December 30, 2022 - January 6, 2023
Welcome to Your Weekly News Brief!
Happy Bloomin’ Friday!
Kicking off our first issue of 2023, I’m sharing a special POP Duo interview of Richard Dickson, President and COO of Mattel, by Kedar Narayan, our Young Inventor Challenge (YIC) Ambassador. Gene Murtha is spot on when he says:
“This POP Duo is a lovely conversation between one of the great visionaries of our time and a young boy who will make a difference in his time. As COO of Mattel, Richard Dickson has reenergized the great Mattel brand portfolio by connecting to the market and making toys “relevant" to today’s kids”. It is a joy to watch him engage with this 11 year-old boy, a former winner of the Young Inventor Challenge, who is guaranteed to make his mark one day. Kedar will remember this conversation, I think Richard will too! These are the kinds of people and ideas that makes our work noble.”
Kedar also enjoyed a behind the scenes tour of Mattel’s Design Center which we share below. While he was in LA for Mattel, he stopped by to meet Jim McCaffery of JMP. We will share that adventure next week!
YIC is expanding! We’ve partnered with ASTRA to bring YIC Workshops to member stores across the country. Join us on the ASTRA Toy Boat next month to hear more – hope to see many of you!
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Financial and Legal
Spin Master Corp. formally revealed its plans to acquire HEXBUG from Innovation First International. The pending deal is set to close next month and marks Spin Master’s 28th acquisition since its founding in 1994. HEXBUG launched in 2007 and has since expanded to include a robust portfolio of more than 100 toys, including buildable Nano playsets, licensed BattleBots, mechanical bugs, and HEXMODS R/C.
The online retail giant Amazon has announced that it is to close three of its UK warehouses; those in Hemel Hempstead, Doncaster and Gourock. At the same time, Amazon has also detailed plans to open two new sites in Peddimore (West Midlands) and Stockton-on-Tees (County Durham) which it says will create 2,500 new jobs. The 1,200 people affected by the closures will be offered roles at other warehouses around the country,
Private equity fund Balmoral Funds revealed that Enesco has been sold to Ad Populum. Based in Itasca, Illinois, Enesco is a leading designer and wholesaler of gifts, home accents, and collectibles. Since its founding in 1958, the company has sold a variety of owned, artist, and licensed brands, such as Department 56, Our Name Is Mud, Izzy & Oliver, Disney, Lolita, DC, and Jim Shore.
***The above posted after January 6th***
Moose Toys pursues strategic mergers and acquisitions to accelerate global growth. Moose Toys, a leading innovator in the toy industry, announced today the launch of a new business division focused solely on mergers and acquisitions. Led by Moose's global head of business development and industry veteran, Giles Musker, Moose's newly-formed M&A team is tasked with aggressive portfolio expansion...
Brunico Communications, the parent company of brands such as Kidscreen, Playback and Realscreen, has acquired the assets of the National Association of Television Programming Executives (NATPE). The sale includes the US-based trade body’s international content markets, conferences and events—NATPE Global, NATPE Budapest, NATPE Streaming+ and the Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Awards.
Jakks Pacific has disclosed being impacted by a ransomware attack after having its stolen data exposed by the Hive and BlackCat ransomware operations, reports The Record, a news site by cybersecurity firm Recorded Future. In a letter sent to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Jakks Pacific said that its servers have been encrypted on Dec. 8, and while "containment protocols" were leveraged...
Meta’s Ad Practices Ruled Illegal Under E.U. Law. The decision is one of the most consequential issued under the E.U.’s landmark data-protection law and creates a new business headwind for the social media giant. Meta suffered a major defeat on Wed. that could severely undercut its Facebook and Instagram advertising business after European Union regulators found it had illegally forced users to effectively...
A group of video game testers is forming Microsoft’s first labor union in the U.S., which will also be the largest in the video game industry. Communications Workers of America said Tuesday that about 300 quality-assurance workers at Microsoft video game subsidiary ZeniMax Studios have voted to join the union. Microsoft already told the CWA it would accept the formation of the union at its Maryland-based...
Amazon to axe 18,000 jobs as it cuts costs. Amazon plans to cut more than 18,000 jobs, the largest number in the firm's history, as it battles to save costs. The online giant, which employs 1.5 million people globally, did not say which countries the job cuts would hit, but said they would include Europe. Most of the job losses will come from its consumer retail business and its human resources division.
UK regulator extends deadline for investigation into Microsoft's Activision Blizzard deal. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has extended the deadline for its investigation into Microsoft's proposed $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard. The CMA is the UK competition regulator that pledged to investigate the deal over concerns the move could harm competition by locking off major franchises …
Toho International to acquire stake in Genius Brands content. Genius Brands International, through its WOW! Unlimited Media subsidiary, Frederator Network, has announced a deal with TOHO International, whereby TOHO International is making a multimillion-dollar investment to acquire a 50% stake in two of the company’s original productions, “Bee and PuppyCat” and “Bravest Warriors.”
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***The above posted after January 6th***
Trends, Market Research, and State of the Industry
Netherlands - More retail spaces converted into homes bringing retail vacancy to 10-year low. “It also applies to the toy industry,” Locatus director Gertjan Slob said, according to NOS. “In 2004, our country still had over 1,100 toy shops, of which there were still over 600 left. Now we can see from the figures that the number of toy shops is rising slightly again.
All eyes were focused on Roblox last year, but in 2023, UK research firm Dubit says the industry should pay attention to Fortnite Creative. The gaming platform is evolving into a space where users can make and play their own games, and it could become a new hot spot for kids.
***the above posted after January 6th***
ICV2 columnist Scott Thorne takes stock of the big events in the hobby games business in 2022.
WHAT'S AHEAD FOR THE COMICS BUSINESS IN 2023? Column by Rob Salkowitz
Stories, Comments, and Advice
Ice Bath Business Meetings Are a Thing Now, Apparently. In a recent article from The NY Times, executives report preferring to address workplace challenges after “[spending] 6 mins in icy cold water, breathing through the pain.” At nouveau social wellness clubs, like BIÂN, Remedy Place and Bathhouse, executives are able to catch up, exorcise the demons of a flubbed deal, and even interview job applicants…all while...
