March 18 - 25, 2022
Welcome to Your Weekly News Brief!
Happy Bloomin’ Friday!
Thank you to the 50 companies that took our poll on the current staffing status of your workplaces and your appetite for industry events. We will keep the poll open for a few more days. Click here to weigh in!
Here is where the poll results currently stand… About half the companies have under 10 employees, a quarter have 10 to 50 employees and a quarter have 50+ employees. It was close to a 3-way tie between in-person, hybrid and remote work. The comments regarding managing employee health and safety were many and varied.
Regarding in-person events in the coming year, 72% plan to attend trade shows, 44% plan to exhibit, 15% plan not to attend, and 4% plan not to exhibit. Some companies are still restricting travel, while others plan to attend only small shows. ASTRA’s Marketplace & Academy in Long Beach in June was mentioned by more than half the respondents as a show in which they plan to participate. We will share all our results and comments in next week’s Bloom Report.
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.
Person of the Week - Steve Markey
Steve Markey is Going Hog Wild!... and he is looking at your shoes!
Hi Steve! What are your roles and responsibilities in our industry?
As VP of Sales and Marketing at Hog Wild Toys, I get to be involved in so many aspects of our business. The thing I really love about the sales side of my job is that I get to be involved in all three legs of what I consider to be the toy sales “stool” – mass/key accounts, specialty, and international, all of which I enjoy equally.
On the marketing side, obviously the growing importance of social media is becoming a bigger and bigger focus; the way it seems to evolve and change on almost a weekly basis keeps things fresh and means I am constantly learning something new.
What is your claim to fame in the industry?
I would say that the fact I have sold toys into over 100 countries is something I am very proud of.
What’s the first thing you usually notice about people?
Their shoes. You can tell a lot about people just by looking at their shoes. I may write a book about the subject one day. So now, if you see me at a trade show and I’m not making eye contact, it’s because I’m judging you by your footwear. READ MORE . . .
Financial and Legal
Netflix has inked a global deal for streaming rights to Nippon Television’s unscripted series Old Enough!, which has been airing in Japan for more than 30 years. Each episode of the 20 x 30-minute show centers around a child or siblings who are sent out on everyday errands (such as buying food from the supermarket) by themselves. According to Nippon, parents are involved in the episode planning, each errand is based...
Nielsen is being acquired for $16 billion, including debt, about a week after the TV ratings and marketing data company rejected a $9 billion offer. Nielsen is well known for measuring television viewership, statistics that then help govern billions of dollars in advertising spending. It has $3.5 billion in annual global revenue.
Greek goddesses are bringing a whole lot of high school drama to CBBC, which has bought Girls of Olympus from The Animation Band and RAI in a deal brokered by distributor Serious Kids. The 2D-animated tween series ( 26 x 26 minutes) will start airing on the Brit pubcaster’s linear channel and BBC iPlayer this summer.
Justices Won't Review Hasbro's 'Game Of Life' Copyright Win. The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to review Hasbro's bench trial victory in a dispute over ownership rights to: The Game of Life, turning down a petition that sought to extend copyright protections for independent contractors to works created before 1978.
Hasbro has turned down a settlement offer from Alta Fox Capital Managemen to have only one of its nominees added to the U.S. toy maker's board of directors, making a shareholder vote over the dispute likely, people familiar with the matter said on Sunday. The two sides have been discussing how to avert a proxy contest after Alta Fox, a hedge fund that holds a 2.5% stake in Hasbro, nominated five directors to the...
Netflix has acquired Texas-based independent game developer Boss Fight Entertainment, the company announced in a blog post. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The deal, which marks Netflix's third acquisition of a gaming company, is part of the streaming service's ongoing push toward gaming. Boss Fight was founded in 2013 by former Zynga Dallas and Ensemble Studios employees.
***The above was posted after March 25th***
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.
Lockdowns in China impacting Shenzhen manufacturing, port as government battles Omicron. Government lockdowns to tamp down rising numbers of Covid cases tied to the highly contagious Omicron variant are having an impact on manufacturing and the port in the key city of Shenzhen, and in other cities across the country, according to the The Wall Street Journal.
Activision Blizzard hit with new harassment and discrimination lawsuit. Activision Blizzard has been hit with a lawsuit containing new allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination. As reported by Bloomberg, the suit was filed in the Los Angeles County Superior Court on behalf of a current employee referred to as "Jane Doe" by attorney Lisa Bloom.
Microsoft confirms cyber attack, source code stolen. Microsoft has had partial source code pertaining to Bing and Cortana stolen as part of a cyber attack, the company has confirmed. In a statement, the firm said that it has been "actively tracking a large-scale social engineering and extortion campaign," and has attributed the threat to hacker group Lapsus$.
Walgreens pushes ahead with sale as Asda owner among Boots bidders. Bidders for Walgreens-owned U.K. pharmacy and drugstore giant Boots are preparing to take their bids further as they square up in a $9.3 billion battle for the high street group. And current front-runners include the billionaire Issa brothers, owners of supermarket chain Asda – a deal which they closed out from Walmart last year - and EG Group...
Kohl’s front-runner is Hudson’s Bay Co.: Report. As Kohl’s management considers acquisition offers from 20+ potential suitors, one has emerged at the head of the pack, according to a report in the New York Post: Canadian retailer Hudson’s Bay Co., owner of Saks Fifth Avenue as well as the eponymous retail chain north of the border.
Activision Blizzard calls on shareholders to vote in favor of Microsoft deal. The vote in which Activision Blizzard shareholders will decide whether or not to approve Microsoft's $68.7 billion acquisition will be held next month. In an SEC filing shared with investors, the publisher said a meeting will be hosted virtually on April 28, during which shareholders will be asked to cast a non-binding, advisory vote on the deal, which...
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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
Hasbro (NASDAQ: HAS) today announced that it will webcast its first quarter 2022 earnings conference call on Tuesday, April 19, 2022, at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time, following the release of Hasbro's financial results.
Trends, Market Research, and State of the Industry
State Of The Biz: Flexibility Is Key. More than half (52%) of US employees across all industries, age groups and experience levels are reporting burnout, according to a 2021 report from job search site Indeed. And this is up by 9% from a pre-COVID survey.
