March 10 - 17, 2023
Welcome to Your Weekly News Brief!
Happy Bloomin' St. Patrick's Day!
The only thing fun about Daylight Savings time this week is our meme.
I've been talking about MESH (Mental, Emotional and Social Health) for months and you've heard others talking about it and getting involved. Learning Express's Rick Derr posted about it this week. Some curious souls have asked about the woman, Rachele Harmuth, who started the amazing movement in our industry. So this week we not only do we kick off a MESH series, we interview Rachele herself. You'll enjoy her interview!
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May your weekend be charmed with the luck of the Irish!
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Person of the Week - Rachele Harmuth
Don’t Stay in Your Lane. Ask Questions.
Hmmm, I don’t think I’ve done it yet. If you asked the folks around me, I hope the answer would be my biggest achievement has been building up the people around me, but I always feel that there are greater things ahead for us to accomplish.
What was your biggest failure?
I have to pick just one? Ha! I’ve got a nice trail of failures, but I think my first real failure would be the one that felt like the biggest. It was a product line that I had spearheaded for the relaunch of Lincoln Logs when K’NEX first picked up the license. I was a new brand manager at that point and it was my first major innovation in a product line. It was a “whole new way” of building with Lincoln Logs that used them vertically to build castles. It was a super great building experience for kids and made these great designs. Unfortunately, I focused entirely on the experience of the building and really cool looking models it could create…. but not at all on the essence of what the Lincoln Logs brand is. I moved into a sales role as we launched it so my first role in sales was to sell-in my Lincoln Log Castles. I got my first lesson in the power of brand. Needless to say, consumers didn’t want a “whole new way” of building with a classic toy and they voted (with their dollars) that building Log Cabins with a brand about Log Cabins made much more sense than building castles!
Do you have a mantra that you live by?
I started my first toy design company when I was 20. Really it was just to go to toy fair because you had to be a company, so incorporate one and, of course, I had big visions for what I thought it could be. When my Dad sent me my first corporate binder, he included a note that said “Here we go!!!” That pretty much sums up my life mantra. I love the thrill of starting new things – of diving into new areas where I’m not really sure what I’m doing or how to do it, but screw it, “Here we go!!”
MESH BASICS - Post One of Six
Thinkfun turns their focus to the global youth mental health crisis and how play can make all the difference in protecting and strengthening children and teens. The company’s new initiative brings together stakeholders from all over the toys and games industry with the challenge: how do we build MESH (Mental, Emotional and Social Health) skills through play?
In this bi- weekly column for The Bloom Report, we will look into the different areas of this initiative in depth. This week we share an overview of the initiative.
Kids love to play. They seek it in every situation, and the adults in their lives know that play is valuable. Parents, caregivers, educators, coaches… adults who care about children are all concerned about their mental health and looking for ways to protect and strengthen them as they grow.
The US Surgeon General’s Advisory on Protecting Youth Mental Health urges adults to empower youth and their families to recognize, manage, and learn from difficult emotions in order to improve mental health and decrease risky and disruptive behaviors.
Partnering with Dr. Deborah Gilboa, ThinkFun focused on identifying the MESH skills that lead children to build resilience. These eight skills are: READ MORE...
Industry Commentary - Don Wilder
The Psychology of Game Design: Why Some Games are More Addictive than Others
The world of video games has exploded in popularity over the past few decades, with millions of people around the world spending countless hours immersed in their favorite games. But have you ever wondered why some games are more addictive than others? Here are a few of the factors that I see that can contribute to a game's addictiveness.
Rewards and Feedback Loops: One of the most important factors in game design is the use of rewards and feedback loops. Game designers often use these to give players a sense of accomplishment and progress, which can be highly addictive. When players feel like they're making progress, they're more likely to keep playing.
Social Interaction: Many popular games today, such as Fortnite and World of Warcraft, are highly social. Players can interact with each other, form groups, and collaborate on tasks. This social aspect of gaming can be incredibly rewarding and can keep players coming back for more. READ MORE...
Cartoon of the Week and Calling all Lexophiles!
This week's cartoon obviously celebrates PI Day! Do you have a cartoon or a joke to share with your colleagues? Send it to me at email@example.com! Can't wait to see what you've got!
Jerry Cleary suggested we also post amusing phrases for you Lexophiles - great idea!
Police were summoned to a daycare center where a three-year-old was resisting a rest.
I know there are a lot of you out there with some you want to share (looking at you, Boaz Coster). Just send them to me!
Financial and Legal
Crown Crafts today announced that it has acquired Manhattan Group, doing business as Manhattan Toy, and its wholly owned subsidiary Manhattan Toy Europe. The acquisition expands Crown Crafts’ presence in the growing category of developmental toys for infants and toddlers. Manhattan Toy’s product offerings of plush, dolls and wooden toys will complement Crown Crafts’ existing line of Sassy toys.
John Lewis mulls end of 100% staff ownership, John Lewis has suggested it may move away from its 100% employee ownership model in a bid to reinvent the company and to raise investment. Last week, John Lewis warned of job cuts and informed staff that they would not be receiving a bonus for only the second time since 1953, after posting an annual loss of £234m.
Swiss-based broadcaster RTS has acquired French studio Les Armateurs’ 3D-animated series Runes from distributor Prime Entertainment Group. Aimed at seven- to 11-year-olds, Runes (26 x 22 minutes) follows William, a 12-year-old boy who is heir to the throne of Normandy but must go on the run to save himself from evildoers trying to assassinate him.
Microsoft banks on regulations to build a mobile games store. Apple and Google have had a stronghold on mobile app distribution through their app stores for a long time now, especially for games. While Google’s Android lets users install games and apps from outside the Play Store, these alternative app stores have failed to offer significant competition.
***The above posted after March 17th***
Toys 'R' Us shut its store at a shopping mall in Hyderabad within 24 hours of opening it due to some legal issues, sources said. The over 4,000 square feet store was opened in Sarath City Capital mall on March 11 but closed the next day. The mall owners reportedly pulled the plug on Toys 'R' Us due to a no-compete clause with another global toy retailer, which already had a store in the same mall.