Mom Goes Viral After Finding Daughter On Roblox To Ask Her To Defrost Lasagna For Dinner. Chariel Watson and daughter play the online game together all the time — which proved helpful when the 11-year-old wasn't answering her mom's calls. Instead of bothering with a voicemail, Watson went on Roblox and found Miracle just before the 11-year-old sped off in a virtual car.
In his Toy World column this month, Jonathan Chambers from Generation Media examines the outlook for 2023 and how to achieve marketing success in tough times. Jonathan reflects on how since the global outbreak of Covid early 2020, the industry has been subject to unprecedented change and hoped for a more optimistic 2022, which didn’t quite happen. Having launched Generation Media during the last ...
Inside The Secretive World Of Shark Tank Deals: Who The Real Winners Are. After sharing his “American Dream” story about immigrating from Kyiv, Ukraine to New York and starting his toy business—a Lego competitor in which every block is the same shape, allowing users to create complex, 3D models—O’Leary offered the young entrepreneur a typically sharky deal: He’d give Smolyanskyy $100,000 in return for half of the...
Much of the tech at CES is ready for primetime, but we also get a glimpse of the big ideas that may or may not come to fruition. Here are some of the more intriguing concepts from the show. CES is typically where you get a first glimpse at the technology that will be hitting store shelves in the coming year. But many companies use the show as a way to preview concepts or show off prototype technology that may not...
A stunning shape-shifting screen from Samsung and a flying car that may soon actually hit the streets (skies?) were among our favorite highlights of CES 2023. The world's biggest consumer electronics show is back and, for the first time since 2020, that means prowling an actual show floor in Las Vegas. CNET has been on the ground, sifting through the big reveals from companies like Samsung, LG, Intel, Nvidia, Razer...
Disney Princesses Return to Mattel as Barbie Maker’s Turnaround Ambitions Grow. A line of dolls hitting the shelves this weekend will test whether the new design mojo is working. Nearly a decade after losing the Walt Disney Co.’s princess doll license to rival Hasbro Inc., Mattel is back to making and selling the doll versions of some of Disney’s iconic characters.
A teacher in Melbourne, Australia is gaining worldwide attention after making handmade toys for her students based on the drawings they created in their classroom. Reid Parker, a student’s parent, posted the photos on social media to "share how wonderful they [the toys] were." "I guess it came at the right time of the year, because it became a very widespread story and captured the hearts of a lot of people,"...
***The above was posted after January 6th***
John Baulch, Toy World - Starting the New Year with a bang …it’s the Friday Blog! Happy New Year everyone (I assume it’s still ok to say that a week into the New Year?). I hope you all had a wonderful festive season and you’re feeling fully recharged and ready to face whatever fun and frolics 2023 has in store for us. There have been a few negative stories in the press about post-Christmas retail footfall across the UK...
Nude pickleball is … er, um … busting out all over. Naturist resorts from coast to coast are finding out that nudists want more pickleball – just like the majority of people who don’t do their dinking in the raw. Nude pickleball is beating the pants off its competition. Clothing-optional resorts are advertising their pickleball facilities, holding tournaments, and putting in more courts to meet the demand.
Pickleball banned in NY park as players and parents fight over turf. Earlier this year, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation was trying to accommodate the influx of people playing America’s fastest-growing sport — part tennis, part ping-pong and all the frenzy. To that end, officials eliminated two pickleball courts in Cpl. John A. Seravalli Playground, a one-acre park in the heart of Manhattan’s West Village.
Steve Reece: Toy Industry 2023: Global Outlook...4 Key Factors. Many of us in the Toy & Game business will be delighted to finally see the back of 2022. Coming out of the sharp end of the Covid-19 pandemic, we hoped for so much in 2022, but it just became more and more difficult as the year progressed. Between ongoing Covid lockdowns in China through to loss of revenues in Russia after their terrible invasion...
Still friends to the end: the evolution and endless appeal of killer doll movies. Chucky, Annabelle, and M3gan all make rotten playthings, but that doesn’t stop moviegoers from pulling them from the toy chest. America loves its toys to death, at least if movies are any indication. Since the 1987 introduction of the murderous doll Chucky, killer toys have been a staple of the cineplex. Despite the modest returns of the Child’s Play...
How a new generation of gamers is pushing for inclusivity beyond the table. For decades, players of tabletop roleplaying games (TTRPGs) have used dice, pens and paper to engage in a form of entertainment that combines collective storytelling with strategic puzzle-solving and combat simulation. Once considered a niche hobby, these types of games are experiencing a boost in mainstream visibility thanks to series...
Pinterest Predicts. People use Pinterest to plan for the future. That means we know what’s next. In fact, for the last three years, 80% of our report predictions came true.¹ This isn’t another year-end trend report. This is a not-yet-trending report—a window into the future, from the place where people go to plan it. Let’s look forward to 2023. This is Pinterest Predicts.
How the Barbie Movie Could Set the Record Straight. The few brief glimpses we get of the film make it clear that Barbie is taking a lot of inspiration from the toy line, from outfits to the brightly colored world itself. But it’s not just Barbie’s aesthetics that will be in the movie — it’s her spirit, or rather, the spirit of her creators. Barbie is largely viewed as the quintessential “girl toy,” and the brand has been criticized for being ...
From the Bloom Report - The Top 22 POP Featured Articles of 2022! Thank you and congratulations to the authors of these most viewed articles (industry commentary, interviews and more) of 2022!
Hasbro’s holiday season was likely among ‘weakest in the North American toy industry’ amid ‘COVID hangover,’ analyst says. Toy maker Hasbro Inc.’s holiday-season sales were likely among “the weakest in the North American toy industry,” an analyst said Wednesday, citing a lack of enthusiasm for things like Play-Doh, action figures, Nerf and My Little Pony that will put more pressure on the company’s performance this year.
India’s toy exports surge but still 200 times smaller than China’s. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic in August 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi exhorted that India can become a global toy hub. In July 2021, he rued the fact that about 80% of the toys were imported, with crores of rupees going abroad, calling on people to be “vocal for local toys”. In July 2022, he announced that India’s exports of toys surged from ₹300-400...
