the Bloom Report

Worldwide Toy Industry's #1 News Summary
Below is July 30 - August 6, 2021. Click Here for Last Week

Articles are posted daily with the most recent at top of each section. The previous week drops off each Friday when we email you highlights. 
Not only does the Bloom Report give you all the news you need to know... we give you all the news you didn't know you needed to know!" -Phil Bloom

Welcome to your Weekly News Brief . . . 

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tBR Columnist Nancy Zwiers Answers:  

What Do Paw Patrol Harry Potter and Simone Biles Have in Common??

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“No Job is Too Big. No Pup is Too Small.” This is the rallying cry of Paw Patrol, a group of pups who come to the rescue in their community day after day. Let’s unpack this idea to gain a little insight into what has made Paw Patrol such a huge and enduring success with preschoolers the world over.

 

No Job is Too Big: These pups are truly heroes, willing to take on any challenge. Whereas older targeted entertainment characters are usually battling evil and saving the world, “evil” as a concept is a bit too scary—and unrelatable-- for little ones. Instead, these heroic pups rescue characters in trouble, bringing them to safety for a happy ending. Now, that’s the kind of heroism these little kids can relate to. When they are scared, their seemingly omnipotent parents swoop in, to the rescue.

 

No Pup is Too Small: Just like the kids watching the show, these pups are little. Kids lack power and agency in their lives at this tender age, and so of course, they yearn for empowerment. This team of pups may be little, but they demonstrate that even if you’re little, you have the power to make an important difference in your world. Voila, living through these pups vicariously gives kids a real sense of power and agency. Read More . . . 

Bob Wann:  HUGE champion of the Power of Play - tBR Person of the Week

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How long have you been part of the Toy Industry? 

41 years! Quite frankly, I can’t believe it has been that long. It just goes to show time really does fly when you are having fun!

 

Why did you stay in the industry this long? 

The minute I entered the industry I knew it was for me and that I had found my perfect fit! I loved the pace, the energy and even the unpredictability of it all (crazy, but true)!

Every day was exciting and challenging and when I rose to the challenge, I had a real sense of accomplishment and gratification that most people never experience in their entire career.

And most of all I found an industry full of special, talented, highly creative people that share an extraordinary passion in what we do to make a difference in children lives by bringing them together through the magic and power of play! 

 

What is your claim to fame in the industry? 

I am not sure about “claim to fame” but what I am most proud of and widely known for within the industry is being a true believer and HUGE champion of the Power of Play! 

I’ve strived to ensure that Toy Companies of EVERY SIZE, big and small, can work together and learn from each other. Not only successfully as individual companies but also together to collectively enhance the visibility and the stature of the Toy Industry, as a whole, through the great work we all do. Read More . . . 

(Patch Products morphed into PlayMonster under Bob's leadership.)

Op-Ed by Jacqueline Vong: Is the world ready to take made in India seriously? tbr Person of the Week

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At Crazy Aaron's we make Thinking Putty®, Land of Dough and other creative, innovative products to inspire curiosity, wonder and to educate and delight our customers all over the world. 

 

In 1998, Crazy Aaron’s launched into a successful niche producing Thinking Putty®. Aaron’s very first product that hit the market was Coral Reef, a mesmerizing, sparkling blue putty containing Color Shock™ technology. Since then, a multitude of new products and product lines have been created all with the intention to never steer away from the company’s mission statement. However, in March of 2020, Aaron found himself using chemistry in a way he never expected to do. 

 

2020 catapulted Crazy Aaron’s into a new line of product development, hand sanitizer. In just 72 hours, our engineering team successfully changed over the production line to produce hand sanitizer, obtained the necessary government approvals, and donated the first 100 gallons to local first responders. We continued to donate sanitizer as the year rolled on including 2,000 gallons and 737 automated dispensers to the Camden County School District in New Jersey as teachers and students were going back to school. Read More . . . 

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Financial & Legal News . . .

Chinese container port closes after Covid-19 case found  The container port in eastern China's marine hub Ningbo was said to have 28 vessels queuing outside on Wednesday. Ningbo Zhoushan port, China’s second-largest container port by handling volume after Shanghai, handled 18.68m twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) in the first seven months, up 17.1% year on year.

(the above posted after August 7th)

HABA FamilyGroup has acquired specialty online retailer Bella Luna Toys and Oompa, expanding its e-commerce footprint in the U.S.

Bella Luna and its employees will report to the HABA USA subsidiary, and Bella Luna will continue to operate as a separate company. Sarah Balwin and Chris Percival will continue to lead the merchandising process, choosing new products that fit the Bella Luna and Oompa brands.

Shipping snags prompt US firms to mull retreat from ChinaGame maker Eric Poses last year created The Worst-Case Scenario Card Game, making a wry reference to the way the coronavirus had upended normal life. He had no idea. In a twist that Poses never could have predicted, his game itself would become caught up in the latest fallout from the health crisis: a backlogged global supply chain...

Shipping Container Crisis Could Derail Holiday Toy Sales.  It’s the lament of U.S. toy manufacturers, large and small: All I want for Christmas is shipping containers. Toy makers currently are playing a high stakes game in which they have to outbid and outmaneuver competitors for shipping containers to get their goods from overseas factories to U.S consumers in time for the holiday season.

Shipping latest | Maersk reports ‘blockbuster Q2’, shippers bite back at ‘cartel operations’, and is there a road to recovery? The Danish integrated shipping company, Maersk has just posted ‘blockbuster Q2 results’ beating its Q1 ‘best quarter ever’ to reach $5.1 billion on revenues of $14.2 billion. The company’s full-year guidance is now double what it was at the start of the year, having raised its EBITDA estimates to...

Top Chinese toy seller bets big on pop figures for ‘Kidults’. One of China’s largest toy retailers and distributors is betting on a new market as it looks toward the post-Covid-19 landscape: Grown-ups. The company, Kidsland International Holdings Ltd., is hoping to ride demand in Asia for so-called pop toys -- collectible cartoon figurines geared toward adults -- as it, along with other Chinese consumer firms, charts...

Reese Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine sold to private equity firm for nearly US$1 billion. Hello Sunshine’s projects include the films “Gone Girl” and “Wild,” as well as “The Morning Show” and “Big Little Lies.” It also has the popular Reese’s Book Club. The co. has recently moved into podcasting and into family ent, it has an upcoming slate of previously unannounced kids programming that it will produce ...

US furnishings company instigates legal action against ‘collusive’ ocean carriers. Following the proceedings, will toy companies be similarly forced to consider legal redress if prices continue to escalate? In a complaint filed last week with the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), MCS Industries, a maker of household furnishings, has accused China’s COSCO Shipping Lines, Switzerland’s MSC Mediterranean Shipping and...

Toy Prices Are Going Up Ahead of the Holiday Season. Companies race to import enough toys for holiday shopping and try to pass along higher shipping costs. Hasbro Inc., Mattel Inc. and other manufacturers say they are navigating supply-chain disruptions and rising costs for materials and labor, leading them to raise prices to recoup some of the added costs.

China typhoons pose latest supply chain threat as ports shutExtreme weather in China is becoming the latest challenge to global supply chains, as a heavy typhoon season threatens to further delay goods stuck at some of the world’s busiest container ports. Yantian port in southern China’s export and industrial hub of Shenzhen temporarily stopped drop-off services of containers on Tuesday night …

Focus Home Interactive acquires retro game studio Dotemu for $45.5 million. French publisher Focus Home Interactive has acquired a majority stake in retro game developer Dotemu for €38.5 million ($45.5 million). The deal will see Focus home acquire 77.5 percent of the share capital of Dotemu, which has helped reinvigorate vintage franchises by working on titles like Metal Slug Tactics …

Embracer acquires eight studios, including Crazy Labs, Ghost Ship Games, DigixArt. Embracer Group has announced the acquisition of eight studios for an approximated SEK 2.7 billion ($313 million). An additional consideration of up to SEK 2 billion ($232 million) will be paid should the studios meet agreed milestones over a period of up to eight years.

Tencent to impose new restrictions after online gaming branded 'spiritual opium' in China. Tencent will further restrict how young children engage with its games after Chinese state media described online gaming as 'spiritual opium.' The phrase was used in an article published by Economic Information Daily (EID) that suggested minors are addicted to online games and called for more curbs....

