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February 25 - March 4, 2022

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Welcome to Your Weekly News Brief!

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Happy Bloomin’ Friday!

POP now brings you news, information, classifieds, interviews, events and everything, around the clock and around the world!! We now have two information feeds on POP: The Homepage Social Feed covers everything of interest to our industry, media and consumers. The POP News Feed zooms in on industry news like you see here on the Bloom Report. 

 

LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook have become clogged with ads and junk posts about topics that aren't important to you. POP is the solution! You can now easily find out what is hot an happening in the play industry, all in one place! Be a part of what’s popping and post, post, post to POP!

 

Thank you for reading the Bloom Report.

Mary

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Columnist - Nancy Zwiers

Driving Play Value

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I define play value as the amount of time a child spends playing with a toy relative to its price. Delivering play value is our industry’s reason-for-being, but we don’t have standardized ways of measuring our success—or failure. 

 

Recently, my company, Funosophy, partnered with the Michael Cohen Group, a prominent New York-based research firm to field a study to measure our industry’s progress in launching toys that inspire extended play.

 

Compared to our first study in 2011, this new study shows we have made significant progress in the last decade.  That said, there is room for improvement.  While the percent of unused toys declined from 42% to 32%, it’s frankly concerning that 32% of toys being unused does not lead to parents’ perceptions of toys as a strong value.

What can we do to enhance the play value of the toys we make?

Enhance manipulative play value (i.e., fiddle factor)

  • The more opportunities a kid has to actively interact with the toy, the longer the child will play with the toy. Its not surprising that some of the biggest toy trends involve fidget toys.  But any toy can deliver fiddle factor—a feature that let’s hands or fingers be the cause of a payoff of some sort.  READ More . . . 

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Person of the Week - Jared Wade

Talks about Toy Industry People, Innovation, Hasbro Spark, Hong Kong, Star Wars and Transformers

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What are your roles and responsibilities in our industry?

 

I lead the Hasbro SPARK team as SVP of Design Innovation and Inventor Relations. The Hasbro SPARK team is a central team that supports “Innovation Acceleration” across our consumer products organization and includes Inventor Relations, Advanced R&D and our Funlab, which leads observational design research. When I’m doing my job correctly that means I’m connecting the dots, and most importantly connecting people, to help bring more new play experiences to life.

What was your favorite project to date?

 

My favorite projects reflect two of my favorite aspects of toy design.

 

I was lucky enough as a young designer to inherit the Star Wars Unleashed product line after the initial launch. That line was a reimagining of the Star Wars characters as statuesque figures in dynamic poses. It really allowed me to approach each figure as a work of art, working closely with some of the best Sculptors and Engineers in the industry to achieve a vision. With each wave of figures, we pushed the designs further in an attempt to make the most compelling 360° compositions and pay off the iconic characters and moments of the Star Wars galaxy. READ More ... 

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Person of the Week - Cassidy Smith

Talks about Uniche Collective, Brian Turtle, Mentors, LipSync Battle, Ice Cream, and More!

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What is your claim to fame in the industry?

Knowing Brian Turtle before he was inducted into WTHRA Hall of Fame.. I hope he still takes my calls or will I go straight to voicemail? I'm scared to try. ;)

Some would say it would be being one of those "Canadians" in the industry... yes we all know eachother and yes we have to be nice or we get kicked out of the country or given a Canadian goose as a pet.. you don't want that!

Others may say I'm that guy who created Lip Sync Battle at ASTRA.  It truly was to have fun because thats what the Toy Industry should be right?

Most know me through my work for Hape for the past 18 years as their VP of Sales and Marketing has given me time to truly know how amazing this industry is and its like family! Many don't know my background has always been specialty even before toys... from working retail in a specialty store to being the Marketing Manager for specialty focused business. When a new opportunity presented its self I wanted to make sure it was dedicated to specialty as so many are doing the opposite and just feeding the Amazon Monster. So we have created a specialty focused Toy distribution company called Uniche Collective (Unique + Niche = Uniche). READ MORE . . . 

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Industry Commentary: Mark Chernick

History, Evolution and Development of Compounds in China

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The Genesis of Compounds

 

As a principal developer of unusual compounds for many years during my time with Play Visions, I was fortunate enough to become involved in this unique category going back to 1987.

 

In the early to mid 80’s, Taiwan was the principal producer of toy products worldwide, with toy manufacturing from Korea and Japan to Taiwan, always following the lowest cost of labor along with other necessary elements, infrastructure, transportation and logistics and other factors.

 

It was during this time period that the first compounds were originally designed and introduced to the toy world in the form of the first slimes.

 

One major exception to this was Play Doh, that came out in the 1950’s.  

 

I first started going to trade shows in Taiwan in the mid 80’s and that was where I first encountered this newly developed category.

READ MORE . . . 

Financial and Legal

 

Rightsline, the leading rights and finance management platform for the media and entertainment industry, announced that it has acquired REAL Software Systems. This move will extend its core IP rights management services to fully support end-to-end financial and royalties workflows, while simultaneously expanding its market from media and entertainment into gaming, publishing, consumer products...

 

Pembroke VCT, the venture capital trust focused on backing early-stage businesses with exceptional founders and management teams, has invested £500k into Annie Mals, a children’s education brand launching its maiden offering, a series of books devised to give children confidence to engage with contemporary issues, such as mental health, diversity and introversion. Annie Mals was founded by award-winning...

 

MAPP Trap, a price monitoring tech company using a proprietary search engine, is applying its experience and relevant learnings, while transforming the tech- and legal-focused podcast landscape, with its newly released podcast series, Legal Briefs. Created for e-commerce decision-makers who want to explore specific strategies to protect their brands, pricing, distribution and intellectual property, Legal Briefs...

 

Embracer Group completes acquisition of Asmodee in 2.75b Euro deal.  It has been confirmed that Asmodee will continue to operate as before the transaction and no reorganisation is anticipated. In Dec 2021, Embracer Group AB entered into exclusive negotiations to acquire Asmodee from funds managed by PAI Partners and other shareholders of Asmodee. On 17th Jan 2022, Embracer, PAI and the other shareholders ...

 

Labor Report: Taking The Pulse Of Unionization In Animation.  Kidscreen delves into union drives at animation studios in Canada and the US, and the effects they may have across the industry. When Emily Gossmann was hunting for her first job after graduating in 2013, professors gave her a piece of advice: “Look for the old guys.”

 

***the above posted after March 4th***

 

Rebel Girls Raises $13M To Expand Its Brand.  The new funding will underpin an expansion of the company into digital content, consumer products and events as it seeks to engage 50 million girls and young women by 2025. Known for its Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, which each feature 100 stories of extraordinary real-life women, the company’s mandate is to generate more confidence in young girls with inspiring content. 

 

Sterling Publishing Acquires Boxer Books.  The acquisition will help Sterling bolster its preschool offerings and move Boxer's titles for three- to seven-year-olds into more international markets. More than 200 book titles are being added to New York-based Sterling Publishing’s catalogue with its acquisition of Boxer Books.

Poundland is set to roll-out an online business following the acquisition of Poundshop.com for an undisclosed sum.  The deal for the online discount retailer includes Poundshop.com’s intellectual property, its online platform, the picking and fulfilment operations in Wednesbury and its customer database.  Retail Gazette reports that the acquisition is another step in the transformation of the discount giant and ...

 

Amazon to close all 68 physical stores. Amazon has announced it plans to close all 68 of its physical stores across the US and UK. It currently has a number of bricks-and-mortar ventures: bookstores, ‘4-star’ retail stores, and various ‘pop-op’ shops, but has largely failed to penetrate the physical retail space since launching its first bookstore in 2015. Amazon’s “physical stores” revenue made up just 3 per cent...

 

UK retail prices still rising. According to the BRC-NielsonIQ Shop Price Index, shop price annual inflation accelerated to 1.8% in February, up from 1.5% in January. This is above the 12- and 6-month average price decrease of 0.3% and increase of  0.5%, respectively. This marks the highest rate of inflation since November 2011. Non-Food inflation accelerated to 1.3% in February, up from 0.9% in January. 

 

Advocacy groups ask FTC to "scrutinize" Microsoft's purchase of Activision Blizzard. A number of advocacy groups have called on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate Microsoft's proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard for potential anticompetitive effects. In an open letter shared online, 15 organizations including labor union Communication Workers of America (CWA) and consumer rights advocacy group...

 

Netflix buys Finnish studio Next Games for $72 million. Netflix has agreed to acquire Finnish studio Next Games for €65 million ($72 million). Founded in 2014 and based in Helsinki, Next Games is the developer-publisher behind Stranger Things: Puzzle Tales, The Walking Dead: Our World, and The Walking Dead: No Man's Land. 

 

Ampere Analysis: Console market grew to record $60bn in 2021. A study by Ampere Analysis has estimated that spending on console games, hardware and services reached $60 billion last year, which the firm describes as "a record high." In the company's report, head of games research Piers Harding-Rolls wrote that this growth was "held back" by the lack of availability for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S, although their...

 

DDM: Gaming investments reached $38.5 billion during 2021. In a new report, Digital Development Management(DDM) said that video game investments during 2021 reached $38.5 billion. The figure represents an increase of 192% year-over-year. The agency's report went on to note that last year was the biggest to date for investment and M&A activity. The 765 deals the group tracked during 2021 was up 61% yr-over-yr...

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Financial Reporting

 

Funko Earnings ‘Pop’ as Sales Spike 58% in 2021

 

Lego annual revenue increases 27%

 

Toys for Tots, the U.S. Marine Corps’ premiere community action program, distributed an unprecedented 22.4 million toys, books, and games to nearly 8.8 million children in need in 2021.

 

'THE BATMAN' TOPS FRIDAY BOX OFFICE WITH $57 MILLION; 'I AM LEGEND' SEQUEL ADDS STARS; 'ALIEN' MOVIE GETS A DIRECTOR; 'MORBIUS' AND 'FANTASTIC BEASTS' TRAILERS RELEASED; 'TWISTED METAL' SERIES ORDERED

***the above posted after March 4th***

SPIN MASTER REPORTS RECORD EARNINGS FOR 2021

AMC Entertainment Posts Strongest Quarter In Two Years, CEO Bullish 2022 Box Office “Could Be Nearly Double 2021”

Bruder reports record 2021 sales and looks to the future

 

Party City reports fourth quarter and full year 2021 results

Kohl’s reports fourth quarter and full year fiscal 2021 financial results

 

Future Financial Reporting

Target, Kohl’s forecast sales increases this year. Target and Kohl’s are forecasting low- to mid-single-digit percent increases in sales for 2022. Much of this optimism is tied to a post-pandemic U.S. market and both chains are plotting store expansions and adding new brands to their product mix to offset rising costs and ongoing supply chain issues. 

