January 14 - 21, 2022
Welcome to Your Weekly News Brief
Happy Bloomin’ Friday!
London Toy Fair is on for next week, and though I usually attend, I opted to stay safe at home this year despite really missing seeing all of you at Olympia. What do you think will be the next in-person event after the London Toy Fair? DISTOY? ASTRA? GAMA? Licensing? Many have told me they will be attending ASTRA for the first time ever because they miss colleagues. I get it!
Cheers to our friends in London!
Thank you for reading the Bloom Report.
Person of the Week
Matt Kirby, Inventor of Apples to Apples, has been Busy!
Matt, what do you do in the industry?
I am a content creator.
What has been your biggest achievement?
Apples to Apples and DecadesMatrix.com.
What was your biggest failure?
Following up A2A.
What have been doing since you invented Apples to Apploes in 2014?
I've been BUSY!!!!
I created the Family - Pirate - Strategy game : Picaroon. Here is are the three level of rules for Picaroon.
Read More . . .
Professional Brainstorm Facilitator's Best Brainstorming Tips by Nancy Zwiers
I have been a facilitating strategic brainstorm sessions (“Clarity Sessions”) across multiple industries for over two decades and I’ve learned a few things that work.
As background, over 30 years ago, I had the opportunity to participate in a highly structured—and creative-- group strategy process developed by an ex-P&G executive, Ron Fotheringham (since retired). It was so effective, I brought Ron into Mattel (where I led a global girls’ toy division) to help us successfully strategize the relaunch of Polly Pocket and revitalization of Cabbage Patch. Later, I brought Ron in to work with my consulting clients at Funosophy, including Vivendi Universal. After Ron announced he was retiring, he granted me a license to use his process in my work and I used it as a backbone of my brand-building efforts on behalf of clients.
Brainstorming: What works:
20+ years of Barbie movies: A Comprehensive Ranking by Rana Schenke
If you were a kid in the early 2000’s or anytime after that, you might be familiar with the animated Barbie films — the first of which was released over 20 years ago in 2001. When I was a kid, I used to watch these movies all the time with my younger sisters, and we loved reenacting scenes from the movies with our Barbie dolls.
In 2020 after the pandemic hit, we decided to rewatch all of the Barbie films from our childhood to the present and rate them. Some of them we hadn’t seen before, and some were childhood favorites. Regardless of our previous opinions on them, we decided to watch them all and record our thoughts/ratings for each. This is my ranking of the currently released Barbie films (yes, “Barbie: Big City, Big Dreams” and “Barbie: Princess Adventure” are here!), including a rating and short review for each. Read More . . .
Can toy inventors help the USPTO? by Katharine Hadow
You have to be rich or highly-educated to apply for a patent. Right?
Last week I spoke to Crystal Hammond, USPTO Assistant Outreach Coordinator, Damian Porcari, Director of the Elijah J. McCoy Midwest Regional United States Patent and Trademark Office, and Deepak Daicharya, USPTO Outreach Officer, about how to encourage people of modest means without PhDs, especially non-white ones, to believe in their ideas enough to apply for patents. Here are some of the thoughts I came away with:
It’s a fact that most of the people—45%-- who achieve patents have advanced degrees such as PhDs or MDs. Another 30% have master’s degrees. Only 2.2% have high school degrees or haven’t completed high school. Women inventors are only 12% of the patent market. Does that mean that they don’t have ideas that deserve patents? Read More . . .
Financial and Legal
PLAYMONSTER KICKS OFF THE NEW YEAR WITH PROMOTION OF TIM KILPIN TO CEO AND SIGNIFICANT CAPITAL INVESTMENTS. With the retirement of Bob Wann, former CEO of the company, Tim Kilpin has been promoted from president to CEO. In his new role, Kilpin will focus on expanding and accelerating PlayMonster’s retail relationships, product innovation, brand development, licensing, and international expansion.
Cyber Group Acquires A Productions. The Gigantosaurus producer has bought a majority stake in the UK-based prodco, and the companies are about to produce their first animated kids series together. A Productions founder and joint managing director Mark Taylor will continue to head up the company with managing director and senior producer Katherine McQueen. Financial terms of the acquisition have not been disclosed.
UK Government Shutters Young Audiences Content Fund. The decision to close the BFI's US$62-million three-year pilot program on February 25 is "tragic," said Greg Childs, director of UK non-profit org The Children's Media Foundation. Since launching in 2018, YACF has supported the development of 144 projects, with 55 receiving broadcast commissions. These include mixed-media preschool series . . .
ChizComm & ChizComm Beacon Media founders Harold & Jennifer Chizick filed a lawsuit on Tues. against ChizComm & Genius Brands, (NASDAQ: GNUS). Mr. and Mrs. Chizick were wrongfully terminated by ChizComm and its owner Genius Brands, despite having founded and made ChizComm successful and performing loyally and in the best interest of ChizComm and Genius Brands.
***the above posted after January 21st***
Toys ‘R’ Us directors face new fraud claims over bankruptcy. Toys “R” Us board members and owners face new allegations of fraud and breach of duty over the company’s 2017 bankruptcy. Creditors claim in ongoing litigation that seven company directors have now said they knew they shouldn’t have approved executive bonuses and onerous bankruptcy loans at the outset of the case that put the retailer on the fast track...
Microsoft to Swallow Activision Blizzard for $68.7 Billion. The deal will bring Microsoft hundreds of millions of gamers, according to the Xbox owner. Microsoft wrote in the release that in addition to the 25 million subscribers in its cross-platform Game Pass service, which offers a rotating array of titles to both Xbox and PC gamers, the deal will give it access to “Activision Blizzard’s nearly 400 million monthly active players in 190...
Lego is being sued over a tiny plastic jacket in its Queer Eye set. Lego started releasing branded sets decades ago, finding an enormous level of success with its Star Wars series, but in recent years it started branching out into branded sets that are explicitly aimed at adult collectors—like multiple Friends sets and the Seinfeld apartment. That presumably requires a more complex licensing deal than Disney/Lucasfilm...
Social robotics company Furhat buys Sphero spin-out company Misty Robotics. Misty has had a hell of a journey of it. After raising $11.5 million from Foundry and Venrock, then crowdfunding its personal robot, the company hit a series of challenges. Today, Swedish social robotics company Furhat Robotics is offering the beleaguered startup a gentle landing in what the Swedish company says is an all-cash deal.
Turkey’s Spyke raises $55M in a seed round to bring a social twist to casual mobile games. Istanbul has become a city to watch when it comes to casual gaming startups, boosted by the likes of Peak (acquired by Zynga for $1.8 billion) and Dream (valued at $1 billion in a funding round last year). Now, a new startup is announcing a major round of funding to make its own mark on the space.
The FTC is reportedly examining Meta's VR business. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is supposedly investigating Meta's virtual reality division. The news comes from a Bloomberg News report that landed before the holiday weekend. Working with a number of state regulators, the FTC has apparently been interviewing third-party Meta VR (formerly known as Oculus) developers over concerns that Meta...
PUBG’s developer is suing Apple, Google, and the developer of lucrative PUBG lookalike Free Fire. PUBG-maker Krafton filed a big lawsuit Monday: it’s suing the developer of two mobile games that it accuses of copying PUBG: Battlegrounds, the hit PC battle royale shooter, and it’s suing Apple and Google for distributing those games on their app stores.
UK High Court approves Tencent's Sumo acquisition. $1.27 billion deal overcomes final hurdle as Chinese giant brings Sackboy developer into the fold. Tencent's acquisition of the UK-based Sumo Group is going ahead as planned. The latter announced to its investors this morning that the High Court of Justice in England and Wales sanctioned the acquisition on Jan. 13, with this order due to be delivered to the Registrar...
Parent-led lawsuit against Valve over CS:GO skin gambling is dismissed. A U.S. federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against Valve brought by the parents of children who had participated in the scurrilous world of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive "skin gambling," where users bought and sold CS:GO skins through third-party websites with the express purpose of gambling to win high-value digital products that could be sold...
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***the above posted after January 21st***
Future Financial Reporting
Spin Master will report its fourth quarter and full year 2021 financial results after markets close on Mon, Feb 28, 2022. Max Rangel, Global President and Chief Executive Officer and Mark Segal, Chief Financial Officer, will host a conference call for the investment community on Tuesday, March 1, 2022 at 9:30 a.m. (ET). The call-in numbers for participants are (647) 792-1240 or (800) 437-2398. A live webcast of the call will be accessible via Spin Master's website at http://www.spinmaster.com/events.php.
