February 3 - 10, 2023
Welcome to Your Weekly News Brief!
Happy Bloomin’ Friday!
I couldn't pick just one meme this week, just like I haven't yet decided which football team I'm rooting for in the Super Bowl! What I do know is that the news we broke last week (below) was SUPER exciting to a lot of people/companies. I would love to hear what YOU think.
Exciting News! Our Inventor/Innovation Conference venue was such an over-the-top success, we’ve been asked to set up a similar venue during LA Toy Fair Week in September (in addition to our November events). Everyone attending – inventors AND retailers, manufacturers, distributors, and others are welcome to join! We will reserve a block of hotel rooms in an all-suites hotel. It will be a dynamite place to host showrooms and meetings, plus, it’s totally on-brand for POP to facilitate the fun of being able to bump into your friends and colleagues at breakfast and evening cocktail receptions!
We will create a directory and map of where all the toy companies are (hotels, offices, the ‘El Segundo Toy Building’, etc.) similar to the old Hong Kong directory, but better! In addition to the companies, we will list the people attending, dates, your calendly scheduling link and POP profile, just like we do for our awesome Inventor Conference Pro Track. All of this will be online just for POP members attending the LA events. Whether you’re an individual or a company, all you need to enjoy all these benefits and get in on a group room rate is a POP profile, which costs less than a pizza! No further cost but to pay for your own hotel room. And… we will, of course, host our LA POP Pub Party as always! Interested? Send me a note! email@example.com
If you don't yet have a POP Profile, get one now! CLICK HERE!
Thank you for reading the Bloom Report. If you can't wait for the news to arrive each Friday, check out the Bloom Report 24/7 News Feed!
"TBR is required reading for: inventors, manufacturers, retailers, marketers, suppliers, absolutely everyone!" - Robert Fuhrer, Founder, NEXTOY
"Love your report - keep up the great work!" -Rick Stringer, SVP, Crayola
"I am a long-time reader and champion of tBR. The quantity of quality articles on so many different aspects of our industry is unmatched and I regularly share and discuss them with my management team as an important business tool." - Jim Engle, President & Founder, Little Kids Inc.
"I don't know anyone in the industry that doesn't read the Bloom Report." -Ken Lewis, President, 4Kidz, Inc.
Columnist Nancy Zwiers
Mind over Matter: Woo Woo or Real?
We all set goals that we want to achieve—a sales goal, a promotion, a new customer, a bigger home, etc. How we go about achieving those goals can vary from person to person. Some use productivity tools; some use to-do lists; some use sheer will. How many of you have tried methods that are designed to leverage the full power of your mind to create the reality you seek? How many of you scoff at the very idea?
We are told to visualize ourselves with the things that we want…as if we already have them.
Research has proven that visualization works, as first demonstrated in a study at the University of Chicago more than 50 years ago. Subjects without basketball experience were divided into three groups and the improvement in their ability to shoot free throws was measured after one month. The first group was told to shoot free throws every day. The second was told to visualize shooting free throws (with no actual hands-on practice). And the third was the control group that did nothing.
As you can guess, the third group-the one that did nothing-did not improve. And, not surprisingly, the first group that practiced daily improved their performance by +20%. Practice makes perfect—true that. Amazingly, though, the second group improved +19% --without ever shooting a free throw! The power of visualization works! And since then, sports coaches the world over include visualization in their work with top athletes. Experts advise us to envision our desired reality in as much vivid detail as possible. READ MORE...
Person of the Week - Jenna Stirling, ASTRA
Recycle Unused Toy and Game Pieces for
Young Inventors Challenge "Prototype Packs"
Are you looking for a fun and creative way to get involved with the Young Inventors Challenge?
The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) and the People of Play (POP) have partnered to bring a 5-session summer camp/after-school club curriculum to retailers and schools nationwide. With the help of the Cary Teen Council, ASTRA and POP aim to inspire the next generation of young inventors with their latest project, the "Prototype Packs."
Jenna Stirling, on behalf of ASTRA has teamed up with the Cary Teen Council, a volunteer service organization made up of dynamic and motivated teenagers from various schools in Cary, NC and its surrounding areas, to assemble these "prototype packs." These packs are designed to be shipped to retailers and schools for their summer camps and after-school clubs, providing children with a fun and educational experience that encourages upcycling, creativity, innovation and invention.
The Prototype Packs include unused toy and game pieces that can be used to create prototypes of new toys and games. We have already secured donations from Tami Murphy of GPI (Grand Prix International), Brian Turtle of Goliath Games and... we welcome many more for those of you looking to clear out your warehouses!
MESH: Strengthen Kid’s Mental Health Through Play
Hear More on Wednesday, Feb 15th, 8pEST/5pPST
MESHhelps.org, a new initiative created by ThinkFun to develop kids’ resiliency and mental health through play, launched its MESH (Mental, Emotional, And Social Health) task force. “We were thrilled to have representation from all areas of the industry (including manufacturing, retail, licensing, and design) as well as educators and therapists.” Rachele Harmuth, Head of ThinkFun said. “We were able to come together and hear how the message of MESH was resonating across all different areas.” The group brainstormed and voted on a list of possible task force objectives for 2023. Over the next month, the MESH Task force will finalize and publish its mission and initiatives for 2023. The group is opened to anyone interested in helping build children resilience through play. For more information or to join, please visit our website at MESHhelps.org and sign up on the contact us page. https://meshhelps.org/contact/
We invite you to join us for a special webinar for care-givers, parents and educators MESH: Strengthen Kid’s Mental Health Through Play Wednesday, Feb 15th, 8pEST/5pPST
Please join Deborah Gilboa, M.D. (Dr. G) as we explore the ways adults can positively impact kids' mental health. This webinar will provide an overview of children and teens' mental health, how these issues are affecting kids’ development, and what you can do to address these concerns, all through play. If you are a parent, care-giver or educator who has been worried about mental health in kids, this webinar is perfect for you to learn about how you can use play to improve Mental, Emotional and Social Health (MESH).
Cartoon of the Week from... Robert Fuhrer,NEXTOY
Did you watch Bob's POPDuo with Tom Fazio, Golf Course Designer? It is 'teed' up HERE!
Backstory on this amusing feature: Bob suggested we add Cartoon of the Week to the Bloom Report and our readers are loving it!
Have a cartoon or a joke to share with your colleagues? Send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org! Can't wait to see what you've got!
Financial and Legal
Amazon Bets On Toy Design Design Studio Superplastic With Cash & First-Look Deal; Series Based On Crazed Janky & Guggimon Characters In The Works. In 1967’s The Graduate, Dustin Hoffman’s fresh out of college Benjamin Braddock is told the future is in plastics. In 2023, Amazon is taking some of that advice to heart and betting some of its future on Superplastic. To be specific, that wager on the snarling character design...