 

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

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

Trends, Market Research, and State of the Industry

 

2021 IN COMICS: A RECORD YEAR FOR RETAIL And a Strong Start to 2022

 

Pay-TV Providers Shed 4.7M Subscribers In 2021, Down Slightly From 2020 Cord-Cutting Levels – Report

TCGPLAYER (Trading Card Games) TOP 25 SEALED TCG PRODUCTS (WITH PRICE SHIFTS) - FEBRUARY 2022

HOBBY GAMES CHANNEL UP 30% IN 2021

 

Capstone Partners Reports: Juvenile Products & Toys M&A Poised for Continued Strength in 2022

Top 50 Comics - February 2022

Top 5 Roleplaying Games - Fall 2021

 

Top 10 Hobby Channel Card/Dice Games - Fall 2021

 

Top 5 Non-Collectible Miniature Lines - Fall 2021

 

TOP HOBBY CHANNEL BOARD GAMES - FALL 2021

 

Top Collectible Games - Fall 2021

 

Developing expertise in Science & Nature - the STEM category

 

Track and race – the Action Vehicles category

 

With so many eco-friendly and sustainability developments taking place in the toy industry, Toy World rounds up the latest Green news.

 

The Outdoor category Rachael Simpson-Jones talks to a number of UK suppliers specialising in different areas of Outdoor Toys to find out how the category is shaping up this year.

 

***the above posted after March 4th***

 

Toy Book Sr Editor Jackie Cucco explores the growth of the Roblox platform with insight from executives at WowWee, Jazwares, HEXBUG, Spin Master, and more.

 

According to the last six months of data in Kids Insights, more than 2 out of 3 U.S. kids ages 6-12 agree that it is important for the products they buy to improve their knowledge and skillset.

 

New research from Canadian non-profit org Black Screen Office reveals what kids ages 6-17 from underrepresented communities want to see in children's content.

 

TOP MANGA FRANCHISES - FALL 2021

FULL YEAR 2021 NPD BOOKSCAN - TOP 20 MANGA

 

U.S. MANGA SALES MORE THAN DOUBLED IN 2021  NPD Reports Sales Up 160% in Units

Rachel Griffin, co-founder of PlayWise Partners, talks about company interactions with its audience and the impact of hybrid trade shows 

David Niggli, chief merchandising officer at FAO Schwarz, talks about high performing toy categories and experiential retail

Lesley Nightingale, chief merchandising officer of Camp, discusses how the growing retailer is dealing with supply chain disruptions and digital shopping safety

Sydney Wiseman, vice president of brand development and creative strategy at WowWee, talks about a new licensing program, marketing with Roblox, and its Nickelodeon partnership.

 

Jamie Berman, president of Canspan BMG, talks about clients and marketing strategies.

 

Kerry Tucker, chief marketing and franchise officer of pocket.watch, talks about the company’s growth and digital experiences.

 

Serge Micheli, executive director of The Canadian Toy Association, discusses the Canadian toy industry and The Canadian Toy Association’s key initiatives.

 

David Becker, president of Blue Plate Media Services, talks about influencers and marketing strategies.

 

Christian Ulrich, spokesperson of the executive board at Spielwarenmesse eG, talks about COVID-19 resources and the future or hybrid trade shows.

Toyjobs has been the dominant recruiting

Stories, Comments, and Advice

 

Edtech Companies Tap AI For More Personalized Learning.  AI is shaping the future of digital learning as parents—daunted by online schooling—turn to tech companies for help. Are they ready? COVID-19 posed plenty of challenges for folks around the world, but parents of school-aged children had a particularly hard time. As millions of students were forced to attend virtual school, many parents were too busy ...

 

Polish Illustrator Creates Fantastic Russia-vs-Ukraine Image for Aid Donations. To raise funds for Ukranian support, Polish illustraor Pawel Jonca careated this image of Russa as a red bear, about to step on a certain sharp crick toy we all know, with the Ukranian flag colors. 

 

The 10 most innovative companies in gaming in 2022.  Video games are defining culture, commerce, and community, and Dapper Labs, Roblox, Epic Games, and Rec Room are leveling up the experience. Games have historically been an underrated corner of business and the culture—but no longer. People are flocking into game worlds for immersive entertainment and social connection, and celebrities and brands...

 

YOUTUBE TAKES ACTION ON LOW-QUALITY VIDEO CONTENT. by MELISSA HUNTER, founder, Family Video Network. The time has come for what many toy-focused YouTube creators have feared.  In addition to requiring channels to mark their content as “Made for Kids” or “Not Made for Kids,” YouTube released new standards last July that are meant to help creators by providing more transparency into what the platform...

 

Updated: Global Toy Industry Supports Ukraine During Russian Conflict. Dozens of companies have answered the call to provide aid and support to kids and families in Ukraine and the surrounding area. The Toy Book is monitoring the situation with daily updates on the global industry response and is providing links to more information and resources for those looking to join the efforts. Read more…

 

***The above posted after March 4th***

 

John Baulch, Toy World (UK) - Keeping it in perspective …it’s the Friday Blog! There have been a few tricky Blogs to write over the past couple of years – but arguably none trickier than this week’s. It doesn’t feel right to be irreverent or poke fun at relatively trivial business foibles given the events in Ukraine. Neither does it feel appropriate to go into great detail about the impact of the war on the toy business around the world.

 

Letter from America, Rick shares how he keeps track of new trends and products, despite missing Toy Fair in NY. “The increased sales volumes we have been experiencing have continued into the new year, busting Jan. records and showing Feb. strength too,” writes Rick. “The main drivers continue to be Squishmallows, the fidget sensory category and scented slimes, namely Dope Slimes produced here in the states. In addition, we are seeing strong Lego sales and great performance from both the Mattel and Hasbro ranges. But it’s not all the big brands; some emerging, newer products that are just hitting shelves are enjoying a fantastic start too. How long will the train stay at full speed?

 

GLOBAL TOY INDUSTRY SUPPORTS UKRAINE DURING RUSSIAN CONFLICT.  The Russian invasion of Ukraine is creating a new ripple effect of challenges for toymakers worldwide. This week, the Ukrainian Association of Toy Industry (UTIA) sent out a call to action, urging toy and game manufacturers to immediately cease trading with Russian companies. UTIA President Pavel Ovchynnikov asked global toy companies to join....

Ukrainian filmmakers and executives more used to attending festivals and film markets are now carrying weapons – and joining the battle to protect their country against the invading Russian army. Other producers are hiding with their families in makeshift bunkers as the Russian military draws nearer. Speaking to Screen, producer Volodymyr Yatsenko, chairperson of the Film Industry Association of Ukraine (FIAU) who until recently attended Eurimages meetings on behalf of his country, said he will be returning to Kyiv tomorrow to fight.

EA removing Russian national teams from FIFA, NHL 22. Publisher's F1 games could also see Russian courses removed over invasion of Ukraine. Electronic Arts is pulling Russian elements from a number of its games in the wake of the country's invasion of Ukraine. EA Sports' official FIFA Twitter account announced it "has initiated processes" to remove the Russian Natl Team and Russian football clubs from its FIFA titles.

Chasing Earworms: Tuning Into An Original Music Trend. Trend expert Chris Byrne tunes into companies getting into the groove with music releases, and assesses how far this strategy might resonate with kids. The notion of original content has expanded in recent years, as companies and brands seek to stake a claim in ever-more-novel corners of the content universe. 

Talking Shop – Fair play.  Our indies reflect on the return to UK Toy Fair and tell us how the year has started off and what products they are excited about for 2022. Everyone was unanimous that it was great to be back at Olympia for Toy Fair in January. As Emma Dadswell of Toys N Tuck, Southend put it, “It was surreal but lovely to be back. Toy Fair was very well organised and I felt safe being there.”

Toys that Keep Dogs and Cats Busy Are More in Demand Than Ever.  Pets may just be looking to have fun, but owners are seeking toys that will keep their furry charges busy for more than a few minutes. Spencer Williams, CEO and owner of West Paw, a manufacturer in Bozeman, Mont., noted an increased interest in toys that solve issues such as chewing, boredom or eating too quickly.

 

Kids are watching war on social media: Here’s what parents should know (and do).  Social platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok bring war closer to home for everyone, including young kids. "Mom, did Ukraine do anything to Russia to make them do this?" Lane, 10, asked his mother, Jennifer Cannon, earlier this week on their way to school.

 

UK Kids Content Industry Calls For Youth Fund Extension.  Hundreds of industry stakeholders have signed an open letter calling for the kids-content pilot project to be extended. More than 750 creatives and business executives from the kids content industry have signed an open letter to the UK government campaigning to keep the British Film Institute’s Youth Audience Content Fund (YACF) open.  The US$62-million fund...

Wordle Player Has Perfect Solution After Getting Puzzle Spoiled for Them.  A fan of the popular daily word game Wordle comes up with an interesting way to play after having the answer spoiled ahead of time. The result is a strange little art-piece made using the sharing functions that already come available and have helped to make Wordle such a popular game online in the first place.

 

WHY TOY PRODUCTION IS EBBING AWAY FROM CHINA.  China has been playing a massive role in producing the products we sell for more than four decades. Before manufacturing in China, most companies either produced their products in their home market or imported from various hubs around the world, including Hong Kong, Japan, and Taiwan.

How Kidcos Are Preparing For A Live Event Renaissance. IP owners are gearing up for a return to live and location-based brand extensions as the world begins to look at life beyond pandemic restrictions. According to California-based market research firm Grand View Research, the location-based entertainment market was valued at US$3.05 billion in 2020.

What's it like for a game dev in Kyiv? "When it all started, everyone but me was sleeping. I heard some distant explosions." That's Kyiv-based developer Alex Molodkin, who along with his partner Tay Kuznetsova comprise the two-person studio Weasel Token. Weasel Token is currently working on Puzzles for Clef, a "peaceful 2D puzzle adventure with a treasure hunt at its core," but there's obviously not much work...

