February 24 - March 3, 2023
Welcome to Your Weekly News Brief!
Happy Bloomin' Friday!
I'm writing from ToyFest in Las Vegas. It is my first time attending, and though I’m one of many newcomers to this scene, veterans of the show tell me it’s been the busiest and biggest ToyFest ever. Over 500 manufacturers are represented in the permanent showrooms and on the exhibit floor, and there’s a positive buzzing vibe! I found their Trends session, moderated by Brian Miller of Gepetto’s, quite interesting, with panelists Betsy Malito of Gifts & Dec, Donna Moore of TTPM, Lizzy Newsome of Kappa Toys, and Tom Rushton of Revenew Sales.
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Person of the Week - Lea Culliton
Kickstarting the New North East Toy Show (NETS)
Hi Lea! We've heard you are no longer retired. Can you share what you are up to now?
After only seven months of retirement Christine and Alan Blumberg have recruited me to help them kickstart the new North East Toy Show (NETS). For over 20 years, I oversaw the HABA USA division of the German based, family owned and operated Habermaass GmbH.
Why and how did you get into the Toy and Game industry?
It’s quite a fun story; prior to working for HABA I was working for a company called Gressco Ltd. Gressco primarily built furniture for both school and public libraries. At the time Gressco was owned by a gentleman named Patrick Gresswell who resided in the UK. At Gressco I wanted to expand into more children’s furniture to make libraries a fun place for children and families to visit. Patrick flew the president, Bob Childers, and me to Europe (my first trip overseas) to visit several furniture manufacturers in both France and Germany. That’s when we found HABA in the little town of Bad Rodach, Germany! Gressco then became the exclusive importer/distributor of the HABA early childhood furniture; they still retain that agreement today! This was in the late 1990’s so I was calling on Beckley Cardy, JL Hammett, Highsmith, etc. Unfortunately, we all know how that turned out.
Person of the Week - Ultra Pro's Nick Fiorillo
Don’t be Afraid to Take the Next Step
(Mary) Hi Nick! What are your roles and responsibilities in our industry?
I am the Senior Product Line Manager for Ultra PRO Entertainment. I handle all of the production for our game division. In the role I’m responsible for the finding of potential new products, and then taking those products from prototype all the way through to market.
What advice do you have for people starting in the industry?
- Try and learn as much as you can about the whole process of taking a product from concept to release. Even if your current position is only responsible for certain things along the way, knowing the full process will definitely help out in the long run.
Are you named after anyone?
- Santa Claus, not kidding. My birthday is so close to Christmas that my Mother named me Nicholas for Good Ol St. Nick.
Film Review by Julia DeKorte
Film Review: The Toys That Built America - Season 1
Season 1 of The Toys That Built America dives deep into the history of some of the most significant toys ever created, ones that are now categorized as ‘classics.’ These toys, most of which were invented in the wake of World War II, revolutionized the toy industry by rethinking what it means to play, both for children and adults. Each episode explores two or three toys or companies and their origins, followed by their many successes and failures over the years. Though pieced together by a narrator, the story is told through live action, taking viewers back to the days that each toy was created or company founded. Captivating and informative with interviews from experts interspersed throughout each episode, The Toys That Built America is the perfect show for anyone looking to learn more about the early toys that paved the road for the toy industry today.
Episode 1: Masters of Innovation
Episode 1 of The Toys That Built America features three classic toys: Slinky, Silly Putty, and WHAM-O’s Slingshot.
Cartoon of the Week
Ha! Most, if not all, of us know the pain of stepping on a LEGO piece!
Have a cartoon or a joke to share with your colleagues? Send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org! Can't wait to see what you've got!
Financial and Legal
The merger between Information Resources Inc. (IRI) and The NPD Group (NPD) has spawned a new brand and corporate identity to carry the combined forces into the future: Circana. As Circana, that will continue as the company positions itself as “the leading advisor on the complexity of consumer behavior.”
Breaking News: German retailer Mytoys.de ceases trading. The Mytoys headquarters in Berlin will close as well as 19 stores by February 2024, affecting around 800 employees in total. The retailer forms a substantial percentage of the German toy market – some have estimated up to 10%, although this figure is unconfirmed.
***The above posted after March 3rd***
Falling container rates spark concern over new shipping delays. With falling container rates, US retailers are bracing themselves for delays as some shipping lines try to boost prices by cancelling voyages. Reporting from the TPM23 shipping conference in California this week, Reuters reported that carriers such as MSC and Maersk are trying to increase prices by cancelling voyages, which could mean a new round of delays...
Microsoft granted access to internal Sony documents as part of FTC lawsuit. Sony's attempt to quash or limit a subpoena it was served by Microsoft as part of the latter's ongoing legal battle with U.S. regulator the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been denied in part, and granted in part. Microsoft is currently trading blows with the FTC over its bid to acquire Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion, and back in...
Jonathan’s Toys enters administration. It is with deep regret that Andrew Moulsher, managing director of Jonathan’s Toys, has announced that the business is to be placed in administration. Explaining the decision, he stated: “Since taking over the business in August 2022, strenuous efforts have been made to secure much needed additional funding to enable the business to trade and grow.
TikTok sets 60-minute daily screen time limit for under-18s. TikTok is setting a 60-minute daily screen time limit for users who are aged under 18. If young people hit the new limit, they will have to enter a passcode to continue to use the service that day. But they will be able to opt out of the new measure, which TikTok says will be rolled out "in the coming weeks".
Sainsbury’s will close two Argos depots over the next three years in a move that will affect over 1,400 jobs. The Argos warehouses in Basildon, Essex, and a depot in Heywood, Greater Manchester, have been earmarked for closure by 2026, affecting both Sainsbury’s staff and those who work for an outsourced contractor. The roles have been put into consultation.
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Trends, Market Research, and State of the Industry
STATE OF THE INDUSTRY Q&A 2023: WORLD OF EPI. Dr. Lisa Williams, CEO at World of EPI, discusses the challenges of the past year, the big wins (a TOTY!), and what’s next for her growing company
STATE OF THE INDUSTRY Q&A 2023: SNICKELFRITZ TOYS. Heather Edwards, owner of Snickelfritz Toys in Vernon Hills, Illinois, discusses big hits, the challenges facing specialty retailers, and predictions for the future
STATE OF THE INDUSTRY Q&A 2023: CRAYOLA. Victoria Lozano, Executive Vice President, Marketing at Crayola, shares insight on changing play patterns, diversity, and location-based entertainment
STATE OF THE INDUSTRY Q&A 2023: MOOSE TOYS. Belinda Gruebner, Chief Marketing Officer at Moose Toys, discusses the mainstream success of Magic Mixies, expansion into games, and how the company is gearing up for growth
STATE OF THE INDUSTRY Q&A 2023: LEARNING EXPRESS TOYS & GIFTS. Lauren Derse, the new CEO of Learning Express Toys & Gifts, discusses specialty retail trends, the rise of tweens, teens, and kidults, and the changing trade show landscape
STATE OF THE INDUSTRY Q&A 2023: JUST PLAY. Sunny Lauridsen, Senior Vice President of Brand Strategy and Licensing at Just Play discusses the company’s new acquisitions and the importance of refreshing Sesame Street in the preschool aisle
STATE OF THE INDUSTRY Q&A 2023: MASTERMIND TOYS. Sarah Jordan, CEO of Mastermind Toys, discusses the expansion of private label offerings, books, and more
STATE OF THE INDUSTRY Q&A 2023: GENNCOMM IMAGENNATION: Genna Rosenberg, CEO & Chief Ideator at GennComm ImaGENNation discusses strategies for the months ahead, the challenges and opportunities facing smaller toy companies, and predictions for the future
In the Toy Kitchen, Tacos, Lumpia and Charcuterie Are on the Menu. Food toys have evolved to reflect more diverse cuisines and up-to-date eating habits.
