the Bloom Report

Worldwide Toy Industry's #1 News Summary

Below is Dec 11 - 18, 2020. Click Here for Last Week

Articles posted daily with most recent at top of each section.   The previous week drops off each 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 briefing of the week's news...

Happy Friday!

​We're sharing our POP Week International Innovation panels, highlighting one each week in our Video of the Week section (end of this page). This week: Post U.S. Election - What's Next? 

Our moderator is industry visionary Alan Hassenfeld (Chairman Executive Committee, Hasbro) with panelists Gerrick Johnson (Director, BMO Capital Markets) and Stephanie Wissink (Managing Director, Consumer Research, Jefferies). They cover the hot and in-flux issues we are all facing.

Thank you for reading the Bloom Report!

Mary

tBR Company of the Week - People of Play

Do you want to find people/companies/products and do you want to them to find you?

Of course you do! For $50/year, they can! Or, for $250/year, they can find you and you can find them, have access to premium content, enjoy the POP Pub, find information and make connections to further your business! 

Many times a day someone reaches out to me asking me if I know some person or some company:

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  • that invented

  • that supplied

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  • Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera!

 

The POP platform/database is your access to vital and immediate connections! There are already over 400 profiles from our recent events and we've only just begun. Over the next month, we will be reaching out to my nearly 50,000 strong database and my 30,000 linkedin connections to join this platform which gives you the best of linkedin+IMDb+Match.com for the toy and game industry. 

 

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 
 

tBR Person of the Week - Todd Coopee is Editor-in-Chief of Toy Tales: the Season to Be Toyetic: Practical Ways to Support Independent Toy Stores this Season

“Toyetic” is one of my favourite terms. It was coined by Bernard Loomis, a toy industry veteran of Mattel, Kenner, and Hasbro. It inspired the name for Being Toyetic, an online directory we created to make it easy to find neighbourhood toy stores everywhere.

 

Independent toy stores offer unique, hard-to-find, lovingly curated treasures and each one creates a special in-store experience. These small businesses are important to local economies, too. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down brick-and-mortar businesses of all kinds, independent toy stores were struggling. Heck, it was tough for the Toys “R” Us behemoth to compete with even bigger online retailers (we’re looking at you, Amazon).

 

As North American economies begin to recover from the various challenges of the pandemic, it is more important than ever to support local small businesses, including independent toy stores. Even if you are not ready to go instore yet, many independents offer online, delivery, and curbside-pickup options.

So, with what is usually the biggest retail season upon us, I wanted to devote this space to encouraging Bloom Report readers to be toyetic!

Financial & Legal News . . . 

TikTok and Walmart debut new livestream shopping capability. The social media platform TikTok has pioneered a new method of online shopping, having partnered with the US retail giant Walmart to launch a new shoppable livestream capability for its users to engage with. The new in-app shopping tool was piloted last week when Walmart hosted a one-hour livestream session that enabled customers to shop for...

Christmas container chaos is global as Greek toy retailer Jumbo sees major shipment delays. The Greek toy and gift retailer, Jumbo, has revealed that some 6,000 containers of the some of the best-selling toys this year, are stuck on cargo ships and shipping containers around the world, in an echo of the current chaos being experienced at UK ports. The issue has arisen as warehouses in Greece become overwhelmed ...

Digital gaming just had its best revenue month ever in NovemberDigital games spending set a new monthly record in November, rising 15% year-over-year to $11.5 billion globally. According to SuperData's monthly digital spending report, this was driven by a 9% rise in mobile spending, but also a 22% increase in PC spending to reach a new record high, largely driven by the launch of World of Warcraft's Shadowlands...

US COVID-19 relief bill would punish streaming of copyrighted contentA COVID-19 relief bill under consideration by US legislators also includes a number of measures related to copyright law that could negatively impact game streamers. This raises particular questions for YouTube, Twitch, and Facebook Gaming, considering the games influencers often showcase involve a number of copyrights, from the games...

TikTok owner reportedly in talks to buy stake in Chinese mobile games publisher. China-based ByteDance, best known as the owner of social media platform TikTok, is planning to purchase a share of a local mobile games publisher. That's according to Reuters and its four anonymous sources, who say the company is in talks with CMGE Technology Group Ltd to arrange a potential deal. ByteDance is said to be...

Parents feeling guilty about Covid ignites boom in toy salesCelebrating the holidays might be pretty ho-hum, but one area that’s booming is toys. After a terrible year of remote school, canceled birthday parties and little vacationing, parents and grandparents ridden with so-called “Covid guilt” are spending a lot more on puzzles, crafts and games. And this is setting up the U.S. industry for its best Christmas in years...

Welsh supermarkets block toy aisles as Government bans sale of non-essential itemsToys have been caught up in a sweep of ‘non-essential- items blocked off from sale across some of Wales’ supermarket retailers after the country’s government introduced level four restrictions over the weekend. With just days before a Christmas like non other, the Welsh Government announced on December 19 that ...

Investors reportedly considering class action lawsuit against CD Projekt Red. CD Projekt Red's own investors are reportedly exploring the possibility of suing the developer for misrepresenting Cyberpunk 2077. The New York Times cites a post on Polish financial website Bankier, in which a Warsaw-based attorney and CD Projekt investor announced he and his team are analysing whether there are grounds for a class...

Tier drop explodes. New Tier 4 restrictions have been introduced in London, the South East and east of England, forcing the sudden closure of non-essential retail once again.The new restrictions came into force at midnight on Saturday, with people encouraged to stay at home, while non-essential shops and businesses have been ordered to close. Click and collect services will still be able to operate in Tier 4. 

MAG Interactive acquires mobile studio Apprope for $6 million. Swedish game company MAG Interactive has purchased mobile studio Apprope for an initial SEK 50 million ($6 million). Founded in 2012 and also based in Sweden, Apprope is best known for creating casual word and trivia titles like Word Mansion and Word Bubbles, the latter of which has amassed 10 million downloads and generated sales of roughly...

Facebook Wades Into ‘Fortnite’ Maker’s Dispute With AppleFacebook Inc. said it would assist the company behind the popular videogame “Fortnite” in its high-profile legal battle with Apple Inc., as the social-media giant ramps up its own counterattack against what it says are the iPhone maker’s self-serving measures cloaked in the interest of privacy. Facebook has been feuding with Apple for months on issues ranging...

(the above posted after December 17th)

Toys and games help slow fall in UK inflation  Figures show that the UK inflation rate fell to 0.3% in November from 0.7% in October. The rising price of toys and games has helped slow a drop in inflation for the UK, which has fallen dramatically since October due to the timing of the most recent nationwide lockdowns. 

With Americans stuck at home, trade with China roars back. American imports from China are surging as the year draws to a close, fueled by stay-at-home shoppers who are snapping up Chinese-made furniture and appliances, along with Barbie Dream Houses and bicycles for the holidays. despite Mr. Trump’s restrictions on Chinese goods, including tariffs on more than $360 billion worth of its imports, there is little sign...

Roblox purchases digital avatar firm Loom.aiUser-generated gaming platform Roblox announced the acquisition of Loom.ai for an undisclosed sum. Loom.ai is a San Francisco-based startup founded by former LucasFilm and DreamWorks staff.

Keywords acquires High Voltage Software for $50m. Game services provider Keywords Studios has added yet another company to its roster of studios, with the acquisition of High Voltage Software for a total consideration of up to $50 million.

UK high streets draw crowds, while Germany asks public to forgo pre-lockdown splurge. As Germany braces itself for another strict lockdown that is set to last until 10th January, images have emerged over the weekend showing huge crowds of British shoppers stocking up for Christmas. Reports from Germany and Britain highlight the contrast between how different countries are approaching the festive season.

EA to acquire Dirt developer Codemasters, scuppering Take-Two deal. EA has agreed to purchase Dirt developer Codemasters in a deal that values the UK studio at roughly $1.2 billion. The purchase is notable for a number of reasons, not least because it comes just weeks after Take-Two announced it would acquire Codemasters for approximately $994 million. EA, however, has scuppered those plans at the last minute...

Authentic Brands reportedly in talks for Debenhams and Arcadia Group. The US retail firm Authentic Brands, which counts Barneys, Juicy Couture, Forever 21 and Brooks Brothers among its portfolio of stores and brands, is reportedly considering a double takeover bid for both Debenhams and Arcadia Group. The department store chain Debenhams announced earlier this month that it had failed to find a buyer...

