the Bloom Report

Worldwide Toy Industry's #1 News Summary

Below is Jan. 15-22, 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!

 

This week’s POP panel: Inventing for an Invention House vs. as an Independent with moderator Simon Skelton (Director, Big Ideas) and panelists Peggy Brown (Owner, Peggy Brown Creative), Ken Johnson (President of Grand Legacy Corporation, Inventor of Phase 10) , Kim Vandenbroucke (Owner Brainy Chick and TheGameAisle.com), Mary Jo Reutter (President, You-Betcha Interactive), Jim McCafferty (President and CEO, JMP Creative)

 

We are announcing our new innovative trend event any day now! Watch this space or join our Toy, Game and Play Innovator Linkedin group for the latest news! 

Thank you for reading the Bloom Report!

Mary

tBR Person of the Week: Steve Starobinsky - So what’s the biggest trend of 2020? 

I want to go on record and say I got to Austin, Texas before Joe Rogen and Elon Musk. I moved from Los Angeles to Dallas, Texas in 2008 and haven't looked back since, and this summer in Austin I found a new appreciation for nature, the water, hiking with my dog, and board games. I was able to recharge for a busy holiday season in the industry of play. My last trade show was in February, so instead, I traveled through flavors, trying new home cooking techniques and combining cuisines that I've tasted and learned about in my product discovery journey over the last 15+ years. Even picked up a new nickname in the kitchen -- Steveo Bronzino.

 

I started a video podcast (vodcast), called the Happy Half Hour where I interviewed people in the business of Play. I met with individuals and companies from New Zealand to Bentonville. We began a social dialogue about new products, marketing strategies, and about the obligations the toy and trend industries have to end consumers and retailers with an emphasis on the environment and marginalized communities hoping to bring empowerment and positivity. I found myself gravitating towards playful brands and campaigns, in various industries, that are new yet familiar. It's easier to make something mass-market cool, than it is to make something cool mass-market. Brands that are transparent, authentic, wholesome, collaborative, and doing it for the right reasons are resonating. This pandemic's unexpected global byproduct is time, and we are questioning and experimenting what we do with it. With my extra time, I decided to follow the advice of one of my favorite guests on the HHH, former Spin Master CMO, Nancy Zwiers who recalled, "Give away what you want more of"; and I want to help people be successful in the business of play.  Read More...

tBR Service of the Week: People of Play

Do you want to find people/companies/products and do you want to them to find you?

Of course you do! For $50/year, they can! Or, for $250/year, they can find you and you can find them, have access to premium content, enjoy the POP Pub, find information and make connections to further your business! 

Many times a day someone reaches out to me asking me if I know some person or some company:

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  • located in

  • that invented

  • that supplied

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  • Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera!

 

The POP platform/database is your access to vital and immediate connections! There are already over 400 profiles from our recent events and we've only just begun. Over the next month, we will be reaching out to my nearly 50,000 strong database and my 30,000 linkedin connections to join this platform which gives you the best of linkedin+IMDb+Match.com for the toy and game industry. 

 

People and companies are registering and new features are being added by the minute... what are you waiting for? We've got the most powerful platform in our industry! Join here:  www.peopleofplay.com 
 

Financial & Legal News . . .

LaRose Industries Acquires Mattel Arts, Crafts, and Stationery Business, Including RoseArt. RoseArt is coming home. LaRose Industries LLC — better known as Cra-Z-Art —acquired Mattel’s arts, crafts, and stationery business. The deal, which includes the RoseArt and Rose Moon brands, reunites the family business under one roof and the leadership of Lawrence Rosen.  

“We punch above our weight”: Aussie games developer Big Ant acquired in $55 million deal. Aussie game designer Big Ant Studios has been acquired by French gaming publisher Nacon, in a whopping $55 million (€35 million) deal that founder Ross Symons says could put the Aussie industry on the map. Founded in 2001, Melbourne-based Big Ant is one of Australia’s oldest independent game developers...

Codemasters' directors vote in favor of $1.2 billion EA acquisition  Frank Sagnier, Rashid Varachia, and Ian Bell, who hold a combined 4.34 percent stake in the Dirt developer, have entered into a binding agreement to vote in favour of the deal at upcoming court and general meetings due to be held on February 3, 2021. The move paves the way for EA to purchase the racing game specialist for $1.2 billion,

Huuuge Games IPO could raise almost $400m. Huuuge Games has released more details about its upcoming IPO, a move that stands to generate the company just shy of $400 million. As previously announced, the company will issue 15 million new shares, and a release announcing the publishing of its prospectus reveals an additional 18.35 million existing shares will also be included in the offering.

The Epic Games Store amassed over 160 million PC users in 2020. The Epic Games Store now has over 160 million users on PC after an "incredible year of growth," according to Epic Games. Outlining the store's performance during 2020 in a blog post, Epic revealed the digital marketplace attracted 31.3 million daily active players last year -- an increase of 192% compared with 2019 -- and hit a peak of 13 million...

Runescape developer Jagex acquired by The Carlyle Group. It's the third time the UK studio has changed hands in the past 5 years, with Fukong Network purchasing the studio for $230 million in 2016, before selling it to Macarthur Fortine Holding for $530 million in 2020. Although the terms of the latest deal weren't disclosed, The Carlyle Group said it will support Jagex and help evolve the "core Runescape franchise".

Video Games projects raised $23m on Kickstarter in 2020, the highest total since 2015 and a 35% increase year-on-year. Interestingly, the number of crowdfunding campaigns for video games published on the platform was lower than in 2019 though, with a total of 1,331 compared to 1,403 the year before, according to the 2020 retrospective put together by Ico Partners. Out of those 1331 projects, 408 met their goals...

How toycos are rethinking retail relationships. IP owners like BBC Studios, One Animation and WowWee are tinkering with their approach to retail in a number of ways as e-commerce continues to surge. In a time when many of us are stuck at home—living and working between the same four walls—there is something particularly satisfying about making an online purchase. 

(the above posted after tBR released January 22nd)

Chinese government encourages workers not to travel home for Chinese New Year Some Chinese factories may keep running during the Spring Festival holidays this year, as workers are incentivised to stay in order to curtail the spread of Covid across China. China’s week-long Spring Festival holidays are less than one month away. During this time, factories traditionally shut down for a couple of weeks as migrant...

European Commission fines Valve, others $9.4 million for 'geo-blocking' gamesThe European Commission has fined Valve and five major publishers a combined €7.8 million ($9.4 million) for breaching EU antitrust rules. The fines have been levied against Valve, Bandai Namco, Capcom, Focus Home, Koch Media, and ZeniMax, who were all found to have engaged in "geo-blocking practices" by restricting cross-border...

Brexit charges start to hit British online sellers Estimates say up to 150,000 British sellers on Amazon and other online marketplaces have been affected by new Brexit charges. All UK exporters to the EU – including those who trade on platforms like Amazon and eBay – now have to contend with customs declarations and, in many cases, VAT registrations & tariffs, incurring extra charges that will impact their profit margins...

Fears grow of major price (UK)  rises due to increased shipping costs. Industry concerns about major price rises are now attracting media attention, as toy suppliers report ocean freight can outweigh the cost of the stock. BBC Radio 5 Live’s Wake up to Money program and the BBC news website featured a story which quoted James Owen, owner of Outdoor Toys, who suggested that sky-high transport costs and port...

CD Projekt faces a second class-action lawsuit over Cyberpunk 2077. CD Projekt has confirmed receipt of another class-action lawsuit from a law firm representing its own investors. The Polish studio previously confirmed it was facing legal action from the New York-based Rosen Law Firm, which claims the company misled investors over Cyberpunk 2077-- in particular, the state of the game on Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

Games (multiplatform) investments reached $33.6bn in 2020 across 664 transactions. In its annual report, InvestGame highlighted that the US was predominant in the investment landscape last year, representing 36% of the total deal value, followed by China at 27%.Mergers and acquisitions represented $12.6 billion last year, across 219 deals. It was dominated by purchases from Tencent (23 M&A deals), Embracer...