***The above posted after tBR sent Friday morning March 25th***
Stories, Comments, and Advice
The EU’s Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive: How could this affect my business? In this exclusive piece, Todd Merton, head of Business Development at the not-for-profit organisation IETP, outlines how the EU Due Diligence Act will impact toy companies. In Feb., in an effort to combat the serious issues of child and forced labour as well as the environmental abuses still prevalent in Europe and around the...
GRACE UNDER PRESSURE: A REPORT FROM A UKRAINIAN TOY SUPPLIER. It’s not every day that a Zoom meeting with one of my toy suppliers has to be delayed at the very last minute. But, when I joined the toy industry a few years ago, I never could have imagined the email I received one morning last week: “I might be a little late, as I am in the bomb shelter.”
Girls and boys appear to be susceptible to the negative effects of social media use at different ages, according to new research. A study published today in Nature Communications suggests that teens and tweens have different windows of vulnerability to technology depending on their biological sex. Like many adults, most American teens have a close relationship with their screens. Half of children in the U.S. own...
Why it matters: A proactive campaign by Dr. Seuss Enterprises — the private company that manages the work of the late Theodor Seuss Geisel— to address Dr. Seuss' fractured history on race is paying off. Driving the news: Dr. Seuss is the #1 literary license in the U.S. by print sales...
How Hot Wheels Unleashed harnessed the power of a niche and has been a runaway success for developer Milestone and it’s fastest-ever selling game, as Lead Developer Federico Carlo Riccardo Spada explains. ’ve always looked up to my older brother. He’s just over a year older than me, so of course, he was my best friend when we were little. Every morning, I’d scurry to his room to wake him up.
The Sonic movies won't follow the games chronologically in future – and director Jeff Fowler says a future character is teased in Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is heavily inspired by both the Sonic 2 and Sonic 3 games, with plenty of references to characters, stages, and moves from the Sega classics. But director Jeff Fowler has said fans shouldn’t expect the franchise to move along the Sonic games timeline...
Brick by brick: How Lego continues to build a toy empire. The retailer celebrates its 90th anniversary this year. And with over $8 billion in sales and IP deals that leverage pop culture, it shows no signs of slowing down. Mention Lego and most people have a story to tell. They used to play with Lego when they were kids. They just bought a set. (Did you know they have a typewriter design?
From The Conversation: As I talked to people in board gaming communities and examined the games themselves, I realized that there were big, systemic social, labour and economic issues that were limiting the wide-spread adoption of board gaming and market growth. My research argues that one of the key factors facing board gaming is the homogeneity of the current board game design labour pool and limited representation on the products themselves. I found that 92.6 per cent of the designers of the 400 top-ranked board games on BoardGameGeek were white men.
Why it matters that the Peabody Awards are recognizing games. On Thursday, the Peabody Awards unveiled its first crop of winners for digital and interactive storytelling, which focused on a variety of foundational texts released prior to 2019, an acknowledgement that the field has long been overlooked by our institutionalized awards bodies.
***The above posted after tBR was sent March 25th***
HERE'S HOW GEO-POLITICS AFFECTS THE TOY BUSINESS IN A BIG WAY. In the toy business we spend most of our time looking at our business fundamentals, product selection and development, sales, manufacturing & logistics and marketing. All of these areas are affected, often drastically, by what is going on in the broader world, so by keeping an eye on external circumstances we can try to stay ahead of the game ...
John Baulch, ToyWorld UK - Glass half full? …it’s the Friday Blog! This week saw the UK mark the second anniversary of the first Covid lockdown. Two whole bloody years. An awful lot has happened in that time, including some truly remarkable outcomes that none of us could ever have predicted – for example, two years of increasing sales, despite everything the pandemic and lockdowns could throw at us.
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 ...
Russian troops lay child-killing landmines that look like toys in Ukraine. Russian troops are planting toy-like child-killing landmines across Ukraine in a bid to maintain control of seized territory. Military experts claim that the Ukrainian Armed Forces did not just repel Vladimir Putin’s invaders, but push them back. The Russians are now deploying mines in an attempt to hold onto the ground they have gained in heavy firefights.
Charizard Pokémon card sold for record $420,000, how much is yours worth? My parents laughed when I said my Pokémon cards would be worth something someday, but now in 2022, original, pristine sets of cards are indeed being sold for a ton of money, part of a recent “gold rush” trend on Pokémon cards that has culminated in the biggest sale yet of an OG Charizard.
How the Metaverse will change the way we interact with brands. Everything about the way you live your life will be different within 10 years. The Metaverse has reached peak hype; per Gartner’s hype cycle definition, this means it’s at the “peak of inflated expectations.” This may be due in part to Facebook’s name change to Meta, the fact that individuals are paying millions of dollars for digital properties, or the fact that..
Police find reported tiger on the loose was stuffed toy. Yesterday evening Oldham Police earned their stripes when they were contacted by a concerned member of the public of a tiger loose in nearby gardens that appeared to be pawing in the grass. Officers arrived quickly and after evaluating the situation agreed it was in fact not a real animal but a toy - Tony The Tiger!
50 epic toy design fails that are so bad, it’s hilarious. You can often find a lot of variety within a kid's toy collection. And I'm not just talking about old noisy cars and soft cuddly teddies. This time, Bored Panda is focusing on the creepy ones. Those that parents hope their child will never notice or at least come across in the store because there's something disturbing about them. Like Bilbo Baggins who looks like an addict.
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.
Hasbro Adding Machine (1960). Released in 1960 by Hasbro, Adding Machine was a functional mechanical calculator with some kid-friendly quirks. With a blue case made of high-impact plastic, the toy was sized (10-inches long by 5 ¾-inches wide) and styled to resemble similar electric models of its time. Kids performed calculations by manipulating five gray sliders, labelled A-E, using built-in finger buttons.
Japanese Toy Designs from the Late 19th & Early 20th Century: Explore an Online Archive. After two centuries of isolation, Japan re-opened to the world in the 1860s, at which point Westerners immediately became enamored with things Japanese.When the American educator William Elliot Griffis went to Japan in 1876 he marveled at a country that seemed to be a paradise of play: “We do not know of any country in the world...
