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Welcome to Your Weekly News Brief!


Happy Bloomin' Friday! 

Rick Derr is a super toy retailer who is super generous with information on trends, sales figures, what works, and what doesn't. His latest post is packed with info and insight. Follow him on Linkedin for more insights! I've learned much from Rick over the years and consider him a mentor. (Thank you, Rick!)

I've been blessed with many mentors in my life, and it is a gift to be able to give back as one of the mentors to the MBA class at Northwestern's Kellogg School. This week, the Professor, David Schonthal, thanked the mentors and then encouraged the students to find a person or a group to mentor because, “Everyone has skills they can share!”. Check out his new book : The Human Element: Overcoming the Resistance That Awaits New Ideas 

​Thank you for reading the Bloom Report here or on the Bloom Report 24/7 News FeedPlease support our work by advertising and/or setting up a POP profile.


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Company of the Week - Kids In Danger Expands the KID Design Safety Toolkit with New Category-Specific Courses

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In July 2022, Kids In Danger (KID), a leading nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting children by fighting for product safety, introduced the KID Design Safety Toolkit to provide developers of children’s products with a free online tool to help create a safety mindset when embarking on new product development or when marketing those products.


KID recently expanded the Toolkit with the release of four new courses featuring masterclasses led by industry experts. The new courses take a deeper dive into how to create and design products more safely in the four key areas of children’s products.

  1. PLAY – includes not just toys but other products that end up in children’s hands for play

  2. SLEEP – critical because it is the only time infants are intended to be left alone

  3. AT HOME – covers all other product categories used in the home, such as furniture, bath and feeding

  4. OUT & ABOUT – those products and playthings that are used when the family is outside or away from home


Leading experts in each area share their design knowledge and expertise. Here are a few of our engaging and insightful masterclass experts: READ MORE... 

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Industry Commentary - Inventor Smart's Brian Fried

Navigating the Invention Journey: A Savvy Inventor's Guide for Asking the Right Questions to Expert Service Providers


Embarking on the thrilling journey of bringing your invention from concept to market is a testament to your creativity and determination. As an inventor coach with over 18 years of experience, I'm here to guide you through the essential questions to ask service providers and introduce exciting resources that can make your inventive process even more rewarding.


Introduction: Setting the Stage for Success


Before exploring the key questions for each service provider, it's essential to ensure you're well-prepared to seek the help you need. If you're in the early stages and have an idea but are unsure where to start, here are some questions to consider and ask:


The Inventor's Brainstorm: Working with an Advisor or Investor
Navigating the path from idea to market begins with seeking guidance from experienced professionals. Here are key questions to ask:


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Cartoon Lovers, Lexophiles & People in Need of a Smile! 

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Cartoons of the Week: Thank you to the person who wishes to remain anonymous for this week's squirrelly cartoon. 

Lexophile Lovers:  "Six cows were smoking joints and playing poker. That's right. The steaks were pretty high." Thank you, Jerry Cleary, for sharing with our readers! 

Memorable Quotes:

"“If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?” - Albert Einstein

Toy Industry Word of Day:  j'adoube submitted by Kim Vandenbroucke. If you can think of a toy/game industry word not in our POPDictionary, add it and we will connect it to you POP profile, feature it here in an upcoming week and on POP's homepage! 

Have a cartoon, quote or a joke to share with your colleagues? Send it to me!  Mary

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Financial and Legal

Relatable, known for card games like What Do You Meme? and Let’s Get Deep, recently acquired Hunt A Killer (HAK), a murder mystery franchise. This marks Relatable’s first acquisition. The murder mystery franchise joins Relatable’s growing list of products, which includes party and drinking games, family-friendly games, plush products, seasonal toys, and health & wellness products.

Big Lots closed a deal to buy the entire inventory of toy company Hearthsong. The inventory is valued at over $22 million. Through the acquisition, Big Lots will acquire more than 500 new SKUs, including indoor and outdoor toys, inflatables, playscapes, games, children’s decor and other items. The retailer will begin offering Hearthsong products starting in April and sell them from 50% to 70% off.


*** The above posted after February 23rd ***


Texas-based KidKraft struck a deal with Gordon Brothers to support its liquidity and continued exploration of strategic alternatives for the company. Baird Financial Group worked with KidKraft to pursue a cash infusion that will allow the company to continue servicing its supply chain partners that produce its range of wooden dollhouses, kitchens, vehicles, furniture, and outdoor toys.

American Girl doll will close its Madison-area corporate office this spring.  The popular toy brand American Girl, which was founded in the Madison area nearly 40 years ago, will be closing its corporate office in Middleton late this spring, the brand's parent company Mattel confirmed Thursday. According to Madison-based WMTV 15 News, the decision will affect about 30 jobs.

Arrowhead CEO says over-hiring would be 'horrible' response to Helldivers 2 success. Helldivers 2 creative director and CEO of developer Arrowhead Game Studios, Johan Pilestedt, says the studio won't be making any knee-jerk decisions in response to the title's meteoric launch success. "The act of over-hiring to then do layoffs is a horrible practice and a bad experience for employees," he explained. 


Phil Spencer: Xbox layoffs will ensure company has 'enough of the right people' to succeedXbox has been busy. Since the turn of the year, the company has announced 1,900 layoffs across its gaming divisions, including its recently-merged Activision Blizzard business, and detailed a multi-platform push that will eventually bring Xbox Game Studios titles to players beyond its own ecosystem. 


