the Bloom Report

Topline Summary of Toy & Game Industry News June 1 - 5, 2020

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 . . . 

Magformers-2_edited.jpg

As I write to provide some explanation of what the Magformers company is about, it would be a miss to not recognize and thank Phil Bloom for over two decades of devoted support, stories, insight, stock prices (ugh!) and features of the industry that provides us our livelihood.  Thank you, Mr. Bloom!

Thank you to Mary Couzin, her board, and staff at CHITAG for the opportunity to tell some good news, to talk about toys and how children’s lives can be shaped through the power of play.  We also appreciate the opportunity to be part of the Spring 2020 Young Inventor’s Challenge currently going on.  It is great to be along side Mattel, Scholastic, Astra during a time when many school children have been out much earlier than expected.

Hard to believe that eight years are coming up on bringing the Magformers company to the Metro Detroit area.  From the kitchen table of a home in Medford, Oregon where the company was truly a mom and pop operation, run by a single mother of two daughter, Stephanie Hunts.  In 2012, at the time her business partner in North and South America was a very energized, forward thinking South Korean gentleman that had fallen in love with the brand and was seeing growth in the markets he owned in Europe and Asia.  Kee Young Park, was clearly on a mission to develop a global brand.  One thing was also clear, he also had great pride for his country of South Korea.  In building the company, we often discussed the importance of education, and how the Magformers geometric shapes were useful in teaching children mathematics.  Just several years ago the South Korean Educational Ministry bestowed award and recognition for the efforts of teaching upon Magformers.  (Read on)

Op-ed from Leslie Scott, our Person of the Week...

I’m a board game designer. I became a board game designer in 1982, and at the same time I founded a business to publish my first game, Jenga, which I launched at The London Toy & Hobby Fair in 1983. And so began a long career in the business of play, and so began my interest in Business, and in Play.  

Leslie Scott Associates, the business I founded 38 years ago is alive and kicking, though it looks quite different today. It morphed into Oxford Games Ltd along the way and we published over forty games in its first 20 years, all designed in-house. We continue to re-print two or three of the best of these games under the OGL label today, but we are not really any longer in the business of publishing games per se. However, we are very much still in the business of designing games. I say we, but I should clarify this. My daughter, Freddie Scott Vollrath . . .   (Read on!)

(Photo credit: Sue Macpherson)

 

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 . . .  

Denmark considers blocking Amazon over sale of dangerous products - Denmark’s Chamber of Commerce found 42 of 50 products purchased on platforms like Amazon and Wish were dangerous for consumers. As reported by Bloomberg, Denmark has revealed it plans to block the websites of Amazon.com and other online retailers if they don’t do more to stop the sale of dangerous products on its platforms.

‘Lemon’ or not, Trump is stuck with Phase 1 China trade deal~President Donald Trump has little choice but to stick with his Phase 1 China trade deal despite his anger at Beijing over the coronavirus pandemic, new Hong Kong security rules, and dwindling hopes China can meet U.S. goods purchase targets. The U.S.-China trade negotiations took more than two years, heaped tariffs on $370 billion of Chinese products, whipsawed financial markets and dimmed global growth prospects well before the coronavirus outbreak crushed them. In recent weeks, suggestions that Trump...

Retail will come back, moral imperatives come first: Jerry Storch~CNBC’s Kelly Evans discusses the outlook of retail amid social unrest and the coronavirus pandemic with Jerry Storch of Storch Advisors, former Toys R Us CEO. SEE THE VIDEO...

Accused toy counterfeiters charged by prosecutors~Twenty-two individuals have been charged for producing and selling knockoffs of Japanese toys worth more than 20 million yuan (US$2.8 million). According to prosecutors, two suspects named Weng and Hong opened factories in areas including Huizhou and Dongguan cities in Guangdong Province in 2016 and produced counterfeit toys under Japanese brands including Bandai and Megahouse. These toys were then sent to stores in Guangzhou City for online and offline sale. Last year, Huangpu police received a complaint from...

Party City plans debt swap~Party City Holdco Inc. is hoping to erase about half of its debt. The retailer has proposed a debt-for-equity swap with bondholders that would erase about $450 million of its approximately $850 million debt. In addition, Party City is planning to raise $100 million in new capital to increase its financial strength and help fund the company’s global operations and ongoing transformation initiatives. The deal would give the bondholders a 19.9% equity interest in the retailer, along with two new bond issues totaling $285 million, with maturity dates in 2025 and 2026...

Why Target Is A Corporate Bullseye For Minneapolis, Nationwide Protests~The death of George Floyd has sparked national outrage, with protests both peaceful and violent taking place in major American cities. Among the protests over the past week, many big and small businesses have been ransacked, with busted windows, stolen inventory and some storefronts even set on fire. In the corporate world, Target Corporation has taken center stage...

Nintendo files patent for protecting IC tags within toys~Nintendo has filed a new patent, but it really isn't anything new for fans. The patent aims to protect IC tags within toys that are soft or plush. IC tags in this case refers to the NFC feature that amiibo have. Nintendo has made a giant plush Yoshi amiibo that had to include some sort of special protection for the tag inside, and now the Big N feels like what they've come up with is worthy of ap patent. If you really want to sift through the entire patent, you can do so here...

The Corona Babies Are Coming — Invest Accordingly~I'm willing to bet you know someone who recently got pregnant. And if not, you know someone who knows someone who recently got pregnant. How would I know that? Well, it's pretty simple... The combination of months-long lockdowns and disruptions to health services and access to contraceptives during the COVID-19 pandemic has created a perfect storm for new pregnancies. You know how it works: isolated adults – contraceptives = baby. (See the birds and the bees for reference.) This won't be the first time...

Financing for uncertainty~Everything is changing rapidly. Retailers need financing that allows them to evolve with the circumstances. In less than two months, everything changed. It is easy to forget how quickly this has happened. What we needed to do and what we thought the future held on March 1 changed again on March 15 and again on April 1. It has continued to change every day since. To adapt to the rapid change, companies needed to triage. The first mission was to implement safety protocols to protect employees and comply with new government mandates...

Trade between the US and Hong Kong under threat~As Beijing takes the controversial decision to impose a new security law on the territory, it has been revealed that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement: “No reasonable person can assert today that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy from China, given facts on the ground.” The US Secretary of State has already informed Congress that he believes Hong Kong no longer merits special treatment under US law. This has potential major economic implications for Hong Kong’s status as a trade hub...

Chalk One Up to the Knock-Off~Addressing issues of design patent infringement, copyright infringement, trade dress infringement and unfair competition, the US Court of Appeals affirmed a district court’s grant of summary judgment on all claims. Lanard Toys Limited v. Dolgencorp LLC, Ja-Ru, Inc., Toys “R” Us-Delaware, Inc., Case No. 2019-1781 (Fed. Cir. May 14, 2020) (Lourie, J.). Lanard makes and sells a toy chalk holder designed to look like a pencil, and owns a design patent and copyright on its design. In 2011, Lanard began selling its chalk holder to Dolgencorp, a national...
Manufacturer Strikes Out on Three IP Theories Asserted to Enforce Its Claimed Rights in Product Design~On May 14, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision in Lanard Toys Limited v. Dolgencorp LLC et al., Case No. 2019-178, affirming summary judgment for the defendants and dismissing claims for design patent and copyright infringement. The claims were grounded in a challenging intellectual property law concept: the level of protection available for objects claimed to have both aesthetic and utilitarian functions. While the decision does little to provide...

Lego Sues Construction Toy Maker for Trademark Infringement~Lego A/S sued a Florida company that makes lighted construction toys for allegedly infringing its copyrights and trademarks. Laser Pegs Ventures LLC’s figurines could be confused with Lego’s MInifigures and misuse trademarks covering Lego’s connecting “studs,” according to the May 22 complaint filed in U.S. District Court. Lego said Laser Pegs’ figurines are “strikingly similar” to the overall look and feel of its Minifigures. Laser Pegs sells the figurines through Michaels, Walmart, and Barnes & Noble, th...

