the Bloom Report

Toy & Game Industry's #1 News Summary Globally
Jan. 7 - 14th, 2022.   Link to Last Week's News

News posted daily, most recent at top of section. Previous week drops off 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 Weekly News Brief . . . 

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Happy Bloomin’ Friday!

 

New York and Nuremberg Toy Fairs are canceled. As much of a big disappointment as it is, the upshot is that we were lucky on the timing of the shutdown in 2020 - AFTER we completed our show season. We had our big meetings and built the compass that guided us through the first year of lockdowns, which in turn readied us for last year. We people of play know how to handle this now and I know we will – with more creative shifts in the way we run our businesses and clever solutions to lead us into the future.

 

Due to the cancelation of the Toy Fairs, the news that Spielwarenmesse (owner of Nuremberg Toy Fair) purchased the Internationale Spieltage SPIEL (the ‘Essen Game Fair’) got buried under the heavier headlines, but this alliance marks another major shift in the way forward. My mind explodes with the many possibilities. At least one thing is certain… we do live in interesting times.

 

Thank you for reading the Bloom Report and please do share with your colleagues! 

Mary

Nick Metzler Industry Commentary: Thinking about NFTs for your collectible line? Think again . . .

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The hype is relentless. Mere months after you first heard about NFTs, it seems like you’re already behind. Pepsi has released profile picture NFTs. Adidas has released ‘metaverse’ NFTs. The NBA has Top Shots (and those will be big). Brands are making millions shilling JPGs and now your boss wants an answer on NFTs. Are they here to stay? Are we prepared for this metaverse thing? (Metaverse is a decade away, don’t worry)

 

You’ve heard that NFTs are like ‘digital collectibles.’ “Great” you think, “we’ll just pair it with our physical collectible line, give ourselves a pat on the back and call it a day.” Kaboom, our brand is in the metaverse.

 

Not so fast.

 

For bias reference, I’m hyper-bullish on web3 and NFTs. And I’m preaching caution. That should be your first red flag.  READ MORE . . . 

tBR Person of the Week: Hidden Roles Podcast with Tanya Thompson, Hasbro's Toy and Game Scout!

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If you are inventor, this is the podcast for you....

 

David Yakos and Branson Faustini of Hidden Roles Podcast interview Tanya Thompson, Senior Director of Design Innovation and Inventor Relations at Hasbro.

 

Tanya gives incredible insights on how to pitch your toy or game and stand out in a sea of ideas.

About Hidden Roles:

We all grew up with toys and games. There's at least one out there that has brought a little joy to your life. But who makes them? How  do they materialize on the shelf?

Whether you're a child at heart or someone who works in the toy and games industry, come along with hosts David and Branson to discover what we can learn from the superstars behind some of your favorite toys and games.

tBR Columnis Nancy Zwiers: 1 Minute Brief Survey on Topics 

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Please take the time to do this survey. Nancy has contributed so much to our industry and the Bloom Report! Just one minute of your time!

 

The survey can be found here  

Thank You,

Mary

Financial & Legal News . . .

Microsoft to Swallow Activision Blizzard for $68.7 Billion.  The deal will bring Microsoft hundreds of millions of gamers, according to the Xbox owner. Microsoft wrote in the release that in addition to the 25 million subscribers in its cross-platform Game Pass service, which offers a rotating array of titles to both Xbox and PC gamers, the deal will give it access to “Activision Blizzard’s nearly 400 million monthly active players in 190...

Lego is being sued over a tiny plastic jacket in its Queer Eye set.  Lego started releasing branded sets decades ago, finding an enormous level of success with its Star Wars series, but in recent years it started branching out into branded sets that are explicitly aimed at adult collectors—like multiple Friends sets and the Seinfeld apartment. That presumably requires a more complex licensing deal than Disney/Lucasfilm...

Social robotics company Furhat buys Sphero spin-out company Misty Robotics. Misty has had a hell of a journey of it. After raising $11.5 million from Foundry and Venrock, then crowdfunding its personal robot, the company hit a series of challenges. Today, Swedish social robotics company Furhat Robotics is offering the beleaguered startup a gentle landing in what the Swedish company says is an all-cash deal.

Turkey’s Spyke raises $55M in a seed round to bring a social twist to casual mobile games. Istanbul has become a city to watch when it comes to casual gaming startups, boosted by the likes of Peak (acquired by Zynga for $1.8 billion) and Dream (valued at $1 billion in a funding round last year). Now, a new startup is announcing a major round of funding to make its own mark on the space. 

(the above posted after January 14th)

Nuremberg trade fair and marketing services provider Spielwarenmesse eG has become the new owner of the the Int'l Spieltage SPIEL, the biggest public fair for board games in the world. SPIEL will continue to be held at the Essen exhibition centre and organised from Bonn by Dominique Metzler, its director of many years’ standing, and her highly experienced team. Florian Hess, Member of the Executive Board of Spielwarenmesse eG, serves as an additional director.

Take-Two Interactive is acquiring all outstanding shares of San Francisco-based game developer Zynga in a strategic merger that will create new opportunities in the lucrative mobile gaming space for Take-Two’s PC and console video game titles, which include Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption and BioShock.

US consumer prices rise at fastest rate in nearly 40 years. Prices in the US are rising at their fastest rate in almost 40 years, with inflation up 7% year-on-year in December. Strong demand and scarce supply for key items such as cars are driving the increases, which are putting pressure on policymakers to act. The US central bank is expected to raise interest rates this year.

Apple takes down Wordle clones from App Store. Apple confirmed it has removed clones of the web browser based Wordle from its App Store. As reported by PocketGamer.biz, the platform holder's takedowns came after a developer shared on social media how well their unlicensed copy of the game was performing on the digital storefront. 

Chinese streaming platform Bilibili to ban violent games. Titles such as Grand Theft Auto V and The Witcher 3 will no longer be permitted. Bilibili has announced that it will no longer allow violent games to be broadcast on its online video platform, in an effort to align with China's ongoing crackdown on gaming. 

PUBG Mobile cheat makers must pay $10 million after losing lawsuit. Tencent Games and PUBG Mobile maker Krafton Games have announced victory in a multi-country lawsuit against hackers who created cheats targeting the mobile battle royale game. According to a combined press release (spotted by IGN), courts in the United States and Germany ruled in favor of PUBG Mobile's creators...

Target holiday shopper traffic growth topped Walmart, Best Buy. Shopper foot traffic grew at Target (TGT.N) during the recent holiday season compared with two years earlier, while visits to both Walmart and Best Buy stores fell overall, according to data provided exclusively to Reuters measuring shopper visits from Nov. 1 to Dec. 25. 

Supply chain issues will persist this year. Supply chain issues, pervasive throughout 2021, are expected to show little sign of easing this year with steep shipping costs expected to linger even in a post-pandemic world, says industry executives. While the bottlenecks at the factories have cleared as the companies prepare for the annual shutdown of some for Chinese New Year 

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Trends, Market Research Reports . . .

Top 8 biggest technology company deals in history worldwide . . . . . . . COMIC STORE PUBLISHER MARKET SHARES - Q4 2021 . . . . . . HOLIDAY RETAIL SALES SPIKED 14.1% IN 2021, NRF SAYS . . . . . . . “Baby Shark” Becomes First YouTube Video With 10 Billion Views, Which Is More Than The Human Population

(the above news was posted after the Bloom Report sent on January 14th)

Consumer media usage growth slowed in 2021 . . . . . . CGC TRADING CARDS HITS ONE MILLION CARDS GRADED In Less Than 18 Months . . . . . . . December 2021 NPD BookScan - Top 20 Author, Manga, Superhero Graphic Novels . . . . . . DECEMBER 2021 NPD BOOKSCAN - TOP 20 KIDS GRAPHIC NOVELS - Reigning Cats and Dogs . . . . . . DECEMBER 2021 NPD BOOKSCAN - TOP 20 ADULT GRAPHIC NOVELS . . . . . . Toys and Games market to grow by USD 50.73bn, report predicts

Financial & Brokerage News . . .

