the Bloom Report

Worldwide Toy Industry's #1 News Summary

Below is Dec 4 - 11, 2020. Click Here for Last Week

Articles posted daily with most recent at top of each section.   The previous week drops off each Friday when we email you highlights. 

Not only does the Bloom Report give you all the news you need to know... we give you all the news you didn't know you needed to know!" -Phil Bloom

Welcome to your briefing of the week's news...

Happy Friday and Happy Hanukkah!

Our POP Week Int'l Innovation panels are filled with such an abundance of interesting information, entertainment and news, in the spirit of the season, we will be sharing them with you, highlighting one each week in our Video of the Week section. We will start with the opening session: Mattel 75 Years and Fisher-Price 90 Years, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. Moderated by Richard Dickson (President and COO, Mattel) with panelists Jill Barad (Consultant, Prior: CEO & Chairman of Mattel), Tom Kalinske (Executive Chairman at Mixed Dimensions, Prior: CEO of Sega America, Leapfrog and Mattel) and Neil Friedman (Advisor, Prior: President of Alex Brands, ToysRUs, Mattel, Fisher-Price, Tyco Preschool). You'll love watching this panel!

Thank you for reading the Bloom Report!

Mary

tBR Company of the Week - Brilliant PR and Marketing - Always On

Brilliant recently lit up Times Square for its client, Schleich, in the culmination of the brand’s year long power of imagination campaign.

It was nearly 15 years ago when a former executive in the products packaging space working closely with buyers for Walmart looked down while trying to pump milk for her twins in front of her laptop and said “there must be a better way!” Shortly thereafter, a friend gave her the gift of a hands-free pumping bra, at that time, a relatively niche product known only within cult circles of passionate moms. True to her nature, Kathleen Tomes called the “1-800” number on the product packaging and told the folks on the other end of the line that someone needed to be promoting them. They offered her the chance to do so, and within two years, that product was the subject of the then largest acquisition in the history of Medela, the leading breast pump brand. In the process, Brilliant PR & Marketing was born.

 

“Our competitive edge is that we didn’t start the company as PR pros. We were sales people at heart, and knew the type of dogged, scrappy efforts it takes to get products on shelves and then inspire consumers to buy them” said Kathleen Tomes, president and founder. “Starting from that core ethos, but then adding some of the best agency talent over the years has made us fundamentally different from our competitors. Our mantra is ‘everything to the end of the sale.’”

 

This spirit of genuine passion, scrappy action, consistent results and leveraging consumer awareness to create true impact for businesses remains at the core of Brilliant PR & Marketing today. What began as a small network of “work from home” moms generating media coverage for a handful of baby and maternity brands has evolved over the last decade into a powerhouse, multi-service agency synonymous with the juvenile and family products industry for verticals including toys and games, mom and baby, learning brands, housewares, lifestyle and more.

 

According to a few of their current clients, the agency is “brilliant” because: Read More...

tBR Person of the Week - Mary Jo Reutter - Hats, Hats, So Many Hats!

For the holidays, what do you say, game inventors? Let’s gift ourselves with a bit of credit for all the many things we do before a game ever goes to market.

To be a successful game inventor, we must have a level proficiency at many, many … many things. Some are obvious, some unexpected – and some are just a little odd. It got me to thinking, What are all of the skill sets we use when inventing games?

 

We Wear Many Hats

“Game designer” (we’ll get back to that one).

Technical Writer – Rules seem easy, but that’s after they’ve been poured over, tested and perfected. There’s as much of an art as there is a skill when it comes to getting rules right.

Graphic Designer (look and feel) – Even if a game changes completely after licensing, the early look and feel influence the initial buy decisions and can drive final game design as well.

Model Maker (prototype) – Building some form factor that can be played, changed, played again, rinsed and repeated until it’s just right.

Engineer – A prototype can take many forms, even just in paper. Sometimes in complex schematics and structural design, with electrical or mechanical components. sentence

Cost Engineer and Package Designer – Even if we’re not involved in the final forms, our early decisions in the overall design affect the final decisions. So at least a small level of proficiency here goes a long way.

 

That’s the practical stuff. But let’s get back to that first item – “game designer.” That’s the `Secret Sauce. The intangible. The thing that’s referred to as “creativity.” But what does that mean?

 

The Secret Sauce... Read More...

Financial & Legal News . . . 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(the above posted after December 11th)

Party City advances strategy to create North America’s leading party platform. Party City agreed to sell part of its international operations (“Amscan International”) to Endless LLP, a U.K. based private equity investor (“Endless”), for a total transaction value of approximately US$59 million, including US$45 million of cash proceeds and approximately US$14 million of excess cash and other adjustments to be returned to...