 

Active duty: ToyNews’ round-up of the latest outdoor toys. From playhouses to bikes and ride-ons, sand and water play sets to trampolines, outdoor toys experienced a popularity boom during lockdown as families looked for fun ways to keep active, prompting manufacturers to rise to the occasion with innovative new products and fresh spins on old favourites.

LBE 101: Understanding experiential retail and location-based entertainmentWhat is Location-Based Entertainment? The worldwide location-based entertainment (LBE) market is filled with physical experiences – both licensed and brand-owned – from virtual reality cafés and pop-up stores to immersive cinema and theme parks.

Introducing ‘Generation Self Improve’Gone are the days when learning was stereotyped as repetitive and boring. With a new cultural push towards creative and expressive learning and the rise of digital technology, schools and tuition-based institutions are now places where kids enjoy spending time.

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History and Nostalgia

 

A 1998 Pocket Monsters Japanese Promo "Illustrator" Pikachu Holo card, graded PSA NM 7, sold for $900,000 at a recent Goldin auction.

The world is perhaps within spitting distance of  seeing its first million dollar Pokemon card sale, now that this card has landed within $100,000 of that benchmark. This scarce promo was only released in Japan back in 1998, and is widely considered one of the most elusive Pokemon...

***The above posted after March 4th***

 

Alfred Hitchcock Why Mystery Game from Milton Bradley. Released in 1958 by Milton Bradley, the Alfred Hitchcock Presents Why board game capitalizes on the popularity of the Alfred Hitchcock Presents television anthology series that originally aired from 1955 to 1965. The roll-and-move game challenges players to solve the mystery of what happened to 6 masqueraded party-goers as they left the party...

 

Words… To Go! from Texas InstrumentsReleased in 1990 from Texas Instruments, Words… To Go! was an educational toy that aimed to develop pre-reading skills in children ages 3-6. The red handheld device powered by 2 AA batteries combined a tiny LCD with a miniature keyboard. The “to go” aspect was thanks to a large handle built into the top of the device and built-in storage.

 

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Licensing 

 

Funko Games Announces Rear Window Game.  The quintessential nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat Alfred Hitchcock thriller has been transformed into Rear Window Game – coming to a tabletop this summer from Funko Games’ acclaimed design studio Prospero Hall. One player assumes the role of the Director and “Master of Suspense” himself who must communicate using clues and signs (and without ever uttering a word)...

 

Genius Brands Intl has announced the appointment of the award-winning Brands with Influence as the exclusive licensing agent in the U.K. for the Co.’s portfolio of IP.  Brands with Influence will be responsible for creating licensing, merchandising and retail programs for Genius Brands’ slate of properties, including the Stan Lee brand, from the legendary Marvel creator, which the global media children’s co. manages...

 

Macmillan Adapts Podcast For Publishing.  As kidcos seek new ways to monetize audio content, the publisher is turning a Pinna podcast series for preschoolers into a multi-format book range. Kids audio streaming service Pinna is teaming up with Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group imprint Farrar, Straus and Giroux to adapt its preschool podcast series Quentin and Alfie’s ABC Adventures as a series of kids books.

 

Netflix and DreamWorks Animation have announced a new series in the Boss Baby franchise. The Boss Baby: Back in the Crib is set to debut globally on Netflix May 19, picking up where last year’s feature film sequel The Boss Baby: Family Business left off. In the latest series, main character Theodore Templeton is framed for embezzlement and forced to turn back into Boss Baby. Now living with his brother...

 

Kangaru Toys welcomes Reese’s into the fold with their line of scented stationary and writing utensils. This one is for the true peanut butter lovers, who know you can never have enough Reese’s Creamy Peanut Butter. Now Kangaru toys has captured the essence of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and squeezed it into these remarkable markers, gel pens, colored pencils, stickers, erasers, notebooks, journals and more. 

 

Fender Musical Instruments (FMIC)’s Fender Custom Shop™ announced the launch of a special collaboration with Mattel and Hot Wheels™, the global leader in car culture. Created by the Shop’s esteemed team of eleven master builders and five apprentice builders, the Fender Custom Shop Hot Wheels collection consists of 16 one-of-a-kind, bespoke designs inspired by the die-cast vehicles...

 

Fun In Motion Toys introduces the Wes Peden Signature Series Glow.0 LED Juggling Balls, bringing the art of juggling to a new level.

The juggling balls were designed in collaboration with Wes Peden, the No. 1 juggler in the “Top 40 Juggler of the Year” 10 times. Each Glow.0 juggling ball set comes with three soft and squeezable balls. Each ball contains two LED lights for a bright juggling experience. 

 

Animal Adventure Inks Licensing Deal for Sophie la girafe. Under the deal brokered by Anjar & Becker Associates, the licensing agent for Sophie la girafe, Animal Adventure/Dan Dee International will market Sophie-inspired plush, feature plush, mobiles, activity mats, storage cubes, rockers, rocking horses, soft chairs, stroller toys, baby wedges, and seasonal products in the U.S.

 

Wonkybot Expands Tara Tremendous Universe.  The podcast company's Marvel-esque strategy behind its popular kids superhero property is finally coming to fruition, says founder/creator Stewart St. John. Kids superhero podcast Tara Tremendous is on the verge of becoming a full-blown franchise featuring crossover characters and interconnected storylines à la the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

 

WarnerMedia is banking on new animated content from nonprofit Sesame Workshop to help it stand out in the streaming wars.

WarnerMedia has greenlit a new Charlotte’s Web miniseries and a Sesame Street-themed special based on the The Nutcracker. The new productions will join its slate of Sesame projects on HBO Max and the Cartoonito preschool block on Cartoon Network.

 

Kangaru Toys, whose wide array of licensed brands continues to expand, welcomes Reese’s into the fold with their line of scented stationary and writing utensils. This one is for the true peanut butter lovers, who know you can never have enough Reese’s Creamy Peanut Butter. Now Kangaru toys has captured the essence of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and squeezed it into these remarkable markers, gel pens, colored pencils, stickers, erasers, notebooks, journals and more. They are packed to the brim with peanut butter and chocolate scent!

 

King Features Syndicate  is partnering with Swedish slots specialist Lady Luck Games to create branded digital game content featuring iconic comic characters Popeye, Olive Oyl, Beetle Bailey and Flash Gordon. The new games will be available for players in slots across Europe and Asia for the first time, further expanding the reach of the character brands to fans across the world within the growing online casino game category. 

 

Bicycle, the bestselling playing card brand in the world, is launching a Bicycle x Smiley Collector’s Edition. The commemorative decks are part of Smiley’s 50thanniversary takeover with Bicycle and other major brands incorporating the trademark “smile” image into established products. The limited-edition deck features a design created by world-renowned graffiti artist, André Saraiva, who transformed Smiley’s original...

 

***The aboves posted after March 4th***

 

Sesame Workshop has named Just Play, a globally recognized leader in preschool toys, as its multi-territory master toy licensee for North America, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Under this multi-year partnership, Just Play will manufacture and market an expansive array of products featuring beloved Sesame Street characters...

 

Jazwares has just announced a line-up of must-have officially licensed Pokemon toys that will be the perfect addition to your Pokédex…or collection. Pokémon fans of all ages will love the latest line of unique plush and figure sets. Cuddle up with the 24″ Cubone or 8″ Dratini Plush, or add some style with the 8″ Corduroy Plush. Build up different worlds with high-detail environment sets, or show off your Pokémon master....

 

Mondo TV has been appointed as licensing agent in Italy for the character brand and international phenomenon Gorjuss by brand owner Santoro Licensing. Santoro’s Gorjuss brand revolves around imagery featuring sweet stripey-socked girls with big hearts. With over 400 characters to choose from, Gorjuss fans know there is a Gorjuss girl...

Hearst Media Production Group and Toonz Media Group has announced a partnership to produce new animated productions. Hearst Media Production Group, a business unit of Hearst Television, is a producer and distributor of television programming with more than 30 series and hundreds of hours of content annually on leading broadcast station groups and networks – and in 97 countries – and on connected...

 

Wow! Stuff and Aardman announced a collaboration on a global consumer products initiative: MovieMates ... launching first with the blockbuster franchise Jurassic World, is a range of collectible, highly detailed and articulated action figures mounted on a non-removable ‘film rig’ that comes with a free MovieMates app. 

 

Fun in Motion Toys has signed a worldwide licensing agmt with Rhino Records to produce a collection of Shashibo mystical magnetic puzzle cubes featuring the iconic artwork of the Grateful Dead.  “To be associated with this iconic band is a dream come true!” said Kevin Daniels, President of Fun In Motion Toys. “Grateful Dead have always been about pushing the boundaries of creativity and that’s what Shashibo ...

Jakks Pacific, Disguise Unveil Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Toys, Costumes.  In celebration of the upcoming theatrical release of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 from Paramount Pictures, Sega of America teamed up with Jakks Pacific and Disguise for an extensive new range of action figures, vehicles, plush, and costumes inspired by the film.

Rubies brings the magic of Encanto to life with new costumes.  The Encanto costumes feature Mirabel and Isabella of the Madrigal family, and come in a range of children’s sizes featuring the character’s signature dresses.  Encanto, the newest Disney animated film to be released, is making waves both at the box office and on the singles charts.

Afro Unicorn Expands with New Licensing Partners, Upcoming Products.  The company is looking to build a full consumer products program, including toys and publishing, and has already inked deals with licensees across a broad range of categories.  Afro Unicorn will incorporate its values in new apparel and accessories featuring the characters Unique, Divine, and Magical. 

 

The Noble Collection, the leader & creator of finely crafted treasures and Toyllectibles, reveals vast product line of popular products from entertainment properties including The Wizarding World, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Jurassic Park and E.T. the Extra Terrestrial in order to commemorate the 40th anniversary as well as additions to their BendyFigs line. Products will begin rolling out in Jan through the Holiday season.

 

Chinti & Parker Launches Care Bears Collection.  Bulldog Licensing’s latest partner to celebrate the Care Bears 40th anniversary by joining the consumer products program, is luxury knitwear label, Chinti & Parker. Chinti & Parker was established in 2009 with the aim to enliven and invigorate women’s wardrobes with knitwear that celebrates joyful color, timeless shapes and innovative textures.