***The above posted after March 3rd***
STATE OF THE INDUSTRY: PREDICTIONS FOR U.S. TOY INDUSTRY PERFORMANCE IN 2023 by GERRICK JOHNSON, Analyst, BMO Capital Markets. Looking ahead at the toy industry this year, I anticipate pressure on the consumer to continue, particularly in the early part of the year. But consumers are adjusting to higher prices and are getting a better idea of how to manage their budgets. I expect retail sales to accelerate through the year and to end with solid growth in Q4.
STATE OF THE INDUSTRY Q&A 2023: FUNKO GAMES - Deirdre Cross, GM at Funko Games offers insight into the co.’s recent partnership with Hasbro and the success of its Five Nights at Freddy’s offerings in The Toy Book’s 2023 State of the Industry Q&A..
STATE OF THE INDUSTRY Q&A 2023: HASBRO. Kim Boyd, Head of Global Brands & Consumer Innovation at Hasbro, discusses the company’s big focus on licensing, entertainment, and more in The Toy Book’s 2023 State of the Industry Q&A roundtable.
STATE OF THE INDUSTRY Q&A 2023: CHIZSIX MARKETING & MEDIA. Harold Chizick, CEO of ChizSix Marketing & Media, shares insight and predictions on toy industry marketing in The Toy Book’s 2023 State of the Industry Q&A.
STATE OF THE INDUSTRY Q&A 2023: THE POKÉMON CO. INTL. Daniel Benkwitt, Director of PR and Corp. Communications at The Pokémon Co. Intl discusses big wins, retail support, and the future of the brand in The Toy Book’s 2023 State of the Industry.
STATE OF THE INDUSTRY Q&A 2023: ASTRA. Sue Warfield, President of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) discusses the outlook for this year in The Toy Book’s 2023 State of the Industry Q&A
STATE OF THE INDUSTRY Q&A 2023: LOUNGEFLY. Derrick Baca, Senior Vice President, Creative, Innovation & Vision at Loungefly, discusses the growth of the brand in The Toy Book‘s 2023 State of the Industry Q&A
STATE OF THE INDUSTRY Q&A 2023: ALEX BABY & TOY. Jamie Elliott, General Manager at Alex Baby & Toy, discusses the U.S. rollout of this new retail concept created by the teams behind Toys “R” Us Canada, FYE, Alex Global Products (formerly Alex Brands), and Everest Toys.
STATE OF THE INDUSTRY Q&A 2023: VTECH. Andy Keimach, President of VTech Electronics North America discusses new innovations, learning at home, and the intersection of physical and digital play in The Toy Book’s 2023 State of the Industry Q&A
STATE OF THE INDUSTRY Q&A 2023: AMAZON. Anne Carrihill, Director of Toys and Games at Amazon shares insights from 2022, and predictions for the year ahead in The Toy Book’s 2023 State of the Industry Q&A
State of the Industry Q&A 2023: MGA Entertainment. Isaac Larian, Founder and CEO of MGA, discusses the company’s expansion into entertainment, the state of retail, and the Toy Fair shift to fall in The Toy Book’s 2023 State of the Industry Q&A
State of the Industry Q&A 2023: The Toy Association. Steve Pasierb, President and CEO of TA, shares insights on Toy Fair 2023, the challenges currently facing the industry, and predictions for the months ahead in The Toy Book’s 2023 State of the Industry Q&A
State of the Industry Q&A 2023: WHP Global, Toys ‘R’ Us, Babies ‘R’ Us. Yehuda Shmidman, Chairman & CEO of WHP Global, Toys “R” Us, and Babies “R” Us delivers an update on the business in The Toy Book’s 2023 State of the Industry Q&A
State of the Industry Q&A 2023: Toys ‘R’ Us Canada. Nick Muriella, Vice President of Merchandising and Supply Chain, and Allyson Banks, Marketing Director at Toys “R” Us Canada, discuss some big wins, future outlook, expansion in books, and the power of imagination in The Toy Book’s 2023 State of the Industry Q&A
STATE OF THE INDUSTRY: U.S. TOY INDUSTRY DEMONSTRATES RESILIENCE DESPITE GROWING CHALLENGES. U.S. retail sales of toys generated $29.2 billion in 2022, a slight decrease of 0.2% or $49 million compared to 2021. Unit sales declined by 4% and the average selling price (ASP) of $12.68 was 3% higher than in 2021. While unit sales declined by 4% in 2022, it’s worth noting that the industry is coming off two consecutive years of unit sales increases, including growth of 9% in 2021.
TOP MANGA FRANCHISES – FALL 2022 'Berserk' Tops Again
Stories, Comments, and Advice
Toy companies plan to reboot old favorites and lower prices to lure shoppers who are struggling to pay for necessities like food and electricity. At The Play Date trade show in Manhattan on Wednesday, toy makers touted the return of past hits like Fingerlings and the Littlest Pet Shop at discounted prices.
In a special Science & Nature feature, Toy World examines the role of toys in helping children to understand more about the world we live in. Acknowledging that children learn best when they are fully engaged with the topic, many suppliers in the Science & Nature space are now using technology to enhance play and fully immerse kids into a journey of discovery. Clementoni’s Paul Fogarty tells us that...
Results are in: Winners of Madison snowplow naming contest announced: Vehicles join Saltimus Prime among the ranks of Madison snow removal fleet. Others include: Snowbi Wan Kenobi, Scoopy Doo and more. (Editor's note: If you have toy themed favorites from your hometown, let us know and we'll publish them next week!)
Forever young: The rise of the 'kidults'. Toys are occasionally marketed to "children of all ages." In recent years, market research has shown the number of toy-buyers over 12 years old is growing. The demographic, sometimes called "kidults," now comprises a quarter of the annual toy retail market, and an impressive 60% of the market’s growth in the last year, according to market research company NPD Group.
***The above posted after arch 3rd***
John Baulch, Toy World - Reality check …it’s the Friday Blog! Starting with the biggest news of the week – in the world of toys at least – the Nuremberg Toy Fair has officially announced its dates for 2024. As predicted in the Blog a month ago (good to see the old crystal ball is still working), there is a slight change in the date configuration for next year, with the show shifting to a new Tuesday-Saturday format.
Steve Reece, The Toy Journal. FIVE KEY LEARNINGS FROM PLAYTESTING TOYS & GAMES WITH KIDS, PARENTS & KIDULTS OVER 25 YEARS...Here’s 5 key areas where my clients routinely benefit from running playtesting research: 1. Identifying Products Which Are Likely To Flop Before They Are Tooled, Manufactured & Brought To Market At Great Cost!nOver time, I estimate that one in every 8 to 10 products...
Mattel Confirms That Animated Version Of Barney Still Has Man Inside. “Although this cartoon version of Barney might look different than the Barney of your childhoods, Barney the big purple dinosaur will always, always have a rude, middle-aged alcoholic operating him at all times,” said Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz, adding that while this Barney may have bigger eyes, a more contoured face, and shinier teeth, the disheveled and...
