the Bloom Report

Worldwide Toy Industry's #1 News Summary

Below is Jan. 22-29, 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 and Happy National Puzzle Day!

 

Check out this week’s POP panel (end of this page): Being an Inventor Within a Corporate Design Department with moderator: Gary Swisher (EVP Design & Development, Spin Master) and panelists: Brian Yu (Sr Manager of Games Design, Mattel), Gina Melone (Chief Creative, Studio Big Rock), Ashley Mady (Head of Brand Development, Basic Fun!), Gabe Carlson (VP of Design, Global Dev & Operations, Mattel), Andres Garza (Sr Design Manager, Spin Master).

Now is the time to build your POP Pro profile! When you do, you are welcome to join our next POP Week event March 1-5 for free.  It is super easy to set up and there are loads of benefits all year long! If you click on Gary Swisher's link above, you'll see what the public sees and if you join as a POP Pro member, you'll see so much more! 

Thank you for reading the Bloom Report!

Mary

tBR Person of the Week: Jacqueline Vong - Diversifying Beyond China

As the anniversary of the first international reported case of Covid-19 has come, we have seen a growing interest in relying less on the Chinese market for manufacturing. There are a number of reasons to look beyond China including labour prices, exchange rates, container availabilities, long holidays delays. To further support this, Josh Punin of Trade Asia Pac eloquently states, this is “driven by retailers in US where they need to start seeing a diversification and production outside of China. It’s not about taking away <opportunities> from China.”

 

Many companies have considered outsourcing low-cost manufacturing to South East Asia in places like Vietnam. While we see some success stories coming out, we also know that SEA factories still have a long road ahead of them to compete with China’s capabilities and labor force just in terms of numbers. Additionally, if some components are manufactured in other countries, they end up being shipped to China for consolidation and it becomes a ‘made in china product’ once again.

 

But let’s explore India as an option. Punin has formed a new India based consulting group with long time toy veteran David Selveraj based in Chennai sees the Indian market as a huge opportunity right now. Read More...

tBR Person of the Week: Lynn Anne Rosenblum-Collectively Speaking, What's your collecting obsession?

YEARS AGO, AS A CHILD, Lynn Rosenblum would point at a billboard, “Home of Barbie,” and announce to her parents: “I am going to work there some day.”

 

That billboard was on the old Mattel building off the 405 freeway in Southern California.

 

Well, she did get to work “there.” Talk about a childhood dream come true!

 

“My first treasures were Barbie dolls,” Rosenblum says. “I even have a unique special one-of-a-kind look-alike ‘Lynn’ Barbie doll that the Barbie designers gave me as a special gift when I worked at Mattel,” she adds.

 

Some of her other childhood treasures included Liddle Kiddles, Troll dolls, and stuffed animals. Indeed, Rosenblum was a self-styled collector long before she entered the toy and collectables biz.

 

“It sounds cliché, but I really am a kid at heart,” she says, adding, “I held on to many of my childhood toys because they were cool and were also a touchstone to my past.” Read More...

Financial & Legal News . . .

Jeff Bezos steps down from CEO role as Amazon reports record-breaking financialsThe billionaire founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, is stepping down as the company’s CEO in an announcement that has hit the headlines the world over. The news was shared on Tuesday, February 2nd amid the online behemoth’s latest financial results in which Amazon reported sales of $125.6bn in the last three months of 2020. 

Market disruption to push media industry towards greater risk taking. With the turbulence of 2020 still rippling through the media industry, companies are now becoming more adaptable and accepting of risk in order to get through the unprecedented times and grow, says business network the DPP.

Borderlands dev Gearbox acquired by Embracer Group in $1.38 billion deal. Borderlands and Brothers in Arms developer Gearbox Entertainment has been acquired by Embracer Group in a deal worth up to $1.38 billion. The agreement will see Gearbox become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Embracer, which also owns THQ Nordic, Deep Silver, Saber Interactive, and more. The Swedish holding company will...

Embracer acquires mobile developer Easybrain and independent studio Aspyr Embracer Group has acquired mobile developer Easybrain Limited and independent developer-publisher Aspyr Media in separate deals, adding to its recent $1.38 billion purchase of Borderlands developer Gearbox. The Swedish company will acquire Easybrain in a deal worth $765 million, comprised an initial $640 million and $125 mill...

Activision bans 60,000 Call of Duty: Warzone cheatersActivision announced the permanent ban of 60,000 Call of Duty accounts for using cheat software in Warzone. That brings the total number of bans to 300,000 since the title's launch in March 2020, the publisher said. Going forward, Activision will reinforce its efforts to prevent cheating by bringing improvements to its anti-cheat software and "additional detection....