Google hit with $5bn class-action lawsuit for deceptive tracking practices. More than 70 percent of online publishers rely on Google's services and are not required by the company to disclose its practices behind the scenes

Take-Two cancelled game designer studios projects and poached its staff. Staff find out about project closure through Linkedin text

‘TOO SOON’ TO DETERMINE POST-PANDEMIC RETAIL RECOVERY, NRF SAYS. Not factoring in the new wave of disruption from the current state of civil unrest being displayed across the country, the National Retail Federation (NRF) says its too soon to start guessing how the U.S. economy will recover.

ELECTRONIC TOYS MARKET STATISTICS AND RESEARCH ANALYSIS RELEASED IN LATEST INDUSTRY REPORT 2020 | CORONAVIRUS-COVID19 IMPACT ANALYSIS WITH TOP MANUFACTURERS ANALYSIS: AGGLO, MATTEL, VTECH, GEOFFREY, ESTRELA, ETC. | INFORGROWTH

MORE STORES LOOTED, DAMAGED IN RIOTING Chicago, California  

FOUR VENERABLE STORES LOOTED, BURNED, DAMAGED IN RIOTING Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Santa Monica  

The Value Of Amazon Buying J.C. Penney Could Far Exceed That Of Buying Target, Kohl’s, Or Anyone Else

 

Market Research Reports . . . 

The impact of Covid-19 on the e-commerce Market /// Kids: The Recession-Proof Industry /// YouTube now #1 source for kids' mobile game discovery /// Soft Toys Market Trends, Global Demand and Business Scope 2020 to 2026 /// COVID – 19 Impact On Global Outdoor Toys Market 2020 Analysis By Top Players /// Jigsaw Toys Market, by Manufacturers, Price, Production, Demand, Application, Regions and Forecast 2020-2025 /// Global Cartoon Toys Market Research 2020 with Covid19 Effect Analysis- Growth, Trends and Segment and Forecast To 2027 /// Boys Toys Market Industry Growth by 2027 /// Halloween Costumes Market to Eyewitness Massive Growth by 2026 

Company Financial & Brokerage News . . . 

Mattel (MAT) Up 20.1% Since Last Earnings Report /// Jefferies Upgrades Mattel Inc. (MAT) to Buy /// Party City buys time with debt deal /// Zynga (NASDAQ: ZNGA) is spending $1.8 billion to acquire Peak, the Turkish mobile gaming company /// Mattel Shares Purchased by Aperio Group /// GameStop Urges Shareholders To Stay Onside, As Proxy Fight Heats Up /// Why Is Everyone Talking About Disney Stock? /// Electronic Arts Shareholders Have Enjoyed A 90% Share Price Gain /// JAKKS Pacific Plunges 6.67% on May 28 /// Mattel Dips 4.69% on May 28 /// Is Mattel Stock a Buy? /// Is Hasbro Stock a Buy? /// E-commerce can’t replace the Build-A-Bear Workshop experience /// Why Hasbro’s Outperformance Over 2008 Recession Bodes Well For Its Outlook /// JAKKS Pacific Soars 29.69% on June 03 

 

Financial Reporting . . . 

Big Lots, Inc. (NYSE: BIG) - Q1 ResultsReported net income of $49.3 million, or $1.26 per diluted share, for the first quarter of fiscal 2020 ended May 2, 2020. This result compares to adjusted net income of $37.0 million, or $0.92 per diluted share (non-GAAP), for the first quarter of fiscal 2019. On March 30, 2020 the company withdrew its previously communicated...

Build-A-Bear (BBW) Reports Q1 Loss, Misses Revenue Estimates

Spin Master - Toronto May 30, 2020 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of Spin Master Corp earnings conference call or presentation Thursday, May 7, 2020 at 1:30:00pm GMT

Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT) - 2020 Formal Business and Annual Shareholders’ Meeting Voting Results~Announced shareholder voting results for its Formal Business and Annual Shareholders’ Meeting, which was conducted by a virtual meeting due to the public health impact from the coronavirus outbreak. Approximately 91.7 percent of all outstanding shares...

Future Financial Reporting . . .

Crown Crafts, Inc. to Announce Results for Fiscal 2020 Fourth Quarter - June 10~Announced that it intends to release the results of its operations for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2020 before the market opens. E. Randall Chestnut, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, and Olivia W. Elliott, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, will host a teleconference to discuss the Company's results...

Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NASDAQ: ATVI) - June 11Announced that, due to ongoing public health concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has changed the format of its 2020 annual meeting of stockholders from a physical in-person meeting to a virtual meeting format. The Annual Meeting will be convened as originally planned and immediately adjourned to a virtual-only meeting...

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. Shareholders will not be able to attend the Annual...

Stories & Comments . . . 

John Baulch's Friday Blog - As the exclusive NPD article in the June edition of Toy World illustrates, while volume sales of toys are down in the UK, value sales are up – surely, we must be one of the few non-essential consumer markets to be in that position? While we are not out of the woods yet by any means, I do feel that the past few months have gone far better than we could ever have realistically anticipated . . . 

It’s more than just commercial success too; toys have unquestionably played a pivotal role in helping parents get through the past few months. 

LEGO Pulls Back Police Playsets Following George Floyd Murder~The tragic murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis sparked major protests all over the country, and we’re seeing the first impact in the toy department. An email was sent to affiliate marketers by Rakuten Linkshare on behalf of the LEGO Group. The email requests removal of product listings and features for more than 30 LEGO building sets, Minifigures, and accessories that include representation of police officers, firefighters, criminals, emergency vehicles, and buildings. Sets include the LEGO City...

Why Ancient Toys Are Elusive Artifacts~Children have always played. But evidence of their pretend worlds and games is hidden in the archeological record. Imagine strolling through a forest. Sunlight beams through deciduous branches. Birds chirp and trill. Squirrels scurry. Damp soil pads your footsteps. You know, idyllic forest stuff. You come across a rock overhang and decide to rest. But in that secluded nook sits a crudely carved wooden figurine, with a lion’s head and human torso, surrounded by a ring of smooth, gray pebbles. Dun dun dun. What have you stumbled...

Crayola Teams with Burger King for King JR Kids’ Meal Promotion~Crayola and Burger King have been collaborating for decades and now the pair is kicking off a new promotion to inspire summer creativity. Under a new deal brokered by Jenifer Kramer of Jenerosity Marketing, Burger King is offering a collection of six premium Crayola toys that are available with the purchase of a King JR kids’ meal. Each toy includes a 2-ounce packet of Crayola dough and an interactive plastic toy that kids can use to cut, roll, or emboss the reusable, moldable dough. When playtime is over, the toy...

2020 Hess Toy Truck Mini Collection~Checking the calendar, it’s June, and that means it’s once again time for the Hess Toy Truck to come rolling into town … mini-style! Your first-look, in-hand review of the new 2020 Hess Mini Collection, which includes three highly detailed, small-scale vehicles inspired by fan favorites from the historic fleet of holiday Hess Toy Trucks from decades past. This year’s Mini Collection is a limited-production set that includes recreations of the 1987 Hess 18-Wheeler, the 2009 Hess Race Car, and the 2015 Hess Fire Truck and Ladder Rescue. The Hess Toy...

Princess Diana used to take Prince William and Prince Harry on ‘secret’ trips to McDonald’s for Happy Meal toys~SHE might have had access to the world's top chefs - but when Princess Diana wanted to treat her sons, she'd simply take them to McDonald's. Diana would regularly take Prince William and Prince Harry out of Kensington Palace for a Happy Meal. Princess Diana told one of the Kensington Palace chefs that her sons 'loved Happy Meal toys'. Speaking to Marie Claire, Darren explained that he could make burgers and fries for them to enjoy in Palace grounds...

American Girl, How to Cake It Throw Sweet Virtual Party~For those celebrating birthdays from home this year due to social distancing, How to Cake It and American Girl have joined together to provide an online virtual birthday party experience for fans around the world. The How to Cake It x American Girl relationship was facilitated by The Brand Liaison, the licensing agent for How to Cake It. “How To Cake It is always looking for new ways to provide real value to our customers in the form of inspiration, education, entertainment and support through the intersection of content...

