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January 21 - 28, 2022

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Welcome to Your Weekly News Brief!

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Happy Bloomin’ Friday!

 

We have a brand new look for the Bloom Report! Other changes are coming soon too, which I cannot wait to share with you!

 

If you keep up with what's trending, I'm guessing you are playing Wordle, R-I-G-H-T? Other AWESOME trends include how well our industry has been doing - we have the links to those reports in this week's issue.

 

Thank you for reading the Bloom Report.

Mary

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Person of the Week

Christian Ulrich, Spokesperson of the Spielwarenmesse Executive Board

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What do you do in the industry?
I’m the Spokesperson of the Executive Board at Spielwarenmesse eG. I’m responsible for marketing and corporate communication, as well as press and public relations. I also oversee the development of new business opportunities.

 

Do you have more free time now that the Spielwarenmesse is cancelled again?
With Spielwarenmesse Digital, we have set up a wonderful multi-media platform that is challenging us all just as much and reaches its peak during the original fair period from 2 to 6 February.  In addition, we have many other projects that we take care of.

 

You mean, for example, the SPIEL fair in Germany, which you took over at the beginning of the year?
We are very pleased with the synergies we can achieve through our latest new acquisition: With SPIEL, we have taken over the world's largest trade fair for parlor games, which takes place in Essen in autumn.  Read More . . . 

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Person of the Week

Tim Walsh and his latest WTFF! 

Tim Walsh at  Roo.tiff

The Pet Rock set off Elmo, but Who set off the Pet Rock??

The Pet Rock recently sent Elmo viral!

 

Now learn how a copy writer named Gary Dahl's found the perfect timing and turn of phrase to turn the Pet Rock into "the fastest-selling and most publicized novelty gift product in retailing history."

 

This is the Pet Rock Edition of Where's the Fun from?  CLICK HERE

Financial and Legal

 

London-based Sandbox & Co acquired Brazilian edtech company PlayKids to expand its video-on-demand services, book offerings and reach in the LatAm market. PlayKids owns VOD platforms and apps aimed at preschoolers, including PlayKids – Cartoons and games and PlayKids Stories: Learn ABC, as well as a book subscription service called Leiturinha. Together, these offerings reach more than...

The omicron Covid variant has caused an explosion of Covid cases among longshoremen, slowing unloading and contributing to record congestion at California ports, according to the Pacific Maritime Association via The New York Times.  More West Coast longshoremen contracted Covid in January than in all of last year, 1850 in January vs. 1624 in all of 2021, the Association told the Times. 

 

Corus Entertainment has purchased a majority stake in Aircraft Pictures, the Toronto-based production company behind titles such as Family Channel series Holly Hobbie and the Oscar-nominated animated feature The Breadwinner. This investment will allow Aircraft to expand its capacity to develop, finance and produce premium content for the global marketplace, including a focus on international co-productions. 

 

The New York Times Buys Wordle. The word game, released in October, has millions of daily users. Wordle was acquired from its creator, Josh Wardle, a software engineer in Brooklyn, for a price “in the low seven figures,” The Times said. The company said the game would initially remain free to new and existing players.

Sony Is Buying Bungie for $3.6 Billion in Latest Blockbuster Gaming Deal.  The news comes just weeks after Microsoft announced plans to acquire Activision Blizzard. Bungie is best known for developing Halo—the mega-popular franchise that put Sony’s rival, Xbox, on the map—as well as the first-person shooter franchise Destiny.

***the above posted after January 28th***

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. 

US economy grows at fastest pace in decades. The US economy expanded at its fastest rate in decades last year as it roared back from pandemic lockdowns. Official figures from the Commerce Department showed the economy grew by 5.7% - its best performance since 1984. But analysts are expecting growth to slow this year, as the government scales back stimulus spending and the Federal Reserve raises interest rates. 

 

Epic pushes to overturn App Store ruling in opening appeal brief. Epic Games has filed its opening brief to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, seeking to overturn the previous ruling that Apple’s control over the iOS App Store does not qualify as a monopoly. The company first gave notice of it appeal in September, but Thursday’s filing is the first time it has laid out its argument at length. 

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Financial Reporting

SPIN MASTER’S GROSS PRODUCT SALES FOR TOYS SPIKED 20% IN 2021

 

Spin Master’s Q4 revenue grew 26.5%, driven by growth in toy, entertainment and licensing, as well as digital games revenues.

Facebook Parent Company Loses More Than $220 Billion in Market Value on Apple iOS Woes, Growing TikTok Competition

***the above posted after January 28th***

 

Schleich reports best year ever

 

AMC Entertainment Moves To Refinance Debt

 

Peacock Loss Grows to $1.7 Billion in 2021 as Comcast Q4 Tops Expectations

 

IDW'S Q4 AND ANNUAL REPORTS REVEAL MORE ABOUT RECENT EVENTS

Netflix’s fourth quarter returns show the streaming giant struggling to maintain a lead over its competitors

Players spent $840 million on the Epic Games Store in 2021.

