February 4 - 11 2022
Welcome to Your Weekly News Brief!
Happy Bloomin’ Friday!
Connolly's Pub Night is on and everybody is welcome! We can't be in person, but we are not letting that stop us! The party is free, but PLEASE RSVP so we know how many Zoom Rooms to set up.
I'm sure most of you have heard about the woman held hostage and rescued because of Wordle. Well, she is my friend and brave neighbor right across the street. I have a more detailed post on facebook and her story went viral. Josh Wardle, the inventor of Wordle, sent me a note saying he was happy to hear Denyse was alright.
Thank you for reading the Bloom Report.
Person of the Week
Elliot Rudell, Inventor of Upwords, WetHead, Geo Trax and More,
Talks about the Journey
Elliot has been in the toy industry more than 50 years, beginning his career at Mattel Toys and then (crazily and without much of a clue) early-deciding to launch out on his own as an independent product designer and then inventor. Rudell Design LLC has been in business since 1975.
What exactly do you do in the industry?
I’m a toy and game inventor, a salesman (to our clients, although it took me years to admit that), an in-and-out-of-closet seat-of-my-pants attorney (as I’ve written and negotiated most of our license agreements and most of our 167 patents), and a professional pest (to our clients) when I believe in something.
Why and how did you get into the Toy and Game industry?
Senior year at Pratt Institute my excessively-too-insane lifestyle exhausted my more than sufficient college scholarships and drove me to the college career placement office, where the very next day a job notice came in seeking “an industrial designer with a whimsical graphic flair”. READ MORE . . .
Financial and Legal
ACTIVIST HEDGE FUND URGING HASBRO TO SPIN OFF WOTC Says Would Double Value of the Companies. Alta Fox Capital Management LLC, which owns 2.5% of Hasbro’s stock, is sending a letter to Hasbro stockholders urging a spinoff of Wizards of the Coast, which it argues would be worth as much as all of Hasbro on its own, potentially doubling the value for Hasbro shareholders, WSJ reports. Hasbro’s market cap is currently around $13 billion.
The ongoing shortage of video game hardware, including Sony’s Playstation 5, Microsoft X|S, and the Nintendo Switch is fueling a ripple effect of sales declines at retail as consumers hold back on gaming purchases as they await fresh shipments of new hardware. According to The NPD Group, consumer spending across video game hardware, content, and accessories declined 2% in January when compared to a year ago...
Reports suggest Studio Retail Group to call in administrators. The group reported a surplus stockholding in January, and said it is in need of additional working capital funding while the excess inventory is sold through. Studio Retail Group requested a short-term loan of £25m from its lending banks to fund the surplus stockholding, which it said it believed would be sufficient to enable it to sell through the stock.
***the above posted after February 11th***
Moonbug Entertainment Ltd., has announced the acquisition of Little Angel, one of the fastest-growing kids channels on YouTube. The Little Angel Network, which houses Little Angel and Little World, boasts more than 88 million subscribers on YouTube globally. Since 2019, the brand has seen its global viewership double. Moonbug plans to grow Little Angel exponentially by investing in content, expanding distribution...
Cyber Group Studios has bought a majority stake in Italian animation studio Graphilm Entertainment, just two weeks after acquiring UK-based prodco A Productions. Cyber Group and Graphilm are already co-producing two animated kids series together—action-comedy Alex Player, which has been commissioned by France Télévisions and Italian pubcaster RAI, and a new 2D-animated show called In the Middle.
SPIN MASTER SELLS OUTDOOR MANUFACTURING OPERATION, SELECT BRANDS TO COMFORT RESEARCH. The company also acquired select product lines from Spin Master’s outdoor portfolio including the Swim Noodle and Aquaria brands that were previously sold under Spin Master’s SwimWays label.
Aussie Government Floats SVOD Content Requirements. Australia’s free-to-air TV business took a hit when many advertisers curtailed their spend during the pandemic, and this led to the government scrapping its quotas for children’s content, in turn making it harder for producers to make homegrown kids shows.
TikTok says it will strengthen policies in effort to prevent spread of hoaxes and dangerous challenges. TikTok announced Tuesday that it will strengthen efforts to regulate dangerous content, including harmful hoaxes and content that promotes eating disorders and hateful ideologies. The platform plans to use creators to spread awareness of negative hoaxes, broaden the scope of banned eating disorder...
Nacon acquires Edge of Eternity developer Midgar Studio. French publisher Nacon has acquired Edge of Eternity developer Midgar Studio for an undisclosed fee. Formed in 2008, Midgar cut its teeth co-developing parkour title, Hover, before spending the next seven years working on its ode to JRPGs old and new, Edge of Eternity. Nacon explained it purchased Midgar in a bid to "add new expertise to its portfolio...
Facebook and Google stocks have diverged, and the reason is Apple. While Facebook is in the midst of its biggest stock drop ever and is trading at an 18-month low, Google remains near a record and has easily outperformed all of its Big Tech peers over the past year. The difference is Apple. Google and Facebook are the two dominant online ad companies in the U.S. and have been for years.
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Strong Q4 performance from Paramount+ (which added 7.3 million new global subscribers this quarter, bringing it up to 32.8 million), annual revenue growth of 84% for its direct-to-consumer (DTC) business in 2021.
***the above posted after February 11th***
Wizards of the Coast booked $952 million in tabletop game sales in 2021, powering the co. to over $1 billion in total sales (incl. digital)
Future Financial Reporting
Trends and Market Research
***the above posted after February 11th***
Stories, Comments, and Advice
Can an AI be properly considered an inventor? Several years ago, I wrote a piece titled “How AI and copyright would work.” As I looked over the state of several interesting questions at the intersection of artificial intelligence and copyright at that time, my bottom line was pretty simple: If the copyright laws and regulations required a work to contain the expression of a human person, then that body of law (especially the text...
***The above posted after February 11th***
A missing game of Wordle helps end a 17-hour hostage ordeal. A Chicago grandmother was rescued from a 17-hour hostage ordeal after police were alerted for the unlikeliest of reasons: a missing solution to the day's Wordle challenge. Denyse Holt, 80, was alone at home in Illinois on 5 February when a naked and mentally ill suspect entered her home. Her daughter in faraway Seattle noticed something was amiss when Ms Holt failed to send her daily Wordle. The suspect now faces several felony charges.
