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May 27 - June 3, 2022

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Welcome to Your Weekly News Brief!

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Happy Bloomin’ Friday!

We’re throwing a POP Pub Party next week on June 14th in Long Beach, CA!!!  Come one, come all! Join us at the Auld Dubliner from 6 to 11pm. There is no cost to attend, but we do need a headcount for our hosts at the pub, so please RSVP HERE!  

 

Huge THANK YOU to GPI, theyt are generously sponsoring the first $1500 in drinks.We plan to raise a glass to toymakers of all stripes, to summertime, and especially to friends. We’ll snap lots of photos and share them here like these from DISTOY just over a week ago. See you there!

Bonus - if you haven't already registered for ASTRA, you can register for a day (or more)  and walk the floor before crossing the street to the pub! I'm sure you'll see a lot of friendly faces on the show floor. 

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

Mary

"I am a long-time reader and champion of the Bloom Report. The quantity of quality articles on so many different aspects of our industry  is unmatched and  I regularly share and discuss them with my management team as an important business tool." 

- Jim Engle, President and Founder, Little Kids Inc. 

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Industry Commentary - Patrick Matthews

Find the Story

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There have been a lot of articles written about the success of Wordle, and no wonder. Over the span of less than a year, it grew to have over two million players. If you haven’t played it, the game gives you six chances to guess a five letter word. After each guess, it tells you if each letter of your guess is in the word.

 

There are all sorts of arguments as to what that first word should be. Should you try to find vowels or just the most common letters? Should that first word be the opening half of a pair of words designed to give the highest chance of success?

 

As you can probably guess, I’m a Wordle fan, and not just because I like word games. What fascinates me about it is that it’s the first game I played where I realized that a game can put a player in a story without actually being about a story.

 

Games with stories are as numerous as they are successful. Take a look at any “best games” list and you’ll see how dominant story-centered games are: Villainous, Betrayal at House on the Hill, The Night Cage, Pandemic, Ticket to Ride, Catan, King of Tokyo, Lost Cities, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and literally hundreds more.

 

Most people wouldn’t put Wordle in that list. It has no story, right?

Read More. . .

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Highlighted Podcast Series - Toy Stories by GPI

Finding the Secret Sauce

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In the final episode of Season 1, we chat with industry favorite, Mary Couzin, founder of Chicago Toy & Game Group, Inc. dba People of Play. 

 

We talk with Mary about how she found her way into the toy industry and how she eventually became a leader in creating a community for inventors.  We talk about games and ask Mary if her years of experience have revealed a secret sauce for success.  Also, we ask Mary a question she's never been asked before.  Listen in to hear the daring question and more. 

Read More. . .

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3 Truths and a Lie of the Week - Troy Fischer

To be part of the game, all you need is a POP Profile with your Fun Facts completed and let us know! We'll do the rest! 

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Financial and Legal

ASMODEE, DARK HORSE PARENT RAISING $1.05 BILLION. From Saudi Sovereign Wealth Fund. "Savvy Gaming Group’s investment of $1B enables us to continue executing our strategy proactively from a position of strength across the global gaming industry," Embracer Group CEO Lars Wingefors said of the new investment.  "Our relationship with Savvy Gaming Group will enable us to set up a regional hub in Saudi Arabia...

Toy World acquires ToyNews and Licensing.bizThe deal, which marks Alakat Publishing Ltd’s first-ever acquisition, will see both titles transfer over to the publisher of Toy World, strengthening its grip on the toy market and allowing the company to extend its activity in the licensing sphere.

The agreement will see both titles being taken over by Toy World following a brief handover period, after which ToyNews will no longer be published as a standalone magazine or website. However, Licensing.biz will continue as a news-focused website, and Toy World plans to make the website even more informative and relevant to the core licensing community.

 

Hasbro announced the preliminary results at the 2022 Annual Meeting of Shareholders, as provided by its proxy solicitors, which indicate that Hasbro shareholders have voted, with a substantial margin, to re-elect all 13 of Hasbro’s highly qualified directors to the Hasbro Board: Richard Stoddart, Kenneth Bronfin, Michael Burns, Hope Cochran, Chris Cocks, Lisa Gersh, Elizabeth Hamren, Blake Jorgensen, Tracy Leinbach, Edward Philip, Laurel Richie, Mary Beth West and Linda Zecher Higgins. Similarly, the Company’s say-on-pay proposal and auditor ratification were approved by the shareholders.

iCandy acquires Flying Sheep Studios establishing its presence in the European gaming market. In the video games area, the European gaming market is expected to be worth USD 27.4 billion in 2021. With its web technology that is size- and speed-efficient with cleaner and neater code, as well as lower server load, Flying Sheep Studios’ in-house HTML5 developer capabilities ensure on-time, high-quality games. 

 

***The above was posted after June 3rd***

 

Reliance Brands Ltd (RBL) and Plastic Legno SPA have signed a joint venture arrangement through which RBL will acquire 40% stake in Plastic Legno SPA’s toy manufacturing business in India. This investment by RBL will help to bring in vertical integration for RBL’s toy business and help diversify the supply chain to manufacture toys in the country.

 

Hasbro issued the following letter to Hasbro shareholders in connection with the Company’s 2022 annual meeting of shareholders (the “2022 Annual Meeting”) to be held on June 8, 2022. For information about the 2022 Annual Meeting, please visit: www.HasbroGamePlan.com. The full text of the letter follows.

 

Italian group Artsana, the parent company of Chicco and Prénatal, has acquired Toys R Us Ibérica from a Portuguese fund. The local competition authority, Autoridade da Concorrência (AdC) was notified of the deal on May 24th. According to the AdC, the purchase includes the acquisition of Toys R Us Ibérica, which includes the Spanish arm of the company and a Portuguese subsidiary, as part of the Prénatal Retail Group. 

 

Proxy advisory firm Glass Lewis on Friday recommended that Hasbro shareholders reelect all of the company's director nominees, dealing a blow to hedge fund Alta Fox's effort to replace three board members. "We do not believe there is a sufficient basis to support the board changes sought by (Alta Fox)," Glass Lewis wrote in its report, adding "the preponderance of the evidence validates Hasbro's strategy and business model."

 

Walmart is using its thousands of stores to battle Amazon for e-commerce market share. Walmart is increasingly relying on its vast network of stores to build out its e-commerce business. “The store is becoming a shoppable fulfillment center,” Tom Ward, chief e-commerce officer for Walmart U.S., said in his first interview since stepping into the role.

Shanghai lockdown: Relief and caution as city returns to life. It was supposed to last just nine days - a staggered lockdown to lessen the impact on Shanghai's economy, state media said. It lasted 65 days. It crippled the city and scarred its people. Restrictions are now being eased as quickly as they were imposed. There's no gradual process over several weeks. Instead, there's a big bang - one day when most of the …

UK retail footfall forecast to rise by 8% over the Jubilee bank holiday. Following a modest rise in footfall last week, retail experts Springboard predict the Platinum Jubilee and school half-term holiday will cause footfall in retail destinations to surge by as much as 8% over the bank holiday weekend. Springboard anticipates an uplift of as much as 10% in high streets, 7% in shopping centers and 4% in retail parks.