 

Boss Fight Studio, creator of fan favorite action figures, has acquired the license to develop action figures based  on WildBrain’s  Classic Strawberry Shortcake character and her friends. The deal, brokered by FanGirl Consulting and Brand Management and WildBrain CPLG, is the latest addition to a diverse array of iconic brands for Boss Fight Studio.  Known for products that emphasize playability...

 

Cuphead is building upon its successful int'l presence with new and exciting products and partners tied to Netflix’s The Cuphead Show!, which debuted on Feb 18. Since launch, The Cuphead Show! has made the Top 10 Kids list in 90+ countries. Studio MDHR’s eight-time platinum-selling video game, Cuphead, has been a global sensation since its 2017 release and is continuing the momentum with new licensing...

Warren James, Dawko Introduce Hex x Five Nights at Freddy’s Plush Collection.  The debut plush collection includes Freddy Fazbear, Bonnie the Bunny, Chica the Chicken, and Foxy the Pirate, each with mix-and-match pieces that kids and collectors ages 6 and up can use to swap parts using internal magnetic connections.

 

Spin Master announced it renewed its global licensing agreement with Warner Bros Consumer Products and DC for the iconic Batman franchise and other DC Super Heroes. Spin Master first joined forces with WBCP in 2018 as the toy licensee for DC in the action figure, playset, roleplay and vehicle categories for the period of 2019-2022. The co has now extended the relationship for a 4-yr term, beginning in 2023...

 

New UK licensing deals for BBC Studios’ top dogs Bluey and Hey Duggee.  Deals include Bluey and Hey Duggee wheeled toys from MV Sports plus a Bluey arts and crafts range from Character Options.  New deals will see both properties expand in the UK and follow the recent announcement of agreements with Amscan, Character Options and Danilo for Bluey

 

Let it Rip! Mr Blockbuster Jerry Bruckheimer is producing a live-action movie with Paramount based on the popular toy franchise Beyblade.  Neil Widener and Gavin James are scripting the project, whose plot details are being kept under wraps. The spinning top toys, a competitor of Pokemon, were originally developed by Japanese firm Takara and have been licensed by different toy cos including Hasbro. 

Factory Entertainment announced the latest addition to its line of officially licensed high-end collectibles–a limited edition Sword Of Omens prop replica from the highly popular 1980’s cartoon series, ThunderCats.  The Factory Entertainment team have done it again! After spending countless hours studying the vintage toy line, episodes of the classic animation series and archival information....

The Muppets LEGO Minifigs revealed in first look photos. The first Lego minifigs based on The Muppets are coming, and thanks to online toy watchers, fans have their first look at the pop culture icons in full Lego glory. A new collection of The Muppets blind bags are reportedly on the way, with Lego minifigs of 12 different Muppets characters randomly distributed throughout. 

MeteoHeroes’ video game: digital worldwide launch on PlayStation and PCsThe first-ever MeteoHeroes video game is ready to hit the market! The unprecedentedly popular environmentally themed animated kids’ show MeteoHeroes, already seen in 144 countries and 22 languages, coproduced by Mondo TV and the leading weather forecasting centre Meteo Operations Italia, in partnership with Kenn Viselman’s...

 

Pete the Cat joins the Tonies family. Pete the Cat, the blue cat based on children's books created by James and Kimberly Dean, has found a new stage via the Toniebox. Pete's fans can now listen to his swinging tunes and fun-filled neighborhood adventures on Tonies' new audio platform. "There isn't a cooler character to add to our growing Tonies family than Pete the Cat – he surfs, plays guitar and has the best style," says...

PlayMonster partners with Hasbro to launch Koosh Flix Stix. PlayMonster and Hasbro are teaming up again in 2022 to reveal new ways to Koosh, with Koosh Flix Stix. Drawing on lacrosse, one of the fastest growing sports in the U.S., Koosh Flix Stix is inspired by the fast-flowing game where two teams scoop, pass and shoot a ball as they move across a field.

Renegade Game Studios unveils 'G.I. Joe Mission Critical'. Renegade Game Studios unveiled G.I. Joe Mission Critical, a new cooperative miniatures board game, which will be up for preorder in April 2022. In G.I. Joe Mission Critical, players can join the Joes and battle against the ever-looming threat that is Cobra. 

 

Cubicle 7 announces 'Doctors and Daleks'Cubicle 7 announced Doctors and Daleks, a new line of Doctor Who 5E RPG products, which will be launching in 2022. This new line of RPG products will send players' favorite Time Lord and his companions on journeys throughout time and space. 

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People of Play

Simon Philips, former president of Marvel Ent Intl, is setting his sights on a new universe to conquer. Philips has joined the board of Falcon’s Beyond Global, a Florida-based experiential entertainment company that brings IPs to global markets through theme parks, resorts, attractions and patented technologies. Philips arrives at Falcon’s Beyond with a resumé that includes generating more than US$16 billion in...

 

A tribute to Ralph Baer, written by friend of the Lemelson Center, Richard C. Levy: In early 1999, I was hired as new product acquisition consultant by Educational Insights, a specialty toy and game company. My two-year assignment was to open doors to the independent inventor community, here and overseas, and look for product that EI could license and sell in the mass market. One of my first calls was to Ralph Baer. 

 

Writer, producer and director Latoya Raveneau is making Disney her creative home. The director of Disney+ series The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder and executive producer of Rise Up, Sing Out has signed an overall deal to develop and produce animated projects exclusively with Disney Television Animation and 20th Television Animation. Raveneau will work on kids and family projects for Disney Television Animation...

 

On this episode of ShopTalk, we sat down with President of Super Impulse, Alan Dorfman, to discuss all things miniature! Known as the “King of Mini Toys” Alan has created some mini classics like the Mini Etch-A-Sketch, the ‘Worlds Smallest’ toy line, Garbage Pail Kids, Mini Super-Soaker and more! Hear all about Super Impulse’s upcoming plans for 2022, their NEW Pop Taters in partnership with Hasbro, Alan’s thoughts...

 

Global Licensing Group has appointed Laura Freedman-Dagg to the newly created role Head of Retail, Licensing. Prior to taking maternity leave, Laura held the position of event manager, Brand Licensing Europe, where she was integral in growing the trade show’s retail proposition, successfully attracting an increasing number of high-quality European retailers to attend the event

 

Melissa & Doug has welcomed Jeremy Robinson as the new sales director for Northern Europe, based in the company’s UK office. Reporting to managing director, International, Francisco Anselmi, Jeremy will have responsibility for managing existing and new business within the key markets of the UK, DACH and the Nordics. 

 

Marcy Kelly has signed on to partner with Mattel Films to write across their upcoming film slate. Kelly has worked with Mattel Films on several projects, including a feature film script based on the #1 card game property UNO. She adapted cult favorite Mean Girls into a branching narrative video game for Pocket Gems and Paramount. In its first year of release, Mean Girls: Senior Year achieved over 221 million views....

***the above was posted after March 4th***

Alan Hassenfeld Leads Toy Foundation Campaign for Ukrainian Children. TTF has partnered with toy industry veteran Alan Hassenfeld and the Hassenfeld Family Foundation to spearhead an industry-wide relief effort. Hassenfeld has pledged to donate $1 million and is challenging others throughout the play industry to join him in making an impactful contribution.

NOTRE DAME INTERVIEWS MARY COUZIN - One of Mary’s fondest childhood memories involves family card games. When her mother, aunts, and uncles would gather around a table and play poker, she and her cousins would huddle under the table and wait. “Every so often the adults would drop pennies and nickels to us, which was followed by a small skirmish by us kids. We loved poker night,” she recalls.

Aaron Muderick named Executive Chairman of The Toy AssociationThe Toy Association board of directors has announced it has elected Aaron Muderick, founder, Crazy Aaron’s and inventor of Thinking Putty, as executive chair on the board. Muderick has served on the board since 2019 and most recently served as vice chair of the Toy Association since 2021. 

Eight black innovators speak in Reading to mark Black History Month.  When Charles Harrison first applied to work as a designer at Sears in the 1950s, he was rejected. It wasn’t because he didn’t have the skill. His talent was obvious. He would go on to become Sears’ first Black design lead, hatching the concepts for more than 750 consumer products, including the iconic View-Master toy.

PlayMonster is proud to announce that Sakita Withers has won a 2022 Wonder Woman Award in the Rising Star, Marketing/PR category. Award winner Sakita Withers is a Brand Manager at PlayMonster, and has been with the company for two years. Sakita’s leadership has been instrumental in the successful launch of Snap Ships, Koosh, and BriteBrush brands, and now the much-anticipated relaunch of the beloved...

Power Kid Podcast,” host Phil Albritton of Power Kid Design welcomes Spin Master Creative Director Stephanie Guo to the show. Guo oversees creative vision for key brands, including PAW Patrol, GUND, Mighty Express, Kinetic Sand, Orbeez, and Etch-A-Sketch. Guo’s internal creative and social teams create more than 1,000 pieces of content each year.

French animation studio Blue Spirit Primes Olivier Lelardoux As Next CEO. The former Cyber Group exec has joined as managing director, and will take the reins from founding CEO Eric Jacquot when he departs in 2023. Lelardoux previously worked at Cyber Group Studios for 17 years, most recently as a studio director and associate producer. He directed more than 700 episodes of animated series during his tenure...

 

Sarah Harding appointed senior buyer of toys to Toys R Us UK buying and marketing team  The Australian Toys R Us operation has also announced solid growth during the first half of the retailer’s financial year. Sarah has a wealth of toy experience, having commenced her toy career over 20 years ago at Woolworths and Entertainment UK, before moving to Hamleys. 

ICV2 INTERVIEW: TOKYOPOP FOUNDER AND CEO STU LEVY.  How the Manga Market Has Changed, What Fans Want, What's Coming Next.  As Tokyopop celebrates its 25th anniversary, we reached out to founder and CEO Stu Levy to get the long view of the manga market as well as the direction he’s taking Tokyopop in and what he plans for the future.  From where you sit, how does the manga market look today? What’s hot...

 

Choon’s Design Appoints Christopher Tidwell CEO Amid Its 10th Anniversary.  While beginning their 10th year of worldwide sales, Choon’s Design the ever-popular maker of Rainbow Loom has announced the appt of Christopher M. Tidwell as CEO.  Choon’s Design is experiencing a strong resurgence in its craft and jewelry-making kits and has tapped Tidwell to expand revenue and enhance global retailer partnerships.

