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February 11 - 18, 2022

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Welcome to Your Weekly News Brief!

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Happy Bloomin’ Friday!

 

Connolly's Pub Night is on and everybody is welcome! We can't be in person, but we are not letting that stop us! The virtual party is free to all, Details and RSVP HERE!

Are you a marketer? Join us for the Kickoff for Toy & Game Marketing Community Quarterly Panels and Networking.  It is just before the Connolly's event. 

If you are a member of the Toy Association, large or small, this is the zoom link to the annual meeting is next Tuesday - the 23rd at 2pmET. This is your opportunity to review and speak out. They will be talking about finances, new Board appointments and where/when NY Toy Fair will happen in the future.

 

Thank you for reading the Bloom Report.

Mary

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Columnist - Nancy Zwiers

Can We Preserve our Close-Knit Industry?

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Nancy Zwiers, Melody Young, Kathleen Barton, Deborah Terrell, Jamie Cygielman

Few major industries are as close-knit as the toy industry.  Many people say they love their jobs, or their companies, but how many people say they love their industry.  I know I do, and it begs the question:  How did we become such a strong community full of business competitors?  And amidst the changes wrought by the pandemic, how can we preserve this sense of shared community?

 

Let’s look at the ways we have forged connections beyond our own companies:

 

  • The heart and soul of our common ground is the slate of regular annual industry shows, most importantly Hong Kong, Nuremberg, New York Toy Fair (the granddaddy of them all), Licensing Show, ASTRA, Dallas Toy Preview, and a host of regional shows around the world. All these community-building events have depended on coming together physically to formally and informally network during the process of working hard to advance our respective businesses.  READ MORE . . . 

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Industry Commentary - Rana Schenke

60 Years of Dreams:

A Comprehensive Overview of Barbie’s Dreamhouses

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(Editor's Note: With the 'super' hot and fun Barbie Top SuperBowl Commercial, what better time to talk about Barbie Dreamhouses throughout the years . . .  and our Rana delivers!)

2022 marks 60 years since Barbie moved into a place just as fabulous as she is — her first Dreamhouse!  Over the past 60 years, Barbie’s Dreamhouse has transformed from a simple fold-out studio with cardboard furniture to a three-story abode with a pool, elevator and light and sound features.

 

Scroll through this article for an overview of the 20+ Dreamhouses Barbie has owned over the years!  READ MORE . . . 

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Person of the Week - Jacob R. Miles III

Taking my Toy and Game Knowledge and Products to the

Blockchain and Metaverse.

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What do you do in the industry?

I am the quintessential toy guy. I started as a liaison manufacturing engineer for Kenner Products in the 70s fell in love with industry and have been active in the industry ever since. My last corporate job held was Vice President for Hasbro. I have worked at Kenner, Tonka, Sega and Hasbro. I founded Cultural Toys, a toy company focused on diversity and non-violence and have developed toys and games over the years. I am now developing toys and games that are integrated with blockchain technology and the metaverse.

 

What is your claim to fame in the industry?

Being in the room with Bernie Loomis and George Lucas as one of the original Kenner Star Wars toy engineers. Being an internal industry, advocate for diversity in toys and responsible for the first African American Baby-Alive doll being made.  Launching of Cultural Toys and getting the support of the Toy Association, Target, Toys R Us, WalMart and others when everyone said it was impossible.

 

Why and how did you get into the Toy and Game industry?

Because of a bridge game.  READ MORE . . . 

Financial and Legal

 

Physical stores beat online shopping in 2021. No joke. Americans spent 18 percent more on food, cars, furniture, electronics and other retail products last year compared with 2020, the Commerce Department disclosed on Friday. Online retail sales increased by 14 percent. In other words, e-commerce lost ground last year to brick-and-mortar stores.

 

Fred Rogers Productions has received grants from the Richard King Mellon Foundation and Heinz Family Foundation. The combined funding totals $350,000 to support onscreen programming and community outreach initiatives for its newest hit series, Alma’s Way and Donkey Hodie, which launched in 2021 on PBS KIDS.

 

Online retailer Studio formally appoints administrators.  1,400 jobs are now said to be at risk after Studio Retail finally admitted defeat once its attempts to secure a bank loan had failed. According to a report in The Times this morning, Studio has reportedly entered administration after its bank rejected its request for a loan.

 

***the above posted after February 18th***

 

ACTIVIST HEDGE FUND URGING HASBRO TO SPIN OFF WOTC   Says Would Double Value of the Companies.  Alta Fox Capital Management LLC, which owns 2.5% of Hasbro’s stock, is sending a letter to Hasbro stockholders urging a spinoff of Wizards of the Coast, which it argues would be worth as much as all of Hasbro on its own, potentially doubling the value for Hasbro shareholders, WSJ reports.   Hasbro’s market cap is currently around $13 billion.

Amazon and Visa reach agreement over payment fees (UK).  Visa cards will continue to be accepted at all Amazon.com stores and bricks and mortar locations, it has been announced. The dispute started last November when the retail giant announced it would stop accepting Visa credit cards issued in the UK due to the high transaction fees being charged by Visa.

 

The ongoing shortage of video game hardware, including Sony’s Playstation 5, Microsoft X|S, and the Nintendo Switch is fueling a ripple effect of sales declines at retail as consumers hold back on gaming purchases as they await fresh shipments of new hardware. According to The NPD Group, consumer spending across video game hardware, content, and accessories declined 2% in January when compared to a year ago...

 

Reports suggest Studio Retail Group to call in administratorsThe group reported a surplus stockholding in January, and said it is in need of additional working capital funding while the excess inventory is sold through. Studio Retail Group requested a short-term loan of £25m from its lending banks to fund the surplus stockholding, which it said it believed would be sufficient to enable it to sell through the stock.

 

Retail sales surge 3.8% in January, much more than expected amid inflation rise. Consumer spending bounced back sharply in January as rising inflation and a post-holiday surge kept cash registers ringing, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. Retail sales for the month rose 3.8%, much better than the 2.1% Dow Jones estimate. 

 

ViacomCBS changes name to Paramount Global and unveils new franchise expansionsViacomCBS has announced that the global media company will become Paramount Global, effective from today (February 16), bringing together its portfolio of entertainment properties under a new parent company name. 

 

Increase in India's share in global toy market; manufacturers await policy for toymakersAbout five to six years ago, the entire toy industry was dominated by China with minimal Indian players involved in production and sales, but things have changed drastically now. The Indian toy manufacturers have now taken over the market, ending Chinese supremacy. 

Saudi investment fund acquires stakes in Capcom and Nexon. Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) has purchased stakes in Capcom and Nexon. PIF is chaired by the crown prince and deputy prime minister of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed Bin Salman, who has faced allegations relating to the assassination of The Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the torture of human rights and women's rights activists, and...

 

Roblox is treading a fine line when it comes to marketing to kidsThe metaverse isn’t as hot as it was just a few months ago. That’s bad news for Roblox (NYSE:RBLX). But that’s hardly all of the bad news for RBLX stock. My assumption is that Roblox has entered a period during which it will face increased scrutiny. Investors will likely be interested in the narratives around its fundamental performance as well as its social...