Hasbro today announced that it will webcast its fourth quarter and full year 2021 earnings conference call on Mon, Feb 7, 2022, at 8:30 am ET, following the release of Hasbro's financial results. Certain financial and statistical information included in the webcast, such as information required by Regulation G, will be available at the time of the webcast on Hasbro’s Investor Relations website at https://investor.hasbro.com.
Five analysts have made estimates for Mattel's earnings, with the highest sales estimate coming in at $1.68 billion and the lowest estimate coming in at $1.63 billion. Mattel posted sales of $1.63 billion during the same quarter last year, which would indicate a positive year-over-year growth rate of 1.8%. The company is expected to report its next earnings report on Tuesday, February 8th.
Keywords Studios forecasts €505m in revenue for 2021. Keywords Studios released its forecast for 2021 and the company estimates that it will generates €505 million ($570 million). This represents an increase of 35% year-over-year compared to 2020. The games service provider partially attributed this growth to reduction in costs due to COVID-19, relating to remote work, property costs, travel and business development. Looking ahead the group forecasts that the fiscal year of 2022 will see €569 million ($642 million) generated in revenue.
Trends and Market Research
***the above posted after January 21st***
Stories, Comments, and Advice
My Family Is Trapped in the Metaverse. rtual reality isn’t great, but it’s a lot better than dealing with everything else out there. ON A WHIM, I recently started rewatching Ready Player One, the Steven Spielberg adaptation of Ernest Cline’s seminal novel about a future in which virtual reality is the real world. In the opening scene, protagonist Wade Watts clambers around a ramshackle trailer park before placing a headset ...
Your Wordle strategy says a lot about how you see the world. There's a good chance you do not need a rundown of the basics of the online game Wordle. You have perhaps seen it appear in your Twitter timeline as cryptic posts from people you know, made up of little green, yellow and black boxes — these are people posting their results. If you ever played the board-and-peg game Mastermind as a kid, it's pretty much that...
“Street Gang” Tells Us How We Got To “Sesame Street”. Long-time CMF supporter and member of the Foundation's Academic Advisory Board, David Kleeman, SVP Global Trends at Dubit Ltd, looks at the origins and enduring value of "Sesame Street" through the lens of a new documentary on how it all started 52 years ago. "Street Gang: How We Got To Sesame Street" is available to download from 31 January.
Why 2022 Should Be The Year Of A Disability Revolution. Veteran kids industry exec Mary Bredin shares what she's doing this year to highlight disabilities in kids programming, and why it's important. Both my grandfathers had only one arm. They each lost an arm in accidents on opposite sides of the Atlantic. It was a very curious coincidence that my father took as a sign that he should marry my mother…but that is a different story.
Kids love linear…until they become teens. EXCLUSIVE: KidsKnowBest finds that children in France, Spain, Italy and Germany pick linear channels as their go-to spot for watching content, but this swings dramatically to streaming for tweens. In the US, most preschoolers (64%), eight- to 11-year-olds (71%) and 12- to 16 year-olds (75%) ID’d Netflix as their go-to for watching content. But four to sevens (67%) prefer Nickelodeon...
***the above was posted after Janaury 21st***
PlayStation inventor calls metaverse ‘pointless’ as Xbox invests millions. MICROSOFT is making a push to enter the metaverse, but PlayStation inventor Ken Kutaragi has dubbed it 'pointless'. "Being in the real world is very important, but the metaverse is about making quasi-real in the virtual world, and I can’t see the point of doing it," he told the outlet.
John Baulch, ToyWorld UK - The Greatest Show (man) …it’s the Friday Blog! I’ve been keeping a low profile this week, doing all I can to avoid catching Covid before Toy Fair next week. After waiting so long, I certainly wouldn’t want to fall at the final hurdle, so ‘bring your own bottle’ work parties have been strictly off limits. The good news is that infection rates are falling rapidly in London and across much of the UK...
Rachael Simpson Jones caught up with leading suppliers to find out what they are most excited about for 2022, what challenges lie ahead and how they feel the next 12 months will pan out, both for their business and the wider toy community. Although agreed that supply and cost challenges look set to continue, everyone we spoke to was unanimous about the resiliance of the toy trade.
The incredible story of the 10-year-old girl who owns two companies and could retire at 15 as a millionaire. With the help of her mom, Roxy jacenko, Pixie founded the toy company Pixie’s Fidgets. The firm launched last year and the toys sold out in the first 48 hrs and in their first month, they billed about $ 143,000.
Why You Can’t Resist Wordle. Unpacking the ingenious simplicity of the Internet’s favorite new word game. Before you ever played the game, you probably saw the grids on social media, five-by-six rows of emoji squares in gray, yellow, and green. At first they seemed mysterious. Each grid held a different pattern of colors. Some who shared their grids seemed proud of the results, others disappointed.
‘IT’S ME MOMMY’: TWO-YEAR-OLD ADORABLY CONNECTS WITH DISNEY ENCANTO’S MIRABEL CHARACTER. The joy on Manu Araújo Marques’ face spoke volumes when she saw Mirabel with glasses and curly hair—a genuine representation of her. On Jan. 8, Araújo posted a video of her daughter watching Encanto for the first time on her daughter’s Instagram. The video opens up with scenes of the toddler...
These are the video game studios leading the charge for a four-day workweek. In January 2020, The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe, the follow-up to 2011’s critically acclaimed first-person explorer The Stanley Parable, had already been delayed. In this situation, most bosses in the video game industry would consider crunch, industry parlance for predatory, often unpaid overtime.
Talking Shop, Sam Giltrow spoke to 15 indie retailers to find out how Christmas trading was for them, and how they see the year ahead. Many of those we spoke to agreed that Christmas trading had started earlier, with fears of stock shortages and the threat of possible lockdowns looming, spurring shoppers into heading to the High Street as early as October. Given the disappointment of Christmas 2020...
Women In Film Study Finds Women-Led Companies Receive Less Funding Than Male Counterparts. When Amy Baer left her job as president and CEO of CBS Films in 2011, she decided to go into business for herself. Though Baer had built an impressive résumé, including tenures at CAA & Sony Pictures Ent and overseeing and developing such hit films as “My Best Friend’s Wedding” and “Moneyball,” she struggled...
Viewpoint – key themes for the year ahead in advertising. Tristan Brooks, head of Client Services and managing partner at Havas Entertainment, looks at how companies can maximise their advertising strategies in 2022. “Be prepared for the unexpected” is Tristan’s first pointer, as he outlines how recent times have taught us the importance of having the flexibility to react and adjust plans at short notice.
What is a Chief Innovation Officer? A Chief Innovation Officer, often abbreviated as CINO, is the executive responsible for managing innovation within an organization. At some organizations, CINOs are responsible for coming up with new ideas on their own. At others, they are responsible for assessing employees' ideas, selecting the best ones, and overseeing their implementation.
Game Over? Why Sony and Nintendo Won’t Try to 1-Up Microsoft-Activision Deal. As tempting as it may be to make a merger play for top game makers EA or Epic, the cost can’t be justified — or in some cases, is simply unaffordable, experts told TheWrap. “There’s absolutely no question that Microsoft is simply in a different league than Sony, at least financially,” Clay Griffin, research analyst at MoffettNathanson...
Why Hollywood Is Private Equity’s New Money Machine. The Wall Street logic with the studio buys is that the real estate will appreciate in value, while the non-stop demand in film and TV productions provide steady and stable cashflow. After dipping their toes in the water through the talent agencies, investment firms have been on a spending spree, snapping up stakes in production entities, or financing new vehicles like...
Gaming companies like Zynga, SuperGaming, Gamestacy, now.gg, and Gamezop are focusing on hiring more women to make sure their workforce reflects their consumer base as the number of female gamers has increased exponentially since the onset of the pandemic. They are hiring women in teams working on game design, quality assurance, game development, and product management.
Behind the Movement to Create More Black Video Game Characters. The lack of Black representation in games stems from a failure to understand the Black gaming audience, creators say. Thirteen-year-old Edward Leonard of Bloomfield, Conn., has a message for the video game industry: “I would like to see more Black leads.”