J.K. Rowling Releases First Serialization of New Story Online~J.K. Rowling announced that she is joining children’s book authors the world over in helping out parents eager to entertain their children locked down at home during the current closing of schools and summer camps during the novel coronavirus pandemic. Rowling is releasing the first two installments of an online serialization of a fairy tale that she wrote more than 10 years ago called The Ickabog. The first installments went live at 10 a.m. ET. The Ickabog, Rowling wrote on a blog about its origins, “is a story about truth and...

World's Rarest Michael Jordan Toy Collection~A small, shining “Jumpman” logo sits squarely on a white wooden door in the middle of Joshua De Vaney’s house. It serves as a hint to what lies beyond the otherwise unassuming slab of oak in De Vaney’s Western Australia home. The door, once opened, serves as a jaw-dropping portal back to 1990s Chicago. The redness of the room is overwhelming; dim lighting from the ceiling only serves to exaggerate the glow of checkered floor tiles, half red with a black “Jumpman”, the other half black with a red Bulls logo. A human-sized Michael...

Rediscover ‘The Little Engine That Could’ on its anniversary~Treat the family to the 90th anniversary edition of “The Little Engine That Could,” an enduring story written by Watty Piper that has sold 20 million copies and is as relevant today as when it was published. Those of us who grew up with the book remember “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.” But the story is much richer. The Little Blue Engine has to pull “a jolly load … filled with good things for boys and girls” when a bigger engine and a more tired one refuse to help. A toy clown saves the day by flagging down the Little Blue...

The Toy Insider Experts Reveal the Hottest Spring and Summer Toys of 2020~We’re living in unusual times, and while life is a bit different right now, kids and families are finding new ways to play together at home. Despite store closures and supply chain disruptions that have had a ripple effect through the toy industry in the first half of the year, kids are still playing and new toys are still hitting retail on a weekly basis. Life changes, but the world — and the industry — keep on turning, and this week our sister publication, the Toy Insider, revealed the hottest must-have toys of the...

Look At This Lickitung Toy And Forget About Ever Sleeping Again~Not-LEGO building block company Mega Construx has a line of Detective Pikachu themed figures and their version of Lickitung is... interesting. Mega Construx has a line of Detective Pikachu themed buildable figures and one of them is about to make me lose my lunch. Lickitung isn't the most adorable Pokémon, but he's cute in his own freakishly deformed way. Not-LEGO building block company Mega Construx has taken some...shall we say, artistic liberties with their version of Lickitung. See for yourself...

How Marvel Comics Helped Create The TRANSFORMERS~Many readers today know that the Transformers comic line is currently being published by IDW, who recently rebooted their continuity. However, what isn’t as widely known is that at one point, Marvel had possession of the publishing rights to the Transformers comics -- and is actually largely responsible for the lore and characters within the franchise that still exists today. Before even being called the Transformers, they began life as two separate toy lines known as Diaclone and Microchange from the Japanese...

TikTok (Yes, TikTok) Is the Future. Whether serious or silly, TikTok is an outlet for expression unlike anything that came before. TikTok feels familiar, but its soul is unlike that of other social media that came before it. It can be mindless fun, but it’s also a force to pay attention to. TikTok is the first entertainment powerhouse born in and built for the smartphone age — and it might change everything.

The best playhouses for kids, according to experts. Developmental psychologist Helen Hadani works with children and parents to help develop toys and is a member of the educational advisory board at The Goddard School. Hadani explained how playhouses support different types of play for children.

‘Trolls World Tour’ Has Held The No. 1 Spot At The Box Office Since Opening, It helps that almost nothing is being released. First of all, it’s still pretty grim out there and this gives you an idea of where we are now, and where we can build from as more states open up. There were around 600 theaters (out of the nation’s 5K) open over the May 29-31 frame (which was originally set to see Disney’s Artemis Fowl, which fled to the streaming service), and 728 theaters are expected to be back online this Friday.

Here's how retailers can thrive post-COVID As businesses begin to reopen, it is important that retailers understand and accept that the shopping experience for consumers has changed. Safety is now among the most important factors for customers when deciding where to shop.

10 Pieces Of Toy Story 3 Concept Art You Never Saw Before - Toy Story 3 was a hit upon its release, but it could have looked a lot different. Here are 10 pieces of concept art you have never seen before.

European retailers are falling behind in the “new normal”. Digital transformation is happening faster in the US and China, where retailers have invested more in warehouses and supply chains.

#BLACKLIVESMATTER: THE TOY AND GAME INDUSTRIES STAND TOGETHER AGAINST RACISM AND INJUSTICE  - a roundup of statements published online and on social media by toy and game companies, as well as some adjacent businesses including retailers and entertainment companies. 

KIDS: THE RECESSION-PROOF INDUSTRY -  Forced to entertain and teach their kids at home, parents are purchasing books, games and crafts in skyrocketing numbers. Sales of children’s nonfiction books jumped by 66 percent in the week ending March 21, according to the market tracking firm NDP Group. Total toy sales in the U.S. grew by 26 percent in late March, as the White House issued social-distancing guidelines for the nation, while board games and puzzles grew by 228 percent and building sets by 76 percent, according to the market tracking firm.

From the Toy Industry Journal~by Steve Reece, CEO of Kids Brand Insight, a leading toy expert consultancy to toy companies around the world...Toy Packaging: 5 Key Success Factors 

Remembering the toy industry's past . . .

Popular children's toys and games during World War II /// Don’t Dump the Daisy from Ideal (1970) /// Virtual Tour: Toys of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s /// Mr. Mouth from TOMY (1976) /// Take a nostalgia trip back to Toys”R”Us stores of 1999 through these shared photos /// Lewis Galoob Toys, Inc. /// Pocket Simon from Milton Bradley (1980) ///

Worldwide Licensing News . . .  

Electronic Arts, the NFL and the NFLPA Announce a Groundbreaking Multi-Year Global Partnership~Electronic Arts, the National Football League and the NFL Players Association announced a multi-year renewal to their partnership, marking the biggest and widest-reaching gaming agreement in NFL history. Under the partnership, the EA SPORTS Madden NFL franchise will exclusively create authentic football simulation games, and EA SPORTS, the NFL and the NFLPA will partner to develop games in new genres, expanded esports...

Cloudco Inks New International Licensing Deal for Care Bears~The Care Bears are about to score a European boost. Bavaria Media GmbH and its licensing division, Bavaria Sonor Licensing, inked a new deal with Cloudco Entertainment to manage the Care Bears brand across Germany, Austria and Switzerland (GAS). Under the new agreement, Bavaria Sonor Licensing will develop and manage all consumer products and licensing programs for Care Bears across the German-speaking territories. “Care Bears is a cult brand that fits perfectly into...

Playmates Toys Inks Deal with ‘Spy Ninjas~The company known for producing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toys just made a deal with some other ninjas. Surge Licensing revealed that Playmates Toys has signed on as the global master toy licensee for the YouTube hit Spy Ninjas. Described as an “action-packed serial drama” that unfolds across several YouTube channels, Spy Ninjas boasts more than 400 million monthly views as Chad Wild Clay, Vy Qwaint, and their Spy Ninjas team battle a hacking group known as Project Zorgo. “It’s such a thrill...

44 Cats Grows in US~44 Cats, produced by Rainbow Group, after having already scored Bandai, Harper Collins, Franco, Sakar, and Accessory Innovations among their licensees, now expands the licensing program with Forever Clever, for games and novelty toys in the USA and Canada. The license was brokered by The Joester Loria Group and Branding Streams for the USA and Canada. The Forever Clever product range will include action games, board games, card games, memory games along with novelty toys and play tents. Forever Clever...

Penguin and Ladybird Announce New Partnership~Penguin Young Readers has teamed up with Ladybird, an imprint of Penguin Random House UK, to develop and publish select books for young readers in the U.S. market. The new Ladybird line will be overseen by Penguin Workshop, led by president and publisher Francesco Sedita, and will be helmed by Cecily Kaiser, publishing director of Rise x Penguin Workshop and World of Eric Carle. Ladybird, which has been publishing books for young children for more than a century, is an iconic...

