May 12 - 19, 2023
Welcome to Your Weekly News Brief!
Happy Bloomin' Friday!
Bringing people together and making connections is our special sauce. Whether it is virtually on our POP platform or in person at our POP Networking events, we love it! Coming up is our What’s Up DISTOY London Pub event on the 31st. Our uber creative co-hosts are Lizzy Moody (7Towns), Eleanor Black and Hannah Palfrey (FUSE), and Casey Norman (Genie). In the spirit of the coronation and children's charities, Michael Kohner has donated 8 cute and cuddly plush corgis to be raffled off during the evening for which we have bestowed the title of The Michael Kohner Corporation Corgi Giveaway, Tickets are only 5 pounds and to a very worthy cause via the Toy Trust. You can donate whether you attend or not, but in order to take home the corgi, you must be present.
Our Barcelona terrace networking event is the following week. Big thank you to Amy Holden and Lucie Lanham (World Alive) and Josep Pasteur (SEEK4KEY) for scouting the most amazing location.
More networking events around the world to be announced soon!
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!
“I seriously look forward to each Friday to learn most every update + more in the Industry. Priceless info! Thank you” -Michael Kohner, The Michael Kohner Corporation
"TBR is required reading for: inventors, manufacturers, retailers, marketers, suppliers, absolutely everyone!" - Robert Fuhrer, Founder, NEXTOY
"I am a long-time reader and champion of tBR. 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 & Founder, Little Kids Inc.
"I don't know anyone in the industry that doesn't read the Bloom Report." -Ken Lewis, President, 4Kidz, Inc.
Person of the Week - Adam Unger
Curator & Matchmaker for Products, People, Factories and Brands
Adam Unger with his parents, Henry and JoAnne, a 'few' years ago at dinner in Hong Kong.
Hi Adam, thank you for taking a bit of time with me today. You are involved in many different aspects of our industry. How would you boil it down to once sentence?
I try to be both a curator and a matchmaker for products, people, factories and brands into manufacturers in the toy industry.
What is it about the Toy Industry that you love?
Mostly it’s about the people and the products. The mechanics around the operations and distribution are the same within any industry centered around CP but I find the the people and the products to be more exciting in our industry than others.
Why and how did you get into the Toy industry?
Like so many others, I came into the family business, 3rd generation in fact. My grandfather was a west coast sales rep, my father Henry took over his business and I spent 10 great years working for him in sales as well as import and licensing consulting. And we’ve been working and traveling together ever since.
What are your favorite early memories of being in the toy business?
Of course NY Toy Fair was the most exciting, traveling with my dad, staying in cool hotels, hammering through the snow and crazy February weather, hustling through the Toy Building with a bad suit and a packed appointment schedule and the amazing dinners we had. Those were great times. I also started traveling to HK and China with my Dad, my first trip I was still in college in ’88, it was eye opening and I loved it. And I was back almost every year for nearly 30 years, all of it with my Dad and staying in his amazing suites across the many hotels he stayed in. READ MORE...
Industry Opportunity - Summer Young Inventor Camps
Registration for People of Play's inaugural Young Inventors Challenge: Summer Camp Edition has only been live for over a week and already we have over 4,000 kids and counting nationwide!
This summer camp edition, partnering with ASTRA and Happy Camper Live, is expanding the impact of this amazing toy industry initiative that fosters innovation, invention, and entrepreneurship in kids ages 6-18.
Host retailers and camps will all receive a "prototype pack" containing donations from supporting sponsors like Goliath Games, Starlux Games, Grand Prix International, Inc. (GPI), Kent Displays, Inc. | Makers of Boogie Board, Revenew Sales LLC, Design Edge Inc., Lulu Press, Inc. and more! The pieces contained in these packs will be used to ignite creativity, inspire design elements and teach various brainstorming and play testing methods to help kids on their inventing journey.
Toy industry gurus will volunteer their time to mentor and supply feedback on the concepts, designs, and marketing plans, providing these children with an experience of a lifetime! I love what our industry can accomplish when we all work together on legacy programming like #younginventorschallenge
To find out how you or your organization can be involved in our August programming, contact Jenna Stirling, Executive Director.
Don Wilder's Playtime Proverbs
10 Inspiring Quotes on Toys and Games
Alright, POP folks, fasten your seatbelts and hold onto your joysticks – we're embarking on another playful journey into the land of toys and games. This time, we're armed with a treasure trove of ten quotable nuggets from some of the most creative minds in the industry. So, let's get this playtime party started! Read More!
Cartoon Lovers, Lexophiles & People in Need of a Smile!
Thank you Bob Fuhrer for this week's cartoon!
New Feature! Brain Teasers from Ivan Moscovich's book, The Big Book of Brain Games. Ivan sadly passed on recently, but his genius lives on.
Last week: Q - The last man on earth sat alone in his room. Suddenly there was a knock at the door!”
Can you change one word in the above sentence to make the man’s isolation before the knock at the door more complete?
A - Change “man” to “person”.
This week: Q - Which came first, the chicken or the egg? (answer next week.)
Quote of the Week... "Inventing a toy isn't just about creating a plaything. It's about giving birth to joy, laughter, and wonder." - Patricia Kislevitz, co-creator of Colorforms
Have a cartoon, quote or a joke to share with your colleagues? Send it to me! Mary
Financial and Legal
Disney Pulls Plug on $1 Billion Development in Florida. A new office complex, and relocation of a division from California, would have created more than 2,000 jobs but was scuttled as the company and Gov. Ron DeSantis continue to feud. In March, Disney called Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida “anti-business” for his scorched-earth attempt to tighten oversight of the company’s theme park resort near Orlando.
E.U. Approves Microsoft’s $69 Billion Deal for Activision. The green light follows objections to the blockbuster deal by American and British regulators on the grounds that it would undercut competition. Microsoft’s faltering $69 billion bid to buy the video game company Activision Blizzard received a glimmer of hope when European Union regulators approved what would be the largest consumer tech deal in two decades.
CMA decries EU's Microsoft-Activision approval, stands by rejection. The CMA had some words for the European Commission's (EU) recent seal of approval to Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard. On Twitter, the UK regulator acknowledged that while it understood and respected the EU's choice to "take a different view, the CMA stands by its decision." Earlier on Monday, the EU let the merger go through on...
Hasbro Inc. again defeated a toy inventor’s claim to royalties after the Second Circuit affirmed that his ideas for a branded line of game “mash-ups” wasn’t novel. David Wexler brought his claim to the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit after a lower court granted summary judgment in Hasbro’s favor. But the panel agreed with the lower court’s finding that Wexler didn’t present evidence creating a factual issue...