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Financial Reporting

Build-A-Bear reports record $117.7M in revenue

Macy’s, Inc. reports first quarter 2022 results and raises earnings guidance

Net profit at The Pokémon Company up 123% year-on-year

Chicco parent company buys Iberian Toys R Us

Niko: Chinese console market tops $2bn. 80% of console software and services revenues comes from grey market sales, forecasts growth to $2.53 billion by 2026.

Supercell buys majority stake in Love & Pies dev Trailmix and invests $60 million.

 

Sales in GameStop’s Collectibles category grew substantially in the company’s fiscal Q1 ended April 30, 2022, as inventory and expenses grew in a money-losing quarter

‘The Bob’s Burgers Movie’ Is Disney’s Most Successful 2D Release Since ‘The Princess And The Frog’.  Disney’s The Bob’s Burger’s Movie opened at #3, earning a modest $15 million (estimated) over the four-day Memorial Day weekend, with $12.6m of that amount posted over the standard weekend period.

 

Trends, Market Research, and State of the Industry

 

At the recent Toymaster Show, Sam Giltrow caught up with a selection of indie retailers to find out how business is faring.

 

GLOBAL TOY SALES GROW 1% AS UNIT SALES DECLINE

 

TOP 20 ADULT GRAPHIC NOVELS

MAY 2022 NPD BOOKSCAN - TOP 20 KIDS GRAPHIC NOVELS

 

***The above was posted after June 3rd***

 

The compelling value of the global toy market. Frédérique Tutt, Vice President, Industry Analyst, Toys

Report blasts "manipulative" video game loot boxes

 

U.S. RETAIL SALES GROW AS FED FACES ‘TRICKY JOB’ WITH INFLATION, NRF SAYS

 

Apple Generated More Gaming Revenue Than Xbox Console Maker Microsoft In 2021: Here's How

TOP 50 COMICS - MAY 2022

TOP 20 GRAPHIC NOVELS - MAY 2022

 

DIAMOND TOP 400 GRAPHIC NOVELS--APRIL 2022

 

DIAMOND TOP 400 COMICS--APRIL 2022

 

ANALYSIS I The Insights Family on the booming creator economy

 

Toyjobs has been the dominant recruiting

Stories, Comments, and Advice

 

This game designer predicted COVID 10 years ago. Here’s what’s coming next. According to Jane McGonigal, the pandemic wasn’t unimaginable. “We just didn’t have a critical mass of people imagining it.” In January 2020, when the coronavirus started making headlines around the world, Jane McGonigal’s inbox was flooded with emails from Silicon Valley execs, government officials, and nonprofit leaders. 

Content underpinning Action Figures & Collectibles. Everything from video gaming, anime and even NFTs is helping to push characters in the Action Figures & Collectibles market to the fore, as Sam Giltrow discovers. ‘Get off your Xbox’ is what many parents can be heard yelling up and down the country, but it’s fair to say that these very games are leading to a new way of play and reshaping the Action Figures & Collectibles sector.

 

Moneeba Baloch, Consumer Insights director at Kantar, explores how grandparents are helping out when it comes to treating the kids. Official data from the Office for National Statistics shows that inflation soared at its fastest rate for 30 years in February. As high street prices rise, almost 60% of households are now worried about spiralling costs and, as parents’ budgets are squeezed, they may spend less on toys. 

 

How Lockdowns Unlocked A Children’s Privacy Problem. A recent Human Rights Watch report on data-tracking related to virtual schooling reveals gaps in how kids use internet platforms and how government policies protect them. For families, teachers and governments, the pandemic threw a monkey wrench into the well-oiled education machine. In some cases, established tech platforms filled the need for virtual...

 

Kidcos Map Out Early Metaverse Strategies.  Genius Brands International, Dark Slope and Star Stable are placing big bets on what’s next in kids content, and using digital expertise to shape the future of the metaverse as it unfolds. It’s more than just a buzzy idea, but far from a concrete space yet. But nevertheless, kidcos are starting to place big bets on the metaverse, with business strategies rooted in the real world...

 

When Shipping Containers Sink in the Drink.  We’ve supersized our capacity to ship stuff across the seas. As our global supply chains grow, what can we gather from the junk that washes up on shore? here is a stretch of coastline in southern Cornwall known for its dragons. The black ones are rare, the green ones rarer; even a dedicated dragon hunter can go a lifetime without coming across a single one.

UNPACKING THE PREVALENCE OF MYSTERY AND DEDUCTION IN TABLETOP GAMING. Many of the newest games hitting store shelves and gamers’ too-full storage closets can be boiled down to a simple, three-word question: Who done it? Or, more colloquially, whodunnit? Games that center on mystery — of both the crime-solving and social deduction persuasion — have been a long-standing staple in the category. 

 

***The above posted after June 3rd***

 

What Kids Actually Think About The Metaverse. KidsKnowBest surveys kids on what they know about the metaverse...and discovers it’s all about the shoes. Although we’ve been talking about transmedia for over a decade now, the form it takes keeps changing. Right now, it’s being reshaped—and resold—as the metaverse, an amorphous form billed by techcos and pundits as the future of how we will interact with media...

 

A Guide To Building A Neurodiverse Workforce. Leading kids entertainment companies are embracing practices that nurture neurodiverse talent—and finding there are a multitude of benefits. The past two years have seen companies take meaningful strides towards establishing workplaces that are diverse, equitable and inclusive, but barriers continue to exist for neurodiverse job candidates. 

As Ezra Miller Scandals Mount, What Options Does Warner Bros. Have for ‘The Flash’?  The upcoming comic book adventure, which completed production in 2021 and is scheduled to debut in theaters in 2023, has been extraordinarily well received in early test screenings, according to sources close to the movie. Given DC Films’ inconsistent track record in fielding commercial hits, initial reception that “The Flash"...

This is MerMay, the monthlong art challenge in which artists are invited to create a work depicting a mermaid every day and then post it online with the hashtag #mermay. In 2016, Tom Bancroft, a former Disney animator, drew two lounging mermaids looking at their "shell phones," a scene inspired by his own daughters. When he posted the image on social media, it went viral, he told NPR.

 

RAISING THE BAR: THE FORGOTTEN TRADEMARK RIGHT — TRADE DRESS. The COVID-19 pandemic has fueled an uptick in toy sales, and the ever-increasing percentage of e-commerce sales makes product appearance — as opposed to packaging — more important than ever. In many cases, the outer packaging is not shown at the digital point of purchase and consumers see the product itself instead. 

 

THE BENEFITS OF CLASSIC PLAY After two years of dealing with a once-in-a-century pandemic, consumers are longing for in-person, real-world experiences to interact with one another. But between a massive increase in screen time and social distancing, it seems as though interpersonal communication skills have atrophied, especially with the younger generation. 

 

PAINTING A PICTURE OF WELLNESS IN THE ACTIVITIES CATEGORY.  The ideal childhood should be made up of rainbows and butterflies without a worry in sight‭, ‬but kids today are growing up in a hectic world and it’s taking a toll on their mental health‭. ‬As a result‭, ‬manufacturers are creating more toys in the activities category that are incorporating themes of wellness and mindfulness to help kids process their emotions and learn important life skills‭.‬

This is the world’s most expensive Rubik’s Cube. The Rubik’s Cube is named for its inventor Erno Rubik. For those who are curious, he was a professor of architecture at the Budapest College of Applied Arts when he made a prototype of the toy by hand. It is sometimes said that Rubik invented the Rubik’s Cube because he wanted something that would make it easier for his students to understand 3D objects. 