Blue Hat Partners with Sutesen to Launch "AR Immersive Classes" in up to 1,000 Preschools in China~Blue Hat Interactive Entertainment Technology, a producer, developer and operator of augmented reality ("AR") interactive entertainment games, toys and educational materials in China, announced that it has signed a three-year partnership with smart education service provider, Sutesen Information Technology Ltd., to expand Blue Hat's Smart Immersive Education Classes, or "AR Immersive Classes", in Guangxi province...

Animaccord Inks First Licensing Deal for ‘Masha and the Bear’ in China~The Chinese market continues to be ripe for expansion when it comes to kids’ entertainment and toy properties. Following the January debut of Masha and the Bear on Xigua Video in Mainland China, Animaccord — the company behind the global animated series — has revealed its first consumer products licensing deal for the property in the region. Guangdong D&G Trading Limited will distribute Masha and the Bear toys including figurines, playsets, dolls, plush, and rolepla...

ADK Emotions Inks Pact with License to PR Ahead of Beyblade Anniversary~The company behind the success of the Beyblade franchise is getting ready for a big year. ADK Emotions NY Inc. appointed London-based License to PR to manage its trade media communications and to further position the company as a leader in bringing Japanese animated intellectual properties (IP) to a global audience. “As our plans take shape for the 20th anniversary of Beyblade in 2021, we are excited to have License to PR on board to assist...

Schick Intuition x Hello Kitty Is the Cute Collaboration You Didn't Know You Needed~Even though most of us discover Hello Kitty as children, those who love the Sanrio cartoon cat are still enamored well into adulthood. The proof is in the products. While there are plenty of kid-friendly Hello Kitty items like plush toys and stickers, you probably won't see too many six-year-olds reaching for something like Schick's new Hello Kitty razors. Schick Intuition x Hello Kitty may not seem to be the most... well... intuitive collaboration, but for anyone who...

Licensing for toys and movies are ‘out of sync’ due to production delays~Movie production delays continue amid the coronavirus pandemic, but toy licensing has not, including Disney's coveted Baby Yoda. Toy Insider’s James Zahn joins Yahoo Finance to discuss why the two are out of sync and what to expect as we begin to recover. SEE THE VIDEO...

Build-A-Bear drops cryptic hint about possible Animal Crossing collab~Build-A-Bear has dropped what some are taking as a cryptic hint to a potential crossover with Nintendo to make Animal Crossing: New Horizons plushies. We all remember being an 8-year-old and getting overly excited over being taken to Build-A-Bear to build our own plush doll. Getting to pick a softness, a scent, and a name for our new fluffy friend felt like the best feeling in the world. While many of us have grown up and out of that phase, it's not wrong to assume that an...

Miraculous – Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir Awarded Bologna Licensing Trade Fair’s 2019 Best Preschool Licensing Project - The brand is based on the globally popular animated series created by ZAG and produced by ZAG and ON Kids & Family (Mediawan Group)

Meet the Nominees for Licensing International’s Excellence Awards. The nominees for Best Licensing Agency/Manufacturer’s Rep are… 

Winchester Mystery House®, LLC has appointed Licensing Works!® as the global licensing agent for Winchester Mystery House®, the beautiful but bizarre mansion built by Sarah Pardee Winchester, heiress of the Winchester Repeating Arms fortune.

People, Companies, Organizations . . . 

Learning Resources appoints Stephen Woldenberg as VP of sales~Learning Resources and its Educational Insights division announced the promotion of Stephen Woldenberg as VP of Sales for both brands. Woldenberg will be responsible for managing the internal sales team, sales representatives and distributors, as well as continuing to drive sales at eCommerce and brick-and-mortar retail partnerships including mass and specialty stores. "For the past three years, Stephen has been instrumental in transforming our team into a truly cross-functional...

LEGO Pulls Advertising For Police-Related Toys, Donates $4 Million to Fight Racism and Inequality~LEGO announced that it would donate $4 million to “organizations dedicated to supporting black children and educating all children about racial equality.” The toy company behind the popular The LEGO Movie franchise and The Lego Batman Movie did not stop there, however, as the company went on to announce that it would be remove any marketing for any toy sets that include police characters or are based around a police theme. An email sent to...

There Are Fewer Sears And Kmart Stores Left Than You Think~The number of Sears and Kmart stores that remain in business could be more than 10% less than the last numbers issued by their parent company, Transformco. What’s more, a large percentage of Sears stores have not reopened following the coronavirus shutdown. Given the company’s previous aggressive policy of closing stores it raises the question of whether it has plans to permanently shut down those locations. Using information supplied by the Sears.com website, Google Maps...

SOLIDROOTS AND BARNES & NOBLE FOR ST. JUDE’S VIRTUAL GALA~SolidRoots announcse its collaboration with Kid@Heart, Re-marks and Barnes and Noble for the 2020 St. Jude’s Virtual Gala during St. Jude’s Week of Hope NYC. SolidRoots will host an enhanced version of Mind The Gap LIVE for St. Jude’s during its Virtual Gala on June 3rd, 2020. You can purchase a ticket to the St. Jude Week of Hope NYC on Stjude.org. Viewers can watch the Mind The Gap LIVE Virtual Gala broadcasted on St. Jude’s Facebook page on June 4th...

Toysrus Reopens across Canada with New Sightings~It has been gradual, but Toysrus is now reopening all their stores in Canada. Of course there are changes, such as single direction arrows, plexi glass, purel stations and a moretorium on in store events, but at least Canadians can go back in stores and get toys for their kids or themselves. Their Transformers section is fully stocked and it even includes some new sightings for Canadians. The latest Cyberverse deluxe toys are there, Grimlock and Hot Rod, and they also have the two Gold...

These Black-Owned Brands Sell Baby & Kids Products~Sometimes, voting with your wallet is just as important as voting for your government. It’s certainly one way to know you’re making an impact, if the places you choose to give your money share your values and need your business. If you decide to support Black-owned businesses, you’re also helping shift the economy toward more equal footing. The bonus is, you also get something out of this transaction, especially when you buy the baby gear, kids’ clothing, books, and toys we’re highlighting...

Harold Chizick Talks AtGames on the ‘Power Kid Podcast~In this week’s episode of the “Power Kid Podcast,” host Phil Albritton of Power Kid Design speaks with Harold Chizick, CEO of ChizComm and Beacon Media. On the show, Chizick discusses AtGames, a digital media and tech innovation company that creates a host of gaming products for physical retail, digital distribution, and streaming. Most recently, AtGames has been focused on retro interactive entertainment with the Legends Ultimate Gaming Cabinet. Albritton and Chizick...

Jazwares, Melissa & Doug Vet Launches TriAction Toys~A new player has entered the U.S. specialty toy arena. TriAction Toys LLC will introduce popular European toys to American audiences with distribution specifically focused on independent toy stores and specialty retailers. TriAction was founded by Chris Cofoni, a 14-year toy sales vet who became familiar with the specialty market while working for Melissa & Doug, Jazwares, and others. At launch, TriAction is importing two lines that have been popular in Europe for decades...

R.I.P. Michael Seres~Experienced toy and licensing industry professional Michael has passed away. Michael first worked in the toy and licensing community during the noughties. He started his licensing career at Copyright Promotions, where he managed the sports licensing division. He then moved to Celador, where he was responsible for the licensing and marketing of ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?’ during its phenomenal rise. He went on to consult for several licensing companies including Fremantle, where he helped to set up licensing...

R.I.P. Michael Angelis~Best known as the narrator and voice of Thomas the Tank Engine in the series Thomas And Friends, Michael Angelishas died suddenly at the age of 68 (though conflicting reports have said the actor was 76). The voiceover star apparently died suddenly while at home with his wife. The beloved Brit famously took over from former Beatles member Ringo Starr as the voice of everyone’s favourite talking train on Thomas The Tank Engine And Friends in 1991, with the program’s name later being shortened to Thomas and Friends. In...

buybuy BABY reaches out to digital-savvy younger parents~Two subsidiaries of Bed Bath & Beyond are teaming up to provide an omnichannel nursery design and shopping experience. Baby specialty retailer buybuy BABY is launching Design Squad in partnership with its sister brand Decorist, an online interior design company. Design Squad is an integrated, digital-first resource aimed at millennial and Gen Z parents that includes hundreds of professional interior designers, curated nursery designs, and a custom room design service. Digital...

