live events for the metaverse inside the major gaming platforms, including Roblox, Minecraft, and Core. Recently, SVP Global Trends, David Kleeman, sat down with SuperAwesome, to discuss the changing nature of children’s relationship with technology, the emerging metaverse, and...

John Baulch, ToyWorld UK - If I knew I would tell you …it’s the Friday Blog! I have been thinking of changing my voicemail message all week – to something along the lines of: “Thank you for calling Toy World. If your enquiry is about whether the Nuremberg Toy Fair is going ahead, congratulations – you are our 1000th caller today, you win a special prize.”

WHY SONY’S PLAYSTATION SUBSCRIPTION STRATEGY CAN’T WAIT.  While Xbox One sales were outnumbered two to one by PlayStation 4 during the last console generation, the Xbox Game Pass subscription service has been a winner for Microsoft, its 18 million subscribers towering over PlayStation Now’s 3.2 million. Now, Bloomberg reports Sony is developing a new service, code-named Spartacus, that will combine...

Attention Toys R Us Kids: The Toy Superstore Is Back. Paul Ghermezian, a member of the family of mall czars that built the American Dream mega-mall in the New Jersey Meadowlands, admitted he was quite jealous when his son saw the new flagship Toys R Us store at American Dream and exclaimed “Dad this is amazing. I love this place.” “We have an amusement park, we have a water park and here he’s in a toy store saying...

Opinion: How ‘retailtainment’ is powering LEGO’s success, Following the opening of LEGO’s flagship retail outlet in Barcelona, industry analyst Utku Tansel LLB, MBA, explores why the high street is still an important part of shopping, and how retailers can differentiate their in-store shopping experiences to respondto changing consumer needs.

Can Nielsen prove it still has a place in the streaming age? Since 1950, media research company Nielsen has been the scorekeeper for the TV business. Networks depend on its audience measurement data as they compete for $65 billion spent annually on advertising. The relationship has at times been rocky.

Game developers on shifting to four-day workweeks: “They were so helpful for our mental health”​.  An adoption of four-day workweeks has become a new trend for a lot of small studios and even some AAA teams. So what do game developers think of this system and how can it improve their workflow?

Toy sellers ponder reliance on China as supply problems bite. Companies hit by delays and soaring shipping costs are rethinking production options.  Lego, the world’s largest toymaker, said its geographical spread of manufacturing had helped it shrug off the disruption and it posted a record first-half profit this year. The co. coped with high demand in lockdowns and pandemic supply pressures thanks to its manufacturing ...

Usain Bolt: Mario Kart helped me become Olympic championUsain Bolt is the fastest sprinter to have ever walked the Earth. He’s been telling BBC gaming reporter Steffan Powell how his love of gaming helped his Olympic career. Turns out he’s just as competitive playing Mario Kart and Mortal Kombat as he is on an athletics track. Usain has been working with Virgin Media and using hologram technology called Portl to...

Bob Ross died fighting profit-driven vultures only for them to turn him into a Funko Pop NFT. Beloved painter Bob Ross died in 1995 due to complications from lymphoma, but before he passed away he made it very clear to the world that he didn’t want his likeness used for profit. But recently, Pop figurine maker Funko went in on the hot new digital grift by turning turned Ross into an NFT that’s purchasable on December 21. 

Fans of Spanish football club threw thousands of toys onto the field during halftime to make sure kids in need had a gift at Christmas. Real Betis supporters made quite a scene at halftime of the club's match against Real Sociedad. As the teams left the field, the supporters took their cue, throwing thousands upon thousands of toys and stuffed animals onto the pitch as a part of a charitable effort to...

TikTok is testing a desktop streaming software called TikTok Live Studio. What if instead of watching your favorite TikTok star stream on Twitch, you could watch them play video games live on TikTok? For the last few days, according to the platform, TikTok has been testing a Windows program called TikTok Live Studio. 

Ho ho tow! Green Flag launches festive recovery service for Little Tikes vehicles. Breakdown provider and roadside recovery expert Green Flag has launched ‘Little Green Flag’, a purpose-led recovery and reward service for children, in partnership with leading toy brand Little Tikes. The new service sees Green Flag come to the rescue of families as it recovers iconic Little Tikes’ Cozy Coupes that children have loved but ...

On four-day work weeks: Lessons from the games industry and beyondThe four-day work week is an intriguing proposition, offering employees more flexibility and freedom when it comes to choosing how to split their time between work and leisure. It's a notion that has already become a reality at some studios, with indies like Bugsnax developer Young Horses and larger companies such as Eidos Montreal ...

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Remembering the Toy Industry's Past . . . 

Thomas the Bank Engine: £850 vintage train tops list of most valuable toy trains hiding in attics. One of the UK’s leading personal finance guidance platforms has revealed a list of the world’s most valuable toy trains ahead of Christmas 2021, to encourage people to check their attics for any valuable collectibles that might be lying around. Forbes Advisor partnered with toy expert Peter Jenkinson to create the guide, which identifies the most valuable toy trains and the prices they can command, and offers suggestions for budding collectors on what to invest in …

Frame-Tray Puzzles from Western Publishing (1979). The venerable jigsaw puzzle was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 2002, a testament to its all-ages play value and enduring popularity as a challenging pastime, especially on a cold winter day. Frame-tray puzzles are aimed at young puzzlers and are often promoted as helping children develop coordination and motor control. Each puzzle consists of a small number of large, die-cut, interlocking pieces that fit securely inside a pre-fitted frame.

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Worldwide Licensing News . . .

Dr. Seuss characters are some of the most iconic of all time, so it’s only natural that they lend themselves to successful licensing programs. This year, in particular, Dr. Seuss Enterprises expanded its presence in the toy category with several partnerships worldwide, including games from USAopoly, plush from Aurora, figures from Funko, and more. This momentum is only the start of the company’s toy plans in 2022. 

