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Welcome to Your Weekly News Brief!

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Happy Bloomin' Friday! 

Yesterday was Barbie's Birthday! Our Bloom Report Columnist Nancy Zwiers shares interesting information about Barbie’s role in the collectibles market. When I was a child, Barbie was quite young herself, and she hadn’t yet moved into her Dream House and expanded her wardrobe. I made many outfits for my Barbie and though my homemade Barbie clothes were more mid-America than Malibu, I loved creating fashions for her and imagining her in endless stories and adventures.

Also taking place this week was NY PlayDate and the Melbourne Toy Fair. I did not attend either, but will post here and in the Bloom Report newsfeed as soon as we debrief our reporters! 

​Thank you for reading the Bloom Report. If you can't wait for the news to arrive each Friday, check out the Bloom Report 24/7 News Feed!


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Columnist - Nancy Zwiers

A Case History: How We Drove Explosive Growth in the Barbie Adult Collector Business

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When I joined the Barbie brand in 1992, I was responsible for the doll business.  Mattel’s adult collector segment was small, chugging along at about $6M annually alongside a thriving secondary market of vintage barbie dolls.  Our product lines consisted of Dolls of the World and Military sold to girls and adults, and high-priced porcelain replicas of vintage Barbie dolls sold to adults.


Read on for insights on how we grew the business 29-fold(!) in the four years I led the business, earning net operating profit north of 30%.  This wouldn’t have happened without the talent and hard work of the marketing team --Anne Parducci and Suzanne Schlundt--and a host of other contributors across all departments.

Quantifying A Big Opportunity Got the Ball Rolling 

At this time, large collectible baby dolls were just taking off on Home Shopping Network, QVC, and direct-to-consumer businesses. Doll shops were a defined segment in the specialty retail channel.


Fully aware of how impassioned little girls were about Barbie, I hypothesized that many one-time girls—now adults—may have felt equally in love with Barbie and might be interested in collector dolls.  We did the math and quantified the opportunity:  28 million women between the ages of 34-54 grew up playing with Barbie; if we could tap just a small fraction, we could grow the business well beyond $6M.


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Creative Fold's Edoardo Kulp

Live What You Love

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(Mary) Hi Edoardo! Every time I visit our local italian restaurant, I remember running into you there last fall - the world is a small place! Please share with our readers your roles and responsibilities in our industry?

I am currently the Director of Business Development and co-owner of Creative Fold, a creative and product development agency primarily in the Toy and Game area.


What is your claim to fame in the industry?

“Claim to Fame” is a bit of hyperbole. But if there is one thing I can state is my claim to fame, it’s the development and launch of Ken Gruhl’s and Quentin Weir’s amazing game, Happy Salmon. I was with North Star Games (NSG), and at the 2015 Toy Fair, Ken and Quentin showed us Happy Salmon. Nick Bentley, who was also at NSG (now at Underdog Games) insisted we grab it. Of course, the game was just a prototype at the time, and NSG gave me the responsibility to make it into a sellable game. The gameplay itself was already perfect, but we had to figure out how to package it in a way that would make it stand out. Should we put it in a box, a plush package, or perhaps…a salmon! I created a number of prototypes using many neoprene laptop cases, found a graphic designer, located an excellent manufacturer, and voilà, a Happy Salmon was born. Initially, the game didn't sell very well because people didn't understand what it was all about. But as soon as a retailer demonstrated it, it was, well, hook, line, and sinker. Instant sale. Even hardcore gamers loved the game. It went on to win ASTRA’s Best Toys for Kids, Origin’s Best Family Game and was nominated for a TOTY. Happy Salmon was the genesis of NSG’s Happy Planet line of games which I also had the pleasure to developed. The line included another TOTY nominee and Gruhl/Weir brainchild, Monster Match, and the German import Dirty Pig (Kosmos’ popular Drecksau). It was so much fun working on these games and probably something I would call a highlight of my career.     


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All in the Family - The Ullman Family! 

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Anne, Al, Jack and Don at the Chicago Toy & Game Fair

There are not many multi-generation inventor families, but if there were, the Ullman family would still be at the top of the list. I’ve had the good fortune of getting to know Don and Anne over the years as well as their boys, Al and Jack. Don has great stories (to start, ask him about owning an Italian Ice Shop and an Auto Detailing Shop) and has a playful soul… if you look closely, you’ll see the twinkle in his eyes that matches his mischievous grin. Enjoy reading about the Ullmans!

Don, how did you and your family first enter the toy industry? 

I was the first one in my family to enter the toy industry. My father was an engineer, and my mother was a crystallographer, both very scientific. But they did recognize and understand the value of play, so we played lots of games and spent lots of time creating fun outdoor experiences. I had an idea for a board game when I was in my early 20’s and made a very crude prototype but didn’t’ know where to go with it. Somehow, I managed to get in touch with a famous New York agent and got bullied into telling him about the idea on the phone. He told me what a lousy idea it was and that I shouldn’t waste any of my time on it – welcome to the industry! But, then in the early 1990’s a friend of mine had an idea for a board game, raised money, and self-published it. He brought it to toy fair and, since he knew I was interested, invited me along. Anyone who has been to NYTF for the first time knows what an eye-opening experience it is; I was hooked. READ MORE...

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Cartoon of the Week and Calling all Lexophiles! 

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PR Maven Aaron Gessner posted this cartoon for all you dog lovers! Do you have a cartoon or a joke to share with your colleagues? Send it to me at! Can't wait to see what you've got! 


Jerry Cleary suggested we also post amusing phrases for you Lexophiles - great idea! Here is the first:

A bicycle can't stand alone; it's just two tired.

I know there are a lot of you out there with some you want to share (looking at you, Boaz Coster). Just send them to me! 

Financial and Legal

Toys 'R' Us shut its store at a shopping mall in Hyderabad within 24 hours of opening it due to some legal issues, sources said. The over 4,000 square feet store was opened in Sarath City Capital mall on March 11 but closed the next day. The mall owners reportedly pulled the plug on Toys 'R' Us due to a no-compete clause with another global toy retailer, which already had a store in the same mall.


Buffalo Games and EastPoint Sports have merged. In a deal that closed on Jan. 31, EastPoint Sports merged with and into Buffalo Holding Corp., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Buffalo Games. The merger combines Buffalo Games’ expertise in the games and puzzles category with EastPoint Sports’ extensive offerings in the realm of game room products, outdoor tailgate games, and lawn games.


Popular kids' toy store Camp is begging customers for cash because its money is tied up in SVB. It's one of thousands of startups that now faces uncertainty. Experiential toy store Camp is caught up in the ripple effects of Silicon Valley Bank's collapse. CEO Ben Kaufman said all of the company's cash was in the bank, so it's having a 40% off sale with the promo code "BANKRUN."


***The above was posted after March 10th***


The merger between Information Resources Inc. (IRI) and The NPD Group (NPD) has spawned a new brand and corporate identity to carry the combined forces into the future: Circana. As Circana, that will continue as the company positions itself as “the leading advisor on the complexity of consumer behavior.”