Empathy key to Palos fourth grader's Inventor Challenge win. Three Palos area students won in their divisions after submitting games they created to the 17th Annual Young Inventor Challenge. Carrie Martinez, who taches the class at Palos West, said it’s about more than just making entertaining games. “Aside from being fun, engaging, and meaningful, the Young Inventor Challenge builds and reinforces sophisticated practices such as critical and creative thinking, problem-solving, and leadership,” she said. “These essential skills are needed to be successful in the 21st century.”
History and Nostalgia
Monopoly Was Designed to Teach the 99% About Income Inequality. The story you’ve heard about the creation of the famous board game is far from true. I spent 5 yrs researching the game’s history for my new book, The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World’s Favorite Board Game, and found that Monopoly’s story began decades earlier, with an all-but-forgotten woman named Lizzie Magie, an artist...
***The above was posted after January 6th***
A Brief History of America’s Most Popular Table Top Dice Games. Despite the rise of online gaming, or perhaps because of it, tabletop games remain incredibly popular. From classics like backgammon to longstanding Table Top Role Playing Games (TTRPGs) like Dungeons and Dragons, these games are enjoyed by millions worldwide. Ever wondered about the origins of your favorite dice games?
Who first thought of Nintendo Game Boy? The Nintendo Game Boy debuted in Japan on April 21, 1989. It was designed by Nintendo’s Gunpei Yokoi and featured an 8-bit handheld console that supported interchangeable cartridges but only displayed games in 4 colors. On July 31, 1989, the Game Boy was bundled with Tetris and released in the U.S. On August 1, 1992, Kirby’s Dream Land became the first Nintendo game...
The Jetsons Game from Milton Bradley (1985). Released in 1985 by Milton Bradley, The Jetsons Game takes kids on a cosmic adventure in search of their favourite Jetsons characters. The Jetsons animated series was produced by Hanna-Barbera and originally aired from September 1962 to March 1963. The show followed the lives and adventures of the Jetson family — George, Judy, Jane, and Elroy.
Queasy Bake Mixerator from Hasbro (2002). The Queasy Bake Mixerator was advertised as a way for kids to “make goopy, gooey, nasty looking drinks that taste great!” Released in 2002 by Hasbro, the Queasy Bake Mixerator was a blender designed to complement the Queasy Bake Cookerator.
Monogram (1981). Founded in 1945 in Chicago, Illinois, Monogram got its start in the model business through balsa-wood model kits and rubber-band-powered airplanes. To match its competitors, the company eventually turned to plastic and plastic-injection machines to fabricate its lines of small and large-scale model cars, ships, and planes.
Top 10 Toy Tales Articles of 2022. 2023 has finally arrived – the perfect time for a top-10 list of the most popular articles on Toy Tales in 2022. The list was curated based on site activity and engagement through various social media channels. If you missed them the first time, this is your chance to see what you missed. If you read them before, it’s worth taking another look! Little Miss No-Name from Hasbro (1965).
These are the most popular toys from the past 50 years, based on study. A blast from the past! A new study from Wishlisted, a lifestyle website, revealed which toys from the past 50 years have withstood the test of time and are still popular among children. Researchers analyzed Argos, NPD Group, and The Toy Association data to determine the ranking.
Licensing and Entertainment
The newest signing for Nottingham Forest seems to be none other than Nexcube from Vivid Goliath, which this week made social media headlines as the newest addition to the expanding Premier League squad within the January transfer window. With a video released on his IG Reels, Brazilian midfield maestro Gustavo Scarpa filmed the team trying to master the clubs’ puzzling new addition as teammate Neco Williams...
Mondo TV Studios has inked a licensing deal with V-Me Media to air its animated shows in the U.S. The TV shows included in the agreement include The Drakers, a show about high-tech race car drivers; Dinofroz, a show where four friends travel dimensions using a board game to help save a dimension ruled by dinosaurs; and Bat Pat 2, which is a supernatural adventure with a talking bat and his human friends
Hasbro’s Potato Heads are timeless toys, and with the help of Mighty Jaxx, it’s bringing young Stella Peaches’ Potato Head design to an actual collectible. 9-yr-old Stella is the daughter of Stikki Peaches, a well-known graffiti and print artist with celebrity fans, such as Lady Gaga. Stella’s Potato Head will be available at a much more general consumer price than Stikki’s works — Mighty Jaxx is selling the collectible on its...
Funko’s first co-branded retail store is open for business. This past Friday, Funko hosted the grand opening of Tha Dogg House, a collaborative retail experience developed in partnership with multi-hyphenate Snoop Dogg. Fans showed up in mass to celebrate Snoop’s exciting lifestyle and iconic pop culture moments in his career at the unique retail location — which is aptly located in Inglewood, California.
A “Dungeons & Dragons” live-action series has been ordered at Paramount+, Variety has confirmed. Rawson Marshall Thurber wrote the pilot for the series and will direct the first episode. Paramount+ has given the show an eight-episode order. The series is a co-production between eOne and Paramount Pictures, with eOne serving as the lead studio. Exact plot details, including what elements of the “Dungeons & Dragons”...
Moominvalley heads into season four with a new co-producer. Finland’s YLE and Sky in the UK have renewed Helsinki-based Gutsy Animations’ flagship series Moominvalley for a fourth season. Viaplay Group has also just joined the team behind this CG-animated series based on a series of books and comics by writer/illustrator Tove Jansson and her brother Lars. The Swedish mediaco will co-produce the fourth season...
Sesame Street Mecha Builders heads to Milkshake! The STEM-based spinoff will be localized for preschool viewers in the UK with British accents for all secondary characters. The British broadcaster has picked up CG-animated series Sesame Street Mecha Builders, which will make its UK debut in Five’s Milkshake! preschool block with all of its supporting characters speaking with a British accent in order to appeal to local viewers.
WildBrain CPLG Partners with the Playmobil Brand for Global Licensing Representation. WildBrain CPLG, a world-leading entertainment, sport and brand licensing agency, is to handle worldwide rights of Playmobil as the masteThe partnership spans across both the core and franchise Playmobil brands from the Horst Brandstätter Group, including Wiltopia, Novelmore, Adventures of Ayuma, and more.