***The above posted after February 10th***
Under New Bill, FL Governor Ron DeSantis Would Take Over Disney World’s Self-Taxing District. How does the current system work? Disney World parks and resorts are currently located in the Reedy Creek Improvement District, established by the company and the state of FL in 1967. Under the terms of that agreement, the Walt Disney Co. taxes itself to pay for and organizes services on its property that would otherwise be...
Mediawan Kids & Family has acquired a majority stake in Wildseed Studios, a UK-based producer of kids and family content. Wildseed’s portfolio of live-action and animated series includes Counterfeit Cat for Disney Channel and The Last Bus (pictured) for Netflix. The company was founded in 2013 by Jesse Cleverly, former BBC Children’s co-pro and acquisitions head, and Aardman alum Miles Bullough.
Bill Gates On Advising OpenAI, Microsoft And Why AI Is ‘The Hottest Topic Of 2023'. n 2020, Bill Gates left the board of directors of Microsoft, the tech giant he cofounded in 1975. But he still spends about 10% of his time at its Redmond, WA headquarters, meeting with product teams, he says. A big topic of discussion for those sessions: artificial intelligence, and the ways AI can change how we work — and how we use Microsoft...
In the US, bipartisan pressure on Google and Apple to ban TikTok in app stores grows. Sen. Michael Bennet, Democrat of CO, called on Apple and Google Thursday to remove TikTok from their app stores because of national security concerns, as bipartisan pressure on the Chinese-owned company escalates. Mr. Bennet, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, sent the chief executives of Apple and Alphabet, Google’s...
Activision Blizzard has agreed to pay $35 million to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for inadequately handling workplace misconduct complaints. The news comes after the company was accused of cultivating a workplace culture that allowed misconduct to flourish, prompting the SEC to begin investigating how it handled misconduct reports such as harassment and discrimination complaints.
Google's Bard AI bot mistake wipes $100bn off shares. Google is searching for ways to reassure people that it is still out in front in the race for the best artificial intelligence technology. And so far, the internet giant seems to be coming up with the wrong answer. An advert designed to show off its new AI bot, showed it answering a query incorrectly. Shares in parent company Alphabet sank more than 7% on Wednesday...
Microsoft deal to buy Activision opposed by UK regulator. The UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has said it is opposed to Microsoft's planned purchase of games developer Activision Blizzard. The CMA said it had provisionally concluded it would result in higher prices, fewer choices and less innovation. The $69bn deal would see Xbox-maker Microsoft acquire hit titles such as Call of Duty and Candy Crush.
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HASBRO CONFIRMS 2022 EARNINGS, REVEALS OUTLOOK FOR ANOTHER CHALLENGING YEAR. Pummeled in Q4 with a 17% decline in year-over-year sales despite earning $1.68 billion in revenue. For the full year, revenue fell 9% to approximately $5.86 billion.
***The above posted after February 10th***
Mattel delivered solid sales results in 2022 despite net sales dropping 22% in the fourth quarter...net sales for the full year hit $5.43 billion, flat when compared to 2021 or up 3% in constant currency.
Searching for Streaming Profit, Disney Cuts $5.5 Billion in Costs. In the company’s first earnings report since Bob Iger returned as C.E.O., it exceeded Wall Street’s expectations. But about 7,000 employees are expected to be laid off.
Sonic Frontiers tops 2.9 million sales in under two months. According to Sega's fiscal report for the nine months ended December 31, 2022, net sales in the Consumer sub-segment of the company's Entertainment Content business increased by 18.3 percent year-on-year to 210.4 billion yen ($1.6 billion).
WildBrain reports Q2 2023 results. Revenue was $140.5 million in Q2 2023, compared to $153.2 million in Q2 2022. YTD 2023 revenue of $267.1 million was consistent with YTD 2022 revenue of $265.8 million.
Activision Blizzard announces Fourth Quarter and 2022 financial results. Activision Blizzard’s net revenues presented in accordance with GAAP were $7.53 billion, as compared with $8.80 billion for 2021.
Disney says Toy Story and Frozen sequels on the way as streaming numbers fall. And Mr Iger said he would cut 7,000 jobs in a major shake-up of the entertainment giant.
The Nintendo Switch has topped 122 million lifetime sales, but year-on-year hardware sales were down by over 20 percent due to component shortages.
Games Workshop reported a sales increase of 3.4% at constant currency to £199.1 million, or about $240 million, in the six-month period...the company remains highly profitable, netting £66.5 million (about $80 million) for the period.
Trends, Market Research, and State of the Industry
Stories, Comments, and Advice
Kidcos are choosing their own interactivity. DreamWorks, Hellosaurus and Gamisodes are crafting their own unique approaches to interactive content to meet kid demand for personalized content that makes them feel a part of brands. Interactive content isn’t new, of course—Black Mirror: Bandersnatch was making headlines five years ago. But interactivity is on the rise in the kids entertainment market, which is...
Never Alone explores five decades of video game history at MoMA. As the world around us becomes more and more integrated with technology, it’s easy to overlook how much our interfaces, and the programs we use, have evolved. From Windows and Mac icons to the ubiquitous power symbol, the design language of interactivity has become refined and ever more invisible.
The importance of LGBTQ+ representation in kids content. Producer and LGBTQ+ advocate David Levine maps out how representation has improved in kids media, which demo needs more content attention, and why allyship matters. Inclusion and LGBTQ+ representation in kids content has been on the rise over the past number of years. However, there are strong cultural headwinds fighting against this direction.
INSIGHTS FROM OVERSEAS: THE TOY BOOK AT SPIELWARENMESSE 2023. Hallo! I attended Spielwarenmesse in Nuremberg, Germany last week for the first time in my 20+ years at The Toy Book, and I’ll never miss one again. Spielwarenmesse, held annually since 1949 (with the exception of 2021-2022), is the largest international toys and games fair in the world. I’ve been told a million times over the years that this show is HUGE...
American Library Association’s Graphic Novels & Comics Round Table has released its 2022 Best Graphic Novels for Adults and Best Graphic Novels for Kids lists. The lists are curated by a committee of library professionals and students, and they cover graphic novels published in the second half of 2021 and all of 2022. The lists include over 100 selections, but the committee also chooses a top ten. Here they are...
***The above posted after February 17th***
John Baulch, Toy World - Toy Fair Season – completed it mate…. It’s the Friday Blog! As I am now back at my desk after a whirlwind couple of weeks, the Blog returns to its traditional Friday slot. Toy Fair Season is now officially over – or at least, the Q1 part of it is. What was once four shows in six or seven weeks has become two shows back to back, with a quick trip to Birmingham Spring Fair to round it off for a few of us...
Debate: Do kids today have more agency than in the past? Kids media experts David Kleeman and Peter Robinson debate about whether kids have more freedom and ability to take action than past generations. With a hat tip to The Who: “The kids are alright.” Today’s young people create games, videos, TikToks, fan art and fiction. Confronted with a pandemic that isolated them from friends, they adopted and adapted digital...