TikTok: Montana to become first US state to ban app on personal devices. Montana is set to become the first US state to ban Chinese-owned media giant TikTok from personal devices. Governor Greg Gianforte signed the ban into law on Wednesday. It is due to take effect on 1 January. The video-sharing platform says the ban "infringes on the First Amendment rights of the people of Montana".
Watchdog: Roblox violates advertising guidelines for marketing to children under 13. The Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU) of BBB National Programmes, a U.S. advertising watchdog, has found Roblox in violation of the group’s guidelines for responsible advertising to children younger than 13. Roblox came to CARU’s attention through its routine monitoring of child-directed content.
Saudi Arabia has increased its stake in Electronic Arts through its Public Investment Fund (PIF). PIF held 16.01 million shares of EA prior to Q4 2022, but has since upped its stake in the company to 24.81 million shares as of the end of Q1 2023 - an increase of 55%. Saudi Arabia has been investing in game developers worldwide as part of its long-term economic strategy as the country diversifies from oil.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR GERMANY’S CHANGING SUPPLY CHAIN DUE DILIGENCE ACT. At the ICTI Ethical Toy Program (IETP), we closely monitor changing global regulations, especially when these changes apply to labor standards and environmental risks. Our goal is to provide our members, and the toy industry in general, with the tools to stay compliant regardless of where they conduct business.
FISHER-PRICE DEBUTS COLLEGE SAVINGS MASTERCARD. While Fisher-Price is known for its focus on early childhood stages, the company is thinking ahead to college and is now giving families an opportunity to turn everyday spending into 529 education savings. Mattel’s Fisher-Price launched the Fisher-Price College Savings Mastercard in partnership with Concerto Card Company, a platform that develops co-branded...
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Embracer Group’s fiscal Q4 (January-March) and fiscal year ended March 31 were below expectations for the videogame-based company, despite growth in its tabletop game and comic and film divisions.
***The above posted after May 19th***
VTech announced its results for the year ended 31 March 2023. Group revenue declined by 5.4% to US$2,241.7 million. Gross profit margin was 28.3%, as compared with 28.2% in FY2022
Target Corporation reports first quarter earnings, which reflected continued traffic and sales growth in an increasingly challenging environment.
Square Enix closes out 2023 fiscal year with financial dips across the board. For the year ending on March 31, 2023, overall revenue hit ¥343.2 billion (or $2.53 billion), a decrease of 6 percent from the ¥365.28 billion of 2022's fiscal year.
Ubisoft's franchise retention grows as profits dip in 2023. Its net bookings hit €1.739 million (or $1.890 million), a yearly decline of 18 percent. Digital revenues were also down by 10 percent (for €1.485 million), and its previously celebrated back catalog by 30 percent (€1.004 million).
Trends, Market Research, and State of the Industry
YouTube’s Viewing on TV Screens Climbed in April as Most Other Streamers Flat or Down: Nielsen
Netflix Advertising Tier Hits 5M Global Users Six Months After Launch; Company Tells Virtual Audience At Its First Upfront That One-Quarter Of New Subscribers Opt For Ad Plan
U.S. VIDEO GAME HARDWARE SALES CONTINUE TO RISE
One of The Toy Association’s top trends of 2023 is “Be Authentic.”
TCGPlayer Top 25 Sealed Products (with price shifts) - April 2023.
APRIL 2023 CIRCANA BOOKSCAN - TOP 20 AUTHOR, MANGA, AND SUPERHERO GRAPHIC NOVELS
Stories, Comments, and Advice
The Most Popular Happy Meal Toy The Year You Were Born. Happy Meal toys have been the source of fast food-based nostalgia and joy since their introduction in 1979. Initially conceived as a means to make the fast food experience more appealing to children, these toys quickly became an iconic part of popular culture. From the launch of the first-ever Happy Meal in the late 70s, the toys have continued to stay current with the...
‘Deep Breaths’ - A look inside an elementary school using mindfulness to help children understand their emotions. Mindfulness changed Mason Rollins’ life. When he was a first grader at Rivermont Elementary School, Mason was overwhelmed by his emotions. His principal, Jill Evans, often had to take him outside until his meltdowns subsided.
Where have all the Disney villains gone? The live-action Little Mermaid is a reminder of what movies like Encanto and Frozen II don’t have: a bad guy. When Disney’s live-action remake of The Little Mermaid is released on May 26, audiences will finally get to see Melissa McCarthy’s take on one of the most iconic villains of all time: Ursula.
Elizabeth Hargrave, designer of the Wingspan board game, shares statistics on the gender diversity of the Spiel des Jahres tabletop gaming award. No women have been nominated for a SdJ award this year. And, according to data from Elizabeth Hargrave, they make up a fractional number of nominees overall. Her graphs show only 5 women have been nominated since 1999. This is in contrast to the 103 male...
Margot Robbie gave Ryan Gosling a ‘Barbie’ gift every day of filming. Robbie stars as the popular Mattel toy, along with Ryan Gosling as Barbie’s boyfriend, Ken. He told Vogue his co-star found a sweet way to help him get into character. “She left a pink present with a pink bow, from Barbie to Ken, every day while we were filming. They were all beach-related.” Gosling said. “Like puka shells, or a sign that says ‘Pray for surf.’
***The above posted after May 17th***
John Baulch, Toy World - In a good place…it’s the Friday Blog! For many in the UK toy community (and even a few from the international market), this week has largely been all about the Toymaster May show in Harrogate. I am old enough to remember walking the aisles of the show many years ago to (mostly) listen to reps grumbling about the lack of visitors, a dearth of orders or sometimes both. Those days are long gone.
Steve Reece, Toy Industry Journal - The Ever-Expanding Relationship between Video Games and the Toy Business: A Long-Term Lucrative Connection. At the time of writing, this movie spin-off from the long-term Nintendo gaming franchise has grossed more than $1.2bill at the global box office, is currently ranked as the 24th highest grossing movie globally of all time and currently sits at 15th highest grossing U.S. movie ever.
POP QUIZ WITH WENDY SMOLEN: THE 2023 CLASSICS & SPECIALTY ISSUE. This year’s ASTRA Marketplace & Academy showcases the best of the best. It’s where members of the toy industry can find everything the specialty market has to offer, from the classics and the niche to the noteworthy and the novel. Tap into your industry smarts and see how much classic toy knowledge you have with these specially selected clues.
Why Gen Z is ghosting the fashion industry for cosmetics and toys. The apparel industry needs to take notice of what Gen Z truly wants. If we likened consumers to financial terms, Gen Z would no doubt be a “whale.” The spending power this consumer wields makes them the ultimate “get.” Brands and retailers proudly tout Gen Z successes during earnings calls – a generation boiled down to a buzzword to signal...