John Baulch, ToyWorld UK - The future is wide open …it’s the Friday Blog! The last two years have seen significant changes to the ways many of us have been used to working, and nowhere is this more evident than in the trade show arena. Toy Fair Season is changing, and based on a few interesting developments in recent days, there may be even bigger changes on the horizon.
Is the Metaverse Actually Safe for Brands and Consumers? A handful of engineers are shaping the virtual space, but are they keeping society’s best interests in mind? It has the potential to change life as we know it over the next few years, but there are some serious considerations marketers need to keep top of mind, alongside their excitement, for what lies ahead.
Meta moves to tackle creepy behavior in virtual reality. Meta has announced a new feature to allow more personal space for people's avatars in virtual-reality worlds. The metaverse is still at concept stage but the latest attempts to create virtual worlds are already facing an age-old problem: harassment. Bloomberg's technology columnist Parmy Olson told the BBC's Tech Tent programme about her own "creepy" experiences.
10 BLACK INNOVATORS WHO CHANGED THE GAMING INDUSTRY. The gaming industry is booming with consumers spending $44 billion in gaming software and services. Within the US, over 428,000 jobs are in the industry; however, only 2% of those job holders are Black. Those dismal numbers are disheartening when you consider the contributions that Black people have made within the gaming industry’s history as well as...
Latest study results show doll play encourages emotional understanding. Mattel’s Barbie brand and a team of neuroscientists at Cardiff University have released the latest findings from a multi-year study exploring the short and long-term developmental impacts of doll play. In the study’s second year, researchers investigated the importance of what kids say while they play. The latest research found children talked...
The Sinister Side of Board Games. I am a relatively rare kind of scholar. I study board games. There are many, many more academics who look at digital games. Those who focus on tabletop games are much fewer in number. I don’t regret my academic focus. Board games are an art form, an ancient, entrenched part of global cultures, a powerful way to learn, and a deep and immersive way to connect with others.
History and Nostalgia
Fireball Island from Milton Bradley (1986). “The dimensional adventure game of pitfalls and perils!” Released in 1986 by Milton Bradley, Fireball Island is a three-dimensional board game that challenges would-be fortune hunters to capture the Firestone jewel from the volatile island idol, Vul-Kar, before making a quick escape to the getaway boat.
Prehistoric Dinosaur Playset (#4208) from Marx. Released in 1978 by Marx, the Prehistoric Dinosaur Playset (#4208) immersed children in an epoch when dinosaurs ruled the earth. Over the years, Marx produced a variety of dinosaur playsets. Design inspiration for set #4208 came from the company’s previously released Prehistoric offerings from the 1960s and 1970s.
In advance of multiple 50th anniversary celebrations and live appearances, Aerosmith, the best-selling American hard-rock band of all time, has tapped Universal Music Group’s Epic Rights as the band’s global brand management agency to develop an all-new multi-category worldwide retail program for the legendary rock band, with a roster of new licensing partners signed to create branded merchandise.
LankyBox, the most highly viewed YouTube gaming duo in the world, has partnered with Bonkers Toys to create their first retail toy line. Stars Justin and Adam, along with their cast of animated characters including Boxy, Foxy, and Rocky, create high-energy, laugh-out-loud videos such as challenges, gaming and shorts. LankyBox averages over 1.5 billion video views per month with 18.6 billion lifetime views.
New for 2022 are three exciting Moonlite Gift Packs – Disney Classics, Disney Modern Classics and Pixar – that project from your smartphone onto a wall or ceiling. Dim the lights, cuddle in bed and tell a tale with vivid projections, sound effects and background music. Dumbo, Pinocchio and Bambi will mesmerize a new generation as three of the five storybooks included in the new Disney Classics Gift Pack.
Funko Games reveals seven new Disney-inspired board games for fans of all ages. The 2022 Disney lineup includes: • Games that celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World with Disney Happiest Day Game: Magic Kingdom Park and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Game; • Games that bring beloved animated films to life including Disney A Goofy Movie Game and Disney Return of the Headless Horseman Game; and...
World of EPI announced a collaboration with Disney Consumer Products, Games and Publishing to create fashion dolls, collectible figurines and accessories for the new Disney+ series The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder and the upcoming Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur series on Disney Channel.
Rainbow and Giochi Preziosi, signed a partnership for the master toy line inspired by Iginio Straffi’s animated hit Pinocchio and Friends. The show is already airing daily on Rai Yoyo and has been very well received since launching. Giochi Preziosi will initially distribute the line in Italy with a roll-out strategy that will bring action figures, dolls, play sets and plush toys based...
Orchard Toys confirmed a manufacturing and licensing agreement with Moose Toys to support its plans to expand in USA and Canada. Partnering with Moose Toys will ensure continued support of existing retail distribution as well as the development of major businesses within North America.
***the above posted after February 11th***
Logistics Issues, Price Increases Weigh on Licensing Industry. With logistics issues and wholesale price increases expected to be the watchwords this year, how that plays out for the licensing industry is coming into sharp focus. For the most part, companies of every stripe and product category have imposed wholesale price increases.
WarnerMedia Kids & Family is gearing up for the NBA All-Star weekend with a new comedy-driven sports special called Cartoon Network Special Edition: NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest Presented by Nike. The stars of Warner Bros. Animation’s popular CN superhero series Teen Titans GO! are on deck to host the half-hour special direct from TNT’s Inside the NBA studios. I
Hasbro Unveils New Wave of Marvel Legends X-Men Action Figures. This action figure line expands with seven new X-Men figures in total, each featuring outfits and sculpts inspired by their appearances in Marvel comic books. The new wave of super-articulated figures includes characters such as Wolverine, Siryn, Havok, Vulcan, Maggott, Darwin, and Sabretooth
Plush Haribo Bears Will Take Your Gummy Obsession to the Next Level. Jakks Pacific unveiled its new collection of squishy figures and plush inspired by the Haribo candy brand. The Haribo collection includes characters like Goldbear, Happy Cola, Red Goldbear, and more in a variety of sizes and price points.