Italian game company daVinci Editrice S.r.l. (a/k/a/ dV Giochi) is acquiring Ghenos S.r.l.  The combination will allow dV Giochi to expand its offerings, extend its commercial network, and merge the two companies’ teams. The companies are in different parts of the tabletop game market: dV Giochi, which publishes perennial hit card game Bang!, publishes games appealing to families and casual players...

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Trends, Market Research Reports . . .

Barbie Named Top Global Toy Property of 2020 by the NPD Group . . . America’s top pandemic playthings: L.O.L. Surprise!, Barbie, Star Wars, Pokémon dominate soaring toy sales . . . 4 mobile game trends to look out for in 2021 . . . Comics on Kickstarter Up 59% in 2020 . . . U.S. Toy Industry Grows 16% in 2020 as Pandemic Fuels Play - a record year for the U.S. toy industry

(the above posted after January 22nd)

Across the Company, Dubit Looks Ahead at 2021 . . . Kids Insights – The direct approach: Will 2021 be the year for direct to consumer selling?  . . . Prepare for 2021 with new gaming audience insights . . . Top 10 Consumer Themes to Leverage in 2021 (Australia) . . . Chris Byrne - Inside the pandemic products trend . . . Full Year 2020 NPD BookScan - Top 20 Kids Graphic Novels . . . FULL YEAR 2020 NPD BOOKSCAN - TOP 20 ADULT GRAPHIC NOVELS WITH ACTUAL SALES . . . Full Year 2020 NPD BookScan - Top 20 Author, Manga, Superhero Graphic Novels . . .  Nintendo Switch accounted for 87% of consoles sold in Japan last year | Japan Annual Report . . . 2020 sees record US games spending at $56.9bn | US Annual Report . . . Why toy renting is set to take off in 2021 . . . Mobile gaming up 9% among kids. . . UK retail sales show rise over Christmas

Financial & Brokerage News . . .

The GameStop stock frenzy, explained. . . . All eyes on GameStop stock: The White House is now 'monitoring the situation'. . . . Genius Brands soars 80%: another short squeeze buzz? . . . Spin Master Co. given new C$33.00 price target at CIBC . . . JAKKS Pacific Inc. soars 6.97% on January 25 . . . Simba Dickie annual report 20/21 shows sales increase . . . Is iRobot Stock a Buy? . . .  Q4 Sales at IDW Publishing the Highest in Four Years . . . Digital drives Capcom sales to $622m . . . Peppa Pig toy manufacturer The Character Group brings home bacon with 25% sales growth

(the above posted after January 22nd)

Schleich GmbH enjoys 7th consecutive year of growth . . . Is Hasbro stock a buy?  . . . JAKKS Pacific Inc. soars 9.72% on January 19 . . .  Playtika IPO raises $1.88bn . . . IPO plans value Krafton at up to $27bn . . . Jefferies Financial Group Comments on Mattel, Inc.'s Q4 2020 Earnings

Future Financial Reporting . . .

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).

Mattel, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAT) today announced that it plans to release its full year and fourth quarter 2020 financial results on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021, at approximately 4:05 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Following this, Mattel will host a conference call and webcast at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

Hasbro to Webcast Feb 2021 Investor Events to include Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2020 Earnings Conference Call on Feb 8th and a Virtual Investor Event on Feb 25th. Hasbro, Inc. announced that it will webcast its fourth quarter and full year 2020 earnings conference call on Monday, Feb 8, 2021 at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time, following the release of Hasbro's financial results. Certain financial and statistical information...

“Transformation at Hornby accelerates” as hobby firm is on track for 20 per cent Q3 sales increase. The hobby specialist, Hornby has said it expects to see between 15 to 20 per cent higher sales in the financial year ending March 31st, stating that the “transformation at Hornby continues to accelerate.” The model train company has issued early reports that its third quarter of the financial year...

Capcom raises forecasts thanks to growing digital salesCapcom has raised its full-year financial forecasts ahead of next week's Q3 results report, thanks to high digital sales of its games. The Japanese publisher previously announced on May 8 it expected net sales of ¥85 billion ($792.9 million), and both operating and ordinary income of ¥25.5 billion ($246.6 million) -- all of which were higher than the company's...

Equities analysts predict that Mattel will announce earnings of $0.22 per share for current quarter, 5 analysts have issued estimates for Mattel's earnings. The highest EPS estimate is $0.30 and the lowest is $0.18. Mattel posted earnings of $0.11 per share in the same quarter last yr, which would indicate a positive year-over-year growth rate of 100%. The firm is expected to report its next quarterly earnings results Feb. 11.

Toyjobs has been the dominant recruiting

Stories & Comments . . .

A Game Designer’s Analysis Of QAnon. Playing with reality. I am a game designer with experience in a very small niche. I create and research games designed to be played in reality. I’ve worked in Alternate Reality Games (ARGs), LARPsexperience fictioninteractive theater, and “serious games”. Stories and games that can start on a computer, and finish in the real world. Fictions designed to feel as real as possible. (note from Mary: this is an older article, not previously published, but brought to my attention by a reader. It is a fascinating read, so thought to share.)

What the future of edutainment looks like. With kids out of school, students and parents need a lot more support. 9 Story's Angela Santomero weighs in on how that will shape the future of edutainment. COVID-19′s impact on the world economy is still playing out, and researchers believe we won’t know the true size and shape of it for years to come. In some cases, trends that were already picking up steam have ...

High grade 'Magic: The Gathering' Alpha Black Lotus goes for $511.1k. The PWWC/eBay auction of a PSA 10 Gem Mint "Black Lotus" card from the Magic: The Gathering Alpha Edition finished Wednesday with a winning bid of $511,100, more than double the previous record price for a Magic card.  After initial frenzied bidding pushed the price up past $700,000, some bids were disallowed due to an inability to verify the bidders. 

The LEGO Group joins the European Commission’s Green Consumption Pledge pilot initiative. The LEGO Group has become one of the first companies to sign up to the European Commission’s new Green Consumption Pledge pilot initiative as what the firm has said is a reinforcement of its own commitment to lowering its carbon footprint.The Green Consumption Pledge was detailed at a virtual event hosted in Brussels...

Dutch warehouses benefit as UK firms look to establish logistics base in EU. Hornby is among the UK firms relocating in order to offset port delays, extra freight costs and new VAT and customs fees. According to a report in The Guardian, logistics and warehousing companies in the Netherlands are said to have been inundated with requests from UK businesses looking to rent warehouse space. 

How CP will adapt to streaming-first strategies. Licensing International's Marty Brochstein explores the long-term consequences of pandemic-related lockdowns on the toy industry. COVID-19′s impact on the world economy is still playing out, and researchers believe we won’t know the true size and shape of it for years to come. In some cases, trends that were already picking up steam have been accel

WHY MEDICAL DEVICE COMPANIES USE PRIORITIES CREATED BY TOY MAKERS. The priorities of product development teams arise from the ontology, the beliefs about the nature of reality, they follow. One of the greatest values of defining that ontology is to identify blind spots and wrong assumptions. When the source of priorities is clear, improved, more adaptable options become possible.

Independents | “Innovation at risk” without the survival of independent toy shops. While the latest set of NPD results spell out the resilience and adaptability of the toy industry that across both the US and UK markets has managed to see a growth in sales over the past year, the current landscape and shift to a more digital arena has left some concerned for the innovation of product it has to offer. 

Can the games industry keep its COVID customers? Theses past few weeks have been full of big numbers. GamesIndustry.biz has (so far) covered UK, US, Japan and Australia, and they've all delivered big numbers in 2020. If we take the GSD data, which covers retail and digital sales across Europe, Australia and more*, we can see that game sales rose 28% last year. 

LEGO’s comeback: From nearly bankrupt to a $6 billion empire. The LEGO brick may not look like much, but it’s the cornerstone of the $6.25 billion Danish company. Today, LEGO’s blockbuster portfolio includes collaborations with The Beatles, Star Wars, and Frozen, a mega-hit movie franchise and 8 LEGOLand theme parks. A toy that was once thought of for little boys now sees its largest growth from girls and adults. 

Bernie Sanders’ mittens are now an extremely powerful magic item in D&D. While the world watched the peaceful transition of power to US President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. on Tuesday, the internet was instead fixated on Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. His mittens, along with a pensive posture at the inauguration on Tuesday, have been rapidly turned into a meme for the ages. So far they’ve turned up in virtually every video game known to man and, as of Thursday night, they’ve also been welcomed into the fold by the Dungeons & Dragons community.