Buffalo Games and EastPoint Sports have merged. In a deal that closed on Jan. 31, EastPoint Sports merged with and into Buffalo Holding Corp., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Buffalo Games. The merger combines Buffalo Games’ expertise in the games and puzzles category with EastPoint Sports’ extensive offerings in the realm of game room products, outdoor tailgate games, and lawn games.
Popular kids' toy store Camp is begging customers for cash because its money is tied up in SVB. It's one of thousands of startups that now faces uncertainty. Experiential toy store Camp is caught up in the ripple effects of Silicon Valley Bank's collapse. CEO Ben Kaufman said all of the company's cash was in the bank, so it's having a 40% off sale with the promo code "BANKRUN."
Armed with a new rebate and expanding infrastructure, Austria’s screen sector is throwing down the gauntlet to compete in the international co-pro market—and kids producers are paying attention. In January, the country launched a new 35% cash rebate for Austrian films and TV series, including animation, VR, sound, music and VFX. The FISA Plus incentive has a base 30% subsidy with an additional 5% bonus...
TikTok says US threatens ban if China stake not sold. The US government says TikTok should be sold or else face a possible ban in the country. The video-sharing app, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, is accused of posing a national security risk through data gathered from millions of users. A request for a change in ownership, first reported in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), was confirmed to BBC News by TikTok.
Meta plans for another 10,000 layoffs just months after cutting 11,000 jobs. Meta is following up the 11,000 layoffs it made in November last year with another 10,000 job cuts. In a letter penned by Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, shared on the company website, the long-serving chief exec said Meta still intends to build "the future of human connection," but in order to do that it looks like the company will need to sever...
FBI warns that mobile games may be front for cryptocurrency scams. The FBI has advised players of mobile games to be wary of new gaming apps, as they may be used to steal cryptocurrency from their victims. Recently, the organization released a PSA warning that play-to-earn apps offering financial incentives to players are fake.
FTC finalizes $245 million fine against Epic over Fortnite sales practices. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has finalized an order requiring Fortnite maker Epic Games to pay $245 million to customers. The payout is part of a broader settlement Epic agreed with the FTC last year to resolve concerns related to shop practices and refund systems the studio had previously implemented in Fortnite.
Toys ‘R’ Us owner WHP Global scores a $1.6 billion valuation following Ares investment. While the Toys “R” Us team were announcing a U.S. Tour at The Play Date in NYC on Thursday, parent company WHP Global was making some news of its own. The global brand management firm behind Toys “R” Us, Babies “R” Us, Express, Anne Klein, Isaac Mizrahi, and more, received a $375 million equity investment from funds...
Kids producers in beleaguered Britain can breathe a little easier today as the UK government announces reforms to its screen-based media incentives scheme. The changes were announced in the newest UK budget and see various individual streams merged together under a new streamlined program called the Audio-Visual Expenditure Credit (AVEC).
Microsoft finds another cloud partner in bid to win over Activision Blizzard regulators. Microsoft has entered into a 10-year partnership with Japanese cloud gaming provider Ubitus K.K. to bring Xbox PC titles and—potentially—Activision Blizzard franchises to more players (should the $68.7 billion deal gain approval). The deal is the second agreement Microsoft has penned with a game streaming company...
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GameStop showed a rare profit in its fiscal Q4 ended January 28, 2023, but still lost over $300 million for the full fiscal year. The quarterly profit was $48.2 million, a big swing from the $147.5 million loss in the year ago quarter.
***The above posted after March 17th***
Films drive toy buzz for Jakks’ two-year run of growth. Although Jakks experienced a sales decline in Q4, 2022 closed with a happy ending for the toyco. Adjusted EBITDA for the full year was up by 55% compared to 2021.
Trends, Market Research, and State of the Industry
2022 COMIC STORE SALES: BOOM CYCLE GOES BUST New comic sales have taken a beating over the last year, while the graphic novel category has largely held steady, and back issues remain a wild horse that’s usually a good bet.
***The above posted after March 17th***
Gen Zers aren’t the only TikTok addicts
State of the Industry Q&A 2023: Village Toy Castle. Isaac Elliott-Fisher, filmmaker, cinematographer (Turtle Power: The Definitive History of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Power of Grayskull: The Definitive History of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe), and owner of Village Toy Castle, discusses the challenges and wins of a first-year store owner, trends, and predictions.
State of the Industry Q&A 2023: Spin Master. Max Rangel, Global President & CEO at Spin Master, discusses the strength of the 2023 entertainment content slate, evolving distribution, and plans for growth.
State of the Industry Q&A 2023: Candyrific. Jeff Greenwald, Marketing Manager at CandyRific, discusses the toy-adjacent world of candy and novelty items in this extended edition of The Toy Book’s 2023 State of the Industry Q&A roundtable.
State of the Industry Q&A 2023: Spielwarenmesse. Christian Ulrich, Spokesperson of the Executive Board, Spielwarenmesse eG, discusses the evolution of the trade show circuit and how Spielwarenmesse is growing and taking its show on the road.
State of the Industry Q&A 2023: TCG Toys. Michael Albert, President and CEO of TCG Toys, discusses the company’s licensing explosion and predictions for the future in this extended edition of The Toy Book’s 2023 State of the Industry Q&A roundtable.
State of the Industry Q&A 2023: Canspan BMG. Eric Berman, Partner and Creative Director at Canspan BMG, discusses the latest evolution of marketing strategies for toys and games in this extended edition of The Toy Book’s 2023 State of the Industry Q&A roundtable.
State of the Industry Q&A 2023: The Canadian Toy Association. Andrew Wagar, President & CEO at Swerve/Chair, Marketing and Communications, The Canadian Toy Association, spoke with senior executives from a number of Canadian toy companies to share insight for this extended edition of The Toy Book’s 2023 State of the Industry Q&A roundtable.
State of the Industry Q&A 2023: Grand Prix International Inc. (GPI). Michael Fisher, President, Grand Prix International Inc. (GPI), discusses logistics, sourcing, and fulfillment in this extended edition of The Toy Book’s 2023 State of the Industry Q&A roundtable.
State of the Industry Q&A 2023: Blue Plate Media Services. Tim Jones, Senior Media Director, Blue Plate Media Services, provides guest commentary on how toymakers can best reach their target audience amid changing media consumption habits.