If you attend our Chicago Toy & Game Fair, you may find this interesting as the Wienermobile is always there! Oscar Mayer rebrands Wienermobile for first time since 1936. Oscar Mayer is rebranding its signature hotdog-shaped motor vehicle from the Wienermobile to the Frankmobile. Changes also affect Oscar Mayer’s Wiener Whistles, which are now Frank Whistles, and Hotdogger drivers, who will be referred to...
Why developers are designing video games for accessibility. With more than 3 billion estimated players around the world today, the video game industry has grown far beyond its kid-focused, arcade origins. Yet while more people pick up and play, limitations of the games still leave some behind. It used to be rare to have settings to adjust anything beyond volume control.
AARP held its first Games Summit at its HQ in Washington D.C., and for many people outside the video game industry, the event might seem like a head-scratcher. An org. focused on advocating for people in the 50+ demographic talking about video games, a medium typically thought to be for younger people? But, for AARP––and the games industry––holding the summit actually makes perfect sense. Almost half of people 50...
History and Nostalgia
A Cultural History of Barbie. Ruth Handler, who co-founded Mattel with her husband, Elliot Handler, and Harold Matson in 1945, noticed her daughter, Barbara, playing with paper dolls and dreaming about what kind of woman she would become. Ruth decided there should be a proper doll onto which girls could project their highest aspirations. (In another version of this origin story, Ruth got the idea from an adult novelty...
The forgotten toys of the 1970s. The 1970s had a lot of toys for kids to choose from and some of those have remained popular to this day. Other toys weren’t so lucky and some have been lost over time. These toys and games include Weebles, Lite Bright, Wooly Willy, Raggedy Ann/Andy, and Hungry Hungry Hippos, to name a few. These games were from a far more simple time although one toy caused particular...
Oh, nuts! from Ideal. Released in 1969 by Ideal, the Oh, nuts! game had players scrambling for marble-filled nuts as they searched, swiped, and bluffed their way to victory. Each player placed a nutcracker tray in front of them to keep the marbles they collected throughout the game. A marble was inserted into each plastic walnut by pinching the nut open.
Warm-Bake Oven from Kenner. Kenner released the Warm-Bake Oven in 1973, a toy oven that was part of the company’s Easy-Bake Oven line. The toy used specially formulated mixes that, when placed in round metal baking pans and inserted into a reservoir filled with hot water, caused the batter to rise and bake in a short period of time.
Tonka Toys 1958 …designed for Child Development Catalogue. This 1948 catalog followed the rebranding of Mound, Minnesota-based Mound Metalcraft to Tonka Toys Inc. — a shout-out to the company’s proximity to nearby Lake Minnetonka. The catalogue featured the company’s small-scale metal toy vehicles. In addition to showcasing a variety trucks, farm equipment, and construction vehicles, the 12-page...
Licensing and Entertainment
Disney’s cost-cutting measures are hitting its streaming content hard this week, with Kidscreen confirming that Disney+ and Hulu will remove dozens of series, movies and specials (including many originals) from their lineups on May 26. Some shows, such as Willow, were previously announced as cancelled or not moving forward with additional seasons. But their official exit from Disney’s offering this week...
Max floats an exclusive deal for Atomic's Mermicorno: Starfall. WBD's super-streamer will launch the animated series based on tokidoki's aquatic plush toys in the US in 2025. Inspired by LA-based retailer tokidoki’s half fish/half unicorn toys, the 26 x 22-minute adventure-comedy for five- to nine-year-olds centers around a team of aquatic creatures working together to defend the ocean from an evil threat.
UK producer/distributor CAKE has partnered with Reel FX Animation in Texas to develop, produce and distribute a new CG series called Lulu and The Help You Crew that comes from a pair of creators with strong comedy pedigrees. Targeting kids ages three to five, the 52 x 11-minute series is about an eight-year-old girl who lives with her Argentinian grandmother and a whole bunch of rescued pets.
DeAgostini brings to life the house from the classic children’s books and comics by Tove and Lars Jansson, with the US launch of the Moominhouse modelling subscription. Collectors are invited to celebrate the adventures of Moomintroll and his family and construct their signature Moominhouse and collect figurines of Moomintroll, Moominpappa and Moominmamma, Snufkin, Little My and many more.
France’s Bayard Animation has promoted Alexandre Hénin to managing director of its studio, marking a swing back to TV content for this experienced kids media executive. Although Hénin has been with the company since 2021, he previously worked in business development, focusing on the BD Kids label of the Bayard Éditions Jeunesse publishing division.
BBC Studios Kids & Family’s coming-of-age drama Phoenix Rise is heading down under. Toronto-based Sinking Ship Entertainment announced today that it has sold the live-action series to Australian broadcaster ABC in a deal that was finalized following the show’s debut on BBC iPlayer in March. BBC Children’s & Education commissioned Phoenix Rise last year. It follows six teens who form an unlikely friend group...
Canada’s Mercury Filmworks has secured a French co-production partner for its animated preschool series, Octicorn & Friends. Stim Studio will join the Mercury team working on the 52 x 11-minute series, which is based on a book called Hello, My Name is Octicorn by Justin Lowe and Kevin Diller that Amazon first published in 2016. It stars Octi, a half-octopus/half-unicorn, who is struggling to fit in and goes on a journey...
***The above posted after May 19th***
Hasbro Announces New Streaming Channel Featuring Original Dungeons & Dragons Content. The SVP of Wizards of the Coast, a subsidiary of Hasbro and the owners of the Dungeons & Dragons game, had this to say about the launch: This is an amazing opportunity to create and highlight exciting, engaging Dungeons & Dragons content, to both serve our wide audience of existing fans and welcome a new wave of fans...
Forever 21, Mattel Partner on New Barbie Fashion Collection. Co-designed by Mattel and Forever 21, the exclusive capsule will be available at select Forever 21 retail stores, Forever21.com and virtually on “Roblox” starting May 18.The Forever 21 x Barbie collection is the brands’ most extensive collaboration, featuring 76 pieces across a diverse range of categories, including logo T-shirts, sweatshirts, swimwear, sleep...
Apple TV+ Releases First Look at Toy-Filled Dramedy The Beanie Bubble. Starring Elizabeth Banks and Zach Galifianakis, the film revealed new promo photos along with its summertime theatrical and streaming release dates. For anyone growing up in 1990s America, whether as a child or the parent of one, the odds were that you at least heard of the unbelievably bonkers collectors' craze that was Beanie Babies.
More of MGA Entertainment’s iconic toy brands will be dressing up the costume aisles this Halloween, thanks to a multi-year deal renewal with Jakks Pacific’s Disguise. As part of the agreement, the LA-based costume maker will design, manufacture and distribute a range of costumes and dress-up accessories based on MGA’s L.O.L. Surprise!, Bratz, Rainbow High and Little Tikes brands.