 

French officials told to abandon gaming Anglicisms. France's language watchdog has told government officials to use French gaming terms instead of English ones. The Académie Française says "jeu video de competition" should replace "e-sports", and "streamer" should become "joueur-animateur en direct". France's culture ministry told the AFP news agency that Anglicisms were "a barrier to understanding". 

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History and Nostalgia

 

Strange Change Machine from Mattel (1968). In 1968, 25 years before Jurassic Park hit cinemas, Mattel introduced Strange Change Machine, a clever toy that allowed children to “magically” create their own prehistoric creatures. Where the movie scenario relied on DNA, fossils, and amber, Strange Change Machine’s magic lay in plastic polymers, injection molding, and electron beaming. Mattel manfactured “time capsules,” small, square pieces of plastic stamped with the company’s logo on one side.

 

Ultra-rare Pokémon 'Pikachu' illustrator card expected to reach seven figures at Heritage Auctions June 11-12. An exceptionally rare Pokémon card appears destined to be the first ever to top $1 million when it is sold in Heritage Auctions’ Trading Card Games Signature Auction June 11-12. The Pokémon “Pikachu” Illustrator Unnumbered Promo CoroCoro Comics PSA Trading Card Game 9 (The Pokémon Company, 1998) (estimate: $2.5 million+) is a spectacular card and exceedingly scarce. It initially was available only through a CoroCoro Comics ....

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Licensing 

 

‘GHOSTBUSTERS’ ANIMATED SERIES IN THE WORKS FROM NETFLIX, SONY PICTURES ANIMATION. Who ya gonna call? In Netflix’s case, Jason Reitman and Gil Kenan of Ghost Corps Inc. The duo behind last year’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife and stewards for the future of Ghost Corps will executive produce a new Ghostbusters animated series that Sony Pictures Animation is developing with Netflix.

 

Clash at the Castle set to boost WWE success. Almost a $1b global brand at retail, WWE is a heavyweight licence, and set to get even bigger with the staging of the first UK stadium show in 30 years. Sam Giltrow chats to WWE’s VP of Licensing & Retail Consumer Products, Carl Lawrence, to find out what the big event will mean for the brand, and toy retailers. Michael Hick, VP and GM for Mattel, which has enjoyed a rich and long...

‘ADA TWIST, SCIENTIST’ CELEBRATES THE WONDERS OF EVERYDAY SCIENCE. Why is the sky blue? What is a bird’s nest made of‭? ‬How does electricity work‭? ‬The world is full of mysteries‭, ‬but as the‭ ‬Ada Twist, Scientist‭ ‬theme song says‭, ‬“a mystery‭, ‬a riddle‭, ‬a puzzle‭, ‬or a quest‭, ‬there are wonders to discover and hypotheses to test‭!‬”‭ ‬

***The above posted after June 3rd***

 

Planet Ankama has acquired international distribution rights to preschool series Cricket Pang from Seoul-based You Need Character. The French distributor will sell the 2D-animated show in Europe, the US, Canada, MENA, Australia and New Zealand. Cricket Pang is a sport-driven adventure series in which Pang the elephant and his four friends play cricket in their small forest village. 

 

HERSHEY IS BUILDING A SWEET LICENSING PROGRAM FOR CLASSIC TREATS. You may not want a candy bar sitting on your shelf for years‭, ‬but you can show off your sweet tooth in other ways with Hershey-branded collectibles that will last forever‭. ‬Funko recently released both a plush and a vinyl version of a Hershey’s Kiss‭, ‬and opened preorders for a Funko Pop‭!-‬ified Hershey’s Milk Chocolate‭ ‬Bar and a pack of Twizzlers with...

Moonbug Entertainment’s wildly successful animated kids YouTube series CoComelon has been taking over the toy industry — and the hearts of kids worldwide. With multiple licensing partnerships, there are so many different types of toys available for CoComelon fans. We’ve rounded up some of our favorites below:  

 

We all know that high school can be a hellish place, but Monster High takes it to a whole new level with the latest Skullector Doll. Dracula is joining the ghoulish gang known as the Monster High Skullector series in a collaboration between Mattel and Universal Pictures. The Mattel Creations designers paid homage to one of the original Universal Monsters and the 1931 horror film Dracula with the iconic ...

 

In celebration of Lightyear releasing in theaters on June 17, Disney and Pixar have created a short video series to showcase the upcoming, out-of-this-world toys. In the three-part series, Buzz Lightyear and his team undergo Space Ranger training and take on Zurg in intergalactic combat. Check out the videos below, as well as more details about Mattel‘s newest action figures and ships featured in the series.

 

Green Kids Club (GKC) is expanding its Environmental Heroes books into audiobooks and a TV series. Authored by GKC founder Sylvia Medina, the preschool book series features nine titles. The stories focus on wild animals exploring the natural world and surviving challenges, often with the help of human companions. GKC has licensed the books to Miami-based Storypod to develop audiobooks. 

 

Flix, the upcoming TV adaptation of Tomi Ungerer’s book of the same name, has been picked up by ABC Australia. Targeting kids four to seven, the 2D-animated series (13 x 11 minutes) was first announced in 2016 and was commissioned by Irish pubcaster RTÉ last year. The book was published in 1997 by Zurich-based Diogenes Verlag and centers on Flix, the only dog growing up in a town of cats. 

 

Nickelodeon is bringing stop-motion preschool series Kiri & Lou to US audiences for the first time.  The network has acquired seasons one and two (52 x five minutes) for Nick Jr. from London-based distributor CAKE. It will launch on June 13, and a 42 x five-minute third season is expected to air later this year. Following the premiere, episodes and short-form content from the series will also be available on the Nick Jr. ...

 

Paris-based distributor Superights has picked up season two (52 x five minutes) of French animation studio Le Regard Sonore’s Koumi’s Animated Picture Book.  The educational series, which blends 2D animation and live-action footage, premiered in 2020 on French channels Piwi+ and TV5Monde. Broadcasters including UYoung (China), TFO (Canada), Minno (US), RTVS (Slovenia) and LTV (Latvia) have all aired season...

 

Ahead of the release of Marvel Studios' Ms. Marvel, the latest Marvel Legends from Hasbro has arrived showcasing the titular star. Available for pre-order on June 8 (hey, that's the same day Ms. Marvel premieres on Disney+!), take a peek at the new Kamala figure. Featuring multiple points of articulation, along with a second set of hands, the highly detailed is perfect for any Super Hero collection — or Super Hero-in...

 

Stranger Things Season 4 launched on 27th May, and KAP Toys is celebrating the success of its short lead time Mystery Capsule launch. 

KAP Toys is the distributor of the YuMe toys brand in the UK & Ireland. The partnership has enjoyed proven success to date, including with the best-selling Warner Bros. licensed Harry Potter toys and the development of the Toikido Among Us collection.

 

To celebrate the Care Bear’s 40th anniversary, Corus Entertainment’s Nelvana, owner of the Care Bears ent brand, are bringing the iconic Care Bears brand to life through food, apparel, and experiential event collaborations with companies across Canada. “We’re honored to pay homage to 40 incredible years of the Care Bears, and to provide opportunities for the devoted fan base in Canada to join in on...