JAKKS Pacific announced a new wave of Apex Legends collectible figures as well as Disguise’s new additions to their growing costume and roleplay line for 2022. This Spring, bring home the ten-inch Nessie plush and collectible six-inch scale action figures, and gear up for fall with new costumes from Disguise including adult Octane and Wraith and a child size Revenant.
Global sports company PUMA and MGA’s L.O.L. Surprise! have once again partnered for an exclusive collection, featuring L.O.L. Surprise-inspired artwork along with graphics showcasing several of their famed doll characters. Streetwear pieces including iconic PUMA footwear styles: Suedes and Cali Star – available in toddler, kids and junior sizing – get a playful makeover with sparkly, iridescent details and bold colors.
To celebrate the Chinese Year of the Tiger, ETRO launches an exclusive limited edition capsule collection dedicated to the heroic Tigress, a protagonist in the animated film DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda. Created in collaboration with Universal Brand Development and DreamWorks Animation, the collection of unisex fashion and accessories reinterprets the symbolism of the tiger in a playful and cheerful way...
Netflix Greenlights Pair Of DreamWorks Series. Set to premiere in 2023, book adaptation Not Quite Narwhal stars a narwhal/unicorn protagonist, while Dew Drop Diaries centers around a group of human-helping fairies. Not Quite Narwhal is based on a same-name book by Jessie Sima that Kidscreen recently wrote about as a hot TV adaptation prospect.
PLAYMONSTER ADDS ‘BLUEY’ LICENSE TO ITS ROSTER FOR NEW GAMES IN 2022. The toy company announced its new strategic licensing agreement with BBC Studios for 2022, bringing Australia’s favorite Blue Heeler pup, Bluey, to PlayMonster’s brands. Families in the U.S. can look forward to spreading their love for Bluey with Hasbro’s Spirograph and 9 Story Brands’ Colorforms.
Lego Group and McLaren Racing have come together to launch the Lego Technic version of the McLaren masterpiece. The Lego Technic McLaren Formula 1 Race Car plays homage to the team’s iconic 2021 season livery, while giving fans a glimpse of what they might expect from McLaren Racing’s new F1 season model. The car is fully modelled on the life-size version featuring a V6 cylinder engine with moving pistons...
WOWWEE, HASBRO MAKE A SPLASH WITH OUTDOOR TOYS INSPIRED BY CLASSIC GAMES. Following the success of the decidedly low-tech Pop2Play brand of heavy-duty, fold-flat cardboard slides and playhouses, WowWee is entering another new category, and they’re doing it with the support of an old ally: Hasbro.
ZAG Names Megalicense as Licensing Agent for Russia and CIS Region. Award-winning independent animation studio ZAG has signed Megalicense, the leading licensing agency across Russia and CIS, to represent its ZAG Heroez brand portfolio, headlined by the pop culture hit Miraculous – Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir. The announcement was made today by Julian Zag, EVP, Global Ops and Head of Consumer Products.
TVOKids Greenlights New Series With Disability Focus. Riley Rocket from BGM and Oasis Animation features a young superhero who saves the day with her rocket-powered wheelchair. Currently in production, the 30 x 11-minute series targets five- to seven-year-olds and follows Riley and her friends as they play in their band, morph into superheroes and save their town from threats with the help of Riley’s rocket-powered...
Geronimo Stilton joins the Tonies line-up. Atlantyca Entertainment has partnered with tonies, the screen-free audio entertainment system for children, to create audio experiences based on its popular Geronimo Stilton character. The Geronimo Stilton Tonie will launch in NA in Autumn 2023 and will include four original audio productions which are being developed by Scholastic, the US publisher of the popular Geronimo...
Surge Licensing to lead NA licensing & retail program inspired by filmmaker Stanley Kubrick. Surge Licensing has been appointed by the Stanley Kubrick Film Archives and Global Licensing Agent for the brand, Caroline Mickler Ltd, to develop a North American licensing & retail program inspired by six iconic features from the visionary filmmaker, including The Shining, Full Metal Jacket, 2001: A Space Odyssey,
Character Options adds new properties to its Eco Plush collection. Character Options’ 100 per cent recyclable range of licensed plush is the next sustainable chapter for its eco-conscious product offering. Following the successful launch of Peppa Pig Eco Plush in 2021, Character Options showcased the extended range at London Toy Fair 2022, including super-soft eight-inch characters from the worlds of CoComelon, Blippi, Barney...
People of Play
Sesame Workshop has named Dr. Alison Bryant, a renowned expert on the impact of media, technology, and play, to the new position of Chief Research, Data, and Impact Officer (CRDIO). The move signals Sesame Workshop’s commitment to research as a strategic driver in identifying the needs of children and families around the world in order to create content with the broadest possible impact.
Susan Vargo has left Nickelodeon to join Moonbug Entertainment as its first head of live events. In this newly created role, she will manage and expand the live event business of Moonbug IPs including Blippi, CoComelon and Little Baby Bum. Vargo will be based in its UK head office. Her remit covers live shows, character events and brand-related experiences such as theme parks and water parks.
BBC Studios Names First CEO Of Global Distribution. Rebecca Glashow will manage international distribution for the pubcaster's commercial arm and plans to hire a new London-based global sales director of children's content. She will manage global distribution—excluding the UK and Ireland—with an eye towards building out direct-to-consumer services, intl channels and co-productions, and expanding the reach of...
Katie Bailey has joined Kidscreen to head up content for Kidscreen as our new content director and editor. She starts today, and replaces Megan Haynes in the role. Katie previously spent six years as a content director and editor at Playback, Kidscreen’s sister brand that focuses on the Canadian film and television industry. More recently, she has been working in communications at the Royal Ontario Museum...
Kids Industries (KI) has today announced a raft of new appointments, including the hire of Dennis Publishing’s Research Manager, Carlene Wilson. The hire of four new appointments comes off the back of the firm winning several new accounts at the end of 2021 – including Amazon Kids+. Gary Pope, CEO and Co-Founder at Kids Industries, commented: “We’re excited to have attracted such amazing talent at a time...
Licensing International has announced the hire of Elizabeth Foster as Director of Content and Communications. In her role, Foster will lead editorial planning and development for the organisation along with media relations, and social media strategy. Based in Toronto, Foster has more than a decade of experience in journalism, having started her career in newspapers before making the move to magazines.