BBC expects $390m shortfall from licence fee deal

(the above news was posted after the Bloom Report sent on January 14th)

Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Egypt games markets worth $1.76bn in 2021 . . . . . . M&A activity reached $85bn value in 2021 . . . . . . 5 e-commerce trends for 2022 . . . . . . Sainsbury’s results reveal steep drop in Argos sales, including toys . . . . . . Golden Bear reported a growth in sales of 9.5% to £25.1 million in the 15-month period ending 31 March 2021 . . . . .  The Very Group has reported revenue up 11.5% on a two-year basis in the seven weeks to December 24th . . . . . . Smyths bolsters European business with €175m injection . . . . . . ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ Stands as Eighth-Highest Grossing Movie in History With $1.5 Billion Globally . . . . . . . CGC Trading Cards hits one million cards graded . . . . . . App Annie: Mobile games consumer spending reached $116bn in 2021

Future Financial Reporting . . .

Spin Master will report its fourth quarter and full year 2021 financial results after markets close on Mon, Feb 28, 2022. Max Rangel, Global President and Chief Executive Officer and Mark Segal, Chief Financial Officer, will host a conference call for the investment community on Tuesday, March 1, 2022 at 9:30 a.m. (ET). The call-in numbers for participants are (647) 792-1240 or (800) 437-2398. A live webcast of the call will be accessible via Spin Master's website at http://www.spinmaster.com/events.php

Hasbro  today announced that it will webcast its fourth quarter and full year 2021 earnings conference call on Mon, Feb 7, 2022, at 8:30 am ET, following the release of Hasbro's financial results. Certain financial and statistical information included in the webcast, such as information required by Regulation G, will be available at the time of the webcast on Hasbro’s Investor Relations website  at https://investor.hasbro.com.

Analysts expect Mattel, Inc. (NASDAQ:MAT) to report sales of $1.66 billion for the current quarter, according to Zacks Investment Research. Five analysts have made estimates for Mattel's earnings, with the highest sales estimate coming in at $1.68 billion and the lowest estimate coming in at $1.63 billion. Mattel posted sales of $1.63 billion during the same quarter last year, which would indicate a positive year-over-year growth rate of 1.8%. The company is expected to report its next earnings report on Tuesday, February 8th.

Keywords Studios forecasts €505m in revenue for 2021. Keywords Studios released its forecast for 2021 and the company estimates that it will generates €505 million ($570 million). This represents an increase of 35% year-over-year compared to 2020. The games service provider partially attributed this growth to reduction in costs due to COVID-19, relating to remote work, property costs, travel and business development. Looking ahead the group forecasts that the fiscal year of 2022 will see €569 million ($642 million) generated in revenue.

Toyjobs has been the dominant recruiting

Stories, Comments & Advice . . .

‘IT’S ME MOMMY’: TWO-YEAR-OLD ADORABLY CONNECTS WITH DISNEY ENCANTO’S MIRABEL CHARACTER. The joy on Manu Araújo Marques’ face spoke volumes when she saw Mirabel with glasses and curly hair—a genuine representation of her.  On Jan. 8, Araújo posted a video of her daughter watching Encanto for the first time on her daughter’s Instagram. The video opens up with scenes of the toddler...

Talking Shop, Sam Giltrow spoke to 15 indie retailers to find out how Christmas trading was for them, and how they see the year ahead.   Many of those we spoke to agreed that Christmas trading had started earlier, with fears of stock shortages and the threat of possible lockdowns looming, spurring shoppers into heading to the High Street as early as October. Given the disappointment of Christmas 2020...

Women In Film Study Finds Women-Led Companies Receive Less Funding Than Male Counterparts.  When Amy Baer left her job as president and CEO of CBS Films in 2011, she decided to go into business for herself. Though Baer had built an impressive résumé, including tenures at CAA & Sony Pictures Ent and overseeing and developing such hit films as “My Best Friend’s Wedding” and “Moneyball,” she struggled...

Viewpoint – key themes for the year ahead in advertising. Tristan Brooks, head of Client Services and managing partner at Havas Entertainment, looks at how companies can maximise their advertising strategies in 2022. “Be prepared for the unexpected” is Tristan’s first pointer, as he outlines how recent times have taught us the importance of having the flexibility to react and adjust plans at short notice. 

What is a Chief Innovation Officer? A Chief Innovation Officer, often abbreviated as CINO, is the executive responsible for managing innovation within an organization. At some organizations, CINOs are responsible for coming up with new ideas on their own. At others, they are responsible for assessing employees' ideas, selecting the best ones, and overseeing their implementation. 

Game Over? Why Sony and Nintendo Won’t Try to 1-Up Microsoft-Activision Deal. As tempting as it may be to make a merger play for top game makers EA or Epic, the cost can’t be justified — or in some cases, is simply unaffordable, experts told TheWrap. “There’s absolutely no question that Microsoft is simply in a different league than Sony, at least financially,” Clay Griffin, research analyst at MoffettNathanson...

Why Hollywood Is Private Equity’s New Money Machine.  The Wall Street logic with the studio buys is that the real estate will appreciate in value, while the non-stop demand in film and TV productions provide steady and stable cashflow. After dipping their toes in the water through the talent agencies, investment firms have been on a spending spree, snapping up stakes in production entities, or financing new vehicles like...

Gaming companies like Zynga, SuperGaming, Gamestacy, now.gg, and Gamezop are focusing on hiring more women to make sure their workforce reflects their consumer base as the number of female gamers has increased exponentially since the onset of the pandemic. They are hiring women in teams working on game design, quality assurance, game development, and product management.  

Behind the Movement to Create More Black Video Game Characters.  The lack of Black representation in games stems from a failure to understand the Black gaming audience, creators say. Thirteen-year-old Edward Leonard of Bloomfield, Conn., has a message for the video game industry: “I would like to see more Black leads.”

One month ago, Kickstarter announced that it would be moving to the blockchain. The news was met with confusionanger, and curiosity.

But what the news wasn’t met with was a clear explanation of why Kickstarter has taken an interest in blockchain technology. The announcement post itself didn’t go into much detail. In this post, we explain Kickstarter’s decision as clearly and impartially as we can...

(the above posted after January 14th)

Rick Derr, ToyWorld UK - Letter from America looks at January. “Looking ahead to the new year, of course we will still have to trade alongside the usual big box retailers, Amazon and perhaps the relaunch of a new Toys R US,” writes Rick. “However, I truly believe that there is room for all of us, and that the indie sector has an important role to play in the overall toy market, meeting the needs of consumers by making our stores better than ever.”

John Baulch, ToyWorld UK -  Keep the faith…it’s the Friday Blog! I must admit, it felt strange not starting off the year with a trip to Hong Kong. Like many people in the global toy community, I should have been there last week and this week. However, Hong Kong remains firmly locked down – indeed, the draconian restrictions have been ramped up again in recent weeks, so much so that some locals are even concerned...

Why warehouses are Asia's new hot property. They are not glamorous, there are no chandeliers or luxury furnishings, yet warehouses are hot property around the world. But why? In short, it is because businesses, especially retailers, are running out of space to put the many things we order online.

Archaeologists have unearthed a 4,000-year-old board game from the Bronze Age during a settlement excavation. The board game was discovered by a team from the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology at the University of Warsaw and the Ministry of Heritage and Tourism (MHT) of the Sultanate of Oman. 

Viral: Elmo screamed at a pet rock in a 2004 video. It’s still relatable. Elmo’s Unhinged Rant About a Pet Rock Resonates With the Exasperated

A 2004 clip from “Sesame Street” surfaced on social media this week, drawing thousands of responses from viewers expressing that they could relate to Elmo’s sense of frustration.

CES 2022: These suckling robotic plushies are freaking me the hell out. And yet... From the people that brought you Qoobo, a pillow with an animatronic tail, Amagami Ham Ham is here to... um... nibble on your finger. There is something uniquely, heart-meltingly soothing about the act of a baby or small animal nibbling on your finger.