In an effort to support the local industry, the British Film Institute (BFI) is giving out a total of US$2.6 million through its Global Screen Fun to UK animation studios working in films, series, games and docs. Each studio will receive funding that ranges from US$62,000 to US$180,000 over the next three to five years. The support is intended to assist these companies in building up their market presence...
On the heels of forging a six-movie deal, Toonz Media Group and Gold Valley Films are prepping an animated adaptation of children’s novel The Wonderful Adventures of Nils. This 1906 classic was penned by Swedish author Selma Lagerlöf and published by Grosset & Dunlap. It’s about a mischievous young boy who is shrunken down in size by a resentful pixie, and must join forces with a goose to change himself back...
The world’s first “Jumanji”-themed land has opened at Chessington World of Adventures in the U.K. The land, which consists of three new rides as well as an interactive experience, represents the single largest investment in Chessington’s history. World of Jumanji includes the world’s first “Jumanj” rollercoaster, titled Mandrill Mayhem, a winged, launch, shuttle rollercoaster consisting of with 144 tonnes of steel track that turns...
Love it or hate it, AI is building a foundation in the kids biz, and South Korea’s Park Star Media wants to get in on the ground floor. The studio is launching a new A+ IP Accelerator Program to teach early-stage creatives how to use the tech; the goal is to give them a leg up in their careers and also open a new talent pipeline for Park Star.
Magic Frame Animation and Creation Entertainment Media are mining classic fairy tales for their latest film project Secret Magic Control Agency II: Mission Sleeping Beauty, which builds on a popular CG-animated Netflix movie from 2021. When it was released, Secret Magic Control Agency ranked among the global streamer’s top 10 most-watched movies, according to a release.
French animation studio Dandelooo has partnered with new start-up distributor Midolala, which is focused on bringing international content into China. Midolala will initially work on setting up co-production deals and securing pre-sales in China for everything Dandelooo has in development and production, including The Upside Down River for eight to 12s and preschool series Billy the Cowboy Hamster.
CBC Kids is looking to reach an underserved demo of kids and families in the foster care system with its upcoming live-action series, Aunty B’s House. The 20 x seven-minuter from Toronto’s Headspinner Productions revolves around foster mom Aunty B and her three foster kids. Billed as a “sitcom for preschoolers,” it blends comedy with heartfelt moments, while exploring what it’s like to live in foster care.
The makers of Barbie, Mattel, have announced it has partnered with women-led Web3 media and entertainment brand Boss Beauties to launch virtual collectibles celebrating the many careers of the iconic fashion toy figures since its inception in 1959. "Welcome to Web3, @Barbie! We're so excited to announce the #BossBeautiesxBarbie You Can Be Anything collection in celebration of over 250 Barbie careers! Barbie can...
Sesame Workshop rolls out its first-ever Filipino-American Muppet. Tying into Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Sesame Workshop has added a dose of Filipino representation to its longest-running TV series with the introduction of a new Muppet named TJ. The four-year-old character made his Sesame Street debut on May 7 as part of a short video segment about how to be confident that also features actor...
Entertainment One (eOne), Hasbro’s global entertainment studio, has announced a brand-new special, My Little Pony: Bridlewoodstock, premiering on Netflix on June 6th. The 44-minute Bridlewoodstock special stars actress, singer, and dancer, Sofia Wylie, who will voice a new musically talented pony character, Ruby Jubilee. The music festival-inspired special will debut alongside six new 22-minute episodes...
Corus Entertainment’s Nelvana and Cloudco Entertainment, owner of the Care Bears entertainment brand, announce a brand new True North Bear exclusively available in Canada at Walmart and Toys “R” Us. Fans of the beloved franchise can also get excited for more Care Bears collaborations with Peace Collective, Ardene and Kernels Popcorn coming this year. It’s going to be one hot Care Bears summer!
The Noble Collection and Warner Bros. Discovery Global Consumer Products have announced the expansion of their high-quality collectibles assortment based on Warner Bros. Discovery’s library, including Wizarding World, DC, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films, Game of Thrones and more. The collectibles company will offer fans all-new Wizarding World prop replica wands, unique Wizarding World...
Omens Studios has further expanded the Leo the Wildlife Ranger universe, launching brand-new VR and “It’s Hero Time!” series of shorts on YouTube this month. Based on the multi award-winning original Leo the Wildlife Ranger television series, the one-minute series of kid-safe VR experiences will be released bi-weekly, with the first two episodes already available on the Leo the Wildlife Ranger YouTube channel. .
ZAG’s Miraculous Ladybug makes her feature film debut in the enchanting animated musical tale Miraculous: Ladybug & Cat Noir, The Movie — a superhero blockbuster for the whole family which will launch on Netflix on July 28, 2023 and in select countries theatrically. In addition to the U.S. release on July 28, SND will release the movie in France on July 5th and Studio Canal will release it on July 6th in Germany.
Part Man. Part Machine. Now, all WWE Superstar. WWE and MGM, in partnership with 2K, bring science fiction icon RoboCop to the virtual squared circle in WWE SuperCard, appearing now through May 31, 2023. During the RoboCop event, two Superstar cards ranging up to WrestleMania 39 tier will be available for players to earn, along with Prime Directives and ED-209 Support Cards, Helmet and Armor...
Sesame Place Philadelphia and Just Play will team up for the all-new Dino Stomp Celebration for one weekend only this season. The celebration will feature exclusive prizes and giveaways from Just Play, including the all-new Dino Stomp Elmo, a dino-mite Elmo plush dressed in a cuddly green dinosaur costume that sings, moves his arms, and stomps along to the “If You’re Happy and You Know It” song.
Everyone’s favorite Blue Heeler family is coming to Canada! Bluey’s Big Play The Stage Show, the hit live show based on the Emmy-winning animated series, will “take the show on the road” to venues in Canada, including Thunder Bay, Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon, Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton and Toronto, starting December 8, 2023. Fans can expect more cities to be added.
Tamagotchi Announces Exciting Licensing Expansions into New Lifestyle Consumer Products. Tamagotchi is coming to the Las Vegas Licensing Expo, at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV and has big plans to expand the franchise in the North American market even further, allowing fans to engage with the Tamagotchi brand like never before. With over $90 million in sales worldwide...
EXERSAUCER INKS LICENSING DEAL FOR BABY CLOTHES WITH IHL GROUP. For more than 25 years, babies have been bouncing around and playing in ExerSaucer jumpers and activity centers. Now, the brand is teaming up with clothes-maker IHL Group to bring new baby clothes to market. The Brand Liaison, the exclusive licensing agent for ExerSaucer, brokered the deal.