How One Rabbi Uses Roleplaying Games to Build Community. Spirituality is only one tool in this community leader's toolkit for bringing people closer together. Character sheets are another. AT HIS BAR Mitzvah in his Reconstructionist Jewish synagogue, Rabbi Menachem Cohen hoped to be saved. “I was waiting for God to plunk me on the head and take me on a spiritual trip. A spiritual acid trip, without ever...

(the posted after tBR sent January 22nd)

Inauguration to include programming aimed at kids along with a message from Jill Biden. The Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) announced a lineup of television programming in the days leading up to the inauguration focused on getting families and their kids involved in the inauguration and the process of it all. On Wednesday, actress Keke Palmer is set to host an inaugural first: a curated livestream for youth...

Wastebuster calls on industry with Toy Take Back and Recycle to Read campaign. The environmental awareness platform, Wastebuster has partnered with Products of Change to bring together a cross-sector of stakeholders to share knowledge, resources, and finance, to develop an efficient, environmental, and sustainable means of recycling plastic toys.

NO TOY FAIR? NO PROBLEM. DON’T LET THE LACK OF TRADE SHOWS MEAN A LACK OF 2021 PRESS. Many brands seem to be under the impression that their yearlong media and influencer results hinge on Toy Fair New York. Yes, we have seen tremendous results from setting up thousands of media appointments on the Javits Center floor, erupting clouds of smoke from science lab demonstrations, landing on-site TV...

Standing up to Amazon – a successful trading terms strategy As a new trading year dawns, so do new trading terms with Amazon. Asha Bhalsod of Etopia Consultancy highlights the need for successful Amazon negotiation skills. With the pandemic bringing such strong growth in eCommerce, many toy manufacturers experienced double-digit growth through Amazon.

Would calls for an Amazon boycott harm small businesses? In her Viewpoint column, Amy reacts to reports that Barcelona’s mayor, Ada Colau, has called for a boycott on Amazon in Spain, as similar calls for boycotts in other countries aim to prevent the dominance of the retail giant and protect smaller competitors. With over 9000 small businesses operating on the Amazon platform and 2000 of them in the Catalonia region...

Toy World - You are invited: suppliers present virtual showrooms Toy World caught up with suppliers that have been making inventive arrangements to present their new ranges over the traditional preview and trade fair season. With options ranging from video presentations and zoom appointments to PowerPoint presentations, digital cataloges and immersive tours, there are a whole host of ways for buyers to view...

Another Heritage Auction brings yet another record-setting sales number for 'Pokemon Tcg 1st Edition' sealed product. Heritage Auctions sold a Pokemon TCG 1st Edition Base Set Sealed Booster Box at auction for a new record of $408,000 on January 15. The new year brings new highs as another sealed Pokemon TCG 1st Edition Base Set sold for an astronomical number, beating out the $360,000 sale that happened in...

The triumph of mobile core games heralds a demographic shift | Opinion. Perhaps the most striking nugget of data from what's been released thus far is a stat from mobile app tracking service App Annie, which reported that around two-thirds of the revenues from mobile games last year were from what it classified as "core games" -- titles like PUBG Mobile and Honour of Kings, which are competitively oriented, and...

Remembering the Toy Industry's Past . . .

Just look at this amazing Pac-Man history book. Pac-Man celebrated its 40th anniversary last year, and to commemorate the occasion, Cook and Becker is releasing a history book later this year — and it looks incredible. While there’s a standard hardcover version of the book for $39, which is called Pac-Man: Birth of an Icon, you can also buy a $99 special edition that comes with an ingenious Pac-Man-shaped slipcase. 

SOMA Cube from Parker Brothers (1977). The World’s Finest Cube Puzzle Game! With this lofty claim, Parker Brother released the SOMA cube in 1969. Available in four different colours, the puzzle consisted of seven unique, irregularly shaped plastic pieces and challenged players to take the cube apart and then try to restore it into its original 3-inch x 3-inch x 3-inch cubic form. Like many puzzles of its ilk, the method to successfully...

Flashback: newly discovered video goes inside Toys ‘R’ Us circa 1991. If you’re feeling nostalgic for the “old days” of toy retail, a newly unearthed video may just scratch that itch. A mysterious YouTube Channel called btm0815ma has been uploading a massive collection of archival news reports and b-roll for nearly six years. It’s a collection of recent videos that have really started turning heads. Just days a 20-minute reel...

 

Nerf Wrist Flyers from Parker Brothers (1977). As part of its continued expansion of the Nerf product line, Parker Brothers released Nerf Wrist Flyers in 1982. Marketed to children ages 5-12, the set included three pre-assembled delta-wing gliders and a wrist-mounted launcher. Each glider was decorated in a patriotic motif and was made of the same polyurethane foam as other Nerf products.

Egypt makes 'major discoveries' at Saqqara archaeological site. Egypt unveiled Sunday ancient treasures found at the Saqqara archaeological site south of Cairo. including sarcophagi over 3,000 years old. A stone sarcophagus was also found, as well as "a papyrus around five meters long containing the 17th chapter of the book of the dead... masks, wooden boats, games the ancient Egyptians used to play".

Where’s the Fun From? – Who Invented Slip ‘N’ Slide? In the latest installment from his YouTube series, Where’s the Fun From?, Guest Contributor Tim Walsh tells the story of a father who changed summers forever with the invention of a wet, yellow landing strip for airborne children, the Slip ’N’ Slide. Author, documentary filmmaker, and toy industry veteran Tim Walsh recently founded a new game company...

PlaytimeFun_540x250_BloomReport_Ad_3_SEL

Worldwide Licensing News . . .

Spin Master readies new Bakugan toy lines as TV series Geogan Rising lands third season return. Corus Entertainment’s Nelvana, Spin Master, and TMS Entertainment have detailed the third season return of the hit action adventure series, Bakugan: Geogan Rising and an accompanying extended toy line. The new season will premiere on Sunday, January 24 on Corus Entertainment’s Teletoon in Canada, with...

Warner Bros. Harry Potter Franchise received The NPD Group’s Toy Industry Award for Top Gaining Toy Property of 2020 in the Games & Puzzles category. The awards were shared with the winners during NPD’s Global Toys Connect virtual event on January 27, 2021. The awards were given to the manufacturers and licensors of Europe’s top gaining toy properties by category, as well as the top gaining toy property of the year...

Planeta Junior extends licensing reach for The Smurfs across Spain, Portugal and Central and Eastern Europe Planeta Junior has secured an agreement with the global license holder IMPS to coordinate The Smurfs’ brand licensing programme across Spain, Portugal, and Central and Eastern Europe. The deal acts as an extension to Planeta Junior already established remit as The Smurfs’ agent across Iberia. 

Warheads Candy and Kangaru Announce License Deal. Kangaru LLC, maker of scented stationery and activities, has aligned with Impact Confections, Inc. to create a Warheads sour candy scented program. Development is now underway as Kangaru Brands expands its merchandise offerings for 2021-2022 leveraging the candy’s flavors and Wally character. Kangaru will offer innovative scented stationery and art materials ...

The Wiggles, celebrate 30 years of educating, enriching and entertaining children and families all over the globe. The year-long celebration for the 30th will unfold throughout 2021 and will include a new single, commemorative logo, new music releases, new and exclusive content on FTA, STV, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, special events, concert tours and collaborations across fashion and lifestyle brands.

Creative Licensing announces new game deals. Creative Licensing has expanded their roster of digital games, introducing some familiar action heroes from the 80s and 90s to a new generation of gamers and fans through downloadable content licenses. Games include: Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate, World of Tanks, Fortnite, Dead by Daylight, and Evil Dead: The Game, Rambo First Blood, Rambo First Blood Part II, Rambo III), ...

Volley, MGM launch ‘Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader’ game. Volley has partnered with MGM to bring a game inspired by the studio’s game show, “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader,” to voice-activated devices including Amazon Echo and Fire TV.  The all-new interactive game enables fans of the franchise to feel like they are competing on the “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader” set as they put their knowledge to the test ...