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Financial Reporting

 

Studio Profit Report: Disney Dives as Sony Soars, Paramount Rises

 

Ro’ Money Ro’ Problems: There’s Trouble in the Metaverse as Roblox Shares Tank Following Earnings Report

 

U.S. Retail Sales Experienced Growth in January -  the Census Bureau reporting a 13% spike versus January of last year and the NRF reporting an 8.5% gain

 

SCHLEICH USA HAS THE STRONGEST YEAR OF GROWTH TO DATE

Jakks Pacific Reports 20% Sales Spike for 2021

 

TABLETOP GAMES SET NEW RECORD ON KICKSTARTER IN 2021  For Seventh Consecutive Year

 

***the above posted after February 18th***

 

Strong Q4 performance from Paramount+ (which added 7.3 million new global subscribers this quarter, bringing it up to 32.8 million), annual revenue growth of 84% for its direct-to-consumer (DTC) business in 2021. 

 

Kantar reports toy sales of over £1.7b last Christmas

'Our turnaround is now complete': Mattel takes victory lap after year of turbulence and growth

Roblox revenue soars 108% to $1.9bn in 2021

Supercell revenue increases 45% to $2.24bn in 2021

Remedy's revenue rose even in a year with no major games

Future Financial Reporting

Discovery investors will be asked to approve the $43 billion deal to combine with WarnerMedia, which AT&T is spinning off, at a March 11 virtual meeting.

Wall Street eyes Walmart results for signs of tighter margins, slower growth. When Walmart on Thursday reports how it fared during the holiday quarter, investors also will want to see how higher labor, transportation and materials may affect the retailer’s margins, given its “Everyday Low Price” strategy. Refinitiv estimates total gross margins to be 23.90% in the fourth quarter, down from 25.26% in the prior quarter, while revenue is expected to fall 0.6% to $151.15 billion.

Trends and Market Research

Demographic Report: Hispanic Parents & Kids Media

Steve Ronchetto, VP and divisional merchandise manager of toys at Walmart U.S., discusses online distribution and improving customer experience 

Elizabeth Royall Darby, owner of Wonder Works Toys, talks about supply chain disruptions, holiday toy shipments, and shopping trends

 

Michael Pisors, head of marketing at IMC Toys, talks about challenges for toy manufacturers and strategies for IMC Toys

Michael Fisher, president at Grand Prix International, talks about the shipping crisis and potential solutions

Eric Nyman, president and COO at Hasbro, talks about outbound licensing and upcoming projects

Genna Rosenberg, CEO and chief ideator at GennComm, talks about supply chain shortages and toy shipments

Geoffrey Greenberg, co-president of Just Play talks about Just Play’s new U.K. subsidiary and the company’s corporate mission

Yehuda Shmidman, chairman and CEO at WHP Global and Toys “R” Us, talks about increasing Toys “R” Us stores and their partnership with Macy’s 

Steve Totzke, chief commercial officer at Mattel, talks about its application of licensing and opportunities for consumer product growth 

Deborah Stallings Stumm, SVP of Bonker Toys, talks about social media and licensing in the Toy Book’s annual State of the Industry

 

***the above posted after February 18th***

 

Hasbro and Mattel have very different visions for the future of the toy industry

 

WildBrain CPLG’s Jasen Wright on where the licensing industry is headed in 2022

Toyjobs has been the dominant recruiting

Stories, Comments, and Advice

 

The Supply Chain Crisis Reignites Reshoring Efforts. The Toy Book’s Deputy Editor James Zahn explores how weaknesses in the global supply chain and rapid inflation have sparked new efforts to produce toys and games in the U.S. and how some companies are turning challenges into opportunities.

It’s Tough to Build a Corporate Culture in a Remote-Work World. There are Zoom happy hours and digital water coolers, but employees feel disconnected, and work feels transactional. For all the triumphs of remote work, social connection remains a pain point. One survey of 700 remote workers, who had previously worked in offices, found that social connection was the thing people missed most about offices, outranking office banter, a dedicated workspace, and face-to-face meetings.

 

JUMP INTO THE ‘ROBLOX’ METAVERSE FOR A NEW ERA OF PLAY.  Parents are on a never-ending quest to entertain their kids‭, ‬so what if there was a place where kids could access more than 20‭ ‬million games for free‭? ‬Well‭, ‬that place exists‭, ‬and it’s called‭ ‬Roblox‭.‬ Roblox‭ ‬is a digital platform where millions of players gather together every day to create and share experiences in immersive‭, ‬3D worlds‭. 

 

***the above posted after February 18th***

 

John Baulch, ToyWorld (UK) - Something is not adding up …it’s the Friday Blog!! No doubt about the most unexpected story of the week – no, not the grand old Duke of York paying out £12m to someone he claims he had never met for something he claims he never did, but the potential collapse into administration of online retailer Studio. Not a single supplier I have spoken to this week saw that coming, nor indeed did the credit...

 

Can an AI be properly considered an inventor? Several years ago, I wrote a piece titled “How AI and copyright would work.” As I looked over the state of several interesting questions at the intersection of artificial intelligence and copyright at that time, my bottom line was pretty simple: If the copyright laws and regulations required a work to contain the expression of a human person, then that body of law (especially the text...

 

Buying Hot Wheels has become almost as hard as buying an actual car. When was the last time you saw pegs stacked with Hot Wheels at your local big box retailer of choice? I’d estimate it was about nine months ago that I started noticing every Walmart and Target in my immediate vicinity licked clean of die-cast miniatures. 

 

The Barbie Dreamhouse or Castle Grayskull? Rocket Homes scores a touchdown with Mattel-fueled Super Bowl spot. Audiences that tuned into Super Bowl LVI had no shortage of big-budget commercials vying for their attention, but only one placed a pair of iconic toy brands front and center. To illustrate the competitive housing market, Rocket Homes & Rocket Mortgage turned to Mattel in order to use 2 iconic ...

 

PresenceLearning and Hasbro bring games and toys to therapy . PresenceLearning, provider of online therapy solutions for schools and clinicians, has partnered with Hasbro to bring some of its characters and classic games to the PresenceLearning therapy platform. Through the partnership, speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists and behavioral and mental health professionals will be able to use ...

 

8 most embarrassingly stupid video game accessories ever soldThere is an art to the perfect video game accessory. There are immortals like the Guitar Hero guitar, Dance Dance Revolution mats, and the Rumble Pak. Things that, when hooked up to your system or plugged into your controller, just take the whole experience to another level. 

 

Roblox: The children's game with a sex problem. A naked man, wearing just a dog collar and a lead, is led across the floor by a woman in a bondage outfit. Two strippers dance next to a bar. A group has gathered around a couple openly having sex, watching and occasionally commenting. One man is wearing a Nazi uniform. This isn't happening in the real world, it's taking place on a children's gaming platform.

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History and Nostalgia

This is GI Joe in Spain 1988-1994, the definitive guide on these mythical toys The generation of International Heroes is a work made by a group of collectors which has just released this 1,500-page guide, which is divided into eight volumes. As reported in the press release, it documents the presence of this toy during the late eighties and early nineties. 

 

Wizzzers from Mattel. In 1969 Mattel released the Wizzzer, a new twist on the classic spinning top. In scientific terms, the Wizzzer was classified as a gyrostat, thanks to the gyroscope it contained within its bulbous plastic casing. The toy also had a pin that protruded from its bottom, surrounded by a rubber nub to further differentiate itself from traditional tops. 

 

Isolation from Lakeside. Released in 1972 by Lakeside, Isolation pits two players in a battle to leave one’s opponent isolated on the game board without a move to make. +The game kicks off as one player moves their pawn onto a yellow tile. Pawns can move one space only in any direction as long as there is a tile on which to land. After the move, the player presses down on another tile of their choice. 

