December 9 - 16, 2022
Welcome to Your Weekly News Brief!
Happy Festive Friday!
Whew! Our events (Conferences, Awards, consumer Fair) were a resounding success! We pivoted post-pandemic like pros, and building on our successes, I simply cannot wait to share our 2023 plans with YOU!
Next up! January's and February's whirlwind of events - London and Nuremberg Toy Fairs, ASTRA Toy Boat, and ToyFest. Bring them on!
Thank you for reading the Bloom Report. If you can't wait for the news to arrive each Friday, check out the new Bloom Report 24/7 News Feed and share with your colleagues! You can also comment on the posts in the News Feed!
"I am a long-time reader and champion of the Bloom Report. The quantity of quality articles on so many different aspects of our industry is unmatched and I regularly share and discuss them with my management team as an important business tool." - Jim Engle, President & Founder, Little Kids Inc.
"I don't know anyone in the industry that doesn't read the Bloom Report." -Ken Lewis, President, 4Kidz, Inc.
Columnist - Nancy Zwiers
How to Turbocharge Your Mindset for Success in 2023
I saw this on Twitter and thought to myself: How true!!!
Most important battle we all have to win is ….
Not with your boss!
Not with your partner!
Not with your competition!
Not with your friends!
It is the battle with our own beliefs and self image!
As we all get ready for a new year full of new possibilities, what can we do to win the battle with our own beliefs and self image in a way that turbocharges our success in the coming year? One answer to this question is we can revel in our 2022 accomplishments and use that to empower ourselves going forward. What follows is an updated version of the column I wrote at the end of 2021...
Person of the Week - Chris Lutchen
TOMY International's Director of Design: G Force Passion for Design
You've been in the toy industry for over twenty years. Were you always interested in toy design?
I've been tinkering with toys since I was a child: I used to de-construct vehicles, action figures, games, VCRs, bikes, etc. to see if I could customize them or get them to perform better. In college, I decided against being a pilot minoring in business, and switched my major to Industrial Design where my professor remarked that I "thought like a toy designer." I started my career with an invention house in Chicago, and then took a job at RC2 designing preschool toys. I’ve had experience in distribution with impulse toys and was a Creative Director at a large-scale immersive experience company. Today at TOMY, my responsibilities continue to challenge my creativity across a wide range of toy, vehicle, game, collectible, baby, and plush categories.
You're a pilot who once flew in a dogfight experience? How did you get interested in flying and what was that dog fight flight like?
It was an incredible experience that was gifted by my wife and kids for Father’s Day one year. I sat in training for a few hours to understand the acrobatic aircraft and extreme G force I would encounter. I suited up and then flew against another pilot with simulated weapons and targeting.
Financial and Legal
Sailings from Asia to be cut dramatically post Chinese New Year. High inventory levels in Europe and the USA, coupled with uncertainty surrounding future consumer demand, has seen orders cancelled or postponed, resulting in Chinese factories preparing to shut down well ahead of the Chinese New Year holiday. Toy World has also seen video evidence emanating from China which suggests that Covid rates have spiked...
Microsoft-Activision deal: Gamers sue to stop merger. Microsoft faces legal action from 10 gamers to block its merger with Call of Duty maker Activision Blizzard. The lawsuit filed in a US federal court says the $69bn (£56bn) deal by the Xbox console maker to purchase its rival will "create a monopoly in the video game industry". The complaint comes two weeks after US regulators filed a case...
Congress calls on publishers to address extremism in game communities. Axios published a draft of a letter from Congress going out to game publishers like Sony and Microsoft for information on how they respond to reports of extremist behavior in their online gaming communities. The letter, which was penned by Democratic senators such as Katie Porter (CA) and Lori Trahan (MA) and was sent out today, comes...
German ratings agency USK to issue warnings about loot boxes and chat features. German video game ratings agency USK will be implementing new assessment criteria in January 2023 that allows it to mark the inclusion of features such as loot boxes and voice chat in games. According to a translated press release, the new rules will allow it to supplement age ratings with information spotlighting in-game spending...
TOP COMICS BUSINESS STORIES OF 2022. Oh 2022, where did you go? All of a sudden, it's time to look in the rearview mirror for the highlights, lowlights and flashing red lights of the past 12 months. Here's my annual list of top stories from the world of comics publishing, licensing and media. North American comic sales top $2 billion. Let’s start off with the good news: it’s raining money! According to the annual...
Distroller World, a retail entertainment brand that exists to overwhelm the world with joy by pushing the limits of imagination and creativity through unique experiences and storytelling, will cease US operations effective Dec. 15, 2022 due to restructuring company strategies. Distroller first launched in the U.S. in 2017 with a brick and mortar in San Diego followed by locations in Houston and Glendale, CA.
The FTC has secured agreements requiring Epic Games to pay a total of $520 million in relief over allegations the company violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and deployed design tricks, known as dark patterns, to dupe millions of players into making unintentional purchases. The FTC’s action against Epic involves two separate record-breaking settlements.
***the above posted after December 16th***
Parents file lawsuit saying their kids are addicted to Fortnite. A Canadian Supreme Court judge authorized the filing by Quebec parents against Fortnite's manufacturer Epic Games. Parents say their kids are so addicted that they don't take care of regular everyday hygiene such as showering. Some kids are so dependent on Fortnite, they've stopped eating and sleeping, according to BBC News and reported by Insider.
