March 11 - 18, 2022
Welcome to Your Weekly News Brief!
Happy Bloomin’ Friday!
Here in the Bloom Report and in our POP Newsfeed, we have been posting articles on how our industry has been helping the people of Ukraine. Every effort is meaningful, as the "Toy Bridge" (see photo) shows us. Every single one of us can make a difference.
We have been asked to run a survey of companies to find out how the way they work (in-person, remote, hybrid) is evolving, and to listen to their thoughts on industry trade shows. Please take the survey - it will take only a minute. Click HERE. We will share results next week.
Thank you for reading the Bloom Report.
"I am a long-time reader and champion of the Bloom Report. The quantity of quality articles on so many different aspects of our industry is unmatched and I regularly share and discuss them with my management team as an important business tool." - Jim Engle, President and Founder, Little Kids Inc.
Columnist - Nancy Zwiers
A Tribute to an Unsung Hero-Toy Association's Marian Bossard
As Marian searches for a suitable replacement for the word “retired” following her many years with the Toy Association, I was inspired to spotlight the leadership skills I witnessed over the past 20 years working with Marian in a variety of capacities…her respectful listening, collaborative spirit, innovation, resilience and strong team development to execute well. I am confident she will bring these leadership skills to whatever she chooses to do next.
Toy Fair and Dallas Toy Preview
Successfully pulling off such huge complex shows twice a year is by itself impressive—but Marian made it look easy. How? She always had time to seek out and listen to industry members ideas and continually added new innovations that she believed would add value for her various constituents. Over the years, she welcomed me to support new educational efforts at the show, participate in in-depth media interviews, and conduct mentoring sessions for first-time exhibitors. As she prepared for her eventual retirement from Toy Association, she trained and groomed her team and her replacement, Kimberly Carcone, because she knew “the show must go on.”
Team of the Week
Tami Murphy, Scott Whitney and David Blanchard
Hi, Tami! Why did you want to do a podcast and who are some of your upcoming guests?
Toy Stories, is a mini series podcast about the people who have captured our attention over the years and their stories.
We have a lot of great guests including Steve Mark and Kevin Carroll, the Tenzi guys, along with Ahren Hoffman of Crazy Aaron’s on our first episode which drops March 22nd. We have Ryan Hogan and Derrick Smith, the founders of Hunt A Killer talking about failure and trying again. Rena Nathanson of Bananagrams is on an episode and talks about her Dad, Abe. Eric Poses of All Things Equal joins us to talk about being his own person, following his own rules and making sure he has work/life balance. We talk to Dae Fenwick, Kulture Karaoke, and Amanda Wilson, A+X Puzzles, about being black owned businesses and how they got into Target as start up companies. We wrap up the mini series, with you, Mary, and we asked you a question no one has ever asked you! How is that for a teaser so people tune in!
Industry Commentary - Mary Lenehan
Parallels in Play: The Puppy Zone
When I saw Nancy Zweir’s recent post on LinkedIn about keeping play as an integral part of an adult life recently, I couldn’t resist commenting that fostering a puppy is a great one. It also happens to be my current front-burner method for knocking adult-me out of lax improvisational habits – and into the unavoidable chaotic joy of keeping a frenetic, playful office mate in-home.
In fact, being a mother in toy design with a strong life-long affinity for animals – it’s been clear to me for ages that the parallels between child raising (from a behavioral standpoint) and puppy-wrangling are close enough to make puppy practice a valid litmus test for how some people may or may not adapt from 4-legged to 2-legged little rascals. ; D
Many, if not most of the same “reward the good/redirect the bad (behavior)” advice applies – and works. And in terms of redirecting – it’s in play that results are quickly and unequivocally established - particularly in puppy engagement. Because nearly everything a puppy does in real time is an accelerated version of human child development.
The bond between our species – born of the same mammalian origins and solidified with a unique symbiosis tens of thousands of years old – is clearly at work. But no matter the many fascinating reasons (this is NOT a dissertation LOL); this dynamic is instructive, challenging and undeniably delightful. Especially as applied to creative development.
Financial and Legal
Jazwares‘ owner is about to have a new owner. Berkshire Hathaway, the legendary holding company led by Chairman and CEO Warren E. Buffett, is getting into the toy business through its $11.6 billion acquisition of Alleghany Corp. While Alleghany is known for its holdings in the insurance business, its subsidiary, Alleghany Capital, maintains a diverse portfolio of 8 companies in non-financial industries, including Jazwares.
Hong Kong prepares to lift flight bans and reduce quarantine for arrivals. According to a report in the South China Morning Post, HK has announced a significant easing of pandemic-control measures from next month, including halving the quarantine period for residents arriving in the city and the lifting of flight bans on nine countries, including the UK and USA. After conceding last week that the public had reached the limits...
Instagram, TikTok could get sued for addicting kids under California proposal. The proposal from Assemblymembers Jordan Cunningham and Buffy Wicks is the most ambitious state-level attempt yet to hold social media companies accountable for the mental health of their youngest users.
***The above was posted after March 18th***
The Swedish corp. Embracer Group has completed its acquisition of both Dark Horse Media and the Asmodee Group. In Dec. 2021, Embracer announced that it would acquire the French board-game publisher Asmodee for $3.11 billion, and on Mar 8 it announced that all conditions for the sale, including regulatory approvals, had been satisfied and that the sale had been completed. Asmodee will function as an independent division of Embracer, and there are no plans for changes in its operations, organizational structure, or management team.
China Covid spike sees Shenzhen suspend production. Located in the manufacturing hub of Guangdong province, China, Shenzhen told businesses yesterday to suspend production or have employees work from home for at least a week. Mainland China is facing its worst Covid-19 outbreak since the country clamped down on the pandemic in 2020, with major cities rushing to limit business activity.
China lockdowns may delay orders from platforms like Amazon. Orders placed with global e-commerce platforms like Amazon and Walmart may be delayed by virus lockdowns and restrictions in some of China’s key manufacturing hubs, according to an industry body. Shenzhen, home to around half of all the online retail exporters in China, was locked down for at least a week on Sunday to try to contain a Covid-19 outbreak.
Hasbro defeated a lawsuit in NY federal court brought by a toy inventor claiming the company failed to pay him royalties for sales of games based on ideas he pitched to Hasbro’s products acquisitions department. David Wexler, who sued in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of NY, failed to show his ideas for “mash-up” games were novel and that Hasbro unlawfully used the ideas. Judge Valerie E. Caproni...
Disney CEO apologizes for silence on ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill. Facing a tidal wave of backlash following Disney’s failure to speak out against FL’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, Disney CEO Bob Chapek formally apologized to employees today for the company’s failure to support its queer community. In an internal memo, Chapek addressed widespread criticism of Disney’s witting silence in response to the “Don’t Say Gay” bill passed recently...
Russia Strikes At Peppa Pig In Copyright Battle. A Russian court dismisses eOne's trademark infringement case, and the government issues a decree allowing local companies to use IPs from brand owners in "unfriendly" countries without permission or payment. Peppa Pig has gotten caught up in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the development could have implications for other entertainment IPs.
Summer Infant, a leader in premium infant and juvenile products, has announced that it and Kids2, Inc, a global company that designs solutions to help early-stage parents and families, have entered into a definitive merger agreement pursuant to which Kids2 will acquire all of the issued and outstanding common stock of the Company for cash. Under the terms of the agreement, the Co.’s stockholders will receive...
Studio debts reported to be more extensive than first thought. Studio was sold to Frasers Group for just £1 and owing more than £80m at its collapse, with Frasers Group taking on secured lenders’ claims against the company for around £26.8m. According to a report in Retail Gazette, the administrator, Teneo, has submitted new documents to Companies House which show the total consideration for the group ...
Flat River Group is acquiring two Canadian companies, expanding its publishing and distribution capabilities and team, the company announced. Flat River Group, a 1st party e-commerce partner which also serves the hobby trade through its Impressions Game Distribution unit, now adds distributor and publisher Luma Imports and publisher Synapses Games.
Amazon to proceed with acquisition of MGM. First announced in May last year, the deal is the company’s second biggest, just behind its purchase of supermarket chain Whole Foods in 2017 for $13.7b (£10.4b). As well as bolstering Amazon’s advance into the world of TV and film, the deal would also make Amazon a much stronger competitor to streaming rivals such as Netflix and Disney+.
Riot Games invests in Fortiche Productions. Riot Games has acquired a significant non-controlling stake in Fortiche Productions, the animation studio behind Netflix series “Arcane” and a number of videos based on Riot’s lead brand “League of Legends.” Working closely with Fortiche for nearly a decade, the two companies first began bringing the “League of Legends” brand and characters to music videos with musicians...
Arm to reduce workforce by up to 15 percent after Nvidia deal collapses. UK chip designer Arm could reduce its workforce by 15 percent after the collapse of its sale to Nvidia. Nvidia terminated its $40 billion acquisition of the semiconductor and software design company in February this year due to regulatory challenges.