One month ago, Kickstarter announced that it would be moving to the blockchain. The news was met with confusion, anger, and curiosity.
But what the news wasn’t met with was a clear explanation of why Kickstarter has taken an interest in blockchain technology. The announcement post itself didn’t go into much detail. In this post, we explain Kickstarter’s decision as clearly and impartially as we can...
History and Nostalgia
How the Trampoline Came to Be. Inspired by circus performers, George Nissen created the bouncing ‘tumbling device’ that still captures imaginations 75 yrs later. When 16-yr-old George Nissen of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, attended the circus in 1930, an idea started to form within the young gymnast’s mind. He watched the aerialists drop from their perches up high in the big top and land with a soft bounce on the safety...
***the above posted after January 21st***
Super Helmet 7 from Topper Toys. In 1965, Topper Toys released Super Helmet 7, electronic headgear that allowed kids to mimic “men of action”, like jet pilots, skydivers, and race car drivers — a claim the company featured in its advertising campaigns. The “7” in Super Helmet 7 was a reference to the seven safety features built into the helmet’s all-plastic and shock-resistant core.
How a design museum unearthed a treasure trove of classic Slovak games. Late last year, the Slovak Design Museum released a translated collection of ’80s text adventures from the region. The games, often programmed by teenagers, capture a moment in history when the first generation of Slovak developers were learning their craft to share among their friends.
The 10 most valuable toys from your childhood. Ever wondered what the most valuable toys from your childhood are worth today? If it’s time for a spring clean, then be careful not to throw out any of the toys that could be worth a fortune! Like many things from the past, certain items can become more valuable than their original purchase price as time goes on.
Prospero Hall Reveals Gameplay Details in new Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar Video. As the anticipation builds for Prospero Hall and their first Legacy game – the design team invites fans behind the scenes with a new video that delves into the rare and “clever” game mechanics of Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar.
WildBrain CPLG is expanding its multi‐territory representation deal with Peanuts Worldwide to include the Indian market. Under its recently launched dedicated India office, WildBrain CPLG will build on its successful EMEA partnership for the iconic Peanuts character brand and assemble a local cross‐category program targeting apparel, gifting, homewares, stationery, pet accessories and promotions for all demographics.
Hasbro Extends Licensing Deal with Disney’s Lucasfilm for Star Wars, Indiana Jones. Under the revised agreement, Hasbro will serve as the master toy licensee for both the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises. Kenner — now a part of Hasbro — was the master toy licensee for Indiana Jones in the early 1980s and made toys inspired by Raiders of the Lost Ark from 1982-1983.
Mattel Wins Back Disney Doll License from Hasbro. The toy and licensing industries are getting a royal shakeup this morning. After losing the rights to produce Disney Princess and Frozen dolls to Hasbro in 2014, Mattel has regained the global licensing rights for the franchises, including fashion dolls, small dolls, and figures. Mattel President and COO Richard Dickson says that the company is "incredibly proud" of the deal.
Launch of the first James Bond bear by German toymakers Steiff, the company that invented the Teddy Bear. Just 1,962 handcrafted collector’s bears will be made in a numbered series to mark the date of Dr. No’s cinematic release in 1962. Dressed in a tailored black cotton dinner jacket, white buttoned shirt, and black bow tie, the bear channels Bond’s effortless style, complete with black mohair legs and a 60th...
Sweethearts has announced a new, robust licensing program to roll out during 2022. The licensing program is managed by Lisa Marks Associates (LMA), the long-term Licensing Agency for Spangler Candy Brands, owner of the Sweethearts brand. Sweethearts has joined forces with Crocs, Inc. (NASDAQ: CROX) and Froot Loops to create co-branded items that will be sure to delight consumers. Crocs, a global ....
Playmates Reveals Initial 2022 Lineup of Star Trek Figures. Playmates marks its much-anticipated return, after a 12-year absence, as the global licensee across action figures, vehicles, ships and role play for all ViacomCBS Star Trek Properties. The first figures and toys from Playmates will be available to fans this summer in a collection of retro figures from the most popular Star Trek TV and movie franchises...
Wow! Stuff has been announced as the first licensee for ‘boundary breaking’ 2.5D animated series Odo. Created by Sixteen South Originals and co-produced with Letko, the series, which follows a little owl with big ideas, has now sold into more than 128 countries. In the new master toy global deal, Wow! Stuff will create a comprehensive range of toys including plush, dolls, figures and accessories, role-play toys, play...
Spotlight Licensing and Rocket Licensing welcome ‘All Creatures Great and Small’. Rocket Licensing and Spotlight Licensing are set to build a global consumer products program for critically acclaimed fan-favorite television drama, All Creatures Great and Small with Rocket leading in all markets outside N.A. and Spotlight focused on North America. The series airs in the UK as Channel 5’s top rating British Drama with 5 million...
The BBC premieres the new Wallace & Gromit in 2024 while Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget will be shown on Netflix next year. Work has started on a new Wallace & Gromit film from Aardman, which will see creator Nick Park direct his favourite characters for the 2024 release. The news comes on the back of the cast announcement for Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget which reunites the feathered friends from the...
CLOUDCO ENTERTAINMENT CELEBRATES 40 YEARS OF CARE BEARS WITH LICENSING PARTNERSHIPS, COLLABORATIONS. The anniversary celebration will see new Care Bears products and programs in toys and games, fashion, accessories, homeware, cosmetics, crafts, seasonal, travel, and yes, the metaverse.
***the above was posted after January 21st***
Hornby licence joins Kidicraft portfolio. Kidicraft is looking forward to a bumper new year, with an expanding team and a raft of new product on the back of all the new licensing agreements. The Hornby collection joins over 30 new product designs launched by the company in January across both its Premium and Prime 3D puzzle ranges. New lines for 2022 include Star Wars, Marvel and Discovery (Space and Monuments).
Zag and PMI join forces on Miraculous – Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir. PMI’s range featuring the Miraculous superheroes will include stampers, toppers, coin purses, key chains, plush backpacks and pencil cases, and a Matchify game. Set in the charming city of Paris, the multiple award-winning Miraculous has attracted a massive fan base across the globe with its beautifully animated, intelligent, multi-dimensional...
HBO Max as WarnerMedia Kids & Family announced that it has greenlit Degrassi, a brand-new version of WildBrain’s award-winning youth franchise of the same name. The new teen and family series helmed by showrunners Lara Azzopardi (Backstage, The Bold Type, Mary Kills People) and Julia Cohen (Riverdale, A Million Little Things, The Royals) will include 10 hour-long episodes and is expected to launch in the US ...
Lego Duplo Marvel app developed with StoryToys. A new app has been launched for pre-schoolers which combines the learning benefits of Lego Duplo with the fun and adventure of Marvel. Young Marvel fans can engage in activities with their favourite Super Heroes and help them to save the day, whether shooting webs with Spider-Man or rescuing a cat with Captain America.
Tonies enters the wild with new National Geographic figures. Tonies are going “Further” in collaboration with National Geographic Kids to welcome a dinosaur, a penguin, and a whale figure to the Tonies family! The Toniebox is a screen-free, audio-entertainment system that features a soft, 5-by-5-inch speaker cube.
People of Play
Herschend Ent Studios has recruited former Nickelodeon exec Keith Dawkins to fill a newly created role as president of both HES and its historic Harlem Globetrotters basketball brand. Dawkins officially started this dual position on January 3, reporting to Andrew Wexler, CEO of HES parentco Herschend Enterprises. He’ll initially be looking for new ways to evolve the Globetrotters brand from a live events business...
Genius Brands announces the promotion of Kerry Phelan to the newly created position of Chief Brand Officer. Phelan joined Genius Brands in July 2021 as EVP & GM of Global Franchise Management after serving for 30 yrs in consumer products & retail executive roles at studios, including Lucasfilm Ltd.,Dreamworks Animation and Pixar, building global campaigns for multi-billion dollar brands, including the Star Wars...
Pocket.watch announced the appointment of Manuel Torres Port as Global Head of Consumer Products. Torres Port will oversee all consumer products licensing for pocket.watch brands, focused on the growth of each franchise and the launch of new ones. With an eye toward international expansion, Torres Port will help pocket.watch navigate new markets around the world and brings with him almost three decades...
