the Bloom Report

Toy & Game Industry's #1 News Summary Globally
Below is Dec. 3 - 10, 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! 

A big 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

tBR Columnist Nancy Zwiers: Is Your Child Ready to Let Go of Santa?

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Just two months past my 5th birthday, I asked my dad a few penetrating questions about Santa.  I still whole-heartedly believed in Santa, but some things just didn’t add up.  My dad was the smartest man in the world, and I was sure he could answer them:

  • How does Santa visit all the children in the world in just one night?

  • How does Santa fit all the toys in his sleigh?

 

To my dismay, my dad came clean: there was no such thing as Santa.  I was heartbroken but resolved to protect my little brother and sister from the devasting truth…mums the word.  Later, I remember how crestfallen my brother was when his friend proclaimed, “Santa is a rat fink.” 

Remembering the sense of loss I felt, I vowed to not prematurely spill the beans with my daughter Nikki. The Christmas of Nikki’s 5th grade year, however, I questioned whether she could still believe in Santa.  She seemed so mature.  And I remembered how my brother received the news so unceremoniously; I didn’t want Nikki to learn from her friends.  At one point shortly after Christmas, I blurted out, “You realize Santa is not real, don’t you?”   READ MORE  . . . 

POP Week's Wednesday's POP DUO:  Bob Fuhrer, Founder, Nextoy and Tom Fazio, Golf Course Designer

  Watch on POP's hompage!

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tBR Person of the Week: Saar Shai: Novelty Books as Playthings!

What exactly do you do in the industry?

I think I have a rather interesting role, definitely an unusual one. I’m the inventor-in-residence for the book publishers Igloo and Autumn (part of Bonnier). My mission is to come up and develop new and innovative formats for novelty books. 

 

These days, novelty books span much wider than pop-ups, pull-tabs and lift-the-flap. You have sound books, you have ‘scanimation’, you have books that come with punch-out characters and little toy vehicles that ride on the pages. You even have escape-room books. You often see a lot of the trends that come up in the toy industry also appear in the form of novelty books. Even the unboxing craze is making an appearance in the form of individually wrapped mini-books.

There’s definitely a strong force pushing the industry to ‘toy-ify’ picture books and I think that’s a very positive trend. I’m a big fan of the appeal of good writing and eye-catching illustrations, but anything else that can draw kids to literature should be applauded.  READ MORE . . . 

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Financial & Legal News . . .

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.

(the above posted after the Bloom Report was distributed on December 10th)

Early Christmas shopping results in UK retail sales rise. Retail sales rose in Oct. to show the first increase in 6 months, and toys have been singled out as one of the main drivers. The total volume of goods bought rose by 0.8% last month, according to the Office for Nat'l Statistics, compared with flat sales in Sept. This was driven by a rise in spending on toys and clothes, despite economists having forecast a smaller rise...

Asmodee to Make a Strategic Investment in Exploding Kittens.  Asmodee to Make a Strategic Investment in Exploding Kittens. Asmodee, the leading worldwide platform in modern boardgames, announced today the signing of a strategic investment into Exploding Kittens, the hit tabletop game creator.  "Exploding Kittens has been a long-time partner of ours, combining amazing creativity and innovation capabilities...

U.S. retail imports boom despite supply chain crisis, pandemic. The numbers are in, and consumer demand is insatiable. According to the Nat'l Retail Federation and Hackett Associates monthly Global Port Tracker, 2021 is headed toward a record finish for U.S. retail imports. The organizations say that this year should chart both the largest volume and fastest growth on record for ocean freight in Twenty-Foot Equivalent...

NRF economist says holiday shopping could beat forecast despite inflation and COVID-19. The 2021 holiday season appears to be on track to exceed the National Retail Federation’s forecast for record spending despite supply chain disruptions, inflation and challenges like the new COVID-19 omicron variant, NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said today (December 3). 

Bowser agrees to $10 million fine for selling Nintendo Switch hacksCanadian hacker Gary Bowser has agreed to pay $10 million to settle a Nintendo lawsuit against him over piracy charges. Bowser is a member of the Team Xecuter group that have created mod chips or jailbroken the Nintendo Switch, 3DS, NES Classic Edition, and other consoles.

IWGB union says Lockwood Publishing layoffs are illegal. Today the Independent Workers' Union of Great Britain called recent layoffs at Lockwood Publishing unlawful. The IWGB said workers have negotiated with management for weeks about layoffs of about 17% of the company (33 of 200 positions placed at risk) and are going public as "management refuses to engage with the workers seriously." .

PlayStation VP fired after being caught by pedophilia sting operation. A senior PlayStation executive has been fired from Sony following an amateur sting operation that allegedly proved he was attempting to engage in sexual activity with a minor. YouTube channel People v. Preds posted a video featuring George Cacioppo, SVP of engineering for PlayStation Network, allegedly waiting to meet with a 15-year-old boy...