EA, Gearbox, Microsoft, and 60+ companies speak out against Texas anti-LGBTQ+ policies. Over 60 companies that do business in the state of Texas have joined together with the Human Rights Campaign to condemn the state's recent slate of anti-LGBTQ+ policies, including recent attempts to criminalize providing gender-affirming care for transgender and nonbinary children as child abuse.
China proposes new regulations that would restrict playtime and spending in games. Chinese regulators have drafted new restrictions that would make it harder for tech companies like Tencent to profit from video games, live streaming, and social media platforms. As reported by the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the draft regulations have been published by the Cyberspace Administration of China and would force...
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2021 Global Box Office Down 50 Percent From Pre-Pandemic Times: MPA Report. Not all is lost, however. The annual report from the Motion Picture Association says the theatrical business will recover from COVID-19 and also trumpets the rise of streaming.
Future Financial Reporting
Target, Kohl’s forecast sales increases this year. Target and Kohl’s are forecasting low- to mid-single-digit percent increases in sales for 2022. Much of this optimism is tied to a post-pandemic U.S. market and both chains are plotting store expansions and adding new brands to their product mix to offset rising costs and ongoing supply chain issues.
Wall Street eyes Walmart results for signs of tighter margins, slower growth. When Walmart on Thursday reports how it fared during the holiday quarter, investors also will want to see how higher labor, transportation and materials may affect the retailer’s margins, given its “Everyday Low Price” strategy. Refinitiv estimates total gross margins to be 23.90% in the fourth quarter, down from 25.26% in the prior quarter, while revenue is expected to fall 0.6% to $151.15 billion.
Trends, Market Research, and State of the Industry
***The above was posted March 18th***
Stories, Comments, and Advice
KidScreen - Cool New Podcasts On Our Radar. As the kids audio market grows, more and more podcast producers are looking to move their IPs into TV and publishing in order to build franchises and improve sustainability. Here are a couple of upcoming audio-first titles that could have expansion potential.
AMERICAN, INTERNATIONAL COMICS PUBLISHERS RALLY AROUND UKRAINE With Donations, Fundraisers, and Comics. As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, members of the comics industry both in the U.S. and abroad have come up with a number of initiatives to support the Ukrainian people.
Brick by brick: Wauconda man collects Lego sets for area hospitals so kids can just be kids. Wauconda resident and founder of Bricks of Hope Adam Petraglia shows off his inventory of new Lego sets getting ready to be delivered to local children's hospitals later this month. (Read Rick Derr's linkedin post for more on hte story!)
Inside the Making of CoComelon, the Children's Entertainment Juggernaut. “It” is CoComelon, which may be the most streamed children’s entertainment program in the world. The show was watched for 33 billion minutes last year, more than the Netflix hits Squid Game and Bridgerton combined, according to market-measurement firm Nielsen.
Apple Just NERFED Its Own App to Screw Over Google TV Users. In what appears to be a move to avoid paying Google fees, you can no longer purchase or rent movies from Apple TV. (Editor's note - we found the use of the worl 'Nerfed' fascinating here. It also gave us an opp to share that we have the largest dictionary in our industry available to you and you can even add words to it that are credited to you!)
Ukrainian Kids Content Producers Fear For Industry’s Future. With survival the only current priority, work on major projects has stopped, studios have become shelters, and the industry’s bright future has dimmed. Kyiv-based media company Film.UA Group—which owns multiple companies, including animation studio Animagrad—has shifted its focus from animating projects to helping citizens and using its resources ...
***The above posted after March 18th***
Inside Park Star’s Twist On Tokusatsu.. Kidscreen's weekend read delves into Ancho-V's world of kaiju-mecha dance battles and how its creator Young Park identified a gap in South Korea's 6-to-11 market. When Park Star Media founder Young Park was developing the idea for his company’s first original project Ancho-V, his plan was to make the first globally successful South Korean animated series for older kids...
John Baulch, ToyWork UK - Just when you thought it was safe to go back on the water …it’s the Friday Blog! Covid cases may be on the rise again in the UK, but over the past two years, we have found a way to co-exist with the virus. That truce has often been uneasy, and the government’s economy-first handling of the pandemic may have proved controversial at times, but ultimately, it feels like we are coming out the...
I Played The Game Elon Musk Is Obsessed With So You Don't Have To. The so-called “chess” game isn’t as deep as Tesla’s CEO makes it out to be. A recent Vanity Fair interview with Grimes revealed that Musk’s latest obsession is The Battle of Polytopia, which he describes as a “much more complex version of chess.”
Custom LEGO Store Sells Zelenskyy Figures And Tiny Molotov Cocktails To Support Ukraine. All proceeds from the sales of these items will go to Direct Relief, an international humanitarian aid organization that is currently working with Ukraine’s Ministry of Health to help both refugees and people who are trapped or voluntarily remaining in the country. They have been working to help folks in Ukraine get their medical needs...
The toy bridge. Romanian border police and citizens have turned the pedestrian bridge linking Ukraine and Romania at Sighetu Marmației into a toy bridge. Each child who comes from Ukraine can take a toy from there, to enter the country with a nice thought.
Instagram’s new parental controls, announced in December, are launching today in the US. The service’s head, Adam Mosseri, refers to them as the company’s “first set” of parental supervision tools, allowing parents and guardians to view and set limits on the amount of time their teens are spending on Instagram, get updates on which accounts they’re following and being followed by, and receive notifications...
Pixar’s latest project, Turning Red, has been very well-received by critics, but how does its Rotten Tomatoes score compare to other Pixar movies? While there are many studios that have brought a variety of stories to the world of animation, Pixar continues to be the biggest and most influential one, and it keeps on treating its audience to at least one movie per year. This year, Pixar is bringing two very different movies...
What’s Now Vs. What’s Next: The Future Of Kids Tech. From metasocieties to VR eSports, we spoke to experts about the trends that are big now, and poised to get even bigger in the year ahead. Kid-focused tech has evolved to better meet children’s changing needs, and looking at recent trends can shed light on what the most significant innovations will be in 2022 and beyond.
How Collectibles Brand Funko Became A $1 Billion Pop Culture Powerhouse. Back in January, 2017 Funko FNKO -1.9%, then a largely under-the-radar collectibles company, predicted that it would hit $1 billion in revenue within five years. Since then, the Everett, WA based company has gone public, recovered from what was described as the “worst first-day return for an IPO in 17 years”, scored licensing deals with some of the...
New book charts the rise and fall of British toy company Tri-ang. Written by Prof Kenneth D Brown, Emeritus Professor of History at Queen’s University Belfast and a leading expert in the history of the toy industry, the book is based in part on hitherto unused papers preserved by Peggy Lines, daughter of one of the founders. The book reveals how a Victorian family business became the iconic Tri-ang trademark, makers of Cindy...
Inside the Succession Drama at Scholastic, Where Harry Potter and Clifford Hang in the Balance. When the CEO of Scholastic died suddenly last year, he left control of the family empire to a former colleague—his ex-girlfriend. Now there may be a showdown brewing over billions of dollars in kids’ fare.
Pixar Blasts Disney for Censoring Its LGBTQ Content. As well as for failing to speak out against Florida's harmful "Don't Say Gay" bill. Employees of Pixar have sent a scathing letter to their parent co. Disney, accusing it of censoring virtually all LGBTQIA+ content from Pixar’s films. The letter comes one day after Disney CEO Bob Chapek claimed the company’s leaders were opposed to FL’s infamous “Don’t Say Gay”...
Ukrainian Companies Launch Toon To Counter Misinformation. The country's screen industry is fighting the invasion with a two-minute short called The Good Always Wins and an open-letter campaign calling for international endorsement. Ukrainian broadcaster 1+1 media and animation studios Animagrad and Mamahohotala have teamed up to create a 2D-animated short designed to counter Russian propaganda about the invasion.
How location-based experiences connect brands with consumers worldwide. While the location-based entertainment and experience market is nothing new – circa the pop-up craze of 2018/19 – it has returned in force following the ease of global pandemic restrictions. The combination of consumer demand for immersive experiences, the real estate market on global high streets and the need for companies to stand out..
TV show goes behind the scenes at toy auctioneers. Scouting for Toys, a new TV show that goes behind the scenes at one of the world’s largest toy auctioneers, starts at 9pm on Thursday 31 March on Yesterday channel. The documentary series, produced by BBC Studios’ Documentary Unit and narrated by Kirsten O’Brien, aims to take viewers back to their childhood as it follows Vectis Toys Auctioneers in Teesside, where...
History and Nostalgia
10 of the Most Bizarre Retro Doll Features. For years, the most innovative feature on a doll was a pair of eyes that would open and close depending on whether the figure was sitting up or laying down. But as the 20th century wore on, consumers wanted more from their plastic playthings—more lifelike features, more interactivity, and more bodily functions. Some, like Kenner’s pants-soiling Baby Alive, ...
A rare piece of Marvel history, a publisher’s annotated copy of the first Marvel comic book, sold at auction on Thursday for $2.4 million. The book, Marvel Comics No. 1, published in 1939, is so valuable because it is known as the pay copy, in which the publisher recorded the payments he owed to the illustrators, said Stephen Fishler, the chief executive of ComicConnect, an online comic auction house.
