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May 6 - 13, 2022

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Welcome to Your Weekly News Brief!

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Happy Bloomin’ Friday!

I'm off to DISTOY tomorrow and am so very excited to see international colleagues and friends for the first time in 2.5 years!  We will be hosting a fantastic London Pub Party to celebrate being together in-person just like in the beforetimes! I promise I will remember what everybody looks like, and a bunch of generous people of play are POPping for drinks and snacks (see the awesome invite from the creatives at FUSE), so join in the fun!   

 

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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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Columnist - Nancy Zwiers

Soar with Your Strengths

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I visited my daughter Nikki who is in graduate school in Europe this past month, and over dinner, I shared with a group of her fellow student friends that I was an executive coach.  One of her friends asked me what advice I give to all my clients.

 

First, I complimented him on a “powerful question.” Then, I confirmed that coaching is not about giving advice per se.  It is about helping clients reflect through asking “powerful questions” and guiding them to new levels of understanding and commitment based on their own insights.  That said, in my 40+ years of working, I have learned some valuable lessons that I often share with my clients.

 

So after reflecting on Tim’s powerful question, I realized one of the most important pieces of advice to share would be “Soar with your Strengths.”

 

Extensive experience in both business and human development has demonstrated unequivocally that the key to success is investing in strength versus focusing on shoring up weakness.  In other words, we get a bigger return on our investment when it’s directed to areas where we are strong.

 

Often, in our quest for perfection, we focus on fixing our weaknesses so we can be “perfect.”  This is a fool’s errand.  We expend great energy on efforts that don’t yield much benefit.

Read More. . .

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Person of the Week - Morgan Weyl

An always positive Tomy's Morgan Weyl shares The Best is Yet to Come

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Hi Morgan! Thank you for sharing a bit about yourself with us today. What drew you to the toy industry? 

Cartoons, specifically Japanese Animés, toys, games, and video games were all a critical part of my childhood. I think I just didn’t want to grow out of that phase! 

I’m a kid at heart and genuinely love toys and content. I work for a Japanese toy company… it’s just a dream come true.

 

What do the best days at work look like? 

I’m not sure I’ve had my best days yet: it keeps getting better. What fuels me is going through the day, from one time zone to another, seeing the same passion and enthusiasm from our teams, retailers, and consumers for one of our global brands like Club Mocchi- Mocchi-, TOOMIES or Lamaze. 

 

You've spent most of your career at TOMY in licensing. Why this segment? 

I have been extremely lucky to work for TOMY for more than 20 years and serve this amazing company across functions and territories. In my very first role at TOMY, I was part of a team expanding Gacha Toy Vending Machine business outside of Japan. This was 100% licensed base and I loved it from day one. For a 23-year-old grown man, working every day with Nintendo, Pokémon, Disney, Warner Bros… come on!!! 

New content is coming every day and searching for the best match for our company to bring to life in TOMY toys is a fantastic treasure hunt. I feel like a kid in a candy store. READ MORE . . .

Financial and Legal

Macmillan Children’s Books has acquired the publishing rights for Odo. The warm-hearted and funny animated series about a little owl and his forest friends was commissioned by Milkshake (Channel 5) in the UK, who premiered the series in August last year, and KiKA in Germany. The series has also been sold in to more than 150 other territories across the world including  HBOMax in the USA, Canal+ in France, ABC in ...

 

***The above posted after May 13th***

 

In an all-stock deal struck designed for the current high-inflation economic environment facing streaming consumers, Crackle parent Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment is acquiring Redbox. The value of the deal is about $375 million, most of which is the assumption of Redbox debt. Founded in the heyday of DVDs 2 decades ago, Redbox is best known for its network of 38,000 bright red, disk-dispensing kiosks...

 

Screen Australia Invests US$3.8 Million In Three Kids Projects. The government org is putting an emphasis on investment and development, hiring two new managers and announcing funding support for an animated feature and two series renewals. On the kids and family front, feature film 200% Wolf will receive some additional support, as will new seasons of animated series Little K & Big Cuz and live-action dramedy The PM’s...

 

Boston Partners and Anchor Capital are among long-term shareholders urging toy maker Hasbro to refresh its board with at least one investor-nominated director and to settle a proxy contest with activist investment firm Alta Fox. Boston Partners, which owns a 2.26% stake in Hasbro and invests $96 billion for clients, told Reuters on Tuesday the board needs new directors and it is backing the activist's three...

 

SHOPIFY ACQUIRES LOGISTICS COMPANY. Shopify has reached an agreement to acquire fulfillment technology provider Deliverr for $2.1 billion, the companies announced. Deliverr’s logistics network currently delivers over one million orders per month for thousands of U.S. merchants.  Deliverr will be integrated into the Shopify Fulfillment Network along with warehouse and fulfillment software and robotics co. 6 River Systems...

 

Spin Master announced that the nominees listed in its management information circular were elected as directors of the co. at its Annual and Special Meeting of Shareholders. Following the results of the election two new independent Board members: Michael Blank, the COO of Polygon Studios, and Brian H. Whipple, former CEO of Accenture Interactive, have joined as Directors. Todd Tappin did not stand for re-election...

TIGA: UK games development workforce grew 25% to over 20,000 full-time staff. The games industry's annual contribution to the UK's GDP reached £2.9 billion by December 2021.  Employment in the UK games development industry has grown 25% between April 2020 and December 2021, a new study from trade body TIGA showed. The number of full-time employees working in games went from 16,836 to 20,975 ...

 

During Q1 2022 global mobile game revenue declined 6% to $21.2bn. The US saw a drop of 10% in consumer spending, whereas Japan's player revenue fell by 18% during the period. Sensor Tower released a new report which said that during Q1 2022, global mobile gaming amassed $21.2 billion in revenue, a 6% decline compared to last year. The analytics firm's State of Mobile Gaming report provided a more detailed...

 

Roblox's daily average user count is still climbing. Roblox Corp.'s financial results for the first quarter of fiscal year 2022 have arrived, and it appears that the company is seeing major gains in how many people log into Roblox on a daily basis. That's because the daily average user (DAU) count for the quarter rose 28 percent from the first quarter of 2021. An average of 54.1 million users logged into Roblox each day...

 

U.S. retail imports hit new milestone. The global shipping crisis rages on, and with it comes a continued spike in retail imports at major U.S. ports. According to the latest update from the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates’ monthly Global Port Tracker, this spring has seen record numbers of freight containers making their way through the system. The mass quantities of freight — including toys and games...

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Financial Reporting

Hasbro Files Investor Presentation for 2022 Annual Meeting

 

VTech Announces FY2022 Annual Results. Group revenue remained essentially flat at US$2,370.5 million.

Walmart Q1 profit dragged down as inflation takes a bite

 

***The above posted after May 13th***

 

The Walt Disney Company reports second quarter and six months earnings for fiscal 2022

Bandai Namco's profit rose almost 50% in FY2022.

 

Toy industry e-commerce sales in China increased by 8.8% to $1.3 billion (USD) in the first quarter (Q1) of 2022 (January – March) versus the same time period last year, and 27% from Q1 2020, according to The NPD Group.

 

The Character Group has reported a £6.5m profit for the first half-year ending 28th February, and anticipates continued growth in the second half.

Party City reports First Quarter 2022 results and updates 2022 business outlook.

Electronic Arts reports Q4 and FY22 financial results.

Wildbrain reports Q3 2022 results.

 

Disney+ added 7.9 million subscribers in the most recent quarter for a total of 138 million worldwide, the company announced Wednesday, helping it avoid the streaming slowdown that has lately tanked the stock price of Netflix.

 

Buying group Toymaster has reported a revenue of £48.8m for the year to 31st January 2022, up from £39.9m in 2021

 

Fox Shares Slide On Mixed Quarterly Results, Including $30M Write-Down On Scripted Programming

 

Playtika Holding Corp. (PLTK) on Tuesday reported first-quarter earnings of $83.2 million.

 

Nintendo sold almost 35 million Pokémon games in the last year

Hardware sales down by 20 percent at Nintendo as company plans stock split.

 

Zynga reports 2% revenue increase to $691 million for Q1 2022

Resident Evil Village drives Capcom to fifth year of record profits. Publisher reports net sales of $846.3 million, sold a record number of games at 36.2 million. 

Unity Q1 2022 revenue up 36% to $320m. But guidance for Q2 and full financial year has been lowered.

Starbreeze Q1 losses increased 471% to $2.4m.

 

 

Future Financial Reporting

Sony reduces PlayStation 5 forecast to 18m units due to component shortageSony expects to sell 18 million PlayStation 5 units during its next financial year, a reduction of previous forecasts thanks to the ongoing shortage of semiconductors and other vital components. Sony's full-year results for FY2021, in which PlayStation sales rose slightly to $20.7 billion and 11.5 million PS5 units were shipped worldwide, bringing the console's lifetime figure to nearly 20 million. Sony previously estimated it would sell 22.6 million.