Dillon Ruble and Garrett Jensen, both engineers at Boeing, broke a record in Dec. that had only a little to do with their day jobs: They broke the record for farthest flight by a paper aircraft, sending a sheet of paper 88.318 meters, or almost 290 ft. Ruble and Jensen accomplished the feat with the help of Nathaniel Erickson; all three are cited on the Guiness World Records page...
How toys and licensing are helping 3D printing go mainstream. Companies like Toybox Labs and Hasbro are building up the mass-market appeal of 3D printers with kid-friendly brands, easy-to-use platforms and appealing customizations. When 3D printers made their debut in 1986, the technology was locked behind a maze of barriers to entry, including software, bulky equipment and limited applications.
How Chicago's independent toy companies have thrived. When the category-killer, big-box retailer Toys "R" Us announced five years ago that it was declaring bankruptcy and liquidating all 800 of its U.S. stores, the company famously admitted that it could no longer compete — Walmart, Target and Amazon advertised prices it couldn’t match. Maybe the story was more complicated than that. At about the same time Toys "R" Us...
RAISING THE BAR: DO YOU ACTUALLY OWN YOUR IP? Before diving into this, let’s quickly review the most common types of IP: copyrights, trademarks, patents, and trade secrets. While IP ownership issues can come up in connection with any of these, for practical purposes, copyrights are the most common type of IP that’s involved when it comes to working with, collaborating with, or hiring people to...
The key Cs of TCGs: Characters, community & collecting. Ravensburger, Wizards of the Coast and Konami weigh in on strategies for building and stoking fan love in the competitive trading-card space. Since its inception in the early ’90s, the trading card game (TCG) market has been dominated by three core competitors—Magic: The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh! and Pokémon.
The International Toy Box: A deep dive into Latin America’s toy industry. No matter what part of the world they live in, a need for connection, a desire to create, and a willingness to learn will always draw kids to toys. The recent growth of streaming services, digital content, and e-commerce platforms has made connecting with families in international markets easier than ever.
Hong Kong – a living history of the toy business. As we all know, Toys are not just for children’s play. Toys are so much more. They are cultural products closely associated with history, social developments, children’s education, overseas trade, and ultimately economic development. Hong Kong has played an essential role in developing the global toy industry after the second world war.
WIT Stories: Musings on mentorship from 7 WIT mentors. by AMY THOMPSON, Executive Vice President & Chief People Officer at Mattel, WiT Board Member. Mentorship plays an important role in advancing women in the workplace. I’m energized by the impact that the Ruth Handler Mentorship Program for Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment has made...
Soccer game stopped as fans shower field with stuffed toys for earthquake victims. A Turkish Super League soccer game Sunday in Istanbul was stopped as fans showered the field with stuffed toys that were meant as donations for children impacted by the deadly earthquakes in Turkey and Syria this month.
YouTube’s Podcast Play Comes Into Focus Amid Skepticism From Creators. Kai Chuk, YouTube's head of podcasting, revealed more details about the video giant's plans for audio creators — but questions still remain around monetization and usability. It’s become somewhat of a running joke amongst some members of the podcasting community that YouTube, despite its strength as a major player in the creator economy...
John Baulch, Toy World (UK) - Pragmatism rules … it’s the Friday Blog! Apologies for returning to the Amazon situation so soon, but a) there appear to have been some key developments since I wrote last week’s Blog and b) not much else of note has been happening in the world of toys this week. It’s also a topic that clearly resonates with the toy community: I received numerous calls and emails this week from...
History and Nostalgia
Yabba Dabba Do! A Brief History of “The Flintstones”. When The Flintstones premiered on ABC in 1960, NY Times critic Jack Gould derided the show as “an inked disaster” and Jackie Gleason considered suing, contending the primetime cartoon experiment was a Honeymooners copycat set in 10,000 BCE. Still, fans grew attached to Fred, Wilma, Barney, and Betty — at least until the introduction of The Great Gazoo...
***The above posted after March 3rd***
Who first thought of Cribbage? Cribbage was invented by Sir John Suckling in the 17th century. He was a poet, soldier, and gambler who reportedly cheated many of his nobleman friends by sending them packs of marked cards as gifts and then teaching cribbage to them using the marked decks so that he could win large sums of money. Cribbage was adopted by sailors and spread around the world...
Was It Art or a Kid’s Toy? Ancient Artifacts Have Archeologists Raising Questions About Early Children’s Play. Evidence of what could have been children’s toys and games have often been omitted — or misinterpreted — in records, though that is beginning to change. “The child’s world has been left out of archaeological research,” archaeologist Grete Lillehammer wrote in her 1989 paper, “A Child Is Born: The Child’s World...
Who first thought of Hungry Hungry Hippos? The game Hungry Hungry Hippos was brought to America by a WWII veteran named Fred Kroll, who later worked for the Pressman Toy Corporation and discovered the game in Japan. Kroll licensed the international rights to the game from the Agatsuma company in Tokyo and then later sold the rights to Hasbro.
Pocket Games from Tomy (1975). Before battery-powered, hand-held games became de rigueur, Tomy released a line of non-electronic Pocket Games in the US for ages five and up. Small enough to fit in a shirt pocket, each game employed some variant of a wind-up or spring-loaded mechanism to challenge players.
Humpty Dumpty from Lowell Toy Mfg. (1960). Released in 1960 from Lowell Toy Mfg., the Humpty Dumpty game challenged players to be first to navigate their way through Story Book Land. Two to four players each choose a colored plastic peg as their game marker, placing it on the Start square.
Street Fighter II: The 1991 video game that packs a punch. Stepping into a video game arcade in the early 1990s, one particular title pulsed through the neon haze: Street Fighter II (SFII). This competitive fighting game from Osaka-based company Capcom debuted in 1991, and drew throngs to its vibrant visuals, distinctive moves and jet-setting playable characters: brooding warrior Ryu (Japan)...
84 most valuable toys from childhood that carry both sentimental and monetary worth. Whether it's our parents’ house, children's books we all grew up with, Disney classics, or the best ‘80s movies, we all have things that immediately take us back to when a midday nap was viewed more as a punishment, not a treat like it is today.
Licensing and Entertainment
Kingsmen Xperience entered into a strategic partnership with Good Vibrations, an operator of family experience centers. Under the new deal, Kingsmen Xperience will source intellectual property (IP) and real estate, handle licensor relations and provide production and marketing support for new projects, including efforts with Hasbro and Crayola.
University Games Collars Cat Kid License from MerryMakers. University Games today announced a new licensing deal negotiated by MerryMakers, Inc. for Dav Pilkey’s Cat Kid Comic Club, and an extension of the company’s license for the popular Dog Man property. UG gains the game category license for Cat Kid Comic Club, a spin off character from author Dav Pilkey’s phenomenally popular Dog Man book series.
The Barbie doll celebrates Dr Maggie’s achievements in making space and science fascinating and accessible to girls, and Barbie is donating Dr Maggie’s book, Am I Made of Stardust, to schools across the UK through partner charity Inspiring Girls. The Mattel brand is also expanding its Career range with a Marine Biologist doll this spring, joining STEM career Barbies including Doctor, Vet, Scientist and Astronaut.
Still exhibiting signs of reboot fever, Nickelodeon Studios is reviving 10-year-old superhero series The Thundermans with a new live-action film project in the works. It will join Zoey 102 (working title), new iCarly and Rugrats series and a live-action musical Snow Day movie for Paramount+ in the LA-based studio’s pipeline. Shooting on The Thunderman Returns is scheduled to start this April.