Build A Rocket Boy confirms layoffs weeks after raising $110 million. Scottish studio Build A Rocket Boy (BARB) raised $110 million just over four weeks ago. Now, the company is laying off an unknown number of staff. A small number of people impacted by the layoffs shared the news on Linkedin before a BARB spokesperson confirmed the story in a statement sent to Game Developer. 



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Financial Reporting

WBD’s Q4 results show full-year streaming profit. In the Q4 and full-year earnings report it published today, the DTC unit (comprising Max, Discovery+ and pay-TV net HBO) posted US$103 million in profit this fiscal year, compared to a loss of almost US$2.1 billion in 2022.

Walmart reports Fourth Quarter results. Fourth Quarter Highlights: Consolidated revenue of $173.4 billion, up 5.7%, or 4.9% (cc)1 • Consolidated gross margin rate up 39bps due to improvement at Walmart U.S. Consolidated operating income up $1.7 billion, or 30.4%; adjusted operating income up 13.2%1, positively affected by currency and LIFO of 2.3% and 1.0%, respectively. Global eCommerce sales grew 23%. Consolidated operating income up $6.6 billion, or 32.2%; adjusted operating income up 10.2% growing faster than sales.


Trends, Lists, Market Research, and State of the Industry

From Kidult to Preschool: Tim Kilpin, president, toys, licensing and entertainment, Hasbro, speaks with Ben Roberts, EMEA content director, License Global to define the trends of 2024

Spin Master names top toy trends for 2024. Trends include sustainability, fantasy, and more. 

Just Play on navigating toy market trends.


The Good News For TV Drama Producers Is That The Bad News Might Be Over: Global Content Spend Tipped To Return To Growth in 2024





How the toy industry is playing with AI. Execs from WowWee, Mego and ROYBI share how artificial intelligence is changing everything in the toy industry—from the backroom to the shelves.


The next generation of the model railroad industry. Despite those who don't believe the hobby is thriving, the Amherst show had a record attendance day on Saturday of 22,657 attendees.


What’s the Tooth Fairy Leaving These Days? $100 Bills and Louis Vuitton Bracelets. Parents are going bigger for the mini milestones in their children’s lives—but that is leading to comparisons and awkward conversations. “The phenomenon of going big for smaller milestones, such as losing a tooth, has been termed "inchstones" and is predicted to be a top trend in 2024. 

ONE GIFT IS NOT ENOUGH, IT HAS TO BE A BASKET  The extravagance continues with TikTok’s Valentine’s trend of gift baskets versus single gifts. It’s not just the Alpha’s, Gen-Z is happily enjoying the trend too. Is this a ‘core memory’ thing? Why is everyone going so over the top? Because gifting is now performance art. A brand could make this easier. (Good Thinking newsletter)

BUT MAYBE THEY WANT LESS? In contrast to Valentine’s baskets, Trend forecaster Ashley Edwards says there’s a rising “post-consumptive” mindset, where Alpha consumers are “scaling back their consumption in a big way, introducing ‘refuse’ and ‘repair’ into their eco-conscious lexicon beyond ‘reduce, reuse, recycle.” We all rebel against our parents. (Good Thinking newsletter)

MALL’S ARE THE NEW BARS—UNDER 18s NOT WELCOME - Atlantic Terminal Mall has instituted a new chaperone policy, which requires anyone under the age of 18 to be accompanied by an adult during most business hours. This is craziness. Casey wrote: “Teens belong in shopping malls. Give them a break!” and we couldn’t agree more. So interesting how brands all want Gen-Z but also want to keep them out. (Good Thinking newsletter)

EVERYBODY’S WAKING UP TO GEN ALPHA  “Businesses across categories need to start preparing to meet a new generation of digital native consumers. By 2025, Generation Alpha (ages 0 to 13 in 2024) will be the largest generation in history, and the first to be born in the 21st century. Their global economic footprint is projected to reach $5.46 trillion by 2029.” (Good Thinking newsletter)


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Stories, Comments, and Advice

Steve Reece - Toy Market Growth Opportunities In Turkey & The Istanbul Toy Fair. I have written extensively in this newsletter about the dropping birth rates in most major ‘western’ Toy markets. This is a threat to sales growth, because if we have fewer children we have fewer customers. However, one avenue to sales growth over the medium term is to look at economies which are up and coming and to invest your...

A new AVOD streamer called Blkfam is launching in the US with a programming lineup that caters to Black families. It’s currently offering more than 1,000 hours of animated content, including 20-plus syndicated shows and original music-based programming. Blkfam is available on platforms including iOS, Android, Roku and smart TVs from Samsung, Vizio and LG.


*** The above posted after February 26th ***


John Baulch, ToyWorld - Do the right thing … it’s the Friday Blog! I have mentioned in several pieces recently that the fact it’s an election year in both the UK and US could have far-reaching implications for the toy community. The most obvious area where this could manifest itself is in the economic arena. Typically, an incumbent government holds back tax giveaways in the years heading up to an election, so it can unleash...


Why Americans Suddenly Stopped Hanging Out. Too much aloneness is creating a crisis of social fitness. From 2003 to 2022, American men reduced their average hours of face-to-face socializing by about 30%. For unmarried Americans, the decline was even bigger—more than 35%. For teenagers, it was more than 45%. Boys and girls ages 15 to 19 reduced their weekly social hangouts by more than 3 hrs a week. In short, there is no statistical record of any other period in U.S. history when people have spent more time on their own. 