Sony to purchase anime entertainment powerhouse Crunchyroll from WarnerMedia for $1.175bnSony Pictures Entertainment has reached an agreement with AT&T to purchase its Crunchyroll anime business – a direct-to-consumer service within the WarnerMedia segment – for a proposed $1.175bn. Under the deal, Crunchyroll anime will fall under Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc and Sony Music Entertainment Inc’s Funimation Global Group, a giant on the anime scene.

UK first non-lockdown shopping weekend in December dwarfs Black FridayThe weekend of 5th and 6th December saw consumers hit the shops in their droves. The first weekend in December, which was also the first weekend since Covid-19 lockdown restrictions were lifted in England, has become the biggest shopping event of 2020, eclipsing Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Australia's Victorian government invests $25m in screen industries. Australia's Victorian government is to invest AU$33.8 million ($25 million) in the screen industries, including games. The aim is to support more projects to be made in Victoria, with more than half of the fund to be allocated this financial year, boosting employment after the COVID-19 crisis.

Global ecommerce transactions jump in November due to earlier start of holiday shopping season. New benchmark data from ACI Worldwide (NASDAQ: ACIW), a leading global provider of real-time digital payment software and solutions, revealed a 21 percent increase in eCommerce transactions globally in November 2020 compared to November 2019.

72% of all 2020 mobile revenue generated by games at $81bn. In its latest report, looking back at the mobile market for 2020, the analytics company highlighted that for every dollar spent on iOS and Google Play, $0.71 were for games this year. Gross consumer spend reached $112 billion on mobile in 2020, $81 billion of which came from games.

Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group in ‘potential rescue talks’ with Debenhams. Retail tycoon Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group is in talks over a ‘potential rescue transaction’ for the British department store Debenhams. The brand fell into administration last week, putting some 12,000 jobs at risk. Frasers has said that it was ‘in negotiations with the administrators of Debenhams’ UK business’ on a possible deal, but it has...

Activision lawsuit accuses Netflix of poaching CFO. Activision has filed a lawsuit against Netflix, accusing the streaming giant of poaching CFO Spencer Neumann. Neumann was hired by Netflix within days of a messy departure from Activision.

Walmart laying off more than 1,200 workers even as digital shopping boomsWalmart is reportedly laying off an additional 1,200 workers as part of a reorganization that encompasses the big consumer shift to online shopping. In July, Walmart cut its workforce by laying off hundreds in its logistics, real estate and retail location-planning divisions.

China budget store king takes on Toys ‘R’ Us with new chain. Miniso Group Holding Ltd., the newly New York-listed Chinese budget retailer, is making its first foray into the $86 billion global toy market as it tries to take on heavyweights like Toys “R” Us Inc. on its home turf and beyond.

UK Toy sales rocket by 58 per cent on eBay this Black Friday as marketplace cites ‘unprecedented shift to online’. The online marketplace, eBay UK saw toy sales rocket by 58 per cent over this year’s Black Friday period, compared to the same time last year, as housebound shoppers fueled what the platform has cited as ‘an unprecedented shift to online,’ due to the government restrictions throughout...

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Trends, Market Research Reports . . . 

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

(the above posted after December 11th)

Hasbro is committed on making India a top investment destination over the next 3-4 decades . . . NPD details the UK's toy market's overall performance in 2020 . . . Doll sector trends ‘will play key roles in 2021 and beyond,’ says Zapf Creation UK . . . There and back again: The hobbyist market returns as ‘model making sees massive resurgence’ . . . Toy Association CEO Steve Pasierb talks US market, trends and 2021 . . . Early Christmas shopping sees November toy sales rise in latest NPD report

Financial & Brokerage News . . . 

Nintendo and Sony share prices rise to record highs . . . Where Will Hasbro Be in 5 Years? . . . Pandemic Pushing Toy Sales: 3 Stocks to Watch . . . Mattel – Consensus Indicates Potential .7% Upside . . . We're Watching These Trends At Hasbro

(the above posted after December 11th)

Chinese toymaker surpasses makers of Barbie, Transformers and Hello Kitty in value after solid Hong Kong IPO . . . Mattel Sees Unusually High Options Volume  . . . Leading Designer Toy Stock, Pop Mart, Listed on HKEX . . . 3 Toys & Games Stocks to Snap Up Despite COVID-19 Woes . . . Spin Master - A pandemic toy story: Chess sets, Paw Patrol and parents who can't stop spending . . . Hasbro (NASDAQ:HAS) Lands New Buy Recommendation, Run With It . . . Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner on the company's holiday sales

Financial Reporting . . . 