Game Studios Are Turning Play Into Work. Video games are being split into titles geared toward fun and those that beguile us into productivity with points, rewards, and even NFTs. ON NEW YEAR'S day, Square Enix president Yosuke Matsuda published an open letter. In it, he professed his love for blockchain technology and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), joining Ubisoft, Peter Molyneux, and Stalker 2 developer GSC Game World...

japanese LEGO enthusiast mitsuru nikaido reimagines animals of land and sea as mechanical characters made out of the famous danish building blocks. the intricate works present a wide range of species, including a walrus, snail, shoebill, cicada, and even a triceratops. the sculptures are almost exclusively composed of gray and white blocks, forming semi-articulate, robot-like creatures. 

After the Beanie Baby bubble burst. What happens when the frenzy ends and the world doesn’t value your valuables? “It’s just so sad to see somebody spend so much money on something that isn’t real.” That’s what Karen Boeker, counterfeit Beanie Baby expert, says motivates her work: separating the valuable Beanie Babies from the pretenders.

Playtime: Is it time we took 'play' more seriously? Take a moment to imagine someone playing a game. It's usually a child, right? Many might consider it juvenile to be playing bingo, battleships or Bomberman as an adult. But from building bricks in playgrounds all the way through to rolling dice in nursing homes, playing is a significant part of the human experience. 

KFC China’s Dimoo ‘blind boxes’ under fire as toy promotion fuels frenzy of wastefulness, overspending. A Chinese consumer rights group is taking KFC to task for its recent meal promotion, arguing that the popular fast-food chain’s limited-edition toys resulted in excessive food waste and compulsive overspending by customers.

Pokémon Go: Police fired for chasing Snorlax instead of robbersTwo Los Angeles police officers were fired for chasing Pokémon rather than fleeing robbers, court documents show. The pair were parked nearby when a radio call came in for officers to respond to a shop robbery. But a review of their in-car camera footage showed they had been playing Pokémon Go and chose to pursue a nearby Snorlax...

Heritage puts Madden's office copy of 'John Madden Football (1990)' On Auction Block. Heritage Auctions has put a Wata 9.2 A+ Sealed Copy of John Madden Football (1990) on the auction block in its January 28-29 Video Games Signature Auction. This rare, high-grade copy of the first console Madden game, made by Electronic Arts for the Sega Genesis, came from the offices of John Madden, as noted by Wata Games. 

TikTok’s latest deal could mean its videos are coming to waiting room TVs near youTikTok has already conquered our phones and TVs at home, but its next target will ensure you really can’t escape from cute pet videos, impressive feats, and oddly satisfying clips. According to a report from TechCrunch, the popular short-form video platform has partnered with Atmosphere, a startup that drums up the content...

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Remembering the Toy Industry's Past . . . 

Mold-A-Rama Toys Marks 60 Years of Hot Plastic. When Automatic Retailers of America, Inc. introduced Mold-A-Rama to America in 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis had just fizzled. Let’s see YOU work that well when you’re 60! Since the 1960s, no additional Mold-A-Rama or Mold-A-Matic machines have been manufactured. Each is almost 60 years old, kept alive through patience, care, and mechanical cannibalism. 

Bolt N’ Play Construction Set from Ideal. Released in 1980, Ideal’s Bolt N’ Play Construction Set allowed kids ages 2 to 6 to assemble super-sized objects that they could ride or sit on to play. The 81-piece set included a combination of chunky pieces, assorted nuts and bolts, a collection of wheels and axels, and the requisite tools to tighten the pieces together. 

The top ten most valuable toys from the 80s, 90s and 00s. Do you have Transformer or My Little Pony stashed away in the loft? Or maybe you have kept your beloved Harry Potter book collection? If you are willing to part with these treasured possessions, they could earn you as much as £6,000 according to new research which has highlighted some of the items which hailed from the 80s, 90s or 00s and are now worth...

Worldwide Licensing News . . .

Zag and PMI join forces on Miraculous – Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir. PMI’s range featuring the Miraculous superheroes will include stampers, toppers, coin purses, key chains, plush backpacks and pencil cases, and a Matchify game. Set in the charming city of Paris, the multiple award-winning Miraculous has attracted a massive fan base across the globe with its beautifully animated, intelligent, multi-dimensional...

HBO Max as WarnerMedia Kids & Family announced that it has greenlit Degrassi, a brand-new version of  WildBrain’s award-winning youth franchise of the same name. The new teen and family series helmed by showrunners Lara Azzopardi (Backstage, The Bold Type, Mary Kills People) and Julia Cohen (Riverdale, A Million Little Things, The Royals) will include 10 hour-long episodes and is expected to launch in the US ...

Lego Duplo Marvel app developed with StoryToys.  A new app has been launched for pre-schoolers which combines the learning benefits of Lego Duplo with the fun and adventure of Marvel. Young Marvel fans can engage in activities with their favourite Super Heroes and help them to save the day, whether shooting webs with Spider-Man or rescuing a cat with Captain America. 

(the above posted after January 14th)

Spin Master heads to Gotham City for ‘The Batman’ product line. Chalk it up to the nefarious antics of the Penguin and The Riddler, but images and details regarding Spin Master‘s new collection of toys based on director Matt Reeves’ The Batman have been leaking steadily since last October. Now, in partnership with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, the entrance to the Batcave has finally — officially — been blown...

NY’s TIME Studios Kids and Family div. is teaming up with Corus-owned Nelvana to develop a new preschool show,  Leela’s Island. Planned as a 52 x 11-minute series, this 3D-animated comedy-adventure represents TIME Studios’ first preschool project since it branched out into kids entertainment in 2021. The division is currently in talks with broadcasters and has a fall 2023 premiere in mind...

PMI Wins the Gem with Brawl Stars Toy Line. PMI, a leading gaming-sector toy manufacturer and distributor, in an agreement with Supercell, makers of the highly popular Brawl Stars brand, and LINE FRIENDS, a global consumer products licensing partner for theBrawl Stars brand, will release a multi-territory, highly detailed Brawl Stars toy line that will include collectibles, action figures, plush, stampers and more.

WarnerMedia Global Brands and Experiences to launch most robust Batman film product collection in over a decadeIn celebration of the upcoming cinematic experience created by director Matt Reeves, WarnerMedia Global Brands and Experiences has revealed the largest collection of Batman film products in over a decade, with partners worldwide launching The Batman fashion, accessories, beauty products, toys ...

Rubies extends Fireman Sam license. Costume manufacturer Rubies has announced the continuation of its successful partnership with leading global toy company, Mattel, Inc., with the extension of the Fireman Sam license. The new deal signifies the strong relationship built over the years between Rubies and Mattel, as they look to expand their dress-up portfolio across EMEA. 

YouTooz Charlie Brown “Revealed” 1 ft figure launches for a limited run. After more than 70 years on air, Charlie Brown has captured the hearts of millions and has become a beloved character staple for every generation. Now you can capture all of your favorite characters and moments together with a limited edition 1 ft. Charlie Brown Revealed figure, the latest collaboration between Peanuts and Youtooz. 

Toikido, PMI ink deal for ‘Gang Beasts’ toys. Following the news last summer that Toikido inked a deal with indie game developer Boneloaf to serve as the master toy licensee for products inspired by Gang Beasts, another player has entered the game. PMI Ltd. is joining Toikido as a manufacturing partner for the Gang Beasts toy line with eyes on continuing the success of the companies’ partnership for Among Us-inspired toys last year.

BBC Studios, CCP Games unite for ‘Doctor Who’ game collab. Fans can challenge the “Doctor Who” Daleks in the first major cross-IP collaboration for EVE Online. CCP Games and BBC Studios have joined forces for EVE Online x Doctor Who, an original crossover event between the action-adventure series, “Doctor Who,” and the free-to-play MMO EVE Online. 

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People . . . 

Disney has appointed Joe Earley as president of streaming service Hulu as part of wider changes to the company’s direct-to-consumer business.  The Mouse House is creating a new international content and operations group under chairman Rebecca Campbell, who is being handed an expanded role.

Podcast maker Tinkercast is working to accelerate its growth with two new hires, bringing on Sesame Workshop alum Jodi Nussbaum  as chief operating officer and Ali Paksima as CFO. Reporting to co-founder and CEO Meredith Halpern-Ranzer, the pair joined the company earlier this month in these newly created roles.

