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June 17 - 24, 2022

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Welcome to Your Weekly News Brief!

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Happy Bloomin’ Friday!

As promised last week, here are the fun photos from our ASTRA pub event

David Yakos's quote below is a reminder of how powerful our POP database is... especially if you add your skills and expertise to your profile and use its many features to build your network! If you have questions, contact me! A major media network is currently searching POP for experts in topics such as the history of video games, action figures, toy designers, dolls/plush toys, building sets, puzzles and tech boosted toys. Update your POP profile now! 

​Thank you for reading the Bloom Report. If you can't wait for the news to arrive each Friday, check out the new Bloom Report 24/7 News Feed and share with your colleagues! 

Mary

"I highly recommend that if anyone in this industry wants to be found, they join POP and fill out the skills and expertise section of their POP Profiles. I've had companies and a major media network reach out to me for a show based on my skills and expertise after finding me on POP." - David Yakos, Founder of Streamline Design and Co-Owner of Salient Technologies

 

"I am a long-time reader and champion of the Bloom Report. The quantity of quality articles on so many different aspects of our industry  is unmatched and  I regularly share and discuss them with my management team as an important business tool." 

- Jim Engle, President and Founder, Little Kids Inc. 

"I don't know anyone in the industry that doesn't read the Bloom Report." -Ken Lewis, President, 4Kidz, Inc.

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Columnist - Nancy Zwiers 

We Teach What We Allow

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I recently heard a funny story from a friend. 

 

Married for 40 years, my friend told me how her husband kept forgetting her birthday, even though it was the day before his.  As additional context, she shared that she disproportionately took on homemaking responsibilities though out their marriage (even though both spouses worked), and now in their mutual retirement. 

  • My friend was finally fed up with not being acknowledged on her special day. She wanted to send a message to her husband after yet another missed birthday. The next day on his own birthday, he woke up to a gift—a round plastic “I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter” container with a festive ribbon tied around it.  He opened it to discover a pile of warm steaming dog sh*t.  Ouch—message received! 

 

I laughed at the story and repeated a phrase I had heard years ago:  We Teach What We Allow.

 

Hmmm…we teach what we allow.  Let’s face it: we are all motivated to often overlook irritations, infractions, and injustices in the interest of keeping the peace.  But, at what cost?  Is it indeed better to let negative behaviors pile up?

READ MORE...

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People of the Week - Blip Toys’ Bill Nichols Peter Cmiel

THOUGHTFUL NEW TAKE ON CLASSIC PLAY CONCEPTS

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With over two decades in the toy industry, Blip Toys is still creatively cranking out well-thought-out, creative interpretations of proven play patterns -  kicking them up, just a notch.  Led by co-owners Bill Nichols and Peter Cmiel, Blip Toys is known as fast-reacting, trend-driven creators of high-volume toy action figures, activity toys, collectibles and outdoor toy concepts that also boast a TOTY win for their mega hit Squinkies. 

 

So what’s new for 2022?

 

Two radically new interpretations of classic brands - Zip Linx and GIGABOTS ENERGY CORES.
 

Nichols, who had extensive toy experience in sales, and Cmiel, an established toy inventor, joined forces to create the company in 2000. The pair began by developing unique IP concepts for a variety of toy companies and retailers. Using Nichols' connections and Cmiel’s track record developing and licensing dozens successful brands, the two thought it was time to begin creating and manufacturing their own product lines in the novelty and seasonal categories. The transition was seamless… and the innovation had only just begun.

 

 READ MORE...

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3 Truths and a Lie of the Week - Naomi Brugnatelli

To be part of the game, all you need is a POP Profile with your Fun Facts completed and let us know! We'll do the rest! 

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Financial and Legal

FOUR YEARS AFTER CLOSING, FORMER TOYS ‘R’ US EXECS STILL FACE TRIAL BY JURY REGARDING FRAUD CLAIMSIt was four years ago today — June 29, 2018 — that the final store from the original version of Toys “R” Us closed its doors for the last time. While the company continues to exist in various forms around the world, including more than 900 stores and e-commerce sites, Toys “R” Us is in the midst of a comeback bid in...

 

Starfleet Innotech announced today it has entered into an agreement with N.A. based toy manufacturing and licensing powerhouse PPM Toys to jointly explore an acquisition towards accelerating both companies’ global growth efforts. Through this partnership, formalized with a signed Letter of Intent, SFIO will be pursuing a majority ownership interest in PPM Toys, supporting the company’s continued growth into int'l... 

 

Ghost Galaxy, Inc., a new company owned by Fantasy Flight Games Founder Christian Petersen’s venture vehicle Strange Stars LLC, has acquired the intellectual property and card game rights to KeyForge from Fantasy Flight, the companies announced. Keyforge, introduced in 2018 and designed by Richard Garfield, was a card game sold in a format in which each deck was unique.  Production problems prevented...

 

Niantic, the augmented-reality games company behind “Pokémon Go,” is letting go about 8% of its workforce and has scrapped several game titles it had in development, including “Transformers: Heavy Metal.” The company is laying off 85-90 employees, Niantic CEO John Hanke said in a memo to staff Wednesday, which was first reported by Bloomberg. Niantic needs to “further streamline our operations in order...

***The above posted after June 4th***

 

China’s Covid-19 outbreak is shifting to its south coast, with a flareup in technology hub Shenzhen triggering mass testing and a lockdown of some neighborhoods, while gambling enclave Macau -- an hour’s drive away -- is racing to stop its first outbreak in eight months.  The new cases come as China’s two most important cities, Beijing and Shanghai, look to be subduing the virus after months of strict...

Kids2, a global company that designs holistic solutions to help early-stage parents and families, has announced the acquisition of Summer Infant, a leader in premium infant and juvenile products. Summer Infant, which includes SwaddleMe, joins the Kids2 Group umbrella of entities, including renowned brands Baby Einstein, Ingenuity, and Bright Starts.

A long-running EU engagement with TikTok — initiated following a series of complaints over child safety and consumer protection complaints filed back in Feb. 2021 — has ended, for now, with the video sharing platform offering a series of commitments to improve user reporting and disclosure requirements around ads/sponsored content; and also to boost transparency around its digital coins and virtual gifts.

 

Leaders from some of the UK’s biggest retailers, including Amazon and Asda, are to hold talks with a Treasury minister Lucy Frazer today (Wednesday) as fears grow that the government will halt any plans to bring in an online sales tax. Retail executives will meet with Ms Frazer, financial secretary to the Treasury, to make their case for reform of the business rates system and the introduction of an online sales tax...

 

Streaming service Kidoodle.TV has received an equity investment from Canada’s TriWest Capital Partners, bringing the total value of its fundraising efforts to US$62 million. The deal values the company, owned by Canada’s A Parent Media Co. (APMC), at US$465 million and brings TriWest managing director Jon Spencer onto its board of directors.  Available in more than 160 global markets...

Activision shareholders vote to re-elect board, including Bobby Kotick. Majority voted for executive compensation package, while 95% were against the nomination of a employee representative. A majority of Activision Blizzard shareholders have voted in favor of re-electing the firm's ten directors to the board, including CEO Bobby Kotick. 

 

Activision Blizzard shareholders approve annual report on harassment. Activision Blizzard shareholders have approved a proposal made by the New York State Comptroller that would require the company to issue an annual report on how the company is preventing sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. The vote is non-binding. New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli issued the proposal in February. 

 

Gift Universe acquires Prezzybox to strengthen position in gifting market. The acquisition of Prezzybox by the parent company of gifts and gadgets retailer Menkind follows that of Hawkin’s Bazaar in November. Gift Universe, parent company of gifts and gadgets retailer Menkind, has officially completed the acquisition of Prezzybox, an established brand in the gifting industry. 

 

Microsoft confirms supply issues are causing Xbox gamepad shortages. Microsoft says supply disruptions are causing a shortage of Xbox Wireless Controllers in multiple regions around the world. As reported by VGC, some major retailers in countries including Australia, France, and the Netherlands are struggling to keep up with demand. 

 

McKinsey: Metaverse may create $5 trillion in value by 2030. Expressing a sense of optimism about the experimental space, a report released this month by McKinsey & Company estimates the metaverse will generate up to $5 trillion in impact by 2030. The impact varies by industry, with an estimated $2 to $2.6 trillion impact specifically on e-commerce. 

 

New data suggests inflation is finally slowing U.S. retail sales. Following months of growth that bucked the trend, the impact of rampant inflation on U.S. consumers’ wallets has finally made a slight, but noticeable dent at the cash register. New data released by the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Retail Federation (NRF) reflects slowing growth from month to month. 

 

Activision Blizzard investigated Activision Blizzard and found Activision Blizzard didn’t do anything wrong. Amid all the news on Overwatch 2 and Diablo Immortal, Activision Blizzard has filed a document with the US Securities and Exchange Commission in which it affirms that, after an internal investigation, it concluded its own board did not fail to act when presented with allegations of harassment.

TikTok agrees to improve protections for children. Under pressure from the European Commission, ByteDance, owner of the video-sharing app TikTok, has agreed to do more to protect children from hidden advertising and inappropriate content. The Chinese-owned company fell under the spotlight in February last year following complaints from the European Consumer Organization (BEUC) that it was failing to comply...

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Stories, Comments, and Advice

Confessions of a Comic Book Guy by Steve Bennett digs into Archie & Friends: Summer Lovin’ #1, an upcoming Harley Quinn: The Animated Series one shot, and the Lightyear movie. Back on June 8, I wrote that I was looking forward to reading Archie & Friends: Summer Lovin’ #1 because it featured the story “Carnival Love!"  by Tee Franklin and Dan Parent which introduced Riverdale’s new resident, Franklin’s...

 

Louis Vuitton inserts yellow racetrack into Louvre courtyard for Spring Summer 2023 show. LA-based studio PlayLab Inc has created a magnified playground with a winding, yellow toy racetrack at the Musée de Louvre for Louis Vuitton's Spring Summer 2023 menswear show during Paris Fashion Week. Set in the Carré du Louvre, one of the main courtyards at the former Parisian palace, the show took place on 23 June...