New Metric Media inks licensing deals with Funko, High Roller Games for ‘Letterkenny’The Canadian comedy hit Letterkenny is getting a consumer products push across North America. New Metric Media inked licensing deals with Funko, High Roller Games, and Ripple Junction for new products across a variety of categories. 

Hot Wheels Mars Perseverance Rover leads new Hot Wheels Space ThemeThe latest mini-theme to join Mattel‘s 1:64-scale Hot Wheels mainline assortment is out of this world. For the first time in more than 20 years, HW Space is in the mix with five die-cast vehicles inspired by the spirit of exploration. The Hot Wheels team collaborated with NASA for the Hot Wheels Mars Perseverance Rover die-cast vehicle which...

Super7 launches Star Trek: The Next Generation Reaction Figure line. Super7 will expand its popular ReAction Figure line this spring with characters from Star Trek: The Next Generation. The first wave of articulated 3.75-inch figures will include Captain Picard, Worf, Data, Wesley Crusher, Guinan, and a Borg drone. A second wave including more characters is scheduled to follow in the fall. 

Moonbug appoints Redibra as its licensing agent in Brazil. Moonbug Entertainment Ltd., one of the largest digital media companies in the world, today announced it has made Redibra, a leading brand licensing and extension agency, the licensing agent for its properties in Brazil. Redibra will develop a targeted consumer products program for Moonbug’s popular IP including CoComelon and Blippi. 

Pop culture specialist Super7 lands colossal Toho deal for Godzilla ReAction figures. The pop culture design house and toy manufacturer, Super7 has landed a colossal new partnership with Toho International to bring the King of Monsters – Godzilla – into its world of ReAction figures and more. Super7’s 3.75-inch articulated Godzilla ReAction figure is scheduled to arrive this summer, along with a capsule collection, ...

YuMe details second series launch of YuMe Harry Potter Magical Capsules. The award-winning global toy brand, YuMe, has detailed the second series launch of its collectable Wizarding World, YuMe Harry Potter Magical Capsules. Developed in partnership with Warner Bros., the second series includes a glow-in-the-dark reveal and ten new Wizarding World characters. 

(the above was posted after January 22nd)

The Sanderson Witches are headed the hobby channel in Ravensburger's 'Hocus Pocus: The Game'Ravensburger NA announced that Hocus Pocus: The Game, a new board game based on the 1993 Disney movie, will be releasing into retail stores in February. This game was originally released into Target and onto Amazon back in 2020. 

IMG, Epic Games bring football to ‘Fortnite’. Epic Games and more than 20 top clubs around the world are celebrating global football in “Fortnite” via partnerships facilitated by IMG, “Fortnite’s” licensing representative. Starting Jan. 23, players can choose from 10 different variants of new “Kickoff Set” outfits to represent their favorite club in-game. Each outfit can be swapped to any of the 23 football clubs participating. 

Zag, Roblox ink ‘Miraculous’ game dealZag Games, the new games division launched in October 2020 by global independent animation studio Zag, has announced a partnership with Israel-based startup Toya to create its first game for the Roblox platform for the ZAG and ON kids & family (Mediawan Group) hit “Miraculous - Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir.” Scheduled for release in April, the new “Miraculous Ladybug & Cat Noir” ...

What Do You Meme? Inks License Deal with SpongeBob  The fastest growing game company, What Do You Meme?, has inked a licensing deal with ViacomCBS for Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants property through 2022. The partnership will produce themed games under the flagship What Do You Meme? brand, as well as several pool floats under What Do You Meme?’s Iconic Floats line of inflatables. “SpongeBob...

UK licensing agency Brand-Ward eyes toys, games and more for pre-school series Pikwik Pack. The UK-based licensing agency, Brand-Ward, has been tapped to represent Guru Studio’s latest pre-school series, Pikwik Pack across the UK and Ireland, with a focus on consumer products including toys and games. The licensing firm already represents Guru Studio’s True and the Rainbow Kingdom and will now add Pikwik Pack...

Chefclub Kids bites into toys and play-sets market through Upyaa! partnership. The France-based digital culinary brand, Chefclub has partnered with Upyaa! to launch a new range of toys and games throughout Europe, enabling kids to engage with a collection of creative play-sets and undertake their own journey to becoming little chefs. The new sets will encourage kids to create their own ice cream, popsicles, and ...

Catering to the Community. The sudden rise of “Among Us” is only the most recent example of the speed at which the licensing community needs to react to a sudden pop culture phenomenon. The mobile game’s surge last summer – 42 million downloads between Aug. 1 and Sept. 14, accounting for 70% of its total since it launched in 2018 — was largely fueled by social media. .

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People . . . 

A toy designer was jailed for two months for carrying a knife, lighter and laser pen - considered banned items - to a Hong Kong protest after the Department of Justice won a sentencing review yesterday. Chan King-shing, 28, was originally sentenced to 100 hours of community service, of which he had completed 62 hours, after pleading guilty in August to two counts of possessing prohibited weapons and one count...

Nickelodeon Animation adds more execs. Brian Keane joins as EVP of production and operations, while two producers have been promoted into VP roles. Jennie Monica, meanwhile, has been promoted from producer to VP of series production. A long-time Nickelodeon vet, she is a co-executive producer on SpongeBob SquarePants. Kara Piersimoni, previously a line producer on The Loud House and Rise of TMNT, has also...

FORMER MATTEL, SPIN MASTER EXEC NANCY ZWIERS RETURNS TO THE ‘POWER KID PODCAST’. Zwiers’ last appearance topped the charts as the most-streamed episode of the “Power Kid Podcast” for 2020, and for the sequel, she’s sharing her thoughts on how “Play is natures’ way of helping us learn how to survive” On the show, Albritton and Zwiers dive deep into the inherent biological importance of play and how the...

Ravensburger welcomes Adam Sheppard. In his role as eCommerce Analyst, Adam Sheppard will use his extensive eCommerce experience to help drive growth at the company.Joining the company late last month as eCommerce Analyst, Adam Sheppard brings a wealth of eCommerce experience to the toy and games industry. He previously worked for Profitero, an eCommerce analytics company specializing in working ...

Chris Rose expands his role at ViacomCBS.  The Nickelodeon VP will also lead production and development for VIS Kids. Still based in London, Rose will now focus on growing ViacomCBS Networks International’s kids content pipeline and overseeing all animated and live-action teams for VIS Kids and Nick International. 

Scavengers suspends co-founder Simon DarveauScavengers Studio today announced that it has indefinitely suspended co-founder and creative director Simon Darveau in the wake of a GamesIndustry.biz report in which current and former employees alleged a variety of abuses, including groping and screaming at employees. In a note posted on the studio's website, co-founder and CEO Amélie Lamarche said Darveau...

Making It In The Toy Industry, the only toy industry podcast dedicated to helping aspiring toy people bring their ideas to life, is excited to announce the release of Season 2. Hosted by Azhelle Wade (aka The Toy Coach), the podcast, which already has over 50 episodes, will continue to shed a light on the toy industry with mini toy master-classes, step-by-step advice, and interviews with fellow toy industry leaders, inventors and...

(the above posted after January 22nd)

Your flexible friend …it’s the Friday Blog! by John Baulch (ToyWorld UK)This week should have seen the UK toy community heading en masse to Olympia for the London Toy Fair. My Facebook memories over the past few days have all involved a table at Sticky Fingers covered with cocktails for some inexplicable reason. I have seen numerous social media posts from industry friends saying how much they are missing the...

“Power Kid Podcast,” host Phil Albritton of Power Kid Design welcomes University Games founder Bob Moog to the show for a discussion on the state of the games industry. Since its founding in 1985, University Games has been a staple game company with hits like Murder Mystery Party and 20 Questions. Additionally, Moog leverages popular licenses like Dogman, Pete and Cat, and The World Eric Carle to create great...

Inventor Adam Borton seeks students for Toy and Game School  Award-winning toy and game designer and inventor Adam Borton's Toy and Game School launches today and readers can access the online expertise at a special discounted rate. The online Toy and Game School will teach students about the toy and game industry and how to create a brand new, never-before-seen toyetic game.