Genius Brands Intl appointed Todd Steinman chief revenue & marketing officer for its subscription streaming service Kartoon Channel! Kidaverse. Reporting to president Jon Ollwerther, he will focus on driving growth. Steinman joins GBI from The Walt Disney Co, where he served as VP of media and entertainment solutions and insights. Before that, he co-founded digital media agency M80 and worked in several roles...

James Walker has been appointed as Chief Executive Officer of Character World. James combines 25 years’ experience in retail, licensing, brands and digital commerce and has held global senior management positions at Disney, Hasbro and McArthurGlen. Danny and Mark Schweiger will continue in their roles as Joint Managing Directors and will work alongside James...

HOG WILD TOYS NAMES STEVE MARKEY VICE PRESIDENT OF SALES AND MARKETING.  In his new role, Markey will be responsible for leading all marketing initiatives and directing the company’s North American sales teams.  About the position, Markey says “I’m incredibly excited to join the team at this important juncture.”

WeVeel LLC has named Jessica Kubinski as senior vice president of marketing and innovation. In her newly created role, Kubinski will focus on growing the company’s product offerings and global marketing strategy. She joins the maker of toys, crafts, and stationery products from Mekubi Design where she most recently served as executive consultant.

WarnerMedia has promoted Thomas Ciampa as its new country manager for Italy, Spain and Portugal. His purview includes regional theatrical distribution and production, content licensing, home ent., consumer products and advert. sales. Ciampa, who was previously SVP of theatrical distribution and local productions in those regions, takes over from president and country manager Barbara Salabè’s...

FableVision tunes into audio with new division.  Anne Richards will head up audiyo-yo, which can test new original ideas less expensively and expand clients' IPs into the world of podcasting. Audiyo-yo will create original podcasts and audio content, develop podcasts for FableVision’s existing brands, and set the company up as one of the few animation service studios also working in the audio space, says president...

Lighthouse Studios has appointed animation consultant, Michael Downey, to the newly created position of Talent Management Director for the Kilkenny-based Irish studio. The announcement was made by Lighthouse Studio’s Managing Director, Claire Finn.  “Since launching in 2017, Lighthouse has strived to build an inclusive, diverse and open culture that inspires and empowers creativity, fuelled...

Osmo From BYJU’s Names Peter Glovin SVP of Educational Sales.  Glovin, a seasoned senior edtech sales executive, will develop and implement a U.S. sales strategy for the brand’s educational sales division, Osmo Education, as well as expand its sales team, targeting the Pre-K to Grade 5 education market. Osmo Education celebrated its fifth anniversary last March.

Diane Lee has been appointed director of Buying for Toys R Us UK. Diane has over 30 years’ experience in merchandising and buying, having previously worked at Toys R Us UK, Hamleys, Early Learning Centre and Mothercare. In her new role, Diane will manage and direct buying and product strategy within Toys R Us and Babies R Us.

Tim Hall to step down as Ravensburger MD.  Speaking to Toy World, Tim explained that the decision has been made for personal reasons and that the company is in ‘excellent health’. He said: “I would like to announce that I have decided to step down from my role as managing director of Ravensburger during the second quarter of 2022 after more than 20 years in the role. 

WarnerMedia’s Barbara Salabè is leaving her role as president and country manager for Italy, Spain and Portugal at the end of the month. In her region, Salabè currently oversees marketing, local theatrical distribution and production, content sales, home entertainment and consumer products, as well as advertising sales for WarnerMedia’s Italian, Spanish and Portuguese channels.

Viacom executive Joann Acevedo has been promoted from VP to SVP of softlines licensing for N.A. at ViacomCBS Consumer Products. In her new role, Acevedo will oversee strategy, growth, existing partnerships and new business opportunities in all softlines categories, including apparel, accessories and home furnishings, for ViacomCBS properties such as PAW Patrol, Blue’s Clues & You!, SpongeBob...

Michael McGinnis won the "TAGIE Innovative Art and Design Visuals of the Year" for his Perplexus GO! Harry Potter Golden Snitch handheld labyrinth. The Perplexus GO! Harry Potter Golden Snitch is a handheld labyrinth game co-created by Michael McGinnis and toy inventors Brian Clemens and Dan Klitsner of the KID group in San Francisco. (Photo courtesy Michael McGinnis/Santa Rosa Junior College)

(the above posted after tBR publised January 14th)

Exploding Kittens has a new president via an internal promotion to the newly created position - Carly McGinnis, who has held a series of management roles at the company, most recently Head of Production, Sales, and Logistics, has been appointed as the new President of the company.  Elan Lee remains the company’s Chief Executive Officer. Exploding Kittens recently took a strategic investment from Asmodee Group.

The Jordan Middlebrook Show - Interview with Mary Couzin. I (Jordan) get to talk to the President and Founder of the Chicago Toy and Game Group dba People of Play (POP); Mary Couzin about the TAGIE Awards, People of Play and pineapple on pizza. (Disclaimer: no cats were hurt in this video.)

Mighty Jaxx International has announced the appointment of Alex Neal as its managing director (Europe) to expand its licensing and retail business across the UK and continental Europe. Mighty Jaxx is an award-winning future culture company that designs and manufactures tech-enabled licensed collectibles and lifestyle products. Based in London, Alex brings a wealth of operational experience to Mighty Jaxx. 

Funrise Intl has appointed two new general managers for Europe and expanded its international team to support its international growth strategy. Annie Sullivan has become general manager, UK, Northern Europe & MEA, and will now be responsible for overseeing all aspects of the UK/Ireland region as well as the EMEA territory. Sebastien Cardi stepped into the newly created role of general manager, Southern Europe 

Sesame Workshop has named Sal Perez the newest Vice President, Executive Producer of Sesame Street Production. Perez brings rich experience to the Executive Producer role, having spent a cumulative 14 years producing international and domestic content for the nonprofit organization behind the beloved series. 

Wordle creator overwhelmed by global success of hit puzzle.  Josh Wardle developed game to play with his partner – and now more than 2m others have joined in. Wordle, a deceptively simple online word puzzle, has had a meteoric rise since its launch last autumn, from 90 daily players in November to 300,000 at the beginning of January, to 2 million last weekend.

The Toy Association promoted Adrienne Appell to executive vice president of marketing communications, effective January 1. In her new role, Appell is responsible for the development, implementation, and oversight of the organization’s communications strategies, key messaging, and brand integrity programs.

Harold Chizick and Jennifer Chizick, the founders of Genius Brands Intl-owned marketing agency ChizComm, have left both companies.  In a release, Harold Chizick attributed their departure to organizational changes, as well as a lack of alignment over growth strategies.  Genius Brands will continue to own and operate the ChizComm brands, and the rest of the agency’s staff—including president Donna MacNeil...

MGA and Zapf part ways with Neil Bandtock. Marcel Deveny, VP Sales and Marketing EMEA, will cover the role in the interim period with the support of the UK management team. MGA Entertainment and Zapf Creation have today announced that Neil Bandtock has resigned to seek new opportunities, following 15 months as the managing director for UK & Ireland. 

Racially diverse dolls are in demand, but production is not easy. British parents and children want toys that represent their diverse identities. Even though the market demand is increasing, Black dollmakers are searching for solutions to production challenges and struggling to find investors and secure loans. ritish entrepreneur Jodi Vernon never intended to become a toy maker. 

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Companies, Brands . . .  

Netflix has committed US$1 million to support Sub-Saharan African film and TV students.  The Netflix Creative Equity Scholarship Fund, part of Netflix’s Creative Equity Fund, will cover tuition costs, accommodation, study materials and living expenses at Sub-Saharan TV and film school programs for the 2022/2023 academic year. The scholarship is open to student from eligible countries, including Angola, Botswana, the ...

Spotify announced an exclusive multi-year agreement featuring some of the most beloved voices within the kids’ entertainment space. Through this initiative, Spotify will partner with CoComelon, the #1 kids channel on YouTube which garners over 4.2 billion views per month, produced by Moonbug Entertainment for a new podcast, CoComelon Storytime. The show will be followed by a mix of other original...