Ubisoft and Bungie file lawsuit against cheat software developer Ring-1. Bungie and Ubisoft have filed a lawsuit against cheat software developer, Ring-1. The suit specifically targets four individuals alleged to be integral to the running of Ring-1, including Andrew Thorpe, Jonathan Aguedo, Wesam Mohammed, and Ahmad Mohammed, along with John Does 1-50. 

Colopl will pay Nintendo $30 million to settle copyright infringement lawsuit. Japanese developer Colopl has agreed to pay Nintendo 3.3 billion yen ($30 million) to settle a copyright infringement lawsuit. Nintendo initially sued the mobile studio in 2016 for allegedly infringing on five of its patents, including one related to "the special technology used to operate a joystick over a touch panel" that …

Webbed Sphere, Inc. acquires Flying Buffalo, Inc. Webbed Sphere, Inc. announced that they have acquired Flying Buffalo, Inc. in a deal that was finalized on July 31. Rick Loomis and his company Flying Buffalo, Inc. were an integral part of the development of the games industry. Loomis created the play-by-mail game Nuclear Destruction in 1970, and later published the second-ever RPG ...

Netmarble acquires SpinX Games for $2.19 billion to expand into social casino genre. South Korean publisher Netmarble has fully-acquired mobile casino game developer SpinX Games for $2.19 billion. Netmarble explained the deal will allow it to expand into a new genre by leveraging SpinX titles like Cash Frenzy, Lotsa Slots, and Jackpot World. 

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Trends, Market Research Reports . . .

The Insights Family | 46% of kids watch their favourite Christmas ad digitally . . . . . July 2021 NPD BookScan - Top 20 Author, Manga, and Superhero Graphic Novels . . . . . . In praise of the craze - a look at Fidget Toys . . . . . . Games and puzzle sales were up 17% vs. sales in the first half of 2020, and up 31% vs. 2019 . . . . . . US sales of outdoor & sports toys sizzle

(the above posted after August 6th)

Toy Boom: First Half 2021 Global Toy Industry Sales Spike 15% in Two-year High, NPD Says . . . . . . July 2021 NPD BookScan - Top 20 Kids Graphic Novels . . . . . . July 2021 NPD BookScan - Top 20 Adult Graphic Novels . . . . . The NPD Group: U.S. Toy Industry Sales Experience +19% Increase During the First Half of 2021 . . . . . . UK streaming subscriptions jumped by 50% in 2020 . . . . . . Top 20 Graphic Novels - July 2021 . . . . . The 25 Most Popular Video Games in America . . . . . Top 50 Comics - July 2021

Financial & Brokerage News . . .

Kidicraft has seen sales grow 62%

(the above posted after August 6th)

Funko Sales, Profits Boomed in Q2, Even Compared to 2019 . . . . . SPIN MASTER REVENUE SPIKES 39% IN Q2 WITH STRONG CONSUMER PRODUCTS GROWTH . . . . . Roku had an OK Q2, though it's total hours streamed declined by one billion hours, compared to the previous quarter . . . . . . Toynamics exceeding expectations . . . . . . IDW Prices Public Offering . . . . . . Disney's Jungle Cruise sailed into a US$90-million opening weekend . . . . . . Discovery's Q2 beat expectations and it hit 18 million streaming subs . . . . . .  Net sales and profits down at Nintendo because Animal Crossing set the bar too high . . . . . . Square Enix sales are up in Q1, but revenues in games categories are down . . . . . . EA Q1 better than expected but bookings down 4% . . . . . Abuse allegations overshadow Activision Blizzard second quarter results . . . . . . . In-game spending on Take-Two games jumped 15 percent during Q1 2022

Future Financial Reporting . . .

Toyjobs has been the dominant recruiting

Stories, Comments & Advice . . .

Stars + Toys: How does your favorite star play? Stars — they’re just like us! As in, they love toys, too! Read on to learn about celebrities’ favorite toys and games, their toy collections, and even who still plays with toys and games today. Here's our list and let us know if you know of more! Jessica Simpson: Play-Doh, Will Arnett: LEGO, George Takei: My Little Pony, Johnny Depp: Barbie and many more...

Brands are already marketing to Generation Alpha The kids born after Gen Z are prime targets for marketers — and so are their millennial parents.  Both new and traditional kid-focused brands have, for the most part, abandoned the kitschy, rainbow-colored packaging used in the ’90s and early aughts. Think of the commercials for Fruit Gushers candy and Kid Cuisine microwavable meals. Instead, they’ve defaulted to...

Mattel Addresses Backlash Over Olympics Barbies: Dolls 'Fell Short' in Representing Asians. The collection of dolls was first introduced in February 2020, but recently drew criticism online. While Asian American athletes like Suni Lee stole the show at the Tokyo Summer Olympics, viewers at home were left upset over the fact that the line of five Olympic athlete Barbies did not appear to include a doll of Asian descent.

Ethical innovation and how creating for children is not child’s play.  Our Director of Development and co-founder, Phil Tottman recently reached out to his network to ask; “when does playful learning become just learning?” One of our most significant challenges is to determine not just what is entertaining but also what focuses the end user’s attention on the core topic at hand - which in our case is mental...

Mattel family’s legendary ‘Barbie penthouse’ hits market for $10M. The iconic “Barbie penthouse” once owned by Mattel founders Ruth and Elliot Handler will hit the market Tuesday for just under $10 million, The Post can exclusively reveal. The real-life Barbie and Ken (Barbara and Kenneth), daughter and son of Ruth and Elliot Handle, grew up in the three-bedroom, three-and-a-half bathroom Los Angeles condominium.

How small toy partners drive big gains.  Limited licensing agreements with start-ups and small companies are giving brand owners like Sesame Workshop and Dr. Seuss Enterprises a huge advantage. Everyone loves a David and Goliath story. We all root for the underdog—especially when that underdog is scrappy and smart. But sometimes, instead of battling it out, the little guy and the giant team up.

POP QUIZ WITH WENDY SMOLEN: AUGUST 2021. 1. What company commemorated the 1953 coronation of Queen Elizabeth II by dressing 36 dolls in historically accurate costumes made with cloth from the same mill that produced the queen’s coronation mantles? 

(the above added after August 6th)

John Baulch, ToyWorld UK - Blurred lines …it’s the Friday Blog! Let’s start this week’s Blog with some of the more positive news from the toy market: talking to Toymaster’s Paul Reader, I was delighted to hear that trading ‘out in the field’ has been strong in recent weeks, with retailers situated in coastal and tourist resorts having a particularly fantastic summer so far

Licensing International: The Licensing Industry Charts its Post-Pandemic Course. The underlying strength of the licensing business is unquestioned, with companies of all sorts showing a creative willingness and eagerness to adapt the model to new business categories and opportunities. COVID-19 changed none of that. If anything, it spotlighted companies’ ability to adapt to new circumstances ...

Design Edge: Tips for Networking Success.  You may be familiar with the adage, “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never work a day in your life.” Those of us blessed to passionately work in a beloved industry have likely paraphrased this once or twice, simply because our job can certainly feel that way at times. Mine happens to be in the toy industry and the saying certainly applies. 

Back Open for Business: Independent Toy Retailers Reflect on 2020.  While Zoom meetings or virtual expos and conferences have filled in the gaps in the meantime, manufacturers and retailers alike seem to share in the sentiment that nothing can quite replace the interaction and product demonstrations that a traditional trade show delivers.  “I want to see the product, touch it, play with it,” says Brian Miller ...

If Instagram wants to copy TikTok, then TikTok will copy Instagram with a new Stories function launch  Twitter may have shut down its Stories features known as Fleets, but the Stories format will continue to invade other social platforms. TikTok today confirmed it’s piloting a new feature, TikTok Stories, which will allow it to explore additional ways for its community to bring their creative ideas to life.

Here's How I Can Predict Netflix's Video Gaming Strategy.  We all know Netflix (NFLX). Co-founder and CEO Reed Hastings’ brainchild has disrupted the entire entertainment complex through its massive global expansion and improved streaming technologies. Remember video rental giant Blockbuster? Unfortunately, most people under 20 surely do not. Netflix put them out of business in 2010.