Five Below reopens stores; resumes expansion program~Five Below is not backing down from its aggressive store expansion. The extreme-value tween and teen retailer, which has opened 40 new stores so far this year, said it continues to expect to open 100 to 120 new stores in 2020. Five Below said that it has reopened more than 75% of its 900-plus stores as pandemic lockdown restrictions ease. Locations have reopened in all but four states, where curbside pickup is available as allowed. “We are thrilled to be in a position to have reopened over...

Amazon planning a summertime sale separate from Prime Day~Amazon is planning a "Summer Sale" that would enable merchants to sell extra inventory they may have accumulated during the coronavirus pandemic. The details of the event are unclear, but it would likely come before Prime Day, which Amazon has reportedly postponed from its usual July occurrence to September. Amazon is likely putting off Prime Day to give itself more time to ramp up its fulfillment capabilities during the pandemic so that it can handle the spike in demand the sales...

Jason Mars of Red Planet Group Appears on the ‘Power Kid Podcast’~In this week’s episode of the “Power Kid Podcast,” host Phil Albritton of Power Kid Design speaks with Jason Mars, owner of Red Planet Group. Red Planet Group is a premier distributor and marketer of toys throughout Canada. The company supports global toymakers by bringing toys such as Treasure X, Scruff-A-Lives, Little Live Pets, Wubble, and more to Canadian kids and families. On the show, Albritton delves into Mars’ origin story which includes working alongside his...

72nd Spielwarenmesse Extends Exhibitor Registration Period~Due to the global spread of COVID-19, Spielwarenmesse eG has extended the registration period for the 72nd Spielwarenmesse international toy fair through July 31. Currently slated to take place from Jan. 27-31, 2021 in Nuremberg, Germany, the Spielwarenmesse seeks to showcase new toys and games to an audience of international retailers and buyers alongside global media during the PressPreview. Spielwarenmesse offers a host of services to both new and established...

Alvin Fu Heads to Sesame Workshop for China Expansion~Shanghai-based Alvin Fu has joined Sesame Workshop as VP and GM of Greater China. Fu will be responsible for expanding the reach of Sesame Street in Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan by “developing and implementing a new long-term strategic vision to help the next generation of children … grow up smarter, stronger, and kinder.” “With over 25 years of senior management experience at blue-chip, multinational corporations in China, Alvin is a deeply respected and seasoned...

Toy importer braces for retail upheaval~Basic Fun sells toys to retailers, many of which were forced to temporarily shutter their stores because of the pandemic-induced lockdown. About 30% of his customers are still closed. Some U.S. customers have been unable to pay past bills to Basic Fun, but Foreman said his bigger concern is their worsening financial health. “We are worried less about what they owe us today and more about what they won’t buy from us tomorrow,” Foreman said. Foreman expects his sales to fall 20% this year from 2019’s...

Watching Quiz? The True Story Is Even More Wild Than the Miniseries - Quiz is a different kind of true-crime showThe miniseries traces an infamous game-show scam from 2001, in which a trio of seemingly ordinary people were convicted of rigging the British version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

Warner Bros. taps CMO for kids & young adults. Tricia Melton rejoins her former Freeform boss Tom Ascheim at WB, overseeing global marketing and brand strategy for the division.

Retailer John Stephens has joined Iello USA as Sales Programs Director.  In his new role, Stephens will build and manage trade and consumer communications and programs. 

EXCLUSIVE: JAZWARES, MELISSA & DOUG VET LAUNCHES TRIACTION TOYS - TriAction was founded by Chris Cofoni, a 14-year toy sales vet who became familiar with the specialty market while working for Melissa & Doug, Jazwares, and others.

Geoff Sheffield joins The Entertainer - Coming from  Russ Berrie UK. . . 

TikTok Means Different Things for Amazon and Facebook The TikTok app lets people create and share fun videos. According to Sensor Tower, the app recorded 315 million downloads in the first quarter.  Recently, TikTok hired longtime Disney executive Kevin Mayer to be its CEO. 

David Levine to leave Disney  The VP of kids programming for the UK, Europe and Africa is departing after 16 years to pursue new opportunities in media.

Syrinthia Studer to lead live-action films at Nick - The former Paramount Pictures EVP will oversee feature-length content for both Awesomeness and Nickelodeon as the studio builds out their film slates.

Spin Master, a global leading children’s entertainment company, announced the appointment of Fredrik Loving as Executive Vice President, Digital Studios, leading the Company’s expanding digital toys and gaming offerings. Loving will report to Ronnen Harary, Co-CEO.   

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

Walmart to allow tech employees to work remotely even post-pandemic~More and more companies are rethinking their office operations based on the success they have had as employees work from home during the COVID-19 crisis. Walmart has told its army of tech workers, who have been working remotely during the pandemic, that they don’t have to return to the office soon — or potentially, ever. The retail giant has about 10,000 tech employees, the report said, with many based in the Silicon Valley. “We believe the way of working in the...

Attend a Sesame Street Town Hall to Learn ‘The ABC’S of COVID-19’~In stressful times, it always helps to see a friendly face, and who’s friendlier than Big Bird and Elmo? Sesame Street is teaming up with CNN for a new Town Hall this Saturday to help inform kids and parents about the latest issues surrounding the coronavirus. The ABC’s of COVID-19 will cover how to stay safe in the summer months, returning to school in the fall, and how to manage big feelings. This is the second Sesame Street and CNN special touching on COVID-19...

Venture to Tatooine with This LEGO Star Wars Set~Updated information about COVID-19. The health and safety of customers and workers is retailers’ top priority. NRF is closely monitoring the situation around the COVID-19 pandemic, coordinating with government agencies, health experts and retailers as the situation continues to evolve. NRF is addressing the supply chain implications as well as developments related to the spread of the virus globally and domestically. Please come back to this page for regular updates...

Toy company honors “Hometown Heroes” of COVID-19 with paper playset~A toy company has found a way to recognize those who are fighting COVID-19 on the front lines. Tatro: Hand-Built Magnetic Toys is launching a new paper playset for kids. The new playset is called “Hometown Heroes” and it was created “to honor the work of frontline employees during COVID-19,” according to the company. On May 30, Tatro: Hand-Built Magnetic Toys is going to give out free playsets. The toy company provided this description of what the “Hometown...

STONEMAIER LISTS COVID IMPACTS~Stonemaier Games' Jamey Stegmaier enumerated COVID-19 impacts on the company in a blog post, with some that have special relevance for retailers attempting to stock the company's games. Instead of ordering on spec for the holidays and taking orders from distributors closer to when products arrive from manufacturers, Stonemaier is asking distributors to place holiday orders six months in advance. "In these coronavirus times, I can't risk hundreds of thousands of dollars on blind estimates for the...

How 'A Toy Store Near You' Will Help Business Owners in Need~Businesses of every stripe have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis, but the one that hits closest to home for Brian Volk-Weiss is toy stores. It's why the creator of Netflix's The Toys That Made Us and The Movies That Made Us put resources from his Nacelle Company into producing the new docuseries A Toy Store Near You to help owners keep their doors open. Each of the half-hour episodes, hitting Prime Video and other streaming services May 29, will feature the history of some...

Disney Store to require that kids wear masks~The Disney Store has released guidelines for its store reopenings. The company, whose 200-plus stores in North America went dark on March 17 amid the COVID-19 outbreak, will require that all employees and shoppers wear a face mask, including children ages 2 and up. Other measures to prevent the spread of the virus in Disney stores include social distancing, limiting the number of shoppers in the store at any one time and frequent cleaning throughout the day. In addition, all in-store events have...

