the Bloom Report

Toy Industry's #1 News Summary 

Below is June 6 - 12, 2020, Click Here for Last Week

Articles are posted as search engines list them, newest articles at the top of the listings

Greetings to all our readers around the world . . . 

 

Welcome to your Friday briefing of the week's news.  After 22 years, the Bloom Report has a new look and steward. It is our honor to carry on Philip Bloom’s legacy.  If you would like to reach Phil, his new email is: philip.bloom100@verizon.net

 

We will continue the Bloom Report as an essential news source for you.  We'd appreciate your feedback and welcome  advertisements so we can continue this service for free. 

 

Mary Couzin

Company of the Week . . . 

Richard%20North%20and%20Wow%20Stuff%20Lo

This is Wow! Stuff

 

Our tagline is Great Brands Brought to Life! We partner with licensed brands and we work until our brains hurt to create toys that are really, really, really innovative, on brand and in universe - always! With 2 TOTY award nominations and a TOTY award win in 2020 and a TAGIE nomination in 2015, we are headquartered in the UK. We have excellent reach throughout Europe and while we have direct to retail sales in the USA we are always looking for North American partners to broaden our business. See more here; www.wowstuff.com

 

From Telescopes to Toys, from the UK to the USA.

 

My time during this pandemic has largely been spent on setting up ToyAid.org in the UK with my co-founder Joel Silverman of digital marketing agency kidsknowbest. ToyAid was set up to help the poorer, disadvantaged children and their families during the economic slowdown resulting from COVID-19. This is my career . . . (Read more)

Op-ed from Dee Farrell, our Person of the Week...

Hello Toy Friends!  I hope you’re all staying well and strong. Everyone I connect with lately is talking about the huge effect COVID is having on our industry.  In the middle of this pandemic almost nothing is as it used to be.  The “usual” times and places we all use to get together have been canceled or put online.  Virtual is our new normal.  We’re shipping samples to buyer’s homes, spending hours in Zoom meetings, and rushing to get new web sites up.  And all the while, trying to keep our businesses open to tend to customers.  

 

In addition to all of that, many of us are also helping our teams and employees make all these changes right along with us.  While most of us in the toy industry pride ourselves on our ability to change and adapt really fast – this amount of change all at once is proving to be a real challenge.  

 

But in that challenge, there is also opportunity.  Many of the changes we’re making today are not just temporary.  They will carry us well past the outbreak of this virus. (Read on)

 

Note from the Publisher . . . 

We are disturbed and saddened over the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others. We believe that Black Lives Matter, and that all people should be treated equally, with respect and kindness. We will continue to listen, to educate ourselves about systems of oppression, and to make our community, our work, and our events do better for everybody. We envision and will endeavor to help create a world in which we can all play nicely together. ​

Financial & Legal News . . . 

Kolkata, India: city importers holding back orders to China after Galwan clash. Following the death of Indian Army personnel in a fierce clash with the People's Liberation Army in Galwan valley of eastern Ladakh, Kolkata importers of a range of consumer products including toys from China are holding back on placing orders.

It’s Alibaba, not Walmart, that Amazon should really be worried about. The reality is that Walmart is so far behind Amazon in online sales, despite its recent gains during the pandemic, that it will never come close to catching up. But Alibaba is now focusing more and more of its attention on the American market

Walmart surpasses eBay in U.S. e-commerce for the first time, Amazon still tops. Walmart Inc. has surpassed eBay Inc. in share of U.S. e-commerce sales for the first time, according to May 2020 data provided by eMarketer, though Amazon.com Inc. remains number one by a large margin.

Has Prime Day been moved again? Toy World has learned that Amazon’s major two day shopping event has been pushed back yet again. The move will have major implications for the toy industry, and suppliers are now having to redress their marketing plans to reflect the timing of the event – and its proximity to Christmas. An anonymous source told Toy World that, while the October date may well prove fruitful for...

The Indian government may put curbs on imports of toys. New Delhi, India. The Ministry of Commerce has identified toys among several categories of non-essential imports, where restrictions could be considered. In recent months, the commerce department has...

US retail sales in record rebound. American shoppers returned in force in May, fuelling a record 17.7% monthly gain in retail spending after lockdowns triggered devastating declines in the previous months. The rebound only partially made up for the losses, leaving spending down about 6% year-on-year.

Apple faces two EU anti-competition probesApple faces two European Commission probes into whether it has broken competition rules. One investigation centres on iPad and iPhones being limited to installing apps from Apple's own App Store, among other restrictions imposed on third-party developers. The other involves Apple Pay, with one issue being that other services cannot use the iPhone's tap-and-go facility.

Apple claims 'half a trillion dollars' App Store economy. Apple has said that its App Store ecosystem "facilitated half a trillion dollars" of trade in 2019. The firm said more than 85% of that figure occurred via transactions from which it did not take a commission. The announcement comes at a time Apple and other US tech giants are facing increased anti-competition scrutiny.

The great decoupling? What’s next in US-China rift. Bilateral trade sank by 15% in 2019 after US President Donald Trump began imposing tariffs on Chinese imports and China responded in kind. It had surged by an annual average 11% from 2001 to 2018, a stretch that included China’s admission to the WTO and transformation into a global manufacturing powerhouse shipping cheap electronics, toys ...

B.C. pot shop loses trademark battle with Toys ‘R’ UsA Vancouver cannabis dispensary is going to need a new name and logo after losing a legal battle with retailer Toys "R" Us (Canada) Ltd. Toys “R” Us argued that Herbs “R” Us’s green logo with a cannabis leaf in the middle of the ‘r’ uses a similar font and arrangement of letters as the toy store.

U.K. economy shrinks 20% in a month to fall back to 2002 levelThe British economy has seen nearly two decades worth of growth wiped out as a result of the lockdown measures put in place during the coronavirus pandemic. The economy shrank by a colossal 20.4 per cent in April following a 5.8 per cent decline in March, meaning the U.K. economy is around 25 per cent smaller than it was in February. 

(the above news added after Friday, June 12th)

Amazon Set to Face Antitrust Charges in European Union. The European Commission plans to bring charges that Amazon abused its dominance in e-commerce. Europe’s inquiry is further along, but the United States is also subjecting the company to scrutiny for squashing competition.