Leyou shareholders approve Tencent takeover. Chinese technology firm will go private from December 23. Leyou Technologies Holdings is finally on course to be sold, as shareholders approved an acquisition by Chinese giant Tencent. The deal was voted for during an extraordinary general meeting earlier this month, with the meeting notes revealing that 97.7% of shareholders who took part were in favor of a takeover.

Roblox delays IPO to 2021. User-generated games platform Roblox has delayed its IPO to 2021. According to Reuters, the company is hoping to get a higher IPO pricing, following in the footsteps of Airbnb and Doordash. They both started trading last week -- on the Nasdaq and New York stock exchanges respectively -- and saw their value soar. Roblox was expected to join the New York Stock Exchange at the end of the year...

Hong Kong IPO Makes This 33-Year-Old Chinese Toy Tycoon A Billionaire Several Times OverChinese toy billionaire Wang Ning saw his wealth surge almost three fold this year, thanks to strong investor demand for the initial public offering of his Pop Mart International Group. Wang, who owns just under 50% of the company following the sale, now has a net worth of $3.2 billion.

The BTHA calls for Government intervention to ease UK ports and ‘save the festive season’The British Toy and Hobby Association and the British Retail Consortium are calling on the Government to intervene at British ports where congestion caused by Covid and a backlog of PPE has left shipments of toys and gifts unlikely to be delivered in time for Christmas. The BTHA is among a number of industry bodies calling for an...

Busiest U.S. seaport, buried in imports, plucks out toys to load Santa’s sleigh. Workers at the busiest U.S. seaport are plucking containers of toys off ships and out of massive stacks of cargo swamping docks at the Southern California trade gateway to get holiday gifts under trees in time for Christmas. “We’ve never had this much cargo,” Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, said on Tuesday, when ...

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Trends, Market Research Reports . . . 

GamesIndustry.biz presents… The Year in Numbers 2020 . . . Best of 2020: The trends and events that defined the year for game devs.

(the above posted after December 18th)

Covid Guilt Has Toy Industry Primed for Best Christmas in Years . . . Toy Industry 2021 — The Outlook for the Global Toy Business . . . November Retail Sales Signal Holiday Season Growth . . . Argos poll reveals the top gifts that the nation missed out on as children . . . Videogames sales rise record 35% in November . . . The unexpected toy trends of 2020 . . . Ever a doll moment: Dolls’ pram searches are up 23 per cent and the sector is going from strength to strength . . . The biggest trends for children's toys in Spain this Christmas . . . Zacks Industry Outlook Highlights: Mattel, Glu Mobile, JAKKS Pacific and Hasbro . . . WildBrain Spark: How kids’ viewing habits changed in 2020 (and how to prepare for 2021)

Financial & Brokerage News . . . 

Is Hasbro (HAS) A Good Stock To Buy Now?

(the above posted after December 17th)

Want to Buy Mattel (MAT) Stock? Here's What You Need to Know . . . Nintendo and Sony share prices rise to record highs . . . Where Will Hasbro Be in 5 Years? . . . Pandemic Pushing Toy Sales: 3 Stocks to Watch . . . Mattel – Consensus Indicates Potential .7% Upside . . . We're Watching These Trends At Hasbro company's holiday sales

Financial Reporting . . . 

UK-based marketplace OnBuy eyes Unicorn status as it sees a 605 per cent year to date growth. The online marketplace, OnBuy.com is edging ever closer to achieving unicorn status as the UK’s ‘answer to eBay and Amazon’ reveals a 605 per cent year to date growth to round off “a list of incredible 2020 successes” for the business. OnBuy has made no secret of its mission to revolutionise the eCommerce sector by ...

Clementoni reports significant growth in 2020 Putting success down to the dramatic rise in sales of puzzles and innovation across the Baby Clementoni range, the company expects to see in excess of 25% growth by year end. The company has built a solid presence across three main categories – infant, science/construction and adult puzzles – translating into strong performance for puzzles in particular. 

(the above posted after December 17th)

Five mobile games topped $1b in revenue this year - Sensor Tower. A year dominated by a global pandemic has seen five mobile games break $1 billion in revenues so far, according to Sensor Tower. The mobile data firm said Tencent scored the two biggest hits of the year with PUBG Mobile and Honor of Kings, which have brought in $2.6 billion and $2.5 billion so far this year, respectively.

Future Financial Reporting . . . 

Equities analysts predict that Mattel will announce earnings of $0.22 per share for current quarter, 5 analysts have issued estimates for Mattel's earnings. The highest EPS estimate is $0.30 and the lowest is $0.18. Mattel posted earnings of $0.11 per share in the same quarter last yr, which would indicate a positive year-over-year growth rate of 100%. The firm is expected to report its next quarterly earnings results Feb. 11.

Amazon and Apple eye historic $100 billion in holiday quarter. The holiday season could be historic for two of the stock market’s biggest names, with sales that are expected to surpass a milestone that has rarely been reached in Wall Street history. Amazon.com Inc. and Apple Inc. are each expected to report revenue above $100 billion in the fourth quarter of 2020 …

Toyjobs has been the dominant recruiting

Stories & Comments . . . 

Yes, Santa's house now has a 3D tour on Zillow The “toy-lover’s paradise nestled on 25 idyllic acres” includes Santa’s three-bedroom, two-bathroom house, as well as multiple tiny homes for all his elf workers. In addition, the Jolly Old Elf’s complex is made complete with a “state-of-the-art toy-making facility,” a garage that can hold a sleigh and stable space for eight reindeer — plus the occasional “red-nosed company”...

Tiny Tim putting smiles on children's faces with the only toy they own   Alton C. Thacker is the President of the Tiny Tim Foundation. The Tiny Tim Toy Factory just happens to be the largest car manufacturer in the state of Utah. He held one of his toy cars in the palm of his hand and said; “That was our first Jeep. It took 11 cuts on the band saw. We need to do 1 cut. So, this is the latestJeep. The Jeep Wagoneer.”

It’s time to turn it all off.  Next year, as life begins to return to normal, Dubit's David Kleeman makes the case that we should tell kids to please go away... at least for a little bit. Dubit has already speculated that there will be a drop in kids’ screen media time when they are liberated from staying home and physically distancing. But what if children’s media providers didn’t simply wait nervously for kids to play themselves out and...

Pokémon Go creators say Covid is ‘existential to our game’Pokémon Go was ready to kick off a new major event in March. Battle League — which asks players to walk in order to gain entry — was similar in spirit to many of Niantic’s initiatives within its game, one that encourages players to leave home and socialize. But outside, COVID-19 was beginning to take hold. 

TikTok is quickly becoming a marketing destination for toy companies with the help of influencers and original content. Several toy companies, like Zuru Toys and MGA Entertainment, use a mix of influencer marketing campaigns and original content to boost TikTok engagement ...

(the above posted after December 18th)

John Baulch, ToyWorld UK, Don’t look back in anger…it’s the Friday Blog!  We’ve almost reached the end of the most unusual and challenging year I imagine any of us have ever experienced, either personally or professionally. Although this will be my final Blog of 2020, we still have a few days’ hard graft ahead of us here at Toy World Towers: once we have finally managed to send the January issue to press, I suspect we will all be...

Ark. Girl, 7, Plays with New Female Army Figurines Inspired by Her Viral Letter to Toymaker. Last year, Vivian Lord's letter to various toy companies asking them to design a female version of the iconic Green Army Men figurines went viral. "It was a heartfelt letter,” Jeff Imel, president of BMC Toys, told NPR at the time. “And it reminded me of being a kid and always wanting that toy that you couldn’t get in the...

Less COVID-19, More Toys: A Toy Store Near You Season Two Arrives on Christmas. The Nacelle Co. — makers of Netflix’s The Toys That Made Us and The Movies That Made Us — will launch the second season of A Toy Store Near You on Christmas day. The docuseries was initially intended to showcase the plight of store owners as they struggled to adapt to business during the pandemic. Now, the series has been retooled...

A peek into the world of India's toy start-ups Even before the Prime Minister urged Indian entrepreneurs to promote India’s cultural heritage through home-grown toys in his monthly radio address in August this year, a start-up culture had slowly begun taking shape in the segment over the last five years.

The Strong Museum now includes decades of files from the LGBTQ Game Archive. The Strong has added another treasure trove of game development artifacts to its museum, this time through a partnership with the LGBTQ Game Archive. In doing so, The Strong has acquired primary sources as well as articles, websites, blogs, web forums, videos, and images covering decades worth of history on LGBTQ themes in...