Esports organizers ESL and FACEIT sold for $1.5 billion to Savvy Gaming Group

Apple sales soar despite supply constraints

Microsoft gaming revenues up 8% in Q2

Capcom delivers record net sales with help from digital software

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.

Analysts expect Mattel, Inc. (NASDAQ:MAT) to report sales of $1.66 billion for the current quarter, according to Zacks Investment Research.

Five analysts have made estimates for Mattel's earnings, with the highest sales estimate coming in at $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.

Trends and Market Research

 

Spielwarenmesse international consumer study reveals importance of sustainability in toys

 

TOYS, TABLETOP GAMES HAVE BIG YEAR IN NPD-TRACKED RETAILERS IN 2021 Games and Puzzles Supercategory Up 23% Since 2019

 

***the above posted after January 28th***

 

State of Play: U.K. Toy Trends on Display at London Toy Fair 2022

 

U.S. Toy Industry Grows 13% in 2021

 

NPD says UK toy market shows resilience despite challenging year

 

The Insights Family Releases Its ‘2022 Toy Report: TheYear of STEM,’ with London Toy Fair

Amazon Prime Video could overtake Netflix in the UK by the end of 2024

‘Lucifer’ Tops ‘Squid Game’ On Nielsen 2021 Original Series Chart In U.S., ‘Luca’ Is No. 1 Movie

Toyjobs has been the dominant recruiting

Stories, Comments, and Advice

 

ToyWorld Exclusive: ‘not just playing when it comes to the planet’ says the TIE. An opinion piece by Catherine Van Reeth, director general of TIE, on how the organisation has engaged with policy makers on behalf of the industry on environmental sustainability issues. Even though the success of the world’s governments to come to meaningful decisions at the COP26 may be doubtful, their ambition for industry remains very...

 

An 8-Year-Old Wrote a Book and Hid It on a Library Shelf. It’s a Hit. Dillon Helbig, a second-grader from Idaho, wrote an 81-page book about his “Crismis” adventures. Now other children want to write stories. But he did not have a book deal. (He’s only in second grade, after all.) So when his grandmother took him to the Lake Hazel branch of the Ada Community Library in Boise at the end of December, he slipped the sole copy...

 

OPINION I The Insights Family on the future of cinema   When kids and teenagers can access VOD via phones and tablets whenever they want and wherever they are, what can cinemas do to compete? Exploiting popular IPs, offering better value, harnessing the latest technology and enhancing – even personalising – the cinematic experience are all viable options, attest market intelligence experts The Insights Family. In 

Letter from America – sustainable toys; a conundrum.  In this month’s column, Rick Derr confesses that he finds selling green or sustainable toys a real conundrum. Rick begins by rounding up some highlights from Learning Express’s business in 2021 and giving us a quick forecast for Q1 2022.He then turns his attention to the worldwide green or sustainable toys market, which is growing at considerable CAGR.

 

Opinion - OF MAUS AND MEN: COMICS, CENSORSHIP AND WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT IT.  Last week in the wake of a Tennessee school board’s ill-conceived effort to remove Art Spiegelman’s award-winning Maus from its eighth-grade language arts curriculum over some objections to naughty language and drawings of naked mouse-people, I interviewed CBLDF Executive Director Jeff Trexler over on Forbes

 

Big Tech Needs to Stop Trying to Make Their Metaverse Happen.  From Microsoft to Meta, the race is on to sell an amorphous concept that no one really wants them to build. THE RACE IS on to cash in on the metaverse hype. Last week, Microsoft described its $68.7 billion takeover of gaming studio Activision Blizzard—a move that would have usually been interpreted as the Xbox maker simply expanding in the gaming sector...

 

New Amazon Prime Series Has 100% Perfect Rotten Tomatoes Score. The first 3 episodes of a new series on Amazon Prime Video has been released on the platform and it's already a big hit criticallyThe Legend of Vox Machina, an animated series adaptation of the first campaign of Critical Role, a web series starring a group of voice actors playing Dungeons & Dragons, is currently sitting at a perfect 100% rating...

 

Minnie Mouse Exchanges Dress For Pantsuit And Sparks Uproar In The Twitterverse. As the world teeters on the brink of war in Ukraine, reels as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to disrupt, and continues to suffer from climate change, inflation, and supply chain shortages, the biggest news of the week came down to one thing: Minnie Mouse is changing her look.