***The above posted after March 18th***
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE SIMON TOY? In 1977, toy developers Ralph H. Baer and Howard J. Morrison were named as the inventors on patent number US4207087A, filed on behalf of Marvin Glass & Associates, as published by Espacenet. The application for the "microcomputer controlled game" described the game play as taking place either between two players or one player versus the game itself as "the machine generates a random sequence of tones which must be accurately repeated by the participant.
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE MY BUDDY DOLL? In 1972, children's books author Charlotte Zolotow published her classic story "William's Doll," one of the first examinations of gender equality when it comes to expectations and support concerning kids and their toys. Per Zolotow's personal website, the book tells the story of a little boy named William who wants a doll to play with, a request that is treated with apprehension and concern by his parents, and scorn and derision from other kids, until his grandmother steps in and saves the day.
The McDonald’s Game from Milton Bradley Released in 1975, The McDonald’s Game has players scramble to correctly fulfil food orders, thwart the competition, and be first to score 25 points. Players strive to attain a 25-point score by progressing through a series of food-order challenges that call for players to be the first to correctly deliver a customer’s order. Each player picks a McDonaldland character to represent themselves on the game board.
Torpedo Shoot from Marx (1977). Torpedo Shoot from Marx was a nautical-themed mashup of Skee-Ball and pinball. Released in 1977, the table-top action game challenged players, ages 5 to adult, to use torpedoes (marbles) to score points and try to hit the destroyer in the middle of the game. Each player had nine torpedoes to fire using a spring-action firing mechanism that shot each marble out of a spiral lamp toward various scoring holes on the game board.
Major lifestyle and motoring brand Motul has announced a partnership with Sunrich Toys & Hobby, which designs and manufactures the highest-quality scale model cars for the global hobby market. Sunrich will produce and distribute a special range of model cars featuring the classic red and white Motul livery. The deal was brokered by WildBrain CPLG, Motul’s global licensing agent (excluding APAC).
Alpha Group expands licensing for Super Wings in MENA. Alpha Group, the leading kids content provider and toy manufacturer group in China, has partnered with Markettcom to expand the licensing opportunity for its popular preschool animation Super Wings in the MENA region. Super Wings is a CGI preschool animation series centered around a jet plane named Jett, who delivers packages for kids around the world.
Heathside Trading has announced a worldwide licensing deal for the Destination brand of board games from Rachel Lowe. The deal was negotiated at the London Toy Fair and signed last week. Heathside partnered with Rachel Lowe previously when she launched the official Jumanji Board Game and achieved industry recognition with Game of the Year being presented by the Toy Industry Awards in 201
Los Angeles-based PhatMojo has entered into a master toy and licensing partnership with Big Games, the company behind the Pet Simulator, Roblox game. Under the new agreement, PhatMojo will produce a variety of collectibles based on the latest edition of the game, Pet Simulator X.
Silvergate Media has revealed plans for the broadcast launch of its new animated series, The Creature Cases. The action, comedy, and detective series, animated by French studio TeamTO and aimed at kids ages 4-7, revolves around animal mysteries that mix real zoological facts with wild detective action. It follows the detective duo Sam Snow and Kit Casey,
PLAY POUCH AUSTRALIA LANDS PARTNERSHIP WITH MATTEL TO LAUNCH BRANDED PRODUCTS. Under the new licensing deal, popular Mattel brands, including Hot Wheels, Barbie, Fisher Price Little People, and Thomas & Friends, will be featured on branded Play Pouches, colorful play mats that quickly transform into storage pouches.
‘LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga’ Brings a Force-filled Uprgade to a Fan-favorite Franchise. The Pop Insider takes an early look at one of 2022’s biggest video game releases. In LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, players can drop into the adventure at any point within the storyline of the nine-film saga. The game from LEGO and Warner Bros. arrives next month following years of development.
The Point.1888 has been appointed as the UK & Eire licensing agency for YouTube Originals series Super Sema, the first focused on an African kid superhero. The Super Sema animated series features the STEAM-fuelled adventures of a 10-year-old African girl, Sema, and her twin brother MB on a mission to protect their village Dunia from a heartless A.I. robot villain. The series is produced by edutainment company Kukua...
Minions x Moschino Capsule Collection Available Now. Illumination’s new feature film, Minions: The Rise of Gru, arrives in theaters 1 July. Minion icons Bob, Stuart and Kevin meet the iconic Moschino Teddy Bear in a limited-edition capsule collection that includes sweatshirts, T-shirts, dresses, bags, swimwear, footwear and accessories for babies, kids and teens.
Toca Boca and H&M Latest Collaboration Puts Textile Waste Back into Play this Spring. Toca Boca, the award-winning Swedish game dev studio, has launched a playful, gender-neutral fashion collection for kids together with global fashion brand H&M. It is made using innovative processes by Circular Systems that allow true recycling of colored textile waste streams, putting them back in play for more fashion fun.
Skydance Animation Inks Multi-Year, Multi-Film Agreement with Spin Master. The first feature property included under the pact is Apple Original Film Spellbound, directed by Vicky Jenson, which will debut globally on Apple TV+. Spin Master will bring characters from the show to life with products including fashion dolls, mini-dolls and vehicles. The agreement also gives Spin Master the rights to develop toy lines for other...
Moose Toys gives kids a “superhappy” experience through its licensing program. As a global toy brand with offices in 3 continents, Moose has significant deals with popular brands, including Shopkins, Magic Mixies and TV properties like “Bluey,” and the co. is positioned to continue that momentum with a slew of IPs launching in the upcoming months. To better understand how Moose got to this point, Menal McGrath...
Character Options details new Yu-Gi-Oh! figures. Now in its 25th anniversary year of the original manga series, the popular Yu-Gi-Oh! trading card game is available across the globe, with products distributed in more than 80 countries and nine languages, enjoyed by fans of all ages. To add to the presence with fans in the UK, Character Options will now launch both Micro and Classic Figures, focusing on fan-favourite, iconic...
***The above posted after March 18th***
Merlin Entertainments to bring Jumanji brand to life Merlin Entertainments, a global leader in location-based entertainment with brands including LEGOLAND, Madame Tussauds and SEA LIFE, has entered into a formal multi-territory exclusivity agreement with Sony Pictures Ent to develop and operate attractions, rides, lands, retail outlets and themed hotel rooms based on the studio’s box office hit Jumanji film...
Apple TV+ is adding to its kids and family lineup with a new 2D-animated kids series from DreamWorks Animation, Pinecone & Pony set to premiere on Friday, April 8. Based on the book with the same name by Canadian author and comic-book creator Kate Beaton, Pinecone & Pony is an eight x 30-minute animated comedy for kids and families about a young girl named Pinecone who sets out to become a warrior.
Moonbug Ent has inked its first multi-territory linear deal, partnering with WarnerMedia to air preschool series CoComelon across EMEA. Under the deal, WarnerMedia has picked up 170 episodes of the popular series to air on the conglom’s fledgling preschool block Cartoonito across more than 115 countries in the area this yr. The brand’s 3D-animated musical episodes, which cover educational topics and..
New Wave Toys Introduces Dragon's Lair, Space Ace RepliCades. Better load up on your quarters because the ‘80s are back and better than ever. New Wave is expanding its RepliCade line of playable, 1:6-scale arcade cabinets with new additions based on fan-requested classic games. Fans can now choose from the Space Ace x RepliCade, the Space Ace x RepliCade Conversion Kit Edition, and the Dragon’s Lair...
EastPoint Sports, Chippo Bring Golf x Cornhole Mashup to Mass Retail. Under a new licensing deal, EastPoint Sports will bring the Kickstarter hit Chippo to Target and Walmart this spring. The game combines elements of golf and cornhole into a new backyard experience. Under this new deal, Chippo will join EastPoint Sports’ family of brands and introduce two new products, Backyard Chippo and Chippo On the Go, to major...
Buffalo Games Expands Pop It! Collection with Stranger Things, Star Wars, and Marvel. Kids can’t get enough fidget toys. You know the ones: They look like a waffle full of colored bubbles that kids can pop in and out. Now, kids are going to become even more obsessed with the launch of Buffalo Games’ new licensed Pop It!s featuring a pop culture twist.
Mattel, Microsoft Extend Licensing Pact for Halo Franchise. Master Chief has some unfinished business in the toy department. Mattel and Microsoft have inked a multiyear extension of their global licensing agreement for Halo toys in select categories. The agreement includes exclusive rights in the construction and vehicles categories under the MEGA and Hot Wheels brands.
Netflix and Dr. Seuss Enterprises have announced they are bringing some of the most iconic and beloved stories and characters of Dr. Seuss to life with 5 new animated preschool series and specials. The projects are inspired by treasured stories like Horton Hears a Who!, The Sneetches, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, and Wacky Wednesday, in addition to lovable characters like Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose.