Bratz & Barbie Unite for International Friendship Day in IG Post (& Fans Are Losing Their Minds). The extended olive branch continued on LinkedIn, where the CEO of MGA, Isaac Larian, posted the same image to his account and wrote a message to Mattel's CEO, Ynon Kreiz. “Hey Ynon Kreiz: During our breakfast meeting, I enjoyed our conversation and appreciated your genuine clarification that you had nothing to do with the Mattel lawsuit against MGA Entertainment and Mattel’s theft of MGA’s trade secrets 20 yrs ago,” he said.

Toys for Tots prepares for supply shortage this holiday season. Supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic may lead to a toy shortage. Hasbro and Mattel both noted concerns in recent earnings calls, citing supply chain disruptions stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic due to bottlenecks that have caused shipping delays from China and higher freight prices, among other things.

Take a Look At Mattel's First Pixar Studio Series with Disney's Up. The Pixar Spotlight Series from Mattel is setting up to be one of their coolest collectible franchises for Disney and Pixar fans. The main series has yet to kick off with collectibles featuring iconic characters for The Incredibles, Toy Story, and Wall-E. Mattel did release their very first figure for the upcoming line this year during San Diego Comic Con...

Man's 'Schitt's Creek'-inspired toys get him a Netflix deal. A Canadian man used his old toys to recreate scenes from "Schitt's Creek" and Netflix took notice.

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Remembering the Toy Industry's Past . . . 

Backstory: Tangle — the original fidget was 40 years ahead of the curve. Five years ago, fidget toys hit the mainstream as the rapid rise of spinners fueled demand for alternate ways to keep kids — and adults — focused and engaged. While the fidget spinner fad was short-lived, the 2017 boom brought attention to other versions of hands-on sensory toys that have increased in popularity in the years since “fidget” became its own toy category. Among the flash-in-the-pan trinkets, one hot item wasn’t necessarily new at all, but it had been evolving for decades …

Worldwide Licensing News . . .

Squishmallows, Jazwares‘ popular brand of soft plush toys, has signed with ent. and sports agency Creative Artists Agency (CAA). By representing Squishmallows, CAA will identify and create opportunities for the brand across a variety of categories, including — but not limited to — film, television, video games, publishing, and live touring.

Sesame Workshop named CAA-GBG Global Brand Mgmt Grp as the licensing agent for Sesame Street in South Korea and SE AsiaThe appointment comes shortly after Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit behind Sesame Street, also named licensing agents for the brand in other parts of Asia — including Japan and the Greater China region. 

Playmobil is boldly going where it hasn’t gone before in a new collaboration with ViacomCBS and Star Trek. The German toy co. unveiled a new model Star Trek — U.S.S. Enterprise ship, launching Sept. 8. The vessel measures one meter long, with mounting included for display. It includes 7 figures of crew members from the original cast of the show (which premiered on Sept. 8, 1966). Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty...

Andrews McMeel Publishing Partners with Crossword Puzzle Legend Will Shortz  Andrews McMeel Publishing (AMP) revealed that they have partnered with Will Shortz and Robert Fuhrer of Nextoy LLC. to create a new games imprint, Will Shortz Games. Will Shortz is a legend among crossword puzzle enthusiasts. He was crossword editor for the New York Times, the founder and director of the American Crossword Puzzle...   

(the above posted after August 7th)

R2-D2 Lands in Tamagotchi’s Upcoming Star Wars Lineup.  Kids ages 8 and up will learn how to train, clean, and take care of Artoo just like any other digital pet in the toy line from Bandai America. The R2-D2 Tamagotchi will be available in two, pocket-sized shells inspired by the droid’s design, accompanied by the iconic Tamagotchi animation displays.

Hershey is expanding their licensing toy options with the brokerage Brand Activation Counseling. ​​“Fans of beloved brands from The Hershey Company now have even more ways to celebrate their favorite sweets with plush toys, puzzles and games with offerings from some of the most popular toy and recreational companies on the market,” says Michelle McLaughlin, CEO, Brand Activation Counseling.

LEGO celebrates 20 years of LEGO Harry Potter with new Icons Collectors’ Edition. The LEGO Group is celebrating 20 years of LEGO Harry Potter with the grand unveiling of the LEGO Harry Potter Hogwarts Icons Collectors’ Edition. Billed as ‘an intricate display model and a perfect homage to the Wizarding World,’ the detailed new launch aims to capture some of the most iconic characters and moments from the franchise...

Warner Bros. and DC launch first Batman Bat-Tech Edition app with AR gaming and digital comics. Warner Bros Consumer Products and DC Comics have lifted the cowl on a new Batman mobile experience for young fans with the launch of the DC: Batman Bat-Tech Edition app – a free mobile app that immerses fans in a story that takes a deep dive into the technology of the caped crusader. 

Ubisoft partner with Beanstalk to extend gaming brands into new categoriesFrench video game company, Ubisoft, are partnering with Tinderbox – the digital division of Beanstalk, to represent their top selling gaming franchises, Just Dance® and Far Cry® for licensing across Europe. Tinderbox will support both franchises, Just Dance and Far Cry, by expanding the European consumer products footprint...

Disguise renews Pokémon costume rights in multi-year deal. Disguise, the global costume company owned by Jakks Pacific, has extended its contract with The Pokémon Co. International in a multi-year deal. Under the extended deal, Disguise will continue to design, market, manufacture, and distribute costumes, costume accessories, and trunk-or-treat kits featuring popular Pokémon characters.

Pokémon is heading to the BBC as iPlayer catches series and movies for the first time. The British broadcaster has acquired two complete story arcs from the Pokémon the Series collection to be housed on the BBC iPlayer, along with the story arcs’ accompanying feature-length Pokémon the Movie for both linear broadcast and the iPlayer. 

Scalextric’s Batman vs Superman tops the John Lewis ten toys for Christmas listThe Warner Bros. and DC Comics icon, Batman has swooped in on the first of the major retailers’ top Christmas toy predictions this year, having secured top billing within John Lewis’s Top Ten Toys for Christmas 2021. 

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People . . . 

“Power Kid Podcast,” host Phil Albritton welcomes award-winning producer, director, and composer, John Papa to the show. Papa is the co-founder and executive producer at Massimoto Media, a New England-based production outfit that creates commercials, films, and videos for clients including Hasbro, TOMY, Rollplay, and more. Papa was recruited by Hasbro to build and establish its in-house Hasbro Studios...

OTIS COLLEGE WELCOMES INDUSTRY VETERAN JENNIFER CAVEZA IN NEW ROLE. Jennifer Caveza has returned to Otis College as the new chair of the toy design program. Caveza, a consumer products executive specializing in the toy and licensing industries, previously served as assistant chair of the toy design program at Otis from 2001 to 2006. She was most recently the SVP toy licensing at ViacomCBS...

CRAZY AARON’S TAPS AHREN HOFFMAN TO LEAD MARKETING TEAM. When Crazy Aaron’s hit Minneapolis for the American Specialty Toy Retailing Assn (ASTRA)’s  Marketplace & Academy last weekend, the company behind Thinking Putty did so accompanied by a new team member: Ahren Hoffman. Hoffman, formerly of ASTRA and the Chicago Toy & Game Group, assumed the role of marketing team lead for the growing co.

Diamond Book Distributors has gone outside for new leadership, hiring Tony Lutkus from Penguin Random House as its new President.  Lutkus has 25 years of experience in the book business, including the last seven years at Penguin Random House and a long stretch in a variety of roles at Hachette.

Henson taps director of primetime development  Delany Shiokari joins the TV team, while Kait Boss takes on additional responsibilities as the prodco's new director of children's TV. Shiokari will focus on growing Henson’s primetime slate of acquired and internally developed projects, and is focused on older-skewing content that leans into the prodco’s mythological world building, storytelling and comedy past. 

Casdon Toys continues to expand its team with the recruitment of an Americas territory manager in a newly created role. Laura Bull has been appointed to the role and joins the team this month. Laura previously held the position of UK and Ireland sales manager at Magic Box, as well as working as marketing manager at both Posh Paws and Schleich UK. She brings with her a wealth of toy industry experience.