Discussing the World of Diverse Marketing with Wes Hardin on the ‘Power Kid Podcast’. In this week’s episode of the “Power Kid Podcast,” host Phil Albritton of Power Kid Design welcomes Wes Hardin to the show. Hardin is the owner and CEO of Diverse Marketing. Since 1959, Diverse Marketing has served the retail industry with a curated catalog of toys and games, gift items, and sporting goods.
DC Comics has promoted Anne Leung DePies to SVP and GM, replacing Daniel Cherry III, who has left the company. DePies, who has been with DC since 2011, had worked with Cherry in her previous position as SVP Business Strategy, Finance, and Administration. In her new role, DePies oversee operations, marketing, brand management, and other aspects of DC’s business, and she will work with CCO and Publisher Jim Lee...
WarnerMedia announced industry veteran Nitin Chawla has been named Head of Finance, Strategy, Planning and Global Operations for WarnerMedia Global Brands and Experiences. Chawla, who started January 18, reports to Pam Lifford, President, WarnerMedia Global Brands and Experiences, and Jessica Holscott, Head of Finance for WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group.
Goliath Announces Peter Boutros as New NA President and Wiebe Tinga as Vice-Chairman of the Advisory Board. Goliath, one of the few remaining, family owned global toy and game companies, announced today that David Norman, President of Goliath N.A., retires in March after serving the organization for over a decade. Peter Boutros has stepped in to succeed David Norman as the new President of Goliath, N.A.
9 Story Media Group has announced the appt of Katrina Hitz-Tough to the new position of SVP, Franchise Strategy & Marketing. Hitz-Tough will lead 9 Story’s recently established Franchise Management division to drive growth for select IP in 9 Story’s expanding portfolio of exciting kids’ properties, including the groundbreaking animated series Karma’s World (Netflix), the up-and-coming Ladybird Lu (HBO Max)....
Hasbro announced the promotion of Sally Carnota to senior director, U.K. licensed consumer products. Carnota will be based out of Hasbro’s Warren Street office in the U.K. and report to Marianne James, vice president, EMEA & Asia, licensed consumer products, Hasbro. “Sally has been integral in expanding Hasbro’s EMEA licensing business,” says James. “She continues to build strong licensee and retail partnerships...
Click Distribution’s Mark Hillier to retire. Mark will be stepping down at the end of January, when sons Luke and Lewi will take the reins of the company. ark told Toy World: “I’ve worked for 50 years now and I figure that’s enough. It’s been an incredible journey, and I have loved my time in the toy and collectibles business.
The Magic Maker: Jennifer Lee’s Plan for Walt Disney Animation — and Finding the Next ‘Frozen’. When her first film made more than $1 billion, Lee proved she had the golden touch. Now that she's taken the helm of the studio, she's under pressure to keep the hits coming — and she’s betting heavily on new blood.
Nickelodeon Animation names EVP of global series content. Eryk Casemiro now heads up animated series for Nickelodeon, while Illumination's Latifa Ouaou has been brought in to manage films for both Paramount and Nick. As part of this team change, Claudia Spinelli moves from SVP of animation development to SVP of series animation for big kids.
***the above was posted after January 21st***
Disney has appointed Joe Earley as president of streaming service Hulu as part of wider changes to the company’s direct-to-consumer business. The Mouse House is creating a new international content and operations group under chairman Rebecca Campbell, who is being handed an expanded role.
Podcast maker Tinkercast is working to accelerate its growth with two new hires, bringing on Sesame Workshop alum Jodi Nussbaum as chief operating officer and Ali Paksima as CFO. Reporting to co-founder and CEO Meredith Halpern-Ranzer, the pair joined the company earlier this month in these newly created roles.
Genius Brands Intl appointed Todd Steinman chief revenue & marketing officer for its subscription streaming service Kartoon Channel! Kidaverse. Reporting to president Jon Ollwerther, he will focus on driving growth. Steinman joins GBI from The Walt Disney Co, where he served as VP of media and entertainment solutions and insights. Before that, he co-founded digital media agency M80 and worked in several roles...
James Walker has been appointed as Chief Executive Officer of Character World. James combines 25 years’ experience in retail, licensing, brands and digital commerce and has held global senior management positions at Disney, Hasbro and McArthurGlen. Danny and Mark Schweiger will continue in their roles as Joint Managing Directors and will work alongside James...
HOG WILD TOYS NAMES STEVE MARKEY VICE PRESIDENT OF SALES AND MARKETING. In his new role, Markey will be responsible for leading all marketing initiatives and directing the company’s North American sales teams. About the position, Markey says “I’m incredibly excited to join the team at this important juncture.”
WeVeel LLC has named Jessica Kubinski as senior vice president of marketing and innovation. In her newly created role, Kubinski will focus on growing the company’s product offerings and global marketing strategy. She joins the maker of toys, crafts, and stationery products from Mekubi Design where she most recently served as executive consultant.
WarnerMedia has promoted Thomas Ciampa as its new country manager for Italy, Spain and Portugal. His purview includes regional theatrical distribution and production, content licensing, home ent., consumer products and advert. sales. Ciampa, who was previously SVP of theatrical distribution and local productions in those regions, takes over from president and country manager Barbara Salabè’s...
FableVision tunes into audio with new division. Anne Richards will head up audiyo-yo, which can test new original ideas less expensively and expand clients' IPs into the world of podcasting. Audiyo-yo will create original podcasts and audio content, develop podcasts for FableVision’s existing brands, and set the company up as one of the few animation service studios also working in the audio space, says president...
Lighthouse Studios has appointed animation consultant, Michael Downey, to the newly created position of Talent Management Director for the Kilkenny-based Irish studio. The announcement was made by Lighthouse Studio’s Managing Director, Claire Finn. “Since launching in 2017, Lighthouse has strived to build an inclusive, diverse and open culture that inspires and empowers creativity, fuelled...
Osmo From BYJU’s Names Peter Glovin SVP of Educational Sales. Glovin, a seasoned senior edtech sales executive, will develop and implement a U.S. sales strategy for the brand’s educational sales division, Osmo Education, as well as expand its sales team, targeting the Pre-K to Grade 5 education market. Osmo Education celebrated its fifth anniversary last March.
Diane Lee has been appointed director of Buying for Toys R Us UK. Diane has over 30 years’ experience in merchandising and buying, having previously worked at Toys R Us UK, Hamleys, Early Learning Centre and Mothercare. In her new role, Diane will manage and direct buying and product strategy within Toys R Us and Babies R Us.
Tim Hall to step down as Ravensburger MD. Speaking to Toy World, Tim explained that the decision has been made for personal reasons and that the company is in ‘excellent health’. He said: “I would like to announce that I have decided to step down from my role as managing director of Ravensburger during the second quarter of 2022 after more than 20 years in the role.
WarnerMedia’s Barbara Salabè is leaving her role as president and country manager for Italy, Spain and Portugal at the end of the month. In her region, Salabè currently oversees marketing, local theatrical distribution and production, content sales, home entertainment and consumer products, as well as advertising sales for WarnerMedia’s Italian, Spanish and Portuguese channels.
Viacom executive Joann Acevedo has been promoted from VP to SVP of softlines licensing for N.A. at ViacomCBS Consumer Products. In her new role, Acevedo will oversee strategy, growth, existing partnerships and new business opportunities in all softlines categories, including apparel, accessories and home furnishings, for ViacomCBS properties such as PAW Patrol, Blue’s Clues & You!, SpongeBob...
Michael McGinnis won the "TAGIE Innovative Art and Design Visuals of the Year" for his Perplexus GO! Harry Potter Golden Snitch handheld labyrinth. The Perplexus GO! Harry Potter Golden Snitch is a handheld labyrinth game co-created by Michael McGinnis and toy inventors Brian Clemens and Dan Klitsner of the KID group in San Francisco. (Photo courtesy Michael McGinnis/Santa Rosa Junior College)
Rubies’ European expansion bolstered by two new hires for Germany team. As Rubies rejuvenates its European operation and continues to expand across the continent, its German division has welcomed two new experienced personnel to spearhead its sales operations in the region. Alexandra Knack joins as Country Manager while Stefan Brandenburger will join as Head of Sales.