 

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade on Friday, most major Hollywood companies are informing employees they will cover travel costs for those journeying out of state for abortions. The decision, which is expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half of U.S. states, has sparked companies including Disney, Netflix, Comcast, Paramount, Warner Bros. Discovery, Sony, WME...

 

Trinity Catholic College biology students design toys for zoo animals. Year 11 biology students from Trinity Catholic College were recently set a challenge to entertain a very specific audience. Meerkats, cheetahs and otters were presented with a variety of toys designed by the students. Biology teacher Belinda McLean said students were required to complete a depth study each year.

 

Fisher-Price Plastic Food Giving Kids Unrealistic Expectation That There Will Be Enough Food. In a severe backlash from parents on social media, toy manufacturer Fisher-Price was hit with criticism Monday over their plastic food reportedly giving kids unrealistic expectations that there will be enough food. (story from the Onion)

Can video games teach people to be more empathetic? Maybe. Designers and scholars say there are many complex challenges and limits in achieving such a goal. In the video game “Path Out,” the main character, Abdullah, is a 17-year-old Muslim youth lost in the forests of northern Syria during his country’s civil war. The game player must help him flee, dodging land mines and gunfire and passing through...

 

Video game industry on the end of Roe: I’m ‘not proud to be an American’. Streamers, game developers and brands that reach millions of young people expressed frustration and disappointment over the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling. Two thirds of Americans play video games, and the average age of someone who plays is 33 yrs old, according to a recent report published by the Entertainment Software Association...

 

***The above posted after June 14th***

 

John Baulch, Toy World UK: Planes, trains and automobiles…it’s the Friday Blog! I am just coming to the end of my first ‘proper’ holiday in 3 yrs – by the time you read this, I will be about to head home. Have I missed anything? I assume the airports are all running smoothly now, so my trip back will be hassle-free. And surely the price of petrol must be on its way down? If not, I guess there is always rail travel as an alternative?

CONFESSIONS OF A COMIC BOOK GUY -- SENATORS ATTACK NETFLIX, NEW ‘ASTRO BOY,’ AND ‘POPEYE’ NEWS It’s still Pride Month and there’s still a lot to write about, like, the recent premiere of Netflix's Dead End: Paranormal Park, features Barney, the first trans lead character in an animated series who is voiced by a transgender actor, singer, and comedian Zach Barack. Based on Hamish Steele's DeadEndia graphic novel ...

 

Star Wars X-Wing Fighter model used in George Lucas’ 1977 sci-fi epic fetched an astonishing $2.3 million at auction Tuesday night, according to Prop Store Auction. The screen-matched Red Leader X-Wing miniature model created by Industrial Light & Magic was estimated to go for $500,000 to $1 million. The final price was $2,375,000, according to the auction house.

 

Inviting kids to participate in building products and content isn’t just fun for them, it’s also great for business, says a wide-ranging new report from a coalition of kid-focused stakeholders. Sesame Workshop and The LEGO Group, along with SuperAwesome and KidsKnowBest, have published “Kids included: Enabling meaningful child participation within companies in a digital era.” In its 58 pages, the report outlines best...

THE INSIGHTS FAMILY I Why embracing multiple touchpoints is key for kids’ IPs. A global leader in kids, parents, and family market intelligence, The Insights Family surveys more than half a million kids and parents every year, providing real-time data on their attitudes, behaviours and consumption patterns.

Shopping in stores is back and thriving. Here's why. The Covid-19 pandemic was expected to turn us all into permanent online shoppers, never to set foot in physical stores again. Instead, consumers have apparently gotten tired of ordering everything while sitting on the couch and have returned to shopping the old-fashioned way.

 

Hong Kong’s Floating Restaurant Sinks at Sea, Laden With Memories. Jumbo Floating Restaurant, which closed in 2020, capsized in the South China Sea after being towed from the city. The sinking triggered nostalgia for a happier period of Hong Kong history. When tugboats towed Jumbo Floating Restaurant away from Hong Kong last week, the giant vessel’s owner sent the public its “best wishes for a brighter future.” 

 

Bringing Roblox’s Toyetic Nature To Life.  In part two of our Roblox miniseries, Kidscreen looks at how toycos are mining the platform for toyetic IPs and game mechanics that can translate into kid-focused consumer products. Roblox has been around since 2006, but major brands like Nike and the NFL are really only now starting to explore the platform in search of ways they can incorporate the game into their existing marketing...

 

Hong Kong’s refusal to ease Covid rules dismays business chambers. International business leaders and consulates have urged the outgoing Carrie Lam to ease the region’s restrictions, to no avail. Hong Kong’s outgoing chief executive, Carrie Lam, has explicitly stated that she won’t ‘give in a single inch’ to calls from business groups to relax the regions strict Covid-19 quarantine and testing measures.

FIRST WONDER WOMAN APPEARANCE BRINGS SEVEN FIGURES. The hammer dropped on Heritage Auctions’ Comics & Comic Art Signature Auction last weekend, and the first appearance of Wonder Woman brought seven figures.  All Star Comics #8 in CGC NM 9.4 Off-white to white pages finished at $1.62 million, reflecting its rare status in that condition. 

 

Bad news for crypto miners is good news for gamers. While GPU prices have steadily fallen over the past few months, the ongoing cryptocurrency crash appears to be expediting the return to MSRP. As Tom’s Hardware reports, GPU prices decreased by around 15% in May following drops of 10% to 15% in the months prior. In some cases, prices are dropping below recommended pricing.

 

Kidcos are stepping up to entertain Ukrainian kids displaced from their homes. Mattel, Nickelodeon, Sky and BBC are among several cos. providing content for free to YouTube channel Sunflower TV, which is launching July 11 to offer full-length Ukrainian-language children’s programming. The channel has amassed roughly 200 hours of content so far, targeting preschoolers and six to 11s. Close to 50 dubbed...

Devs discuss how mass shootings hit their mental health. The horrific mass shooting in Uvalde, TX where 18-year old Salvador Ramos fatally shot nineteen students and two teachers at an elementary school has rocked the entire country. While broader news coverage of the story has focused on how police failures on the scene possibly contributed to more deaths, game developers who work on games that center...

 

Tell us what kids toy you think (or hope) will get a movie next. Having conquered the hearts and minds of 90s kids with the Toy Story films, Pixar’s Lightyear is the franchise’s first attempt at a big, non-holiday short spinoff. The result is a movie that’s not half bad—if a little muddled about what exactly it is to a memetic degree—and manages to work thanks in part to Chris Evans’ surprisingly well-voiced commitment …

 

Why Striker sees Roblox as licensing’s next frontier. Licensing agencies are scouring Roblox’s huge library of independently created games, characters and accessories as the next frontier for consumer products and media adaptations. For LA-based Striker Entertainment, Roblox is an attractive place to focus its attentions for two reasons: One, its free-to-play structure makes it widely accessible to younger audiences...

 

How FOMO in the metaverse can backfire for brands. Every other day there’s a new announcement about another brand investment or experience in the metaverse. Brands across industries, from fast food and beverage to healthcare and fintech companies, are exploring ways they can leverage this expanding channel. But one of the common pitfalls brands are making is copycase experiences...

 

Will Deal Days help Target clear its inventory? Target is bringing back Deal Days, its answer to Amazon.com’s Prime Day, with big discounts and gift card rewards on product categories across its stores and target.com. The promotion, running July 11-13, may be just what Target’s general ledger needs to kick off the third quarter. The retailer lowered its forecast for the second quarter and said it would mark down merchandise...

 

Bringing Roblox’s toyetic nature to life. Roblox has been around since 2006, but major brands like Nike and the NFL are really only now starting to explore the platform in search of ways they can incorporate the game into their existing marketing strategies. Some toycos, however, are going a different route and looking at Roblox as a source of indie IPs with consumer product potential. 

 

Why retailers should plan now for year-end mega sales. Digital shopping habits formed during the pandemic continue to be relevant to consumers, despite them returning to stores in the new era, with retailers advised to plan now for end-of-year mega sales. On behalf of Facebook parent Meta, YouGov researched more than 18,000 consumers aged 18 or more across the Asia Pacific region asking about their...

 

Finding the sweet spot to get gaming influencer marketing right. The gaming universe is thriving. Consumers of all ages and backgrounds have shown their willingness to invest money in gaming. They're also putting in hefty amounts of time, as both active participants and consumers. In 2021 alone, gaming enthusiasts clocked more than 100 billion hours watching YouTube gaming. Did you catch that? 

 

Escaping the retail supply chain squeeze. “The essence of flexibility is in the mind of the commander; the substance of flexibility is in logistics,” the US Navy’s great planning thinker, Rear Admiral Henry E. Eccles, once said. The past two years have required retailers to exercise every bit of agility and creativity they have been able to muster to navigate the challenges of COVID-19, the inexorable rise of online sales and supply chain ...

 

Opinion: Why Lego is the best toy ever invented. Lego was my favorite toy as a kid. My best friend and I would spend countless hours crouched over a giant pile of bricks, using our own Lego language -- hundreds of names for hundreds of different pieces -- to communicate which one we needed and what we were building. 

 

Adults who love toys? The toy industry loves them, too. Chloe Dykstra’s seven Razor scooters have entertained her throughout the pandemic. During lockdown, she also occupied herself building a Lego typewriter. Now she’s eyeing a Sea-Monkeys Aquarium pet hatching kit. Although the toys were designed for kids, that doesn’t bother Dykstra, a 33-year-old writer and producer in Los Angeles. 

 

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History and Nostalgia

 

Do you ever wonder who first thought of Elmer’s Glue? Elmer’s glue was first introduced by the Borden Company in 1947. It was created by a team of chemists headed by Ashton Stull, the VP of the company’s chemical division from 1938 – 1968. The Borden Company was originally a dairy business, which is fitting because one of the prime ingredients in this early form of glue was casein, the protein in dairy milk. 

 

***The above posted after June 24th***

 

Do you ever wonder who first thought of Jelly Beans? Jelly beans got their start in America in the early 19th century; the first known mention of them occurred in a Boston newspaper in 1861, when candy maker William Schrafft ran an advertisement that urged citizens to buy jelly beans to send to Union soldiers. While they didn’t really appear in the news again, jelly beans became a mainstay at penny candy stores. 