(the above posted after August 6th)

Toy Family Series: The Nathanson Family. Happy 15th Anniversary Bananagrams! Unfortunately, I did not have the pleasure of meeting Abe Nathanson, and love that he created Bananagrams when he was 76! I have been fortunate to share conversations over dinner with his daughter Rena about running a business, families, being a mom, life philosophies, our industry, and more. Theirs is a warm and wonderful story...

Making strides at Sambro  Toy World chats to Sambro International CEO Paul Blackaby to find out what plans he has for the company, which has seen some significant changes in the past few years. Known primarily for its arts & crafts and novelty ranges, Sambro is also branching out more into other categories such as plush, and simplifying and streamlining parts of the business.

Dr. Seuss Enterprises recently promoted Nicole Gates to the role of senior corporate counsel, in which she will continue to lead and oversee matters relating to Dr. Seuss’ portfolio and manage legal affairs. Gates has been with the company since 2018, when she joined as its first in-house counsel. In her current role she handles infringement issues, the company’s global trademark portfolio, contracts for ent....

Hasbro announced that Jess Richardson was promoted to VP, global licensed consumer products — toys and games.  Richardson will lead a newly created global team to continue to mine the full Hasbro IP portfolio to accelerate Hasbro’s broad brand portfolio on a global scale in the Toy, Sporting Goods, and Game categories. “The work that Jess has led on Tonka, Micro Machines, Lite Brite, Spirograph, Nerf Sports and...

YOUTUBE CHIEF PRODUCT OFFICER NEAL MOHAN ON THE ALGORITHM, MONETIZATION, AND THE FUTURE FOR CREATORS  A peek behind the curtain at the creator economy and what’s next for YouTube Shorts. YouTubeYouTube chief product officer Neal Mohan joined Decoder this week to discuss YouTube’s new $100 million fund to begin paying creators who use YouTube Shorts, which is its competitor to TikTok.

Silvergate Media has promoted Shelli Rottman to the dual position of chief diversity officer and EVP of business and legal affairs. As the company’s first chief diversity officer, Rottman will oversee its growing diversity and inclusion program. Silvergate has pledged to create a more equitable and welcoming working environment, while amplifying diverse voices through mentorship and professional guidance.

ZAG grows US & LatAm licensing team. Former ViacomCBS exec Marifely Argüello Montealegre takes on the newly created role VP of product development as the prodco continues its CP expansion. She will focus on asset creation and design, trends, product direction and style guides for all ZAG Heroez brands, including the company’s flagship Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir property and newer IPs...

Jazwares adds new commercial and licensing directors in European growth drive.  As part of Jazwares’ ambitious European growth strategy, the EMEA team is expanding with Matt Stent appointed European commercial director and Sam Bourne the new European licensing director. Matt will be responsible for growing Jazwares’s business in Europe, through its regional offices and third-party distributors, and ...

“Power Kid Podcast,” host Phil Albritton welcomes WowWee‘s VP of Brand Development and Creative Strategy, Sydney Wiseman. Since joining WowWee, Wiseman has helped shape the company’s new product portfolio across innovations including Fingerlings, Lucky Fortune, and this year’s Got2Glow Fairy Finder

J. Allen Brack Leaves Activision Blizzard Amid Continued Shakeup. The move comes amid the fallout from a lawsuit filed against the company by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) alleging violation of civil rights and the equal pay act followed by an employee walkout and a continued public war of words between executives and staffers.

Mercury Filmworks grows with chief talent officer.  David Keneford will grow the animation studio's team, and is looking to hire 30 people in the next few months in various creative roles. The studio is seeking talent in multiple roles, including line producer, art director, senior character designers, senior layout artists, animators and FX artists. 

The Genius Star or ‘Kochav HaEtgarim’, a game invented by British oleh Aron Lazarus, has arrived in Israel and will be available in toy stores around the country. The Genius Star is a logic game for kids where the goal is to fill a Mogen David shaped board. It gives at least 165,888 ways to make a Magen David. This is Lazarus’s second game from 2020, for which he won the title of ‘TAGIE Rising Star Inventor of the Year’ ...

Icebreakers with...Build-A-Bear CEO Sharon Price John. Build-A-Bear Workshop turns 25 next year (feeling old?), and the brand has been growing up with its audience. Chicken and egg question for you: Did you see increased interest from an older demographic and create more products for them, or did you create those products and the older demographic came?

Entertainment One Names Jillian Share Co-President of Film Production. The executive is charged with overseeing the development and production of the studio’s expanding global film slate alongside Zev Forman. Her hire will allow eOne’s to expand production of features based on toy maker and parent Hasbro’s IP as well as other original projects like All the Old Knives, starring Chris Pine and Thandie Newton; the...

Asmodee names gaming super talent Sophie Gravel head of studio at Z-Man Games. The international board game giant, Asmodee has named Sophie Gravel its new head of studio at Z-Man Games, the Asmodee owned board game studio and publisher of Pandemic, Carcassonne, and more. The new move will mark Gravel’s second tenure leading Z-Man Games, where she previously spearheaded the launch...

Stephen Stanley tapped to lead Jazwares’ new costume play division. An industry vet with experience at Hasbro, Disguise, and the Rubie’s Costume Co. will lead the charge at Jazwares‘ new costume play division. Stephen Stanley was named general manager and senior vice president of the department that will focus on the year-round development of licensed costumes.

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Companies, Brands . . .  

Mattel Earns Great Place to Work CertificationAt Mattel, our purpose is to empower the next generation to explore the wonder of childhood and reach their full potential. We know this incredible work wouldn’t be possible without our people, which is why we are thrilled to share that Mattel is now Certified™ by Great Place to Work®, the global authority on workplace culture. 

Jakks Pacific is updating its baby doll line with a variety of new outfits and revised sculpts reflecting the character traits of each ethnicity. The Perfectly Cute collection from Jakks Pacific is known for its diversity. The dolls, which are available in 8- and 14-inch scales, are offered in various ethnicities and skin tones including African-American, Asian, Latinx, and Caucasian. 

Here’s some fantastic news from Hasbro Pulse: There’s a new wave of Fantastic Four Marvel Legends figures. As revealed in a Fan First Monday livestream yesterday, this wave includes six 6-inch-scale Fantastic Four characters, all in retro packaging and featuring classic comics-inspired designs. The lineup includes Mr. Fantastic, Marvel’s Invisible Woman, Human Torch, Marvel’s Thing, Psycho Man...

FULL EPISODE OF SPIN MASTER’S ‘BAKUGAN: GEOGAN RISING’ SET TO PREMIERE ON ROBLOX, Kids are obsessed with Roblox, the multiplayer video game that allows users to program games that others can experience and enjoy. Recently, the Roblox platform has been giving thanks to its fans by hosting a lineup of digital experiences, including online performances by Lil Nas X and KSI...

ZURU recently launched Angel High, a new line of six dolls with swappable fashion accessories and wings. Each doll includes 10 surprises that are unique to their personality and comes packaged inside a clear capsule with peek-a-boo window that transforms into a display. Surprises range from hairstyles, outfits, mini wings, fashion, jewelry, eyewear, hair accessories (brush, color-changing clip, and extension), and...

Google's Stadia launches kids section  With a focus on reaching families playing together, the soon-to-launch section will include six titles from Outright Games. Launching August 13, the new category signals Stadia’s growing commitment to reaching younger demos and the increasing number of families who game together, according to a release from Stadia.

ACTF & Stan put out call for kids features  Beginning today, eligible writers, producers and creators can submit original Australian live-action concepts targeting youth and family audiences. Applications are now open for original live-action feature ideas that are at least 80 minutes in length. The projects have to have a G or PG rating, and should be aimed at either children aged six to 12 and their families, or tweens...

Melissa & Doug announces sustainability initiative  New initiative, Project Restore, cements the company's commitment to "making timeless, sustainable toys for a thriving and inclusive world." The initiative, called Project Restore, will guide the company in its existing work on environmental responsibility, social equity and inclusion, as well as its ambitious new plan to make the world a better place.