 

2022 Could Be The Year Of Crypto & Consolidation.  From mega-streamers that feature all types of services, to kidcos steering into the in-car entertainment market, SuperAwesome's Dylan Collins shares nine predictions about where the kids media biz could go this year. 1 - A crypto-reboot of a classic kids virtual world The astonishing growth of NFTs and crypto-gaming, which combine character-crafting and trading, seems...

*** the above was posted after the Bloom Report was published on January 28th***

 

John Baulch, ToyWorld (UK) - The room where it happened…it’s the Friday Blog! What an incredible week. After a gap year that seemed like an eternity at times, the London Toy Fair returned…with a bang! The energy, the positivity, the delight at seeing old friends and colleagues, the fun of meeting new people for the first time and the joy at finally being able to see product in the flesh again all made for an uplifting event.

National Puzzle Day: ToyNews (UK) roundup of the best new jigsawsNo doubt about it, jigsaws are enjoying a moment. Sales surged by 240% during the height of the pandemic when families and kids rediscovered the many benefits of puzzles – how they boost problem-solving and fine-motor skills, encourage concentration, even help banish stress – and the overall sector is still strong, with UK sales reaching £100m in 2021.

 

My Family Is Trapped in the Metaverse.  Virtual 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...

 

TikTok named world’s fastest-growing brand According to brand valuation consultancy group, Brand Finance’s annual report, the TikTok app has been named the world’s fastest-growing brand.  The app’s brand value has grown by 215%, from $18.7 billion in 2021 to $59 billion this year. At No. 18 among the world’s top 500 most valuable brands, it is the highest new entrant to the Brand Finance Global 500 2022 ranking. 

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History and Nostalgia

 

Ideal: Teddy’s Bears. The Ideal Novelty and Toy Company was born in 1907 in Brooklyn, NY. The company grew out of the demand for Teddy’s Bears that Rose and Morris Mitchtom had made in their home in late 1902/early 1903. Teddy’s Bears, or teddy bears as they soon began to be called, became more and more popular, especially after President Roosevelt used a teddy bear as his mascot during his 1904 presidential...

 

***the above posted after January 28th***

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...

A rare find: Archaeologists unearth 4,000-year-old board game in Oman. Archaeologists working in Oman's Qumayrah Valley recently unearthed a rare artifact: a stone board game dating back some 4,000 years. The board features grid-like markings (possibly indicating fields) and holes for cups. It was found at a site near the village of Ayn Bani Saidah. 

 

Marvel World Adventure Playset from Amsco (1975). The Marvel World Adventure Playset encouraged young fans to play the hero, defeat the villains, and undertake adventures with a cast of Marvel superheroes. Released in 1975 by Amsco (a division of Milton Bradley) for children ages five and older, the playset was a colourful representation of the Marvel universe to build and explore at home.

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Licensing 

 

WildBrain and Jay Ward Productions have signed an agreement across distribution, production and licensing for the entire portfolio of classic Ward-owned IP that includes such legendary properties as George of the Jungle, Mr. Peabody & Sherman, Dudley Do-Right, Rocky & Bullwinkle, Super Chicken and more. Under the agreement, WildBrain will add 788 episodes of Jay Ward Productions’ classic animation to...

 

UTA Tapped to Lead Licensing, Publishing for ‘Super Sema’.  Following last year’s news that Just Play will take the lead as global master toy licensee for the series about an African kid superhero, UTA has come on board as the North American licensing and publishing agent. UTA is looking to build partnerships for Super Sema across publishing, apparel, home, and accessories in the months ahead.

 

PLAYMOBIL STRIKES DEAL WITH ANIME ‘NARUTO’.  The German company inked a licensing deal to create 24 figures inspired by Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto Shippuden. An initial wave of 12 figures will be released on Sept. 30 followed by a second wave on Nov. 18. Playmobil plans to anchor its line with Naruto Uzumaki, the titular hero of the series. 

 

Kidrobot has debuted its first Disney Vinyl Art Figures in collaboration with the entertainment icon. These new takes on classic Disney characters expand the scope of its existing Disney collection to the art vinyl medium, and are the first in a continuing creative line. The three Kidrobot Disney figures are currently available for pre-order on Kidrobot.com for an estimated Q4 2022 estimated delivery.

 

Apple TV+ is letting the dogs out next month in a new 3D-animated preschool series called Pretzel and the Puppies, which is based on a book series written and illustrated by the creators of Curious George. HarperCollins Productions (the publisher’s production arm) is behind the eight x 24-minute adaptation, with Toronto’s House of Cool handling the animation work.

 

E.T. comes home to celebrate 40th anniversary.  Universal Brand Development (UBD) has unveiled plans to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial in 2022. UBD has lined up an extensive roster of global licensees that leverage the toyetic and kidult appeal of the property. 