 

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Licensing 

How Mattel Is Breaking Toy Ties With Deepa & Anoop.  Signalling an openness to concepts without a toy pedigree, Deepa & Anoop is Mattel TV's first series not based on a proprietary play brand. Set to premiere globally in mid-2022, Deepa & Anoop follows along as a seven-year-old girl and her color-changing elephant friend tend to guests at her family’s bed and breakfast.

 

SEGA, Paramount, JAKKS Pacific & Disguise partner for New Sonic 2 Merch.  JAKKS Pacific and Disguise, Inc. have announced a new line of toys and costumes in Spring 2022 for the new film Sonic the Hedgehog 2.The new line of merchandise from JAKKS is set to include action figures, playsets, vehicles, plush toys and other collectibles just in time for the film’s international release. Disguise, the costume division of JAKKS...

 

Marvel Reveals ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ Toys, Role-Play Items .  We have yet to see a trailer for Thor: Love and Thunder, but toys inspired by the upcoming entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe have been unveiled. New products include construction sets from LEGO and action figures and role-play items from Hasbro.

 

Playmates Toys and Paramount Consumer Products have revealed a first look of the action figures from the Paramount+ animated series Star Trek: Prodigy.  Star Trek: Prodigy follows a motley crew of young aliens who must figure out how to work together while navigating a greater galaxy, in search for a better future. These six young outcasts know nothing about the ship they have commandeered – a first...

 

LEGO and Universal Brand Development have announced exciting new Jurassic World sets inspired by the upcoming theatrical release – Jurassic World Dominion – set to hit theatres in June 2022, from Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment. Continuing to build out the portfolio for Jurassic World fans globally, the newest sets, featuring the largest assortment of dinosaurs than ever before in LEGO® brick form...

 

Mattel announced multiyear global licensing ageement with Paramount Consumer Products for Nickelodeon’s animated preschool pirate adventure series, Santiago of the Seas. Through this agreement, Mattel has the licensing rights to create a full line of toys based on the property, which will be produced under the Fisher-Price brand, including dolls, figures, play sets, vehicles, role play, plush, ride-ons...

 

***the above posted after February 18th***

 

Get a Sneak Peek of Just Play’s Turning Red Toys Before the Movie Premieres on Disney+.  Turning Red is a coming-of-age story that follows a spunky Chinese Canadian girl who must learn how to navigate her school and home life in Toronto in the early 2000s — while turning into a red panda every now and then. Just Play is launching a line of toys based on the film featuring plush, dolls, collectibles, activity sets, and more.

 

In advance of multiple 50th anniversary celebrations and live appearances, Aerosmith, the best-selling American hard-rock band of all time, has tapped Universal Music Group’s Epic Rights as the band’s global brand management agency to develop an all-new multi-category worldwide retail program for the legendary rock band, with a roster of new licensing partners signed to create branded merchandise.

 

LankyBox, the most highly viewed YouTube gaming duo in the world, has partnered with Bonkers Toys to create their first retail toy line.  Stars Justin and Adam, along with their cast of animated characters including Boxy, Foxy, and Rocky, create high-energy, laugh-out-loud videos such as challenges, gaming and shorts. LankyBox averages over 1.5 billion video views per month with 18.6 billion lifetime views. 

 

New for 2022 are three exciting Moonlite Gift Packs – Disney Classics, Disney Modern Classics and Pixar – that project from your smartphone onto a wall or ceiling. Dim the lights, cuddle in bed and tell a tale with vivid projections, sound effects and background music. Dumbo, Pinocchio and Bambi will mesmerize a new generation as three of the five storybooks included in the new Disney Classics Gift Pack.

Funko Games reveals seven new Disney-inspired board games for fans of all ages. The 2022 Disney lineup includes:  • Games that celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World with Disney Happiest Day Game: Magic Kingdom Park and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Game; • Games that bring beloved animated films to life including Disney A Goofy Movie Game and Disney Return of the Headless Horseman Game; and...

 

World of EPI announced a collaboration with Disney Consumer Products, Games and Publishing to create fashion dolls, collectible figurines and accessories for the new Disney+ series The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder and the upcoming Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur series on Disney Channel.

 

Rainbow and Giochi Preziosi, signed a partnership for the master toy line inspired by Iginio Straffi’s animated hit Pinocchio and Friends. The show is already airing daily on Rai Yoyo and has been very well received since launching. Giochi Preziosi will initially distribute the line in Italy with a roll-out strategy that will bring action figures, dolls, play sets and plush toys based...

 

Orchard Toys confirmed a manufacturing and licensing agreement with Moose Toys to support its plans to expand in USA and Canada. Partnering with Moose Toys will ensure continued support of existing retail distribution as well as the development of major businesses within North America.

Marvel enlists Hasbro, Funko, LEGO for ‘Marvel Mech Strike: Monster Hunters’ launch! It’s mid-February, and usually, the toy industry would be getting ready for the doors to open at Toy Fair New York. While the famed event is taking the bench for the second year in a row, the big reveals cannot be stopped. New toys and entertainment content are on the way and will not be held back, and that brings us to one of the biggest …

Lucky Duck takes on 'Sherlock'. Lucky Duck Games has announced a deal with BBC Studios to produce a series of games based on the television show Sherlock.  The first game in the new series will be Sherlock:  Case Connection, releasing in the second quarter of this year. Sherlock:  Case Connection challenges players to unravel a nefarious plot hatched by one of the famous detective’s many foes.  

 

‘Ted Lasso’ and ‘Parks and Rec’ get the party game treatment from Funko Games. Funko Games revealed two upcoming party games for all the Diamond Dogs and Li’l Sebastian lovers out there. First up is the Ted Lasso Party Game, which sounds as wholesome as the popular Apple TV series that inspired it. The second game in this launch is inspired by the show Parks and Recreation. 

 

Disguise prepares for April launch of full Disney costume range. The range will include adaptive costumes for those with additional needs and wheelchair users, bringing the magic of Disney dress-up to an even wider audience. Disguise has announced a multi-year licensing agreement for a wide range of Disney portfolio brands in Europe, the Middle East and Africa for dress-up, costumes and accessories in October last year.

 

New Boba Fett and The Mandalorian sets join LEGO Star Wars line-up. The LEGO Group has been creating brick-built versions of iconic Star Wars star ships, vehicles, locations and characters since 1999 – making LEGO Star Wars its most successful theme. Now two new sets have been added to the range, for fans who want to recreate their own stories from the Disney+ series The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett...

 

Mattel expands Jurassic World line with ferocious dinosaurs, cool cars, and Jeff Goldblum. Life finds a way and so does Mattel. Jurassic World Dominion is launching this summer as the third installment of the Jurassic World franchise, and dinosaur-obsessed kids are going to flip over Mattel’s new action figures, vehicles, and R/C toys heading to stores this spring.

 

The upcoming Super Mario movie is getting its own range of toys. We know the core voice cast, but pretty much everything else about the forthcoming Super Mario movie is very much shrouded in secrecy, with very little known about the plot, setting or what it will actually look like. However, we do know that it will be accompanied by a range of toys created by Jakks Pacific. 

LEGO’s latest video game collaboration is a fantastic looking Horizon Forbidden West set. LEGO is teaming up with Guerrilla Games on a Horizon Forbidden West set, which transforms the overgrown wildernesses and robotic dinosaurs of the games into a new, LEGO form. The 1,222 piece set includes an Aloy minifigure, along with a brick-built version of the velociraptor-like Watcher robots, along with the star of the set...