Lalaloopsy is back by popular demand thanks to MGA  The release, which will reintroduce 25 Lalaloopsy dolls with a focus on DIY crafting and traditional doll play, marks the brand's 10th anniversary. Lalaloopsy offers a whimsical world of characters with unique personalities derived from the fabric used to sew them, inspiring kids to develop their own creativity.

Nacelle pivots to launch its own toy brand The company behind Netflix's The Toys That Made Us is shifting from documenting toys to reviving Robo Force with new products and a series. Now, Nacelle is gearing up to jumpstart the ’80s IP again with a new show and consumer products push. 

Cartoon Network Studios, WBA expand into anime  Adult Swim exec Jason DeMarco will oversee the studios' growth into long-form anime and action series for all ages. In this newly created role DeMarco started on August 1, he reports to Sam Register, president of both Warner Bros. Animation and Cartoon Network Studios, and Michael Ouweleen, president of Adult Swim.

Funko eyes international growth after record second quarter and major executive moves.  Funko’s president, Andrew Perlmutter is to be appointed the firm’s new CEO as Brian Mariotti transitions to the newly created role of chief creative officer, detailing the top level moves the same week the firm delivered ‘its largest topline quarter in company history.’ Last week, the pop culture specialist revealed that second quarter net sales 

Rubies hails inclusivity with new Adaptive Costumes  Rubies' range of Adaptive Costumes has been designed for children with limited mobility, letting every child join in roleplay and dress-up. Specialised design features include back openings in the trousers and skirts, which allow wheelchair users to dress in bed or in a laying down position.

Hasbro hosts camps for children battling life-threatening illnesses.  Hasbro Children’s Hospital is back to hosting two very special camps for children battling serious illnesses, after pausing for a year during the height of the pandemic. The hospital hosted Camp Grace last week and is hosting Camp Dotty this week.

Breaking Games Launches Multiple Highly Anticipated Games in Top Retailers Across the Nation.  Some new games include the ubiquitous Cards Against Humanity with their latest Cards Against Humanity: Family Edition Glow in the Dark edition; Café Chaos by TheOdd1sOut, which has a wildly popular YouTube channel with more than 17 million followers; and a brand-new IP called PANDO, which helps people...

The Best Nickelodeon Character Bracket. As Nicktoons’ 30th anniversary approaches, it’s time to celebrate the heroes, villains, sponges and starfish, and cats and dogs who redefined children’s programming in the 1990s and beyond. Nick can mean many different things to many different people depending on when, exactly, they were between the ages of 6 and 16. The generational divide is most cleanly drawn...

MGA unveils new Glitter Babyz nurturing doll range.  The Glitter Babyz dolls feature large eyes filled with distinctive nature imagery, plus accessories that promote imaginative, nurturing play. MGA Entertainment‘s new range Glitter Babyz introduces Dreamia Stardust, January Snowflake, Lila Wildbloom and Solana Sunburst to nurture doll lovers aged three and above. 

The Toy Book chats with Ross Hyman, director of product development and marketing at Alex Global Products, about the company’s legacy, evolution, and future plans. Toy Book: Alex Global Products emerged during a tumultuous year. What are the key differences between the former Alex Brands and the new Alex Global Products?

Mattel launches Lucille Ball Barbie doll for 70th anniversary of I Love Lucy.  There is no greater female icon in the world of comedy than Lucille Ball and her legacy will continue to inspire others for many years to come. In celebration of the star’s 110th birthday (Ball was born Aug 6th, 1911) and the upcoming 70th anniversary of her sitcom I Love Lucy, Mattel is launching its new Tribute Collection with a Barbie doll modeled...

(the above posted after August 6th)

How do you playtest a board game for 5-year-olds?  Inside the creative process at HABA, the German tabletop giant.  TheThe very concept of the kindergarten was born in Germany, and with it the idea that young children can learn a lot through play. It’s no wonder then that some of the world’s best educational children’s games are made there as well. But how do you go about designing games for five-year-olds? 

Disney to open Vancouver studio for long-form animated series  Led by Amir Nasrabadi, the new studio will be focused on shows for Disney+, such as the upcoming Moana. Nasrabadi most recently served as EVP and general manager at WildBrain Studios in Vancouver, and previously oversaw Pixar Canada as VP and general manager. He also held senior leadership roles with Illumination and Paramount Animation.

Mattel plans to halve its greenhouse gas emissions and hit zero manufacturing waste by 2030  Mattel has detailed new plans to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent and achieve zero manufacturing waste by 2030 in its 2020 Citizenship Report. The report, published today, features updated Environmental, Social, and Governance strategy and goals, while underscoring the toy maker’s previously...

LEGO redoubles commitment to Asia Pacific with government partnership to invest in its Singapore Hub.  LEGO has underlined its commitment to expansion in Singapore and the Asia Pacific region with the promise of greater investment in developing key digital and creative teams at its Singapore hub. 

What's cooking at SmartLab Rachael Simpson-Jones spoke to George Scott, senior brand manager at SmartLab from The Quarto Group, to find out more. SmartLab is the only toy-centric ‘imprint’ from a portfolio of 33 brands within The Quarto Group, a leading international publisher of books and intellectual property products. Created in 2004 to offer fun, fact-filled and fictional novelties for kids aged 8-14 years old...

Mattel Once Again Says #ThankYouHeroes by Supporting First Responders Children’s Foundation and Honoring Global Frontline Medical Workers with One-of-a-Kind Barbie Dolls.  Barbie® to donate $5 for each Barbie doctor, nurse or paramedic doll sold* at participating Target locations during the month of August. The brand is also spotlighting six women who are modern real-life heroes of the pandemic...

ZURU Launches Series 3 of Popular 5 Surprise Mini Brands Line.  The newest launch features the biggest collection yet, with more than 100 all new miniature versions of popular grocery and drugstore products. Some of the new teeny treats include Teddy Grahams, Hershey’s Chocolate, ICEE Slushies, and TGI Fridays.

Barbie honours vaccinologist Prof Dame Sarah Gilbert with one-of-a-kind doll  As well as Prof Gilbert, Barbie is honouring 5 other women in STEM around the world who it says are 'modern real-life heroes of the pandemic'. Prof Gilbert is the Saϊd Professor of Vaccinology at the University of Oxford and Project Leader for ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, a vaccine against the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 which is now in use in many countries...

Moose Toys Launches Blingle Bands Gem Friendship Bracelet Kits To celebrate National Friendship Day, Moose Toys launched Blingle Bands, a new craft kit series that combines diamond painting with wearable accessories. Kids ages 7 and up can follow the included templates or create their own designs by sticking colorful gems to the bracelet bands using a “dip, dot, bling” process.

MGA details Rainbow High autumn/winter launches.  MGA has seen strong growth for Rainbow High since its launch last year, retailing as the second top selling fashion doll for young girls. MGA Entertainment is also introducing its Winter Break Fashion Dolls range this month.  Rainbow High will also introduce the official designer collector doll, Jett Dawson.

Take on the Skatepark Nyjah Huston-Style with Spin Master's New Tech Deck Sets.  Six-time world champion skateboarder Nyjah Huston is sizing down his skatepark for some ultimate finger-shredding action. Spin Master‘s Tech Deck line is helping kids ages 6 and up bring this skate hero home with a set inspired by Huston’s private skatepark.

Golden Bear - Play today, protect tomorrow. Rachael Simpson-Jones found out about the company’s upcoming product launches, and why sustainability is currently taking centre stage. “I’ve never known a time filled with so many challenges outside our control,” says MD Barry Hughes at the start of our meeting, when asked how the company is faring. 

MGA Entertainment Drops a Little Tikes Dino Ride-on and a Massive L.O.L. Surprise Dollhouse.  The Little Tikes Chompin’ Dino Trike is a pedal-powered ride-on toy designed to look like a fearsome dinosaur. The new L.O.L. Surprise! House is a multi-story, wooden dollhouse that stands 4 feet tall and 4 feet wide, with four stories and 10 different rooms. 

Hasbro Builds up Its Monopoly Empire with a New Constructible Board Game.  Monopoly Builder, the newest addition to the Monopoly lineup, is Hasbro’s latest experiment that’s been recently released into major retailers. When players buy property in this iteration, they physically stack buildings with included builder’s blocks.

