the Bloom Report

Worldwide Toy Industry's #1 News Summary

Below is Feb. 5-12, 2021. Click Here for Last Week

Articles posted daily with most recent at top of each section.   The previous week drops off each Friday when we email you highlights. 

Not only does the Bloom Report give you all the news you need to know... we give you all the news you didn't know you needed to know!" -Phil Bloom

Welcome to your briefing of the week's news...

Happy Friday!

Check out this week’s POP panel (end of this page): Hasbro’s Inventor Innovation Panel -

Where the Ideas Come From with panelists: Inventors: Reyn Guyer (NERF), Leslie Scott (JENGA), Richard Levy (FURBY), John Frascotti (President and Chief Operating Officer), Eric Nyman (Chief Consumer Officer, Hasbro), Brian Chapman (President Design & Development, Hasbro),

Tom Warner (Senior VP and General Manager, Nerf & Sports Action, Hasbro), Brian Jarvis (Senior Director of Design, Nerf & Sports Action, Hasbro), Kimberly Boyd (SVP and General Manager, Fashion Brands and Preschool Brands, Hasbro), Jeff Anderson (Senior VP and General Manager, Games, Hasbro), Tanya Thompson (Director, Concept Acquisition, Hasbro)

Exciting News! OUR PEOPLE OF PLAY ANNOUNCES “POP INTO SPRING WEEK,” A VIRTUAL NETWORKING AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITY FOR THE TOY AND GAME INDUSTRY!!! CLICK HERE to BE THERE!  This is a big development for our industry, If you have any questions, feel free to email me or call me.

Thank you for reading the Bloom Report!

Mary

Dear Tim, Hey! What Happened to My Toy Fair Season? tBR Columnist Tim Kilpin Comments

OK, we all know exactly what happened. But I’m sure that, like me, you are experiencing some dislocation right about now. Aren’t I supposed to be tacking up samples in our Javits booth? Or catching a flight out of snowy Nuremberg at 4 am? Or trying to sleep through Night 12 of my Hong Kong jetlag?

 

At this point early in our year, we’d already have logged something like 25,000 miles slogging from show to show. Grumbling, aching, and loving every minute of it.

 

Toy people are tuned to some strange inner clock; the bell would have barely chimed 12 on New Year’s Eve…and we’d already be mentally packing our bags and scanning our schedules for the Walmart appointment.

 

So this year we get a pass. Setting up Zoom calls with buyers and inventors, perusing The Bloom Report (!) for the latest news, scanning the fansites for new product tidbits. All while in our wooly socks. Sigh. Read More...

tBR Company of the Week: Green Toys - More than Just an Eco-Friendly Toy Company

There’s much ado over going green these days, and to its credit, the Toy Industry has largely embraced the growing call for sustainability. In the 21st century, however, sustainability isn’t just about saving the planet. It’s an opportunity to reinvent business models with a focus on improving the world’s social, economic, and environmental challenges - and this is exactly what Green Toys set out to do nearly 14 years ago.

 

In 2007, the founders of Green Toys had a long-term vision to turn the toy industry upside down and inspire people to think differently about toys – not only to think about the ingredients of toys, but to think about the complete supply chain and how innovations in the way we manufacture – from the design to the packaging to the assembly line – affect our everyday lives.

Green Toys are 100% US-made, from manufacturing to assembly to distribution. As a result, we reduce greenhouse gases, energy and save on transportation. Through our tight local supply chain, we maintain stringent quality control and on-site factory presence, provide local jobs, and generate a whole lot of company pride.  Read More...

tBR Person of the Week! Lynn Potyen: Get Dized!

My name is Lynn Potyen and I am an active member of the tabletop retail community. I have owned my retail location for over 14 years, held a seat on the GAMA Retail Board for 6, been celebrated as Retailer of the Year in Sheboygan Wisconsin and Nominated alongside 5 amazing large corporations for Resilient Business of the Year in 2020.

In 2016 I had the pleasure at GAMA of running into 2 energized young men from Finland as they pitched their concept over and over at booths. The idea? An interactive tutorial that will teach you to play a game, while you are playing. So simple, clean, easy. I believed in them.

I was so excited about what I heard that week, that I have been working behind the scenes as a consultant with Dized, since then. I wholeheartedly believe in this product. So much so that I personally invested in this company. As a retailer I can see so much potential for growing our Industry if we can only agree on a platform that stops being a gatekeeper to play. I believe Dized has made that tool. Read more...

 

Financial & Legal News . . .

Holiday momentum, economic stimulus fuels January retail sales growth. According to the latest data from the National Retail Federation (NRF) and the U.S. Census Bureau, the momentum of a record holiday season carried over into January to boost retail sales. The U.S. Census Bureau’s monthly retail survey indicates that January sales spiked 7.4% over the same period last year. NRF calculations, which use a...

Saudi investment fund acquires shares in Activision Blizzard, Take-Two, and EA. Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) has acquired $3 billion worth of stock in U.S. game companies Activision Blizzard, EA, and Take-Two Interactive.  As reported by Aljazeera, the Riyadh-based organisation is chaired by the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed Bin Salman, who last November acquired a 33.3 percent stake in...

'Fortnite' maker Epic Games is taking its war with Apple to the EU. Epic Games, the games studio behind "Fortnite," filed an antitrust complaint against Apple with the European Commission on Wednesday. In a statement published on its website, Epic Games said its complaint alleges that "through a series of carefully designed anti-competitive restrictions, Apple has not just harmed but completely eliminated....

TikTok’s owner halts sale to Oracle, Walmart. The Chinese parent company of TikTok is reportedly putting an end to efforts to spin off its U.S. business with Oracle and Walmart as minority owners. According to the South China Morning Post, TikTok parent ByteDance is no longer interested in creating a separate U.S. operation which would be partially owned by a consortium including Oracle and Walmart.

WallStreetBets agitator Keith Gill faces class action lawsuit over Gamestop Reddit Rally. The GameStop share price surge last month was lauded by some as a revolution of "the little guy" in the face of Wall Street fat cats. But as with all revolutions, heads inevitably roll, and the GameStop Reddit Rally appears no different. US law firm Hagens Berman has filed a class action lawsuit against Keith Patrick Gill, MML 

EA completes $1.2bn Codemasters acquisition and hopes to "revolutionise" racing games. EA has completed its acquisition of UK racing specialist Codemasters for $1.2 billion.It means the FIFA and Battlefront publisher has added F1, Project CARS, GRID, Dirt, WRC, and more to its slate of racing IP, which already includes Need for Speed, Real Racing and Burnout. The deal was financed with cash in hand. 

Imaginarium to close majority of stores in Spain Famous for its iconic two doors of different sizes, Imaginarium has announced job losses for 82% of its workforce. According to reports, the Spanish-headquartered toy retailer Imaginarium plans to keep just two of its physical stores open in Spain, those in the El Ingenio Centre in Velez Malaga and Zaragoza, Aragonia.

Latest figures reveal mounting hassle for UK importers. According to Parcelhero, new figures from the ONS show 35% of UK importers are struggling at borders and Northern Ireland trade is collapsing. The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) economy figures show that businesses are reporting spiralling Brexit challenges, with soaring problems at customs. Doubt has also been cast on the viability of the...

Nvidia acquisition of Arm under fire from Microsoft and Google. Major tech firms are protesting against Nvidia's $40 billion acquisition of UK semiconductor firm Arm. The deal was announced back in September and is currently under review by antitrust regulators in the US, UK, European Union and China. Bloomberg reports several companies -- including Google, Microsoft and Qualcomm -- are asking for these...

Asda X The Entertainer open collaborative toy shops in the UK. UK grocer Asda opened prototype toy departments at five of its stores this week as part of a “test and learn” partnership with The Entertainer. The partnership — first revealed in October — brings The Entertainer-branded toy departments to Asda stores. The new store-within-a-store concepts reimagine what a grocery store toy department can be with...

US regulations reportedly prevented GameStop from cashing in on share surge. GameStop could have paid off hundreds of millions of dollars in debt by capitalising on the short squeeze of its shares -- but US regulations restricted it from doing so. That's according to sources close to the matter speaking to Reuters, who said the retail chain examined the possibility of selling some of its stock during the rush.

Nintendo reportedly raises damages sought in Colopl lawsuit to $47m. Nintendo has reportedly increased the amount of damages it is requesting in its lawsuit against Japanese developer and publisher Colopl. The platform holder filed a lawsuit against Colopl in January 2018 over patent infringement, but with the case still ongoing, Nintendo has now factored in various fees that have built up over time. 