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

(the above posted after December 11th)

GameStop has closed 462 stores so far this year, 783 in last two years. For Q3 ending October 31, GameStop posted net sales of $1 billion, down 30% year-over-year, and a net loss of $19 million compared to a net loss of $83 million for the same quarter last year. CEO George Sherman says he anticipates fiscal Q4 to see positive year-on-year sales growth due to next-gen launch

Character's year end results reveal £5m profit and positive outlook for coming year The group reports a £5m profit despite pandemic challenges and anticipates growth in the coming year. On the topic of Brexit, the group’s 2018 acquisition of Proxy ensured the uninterrupted continuity of the group’s UK operations and its cross-border business with the EU. The mainland UK business will be unaffected...

Hasbro announces quarterly cash dividend on common sharesHasbro, Inc. announced that its Board of Directors has declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.68 per common share. The dividend will be payable on February 16, 2021 to shareholders of record at the close of business on February 2, 2021.

Australia: Funtastic sees fruits of Toys ‘R’ Us acquisition in November. Funtastic has seen short-term revenue and profit grow in November, due to its acquisition of Toys ‘R’ Us. The additional revenue streams afforded by Hobby Warehouse, Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us boosted Funtastic’s revenue by 60 per cent to $7.1 million for the first month the business’ traded together, while profit grew 78 per cent to $2 million.

Call of Duty made $3 billion for Activision in 12 months. Activision has made over $3 billion in net bookings from the Call of Duty franchise alone over the past 12 months. The company said the action series had set new records after shifting to a shared ecosystem business model, resulting in net bookings rising by 80 percent year-on-year and unit sales increasing by 40 percent.

Exploding Kittens and Pandemic among Black Friday board games sales surge at OnBuy. Sales of the popular Elan Lee board game, Exploding Kittens, surged by an impressive 511 per cent on the UK marketplace, OnBuy, who has since reported a record-breaking Black Friday that saw sales across the board total nearly £2.5 million in one day alone.

Future Financial Reporting . . . 

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

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

Toyjobs has been the dominant recruiting

Stories & Comments . . . 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(the above posted after December 11th)

John Baulch:  Rolling up our sleeves …it’s the Friday Blog! It all appears to be going to plan. We saw a steady few days’ trading after shops re-opened in the middle of last week  – not so much ‘Wild Wednesday’ as ‘Solid but not spectacular Wednesday’, although that is neither alliterative nor a phrase which is likely to catch on. However, the weekend was – by all accounts – an absolute belter, with sales dwarfing Black Friday...

A special interview with Santa on toys and more2020 has been a tough year for many people all over the world. How are you preparing for Christmas in these unprecedented times? “To be honest, I really thought Christmas 2020 would be called off and I would get to spend it with Mrs Claus and the reindeers sun baking in the Caribbean.”

Amazon sellers worry they can’t meet holiday demand as company limits warehouse spaceAmazon in August instituted limits on product shipments from third-party sellers who use its U.S. warehouses in an effort to make sure it had enough space to store all their goods for the holidays. But third-party sellers say they can’t restock products quickly enough, causing them to run out of inventory and lose out on some...

UK: Out of the frying pan – Are we oven-ready or heading for the fire? Covid-19 vaccines are beginning to be rolled-out, shops have re-opened, and Christmas shoppers continue to spend their money on toys. It really does look like there’s a light at the end of this long, winding tunnel. But, asks Kids Brand Insight’s Steve Reece, with chaos at the ports and Brexit not quite as oven-ready as we were told, what will we...

Inside the Industry: “It’s now critical to equip kids to be the change-makers of tomorrow”. The obligatory references to the film Big, made by almost everyone outside of the industry who asks what it is we all do, aside, a career in toys is often a fascinating and fulfilling one. It’s peculiar then that it is also a career, that, for many of us, we have by one route or another, fallen into.

Toy World features on Toys That Made Christmas Great show The two hour Toys That Made Christmas Great show was broadcast on Channel 5 on Sunday evening, highlighting some of the classic toys that have been huge Christmas hits through the years. The programme featured numerous toy trade luminaries, including MGA’s Andrew Laughton, Sarah Allen from Mattel, Bandai’s Nic Aldridge, former Toys R Us...

Pink and blue toys colour future of our children, study warnsLast year, the equality campaigning organisation the Fawcett Society set up an 18-month commission into the effects of gender stereotyping in early childhood – the first of its kind in the UK – to examine the harm it causes and explore how it interacts with race and class.