Trends, Market Research, and State of the Industry

 

Trends to Look for at Licensing Expo 2022

RETAIL SALES GROW DESPITE INFLATION, NRF SAYS

 

Netflix, CBS Commanded the Most Viewing Time in 2021-22

APRIL 2022 NPD BOOKSCAN - TOP 20 AUTHOR, MANGA, SUPERHERO GRAPHIC NOVELS

 

***The above posted after May 13th***

 

ToyWorld's Sam Giltrow talks to IMC Toys, MGA Entertainment, Zapf Creation, Mattel and The Desi Doll Company, to get a flavour of the latest developments for their Dolls & Collectibles ranges.

 

Pew gauges parents’ reactions towards children using technology in 2020 versus 2021.

TikTok to surpass YouTube in US—and come after other apps in the process

L.O.L. Surprise takes No.1 spot in UK collectibles

TCGPLAYER TOP 25 SEALED TCG PRODUCTS (WITH PRICE SHIFTS) - APRIL 2022

APRIL 2022 NPD BOOKSCAN - TOP 20 ADULT GRAPHIC NOVELS

APRIL 2022 NPD BOOKSCAN - TOP 20 KIDS GRAPHIC NOVELS

 

Consumers opting for cheaper toys as inflation soars, toymaker Spin Master says

Toyjobs has been the dominant recruiting

Stories, Comments, and Advice

 

Cannes: How Japanese Anime Became the World’s Most Bankable Genre It was once considered a niche genre just for hard-core fans, but streaming has helped turn it into a globally popular juggernaut. Now the Japanese animation industry is scrambling to meet an almost insatiable demand: "It’s increasingly becoming a borderless form of mass entertainment."

 

The National Gallery of Art’s New Game—Artle—Is Basically Wordle for Art Lovers. If you aren’t a word lover, you might find yourself on the hunt for a Wordle-esque guessing game based on whatever you are passionate (or just knowledgeable) about. Luckily, they’re not hard to find: There’s Heardle for music fans; Nerdle and Numberle for math fans; and Worldle for geography buffs. There’s even Lordle of the Rings, where...

 

Playing Video Games Has an Unexpected Effect on Kids' IQ, Says New Study. Researchers have linked spending more time playing video games with a boost in intelligence in children, which goes some way to contradicting the narrative that gaming is bad for young minds. While the difference in cognitive abilities was a small one and isn't enough to show a causal relationship, it is enough to be notable...

 

Snapchat co-founder pays off college debt of new graduates at Otis Art and Design. Yaritza Velazquez-Medina took a chance on a major career turn when she decided to drop her work as a crisis counselor in 2018 to pursue her artistic passions. She enrolled at Otis College of Art and Design in LA to become a graphic designer — even though she racked up about $70,000 in college debt to do so. But after she crossed the stage... 

 

***The above posted after May 13th***

 

John Baulch, ToyWorld UK, All the fun of the fair…it’s the Friday Blog! I suggested in last week’s Blog that the recruitment merry-go-round was in full swing, and that there would be some big appointments to announce imminently. And lo it came to pass – it’s almost like I knew. So, in the interest of helping everyone keep up, here is a brief summary of what’s been made public over the course of this week: former Spin Master...

 

Your Retail Packaging is Your Highway Billboard. Ryan Noonan, GPI Art Director, along with Anita Demetropoulos of Strasmark discuss packaging with attendees at the ASTRA Northeast Gathering in March held in the new offices of Melissa & Doug. Watch the video below where Ryan is presented with billboards from one of his favorite companies and gives his quick (well, quick is a relative term) opinions on why they work.  

Reshaping the landscape: Corporate travel in 2022 and beyond.  Business travel is making a slow, but steady, return. Corporate travel providers that evolve with the changes stand to capitalize on new growth opportunities. As health concerns and travel restrictions abate, corporate travel is making a steady, but slow, return; recovery to 2019 levels is still likely at least a couple of years away

 

New York Times Apologizes After Wordle of the Day Is 'Fetus'.  They've already replaced the puzzle answer for any refreshed browser, saying that the online game should stay ‘distinct from the news.’ Emotions are running high around the word “fetus” after last week’s news about the possible end to Roe V. Wade and women’s right to safe abortion. 

The key to maintaining profitability on Amazon. As more businesses shift trading to eCommerce marketplaces such as Amazon, understanding the cost is critical, writes Asha Bhalsod of Etopia Consultancy. With minimal terms and limited costs, initially, Amazon was probably the most profitable account for many toy companies. 

Content in play with toy companiesToy companies are evolving into full-service firms as they increasingly move beyond the toy aisle into content—be it films, television, digital games, or NFTs. Hasbro and Mattel have long championed the concept and, more recently, Spin Master has also gotten into the game. But The Chernin Group and former Disney CEO Bob Iger’s recent purchase of a 25% ($263 million) stake in Funko...

 

Why are toys so important during early childhood and development? People at first are reluctant to provide their children with toys due to various reasons, the fear of their children getting harmed, the fear of it being swallowed by them or just due to their own perception that they shouldn’t provide toys to their children. 

 

What Gen Z really thinks of advertisers in the metaverse. If you are of a certain age, the idea of spending a significant chunk of your time in an alternate virtual universe seems like shameless escapism. But if you are Gen Z, that’s exactly why you want to go there. Let’s not be too hard on the youthful demo. Just because some older folk aren’t into gaming, that doesn’t mean they’re not into escapism. 

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History and Nostalgia

Think-a-Tron from Hasbro. Released in 1960, Hasbro’s Think-a-Tron was inspired by the mammoth room-filling mainframe computers of its day. Powered by two D-batteries, it was one of the first educational computer-based toys marketed to children. Since computers were still relatively unfamiliar to the general public, Hasbro added to the intrigue by marketing the Think-a-Tron as “the machine that thinks like...

 

Mighty Comics Super Heroes Game from Transogram. In 1966, Transogram completed the Mighty Comics Super Heroes Game that pitted superheroes from the MLJ/Archie Comics universe against the evil Ultra-foe. The cavalcade of characters comprised members of the imprint’s Mighty Crusaders team and included The Shield, The Web, Mr. Justice, Fly Girl, Fly Man, Captain Flag, The Black Hood...

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Licensing 

 

His name and likeness are revered by generations of fans, and now Stan Lee’s legacy will officially be stewarded as part of a 20-year licensing deal between Marvel Studios and Stan Lee Universe. A joint-venture between Genius Brands International and POW! Entertainment, Stan Lee Universe was established in 2020 to manage Lee-created IPs that fall outside the purview of Marvel Entertainment. Lee died in 2018.

 

HASBRO UNVEILS FOUR NEW LIGHTSABERS AHEAD OF STAR WARS CELEBRATION ANAHEIM. The lightsaber: “not as clumsy or random as a blaster; an elegant weapon, for a more civilized age.” For the past 45 years, those words, spoken by Sir Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars  (1977), have fueled imagination and discovery as countless kids around the world have raised their own lightsaber toys...

MasterPieces inspires young generations of explorers to play, create and discover the fun of outer space with its newest licensed product line for NASA branded puzzles, games and DIY wood build-and-paint sets.  Now available is a collection of NASA puzzles, games and craft kits that is certified by NASA for accuracy and STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) value. 

Warner Bros. Discovery is making a splash in kids content with its first upfront since the companies merged, announcing a big-name animated comedy special and a key kids acquisition for LatAm. Cartoon Network and HBO Max used the event to unveil a new “family-oriented” laugher called Chelm: The Smartest Place on Earth from comedian and Borat star Sacha Baron Cohen and a team of veteran comedy...

 

WildBrain is serving up something sweet at Licensing Expo in Las Vegas this year. The media and brand licensing company has inked new licensing, distribution, and promotional partnerships for the beloved Strawberry Shortcake brand. The new opportunities follow the success of Season 1 of Berry in the Big City, with WildBrain dropping Season 2 of the series on the official Strawberry Shortcake channel on WildBrain Spark.

Mercis, which manages the works of Dick Bruna, has appointed Rocket Licensing to represent global icon Miffy in the UK and Eire. Mercis has been keen to secure a new home for Miffy after previous manager DRI Licensing’s decision to wind down the company. Marja Kerkhof, MD of Mercis, says: “Our mission is to share Dick Bruna’s work, and Miffy, with as many people as possible, but always with respect for art and the...

 

BBC Studios expands its licensing program for the hit preschool series with 10  new partnerships and renewal deals in the U.S. and Canada alongside new licensing agents to tackle the Latin American market in Brazil, South and Central America. The studio also inked 5 licensing deals in the UK and appointed licensing agents for Israel. Additionally, Ravensburger is on board as part of 13 new EMEA licensing ...

 

Animation studio Cartoon Saloon is heading into Licensing Expo in Las Vegas with a slate of new licensing partners for its Irish Folklore Trilogy. Created and directed by Cartoon Saloon co-founder Tomm Moore, the trilogy includes three Academy Award-nominated feature films: WolfWalkers, Song of the Sea, and The Secret of Kells. 

 

WildBrain has further expanded its entertainment portfolio with the signing of worldwide licensing and merchandising (L&M) rights for a trio of HarperCollins Productions’ popular properties: Carmen Sandiego, The Oregon Trail and Pretzel and the Puppies. Under the deal secured by WildBrain CPLG’s North America office, the agency will build strategic licensing programmes for each of the properties across...