20 yr music industry executive and former Head of A&R at G.O.O.D Music, Ricky Anderson has announced the launch of The Tunies, a new animated musical series available on YouTube. “As a father of three, I find myself having to listen to children’s music – oftentimes on repeat! I couldn’t believe that there was nothing better out there for families to enjoy together. I saw an opportunity to reimagine the genre...
Adrian Whyles, MD of PlayMonster UK, is set to leave his post at the end of February at his own request. Adrian says: “I have enjoyed my time at Interplay/PlayMonster: we have grown the business, built successful brands and become part of the PlayMonster family. There is a great deal to look forward to in 2022, with the company now in a strong position to build on a global basis under the leadership of CEO Tim Kilpin.
Mattel celebrates 40th anniversary of Ken Johnson’s Phase 10 card game with a special-edition box set. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the classic card game Phase 10, Mattel has released a special edition of the beloved pastime invented by a Black man. Created in 1982 by game inventor Kenneth R. Johnson in Detroit, Michigan at age 22, Phase 10 is a rummy-type game with a twist.
Hasbro-owned eOne has hired former Warner Bros. and Acamar exec Ruedilyn Cox as VP of global franchise strategy and management for its upcoming series Kiya. Cox, who started in Jan. and is based in London, will manage long-term franchise and content strategy for the preschool-skewing brand globally. Kiya (52 x 11 minutes) is set to debut on Disney Jr. (US), Disney+ (globally) and France Télévisions in 2023.
PLAYMONSTER ANNOUNCES NEW LEADERSHIP TEAM AND GLOBAL APPROACH FOR 2022 AND BEYOND. CEO Tim Kilpin announced the following: Gary Aigner, responsible for Global Design as PlayMonster’s Chief Design Office, Rich Rooney, responsible for Global Operations as PlayMonster’s Chief Operations and Logistics Officer, and Scott Flynn, responsible for Global Sales as PlayMonster’s Chief Commercial Officer
***the above posted after the Bloom Report sent on morning of February 11th***
“Power Kid Podcast,” host Phil Albritton welcomes Aaron Muderick, founder of Crazy Aaron’s, the co. behind Thinking Putty and Land of Dough. Crazy Aaron’s revolutionized the putty business and currently ships more than 30 unique colors to retailers and consumers around the world from its PA manufacturing facility. Aside from carrying the flag for U.S. manufacturing, Crazy Aaron’s employs individuals with disabilities.
In time for Black History Month, the Strong Museum of Play featured an interview with Jacob R. Miles III and several other people instrumental in leading and fostering diversity in the toy, play, and entertainment industries. Jacob was one of the first African American engineers to be employed by a major company in the toy industry. Since those early days, he has worked on some of the most recognized...
The House of Mouse has promoted Sarah Finn to SVP of production for Disney Television Animation. This new role has her leading all physical production for the Disney Television Animation studio’s content for Disney+, Disney Junior and Disney Channel. Finn reports to Meredith Roberts, SVP and GM of television animation for Disney Branded Television.
Microsoft veteran Shannon Loftis retires. Long-serving Microsoft executive Shannon Loftis has announced her retirement from the company after 29 years. Loftis served as a manager on several Xbox projects during her tenure with the firm, including Fable, Viva Piñata, Banjo-Kazooie, and Sunset Overdrive, and has contributed to many more titles over the last few decades.
UK growth leads to new hires at Zuru. The expansion of the Zuru UK team follows the company’s recent raft of award wins, and there are also plans for a new office and showroom. L-R: Will Collinson (general manager UK & Ireland), Aneisha Viera (global brand director), Glyn Tasker (senior national account manager), Lucy Figg (UK & Ireland marketing lead) and Thomas Pang (eCommerce manager) at London Toy Fair 2022.
Genius Brands appoints Cindy Kelly as head of advertising sales. Genius Brands International has appointed Cindy Kelly to the newly created position of head of advertising sales and co-chief revenue officer for the company’s entertainment network, Kartoon Channel! In her new role, Kelly will oversee advertising sales, as well as brand, content, and event sponsorships for the network.
Companies and Brands
Spin Master’s 2022 Looks Bright with Toys and Activities that Inspire Creators, Fuel Fandoms and Promote Inclusive Play. Spin Master is forecasting fun with the reveal of their toys, games and activities that will inspire children and their families around the globe this yr. Spin Master’s 2022 portfolio delivers innovation with new intellectual property, expansions within popular evergreen brands and a showstopping cast of...
9 Story Media Group and Karma’s World Entertainment are pleased to announce a first-of-its kind partnership with F.I.T., the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Design and Technology Lab (FIT DTech). Inspired by the hit animated Netflix series Karma’s World – for which fashion is central to the brand DNA – FIT students designed a 50-piece fashion-forward children’s collection for licensing partners to incorporate across ...
Randimals, a new company out of Sun Valley, Idaho announced the launch of its new plush and hard Randimals toys. These loveable creatures embody the mantra, “What makes us different, makes all the difference in the world!” Randimals are made up of two different animals, which means they are a unique blend of personalities, characteristics, instincts and skills.
Disney To Build New Residential Communities, First In Rancho Mirage, California. Disney will be building new master-planned communities called ‘Storyliving’ with the first to be developed in Rancho Mirage in California’s Coachella Valley. Other sites are under exploration “as more and more fans look for new ways to make Disney a bigger part of their lives,” the company said.
ViacomCBS has announced that the global media company change its name to Paramount Global (to be referred to as “Paramount”). The name change will be effective from 16th February, bringing together the company’s leading portfolio of premium entertainment properties under a new parent company name. In addition to the name change, the company has outlined plans to accelerate the global momentum behind...
NBCUniversal’s video streaming service Peacock is building out its animation lineup with six new kids titles. The streamer has acquired DreamWorks series Megamind’s Guide to Defending Your City and Abominable and the Invisible City, both of which are follow-ups to animated feature films produced by the studio. Peacock also ordered original preschool series Team Mekbots Animal Rescue and Dino Pops, and...