Nostalgia, boredom drive holiday toy sales It is an alchemy that is driving consumers to snap up retro-faves such as Beyblade spinning toys and Lego Super Mario Bros as toy industry analysts ..

Remembering the Toy Industry's Past . . . 

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

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

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

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

(the above posted after December 11th)

Who invented the Teddy Bear? | WTFF? Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt inspired the creation of everyone's favorite stuffed animal, but it took a talented cartoonist and an entrepreneur and his wife to make "Teddy's Bear" real.

PlaytimeFun_540x250_BloomReport_Ad_3_SEL

Worldwide Licensing News . . . 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(the above posted after December 11th)

Hasbro celebrates ‘Monopoly’s’ 85th anniversary with new merch. Hasbro has inked multiple licensing deals in honor of the game’s milestone anniversary. New consumer products are set to hit shelves and online in time for the holidays. “Monopoly” is a family-favorite game brand enjoyed by more than one billion players in 114 countries across the globe.

Rebel Girls expands with new licensing partnershipsRebel Girls, the global entertainment brand known for its book series “Good Night Stories” and its podcast of the same name, has expanded the Rebel Girls Franchise to include content and licensed merchandise.

IMC Toys debuts Cry Babies Tutti Frutti toys, animated content. The animated content will be supported by new products for the Cry Babies Magic Tears and Cry Babies brands, including Cry Babies Magic Tears Tutti Frutti and Cry Babies Tutti Frutti in the main three hero characters, Mel, Ella, and Pia. The toys will be available in January at all major retailers.

‘Brave Bunnies’ hops into licensingBrave Bunnies, a new animated pre-school series from Glowberry, has announced new licensing plans for the international market. Glowberry has appointed Big Picture Licensing as exclusive licensing agent for U.K. and Eire and master agent across EMEA and APAC.

The Koyo Store lands Games Workshop deal to launch Warhammer 40,000 collectablesThe entertainment merchandise specialist, The Koyo Store, has secured the global rights to create a range of officially licensed Warhammer 40,000 collectables through a new partnership with Games Workshop. The range will not only be sold through Games Workshop’s own High Street stores, but also available for fans to buy direct.

Big Potato Games partners with Vocala to bring its board game titles to AlexaThe independent board games company, Big Potato Games, has partnered with the voice design studio, Vocala, to bring a selection of its popular games out of the box and into the world of voice. Under the new partnership, best-sellers like Obama Llama and Linkee have been developed as voice activated games to be played on Alexa devices.

Global Licensing Group details new dates for BLE 2021 – a hybrid of in-person and online eventsGlobal Licensing Group, a division of Informa Markets and event organisers of Licensing Expo and Brand Licensing Europe, has detailed its 2021 and new event format, bringing with it a hybrid of in-person and virtual offerings.

Rainbow Group’s Pinocchio and Friends to debut on TV in Q4 2021. The Rainbow Group, the company behind brands like the Winx Club and 44 Cats, is set to launch a new market milestone for Carlo Collodi’s original The Adventures of Pinocchio. Characters from the original story are joined by new ones, in a setting that promises to bring fresh air to televisions around the world, and to the licensing market.

Posh Paws: “2021 is lining up to be our biggest yet” thanks to portfolio of heavyweight licenses. The plush toy specialist, Posh Paws International, is preparing for what looks to be its ‘biggest year yet,’ as it readies for 2021 with a raft of new releases and licensed launches based on some of the biggest children’s entertainment franchises of the past decade.

Animaccord taps Firefly Brand Management to rep ‘Masha And The Bear’ for U.S. licensing. Firefly Brand Management inked a new deal to represent the popular animated series as its U.S. licensing agent. Firefly seeks to expand the Masha and the Bear brand through new licensing agreements and promotional partners across a variety of categories, including electronic toys, apparel, and more.

IDW, Toho International stomp into ‘Godzilla’ deal. IDW and Toho International have announced a multi-year publishing program that will bring Godzilla and dozens of monsters from the “Godzilla” live action films to a wide selection of publications and merchandise. IDW will have worldwide distribution for Toho’s “Godzilla” comic book, graphic novel, gaming and merchandise program, with the exception of some parts of Asia.

Flash Gordon board game rocketing your way via Plastic Meatball. Plastic Meatball, experts in the retro-nostalgic merchandise space, announced today their partnership with King Features Syndicate to develop a cross-category line of products based on the 1980 cult-classic film, “Flash Gordon.” Plastic Meatball’s deal encompasses a wide swath of consumer products categories, including apparel, puzzles, and more. 