Funko Launches Philanthropic Pops! With Purpose Initiative to Debut at FunKon Auction.  The philanthropic mission connects Funko Pop! characters to causes that are important to the Funko community. Pops! With Purpose will debut through an auction at this year’s FunKon, which runs through Friday. 

Hasbro Reveals New Kid-Friendly Star Wars Lightsaber Forge Series. Customizable lightsabers are nothing new, but Hasbro is back with some new one with their brand new Lightsaber Forge series. This kid-friendly series continues the legacy of padawans creating their own unique weapons from the Star Wars universe.

Play-Doh has announced a Home Protection Service scheme designed to take the stress out of creating mess and encouraging kids to unleash their creativity. Play-Doh’s new Home Protection Service already has the stamp of approval from celebrity parents, including McFly’s Harry Judd, TV personality Ferne McCann, Author and TV presenter Candice Brathwaite and comedi-Mum Sophie McCartney, ...

Mattel launches environmentally focused UNO with artist and activist Shepard FaireyThe new deck has been designed by both Fairey and the UNO team at the artist’s LA studio, Studio Number One and features new, original environmentally-themed art in Fairey’s iconic graphic style and design elements. These elements include a consistent illustration style and colour palette to mirror the artist’s signature style.

Panda Mony to Release Alter Nation Phase 2 Action Figures. Setbacks from COVID-19 restrictions aren’t going to stop Panda Mony Toy Brands. Cancellations of the company’s 2020 live-event tour for its Toy-of-the-Year-nominated action figure brand, Alter Nation, compelled them to change their marketing approach, and even relocate to Tennessee. Alter Nation packaging indicated two new villains, Alpha and Bomber, would be...

The Insights Family expands again with new offices, new starters, and a new venture into Poland. The kids, parents, and family market intelligence outfit, The Insights Family is expanding once again; moving to a larger office space in Manchester city centre, opening a satellite office in Mayfair, London, welcoming three new starters to the company and launching its Kids Insights and Parents Insights businesses into Poland. 

Panini’s Premier League Adrenalyn XL returns for new season  The popular Premier League Adrenalyn XL Trading Card Game is back for the 2021/22 season with brand-new categories and a revamped look. With a stunning redesign, Panini’s world-renowned trading card game will hit shelves in the UK and Republic of Ireland on 5th August 2021, featuring top talent from across the Premier League.

Exploding Kittens announces two new games and jigsaw launch. Throw Throw Avocado and Exploding Kittens: Recipes for Disaster are the latest launches from the tabletop creator, which is also adding jigsaw puzzles to its range. Recipes for Disaster is the ultimate collection of favourite cards from the entire Exploding Kittens library in one box. New fans and experienced Exploding Kittens players can use the Recipe...

Mattel issues a pledge to be a better global citizen. Toy giant Mattel MAT +1% has written its 2020 Corporate Citizenship Report, a document that is both an assessment of its past efforts to be a good citizen of the world, and a promise to become an even better one. A big part of that pledge is a commitment to getting greener. In the report, an advance copy of which was shared by Mattel, the company reaffirms previously...

Wilder Toys, WowWee debut Masterchef Family Cooking Game. Families can get ready to gamify meal time with the latest board game from Wilder Toys and WowWee. In partnership with Endemol Shine North America, the companies are releasing the officially licensed MasterChef Family Cooking Game, inspired by the popular culinary competition series. 

Welcome to the Squishmallows quad! Population: SquishmillionHi, I’m Jack, and I’ll be your Squishmallows tour guide today. I’m the strong and silent type, butI’m always here when you need me. I’m not afraid to speak up for myself or for my friends. I can be a little feisty, but I love to cuddle. I love giving back and think we should always lend a helping hand.

Capstone Games asnnounces 'Boonlake'. Capstone Games announced Boonlake, a new board game by Alexander Pfister, for release into retail in mid-November. In this game, players assume the roles of pioneers that have left civilization to settle the shores of Boonlake, which has been abandoned by humans. Players will need to explore the landscape, build houses and settlements, raise cattle, and develop an...

Genius Brands expands ‘Rainbow Rangers’ global reachThe adventures of Rainbow Rangers are swinging into new countries around the world. Following the recent news that Never Wrong Toys inked a deal to serve as master toy partner for the property, Genius Brands International revealed new broadcast and streaming deals to expand the reach of Rainbow Rangers to entertain audiences on a global scale.

'No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die' in 'Spectre: The Board Game'. Modiphius Entertainment revealed SPECTRE: The Board Game, a new 007 villain-themed board game, which will release in spring of 2022. In SPECTRE: The Board Game, players assume the roles iconic villains from the James Bond films vying for the opportunity to become SPECTRE’s Number One operative.

First Huffy bikes head to the UK as brand plans ‘huge development strategy’ for the market. The first shipment of Huffy bikes are now heading for the UK in a move that marks the beginning of a ‘huge brand development strategy’ for the company and its European distributor, United Wheels UK. The update follows the recent news of United Wheels UK’s expansion into Europe and its plans to have stock available to ...

Luma Imports will release 'Museum: Pictura' into U.S. retail. Luma Imports will release Museum: Pictura, a new set collection game, into U.S. retail in Q4. In Museum: Pictura, players take on the roles of curators in an art museum. Their goal is create collections of epic works of art for spectacular displays. 

Osprey seeks the unknown in 'Cryptid: Urban Legends'. The designers behind Osprey Games’ 2018 title Cryptid return to the hunt with the all-new head-to-head deduction game Cryptid:  Urban Legends, releasing in April 2022. In Cryptid:  Urban Legends, one player takes on the role of a scientist trying to capture the cryptid:  an unproven and possibly mythical creature that has made its home somewhere in the city.  T

Ravensburger NA reveals new 'Horrified' game. Ravensburger NA revealed Horrified: American Monsters, a standalone board game, for first release in October into Target stores. This game is a follow-up to 2019's Horrified, which featured the Universal Monsters. Horrified: American Monsters focuses on the monsters of American legend such as Bigfoot, Mothman, the Jersey Devil, the Chupacabra, and more. 

Thwart Cobra's evil schemes in 'G.I. Joe Deck-Building Game'. Renegade Game Studios will release G.I. Joe Deck-Building Game in October. Renegade has tapped another Hasbro IP that was included in their licensing expansion agreement (see " More Hasbro Brands For Games"). In G.I. Joe Deck-Building Game, players recruit Joes and Vehicles to send them to complete Missions that are included in the Story Pack. 

Minifigures Marvel Studios (71031) from LEGO. LEGO has a new Marvel-themed minifigure collection that ties directly into the original television series on the Disney+ streaming service. Minifigures Marvel Studios (71031) features 12 new figures, including The Scarlet Witch, The Vision, and Monica Rambeau from WandaVision; the Winter Soldier and Captain America from The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki s …

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

The Nintendo Switch has sold 89 million units in just over four yearsThe Nintendo Switch is closing in on 90 million sales after just over four years on shelves. According to Nintendo's latest fiscal report, the console has now sold 89.04 million units since launching in March 2017. For context, that's more than six times the amount its predecessor, the Wii U, managed during its entire lifespan. 

Fast-paced FPS RICO London arriving on PC and consoles this SeptemberNumskull Games and developer Ground Shatter will be releasing their fast-paced FPS RICO London on 2nd September on Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo Switch and PC via Steam.  In this ode to arcade games of times past, players will travel back to the turn of the millennium where they will take on the notorious and violent gangs that run London’s...

HP is flooding the zone with seven new gaming monitors. HP has gone on a tear and announced seven new gaming monitors in its X lineup, featuring a range of sizes, panel types, and resolutions, as well as some that are curved or flat-screened. It seems like HP is aiming to deliver a flurry of options that have a high refresh rate, low response time, competent design, and crucially, competitive prices.

Playdate sells out 2021 stock supply in less than 20 minutes. Pre-orders for the new handheld console Playdate opened on July 29, with over 20,000 consoles sold in less than 20 minutes, as confirmed by maker Panic. The Firewatch publisher allocated the set number of units to be shipped later in the year. Once those had sold out, the company continued to take orders for 2022. 

Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com has gaming ambitions. This is its strategyAt China Joy, one of Asia’s biggest gaming conferences held in Shanghai, e-commerce giant JD.com built a booth featuring the giant version of its dog mascot Joy, where gamers gathered to compete against one another. The display underscores JD.com’s ambition in the gaming space.

R2-D2 lands into Tamagotchi’s upcoming Star Wars lineup. Bandai America is introducing R2-D2 to some Tamagotchi TLC through a new lineup of licensed Star Wars products. Kids ages 8 and up will learn how to train, clean, and take care of Artoo just like any other digital pet in the toy. The R2-D2 Tamagotchi will be available in two, pocket-sized shells inspired by the droid’s design, accompanied by the iconic Tamagotchi ...

Facebook blocks Road 96 ad "for being political". Facebook has blocked adverts for adventure game Road '96, claiming that the content shown does not comply with the platform's policy for social, electoral, or political messaging. Speaking with Axios, Road 96 developer Yoan Fanise said that initially that he thought the decision was a joke. 

The Witcher: Monster Slayer reaches 1m downloads in a weekThe Witcher: Monster Slayer has amassed one million downloads in a week after launch.The country that has downloaded the game the most was Poland according to Sensor Tower, which is also where its developer is located. Additionally, within a week of launch the game has generated over $500,000 in player spending. 

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Activision Blizzard 

Activision Blizzard to 'set the example' on inclusion, weeks after gaslighting victims. Two weeks after Activision Blizzard described a harassment lawsuit filed against it as "distorted" and "false," company CEO Bobby Kotick claims the publisher will now "set the example" on inclusion and equality in the games industry. 

Activision Blizzard faces class action for 'misleading' investors in lead up to DFEH lawsuit. Activision Blizzard is now staring down another lawsuit, this time one that hopes to rally Activision Blizzard investors against the company. This latest legal complaint takes the form of a class action accusing leadership of misleading investors in the leadup to the California DFEH lawsuit filed against it last month. 

Activision Blizzard staff reject company's choice of law firm. Employee group continues to ask leadership to address their demands for a better workplace. Activision Blizzard employees today sent a joint letter to CEO Bobby Kotick and leadership denouncing the company's choice for hiring law firm WilmerHale. 

Blizzard president J. Allen Brack is out after sexual harassment suit, employee walkout. In the last week or so, we’ve learned about the state of California filing a lawsuit against Blizzard citing numerous stories of sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination at the company. The revelations have been followed by even more stories of unacceptable behavior by leaders of the co., and now the president ...

Blizzard’s head of HR is out. Blizzard president J. Allen Brack isn’t the only executive leaving the company today after presiding over a culture now accused of fostering “constant sexual harassment.” Jesse Meschuk, the company’s head of global human resources, has also now departed, an Activision Blizzard spokesperson confirmed to Bloomberg and to The Verge.

The perfect storm striking World of Warcraft. There's trouble in the World of Warcraft. Not from a rampaging dragon or a demon army attacking the land of Azeroth, but from some unhappy players who, after 17 years, have had enough. On YouTube, Reddit and Twitter, there are stories about people leaving the game. Some cite long delays for new content in a game that charges a monthly fee; others are annoyed...

Blizzard vet and Undead Labs founder urges employees, industry to unionize. Jeff Strain, a longtime industry veteran and regular company founder has penned a letter urging the game development world and his own employees to unionize. Strain’s letter comes after a week of explosive headlines driven by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing’s lawsuit against Activision Blizzard...

Activision Blizzard's nasty frat-boy culture is an industry-wide ailment | Opinion. The roots of a culture enabling harassment and discrimination are found across the industry - and only structural change will dig them out. To say that companies in the games industry are generally pretty awful at handling reports and allegations of abuse, harassment or bigotry within their workplaces is a pretty strong candidate...

If Activision Blizzard wants to change, it must fire much of its executive team. I’ve been preoccupied with my health lately, so I haven’t said anything about Activision Blizzard, a company I know and have worked with (for example, I led the teams that did the tabletop RPG adaptations of Starcraft and Diablo). As I’m late to the subject, I won’t give you another rundown of the horrible allegations described in charges...

 

Toy Safety & Counterfeit Related Articles . . .

Which? survey highlights unsafe toys on sale on online marketplaces.  New Which? research has revealed that, although toys bought through online marketplaces should be held to the same safety standards as those sold in physical stores or through a recognised online retailer, a test of 28 toys bought from AliExpress, Amazon Marketplace, eBay and Wish found that 12 toys – or more than 40% of those tested...

Canada. Puzzles sold at Toys “R” Us recalled due to choking hazardHealth Canada is recalling four different children’s puzzles sold at Toys “R” Us stores across Canada because they could pose a choking hazard. The four Woodlets lifting puzzles are being recalled because the small plastic pegs, which are used to lift the puzzle pieces, can detach from the metal screw holding the peg in place, which poses a choking hazard.

Urgent recall of baby toys over suffocation fears. The ACCC has issued an urgent warning to parents after recalling on two popular baby products. Three children’s rattles from popular baby brand Little Ones Collective do not comply with size and shape safety standards and have been found to be dangerous for children aged up to 36 months. 

Pool toys are contaminating waterways with glitter and microplasticsAs we move into August, some people are tempted to bring pool floaties and other plastic pool toys to lakes and rivers. Researchers at UC Davis are urging people to leave those floaties at home. If the toys rip or break, their glitter and microbeads are like a microplastic bomb that's impossible to clean up. . 

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Highlighted Press Releases . . . 

IT’S CREEPY AND KOOKY, MYSTERIOUS AND SPOOKY; JABBERIN’ JACK HAS A KNACK FOR IMPRESSING TECHIES.  Last August, Animat3D™ High-Tech Jabberin’ Jack Sold Out Weeks Before Most Families Thought About Halloween So Be Forewarned This Summer!  Glendale, CA (August 5, 2021) – Anyone can carve two eyes and a mouth on a pumpkin. But it takes a gadget guru or a techie to appreciate a jack-o-lantern with eyes that blink, mouth that moves and an entire conversation that emanates from a round orange fruit! Be on the lookout for Jabberin’ Jack ($59.99) from Mindscope Products. He’s coming to a porch near you, but be forewarned, the singing, joking, talking holiday décor sold out last year in two quick weeks — way before anyone could say trick or treat. Find one, while they last, online at JabberinJack.com.

FAMILY-OWNED SMALL BUSINESS GOODTIMER PLEDGES $50,000 AMAZON INNOVATION AWARD TO ST. JUDE’S–VOTE NOW AND DO SOME GOOD! Vote for Parent-invented Goodtimer now through August 21 to Support Patented Positive Parenting Device and a Great Cause.  Mammoth marketplace Amazon.com established the Amazon Launchpad Innovation Grant program to support big ideas from small brands. In March, Goodtimer was selected from thousands of innovative products as a Launchpad Innovation Grant winner and is now one of just 14 finalists in the 2021 Amazon Launchpad Innovator of the Year contest. Voting by the public opens August 1st and runs through August 21st and if voted the winner, Goodtimer plans to contribute the $50,000 Innovator of the year contest prize including a generous donation of Goodtimers to St. Jude’s...

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

Back to business at Autumn Fair  For toy retailers looking forward to an opportunity to see new ranges in person, Autumn Fair will take place from 5th to 8th September. All attendees to this year’s show will have to show proof of their Covid-19 status, organisers Hyve Group have announced. This means either having two vaccinations, a negative lateral flow test, or evidence of natural immunity.

Voting Opens for 2022 Toy Industry Hall of Fame InducteesThe Toy Association is gearing up to welcome a new class of inductees into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame. Since 1984, the Toy Industry Hall of Fame has honored outstanding individuals who have made impactful contributions to the toy industry and The Toy Association.

Gen Con recently announced that would require people to wear masks at their upcoming 2021 convention in Indianapolis on Sept 16-19. Just under a month ago, Gen Con proudly announced that they wouldn't require attendees to wear masks if they could provide proof of vaccination at their on-site health check-in station. Since then, there has been a surge COVID-19 cases due to the B.1.617.2 (Delta)...