As AI continues to take the industry by the storm, Genius Brands International is lining up a second project driven by the tech in as many months. The prodco is producing 26 one-minute shorts based on animated series Warren Buffet’s Secret Millionaires Club that will launch on its Kartoon Channel! AVOD platform, YouTube and other social media channels on May 15.
Indie children’s publisher Little Tiger and Banijay Media’s Tiger Aspect Kids & Family are joining forces to develop book-based animated and live-action content. Little Tiger books such as Karl Newsome’s I Really, Really Love You So offer great source material for Tiger Aspect, which tends to focus on strong characters, fun and emotional exploration, says Tom Beattie, the British studio’s managing director.
***The above posted after March 3rd***
Spin Master, Netflix Bet on ‘Unicorn Academy’ Kids’ Adventure Series Through 2025. Based on a series of books by author Julie Sykes, the animated series will launch with a 72-minute movie premiere and subsequent episodes, all slated for release this fall, followed by a toy line, digital game and licensed consumer product rollout in 2024. Spin Master Entertainment has content planned through 2025, with more than...
Toronto’s 9 Story Media Group is teaming up with Canadian youth conservation organization Earth Rangers to expand its eco-themed brand with new TV and audio content. Under their development deal, 9 Story and Earth Rangers are creating an animated comedy series and a podcast (six episodes between eight and 10 minutes long) that will both tackle environmental themes in a kid-friendly way.
United Airlines has named Sesame Street’s Oscar the Grouch as its first Chief Trash Officer as he and the airline celebrate his love of rubbish. United Airlines’ new, consumer education campaign is designed to promote the expected benefit of using sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) more broadly. The new campaign – which features Oscar in more than 30 pieces of original video, digital, social and out-of-home content...
Angry Birds has a new publishing agent. IMG has been named as the popular mobile game franchise’s exclusive publishing agent. This deal expands IMG’s global licensing representation agreement with the brand’s parent company, Rovio Ent. This agreement marks the first time Angry Birds’ consumer products and location-based entertainment licensing and publishing rights will be consolidated under one global agency.
Genius Brands International has announced a new AI-generated animated “shorts” series based on the original children’s show, Warren Buffett’s Secret Millionaires Club, launching on Kartoon Channel!, YouTube and Genius Brands’ social media channels on May 15, 2023. The Warren Buffett’s Secret Millionaires Club shorts will be produced by Genius AI Studio, utilizing various AI tools and pulling from stories...
London-based Spring Pictures (Mist) and Irish studio Little Moon Animation (Fia’s Fairies) have inked a deal to co-develop a CG-animated special called Tales From The Wagon. Development on this 26-minute project for family audiences will be funded by Screen Ireland. It’s an adaptation of multiple books penned by popular British-Romani children’s author Richard O’Neill for readers ages five to eight, including titles...
McLaren Automotive celebrates its 60th anniversary this year and is partnering with LEGO to release a two-pack of LEGO race cars to commemorate the occasion. McLaren is a British car manufacturer primarily known for its high-performance supercars. The company’s cars have seen a number of wins within the racing world, which is why LEGO is releasing the new two-pack in its LEGO Speed Champions collection.
Jazwares has joined Brookhaven, Brand Liason, Striker Entertainment, and more in joining BIP, a platform that connects licensors and licensees across the world. “BIP provides a powerful toolkit for all brands utilizing the platform — from the discovery of new and untapped licensing opportunities to creating new revenue streams—we’re there every step of the way to maximize value to these brands...
The LEGO Group is officially kicking off its celebration of The Walt Disney Co.’s 100th anniversary. The Toy Book has your exclusive first look at LEGO’s #SharetheWonder campaign — an initiative that recreates iconic Disney and Pixar movie moments in LEGO brick form. The three-part video series will roll out over the next month on LEGO.com, the LEGO social media channels, and Disney’s official YouTube channel.
Marvel and StoryToys are expanding their partnership with the new Marvel HQ app....with content including games, activities, comics, and books for kids ages 4-7. “When we first launched Marvel HQ, we wanted to create an easy, fun, family-friendly space for parents to be able to explore the world of Marvel with their kids,” says President of Marvel Entertainment, Dan Buckley.
Netflix and the Pokémon Company team up for brand new stop-motion series “Pokémon Concierge”. In celebration of Pokémon Day, Netflix today announced Pokémon Concierge, its first collaborative production with The Pokémon Company and an ambitious stop-motion project produced by critically acclaimed dwarf studios. Expanding the Pokémon world, the story follows Haru, a concierge at the ‘Pokémon Resort,’...
Academy Award-nominated French animation studio Xilam Animation’s new CG animated slapstick comedy series Karate Sheep is making its worldwide premiere on Netflix March 2nd, marking the launch of Netflix’s first animated commission that is supported by the French public funding body CNC. Xilam has developed an extensive digital and social media campaign to build awareness for the Netflix launch.
Disguise announces multi-year costume rights to Black, woman-owned, Afro Unicorn. Disguise, Inc, the costume division of leading toy and consumer products manufacturer JAKKS Pacific, Inc (NASDAQ:JAKK), has announced the costume rights to Afro Unicorn for North America and EMEA.
Yoto has announced the launch of new content inspired by Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Raya and the Last Dragon and Pixar Animation Studios’ Luca, now available as Digital Cards in the Yoto Store. These two beloved tales are the first Disney titles to be released as Yoto Digital Cards...
PAC-MAN x The Woobles Full Collection sells out in minutes. The Woobles, the first learn-to-crochet company to leverage emerging ed-tech tools to successfully teach the art of crocheting to complete beginners, released its second licensed collaboration, PAC-MAN x The Woobles Collection. The news of the limited-edition kit drop was shared only with internal customers that had signed up for new product alerts...
Pokémon reveals more characters for new animated series. The Pokémon Company group unveiled a new character named Friede and his partner Pokémon, Captain Pikachu, who will star in the recently revealed Pokémon animated series debuting around the world beginning in 2023. Friede, a Pokémon Professor, and Captain Pikachu will assist and battle alongside the new series’ dual protagonists...
People of Play
The enCourage Kids Foundation (EKF) announced the hiring of Jean Butler as the new President & CEO. Since 1985, the enCourage Kids Foundation (EKF), has helped humanize healthcare for children and their families by resourcing impact-driven pediatric programs and supporting the child life community. EKF is a significant philanthropic force that has invested more than 50 million dollars to help medically challenged kids...
Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment (WiT) has revealed the appointment of a new Treasurer - Cristina Liquori to its board of directors for a three-year term, which began on Jan. 1. In her role as Treasurer, Liquori will oversee the management of WiT’s financial affairs. In addition to her position at WiT, Liquori is Head of Marketing at LEGO Systems where she leads the U.S. marketing team.
ToyBook's TALKIN’ TOYS: WE SPOKE TO GLOBETRADER’S PATRICK O’DONNELL ABOUT WHOLESALE DISTRIBUTION AND NAVIGATING THE INDUSTRY (sponsored post) - There are plenty of factors to consider when owning a brand, but luckily, there is a wealth of information available on how to navigate issues one might face in the industry.
Will Shortz’s Life in Crosswords. The veteran Times puzzle editor discusses his favorite clues, debates in the crossword community, and unexpectedly finding his first serious romance. When Will Shortz took over as the crossword editor at the Times, in 1993, he set out to make the puzzle younger. He published more contributors in their twenties and thirties, and favored clues with a modern sensibility: Greek prefixes...