Companies and Brands
Underdog Games’ newest addition to the Trekking series, Trekking Through History, will launch on Kickstarter on Feb.1, 2022. Trekking Through History will join Trekking the National Parks and Trekking the World in Underdog Games’ line of educational, beautiful, and unique board games. This family-friendly strategy game features 108 remarkable events in beautiful, original artwork.
RAINBOW LOOM CELEBRATES 10 YEARS WITH ‘CHOON’S CHALLENGE’. Rainbow Loom is celebrating 10 years in North America with the launch of “Choon’s Challenge,” a special contest designed to support and celebrate arts initiatives in schools across the country. During the Challenge this summer, 10 schools will be awarded $2,022.00 each in an effort to help fund arts programs.
Moose Toys officially enters Games category with Clipology. The game, which Moose is tipping to be one of the hottest releases of 2022, sees screen time seamlessly blended with physical board game fun. The team at Moose says it’s continuing its cross-category domination by announcing what it calls the ‘hottest game this year’ at London Toy Fair.
Hape Launches Uniche Collective Specialty Division. At launch, the Uniche Collective features an assortment of products from five brands that have been specifically designed for the specialty toy, gift boutique, and museum markets. Uniche Collective is being led by Cassidy Smith, a longtime Hape veteran who most recently served as vice president of sales and marketing for Hape International Inc
Colors Tamil Builds Kids Block With Nick India Shows. The pay-TV channel has anchored its brand-new Tamil-language kids and family block with two series that originally premiered in the region a few years ago on Nickelodeon. The Nick Neram block launched on January 24 and features Golmaal Jr. and Rudra: Boom Chik Chik Boom, both which are produced by Nick India, where they originally aired.
MGA Sweeps NPD Results with Five #1 Selling Toys. NPD Group Inc. recognized five MGA Entertainment products as #1 Selling Toys in their 2021 report. The results are as follows – #1 Selling Toys and their Corresponding Categories – Rainbow High™ Doll Assortment in Fashion Doll Class - L.O.L. Surprise!™ Big B.B. Assortment in Large Dolls & Accessories Class - Little Tikes Easy Store 3ft Trampoline in Playground Equipmen...
Rainbow High Debuts First-Ever Chinese New Year Lily Cheng Collector Doll. NPD’s #1 Fashion Doll of 2021 and two-time Toy Association Doll of the Year nominee, Rainbow High, has introduced its first-ever Chinese New Year Collector doll, Lily Cheng, in celebration of the Lunar New Year 2022, Year of the Tiger. Lily Cheng honors the beauty and traditions of Lunar New Year, celebrated on February 2nd.
JAKKS Pacific has announced new additions to its line of ReDo skateboards with cool new updated graphics coming to retail and online this fall. ReDo Skateboard Co. features innovative design and manufacturing to offer the most enjoyable riding experience out there. ReDo Skateboard Co. has carefully crafted boards that provide ease, trick capability, and balance with extensive engineering and research.
TikTok is building a number of new features, including Bitmoji-like avatars, keyword filtering for the For You Page, group chats, audio-only livestreams, screen sharing on livestreams and Twitch-like subscription features, which would allow creators to make subscriber-only emotes and subscriber-only comment sections.
YouTube is touting the explosive popularity of its TikTok-style short-form Shorts video feature and is going to test out new monetization features for YouTube Shorts creators. Since first launching YouTube Shorts in September 2020, the Google-owned video giant has served more than 5 trillion short-form videos, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki wrote in an update to creators Tuesday.
Netflix Launches First Kids Podcast & Mag. The streaming giant premiered a bedtime-focused podcast for children yesterday, and is prepping the first issue of its bi-monthly Netflix Jr. Magazine for a spring rollout. Bedtime Stories premiered on Jan. 24 on Netflix Jr.’s YouTube channel and features eight 10- to 15-min episodes that spotlight characters from Netflix kids series like Ada Twist, Scientist, StoryBots, Ridley Jones, Go!...
Just Play Creates New Entertainment Content Division: Just Play Entertainment & Gaming. Just Play, a leading global consumer products company behind several best-selling toy lines including Blue's Clues & You!, CoComelon, Disney Doorables, and Slinky announced today the launch of a new entertainment div. focused on the creation of new and original IP through content and gaming, and the appointment of Stone Newman...
Gibsons has launched nearly 50 new jigsaw puzzles in time for trade show season, with visitors to London Toy Fair. Among the new puzzles are some exciting additions, the first of which is Troopers on Tour, a 1000 piece puzzle which is a collaboration with the Original Stormtrooper brand and depicts a montage of polaroids, showing what stormtroopers get up to when they’re off duty.
Vivid Goliath eyes further games growth with multiple launches. Vivid Goliath’s Games portfolio offers everything from Party, Family games and Escape Room titles to an exciting new True Crime category developed together with world-leading podcasts of the same genre. The company says these new titles will further bolster its Games range after a bumper 2021 performance that showed year-on-year growth of +20%.
Meijer, Walmart, Kroger to distribute free N95 masks Meijer will provide free N95 face masks to customers after receiving around 3 million masks in a US Department of Health and Human Services program. Other grocers and retailers, including Kroger, Walmart, CVS and Walgreens, will also provide free masks to customers as part of the program.
Funko Games is debuting two new games at the London Toy Fair, both based on much-loved, iconic movie properties. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial: Light Years From Home, coming to Europe and N.A. this summer, is inspired by the classic film from Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment – E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. The game’s arrival will be perfectly timed for the film’s 40th anniversary this year, and will introduce...
Recyclings collectibles rack up 1.2m YouTube views ahead of launch Due for launch in stores imminently, Recyclings from Vivid Goliath Group and Headstart have already racked up 1.2 million views on their YouTube channel. The channel will continue to expand online and showcase a mixture of music videos and animated comedy shorts, the latest video answering the age-old question; does pineapple belong on pizza?
There’s a new company in town! Alisa Toys Inc. is a newly formed U.S. subsidiary of a large Eastern European toy company. With around a quarter-century of experience and currently selling its products in more than 20 countries, Alisa is making its way to the U.S. The Toy Book spoke with Alisa Toys’ CEO Jane French about the company’s expansion to the U.S. market, new product lines, and all this company has to offer.
***The above was posted after January 21st***
Netflix has committed US$1 million to support Sub-Saharan African film and TV students. The Netflix Creative Equity Scholarship Fund, part of Netflix’s Creative Equity Fund, will cover tuition costs, accommodation, study materials and living expenses at Sub-Saharan TV and film school programs for the 2022/2023 academic year. The scholarship is open to student from eligible countries, including Angola, Botswana, the ...
Spotify announced an exclusive multi-year agreement featuring some of the most beloved voices within the kids’ entertainment space. Through this initiative, Spotify will partner with CoComelon, the #1 kids channel on YouTube which garners over 4.2 billion views per month, produced by Moonbug Entertainment for a new podcast, CoComelon Storytime. The show will be followed by a mix of other original...
Ida B. Wells Barbie Flying Off Store Shelves In Chicago, Delighting Family Members Who Helped Create Doll. The doll aims to capture the moment when Wells, a famed journalist who worked for many years in Chicago, was editor in chief of her own newspaper and launched her anti-lynching work.
Even More Snacks Join the My Squishy Littles Family. First, there were My Squishy Little Dumplings, and now, WowWee is expanding the line with even more snack-themed collectible companions. My Squishy Little Snack Packs extends the fun with 56 characters for kids to collect. Like My Squishy Little Dumplings, the characters include accessories to give them more personality.
LEGO Debuts The Globe Construction Set. Geared toward travelers and geography enthusiasts alike, The Globe is a realistic, 2585-piece customizable spinning Earth that uses standard LEGO bricks for the globe itself as well as Technic elements for the spinning axis.
Melissa & Doug Ramps up Sustainability Efforts. As one of the three pillars of its “Project Restore” initiative that the company revealed last year, becoming fully Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified was originally intended to take place by 2025. Now, Melissa & Doug says that it will surpass that goal by the end of this year.
Moose Toys Reveals First Look at New Octonauts Toy Line. Beginning this August, a new line of action figures, vehicles, playsets, and plush featuring Captain Barnacles, Kwazii, Peso, and the rest of the Octocrew will surface at retail. Moose Toys created its new Octonauts line in partnership with Silvergate Media.