MasterPieces adds its new NFL licensed All-Time Greats puzzles and playing cards, as well as      popular  NCAA team,  MLB,  NFL  and  NHL league and sports team versions of Tumble Tower, Poker Chip sets and dozens of new puzzle designs in its Locker Room and Gameday Collections. More teams are offered in MasterPieces popular puzzles, games, and toys. In addition, the co’s Baby Fanatic infant ...

Red Monk Studio and Sphere Animation (formerly Sardine Productions) are proud to announce their cooperation to develop Nadia: a 52×11’ animated show that aims to charm kids from upper preschool to age 9. This project, created by the talented Caterina Cappelli, marks the first partnership between both studios, which are eager to present the series next month at MIFA during the Annecy animation festival.

 

Fresh off their mano-a-shell battles with characters from one classic 1980s franchise, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles return to the big hair era for another series of pop culture crossovers, this time with Street Fighter. Playmates ToysCapcom and Nickelodeon announced the upcoming Street Fighter vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles collection, timed with the best-selling game’s 35th anniversary in 2022, and...

Strictly’s Johannes Radebe comes on board for Pride Tales Tonie. Ahead of Pride Month in June, children’s audio system tonies is excited to launch Pride Tales, a Tonie dedicated to celebrating and reinforcing positive Pride messages for little listeners and their families. Narrated by television favourite and professional dancer Johannes Radebe, the Pride Tales Tonie takes the shape of the famous Pride Rainbow. 

 

Cartamundi is celebrating HM The Queen’s seven decades on the throne by launching a Royal Flush Limited edition Platinum Jubilee playing card deck. The colourful and quirky decks designed by JJ from jjillustrates.co.uk, feature beautiful soft patriotic graphics that complement this historic occasion. The decks have landed at WHSmith Travel stores as a “see it first” and will roll out across retail. 

 

Mattel UK’s marketing director, Kelly Philip, tells Toy World what’s on offer within the new Lightyear toy range, and how the co.’s long-standing relationship with Disney has allowed it to lean into the studio’s expertise.  What can you tell us about the Lightyear movie? The new movie is Buzz Lightyear’s origin story, and it has been so exciting to see the toy range develop to introduce new characters to this beloved... 

 

ZAG has signed an exclusive agreement with Emoji Company to develop and launch a one-of-a-kind collaboration that will combine the strength of two power brands, Miraculous – Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir and emoji.  The announcement was made by Julian Zag, EVP Global Operations and Head of Consumer Products, ZAG, and Marco Hüsges, CEO and Founder, The Emoji Company.

 

Three new series for children have been greenlit by Australia’s public broadcaster as part of its just-announced lineup for 2022/2023. Educational series Reef School will air on preschool-skewing channel ABC Kids, with narration from Emma Watkins, a former member of superstar kids music group The Wiggles. The show dives underwater to explore an imaginary Australian coral reef through the lens of the ...

 

Set for a 2023 premiere, Dream It To Be It will connect kids (including many with disabilities) with experts to give them a taste of their dream jobs.  Canadian pubcasters TVOKids and Knowledge Kids have greenlit Toronto-based Lopii Productions’ new unscriped docu-style series about making kids’ dreams come true.

 

Hello Kitty and Kuromi head to Hot Topic with exclusive Squishmallows. Sweeten up your Squishmallows collection with two new Hot Topic exclusives featuring some of your favorite Sanrio characters: Hello Kitty and Kuromi. These 8-inch styles from Jazwares feature Hello Kitty with a red outfit and red bow, holding a tasty cup of bubble tea, and Kuromi wearing her signature black jester’s hat with a pink skull on it. 

 

Fred Rogers Productions, 9 Story Brands ink 16 licensing deals for ‘Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood’. Fred Rogers Productions, the media organization behind animated series Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, and its licensing agent 9 Story Brands have signed 16 licensing agreements with both new and existing partners for the show’s licensing program.  The upcoming Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood product offerings...

Lego Technic Ferrari Daytona SP3 on the starting grid. The new Lego Technic Ferrari Daytona SP3 is a 3,778-piece model, packed full of details and functions that embody the engineering prowess and elegant design of the sports racer. To capture the essence of racing spirit at the heart of the Ferrari brand, the new 1:8 scale Lego Technic model boasts a functioning 8-speed sequential gearbox with paddle shifter, a V12 engine...

 

Rubies expands Wizarding World range with new character costumes and accessories. Rubies have helped to bring the magic of the Wizarding World to life through their range of officially licensed costumes for years, being trusted by fans and customers alike to help re-create the Wizarding World in anyone’s home. Now, the phenomenally successful range of bewitching costumes is expanding...

 

More details of second PAW Patrol movie released. Following the massive global success of PAW Patrol: The Movie, Spin Master Entertainment, Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies has revealed the first new star voice talent being added to the cast of the upcoming PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie. Preschoolers’ favourite team of pups will return to the big screen with Academy Award-nominated and Golden Globe-winning...

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People of Play

“Power Kid Podcast,” welcomes Cassidy Smith, president of the Uniche Collective to the show. For 18 yrs, Smith — an incoming member of ASTRA's board of directors — served as VP of sales and marketing at Hape Int'l. Now, as president of its new specialty division, the Uniche Collective, Smith and his team scour the globe to find and develop products exclusively for savvy specialty customers.

 

Opening a new world to children through the joy of reading has been a lifelong mission for LeVar Burton, so the legendary actor, presenter, director, podcaster and author is taking on a new role as the Chief Reading Officer (CRO) for Osmo from BYJU’S. Burton has been a high-profile advocate of reading for decades and was drawn to the engaging way Osmo from BYJU’S uses technology to help children...

 

Former WB. Discovery Exec Steps Into Lead Content Role At PBS KIDS.  Adriano Schmid has more than two decades of experience in producing educational kids content, and will start at the US pubcaster later this month. He brings more than two decades of experience in development and production to the role, and will oversee the PBS KIDS team and its full content library.

PlayMonster is proud to announce the appointment of Darby Zahradnik to the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association’s (ASTRA) Board of Directors. This appointment supports the company’s continued commitment to serve specialty toy retailers in North America. Zahradnik will serve on the Board of Directors for a three year term, serving through 2025. 

 

***The above posted after June 3rd***

 

Brian Levant Publishes ‘My Life and Toys’. Countless writers have sought to capture the history of American pop culture in magazines, newspapers and books, but the material artifacts are often an afterthought. In My Life and Toys, acclaimed director, writer, and producer, Brian Levant places his extraordinary collection of toys from comics, TV, and films on the center stage. 

 

Mary Coleman has been named chief creative officer at CG animation studio Locksmith. This is a brand-new position for the London-based company, and it will see her overseeing development and supporting filmmakers through the process. Coleman officially starts in July, but it’s not clear yet whether she will work in London or from her current LA base. Locksmith—which only launched in 2014—plans to expand its...

 

CELEBRATING 10 YEARS OF RAINBOW LOOM ON THE ‘POWER KID PODCAST’. Following a quick recap on the backstory of the TOTY and TAGIE-winning Rainbow Loom, Albritton, Ng, and Minor delve into the empowering nature of Rainbow Loom play and the social capital that kids build with it. Rainbow Loom is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, and Ng and Minor discuss how they’ve worked to keep the brand...