Jazwares partners with Sanrio as master toy licensee for Hello Kitty And Friends. Industry big Jazwares has acquired another licensing agreement, this time with the well-known Hello Kitty and Friends brand from Sanrio. Jazwares will design, manufacture, and market a varied line of toys featuring Sanrio characters, expected to launch in 2024. The line will include characters such as Hello Kitty, Kuromi,...
JAKKS Pacific set to unleash Sonic Prime toy collection this summer. JAKKS Pacific in collaboration with SEGA of America will launch a new extension to its long-running line of Sonic the Hedgehog toys and collectibles with a range of products inspired by Sonic Prime. Timed to the July 13 Netflix debut of Sonic Prime‘s second season, the new line will launch with an initial wave of 5-inch articulated action figures...
Holy smoke, it’s a LEGO Batcave! The Lego Group has unveiled the Batman Returns Batcave Shadowbox Set, including a Batmobile and a host of functions and gadgets. The LEGO Group has announced its latest addition to the Lego Batman Collection – the LEGO Batman Returns Batcave Shadow Box.
Fantasy Flight Games unveils new 'Marvel Champions: The Card Game' hero pack. Fantasy Flight Games unveiled Angel Hero Pack, for Marvel Champions: The Card Game, which will hit retail in September 2023. Warren Worthington III, aka Angel, was a founding member of the X-Men and a key member of X-Force.
Wildbrain secures new licenses, partnerships for Teletubbies. Teletubbies had its start as a live-action British series for children, first released in 1997. The brand has endured since then, with products, new shows, and more featuring the four colorful characters. WildBrain, known for its kids’ content, is continuing the trend by securing a number of new offerings for its Teletubbies franchise.
Amazon Games and Embracer Group announce new ‘The Lord of the Rings’ game. Amazon Games and Embracer Group, through its subsidiary, Middle-earth Enterprises, part of the operative group Freemode, have announced they have reached an agreement for Amazon Games to develop and publish a new massively multiplayer online (MMO) game based on “The Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien.
Spirit Halloween, Funko partner for exclusive ‘Corpse Bride’ figure. Spirit Halloween is continuing its 40th season celebration by teaming with Funko to unveil a new exclusive Movie Moment Funko POP! figure. Straight from the screen of the film, “Corpse Bride,” the officially licensed and first Victor and Emily Movie Moment figure features Victor Van Dort and Emily holding hands beside Victor’s revived dog Scraps.
‘Fast & Furious’ collectibles race into the Hot Wheels NFT garage. Hot Wheels is launching new Hot Wheels x “Fast & Furious” Virtual Collectibles, set to release May 22 on the Mattel Creations Virtual Collectibles Marketplace. Mattel’s most-exclusive feature drop to date, the Hot Wheels NFT Garage x “Fast & Furious” collection will feature six digital collectibles per pack, with 11 different cars from the “Fast & Furious”...
Construction specialist Cobi details latest licensed builds. Cobi, a Polish toy manufacturer specialising in historical and modern military models, is set to launch major new products in Q2 and Q3 and has become a Toymaster supplier. Cobi is kicking off this year’s new launches with a model based on the renowned BAE Hawk T1 Red Arrows.
Gabby’s Dollhouse launches Gabby on the Go! DreamWorks Animation has shared details of its new touring fan experience, Gabby on the Go! based on its popular animated television series Gabby’s Dollhouse, which will travel to nine different locations across the UK and France from May to June 2023. Gabby on the Go! gives fans the opportunity to jump inside Gabby’s fantastical, animated world for an adventure...
People of Play
My toy design placement at Fuse London. Industrial Design student, Lily, talks about her placement as an intern at toy invention hub, Fuse London. Lily thanked Brunel's placement advisers for their help in securing her placement as she wouldn't have got this opportunity without them. They also assisted Lily with her CV and cover letter. Her placement has been beneficial in understanding more about digital design...
Warren Buffett says the married couple behind the maker of Squishmallows are 'ideal Berkshire managers'. Warren Buffett praised the couple who acquired Squishmallows and made the toy an internet sensation. Berkshire Hathaway owns Jazwares after acquiring the parent company in October. "Jazwares is a gem," Buffett told Reuters. "And, Judd and Laura are the ideal Berkshire managers."
TALKIN’ TOYS: RETEVIS KIDS CONNECTS FAMILIES WITH WALKIE-TALKIES. Communication is a two-way street and Retevis Kids knows all about that as a manufacturer of wireless, two-way communication equipment and accessories for both personal and commercial use. Retevis also makes products for kids, including walkie-talkies in colorful styles and fun shapes, such as mice, owls, robots, and more.
Forbidden Planet International, a leading chain of 18 pop culture retail stores, is pleased to announce the appointment of Andrew Staff as its new managing director. Andrew has extensive experience in the retail sector, having previously served as CEO of Notcutts Garden Centres, COO of the EMEA region for Funko and more recently MD of Builders Merchants UP Building Products.
HoloToyz has announced the appointment of Michelle Goodisson as its new Sales and Marketing executive. Michelle brings with her a wealth of experience in the toy industry, making her an invaluable asset to the company’s continued growth. Having cultivated her expertise through her work on numerous well-known brands, Michelle’s arrival at HoloToyz marks an exciting milestone for the company.
Meet Linda Yaccarino, Elon Musk’s New Twitter CEO and the Ad World’s ‘Velvet Hammer’. Billionaire bets that NBCUniversal executive with Madison Avenue ties will bring advertisers back to Twitter. Early in the Covid-19 lockdown, a top executive at ad-buying giant GroupM called NBCUniversal ad chief Linda Yaccarino in a frenzy. Matt Sweeney, GroupM’s chief investment officer in the U.S., was desperately trying...
Sesame Workshop has hired former Nickelodeon exec Richard Barry as senior director of brand creative on its international team. Based in New York, he officially joined in March and reports to VP of brand creative Victor Newman. In his newly created position, Barry is working with Sesame Workshop teams around the world to oversee the promotion of the Sesame Street brand outside the US.
Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street, announced the promotion of Valerie Mitchell Johnston to Executive Vice President, Legal and Business Affairs and General Counsel, effective July 1, 2023. In addition, Sesame Workshop’s Board has voted to name Johnston Board Secretary on the same date. Johnston will report to Steve Youngwood, CEO.
Toikido Strengthens U.S. Presence with Major New Hire, Establishing Toikido USA. Toikido appointed toy of industry veteran Darryl Lai as its new Managing Director for the Americas. This strategic move establishes Toikido USA. Lai will report to Will Ochoa, the company’s Chief Commercial Officer. Founded in 2020, London-based Toikido has experienced rapid success since its inception, already selling nearly 20 million...