Exploding Kittens is blending the worlds of NFTs and 3D printing in a new partnership with 3D laser printing startup Glowforge. The companies are introducing limited-edition printable NFTs for Exploding Kittens’ latest card game Happy Salmon (pictured), which launched last November. The NFTs, 10 in total, can be used to print a collectible hardwood box that ties into the game for kids ages six and up.
JAKKS Pacific announced its new additions to its line of Perfectly Cute baby dolls & accessories for Target this Spring. With record breaking sales over 2021, this line is sure to be in high demand in the 1st qtr. “Our Perfectly Cute line saw tremendous success at retail in fall and we are excited to bring add'l new items to Target this spring that offer up more ways for kids to roleplay what they see at home,” said Jeremy Sueper...
DeAPlaneta and Planeta Jr, both Planeta/De Agostini Group companies, are coming together under DeAPlaneta Entertainment. This merger of the two companies is due to a strategic reorganization that aims to consolidate their leadership in the entertainment segment, to articulate their business model more efficiently and to be more agile in order to respond to the new needs of a global, multi-channel market.
Cepia LLC’s Dogs vs Squirls come out to play. Cepia LLC will be at London Toy Fair next week, showcasing the latest products from its brand portfolio of “in real life” (IRL) iconic character match-ups, which are core to the firm’s “Versus World” concept. Visitors can expect more from the world of Cats vs Pickles (CvP), wherein Cats are afraid of Pickles, but Pickles just...
Just Play on the official launch of the UK business. The past few months have been busy for Just Play UK, locking down the final operational elements needed to begin trading and bringing its team, which was five strong in the summer, to eight, ready for launch. Katie Gritt has joined as head of marketing communications UK, while Charlotte Rogers has brought her knowledge of the Just Play business from Flair, ...
Kidicraft is kick starting 2022 with the addition of seven new sales agents taking the team to 11 in total. The company has welcomed Bob Duxbury, sales agent for the North East; Craig Kidd, business development manager; Steve Davies, sales agent for Wales; Trish Easter, sales agent for the South West, and Sarah Hobbs, sales agent for the Midlands.
Magic Box opens UK office as growth plans progress. UK managing director, Nicola Bergot, has shared details of the team who join her in the new look UK company ahead of next week’s London Toy Fair. “As we make our transition from a purely collectibles company to a toy company, we have brought in an experienced and talented team from the toy Industry,” she commented.
Toymaster ensures a bright future for indies. The buying group outlines what membership offers independent retailers, from access to its branded and themed window programme to its standout central invoicing system. An adaptable, passionate and dedicated bunch, Toymaster’s members have worked incredibly hard over the past couple of years to both retain existing customers and attract new ones, and....
The big-box retailer filed several new trademarks late last month that indicate its intent to make and sell virtual goods, including electronics, home decorations, toys, sporting goods and personal care products. In a separate filing, the company said it would offer users a virtual currency...
Max Rangel, Spin Master’s CEO and Global President, on the key factors driving the company’s success. (ToyNews UK interview) How has the toy landscape developed into digital games? “At Spin Master, our toys are designed to foster creativity and imagination, with open ended play opportunities. Our digital games offering mirrors this ethos, with Toca Boca apps created as digital playgrounds for kids to explore...
Playmobil unveils iconic Mini Cooper. The Playmobil Mini Cooper has been reproduced in its original design with authentic details including matching figures and accessories. The Mini Cooper symbolizes for many the independence and spontaneity of the 1960s. Now the unique combination of classic British style in a small size, fun and nimble package appears in Playmobil format, with lovingly detailed design...
Jazwares senior VP, Europe, Jonny Taylor & MD of UK & Nordics, Holly Oldham give Toy World the lowdown on the company. Jazwares enjoyed a recordbreaking year in 2021, fuelled by its phenomenal portfolio of brands and with a host of new launches in the pipeline, another bumper year is on the cards for 2022. As the company looks forward to celebrating its 25th anniversary and the 10th yr of its UK office...
Vivid Goliath relaunches Sky Dancers in partnership with Lansay. Fuschia Fantasy, Coral Cutie and Purple-Licious are the Sky Dancers making their return in July 2022. A product with a huge legacy of success selling 22mn units between 1995 and 1997, the new improved version is set to make a mark with an entire new audience – and with some hankering after memories past. The update includes modernized outfits...
Asmosdee's digital board game, Pandemic, has been quietly withdrawn from sale "for a multitude of reasons that cannot disclose. Without formal announcement, Pandemic was delisted from Steam on 6th Jan, and it looks as though players can't pick it up on mobile devices now, either. All signs of the game have been scrubbed from the company's website, too.
MATTEL, MILESTONE LAUNCH ‘HOT WHEELS UNLEASHED’ DESIGN BATTLE. The Hot Wheels Unleashed Design Battle runs from now until Feb. 14. Participants will design a “livery” — the paint scheme and sticker design used in motorsports — for the Hot Wheels Rodger Dodger die-cast model using the in-game Livery Editor. The winning design will then be transformed into a real, 1:64-scale Hot Wheels die-cast car that will...
CAMP CONTINUES NATIONAL RETAIL EXPANSION WITH GREATER BOSTON AREA STORE. Opening Feb. 3, the store will feature a “Canteen” that will function as the retail section of the location, displaying toys, gifts, books, and accessories for families to shop. In typical CAMP fashion, a Magic Door will be hidden somewhere within the Canteen that, upon opening, will act as a portal to the themed experience.
'Exit: Nightfall Manor' features four jigsaw puzzles. Thames and Kosmos announced Exit: Nightfall Manor, an escape room board game, for release on March 25, 2022. In this new Exit game, players explore a dark castle on the edge of a forest looking for an old man. The old man travelled to Nightfall Manor in search of its shadowy and mysterious lord.
Games Workshop unleashes 'Fury of the Deep' starter set. Games Workshop unleashed Fury of the Deep, a starter set for Warhammer Age of Sigmar, which will release on January 22, 2022. This starter set pits the Fyreslayers against the Idoneth Deepkin in a battle over the magmahold of Ryftmar. The set includes the debut of two miniatures sculpts: the Auric Flamekeeper and the Akhelian Thrallmaster.
Simba Smoby Toys UK presents new doll line B-Kind, plus outdoor toys and more. New doll collection B-Kind has been designed not only to be eco-conscious but also to promote positive messages of kindness, creativity and compassion. Available from January, the dolls are produced to be eco-conscious, made from recycled materials and dressed in eco-fashions; the packaging is environmentally friendly, too.
Kirby announced a new line of soft toys and gadgets to celebrate its 30th anniversary. The festivities in the gaming world never end! After the long celebrations of 30 years of Sonic, the darling of the house of SEGA, another popular video game character has been brought to the spotlight. mark 30th Anniversary From KirbyAnd Hal Lab, the developer of the series, promised fans a year full of themed events and products.
Red Toolbox and Tasty team up for line of pretend play kitchen sets. Things are getting tasty in the Red Toolbox kitchen! The kids’ toy brand announced its new line of licensed toys for kids, Tasty, Jr., inspired by the recipes featured on Buzzfeed’s social food network, Tasty. The collection will feature pretend play toys, including a blender set, a mixer set, a toaster, a microwave, a kettle set, a coffee maker, a donut shop set,...
Kroeger, Room Copenhagen ink North American distribution deal for LEGO, Crayola storage solutions. Beginning March 1, Toronto-based Kroeger Inc. will offer a full range of colorful — and creative — storage solutions inspired by LEGO and Crayola. Under a deal with Room Copenhagen, Kroeger has been granted “near-exclusive” distribution rights for the company’s products.
First UK store of China's leading art toy company POP MART attracts local fans. On January 15th, 2022, POP MART, the global culture and entertainment company best known for art toys and collectible toys, started trial operation of its first UK store in Shaftesbury Avenue, central London. As POP MART's first store in Europe, local customers can now feel the charm of art toys and its mystery toy boxes.
Thames & Kosmos unveils new 'Lord of The Rings' 'Exit' game. Thames & Kosmos unveiled Exit: LotR - Shadows Over Middle Earth, an escape room board game, for release in June 2022. Exit heads to the land of Mordor where players follow Samwise Gamgee and Frodo on an epic, puzzle-solving adventure.