Candid Camera Game from Lowell Toy Mfg.. “Smile! You’re on Candid Camera!” Released in 1963 by Lowell Toy Mfg. of Long Island City, New York, the Candid Camera Game was based on the popular hidden-camera reality TV show of the same name. From 2 to 4 players, ages 10 and up, attempted to outsmart and bluff each other to be the first to collect 12 Candid Camera cards. 

 

Presidents of the United States Figures from Marx. In 1953, shortly after Dwight Eisenhower was elected the 34th president of the United States, Marx toy company released a series of precision molded presidential figures in miniature. The Marx presidents stood about 2¾-inches tall and were manufactured from unpainted white resin. 

 

Remembering 9 classic outdoor toys from the 1990s. The first summer of the 1990s was over 30 years ago and though electronic toys were on the rise in households across the country, the decade offered up some very nostalgic classics to keep the kids outdoors. Toys in the '90s varied dramatically in size, as some were handheld while others came with a steering wheel. 

 

The top 10 classic toys that need to be made into modern movies. Have you gone “to Infinity and Beyond” to see one of yesteryear’s classic toys become a movie, which was really a toy inspired by a genuine “fake person”? Lightyear is a convoluted origin story of sorts, but it’s Pixar, so it’ll work. (And it has, In Hollywood, producers and screenwriters are always on the prowl for inspiration to create another movie...

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Licensing 

 

The Copyrights Group and McDonald’s have announced the launch of the first ever Paddington Happy Meal – with themed packaging, a diverse range of ten toys featuring the loveable bear in new and exciting outfits and a choice of two books from HarperCollins’ Children’s books based on The Adventures of Paddington TV series, The Magic Trick and The Monster Hunt.

 

Hasbro announced a partnership with the National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) for the highly anticipated re-launch of Starting Lineup, an iconic sports collectibles brand. The Starting Lineup collectible will also include an exclusive, officially licensed Panini NBA trading card. Launching this fall in partnership with Fanatics, a global digital sports platform, the...

 

World of Women (WoW), an NFT collective that focuses on women’s representation has partnered with Hasbro and WS Game Co. to create a never before seen Monopoly game.  The new game is called World of Women Galaxy Monopoly game and will be available exclusively to World of Women and World of Women Galaxy holders. The collection will be first distributed as an NFT and then it will be redeemable for a...

 

China's Alibaba Digital Media and Entertainment Group’s SVOD Youku has acquired the rights to broadcast 3D animated preschool series Hushabye Lullabye from distributor Beyond Rights. Produced by MaraKids, Hushabye Lullabye is a Scottish collaboration created in 2020 by Glasgow-based Sacha Kyle, an award-winning television and theatre director along with animation studios Once Were Farmers and Maramedia.

 

DeAPlaneta And GO-N Team Up For Monster Shaker. The companies are mixing up big plans for the book-to-TV adaptation, which sees a kid and his sister deal with the comedic consequences of unleashing crazy monsters into everyday life. It turns out cocktail shakers are not just a handy tool to mix drinks—they can also unleash monsters into the world.

 

Taboo And Gaumont Develop Indigenous-Inspired Kids Series. The Black Eyed Peas member, who is of Hopi/Shoshone and Mexican descent, is bringing First Nations philosophies into the kids TV space. Black Eyed Peas member Taboo and French prodco Gaumont “gotta feeling” their upcoming Indigenous-inspired kids series will have a positive effect on young audiences around the world.

King Features Syndicate, along with its local agent in Spain, Caravanserai, has announced that gaming phenomenon Cuphead is building on its successful international presence with a new clothing collection at ZARA, the Inditex Group’s popular apparel retailer. Cuphead, Mugman and other fan favourite characters are jumping off the screen and onto the runway with new apparel for adults and kids. 

 

Comic publisher Scout Comics & Entertainment and game publisher The Op have entered a “first look” agreement that will cover all Scout Comics properties. Under the agreement between the two companies, The Op will have the first opportunity to produce and develop board games based on all Scout Comics titles, such as Stabbity Bunny, White Ash, Eternus, and Unikorn.

In the newest Nintendo Direct Mini: Partner Showcase, Nintendo featured a broad variety of games from its diverse development and publishing partners coming to the system this year and into 2023. This includes the Nintendo Switch versions of three beloved Persona games, more details about the upcoming Mario + Rabbids sequel, 10 fan-favorite Mega Man games revived for the Nintendo...

 

WildBrain And Peacock Team Up For New Caillou Series. The long-running franchise about a curious four-year-old will reboot onto the US streamer alongside five previously-announced specials. With specials already in the works, WildBrain is expanding the Caillou universe even further with a new CG-animated series (52 x 11 minutes). The Toronto-based media company is teaming up with NBCUniversal’s streaming...

Teletubbies celebrate Pride with ellesse and GoGuy fashion collab.  WildBrain has teamed up with Italian sports and lifestyle brand ellesse and festival and streetwear clothing brand GoGuy for a limited-edition Teletubbies adult fashion collection to celebrate Pride 2022. The gender-fluid collection launched on Friday, 24 June and encompasses five colourful trend stories, reflective of each Teletubby character, ...

 

Genius Brands Int'l is gearing up to get into the kitchen with food personality Wolfgang Puck to produce a new animated series called Wolfgang Puck’s Secret Chef Academy.  The 52 x 11-min. show features five young students of Puck’s “secret” culinary school who scour the globe for new recipes and ingredients, all while working to outwit a villain who wants to out-chef Puck. Described as “James Bond meets Julia...

 

***The above was posted after June 24th***

 

Hit YouTube Channel TheOdd1sOut Gets Netflix Series Order. Animated series Oddballs from Netflix and Atomic Cartoons builds on the funny video series created by James Rallison for his audience of almost 18 million subscribers. Created by Rallison and writer/producer Ethan Banville (Terrific Trucks), the 12 x 15-minute series for kids and families stars a boy loosely based on Rallison who goes on comedic rants...

 

Spin Master Entertainment, creators of the hit preschool series PAW Patrol, will launch its 13th series next fall, titled Vida the Vet. The series follows 10-year-old Vida, a vet who cares for the injured woodland animals she finds outside her home. With the help of some friends, Vida will teach kids the importance of taking care of one another and helping those in need.

 

It’s been 40 years since the gentle E.T. the Extra Terrestrial first became stranded on Earth, and to celebrate, Funko Games is bringing this classic tale to the tabletop just in time for summer and is available now. In E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial: Light Years from Home Game, players step into the shoes of Elliot, Gertie, Michael, and Greg and dodge federal agents to send E.T. home!

Arcade1Up, the leader in at-home retro gaming entertainment, has announced a partnership with The Op (Usaopoly), a leading publisher of best-selling board games and puzzles, to bring some of their most popular games to Arcade1Up’s Infinity Game Table, the leading hybrid tabletop gaming device. The partnership marks the first time The Op’s iconic games will be available in a digital format and will expand the Infinity Game Table’s fast-growing library of 78 games and activities. Games from The Op are expected to be available later this year.

 

Award-winning global toymaker ZURU is serving up an all-new Foodie line as the latest installment of its massively successful 5 Surprise Mini Brands range. The new release features the first-ever collection with more than 50 miniature versions of fast-food favorites. Fans of Carl’s Jr., Subway, Sonic, TGI Fridays, White Castle and more will soon get to unwrap, peel and reveal perfectly petite versions of the foods they love.

 

Multi-award-winning independent animation studio Aardman has announced a second publishing deal with Macmillan Children’s Books, naming the company the global master publishing partner for Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget. The new feature length film, directed by Sam Fell and featuring the voices of Thandiwe Newton, Zachary Levi, Jane Horrocks, Romesh Ranganathan, Daniel Mays and more, is currently in...

 

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have been a hot topic in the toy space over the past few years. Now, one of the most recognizable players in NFTs has partnered with family board game maker Imagination Gaming to bring the crypto experience to game night. In collaboration with Bored Ape Yacht Club, Imagination Gaming is launching a board game called Ape-Opoly, in which players can experience the highs and lows of...

 

In collaboration with Hasbro, Jada Toys has launched the interactive Transformers Converting Optimus Prime RC. With the push of one button, kids and collectors will transform the robot to vehicle mode and back. The R/C vehicle also moves forward and backward and spins in both vehicle and robot mode. Additional details include fully functioning lights and sounds, detailed motors, and iconic sounds and phrases.

 

On the heels of Annecy last week, France TV Distribution has announced new international sales for several kids shows in its portfolio.

Ana Pumpkin, a preschool series about a five-year-old girl and her dog who travel the world, will soon head to RTP (Portugal), Gloobinho/Giga Gloob (Brazil), Ludikids (French-speaking Africa) and e-junior (UAE). The 2D-animated co-pro (52 x five minutes) from France’s Folimage and...

 

ZAG is looking to push into the film market with a slate of 10 movies lined up as co-pros with LA-based Cross Creek Pictures. The two studios have already teamed up to produce an upcoming animated feature film called Miraculous Ladybug and Cat Noir: The Movie. They’re now expanding on this partnership with a slate of 10 movie projects spanning animation, live action and mixed media.

IDW Publishing's newest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles miniseries features new stories with a 1980s feel. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Saturday Morning Adventures is a four-issue miniseries by writer Erik Burnham and artist Tim Lattie that hews to the aesthetic of the animated series that launched in 1987. Each of the four monthly issues will feature a standalone story; plots include the Turtles getting trapped in a virtual...

 

Genius Brands’ Kartoon Channel! has launched The Smack-Dab in the Middle of the Day Show, a new kids talk show from NY based Stinger Pictures. The series (six x 14 minutes) premiered on June 17, and Kartoon has exclusive broadcast rights for 6 mos. Targeting kids ages 4-8, the live-actioner features everything from wacky puppets and original musical numbers, to a superhero with the power to manage anxiety.

 

It’s Game On For Total Drama As BBC Co-Commissions New Seasons. The Beeb has spoken! The British pubcaster joins Warner Bros. Discovery in greenlighting two new seasons of the tween franchise and ordering almost 200 episodes of library content. The BBC has inked a deal with London-based distributor CAKE for six seasons of the Total Drama franchise from Canadian prodco Fresh TV, and more to come.