The ICTI Ethical Toy Program has released its 2018/19 annual review, which details the positive impact the programme has been making on the lives of factory workers in China, Vietnam and Indonesia over the past couple of years. With support from Buyer Members including Lego, the Ethical Toy Program’s Family-Friendly Spaces (FFS) scheme has grown from two participating factories in 2016 to 30 in 2019. 

Early indications that US retail is off to a positive start as UK shops ready for Monday’s reopening.  The encouraging data from a survey by Mastercard revealed that total US retail sales, excluding the automobile sector, dropped 5.6% in May from a year ago, an improvement on April when the figures showed a 14.1% decline.

University Games US has announced that it has acquired Lagoon Games from AsmodeeThis is the 14th acquisition for University Games and its third in the UK. Founded in 1988, Lagoon has been a key part of the UK book, game, gift and puzzle market. The business has 175 different lines and specialises in supplying gift shops, book stores and garden centres across the UK.  

Retail Sales Fell Only 5.6 Pct In May As Consumer Spending Improves. Consumer spending in the United States gradually increased last month as shoppers arose from lockdown. Mastercard figures indicated that retail sales in the U.S., outside of the auto industry, fell only 5.6 percent in May from a year prior compared to a 14.1 percent drop in April, the Financial Times reported.

Children’s Place Inc. plans to reduce its store network by a third. The children’s apparel retailer is accelerating its “fleet optimization” initiative and is now targeting to close an additional 300 stores by the end of 2021, with 200 closures planned for this year and another 100 planned for 2021. As of May 2, Children’s Place had 920 stores in the U.S. and Canada. 

Amazon, Facebook and Google turn to deep network of political allies to battle back antitrust probes. The tech giants have funded a bevy of political groups, including those producing positive polling, and engaged in other fingerprint-free tactics designed to deter regulators. The approach reflects the growing threats they now face from the Justice Department and the country’s top attorneys general . . .

After Reopening, Walt Disney World Will Need Less Social Distancing, More Air Travel To Improve Profitability. UBS analyst John Hodulik said an earlier-than-anticipated openings of parks has boosted his revenue estimates but that he’s keeping operating income flat due to limitations on attendance required by social distancing.

U.S. RETAIL IMPORTS REMAIN LOW, BUT NOT AS LOW AS PREVIOUSLY FORECAST. “The numbers we’re seeing are still below last year, but are better than what we expected a month ago,” says NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold “It may still be too soon to say, but we’ll take that as a sign that the situation could be slowly starting to improve. 

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Trends, Market Research Reports . . . 

Spielwarenmesse eG surveyed trade professionals and visitors of the Spielwarenmesse®. 1024 answers received and . . .

Spielwarenmesse eG surveyed Spielwarenmesse® exhibitors on the current situation. 548 responses received and . . . 

24% of consumers said their shopping habits will have changed permanently in some way due to COVID-19 . . . Park and ride – a look at wheeled and outdoor toys (UK)

(the above news added after Friday, June 12th)

Demand for kids shows with diverse characters in the United States was up 58.3% in May 2020 versus May 2019, . . . NEW DATA FROM CHINA REFLECTS PATH TO RETAIL RECOVERY, CONSUMERS PLAN TO SPEND 59% of respondents said that they plan to spend about the same on toys. 16% said they expect to spend more while 24% .

 

Company Financial & Brokerage News . . . 

Millennials: Spin Master A High-Upside Stock That Could Double . . . What’s Next For Hasbro? . . . What Is Going On With Mattel, Inc. (NASDAQ:MAT)? . . . Hasbro (HAS) Management Displays Confidence in a 2H Recovery - Jefferies ...Hasbro – Consensus Indicates Potential 28.8% Upside . . . Mattel – Consensus Indicates Potential 6.8% Upside

(the above news added after Friday, June 12th)

Spin Master - Is the Former High-Flying Stock Set to Soar? . . . Five Below (FIVE) Catches Eye: Stock Jumps 9.4% . . . GAMESTOP DIGITAL SALES SPIKE 519% DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC . . . Top 3 "Buy the Dip" Video Game Stocks . . . The Worst Mistake Hasbro Investors Can Make Right Now . . . Mattel Inc. [MAT] moved down -3.41: Why It’s Important . . . Hasbro (NASDAQ:HAS) Downgraded by Consumer Edge to Equal Weight . . . 3 Dividend Stocks to Buy on Sale: Hasbro, Disney . . . GAMESTOP SALES DOWN 34% . . . Mattel Has The Means To Reinvent Itself . . . Mattel the top toy pick at JPMorgan . . . Genius Brands CEO Says Short Reports Full Of 'Misleading Statements' . . . why Hasbro Inc. [HAS] is a Good Choice for Investors After New Price Target of $87.31 

Financial Reporting . . . 

IDW Publishing grew sales by $1 million in its fiscal Q2 ended April 30, but still generated a $600,000 operating loss in the period, the company announced in its Q2 earnings release Monday.  The sales increase came despite the Diamond Comic Distributors shutdown in April; IDW said it pivoted to focus on backlist, digital sales, direct-to-consumer sales, foreign sales, and book channel.

Spin Master (TOY.TO)- Toronto Jun 8, 2020 (Thomson StreetEvents) --  Edited Transcript of TOY.TO earnings conference call or presentation 7-May-20 1:30pm GMT

Target Bumps Up Dividend, Extending Its Run of Raising Payouts to 49 YearsThe discount retailer, a member of the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats that have paid out higher dividends annually for at least 25 years, on Thursday declared a 3% quarterly dividend increase to 68 cents a share from 66 cents. That would make 2020 the 49th consecutive year in which the company has increased its annual dividend.

Shares of Crown Crafts (NASDAQ:CRWS) decreased 5% after the company reported Q4 results. Earnings per share rose 14.29% year over year to $0.16, which beat the estimate of $0.13. Revenue of $20,307,000 decreased by 6.49% from the same period last year, which missed the estimate of $20,400,000.

Future Financial Reporting . . .