Ida B. Wells Barbie Flying Off Store Shelves In Chicago, Delighting Family Members Who Helped Create Doll.  The doll aims to capture the moment when Wells, a famed journalist who worked for many years in Chicago, was editor in chief of her own newspaper and launched her anti-lynching work.

Even More Snacks Join the My Squishy Littles Family.  First, there were My Squishy Little Dumplings, and now, WowWee is expanding the line with even more snack-themed collectible companions. My Squishy Little Snack Packs extends the fun with 56 characters for kids to collect. Like My Squishy Little Dumplings, the characters include accessories to give them more personality.

LEGO Debuts The Globe Construction Set.  Geared toward travelers and geography enthusiasts alike, The Globe is a realistic, 2585-piece customizable spinning Earth that uses standard LEGO bricks for the globe itself as well as Technic elements for the spinning axis.

Melissa & Doug Ramps up Sustainability Efforts.  As one of the three pillars of its “Project Restore” initiative that the company revealed last year, becoming fully Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified was originally intended to take place by 2025. Now, Melissa & Doug says that it will surpass that goal by the end of this year.

Moose Toys Reveals First Look at New Octonauts Toy Line.  Beginning this August, a new line of action figures, vehicles, playsets, and plush featuring Captain Barnacles, Kwazii, Peso, and the rest of the Octocrew will surface at retail. Moose Toys created its new Octonauts line in partnership with Silvergate Media.

Exploding Kittens is blending the worlds of NFTs and 3D printing in a new partnership with 3D laser printing startup Glowforge. The companies are introducing limited-edition printable NFTs for Exploding Kittens’ latest card game Happy Salmon (pictured), which launched last November. The NFTs, 10 in total, can be used to print a collectible hardwood box that ties into the game for kids ages six and up. 

JAKKS Pacific announced its new additions to its line of Perfectly Cute baby dolls & accessories for Target this Spring. With record breaking sales over 2021, this line is sure to be in high demand in the 1st qtr. “Our Perfectly Cute line saw tremendous success at retail in fall and we are excited to bring add'l new items to Target this spring that offer up more ways for kids to roleplay what they see at home,” said Jeremy Sueper...

DeAPlaneta and Planeta Jr, both Planeta/De Agostini Group companies, are coming together under DeAPlaneta Entertainment. This merger of the two companies is due to a strategic reorganization that aims to consolidate their leadership in the entertainment segment, to articulate their business model more efficiently and to be more agile in order to respond to the new needs of a global, multi-channel market. 

Cepia LLC’s Dogs vs Squirls come out to play. Cepia LLC will be at London Toy Fair next week, showcasing the latest products from its brand portfolio of “in real life” (IRL) iconic character match-ups, which are core to the firm’s “Versus World” concept. Visitors can expect more from the world of Cats vs Pickles (CvP), wherein Cats are afraid of Pickles, but Pickles just

Just Play on the official launch of the UK business. The past few months have been busy for Just Play UK, locking down the final operational elements needed to begin trading and bringing its team, which was five strong in the summer, to eight, ready for launch. Katie Gritt has joined as head of marketing communications UK, while Charlotte Rogers has brought her knowledge of the Just Play business from Flair, ...

Kidicraft is kick starting 2022 with the addition of seven new sales agents taking the team to 11 in total. The company has welcomed Bob Duxbury, sales agent for the North East; Craig Kidd, business development manager; Steve Davies, sales agent for Wales; Trish Easter, sales agent for the South West, and Sarah Hobbs, sales agent for the Midlands. 

Magic Box opens UK office as growth plans progress. UK managing director, Nicola Bergot, has shared details of the team who join her in the new look UK company ahead of next week’s London Toy Fair. “As we make our transition from a purely collectibles company to a toy company, we have brought in an experienced and talented team from the toy Industry,” she commented.

Toymaster ensures a bright future for indies.  The buying group outlines what membership offers independent retailers, from access to its branded and themed window programme to its standout central invoicing system. An adaptable, passionate and dedicated bunch, Toymaster’s members have worked incredibly hard over the past couple of years to both retain existing customers and attract new ones, and....

Walmart appears to be venturing into the metaverse with plans to create its own cryptocurrency and collection of nonfungible tokens.

The big-box retailer filed several new trademarks late last month that indicate its intent to make and sell virtual goods, including electronics, home decorations, toys, sporting goods and personal care products. In a separate filing, the company said it would offer users a virtual currency...

Max Rangel, Spin Master’s CEO and Global President, on the key factors driving the company’s success. (ToyNews UK interview) How has the toy landscape developed into digital games? “At Spin Master, our toys are designed to foster creativity and imagination, with open ended play opportunities. Our digital games offering mirrors this ethos, with Toca Boca apps created as digital playgrounds for kids to explore...

Playmobil unveils iconic Mini Cooper.  The Playmobil Mini Cooper has been reproduced in its original design with authentic details including matching figures and accessories.  The Mini Cooper symbolizes for many the independence and spontaneity of the 1960s. Now the unique combination of classic British style in a small size, fun and nimble package appears in Playmobil format, with lovingly detailed design...

Jazwares senior VP, Europe, Jonny Taylor & MD of UK & Nordics, Holly Oldham give Toy World the lowdown on the company. Jazwares enjoyed a recordbreaking year in 2021, fuelled by its phenomenal portfolio of brands and with a host of new launches in the pipeline, another bumper year is on the cards for 2022. As the company looks forward to celebrating its 25th anniversary and the 10th yr of its UK office...

Vivid Goliath relaunches Sky Dancers in partnership with Lansay. Fuschia Fantasy, Coral Cutie and Purple-Licious are the Sky Dancers making their return in July 2022. A product with a huge legacy of success selling 22mn units between 1995 and 1997, the new improved version is set to make a mark with an entire new audience – and with some hankering after memories past. The update includes modernized outfits...

Asmosdee's digital board game, Pandemic, has been quietly withdrawn from sale "for a multitude of reasons that cannot disclose.  Without formal announcement, Pandemic was delisted from Steam on 6th Jan, and it looks as though players can't pick it up on mobile devices now, either. All signs of the game have been scrubbed from the company's website, too.

MATTEL, MILESTONE LAUNCH ‘HOT WHEELS UNLEASHED’ DESIGN BATTLE. The Hot Wheels Unleashed Design Battle runs from now until  Feb. 14. Participants will design a “livery” — the paint scheme and sticker design used in motorsports — for the Hot Wheels Rodger Dodger die-cast model using the in-game Livery Editor. The winning design will then be transformed into a real, 1:64-scale Hot Wheels die-cast car that will...

CAMP CONTINUES NATIONAL RETAIL EXPANSION WITH GREATER BOSTON AREA STORE. Opening Feb. 3, the store will feature a “Canteen” that will function as the retail section of the location, displaying toys, gifts, books, and accessories for families to shop. In typical CAMP fashion, a Magic Door will be hidden somewhere within the Canteen that, upon opening, will act as a portal to the themed experience. 

(the above news was posted after the Bloom Report sent on January 14th)

Bildo – a passion for creation. Toy World spoke to Georgios Fotopoulos, commercial director, and Savvas Mouratidis, CEO, at Greek toy company, Bildo. Founded in 1989, Bildo has grown from a domestic manufacturer and supplier of building blocks to a globally distributed and highly respected maker of quality licensed toys spanning blocks, roleplay, dough and cosmetics.

The Insights Family, the kids and family market intelligence specialist, has launched its service into four new international markets. As of 1 January 2022, the company started interviewing kids (3-18s) and parents in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Argentina and South Africa. This will see the business expand its operations to provide its clients with real-time data 

David Mordecai, CEO of the company formally known as Tobar/H. Grossman, on the One For Fun rebrand.  Nearly four years after acquiring H. Grossman, Tobar unveiled a major rebrand, complete with a name change – One For Fun – and new logo, that has brought all its best-selling brands under one roof.

Genius Brands Intl has announced its subscription-based Kartoon Channel! Kidaverse, launching April 15, 2022, at $3.99/month. Kartoon Channel! Kidaverse will be anchored by technology from the acquisition of Ameba TV, a rapidly growing children’s video streaming service that brings a first-in-class technology platform.