Flair GP and Tigerhead Toys have announced the return of the Messi Training collection to the firm’s portfolio in SS22. The news comes as Flair prepares for the launch of a raft of new brands for SS22 and AW22, among which will be three properties that will bring together the Flair and Tigerhead Toys teams. The Messi Training range, endorsed by football legend Lionel Messi who recently won the prestigious Ballon d’Or for a...

Funko announced its new line of collectible, interactive greeting displays called Popsies TM. Featuring celebratory messages of excitement and love, patent pending Popsies greetings will be available exclusively at Walmart stores nationwide.  Popsies will feature iconic characters that represent some of the world’s most historic franchises for a wide assortment of everyday occasions. 

Mattel Creations Teams Up with VeeFriends to Transform Rare NFTs into Physical Collectibles... a collaboration for the NFT community and crypto currency holders from Mattel Creations and VeeFriends with a reimagined UNO deck featuring Gary Vaynerchuk’s VeeFriends NFT signature characters. As one of the first physical products created from a digital NFT brand, the new deck offers UNO fans and NFT collectors the...

(the above posted after December 17th)

Cubles, Semaphore Collaborate on Influencer Collectibles.  The world of the 3D paperboard Cubles is expanding. Cubles inked a deal with influencer marketing agency Semaphore to create 3D paperboard collectibles inspired by some top digital personalities from the agency’s roster. Minecraft celebrity Tyler Pappas, known for his LogdotZip and Craftee channels, is the first personality to have a customized Cubles figure.

Azerion is welcoming the Teletubbies to the metaverse in celebration of the brand’s upcoming 25th anniversary in 2022. Under a new partnership with WildBrain, owner of the Teletubbies and a global leader in kids’ and family ent., the collaboration will include the exclusive release on Dec. 14 of virtual products in Habbo and Hotel Hideaway. Products available for purchase with virtual currency include Teletubbies...

StoryToys, the LEGO Group and Marvel Entertainment announce the launch of LEGO DUPLO Marvel, a mobile app for preschoolers. With over one million pre-orders globally, the app is now available from the App Store and Google Play. In LEGO DUPLO Marvel even the youngest Marvel fan can engage with their favorite Super Heroes including Spider-Man, Captain America, Ghost-Spider and more. 

Toca Boca welcomes global lifestyle brand Sanrio and its Hello Kitty and Friends franchise into their digital playground.  Today, Hello Kitty is introduced into the vibrant community of the Toca Life World game, with the launch of a furniture pack for the Home Designer creator tool, which features home decoration items from Hello Kitty, Kuromi™, Badtz-maru™, Gudetama™ and My Melody™. 

IMC signs Retail Monster for Cry Babies Magic Tears  IMC Toys announces partnership with Retail Monster as a licensing programme for Cry Babies Magic Tears launches in the UK. In less than two years, the company has entered into agreements with more than 65 licensees in 40 regions, launching more than 500 licensed products across publishing, apparel, educational games, personal care and confectionery categories.

Robert Kirkman’s Skybound in Talks to Acquire G.I. Joe, Transformers Publishing License.  IDW had been publishing comics based on the Hasbro toys since the mid-2000s. Skybound, the imprint run by The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman, is in negotiations with Hasbro to acquire the publishing license to the two properties.

Angry Birds consumer products program will launch alongside Netflix seriesAhead of the global debut of “Angry Birds: Summer Madness” on Netflix on Jan. 28, Rovio Entertainment is working with IMG to build a consumer products program for fans.  IMG has signed deals across core categories including apparel, QSR, confectionery and promotions in location-based experiences in the U.S. and Europe and is now ...

Age of Learning taps Licensing Street to build toy, consumer products program for ABCmouse. The popular ABCmouse online learning program is about to make the jump into the physical realm. Licensing Street inked a deal with Age of Learning Inc. to serve as the North American licensing agent for ABCmouse. 

Ubisoft releases Monopoly video gameUbisoft has announced that “Monopoly Madness,” a video game based on the Monopoly board game, is now available on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch and Stadia, as well as Windows PC through the Ubisoft Store and the Epic Games Store. Players can also subscribe to Ubisoft+ on PC, Stadia and Amazon Luna. 

Troll And Toad and Webbed Sphere unveil NFTNT. Troll and Toad and Webbed Sphere unveiled their new company NFTNT, which specializes in the creation of NFT hybrid trading card collectibles. The NFT collectible space has yet another player, joining other game companies like Funko. Troll and Toad and Webbed head into the mix with an excellent retail pedigree as well as new partnerships with Kong of Skull Island...

AKCO and BOTI team up for BATTLE CUBES content and sports licensing deals. AKCO (Andrew Kerr Consulting Inc) is to spearhead content development and licensing endeavours for BATTLE CUBES, the innovative toy from Dutch/Hong Kong toy company BOTI (Big On Toy Innovation). The partnership is kicking off with a global license agreement with the National Hockey League (NHL).

Asmodee’s ‘The Werewolves of Miller’s Hollow’ to be brought to the big screenAsmodee Entertainment, part of Asmodee, one of the world leaders in boardgames publishing and distribution, has entered into an option agreement with French film and TV production company Radar Films (Mediawan) to develop a feature film based on one of Asmodee’s best-selling board games, The Werewolves of Miller’s Hollow. 

Zynga’s 'Harry Potter' game celebrates the HolidaysZynga has announced that players of its “’Harry Potter:’ Puzzles & Spells” app can take part in the limited-time “Fantastic Feasts” event where they can collect recipe ingredients on their puzzle game boards to complete wizarding world-themed dishes, while earning special in-game rewards. 

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People . . . 