Are we entering a new golden age of trading card games? It wasn’t too long ago that those looking to pick up the hobby of playing trading card games were essentially faced with three options. The seminal Magic: The Gathering is now, and always has been, the giant for Western audiences and the go-to for those looking for a heavily-played and well-supported collectible card game that can be enjoyed pretty much anywhere...

London Fashion Week AW24 Highlights: Simone Rocha's playful glamour and animal toy accessories. Hot off the heels of Haute Couture Week in Paris, where she was a guest designer for Jean Paul Gaultier, Rocha debuted a more grownup aesthetic with an emphasis on voluminous shapes. 


THE BIG 3 REPORT FULL YEAR 2023 RESULTS: WHAT DID WE LEARN? FY 2023 results have now been reported by Hasbro, Mattel & Spin Master. For those trying to follow what is happening across the world of Toys & Games, these results are normally revealing because a). They offer up hard data as to the performance of the market leaders b). It becomes clearer which categories and types of products are winning in the market and...

Can Walmart’s ‘softness’ in toys spark a retail rebound? Walmart had a good year. The retail giant beat estimates for a 6% increase in year-over-year revenue to $648 billion for fiscal year 2024. Outside of strong performance at the cash register, the company did well across its other metrics, finishing the year with a strong fourth quarter and big gains in e-commerce. But what about the toy department?


Best Preschool Stem toys of 2024. As I waded through the sea of preschool STEM toys for my children, I quickly realized how overwhelming the task could be. The endless aisles are packed with gadgets and gizmos, each promising to be the key to unlocking a child's potential in science, technology, engineering, and math. 


Anime-Based TCGS on the rise in 2020s, here's how it happened, and the opportunity. New anime-licensed TCGs have been hitting North America over the last few years, and are taking the market by storm.  Anime-based TCGs have been fairly prevalent in Japan for a long time now, but only a few had made a significant splash here (most notably Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG) until recently.  

10 years ago, The Lego Movie proved that a film based on a toy wasn't such a bad idea after all. The idea of a movie based on a toy has always been shorthand for the complete creative bankruptcy of the film industry—an idea so craven and depressingly capitalistic that it seems to go against the very idea of art. And yet, for every five or so examples where that’s true, there’s an exception to the rule. Clue, for example...

Why Disney is seen as the “Big Winner in the Licensing Renaissance”. Disney is “set to be the big winner in the licensing renaissance” as Hollywood giants look to make revenue from their content beyond using it on their own streaming services, according to a new study. “Disney trumps all the other major studios with its ownership of powerful licensable content, owning more than double that of its rivals,” ...

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History and Nostalgia


Cat’s Eye from Marx (1976). Marbles, movement, and momentum sum up Cat’s Eye from Marx. Released in 1976, the multi-player game challenged participants to be first to complete their “cat” with the correct color marbles. At the start of each game, all marbles were placed in the plastic hopper attached to the game base. Each player selected a colored Cat tray. One person was chosen to say “Go” to start the game. 


Big Bruiser from Marx (1962). Released in the mid-1960s, Big Bruiser from Louis Marx and Company was a toy tow truck with abundant features that presented many opportunities for adventure. Each element of the metal and plastic truck was ready to address the same roadside mishaps that real-life specialized trucks regularly encountered. 

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Licensing and Entertainment 

Mattel Television is expanding the scope of its Thomas franchise with a 60-minute holiday special called Thomas & Friends: The Christmas Letter Express. This one-off is slated for a Netflix debut on November 21 as part of the upcoming 27th season of Thomas & Friends: All Engines Go, which Mattel co-produces with Nelvana Studios in Toronto.


Guru Studio has optioned the TV rights to develop an animated preschool series based on Spot, the popular picture book series from Penguin Random House Children’s UK imprint Puffin that has sold more than 65 million copies worldwide. Like the books, Guru’s adaptation will feature the first-time experiences had by Spot the puppy as he explores the world around him.


Lionsgate to turn Naruto into a live-action film. Destin Daniel Cretton will direct and write this big-screen manga adaptation, with Avi Arad's production company attached. Naruto‘s manga canon follows the adventures of a young ninja and outcast who dreams of one day becoming the respected leader of his village, but bears the spirit of a destructive nine-tailed fox inside his body.  


HMD, short for Human Mobile Devices, says it is launching a Barbie flip phone this summer, in a partnership with toy maker Mattel. It won’t be connected to the internet, making it a throwback to the “dumb phones” of yesteryear before smartphones became popular. The device looks like a standard flip phone with buttons rather than a touch screen, and comes in a hot pink color, resembling the iconic pink flip phone...


*** The above was posted after February 23rd ***


Ryan Reynolds to Reimagine Hasbro's Classic Board Game 'Clue' in Live-Action Adaptation. Ryan Reynolds, along with the Deadpool writers, adapts Hasbro's classic board game Clue into a live-action film, promising a blend of mystery and humor. The Clue universe expands further with an animated TV series on Hulu.

Disney+ has licensed all 25 seasons of Om Nom Stories from Spanish game studio Zeptolab (Cut the Rope) for its European service. The 2D-animated short series (250 x 3.5 minutes) revolves around a tiny green creature whose love of candy fuels the slapstick comedy in episodes driven by typical preschool experiences like taking a bath and getting scared. Disney+ plans to launch the package in Q4. 