Douglas Introduces New Friends Chive the Bee and Bert the Ladybug. Chive the Bee is 7” long and ready to take flight. Looking like a very smiley bumble bee, this little one is as cute as can bee! His fluffy furry body is the traditional black and yellow stripe. A pair of see-through blue wings sit upon his back. He is really bee-utiful with his sparkling black eyes and attention-seeking antennas.

Rubies drives industry change with 100% sustainable costumes  Following the successful launch of its adaptive range, Rubies is set to announce another game-changing product range with the addition of sustainable costumes. Acknowledging the need for industry changes to tackle the ongoing climate crisis, Rubies has made it its mission to lead the way with eco-friendly and sustainable products and packaging. 

The Lego Group expands Chinese factory to support long-term growth. The Lego Group is expanding its factory located in Jiaxing, China creating additional capacity to meet long-term growth in China and Asia. In recent yrs, the Lego Group has invested in building its business in China to bring the benefits of Lego play to more children and last month it celebrated the opening of its 300th Lego store in Haining ...

Ida B. Wells’ Legacy Immortalized with New Barbie Doll. Through its “Inspiring Women” series, a line that commemorate female change-makers, the brand has introduced young children to role models across a variety of fields such as medicine, music and social activism. Ida B. Wells was known for being a poignant journalist and activist whose work sculpted the most progressive movements of the 19th and 20thcenturies. 

Jada Toys releases collectible “The Batman” Die-cast Batmobile with Figure. In celebration of the upcoming feature starring the Caped Crusader, manufacturer of premium collectibles Jada Toys has released a 1:18 Die-cast Batmobile, a replica that pays homage to the vehicle seen in the highly anticipated The Batman film. 

Bachmann Europe to distribute Günther outdoor toys. Bachmann Europe has announced its appointment as a UK & Ireland distributor for the Günther range of outdoor toys. For over 65 years, Günther has been developing and producing ‘Anything that Flies!’ including classic children’s kites, dynamic stunt kites, model aircraft, gliders and a variety of airborne toys. 

Inclusive children’s brand Philly & Friends sells out new black doll collection in pre-order. Philly & Friends’ pre-order campaign of their new handmade doll collection featuring black fairy and ballerina dolls has been so successful it has sold out. Since then, the company has secured partnerships with top children’s retailers, including Scandiborn. 

Games Workshop previews five new 'Warhammer 40,000 Combat Patrol' sets. Games Workshop previewed five new Warhammer 40,000 Combat Patrol sets, all coming in 2022. The five new Combat Patrol sets coming this year are for the following factions: T'au Empire, Grey Knights, Thousand Sons, Genestealer Cults, and Adeptus Custodes.

Portal Games will co-publish 'Gutenberg' English edition. Portal Games will co-publish Gutenberg, a new board game by Granna, which will release into retail in March 2022. In Gutenberg, players take on the role of the printing pioneer trying to build up their wealth and fame. To accomplish this task, they will need to increase their production capacity and gain the support of patrons. 

'Fluxx' and 'Loonacy' ascend Olympus. Looney Labs will release Olympus Fluxx and Olympus Loonacy, mythology-themed versions of their classic card games, into retail on May 5, 2022. The classic card game goes even more classic with Olympus Fluxx, which features Greek and Roman mythology themes. 

Join the Marble Madness with Quadrilla Super Spirals. Welcome to the Marble Cinematic Universe — first stop? Super Spirals!  Designed for kids ages 4 and up, Hape’s Quadrilla Super Spirals is the ultimate indoor marble run. This 101-piece wooden set includes everything kids could possibly need or want to create an epic battle between marbles.

Asmodee will release 'Eriantys' into U.S.retail. Asmodee will release Eriantys, a new fantasy board game by Cranio Creations, which will hit U.S. retail on February 25, 2022. In Eriantys, players enter a world of floating magical islands where various fantasy creatures are trying to enroll in the magic schools. 

Babies ‘R’ Us stores to enter new market. Babies “R” Us is entering the largest country in South America. WHP Global, parent company of Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us, has signed an exclusive long-term license agreement with Ragabesh & Co. to bring Babies "R" Us to Brazil for the first time. The agreement covers physical retail, with plans to open approximately 20 freestanding Babies "R" Us stores in the market. 

Unbox Bubble-Blowing Animal Collectibles with Bubiloons. Have you ever seen a tiger or a panda blowing a balloon? Kids can collect a whole menagerie of balloon-blowing animals with Bubiloons, IMC Toys’ new line of animal collectibles that live in a world full of colorful bubbles and candy. Designed for kids ages 5 and up, Bubiloons are full of unboxing surprises, starting with which animal character is inside. 

'Pokemon TCG' reigns over 2021; 'Magic' standard sealed sales slip again. TCGplayer unveiled their December sales data for sealed TCG products and its price changes. This new data wraps up 2021 as well as reiterates some of the continuing trends happening in the TCG market into the new year. 

Unexpected Games reveals 'Voices In My Head'. Unexpected Games revealed Voices in My Head, a new courtroom trial board game, for release in Q1 2022. In Voices In My Head, designed by former Fantasy Flight Games VP of Research and Design Corey Konieczka, one player takes on the role of a prosecutor and the other players take on the role of voices in Guy's head.

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

Wordle copycat creator apologizes for ripping off the popular free word game. Developer Zach Shakked — the creator of one of several controversial copycat versions of Josh Wardle’s popular free word-guessing game — has responded to Apple removing his app from the App Store after an internet backlash that followed his boasting about the money-making potential of his clone. “I realize I crossed a line. 

Armor Games adopts four-day work week permanently. Armor Games CEO John Cooney announced yesterday that the indie game publisher and portal has switched to a four-day work week going forward. Last year the company conducted a month-long trial run of four-day work weeks, after which the eight surveyed employees unanimously voted to extend the trial by 2 more months, running it through the end of the year.

Strauss Zelnick: Zynga's contrasting culture is a benefit, not a challenge, for Take-Two. The announcement may have come as a surprise, but Take-Two's interest in Zynga -- on paper at least -- made a lot of sense. Take-Two has seen huge success through microtransactions, DLC and what they call 'recurring consumer spending' over the last generation, driven by its NBA games and Grand Theft Auto Online. 

Inside the process of re-releasing the first Angry Birds. The Angry Birds series has trundled on for the last few years, but if you log into the App Store or Google Play Store at this moment, you will find that you can't purchase the original game that was first released in 2012 as the early games in the series were pulled last year due to support issues and outdated tech. 

Twitter: more than 2.4b gaming-related Tweets were shared in 2021. Twitter Gaming took a look back at gaming-related chatter on the social network in 2021. Twitter said there were more than 2.4 billion gaming-related tweets in 2021, a 14% increase from 2020. The fourth quarter of 2021 was also the biggest quarter ever for gaming conversation on the platform. 

iRacing buys Monster Games, teases racing games for the ‘broader market’ like consoles. One of the paid subscription services that experienced sudden growth during the pandemic has been iRacing. While real-life racing leagues were on hiatus, they used the detailed and realistic sim racing service as an esports broadcasting platform, and enough new people started playing to grow its base of racers on PC ...

Report: GameStop to create NFT marketplace and bet on crypto. GameStop wants to create a non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace and establish new cryptocurrency partnerships, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal. The retailer has reportedly hired 20 people to run the unit, and hopes to build a virtual hub where people can buy, sell, and trade NFTs and other digital goods including game cosmetics. 

Activision Blizzard

Microsoft to Swallow Activision Blizzard for $68.7 Billion.  The deal will bring Microsoft hundreds of millions of gamers, according to the Xbox owner. Microsoft wrote in the release that in addition to the 25 million subscribers in its cross-platform Game Pass service, which offers a rotating array of titles to both Xbox and PC gamers, the deal will give it access to “Activision Blizzard’s nearly 400 million monthly active players in 190...

(the above posted after January 14th)

LEGO delays Overwatch 2 set over Activision Blizzard harassment scandal. LEGO has delayed its upcoming Overwatch 2 Titan set in light of the company's gender discrimination scandal, as reported by dedicated LEGO site The Brick Fan. "We are currently reviewing our partnership with Activision Blizzard, given concerns about the progress being made to address continuing allegations regarding workplace culture...