Bob Iger Makes His Disney Exit as a Titan of Transformation. As we stroll on Disney’s historic Burbank lot toward the plaza where he is about to be photographed in front of a statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse holding hands, I ask Iger if he is feeling melancholy about his decision to leave.  “I’m being resolute about it — this time around. I haven’t once second-guessed it or hesitated,” he tells me.

Thousand Oaks inventor who produced talking teeth, 800 other toys still working at 100.  Inspired by dentures, Eddy Goldfarb invented the Yakity-Yak set of wind-up teeth that chattered their way into gift-wrapped boxes under Christmas trees everywhere. He came up with a toy gun that shot soap bubbles. He patented "KerPlunk," a game that asked players not to drop their marbles.

How Batman Inspired Julia Donaldson’s Animated Holiday Special ‘Superworm,’ Starring Matt Smith and Olivia Colman. Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler are Britain’s answer to Dr. Seuss. Ever since publishing “The Gruffalo” — written by Donaldson and illustrated by Scheffler — in 1999, the duo have delighted millions of children with their stories of robber rats, wandering whales and fantastical fish.

Living Legend Toymaker Turns Her Darkness Into Light.  Melissa & Doug co-founder Melissa Bernstein is one of world's most prolific toymakers. But don't assume her life is just fun and games — she has a shelf lined with "misfit toys" to prove it. When a new toy falls flat with consumers, Bernstein, 55, plucks one out of the boxes of returns and sits it on her shelf.

HOW I BUILT THIS WITH GUY RAZ.  Spin Master/PAW Patrol: Ronnen Harary built a 4B dollar toy co. without relying on market research or focus groups. Instead, he believed wholeheartedly in intuition: the "ah-hah" moment that comes from thinking like a 7-yr old. Over a 25-yr period, he and his Spin Master partners launched innumerable hit toys and amusements, including Air Hogs, Bakugan, and the smash hit franchise PAW...

(the above posted after December 17th)

Former NBCUniversal and WarnerMedia marketing director Robin Gay has joined Hasbro-owned Entertainment One as VP of global franchise strategy management for Peppa Pig. Based in London, Gay is now responsible for spearheading the popular brand’s growth worldwide through new content, consumer products and marketing initiatives. He will set a long-term vision for the preschool IP, as well as overseeing...

Genius Brands brings in head of M&A  Former Disney exec Zrinka Dekic joins as CFO and head of strategy, mergers and acquisitions as the company continues to expand its corporate footprint. She previously spent nearly a decade at Disney serving in a variety of roles focused on corporate strategy and business development, and she also worked as a VP in the investment mgmt division at Goldman Sachs 1999-2008.

Toys R Us UK makes first senior hire with Mike Coogan  As Marketing and eCommerce director, Mike will assist Toys R Us and Babies R Us to establish operations in the UK. Louis Mitton, CEO and MD, Toys R Us Australia, told Toy World: “I’m very excited to welcome Mike Coogan as our first UK senior appt to the position of Marketing and eCommerce director. With experience of 27 yrs within the former Toys R Us UK operation...

Into the woods and undersea goes Roberta Taylor’s imagination for inspiration. The Edmonton board game designer best known for her tabletop Octopus’ Garden now has a few exciting new game projects on the go. The first is an upgrade of the aforementioned octopus game by Maple Games, now more than a decade old, with updated rules and expansions. The other, published by Kids Table Top Games and already...

Spin Master expands Jennifer Dodge’s role. The entertainment president adds sales, distribution and outbound licensing to her remit, while André Lake Mayer joins in a new SVP position. Spin Master’s president of entertainment Jennifer Dodge is now heading up content sales and distribution and outbound licensing for consumer products. These new leadership responsibilities were previously handled by Adam Beder...

Bungie's HR head steps down, had reported executive for abuse. A week after a major report from IGN detailing troubling allegations of workplace culture, crunch, and hiring practices within Bungie, the studio’s Head of HR has stepped down from her role. In a company-wide email seen by IGN and sent earlier today, Gayle d’Hondt—who has been with the studio since 2007—says that in order for Bungie to move ...

Jazwares expands footprint in Europe with new sales office in Paris. Jazwares has announced the opening of its new French office in Paris, as part of its global expansion plans. The Paris location adds to the existing group of European offices in the UK, Germany and Holland, and is a reflection of the company’s current growth momentum. .

Fanattik appoints Melissa Tudor as Creative DirectorPop culture brand Fanattik, a licensing partner for Hasbro, Universal Studios, Capcom, Bethesda, Studio Canal, Konami and many more leading video game and film studios, has appointed Melissa Tudor as Creative Director. She will take control of the company’s creative strategy which is integral to the company’s continuing success..

Bladez Toyz takes on trio of new hires. The company has welcomed Nikki Janowski as national account manager, George Leeson as assistant designer and Emily O’Donnell as QA administrator. Nikki brings with her a wealth of knowledge and experience working within the gift, licensed gift, homewares and toy industries. George joins the team following his graduation in 2021 with a 1st Class Honors Degree in industrial design. .

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Companies, Brands . . .  

Ty Warner introduces Beanie Bellies. Ahead of the release of the HBO Max documentary Beanie Mania, Chicago-based TY Inc., the largest manufacturer of soft toys in the world best known for Beanie Babies, has created a BEANIE BELLY. A new shape and material made from the softest material the company has ever used, called VELVETY, will take these new Beanies directly into collector’s... 

Get Your Sparkle on with Just Play’s That Girl Lay Lay Toys.  Who is That Girl Lay Lay? She’s the best friend anyone could ever ask for, but she’s not a real person … at least at first! In the Nickelodeon series That Girl Lay Lay, Lay Lay is a personal affirmation app that inspires confidence and positivity. However, when Sadie wishes upon a star, Lay Lay is magically brought to life, and now, these best friends can accomplish anything.