Inventor Doug Reuter said the idea for "Sequence" came to him during a dream in the 1970s. He forced himself to get out of bed and write it down before he forgot. "Sequence" was released to the world in the early '80s before Reuter's other job as a lawmaker in St. Paul from 1997 to 2000. Goliath Games, which owns the rights to "Sequence," said it sold 1 million of the games worldwide in 2020, a 60% increase in sales...

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From Del's to Hasbro, RI institutions are sharing the Bernie mittens meme. 

You’ve been laughing, haven’t you, at the Bernie-Sanders-wearing-mittens-at-the-inauguration memes that have devoured the internet in recent days. The photo of the senator and his oversize mittens has been dropped into endlessly conceivable situations, from the intergalactic screen stage to the pages of history to the microcosms of contemporary personal lives. Locally, Hasbro’s iconic Mr. Potato Head toy has received the Bernie touch.

Companies . . .

Mattel, for the 2nd consecutive year, received a perfect score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index, the nation’s foremost benchmarking survey and report measuring corporate policies and practices related to LGBTQ+ workplace equality. Mattel joins the ranks of more than 760 major U.S. businesses that also earned top marks this year. The results were released today by The...

Good Play Guide readies to international expansion with 2021 restructure The Good Play Guide is readying itself for international expansion across the US through a restructure of the business that includes new appointments across key business areas of the firm. Nicola Jenkins has joined the group as head of the Good App Guide, one of the most popular sections of the Good Play Guide

Canal Toys launches innovative new Anti-Bacterial Slime The new range lets kids sanitise their hands while enjoying the tactile AMSR experience of slime. Canal’s Anti-Bacterial Slime is unique and the first of its type to hit the market. The product is the result of a long period of R&D, testing and certification, starting before Covid-19 emerged. The company has been able to accelerate its launch plans, meaning...

Learning Resources and GoGo Squeez Partner for Snack and Toy Giveaway. The collaboration features GoGo Squeez Happy Tummiez snack pouches and a bundle of hands-on educational toys from Learning Resources, including the new Big Feelings Pineapple and the Snap-n-Learn Fruit Shapers. Social promotions featuring the pairings will debut next month.

Hasbro’s Transformers Roll Out with Jazwares’ Zōteki Collection. Jazwares teamed with Hasbro on a new wave of Zōteki collectible characters inspired by the warriors of Cybertron. The Transformers Zōteki Series 1 Assortment debuted at Target stores this month. Transformers Zōteki are statue-like, non-articulated figures that kids and collectors can collect and connect to form a scene inspired by the iconic G1 Transformers ...

The Latest Additions to Barbie’s Fashionistas Dolls Embrace Diversity and InclusionBarbie is getting even more inclusive with the latest additions to its Barbie Fashionistas line. The Fashionistas dolls this year include Ken in a wheelchair, Ken with rooted hair reflecting an afro, and Barbie with lighter skin with vitiligo. The brand is also rolling out new packaging that includes a reusable bag for kids to carry their dolls...

Donkey Hodie to Premiere on PBS Kids May 3. Donkey Hodie, a whimsical, new PBS Kids puppet series produced by Fred Rogers Productions and Spiffy Pictures, will encourage preschoolers to aim high, embrace challenges and work hard to achieve their goals when it premieres on May 3, 2021. The colorful multi-platform show follows the adventures of Donkey Hodie, granddaughter of the original Donkey ... 

Stan Lee's Superhero Kindergarten Sneak Peek Announced. Genius Brands International, Inc. announces a sneak peek event for season one of the Company’s new animated children’s series, Stan Lee’s Superhero Kindergarten, Co-Executive Produced by and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, which will officially premiere on: Kartoon Channel! in spring 2021.  

Showcase 2021: Gibsons readies planet-friendly puzzles, traditional games, and the play detox. Gibsons’ jigsaw puzzles are now planet-friendly which means all its new designs come in compact boxes without any shrink-wrap plastic. They are sealed with biodegradable stickers and the box has a gloss coating for extra protection. All its puzzles are made from the thickest board on the market which is 100 per cent recycled...

Oggy and the Cockroaches Franchise Expands Globally. Academy Award-nominated French animation studio Xilam Animation has secured a wave of international broadcast deals across its Oggy and the Cockroaches non-dialogue comedy franchise, which has celebrated international success for the last 20 years, and has now been expanded into three brands: the original classic series spanning seven seasons and 500....

Mercury Filmworks Announces Series from In-House TrioWith plans to nurture its own in-house talent to develop career paths and create new opportunities, Mercury Filmworks, Canada’s premier animation studio, announced that it has greenlit the development of a new 2-D animated children’s series, BloopyMerps, created by three long-term employees of the company.  

TRU KIDS BRANDS QUIETLY CLOSES NEW TOYS ‘R’ US IN HOUSTON GALLERIA. Another year, another sad tale of Geoffrey the Giraffe here in the U.S. Just 13 months after opening its doors, Tru Kids Brands’ new Toys “R” Us store at the Houston Galleria has gone out of business.

In 2019, Tru Kids teamed up with software-powered experiential retailer b8ta on plans to bring Toys “R” Us stores back to the U.S.

Hasbro Expands Partnership with WildBrain CPLG for Several eOne Brands. WildBrain CPLG has been appointed, through an expansion of its partnership with Hasbro Consumer Products, to represent eOne brands Peppa Pig, PJ Masks and Ricky Zoom in the Nordics and Central and Eastern Europe.

MATTEL CREATIONS PREPS MADSAKI X MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE DROP. Mattel continues to expand its Mattel Creations line with products at the intersection of art and toys, often with a pop culture twist. This time, Mattel teams up with Japanese artist, Madsaki for a collection of products inspired by the classic 1982 Masters of the Universe (MOTU) toy line.

Kellytoy, a subsidiary of Jazwares, LLC, announced more than 40 all-new snuggly, “chonky” friends will join the Squishmallows® line. From an exotic menagerie of deep sea creatures and yummy food fare for the most devoted foodie to new psychedelic tie-dye squad members reminiscent of the flower power ‘60s, these new ‘mallows will soon make their way into everyone’s hearts as they hit retailers beginning in ...

Nerf’s new blasters curve their shots a la Angelina Jolie in Wanted. There’s an adjustable barrel that lets you put some English on it. Nerf’s got a new trick up its sleeve: Hasbro’s latest foam-flinging sidearms can curve their shots, possibly letting you hit targets you can’t even see. (Think Angelina Jolie or James McAvoy in Wanted but with bouncy balls instead of bullets.)

LEGO teams with Universal Music Group to launch creative music franchise LEGO Vidiyo The LEGO Group has teamed up with Universal Music Group to unveil LEGO Vidiyo, an innovative music video maker experience that celebrates children’s creativity and passion for music. Through LEGO Vidiyo, kids can direct, produce, star in, and share their own music videos, using chart-topping tracks from Universal Music’s...

Moose to launch Octonauts line in partnership with Silvergate Media Moose Toys to produce range based on the popular pre-school franchise to support upcoming new animated series, Octonauts: Above & Beyond. First launched in 2010, Octonauts has a global broadcast platform spanning multiple territories and large fanbases in the UK, US and China. More recently, the show extended its reach by debuting in...

HASBRO REVEALS NEW BEYBLADE BURST TOYS TO ACCOMPANY SEASON 5 OF THE TV SERIES. As Beymasters get ready for season five of Beyblade Burst Surge, Hasbro reveals its new Beyblade Burst Speedstorm toy line. The collection will include official Beyblade Burst Speedstorm tops that are designed to get the ultimate speed boost from the Power Vortex — an energy zone at the center of the Speedstorm Beystadium. 

Nanoblock builds up U.S. distribution with BluefinBluefin, North America’s leader in the distribution of toys from Japan has partnered with Kawada in importing and distributing Nanoblock, Kawada’s micro construction line of block toys. This is a new, exclusive partnership that will see the popular Japanese toy line distributed in the U.S. and Canada beginning on April 1. 

Make way for more than 40 new Squishmallows in February. Kellytoy, a subsidiary of Jazwares, is releasing more than 40 new Squishmallows next month. The first items on the ‘mallow menu include plush food items, like a cheeseburger and fries; deep-sea creatures, such as whales, crabs, octopuses, and penguins; and tie-dye dinosaurs. 