 

Flair GP and Aardman have signed a two-year deal to introduce new licensed lines to the Plasticine collection. The partnership will introduce two of Aardman’s animated characters to Flair’s popular heritage collection – Shaun the Sheep and Morph. The new lines will be available from July 2022. The first addition to the range will be the Plasticine Shaun the Sheep Farmyard Fun set, which allows kids to create...

 

***the above posted after January 28th***

 

Mattel and Netflix announced they are developing Masters of the Universe, Mattel’s franchise from the 1980s, into a live-action motion picture, expected to begin production in summer 2022.  “We’ve always been inspired by the fantastical world of Eternia,” say Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal and Steve Tisch, producers, in a joint statement. “This movie has been 14 years in the making for us and our partners and...

 

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.

EA announces three more Star Wars games. Electronic Arts is committing to the Star Wars franchise despite the end of its exclusivity deal, as the publisher today announced three new Star Wars games in the works at its Respawn Entertainment division. The first new title is a follow-up to Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order that will once again be directed by Stig Asmussen. 

 

Portal Games licenses 'Batman' characters from Warner Bros. Consumer Products. Portal Games has landed a license from Warner Bros. Consumer Products to use Batman characters in their tabletop games set in the DC Universe. The core of this licensing deal revolves around Portal Games adding one of the most beloved comic book detectives and his nemeses to their award-winning line of Detective board games. 

 

Funko opens 'Ultimate Armory' for 'Marvel Battleworld'. Funko Games has announced the third set of characters for its Marvel Battleworld collectible game:  Marvel Battleworld:  Series 3 Ultimate Armory, available in March in both Mega Pack and Battle Ball formats. Ultimate Armory builds on the previous two Marvel Battleworld series with 30 new collectible characters drawn from the “Armor Wars” comic book storyline...

 

Funko gets spooky with Disney’s Haunted Mansion game. Funko Games is marking the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World with the board game, “Disney The Haunted Mansion – Call of the Spirits Game: Magic Kingdom Park Edition.” The game is the first of several new Walt Disney World-inspired board games to be released.

PMI appoints Sinco Creations as its master toy gaming collectibles UK partner. PMI has appointed Sinco Creations to be its exclusive Gaming Collectible distributor for UK and Ireland for its upcoming releases of “Brawl Stars” and “Gang Beasts” for 2022. PMI and Sinco have already worked successfully together on the launch of “Among Us” last year and now they have further cemented their relationship...

Character invites visitors to wobble with the Weebles at Toy Fair. Character Options has confirmed that Weebles are to return to Toy Fair. The fantastically wobbly collection will include the best of pre-school licences, with Peppa Pig, licensed by Hasbro, launching in late January. Aimed at children aged 18-months and over, the range will see Peppa and friends reimagined as Weebles figures. 

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People of Play

 

Hasbro has hired Microsoft executive Cynthia Williams as President of Wizards of the Coast and Digital Gaming, taking over when current WotC CEO Chris Cocks ascends to become CEO of Hasbro on Feb. 25, the company announced.  Cocks came to his Wizards of the Coast CEO role from Microsoft in 2016. Williams has been at Microsoft for about 3.5 yrs as GM & VP, most recently of the Gaming Ecosystem Commercial Team.

 

Osmo from BYJU’S, announces Kar-Han Tan’s appointment as Head of Computer Vision and Machine Learning, effective immediately. With three decades leading teams in robotics and AI research and development, Tan will further the development of a world-class computer vision and AI platform that aids in the creation of new products, games, and devices incorporating gains made in deep learning technology.

 

ZAG has appointed former MGA Entertainment and Warner Bros. executive Carlotta Caracciolo as its first VP, Middle East and Africa, to oversee the company’s consumer products strategy in the region. The appointment was announced by Julian Zag, SVP Global Operations and Head of Consumer Products, to whom Caracciolo reports. Carlotta Caracciolo, in her new role at ZAG, will be based in Dubai and will focus...

History, Fashion, and G.I. Joes: An Interview with Hasbro's Emily Bader – Adventures in Collecting (podcast). This week, Dave and Erik jump back into the world of Hasbro with associate brand manager, Emily Bader. Find out about what's in store this year for Joes and which action figure is best suited to head into 2022 fashion week! No, we're not kidding.

 

***the above posted after January 28th***

 

Fred Rogers Productions has named Aleya Crable Jennings Director of Corporate Sponsorships and Individual Giving. Jennings, who reports to company President and CEO Paul Siefken, will direct corporate and individual fundraising efforts to help Fred Rogers Productions continue to realize its education and social missions.