How a real-life monopoly made Monopoly the world's biggest board game.  In 2013, Euromonitor pegged Monopoly’s annual revenues at ~$400m. By one estimate, that accounts for ~30% of all mass-market board game sales in the world — equivalent to Google’s share of the US ad market. The pandemic has created another boom: Gaming sales for Hasbro reached a record high in Q3 of 2020.

A new addition to the UNO Artiste series is the first to feature original artwork by a living artist. The art in the deck, featured from the contemporary artist Nina Chanel Abneyin, was designed specifically for the card game and combines representation with abstraction.

UNO Artiste Series pays homage to influential artists by incorporating their work directly into a deck of cards. This new deck was also created...

'The View' shares 2020's hottest toys and must-haves for the holidays. With everything kids have gone through in 2020, they deserve an amazing holiday celebration. Whoopi Goldberg and Elizabeth Werner share the hottest holiday toys this year on "The View." Star Wars The Child Animatronic - He may look like "Baby Yoda," but this lovable creature is called The Child -- and now you can become his protector with this...

Remembering the Toy Industry's Past . . . 

Fisher-Price: 90 years of building classic toys. All told, more than 27 million have been sold, and counting. They are the touchstones of our youth: The Rock-a-Stack, the Xylophone, and those Little People.  No matter how old we are, everyone remembers their favorite childhood toys – like a toy that everybody knows, the Corn Popper. Then there’s the lesser-known Bunny Scoot. It was introduced in 1931, part of the first...

LEGO Minifigure A Visual History New Edition. LEGO minifigures first came on the scene in 1978. The one-and-a-half-inch-tall figures were created to expand the world of LEGO and children’s imaginations. Prior to minifigures, characters had to be created using only LEGO bricks, which left a little to be desired when it came to creating personalities that matched the child’s own environment. 

Showboat from Remco (1962). In 1962, Remco released Showboat, a replica river steamship and theater. Budding child entertainers could to stage their own two-act plays in the whip, which stood a whopping 25-inches long by 14-inches tall. While it was not designed for use in water, a set of rollers allowed it to move across the floor as if navigating down a waterway. 

Christmas themed video games from the '80s. All throughout the '80s, video games were added to children's lists for Santa. Early gaming companies like Atari pushed their latest video games in television advertising to capture kid's attention. The E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial game is infamous for rushing production to have available for the 1982 Christmas shopping season which is why most rank it as one of the worst games. 

(the above was posted after December 18th)

Shaker Maker from Ideal (1971). Released in 1971, Ideal’s Shaker Maker allowed children to create their own toy figures using a special powder called “Magic Mix.” The magic behind the mix was a form of plaster of Paris that was non-toxic, strong, and reasonably fast-drying.

Australia's best-selling toys over the past 50 years: What kids wanted for Christmas since the 1970sTake a trip down memory lane as we chronicle the most sought-after toys for Aussie kids over Christmas from 1980 to now. These are the toys that defined the childhoods of entire generations. From Pokemon Cards to Pogo sticks and every water-shooting, beeping, spinning, battery-munching monster in between, here are...

Pop Pop Pop Attack from Hasbro (1981). A vintage dealer advertisement from 1981 for the Pop Pop Pop Attack game from Hasbro. Two players equipped with handheld launchers attempt to be the first to pop all of their discs over the wall that divides the playing field. Designed for ages 6 and up, Pop Pop Pop Attack was promoted for its “tension filled, frantic play.”

Rare 'Harry Potter' book sold for $84500 after sitting on woman's shelf for 17 years  Like an invaluable Horcrux ditched in a Hogwarts Castle bathroom, a recently uncovered children's book's true value is only coming to light, years later. A rare first issue hardback copy of "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" -- the first in the famous series by J.K. Rowling -- sold for around $84,500, after being discovered by an English...

PlaytimeFun_540x250_BloomReport_Ad_3_SEL

Worldwide Licensing News . . . 

Buffalo Games expands licensed puzzle lineup with new Marvel, Star Wars designs. Buffalo Games is no stranger to licensed jigsaw puzzles, offering an extensive lineup of designs that includes images from Star Wars, Game of Thrones, Pokémon, and some retro favorites. But this spring, the company is adding a more heroic license to its puzzle offerings: Marvel. 

Melissa & Doug will continue to evaluate licensing as ‘an area of growth for the firm’. The global toy maker, Melissa & Doug has expressed its plans to continue to evaluate licensing “as an area to grow its reach”, as it looks for the right platforms through which to reach more parents and children. The traditional toy specialist hit a major milestone last month when it revealed the details of its ‘biggest push into the licensing...

Pre-school IP CoComelon ramps up games, toys, and arts & crafts activity with Crayola, RMS International, and moreThe hit pre-school digital series CoComelon is increasing its activity across the toys, games, and art & crafts sectors, having landed a raft of new licensing partnerships, including an agreement for colouring and activity books from Crayola. RMS International will produce CoComelon wooden puzzles...

Sideshow, Critical Role team for licensed collectiblesThrough a brand-new partnership with the team behind Critical Role, the most popular story-driven and worldbuilding digital media brand in the world, Sideshow is poised to launch a new collection of fine art and collectible figures based on the show’s popular and long-running campaigns set in the fantastical world of Exandria. 

(the above posted after December 18th)

JAKKS Pacific, Inc. announced the extension of its global toy rights with Nintendo of America, Inc. JAKKS will continue to design, manufacture, market, and sell various Nintendo and Super Mario branded toy product lines worldwide. In 2020 alone, an array of new JAKKS innovative Super Mario products have been released to an excited global audience, most recently with the launch of Super Mario It’s-A Me Mario! 

LEGO expands on its LEGO Art series with Disney’s Mickey and Minnie Mouse 2D wall art setsThe Danish construction toy maker is expanding its LEGO Art series once more with the addition of the new LEGO Art Disney’s Mickey Mouse set, allowing older builders to celebrate the iconic Walt Disney character – alongside Minnie Mouse – in 2D mosaic wall art form.

Wow! Stuff ramps up pre-school toys portfolio with Moonbug’s CoComelon. The British toy innovation company, Wow! Stuff is continuing its move into the pre-school category having signed a multi-territory licensing agreement with Moonbug Entertainment for its popular 3D animated series, CoComelon. Launching in 2021, Wow! Stuff will unveil a new range of products based on the kids’ show.

Asmodee, Blok Party to bring ‘Catan’ to TapTop Digital. Asmodee Entertainment has announced a new partnership with Blok Party to bring “Catan” to their TapTop digital tabletop device in 2021. Since its creation in 1995 by Klaus Teuber, “Catan” and its many expansions have sold more than 32 million games around the world. The game is published in more than 40 languages and is sold in more than 70 territories.

High Roller Games Releases Bob Marley Game. Developed in collaboration with the Marley family, High Roller Games has announced the release of the first edition of “Bob Marley: The Game of Peace, Love and Unity.” HRG celebrates his 75th anniversary by producing an environmentally friendly board game that brings people together. Players can experience the life of Bob Marley by forming a band and ...

Sophie La girafe, RaZbaby link for infant line. Sophie la girafe has announced a new partnership with RaZbaby in the United States. The duo have launched a unique plush toy that holds and keeps the pacifier in place to bring calm, serenity and softness to baby day and night. RaZ-buddy Sophie la girafe is a plush toy that is soft and functional to go with a pacifier or teether. The plush is now available.

Green Board Games adds BrainBox Harry Potter to 2021 portfolioBrainBox, the successful range of 10-minute educational games, is set to expand into the Wizarding World with the upcoming release of BrainBox Harry Potter in May 2021. The BrainBox series contains addictive memory challenges in which players have 10 seconds to study a card before answering questions on what they saw.

New LEGO Minecraft sets have appeared on LEGO.com. Two new LEGO Minecraft sets have appeared on LEGO.com, bringing the Minecraft pig to life at its largest scale yet. 21170 The Pig House and 21164 The Coral Reef have been added to LEGO.com, giving LEGO Minecraft fans a peek at the newest entries to the theme. One set brings an entirely new location and the other is a huge Minecraft pig, just another day in LEGO Minecraft.

Cepia’s Cats vs. Pickles get supersized with Huggers, Jumbo Plushies. The world of Cats Vs. Pickles is expanding. Launched at Toy Fair New York this past February, the line of collectible plush inspired by viral memes became an instant hit with kids and collectors this year. Now, the line includes two new scales for kids to love: Jumbos and Huggers. Jumbos are 10-inch plush characters with weighted bottoms. 