Apple will permit third-party app stores for Europe in 2024. Beginning in 2024, Apple will allow third-party app stores to exist on its platform, reports Bloomberg. This only extends to Europe, and is part of a larger overhaul meant to follow the new law made by the European Union. The Union's upcoming Digital Markets Act (DMA) was made with the goal of improving customers' digital lives, and part of that means...
Hong Kong to lift all quarantine restrictions on arrivals. From tomorrow, visitors to Hong Kong who test negative will no longer need an amber health code and can enter restaurants and other premises previously off limits to them. According to a report in the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong will finally be scrapping its amber health code from Wednesday, effectively lifting all travel restrictions for arrivals into the city..
European Commission argues FTC's Microsoft lawsuit is unjustified. The FTC's recent lawsuit against Microsoft's Activision Blizzard acquisition is receiving from pushback from the European Commission. In a report from MLex (and released by ResetEra), the European regulator argued against the FTC's notion that Microsoft has been dishonest in making Starfield and Redfall into Xbox exclusives..
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The Character Group announced results for the year ended 31st August 2022. The accounts show that group turnover in the year increased by +26% to £176.4m (2021: £140m) and delivered a profit before tax of £11.4m.
***The above posted after December 16th***
Trends, Market Research, and State of the Industry
'Avatar' Opens Big; Donald Glover Does 'Spider-Man' Universe; New 'Superman' Movie without Cavill, Who Goes to 'Warhammer 40K'; 'Across the Spider-verse' Trailer; 'Slime' Gets Date; 'Party & Prey' Gets Legendary Deal; New Miyazaki Movie
***The aboved was posted after December 16th TBR send***
Stories, Comments, and Advice
The Best Gifts for 12-Year-Olds, According to Experts. The Strategist. While you might think the tween years all blend together, those who spend a lot of time with adolescents say that is not exactly the case. when it comes to choosing gifts for these not-yet-teenagers, your best bet is to let their interests be your guide. For those who may not have that time, though, we asked 24 experts (including actual 12-year-olds) to...
Why Are Toys Ingrained In Our Culture? For many, the holiday season means gift giving. According to the American Retail Federation, the average American is set to spend more than $830 on gifts and other holiday items this year — with much of that being spent on toys. Toy spending topped $38 billion in the U.S. in 2021.
Once a Santa, always a Santa: An L.A. set decorator and seasonal Santa tells all. Almost 20 years since “Elf” became a holiday classic, it is almost impossible to see a Santa, any Santa, and not reenact, or at least think of, Will Ferrell as Buddy the Elf utterly freaking out over seeing a department store Santa. Or Buddy’s horrified gasp of “You’re not Santa” when he realizes this is not the real deal.
A Nativity scene made with 900 Playmobil toys. Last Monday, the bishop of the diocese of Coria-Cáceres, in the far northeast of Extremadura (Spain), blessed a Nativity scene made from more than 900 Playmobil pieces. In a press release published by the diocese, Monsignor Jesús Pulido explained that he visited the Nativity scene with his 9-year-old nephew, “and it is an experience that I want to recommend to...
Why Hot Wheels are one of the most inflation-proof toys in American history. Inflation, the curse of our pocketbooks and the Federal Reserve, has hit almost every good in the U.S. But the price of a beloved toy has managed to hover around $1 — for more than 50 years. Hot Wheels are a retail oddity. They remain one of the most affordable toys in the country at a time when inflation is chipping away at savings accounts...
Are you a 'kidult'? More adults are buying toys for themselves in growing trend. Adults who buy toys for themselves have fueled the growth of a toy industry catering more and more to "kidults" looking to capture some carefree fun. A rising group of "kidults," or adults who buy toys for themselves, now makes up at least 25% of toy consumers and has the industry marketing more and more products to adults looking for some...
30 Years Later, Barry Levinson’s Toys Is Still A Strange Movie. Remember Toys starring Robin Williams? No? Well, it’s been 30 years since this forgotten curio was released at the height of Williams’ fame. Around this time, Williams had appeared in the critically lauded The Fisher King in 1991, Aladdin earlier in 1992 and would go on to appear in Mrs Doubtfire in 1993. Arguably, these few years feature some of Williams’...
The 12 Most Anticipated Video Games of 2023. 2023 is shaping up to be a huge year for gaming, with almost wall-to-wall releases coming out at least once a month, though in some instances more like once a week. The new year could potentially bring on record-breaking sales, although delays of some of the year’s biggest games are always on the table, given the crowded release schedule.
***The above posted after December 16th***
John Baulch, Toy World - Race to the finish line …it’s the Friday Blog! With only nine days trading left before the big day, the metaphorical bell has been rung and we are very much on the final lap, hurtling towards the finishing line like a long-lost episode of Wacky Races and hoping for one last sprint to make it a grandstand finish.
'The View' shares 2022's hottest toys and must-haves for the holidays. Learn about the newest toys that your kids can enjoy year-round! The holidays are just a few days away, but there's still plenty of time to get the little ones in your life the perfect gift! “The View” gets the inside scoop on the hottest holiday toys from toy expert, Elizabeth Werner.
INSIDE THE WORLD OF CONTEMPORARY BOARD GAME DESIGN. Modern board games can help us understand complex real world scenarios, while also having fun. We take a look inside the current boom for new games and how they are designed. The cover of Daybreak, a new cooperative board game exploring climate change, presents an optimistic vision of the near future with a sunrise breaking over ...
HASBRO'S FIRESIDE CHAT AND THE DIRECTION OF 'MAGIC: THE GATHERING' I listened to the Hasbro "fireside chat" a couple of times and gleaned some interesting information from the discussion. One of the more striking bits, at least to me, was the breakdown of Magic: The Gathering player demographics. According to Wizards of the Coast, there are approximately 50 million active Magic players with a mean...