Breaking News: German retailer ceases trading. The Mytoys headquarters in Berlin will close as well as 19 stores by February 2024, affecting around 800 employees in total. The retailer forms a substantial percentage of the German toy market – some have estimated up to 10%, although this figure is unconfirmed.

Rebel Girls has raised US$8 million in its second funding round to continue its mission to build a global content brand based on female empowerment. Publishing giant Penguin Random House led the round, rallying investments from Common Sense Growth CEOs Asma Ishaq, Jenny Zhu and Jocelyn Mangan; philanthropist Melissa Kushner; musician Joan Jett and her company Blackheart; and children’s entertainment...

Walt Disney Animation Studios production workers may be the next group to join one of the industry’s biggest unions. Seventy-eight Disney employees are working with The Animation Guild (TAG)/International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) 839 in a unionization effort to negotiate their first collective agreement. According to TAG, the group represents a “super-majority” of production workers...

Austrian court finds FIFA's in-game card packs violate gambling laws. The FIFA video game franchise has violated Austria's gambling laws, and it's fallen to Sony to pay the price. According to a translated post from German outlet Games Wirtschaft, the country's government recently found that the popular soccer title's in-game FUT packs (FIFA Ultimate Team) are considered a form of gambling. Per Austrian lawyer Urich Salberg...

U.S. rep could legislate to challenge game companies over online harassment. U.S. congresswoman Lori Trahan doesn't think game companies have been transparent enough about how they tackle online extremism within their player communities. As a result, Trahan is exploring "possible avenues for legislative actions" that could shine a light how extremism exists in online games, and how it can be tackled. 




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Financial Reporting


Films drive toy buzz for Jakks’ two-year run of growth. Although Jakks experienced a sales decline in Q4, 2022 closed with a happy ending for the toyco. Adjusted EBITDA for the full year was up by 55% compared to 2021. 


***The above posted after March 10***


The LEGO Group out-performs the toy market in 2022.

Spin Master Reports 2022 and Q4 2022 Financial Results

Pokémon sales soar to record breaking heights in Europe

Trends, Market Research, and State of the Industry

The Guardian (UK): Coming soon to a playground near you: the toys parents will be pestered for in 2023

Gen Zers aren’t the only TikTok addicts


***The above posted after March 10th***

Spin Master unveils 2023 toy trends, product lineup ahead of The Play Date in NYC. Spin Master just dropped the curtain on its 2023 product lineup. The global toy and kids’ entertainment company unveiled a new portfolio of products that spans six key trends. 


STATE OF THE INDUSTRY Q&A 2023: WORLD OF EPI. Dr. Lisa Williams, CEO at World of EPI, discusses the challenges of the past year, the big wins (a TOTY!), and what’s next for her growing company

STATE OF THE INDUSTRY Q&A 2023: SNICKELFRITZ TOYS. Heather Edwards, owner of Snickelfritz Toys in Vernon Hills, Illinois, discusses big hits, the challenges facing specialty retailers, and predictions for the future


STATE OF THE INDUSTRY Q&A 2023: CRAYOLA. Victoria Lozano, Executive Vice President, Marketing at Crayola, shares insight on changing play patterns, diversity, and location-based entertainment


STATE OF THE INDUSTRY Q&A 2023: MOOSE TOYS.  Belinda Gruebner, Chief Marketing Officer at Moose Toys, discusses the mainstream success of Magic Mixies, expansion into games, and how the company is gearing up for growth


STATE OF THE INDUSTRY Q&A 2023: LEARNING EXPRESS TOYS & GIFTS. Lauren Derse, the new CEO of Learning Express Toys & Gifts, discusses specialty retail trends, the rise of tweens, teens, and kidults, and the changing trade show landscape

STATE OF THE INDUSTRY Q&A 2023: JUST PLAY. Sunny Lauridsen, Senior Vice President of Brand Strategy and Licensing at Just Play discusses the company’s new acquisitions and the importance of refreshing Sesame Street in the preschool aisle


STATE OF THE INDUSTRY Q&A 2023: MASTERMIND TOYS. Sarah Jordan, CEO of Mastermind Toys, discusses the expansion of private label offerings, books, and more 


STATE OF THE INDUSTRY Q&A 2023: GENNCOMM IMAGENNATION: Genna Rosenberg, CEO & Chief Ideator at GennComm ImaGENNation discusses strategies for the months ahead, the challenges and opportunities facing smaller toy companies, and predictions for the future 

Toy Association unveils top toy trends of 2023. This year's biggest trends in toys, play, and kids' entertainment strike a balance between turning back to classic play and leaning into new platforms, technologies, and consumer spending habits to drive innovation across the toy space.


The core trends shaping doll play. To coincide with the launch of Mermaid Ariel, a new doll from Mattel, License Global speaks to Lisa McKnight, EVP, global head of Barbie and dolls, Mattel and Claire Terry, SVP, consumer products, games and publishing, Disney EMEA...

State of the Industry Q&A 2023: Just Play. Sunny Lauridsen, Senior Vice President of Brand Strategy and Licensing at Just Play discusses the company’s new acquisitions and the importance of refreshing Sesame Street in the preschool aisle


State of the Industry Q&A 2023: Asmodee U.S. Julien Sharp, General Manager & Country Manager, U.S., Asmodee, discusses the state of the gaming business, the increase in licensed titles, and tips for specialty retailers 


State of the Industry Q&A 2023: Mattel. Roberto Stanichi, Senior Vice President, Hot Wheels & Global Head of Vehicles at Mattel, shares insight on Hot Wheels, Matchbox, and significant growth for vehicles at retail

State of the Industry Q&A 2023: Super Impulse. Alan Dorfman, President of Super Impulse, discusses the growing world of miniature toys, the relaunch of Potato Head PopTaters, the Toy Fair shift, and more


State of the Industry Q&A 2023: ZURU. Nick Mowbray, CEO of ZURU, discusses innovation, growing market share in the blaster category, sustainability, and more


State of the Industry Q&A 2023: WowWee. Andrew Yanofsky, Head of Marketing & Operations at WowWee discusses the company’s return to robotics, the trade show shift, and the expansion of Hasbro Splash Games


State of the Industry Q&A 2023: Paramount Consumer Products & Experiences. Dion Vlachos, Executive Vice President, Licensing and Retail, Consumer Products & Experiences, Paramount, discusses the return of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and how Paramount+ is fueling a boom in new licensed toys and consumer products


State of the Industry Q&A 2023: Target. Nik Nayar, Senior Vice President of Hardlines at Target, discusses the retailer’s growing partnership with FAO Schwarz, the increased assortment geared toward kidults, and predictions for the future 


State of the Industry Q&A 2023: Midco Toy Planet, Midco Freak Treat, Toymaster UK. David Middleton, Managing Director of Midco Toys, Midco Toy Planet, and Freak Treat checks in with insights from the UK


State of the Industry Q&A 2023: Zag Play Toy Division. Helena Perheentupa, Senior Vice President of the new ZAG Play Toy Division, discusses the international growth of Miraculous — Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir, and the company’s expansion into toys and games through in-house creation and continued licensing efforts


State of the Industry Q&A 2023: Ravensburger North America. Stephane Madi, the new CEO of Ravensburger North America, discusses the need to keep gaming fresh and the company’s expansion into the booming world of customizable trading card games


