the Bloom Report

Worldwide Toy Industry's #1 News Summary

Below is Jan. 29-Feb. 5, 2021. Click Here for Last Week

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

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

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

Happy Friday!

 

Check out this week’s POP panel (end of this page): Innovation for Profit - SCORE

with moderator: Gene Murtha (Mattel, Gund, SCORE Association ) and panelists:

Jason Moss (Owner, House of Atlas), Pat Duncan (Founder, Great American Puzzle Factory, SCORE Association), Brian Filko (Owner, Gear Fusion),

Aimee Carroll (Community Development & Outreach, Edison Nation).

Exciting News! Tim Kilpin is now our advice columnist for tBR. Who better? He's achieved a hat trick of presidencies with Mattel, Activision Blizzard and now PlayMonster. Watch for the press release with more information! 

Super Exciting News! POP Wiki Week is coming! CLICK HERE to BE THERE! 

Thank you for reading the Bloom Report!

Mary

Dear Tim, 16% growth? $3.5 BILLION in additional sales? What?! tBR Columnist Tim Kilpin Comments

By now, you’ve likely seen NPD’s recent headlines about the U.S. toy industry posting unprecedented growth this past year — this most extraordinary and challenging of all years.

 

Have some of you been watching your shipping and POS ratchet ever upward this past year, hunkered down at your home desk/kitchen table/rec room couch and on your 14th Zoom call of the day — and felt a strange mix of elation, guilt, and dread? Does any of this make any sense? How are we supposed to feel about record sales in the face of a global pandemic, severe economic dislocation, and — just because the year wasn’t already stressful enough — enough domestic political upheaval to make folks in Serbia tsk-tsk over their Rakijas? (Go ahead, look it up, I had to.)

 

There are obvious answers, of course, and they will make sense to all of us. Read More...

tBR Company of the Week: Blue Orange Games: Hot Games for a Cool Planet 

Blue Orange Games is a celebrated publisher of family centered tabletop games since 2000, earning a reputation for creating high quality, award-winning products. We want our games to be enjoyed by families for years to come, so every Blue Orange Game must be easy to learn, fun to play, and engaging for a wide range of ages. Over the last 20 years, Blue Orange Games has sold millions of award winning games all over the globe and our products can be found in over 60 countries. We are proud to help families and friends create timeless memories around great games as we continue to innovate and expand our range.

 

Our great success in tabletop games and our special partnerships with retailers around the country inspired us to extend our reach into other game lines. A few years ago we put a twist on traditional outdoor games with Djubi; the ultimate game of catch that allows players to send the ball sailing over 100 feet! This year we are adding Clydo, a patented light up foam football Read More...

tBR Person of the Week! Cybele McKenzie – Creativity flows through her veins

Cybele is a 10-year-old board game designer and writer. Creativity flows through her veins. I remember when she was a toddler and we were living in Paris, we would read more than a dozen books to her every night before she fell asleep. She just loved books since she was little. It was part of her bedtime routine.

 

As she grew, it was easy to see her creativity at work through various art forms. She was only five years old when she drew the cutest picture of her baby brother. She loved drawing pictures of Angry Birds too, especially the piggies. She even wrote a book in 1st grade, titled: “Why you should buy angry birds for your child.” Her 1st grade teacher encouraged the class to write a book series and by the end of 1st grade she wrote 16 books, the most in her class! It came as no surprise that she received the class certificate, “Most likely to be found reading a good book.” Read More...

 

tBR Documentary of the Week: Bob Fuhrer talks about Miyamoto and the Machine

On a business trip to Japan In 2007 I accidentally stumbled upon a logic and math puzzle created by a renowned educator, Tetsuya Miyamoto. Sudoku was the hottest craze, and this puzzle bore some similarities both in its appearance and some of the solving techniques. This led me to vet it with Will Shortz, the NY Times puzzle editor and NPR Puzzlemaster who quickly affirmed it was something unusual and special.

 

It took over a year before the NY Times chose to include it as the first daily feature added to the newspaper since the iconic New York Times Crossword was introduced in 1942. KenKen is now a daily habit for millions of people around the globe, with a dedicated website, mobile apps, nearly a hundred books, hundreds of newspapers and international tournaments. It’s also a valuable educational resource used by more than 30,000 teachers.  Read More...

Financial & Legal News . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(the above posted after February 5th)

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....

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Trends, Market Research Reports . . .

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

(the above posted after February 6)

Why video games may be the future of streaming . . . . .  Barbie Named Top Global Toy Property of 2020 by the NPD Group

Financial & Brokerage News . . .

Zynga posts record revenues, record net losses . . . . . Research analysts issue forecasts for Hasbro, Inc.'s Q1 2021 earnings . . . . . Mattel Reports Fourth Quarter and Full-Year 2020 Financial Results . . . . . Hasbro Reports Fourth Quarter and Full-Year 2020 Financial Results . . . . . WildBrain reports Q2 2021 results . . . . Digital makes up 85% of Take-Two's $860.9 million in Q3 net revenue . . . . .  Assassin's Creed, Watch Dogs, and Just Dance push Ubisoft to new record highs . . . . . Bandai Namco reports rising profits amid restructure

(the above posted after February 6)

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

Future Financial Reporting . . .

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.

“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...

Toyjobs has been the dominant recruiting

Stories & Comments . . .

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

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

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

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

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

(the above posted after February 5th sending of the Bloom Report)

Make way for family-generated content. From taking on trending challenges, to creating funny videos, families are increasingly creating content together during the pandemic. When surveyed, 44% of kids say their favorite part about being home more than usual is spending time with their families. Bite- size, family-friendly content not only helps bring parents and kids together to explore a common interest, it also...