Target extends store hours for holiday shopping ahead of Christmas; most stores open until midnight. Target has extended store hours in the days leading up to Christmas. Starting Sunday, most stores will open at 7 a.m. and close at midnight through Dec. 23, Target officials confirmed to USA TODAY. Hours can vary by location and are listed on the store locator at Target.com/store-locator. 

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

Trends, Market Research Reports . . .

MORE THAN 148 MILLION AMERICANS PLAN TO SHOP ON ‘SUPER SATURDAY,’ NRF SAYS . . . . . . The Kidscreen Hot50 results are in

(the above posted after distribution of Bloom Report December 10th)

NPD reports that UK consumers waited for Black Friday to buy toys . . . . . . . November 2021 NPD BookScan - Top 20 Author, Manga, Superhero Graphic Novels . . . . . . . THE INSIGHTS FAMILY OFFERS 2022 ‘VISION OF THE FUTURE’ REPORT . . . . . . . . Disney’s ‘Encanto’ Leads Another Quiet Weekend at Box Office . . . . . . Breaking down the top content trends of the year . . . . . . Top 50 Comics - November 2021 . . . . . . . Talking Shop - brace your elves! . . . . . . . NOVEMBER 2021 NPD BOOKSCAN - TOP 20 KIDS GRAPHIC NOVELS . . . . . . .  Mobile games spending to reach just shy of $90bn in 2021

Financial & Brokerage News . . .

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

(the above posted after distribution of Bloom Report December 10th)

Five Below, Inc. announces third quarter fiscal 2021 financial results . . . . . . . GameStop reports financial results for Q3 2021 . . . . . . . Demand soars at Hornby but bottom line suffers . . . . .  GartenHaus acquires Outdoor Toys

Future Financial Reporting . . .

Toyjobs has been the dominant recruiting

Stories, Comments & Advice . . .

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 ‘I love this’,” Ghermezian said.

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 ...

(the above posted after distribution of Bloom Report December 10th)

John Baulch, ToyWorld UK - Make it make sense…it’s the Friday Blog! And so it came to pass that we sat round our TV sets on Wednesday evening, watching a bewildered man woefully out of his depth flounder about, making a series of bad decisions and being publicly humiliated. But enough about the England cricket team captain…

Kickstarter Creators Furious Over Company’s Move to Blockchain.  There's lots of reasons to distrust Kickstarter's latest attempt to stay relevant. The OG crowdfunding platform is moving to the blockchain, and its users are legitimately furious about it.  First reported by Bloomberg, news of Kickstarter’s decision to go crypto comes as the company tries to regain legitimacy as project and product crowdfunding, both of...

Cardi B shuts down ridiculous trolls losing their mind over a boy playing with a kitchen set. 'Stop being so close-minded and dumb,' the rapper urged trolls who took issue with a young boy playing with a kitchen set. The issue came to Cardi's attention when Twitter user @SheerOpulence2 posted a picture of the child playing with a toy pot, writing: "People on Facebook are having a full-blown gender war about...

From girls who love Hot Wheels to boys with Barbies: Why experts say gender roles have no place in the toy aisle. More than 70 percent of chefs in the United States are male, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, still a tweet shared by Cardi B last week showing a photo of a little boy playing with a toy kitchen raised some eyebrows and some voices. Many Twitter users replied to the rapper's tweet...

KidsKnowBest – context is everything.  Rob Lough of KidsKnowBest, explains why it’s time for progressive brands to skip the demos and dive straight into the stuff that matters in 2022.  When Apple recently introduced privacy changes to its products, it sent advertisers, publishers and the whole industry scrambling for solutions, according to Rob, who is co-founder and chief brand officer of data-led creative media...

Top 5 tips for toy brands to crack social media this Christmas.  The last couple of weeks in the run-up to Christmas are crucial for retailers, and social media can be invaluable in helping to drive sales. We asked Polly Barnfield OBE, retail expert and CEO of Maybe* Tech, for her top tips on how toy shops can crack social media this Christmas.

Letter from America - what a year for the indies!  In his final column of the year, Rick Derr celebrates how 2021 turned out and concludes there IS a Santa Claus... “We all are jumping for joy as the year winds down,” says our US based columnist Rick, owner of independent toy store Learning Express in Lake Zurich, I l. Writing in mid Nov., with several weeks to go until Christmas, Rick was confident enough to draw a...

Netflix Makes the Most Movies in Hollywood. It Wants to Make the Best.  “Red Notice” is not a good movie, at least by most conventional measures. It has a score of 36 on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes and 37% on Metacritic. It’s not going to get nominated for Academy Awards, nor did it introduce the world to new talent. A New York Times review deemed it a “vacant bid at franchise creation,” and...

Encanto finally nails Disney’s villain-free formula.  And it succeeds where Frozen 2 and Raya and the Last Dragon faltered.  The Disney villain is dead. Long live the Disney villain. Over the past decade, Disney Animation Studios has slowly been evolving the types of stories it tells, and while that might mean more compelling heroes’ journeys and family stories, it also means that the need for the traditional villain has slowly declined. 