Sega partners with Retail Monster in the UK for Sonic’s 30th anniversary. With the iconic Sonic the Hedgehog brand celebrating its 30th Anniversary in 2021, and significant opportunities with its Retro Gaming portfolio to build on, 2021 will be a big year for Sega. Through its partnership with Retail Monster, Sega will look to drive brand collaborations and retail activations for Sonic’s Anniversary.

People . . . 

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

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

Talking Games with Spin Master's Julien Sharp on the 'Power Kid Podcast'  

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Jennifer Dodge will be appointed president of Spin Master Entertainment

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

(the above posted after December 11th)

Mattel Names Jonathan Anschell Executive Vice President, Chief Legal Officer, and Secretary  Former ViacomCBS Media Networks General Counsel brings extensive media industry and global brand expertise to Mattel. Anschell will report to Ynon Kreiz, Mattel’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. He will succeed Robert Normile, who will continue in his current role through Dec. 31, 2020, and then remain with Mattel as...

Interview: Vivid’s Emma Weber – ‘Our responsibility is to represent the world our consumers live in’  With the launch of the Headstart range of Love Diana Fashion Dolls and Far Out Toys Collectables, met with the ongoing success of this year’s launch range of Vet Squad animal dolls and play-sets, Vivid is readying itself for a bumper year in the dolls and play-sets sector in 2021.

Inside the Workshop of a Classic-Toy Inventor, in “Eddy's World”  The inventor of more than eight hundred toys on why making playthings is a noble profession. t the 1949 American Toy Fair, at the Hotel McAlpin, in New York, a twentysomething Navy vet from Chicago named Adolph (Eddy) Goldfarb débuted three of his plastic inventions. One was a drinking-cup-and-straw combo with three animals on its top that would spin as a... 

ViacomCBS Networks International has appointed Raffaele Annecchino (pictured) as its new president and CEO. He succeeds David Lynn, who will step down after a short transition period. Reporting to ViacomCBS president and CEO Bob Bakish, Annecchino will oversee all ViacomCBS media networks and related businesses outside the US, with responsibility for a portfolio of pay-TV brands and networks across six continents. 

Ubisoft names VP of global diversity and inclusion to improve workplace culture. Ubisoft has named Raashi Sikka as its first vice president of global diversity and inclusion. The appointment comes as the French publisher looks to reshape its workplace culture following a number of high-profile misconduct allegations across multiple studios.

Sega and Tencent veteran John Clark named Curve Digital CEO. British games publisher Curve Digital has named Tencent and Sega veteran John Clark as its CEO. The new hire follows a string of big signings for the Human: Fall Flat publisher.

Neil Druckmann is now co-president of Naughty DogNaughty Dog did some top-level role shuffling today at the Santa Monica-based studio. Neil Druckmann, studio vice president and creative director of The Last of Us Part II, is now co-president at the company.

ZAG is continuing to build its consumer products division with the appointment of Sarah Boyer as VP of retail for North America. Beginning in the newly created role today, Boyer will manage strategic relationships across all tiers of retail, build licensing programs and supporting licensees with product placement and promotion. She joins ZAG from MGA Entertainment, where she served as senior director of...

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Companies . . . 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aporta Games unveils 'Capital Lux 2: Generations'. Aporta Games unveiled Capital Lux 2: Generations, a standalone sequel to their 2016 tactical card game, which will release into trade in February. Capital Lux 2: Generations is the sequel card-drafting game to Capital Lux that revolves around how character cards are played.

Learn a new 'Pokemon TCG' gameplay mechanic in 'Sword & Shield: Battle Styles'.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(the above posted after December 11th)

Manhattan Toy Store Struggles to Stay Afloat Through Holiday Season Due to Pandemic   Her sales are down 50% this year; However, a study conducted by research firm NPD Group Inc reported a 19% growth in toy industry sales in 2020, both online and in stores. The study found Amazon's Prime Day 2020 contributed to that growth.

Netflix Enters the Pre-School Toy Game What's on Netflix - To start with, Mighty Express, launched in September, comes directly from toy company Spin Master. It was created by Keith Chapman, the producer behind powerhouse franchises, Bob The Builder, and Paw Patrol.  He also has creative input into Buddi, the surreal young-skewing pre-school program about anthropomorphic blobs. Gabby’s Dollhouse, an original...

Schleich Celebrates 85th Anniversary with Times Square BillboardTo celebrate the end of its 85th anniversary year, Schleich USA debuted a Times Square billboard featuring stories from fans around the world, including new photos from famed toy photographer Mitchel Wu

The celebration began at Toy Fair New York, where the world’s leading manufacturer of animal figurines asked toy lovers all over the world to...