The LEGO Group launched LEGO Hogwarts Moments last year with four building sets that recreate iconic Harry Potter scenes in the Hogwarts classrooms. Now fans can build and explore even more of the wizarding school with four more Hogwarts sets. The Hogwarts Magical Trunk takes the excitement of packing up for Hogwarts and turns it into a customizable building experience.
The new blockchain racing game, K4 Rally, has teamed with various professional race drivers to bring blockchain technology into the world of racing, offering users a game filled with enthusiasm, thrill, and fun. K4 Rally combines racing gameplay, a Play2Earn model, NFT gaming, and is as close to being a real rally sport as it gets. K4 Rally is the first cross-blockchain NFT rally game where players can own, upgrade, trade...
Neopets and Upper Deck Announce New Trading Card Collection and Future Gaming Release. JumpStart, owner of Neopets, is thrilled to announce a new agreement with Upper Deck to release a new line of Neopets trading cards. Brokered with the help of Carlin West Agency, Upper Deck and Neopets will release the highly-anticipated Neopets trading card collection, featuring fan-favorite characters and unlockable...
Cyber Group Studios and French kids broadcaster Gulli have partnered to develop two new original animated series in a deal that also includes a pre-buy of Taffy‘s third season. All 3 projects will start production this year. The first of the two brand-new projects is The McFire Family, a CG-animated series for kids ages six to eight. Its 52 x 11-minute episodes center around 3 kid descendants of the world’s first firefighters...
Mattel Takes Over Trolls Toy License From Hasbro. Ahead of a third movie due out in fall 2023, the toyco is developing a new line of dolls, vehicles, plush and games for DreamWorks Animation's classic franchise. LA-based toymaker Mattel has inked a multi-year global licensing deal with Universal Brand Development for DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls.
Quantum Storey inked a multi-year deal with Hasbro for the rights to produce books and digital content featuring characters from famous toy and game brands using its “Extended Reality (XR)” storytelling platform. “Quantum Storey is excited to team up with Hasbro to add an entirely new dimension of interaction that will inspire young fans seeking a deeper connection with their favorite characters,” says Quantum Storey...
9 Story Brands and Retail Monster Ltd. are pleased to announce the expansion of the global licensing program for their new animated series Karma’s World from Karma’s World Entertainment and 9 Story Media Group. New partners in the UK include KIDdesigns (Consumer Electronics), Poetic Brands (Apparel, Outerwear and Swim), Cooneen by Design (Nightwear and Underwear), Roy Lowe & Sons Ltd...
EnchantedMob and PhatMojo have announced their agreement for the hugely-popular game, Poppy Playtime. Under the global deal, PhatMojo will serve EnchantedMob, Inc. as its master toy partner and will manage consumer products licensing for the rapidly-growing Poppy Playtime franchise. Toys and other products will be available this summer.
Canada’s Mercury Filmworks has acquired the rights to develop and produce a new animated children’s series based on Scott Rothman’s popular children’s picture book Attack of the Underwear Dragon (October 2020, Random House), an Amazon Editor’s Pick and National Indie Bestseller, illustrated by New York Times’ Best-Selling illustrator and Annie Award-nominated animator, Pete Oswald.
“Ninja Life Hacks,” a children’s social emotional learning publishing property, has announced the launch of social emotional learning products featuring its superhero characters like Positive Ninja and Angry Ninja at Walmart. The program was brokered by The Brand Liaison. The collection aims to encourage children to feel and discuss their emotions and give them the tools they need to tackle life’s challenges.
Leading lottery supplier Scientific Games has extended its licensing agreement with toy maker Mattel to continue developing games based on popular Mattel brands. The three-year contract extension allows Scientific Games to continue delivering Mattel titles to lottery operators, with the current portfolio of Mattel branded games including Magic 8 Ball, Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, Uno, and Scrabble.
Award-winning content creation, distribution and licensing studio One Animation has secured a new wave of VOD and linear international sales across its portfolio of hit series, which includes the short-form, long-form and seasonal specials of Oddbods, as well as Insectibles (52×11’), Rob the Robot (104×11’) and Antiks (80×2’). In a multi-territory deal, Netflix has picked up season 3 of Oddbods, with the...
The Point.1888 and EMEA sub-agents sign 48 new deals for CoComelon, Blippi and Morphle. Brand Licensing specialist The Point.1888 and its sub agents across EMEA have signed a raft of new licensee deals for Moonbug Entertainment’s hit brands Blippi, CoComelon and Morphle. The new deals come on the back of recent news that Blippi is now available on demand via streaming giants Netflix and HBO Max, with Blippi...
Boat Rocker’s hit pre-school series Dino Ranch has been snapped up by UK broadcaster Tiny Pop and will air in April, supported by a robust digital and social campaign. After a successful launch of the toy range in the US, Canada and Australia last year, master toy partner Jazwares will also bring its Dino Ranch range to retail in the UK this summer, complemented by publishing from Scholastic and followed...
Acamar Films’ award-winning pre-school series Bing is poised for further growth in the Nordics, announcing Maki as the property’s new pan-regional master toy partner. The agreement follows the contract renewal with licensing agent Alicom, as Bing continues to deliver strong broadcast ratings across the region.
Animated War Short Mila To Air In Ireland, Latvia And Japan. International broadcasters are interested in content that can help explain the war in Ukraine to kids, and free rights for 30 days have led to several acquisitions for the short film. Mila, a CG-animated short focused on World War II, is available at no charge to broadcasters look for content that helps explain the concept of war to kids.
France Télévisions has ordered 2D-animated comedy Me and My Compost from French prodcos Superprod and Vivement Lundi! to teach kids about ecology. The 52 x 11-minute series shares ideas about protecting the environment with five- to eight-year-olds, as a compost creature and his human friends learn about activities such as recycling and gardening. The project is still in development, and the studios predict it will...