Dolu, after working with Mattel for the past 6 years in other countries, this year the company is able to supply 21 items covering Barbie, Fisher Price and Hot Wheels to UK retailers. The items cover both outdoor and indoor toy ranges. With classic Fisher Price branding that is instantly recognisable and trusted by parents worldwide, Play Houses, a Picnic Table, a Sand Water Table, Swings...
Magikbee and WildBrain have signed an agreement to license Seasons 9, 10, and 11 of Mattel’s classic Polly Pocket series for Magikbee’s kids’ streaming platform, KidsBeeTV. KidsBeeTV is a global brand with customers in more than 200 countries. In that sense, Polly Pocket is a key IP in the kids’ streaming app catalog, appealing to a large fan base around the world and resonating with both kids and their parents.
Tweety’s 80th anniversary celebrations take flight. WarnerMedia Global Brands and Experiences (WMGBE) is reminding the world that Tweety is no ordinary canary by launching an 80th anniversary celebration on a global scale. As one of Looney Tunes’ most beloved characters, Tweety is known for being unflappable and unapologetically authentic.
TOMY launches Toomies Batman range. In line with the release of the much-anticipated The Batman film this March, TOMY Toomies has announced the launch of a new range of toys that bring Gotham City a little closer to home. In partnership with Warner Bros, the new range of character figures and vehicles brings the action and drama of the Batman …
Prospero Hall and Funko Games to launch new Jurassic World game. Funko Games is giving fans a first look at what’s inside its new game, Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar, which was developed by Prospero Hall. The game, which launches on 22nd March and comes out before the release of new Jurassic World Dominion movie this June, will mark Prospero Hall’s introduction to the growing Legacy game genre...
LEGO: Back to the Future time machine revealed. “The way I see it, if you’re gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?” And you know what, Doc Brown is right, and LEGO listened. Today LEGO is ready to take us back into time with their new Back To The Future Time Machine Set. This 1872 piece set will include Doc and Marty McFly minifigures and will retail for $169.99.
Barbie: It Takes Two to premiere on Pop in April. Pop, the free-to-air kids’ television channel, will air the UK premiere of the musical and adventure-filled animated series, Barbie: It Takes Two from 2nd April. Created by Mattel, Barbie: It Takes Two follows Barbie ‘Malibu’ Roberts and Barbie ‘Brooklyn’ Roberts as they enrol in a performing arts high school in NYC.
Super Nintendo World to open at Universal Studios Hollywood in 2023 . Nintendo World, an immersive themed attraction, will open at Universal Studios Hollywood in 2023, and will be the first Super Nintendo World to debut in the U.S. Super Nintendo World opened first at Universal Studios Japan in 2021.
Batman Takes on Hush with McFarlane Toys 2-Pack figure set. McFarlane Toys has just revealed their new DC Comics Batman: Hush figure featuring the man himself; Hush. Tommy Elliot is out for Bruce Wayne as his jealousy consumes him after discovering his secret identity. Unlike the previous release, a special 2-Pack figure set is getting released and will include Hush and Batman with new head sculpts and accessories.
‘Miffy’ names new licensees . Character brand has signed an extension on a toy license and new licenses for accessories and apparel. Just Dutch U.S., a children’s toy brand, is celebrating artist, Piet Mondrian’s, 150th birthday by adding new outfits to its Miffy plush collection. The Mondrian Miffy and Friends handmade stuffed toys are available online and at the SFMOMA Museum Store, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago...
Princess Peach joins the LEGO Super Mario universe. The LEGO Group has announced that LEGO Peach will be entering the universe of LEGO Super Mario, a product line developed together with Nintendo. LEGO Peach joins LEGO Mario and LEGO Luigi for fans to continue to build out their very own LEGO Super Mario adventures.
People of Play
ZAG NAMES RAFAEL BALTODANO AS VP, NORTH AMERICA RETAIL DEVELOPMENT. ZAG, the animation studio behind the internationally popular Miraculous — Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir welcomes former Walt Disney Co. executive Rafael Baltodano as vice president, North America retail development.
Chris Bauerle has been appointed vice president of North American sales and operations for Insight Editions. In his new role, Bauerle will partner with the Simon and Schuster distribution team and various retail partners across Insight Editions’ channels to aggressively expand the company’s market share and bring operational excellence to its sales and operations’ functions.
The La Jolla home of the late Reuben Klamer, the toy industry icon who invented the classic board game “The Game of Life,” is on the market for $3.8 million. The two-bedroom, two-bathroom penthouse home at 1001 Genter St. covers 1,941 square feet and offers ocean views, crown molding, motorized window shades, a fireplace and colorful mosaic tiles in the kitchen. Klamer died Sept. 14 at age 99.
LA-based animation studio ZAG has hired Rafael Baltodano, a former retail brand development director at The Walt Disney Co, as its new VP of NA retail development. Baltodano replaces Sarah Boyer and will manage strategic relationships at all levels of retail for properties under the ZAG Heroez label, including Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir, Power Players and Ghostforce. Reporting to Lisa Foster, SVP of licensing...
Kal Penn will play a game inventor named Simon Choksi. Indian American entertainer Kal Penn who recently came out with his eminently readable memoir You Can’t Be Serious, is now part of the posh Santa Claus series in Disney Plus. The series stars Tim Allen as Santa and Elizabeth Mitchell as Mrs Santa. I play a motivated single dad, sort of like a Jeff Bezos in ‘The Clauses’ – Kal Penn.
Kevin Carroll and Steve Mark of Tenzi and Certified Play Expert, Ahren Hoffman of Crazy Aaron's help us explore the psychology and physiology of why we want to play games and what keeps us coming back. Tune in to find out what Shigeru Miyamoto has in common with a fast paced dice rolling game. Listen now or search for Toy Stories wherever you find your podcasts.
Party product manufacturer Amscan Intl has announced that its CEO, Gary Panons, will become the company’s first executive chairman and be succeeded by current CFO and COO Joe Hennigan. Effective from 1st April, the changes at the Milton Keynes headquartered company are in preparation for its continued national and international growth.
Mattel has announced the appointment of Jon Spalding as head of UK Consumer Products & Hardlines EMEA. Jon joins Mattel from the Brand Development & Consumer Products team within NBCUniversal where he has most recently been working as director – Hardlines, Publishing & Food for the UK/IRE, as well as holding a Regional EMEA role for the Hardlines category.
Osmo From BYJU’s Names Former WarnerMedia Executive Shawn Smith as Its First Global Head of Communications. Studio and consumer products veteran to build communications division and oversee all PR strategy and brand publicity campaigns for STEAM brand. Smith brings her extensive experiences leading multimillion dollar campaigns for global entertainment brands and franchises to the newly-created role.
***The above posted after March 18th***
Exploding Kittens has hired former Rad Power Bikes and Aritzia exec Jed Paulson as its first chief commercial officer to elevate the company’s expanding global footprint. In this newly created role, Paulson will head up the commercial strategies of Exploding Kittens’ direct-to-consumer site and its retail partner relationships. He will also focus on strengthening the company’s digital marketing development to increase...
Super Soaker inventor: ‘Put it on the table and let it stand on its merit’. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why generations love the Super Soaker line of water guns. “I’ve been accused of being a rocket scientist,” laughs Lonnie Johnson, who was working for NASA at the Jet Propulsion Lab when he came up with the idea for the manually pressurized device that propels water with greater power, range and accuracy.
Lion Forge Expands Its Leadership Team. The Oscar-winning animation studio has upped Saxton Moore to VP of production and recruited former Disney exec Neely Shaman as VP of development. Lion Forge Animation has promoted Saxton Moore (pictured left) to VP of production to help support the Hair Love producer as it scales up its pipeline.
Toy industry vet Ed Gershowitz joins Snorble. Ed Gershowitz, the former president of Hornby America and Carrera of America, has been named chief revenue officer and executive vice president of sales at Snorble Inc. The move comes as the tech startup prepares to bring its flagship “intelligent buddy” to retail later this year. “Unlike toys that have a shelf life based on a child’s age, Snorble will grow with the child...
Huffy bolsters UK team with four new hires. Strengthening its position in the UK as the leading supplier of bikes and ride-on toys, US household brand Huffy has announced the continued growth of its UK team, with the addition of four new recruits to its Bedfordshire-based UK headquarters. The latest hires include UK Sales Manager Rachael Bradshaw, Sales Agent Ian Rice, eCommerce Sales Manager Ben Jarrett, and...
British Games Institute founder Rick Gibson stepping down. Rick Gibson, founder and CEO of the British Games Institute is stepping down. He will leave his position in July, having held the role since the creation of the organization. The BGI is a charity focused on video games culture and education in the UK, responsible for running the National Videogame Museum, Games Education Summit and Games Career Week...
Tomy appoints new NAM for growing games portfolio. Samantha Whittaker has joined Tomy’s sales team as national account manager, bringing with her a wealth of experience and enthusiasm for toys and games. Reporting into Kingsley Matthews, she will work exclusively across Tomy’s growing games portfolio, including Drumond Park, Zanzoon and Tomy Games, which contains industry leading names such as...