Traditional toys make a comeback - and kidults are helping drive the trend. Toys have always been big business, with global sales hitting nearly €85 billion in 2020 - up by 2.6% on 2019. 2021 is set to be another bumper year for the industry. And despite some reports that video games have killed the toy sector, it seems the traditional toy mkt is bouncing back. The sector rose by 5% in the 1st qtr of 2021. Games/puzzles...

The Toy Zone reveals every country’s must-have toy. With mere days of Christmas shopping time remaining, U.S. toy review site The Toy Zone has analysed Google global search data to see which toys are being hunted for by frantic parents around the world. The Toy Zone team also analysed the most popular toys by category, breaking down the most searched-for 90s toys, consoles, TV toys, classic toys, board games,...

Collectible LEGO sets have an 11% annual yield. They’re a better investment than stocks, gold, or art. With cryptocurrencies having one of the most impressive bull runs in the history of financial assets, it’s easy to see why people are no longer impressed by traditional investments. However, if you’re not the kind of person that can handle the heart-racing, wild volatility of the crypto market, you may be interested ...

Lara Croft: 25 years of Tomb Raider and a British gaming icon. One of gaming's most celebrated icons, Lara Croft, has just turned 25 years old. Independent, strong and fearless, Lara Croft forged an unforgettable path through 90s gaming - making the leap from niche character to pop culture superstar and becoming one of the most instantly recognizable characters of all time. 

Toys R Us still doesn’t know what it wants to be when it grows up. When the final two Toys R Us stores in the U.S. closed earlier this year, it looked like the end for the once-vaunted retailer, until brand management company WHP Global stepped in and vowed to reopen somewhere in the future, whether it be in airports, pop-ups or flagship stores. And on Wednesday (Dec. 1), 

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Remembering the Toy Industry's Past . . . 

Top holiday toys from the year you were born. Toy shopping has transformed over the past 100 years, whether because of advancements in the products themselves or the marketplace. Using national toy archives and data curated by The Strong, from 1920 to today, Stacker searched for products that caught hold of the public zeitgeist through novelty, innovation, kitsch, quirk, or simply great timing, and then rocketed to success. Here are the top holiday toys from the year you were born, counting up from 1920 to today.

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Worldwide Licensing News . . .

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.

(the above posted after distribution of Bloom Report December 10th)

Dr. Seuss Enterprises announced today the expansion of its licensing portfolio in Canada, focusing on some of their most beloved properties within a variety of categories including accessories, home and kitchen decor, food, games, puzzles and more. New products will roll out in the Canadian market starting at the end of this year and into 2022. 

Champion and Hasbro set to win big with board game-inspired apparel . . .  featuring characters and graphics from some of world’s most beloved games: Monopoly, Twister, Scrabble and Candy Land. “Spirited play, competition and board games go together during the holiday season, and this collection lets fans look good doing it,” says Jon Ram, Group President of of Global Activewear at Hanesbrands, owner of the Champion...

Diamond Art Club Debuts Harry Potter, Friends, and DC Craft Kits.  Accio, craft time! This week, Diamond Art Club revealed a major partnership with Warner Bros. Consumer Products. The leading manufacturer in diamond painting is releasing a variety of craft kits featuring designs and imagery from multiple Warner Bros. brands, including the Wizarding World, Space Jam: A New Legacy, Friends, DC, and more

Hasbro Prepares for ‘The Book of Boba Fett’ with New Action Figures and a Disney+ Special.  On Dec. 29, a new chapter in the Star Wars saga begins when The Mandalorian spinoff The Book of Boba Fett debuts on Disney+. Fresh Star Wars content equals new toys, and Hasbro is leading the charge and will take center stage in an episode of Disney Insider that shows how action figures are made.

Leading electronic toy manufacturer WowWee recently announced that it has named Striker Entertainment as the premiere global licensing agency to represent this year’s Got2Glow Fairy Finder. Striker will now be spearheading a strategic licensing program for the product, which has gained traction in advance of the holiday season, landing on numerous “Hot Toy” lists for 2021. 

Jazwares is snuggling up to new licensing partners for its plush brand Squishmallows. Their growing consumer products program is focused on categories including apparel, bedding and stationery. Just-signed licensees include Bioworld (apparel, loungewear, headwear, bags, socks, accessories), BigMouth (pool floats, cooler bags, beach chairs, pop-up tents), BBC International (footwear), Franco MFG (bedding, accessories)...

Lego has recently unveiled its new homeware line, inspired by its well-known toy blocks, in collaboration with Room Copenhagen, a Danish homeware design company. The wooden collection features life-size Legos that have been turned into desk drawers, wall hangers, picture frames and book racks. Every brick includes a set of Lego’s round knobs, and each knob comes printed with a small Lego logo.

RADIO FLYER,TESLA EXPAND PARTNERSHIP TO LAUNCH CYBERQUAD FOR KIDS. Radio Flyer is making a bigger push into the world of electric vehicles (EVs) with a $1,900 ATV. Following the success of its Tesla Model S ride-on that launched in 2016, the maker of iconic little red wagons is expanding its deal with Elon Musk’s Tesla for an all-new ride. The Radio Flyer Cyberquad for Kids is an aggressive-looking, high-performance...