Keeping Tamagotchi Alive.  The virtual pet that turned ‘90s kids into round-the-clock caretakers turned 25 this year.  The palm-sized, egg-shaped toys, with black and white pixelated screens and a handy keychain, were a self-contained universe—one that included happy moments and melancholy ones alike.“I remember, very clearly, standing in the kitchen when my sister found out that her Tamagotchi died, and just how...

OnBuy’s entire workforce has been granted the share options following unparalleled YOY growth in November. The eCommerce marketplace OnBuy, which has recorded 200% revenue growth in the last 12 months, is looking to maintain its impressive momentum by offering all of its 100+ employees the chance to grow as well, with an option to have a stake in the business.​

Jazwares announced the launch of Squishmallows® on Roblox, the popular 3D gaming and experiences platform expanding the world of the immensely popular Squishmallows plush toy brand. The Metaverse game brings together two pop-culture favorites in an amazingly fun play experience for all ages. Developed in-house, the Squishmallows game is the ultimate social virtual world where fans can collect Squishmallows...

The Pokémon Co. Intl has announced the launch of a permanent Pokémon space in Berlin’s iconic KaDeWe department store, as the year of celebrations for the brand’s 25th anniversary conclude with a flourish. Following a well-received 2 month pop-up installation in KaDeWe that ended in October, the partnership has been made permanent. The new branded space features a wide range of Pokémon toys...

(the above posted after December 17th)

Mattel is ready to take flight with a new live-action film called Christmas Balloon, its first project based on a brand-new IP.  Inspired by a true story, this family drama is about a young girl living in a Mexican border town who ties her Christmas list to a balloon in an effort to send it to Santa. A couple in Arizona finds it and works with Mattel to make Dáyami’s Christmas wishes come true.

H. Grossman rebrands as One For Fun for 2022. On Monday 20th December, the company will be renamed One For Fun Ltd, in a total rebrand that brings all of the company’s well known product brands under one unifying entity. David Mordecai, CEO of the company, commented: “This announcement is the culmination of a lot of hard work bringing together all of our team with one website, one set of email addresses ...

First Lady Jill Biden and PBS Kids Friends Share Holiday Fun at the White House.  PBS KIDS and First Lady Jill Biden kick-off the holidays at the White House, with events streaming free via PBS KIDS on Dec. 16th. A special behind-the-scenes tour with the First Lady and D.C. Army National Guard Captain Maryanne V. Harrell and her family, who visit the decorated rooms throughout the White House, meeting favorite friends...

Kroeger, Identity Games Ink Pact for Escape Room: The Game.  Beginning Jan. 1, Kroeger will offer the multi-SKU Escape Room: The Game brand to retailers across the U.S. and Canada, including specialty, mid-tier, mass, and e-commerce. Since its launch in 2016, Escape Room: The Game has grown to include nearly 40 titles across multiple categories for kids and adults of different skill levels spanning base games,..

R&R Games Plans to Pop the Cork this New Year with Board Game Dom Pierre.  Board game publisher R&R Games has just announced plans to launch its latest strategy board game on Kickstarter January 4th: Dom Pierre. New, from the team of Rola & Costa, Dom Pierre challenges players to harvest grapes, produce Champagne, and sell their vintage to European Nobility.

TikTok says that around 430 songs exceeded 1 billion video views on the platform this year, three times as many songs as last year, as noted in 2021’s Year on TikTok Music Report. Some of the most popular songs in this bracket garnered around or above 20 billion views in videos that use them as soundtracks.

LEGO’s stock shortages won’t be sorted until as late as March 2022The LEGO Group’s solution to its recent stock shortages seems to be placing everything on back order, with some – including 75955 Hogwarts Express – not available for delivery before March next year. The majority of products currently on back order won’t ship until January, which is obviously well beyond what anyone might call a belated Christmas present.

Sharon Gomes’ Snow Rose Media is making its first foray into original content with a new preschool series called GG & Me!  In development now, the 2D-animated series tags along with a spirited 6 yrold girl who leaves the city every Saturday to meet up with her equally energetic grandmother in the countryside. GG & Me! was inspired by Gomes’ upbringing in Singapore, and particularly the fun she had visiting...

Osmo, in partnership with Amazon, announces the launch of their immersive Osmo holiday retail experience at the Amazon Books Store NYC. Located on 34th Street, the limited-time holiday experience will start on Dec. 4, 2021 and run through Dec. 19, 2021, giving children the opportunity to experience the joy of having fun while learning with hands-on play, as smart parents enjoy the ease of scooping up award...

TALKIN’ TOYS: DISGUISE STAYS ON-TREND TO DRESS-UP THE WORLD FOR HALLOWEEN AND BEYOND.  The Toy Book caught up with Tara Hefter, president and general manager at Disguise — the costumes and accessories division of Jakks Pacific — for an update on how the company is growing its business as it looks ahead toward its 35th anniversary next year.

Asmodee USA and Days of Wonder raised over $184,000 for the Breast Cancer Foundation through their Play Pink initiative. The funds raised came from the sales of a limited edition Train and Station set for Ticket to Ride. Over 40,000 physical copies of this set were sold as well as 67,000 digital Play Pink Bundles. These sets sold out in France, Italy, Belgium, and Poland sold out of Play Pink train sets in 10 days.

Ravensburger has announced its newest addition to the award-winning Disney Villainous line – Disney Villainous: Bigger and Badder. This latest expandalone game will release in March 2022 and will introduce Pixar villains into the franchise for the first time. The new characters include cover star Syndrome (The Incredibles), Lotso (Toy Story 3), and the animated classic Madam Mim (The Sword in the Stone). Just as he does in ...

