the Bloom Report

Toy Industry's #1 News Summary Worldwide

Below is July 3rd - July 10, 2020, Click Here for Last Week

Articles posted each day with newest articles at top of each news section. 

The previous week drops off each Friday when we send you highlights via email. 

Welcome to your Friday briefing of the week's news!

This week we welcome Nación Juguetes reporting on the weekly news highlights from Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Chile and Spain in our Top Stories from Trade Magazines Worldwide feature section each week. Muchas Gracias, Armando Carreteros, Editor de Nación Juguetes, for being one of our contributors and partners! 

In case you missed the last few issues...

After 22 years, the Bloom Report  has a new look and steward. It is our honor to carry on Philip Bloom’s legacy and continue this essential news source for the industry.  If you would like to reach Phil, his new email is: philip.bloom100@verizon.net  We'd appreciate your feedback and welcome  advertisements so we can continue this service for free. Phil summarized this endeavor well when he said, "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!" 

Onward & Upward, 

 

Mary Couzin

Company of Week: Schleich® USA Unveils Winner of its Power of Imagination Photo Contest From More than 5,000 Global Entries

Schleich® USA (pronounced Sh-like), the world’s leading manufacturer of animal figurines, today reveals the winner of its Power of Imagination Photo Contest. Fans were asked to submit original photos depicting stories inspired by imaginative playtime with Schleich figurines and playsets. After receiving over 5,000 stunning photo entries globally, 1500+ of which came from the US, over 1,000 votes went to Rosa, age 15 from Herriman Utah, who depicted a series of Schleich Horse Club characters looking out over a desert expanse along with their pet dog. 

 

“We were so excited to take this next step in our Power of Imagination campaign and ask kids to help remind grownups just how spectacular and vivid a child’s imagination can be,” said Annie Laurie Zomermaand, managing director, Schleich USA.  “Seeing the imaginations of so many kids come to life using Schleich figurines was inspiring and even humbling.  It’s amazing to see the joy and pride children have when bringing their ideas to life.”  (Read More...)

Person of the Week: Leila Nosrati: Pitching & the Pandemic: Think Like a Buyer, Pitch Like a Pro - COVID-19 Edition

“Just because you don’t have to wear pants when you pitch doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.”

 

If someone gave you this advice last year, when you were preparing to pitch your new products, you might have wondered about their well-being. Well, you also might have wondered the same if they told you that this year you’d be figuring out how to pitch “virtually,” all while home-schooling your offspring and trying to survive a global pandemic. 

Yet, here we are. So now we need few updates to “Think Like a Buyer, Pitch Like a Pro.”

 

Let’s not bury the lede -- your "Journalism 101" assignment remains the same, meaning your pitch should get to the point quickly and cover the story completely: 

  • Headline & Subtitle - the name of your product (and a tagline or slogan, if you have one)

  • Who - is it for? Age range? If it’s a game, how many players and what environment (party, family, etc)? 

  • What - is the unique hook or selling point of your product? What’s new about it? 

  • Where - do you see it being merchandised? What category? Next to what other product in that category?

  • When - should it be played? And how long will it keep people occupied?

  • Why - should it exist? Does it satisfy an unmet need? Is it capitalizing on a trend? Why would people want it? Function? Material? Play pattern? Is it some zany new thing that has never been seen before? Or is it an improvement, added value, or does it offer a new perspective upon what already exists (which is ok, but be prepared to explain its significance). What are the “comps”? Or the inspiration?

  • How - how is it played? (Best if you can show people actually playing with the product/ prototype vs just describing it). How much is it designed to cost (each party, that is wholesale, retail, etc.)?  (Read More...)

 

Financial & Legal News . . . 

Walmart leads $1.2 billion investment in India’s Flipkart. Walmart is increasing its majority-stake in Flipkart by leading a new $1.2 billion financing round in the Indian e-commerce giant. The fresh equity round led by Walmart, which acquired majority stake in Flipkart for $16 billion two years ago, values Flipkart at $24.9 billion post-money.

Tilting Point acquires Plamee Studios and FTX Games assets. Tilting Point has acquired Plamee Studios along with the assets and games of publisher FTX Games from gambling technology company Playtech. The deal means Tilting Point will become the publisher of licensed titles like Narcos: Cartel Wars, The Walking Dead: Free Casino Slots, and Criminal Minds: The Mobile Game.

Sony Acquires $250M Minority Stake in Epic Games. Sony has made a $250 million investment in Epic Games, creator of “Fortnite.” The investment will allow the two to collaborate more closely for technology, entertainment and games. In the past, the two worked together to unveil Epic’s Unreal Engine 5, with a tech demo showcasing the new engine premiering on the PlayStation 5. 

Walmart could be the ‘next tech stock’ with Amazon competitor set to launch, says Morgan StanleyAmazon is instituting quantity limits for product shipments from third-party sellers that use its U.S. warehouses, the company announced. All product categories will have quantity restrictions in order to ensure sellers have enough space to store their goods.

Animoca Brands buys social gaming platform Gamee for $6.53 million. Mobile studio Animoca Brands has acquired social casual gaming platform Gamee for $6.53 million in shares.  Animoca believes Gamee's platform, which hosts 80 games and has over 13 million registered users, will boost its capacity to offer browser games independently on third-party platforms, including chat apps like Facebook Messenger and WeChat.

Walmart's new challenge to Amazon Prime has deep, hidden roots. The imminent introduction of Walmart Inc.’s new subscription program took investors by surprise, sending the retailer’s shares up the most in almost four months. While details of the program, dubbed Walmart+, are still hazy, the service is rooted in three experiments the world’s biggest retailer has conducted in recent years …

Scholar's Choice closing all but three of its stores in restructuring. LONDON, ONTARIO. -- Retailer Scholar's Choice is closing all but three of its stores as part of a restructuring of its operations to focus on its e-commerce and catalogue business. The seller of educational toys, teaching materials and early childhood furniture and toys says it has filed for creditor protection

ASMODEE ACQUIRES LIBELLUD Publisher of 'Dixit,' 'Mysterium'  Asmodee Group has acquired family game publisher Libellud, the companies announced today.  Libellud is the publisher of Spiel Des Jahres winner Dixit (see "’Dixit’ Wins 2010 Spiel Des Jahres"), Mysterium, Seasons, Obscurio and others, 24 games and 15 extensions in all.  Asmodee has been distributing Libellud games in many territories...

(the above posted after July 10th)

MONEY RAISED FOR GAMES ON KICKSTARTER UP DRAMATICALLY IN FIRST HALF 2020. Dollars raised for tabletop game projects were up 46% to $117.6 million in the first half of 2020, vs. $80.5 million in the first half of 2019.  That’s a new first half record; the previous record was set last year. The category outperformed Kickstarter as a whole, which also grew in the first half but not as fast.

The UK retailer, Boots is to cut 4,000 jobs, its parent company Walgreen Boots Alliance has announced, having been badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown measures. The company said it will cut around seven per cent of its UK workforce. According to Walgreens, sales at Boots have plunged during the lockdown. “The adverse impact of Covid-19 on sales in the quarter was approximately $700 million to $750 million, with the majority of the impact related to the Retail Pharmacy International division,” th

Microsoft Expresses Interest in Video Game Division of Warner Bros. The Information reported, citing "two people familiar with the situation", that Microsoft has expressed interest" in acquiring Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, also known as WB Games.  These games include Mortal Kombat, the Batman: Arkham, and Harry Potter series.

End of an era: 'America’s oldest specialty toy store' to close. For over 68 years, shoppers in Concord and surrounding towns have had the joy of buying toys and presents at The Toy Shop of Concord, known as America’s oldest specialty toy store. But due to the financial effects of the coronavirus pandemic, among other reasons, playtime is over for owner David Hesel, who plans on closing his popular shop on July 31.