(the above posted after February 12th)

How a sneaky rise in oil prices could affect toy prices. Hasbro Chairman and CEO Brian Goldner is closely watching the recent under-the-radar rise in oil prices and what it could mean to the cost of making toys. But at this point, Goldner isn’t baking in major price increases on Hasbro’s toys this year because of the advance in the commodity. “We’re not really looking at substantial price increases on our products,” 

Chancellor ‘considering tax on online giants’ to help payback Government’s Covid spending. Amazon and other major online retailers could be facing a new online sales tax to help the UK pay its debts following extensive borrowing during the pandemic. Treasury sources have confirmed that Chancellor Rishi Sunak is considering initiating a tax that will target companies who have done well out of the coronavirus crisis.. 

Scalpers taking entire boxes of Pokemon McDonald's toys before they make it into Happy Meals. Scalpers, they ruin getting a PS5 and are now going after Happy Meal Pokemon Cards. In true scalper fashion, boxes of unopened Pokemon Cards bound for McDonald's are seemingly ending up on eBay for crazy prices, and individual packs are being sold as well. 

France’s Asmodee has acquired multiplayer gaming platform Board Game Arena and will use it to expand the global reach of its portfolio, which includes games like Catan, Ticket to Ride and Pandemic. Under the deal, Board Game Arena will continue to operate independently and create online versions of games from other companies. The platform launched in 2010 and now boasts five million members playing more...

Riot Games CEO accused of sexual harassment in lawsuit from ex-employeeRiot Games CEO Nicolo Laurent has been accused of sexual harassment in a lawsuit filed by a former employee alleging a pattern of inappropriate comments, sexual advances, and, eventually, professional retaliation. The complaint was filed by Sharon O'Donnell, a former Riot employee and Laurent's executive assistant from 2017 to 2020. 

Bandai Namco puts toy and game divisions merger in motion with new presidentThe wheels have been set in motion of a restructuring at Bandai Namco that will see the Japanese corporation merge its toy and gaming units ‘to better leverage its many IPs’ such as Pac-Man, Dark Souls, and Tekken. Upon the release of its latest financial results, Bandai Namco confirmed that company veteran Masaru Kawaguchi was to...

Tencent acquires minority stake in Bohemia InteractiveTencent has acquired a minority stake in DayZ developer Bohemia Interactive.The Czech studio is to remain independent, the announcement said, and will retain its existing management team. Tencent's investment aims at supporting Bohemia in bringing its PC and mobile sandbox game creation platform Ylands to China. 

EA takes a big step into mobile with acquisition of Kim Kardashian: Hollywood developer Glu. EA is making a big move into the world of mobile gaming with the acquisition of Glu Mobile, a developer best known for its work on celebrity-focused titles, based on stars like Katy Perry and Kim Kardashian. Its portfolio also includes popular titles like Design Home, Covet Fashion, and MLB Tap Sports Baseball. 

Leaf Mobile confirms $125m acquisition of East Side GamesLeaf Mobile has confirmed the acquisition of East Side Games for CAD $159 million (USD $125 million). The deal includes an initial payment of $19 million in cash and more than 444 million shares of Leaf Mobile stock, which until now has been traded on the TSX Venture Exchange. The remaining value of the deal is tied to Leaf Mobile's revenue targets...
Tactic Games acquires Bex Sport Two established Nordic games companies join forces as Finland's Tactic Games takes on Swedish firm Bex Sport to complement outdoor games portfolio. Founded in 1967, Tactic Games has its own factory in Finland which produces a broad range of game products. The company is proud to have responsibility, and ethical and environmental thinking at the core of its production process. 

ToyWorld UK Exclusive first look as Entertainer at Asda trial starts As the trial begins, Toy World caught up with Gary Grant and and key members of the Entertainer and Addo Play teams to view the new in-store toy area. This week heralds the rollout of the six month trial which will see The Entertainer managing the toy aisles of five selected Asda stores. The initiative was first announced back in October, and the first tria...

DISNEY CUTS 450, CANCELS 'NIMONA;' HASBRO'S EONE LAYS OFF 10% Disney is shutting down Fox’s Blue Sky Studios, makers of the Ice Age series, as of April 1, with 450 employees affected, according to Deadline.  With 10 months left to completion, production is being stopped on Nimona, based on the Noelle Stevenson comic, according to the report.

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Trends, Market Research Reports . . .

Greener pastimes: ToyNews’ guide to the latest in sustainable toys . . . . . TCG market analysis: a new year, a new king of the TCG hill . . . . . TOY ASSOCIATION ANNOUNCES TOP TOY TRENDS OF 2021 . . . . . Is the toy category’s pandemic sales boon coming to an end?

(the above was posted after February 12th)

Hasbro, Mattel Say Toy Boom to Extend Beyond Covid-19 . . . . . THE TOY INSIDER REVEALS TOP TOYS AND TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2021 . . . . . The year of the jigsaw: Millions more puzzles sold in 2020 . . . . U.S. toy growth expected to moderate in 2021 . . . .  NPD: Avatar is the top kids show on Netflix

Financial & Brokerage News . . .

Supercell posts solid profits, despite fifth straight year of revenue decline . . . . . Mattel says American Girl sales rise for the first time in four years . . . . . Moody's announces completion of a periodic review of ratings of Mattel, Inc.

(the above was posted after February 12th)

Zynga posts record revenues, record net losses . . . . . Research analysts issue forecasts for Hasbro, Inc.'s Q1 2021 earnings . . . . . Mattel Reports Fourth Quarter and Full-Year 2020 Financial Results . . . . . Hasbro Reports Fourth Quarter and Full-Year 2020 Financial Results . . . . . WildBrain reports Q2 2021 results . . . . Digital makes up 85% of Take-Two's $860.9 million in Q3 net revenue . . . . .  Assassin's Creed, Watch Dogs, and Just Dance push Ubisoft to new record highs . . . . . Bandai Namco reports rising profits amid restructure. . . . . Schleich Announces Double Digit Growth in US Market in 2020 . . . . Disney content and licensing hit hard by Covid-19 but consumer products offer glimmer of hope

Future Financial Reporting . . .

$676.64 million in sales expected for Mattel, Inc.this quarter. Equities research analysts forecast that Mattel, Inc. will report sales of $676.64 million for the current quarter, according to Zacks Investment Research. Five analysts have made estimates for Mattel's earnings, with the highest sales estimate coming in at $718.10 million and the lowest estimate coming in at $640.00 million. Mattel reported sales of $594.10 million during the same quarter last year, which would suggest a positive year over year growth rate of 13.9%.

$1.20 billion in sales expected for Hasbro, Inc. this quarter. Equities research analysts expect that Hasbro, Inc. (NASDAQ:HAS) will post sales of $1.20 billion for the current quarter, according to Zacks. Five analysts have provided estimates for Hasbro's earnings. The highest sales estimate is $1.26 billion and the lowest is $1.14 billion. Hasbro posted sales of $1.11 billion during the same quarter last year, which suggests a positive year over year growth rate of 8.1%. The company is scheduled to report its next quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, May 5th.

Nintendo raises fiscal forecast as Switch closes in on 80 million lifetime sales. Nintendo has reported an upswing in net sales and profits off the back of bumper Switch hardware and software sales.  As highlighted in the company's fiscal report for the nine months ended December 31, 2020, net sales increased by 37.3 percent year-on-year to 1.4 trillion yen ($13.3 billion), while profits rose by 91.8 percent to 376.6 billion yen...

Spin Master Corp. to Report Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2020 Financial Results on March 1, 2021. Ronnen Harary, Co-Chief Executive Officer, and Mark Segal, Chief Financial Officer, will host a conference call for the investment community on Tuesday, March 2, 2021 at 9:30 a.m. (ET).

Toyjobs has been the dominant recruiting

Stories & Comments . . .

Beating the Odds at Innovation. How many bad ideas does it take to arrive at a good one? Quite a lot. A lot more than most people think. Stories on how creativity and innovation happen tend to take on a near-mythical tone. From the way they are told, you would think that ideas simply fall from the sky into the heads of exceptional individuals. The process in which breakthrough ideas come to life is, in reality, a lot...