SNAG F.U.N. FACE MASKS FEATURING SPONGEBOB, STAR TREK, AND MORE~F is for friends who do stuff together in face masks! ViacomCBS just launched a collection of reusable face masks inspired by a variety of its fan-favorite shows and brands, and you’re going to have trouble choosing just one. To kick things off, there are six SpongeBob SquarePants-inspired designs to choose from, including a mask with SpongeBob’s face and five patterns featuring everyone’s fave sea sponge. All six masks are available in both kid and adult sizes. At the...

ViacomCBS Consumer Products Launches Global Reusable Face Masks Featuring Iconic Nickelodeon Characters~ViacomCBS Consumer Products announced it has entered into agreements with multiple global licensees to create face masks featuring iconic characters from many popular Nickelodeon properties including SpongeBob SquarePants, which is available now at the SpongeBob Shop, as well as PAW Patrol, Blue’s Clues & You! and JoJo Siwa. The reusable masks, which are not for medical use, will be available through major retail...

Coronavirus and an Unanticipated Long Term Impact on the Toy Industry~We have all been sweating our way through the Coronavirus and the negative impact it has been having on business. It is very possible, however, that we are going to see an unanticipated long-term impact dure to the virus: A decline in the number of children. The United States, along with many developed countries, has for some time now been experiencing a decline in the birthrate. Any reduction in the number of births results in fewer children and that is never good news for...

COVID-19 Business Toolkit Features State Reopening Guidance~Do you have all the state information you need to reopen your business? The Toy Association’s COVID-19 business and retailer toolkits contain guidance documents and links to help you stay up to date as you get ready to reopen your doors to employees and customers. Located under the State, Trade, & International tab of the business toolkit and the general tab of the retailer toolkit, members can access state-by-state trackers to help monitor closure orders, reopening...

Spin Master Delivers the Joy of Play Donating Close to 90,000 Toys to Children Across North America~Spin Master is donating close to 90,000 toys, plush, games and activities at a retail value of approximately US $1 million to children in need in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. "During this difficult time, Spin Master remains committed to providing children with the opportunity to grow and learn through play, regardless of circumstance or setting," said Ronnen Harary , Co-CEO of Spin Master. "Together, with the help of incredible charitable...

Moviegoers Excited to Return to Theaters If Social Distancing and Safety Guidelines Are Met~Survey results reveal positive news for the movie industry in the wake of the pandemic disruption. With over 1,500 digital moviegoer respondents, 88% said they are ready to return to theaters within a few months; 25% are willing to return immediately. On the flipside, only 1% said they never plan to return to theaters. Since March 2020, movie theaters in the U.S. have been adjusting to mandated temporary closure due to federal and state government...

For game stores that rely on customers who hang out, an epic comeback challenge awaits~People in quarantine are no longer news, but an Indianapolis store is placing board games in quarantine to help customers feel at ease when building empires and slaying dragons at home. Kingmakers rents games such as Ticket to Ride and Codenames out of its store, and company founder Malika Jacobs acknowledges it’s unrealistic to actively disinfect every piece and component of a game between customers. Potential coronavirus particles won’t stick...

China may become one of many hubs as companies diversify manufacturing after coronavirus shock~For many businesses, adjusting supply chains in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic means expanding from China, not necessarily leaving. Since the disease Covid-19 first emerged late last year in the Chinese city of Wuhan, lockdowns on business activity that began in the world’s second-largest economy have have highlighted just how significant a role China plays in the production of global goods ranging from children’s toys to...

Buffalo Games Resumes Production Following COVID-19 Shutdown, Sales Boom~While the COVID-19 pandemic is in no way close to being over, businesses in the U.S. continue to adjust and adapt in order to reopen with new procedures in place to protect the health and safety of employees and consumers. Following the one-two punch of a manufacturing shutdown and an unprecedented sales boom, Buffalo Games has restarted manufacturing at its facility in Buffalo, NY. The company paused production in mid-March and is now working to...

Mattel Play! Liverpool closes doors for good due to coronavirus pandemic. A spokesperson told the Liverpool Echo: "Following five wonderful years at the Albert Dock, we have taken the difficult decision to close Mattel Play! Liverpool...

Hong Kong extends visitor travel ban by three monthsThe travel ban, which was due to be lifted this month, has now been extended to late September at the earliest. 

Argos to reopen 140 of its standalone stores With non-essential retailers allowed to open from 15th June, Argos has announced a number of its stores will reopen for collections and returns. 

Covid-19 sees UK TV viewers take to ‘edutainment' For just over three-fifths (61%) of respondents living with children, TV screen time for the kids is also up, as a third said their children are using screen time to play online video games to socialise with friends or family members.
Universal Studios Japan Will Reopen on June 19th With Soft Opening on June 8th

New research confirms benefits of play during lockdown - A poll commissioned by Little Tikes confirms that play has been a significant part of daily life for locked-down families.

NPD on changing consumer habits during Covid-19 lockdownMoneeba Baloch reveals the latest toy retail trends and how respondents to the NPD’s Consumer Panel are feeling about toy purchasing at the current time.

Lisa Currie caught up with a selection of independent UK retailers to hear about how they plan to re-open their retail premises safely as restrictions are lifted. 

The Entertainer’s Gary Grant on the light at the end of the tunnel. Gary and his team have been forced to rethink the company’s entire business model . . .

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

Disney World gets green light to reopen July 11  Visitors and employees will need to wear face masks and undergo temperature checks prior to entering the park.

Across North America Covid-19 is making way for a tabletop game renaissance. At the end of March, Isaac Childres was leaning into the new stay-at-home order in his home state of Indiana. But he was also getting ready to launch one of the biggest projects of his career: On March 31, Childres’ one-person company, Cephalofair Games, launched a Kickstarter campaign for a tabletop game called Frosthaven. Within three hours, Childres had crowdfunded $3 million—600% of the $500,000 he initially sought.  

Funko’s Newest Figurines Celebrate Healthcare Workers Proceeds go toward a coronavirus relief fund.

Toy Safety Related Articles . . .

Is it safe to send children to daycare? Experts weigh in~While research shows that children do not seem to be as susceptible to the virus as adults, a new pediatric multi-symptom inflammatory syndrome has raised alarms, and there are concerns that children could be asymptomatic carriers and spread the virus to adults or compromised populations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have released guidance on the matter. Also spoke to two experts to get answers on what parents need to know about sending their children back...

CPSC Recalls and Product Safety News: Sanvall Enterprises Recalls Rapid Alivio Pain Relieving Roll-On Due to Failure to Meet Child Resistant Packaging Requirement; Risk of Poisoning ///

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Press Releases . . . 

THE IMAGINE NEIGHBORHOOD TOPS APPLE PODCASTS’ NEW AND NOTEWORTHY LIST~Yesterday, The Imagine Neighborhood, a new edutainment podcast from Committee for Children (CFC), the global leader in social-emotional learning (SEL) education, surged to the top of Apple Podcasts’ New and Noteworthy list, rising over 150 ranks overnight. Already, the podcast series has 18 full episodes, perfect for families to listen together on summer road trips, running errands or sitting at home on a rainy day. Based on CFC’s award-winning SEL curriculum, Second Step, The Imagine Neighborhood features 15-minute episodes full of fun stories with zany characters that help kids and their grown-ups learn how to help build their emotional intelligence, build relationships with empathy, and solve problems. With the outbreak of COVID-19, educators and families want to help parents connect with kids about difficult topics screen-free, and The Imagine Neighborhood has risen to the challenge. Since its launch in March 2020, over 100,000 families have downloaded the episodes and over 3,000 schools...

JAMMIN WITH YOU OFFERS KIDS THE RIGHT TEMPO FOR THOSE LAZY-HAZY-CRAZY DAYS OF SUMMER~This summer will be like no other as parents scramble to find the right rhythm for the kids when the whole world has been upended. Jammin With You offers an endless summer of virtual musical classes that will strike the right chord with everyone in the house. Learn a little guitar, tickle the keys or introduce the kids to music’s ABCs! “As schools are coming to year’s end and many camps are closed through June and July, we wanted to give parents an opportunity to see what our Music Class Pass is all about!” offered Josh Shriber, Founder & Owner of Jammin With You. He created the online Music Class Pass — $29/month subscription — as an irresistible introduction to everything music. “Think of it as the Peloton for kids’ music edutainment,” the self-proclaimed Jammander In Chief continued. “This week, we are letting people try our LIVE classes for free. Those same classes are posted on our website for future consumption. So, instead of putting on a YouTube show, you can...