(the above posted after January 29th)

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. 

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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

Financial & Brokerage News . . .

EA posts record-breaking bookings driven by Ultimate Team, Apex Legends . . . . . PlayStation 5 sold 4.5m units in less than two months . . . . . Spider-Man: Miles Morales has sold 4.1m copies . . . . . Star Wars has made $3bn for EA . . . . . Animal Crossing: New Horizons sold over 31 million copies in nine months . . . . . The GameStop stock roller coaster has come to the dip . . . . . Hasbro's (HAS) Gears Up for Q4 Earnings: What's in Store? . . . . . Is Mattel Stock a Buy? . . . . . Mattel (MAT) Earnings Expected to Grow: What to Know Ahead of Next Week's Release . . . . . Nintendo Smashes Expectations With Best Quarter Since 2008 . . . . . Hasbro, Inc. (HAS) Ex-Dividend Date Scheduled for February 01, 2021 . . . . . Games industry investment jumped 77% to $13.2 billion in 2020

(the above posted after January 29th)

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

Future Financial Reporting . . .

Hasbro's gears up for Q4 earnings: what's in store? Hasbro, Inc. is scheduled to report fourth-quarter 2020 results on Feb 8, before the opening bell. In the last reported quarter, the company’s earnings beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 12.6%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for fourth-quarter earnings is pegged at $1.14 per share, suggesting a decline of 8.1% from $1.24 in the prior-year quarter. 

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

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

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 . . .

The spudly history of Mr. Potato Head. What is the measure of a man? Is it his gallant stride in his blue plastic sneakers? Is it the fact that his ears are attached to his head with little pegs? Is it the jaunty tip of his derby hat or his unblinking smile, aimed at friend and foe alike? In the case of Mr. Potato Head, it’s all of the above. But how did everyone’s favorite spud go from literal potato to star of the silver screen and beyond?

‘Kids are not all right’: Mental health among Ontario children deteriorating during COVID-19. Ceilidh Chopowick says she is not all right, but she’s trying. It has been a difficult year for the Grade 10 student from Pickering, Ont. “There are days I don’t feel motivated to do anything and I stay in bed,” Chopowick says. “It’s hard to get going and do my schoolwork, and sometimes it’s even hard (to) like try and connect with friends...

GameStop - David and Goliath or a political fable? Take a company that's been around for years. Think of a high street VHS video store in the age of Netflix, for example. I, a cynical financial investor, think to myself - I don't like the prospects for that company - it looks out of date, I reckon it's doomed. The shares cost £1 each - a year from now I reckon it will surely be bust. 

Board Games can provide ‘significant benefits for those with Alzheimer’s’ says new study from Asmodee and Game in Lab. A new study into the effects of play has uncovered that playing board games can have a significant beneficial effect for those with Alzheimer’s. Jointly commissioned by Asmodee and Game in Lab, the study – titles Cognitive – Adaptation – Behaviour – was the first of its kind to look at the potential applications of play in providing quality of life improvements.

(the above was posted after January 29th)

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...

John Baulch (ToyWorld UK) - Beware the slides of March…it’s the Friday Blog! As yet, we don’t have a fixed date when Lockdown 3.0 will end and stores will be able to re-open – but we do know that it won’t be before 8th March. What happens after that is dependent on a range of factors, including the virus transmission rate, number of cases and progress of the vaccination programme – essentially, the information which...

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.)

Hollywood’s demand for streaming content is putting kids media creators and producers squarely at the adults’ table.The world of kids TV has long been thought to be a peaceful one, a place where “Blue’s Clues,” “The Baby-Sitters’ Club,” “Phineas and Ferb” and “Rugrats” are left alone to ramble and play. As more consumers move to streaming-video services, however, kids properties are taking on new importance...

World According to Griepp - 20 Years Ago Today, ICv2 Published Its First Article In this column, Milton Griepp talks about ICv2's launch and first 20 years, and some exciting special events to mark the occasion. Twenty years ago today, on January 29, 2001, the first article was published on ICv2.com.  I’d begun working on the new site in 2000, shortly after I ended my time running NextPlanetOver.com, a (very early) venture...

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...

Remembering the Toy Industry's Past . . .

Where’s the Fun From? – Who Invented Play-Doh? In this installment of his  YouTube series, Where’s the Fun From?, Tim Walsh tells the story of one of the most beloved toy products ever created, Play-Doh, which was first manufactured as wallpaper cleaner. Author, documentary filmmaker, and toy industry veteran Tim Walsh recently founded a new game company called Roo Games. 