The Toy Coach: Seven Secrets to a Successful Online Toy Pitch. The past year has been a series of unpredictable changes to the “norm”, creating new obstacles to once enjoyable stages of toy development, and turning even the most seasoned travelers to homebodies. But with the way we do business turned on its head grew the opportunity for the digitally savvy of us to arise. And one of the biggest areas to evolve? Product

Design Edge: What is an Invention? Have you ever seen a product at market and had that moment of thinking “damn, I thought of that years ago and did nothing with it”? It’s a common story that I would suspect every inventor tells. Through my involvement in the United Inventors Association, People of Play (formerly the Chicago Toy and Game Group), and the Toy Association’s Creative Factor, I have been fortunate to...

(the above posted after February 12th)

How kidcos are making virtual events better than IRL Roblox, Epic Games and Hellosaurus are embracing virtual events to create interactive experiences that can replace—and maybe even improve on—the live event experience. Fans bunch together, jumping and dancing along as Lil Nas X’s voice booms out. When he appears, the crowd goes wild. Suddenly, the entire audience is on stage with him. It’s not that he’s created...

Gaming, in kids' own words. by Anne Helen Petersen  I interviewed Dr. Rachel Kowert about the new genre of alarmist rhetoric around kids’ pandemic gaming and screen time. You might not have kids, and you might not spend much time worrying about gaming. But you can still recognize that as a society, we often spend a lot of time worrying about how a cultural product is affecting a group of people — kids, teen girls...

Madonna promotes I’m A Girly fashion doll line. Madonna recently posted a story and pictures on her Instagram account of her 8-year-old twins Stella and Estere playing with a new fashion doll line, I’m A Girly (Click Here). In the video, the girls are playing with the fashion dolls, which encourage children to play creatively and help them find their very own style.

Michelle Obama cooks up Waffles + Mochi. The former First Lady and head of Higher Ground Productions is launching a new kids show on Netflix next month that she'll star in with puppets. It’s launching on March 16 and will follow along as its lead characters discover, cook and eat food from all over the world. Obama’s production company Higher Ground is producing the series and collaborating with Partnership for a...

Opinion (UK) | New wave: How the collectables market can survive the pandemic. Previously one of the darlings of the toy industry alongside the construction (read LEGO) category, the sales of collectables have taken a bit of a pandemic pummelling. Back in 2018, The NPD Group explained that, ‘despite a lower price tag, collectables represent a significant slice of the UK toy market, both by volume and value. 

Talking green with toy suppliers In February's Touching Base feature,  toy suppliers tell us about their eco-friendly and sustainable credentials and why they feel this is an important area to focus on. Pete Rope, founder of Junko, kicked things off by telling us about his range: “We focused on making an original, quality, European-made product, manufactured from recycled material which will give years of fun.” 

There Are a Ridiculous Number of Movies in the Works About Toys. There are at least ten films and more than 20 TV shows in the works about various toys and games, from well-known playthings like Barbie to more obscure gizmos, like the View-Master. The reason that's happening, according to the Hollywood Reporter, is that Hasbro and Mattel—the world's two biggest toymakers—are currently battling over... 

Remembering the Toy Industry's Past . . .

Clancy the Great from Ideal (1963). Clancy the Great is of the more peculiar entries in the annals of Ideal Toy Company’s product lines. Released in 1963, the roller-skating monkey was designed by Marvin Glass & Associates of Chicago. Standing a shade under two-feet tall, Clancy was made entirely of plastic and vinyl and came decked out with a stylish yellow chapeau with a red feather accent. 

 

Evel Knievel Battery Powered Toothbrush from Kenner (1975). In an attempt to make a child’s daily ritual of brushing their teeth as thrilling as jumping over Snake River Canyon, Kenner released the Evel Knievel Battery Powered Toothbrush. Designed by Marvin Glass & Associates, the toothbrush was powered by two D-batteries and featured Evel’s famous X-2 Skyrocket Cycle and Launch Ramp as power handle and holder. 

Frenzy from Marx (1974). Released in 1974 by Marx, Frenzy has all the attributes worthy of its name. Advertised as the “pinball balance game”, this game of skill challenges players to guide rolling balls down a series of rails and into scoring channels. The game is contained within a high-impact, styrene plastic case secured by two legs. Behind the plastic face, six plastic rails, six channels, and six metal balls await the player.

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Worldwide Licensing News . . .

Mattel and Universal have partnered with Target for a new, Jurassic World-themed shopping page on target.com. Launching today, the retail hub is called “Beyond the Gates,” and it will feature new collectible figures from Mattel. This collab is utilizing fan content, too, with a companion web series — also called “Beyond the Gates” — from Jurassic Outpost, a leading fan site for all things Jurassic World. In the third...

Sesame Workshop and WarnerMedia partner on new pre-school series about toy blocks. Sesame Workshop and WarnerMedia have joined forces to start production on a new, animated pre-school comedy series called Bea’s Block. The show is scheduled for a 2022 release on HBO Max. Bea’s Block will draw on the ubiquity of toy blocks to bring the vibrant, multicultural neighbourhood of Blocktown to life in a series centered...

Disguise, Inc. expands portfolio with UniversalDisguise, Inc., the costume division of leading toy and consumer products manufacturer, JAKKS Pacific, Inc. announced an expanded offering in North American to design, market, manufacture and distribute Halloween costumes, costume accessories, inflatables, adaptive costumes and trunk-or-treat kits for Universal Brand Development properties commencing in 2021. 

‘Clue’ animated series in the works at Fox. An animated series based on the classic board game “Clue” is in development at Fox, Variety has learned. Fox Entertainment has partnered with Hasbro’s content studio eOne and Bento Box Entertainment on the series, with the three companies co-producing and Bento Box providing the animation. No writers or producers are currently attached to the project. .

PlayMonster Face Paintoos Launch Disney & Marvel Kits. PlayMonster is focusing on expanding its product lines and categories, and with that, Face Paintoos now feature popular characters from Disney Frozen 2, Marvel Avengers, Marvel Spider-Man and Disney Princess. Along with popular themes, licensed packs are wowing parents and kids across the country.

JAKKS Pacific announced global toy rights with SEGA of America for Paramount Pictures’ feature film, Sonic the Hedgehog 2. JAKKS will design, manufacture, market, and sell Sonic the Hedgehog 2 branded toy product lines based on the upcoming feature film, set for release in 2022. The agreement between JAKKS and SEGA will include rights to produce action figures, playsets, vehicles, plush toys and other collectibles. 

Netflix saddles up with My Little Pony. Hasbro's upcoming CG-animated film will premiere on the streaming giant later this year, rather than theatrically. Netflix has picked up global rights (excluding China) to Hasbro’s new My Little Pony movie from Entertainment One. The CG-animated feature will premiere on the streaming giant in September, in lieu of a theatrical release.

Celebrate Pokémon's 25th anniversary with 25 toys and plushes from Jazwares. It's been a long and crazy ride for the Pokémon series since it originally arrived on the scene, on the 27th of February it will be its 25th anniversary. To celebrate, we have rounded up 25 products that “trainers” everywhere will not want to miss, including a special 25th anniversary plush Pikachu available for pre-order now. 

Super Impulse doubles up with Wacky Packages Minis Series TwoSuper Impulse is expanding its successful line of miniatures with Wacky Packages Minis Series 2. The collectibles continue to spoof favorite household brands with new toys and stickers in fun blind boxes. The release of series one last year was a sensational hit with collectors and kids. Target sold out of the products in a matter of weeks. 

Ghostbusters figures for all ages are hitting stores from HasbroHasbro got the Ghostbusters license not too long ago now, and you can forgive them for not having a ton on the shelves so far. There was supposed to be a film out and plenty of toys to support it, but then the pandemic hit, and that all went out the window. A few things have hit shelves, however, and they have been pretty stellar.

BBC Studios expands licensing program for Bluey. BBC Studios, the distributor and licensing agent for the international hit preschool show Bluey, is expanding the brand’s consumer products offerings with five new licensing partners that will bring even more series-inspired fun to children across the country. A sensation with U.S. audiences since its fall 2019 premiere, Bluey, available on Disney Channel, Disney Junior ...

Disney content and licensing hit hard by Covid-19 but consumer products offer glimmer of hope. Content sales and licensing revenues at the Walt Disney Company have suffered big losses at the hands of the pandemic with dramatic decreases of 56 per cent and an operating income decrease of 78 per cent driven primarily by the closure of theatres, parks and experiences over the course of last year. 

(the above posted after February 12th)

Mattel, NASCAR drive into Disney partnership. Disney and Pixar’s “Cars” Week is back, and fans are invited to join the week leading up to this year’s Daytona 500 on Feb. 14. To celebrate the big day, Mattel has teamed with NASCAR and Disney Pixar to unleash brand new toys inspired by the films and the Daytona 500. With all new products and activations inspired by real-life NASCAR drivers and iconic Disney and Pixar’s “Cars”...