***The above posted after March 3rd***
The Play to Win Podcast Series 1: Everybody Wins by James Wallis featuring Leslie Scott and Matt Leacock. This first series of the podcast accompanies the book Everybody Wins: Four Decades of the Greatest Board Games Ever Made by James Wallis, charting the rise of the modern board game over the past 40 yrs. In this accompanying podcast series, James chats with some of the people who were there to see it happen. (Thank you, Leslie, for the callout!)
Burny Mattinson, a Disney Legend who spent an unprecedented 70 years adding to the artistic and storytelling magic of Walt Disney Animation Studios, died today, February 27, at age 87. The studio’s longest-serving employee, Mattinson made his Mouse House debut as an in-betweener on Lady and the Tramp (1955) and most recently served as a story artist on Strange World (2022).
Corrected link for last week's Person of the Week - David and Hazel Pack, Box Blox: Building Up Families, Kids, and Communities. Hi David! What are your roles and responsibilities in our industry? Creating & Delivering Excellence. I am by nature a creator, innovator, and now an Inventor, and problem solver! I’m also part time problem maker, you can ask my wife!
TOKYOPOP'S MARC VISNICK AND KAE WINTERS ON CHANGES IN THE COMPANY, DISNEY MANGA, AND BEST BETS FOR THE DIRECT MARKET. What is your overall view of the manga market right now? Marc Visnick: Over the past few years, we have all witnessed impressive demand for manga in the marketplace. According to Bookscan, book sales (including manga) have pulled back a little in 2023.
Colm Dillane of KidSuper Talks Collaborations With Superplastic and Louis Vuitton. Colm Dillane has collaborated with rap groups like Pro Era, liquor brands like Jägermeister, and footwear labels like Puma. And who could forget the NYC-based designer’s career-defining collaboration with Louis Vuitton at Paris Fashion Week in January? So what’s next for KidSuper? 8-inch tall vinyl toys made in collaboration with Superplastic.
Funko appoints Steve Nave as Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer. Funko announced that Steve Nave was appointed chief financial and chief operating officer effective immediately. Prior to Funko, Nave held several senior positions at Walmart.com and Bluestem Brands, including serving as Walmart.com’s CFO, COO and CEO, followed by serving as CEO of Bluestem Brands.
Former Lion Forge Animation CEO Carl Reed has launched a new studio called Composition Media in St. Louis, Missouri, and he already has a kids show and a family-friendly movie in the works. CG-animated series Catapult Feud, based on a board game from Vesuvius Media in Halifax, revolves around a group of kids who want to stop their warring families from doing battle with catapults. T
Disney Entertainment co-chairperson Dana Walden has reorganized the company’s TV division with expanded duties for senior execs including Branded TV chief Ayo Davis. Under Walden’s new agenda, Davis will now also report on development and programming oversight for Disney Channel and Disney Junior—in addition to streaming—to Disney TV Group president Craig Erwich.
YouTube’s new CEO, Neal Mohan, has spoken. In a lengthy first letter to the YouTube community, released Wednesday morning, Mohan teased upcoming product features across Shorts, YouTube TV and podcasting and emphasized his support for creators finding financial success on the platform. The top executive succeeded longtime executive Susan Wojcicki earlier this month, when the former CEO announced she was...
Jo Twist stepping down as CEO of UK video game trade body Ukie. Dr Jo Twist OBE is stepping down as CEO of the United Kingdom's video game trade body, Ukie, after over a decade. Twist will depart Ukie in the summer to become CEO of music trade body, the BPI. Sam Collins and Dan Wood, long-serving members of Ukie's senior management team, will jointly manage the organization while the search for a...
Toonz Entertainment, the dist. wing of global kids and family entertainment major Toonz Media Group has announced the appts of Bernhard Stephan as Director, Commercial Distribution and Maria Romanelli as Sr Sales Manager for Italy. These newly created roles in the sales arm are part of Toonz Entertainment restructuring with the aim to become a leading distribution partner across different geographies.
POP QUIZ WITH WENDY SMOLEN: THE BIG TOY BOOK 2023.
Companies and Brands
NBC REVS UP A DEAL FOR MATTEL’S ‘HOT WHEELS: ULTIMATE CHALLENGE’. The series, which held an open casting call last fall, will follow the journey of Hot Wheels fans as they turn a nostalgic car from their past into a real-life Hot Wheels ride. Following in the tradition of the Hot Wheels Legends Tour, the winner will be immortalized in toy departments as a 1:64-scale die-cast Hot Wheels car.
Russian game developer bans and doxes 6,700 cheaters. Cheaters are an annoying part of almost every online video game. And banning them has become an important routine for game developers and publishers to keep their users happy. The publisher of Escape from Tarkov, a game developed by the Russian company Battlestate Games, has added an unusual twist to the routine: naming and shaming the cheaters.
***the aboved after March 3rd***
American Girl says the ’90s are ancient history. American girls agree. Millennial parents were not prepared to answer questions about the dolls’ Y2K accessories, like, ‘There was internet then?’ If you, a millennial woman who loved American Girl dolls in your youth, were a bit apoplectic to discover that the brand is now selling a “historical” doll whose story is set in 1999 — because how could the ’90s be ancient history...
Hasbro has a new gameplan for 2023, and preschoolers are a core part of it. The toyco is aging down its portfolio of cross-generational brands, with a focus on introducing NERF, Monopoly, Clue and Twister to the youngest demos this year, says Kim Boyd, Hasbro’s head of global brands and consumer innovation. “By reimagining some of our favorite products for this demographic, we’re not only able to build brand...
Hasbro Launches Clue Immersive Instagram Murder Mystery Game Series. The experience, which kicked off at an exclusive event in NY Tuesday night hosted by 'Crime Junkie's' Ashley Flowers, will serve as the first global online iteration of the classic murder mystery game. The 4-week-long Instagram event launched at a two-hour memorial experience for the game’s famous victim and villain, Boddy Black.
Bank-A-Ball, the world’s most advanced portable indoor basketball structure for creating clever trick shots, debuts at retail nationwide this month... announced by ABetter Design Company. Bank-A-Ball is the new adjustable angle basketball backboard and rim that hooks atop a standard-sized door to turn any room into an indoor trick shot playground. David Beker, inventor of Bank-A-Ball, said, “We’re revolutionizing...
CABBAGE PATCH KIDS CELEBRATES 40 YEARS. The iconic dolls have marked so many firsts for the toy industry over the past 40 years, including blasting into outer space in 1985, repping the U.S. as the first official mascot of the Olympic team in 1992, and going postal with an appearance on stamps in 2000.
With more than 100 years since the golden age of rail travel, Hornby, a UK toy and collectible company, is releasing a line of model trains designed after the Flying Scotsman, which first left the station on Feb. 24, 1923. The line features a Flying Scotsman train set complete with rails, three coaches, a remote control, and more, but it also features six limited-edition models from different eras of the Flying Scotsman.
The Pokémon Co. is updating fans on projects including Pokémon Go, Pokémon Sleep, Pokémon Concierge, and the new Pokémon Trading Card Game Classic. “Pokémon Day is the most exciting day of the year for Trainers, and we’re honored to ‘Celebrate Pokémon Together’ with them by revealing what’s next for the ever-evolving franchise,” says Kenji Okubo, President of The Pokémon Co. International.
Manchester-based tabletop game developer and publisher Steamforged Games recently acquired the intellectual property (IP) of the fantasy card game Kinghill. The 2 player role-playing game was conceived by Petr Marek of Violet Dragon, a tabletop game studio based in the Czech Republic.