With M&A activity ramping up alongside the popularity of its IPs, Moonbug Entertainment confirmed today that chief content officer David Levine is exiting the company. “We thank David for his dedication and hard work leading Moonbug Studios through a period of significant growth,” a Moonbug spokesperson told Kidscreen. The company didn’t confirm the exact date of Levine’s departure or if he is being...

 

INTERVIEW: Richard Denning, Co-Director of UK Games Expo. This weekend, the UK Games Expo, the UK’s largest board game convention, returns to the NEC, Birmingham. Ahead of the event, we caught up with Co-Director Richard Denning, to talk about his career journey from NHS medic to board game inventor and event organiser, and the many ups and (lock)downs along the way.

 

B&M has promoted chief financial officer Alex Russo to the role of chief executive, following the recent announcement that current CEO Simon Arora is to step down. Alex Russo, who joined B&M in October 2020, previously held senior positions at Asda, Tesco and Kingfisher, while he also worked in finance at Wilko. According to the retailer, his appointment reflects the outcome of a thorough assessment and external benchmarking process, which has taken place over the last six weeks.

 

Fun In Motion Toys is pleased to announce the promotion of Sadie Stewart to the new position of VP of Finance and Administration. She joined the organization in 2021 as the head of finance and has since taken on many additional responsibilities leading to this new departmental leadership role. “Sadie brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to this new assignment from her 10 plus yrs in public accounting, including...

 

Following a period of acceleration in the co’s growth and production volume, Xilam Animation is further expanding with the appt of Julie Apperé in the newly created position of Talent Scout – Head of Talent Acquisition and Management. Apperé is a highly respected and valued professional; by all artists, creative talent, technicians and production colleagues alike. In this newly created position, she will...

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Companies and Brands

 

NEW IN TOWN: [MODI]FYING THE TOY AISLE. Growing up in the U.S., Modi Toys Co-Founders Avani Modi Sarkar and her brother Viral always felt connected to their South Asian roots and their Hindu heritage. It wasn’t until they both became parents that they realized something was missing: There were no resources to cultivate that same link to Hinduism for their kids. 

 

ThreeSixty Group‘s MerchSource tapped PlayWise Partners to serve as the official public relations agency of record for its FAO Schwarz brand, including the full portfolio of FAO Schwarz toys and the flagship retail store located in New York City’s Rockefeller Plaza. “We are excited to partner with PlayWise and benefit from their leadership as veteran PR experts in the toy industry,” says MerchSource CMO Jill Nordquist.

 

Just Play announced the release of a Ukraine Relief Special Edition Slinky in partnership with The Toy Foundation (TTF) to provide humanitarian aid for Ukrainian children and families. The blue and yellow Slinky is available now at Amazon, Meijer, and other retailers for $5, with 100% of profits funding Ukraine relief efforts through TTF’s Emergency Relief Fund.

Marvel Comics and Penguin Random House Publisher Services (PRHPS) have signed an exclusive multi-year sales and distribution deal that will shift book-channel distribution of Marvel’s trades and original graphic novels, both new and backlist, to PHRPS. The new contract will begin with books that go on sale on April 1, 2023. 

Devir Games announced that it will publish Schmidt Spiele's titles in English for the U.S. market starting in 2022.  Under this agreement, Devir Games will publish new Schmidt Spiele titles as well as reprint titles from the Drei Magier line in English. The first releases in this agreement includes Reiner Knizia’s Mille Fiori, a card drafting game, that launched at Essen Spiele 2021.

 

Forever 21 collaboration with Mattel brings Barbie to the metaverse. The fast-fashion retailer is partnering with global toy company Mattel to release a special assortment of vintage style apparel items, swim, sleepwear, beauty, accessories, and home décor, inspired by the Mattel Barbie DreamHouse line of toys. The collection will be simultaneously available in-store, online, and in the “Forever 21 Shop City” immersive...

 

Leading toy manufacturer Funskool India has acquired the rights from Asmodee to manufacture and distribute its popular game Abalone in India.  R Jeswant, CEO of Funskool, said, "For Funskool, it is another big step forward in our Make in India programme. More of such initiatives will follow.”

 

Children’s audio system Tonies has unveiled a new line-up for the summer including Peppa Pig’s George, Tee and Mo, Swan Lake, Pinocchio and Monty & Co, as well as superheroes Owlette, Catboy and Gekko as the PJ Masks. Launching in June and July, they will be joined by Pride Tales, a Tonie dedicated to celebrating and reinforcing positive Pride messages for listeners and their families, which launches for Pride Month in June.

 

L.O.L. Surprise UK hosted an exclusive pop-up in Hamleys Regent Street to mark the Platinum Jubilee. Visitors were “royally wowed” as the L.O.L. Surprise! take over of Hamleys’ Regent Street store showcased the new Queens range over the bank holiday weekend. Shoppers were able to celebrate the Jubilee with exciting activities, including the chance to take a seat on the exclusive L.O.L. throne and strike a pose in the ...

 

Character Options is celebrating a ‘heroic’ first two weeks for GooZonians, with its largest marketing investment to date and the launch of its first child-facing YouTube channel. The successful GooZonians launch included a raft of marketing activity comprising influencer activations, TV, press outreach and more, as well as the release of the first GooZonians webisode on YouTube. 

***The above posted after June 3rd***

 

Nifty’s, the platform for NFT-powered fan communities, and Warner Bros. Consumer Products are partnering once again, taking their collaboration to a whole new level, with the launch of an all-new story-driven blockchain program that will engage Looney Tunes fans like never before! Looney Tunes: What’s Up Block? will use digital art as a new medium for storytelling, creating a fresh narrative for the Looney Tune...

American Girl announced the return of a true original—1940s-era historical character and fan favorite Molly McIntire! One of the company’s first three historical characters to debut in 1986, Molly—a nine-year-old girl growing up on the home front during World War II—has inspired a generation of girls with her patriotic spirit and story of resilience. Now, back from the American Girl archives, Molly is set to spark ..

Fittingly, in time before World Environment Day on June 5th, Playmobil presents Wiltopia, the first sustainable product range. The new theme provides the answer to the question of how children can be taught about animals, nature and the environment as well as the importance of sustainability. Without dry facts, and with a huge amount of fun!

 

Amazon to pull Kindle e-readers and bookstore from China. Poor sales may be to blame, not censorship. Chinese readers are about to lose some choice in e-books. Reuters reports Amazon is pulling Kindle products from China over the course of the next two years. The company will stop offering Kindle e-readers to local retailers as of today, and plans to shutter its digital bookstore in the country on June 30th, 2023.

Apple is moving some iPad production out of China for the first time amid ongoing disruption caused by lockdowns in cities such as Shanghai, Nikkei Asia reported. BYD, a Chinese manufacturer and major supplier of iPads, will soon start producing a small number of the tablets in Vietnam, according to the report. The iPad would be the second major Apple product series to be manufactured in Vietnam after AirPods Pro 2.

 

Xbox Celebrates Pride Month With New Controller Design And Donations To Charity. Starting on June 9, the faceplate design you see above will be available in the Xbox Design Lab as a customization option through the end of the month. Inspired by Pride, the faceplate incorporates 34 flags representing different LGBTQIA+ groups. Xbox has put together a site highlighting each flag on the controller

 

The LEGO Group announced the launch of its “A-Z of Awesome,” an ongoing campaign that uses LEGO builds to celebrate inclusivity and embrace self-expression in the LGBTQIA+ community. In “A-Z of Awesome,” each letter of the alphabet will be designed in LEGO bricks by a member of the LGTBQIA+ community, including LEGO fans, members of the community, and LEGO employees. 