State of the Industry Q&A 2023: Universal Products & Experiences. Joe Lawandus, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Global Toys & Hardlines, Universal Products & Experiences, discusses the intersection of toys, entertainment, licensing, and more.
State of the Industry Q&A 2023: FAO Schwarz. David Niggli, Chief Merchandising Officer, FAO Schwarz, discusses the iconic retailer’s growing partnership with Target, its plans for expansion, and predictions for the future.
TCGPlayer top 25 sealed products (with price shifts) - February 2023. Magic: The Gathering - Phyrexia: All Will Be One claimed the top three slots on the February 2023 TCGplayer Top 25 Sealed TCG Products chart, which...
Stories, Comments, and Advice
Residents of a small Australian town said sculptures of Minions have been appearing in locations around town since just before Christmas, and their origins remain a mystery. Locals in Warrack, a Victoria town boasting a population of about 70 people, said the first Minions sculpture appeared just before Christmas, and the statues have continued to appear on various properties to reach a current total of 24.
Gunned down and burned by the Nazis: the shocking true story of Bambi. Walt Disney made Bambi a cutesy schmaltzfest for kids. But the original story was a brutal allegory by a Jewish writer who later fled the Nazis. As the character hits 100, we look at the iconic fawn’s extraordinary life. Written by Felix Salten, an Austro-Hungarian, the coming-of-age novel would go on to be banned by the Nazis before eventually winding...
SXSW 2023: Problemista Premiere Cast Q&A. Problemista Synopsis: Alejandro is an aspiring toy designer from El Salvador, struggling to bring his unusual ideas to life in New York City. As time on his work visa runs out, a job assisting an erratic art-world outcast becomes his only hope to stay in the country and realize his dream. Tilda Swinton, RZA, Isabella Rossellini, Larry Owens, Catalina Saavedra, Greta Lee, and Julio...
John Baulch, Toy World: Mixing it up …it’s the Friday Blog! Last week’s Blog about the thorny question of margins certainly prompted lots of comments and feedback, so I wanted to briefly return to the subject to share some of the more interesting nuggets I learned. First up, it seems I may have been given a slightly optimistic estimation of Mytoys’ market share in Germany – but even allowing for that,
***The above posted after tBR began sending March 17th***
'Tetris' review: This movie is far better than it has any right to be. A Tetris movie sounds like a punchline about how Hollywood has truly run out of ideas. After a sea of sequels, remakes, and movie adaptations based on every kind of toy on the market, a film based on a video game in which you arrange blocks seems like it should be a bridge too far. It should be stupid. And frankly, this Tetris gets a tad stupid, albeit in a brilliant...
James Zahn - ToyBook Editor Commentary: THE PLAY DATE, THE OWLBEAR, AND THE GREAT SILICON VALLEY SWINDLE. I think it’s fair to say that it’s been a busy year already. As the toy industry heads toward the end of the first quarter, much work has been taking place behind the scenes to reset and refocus. With earnings season officially in our rearview mirror for now, the industry can work toward a better future...
Bumblebees “Play,” First-of-Its Kind Study Finds: “It Is Mind-Blowing”. The team observed 45 bumblebees in an arena and gave them two pathway options to choose from: one unobstructed path led to a feeding zone, and the other opened to an area with wooden balls. Throughout the experiment, conducted over the course of 18 days, the bumblebees were observed choosing the latter pathway and rolling the wooden balls...
Grandpa Films “Peppa Pig on Vacation” for Granddaughter Who Snuck Toys Into His Luggage. A California man named David Zielke is the ultimate example of this, as he went to great lengths to put a smile on his 5-year-old granddaughter Lisette’s face. Now, one endearing project he set up for himself recently is making the rounds on TikTok, warming the hearts of anyone who comes across his story.
Green Games Guide. The Guide was written by game publishers, designers, and manufacturers – along with climate scientists and sustainability experts. It contains concrete, actionable steps that all of us can take, with clear guidelines for best practice. From the materials that make up a game to box size and packaging, there are far too many ways that our industry contributes to environmental destruction and wasteful...
And the Oscar Goes to…The Guy Who Inspired Big League Chew? Todd Field is the Oscar-nominated director of ‘Tár.’ Major League Baseball players are more familiar with his shredded bubble gum. Before Steven Spielberg made “The Fabelmans,” he made “Jaws.” Before Todd Field made “Tár,” he made Big League Chew. And that makes Field the only person at the Academy Awards on Sunday who can say that a movie...
SXSW 2023 Review: ‘Black Barbie: A Documentary’ — An Uplifting Tale of Representation. In the late 1950s, upon the recommendation of a relative, Mitchell got a job working on the assembly line at the Mattel toy company constructing Jack in the Box toys. Mattel co-owner Ruth Handler would visit the assembly line to get feedback from the workers on the various toys and bonded with Mitchell.
'Lego dentist' hopes to inspire creativity among pediatric patients. David Jadin, D.D.S., transforms waiting area into Lego lovers' paradise. If someone had asked a young David Jadin, D.D.S., what he wanted to be when he grew up, he probably would have said a Lego designer.
While life may not have turned out exactly how he planned as a child, the pediatric dentist has found countless ways to bring his passion...
John Baulch, Toy World - Margins of error …it’s the Friday Blog! Our most-read story of the week concerned the closure of German retailer Mytoys.de. While this is partially testament to the global nature of our online readership (half of our online readers now come from outside the UK market), it also reflects how closely toy communities across the world are connected. The ripples from an event like this...
Bill Nighy reveals adorable reason his Oscar date was a toy rabbit. The British actor, Bill Nighy, turned heads on the Oscars’ red carpet Sunday night not because of his outfit (though he did look dashing) but because of his companion: a small and curiously stained toy rabbit. The Guardian later identified it specifically as a member of the Sylvanian “Babblebrook Grey Rabbit” family. On Monday, Nighy revealed...
Focus on action vehicles. The action vehicles category isn’t short of new product this year; Toy World gets behind the wheel to find out what’s new for 2023. The world of Action Vehicles continues to rev up, with consumer experiences, burgeoning interest in motorsports and hot new licences offering toy companies endless opportunities to put the pedal to the metal in terms of product development.
Board games aren't great for the environment. Big boxes, loads of plastic, the industry is well behind even video games when it comes to sustainability. As we veer ever closer to climate catastrophe, more and more people—and businesses—are working to lessen their impact on the planet. Cars are going electric, straws have gotten organic and even video game cases have gotten slimmer. One industry that’s lagging...