James Zahn, Toy Book, commentary: Beware the Kidults. Adult collectors are not a new thing, but is the buzzworthy kidult toy market sustainable? What will the kidults of 2050 be into? What should toymakers be focused on? The fact that 25% of the U.S. toy market sales are coming from adults buying for themselves shouldn’t be a pat on the back for the industry: it should be a warning.
It has never been easy to capture the attention of teens. It’s not that they don’t like screens—they actually love them the most. In fact, roughly half (46%) of the US teen population (ages 13 to 17) says they’re online constantly, according to a Pew Research survey that was released in August. But getting them to watch your content there is another matter.
John Baulch, Toy World - Like it had never been away… it’s the Nuremblog! It’s been an intense fortnight. After the whirlwind of London Toy Fair the previous week, last week saw the toy community congregate en masse in Nuremberg for Spielwarenmesse. It was the first Nuremberg Toy Fair in three years, but it quickly felt like we had never been away. The buzz we’d felt at London Toy Fair in 2022 when the show returned...
Steve Reece - SPIELWARENMESSE - NUREMBERG TOYFAIR 2023 SHOW REVIEW. What a very great pleasure to be back in Nuremberg after the Covid-19 induced hiatus of the last couple of years! As I write this I am exhausted from the sheer volume of great toy & game people I have met across the last 5 days. From Wednesday until I left on Sunday I had relentless back to back meetings with old friends and strong business...
Back in January’s edition, Generation Media laid out its guiding principles for marketing in a recession. Principle among these was maximizing Share of Voice (SOV) over your competitors, and identifying and focusing on the key battlegrounds for this. The streaming giants Netflix and Disney+, with their new partially ad-funded models, provide the toy industry with a new frontier. As new platforms, they offer...
These new Pokémon cards are making people a fortune. Crown Zenith has proven to be one of the best sets the Pokémon TCG has ever seen. Its celebration of the last three years of Sword & Shield, alongside the best artwork the franchise has ever seen, is making it enormously popular, and highly collectible. Among the mammoth 230 cards in the set, a surprising number have proven to be bringing in the big bucks...
A retailer's guide to the RPG galaxy. The Universe of Science Fiction RPGs Explored. Science fiction RPGs have been on the rise in recent years, as more and more roleplayers look to explore the final frontier as an alternative to fantasy and horror RPGs. The customer interest level in science fiction properties, in general, has been higher lately, primarily due to popular blockbuster movies like Dune and Avatar: The Way of ...
Voice actors reportedly urged to sign voices away to AI companies. Voice actors are becoming increasingly worried about the growing prevalence of AI in the voice acting industry. Speaking to Motherboard, several actors revealed they've been asked to sign their voice rights away so those voices can be used for AI software by other clients. AI voices have gone viral on social media, and it's becoming a larger point of...
History and Nostalgia
Sonny & Cher’s Theatre in the Round from Mego (1977). In 1977, Mego released Sonny & Cher’s Theatre in the Round, a playset featuring the popular entertainment duo. The set brought glamour and drama to playtime, allowing kids to pretend they were part of the Sonny and Cher variety show. Three unique cardboard backdrops were included: two were performance stages, one with an audience...
Land of the Lost from Milton Bradley (1975). Released in 1975 from Milton Bradley, Land of the Lost board game was adapted from the Sid and Marty Krofft science-fantasy television series that ran from 1974-1976. The TV show featured the Marshalls, a modern family that had been accidentally trapped in an alternate universe filled with dinosaurs and other prehistoric inhabitants.
Licensing and Entertainment
EA is reportedly close to signing a £488 million ($588.6 million) licensing deal with the Premier League so it can retain its exclusive electronic game license. According to Sky News, the deal will run for 6 yrs and would allow EA to include Premier League teams–including major clubs like Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea–in video games such as upcoming FIFA...
***the above posted after February 10th***
Paramount and Spin Master have gathered together to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the hit pre-school animation Paw Patrol. Pam Kaufman, president and CEO of International Markets, Global Consumer Products & Experiences at Paramount, said: “We’re incredibly excited to be celebrating 10 years of Paw Patrol with Spin Master Entertainment at our London HQ. This is a momentous occasion that...
Ageless Innovation, a global company devoted to reimagining how we positively live and age together through the power of play, has joined forces with Hasbro to create new gaming experiences specifically for older adults and their families. Ageless Innovation will be the first-ever Hasbro licensee dedicated to enhancing the lives of older adults through classic gameplay.
Cyber Group Studios, a leading producer and distributor of animated series for children and families worldwide, best known for its award-winning preschool show Gigantosaurus, has expanded its relationship with Splash Entertainment, the multi-award-winning children’s entertainment studio, to include exclusive distribution of the co.’s entire catalog of shows, including original Splash series Chloe’s...
CBC Kids has commissioned a second season of 2D-animated series Jeremy and Jazzy, produced by Toronto-based Vérité Films. Aimed at three- to seven-year-olds, the 55 x two-minute show is “composed” of musical shorts that explore various ways music is intertwined with daily life, and how feelings can turn into songs.
Unicorn Entertainment Limited, Tencent Video, along with independent IP creators and distribution company Epic Story Media Inc (ESM) are bubbling-up to launch the newest 3D animated preschool series, Bubble’s Hotel. Created by Korean native, Narae Ha (Rainbow Ruby), and written by Vancouver-based showrunner, Nancy Lees (Slugterra), the show marks the first collaboration between the companies that...
Invisible Universe has partnered with podcast studio Audio Up to develop original music for its recently launched preschool brand My Friend Lovie. Next up, Invisible Universe plans to move the IP into publishing, longer-form content, games and consumer products, according to a release.
Maurizio Distefano Licensing, Italian agent for the hit pre-school shows Bluey, Masha and the Bear and Bing, has highlighted the growing success of all three titles on the leading Italian linear kids’ channel Rai YoYo, its on-demand service Rai Play, and numerous other platforms. In fact, Rai Yoyo has now increased Masha and The Bear’s presence to 11 episodes per day.
MORI – the award-winning sustainable baby and toddler lifestyle brand – has launched a collaboration with the much-loved World of Peter Rabbit in a licensed deal executed by Penguin Ventures on behalf of brand owner and Beatrix Potter publisher, Frederick Warne & Co (now part of Penguin Random House).
Korean animation studio MOSTAPES has teamed up with PGS Entertainment and toyco Aurora World to finance, develop and produce a 2D-animated preschool series showcasing a seemingly evergreen kids TV theme—dinosaurs. Dinosally & Friends featuring the simplistically cute designs and bright colors that characterize all MOSTAPES projects—is about a group of young dinos learning to draw, play music...