TOYS THAT SPARK IMAGINATION, TEACH LIFE SKILLS & SIMPLY SOOTHE CHOSEN FOR 2020 SPRING HONORS~What’s considered a toy these days? Look around a child’s bedroom and you might find an iconic doll house, a board game and a plush pillow-y character. Today a toy can teach kids about global warming or be simply silly or snuggly. The task of uncovering what’s new and what’s a “wow” is the work of toy industry judges like The National Parenting Center or Mom’s Choice Awards. Here at KidStuff Public Relations, we are always humbled that our clients garner an armload of honors every season! The Spring 2020 awards are no different, with kudos to our clients (in alphabetical order) Adventerra Games, Le Toy Van, Moosh-Moosh & Story Time Chess. Spring 2020 will be remembered as the time when kids stayed home — from school, church, sports, scouts, family and friends. A soft cuddle became more important than ever and client Moosh-Moosh was there with its adorable assortment of pillow soft pals. As The National Parenting Center aptly wrote, “to say that...

ASTRONAUTS LIFT OFF MAY 27 FOR INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION WITH MISSION TO BRING HOME PLANETARY PLUSH ‘LITTLE EARTH~The term “what goes up must come down” suggests that things that rise must eventually return to the earth due to gravity. Toymaker Celestial Buddies knows this all too well as one of their plush is currently in outer space but hitching a ride home, thanks to NASA! When NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley return on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule to complete the company’s Demo-2 mission, they’ll bring an extra passenger on board: Celestial Buddies Little Earth plush pal. The round toy with an outline of planet Earth’s green land and blue seas had been added as a last-minute installment during SpaceX’s Demo-1 mission last year to serve as a “super high tech zero-g indicator,” according to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk when he alerted his followers via Twitter hours before the uncrewed launch of the Crew Dragon capsule. As Florida Today, part of USA Today news network, reported, “Throughout the course of SpaceX’s Demo-1 mission...

Pokemon Pocket Botanical Re-Ment Toys Include Plants You Can’t Kill~A new line of Pokemon blind-box Re-Ment toys have launched in Japan, and they’re the exact sort of item people who have bad luck with plants and love these iconic characters might enjoy. The six figures in the Pokemon Pocket Botanical line pair one, or in one case two, characters with a fake plant that may or may not resemble or go well with the character. They are immediately available in blind boxes in Japan for 880円 (~$8) each.The six figures in this collection give people a...

Scott Eastwood Brings Battle of Gettysburg to Life in Gettysburg: A Nation Divided~Actor and history enthusiast, Scott Eastwood, is part of an exciting new production that recreates the battle of Gettysburg in a way never done before. Exploring the realm of mixed reality, Eastwood lends his voice to the new AR360 app, Gettysburg: A Nation Divided, an epic adventure that explores one of the most pivotal battles in American history and the people whose lives were changed forever. Eastwood is among the first major motion picture actors to dive into...

Batch Bicycles Releases New Step-Thru E-Bike~-Batch Bicycles, designed to make it easy for anyone to get into biking, today announced the launch of its new Step-Thru Electric Bicycle. The pedal assist e-bike comes in two models, the Step-Thru and Step-Thru Plus, which both feature an accessible frame design making it easier for riders to mount the bike. Available in a Gloss Pure White color, the base model Step-Thru E-Bike features a Bosch mid-drive Active Line battery and motor with a Shimano Altus 8-speed drivetrain, and will retail for...

The Rainbow Disney Collection 2020 is here for Pride Month~Get ready to celebrate Pride Month in Disney style! The Rainbow Disney Collection 2020 is here with an array of over 20 products to choose from. Items include ear headbands, T-shirts, tanks, plush toys, accessories and pins -- just to name a few. In recognition of Pride Month 2020 and in honor of the Rainbow Disney Collection, Disney is donating $100,000 to GLSEN, a leading education organization working to create safe and inclusive K-12 schools for LGBTQ+ students...

New Kids' and YA Books: Week of June 1, 2020~Here we round up new and forthcoming children’s titles including a super heroine origin story, a folkloric YA novel, a middle grade fantasy, and a picture book about unplugging, among others...

The Office Little People Figure Set Coming from Fisher-Price~Fans of The Office can raise their kids right with new children's toys based on the characters from the show. For their long-lasting toy line of "Little People" figurines, Fisher-Price has introduced a new 4-pack of our favorite Dunder Mifflin Paper Company employees. The collection includes Michael Scott (Steve Carell) holding his familiar World's Best Boss mug, along with Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson), Jim Halpert (John Krasinski), and Pam Beesly-Halpert (Jenna Fischer). One look at...

Made in USA Toy Makes 'Stay at Home' Learning Fun~A Portland, Oregon based toy maker has created a new learning tool where kids of any age can play games, draw, do art, write letters and numbers, practice cursive, take lessons, improve motor skills, or even study advanced subjects in a new, interactive and yet 'inexpensive' way. There is no electricity required and the product has the unique ability to provide a way for anyone to write directly over the content inside without using up the materials. The company offers lessons in coloring...

10 years later, Toy Soldiers is getting a WW2 sequel~Toy Soldiers 2 will launch on PC, PlayStation, Xbox and Switch in 2021. In the meantime, remasters of the original Toy Soldiers and follow-up Cold War will arrive for Switch to get you caught up. These will include new content, a new difficulty, plus integrated DLC and other tweaks. A dinky wartime strategy series featuring diminutive dioramas and, yes, toy soldiers, the series has been on hiatus since 2015 spin-off Toy Soldier: War Chest gained a mixed reaction. War Chest mixed in armies of...

Warner Interactive Launches Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath~Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment announced that Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath, a new expansion for the hit videogame Mortal Kmbat 11, the best-selling title in franchise history, is now available digitally for PlayStation 4 computer entertainment system, PlayStation 4 Pro computer entertainment system, the Xbox One family of devices including Xbox One X, Nintendo Switch system, PC and Stadia. Developed by award-winning NetherRealm Studios, Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath...

Legendary Double Dragon Series Coming to iiRcade, the Ultimate Home Arcade Platform for Retro and Modern Games~ iiRcade Inc., the ultimate home arcade platform provider that allows gamers of all ages to own and play their favorite retro and modern arcade games at home, is pleased to announce that the Double Dragon series, initially developed by Technōs Japan and officially licensed by Arc System Works, will be added to iiRcade’s game library. The series includes arcade versions of Double Dragon (1987), Double Dragon II: The...

FAMILIES COUNT ON KONTU® TO EXPLORE THE JOYS OF MATH, MAGNETS & ORTHOGONAL STRUCTURES! Magnetic Wooden ‘Block’ Kits Make This Season’s Toy Honor Roll With Parents’ Choice Gold Plus ASTRA Best Toys For Kids 2020 Finalist

For those celebrating birthdays from home this year due to social distancing, How to Cake It, the leading  baking edutainment brand featuring YouTube Sensation Yolanda Gampp, and American Girl, the inspiring world of dolls, content, and experiences, have joined together to provide a fun, online virtual birthday party experience for fans around the world . . .

Schleich® Continues Yearlong Celebration of The Power Of Imagination With Photo Contest For Kids Featuring Toy Photographer Mitchel Wu . . .

For the month of June, ToyAid will be running a campaign asking customers to “Buy Some Toys for Make Some Noise”.  The aim is to ask our industry to raise as much money as we can to help individuals and families hit hardest by the pandemic...

Spin Master Entertainment's Hit Preschool Series PAW Patrol™ Wins Four Canadian Screen Awards...