Disney is outsourcing a big piece of its home entertainment division to Sony Pictures Entertainment, which will manufacture, distribute and market the Mouse House’s DVDs and Blu-ray discs and other physical media. As part of the deal, Sony will market, sell and distribute all Disney’s new releases and catalog titles on physical media to consumers through retailers and distributors in the U.S. and Canada.

Moonbug Entertainment, alongside IMC Toys' dedicated team, will actively engage in the management of key YouTube channels featuring popular series “Cry Babies Magic Tears,” “BFF by Cry Babies,” and “VIP Pets.” This collaboration goes beyond traditional roles, as Moonbug Entertainment will leverage its expertise in digital content management and provide valuable insights to IMC's YouTube Team.

Hasbro, Lucky Charms launch Lucky’s Leprechaun Trap. Hasbro and Lucky Charms, a General Mills brand, have partnered for a Lucky Charms-themed board game. Lucky’s Leprechaun Trap features the cereal’s mascot in a new version of the board game Mouse Trap. Players will aim to capture the leprechaun in the limited-edition action and chain reaction game. 

WildBrain’s Family Channel and RTL Netherlands have both picked up live-action YA drama Beyond Black Beauty from global distributor Sinking Ship Entertainment, which is also co-producing the series with Canada’s Leif Films and Belgian studio Saga Film. These are the first sales for Beyond Black Beauty, which was originally commissioned in 2022 by Amazon Freevee.

BKI Corp and its founder Bari Koral have appointed Perpetual Licensing to be the exclusive licensing agency for the YOGAPALOOZA brand. Beloved by millions of kids and adults, YOGAPALOOZA kids’ yoga and music videos are widely distributed through the popular YouTube Kids channel, Amazon, Roku, Happy Kids, SiriusXM and more. The licensing program will build upon the already strong partnerships with...

US public broadcaster PBS KIDS has invested in a raft of new content to drop into its programming lineup this year, including a bite-sized sci-fi comedy and two nature specials. The buying spree includes preschool toon Milo, which PBS KIDS has picked up to debut in the US this May. 

British broadcaster Sky has added two new 2D-animated series for its preschool viewers: Happy Town and Let’s Go, Bananas!. Both titles will roll out sometime this year on the Sky Kids linear channel, which launched a year ago to serve the under-seven demo. Happy Town is a 50 x seven-minute series about two besties, a hedgehog and a ladybird, who live in a colorful town and work hard to help others in their community.

Star Stable Entertainment has signed Stockholm-based licensing agency Rights & Brands to represent the global merch and publishing rights of its flagship same-name tween franchise. The Star Stable brand currently features a 2D-animated series, mobile games, books, music and a role-playing game called Star Stable Online that has attracted more than 26 million registered users since launching in 2011...

Pink Parrot closes theatrical deals for Elli and Her Monster Team! A Canadian/German co-pro, this book-based feature film for kids and families will roll out across 14 more countries after premiering domestically in June. The movie centers around a ghost who accidentally attracts too much attention from the living world while searching for a new home. She then works with a squad of monsters to restore order...

Boat Rocker Media has acquired distribution rights in all territories except the UK to Olga Da Polga, a preschool series based on another vintage publishing franchise created by Paddington author Michael Bond. Produced by Glasgow-based Maramedia, this quirky 2D-animated/live-action show was greenlit by CBeebies in July 2022 and then renewed for a second season last Oct. The IP dates back to 1971... 

Loungefly, the lifestyle brand from Funko, has announced an all-new collection of accessories in celebration of Sanrio’s 50th Anniversary of Hello Kitty. Available from March, the new line brings fans timeless and fashionable accessories inspired by the character. The Hello Kitty-inspired assortment captures the character’s playful and charming personality, as she embarks on delightful adventures...

Target and WubbaNub are bringing Bullseye to babies everywhere. WubbaNub, known for its pacifier plush of the same name, is partnering with Target for a new offering.  The new pacifier plush features Target’s Bull Terrier mascot, complete with the red Target circle over its eye. The WubbaNub is retailing for $15.99 and is free of BPA, PVC, and Phthalate. The pacifier is made from 100% silicone and the combined plush...

From the Screen to the Shelves: Top movies coming to the big screen in 2024. The entertainment market is teeming with more fan-favorite franchises than ever, so to celebrate the upcoming titles coming to screens this year, we take a toyetic look at the biggest kids’ (and kidult) opportunities for the toy aisle. Among the list of movies coming to streaming platforms and cinemas worldwide in 2024...


NBCUniversal Brands join McFarlane Toys’ Movie Maniacs lineup. Last year, McFarlane Toys relaunched its Movie Maniacs brand featuring collectible figures from Warner Bros. movies. Now, the brand is expanding to feature characters from NBCUniversal movies. This new wave of figures features characters from fan-favorite comedies, including Jake Blues from The Blues Brothers, Andy Stitzer...


LEGO reveals Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ Cottage. The LEGO Group’s latest collaboration with Disney is turning an old classic into a new favorite. The seven dwarfs’ cottage from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is being turned into brick form almost 90 years after the animated movie was first released. The LEGO Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ Cottage features more than 2,200 pieces...