Rovio Entertainment has teamed up again with SONIC Drive-In, the quick-service restaurant chain owned by Inspire Brands, to bring Angry Birds toys to its Wacky Pack kids meals, in a deal brokered by IMG. The partnership is part of a consumer products programme celebrating the popular entertainment franchise’s first long-format series, Angry Birds: Summer Madness.
Funko announces collaboration with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team. The Pops! seven-time World Drivers’ Champion Lewis Hamilton and his former teammate, 10-time Grand Prix winner Valtteri Bottas. Lewis and Valtteri were teammates for five seasons from 2017 to 2021, winning the World Constructors’ Championship during each of those seasons.
Octonauts takes the plunge at Sea Life at Mall of America. Silvergate Media and Merlin Entertainments have announced a new activity trail, Octonauts: The Great Gup Rescue, which has just been unveiled at Sea Life at Mall of America before beginning its voyage to Sea Life centres around the world.
Nickelodeon Announces Franchise Expansion Plans At 2022 Upfront. More than 40 projects are in the pipeline for the kids network, including a newly announced spinoff of PAW Patrol featuring the construction-hatted character Rubble. Set to coincide with the property’s 10th anniversary in 2023, this new series will also premiere alongside the feature film sequel PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie.
***The above posted after the Bloom Report sent Morning of March 25th***
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 Upgade 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...
LEGO officially unveils three new Star Wars dioramas: Dagobah, Trash Compactor, more. After originally being revealed a bit early, today the LEGO Group is officially showcasing three new additions to its Star Wars 2022 lineup. Arriving as the first of these new 18+ dioramas, each one features an iconic quote from the Original Trilogy alongside more display-worthy builds. Including a Dagobah Jedi Training set, Trash Compactor...
Jazwares mints master toy deal for World Of Women NFT collective. The line between the world of digital collectibles and physical toys just blurred a bit more as Jazwares inked a multi-year, global licensing deal to serve as the master toy and collectible partner for the World of Women (WoW) NFT collective. Under the new deal, Jazwares will create and market figures, dolls accessories, plush, vehicles, playsets, role-play items...
Upper Deck introduces new line of Blizzard Trading Cards . Upper Deck and Blizzard Entertainment have announced the launch of the Blizzard 30th Anniversary Trading Cards on UpperDeckEpack.com. Fans will be able to purchase 24-card digital packs featuring a comprehensive cast of characters from Blizzard’s games, including “World of Warcraft,” “Diablo,” “StarCraft,” “Heroes of the Storm,” “Hearthstone” and “Overwatch.”
What Do You Meme? unleashes full-sized Spongebob Squarepants Family Edition. What Do You Meme? is taking another trip to Bikini Bottom as part of its deal with Paramount’s Nickelodeon. Following the success of the SpongeBob-themed expansion pack last year, the full-sized What Do You Meme? SpongeBob SquarePants Family Edition Game is now available...
McFarlane Toys and LEGO will make Avatar 2 figures and sets. From a toy collector’s point of view, it’s very good news that more collectible-focused companies will soon get the toy rights for James Cameron’s Avatar. From the perspective of anyone who wants to save money, maybe not. As Avatar 2‘s marketing starts to gear up, toy news comes down from the Walt Disney Company’s Stephanie Young...
Character Options details new Yu-Gi-Oh! figures. The new range of Yu-Gi-Oh! figures from Super Impulse, which includes both Micro and Classic options, will be available this summer. Character Options has shared details of the latest range of products to join its portfolio. A range of collectibles from the cult manga, anime series and trading card game, Yu-Gi-Oh! will launch in summer 2022 with a raft of marketing...
Magformers launches first licensed toys with Baby Shark Stick-O sets. Magformers UK Ltd is introducing its first ever licensed products by bringing the Baby Shark global phenomenon to the magnetic construction toys category. The company has launched the Baby Shark Friends Set and Baby Shark Family Set in its latest Stick-O range of leading magnetic toys for preschool children.
Pendragon Game Studio unveils 'Escape From New York'. Pendragon Game Studio unveiled Escape From New York, a new board game based on the John Carpenter cult film, which will be released pending a successful crowdfunding campaign. Pendragon Game Studio is back at it again with a brand-new Carpenter movie turned board game, after their success with The Thing.
Azerion, The Smiley Company join forces to gamify the original Smiley. Digital entertainment and media platform, Azerion, has announced a long-term partnership with The Smiley Company. The partnership will create an array of digital entertainment content to gamify their brands including SmileyWorld and SW by SmileyWorld and engage with fans through Azerion’s distribution network.
People of Play
Grom Social Enterprises’ Curiosity Ink Media has hired former Nickelodeon and Warner Bros. Animation writer Dustin Ellis to oversee kids content development, starting with two new animated series. Ellis will write and develop Aloha Hoku, about a Hawaiian girl’s adventures with a magical ukulele; and Laugh on Lorp (working title), a concept he created with comedian Maz Jobrani that features a crew of aliens who accidentally...
Cyber Group Studios — the company behind Giganotosaurus — promoted Rapaëlle Mathieu to EVP. Mathieu formerly held the senior vice president sales, digital and acquisitions position at Cyber Group Studios. “As the company is now developing into an international group comprised of many talented companies and executives worldwide, I am very pleased to have Raphaëlle take more responsibilities....
Snorble Appoints Thomas Chan as VP of Software Engineering and Platforms. In his new role, Chan will develop the company’s flagship product, Snorble, to help parents establish healthy habits and bedtime routines for their children. He will also oversee the entire Snorble infrastructure including the application programming interfaces (APIs), software, the mobile app, and the Snorble Experience Engine.
“Power Kid Podcast,” host Phil Albritton welcomes Kids Industries CEO and Co-Founder Gary Pope. Pope leads a team of researchers, strategists, creatives, and developers that work to help toy, entertainment, and consumer products companies better connect with families around the world. Kids Industries has served a variety of companies and brands over the past 20 years, including Mattel, Playmobil, WWE, Disney...
A new Disney Little Golden Book is on its way! Santa Stops at Disneyland is a labor of love for its author, Ethan Reed. In its about the author section on Amazon, it states that Reed has been working on this book for his son for 15 years for his oldest son’s first Christmas. Additionally, Ethan Reed is currently a toy designer and a former Walt Disney Company Imagineer.