3 Women Toy Inventors to Know for Women’s History Month. As the world shares the important stories of famous women in history this month, we thought we’d share a few that hit a little closer to home – female toy inventors from the Educational Insights family! Read on to learn more about the backgrounds, inspiration, and motivation of three of our favorite female toy creators: Nancy Balter, inventor of Nancy B’s Science Club; Mary Jo Reutter, inventor of Dice of Fury; Kim Vandenbroucke, inventor of Raccoon Rumpus.
Companies and Brands
Hasbro and TRANSFORMERS revealed all-new Transformers: BotBots toys timed to the upcoming launch of the new animated Netflix series, TRANSFORMERS: BOTBOTS, premiering March 25. The toys will be available for pre-order exclusively on Amazon.com. BotBots are 1-inch collectible characters that can change from an ordinary object into a little robot in just 3-5 easy steps.
Douglas Launches a New Collection of Cats for 2022. When it comes to breed-specific cats Douglas Company has its finger on the pulse of authenticity. This year the company adds three new cats to their well-loved collection, and they sure are purr-ty! Douglas’ latest New Cats are expected on store shelves in late March 2022. Douglas’ products are sold at specialty gift and toy stores in the USA and Canada.
YouTube Adds AVOD Option For Full-Length Content. Content from Disney, Warner Bros., Paramount, Lionsgate and FilmRise is on the streaming giant's new ad-supported service in the US. The “new media” space went back to the future this week when YouTube announced a new option to watch full TV episodes for free with ads.Sound familiar?
Far Out Records — the newly formed music division of Far Out Toys — held a virtual listening party this past Friday to unleash the music video for “Rock Your GLO,” the new single from GLOTIVATION, a pop quartet chosen to represent the Glo-Up Girls fashion doll brand. GLOTIVATION is comprised of Lulu Tani, Malikah “Sparkle” Shabbazz, Abigail Zoe Lewis, and Robyn “Saucy” Johnson, four girls that were...
S4C Addresses Mental Health In New Kids Series. Welsh broadcaster S4C has ordered a new live-action drama called Bex from local prodco Ceidiog, and it’s all about helping tweens and teens deal with mental health challenges. Mental health became part of the elementary school curriculum in Wales this year, and this eight x 25-minute series follows along as a kind-hearted stranger teaches coping skills to kids who...
Prospero Hall’s Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar available on Kickstarter today. After months of anticipation, Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar is available on Kickstarter starting today from Prospero Hall, the acclaimed design studio of Funko Games. This marks Prospero Hall’s introduction to tabletop’s growing legacy game genre and the first-ever legacy game based on a major motion picture franchise.
The creators of the popular online video game Fortnite have raised more than $36 million US in a single day, after promising to send all the money raised from sales of a new version of the game to support humanitarian efforts in Ukraine. On Sunday, Epic Games announced that all proceeds from sales of Fortnite from that day until April 3 would be donated to "humanitarian relief for people affected by the war in Ukraine."
Apple Podcasts will provide follower metrics for podcast creators beginning in April, the company said on Tuesday morning. As part of the rollout, all creators with an Apple Podcasts Connect account will be able to see how many followers they have per show and monitor the number of new followers earned over the last week, month, 60 days and all time. Other updated metrics will include the time audiences have...
JAKKS Pacific announced new Spring 2022 additions to its line of outdoor toys with cool new updated graphics coming to retail stores and online. A brand new trampoline has been added to the line up for $159.99 along with new additions of patio chairs, Fly Wheels, pop-up tents, music mats and many other specialty items in prices ranging from $9.99 to $59.99. For these price points, there is something every family can...
MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE 40TH ANNIVERSARY HE-MAN REVEALED AMONG MORE THAN 20 NEW MOTU ACTION FIGURES. A fresh roster of heroes and villains have joined the battle for Eternia and Etheria. Mattel is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its Masters of the Universe (MOTU) franchise with a host of new action figures, vehicles, and playsets that are set to hit retail this year.
Stand with Ukraine - Special Happy City "Kyiv" Card. Last year, our Ukrainian publishing partner chose to localize Happy City in their country. However, they had one significant request: replace the "bonus building" card that features Moscow's Red Square with a Ukraine-centric landmark. For a $5 donation, you can get the card and we will contribute all of the proceeds to Global Giving's Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund.
Ridley’s Games, the design-led games brand owned by Chronicle Books, is launching an innovative jigsaw puzzle format for SS22. The range, called Jigsaw Duels, is a competitive puzzling game that pits players against one another and puts their jigsaw-piecing skills to the ultimate test. In this two-player jigsaw game, each player has a 70-piece jigsaw to complete, and must race to be the first to finish it – with the catch...
Vivid Goliath's Casefile: Truth and Deception is a board game version of the successful true crime podcast and will hit shelves in Q4 this year. Named one of the Podcasts of the Decade by Spotify, Casefile is a true crime podcast which examines real crime cases from across the globe; exploring all the intricate details around solved and unsolved crimes. Receiving over 500m downloads since its launch, the podcast has...
VTech goes green for the month of March. VTech employees took part in a Global Green Day throughout the company on 17th March, the aim of which was to promote a healthy and green lifestyle within both VTech offices and their local communities. Locations around the world planned a raft of activities, with each office undertaking something different in a quest to do its bit for the planet.
THE 2022 HOT WHEELS LEGENDS TOUR FIRES UP THE ENGINES. The Hot Wheels Legends Tour will hit the road for a fifth run this year — an epic, global hunt for a real-life car that’s been “built, not bought” that will ultimately be inducted into the Hot Wheels Garage of Legends and become a 1:64-scale die-cast Hot Wheels vehicle that kids and collectors will be able to collect for play and display.
***The above posted after March 18th***
Sesame Workshop Launches Educational Play Center In South Korea. The non-profit plans to build a total of five Sesame Street Learn and Play EPCs across the country. Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit behind Sesame Street, is partnering with Seoul-based AVECS Creative Group, to create a series of Sesame Street-themed educational play centers (EPCs) within South Korea.
Hasbro Molds Play-Doh Feature Film. eOne will produce the brand’s first movie, with John Chu producing and Emily Gordon set to produce and write. Hasbro is digging into its iconic Play-Doh IP for a new animated feature film produced by eOne. No specifics about the film’s story have been released yet, but Play-Doh joins a slate of other Hasbro brands with new screen content in the works, including My Little Pony,...
STEM toy specialist Brainstorm has announced that it is working towards a net-zero target for the end of 2022. The maker of the popular Eugy eco-friendly 3D model brand highlighted its move into plastic free packaging at the recent London Toy Fair and says it is committed to improve sustainability and recyclability across all products.
Smyths Toys’ Oscar collaborates with Squishmallows for latest hit. Welcome to Squishville is Oscar’s latest musical offering on his YouTube channel, featuring over 35 million views so far. Oscar is adding yet another single to his growing discography, this time collaborating with Jazwares. The video for his new single, Welcome to Squishville, takes viewers on a journey through the town, where he meets with a selection of...
The UK channel answers the call initiated by Rebecca Atkinson’s #ToyLikeMe campaign, featuring the lives and play patterns of children living in a wheelchair-accessible home. Channel 5′s Milkshake! will be the network home for MixMups, a preschool series created by–and featuring–people with disabilities.
eeBoo Shows Off New Puzzles Made of Sustainable Materials. Woman-owned and run toy company eeBoo has a new selection of puzzles made with sustainable practices and materials for both kids and grownups. Never underestimate the value of play, even for a three-year-old, as lifestyle brand and toy manufacturer eeBoo knows well. Its 2022 collection of puzzles and games has universal themes parents can appreciate.
Bandai America Incorporated has announced that it will be merging with Bandai Namco Collectibles LLC (Bluefin,) effective April 1st, 2022. The merger will result in one group by the name of Bandai Namco Toys & Collectibles America Inc. Leading the new company will be Mr. Steve Fujimura, CEO and President and Mr. Shu Takahara as the Chief Operation Officer.
Niantic is shutting down Pokémon Go operations in Russia and Belarus. Niantic is suspending sales, downloads, and gameplay for games like Pokémon Go in Russia and Belarus, joining an increasing sea of companies shutting down operations in the region. The reason of course, is Russia's invasion of Ukraine that began on February 24.
Schleich, the world’s leading manufacturer of animal characters and playsets, is pleased to enter into a yearlong partnership with the American Montessori Society. The American Montessori Society promotes independent, engaged and self-motivated learning. Schleich animal characters integrate into educational activities such as those in language development and cultural studies.
Hasbro Named One of ‘World’s Most Ethical Companies’ for 11th Consecutive Year. The global play and entertainment co is one of just four consumer products companies being honored by Ethisphere in a field of 136 companies. The award recognizes companies for leadership in areas including business ethics and compliance, ethical sourcing and human rights, environmental sustainability, and social impact across global...
Far Out Toys, Kidoodle.TV Bring ‘The GLO Show’ to TV Screens Worldwide. As the Glo-Up Girls fashion doll line hits shelves at Target stores in the U.S. and Australia this month, Far Out Toys inked a licensing deal with Kidoodle.TV to bring Glo-Up Girls entertainment to millions of young viewers around the world.