Monopoly Prizm NBA Board Game, trading cards booster box launch. NBA All-Star Weekend has come and gone, but as the regular season resumes, Hasbro and Panini USA have announced the Monopoly Prizm: NBA 2nd Edition Board Game and Monopoly Prizm: 2023-24 NBA Trading Cards Booster Box. Following the success of last year’s Monopoly Prizm: NBA Edition Board Game, this refreshed edition of Monopoly...


Italy-themed DLC launched for ‘Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 – Turbocharged’. Mattel and Milan-based Milestone have announced the launch of a Made in Italy Expansion Pack for “Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 – Turbocharged,” featuring various new content with hints of nostalgia. The pack includes four of the most popular Italian vehicles and a new setting that will take players through the alleys of a small Italian coastal village. 


Savage new Hasbro Marvel Legends Series figures revealed! The Hasbro Marvel team participated in an exciting Marvel Legends Series Fanstream, full of awesome reveals, new figures and fun surprises. As part of today’s Fanstream, the team lifted the curtain on the Marvel Legends Series Marvel’s Zabu Build-A-Figure wave. Included in this comics-inspired wave are Superior Iron Man, Black Winter (Thor), Wolfsbane...


Dune: Part Two 'like no other blockbuster', say impressed critics. The second part of epic sci-fi film Dune has largely received rave reviews from critics. The long-awaited sequel was originally set to premiere last autumn but was pushed back due to the actors' strike. Starring Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya, expectations for the second part of the story were high after the success of Dune: Part One in 2021.


Moonbug’s ‘Morphle & The Magic Pets’ to debut on Disney March 20th. Moonbug Entertainment (CoComelon, Blippi), a subsidiary of Candle Media, along with Disney Branded Television, will debut a new CGI original series, Morphle and the Magic Pets, on Disney Junior and Disney+ starting Wednesday, March 20, 2024. The series will include 52 x 7-minute episodes and 50 x 3-minute shorts.


Heathside Trading signs licence agreement with Molang. Heathside has established an agreement with Millimages to become a licensee for Molang in the UK, Europe and the USA. The agreement was brokered by Kirsty Guthrie for Brand-Ward Service. The Molang licensed line, which will launch in the third quarter of 2024 through selected retail partners, will include a variety of toys, collectibles and gifts. 


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People of Play


Bob Fuhrer... Is THE Crocodile Dentist!. Robert "Bob" Fuhrer is for the toy industry what a producer is for the film industry; a mastermind who brings together creatives, engineers, and business minds to put out incredible toy products. In today's episode, he shares stories from his incredible career and advice for anyone who wants to succeed in the industry.

It’s a day of big movie moves at the Mouse House. Top feature film executive Sean Bailey has officially stepped down after 15 years of running Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production as president.  To replace him, the media giant has set up Searchlight co-president David Greenbaum in a newly created role as president of live action and 20th Century Studios. This brings both units under the purview of Greenbaum...

*** The above posted after February 23rd ***


Mattel has promoted Krista Berger to replace Lisa McKnight as SVP of Barbie and head of dolls. McKnight was upped to EVP and chief brand officer eight months ago. Berger now oversees global product development and brand marketing for all of Mattel’s doll franchises, including Barbie, Monster High and Polly Pocket. She reports to McKnight in her new role and is based in LA. 

Hollie Holmes’ big new gig - Moose Toys' VP of global licensing is on a mission to compete for new licenses, move its in-house IPs into untapped categories at retail, and prove the Australian toyco is a best-in-class partner. Hollie Holmes began her career working in sales, but her childhood passions for branding, packaging and design led her down the licensing path. In 2005, she landed an opportunity to break into...

LEGO appoints program lead, general contractor of Virginia site. The LEGO Group has named Vice President, Workplace Solutions & Operations Preben Elnef as permanent program leader and appointed Gray|Hourigan as general contractor for its manufacturing site in Chesterfield, Virginia. Elnef will assume the role in April and his responsibilities will include overseeing the factory’s construction and opening. 

Hey Hugo welcomes Richard Hawkins as sales director. Richard Hawkins has joined the Hey Hugo team in the role of Sales director as the company looks to launch its presence in the toy market. Richard brings with him a wealth of experience within the toy industry, having started his journey in the world of toys in 2006 with Nikko. Richard has subsequently gone on to work for Flair GP, VTech, Hornby...


Wyncor appoints two new top sales executives. Wyncor has announced the appointment of two distinguished sales executives to join the company’s sales team. Ami Dieckman, a former executive at Entertainment One and Just Play, has been named vice president of sales for EMEA & APAC and Steve Markey, a seasoned professional most recently with Hog Wild Toys, will lead sales efforts across North America and LATAM...

Sharan Sandhu joins Playroom as junior category manager. Playroom, the toy division at Associated Independent Stores (AIS), is pleased to announce the appointment of Sharan Sandhu as junior category manager. Sharan first joined the team at Toy Fair and is welcomed by Rosie Marshall, head of Toys and Children’s Gifts at Playroom. 


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Companies and Brands


Hasbro's Tom Warner retells the origins of how the toyco developed its iconic Transformers characters and lore from a sci-fi toy line created by Takara in the '80s. Company execs discovered the forerunner to Transformers toys at the Tokyo Toy Show in 1982. Japanese toyco Takara had launched a sci-fi toy line called Diaclone two years previously that featured transforming robots piloted by humans, doing battle...