 

Highlights for Children, the family media brand known for their beloved magazines and books, announces the signing of several new licensing agreements in advance of attending Licensing Expo in Las Vegas in May. Playtek LLC is the company’s new licensee for learning and activity toys; the line will come to market in 2023. Playstories personalized story books transform the reading experience with three titles...

 

Award-winning animation company Omens Studios has secured a raft of international sales for season two of its hit CGI animated series Leo the Wildlife Ranger across Latin America, Europe and Asia. Globo Brazil has taken season two of the adventure preschool series for Brazil, while Czech TV has picked up the show for the Czech Republic. MTVA in Hungary and Good TV in Taiwan are also on board for season two. 

 

Fan favorite dinosaurs are coming to life in a collection packed with Molo’s signature use of colors and prints. The world of photorealistic dinosaurs, created by Molo’s design team in collaboration with Universal, will be printed on styles such as t-shirts and sweatshirts, along with the iconic Jurassic World logo which will be embroidered on cargo pants, shorts, hoodies, and jackets. 

 

Fred Rogers Productions, the award-winning children’s educational media organization behind multiple well-loved, Emmy-winning PBS KIDS series, has tapped Scholastic as worldwide master publishing partner for Alma’s Way, the critically-acclaimed animated PBS KIDS series created by Sonia Manzano (Sesame Street). The multi-year agreement includes a range of readers and activity books in both English and...

 

Toei Animation’s ‘One Piece’ Reveals Treasure-Load of Licensing Deals for Franchise. Just a week away from this month’s Licensing Expo 2022, legendary studio and anime industry leader Toei Animation has released the first-ever licensing report for its One Piece franchise. This new report provides an annual wrap-up of licensing gains for One Piece, the 22-year old hit anime franchise from Toei Animation...

 

Moose Toys has entered a multi-year global partnership with Universal Brand Development for DreamWorks Animation’s blockbuster Trolls franchise. Under the agreement, the toymaker will develop a range of collectible figures to arrive at retail in Autumn 2023, to support the highly anticipated release of the newest Trolls movie to cinemas on November 17th, 2023. 

 

Four fresh deals have just closed that will expand the international reach of CG-animated preschool series Leo the Wildlife Ranger from Singapore’s Omens Studios. A 52 x 11-minute second season has been snapped up by Latin American network Globo (Brazil), Czech TV, MTVA (Hungary) and Good TV (Taiwan). And this builds on previous sales to Tencent (China), TV3 (Catalonia), MBC (MENA), Zoomoo (APAC and Latin...

 

France’s Cyber Group Studios has tapped United Smile as the new master toy licensee for its flagship preschool series Gigantosaurus. The Hong Kong-based toyco (also the master toy partner for Guru’s True and the Rainbow Kingdom and Ferly’s Momolu & Friends) will develop and launch a range of plush, figurines, playsets and vehicles for spring 2023.

 

YouTube Greenlights New Kids And Family Content. The AVOD platform has ordered four originals and several renewals, with actor and host Lilly Singh and YouTube personality Tabitha Brown figuring into its latest content gameplan. YouTube is making its mark with an announcement of four new originals and renewals for its kids and family portfolio—and almost 20 more projects in the development pipeline.

 

Global entertainment company Boat Rocker has announced that Simba Dickie Group – one of the top five toy manufacturers in Europe – has signed a licensing deal for Dino Ranch, as the preschool hit continues to rapidly expand its global footprint. The product range will feature the Big Bloxx Junior Building Construction set, which contains a minimum of 15 pieces, including exclusive figurines and accessories.

 

Mattel’s Jurassic World Dominion toys roam London for National Dinosaur Day.  The special celebration yesterday gave Mattel the chance to showcase the Jurassic World Dominion range from this summer’s blockbuster movie... as well as unveiling fun new research that found a third of kids are convinced dinosaurs are still alive. 

Macmillan Children’s Books (MCB) is strengthening its portfolio of licensed brands for preschoolers with the acquisition of global publishing rights to 2D-animated series Odo. A first wave of picture books from the UK-based publisher will roll out in the region next March.

 

Apple TV+ Leans Into Book Adaptations For Summer. Several shows with kidlit pedigrees will be premiering on the streamer when school lets out, including preschool toon Duck & Goose and Just Don't Fall, based on a memoir by Paralympian Josh Sundquist.

***The above was posted after tBR was sent the morning of May 13th***

 

Black-Owned Toymaker World of EPI Is Creating Toys for Disney & Marvel Shows.  Disney has tapped Dr. Lisa Williams's World of EPI to produce toys for The Proud Family revival and Marvel's Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. World of EPI is a toy manufacturer that has become known and beloved for its ethnically diverse toy lines The Fresh Dolls, The Fresh Squad, and Positively Perfect Dolls

Roald Dahl will be the latest addition to Amscan’s extensive licensed portfolio, with a range featuring costumes, accessories and wearables on the way for 2023. The range will be available throughout Europe, Middle East, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore & Malaysia. Amscan says that Phase 1 of the new styles will be ready to ship in Q422 for an on-shelf date of January 2023.

 

Unruly Industries Brings New Spider-Man Figures Into the Spider-Verse. What’s the one thing missing from the latest version of Spider-Man’s suit? A cool pair of sneakers. Unruly Industries is kicking things up with a new trio of collectibles that reimagine our favorite web-slinger as a punk-rock sneakerhead. Designed by pop culture artist Tracy Tubera, the collection draws inspiration from comic books, graffiti, and anime art.

Harnessing Imagination at Licensing Expo — How ZAG Delivers New-Age Entertainment Across All Platforms.  In this guest feature by by Global Licensing Group’s Anna Knight, ZAG’s Julian Zag outlines the company’s plans for Licensing Expo and its flagship brand, Miraculous — Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir.

Panini has announced the launch of the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 Official Sticker Collection. Dedicated to the women’s game and inspired by those who play it, this collection celebrates females in football and features all the teams competing in England this summer. Consisting of 366 stickers and 40 pages, this jam-packed collection features some of the most successful players in the women’s game. 

 

Spotlight Licensing has been appointed by Gaumont to launch and manage the global merchandise licensing program for Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles (which debuted on Netflix April 28th). 2022 may be the Year of the Tiger but it is also shaping up to be a big year for the rabbits of the highly anticipated Netflix animated kids series Samurai Rabbit: 

 

Wonderfold, the leader in stroller wagons for kids and families, is stepping back in time to introduce the VW4 Stroller Wagon, inspired by the vintage VW Bus. Designed to be both playful and functional, the wagon will hold up to four kids, come in original colors including Bondi Blue and Sage Green, and will include a bumper and functioning headlights.

 

Silvergate Media is joining forces with Tencent Video to bring its new animated series The Creature Cases to China. Silvergate will also partner with Tencent Video on a full consumer products roll-out in China from 2023, to be led by toys and publishing. The Creature Cases is an action, comedy and detective series animated by TeamTo that follows the adventures of a unique detective duo who specialize in solving ...

Moose Toys is poised to do so again with Magic Mixies Mixlings, a new collectible line based on global sales phenom Magic Mixies Magic Cauldron and The Legend of Akedo, an action-packed line of collectibles that represents the toymaker’s biggest boys’ brand launch to date. WildBrain CPLG, licensing agency for the two brands, will be hosting the toymaker at its booth during the Licensing Show in Las Vegas...

 

Vancouver’s Great Pacific Media (GPM) has entered into an exclusive multi-year strategic partnership with veteran unscripted content creator Sean Connolly’s newly launched Original Content Lab (OCL). The Toronto-based outfit is focused on developing unscripted kids and primetime series for the global market that will be produced by GPM, the factual division of Thunderbird Entertainment Group.

 

Hasbro and the LEGO Group inked a licensing deal for the LEGO Transformers Optimus Prime. Set to roll out next month, the set is expected to be a 1,508-piece build based upon Optimus Prime’s 1984 “G1” form — a box-style semi-truck cab that transforms into the famed Autobot leader.

 

PMI Ltd has announced it has signed a global toy, plush and stationery licensing agreement with Skydance Animation for Spellbound, Apple Original Films and Skydance Animation’s upcoming animated feature film, in a deal brokered by IMG. Directed by Vicky Jenson (Shrek) and written by Lauren Hynek and Elizabeth Martin (Mulan) and Linda Woolverton (The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast),

 

Hatsune Miku, the virtual pop-star performer, with help from the Carlin West Agency, adds new licensing and retail partners in the apparel, consumables, room décor, collectibles and footwear categories. These deals build on successful apparel and accessory programs by H3 Sportgear and Bioworld.

TCG Toys has announced that CoComelon and Miraculous Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir are the newest licensed properties to be featured on the company’s best-selling MegaMat line. The two additions join TCG Toys’ extensive portfolio of licensed playmats, including Barbie, Blues Clues & You, Paw Patrol, Hot Wheels, My Little Pony, Little Tikes, Tonka, Peppa Pig, PJ Masks, Thomas & Friends, Fisher Price and...