Peacock is commissioning two new animated series and renewing a third, continuing its commitment to originals that give its content offering for kids a unique feel. The US streamer has ordered CG-animated series Tea Town Teddy Bears (26 x 11 minutes) from Thailand’s M2 Animation. Rob Hudnut, Mads Munk and Torsten Jakobsen are executive producers on this series for kids ages four to seven about three teddy...
DeAPlaneta Entertainment and Fourth Wall’s award-winning, hit animated pre-school co-production Milo launched on Chinese screens at the end of January via Mango TV. This latest release consolidates the international strategy rolled out for the show, which is already broadcast on four continents, including the UK. Milo is continuing its global expansion with multiple licensing deals, covering several categories...
***the above was posted after tBR started sending***
Burgeoning social media platform Zigazoo is looking to become the first place kids brand owners go to start building an audience. The platform launched in 2020 with an MO that’s all about letting kids ages six to 12 create short videos in which they answer questions, complete challenges or share their passions. In the last year, major players including Nickelodeon, Penguin Random House and NBA have used Zigazoo...
WildBrain has unveiled a new slate of original live-action content coming to Family Channel, Netflix and Italian pubcaster RAI this year. First up is WildBrain’s series I Woke Up a Vampire (pictured, 16 x 22 minutes), produced in association with Netflix. The show follows a 13-year-old half-human, half-vampire’s journey of self-discovery as she navigates school, deals with a vampire hunter, and even takes part in a...
Crayola and TheSoul Publishing (5-Minute Crafts, Bright Side), announces a partnership launching this month to co-produce original branded crafts and DIY digital content for Crayola owned YouTube and social channels. The initiative, which also includes TheSoul Publishing supporting Crayola’s social media strategy, will harness the creativity of Crayola, and combine it with the expertise of 5-Minute Crafts...
Oh Much More Than Bother: This Winnie the Pooh Is Terrifying. When the gentle bear fell into the public domain, a horror director pounced. Glimpses of the low-budget film have enthralled and enraged fans. Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Christopher Robin and other denizens of the Hundred Acre Wood will be back on the big screen this month. Just don’t expect delightful animation, whimsical songs or heartwarming themes...
BUCK has optioned three books from Spanish author/illustrator María Ramos, and plans to develop them into a film and two TV series. Tres Luces, BadBat and Bubble Gum Boy are all illustrated in Ramos’ distinctive art style. BUCK has already started adapting Tres Luces into an animated feature film for kids, and will turn the other two titles into animated TV series.
Sinking Ship Entertainment has signed a deal with Mango Publishing in Miami to release a range of books based on Lopii Productions’ The Fabulous Show with Fay and Fluffy. This 26 x 11-minute preschool series is hosted by drag performers and child educators Fay Slift (JP Kane) and Fluffy Soufflé (Kaleb Robertson). It premiered in Canada last February on WildBrain Television’s Family Jr. channel and features...
Boat Rocker has announced a range of new deals for its rapidly growing Dino Ranch franchise across the Americas. The seven new licensees will significantly extend the number of categories and products available for this dino-might brand. Little rancheroos in the U.S., Canada and Latin America will soon be able to engage with a multitude of new products including jigsaw puzzles, games, hand puppets, party goods...
As Ravensburger welcomes its 140th anniversary and Disney celebrates 100 Years of Wonder, consumers are invited to bring the magic home with a new line of games and puzzles that reflect both companies’ legacies of fun. From games featuring classic Disney animated characters to puzzles with Star Wars-inspired artwork to the debut of trading card game Disney Lorcana – 2023 will be packed with fan-favorite...
Poetic Brands, the leading and innovative apparel licensee, is pleased to announce the launch of its newly developed footwear division. The first signing for this new division is Original Squishmallows – the lovable, ultra-soft, collectible plush phenomenon from Jazwares. Producing children’s footwear and slippers initially, this partnership is the perfect way for Poetic Brands to showcase their new line.
Afro Unicorn and its namesake brand are galloping into entertainment with an expansion from retail shelves to screens of all shapes and sizes. LA-based studio Pure Imagination has teamed up with the company behind the empowerment-led brand to develop and produce a whole range of content for broadcast, digital, theatrical and gaming.
Ladybird acquires Toikido IP Piñata Smashlings. The new “Piñata Smashlings Collector’s Guide” is the first book based on the Piñata Smashlings IP and will publish in November, with a three-year license covering worldwide rights and all languages. With an upcoming “Roblox” game, a series of animated shorts, music, a suite of toys, collectibles, trading cards, plush and playsets all scheduled for release this summer...
Asmodee, Libellud plan Dixit Disney game for fall. The wonderful world of Disney is coming to the Dixit Universe. Asmodee and board game publisher Libellud revealed plans to release Dixit Disney this fall. The standalone game will incorporate characters and themes from Disney and Pixar films into the Dixit gameplay. The game involves storytelling, interpretation, and guesswork …
Renegade Game Studios expands board game partnership with Hasbro further. Renegade Game Studios has expanded their partnership with Hasbro further by adding Sid Sackson's Acquire to their publishing catalog. Renegade continues to place more Hasbro board games under their publishing umbrella, after recently bringing in Axis & Allies, Diplomacy, and others. This time, Renegade snapped up Acquire...
People of Play
London-based Two Daughters Entertainment has hired former Hasbro exec Finn Arnesen as its first-ever COO. Arnesen started in his new post last mo., and is responsible for creative/commercial strategy, driving revenue growth and original IP oversight. He reports to CEO and founder James Reatchlous, who set up Two Daughters last year to manage and expand on the success of his CG-animated series Moley.
Toy designer Jim Swearingen will join the Rotary Club of Florence on Feb. 13 to share an overview of his career with Kenner Products, working on products such as the Star Wars toy line, Easy Bake Oven, and PlayDoh. Swearingen was born and grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and as a child spent many Saturdays taking art lessons at the Cleveland Art Museum, and later in high school the Cleveland Art Academy. With the encouragement of his high school art teacher, he was led to the five-year professional practice program at the University Of Cincinnati.
***the above posted after February 10th***
Vivid Goliath has announced that its senior brand manager, Chloe Burrowes, has been promoted to marketing controller, a new position within the company’s UK Marketing team. Chloe will be responsible for the Toys and Games portfolio as the company looks to launch into new aisles this year including Nursery with Modimi and DIY kits with Woodworx, as well as strengthen its expanding games portfolio into Crime...
Maestro Media has promoted Lucy Martinez and hired Daryl Andrews, Jon Gilmor, and Bobby West. Maestro Media is the makers of The Binding of Isaac games, including Four Souls Requiem, which raised $6.7 million from 47,854 backers on Kickstarter in July 2021 (about $140 per backer). Lucy Martinez rises from her position as Maestro's Marketing Director to become Vice President of Global Marketing.