'Questlings RPG' heads to retail. Leitman Games will release Questlings RPG into retail on January 26, 2022. In Questlings RPG, players take on the roles of two characters. The first character is the player as their kid form, and the other is them as their Inner Hero that kid form wants to be. This game sends each players' two characters off on an adventure that is driven by a map and a storybook.
Gale Force Nine will release 'Doctor Who: Don't Blink' into U.S. retail. Gale Force Nine will release Doctor Who: Don't Blink, a new tactical board game, into U.S. retail on April 16, 2022. In Doctor Who: Don't Blink, players take on the roles of the Doctor and companions who have crashed The TARDIS on a derelict spaceship.
Ride the rails with 'Switch & Signal'. Thames & Kosmos will release Switch & Signal, a new family-friendly train game, into U.S. retail in 2022. In this game, team of players cooperate to make sure the trains stay on the tracks and deliver their goods on time. They work to plan and coordinate train schedules as well as make sure the switches are set correctly.
Gaming: Digital, Video, Hardware, and Development
Horrid Henry’s Krazy Karts to launch on Nintendo Switch this week. Novel Entertainment has partnered with P2 Games to develop and launch a new racing game for its internationally renowned Horrid Henry brand. Targeting kids aged 6+ and families, ‘Horrid Henry’s Krazy Karts’ will initially be available exclusively from the Nintendo eShop on Nintendo Switch worldwide from Friday 21 January.
Wordle’s creator thinks he knows why the game has gone so viral. Josh Wardle is the inventor of a free online word game you just might be familiar with. (If you change one letter in his last name, you’ll get the name of the game.) Back in October, the Brooklyn-based software engineer released Wordle to the world with a simple, elegant interface for guessing a five-letter word every day.
Developer of earlier Wordle app sees install surge, donates proceeds to charity. The developer of a five-year old app titled Wordle has experienced a sudden surge in downloads driven by the current popularity of the browser game of the same name. The more recent, browser-based Wordle, created by Josh Wardle, has seen massive success in the last few months.
Developer of earlier Wordle app sees install surge, donates proceeds to charity. The developer of a five-year old app titled Wordle has experienced a sudden surge in downloads driven by the current popularity of the browser game of the same name. The more recent, browser-based Wordle, created by Josh Wardle, has seen massive success in the last few months.
Games Industry Africa: South Africa games revenue reached $290m in 2021. Yesterday the African Games Industry released a new report that says South Africa generated $290 million in consumer spending throughout 2021. By comparison revenue in Nigeria was $185 million, followed by Ghana $42 million, Kenya $38 million, and Ethiopia $35 million.
36 million games and 3.4 million consoles sold in the UK in 2021 | UK Annual Report. 35.8 million digital and physical games, 3.36 million consoles and 10.6 million accessories were sold in the UK during 2021. This is according to software data from GSD, and hardware/accessories data from GfK. There was growth in the console space, driven by the first full year of the new PlayStation and Xbox machines.
Microsoft plans to buy Call of Duty company Activision Blizzard for nearly $70bn. Microsoft says it plans to buy major games company Activision Blizzard in a deal worth $68.7bn (£50.57bn). It would be the biggest acquisition in the company's history and is expected to be finalized in 2023. The move means Microsoft will take ownership of gaming franchises like Call of Duty, Warcraft and Overwatch.
"The deal that will change the industry forever": Analysts on Microsoft's Activision acquisition. The number of mergers and acquisitions taking place across the games industry has dramatically risen in recent yers, but every now and then there's a deal that manages to stun everyone in the business. Take-Two seemingly managed to achieve that with its $12.7 billion takeover of mobile giant Zynga, but yesterday Microsoft...
Analyst: Activision Blizzard purchase could make Xbox the dominant platform (eventually). It's always hard to make predictions in the video game industry, but it doesn't take prophetic vision to guess that the $68.7 billion purchase of Activision Blizzard will make Microsoft a lot of money. How much money though, and in what context?
Sony slides on Microsoft-Activision Blizzard tie-up plan. Shares in Japanese technology giant Sony have slumped in Tokyo trade after Microsoft said it plans to buy mega games company Activision Blizzard. The deal worth $68.7bn (£50.5bn), would be Microsoft's biggest ever buyout and the largest deal in gaming history.
With Activision, Microsoft is one gigantic step closer to game subscription dominance. This weekend, I noticed that my PS5 and Switch were literally collecting dust — and realized that’s because I’ve been playing my games almost exclusively on Xbox Game Pass instead. The service has an incredible wealth of titles.
Satya Nadella: Building a better culture at Activision Blizzard will require "significant work". In a conference call about the Activision Blizzard acquisition, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella addressed cultural issues at the company, saying that it will require "significant work" to continue improving.
Read Microsoft Gaming CEO’s email to staff about the Activision Blizzard acquisition. As part of Microsoft’s plan to acquire Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion, the software giant has created a Microsoft Gaming division. Phil Spencer, former head of Xbox, will now lead this team as it focuses on gaming across Xbox, PC, mobile, and the cloud. It’s a big promotion for Spencer, described as the Xboss by Xbox fans.
Read Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick’s email to employees about the Microsoft acquisition. Since Activision Blizzard was sued in July by the state of California for a culture of “constant sexual harassment,” among many other troubling issues, the company has been in a state of controversy. There were a pair of employee walkouts, and more than 1,500 employees signed a petition to remove CEO Bobby Kotick.
Unanswered questions about Microsoft's Activision Blizzard deal | Opinion. A look at some of the implications and possible knock-on effects of yesterday's massive news. Microsoft is buying Activision Blizzard in a massive $68.7 billion deal that will impact a lot more than just those two companies. There are plenty of question marks around the deal and how it will play out over the coming months.
Xbox Game Pass surpasses 25 million subscribers ahead of Activision Blizzard acquisition. Xbox Game Pass has officially surpassed 25 million subscribers, marking a sizable increase of around 7 million subscribers since January 2021. Microsoft tends to keep Game Pass numbers close to its chest, but shared this latest 25 million milestone as part of today's groundbreaking news of its intent to acquire Activision Blizzard.
Bobby Kotick will step down after Activision Blizzard acquisition wraps up. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Microsoft and Activision Blizzard "have agreed" behind the scenes that CEO Bobby Kotick will step down after the upcoming $68.7 billion acquisition is complete. Officially, Microsoft and Activision Blizzard have not confirmed plans for Kotick's exit.
Activision Blizzard confirms 37 people "fired or pushed out" in wake of lawsuit. Original story, January 17: Activision Blizzard has reportedly "fired or pushed out" 37 employees and disciplined 44 more since July last year in the wake of a slew of misconduct allegations, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal.
Xbox's Activision Blizzard is about more than beating Sony | Opinion. Microsoft acquiring one of the world's biggest games publishers is certainly not good news for PlayStation. Even if Call of Duty remains a multiformat IP (which given its scale and reach, may be the case), losing more big brands and big developers to Xbox is going to make life harder for PlayStation, and indeed anyone trying to keep people engaged...
Safety and Counterfeiting
India: Toys without BIS mark seized. Chennai: The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) seized 630 toys without BIS standard mark from a mall on Monday. A press release said a team of officials from BIS, Chennai, conducted a search at a toys shop in Phoenix Mall at Velachery. During the operation, about 630 toys worth around 10 lakh was seized. The Toys (Quality Control) Order, 2020, mandates that toys covered under certain Indian standards shall bear the Standard Mark under a licence from the bureau.
Highlighted Press Releases
INFLUENCER OR CREATOR? MAKE-A-FORT ENGAGES KIDS IN 2022 WITH A NEW TEMPLATE FOR BUDDING BUILDERS. Introducing Creator Kits For The 8+ Crowd To Engineer A Step-By-Step Shark, Jet Or Perhaps Tank For a Family Project That’s Instagram Worthy! This is the year that award winning Make-A-Fort moves from being an influencer to having kids be the creator. The toymaker built its reputation last year for its knowledge and expertise on durable building structures that are intuitive and irresistible to kids of all ages. The company influenced a new generation of kids to skip the couch cushions and build a more durable and exciting fort.