History and Nostalgia
The Origins of 7 Famous Toys. Year after year, the “it” gift that every parent scrambles to find changes, from Cabbage Patch Dolls to Beanie Babies and Game Boys to Tamagotchis. While many are soon forgotten, others have stood the test of time. Discover how breakthrough experiments, bold innovation, and even bizarre accidents created some enduringly popular classic toys.
Famous Names on Baseball Games. Board and card games that simulate — or attempt to simulate — the actual play of a live baseball game began to appear early in the history of the sport. Possibly three copies of Metcalf Sumner’s Parlor Game of Base Ball, made by Milton Bradley Company in 1867, are thought to exist. But Sumner wasn’t a player.
Mickey’s Play Center from Tyco (1988). Tyco’s line of super dough playsets featured a modelling compound that kids used to create a variety of their own playset pieces. The series included sets such as Minnie ‘n Me Flower Pots, Crash Test Center, and Mickey’s Play Center. Dave is the toy enthusiast behind the Lucky Penny Shop YouTube channel established in 2009 to offer hands-on demonstrations of vintage toys and games.
Matchbox Catalogue. In 1972, Matchbox diecast vehicles had been available to fans and collectors for 19 years. The 48-page catalogue showcased the depth of the company’s offerings, starting with the Big M-x line of models that were capable of movement via a Power Activator. The 1972 lineup of 1-75 models, most of which shipped with the Superfast Wheels that were introduced in 1969 …
Licensing and Entertainment
WowWee and Hasbro, have announced their expanded partnership to bring more classic Hasbro gaming products to the outdoor play space and introduce new Nerf Super Soaker products. Following the success of the Nerf Super Soaker RoboBlaster, the expanded line focuses on epic activities for friends and family...
LA-based studio pocket.watch is boosting the kidfluencer space through a new funding partnership with New York-based creator-optimization platform Jellysmack. Under this fund, Jellysmack is investing US$25 million to provide financing to pocket.watch’s roster of kids and family content creators. The goal, the companies say, is to create “stability and predictability” to pocket.watch’s partner creators so...
***The above posted after March 17th***
Black Panther, Fisher-Price Vets Team Up For ‘Judge Kim’ Book Series. New children’s graphic novel series “Judge Kim” is the brainchild of veteran comic book, video game and toy industry experts who pooled their Black Panther, Fisher-Price and film industry knowledge to weave a story series featuring a little black girl who settles disputes in the town of Fairville. Kim, a diverse stand-out with her textured hair, chocolate skin...
Disney Junior and Hasbro’s entertainment studio, eOne, released the first-look trailer for the new kids TV series “Kiya & the Kimoja Heroes,” which premieres in the US on Disney Junior and Disney+ on March 22, 2023. An original concept by Robert Vargas, adapted from characters created by South Africans Marc Dey and Kelly Dillon, the original action-adventure animated series follows Kiya, a 7-yr-old African girl...
WildBrain has teamed up with designer Christian Cowan for a licensed Teletubbies fashion collaboration. The limited-edition collection features Teletubbies prints in 1990s inspired fashion poses on hoodies, t-shirts, denim, and more. Cowan has also created a pair of Teletubbies-themed knee-high boots in neon green plush fabric in honor of his favorite Teletubby, Dipsy.
Starting in 2024, families will be able to enter the playful world of Peppa Pig at North America’s second Peppa Pig Theme Park, set to open in the Dallas – Fort Worth area. Designed to be the ultimate theme park experience for little ones, this all-new standalone attraction will feature multiple rides, interactive attractions, themed playscapes and shows, all based on instantly recognizable locations from the globally...
Mattel unveils Disney ‘Peter Pan & Wendy’ collection. A set of dolls inspired by Disney’s film, “Peter Pan & Wendy,” have been unveiled. Mattel worked closely with Disney to ensure the Peter Pan and Wendy doll collection was designed to accurately reflect the characters on screen. The collection features Peter Pan, Tinkerbell and Wendy Darling dolls.
‘Batwheels,’ DC’s animated ‘Batman’ Preschool series, launches in the U.K. “Batwheels,” DC’s first “Batman” preschool show, will debut a half-hour prequel special, “Secret Origin of the Batwheels,” on Cartoonito UK on March 18. The episode will tell the backstory of how the Batwheels came to be. The show features a high-speed, CGI-animated iteration of the Caped Crusader.
ToyMonster launches new CAPTIVZ collectible dinosaur toys to celebrate Jurassic Park’s 30th anniversary. With 90s nostalgia in full swing, this year marks the 30th Anniversary of the iconic film, Jurassic Park, from Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment. To celebrate three decades of epic dinosaurs, ToyMonster announces the launch of two new lines of CAPTIVZ collectible dinosaur toys.
LEGO Group unveils three upcoming Indiana Jones sets. LEGO is no stranger to licensing partnerships, with sets from Star Wars to Spider-Man. Now, Indiana Jones is returning to the LEGO portfolio, with three new releases coming April 1. The LEGO Indiana Jones Fighter Plane Chase features the plane chase within Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Spin Master's The Flash toys will include a smoke-spewing RC replica of the Tim Burton Batmobile. In Tim Burton’s original Batman movie, as the caped crusader makes a dramatic rescue of Vicki Vale and escapes using his grapnel gun, the Joker wonders aloud, “where does he get those wonderful toys?” A question we finally have an answer to as Spin Master debuts several of its toys for the upcoming DC Comics...
‘Magic: The Gathering’ teases ‘Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-Earth’ cards. Wizards of the Coast, a division of Hasbro, reveals new “Magic: The Gathering” “The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth” cards. The set brings to life the world of J.R.R. Tolkien and lets players follow the paths of characters from the books and films. “The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth” cards comprise Draft, Set, Collector and...
LEGO releasing newest Super Mario set with Dry Bowser in August. The LEGO Group recently celebrated MAR10 Day on March 10, and with it announced a new LEGO set, the first featuring the character Dry Bowser. MAR10 Day is a day centered around Nintendo’s Mario. The brand got plenty of attention from a variety of licensing partners, and LEGO was no exception.