A girl named Madeline, with a vivid imagination and remarkable awareness of how bureaucracy can dash dreams, got her wish when she asked LA animal control authorities for a license to own a unicorn — if she’s able to find one. The first-of-its-kind permit came with strings attached, however: The mythical creature must be provided ample exposure to sunlight, moonbeams and rainbows and have its horn...
A new documentary about the 75-year history of Bazooka Bubble Gum Turns 75. Featuring interviews with toy designer David Vonner, Ming Chen, and cartoonist and editor Art Spiegelman, this is the definitive look at the origin of the name, flavor, and the comics we know and love featuring Bazooka Joe. Fun fact: I learned that former Disney CEO Michael Eisner owns the company now. Wild.
The Countries that Pay the Most and Least for LEGO. The price of LEGO differs depending on the country where you shop. In fact, TheToyZone found a 744% difference between the average price of LEGO in the most and least expensive markets. We researched the prices of eight popular LEGO sets in marketplaces across roughly 200 countries where new LEGO sets are sold and totaled up the average price...
Toys R Us may have grown up, but the pandemic is fueling its rebirth. It’s fitting that Toys R Us — the once iconic toy store — is being reborn as we grapple with the changes wrought by a global pandemic. After all, the chain was born in the aftermath of another global crisis: World War II. Taking advantage of changes in the postwar world, the store developed a powerful brand and model that is once again captivating.
Former President Donald Trump on Thursday revealed a new foray into NFT sales, sharing a website that offers a series of what he called “digital trading cards” for $99 each. On a website called CollectTrumpCards.com, the 45th president is selling a series of artworks featuring likenesses of himself depicted as a superhero with laser eyes, an astronaut, a John Wayne-like cowboy and a golfer...
History and Nostalgia
Who first thought of Jack-in-the-Box? The first Jack-in-the-Box toys began to appear in the 16th century and are thought to have evolved from squeak toys that first appeared in Europe in the 1500s. These early Jack-in-the-Box toys were often more scary than funny, but as attitudes towards children softened, the toys became cuter and less fearsome. Early manufacturers made the boxes out of wood, and later...
Tyco – Precision Engineered HO Scale Model Electric Trains (1959). Tyco Toys (the name is a portmanteau of Tyler Company after company founder John Tyler) began manufacturing HO Scale electric model trains in the 1930s, eventually becoming the largest and oldest company devoted exclusively to the manufacture of those trains in the United States.
Branded from Milton Bradley. Reputation management was center stage in Milton Bradley’s Branded. Released in 1966, the game was based on the TV series of the same name that ran on NBC from 1965-1966. With box art featuring the show’s star, Chuck Connors, the roll-and-move game saw players take on the fictional role of Jason McCord, a former United States Army cavalry captain who was court-martialed...
***The above posted after December 16th***
Who first thought of Lionel Trains? Joshua Lionel Cowen, an engineering entrepreneur, designed his first electric train as a store window attraction around 1900. After customers began asking to purchase the train rather than the product it was meant to advertise, Cowen founded the Lionel Manufacturing Company to meet the demand.
Tron Action Figures from TOMY (1982). One of my favorite movies to come out of the 1980s is Tron. A daring glimpse into the future of technology, this classic Disney flick pulled back the shroud to showcase what a world run by computers could look like. While it may have come across as a little too convoluted for most moviegoers of the early ’80s, it enjoyed moderate success at the box office and would spend the next...
Frosty the Snowman from Parker Brothers (1979). Released in 1979 by Parker Brothers, the Frosty the Snowman game tasked kids with bringing Frosty back to life by being the first player to reach his Magic Hat. The character of Frosty was first made famous in the 1950 “Frosty the Snowman” song performed by Gene Autry.
Dangerous boomer toys from decades past. This was in an era before the U.S. government decided to get involved in what was proper and safe for children to play or experiment with. These were the same curious “Baby Boomers” who would take “experimentation” to new levels in the late 1960s.
Licensing and Entertainment
For Ground Up International, the kids’ character fun continues in a big way in 2023. The New York-based footwear company, which already produces shoes for Disney, Nickelodeon, Star Wars and many others, announced it has eight new licensing partnerships set to launch in the coming year, with Bluey, Mattel, Hasbro, Chainsaw Man, Afro Unicorn, Miraculous Lady Bug, WWE and Billy’s Footwear.
The 50 Best Holiday Movies of All Time, Ranked. Ah yes, holiday movies. While you can legally watch them anytime of year, it only feels appropriate when the weather is chilly, the Christmas lights are twinkling, and the drinks are flowing. While there are hundreds and hundreds of holiday movies to choose from, which are considered the very best?
NBCUniversal has ordered Inspiration Station Africa, DreamWorks’ first live-action series set in South Africa. Aimed at kids ages six to 12, the series (six x 22 minutes) is hosted by two boys, Tanaka and Aaron, who discuss topical issues with other children from Johannesburg and Cape Town. The hosts will also explore the stories behind award-winning DreamWorks Animation series and films.
Magic Frame Animation and Creation Entertainment Media are targeting co-viewing audiences with film adaptations of a series of Christmas- and mystery-themed books. The two UK-based studios are developing a set of CG-animated fantasy movies based on Georges Alexander Vagan’s ongoing Paul Martin book series.