Moonbug Entertainment, a subsidiary of Candle Media and the company behind children’s shows such as CoComelon and Blippi, worked with the brand agency DixonBaxi to create a fresh new look. “As consumer interaction with the Moonbug brand grows, this is the ideal time for a refresh,” says René Rechtman, CEO and founder of Moonbug.
Crayola Experience named in top 10 kids’ museum list. This year’s USA TODAY 10 Best Readers’ Choice Awards named the Crayola Experience one of the top 10 kids’ museums in the U.S. The Crayola Experience features immersive, artistic experiences where kids can create their own coloring page, name and wrap crayons, learn about how crayons are made, and more.
Sambro outlines 2023 sustainability goals. Global toy supplier Sambro International has set a list of 16 sustainable development targets, under its current ESG strategy, with each target aiming to progress more sustainable operations across the business. These include the development and launch of a plush range made of 100% recycled materials, setting targets for climate change metrics in order to strengthen climate...
Hasbro’s new approach to plastic-free packaging. Back in 2019, Hasbro unveiled its plan to eliminate plastic from its toy packaging, with the goal of being completely plastic-free for most products by the end of last year. As Hasbro continues on this path of sustainability, I’ve taken note of some truly innovative ways in which it has modified its approach to package structures that leverage blisters and acetate windows.
New Cry Babies Little Changers hits shelves. IMC Toys is launching Cry Babies Little Changers, an eco-friendly toy made with plant-based materials, to help make the world a better place. IMC Toys’ newest collection taps into major trends in the toy industry, including sustainability, collectibility, and micro-size.
Planned LEGO Group solar park expected to cover company’s energy usage in Billund, Denmark. The LEGO Group is expanding its solar initiatives. The company previously installed a roof-mounted solar farm at its headquarters in Billund, Denmark, in 2019. Now, it’s furthering the environmental messaging with plans to build an even larger solar park.
Flair GP and Generation Entertainment to distribute Trotties in UK. The Trotties TV series follows the globe-trotting adventures of four main characters. Each vibrant and fun episode will bring to life the sights and sounds, not to mention the cultures of the many countries the Trotties visit. This partnership will see the Pop network play a fundamental role to support Flair GP in building the Trotties franchise...
Snowbright leaps into 'Harvest Hoppers'. Snowbright Studios is launching Harvest Hoppers, a game about bike-riding frogs delivering produce that will release next February. In Harvest Hoppers, players become bicycle couriers tasked with delivering fresh produce from local farm co-ops to the markets and stores of Greenbranch, set in the same fictional world as Snowbright's Teatime Adventures tabletop roleplaying game.
New 'WIXOSS TCG' booster set announced. Tomy Company, Ltd. announced Spread Diva, a the new English Edition WIXOSS TCG booster pack set, for release into retail on May 5, 2023. This booster set features WIXOSS LRIGs Ann, Iona, and Eldora as they all make their debut in the game. Also, Yukayuka from team Kyurukyurun appears as a new Center LRIG with 3 Assists.
Follow 'In the Footsteps of Darwin'. Hachette Boardgames USA will release In the Footsteps of Darwin, a rondel tile placement board game by Sorry We Are French, into retail in June 2023. In this game, players are off exploring the world while Charles Darwin is writing On the Origins of Species. Their task is to gather new information about animal life from continents he has barely explored.
'M.O.D.O.K.' runs wild in 'Marvel Crisis Protocol'. Atomic Mass Games will release Marvel Crisis Protocol: M.O.D.O.K. Scientist Supreme, a new character pack, into retail on April 14, 2023. The new M.O.D.O.K. pack features a sinister and wild version of the character. This version will offer players new ways of engaging and disrupting their opponents' strategies with new Team Tactic cards and Stat card abilities.
Announcing MandoMania – Star Wars consumer products celebration. Disney and LucasFilm announced Mando Mania, an 8-week celebration of exciting products inspired by Star Wars original series including The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett and more, just in time to celebrate season 3 of The Mandalorian, streaming only on Disney+ starting March 1.
Last dedicated Meccano factory to close. The last dedicated Meccano factory in the world is being closed. Located in Calais, France, Spin Master says the facility will close at the beginning of 2024, with the loss of 51 roles. The company blamed increases in the cost of raw materials and “a lack of competitiveness” for the closure. Spin Master has owned the Meccano brand since 2013.
Asmodee will bring 'Dead By Daylight: The Board Game' into U.S. retail. Asmodee will bring Dead by Daylight: The Board Game, a new survival game by Level 99 Games, into U.S. retail on April 7, 2023. This game is based on the online Dead by Daylight game by Behaviour Interactive. In the game, players must help a team of Survivors work together to find and repair a generator that opens exit gates.
Pair of John Bohrer rail games coming from Rio Grande. Rio Grande Games has announced plans to release a pair of John Bohrer’s (Chicago Express, Ride the Rails) railway games soon: Balkan Railways and Wabash Cannonball. Originally released by Winsome Games in 2021, Balkan Railroads challenges players to build and operate railroads in the often-contentious regions of Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Kosovo...
Kicking off with Read Across America Day, Readyland is celebrating the joy of reading all month long with the launch of their newest book, A Trip to the Park with Rosie & Ricky. Readyland is a library of printed books that work with an Alexa device or the free Alexa smartphone app to create an immersive, interactive reading experience. Kids can actually talk with the characters, respond to questions, play games,...
Gamewright will release 'Forbidden Jungle'. Gamewright will release Forbidden Jungle, a new cooperative game, into retail in 2023. In this new game from Matt Leacock (see "Matt Leacock"), players have crashed-landed on a mysterious jungle planet and they need band together to survive to find a portal that will take them home. They will need to search an abandoned outpost to find the portal.
Brotherwise Games will release 'Castles by the Sea'. Brotherwise Games will release Castles by the Sea, a new puzzle board game, into retail on August 16, 2023. Castles by the Sea is a spatial puzzle game where players must lead their kingdom of Shorelings to victory by building castles of sand and stone.
Enter the 'Nest of the Dinosaur'. New 'Epic Encounters' Set. Steamforged Games will release Epic Encounters: Nest of the Dinosaur, a new miniatures encounter set, into retail on May 22, 2023. This 5E-compatible boss fight box pits adventures against an epic dinosaur monster with not one, but two heads! The two-headed dinosaur miniature is sizeable, sitting on a 100 mm base, and comes unpainted.
Go full throttle with 'Pokemon TCG: Cyclizar Ex Box'. The Pokemon Company International will release Pokemon TCG: Cyclizar ex Box, a new ex Pokemon box set, into retail on May 5, 2023. Cyclizar ex is a helpful Mount Pokemon that has a crafty Power Run attack. The attack can do damage and then allow a player to search their deck for a Basic Energy to attach to Cyclizar ex.
Gaming: Digital, Video, Hardware, and Development
Epic Games’ Fortnite and Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) have announced the studio’s Creed franchise is making its’ Fortnite debut with a limited time integration starting March 1st. Championship boxer Adonis Creed is about to punch above his weight in one of the most popular online games ever created. The integration features a brand-new Outfit, in-game accessories, and a tournament in Fortnite inspired by the...
Meta has sold almost 20 million Quest headsets. Meta has sold almost 20 million Quest headsets to date, according to company VP for VR, Mark Rabkin. As reported by The Verge, Rabkin shared the milestone during a roadmap presentation focused on the company's VR and AR efforts. During the presentation, workers at the company formerly known as Facebook were told that Meta's upcoming Quest 3 headset …
Sons of the Forest sells 2 million Early Access copies in 24 hours. Endnight Games' Sons of the Forest was only in Early Access for a full day and managed to sell 2 million copies. The developer announced the milestone on Twitter, saying it was "very excited for what we have in store for players in the coming weeks." Sons of the Forest is the sequel to 2018's survival horror game The Forest.