It’s a big year for ZAG with a new line of toys and a movie coming later this year. Now, the company has inked its first ever pet license with ZippyPaws. “So many families have pets who are, quite simply, part of the family, and as Miraculous has broad appeal to families, our move into pet licensing is a natural extension for the brand,” says Jeremy Zag, Founder and CEO of ZAG.
Boo the World’s Cutest Dog Shop Coming Soon with Merch from Threadless and Calendar Holdings. Fans of BOO The World’s Cutest Dog can look forward to an expanded range of products featuring images of the famously adorable Pomeranian thanks to two licensing deals (Threadless and Calendar Holdings) announced by Spotlight Licensing. Hip hip hooray for BOO!
The Peninsula, whose global portfolio of luxurious hotels has drawn discerning travellers for nearly a century, is delighted to announce an exclusive partnership with The World of Peter Rabbit in a licensed agreement with Penguin Ventures on behalf of brand owner Frederick Warne & Co. (now part of Penguin Random House Children’s).
Disguise adds ‘Piggy’ costumes to Halloween lineup. Disguise, the costumes division of JAKKS Pacific, inked a multi-year deal with PhatMojo to make costumes and accessories inspired by the horror survival video game Piggy. “Disguise has seen significant success in designing against episodic horror video game IPs and it is excited to add Piggy into that genre for us,” says Tara Hefter, President and General Manager of Disguise.
ITV Studios takes ‘Thunderbirds’ into the metaverse. ITV Studios has teamed up with Reality+ to launch the “Tracy Island Sandbox Experience,” taking fans of the Thunderbirds TV show further into the metaverse. The limited-time Tracy Island event in the Sandbox Metaverse will run for two weeks from March 13, giving fans the opportunity to join forces with their favorite “Thunderbirds” characters to take on quests...
Hasbro will release a second wave of 'D&D Dicelings'. Hasbro will release a second wave of D&D Dicelings, transforming dice toys, which will be arriving soon. With the first wave of D&D Dicelings headed to hobby retail soon, Hasbro has put another wave of these dice toys onto preorder on Amazon with an expected shipping date of June 1, 2023. The next wave includes the follow monsters: a Displacer Beast...
Moonbug Entertainment has partnered with telco O2 in Czech Republic (also known as Czechia) to launch the Moonbug Kids Channel in-country. The channel features Moonbug’s entire portfolio of series, including the IPs CoComelon and Blippi, along with newer fare such as Little Angel and Oddbods. It went live this week on March 15 and is available in English.
People of Play
Erik Quam has joined Smart Toys and Games, as the company’s VP of New Product and Business Development. Quam joins the US-based team and will also work closely with world headquarters based in Belgium. Quam is no stranger to the toy industry. His career spans more than twenty-five years, and he has played an instrumental role in the launch of several successful brands in the specialty toy arena.
The number of Black video game developers is small, but strong. In many ways, it all started with Jerry Lawson. The trailblazing engineer helped lead the team that developed the first home video gaming system with interchangeable cartridges, which opened up a whole new world of playing games at home in the 1970s. The move paved the way for future systems like Atari and Super Nintendo, and by the time Lawson died in...
Former Nelvana development producer Brandon Lane has joined the “family business” at Toronto studio Balloon House Productions, working alongside his wife and co. president Kimberly Persona, as VP of creative. His initial goal is developing the studio’s first slate of shows, he says. Traditionally, the decade-old studio behind live-action educational shows Princess Sparkly Butt and the Hot Dog Kid and ...
Michigan City, IN bridge to be named for Lincoln Logs inventor. John Lloyd Wright, inventor of the Lincoln Logs toy and a prominent architect, is one of six people who will have their names attached to bridges ... Wright obtained a patent in 1920 for his Lincoln Logs: Notches in the three-quarter-inch-diameter wooden pegs allow them to interlock, letting users make log cabins and other miniature structures.
***The above posted after March 17th***
Paramount has hired James Waller to serve as senior director of content and programming strategy, kids & family, at Nick UK and Ireland. Succeeding Kelly Wood in the role, Waller serves as “editorial lead” and is responsible for developing strategies to build up and maintain the Nick brand across Paramount’s portfolio of media, according to a release.
Veteran kids and family entertainment exec Stephanie Sperber has stepped down as president of Imagine Kids & Family, a division of Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment. An Imagine spokesperson confirmed to Kidscreen that Sperber has left to pursue independent production, seeking partners and projects for a new shingle.
In this week’s episode of the “Power Kid Podcast,” host Phil Albritton of Power Kid Design welcomes Chris Cote, founder and president of Scentco to the show. On the show, Cote unpacks the exact moment the idea of scented pencils struck him and what he did next. He shares the complexities involved in finding the perfect scent for every product, and how he overcame some early speed bumps in the business.
Stern Pinball has strengthened its financial team with the appointment of a new Corporate Controller. Brian Whitfield, a former Audit Partner at RSM U.S. LLP and Audit Senior Manager in Los Angeles and Hong Kong, brings a wealth of experience in accounting, finance, and management to the role. Stern Pinball looks to grow and expand its business with the help of Whitfield’s expertise in managing large portfolios ...
ABC Managing Director David Anderson has announced the appointment of Chris Oliver-Taylor to the newly created role of Chief Content Officer. This position will report to the Managing Director and be responsible for the new Content division created from the merger of the current Entertainment & Specialist and Regional & Local divisions.
Reese Witherspoon’s prodco Hello Sunshine has hired Disney exec Lauren Kisilevsky as EVP of live-action for families, kids and young adults. In her new role, Kisilevsky will oversee all things kids at Hello Sunshine, including developing and identifying new IP and production of projects on its slate. She reports to Hello Sunshine’s CEO Sarah Harden.
CYBER GROUP STUDIOS EXPANDS LEADERSHIP TEAM WITH TWO APPOINTMENTS. Michèle Massonnat has been promoted to Vice President, Sales and Acquisition, and Ben Abrass has been appointed Head of Digital. Both bring with them a rich history in the industry and experience that Cyber Group Studios will be using for its continued work in the animation sphere.