State of the Industry Q&A 2023: Basic Fun!. Basic Fun! CEO Jay Foreman discusses cross-generational play, differentiation between mass and specialty retail, the importance of licensing, and trends for the future


State of the Industry Q&A 2023: Beacon Media Group. Donna MacNeil, President of Beacon Communications — part of Genius Brands International’s Beacon Media Group — discusses marketing trends in the toy and game space


State of the Industry Q&A 2023: Melissa & Doug. David Henderson, Chief Commercial Officer at Melissa & Doug, discusses sustainability, new product development, and the balance between specialty and mass retail

State of the Industry Q&A 2023: Camp. Sunipa Kreuzer, Chief Merchant at CAMP, discusses the big wins for the growing experiential retailer and what’s next


State of the Industry Q&A 2023: Carve Communications. Scott Goldberg, Managing Director and Executive Vice President at Carve Communications, discusses the big strategies in marketing for this year and how even older products can become hot again


State of the Industry Q&A 2023: Playmonster. Steve Adolph, the new CEO at PlayMonster, shares insight on acquisitions, licensing partnerships, and continued expansion in the gaming space


Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Awards Grows Audience By 40%, Ranks As Top Telecast Among Ages 2-14


In the Toy Kitchen, Tacos, Lumpia and Charcuterie Are on the Menu. Food toys have evolved to reflect more diverse cuisines and up-to-date eating habits.



FEBRUARY 2023 NPD BOOKSCAN - TOP 20 KIDS GRAPHIC NOVELS -  'InvestiGators' Cracks Top 10


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Stories, Comments, and Advice


'Tetris' review: This movie is far better than it has any right to be.  A Tetris movie sounds like a punchline about how Hollywood has truly run out of ideas. After a sea of sequels, remakes, and movie adaptations based on every kind of toy on the market, a film based on a video game in which you arrange blocks seems like it should be a bridge too far. It should be stupid. And frankly, this Tetris gets a tad stupid, albeit in a brilliant...

Bumblebees “Play,” First-of-Its Kind Study Finds: “It Is Mind-Blowing”. The team observed 45 bumblebees in an arena and gave them two pathway options to choose from: one unobstructed path led to a feeding zone, and the other opened to an area with wooden balls. Throughout the experiment, conducted over the course of 18 days, the bumblebees were observed choosing the latter pathway and rolling the wooden balls...

Green Games Guide. The Guide was written by game publishers, designers, and manufacturers – along with climate scientists and sustainability experts. It contains concrete, actionable steps that all of us can take, with clear guidelines for best practice. From the materials that make up a game to box size and packaging, there are far too many ways that our industry contributes to environmental destruction and wasteful...


And the Oscar Goes to…The Guy Who Inspired Big League Chew?  Todd Field is the Oscar-nominated director of ‘Tár.’ Major League Baseball players are more familiar with his shredded bubble gum. Before Steven Spielberg made “The Fabelmans,” he made “Jaws.” Before Todd Field made “Tár,” he made Big League Chew. And that makes Field the only person at the Academy Awards on Sunday who can say that a movie...

SXSW 2023 Review: ‘Black Barbie: A Documentary’ — An Uplifting Tale of Representation.  In the late 1950s, upon the recommendation of a relative, Mitchell got a job working on the assembly line at the Mattel toy company constructing Jack in the Box toys. Mattel co-owner Ruth Handler would visit the assembly line to get feedback from the workers on the various toys and bonded with Mitchell.


'Lego dentist' hopes to inspire creativity among pediatric patients. David Jadin, D.D.S., transforms waiting area into Lego lovers' paradise.  If someone had asked a young David Jadin, D.D.S., what he wanted to be when he grew up, he probably would have said a Lego designer.

While life may not have turned out exactly how he planned as a child, the pediatric dentist has found countless ways to bring his passion...

John Baulch, Toy World - Margins of error …it’s the Friday Blog! Our most-read story of the week concerned the closure of German retailer While this is partially testament to the global nature of our online readership (half of our online readers now come from outside the UK market), it also reflects how closely toy communities across the world are connected. The ripples from an event like this...

***the above posted after tBR started sending***

In Toy World's Letter from America column, Rick Derr discusses rounding out his core toy offering with new product that will appeal to his customer base. Rick looks at how focusing on the latest trends can help toy retailers diversify to maximise sales in store. One of these trends is tweens; the Learning Express team has recently tied up with new vendor partners and developed a cohesive plan to make a key statement in store.


Toy companies plan to reboot old favorites and lower prices to lure shoppers who are struggling to pay for necessities like food and electricity. At The Play Date trade show in Manhattan on Wednesday, toy makers touted the return of past hits like Fingerlings and the Littlest Pet Shop at discounted prices.


In a special Science & Nature feature, Toy World examines the role of toys in helping children to understand more about the world we live in. Acknowledging that children learn best when they are fully engaged with the topic, many suppliers in the Science & Nature space are now using technology to enhance play and fully immerse kids into a journey of discovery. Clementoni’s Paul Fogarty tells us that...


Results are in: Winners of Madison snowplow naming contest announced: Vehicles join Saltimus Prime among the ranks of Madison snow removal fleet. Others include: Snowbi Wan Kenobi, Scoopy Doo and more. (Editor's note: If you have toy themed favorites from your hometown, let us know and we'll publish them next week!)


Forever young: The rise of the 'kidults'. Toys are occasionally marketed to "children of all ages." In recent years, market research has shown the number of toy-buyers over 12 years old is growing. The demographic, sometimes called "kidults," now comprises a quarter of the annual toy retail market, and an impressive 60% of the market’s growth in the last year, according to market research company NPD Group.

Spotlight on Outdoor Toys. Toy World takes a look at what’s shaking up the Outdoor category for 2023 and speaks to a selection of major players about their latest (and greatest) launches. At this time of year, the British public are ready for summer. Happily, as anyone who took a stroll round the London and Nuremberg toy fairs earlier this year will know, there’s a whole heap of outdoor fun coming our way for 2023. 


Global supply chain predictions: Toying with the industry. On a global scale, there is no doubt that the toy industry fared better than most industries amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, our industry benefited strongly from the lockdowns, as parents desperate to occupy and entertain their offspring sought new toys and games to excite bored kids. 


Is LEGO's toy diversity 'woke'? There's nothing wrong with visibility for disabilities. We should all be more like LEGO. Colorful. Unbreakable. Able to easily click with others, even though we are all different shapes, colors and kinds. Who doesn't love LEGO? I sure do, unless I step on them, which doesn't happen often, although I expect the risk will grow with each new grandchild. 


John Baulch, Toy World - Reality check …it’s the Friday Blog! Starting with the biggest news of the week – in the world of toys at least – the Nuremberg Toy Fair has officially announced its dates for 2024. As predicted in the Blog a month ago (good to see the old crystal ball is still working), there is a slight change in the date configuration for next year, with the show shifting to a new Tuesday-Saturday format. 

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History and Nostalgia

The Origins of 7 Famous Toys. Year after year, the “it” gift that every parent scrambles to find changes, from Cabbage Patch Dolls to Beanie Babies and Game Boys to Tamagotchis. While many are soon forgotten, others have stood the test of time. Discover how breakthrough experiments, bold innovation, and even bizarre accidents created some enduringly popular classic toys.