Setting Priority Countries For Toy Export SalesOne of the most fascinating features of the toy business is the vast array of countries to sell toys to around the world. For those who are interested in travel and experiencing different cultures, the toy business offers much (at least in normal times, maybe the travel opportunities are restricted right now but nevertheless export sales opportunities abound).

John Lewis (UK) announces eight permanent store closures. The department store chain has decided on which locations it deems unviable, placing 1,300 jobs at risk. John Lewis has officially announced the eight stores it intends to permanently close. Dame Sharon White, the department store chain’s chairman, had warned that not all John Lewis stores would reopen once the high-street lockdown was over...

After being in Business for nearly 30 years Toys, Toys, Toys has filed for Bankruptcy. The Liquidation Sale will begin immediately from five of Toys, Toys, Toys stores located in Vaughan Mills, Square One Shopping Centre, Erin Mills Town Centre, Scarborough Town Centre, & Oshawa Centre.  This liquidation sale includes a huge selection of popular and collectible toys including action figures, dolls, board games, baby...

Australian toy sales that shot up during lockdown. Australia - Growth in toy sales during the coronavirus lockdown eclipsed growth last Christmas. Dollar sales soared by 80 per cent when stage two restrictions were introduced in March compared to the same time the previous year.

TikTok risks losing its biggest market. India is TikTok's top market for new downloads, and parent-company ByteDance had forecast $1 billion in advertising revenue there this year. Now India's ban on Chinese apps has put TikTok's fate in jeopardy in one of the fastest-growing markets in the world.

newyork-toy-600px-x-400px.jpg

 

Program Highlights

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Call us today at 800-392-6958 (ext. 318)

for a free consultation and quotation for your business needs.

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or Bob Witkin bobwitkin@york-jersey.com

Visit the York-Jersey Underwriters website at www.toy-insurance.com

Trends, Market Research Reports . . . 

Seven countries with big (and small) population problems . . . Fertility rate: 'Jaw-dropping' global crash in children being born . . . Rising video games and console prices push up UK inflation as lockdown eases . . . Clothing and games push up UK shop prices . . .  The Insights People hires ten, expands into new markets and continues global takeover

(the above posted after July 10th)

Exclusive: What to expect from the second half of 2020 in UK according to NPD . . . Making Old New-ish . . . Will Walmart’s best shoppers ditch Amazon Prime for Walmart+? . . . Retro Revival: Microskaters on why kids are turning to rollerblading to fight lockdown boredom

Financial & Brokerage News . . . 

2 Wonderfully Cheap TSX Stocks to Buy and Hold (Spin Master) . . . Mattel – Consensus Indicates Potential 3.8% Upside . . . Analysts Are Neutral on These Consumer Goods Stocks: Hasbro (HAS), Under Armour (UA) . . . Better Buy: Amazon vs. Hasbro

(the above posted after July 10th)

Sony Acquires Minority Stake in Epic for $250 Million . . . Mattel – Consensus Indicates Potential 6.4% Upside . . . Why Hasbro Stock Lost 29% in the First Half of 2020 . . . Amazon could climb another 20% ahead of earnings, chart analyst says as stock hits new highs . . . 3 Top Video Game Stocks to Buy in July

Financial Reporting . . . 

Diamond companies received $5-$10m+ in PPP loans. A loan for Diamond Comic Distributors in the range of $5-$10 million was approved on April 10; while a loan for Diamond Select Toys & Collectibles in the range of $150,000-$350,000 was approved on May 1.  A loan to sister company Rosebud Entertainmentfor $350,000 - $1 million, was approved on April 30.

Pokémon GO surpasses $3.6 Billion in lifetime revenue, and is still on the rise despite global pandemic. As Pokémon GO celebrates its fourth anniversary, it has also surpassed $3.6 Billion in lifetime revenue, since its launch on July 6, 2016. 2019 was the game’s best year to date, generating $905 million globally.

Animoca Brands raises $4.1 million ahead of proposed initial public offering. Mobile developer Animoca Brands has raised $4.1 million in funding to support a proposed initial public offering. Animoca has spent the past few years expanding its business with a number of weighty acquisitions, the most recent of which saw it nab Power Rangers: Legacy Wars developer nWay, and digital collectibles marketplace Quidd.

Future Financial Reporting... 

Zynga to Discuss Second Quarter 2020 Financial Results on August 5, 2020 at approximately 1:05 p.m. PT   At this time, Zynga will post management’s Q2 2020 Quarterly Earnings Letter, which includes Zynga’s second quarter 2020 results and outlook for the future …

Spin Master Corp. to Report Second Quarter 2020 Financial Results on August 5, 2020. Ronnen Harary, Co-Chief Executive Officer and Mark Segal, Chief Financial Officer, will host a conference call for the investment community on Thursday, August 6, 2020 at 9:30 a.m.

Mattel, Inc. today announced that it plans to release its second quarter 2020 financial results on Thursday, July 23, 2020, at approximately 4:05 p.m. Eastern time. Following this, Mattel will host a conference call and webcast at 5:00 p.m. Eastern time.

Hasbro, Inc. announced that it will webcast its second quarter 2020 earnings conference call on Monday, July 27, 2020 at 8:30 a.m. ET, following the release of Hasbro's financial results. The webcast and the accompanying presentation slides will be available to investors and the media on Hasbro's Investor Relations home page at https://investor.hasbro.com

Toyjobs has been the dominant recruiting

Stories & Comments . . . 

There's a new initiative to create a game industry code of ethics. A group of game industry professionals and academics launched a new collaborative initiative aimed at collectively codifying and improving ethics in games.This new Ethical Games initiative was unveiled during a live panel discussion on game ethics at the Games for Change Virtual Festival.

Can EA’s Positive Play Charter tackle toxicity in games? Toxic behaviour has become the industry’s catch-all term for undesirable interactions online, covering a huge range of offensive behaviour from simple cheating, to aggressive and abusive behaviour, to sexual harassment and racism. And it’s fallen to games platforms and publishers to fight what is often portrayed as a huge and ever-growing tide of abuses.

Librarians turned Google Forms into the unlikely platform for virtual escape roomsWith no physical location to work with, librarian Sydney Krawiec started to devise an alternative: a digital escape room created in Google Forms. In the space of four hours, she made a Harry Potter themed game that sent participants through a series of challenges based on locations from the book series, and they had to find their way out by solving puzzles …

214m gamers in the US alone – ESA releases 2020 Essential FactsThe US trade body the ESA has released a bevy of stats to show the breadth of the [video] games industry in 2020. With the standout number being that 214m of the 328m population play games. A figure that equates to at least one gamer in three-quarters of all households.

What Will Prime Day 2020 Look Like With Amazon’s Inventory Restrictions? This week Amazon announced inventory restrictions whereby third party sellers will generally be restricted to stocking approximately three months worth of inventory at Amazon fulfillment centers. The restrictions have incredibly awkward timing: the most-likely (and still officially unconfirmed) date for Prime Day is sometime in October …

TeeTurtle Donates More Than $1.8 Million in Products to the Toy Bank. TeeTurtle isn’t playing when it comes to doing good. It donated more than $1.8 million in new toys, games, and apparel to The Toy Foundation’s Toy Bank. TeeTurtle’s donation includes strategy games such as Exiled Legends, Daring Contest: Family Edition, SCRAM, and Runes & Regulations …

Toy Product Range Diversification – Risk Insurance For Tough Times. There are plenty of toy and game companies, as well as toy & game retailers out there having a really tough time right now. There are also some companies having a really good time in the circumstances. The question is what separates these companies out? How can some companies do well while some are really suffering?

Sealed Copy of ‘Super Mario Bros.’ Sells for $114,000 at Auction. A sealed copy of the Super Mario Bros. became the highest-selling video game ever at auction Friday with a winning bid of $114,000.The 1985 cartridge, still in its original plastic sealing, sold to an anonymous bidder at Heritage Auctions’ event.