Reemsborko is pleased to announce its appointment as the UK licensing agency for Naruto, Naruto Shippuden and Boruto by TV TOKYO Corporation to grow the consumer products business in the UK. Naruto – the story of Naruto Uzumaki, a young ninja who seeks recognition from his peers and dreams of becoming the Hokage, the leader of his village. The anime series began airing in the UK in 2006.
Paragon FX Group Brings Movie Magic Direct to Home with Film and TV Memorabilia. Ever wish you could own Batman’s Grapnel Launcher or how about One-eyed Willy’s Treasure Map from The Goonies? Maybe it was the Ruby Slippers from The Wizard of Oz or John Hammond’s cane from Jurassic Park? Chances are, if you ever wanted it, Paragon FX Group makes it; or has it in some level of production.
Amazon Studios secures rights to ‘Warhammer 40K’ universe. Amazon Studios has secured rights to the intellectual property of “Warhammer 40,000,” owned by Games Workshop, for series, film and more. Actor Henry Cavill (“Man of Steel,” “Mission: Impossible”) is a longtime fan of the franchise and is attached as star and executive producer. Established almost 40 years ago, “Warhammer” has been expanding...
BBC Studios, VTech expand partnership for ‘Bluey’ toys. Launching in Q3 2023, the interactive range of electronic toys – including the brand’s first musical product – will feature characters from “Bluey” and land across the U.S., Mexico, Canada, France, Belgium, Spain, U.K. and Australia. The series’ new range consists of “Bluey’s” Keytar, Scooter Time “Bluey,” Shake It “Bluey,” Game Time laptop and the “Bluey” Fun and Games book.
Psyonix announces ‘Rocket League’ collaboration with Bugatti. Video game developer, Psyonix, is collaborating with luxury supercar maker Bugatti to announce that the Bugatti Centodieci will be available in “Rocket League” beginning Dec. 19. The Bugatti Centodieci Bundle will be available in the Item Shop and features the Bugatti Centodieci car, Bugatti Centodieci engine audio, Bugatti Centodieci wheels, Noire decal...
Amazon Games and Crystal Dynamics strike deal. Amazon Games and Crystal Dynamics (owned by Embracer Group) announced they have reached an agreement under which Crystal Dynamics will develop a new multiplatform “Tomb Raider” title, with Amazon Games providing full support and publishing the game globally. The as-yet-untitled new “Tomb Raider” game is a single-player, narrative-driven adventure...
***The above posted after December 16th***
New Pokémon animated series to premiere worldwide in 2023. The latest content for the 25-year-old anime franchise will say farewell to Ash Ketchum and Pikachu and follow a new pair of protagonists who set out to explore the region of Paldea. After 25 long years, Ash Ketchum’s journey to become the Pokémon world champion is complete, and his story is drawing to a close.
Sega has announced that Netflix’s animated Sonic the Hedgehog Series, Sonic Prime, co-produced with WildBrain, makes its global debut today (15th Dec). The 24-episode first season animated adventure for kids, families and long-time fans draws upon the keystones of the brand and features the ‘Blue Blur’ of video game fame in a high-octane adventure where the fate of a strange new multiverse rests in his gloved hands.
Apple TV+ has renewed The Jim Henson Company’s live-action series Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock for a second season. The 13 x 30-minute series for kids ages six and up is a reboot of ’80s classic Fraggle Rock, produced by LA-based New Regency in association with Henson. Characters from the original series return once more to sing and dance about friendship in their cave-dwelling community.
The Witch Mountain film franchise is heading down a new path for its next installment—as a Disney+ pilot. The streamer has greenlit this co-pro from Disney Branded TV, ABC Signature and LA-based Davis Entertainment (Jungle Cruise) to join its growing slate of live-action projects.
Travis Fickett and Terry Matalas (Star Trek: Picard) are penning the scripts and will executive produce alongside director Augustine Frizzell...
Russian broadcaster Media1 is replacing Disney Channel Russia with a brand-new family channel called Solntse (“Sun” in English) that launches tomorrow. Disney’s business in Russia has been suspended since the country invaded Ukraine this past spring. As part of its corporate stance, all Disney film releases were quickly put on hold, and the company has been working since to shut down the channel...
Formula E has announced a new partnership with leading micromobility brand, Zinc Sports, part of Hy-Pro International. The exclusive partnership leverages Zinc’s 15 years’ experience in scooter manufacturing to launch a range of Formula E-branded e-scooter products in the UK. Micromobility aligns with Formula E’s mission of accelerating the adoption and development of electric vehicles.
Super Nintendo World officially opens at Universal Studios Hollywood on Friday, February 17, 2023. The opening marks Super Nintendo World’s official arrival to the United States – Universal Studios Japan got a version of the themed land in 2021. The all-new, dynamic land will be located within a newly-expanded area of Universal Studios Hollywood in the lower section of the park, near the Transformers ride.
IDW Entertainment is moving into animated content with a trio of fantasy book adaptations on its development slate. The company’s two-pronged strategy with these projects is to broaden its kids TV portfolio and also experiment with the medium of animation, says senior director of kids, family and animation Daniel Kendrick. “We’re playing with some out-of-the-box visual styles on these properties,” he notes, ..
Disney Branded Television’s ‘Superkitties,’ and Digital Soundtrack to Premier Jan11, 2023. SuperKitties, an adorable, action-packed animated series about Ginny, Sparks, Buddy and Bitsy ― four cute and cuddly kittens who are brave, smart, strong and kind and with their talents combined, turn into Superkitties when trouble arises ― is set to premiere Wednesday, Jan. 11,with a simulcast on Disney Channel and Disney Jr.