 

Susan Brandt promoted to CEO of Dr Seuss Enterprises  Dr. Seuss Enterprises has announced that Susan Brandt, an entertainment industry veteran who has been leading the company for more than two decades, has been promoted to president and CEO. Brandt, who was previously president of the company, will continue to lead the charge around the iconic entertainment property and oversee the worldwide operations. 

 

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.

People on the move: Japanime Games hires two. Japanime Games announced that they have hired two new employees, Emma Recher and Ian Ashland. Emma Recher was the Marketing & Sales Administration Manager for IELLO USA for three years until the French company IELLO cut ties with them and Stephan Brissaud at the end of 2021. 

Amy Wildman promoted to sales and marketing director for Halilit. Halilit have announced that Amy Wildman has been promoted to the position of Sales and Marketing Director with immediate effect. Amy joined the company in 2015 as National Account Manager and has made a massive contribution to company growth, says Judith Stark, Managing Director. 

 

Christopher Watts to lead ENGINO sales in UK and Ireland. ENGINO has announced that Christopher Watts will join them with immediate effect to lead sales in the UK & Ireland. He will also have strategic input across all international markets for the company. Christopher is a 30-year toy industry veteran, having held senior UK and International roles at Meccano, Playmobil, Corgi, Epoch and, most recently, Click Distribution. 

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Companies and Brands

 

MATTEL CELEBRATES NPD TOP-RANKED BARBIE, HOT WHEELS BRANDS For the second year in a row, NPD named Mattel’s Barbie brand as the top global toy property of the year while the company’s Hot Wheels brand raced into the No. 1 spot with its 1:64-scale mainline vehicle assortment securing its position as the top-selling toy around the world. Fisher-Price was ranked as the No. 5 global toy property for the year and UNO...

Exploding Kittens Launches Hand-to-hand Wombat Game on Kickstarter.  The fiery felines from the Exploding Kittens game are making their way back to game night arenas, this time as menacing marsupials in the brand’s newest game, Hand-To-Hand Wombat. Back in 2015, Exploding Kittens launched on Kickstarter and amassed notable success.

DC & Warner Bros. Consumer Products honor the artistic expression and contributions of Black comic creators, artists and characters by unveiling an incredible collection of new comics, books and merch for Black History Month. The company will also launch initiatives to support and develop Black creators and inspire a new generation of comic book professionals. 

Wondery Kids Launches New BIPOC Podcast, ‘Adventures of Cairo’.  For parents looking for kid-friendly podcasts to fill the void of screen-free entertainment with multicultural role models and life lessons, meet Cairo! Wondery, the largest independent podcast publisher in the world, announced the release of their newest kid-friendly podcast Adventures of Cairo.

Radio Flyer Introduces Hero Wagon for Children’s Hospitals to Use .  To create the Hero Wagon, designers at Radio Flyer consulted with hospital staff to create features that can benefit both patients and staff in a hospital setting. This includes a patented one-hand folding design, a patent-pending IV pole bracket integrated into the wagon, and the use of wipe-clean, medical-grade fabric.

Cyber Group Studios to Premiere Giganto Club on YouTube Kids Feb 3rd.  Cyber Group Studios, best known for its award-winning preschool show Gigantosaurus, has partnered with YouTube to launch Giganto Club. Giganto Club is hosted by real-time animated dinos that engage viewers with awesome games, songs, and themed segments such as “Dino-news” and “Dino-guests.” 

Flair - Hot off the win of a Hero Toy Award at London Toy Fair, Flair has unveiled its plans for new doll brand Unique Eyes.  Flair will be supporting the brand with a comprehensive marketing plan for the collection, including TV advertising from late March, kids’ press, YouTube and parental influencers and TikTok, as well as range extensions for the second half. 

Build-A-Bear Workshop Celebrates 25 Years of Furry Friendship.  The plush brand and mall retailer has launched a yearlong celebration to commemorate its memorable moments and milestones from the past 25 years. The celebration includes an exclusive new line of furry friends, clothing, and accessories plus licensing partnerships, collaborations, and in-store activations planned for the months ahead.

Bandai America Launches 4 New Digimon X Colors.  The Digimon X launched last year as an updated version of the original Digimon virtual pet toy that originally launched in the ‘90s. Recommended for kids ages 8 and up, the digital monster features a screen and three buttons, and the entire device is attached to a keychain so kids can take it on the go.

Cloud b, a brand of products and accessories designed to help parents and kids sleep better, is celebrating its 20th year. The brand’s products include soothing-sound plushies and nightlights, as well as the Light + Sound collection that combines both.   These multi-sensory product collections are based on pediatric research and were created by Linda Suh, a young mom who wanted to give other new parents ...