Could your old toys be worth a fortune? The Nineties must-haves that are worth thousands. Those who grew up in the nineties will be stunned to discover how much the toys of their childhood are now worth, according to experts. Big name brands including Super Soaker, Beanie Babies and Furbies have seen their value skyrocket in the decades since they first hit shelves, with some worth thousands of pounds.

The Marvel Legends X-Men 20th anniversary collection is here. 20 years ago today, the first X-Men film hit theaters, kicking off a fresh decade for superhero dominance that had been missing since the Batman films of the mid-1990s. Even though the X-Men came courtesy of 20th Century Fox, the success of the franchise no doubt helped plant some seeds for the eventual growth of Marvel Studios.

BLACK, MINORITY GAME MAKERS CALL FOR DIVERSITY IN THE GAME AISLE. A group of more than 40 Black and minority-owned game companies in alliance with the Game Manufacturers Association (GAMA) and the Black Game Makers Association has penned an open letter to big-box retailers requesting real action to accompany recent industry commitments to diversity and inclusion.

This board game-loving couple believes appealing to Black audiences is a winning strategy. “It would be very hard to overstate how white the market is. The tabletop game industry is just starting to see the possibility of this untapped market—Black people.” In January, the Omaha, NE, couple started a YouTube show that has more than 6,000 subscribers. They said board game companies are contacting them every day now.

Thrift Treasure: Jenga Max Game. Our kids have been into games since they were both very young. We would always take them to the annual Chicago Toy and Game Fair where they would get to see new products ready to be put under a Christmas tree. They got to meet a lot of industry insiders, publishers and inventors. One year they even got the chance to have breakfast with Leslie Scott, the inventor of Jenga.

How Netflix Learned to Stop Worrying and Love YouTube. When Netflix released a 27-minute video of Dave Chappelle earlier this month, the most surprising part of his performance was not what he said but where he said it. Chappelle’s meditation on racism, police brutality and celebrity was available for free on YouTube. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has long portrayed YouTube as his company’s biggest competitor. I

BBC, Kate Middleton launch early-learning initiative. The pubcaster revealed Tiny Happy People to help preschoolers develop their literacy, and has also picked up Aussie series First Day for older kids. The BBC has launched a five-year initiative to support families and caregivers in developing the language and communication skills of preschoolers.

Two unions in the UK and the US have formed to protect the rights of Instagram influencers — particularly people of colour — as brands increasingly rely on them for content. A group of British fashion Instagrammers have formed the first union for influencers in response to a reckoning of discriminatory practices that include wage disparity — an issue recently raised by anonymous Instagram account...

(the above posts are after July 10th)

John Baulch: Cancel culture …it’s the Friday Blog! Long-term ‘friend’ of this column Mike Ashley, owner of Frasers Group and Sports Direct, has been making a name for himself again this week. Sadly, the name he has been making is unprintable in a Blog associated with toys (although it rhymes with Nat). This time, he has written to all his landlords...

Embrace the digital loiterers. Even before COVID-19 forced kids indoors, today's youth were hanging with friends in social games. Dubit's David Kleeman looks at the new virtual corner. “Down on the corner” has become “up on the server” as kids unable to meet up in person practice “digital loitering.” Of course, while COVID-19 has put a spotlight on this practice, it’s not new.

The Economist: Citius, Altius, Fortnite. Why the next Olympics should include Fortnite. The Tokyo Olympics, which were supposed to start next month, have been postponed until 2021, thanks to covid-19. That delay offers a chance for reflection. The International Olympic Committee wants to make the games more popular with young people …

The $70 video game is inevitable. How the next generation of video game consoles will impact your wallet. LastLast week, 2K Sports announced that it would raise the price of NBA 2K21 by $10 — from $59.99 to $69.99 — for next-generation video game consoles. To see all the bells and whistles on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, consumers will need to pay a little more than they did the year before. 

David Kleeman: Roblox Dubit Coffee Break with Andy Douthwaite. During the pandemic, unable to be together in person, kids have been looking for places to hang out with their friends, and often those places are online. One platform in particular has really taken off: Roblox.

As a company that has built virtual worlds for kids for over 20 years, Dubit was curious to understand the platform’s appeal and strengths,...

Scrabble Tournaments Move Toward Banning Racial and Ethnic Slurs. The fight against systemic racism has taken aim at Scrabble. An agreement is at hand to bar offensive terms, though some players endorse using them for points. Josephine Flowers became a ranked, competitive Scrabble player more than a dozen years ago, and to commemorate the moment, she inscribed her custom-built game board...

India-China standoff may be one jolt too many for ailing Bengaluru toy industry. The toy industry in Bengaluru is gasping for breath and is set to suffer irreparable damage unless there is a dramatic turnaround in fortunes soon. With 70 percent of the much sought after modern toys imported from China, shops are surviving on whatever stocks have been imported already. There appears to be no light at the end of the tunnel.

‘Celebrity Escape Room’ challenges guests inside intricate hotel maze. That elevator sits front and center in the “hotel lobby” set that “Friends” stars Lisa Kudrow and Courtney Cox along with actor Ben Stiller and “Parks and Recreation” star Adam Scott entered at the start of the show, which aired May 21, 2020, as the lead in for NBC’s series of programming to raise money for children’s charity Comic Relief. 

Remembering the toy industry's past . . . 

Road Devils from Remco (1972). Released in 1972, Remco’s Road Devils were a line of futuristic-looking stunt-driving race cars equipped with high-speed “gyro-motors”. Each Road Devil was propelled by a hand-held Power Injector containing a Launching Ramp and a Cranking Gear used to lock the car in place.

Johnny Astro from Topper Toys (1967). The Space Race and surrounding media hype of the 1960s created a vast market for toys that attempted to capture the magic of interstellar flight. Topper Toys released Johnny Astro in 1967, a battery-operated toy for future astronauts to launch and land a series of space vehicles without wires or direct connections.

(the above posted after july 10th)

Celebrate 60 Years of Etch A Sketch. Introduce your kids to unplugged creativity and drawing (without a pencil.) Etch A Sketch is reaching a major milestone this year, celebrating 60 years on Jul. 12, 2020. Etch A Sketch Day, observed annually, marks the day this toy was first sold. This year, Etch A Sketch joined forces with other iconic names for a series of limited edition launches earlier this year, including the beloved...

Fantasy Flight brings back The Lord of the Rings board game for an anniversary edition. Fantasy Flight Games revealed The Lord of the Rings: The Board Game Anniversary Edition, a new version of Reiner Knizia's classic board game, for release in Q4.The Lord of the Rings: The Board Game was first published in 2000 as a tabletop retelling of J.R.R. Tolkien’s trilogy,

Reliable Toy Company. Founded by three brothers in Toronto in the 1920s, Reliable Toy Company grew from being a tiny toy producer to become the then British Empire’s largest toymaker. By 1936, the company produced over one and half million dolls, across three hundred different models.

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Worldwide Licensing News . . .  

Moose Toys, Spirit Halloween to Dresses Up with Kindi Kids Costumes. Moose Toys has announced a new direct-to-retail license agreement with Spirit Halloween for its Kindi Kids property. In the agreement, brokered by The Licensing Shop, the retailer will launch four Kindi Kids costumes in Spirit Halloween locations across the U.S. and Canada, online at SpiritHalloween.com and on Amazon this fall.

RAZOR UNVEILS LIMITED-EDITION SCOOTERS FEATURING POPULAR BRANDS. Razor scooters are getting a stylish upgrade with creative new designs featuring Sharpie, Sriracha, AriZona Iced Tea, and Takis snacks. This marks Razor’s first-ever limited-edition collaboration series, launching on July 19.

Oddbods joins Fun to Learn magazine in new Redan Publishing partnership. The content creation, distribution, and licensing studio, One Animation has secured a deal with the pre-school magazine publishing house, Redan Publishing to bring Oddbods into its Fun to Learn magazine titles this month. Under the partnership, Oddbods will feature in the monthly magazine Fun to Learn Favourites from July 16th, followed by ...