Genius Brands, SMAC Productions — Michael Strahan’s production company, and Blue Origin — Jeff Bezos’ aerospace company — are coming together to produce Blue Origin Space Rangers, an animated TV series made to inspire kids with space travel. “Blue Origin Space Rangers will be groundbreaking for Genius Brands in its creative scope, and for me personally, it is a dream come true given my lifelong passion ...
GET A FIRST LOOK AT HASBRO’S STAR WARS: BOBA FETT ELECTRONIC MASK. As part of this season’s Bring Home the Galaxy campaign, The Toy Book, in collaboration with Hasbro and Lucasfilm, has your first look at the all-new Star Wars: Boba Fett Electronic Mask. Kids ages 5 and up can imagine epic adventures and galactic duels with this Star Wars mask inspired by one of the most iconic characters from a galaxy far, far away.
Rec Room and Mattel are bringing Masters of the Universe to a virtual universe! Rec Room is a virtual reality game available on PC, Xbox, PlayStation, Oculus Quest, Meta Quest 2, and as an app for iOS or Android. The multiplayer game places players within a center area (the rec center) with entrances to mini-games created by the developers, as well as a number designed by other players.
Funko marks Warner Bros. 100th anniversary with Looney Tunes, Scooby Doo collection. Celebrating Warner Brothers’ 100th anniversary, Funko has announced a new mash-up series that features iconic Looney Tunes characters like Daffy Duck, Taz, and Lola Bunny dressed as Scooby-Doo’s Mystery, Inc. What’s up gang? Or… hey, Doc? Get ready to meddle with supernatural villains and search for clues with Pop! Bugs Bunny...
‘Winnie-the-Pooh’ prequel feature in works as producers look to emulate ‘Paddington,’ ‘Peter Rabbit’ reboot success. With Paddington Bear and Peter Rabbit having been given hugely successful big-screen reboots, a group of DreamWorks alumni are hoping to do the same for another beloved British children’s creation: Winnie-the-Pooh.
Toikido Partners with P.M.I and Character Options to launch ‘Piñata Smashlings’. Toikido has partnered with P.M.I and Character Options PLC to deliver children’s brand, “Piñata Smashlings,” an immersive IP set to launch in 2023. “Piñata Smashlings” becomes the first IP created solely in-house by Toikido and will consist of “Roblox” game in production, as well as a series of animated shorts, music, suite of toys, collectibles...
‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ trailer promises a sea of new web-slingers for latest multiverse adventure. A new look at Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse dropped on Tuesday, teasing a whole new web of colorful spidey adventures. The 2.5 minute trailer offers one of the fullest glimpses at the latest chapter of Miles Morales’ hero’s journey, which sees him reunite with Gwen Stacy on a trip through the multiverse.
Amazon Games and Bandai Namco Online bring ‘Blue Protocol’ to the West in 2023. Amazon Games and Bandai Namco Online have announced they are bringing “Blue Protocol,” a multiplayer online action role-playing game featuring anime-inspired art, to North America, Europe, South America, Australia and New Zealand. “Blue Protocol” will be free-to-play for PC, Xbox Series X|S, and PlayStation 5 in the second half of 2023...
People of Play
Cephalofair Games has hired Ross Thompson to become their new Marketing and Crowdfunding Manager. Thompson is an games industry veteran with 12 years of experience, and has worked for companies such as CMON, Soda Pop Miniatures, USAopoly, and IDW Publishing. He comes to Cephalofair after working as the Head of Trade Marketing at Steamforged Games. “Ross has so much experience with...
Simba Smoby Toys UK bolsters team ahead of 2023. Ben Hogg joins the Simba Smoby team as head of Marketing while Sophie Bryan takes up the role of brand manager. “Sadly, we also say goodbye to Mayur Pattni next month whose work as marketing manager over the past six years has certainly laid the foundations and will stand the new team in good stead. We wish him all the best for his next role.”
Just Play is adding to its leadership team with the appointment of Shari Mann as the company’s Head of International. Mann brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to Just Play with almost 20 years in the toy industry focusing on international business. Mann started her toy career in 2003 working for Charlie Emby, co-CEO of Just Play, as the International Sales Manager at Play Along.
***The above posted after December 16th***
Licensing agency IMG has announced the appointment of Adam Steel to the role of senior licensing director. In his new role, Adam will help drive IMG’s entertainment and gaming licensing business, which includes an impressive portfolio of clients such as Rovio, Lionsgate, Epic Games, Booba and Skydance among others.
Arcade1Up, has announced three new additions to the company’s sales team to support its growth and expanding U.S. and international business. Eric Van Kannel, Michael Fisher and Kuntha Kith have been hired as Director of Digital Sales, Sales Manager and Director of Business Planning respectively for the leader in at-home retro arcade game entertainment. All three will report to Vice President of Sales Chris Cardenas.
ZAG has promoted its top LatAm consumer products executive Angela Cortez to oversee the company’s Canadian consumer products business. The announcement was made today by Jeremy Zag, Founder and CEO, ZAG. Serving as VP, Licensing & Retail, Latin America and Canada, Angela Cortez is tasked with growing the presence of ZAG in the Canadian market–in addition...
Judith Ellis, who founded the world’s very first baccalaureate degree program in Toy Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), is retiring — and she has a new successor. To continue the legacy, Ellis names colleague Susan Baumbach as her successor. Baumbach has served as an instructor of games in the Toy Design program for 28 years, and was the first female vice president at Pressman Toy Corp.