PAC-MAN: History of an Icon from Cook and Becker. With than forty-years under its belt, the PAC-MAN video game is iconic. That history is chronicled in a forthcoming release from publisher, Cook and Becker. Co-authored by Arjan Terpstra and Tim Lapetino, PAC-MAN: Birth of an Icon combines historical imagery and concept designs with more than 40 interviews and stories with the artists, designers, and developers who...

Astrolite from Hasbro (1969). In 1969, Hasbro released Astrolite, a psychedelic building set that combined the creativity of building-toys like LEGO with the eye appeal of Lite Brite. Designed by the prolific Chicago-based toy design firm, Marvin Glass & Associates, children used Astrolite to build structures using clear, acrylic parts that push-fit together. The creations were mounted on top of an elevated base that housed...

 

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...

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Worldwide Licensing News . . .

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

Disguise, Moonbug Entertainment ink deal for Blippi costumes. Disguise Inc — the costume division of Jakks Pacific — has entered into a new partnership with Moonbug Entertainment to design, manufacture, distribute, and market costumes and accessories based on the hit preschool brand, Blippi.

Rainbow Designs unveils new We’re Going on a Bear Hunt toys in Walker Books partnershipRainbow Designs is encouraging children to undertake their own Bear Hunt adventures this year as it launches its new We’re Going on a Bear Hunt collection of soft and wooden toys to the market. Based on Walker Books’ classic storybook of the same title, the toys take inspiration from the adventurous tale that has been...

LEGO partners with SEGA to bring Sonic the Hedgehog to brick form. The LEGO Group has detailed a new partnership with SEGA to bring Sonic the Hedgehog into brick form, thanks to a concept design submitted to the Danish toy maker’s invention platform, LEGO Ideas. Created by a 24-year-old LEGO superfan, Viv Grannell, the design was inspired by SEGA’s critically acclaimed 2017 platformer experience Sonic Mania and...

Magpie Games gets 'Avatar', 'Korra'. Magpie Games has signed a multi-year license with ViacomCBS Consumer Products for a tabletop roleplaying game set in the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra.  The series ran on Nickelodeon, and although a modest number of episodes were produced (61 for Avatar and 52 for Korra), the shows acquired a passionate fandom. 

Kickstart, Geena Davis partner on new kids show. With a US$10-million financing injection, the prodco is focusing on diverse content, starting with animated series I AM. Vancouver-based Kickstart Entertainment has received a new US$10-million investment to focus on creating diverse content, and the prodco is working with Geena Davis (pictured) on a new animated series for young girls to get the mission started.

Spin Master announces global publishing deal for Mighty Express The deal is announced as Season Two of Mighty Express launches on Netflix as part of Spin Master's commitment to a multiplatform content strategy. Penguin Young Readers, a division of Penguin Random House, will have the global rights to publish 8x8s, board books, shaped board books, picture books, novelty books, leveled readers, holiday books and exclusive...

Henson, Dr. Seuss puppeteer new series.  The prodcos are inviting kids to Come Over to My House in a new puppet-led docuseries. The Jim Henson Company is cooking up a new Dr. Seuss adaptation that could not only serve as a remedy to the isolation children are experiencing during the pandemic, but also help them re-engage socially long after lockdown. In early development, Come Over to My House is a live-action...

New Sonic Prime Series to Premiere on Netflix. Netflix, SEGA, and WildBrain announced a new animated Sonic the Hedgehog series, Sonic Prime, will debut in 2022. The series will be animated at WildBrain’s Vancouver studio, and SEGA and WildBrain will jointly participate across production, distribution and licensing. Man of Action Entertainment, creators of Ben 10 and the characters and team in the Academy Award...

Disguise Inc lands Nintendo partnership for Kirby costumes amid ‘video game licensing explosion’. Disguise Inc, the costume division of the toy manufacturer, JAKKS Pacific, has secured a new partnership with Warpstar – the IP management affiliate of Nintendo – to design, market, and distribute costumes and costume accessories for the Kirby franchise. 

EA signs multi-year license extension with UEFA to continue FIFA collaboration. EA has signed a multi-year license extension with UEFA that will allow it to continue featuring flagship competitions like the UEFA Champions League in its soccer franchises. The new license will grant the EA Sports FIFA ecosystem the exclusive rights to the Champions League, along with the UEFA Europa League and UEFA Super Cup. 

Hasbro, Super7 team up for Power Rangers action figures and collectibles. It’s morphin’ time over at Super7 — The collectibles manufacturer has officially partnered with Hasbro to produce a range of Power Rangers merchandise this year, including ReAction figures, Ultimates! figures, and Super Cyborg figures. This line is set to kick off with a Super Cyborg Megazord figure this spring, alongside a capsule collection including....