 

K.I.T.T., the legendary wonder car from the 80s hit series Knight Rider, joins the Playmobil Cars range! A sleek black sports car speeds towards the camera, the iconic theme tune plays and the voiceover begins: “Knight Rider, a shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man who does not exist. Michael Knight, a young loner on a crusade to champion the cause of the innocent, the helpless, the powerless, in a world...

WEBTOON Taps Surge To Rep Its Online Comics In L&M. The licensing agency that built Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will develop consumer products programs for select original IPs from the digital comic publisher’s titles. WEBTOON currently hosts upwards of 1.5 million comic series on its online platform, which has a global monthly user base of more than 82 million active readers, 15 million of which are based in the US...

 

Bulldog Licensing has announced two new deals for Topps Match Attax. Billionaire Board Games has introduced a co-branded Match Attax edition of Football Billionaire to its portfolio. The game invites players to build their ultimate team to outdo their rivals in a challenge and strategy game for all the family.

Sashay and play! Fisher-Price debuts RuPaul collectables. Fisher-Price has launched The Little People Collector RuPaul figure pack. Though this best-dressed set has shrunk down the 6’5 icon into 3-inch figurines, Fisher-Price promises that its Little People Collector set “is still guaranteed to provide BIG Queen MamaRu energy and style”. First introduced in 2019, Little People Collector is part of Fisher-Price’s continued...

 

Smiffys has penned a licensing deal with Pink Key Licensing to transform the popular snack Pringles into an array of costumes and accessories for all the family, based on the well-known can. The first range is set to launch in Q1 in 2023, with collections available in Europe, Middle East, Africa, Australia, UK, Ireland & Channel Islands. 

 

Banijay is getting into the high-tech world of NFTs with a decidedly low-tech test subject: Mr. Bean.  In a deal with Dubai-based NFT platform FOMO Lab, 3,333 unique digital collectibles will be created based on Mr Bean: The Animated Series from Banijay-owned prodco Tiger Aspect Kids and Family. This is Banijay’s first range of NFTs, and they will launch on May 25 via FOMO Labs’ marketplace The Avenue.

 

Canela Media To Launch New Kids AVOD Streaming Service.  Canela Kids will debut on August 16, featuring an original doc series from Upstairs Miami and Sofia Vergara’s Latin World Entertainment. New York’s Canela Media is expanding its portfolio of streaming platforms with the launch of a new Spanish-language AVOD for children ages two to 12.

 

Kids Podcast Wow In The World Hits The Road.  Tinkercast is expanding its hugely popular audio entertainment brand with an experiential ice cream truck tour of seven US cities beginning on May 21. Tinkercast is continuing to execute a 360-degree expansion plan for its successful Wow in the World science and tech podcast with the May 21 launch of a traveling US road show called WOW on Wheels.

Telepool’s Global Screen has picked up family-friendly feature films The Last Whale Singer and The School of Magical Animals 2 to bolster its 2022/2023 slate. The German distributor will present both features this month at the annual Cannes Film Market, where attendees can purchase pre-sale tickets for The Last Whale Singer and also watch The School of Magical Animals 2‘s first teaser.

 

The Mouse House is turning Shawn Amos’s upcoming debut novel Cookies & Milk into an animated series, with Disney Television Animation driving development. Actor Laurence Fishburne and Helen Sugland, who jointly own the studio Cinema Gypsy (Black-ish), will executive produce with Amos, Brian Egeston (who will pull double duty as story editor) and Jesse Murphy and James Sears Bryant from...

 

HBO Max and Cartoon Network have ordered a new animated feature film and series from Cartoon Network Studios. Driftwood is a 90-minute space adventure pic from creator and EP Victor Courtright (Aquaman: King of Atlantis) that’s in production now. It revolves around a tiny mouse-like creature who races to find a city that has discovered a safe and sustainable fuel source, all while trying to avoid an evil overlord.

 

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People of Play

Owl Diaries, the bestselling Scholastic book series penned by Rebecca Elliott, has been optioned by Apple TV+ as an animated series. Scholastic Entertainment will produce Eva the Owlet, with animation work from Ireland’s Brown Bag Films, but there are no details yet about the project’s animation style, format or release date.

 

Dan Cook joins Paramount as senior VP of Global eCommerce. In his new role, Dan Cook will will lead the startegy and execution of Paramount Consumer Products’ eCommerce business growth. Dan will bring valuable insights from previous experiences to create a global centre of excellence and help expand eCommerce penetration by defining innovative sales strategies and developing marketing programmes...

 

FUNKO TAPS RICH PAUL TO ITS BOARD OF DIRECTORS. The leading pop culture lifestyle brand revealed its appointment of Rich Paul to the company’s board of directors. The appointment is dependent on the pending sale of Funko stock by ACON Investments to The Chernin Group. 

“Rich is a preeminent sports agent and leading business professional who brings a wealth of experience in sports and music that we believe...

 

Spin Master announced the appointment of Michael Butcher as GM, NA as part of the co's Toy Creative Center leadership team. Butcher will drive Spin Master’s toy business, delivering sales plans and local marketing execution to align with overall toy growth and revenue goals. Reporting to Chris Beardall, Spin Master’s President of Toy and CCO Butcher will oversee a seasoned toy team including Tom Kelly, SVP Sales, US...

 

Women in Power: Foot Locker’s Samantha Lomow on Leading With a ‘Spirit of Play” and Her Advice for Female Leaders.  When Samantha Lomow joined Foot Locker as the company’s first-ever president of global brands in March, she had a clear leadership mantra in mind: lead with a spirit of play. Before joining Foot Locker, Lomow had most recently served as the president of branded entertainment at Hasbro...

Flair GP welcomes back Verity Page.  Verity Page, née Groom, re-joins the company’s sales and marketing division to build on her six-year history with the firm. She previously held the title of Marketing manager at Flair and played a fundamental role in the launch of multiple key brands, being integral in the success story of Shopkins.

 

Kate Holman has joined Playmobil as the new senior National Account manager with a focus on the toy specialist channel. Kate brings with her a wealth of knowledge and industry experience, having held a senior national account role at Kids2 for the last three years, as well as buyer roles at Mothercare, ELC and Tesco.

 

USAopoly (The Op), a family entertainment company and leading manufacturer of best-selling board games, puzzles, and more, is thrilled to announce the return of the founder, Dane Chapin, as CEO. After pursuing other business ventures, Chapin returns to his roots to elevate The Op to the next level following monumentally successful years for the company. He plans to lead the expansion beyond board games...

 

***The above posted after the bloom Report started sending on May 13th***

 

Toy Stories Podcast Episode 4 - My Journey on My Terms. The always entertaining Eric Poses, owner of All Things Equal, discusses being a one-man operation and carving a path in his business life that allows him to place what he values in the forefront.  During and post Covid lockdown many people began evaluating their work life in the same terms Eric always has.  

The Infant, Science and Puzzle company Clementoni has announced the appointment of Paul Fogarty to the role of country manager, UK and Ireland. Paul joins Clementoni with over 25 years’ experience in the toy and licensing industry, leading sales and marketing for multiple global brands including Mattel and Tomy, and more recently leading and re-establishing K’Nex in the UK. 

The shakeups at Warner Bros. Discovery continue today, with the company confirming that Tom Ascheim will soon vacate his role as president of kids, young adults and classics. Ascheim, who joined Warner Bros. in 2020 from Disney-owned tween net Freeform, oversees global strategy for Cartoon Network, Boomerang and Adult Swim. He also manages Cartoon Network Studios and Warner Bros. Animation in LA.

Ex-Warner Bros. distribution chief Jeffrey Schlesinger has launched a new strategic advisory company, with the appropriately named Former Bros. Media apparently taking a cheeky jab at his one-time employers. Schlesinger, who most recently served as president of Warner Bros. Worldwide Television Distribution, exited the studio in 2021 after 37 yrs with the US giant, amid a wholesale restructuring of the company...

 

ERIK QUAM JOINS MAGFORMERS AS PRESIDENT, NORTH AMERICA OPERATIONSQuam joins the company from Harbor Freight Tools, prior to which he held longstanding roles at Fat Brain Toys and Mindware. In his new role, Quam will draw from his background in product development, sourcing, merchandising, sales, international distribution, catalog, and inventor relations to steer the Magformers business into the future.

STEVE MARKEY GETS HOG WILD ON THE ‘POWER KID PODCAST’. In this week’s episode of the “Power Kid Podcast,” host Phil Albritton of Power Kid Design welcomes Steve Markey, vice president of sales and marketing at Hog Wild Toys to the show. For more than two decades, Markey has traversed the toy industry with roles at Wham-O, PlanToys, Green Toys, Crazy Aaron’s, and more.

 

Elenco, the manufacturer behind the educational Snap Circuits line of STEM construction toys, has appointed Anthony Trani as CEO. Trani’s appointment supports the company’s larger efforts to strengthen and expand its business to the global market.  “I am excited to join the Elenco team and privileged to work for such a well-respected company in both the toy and education industries,” Trani says.