The Op releases a nostalgic Care Bears-inspired Monopoly game. A classic board game is back with a beloved cast of Care Bears characters. Players can join Wish Bear, Grumpy Bear, Funshine Bear, and more on a nostalgic trip through Baltic Avenue and the Boardwalk in The Op’s Monopoly: Care Bears Edition. This edition features the Bears decked out in their classic ’80s style. 

Sonic the Hedgehog set greenlit by Lego and Sega. Lego Ideas will produce Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog in brick form, thanks to a concept design submitted by Lego superfan Viv Grannell. Viv, also a passionate Sonic fan, created her design as a submission to the Lego Ideas platform, a Lego initiative that takes new ideas that have been imagined and voted for by fans and turns them into reality. 

Trends UK to launch Numberblocks and Alphablocks ELAs in Larkshead partnership. Trends UK is to launch a new range of electronic learning aids inspired by the popular BAFTA-winning pre-school brands Numberblocks and Alphablocks later this year. The new range has been developed in partnership with the Numberblocks and Alphablocks UK licensing agent, Larkshead Licensing who continues to extend the IP...

Mattel and Warner Music Group Announce Sooo Sleepy Album from Fisher-Price. Mattel and Warner Music Group’s Arts Music division announced Sooo Sleepy, a new children’s album from Fisher-Price featuring original songs, lullaby versions of classical music, and more. The release of this new digital album is part of the multi-year licensing agreement between Arts Music and Mattel that was announced last...

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People . . . 

My Q&A with Jenga Creator Leslie Scott. One of my favorite places in the entire world is Leslie Scott’s English countryside kitchen. I could chat with Leslie in her kitchen for hours and days on end and have been fortunate to do so on many occasions. The same holds true for Freddie, only it is an Airbnb kitchen we’ve shared in Nuremberg during Spielwarenmesse. And, they’ve both been in my kitchen many times. Kitchens are where the best conversations take place, whether it is while cooking, baking, sharing a meal or enjoying a cup of tea (or stronger). Kitchens warm the body and the soul… especially the kitchens where Leslie and Freddie can be found! I think you can imagine Leslie telling the following stories over a cup of tea.

University Games promotes Mark Jones and Gemma Lewington following year of ‘unprecedented growth’. The games and puzzles specialist, University Games has promoted two members of its senior management team as the firm positions itself for a successful 2021. The director level moves have seen Mark Jones – who joined the business in 2018 – promoted to the role of sales director, and Gemma Lewington...

Atlanta inventor and entrepreneur Lonnie Johnson partners on $100M project by Georgia State University. Lonnie Johnson, the former NASA engineer who invented the Super Soaker children's toy, is partnering on a planned $100 million development to ... Developer says project would shine a spotlight on the historic Sweet Auburn district after years of being overlooked by investors.

ELANA WOLDENBERG ANNOUNCED AS SENIOR DIRECTOR OF PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT FOR HAND2MIND. In addition to leading the editorial department, Woldenberg’s responsibilities include developing new products and initiatives to continue to expand the company’s range of toys, manipulatives, and other resources for subjects like math, literacy, and STEM. Since joining the company in May 2018, Woldenberg has worked...

Rubies UK strengthens team with key appointments In tandem with the announcement that Joel Weinshanker will manage Rubies global operation, the UK operation undergoes enhancements. As Joel Weinshanker looks to harness the power of Rubies employees around the world to maintain the company’s position as a leader and innovator in the design, manufacture, and distribution of costumes globally, Mike O’Connell...

Reiner Knizia Fact-Checks His Wikipedia PageIn this episode of Rule Breaker Investing, Motley Fool co-founder David Gardner is joined by a very special guest. There are many faces that could appear on the Mount Rushmore of Foolish board game designers, but one place is reserved for Reiner Knizia, not only for his brilliant games, but also his business acumen, his enthusiasm for life, and his dedication to his purpose of...

Ninety-nine-year-old toy inventor Eddy Goldfarb has created over 800 toys, and he’s not planning to stop. Karina Bafradzhian talked to Goldfarb about his decades-long career and why making toys is truly a noble profession.

(the above posted after February 12th)

John Baulch, ToyWorld (UK) Blazing a trail …it’s the Friday Blog!. This week, I did something I haven’t done for quite a while: I left my house to visit a shop selling toys, where I stood in the aisles talking with a bunch of people I knew from the toy community. It felt good. It felt… normal. The store in question was Watford Asda – not hitherto recognised as a hub of the UK toy community, it was chosen as one of the trial stores for....

 “Power Kid Podcast,” host Phil Albritton of Power Kid Design welcomes Adventure Media and Events’ own Marissa DiBartolo, editor-in-chief of both the Toy Insider and the Pop Insider and senior editor of the Toy Book. DiBartolo manages print and digital content for the Toy Insider and the Pop Insider, including daily product news, reviews, and features, the legendary Toy Insider Holiday Gift Guide.

Cartoon Network hires creative development exec. Former head of development for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Kim Howitt is joining, and Adina Pitt's role has been expanded. Cartoon Network has hired Kim Howitt to oversee creative development of its third-party animation, co-pros and live action for the pre-kindergarten, kids and family demos.

EDUCATIONAL INSIGHTS NAMES HEATHER WEEKS SENIOR DIRECTOR OF PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT. Following the successful launch of the new Design & Drill Bolt Buddies line last year, Educational Insights has promoted Heather Weeks to senior director of product development. Weeks joined the company four years ago as a senior manager in product development and licensing prior to serving as director of product... 

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Companies . . .

Lego Vidiyo sees first product drop and signing of new artist L.L.A.M.A. A playful and innovative music video maker experience supported by a series of BeatBoxes, Bandmates, BeatBits and augmented reality, Lego Vidiyo has been designed to celebrate and expand children’s creativity through play and music. Teased last month, Lego Vidiyo sees physical and digital play come together as special effect ‘BeatBits’ and music...

Bandai will release new 'Digimon Card Game' expansion packs into U.S. retail. Bandai will release Great Legend [BT-04], a new Digimon Card Game expansion set, into U.S. retail on May 28. This set adds 115 card types to the Digimon Card Game. The rarity breakdown will include 44 Common types, 30 Uncommon types, 26 Rare types, 12 Super Rare types, and 3 Secret Rare types. 

Hasbro scraps Cara Dune figures in wake of The Mandalorian’s Gina Carano firing. Hasbro has canned its plans to produce any more action figures of The Mandalorian character Cara Dune, after the actress Gina Carano was fired by Disney last week over a series of controversial social media posts. Reports that the toy maker was no longer approved to produce the character’s action figure have spread rapidly across the...

The Pokemon Company issues statement on product availability. The Pokemon Company International has released a statement addressing the short supply of Pokemon TCG products in the marketplace. As Pokemon TCG players and collectors continue their feeding frenzy of sealed product (see "TCG Market Analysis: A New Year, A New King of the TCG Hill"), the high demand plus global shipping constraints has caused...

Blend the rules with Jazwares' latest glam toy launch, GlamCrush. Jazwares is introducing GlamCrush, the latest glam collectible line that delivers an interactive unboxing experience full of fun and 'fabu-luxe' surprises. Designed to inspire creativity, kids can now become makeup artists for their own Crush-It Girls. Available now online and in stores at Target , and rolling out to Amazon and Walmart later this spring,...

Hasbro’s Eone cuts staff, reveals plans for ‘My Little Pony’ movie, ‘Clue’ TV series, more. days after posting its Q4 & full-year earnings earlier this month, Hasbro implemented cuts in its Entertainment One (eOne) division in a realignment that will result in somewhere between 50-60 jobs lost. In a memo obtained by Deadline last week, eOne’s President of Film & TV Steve Bertram explained the decision to...

Fantasy Flight Games unveils three new squadron packs for 'Star Wars: X-Wing'. Fantasy Flight Games unveiled three new squadron packs for Star Wars: X-Wing miniatures game for release on March 26. The Phoenix Cell Squadron Pack adds a A/SF-01 B-Wing miniature and two RZ-1 A-Wing miniatures in bold new paint schemes to games of Star Wars: X-Wing. These ships are piloted by early heroes of the Rebellion such...