***the above posted after March 10th***


Yabba Dabba Do! A Brief History of “The Flintstones”When The Flintstones premiered on ABC in 1960, NY Times critic Jack Gould derided the show as “an inked disaster” and Jackie Gleason considered suing, contending the primetime cartoon experiment was a Honeymooners copycat set in 10,000 BCE. Still, fans grew attached to Fred, Wilma, Barney, and Betty — at least until the introduction of The Great Gazoo...

On this day in history, March 9, 1959, Barbie makes fashionable world debut at New York Toy Fair. Enjoying a unique distinction as both a hugely successful child's toy and a global style icon, Barbie debuted on the world stage on this day in history, March 9, 1959. Lithe, buxom and 11½ inches tall, Barbie wore a zebra-striped black-and-white swimsuit plus over-sized sunglasses, with her long hair...


Little House on the Prairie from Parker Brothers. Released in 1978 by Parker Brothers, the Little House on the Prairie board game hurried players to be the first to move all family members away from danger to the safety of the Little House. The game was illustrated with the likenesses of the Ingalls family familiar to audiences of the Little House on the Prairie television series (1974-1983). 


Air Blaster from Wham-O. In 1963, Wham-O released Air Blaster, a toy gun that allowed children to “own the power of the wind.” Instead of firing pellets or suction darts, Air Blaster fired blasts of compressed air over 30 feet at intended targets. To achieve the extended range, the patented, space-age toy utilized a cocking lever and an internal rubber diaphragm to push air through its funnel-shaped barrel. 


Wham-O – 75 Years of Fun and Games. Iconic toy company Wham-O is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. The company founded by Richard Knerr and Arthur “Spud” Melin has sold more than 200 unique items during its history, many of which have had an indelible impact on the memories of children. While the Frisbee and Hula Hoop are National Toy Hall of Fame inductees, here I focus on five of the more obscure...

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Licensing and Entertainment 

Black Panther, Fisher-Price Vets Team Up For ‘Judge Kim’ Book Series. New children’s graphic novel series “Judge Kim” is the brainchild of veteran comic book, video game and toy industry experts who pooled their Black Panther, Fisher-Price and film industry knowledge to weave a story series featuring a little black girl who settles disputes in the town of Fairville. Kim, a diverse stand-out with her textured hair, chocolate skin...


Disney Junior and Hasbro’s entertainment studio, eOne, released the first-look trailer for the new kids TV series “Kiya & the Kimoja Heroes,” which premieres in the US on Disney Junior and Disney+ on March 22, 2023. An original concept by Robert Vargas, adapted from characters created by South Africans Marc Dey and Kelly Dillon, the original action-adventure animated series follows Kiya, a 7-yr-old African girl...


WildBrain has teamed up with designer Christian Cowan for a licensed Teletubbies fashion collaboration. The limited-edition collection features Teletubbies prints in 1990s inspired fashion poses on hoodies, t-shirts, denim, and more. Cowan has also created a pair of Teletubbies-themed knee-high boots in neon green plush fabric in honor of his favorite Teletubby, Dipsy.

Starting in 2024, families will be able to enter the playful world of Peppa Pig at North America’s second Peppa Pig Theme Park, set to open in the Dallas – Fort Worth area. Designed to be the ultimate theme park experience for little ones, this all-new standalone attraction will feature multiple rides, interactive attractions, themed playscapes and shows, all based on instantly recognizable locations from the globally...


***the above posted after tBR starting sending on March 10th***


Kingsmen Xperience entered into a strategic partnership with Good Vibrations, an operator of family experience centers. Under the new deal, Kingsmen Xperience will source intellectual property (IP) and real estate, handle licensor relations and provide production and marketing support for new projects, including efforts with Hasbro and Crayola.


University Games Collars Cat Kid License from MerryMakers. University Games today announced a new licensing deal negotiated by MerryMakers, Inc. for Dav Pilkey’s Cat Kid Comic Club, and an extension of the company’s license for the popular Dog Man property. UG gains the game category license for Cat Kid Comic Club, a spin off character from author Dav Pilkey’s phenomenally popular Dog Man book series.


The Barbie doll celebrates Dr Maggie’s achievements in making space and science fascinating and accessible to girls, and Barbie is donating Dr Maggie’s book, Am I Made of Stardust, to schools across the UK through partner charity Inspiring Girls. The Mattel brand is also expanding its Career range with a Marine Biologist doll this spring, joining STEM career Barbies including Doctor, Vet, Scientist and Astronaut.


Still exhibiting signs of reboot fever, Nickelodeon Studios is reviving 10-year-old superhero series The Thundermans with a new live-action film project in the works. It will join Zoey 102 (working title), new iCarly and Rugrats series and a live-action musical Snow Day movie for Paramount+ in the LA-based studio’s pipeline. Shooting on The Thunderman Returns is scheduled to start this April. 

As AI continues to take the industry by the storm, Genius Brands International is lining up a second project driven by the tech in as many months. The prodco is producing 26 one-minute shorts based on animated series Warren Buffet’s Secret Millionaires Club that will launch on its Kartoon Channel! AVOD platform, YouTube and other social media channels on May 15.

Indie children’s publisher Little Tiger and Banijay Media’s Tiger Aspect Kids & Family are joining forces to develop book-based animated and live-action content. Little Tiger books such as Karl Newsome’s I Really, Really Love You So offer great source material for Tiger Aspect, which tends to focus on strong characters, fun and emotional exploration, says Tom Beattie, the British studio’s managing director. 

NBC launches ‘Hot Wheels: Ultimate Challenge’NBC has announced plans to broadcast a 10-episode series called “Hot Wheels: Ultimate Challenge” that will task contestants with turning a nostalgic car from their past into a life-size Hot Wheels. Each episode will invite two Hot Wheels lovers to face off in creating a Hot Wheels showstopper that is inspired by pop culture touchstones and their personal stories.

Argentine footballer Lionel Messi is looking to score his next goal in the kids TV arena. Sony Music Entertainment (SME) has partnered with the iconic athlete to develop an as-yet-untitled animated series that will feature Messi as a young boy traveling through a video game and contending with escalating levels of obstacles and challenges. The overarching goal of the show is to impart sportsmanship lessons to kids...

Melissa Benoist (Girls on the Bus) is set to join the cast of Masters of the Universe: Revolution as Teela. After playing the Kryptonian superheroine, Kara Davers in the CW’s Supergirl, Benoist makes the jump into another pop culture franchise as she adds her voice to Kevin Smith’s follow-up to Masters of the Universe: Revelation. 

The Lumistella Co. is collaborating with HarperCollins Publishers to create a series of Elf on the Shelf books. The series will encompass 11 The Elf on the Shelf universe-themed titles set for release over the next 5 ys. In addition to the series, William Morrow Cookbooks will publish a holiday-inspired cookbook in the Fall of 2024.  The Lumistella Co. created its iconic Elf on the Shelf in 2005 and since then has sold over 19.5...