Lennox the Lamb, new from Douglas, is adorable in the palest of yellow creams. If neutral is your nursery theme, then this little one is the ideal choice. Going to a gender-neutral baby shower, choose Lennox. The ensemble combines the softest textured fabric with a soft wooly look and an adorable nursery themed print in neutral tones on a cream background. There are seven color coordinated pieces in this ensemble.
Singapore and UK-based animation co. Omens Studios has secured a deal with Singapore’s national public broadcaster MediaCorp for an additional 20 episodes of hit preschool series Leo the Wildlife Ranger (126 x 11’) and a further 40 episodes of Counting with Paula (340 x 11’). The first season has sold in over 50 countries globally, and the second season of the adventure series won Best Preschool Program at the Asian...
ZAG has established its first office in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to directly spearhead merchandising and licensing activities in Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay for the company’s portfolio of “ZAG Heroez” brands, including the worldwide hit Miraculous – Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir and Ghostforce. The new Buenos Aires’ office is headed by Melisa Fuhr, Director of Licensing and Retail for South America...
Connetix Tiles was created by two families that met when their kids started primary school together. They decided to create their own version of magnetic tiles that could help kids unlock creativity through educational play. Connetix Tiles feature clear refractions and vibrant colors that kids can use to build any structures they can think of, from castles and towers to animals and vehicles.
Barbie: The History and Legacy of the World’s Most Famous Doll. This might seem like an excessive amount of importance placed on a children's toy; but, in the over 50 yrs of her reign, Barbie has proven to be a near-constant cultural touchstone. The history of America's most iconic doll is embedded in American culture and the larger changes that have shaped the past half-century—including feminism, the civil rights...
CRAZY AARON’S SHAPES NEW WAYS TO PLAY WHILE FOSTERING COMMUNITY, CREATING OPPORTUNITIES. Crazy Aaron’s was a promotional products company for a decade. How did the company get its start and how did you transition it to be a major player in the toy industry?
Aaron Muderick: Crazy Aaron’s began with me making my own putty and selling it to co-workers at the software consulting firm where I worked.
***the above posted after February 11th***
Ravensburger invests in board game crowdfunding platform Gamefound. The board game and puzzle company is investing four million euros (4.5m US$) in Polish start-up Gamefound. The international board game crowdfunding start-up is the first to receive funding from Ravensburger’s innovation and investment programme: Next Ventures
Introducing Israel-based Diamant Toys/Amav Enterprises, run by the third generation of the Diamant family and currently distributing to over 40 countries. While Omri Diamant, CEO of Diamant Toys, concedes it has been a challenging time for the collectibles sector during the pandemic, the company is on track for a great performance this year, with a portfolio of products which is proving to be hugely popular.
ADVENTERRA GAMES COMBINES ENVIRONMENTALISM AND PLAY. Founded in 2009, Adventerra Games has made a name for itself with its eco-friendly games for kids. The brand focuses on hot-button topics like climate change, food waste, renewable energy, and more. The Toy Book caught up with France Mer, director of marketing for Adventerra Games NA, to chat about the company’s mission statements...
Spin Master and CMON Launch Third Marvel Kickstarter Game With $9 Million Pledged. In One of The Most-Funded Kickstarter Campaigns for Tabletop Games of All Time. Most backed Zombicide Kickstarter of all time. #1 CMON Kickstarter of ALL TIME. #4 Tabletop Games Kickstarter of all time (of over 31,000 projects). #12 Kickstarter Project across all categories (of over 500,000 projects)
HOG WILD EMBRACES THE ABSURD TO FOCUS ON FUN. From its classic Poppers and Stickys to its expanding presence in the games category with a party game that asks “How many unicorn horns long is this table?” the company is always striving to make play fun and silly for kids and families. The Toy Book chatted with Hog Wild’s new vice president of sales and marketing, Steve Markey, about the company’s products...
Dantoy launches Blue Marine Toys, made from recycled maritime waste. In 2018, Dantoy launched its Bio-line, made from sugarcanes. This was followed in 2020 by the Green Bean line, comprising of products made from internal waste, and the company’s Take Back strategy in 2021, where damaged Dantoy products were collected to make new toys out of. Dantoy’s latest new toy line, Blue Marine Toys, is made from recycled...
Konami enters 2022 off the back of an exceptionally strong 12-month performance for its Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG. The year saw record numbers of players participate in online duel events and a slew of impressive new product releases, meaning excitement for the year ahead, and the opportunities it presents, has never been higher. Toy World spoke to Dom Galizia, senior marketing manager at Konami, and Adrian Fox...
Schleich Kicks Off Springtime Musical Storytelling Contest with The Hippity Hops. Schleich is asking fans to channel their storytelling superpowers in a musical direction this spring. The leading manufacturer of animal characters and playsets that let kids’ imaginations run wild is seeking songs and stories that celebrate the magic of spring and Easter. Starting with a consumer call-for-entries which kicks off today...
Good Banana, designers of fun & whimsical products for kids’ play spaces, has debuted 16 new products for the fun-filled home in 2022. Its quest to enhance household hotspots comes hot on the heels of its popular Floor Floaties and other recent releases: Bed Tents, Kid’s Yoga Mats, Plush Lap Desks, Weighted Blankets and more. Just in time for Spring, Good Banana announces the following additions for 2022:
Douglas Introduces New PJ Pups for 2022. When it comes to the littles, cute PJ’s are a hot ticket item in the fashion world. Of course, every holiday has their line-up of matching jammies for the entire family, but cute jammies are not just for the holidays anymore. All year long, cute PJ’s continue to be a must-have.
Add Some Vroom, Vroom to the Neighborhood Bike Ride with Spokester. One of the most joyous milestones of being a parent is when your child learns to ride a bike! But for the child, the excitement is all about the accessories. And now, the noise! The Spokester bicycle noisemaker snaps on to the front fork of the bicycle and makes an undeniable motorcycle sound.
Sesame Workshop and MetLife Foundation announced a new phase of their seven-year partnership. “Dream, Save, Do: Financial Empowerment for Underserved Populations in Brazil and Mexico” expands on previous work and aims to build the knowledge, skills, and behaviors that will help families build financial health. The initiative will launch this month with a focus on historically disadvantaged groups...