Rescue dog plush maker Pibborafi eyes UK sales as pandemic fuels triple digit growth. A toy company that manufactures, sells, and donates plush toys for children designed after real-life rescued dogs has seen triple digit growth in the market, fuelled by the nation’s love of pets and increased pet ownership over the course of the pandemic. A US-based toy manufacturer that has just opened up business to the UK . . .

Pegasus Spiele reveals 'Space Dragons'. Pegasus Spiele revealed Space Dragons, a card dice game by Richi Haarhoff, for release in June. In Space Dragons, players assemble a crew deck to go on a galactic voyage to face dragons in space. The game happens over the course of seven rounds where players try to maintain a balance between capturing high-point dragons and the cost of the damage to their ship incurred...

Visit a land made of treats in 'Sweetlandia'. Ultra PRO will release Sweetlandia, a new board game by Stone Blade Entertainment, into retail in March. In Sweetlandia, players take on the roles of urban planners for a city made of treats. They can use bidding cards to get building areas from Gumdrop Garden, Rocky Road, Marshmallow Mountain, Lemonade Lake, Candy Cornfields, and others. 

Beatles Freight Wagons from Hornby. Model train enthusiasts can add to their collection with the release of four new Beatles-licensed freight wagons from Hornby. The UK-based producer of train sets, railcars, model buildings, and accessories is one of the oldest licensees of Beatles merchandise. The company began licensing Beatles collectibles in the mid-1960s with its Corgi Yellow Submarine diecast model. 

Roll dice and devour cultists in 'Sticky Cthulhu'. Iello USA revealed Sticky Cthulhu, a dexterity board game, for release in Q2. This game is a new version of Sticky Chameleons, except instead of using sticky tongues to snap up insect tiles, players are using Cthulhu's tentacles to devour cultists.  Players roll the dice, and try to catch Cultist tiles in order to drive the other players to the brink of insanity.  

Wizards of the Coast announces four 'Magic: The Gathering' 'Challenger Decks 2021'. Wizards of the Coast announced four Magic: The Gathering Challenger Decks 2021 for release on March 26. Challenger Decks are yearly products that feature competitive pre-contructed decks for the current Standard format. This year's batch of decks are based on competitive MTG Arena decks, as in-person play has been suspended...

Games Workshop unveils 'Chaos Battletome: Hedonites of Slaanesh' and three miniature sets for 'Warhammer Age of Sigmar'. Games Workshop unveiled Chaos Battletome: Hedonites of Slaanesh and three Warhammer Age of Sigmar miniatures sets, Blissbarb Archers, Slickblade Seekers, and Blissbarb Seekers, for release on February 20.The Chaos Battletome: Hedonites of Slaanesh serves as a guide to the servants...

Capstone Games launches Family Brand division with two new titles for emerging audiences. The popular US board game publisher, Capstone Games has outlined its move into the family gaming arena as it ‘accomodates a wider audience’ with the launch of Juicy Fruits and Rorschach. The two new titles will be launched under Capstone’s new Family Brand, a division that has been established in direct response...

MGA Entertainment (MGAE) just launched preorders for its latest brand extension: L.O.L. Surprise! Dance Dance Dance! The new collection introduces brand new characters, fashions, and dance moves for kids to unbox, collect, learn, and remix. L.O.L. Surprise! OMG Dance Dance Dance dolls are the big sisters to the classic L.O.L. Surprise! dolls. The fresh lineup includes Major Lady, B-Gurl, Miss Royale, and Virtuelle. 

Far Out Toys Announces Launch of Far Out Studios. Far Out Studios will support the company’s current and new brands by creating original content relevant to today’s kids and tailored for the formats they are watching – from TV and YouTube, to TikTok and other social media platforms. Last week, Far Out Studios also launched a new vodcast on Far Out Toys’ Instagram channel called the Far Out Funcast, which...

Cartoon Network announces 300 hours of originals. With a fresh and inclusive brand identity front and center, the kidcaster has unveiled its new preschool block blueprint, which calls for 50 new titles and live-action content. This new content commitment comes on the heels of Cartoon Network announcing its intention to broaden beyond boys ages six to 11 to also serve families, preschoolers and girls

Rubies announces Joel Weinshanker to lead global business Rubie’s is pleased to announce that co-owner and managing partner Joel Weinshanker will have direct oversight over the entire worldwide Rubie’s business (Rubie’s One World). Relying on his many years of experience as founder of the National Entertainment Collectibles Association (NECA), a leader in the licensed consumer products industry,

Hasbro UK has partnered with the home delivery app, Uber Eats, to launch a free toy store in time for the half term holidays, as UK parents continue to hunt for new ways to keep their kids entertained during lockdown. The new collaborative effort arrives as 70 per cent of UK parents admit to feeling overwhelmed as they juggle work and home-schooling, while 56 per cent say they are concerned at the thought of...

Renegade Game Studios will release 'Subastral'Renegade Game Studios will release Subastral, a set collection card game by Matt Riddle and Ben Pinchback, into retail in June. Subastral is a new strategic card game, from designers Matt Riddle and Ben Pinchback with stunning art provided by Beth Sobel, where players take on the role of researchers looking into the planet's biomes. 

'The Game: Face to Face'. Pandasaurus Games will release The Game: Face to Face, from designers Steffen Benndorf and Reinhard Staupe, to retail on April 28. The Game: Face to Face is a new two-player version of the Spiel des Jahres-nominated The Game, originally released in 2015. In The Game: Face to Face, two players take turns laying down cards in ascending and descending order.  

(the above posted after February 12th)

Mattel Drops the Hammer on Disney•Pixar Cars Week NASCAR Collaboration. Ahead of the Daytona 500 this weekend, Disney•Pixar‘s Cars Week is back with an official NASCAR collaboration. Mattel unleashed a 1:55-scale, die-cast Cars NASCAR assortment that puts a NASCAR-ified spin on classic characters from Pixar’s Cars franchise and brings NASCAR drivers into the Cars franchise.

Catch Gold Rings with LEGO Ideas’ Super Sonic Set. The LEGO Group revealed the latest fan-designed set to hit the coveted 10,000 votes on its LEGO ideas platform, which was greenlit for production — and it’s a scene every Sonic player will recognize. Designed by 24-year-old Viv Grannell, a passionate, UK-based LEGO and Sonic fan, this set features her brick-made version of the iconic Green Hill Zone level.

Jazwares Expands UFC Ultimate Series with New Wave of FiguresAfter launching its UFC Ultimate Series last summer, Jazwares is expanding the line of 6.5-inch collectible action figures to include new designs featuring popular UFC champions. This new wave of figures includes Conor McGregor, Jorge Masvidal, Amanda Nunes, Francis Ngannou, Israel Adesanya, Urijah Faber, and a chase variant. 

Hasbro introduces Star Wars Mission Fleet in new animated shorts. A lineup of iconic Star Wars characters will be featured in a series of brand new animated shorts from Hasbro. The Star Wars Kids YouTube channel will be the home for three new videos featuring toys from Hasbro’s Mission Fleet figures and vehicle line. The new adventures aim to teach kids valuable lessons while introducing them to the new, smaller-scale Mission Fleet collection. The first short entitled, Even A Mandalorian Needs Help features Din Djarin, Grogu aka Baby Yoda.

Endless Games recognized by parents and educators of special needs children. Endless Games has plenty of options when it comes to exciting, original new board games, but in addition to the fun, some extra benefits are in play too. Some hidden benefits of Endless Games’ board games and card games have been exposed by special educators and parents of special needs children. 

Little Tikes’ Foamo foam machine brings the party anywhere. Foamo is a portable foam machine that is easy to use and just as easy to pack up, transport, and store. Foamo uses water and a Foamo solution pack to get the party started and get kids diving into mountains of foam within minutes. Parents can fill a 15- x 15-foot space in just five minutes and the solution provided can entertain families for up to two hours. 

The Pokemon Company ramps up TCG production amid ‘phenomenal demand’ and sell-out success. The Pokemon Company has stated that it is ramping up printing for the Pokemon Trading Card Game, following a surge in demand that has seen product sell-out across some of its newer launches. A statement issued to fans via its official website confirms that the Pokemon Company is “actively working to print...

Racing just got a major glow up with Sunny Days’ Glow Racers Hyper Bass. Sunny Days Entertainment introduces a new line of highly-detailed electronic cars that are just as much style as they are substance. Glow Racers Hyper Bass is a high functioning racing car geared for kids ages 3 and up. The durable, 10-inch model is equipped with enough features to make it a real car. 