CARLIN WEST AGENCY INKS LICENSING DEAL WITH WORLD OF TANKS. WOT is an online multiplayer vehicular combat game that is played worldwide and currently has more than 160 million users. The game features historically and technologically accurate tanks and offers players over 600 armored vehicles to choose from. Each tank has its own strengths and weakness that impact the overall gameplay.
Genius Brands International (GBI) is tapping into the popularity of online gaming platform Roblox with a new competitive reality series. Aimed at tweens, Kidaverse Roblox Rumble (10 eps between eight and 15 minutes long) will follow a group of contestants ages eight to 12 as they compete for a grand prize of US$1,000.
India’s GOODTIMES has signed on to sell South Korean animation studio YouNeedCharacter’s CricketPang in the region. The distributor will focus on securing broadcast deals for the 2D-animated series, which has dubs available in English, Hindi and Tamil. Targeting preschoolers, CricketPang is about a group of animal pals who play the bat-and-ball sport of cricket—which is hugely popular in India.
Toonz Media Group and India’s ELE Animations are betting that a gang of skeletal pranksters will have the “legs” to travel internationally in a new 2D-animated series co-pro they currently have in pre-production. Drac and Skeletons kicks off when three silly young skeletons move into Count Dracula Junior’s castle and refuse to leave, instigating a hijinx-fuelled feud that drives its episodic storylines for four- to seven-year-olds.
Moonbug Entertainment continues to expand the Blippi franchise with the addition of Juca, the second Blippi Buddy to be added to the franchise. Building on the success of Meekah, Blippi’s first buddy, Juca is a live-action show set in Brazil, which is currently the largest market for the franchise outside the US. Juca launches via a distribution deal with Warner Brothers Discovery in Brazil as well as globally on YouTube...
The Toy Book can exclusively reveal that WeCool and Jacklyne have inked a three-year extension of their deal to develop and market products from the Compound Kings and ILY Activity Kings brands. Jacklyne boasts nearly two million followers on TikTok in addition to a robust digital presence on YouTube and Instagram garnering millions of views and likes.
Play-Doh, the trusted #1 brand in arts and crafts, Nickelodeon, and Paramount Consumer Products announce their partnership to create the ultimate and iconic Slime for kids and adults. Have the slime of your life with the satisfying sensory experiences of the 2023 product line up including a variety of slime textures, big volume, and customizing kits.
***The above posted after January 6th***
Mattel unveils all-new Disney Princess and Disney Frozen dolls. Mattel has revealed its all-new line up for Disney Princess and Disney Frozen for the first time. The Disney dolls range celebrates the magical adventures of Disney Princess and Disney Frozen with attention to detail, impressive execution and fresh thinking, bringing iconic characters and stories to life via what Mattel is calling ‘rich systems of play that spark...
Super Impulse is releasing Poptaters... The time-honored Hasbro Potato Heads will be getting a pop culture mash-up spotlighting everything from celebrities to fictional characters. The first release features musician Gene Simmons of KISS, Optimus Prime from Transformers, The Joy of Painting host Bob Ross, and Garbage Pail Kid Adam Bomb. Each Potato Head character has the usual interchangeable parts, so characters...
The LEGO Group celebrates 100 years of Disney. The LEGO Group will be helping Disney to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2023 by inviting families to share the wonder of storytelling, imagination and creative play that Lego Disney has inspired over the last 24 years. The two long-standing partners will honour fan-favourite Disney moments, capture the magic of exciting new Disney stories and bring friends...
Mighty Jaxx releases Freeny’s Hidden Dissectibles: Minions. Mighty Jaxx has announced the release of a new set of Minions collectibles. The collection, Freeny’s Hidden Dissectibles: Minions (Vacation Edition), features the Minions in beach attire. Carl is listening to tunes and Jerry has balloons. The collection, available at Mightyjaxx.com, also includes Dave, the Evil Minion, Phil, Stuart and an ultra-rare King Bob.
The Loyal Subjects expands Marvel partnership. The Loyal Subjects, a brand focused on creating lineups of detailed figures based on fandom’s biggest properties, has announced their expanded partnership with Marvel, with an extension to their Marvel Superama line.
Marvel fans can now experience their favorite characters in Superama form.
Star Wars has been used to sell some weird-ass products. Before the prequel trilogy released in the late ‘90s/early noughties and Disney bought LucasFilm for an exorbitant amount of money in 2015, Star Wars licensing was a bizarre no man’s land. While I was, admittedly, a bit too young to recall anything other than plastic lightsabers and scratchy Padme Amidala headpieces, thanks to a tweet from gaming historian...
New YuMe Toys capsules celebrate Disney 100. YuMe Toys‘ celebratory Disney 100 Surprise Capsules are packed with hidden surprises that the company says will ‘wow’ Disney fans and families across the world wanting to celebrate the landmark anniversary. The range commemorates Disney’s most iconic and loved characters from its 100-year legacy.
First look: Universal Studios Hollywood powers up with Super Nintendo World. In 1981 Shigeru Miyamoto created a video game character whose entire personality was contained in what the designer first described as "16 dots by 16 dots." As that character evolved, those pixels would comprise red suspenders, a pouch of a tummy, an oversize nose, a bushy mustache and eventually a whole lot of jumpy pluckiness...
Toonz Media Group and ELE Animations Join Forces on Spooky Chase Comedy “Drac and Skeletons”. Global kids and family entertainment major Toonz Media Group has partnered with India’s ELE Animations Pvt Ltd to co-produce Drac and Skeletons, both companies said in a joint statement. Developed and owned by Toonz and ELE, it has an international appeal for kids 4 to 7 years old.
Genius Brands Grows ‘Stan Lee’ Business for 100th Birthday Celebration. In celebration of the legendary Stan Lee’s 100th birthday, Genius Brands International, the controlling partner of ‘Stan Lee Universe’, owner of all rights to the name, voice, likeness, signature, licensing of Stan Lee and certain post-Marvel IP, signed an agreement to co-executive produce a documentary on the life of Stan Lee that will debut on Disney+.