 

Funko Teams up with GameStop, Make-A-Wish to Celebrate World Wish Day.  The collaboration includes a new line of blue Funko Pop! Vinyl figures featuring an assortment of fan-favorite characters from Marvel, Disney, Lucasfilm, and Pixar. These Pops! With Purpose will include a charitable donation to Make-A-Wish with every purchase. In addition to the donations from sales, Funko will donate $150,000 to Make-A-Wish.

 

Mattel’s Masters of the Universe Welcomes Multicultural Rulers of the Sun.  The Masters of the Universe (MOTU) brand kicks off its 40th anniversary celebration with new characters: The Rulers of the Sun. The diverse heroes will join MOTU across multiple toy lines this year, following last year’s introduction of the Black hero Sun-Man.

 

ZURU’s 5 Surprise Mini Brands: Disney Store Edition to Launch at Target.  ZURU has reimagined some of the most popular toys from the Disney Store as miniature collectibles with a massive, cross-audience appeal for which kids, parents, and collectors of many fandoms and interests will be on the hunt. 5 Surprise Mini Brands: Disney Store Edition includes more than 70 miniature toy replicas s from Disney franchises and brands.

 

Diamond Comic Distributors marked its 40th anniversary on Tuesday, February 1, and the company plans to celebrate with special deals and commemorative items throughout the year. Baltimore, Maryland, comics retailer Steve Geppi took over the business and warehouse of failing distributor New Media/Irjax to form Diamond, starting out with 17 customers. Over the years, Diamond acquired a number of its competitors...

 

Douglas Launches New ‘Foodie Macaroon’ Plush for 2022With each New Year comes the conversation of how to improve on your diet. It’s never fun, but it always takes place. Plush toy maker and lifestyle gift creator, Douglas Company, has decided to up the fun factor when it comes to a new year of food with their newest Foodie Macaroon introductions for 2022!

 

Elenco is celebrating a trio of milestones this year.  The Illinois-based company behind the Snap Circuits line of building toys is planning a year of activations to celebrate 50 years of learning fun, 20 years of its flagship brand, and a trio of Toy of the Year (TOTY) Award nominations. Elenco was started in 1972 in the basement of founder Gil Cecchin, an electrical engineer that built the company by supplying circuit kits to educators...

 

Encantos Gets Into The NFT Game. The edutainment company is about to launch non-fungible tokens inspired by its preschool property Canticos, and is aiming to empower creators to build out their own IPs. Artist Susie Jaramillo (creator of the Canticos portfolio of characters) is behind this batch of NFTs, which will feature Kiki Chickie, one of the brand’s three lead characters, paying homage to female pop culture icons.

 

Irish fun-tech start up HoloToyz triumphed in Toy Fair’s Editors Choice Awards, taking second place in the vote. London Toy Fair saw more than 260 exhibiting companies launching new toys for the year ahead, and the young Irish toy company was deighted to come only second to Rainbow Designs’ Talking Paddington Bear in the Editors’s Choice Awards. Past winners of this prestigious award include Lego and Pokémon.

 

***the above posted after January 28th***

 

Melissa & Doug's infant and toddler range a Toy Fair hit The reaction to Melissa & Doug’s new infant and toddler toys has been 'extremely positive', according to the company, which unveiled its new range at London Toy Fair. Known for creating screen-free, imaginative toys for kids of pre-school age and older, Melissa & Doug has, for the first time in its 30-year history, developed a range of toys specifically for the nursery sector. 

 

eBay launches authentication guarantee for trading cards. eBay today announced the launch of its Authenticity Guarantee service for trading cards. Beginning now, single ungraded trading cards (including collectible card games, sports and non-sports) sold for $750+ in the U.S. will be authenticated. 

 

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.

Restoration Games reveals 'The Omega Virus: Prologue'. Restoration Games revealed The Omega Virus: Prologue, a new card game, coming to retail on February 9, 2022. In Omega Virus: Prologue, players are trying to collect and play three pieces of equipment to stave off the Omega Virus. It is a real-time card game set in the world of 1992's The Omega Virus board game, which Restoration Games is in process of remaking. 

 

Keymaster's new 'Caper: Europe'. Keymaster Games has announced a new version of 2018’s Caper with a new setting:  Caper:  Europe, now on pre-order. Like the original game, Caper:  Europe casts players as criminal masterminds trying to carry out the perfect heist, this time in one of four European cities.  

 

Asmodee USA will release 'Welcome To The Moon'. Asmodee USA will release Welcome to the Moon, a roll-and-write game by Blue Cocker, that will hit stores on February 11, 2022. This game is the final game in the Welcome To... series of board games, originally created by Benoit Turpin. In Welcome To The Moon, players explore 8 different adventures that create a global storyline. 