Marisela Escobedo has left NBCUniversal to join Moonbug Entertainment as its first senior territory manager for Latin America. In this newly created role, she will manage the licensing business of Moonbug IPs including Blippi, CoComelon and Little Baby Bum. Based in the LA office, Escobedo joined the company on March 23, coming off a stint as senior manager of consumer products and regional fast-moving consumer goods...
Paramount Pictures COO Andrew Gumpert is adding oversight of Nickelodeon Studios to his remit. He is now COO of Paramount Pictures & Nickelodeon Studios, still reporting to the division’s CEO, Brian Robbins. Since joining Paramount Pictures as COO in 2017, Gumpert has overseen business, operations and strategic planning for brands such as Sonic, Transformers and Star Trek.
Josh Wardle Explains Why He Sold Wordle. You've got six chances to guess why. As with any popular game, it soon gets copied in a bid to make some quick cash. Wordle was no exception, with numerous clones appearing on app stores complete with ads or in-game purchases attached. Wardle was faced with responding, "and so selling to the NY Times was a way for me to walk away from that. I didn't want to be paying a lawyer...
Canadian Musician Grimes Reveals 'Intergalactic Children’s Metaverse Book' at Avalanche Summit. Grimes’ children’s metaverse book project is part of a $100 million initiative started by the Avalanche Foundation and the non-fungible token (NFT) launchpad OP3N. “When I first got into Web3, this was the kind of project I was hoping to see,” Grimes told the audience.
Appointments and restructure bolster Rubies’ EMEA team. Following a change of role for Georges Ghougassian, who is now director of Licensing & Brands, Rubies has appointed Caroline Masson to lead the EMEA Brand & Marketing initiative. Caroline has spent the last five years at IMC France as senior marketing manager and was previously senior marketing manager at Rubies France, having gained experience in sales and marketing...
***The above posted after March 25th***
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.
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...
Kickstarter CEO Aziz Hasan to step down in April. Kickstarter CEO Aziz Hasan is stepping down after three years. The outgoing chief exec will be replaced by COO Sean Leow in an interim capacity while the board of directors searches for a permanent successor. Hasan intends to remain at the company as an advisor over the next "several months" after working his final day as CEO on April 4, 2022.
Amscan announces new CEO and first executive chairman. Amscan International has announced its chief executive officer, Gary Panons, will become the company’s first executive chairman and be succeeded by current chief financial officer and chief operating officer, Joe Hennigan, on April 1, 2022.
Companies and Brands
UK Independent board game company Big Potato Games has launched a limited edition batch of potato plushies for the first time, with 100% of funds going to support the children of Ukraine. The exclusive plushies are available to buy from bigpotato.co.uk for £10 with money raised donated to the charity Children’s Town Ukraine. Based in Ukraine, this vital charity has been supporting vulnerable children, orphans...
Hunter Price continues to build on its strategic partnership with toy manufacturer Bildo by adding Play-Doh Blocks to its distribution deal, in conjunction with Hasbro. The building blocks are a new concept to the market, offering added play value by combining building and extrusion tools with the world-renowned Play-Doh compound.
Marshall Retail Group — a WHSmith company — opened a new concept called sodoPOP in collaboration with Funko and Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP). The new store is stocked with some of Funko’s signature brands of toys, collectibles, and fashion accessories, including Pop! Vinyl figures, Paka Paka, Loungefly, and more.
The new CG-animated Transformers: EarthSpark series is currently in the works, and it’s co-produced by Nickelodeon and Hasbro’s EntertainmentOne (eOne). eOne describes the show as an “action-comedy” series that will introduce a new generation of Transformers robots, specifically the first Transformers robots who are born on planet Earth. Together, they will forge a bond with the human family who welcomes...
Los Angeles Adventuretown Toy Emporium is giving 50% of sales of Ukrainian toys to support three Ukrainian toy brands. When Russia invaded Ukraine, Annamarie von Firley, President of Adventuretown, reached out to the U.S. distributor of the three Ukrainian brands that she has been carrying to find out how Adventuretown could help.
KidQuest Game Inspires Higher Emotional and Mental Well-Being, Invites Kids to Discover Life Lessons through Storytelling. Created by a mother and son entrepreneurial team, accomplished author Ariane de Bonvoisin and 7 year-old Everest van der Zwan, KidQuest is filled with 100 questions that prompt engaging and surprising interactions, such as "When you were a kid, what did you love doing with your grandparents?"...
Playmobil’s successful collaboration with the luxury car brand Porsche continues into 2022 with the launch of the new Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7 model. This classic 1972 sports car, beloved for its streamlined looks, unique lines and racing performance, has been presented in toy form by Playmobil in its stunning prototype yellow, making it a true collector’s item for all car lovers.
MGA Entertainment reveals new Mermaze Mermaidz Colour Change dolls. The fashion doll range will be on shelves from May and features character backstories via entertainment content. An all-new line of fashion dolls is aiming to make a splash at retailers, featuring an under water theme with colour change and water play trends.
HEXBUG launches BattleBots toys in the UK HEXBUG is celebrating its ongoing partnership with BattleBots by introducing an exciting new line of micro fighting machines, inspired by the largest professional robot fighting TV series. Fans of the show can now bring their BattleBots experience home by purchasing their own miniature HEXBUG BattleBot robots along with their interchangeable accessories on Hexbug.com.
Smiffys has announced a major new collection launching for Halloween 2022, Universal Monsters. The Universal Monsters range includes some of the most iconic characters from classic horror films of the last century. These frightening creatures – including Dracula, Frankenstein and The Wolf Man – have stood the test of time and continue to haunt audiences to this day.
Brainstorm launches spring marketing campaign. Aqua Dragons, StikBots and Klikbots will all feature in the campaign across TV and digital media. Brainstorm is supporting key distribution lines with TV and digital marketing campaigns running throughout April, including ads for its popular Aqua Dragons brand.