Report: Activision Blizzard's defensiveness drove employees to quit. The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing's lawsuit against Activision Blizzard showed the world about a darker side of the famed video game company. But for many former employees (particularly women), the company's flaws were apparent years before they were revealed to the public--and Activision Blizzard's response ...

Toy Safety & Counterfeit Related Articles . . .

UL warns of regulations and compliance for smart and connected toys. The smart and connected toys market is expected to reach $69,932m by 2026, according to Transparency Market Research. Expert testing house, UL, has set out three common regulatory and compliance requirements for manufacturers of smart and connected toys. Its report also shows the sector recorded a compound annual growth rate...

Children allergic to their plush toys? Try these tips. Did Santa bring your kids a pile of presents? Are any of them soft and fuzzy? If your little ones have allergies, certain gifts can be adorable and allergenic, causing runny noses and watery eyes. Think fuzzy bathrobes and blankets, stuffed animals and real kittens and puppies. Dust mites, which love plush fabrics, and pet dander are common triggers for allergy symptoms. 

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Highlighted Press Releases . . . 

IELLO, board game publisher based in Heillecourt, France, has entrusted Flat River Group LLC (FRG) as its excl. dist. for the U.S. & Canada as of January 1, 2022.  “We are thrilled to collaborate with Flat River Group,” said Cédric Barbé, managing director of IELLO. “We’ve known Matt Stahlin, president of Flat River Group, for a long time. FRG's high ambitions for our flagship King of Tokyo and Bunny Kingdom lines by Richard... 

SIX THOUGHTFUL VALENTINE’S DAY GIFTS WITH ONE SPECIAL FEATURE: TIME WITH YOU!  Pull Up A Chair With A Loved One To Spin A Cupcake-Themed Game, Hang A Paper Chain, Ponder A Floral Puzzle Or Open A Picture Book About Love.  You don’t have to wait until Valentine’s Day to show the special people in your life how much you love them. But February 14th puts the spotlight on who really matters. An offering of chocolates or flowers is nice but giving your time lets them know they’re valued. Lifestyle brand and toy manufacturer eeBoo has six sweet gifts to giftwrap for everyone on your list. Once opened, your present (and presence) turns into a mid-February playdate!

(the above posted after January 14th)

SmartLab Toys Inspires Budding Scientists, Launches the Most Advanced Human Body Discovery Toy with Ultimate Squishy Human Body

Raising the bar for all other human body kits, this comprehensive kit features a 16-inch-tall human anatomy model with realistic removable squishy organs, articulated joints and an electronic sound module powered by SmartScan Technology. 

News from Associations, Trade Shows, Awards, Events & Festivals . . . 

Spring Fair, which takes place from 6th – 9th February 2022 at NEC Birmingham, has announced a line-up of speakers for its Inspiring Retail Stage programme.   The schedule of live content will cover a dedicated theme relating to this season’s Empowering Change manifesto on each day of the show, kicking off with ‘The trends that will shape consumer behaviour in 2022’ on Sunday 6th February. Highlights include...

Licensing International launches global mentoring programme  In honour of Natl Mentoring Month, the leading trade organisation for the global licensing industry, Licensing Intl, and its sponsor Octane5, have announced the licensing industry’s first ever global mentoring programme, aimed at bringing the expertise of global industry veterans to young professionals. With an initial focus on regions including the US, UK, France...

Business platform Spielwarenmesse Digital launches. For the originally planned period of the Spielwarenmesse trade fair, from 2 to 6 February, new platform Spielwarenmesse Digital is offering a comprehensive live programme for all participants. Alongside a wide range of communication tools, it also offers the trade a compact overview of trends and innovations. 

Bid now on the Toy Trust Media Auction!  As the second largest fundraising activity for the Toy Trust each year, the annual Media Auction is a classic win-win scenario for all. Companies can bag themselves a media bargain whilst all funds raised go to help the Toy Trust’s chosen children’s charities throughout the year.

70 South Korean nationals who attended CES in Las Vegas last week, including 20 executives from Samsung Electronics, tested positive for COVID-19 and were delayed returning home, according to Korean news reports.  The Korea Herald reported the Samsung employees were returned to South Korea on chartered flights Tuesday and Wednesday.  Local health authorities said they could not positively link infections to the CES show, which attracted an estimated 45,000 people, well below the 170,000 attendees the show normally draws.

Following the news that Toy Fair New York is canceled again this year, The Toy Foundation‘s 2022 TOTY Awards are going virtual. Often considered to be the Oscars of the toy industry, the TOTY Awards program recognizes the top toys and games on the market and is a vital fundraiser for The Toy Foundation. 

(the above posted after January 14th)

Women in Toys Cancels In-person 2022 Wonder Women Awards and pivoting the long-awaited return of its Wonder Women Awards to a special Wonder Women at Home event. The winners, which were originally slated to be honored at an in-person gala on Sunday, Feb. 20, will now be announced in a press release on March 1, with the Wonder Women at Home experience to follow at a later date

BTHA has released a statement reassuring the trade that London Toy Fair 2022 will go ahead safely. The statement says: “Following the unwelcome and sad news yesterday that the Nuremberg Toy Fair has decided to cancel its 2022 in-person show – with the same decision taken earlier this week from the NY Toy Fair – the BTHA is aware of understandable concerns and rumours about the Toy Fair still taking place . . . 

NY Toy Fair is canceled for the second year in a row. The Toy Association’s annual industry gathering was set to welcome toymakers, inventors, retail buyers, and others to the newly expanded Javits Center in Manhattan from Feb. 19-22, 2022. Now, those plans have changed as concerns regarding the rapid spread of the COVID-19 omicron variant sparked fear among potential attendees, leading some buyers and exhibitors...

Spielwarenmesse 2022 called off. The show’s organiser has this evening sent an email to exhibitors advising that the event has been cancelled despite strong support. Spielwarenmesse has been officially cancelled following weeks of speculation as to the fate of this year’s event.

In an email sent to exhibitors, the show’s organiser, Spielwarenmesse eG, said: “We are addressing you today with very disappointing news. 

Nuremberg trade fair and marketing services provider Spielwarenmesse eG has become the new owner of the the Int'l Spieltage SPIEL, the biggest public fair for board games in the world. SPIEL will continue to be held at the Essen exhibition centre and organised from Bonn by Dominique Metzler, its director of many years’ standing, and her highly experienced team. 

Playmobil withdraws from Q1 2022 trade shows  The Horst Brandstätter Group has made the decision for its PLAYMOBIL business unit not to be present on site at any trade fair in Q1 2022. This concerns the trade fairs in London and Poland. A spokesperson said: “Our primary goal is to ensure that all employees, their families and also all partners and visitors 

BTHA Golden Teddy presented to Tomy’s Alan Thompson.  A true veteran of the toy trade, Alan is retiring after 50 yrs in the industry. He joined Tomy as a sales agent in 1983 following a long career in the toy industry, including roles at both Mattel and Ravensburger. Kingsley Matthews, UK sales director at Tomy, commented: “Alan Thompson is a true man of character and integrity – he is dependable, honest and credible...

Brands & Retail UK Pitch Smarter Conference postponed to 24 February Ryan Beaird, Event Director of the first Brands & Retail UK conference (sponsored by Fabacus), has confirmed there is a revised date for the event. The conference will now take place on 24 February 2022 (9am till 6pm) at the British Library (venue unchanged). 

CATAN Studio announced the locations of their CATAN U.S. National and World Championships for 2022.  The 2022 U.S. National Championship is scheduled to return to its normal location in Columbus, OH at Origins Game Fair on June 8-12, 2022. However, they have not confirmed the schedule of events as of this time.

PLMA Announces a New Online Private Label Trade Show: PLMA Global, March 28-31. PLMA Global – a newly imagined, online private label trade show from the Private Label Manufacturers Association – combines the exhibitors and buyers from the organization’s industry-defining, in-person Chicago and Amsterdam events.