 

MIKE PINDER NAMED VP OF TECHNOLOGY, GURU STUDIO. Guru Studio is expanding its production technology infrastructure and team. The animation studio known for its work on Spin Master’s PAW Patrol and the Sesame Street Mecha Builders series hired Mark Pinder as its vice president of technology. 

 

Moose Toys names Chedney Rodgers as SVP Global & US Marketing.  Moose Toys has announced that industry veteran Chedney Rodgers has joined the company as senior vice president, global and US marketing. She will be based at the company’s US operation in El Segundo, California, beginning today.

 

Ravensburger has confirmed the appointment of Richard Collins to continue the company’s trajectory of growth in the region. Richard will oversee Ravensburger UK’s entire portfolio which includes the flagship brand as well as the ThinkFun, GraviTrax, Brio and CreArt brands, spanning the puzzles, games, play sets and craft categories.

 

MGA Entertainment  has announced the appointment of Sara Taylor as its new managing director for UK and Ireland. With over 31 years’ experience within the international toy industry, Sara Taylor joins MGA from Spin Master, where she has worked for over 13 years – most recently as general manager for the UK, Ireland and Amazon Europe. Prior to this, Sara has also held senior positions at Funrise and Mattel.

Ubisoft has appointed a new SVP of studios operations. Ubisoft has appointed company veteran Marie-Sophie de Waubert as its SVP of studios operations. In the new role, de Waubert will lead strategy for Ubisoft's production studios worldwide and will report to Ubisoft CEO and co-founder Yves Guillemot. Prior to being named SVP of studios operations, de Waubert was managing director of Ubisoft Paris...

VR Distribution welcomes Penny Westwood. VR Distribution, the company behind bringing hit games such as Cards Against Humanity, What Do You Meme, Kids Against Maturity and many more to the UK, has announced the appointment of Penny Westwood as account manager. In her new role, Penny will strengthen the company’s increased focus on supporting key and independent retailers.

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Companies and Brands

Netflix Lays Off 150 Staffers, Cancels Three Kids Projects.  More employees were let go this week as the streamer faces slowing growth and continues to trim its kids portfolio with new cancellations, including Ava DuVernay's high-profile series Wings of Fire. The company is also scaling back its spending on content in the face of declining subscriptions and an increasingly competitive streaming landscape. 

 

A.B. Gee launches 2022 Mattel Autumn/Winter catalogue.  As one of the main distributors for Mattel in the UK, A.B.Gee has made sure the brochure is packed full of the company’s iconic toys as well as new, trend setting products. Featuring over 170 lines, classic ranges from Fisher Price, Thomas and Friends, Barbie and Hot Wheels are included, along with new lines from Paw Patrol and Pokémon.

 

Elements Come To Life In New Pixar Pic. Inspired by director Peter Sohn's childhood growing up in N Yas the son of Korean immigrants, the movie features characters based on each of the 4 elements: fire, water, air and land. Set in a city where every resident is based on one of the four elements, the movie revolves around Ember (fire) and Wade (water), who discover that they actually have more in common than they thought.

 

Headspinner Productions has found a formula for speedy growth and is sticking to it. The Toronto-based company’s new 2D-animated series Gisele’s MishMash Adventures (pictured) is its third consecutive 10 x three-minute project to use a strategy of digital-first funding and content inspired by an existing IP or driven by a recognizable influencer with a built-in audience.

 

The Rainbow High crew is welcoming six new dolls to create the brand’s most diverse and inclusive collection of characters yet. Rainbow High’s fourth series maintains the fabulous glam of previous collections. Including a fashion doll with albinism, a character of South Asian Indian descent, a doll with vitiligo, and a multicultural Asian doll, each doll proudly represents their own identity with bold accessories. 

 

With the acquisition of the new 35,000² metre warehouse near Venlo, Northern Europe, Rubies will open its latest DC and fulfillment centre, increasing the company’s strength in distribution and reach. Rubies says the new centre will enable it to stay two steps ahead and ensure it is unmatched in terms of stock holding. The 35,000² metre warehouse is the latest in a series of empowering business expansion...

Snakes and Lattes has opened two new U.S. locations, bringing the count for the board game bar and café chain to nine.  The two new locations are in Glendale, CA and Provo, UT. The Provo store was opened from the acquisition of Good Move Café, which will continue to operate under its legacy name "given the influence of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the area," the company said in its announcement...

 

Komarc Games to Unveil New StickiKubes and Finger Topz at ASTRA 2022. Retailers looking for something fresh and full of delight will be sticking around Booth 1731 at ASTRA as Komarc Games unveils StickiKubes ($9.99) and Finger Topz ($14.99) plus showcases a half dozen best seller boxed toys and games. 

 

Bravado, Universal Music Group’s merchandise and brand management company, has announced the centralization of both Bravado and Epic Rights licensing rosters. Bravado acquired Epic Rights in 2019 and the new structure includes the expanded purview of Epic Rights’ SVP Global Licensing, Lisa Streff, to oversee global licensing strategies across both companies. Streff will work closely with the existing Bravado...

The Toy Book sat down with  Daniel DeLapa, chief marketing officer for Creative Kids, to hear about the brand’s collaborations and its new line of sensory toys. The Toy Book: Creative Kids is on a mission to help harness the creativity and self-expression in every kid. Tell us about Creative Kids’ goals and how they’re reflected in the brand’s products.

 

HOW HASBRO IS USING TODAY’S TRENDS AND NOSTALGIA FOR A BRIGHT FUTURE. Shifts in consumer behavior are natural and expected, especially as new generations bring new interests and habits to light. However, the COVID-19 pandemic intensified the way — and how often — people engage with brands and products, fueling the world into a content-rich society that is “always on.” 

 

Mattel has announced a major change to the way it deals with selected members of the UK independent retail channel. In a letter sent out to Toymaster members on Friday 13th May, the company said it has looked at the best ways to efficiently and effectively support the independent retail channel, ultimately deciding to cease direct supply of certain accounts as of 1st July. Instead, affected retailers are advised to...

Smart Games, a worldwide leader in multi-level logic games, has unveiled its latest game: Horse Academy, a charming game for little ones aged 7 years plus.  Allowing players to create their own show jumping path and sequence, the all-new game will have players working towards the winning rosette. Taking the horse successfully from start to finish is a mind boggler, and players must canter their steed over the jumps in the...

 

Character Options has introduced its latest squishy, stretchy and tactile brand, GooZonians, to the Dolls aisle. Mark tells us how, in the early days of the Goo Jit Zu journey, it very quickly became clear that the concept was a hit with girls as well as boys. “We knew there would be demand for a similar new brand that was specifically targeted at the collectible dolls category,” he explains. 

Topps was honoured at the prestigious 2022 UK Newspaper and Magazine Awards on 12th May, taking home the hotly contested Campaign of the Year accolade for its Match Attax Season 2021/22 Collection. It’s been a strong start to the year for Topps following its Jan. 2022 acquisition by Fanatics Inc., the US global digital giant specialising in licensed sports merchandise, trading cards, collectibles, digital...

 

The Chameleon brand has long been at the forefront of stationery, art & craft, and toy innovation, and the co. says it is now ready to expand its global reach. As the company teams up with Heathside Trading, Henry Belmonte, CEO of Chameleon, commented: ‘’We are sure Heathside’s many yrs of experience and global network will help supercharge Bledypen’s reach and bring our much loved products to a new...

Mattel Targets Collectors With Resurrected Monster High Toy Line.  "We’ve been waiting for the right moment to reignite the Monster High brand to connect with (and make a greater impact on) issues like inclusion, diversity and community," Lisa McKnight, Mattel's EVP and global head of Barbie and dolls, tells Kidscreen.

Disney+ is finishing up a big reboot project, but it’s not a typical case of refreshing a movie franchise or a TV series. Launching on the streamer on June 15, Family Reboot is a new six-part live-action series from NY-based prodcos Milojo Productions and Talos Films that focuses on real-life families that have been too busy to spend time together. Through games, challenges and uninterrupted time for heartfelt conversations...

 

***The above posted after tBR started sending on morning of May 13th***

 

Mattel launches new UNO Pack with Wild Twists playing cards. Mattel has launched a brand new pack of UNO cards today to bring something new to standard card decks with Wild Twists Playing Cards. This is their take on a standard 52 card deck and the first UNO deck where you will be able to play all of your favorite classic card games like Poker, Go Fish, and Gin Rummy. However, they come with the fun options of...

New type of kids’ play, learning experience to open NYC flagship. Genius Gems is coming to the Big Apple. The company will open its first flagship in late fall 2022, near the Union Square area of Manhattan. The 10,000-sq.-ft., two-floor space will feature a retail store, café and play area where guests can play individually — and in teams— with a vast collection of magnetic tiles that offer 2D and 3D design challenges.

Salta has been manufacturing trampolines since 2012 and is recognised in the UK as a premium brand in the outdoor toy market. MadFun has announced its appointment as the exclusive UK distributor for Salta. Having successfully sold Salta trampolines in the UK for the past three years, the company says it is ‘thrilled’ to be taking the next step with the Salta brand.