LEGO, Nintendo up their game with retro console. A functioning LEGO version of the '80s NES game console launches in August, and follows an earlier partnership on an interactive Mario toy. The LEGO Nintendo Entertainment System Building Kit lets consumers construct a functioning console with LEGO bricks, as well as assemble a small non-functional ’80s-style TV that an animatronic eight-bit version of Mario can... 

Hornby unveils new Hogwarts Express set. Hornby has released the ready to play, remote controlled Harry Potter Hogwarts Express set, which is available now. Fans of Harry Potter can easily control this battery powered, remote controlled Hogwarts Express set. Featuring authentic sound clips of Harry Potter characters, the 37-piece train set is sure to delight girls and boys of all ages, as well as train enthusiasts.

Alpha Group is global master toy partner for new pre-school property Camp Furly. Keith Chapman, creator of Paw Patrol, has partnered with Studio Liddell and Alpha Group, on Camp Furly, a vibrant CGI animated pre-school TV series, which inspires children to venture outdoors and connect with the environment and nature. Raydar Media is managing all broadcast and consumer products rights...

(the above posted after July 10th)

WOTCH Creations, SmileyWorld Team for ToysWOTCH Creations and SmileyWorld have announced a new licensed toy set to be released this October. Products, called Smiley-Halves, will allow consumers to collect and connect from Smiley’s emoticons, with 22 variations in the first phase of the new children’s fidget toy.

IMG named exclusive global licensing agent for video gaming’s smash hit Rocket League. IMG has been appointed as the exclusive global licensing representative for the popular Rocket League video game franchise. The move was made by the franchise owner, Psyonix in a partnership announced this week.

YuMe Toys Teams Up with Canspan BMGYuMe Toys entered into a new partnership with Canspan BMG. Under the new deal, Canspan will support YuMe Toys’ forthcoming summer and fall product launches. YuMe is a company that is making waves throughout the toy industry with its high-quality products based on some of the hottest properties out there,” says Jamie Berman, president of Canspan BMG...

Rocket Licensing eyes toys, publishing for CBeebies’ English learning series Yakka DeeRocket Licensing is looking to secure toy and publishing partners, as well as specialists in educational products and resources, for the popular CBeebies show Yakka Dee, an English language learning series for pre-schoolers learning to talk. The series is also targeted at children with speech difficulties, and those learning...

Marvel, Moose Toys release Goo Jit Zu toys. The new collaboration between Moose Toys and Marvel is making it easier for kids to channel their inner superhero at home. Following the breakout success of Heroes of Goo Jit Zu in 2019, Moose Toys unveiled a new line of the toys in collaboration with Marvel …

Surge Licensing to rep Awkward Yeti Characters After creating the web comic that led to multiple New York Times bestsellers, The Awkward Yeti and Heart and Brain author and artist Nick Seluk is now turning his eponymous characters into consumer products and promotions with Surge Licensing as the exclusive licensing agent. Surge plans to further develop the brand through toys...

Rather Dashing Games licenses 'Downton Abbey'. Rather Dashing Games has acquired the rights to Downton Abbey to produce a new card game based on the Downton Abbey movie. The new card game will release in Q4 of 2020. The new Downtown Abbey game will be an easy-to-learn card game for ages 12 and up, and is based around competing to capture cards with key moments of resolution, revelation...

Genius Brands acquires Stan Lee's likeness, IPs The prodco now holds the rights to more than 100 properties Lee created, with plans to develop and license seven per year under a new business banner. Terms of the deal give Genius exclusive worldwide rights to Lee’s name, physical likeness and signature, as well as his live-action and animated motion picture IPs across TV, digital, publishing,...

People . . . 

Following two years of exceptional growth, IMC Toys is pleased to announce the expansion of their US operations with the appointment of two key team members and relocation to a brand new office. The additions to the team, Preeti Sheth joins as a Finance Manager and Chrissa Van Duffelen as Customer Service Manager, will bolster the brand’s position as a leader in the collectible doll category.

Reggie Fils-Aimé is now a strategic adviser for indie publisher Rogue GamesFormer Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Amié has adopted another retirement pastime: acting as a strategic adviser for indie publisher Rogue Games. That role will see Fils-Aimé leveraging his years of industry experience to offer guidance to Rogue Games’ board. 

New Canadian studio, Beans, established by former Ubisoft developersTwo former Ubisoft developers, Gabriela Salvatore and Dean Evans, have founded a new games studio in Canada. Announced during Devolver Digital’s Devolver Direct presentation, the new studio is based in Toronto.

Play-Room AIS’ Miles Penhallow to retire this September. Miles Penhallow, the head of toys and children’s gift at Play-Room AIS, is taking early retirement at the end of September this year following a successful 12 year tenure with the UK buying group. Penhallow said he will be taking his leave of the business and the industry in order to manage a small property portfolio and pursue other personal interests.

Christophe Derennes named head of Ubisoft Montreal after Yannis Mallat's resignation. Ubisoft has placed Christophe Derennes at the head of Ubisoft Montreal after its previous head, Ubisoft Canada CEO Yannis Mallat, resigned. Derennes, himself a longtime Ubisoft veteran, previously served as the executive vice president of production for Ubi Montreal and has been with the company for 23 years.

Maia Baram Talks smarTrike on the 'Power Kid Podcast' Host Phil Albritton of Power Kid Design speaks with Maia Baram, public relations manager at smarTrike. On the show, Baram explains how her search for a better stroller led her to a career move to smarTrike. Albritton and Baram also discuss the meticulous effort behind each of smarTrike’s “grow-with-me” product lines and explore what parents are looking for.

Former Zag EVP Ian Lambur joins Cloudco. Still based in LA, Lambur joins the prodco as its new EVP of content strategy and co-productions. Lambur will be responsible for all content planning, strategies and co-production relationships, as well as serving as head of Cloudco’s global content sales business.

Pumpkin Projects’ Valeria Miglioli: “Too long we’ve been flooded with toys for a quick sale and no longevity”. Having spent 16 years heading up product development at Fiesta Crafts, Valeria Miglioli has made her return to the scene with a clear cut and defined message to present to the market; that this is an industry that should always strive to be better than what it was before.

Cartamundi appointed its first global Chief Marketing Officer, Kraft Foods’ former director of chocolate brands in Benelux, Ann Viaene. The move has been made as Cartamundi continues to grow its global position as a leader in playing cards, card games, and children’s games. Viaene made the appointment public in a post via social media in the past week, where she stated that she was “super pleased...

Madison Dempster: WMU product design student helps envision games of the future as Hasbro intern.  "It's like being a kid again; it's the best," says Dempster, who landed an internship with Hasbro this summer. Working in the kids games division, which is responsible for classics such as Twister, Connect Four, Jenga and Battleship, she spends her days testing out new concepts. "We play board games over...

(the above posted after July 10th)

Board Game Designer Eric Lang Suspended From Twitter Eric Lang, one of the most famous board game designers on the planet, has been suspended from Twitter after what he says was a targeted campaign by a “scumbag serial harasser”. Lang, designer of stuff like Blood Rage and the Star Wars and Game of Thrones card games, has worked with everyone from Fantasy Flight to CMON. If you ask most board game...

YouTube sensation Joey Graceffa partners with Studio71 to launch Escape the Night Board GameYouTube star Joey Graceffa (over 12M subscribers) has partnered with Studio71 Games, a Red Arrow Studios company, to help bring to life his vision to expand the Escape the Night universe with an all-new electrifying board game. Inspired by Graceffa’s murder-mystery YouTube series. 

IMC Toys strengthens UK presence with new appointments and new office move. John Gray joins IMC as operations and logistics manager, bringing with him a wealth of toy sector experience to the role, having previously held positions with Mattel, Mega Brands, Spin Master and MGA. Meanwhile, Katie Petitt joins the team as account manager, after previously working in buying roles for both Debenhams and Toys R Us.