Creative Kids introduces new sales director. Creative Kids Group has announced the appointment of Robyn Relph as sales director for the United Kingdom and Ireland. With more than six years’ sales experience in the toy industry, Robyn brings a targeted focus to sales with an organized and methodological approach. Prior to joining Creative Kids, Robyn worked as senior National Account manager for Tonies...
Riot Games global president A. Dylan Jadeja to become CEO later this year. Riot global president A. Dylan Jadeja will be stepping up as the company's new CEO later this year. Jadeja will succeed current CEO Nicolo Laurent, who held the role for six years but is preparing to move into an advisory role at the League of Legends and Valorant maker. The transition will take place over the coming months...
People of Play (POP) has appointed Jenna Stirling as Executive Director. As a former Board Director and Membership and Programs Specialist for the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA), Stirling has played a pivotal role in fostering collaboration and driving initiatives that support the growth and success of the specialty toy industry. Her expertise and experience have provided her with a comprehensive...
Companies and Brands
Kroeger, a leading wholesale distributor, is excited to announce an exclusive distribution partnership with PlayMonster, a leading int'l toy and game co, to provide sales and domestic inventory support within Canada for the PlayMonster catalogue. “We are excited to expand our sales and distribution business in Canada with the innovative line of PlayMonster products” said Grant Chapman, president of Kroeger.
P.M.I. Kids World’s licensed Pudgy Penguins toy range shot to the No. 1 spot on Amazon just 24 hours after it launched. The NFT (Non-Fungible Token) based collectibles IP Pudgy Penguins is celebrating a stellar start for its licensed toy range from master toy partner P.M.I. Kids World after it dominated the charts on Amazon just hours after launch.
Nickelodeon is aiming to give kids more agency and inspire them to become changemakers in their communities with its new Our World initiative. In partnership with five nonprofit orgs (4-H, Ashoka, Association of Children’s Museums, ChangeX and the Aspen Institute), the program launches in the US this week with digital resources, TV interstitials and social videos all designed to encourage and guide kids on how to get...
The Singing Machine Company announced the Company’s new CARE-eokeTM by Singing Machine initiative, and a strategic focus on social impact for children and adults of all ages who would benefit from singing. Singing Machine intends to form a series of collaborative partnerships, to help amplify the diverse emotional and physical health and wellness benefits of karaoke, beginning with formalizing its...
***The above posted after May 17th***
Inside the Real-Life Malibu Barbie Café Opening in NYC and Chicago. The summer of Barbiecore is upon us, especially with the highly-anticipated Barbie movie out on July 21. But Mattel is giving the world more than a just movie this summer: It also has partnered up with Bucket Listers to launch pop-up cafés in New York City and Chicago so people can literally dine like a doll in a life-size, '70s-themed Malibu Barbie Café.
Spin Master launches Bitzee interactive digital pets. Spin Master has unveiled breakthrough innovation in the digital pet category with Bitzee, digital pets that kids can really touch. Housed inside a purple pod, once opened, Bitzee pets come to life with an innovative, full colour display that kids can touch, feel and interact with – introducing an all-new play experience. In its most recent set of financial results...
The Next Big Holiday Fad Could Be These Digital Pets That Appear to Float in Mid-Air. If you’re a parent of an impressionable child: be forewarned. Like the Hatchimals of holidays past, Spin Master’s new Bitzee digital pets could be another must-have but impossible-to-find holiday gift later this year. Their hook? They use a unique, hologram-like display technology that kids can actually reach out and touch.
ANNE MCGILVRAY & CO. PLAN FLAGSHIP SHOWROOM AT DALLAS MARKET CENTER. A leading sales agency in the gift and home industry is opening a flagship showroom at Dallas Market Center (DMC). Anne McGilvray & Co. announced the opening in advance of the January 2024 Total Home & Gift Market. The 30,000-square-foot showroom will be located on the second-floor atrium of the World Trade Center in Dallas.
The Gabby on the Go! LBE is set to visit nine locations across the UK and France this summer and was launched with a celebrity photocall. DreamWorks Animation has shared details of its new touring fan experience, Gabby on the Go! based on its popular animated television series Gabby’s Dollhouse, which will travel to nine different locations across the UK and France from May to June 2023.
Dragons’ Den-backed business Mood Bears is continuing its mission to provide valuable mental health support by launching new talking bears. Jo Proud, who owns Mood Bears, last month became the first Dragons’ Den contestant to accept the backing of all five of the current line-up of Dragons – Deborah Meaden, Peter Jones, Sara Davies, Steven Bartlett and Touker Suleyman.
MAKE WAVES WITH MUSHIE. The days of brightly-colored plastic baby toys that clutter new parents’ living rooms are almost over. Now, Instagram-worthy, eco-friendly products are filling up Millennial parents’ shopping carts. A new generation of parents is finding ways to combine its love for aesthetics with the desire to purchase sustainable, ethically sourced products and baby brand Mushie is at the forefront of it all.
MGA Entertainment celebrates MGA’s Miniverse ranking in the Top 10 New Properties and named as the No. 3 Miscellaneous Toy in the UK during the first month of launch. MGA’s Miniverse launched in the UK in April this year and has already seen phenomenal growth, racking up impressive follower numbers across social media channels and partnering with some of the biggest crafting and Gen Z influencers on...
Twitter has made changes to its paid plan, allowing subscribers to upload two-hour-long videos — expanding the previous 60-minute limit.
The company also modified its Twitter Blue page and said the video file size limit for paid users is now increased from 2GB to 8GB. While earlier longer video upload was only possible from the web, now it’s also possible through the iOS app.
The Insights Family has launched its inaugural Brand Management Playbook 2023 (https://go.theinsightsfamily.com/brand), which looks to uncover, present, and discuss the key components of building a compelling brand in the kids, teens, parents, and family space. Off the back of The Insight Family’s recent industry voice 2023 survey, it is clear that almost half of professionals across the brand management...
New Faeries & Magical Creatures Game Has Fans Aflutter. According to University Games, the fast-funding initiative will accelerate the production of the game and, if it all goes as well as previous campaigns, the company will have an international release of Faeries & Magical Creatures in selected countries for Fall of 2023. Designed by the inventor of Raccoon Tycoon, Mosaic, Railroad Rivals, and Age of Empires, and...
Toys ‘R’ Us, Babies ‘R’ Us Canada plots expansion with 11 new stores opening this summer. Toys “R” Us Canada is plotting a major expansion this summer with new store concepts opening across the country. The retailer will open nine new 25,000-square-foot Toys “R” Us stores and two new 24,000-square-foot Babies “R” Us locations. .