Toy Association Highlights for 2021 and 2022 Outlook – by Steve Pasierb. The Toy Association pushed back on threats to your companies through advocacy in major cities, state capitols, throughout Washington, DC, and in dozens of capitols around the world. Our blend of pro-business, pro-safety, pro-child activism stopped misguided new regulations or legislation that did not add to product safety, while...

The BTHA abd TRA have announced that this year’s Toy Industry Awards winners will this year be revealed online on 25th January,  the first day of Toy Fair’s highly anticipated return to Olympia. This year’s announcement will be made via the trade press and BTHA/TRA membership news channels and will feature a unique video presentation of this year’s winners. 

First two 2022 fan event cancellations due to Covid. 'Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG' Pasadena Event and Fan Expo Portland Canceled. The new year starts off much in the same fashion as 2021 began with fan event organizers scrambling to accommodate the latest surge of COVID-19. The Yu-Gi-Oh! Championship Series Pasadena event and Fan Expo Portland have both been canceled by their respective organizers due to COVID-19...

Spring Fair going ahead in February. Spring Fair has confirmed it will take place from 6–9 February 2022 in Halls 1–8 at NEC Birmingham. Registration is now live and visitors can visit www.springfair.com for the latest news, information on over 1000 exhibitors, up to date Safe & Secure guidelines and more.

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RIP - Rest in Play - Remembering Those that have Passed . . . If you know of a colleague's passing, please send us information so we may share with our colleagues. Archives can be found HERE.

Russell Lees - Ubisoft veteran writer and narrative designer Russell Lees has died. News of his passing came from Ubisoft Montreal's narrative director Darby McDevitt. "We lost a dear friend and brilliant colleague this week," he wrote on Twitter. "Writer and narrative designer Russell Lees was a part of the Assassin's Creed and Far Cry families for over a decade. All who worked with him will attest to his patience, his generosity, his passion, and his bright spirit. "He will be missed, and remembered always as the most ideal artist in this busy, hectic industry -- devoted, collaborative, patient, and kind beyond measure." Lees had spent the last 13 years at Ubisoft Montreal, with a particular focus on the Assassin's Creed franchise. He contributed to AC Valhalla's Sciropscire and Oxenefordscire arcs, to AC Origins with the Wrath of the Druids DLC, to AC Syndicate with the Dreadful Crimes missions, to AC Unity with the Paris stories and Murder Mysteries, and wrote the Tyranny of King Washington DLC for Assassin's Creed 3, among others.  He also worked on Far Cry New Dawn and Watch Dogs 2, and was a prolific and successful playwright.

Lees had started in the games industry in 1995 as creative director on The Dark Eye at developer Inscape. He also worked at the likes of Zoesis Studios, Pandemic Studios, and Sensory Sweep before joining Ubisoft in 2009. Eidos Montreal's principal writer Ethan Petty, who previously collaborated with Lees on Watch Dogs 2, also paid tribute to him on Twitter. "He was one of the kindest people I've ever worked with and had an incredible sense of humor," he said. "His work brought thrills and laughs to millions of players. He will be greatly missed."

Gordon (Gordie) D. Otis -  Steve Springer of Max Margin Merchandising shares the following about Gordie with us:    Gordon was a toy buyer with "Twin Fair, a chain in Buffalo: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twin_Fair  He then worked for a Buffalo based catalog showroom chain called Century Housewares: http://blog.buffalostories.com/tag/brand-names/  I first met Gordon in Western NY (1979) when I became a toy buyer with a competitor, Naum's Catalog Showrooms (corporate office in Rochester NY).  This was a golden era for the catalog showroom class of trade.  In Western NY alone we had four:  Century Housewares, Brand Names, Present Company, and Naum Brothers.  Nationally others in this class of trade included Best Products, Service Merchandise and Ardans.  The entire industry started to disappear by end of the 80's, especially as whse clubs started to emerge. Gordon's next job was with Hills department Stores in Canton MA.  We were worked together as toy buyers in the crazy year of 1984.  Every category had a "hot" item.  Gordon bought Trivial Pursuit from Selchow & Righter.  I bought Cabbage Patch dolls from Coleco.  Masters of The Universe, GI Joe and Care Bears were also "Hot" and in short supply.  One funny story was in an attempt to get delivery from Selchow & Righter, Gordon went to their Long Island corporate office and stayed in the lobby for three days until they shipped his order.    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selchow_and_Righter  Gordon then became an independent New England rep with a NYC agency, Ray Larson Associates.  After RL he started his own agency under the name "Playtime Ventures".  He called on New England accounts until about five years ago (2017).  Anyone who had the pleasure of working with Gordon will tell you he was "a great guy" and a joy to work with.  Many remember how he could light up a room with his unique laugh, which I describe as a chuckle.

Margaret Goldie. Toy World is sad to report the passing of popular independent retailer Margaret Goldie. When she retired back in 2007, Margaret summed up her career by saying: “You can’t wish to be in a better trade than the toy trade.” Margaret opened her first shop in Holbrooks, Coventry in 1972 and opened further shops in the Westmead Centre, Allesley Park, and the first floor of Intershop, in Bull Yard. Margaret subsequently opened a shop in the Lower Precinct in 1982, closing her first two shops at the same time. The Lower Precinct and Intershop branches closed in 1989 and 2000, respectively, and she moved to City Arcade.  On her retirement, Margaret told the Coventry Telegraph: “My most treasured toy is a six-foot Rupert Bear given to me to celebrate 25 years in the toy trade.” She also said that said her job was very rewarding for the happiness it has brought Coventry children over the years: “It’s lovely, you just imagine Christmas Day when they’re opening their toys.” Well-known Midlands agent John Nicholas told Toy World: “Margaret was an excellent buyer of toys, backing her judgement with some large orders. Her window displays won her many prizes, including an Austin Mini for her Care Bears window. In 2002, she was sponsored by John Hales of Golden Bear to be awarded a Golden Teddy for her contribution to the toy industry, which she was thrilled to bits with.” John added: “During the 1990s, she used to invite reps and agents along with a few retailer friends to her flat near Earls Court during the Toy Fair. You were always proud to be asked. A super lady who loved life, may she rest in peace.”

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Weekly Top Stories from Toy and Game Trade Magazines Worldwide - Added Friday Morning Chicago Time, so You May Need to Check Back for Complete Lists . . . 

 

Toy Trade Monthly Issues​​

Adventure Media & Events (US)

aNb Media (US) 

ToyWorld (UK)

  1. There’s no business like showbusiness …it’s the Friday Blog!

  2. The bumper January issue of Toy World is out now

  3. MGA and Zapf part ways with Neil Bandtock

  4. Toy Fair New York 2022 cancelled

  5. Toy Industry Awards 2021 move online this year

  6. Sainsbury’s results reveal steep drop in Argos sales, including toys

  7. Golden Bear announces strong sales and profit growth

  8. PMI to launch Brawl Stars toy line this summer

  9. Smyths bolsters European business with 175m injection

  10. Wow! Stuff to unveil ‘biggest blockbusters to date’ at London Toy Fair

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

Wizards of the Coast Releases More Deets on 'Magic Game Day'
Wizards of the Coast Announces New 'Magic: The Gathering' 'Challenger Decks'
Rolling for Initiative -- I Was One for Three in 2021
'Pokemon TCG' Reigns Over 2021; 'Magic' Standard Sealed Sales Slip Again
Exploding Kittens Has New President
CMON Will Release Two 'A Song of Ice and Fire' Starter Sets into Retail
Wizards of the Coast Announces 'Magic: The Gathering' 'Kamigawa' AR Experience
Nuremberg Toy Fair Organizer Acquires Essen Game Fair
Electrify Games of 'Pokemon TCG' with 'Pikachu V Box'
The Toy Association Cancels Toy Fair New York

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

The Bugg Report (Australia)

 

Casual Game Revolution

News Flash: Star Wars Love Letter, Fish N'Chips Pre-Order
Z-Man Games has announced a Star Wars themed Love Letter game, Asmodee has a new dexterity game for pre-order, and Asmodee is also set to be acquired.

 

Video of the Week . . . 

As referenced in the highlights above, the online universe was captivated by the feud between Elmo and his friend Zoe’s pet rock, Rocco, which prompted a reply from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. GMA reports on the situation! 

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