Rollplay launches MINI Cooper Countryman ride-on. Rollplay has a new licensed ride-on toy – the MINI Cooper Countryman 6V. The vehicle includes details faithful to the original, with authentic MINI emblems, LED headlights, chrome detailing, clear windshield and side windows. It has a working foot pedal and shifter and can reach up to 2.5 mph in forward and reverse speeds. 

Prospero Hall reveals details of tabletop game ‘Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar’. Prospero Hall, the development studio of Funko Games, has created a legacy game based on the blockbuster entertainment franchise Jurassic World. Offering players more than 24 hours of customisable gameplay, ‘Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar’ will be launching on Kickstarter on March 22, 2022. 

LEGO expands Star Wars range with AT-AT setThe AT-AT (All Terrain Armored Transport), which first appeared in “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back,” is the latest launch in the LEGO Ultimate Collector Series (UCS).   Comprising of 6,785 pieces, moveable head, spinning guns, adjustable legs and side panels with detailed interiors, the AT-AT comes with 40 mini-figures, additional vehicles, accessories and a Luke Skywalker figure...

‘Bluey’ toys to launch in Italy and Greece following series’ debut on Rai Yoyo and ERT. Produced by Ludo Studio and co-commissioned by BBC Studios and ABC Children’s, the much-loved global-hit animation Bluey will make its free-to-air debut on 27 December in Italy on Rai Yoyo, the public broadcast service’s preschool channel. The series will also air on ERT in Greece. 

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People . . . 

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 management 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...

(the above posted after distribution of Bloom Report December 10th)

Jim Silver, ShopTalk, sits down with CEO of EastPoint Sports, Jonathan Berkowitz, to discuss the most exciting innovations and upcoming projects EastPoint Sports has in store! Hear all about their partnership with NERF to create NERF Laser Tag, their licensing with the MLB, NFL, and Skee-Ball, and their plans for their many brands/products such as Kan Jam, Foosball, Table Tennis, Billiards, Air Hockey & More!

IMC Toys appoints Michael Pisors as the new Head of Marketing as the company seeks to further its growth in the North American market. 

In his new role, Pisors is responsible for managing brand marketing strategies for all properties supported in the North American market, inclusive of Cry Babies, the #1 growth driver in the Special Feature Nurturing Doll category, as well as Cry Babies Magic Tears, VIP Pets and...

Matthew Berkowitz named president of Thunderbird.  Reporting to CEO Jennifer Twiner McCarron, Berkowitz will now head up M&A, production, distribution and IP acquisition for the entire company, on top of continuing to oversee Atomic Cartoons. Matthew Berkowitz is taking over as president of Thunderbird Entertainment, setting off a cascade of other promotions in the company’s kids, factual and scripted divisions. 

Alex Ries Joins Me & My Big Ideas as Chief Marketing Officer.  In her new role, Ries will be responsible for consumer and retail marketing, partnerships and licensing, and product development. Ries joins the company from Moose Toys U.S., where she served as senior vice president and head of marketing and strategy since 2017.

Moose Toys Bolsters Executive Ranks with 2 Internal Promotions The company behind Shopkins, Squeakee, and this year’s smash hit Magic Mixies promoted two of its staffers to new, C-level roles effective immediately. Ronnie Frankowski steps into the newly created role of chief commercial officer while Belinda Gruebner assumes the role of chief marketing officer.

This Spirograph Artist Brings Childhood Dreams to Adult Reality.  While many of us have likely dabbled with the Spirograph here and there as kids, few of us can say it’s an integral part of our everyday lives. Artist Rachel Evans — affectionately known by the internet as Spirograph Girl — is a part of these few, establishing herself as an artist by using the spirograph as her main tool.

Talkin’ Toys: Sport Bigs Breaks the Mold.  Earlier this year, Sport Bigs hit the scene with a goal to break the mold in the toy department. The Toy Book caught up with Sport Bigs founder and former USA Women’s Rugby star Pam Kosanke to find out what inspired her to create the first plush toy for young kids that celebrates athletes in women’s sports.

Talkin’ Toys: Pebble Gear Brings Kid-Friendly Tablets to the U.S. The company, which offers Disney-licensed kids’ tablets and accessories for kids ages 3-8, has a mission of helping kids safely take their first steps into technology. The Toy Book caught up with Marc-Alexander Knipschild, head of marketing at snakebyte group (parent company of Pebble Gear), about the company’s launch in the U.S., kid-safe tech toys, and...

“Power Kid Podcast,” host Phil Albritton of Power Kid Design welcomes David Gardiner, founder of Well Played Toys. Gardiner began his career at Hasbro and has since held executive roles at Basic Fun!, MEGA Brands, and more. As founder and president of Well Played Toys, Gardiner is developing products for kids and collectors alike with top licenses, including Lost In Space, Borderlands, SpongeBob Squarepants...