 

Licensing agencies are scouring Roblox’s huge library of independently created games, characters and accessories as the next frontier for consumer products and media adaptations. For LA-based Striker Entertainment, Roblox is an attractive place to focus its attentions for two reasons: One, its free-to-play structure makes it widely accessible to younger audiences; and two, its robust cadre of independent game...

Bad Kitty, a bestselling book series written and illustrated by Nick Bruel, has been optioned by Toronto-based Boat Rocker Media for TV development. The books star a housecat named Kitty, who is delightfully destructive by nature and often finds herself embroiled in shenanigans with other characters, including her canine playmate Puppy and pet sitter Uncle Murray. There are 30 titles in the kidlit range, which...

 

The new Alfred Hitchock’s Rear Window Game from Funko Games encourages players to embrace their inner gumshoe or master manipulator and ponder: was that blood you saw or simply strawberry jam? Do you have what it takes to discern the mundane from the menacing?  Now available in stores, Funko Games’ newest strategy game invites you and your friends to take on the role of the...

Relive the iconic moments of Allison, Klaus, and No. 5 with the Umbrella Academy x YARMS Studio Collection from Mighty Jaxx. This limited-edition collection featuring siblings from this super dysfunctional family will be available for pre-sale beginning July 2 at 9 am ET, on MightyJaxx.com.  The Umbrella Academy Collection by YARMS will include: The charismatic cult leader of the Hargreeves family, Klaus. 

 

After winning the 2022 SXSW PITCH competition in Austin this spring, Action Face, the technological leader of 3D printed action figures, has just signed a deal with the NBALAB to bring together 3D scanning and printing with all 30 NBA teams. Action Face is a tech startup out of San Francisco that has developed technology to 3D scan and digitize individuals from the iPhone and iPads. 

 

Hasbro has partnered with Funko for a new My Little Pony non-fungible token (NFT) collection. The series of animated, digital trading cards will include Pop!-style versions of fan-favorite characters from the toy brand, such as Pinkie Pie, Princess Luna, Rainbow Dash, and more.  The My Little Pony x Funko Digital Pop! series will be limited to 18,000 copies each for a total of 360,000 NFTs.

The gaming world is eagerly anticipating an upcoming crossover between two of the space’s biggest properties, Among Us and Fortnite. Fortnite, an action building game in which players team up with others to build massive forts and battle against hordes of monsters, all while crafting and looting in giant worlds where no two games are ever the same, has been lauded since its 2017 launch for giving fans the ability to...

Simon’s Cat inks plush deal with Spring. Banijay Brands has announced a new partnership for digital animation, Simon’s Cat, with social commerce platform, Spring. The latest collaboration offers Simon’s Cat fans the opportunity to help design the ultimate Simon’s Cat plush that will go into production later this year. 

Acamar Films boosts its storytelling with new ‘Bing’ audio content. Acamar Films, producers of the preschool series, “Bing,” has launched new audio and digital content for U.K. audiences. With smart speaker audio stories, interactive audio games and sing-along songs, Bingsters now have a growing range of options to engage with their favorite stories and characters. 

 

What does the return of the box office smash mean for the franchise product program? The much anticipated, and COVID-delayed, sequel to the 1986 original “Top Gun” was held back by Paramount, primarily because it was intentionally shot in “made for cinema” IMAX 4K. The patience paid off, however, with the movie achieving the 4thhighest opening weekend since the beginning of the pandemic, taking $248 million...

 

The Op will release 'Harry Potter: Mischief in Diagon Alley'. The Op will release Harry Potter: Mischief in Diagon Alley, a new dice game, into retail in July 2022. In this game, a hex has mixed up all the items in the shops on Diagon Alley, and it's up to the new students at Hogwarts to set things right. 

 

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People of Play

Spin Master appoints Marc De Vellis as SVP of digital operations and strategy in the Digital Games creative center. The newly created role will work to expand Spin Master’s Digital Games ecosystem. Anchored by Toca Boca and Sago Mini Brands, Spin Master Digital Games develops and distributes digitally based creative and educational play.

 

Gabe Hicks appointed senior game designer at Steamforged Games. Gabe will be working on developing new systems and products in the Steamforged’s range of own IP and roster of video game licensed games. Gabe comes to SFG as an innovative designer and respected personality in the tabletop games industry. His work includes the best-selling Class Modifier Module, the Essence system design for Renegade Games...

 

Following his 10-yr long career helming Indian prodco Cosmos-Maya, Anish Mehta is exiting his role as the company’s CEO to pursue a new venture later this year. Mehta started at Cosmos-Maya in 2010 as COO before becoming a minority shareholder and taking over as CEO in 2012. That same year, he led the studio’s entry into producing original Indian animated IPs creating the CG-animated comedy series Moto Patlu...

 

“Power Kid Podcast,” host Phil Albritton of Power Kid Design welcomes Nick Christensen of Threepipe Reply to the show. Christensen is a managing partner and head of Amazon at the company, helping clients like TOMY, VTech, and Mookie Toys maximize their Amazon selling strategy. On the show, Albritton and Christensen discuss the effect of Amazon on the traditional “try me” motivator for toy sales and delve...

 

Rainbow Loom has announced the appointment of Ryan Rzeznik as VP of Sales.  This addition, along with the recent appt of Chris Tidwell as CEO, will continue the rejuvenation of the Rainbow Loom brand that took the industry by storm in 2014.  Rzeznik will focus on Rainbow Loom brand and assortment expansion across N.A. and the globe. Prior to joining Choon’s Design, Rzeznik was with American Plastic Toys for 13.5 yrs, 

 

MGA Entertainment (MGA) announced it has named Mehran Ravanpay Executive Vice President, Global Manufacturing and Supply Chain. In this role, he will lead the company in implementing continuous improvements and efficiencies, prepare the company for future diversification of manufacturing and vendor relations, and help drive further progress toward the company’s sustainability goals.

 

Laura Cress, known as "Cressup" on Youtube and Twitch, chats to the legendary developer that is Noah Falstein - about the 30th anniversary of the classic point-and-click adventure game he made, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, as well as his experience of playtesting Return To Monkey Island, being Google's Chief Game Designer, his thoughts on the metaverse, and much more!

 

BBC Studios’ Kids Head Helen Bullough To Depart. Bullough is the second kids exec to leave the pubcaster in as many weeks. Meanwhile BBC has picked up an Aussie series to launch on iPlayer. Helen Bullough, head of kids and family productions at BBC Studios, is leaving the company after more than 11 years at the pubcaster, Kidscreen has confirmed. She will continue in the role until later this year.

 

***the above posted after June 24th***

 

Dubit, the creator of metaverse experiences, games, and events for brands, has announced the appointment of Jon Vlassopulos – former Roblox VP, Global Head of Music – to its advisory board. Vlassopulos joins following almost three years leading music initiatives at Roblox, which reaches over 200 million users a month with games and experiences, and where he remains an advisor. 

 

BBC Kids exec Michael Towner is departing the public broadccaster after more than 30 yrs. Towner announced his departure on LinkedIn: “Sad to be leaving after 10 years as Indie Exec/Commissioning Editor and 34 yrs overall, but the time is right.”  BBC has confirmed to Kidscreen that Towner’s exit is a “voluntary redundancy” linked to his specific role being eliminated, but noted that an animation commissioner for preschool...

 

Mighty Jaxx: How this 32-year-old unboxed his love for toys into a multimillion-dollar business. Jackson Aw is the founder of Mighty Jaxx, a designer toy company that has partnered with some of the biggest visual artists and global brands worldwide, producing collectibles that reflect pop culture and trendy designs. 

 

Licensing International has announced that UK managing director Graham Saltmarsh will be leaving the organisation with LI’s current head of global marketing, Steve Manners, adding the role to his remit. Maura Regan, president of Licensing International, said: “We are incredibly grateful to outgoing UK MD Graham Saltmarsh for bringing back LEC live and in person, launching the retail program, and for all ...

 

Michael Carrington, a seasoned kids media exec who has spent the last six years at Aussie pubcaster ABC, is exiting the corporation to return to the world of production. Carrington has moved up steadily during his time at the public broadcaster, initially coming in as head of kids content in 2016,  then switching to content director in 2019, and ending his run as director of entertainment and the specialist division.

Toys R Us Asia has taken to LinkedIn to announce that the company’s chief commercial officer, Jo Hall, has been presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by WHP Global, the parent company of Toys R Us. In a post, the toy retailer said the award was given to recognise Jo’s ‘positive contribution to the lives of children and their families through her decades of work in the toy and baby industries.’

 

PSi Hires Jon Theys; Dan Rowen Becomes VP of Imagination Games. Dan Rowen has joined Imagination Games as their new VP. Rowen had previously held leadership positions as a Senior Director at Ultra PRO as well as the founder and President of Playroom Ent., which was acquired by Ultra PRO in 2016. PSI announced Jon Theys as their new Director of Business Dev.. Theys has been leading BGG.CONs for the past 15 years...

 

Larry Laque, Kristin Brown, Jessica Driscoll and Doug Seybert are exiting their roles at Warner Bros. Discovery. They join Corie Henson and Todd Weiser, who were also learned to be leaving the company on Thursday. These firings are the latest additions to a long list since the company’s merger was made official on April 8, before which execs committed to cutting $3 billion in costs over the next three years. 

Meet the 10-year-old who became a millionaire thanks to YouTube and toys. Ryan Kaji was only three years old when his parents started their YouTube channel in 2015. Back then, his parents recorded Ryan on their cellphone just to keep their own parents updated on their family adventures. Fast forward to 2022, Ryan is now a 10-year-old millionaire living in Honolulu. 

EA CEO's salary drop to $19.9 million. Andrew Wilson sees 40% decline in target equity award, but still receives $30 million stock bonus. Electronic Arts boss Andrew Wilson saw a pay drop in 2021, following a vote from shareholders to lower executive bonuses. In a new company filing spotted by Axios, the firm reported that Wilson received $19.9 million in the 12 months ended March 31, 2022.