 

Toy World caught up with DKB Toys & Distribution MD Chris Lohmeyer to find out how the company’s first 18 months in business has gone, and what lies ahead for 2022. Toy World first profiled DKB Toys & Distribution back in February last year, almost six months after the company was launched. In that interview, Chris spoke about his goal of establishing a toy and distribution company that offers service...

 

Dream Beams, from Happy Line Toys, are cute, plush glow in the dark characters, each given added collectability with imaginative back stories from a Dream Beams World. The partnership kicks off with the first wave on show at the Toymaster May Show, which runs in Harrogate from 17th-19th May. and they will be available for delivery from this month. 

Gameboard + GameStop Team-Up For Live, In-Store Game Night Experience.  The 10-City Gameboard Experience Kicks-Off in Oklahoma

Ushering In The Next Dimension of Tabletop Gaming and Leveling Up Our Game Nights. Together, this live and in-person experience cheers on the tabletop community’s triumphant return of game night. Players can join in and play at participating GameStop stores and reserve...

 

Orchard Toys has appointed Kayes of Cardiff as its exclusive distribution partner to the independent toy sector covering England, Wales and Scotland. Under the terms of the partnership, Kayes will carry the entire Orchard Toys product portfolio. Independent retailers will still be able to order split-pack quantities of Orchard Toys games and jigsaws, and benefit from the same pricing they currently receive.

 

Plush toy maker and lifestyle gift creator Douglas Company adds two more little cuties to their plush line-up this year with Hedgehogs Stuey and Sally. Hedgehogs have a reputation for cuteness, and their popularity has not wavered. Douglas’ newest Hedgehogs are designed for ages 3 and up and are hitting store shelves now. Douglas Company celebrates their 66th year as a leader in the plush industry! 

 

VTech Communications, Incorporated, a leading manufacturer of award-winning baby monitors, announced the availability of its first-ever line of LeapFrog baby monitors. The introductory line, available now at major retailers nationwide, consists of seven models including both smart video baby monitors and video baby monitors, with additional models being released later this year. 

 

All your favorite Sanrio characters, including Hello Kitty, are getting a new blind box collection – Kandy x Sanrio ft. Jason Freeny (Series 01).  Featuring six regular characters and one rare character, fans will have the chance to unbox every sweet Kandy flavor and collect them all. Inspired by your favorite candied treats like pastel pink bubblegum or golden yellow sweet caramel, every figure features a different...

Moonbug Entertainment is launching It’s Cody Time, CoComelon’s first-ever spinoff channel featuring Cody Green and his loving family. The musical pre-school series debuts on YouTube with two special episodes, “Cody’s Spy Song” and “I’m going to be a Big Brother”, followed by a new episode each Wednesday, bringing positive and fun content to children around the world.

 

A new movie set in the world of the Descendants franchise has been greenlit for Disney+. The musical from Disney Branded TV is in development now under the working title The Pocketwatch. Jennifer Phang will direct the project and is also serving as an EP alongside Gary Marsh. With a time-travel storyline, the movie will feature seven new songs and two new characters—rebel Red and perfectionist Chloe. 

 

Holiday Channel Maps Out Expansion From Film Fest To SVOD. KIDSCREEN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: The company's CEO and COO reveal how they want to make every day feel like a holiday for kids and families. Holiday ChannelDoes Pizza Day count as a holiday? It definitely does if you’re five years old. And also if you’re a fledgling content empire looking to create franchisable formats with a holiday hook.

 

ToyNews EXCLUSIVE: Sambro comes of age.  It’s a milestone year for Sambro, with the Bury-based toy company celebrating 25 years in business and growth expected to hit nearly 40 per cent. CEO Paul Blackaby talks to ToyNews about what the next quarter century might bring, and why investing in Gen Z now will pay dividends later...

 

Showcase, a Canadian retailer that bills itself as “Home of the Hottest Trends” is expanding its footprint in the U.S. market after opening 10 stores in the Northeast three years ago. The company, which sells toys and novelties alongside home, health and beauty, candy, and food items, will open 27 stores across 12 states beginning next month.

 

American Girl is headed to HBO Max and Cartoon Network. Mattel inked a deal with Warner Bros. for a pair of live-action American Girl specials that will be available on Cartoon Network and HBO Max. MarVista Entertainment, a Fox Entertainment company, will produce. The first special, American Girl: Corinne Tan, will debut this December on Cartoon Network and will stream the following day on HBO Max.

 

New Barbies Meet Demand For Doll Diversity. Kids want to see themselves reflected in their toys, and a new range from Mattel’s top-selling brand will feature hearing aids, prosthetic limbs and other inclusive characteristics... the toyco’s new Fashionistas range features the first-ever Barbie to use a behind-the-ear hearing aid; a doll with a prosthetic leg; a Ken doll with vitiligo (a skin condition); and a wider variety of body types.

 

Spin Master Opens Applications for 2022 Future of Play Scholarship Program.  Now in its second year, the program will support those studying in the fields of  Toys, Entertainment and Digital Games. In 2021, Spin Master granted seven scholarships to individuals from underrepresented communities, including BIPOC, women and LGBTQIA+ students seeking post-secondary education within the areas of toy ...

 

Snorble has named its board of directors, featuring five members from different backgrounds including innovation, education, technology, finance, and cybersecurity. The first two members on the board are Snorble co-founders Mike Rizkalla and Doug Hughes. Rizkalla, also CEO of Snorble, is a leader in the technology and robotics industry with experience in organizations ranging from startup businesses...

 

Izipline seeks UK distributor. The easy to set up kits from Izipline create a family adventure space in the garden, plus harnesses, helmets and gloves are also available.  Since 2004, Izipline has been bringing the fun of ziplines into gardens and playgrounds with its range of quality products at affordable prices. The company’s ziplines are specially designed to encourage kids to go outside and get active...

 

Toy World spoke to Jose Manuel Diaz Ballarin and Alex Prieto about why toy companies should consider a partnership with design agency ToyZone. ToyZone, an innovative and enthusiastic specialist toy design agency, is enjoying strong success, with design collaborations continuing to rack up and an ever-increasing suite of services on offer.

 

Asmodee opened a new game studio called Access+ that adapts existing board games for players with cognitive disabilities. Asmodee partnered with an external scientific committee of care professionals to accommodate existing titles for players with disabilities that impact speech, social relation, attention, emotional control, planning, and memory.  Access+ will release accessible versions of Spot It!, Cortex, and ...

 

The LEGO Group launches LEGO City Missions.  The LEGO Group has today announced a unique interactive experience for budding designers: LEGO City Missions. The new experience will take kids on a story-led building journey – putting imagination and creative experimentation to the test. It’s the latest innovation from LEGO City that lets children dive into an awesome world of interactive adventures and missions...

 

Simba Dickie Group shares strategic vision.  Simba Dickie’s new strategic vision will lay the foundations for the future success of the family-owned company. Founded as Simba Toys in 1982, Simba Dickie Group is celebrating its 40th anniversary with the third generation of management at the helm. Florian Sieber took over as CEO one year ago, in May 2021, and has detailed ‘Our Spirit’, the new strategic vision of the ...

 

Behind the scenes at Ravensburger.  Having kicked off 2022 with a raft of new games and a €4 million investment in crowdfunding platform Gamefound, Ravensburger is on a mission to become “the most trusted gaming brand” on a global scale. ToyNews sat down with Filip Francke and Thomas Bleyer to find out about the company’s next moves

 

Husband and-wife team Declan Fahy and Kate Scott share why they believe tech has a place in play, what new licensing deals bring to the table, and their plans for the future of HoloToyz. ‘Positive’ is perhaps not a word everyone would choose to describe the past two years, but for HoloToyz, which was officially founded during the first lockdown in March 2020,

 

Bandai and Tomy are part of a trend in which companies are recycling products made from petroleum-based materials, reflecting an increased awareness of sustainable development goals (SDGs) as well as soaring material prices and tighter emissions regulations at home and abroad.

India’s leading toy manufacturer, Funskool India is back with launching yet another blockbuster range of toys for children this summer. The wide range of new products are from a diverse range of categories such as board games, puzzles, Infants & pre-school, dough etc. This range will not only encourage the development of multiple skills: cognitive, physical, social, and emotional but also help parents to fully engage their...

 

Continuing its “Tribute” collection, Mattel is back with another Barbie doll inspired by none other than Vera Wang. The toy co’s ongoing range celebrates leading figures across all industries who have helped shape and impact culture. Having started with a small bridal boutique during the early years of her career, Wang has established a name for herself in the fashion industry and transcended cultural boundaries.

Steamforged Games unveils 'Epic Encounters: Island of the Crab Archon'. Steamforged Games unveiled Epic Encounters: Island of the Crab Archon, a new standalone encounter boxed set, which is currently on preorder. Epic Encounters hits the high seas for a crustacean abomination of an adventure. This boxed set pits adventurers against the Karkinos, the cut-throat crab folk of the briny depths. 

 

Pegasus Spiele will release 'Animotion' into U.S. retail. Pegasus Spiele will release Animotion, a new family party game, into U.S. retail in 2022. In Animotion, a player pantomimes an animal that is displaying a specific emotion. The other players attempt to guess the animal and emotion based on six cards each with animals and emotions on them. 