Andrew Day: the gaming boss who gets addicted to the games. Andrew Day is chief executive of Irish company Keywords Studios. His business has helped make many of the world's most popular games - from Call of Duty, to World of Warcraft, Fortnite, Clash of Clans, League of Legends, Assassin's Creed, and Candy Crush

Ubisoft exec Maxime Beland has resigned after harassment and assault allegations. Ubisoft vice president of editorial Maxime Beland has resigned from his role after being accused of sexual harassment and assault.The company also revealed that Beland's fellow editorial vice president, Tommy Francois, has been placed on disciplinary leave pending the outcome of an investigation

Richard Garfield - Game Designer Spotlight. In today’s episode of History of Game Design we are going to be looking at the master of the multiverse, the tycoon of trading cards, the flying purple hippopotamus himself, Richard Garfield, PHD. As always, we are going to be taking a look at his life and career, as well as the process and philosophy behind his game designs.

WORLD ACCORDING TO GRIEPP -- IMAGE NOT CONSIDERING DISTRIBUTION ALTERNATIVES. In response to a column last week on the events surrounding DC's move to new distributors, ending its relationship with Diamond Comic Distributors in N.A., Image Publisher Eric Stephenson reached out to communicate the company’s position on the situation.  I'd characterized Image as "rethinking the whole exclusive distributor...

Companies . . . 

Rubik’s Goes Digital for 40thRubik’s Brand celebrates milestone anniversary with digital launches. It is helping puzzle fans solve its popular Cube, offering downloadable and mobile-friendly solution guides on its website and social channels. Rubik's YouTube channel also features videos to suit all skill levels. Several Rubik's ambassadors, including Keaton Ellis from the U.S and Jack Cai of Australia, have been...

Hasbro joins the Super Mario celebrations with new twists on Jenga and Monopoly. Hasbro has joined the list of toy companies celebrating 35 years of Nintendo’s best-loved plumber this year with the launch of two new Super Mario themed spins on its own classic games Jenga and Monopoly. The global toy company has joined the likes of LEGO to celebrate the anniversary of Nintendo’s flagship character.

Zuru sets the table for the ultimate par-tea with Itty Bitty Prettys Tea Party Surprise. ZURU, the award-winning toy company, places inclusivity and kindness at the heart of Itty Bitty Prettys Tea Party Surprise. It’s a modern take on traditional tea party and doll play combined with the highly sought after surprise and collectibility factor.

Funko Announces Breast Cancer Awareness DC Heroes Pops. Funko has unveiled a new line of Pop Vinyls that are in support of Breast Cancer Research.  Four of your favorite DC Comics characters will be donning pink in these new repainted figures. Wonder Woman, Batman, Superman, and Harley Quinn are back and are better and pinker than ever.

Renegade Game Studios reveals new Vampire: the Masquerade card gameRenegade Game Studios revealed Vampire: The Masquerade Rivals Expandable Card Game, a card game designed by Matt Hyra, which will be headed to retail at the end of 2020 or beginning of 2021 pending a successful Kickstarter campaign.

Hasbro Transformers x TopGun Collab Launch. Feel the need, the need for speed! Hasbro, Inc. and Paramount Pictures today revealed the first-ever Transformers-Top Gun collaboration, starring the all new character Maverick. This new Transformers robot makes an ideal wingman, taking form as the iconic Northrop Grumman F-14 Tomcat jet from the original Top Gun film.

Microsoft discontinues Xbox One X and Xbox One S digital edition ahead of Series X launch.

Microsoft is officially halting production of its Xbox One X and Xbox One S All-Digital Edition consoles. “As we ramp into the future with Xbox Series X, we’re taking the natural step of stopping production on Xbox One X and Xbox One S All-Digital Edition.”

Eco-focused toy line JUNKO takes first steps into US with Uncommon Goods. The independent UK toy brand, JUNKO, has secured an exclusive launch in the USA with the Uncommon Goods web store. The launch is the result of a meeting of minds between the brand creator and the web store at this year’s Spielwarenmesse.

Bandai Toys announces cooking action game 'Tabe-O-Ja' for Switch. Tabe-O-Ja is a cooking action game in which you can enjoy strategic battles. As the special chef “Tabe-O-Ja,” you will cook various dishes including Japanese, western, Chinese, and more with Joy-Con cooking actions, and summon the “Tabe-Gami” that dwell within each tasty dish. With your summoned Tabe-Gami, you can form your own original team...

Mattel celebrates Toy Story’s 25th anniversary with an Alien Pizza Planet Delivery Guy figure.

Toy Story is turning 25 this November, and to celebrate this major milestone, Mattel is releasing a limited-edition Pixar Alien Remix Pizza Planet Delivery Guy figure next week, timed to the highly anticipated Comic-Con@Home. The remixed figure is a mash-up of everyone’s favorite space aliens and a Pizza Planet delivery guy from the Disney/Pixar media franchise.

ACTION-PACKED GAMES FROM YULU HIT TARGET THIS MONTH. First up is Diamond Heist (pictured above), a cooperative game in which players must work together to retrieve the stolen diamond before time runs out and someone gets caught! An evil organization has stolen a precious diamond and has hidden it deep within their vault. It’s up to you and your fellow spies to rappel into the vault, eliminate the ...

Etch A Sketch turns 60 this year. If you are like many parents these days, you are on a quest to find new ways to entertain the kids at home. This may be a good time to turn to a classic source of fun that requires no charging, batteries or Wi-Fi, making it screen time parents don’t have to limit. Here is a brief look at the history and major milestones of this iconic red-framed drawing toy...

MATTEL CREATIONS TO LAUNCH NEW PLATFORM, SDCC EXCLUSIVES. The toymaker is ramping up plans to debut a full Mattel Creations platform that will offer limited-edition products direct-to-consumer, starting with what would’ve been Comic-Con International: San Diego (SDCC) exclusives.

Hasbro Celebrates 20 years of X-Men with new Marvel Legends figures. In honor of the film's 20th anniversary, new X-Men figures from Hasbro are available now. July 14 marks 20 years since the mutants debuted on the big screen when X-Men hit theaters in 2000. It’s impossible to understate the influence that this film had on movies and the superhero genre. 

How Xbox and PlayStation Plan to Duke It Out This Fall.  Silicon Valley’s richest titans have tried to conquer the $150 billion video game ­industry—and so far failed. Last fall, Google introduced what it billed as a console-­killing streaming service, Stadia. Apple Inc., meanwhile, has attempted to build a “Netflix for iPhone games” with its $5-per-month, all-you-can-play Arcade.

Mattel, Universal to make a Wishbone movie. Academy Award winner Peter Farrelly will produce the toyco's ninth original film, based on the popular live-action series from the '90s. The new joint venture is the ninth project to be announced by Mattel’s movie division, and it follows deals with Warner Bros. and Margot Robbie’s LuckyChap Entertainment to make Hot Wheels and Barbie pics, respectively.

The Rubik’s brand has reported a ‘phenomenal growth’ in digital engagement from its community of Rubik’s Cube fans and followers of the brand extension, driven, it states, by the circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown measures taken across the globe.

It’s during the brand’s 40th anniversary that it has ramped up its digital and social measures in a move to counter the momentary pause...

Lego opens first retail store in Saudi Arabia. The store will have interactive stations for children and their families to play and engage.  It has commissioned a large-scale 3D model of a traditional Saudi family that will be positioned in the store as well as a mosaic of Jeddah’s iconic Old Souk. The store will also have interactive stations for children and their families to play and engage, while it will showcase a variety...

Australia’s Network 10 is launching free-to-air 10 Shake and expanding into kids programming to attract new audiences amid a rise in advertiser spending. Owned by ViacomCBS, the new channel will target viewers under age 40 when it launches in September, with a large portion of its programming dedicated to kids. 10 Shake will include 84 hours a week of children’s content (12 hours/day, 7 days/week, starting at 6 am).