Family Entertainment Live and Mattel announce 2023 expansion of “Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live Glow Party. To meet growing demand from fans and venues, Family Entertainment Live and Mattel announced a major expansion of the Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live Glow Party North American tour, coming in the second half of 2023. Following record breaking sales in 2022 and the beginning of 2023...

ZAG licensing partners Novabrink and Xalingo unveil first ‘Ghostforce’ products at the ABRIN Expo in Brazil. Global independent animation studio ZAG in conjunction with local licensing partners Novabrink and Xalingo have unveiled the first Ghostforce toy products at ABRIN in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the largest event in the toy sector across Latin America. ZAG is most well-known for mega hit global brand Miraculous...


BBC Studios announces new ‘Bluey’ products. BBC Studios Kids & Family, co-commissioner and global distributor for “Bluey,” has announced an expanded portfolio. Moose Toys has unveiled its supersized “Hammerbarn” playsets; Hunter Leisure (arts and crafts and outdoor products); Benson’s (cards and stationery); MJM (puzzles and games); VTech (interactive games); TOMY (bath toys); Headstart (ride-on toys); and...


Funko Games unveils new slate of Disney board games. Funko Games has revealed a new wave of Disney board games including Disney Animated, Disney Villains Sinister Spoons and Disney and Pixar’s “Cars” Launch 'N' Race. The games are set at arrive in the spring, in time to mark Disney’s 100-year anniversary. In the Disney Animated Game, players work together like the team at Walt Disney Animation Studios...

Playmates Toys announce action figures for upcoming ‘TMNT’ film. Following the premiere of a teaser for “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem,” Playmates Toys revealed a sampling of its Ninja Turtles action figures, vehicles and role play toys based on the film due out late summer. The lineup of toys will be available for purchase in stores and online on June 25.


ZAG Heroez Miraculous movie dolls from Playmates and ZAG available at major retailers in the US in Fall 2023. Miraculous Ladybug and Cat Noir, the globally popular heroes of ZAG Heroez Miraculous – Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir animated TV series, make their film debut this year in the US$100+ million animated movie, Ladybug and Cat Noir: The Movie. 


YuMe Toys kicks off 2023 with the launch of DZNR collectibles. YuMe Toys, a division of the Maxx Group, is launching a new series of DZNR collectibles of premium quality designer plush for 2023. The 7” collectible features the heritage and artistry of an iconic character condensed into a stylized art plush that consumers can identify and enjoy with appeals to kids, kidults, fans and collectors alike. 


Hasbro and Franklin Sports to deliver new Nerf Sports products. A strategic global licensing deal will see Hasbro and Franklin Sports produce and distribute Nerf Sports product innovations while expanding the product line’s retail distribution. Hasbro has announced a licensing agreement with Franklin Sports, a manufacturer and retailer in the sporting goods industry, to expand its retail production and dist. of Nerf...

Fantasy Flight unveils two repackaged expansions for 'The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game'. Fantasy Flight Games unveiled The Dream-chaser Campaign Expansion and The Dream-chaser Hero Expansion, two repackaged expansions for The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, which will hit retail on July 7, 2023. These two expansions are a repackaged version of the original Dream-chaser cycle plus The Grey Havens expansion. 

Tonies enjoys positive reception to new Sleepy Friends range. In a pivotal, brand-defining moment for the company, Tonies’ new Sleepy Friends range includes the first ever Tonies-licensed Tonies range and a new Night Light Sleepy Sheep Tonie. The collection has been designed to support families with bedtime routines, rated as the most popular reason for using the Toniebox by consumers in a recent Survey Monkey study.

The Sandbox, a leading decentralized gaming virtual world and subsidiary of Animoca Brands, has launched a partnership with Cloudco Entertainment and its iconic property, Madballs. Madballs has sold millions of toys since its initial launch in the 80s and has an extensive consumer products program, inclusive of apparel, video games, comic books, and more. 

Ravensburger Embraces the Dark Side with Star Wars Villainous Puzzles. The Star Wars galaxy has fallen to the dark side in a new line of Star Wars Villainous puzzles from Ravensburger. Inspired by the award-winning board game Star Wars (Power of the Dark Side) Villainous, these 1000-piece puzzles depict an alternate reality where heroes fall and the dark side of the Force wins. Five iconic villains are depicted completing...

Fanhome, the leader in subscription-based collections and models, under license from global branded entertainment leader Hasbro, brings the action-packed world of Transformers home to fans across North America this summer with the launch of the Transformers Optimus Prime subscription. This is the ultimate screen accurate replica of the iconic Autobot leader as he appeared in the 2007’s Transformers...

GreenLight Collectibles, the Indiana-based maker of die-cast vehicles and accessories inked a multiyear licensing deal with VP Racing Fuels to produce a range of branded collectibles across several of its top product lines. GreenLight Collectibles products are sold through a variety of retail channels, including mass, specialty, and hobby shops.

Canadian national broadcaster Aboriginal Peoples TV Network and regional network Citytv Saskatchewan have ordered a new preschool series called Chums from a pair of Canadian studios. Saskatoon’s Paxolotl Media and Winnipeg’s Zoot Pictures are in production on the CG-animated series, which will premiere on APTN and streamer APTN lumi in early 2024. 

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People of Play

The enCourage Kids Foundation (EKF) announced the hiring of Jean Butler as the new President & CEO.  Since 1985, the enCourage Kids Foundation (EKF), has helped humanize healthcare for children and their families by resourcing impact-driven pediatric programs and supporting the child life community. EKF is a significant philanthropic force that has invested more than 50 million dollars to help medically challenged kids... 

Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment (WiT) has revealed the appointment of a new Treasurer -  Cristina Liquori to its board of directors for a three-year term, which began on Jan. 1. In her role as Treasurer, Liquori will oversee the management of WiT’s financial affairs. In addition to her position at WiT, Liquori is Head of Marketing at LEGO Systems where she leads the U.S. marketing team. 

ToyBook's TALKIN’ TOYS: WE SPOKE TO GLOBETRADER’S PATRICK O’DONNELL ABOUT WHOLESALE DISTRIBUTION AND NAVIGATING THE INDUSTRY (sponsored post) - There are plenty of factors to consider when owning a brand, but luckily, there is a wealth of information available on how to navigate issues one might face in the industry.

Will Shortz’s Life in Crosswords. The veteran Times puzzle editor discusses his favorite clues, debates in the crossword community, and unexpectedly finding his first serious romance. When Will Shortz took over as the crossword editor at the Times, in 1993, he set out to make the puzzle younger. He published more contributors in their twenties and thirties, and favored clues with a modern sensibility: Greek prefixes...

Simon Philips named president of Falcon’s Beyond. The former Marvel and Disney exec is taking over as the company gears up to open its first Katmandu theme park in the Dominican Republic. Veteran children’s entertainment executive Simon Philips is stepping away from his role at Moonbug Entertainment to start a new chapter as president of Florida-based experiential entertainment company Falcon’s Beyond. 

Toikido welcomes Will Ochoa as chief commercial officer. In what CEO and founder Darran Garnham is calling a ‘rocket fuel’ appointment, Will Ochoa is joining Toikido as chief commercial officer. Toikido is delighted to announce the latest addition to its talented and fast-growing team, as Will Ochoa joins as chief commercial officer.