 

Games Workshop announces 'Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Echoes of Doom'. Games Workshop announced Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Echoes of Doom, a new battlebox set, for release soon. This boxed set features new skaven and Sylvaneth models. The skaven are led into battle by the Grey Seer Skrittat, master of subtlety, and their army has assassins, such as Deathmaster Virrtik. 

 

Games Workshop unleashes five 'Warhammer 40,000' kits. Games Workshop unleashed five Warhammer 40,000 model kits, featuring Imperial Knights and Chaos Knights, which will release on May 15, 2022. Back in March, GW unveiled two new codices and the Chaos Knights Army Set (see "New 'Knights' Codexes"). These new model kits expand upon these two releases by adding five knight kits to the mix.

Asmodee will release 'Platypus' into U.S. retail. Asmodee will release Platypus, a new party game by Matagot, into U.S. retail on May 13.. In Platypus, a Guide (active player) gives clues that form adjectives which define the Platypus to Explorers (the team players) so that they can guess a noun on a card. They choose the adjectives from eight common or proper names on the Platypus cards that are face up in front of all the players. 

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Gaming: Digital, Video, Hardware, and Development

EA and FIFA end nearly 30-year-old-partnership. EA and FIFA have ended their video game partnership after nearly 30 years as the soccer game franchise rebrands to EA Sports FC. The gaming firm formally announced its rebranding on social media and released a statement on the change. 

FIFA will be rebranded as EA Sports FC in 2023. EA has confirmed it will rebrand FIFA as EA Sports FC in 2023. Last year, the company said it was exploring the idea of dropping the FIFA moniker from its popular soccer sim after almost three decades and would be "reviewing" its naming rights agreement with FIFA. EA CEO Andrew Wilson was also reportedly skeptical of permanently tying the franchise..

 

FIFA to create "major new simulation football title" after split from EA. FIFA intends to continue making soccer sims without EA after the U.S. publisher called time on its licensing deal with the world football governing body. Earlier today, EA confirmed FIFA 23 will be the final entry in the popular soccer series when it arrives later this year, with the company choosing to rebrand the franchise as EA Sports FC in 2023. 

 

LEGO’s take on Smash Bros. will hit consoles this summer. The latest franchise to get the Super Smash Bros.-style experience is Lego — except, instead of pitting familiar characters against each other, Lego Brawls lets you build your own. Now, technically, this game isn’t new. It’s actually a port of a mobile game from 2019, which was an Apple Arcade exclusive. But the upcoming port will bring it to a wider audience..

 

Chinese regulators want to restrict how young people engage with live streamers. China is restricting how young people use live streaming services as part of a regulatory crackdown on the sector. According to Reuters, the National Radio and Television Administration (NRTA) is ushering in controls that will prevent under-18s from tipping live streamers or becoming live streamers without consent from a guardian. 

 

Apex Legends is still growing dramatically, three years after launch. EA and Respawn Entertainment's Apex Legends is still showing signs of major growth, and is starting to become a key part of the publisher's financial structure. In the company's full-year results for fiscal year 2022, it indicated that the battle royale shooter's growth is still going strong, with a 40 percent increase in net bookings year over year,...

 

EA hopes The Lord of the Rings can help accelerate its mobile business. EA is developing a new free-to-play mobile game based on The Lord of the Rings. The project is being created in partnership with Middle-earth Enterprises -- a division of The Saul Zaentz Company -- which owns the worldwide exclusive rights to certain elements of both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. 

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Safety and Counterfeiting

 

Counterfeit Frozen dolls, Barbies, Lego; China's toy industry thrives on cheap rip-offs, but who pays the price? It's the consumer and nations that pay the price. China's billion-dollar toy industry has inundated markets with cheaper toys and snubbed out local industries. Disney characters, Avengers' super heroes to Harry Potter series, if there is a successful franchise in the toy or cartoon or video games industry, rest assured, there is a Chinese knock-off flooding the market. Counterfeit Frozen Dolls, Legos, Barbies, Star Wars toys are all across the continents. But the knock-off toys are anything but low profile as the stakes are high and the industry runs into billions and its implications are very significant.

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Highlighted Press Releases

 

ON YOUR MARC, GET SET, PLAY THREE ENGAGING GAMES SOLO OR AS A GROUP.  Best Seller tummple, StickiKubes & Shoppin’ Blowout Are Designed For Kids And Kidults To Enjoy Playing Every Day, In Any Way! Logan, UT (May 19, 2022) – At a time when so much school and entertainment takes place on a screen, it’s refreshing to play a game with your hands. Komarc Games suggests three titles for solo or multiplayer fun that involves strategic thinking (tummple $21.99), a bit of creativity (StickiKubes $9.99), and a hybrid board game, (Shopping’ Blowout $29.99), that offers an optional app for those that just can’t resist having a tablet or smartphone nearby.

 

 

 

WHERE WILL RETAILERS BE STICKING AROUND AT ASTRA? TRY BOOTH 1731 PLAYING STICKIKUBES & TUMMPLE®.  Komarc Games Is All About Hands-On Family Fun With Its 2022 Catalog And Best Sellers In Stock And Ready For Truly All-Ages Play! Logan, Utah (May 11, 2022) – Specialty retailers have always had a keen eye for finding the perfect product for their customers. ASTRA’s Marketplace is this summer’s not-to-be-missed specialty toy show. Retailers looking for something fresh and full of delight will be sticking around Booth 1731 as Komarc Games unveils StickiKubes ($9.99) and finger topz ($14.99) plus showcases a half dozen best seller boxed toys and games. All are in stock and ready for childhood exploration.

 

GET READY FOR FUN IN THE FÖM THIS SUMMER!  Excitement is Bubbling Over for Active Outdoor Play the Föm Mania® Way Now in Stock at Target.  Also Available Now at Walgreens, CVS, BJ’s, Kohl’s, Meijer and Dollar General.   Little Kids Inc., the number one bubble manufacturer in the U.S. is excited to see their Föm Mania products hitting the shelves. Give the kids a blast they will never forget with the Fömilator foam blaster ($14.99 at Target). It’s the trendiest mess-free fun that blasts streams of foam, making it perfect for backyard play battles! When you just can’t get enough foam, look for the Fömalanche at Target ($39.99). 

 

EVER TUG AN OCTOPUS? GET READY, RETAILERS, TO POP, BEND & PULL THE TOOBIMALS AT ASTRA BOOTH 1823. These Soft Plush Toys Hail From The Sea Or Jungle With An Irresistible Twist: A Please-Touch-Tube That’s Entices Play Plus They’re Great For Our Planet! Atlantic Beach, NY (May 10, 2022) – Specialty toy retailers will be on the hunt at ASTRA’s Marketplace for the perfect products to stretch limited 4th quarter budgets while delighting young customers. A look-see at Booth 1823 will have them not only stretching but popping, pushing, pulling and smiling. Say hello to the Original Toobimals, a sensory toobed plush toy.

Associations, Shows, Awards, Events, and Festivals

 

Brand Licensing Europe (BLE) has officially closed applications for its Retail Mentoring Programme (RMP) for the first time in its 12-year history, following a record uptake with 82 buyers from 19 different retailers. The annual programme kicked off last week when 78 RMP delegates attended Licensing International’s Licensing Essentials course in central London. 

As kids and families gear up for a fun-filled summer of play, the “Best of Spring & Summer 2022 Influencer Choice List,” presented by The Toy Association and powered by Clamour, unveiled the hottest toys and games as voted on by top-tier toy and family content creators. Consumers can shop the list for toy ideas that will keep kids engaged all summer long – from playthings perfect for backyard fun to...

Accolades aplenty at Toymaster Awards Dinner. As part of the May Show in Harrogate, last night saw the welcome return of the Toymaster Awards Dinner to the Majestic Hotel. After a busy couple of days at the Toymaster show, Wednesday evening saw Toymaster suppliers and independent retailers alike welcomed to an elegant evening of food and live musical entertainment, which marked the return of the buying...

The BTHA has presented six Golden Teddy Awards to six exceptional individuals representing a number of areas across the industry, all of whom have contributed considerably to the toy sector over many years. Golden Teddy Awards were presented to Russell Lipman (Wilton Bradley), Paul Wright (Mashal Toy Agencies), Mike Coe (BTHA sustainability consultant), Michael Ives (Mamas and Papas), David Bolton...

 

Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment (WiT) has a new board of directors. The global nonprofit organization and the toy industry’s voice for the advancement of women has elected nine new members to its board of directors. WiT appointed the following people to its board: 

  • Anne Carrihill, director and GM category leader toys and games at Amazon, Tara Deakin, EVP and chief people officer at Spin Master ....

 

The Hasbro Charity 7-a-side Football and Netball tournaments will make a return this year on Friday 8th July, at Brunel University Sports Grounds, Uxbridge. Teams from companies across the toy trade are invited to sign up now to secure a place in this industry-wide event. The tournaments, organised by Hasbro, are now in their 8th year. Past events have been much enjoyed and raised in excess of £8,000 for The Toy...