 

Three new account managers for MGA EntertainmentMGA Entertainment, Inc. has announced the appointments of Jamie Gordon as Senior National Account Manager, Laura Leigh-Mills as Ecommerce National Account Manager and Andrew Kay as National Account Manager. As Senior National Account Manager, Jamie Gordon is responsible for grocery and discounter channels. 

 

Wargaming fires World of Tanks' creative director following pro-Russia statements. Wargaming, the studio behind World of Tanks, has fired creator director Sergey Burkatovskiy after he publicly supported Russia's invasion of Ukraine, where hundreds of its team are based in the country's capital, Kyiv. In a since-deleted Facebook message, Burkatovskiy allegedly cited his support of "the operation of the Armed Forces..

 

The Point.1888 appoints chief commercial officer. Retail-focused licensing agent, The Point.1888, has gone through a leadership restructure as Bethan Garton has been appointed chief commercial officer. The move comes after the signing of 14 new brands and the launch of two new sister companies, Story.1888 and Spotlight.1888. 

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Companies and Brands

Elenco Electronics, the creators of the award-winning Snap Circuits brand of educational circuit-building toys, announces that it has been named a participant sponsor of The Smart Factory @ Wichita, a new Industry 4.0 immersive experience center, established by Deloitte and Wichita State University in Kansas.  The Smart Factory facility, located on Wichita State University’s Innovation Campus, is a ...

Public broadcasters CBC (Canada) and ABC (Australia) are expanding their ongoing partnership with a new joint initiative to support kids animation production and gain an edge in a busy marketplace. Open to projects from both new and established creators in the two countries, the Kindred ABC/CBC Animation Collaboration is seeking “fresh, innovative and artistic animation” targeting tween and preschool audiences. 

 

23 classic Beatrix Potter stories will join Yoto, the audio platform for kids, celebrating the 120th anniversary of The Tale of Peter Rabbit. The company behind Yoto Player and the recently launched Yoto Mini has collaborated with Penguin Audio to bring the stories to its content library, featuring a star-studdded range of voices including Tom Hardy, Lily James and Olivia Colman.

Smart Teddy Announces New and Engaging Content Updates for 2022.  Smart Teddy, the fun, customized, connected bear that helps parents engage their little ones with a furry companion while simultaneously helping kids set up good habits, is announcing the company’s 2022 seasonal content updates. As a part of an emerging generation of educational, smart toys Smart Teddy is programmed with more than 25 daily activities...

 

Mattel to donate $1 million to aid Ukrainian refugees  Mattel has issued a public statement on the situation in Ukraine. The statement reads: “Mattel stands with the Ukrainian people and we are devastated and saddened by the impact the war is having on innocent children and families. Guided by our purpose to empower the next generation to explore the wonder of childhood and reach

 

MGA Entertainment is expanding its Rainbow High portfolio for spring summer 2022 with the release of the all-new Junior High dolls this month. The original six characters from the Series 1 range – Ruby Anderson, Poppy Rowan, Sunny Madison, Jade Hunter, Skyler Bradshaw and Violet Willow – will all feature in the range as younger versions of themselves, revealing their origin stories and how they found their creative...

 

WREBBIT3D CELEBRATES 30 YEARS OF 3D PUZZLES. The Toy Book chats with Wrebbit3D President Jean Théberge about the company’s evolution over three decades and what’s in store for the company’s milestone anniversary.  Toy Book: Congratulations on celebrating 30 years of 3D jigsaw puzzles! How do you think your puzzles have changed the toy industry? 

 

Miniland USA Introduces Diverse Doll Line.  Classroom toy and game manufacturer Miniland USA is bringing its social-emotional learning focus to the toy industry arena by making their dolls with Down syndrome, hearing implants, and glasses directly available to consumers this year. The collection aims to support the representation and acceptance of kids in classrooms worldwide.

 

Fanatics Launches zerocool Trading Cards Brand with StockX Co-founder.  Following its surprise acquisition of The Topps Co. in January — a move that accelerated its entry into the sports card realm by several years after inking a deal with Major League Baseball — the company’s Fanatics Collectibles division is launching a new brand: zerocool. 

 

Hasbro revealed a new partnership with Girl Up, a global leadership development initiative founded by the United Nations Foundation that advocates for equal rights, access, and opportunities for girls to be leaders.  Hasbro hopes to support Girl Up’s efforts to reach a wider audience which include its leadership program, content creation, digitizing current assets, and a forthcoming digital learning platform. 

 

Argos digital store-in-store concept reaches 400 outlets.  The new Argos digital store, situated in Sainsbury’s Crystal Peaks, Sheffield, follows the opening of two similar stores in Belfast and Waltham Cross earlier this week. The latest opening means that more than half of all Argos stores are now within branches of Sainsbury’s, enabling shoppers to pick up a wide variety of general merchandise purchases at the same time as...

 

Rubies and Smyths Toys team up for ‘Create-A-Costume’ competition. The costume manufacturer is collaborating with the retailer to bring children’s designs to life for two lucky Create-A-Costume winners. Rubies and Smyths Toys are inviting kids to design their own super suit or princess dress in a competition to not only promote the companies, but also spark children’s imagination and creativity.

 

Spotify US has launched the latest edition of its Sound Up training program with a first-ever focus on the kids and family audience. The four-year-old training and mentorship program aims to help creators from historically excluded communities learn how to produce for the podcasting market. This edition focuses on content targeting kids ages three to nine, and the whole-family co-listening experience.

 

PowerTown Wrestling, the brand developed and being brought to market by Relativity Worldwide, has appointed Southard Communications as its agency of record to support the brand on a comprehensive marketing, communications, and social media campaign. Based in NY, Southard Communications has 3 decades of experience in the toy, game and collectibles space and is an ideal partner, according...

 

Miniland USA, makers of classroom toys and games focused on social and emotional learning, has announced the launch of their best-selling line of dolls with Down syndrome, hearing implants and glasses, direct to consumers. The respectfully inclusive collection was created to support representation and acceptance of children in classrooms worldwide, yet equally found enormous success among consumers...

FAMILY OF MISSION-LED EDUCATIONAL TOY COMPANIES TO SUPPORT CHILDREN AND FAMILIES IN UKRAINE. With thousands of children and families gravely affected by the conflict in Ukraine, the family of award-winning educational toy companies Learning ResourcesEducational Insights, and hand2mind today announced they are providing support in numerous meaningful ways. Along with financial support...

TikTok is suspending new video uploads and livestreams on its app in Russia, citing the country’s newly-passed “fake news” law as the reason for the change.  “In light of Russia’s new ‘fake news’ law, we have no choice but to suspend livestreaming and new content to our video service while we review the safety implications of this law,” TikTok writes on Twitter. “Our in-app messaging service will not be affected.”

 

Netflix is suspending its services in Russia over the country’s invasion of Ukraine, as first reported by Variety.  “GIVEN THE CIRCUMSTANCES ON THE GROUND, WE HAVE DECIDED TO SUSPEND OUR SERVICE IN RUSSIA”.  “Given the circumstances on the ground, we have decided to suspend our service in Russia,” Netflix spokesperson Emily Feingold said in a statement to The Verge.

Disney Will Reignite Interest In Avatar 2, Says 20th Century President.  While some may doubt audiences' interest in the Avatar franchise, 20th Century president Steve Asbell is confident Disney can easily win everyone over. Part of the reason Avatar 2 has taken so long to reach this point is because Cameron has been hard at work perfecting the technology required for the special effects. 

 

CBC Reboots Street Cents On Social. The '90s series that aimed to help teens make sense of their cents is springing back to life as the pubcaster's first original TikTok series. Banking on the strong cultural force of ’90s nostalgia, Canadian pubcaster CBC is rebooting one of its flagship kids series from the decade with an of-the-moment spin. Street Cents, a newsmagazine-style series about money and financial literacy...

 

Canadian company NGD Kids is looking for global distributors. NGD Kids’ range includes the popular Farm Hoppers and the product line is expanding over the next year as the company is set to release a new line of Hopper Balls as well as its own range of plush toys. Other well-known toys in the range include Fantasy Hoppers, Wildlife Hoppers and Holiday Hoppers.

 

‘Gabby’s Dollhouse’: Dreamworks’ Next Big Franchise on Netflix? Independent media analyst Emily Horgan dives into how Gabby's Dollhouse could be one of Netflix's biggest kids franchise launches to date. In the show, we follow Gabby, who uses her magical cat ears to transport herself into her dollhouse where she goes on adventures and solves problems alongside a host of kitty characters.

 

Ads To Arrive On Disney+ In New Subscription Tier.  The new AVOD option will launch in the US first later this year, and then expand into international territories in 2023. Consumers looking for a break in the cost of Disney+ can look forward to a lower-priced ad-supported viewing option that’s set to debut later this year. The premium-content streamer is expanding its subscription menu with a new tier as part of its efforts...

 

MATTEL BLASTS OFF WITH TOYS INSPIRED BY DISNEY AND PIXAR’S ‘LIGHTYEAR’. With Disney and Pixar’s Lightyear hitting theaters on July 17, Mattel is celebrating the iconic Space Ranger’s origin story by revealing a full lineup of new toys inspired by Buzz Lightyear’s early adventures. 

DISNEY AND PIXAR LIGHTYEAR JETPACK LIFTOFF BUZZ LIGHTYEAR FIGURE: This 11.5-inch figure features Buzz Lightyear in his Space Ranger...

 

***the above was posted after March 4th***

 

MATTEL REINTRODUCES THE FISHER-PRICE PLAY LAB.  After more than six decades of creating toys and other products for young infants, toddlers, and kids, the first kid-led toy testing facility in the industry has been revamped. Located in East Aurora, New York, Mattel‘s Fisher-Price Play Lab is where kids and designers work together to create and evaluate more than 450 toys each year.

MGA Entertainment has launched a ground-breaking new series in celebration of confidence, inclusivity and lifting each other up – L.O.L. Surprise! Queens. The collection celebrates the spirit of sisterhood by straightening each other’s crowns, embracing who they are and always supporting their friends. The range includes L.O.L. Surprise! O.M.G. Queens  Fashion dolls, an L.O.L. Surprise! O.M.G. Queens Deluxe collector...