People of Play
LA’s Invisible Universe has brought in Shane Mang, Spin Master’s former director of global sales and outbound licensing, as its first head of licensing. Mang is tasked with developing and launching new consumer products programs for the web-first animation company’s roster of entertainment brands, with an immediate focus on Serena Williams’ Qai Qai—Invisible Universe’s first and most established IP...
Build-A-Bear Workshop is continuing its digital revamp with a new hire - Dara Meath as its new Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer... Meath will lead Build-A-Bear Workshop’s tech team and lead the way in the company’s digital transformation. Meath previously worked as Divisional Chief Information Officer, Leader of Data, Digital and E-Commerce at Conair, where she worked on global information...
GENIUS BRANDS UNITES CONSUMER PLATFORMS, TAPS TODD STEINMAN TO LEAD GENIUS NETWORKS. “Consolidating our consumer platforms under Todd’s proven leadership gives us the ability to grow our brands globally, increase revenue, and maximize profits more quickly,” says Andy Heyward, Chairman and CEO at Genius Brands.
Chefclub — Europe’s leading food-themed content studio — announced five new toy distribution partnerships across several countries. The brand will partner with White Knight Toys in the U.S., Autruche in Canada, Hutter Trade in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, JPM Toys in Benelux, and CMC in the Middle East.
Stephane Madi, formerly Head of Ravensburger Canada, steps into the role of CEO at Ravensburger North America to oversee the business in the U.S. and Canada. Concurrently, Filip Francke takes the lead as Global Head of Games with plans to grow the company’s business around the world as it prepares to enter the trading card game (TCG) market with Disney Lorcana this fall.
***The above posted after January 6th***
Chief Wagon Officer Robert Pasin ND ’91 keeps Radio Flyer’s wheels turning. Holding his father’s big hand, Robert Pasin walked around the Radio Flyer factory for the first time when he was 5 — starry-eyed, like a kid at Disney World. “Hearing the sound of the punch brasses and the smell of the paint, and seeing all these wagons on a conveyor line,” Pasin ’91 says today. “It just seemed very magical to me.”
Funko EMEA has confirmed a slew of new hires as it proceeds with its efforts to bolster all areas of its rapidly growing business. Marketing. Sam Wilson joins Funko EMEA’s marketing team as marketing director, bringing with her a wealth of industry knowledge and marketing experience. For over 15 yrs, Sam has worked for high profile brands in the toy industry including LeapFrog and, most recently, MGA Entertainment.
Experienced toy buyer Neil Mitchell has joined online toy specialist retailer BargainMax in the role of senior buyer. Neil, who is well-known to the toy community through previous roles at Very and most recently Home Bargains, takes up his new position as from today. He can be contacted on email@example.com.
Enrico Groeneveld joins Gibsons as international business development manager. Enrico has moved to Gibsons Games from Jumbodiset, where he spent six years as managing director, to support the company’s growth plans. Gibsons Games has welcomed Enrico Groeneveld to the Gibsons team as international business development manager.
The Top 22 POP Profiles of 2022. These are the most visited profiles because…
The skills and expertise they have included in their profiles are searched often. For example, A&E's History Channel joined POP and used the Skills & Expertise search feature, to find experts for their show, The Toys that Built America.
They write popular articles on POP. For example, the Barbie articles Rana Schenke posted when she was our POP intern are still top performers from clicks on her profile as author.
Their compelling Fun Facts fuel our popular game, 3 Truths and Lie, and players click over to their profiles.
They are Googled, and the POP SEO shows them highly ranked on our POP website. For example, when The Toys that Built America broadcast the Marvin Glass story, new traffic on POP drove Marvin Glass straight to the top.
Companies and Brands
Mattel is giving preschoolers a new age-appropriate Barbie doll that it says is better suited for their needs. The doll, called “My First Barbie,” is specifically created for kids three years old and older, said Lisa McKnight, executive vice president and global head of Barbie and dolls for Mattel. The age range for the original Barbie fashion dolls is for kids 3 and up. “We talk to parents and kids almost every day. Interestingly...
Hasbro has been named one of America’s Most Just Companies by Just Capital, along with media partner CNBC. The rankings are the only comprehensive evaluation of how the nation’s largest corporations perform on the issues that matter most to Americans today across five stakeholders: workers, communities, customers, shareholders and governance, and the environment.
A First Look Inside the Incredible Super Mario Brothers-Themed Restaurant. Power up with a Princess Peach Cupcake, Toadstool Cheesy Garlic Knots, and even a Piranha Plant Caprese when Toadstool Cafe opens at Universal Studios Hollywood. A collaborative effort between Nintendo, Universal Studios Hollywood, and Universal Studios Japan, Toadstool Cafe takes many of its design and culinary cues from sister...
Make It Real Launches Latest Innovation – Friendship Bracelet Maker. This item is the latest in the Make It Real roster of award-winning products that include the Color Fusion Nail Polish Maker, Sticker Chic: Rainbow Chic, and the 5 in 1 Activity Tower. The Friendship Bracelet Maker marks the first of its kind and offers tweens the opportunity to create complex bracelets with an easy-to-follow guide.
Shashibo is Now Going Wild with New Series. Building on the ongoing success of Shashibo as the industry’s #1 creative fidget toy, Fun in Motion Toys has now introduced its Wild Series, with four new cubes featuring our planet’s unique environments: Arctic, Forest, Jungle and Savanna. Nature’s secrets can be puzzling, so what better way explore them than collecting and connecting all of them with Shashibo Wild?
Starting on March 1, the Walt Disney Company will require employees to report to the office four days a week, a relatively strict policy among large companies. Robert A. Iger, who came out of retirement in Nov. to retake Disney’s chief executive reins, said in a memo to employees on Monday that a return to mostly in-person work — for the first time in nearly 3 yrs — would benefit the company’s culture in general and...
Tomeka Purcell Creates ‘Morgan’ Doll Line and Book Series to Improve Financial Literacy in African American Communities. The disparity in financial literacy is greatest among African Americans. According to the 2022 TIAA Institute-GFLEC Personal Finance Index, African Americans answered 37% of the study’s financial literacy questions correctly, whereas White Americans answered 55% percent of questions correctly.