 

Mattel, Netflix unleash a first look at ‘He-Man and the Masters of the Universe’ season 2. On March 3, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe returns to Netflix for a second season packed with toyetic action. The second season of the reinvented, kid-focused Masters of the Universe (MOTU) series picks up where the first batch left off as He-Man and the crew evade Skeletor by taking Castle Grayskull ...

 

'Labyrinth: Disney Villains' heads to trade. Ravensburger NA will release Labyrinth: Disney Villains, a new version of the classic maze game, into trade in 2022. In Labyrinth: Disney Villains, the Disney villains are searching for their henchmen in a moving maze. As in most versions of Labyrinth (see Pokemon Labyrinth), players will slide maze tiles onto the board to create new pathways to get to their henchmen. 

 

The Spice Girls are coming to LEGO. The LEGO Group has unveiled the LEGO BrickHeadz Spice Girls Tribute set. This is a first, as actual people have never been immortalized in the LEGO BrickHeadz style before now. In celebration of the new LEGO set, photographer Rankin has brought the brick band to life, recreating images originally shot in Rankin’s studio. 

 

‘Peaky Blinders’ VR game announced. Digital entertainment studio Maze Theory and Banijay Brands in collaboration with “Peaky Blinders’” official brand and series owner and series producer Caryn Mandabach Productions have announced the launch of the first virtual reality game inspired by the drama.  

 

Paramount is greenlighting more Halo and Sonic content. Paramount is doubling down on its video game-licensed entertainment properties. The media conglomerate (which was known as ViacomCBS until today) renewed the Halo television show before its debut, and the Sonic the Hedgehog films are getting a third entry and Knuckles-themed spinoff show. 

Z-Man Games gives award-winning Love Letter game a Star Wars spin. Asmodee and Z-Man Games have launched Star Wars: Jabba’s Palace – A Love Letter Game. The new adventure pairs Love Letter’s signature social deduction gameplay with the iconic stories of the Star Wars galaxy for “a game of rebellious bravery and clever deceit”. 

‘Kung Fu Panda’ comes to ‘Lords Mobile’. IGG and Universal Games and Digital Platforms announced “Lords Mobile,” IGG's strategy Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMO), which is currently celebrating its sixth birthday, is kicking off a special in-game event featuring DreamWorks Animation’s “Kung Fu Panda.” 

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People of Play

 

Cyber Group Studios, a producer and distributor of animated series for children and families worldwide, has named 3 industry veterans to lead its production, development, and R&D in response to the strong business growth now at an historical high with 10 series in production and 10 more in development this year. The newly named executives are Laurence Barret, appointed VP Studio Operations . . . 

 

Entertainment One (eOne) has announced the appt of Ruedilyn Cox as VP Global Franchise Strategy & Management for Kiya. Ruedilyn will be based in London and report to Esra Cafer, SVP, Global Brand Management, Family Brands at eOne. Last year, eOne greenlit Kiya, a new series for pre-schoolers set to launch in multiple markets globally in 2023. The series is about a young superhero and her two best friends, 

 

Nikki Samuels joins Hunter Price as commercial director.  The former licensing director and founder of Sambro joins Hunter Price as part of the company’s growth strategy across categories including toys and stationery. Hunter Price Directors, top left to right, Jeremy Winburn and Richard Belford and, bottom left to right, Josh Eden, Jonny Alexander and Nikki Samuels. Leading consumer products business, Hunter Price...

Osmo from BYJU’S, announces the appointment of Jonathan Naseath as Chief Operating Officer, effective immediately. With extensive experience in finance and operations, Naseath, CPA, CFE and CISA, will further Osmo global growth, creating operational excellence across the company and scaling the company’s vision of making a broader impact to education.

 

Ravensburger has announced two new appointments for 2022... Boosting the Operations team will be Jonathan Heil who joins as facilities manager. Jon brings with him with him more than 10 yrs’ experience in of facilities, office and operation management and will report directly to head of Supply Chain and Operations, Colin Reeves. Della Holding has been appointed as consumer service advisor and will report directly to...

 

Toys R Us UK has announced several new appointments to its buying team, which Toy World understands is now almost complete (with one further appointment still to be confirmed). New recruits James Ford, Katie Ellis and Lukasz Jajinski will join existing team members Mike Coogan and Diane Lee in the new Toys R Us operation, which plans to re-introduce the brand to the UK toy market within the next few months.

 

***the above posted after February 18th***

 

PLAYMONSTER ANNOUNCES NEW LEADERSHIP TEAM AND GLOBAL APPROACH FOR 2022 AND BEYOND. CEO Tim Kilpin announced the following: Gary Aigner, responsible for Global Design as PlayMonster’s Chief Design Office, Rich Rooney, responsible for Global Operations as PlayMonster’s Chief Operations and Logistics Officer, and Scott Flynn, responsible for Global Sales as PlayMonster’s Chief Commercial Officer.

Mattel appoints Ruth Henriquez as Head of Consumer Products for EMEA. Mattel has announced the appointment of marketing veteran Ruth Henriquez as Head of Consumer Products for the EMEA region. In this role, Henriquez will oversee the entire consumer products portfolio across all Mattel IP brands, as well as further integration of the CP division into franchise marketing. 

 

Disney appoints executive to oversee metaverse strategy. Mike White, who has been with the firm for more than 10 years, will oversee a team that includes senior leaders. In a memo to staff, which has been seen by the BBC, chief executive Bob Chapek said the metaverse is "the next great storytelling frontier" to be explored. 

Mattel celebrates 40th anniversary of Ken Johnson’s Phase 10 card game with a special-edition box set. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the classic card game Phase 10, Mattel has released a special edition of the beloved pastime invented by a Black man. Created in 1982 by game inventor Kenneth R. Johnson in Detroit, Michigan at age 22, Phase 10 is a rummy-type game with a twist.

 

Hasbro-owned eOne has hired former Warner Bros. and Acamar exec Ruedilyn Cox as VP of global franchise strategy and management for its upcoming series Kiya.  Cox, who started in Jan. and is based in London, will manage long-term franchise and content strategy for the preschool-skewing brand globally. Kiya (52 x 11 minutes) is set to debut on Disney Jr. (US), Disney+ (globally) and France Télévisions in 2023. 

 

The Jim Henson Company is betting on familiarity with the hire of experienced sales exec Kerry Novick as its new VP of global distribution.  Novick’s relationship with Henson stretches back to her time as president of Small Screen Distribution, the company she founded in 2004. At Small Screen, she handled sales in Asia for Henson properties Sid the Science Kid and Dinosaur Train.

Sesame Workshop  has named Dr. Alison Bryant, a renowned expert on the impact of media, technology, and play, to the new position of Chief Research, Data, and Impact Officer (CRDIO). The move signals Sesame Workshop’s commitment to research as a strategic driver in identifying the needs of children and families around the world in order to create content with the broadest possible impact. 

 

Susan Vargo has left Nickelodeon to join Moonbug Entertainment as its first head of live events. In this newly created role, she will manage and expand the live event business of Moonbug IPs including Blippi, CoComelon and Little Baby Bum. Vargo  will be based in its UK head office. Her remit covers live shows, character events and brand-related experiences such as theme parks and water parks.

 

BBC Studios Names First CEO Of Global Distribution.  Rebecca Glashow will manage international distribution for the pubcaster's commercial arm and plans to hire a new London-based global sales director of children's content.  She will manage global distribution—excluding the UK and Ireland—with an eye towards building out direct-to-consumer services, intl channels and co-productions, and expanding the reach of...