***the above was posted after January 21st***
IELLO, board game publisher based in Heillecourt, France, has entrusted Flat River Group LLC (FRG) as its excl. dist. for the U.S. & Canada as of January 1, 2022. “We are thrilled to collaborate with Flat River Group,” said Cédric Barbé, managing director of IELLO. “We’ve known Matt Stahlin, president of Flat River Group, for a long time. FRG's high ambitions for our flagship King of Tokyo and Bunny Kingdom lines by Richard...
SIX THOUGHTFUL VALENTINE’S DAY GIFTS WITH ONE SPECIAL FEATURE: TIME WITH YOU! Pull Up A Chair With A Loved One To Spin A Cupcake-Themed Game, Hang A Paper Chain, Ponder A Floral Puzzle Or Open A Picture Book About Love. You don’t have to wait until Valentine’s Day to show the special people in your life how much you love them. But February 14th puts the spotlight on who really matters. An offering of chocolates or flowers is nice but giving your time lets them know they’re valued. Lifestyle brand and toy manufacturer eeBoo has six sweet gifts to giftwrap for everyone on your list. Once opened, your present (and presence) turns into a mid-February playdate!
Associations, Shows, Awards, Events, and Festivals
Winners of the Toy Fair Editor’s Choice Award announced The Editor’s Choice Award has returned to Toy Fair 2022 with Rainbow Designs’ Talking Paddington voted the winner of the prestigious accolade. Second place was awarded to HoloToyz, while third went to Paper Engine’s Build Your Own Pinball Machine.
Toymaster releases new promotional video. The roughly 5-minute presentation highlights a number of perks, from the Toymaster Information Management System (TIMS) – an internal portal which manages invoices and payments to save members time by making the payment process as simple as possible – to the group’s relationships with over 150 suppliers. The group is also known for its hugely approachable, members-first...
ToyFest West – Moves Forward! Board Approves In-Person Show. We invite you to help Celebrate the 60th Anniversary of WTHRA in Las Vegas, March 9-11!. ToyFest West 2022 has relocated to The Expo’s South Hall at World Market Center Las Vegas, a newly opened, purpose-built trade show facility in downtown Las Vegas
The organiser of the Toy Fair, the British Toy & Hobby Association (BTHA), has today announced the winners of Toy Fair’s Hero Toys 2022, with Bandai, Character Options, and VTech amongst the 23 winners named at the first Toy Fair since the start of the pandemic. Used as a barometer for what themes will be fashionable in the year ahead, this year’s Toy Fair’s Hero Toys include a selection of popular licences such...
The Games Manufacturers Association has updated their health and safety protocols for their upcoming GAMA Expo on March 14-18, 2022. GAMA has responded to the current status of the COVID-19 pandemic by releasing new requirements for attending GAMA Expo. They are officially requiring that all attendees be fully vaccinated, as defined by CDC guidelines, which is a move they discussed back in October...
Winners of 57th annual Toy Industry Awards revealed. The Barbie Day to Night Dreamhouse, Mattel and Smyths triumphed at this year’s Toy Industry Awards, winning Toy of the Year, Supplier of the Year and Toy Retailer of the Year respectively. A TRA Outstanding Contribution Award was presented to Dream Toys’ Gary Grant for his individual contribution to the Dream Toys event over many years.
***the above posted after January 21st***
Toy Fair London soldiers on; event set to take place as scheduled. While Toy Fair New York and the 72nd Spielwarenmesse International Toy Fair have been called off, the British Toy and Hobby Association (BTHA) is holding firm with its plans to hold its annual Toy Fair in the UK. The Toy Fair is set to take place Jan. 25-27 at the Olympia in London.
Walmart U.S president and CEO John Furner elected NRF chairman. The National Retail Federation (NRF) kicked off NRF 2022: Retail’s Big Show with the election of Walmart U.S. President and CEO John Furner as the new chairman of its board of directors. Furner steps into a role previously held by Qurate Retail President and CEO Mike George. Furner’s appointment comes alongside the addition of Bloomingdale’s...
Spring Fair, which takes place from 6th – 9th February 2022 at NEC Birmingham, has announced a line-up of speakers for its Inspiring Retail Stage programme. The schedule of live content will cover a dedicated theme relating to this season’s Empowering Change manifesto on each day of the show, kicking off with ‘The trends that will shape consumer behaviour in 2022’ on Sunday 6th February. Highlights include...
Licensing International launches global mentoring programme In honour of Natl Mentoring Month, the leading trade organisation for the global licensing industry, Licensing Intl, and its sponsor Octane5, have announced the licensing industry’s first ever global mentoring programme, aimed at bringing the expertise of global industry veterans to young professionals. With an initial focus on regions including the US, UK, France...
Business platform Spielwarenmesse Digital launches. For the originally planned period of the Spielwarenmesse trade fair, from 2 to 6 February, new platform Spielwarenmesse Digital is offering a comprehensive live programme for all participants. Alongside a wide range of communication tools, it also offers the trade a compact overview of trends and innovations.
Bid now on the Toy Trust Media Auction! As the second largest fundraising activity for the Toy Trust each year, the annual Media Auction is a classic win-win scenario for all. Companies can bag themselves a media bargain whilst all funds raised go to help the Toy Trust’s chosen children’s charities throughout the year.
70 South Korean nationals who attended CES in Las Vegas last week, including 20 executives from Samsung Electronics, tested positive for COVID-19 and were delayed returning home, according to Korean news reports. The Korea Herald reported the Samsung employees were returned to South Korea on chartered flights Tuesday and Wednesday. Local health authorities said they could not positively link infections to the CES show, which attracted an estimated 45,000 people, well below the 170,000 attendees the show normally draws.
Following the news that Toy Fair New York is canceled again this year, The Toy Foundation‘s 2022 TOTY Awards are going virtual. Often considered to be the Oscars of the toy industry, the TOTY Awards program recognizes the top toys and games on the market and is a vital fundraiser for The Toy Foundation.
Omicron event impact round-up. The Omicron Covid variant that’s sweeping the globe is having a continuing impact on events in the U.S. and Europe, with news in the past few days that the Nuremberg Toy Fair is canceled, Angouleme has been rescheduled, and the Las Vegas Yu-Gi-Oh! Champion Series event has been canceled. Just days after Spielwarenmesse eG, the publisher cooperative that runs the Nuremberg Toy...
Toysmith launches ‘Joy Fair’ virtual Toy Fair event. Now that the speculation regarding Toy Fair New York and Spielwarenmesse has come to a close, the absence of the largest toy-related trade shows is sparking a new round of virtual events. On Feb. 7, Toysmith will kick off its inaugural Joy Fair virtual tradeshow event. The four-day event will stream live via YouTube beginning at 12 p.m. ET each day.
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.
Paul McLaughlin - Career artist who worked on Fable, Black & White, and Godus. The UK games industry paid tribute to career artist Paul McLaughlin who died aged 57 in December. His career spanned over 30 years where he was most recently head of art for developer 22cans. He worked on titles such as Curiosity, Godus, and The Trial. Prior to serving in that role he was studio art director at Lionhead for 15 years. At the company he was responsible for the development of the Fable and Black & White series. As reported by Eurogamer, industry figures who worked with the career artist shared their thoughts on his passing, one of them being long-time collaborator and colleague Peter Molyneux. "Paul entered my life back in 1990 when he started at Bullfrog as employee number four. He was the first proper games artist I had ever encountered. Immediately he became invaluable, an essential part of the many titles we all worked on. He absolutely made all the difference on Powermonger, Syndicate, Magic Carpet, Theme Park and Dungeon Keeper," said Molyneux. "Then, when Lionhead was set up, he not only guided Black & White, The Movies and Fable but also helped direct the company. A great artist, a wonderful mentor and an inspirational man." He continues, "Paul was a huge cornerstone in my life. He was a professional, moral and funny person who had the ability to see the fair and sensible approach in any situation. I miss him every day in every way. His legacy will be felt and seen for a long, long time." Paul McLaughlin is survived by his wife and three children.
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Zag and PMI join forces on Miraculous – Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir
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News Flash: Star Wars Love Letter, Fish N'Chips Pre-Order
Z-Man Games has announced a Star Wars themed Love Letter game, Asmodee has a new dexterity game for pre-order, and Asmodee is also set to be acquired.
Video of the Week
Opening monologue from George Carlin's "Life Is Worth Losing" (2005)
Bob Fuhrer recently posted this throwback on facebook and... well... Carlin is a genius! Enjoy!
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