MGA Entertainment Teases Rainbow High Spinoff, Shadow High. The doll world is buzzing with the promotional rollout of MGA Entertainment’s latest doll brand. The company behind L.O.L. Surprise! began teasing the new doll line as students from Shadow High “hijacked” the official Rainbow High Instagram account. Read more…
Spin Master Games is holding a special pop-up event in NYC this weekend as they're giving away free treats with games. The company will be having special ice cream trucks show up at three different locations between March 18th-20th around Manhattan. The event is being done to promote their latest card game, Tell Me Without Telling Me, a fresh new party game inspired by the viral TikTok trend. .
Since its soft launch by Waboba in 2012, the Moon Ball has become a world best-selling ball, making that milestone with now over 10 million sold. “While it’s always been a popular activity toy, its popularity has zoomed with the onset of social media,” noted Jordan Sullivan, Waboba’s Director of Fun, “and there have been over one million views on TikTok, YouTube and more, all showing the wild tricks we...
Cloudco Ent, owner of the venerable-but-irreverent Madballs brand, and The Topps Co, owner of the renowned-yet-over-the-top Garbage Pail Kids brand, have released much-anticipated limited-edition collaborations that fans of these iconic 80s brands have been eagerly waiting for. By playfully pitting the two “heavyweights of gross” against one another, licensees such as Chalk Line, Dynamite Entertainment...
Sesame Workshop kicks off ‘Word of the Day’ with Amanda Gorman. Starting today with Amanda Gorman introducing the word “Upstander,” guests will include: Samuel L. Jackson; Gabrielle Union; Brett Goldstein; Anna Cathcart; Zazie Beetz; Ava DuVernay; and First Lady Jill Biden. The Sesame Workshop “Word of the Day” videos will roll out simultaneously on Sesame Street’s YouTube channel and across Cartoon...
ZAG and Burger King Launch Global QSR Promotion for Miraculous. Zag’s global promotion with Burger King first launched internationally across Europe, Latin America, MENA, and Pacific Asia, on Jan 17, and in France on Jan 24. The U.S. is scheduled to launch on March 24, 2022, in approximately 7,200 participating Burger King restaurants. The promotion features six branded premium items featuring characters...
Cra-Z-Art to Donate $250,000 In Toys to Aid Children in Ukraine. Cra-Z-Art will donate approximately $250,000 worth of their premium markers, colored pencils, crayons, coloring books, activity kits and puzzles. The company, headquartered in Randolph, NJ, produces and markets such popular toy items as Kodak jigsaw puzzles, Shimmer ‘n Sparkle activity kits, Cra-Z-Art art materials, Disney arts and crafts, USA Gold...
PRX & Sensical Tune Into Podcast Partnership. Five audio series for kids, including Molly of Denali and Live from Mount Olympus, have just launched on the streamer. Common Sense Networks’ ad-supported streaming service Sensical has picked up five kids podcasts from audio company PRX. Available on Sensical now are the Molly of Denali and Pinkalicious & Perteriffic audio series it made with PBS KIDS and GBH...
Star Stable Tests A Kinder Approach To Online Moderation. A six-week AI-powered pilot program on Star Stable Online encouraged kids to be nice and reduced the amount of toxic messaging by 5%. Swedish video game company Star Stable Entertainment is rolling out a new artificial intelligence system in its Star Stable Online game that could revolutionize online moderation in the kids gaming space.
Asmodee USA announced that six companies have added them as an English distributor for various game titles and products. These companies include Modiphius Entertainment, Para Bellum Games, Spin Master, Skytear Games, Trans Atlantic Games, and Road to Infamy. Spin Master will have a non-exclusive agreement with Asmodee USA for distribution of select games from their catalog. Games included in this deal. . .
FuturumKids Dips Into Australia With Paddles. The CG-animated bridge series featuring a lovable polar bear out of water makes its first move outside of Europe. The bear that accidentally ended up in Ireland just found himself even further away from home. Paddles, the CG-animated series featuring a polar bear cub who is accidentally delivered by stork to a frozen River Shannon in Ireland, is set to start airing in Australia...
Marvel teams with The Prince’s Trust to give aspiring designers their first break. Marvel has announced the launch of its first ever Marvel & The Prince’s Trust collection, created in collaboration with the youth charity. Disney partnered with The Prince’s Trust on a two-week programme to give young aspiring designers the opportunity to break into the world of fashion and product design by pairing each participant with a mentor...
Lego supports Comic Relief with brick walk challenge. TV star and mother-of-two Jacqueline Jossa took on the challenge of treading barefoot over Lego bricks, to raise money for Comic Relief this Red Nose Day. Onlookers watched as the former Queen of the Jungle took cautious steps along the specially designed Lego brick walk on London’s Southbank, navigating her way across more than 30,000 Lego bricks.
Marks & Spencer will be introducing an Early Learning Centre toy section into a small selection of its stores (10), as it extends its strategy to sell external brands in an attempt to increase its appeal to families. The move follows a trial to sell ELC toys via the Marks & Spencer website, which started last year. Then, over 200 toys from a curated Early Learning Centre range were added to the M&S website and...
What a Rush: Stern Pinball scores big with rock star's help on new machine line. George Gomez has been making coin-operated games in the Chicago area for decades, and he's spent the last few years ushering in a "renaissance in pinball" in Elk Grove Village. "We're the largest manufacturer of pinball machines in the world, and on any given day, we probably own 90% of the world market for pinball," Gomez, the COO...
New Hatchimal toys are coming, and we've got a sneak peek at one of them! Remember Hatchimals? They’re cute, interactive plush toys that come in an egg that they have to hatch out of first, and you never knew exactly what you were going to get! Kids went absolutely gaga for them a few years ago, and now Spin Master is revealing the next stage in their evolution: the Hatchicorn!
PowerTown Wrestling, a brand developed by Relativity Worldwide, has appointed Southard Communications as its first agency of record to support the debut of its retro action-figure line. Southard will handle all PowerTown's marketing, communications and social-media campaign. It will also spearhead consumer and trade media relations, events, influencer marketing and paid digital communications.
Ms. Marvel Reportedly Set To Release In June. Ms. Marvel is set to release after Moon Knight, and the series' red carpet premiere has been scheduled for early June, indicating its release date. The upcoming show is based on the highly popular character Kamala Khan, a.k.a. Ms. Marvel (Iman Vellani), a 16-year-old Muslim Pakistani-American from Jersey City who is a big fan of superheroes, in particular, Carol Danvers.
Mattel consolidates NA manufacturing operations in Nuevo Leon, Mexico and expansion of its Montoi manufacturing facility at an inauguration at the site held with Ivan Rivas Rodriguez, Economy Secretary of Nuevo Leon State, Héctor Guerrero Herrera, Sub Secretary of Industry and Commerce of the Economy Secretary and Ynon Kreiz, Chairman and CEO of Mattel.
PLAYMOBIL introduces Duck on Call. PLAYMOBIL is introducing a new theme world and animated series featuring Ducklas, a cheeky boy trapped in a duck’s body, who leads exciting missions together with his three young friends – a firefighter, policewoman and emergency doctor. The new PLAYMOBIL sets are designed to be full of innovation and offer tons of fun for kids aged 3-5 years.
Catan Studios teases 'Dawn of Humankind'. CATAN Studios teased Dawn of Humankind, a new CATAN board game, for release in 2022. This new title sends CATAN back to prehistoric times, similar to Settlers of the Stone Age, which won a Gamer's Choice Award at Origins 2003 for Best Historical Board Game (see "2003").
Chop a path to victory with 'Pokemon TCG: Kleavor Vstar Premium Collection'. The Pokemon Company International will release Pokemon TCG: Kleavor VSTAR Premium Collection into retail on May 27, 2022. Kleavor VSTAR comes out of the wilderness for this new collection. This Pokemon VSTAR increases its damage dealt for each Pokemon in its Trainer's discard pile.
Trampoline time gets an upgrade from Plum Play. Family-run outdoor play specialist Plum Play is offering every kid the chance to feel like a star this summer with its 4.5ft Interactive Lights Junior Trampoline and Enclosure. The trampoline features interactive battery-operated LED lights, in blue, purple, red, orange, yellow and green, around the top rim that flash in time with a child’s favorite songs using a built-in audio sensor.
Renegade Game Studios will reprint 'Crusaders: Thy Will Be Done', a Euro-style board game, for release into retail in Q3. This board game, from designer Seth Jaffee, was previously published in 2018 by Tasty Minstrel Games. It features mechanics from Mancala alongside a rondel-based action selection.
WizKids unveils 'Marvel: Remix', a new card game by Bruce Glassco, for release into retail in July 2022. In Marvel: Remix, players build a team of heroes and allies to take on infamous villains. They are dealt a hand of seven cards that will contain characters, items, or locations from throughout the Marvel Universe.