Hasbro to Present at Upcoming Investor Conferences. Brian Goldner, chairman and chief executive officer, and Deborah Thomas, chief financial officer, will participate in the 42nd Nasdaq Investor Conference at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time on June 15, 2020 and at the Jefferies Virtual Consumer Conference at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time on June 23, 2020.

Party City Holdco Inc. (PRTY) - June 12~Announced that its first quarter 2020 financial results will be released prior to market open. The Company will host a conference call on that day to discuss the detailed financial results. Investors and analysts interested in participating in the call are invited to dial 866-270-1533 (international callers please dial 412-317-0797)...

Five Below, Inc. (FIVE) - June 16~Trend-right, high-quality extreme-value retailer for tweens, teens and beyond, announced that it will hold its Annual Shareholder Meeting as a virtual meeting as a result of continuing concerns surrounding COVID-19. The meeting will still be held on June 16 as previously announced. 

Stories & Comments . . . 

Toy Stories: Portraits of Children and their Toys Around the World. Gabriele Galimberti spent more than two years traveling the world, visiting over fifty countries to photograph young children with their toys. The Italian photographer shares in a statement on Toy Stories, “I recorded the spontaneous and natural joy that unites kids despite their diverse backgrounds. Whether the child owns...

What We Learned from ViacomCBS’ Keynote Panel at Licensing Week Virtual. Tuesday’s Licensing Week Virtual keynote – hosted by Pam Kaufman, president, ViacomCBS Consumer Products – brought together a panel of experts from Penguin Random House, Just Play, Family Dollar and Kellogg’s to discuss innovation and leadership in today’s consumer products space. 

Seattle ranks as the best city for gamers. Here's why. Despite major events like Emerald City Comic Con and PAX West being canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Seattle's geek culture still has something to cheer about: a new study by Wallethub ranked Seattle as the most gamer friendly city in the U.S. Seattle has become a thriving tech hub, and companies like Big Fish Games, Nintendo, Amazon Studios, Pokemon...

Mattel’s Statement on Commitment to the Black CommunityAs a company, we are deeply committed to addressing the racism, injustice and violence against Black Americans. Today, we are introducing a corporate program called Play Fair, which articulates the actions we will take both at the corporate-level and through our brands, including: 

Durham board game developer helps raise more than $80,000 for Black Lives Matter, NAACP with sales from 'Rap Godz' game. "So this past week was crazy," said Omari Akil, who created Rap Godz with his brother. The purpose of the game is to live the life and career of a hip-hop artist, ultimately trying to get the most record sales. It's a premise that's attracted non-traditional board-game players.

Hasbro and GameStop have been bringing collectors some fantastic Star Wars The Black Series exclusive figures. This series is called the Gaming Greats, and we have already seen Jedi Knight Revan from Knights of the Old Republic and the Heavy Battle Droid from Battlefront II. The newest releases, however, have been quite the rage with Star Wars fans as the Stormtrooper Commander and the Shadow Trooper from ...

Hello Kitty Founder Shintaro Tsuji, 92, Hands Over Reins Of Sanrio To GrandsonTomokuni Tsuji, 31, who is currently a senior managing director at Sanrio, will become the new CEO of the company taking over from his Grandfather Shintaro Tsuji aged 92. He coincidentally shares a birthday with Hello Kitty on 1 November, and he is 14 years younger than the character itself.

The Revival of Board Games in Lockdown (India) “Whichever team wins gets to do no housework all day.”  NEW DELHI: Govind, a 70 year old businessman in New Delhi, has had his life changed by the lockdown in more ways than one. “I have never spent this much time with my family. Every day I play cards and Ludo with my grandchildren,” he said.

(the above news added after Friday, June 12th)

PAW Patrol Faces Backlash After Supporting Black Voices amid Protests About Police Brutality. A June 2 post on official PAW Patrol social media said the show would be "muting our content until June 7th to give access for Black voices to be heard". Some Twitter users are asking children's television program PAW Patrol to reevaluate their content as protests surrounding police brutality continue to . . .

John Baulch's Friday Blog. It’s almost as if ABC’s Martin Fry had a time machine when he wrote the opening line to The Look of Love, which begat this week’s Blog title. I am sure that most of our worlds are full of very strange arrangements right now: the 30 second commute from the bathroom to the home office, the zoom calls that may or may not feature a goat (seriously, it’s a thing . . .

WIZARDS OF THE COAST REMOVES RACIST 'MAGIC: THE GATHERING' CARDS  For decades now, Magic fans have been pointing out that the art on the Invoke Prejudice card, which was printed in Legends in 1994, looked like it depicted a group of Klansmen with executioner's axes. WotC finally acknowledged this perception yesterday by banning the card in all formats and removing its artwork from the database as well as . . . 

Catan at 25: Checking in on a Once-Revolutionary Board Game. How 'Settlers of Catan' introduced the world to a different kind of family game. (Editor's proud note: I was the first person in North America to interview Klaus Teuber, it was around 2000, before CHITAG was even a thought. I was designing games as my side-hustle and Alan Moon introduced me to Klaus. I'll never forget! ~Mary)

Why Do People Love Games? The Game Maker for The New York Times (Yes! There is a Game Maker) explains. As the Game Maker for The New York Times, I grapple with this question every day. The reductively easy answer is simple: They’re fun! But why are they fun? Do they have to be fun? As we dig deeper and deeper . . .

Reebok and Pixar Have Created Mismatched ‘Toy Story’ Sneakers in Woody and Buzz Designs The sneakers, called the Instapump Fury OG Woody And Buzz, don’t match in design. The right shoe is an ode to Woody, as it incorporates the yellow and red plaid, cow-print vest, brown hat, and star badge details that the sheriff always wears. With the left shoe going to Buzz, it’s white, green, and purple with button details like the ones on his space ranger uniform.

It’s Only a Game! Or So They Say. Board games can provide loads of fun, but taking them too seriously can lead to tears and long-running relationship ruining feuds. In 2016, the British branch of the game manufacturer Hasbro set up a hotline to help mediate family disputes sparked ...