*** The above posted after February 26th ***


ICTI Ethical Toy Program (IETP) has announced that it will become known as the Ethical Supply Chain Program (ESCP). The global non-profit is recognised as a leading expert in social compliance and labour standards, widely known for its robust Supplier Certification Program, alongside its Social Impact Assessment, Environmental Assessment, supplier capability building and worker wellbeing initiatives.

ChatGPT Went Berserk, Giving Nonsensical Responses All Night. OpenAI's ChatGPT experienced an unusual bug, spouting gibberish responses to user queries. Many shocking, nonsensical responses from ChatGPT were posted on X and Reddit from Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. ChatGPT’s responses were some mix of English, Spanish, and straight jibberish. There were also a few emojis thrown in...


Funrise will be entering the interactive companion segment later this year with its all-new brand, Furlings. The company reports that retailers were impressed with the products at both Nuremberg and the London Toy Fair, with one mentioning it was one of the best things they had seen during Toy Fair. Consumers can expect a feature-rich, interactive companion toy that leans heavily into innovation...


Douglas Company’s Sassy Pet Saks are here to stay. Turns out fashionistas everywhere love these little tote-style, pet carrying bags. Fun prints that coordinate with the animal inside is the muse for this line. The lifestyle gift creator and soft toy maker is adding ten new Sassy Saks in 2024. The Camping Sassy Sak holding a sweet little Fawn is on point for the season in the fashion industry. 


OWI’s AI SmartCore 4 set powers 4 smart vehicles. OWI Robotics‘ latest launch is the AI SmartCore 4, a kit that features four smart vehicles in one set. Designed for kids ages 8 and up, the set includes the All-Terrain Cube, the Super Snake, the Titan Tank, and the Turbo Trike. In all, the AI SmartCore 4 comes with 42 parts that snap together, a second generation SmartCore...


Scorpion Masque and Randolph Studio announce 'Now!' Scorpion Masque and Randolph Studio announced NOW!, a new competitive card game by Silvano Sorrentino, which till hit retail on April 17, 2024. In NOW!, players look to discard cards as quickly as possible as they search for the perfect numbered card.  .


Chronicle Books to debut in Toyology’s showroom at ToyFest. Chronicle Books is making its first appearance at ToyFest in Las Vegas, Nevada next month in Toyology’s showroom. “Knowing we are joining the ranks of so many iconic brands who have trusted Toyology’s expertise in the toy industry is very exciting for us,” says Bill Miller, President of Galison, Mudpuppy and Publisher of Ridley’s Games and Petit Collage. 

Talkative Tykes won’t be able to put down these new Fingerlings sweet tweets birds. More than monkeys are grabbing fingers this March! WowWee’s Fingerlings toys are already popular with kids who want an interactive buddy that can always hang around. The original Fingerlings were released in 2017, with a relaunch just last year, featuring incredibly cute baby monkeys. 


Wizards of the Coast reprints 'Magic: The Gathering's' Tarmogoyf, again. Wizards of the Coast unveiled another reprint the Tarmogoyf card, coming in the Magic: The Gathering - Universes Beyond Fallout booster set, which will release on March 8, 2024.  They have also released updated details on the new booster set, such as card treatments, promos, and more. 


Floodgate Games will release 'Everything Ever'. Floodgate Games will release Everything Ever, a new party game by Nathan Thornton, into retail on March 19, 2024. In this game, players take turns listing everything they can name in a certain category.  For example, players would list every dinosaur movie they can think of if the category was “Every Dinosaur Movie.”  


Glass Cannon Unplugged announces 'Dying Light: The Board Game'. Glass Cannon Unplugged announced Dying Light: The Board Game, based on the popular survival horror video game by Techland, which will hit Kickstarter on February 27, 2024. The Dying Light video game series was developed by Techland and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment in 2015. 


Lucky Duck will release 'Kingdom Rush: Elemental Uprising' into retail. Lucky Duck Games will release Kingdom Rush: Elemental Uprising, a new standalone board game, into retail on March 8, 2024. Kingdom Rush: Elemental Uprising, designed by Alara Cameron, Helana Hope, and Sen-Foong Lim, is a sequel to Kingdom Rush: Rift in Time that came out in 2020.  


Renegade announces 'Ezra And Nehemiah'. Renegade Game Studios announced Ezra and Nehemiah, a new board game, which will release into retail in May 2024. In this game, designed by Shem Phillips and SJ Macdonald, players head to ancient Jerusalem where they will be building the temple and city walls as well as teaching the Torah to returning exiles. 


Pudgy Penguins continues growth with expanded toy collection in Walmart. Pudgy Penguins has announced that its line of collectible toys, Pudgy Toys, will expand its Walmart relationship with the addition of 1,100 new locations that will carry the line and the introduction of new Walmart toy exclusives. 


'Pac-Man' board game incoming. Hachette Boardgames will release Quoridor Pac-Man, a board game by Gigamic, into retail in June 2024. In this limited edition of Quoridor, designed by Mirko Marchesi and first released in 1997 players assume the roles of Pac-Man or the Ghosts.  They then set off on conquering maze challenges across two modes of play.  

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Gaming: Digital, Video, Hardware, and Development


Over 500 titles earned more than $3 million on Steam in 2023. Valve said the milestone represents a new platform record. More than 500 games earned over $3 million in gross revenue on Steam in 2023 for the first time ever. Valve shared the news in its Steam Annual Summary for 2023 and noted that's more than double the number of titles that passed the same threshold back in 2018. The number was touted by Valve as a metric of Steam's growing reach, and although the company didn't discuss specific titles it did claim that …

Enshrouded nets 2 million players since Early Access launch. Keen Games revealed its co-op survival game Enshrouded has reached 2 million players in three weeks. The Early Access title launched in late January, and is also Keen's first self-published title. Its previous game, Portal Knights, was published by 505 Games. Like many Early Access games, Keen will look to Enshrouded players for feedback. 