Games Workshop unleashes new 'Warhammer Underworlds Two-Player Starter Set'. Games Workshop unleashed Warhammer Underworlds Two-Player Starter Set, an entry level miniatures boxed set, which will be headed to preorder soon. The updated starter set features two reworked warbands: Farstrider's Fighters and Sepulchral Guard.
Just like the real Thing – Wow! Stuff unveils Wednesday range. Wow! Stuff, has announced that MGM’s globally successful Wednesday brand will join its autumn portfolio, with the positively ghastly Thing leading the line-up. “We are delighted to be introducing a range of hugely innovative gifts and toys to market that reflect our passion for bringing great brands to life,” said MD, Dawn Lavalette.
Ares Games announces first 'War of the Ring' expansion. Ares Games announced Against the Shadow, the first expansion for War of the Ring: The Card Game, which will hit retail in September 2023.The new expansion, designed by Ian Brody, will feature all-new Shadow cards adapted to use with a simple flowchart. This will allow players to command the Free Peoples faction against the Shadow bots.
Days of Wonder will release 'Ticket to Ride Berlin'. Days of Wonder will release Ticket to Ride Berlin, a new base game in the Ticket to Ride line, into retail on September 30, 2023. In this game, players can discover the Unter den Linden as they explore sights like the Brandenburg Gate and the Pergamon Museum.
Reiner Knizia's 'Huang' heads to retail. Phalanx Games will release Huang, a new version of Reiner Knizia's Yellow & Yangtze, into retail on October 5, 2023. Yellow & Yangtze is a sequel to Knizia’s Tigris & Euphrates, and was last released in 2018 by Grail Games. Huang uses the same rules and mechanics of Yellow & Yangtze, but has gotten a complete makeover as far as board and box artwork.
New 'Magic: The Gathering Starter Kit 2023' inbound. Entry Level Product Includes Two Pre-Built Decks. Wizards of the Coast will release Magic: The Gathering Starter Kit 2023, an entry level product, into retail on September 8, 2023. The new starter kit is aimed at helping two newcomers learn Magic: The Gathering and dive right into their first game.
Gaming: Digital, Video, Hardware, and Development
Amazon has reached a deal with Embracer Group, the company that holds the IP rights for “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit,” to release a massively multiplayer online (MMO) game based on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. The upcoming game will be an open-world MMO adventure set in Middle-earth, featuring the stories of “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” literary trilogy.
Since its launch on May 12, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. The game is the fastest-selling Legend of Zelda game and the fastest-selling Nintendo game ever in the Americas. “Many players are returning to Hyrule with all its new mysteries and possibilities, and with the record-breaking launch of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom for Nintendo Switch...
Sega may also start charging $70 for its games. The $70 price tag is becoming a standard for all major publishers. Multiple publishers have recently started charging $70 for their games, and now Sega may join those ranks. According to a newly translated Q&A transcript from late April, Sega president Haruki Satomi and SVP Koichi Fukazawa were asked about a potential price increase.
Tears of the Kingdom surpasses 10 million sales in three days. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom has become the fastest-selling title in the history of the franchise after selling over 10 million copies in three days. The open-world adventure launched on May 12, 2023, for Nintendo Switch.
Amazon Games and Embracer team on Lord of the Rings MMO. A new Lord of the Rings game is in the works, courtesy of Amazon Games and Embracer. Through the latter's Middle-earth Enterprises subsidiary, the two companies are developing a "triple-A open-world MMO" for PC and consoles.
Highlighted Press Releases
Are you all in for Ballz’n? NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON IS A HIGH-ENERGY BALL-BOUNCING RACE TO THE HIGHEST SCORE FAMILY GAME FOR ALL AGES. Seekonk, MA (May 12, 2023) – How sharp is your hand-eye coordination? Give it a go with Ballz’n ($24.99), the newest game for tweens, teens and adults that requires merely a flick of the wrist to precisely aim then bounce a colorful plastic ball into one of three stacked bowls. The goal is to rack up the highest score. It’s harder than it looks and always leads to organized mayhem and a little trash-talking. Find Ballz’n exclusively at Amazon this week and let the bouncing (and bragging) begin.
Safety and Counterfeiting
The Japanese government has moved to ban two types of toys that have been mistakenly ingested by children in a number of incidents, calling them “tiny time bombs”. As reported in The Mainichi, the Cabinet of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida passed a decree on May 16th to ban the production and sale of magnetic toys and beads that expand when saturated, which do not meet international standards.
High levels of banned toxic chemicals found in toys and headphones. Chlorinated paraffins are toxic chemicals that accumulate and persist in the biosphere, and are banned in many countries around the world, including Canada. The chemical is commonly used to soften plastic toys and make computer cables more flexible. However, the chemicals continue to be found in dust and indoor environments, so...
Increase in toy-associated pediatric ocular injuries. Alexandre Dentel, MD, and colleagues from the Ophthalmology Department, Rothschild Foundation Hospital, Paris, conducted a retrospective study to determine the annual incidence and severity of ocular injuries related to toys in one emergency department in Paris. They reported “an increasing trend in the incidence of eye injuries associated with...
Here’s how to keep your children safe around pool toys and inflatables this summer. When it comes to pool toys, inflatables, etc., experts are encouraging parents to not solely rely on them to keep their kids safe in the water. First, don’t let the toy replace the supervision of an adult or replace appropriate floaties, vests, etc. Water wings, often used by children to stay afloat, can easily deflate and get damaged...
Associations, Shows, Awards, Events, and Festivals
The nominees for the most prestigious annual award for board games, the Spiel des Jahres, were announced alongside nominations for the Kennerspiel des Jahres and Kinderspiel des Jahres. The nominations for Spiel des Jahres are: Dorfromantik – Das Brettspiel by Michael Palm and Lukas Zach; published by Pegasus Spiele, Fun Facts by Kaspar Lapp; published by Repos Productions, Next Station...
Announcing the winners of the 2023 Cardboard Edison Award! The Cardboard Edison Award recognizes great unpublished board games. Winner: Diatoms. Designer: Sabrina Culyba. In Diatoms, you vie with your fellow players to collect and place diatom tiles to create mosaics. Take turns placing tiles representing algae colonies, earning diatoms of different colors and shapes.
***the above posted after May 19th***
Neil Leah, head of Sales at KAP Toys, was presented with a coveted Golden Teddy award at last night’s official presentation evening at the Toymaster May Show. The evening of Wednesday 17th May saw a raft of awards handed out to deserving Toymaster suppliers, ahead of the third and final day of the successful Toymaster May Show.