FAO Schwarz lists iconic New York City toy store on Airbnb. FAO Schwarz is also hosting Online Experiences on Airbnb so others can experience the magic of FAO Schwarz, no matter their location. This one-time, one-night stay will take place on 21st December, and is available to book for one New York City family of four from the same household starting 15th December at 5pm GMT for just $25 (plus taxes and fees).

LEGO opens its first airport LEGO Store in the US in Marshall Retail Group partnership. The LEGO Group has opened its first airport LEGO Store in the US, having partnered with The Marshall Retail Group – a WHSmith Company – to set up shop inside Salt Lake City International Airport. The all-new LEGO store allows visitors the opportunity to shop for hard-to-find products from the LEGO portfolio, as well as its top sellers.

Kellytoy unveils new Valentine’s Day Squishmallows. Kellytoy, a subsidiary of Jazwares, LLC,  announced its Valentine’s Day Squishmallows squad, the perfect “chonky” and snuggly plush treat to make every Valentine feel special. The newest squad members are as memorably loveable as they are cute and the perfect gift idea for under $20.

Eaglemoss Hero Collector unveils ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ products. In the tradition of their Build The DeLorean from “Back to the Future” and Build The ECTO-1 from “Ghostbusters,” Eaglemoss Hero Collector has announced a brand new subscription program inspired by the Enterprise-D from “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

Maple Landmark, America's 'Local Toy Company,' rooted in family, forest Mike Rainville, founder and owner of Maple Landmark, landed his first wholesale account at age 15, when a traveling salesman noticed the wooden tic tac toe boards Mike had for sale at the Lincoln General Store. That was 1979. Today, Maple Landmark supplies wooden toys—including the tic tac toe and cribbage boards that gave Mike his start....

Hasbro, Inc., announced plans to join forces with Charlie “Rocket” Jabaley and his “Dream Machine Tour” this holiday season, bringing positive experiences to communities that have been greatly impacted by this difficult and unprecedented year. The company is contributing $450,000 to Grammy and Emmy award-winning Charlie “Rocket” Jabaley, who will use the funds to deliver acts of kindness to families across the...

Jakks Pacific tantalizes ‘Apex Legends’ players with in-game challenge to support action figure debutJakks Pacific is getting into the game — literally — to promote its new line of Apex Legends 6-inch scale action figures. The “Legends Challenge” is an in-game initiative that will run Dec. 5-13 inside the Apex Legends battle royale game.

Netflix is rolling out a new tool for parents to better understand and monitor what their kids are watching. Called the Kids Activity Report, as seen in the image above, the new breakdown includes data on what type of programming kids are spending the most time watching, who their favorite character is, and recommendations for new shows based on their interests. Emails sent out to customers who have kids...

Mcfarlane Toys launches Dune collectible action figures. Ahead of the highly anticipated Dune movie, expected to hit theaters and HBO Max on Oct. 1, 2021, McFarlane Toys revealed its line of collectible action figures inspired by the characters of the film. The collection includes a 7-inch Build-A-Figure assortment featuring intricate costumes and accessories as well as “ultra-articulation” for precise posing.

Get ready to sleigh with Little Tikes’ Reindeer Carriage ride-on. Just in time for the holidays, MGA Entertainment’s Little Tikes division released its newest ride-on, a Reindeer Carriage mirroring Santa’s magic sleigh. The classic Little Tikes red carriage comes fitted with a reindeer guiding the sleigh and reins for kids to hold onto.

Firestar joins Hasbro’s Marvel Legends series. Hasbro revealed the latest addition to its Marvel Legends Series: the fiery heroine Firestar. Designed for kids and collectors ages 6 and up, the Firestar figure features Angelica Jones fitted in her iconic yellow outfit and flowing red hair.

Funko releases Snapsies toy line. Funko’s brand new toy line Snapsies is available now exclusively at Target and Target.com. Designed and developed for children ages 6-11, Snapsies offer snap-and-match technology allowing kids to customize their figures to create thousands of unique combinations.

BBC Studios launches digital trading cards collection Doctor Who: Worlds Apart on blockchain. Doctor Who has completed its jump into the realm of digital trading cards with the launch of Doctor Who: Worlds Apart, a digital platform that features more than 200 trading cards for Whovians and collectors to obtain. Developed by a pairing of BBC Studios and Reality Gaming Group …

Hachette Boardgames will release three new Gigamic games into U.S. trade. Hachette Boardgames will release three new Gigamic games into U.S. Trade this December. Peek-a-Mouse, a family game; Quetzal, an excavation game; and Dinner in Paris, a restaurant management game.