 

Katie Bailey has joined Kidscreen to head up content for Kidscreen as our new content director and editor. She starts today, and replaces Megan Haynes in the role. Katie previously spent six years as a content director and editor at Playback, Kidscreen’s sister brand that focuses on the Canadian film and television industry. More recently, she has been working in communications at the Royal Ontario Museum...

 

Kids Industries (KI) has today announced a raft of new appointments, including the hire of Dennis Publishing’s Research Manager, Carlene Wilson. The hire of four new appointments comes off the back of the firm winning several new accounts at the end of 2021 – including Amazon Kids+. Gary Pope, CEO and Co-Founder at Kids Industries, commented: “We’re excited to have attracted such amazing talent at a time...

Licensing International has announced the hire of Elizabeth Foster as Director of Content and Communications. In her role, Foster will lead editorial planning and development for the organisation along with media relations, and social media strategy. Based in Toronto, Foster has more than a decade of experience in journalism, having started her career in newspapers before making the move to magazines.

20 yr music industry executive and former Head of A&R at G.O.O.D Music, Ricky Anderson has announced the launch of The Tunies, a new animated musical series available on YouTube.  “As a father of three, I find myself having to listen to children’s music – oftentimes on repeat! I couldn’t believe that there was nothing better out there for families to enjoy together. I saw an opportunity to reimagine the genre...

 

Adrian Whyles, MD of PlayMonster UK, is set to leave his post at the end of February at his own request. Adrian says: “I have enjoyed my time at Interplay/PlayMonster: we have grown the business, built successful brands and become part of the PlayMonster family. There is a great deal to look forward to in 2022, with the company now in a strong position to build on a global basis under the leadership of CEO Tim Kilpin. 

 

Little Tikes appoints new senior brand manager for UK and Ireland. Alaina Cornish has been appointed as Little Tikes’ new senior brand manager – UK & Ireland. Alaina brings with her 15 years’ strong consumer marketing and commercial experience from a diverse range of well-known consumer brands including Neff, easyJet, National Trust and Discovery Foods. 

 

BBC Studios name exec for 'Bluey' brand expansion. Kate O'Connor has been named head, licensing and brands, BBC Studios ANZ, overseeing all aspects of brand expansion for "Bluey" and other BBC Studios IP, such as BBC Earth, "Top Gear" and "Doctor Who" in Australia and New Zealand. Previously commercial and business development head, O'Connor has expanded her role to include leadership of the commercial...

Melisa Fuhr tapped to lead ZAG’s new office in Argentina. The international expansion of ZAG continues with the opening of a new office in Argentina.The new office in Buenos Aires office is being led by Melisa Fuhr, director of licensing and retail for South America. Fuhr also leads operations for Chile and Peru and reports to Angela Cortez, vice president of licensing and consumer products for Latin America.

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Companies and Brands

 

Prospero Hall & Funko Games Creators Share the Design Inspiration in a New “Making of” Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar Video. In this new “making of” Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar video, Prospero Hall creators discuss how they tapped into old issues of Scientific American, adventure magazines, and movie monster posters.  The result was a game that has a distinct 1950s pulp fiction vibe.

 

BBC Studios Grows Bluey Brand with a Focus on Family and Community.  The Toy Book spoke with Suzy Raia, SVP of licensing and business development in the Americas for BBC Studios, about the global success of Bluey, its toy program, and what’s next for the Blue Heeler. The BBC Studios preschool show, which follows Blue Heeler puppy Bluey and her everyday adventures, is a runaway hit for preschoolers in the U.S. 

 

THE AMERICAN BUBBLE CO. REIMAGINES A CHILDHOOD STAPLE WITH THE BUBBLE TREE BRAND.  When it comes to classic play, sometimes the most simple toys make the biggest impact. Bubbles are a prime example, which kids have been playing with for centuries. The Toy Book caught up with American Bubble Co. CEO Geoffrey Wasserman and President Susan Kort Wasserman to discuss how their new Bubble Tree brand...

LEGO Group to Expand and Upgrade Its Danish Headquarters.  The LEGO Group is planning to significantly expand and upgrade its global headquarters in Billund, Denmark as the company prepares to celebrate its 90th anniversary. The company will invest in the construction of Kornmarken Campus, which will connect the existing LEGO factory with a new 50,000 sq ftbuilding to create a nearly 110,000 sq ftcampus.

 

Industry Vets Return to the Ring with PowerTown Wrestling Action Figure Brand.  Steve Rosenthal was part of the highly competitive wrestling action figures craze of the 1980s while serving as senior vice president at Remco Toys. Now, Rosenthal has forged a tag team partnership with retired professional wrestler Greg Gagne to launch a new brand: PowerTown: Where Wrestling Lives On.

 

Ravensburger Previews New Toys and Games for 2022. Ravensburger will release more than 210 products from its Ravensburger, BRIO, alea, Wonder Forge, and ThinkFun brands this year, including a new wave of licensed products featuring characters from popular movies, cartoons, and video games.

 

Bonkers Toys Partners with YouTube Duo LankyBox to Produce First Line of Toys.  Drawing inspiration from the show’s animated characters — Boxy, Foxy, and Rocky — the LankyBox collection will feature blindboxed squishies, plush toys, and mystery figures. YouTube gaming duo LankyBox, which consists of Justin Kroma and Adam McArthur, has amassed a notable following since the two first began creating content in...

 

PlayMonster Debuts New Products from Spirograph, Koosh, Classic Playskool Brands. In lieu of its usual announcements at Toy Fair New York, PlayMonster has unveiled several new additions to its growing lineup of toys and games. This week, the Wisconsin-based company introduced new Spirograph products, new additions to its Koosh assortment, and three new products from Hasbro’s Playskool brand.

 

The Nacelle Co. Launches Toy Stores of the World Passport Program.  The studio behind Netflix’s The Toys That Made Us and Amazon Prime’s A Toy Store Near You will support independent and vintage toy stores in a new effort inspired by the National Parks Passport Program. The new initiative encourages passport holders to visit participating toy stores to collect unique stamps during their travels.

 

PMI has announced the company’s commitment to a sustainable world. True to its name, PMI Kids’ World is focused on playing its part in creating a cleaner world environment for the following generations. From a small family business founded by Boaz Dekel, PMI has grown into a recognized name and respected toy manufacturer, holding global manufacturing rights from some of the biggest studios and brands...

 

Hasbro announced it has joined the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), committing to further reduce its environmental footprint in support of a lower carbon economy. This commitment marks the latest move in the company’s ongoing sustainability journey, which includes industry-leading initiatives such as converting its entire packaging line to plastic-free designs by the end of 2022, and the Hasbro Toy Recycling...

 

Three of Disneyland’s most popular shows will return to the park this spring. The Main Street Electrical Parade and Disneyland Forever fireworks spectacular will return April 22, while Fantasmic! will return to Disneyland on May 28. The electrical parade made its debut at the Anaheim theme park in 1972, with unique musical arrangements synchronized to each float. 

 

Kahoot! announced the launch of Kahoot! Multiplication by DragonBox. This new app is the crown jewel in the award-winning series of Kahoot! math apps created by DragonBox. Kahoot! Multiplication by DragonBox keeps young learners engaged with more than 20 mini-games, each developed by learning design experts with engaging animation, memorable characters through storytelling and captivating gameplay. 

 

Hasbro has announced plans for new tabletop games releasing this year, including twists on classic games Clue, Connect 4, and Monopoly and games featuring licensed IPs Bridgerton and Fall Guys. Combining the classic whodunit with escape room challenges, Clue Treachery at Tudor Mansion Escape & Solve Mystery Game has players trapped in the infamous mansion when Mr. Boddy is murdered.