Razor’s iconic scooter is back. But this time, it’s for grown-ups—and it’s electric. The original Razor A Kick folding scooter arrived in 2000, and in many ways—just like the phone of nearly the same name—it epitomized Y2K design. Its colorful hand grips and shiny aluminum frame glinted in the sunlight, hearkening a joyous, technological future. It was a massive hit that was named Spring/Summer Toy of the Year...

LEGO halts shipments of toy bricks to Russia. Toymaker LEGO has halted deliveries to its 81 stores in Russia as a consequence of the sanctions imposed after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, according to online media Finans. "We have suspended all shipments of products to Russia in light of the sanctions and the unpredictable operating environment," Finans quoted a LEGO spokesman as saying.

RESPONDING TO UKRAINE CRISIS, TY WARNER DONATES 100% OF PROFITS FROM BEANIE BABIES.   Ty Warner CEO, of TY Inc., the largest manufacturer of soft toys in the world, pledged today that 100% of profits from sales of Beanie Babies during the month of March will be donated to Save the Children Fund to provide emergency aid to those in crisis zones.

CD Projekt halts sales to Russia, BelarusCD Projekt Group today announced that it is halting digital and physical sales of its games to Russia and Belarus. In addition to limiting the availability of its own games like The Witcher and Cyberpunk 2077, the Polish company is also halting distribution of games from its GOG storefront to those markets.

 

ESL bans organizations with ties to Russian government from Pro LeagueEsports company ESL has announced that organizations "with apparent ties to the Russian government" will be banned from the upcoming ESL Pro League. In the statement shared on its website, ESL said that it includes "individuals or organisations under alleged or confirmed EU sanctions related to the conflict."

UNIS Technology, a multinational developer and manufacturer of coin-operated games, announces launch of their new consumer brand called TekyGo!, a creation that integrates arcade gaming technology with exercise toys for kids.  TekyGo! is a gaming platform designed to encourage physical activity and developmental learning for children ages 2-7. 

The Good Toy Guide celebrates 10 years with host of trade and consumer giveaways.  The Good Toy Guide, founded by psychologist and play expert Dr Amanda Gummer, is celebrating its 10th anniversary this month with a host of consumer and trade promotional activities. The guide has provided an independent, expert accreditation service for children’s products since 2012, and has been a trusted resource for over 100,000 …

McDonalds teams with charities to give away over 500K books this World Book Day   Research shows one in eight families do not own a book and as the UK’s largest distributor of free books, this World Book Day (3 March) McDonald’s is working to correct that. The restaurant company is teaming up with footballers, football clubs, community hubs and charities to get as many books as possible into the …

Educational Insights Teams up with YouTube Educator Ms. Monica for Preschool Content.  The company kicked off its 60th anniversary on the 60th day of the year by announcing a partnership with Ms. Monica of the Circle Time with Ms. Monica show on YouTube. The yearlong partnership will feature exclusive content from Educational Insights shared to Ms. Monica’s audience.

New line of Dr Seuss books in development   Dr. Seuss Enterprises (DSE) and Random House Children’s Books (RHCB) will launch Seuss Studios, a line of books for early readers by new and emerging authors and illustrators who will create original stories inspired by Ted Geisel’s (aka Dr. Seuss) unpublished sketches and illustrations. 

Shonda Rhimes, Pat McGrath honored with their own Barbies. In honor of International Women’s Day, the iconic doll brand has launched a campaign to increase access to female role models. As we celebrate the historic contributions of women around the world this month, Mattel is making its own tribute, announcing a new, multifaceted campaign “to inspire the next generation of leaders and dreamers.” 

Moose Toys Expands Magic Mixies Brand, Previews 2022 Lineup.  Following the success of the Magic Mixies Magic Cauldron, which was recently named Creative Toy of the Year by The Toy Foundation during the 2022 Toy of the Year Awards, the brand will expand with Magic Mixies Mixlings to lead a robust new product line that Moose will debut this year.

Georgia Manolas Walker, VP of marketing at Playmates Toys, discusses the Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir series and new toys based on the show. Toy Book: What is it about Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir that makes it appeal to kids, teens, and adults? Georgia:  Jeremy Zag had a passionate vision to tell: a catch 22 love story that talks to everyone through gorgeous animation, relatable storytelling, and...

 

Brunico Communications Issues Statement In Support Of Ukraine.  Kidscreen’s parent co to temporarily suspend business relations with Russian cos. Brunico Communications has announced today that it is immediately suspending business relations with Russian-based companies, including advertising, sponsorship and attendance at our conferences and events, until its state-led campaign of aggression against Ukraine...

Apple, Nike and Google join brands limiting servicesApple has become the latest major firm to halt all product sales in Russia, in a widening corporate backlash to the country's invasion of Ukraine. The tech giant was said it was "deeply concerned" about the Russian invasion and stands with those "suffering as a result of the violence". 

 

Games industry rallies behind Ukraine in face of Russian invasionPokémon Company, John Romero, and Unity join fundraising efforts. Games companies are calling for industry and player support as Ukraine suffers attacks from Russian military forces. Many of the games companies based in Ukraine, including Frogwares, Vostok Games and Sengi Games, have made statements via social media regarding Russia's actions...

Walmart moves further into livestream shopping. Walmart is delving further into livestreaming and social commerce with an extended partnership with Talkshoplive. "Walmart continues to be focused on meeting customers where they are while making it easier to shop," Casey Schlaybaugh, vice president of brand at Walmart, said in a December statement regarding Talkshoplive.

 

TONKA Celebrates 75 Years as an Icon of Vehicle Play.  Basic Fun!, a leading global producer of toy and consumer products and master toy licensee for TONKA, is launching a year-long celebration for the beloved brand’s 75th Anniversary. Superstar Shaquille O’Neal will kick-off the “Together, We Tonka” campaign with a photo contest, followed by a call-to-action to take a screen-free summer “Tonka Playcation.” 

 

Brown Toy Box Aims to Reach 100,000 Students Nationwide with STEAM Toys.  Founded by tech innovator and visionary entrepreneur Terri-Nichelle Bradley, Brown Toy Box is on a mission to inspire children from all backgrounds that they can be successful in STEAM careers. After participating in the ESEA conference this month, Brown Toy Box announced a new partnership with education nonprofit DonorsChoose.

 

PlayMonster has launched a Spirograph National Art Contest – where 6 winners will be selected to be featured at The Strong National Museum of Play on World Art Day!  As part of the promotion, families are also invited to get their creative juices flowing by visiting Michael’s stores across the US for a free Spirograph® event. On Saturday, March 26, 2022, from 1-3 PM CST, families will be able to try out various Spirograph®...

 

Disney, Sony and Warner Bros pause film releases in Russia over Ukraine invasion.  Disney and Sony call off all upcoming theatrical releases, including Pixar film Turning Red and Morbius, with Warner Bros also pulling The Batman. “We will make future business decisions based on the evolving situation,” Disney said on Monday. “In the meantime, given the scale of the emerging refugee crisis, we are working with our NGO partners to provide urgent aid and other humanitarian assistance.”

 

Concerned about the developments in Ukraine, The Horst Brandstätter Group has decided to stop supplying products of its two company brands PLAYMOBIL and LECHUZA to Russia with immediate effect.  For the year 2022, Horst Brandstätter Group had budgeted a turnover of around 10 million euros for both companies in Russia.  Alongside this, The Children’s Foundation founded by Horst Brandstätter has donated 150,000 euros for children in Ukraine.

DC Launches Batman Store on Amazon.  Ahead of tomorrow’s theatrical release of The Batman, DC and Warner Bros. Consumer Products have launched a dedicated Batman storefront at Amazon. The digital destination features products from several companies that kids can use to create a Batcave of their own.

 

The Barbie brand says it is launching ‘the cutest unboxing experience ever’ with the new Barbie Cutie Reveal range, an exciting new evolution of its popular Reveal segment.  With a total of 10 surprises in each package, the Barbie Cutie Reveal dolls offer unboxing fun with soft, plush animal friends and fashions as well as a host of surprises and transformations to discover. 

Tiger Tribe joins the Bigjigs Toys family. Bigjigs Toys Ltd has announced that it is now the UK distributor of the Australian toy brand Tiger Tribe. Founded by Melbourne couple Anthony and Naomi Green in their garage, Tiger Tribe is a family run business that creates fun and thoughtful children’s toys and gifts. Bigjigs Toys Ltd were drawn to Tiger Tribe’s vibrant creative offering of toys and craft sets. 

 

Pandasaurus Games announces 'The Loop' expansion. Pandasaurus Games announced The Revenge of Fauxzilla, a new expansion for The LOOP cooperative game, which will release on August 3, 2022. The new expansion to Catch Up Games' The Loop adds new elements to the battle with the evil genius Dr. Faux. It features two new playable characters and two new game modes, 7 Kaiju Balls and Fauxzillapocalypse. 

 

Exploding Kittens launches new game based on The Oatmeal’s viral comic. Exploding Kittens, a tabletop game creator, announced the launch of its new game, Mantis. Derived from the comic, “Why the Mantis Shrimp is my new favorite animal,” by the cartoonist Matthew Inman, the game is available now. “With the simplicity of UNO and the depth of Gin Rummy, Mantis is designed for both kids and adults,” says Inman, creator...

 

Barbie celebrates International Women’s Day with new dolls, shopping platform, and more. Every year on Mar. 8, we celebrate International Women’s Day to honor the cultural, political, and socioeconomic achievements of women. This year, Mattel is launching a multi-faceted Barbie campaign that hopes to increase access to female role models, support female entrepreneurs, and partner with like-minded global programs. 

 

Pikwik Pack toys & books now available at Walmart, Target and Amazon! Preschoolers across the U.S. and Canada can now “unwrap” a world of surprise and adventure as toys inspired by the hit series Pikwik Pack launch today at mass retailers Walmart, Target and Amazon. Produced by animation powerhouse Guru Studio, Pikwik Pack follows four adorable animal friends as they work together to deliver magical surprises...

 

IELLO will release 'Get on Board: New York & London'. IELLO will release Get on Board: New York & London, a brand-new flip-and-write game, into retail in Q2 2022. In Get on Board: New York & London, players are off to these two big cities to create bus routes. On their turn, players flip over a card and draw an ideal route. 