Mom of Two Founds Business to Provide Ethically and Sustainably Made Wooden Toys and Baby Gifts. The large number of mass-produced plastic toys in the market is a source of frustration for many parents. These items have a short lifespan, are harmful to the environment and are often manufactured in an unethical manner. That’s why Kayleigh Allery, a young mom of two, started Abel’s Workshop, a manufacturer and ...
Mattel introduced a new brand extension for its Barbie Extra line: Barbie Extra Minis. The new dolls are in a 5.5-inch scale that brings Barbie and her friends into the scale made popular by Mattel’s Masters of the Universe action figures. Geared toward kids ages 3+, the Barbie Extra Mini collection launches with an assortment of stylized small dolls that feature articulated knees and elbows, rooted hair, and come with 2 fashions...

Asmodee UK launches largest ever marketing campaign with Absolute Radio. Asmodee UK has partnered with Absolute Radio and its presenters Andy Bush and Richie Firth to launch its biggest ever marketing campaign. The 6 month campaign will run until April 2022, with the aim to raise awareness of Asmodee’s board games, such as Dobble, Catan and Ticket to Ride, and encourage more people to play more games ...

Hasbro Brings ‘The Book of Boba Fett’ to Star Wars The Vintage CollectionFollowing last week’s reveal of 6-inch scale Star Wars The Black Series action figures inspired by The Mandalorian spin-off The Book of Boba Fett, Hasbro pulled back the curtain on some new additions to its famous 3.75-inch scale. Bounty Hunters Boba Fett and Fennec Shand will join Hasbro‘s Star Wars The Vintage Collection lineup...

Zoom into the Winners’ Circle with the LEGO Duplo Race Cars. On your mark … get set … Duplo! The LEGO Duplo Race Cars set is full of imaginative play, developmental benefits, and role-play and building fun for kids ages 2 and up. Kids can build a fun racetrack playset using the easy-to-follow instructions and 44 included pieces. .

Voyage to the far end of Tigome in 'The Guild of Merchant Explorers'. Alderac Entertainment Group revealed The Guild of Merchant Explorers, a new exploration board game, for release on June 10, 2022. In The Guild of Merchant Explorers, players take on the roles of adventurers summoned by The Queen to explore the far reaches of Tigome. .

Rebuild Area 51 in new tile placement gameGreater Than Games announced The Cube: Area 51, a new tile placement game, for release into retail on January 27, 2022. In this game, players assume the roles of department heads at the infamous Area 51 base. Players are looking to reconstruct the interior of the base so that they rebuild an alien craft housed within. .

Asmodee USA will release Reiner Knizia's 'The Siege of Runedar'. Asmodee USA will release The Siege of Runedar, a deck-building game by Ludonova, into retail stores in 2022. The Siege of Runedar is a cooperative game designed by Reiner Knizia where players take on the role of dwarves defending the walls of Runedar. .

Schedule an appointment at the 'Clinic: Deluxe Edition'. Capstone Games will release Clinic: Deluxe Edition, a medical economic strategy game, into retail stores on March 9, 2022. In the Clinic: Deluxe Edition, players are trying to construct the clinic of their dreams to give care to the patients of an expanding city. .

Collect autumn leaves from the Imperial Garden in 'Momiji'. Japanime Games will release Momiji, a set collection game, into retail stores in February 2022. In this game, players are trying to fulfill objectives by collecting leaves from the Imperial Garden. Players start the game with six leaf cards in their hand and three landscape powers which form a unique panorama..

Fantasy Flight Games unveils four new starter decks for 'LOTR: The Card Game'. Fantasy Flight Games unveiled four new starter decks for Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, which will release into retail in Spring 2022. The starter decks each have different themes. The Defenders of Gondor starter has a high-risk, high-reward strategy. .

'Nostalgix TCG' is coming to retailNostalgix announced that Nostalgix TCG will be headed to retail stores in summer of 2022. Nostalgix is a multiverse-style battle game TCG designed for two players. Players can control heroes like Vix of Six and Doctor Corvus as they battle it out with powerful Fighters like the Booster Box Dragon, Avengaline, and Gametron. .

Toys ‘R’ Us Canada lassos Jazwares’ Dino Ranch toys. Fresh off a successful retail launch at Amazon and Target in the U.S., the “pre-westoric” characters of Dino Ranch are trotting onto shelves at Toys “R” Us Canada. Jazwares developed the line which debuted at our sister publication the Toy Insider‘s Sweet Suite at Home event this summer. .

Why premium toys for adults are the key to Lego's astonishingly profitable year.  Their talent for reinvention is amazing.' Expansion in the adult market may well be just the next masterstroke, whatever St Paul's advice. For as CS ...

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Video Games, Gaming Hardware & Game Development News . . .

The best video games of 2021 so farLet’s get this out of the way: Given all the ~everything~, simply releasing a game in 2021 is nothing short of a miracle. Every single one deserves a round of applause. But some, let’s face it, are better than others. As summer wraps, we thought it’d be fun to shine a light on the games that have excited us, moved us, and kept us going throughout a relentless and challenging year. 

The most broken games of 2021Let’s be honest: 2021 saw a number of games get released in a pretty shameful state. None were nearly as busted as the catastrophe that was—still is?—CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077, but this year’s crop of broken games was atrocious all the same. And though some eventually got patches that fixed various issues, there’s no undoing the fact that the games on this list weren’t ready...

Minecraft crosses 1 trillion views on YouTube. Long before the metaverse became the premier destination of tech companies and newlyweds, there was Minecraft. It is a platform that started as a video game about dodging explosions from hissing cactus-shaped creatures and became the blank canvas on which millions of players create their content, upload it, and generate trillions of views — literally. 