Little Partners, makers of the Original Learning Tower, has partnered with the Arbor Day Foundation to plant approximately 5,000 trees in advance of the 150th Arbor Day natl holiday on April 29. The Arbor Day Foundation is the largest member nonprofit organization dedicated to planting trees. Since its inception 50 yrs ago, the Foundation has helped to plant and distribute almost 500 mill trees in more than 50 countries.
Waboba Launches ‘Rewild’ Eco-Friendly Ball Collection. The old saying – “Eat the football!” – comes to mind with the news that Waboba has introduced its Rewild collection of footballs, soccer balls and volley balls, all made from the jute plant and rubber tree. “No, we aren’t recommending that anyone should actually think they’re edible,” stated Jordan Sullivan, Waboba’s Director of Fun, “but we are pleased...
Disney+ will launch in 42 countries and 11 territories this summer, including South Africa, Turkey, Poland, Hungary and the Middle East, and now it has unveiled the exact launch dates and pricing. The Walt Disney streaming service on Tuesday unveiled May 18 as its start date in South Africa and June 16 as its launch date in Israel, with other countries getting it on June 8 or June 14, respectively.
Sunny Bunnies production relocates from Belarus to Poland. The popular preschool toon's creative team is now fully operational at new Warsaw-based prodco Animation Café, which has also acquired the Sunny Bunnies IP. Animation Café has also purchased the Sunny Bunnies IP for an undisclosed amount and is now its sole owner and producer, although UK-based Media I.M. continues to hold exclusive commercial rights...
Netflix & ACTF launch incubator for kids series concepts. Beginning on April 30, eligible Aussie producers, prodcos and creators can submit original tween live-action concepts and preschool animated projects that celebrate Australia's uniqueness. More specific hooks for live-action submissions could include mythical creatures, lore or outdoor survival, while preschool projects have the option to include repeatable songs...
Moose Toys mixes things up at Australian Toy Association’s product awards. The company was the major winner at this year’s awards, taking home the top spot in an impressive six categories. Paul Solomon, CEO at Moose Toys, took to LinkedIn to say: “As an Aussie company the Australian Toy Awards are very close to our heart. Last night our incredible team were awarded six wins including the coveted Toy of the Year...
Spin Master’s Tech Deck sponsors major skateboarding championships. Taking place over two weekends next month, the 2022 Skateboard GB x Habito National Championships has announced that the fingerboarding brand Tech Deck will be one of the official sponsors of the national competition. Spin Master’s Tech Deck is the global leader in fingerboarding, creating working replicas of skateboards that enthusiasts ‘ride’...
AT&T And WarnerMedia Launch New Digital Learning Platform. AT&T is expanding its ongoing learning initiative with a new platform created in partnership with WarnerMedia that pairs characters from popular TV shows and movies with learning material. Mattel and Hasbro launched a similar online learning hub in 2020 that provided resources and games to help kids learning at home during the pandemic.
Sesame Workshop is debuting a new Muppet named Ameera to bring more visibility to two underrepresented communities—kids living with disabilities and displaced children from conflict zones around the world. Ameera is a “witty, inquisitive” eight-year-old girl who uses forearm crutches to move around and sometimes a wheelchair as a result of a spinal cord injury. She will be introduced in April...
Halilit’s Ukranian supplier of Dodo puzzles looks to the future. Dobra Firma, which manufactures Halilit’s range of Dodo puzzles and has been caught up in the conflict in Ukraine, issues an update. The games and puzzles manufacturer which is based in Kharkiv, Ukraine, has been able to secure safe passage of its stock over to the company’s warehouse in Poland and is currently making the difficult journey as regularly as...
Robo Force is back, in all its former ‘80s glory! After launching its toy division last month, studio Nacelle Co. — the studio behind Netflix‘s The Toys That Made Us, The Movies That Made Us, and A Toy Store Near You — has unveiled the first wave of Toys in its Robo Force collectible action figure line.
***The above posted after March 25th***
Fisher-Price and Family Action have joined forces to launch a year-long initiative. This will comprise a range of activities and resources focused on supporting young children and their parents and carers with early childhood development (ECD) and reaching key milestones that may have been impacted during the pandemic. It will focus on how caregivers can incorporate simple techniques through play in the home...
Belgian toy brand Lilliputiens is bringing its much-loved range to the British market this spring. Reimagining children’s favourite toys and games, the brand prides itself on its core beliefs that every toy should be “smart, sparkling, innovative and support bonding for every child”. New to John Lewis this spring are the engaging My First Farm, which aims to teach little ones all about farm life in a truly charming way, and Noah’s...
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.
PSI Signs Magpie, Andrews McMeel, Archon, more. Publisher Services, Inc. has signed seven companies, including Magpie Games, Andrews McMeel Publishing, and Archon Studio for sales and fulfillment services, the company announced. PSI helps publishers place their products in the hobby, specialty retail, and mass channels. The companies are: Magpie Games, Andrews McMeel Publishing, Archon Studio, Awkward Games...
Elenco Partners with Deloitte to power up STEM education. Elenco Electronics, creator of the Snap Circuits brand, has partnered with Deloitte and Wichita State University to sponsor The Smart Factory in Wichita and promote STEM education. The Smart Factory, an Industry 4.0 immersive experience center, explores innovative capabilities with a fully operational production line and experiential labs.
Games Workshop reveals 'Warhammer Age Of Sigmar' Realmscape set at Adepticon 2022. Games Workshop revealed Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Thondian Strongpoint, a new Realmscape boxed set, for release in 2022. The new boxed set features the Krondspine Incarnate of Ghur, a savage apparition created in the wake of Alarielle's Rite of Life.
Disguise takes to the road to show ranges in Europe. Following the cancellation of Nuremberg Toy Fair, Disguise will reach customers by visiting selected locations to present its latest portfolio. The global costume company, has kicked off a tour of Europe with shows in Benidorm, Spain and Warsaw, Poland. Disguise is exhibiting a fantastic portfolio of licences and properties, from the bestselling Mario, Minecraft, My Little Pony...
Marvel Legends Retro 375 Collection Wave 6 now available to pre-order. Hasbro has unveiled Wave 6 of its Kenner-inspired Marvel Legends Retro 375 Collection action figures now available for pre-order at Entertainment Earth. Kenner made its mark in the 1960s producing classic toys such as the Easy-Bake Oven and the Spirograph.