Ravensburger launches Pusheen Card GameRavensburger has announced its new card game featuring Pusheen the Cat. The Pusheen Purrfect Pick is currently available for preorder on Amazon ahead of its on-sale date of Feb. 19 (also Pusheen’s birthday). “Pusheen Purrfect Pick is a fun and adorable game that captures Pusheen's humor,” says Claire Belton, creator and chief executive office, Pusheen. “Our team really ...

Hasbro unveils Lucasfilm 50th anniversary Star Wars action figures. Hasbro unleashed a full bounty of new action figures during the first Star Wars Fan First Friday of 2021. The company set the stage for a big year for fans of its 6-inch scale Star Wars: The Black Series and 3.75-inch Star Wars: The Vintage Collection action figures with a fresh lineup that celebrates 50 years of Lucasfilm..

Spin Master Launches Supercross Toy LineSpin Master Corp, a leading global children’s entertainment company, reveals a new line of Supercross toys commencing a multi-year licensing agreement with Feld Entertainment as the new global master toy licensee for the premier off-road motorcycle racing series. Infused with Spin Master innovation, the first wave of Supercross toys delivers re-imagined play experiences...

Semaphore Licensing creators expand toy lines. Semaphore Licensing Solutions’ talent Trinity and Beyond and Braille Skateboarding are continuing their retail offering on Target.com and in Target stores nationwide. Series two for each of the Semaphore Licensing creators features a new toy line-up showcasing elevated versions of fan favorites from the initial toy release. Braille Skateboarding, the #1 skateboarding channel...

Ares Games and Nuts! Publishing ink a deal for North American distribution. Ares Games and Nuts! Publishing have inked a deal for North American distribution starting with 300: Earth and Water and Mini Rogue. Ares Games now has the rights to distribute Nuts! Publishing's games in the U.S., Canada, and additional territories worldwide. Ares and Nuts! began their partnership through Ares' distribution of the French version...

(the above posted after January 29th)

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. 

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People . . . 

Warner Bros. Consumer Products has set up former Apple exec Samantha Bushy as its new SVP of N.A. and head of e-commerce. Starting today, she will report to Pam Lifford, president of Warner Bros. global brands and experiences. Bushy is the first person to take on this new role, which was created as Warner Bros looks to expand its direct-to-consumer and e-commerce reach, according to a release.

Simon Waters is taking a fresh look at franchises. The former Disney and Hasbro exec has launched a consulting firm in an effort to help smaller IPs build big worlds. The word “franchise” conjures up images of brands that are too big to fail—the Marvels or the Star Wars of the entertainment world. But industry vet Simon Waters believes this focus on franchises can be applied to even the smallest or newest of properties.

Nina Hahn opens up about her role leading the VIS Kids division and what the future holds. For more than 15 years, Nina Hahn has served as SVP of production and development for ViacomCBS International Media Networks (VIMN). During her tenure, she has worked in direct partnership with Nickelodeon’s content teams around the world, and has been a key figure in more than 2,000 hours of original kids content. 

Sesame Workshop has promoted Ed Wells from SVP to EVP and head of global media and education in a bid to drive growth and consolidate its international business with new media and education initiatives. Wells started in the new role yesterday and reports to Steve Youngwood, who previously managed Sesame’s global media and education business before his promotion to CEO in October.

In a letter written to his "fellow Amazonians," Bezos said he would transition to executive chair of the company's board of directors and will focus on "new products and early initiatives." Bezos said his duties will also include devoting time and energy to the Day 1 Fund, the Bezos Earth Fund, Blue Origin, and The Washington Post. Bezos told employees to "keep inventing" and to "let curiosity be your compass."

Brilliant PR & Marketing has promoted Clark Nesselrodt to the role of EVP. The move comes as the agency emerges from a year of growth in which the Brilliant team expanded its roster to more than 40 retainer clients and secured more than 23 billion media and influencer impressions. Nesselrodt helped lead the agency’s ongoing development of integrated marketing services with an emphasis on social and digital media, SEO...

CARVE COMMUNICATIONS NAMES PR VET SCOTT GOLDBERG AS MANAGING DIRECTOR, EVP OF CLIENT SERVICES. Carve currently represents Learning Resources, Educational Insights, and hand2mind. Goldberg recently led the TOMY account at Salmon Borre Group in addition to leading efforts for Thames & Kosmos, Silverlit, Magformers, and others at Southard Communications. Goldberg will remain based in Chicagoland...