 

The inspiring new Thomas & Friends Int'l Friendship Day awards commend outstanding acts of friendship from young children over the past yr, such as putting others first, kindness, and going above and beyond to help and support a friend. Nominations are open online with winners to be announced by celebrity dad, singer and musician Aston Merrygold at an awards ceremony ahead of Int'l Friendship Day 30th July...

 

41 THINGS TO DO AT LICENSING EXPO. The countdown is on, and Licensing Expo 2022 is about to throw open its doors at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas for an epic gathering of the global licensing community. As of this writing, more than 3,800 meetings have been booked to take place from May 24-26, and that’s only the ones that are trackable through the Licensing Expo digital platform.

 

Comic-Con International has announced the 2022 nominations for the Will Eisner Industry Awards. DC Comics was the publisher with the most nominations (15, plus 7 shared nominations for writer, artist, etc.), and Image was next, with 14 nominations plus 4 more shared nominations. Fantagraphics Books and Image Comics/Top Shelf Productions garnered 11 each.

 

LEGO Group is inviting brick fans all over the world to join the second annual LEGO CON event, following the success of last year’s virtual event. Kicking off on June 18, the event includes a sneak peek behind the scenes to discover the amazing new things the LEGO Group has on offer, while sharing the experience alongside an awesome community centred around the same creative passion. 

 

As the Toymaster show kicks off, Toy World explores how many suppliers are keen to offer extensive support, on everything from window display programmes to MOQs, demo stock to event support and more. Amy Saunders of Just Play commented: “Independents are experts at creating lasting memories and we’re committed to supporting this in any way we can.”

 

The submissions window for Kidscreen’s Hot50, an annual ranking of the top 50 companies in kids broadcasting, production, distribution, licensing and digital media, is now open. Applicants have until July 29 to complete an  online form outlining their company’s three biggest achievements from the last 12 months. Submissions can be made in more than one category, depending on the scope of a company’s...

 

The Brand Licensing Europe event will see familiar names returning this year, alongside new exhibitors across all key sectors of licensing.  Brand Licensing Europe, organised in partnership with industry trade association Licensing International, has announced the initial list of companies confirmed to exhibit at the 2022 event, which runs from 20th-22nd September at ExCeL London.

 

The ICTI Ethical Toy Program (IETP) has announced the launch of an Environmental Assessment Module, a new online tool to facilitate climate action for the global supply chain. IETP’s Environmental Assessment (EA) is a quick and cost-effective solution companies can use to gain oversight of the positive and negative environmental impacts of their business operations and those of their suppliers.

***The above posted after May 13th***

 

The final countdown to Generation Media’s KidsCon22 event is on.  All proceeds from the KidsCon22 event will go to UK toy industry charity the Toy Trust, which distributes donations to charities helping disadvantaged and disabled children. KidsCon22Following a hiatus over the last two years of lockdown, Generation Media, a leading independent media specialist for children, young people and families, has announced...

 

The ATA’s annual charity Golf Day was held on the 3rd May and despite the wind, the weather was perfect for the event. 17 teams turned out on the green for a great day of golf and networking. Being the first industry event held since May last year, it was handshakes and smiles all around.Following 18 holes, everyone settled down afterwards in the club house for canapes and drinks. 

 

San Diego Comic-Con will require proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test to attend the comic industry’s most important annual event, the convention organization announced, and follow other Covid safety rules.  Chief among those is a requirement for all attendees five years old and above to wear face coverings at the show.  

 

Toymaster Preview.  With one week to go until the show, Rachael Simpson-Jones provides all you need to know to plan your visit and speaks to the Toymaster team about how the buying group is evolving this year. The hugely popular Toymaster May show returns this month after being forced to sit out its 2020 and 2021 iterations by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

 

Women in Animation (WIA) and the International Federation of Film Producers Associations (FIAPF) have selected six finalists for their inaugural Stories x Women program. The initiative is designed to bolster diverse voices in animation globally, with a focus on female creators from Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America—three regions with growing creative talent pools.

 

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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.

John R Hall, Jr.  (February 28, 1946 - May 3, 2022) - John Hall began his career in toys with Child Guidance, which was eventually bought by Gabriel and then by CBS Toys. Ultimately, Hasbro purchased this group and John and his wife, Nancy, moved to Rhode Island with their two children, Jonathan and Kirsten, where he had a long career working at Hasbro as Sr VP, Director of Product Development for Playskool. He was affectionately known and embraced the moniker “Dr. No” by toy inventors for his discerning taste. John, with his characteristic dry humor also didn’t mind being referred to as “Dr. Know”. (information from Bob Fuhrer) 

David Ward. Co-founded Spectrum Games in 1983 (which would later become Ocean Software) has died at age 75. Ward's passing was announced by his son Ben Ward. Colleagues, friends, and family on social media described him as a legendary fixture of the United Kingdom game industry. Ocean Software had its heyday in the era of ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64 games. He helped shepherd games like Daley Thompson's Decathalon, Rambo: First Blood Part II, and Short Circuit across the finish line. As the U.K.'s Science and Industry Museum notes, Ward and Ocean Games found a successful model for the video game business in an era when its competitors began to flounder. Part of the company's success was built on acquiring cheap licenses for popular films and producing games based on them. Ocean Software technically still exists today, though that's because it was purchased by Infrogames in the late '90s. Today, Infrogames is better known as, ironically enough, Atari SA. In 2004, Ward and Ocean Software co-founder Jon Woods were inducted into the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (better known today as The Association for UK Interactive Entertainment, or Ukie) Hall of Fame. ELSPA director general Roger Bennett credited the pair for coining "the terminology of the games industry" and laying the foundation for licensed game adaptations that is still in use today.

 

Nick Alfieri. Independent games publishers Digerati and Big Sugar have announced that Nick Alfieri, founder and CEO of both companies, died late last week. Calling Alfieri's passing "unexpected," the statement provided by the two companies described it as a painful loss, and that his colleagues are beyond devastated at the news. Friends and colleagues on social media echoed these sentiments, praising his enthusiasm and collaborative attitude. Developers who signed games with his companies were thankful for his efforts to shepherd their games to release.

Big Sugar and Digerati have published a number of unique games, including a virtual reality entry in the Sam & Max franchise: Sam & Max: This Time It's Virtual. Other notable games from these two companies include Glee Cheese Studios' A Musical Story and Ludomotion's Unexplored 2.

Alfieri is survived by his wife and young daughter.

 

GEORGE PEREZ  (1954 - 2022) - Writer, artist, and humanitarian George Perez died of pancreatic cancer on May 6, at the age of 67. Born in the Bronx in 1954, Perez worked on numerous series for both DC and Marvel over the years, as well as for other publishers such as Malibu, CrossGen, and BOOM! Studios. Perez was known for his skill with complicated scenes, and he contributed to such groundbreaking projects as DC's Crisis on Infinite Earths and the Marvel-DC crossover JLA/Avengers. Perez was also one of the founding members of The Hero Initiative, a nonprofit that assists comics creators in need. He received the Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award in 2005, and in 2017 he was inducted into the Eisner Awards Hall of Fame. READ MORE...

 

Mel Squires - (the following is from Jerry Cleary) - Melvin Squires long time industry executive passed away at age 85 on April 23 rd , 2022 after fighting a courageous battle with cancer. He is survived by his beloved wife and best friend, Deena (nee Label). He is the loving father of Deborah Cleighton( the late Robert Cleighton) and David Squires (Diane) Proud grandfather of Skyler and Brayden Cleighton and Tyler Squires. He is also survived by his loving sister Helene Zeitz ( the late Marvin Zeitz) and former wife Bonnie Squiress. Mel was the leading buyer and general manager for A Ponnock & CO. a leading toy wholesaler who serviced the greater Philadelphia area and Mid-Atlantic states. Mel later served as a key account executive at both TYCO and TYCO Preschool. Mel is remembered for being tough but fair, a hard work ethic, a keen eye for product, his love of sports and a great sense of humor. He will be missed by all those he worked with during a long and distinguished toy career. Rest in Play Mel.

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Toy Trade Monthly Issues​​

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WizKids Reveals 'Batman Team-Up Miniatures Game'
Rolling for Initiative -- FCBD Rating Problems, Hasbro Responds to Alta Fox
Solve Capers with 'DC Comics HeroClix: Batman Team-Up' Booster Set

WizKids Unveils 'Critical Role: Bells Hells' Miniatures Set

Investor Group Led by The Chernin Group, Including eBay, Buying 25% of Funko
Games Workshop Announces 'Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Echoes of Doom'
Asmodee Announces Access+ Studio
Enjoy an Evening on Krakoa with 'Marvel HeroClix: Marvel Hellfire Gala Premium Collection'
The Avengers Answer the Call in New 'Marvel HeroClix' Set
The Merchant's Anvil -- Miniatures Prices On the Rise

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Casual Game Revolution

News Flash: TrollFest Announced, 2022 Mensa Select Awards
Trick or Treat Studios has announced a new game, this year’s winners of the Mensa Select award have been announced, and Phil Walker-Harding is starting his own game publishing company.

 

Video of the Week 

A Toy Store Near You - Toy De Jour FULL EPISODE - A fun watch! 

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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.

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

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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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