University Games and Lagoon promote Victoria Reece to marketing executive. University Games has announced the promotion of Victoria Reece from marketing assistant to marketing executive, after just a year with the business. She will play a fundamental role in delivering the Q4 marketing campaigns that includes a heavyweight multi-media campaign for Subbuteo including TV advertising, radio partnerships...

 

The OP Games Announce New Hire. The Op (usaopoly) has appointed Jodi Wasserman vice president of marketing. Wasserman has over 20 years of experience creating marketing campaigns around the globe, who recently moved from sports games and collectibles company, UpperDeck after 16 years. Prior to joining The Op’s team, Wasserman played an instrumental role in growing Upperdeck’s reach across Europe and China...

 

Update from Eddy's World Documentary! (Eddy Goldfarb) Eddy’s World was just nominated for an Emmy Award. It's for the Los Angeles area.

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Companies and Brands

 

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the late singer's 1971 album "Hunky Dory," Mattel has released a limited edition David Bowie Doll.

This marks the second Bowie doll in the Barbie Signature Collection following the release of the Ziggy Stardust model three years ago.

The newest doll features it dressed in a powder-blue suit, which Bowie wore in his music video for “Life on Mars?”

 

The direct-to-consumer business is booming at Hasbro. The company’s latest HasLab crowdfunding project launched yesterday via Hasbro Pulse where the min. order quantity of 8,000 pieces was met in under 8 hrs. Timed with the 40th anniversary of Hasbro’s G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero brand, the G.I. Joe Classified Series Cobra H.I.S.S. is the second G.I. Joe HasLab project and the first for the 6-inch scale...

 

Having begun its story in 1938, Beano has become one of the most recognisable British brands of all time. In 2023, it celebrates a momentous 85 yrs since the comic first hit news stands. Now the world’s longest-running weekly comic, Beano has recently reported its 5th year of consecutive sales growth. With more than 28m Brits having read the comic as kids, ithe brand is now loved by all generations, with 84% brand...

Smart Toys and Games, a worldwide leader in multi-level logic games, has announced the launch of Jump In Limited Edition. With an additional 40 challenges to complete and a new rabbit in the woods, this best-selling game is expected to fly off the shelves of UK retailers. The aim of the game is to bounce the bunnies and slide the foxes around the board until all four bunnies are safe in their burrows. 

 

By now, you’ve probably seen the ’80s-inspired neon roller-skating outfits Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling sported on the live-action “Barbie” movie set. The movie’s viral ensembles are the vision of Oscar-winning costume designer Jacqueline Durran, Variety confirmed Tuesday. The wardrobe specialist has won two Academy Awards and also worked with “Barbie” co-writer and director, Greta Gerwig, on “Little Women.”

 

ADK Emotions’ Beyblade Burst is bursting onto the scene at Anime Expo this year, the world’s largest anime and manga convention in N.A. The event celebrates a variety of Japanese pop culture and takes place in Los Angeles, California from July 1-4. At the convention, fans can visit the Beyblade Burst panel, which will feature screens displaying the latest animation and a quiz where participants can win prizes. 

 

Fresh off an appearance meeting with retailers at this month’s ASTRA Marketplace & Academy in Long Beach, California, Story Time Chess is going global. The award-winning game is branching out beyond the U.S. and Canada and is now available to families in Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, South Africa, and the UK.

 

The Paw Patrol pups visited Bamburgh Castle at the weekend to celebrate the launch of the new medieval-inspired range, Paw Patrol Rescue Knights. This weekend, the Paw Patrol pups made their way to the Northumberland coast for two days of historic fun at the famous Bamburgh Castle to celebrate the launch of Paw Patrol’s latest theme, Rescue Knights.

 

Now, fans of Hot Wheels Unleashed can claim ownership of their cars in both Web3 and real life, thanks to a new partnership between Mattel and blockchain company Wax which has seen the creation of an all-new Hot Wheels NFT Garage Series 3. Using Wax’s vIRL (virtual in real life) technology  — a type of NFT created by Wax in 2018 to represent both physical goods and services in the real world...

Specialist toys and games PR agency Playtime PR has undergone a restructure after an eighth year of continued growth.  Following the permanent appointment last year of Ceriann Smith as director of Strategy & Creative to work alongside founder Lesley Singleton, the agency has appointed Mary Bobroff, Louise Hathaway and Chrissie Williams as joint heads of consumer campaigns.

 

Surge Licensing has signed an agreement with live-tour company Cut & Mustard to bring YouTube sensation Spy Ninjas to over 30 cities across the U.S.  The announcement was made today by Elan Freedman, EVP Surge Licensing, Spy Ninja’s global licensing agent. Featuring Chad Wild Clay and Vy Qwaint, Spy Ninjas are a team of YouTubers on a mission to save the internet from Project Zorgo, an evil organization of hackers. 

 

Things are about to get “wild” on the hit animated PBS KIDS’ series, Molly of Denali, when everyone’s favorite creature adventurers, Chris and Martin Kratt (their animated selves) – visit Alaska in a very special and brand-new crossover episode premiering Monday, July 18. When Molly and her dad head out on a hike, they run into the Kratt Brothers, who just happen to be on the “creature trail” looking for a lost pack of wolves. 

 

Just in time for the 4th of July, Crazy Aaron’s, the creator of the award-winning, U.S.-manufactured Thinking Putty, celebrates a major milestone with 100 U.S. jobs created. Under the direction of founder and executive chairman Aaron Muderick, the company remains committed to its Norristown, PA based manufacturing facility, and has even developed unique production methods to employ individuals with special needs.

Chefclub, the “eatertainment” brand, has announced three new publishing deals that will inspire chefs across Europe in 2022: in France, Chefclub launched its brand new Super Veggies illustrated kids cookbook; in Germany, Panini Verlags GmbH is launching a one-off, standalone Chefclub Kids magazine; and in Italy, Vallardi Editore is publishing a family cookbook.

 

WowWee has announced major expansions to its hit Got2Glow Fairies brand. To celebrate International Fairy Day, WowWee has launched the Got2Glow Baby Fairy Finder, two Got2Glow Fairy Pet Finders, and a Find the Glowing Fairies Roblox game. Building off last year’s success of the Got2Glow Fairy Finders, the hit tech toy that put fairies at kids’ fingertips and topped countless hot toy lists en route to becoming...

 

Jay Foreman, the CEO of Basic Fun!, has issued the following statement: “Basic Fun! is committed to supporting choice and access to reproductive rights for our employees and their families, as well as always provide an office environment free from guns. Being based in a great state like Florida is a wonderful thing for our business and our employees who work here; however, there is a dark and growing cloud overhead blocking the sunlight that consists of rhetoric, legislation and legal rulings that make doing business in Florida more challenging and frankly less safe for our employees. This includes the recent national rulings and local legislation on gun control and reproductive rights."

 

Spin Master debuts new toy designed by Toronto students. Having an imaginary toy come to life is every kid’s dream, but students at Toronto’s 6ix Academy are living it! Student designer Simon Cameron and Spin Master’s Jennifer Skewes join Liem Vu for a demo of the new toy, which offers a design that centres inclusiveness and a fresh take on a classic idea.

 

Lil Critter Workshop To Launch UK Animation Studio.  The prodco behind Hogie the Globehopper and Buck & Buddy are immersing themselves in the UK talent pool by opening up a new Bristol-based office. Malaysian prodco Lil Critter Workshop (LCW) is expanding to the UK by opening a new Bristol-based animation studio.  According to a release, The studio will focus on developing original IPs and cultivating...

 

Hey Duggee, The Squirrels and some of their friends will come together for Hey Duggee The Live Theatre Show in a new play packed with fun, laughs, singing and dancing.  The smash hit series is being brought to life through innovative puppetry and storytelling in this new live show which will tour across the UK from December through to summer 2023. 

 

Eolo Toys is launching its most ambitious brand to date for the second half of 2022: the Supermasked Stretch Tech Figures. A combination of stretchy figures with sounds and sensors characterised by a series of villains and superheroes, the collectibles are targeted at boys and girls aged five years and up. 

 

***The above posted after June 24th***

 

Caring and sharing may be core to the Care Bears’ DNA, but adding inclusivity and social issue awareness into the product mix has helped Cloudco Ent reach new heights at retail and explore new avenues with content. The Care Bears “Love all” messaging will be on full display this weekend in Toronto, as the brand debuts its new Peace Collective clothing line with experiential activations tied to the city’s Pride... 

 

BargainMax.co.uk, a specialist online toy retailer known for its attractive prices, has announced that it has secured 90,500 sq feet of warehouse facilities at PLP Ellesmere Port, between J7 & J8 of the M53 at Pioneer Point Business Park. With sustainability an increasingly important part of company’s ESG commitments, the facility, which was finished last year, has been constructed to BREEAM Excellent standard. 

Zuru Launches All-New X-Shot Blaster Skins with Immense Detail.  X-Shot has developed a new suite of X-Shot blaster skins so that kids and kids-at-heart can have more customized fun when dueling or making an attempt to set an air-blasting record. Created with Piezo electronic printing, a technology ZURU has been developing for over 3 yrs, each X-Shot Skins blaster holds a unique design that brings incredible detail...

 

The Pokémon Company International has announced the latest expansion for the best-selling Pokémon Trading Card Game, Sword & Shield – Lost Origin, available starting Sept. 9, 2022, at participating retailers around the world. In Sword & Shield—Lost Origin, the Lost Zone gameplay mechanic will make its Sword & Shield Series debut and is expected to shake up the TCG metagame. 

 

Exploding Kittens is launching a new expansion to its popular, eponymous card game, Exploding Kittens. In the new version, called Zombie Kittensplayers explode and then come back to life … and then maybe explode again. This newest iteration is the 7th installment in the Exploding Kittens universe and follows the launch of a Netflix-exclusive mobile game. For the first time in any version, players who explode...

This summer, Bandai Namco Toys & Collectibles America will launch Vital Hero, gamified, wearable bands with digital monsters in them. The first wave of bands have one unique digital monster per band, with an extensive roster of monsters that kids can collect to extend play.  The bands feature a full-color, LED display screen and built-in vital activity monitors that prompt kids to complete daily activities through...