THE TOY ASSOCIATION FORMS AN INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE TO TACKLE GLOBAL INDUSTRY ISSUES. The Toy Association recently expanded its ability to tackle global regulations, threats, and opportunities on behalf of toy and play companies in key markets worldwide by forming a new International Committee.

(the above posted after August 6th)

ASTRA Marketplace & Academy Product Showcase by aNbMedia

Virtual Licensing Expo 2021 Preview by aNbMedia

ASTRA’s insights: 5 reasons to join astra todayLooking back, we never could have imagined what we would all face in 2020 and well into 2021. And yet, we made it, and things are definitely turning a corner toward a more personal and interactive world. How did we make it through? For many of us in the toy industry, staffs were cut, budgets were revised, and plans were changed. 

The BTHA launches new Make Time 2 Play podcast  The podcast series will comprise six weekly episodes, with the first, featuring Dr Aric Sigman on the benefits of physical play, out now. The BTHA’s Make Time 2 Play campaign, which provides parents and carers with hundreds of free play ideas, tips and information on the benefits of play, has now released its first podcast series.

UK Spring Fair announces 4-day show and late-night openings  Organiser Hyve Group says it has listened to the needs of exhibitors and attendees in shortening the annual trade show by one day. With input from over 3,500 exhibitors, buyers and partners, Spring Fair has announced that it will become a four-day show. The new show dates run from Sunday 6th – Wednesday 9th Feb 2022 at NEC Birmingham...

Toy Association Introduces STEAM Accreditation Program.  Accredited toys will receive The Toy Association’s official “STEAM Stamp of Approval” for use in marketing campaigns, product packaging and listings, and all other digital and traditional marketing platforms. Any toy company or brand involved in the manufacture, design, and marketing of children’s STEAM products is invited to participate...

Registration is now open for this year’s UK Independent Toy & Gift show, the annual trade event that will be making its in-person return to Cranmore Park this September, following its 2020 hiatus at the hands of the coronavirus pandemic and government restrictions. Taking place from September 14th to 15th at its usual location at Cranmore Park in Solihull, the show will be open to all retailers....

The American Specialty Toy Retailing Assn (ASTRA) will usher in a new era of live events with its first in-person trade show since 2019. The 2021 ASTRA Marketplace & Academy, taking place Aug. 5-8, will welcome retailers and toymakers that are looking to get shelves stocked for a prosperous Q4 and holiday season. With the global supply chain issues still unfolding, this show will give all parties involved...

2021 Fence Club Golf Day hailed a successOver £30,000 was raised for the Fence Club charity at the event, which was held in June, with members out in force. The much awaited Fence Club Golf day was held on Wednesday 23rd June at the Oakdale Golf club in Harrogate.This was the first Fence Club event since the initial lockdown in 2020, and the organisers were...

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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.

Bill Burke - The licensing stalwart was known for his creative spark and love of sharing his extensive knowledge with interns. Bill Burke, a long-time licensing executive who joined Licensing International this year as SVP Marketing and Communications, passed away suddenly at his home on 9th August aged 55. Prior to joining Licensing International, Bill was SVP Marketing for CBS Consumer Products, where he led Global Marketing (including Retail), International Licensing, and Licensing Operations for such iconic brands as Star Trek. Before that, he held senior positions with such companies as HIT Entertainment, Sesame Workshop and Foot Locker. “Bill was already a beloved and admired person within the industry when he joined the Licensing International team in February,” said Maura Regan, president of Licensing international. “In his brief period with us, and for those who hadn’t the pleasure of working with him previously, he quickly became a friend, creative spark and trusted sounding board for everyone on staff. It’s a measure of the man that he particularly enjoyed mentoring our interns, making sure that they got as much out of us as we got out of them. We will miss him personally and professionally.”

He is survived by his wife Patty, daughter Erin and son Ryan.

Jack Hirsch, founding U.S. president of VTech Electronics North America. Hirsch began his career with Jewel Companies as a buyer and merchandiser in the 1950s and then with Mattel handling sales in the early 1970s. He also founded Waddingtons House of Games in the U.S. and worked as a representative of VTech toys before making the transition to the company’s founding president in the U.S. He served as president until 1991, when he moved into the role of Chairman of the Board. He remained actively involved in daily business activities for many years, before transitioning to an advisor role. “We were incredibly sad to learn of Jack Hirsch’s passing,” said Andy Keimach, president of VTech Electronics North America. “As VTech Electronics North America’s founding president in the U.S., Jack was a pioneer of electronic learning products with a lifetime of dedication to the toy industry. His contributions will never be forgotten as his legacy lives on through the company and resonates throughout the toy industry.”

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Weekly Top Stories from Toy and Game Trade Magazines Worldwide . . . 

 

Toy Trade Monthly Issues

Adventure Media & Events (US)

aNb Media (US)

  1. Jess Richardson Promoted at Hasbro

  2. Jazwares Hires New Costume Play Team

  3. ASTRA Marketplace & Academy 2021 Product Showcase

  4. The August 2021 Issue of TFE Magazine is Here

  5. The Toy Association Supports Members Amid Global Shipping Crisis

  6. Nicole Gates Promoted at Dr. Seuss Enterprises

  7. The Toy Association Unveils STEAM Accreditation Program

  8. Design Edge: Tips for Networking Success

  9. Back Open for Business: Independent Toy Retailers Reflect on 2020

  10. Licensing International: The Licensing Industry Charts its Post-Pandemic Course

ToyWorld (UK)

  1. Blurred lines …it’s the Friday Blog!

  2. The August issue of Toy World is out now

  3. Jazwares adds new commercial and licensing directors in European growth drive

  4. Which? survey highlights unsafe toys on sale on online marketplaces

  5. Barbie honours vaccinologist Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert with one-of-a-kind doll

  6. Spin Master reports Q2 2021 results

  7. US furnishings company instigates legal action against ‘collusive’ ocean carriers

  8. Nickelodeon tournament marks launch of Akedo Ultimate Arcade Warriors

  9. MGA details Rainbow High autumn/winter launches

  10. Toynamics exceeding expectations

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

WizKids Reveals Two New 'Critical Role' Character Sets
Steve Aoki Becomes a Full Equity Partner at MetaZoo Games
Webbed Sphere, Inc. Acquires Flying Buffalo, Inc.
Ravensburger NA Reveals New 'Horrified' Game
Cards Against Humanity Weighing Sale
Add Unique Miniatures from 'Critical Role's' Exandria to RPG Sessions
Thwart Cobra's Evil Schemes in 'G.I. Joe Deck-Building Game'
Preview: 'D&D Icons of the Realms Miniatures: Snowbound' Miniatures
Rolling For Initiative -- Three More Effective Promotions
Gale Force Nine Announces 'Dune: Betrayal'

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

LEGO® opens its largest store in Chile 

Barbie brings honors to Lucille Ball 

Star Wars joins Tamagotchi 

TOYS Magazine (Germany) - posted once a month

The Bugg Report (Australia)​​

Casual Game Revolution

News Flash: Cryptid Sequel Announced, Pop-Up Book Board Game
Osprey Games has announced a two-player sequel to Cryptid, a board game with a pop-up book-style board has been announced, and a World of Warcraft game using the Pandemic game system is in the works.

 

Video of the Week! 

Global Perspective Future of Toy Fairs and International Markets CHITAG POP Int'l Innovati

After debuting on our POP Week Event Platform to over 13,700 viewers,  we have moved our panel discussions to YouTube and ar sharing them almost every week here on the Bloom Report! 

Global Perspective: Future of Toy Fairs and International Markets

Moderator: Richard Gill (Vice President Int'l, PlayMonster)

Panelists: JM Duparc (Chief Creation, Identity Games), Jenni Jalava (Product Category Director, Martinex),

Bob Fuhrer (Owner at Nextoy and KenKen Puzzle), Jacqueline Vong (Principal & Co-Founder, Playology Intl), Stephan Van Hacht (Manging Director, MegaBleu)

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

 

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

We are honored to carry on Phil's 22 year legacy and continue the Bloom Report. Phil has been a mensch

and we've loved working with him. Here is a fun and interesting interview with Phil.

If you would like to reach Phil: philip.bloom100@verizon.net   

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

Managing Editor: Graeme Thomson

Assistant Editor: Patrick Fisher

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