Douglas Adds to Their Soft Doll Collection. In February 2022, Douglas added an adorably sweet, Soft Doll collection to their plush line-up. February 2023 will see three new darlings join the family. All of Douglas’ Soft Dolls have precious embroidered facial features, sewn on, quality-made clothing and are completely machine washable.
Opening in November, Hamleys’ new store in Westfield London has already proved a great attraction at the popular shopping destination, bringing with it all the magic and theatre that Hamleys is known for. In the run up to Christmas, the 11,000sq ft wonderland experienced brisk trading with Daniel King, Hamleys’ trading manager, UK & ROI telling Toy World how it had been primed for success...
As Paramount gets set for a big year in 2023, Venetia Davie, VP Consumer Products, UK & Ireland, ANZ and Israel tells Sam Giltrow how its wide-ranging content is boosting toy sales. Some significant milestones will be celebrated by Paramount this year across its hottest properties, including the return of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to the big screen and a movie sequel for its ever popular Paw Patrol, which also celebrates...
Warner Bros Discovery (WBD) CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels told Citi’s 2023 media conference “the [streaming] industry had gone overboard and went on a spending frenzy. There was a lot of thinking of, ‘Let’s do more, more, more,’ not necessarily, ‘Let’s do the exact right things, let’s do what works’.’” Wiedenfels said the company was focusing on “relaunching and building” the business over the next 12 months, following...
BABIES “R” US RETURNS TO THE U.S. WITH FLAGSHIP STORE AT AMERICAN DREAM. Following the relaunch of Toys “R” Us in the U.S. with a flagship store at American Dream in Bergen County, New Jersey, and last year’s rollout of Toys “R” Us at Macy’s, WHP Global is officially relaunching Babies “R” Us in the U.S. Babies “R” Us will open its first U.S. flagship store this summer at American Dream.
The LEGO Group is expanding its Botanical Collection with two new sets: the Dried Flower Centerpiece, a red, orange, and yellow fall arrangement that can be put on the table or hung on the wall, and the Wildflower Bouquet, a group of eye-popping flowers of different shapes and sizes that can be displayed in a vase.
This Tiny Japanese Folding E-Bike From Toy Designers Is An Unreliable Car's Best Friend . "Given the Tatamel’s nifty folding nature, it shouldn’t be surprising to hear that the company’s founders used to work for Takara Tomy, the Japanese maker of Transformers toys. Not only do the wheels and handlebars fold up for compact storage, the whole folded package measures just 27.2 inches by 27.2 inches by 10.2 inches.
***The above posted after January 6th***
Hasbro has unveiled the first publishing lineup from “Learn with Peppa” – a new worldwide brand extension that builds on Peppa Pig’s alignment with learning. With help from early years specialists, the “Learn with Peppa” program’s learning framework includes seven categories that cover a broad mix of topics to help little ones understand the world around them: My Body, Creativity, Math, English, Emotions, Our...
9 fascinating details hidden inside Barbie Dreamhouses throughout history. When the Barbie Dreamhouse debuted, it was a vision of a bachelorette pad for a woman unmoored from the expectations of her day. In 1962, women were not yet allowed to have their own bank accounts, so they were not often purchasing their own homes. "But here is Barbie, owning her own Dreamhouse," Kim Culmone, Mattel's SVP...
Wizards of the Coast, most well-known for tabletop games like Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons and Dragons, revealed that it is scaling back its video game production and will be canceling several video games that were under development. It’s reported that at least five video game projects will be canceled. Wizards is a subsidiary of Hasbro Inc., which suffered from a shares drop of 40% last year.
American Girl unveiled its 2023 Girl of the Year and in a brand first, the title goes to a South Asian doll. Kavi Sharma, an Indian American from NJ, loves to sing, dance and hang out with her friends. Just a short train ride away, her favorite place to visit is NYC — specifically Broadway. Kavi, who takes weekly classical Indian dance classes, and her tight-knit family also celebrate their culture through holidays, food and clothing.
Hasbro relaunches Cluedo board game. Hasbro, Inc. has announced that the iconic mystery-solving board game Cluedo, known in the US as Clue, has received a refresh that combines classic Cluedo gameplay with new takes on the original murder mystery storyline, an intriguing diverse cast, highly-stylised game pieces and the glamorous Tudor Mansion. The next chapter of Cluedo is now available at most major retailers.
LEGO’S Hokusai – The Great Wave continues appeal to kidult market. LEGO continues its efforts to appeal to adult fans with a new set featuring the iconic Hokusai art piece, The Great Wave off Kanagawa. The set, retailing at $99.99, is designed to be displayed after being built and is recommended for ages 18 and up. The original early 1830’s woodblock print of The Great Wave is an incredibly influential piece of art.
UNO Flex is a new spin on traditional UNO. The incredibly successful Mattel card game UNO is expanding with UNO Flex. UNO Flex has similar rules to regular UNO, but incorporates new Flex Cards that let players change the color or action of a card. For example, the “flex” option on a Draw 4 card will allow the card user to pick which player they’d like to have Draw 4, rather than just it being the next player in turn order.
Buffalo Games, Big Potato join forces in new distribution pact for the U.S. and UK. Buffalo Games and Big Potato have inked a deal to distribute each other’s products throughout the U.S. and UK. Effective immediately, New York-based Buffalo Games will work to expand Big Potato’s reach in the States while London-based Big Potato will do the same for Buffalo Games across the pond.
NERF Blasts into 2023 with All-New NERF Elite Junior Blaster Line. NERF has entered the new year with some huge news that will help Unleash the Play in You. For the first-time ever, the brand is introducing a brand-new NERF blaster segment for rookies ages 6 years and up with the NERF Elite Junior line! This collection of easy-play NERF blasters is designed for boys and girls who are blasting into NERF battles for the first time.
Schleich unveils global sustainability initiative. Schleich is kicking off the new year by laying out some very aggressive goals for its path toward a sustainable future. The company plans to begin producing its animal-themed figurines and playsets by exclusively using sustainable materials and packaging by 2027.
WowWee unveils Mintid Dog-E at CES 2023. Dog-E has been launched at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) by WowWee, a global innovator of robotic toys and consumer entertainment products. Dog-E is a groundbreaking robot dog that is unique to every owner as a result of over a million possible combinations of colourful lights, sounds, and personality traits.