Tales of Arise hits 3 million copies sold. Bandai Namco announced Tales of Arise has crossed the benchmark of 3 million copies sold. The action RPG was released in late 2021 for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X. In its first week, it sold 1 million copies and became the fastest-selling Tales game. 


Helldivers 2 sees over 400,000 concurrent players on Steam alone. The extraction shooter is now matching Palworld for online popularity. Third-person shooter sensation Helldivers 2 reached an extraordinary 409,337 concurrent players over the weekend. That makes it the fifth most popular game on Steam, a fact made all the more impressive when you factor in that three of those five games are free...


Highlighted Press Releases

MOONLITE LAUNCHES NEW PRICE POINTS & PACKAGING ALONG WITH NEW STORIES EXCLUSIVELY FOR BRICK & MORTAR RETAILERS. 1 & 3 Story Projector Packs Created for Specialty Retailers Who Already Know To Look To Moonlite To Create Magical Moments For Families, Story After Story. Beaverton, OR (February 20, 2024) — Can a daily story time build proven and lasting intellectual benefits? Yes, say retailers, when it’s Moonlite, known for sparking the early development of imagination and curiosity as it nurtures a love of reading and art. This month retailers can order eight new Projector Packs packaged as a single or a trio of bedtime stories for in-store purchase exclusively and not to be sold at nor Amazon. They will ship to retailers by August 2024.

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Associations, Shows, Awards, Events, and Festivals

The board of governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voted Monday to make the Short Films and Feature Animation Branch two distinct branches: the Animation Branch and the Short Films Branch. The move essentially has the effect of separating Animated Features and Animated Shorts from the Live Action Short, thus leaving the latter overseeing just live-action and nonfiction shorts...


Cardboard Edison has announced the finalists for this year’s Cardboard. Edison Award contest for unpublished board game designs. The 2024 competition received 339 entries, representing an increase of 36% in total. submissions from the previous year. From them, 14 finalists were chosen...


*** The above posted after February 23rd ***


Licensing Expo (held at Mandalay Bay Convention Center from May 21st-23rd 2024) – dedicated to brand licensing, IP extension, partnerships and collaborations – has unveiled a preview of the ‘Shaping the Future’ content taking place across this year’s campus and curated an impactful agenda for the final day of the show. The final day of Licensing Expo opens with AI Futurist Zack Kass, former head of Go-to-Market for OpenAI, developers of the pioneering ChatGPT chatbot, and previous advisor of brands including Coca-Cola and Morgan Stanley.


Come Play at ToyFest 2024 - March 3 – 5 at World Market Center Las Vegas. Earlier this year, The Western Toy and Hobby Representatives Association (WTHRA) announced ToyFest’s plans, Hall of Fame recipients, and its participation at The Expo at World Market Center Las Vegas. The Board of Directors and Slate of Officers have spent many months making plans and exciting changes for the 2024 show. ToyFest 2023 was...

Sony Pictures Animation’s CG pic Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse emerged as the big winner at 51st-annual Annie Awards ceremony, celebrating excellence in 32 animation categories. The web-slinger sequel dominated seven of these fields, winning Best Feature, Best Direction, Best Music, Best Production Design and Best Editorial. Across the Spider-Verse was the sixth highest-grossing film of 2023... 


Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment (WiT) is excited to announce the launch of the Tabletop Gaming Learning Community (TLC). The TLC aims to create an inclusive and supportive space for women working in, or aspiring to enter the tabletop gaming industry, facilitating collaboration, learning and growth. Led by seasoned tabletop industry professionals, the community will harness diverse talents and insights...

Safety and Counterfeiting


KID releases 4 new design safety masterclasses. Kids in Danger (KID), a nonprofit organization that protects children by fighting for product safety, recently released four new masterclasses. The new courses, which are part of the KID Design Safety Toolkit, are designed for businesses and entrepreneurs that create children’s products. 

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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 readers. Archives can be found HERE

Barry Harding passed away on Sunday 11th February. Well known and liked throughout the trade, Barry Harding was a consummate sales professional. Former colleague John Mitchell described him as “honest, dependable, decent and totally committed – a salesperson of the highest integrity. He was dedicated to his craft and one of the most courteous people you will ever meet.”

Barry had a long and distinguished toy trade career which spanned over 40 years, working with major companies such as Fisher Price, Playmobil and Step2 before setting up his own sales agency, BG Marketing, which represented a number of international toy companies in the UK market, including Kiddesigns.

Following many years of service to the toy industry, in which he made a good deal of friends, Barry finally retired at the end of 2018. He will be remembered by his many acquaintances as always being perfectly turned out, with the dapper suits he wore epitomising his meticulous attention to detail and efficiency in business.

Toy World would like to add its condolences to Barry’s wife Gill and their children, Lee, Jason, Rebecca and Stuart, and all of his friends and former colleagues.

The funeral will take place at 11.00 am on March 12th at the Southend Crematorium (SS2 5PX), and afterwards at Roslin Beach Hotel.