I love 'The Worst' video game ranking list of all time. The 'expert jury' from The Times is getting absolutely roasted, but I 100% endorse their list. Earlier today, The Times published what it hoped would be an esteemed list, an evergreen piece setting in stone what the paper considered the “20 best video games of all time”.
Highlighted Press Releases
DON’T PANIC! GATHER AT THE CASTLE TO STOP THE DARK TITAN LURKING WITH DARK SORCERESS & BOOM TROLL. The Dark Titan Second Edition Castle Panic Expansion Now on Sale with Fresh Art, Heavier Card Stock Plus Rules Updates! Engines of War Second Edition Coming 3/22
Austin, TX (March 6, 2023) – Friends don’t let friends fight monsters alone, especially when Agranok, aka The Dark Titan, brings his army to your tabletop board game. The Dark Titan ($19.95) is now in its Second Edition, a great expansion to the award-winning Castle Panic base game. With new artwork, heavier card stock and a few rules updates, players can get reinforcements before the monsters lay siege to their castle!
***the above was posted after March 3rd***
Press Release: 2023 Cardboard Edison Award Finalists Announced! February 28, 2023—Cardboard Edison has announced the finalists for this year’s Cardboard Edison Award for unpublished board game designs. The 2023 competition received 249 entries from designers all over the world. From them, 17 finalists were chosen as follows...
Safety and Counterfeiting
Associations, Shows, Awards, Events, and Festivals
This summer, Toys “R” Us, partnered with marketing agency Known, will be offering an immersive experience kicking off at the Macy’s flagship store in Herald Square, NYC. Geoffrey’s Tour Across America will feature weekend events with entertainment, food, VIP experiences, giveaways, and more. The series of events across various American cities follows the relaunch of Toys “R” Us within Macy’s stores.
The United Nations is about to host its first ever video games event, with the Games for Change Festival bringing its 20th anniversary celebration to its NYC headquarters. The event comes as part of the annual Games for Change Festival, an annual event hosted by nonprofit Games for Change that highlights games, technology, and immersive experiences with the intention of driving real-world change, innovation...
Following London Toy Fair, Rachael Simpson-Jones rounds up what was widely hailed as a magnificent three days at Olympia – with a little help from her friends. If you were at London Toy Fair in Jan., you were in good company, with the toy trade once again gathering en masse to check out the latest toys, games and kids’ products that will be keeping the nation’s children (and adults) entertained in the months ahead.
All set for INDX Toy & Gift Show – one week to go. Over 90% of exhibitors are running exclusive show-only deals to all visitors, and there are lot of new brands on the exhibitor list including Hippychick and Orange Tree Toys. Though there has been a change in date – this year’s show will be held slightly earlier, from March 14th-15th, rather than its usual April slot – Rosie Marshall, head of Children’s Toy and Gift at Playroom...
***The above posted after March 3rd***
AFTER SUCCESS IN CANADA, WORLD OF BARBIE LAUNCHING IN THE U.S. World of Barbie is an attraction put on by Mattel, Kilburn Live, and IMG. Now, the event will be debuting in the U.S. in Santa Monica, CA on April 14. World of Barbie has a number of Barbie-centered attractions that were available in Toronto and will continue to be featured within the U.S. location, including a life-sized Barbie Dreamhouse, the Barbie...
Spielwarenmesse eG, the organiser of the international Spielwarenmesse trade fair, has announced the dates for the 2024 show – as well as a new format that it says will work better for those in attendance. Instead of Wednesday to Sunday as before, the fair will in future be held from Tuesday to Saturday, i.e. from January 30th to February 3rd, 2024.
Licensing Expo has announced the opening of submissions for two new programmes: License This! and Ignite Brand Pitches. Both programmes aim to highlight new branding concepts from never-before licensed and emerging IPs. The competitions will be given a platform on the live stage at Licensing Expo, taking place from June 13th-15th at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas...
Chief executive John Lee has announced that Hong Kong will lift its mask mandate from Wednesday 1st March, finally ending the Covid-19 restrictions imposed nearly three years ago. “We think this is the best timing to make this decision. It is a clear message to show Hong Kong is resuming normalcy,” he said. The global toy industry has slowly resumed travel to international destinations, but Hong Kong has...
The Toy Trust is delighted to announce this International Wheelchair Day that it will be partnering with inspiring children’s mobility charity, Whizz-Kidz, for the Toy Trust’s May Mayhem event this year. Whizz-Kidz bring mobility to children around the UK and is the UK’s leading charity for young wheelchair users, empowering young people by providing the wheelchairs, equipment, support and confidence...
6th Toys Milano & Bay-B already sold out. Trade professionals from all over Italy and abroad can register for their place at the April Toys Milano & Bay-B trade event on Toysmilano.com. Toys MilanoOn Sunday 16th April and Monday 17th April 2023, professionals from the world of toys and kids’ products, as well as the stationery, carnival, festive and party markets, will gather at fieramilanocity’s Allianz MiCo for the 6th edition...
GEARING UP FOR A REIMAGINED NY TOY FAIR. As the toy community sets its sights on Toy Fair 2023, taking place Sept. 30-Oct. 3 in New York City, The Toy Association is committed to producing a reimagined show that will deliver the best possible experience for
GIVING BACK: HOW THE TOY FOUNDATION FLIPPED THE SCRIPT ON ITS EFFORTS. Joy is at the center of everything the toy industry does, or at least it should be, according to the board of The Toy Foundation. As an industry, we care about toys because a child’s happiness is immeasurable. Yet, it’s hard for a kid to feel joy if their basic needs like food and shelter aren’t met.
Following up its strong performance from last year, Netflix took home a total of 12 trophies at the 50th annual Annie Awards ceremony last night, with its original stop-motion film Pinocchio (pictured) doing some heavy lifting. The Oscar-nominated feature from famed director Guillermo Del Toro took home Best Feature, beating out fellow Netflix productions The Sea Beast and Wendell & Wild, as well as DreamWorks...
Legendary video game industry figures Mabel Addis and John Romero are to be honoured at this year’s Game Developers Choice Awards. Addis is recognised as the first female game designer and, having passed away in 2004, will posthumously receive the Pioneer Award which honours breakthrough in business, tech, and game design milestones. Back in 1964, Addis lead design on The Sumerian Game...
Entries invited for The Outdoor Toy Awards. The Outdoor Toy Awards once again invites kid testers to put the very best outdoor toys through their paces. Toyology and the Kidzcoolit network will be overseeing the media and social coverage of the awards, which will see a total of 10 toys crowned must-haves for get-out, get-up and get-active play.
Toy Fair 2023: A new PR opportunity. With more than 20 clients on the show floor and an award-winning installation in The Javits Center lobby, I’ll never forget Toy Fair 2020. For many, it was our last taste of a previously unquestioned way of large-scale, public life. The toy industry has shifted and the world of commerce has transformed around us since that last Toy Fair.
Hong Kong homecoming: The HKTDC Toys & Games Fair is back in action. Some things about the Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair remain unchanged after a two-year hiatus. For one, if you track steps, your counter is likely to go off the charts because there’s so much to cover and so much to see. It was great to be back and experience “trade show tired” again.