Hachette Boardgames will release 'Northgard: Uncharted Lands'. Hachette Boardgames will release Northgard: Uncharted Lands, a new board game by Studio H based on Shiro Unlimited's popular video game, into retail in August 2022. This game captures the action of the real-time strategy video game where players control a clan of Vikings looking to conquer land in a newfound continent.
Lucky Duck announces 'Pocket Detective: Season 1'. Lucky Duck Games announced Pocket Detective: Season 1, a new crime-solving pocket game by Lavka Games, which will release in Q3 2022. Pocket Detective: Season 1 includes three separate card games. In these games, players talk to witnesses and examine scenes to provide enough clues to solve a crime.
Van Ryder, Lucky Duck partner for 'Dark Quarter'. Van Ryder Games and Lucky Duck Games have partnered to produce The Dark Quarter, an app-driven game of supernatural mystery set in 1980s New Orleans, releasing later this year. In the game, the players become investigators for the Beaumont Agency, working together to solve mysteries.
Give and receive the fuzziest of hugs with My Fuzzy Friends. Designed for kids ages 4 and up, the new koala and kitten editions to Skyrocket’s My Fuzzy Friends line make the perfect bedtime pals. These furry animals are always up for a hang: In fact, they actually cling to kids with their extra long arms and legs!
Smuggle and swashbuckle across the high seas with 'Ahoy'. Leder Games announced Ahoy, a new privateer area control game, which will hit retail in late 2022. In Ahoy, players take control of either the Bluefin Squadron, the Mollusk Union, or the Smugglers. The Bluefin Squadron and the Mollusk Union are two groups of salty sea creatures that are battling for control of the regions on the board and attempt to deliver...
Ares offers 'Shadow Planet' to trade. Ares Games will be releasing the English language version of Galakta Games’ retro sci-fi board game The Shadow Planet into the trade this July. The Shadow Planet: The Board Game is based on the Italian graphic novel of the same game by Blasteroid Bros., in turn inspired by classic science fiction films like Forbidden Planet and The Thing.
Bark introduces new toy and apparel collections at Target. Bark is always bringing out new toys and apparel for our furry friends and their newest collections will be even more accessible as it’s available at Target. The new collections include the Secrets of the Rainfurrest dog toy collection and the Home Spring apparel collection.
Brainstorm on course to achieve net zero. STEM toy specialist Brainstorm is working towards a net-zero target for the end of 2022. Retailers will have already seen a move into plastic-free packaging at the recent Toy Fair and the company is committed to improving sustainability and recyclability across all products.
'Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG' harnesses the 'Power of the Elements'. Konami Digital Entertainment revealed Power of the Elements, a new expansion for Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG, which will release on August 5, 2022. This new 100-card set allows players to unearth multiple brand-new strategies that revolve around summoning Elemental HERO fusion monsters.
Bandai releasing 'One Piece Card Game' in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the original manga! To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the popular Japanese manga series One Piece from Weekly Shonen Jump, BANDAI will release the One Piece Card Game, a super exciting trading card game that allows players to immerse themselves in the world of One Piece.
Schleich launches collectable mystery eggs. Following the success of its collectable offering over the past two years, Schleich has further strengthened its portfolio within the sector beyond the more traditional blind bags with its first range of mystery collectable eggs, featuring cute baby animals. Part of the magical world of BAYALA, there are six Hatching Baby Dragons in blue colored eggs and six Hatching Winged...
Melissa & Doug celebrates Global Recycling Day with new initiatives. Melissa & Doug is taking more steps toward its commitment to Project Restore. To celebrate Global Recycling Day, the toy company has joined the Sustainable Packaging Coalition and How2Recycle, a membership-based collaborative that supports making packaging more sustainable.
Expand Your Mind launches ‘Ultra-Power Battle’ game. The new Ultra Power Battle Game from Expand Your Mind might be the best flippin’ game of the year! The new game turns anywhere and everywhere into a battle ground competition with its new collectible, trading token-flippin strategic battle game play.
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.
An official NFL game is coming to Meta Quest and PSVR. The National Football League is stepping into virtual reality with the announcement of a new official VR game. It will be developed in partnership with sports technology company StatusPro, which makes use of player data for an AR training tool already used by NFL teams.
DeepWell and Good Game Jam to host inaugural Mental Health Game Jam. Global Game Jam has partnered with DeepWell Digital Therapeutics (DTx), the new publisher and developer established by Devolver Digital co-founder Mike Wilson, to host the first annual Mental Health Game Jam. Both Global Game Jam and DTx want to encourage developers to create games that benefit mental wellness...
EA launches educational partnerships to teach STEAM skills in UK schools. EA has launched two new educational partnerships in the UK to help young people learn STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) skills. The U.S. publisher has linked up with not-for-profit organization Digital Schoolhouse and education tech company EVERFI to help 150 primary and secondary schools in the UK improve...
The "Stand with Ukraine" charity Humble Bundle has already raised over $10 million. Humble's massive "Stand with Ukraine" charity bundle has raised over $10 million for humanitarian organizations working to help those affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and it still has four days left to run.
Epic pledges Fortnite revenue in support of Ukraine. Epic Games will donate all proceeds from Fortnite over the coming weeks to humanitarian charities helping those affected by the war in Ukraine. In a blog post, the company said it wants to "get more aid to the people of Ukraine" by donating Fortnite revenue earned between March 20, 2022, and April 3, 2022.
Safety and Counterfeiting
More than 5 million potentially dangerous toys seized in 21 countries. The seizures made during the operation include counterfeit and illegal puzzle games, video games and related characters, board and card games, dolls and puppets from famous TV series, bricks for children and clothing and accessories from famous brands.
'IMMEDIATELY STOP USING': Large recall of toys sold at Winners, HomeSense and Marshalls triggers Health Canada warning to shoppers after multiple incidents reported. A large recall involving more than 2,300 units of a certain toy products sold at stores across Canada is impacting Winners, HomeSense and Marshalls stores, according to TJX companies.