PlayStation veteran Shuhei Yoshida to be honored with BAFTA Fellowship. Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) veteran Shuhei Yoshida will be honored with the BAFTA Fellowship award at this year's BAFTA Games Awards on March 30, 2023. During his years at the company, Yoshida has become synonymous with the world PlayStation, serving as head of SIE Worldwide Studios for over a decade before stepping down...
Companies and Brands
Barbie launches new Marine Biologist doll. The Marine Biologist Barbie doll is the latest Career doll, joining more than 200 professional careers over the brand’s 64-year history. Barbie comes complete with snorkel gear, including mask and fins to explore life below sea level, and science equipment and colourful marine life including a dolphin, The doll also comes with a mobile science lab that really opens and closes...
Bluey joins Red Nose Day challenge. Last week, Bluey joined Gethin Jones for his Red Nose Day Keep Dancing challenge, which raised over £1m for the charity. BBC One’s Morning Live host Gethin Jones put his best foot forward on Friday for Comic Relief as he undertook a 24-hour Keep Dancing challenge. Gethin was joined by the BBC’s Bluey costume character during the dance marathon.
Tomy expands Hey Clay into German market. Hey Clay, which offers a mix of clay and digital modelling experiences, initially launched in Ukraine in 2017 and has already received a multitude of award wins and nominations in the interactive and game applications industries, including Best Kids App and Best Game Design, as well as Best Arts and Crafts Toy at the Made for Mums Awards and Gold in the Project Baby...
Tonies has announced a partnership with the National Autistic Society to help amplify the incredible work it does to support autistic children in the UK. In celebration of the partnership, Tonies will be donating £10 from every sale of a Toniebox Starter Set and Toniebox Bundle to the charity during World Autism Acceptance Week, which runs from 27th March to 2nd April.
***The aobve posted after tBR started sending March 17th***
Why Mattel Aims to Be In the Driver’s Seat For Its Films and TV Shows. The toy giant's film division has 200 potential titles it could look to develop: "It’s the double-edged sword, because we’ve got so much pre-awareness but no story,” says vp Elizabeth Bassin at SXSW. On March 10, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves — the big-budget bet based on Hasbro’s role-playing game franchise — premiered as SXSW’s...
US toy retailer, ToysRUs enters India for the 2nd time, opens first store. Its online store toyrus.in and it will also sell exclusively on ecommerce platforms, Flipkart and Myntra. ToysRUs has entered India for a second time and has opened its first store in Hyderabad as it looks to tap the $1.5 billion toy market in India, over 90 per cent of which still remains unorganised.
PlayMonster Group LLC, a leading international toy and game company, has announced the launch of the Magnatab Minis line, which has been named as part of the 2023 Toy Association trends report. The new product line will be available for consumer purchase in April 2023 at Barnes & Noble and aims to bring all the satisfying fidget fun of Magnatab to a tween and kidult audience.
Sesame Workshop is continuing its efforts to tailor content for the needs of Ukrainian children. The nonprofit org has partnered with Kyiv-based media conglom 1+1 Media Group to air a raft of new short-form content “designed to bring playful early learning to children with particular attention to the unique needs and experiences of those affected by crises.”
Tasja Kirkwood introduces My First Barbie. This year, Barbie is introducing a brand-new innovation within the Dolls category that Mattel says will change how pre-school aged children play and interact with the brand. Born from insights gained from parents, My First Barbie is the first-ever Barbie doll specifically designed for pre-school-aged children.
Gibsons releases celebratory Coronation puzzle. Gibsons‘ new 1,000-piece puzzle, Coronation of a King, celebrates the Coronation of King Charles III, on Saturday 6th May 2023, marks the start of a new era for the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. historic event with a montage of different imagery portraying the tradition and grandeur of the Coronation ceremony.
Games Workshop launches three new 'Warhammer 40,000: Boarding Patrols': 'Adepta Sororitas,' 'Adeptus Custodes,' and 'Thousand Sons'. Games Workshop launched three new Warhammer 40,000: Boarding Patrol boxed sets, which will be headed to preorder soon. The Boarding Patrol: Adepta Sororitas is led by a Canoness, who commands a force of 5 Celestian Sacresants...
Osprey to issue 'General Orders: World War II'. Osprey Games has announced General Orders: World War II, a worker-placement style wargame by David Thompson and Trevor Benjamin, the creators of the Undaunted series. Osprey will premier the game at Gen Con and Essen’s Spiel fair prior to its release in October.
New 'Throw Throw Burrito' expansion pack incoming. Exploding Kittens has announced the release of Block Block Burrito, a new expansion pack for Throw Throw Burrito or Throw Throw Avocado. The first Throw Throw expansion adds a new defense mechanic to the mix: the inflatable tortilla shields. It also adds more battle formats for players to launch burritos at each other in.
WowWee and Character partner on new Fingerlings launch. WowWee has announced a strategic partnership with Character Options that will see the two toy companies bring Fingerlings back to the United Kingdom. The all-new Fingerlings bring a heart-to-heart connection to interactive toy play. Each adorable baby monkey knows when they’re on a finger, and their glowing heart will beat just for their owner.
Cookie Monster and his Sesame Street neighbors are moving to a new block(chain). VeVe, an app-based marketplace for digital collectibles, has licensed characters from Sesame Workshop to develop Sesame Street NFTs for the first time. VeVe is owned by Singapore-based tech company Ecomi. The first collectible will be released Sunday, March 19 and will feature Cookie Monster standing next to an oven (pictured).
While the deer and the antelope play on the Range, Douglas Company has added a few more animals to the mix, including a coyote, wolves, and more. The Range will see six more mammals this spring from the soft toy maker and lifestyle gift creator. Introducing Howls the Coyote and what a clever looking specimen he is. His fur is fantastic in shades of brown, caramel and white, looking very textured and full.
Airfix reintroduces Avro Lancaster B.III (Special) The Dambusters kit. The reintroduction of Avro Lancaster B.III (Special) The Dambusters features two new schemes, recreating the mission flown by Wing Commander Guy Gibson and Squadron Leader John Leslie Munro. Following a short but intense period of training, the volunteer group of crack airmen who made up the new RAF No.617 Squadron...
Experience cuteness overload with 'Bananya: The Card Game'. Japanime Games unveiled Bananya: The Card Game and four expansions, which are currently on preorder. This card game is based on the Q-LiA's kawaii anime series about Bananya, a banana cat, and his friends. In the game, Bananya is on a mission to become a trendy chocolate-covered banana so that everyone will love him.