 

Sometimes it’s a challenge to get kids outside of the house during the summer, but PlayMonster has the perfect solution to get them excited about outdoor exploration. The toy company’s new Craft-tastic Nature activity kits give kids and their families the opportunity to immerse themselves in craft experiences using simple prompts and supplied materials. 

 

Mattel paid it forward by playing it forward. The entertainment and toy manufacturing company held its annual Play it Forward Global Volunteer Week. This series of events provided Mattel employees with various opportunities to support their communities through beautification projects, toy donations, home constructions, and more. During the volunteer week, Mattel employees across the globe partnered with...

 

Zauberberg, published as Magic Mountain in the U.S., by AMIGO won the 2022 Kinderspiel des Jahres (Children's Game of the Year).  Zauberberg/Magic Mountain, designed by Bernhard Weber and Jens-Peter Schliemann, beat out two games by Wolfgang Warsch and Schmidt Spiele, Also Clever and With Quacks & Co. to Quedlinburg. In this cooperative game, players race sorcerers down the mountain in an...

 

Paramount+, the global streaming service from Paramount, is now available to audiences in the UK & Ireland with more than 8,000 hrs of entertainment for the whole family. The streaming service brings together exclusive originals, blockbuster films and iconic series across every genre from Paramount’s world-renowned brands and production studios, including Showtime, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon and ...

 

One of the hottest brands around a few years ago when the putty craze first hit the UK mkt, Crazy Aaron’s is back for 2022 under the DKB banner with the co.excited about bringing such an in-demand property back into UK stores. “The brand was on fire a few yrs ago but as there was such huge demand from consumers, the mkt was quickly flooded with copies and inferior quality products,” said said Chris Lohmeyer...

 

Hot Wheels UK Legends Tour searches for cars to become die-cast models. Enthusiasts can submit videos of their beloved motors to the Hot Wheels UK Legends Tour for the chance to have them reproduced in scale. Last year’s winning car, the 1969 Volvo P1800 Gasser. Hot Wheels is on the look out for the next classic, modified or race car to transform into a scaled reproduction die-cast toy, with two being chosen for...

 

The newest Dragons at Douglas Company are sure to inspire the imagination and warm the hearts of all soon-to-be Dragon trainers. Douglas’ mystical dragons are what legends are made of. The New Hampshire-based plush toy maker and lifestyle gift creator brings new dragons into the fold. Enchantment and regality are the words that come to mind upon viewing Ronin the Dragon, who is a full 27” uncurled. 

 

Each year, at the conclusion of the annual Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots campaign, the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation selects its Regional and National Campaigns & Coordinators of the Year. The winners are selected based on several specific criteria. Most importantly, executing a local campaign that epitomizes the highest honor and traditions of the U.S. Marine Corps that assists as many children-in-need...

 

Razor, the foremost trailblazer and innovator in the scooter industry, has launched their first ever brand campaign: Razor…Ride with Us.  The new branding, which was architected in partnership with brand agency space.camp, will be seen for the first time by fans through a multifaceted campaign featuring a brand anthem spot, social and in-person activations, a new logo, and various promotions.  

 

WowWee has entered the fashion doll category with its ground-breaking new toy line: My Avastars. Inspired by kids’ use of avatars to explore, create and express themselves in the metaverse, WowWee partnered with Gamefam, a top publisher on Roblox, in the creation of My Avastars for a doll that enables seamless interactive play in the physical and digital worlds.

 

L.O.L. Surprise! dolls from MGA Entertainment have inspired consumers for the last six years to express themselves and be confident while doing so. To celebrate six years of empowerment, MGA is launching a “fierce” collection of some classic L.O.L. Surprise! dolls full of new, bold looks, plus three pop-up events across the U.S. to further push their initiative and inspire fans to “find their fierce.”

Amazon is grinding through its potential workforce too fast, according to an internal company research memo leaked to and first reported on by Vox. “If we continue business as usual, Amazon will deplete the available labor supply in the US network by 2024,” said the document, according to Vox. The memo indicated that things were looking particularly grim for Amazon’s labor pool in a few specific locations. h also identified Memphis, Tennessee, and Wilmington, Delaware as other places where workforce resources were especially thin.

 

First WowWee dabbled in Roblox with several activations in the Twilight Daycare game. Now, the toy manufacturer is diving deeper into the metaverse with a new toy line and a Roblox game called My Avastars, inspired by kids’ use of avatars to explore, create, and express themselves online. WowWee is partnering with Gamefam to create the My Avastars: RP roleplaying game, launching in July. 

 

Nerf Introduces Murph, the Brand's First Mascot.  Since debuting in 1969, Nerf has never had a mascot. Today, the toy brand unveiled Murph, an anthropomorphic character made entirely out of Nerf darts. “We wanted to introduce a mascot that represents this ageless, unbridled fun that lives in all of us and creates a physical embodiment of that feeling you get when you play with Nerf,” said Adam Kleinman, SVP and GM of Nerf...

 

The animated universe of Avatar: The Last Airbender is expanding with three films in development from Paramount Animation and Nickelodeon Animation. The pics are the first projects to come out of Avatar Studios, a dedicated content division set up in 2021 to grow the brand beyond its two 2D-animated TV series.

 

Amazon Studios is looking to create franchises with its animation content and said that while it can be flexible on rights, it would “prefer” exclusivity. Speaking at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival in France, Melissa Wolfe, head of animation and family programming at Amazon’s Prime Video service, revealed that: “We’re looking for everything under the sun and moon that is appealing probably...

 

Bandai Spirits and Takara Tomy team up to create two new robotic toys. Japanese toy companies Bandai Spirits and Takara Tomy have linked up to create two new science fiction toys from one another’s mecha franchises, Gundam Info reported. Although the two companies are technically rivals in the industry, they unveiled their collaboration last weekend at the Tokyo Toy Show.

B&M launches online home delivery service. B&M is trialling a home delivery service for the first time since the business opened its first UK store in 1978. The online range features 1,000 products, including garden and indoor furniture, electrical equipment and toys and games with the discount retailer expecting the heavier general merchandise products to be most popular as shoppers struggle to transport them themselves.

 

Wizkids unleashes their first 'D&D Icons of the Realms: Undead Armies' miniatures set. WizKids unleashed their first D&D Icons of the Realms: Undead Armies miniatures set, Skeletons, which will hit stores in November 2022. This new line of pre-painted miniatures focuses on warbands of the undead and features iconic D&D foes. 

Pop Mart debuts first American store. Art toy figurine publisher, Pop Mart, has come to the states from Asia. Opening its doors to local consumers at South Coast Plaza in the greater Los Angeles metro area, groups of fans visited Pop Mart’s first store in the U.S., where Pop Mart launched its offline shopping experience to local fans and customers. Also known as designer toys, art toys are figurines with...

 

The Book of Boba Fett Hot Toys figure highlights the galaxy's (second) most badass bounty hunter Cad Bane. Hot Toys has revealed its latest action figure, this time based on The Book of Boba Fett's villainous bounty hunter, Cad Bane! Bounty hunter Cad Bane made his live-action debut in The Book of Boba Fett earlier this year, and while he was eventually bested by his former protégé, the villain made quit...

Alley Cat Games will release 'Dice Theme Park'. Alley Cat Games will release Dice Theme Park, an amusement park tile placement game, into retail on July 20, 2022. This game is part of a line of dice games by Alley Cat Games, which includes Dice Hospital. In this game, players assume the roles of theme park owners trying to expand. Players place ride and attraction tiles in order to attract the right mix of guests. 

 

Mantic Games unveils two 'Kings of War' miniatures boxed sets. Mantic Games unveiled two Kings of War miniatures boxed sets for release in July 2022.The Empire of Dust is the Ahmunite undead army that are hell bent on ending the living world. This army comes at enemies with skilled archers on horseback, other ranged troops, and high priests to back them up. 

Grail Games takes on 'Silicon Valley'. ilicon Valley, a game from Scott Almes (Tiny Epic Galaxies, Heroes of Land, Air & Sea), will be released by Australian publisher Grail Games in Q4 this year. In Silicon Valley, the players are entrepreneurs running tech start-ups, hoping to be the first to reach a billion dollars in valuation.  They design products using the game’s polyominoes to create patterns.  

 

MGA Entertainment launches Bratz Minis, Bratz Mini Cosmetics to kick off the Miniverse. The girls with a passion for fashion are making their fun-sized debut. MGA Entertainment is joining the miniature collecting craze by launching the first series of Bratz Minis and Bratz Mini Cosmetics. These mystery packs transform the classic Bratz dolls and cute cosmetics into miniature versions. 

 

Plan B Games announces 'Village Big Box Edition'. Plan B Games announced Village Big Box Edition, a new all-in-one boxed set, for release in early 2023.This Big Box edition comes a decade after its original release won the 2012 Kennerspiel des Jahres. The Village Big Box Edition comes with the base game that features improved components, new additions, and updated artwork by Chris Quilliams and Jacqui Davis.

 

Ares Games releases more deets on 'War of The Ring: The Card Game'. Ares Games released more details on War of the Ring: The Card Game, which will hit retail in November 2022. War of the Ring: The Card Game was first teased just before U.K. Games Expo. It is part of the War of the Ring series of board games that lets players immerse themselves in J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. 

 

Dare to explore the 'Cove of The Dragon Turtle'. Steamforged Games announced Epic Encounters: Cove of the Dragon Turtle, a new standalone encounter boxed set, which will release on September 16, 2022. There are many sea-dwelling creatures to fear in D&D, but none are as legendary as the menacing dragon turtle. 

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Gaming: Digital, Video, Hardware, and Development

THE POWER OF PART 2: HOW VIDEO GAME SEQUELS CAN BUILD A FRANCHISE. I tweeted out an innocuous question — no, this isn’t necessarily a crass plug for my Twitter account in the first sentence of this article (@Victor_Lucas, in case you need it) — and the passion in each of the replies was spectacular: “What is the best video game sequel? Why?”  “Red Dead Redemption 2!,” Craig Gusten (@WolvenGusten) ...