 

Build-A-Bear Workshop targets the adult market with Heartbox. Build-A-Bear Workshop is entering the world of adult gifting. The company known for its colorful mall stores and plush teddy bears launched a new gifting solution for grownups called HeartBox. The direct-to-consumer (D2C) brand offers four specially curated, themed gift boxes geared toward what the company calls “adult-to-adult gifting occasions.” 

The Dixit universe is expanding with a magical board game. Libellud brought players into an enchanting world in the Dixit card game, and now players can explore the sky in Stella — Dixit Universe. This new board game gives players the opportunity to experience the beauty of Dixit in a fresh way. Stella — Dixit Universe continues the franchise’s word-image association gameplay, but with a new twist. 

 

Kids can grow into silent time with the Garden Quiet Book. Finally, it’s time for some peas and quiet. Baby Baby’s Garden Quiet Book is a sensory learning activity for kids to curl up with for a calming play experience. It features multiple pages of soft, felt items for kids to explore — all of which revolve around the theme of fruits and veggies. From the very first page, kids interact with it the book and learn from it. 

Wild Card Games taps into staycation trend with ‘Who Knows Where UK & Ireland’. Inspired by the growth in popularity in UK travel and holidaying locally, Wild Card Games has added “the ultimate family board game about the British Isles” to its award-winning, best-selling range of educational Who Knows Where games for adults and kids.

 

Just Play to run fun challenge #ThinkYouCanSlink? at Toy Fair. Just Play is challenging the industry to slink down to stand B60 at London Toy Fair to test their Slinky skills. With a specially designed Slinky Wall at the company’s London Toy Fair stand, Just Play UK will showcase one of the world’s most iconic retro toys by presenting attendees with the ultimate #ThinkYouCanSlink? Challenge.

 

University Games showcases 45-strong 3D puzzle range. Star Wars, Marvel, Disney, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones and National Geographic are just some of the famous and iconic brands University Games will be showcasing at the London Toy Fair this week, as part of its comprehensive and bestselling 3D Puzzle range. T

 

Steamforged announces 'Runescape' for tabletop. Steamforged announced that they have inked a deal with Jagex Ltd. to bring Runescape to the tabletop as a board game and a tabletop roleplaying game. Runescape is one of the longest running MMORPGs. It was released in January of 2001 by Jagex, and was recognized at one point by Guinness World Records as the world's largest and most-updated free MMORPG. 

 

Ares Games unveils 'This War Without an Enemy'. Ares Games unveiled This War Without an Enemy, by Nuts! Publishing, which will release into retail in March 2022.  In This War Without an Enemy, players go head-to-head in a strategic block wargame based on the 1642 English Civil War. Players take command of the Royalist forces of King Charles I or the English Parliamentarian troops and their allies as they struggle...

 

'ALIEN RPG' delves into a 'Heart of Darkness'. Free League Publishing announced ALIEN RPG: Heart of Darkness, a new standalone RPG adventure, for release into retail in summer 2022. This standalone adventure is a conclusion to the Draconis Strain Saga that started in Chariot of the Gods (see "'ALIEN Roleplaying Game' Supplemental Products"). 

 

Family-friendly fare coming from Luma. Luma Imports has announced a trio of family-friendly games set for release this quarter:  Aquarena, Frog Soup, and Dexterity Jane.  Combining education and play, Geek Attitude Games’ Aquarena presents a quiet pond as an arena for survival. In Frog Soup, the players are frogs trying very hard to ruin a witch’s brew where they are the star ingredient. 

 

Smart Zone launches diverse doll range Ebony’s Circle of Friends. Smart Zone (HK) has announced the launch of a new diverse doll range, available from Sept. 2022. The Ebony’s Circle of Friends doll collection is part of the famous Kenya dolls brand. Kenya paved the way for African American dolls by being the first with a television advertisement. Ebony’s Circle of Friends includes her Asian friend, Keiko, her Middle Eastern...

 

Just Toys extends partnership with Heathside. Just Toys has appointed Heathside to be its exclusive distributor for its full range of toys and collectibles in the UK and Ireland. The announcement has been made prior to this week’s London Toy Fair, where visitors will be able to view many of the Just Toys ranges on the Heathside stand. Just Toys range for 2022 and onwards includes an extensive collection of popular licensed...

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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. 

 

Call of Duty’s next three games will hit PlayStation despite Microsoft’s Activision deal. Activision plans to release at least the next three Call of Duty games on both Sony and Microsoft consoles, Bloomberg reports. The new report should be a sigh of relief to fans who were worried Microsoft would immediately make new Call of Duty games Xbox exclusive if its blockbuster acquisition of Activision goes through. 