Mattel WONDER WOMAN 1984 dolls include better glimpse of Kristen Wiig as Cheetah. Hard to believe this is the first summer without any superhero blockbuster (or any big budget films that for that matter) to entertain theater audiences. After initially delaying the highly-anticipated Wonder Woman 1984 until August and then once again to October, only time will tell is Warner Bros. will be able to keep...

@Hasbro @Marvel Announces #MarvelLegends #Sentinel #HASLAB Campaign. For some background, HasLab is a Hasbro Pulse crowdfunding platform that aims to put dream products into the hands of fans. With fan support, the goal is to make highly coveted products that fans have been clamoring for.

Spin Master and Warner Bros partner to launch Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia video game to Nintendo Switch. The new video game is the latest extension of the Bakugan franchise that already spans its anime adventure TV series, innovative toy line, card game and more. The game will centre on an new original story and the franchise’s signature Bakugan brawls.

(the above posted after July 10th)

Marshmello & Co Set Their Eyes On The Toddler Demographic With Mellodees. Marshmello has been at the forefront of media and fan engagement since the project’s inception. With noteworthy acts such as his Fortnite concert and his cooking and gaming series, the next step is taking on the audience of young kids.

MARVEL ENTERTAINMENT AND SCHOLASTIC ANNOUNCE OGN PROGRAMMarvel Superhero Stories Written by Bestselling Authors. Marvel Entertainment and Scholastic announced a multi-year original graphic novel program which will publish Marvel superhero stories, written by bestselling authors, in Scholastic's Graphix Media line. The move brings together the country's largest graphic novel publisher and ...

Marvel Reveals Comic Con at Home Schedule. Marvel has revealed its plans for Comic-Con at Home, this year's virtual San Diego Comic-Con event. Marvel appeared in Disney+'s plans and Hulu's plans via the Hellstrom series. Now Marvel has revealed its schedule of events. One is the Disney+ panel on the Marvel's 616 docuseries. Another is the Marvel HQ event, aimed at younger Marvel fans. Last is Marvel Comics: Next...

Arcane Wonders reveals 'Hello Neighbor: The Secret Neighbor Party Game'. Arcane Wonders, along with tinyBuild, Evolution, and Genuine Entertainment, revealed Hello Neighbor: The Secret Neighbor Party Game, based on the popular video game, for release in October. Players assume the roles of one of the neighborhood kids, the treacherous neighbor, or a secret neighbor to locate keys and unlock a door to win.

Le Toy Van Opens All-New U.S. Webstore for Heirloom-Quality Wooden ToysDesigned in London with a dash of French flair, Le Toy Van has been in business since 1995, but online buyers have typically been faced with calculating British pounds versus U.S. dollars in order to make a purchase. This week, that changes. Le Toy Van has opened an all-new U.S. website and has a selection of toys available on Amazon.

Far Out Toys and pocket.watch launch Ryan’s World Road Trip Board Game. Far Out Toys announced the debut of the newest game from the phenomenally successful brand, Ryan’s World.  The Ryan’s World Road Trip Board Game was inspired by the summer tradition of loading the kids up in the car and heading out on the highway on a road trip!.

Hornby Hobbies, Corgi Introduce the Hornby Centenary Bristol Lodekka Bus. Hornby Hobbies is continuing its 100th anniversary celebration with a #Hornby100 social media takeover filled with new product announcements. The month-long campaign kicked off with a collaboration between the company’s Hornby and Corgi brands: the Hornby Centenary Bristol Lodekka double-decker bus.

Mattel and Spin Master bring new short content to HappyKids.tvMattel, Spin Master, and 9 Story Distribution International are the latest big name brands in children’s entertainment to join Future Today’s popular HappyKids.tv app. The deal will bring new short content featuring Barbie, Thomas and Friends, Hot Wheels, Bakugan: Battle Brawlers, and more.

Barnes & Noble College Partners with American Video Game League to Launch Autumn Anarchy Fortnite Tournament. Barnes & Noble College, a Barnes & Noble Education, Inc. company, has partnered with the American Video Game League, a BoomTV company, to launch Autumn Anarchy, a first-of-its kind college esports tournament. Autumn Anarchy will invite more than 500 gamers nationwide...

Wizards of the Coast piloting new text alert program with U.S. WPN members. Wizards of the Coast announced that they are piloting a program where U.S. WPN retailers can get "major announcements" for Magic sent to their phones via text message. The new program is aimed at keeping WPN retailers informed about Magic product news before players ask about it.

Epic Story expands with new sister company. Ken Faier and Steve Couture are teaming up to launch Epic Storyworlds. The Canadian company, based in the province of Québec, will serve global audiences with properties spanning television, digital, gaming and consumer products.

Epic Storyworlds has already locked in its first greenlight from CBC, which picked up animated action-comedy Dex and the Humanimals... 

Walmart is dropping *dozens* of exclusive collectibles next week. If you haven’t heard about Walmart Collector Con yet, you aren’t alone. The retailer hasn’t posted about or promoted this upcoming online event, but it’s something that should *definitely* be on every collector’s radar.  On Friday, July 17, at 10 a.m. ET, Walmart is set to drop more than 60 exclusives...

Artist formerly known for prints: Laurence King Publishing is settling into the children’s games sector. For a company that “stumbled into the children’s area” when it published Marion Deuchars’ first activity book Let’s Make Great Art in 2011, the publisher has made short work of establishing itself within a market for games and puzzles with a strong literary aesthetic, and has even managed to find success...

CRAZY AARON’S STEPS UP TO SPONSOR THE TOY FOUNDATION’S TOY BANKCrazy Aaron’s is the official “Adopt-the-Pig” sponsor of The Toy Foundation’s Toy Bank this year. The Pennsylvania-based company behind the popular line of Thinking Putty will donate $10,000 to the cause and will release a special-edition putty crafted in The Toy Bank’s signature orange color. 

German toy manufacturer Schleich selects KN to neutralise CO2 in its sea freight. Schleich, one of the largest toy manufacturers in Germany and an international provider of realistic animal figures, has decided to neutralise its entire sea freight CO2 footprint with the help of Kuehne+Nagel. "The decisive factor was Kuehne+Nagel's Net Zero Carbon programme, which sets new standards with CO2 neutral logistics. 

Microsoft announces Xbox Series X games event for July 23rd. Microsoft will hold its Xbox Series X games event on July 23rd at 9AM PT / 12PM ET. The company is planning on showing games made by its Xbox Game Studios, including Halo Infinite. There will be more than just Halo, though. Microsoft has been steadily acquiring game studios, and the company now has 15 Xbox Game Studios in total. 

Lego will stop advertising police related toys and figurines. Lego, the Danish toy company with worldwide operations, decided to step forward and demonstrate in support of the movement Black Lives Matter. Lego announced on its official Twitter account that it would donate $ 4 million to “organizations dedicated to supporting black children and educating all children about racial equality.”

PlayMonster’s Snap Ships Blast into Retail, Invite Kids to ‘Build to Battle’. PlayMonster is blasting into a whole new realm with its first franchise-based toy line. Developed over the past couple of years, Snap Ships is a new brand for kids ages 8 and up that combines action play and construction - two of the hottest play categories - for an immersive play experience across a fully realized world that includes ...

Sony PlayStation pulls ads from Facebook until end of month. Sony PlayStation joins the list of companies suspending advertising on Facebook and Instagram through July. PlayStation said in a statement: "In support of the #StopHateForProfit campaign, we have globally suspended our Facebook and Instagram activity, including advertising and non-paid content, until the end of July.”

Nickelodeon, James Corden fly with pigeons. The actor and talk show host is producing an animated film and TV series based on the book Real Pigeons Fight Crime, which will air on all of the kidcaster's platforms. Under the multiplatform deal, actor and talk show host Corden (Peter Rabbit) and producer Winston (The Late Late Show with James Corden) will produce the content through their Fulwell 73 shingle.