FORMER MATTEL EXEC HELENA PERHEENTUPA JOINS ZAG.  ZAG continues the expansion of its global senior executive team with the appointment of licensing veteran Helena Perheentupa to the newly created role of vice president, licensing, Central, Eastern, Northern Europe and Russia. Perheentupa joins the company from Mattel’s Frankfurt, Germany outpost where she most recently served as head of licensing...

JAZWARES’ MICHAEL RINZLER APPEARS ON THE ‘POWER KID PODCAST’. In the first of four episodes, Albritton welcomes Michael Rinzler, executive vice president and partner at Jazwares. Prior to becoming co-president and founding partner of Wicked Cool Toys — which was acquired by Jazwares in 2019 — Rinzler held positions at MGA Entertainment, Mattel, Playmates Toys, and Jakks Pacific.

Global licensing veteran Bill Burke has joined Licensing International as SVP Marketing Strategy and Communications.  Prior to joining Licensing International — the premier trade association for the global brand licensing industry — Bill Burke was Senior Vice President Marketing for CBS Consumer Products, where he led Global Marketing (including Retail), International Licensing, and Licensing Operations for such iconic...

Nancy Kanter signs overall deal with Netflix. The former Disney Channels Worldwide EVP and architect of Disney Junior will develop and produce original kids and family content for the streamer. Under the new agreement, Kanter will work on animated and live-action films and series for global kids and family audiences through her Available Light Productions shingle.

YouTube taps Craig Hunter as head of preschool EXCLUSIVE: The former Sony Pictures Television director of kids networks has moved over to YouTube, where he'll be tasked with creating a bigger slate for a global audience. In his newly created role, Hunter is in charge of all preschool content feeding into the AVOD’s originals pipeline for kids and families, which is supported by a US$100-million fund announced in 2019. 

(the above was posted after January 29th)

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...

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Companies . . .

Still not comfortable shopping in stores for games? No problem. Brian is at Board Game Barrister getting a look at how to explore and shop this local game store from your browser window with their Virtual Barrister.

The 10 Coolest Reveals from Funko Fair. Now that Funko’s 9-day virtual event has come to a close, the Pop Insider revisited some favorite new product reveals from the past two weeks. From Comic Book Pop! displays to art-inspired Mickey Mouse designs, these products are sure to be on collectors’ wish lists.

Stencil and Doodle Away with Buffalo Games’ Chuckle & Roar Line. Buffalo Games is launching four new crafts toys for the Chuckle & Roar line, including a stencil set, a stamp set, dot art, and a doodle map, all launching exclusively at Target on March 14. The  combination of the chilly winter and the continuing pandemic has us all cooped up at home looking for ways to pass the time. 

Hasbro, Epic Games Debut Fortnite x G.I. Joe Collaboration. Hasbro unleashed a collaboration with Epic Games that brings an iconic ninja commando to Fortnite as the latest hunter to pass through the Zero Point. Fortnite x G.I. Joe kicks off with a new Snake Eyes skin available in the Fortnite Item Shop. The collaboration also includes a limited edition action figure that will ship next year. Read more…

Can You Resist the Cuteness of My Squishy Little Dumplings? WowWee is launching My Squishy Little Dumplings this summer and these collectible, food-themed characters are just as cute as they sound. The little interactive characters have BIG flavor and stylish accessories to match. Kids ages 5 and up can hold the dumplings in the palm of their hand and squeeze the dumplings’ squishy cheeks to pop out their...

Two in 1 Direct to bring Cats vs. Pickles to UK Paul Fogarty’s latest venture, Two in 1 Direct, is set to bring Cats vs. Pickles plush to the UK market following a strong launch in the US. Two in 1 Direct has been created to offer an alternative supply model for UK retailers. The company’s direct supply model is based upon a domestic stock proposition, in order to remove risk for retailers and offer a straightforward option for...

Mattel’s Whac-A-Mole to get own TV game show as toy firm prepares for tabletop re-release Whac-A-Mole has become the latest Mattel toy property to receive the TV treatment as the television production outfit, Fremantle, prepares to develop a new game show based on the title. The move comes amid a slate of TV licensing announcements from Mattel, including the most recent partnership with Propagate to develop a game...

Asmodee launches Asmodee Korea as it eyes region for next stage of growthAsmodee has officially detailed the opening of a new branch to serve the South Korean market, with the launch of Asmodee Korea Limited. The new branch will be led by industry veteran Kevin Kichan Kim. The move is the latest in Amsodee’s ongoing international growth plans and has been opened with the aim of reinforcing the board game giant’s leading position in the Korean market.