France’s Banijay Group is expanding its leadership team with the hire of veteran M&A exec Stéphane Préfol to head up this side of its growth strategy. Starting March 6, Préfol will work on M&A planning across Banijay’s business units, including Kids & Family, which is led by CEO Benoit Di Sabatino. He will be based in Paris and reports to Marco Bassetti (CEO) and Cédric Brignon (CFO).
Toy industry veteran Evelyn Mazzocco has been named General Manager – New Brands at Just Play. In her new role, Mazzocco leads a Los Angeles-based team that is focusing on the company’s product development, branding, packaging, and engineering with an eye on developing original, owned intellectual property (IP). With more than 20 years of experience, Mazzocco previously served as GM of Barbie at Mattel...
YuMe is expanding its leadership ranks with eyes on future growth. The maker of toys and collectibles tapped Carson Murray to serve as its new NA VP. Murray joins the company from Funko, and previously held roles at Kroeger Inc., The Wilko Group, and Dynatech Action. Mariano Hernandez has joined YuMe as VP for the Central and South American markets. YuMe’s parent organization has appointed Keren Cheung...
PRINCESS SAM ENTERTAINMENT GROUP APPOINTS LAURENT TAIEB TO MANAGE LICENSING FOR TARA DUNCAN. Tara Duncan is a brand that’s seen success already, with a long publishing history of novels by Sophie Audouin-Mamikonian and an animated tv series that aired from 2010 to 2011. Now, a new 3D-animated series from Princess Sam Pictures has been released, and with it comes the opportunity to license toys...
At the 72nd Spielwarenmesse international trade fair this week, Asmodee USA formally introduced Julien Sharp as its new GM and Country Manager for the U.S. market. Sharp joins the co. from Spin Master where she most recently served as Head of U.S. Marketing for the Games, Plush, and Outdoor businesses. She founded Funnybone Toys, which was sold to Foxmind Games in 2017, and then led int'l business...
Rachel Marcus joins FableVision’s rebranded film and TV unit. At Moonladder, she'll work with VP of creative Tone Thyne to develop and produce aspirational content with learning goals. Having spent the past several years expanding into games and audio, educational content studio FableVision is now making a concerted push in the TV and film space with a new recruit and a rebranded division.
Nickelodeon has revealed the names of 12 emerging writers and animation designers from the US who will be joining its annual writing and artist programs this year. The four selected writers are: Paige Elson, a Black queer writer and actor; Michelle Miyoko Timm, who specializes in improv and sketch comedy; and Bryan Smith and Mayanna Berrin, who specialize in comedy writing and perform as a duo. READ MORE...
Andrew Gumpert, a senior exec at Paramount, is leaving after more than five years with the company. Kidscreen has confirmed that the business operations veteran is stepping down from his role as COO of Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Studios. The news was shared with Paramount and Nick staff via a memo from CEO and president Brian Robbins saying that Gumpert has decided to leave the role and pursue...
Aldo Ghiozzi leaves Impressions. Impressions founder Aldo Ghiozzi has left Impressions Game Distribution Services, now owned by Flat River Group, as of the end of January, the company announced, with the Flat River hobby department continuing to consolidate process, price list, and catalog. Toy and game distributor Flat River acquired Impressions in 2018, its first entry into the hobby channel.
Companies and Brands
Genius Brands International is harnessing AI tech as a primary resource for Kidaverse Fast Facts, a new educational series of two-minute shorts. Targeting kids ages four to 11, the series centers on three smart kids—History Henry, Science Sally and Sporty Steve—who impart bite-sized knowledge on a variety of subjects.
‘Transformers: Rise Of The Beasts’ Trailer Drops During Super Bowl With Mirage Making Debut. The trailer for Paramount’s Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, the latest installment of the franchise based on the Hasbro toy line. Steven Caple Jr directs the new pic, which hits theaters June 9. The plot is driven by a ‘90s globetrotting adventure with the Autobots and introduces a new breed of Transformer – the Maximals – to the...
Following years of success in developing toys inspired by Jurassic World, Mattel is bringing another dinosaur back into toy depts around the world. Barney is being prepped for a major comeback as Mattel promises “a comprehensive revitalization of the Barney brand” that will begin next year with the debut of an all-new animated series. From there, the Barney relaunch will extend beyond TV and across film, YouTube...
Fun in Motion Toys is adding even more designs to the Shashibo Puzzle Cubes. The Shashibo Puzzle Cubes feature 36 internal magnets and can be manipulated to create new shapes including cubes, pyramids, and more. Each move reveals new patterns and images as the user folds, unfolds, and shapes the cube. This yr, Fun in Motion Toys added 2 new lines of Shashibo Puzzle Cubes to its collection: the Holographic Series...
Aqua Dragons by World Alive has announced the release of a new animated video, a celebration of 10 years of Aqua Dragons and the love that families have shown for these unique and educational pets. The video features a catchy song and animation, created by @dakotasheperd and @hopscotch, that will engage and educate kids about the life cycle of Aqua Dragons.
Wham-O, the company known for classics such as the Frisbee, is celebrating 75 years of toy-making. Wham-O got its start in 1948, initially selling slingshots and similar toys. Now, the company represents a number of household toy brands such as Frisbee, Slip N Slide, Hula Hoop, Hacky Sack, and more.
Melissa & Doug – recharging imaginations. Catching up with Fernando, and Francisco Anselmi, managing director International, at UK Toy Fair – Fernando’s first visit after taking up the role three years ago – Toy World heard how Melissa & Doug is raising its brand awareness, particularly in the UK, where the company says it “started getting serious” in 2009. The company launched just over 30 years ago, with int'l expansion starting...
The Lego Group, which took the top spot in Superbrand’s list of favourite UK brands in 2019 and 2018, has narrowly missed out to to luxury watchmaker Rolex, coming in in a very respectable second place this year. The results of the 2022/23 survey place Lego ahead of electronics giant Samsung, payment option Mastercard, and tech manufacturer Apple, which complete the Top 5.
Toys for Tots had a record-breaking year for its 75th anniversary in 2022. The U.S. Marine Corps’ premiere community action program distributed 24.4 million toys, books, and games to a record 9.9 million kids last year. There were local collection and distribution campaigns in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands.
Carrera is celebrating 60 years of designing slot car races this year. Carrera sets vary across car types and themes, with police chases, race car races, and licensed racing sets from a variety of popular brands. The company focuses on both kids and “kidult” racing fans. The Carrera First sets are designed for younger slot car fans, with sets appropriate for kids as young as 3.
Mattel Makes A Play For Collectors With Super Bowl Little People. At the Super Bowl on Sunday, quarterbacks Jalen Hurts and Patrick Mahomes will be competing for more than titles and championship rings. They also will be battling for a chance to see themselves immortalized as Fisher-Price Little People figures. Mattel is using its Mattel Creations special edition platform to give fans a chance to order collectors sets...