John Baulch, ToyWorld (UK) - Virtual Insanity…it’s the Friday Blog!. For one year only (hopefully), Toy Fair Season has been replaced by Virtual Toy Fair Season, which is still in full swing. Collectively, the toy industry has come a long way from the days of “you’re on mute” and “sorry, I can’t actually see that on my screen.” Presentations no longer constitute ‘death by power point’ either; they’re fun, engaging and immersive, full of...

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?

The finest luxury board games that double as home decor. Board games and high design make for a winning combination. Not content with excelling in the interior and fashion industries, designers such as Brunello Cucinelli, Berluti and Jonathan Adler have turned their hands to entertainment, crafting beautiful board games to enjoy and display.

‘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.

Remembering the Toy Industry's Past . . .

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

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

(the above posted after February 6th)

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...

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Worldwide Licensing News . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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...

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People . . . 

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

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

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

(the above was posted after January 5th)

WarnerMedia's roadmap for world domination. Tom Ascheim talks about how Cartoon Network is getting into content for preschoolers, families and girls for the first time, and what else the future holds. Tom Ascheim took on his role as president of global kids, young adults and classics for WarnerMedia less than a year ago. And in this time, the former Freeform president and Nickelodeon EVP has mad

Power Kid Podcast” host Phil Albritton of Power Kid Design welcomes Genius of Play Committee Chair Ashley Mady, head of brand development at Basic Fun! Mady is integral to promoting and developing brands such as Care Bears, K’nex, Pound Puppies, Lite-Brite, Tonka, and Cutetitos.

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. 

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Companies . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(the above posted after February 5th)

Mattel Developing Movie Based On Uno Card Game With Lil Yachty Eyeing Lead Role. The toymaker has a live-action heist comedy in development, penned by Marcy Kelly and set in the underground hip hop world of Atlanta with Grammy-nominated rapper Lil Yachty eyeing a starring role. Mattel will produce with Lil Yachty. In addition, Quality Control’s Kevin “Coach K” Lee, Pierre “P” Thomas and Brian Sher will...

Kangaru expands UK distribution with Two in 1 Direct. Kangaru, which produces scented stationery, toys and activities, will be adding further licensed brands to its offering in the coming months. Two In 1 Direct’s Paul Fogarty will manage Kangaru’s UK business, adding his vast experience in toys and the children’s entertainment business within the UK in multiple sectors, as well as his ability to customise products...

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...

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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. 

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 . . . 

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

(the above posted after January 5th)

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) . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(the above posted after February 5th)

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.

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.

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

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

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

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.

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Toy Trade Monthly Issues...

Weekly Top Stories from Toy Trade Magazines Worldwide...

Adventure Media & Events (US)

aNb Media (US)

  1. WowWee Introduces My Squishy Little Dumplings

  2. Bill Burke Joins Licensing International 

  3. Fisher-Price to Release Sooo Sleepy Album

  4. Sonic Prime New Series to Premiere on Netflix

  5. Donkey Hodie Earns Funding Grant from CBP 

  6. Sunny Days Entertainment Launches Patch-A-Roos

  7. Teddy Fresh Unveils Collaboration with Care Bears

  8. WBCP Names Samantha Bushy SVP of North America, Head of E-Commerce

  9. Brilliant PR Promotes Clark Nesselrodt to EVP

  10. Planeta Junior Extends IMPS Partnership for The Smurfs

ToyWorld (UK)

  1. Virtual Insanity…it’s the Friday Blog!

  2. Booking for London Toy Fair 2022 to open in March

  3. The February issue of Toy World is now available to read online

  4. Toy World’s Special Green Issue is available to read online

  5. Exclusive: Toikido – doing things differently

  6. Exclusive: Two in 1 Direct to bring Cats vs. Pickles to UK

  7. Exclusive: DKB Toys – giving the customer control

  8. Exclusive: Talking Shop with BargainMax

  9. Exclusive: Talking Shop with Wicked Uncle

  10. Exclusive: Talking Shop with Maqio

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

  1.  Populate a Dungeon with an Army of Kobolds
  2.  Rolling for Initiative -- The Lessons of 'Kaldheim' Prerelease Events
  3.  Toys 'R' Us Closes Chain
  4.  Preview: 'Warlord: Saga of the Storm 20th Anniversary' Set (Exclusive 'Kopis of the Meek' Card Image Spoiled!)
  5.  ICv2 Launches Pop-Up 'Support Your Local Comic, Game Store' T-Shirt Collection
  6.  Games Workshop Reveals Two New Space Marine Miniatures Sets for 'Warhammer 40,000'
  7.  Stonemaier Games Unveils 'Red Rising'
  8.  Game Publishers Plan Exclusive Editions for Large Retailers
  9.  'Iron Kingdoms' Invades '5th Edition'
10.  Build-up Castles, Load the Catapults, and Knock Them Down in 'Catapult Feud'

TOYS Magazine (Germany) - posted once a month

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

Casual Game Revolution

News Flash: Smash Up Marvel Released, Aggretsuko Announced
The Op and AEG have released Smash Up: Marvel, Renegade Game Studios has announced a new card game, and Gamelyn Games has released a promo pack for four of their Tiny Epic games.

Video of the Week! 

Innovation for Profit CHITAG POP Int'l I

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...

Innovation for Profit - SCORE

Moderator: Gene Murtha (Mattel, Gund, SCORE Association ) with Panelists:

Jason Moss (Owner, House of Atlas), Pat Duncan (Founder, Great American Puzzle Factory, SCORE Association), Brian Filko (Owner, Gear Fusion),

Aimee Carroll (Community Development & Outreach, Edison Nation).

 

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