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Companies and Brands

Why Mattel Aims to Be In the Driver’s Seat For Its Films and TV Shows. The toy giant's film division has 200 potential titles it could look to develop: "It’s the double-edged sword, because we’ve got so much pre-awareness but no story,” says vp Elizabeth Bassin at SXSW. On March 10, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves — the big-budget bet based on Hasbro’s role-playing game franchise — premiered as SXSW’s...


US toy retailer, ToysRUs enters India for the 2nd time, opens first store. Its online store and it will also sell exclusively on ecommerce platforms, Flipkart and Myntra. ToysRUs has entered India for a second time and has opened its first store in Hyderabad as it looks to tap the $1.5 billion toy market in India, over 90 per cent of which still remains unorganised. 


***The above posted after March 10th***


Russian game developer bans and doxes 6,700 cheaters. Cheaters are an annoying part of almost every online video game. And banning them has become an important routine for game developers and publishers to keep their users happy. The publisher of Escape from Tarkov, a game developed by the Russian company Battlestate Games, has added an unusual twist to the routine: naming and shaming the cheaters. 

Mattel joins UK Chapter of the Unstereotype Alliance. By becoming a member of the Unstereotype Alliance, Mattel has reinforced its commitment to not only eliminate stereotypes through its work, but to be progressive in its approach Ahead of International Women’s Day on 8th March, Mattel has announced it has become the first children’s entertainment company to join the UK Chapter of the Unstereotype Alliance. 


MGA unveils L.O.L. Surprise! Sooo Mini! collection. MGA Entertainment continues to drive the collectible market with a brand-new series for Spring & Summer – L.O.L. Surprise! Sooo Mini! The new collection taps into the rising trend for miniature children’s toys and sees fan-favourite Tots and iconic characters such as Hoops MVP from the very first L.O.L. Surprise! series, and the most popular previous themes like...


Hasbro launches games cashback initiative. From Monday 6th to Sunday 19th March, customers can claim up to £50 cashback on a wide range of Hasbro Gaming products, including iconic board games such as Jenga, Monopoly and Twister, as part of Hasbro Gaming’s nationwide cashback initiative which has gone live in the UK, ROI & Germany this week. To redeem the cashback, shoppers must make a first-hand...


Mattel to launch owned publishing imprint. Mattel, Inc has announced its plans to launch a Mattel publishing imprint, the company’s own publishing platform centered on its extensive catalog of children’s and family entertainment franchises. Mattel’s imprint is expected to launch in the United States and Canada in 2024 and will complement content, support brand initiatives, and create new stories based on iconic...


Douglas welcomes more Dragons and Unicorns to their plush family. Imaginative play thrives in the land of Douglas with the introduction of two new Dragons and five new Unicorns. The plush toy maker and lifestyle gift creator is making dreams come true with these latest introductions: Deuce the Two-Headed Dragon, Lukie the White Dragon, Hallie the Unicorn, Bonnie the Ice Blue Unicorn, Lexie the Ice Pink ...


WowWee’s Fingerlings return for holiday 2023, new line to debut at ‘The Play Date’ in NYC. Fueled by fans on TikTok and refreshed with new technology, WowWee‘s Fingerlings are poised for a comeback! The Toy Book can confirm that the all-new Fingerlings will debut at The Play Date — a new media event hosted by The Toy Association and Adventure Media & Events (publisher of The Toy Book and The Toy Insider)...

Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock honored as new Barbie Role Model. The Barbie doll celebrates Dr Maggie’s achievements in making space and science fascinating and accessible to girls, and Barbie is donating Dr Maggie’s book, Am I Made of Stardust, to schools across the UK through partner charity Inspiring Girls. The Mattel brand is also expanding its Career range with a Marine Biologist doll this spring, joining STEM career...


Renegade launches two new 'G.I. Joe Mission Critical' expansions. Renegade Game Studios launched two G.I. JOE Mission Critical expansions onto to preorder with projected release dates in August 2023. The first expansion headed to preorder is Midnight Storm, which features the ninja master Storm Shadow as a boss.  It also allows players to play new JOE heroes Jinx and Mutt/Junkyard. .


Games Workshop unveils four 'Warhammer 40,000: Boarding Patrol' boxed sets. Games Workshop unveiled four Warhammer 40,000: Boarding Patrol boxed sets, which will be up for preorder on March 11, 2023. Boarding Patrol: Chaos Daemons offers up a force looking to reclaim some of the treasures from the Ark of Omens for the Chaos Gods. .


Hachette Boardgames will release 'Vaalbara' into U.S. retail. Hachette Boardgames will release Vaalbara, a new hand management card game by Studio H, into U.S. retail in May 2023. In Vaalbara, players have set out with their tribe to explore uncharted lands of this Neolithic world.  They must use the various talents of their tribe members to optimize their tribe's development, expand territory and enforce their hegemony.


Jasco Games no longer exclusive with Asmodee USA. Jasco Games has ended their exclusive distribution deal with Asmodee USA. The agreement between Jasco Games and Asmodee USA covered exclusive distribution of their products, including their Universus and My Hero Academia collectible card games, to hobby, gift, and toy retail. This deal was originally reached back in 2021. 


Steamforged announces 'Sea of Thieves' board game. Steamforged Games announced a Sea of Thieves board game, which will be based off of the hit video game for PC and Xbox. Sea of Thieves is a pirate action-adventure game created by Rare and published by Microsoft Studios in 2018. In the video game, players take on the role of a pirate working for various trading companies as they explore this open world game.  


Spin Master announces fantasy-adventure franchise, Unicorn Academy. Spin Master has announced the debut of a new fantasy-adventure children’s franchise, Unicorn Academy. A Netflix-original animated series, produced by Spin Master Entertainment, Unicorn Academy will transport audiences to a magical world as they follow Sophia on her journey from ordinary to extraordinary, as she discovers her destiny …

Paramount launched “Popular is Paramount,” a campaign intended to highlight the company’s strength in producing content for all audiences across its portfolio of brands and multiplatform assets.  “‘Popular is Paramount’ is a celebration of our company, content, and creative excellence,” says Bob Bakish, Paramount President and CEO. “It simply captures what we do best — giving audiences what they want...

Moonbug Entertainment has been named on Fast Company’s prestigious annual list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies for 2023 in the Film and Television category. This year’s list highlights the businesses at the forefront of their respective industries, paving the way for the innovations of tomorrow. In addition to the World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies, 540 organisations...

R.L. Stine is reacting on social media to reports Goosebumps is being edited with more inclusive language. “The stories aren’t true. I’ve never changed a word in Goosebumps. Any changes were never shown to me,” Stine tweeted. Scholastic shared a statement regarding the edits to the children’s horror book series. 

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Gaming: Digital, Video, Hardware, and Development

Grammy-winning songwriter and producer BloodPop, while working on projects for artists like Lady Gaga and Beyoncé, has founded and launched Genpop Interactive alongside former DeNA and BANDAI NAMCO executive Aubrey Tennant. Genpop Interactive is a game development studio building original AAA games that will drive forward the next-gen of music, fashion and gaming culture. 