Games Workshop unleashes the next 'Warhammer Underworlds' core setGames Workshop will release Warhammer Underworlds: Direchasm, a core set for Warhammer Underworld board game, on December 12. Players can now explore a remote part of Beastgrave known as the Direchasm in Warhammer Underworlds competitive miniatures game.

The LEGO Group commits to reducing carbon emissions by 37 per cent by 2032. The LEGO Group has committed to reducing its absolute carbon emissions by 37 per cent by 2032 – a target that has been approved by the Science Based Target initiative. The goal is consistent with levels required to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees, and is recognised as the most ambitious goal of the Paris Agreement.

Tablestar Games returns to the board game scene. TableStar Games is back in the board game business as of Q4 2020. It's been about a decade since TableStar Games took a detour into video games and exited the tabletop scene, after a couple of Wealth of Nations expansions.

TKC Sales sees Stomp Rocket awareness on the rise with TV, national media, and awards coverage. Television airtime, national media Christmas Gift Guide coverage, and a social media family influencer campaign, has helped to take the consumer awareness of TKC Sales’ multi award-winning Stomp Rocket ‘to new heights’ this season, as the firm expects to see momentum continue into spring 2021.

Kmart introduces dolls with Down syndromeKmart is being praised for adding dolls with Down syndrome to its diverse collection. The dolls – a boy and girl with Down syndrome facial features – will be available in New Zealand stores in time for Christmas.

Pottick Law Ad new as of Nov 2020.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(the above posted after December 11th)

Minecraft tops YouTube's list of most watched games of 2020. Minecraft dominated YouTube this year, according to an end-of-year stats dump from YouTube Gaming. Videos of Microsoft's game were watched 201 billion times this year; Roblox was second with 75 billion views.

Stadia expands to 8 more European countries. Google Stadia has officially launched in eight more European countries, bringing the total number of countries where the cloud-based game streaming service is up and running to 22. Players in Austria, Czechia, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, and Switzerland are now able to sign up for the service.

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands sells 3.7m in one dayWorld of Warcraft: Shadowlands sold more than 3.7 million copies in its first full day on sale, Blizzard announced today. That topped the company's previous day-one high, Diablo 3's 3.5 million copies sold upon release in 2012, and prompted Blizzard to label it the fastest-selling PC game of all time.

LEGO is Nintendo’s best-selling third-party video game franchiseHere’s a fun fact for you: the LEGO video game series is Nintendo’s best-selling third-party video game franchise. That’s according to Mat Piscatella, who works with market research firm the NPD Group. The industry analyst tweeted the stat to celebrate the 25th anniversary of LEGO video games.

Enrollment opens for Apple's fee-reducing Small Business Program. Developers can now enroll for the App Store Small Business Program, which will halve iOS platform fees to 15 percent from 30 percent for smaller creators. In an explainer posted on the Apple Developer website, the company said those looking to enroll must be an Account Holder in the Apple Developer Program.

Epic Games is ditching in-person Fortnite events in 2021Epic Games won't hold in-person Fortnite tournaments in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Outlining what the competitive Fortnite scene will look like in 2021 and beyond in a recent blog post, the company said it absolutely plans to reintroduce physical events in the future.

Ryan’s World comes to Roblox. Ryan’s World is expanding into a new digital realm. The top YouTuber is planting a flag inside Roblox this weekend with the opening of Ryan’s World in Roblox. Created by Sunlight Entertainment and p.w. Games, the gaming division of pocket.watch, Ryan’s World in Roblox will officially debut at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday, Dec. 5.

Call of Duty has brought in $3 billion in past yearCall of Duty is enjoying a banner year, as Activision today announced that with the release of Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, the franchise has now surpassed $3 billion in net bookings.

Toy Safety and Counterfeit Related Articles . . . 

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

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

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

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

(the above posted after December 11th)

Cyberpunk 2077 features epileptic triggers. Game Informer warned of rapid white and red blinking lights in CD Projekt Red's RPG, representing a risk for those vulnerable to epileptic triggers.

Doctors issue Christmas toy safety warning for children over magnetic balls and ‘button’ batteriesDoctors today issued an alert about the danger to children from magnetic toys and “button” batteries in the run-up to Christmas. One London hospital has treated 33 children who have swallowed toy magnets.

Peggy Brown Consulting Ad 540x250 pxl.jp

Press Releases . . . 

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

(the above posted after December 11th)

RETAILERS HAVE NEW DISTRIBUTION SOURCE FILLED WITH DAM GOOD IDEAS FROM EUROPE. American families already have a love affair with Belgium – as in the finest chocolates or waffles! Now, hard-to-come-by European toys are on their way to neighborhood shops with the arrival of Belgium-based toy distributor DAM (rhymes with mom). U.S. retailers have been impressed with their stylish catalog and sales potential since their debut at ASTRA Marketplace last year. DAM is a leading toy distributor in France, Italy, Spain and the Benelux (Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg). The family owned company is celebrating 28 years of bringing uniquely designed toys to every age range. 