TARGET PLANS TO COMMIT $10 MILLION, ONGOING RESOURCES FOR REBUILDING EFFORTS AND ADVANCING SOCIAL JUSTICEWe are a community in pain. That pain is not unique to the Twin Cities — it extends across America. The murder of George Floyd has unleashed the pent-up pain of years, as have the killings of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor,” said Target CEO Brian Cornell.

What I've Learned From a Lifetime of Playing Videogames. If there’s one stereotype I would love to see go away it would be the “games are children’s toys” that grew from the ’80s. I’m the only member of my family to really go all-in on playing videogames and never grew out of them. I play everything from light games designed to relax to, all the way to brutal titles where you are going to have to work for every win.

Two Banbury students shortlisted for BAFTA's Young Game Designer awards. Tackling the issue of mental health through a computer game has led to BAFTA recognition for two 14 year old  Banbury students, Alex Castle and Daniel Purvis. Alex and Daniel’s game is titled 'My Escape' and revolves around the issues of mental health and adolescence.

Toy World spoke with senior executives from  toy companies Mattel, MGA, Green Bear, TOMY and Zuru addressing sustainability challenges head-on, to find out how materials, packaging and play itself can pave the way to a greener future. The article also examines how, as well as looking at the materials the toy itself is made from, companies are overhauling packaging to reduce the footprint of some products,

Remembering the toy industry's past . . . 

The Tamagotchi is back and millennials can feel the '90s nostalgia. An electronic pet that was part of countless millennial childhoods is returning to North America this summer repackaged as a new product -- Tamagotchi On Wonder Garden. Unlike the original virtual pet...

Sneak-peek at Tutankhamun’s childhood toys. This collection of toys will be highlighted in the opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum at the end of 2020. CAIRO

(the above news added after Friday, June 12th)

Tim Walsh: Who Invented Mr Potato Head? | WTFF (Where's the Fun From)

Tim Walsh: Who Invented Good Luck Trolls? | WTFF? (Where's the Fun From)

Tim Walsh: Who invented the Teddy Bear? | WTFF? (Where's the Fun From)

PlaytimeFun_540x250_BloomReport_Ad_SEL_L

Worldwide Licensing News . . .  

Think outside the cube with new Rubik’s collectibles. Bandai America launched Charaction Cubes, a line of collectible figures that combine fandom with puzzling. While these toys have been available in Japan for a while, it is the first time they are being sold in the U.S. — part of the Rubik’s 40th anniversary celebration.

Morning Star Games is releasing a new adaptation of award-winning You’re Pulling My Leg! game from creator Allen Wolf on June 30. “I created a new version of this game because our world has changed dramatically, and people need a way to connect and build relationships whether they’re able to get together in person or online,” Wolf said.

The Op has signed a licensing agreement with Asmodee to launch a new version of Spot It! with a pop culture twist.

The game, which was also known as Dobble, first debuted in 2010 with an illustrated deck of 55 circular cards, each featuring eight different symbols (hmmm … will some of our favorite characters be making an appearance in those symbols?). Any two cards in the deck always have one symbol in common. The goal is to be . . .

Australian Phenomenon Hit "Bluey" Launches Toys in the U.S. BBC Studios and Moose Toys announce today the eagerly-awaited range of toys inspired by Australia's Emmy® Award-winning Bluey, a popular series on Disney Junior and Disney+, are set to launch in the U.S. this month. The new collection from Australian-based toy company Moose Toys, a leader in innovation, includes a range of plush, figures, playsets, and games designed to spark imagination-fueled fun and invite preschoolers to create their own Bluey-themed adventures at home.

Fred Rogers Productions and 9 Story Brands Add Partners to Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Licensing ProgramBest Ride-On Cars, Children’s Apparel Network, Cottage Door Press, Fisher-Price, Hybrid, M&M Sales, Peejamas, Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, and Steel City Apparel will all help expand the “neighborhood” for the popular property with a broad range of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood apparel, publishing, and toys, set to arrive at retail this year. 

TeamTo and Edizioni Play Press Enter Activity Book Publishing Deal for Mighty Mike in ItalyLeading Kids entertainment company TeamTO has signed a first licensing deal in Italy with publishing company EDIZIONI PLAY PRESS s.r.l. for its animated slapstick hit series, MIGHTY MIKE (78 x 7). The agreement will see a series of sticker, coloring, magic coloring and activity books distributed in kiosks nationwide starting in June 2020.

YouTube Stars Trinity and Beyond Secure Licensing Opportunity with Fashion Angels Enterprises. With over 2.4 billion lifetime views and 5 million subscribers, Trinity and Beyond’s channel showcases relatable activities and entertainment which will soon include on-trend products from their collaboration with Fashion Angels Enterprises. Anticipated products will include arts and crafts kits such as bracelet making sets, backpacks, stickers and stationary.

MGM and Pantone Color Institute Unveil Brand New Shade of Pink Inspired by Pink Panther Character. Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM), a leading entertainment company focused on the production of premium film and television content across platforms, and Pantone, the global authority on color, today unveiled the first ever Pink Panther Pink color, a vibrant and playful unique pink shade inspired by MGM’s iconic character. 

Licensing-related revenue grew 4.5% in 2019. New data from Licensing International puts global revenue for licensed merchandise at US$292.8 billion last year. The entertainment/character segment led the increase, accounting for 43.8% of 2019′s revenue. Corporate brands (20.5%), fashion (11.5%) and sports (10%) rounded out the top-four sectors in terms of revenue. For product categories, apparel (15.1%) and toys (12.2%) led revenue in 2019.

People, Companies, Organizations . . . 

MIKE BOWLING TALKS POUND PUPPIES ON THE ‘POWER KID PODCASTIn this week’s episode of the “Power Kid Podcast,” host Phil Albritton of Power Kid Design speaks with Mike Bowling, creator of the Pound Puppies and Splashlings. On the show, Bowling shares the incredible origin story of Pound Puppies and what he learned along the way. He tells the stories of his serendipitous meetings and rejections...

Baby and infant pre-school brand, Fisher Price, is celebrating its 90 year anniversary. Fisher-Price has been a staple in millions of childhoods and has a rich history of innovation, being the first brand to use and term the phrase ‘pre-school toys’ in 1934 and one of the first companies to make coding available to pre-school kids with the introduction of Code-A-Pillar in 2016.