Asmodee USA will release 'Matcha' into U.S. retail. Asmodee USA will release Matcha, a Japanese tea ceremony card game, into U.S. retail in March. Japanese tea ceremonies highlight interactions between their guests and their hosts that can never be replicated in the exact same way. In Matcha, players a try to collect the utensils they require to perform a ceremony by matching up tea ceremony cards.

Build Your Own means less plastic, paper fantastic! For Build Your Own, creating eco-friendly kits is at the core of the company’s brand ethos, and remains so as new products are developed. Toy World spoke to Keith Finch, studio and innovation director at Build Your Own, about how the company’s innovative STEM-led range is expanding for 2021, and why eco-friendly credentials matter to the team.

9 Story snags trio of kids shows. The distributor has added an eclectic mix of shows to its catalogue, including a live-action musical series, a fish-out-of-water toon and nature-centric shorts. First to join the distributor’s catalogue is CG-animated Weird Waters from Cleveland-based prodco Wayletta Productions, New York’s Meticulous Media and Moondog Animation in South Carolina. 

KIDKRAFT, TINKERTINI SEEK INVENTORS TO CREATE HIT WOODEN TOYS. KidKraft and TinkerTini have teamed up to mount a search for inventors who have fresh ideas for wooden toys. For more than 50 years, KidKraft has been a market leader in dollhouses, play kitchens, playhouses, ride-ons, playsets, kids’ furniture, and more.

TOY CREATORS ACADEMY PREPS SECOND EDITION. Following a successful launch last fall, The Toy Coach Azhelle Wade is ready to welcome another class of budding inventors into the Toy Creators Academy. Toy Creators Academy is the first toy business program of its kind to guide students through the entire process of developing new toy and game ideas into tangible products from concept to pitch.

I’m A Girly is teaming up with The R Collective to create the world’s first upcycled, sustainable clothing collection for dolls. The new collection will utilize excess fabric from the fast fashion industry to create new styles while drawing attention to wasteful practices in both the toy and fashion industries. I’m A Girly was launched in 2017 Swiss company Finfin AG to promote a mission of ‘sustainability with style....

Ginger Fox talks Millionaire, Taskmaster, and House of Games new launches for 2021  Millionaires, Taskmasters, and a whole House of Games Building on its successful range of games, Ginger Fox has been busy coming up with new and fresh ideas. Together with popular new licensed games, we’re bringing fun into your living room this year. Bring home the nation’s favourite game

Little Tikes expands Tobi range with Tobi Friends as “tech offers huge area of development for brand”MGA Entertainment’s Little Tikes division is extending the range of its award-winning Tobi Robot Smartwatch with the launch of Tobi Friends, Chatter and Beeper – two new interactive electronic voice-activated toys. 

More titles coming from Thames & Kosmos. Five games are planned for early summer. Thames & Kosmos has announced plans to release five new games into the U.S. market in the period from May to July, including Anno 1800 and Lost Cities Roll & Write in May, The Adventures of Robin Hood and Fangs in June, and a new game in the Adventure Games line, The Grand Hotel Abaddon in July. 

Pegasus Spiele will release 'Kyoto' into the U.S. hobby channel in Q2Pegasus Spiele will release Kyoto, a board game about the political dynamics of climate change board game by Deep Print Games, for the U.S. hobby channel in Q2. Kyoto puts players in the position of delegates of different countries negotiating at a climate conference. 

Games Workshop teases a new 'Warhammer 40,000' boxed set and codex. Games Workshop teased the Kabalite Warriors boxed set and Codex: Drukhari for Warhammer 40,000 which will release in 2021. The Kabalite Warriors boxed set features the slave-trading warriors that plunder and prey on the weak. They are heavily armed, and quickly dispatch any defenders of humanity with splinter cannons. 

Ravensburger NA announces another 'Disney Villainous' board game and a 'Pusheen' card game. Ravensburger NA announced both Disney Villainous: Despicable Plots and Pusheen the Cat: Purrfect Pick Card Game for release in February. Disney Villainous: Despicable Plots adds three new villains, Gaston (Beauty and the Beast), Lady Tremaine (Cinderella), and the Horned King (The Black Cauldron), for players...

Hornby unveils Playtrains range. Arriving in summer this year, Hornby says the collection will let children start to build their first model railway world, that they can then go on to develop, build and interact with. The Playtrains remote controlled battery train set and accessories is a completely new range that Hornby has developed for younger model locomotive fans. 

Cmon offers 'We Care - A Grizzled Game'. Capturing the zeitgeist of the pandemic, CMON is publishing a medical-themed version of The Grizzled entitled We Care – A Grizzled Game, set to release in Q2.  A portion of the sales will go to benefit the medical charity Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres. Based on Fabien Riffaud and Juan Rodriguez’ World War I survival game, We Care – A Grizzled Game puts...

Asmodee brings 'Influentia' to U.S. Asmodee will be releasing Influentia, a trick-taking game from Spanish publisher Ludonova, into the U.S. market in March. Set in a cyberpunk-style future, Influentia puts players in control of powerful families in a futuristic northern Italy.  Acting as top megacorporate executives, they seek to expand their influence over the game’s post-industrial dystopia, recruiting groups like netrunners...

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Video Games, Gaming Hardware and Game Development News . . .

Nintendo announces a new Mario Golf for the Switch coming June 25thNintendo is bringing back its Mario Golf series for the Switch with a new entry, Mario Golf: Super Rush, arriving June 25th. The game is the sixth entry in the series and the first since World Tour released for the Nintendo 3DS handheld back in 2014. It’s also the first home console Mario Golf since 2003, Nintendo confirmed.

Knockout City is a new dodgeball game from the makers of Mario Kart LiveVelan Studios, the studio behind the mixed-reality racer Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit, has revealed its next title: Knockout City, a team-based online dodgeball game. And it’s launching soon, as the game will be released on May 21st on Origin, Steam, the Playstation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch, with enhancements for the PS5 and Xbox Series X. 

PC gaming hardware and accessories spending grew 62% in the US in 2020. Consumer spending in the US for PC gaming hardware and accessories reached $4.5 billion in 2020. That's a 62% increase compared to 2019, and more than double the total sales of 2017, NPD said in its latest report. Digital PC games content also grew 19% in 2020, reaching $7.5 billion in revenue. PC gaming accessories overall grew 81% year...

Tighter IDFA privacy rules on iOS spell short-term trouble for in-app ads. Apple's long-promised changes regarding how advertisers can track iOS users are now right around the corner. Starting in "early spring 2021," its ID For Advertisers (IDFA) will switch to an opt-in system and in doing so reduce advertisers' ability to deliver targeted ads on iOS. With that change now nearly upon us, analysts at Omdia project a 17...

US game spending up 42% in January, says NPD. Americans spent more on games to start 2021 than in any previous January, according to the industry tracking NPD Group. NPD today reported that US consumers combined to spend $4.71 billion on games last month, up 42% year-over-year. Hardware had the largest relative gains, up 144% year-over-year to $319 million thanks to the launch of new consoles and the...

(the above posted after February 12th)

PlayStation Network was down around the globe for more than an hour. Sony’s PlayStation Network experienced a global outage on Wednesday evening that appeared to last for more than an hour. On the PlayStation Network status page, every service except PlayStation Video was marked as experiencing issues. Tens of thousands of users reported issues with PlayStation Network as shown by DownDetector...

NaturalMotion working on cross-platform games as Zynga eyes growth on console, PC. NaturalMotion is leading new efforts at Zynga to create a cross-platform title that would also encompass PC and console. The initiative was discussed with investors during an earnings call, following its most recent financial results, in which CEO Frank Gibeau said Zynga is "actively developing" cross-platform games to expand its...

Digital downloads jumped 47% across Europe in 2020 | European Annual Report. 211.9 million games were sold across UK & Ireland, mainland Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) in 2020, according to sales tracker GSD. GSD tracks games sold in boxes across multiple territories, and also counts digital download sales from most major games publishers (see the bottom of this article for full details).

French mobile studio Homa nets $15 million to create hypercasual titlesFrench mobile studio Homa Games has raised $15 million in funding to create new hypercasual titles. As reported by GamesBeat, the Paris-based company intends to expands its 30-strong roster of apps and games, which includes titles like Nerf Epic Pranks, Sky Roller, and Idle World. Homa's entire catalog has already amassed over 250 million...

Epic Games addresses speculation over IPO. Fortnite firm says it is "always monitoring the market" but does not announce floatation plans. Epic Games has responded to suggestions that it is preparing to go public. Speculation has been rife since it was spotted on social media that the company had hired someone to work in Investor Relations, with some believing this to be a step towards an Initial Public Offering. 