***the above posted after tBR started running on February 10th***
Goliath Group inked a licensing deal with Barry & Jason Games & Entertainment for Game Night in a Can. Based on popular segments from Barry McLaughlin and Jason Lautenschleger’s live touring comedy game show, Game Night in a Can features 35 creative and physical challenges. Some of the most beloved challenges include Just Say Noah, where people are tasked with creating new animal species, and...
KidStuff PR offers a unique and targeted approach to publicity, promotions, and creating a buzz. Recently, the agency has mentored and sought out partnerships with influencers who are families of color to diversify the life experiences of influencers who review clients’ products. This aspect of the agency’s influencer portfolio and the relationships it has built appealed to Fireside Games. The world of toy influencing has been...
From 10th February 2023, Harry Potter fans in Dubai and beyond will have the opportunity to experience The Wizarding World Shop by Fandom at Mall of the Emirates in Dubai. Activities for Harry Potter fans of all ages will be offered during the opening event, including the chance to win prizes, take part in contests, play games and take advantage of numerous photo opportunities.
Kids and Kidults Flock to the New Crazy Aaron’s “Crazy Creator” Experience at the World-Famous FAO Schwarz. As Crazy Aaron’s embarks on its 25th anniversary in 2023, the company takes dough and putty play to a whole new level thanks to “Crazy Creator,” a brand-new play experience at the world-famous FAO Schwarz toy store at Rockefeller Center in New York City.
MAINFRAME STUDIOS CELEBRATES 30 YEARS OF MAKING LIFE MORE ANIMATED. Vancouver-based Mainframe Studios opened its doors in 1993 and quickly made an impact. The company produced ReBoot (1994), the first completely CG-animated TV series; the toon-shaded Spider-Man: The New Animated Series (2003) a decade later for MTV; and ReBoot: The Guardian Code (2018),
ChizSix Marketing & Media and AKCO are entering the Wooshi World. Toshiverse Labs added the two companies to its roster of key consultants as it prepares to build its Wooshi World brand beyond the metaverse and into a world of phygital play. According to Toshiverse, there are currently 11,111 Wooshi “running loose and causing chaos.” They are unique in color, personality, and appearance, and...
Sean Clarke of Aardman Animations has warned that production may have to move overseas as the UK lags behind on skills and tax relief. Speaking to The Guardian, the head of the Oscar-winning British studio behind Wallace and Gromit and Shaun the Sheep has warned that future animation productions for children’s television may have to be made overseas, as acute challenges take their toll on the UK sector.
Amazon is reported to be looking at subletting some UK warehouses as it halts plans for growth. The online retailer was previously aiming to open more warehouse space across the UK as it capitalises on online spending. Retail Gazette has reported that instead, Amazon is looking to sublet its UK warehouses as it halts growth plans following its worst annual loss on record.
KidStuff Public Relations founder Lisa Orman announced that Little Kids, Inc and World of EPI (Entertainment, Publishing and Inspiration) have retained KidStuff PR as their agency of record. Both beloved and respected brands will now have KidStuff PR handle its media, social and influencer relations, effective Jan. 2023. In addition, small businesses Fireside Games and FluffyWeight are joining as clients ...
Gather your friends and couples for a fun date night with University Games’ new Rom Com Game, a trivia game that’s all about the perfect pairs, romantic one-liners and famous on-screen relationships from popular Romantic Comedy movies. The charmingly-entertaining new Rom Com Game arrives just in time for Valentine’s Day this year. Craig Hendrickson, SVP Product Development at University Games, said, “Rom Com...
Hot Wheels has revealed a new game that allows players to create the ultimate digital racing track right at home. Velan Studios and Mattel are launching Hot Wheels: Rift Rally, a new mixed reality racing experience. The game presents a unique Hot Wheels experience by combining the excitement of an AAA racing game with Velan’s R/C mixed reality tech. Players can get behind the wheel of their favorite Hot...
Spin Master recently released the Rubik’s Re-Cube as part of its “Playsponsible” initiative to manufacture toys that are as environmentally conscious as they are fun. The Re-Cube is a first-of-its-kind 3×3 Rubik’s toy made from 100% recycled ABS plastic. On top of that, the cube’s packaging is made from completely recycled cardboard, giving it the sustainability stamp of approval by the FSC.
Roylco is enhancing problem solving, critical thinking, and creativity in a fun way with its new line of educational toys. The co.’s new STEAM product line features nine new toys, ranging from a sensory bin to coding gems. These STEM and STEAM-focused products also come with play guides that will instruct children through a collection of color-coded easy, medium, and difficult activities.
LEGO Friends, the LEGO brand designed for kids ages 6-12, is getting a new show on YouTube. LEGO is aiming to make the brand more inclusive, featuring new characters who struggle with anxiety, learning, social skills, ADHD, and more. One character, Autumn, was born with only one arm. There are characters from different countries, including Zac, who is African-French; Olly, who is British; and Leo, who is Mexican.
Hess Corp.’s My Plush Hess Truck line is expanding. For the fourth release in its plush collection geared toward babies, toddlers, and kids of all ages, Hess turned to a seafaring vessel: a tugboat. The huggable plush toy comes gift-wrapped in a collector-friendly box and features squeeze-activated flashing LED lights, two sing-along songs, an auto shutoff nightlight, silent mode, and an engine stack that little hands can easily grab.
Schylling has launched its new seasonal collection with Valentine’s Day NeeDoh designs that are set to be followed by seasonal drops throughout the year. NeeDoh Squeeze Hearts is a line with four printed phrases in four colors. The second offering, NeeDoh Heartstrings, is a brand new product that comes in giftable boxes with “To” and “From” tags. With Easter on the horizon, Schylling is gearing up to release NeeDoh...
Gears Of War: The Card Game' headed to U.S. retail. Steamforged Games will release Gears of War: The Card Game, based on the popular video game series, into U.S. retail on April 10, 2023. In this one-on-one card game, players build a deck and go to battle as either the COG forces or the Locust horde. The game takes place across multiple chapters, where the results of each chapter influence what comes next.
Renegade Game Studios reveals two new 'G.I.Joe' expansions. Renegade Game Studios revealed two new G.I. Joe expansions, one for the board game and one for the deck-building game, which are now on preorder. G.I. Joe: Mission Critical - Chaos Break Expansion features the Dreadlocks and Cobra boss Zartain. It also adds two new Joe heroes and two new lieutenants to the mix.
Ares Games takes 'Quartermaster General' to the 'East Front'. Ares Games revealed Quartermaster General: East Front, a new two-player strategy game, for release into retail in August 2023. This two-player Quartermaster General game is an in-depth, card-driven simulation the battle between the Soviet Union and Germany during World War II.
Space Marines, Chaos prepare for boarding actions in new 'Warhammer 40,000' boxed sets. The Arks of Omen: Balefleet Battleforce and the Boarding Patrol: Space Marines boxed sets for Warhammer 40,000 will be released by Games Workshop on February 11. The Arks of Omen: Balefleet Battleforce features a full Chaos fighting force, ready to ravage the galaxy in Abaddon’s name.