 

Disney Doubles Down On Younglings In Star Wars Preschool Toon. Lucasfilm's first full-length animated Star Wars series for preschoolers, Young Jedi Adventures will bow on Disney+ and Disney Junior in spring 2023. The House of Mouse has greenlit Young Jedi Adventures, a new original animated Star Wars series from Lucasfilm slated for a spring 2023 release on Disney+ and Disney Junior.

 

Spin Master is expanding on representation and inclusion in its products. The global children’s entertainment company teamed up with the Toronto-based 6ix Academy, an inner-city business and arts program dedicated to social justice pursuits, for an all-new fashion illustration set.

The Truly You! Character Creator set is inspired by fashion design plates and allows kids to mix characters with a variety of outfits.

Representing the largest single investment in the 87-year history of Schleich GmbH, the brand relaunch will roll out from July 2022 via an extensive international brand campaign. Schleich’s new campaign assets ask kids imagine new storytelling possibilities. Schleich GmbH has announced its intention to redefine its purpose and brand story with the implementation of a new global brand strategy which...

 

BABY born unveils brand-new Storybook doll line. Leading doll brand BABY born is introducing a magical new brand to the UK market this spring: BABY born Storybook. This new range sees six fairy dolls welcome children aged 3-plus into the enchanting Storybook world, combining doll play with storytelling and imagination. 

 

The Crayola brand, which is synonymous with color, creativity and self expression around the world, is continuing to drive International growth across new and existing categories in EMEA through a new representation partnership with WildBrain CPLG.  The brand’s successful global partnerships with the likes of Vans and Fat Face; have driven significant interest from IP owners and brands who see exciting...

 

Following a monthlong fan vote, Hasbro announced that the Thimble token will return in the next generation of the Monopoly game later this year after receiving the most votes during the Monopoly Throwback Token Vote campaign. The “sewing companion” will take the place of the T-Rex token, after the ferocious dinosaur couldn’t fight off the fans – receiving the most votes to leave the game. 

Vivid Goliath appoints Havas Entertainment as media partner.  Havas Media Group entertainment agency will plan and buy media with a digitally-led approach across TV, video-on-demand, digital, and social channels. “We have all seen how the media landscape has evolved, diversified and fragmented and we believe Havas is well placed to help manage our campaigns with its creative and digital capabilities as well...

 

IMC Toys is entering the fashion doll market with the launch of BFF by Cry Babies: a ‘grown-up’ version of the company’s popular, best-selling Cry Babies nurturing doll range.  Making its on-shelf debut from July, the range will offer consumers and retailers a natural transition and extended brand journey. Supporting the company’s long-term strategy to grow and develop its Cry Babies ‘ages and stages’ approach...

 

To celebrate the first birthday of LEGO MYTHICA: World of Mythical Creatures at the LEGOLAND Windsor Resort, an exclusive new LEGO MYTHICA playset (40556) has launched, giving families and fans the chance to build their favourite mythical theme park attraction in their own home. LEGO MYTHICA is a world that exists in a parallel universe where LEGO creations come to life.

 

Sales of KAP Toys’ Stranger Things capsules soar. Stranger Things Season 4 launched on 27th May, and KAP Toys is celebrating the success of its short lead time Mystery Capsule launch. KAP Toys is the distributor of the YuMe toys brand in the UK & Ireland. The partnership has enjoyed proven success to date, including with the best-selling Warner Bros. licensed Harry Potter toys and the development of the Toikido Among Us collection. For 2022, Netflix’s smash-hit Stranger Things has benefited from the YuMe toys supernatural treatment …

 

The Op unveils 'Venn', a new word-guessing party game; also, Announces 'Squishmallows Monopoly'. The Op unveiled Venn, a new party game, for release into retail in June 2022. Venn is a party game where players utilize Venn diagrams to guess three secret words from clues given on art cards. Players are split up into teams, and teams consist of clue givers and clue guessers. 

Hachette Boardgames announces 'Orlog: Assassin's Creed Valhalla'. Hachette Boardgames announced Orlog: Assassin's Creed Valhalla by Pure Arts, the tabletop version of the dice game from the Assassin's Creed Vahalla video game, into retail on June 8, 2022. This game is a duel between two players that is decided by rolling dice and invoking God Favors. 

Hasbro reveals new LOLA toys from Obi-Wan Kenobi. On the heels of Obi-Wan Kenobi‘s premier on Disney+, Hasbro has revealed new toys based on the adorable little droid, LOLA. Look out Grogu, there’s a new cute Star Wars character fans are going to want every iteration of. Unlike when The Mandalorian premiered a few years ago, however, Hasbro is getting the jump on merchandise for LOLA.

Grey Wolf Games will release 'Wu Wei: Journey of the Changing Path' into retail. Grey Wolf Games will release Wu Wei: Journey of the Changing Path, a new fantasy tabletop adventure game, into retail in Q3 2022. In this game, players take control of masters training students to become martial arts lineage holders all while an emperor tries to unite the nation. 

 

'Plunder: A Pirate's Life' heads to hobby channel. Lost Boy Entertainment will release Plunder: A Pirate's Life, a pirate board game, into the hobby channel in Q3 2022. In this game, players take command of a fleet and set sail to exploit the resources of the islands in the region. The game is a competitive strategy game that is played on a modular ocean map, the goal of which is for a single player to accumulate...

 

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Gaming: Digital, Video, Hardware, and Development

Ofcom: 58% of UK players subscribe to a games service. Overall, 60% of UK adults and 91% of kids play video games. UK communications regulator Ofcom released its Online Nation 2022 report, revealing that 58% of UK players were subscribed to a games subscription service during Q4 2021. PlayStation Plus is the most popular paid-for subscription service in the UK, with 3.2 million subscribers at the end of last year...

 

Diablo Immortal skips Dutch and Belgian launches and loot boxes might be to blame. Activision Blizzard has confirmed Diablo Immortal won’t be launching in Belgium and the Netherlands alongside other countries on June 2nd, and has blamed the territories’ “current operating environments” for preventing the release of its new free-to-play title, Eurogamer reports. 

 

Pokémon Violet and Scarlet are launching in November. The next Pokémon adventure is launching on November 18th. Nintendo revealed the release date for Pokémon Violet and Scarlet, the next mainline entries in the series, through a new trailer today. The games were previously pegged to launch in the second half of 2022 for the Nintendo Switch.                                                                          

 

Epic returns to in-person Fortnite competition with a November event. Epic Games has announced plans to host an in-person Fortnite competition in November, its first major in-person competitive Fortnite event since the Fortnite World Cup in 2019. The upcoming event, the FNCS Invitational 2022, will take place on November 12th and 13th at the Raleigh Convention Center in North Carolina. 

 

Apple Arcade is getting new Cooking Mama and Frogger games in June. Apple has lined up a trio of notable Japanese developers for its June additions to Apple Arcade. Today the company announced four games coming to the subscription service next month, led by Konami’s Frogger and the Rumbling Ruins (a sequel to early Arcade game Frogger in Toy Town) which launches on June 3rd. 