The Kenya Doll Brand Celebrates 30 Years Growing Up Proud During Black History Month. Tyco Toy Company debuted during the New York International Toy Fair, with their first ethnic doll line, “Kenya.” She fast became the talk of Toy Fair, with press publications in Newsday (“She’s Black Like Me”), Ebony, Essence, NY Times, Jet and other publications. Would she succeed? How would doll buyers react?
Disney Branded TV’s New Slate Leans Into Fantasy & Adaptations. Projects from Reese Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine, the Russo brothers and a new Goosebumps series are in the works for Disney+ and Disney Channels. Disney Branded Television is focusing on fantasy and partnering with some big-name talent as it gets to work on a new slate of original kids and family content for Disney+ and Disney Channels.
Rocket Mortgage's Super Bowl 56 Teaser Introduces Anna Kendrick to a Beloved Part of Her Childhood—Barbie. The 60-second ad will run in the second quarter on Sunday. Rocket Mortgage will return to the Super Bowl with its fifth ad since 2018, this time around featuring Anna Kendrick and Mattel’s Barbie as the Barbie Dreamhouse turns 60 this year.
Toikido - When Darran Garnham founded Toikido 15 months ago, he promised that own-IPs would follow soon after. True to his word, the first proudly adorns the front cover of this month’s Toy World – and it’s truly smashing. The Piñata Smashlings concept is simple enough; colourful piñatas battle it out to collect Smashlings – little collectible characters that magically live inside them – in a fun physics-based game...
Magic Box Toys has confirmed that it has begun phasing out plastic from its product packaging, including plastic elements such as blister packs and foil bags. The first range to feature more than 85% plastic-free packaging is the latest SuperThings series, Guardians of Kazoom, which launched on 21st January. The range, which offers kids 80+ new SuperThings characters to collect, sees foil bags and plastic packs replaced...
Zapf slashes single-use plastic production by 65 tonnes in one year. Zapf committed to plastic free packaging in 2021 and has since stopped using cable ties, viewing windows, plastic bags and blister packs in its new packaging. In the first year of its commitment to plastic free packagaing, Zapf Creation has cut production of single-use plastic by over 65 tonnes – the equivalent weight of ten African elephants.
BARBIE TEAMS UP WITH HABITAT FOR HUMANITY TO COMMEMORATE 60 YEARS OF THE BARBIE DREAMHOUSE . . . for a year-long collaboration to create more opportunities for kids and families to live in a place they can call their home. The Barbie brand is funding 60 projects and activations, including neighborhood revitalization, playhouse builds, critical home repairs, new construction, home preservation, and...
The Nacelle Co. officially opens toy division. After months of acquisitions and live event appearances across the U.S., it’s officially official: The Nacelle Co. has opened its toy division. The studio behind Netflix’s The Toys That Made Us and the multiplatform A Toy Store Near You has hired former Hasbro and Toy Biz designer and artist David Vonner to lead the new division.
Asmodee USA will release 'Rest in Peace' into U.S. retail. Asmodee USA will release Rest in Peace, a new card game, into U.S. retail on March 4, 2022. In Rest in Peace, players assume the roles of ghosts who have come back from the dead to haunt the mansions of their ancestors. It is a tactical card game where each player has a family of 21 ghost cards, and they play these cards to try to win Mansion tokens.
'Power Rangers Deck-Building Game' goes 'Omega Forever'. Renegade Game Studios announced the Omega Forever Expansion set, for the Power Rangers Deck-Building Game, which will release in June 2022. In this expansion, players can play as one of the Omega Rangers or the Anointed. It features Fusion Zords that allow for powerful combos, and players can also harness the power of the newly added Omega Coins.
Take leadership of the 'First Empires'. Asmodee USA will release First Empires, a civilization-building game by Sand Castle Games, into retail on March 11, 2022.First Empires is a lightweight game of conquest and building civilizations. Players take on the roles of leaders of ancient empires and move across the map to gain control of territories.
Kids can enjoy screen-free fun on the go with Timio. In a world where kids and adults are constantly tethered to digital screens, the concept of screen-free tech is gaining steam. Over the past few years, that has led to some new categories that bridge the gap between play, entertainment, and learning. One emerging category is that of screen-free portable audio players, and one of the newest entrants is Timio.
Steamforged reveals Dark Souls Collector’s Edition and miniatures. Tabletop games creator and publisher Steamforged Games has revealed a special Collector’s Edition of Dark Souls: The Roleplaying Game will be available for pre-order from February 16th, with only a limited number of copies available.
Steve Jackson Games and Cryptozoic Entertainment announce 'Munchkin Batman'. Steve Jackson Games and Cryptozoic Entertainment announced Munchkin Batman, which will be headed to Kickstarter soon. This new version of Munchkin brings the Dark Knight into the zany world of Munchkin.
Discover the magic of travel with Buffalo Games’ new puzzles. The art of puzzling has gone through a luxurious makeover. Buffalo Games is introducing three new puzzle lines with a lavish, new look. Through breathtaking photography and presentation, both kids and adults can unlock the magic of travel and experience the feeling of opening a designer bag.
Bandai UK to distribute ‘True and the Rainbow Kingdom’ toys. Toronto-based Guru Studio has appointed Bandai UK as its UK distributor for a toy line inspired by its animated series True and the Rainbow Kingdom. The preschool series revolves around the titular True and her companion Bartleby the Cat, both of whom are featured consistently throughout the toy line.
Wishbone Consumer Products launches Crazy Ice Bubbles in the U.S. Canada-based Wishbone Consumer Products is bringing Crazy Ice Bubbles into the U.S. Kids ages 5 and up can use this special bubble mixture to create bubbles that last for hours in almost all winter conditions, without any special preparation. Crazy Ice Bubbles make crystalline patterns as they fly in the air or land on the ground.
Zuru rockets into new dimension with the X-Shot FaZe Clan. The award-winning X-Shot line will now delight gaming fans with the launch of the X-Shot FaZe Clan this month. The new blaster series combines Zuru style with the look of the world’s most influential gaming organisation, FaZe Clan.