Activision Blizzard

 

Employees at Activision studio Raven Software formally organize union. After five weeks of striking, the QA testers at Raven Software, a subsidiary of Activision Blizzard, have formed one of the first unions in a AAA game publisher. The union, known as the Game Workers Alliance, was formed in association with the Communications Workers of America, a labor union that represents telecommunications and digital media...

 

Blizzard's working on a survival game set in "an all-new universe". Blizzard Entertainment has announced that it's begun production on a new survival game set in an all-new universe for the veteran game studio--and that it's recruiting a new developers for the project. "We are going on a journey to a whole new universe, home to a brand-new survival game for PC and console," the game's announcement reads....

 

Raven unionization plans continue without Activision Blizzard recognition. The Raven Software staff attempting to create a new union for game workers must move to the next stage without said union being recognized by Activision Blizzard's leadership. Activision Blizzard was given until 6pm Eastern Time to voluntarily recognize the newly formed Game Workers Alliance as a union. 

Safety and Counterfeiting

 

The dangers of counterfeit toys – and how to fight back against the fakers.  The explosion of online retail sites, coupled with toy shortages, during the Covid pandemic led many consumers to unknowingly purchase counterfeit goods – toys that are not simply sub-standard, but in many cases, pose a threat to children’s safety. Here, Rachel Jones, CEO and founder of SnapDragon Monitoring, a company that helps protect...

 

***the above posted after January 28th***

 

Playing with poison: toxins in children's toys. In an early Saturday Night Live sketch, a young Candice Bergman and Dan Aykroyd perform in a consumer probe spoof. In the skit, Bergman plays a journalist questioning Aykroyd, who portrays a toy company executive, about the safety of the toys he is trying to market: a knife-wielding Ken doll, and most notably, a bag of broken glass. 

 

Kmart sued by toy manufacturer over allegedly bootleg plush bunnies. Kmart is being sued in the Federal Court over claims it has been selling bootleg stuffed animals.UK-based toy manufacturer Jellycat has accused the department store of profiting from a range of plushies that “reproduce” their popular Jellycat bashful bunny, which is sold in Australia and around the world. 

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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. 

Associations, Shows, Awards, Events, and Festivals

 

SPIELWARENMESSE REVEALS 2022 TOYAWARD WINNERS.  A team of expert panelists narrowed down a host of submissions to just three finalists across five categories: Preschool (3-6 years), School Kids (6-10 years), Teenagers & Adults (10+ years), Startup, and Sustainability. Traditionally, a sixth category, Baby & Infant (0-3 years), is in the mix, but no products were submitted for consideration this year. 

Istanbul International Toy Fair will be held at the Tüyap Fair and Congress Center for four days between March 17th-20th 2022 with the support of the OYDER (Association of Toyers). This year marks the fourth iteration of the show, which spans a huge range of categories including toys, baby products, costumes, model railways, sports equipment, bikes and scooters, and much more.

 

The NPD Group has announced the winners of this year’s global and Europe Toy Industry Performance 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 manufacturer, global top toy property, and global top selling toy, according to NPD’s Retail Tracking Service.

 

Engino opens B2B virtual fair for STEM toys buyers. Engino will present its new products for 2022 online, and invites buyers interested in the range to make a Virtual Showroom appointment now. Despite the challenges presented by being currently unable to meet many of its clients face to face, Engino says it is still excited to connect with the retail buying and education communities over next month. 

Haba to host Virtual Spring Trade Fair 2022.  Following positive feedback last year, the virtual spring trade fair format will offer the opportunity to see new products and conduct business meetings.  Retailers, inventors, journalists and all toy and game industry colleagues are invited to participate in the Haba Virtual Spring Trade Fair 2022. Under the strapline “Our journey into the future continues”, from February 2nd-6th...

 

***the above posted after January 28th***

 

Licensing Expo, the world’s largest licensing trade show, will return to Las Vegas from May 24-26, 2022, reconnecting the global licensing industry in person for the first time since 2019. Organised by Informa Markets in partnership with industry trade association Licensing International, Licensing Expo reconvenes following a 2-year hiatus to celebrate its 40th live edition with safety very much at the heart...

 

Exhibitors and visitors alike were delighted to be back for the 68th annual London Toy Fair this week. The 3-day event at Olympia London was the only dedicated toy fair that has been able to take place this year. Special measures were in operation due to Covid-19 to ensure the health and safety of all exhibitors and visitors attending the show, which saw 260 exhibiting companies unveil thousands of new products for the year...

 

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.

A message from The Australian Toy Association:  It is with much regret that the ATA Board and Management inform our members and the industry that the 2022 Toy Hobby Licensing Fair, which was set to take place at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, will not go ahead. The current situation is quite concerning with the spread of COVID through the community and while borders are remaining open, this not only raises concerns around the safety of an event but also its success due to a potential low attendance rate.

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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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