The Beeb’s commercial arm BBC Studios has hired former WarnerMedia EMEA exec Cecilia Persson to serve as its new managing director of children’s. Starting on January 1, Persson will step into her new role ahead of a planned amalgamation of BBC Children’s Productions and Studios that’s set to take place in April, and she’ll head up the new division as it transitions from the public service broadcaster to the commercial arm. 

Palos students’ Puppy Piñata wins 2021 Young Inventor Challenge.  Like other high-level learners, Lucy Pater and Kaylie Smit understand some of the engineering behind nifty inventions. But these two fourth graders in Palos Elementary School District 118 also know how to think like a dog. “I was trying to think of an idea that was different from everyone else’s idea, so I thought, what if I could do something humans love and dogs would also love,” said Lucy, who with Kaylie won in the category of Most Innovative Pet Toy. 

Alumna Amanda Bright’s Creative Career is a Toy Story.  Every day offers the sense of adventure and wonder of Christmas morning when you work in the toy industry like 2007 mechanical engineering alumna Amanda Bright. After all, who wouldn’t like to play with Harry Potter’s Hogwarts Castle or Batman’s Batcave as a profession? “What’s not exciting about it?” says Bright, senior director of product development engineering...

Former Sprout execs to lead Nevision's US push  Former president of the NBCUniversal kids channel Sandy Wax and former finance VP Vincent Gabriele will lead Nevision’s newly launching LA and New York offices as president and COO, respectively. They will report to the company’s executive chairman James Cabourne, who is based in the UK.

Spielwarenmesse podcast: an interview with Hape founder Peter Handstein  With the Nuremberg Toy Fair just weeks away, the Spielwarenmesse team have released their latest podcast. This time the subject is Hape, leading manufacturer of wooden toys sold in over 60 countries. Owner Peter Handstein has been committed to the issue of sustainability since he founded the business in the 1990s, and continues 

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Companies, Brands . . .  

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...

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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Vivid Goliath unveils world first with Recyclings collectibles. Launching across the UK and Eire from January, Recyclings are the first collectible made from recycled plastic. Distributed in a partnership with Headstart, Recyclings characters are made from 70% recycled plastic, with each Recycling saving 7 bottle caps from landfill, a move which Vivid Goliath says means guilt free collecting as well as educating kids on sustainability.

Ty Continues Air Freight Efforts to Deliver Plush to Retailers for Christmas.  Just 2 weeks after revealing that his company had been mitigating supply chain issues by turning to expensive air freight, Ty Warner says that Ty Inc. has completed a total of 283 flights. The leading supplier of plush toys, including Beanie Babies and Beanie Boos, began flying in product in Oct. in an effort to skip the much-publicized logjams as U.S. ports.

Hasbro’s Furby Returns to Help Shoppers Find Gifts. Doo-bi-doo-bi-doo … One of the hottest holiday gifts of the 1990s is back. Hasbro‘s Furby — launched by Tiger Electronics in 1998 — has joined Afterpay, the leading ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ platform, as the face and voice of its new Impossible Gift Finder. “We’re excited to give our classic brand, Furby, a fun comeback through our collaboration with Afterpay,” says Casey Collins,

The LEGO Group to Build Carbon-neutral Factory in Vietnam.  The company behind the iconic LEGO bricks and mini-figures inked a Memorandum of Understanding with Vietnam Singapore Industrial Park Joint Venture Company Limited (VSIP) to build a new, carbon-neutral factory in Vietnam, complete with a solar energy component. The first bricks are expected to roll off the assembly line in 2024

Hop Aboard Spin Master’s Newest STEAM Initiative. It’s full steam ahead for Spin Master’s newest project - a new STEAM-inspired initiative that aims to give kids and their families hands-on learning activities that mimic the art and science of toy-making. The Future of Play initiative features DIY activities that show kids how toys are made, going behind the scenes with simple STEAM experiences designed to inspire the next gen of play.

Bestway USA, Kid@Heart Launch Bestway Boutique. Beginning next year, a major player in the inflatable toys and leisure products space will be making its catalog more accessible than ever to the growing specialty market. Bestway USA teamed up with Kid@Heart to create the Bestway Boutique, a curated assortment of spring and summer inflatables that will be offered to independent toy stores and other specialty retailers...

CRA-Z-ART RAMPS UP EFFORTS FOR ‘MADE IN AMERICA’ TOYS; LAUNCHES ROSEART PUZZLES. LaRose Industries LLC — better known as Cra-Z-Art — is raising the flag to usher in a new era of American production.  The maker of toys, art supplies, craft kits, and school supplies is increasing its output of products Made in the USA by opening a second state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Jacksonville, Florida.

Genius Brands International following the pending acquisition of Canada’s WOW! Unlimited Media and strategic investment in Germany’s Your Family Entertainment AG (“YFE”) (FRA:RTV), has unveiled a bold new “block” of children’s animated series and expanded distribution for its international channels. The new lineup and branding is spearheaded by...

RECUR and Care Bears™ announced that they have signed a multi-year NFT partnership to bring the iconic brand of huggable bears from Care-A-Lot into the metaverse. As fans enter the Care Bears metaverse, they will not only discover the beloved original bears, but also brand new, never-before-seen Care Bears. 