Toyi gets kids upcycling through play with a range of innovative construction kits containing a variety of pieces used to turn everyday objects into toys. Ögeday Uçurum and Elif Atmaca launched Toyi in 2018 with the aim of providing a new play system that incorporates everyday objects. The products have been well received within the toy industry, winning several awards and are already distributed across 12 countries. 

Toikido – doing things differently.  Toy World finds out more about master toy partner for hit game Among Us, Toikido, and how the start-up will be ripping up the rule book. Darran Garnham, formerly CEO at MTW and VP EMEA NBCUniversal, is off to a strong start with his new venture, Toikido, landing a master toy deal with the studio behind the lockdown smash-hit game AmongUs, Innersloth Games.“We want to do things...

The former industry titan recently closed its only two U.S. stores, including a location in New Jersey this week, according to a spokeswoman. The outlets were opened in late 2019 by Tru Kids Inc., an entity that acquired the brand’s intellectual property during the retail giant’s 2018 liquidation. The new entity said it may get back into brick and mortar at some point. “As a result of Covid, we made the strategic...

Hot Wheels is ready to blast off as they announce their newest team-up vehicle with NASA. On February 18, 2021, the Mars Perseverance Rover is expected to land, and no better way to show off the moment than with a new collectible. Mattel has captured the Perseverance Rover in an amazing 1:64 scale replica. This is one of the first of Hot Wheel Space related collectibles, and it is an excellent vehicle to kick off the series. 

Playmobil opens the gates to new Adventure Zoo. With realistic designs, a modular concept and many popular animals, Playmobil says this play theme will guarantee hours of fun for young animal lovers. The new Adventure Zoo brings animals from all over the world into children’s playrooms. With a wide variety of exotic animals and numerous expansion sets, the play theme invites budding zoo directors to create...

Turn up the nostalgic flame with new Retro Marvel Legends: Human Torch, Hulk, and moreHasbro has once again used the Time Stone to take us back to our childhood. The Marvel Legends Retro series is about to smash its way into your collection yet again, with a colorful new line of fan-favorites. Inspired by the heroes’ original comic-book renditions, this new wave is full of style and strength.

LEGO curates mindfulness soundscape of 10,000 bricks with LEGO White Noise. The LEGO Group is treading (softly) new ground for toys in the mindfulness space with the launch of a new LEGO White Noise playlist, designed to help listeners find a moment of relaxation – by listening the noises made by LEGO bricks. But there’s no soundtracks of fully-grown adults yelping as they step on LEGO bricks left across the floor, but

Z-Man Games unveils a new edition of 'Carcassonne: Hunters And Gatherers'. Z-Man Games unveiled a new edition of Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers which is now on preorder. This new edition of Hunters and Gatherers includes similar components to the original published in 2002 through Rio Grande Games. It also comes with updated art and extra menhir tiles, which are bonus tiles that allow players extra turns. 

Let out some rage at the office in 'Aggretsuko Work/Rage Balance'. Renegade Game Studios will release Aggretsuko Work/Rage Balance, a non-collectible card game, for release on March 3. Renegade continues their line of games based on Sanrio Co.'s IPs with Aggretsuko Work/Rage Balance. Aggretsuko Work/Rage Balance is a fast-paced card game where players assume the roles of mild-mannered office workers with hidden

Stronghold Games announces 'Not Alone: Sanctuary'.  Stronghold Games announced Not Alone: Sanctuary, an expansion for the Not Alone card game by Ghislain Masson, for release on February 24. The bluffing game Not Alone gets another expansion that adds a new path to victory via a Sanctuary board and token. In Sanctuary, the Creature stalks players as they try to rescue survivors that can give them single-use...

Luma Imports will release 'Rush Out!' into the U.S. hobby channel. Luma Imports will release Rush Out!, a fantasy survival game by Sit Down!, into the U.S. Hobby Channel in Q2. Rush Out! is a game where players take on the roles of adventurers that are trying to escape an underground maze. The adventurers had entered the maze looking for treasure, but are now on the run because a powerful sorcerer has awakened...

Thunderworks Games unveils 'Cartographers Heroes'. Thunderworks Games unveiled Cartographers Heroes, a map drawing game, for release in July. Cartographers Heroes is the sequel to Cartographers, designed by John Brieger and Jordy Adan, where players assume the roles of royal cartographers sent off to map the war-ravaged Western Lands of Nalos. 

Capstone makes inkblots a game In 'Rorschach'. Capstone Games is bringing a staple of psychoanalysis to the game table in its new party game Rorschach, releasing this June. Inspired by the famous test devised by pioneering Swiss psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach, this party game challenges two teams of players to try to guess which random words their teammates have connected to Rorschach’s inkblot images.