Tummy grumbling? It's 'Waffle Time'. Alderac Entertainment Group will release Waffle Time, a new drafting game, into retail on August 18, 2023. In this game, players try to load up their morning waffles with a combination of fruit toppings and whipped cream to quell their hunger. They will draft tiles and create patterns to spread their syrup in an effort to score points.
Brotherwise unveils 'Overboss Duel'. Brotherwise Games unveiled Overboss Duel, the next game in the Boss Monster series of games, for release into retail on September 20, 2023. Overboss Duel is a two-player version of Overboss (see " 'Overboss'"). In this version, players engage in a head-to-head battle in an effort to dominate the Overworld.
Gaming: Digital, Video, Hardware, and Development
Outright Games, in partnership with Hasbro, has launched Peppa Pig: World Adventures on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch and PC. Fans can join Peppa on the trip of a lifetime and build a house in Peppa’s neighbourhood including their own family and friends in this new, interactive story driven game.
Grammy-winning songwriter and producer BloodPop, while working on projects for artists like Lady Gaga and Beyoncé, has founded and launched Genpop Interactive alongside former DeNA and BANDAI NAMCO executive Aubrey Tennant. Genpop Interactive is a game development studio building original AAA games that will drive forward the next-gen of music, fashion and gaming culture.
Atari nabs the rights to 12 retro titles including Berzerk and Frenzy. Atari has acquired the rights to 12 classic arcade properties including Berzerk and Frenzy. The publisher said the deal will allow it to create new games based on its newly-acquired franchises, expand the digital and physical distribution of those classic titles, and explore brand and merchandising collaborations.
Second Life is coming to mobile, nearly 20 years after launch. Linden Lab confirmed its popular social game Second Life is going mobile. The developer recently released a video showing how the game will look on platforms like tablets and phones (both iOS and Android). Second Life is effectively the original metaverse, (or one of its first attempts).
Highlighted Press Releases
DON’T PANIC! GATHER AT THE CASTLE TO STOP THE DARK TITAN LURKING WITH DARK SORCERESS & BOOM TROLL. The Dark Titan Second Edition Castle Panic Expansion Now on Sale with Fresh Art, Heavier Card Stock Plus Rules Updates! Engines of War Second Edition Coming 3/22
Austin, TX (March 6, 2023) – Friends don’t let friends fight monsters alone, especially when Agranok, aka The Dark Titan, brings his army to your tabletop board game. The Dark Titan ($19.95) is now in its Second Edition, a great expansion to the award-winning Castle Panic base game. With new artwork, heavier card stock and a few rules updates, players can get reinforcements before the monsters lay siege to their castle!
Safety and Counterfeiting
3.2 million Calico Critters toys recalled over choking fears and deaths of two children. Many of the products made by New Jersey-based Epoch Everlasting Play were sold online and at Walmart and Meijer. They're calling for a return of "all Calico Critters flocked animal figures and sets that were sold with bottle and pacifier accessories," the commission said in a statement. The company is "aware of three incidents involving the pacifier accessory, including two deaths," one of them involving a 2-year-old in 2018 in New Mexico and the other a 9-month-old who died in 2015 in Japan, the commission said.
Associations, Shows, Awards, Events, and Festivals
Applications are now open for companies to apply to exhibit at UK Toy Fair 2024. Taking place between the 23rd-25th January, Toy Fair will once again return to Olympia London, occupying both the Grand and National Halls. After a successful sold-out show earlier this year, Toy Fair looks forward to hosting another buoyant platform to bring together the industry under one roof.
Toy Industries of Europe (TIE) is now accepting entries for its Play for Change Awards 2023. The awards recognises toys and initiatives that help children navigate big issues. Those issues include how to become an inclusive society, how to live more sustainably and how to have the right skills to achieve your potential. This year marks the fourth edition of the awards which were launched in 2020.
Gaming Days, LLC. has announced that the date for Free RPG Day 2023 has been moved from June 17, 2023 to June 24, 2023. They also released a list of the RPG products slated to be available free to consumers on that day. The date change occurred because the original date coincided with the prerelease of The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth, the new Magic: The Gathering Universes Beyond set.
***the above posted after tBR started sending on March 17th***
TTPM, the leader in video product reviews for toys, baby, and pet gear, is excited to announce their Spring 2023 Most Wanted List. The Spring list highlights toys they believe will be fan-favorites across three categories: Imaginative Play, Collectibles, and Creative Play. “Innovation in creative and imaginative toys are at an all-time high. We’re seeing an increase in on-screen characters coming off-screen and encouraging play ...
Toy Association membership elected a diverse slate of six new members ... to serve first terms on The TA Bd of Directors: Zabina Bhasin M.D., founder of In KidZ Co; Jared Carr, SVP & U.S. GM of LEGO Systems, Inc.; Lori Dawn Howl, SVP of retail development & marketing, NBCUniversal Media; Hiu Lee, CMO of Horizon Group USA; Jeremy Padawer, chief brand officer of Jazwares LLC; and Lisa Williams PhD, CEO of World of EPI.
The Toy Foundation appoints new Chair, Vice Chair, elects new members to board of trustees. The Toy Foundation has appointed new members to its Board of Trustees. Andy Quartin, CEO of Thames & Kosmos, LLC, has been appointed as the new Chair of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees. Kathleen Campisano, Global CMO and GM of Beacon Media Group, has also joined as the Vice Chair.
Martin Steel of Toy City in Wood Green was presented with a Golden Teddy by Roger Dyson at the Toymaster Regional Meeting in Swindon. Having worked in the toy industry for some 45 years, he is well liked and respected by the many friends and colleagues he has met over that period and says it has been a fantastic industry to work in. His son, Simon, set about finding out how his dad could be honoured with the...
Netflix has scored major wins at the 95th annual Academy Awards, with the streamer walking away with six golden statuettes across factual, animation and scripted titles. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio picked up the prize for best animated feature film. The stop-motion animation reimagines the classic story of a wooden puppet who comes to life and longs to be human.