 

Timeless Spirograph Brand Expands with Three New Products in 2022 via PlayMonster.  The classic Spirograph craft activity reaches a new generation of creators in 2022, with the help of PlayMonster and The Walt Disney Company. The latest innovations will introduce 3D play, sets and clips inspired by various The Walt Disney Company franchises, and trending Mandala designs to captivate children and adults of all ages.

 

Moose Toys won Creative Toy of the Year for its global sales sensation, Magic Mixies Magic Cauldron, at The TA's 22nd annual TOTY virtual awards gala. Created to ignite imaginations by putting real magic into kids’ hands, Magic Mixies was the must-have toy of the holiday season, marking a record-breaking launch for Moose Toys and ranking No. 1 in Special Feature Plush for December and for Fall season...

 

The iconic Playskool® brand will reach a new generation of children in 2022, as PlayMonster partners with Hasbro to reimagine the beloved brand. For over 90 yrs, the Playskool name has been synonymous with quality toys and classic, learning fun. Today’s Playskool products continue this reputation, with new evergreen toys that will grow with families, and the launch of the first ever preschool brand that teaches Social...

 

Canadian home decor company Umbra has introduced decor-forward versions of the classic games chess, checkers and four-in-a-row. 

ROLZ Chess and Checkers Set - This portable chess and checkers set has a beechwood and vegan leather base that rolls up to keep the pieces together in one place. The resin checkers are reversible to reveal silk-screened chess characters.

 

Hasbro’s My Little Pony is ready to ride into a big content year, with a new series and two specials for Netflix and another series for YouTube all slated to debut in 2022. Netflix has ordered My Little Pony: Make Your Mark (pictured), an eight x 22-minute series about five magical ponies taking on new adventures. With CG animation courtesy of Atomic Cartoons, the show will debut in September. 

 

***the above posted after February 18th***

 

Spin Master’s 2022 Looks Bright with Toys and Activities that Inspire Creators, Fuel Fandoms and Promote Inclusive Play. Spin Master is forecasting fun with the reveal of their toys, games and activities that will inspire children and their families around the globe this yr. Spin Master’s 2022 portfolio delivers innovation with new intellectual property, expansions within popular evergreen brands and a showstopping cast of...

Hasbro unveils UK play and entertainment lineup for 2022.  Hasbro is unveiling new entertainment and product innovations across all its key franchise categories in 2022, adding to its ranges for mega-hit Nerf, action brands Power Rangers and Transformers, preschool favourite Peppa Pig, and more. “It’s an extraordinary time for the Hasbro business, as we supercharge our brand blueprint and fully ignite the power and …

AmongUs goes from strength to strength as game development ramps up.  Master toy partner Toikido’s collectible range was shortlisted for Collectible of the Year, and exciting new products including the AmongUs Airship are on the way for 2022. The smash hit game AmongUs, which rose to popularity during the first lockdown following its below-the-radar 2018 launch, continues to hold its own in the gaming space. 

 

9 Story Media Group and Karma’s World Entertainment are pleased to announce a first-of-its kind partnership with F.I.T., the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Design and Technology Lab (FIT DTech).  Inspired by the hit animated Netflix series Karma’s World – for which fashion is central to the brand DNA – FIT students designed a 50-piece fashion-forward children’s collection for licensing partners to incorporate across ...

 

Randimals, a new company out of Sun Valley, Idaho announced the launch of its new plush and hard Randimals toys. These loveable creatures embody the mantra, “What makes us different, makes all the difference in the world!”  Randimals are made up of two different animals, which means they are a unique blend of personalities, characteristics, instincts and skills.

 

Disney To Build New Residential Communities, First In Rancho Mirage, California. Disney will be building new master-planned communities called ‘Storyliving’ with the first to be developed in Rancho Mirage in California’s Coachella Valley. Other sites are under exploration “as more and more fans look for new ways to make Disney a bigger part of their lives,” the company said.

 

ViacomCBS has announced that the global media company change its name to Paramount Global (to be referred to as “Paramount”). The name change will be effective from 16th February, bringing together the company’s leading portfolio of premium entertainment properties under a new parent company name. In addition to the name change, the company has outlined plans to accelerate the global momentum behind...

 

NBCUniversal’s video streaming service Peacock is building out its animation lineup with six new kids titles.  The streamer has acquired DreamWorks series Megamind’s Guide to Defending Your City and Abominable and the Invisible City, both of which are follow-ups to animated feature films produced by the studio.  Peacock also ordered original preschool series Team Mekbots Animal Rescue and Dino Pops, and...

 

Lennox the Lamb, new from Douglas, is adorable in the palest of yellow creams. If neutral is your nursery theme, then this little one is the ideal choice. Going to a gender-neutral baby shower, choose Lennox. The ensemble combines the softest textured fabric with a soft wooly look and an adorable nursery themed print in neutral tones on a cream background. There are seven color coordinated pieces in this ensemble.

 

Singapore and UK-based animation co. Omens Studios has secured a deal with Singapore’s national public broadcaster MediaCorp for an additional 20 episodes of hit preschool series Leo the Wildlife Ranger (126 x 11’) and a further 40 episodes of Counting with Paula (340 x 11’). The first season has sold in over 50 countries globally, and the second season of the adventure series won Best Preschool Program at the Asian...

Connetix Tiles was created by two families that met when their kids started primary school together. They decided to create their own version of magnetic tiles that could help kids unlock creativity through educational play. Connetix Tiles feature clear refractions and vibrant colors that kids can use to build any structures they can think of, from castles and towers to animals and vehicles.

 

Barbie: The History and Legacy of the World’s Most Famous Doll. This might seem like an excessive amount of importance placed on a children's toy; but, in the over 50 yrs of her reign, Barbie has proven to be a near-constant cultural touchstone. The history of America's most iconic doll is embedded in American culture and the larger changes that have shaped the past half-century—including feminism, the civil rights...

CRAZY AARON’S SHAPES NEW WAYS TO PLAY WHILE FOSTERING COMMUNITY, CREATING OPPORTUNITIES.  Crazy Aaron’s was a promotional products company for a decade. How did the company get its start and how did you transition it to be a major player in the toy industry? 
Aaron Muderick: Crazy Aaron’s began with me making my own putty and selling it to co-workers at the software consulting firm where I worked. 

Mattel’s approach to sustainabilityAs Mattel’s VP Global Sustainability, Pam describes Mattel’s overarching approach to sustainability to date. “Our aim is to contribute to a more diverse, equitable, inclusive and sustainable future,” she explains. “We are committed to being a responsible corporate citizen and actively supporting the communities in which we live, work and play. 

 

Mattel debuts Monster High Haunt Couture collection. One of the most iconic doll brands of the past 20 years is getting a reboot. Mattel introduces the Monster High Haunt Couture collection, a collection of runway-ready versions of Frankie Stein, Clawdeen Wolf, and Draculaura. This premium collection of fashion dolls marks the first time that this Monster High trio has been released since 2018.

 

Panini launches Premier League Adrenalyn XL PLUS trading cards. Panini has announced the launch of new Premier League Adrenalyn XL PLUS trading cards. Following the huge growth and success of the 2021/22 Premier League Adrenalyn XL collection, the biggest-selling football trading card collection in the UK, Panini has released a fully updated set with brand new cards, checklist, binder and Golden Ballers. 