Posh Paws lines up Sing 2, Minions 2, Jurassic World and Classic Monsters plush with Universal. Posh Paws International has extended its long-standing partnership with Universal Brand Development to continue producing its licensed plush products as the studio rolls out new film and TV content across its blockbuster animated franchises. Leading the charge will be the launch of a range of soft toys based on the December...

PMI signs global roll-out agreement with PikyKwiky for hit card game series Matchify. PMI is continuing its expansion into the games category, having signed a new global agreement for Matchify and its range of card-based family games developed by the UK games publisher PikyKwiky. In a new deal brokered by Big Picture Licensing, PMI has secured the global rights to develop new games currently in the PikyKwiky pipeline under the Matchify brand.

Waka-Waka: PAC-MAN’s Path to Licensing Success Over the Last Four Decades. PAC-MAN celebrates 40 years in 2020. To honor the iconic video game character, BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc. has announced a slate of new partnerships that highlight the unique value of the pizza-shaped sprite. One of the reason’s the character has been able to find new success away from the joystick is because it was designed to reach...

Far Out Toys, Pocket.Watch partner for Love, Diana collectible dolls. Love, Diana, the Pocket.watch brand based on popular YouTube channel “Kids Diana Show”, is expanding its toy offerings with its partnership with Far Out Toys. Far Out Toys’ Love, Diana collection will include a line of 2.5-inch mini-figures and accessories called Princess of Play, and a line of 3.5-inch dolls, accessories, playsets, and pets called Fashion Fabulous.

Sunny Days Entertainment builds a Barbie dreamhouseSunny Days Entertainment just released its own version of Barbie’s famed Malibu estate, and kids and parents can build the structure in seconds. Created under license from Mattel, the Barbie Dreamhouse Pop-Up Tent brings the iconic slanted roof and pink styling to living rooms everywhere. The tent is built for fun and measures more than 7 feet wide.

Toy Vault to produce merch based on Kovalic IPs. Toy Vault has signed a multi-year licensing agreement to produce toys and collectibles based on properties created by polymath creator John Kovalic.  The properties involved include the Dork Tower and Dr. Blink: Superhero Shrink comics, and the My Little Cthulhu and Mythos Buddies figures. This is the second major new Toy Vault license announced this year; a license with Paizo ...

‘Dungeons & Dragons’ heads to the big screenParamount Pictures and eOne are getting ready to hand the Dungeon Master’s Guide to the duo behind Game Night. Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley have penned a new screenplay for Dungeons & Dragons. The duo will also direct the film.

People . . . 

LEGO appoints Colette Burke to EVP and CCO role as it eyes omnichannel and global expansion. The LEGO Group has appointed Colette Burke as its executive vice president and chief commercial officer. Burke will take up the role from January 1st 2021. She joins the LEGO Group from the consumer electronics company, Bose Corporation, where she held the position of vice president global sales. Her 25 years career...

Rovio has named Alexandre Pelletier-Normand as its new CEOAlexandre Pelletier-Normand has been appointed as the new CEO of Rovio Entertainment, following the previously announced departure of Kati Levoranta. Levoranta spent the past four years leading the Angry Birds maker as CEO, but will be leaving the company at the end of December. Pelletier-Normand, who currently leads Rovio's video game business...

(the above posted after December 18th)

The Jim Henson Company has hired Sidney Clifton as its first SVP of animation and mixed media. Starting in January and reporting to president of television Halle Stanford, she will oversee the development and production of Henson’s animated and live-action TV content, including hybrid projects and formats that use its proprietary Henson Digital Puppetry Studio. Clifton’s animation producer credits include Black...

Industrial Designer Reveals How He Invented Award-Winning Toy. After studying product design at Art Center, it took over a decade before industrial designer Dan Klitsner found serious success--but when he did, it was huge. In the '90s he conceived of a kinetic toy for kids--something like a cross between a tool and a game-- that would provide audio commands meant to be followed by the wielder. Called Bo It!, it was licensed... 

Talking Games with Spin Master's Julien Sharp on the 'Power Kid Podcast'  Sharp works constantly to find new ways to increase sales across Spin Master’s games global business unit while collaborating with inventor relations, licensing, production, global brand marketing, and retailers to make it happen. On the show, Sharp shares her origin story and path...

Inside the Workshop of a Classic-Toy Inventor, in “Eddy’s World”Eddy Goldfarb went on to invent more than eight hundred toys, including the popular games Battling Tops, KerPlunk, and Shark Attack! The documentary demonstrates the lingering joy that Goldfarb takes in the small, precise work of inventing. —work which, in the course of his long life, came to include his family members. He shared patents with Anita,...

Zynga veterans launch VR gaming company ForeVRA pair of Zynga veterans have launched a new VR game studio in California, called ForeVR. Marcus Segal and Mike Pagano Doom will lead the new company, which is focused on developing "mass-market virtual reality gaming experiences for all ages and geographies." ForeVR also already employs a number of other former senior leaders from companies such as EA...

Game designer Rachel Lowe launches the official The Elf on the Shelf Board GameAward-winning board game designer Rachel Lowe has partnered with The Lumistella Company to bring its flagship property, The Elf on the Shelf to the traditional board gaming space in time for Christmas. The move acts to cement Elf on the Shelf as part of the festive tradition for families across the UK.

SPIN MASTER NAMES MAX RANGEL GLOBAL PRESIDENT, REVEALS EXEC SHIFTS FOR TOYS, ENTERTAINMENT, AND DIGITAL GAMES.

  • Chris Beardall will be been appointed president of Spin Master Toys

  • Jennifer Dodge will be appointed president of Spin Master Entertainment

  • Fredrik Loving will be appointed president, Spin Master Digital Games.

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Companies . . . 

Barbie's Parent Company Mattel Turns 75, COO Richard Dickson On The Milestone The brands' variety includes 176 different dolls, including nine body types, 36 skin tones, and 94 hairstyles. Dickson believes that gives them the honor of claiming Barbie as the most diverse doll in the world. This variety makes the entry price point all the more impressive from a production standpoint. But that is aided by controlling the supply...

In True Tesla Fashion, The Hot Wheels Cybertruck Has Been Delayed It pains me to say, but I've got some bad news—the Tesla Cybertruck has been delayed. I'm not talking about the "real" one; I'm talking about the radio-controlled Hot Wheels version being built for Cybertruck enthusiasts young and old. It turns out that veteran toymaker Mattel has pulled a Tesla of its own, delaying the release of its long-awaited...

Bethpage toy company Design Edge Inc. sees a renaissance in play  Toys and games have gone from quaint to near-essentials in this era of enforced cocooning, and a Bethpage toy company has seen its business flourish. Design Edge Inc., which has designed and developed toys for some of the world’s largest brands, including Fisher-Price, Hasbro and Disney, has seen a rise in design and development work as toy sales ... 

Exploding Kittens creator unveils three new titles. Asmodee will supply new games A Game of Cat and Mouth, Tacocat Spelled Backwards and A Little Wordy to the UK market. Retailers will be able to get a closer look at all three of these titles at the third edition of AsmoFair, Asmodee’s pioneering virtual trade show running from 17th-23rd January.

FX Digital, Zodiak Kids Announce U.S. Launch of Alexa Voice Game. "Let's Play: You Decide" is the latest Amazon Alexa voice game to be released by digital agency FX Digital to the U.S. market. Zodiak Kids, part of Banijay, has collaborated with FX Digital to turn the series into an interactive voice experience. It has already launched in the U.K. The game invites children on an adventure through a series of interactive...

Mando Mondays comes to a close with new Mandalorian merch from Hasbro, Funko, Mattel. The second season of Star Wars: The Mandalorian came to a thrilling conclusion this past Friday, and with that, Lucasfilm’s Mando Mondays promotion is wrapping up with one final batch of Mandalorian merch that will be hitting toy retailers beginning next year. Following the big reveal a few weeks back that the bounty hunter known as Boba Fett had survived his fall into the Great Pit of Carkoon AKA Sarlaac’s Pit during Return of the Jedi.

Luma welcomes everyone to 'Dragon Parks'. Luma Imports will release Dragon Parks, a drafting game by Ankama, in Q1 2021. Dragon Parks puts players in the role of the owners of a group of islands where dragons roam freely.  Players will have to manage their dragon’s appetites and the tourists’ expectations. Dragon Parks is a drafting game, using transparent cards to add or cover dragons within their parks.  Players score points based on the number of visitors on their island.