Hasbro reveals animatronic Deadpool’s head. Deadpool’s Head is described as a “premium interactive head” that includes more than 600 lines of dialogue and expressive movement. It is enhanced with an app for iOS and Android, and reacts to light, sound, and motion. It can even sense certain “scenarios,” such as being placed in a cold refrigerator.

The Pokémon Co. Reveals New Games, In-Game Events. President and CEO Tsunekazu Ishihara provided updates and news for a variety of Pokémon titles including a free new app designed to help kids with brushing their teeth. The mobile app uses augmented reality and the front-facing camera to incorporate Pokémon into the teeth-brushing experience. 

Sesame Workshop has promoted SVP of creative development Kay Wilson Stallings to EVP of creative and production, with the task of overseeing the company’s slate and growing the company’s global presence. Officially starting in the new position June 16, Wilson Stallings replaces Brown Johnson, who retired from the company last month. 

Toysmith inks distribution deal with Anne McGilvray & Co. Following the news that Toysmith parted ways with some of its long-time sales reps early this spring, the company inked a deal with Anne McGilvray & Co. (AMCI) to sell its entire portfolio of products in the U.S. Under the new pact, AMCI will begin selling the Toysmith line July 1.

Mattel gets greener with new hire. Pamela Gill-Alabaster will lead the toymaker's eco-focused efforts as its head of sustainability.

Gill-Alabaster specializes in minimizing corporate environmental impact, developing sustainability metrics and creating long-term brand purpose strategies. She started in the role this week and reports to Mattel president and COO Richard Dickson.

LONNIE JOHNSON, PROLIFIC ENGINEER AND HERO TO MILLIONS OF KIDS (EVEN IF THEY DON’T KNOW IT)THE INVENTOR OF THE COOLEST TOY ON EARTH ALSO WORKED ON SOME OF THE COOLEST “TOYS” IN THE SOLAR SYSTEM. In the case of the Super Soaker, that somebody was not an anonymous team at a toy company but one man, a former US Air Force and NASA engineer named Dr. Lonnie Johnson.

LEGO and Nintendo reveal full product range for new LEGO SuperMario play experience. The LEGO Group today revealed the full product portfolio for its LEGO® Super Mario™ experience. Fans can expand on the LEGO Super Mario range announced in April with a whole new range of Expansion Sets, collectible Character Packs and Power-Up Packs. 

MEGALOPOLIS TOYS GOES RETRO WITH MADBALLS AND BARNYARD COMMANDOS ACTION FIGURESMegalopolis Toys is diving into the ’80s and ’90s for a new line of 6-inch action figures inspired by retro toy properties. First up? Madballs and Barnyard Commandos. Launched in 1985, Madballs was one of the popular gross-out toys of the decade. It sold millions of toys and inspired animated specials, comic books, video...

When it comes to diversity, it’s ‘time for some bravery’. While representation in the kids industry has grown, "with a starting position of nil, we've hardly made progress at all," writes Safi Idea's Wa'qaar Mirza. While many would argue that there is now more diversity in the industry than ever before—whether that is through the representation of women, people of color, other gender or sexual identities, or religious beliefs...

The Lego Group unveils new build-able Disney charactersThe new Disney Mickey and Minnie Mouse Lego characters will be available from 1st July. Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse have been brought to life in build-able Lego brick form. With this new construction set, fans can immerse themselves in the magical world of Lego Disney.

Ninety and still into toys: how Fisher-Price pulled a town out of depressionLegendary US brand behind childhood classics weathers controversy and Covid-19 to celebrate milestone 90th anniversary. In the coming days. With it comes a rare opportunity for uncomplicated nostalgia for a company that over the decades has produced around 5,000 types of toys under the logo: “Our Work is Child’s Play”.

Mattel’s Barbie To ‘Increase Black Representation’ And ‘Spotlight More Black Role Models. In a statement  the company writes, “Research shows, starting at the age of five, girls stop believing that their gender can be anything. This issue is called the ‘Dream Gap.’ Early indicators suggest that for Black girls, the impact is even larger and this self-perception at a young age can be detrimental. We are committed . . .

Mike Selinker - Coming clean in my complicity. In the 24 hours before I did the most idiotic and hurtful thing I’ve ever done on the internet, three public entities I’m associated with all got called out for highly problematic actions. I need to talk about them, and me. There is a statement from my company over here, but this is just me. It isn’t a “statement,” just my thoughts . . . 

(the above news added after Friday, June 12th)

Chief Play Monster Bob Wann on PLAYMONSTER: RESILIENCE AND OPPORTUNITY DURING UNCERTAINTY. I have never faced as extreme a business challenge as the current COVID-19 pandemic. Protecting the health and safety of our staff and families, re-engineering multiple warehouse safety protocols and productivity guidelines, navigating supply issues and unprecedented retail closures, as well as . . .

Jeff Cornelison is back at Kids2, where he previously served for nearly 20 years. Cornelison rejoins the Georgia-based company as senior vice president/general manager joint ventures. In the strategic partnerships division, Cornelison will focus on the company’s partnership with Hape Toys.

Sony just revealed the PlayStation 5, coming later this yearSony showed two versions of the console, including one standard “PlayStation 5” and another “PlayStation 5 Digital Edition” that doesn’t have a disc reader. This suggests it will only have a hard drive for storing games, and it may cost less than the other version. Sony didn’t talk about pricing or a release date for the console, other than saying it will come later this year. 

Brick Fanatics’ Top 20 LEGO Sets List. Track the hottest, most in-demand and currently available LEGO sets with Brick Fanatics’ Top 20 LEGO Sets List With so many LEGO sets released each month, it’s hard to keep track of – let alone budget for – everything that the LEGO Group puts out. That’s where Brick Fanatics’ Top 20 LEGO Sets List comes in.

Entertainment One has appointed former HBO president of programming Michael Lombardo as President, Global Television.

Following its acquisition by Hasbro last year, eOne serves as the entertainment arm of the company and is charged with creating content from Hasbro’s library of over 1,500 properties including popular brands such as Dungeons & Dragons, Power Rangers and Transformers. 