Nintendo Switch and Xbox Series take top slots in US console sales as shortages continue. We’ve heard you: many of you are still trying to secure a new video game system, and we’ve done what we can to help people find them. But now, a year after the “next-gen” PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, and Xbox Series S consoles debuted, they’re still in short supply — and the same goes for Nintendo’s Switch and Switch OLED. 

November spending down 10% compared to 2020 | US monthly charts. The NPD Group released its US charts for November 2021, with consumer spending decreasing 10% year-on-year to $6.3 billion. Looking at year-to-date data though, spending is on the rise, with a 9% growth to reach $52.9 billion. Hardware was particularly in decline this November in the US, with sales dropping 38% compared to 2020, to $883 million. 

Australian games industry revenue has doubled to $160.9m since 2016. The Australian games industry has doubled its revenue in the past five years, reaching AU$226.5 million ($160.9 million) in 2021. That's a 23% growth compared to last year, with the Australian industry growing 20% every year for the past three years. 

YouTubers are making Roblox sound even shadier than before. Earlier this year, documentary group People Make Games reported that game creation platform Roblox was deceiving some of its young users. Roblox allows users to monetize their creations, but very few become popular enough to make the time investment worthwhile. All the while, Roblox promises users riches and fame if they just grind it out. 

Google plans to bring Android titles to Windows in 2022. Google will start bringing Android titles to Windows next year. As reported by The Verge, the company will launch a Google Play Games app for Windows laptops, tablets, and PCs in 2022. Google's product director of games on Android and Google Play, Greg Hartrell, explained the app has been built by Google itself, and will facilitate seamless switching between devices. 

California DFEH can't intervene in Activision Blizzard EEOC settlement, says Judge. Federal Judge Dale S. Fischer has declared that she will not allow the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing to intervene in Activision Blizzard's proposed $18 million settlement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. 

Activision Blizzard asks employees not to sign union cards. Activision Blizzard says the best way to address its cultural problems is without a union, according to a Washington Post report. The outlet reports that the publisher's chief administrative officer Brian Bulatao today sent a companywide email asking employees not to rush into signing union authorization cards that are being distributed by employees ...

Toy Safety & Counterfeit Related Articles . . .

What were they thinking?! Most dangerous toys from the past revealed. A list of the most dangerous U.S. toys from history has been released by injury experts at leading accident injury law office GJEL Accident Attorneys. The release follows recent data that has once again revealed non-motorised scooters as the most dangerous modern toy in the States, responsible for 41,700 emergency department-treated injuries last year. Dangerous toys from the last century include …

Plastic panic: 6 toy crazes that erupted in violenceIf you were a parent in the early 1980s, making your child happy came with great physical risk. At the height of the Cabbage Patch Kids phenomenon, eager consumers were sometimes trampled or threatened by store owners with bats when demand exceeded supply. Those cherub-cheeked dolls weren’t the only toys to prompt hysteria and violence. Every so often, a hot toy comes around that seems to strip shoppers of their humanity and turn toy aisles into crime scenes. Here are a few of history's …

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Highlighted Press Releases . . . 

WHO’S ASSEMBLING A ‘WOW’ IMPRESSION WITH TOY EXPERTS?  MAKE-A-FORT FAR EXCEEDS STEM.ORG METRICS, WINS TNPC HOLIDAY 2021 SEAL & MORE! HOT DIGGITY! Did you ever wonder how today’s architects or builders got interested in their craft? It could be they built forts inside the house with whatever was around. Toymaker Make-A-Fort replaces those old-fashioned couch cushions for sturdy cardboard panels where kids instantly play inside what they just built. The joy of customized fort/maze/tunnel building has generated more than a handful of national toy awards plus a huge shout out from STEM.org.

News from Associations, Trade Shows, Awards, Events & Festivals . . . 

Women in Toys, Licensing and Entertainment Announces Finalists for WIT’S 30th Anniversary Wonder Women Awards. “Our slate of Finalists includes incredible women who continued to innovate and make their mark on our industry during the past two years of COVID and massive disruption in our industry,” said Genna Rosenberg and Jennifer Caveza, WIT Wonder Women Co-Chairs. 

The Toy Association Says ‘All Systems Go’ for Toy Fair New York 2022.  Over the past few weeks, many in the toy industry have questioned whether or not Toy Fair New York 2022 will happen. This week, The Toy Association doubled down on its messaging that TFNY is moving ahead under strict safety protocols. As of this week, all major retailers, including Amazon, Target, and Walmart, have committed to sending buyers.

Opening Celebration: Dangerous Games – Treacherous Toys We Loved As Kids.  Dangerous Games will be on display in our Main Gallery from September 25, 2021 through February 13, 2022. Our original exhibition devoted to the wacky, whammo, wonderful world of the Slip ‘N Slide, Lawn Darts, Creepy Crawlers, Clackers, and other tantalizingly toxic toys.

(the above posted after December 17th)

Organiser insists Spielwarenmesse 2022 will take place (Friday the 17th). Following days of rumour and speculation, Toy World has seen an email from an anonymous exhibitor that categorically states the show will be going ahead as planned in early February.

The email says: “Dear XXXXX,  Spielwarenmesse will take place in Nuremberg as planned from 2 to 6 February 2022!

BTHA issues statement on Toy Fair  The organiser of the London trade fair has reiterated that it is staying abreast of the latest guidelines, and aims to issue a follow-up statement in early January regarding potential restrictions. In a statement issued on Friday 17th January, the British Toy and Hobby Association said: “We are all looking forward to Toy Fair and are working hard to deliver a great Toy Fair 2022 at Olympia London.

Winners will be announced at Toy Fair by the BTHA and the Toy Retailers Association, along with the Toy and Supplier Award winners for 2021. The British Toy & Hobby Association (BTHA) has announced the finalists for the Toy Retailer of the Year Awards 2021. In another challenging year, the judges were impressed with the high standard of entries received and the achievements made by all of the finalists, and said ...