Go back to solid frisbees, pleads nature group as ringed toys wreak havoc on local seals. A local wildlife group has asked dog owners and parents to do away with ring frisbees after a spate of seal injuries. Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust (CSGRT) documented, in the past few years, multiple times where the toys have become stuck around the necks of seals.
CARU requires toy company to modify ads to show limited scope of playsets, adult assembly required, and real toy play. In a rare “some assembly required” and “parts not included” decision, the Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU), a division of BBB National Programs, scrutinized advertising for Micro Machine toys.
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...
Associations, Shows, Awards, Events, and Festivals
People of Play has announced its first series of quarterly educational webinars targeting industry marketing and PR pros. The first session will be April 21st from 1pmET -4pmET; the session will kick-off with a keynote speaker (TBA) followed by break-out sessions on topics requested by attendees. Topics have been vetted from both agency and brand view point. The session will end with networking in the virtual POP Pub.
WONDERCON 2022: ALL THE DETAILS AND SHOW FLOOR HIGHLIGHTS. This weekend, collectors, geeks, and cosplayers around the world will flock to Anaheim, California, for Comic-Con Intl’s slightly smaller — but certainly no less epic — comic convention, WonderCon. For the first time since 2019, the event will be taking place in-person at the Anaheim Convention Center from April 1-3, with more than 400 exhibitors lined up.
Toy Fair New York will become a fall event taking place from Saturday, Sept. 30, to Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023. The Toy Association entered into a 3-year commitment with the Javits Center to host the reimagined event beginning next year and through 2025. As previously reported exclusively at the Toy Book, the move to fall comes following extensive research into the needs of the industry.
GAMA EXPO, TOY FAIR NEW YORK SHIFT DATES Toy Fair Shifts Seasons, GAMA Expo Moves Later. The GAMA Expo move is not as major. GAMA Expo will be held April 24-27, 2023; the April dates are about six weeks later than the typical early to mid-March dates the show has had for years. This date move is temporary, and was made as a result of the show’s cancellation in 2021.
Speakers confirmed for European Brand & Licensing Innovation Summit Iconic British retail brands Liberty and Sainsbury’s, and global entertainment powerhouse Hasbro, are just three of the speakers confirmed for the second European Brand & Licensing Innovation Summit (B&LIS), taking place 21 June at the Royal Geographical Society in London.
2022 Australian Toy Association Award Winners. The ATA's annual Awards Ceremony, proudly sponsored by Hasbro Australia was live-streamed last night on the Toy Fair Digital Platform. The Awards celebrate the people, products and licenses that strengthen the industry in Australia.
Toymaster launches spring catalogue and ‘Give a Toy for Easter’ campaign. Toymaster, the independent toy buying group, has just launched its latest spring/summer catalogue. One of the many benefits of Toymaster membership, the twice-yearly catalogues offer specialist indie retailers another way to engage with their communities.
***The above posted after March 25th***
Licensing International and The Insights Family today announced a multi-year partnership that will launch a series of collaborative initiatives to help inform the licensing industry as well as provide Licensing International members with exclusive content focused on identifying consumer behaviour within the “Kid Economy.” The Insights Family, a global leader in kids, parents, and family market research and intelligence...
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...
Nominations now open for Mojo Nation’s Play Creators Awards 2022. Nominations are now open for the Play Creators Awards, Mojo Nation’s annual event celebrating the best in toy and game design. This year’s Play Creators Awards will take place on Tuesday, 6 September at the Union Ale House within London’s Twickenham Stadium.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Championship Series returns to in-person events in April. The first in-person Yu-Gi-Oh! Championship Series event is scheduled for April 9-10 at the Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. The winner will receive a Ultra Rare Duel Link Dragon and the Duel Dragon card in addition to the YCS Champion trophy.
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.
R.I.P. Marcus King. ICv2 columnist, GAMA officer, and longtime game and comic retailer Marcus King passed away Tuesday, March 22, following heart surgery, according to numerous Facebook posts by friends. King’s own final Facebook post, on Sunday afternoon, shared a selfie from his hospital bed and revealed he was going to have heart bypass surgery on Monday. He’d had a heart attack, and was also suffering from Covid and pneumonia.
"This will be my last update with my old heart in bad shape,” he wrote. “In the morning, I am having either a triple or quadruple bypass, they’re just not sure. I will probably post again in three or four days, hopefully. Thanks for being my friend.”
King was a columnist for ICv2 from 2010 to 2017, sharing the lessons he’d learned in his 30+ years as a retailer. "Marcus was an original thinker, and he contributed many great columns to ICv2, sharing lessons he’d learned in decades in the business, and reflections on his life as a retailer," ICv2 CEO Milton Griepp said of King. "He had a warm heart, a sense of humor, and a generous spirit. He will be missed."
King began his retailing career in 1986, when he opened his first store in Anchorage, Alaska. He opened Titan Games in Battle Creek, Michigan, in 1994, and a second store in Kalamazoo in 2009 (see "View from the Game Store – Defining Success"). Although he he was best known as a retailer of tabletop games, he also handled (and wrote about) comics, collectible video games, and other products of interest to his customers.
In 2011, King sold his Michigan stores and moved to Kentucky, where he continued to retail, including a stint managing a retail store for online retailer Troll and Toad, and most recently at Main Street Games & Comics in London, Kentucky.
King was also active in GAMA for many years, including as board member and Vice President beginning in 2005, as a board member in the Retailer Division, and as a speaker at GAMA events.
King was passionate about retailing, constantly experimenting and sharing what he learned with fellow retailers in his column, posts on other sites, and on social media. He was one of an early generation of game and comic retailers who pushed the business forward and unselfishly helped to grow the pie for everyone. His columns hold up: here’s a list.
Before he passed away, King had set up a Facebook fundraiser to help with expenses, money that will doubtless be needed by his family. Our condolences to his family and friends.
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News Flash: Lord of the Rings Exit Game Announced, Mountains Out Of Molehills Released
A Lord of the Rings-themed Exit game has been announced, The Op has released a new board game, and Fluxx Remixx is now out.
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