Games Workshop updates the status of 'Warhammer' releases going into 2021Games Workshop released an update on the status of the Warhammer releases going into 2021. GW released an update on some of the issues they are experiencing in the ever-changing global business climate, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the effects of Brexit. COVID-19 had a profound impact on the day-to-day operations of GW stores in 2020 despite their reported overall growth in sales through the beginning of pandemic.

First-ever Britains re-release to mark 100th anniversary in 2021. Britains, Europe’s oldest specialist in agricultural toys and collectibles, is set to celebrate its 100th anniversary next year with the re-launch of its original Fordson Major Tractor, a limited edition of only 7,500 units available from July. In 1921, Britains unveiled its first farm vehicle, the ‘4F’ Tumbrel Cart. Shortly after World War II came to an end, Britains introduced its first ever tractor in 1948, just three years after the real tractor appeared.

PlaymatesToys Announce Previews Exclusive Eastman and Laird 6” TMNT Action FiguresBusting out from the classic colored comics by Eastman and Laird come the Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesElite Series action figures from Playmates! Featuring 34 points of articulation, each figure is outfitted in their original red bandana and comes with personal weapon accessories. With a personalized sewer lid base and...

Dominate the high-seas with a new 'Dystopian Wars' two-player starter set. Warcradle Studios announced Hunt for the Prometheus, a two-player starter set for Dystopian Wars 3E steampunk-themed naval battle game, which will release on January 30, 2021.

Dystopian Wars is a tabletop naval battle game system that was originally released into the U.S. market by Spartan Games in 2011. 

Claim Alexander the Great's throne in 'Successors 4E'. Ares Games announced Successors 4E, a strategy game by Phalanx Games, for release in 2021. Successors is a card-driven movement strategy game that focuses on the war to succeed Alexander The Great. The upcoming fourth edition of this game has an updated board layout, charts, cards, and a revised rulebook that fixes issues with previous editions. 

Wizards of the Coast reveals two 'Magic: The Gathering' 'Kaldheim Commander Decks'Wizards of the Coast revealed Elven Empire and Phantom Premonition, two new Kaldheim Commander Decks for Magic: The Gathering, which will release on February 5. As a late addition to the Kaldheim product line, WotC will release two Commander decks along with the new set. The Elven Empire deck will be centered around Lathril, Blade of the Elves, The Phantom Premonition deck revolves around Ranar the Ever-Watchful.

Rio Grande Games announces 'Iberian Railways'Rio Grande Games announced Iberian Railways, the next board game in the Winsome Rail Game Series, for release in Spring 2021. In this game, players take on the Iberian Peninsula at the beginning of Spain and Portugal's ventures into railroad building. Players begin the game with no money and no income, and have to take out high-interest loans to build railways. 

Trunki partners with Addmaster to launch antimicrobial ride-on Abbie the AmbulanceTrunki, the UK team behind the popular ride-on luggage carrier for children, has teamed up with the Stafford-based company Addmaster to welcome the first antimicrobial addition to its range. Trunki has now launched Abbie the Ambulance in time for Christmas, a version of its popular ride-on that comes with in-built Biomaster...

Capture legendary monsters in Amigo's 'Monster Expedition'. Amigo Games will release Monster Expedition, a new monster-hunting board game by Alexander Pfister, into U.S. retail in March. In this standalone game set in the world of Carnival of Monsters, players take on the roles on of members of the Monstrological Society and are off to hunt monsters in three exotic ecosystems. 

Brainstorm readies launch of KlikBot Kreatures. KlikBots were available from August this year, exceeding all expectations and selling out in record time. The new range, KlikBot Kreatures, will land in the UK from the end of December, with January availability. The new range will not only have more collectability, with blind assortments and rare gold KlikBot Kreatures available in CDUs of 12, but there are even more play...

Steamforged Games reveals 'Peaky Blinders: Faster Than Truth'. Steamforged Games revealed Peaky Blinders: Faster Than Truth, a new card game based on the popular TV Series, for release on February 26, 2021. In Peaky Blinders: Faster Then Truth, players can take walk on the lawless streets of 1920s Birmingham as they try to garner resources to beat their rivals. 

Paizo, Inc. announces 'Pathfinder Adventure: Malevolence'. Paizo, Inc. announced Pathfinder Adventure: Malevolence, a new standalone adventure for Pathfinder RPG, for release in Q2 2021. Malevolence is a horror adventure for Level 3 characters that features new monsters, mysterious magical items, and spells. The adventure revolves around a haunted house that players can explore to find out the truth about...

(the above posted after December 17th)

Goliath marks 40th anniversary by unveiling new logo. Over the past four decades, Goliath has become a global player with offices in 15 countries. Turning 40 is generally considered to be a big deal – hitting middle age – but for Goliath, it marks how the family run business has grown, learning from experience to become the global player in the toy and games industry that it is today.

Lego bets on China’s children with hundreds of new stores. Stores are needed to address the particular challenges of China, says Cindy Chiu, who oversees the company’s retail operations in Asia. Lego is a relative newcomer in the country, so few Chinese parents played with the bricks as children. Stores give families a chance to experience Legos directly, building a connection with the brand.

Kindi Kids, the popular dolls from Moose Toys, are shrinking down a mini size. The Kindi Kids Minis are 4-inch bobblehead figures with glittery eyes and poseable bodies. The line first debuted last year with 10-inch bobblehead dolls and playsets, and was a huge hit with preschoolers for the holiday season.

Wow! Pods top Amazon best-seller listings in two categories Wow! Stuff's innovative 'swipe to light' collectible range has put in an impressive performance since launching - all without TV advertising. Richard North, Wow! Stuff CEO, said: “We have some super TV commercials for Wow! Pods waiting in the wings, which were due to air across the usual TV channels in the UK.

MGA Entertainment supports UK Children’s hospitals with LOL Surprise MGAE Cares dollMGA Entertainment is to donate a portion of the sales from its new limited-edition LOL Surprise MGAE Cares Frontline Hero doll to a number of children’s hospital charities around the UK and Republic of Ireland. The move is part of the MGA Entertainment Cares programme, a global effort to provide essential support and PPE to...

Walmart debuts My Life As Autism Advocate doll. The retailer introduced its My Life As Autism Advocate doll, “a perfect companion for the kids who want to help others learn how to be kind, patient, and supportive of everyone.” Two female dolls are available for preorder, and boy versions are slated for release at a later date.

Hasbro unleashes new Star Wars: The Black Series archive collection, Mandalorian collectibles. For the penultimate installment of the weekly series of new product reveals, Hasbro unleashed another full bounty of toys and collectibles inspired by the expanding adventures from a galaxy far, far away.

John Adams ends 2020 with news of upcoming Rummikub releases The Classic version has enjoyed its position as the No.1 Family Strategy Game for the last four consecutive years. John Adams is now extending the Rummikub offering within the UK and Ireland with the introduction of Rummikub Black, available now. Rummikub Anniversary Edition and Rummikub Vintage Edition will both launch in 2021.

Learn a new 'Pokemon TCG' gameplay mechanic in 'Sword & Shield: Battle Styles'The Pokemon Company International announced Sword & Shield: Battle Styles, an expansion for Pokemon TCG, will be releasing on March 19, 2021. This expansion features the new Battle Styles gameplay mechanic.

CoComelon passes 100 million YouTube subscribers, 100 billion views and sees ‘sell-out success’ of Jazwares toy line. Moonbug Entertainment has hit several record-breaking milestones for its wildly popular CoComelon brand having surpassed 100 million subscribers on YouTube and clocked nearly 100 billion views on the social media platform.

'Kids on Brooms' do battle with wands in a brand-new card game. Renegade Game Studios announced Duel of Wands: Kids on Brooms Card Game for release in Q1 2021. The kids are on their brooms, and looking to test their skill and cunning in magical duels.

Funko, Inc. will release 'Groundhog Day: the Game' into U.S. trade. Funko, Inc. will release Groundhog Day: The Game, a new card game, into U.S. trade in January. Join weatherman Phil Connors as he relives February 2 over and over again in this brand-new cooperative card game. Players need to strategically react to the townsfolk and events in each round of play in an attempt to create the perfect day.

Modiphius Entertainment teases new 'The Elder Scrolls: Call to Arms' sets. Modiphius Entertainment teased new The Elder Scrolls: Call to Arms miniatures sets for release in 2021. The next wave of The Elder Scrolls: Call to Arms miniatures game line will feature a brown dragon miniature that will be on pre-order soon. They also mentioned that new sets will include releases for the Dwemer, Dark Brotherhood, The....