JPMA Announces This Year's Most Innovative Baby Products during the Virtual 2021 Innovation Awards. JPMA proudly announced the 2021 Innovation Awards winners during their inaugural Cares Benefit for Babies fundraising event and celebration. “The 2021 Innovation Awards celebrates brand ingenuity, and products that best serve the ever-evolving needs of babies and parents,” said JPMA Exec. Director Kelly Mariotti.

PLMA Cancels January Trade Show in Chicago Due to COVID Travel Restrictions. The Private Label Manufacturers Association has canceled its January 30- February 1, 2022, Private Label Trade Show in Chicago due to the debilitating effects of COVID-19 on business travel. Davies noted that PLMA has plans for three major trade shows for retailers and store brand manufacturers during 2022: PLMA Global, a new online event set...

Hybrid KTDC Lifestyle Sourcing Show hailed a success.  The physical show, which took place 1st-3rd Dec., and its online counterpart, which took place 6th-10th Dec., welcomed around 9,500 buyers who either visited in person or browsed an array of products online. In addition, more than 3,100 business meetings were arranged during the show. More than 580 exhibitors from 9 countries and regions displayed latest toys...

Preshow Noël Toys & Games event reports record edition.  70 international buyers from twelve countries were in attendance at Preshow Noël, from 22nd to 26th November, in Deauville, France. The 17th edition of the show enabled over 1,000 participants, 400 buyers, 110 exhibitors, manufacturers and brands from the toys and games sector, to prepare for the 2022 season.

BAFTA names new head of games. UKIE's Luke Hebblethwaite takes new role as organization ramps up games efforts. The British Academy of Film and Television Arts, better known as BAFTA, has named its new head of games. The position has gone to Luke Hebblethwaite, who joins from trade body UKIE where he spent more than five years in the role of insight and innovation manager. 

LEGO clicks in at runner-up in annual Superbrands listLEGO has proved it’s back among the UK’s favourite brands by coming runner-up in the annual list of UK Consumer Superbrands. Beaten only by luxury watchmaker Rolex, it rose from fifth place in 2020 after claiming the Superbrands title for two years running in 2018 and 2019. 

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RIP - Rest in Play - Remembering Those that have Passed . . . If you know of a colleague's passing, please send us information so we may share with our colleagues. Archives can be found HERE.

 

Barry Burlison - Toy Inventor - more info to come. 

 

Henry Orenstein, Hole Card Cam Inventor & Transformers Catalyst, passes Away at 98.  The man responsible for changing the way we watch poker on TV, Henry Orenstein, passed away at age 98. Details of his passing weren't immediately available. Orenstein, a Holocaust survivor from Poland, is credited with inventing the hole card cam, arguably the top game-changer in poker.

The hole card camera, which exposes each player's cards to a television audience, was invented and patented by Orenstein in 1995. He didn't introduce the revolutionary product to the public until 1999 when the U.K.'s Channel 4 Late Night Poker show was first to use the hole cam.

Poker has never been the same and has grown significantly in popularity since that creative invention. Nowadays, virtually every poker event on TV or livestream utilizes the hole cam. Without it, there likely never would have been a poker boom in the early 2000s, and few recreational fans would be able to pick Chris Moneymaker out of a lineup.  Orenstein lived a full life and was one of the most respected and treasured members of the poker community. He was born October 13, 1923 in Poland. He survived a Nazi concentration camp, dealt with his parents being murdered by Nazis in Germany, and emigrated to the U.S. where he became a successful businessman and poker player.

When Orenstein arrived in the U.S. in 1942, he lived with his uncle in New York. He'd go on to start a toy company that was highly profitable and innovative. The future Poker Hall of Famer left such a mark on the toy industry that he was given credit for being the catalyst behind the creation of Transformers, one of the hottest selling children's toys in history. Without his vision to see potential in an unknown toy in the 1980s, Transformers may have never become so popular. As a poker player, he could hold his own on the felt. In 1995, he reached the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event final table and took eighth place for $51,900. The following year, he won his first and only bracelet, a $130,000 score in $5,000 Limit Seven Card Stud. In 2014, he reached the $10,000 Seven Card Stud final table and was eliminated in eighth place for $31,419.

 

Masayuki Uemura, the lead architect on the NES and Super NES consoles, died on 6th December at the age of 78. Uemura was an instrumental figure in the formation of Nintendo as the video game company we know and love today — his hardware design credits date back to the 1970s, and he also has a fair list of software producer credits to his name. It's no exaggeration to say that millions of players across the world have his engineering skill and expertise to thank for the systems we played in our youth and the great memories we formed with them.

Born in 1943, Uemura grew up in post-war Japan and developed an interest in playing with and constructing his own toys from a young age, partly due to the scarcity of new products available in the years following the end of World War II. He studied at the Chiba Institute of Technology and upon graduating he began his career at Sharp Corporation before eventually joining Nintendo in 1972, thanks to his relationship with Gunpei Yokoi. The two met and worked together while Yokoi was investigating Sharp's technology for use in light gun games in the early 1970s and Uemura evidently impressed Nintendo's chief designer at the time.

Primarily a toy manufacturer in those days, Nintendo's design process was naturally different to Sharp's, as Uemura told Kotaku via Matt Alt:

One of the things that surprised me when I moved from Sharp to Nintendo was that, while they didn’t have a development division, they had this kind of development warehouse full of toys, almost all of them American.