Stash loot away in 'Goblin Vaults'. Thunderworks Games will release Goblin Vaults, a new fantasy card game, into retail on February 23, 2023. In Goblin Vaults, players try to win loot and stash it away. Players wager cards in an attempt to gain loot from the central cell block and then add it to their own vault. They earn Gears based on the position of cards in their vault as well as by completing scoring objectives.
Archona Games will release 'Magna Roma' into U.S. retail. Archona Games will release Magna Roma, a new city building board game, into U.S. retail on January 19, 2023. In Magna Roma, players compete to build the greatest Roman city. On their turn, players place city tiles into their budding cityscape with each the newly placed tile connected to at least one of the previously added tiles. .
Asmodee reveals 'Dreamquest' for U.S. retail. Asmodee revealed DreamQuest, a family game by Space Cow, which will release into U.S. retail on January 13, 2023. DreamQuest is a parent-child cooperative game where they work together to overcome challenges and complete quests in a fantasy world. The parent takes on the role of a Familiar and their child assumes the role of a Dreamer.
Fifty years ago today, Jan. 4, Sesame Street first aired in Germany by broadcaster NDR. Since then, almost 3,000 episodes of Sesamstraße have taught kids about confidence, friendship, and kindness. “In 2023, we have the pleasure of celebrating an extraordinary partnership with NDR,” says Stefan Kastenmüller, Sesame Workshop General Manager for Europe. “For 50 years, we have been bringing laughter and learning...
Gaming: Digital, Video, Hardware, and Development
The PlayStation 5 has sold over 30 million units worldwide. The PlayStation 5 has sold over 30 million units worldwide since launching in November 2020. According to Sony, that milestone was achieved after December 2022 delivered the "biggest month ever" for PS5 console sales. The PlayStation 5 topped 25 million lifetime sales in September last year, providing some indication as to how many units were sold...
The Last of Us franchise has sold 37 million copies in 9 years. Naughty Dog revealed its The Last of Us franchise has sold over 37 million copies as of December 2022. In the start of a 10-year celebration for the post-apocalyptic property, the developer added that the series is "continuing to reach new and old players every day."
Wizards of the Coast reportedly canceled 5 games in development. Dungeons & Dragons owner Wizards of the Coast (WOTC) has pulled the plug on five video game projects. Per Bloomberg's Jason Schreier, the projects (none of which are Larian Studios' Baldur's Gate III) were cancelled as part of changes to WOTC's "long-term portfolio to focus on games which are strategically aligned with developing our existing brands."
Here’s every video game release date for 2023. I have awoken from my sliced ham and prosecco-induced holiday slumber and am ready to acknowledge (with only a little bit of a tremor) that we are in a new year. New year, new me? No. Spiral ham and prosecco remind me that it’s okay for some things to always remain the same. New year, new set of video game release dates? You bet.
Highlighted Press Releases
OCEAN FRIENDS OCTOPUS, WHALE & DOLPHIN LOOK TO PRESCHOOLERS TO FIGHT PLASTIC POLLUTION. ‘Mission Ocean’ Launches December 1st From Adventerra Games Educational Eco Line Of Board Games That Kids Play, Learn Then Prep To Save The Planet. Boston, MA (December 1, 2022) – We’ve all heard of air and noise pollution. But if our ocean friends could talk, they would sound the alarm for plastic pollution! A new board game, Mission Ocean alerts youngsters to the everyday dangers of floating plastic in our waters. The empowering nature of the fun-to-play board game has been endorsed by the global nonprofit, The Ocean Cleanup. With a roll of the wooden dice — made from FSC-certified wood — kids can imagine collecting plastic waste floating in the waves and scooping it up onto their ship.
Safety and Counterfeiting
Experts warn smart toys for children could be collecting user data that might be sold. The cool, connected toy you may have gotten your child for Christmas could be collecting their data. Experts warn that makers of smart toys could be selling that data to advertisers without you even knowing upfront. Katie Terramiggi, from New York, said she bought her daughter Audrey a Fuzzible Friend several years ago for Christmas. Audrey, now 6 years old, loved how the toy would connect with Amazon's Alexa to communicate with her.
Associations, Shows, Awards, Events, and Festivals
Toy World caught up with leading suppliers to find out which product lines they are most excited about presenting at London Toy Fair this year. We also asked if they would be kind enough to send a photo of themselves proudly displaying their chosen item. Some entered fully into the spirit of the request and embraced the idea with gusto.
Spielwarenmesse Digital has now gone live with many different functions, giving the trade even more ways of preparing for Nuremberg Toy Fair. The business platform, which supplements Spielwarenmesse taking place from 1st to 5th February in Nuremberg, is available now and all year round at digital.spielwarenmesse.de. Interested users can register free of charge and a ticket for the Spielwarenmesse is not required...
The International Istanbul Toy Fair is preparing to bring the toy industry together once again when it returns to Tüyap Fair, Convention and Congress Center, Büyükçekmece, Istanbul, from 28th February-3rd March 2023. The exhibition, which is located in the centre of Eurasia, will see visitors from the region gather together with leading toy brands and suppliers under one roof.
First industry delegation heads to HK exhibition a day before border between the mainland and HK reopens. Some 300 representatives from the Guangdong toy industry have departed for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) for the HK Toys & Games Fair from Shenzhen Bay Port on Saturday. It will be the first delegation attending an exhibition following the border between the mainland and HKSAR...
***The above posted after January 6th***
The British Toy & Hobby Association (BTHA) is delighted to announce that the BTHA’s Head of Compliance Jerry Burnie has been awarded an OBE in the 2023 New Year Honours list. Jerry owns and manages his own toy safety consultancy, Independent Quality Solutions, and has been working as the BTHA’s lead toy safety consultant for many years. Heading up the BTHA’s toy safety advisory service for its 150 members...
Here are the winners of Valve's 2022 Steam Awards. It's that time where players vote on Steam's best games from the previous year. In what is surely a surprise, Elden Ring has received another Game of the Year award, this time from Valve. The developer released its list of winners for the 2022 Steam Awards, and FromSoftware's RPG took the top crown (top ring?).