 

Activision says SOC call against board re-election contains "blatant misrepresentations". Activision Blizzard has responded to a solicitation filed by the SOC Investment Group last week that urged shareholders to vote against re-electing several company directors. In a filing released today, the publisher says it wants to address "blatant misrepresentations" made by the SOC, and goes on to list several changes to the company...

 

SOC urges shareholders to vote against re-election of Activision Blizzard directors. Group states Kotick and co. "failed to recognize unsafe workplaces," calls for replacement. The SOC Investment Group has released a letter urging Activision Blizzard shareholders to vote against the re-election of several of the company's directors. 

 

Sony working on Gran Turismo movie, Horizon and God of War TV shows. Sony is bringing more of its major game franchises to cinema and television screens around the world. Horizon and God of War will be the latest PlayStation properties to be turned into TV shows, with the former currently in early development at Netflix and the latter officially heading to Amazon. 

 

SCS Software shelves Russia DLC for Euro Truck Simulator 2 in solidarity with Ukraine. SCS Software has shelved its upcoming Heart of Russia DLC for Euro Truck Simulator 2 after Ukraine was invaded by Russia. The Czech studio said the add-on was weeks away from completion when Russia started waging war on Ukraine, leaving the company questioning whether it should release or even complete work on the expansion. 

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Hightlighted Press Releases

 

Mattel, Inc. announced the expansion of its Mattel PlayBack program to now include Fisher-Price toys. Fisher-Price joins Barbie, MEGA, and Matchbox brands in the toy takeback initiative, which enables families to extend the life of their Mattel toys once they are finished playing with them.  The new program is designed to recover and reuse materials from old Mattel toys in future Mattel products, keep materials out of landfills, and supports the company’s goal to achieve 100% recycled, recyclable, or bio-based plastic materials in its products and packaging by 2030.

 

***The above posted after June 3rd***

 

SPOKESTER® CLICKS WITH TOY JUDGES AS SPRING AWARDS REVEAL WHAT PARENTS ALREADY KNOW: CHILD’S BIKE PRODUCT “WORTH EVERY PENNY!”  The National Parenting Center & Mom’s Choice Awards Praises $9.99 Motor-Like Noisemaker That Snaps On A Bicycle’s Spokes

 – As kids count down to summer recess, parents are thinking of ways to keep them active while enticing them to get outdoors.  A cool new accessory for the bike, currently parked in the garage, is one idea that’s winning praise from both The National Parenting Center and Mom’s Choice Awards this season. Spokester ($9.99 at spokester.com) is the affordable bike add-on that kids love to showcase around the neighborhood! And neighbors will certainly hear them coming.

 

Press Release: Set out to conquer international markets at the Spielwarenmesse. By tradition, the international toy industry comes together at the start of the year for the Spielwarenmesse in Nuremberg. After a two-year break imposed by the pandemic, the world’s leading toy fair will be opening its doors again at the Nuremberg Exhibition Centre from 1 to 5 February 2023. 

 

Safety and Counterfeiting

 

The Manhattan Toy Company Recalls Activity Loops Toys for Infants Due to Choking Hazard. Name of Product: Activity Loops. Hazard: Tubes on the Activity Loops toys can detach from the base releasing small plastic rings, posing a small parts choking hazard to children.  Remedy: Refund. Recall Date: June 09, 2022. Units: About 2,700 (In addition, about 472 were sold in Canada)

 

***The above posted after June 3rd***

 

Experts anticipate summer 2022 to be the busiest travel season in recent memory, with people eager to make plans unencumbered by pandemic restrictions. According to Travel + Leisure, travel will likely generate almost $2 trillion of the U.S. economy in 2022.  Counterfeiting criminals know what’s on your packing list, and they’re churning out substandard - even dangerous - dupes of the hottest items. Already, enforcement officials are warning consumers against: Fake toys - like sand shovels and buckets - that hide undisclosed choking hazards and heavy metals that can make kids sick 

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Associations, Shows, Awards, Events, and Festivals

 

The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA)  has appointed five new members to its board of directors: Maryam Al-Hammami, co-founder and CEO at The Game Chest, Cassidy Smith, president at Uniche Collective, Darby Zahradnik, director of national accounts at PlayMonster, Rachel Jones, Virginia sales representative at Sandy Ruben and Associates, Sandra Malott, Wisconsin territory representative at Diverse Marketing

 

ASTRA INSIGHTS: HARNESSING THE POWER OF CLASSIC PLAY. ASTRA’s vision is to “change the world through the power of play” —  and classic play is vital to this vision. If you look up the definition for the word “classic,” there’s a phrase that stands out: “something that has a recognized and established value.”

 

CHECK OUT THE PHOTOS from our London DISTOY May 18th at the Buckingham Arms. Guess Who Theme! Thank you to our generous sponsors for plentiful culinary delights and libations!

 

Entry to the MadeForMums Toy Awards website opens today and winners will be announced in early October, for pre-Christmas press coverage. MadeForMums has opened entries to the MadeForMums Toy Awards 2022. The annual, consumer-facing awards celebrate the best toys at every age and stage from newborn to preteens, and are judged by an army of child testers – with the help of their parents, the MadeForMums...

 

With ASTRA’s 2022 Marketplace & Academy set to open in Long Beach, California this weekend, the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association has revealed the winners of its 2022 Excellence and Lifetime Achievement Awards. The annual ASTRA Excellence and Lifetime Achievement Awards are designed to honor and recognize the outstanding contributions made by members of the specialty toy industry.

 

***The above posted after June 3rd***

 

Licensing Expo 2022, organized in partnership with industry trade association Licensing International, drew thousands of attendees from the world’s most reputable retailers and licensees, with the number of retailers in attendance rising 42% from the 2019 event, marking record growth for Licensing Expo.  Notable attending companies include Target, Hot Topic, Walmart, Fanatics, Five Below, Zulily, ...

TOTY nominations open today. The Toy Foundation (TTF) is inviting the play community to submit their must-have holiday toys, games, and properties for the Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards. The prestigious U.S. awards programme supports the philanthropic work of The Toy Foundation. Companies that wish to nominate their product(s) will be able to access the form beginning today (June 1).

 

Women in Toys: allyship in action. by JANICE ROSS, president of Women in Toys, founder and managing partner at Brand Fresh Management. What does it mean to be a good ally? Why does allyship matter? Simply put, allyship is an active and consistent effort to use your privilege and power to support and advocate for people with less privilege. 

 

Yoto Mini wins prestigious Pencil at the Design & Art Direction Awards. Yoto‘s latest audio player, Yoto Mini, has earned a Wood Pencil – representing the best of the year in design – at the 2021 D&AD Awards in the Product Design, ‘Everyday Consumer Products’ category. Since 1962, D&AD has been inspiring a community of creative thinkers by celebrating the finest in design and advertising. 

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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.

Marilyn Feoranzo - With great sadness, we at Beacon Media Group share news of the passing of our friend and colleague, media specialist Marilyn Feoranzo. Marilyn brought passion, skill, and wit to her tremendous work with clients every day — skillful and astute in her mastery of media planning, and tough in her negotiation and execution of top-performing media buys across the industry. She worked tirelessly to ensure clients got nothing less than the best in media delivery. And she made us laugh every day.