Gaming: Digital, Video, Hardware, and Development
The video game rights for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are up for sale. The video game rights for both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit have been put up for sale. As reported by Variety, current owner Saul Zaentz Co. has decided to sell its Tolkien holdings, which include precious merchandising, movie, video game, and live event rights for The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and other titles from J.R.R. Tolkien.
2022 Commonwealth Games will include pilot medal esports event. This year's Commonwealth Games will be accompanied by a sister esports event, which will treat professional gaming like a medal sport. The Commonwealth Esports Championships will be held in Birmingham later this year -- likely during the Commonwealth Games, which will run from Thursday, July 28 to Monday, August 8.
Nintendo is making a new Wii Sports for the Switch. Nintendo is bringing back some of its classic Wii Sports games in a new game called Nintendo Switch Sports. You’ll be able to play tennis, bowling, and chambara, like what you might remember from the Wii Sports games, but Nintendo is also adding soccer, badminton, and volleyball.
EarthBound and other revivals are defining Nintendo's early 2022. Nintendo showed off an Earthbound port, a Wii Sports successor, and other notable games in its first Direct presentation of 2022. Said presentation was light on explosive new game reveals, but heavy on fan-favorite ports of games ranging from Chrono Cross to Valve's Portal. The bulk of Nintendo's in-house offerings felt like popular revivals from older eras.
Epic won’t update Fortnite to run on the Steam Deck. Epic Games doesn’t plan to update Fortnite so that it runs on SteamOS, according to CEO Tim Sweeney, meaning owners of the upcoming Valve Steam Deck will likely have to install Windows to play the popular battle-royale game. In a series of tweets, Sweeney said that the company doesn’t feel confident about its ability to combat cheating in Fortnite when running...
Bandai Namco to spend $130 million creating an "IP metaverse". Bandai Namco plans to spend 15 billion yen ($130 million) creating a new "intellectual property metaverse." The company broke the news in its fiscal report for the nine months ending December 31, 2021, and said the cash will be used to establish a data foundation and develop content.
Blizzard is planning a new Warcraft mobile game. Nestled in today’s Activision Blizzard’s quarterly earnings report (which was curiously delivered as a press release and not a traditional call ostensibly because of its pending acquisition by Microsoft and possibly the myriad other things going on over there) is the news Blizzard is working on a new Warcraft mobile title slated for a 2022 release.
Microsoft's mega-deal worries small video game makers. When Tanya Short first pitched the idea for Boyfriend Dungeon, a computer game where the player's romantic partners are monster-vanquishing weapons, publishers didn't seem overly interested. "They all rejected it. They said the name wasn't interesting, or they just didn't understand it," says Ms Short, the director and chief executive of independent game studio...
Safety and Counterfeiting
Games Workshop recalls Koyo Bounca The Squig Plush toys. Games Workshop Retail of Memphis, Tenn., is recalling about 2,600 KOYO Bounca The Squig Limited Edition Plush toys. The pom-poms can detach from the toy, posing a choking hazard to young children. No incidents or injuries are reported. This recall involves KOYO Bounca The Squig Limited Edition Plush toys.
Toy sold at Philadelphia Gift Show recalled because it contains too much lead in the paint. A toy sold and given away at the Philadelphia Gift Show in July is being recalled because the paint contains levels of lead that exceed the federal lead paint ban. According to an announcement from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Stack Em’ Up Books of Langhorne, Pa., has recalled the Adam the Apple toy...
Highlighted Press Releases
KIDS CAN’T WAIT FOR MOONLITE’S BEDTIME RITUAL: A TRULY ILLUMINATING STORY THEN A TUCK & A KISS! Snow White, Little Mermaid, Monsters, Inc.? Oh My! Three New Storybook Gift Packs In Stock Ready To Lull Little Ones To Sleep In An Unexpected Way – When mom or dad announces time for bed, kids actually leap to brush their teeth and snuggle under the covers. Why? They know a Moonlite illuminated story is about to begin! New for 2022 are three exciting Gift Packs – Disney Classics, Disney Modern Classics and Pixar – that project from your smartphone onto a wall or ceiling. Dim the lights, cuddle in bed and tell a tale with vivid projections, sound effects and background music. Dumbo, Pinocchio and Bambi will mesmerize a new generation as three of the five storybooks included in the new Disney Classics Gift Pack.
Bunny Hopkins™ launches new design of handmade in USA wooden toy for creative and active play. One foot in front of the other could be a metaphor for childhood exploration. It’s also the simple way to play with the six-piece Stepping Stones (from $69.00) set from Bunny Hopkins™, winner of the 2021 ASTRA Best Active Toy Award. These vibrant 100% Made in USA wooden circles are handcrafted by local craftsmen in its Atlanta, Georgia workshop. Each 10” large circle entices preschoolers and older kids to jump, spin or joyfully step as they imagine an obstacle course that gives a full body stretch!
ADD SOME VROOM, VROOM TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD BIKE RIDE WITH $9.99 SPOKESTER®. Featured on TODAY Show, Colorful (Or Black) Spokester Snaps On To A Child’s’ Bike For A Realistic Motorcycle Sound. One of the most joyous milestones of being a parent is when your child learns to ride a bike! But for the child, the excitement is all about the accessories. And now, the noise! The Spokester bicycle noisemaker ($9.99) snaps on to the front fork of the bicycle and makes an undeniable motorcycle sound. Boys and girls imagine they are riding the real thing. Parents are delighted to know they and others on the road or sidewalk can “hear” their child even if they can’t see them.
Associations, Shows, Awards, Events, and Festivals
VidCon, which has been delayed for 3 years due to the COVID pandemic, is aiming to get back to business this summer. The Viacom-owned convention has named the second batch of Featured Creators set to attend its upcoming gathering, slated for June 22 to 25, with TikTok serving as title sponsor. The Featured Creators will include dance couple tWitch (Stephen Boss) and Allison Holker Boss alongside Andre Swilley...
A restructure at the company behind Mipcom, Mip TV and associated markets is gathering pace and several people working on the annual TV industry events have left in the past few weeks. Deadline is aware of around half a dozen staff who have exited and were previously working mainly on the markets in areas such as sales, legal and admin. Others have left RX France recently but were working across...