JAKKS Pacific is officially a sponsor for the Roller Skating Association’s Kids Skate Free Program for holiday 2022. JAKKS Pacific is committed to improving the lives and well-being of children, making a sponsorship with Kids Skate Free a perfect way to give back to the community this holiday season. Kids Skate Free’s goal is to provide kids and families an outlet to improve physical and mental health while having fun in a safe...

London-based Moonbug Ent is expanding its footprint in the MENA region through a new partnership with Orbit Showtime Network (OSN). On Dec. 12, the pay-TV operator will launch a Moonbug Kids linear channel and streaming hub aimed at preschoolers. The new net is designed to give viewers 24/7 access to all of the prodco’s children’s titles, including CoComelon, Blippi, Morphle, Little Baby Bum...

ViacomCBS and South Korean media company CJ ENM have signed a new strategic partnership that will span the co-production of original series and films, content licensing for both brand libraries, and distribution on streamers operated by both ViacomCBS and CJ ENM.  Paramount+ will launch in South Korea in 2022 as part of a bundle with CJ ENM’s SVOD TVING, marking the platform’s first debut in an Asian market.

Every toy needs a child to love it: Allentown Toy Manufacturing Co. is closing its doors after over 70 years in business.  Mandated closures during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and rising costs of goods, coupled with a yearning from leadership to retire, led the family business to shutter its doors for good.

Simba Smoby Toys UK partners with with Good Play Guide for pre-Christmas drive  Three core areas of the Smoby/AquaPlay portfolio are featured within the campaign taking place in conjunction with Dr Gummer’s Good Play Guide. Mayur Pattni, marketing manager at Simba Smoby Toys UK, commented: “Taking the campaign and Dr Gummer’s endorsement straight to parents through the Good Play Guide website...

Canadian toy retailer Mastermind Toys just launched its first-ever brand campaign: “Let’s Play.” “We believe that the world is better at play and that as Canada’s authority on play, it was time for a call to action for more play. That’s where the concept for ‘Let’s Play’ came from,” says Susan Anderson, vice president, marketing and brand, Mastermind Toys. “We partnered with The Local Collective to help us bring to life the...

HUGE Play!, Epic Storyworlds ink deal for Gamebud expansionFollowing the launch of the GameBud Talking Tom this fall, HUGE Play! is attracting huge interest in its interactive technology. Epic Storyworlds, the sister company to Epic Story Media, put forth a strategic investment in HUGE! Play in an effort to extend the GameBud platform to include additional characters and stories. 

Add extra sparkle to the festive season with SmartGames’ latest releases. SmartGames, the manufacturer of multi-level logic games, has unveiled three new brain busters aimed at minds young and old – all with added sparkle. The trio of new products comprises Diamond Quest, “a true gem for players to dig into”, IQ Digits, a colourful number-crunching challenge, and Cubiq, a 3D puzzle with vibrant patterns. 

More 'Warhammer 40,000' old foes bundles incoming. Games Workshop will release two more old foes bundles for Warhammer 40,000, which are both on preorder as of Dec. 7. These two bundles let players relive the rivalry between the Iron Hands and the Emperor's Children. The Sons of Ferrus Manus are the forces of the Iron Hands in the Era Indomitus, and are known for their superiority of in the use of logic on the battlefield. 

Asmodee USA will release a new edition of 'Mascarade' into U.S. retail. Asmodee USA will release a new edition of Mascarade, a bluffing game by Repos Production, into U.S. retail on January 14, 2022. This game was first published in North America by Asmodee in 2013, and like many of their evergreen products over the last year, it's now getting a makeover.

Spidey and his amazing friends Squishmallows swing into Five Below. As the world prepares to enter the multiverse when Sony’s Spider-Man: No Way Home hits theaters on Dec. 17, the web-slinger and his crew are popping up in a new spot. Jazwares’ Kellytoy division recently launched a new range of Spider-centric Squishmallows inspired by the Disney Junior hit, Spidey and His Amazing Friends. 

Protect the city of Rowan in 'Monsters & Meeples'. Alderac Entertainment Group revealed Monsters & Meeples, a new bag-building engine game by Ole Steiness, for release into retail on April 1, 2022. In Monsters & Meeples, players need to defend the city of Rowan from a horde of invading monsters by recruiting warriors, clerics, knights, and mages to smite them. 

Ares will distribute 'First They Came'. Ares Games announced that they will distribute Italian publisher Chaos League's First They Came, a blindfolded roleplaying game, which will release into U.S. retail in Q1 2022. This innovative game is played essentially "in the dark" because players are blindfolded during sessions. 

Everypony get ready for an adventure with the Royal Racing Ziplines. Head to Zephyr Heights with the My Little Pony: A New Generation Movie Royal Racing Ziplines from Hasbro. The playset is 22-inches tall for big, movie-inspired fun. Kids can race their included Princess Petals pony and Cloudpuff pet figures down to the glittery stage with the colorful ziplines. 