Race through Waterdeep in Wizkids' new 'Dungeon Scrawlers'. WizKids is offering its second Dungeons & Dragons: Dungeon Scrawlers board game, Heroes of Waterdeep in April. In this second installation in the Dungeon Scrawlers series, the players become heroes in the storied city of Waterdeep, racing their way through a variety of mazes in search of fame and fortune.
Schleich takes holistic approach to sustainabilty. Dr Philipp Hummel, head of Sustainability at Schleich, tells Toy World more about the company’s recently announced promise to make all its figurines either recyclable or biodegradable by 2027, how packaging plays a big role in Schleich’s plastic reduction goals, and why a commitment to the planet aligns with the company’s ethos.
Gaming: Digital, Video, Hardware, and Development
Hogwarts Legacy has got off to a very big start at UK games retail, and is comfortably the No.1 game of the week (GfK data). It is the biggest launch for any Harry Potter game ever, with sales 64% higher than the previous best -- Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone from 2001. In fact, the biggest week for a Harry Potter game wasn't a launch week at all, it was the second week of the Philosopher’s Stone...
***The above posted after Febuary 10th***
15 games have already been killed, and 2023 just began. We’re barely one-twelfth of the way through 2023 and a surprising number of games are already about to get killed off, as devs have announced their impending deaths. Normally, we’d reserve this list for the end-of-the-year round-up, but we’re ringing the death knell early because, with 15 games already lined up for public execution, we need to start paying our respects now. So, let’s get right into it: From Apex Legends Mobile to Rumbleverse, here are some games that are being shut down.
Highlighted Press Releases
Trade Show Ventures, run by Christine and Alan Blumberg, have partnered with industry veteran, Lea Culliton, former president of HABA and Chairman of the ABC Kids Expo, to create the North East Toy Show (NETS), designed to bring manufacturers, retailers, buyers and key accounts together in Feb., where there is a void in Northeast trade shows. NETS will run from Feb. 11-February 13, 2024 in Springfield, MA.
Grand Prix International and Floship Collaborate for Efficient Crowdfunding Fulfillment. A Collaboration Between the Two Companies Allows Ease of Fulfillment Leading to Fewer Delays and Cost Savings. [Springfield, MA], February 14, 2023 –Grand Prix International (GPI) and Floship have joined their collective expertise to provide toy and game companies a friction-free shipping process to crowdfunding backers. The ability to ship products from Southeast Asia, where manufacturing occurs, to backers anywhere in the world saves both time and money.
WITH DIVERSITY ALL AROUND US, FRESH FAIRIES EVOKE A NEW TALE WITH THEIR AUTHENTIC BANTU KNOTS, PUFF BALLS, HEAD WRAPS & AFROS Say Hello To 3” Fairies Ambrosia, Bella Rose, Merri, Sugar Bae & Sunny Arriving March 2023 At Target, Target.com, Walmart.com and Amazon. San Diego, CA (February 13, 2023) — Doll maker World of EPI reimagines winged pixies and fairies from folklore with the Fresh Fairies ($6.99). Each of the collection’s 3” tall dolls have been created with the same tender care and attention to detail as all of the award-winning Fresh Dolls’ brand that spotlights ethnicities from around the world — and in our neighborhoods. These whimsical fairies have the sweetest facial expressions, adorable poses, plus authentic Bantu Knots, Puff Balls, Head Wraps, Afros and Afro Puffs hairstyles.
LITTLE KIDS INC. & WORLD OF EPI HOP ON KIDSTUFF PR’S CAROUSEL AS AGENCY OF RECORD. Thousand Oaks, CA (February 8, 2023) — KidStuff Public Relations founder Lisa Orman announced today that Little Kids, Inc. and World of EPI (Entertainment, Publishing and Inspiration) have retained KidStuff PR as their agency of record. Both beloved and respected brands will now have KidStuff PR handle its media, social and influencer relations, effective January 2023. In addition, small businesses Fireside Games and FluffyWeight are joining as clients in February 2023.
***The above posted after Febuary 10th***
GOBLINS, TROLLS & ORCS ARE NO MATCH FOR PRESCHOOLERS AS THEY DEFEND THE CASTLE IN JR. VERSION OF POPULAR COOP BOARD GAME My First Castle Panic Already A Winner of Tillywig Parents’ Favorite Product, Hot Diggity, #1 Best Board Games For 3-Year-Olds By Dad Suggests. If knowledge is power then little ones will never be bothered by monsters under the bed after a playing a round of My First Castle Panic ($24.95). Preschoolers are introduced to Goblins, Orcs and Trolls who wish to storm the castle they erect atop a sturdy board game. In this not-too-scary round of play, tots meet monsters and strategize to dump them in the dungeon (aka bottom of the game box) in this colorful coop board game that runs about 20 minutes.
Safety and Counterfeiting
Urgent warning to Irish parents as two children’s toys sold on Amazon and Shein recalled. Irish parents are being warned to keep two toys away from children after they were recalled. One of the toys was sold on popular retail website Shein and the other was sold by Amazon. The 1pc Bear Design Pet Plush Toy, sold on Shein has been recalled.
Toxic gaming tackled by Ubisoft's unique police alert system. Rape jokes, racism, bullying - if you've picked up a controller, or scrolled a mouse, to dabble in some online gaming then you've likely come across plenty. The gaming industry, like others where people interact online, has been trying to figure out how to get to grips with behaviour like this for years.
Setting the standard: How LEGO ensures its toys are child-proof and cybersecure. An unsung hero of everyday life - standards underpin the safety of just about everything we buy and use - from food or medical devices to toys. The LEGO Group tests not only the physical properties of its famous bricks but also the cybersecurity issues with its growing catalogue of connected toys.
Associations, Shows, Awards, Events, and Festivals
IP creation and innovation topline Kidscreen Summit day one. Delegates were moved to laughter, tears and business inspiration as first-day speakers stormed the stage at Kidscreen Summit 2023. There’s no “i” in team, but there were plenty of them at Kidscreen Summit on Monday, as innovation, intentionality and improvisation emerged as the themes of the day.
KidsOut helps child victims of abuse who have had to leave home for the safety of a refuge with nothing except the clothes on their backs. This year’s Toy Fair welcomed back KidsOut as the show’s charity partner for the end-of-show Trolley Dash for the sixth year running. The Trolley Dash once again marked the end of a successful Toy Fair, with exhibitors kindly donating 5,000 toys and games to the KidsOut...
UK Autumn Fair, which will take place from the 3rd–6th September 2023, sees the launch of Connect @ Autumn Fair. Endorsed by leading UK retailers, the organisers say this is a transformational new approach to buying, designed to revolutionise the traditional trade show model by connecting retailers and brands on a scale never achieved before.