Beacon Communications Expands Leadership Team. Under the leadership of MacNeil, Amanda Lao moves into a newly expanded role as VP of PR, Communications, and Engagement. Lao joined Beacon in 2018 and has been instrumental in charting the agency’s path forward with strategic initiatives driving client agendas. Lao, is an award-winning executive with over 11 yrs of marketing leadership experience working with...
CandyRific LLC, a candy and novelty distributor, has promoted Frank Puglia. After previously serving as the company’s creative director for nine years, and working on CandyRific’s products for about 18 years, Puglia has now been appointed as CandyRific’s executive vice president of product development.
Warner Bros. revealed a new, global leadership team, which will manage the combination of two of its branches, Warner Bros. Consumer Products and Discovery Consumer Products. The team will report to Pam Lifford, President of Warner Bros. Discovery Global Brands, Franchises, and Experiences. Warner Bros.’ new division will manage more brands beyond those they already oversee, including HBO, Discovery, HGTV, Cartoon Network, and others.
Companies and Brands
A Mini Moon Rover from the Toy Company That Created Transformers. Japan’s space agency, JAXA, hired Takara Tomy to design a rolling lunar robot called SORA-Q. It’s now en route to the moon. The private museum of Takara Tomy, the Japanese toy company responsible for Transformers, Beyblade, and Zoids, is filled with playthings from Christmases past. In a lovingly curated room in the company’s Tokyo...
VTech® and LeapFrog® announced their holiday lineups have received more than 80 industry awards from trusted parenting websites, toy industry experts, toy advisory boards and major retailers. Many new products received multiple awards across various toy testing programs and holiday lists, including VTech products My First Kidi™ Smartwatch, Level Up Gaming Chair™ and DJ Beat Boxer™, and from LeapFrog, My Pal...
Cra-Z-Art has teamed up with NBC’s Today Show to donate toys to children in need during the holiday season as part of the program’s annual Toy Drive. Cra-Z-Art will donate over $10,000 worth of their iconic and popular Snoopy Sno Cone Machines to several different charities that directly aid children. The item was recently featured on a “Today Show” segment about nostalgic holiday toys.
Hape Supports 10th Annual ‘Christmas with the Curry’s’ Holiday Event. The 10th Annual Christmas with the Curry’s kicked off the holiday season and spirit with a major charitable drive at Bridge Yard in Oakland, California, supporting 500 local Oakland families on Sunday, December 11th. Among the many charitable partners, Hape had the honor of supporting more than 2,000 participants with wrapped branded product...
Snuggle Puppy is thrilled to announce the launch of Snuggle Puppy HERO, a huggable friend designed to help with children’s anxiety, stress, or overstimulation. ”Since 1997, we’ve helped millions of animals around the world and receive incredible stories about the impact Snuggle Puppy has made on our four-legged friends, from dogs to cats, monkeys, and even bears”, said Rob Emery, Founder & CEO,...
***the above posted after December 16th***
Sambro International has extended its rights with Hasbro, adding iconic brands to its growing product portfolio for the UK & EMEA region, including My Little Pony, Transformers and PJ Masks. The global supplier of licensed and own brand children’s toys and entertainment has held a long-term contract with Hasbro since 2008. Since 2020, Sambro has distributed an extensive range of Peppa Pig arts & craft toys across Europe...
LEGO is adding a new set to its Modular Building Collection next year. The LEGO Jazz Club sets the tone for a smooth evening of music and relaxing building. The set is built in five pieces, including a pizza parlor, an office, a tailor’s workshop, a dressing room, a rooftop greenhouse, and — of course — the jazz club. The set also comes with eight minifigures: a Jazz Singer, Bassist, Drummer, Pizza Chef, Pizza Delivery Driver...
Hamleys has launched a Christmas campaign which aims to raise awareness of its festive in-store experiences. The campaign has been created with VCCP London, media agency VCCP Media and VCCP’s content production studio Girl&Bear. Tapping into the seasonal excitement in the lead up to Christmas, the enchanting campaign reminds the nation of the joy that lies in authentic experiences with loved ones, with a...
Broadening its international presence, Funko, the leading pop culture lifestyle company, and Loungefly, the company’s fan-forward lifestyle brand, will become part of the groundbreaking Mindstyle Mission Control in C Future City. Alongside other leading lifestyle brands, including Popaganda, Secret Base, Bait, Zentao and more, both Funko and Loungefly will be highlighted as part of an all-new consumer ...
University Games has announced the launch of the Kickstarter phenomenon Forbidden Games in the UK with a range of four strategic games that are available exclusively from Waterstones. Born from a Kickstarter campaign in 2018 and launched in the US, the Forbidden Games titles have gone from strength to strength in the strategic games market. The latest addition, Mosaic, which launched this autumn, ...
‘Neopets: Faerie’s Hope’ Launches on Mobile. Neopets is thrilled to announce the launch of their highly anticipated Match 3 game, Neopets: Faerie’s Hope. Starting now, Neopets fans in the U.S., Canada, U.K., France, and Germany can dive into a captivating Neopian world full of intriguing characters, daring adventures, and compelling storylines.
M2 Machines is making a move that could signal a bigger change in the world of toys that can be considered collectibles. Following years of adding “chase” stickers to the packaging of its limited edition offerings, the company has revealed plans to discontinue the practice heading into 2023. Over the next few months, M2 Machines, a division of Castline, will phase out chase decals across its entire range of products.
Country Music star Tyler Hubbard, First Responders Children’s Foundation, and Mattel teamed up this week to deliver 2,000 toys to children undergoing treatment at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville, the local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital.