Gary Grant, founder and chief executive of The Entertainer, has been announced as one of retail’s most influential leaders of 2020 in the Retail 100, an annual ranking published by RWRC, home of Retail Week and World Retail Congress. This year, the Retail 100 has placed special emphasis on leaders who have stepped up in the face of the pandemic and made tough but necessary decisions in response.

Hasbro's Transformers BotBots toys. Wheater you love them or hate them, these tiny little marvels of robot goodness were designed in-house at Hasbro. Senior Director of Global Brand Marketing Ben Montano posed a simple question: "how do we create everyday objects that have more than meets the eye feel and what would it look like?"

Toy manufacturer Funskool India on Tuesday announced the elevation of R Jeswant as its Chief Executive Officer  Jeswant was holding the responsibility of senior vice- president (sales and marketing) prior to taking over the new role, the company said. Jeswant succeeds John Baby, who was responsible for boosting exports by setting up the company's third manufacturing unit at Ranipet in Tamil Nadu.

Kidscreen launching 3-month initiative to connect post-secondary animation and children’s media students with experienced mentors. This Next Wave Mentoring Program aims to help graduating students bridge the gap between school and a career in the kids entertainment industry. 

69th REA Nominees Revealed. 21 retailers will be recognized for their excellence during the prestigious Retailer Excellence Awards, hosted by by Gifts & Decorative Accessories, in seven retail categories, including social media outreach, socially responsible efforts, visual displays and more. Winners will be announced at the first-ever virtual REA award ceremony, Thursday, Aug. 6. 

DC CUTTING OFF DIAMOND In a dramatic move that transforms the landscape for comic stores, DC Comics has announced that its comics and graphic novels will no longer be distributed to independent retailers by Diamond Comic Distributors.  The change will take effect with any titles that have not already hit Final Order Cut-Off with Diamond.

Janet Hsu named CEO of Horizon Group USA The former Mattel and Saban Brands exec will focus on expanding into new categories and opportunities at the New Jersey-based company, which focuses on activity kits and DIY products. She will start creating opportunities across new categories beginning on July 6, taking over the role from owner Roshan Wijerama.

Genius Brands International named Margaret Loesch as its executive chairman of the newly launched Kartoon Channel, which debuts on June 15.The legendary TV executive who launched multiple hit series, including the Power Rangers franchise, has a new role.  Joining Loesch is David Neuman, former president of Walt Disney Television, as chief creative officer. Neuman will work alongside Loesch and Kartoon Channel General Manager Caroline Tyre.

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

American Girl is thanking front-line heroes with a new initiative, and the dolls have received some new outfits in the processThe new look is part of the Mattel brand’s #ThankYouHeroes initiative, which other products including Barbie and Fisher-Price have also been involved in. Every outfit sold will lead American Girl to donate a doll craft activity book to First Responders Children’s Foundation. 

Mothercare liquidates Irish operation​. First major retail chain in Ireland to point the finger of blame squarely at Covid-19.  Mothercare is to liquidate its 14-store Irish portfolio, after weeks of disruption caused by the coronavirus lockdowns ultimately proved too much for it to cope with. The specialist baby and kids retailer wound up the last of its UK stores in January,

Toys'R'Us Singapore reopening in Phase 2, promises regular cleaning & sanitizingGood news for kids—and perhaps parents—Toys"R"Us Singapore will be among the numerous retail stores reopening in Phase 2, which will start on June 19. Everyone should wear masks and maintain safe distancing while in the store. Those entering Toys"R"Us will also be required to check in and check out using SafeEntry. 

U.K. stores hope to lure back COVID-weary shoppersNon-essential" retailers — those selling fashion, toys and books, among other items — are reopening Monday across England for the first time since the country went into lockdown in late March to try to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

(the above news added after Friday, June 12th)

Toy Industries Europe on how toy retailers will survive the pandemic.   Sanjay Luthra, chairman of Toy Industries Europe and MD EMEA Mattel, spoke to experts across Europe, including Ryan Blane, Florenci Verbon, Frédérique Tutt, Alpana Virani, Gary Grant, Philippe Gueydon and Toy World’s very own John Baulch, about how the toy industry might emerge from the pandemic in time for the traditional Christmas peak.

Film and television production may be able to resume in California on June 12, but major studios are still weeks — if not months — away from rolling cameras. Before shooting can start or resume on movies and TV shows, the various labor unions that represent everyone from the grips to the actors to the directors, have to sign off on safety procedures for how sets should operate in the age of coronavirus.  

Sony has begun work on Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 2 amid widespread production delays due to the coronavirus pandemic. Nick Kondo, Sony Imageworks lead animator, said Monday that he kicked off work on the project, which is due to be released in 2022. "First day on the job!" Kondo tweeted.

Q is for quarantine. Sesame Workshop is partnering with the Inter-American Development Bank to launch preschool content in Latin America and the Caribbean to support families during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sesame Workshop will make 100 hours of content—including new original animations, songs, four seasons of Sésamo (pictured), as well as new episodes of Elmo’s World and Cookie’s Crumby Pictures . . .

Exclusive: Times like these – touching base with suppliersToy World spoke to manufacturers to find out how they have been coping during the lockdown, and how they’ve been supporting retailers. Here’s a snapshot of what suppliers told us in the June issue of Toy World . . .

Latest data shows UK toy sales remain resilient during lockdown. While many non-essential categories have struggled to match traditional sales during lockdown, the UK toy market has proved remarkably resilient. According to NPD, the value of UK toy sales rose by 17% in the two months from the beginning of lockdown compared with the same period last year. While parents and children in the UK have been buying fewer toys, they have been spending more on those they have bought during lockdown.

Legoland Windsor is preparing to welcome guests back from 4th July, as nationwide lockdown restrictions continue to easeWith warm weather ahead and pent up demand for days out from families who have endured 10 weeks of lockdown, the park, which is owned by Merlin Entertainments, has announced a slew of measures to ensure social distancing is adhered to and visitors are kept safe. 

Learning in lockdown: How US and UK kids differDavid Kleeman looks at kids' engagement with educational content while at home, and how they made sense of the onslaught of news. When an inflection point like the COVID-19 lockdown comes along, researchers look at how people respond to disruption. Does it reinforce existing habits, inspire experimentation, or prompt reversion to past, comforting favorites?