Asmodee USA will bring new 'Agricola' expansion to U.S. tradeAsmodee USA will bring the Dulcinaria Deck, a new expansion for Agricola, to U.S. trade on January 22. Like previous Agricola expansion decks, the Dulcinaria Deck comes with 120 cards for Agricolamost of which are new. It adds 60 new minor improvements and 60 occupations to the revised Agricola reprint from 2016.

Modiphius Entertainment announces 'Fallout 2d20 RPG'. Modiphius Entertainment announced Fallout 2d20 RPG, based on the popular video game line, for release in Q2 2021. This is Modiphius’ second role playing game tied to Fallout; the first, tied to its Wasteland Warfare skirmish game, was released last year. The Fallout 2d20 RPG will run on Modiphius’ 2d20 game engine and launch in 2021.

Looney Labs opens its vaults to relaunch three games. Looney Labs has announced plans to re-release a trio of older titles that have been out of print for years: Seven Dragons, Oz Fluxx, and Martian Fluxx, all set to hit the streets on March 11. Out of print since 2017, Seven Dragons is a domino-style card game in which players must match dragons by color to create an unbroken series of seven panels.  

Restoration and Mondo release new 'Unmatched Set'. Restoration Games and Mondo Games will release the newest title for the Unmatched tactical skirmish game just in time for Christmas:  Little Red Riding Hood vs Beowulf. Unmatched:  Little Red Riding Hood vs Beowulf features two legendary characters that players can use to fight duels. Little Red Riding Hood vs Beowulf can be played on its own or combined with any...

Epoch Making Toys sees 2021 as ‘year of huge potential for Super Mario Games’ after initial “resounding success”. EPOCH making toys has earmarked 2021 as a ‘year of huge potential’ for Super Mario Games, as the international toy firm prepares to bolster a range of official Nintendo licensed products launched to UK retail this autumn/winter. The toy firm will now expand the reach of the initial launch portfolio as well as...

Bandai America adds one-piece figures to Anime Heroes lineBandai America is giving the people what they want! After fan requests for One Piece Anime Heroes figures poured in after the initial launch of the collectibles line, Bandai answered the call with new figures from the series. Preorders for Luffy, Zoro, and Sanji figures are now available on Amazon. 

UNO Artiste Series features unique, contemporary artA new addition to the UNO Artiste series is the first to feature original artwork by a living artist. The art in the deck, featured from the contemporary artist Nina Chanel Abneyin, was designed specifically for the card game and combines representation with abstraction. UNO Artiste Series pays homage to influential artists by incorporating their work directly into...

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

31% of young UK gamers struggle to track spending on loot boxesA study by the Gambling Health Alliance suggests young people are not only regularly spending on loot boxes, but struggling to keep track of how much they have spent. The  study found that 31% of young gamers say they are unaware of how much they have spent on loot boxes, while 33% say they do now feel in console of their spending. 22% of...

CD Projekt now pledges to help refund retail copies of Cyberpunk 2077. Both Microsoft and Sony have launched special refund initiatives for Cyberpunk 2077, and CD Projekt Red now says it is looking at other ways to help players outside of those purchasing platforms to receive refunds for the game if they so choose. Building on its original refund pledge from earlier in the week, CD Projekt Red now says that it...

Riot confirms it’s making a League of Legends MMO. League of Legends developer Riot Games is working on a massively multiplayer online (MMO) roleplaying game in the League universe, Riot’s VP of IP and entertainment, Greg Street, tweeted on Thursday. “My recent job at Riot has been to help develop the League universe, which we’re going to need!” Street said. “My new job is to kick off a big (some might say massive)...

Epic Games Store now offers Spotify, signaling app store ambitions beyond just games. Spotify is now available on the Epic Games Store, signaling developer Epic’s ambitions to turn what has so far been strictly a games store into a more general app distribution platform. The Spotify app is free to download on the Epic Games Store, just like it is on the App Store, Google Play, or as a direct download for your PC or Mac. 

(the above posted after December 18th)

Cyberpunk 2077 developers were "updating the last-gen version until the very last minute". Management at CD Projekt Red have addressed a number of queries about console versions of Cyberpunk 2077, giving some insight into why it runs poorly on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.  Joint-CEO Adam Kiciński recognised that despite strong sales and feedback on PC, Stadia and users on next-gen consoles, feedback...

EA Play won’t come to Xbox Game Pass for PC until 2021. PC gamers subscribed to Xbox Game Pass for PC or the pricier Xbox Game Pass Ultimate tier will need to wait just a little while longer until they have access to EA Play on Windows machines. Today, Microsoft announced that EA Play would arrive on PC as part of Xbox Game Pass sometime in 2021. 

UK Members of Parliament call for ban on bulk buying consoles. A group of Members of Parliament in the UK called for the establishment of strict rules around the reselling of consoles in the country. As reported by VGC, six MPs from the Scottish National Party proposed an Early Day Motion on Monday asking for legislation to prohibit the "resale of gaming consoles and computer components at prices greatly above...

Fortnite focuses in on boosting playability on lower-powered PCs. Fortnite is widening its reach by making the already-massive battle royale more appealingto players with hardware on the lower end of the spectrum. Fortnite dev Epic Games launched what it calls Performance Mode today. That includes changes geared at offering a smaller download of Fortnite as well as higher performance for players that might've...

Monster Fight Club enters 'Cyberpunk Red: Combat Zone'. Monster Fight Club is producing Cyberpunk Red:  Combat Zone, a tabletop miniatures game based on the latest version of R. Talsorian’s iconic role playing game.  The game will release in 2021. In Cyberpunk Red:  Combat Zone, players control gangs of cyber-enhanced characters fighting for control of a city’s lawless zones.

Among Us launches for the Nintendo Switch. Among Us, Innersloth’s breakout hit of 2020, is coming to the Nintendo Switch today. The news was announced during a special indie game-focused Nintendo Direct. The game will feature crossplay. The game picked up the award for best multiplayer title of the year during this year’s Game Awards. A new airship map is expected next year.

Amazon’s Luna cloud gaming service is now available on Android. Amazon’s cloud gaming service, Luna, is now available on Android, Amazon announced on Tuesday. Like the iOS version of Luna, there’s no separate Luna app to download — instead, you’ll access the service through the Chrome web browser. Amazon launched Luna in early access in October, where it was initially available on PC, Mac, Fire TV, and...

Spelunky is coming to the Switch along with other great-looking indies. At its latest indie showcase, Nintendo revealed a handful of intriguing titles coming to the Switch in 2021. The biggest reveal is that Among Us, one of 2020’s biggest games, isn’t just coming to the Switch, but it’ll be available later today. Classic rouguelike series Spelunky is coming to the Switch next year. 

CD Projekt offering refunds to Cyberpunk players on consoles after shaky launch. CD Projekt Red (CDPR) is offering refunds to Cyberpunk 2077 players on consoles who feel let down by the state of the game at launch. The Polish studio has also apologized for not showcasing Cyberpunk on base last-generation consoles, with that decision coupled with the title's shaky performance leading some to accuse CDPR...

Familiars.io is a simple, Pokémon-style multiplayer game that you can play right inside TwitterFamiliars.io is a minimalist monster-catching game that went online last year, and right now, you can play it inside Twitter. As developer Nigel Nelson tweeted this afternoon, he ported the entire game to an embedded Twitter card. That means that you can play it directly through Twitter’s web interface or mobile app.

Snapchat is releasing Bitmoji Paint, a massively multiplayer online painting gameToday, Snapchat is getting a new original game called Bitmoji Paint. As the name suggests, the game involves Bitmoji — those cutely grotesque customizable avatars — and painting. It’s Snap Inc.’s fourth title from its internal games studio. “Our goal with Bitmoji has always been to be the world’s avatar, to give people a digital version...

Steam breaks concurrent users record at nearly 25m. Steam reached a new high in terms of concurrent users, with 24.8 million registered. PC Gamer first reported data from SteamDB over the weekend, saying that Valve's store had reached an all-time high of 24,776,635 concurrent users. But since then, the all-time peak hit 24,804,148 concurrent users, indicating that Steam broke its own record twice in the past couple ...

Electric Gamebox booths bring group gaming to the high streetAfter a year of video calls and online quizzes, a new business is hoping to make screen-time more social with its immersive group gaming booths. Each room at the Electric Gamebox has 360-degrees of visuals projected on to touch-sensitive walls, for groups of up to six players. While its venues can currently only host household groups due to the current ...