Across a career spanning four decades, Marilyn managed hundreds of millions of dollars in media spending with a specialty in network, cable syndication, and radio markets at Bozell Ad Agency, eventually acquired by True North, where she worked on the JCPenney and Bausch & Lomb accounts before moving on to Unilever working on brands including Dove and Lipton Tea. She then moved to the Wyeth Ad Agency, where she worked on over-the-counter and direct-to-consumer brands such as Advil, Centrum, and ChapStick before moving to Beacon Media in New Jersey to focus her specialty on the kids and family market. With Beacon Media, for more than 10 years, she developed and executed TV buying strategies for many of the largest brands in the toy industry, including MGA Entertainment’s L.O.L. Surprise! and many more.

Marilyn retired from her duties to focus on health and family in her final year, and while we are tremendously sad that she is gone, her fire, commitment, and example will long be part of our legacy and an approach that helps drive our team to success in the future.

Marilyn leaves behind a husband, Bill, and daughters Nicole and Danielle.

Rest In Peace, dearest Marilyn. We are eternally grateful to have known you. — The Beacon Media Group Team

 

Lizzie Wilding. Lizzie Wilding, VP of commercial operations at UK studio Dovetail Games, has passed away. The company shared the news on its website and explained Wilding had been battling colon cancer. "Dovetail Games and the industry have lost one of their brightest lights, a fantastic colleague, an amazing mentor, and most importantly a wonderful friend," wrote the studio. "Lizzie was a wise, caring, witty, fearless woman who we shall remember with great fondness and love. She was passionate about this industry and it’s people. She was an avid gamer, who always put players first and loved nothing more than making them happy by providing engaging, fun experiences." Wilding was one of the first recipients of the MCV Top 100 Women in Games Awards and spent over five years working at Dovetail, initially joining the company as VP of publishing. Prior to that, Wilding spent time in communications and marketing roles at major game companies like Jagex, Natural Motion, Codemasters, and EA. Dovetail explained that although Wilding "shied away from the limelight," she continuously went above and beyond to support her colleagues, many of whom turned to her as a mentor and guide. "Her light shone brightly at Dovetail and she leaves a hole not only with us but in the wider industry. She will be greatly missed," continued Dovetail.

"If you have followed her journey via social media over the past few months you will know that she has voiced a wish for everyone with any medical concerns to get looked at as early as possible, however small. Cancer is a cruel illness that doesn't care about your age, fitness level, or lifestyle. We encourage you to make that call.

"Our thoughts are with her family, husband Sam, children Zoe, Billy, Lucy, Robert and Jacob as well as her mother, uncle, and grandfather. Your presence we miss, your memories we treasure -- fly high Lizzie."

 

Paul Hyslop has died at 70. Known as 'H' to his friends, Hyslop spent much of the past two decades working at Just Flight, a UK-based publisher specialising in developing and publishing add-ons for Flight Simulator. His career began at Microprose, where he helped to establish the military software simulation brand in Europe, after which he went to work at Tomb Raider publisher Eidos, before joining Just Flight in 2002. Prior to working in video games, Hyslop worked for New English Libraries and even, according to Just Flight CEO Andy Payne, "ran a pub or two." 

He passed away on Monday, May 30.

"He treated everyone he met with absolute respect and never discriminated," Payne told GamesIndustry.biz. "You could be a junior PR person or designer, or you could be a global video games company CEO and H would treat you in exactly the same way. He took younger members of the industry under his wing, always with a smile and always wanting to see them do well.

"H was very much [a] father, uncle, brother and occasionally a son to so many people. It is a cliché, but everyone loved working with H, you just had to be careful not to take his advice all of the time, given his favourite saying was 'eating is cheating.' And he always knew how to have a good time, he knew all the places to go in all the cities we ever visited. His laugh was infectious, his loyalty unquestioned and his teamwork exemplary.

"A man with a wonderful waft of Kouros, a man with no ego, a man with friends of all ages, literally everywhere he went. And boy could he sell."

 

Colin Cantwell, an animator, conceptual artist and computer expert who played significant production roles in seminal science fiction films like “2001: A Space Odyssey, “Star Wars” and “WarGames,” died on May 21, 2022 at his home in Colorado Springs, Colo. He was 90. His partner, Sierra Dall, said the cause was dementia.  Mr. Cantwell’s work on several influential movies reached its peak with “Star Wars,” George Lucas’s hugely successful space opera. To impress Mr. Lucas, Mr. Cantwell built two elaborate steampunk-like spacecraft models from parts he had culled from dozens of hobbyist’s kits. He got the job before Mr. Lucas had found a studio. Mr. Cantwell produced the original designs for spacecraft familiar to fans of “Star Wars” (later retitled “Star Wars, Episode IV — A New Hope”): the X-wing, the Rebel Alliance’s starfighter; the TIE fighter, part of the Galactic Empire’s imperial fleet; the wedge-shaped Imperial Star Destroyer; the cockpit for the Millennium Falcon; and the Death Star, the Empire’s enormous battle station, with a weapon capable of destroying a planet. Read More...

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Toy Trade Monthly Issues​​

Adventure Media & Events (US)

aNb Media (US) 

ToyWorld (UK)

  1. All to play for in the second half…it’s the Friday Blog!

  2. First look: Schleich unveils major new global brand strategy

  3. The June issue of Toy World is out now

  4. Chicco parent company buys Iberian Toys R Us

  5. IMC Toys launches first fashion doll range

  6. Sales of KAP Toys’ Stranger Things capsules soar

  7. Baby born introduces new fairy doll brand

  8. Exclusive: Mattel’s Kelly Philp on the company’s Lightyear toy range

  9. Sambro marks decade of success in Europe with new Amsterdam HQ

  10. B&M promotes CFO Alex Russo to CEO as Simon Arora prepares to step down

ICv2: The Business of Geek Culture (US)

WizKids Announces 'D&D Icons of the Realms: Beholder Collector's Box'
2022 Spiel des Jahres Nominations Announced
Rolling for Initiative -- 'D&D 4E' Was Ahead of Its Time
Beadle & Grimm's Reveals More Deets on Their 'Magic: The Gathering' 'Secret Lair' Collaboration
WizKids Unveils 'D&D Icons of the Realms: Mordenkainen Presents Monsters of the Multiverse - Neothelid'
Wizards of the Coast Announces More 'Magic: The Gathering' 'D&D' Set Product Delays
Games Workshop Previews 'Warhammer: The Horus Heresy - Age of Darkness'
Capstone Games Reveals 'Terra Nova'
Fantasy Flight Games Unveils 'Twilight Inscription'
WizKids Will Release 'D&D Nolzur's Marvelous Miniatures - Purple Worm'

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

The Toy Universe by The Bugg Report (Australia)

I’m A Retailer. Here’s 3 Tips to Get More Products In My Store!

The Wiggles Authentically Australian — Feature Interview With Luke Field

Casual Game Revolution

News Flash: Zillionaires Road Trip USA Released, Fantasy Realms Deluxe Edition Pre-Order
Big Potato Games has released an auction party game, WizKids has a deluxe edition of Fantasy Realms available for pre-order, and Cryptozoic has released a solo Batman board game.

 

Video of the Week 

Throwback to POP Week 2021! 

Dan Klitsner, Inventor of Bop It, and his Surprise Guest...

the voice of Bop It!

Welcome to the  Future POP Ad.png

 

Thank you for being a reader of the Bloom Report. — Mary and Graeme

 

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: philip.bloom100@verizon.net   

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

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