Hong Kong’s Health Secretary, Sophia Chan, announced extended restrictions on visitors by a further three months. Hong Kong initially introduced a travel ban on visitors from 24th March, which has already been extended and was due to expire this month. This measure has now been extended to late Sept. Arrivals to Hong Kong have to undergo testing upon landing, before going straight into quarantine for 14 days. 

Connected TV Usage Remains High as Covid-19 Restrictions Ease While Linear Drops. The Covid-19 pandemic meant that most people around the country remained housebound—and, in many cases, were watching television—for most of March, April and May. Now, even with restrictions easing, rising temperatures and local businesses reopening driving people outside once again, connected TV usage remains well above pre-Covid-19 levels, according to new data from Nielsen.

Toy Safety and Counterfeit Related Articles . . . 

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) updates safety standards of projectile and aquatic toys. The ACCC has issued updates to the safety standards of projectile toys and aquatic toys.  The standards are in place to continue protect children from serious injury, hazards, and in some extreme cases, death. 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection seizes more counterfeit Pokemon figures, 2nd time in month. Just one month after seizing more than 86,000 counterfeit Pokemon action figures, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in Harrisburg seized more than 120,000 more counterfeit Pokemon action figures. If authentic, this latest seizure would have had a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of more than $840,000. 

More than 70 per cent of children’s swimming supplies in Hong Kong fail to meet European safety standards: consumer watchdogThe Consumer Council found that all 22 products tested contained naphthalene – classified as a possible carcinogenic substance – with concentrations ranging between 0.2 and 4.3mg/kg. 6 products in the study were in excess of the 2mg/kg limits of naphthalene recommended...

(the above news added after Friday, June 12th)

Orthopaedic surgeons warn against trampoline use while staying active this summer.  With media reporting an increase in sales of outdoor toys such as trampolines and inflatable toys because of COVID-19, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) is reminding parents to encourage families to think before they bounce.

Developer of Apps Popular with Children Agrees to Settle FTC Allegations It Illegally Collected Kids’ Data without Parental Consent

A developer of apps that are popular with children has agreed to pay $150,000 and to delete personal information it illegally collected from children under 13 to settle Federal Trade Commission allegations. 

Peggy Brown Consulting Ad 540x250 pxl.jp

Press Releases . . . 

MoFU Launches an Exciting Kickstarter Campaign to Bring Award-winning Toys to the USAYoshiaki Ito, creator of MōFU, or Mighty Omega Folding Universe, a geometric puzzle toy, is preparing to bring his toys to the States after a successful Kickstarter campaign. MōFU are toys inspired by both small Brooklyn apartments, traditional Japanese toys, and origami. The toys can be unfolded, positioned, and played with, before being returned back into their cube shape and nestled into their resting boxes.

Roylco in Anderson is the latest Upstate company to keep employees working by making personal protective equipment for the health care industry. The company is making face shields and foam pieces that add a measure of comfort to the health care workers who wear them for long shifts, according to a news release. Roylco made the pivot when both of its enterprises faced a downturn because of closed schools and factories. Roylco’s education division develops and manufactures early learning products for the classroom and home.

Licensing Works! ® has been appointed the U.S. licensing agent for PIRATA & CAPITANO ™ , the new animated adventure series from Paris-based animation production and distribution studio Millimages. Licensing Works! will debut PIRATA & CAPITANO this week during Licensing Week Virtual. Licensing and promotional partners are sought in all key categories including toys, collectibles, plush, costumes, games, puzzles, publishing, apparel and accessories, party goods, consumables, home and room décor, as well as QSR promotions and . . .

Aurora World Inc. Tapped as Master Plush Licensee for Millimages’ Popular Molang ™ Character in North AmericaAurora World Inc. has been appointed the master plush licensee for North America by Paris-based animation production and distribution studio Millimages, brokered through Licensing Works! ® , for the popular Molang character. Aurora is set to introduce the new line in early 2021. The product launch will include plush in a wide range of product translations in varying price points and sizes from $10 retail and . . .

(the above news added after Friday, June 12th)

Bandai America Launches Tamagotchi On Wonder Garden​. Everyone's favorite virtual pet continues to evolve! Bandai America is set to grow the Tamagotchi franchise in the North American market with the release of the Tamagotchi On Wonder Garden. Fans can be first in line for the new release with pre-sales starting online on June 11 at Target, Amazon, WalMart, GameStop, Best Buy and Entertainment Earth with availability at mass, online and specialty retailers nationwide starting July 26.

Zynga and Snap Games Announce Multi-Game Partnership-Zynga Inc. (Nasdaq: ZNGA), a global leader in interactive entertainment, today announced plans to create more multiplayer titles exclusively for Snap Inc’s (NYSE: SNAP) gaming platform, Snap Games. The first new game under this collaboration, Bumped Out, was revealed at today’s Snap Partner Summit and is available starting today exclusively on Snap Games. 

Wizard Entertainment, Inc. Announces Streamed Interactive Programming With ‘Wizard World Virtual Experiences. Wizard Entertainment, Inc. (OTCBB:WIZD) has emerged as the industry leader in producing and distributing streamed online programming on its own proprietary and exclusive channel allowing fans to engage with their favorite celebrities. As the first mover in this market Wizard Entertainment has established itself as the leader in producing innovative high-quality interactive streamed content.

Commonwealth Toy & Novelty is awarded the North American master plush license for the iconic Fun with Spot™ brand. The new lines will launch beginning Fall 2020. The deal was brokered by Licensing Works!® on behalf of The Eric and Gillian Hill Family Trust/Salspot Ltd., managed worldwide by Penguin Ventures out of the U.K. Capitalizing on the 40th Anniversary of the first publication of the original Where’s Spot? lift-the-flap storybook, created by Eric Hill in 1980, the range will include plush of all sizes and materials; feature plush; wooden toys and puzzles. 