(the above posted after Jan 29th)

MATTEL, HASBRO TOP 2021 BEST PLACES TO WORK FOR LGBTQ+ EQUALITY. A pair of major toymakers are among the 767 businesses recognized for earning a 100% rating and the designation of being a 2021 Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality. Mattel and Hasbro made the list as part of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI), the annual national benchmarking tool on corporate....

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. 

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

EA Play now has 13 million players across all platforms. Following a recent rebrand and a hefty partnership with Xbox, EA has announced that its own subscription-based game library EA Play now has nearly 13 million active players. This counts those delving into EA Play's library across all four of its platforms: Xbox, PlayStation, Steam, and the EA PC client. 

Apex Legends is finally coming to the Nintendo Switch on March 9th. Apex Legends is coming to the Nintendo Switch very soon. Today, EA announced that the portable version of its sci-fi battle royale will debut on Nintendo’s tablet on March 9th. Chad Grenier, Apex’s game director, says the new version will include “cross-platform play, our latest seasonal content, and full feature parity with the other versions of the game.” 

Google closing Stadia game studios, opening up tech to publishersGoogle is shutting down its internal game development efforts and shifting focus towards third-party games with its cloud streaming service Stadia. According to a Kotaku report ahead of the announcement, Google will close its two game studios in Montreal and Los Angeles with roughly 150 roles will be affected, though the company says it ....

Amazon is reportedly spending nearly $500 million a year on its video game division. Amazon's video game division has been struggling to get off the ground, and a report from Bloomberg indicates just how much has been spent trying to make it happen. Two sources familiar with Amazon's budget told Bloomberg that the tech giant is spending "nearly $500 million a year" operating the video game division. 

Australian games industry delivers 29 percent revenue growth despite COVID-19. The Australian games industry generated an estimated $184.6 million ($141.9 million USD) in revenue during the 2019-2020 fiscal year (ended June 30, 2020), delivering growth of 29 percent year-over-year. That's according to a developer survey conducted by the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (IGEA), which was completed ...

The Medium has already recouped production and marketing costs. Bloober Team's The Medium recouped its production and marketing costs within a day of its initial release. The Polish firm's new game launched on January 28, and the following day Money.pl reported -- quoting Bloober Team directly -- that it had covered its production and marketing costs. 

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...

 

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 . . . 

EASE INTO SPRING TRAINING WITH AERO-DYNAMIC TOY KIDS WRAP AROUND THEIR FINGER. Flex Those Shoulders, Knees & Toes With The Palm-Size Yo Ring  – The double whammy of a frosty winter plus pandemic restrictions has kids yearning for ways to get moving indoors and out. To get back in shape this spring, family members have discovered the hottest craze that requires only lifting a finger with Yo Ring ($7.25).

Manufactured in the USA, these yellow, red and blue silicone discs offer the perfect balance of flight, flexibility and fun. Like the well known frisbee, kids can fling and catch with little effort. Or they can go turbo with running, stretching, challenging and inventing new rules. 

DURING COVID WHEN LIVE PROFESSIONAL PHOTO SHOOTS WITH KIDS AND TOYS ARE CANCELLED, ADVENTERRA GAMES GOT INFLUENTIAL Eco-Friendly & Fun Family-Owned Game Company Taps its PR Agency’s Team of Family Influencers For Needed Images – Adventerra Games is still the new kid on the block in the US, having just exhibited at the New York Toy Fair for the first time in 2020, just before the pandemic hit the US. As the country grappled with shutdowns and social distancing, and the company’s new preschool games arrived in the fall, the company was faced with the difficulty of scarce options for getting the games photographed with age-appropriate children.

FANDOM AND WONDERSTORM ANNOUNCE THE PUBLIC PLAYTEST FOR TALES OF XADIA, A TABLETOP ROLEPLAYING GAME BASED ON THE NETFLIX ORIGINAL ANIMATED SERIES THE DRAGON PRINCE. Fans can enjoy free access to the playtest by simply signing up to the Tales of Xadia newsletter at talesofxadia.com, with those who sign up before February 9th receiving early access.

News from Associations, Trade Shows, Awards and Festivals

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

Spielwarenmesse BrandNew warmly received by trade The organiser of Spielwarenmesse BrandNew has reported over 55k visitors and more than 400k website actions in the first five days of the online event. Spielwarenmesse BrandNew has been offering focused information about this year’s innovations and trends in the toy sector since 25th January, with the organisers reporting a positive response from the industry. 