Yoshitaka MurayamaEiyuden Chronicle and Suikoden creator Yoshitaka Murayama has passed away. Rabbit & Bear Studios, the company founded by Murayama to develop Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes, shared the news on its website (as spotted by VGC).

"It's with a heavy heart and deep sadness we must inform you that the scenario writer and head of Rabbit & Bear Studios, Yoshitaka Murayama, has passed away on February 6 due to complications with an ongoing illness," reads the post.

"His hard work on Eiyuden Chronicle as scenario writer was finished but as his co-workers and friends, it saddens us to know that he won’t get to see the reactions from his fans. However, even with those feelings we need to accept the reality that he is no longer with us and continue to push his dream forward by releasing Eiyuden Chronicle to the world."

The studio said the finished game will maintain his "legacy and vision" and noted it will have more information on organizational changes in due course. Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes publisher 505 Games also paid its respects on X.

"It is with deep and profound sadness that we have learned of the passing of our friend Yoshitaka Murayama, the creator of the forthcoming Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes. Not only was he a true pioneer and visionary, creating cherished memories for millions of people around the world, but he was a wonderful partner and dear colleague," wrote the 505 team.

"His enthusiasm and creativity knew no bounds and the gaming world will feel emptier without him. All of us at Digital Bros and 505 Games wish to express our most sincere condolences to Murayama-san's family, friends, and all those at Rabbit & Bear at this time. He will be sorely missed."

Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes was pitched as a spiritual successor to the Suikoden franchise, which Yoshitaka Murayama helped create during his time at Konami in the '90s.

Murayama worked on multiple entries in the Suikoden series as a writer, director and producer before eventually leaving Konami in 2002 to explore the world of freelance development. At the time of writing, Hundred Heroes is still slated for release in April this year.

Worldwide Magazines Weekly Top Stories

Added Friday Morning Chicago Time. Check Back for Complete Lists.


Toy Trade Monthly Issues​​​​​

Adventure Media & Events (US)

  1. From the Editor: Can Walmart’s ‘Softness’ in Toys Spark a Retail Rebound? (The Toy Book)

  2. New Baby Bullseye WubbaNub Is Perfect for the Littlest Target Shoppers (The Toy Insider)

  3. Dive into Disney History with ‘Up For Auction’ with Chris Hardwick (The Pop Insider)

  4. Spin Master Names Top Toy Trends for 2024 (The Toy Book)

  5. Moose Games Launches Pickleball Blast (The Toy Book)

  6. From the Archives: Why a New Toy Trade Magazine? (The Toy Book)

  7. KidKraft Pursuing Possible Sale Amid Gordon Brothers Cash Infusion (The Toy Book)

  8. WowWee Reveals New Fingerlings Sweet Tweets Birds (The Toy Book)

  9. New Youtooz Spongebob Squarepants Youtooz Collectibles Materialize Iconic Memes (The Pop Insider)

  10. WiT Launches New Tabletop Gaming Learning Community (The Toy Book)

aNb Media (US) 


Toyworld (UK)

  1. Not going out … it’s the Friday Blog!

  2. Topps and José Mourinho team up in UEFA Euro 2024 campaign

  3. Sharan Sandhu joins Playroom as junior category manager

  4. Funrise unveils new Furlings brand

  5. Just Play launches FurReal interactive pet toys

  6. Obituary: Barry Harding

  7. Wyncor appoints two new top sales executives

  8. Heathside Trading signs licence agreement with Molang

  9. Hey Hugo welcomes Richard Hawkins as Sales director

  10. Tyler’s Trust charity calls for donations Powered by Toyworld

  1. Dungeons & Dragons theatrical experience to arrive this spring

  2. IMG and Claire’s announce licensing partnership

  3. Rubies launches Care Bears costume collection

  4. Funko’s Loungefly celebrates Hello Kitty anniversary

  5. Las Vegas Licensing Expo offers first look at closing programme

  6. Natural History Museum and Dunelm unveil Treasures collection

  7. Perryscope Productions announces new James Brown apparel collection

  8. Peppa Pig teams up with Pickles & Bakes biscuits

  9. Wyncor appoints two new top sales executives

  10. Moonbug to launch new Morphle and the Magic Pets series

ICv2: The Business of Geek Culture (US) 

Wizards of the Coast Reprints 'Magic: The Gathering's' Tarmogoyf, Again
Fantasy Flight Reveals 'Star Wars: Unlimited - Spark of the Rebellion Weekly Play Kit'
Cephalofair Games Will Release 'Frosthaven: Play Surface Books'
ICv2 Interview: Gen Con Owner Peter Adkison
Gale Force Nine Announces Three Projects
Rolling for Initiative – Hasbro Figures Look Good for WotC
Gale Force Nine Unveils 'Clash of Steel'
Wizards of the Coast Honors Sheldon Menery with 'Magic: The Gathering' 'Secret Lair' Drop
Incredibly Rare 'Magic: The Gathering - Arabian Nights' Sealed Box Hammers at Over $200,000
'Pac-Man' Board Game Incoming

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

Global Toy News


The Bugg Report (Australia)

The Toy Universe (Australia)


Casual Game Revolution

News Flash: Digsaw Released, 2024 As d'Or Nominees
Stronghold Games has released a new roll-and-cut game, the 2024 As d’Or Nominees have been announced, and Red Raven Games has a new game in the works.

Video of the Week 

Toy Hub Trivia: Sabrina Gareau



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