 

Mastermind Toys doubles its baby category market share and launches first Baby Play Guide. Canada's largest specialty toy and children's book retailer, Mastermind Toys, launches its first Baby Play Guide today, digitally. This expertly curated guide features new line-ups from exciting brands alongside Mastermind Toys exclusives that support babies' development through play. 

 

Pandasaurus announces 'Sobek: 2 Players' for U.S. retail. Pandasaurus Games announced Sobek: 2 Players, a set collection tile game by Bruno Cathala, for release into U.S. retail on May 25, 2022. In Sobek: 2 Players, a market has emerged near the construction of a temple in ancient Sobek along the Nile River. Players assume the roles of merchants trying to buy and sell their way to fortune and glory. 

 

Battle through the campaigns of WWII in 'Bolt Action: Combined Arms'. Warlord Games will release Bolt Action: Combined Arms, a new World War II board game, into preorder starting February 18. Bolt Action: Combined Arms is a strategic board game where players fight for the control of air, land, and sea in the various theaters of World War II. The goal of the game is to claim objectives on different maps and hold them.  

 

Toys2Market appointed UK & Ireland distributor for Shmoji. Toys2Market has announced that it has partnered with Shmoji as its UK & Ireland distributor. The kids’ fashion brand encourages children to express themselves using fun and highly collectible emoji characters. With over 100 to collect, spanning themes from food and drink to pets, faces and icons, Shmoji characters can be threaded onto shoelaces, guitar strings...

 

The LEGO Foundation launches $143m global competition to aid early-years development. The LEGO Foundation has announced a USD 143 million global challenge to address what CEO Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen calls a “global early childhood emergency” characterised by a loss of access to services and support, exacerbated by the global pandemic. 

 

Oil the jaws of the war machine in 'Two Minutes to Midnight'. Plague Island Games will release Two Minutes to Midnight, a new strategic Cold War board game, into retail in Q2 2022. In this military strategy game, players take on the role of either the U.S. or U.S.S.R. and saber-rattle, embargo, and sabotage their way towards winning the Cold War standoff. 

 

The Pokemon Company International will release a new 'Pokemon Tcg' bundle and tins. The Pokemon Company International will release Collector Bundle: Spring 2022 and V Heroes Tins, for Pokemon TCG, into retail in spring 2022. Collector Bundle: Spring 2022 will feature new, unique Pokemon goodies not found in other sets. 

 

Dublin to welcome Ireland’s first LEGO Store. The LEGO Group is opening its first ever store in Ireland this summer, in Grafton Street, Dublin, Located in the heart of the city, the LEGO store will delight fans, both young and old, with an exciting collection of sets and experiences. Visitors to the new store will be treated to the new Retailtainment concept which blends physical and digital experiences that allow shoppers...

 

Grab a Snack and a Squish at the Squishville Mall. The world of Squishmallows gets a 2-inch makeover with Jazwares’ line of soft, fabric Squishmallows playsets, Squishville! Although there are so many different Squishville playsets to choose from and collect, the Squishville Mall truly has something for everyone — especially since Squishville is designed for kids of all ages. 

 

Wobble Boards from Bunny Hopkins garner mass praise. Some of the best moments in childhood are when kids are free to imagine with a prop – a cardboard box, dress up clothes, or Bunny Hopkins Wobble Boards. Purposefully minimal and inspired by the sheer joy of free open-ended play, Wobble Boards can be a fun balance board, teeter totter, pirate ship or a doll cradle (children can nestle on it as well).

 

Osprey announces three new roleplaying games. Osprey Games will release three new roleplaying games, which will release in the second half of 2022. Gran Meccanismo: Clockpunk Renaissance Roleplaying is a RPG that features fantastic inventions, swashbuckling swordplay, and Machiavellian politics in Renaissance Italy. Crescendo of Violence is a neon-noir RPG. It is set in the city of Neo York 2093. 

 

Devir Games unveiled three new pocket games, which will all release in April 2022. Walkie Talkie is a fun, portable game where players try to get the most points possible by unloading their hand as quickly as they can. Veggies is a pattern construction game where players are trying to create market stalls populated with the best combinations of vegetables.

 

Santoro to release new Gorjuss dolls. Santoro, owner of Gorjuss, has announced the imminent release of six new dolls with Spanish licensee Paola Reina.  Paola Reina’s latest drop marks the licensee’s eighth collection with Santoro and features popular Gorjuss characters The Hour, Where Am I, Black Pearl, Little Bo Peep, School Girl and The Princess & The Pea. 

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Gaming: Digital, Video, Hardware, and Development

Microsoft will shut down Xbox services on Windows Phone in May. Microsoft will shut down Xbox services on Windows Phone on May 16, 2022. As reported by Windows Central, the company announced the move via an in-app notification that explained Xbox features will soon be retired on Microsoft's lesser-spotted mobile handsets.

 

Epic says there are now more than 500 million Epic Games accounts. Epic Games announced Wednesday that there are now more than 500 million Epic Games accounts. It’s a notable milestone as Epic continues to build the Epic Games Store as a competitor to Steam and bring in new players for titles like Fortnite and Rocket League.

CD Projekt Red veterans are launching a new studio and making a dark fantasy RPG. Veterans of CD Projekt Red (CDPR) are launching a new studio called Rebel Wolves, and they shared the first details about the new venture on Wednesday. Fans of CDPR’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt might be pleased to hear that Rebel Wolves’ first game sounds like it could be a spiritual successor to the hit title.

 

Nintendo to stop Wii U and 3DS eShop purchases in 2023. Nintendo has announced that Wii U and 3DS players will no longer be able to purchase games on the eShop after March 2023. This includes free content and game demos as well as premium titles. While new games won't be purchasable after that date, games that a user already owns can be redownloaded onto those systems, and said content will still...

 

January game sales fall as PS5 and Xbox stock shortages continue | UK Monthly Charts. There was a sharp decline in sales of games, consoles and accessories during January. 2.29 million video games were sold in the UK last month, the latest GSD data shows (which covers all physical games and digital games from most AAA publishers). 

 

Wordle players, fear not: The New York Times says the ‘vast majority’ of win streak stats have now been carried over. The New York Times’ version of Wordle launched Thursday, but just like most big video game launches these days, it’s been messy. While there have been reports of a few different issues, perhaps the most egregious was that some win streaks weren’t carried over from the old Wordle URLs to the Wordle URL...

 

Pokémon Legends: Arceus remains No.1 for third week running | UK Boxed Charts. Pokémon Legends: Arceus once again took the top spot of the UK boxed charts, for the third consecutive week, despite a 45% drop in sales. Dying Light 2 had to settle for No.2 again for its second week in the charts. Sales for Techland's title only decreased 57% week-on-week, selling particularly well on PS5 (42% of all units shifted) and PS4 (29%). 

 

Lost Ark hits 1.3 million concurrent players in launch week. RPG Lost Ark has surpassed 1.3 million concurrent users since its launch on February 11, marking itself as one of Steam's most-played games by player numbers. According to SteamDB, the free-to-play Smilegate title is now the second most-played game on Steam in terms of concurrent users, sitting behind PUBG's peak of 3.2 million users. 

 

Nintendo doesn't want to get into the metaverse right now. Nintendo won't be hopping onto the metaverse train for the time being, as it doesn't know how it would use the concept to offer Nintendo's "fresh surprises and fun". Speaking during the company's most recent financial earnings Q&A, president Shuntaro Furukawa was asked if Nintendo has plans relating to the metaverse and NFTs, but only responded to the former...