News from Associations, Trade Shows, Awards and Festivals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(the above posted after December 11th)

Kidscreen Summit Virtual unveils its agenda. More than 50 keynotes, panel discussions, research presentations, buyer Q&As and strategy interviews with some of the industry's top execs are in the lineup. The virtual event, running from February 8 to March 5, is also expanding its popular pitching and networking formats, offering more than 600 opportunities for one-on-one meetings with buyers.

Licensing Expo, Brand Licensing Europe Shift 2021 Dates, Reveal New Format. Traditionally held in June, Licensing Expo will now take place as an in-person show at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, taking place from Aug. 10-12, 2021. A new digital companion event will take place online from Aug. 24-25.

Toy Association Pushes for Action Against Counterfeits. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the online shopping trend, with the U.S. Census Bureau estimating that retail e-commerce sales grew 44.5 percent year-over-year during the second quarter of 2020. Despite lockdown restrictions in the spring, U.S. toy sales experienced double-digit monthly growth, thanks in large part to the strength of the online channel.

Obituaries - Remembering Those that have Passed . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

Toy Trade Monthly Issues...

eplay November Issue

ToyWorld (UK) December Issue

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

Weekly Top Stories from Toy Trade Magazines Worldwide...

Adventure Media & Events (US)

aNb Media (US)

  1. Licensing Expo 2021 Dates Announced

  2. AT&T to Sell Crunchyroll to Funimation Global Group

  3. Genius of Play Launches Ambassador Program

  4. Insert Name Here Collabs with Care Bears

  5. Dune 2021 Action Figures Launch at Retail

  6. Toy Association Pushes for Action Against Counterfeits

  7. David Levine Named Head of Studio at Moonbug

  8. Hasbro Partners with 'Dream Machine Tour'

  9. Kellytoy Unveils New Valentine's Day Squishmallows

  10. Poetic Brands to Produce Gigantosaurus Apparel

ToyWorld (UK)

  1. Rolling up our sleeves …it’s the Friday Blog!

  2. Shipping rates and port congestion continue to cause concern for suppliers

  3. Early Christmas shopping sees November toy sales rise in latest NPD report

  4. First non-lockdown shopping weekend in December dwarfs Black Friday

  5. Endless supports management buy-out of Amscan International

  6. Character’s year end results reveal £5m profit and positive outlook for coming year

  7. Toy World features on Toys That Made Christmas Great show

  8. Exclusive: NPD details the toy market’s overall performance in 2020

  9. Exclusive: Omni Alliance helps toy companies expand into the US market

  10. New 2021 dates announced for Licensing Expo and Brand Licensing Europe

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

  1. Rolling For Initiative -- Who Could Buy WotC?
  2. Wizards of the Coast Unveils New Deets on 'Magic: The Gathering' 'Secret Lair: Ultimate Edition 2'
  3. 'Put Them in the Iron Maiden...'
  4. GameStop Closing 700 Stores This Year
  5. Wizards of the Coast Teases 'Secret Lair' Drops for 2021/2022
  6. The Op Unveils New Deets on 'Smash Up: Marvel'
  7. TCG Market Analysis: November Trends for 'Magic: The Gathering,' 'Pokemon TCG,' and 'Yu-Gi-Oh!'
  8. TCGplayer Top 25 Sealed TCG Products - November 2020
  9. Plastic Meatball Partners with King Features Syndicate to Make 'Flash Gordon' Products
10. Take on Homelander in 'The Boys: This Is Going to Hurt - The Board Game'

TOYS Magazine (Germany) - posted once a month

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

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

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

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

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

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

Video of the Week! 

wrong Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow with

The POP Week panels were on two separate platforms, there are very slight changes to the version on YouTube we are sharing here. Our first shared panel is....

Mary Couzin intro to POP Week 2020 and Opening Keynote: Mattel 75 Years and Fisher-Price 90 Years, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Moderator: Richard Dickson (President and COO, Mattel, Inc.)

Panelists: Jill Barad (Consultant, Prior: CEO & Chairman of Mattel), Tom Kalinske (Executive Chairman at Mixed Dimensions, Prior: CEO of Sega America, Leapfrog and Mattel),

Neil Friedman (Advisor, Prior: President of Alex Brands, ToysRUs, Mattel, Fisher-Price, Tyco Preschool)

 

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