Tickets are now on sale for the Licensing Expo Official Opening Night Party on Tuesday 13th June, with an Early Bird rate available for those keen to secure their space. Following the success of last year’s event, Licensing Expo’s Opening Night Party is back. Tickets are now available for this networking event exclusively for Licensing Expo guests, and located just a few steps away from the show floor.
Barbie Fashion Designer, Call of Duty 4 among 2023 Video Game Hall of Fame finalists. Rochester, New York's The Strong National Museum of Play has revealed its nominees for the 2023 Video Game Hall of Fame. Its list of candidates covers a range of video game eras and similar to previous years, is an eclectic selection of titles.
Cubicle 7 makes FT 1000 list of the fastest-growing companies in Europe. Irish tabletop roleplaying game publisher Cubicle 7 Entertainment made the Financial Times/Statista FT 1000 ranking of Europe’s fastest-growing companies. The chart compares companies based on compound annual growth rate between 2018 and 2021.
The UKMums.TV Baby & Pre-School Awards 2023 are now open for entry, with all entries needing to be submitted before 7th April. Organised and published by online parenting website UKMums.TV, and much like the Mums Choice Awards which will run later this year for the ninth consecutive year, the goal of the Baby & Pre-School Awards is to give parents and gift buyers a clear insight into which early years...
RIP - Rest in Play - Remembering Those that have Passed
If you know of a colleague's passing, please send us information so we may share with our colleagues. Archives can be found HERE
Dana Weise, retired VP Sales Mattel. More to come...
Bryan J Bendavid - SVP of Sales at Schylling, died on March 13, mere weeks after being diagnosed with cancer. The 56-year-old executive dedicated more than 30 years of his life to the industry, the past three of which have been spent growing the reach of classic toy brands, including NeeDoh, Big Wheel, and more.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Bryan … he was a dynamic leader, steadfast partner, and a cherished friend,” says Paul Weingard, President, and CEO at Schylling. “Bryan loved his work and loved his team, and we are thankful for all he has done for us. We will continue his legacy at Schylling as we honor and remember this extraordinary man.”
Bendavid entered the toy industry as an account executive at Russ Berrie & Co., eventually growing his profile and taking on leadership roles at companies including GUND, Epoch Everlasting Play, and Spin Master as he worked on bringing brands including Pusheen, Calico Critters, Trolls, and others to retailers across North America.
“Bryan has left an unforgettable impact on Schylling, its employees, and its customers,” adds Bryan Katzel, Vice President of Product Development at Schylling. “We are truly honored to have had Bryan as a member of our executive team and work family. While we are deeply saddened by his loss, our hearts are with his family and loved ones during this difficult time.”
Bendavid is survived by his wife of 31 years, Lisa, son Jared, daughters Emily and Carlie, mother Jane, and sister Beth Piersanti and her husband Frank.
Stan Resnicoff - Director of Special Projects of Mattel Toys. Tribute by Bob Knetzger: It is my sad duty to report the passing of Stan Resnicoff, a fellow ex-Mattelite. He passed away March 13, comfortably in his home in Redondo Beach. I’ll remember him as a good friend as well as a very talented and creative designer. We met when he interviewed for the educational software designer position I had trouble filling at Mattel in the late 70’s/early 80s, when Mattel was doing Intellivision, Children’s Discovery System and Teach and Learn Computer product lines. I had almost given up when Stan flew in from NYC with his portfolio full of fun, fantastic and educational projects for kids that he had created for The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bronx Zoo, Queens Botanical Garden, Brooklyn Museum, The Smithsonian--hire this guy!!
Stan had a long career in LA at Mattel and at Educational Insights. He also wrote music, created several kid books, made clever art projects, and wrote his memoirs as a VISTA volunteer and later of his very interesting experiences at Mattel. I can recommend both of those books. They’re just like Stan: smart and funny!
So, so much more. We’ll miss you, but always remember you. RIP Stan Resnicoff
Ian Falconer, Creator of Olivia, the Energetic Piglet, Dies at 63. He was a stage designer noted for his work in opera when he hit the best-seller list in 2000 with the first in a series of books for children.
Ian Falconer, who had built a successful career designing opera sets with David Hockney and drawing covers for The New Yorker when he turned a character he had originally created as a Christmas gift for a niece into “Olivia,” a children’s book about a rambunctious piglet that became a publishing sensation, died on Tuesday in Norwalk, Conn. He was 63.
His lawyer and agent, Conrad Rippy, said the cause was kidney failure.
Mr. Falconer hit the children’s book jackpot in 2000 with “Olivia,” which was named a Caldecott Honor Book and remained on the children’s picture book best-seller list of The New York Times for 107 weeks.
He introduced his young heroine with understated drawings in gray, black and red.
“This is Olivia,” the first page read, under a drawing of the piglet singing from a book titled “40 Very Loud Songs.” “She is good at lots of things.”
By the time Olivia falls into bed at the end of the book, she has played dress-up — all the garments and accessories she tries out are red — built a spectacular sand castle, admired artworks at a museum and earned a time out for attempting a Jackson Pollock imitation on a wall of her house.
The book had some sly touches for the adults who would be reading it to their children, including reproductions of an actual Pollock and a detail from an Edgar Degas painting. Such grown-up flourishes would become a signature of the series — a photographic portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt in “Olivia Saves the Circus” (2001), a portrait of the real-life Supreme Court justices (with Olivia superimposed) in “Olivia Forms a Band” (2006), photographs of Martha Graham in “Olivia and the Fairy Princess” (2012). The most recent book, “Olivia the Spy,” appeared in 2017.
“You knew ‘Olivia' was going to be a big deal,” Dwight Garner of The Times wrote when the third book in the series, “Olivia … and the Missing Toy,” appeared in 2003, “because, at birthday parties and on Christmas morning, people kept giving your children copies of it. Or rather, people kept giving you copies of it, because ‘Olivia’ is one of those kids’ books, filled as it is with references to Callas and Jackson Pollock and the ballet, that hip mommies and daddies like to give to the children of other hip mommies and daddies.”
For his latest children’s book, published last year, Mr. Falconer changed species. It was called “Two Dogs,” and it told the story of Augie and Perry, twin dachshunds who escape from their house one day while their human owners are at work and wreak havoc outside, but manage to escape blame. Jennifer Krauss, writing in The Times, called it a “delightful tour de force” and named it one of the best children’s picture books of 2022.
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