***the above was posted after February 11th***
Spanning the original dates for the fair from 2 to 6 Feb, Spielwarenmesse Digital proved highly popular among exhibitors and trade visitors who logged on to discover the latest trends, refresh their expertise in toys and exchange opinions and information. Over the 5 days, organiser Spielwarenmesse eG recorded 10,813 visitors from 82 different countries. The highly varied programme of presentations was a success, and...
Toy Fair “Reimagination” project moves to second stage. The Toy Association, producer of Toy Fair New York, and strategic partner mdg, experts in the trade show and association space, have moved to the second stage of a more than year-long process to “reimagine” what Toy Fair can and must be in the coming years to best serve its various global audiences in a swiftly evolving retail and manufacturing environment.
New York Toy Fair organisers reportedly considering move. Following the cancellation of the 2021 and 2022 shows due to Covid, NY Toy Fair organisers are said to be considering a change of date and possibly location. The New York Post has reported that the sources have said one option is to move the annual trade show to the fall instead of its typical February date, with another option to relocate from NY altogether.
Disney, Netflix and Aardman all scored Oscar nominations in the animated film categories this year Netflix’s “The Power of the Dog,” a revisionist Western that uses a careworn genre to examine toxic masculinity, dominated the Academy Awards on Tuesday with 12 nods, the most of any film. It was followed closely behind by “Dune,” a sprawling adaptation of a popular sci-fi novel that was once believed to be unfilmable...
B&LIS and SiLC unite for European licensing conference in June. B&LIS will kick-off the two-day conference on 21st June and will spotlight retail and future trends through interactive panel discussions. These will tackle topics such as NFTs, the Metaverse, the ever-changing content landscape, breakthrough licensing categories and how to maximise opportunities at retail.
Licensing Expo’s ‘License This!’ competition is open for entry. Entries for Licensing Expo’s annual License This! competition are officially open and will be accepted until March 10. The competition gives designers, illustrators, and animators the opportunity to break into the licensing industry. Applicants can submit unlicensed designs or illustrations to two categories ...
Big names line up for UK INDX Toys & Nursery show. With the first INDX Toys & Nursery show set to open its doors at Cranmore Park exhibition venue in Solihull on 6-7 April, the organisers have released a list of companies who have signed up to exhibit at the event, including global suppliers LEGO, Mattel, MGA, Character Options, Hasbro, Spin Master, Playmobil and Moose.
RIP - Rest in Play - Remembering Those that have Passed
If you know of a colleague's passing, please send us information so we may share with our colleagues. Archives can be found HERE.
John Maxim - Prolific toy and game inventor-engineer John Maxim died on February 6th at his home in Dallas, Texas, it was announced by his son, Michael. The cause of death was pancreatic cancer.
John began his career in the early 70s at Mattel in Preliminary Design. After several years at Mattel, he left to become an independent inventor. Among John’s many licensed inventions were Bumble Ball (Ertl), The Cutter (Crayola), Guzzlers (Ideal Toys), SpectraColor Image Pad (Irwin), Wibbly Wobbly Egg Race game (Vivid Imagination), Power Command Hot Wheels (Mattel) and countless other playthings. John was awarded dozens of patents.
Later in his career, he was a founding member of the Sunshine Santas, a tight knit group of independent inventors residing in south Florida.
John came to his ingenuity naturally. It was in his DNA. His family tree includes Sir Hiram Stevens Maxim (1840-1916), an American-British inventor best known as the creator of the first automatic machine gun, the Maxim gun. He was knighted in 1901. Hiram Percy Maxim (1869-1936), an MIT graduate, invented the first commercially successful sound suppressor for firearms (the silencer). He also developed mufflers for internal combustion engines. John’s son, Michael, an engineer, spent eight years at Space X before leaving to follow in his dad’s footsteps as an independent inventor.
In his final days, John enjoyed his lifelong passion for creating toys, communicating with colleagues around the country about projects in development. (written by Richard C. Levy)
John Galt - His work spanned movies, TV, and video games, had died at age 81. Developer/publisher 3D Realms shared news of his passing on Sunday. Galt had worked with 3D Realms on games like Shadow Warrior and the original Prey. He voiced main character Lo Wang in Shadow Warrior, and played Grandfather Enisi in Prey. His other video game credits included John Romero's Daikatana, Ion Storm's Deus Ex, and more.
On the silver screen, he provided the voice for President Lyndon B. Johnson in Forrest Gump and Oliver Stone's conspiracy film J.F.K. Galt's long acting career began in 1958, and he would make the jump to the world of television in 1974. In a 2019 interview with YouTube channel Jake The Voice, he explained that he landed the role of Lo Wang after doing monster voices for 3D Realms.
Bernard Smith - Toy World is sad to report that industry stalwart Bernard Smith has died aged 79, on 18th January after a short illness.
Bernard Smith enjoyed a long and successful career in toys, starting in 1967 when he took on the role of area sales manager at Mattel. He then built up his sales expertise with roles at Tonka, Peter Pan and JW Spears – a company he returned to as sales director in 1990. This was followed by further stints at Mattel, Kitfix Swallow, United Overseas, Upstarts and University Games.
Bernard decided to slow the pace a little in 2014, but loved the toy trade so much that he only managed semi-retirement and continued to keep his hand in as a sales agent for Rascals, a role he kept on until very recently.
At the Toymaster Show in May 2013, Bernard was recognised by his industry peers as the recipient of a Golden Teddy. His nomination described him as ‘honest, kind, trustworthy, hardworking, loyal and friendly – he brightens up the office with his great sense of humour.’
Friend and colleage Tom White shared a personal memory about the day: “Bernard’s face was a picture as his name was announced, and he froze in his chair from the complete shock of it!”
Bernard’s motto was to treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself, and his co-workers said that customers ‘loved and respected him’. Over his many years in the trade, he trained and supported a vast number of sales executives throughout the industry, who found him a dependable source of support, even through times of change and challenge.
Bernard is survived by his wife Jo, son James, daughters Emma and Sara, stepsons Tom and Jack and nine grandchildren.
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News Flash: E.T. Cooperative Game and New Edition of Libertalia Announced
Funko Games has announced a new cooperative game based on the movie E.T., Stonemaier Games has announced a new edition of Libertalia, and Gale Force Nine has a new Doctor Who game coming soon.
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