Enjoy a greener summer with Bigjigs Toys. Bigjigs Toys is offering parents greener options for beach holidays and garden play this summer, with a selection of eco-friendly outdoor toys crafted from sustainable materials. The green toys on offer include an Eco Spade made from wheat fibre, and a collapsible Activity Bucket and foldable Flexible Flyer made from food-grade, non-toxic silicone.
Eolo Toys’ Jiggly Pets brand set for rapid expansion. Hailed by Eolo as a worldwide sensation, the Jiggly Pets brand has sold over 2m pieces globally since its inception in 2020. Off the back of its success, the company is now eyeing rapid expansion of the Jiggly Pets business, with new toys set to launch for the second half of 2022.
Portal Games announces 'Brazil: Imperial' for NA markets. Portal Games announced Brazil: Imperial, a Euro X board game by MeepleBR, for release into North American markets in Q3 2022. Brazil: Imperial introduces the concept of a Euro X game, which is a euro game combined with a 4X game.
Bigjigs Toys concession launches at baby store Newbie and Me. Newbie and Me, an independent family-run baby store in the North of England, has added an exclusive Bigjigs Toys toy shop to its offering. Newbie and Me, which has shops in Telford, Leeds and Crewe, is exclusively stocking Bigjigs Toys’ wooden toys, as well as some of Bigjigs’ distribution brands such as Green Toys and CollectA, alongside...
Gibsons heralds the return of Kingmaker. First launched in 1974, Kingmaker simulates the Wars of the Roses, the period of sporadic civil war in England between 1450 and 1490. Invented by the late Andrew Macneil, the game is based on the premise that the powerful noble families used the Lancastrian and Yorkist princes as pawns in a greater game of gaining control of England.
Gibsons marks the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee with royal-themed puzzles. On 6 February 2022, Her Majesty The Queen became the first British Monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee, 70 years of service, having acceded to the throne on 6 February 1952 when she was just 25 years old. In celebration of this historic occasion, family-owned jigsaw puzzle and board game company Gibsons has launched three new royal-themed...
Gaming: Digital, Video, Hardware, and Development
Walt Disney Games and Kabam Entertainment are partnering up for Disney's Mirrorverse, an action-RPG launching June 23 on mobile devices that brings Disney and Pixar characters together in a brand-new adventure. Mirrorverse is set in an alternate universe where enemies called the Fractured are attempting to break the Stellar Mirror and harness its magic.
***The above posted after March 18th***
VIDEO GAME HARDWARE SHORTAGE CONTINUES TO PUMMEL THE INDUSTRY. Call it déjà vu, but the U.S. video game industry is facing a boss level that it just can’t defeat: the global supply chain. According to The NPD Group, video game hardware sales fell 27% in February of 2022 to lead an overall 6% drop for the industry last month. Declines were seen across all major categories of consumer spending on video games...
FromSoftware hopes to expand Elden Ring ‘beyond the realm of games’. FromSoftware’s Elden Ring has been nothing short of a smash hit, hitting 12 million copies sold worldwide since its release last month. But like any pop culture success in 2022, Elden Ring isn’t going to stop at one great game: it’s going to be a franchise, with FromSoftware telling fans to “please look forward to more of ‘ELDEN RING’ as an IP...
Studio MayDay rebrands as Riffraff Games after Tencent investment. Tencent has invested in New Zealand developer Studio MayDay, which is now relaunching as Riffraff Games. No figure was disclosed but the studio said Tencent has made a "significant investment" and takes minority ownership of the company.
Elden Ring has sold 12 million copies worldwide. Elden Ring has sold 12 million copies worldwide in under a month. Publisher Bandai Namco broke the news in a brief press release, and explained the open-world death simulator pulled in 1 million of those sales in Japan. Elden Ring, which is the latest entry in FromSoftware's popular 'SoulsBorne' series, launched on February 25, 2022, for Xbox and PlayStation...
New video game company aims to develop therapeutic games. Devolver Digital founder Mike Wilson is partnering with medical device expert Ryan Douglas to launch DeepWell Digital Therapeutics, a video game company that will both develop games that can treat health conditions. The company will also help outside companies identify existing games that have therapeutic value, the founders say.
Microsoft promises all Xbox consoles, games and packaging will be 100% recyclable by 2030. Microsoft has offered an update on its sustainability efforts, promising to improve the recyclability of its products in the next eight years. The company announced in January 2020 that it planned to be "carbon negative" by 2030.
Wordle has only one real competitor for the year’s best game. Two massive cultural juggernauts currently stand astride the video gaming landscape. One is Wordle, a minimalist word-guessing game that combines elements of hangman and Mastermind with 3 million total players, many of whom have logged on to play each day’s new puzzle for months and counting.
Vodafone and Nazara launch mobile games subscription service in India. Vodafone Idea has partnered with Indian games company Nazara Technologies to launch a mobile games subscription service in the country. It's the first foray of the Indian telecom company into gaming, with its Vi Games service set to offer over 1,200 Android and HTML5 mobile games.
Safety and Counterfeiting
Spin Master wins landmark IP protection victories in China. Spin Master has announced several landmark IP protection case wins. The victories are a positive sign of China’s commitment to tackle counterfeiting and IP infringement in the toy industry. The cases include financial compensation following a win for Spin Master in a patent lawsuit against a Chinese company, as well as the first criminal judgment obtained …
Wooden activity walkers for toddlers sold at Target, Amazon recalled. A “Walk ‘n’ Learn” wooden activity walker for toddlers has been recalled because small pieces can detach and become a choking hazard for children. About 17,200 of the toys were sold in Target stores nationwide and online and at Amazon. com from September 2020 to November 2021 for about $36, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety...
Watchdog issues safety warning over squeezy toys. The Consumer Council on Tuesday warned that some stress-relieving toys for children that are on sale in Hong Kong contain chemicals that can cause cancer. The watchdog said it tested 29 poppit and squeeze toys bought from toy, stationery or baby product shops, as well as online.
Crate and Barrel recalls Be the Band music sets due to choking and suffocation hazards. This recall involves the Crate and Barrel Be the Band Music Set containing maracas which is intended for use by children ages three and up. The set includes a table about 19 inches in height by 26 inches wide with drum pads and sticks, cymbals, maracas and xylophone keys.
Russia retaliates to sanctions by giving green light to Peppa Pig infringements. According to a report on Sky News, Russia has targeted what it refers to as ‘unfriendly countries’ in retaliation for the economic sanctions that have been imposed following its invasion of Ukraine, and the unlikely character at the heart of the row is Peppa Pig.
Orbeez TikTok challenge prompts warning from FL law enforcement. Florida law enforcement officials are warning people against following the latest social media trend that encourages shooting at others with water beads called Orbeez from a modified water gun or BB gun. The Pasco County Sheriff's Office is among the most recent law enforcement agencies to issue a warning not to accept what's being called the...
Police in Carolinas, Georgia warn of gel blaster guns. Authorities in the Carolinas and Georgia are expressing concerns and issuing warnings about gel blaster guns which one sheriff says mimic a real-life deadly weapon. The guns shoot gel pellets and are sold at most popular retailers. The most recent warning came from Myrtle Beach police who posted a message on Facebook saying they are aware of ongoing incidents...
Parents warned over popular children’s toy after girl hospitalized. Parents are being warned about the dangers of a popular magnetic toy after another young girl was hospitalized. Magnetic balls have been the subject of repeated warnings from product safety watch dogs in Australia and overseas for the past several years. However, recently another child – this time a four-year-old girl from Sydney’s west ...
Ten in custody for allegedly producing fake Ultraman toys. Ten suspects have been apprehended for allegedly producing fake Ultraman toys, Shanghai police said on Tuesday. The copyright owner of the toys is Japanese toymaker Bandai. Police in Changning District started their investigation at the end of last year after a resident reported that he probably purchased a fake Ultraman toy from an Internet shop.
Highlighted Press Releases
Leading Bubble Manufacturer Little Kids Inc. Welcomes Families into an Epic World of Foam with Innovative Föm Mania® Brand. The backyards of America are about to get a lot more awesome thanks to Föm Mania®, the latest innovation from Little Kids® Inc., the number one bubble manufacturer in the U.S. In addition to the mom-favorite brand Fubbles, the company's lineup of award-winning bubble, sports, novelty...
Jazzminton Sport – New Innovation Removes The Boundaries Of Typical Paddle Games. Jazzminton Sport is a creatively competitive paddle ball game that offers the same fun and excitement of tennis, badminton, pickle ball and even ping-pong all at once...but with a “hole” new spin on it. The difference? No boundary or court is needed – just a small space. It can be played anywhere indoors or outdoors: garages, basements...
***The above posted after March 18th***
ALL ABOARD FOR FIRST PLUSH TRAIN IN BELOVED HESS TOY TRUCK COLLECTION. Choo-Choo Train Revealed Today As 2022 My Plush Hess Truck Collectible. Hess announced this morning a new addition to its Hess Toy Truck collection – My Plush Hess Truck: 2022 Choo-Choo Train, the third in its plush toy series designed especially for its youngest fans. On sale exclusively at HessToyTruck.com, the soft and durable green fabric train has colorful accents, lights and sounds. The $34.99 price includes free standard shipping* and Energizer® batteries. My Plush Hess Trucks are so popular that the first two releases in the series sold out – the snuggly 2020 Fire Truck and the playful 2021 Cement Mixer.