***the above posted after Februrary 10th***
Konami Digital Entertainment B.V. has announced plans for the Yu-Gi-Oh! World Championship 2023, the prestigious international tournament that determines the world’s Top Duelists in three categories. Following the global events of recent years, the return will mark the first time the tournament is to be held since 2019. Konami currently plans to hold the Yu-Gi-Oh! World Championship 2023 this August in Japan.
Licensing Expo, the annual event dedicated to licensing and brand extension, has announced that registration is live for this year’s show, taking place from June 13th-15th in Las Vegas. Organized by Informa Markets and sponsored by Licensing International, the event brings together thousands of leading retailers and manufacturers to discover the widest range of brands available for license globally.
Licensing International, the leading trade association for the $315+ billion global brand licensing industry, announced that the recently formed Licensing International Sustainability Committee will launch a webinar series slated to run through 2023. The series will share sustainability best practices and drive forward goals to reduce the corporate carbon footprint and implement Environmental, Social, and ...
Spielwarenmesse organisers “very happy with this positive result, which at close to pre-pandemic levels has exceeded our expectations.” Across the five days, a total of 58,000 retailers and buyers from 128 countries visited the Spielwarenmesse. This represents a drop of 8%, due largely to the absence of guests from China and Russia. (Further in article - there were 2100+ exhibitors from 69 countries)
Gen Con Trade Day adds exhibit area for 2023. Gen Con has added an exhibit area, the Trade Day Marketplace, to its Gen Con Trade Day event, the organizers announced. The exhibit space will be used by game publishers, manufacturers, and distributors who will display and sell games and other products for retail stores, libraries, and classrooms.
RIP - Rest in Play - Remembering Those that have Passed
John Sepenuk - more information to come
Dave Hollis, Former Disney Distribution Exec, Dies at 47. He led the studio's theatrical distribution operation from 2011-18, playing a key role in the 'Avengers' series and the relaunch of the 'Star Wars' franchise. A charismatic executive, Hollis led theatrical distribution at Disney from 2011-18 during an unprecedented winning streak for the studio. He played a key role in the relaunch of the Star Wars franchise, as well as the Avengers series, Frozen and Ryan Coogler’s blockbuster superhero film Black Panther (2018).
During Hollis’ tenure, Disney experienced unprecedented box office growth, in 2016 becoming the first studio to cross the $7 billion mark in global ticket sales in a given year.
Hollis surprised many in 2018 when he announced he was leaving Disney to relocate his family to Texas to run his then-wife Rachel Hollis’ company, home of podcasts, conferences and TV shows. Rachel Hollis is an author, motivational speaker and social influencer.
He revealed in his 2020 self-help book, Get Out of Your Own Way, that he had found himself morose, at odds with his wife and drinking too much toward the end of his Disney tenure. “There is something unbelievably liberating about owning the truth of my experience,” he told The Hollywood Reporter at the time.
The following year, he wrote a second self-help book, Built Through Courage: Face Your Fears to Live the Life You Were Meant For, that chronicled his difficult, public divorce and personal reckoning.
He most recently published the children’s book Here’s to Your Dreams and had a podcast, Rise Together. He was a large part of an online fitness and transformation community with his partner Heidi Powell called Get Fit.
Denni Rivette - A Tribute from Steve Rehkemper: A Vietnam Veteran and a toy industry veteran, Denni Rivette, passed away in Hong Kong on January 20, 2023 at the age of 80. Denni was a gifted illustrator and product designer throughout his long career which started in the 70's at Marvin Glass and Associates where he created many playful products, one of which has endured the test of time and is still sold today, the Hot Lips Telephone. After leaving Marvin Glass in the early 80's, Denni started a design consultancy in Chicago where he worked for many toy and consumer products companies. One of his earliest independent playthings was called Glazers, a squirtgun built into sunglasses. In the 90's Denni moved to Hong Kong to work for Tai Nam Industrial Co Ltd where he designed a continuous stream of toys across all categories for countless customers until he retired in 2007. Denni is survived by his wife Tammy Leung and was an extremely happy fun loving person until just days before his passing.
Julian Page passed away suddenly on January 3rd. Julian spent over 25 years in the toy industry, holding a variety of positions with Hasbro, Mega Brands and Mattel. Most recently, he has been working as National Account manager at VTech, a role he held for over six years.
At just 54 years old, Julian leaves his wife Vicky and two daughters, whom he often referred to as his ‘Three Page Girls’.
Julian was a great personality and was well respected, not just within the companies he worked at, but by all his customers past and present, his colleagues at VTech and his many friends within the UK toy trade and around the world.
A keen Coventry City supporter and avid golfer, Julian could often be found taking part in toy trade golf functions. As well as being a regular supporter of these charity events, he was the proud winner of the BTHA golf day in 2019.
On the Tuesday evening of London Toy Fair, friends and acquaintances came together to raise a glass in Julian’s memory, a gathering which close friend Tony Mace described as “a great turnout” which highlighted what a wonderful industry the toy trade is. “Julian would have been so proud of the respect he had from all his friends,” added Tony.
VTech Sales director, Graham Canning, commented: “Julian will be missed greatly and remembered dearly.”
The funeral will be held on Friday 10th February at St Johns Church, Warwick Road, Kenilworth, CV8 1HY at 1.00pm, and all are welcome.
The family has asked that mourners dress smartly (Julian loved his suits) and wear a splash of sky blue for his love of Coventry City. Family flowers only are requested, although those that wish can make a donation to a fundraising page here.
The family has started raising money for a charity very close to Julian’s heart, acknowledging his lifetime as an avid fundraiser. Julian was diagnosed with having type 2 diabetes back in 2015, then discovered he had type 1 in 2017. Diabetes was a contributing factor to his passing, and the family would like to raise as much as possible for Diabetes UK, in Julian’s memory, to help raise awareness and knowledge around this debilitating disease
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News Flash: Forbidden Jungle Announced, High Score Coming Soon
Gamewright has announced the next game in their Forbidden line, KOSMOS has a new dice game coming this Spring, and Calico receives a digital adaptation.
Video of the Week
Azhelle Wade Interviews Joe Barron at
the Chicago Toy and Game Fair!
How Mentorship Helped This Start-Up Game Company Thrive
The games company Gray Matter Games is devoted to creating games that support brain health. In this interview Joe shares the story of how he started his games company with the help of a mentorship program and college students! Joe Barron continues to share what he looks for in a great game, how he worked with college students to develop one of his most recent games, and how play-testing led his team to make his game more accessible to those who are deaf or hard of hearing. When asked what’s next for Gray Matter Games, Joe shared his interest in developing games that help players connect with family members suffering with Alzheimer's or games that are that are neuro-diverse and focused on improving our mental health. If you want advice on using mentorship programs to jumpstart your game company like Joe did, this is an interview you can’t afford to skip!
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