Rachel Lowe launches Beano board game to celebrate 70 years of Dennis the Menace. The iconic British comic brand, Beano is celebrating the 70th anniversary of Dennis the Menace’s first appearance with the launch of a new board game developed by the award-winning designer, Rachel Lowe. In a partnership secured by Rocket Licensing on behalf of Beano Studios, the new Beano game will bring Dennis...

Pegasus Spiele reveals 'Poo Poo Pets' for release into the U.S. hobby channelPegasus Spiele revealed Poo Poo Pets, a family dice game by Sophia Wagner, for release into the U.S. Hobby Channel in Q1.I n Poo Poo Pets, players have a number of tiles in front of them depicting specific dice results. Each player attempts to roll the dice combinations that their opponents have in front of them using six dice. 

Uncover Sweet and Strange crushes with Mondo's new Dating Game. Mondo Games announced Dream Crush, dating board game, for release in Q1. This board game is inspired by the classic dating games, predominantly released in the mid-60s through early-90s like Mystery Date from Milton Bradley and Girl Talk: Date Line by Golden.

Kids International Marketing to represent Pugs at Play. Pugs at Play is Striders FZ’s flagship brand, a comprehensive range of animated plush that has enjoyed huge success in the Middle East. The Pugs at Play range is currently made up of 23 different animated plush animals and was launched by UAE based toy company, Striders, in the UAE and other Middle Eastern markets in 2019. 

(the above posted after January 22nd)

Nearly three years after its acquisition of Interplay UK Ltd, Wisconsin-based PlayMonster is rebranding its UK outpost as PlayMonster.

No change to staffing or responsibilities will take place and UK Managing Director Adrian Whyles will continue reporting to PlayMonster CEO Bob Wann at the company’s Beloit, Wisconsin headquarters.

Hot Wheels Ultimate Drive-Thru heads to Six Flags Over Georgia. The Hot Wheels Monster Trucks fleet along with iconic rides from the Garage of Legends, giant robots, and some additional big surprises will make their east coast debut at Six Flags Over Georgia on Jan. 28. Created by Raycom-Legacy Content Co. in partnership with Mattel Inc., the special socially-distanced event allows families to experience a special...

Capstone Games will release two board game titles in April. Capstone Games will release a new edition of Glass Road and Juicy Fruits into U.S. trade in April. Uwe Rosenberg's classic resource management game Glass Road is headed back to retail courtesy of Captsone Games and Feverland. Previously, this game was launched in the U.S. by Z-Man Games. Juicy Fruits is a brand-new game tile placement game by...

Plan B Games unveils 'Equinox'. Plan B Games unveiled Equinox, a new board game by Reiner Knizia, for release into retail in June. This game is a re-themed version of Knizia's Colossal Arena with two new creatures, revised gameplay, and new art. In Equinox, forest creatures gather to write themselves into the legendary storybook, but there is only room for four stories to be added. .

Crawl through dungeons to become the new 'Keepers of the Questar'. Upper Deck announced Keepers of the Questar, a new dungeon-crawling board game, for release in Q1. In Keepers of the Questar, parties of adventurers compete to complete the Quest Masters' quests and become the new Keepers of the Questar. It is a one-on-one dungeon crawling game where both players assume the roles of both the party...

Playmates takes us back with retro TMNT 6-pack exclusivesPlaymates Toys is releasing two tubular six-pack box sets featuring your favorite heroes in a half-shell. The Previews-Exclusive Retro Rotocast Sewer Lair and Mutant Module are jam-packed with all your ninja favorites. Prepare to go back to 1988 because each action figure in the six-piece sets was recreated with its original body, and oversized Roto head, along with...

Waterline Toys introduces Skimbe four season disc toysAs winter sets in and warmer weather looms, Waterline Toys is introducing a new toy that can be used outdoors in all four seasons. SkimBe is a patented polyurethane disc that skims, skips, slides, and jumps across water, snow, ice, and other slick surfaces when thrown in a cross-body motion or with a flick of the wrist. SkimBe features a rocker bottom and comes in three...

VTech to launch green ELPs as part of ongoing sustainability commitment  VTech's ongoing efforts to develop eco-friendly products and packaging, plus recycling programmes demonstrate the company’s commitment to the 5-year Sustainability Plan unveiled in June 2020. VTech branded eco-friendly products include four new vehicles in the popular Go! Go! Smart Wheels series, all made from plant-based plastic, and...

LEGO Ideas hits the history books with the launch of the Medieval Blacksmith’s set. LEGO Ideas has been hitting the history books for the launch of its latest set, a Medieval Blacksmith’s house based on an original design by LEGO superfan, Clemens Fiedler. The design has been given the green light to enter production after it achieved over 10,000 votes on the LEGO set creation platform.

Bandai UK releases the Timber Tots Song amid ‘heavy investment plans’ for the retro ’70s toy line. Following the successful revival of the hit ’70s toy line, Timber Tots, Bandai UK has detailed plans for a round of heavy investment into the retro children’s brand, kicking things off with the release of the Timber Tots Nursery Rhyme. The new song has been created to inspire a new generation of young fans to create stories...

Wow! Stuff flashes to the beat with new Chibies. Chibies characters flash to the beat of any tune a child plays across any genre; K-pop, rock, pop, hip-hop, even classical. High-tech sound sensors embedded into the character listen to the music and react in real time, even synchronising with every other Chibie in the room. To activate the sound sensor, children simply ‘Nudge their Nose’. They can then play any music and...

Asmodee earmarks ‘massive year for Pokémon Trading Card Game’ as it readies 25th anniversary Shining Fates expansion. Asmodee UK has cited 2021 to be a ‘massive year for the Pokémon Trading Card Game’ which is gearing up top release the Shining Fates expansion, its first major product release in the year as the brand celebrates its milestone 25th anniversary this year. Despite the challenges of the pandemic,...

Para Bellum announces four 'Conquest: First Blood' Faction Taster sets. Para Bellum Wargames announced four Conquest: First Blood Faction Taster Sets, miniatures skirmish battle starter sets, for release on January 25. Conquest: First Blood is the skirmish battles version of the Conquest: The Last Argument of Kings mass combat, epic battle system (see "Para Bellum Draws 'First Blood' for 'Conquest'"). .

Madballs vs. Garbage Pail Kids face off in brand collab. Cloudco Entertainment, owner of the venerable-but-irreverent Madballs brand, and The Topps Company, owner of the renowned-yet-subversive Garbage Pail Kids brand (“GPK”), have teamed up for a collaboration that playfully pits classic 1980s icons and “co-heavyweights of gross” against one another. The collaboration will feature all-new 1980s inspired artwork...

PlayMonster builds on Snap Ships line with new sets. The epic and award-winning new construction line Snap Ships is enhancing its Build to Battle play with six new drone sets. Collect and combine the three Forge and the three Komplex sets to create the two unstoppable Fusion Builds! At its core, Snap Ships is a collectible, versatile, modular building system that allows kids to build multiple crafts. .

Asmodee USA will release 'Pakal' for U.S. trade. Asmodee USA will release Pakal, a real-time sliding-puzzle game by Cranio Creations, into U.S. trade on February 12.In Pakal, players are trying to forge a path through the jungle to claim the treasure at the end. Each player has a four-by-four grid with 15 mixed solid and clear blocks. At the beginning of each round of play, they reveal an objective cards and slide their blocks...

Luma gets Sit Down! Luma Imports has acquired exclusive English-language distribution rights to games for Belgian board game publisher Sit Down! for the U.S., the company announced.  Sit Down!’s key backlist title is Magic Maze, which was nominated for the Spiel des Jahres and has previously been distributed in the U.S. by Dude Games. Luma will handle new printings of Magic Maze and Magic Maze Kids, and support ...

KATY PERRY HEADLINES 'POKEMON' 25TH ANNIVERSARY  The Pokemon Company is launching a major celebration of the brand’s 25th

anniversary, including multiple music partnerships headlined by Katy Perry, video games, mobile apps, animation, merchandise, and more. The music collaborations come via an overall deal with Universal Music Group, and will include additional artists in addition to Perry, who touted...