Toy Safety and Counterfeit Related Articles . . .

Toy recall 2021: 13,000 children's science kits found exceeding federal lead levels. Anker Play Products' 10-in-1 Incredible Inventions Science Kits contain several items, including balloons, a light bulb, stickers and a rectangle magnet bar that's painted red and blue. According to the recall notice at the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) website, the magnet included in the kit actually contains lead levels that ...

Rare metals found in toys and food packaging, is it due to plastic recycling? Some rare metals--commonly used in smartphone manufacturing and other electrical equipment--are being found increasingly in everyday plastics like children's toys and food packages, says a study. Researchers from the University of Illinois and the University of Plymouth tested a wide range of new and used plastic products...

 

The Real Threat of Fake Toys: The Increase of Knockoff and Counterfeit Toys Sold Online & How to Fight Back. On January 15, 2019, Meaghan Kent and Claire Wheeler published a whitepaper "The Real Threat of Fake Toys: The Increase of Knockoff and Counterfeit Toys Sold Online & How to Fight Back" working with and on behalf of The Toy Association and the members of its IP Steering Committee.

Press Releases . . . 

Spin Master, a leading global children's entertainment company, leveraging its unique understanding of play, reimagines fun with an innovative portfolio of toys, games and activities for 2021. With award-winning franchises, highly sought after licenses and trailblazing new intellectual property, Spin Master's 2021 line up taps into the hottest toy trends and pushes the boundaries of creativity.

A TISKET, A TASKET, TOSS IN THIS $7.25 TREAT WHEN ON THE HUNT FOR A CANDY-FREE EASTER BASKET. Yo Ring’s Teen Toy Inventor Puts His Finger On The Perfect Calorie-Free Goodie To Get Kids Movin’, No Matter Their Athletic Prowess. Kaysville, Utah (February 17, 2021) – Just a reminder mom and dad — Easter 2021 falls on Sunday, April 4. Like every other holiday celebrated during a pandemic, this one will be a little different. The Easter egg hunt might take place in the living room. Wrapping up a basket starring a chocolate bunny or sugary marshmallow peeps may not be the wisest move given how kids are constantly cooped up indoors. 

(the above posted after Feb 12th)

People of Play Announces ‘POP Into Spring’ Week. People of Play (aka POP / formerly CHITAG) will celebrate the official launch of its website and interactive POP database with POP into Spring week March 1 – 5, 2021. The virtual program will epitomize the organization’s mission of celebrating and empowering toy and game innovation in all industry segments worldwide through a week of digital networking, workshops, masterclasses and entertainment. The new POP Database is being launched as the largest searchable collection of people, companies and products in the toy, game and play industry. Participation in POP Into Spring Week is free for anyone with a Pro-level profile in the POP Database.

IT’S FULL S.T.E.A.M AHEAD FOR CRAFTY KIDS TO DISCOVER A LOVE FOR SCIENCE THROUGH ART. Painting, Sculpting And Drawing Kits Entice Boys And Girls Ages 4 to 7 To Glimpse The Amazing Concepts Of Science, Math And Engineering!  Who knew that a green blob of salt dough shaped into an alligator could teach preschoolers about electricity? A creative approach to the wonders of science, math and engineering are tucked into every Let’s Craft S.T.E.A.M. School kit ($18.99 to $32.99). In each of these ahh-mazing kits, the right brain and the left brain work together to make some fascinating first-time discoveries!

News from Associations, Trade Shows, Awards and Festivals

(ASTRA, Hong Kong, LIMA, Spielwarenmesse, TA and More) . . .

People of Play plans virtual ‘Pop Into Spring Week’ networking event. People of Play (POP) — formerly ChiTAG — is launching a virtual networking event next month. POP Into Spring Week seeks to celebrate and empower toy and game industry innovation through a week of digital networking, workshops, masterclasses, and entertainment. Taking place March 1-5, each day will be packed with content and events, including on-demand panels with industry experts that will also be available in live Zoom rooms for Q&A sessions throughout the week.

Focus on Indian and educational toys at National Toy Fair 2021. The Government of India is conducting country’s first Toy Fair that will be hosted virtually over a period of four days between February 27 and March 2, 2021. The exhibitors include Indian businesses that are engaged in creating a learning & playing environment for kids like PlayShifu as well as NCERT, SCERTs, CBSE schools & teachers along with....

Toy Association pivots in response to pandemic with Toy Fair Everywhere. As the Toy Fair Everywhere digital marketplace opens for business, President and CEO of the US Toy Association, Steve Pasierb, issued the following statement: “From Toy Fair Everywhere to retailer previews – the Toy Association delivers value in the absence of live events. The US Toy Association board and staff quickly pivoted multiple times in 2020, 

Mezco Toyz schedules “Mezco Toyz Fair” virtual preview eventWithout an in-person Toy Fair New York (TFNY) to preview its slate of upcoming licensed figures, Mezco Toys is the latest pop culture collectibles manufacturer, following others such as Funko and Super7, to schedule a virtual preview event. As announced yesterday via Instagram and the Mezco newsletter, Mezco Toyz Fair will take place later this month,...

Anime Central 2021 cancelled. Organizers of Anime Central, a pop culture convention which is held yearly in Rosemont, Illinois announced the cancellation of Anime Central 2021 which was slated to occur on May 15-17. Anime Central was cancelled again this year due to safety concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. Illinois vaccine distribution is slowly working its way through their statewide population, but not quickly enough...

Brand & Licensing Innovation Summits to launch this year The Summits are intended to guide the licensing community through changing retail, content and consumer landscapes. The Global Licensing Group, the company behind BLE and the Vegas Licensing Expo, is to launch Brand & Licensing Innovation Summits in Europe and North America. According to a statement, the events are intended to “celebrate the power of ...

THE TOY ASSOCIATION AWARDS 2021 TOTY WINNERS. After carefully examining 557 nominees submitted by 205 companies, a panel of 18 industry experts determined this year’s 117 finalists across 16 categories. One winner in each category, along with the consumer-chosen People’s Choice Award and the overall Toy of the Year Award were awarded tonight.

(the above posted after Feb 12th)

Booking for London Toy Fair 2022 to open in March. The BTHA, the organisers of Toy Fair, have written to exhibitors confirming that plans are in place for the return of the event in 2022. “We were so disappointed not to be able to host Toy Fair 2021, but rest assured we are working hard towards planning the successful return of the event from 25th-27th January 2022,” said Majen Immink, director of fairs and special events...

US Toy Association continues the fight against counterfeit toys. As the Covid-19 pandemic accelerates the growth of online shopping, the fight against unsafe counterfeit toys sold through eCommerce platforms is more urgent than ever – and a top priority issue for The US Toy Association and its member companies. a number of urgent measures still need to be taken by online marketplaces to address the safety...

Pokémon World Championships 2021 cancelled. The Pokémon Company has cancelled the Pokémon World Championships for a second year in a row. The event was originally due to take place in London last August, but was cancelled due to the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. It was pushed back to August 2021, but with COVID-19 still affecting many countries -- including the UK -- the company has decided...

E3 skipping in-person event again. The Electronic Entertainment Expo is planning to return this year, albeit in a digital-only format, according to a VGC report. The outlet cites pitch documents sent to a number of publishers proposing a digital-only format for this year's event instead of the usual event at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Like virtually all of California, Los Angeles County currently has widespread transmission...

Hub Games kicks off Retailer Virtual World Tour to showcase latest tabletop titles. Not ones to let something like a pandemic stop it from doing the rounds, the tabletop specialist Hub Games is embarking on a Retailer Virtual World Tour this month to demo its latest games to staff and customers. Over the coming months, the games experts will be conducting a calendar of virtual visits to retailers worldwide in a ‘joining ...

The Toy Association invites global industry to celebrate #ToyFairLifeWhile the ongoing pandemic may have left a gaping hole in the industry’s physical Toy Fair calendar this first quarter, the Toy Association is calling on the industry to reach into the memory banks and party like it’s 2019. In an industry-wide invitation – and as we approach the weekend of what would have been the annual Toy Fair New York gathering...

First India Toy Fair to be held virtually, dates announcedThe first India Toy Fair will be held virtually from February 27 to March 2, the government announced on Thursday. The website for the India Toy Fair 2021 which was launched on Thursday will enable children, parents, teachers, exhibitors, etc. to register themselves to participate in the virtual fair which will showcase various facets of the Indian toy ecosphere. 