L.O.L. Surprise! O.M.G. Fashion House takes on gaming. Following the “L.O.L. Surprise! Winter Fashion Show” movie on Netflix in 2022, MGA Entertainment set sights on bringing the L.O.L. Surprise! O.M.G. fashion dolls into the world of gaming and to further build the brand through multi-channel digital distribution. Azerion has announced the release of a mobile game for the doll brand.


Looks like Mario Kart 8 is getting five new characters. Mario Kart 8, a game that was first released ten years ago on the Wii U, is still not done. The 2017 Switch version of the game is currently in the midst of a run of downloadable content that is bringing not only new courses to the game, but new drivers as well. We welcomed Birdo (alongside a Yoshi’s Island course) in the latest update, released today, but...


Activision releases three previously unlisted Call of Duty games on Steam. Call of Duty's PC presence just grew, as Activision Blizzard has released three of the franchise's most recent entries on Steam. As of today, 2019's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare reboot, along with 2020's Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War and 2021's Call of Duty: Vanguard are now on Valve's marketplace. Before this, the three games were previously...


Curve Games boasts strong sales for The Ascent and Human: Fall Flat. Game publisher Curve Games provided sales numbers for two of its titles, Human: Fall Flat and The Ascent. Developed by Neon Giant, The Ascent has sold 1 million copies since its release across all systems in 2021. When the RPG-shooter first came out, it reportedly earned Curve $5 million in sales revenue within its first week of release. .

Highlighted Press Releases


DON’T PANIC! GATHER AT THE CASTLE TO STOP THE DARK TITAN LURKING WITH DARK SORCERESS & BOOM TROLL. The Dark Titan Second Edition Castle Panic Expansion Now on Sale with Fresh Art, Heavier Card Stock Plus Rules Updates! Engines of War Second Edition Coming 3/22

Austin, TX (March 6, 2023) – Friends don’t let friends fight monsters alone, especially when Agranok, aka The Dark Titan, brings his army to your tabletop board game. The Dark Titan ($19.95) is now in its Second Edition, a great expansion to the award-winning Castle Panic base game. With new artwork, heavier card stock and a few rules updates, players can get reinforcements before the monsters lay siege to their castle! 

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Safety and Counterfeiting

3.2 million Calico Critters toys recalled over choking fears and deaths of two children. Many of the products made by New Jersey-based Epoch Everlasting Play were sold online and at Walmart and Meijer. They're calling for a return of "all Calico Critters flocked animal figures and sets that were sold with bottle and pacifier accessories," the commission said in a statement. The company is "aware of three incidents involving the pacifier accessory, including two deaths," one of them involving a 2-year-old in 2018 in New Mexico and the other a 9-month-old who died in 2015 in Japan, the commission said.

Associations, Shows, Awards, Events, and Festivals

ToyFest 2023 featured vendors from 48 different U.S. states, as well as Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Cayman Islands, Guam, Korea, Mexico, Micronesia, Panama, Philippines, South America, the UK, and Venezuela. Bill St. John, COB, says the overall mood was happy though there were a few “growing pains,” as to be expected with the new venture. The event had nearly double the number of manufacturers and retailers...


Moose Toys took home four awards at the Australian Toy Association’s gala, winning across multiple categories including Australian Development Product of the Year – Little Live Pets Mama Surprise; Judges Choice Award – Cookeez Makery; Electronic Product of the Year – Magic Mixies Crystal Ball Doll and Product of the Year – Magic Mixies Castle Play Set. “We are proudly an Australian company, which makes winning...

The Kickstarter phenomenon Raccoon Tycoon has seen off over 100 other competitors to take the coveted Game of the Year Award at this year’s Australia Toy Association Gala. Born from a Kickstarter campaign in 2018 and launched in the US, the Forbidden Games title Raccoon Tycoon is a fun and accessible gateway game for strategic game players aged eight years and over. 

Supernatural teens and sequels win big at the Kids’ Choice Awards. It was a huge night for Netflix's breakout series Wednesday, and Disney's High School Musical: The Musical: The Series continued its winning streak. Netflix, Harry Styles and a handful of sequels/revivals scored top honors at Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards, hosted by TikTok influencer Charli D’Amelio and football commentator Nate Burleson...

This summer, Toys “R” Us, partnered with marketing agency Known, will be offering an immersive experience kicking off at the Macy’s flagship store in Herald Square, NYC. Geoffrey’s Tour Across America will feature weekend events with entertainment, food, VIP experiences, giveaways, and more. The series of events across various American cities follows the relaunch of Toys “R” Us within Macy’s stores. 


The United Nations is about to host its first ever video games event, with the Games for Change Festival bringing its 20th anniversary celebration to its NYC headquarters. The event comes as part of the annual Games for Change Festival, an annual event hosted by nonprofit Games for Change that highlights games, technology, and immersive experiences with the intention of driving real-world change, innovation...

Following London Toy Fair, Rachael Simpson-Jones rounds up what was widely hailed as a magnificent three days at Olympia – with a little help from her friends. If you were at London Toy Fair in Jan., you were in good company, with the toy trade once again gathering en masse to check out the latest toys, games and kids’ products that will be keeping the nation’s children (and adults) entertained in the months ahead. 


All set for INDX Toy & Gift Show – one week to go. Over 90% of exhibitors are running exclusive show-only deals to all visitors, and there are lot of new brands on the exhibitor list including Hippychick and Orange Tree Toys. Though there has been a change in date – this year’s show will be held slightly earlier, from March 14th-15th, rather than its usual April slot – Rosie Marshall, head of Children’s Toy and Gift at Playroom...


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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

Stan Resnicoff - Director of Special Projects of Mattel Toys.  Tribute by Bob Knetzger: It is my sad duty to report the passing of Stan Resnicoff, a fellow ex-Mattelite. He passed away March 13, comfortably in his home in Redondo Beach.  I’ll remember him as a good friend as well as a very talented and creative designer. We met when he interviewed for the educational software designer position I had trouble filling at Mattel in the late 70’s/early 80s, when Mattel was doing Intellivision, Children’s Discovery System and Teach and Learn Computer product lines. I had almost given up when Stan flew in from NYC with his portfolio full of fun, fantastic and educational projects for kids that he had created for The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bronx Zoo, Queens Botanical Garden, Brooklyn Museum, The Smithsonian--hire this guy!!

Stan had a long career in LA at Mattel and at Educational Insights. He also wrote music, created several kid books, made clever art projects, and wrote his memoirs as a VISTA volunteer and later of his very interesting experiences at Mattel. I can recommend both of those books. They’re just like Stan: smart and funny!

So, so much more. We’ll miss you, but always remember you. RIP Stan Resnicoff


Ian Falconer, Creator of Olivia, the Energetic Piglet, Dies at 63. He was a stage designer noted for his work in opera when he hit the best-seller list in 2000 with the first in a series of books for children.

Ian Falconer, who had built a successful career designing opera sets with David Hockney and drawing covers for The New Yorker when he turned a character he had originally created as a Christmas gift for a niece into “Olivia,” a children’s book about a rambunctious piglet that became a publishing sensation, died on Tuesday in Norwalk, Conn. He was 63.