The Lego Group launches Lego Bygge Hygge The Lego Bygge Hygge initiative has been designed to create not only an occasion, but an atmosphere, that can become part of a cosy, or "Hygge" family routine. Lego Bygge Hygge is all about the art of cosy building, inspired by the Danish ‘Hygge’ which acknowledges a feeling or moment as cosy or special, alongside the Danish word ‘Bygge’ which means building or...

Mattel Just Unveiled a Barbie Doll Honoring Dr. Maya Angelou. Dr. Angelou is the latest addition to Barbie's Inspiring Women Series. Over the last few decades, Barbie has traded her signature bright, bubblegum pink looks for space suits, athletic gear, and even makeovers from Beyoncé's makeup artist. With time, the classic figure has evolved to reflect real, successful women. In fact, Barbie’s Inspiring Women Series specifically...

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

IO Interactive's Hitman 3 made back its dev costs in a single week. IO Interactive says that the latest game in the decades-old Hitman series, Hitman 3, has already recouped its development costs. The cross-generation game managed to earn back its development costs in less than a week, IO Interactive CEO Hakan Abrak tells GamesIndustry.biz. "We have recouped the total project costs in less than a week. 

Apple sets "early spring" rollout for iOS privacy changes. Apple has indicated that its new advertising tracking restrictions on iOS devices will go into effect nearly a year after they were first unveiled. The company yesterday said that its new requirement that apps get user permission before tracking their data across other apps or sites will go live in its next beta update, with a broad rollout for iOS 14, iPadOS 14, and...

VR success I Expect You to Die is getting a sequel. Schell Games is making a sequel to its massively successful virtual reality game I Expect You to Die, and it’s expected to come out later this year. Along with the announcement, the studio mentioned the original game earned $6 million in revenue across all VR platforms, which could explain how it can afford to make a sequel.

Deep Rock Galactic has topped 2 million sales. Deep Rock Galactic has sold over 2 million copies since launching in early access form on Steam, Windows PC, and Xbox One in 2018, according to developer Ghost Ship. The studio broke the news in a blog post, and shared a pretty extensive list of sales and user engagement statistics.  For instance, the full version of the game launched on May 13, 2020, but we know....

Digital sales now make up 91 percent of Focus Home Interactive's revenueDigital sales made up a whopping 91 percent of Focus Home Interactive's €103.6 million (~$126.1 million) revenue during the first half of its 2020/21 year, up 7 percent from the preceding six month period. All in all, Focus Home Interactive closed the first half of its year with a 30 percent increase in revenue year-over-year, thanks in no small...

Vicarious Visions is now a part of Blizzard Entertainment. Activision has announced (via a report on Gamesindustry.biz) that Albany game studio Vicarious Visions is now a subsidiary of Blizzard Entertainment. An Activision representative told the outlet that the company's 200 employees are now staffed in the house of Warcraft, and its executives have formally joined Blizzard leadership.

Cyberpunk 2077's launch month sets digital sales record despite refundsDigital gaming ended 2020 with a new record for highest monthly total revenue ever, with $12 billion in December, led by the launch of Cyberpunk 2077. According to SuperData's monthly worldwide digital game sales report December saw 15% growth from the prior year. While consoles went up 16% and mobile 5% year-over-year, PC revenue...

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 remake studio will now focus exclusively on Blizzard games. Vicarious Visions, the studio that developed Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy and the remake for Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2, has been reassigned within Activision Blizzard, GamesIndustry.biz reports. Moving forward, the studio’s team of about 200 people will now be “fully dedicated to existing Blizzard games...

 

Opera opens new video game division and confirms YoYo Games purchase. Opera has confirmed the purchase of GameMaker Studio creator YoYo Games, and explained the deal will form the basis for a new video game division called Opera Gaming. YoYo Games' previous owner Playtech revealed it had sold the company for $10 million earlier this week, but neglected to name the buyer. 

Thq Nordic, Feld Entertainment prep ‘Monster Jam Steel Titans 2’. The sequel to the popular video game, Monster Jam Steel Titans has been unveiled. THQ Nordic and Feld Entertainment released a video teaser for Monster Jam Steel Titans 2 as well as while confirming a March 2 release date for the high-octane title. Expanding on the first game, Monster Jam Steel Titans 2 will feature new fan-favorite trucks,...

FIFA 21 was Europe's best-selling boxed game in 2020. FIFA 21 was the best-selling physical game across the vast majority of Europe, according to a new report from GfK Entertainment. The evaluation is based on physical games sales across Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland...

Epic pledges $20 million for Fortnite esports in 2021. Fortnite developer Epic says that, for 2021, the game’s competitive scene will have a prize pool of $20 million. That’s a step up from last year’s total of $17 million — though it’s not as massive as the 2019 World Cup, where $30 million was on the line. The news comes as Epic provided details on the latest season of the Fortnite Champion Series, the game’s highest...

Nintendo Switch accounted for 87% of consoles sold in Japan last year | Japan Annual Report. Nearly 6 million Nintendo Switch consoles were sold in Japan last year, a rise of 30% over 2019. Nintendo dominated the market, with Switch devices accounting for 87% of all consoles sold last year (6.85 million machines were sold overall). The normal Switch version sold 3.9 million units, while the Switch Lite sold just over...

Toy Safety and Counterfeit Related Articles . . .

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 . . .

POLAR ADVENTURE & HUNGRY BINS JOIN GAME FOCUS ON PRESCHOOL-LEVEL INTROS TO A GREEN LIFE. Youngest Eco-Citizens Discover Recycling and Disappearing Glacier Ice Through 15-Minute Rounds Of Memory And 3-D Roll & Move Challenges. Family game night has many benefits from strengthening relationships to being patient for your turn. Add to that list becoming a better eco-citizen with the launch of two new titles from Adventerra Games, the STEM.org-certified boardgame maker. Playing a round of Polar Adventure: Disappearing Ice ($24.99) and Hungry Bins: Learn to Recycle ($19.99) gets three- and four-year-olds to intuitively learn new behaviors that reduce their ecological footprints...

SPRING CLEANING WITH A TWIST: YOUNG BUG HUNTERS VACUUM, OBSERVE & RELEASE CRAWLY THINGS. Best Seller Bug Vacuum & Critter Barn Set Lets Kids Catch Little Creatures, See Nature Up Close Then Release Them, Away From House & Mom!  Ever notice how kids are the first to find an insect, sometimes indoors, thankfully mostly outdoors? In this season of spring cleaning, parents will be delighted to know there is a bug vacuum, part of the award-winning set from the Nature Bound™ line called Bug Hunter Set ($34.95). Kids can put on their khaki shorts and safari hat in search of nature’s smallest crawly creatures. Once gently scooped up, the bug rests in the set’s Critter Barn for tots to observe...

News from Associations, Trade Shows, Awards and Festivals

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

Toy Association to reveal its Top Toy and Play Trends of 2021 next month. From toys that encourage family bonding to playthings that enrich learning about everything from STEAM subjects to cultural diversity, The Toy Association’s trends team is once again gearing up to unveil the hottest trends of the year during its annual Toy Trends Briefing presentation, taking place virtually on Feb. 16.

The Mumpower Vote On-Purpose Awards Have Been Announced. As Australians have weathered the storm that was 2020, brands continue to go above and beyond to act with purpose and commit to making a difference to the community. To celebrate these amazing efforts, Mumpower has just announced their first ever consumer choice awards which is set to crown Australia’s favourite purpose-driven brand.

A look at the Indian toy industry as the National Toy Fair (India) is set to begin next monthWill teddy bears and toy guns give way to desi play things as a new line of thinking takes over the world of toys? The industry is set for change as the first ever National Toy Fair begins next  month. Paramapadam, aadu puli aatam, solah seedi, ashta chemma, pallankuzhi....do these sound familiar? 

Essen Game Fair: The Show Must Go On "We have decided we want to hold a SPIEL convention," organizer Friedhelm Merz Verlag said of the annual Essen Game Fair, due to be held October 14-17, 2021. Some contingency plans are in place to be implemented if necessary, including safety rules to make the show safer, such as wider aisles and walkways.  