UK games industry made record $3.84 billion economic contribution in 2019The UK games industry made a record £2.91 billion ($3.84 billion) contribution to the country's national economy in 2019. The latest numbers only accord for the impact of game development and publishing, suggesting the "full size and economic contribution" of the entire UK games industry, including support services, retail, esports,...

CDPR estimates Cyberpunk 2077 has recouped development, marketing costsAccording to a brief report shared by CD Projekt, Cyberpunk 2077 has likely already made enough money to cover both its development and marketing costs. The CD Projekt board notes that it is considering both estimated licensing royalties and pre-order sales of Cyberpunk 2077 across all digital distribution channels.

Among Us developers reveal an all-new map, The Airship, coming early 2021Indie developer Innersloth revealed its fourth map, The Airship, for the online social deduction game Among Us during The Game Awards on Thursday, following the game’s win for best multiplayer title of the year. The Airship features new tasks for players to accomplish, and is far more elaborate than previous maps.

The best gaming mouse you can buy. Finding the right gaming mouse amid all of the options available can, frankly, be a struggle. There are a lot of factors to consider, like how it looks, how it feels in the hand, the button selection and arrangement, the quality of its sensor, and whether you want a mouse that’s wireless or wired. These details, minor as they seem, can have a major impact on your experience with the mouse...

CD Projekt: Polarizing Cyberpunk 2077 launch 'the wrong approach'. CD Projekt Red management have taken responsibility for the rocky launch of Cyberpunk 2077 on last-gen consoles. Many players (especially those on base last-gen consoles) have been plagued by a swathe of bugs and frequent crashes.

Subscription library Ubisoft+ is now on Google Stadia. Ubisoft has officially launched its pay-for-access subscription library Ubisoft+ on Google Stadia, essentially rolling all the benefits of cloud-based game services into its $14.99 per month service.

Apple introduces privacy labels to make data mining transparent. Apple yesterday introduced new app privacy labels on its stores, which allow users to see what type of data is collected by the applications they download and use. these new labels mean developers now need to disclose their privacy practices when they submit an app to the App Store.

Toy Safety and Counterfeit Related Articles . . . 

US Customs and Border Protection Officers Nab $1.3 Million in Bootleg Toys in New York, New ..Bootlegs, knockoffs, counterfeits, whatever you want to call them, these illicit toys continue to make their way into the market. Thanks to the work of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the Port of New York/Newark, more than $1.3 million worth of counterfeit toys are out of the distribution channels...

(the above posted after December 17th)

Parents warn against dangerous lithium 'button' batteries in holiday toysParents of children in the ICU are warning others about the dangers of holiday toys that use lithium batteries. The button batteries are common in household items, toys, remotes and even singing greeting cards. Experts say batteries, if swallowed, can burn through a child’s esophagus in just two hours.

Cyberpunk 2077’s 1.04 patch makes changes to reduce epilepsy risk. Cyberpunk 2077 developer CD Projekt Red (CDPR) is rolling out an update to the game that could reduce the potential for some sequences to induce epileptic symptoms. The risks of seizure were brought to light by Game Informer editor Liana Ruppert earlier this week. The 1.04 hotfix is now live on PlayStation consoles and PC, and CDPR is working ...

Magformers UK joins Covid-19 fight with launch of a toy sterilising storage box. Magformers UK has joined the global fight against Covid-19 with the launch of its new Dothams UV-C Steriliser Box, a storage box that has been found to kill up to 99.9 per cent of deadly germs and viruses using ultraviolet light.

Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony release joint commitment to online safety. Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony today released a joint statement expressing a collective commitment to ensuring their online spaces are free from hate and harassment, and safe for younger players.

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Press Releases . . . 

Retailers Rejoice As Dam LLC Unveils More European Brands To Stock In Store. Toy buyers will be asking their sales reps what’s new with the buzz of Belgium-based distributor DAM (rhymes with mom) expanding its 2021 catalog from one to three European brands. DAM arrived on the American toy scene last year with a booth at ASTRA’s Marketplace in Pittsburgh. Now, three innovative collections – Scratch, Avenir and Scrunch – will spotlight European style, modern designs, and thoughtful, eco-friendly products to anyone in a playful mood! Last summer, ASTRA members were the first to see the stylish packaging of Scratch, a brand DAM designs and manufactures themselves. 

(the above posted after December 17th)

KIDSTUFF PUBLIC RELATIONS CHOSEN TO REPRESENT HESS TOY TRUCK IN 2021. Madison, WI (December 16, 2020) — KidStuff Public Relations, a boutique PR firm focused exclusively on helping toy and game manufacturers and retailers grow, has been named public relations agency of record for Hess Toy Truck, one of the best-selling and longest running toy brands in America. For over 30 years families have heard the jingle, “The Hess Truck’s back and it’s better than ever!” signaling a new season of excitement around the arrival of a new great toy, and for nearly 60 years they’ve gotten to experience these incredible toys! With an unmatched reputation for outstanding quality at affordable pricing, each...

News from Associations, Trade Shows, Awards and Festivals

(ASTRA, Hong Kong, LIMA, Spielwarenmesse, TA and More) . . . 

Talkin' Toys: Christian Ulrich Discusses the Launch of Spielwarenmesse BrandNew. Christian Ulrich: "In July, the toy industry will finally gather again at the Spielwarenmesse Summer Edition. In the run-up to the event, we will be taking advantage of the enormous reach of our digital platforms, giving companies the opportunity to present their new products to the global trade through Spielwarenmesse BrandNew. 

RPG categories for Origins Awards changedThe categories for role playing games in the Origins Awards have been changed, Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design parent GAMA is announcing today.  This change was made “…based on feedback and input from the RPG jury and publishers,” GAMA Executive Director John Stacy explained. The categories for games released in 2020 had undergone a number of...

(the above posted after December 17th)

Esports to debut as medal event at Asian Games 2022. Esports will officially become a medal event at the 2022 Asian Games, set to take place in Hangzhou, China. Esports will join the "intellectual titles" category, which already features events such as chess. The 19th Asian Games will take place from September 10 to 25, 2022. This marks the end of three years of uncertainty when it comes to the inclusion of esports.

Gen Con pushes back badge registration and event submission. Gen Con, LLC. announced that it has postponed badge registration and event submission for Gen Con 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic affected many facets of the gaming world, but the most significant change was the cancellation of Gen Con 2020 as a live event. In hopes of hosting a live event for Gen Con 2021, they have pushed back their badge registration...

HKTDC announces consolidation of its 2021 trade fairsIn an email to exhibitors, Horasis Lung, exhibitions project manager for the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) said: “With many pandemic-related travel restrictions remaining in place, exhibitors and buyers may have difficulty joining the Toys & Games Fair scheduled for 27th-30th April 2021.

The Last of Us Part II dominates The Game Awards 2020The Last of Us Part II took home the top prize at The Game Awards 2020. Naughty Dog's long-awaited sequel dominated the show, nabbing the Game of the Year award along with other honors including Best Game Direction, Best Narrative, Best Audio Design, Best Performance, Innovation in Accessibility, and Best Action/Adventure.

Adrienne Appell Named SVP of Marketing Communications at The Toy AssociationAppell will be responsible for the development, implementation, and oversight of the organization’s communications strategies, active digital footprint, key messaging, and value of play and brand integrity programs.

Hyve Group reveals dates for the all-virtual Spring Fair @ Home 2021Hyve Group has confirmed the dates of its Spring Fair @ Home virtual event, an all-digital show that will take the place of the in-person Spring Fair 2021 that was cancelled last month over the continued uncertainty surrounding covid-19 restrictions.

Who made Kidscreen’s Hot50? Disney+, Apple TV+, Moonbug, Blue Zoo and Ludo Studio all joined the list for the first time this year...read on to find out which companies came out on top. In the broadcasting category, Netflix took the top spot for the seventh consecutive year—a result no other company has been able to achieve since the Hot50 launched in 2014. The SVOD had a busy year expanding its preschool and live-action...

Obituaries - Remembering Those that have Passed . . .

(If you know of a colleague's passing, please send us information so we can share with our industry)

Diana Green Diana Green, long time buying director of Greens Toymaster, passed away at home on 13th December after a short illness. Toy World is sad to report that Diana Green, a popular and well respected toy industry figure, passed away peacefully on Sunday 13th December after a short illness. Diana was a well known figure in the industry since the 1970s, having worked as buying director for Greens for much of this time. Working alongside her husband Geoff, Diana selected ranges for the Snowfold buying group’s FOB import programme, which supported members ranges and margins from the 1980’s. Later, she served as a member of Toymaster’s Merchandise Committee for many years, as the Greens Toymaster chain expanded to a total of 17 stores.