The submission window for Kidscreen’s Hot50, an annual ranking of the top 50 cos in kids broadcasting, production, distribution, licensing and digital media, is officially open. Applicants have until July 28 to complete an online form outlining their company’s 3 biggest achievements from the last 12 mos. Submissions can be made in more than one category, depending on the scope of a company’s business...
BlogOn Kids will be returning to the Coppid Beech Hotel in Bracknell on Saturday 21st October, alongside revamped awards for 2023. Following the success of the inaugural BlogOn Kids event in summer 2022, the organisers are delighted to announce that BlogOn Kids will be returning to the Coppid Beech Hotel in Bracknell, on Saturday 21st October.
Licensing Expo, taking place June 13-15 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, is hosting roundtable sessions with executives from numerous industry associations and businesses. Participants will meet with industry experts in distinct licensing categories and professionals who specialize in providing guidance on entering new geographical markets. Registrants will receive expert advice, insights...
License to Move is a wellness initiative designed to get the global licensing industry moving and raising valuable funds for the Light Fund charity. The initiative is being led by Informa Markets’ Global Licensing Group, with support from trade association Licensing International and key licensing media outlets. Anyone connected to the licensing industry is asked to move 5km and make a donation to...
Mattel is making sure its presence at Toy Fair 2023 is known, with a series of activations and sponsorships planned to take place throughout the fair. Mattel is sponsoring Toy Fair’s Hospitality Lounge as well as the Student Congress, which encourages students to learn about the toy industry as a potential future career.
Registration deadline for Spielwarenmesse approaches. Registration for Spielwarenmesse 2024, taking place Jan. 30-Feb. 3 at the Nuremberg Exhibition Centre in Germany, is currently open to returning exhibitors and newcomers, with special packages available to first-time exhibitors. The show will take place Tuesday to Saturday for the first time, rather than its usual Wednesday to Sunday, in an effort to...
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 readers. Archives can be found HERE
Mark Boudreaux - Legendary toy designer Mark Boudreaux has become one with the Force. We have compiled the many articles surrounding his life and passing in Mark's POP profile HERE.
Harry Bradley - Hot Wheels Designer dead at 84. When Mattel was developing their new 1/64th scale die cast toy cars in the 60's, they sought a professional car designer from Detroit to help them. They wanted their cars to look fast and cool as they zipped around plastic tracks and loops.
Mattel hired GM designer Harry Bentley Bradley, who created the original "Sweet Sixteen" Hot Wheels cars, including his Dodge Deora showcar, and later, an Oscar Meyer Weinermobile loosely based on his 1995 version (recently renamed "The Frankmobile"—yuk!). So, both Hot Wheels and Hot Dog cars.
Brendan O'Brien, original Crash Bandicoot actor, died at age 60. Brendan O'Brien, the original voice actor for Crash Bandicoot, has passed away at the age of 60. The multitalented actor died on March 23, with word of his passing only spreading after an obituary surfaced online.
Born on May 9, 1962, O'Brien first started his acting career at the age of 10 with the 1973 film Honor Thy Father. From then on, he appeared in films and shows such as P.U.N.K.S., Hollywood Chaos, and Todd MacFarlane's Spawn. He took a break from acting altogether starting in 2004, which ended with The CW's Riverdale in 2020.
Starting in 1996, O'Brien voiced Crash and his nemesis Neo Cortex in the original Crash Bandicoot game. He'd go on to voice those two, along with other franchise characters like N. Gin, Tiny Tiger, and Komodo Moe during Naughty Dog's tenure with the franchise, and in the early days after the series was sold to Universal Interactive.
He later bowed out of the Crash series with 2001's Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex. However, his voice would be used via archive recordings for sequels such as 2004's Crash Purple: Ripto's Rampage, and Naughty Dog's Uncharted 4: A Thief's End in 2016.
Speaking to his time as Crash, his obituary page notes that he "encouraged nostalgic Crash fans in their own pursuits and loved signing their memorabilia."
Following his passing, the official Twitter for the Crash franchise wrote that O'Brien "was an incredible talent who brought Crash Bandicoot and other Crash characters to life. He will forever live on in the hearts of Crash fans."
Bob Smith - Atari 2600 programmer Bob Smith, a programmer at Atari, passed away on May 13. Time Extension saw the news of his passing from Smith's co-worker, Seamus Blackley on Twitter.
Blackley referred to Smith as "common name for such an uncommon man...if you play videogames of any type, this brilliant and kind man’s work and craft are part of you."
In the early 1980s, Smith was a programmer for Atari, particularly the Atari 2600. His first game was 1980's Video Pinball, and he would later go on to develop for titles such as 1983's Star Wars: The Arcade Game, and 1995's Solar Eclipse.
Smith also co-founded game developer Imagic in 1981 with Bill Grubb, Rob Fulop, and Dennis Koble. All four were Atari alums, and marked the Atari 2600's second third-party publisher after Activision in 1979.
Imagic went defunct in 1986, and during its lifetime released 24 titles, including 1982's Atlantis and Moonsweeper in 1983. The studio was heavily affected by 1983's video game, and was sued by Atari over the game Demon Attack, which Atari said resembled 1980's Phoenix. The two companies later settled out of court.
According to Smith's son, Adam Smith, Smith worked at Bally Sente in the later half of the 80s. His one game, Moonquake, never got released.
Later on at Accolade, he worked on Barkley Shut Up and Jam and its sequel. He was then the lead coder on the never-finished Star Control 4, which was canceled after Star Control 3 failed to meet expectations. Smith retired in the early 2000s to Oregon. He was 73 when he died on Saturday, in Clackamas, OR.
Worldwide Magazines Weekly Top Stories
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Toy Trade Monthly Issues
Adventure Media & Events (US)
Exclusive: JAKKS Pacific Set to Unleash Sonic Prime Toy Collection this Summer (The Toy Book)
Exclusive: Play Visions, OgoSport Strike Distribution Deal (The Toy Book)
Calling All Toy and Game Makers: Submit Your New Products for The Toy Insider’s 2023 Holiday Gift Guide! (The Toy Insider)
Skip Hop Readies Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Products (The Toy Book)
Spin Master Unveils New Interactive Digital Pet Bitzee (The Toy Book)
The Dark Knight Returns to LEGO for a Massive New Batcave Set (The Pop Insider)
Jazwares Partners With Sanrio as Master Toy Licensee for Hello Kitty and Friends (The Toy Book)
Disguise Enters Licensing Agreement with MGA Entertainment (The Toy Book)
Toys 'R' Us, Babies 'R' Us Canada Plots Expansion (The Toy Book)
aNb Media (US)
Posts Friday morning.
Just like the real Thing – Wow Stuff unveils Wednesday range
Spielwarenmesse reminds exhibitors that registration is live