 

The Epic Games Store will use randomized ratings to curb review bombing. The Epic Games Store has finally implemented ratings and polls to let players dish out feedback about the games they're playing -- but there's a twist. In a bid to protect games from review bombing and ensure those assigning scores have actually played the games they're rating, the Epic Games Store will ask random players...

 

Overwatch currencies will transfer to Overwatch 2, but loot boxes are going nowhere. Players will be able to take in-game currencies such as OWL tokens, competitive points, and credits from Overwatch to Overwatch 2 when the sequel launches in October this year. In an AMA on Reddit, Overwatch commercial lead Jon Spector confirmed currencies will transfer over to the sequel, although there is something of a catch. 

 

Keyboard and mouse support for Xbox Cloud Gaming is on the way. Microsoft has confirmed it will bolster Xbox Cloud Gaming with mouse and keyboard support, and is asking developers to prepare for the addition when it's eventually rolled out. During a virtual talk at XFest22 -- a learning event for creators hosted by Microsoft -- Xbox software engineer Morgan Brown said the company is working on adding keyboard...

 

Creative Assembly unveils its first new IP in over a decade: multiplayer shooter Hyenas. The team at Creative Assembly has unveiled its next game: a "flashy" new multiplayer shooter called Hyenas. It's the first time in over a decade that the U.K. company has unveiled an original property, making a big jump for the studio behind the Total War series and 2014's critically acclaimed horror title Alien: Isolation. 

 

Sega teases possible upcoming game announcement. Even with Summer Game Fest having officially finished, it seems the month of June could still have some big gaming reveals left in it. Nintendo recently announced that it would be putting on a Nintendo Direct in June, solely focusing on the upcoming Xenoblade Chronicles 3, and it seems the company is not alone in leaving some of its reveals and updates for later in the month. 

 

Fortnite is testing a clever way to help you find teammates. Fortnite can be an absolute blast to play with your friends, but being matched up with random players is more hit-and-miss. In some of the randomized groups I’ve been in, coordinating any sort of effective strategy can be a challenging endeavor, particularly if some team members want to rush into battle while others would prefer to play it slow. 

Fall Guys officially goes free-to-play, leaves Steam behind. Fall Guys has evolved beyond its premium origins to officially become a free-to-play title. Mediatonic, which was purchased by Epic Games last year, said the battle royale platformer would become free-to-play on all platforms in June 2022 and has now made good on that promise. 

 

Newzoo: Gamers like brands more than non-gamers do. Gamers may have more favorable attitudes toward brands than their non-gaming counterparts, according to Newzoo's latest consumer insights report. The market intelligence firm conducted an online survey earlier this year covering more than 75,000 respondents from 36 markets around the world, polling the group on a variety of topics, including...

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Hightlighted Press Releases

 

BIG THINGS COME IN MINI SIZES: JUNE 10th! This Summer’s Limited-Production 4-in-one Hess Mini Collection Toy Trucks Pays Tribute To 1989 Fire Truck, 2008 Truck Front Loader Plus 2012 Helicopter. New York, NY (June 10, 2022) – Hess Corporation announced its annual summer kick-off today with the release of its remarkably detailed small-scale vintage toy truck set. The 2022 Hess Mini Collection, with four toys included, is on sale exclusively at HessToyTruck.com for $31.99 with free standard shipping* and Energizer® batteries included.

Safety and Counterfeiting

 

Primark Recalls Wooden Xylophone Toys Due to Choking Hazard. Name of Product: Wooden xylophone Toys. Hazard: The xylophone’s feet can loosen and fall off, posing a choking hazard to young children. Remedy: Refund. Recall Date: June 16, 2022. Units: About 450. This recall involves Primark wooden xylophone toys. They have pastel-colored metal xylophone bars and wooden percussion stick. It is intended for children 10 months and older. Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled xylophone and return it to a Primark …

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Associations, Shows, Awards, Events, and Festivals

 

The British Toy & Hobby Association is delighted to have presented a Golden Teddy Award to Tim Hall. Tim has served in the toy industry for more than 35 years, with his most recent role as managing director of Ravensburger – a position he has held since 2020. He recently announced that he was stepping down as MD, saying: “I have been very fortunate to have worked alongside such a talented and hard-working ...

 

The Toy Insider will welcome the toy industry back to Pier Sixty in NYC for its annual Sweet Suite event, and this year a new partnership will amplify the power of play to kids in need. The Toy Foundation (TTF) is joining the epic toy party as the official nonprofit partner of Sweet Suite. The more than 60 participating exhibitors at Sweet Suite are invited to donate their toys, games, and products from the event to TTF’s The Toy Bank to deliver to deserving kids in the local area.

 

The annual European licensing and brand extension event announced that its keynote presentation will focus on the life, cultural impact, and future of Barbie. Delivered by Mattel president and chief operating officer Richard Dickson. “Barbie is one of the world’s greatest fashion and licensing icons, collaborating with everyone from Balmain, Karl Lagerfield, Moschino, and Diane von Furstenberg, to M.A.C. ...

 

B&LIS North America trails the successful European launch held last year and is confirmed to make its debut on November 8-9 at Convene in NYC. The in-person conference is designed to connect senior-level brand licensing leaders and decision-makers for a two-day conference focusing on the future of consumer products, the changing retail landscape, and the importance of transformation.

 

The Baby Independent Innovation Awards, an independent recognition platform highlighting the most innovative companies, services, and products in the highly competitive baby care industry, has announced the winners of their 2022 Awards Program. These outstanding innovators and leaders within the global baby care market drive innovation and exemplify the best in the baby care industry around the world.

Cardboard Edison announces that Capetalism and Roux Mates are the winners of this year’s Cardboard Edison Award for unpublished board game designs. Capetalism, designed by Christopher Chan, took the top honors in the “online” track. In this game, players are garden investors growing the value of the flowers in their secret “stalk portfolio.” Using a Go-like gardening mechanic, players plant and surround ...

***The above posted after June 24th***

 

Nominations are now live for the 2022 2022 PocketGamer.biz Top 50 Game Makers list. PocketGamer.biz strives to champion the very best of the mobile games industry, and our annual Top 50 Game Makers list is a key part in celebrating the global games industry’s most exciting and authoritative sector.

 

The Outdoor Toy Awards recipients were selected based on price point and the amount of play they got from the kids attending the event. With over 60 entries from across the UK and strong interest from across Europe, the winner’s of this year’s Outdoor Toys Awards have been announced. Now in its sixth year, the Outdoor Toy Awards remain the only dedicated event for this sector of the toy market. 

 

The Game Manufacturers Association reported the attendance numbers for Origins 2022, which were approximately 57% of the last pre-pandemic show in 2019. Origins 2022 drew 11,689 people over the June 8-12, 2022 weekend. This was up from the 10,746 total attendees from last year's show (about 9%), which was moved to the fall due to COVID safety concerns. 

Event organiser Spielwarenmesse eG has issued an update on preparations for Licensing-X Germany, planned in close cooperation with Licensing International and set to take place from 5 to 7 October at the Nuremberg Exhibition Centre alongside the stationery expo Insights-X. The event aims to offer new programming and networking opportunities for the entire licensing industry, which continues to grow rapidly. 

 

Register for virtual Asian Licensing Conference. The three-day Asian Licensing Conference, organised by HKTDC, aims to help participants identify licensing opportunities in Asia. NFTs and Sustainability in Licensing are some of the key topics to be discussed at the Asian Licensing Conference (ALC), to be held virtually from 27th-29th July, 2022. Organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) ...

Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment (WiT) has announced that registration is open for its annual WiT Empowerment Day event, to be held on Monday, September 19, 2022 at Dallas Market Center, in partnership with The Toy Association’s Preview & Holiday Market. Now in its 9th year, WiT Empowerment Day is held in collaboration with Walmart, giving women inventors, creators and entrepreneurs...

 

Lego Con forms part of the Lego Group’s 90th anniversary summer celebrations, with fans able to enjoy product and brand reveals. Lego fans from around the world took part in the free-to-attend virtual Lego Con on Saturday, a two-hour live show which gave a sneak peek into the latest Lego news and products whilst connecting them with other Lego enthusiasts from around the world.

 

Toy Trust Big Challenge raises much-need funds for Starlight and Spread a SmileSaturday’s Big Challenge event saw 200 industry professionals walk, run, cycle and compete in a team Dragon Boat Tournament for the Toy Trust. Run in support of the Toy Trust‘s 2022 main charity partners, Starlight and Spread a Smile, the 2022 Big Challenge event – the first to take place since 2019 – has been hailed a big success...

Power On: The Story of Xbox wins Daytime Emmy Award. Six-part series was released last December following the 20th anniversary of the original console.  A documentary series that details the history of the Xbox console has been awarded a Daytime Emmy Award. Power On: The Story Of Xbox, produced by ten100, shares stories from pivotal moments of the console's 20 year lifespan, from the design of the first ever ...

 

Summer Game Fest 2022 attracted over 3.5 million concurrent viewers at its peak. During a year when E3 was scrapped and digital showcases continued to reign supreme, Summer Games Fest organizer Geoff Keighley claims the high-profile virtual event attracted a record number of viewers. 

 

Half of stand space already sold for INDX Toys & Nursery Gifts 2023. Following the success of its April 2022 show, INDX Toys & Nursery Gifts will return to Cranmore Park Conference and Exhibition next April. Half of the available stand space has already been sold for the INDX Toys & Nursery Gifts 2023 show which returns to Solihull’s Cranmore Park Conference and Exhibition Centre next April after a successful show this year. 

 

Perth toy company Connetix wins 2022 Australian best STEAM toy award, beating Lego and Mattel. The chances are if you have kids, you have probably heard of Connetix toys. The magnetic tiles have taken over the child play world and rightfully so — who wouldn’t enjoy spending hours creating endless designs that make you feel like a building mastermind? 

Thirsty Suitors has won the 2022 Tribeca Games Award. Thirsty Suitors has taken home the 2022 Tribeca Games Award for its "quirky comedy, artful aesthetic, and innovative blending of storytelling and gameplay mechanics."The upcoming story-driven adventure is being developed by indie outfit Outerloop Games, known for Falcon Age, and published by Annapurna Interactive. 