Safety and Counterfeiting

 

Toy safety: Parliament wants stronger EU rules to protect children. MEPs want to strengthen current rules and market surveillance to ensure that all toys sold on the EU market, including from non-EU countries and online, are safe. Parliament stresses that, while the Toy Safety Directive (TSD) provides children with a high level of safety, some manufacturers from non-EU countries selling their products on the single market, especially online, do not comply with EU legislation. As a result, many toys sold in the EU still pose a significant threat.

 

Trading Standards confiscate dangerous toys at Port of Dover. Dangerous toys - which could cause small children to choke - have been intercepted at the Port of Dover. The items were found on a lorry coming through the docks from Turkey by the Imports Compliance Team at Kent County Council (KCC) Trading Standards. Some of the handmade soft toys - including octopus and crocodile heads - were aimed at children as young as 36 months, and had loose eyes and fabric for facial features that could easily be pulled off, swallowed and cause choking.

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Highlighted Press Releases

 

ARE TOYS BECOMING MORE FUN?  New Research Shows Marked Increase in Toy Play Value Over the Last 10 Years.  A recent study indicates that the toy industry has dramatically improved the play value of its products over the last 10 yrs, highlights opportunities for improvement both overall and in specific toy categories, and probes parents’ experiences with holiday supply chain issues. Titled “US Toy Industry Play Value Report Card: After the Toys Come Home”, the survey was fielded by play expert and founder of Funosophy, Nancy Zwiers, and the Michael Cohen Group, a prominent New York-based research firm.  The Michael Cohen Group also conducted the original 2011 study of the same name. Respondents to both studies include a statistically valid, nationally representative sample of parents of children between the ages of 2 and 6 yrs old. 

KIDS CAN’T WAIT FOR MOONLITE’S BEDTIME RITUAL: A TRULY ILLUMINATING STORY THEN A TUCK & A KISS!  Snow White, Little Mermaid, Monsters, Inc.? Oh My! Three New Storybook Gift Packs In Stock Ready To Lull Little Ones To Sleep In An Unexpected Way – When mom or dad announces time for bed, kids actually leap to brush their teeth and snuggle under the covers. Why? They know a Moonlite illuminated story is about to begin! New for 2022 are three exciting Gift Packs – Disney Classics, Disney Modern Classics and Pixar – that project from your smartphone onto a wall or ceiling. Dim the lights, cuddle in bed and tell a tale with vivid projections, sound effects and background music.  Dumbo, Pinocchio and Bambi will mesmerize a new generation as three of the five storybooks included in the new Disney Classics Gift Pack.

Associations, Shows, Awards, Events, and Festivals

 

ASTRA Exec Committee Meets to Discuss Implications of Toy Fair Changes, June CA Show is a Go.  With the announcement Feb. 22 that the Toy Association is changing New York Toy Fair from the traditional February to September 2023 and retiring its Dallas Show during the fall, the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) is querying its members about their needs to fill the void the Toy Fair change brings.

 

Western Toy & Hobby Representative Assn will kick off their next ToyFest since 2020 during the week of March 7thOn the evening of March 9th, toy industry colleagues will celebrate the lifetime achievements of these toy industry veterans, partners Marlene and Charles Gabris, Stephanie Sala, and Brian Turtle, all of whom will be inducted into the WTHRA Hall of Fame. Additionally, toy retailer, Thinker Toys in...

 

The TA is making plans to welcome the toy industry back to the Big Apple for a reimagined Toy Fair NY at the Javits Center in fall 2023. The Association and the Javits Center are currently in negotiations for its return with exact dates yet to be determined. It is likely that the show will take place in September. In addition, a fall toy preview event (name TBD) will take place this year in Dallas from Sept. 20-22.

With the pandemic continuing to impact play & family lifestyles and U.S. toy sales experiencing another year of double-digit growth, The Toy Association has unveiled the top toy trends that are expected to drive consumer spending on toys in 2022. The announcement was made during The Toy Association’s Toy Trends Briefing, which can now be viewed online.

 

The Brazilian International Toy Fair (ABRIN 2022), the largest event in the toy market in Latin America, is taking place March 13 - 16, at the Expo Center Norte in Sao Paulo. The Brazilian toy market experienced growth of 14% and generated revenue estimated at R$ 8.7 billion (around US$ 1.5 billion) in 2021, following the excellent results of 2020 (21% growth, the largest rise in recent years). 

 

The Toy Foundation unveiled the winners for the 22nd annual Toy of the Year Awards (TOTY) during a virtual event. The awards ceremony included the induction of four industry trailblazers into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame, as well as a spotlight on The Toy Foundation’s charitable initiatives. Squishmallows from Jazwares took home the coveted “Toy of the Year” award, the “People’s Choice” award and “Plush Toy of the Year.”

 

***the above posted after February 18th***

 

Licensing Expo confirms networking and content timetable.  Licensing Expo, which is run in partnership with industry trade association Licensing International, is the world’s largest licensing trade show and takes place at Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas from 24th-26th May 2022. Online registration is free and open now.

 

VidCon, which has been delayed for 3 years due to the COVID pandemic, is aiming to get back to business this summer.  The Viacom-owned convention has named the second batch of Featured Creators set to attend its upcoming gathering, slated for June 22 to 25with TikTok serving as title sponsor. The Featured Creators will include dance couple tWitch (Stephen Boss) and Allison Holker Boss alongside Andre Swilley...

 

A restructure at the company behind Mipcom, Mip TV and associated markets is gathering pace and several people working on the annual TV industry events have left in the past few weeks.  Deadline is aware of around half a dozen staff who have exited and were previously working mainly on the markets in areas such as sales, legal and admin. Others have left RX France recently but were working across...

Prime Time Toys launches Dart Zone Pro Tournament. Prime Time Toys International is inviting foam dart enthusiasts to blast their way into riches this summer. The company behind the Dart Zone brand of foam dart blasters teamed up with Foam Pro Tour to launch the Dart Zone Pro Tournament.

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RIP - Rest in Play - Remembering Those that have Passed

If you know of a colleague's passing, please send us information so we may share with our colleagues. Archives can be found HERE.

 

John Maxim -  Prolific toy and game inventor-engineer John Maxim died on February 6th at his home in Dallas, Texas, it was announced by his son, Michael. The cause of death was pancreatic cancer.

John began his career in the early 70s at Mattel in Preliminary Design. After several years at Mattel, he left to become an independent inventor. Among John’s many licensed inventions were Bumble Ball (Ertl), The Cutter (Crayola), Guzzlers (Ideal Toys), SpectraColor Image Pad (Irwin), Wibbly Wobbly Egg Race game (Vivid Imagination), Power Command Hot Wheels (Mattel) and countless other playthings. John was awarded dozens of patents.

Later in his career, he was a founding member of the Sunshine Santas, a tight knit group of independent inventors residing in south Florida.

John came to his ingenuity naturally. It was in his DNA. His family tree includes Sir Hiram Stevens Maxim (1840-1916), an American-British inventor best known as the creator of the first automatic machine gun, the Maxim gun. He was knighted in 1901. Hiram Percy Maxim (1869-1936), an MIT graduate, invented the first commercially successful sound suppressor for firearms (the silencer). He also developed mufflers for internal combustion engines. John’s son, Michael, an engineer, spent eight years at Space X before leaving to follow in his dad’s footsteps as an independent inventor.

In his final days, John enjoyed his lifelong passion for creating toys, communicating with colleagues around the country about projects in development. (written by Richard C. Levy)

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