The Pokémon Company International announced the next expansion for the bestselling Pokémon Trading Card Game, Scarlet & Violet, inspired by the recently released Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet video games. The Pokémon TCG: Scarlet & Violet expansion will be launching worldwide beginning on March 31, 2023.
Bazooka Companies, Inc is culminating its landmark, 75th anniversary with the premiere of a documentary that honors Bazooka Bubble Gum’s history, and its significant impact on popular culture as a pioneer in the confectionery industry and fans worldwide. The film, titled Bazooka Bubble Gum Turns 75, takes fans from the brand’s humble beginnings to the creation of the Bazooka Joe character and the comics,...
Omens Studios is further expanding its creative offering to global audiences launching its new program, the ‘Omens Multiverse’ to take animation and movie-based IPs into virtual reality and interactive experiences. The studio has two projects currently in development – Circle Line and Oasis – which will both be available as VR experiences and have NFT collections.
Inuru, a pioneer in practical and transformative light technology, is presenting its new line of paper-thin organic LEDs (OLED) at the 2023 CES, Booth 9274. Located in the Enterprise section of the North Hall near “Smart Cities,” Inuru’s 10’ X 20’ exhibit will feature an immersive cyber-punk experience, showcasing the company’s latest breakthroughs in whole electronic circuitry, condensed...
FLYBAR PLOTS EXPANSION WITH DISTRIBUTION CENTER SET TO OPEN IN SOUTH CAROLINA. Flybar, Inc. has come a long way from its roots in selling pogo sticks. The growing toy company is opening a distribution center in Greenwood County, South Carolina next month. Flybar‘s $8 million investment will create at least 36 American jobs at the new facility. “South Carolina’s booming economy and strong workforce...
Corvus Belli reveals 'Military Hospitaller Action Pack'. Corvus Belli revealed Military Hospitaller Action Pack, for Infinity miniatures game, which will release into retail in January 2023. The Military Hospitaller Action Pack includes 11 miniatures for The Hospital faction. The Hospital is a powerful and influential Religious Military Order in PanOceania that features crusader knights.
Lucky Duck Games announces 'Once Upon A Line'. Lucky Duck Games announced Once Upon a Line, a new story-driven puzzle game, which will hit Kickstarter in January 2023. In this cooperative game, players take on the role of god-like “Zephyrymes” that help influence the actions of heroes to inspire them to bring balance to a world in the grip of chaos
Hasbro celebrates 10 years of Global Day of Joy. Hasbro’s London employees have taken part in their third Annual Monopoly Walk for MediCinema as part of Hasbro’s annual Global Day of Joy. Continuing with the company’s commitment to purpose, Global Day of Joy is Hasbro’s company-wide day of service intended to bring joy to local communities through a series of events and opportunities.
Heidelbar reveals 'Tails on Fire' for U.S. retail. HeidelBAR Games revealed Tails on Fire, a new card game, for release into U.S. retail in Q1 2023. Tails on Fire is an easy-to-learn card game by German author Thomas Sellner with art by Mexican artist Mayra Guadalupe Ornelas Ramos. The game is themed after a tale of Mexico's indigenous Huichol people, where an opossum stole an iguana's fire with her tail.
Gaming: Digital, Video, Hardware, and Development
Splinter Cell: Audio drama, gaming's next frontier? Whether it's World of Warcraft, Uncharted or the upcoming Super Mario movie - games characters have been all over our cinemas in recent years. The Last of Us is coming to television screens, where shows based on Resident Evil and Halo have found audiences.
The Steam Deck had a phenomenal first year. Though it’s hard to say whether or not “Steam Deck” has become a household name yet, it certainly deserves such a status after an impressive introduction. Valve’s mini-PC has had a one-of-a-kind first year, one that might make other platforms envious.
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 ($29.99 at https://www.adventerragamesusa.com/), 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
Vanderbilt experts advise keeping safety in mind when buying toys. December is the biggest gift-giving month in the world. Did you know it is also Safe Toys and Gifts Month? According to a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) report that highlights unsafe toys and safety precautions about dangers associated with the holidays, about 200,000 toy-related injuries in children ages 15 and younger were treated at emergency departments across the United States in 2021.
HABA USA recalls Discovery Cubes Animal Hide and Seek Activity Toys due to choking and ingestion hazards (recall alert). This recall involves the Discovery Cubes Animal Hide and Seek activity toys. The toys are in the shape of a house made with multicolored fabric. The toy animals in the house include a fox, a hedgehog and a mouse. The toys have different pockets and rings. The model number 306684 can be found on the sewn in label inside the house and on the packaging.
Associations, Shows, Awards, Events, and Festivals
Toymaster has hailed its 12 Days of Christmas campaign a success following a busy period across its social media channels. The campaign is put together in partnership with the suppliers that have supported the independent toy buying group’s annual Christmas Window Feature, which members can install for free at their stores. Toymaster created 24 prize bundles featuring the brands included in the window and...
***The above posted after December 16th***
Local kid inventors from O’Fallon shine In Chicago toys and games competition. Who needs Santa’s elves when a group of young students are busy inventing toys and games? In their first year as an organization, members of the Innovators Club at St. Clare School in O’Fallon were among the top place finishers at a national contest last month.
ETAI, the organiser of the Deauville Preshow Noël show, has announced the first edition of Direct Sourcing Toys & Games 2023 at the Hilton Amsterdam, Schiphol, from 10th-12th October, 2023. The in-person event will cover direct sourcing for private label and FOB across toys and games. By using the effective showroom format of the Deauville Preshow, ETAI says it is responding to the market’s need for a targeted ...