His first projects at Nintendo involved the creation of more complex electronic toys which existing staff lacked the technical know-how to design — the company had previously focused on producing hanafuda playing cards and simple toys such as Yokoi's famous Ultra Hand. As part of the newly formed R&D department, Uemura produced several light gun products such as the Laser Clay Shooting System and the original Duck Hunt (the light gun game that would eventually be reimagined for NES) before ultimately being made head of Nintendo R&D2. Yokoi's R&D1 would focus on arcade development (and later the Game & Watch handhelds) and Uemura's division would develop home consoles, beginning with the Color TV Game series. t was with these consoles that Uemura expanded his knowledge and began forming more ambitious hardware plans for a cartridge-based system. READ MORE . . . 

Games industry pioneer Ian Hetherington diesThe founder of Imagine Software, Psygnosis and Evolution Studios, Ian Hetherington, has died after a short illness.Hetherington was part of the team that launched PlayStation: he and the Psygnosis team directly influenced the technology that went into that first console.e. As the head of Psygnosis, he worked on major titles including Lemmings and Wipeout.  Hetherington co-founded the short-lived Imagine Software in 1982, before forming Psygnosis in 1984 alongside David Lawson and Jonathan Ellis. He stayed at the company until 1998, when he left to form Evolution Studios, another outfit based in the Liverpool area that went on to create a series of hit racing games, including WRC and MotorStorm. He left in 2007 and has since held senior roles at Realtime Worlds, Midoki and Immotion Group. He most recently appeared in a documentary marking 30 years of Lemmings. The news follows the death of fellow Psygnosis and Imagine Software founder David Lawson earlier this year. Tributes to Ian are already coming in from across the industry on social media and via email. Firesprite's Studio Art Director Lee Carus said in an email: "I really don't know where to start. He's had an impact on the entire direction of my life. If he hadn't have given that floppy haired kid from a rough estate, who dabbled in Amiga art, a chance who knows what could have happened? I wouldn't have met my partner who came up to Psygnosis on a two-week cover placement which ended up being five years. 20+ years of happy marriage later we'd later go on to have two wonderful boys who are the absolute centre of our lives. It terrifies me to think of what could have happened if Ian and I's paths hadn't crossed and I will be eternally grateful for that.  But I know this isn't a one off -- he jump started so many careers and lives. It's remarkable just how much of the UK games industry you can ultimately trace back to Ian. Some of the most senior people in the industry now, owe some part of their success to working with and learning from Ian. "So sad to hear Ian Hetherington has passed away," wrote Lucid Games' Martin Linklater. "A proper games industry legend and a lovely bloke. I had the pleasure of working with Ian on a number of occasions... at Psygnosis and then Curly Monsters. RIP Ian. Deepest condolences to his loved ones"

Polish voice actor Miłogost Reczek has died at age 60. The Polish voice actor was a favorite of CD Projekt Red and was well-known for other dubbing roles in film, TV, and video games. Polish voice actor Miłogost Reczek--known in the video game industry for his roles in Polish dubs of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Cyberpunk 2077--has died at age 60. He had apparently been in treatment for cancer since 2018.  News of his passing comes from a Facebook post from Polish audiobook company Storytel. Reczek's gravitas and talent had previously landed him the dubbing roles for characters like Obi-Wan Kenobi from the Star Wars films (originally played by Ewan MacGregor), and Talos, a side character in more recent Marvel movies (originally portrayed by Ben Mendelsohn).  A deeper search of Reczek's filmography also shows he lent his voice to the Polish dub of children's show Thomas the Tank Engine.  Polish news outlets and commentators praised Reczek's talent and contributions to the world of Polish voice acting and dubbing. "Apart from his characteristic voice, which created many unforgettable roles, Miłek also had an irreplaceable sense of humor," Storytel wrote on its Facebook page.

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People and companies are registering and new features are being added by the minute... what are you waiting for? We've got the most powerful platform in our industry! Join here:  www.peopleofplay.com 
 

Weekly Top Stories from Toy and Game Trade Magazines Worldwide - Added Friday Morning Chicago Time, so You May Need to Check Back for Complete Lists . . . 

 

Toy Trade Monthly Issues​​

Adventure Media & Events (US)

aNb Media (US)

ToyWorld (UK)

  1. If I knew I would tell you …it’s the Friday Blog!

  2. Congratulations to the 2021 Toy Retailer of the Year finalists

  3. Toys R Us UK makes first senior hire with Mike Coogan

  4. Smyths Toys Irish business reports financial results

  5. Embracer Group eyes Asmodee acquisition to create Europe’s biggest gaming conglomerate

  6. Character reveals strong set of preliminary full year financial results

  7. H. Grossman rebrands as One For Fun for 2022

  8. Jazwares expands in Europe with new Paris office

  9. TV toy advertisers moving away from stereotypes

  10. Just Play UK teams up with Havas Entertainment and Norton PR to support growth plans

ICv2: The Business of Geek Culture's (US)

WotC Adds Card Parallels to 'Magic: The Gathering'
Asmodee Being Sold to Video Game Group
'Nostalgix TCG' is Coming to Retail
Wizards of the Coast Drops 'Magic: The Gathering' Moonlit Lands
Three More Archdevils Descend Upon 'D&D Icons of the Realms'
Rolling for Initiative -- Are the 90s Back?
GameStop Quarterly Loss Balloons
Randomize Dice and Then Fold Them Up in the 'Alcove Dice Tower'
Troll and Toad and Webbed Sphere Unveil NFTNT
Asmodee USA and Days of Wonder Raise Over $184,000

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

TOYS Magazine (Germany) - posted once a month

The Bugg Report (Australia)

Casual Game Revolution

Video of the Week! 

WTFF?

How a Trip to Taiwan inspired the Mega Mouth Game | Where's the Fun from?

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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 Phil: philip.bloom100@verizon.net   

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

Managing Editor: Graeme Thomson

Assistant Editor: Patrick Fisher

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