Associations, Shows, Awards, Events, and Festivals
The American Pet Products Association (APPA) – the leading trade association serving the interests of the pet products industry since 1958 – has released Volume 4 of its Generational Report. The report looks at how Millennials, the largest segment of pet owners at 32%, differ from previous generations of pet owners and takes a deep dive into the newest Gen Z pet owners.
Attendance at GAMA Expo in Reno last week was roughly on par with the 2020 event, which was held as the world was realizing that it was in the midst of a serious global pandemic. The official count was 1360 attendees, down only slightly from 1395 in 2020, Exec Director John Stacy told ICv2. A late surge of attendees, perhaps tied to the reduction in Covid cases from the Omicron variant surge, helped boost numbers...
***The above posted after March 18th***
Spielwarenmesse eG and Licensing Intl have announced a co-branded event that combines their skillsets to provide the Germany and the wider German-speaking region with a licensing event of its own. Licensing-X Germany will offer the licensing sector across Germany, Austria and Switzerland a new platform and will coincide with Insights-X, the established stationery event, from 5 to 7 Oct 2022 at the Nuremberg Exhibition Centre.
Licensing Expo 2022 Delivers on Continued Commitment to Sustainability with Products of Change. Returning as an instrumental partner following last year’s successful implementation at Brand & Licensing Innovation Summit (B&LIS) Europe and Brand Licensing Europe, the expanded initiative represents an ongoing commitment to facilitate industry-wide change and help as many as possible across the industry...
The U.S. toy industry’s first in-person trade show of 2022 is a wrap. ToyFest West became the unlikely first event of 2022 following the cancelation and subsequent reimagining of Toy Fair New York. According to the Western Toy & Hobby Representatives Association (WTHRA), more than 500 exhibitors lined the halls at the Expo and World Market Center in Las Vegas last week. Buyers from independent toy stores...
THE TOY ASSOCIATION PREPS DALLAS PREVIEW & HOLIDAY MARKET EVENT. Officially, Toy Fair Dallas has been put out to pasture, but there’s still one big toy industry event that The Toy Association is saddling up for this fall. The Toy Association’s 2023 Preview & 2022 Holiday Market is set to take place Sept. 20-22, 2022 at the Dallas Market Center.
Brand Licensing Retailers’ Academy launches. The series of masterclasses has been developed by Brand Licensing Europe and Licensing International and begins in-person in London on May 12th. The all-new Brand Licensing Retailers’ Academy is a series of six masterclasses specifically designed for experienced retail professionals. The year-round programme, developed by licensing industry experts...
Border Crossing Children’s Film Festival Helps Kids Displaced By War. The organization running free film screenings for children and families in refugee centers throughout Poland needs more titles from the global animation industry. To help struggling families cope with the hardship of displacement, and to give Ukrainian kids the chance to feel like kids again, Polish film directors Bianca Lucas (Letters from the Ends of the World) and Weronika Jurkiewicz (The Vibrant Village) have teamed up to organize free film screenings for children and families at refugee reception centers near the Polish-Ukrainian border and throughout Poland.
Netflix Dominates The Annie Awards. The streamer racked up the most trophies (20), thanks to category sweeps by animated family feature The Mitchells vs. the Machines and vidgame-based YA series Arcane. Netflix’s Oscar-nominated feature film The Mitchells vs. the Machines and League of Legends vidgame-based series Arcane were big winners at the 49th annual Annie Awards, where the streamer collected the most...
2023 U.S. Toy Season to Launch Aboard First-Ever 'ASTRA Toy Boat' Cruise! ASTRA has announced it will host a trade show cruise and play date Feb. 20-24, 2023. Move over Love Boat, ‘cause here comes the ASTRA Toy Boat! Details will be shared soon including itinerary and pricing. The Association is excited to share this first-of-its-kind opportunity with the specialty toy industry and hopes families will come aboard to amplify...
ICYMI: James Zahn Moderates Cynopsis OTT Virtual Conference Panel Presented by Future Today. On March 8, 2022, Zahn was welcomed to the virtual stage by Cynopsis Media Editorial Director Lynn Leahey to introduce and moderate the panel: In the Living Room, Kids are the Chief Entertainment Officers: What does this mean for brands?
2022 SXSW Gaming Awards Winners Announced. This year’s SXSW Gaming Awards included 40 nominees across 12 different categories, with winners determined by a weighted total between SXSW staff and advisory board input as well as public voting. The winners were revealed during the virtual SXSW Gaming Awards show on Saturday, March 12 at 7:00pm CT.
Here are the GDC 2022 Best in Play winners. It's time to check out the future of the video game industry with GDC Play 2022! GDC Play at the Game Developers Conference showcases a number of unique and fascinating video games that show off the future of the industry. Eight games are selected as "Best in Play" by a panel of Game Developer editors.
EA Play 2022 has been scrapped because "things aren't lining up". EA has cancelled its annual EA Play event so it can reveal more about individual projects "when the time is right for each of them." The FIFA and Battlefield publisher has hosted the digital conference alongside E3 since 2016, but told IGN it will be bowing out this year because "things aren't lining up."
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.
Dean O'Donnell, a Massachusetts game industry fixture who wrote games and taught at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, has died at age 57. Word of O'Donnell's passing comes from an obituary posted in The Boston Globe. Some of his former students have taken to social media to share news of his passing as well. O'Donnell's life in games contributed to a number of early independent games from the early role-playing-game era, and eventually contributed words to the Titan Quest expansion Titan Quest: Immortal Throne. He taught at WPI for the last 29 years and helped create the university's Interactive Media and Games Development program. On Twitter, former students remembered how he encouraged them to chase social meaning in their game ideas, and expand the boundaries of what was possible in narrative games. His interests also included alternate reality games, table-top roleplaying games, and "overly complicated board games." He is survived by his wife, his sister, two nieces, and his great-niece.
Emilio Delgado, ‘Sesame Street’s’ Luis for more than 40 years, has died. The actor died Thursday at his home in New York City. He had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer, in 2020, according to a report from TMZ, citing his wife. Delgado had remained active in theater, starring in “Quixote Nuevo,” a version of “Don Quixote,” before the pandemic struck in early 2020. His extensive stage work included serving as artistic director of the Barrio Theatre Ensemble of East Los Angeles.
Still, he’ll be best remembered for the popular children’s program. Delgado had cited the PBS show’s importance as a cultural touchstone in the way people of color were depicted on TV.
“For the first time on television, they showed Latinos as real human beings,” Delgado told the Houston Chronicle in 2020. “We weren’t dope addicts. We weren’t maids or prostitutes, which were the way we were being shown in television and in film. Here, on ‘Sesame Street,’ there were different people who spoke different languages and ate interesting foods, and they were all Americans.”
“A beloved member of the Sesame family for over 50 years, his warmth and humor invited children to share a friendship that has echoed through generations,” Sesame Workshop said of Delgado in a statement to CNN. “At the forefront of representation, Emilio proudly laid claim to the ‘record for the longest-running role for a Mexican-American in a TV series.’ We are so grateful he shared his talents with us and with the world.” READ MORE . . .
Ira P. Hernowitz - June 23, 1965 - March 6, 2022. Ira passed away after a long battle with cancer. Ira was born in The Bronx, NYC in June of 1965. He went away to sleepaway camp at Camp Olympus in upstate New York at a young age. The friends he made at camp would stay with him throughout his life, and the experiences he had there shaped him into the kind, generous leader that he was. He attended the Bronx High School of Science and later Syracuse University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science and met his wife, Nancy. His passion and brilliance led him to an illustrious career in a wide variety of businesses, including Hasbro, Toys “R” Us, Kindara Fertility, and Carson Dellosa Education. In every position he held, he was a leader and an innovator while also incorporating kindness into everything he did and constantly pushed others to exceed expectations. He traveled extensively and had no hesitations about trying new foods or ordering sushi for the table. Those around him knew he could always be counted on for a nuanced opinion or sage advice. He was deeply loved by his family and friends. They knew him as tenacious, brilliant, and resilient in the face of challenges. He was a mentor, a comedian, and had an incredible patience and perspective that endeared him to everyone he met. He was a skilled writer, an avid golfer who belonged to both Potowomut Golf Club in RI and Suntree Country Club in FL, and a frustratingly good Scrabble player. He was a kind soul who cared deeply about the well-being of all people. All who knew him will carry him with them always.
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News Flash: Goblin Firework Fight Pre-Order, Rear Window Announced
Paizo has opened pre-orders for Goblin Firework Fight, Funko Games has a new game set for release designed by Prospero Hall, and a new Munchkin set is out now.
Video of the Week
Children in Clarendon Hills are teaming up to make bracelets in an effort to raise funds for Ukrainian civilians.
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