Netflix & Hasbro Release Final Trailer for “Transformers: War For Cybertron: Siege”, in partnership with Rooster Teeth, released the final main trailer for Chapter One of the highly anticipated Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy which premieres on Netflix on Jul. 30. The Series raises the stakes of the Autobot and Decepticon war with Chapter One having six, twenty-two minute episodes, complete with...

IKEA Korea donates profits from consumer-designed toys. It has donated profits it generated by selling consumer-designed soft toys to a nongovernmental organization for children, as part of its commitment to promote children's right to play. According to the home furnishing firm, it has donated 35 million won ($29,230) to the "Save the Playground" campaign run by Save the Children.

GOGO GACHAS ROLL INTO TARGET THIS AUGUSTRedwoodVentures and Olo Industries had a winning partnership with the soft and squishy Smooshy Mushy line, and now they’re back for more with the debut of GoGo Gachas. Based on the Japanese “gachapon” trend of vending machine capsules filled with toys and charms, GoGo Gachas is a new unboxing toy that dispenses disco ball capsules...

Funskool: Well-poised to carve out larger share of global toy market  The Chenna, India i-headquartered toy maker is expecting a growth of 15-20 per cent in its exports this financial year and is hopeful of a sound growth in the domestic market too. The toymaker currently has two manufacturing units in Tamil Nadu and one in Goa. 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information Relative To Our Industry . . . 

GDC State of the Industry: WFH Edition survey reveals COVID-19's impact on devs. The Game Developers Conference released the results of a special State of the Industry: Work From Home Edition Survey which highlight and reveal how the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has impacted game developers across the industry. This special survey compiles responses from over 2,500 game makers …

Wizards of the Coast announces further Magic: the Gathering production delay. Wizards of the Coast announced that they would push back the release date of Commander Collection: Green, a set of eight green-color themed cards for Magic: The Gathering, to December 4 due to production delays  COVID-19 stifles WotC's supply chain again …

Disney Analyst Cuts Stock on "Longer" Pandemic Hit, Sees Cinemas "Largely Closed" Until Mid-2021. After initially expecting social distancing measures would be "significantly lessened" by late 2020, Cowen's Doug Creutz has "now extended that timeline," which will affect the company's film and theme parks units.

Coronavirus prompts Sony to boost PlayStation 5 production by 50%: Report. Sony has confirmed PlayStation 5 will ship this year in time for the holiday shopping season. The company has placed production orders for about nine million PlayStation 5 consoles, Nikkei Asian Review reported, citing sources familiar with the matter. 

Amazon to reimpose limits on US sellers as coronavirus cases surge. The spike in coronavirus cases across the US has forced Amazon to reinstate limits for sellers amid fears of a second lockdown.  Amazon has warned US sellers that it will be re-imposing restrictions on the quantity of goods they can sell via its Fulfilled By Amazon (FBA) service. From August through to the end of the year, merchants who use Amazon’s...

Masks to be made mandatory in shops after June sales uplift. The joint British Retail Consortium-KPMG monitor reported total UK sales up 3.4%, on the same month last year, as lockdown measures were eased, and warmer weather encouraged shoppers back to the high street. The sales uplift was against a 1.6% fall in June 2019 and was the sharpest monthly rise since May 2018.

(the above posted after July 10th)

KIDZ BOP busts a digital move to counter COVID-19 losses. With live events "off the table" well into 2021, president Sasha Junk says the brand had to find creative ways to continue filming at home—now the music maker's production levels are outpacing its pre-pandemic output. “We knew we had to put a hold on tours to be safe,” says president Sasha Junk. “But we also have a robust pipeline of hundreds of videos...

Exclusive: Toymaster’s Ian Edmunds speaks to Toy World. Ian explained how the buying group is supporting indie retailers through the reopening of the high street. Toymaster’s members have fared better than anyone expected throughout the pandemic and lockdown, utilising social media and online marketplaces to great affect and resulting in precisely zero permanent closures.

Exclusive: suppliers discuss post-lockdown plansAs retail gets back on track, Toy World spoke to leading suppliers to find out how their companies are re-booting plans and ranges for the remainder of 2020. Throughout the lockdown period, the toy industry as a whole has faced numerous challenges, but suppliers have remained resilient throughout. 

The Impact of COVID-19 on E-commerce: Staying Ahead of the Digital Divide. COVID-19 has brought America’s digital divide to the forefront. As online shopping and restaurant digital ordering exploded with the advent of the public health crisis, many companies were caught off guard, but those that invested in strong digital capabilities before the crisis were well equipped to weather the storm.

Amazon delays Prime Day until October due to coronavirusAmazon gave third-party sellers a placeholder date of the week of Oct. 5 for Prime Day, according to an email obtained by CNBC. The company has delayed its annual shopping event several times in recent months due to coronavirus-related constraints.

Asmodee has launched a huge summer competition with its new #PlayItOutdoors campaign, offering fans of its games the chance to win a £2,000 prize every week just by taking their favourite games outside to enjoy the great British summer. With the Covid-19 pandemic resulting in many families staying at home this summer, Asmodee is seeking to promote board games as the perfect activity for households...

Toy Aid, the charitable initiative set up by Joel Silverman and Richard North, raised £143,075 as part of Global’s Make Some Noise, the registered charity of Global Media Group. Toy Aid was created to raise money for charities that support disadvantaged children, young people and their families, who found themselves particularly vulnerable during the recent pandemic.

The re-invention of brands has already begun. Opinion article written by Pablo Durañona, Marketing Manager of Kids Corp, on how the Latin American market has changed due to the Covid-19 pandemic

Toy Safety and Counterfeit Related Articles . . . 

Mattel Board Hid Baby Deaths Before Sleeper Recall. Mattel Inc.'s board and senior leadership were hit with a Delaware lawsuit claiming they spent years hiding deadly problems with the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper before finally recalling it over baby deaths they’d long known about. A Fisher-Price spokeswoman said Tuesday that the company doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

(the above posted after July 10th)

Learn about future changes to EU Directive on restriction of hazardous substances. Toy Association members interested in the future of the European Union’s Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive, which restricts the use of certain hazardous materials found in electrical and electronic products, including battery-operated and electrical toys, are invited to attend a free webinar on July 9 at 10 a.m. (Eastern).

FIGHTING KNOCKOFF TOYS WITH ROBERT COOK ON THE ‘POWER KID PODCAST’. In this week’s episode of the “Power Kid Podcast,” host Phil Albritton of Power Kid Design speaks with Robert Cook, sales manager at Verisk Financial G2. Cook and his team help manufacturers protect themselves from the ever-present risk of knockoffs, counterfeit, and copycat products. They also provide guidance to assist companies ...

Peggy Brown Consulting Ad 540x250 pxl.jp

Press Releases . . .

Uncanny Brands Introduces Bleacher Creature Plush and Phenom Gallery Prints in Licensing Agreement with USA Basketball.  Seven new Bleacher Creatures are available now: NBA Hall of Famers Scottie Pippen, John Stockton, Karl Malone, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. The collectible plush figures are 10” tall and stand on their own, making them perfect for play or display.

(the above posted after July 10th) 

TICKETY-BOO! BRITAIN’S LE TOY VAN DEBUTS U.S. WEBSITE FOR SHOPPING AND SHIPPING STATESIDE. Dotty Tea Kettle, Red Bertie’s Tractor And The Iconic London Bus A Few Pleasures & Treasurers To Be Discovered At LeToyVan.com.  Moms and dads no longer must calculate British pounds versus U.S. dollars when browsing through Le Van Toy’s beautifully crafted inventory. The award-winning toymaker based in London expands into the U.S. market with a stateside website! Dotty Tea Kettle ($19.99) and Tea Set & Tray ($39.95) are just a click away at LeToyVan.com or Amazon. The short time span of childhood should be enjoyed to the fullest, believes Le Toy Van. Their vast array of European toys with an added French flair spark imagination without the use of technology. Timeless and well- made are the hallmarks of this toymaker...