Play backstabbing baby adventurers in 'MUNCHKIN'.  Steve Jackson Games revealed Munchkin Babies, a new Munchkin game, for release into retail in January 2022. In Munchkin Babies, players take on the roles of adorable, baby versions of the Munchkin adventurers who are looking to backstab and loot dungeons.  

MGA’s Dream Ella fashion doll brand makes debut. MGA Entertainment has announced the launch of MGA’s Dream Ella, a collectable and fashion doll brand that lets children #BeWhateverYouDream. MGA’s Dream Ella is a range of fantasy toys aimed at children aged 3 to 5 years, and it is the latest brand to join MGA Entertainment’s growing portfolio. 

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

Myth of Empires removed from Steam following stolen source code allegations. Sandbox strategy title Myth of Empires has been temporarily taken down from the Steam store following allegations that the game is built from source code belonging to another developer. As reported by PC Gamer, Studio Wildcard and Snail Games, developer and publisher of Ark: Survival Evolved, filed a DMCA takedown to have the title...

Zynga, Lucasfilm Games tease ‘Star Wars: Hunters’ game. Zynga and Lucasfilm Games debuted the first gameplay trailer for the upcoming competitive arena combat game, “Star Wars: Hunters.” Coming to Nintendo Switch and mobile devices in 2022, the game has entered soft launch on Google Play for Android devices in select markets and will be available in soft launch on the App Store early next year. 

A multiplayer Pac-Man game is coming to Facebook. Pac-Man Community is a new multiplayer-focused spin on the classic arcade game that you’ll be able to play right on Facebook. The main draw of Pac-Man Community is the ability to play co-op Pac-Man with up to three other people. Players work together to try to survive the pesky ghosts, but they’ll also be competing for the highest score. 

Pokemon Unite tops 50 million downloads in six months. Pokemon Unite has topped 50 million downloads since launching in July 2021. The freemium MOBA, which is developed by Tencent subsidiary Timi Studios, was initially rolled out on Nintendo Switch before arriving on Android and iOS devices in September. 

Report: PlayStation planning Xbox Game Pass-style subscription serviceSony is finalizing a new PlayStation subscription meant to give the platform its own Xbox Game Pass-style service that’s tentatively scheduled to launch next spring, Bloomberg reports. The current plan is apparently to combine PlayStation’s cloud-based gaming service PlayStation

Blizzard victim says she was demoted after reporting sexual harassment. Today, in front of Blizzard Entertainment’s Irvine, California headquarters, Christine (her last name withheld to protect her privacy) held a press conference in which she spoke about her experiences of sexual harassment and retaliation while employed at the embattled game developer.

Lawyer for Blizzard employee calls for victim compensation fund over $100m. Today a lawyer representing a Blizzard employee who allegedly was sexually harassed and then punished for reporting it said the company should establish a $100 million compensation fund for those whom have experienced the same. This was one of three demands made by attorney Lisa Bloom, who called on Activision Blizzard "to prioritize...

Blizzard employee will detail studio’s ‘alcohol-soaked culture’ in press conference. Lisa Bloom, the celebrity lawyer who represented Bill O’Reilley’s, Donald Trump’s, and Bill Cosby’s sexual assault accusers, as well as once advising Harvey Weinstein in his sexual assault case, has announced that she will be holding a press conference on behalf of one of the survivors involved in the numerous sexual assault, harassment,...

Treyarch QA employees join Raven Software and other devs in walkout. Worker advocacy group A Better ABK has shared news that Raven Software's QA team walkout has expanded to include workers from several other Activision Blizzard offices. These include its Texas and Minnesota-based operations, Blizzard QA, and most notably, all of the core QA workers at Treyarch. 

Blizzard Versailles employees continue to fight studio's closure. Former Blizzard Versailles employees are still negotiating their redundancy terms after the branch closed last year, with Activision Blizzard still embedded in legal investigations related to the closure. An in-depth investigation by French publication Gamekult into the closure of Blizzard Versailles pointed to several issues that are still unresolved, after 400  ...

Toy Safety & Counterfeit Related Articles . . .

Surgeons urge parents not to buy toys containing magnets for Christmas. The UK’s top paediatric surgeons have urged parents not to buy toys containing magnets this Christmas following a dramatic rise in children needing operations after swallowing them. The Children’s Surgery Foundation issued the warning after a five-fold increase in children swallowing the small, often brightly-colored and increasingly...

Trouble in Toyland: Warnings about knock-offs, toxic parts, second-hand toys. Finding the perfect gift may be even more difficult this year thanks to supply chain issues. Parents might resort to buying toys second-hand or buying from companies they typically would not. But the product safety group behind the Trouble in Toyland report warns parents that doing so can be dangerous. In October 2020, 52 percent of toy and game brands reported a spike in counterfeit items sold online. Toxic materials are the most common concern.

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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 . . . 

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.

(the above posted after distribution of the Bloom Report)

Oh what a night! The Fence Club Christmas Ball 2021. Over £25,000 was raised on the night, which will be distributed to the many children’s charities that the Fence Club supports. The festive season got into full swing on Saturday 4th December with the return of the much loved Fence Club Christmas Party after an enforced absence due to the pandemic. The return of this key social event in the toy industry calendar...