RIP - Rest in Play - Remembering Those that have Passed
Robert Dale Zera - Age 71, of Minnetonka died Sunday, February 19, 2023 at home surrounded by his family. Rob was preceded in death by his parents Casimir and Jean. He is survived by Peggy, his wife of 44 years, sons Dan (Niki) and R.J. (Robert Joseph), sister Lynda (Jim) James, brother Rick (Diana) Zera, sisters Lori Zera and Lisa Zera-Polley, uncles Ray Weaver, Joe Saur, and Al Meyerl, brother-in-law Dan (Kathleen) Shea, many cousins, and close friends. He was an affectionate uncle to numerous nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews. Rob was born in Washington, DC, lived in Bethesda, Maryland, Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, Concord, Massachusetts, Potomac, Maryland, and Brooklyn, New York, before moving to Minnesota and living in Edina, Minneapolis, and Minnetonka for the past 48 years. His creative journey began as an art student at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, in the early 1960s. He was the art editor for the Winston Churchill High School Yearbook and went on to graduate cum laude from Pratt Institute in New York with a degree in industrial design. Rob utilized this degree as a product designer in the toy industry with various companies, including Team Windsor (Girsch Design Associates), Custom Concepts, Schaper Manufacturing, Tonka Toys, and his own company, Zera Industrial Design. Rob was a loving husband and father as well as a talented chef, landscape and visual artist, and home renovator. He freely shared his wit and his passion for music by including family and friends in concertgoing experiences. For Rob family always came first. We are so fortunate to have had him in our lives.
Antony Nunn - From the fourth generation of his family to be involved in the toy industry, Antony Michael Redgate Nunn sadly passed away earlier this month.
Toy World is sad to report that Antony passed away unexpectedly on the 5th February, aged 69. He was the fourth generation of his family to be involved in the toy trade, as previous generations ran the well-known Redgates store, established in 1857, in Sheffield. In the 1960s, Redgates became known in the trade as one of the best toy shops outside of London, often referred to as the “Hamleys of the North.”
Antony’s journey into the toy trade began in 1971 when, at the age of 18, he moved to London to work for import business, Cowan de Groot. Two years later, armed with plenty of new-found experiences, Antony he returned to his roots in the North and joined the Redgates family retail business, overseeing Redgates’ wholesale division, Wilson Gumpert. Redgates and Wilson Gumpert were instrumental in the founding of buying group Toymaster; Michael Nunn, Antony’s father was chairman of White Rose Toys, a buying group which was a cornerstone to Toymaster as we know it today.
Antony met his wife Silke in 1977, the daughter of Franz and Marianne Goetz, founders of prestigious doll manufacturer, Goetz Dolls, based in Germany. After Redgates and Wilson Gumpert closed in 1988, Antony co-founded AM international with Mark Eckersley to distribute dolls, children’s toys, nursery goods and even garden gnomes.
In 1998, after ten years of successful trading, Antony decided to forge his own path and Antony Nunn Agencies was established. His son Patrick joined in 2009, and now the business will proudly continue under Patrick’s leadership as the fifth generation of the family to work within the toy trade.
Antony will be remembered in the industry for his good humour, fair and honest business practices, and his lifelong dedication to a trade that he was proud to be part of.
Outside work, Antony was an active sportsman, running marathons and half marathons as well as being a proficient golfer and an avid squash player, in the later years reverting to racketball. He would also never miss an opportunity to support his beloved Blades from the stands.
As a very generous, considerate and kind man, Antony supported several charities he was passionate about, joining Osteoporosis2000 as a director in 2000. More recently he was asked to become a patron of a local hospice: Ashgate Hospice, Chesterfield. This privilege filled him with immense pride and he dedicated a significant amount of his later life to raising money and bringing further awareness to the essential work and care the hospice provides.
Antony will be sorely missed by all those who knew him. He leaves behind his wife Silke, daughter Charlie, son Patrick and his grandson Walter.
John Sepenuk - Co-Founder and CEO of Cryptozoic Entertainment. The following is a tribute from Nico Blau, President & CEO at BOTI Ltd & BOTI Europe BV:
Earlier this week I was informed my dear friend and former colleague John Sepenuk passed away. I was blown away, couldn't believe it and felt a deep dark colored emptiness.
John died while he was exercising one of his favorite passions, kite surfing. He was only 54 yrs young and is now survived by his wife Tania and their beautiful young son Brandon.
It is hard to imagine only 2 weeks ago we had a couple of beers and shared some memories and jokes at my booth in Nurnberg.
John and I met in June 1999 in Carlsbad, California where we were both working for Upper Deck. John was running Asia and I was in charge of Europe. John was charismatic, smart, funny, good looking and he spoke fluent Japanese and Mandarin. When John walked into a bar, not only his good looks would catch the attention of the ladies, but his dark brown voice would make them melt: "Hi, I am Jaaawn, how'you doin'...?"
He lived in Japan for a couple of years and even made it to become a sushi chef. 'Seppi' as many called him was flamboyant and entertaining. He loved life and loved to walk the line. One of his claims to fame: ‘At Upper Deck I was fired 2 times, but hired ... 3 times!’
It was not very difficult to get fired at Upper Deck. Richard McWilliam kept 100's of bullets in his office. Each one holding a name of one of the employees. John had at least 5 bullets with his name on it. If you caught McWilliam at a bad moment..bang!..you were "gunned down". Richard never re-hired people he fired, so for John to be fired twice and hired 3 times was a major achievement (according to John). The truth was John had unique skills and in the relationship with the Japanese Seppi was crucial.
McWilliam would always brag that he and only he made Konami grant Upper Deck Company the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG distribution rights. The reality? It was John who made it happen. Like many others, also Konami didn't like Richard (at all) but the alternative options weren't much better and Upper Deck had John. Seppi did the trick and no-one else. He never got the credits for it. In Nov 2008, John decided himself to leave Upper Deck for good. The paradox: Richard McWilliam had only 1 bullet left, this one carrying his own name.
The truth was you couldn't stay angry with John, even though he would cross the line from time to time. He loved life too much, he lived it to the max and people loved John for that.
Seppi died at age 54, but he didn't leave a stone unturned, so I would argue he lived his life twice. I am sure he had much for more fun than those preaching a healthy, monotone & religious life stile in the hope they turn 100+ years. I am not sure what is better. John wouldn't want to miss anything, and he didn't.
And now God is having his hands full dealing with John in heaven.
John Sepenuk RIP
#cryptozoic #johnsepenuk #upperdeck #licensing #toys #konami #yugioh
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- 'Pokemon' Gets 'Classic' Treatment
- Rolling for Initiative -- The Machines March On
- Kenobi, Dooku Face Off in 'Star Wars: Shatterpoint'
- Rio Grande Games Reveals 'Druids of the Elements'
- Avalon Hill Will Release 'HeroQuest: The Mage of the Mirror Quest Pack' into Retail
- Lure in 'Dungeons & Dragons' Treasure Seekers with 'Mimic Chest Life-Sized Figure'
- Fight Back Lizard Folk Raiders in New 'Epic Encounters'
Nación Juguetes (Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Chile & Spain)
The Bugg Report (Australia)
News Flash: Castles by the Sea Pre-Order, Disney Villains The Card Game
Brotherwise Games has a new game available for pre-order, Ravensburger has released a light card game, and Rio Grande has a new deduction game coming this month.
Video of the Week
The Wonderfully Weird World of PEZ EXPLAINED!
Tim Walsh's Where's the Fun from?
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Founding Editor and Publisher (1998-2020, Retired): Philip Bloom
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