Fisher-Price Kicks Off its 90th Anniversary by Getting Canadians Laughing. With research finding that the average 40-year-old laughs only three times a day, while the average four-year-old laughs 300 times per day1, Fisher-Price wants to encourage Canadians, no matter what age, to let loose, be silly and help spread the joy of laughter. In celebration of its 90th Anniversary, Fisher-Price is encouraging Canadian...

Mattel, Nelvana and 9 Story All Turn to Future Today for Distribution of Content. More Than 250 New Episodes of Popular Kids’ Titles Launched on HappyKids TV. Future Today, the largest OTT publishing platform, announced today it will be expanding its offering on HappyKids.tv by adding many popular new titles, including “Barbie,” “Thomas & Friends” and “Hot Wheels” from Mattel, “Bakugan®...

 

News from Associations, Trade Shows, Awards and Festivals  . . .

(ASTRA, Hong Kong, LIMA, Spielwarenmesse, TA and more) 

Hong Kong tightens lockdown measures once again. From mid-June to early July, no locally-transmitted cases of Covid-19 were recorded in Hong Kong, leading to a relaxation of lockdown measures in the city. Unfortunately, it was not to last: a spike in local cases over the past two weeks, including two fatalities earlier this week, has led the authorities to reintroduce the tighter social-distancing measures...

THE TOY INSIDER REVEALS EVENTS, ACTIVATIONS FOR SWEET SUITE @ HOME! The countdown is on for the Toy Insider‘s Sweet Suite @ Home, the ultimate virtual toy party where members of the media and digital influencers are invited to remotely discover the hottest new toys from more than 50 toy companies.

BlogOn Toy Awards 2020 open for entries. The BlogOn Toy Awards has 16 categories this year including Wooden Toys, Outdoor Toys and Puzzles. Following a successful launch in 2017, the BlogOn Toys Awards will be back again in 2020 for the 4th annual awards. The awards this year will be sponsored by 34SP.com.

Kidscreen Awards 2021 open for entries. A new Best Inclusivity Award has been added to celebrate content that positively represents BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and disabled characters. Celebrating the year’s best work in children’s television and digital entertainment, the 12th-annual Kidscreen Awards is officially open for entries.

Spielwarenmesse: Searching for new trends. New international team members join the TrendCommittee. Identifying game-changing developments. The toy industry is ever evolving and never stands still. Reason enough for the TrendCommittee to go in search of the latest trends every year. Commissioned by the Spielwarenmesse, the 13-strong expert committee follows emerging developments in the toy industry...

Character Options has announced details of its exclusive 2020 influencer event, which will take place over three days from the 24th-26th July. The Character Kidz Big Weekend is the revised edition of last year’s highly successful London based event and will now take place virtually, promising a summer festival of videos, stories and TikTok coverage announcing all that’s new in the Character Options portfolio.

(the above posted after July 10th)

What’s going on with toy trade shows and events? Your guide to what is happening with all the toy and licensing trade shows and events in 2020 and early 2021. The past few months have seen the majority of physical toy, licensing and nursery trade shows and events cancelled, both here in the UK and across the globe. Many shows which were initially postponed to later dates have subsequently been cancelled...

Hong Kong coronavirus cases rise, prompting tightening of social distancing. With the October buying trip only months away, the latest news from Hong Kong will add to concerns for travellers. Commencing this weekend, the Hong Kong government will be tightening social-distancing rules and has asked groups deemed at higher risk of contracting the coronavirus to seek out testing. 

DRAGON CON IS TOAST FOR LABOR DAY, EMERALD CITY GIVES UP ON 2020, AND 'STAR WARS' CELEBRATION LIGHT SPEEDS TO 2022

Coronavirus Convention Cancellation Round-Up. The cancellations of conventions continue into Q3 of 2020, and the outlook for the remainder of the year has become bleak.  Here are the latest conventions to cancel for 2020.

Koelnmesse has announced the cancellation of all its 2020 trade fairs due to take place before the end of October. This means that Kind + Jugend, the international trade fair for children, toddler and baby equipment, has been cancelled. The international trade fair organiser has worked hard to allay the concerns of exhibitors and visitors, but notes that, ultimately, restarting the Cologne trade fair scene isn’t..

Toymaster cancels September show, which was due to take place 2nd-4th September. The event had already been postponed from its usual May timing, with Government restrictions on gatherings now putting paid to the buying group’s plans to hold a later show. Despite support for the event, Toymaster has wisely taken the decision to cancel the 2020 show, and focus on the 2021 May event instead...

Play Creators Awards 2020 finalists revealed. Designers from Lego, Posh Paws, Spin Master, Ravensburger, Moose, Golden Bear and Character Options are among those nominated for Play Creators Awards this year.

The first-ever Toy Fair Everywhere virtual market week, hosted by The Toy Association, will kick off next Monday, July 13. More than 150 exhibiting companies, as of this writing, have signed on to showcase their hottest toys and games to global buyers and media vying to see what will be trending in Q4. Created in partnership with software provider Balluun

Play-Room planning to replace September trade show with buying eventThe proposed event would still require the government to change its current policy on mass gatherings to be able to go ahead.T his buying event would differ significantly from the traditional show: a  reduced number of companies – likely to be no more than 30 or 40 – would occupy booths measuring 4m x 4m, set 2m apart and each with ...

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Top Stories from Trade Magazines Worldwide this Week

Adventure Media & Events (US)

aNb Media's (US)

1. First-Ever ‘Toy Fair Everywhere’ Virtual Market Week to Kick Off July 13

2. The Toy Association Partners with Clamour to Unveil Influencers’ Top Toy Picks in September

3. Moose Toys Launches New Treasure X and Goo Jit Zu Marvel Toys

4. Dr. Seuss Enterprises Expands Licensing Program in Australia for Popular Properties

5. YuMe Toys Taps Canspan BMG to Spread the News

6. Far Out Toys and pocket.watch Launch Ryan’s World Road Trip Board Game

7. Genius Brands Partners with MaskClub.Com for Llama Llama Face Masks

8. Peppa Pig Gets Ready for Adventure in a New Partnership with Regatta Great Outdoors

9. Nickelodeon’s Blue’s Clues and You Takes Center Stage with Brand New Special

10. YouTube Sensation Joey Graceffa Partners with Studio71 to Launch Escape the Night Board Game

Toyworld (UK) 

ICv2: THE BUSINESS OF GEEK CULTURE's (US) 

  1.  Rolling for Initiative -- Thank You!
  2.  Fantasy Flight Games Brings Back 'The Lord of the Rings: The Board Game' for An Anniversary Edition
  3.  Money Raised for Games on Kickstarter Up Dramatically in First Half 2020
  4.  Bushiroad Reveals 'Cardfight!! Vanguard' 'Phantom Dragon Aeon' Products
  5.  Rather Dashing Games Licenses 'Downton Abbey'
  6.  Cozy Up to 'Calico'
  7.  Two New 'Blood Bowl' Squads Are Coming to the Gridiron
  8.  Czech Games Edition Reveals 'Lost Ruins of Arnak'
  9.  Rio Grande Games Announces 'Southern Rails'
10.  The Klingon Empire Invades 'Star Trek Adventures RPG'!

Spielwarenmesse Magazine-Monthly, not Weekly  (Germany) 

TOYS Magazine (Germany) 

Toy & Hobby (Australia) 

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

Tabletop Wire (US)

Video of the Week

Deirdre Cross from Funko Games Shares Inventing Tips with Young Inventors. Spring Challenge has closed, now accepting entries for

Young Inventor Fall Challenge. We Love Kid Inventors

 

Thank you for being a reader of the Bloom Report. — Mary and Graeme

 

Founding Editor and Publisher (1998-2020, Retired): Philip Bloom

Publisher: Mary Couzin, Chicago Toy & Game Group, Inc.

Managing Editor: Graeme Thomson

Assistant Editor: Patrick Fisher