The Toy Association’s Genius of Play Initiative Launches Kid-Friendly Podcast.  The Genius of Play — The Toy Association’s nonprofit initiative that aims to help parents raise healthy and happy kids through play — launched a new podcast. “Once Upon a Playtime” is a storytelling podcast that shares personal stories from actors, artists, entrepreneurs, and more, inviting listene

The live event program for Kidscreen Summit 2022 in Miami (February 14 to 17) is now available online. Sessions focused on diversity and social-emotional learning—plus plenty of opportunities for face time with leading buyers—will be on offer to the annual event’s registered attendees. Key highlights include a deep-dive into social-emotional learning with execs from WarnerMedia, Gaumont and Sesame Workshop;...

First Games Industry Africa Awards winners announced. Games Industry Africa today announced the winners of the first Games Industry Africa Awards (GIAA). The organization's inaugural initiative aimed to recognize the "diverse portfolio of video games from the continent." Publisher Kiro'o Games led with the most category wins this year, which included Industry Innovation of the Year, Team of the Year, Most ...

Geoff Keighley says Activision Blizzard 'will not be part' of The Game Awards. The Game Awards host Geoff Keighley, has stated that Activision Blizzard will not be involved with this year's event. In a Twitter statement, Keighley wrote: "Beyond its nominations, I can confirm that Activision/Blizzard will not be a part of this year's The Game Awards. "The Game Awards is a time of celebration for this industry, the biggest...

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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.

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.

It was with these consoles that Uemura expanded his knowledge and began forming more ambitious hardware plans for a cartridge-based system. READ MORE . . . 

Sarah Ross - formerly Zynga's vice president of global communications, has died. The news was broken by GamesBeat, which spotted messages from friends and family under a status on Ross' Facebook page. Ross had been working for Zynga for almost three years, having joined from mobile developer Jam City, where she held the same position for over two years. She also previously held marketing roles at mobile games developer Backflip Studios, as well as firms such as Yahoo, TechCrunch and Flipagram.  Ross was the driving force behind Zynga's social impact campaign Play Apart Together, which encouraged people to observe social distancing guidelines during the pandemic and stay in touch by playing games with their friends.  The campaign secured support from over 40 major games companies and the World Health Organisation, and gained more than 4.7 billion consumer media impressions from around the world.  Other campaigns Ross worked on include the Breast Cancer Awareness Month initiative #WordsWithHope.  In a message to GamesBeat, Zynga president Bernard Kim said: "The entire Zynga family was deeply saddened to learn of the recent passing of Sarah Ross. Working with Sarah was a privilege. "We were in constant awe of her ingenuity, drive and compassion. Her mind and sheer will brought to reality incredible campaigns... She always went above and beyond and put others above herself.  "Her work at Zynga was groundbreaking and we'll miss her every day." In a tweet, Kim added: "Sarah was a force of nature at work and an incredible friend. We had amazing times together and I learned so much from her." 

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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. Make it make sense…it’s the Friday Blog!

  2. NPD reports that consumers waited for Black Friday to buy toys

  3. Vivid Goliath unveils world first with Recyclings collectibles

  4. Exclusive: Kids Know Best – context is everything

  5. Exclusive – Toy World congratulates Britains on 100 Years

  6. Exclusive: Letter from America – what a year for the indies!

  7. Moonbug brands to arrive in Asda this Christmas

  8. Animaccord’s special Masha and the Bear episode marks YouTube milestone

  9. GartenHaus acquires Outdoor Toys

  10. BTHA presents pair of Golden Teddy Awards

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

Rolling for Initiative -- When the Carrot Does Not Work for Clearing Port Congestion, and Publishers Who Schedule Events During the Holidays
Toys 'R' Us Opening Flagship Store
Flat River Group Gets Greater Than Games
Asmodee Invests in Exploding Kittens
TCGplayer Top 25 Sealed TCG Products (With Price Shifts) - November 2021
Wizards of the Coast Offers Retailers Free 'Magic: The Gathering' Box and Binder Labels
More 'Warhammer 40,000' Old Foes Bundles Incoming
'Pokemon' and 'Yu-Gi-Oh!' Stay Strong; 'Magic' Finds Top Ten Again
Delve into the 'Cults of Cthulhu'
Play Backstabbing Baby Adventurers in 'Munchkin'

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

TOYS Magazine (Germany) - posted once a month

The Bugg Report (Australia)

Casual Game Revolution

News Flash: Meeples & Monsters, Skull Canyon Ski Fest Announced
AEG and Pandasaurus Games have announced new games for 2022, and WizKids has released Dungeon Scrawlers: Heroes of Undermountain.

Video of the Week! 

Hidden Role Podcast

Listen to Marjorie Spitalnik, activist and Founder & CEO of Little Rebels, details her journey to make her toy line a reality; fighting sexism, highlighting lack of awareness of mental health, and spotlighting heroic women of history.

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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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