HKTDC International Sourcing Show to be staged from March to July 2021 The International Sourcing Show will take place in both online and physical formats, integrating seven trade fairs originally scheduled for spring 2021. Organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, the HKTDC International Sourcing Show will bring together buyers and suppliers from around the world to facilitate business and communication...

2021 Toy Trust Media Auction raises £72,200 The BTHA has announced that generous bids in the 2021 The 2021 Media Auction saw airtime media slots generously donated by leading children’s media channels resulting in £90,000+ of media space to bid for. Lots were received from Sky Nickelodeon & Pop, Turner, ITVB, CITV, Channel Five, SuperAwesome, Red Media Sales and Diversity Media Sales.

(the above posted after January 29th)

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.

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.

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

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

Philip Harrison. Toy World is sad to report that industry stalwart Philip Harrison, who most recently ran Mondo UK, passed away on 24th January. Philip was perhaps best known for running Mondo in the UK for almost 30 years, a company which, when Philip launched it in 1992, was one of the first European toy businesses to successfully branch out into the UK. A toy man through and through, many also have fond memories of working with Philip prior to his Mondo days, at companies including Wembley Playcraft and Rainbow Toys. Up until recently, Philip was still attending trade shows, albeit in a wheelchair, which was testament to his love of the toy industry.

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.

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Toy Trade Monthly Issues...

Weekly Top Stories from Toy Trade Magazines Worldwide...

Adventure Media & Events (US)

aNb Media (US)

  1. LaRose Industries Acquires Arts, Crafts, Stationery Business from Mattel

  2. Barbie Named Top Global Toy Property of 2020 by NPD Group

  3. Kellytoy Gives Sneak Peek of New 2021 Squishmallows 

  4. Hasbro Expands WildBrain CPLG Partnership for eOne Brands

  5. 'Making It In The Toy Industry' Podcast Launches Season 2

  6. Stan Lee's Superhero Kindergarten Sneak Peek Announced

  7. Donkey Hodie to Premiere on PBS Kids May 3

  8. Firefly Secures License Deals for Paul Frank

  9. Harry Potter Franchise Recognized by NPD Toy Industry Awards

  10. Octonauts Grants Toy Rights to Moose Toys

ToyWorld (UK)

  1. Beware the slides of March…it’s the Friday Blog!

  2. NPD Group announces winners of 2020 Global and European Toy Industry Performance Awards

  3. Licensing industry saddened by sudden passing of Kelvyn Gardner

  4. Obituary: Philip Harrison

  5. Dutch warehouses benefit as UK firms look to establish logistics base in EU

  6. Character Group sees 25% uplift in Christmas trading

  7. Canal Toys launches innovative new Anti-Bacterial Slime

  8. Boohoo acquires Debenhams’ online business for £55m

  9. John Lewis Partnership confirms loss of 1500 head office jobs

  10. Moose to launch Octonauts line in partnership with Silvergate Media

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

  1.  WizKids Unveils the Next Wave of Pre-Painted 'D&D' Premium Figures

  2.  Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman Announce a New 'Classic Dragonlance' Series
  3.  TCG Market Analysis: Digging Into December Trends for Sales of Sealed Product
  4.  Tabletop Games Blow Away Old Record on Kickstarter in 2020
  5.  Rolling for Initiative -- Poop and the Rise of the Offensive Game
  6.  TCGplayer Top 25 Sealed TCG Products - December 2020
  7.  GameStop Stock Nearly Doubles on Tuesday
  8.  High Grade 'Magic: The Gathering' Alpha Black Lotus Goes for $511.1K
  9.  Tabletop Game Sales Boomed in Chains, Online in 2020

10.  Essen Game Fair: The Show Must Go On

TOYS Magazine (Germany) - posted once a month

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

Casual Game Revolution

News Flash: Ticket to Ride Europe 15th Anniversary, Portal Games 2021 Releases. Days of Wonder has announced a new special edition of Ticket to Ride Europe, Portal Games has announced the games they’re planning on publishing this year, and The Op and Asmodee have released two new editions of Spot It!

Video of the Week! 

Being an Inventor within a Corporate Des

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...

Being an Inventor Within a Corporate Design Department with moderator: Gary Swisher

(EVP Design & Development, Spin Master) and panelists: Brian Yu (Sr Manager of Games Design, Mattel),

Gina Melone (Chief Creative, Studio Big Rock), Ashley Mady (Head of Brand Development, Basic Fun!), Gabe Carlson (VP of Design, Global Dev & Operations, Mattel),

Andres Garza (Sr Design Manager, Spin Master). 

Note the link for Gay Swisher is to his POP Profile. You won't find Gary on any other social platforms, but he is on POP! (thank you, Gary!)

 

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