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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.

Alison Quill. The founder and managing director of the specialist educational toy retailer Brightminds, Alison Quill, passed away in April. 

Toy World is sad to report the passing of Alison Quill, the founder and managing director of Brightminds, on 1st April after a long illness.

Brightminds told Toy World that only the day before her passing, Alison had contributed with her usual vigour and good humour at a board meeting, and that her drive, enthusiasm and knowledge shone through to the very end.

The specialist retailer’s official statement read: “Her colleagues will miss those attributes terribly but, above all, they – like us – will miss Alison the person. She was a regular fixture at various toy fairs at home and abroad, well known and respected throughout the industry. This world of ours now has one less genuinely good person.”

Alison was a science teacher who left the profession to form Brightminds in 1998. In her own words: “The National Curriculum became like teaching by recipe and I want to set off that spark in childrens’ minds.”

Alison was clear from the outset that the key was sourcing educational toys that inspire children to be curious about the world around them. Consequently, every product in the Brightminds range was tested and hand-picked to these guidelines.

Alison had been ill for some time and when news of her prognosis became apparent, she embarked upon a handover process as best she could, though her involvement in the day to day business had to be reduced. Her wish, according to her friends and colleagues, was that the company she had given so much to create and build continued to prosper and realise the aspirations of all of its employees, shareholders and loyal customers and suppliers.

The running of Brightminds is now being assumed by the remaining directors, led by David Crellin as interim CEO.

David says: “We have no greater desire than to carry on fulfilling Alison’s wishes in bringing a little joy and inspiration to the young people of this world. Whilst Alison can never be replaced, we do have the privilege of being given the opportunity to carry on her ethos and legacy. It is a mantle we intend to pursue to the best of our abilities”.

Toy World would like to join Alison’s friends and colleagues at Brightminds in sending condolences to her husband, John, and wider family

Maureen Hiron (1942–June, 2022) In Maureen's own words from an interview we did with her...

I’m Maureen Hiron and I’m thrilled to be inducted into the Games Hall of Fame. I used to be the head of the Physical Education department of an Inner London comprehensive school. Then part of that school fell on my head, and at 32 I was pensioned off from teaching.

The future looked bleak. But I did have one ace up my sleeve. I was already an expert bridge player, having represented England and Britain at bridge. So I devoted my mental energies to the game. And the thought processes involved penetrated the cloud that enshrouded my brain.

Then a medical phenomenon occurred. It appeared that the former dormant areas of my brain had taken over the role of the damaged parts. The result was that I was able to reason with the intuitive mind of a child, yet still retain my acquired knowledge and 156 IQ level.

The first manifestation of this came on April Fools Day 1982. I was listening to music by my favourite composer, Bach – when in a lightbulb moment I invented the first of my games.

This was Continuo. A game that is a nice blend of skill and luck. That a 5-year-old can play on equal terms with all other ages. That many can play together, yet is also pleasing as a solo patience game. That is understood in seconds and transcends all language barriers. Yes – that’s a lot of claims for one small game, yet it all proved to be true, judging by the millions sold.

But Continuo was no One Game wonder for me. I’ve now had over 70 games published, which are sold in over 50 countries.

I’ve been asked, “What makes a game successful?” If I had the answer to that, I’d never invent a bummer!

But for me, it seems that the quicker I invent a game, the more successful it becomes. Especially if the rules are minimal.

Take 7Ate9 (Unter Spannung in Germany and various other names in other countries.) I was helping Irish Bridge International Desmond Deery putting new cards into the bridge duplicate boards, when I had another of those flashes of inspiration.

Me and my company HIRON GAMES LTD came to the attention of City of London financiers – maybe because of my high-profiling with the media – I had even been the subject of a BBC TV documentary A WILL TO WIN. In the time-honoured phrase, they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. The idea was that my company would make a reverse take-over of a major UK games company, which had a stock-market listing.

My life – written off by my previous employers, had taken a considerable upturn.

But tragedy struck again. I was diagnosed with cancer, so my business ambitions (I had reached the semi-finals of the Businesswoman of the Year competition) couldn’t be brought to fruition – I needed to address the problem of kicking this cancer into touch.

But even whilst an in-patient at the Royal Marsden Hospital – the world’s first specialist cancer hospital – I continued to invent games, using my fellow patients as play-testers. Including CHIP IN, which my company produced to spearhead the Marsden’s £25 million appeal – under the then presidency of Princess Diana.

And I persuaded Brian Hitchen CBE, then editor of the Daily Star, to back the appeal. This he did, in a big way for two months, and often from the front page of the Daily Star. Sadly, Brian and his wife were killed in a car accident in Alicante, Spain.

I also involved the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher – happily playing CHIP IN with her in her study, whilst members of the Cabinet waited patiently downstairs.

I’ve not restricted myself to inventing games. With my late husband Alan we wrote several best-selling books, including The Ultimate Trivia Quiz Game Book, which reached No.2 in the British Bestsellers list.

I also worked on a number of TV shows, including Krypton Factor and Fifteen to One.

And in 1990 I was voted ‘Londoner of the Year’ in London Electricity’s ‘Brightening Up London’ awards.

Sadly, Alan died in 1999, and my idyllic world came crashing down. Alan Hiron was a bridge world champion and was bridge correspondent to The Independent. We were considered to be the perfect partnership – as opposites – for I was as hyper as Alan was laid back.

I proof-read Alan’s articles and he play-tested my games. On his death I was appointed Bridge Correspondent to The Independent, and soon added 6 columns per week for the Irish Independent.

The music you hear is ‘Forward to Freedom’ – composed in the Matzar genre which I created. I wrote the music – tweaked for the better by Sheyla Bonnick of Boney M. Sheyla wrote the lyrics, with tweaks from me, and the whole is arranged by Sheyla’s Icelandic husband Ingvar Areliusson. And singing it is Sheyla Bonnick – a founder member of Boney M.

Just Sheyla – including all harmonies – her voice has gone from strength to strength.

During my college days I wrote a children’s operetta, which I called CATS – based on T.S. Eliot’s ‘Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.’ Sounds familiar? But I did it first.

Then music went onto the back burner, when I got bitten by the bridge bug, and later the games bug. However…

Whilst on a Caribbean cruise in 2011 I met Sheyla Bonnick on MV Braemar. Boney M were the star turn on that cruise, and I was the bridge lecturer. There was immediate empathy between Sheyla and I.

Then I brought Boney M over to Spain to perform at my 70th birthday party, which was a roaring success.

Having recently renewed my interest in music, I had installed a concert organ, which I was teaching myself to play. Sheyla was impressed by the pieces I’d composed, and in a style she’d never heard before. When Ingvar came to take Sheyla home, she asked me to play those compositions again.

Ingvar was also impressed – impressed enough to to suggest Sheyla and I do an album together. And so the album LOOK BEYOND – in the new musical genre of Matzar was created, sung in its entirety by Sheyla Bonnick

It transpired that Sheyla was a keen games player, and so became a trustworthy play-tester of my games creations. And I became her business adviser.

Boney M – and especially Sheyla Bonnick’s group (all former members formed their own groups) have come back into demand again. Whereas the voices of the others have gone downhill, Sheyla’s has gone from strength to strength. It is a pleasure and a privilege to work with her and Ingvar.

Especially as, in our breaks, we play-test my new games.

Mark Hatherill died on June 13, 2022. Hatherill’s career spanned 35 years in the toy industry, including positions at Mattel, Playmates Toys, and Munchkin Inc., working with iconic brands such as Barbie, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Star Trek. He also consulted with multiple start-ups throughout his career. He is remembered as a mentor, advisor, and inspiration to those who knew and worked with him. He is survived by his daughters Mikayla and Morgan, wife Yvonne, father Donald, and siblings Michele and Michael.

Billy Kametz, voice actor who worked on numerous video games including Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Triangle Strategy, and 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim, has passed away.   Alongside his work in the games industry, Kametz also lent his talents to anime series including Attack on Titan, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, and Pokémon Journeys.  An obituary shared on PennLive explained Kametz had been battling colon cancer and passed on June 9, 2022.  "Anyone who has met Billy will tell you he is one of the most sincere, humble and loving people they have ever met," reads the obituary.  "His infectious personality and smile always lit up a room with so much joy and happiness. Billy always left a positive impression on anyone he came in contact with. His love for his family, friends and girlfriend was always most important to him and that love will carry on forever."

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Toy Trade Monthly Issues​​

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1.      JB Says Relax…it’s the Friday Blog!

2.      Mattel appoints Josh Silverman global head of Consumer Products

3.      Crazy Aarons DKB

4.      NPD Group reveals rise in US toy dollar sales

5.      Among Us meets Fortnite in major gaming collaboration

6.      Toy Trust Big Challenge raises much-need funds for Starlight and Spread a Smile

7.      Toys R Us Asia’s Jo Hall honoured with Lifetime Achievement award

8.      BargainMax.co.uk secures new warehouse facility at PLP Ellesmere Port

9.      B&M launches online home delivery service

10.    WowWee launches My Avastars next gen fashion dolls

ICv2: The Business of Geek Culture (US)

WizKids Reveals 'D&D Icons of the Realms: Hobgoblin Warband'
WizKids Unveils Two New 'Dungeon Dressings' Sets
Asmodee, Dark Horse Parent Defends Saudi Investment

People are on the Move in the Games Industry

Wizards of the Coast Unveils More Deets for 'Dominaria United' Release
Rolling for Initiative -- Free RPG Day and R.I.P. Paul Arden Lindberg
Games Workshop Previews 'Warhammer 40,000' Leagues of Votann Squad
Wizards of the Coast Announces 'Magic: The Gathering' 'Double Masters 2022' Delays
Smash Hydra, or Create It, in New 'Crisis Protocol' Sets
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Video of the Week 

Hidden Role: The Brains Behind your Favorite Games

Daryl Andrews says... "GO TO CONVENTIONS!"

Daryl is well known for traveling to most Toy and Game conventions every year, and in today's episode he tells us why attending conventions has been integral to his career as a board game designer. He breaks down why both inventors and companies benefit from attending conventions and gives advice on traversing the convention circuit to pitch your toy and game idea.

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