Uncanny Brands, the leader in pop culture licensed small appliances, takes on another Marvel icon with the Captain America Popcorn Maker. This healthy, hot air popper transforms Cap’s shield into the lid of the machine. The lid is removable and doubles as a colorful serving bowl. An inner plastic cup measures the perfect serving of corn and warms butter. This perfect companion for watching all of your favorite Marvel Captain America and Avengers movies is available now, exclusively on amazon.com.

 

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

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

Warner Bros and DC partner on DC Fandome eventFans can virtually attend the largest gathering of talent, announcements and content reveals in the history of DC. On Saturday 22nd August, starting at 10am PDT, Warner Bros. will welcome fans into the DC FanDome – a free virtual fan experience where no badge is required. Accessible for 24 hours at DCFanDome.com...

Cartoon Forum goes forward with live event. The annual European animation pitch fest will move forward with safety measures in place, but Ottawa International Animation Festival has opted to go virtual. Running from September 14 to 17, online registrations are open today for Cartoon Forum “in real life.” Currently, the French government is allowing events with less than 5,000 participants to...

GAMA BOARD, OFFICER ELECTION RESULTS Organization Reported a Loss in 2019. The Game Manufacturers Association held its annual membership meeting on Tuesday, which included elections for two officer posts and two at-large directors.  We reported the initial roster of candidates earlier today (see "List of Candidates for GAMA Board, Officers"); two additional candidates for Director-at-Large...

ASTRA CAMP - S-MORE THAN A TRADE SHOW. Save the dates - August 4, 5, 6 and August 11, 12, 13 for a two-week summer event. Get ready for product discovery, camper social events (including the can't-miss Lip Sync Battle) and education sessions. All events will be hosted virtually and you'll come away with the tools and support you need to navigate the wilderness of Q4 ahead! 

The Game Manufacturers Association has released a new list of candidates for the board of directors election to be held at the annual membership meeting Tuesday, June 16, at 3 p.m. ET.  The list drops three candidates that appeared on the list when it was originally released on June 9, and adds one.

(the above news added after Friday, June 12th)

Comic-Con International released the list of nominees for the 2020 Eisner Awards. IDW Publishing garnered the most nominations, with 13 across all its imprints, plus one shared nomination.  Fantagraphics Books got 12 nominations, and Image Comics picked up 11.  Other publishers with multiple nominations were DC Comics (seven and five shared), Europe Comics (seven), Shortbox (five), Scholastic (4), Marvel (4) and...

NY NOW And Shoppe Object Postpone New York Market Week.  NY NOW, the modern wholesale market for retailers and specialty buyers seeking diversity and discovery, has decided, in light of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis to postpone the 2020 Summer Market which had been scheduled for August 8-12, 2020. The NY NOW Fall Edition will showcase at the Javits Center on October 18 – 20, 2020 and Shoppe Object...

Virtual events are here. Is the industry ready? As markets and conferences go digital, execs from MIFA, CMC and MIPTV, as well as producers and broadcasters, weigh in on the ups and downs of the shift. While some in the kids industry see value in online events—and the consensus is that there will be an increasing trend towards incorporating more digital touchpoints into future markets—for many, nothing...

The Game Manufacturers Association has canceled Origins Online, the online event created on the dates of live event Origins Game Fair when it was postponed until Fall (see "GAMA Postpones Origins Game Fair").  The move comes after a day in which dozens of programming, gaming, and company participants dropped out, citing the organization’s lack of support for Black Lives Matter . . .

Licensing International announced the 2020 Licensing International Excellence Awards will take place virtually 13th Aug 2–3:30pm EDT. Typically held in conjunction with Licensing Expo in Las Vegas, this year’s ceremony has been shifted to an online-only virtual event given the ongoing coronavirus situation. This year’s awards feature 175 nominees across 23 categories, including the new Best Agency Award. Nominees were selected from more than 600 submissions from 20 countries and judged by a global panel of 150 experts from all areas of the industry. 

aNb Media's (US) Top Ten Stories of the Week . . .

Toyworld (UK) Most Read Stories of the Week

ICv2: THE BUSINESS OF GEEK CULTURE's (US) Top Ten Stories of the Week

  1.  WizKids Introduces New 2D Line of 'Dungeons & Dragons' Miniatures
  2.  GAMA Cancels Origins Online
  3.  Begin the Siege With 'WizKids 4D Settings: War Machines'
  4.  Funko Plans to Cut 25% of Its Employees
  5.  Wizards of the Coast Reveals Product Info For 'Magic: The Gathering' 'Double Masters VIP Edition'
  6.  Wizards of the Coast Introduces New 'Magic: The Gathering' 'Welcome Booster'
  7.  Wizards of the Coast Reveals More Deets on 'Magic: The Gathering' 'Core Set 2021'
  8.  Games Workshop Announces New Starter Set for 'Aeronautica Imperialis'
  9.  Z-Man Games Announces 'Pandemic: Hot Zone - North America'
10.  Catalyst Updates 'BattleTech' Release Schedule

Spielwarenmesse Magazine's (Germany) Top Five Articles 

5 Key steps for starting a toy business

The impact of Coronavirus on children’s behaviour and five trend predictions to watch out for 

Plastic Versus The Environment: A Threat To The Global Toy Industry? 

Corona Statements – Worldwide

Where do memes come from?

Toy & Hobby (Australia) Top Articles for the Past Two Weeks (catching up)

See the top stories for this week ending 19 June: 

Mixed reviews for Big W's Toy Mania queuing system

The secret behind Artiwood's, the 2020 Specialty Toy product of the year

Aussie toy suppliers in focus

ACCC updates safety standards of projectile and aquatic toys

 

The top stories for week ending 12 June:

Wesfarmers reveals how Kmart, Target and Catch are performing during the pandemic

 University Games closes on 14th acquisition

Australian Geographic taps Toy Networx for master toy licence

QBD to host iconic Australian brand with new store-in-store concept

Big Wheel Toys secures distribution for Eolo toys

Video of the Week

Nick Metzler (Spin Master): 

"Kids, You are a Professional Inventor and You have the Cute Factor!"

Know Creative Kids?  Young Inventor Spring Challenge Closes June 30th! 

 

For articles from past weeks, please click “Past Report Section”. (link tba)

 

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

 

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

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

Managing Editor: Graeme Thomson

Assistant Editor: Patrick Fisher