His lawyer and agent, Conrad Rippy, said the cause was kidney failure.

Mr. Falconer hit the children’s book jackpot in 2000 with “Olivia,” which was named a Caldecott Honor Book and remained on the children’s picture book best-seller list of The New York Times for 107 weeks.

He introduced his young heroine with understated drawings in gray, black and red.

“This is Olivia,” the first page read, under a drawing of the piglet singing from a book titled “40 Very Loud Songs.” “She is good at lots of things.”

By the time Olivia falls into bed at the end of the book, she has played dress-up — all the garments and accessories she tries out are red — built a spectacular sand castle, admired artworks at a museum and earned a time out for attempting a Jackson Pollock imitation on a wall of her house.

The book had some sly touches for the adults who would be reading it to their children, including reproductions of an actual Pollock and a detail from an Edgar Degas painting. Such grown-up flourishes would become a signature of the series — a photographic portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt in “Olivia Saves the Circus” (2001), a portrait of the real-life Supreme Court justices (with Olivia superimposed) in “Olivia Forms a Band” (2006), photographs of Martha Graham in “Olivia and the Fairy Princess” (2012). The most recent book, “Olivia the Spy,” appeared in 2017.

“You knew ‘Olivia' was going to be a big deal,” Dwight Garner of The Times wrote when the third book in the series, “Olivia … and the Missing Toy,” appeared in 2003, “because, at birthday parties and on Christmas morning, people kept giving your children copies of it. Or rather, people kept giving you copies of it, because ‘Olivia’ is one of those kids’ books, filled as it is with references to Callas and Jackson Pollock and the ballet, that hip mommies and daddies like to give to the children of other hip mommies and daddies.” 

For his latest children’s book, published last year, Mr. Falconer changed species. It was called “Two Dogs,” and it told the story of Augie and Perry, twin dachshunds who escape from their house one day while their human owners are at work and wreak havoc outside, but manage to escape blame. Jennifer Krauss, writing in The Times, called it a “delightful tour de force” and named it one of the best children’s picture books of 2022.

Dina Norlund died on February 22, 2023, at the age of 27. Her  graphic novel The Snowcat Prince was published by Oni Press on March 7. Born in Oslo, Norway, in 1995, Norlund studied drawing at the FZD School of Design in Singapore. In addition to a promising career as an illustrator and comics creator, she posted drawing tutorials and demos on YouTube, where she had a following of 175,000 subscribers.

Norlund’s body of work includes the self-published comics Fern and the Moon Rabbit, Sprout, and Greylegs. The Snowcat Prince is a middle-grade fantasy story that Norlund originally self-published in Norway, after funding it on Kickstarter; a year later, in 2021, Egmont published a slightly different edition, also in Norwegian. The Oni Press edition is translated from that version (see “Oni Press to Publish Dina Norlund’s ‘The Snowcat Prince’”), and the French publisher Albin-Michel has just acquired the rights to release it in French. Norlund’s website also lists another all-ages project, Nettle and the Hush-Hush, which was to be published by Egmont in 2022.

In April 2021, Norlund told her YouTube followers that she had been diagnosed with cancer the previous November, but that she had completed her treatment.

Oni Press will donate a portion of the proceeds from sales of The Snowcat Prince to the Norwegian children’s organization Sykehusklovnene in Norlund’s honor. “Dina was an incredibly talented artist and storyteller,” editor Grace Scheipeter said in a statement. “She was such a joy and inspiration to work with, and her passing is a heartbreaking loss. I know her work will continue to inspire young artists, authors, and readers the same way it will inspire me for years to come.”


Robert Dale Zera - Age 71, of Minnetonka died Sunday, February 19, 2023 at home surrounded by his family. Rob was preceded in death by his parents Casimir and Jean. He is survived by Peggy, his wife of 44 years, sons Dan (Niki) and R.J. (Robert Joseph), sister Lynda (Jim) James, brother Rick (Diana) Zera, sisters Lori Zera and Lisa Zera-Polley, uncles Ray Weaver, Joe Saur, and Al Meyerl, brother-in-law Dan (Kathleen) Shea, many cousins, and close friends. He was an affectionate uncle to numerous nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews. Rob was born in Washington, DC, lived in Bethesda, Maryland, Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, Concord, Massachusetts, Potomac, Maryland, and Brooklyn, New York, before moving to Minnesota and living in Edina, Minneapolis, and Minnetonka for the past 48 years. His creative journey began as an art student at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, in the early 1960s. He was the art editor for the Winston Churchill High School Yearbook and went on to graduate cum laude from Pratt Institute in New York with a degree in industrial design. Rob utilized this degree as a product designer in the toy industry with various companies, including Team Windsor (Girsch Design Associates), Custom Concepts, Schaper Manufacturing, Tonka Toys, and his own company, Zera Industrial Design. Rob was a loving husband and father as well as a talented chef, landscape and visual artist, and home renovator. He freely shared his wit and his passion for music by including family and friends in concertgoing experiences. For Rob family always came first. We are so fortunate to have had him in our lives. 

Worldwide Magazines Weekly Top Stories

Added Friday Morning Chicago Time. Check Back for Complete Lists.


Toy Trade Monthly Issues​​

Adventure Media & Events (US)

aNb Media (US) 

Toyworld (UK) Powered by Toyworld

ICv2: The Business of Geek Culture (US) 

Wizards of the Coast Issues Update to 'Magic: The Gathering' Banned and Restricted List
Wizards of the Coast Announces First 'Magic: The Gathering' CommandFests for 2023
ICv2 Exclusive Preview Card for 'Flesh and Blood TCG: Outsiders' Set
Transform D20s into Dragons and Other 'D&D' Monsters
Steamforged Announces 'Sea of Thieves' Board Game
Rolling for Initiative -- Who Handles Scheduling at Wizards of the Coast?
'Robo Rally' Returns
WizKids Unveils 'D&D Icons of the Realms: Adult Brass Dragon'
Wizards of the Coast Reveals 'Magic: The Gathering' 'Legendary Flyers (Not That Kind)' Set
'Hot Pockets' Enters the 'Magic: The Gathering Arena'
Funko Games Announces 'Disney Animated'

Nación Juguetes (Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Chile & Spain)

The Bugg Report (Australia)

The Bugg Report Edition 43

Australian Toy Awards - 2023 ATA Award Finalists & Winners


​On vacation! 

Casual Game Revolution

News Flash: New Funko Disney Games, Nimalia Pre-Order
Funko Games has announced a slew of new Disney-themed board games, Lucky Duck has a new game for pre-order, and Star Wars: The Deckbuilding Game is out now.

Video of the Week 

Hidden Roles Podcast: Scott Brown and Tim Swindle...
are Launching a New Sport!



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

We are honored to carry on Phil's 22 year legacy and continue the Bloom Report. Phil has been a mensch

and we've loved working with him. Here is a fun and interesting interview with Phil.

If you would like to reach Phil:   

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

Managing Editor: Graeme Thomson

Assistant Editor: Patrick Fisher

Not only does the Bloom Report give you all the news you need to know...

we give you all the news you didn't know you needed to know!" -Phil Bloom

Do you have news to share? Send us a note! 

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