NPD Group announces winners of 2020 Global and European Toy Industry Performance Awards The Lego Group, Spin Master, Mattel, Hasbro, Playmobil and Warner Bros. are among those unveiled as winners of this year's awards.  The awards were given to the manufacturers or licence owners of Europe’s top gaining toy properties by category, as well as the top gaining toy property of the year, top global toy....

The Toy Trust details how it supported children's charities in 2020 Despite the extraordinary challenges of 2020, the charity still donated over £100,000 to help kids and their families. This special newsletter details how funds have been used to support charities working to improve the lives of disabled, critically ill or life-limited kids in the UK, as well as families in need of advice and assistance during the Covid-19 pandemic.

(the above was posted after January 22nd)

Toy Association Releases “STEAM Toy Assessment Framework”  Help Companies Create Toys that Support STEAM Learning.  A new “STEAM Toy Assessment Framework,” provides a definitive answer with a three-step model and clearly defined rating criteria with learning goals for five distinct age groups. The report was created in collaboration with Dr. Amanda Gummer, CEO & founder of the Good Play Guide.

UK Toy Fair website provides info for would-be visitors of the show Visitors to the Toy Fair website can view a snapshot of product info from companies who were scheduled to exhibit this year. Although there is no physical show at Olympia this year, the organiser has instead provided an extended exhibitor listing on the Toy Fair website, for would be visitors of the show to look at companies that would have exhibited, in a...

VTech Named Official Toy Bank Sponsor for 2021.  VTech, a world leader in electronic learning products for children, has been named the official “Adopt-the-Pig” sponsor of The Toy Foundation’s Toy Bank for 2021. A longtime supporter of The Toy Foundation (TTF), VTech’s sponsorship includes a $10,000 donation to The Toy Bank, which delivers joy and comfort, through play, to vulnerable children and families.

Orchard Toys kicks off its Virtual Toy Fair with exclusive Toy Fair TV-style video. Orchard Toys has kicked off its Virtual Toy Fair in good humour with the launch of a video-skit starring the firm’s own sales director, Simon Prest, and Toy Fair TV presenter, Gavin Inskip. Produced to capture the levity of the London trade show in a year that sees the doors of the Olympia shuttered in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic...

Toy & Edu China and Licensing China will host digital-physical hybrid fairs this year. Toy & Edu China, Baby & Stroller China, and Licensing China will be offering a physical-digital hybrid fair experience this March with an online platform to support toy, baby product, and licensing companies exploring business opportunities in the region. The virtual marketplace will go hand in hand with the physical fairs that will be...

TRA’s Toy of the Year Awards winners announced This year's somewhat different awards reflect the unique and challenging trading conditions seen in 2020, and honour those companies that have kept UK families happy and entertained during the pandemic. Four outstanding categories played a big part in delivering this growth, all of which have outperformed the overall market. As such, the Toy Retailer’s Association selection...

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.

Kelvyn Gardnera well known and much loved figure in the licensing community; his wife Michelle shared the sad news on LinkedIn yesterday.

Kelvyn passed away yesterday morning (26th January). Michelle wrote: “As I am typing this I just cannot tell you how we feel, we are at a loss… It was Kelvyns 66th birthday on the 22nd of January 2021 and was going to be our big wedding anniversary; 40 years. We had joked that he wouldn’t know one end of a ruby if it bit him, so I think I might have got some ruby coloured Warrington gear!” Kelvyn’s career in licensing dates back to 1979, when he worked marketing Disney products for an Italian publishing company. For the next twenty years Kelvyn marketed literally hundreds of licensed products all over the world. During the 1990s, Merlin Publishing, founded by Kelvyn and three colleagues in 1989, became the fastest growing private company in the United Kingdom. Kelvyn recently “relaunched” licensing consultancy Asgard Media. He was also managing director of Licensing International UK for many years and was an active member of the Light Fund charity, serving on the committee, and recently entertained the licensing industry with his Living with Licensing podcasts.

Kim Merrill, Chief Executive Officer Insignias Global, formerly of Uproar.

Steve Lightle.  Comic artist Steve Lightle has passed away due to cardiac arrest tied to COVID-19, his wife posted on his Facebook account.  He was 61. Lightle was best known for his time on Legion of Super-Heroes, on which he followed artist Keith Giffen in 1984, and for his brief run on the relaunch of Doom Patrol beginning in 1987. He was also a cover artist for both DC Comics and Marvel Comics over the years.

Dennis Watts  Toy World is sad to report that Dennis Watts passed away peacefully on Christmas Eve, following a long battle with illness. After a career in engineering design,  Dennis entered the toy industry in 1974, taking over his father Fred Watts’ toy shop in Melton Mowbray. Dennis acquired another local toy shop  in 1978  and from the two shop names, he formed the Arbon and Watts business. During the 90s and 00s, the retail stores won the Midlands region Toy Shop of the Year award on five separate occasions. In the mid 90s, Dennis created Mail Order Express – the idea behind the new operation was to work with selected supplier partners to carry entire ranges. In 1999, Mailorderexpress.com was launched online, leading to a massive expansion in the early 00s, as the company rode the wave of the initial internet boom.

Toy Trade Monthly Issues...

Weekly Top Stories from Toy Trade Magazines Worldwide...

Adventure Media & Events (US)

aNb Media (US)

  1. STEAM Toy Resource Published by Toy Association

  2. Chibies from Wow! Stuff Launch this Spring

  3. Interplay UK Ltd Rebrands as PlayMonster

  4. VTech to Launch Green Electronic Learning Products

  5. Peanuts x PUMA Global Collaboration Launches

  6. Poetic Brands Readies Blippi Apparel Line

  7. MasterPieces Signs License Deal for Sesame Street

  8. What Do You Meme? Inks License Deal with SpongeBob

  9. Moonbug Expands Partnership with Future Today

  10. Peugeot Launches Global Licensing Program

ToyWorld (UK)

  1. Your flexible friend …it’s the Friday Blog!

  2. TRA’s Toy of the Year Awards winners announced

  3. BTHA celebrates 2020 toy trade Superhero Awards

  4. Brexit charges start to hit British online sellers

  5. Fears grow of major price rises due to increased shipping costs

  6. Latest Hornby results report rise in Q3 sales

  7. PlayMonster set to expand global presence with rebranding of Interplay UK

  8. The Lego Group launches Lego Bygge Hygge

  9. Wow! Stuff flashes to the beat with new Chibies

  10. Schleich GmbH enjoys 7th consecutive year of growth

ICv2: The Business of Geek Culture's (US)

  1.  ChannelFireball and BinderPOS Merge
  2.  PSA 10 Gem Mint Black Lotus From 'Magic: The Gathering Alpha Edition' Bids Up Past $300,000 – [Updated]!
  3.  Katy Perry Headlines 'Pokemon' 25th Anniversary
  4.  Bushiroad Announces 'Cardfight!! Vanguard overDress'
  5.  Another Heritage Auction Brings Yet Another Record-Setting Sales Number for 'Pokemon TCG 1st Edition' Sealed Product
  6.  Rolling for Initiative -- Pokemon, the Halo Effect, and Congratulations Sara Erickson
  7.  WizKids Announces Two New 'Warlock Tiles' Expansions That Help Gamemasters Build Around Corners
  8.  Wizards of the Coast Announces That Retail Improvement Grants are Now Available for 2021
  9.  Plan B Games Unveils 'Equinox'
10.  WizKids Unveils a Brand-New 'Dungeons & Dragons' Paint Night Kit

TOYS Magazine (Germany) - posted once a month

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

Casual Game Revolution

News Flash: Cubitos Announced, Ravensburger Kids Puzzle Design Contest. AEG has announced a new racing game, Ravensburger is hosting a puzzle design contest for kids to support charity, and some online gaming conventions have been announced.

Video of the Week! 

Inventing for an Invention House vs as a

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...

Inventing for an Invention House vs. as an Independent 

Moderator Simon Skelton (Director, Big Ideas) us with panelists: Peggy Brown (President, Peggy Brown Creative), Ken Johnson (CEO/President of Grand Legacy Corporation, Inventor of Phase 10) , Kim Vandenbroucke (Owner Brainy Chick and TheGameAisle.com), Mary Jo Reutter (President, You-Betcha Interactive), Jim McCafferty (President and CEO, JMP Creative)

 

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