 

Games Workshop reveals a new 'Warhammer 40,000: Combat Patrol'. Games Workshop revealed Combat Patrol: Aeldari boxed set for Warhammer 40,000, which will hit retail in April 2022. This new Combat Patrol box showcases the Aeldari's speed, psychic abilities, and firepower. 

Douglas launches Soft Baby Dolls in Pajamas and matching PJ Pups. If you are going to have a Baby Doll in Pajamas then she ought to have a puppy who wears matching pajamas. It only makes sense to plush toy maker and lifestyle gift creator, Douglas Company who is well-known for their breed-specific pups.

 

GTS Distribution becomes Stonemaier's sole distributor for the U.S. hobby channel. GTS Distribution announced that they have become Stonemaier Games' sole distribution partner for the U.S. hobby channel. This agreement, which aligns with Stonemaier's worldwide distribution plans, became effective as of March 1, 2022.

 

'Old Foes' face off for 'Warhammer: Age of Sigmar'. Games Workshop is expanding its “Old Foes” series of army bundles with the release of Old Foes:  The Goretide and Old Foes:  Followers of the Secret this month. The Old Foes:  The Goretide bundle is designed to help players quickly assemble a large chaos army of Khorne for Warhammer:  Age of Sigmar.  

 

Customize the clash with the Beyblade Burst QuadDrive Cosmic Vector Battle Set.This year, the world of collectible battle tops is spinning into a new era in which four is the magic number. Beyblade Burst QuadDrive is the latest extension of the ever-expanding Beyblade brand and that means that everything follows the rule of four. 

 

Exclusive LEGO Thor hammer replica launches on Zavvi.com. This March, online retailer Zavvi is launching the highly anticipated Thor hammer build, an exclusive to The Hut Group and the LEGO Group. Aimed at Marvel fans, collectors and brick fanatics, the set is a recreation of Mjölnir, the iconic magical weapon used by Thor throughout Marvel Studios’ Infinity Saga.

Portal announces 'Thorgal: The Board Game'. Portal Games announced Thorgal: The Board Game, a new cooperative storybook adventure game, for release into retail in 2023 pending a successful Gamefound campaign. This new board game is set in the Thorgal universe. Thorgal is a European comic book series by Belgian writer Jean Van Hamme and Polish graphic artist Grzegorz Rosinski...

 

'Munchkin Warhammer 40,000' goes 'Rank And Vile'. Steve Jackson Games will release Rank and Vile, a new expansion for Munchkin Warhammer 40,000, into retail in March 2022. Rank and Vile adds three more armies to games of Munchkin Warhammer 40,000. It includes cards for the Astra Militarum, Drukhari, and Chaos armies. 

 

The LEGO Foundation donates LEGO MRI scanners to hospitals worldwide. What started in 2015 as a passion project for Lego employee Erik Ullerlund Staehr and Odense University Hospital, Denmark, is now being scaled and piloted with new training material for hospital staff. The team developed the sets as a way to help children navigate the often daunting and intimidating process of having an MRI scan. 

 

U.S. early childhood brand Lovevery expands operations in the UK. Lovevery, the early childhood brand headquartered in Boise, Idaho, is opening a UK logistics centre in the West Midlands. The move is a part of the expansion plan by supply chain expert Bleckmann, which provides end-to-end logistics solutions for retail and lifestyle brands in the Midlands’ ‘Gold Triangle’ at Magna Park, Lutterworth. 

Eolo Toys debuts Glowies to enthusiastic reception. Eolo Toys continues to introduce innovative brand additions to its plush portfolio, as the company forges ahead with its mission to expand into new categories. The launch of the Glowies line introduces new and appealing pre-school toys that will help toddlers fall asleep easily. 

 

New Na! Na! Na! Surprise lines join MGA range. MGA Entertainment is excited to announce the expansion of its Na! Na! Na! Surprise collection. Since its launch in 2019, the fashion doll brand has seen huge success. Na! Na! Na! Surprise was the first ever fashion doll to launch with soft-articulated features and has since become a much-loved doll, for children aged 4+. 

 

Restore ruined biomes with 'The Shapers of Gaia'. WizKids will release The Shapers of Gaia, a new board game, into retail in July 2022. In The Shapers of Gaia, players take on the roles of shapers that have emerged from a vault after millennia to restore the world of Gaia. Players work with a Caretaker robot to earn Prestige while they rebuild the biomes of the land and rejuvenate the species that once roamed the land. 

 

Flair relaunches craft favorite Paper FX. Flair GP is to add to the wave of toys with eco-friendly features with the relaunch of a favourite craft toy, Paper FX, supported by an extensive marketing campaign. DreamToy winner Paper FX enables users to create stylish accessories, gifts and decorations from old magazines, wrapping paper, posters, junk mail and more.

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Gaming: Digital, Video, Hardware, and Development

Video game publishers and developers are cutting off Russia, too. From mega-publishers to small-team indies. The global business community is increasingly moving to isolate Russia for the war it's waging in Ukraine, and video games are no exception. Here's a rundown of what we've seen so far from key players in the video game space as efforts to isolate Russia have snowballed in the midst of Ukraine's calls for the industry to take action.

 

***The aboves was posted after March 4th***

 

Elden Ring is the biggest non-FIFA or Call of Duty launch since Red Dead Redemption 2 | UK Digital Charts. Elden Ring is the biggest UK video game launch since Call of Duty: Vanguard, according to the latest digital and physical data supplied by GSD. Its sales are 2.5x that of last week's big new release, PlayStation's Horizon: Forbidden West. 

 

Wordle rip-offs are running rampant on the App Store again. The Wordle clones are back on the App Store, just a few weeks after Apple wiped out nearly all the copycat games in January. A quick glance at the top free apps on the App Store reveals at least two prominently placed Wordle-alikes, while diving into Apple’s more specific word games category (or simply searching “Wordle”) surfaces plenty of other copycats,...

 

Ukraine calls on gaming companies to block players in Russia, Belarus. A number of game companies have expressed support and raised donations for relief efforts in Ukraine, but the country is now asking them to take a more direct role as it attempts to stave off Russian forces. Ukraine deputy prime minister Mykhailo Fedorov today posted a letter on Twitter addressed "to all game development companies ...

 

Ubisoft provides Ukraine employees with alternate housing, establishes support hotlines. Ubisoft has provided its staff and their families in Ukraine with alternate housing in neighboring countries so they can take shelter as the Russian invasion continues. The French publisher has two studios in Ukraine -- located in Kyiv and Odesa -- and has created dedicated hotlines to provide employees in the region with personalized ...

 

Pokémon Scarlet and Violet are coming to the Switch later this year. Surprise! There are even more Pokémon games on the way. At a livestreamed event on Sunday morning, The Pokémon Company teased two new titles: Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. The games are expected to launch on the Nintendo Switch in late 2022, and the brief teaser looked reminiscent of 2019’s Pokémon Sword and Shield. 

 

Amazon Luna launches for anyone in the US, adds free games for Prime members and Twitch integration. Amazon Luna — the company’s cloud-based game streaming service — is officially launching in the US today for anyone to use, in addition to adding a variety of new features, including free games for Amazon Prime members. Luna was announced in fall 2020, but since then, it has only been available to a limited ...

 

Microsoft Flight Simulator can now run on Xbox One thanks to Xbox Cloud Gaming. Microsoft Flight Simulator is launching on Xbox Cloud Gaming today, allowing Xbox One owners to access the game for the first time. The Xbox Series X / S exclusive was previously only playable on the latest Xbox consoles, but you can now play Microsoft Flight Simulator through a web browser, on Android and iOS devices, and on Xbox One...

 

Steam Deck review: A strong start to an exciting new hardware category for game devs. Valve's ambitious Steam Deck is now officially on the market and it's one of the most interesting, borderline magical, pieces of game hardware available today, laying the groundwork for a new hardware category for game developers to reach players. 

Safety and Counterfeiting

Inside ZAG’s Anti-Piracy Division Strategy.  The company’s new division uses artificial intelligence and algorithms to identify suspicious consumer products based on its IPs. Even superheroes need a hand sometimes, which is why ZAG Entertainment recently launched an anti-piracy division to safeguard the intellectual property rights for its brands, content and consumer products.

 

***the above posted after March 4th*

 

The fight against counterfeiting.   For the first time, online marketplaces AliExpress and WeChat were added to the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) annual Review of Notorious Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy. The two online companies joined four others based in China – Baidu Wangpan, DHGate, Pinduoduo, and Taobao – as well as nine physical markets in the region as sources for the manufacture, distribution, and sale of counterfeit goods. Overall, counterfeit and pirated goods from China, along with those transshipped from China …

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Highlighted Press Releases

 

ALL ABOARD FOR FIRST PLUSH TRAIN IN BELOVED HESS TOY TRUCK COLLECTION. Choo-Choo Train Revealed Today As 2022 My Plush Hess Truck Collectible. Hess announced this morning a new addition to its Hess Toy Truck collection – My Plush Hess Truck: 2022 Choo-Choo Train, the third in its plush toy series designed especially for its youngest fans. On sale exclusively at HessToyTruck.com, the soft and durable green fabric train has colorful accents, lights and sounds. The $34.99 price includes free standard shipping* and Energizer® batteries. My Plush Hess Trucks are so popular that the first two releases in the series sold out – the snuggly 2020 Fire Truck and the playful 2021 Cement Mixer. 

 

***the above was posted after March 4th***

 

NBA MATH HOOPS ARENA TOUR – A QUEST TO MAKE MATH FUN, ONE GAME AT A TIME.  Across the country, students are being given online study resources to facilitate learning outside of the classroom. Teachers have turned to tools like Google Classroom, Zoom, and podcasts to reach students in their home learning environments, and there have been a flurry of tools created to meet the needs of education beyond the classroom. Kids looking to boost their math skills have an assist from the NBA Math Hoops App. The free app is available for iOS and Android devices and leverages a simple yet engaging game design to help students in grades 3-8 master the basics of arithmetic using real NBA and WNBA player statistics.

Associations, Shows, Awards, Events, and Festivals

 

Nickelodeon unveiled the nominees for the 2022 Kids’ Choice Awards, adding that iCarly star Miranda Cosgrove and NFL star Rob Gronkowski have been tapped to host the in-person show. Taylor Swift and Adele lead the individual nominations with four each, while Danger Force, High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, iCarly, Cobra Kai and The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run also earned 4 nominations apiece.