Mercedeh Ward - Mercedeh Ward contributed to the toy industry she loved in a myriad of ways over the course of her 35-year career. A mechanical engineer by training, with a degree from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Mercedeh leveraged her considerable smarts and work ethic to ensure thousands of toys reached the market to deliver happiness to children. Her amazing career spanned multiple companies (in order): Mattel, Equity Marketing, Playmates, Spin Master, MGA, Funrise, Zippity Blue, and Spin Master (again). At a time where there were few female engineers in the toy industry (and no one had yet heard of STEM), Mercedeh became the go-to product development expert for girls toys in Southern California, where executing the right aesthetic was paramount. She made major contributions to many powerhouse brands, including: Barbie, Bratz, and Amazing Amanda (first major animatronic doll). In her second stint at Spin Master, she helped drive the success of the #1 preschool brand, Paw Patrol.

Francis Spear Francis passed away peacefully on 13th December.  Francis was born in the town of Fuerth, near Nuremberg, into a Jewish toy trade family. His great grandfather, Jacob Wolf Spear, started J. W. Spear & Soehne in 1878. By the time Francis was born into this close-knit family – he was the youngest of five grandchildren – the company was being managed by his grandfather Carl Spear and a great uncle. ...  

When (Francis) he joined Spear’s Games, Francis worked in a number of different departments, but his passion was for the production side of the business and he took on the role of production director, overseeing the manufacturing process. Francis became managing director of J. W. Spear and subsequently its chairman. He was respected by many in the toy trade for his honesty, loyalty and modesty. When the company was sold to Mattel in 1994, Francis purchased farmland in Hertfordshire. Read More...

Glyn Davies   Toy World is sad to report that Glyn Davies passed away in Liverpool on November 20th, after catching coronavirus. Glyn had turned 70 in July. Glyn worked in the toy trade for many years as a rep and national account executive for several toy companies, including Blue Box, Rainbow, Mondo and Fisher Price. His final role of a long and distinguished toy trade career was at Bandai. Julian Boyers, former managing director at Bandai, commented: “I was deeply saddened to hear of Glyn’s death, which happened very quickly and unexpectedly.

Jimmy Hunter, the founder of Hunter Toys, passed away on November 14th, 2020. Jimmy took on the role of BTHA Chairman from 2000-2002 and was heavily involved for many years with both Toy Fair and the BTHA’s ‘Value of Play’ initiatives. He was the champion for Total Fun, the consumer event held in the early 2000s, while he was also the brainchild behind the longstanding Golden Teddy awards. His daughter Sally Hunter, who has followed in Jimmy’s footsteps by building a long and successful career the toy trade, told Toy World: “The fact that the Golden Teddy awards are still being presented so many years later gives me goosebumps.

Simon Holdsworth, Managing Director at Thos Holdsworth & Sons Ltd, passed away on November 14th, 2020. "Many of our staff have worked alongside Simon for more than 20 years.  Words like mentor, great boss, good friend, awesome storyteller, gregarious, quick witted, dynamic, proud, demanding, knowledgeable and tireless are just some of their comments.  He is, and always will be our champion!  Our legacy for Simon is to keep the company running smoothly and exemplify the excellence that he demanded from us each and every day.  There will be many memories, and no doubt a number of stories from your time spent with Simon, perhaps encouraged by his favourite tipple of a G&T or a wee glass of Grand Marnier!  In the coming weeks, I hope that we get the chance to remember the good times and raise a glass in his honour." - Fleur Tisdale, 

Toy Trade Monthly Issues...

eplay November Issue

ToyWorld (UK) December Issue

The Toy Book Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards Special Edition

Casual Game Revolution

Kidscreen's most-read stories of 2020

Weekly Top Stories from Toy Trade Magazines Worldwide...

Adventure Media & Events (US)

  1. Exclusive: Walmart Debuts My Life As Autism Advocate Doll (The Toy Book)

  2. Jakks Pacific Levels Up Deal for More Nintendo, Super Mario Toys (The Toy Book)

  3. Less COVID-19, More Toys: A Toy Store Near You Season Two Arrives on Christmas (The Toy Book)

  4. Buy Black in the Gaming Aisle with These 5 Great Games (The Pop Insider)

  5. Love, Diana Gets Mini (and Sweet!) Collectible Doll Lines  (The Toy Insider)

  6. Cepia’s Cats Vs. Pickles Get Supersized with Huggers, Jumbo Plushies (The Toy Book)

  7. KidStuff PR Tapped to Rep the Hess Toy Truck for 2021 (The Toy Book)

  8. Talkin’ Toys: LEGO Masters Casting Director Allison Kaz Dishes Details on Season 2 (The Toy Book)

  9. Moose Toys Introduces Kindi Kids Minis (The Toy Book)

  10. Hasbro Unleashes New Star Wars: The Black Series Archive Collection, Mandalorian Collectibles (The Toy Book)

aNb Media (US)

  1. Spin Master Announces Executive Leadership Changes 

  2. Love, Diana Product Line to Launch from Far Out Toys

  3. Wow! Stuff to Develop CoCoMelon Line

  4. IMC Toys Debuts Tutti Frutti Crybabies Lines

  5. Appell Named Toy Association SVP, Marketing Comms

  6. Kindi Kids Minis Arrive from Moose Toys

  7. Samsung and WildBrain to Launch New Kids Channels

  8. Nintendo and JAKKS Pacific Renew Toy Partnership

  9. Cats vs Pickles Adds New Sizes and Characters

  10. Konami IPs Unveil New Specialty Items for 2021

ToyWorld (UK)

  1. Don’t look back in anger…it’s the Friday Blog!

  2. Obituary: Francis Spear

  3. HKTDC announces consolidation of its 2021 trade fairs

  4. UK high streets draw crowds, while Germany asks public to forgo pre-lockdown splurge

  5. MGA unveils limited-edition L.O.L. Surprise! MGAE Cares doll

  6. Hamleys opens its first eBay shop

  7. KAP Toys announces Boxing Day TV campaign for Harry Potter Magical Capsules

  8. Hornby temporarily stops non-UK toy orders due to Brexit

  9. Authentic Brands reportedly in talks for Debenhams and Arcadia Group

  10. Rakesh Kakaya to join Miko as chief sales officer

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

  1.  Rolling for Initiative -- Three Things of Note for this Holiday Season
  2.  Business 3x3: Alan Hochman at Pastimes Comics & Games
  3.  Wizards of the Coast Releases Product Line Deets for 'Magic: The Gathering' 'Kaldheim'
  4.  Marvel Universe Invades 'Unmatched'
  5.  Wizards of the Coast Expands the Suspension of 'Magic: The Gathering' In-Store Play
  6.  Modiphius Entertainment Announces 'Fallout 2d20 RPG'
  7.  WizKids Reveals Latest 'Dungeons & Dragons' 'Paint Night Kit'
  8.  Gen Con Pushes Back Badge Registration and Event Submission
  9.  Restoration and Mondo Release New 'Unmatched Set'
10.  Modiphius Entertainment Teases New 'The Elder Scrolls: Call to Arms' Sets

TOYS Magazine (Germany) - posted once a month

1. Iconic: MinaLima, the graphic design duo of the Harry Potter movies, opens up about the look and feel of the franchise

2. Kids Design Award Germany: Discover the clever winning product of a young female designer that helps kids keep order and have fun

3. Joys of fatherhood: Find out from a young German entrepreneur what it means to be a modern dad

4. ASS Altenburger: Read how the traditional German card and board games manufacturer makes a profit during lockdown

5. Scandi collaboration: Explore „Bygglek", the fun storage solution for every home made by Lego and Ikea

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

  1. Threezero collaborates with Hasbro to launch a Power Ranger action figures line 

  2. Super7 launches Transformers Soundwave Super Cyborg 

  3. Pausa & Juega, a good alternative in Peru for toy shopping this Christmas 

  4. Super7 gives us a sneak peek at Super Cyborg - Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Megazord 

Video of the Week! 

Post U.S. Election - What's Next CHITAG

The POP Week panels were aired on two separate platforms, there are slight changes to the version first aired on our website with over 12,000 viewers and on this

separate YouTube version we are sharing here.

Post U.S. Election - What's Next?

Moderator: Alan Hassenfeld (Chairman Executive Committee, Hasbro)

Panelists: Gerrick Johnson (Director, BMO Capital Markets),

Stephanie Wissink (Managing Director, Consumer Research, Jefferies)

 

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