Playmobil virtual toy fair opens next week There are limited spaces available by appointment only, find out how to book your slot to view the Playmobil ranges. Playmobil has launched its first ever virtual toy fair this year. The event has been carefully designed to take retailers and buyers though the new launches for 2021 and view everything on offer for the year ahead.

REEDPOP PREZ LAYS OUT PLANS FOR PAX, COMIC CON EVENTS Con Schedule for 2021. Fensterman commented on some of the most difficult moments of the COVID-19 pandemic for ReedPop. "For our events teams the challenges of 2020 were more acute and not all our teammates stayed with us through the journey"(see "Big Company Execs on the Move"), he wrote. "We said goodbye to many skilled and passionate...

Kidscreen Awards 2021 winners. Inclusive stories made a big impact this year, as did Disney, ABC, Netflix and WarnerMedia...but it was PBS KIDS that came out on top with the most wins. Elmo’s dance moves and host Emma Hunter’s costume changes may have stolen the show at the first-ever virtual Kidscreen Awards ceremony this afternoon, but it was PBS KIDS that walked away with the most wins.

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.

David Gold - Dave was with Ideal, Mattel, Spellbound Dolls and Just Play Toys. 

Darrell BurgeToy World is sad to report the passing of Hornby's Darrell Burge, well known for working extensively on the Airfix brand, who died suddenly on February 10th.  CEO of Hornby, Lyndon Davies, described the news as ‘very sad and very sudden’. He commented: “Darrell had Airfix running through his veins, working at Humbrol in Hull before he joined Hornby in Margate in 2006. Working with both the Airfix and the Humbrol brands, he was highly respected throughout the industry. He was full of fun and energy, many would have met with him at shows and events across the country. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his wife, Jane, his children Emily, Martin and Gavin and his granddaughter, Oriana.”

Darrell enjoyed a long and successful career at Hornby. As product manager at Airfix, he oversaw the revitalisation of Airfix products and the brand over the last decade and was a popular member of the Hornby team. His former colleagues have been quick to share their fond memories of working alongside Darrell over the years.

Geoff Hall of Geoff's Toys Toy World is sad to report that independent toy shop owner Geoff Hall passed away on 6th February at the age of 89 after a short illness.  Geoff made the move from running a newsagent to opening toyshops in the early 1970s, with the launch of the first branch of Geoff’s Toys in Coalville, Leicester, followed by two further shops in partnership with his wife and children. Having joined Toymaster in the 1990s to get better trading terms, Geoff became a longstanding and keen member of the group. He was still a member when the business ceased trading in 2018, after a successful 50 years. Geoff’s son Nick told Toy World that Geoff loved buying toys and was well respected by visiting reps and agents, although his formidable determination to get the best deal was something they came to be cautious about when calling.

Robert A. Altman, the co-founder of video game company ZeniMax Media, which published top franchises including The Elder Scrolls and Fallout, has died. His cause of death was not immediately clear. Altman co-founded the Maryland-based ZeniMax Media in 1986, ultimately becoming one of the video game industry's biggest publishers. In 2009, ZeniMax acquired id Software, famously known for creating classic games such as Doom and Wolfenstein. Last September, Microsoft acquired ZeniMax in a deal worth $7.5 billion. Altman was married to "Wonder Woman" star Lynda Carter. They had two children together, James Altman, 33, and Jessica Altman, 27.

Loretta Whitfield, co-creator of Black Baby Whitney doll, As a District of Columbia Public Schools and Howard University graduate, Loretta Whitfield, who died on Dec. 27 at the age of 79, knew the value of representation.  Whitfield and her husband Melvin Whitfield established Lomel Enterprises- a combination of the beginning of their first names- as a means of offering toys to Black children that looked like them, and with research and hard work the baby Whitney doll was born.  “Loretta [and] Melvin thought that there was a need to fill a gap that left children of color without positive images.  They spent seven years researching and developing Baby Whitney, a Black doll. The Whitfields even hired an African art historian to design the doll’s face, which is based on a fertility doll in West Africa,”  according to an obituary submitted to the AFRO.

The Baby Whitney doll was groundbreaking and featured as a toy to look out for in several publications, including the LA Times, Ebony and a 1987 New York Times article on the Black doll debate.

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Toy Trade Monthly Issues...

Weekly Top Stories from Toy Trade Magazines Worldwide...

Adventure Media & Events (US)

aNb Media (US)

  1. Hasbro Reports Fourth Quarter and Full-Year 2020 Financial Results

  2. Mattel Reports Fourth Quarter and Full-Year 2020 Financial Results

  3. Crazy Aaron's Launches Clean With Color Line

  4. Schleich Announces Double Digit Growth in 2020

  5. People of Play Announces 'POP Into Spring' Week

  6. BBC Studios Expands Licensing Program for Bluey

  7. Madonna Promotes I'm A Girly Fashion Doll Line

  8. Alma's Way Signs Brand Central as Licensing Agency

  9. Kidscreen Awards 2021 Winners Announced

  10. The Boys, Outlander, and Cobra Kai Secure New Licensees 

ToyWorld (UK)

  1. Blazing a trail …it’s the Friday Blog!

  2. Exclusive first look as The Entertainer at Asda trial starts

  3. Mattel reports strong sales increase for Q4 and 2020

  4. Exclusive: Mattel’s double digit EMEA growth the result of ‘foundational work’

  5. Hasbro posts strong fourth quarter results

  6. Asmodee acquires Board Game Arena as global digital platform for its games

  7. Little Tikes builds on success of Tobi range

  8. Exclusive: Dantoy offers the full eco package

  9. Playmobil virtual toy fair opens next week

  10. Hornby unveils Playtrains range

BUGG Report (Australia)

ICv2: The Business of Geek Culture's (US)
  1.  Gale Force Nine, Wizards of the Coast Settle

  2.  Games Workshop Previews Two New Space Marine Board Games for 'Warhammer 40,000'
  3.  WizKids Unveils 'D&D Icons of the Realms: Battle Mats'
  4.  2020 Was Record Year for 'Magic,' 'D&D'
  5.  Wizards of the Coast Announces 'Secret Lair: Black is Magic'
  6.  Wizards of the Coast Threatens to Remove Stores from the WPN for Not Switching to Wizards EventLink
  7.  Goodman Reopens 'The Temple of Elemental Evil'
  8.  Games Workshop Teases a New 'Warhammer 40,000' Boxed Set and Codex
  9.  Rolling for Initiative -- Problems with 'Pokemon' Preorders and Three Ways Publishers Can Improve Box Design
10.  Ravensburger NA Announces Another 'Disney Villainous' Board Game and a 'Pusheen' Card Game

TOYS Magazine (Germany) - posted once a month

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

Casual Game Revolution

News Flash: Kohaku and Royal Visit Released, Asmodee Acquires Board Game Arena
25th Century Games has released a new board game, Royal Visit by IELLO is in stores this week and can be pre-ordered online, and Asmodee has acquired Board Game Arena.

Video of the Week! 

The POP Week panels were aired on two separate platforms, there are slight changes to the version first aired on our website with over 13,700 viewers and on this

separate YouTube version we uploaded to share here...

Hasbro’s Inventor Innovation Panel - Where the Ideas Come From! 

Panelists: Inventors: Reyn Guyer (NERF), Leslie Scott (JENGA), Richard Levy (FURBY)

John Frascotti (President and Chief Operating Officer), Eric Nyman (Chief Consumer Officer, Hasbro)

Brian Chapman (President Design & Development, Hasbro), Tom Warner (Senior VP and General Manager, Nerf & Sports Action, Hasbro), Brian Jarvis (Senior Director of Design, Nerf & Sports Action, Hasbro), Kimberly Boyd (SVP and General Manager, Fashion Brands and Preschool Brands, Hasbro), 

Jeff Anderson (Senior VP and General Manager, Games, Hasbro), Tanya Thompson (Director, Concept Acquisition, Hasbro)

Hasbro Innovation Panel Title Frame 3.jp

 

Thank you for being a reader of the Bloom Report. — Mary and Graeme

 

Founding Editor and Publisher (1998-2020, Retired): Philip Bloom

We are honored to carry on Phil's 22 year legacy and continue the Bloom Report. Phil has been a mensch

and we've loved working with him. Here is a fun and interesting interview with Phil.

If you would like to reach Phil: philip.bloom100@verizon.net   

Publisher: Mary Couzin, Chicago Toy & Game Group, Inc.

Managing Editor: Graeme Thomson

Assistant Editor: Patrick Fisher