Spring Fair has launched The Little Black Book for this year’s show, taking place at the NEC Birmingham from 5th to 8th February, 2023. The preview guide for the event, which covers wholesale Home, Gift and Fashion, is packed with information, insights and the thousands of exhibitors set to showcase their new products. For the chance to have one of the limited printed copies of the free guide delivered straight to their door, visitors are encouraged to register by Sunday 8th January.
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.
Tom Karen - A prolific designer who had a hand in designing a host of 1970s creations including the Raleigh Chopper, Bond Bug car and marble run toy has died. Tom Karen, who lived in Cambridge, died aged 96 on New Year's Eve surrounded by his family, a statement said. The industrial designer was born in Vienna, Austria, and arrived in England in 1942 during World War Two. A museum in Letchworth, Hertfordshire - currently hosting a dedicated exhibition - called him a "true great". In the statement confirming Mr Karen's death, Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation - which runs the town's Museum at One Garden City - said he had overseen some of the UK's most iconic designs.
For years, Mr Karen's role in designing the Raleigh Chopper bike - manufactured in Nottingham - sparked controversy.
It was originally said that Raleigh's design director Alan Oakley had been on a fact-finding trip to the USA and was solely responsible, but Mr Karen said the firm later credited his contribution in helping create the children's classic.
His 1968 sketches of the bike - which sold 1.5 million units - have been stored in the archive of the Victoria & Albert Museum.
Mr Karen, who was appointed OBE in 2019, was the managing director of Letchworth's Ogle Design from 1962 until 1999.
During this time, he helped design the Reliant Scimitar car, the Reliant Bond Bug - a two-seater, three-wheeled sports car that was launched at Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire in 1970 - and Leyland lorry cabs.
The Bond Bug's unusual chassis formed the base of Luke Skywalker's landspeeder in Star Wars, while Ogle Design's association with Leyland resulted in Mr Karen designing one of the Popemobiles after the lorry firm was commissioned to manufacture them.
Ogle director Philip Martin said the firm was "deeply saddened" to learn of Mr Karen's death.
"He was an exceptionally talented designer and a very special man," he said.
"He was such an integral part of the Ogle success story. He pioneered so much of the work that we continue to do today, overseeing our progress from automotive designs, through the thrill of Star Wars and into aerospace.
"The company owes him a great debt of gratitude."
However, Mr Karen said one of his greatest achievements was devising the plastic marble run after watching his children play with a wooden one.
Josh Tidy, heritage manager at Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation, described it as a "simple idea, perfectly realised and enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of children for decades".
Museum at One Garden City has been running a retrospective of the inventor's career called Tom Karen Creations, which will continue until 10 March.
"The happy clacking sound of the marbles plopping down the latest creation has been the wonderful soundtrack of this exhibition, and filled Tom with so much joy," said Mr Tidy, who has curated the exhibition.
"His designs, artworks and sheer joie de vivre will continue to be remembered fondly for many years to come."
Darren Watts. RPG author, designer, editor, and former president of Hero Games. Darren Watts passed away on December 31, 2022 at the age of 53, according to a post from Hero Games.Watts had been in the games industry for decades as an RPG author, editor, developer, and publisher. In 2001, he and Stephen Long purchased the assets of Hero Games, which included the rights to Champions and the Hero System game line, from Cybergames, Inc. through their company DOJ Inc. Watts then became the President of Hero Games. From there, Watts produced several Champions books including Champions Universe, Champions Worldwide, and Champions Universe II. He also co-designed Galactic Champions, Millennium City, and Lucha Libre Hero.
Watts left Hero Games in 2011. He continued to write and work fror other RPG companies, including Chaosium, and produced Darren Watts's Golden Age Champions, which was published through High Rock Press, in 2017. He also designed We Rate Dogs: The Card Game, published by Chronicle Books. Later, he worked as a consultant for Double Exposure conventions (Metatopia, Dreamation, DexCon, and Maelstrom).
Many of his colleagues have spoken publicly and privately of Watts' kind heart, community spirit, and help to other RPG designers. He will be missed.
Archer Maclean, Commodore 64 developer, has passed away at 60 years old. Game developer Archer Maclean recently passed away at the age of 60. Maclean was a longtime programmer and designer best known for Dropzone on the Atari 8-bit and Commodore 64.
Maclean's passing was confirmed by several members of the retro game community, who wrote that he "produced some of the [Commodore 64's] greatest games...my heart goes out to his family."
Born January 28, 1962, Maclean's first game was the aforementioned Dropzone. Following the success of that title, he would go on to do design and graphics for 1986's International Karate (and its 1987 sequel, International Karate+), and several snooker simulation games, including Archer Maclean Presents Pool Paradise.
Several of these titles were developed at Awesome Studios, a subsidiary of the now defunct Ignition Entertainment. Maclean co-founded Awesome in 2002, and later left the developer in 2005. He went on to found Awesome Play, creators of the 2009 Nintendo Wii title Speedzone (or Wheelspin in Europe).
Though Speedzone marked the end of his time as a game developer, Maclean also wrote columns for Retro Gamer Magazine.
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ICv2: The Business of Geek Culture (US)
- 'D&D Tyranny of Dragons' Will Be Re-Released
- The Not-So-Secret 2022 'Magic: The Gathering' Secret Lair and Trade Release Numbers
- Rolling for Initiative -- Looking Back at 2022
- CMON Will Release Five DC Multiverse 'Zombicide' Packs into Retail
- Battle on a Spaceship with New 'Warhammer 40,000' Terrain Set
- 'Zombicide' is 'Running Wild'
- ICv2 Rolls Forward Retailer Resource Calendars
- Catalyst Game Labs Announces 'BattleTech' 'Mercenaries' Kickstarter
- Three New Dice Sets from Steve Jackson Games Incoming
- 25th Century Games Unveils 'Gasha' for U.S. Retail
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News Flash: Wildtails A Pirate Legacy Released, Rules for Solo Fluxx
Button Shy Games has released a micro legacy cooperative card game, Looney Labs has released rules for solo Fluxx gameplay, and Game Informer has put together a list of their favorite games from last year.
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The Story of Pressman Toy!
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