From "the Toy Insider": Reveal a Magical, Glittery World with Cry Babies Magic Tears Winged Houses /// Cartoon Network’s ‘We Bare Bears’ Are Getting Their First Movie /// ‘True and the Rainbow Kingdom’ Returns to Netflix with a New Special /// Celestial Buddies’ ‘Earthy’ is Returning from Outer Space /// ‘Play Today’ Campaign Infuses Fun & Mindfulness into Lockdown Life /// The Heelers Come to the Toy Box with New Bluey Toys /// Hop, Jump, and Toss with this Spinning Ladybug Game /// Kids Can Travel the U.S. with Ryan’s World Road Trip Travel Case ///

From "the Pop Insider": MAGIC PUZZLES ARE THE PERFECT FIT FOR PUZZLE LOVERS /// BUILD AVENGERS TOWER & MORE WITH NEW MARVEL LEGO SETS /// SH*T HAPPENS GAME EXPANDS TO INCLUDE THIS YEAR’S EVENTS /// FUNKO CELEBRATES FIRST RESPONDERS WITH FRONTLINE HEROES POP! FIGURES /// OUTRUN REDRUM IN THIS ‘THE SHINING’ BOARD GAME /// YOU’RE NOT SEEING DOUBLE — SPIDEY MEME POP! FIGURES ARE OTW /// Watch Young Jedis Compete in a Star Wars Game Show /// UNLEASH YOUR TURTLE POWER WITH NEW TMNT PINBALL MACHINES /// HASBRO PULSE REVAMPS STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES PACKAGING /// ‘SONIC THE HEDGEHOG’ IS COMING BACK FOR SECONDS /// Charizard Goes Gigantax in a Pokémon TCG Expansion /// This Little Tikes Starter Bike Makes Learning to Ride Easy /// Listen to Stories & Create Your Own with the Yoto Player /// THIS ‘THE CHILD’ NUTCRACKER IS A HOLIDAY MUST-HAVE /// Catch ‘Em All with an Official Pokémon Board Game /// SAVE THE MCFLY FAMILY IN THIS BTTF BOARD GAME /// Watch Budding Superheroes Explore Science in ‘Hero Elementary’ /// Tired of the Dental Dance? Get BriteBrush! /// DIAMOND SELECT TOYS UNVEILS SDCC EXCLUSIVES ///

From "the Toy Book": ToyAid Invites Families to ‘Buy Some Toys for Make Some Noise’ /// Mattel Begins ‘Cave Club’ Rollout for Prehistoric BFFs /// LEGO, Automobili Lamborghini Unveil LEGO Technic Lamborghini Sián FKP 37 /// Stern Pinball Debuts Three TMNT Machines ///

From the pages of ICv2: THE BUSINESS OF GEEK CULTURE: 'SILVERDUST BLAZE' ENGULFS 'CARDFIGHT!! VANGUARD' /// ASMODEE BRINGS 'ADVENTURE MART' TO TRADE /// 'WEISS SCHWARZ' RAIDS 'NAZARICK: TOMB OF THE UNDEAD' /// CMON HOPS ON THE MYSTERY MACHINE FOR 'SCOOBY-DOO: THE BOARD GAME' /// BANDAI WILL PROVIDE LAUNCH KITS FOR NEW 'DRAGON BALL SUPER: CARD GAME' EXPANSION /// SUPER SUMMERDROP ANNOUNCED 'MAGIC: THE GATHERING'S' 'SECRET LAIR' /// SUPER SUMMERDROP ANNOUNCED FOR 'MAGIC: THE GATHERING'S' 'SECRET LAIR' /// ARES BRINGS DELUXE 'KING & ASSASSINS' TO U.S. /// GRAPHIC NOVEL BIOS OF WILLIE NELSON, WALT & ROY DISNEY, AND MICHAEL JACKSON /// THE 'KIDS' TRADE THEIR 'BIKES' IN FOR 'BROOMS' /// MEMORINTH' COMING SOON TO U.S. TRADE /// 'PAPAGENO' JOINS ASMODEE USA'S LINEUP /// PEGASUS SPIELE WILL RELEASE TWO NEW 'UNDO' TITLES /// WIZKIDS UNVEILS NEW 'D&D ICONS OF THE REAMS PREMIUM FIGURES' /// FREE RPG DAY RESCHEDULED FOR JULY Moved Due to COVID-19 Concerns /// 'YU-GI-OH! TCG' SUMMONS 'LEGENDARY DUELISTS: 7' /// THE MOTHERSHIP DESCENDS IN 'UNDER FALLING SKIES' /// 'MAJESTY LORD BLASTER' COMES TO 'CARDFIGHT!! VANGUARD' /// WIZARDS OF THE COAST BANS MORE STANDARD CARDS FOR 'MAGIC: THE GATHERING' /// SAVE THE MARVEL UNIVERSE FROM THANOS IN 'INFINITY GAUNTLET: A LOVE LETTER GAME' /// CMON TRAVELS TO ETERNIA IN 'MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE: THE BOARD GAME' /// THE POKEMON COMPANY UNVEILS 'BATTLE ACADEMY' ///

News from Associations, Trade Shows and Festivals  . . .

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

You're invited to join the ASTRA community for the virtual ASTRA Camp™ experience! Save the dates of August 4, 5, 6 and August 11, 12, 13 for a two-week summer event that is so much s'more than a virtual show. 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! Keep an eye out for more information to come on the ASTRA Camp™ experience, including camper registration, a full schedule of camp activities, official merch and more. Adventure awaits!

BTHA AGM & Industry Day to take place virtually - The Annual BTHA AGM & Industry Day will now take place virtually on Wednesday 1st July, instead of the physical event scheduled at Great Fosters Hotel, Surrey. Given the current circumstances surrounding the coronavirus, a physical event is not possible this year.

Why Cannes’ Canceled Lineup Still Holds Impact (Opinion). It may seem self-serving for festivals nixed by the coronavirus to share the films they would have shown, but it serves a strategic purpose in getting those same movies sold and reviewed.

Summer Toy Show goes virtual While the 2020 Summer Farm Toy Show in Dyersville is canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, officials at the National Farm Toy Museum have found a way to connect farm toy enthusiasts with collectors. Officials have announced a Virtual Summer Farm Toy Show for Saturday, June 6. 

Kids India 2020 in Mumbai cancelled - Spielwarenmesse eG restructures business operations in India

Bandai Namco cancels support for physical 2020 World Tour events. COVID-19 pushes Tekken, Soulcalibur, and Dragon Ball FighterZ tournaments to digital venues

ROLLING FOR INITIATIVE -- A LOOK AT DUNGEON CRAWL CLASSICS DAY~A weekly column by Scott Thorne, PhD, owner of Castle Perilous Games & Books in Carbondale, Illinois and instructor in marketing at Southeast Missouri State University. This week, Thorne takes a look at the upcoming Dungeon Crawl Classics Day. It's good to see a few events come back on the calendar in the wake of the announced cancellations of events such as Gen Con and the Essen Game Fair not to mention most of the pro level Magic events for the year . No word yet on what will happen...

WIZARDS OF THE COAST ANNOUNCES MAJOR CHANGES TO COMPETITIVE LEVEL 'MAGIC: THE GATHERING' EVENTS~Wizards of the Coast has announced major changes to competitive level Magic: The Gathering events in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The inability to host in-person Magic events safely has essentially up-ended the new Magic tournament structure announced last year. In March, WotC suspended its WPN Qualifiers and Premier Series events for Magic: The Gathering (see "Wizards of the Coast Suspends WPN...

Trade Press Worldwide . . .

Cynopsis - Canada based

Kidscreen  Canada based

ICv2: the Business of Geek Culture

Toyworld – UK based .  John Baulch’s Friday Blog is must-read industry wrap-up of the week. 

ToyNews – UK based

Toys 'n' Playthings – UK based

Toy & Hobby Retailer - Australia based

Video of the Week . . .

Tim Walsh's WTFF Series (Where the Fun's From): How We Play Informs Who We Become

 

For articles from past weeks, please click “Past Report Section”.

 

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

 

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

Publisher: Mary Couzin, Chicago Toy & Game Group

Managing Editor: Mary Couzin

Assistant Editor: Patrick Fisher

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