The winners of the prestigious Toy Retailer of the Year Awards along with other special BTHA awards will be announced on 23rd January. The British Toy & Hobby Association (BTHA) has announced the finalists for the Toy Retailer of the Year Awards 2022. The shortlist is: Independent Toy Retailer of the Year (single store)...
Announcing the Kidscreen Hot50 results for 2022! Our annual list of the top 50 companies in kids entertainment has some big upsets in broadcasting and licensing, several multiple-category showings by all-rounders, and some impressive first-time entries. Following a couple of very challenging pandemic years, the kids entertainment industry came back with gusto in 2022, delivering a wide range of creative...
The 80th annual Golden Globe Awards unveiled its nominations Monday. Winners will be announced January 10 in a live, NBC-and Peacock-televised show from the Beverly Hilton hosted by Jerrod Carmichael. The HFPA-backed Globes’ 10 best picture nominees across its Drama and Comedy/Musical Comedy categories are Avatar: The Way of Water, Elvis, The Fablemans, Tár and Top Gun: Maverick (Drama) and Babylon...
The first-ever Children’s and Family Emmy Awards, held by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS), saw a Netflix sweep led by series including Heartstopper (pictured) and Maya and the Three. The ceremony was held over two nights, with NATAS awarding the creative arts categories on December 10 and all other categories on December 11. The first night saw Disney+ live-action film Sneakerella...
Licensing International Reveals Panelists for Sports Licensing Summit. Licensing International, the leading trade organization for the global brand licensing industry, and the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA), the top trade association for the sporting goods and fitness industry, have revealed the first wave of expert speakers participating in the brand-new Sports Licensing Summit.
SPIELWARENMESSE WORLD OF TOYS COMING TO NY, JAPAN. The organizer of the annual Spielwarenmesse Int'l Toy Fair in Nuremberg will make its first appearance at the Tokyo Toy Fair in Japan from June 8-11 at the Tokyo Big Sight Exhibition Center. Spielwarenmesse eG is planning on hosting the World of Toys pavilion on Thursday and Friday of the fair, which is reserved for trade visitors only. The deadline to apply is Feb. 17.
2023 will see the induction of three members of the WTHRA Hall of Fame including Lorraine Bozeman, Carol Knight and Mark Parsons. A Retailer of the Year award will be given to a small west coast based toy store chain, Piccolo Mondo located in Oregon. The ToyFest Gala will take place at Resorts World’s nightclub Zouk, Tuesday, Feb 28, 2023, at 7:00 PM.
The 103 Best Book Covers of 2022. For what is now the seventh time in a row, I am pleased to present the best book covers of the year—as chosen by some of the industry’s best book cover designers. This year, I asked 31 designers to share their favorite covers of the year, and they came back with a grand total of 103 covers, representing work by 62 different designers for 54 different imprints.
The Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair will once again welcome visitors when the 49th edition of the show kicks off January 9-12 at the Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Centre. And we are ready to be back to seeing toys in person! Thanks to relaxed quarantine restrictions, seeing the show in person is once again feasible for visitors from around the world, including those from the U.S.
INDX Toy & Gift announces new dates for 2023. In a revision to its previously released dates, INDX Toy & Gift will now be returning to its West Midlands exhibition venue, Cranmore Park, on 14th -15th March 2023. In addition to the new dates, the show has also changed its name, from INDX Toys & Nursery Gifts to INDX Toy & Gift, reflecting a more inclusive pr
The Game Awards 2022 Winners: The Full List. The Game Awards 2022 are a wrap, and Elden Ring took home the biggest award of the night: Game of the Year. God of War Ragnarok also did pretty well for itself, taking home a handful of awards.
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.
Kevin Conroy, the voice actor best known for portraying DC Comics' Batman, passed away from cancer at the age of 66. The news was initially reported via Diane Pershing (the voice actor for Poison Ivy on Batman: The Animated Series), and later corroborated by Warner Bros. Animation.
"Our beloved voice of Batman, Kevin Conroy, died yesterday," reads Pershing's post. "He's been ill for a while but he really put in a lot of time at the cons, to the joy of all of his fans. He will be sorely missed not just by the cast of the series but by his legion of fans all over the world."
Initially an actor for stage and television, Conroy rose to voice acting prominence with 1992's Batman: The Animated Series. That series ran four seasons, but he continued to voice the comic book character throughout its many spinoffs such as Batman Beyond and Justice League.
He would go on to voice Batman in nearly every animated DC project that featured the hero, and even got to play him in live action during the CW's adaptation of Crisis on Infinite Earths in 2019.
Outside of animation, Conroy went on to voice Batman in multiple video games, including Rocksteady's Batman Arkham and Netherrealm's Injustice franchises. His final role as Batman is in Player First Games' MultiVersus. And beyond Batman, his voice acting career included Lords of EverQuest, Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, and Max Payne 2.
In a statement from WB provided to press, Batman voice director Andrea Romano wrote: "Kevin was far more than an actor whom I had the pleasure of casting and directing – he was a dear friend for 30+ years whose kindness and generous spirit knew no boundaries. Kevin’s warm heart, delightfully deep laugh and pure love of life will be with me forever.”
“Kevin was perfection,” continued longtime Joker voice actor Mark Hamill. "I loved him like a brother. He truly cared for the people around him – his decency shone through everything he did. Every time I saw him or spoke with him, my spirits were elevated.”
Conroy is survived by his husband Vaughn C. Williams and siblings Trisha and Tom Conroy.
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- 'Critical Role' Leviathan Figure Emerges from the Depths
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