 

Licensing Expo heads to Las Vegas with 170+ exhibitors and growing.  Licensing Expo is gearing up to host what promises to be the consumer product industry’s most productive in-person get together in three years, with a growing roster of brands signing on daily to exhibit at the in-person event to be held at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV, May 24-26, 2022. 

 

ToyFest West Opens at the Expo at World Market Center Las Vegas.  The toy industry slot machine is all 7’s this week as North America’s first major in-person toy industry event of the year is underway at the Expo at World Market Center LV. International Market Centers hosts ToyFest West 2022 from Mar 9-11, an event for retail buyers to go hands-on with a variety of new toys, games, and gift products in a new mixed-use venue.

 

The Children’s Media Conference (CMC), now in its 19th year, will be returning to Sheffield for an in-person and parallel online event from Tuesday, July 5 – Thursday, July 7, 2022.  CMC’s first hybrid event follows the success of its virtual conferences in 2020 and 2021, and will see a packed agenda of keynotes, masterclasses and panels tackling the urgent issues facing the children’s media industry and young audiences. 

 

Wow! Stuff and Playmates Toys announced as Master Sponsors of The Light Fund English Channel Relay.  This summer, on a day between the 30th of June and the 3rd of July when the weather conditions are right, two boats of six swimmers will be racing each other across the English Channel to France in aid of The Light Fund charity. All the participants will be from the licensing industry, trying to 

 

Retailers are invited to apply for a delegate place on the popular Retail Mentoring Programme, and have until 22nd April to do so. Brand Licensing Europe’s popular Retail Mentoring Programme is a free-to-attend, CPD-accredited course, delivered through a series of seminars, workshops and 1-2-1 consultancy sessions between May and September 2022. It is now in its 12th year and boasts hundreds of alumni...

***The above posted after March 4th***

The Toy Trust will pledge support of £10,000 via partner charity Samaritan’s Purse, to provide emergency backpacks for refugees from Ukraine that are fleeing the conflict. Alongside the rest of the World, The Toy Trust has been shocked and dismayed by the unfolding conflict in Ukraine and The Toy Trust Committee has wanted to respond rapidly and practically to the unfolding crisis, which has displaced many millions of families including children.

 

Russia dominated chess for a half-century. The game’s organizing body has now banned tournaments in the country. For half of the 20th century, Soviet and Russian players dominated chess, winning all but one World Chess Championship, the game’s most prestigious tournament. During the Soviet era, grandmasters like Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov were treated as celebrities. Russia boasts some 239 grandmasters...

 

Toy World editor Rachael Simpson-Jones takes a look at UK's Toy Fair’s hugely successful return to the trade show calendar and finds out what made it such a hit.  Well – wasn’t it nice to be back at Toy Fair? This year’s overhaul to the usual floorplan, necessitated by comprehensive (and largely unnoticeable) redevelopment works to Olympia, appeared to be quickly accepted by all. 

 

Toy Association & Clamour to Unveil Top-Tier Influencer’s Toy Picks for Spring & Summer 2022.  Top-tier influencers with monthly followings of at least one million views and a social reach of more than 500,000 will be voting for their favorite toys and games this spring. Selected products will be named to the official “Best of Spring & Summer 2022 Influencer Choice List,” presented by The Toy Association and powered by Clamour...

 

Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment is kicking off Women’s History Month by pulling back the curtain to reveal its 2022 Wonder Women Award winners. WiT celebrates its 30th anniversary this year while continuing the tradition of recognizing and honoring remarkable leaders, entrepreneurs, and change-makers for their outstanding contributions in the toy, licensing, and entertainment industries.

 

Planning for newly rebranded INDX Toys & Nursery Show continues.  The popular trade event is set to arrive at the Cranmore Park exhibition venue in Solihull on 6th and 7th April. When the Independent Toy & Gift Show returned to a live format in September 2021, the popular industry trade show announced plans to join the INDX group of trade shows and re-brand as INDX Toys & Nursery for 2022. 

 

The LEGO Foundation shortlisted for RNIB See Differently Award. The LEGO Foundation has been shortlisted for an RNIB See Differently Award in recognition of its work to help children with vision impairment learn braille through play. The RNIB See Differently Awards, alongside headline sponsor Amazon Alexa, recognize and celebrate outstanding work to support people with sight loss.

The return of the London Games FestivalAfter two years as an online-only event, festival director Michael French discusses plans to bring the ten-day games celebration back to the streets of the capital. By the end of London Games Festival 2019, more than 97,000 people had attended its events across the city.

Combined Toy & Edu China, Baby & Stroller China, and Licensing China Trade Show moves to May. The international trade show landscape continues to change. Messe Frankfurt (HK) Ltd is rescheduling the combined Toy & Edu China, Baby & Stroller China, and Licensing China trade show that was originally slated to occur March 30 to April 1 at the Shenzhen World Exhibition & Convention Center. 

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RIP - Rest in Play - Remembering Those that have Passed

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

 

Ira P. Hernowitz - June 23, 1965 - March 6, 2022. Ira passed away after a long battle with cancer. Ira was born in The Bronx, NYC in June of 1965. He went away to sleepaway camp at Camp Olympus in upstate New York at a young age. The friends he made at camp would stay with him throughout his life, and the experiences he had there shaped him into the kind, generous leader that he was.  He attended the Bronx High School of Science and later Syracuse University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science and met his wife, Nancy. His passion and brilliance led him to an illustrious career in a wide variety of businesses, including Hasbro, Toys “R” Us, Kindara Fertility, and Carson Dellosa Education. In every position he held, he was a leader and an innovator while also incorporating kindness into everything he did and constantly pushed others to exceed expectations. He traveled extensively and had no hesitations about trying new foods or ordering sushi for the table. Those around him knew he could always be counted on for a nuanced opinion or sage advice.  He was deeply loved by his family and friends. They knew him as tenacious, brilliant, and resilient in the face of challenges. He was a mentor, a comedian, and had an incredible patience and perspective that endeared him to everyone he met. He was a skilled writer, an avid golfer who belonged to both Potowomut Golf Club in RI and Suntree Country Club in FL, and a frustratingly good Scrabble player. He was a kind soul who cared deeply about the well-being of all people. All who knew him will carry him with them always.

 

Steve Webb, head of Retail at Cartamundi, has passed away after a short battle with cancer, Toy World is sad to report.

Dan King, general manager UK at Cartamundi, reached out to Toy World to say: “Steve had been fighting cancer for the last 10 months and he leaves behind his wife Nic and children Gracie and Jack. He was so brave and showed so much tenacity and positivity throughout this battle, which was why he was such a great sales person. Steve had only recently started his position but in the short time he was with the company he quickly became a much-loved member of the team. We are all going to miss him terribly and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”

Before taking up the role at Cartamundi, Steve spent several years at One For Fun (formerly H. Grossman) as strategic account manager. Prior to this, he also worked for A.B.Gee as a national account manager.

David Mordecai, One For Fun CEO, said: “Steve was full of life, fun and laughter, and throughout his illness always tried to beat it and never ever moaned or got depressed in any shape or form. He was an inspiration to us all. He would rather be talking about his time playing football with Wimbledon and the Crazy Gang and having a pint. As his illness worsened, his bravery in how he dealt with it was remarkable. Our hearts go out to his family. He will be sorely missed by his colleagues everywhere, his customers, his friends and most of all his family.”

 

Kim Jung-ju - founder of free-to-play giant Nexon, has died at age 54. Word of Kim's passing comes from The Korea Times, who was informed of his death by a Nexon spokesperson. He apparently died last month in the United States. Nexon did not provide a cause of death in its statement to The Korean Times. It did state that Kim "had been receiving treatment for depression, and we are sad that it seemed to have worsened recently."  Kim founded Nexon in 1994 after graduating from Seoul National University. The developer and publisher grew to be a powerhouse in South Korea's game industry on the back of games like MapleStory, and KartRider. Its recent hits have included Mabinogi and Vindictus.

Nexon is now headquartered in Tokyo under parent company NXC Corp., where it went public on the Japanese Stock Market in 2011.

Kim is survived by his wife and two daughters.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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Worldwide Magazines Weekly Top Stories

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

 

Toy Trade Monthly Issues​​

Adventure Media & Events (US)

aNb Media (US) 

ToyWorld (UK)

  1. From New York to LA …it’s the Friday Blog!

  2. The March edition of Toy World is out now

  3. Sarah Harding appointed senior buyer of toys to Toys R Us UK buying and marketing team

  4. Alan Hassenfeld leads US Toy Foundation campaign for Ukrainian children

  5. Horst Brandstätter Group halts supply of Playmobil to Russia

  6. Wow! Stuff and Aardman introduce MovieMates

  7. Exclusive: Letter from America – Indie toys, the train is full speed ahead

  8. Rubies brings the magic of Encanto to life with new costumes

  9. Mattel unveils Barbie Cutie Reveal

  10. Spin Master renews licensing agreement for DC-inspired toys

ICv2: The Business of Geek Culture (US)

'Adult Silver Dragon' Shimmers for 'D&D Icons of the Realms'
Mount a New 'D&D: Blue Dragon Trophy Plaque' in the Gaming Area
WizKids Unveils Another $399.99 'D&D' Gargantuan Dragon Figure
Ultra PRO Will Release 'Magic: The Gathering Universes Beyond - Warhammer 40,000' Commander Deck Accessories
Wizards of the Coast Prioritizes FLGS 'Magic: The Gathering' Prereleases Over Digital Release
Rolling for Initiative -- 'Magic: The Gathering - Streets of New Capenna,' Comic Relaunches, and Inflation on the Radar
WizKids Unleashes 'Critical Role's' Forge Guardian
Wizards of the Coast Updates 'Magic: The Gathering - Streets of New Capenna' Release and Event Timelines
Renegade Game Studios Unveils 'G.I. Joe Mission Critical'
GTS Distribution Becomes Stonemaier's Sole Distributor for the U.S. Hobby Channel

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

-         LEGO launches its Thor's Hammer set

-         Ty Inc. donates 100% of its profits from the Beanie Babies to help children in Ukraine

-         Super7 Releases Classic Garbage Pail Kids Adam Bomb Action Figure

-         Mattel releases He-Man and Skeletor action figures based on their original concepts