the Bloom Report

Worldwide Toy Industry's #1 News Summary

Below is Nov 27- Dec 4, 2020. Click Here for Last Week

Articles posted daily with most recent at top of each section.   The previous week drops off each Friday when we email you highlights. 

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

Welcome to your briefing of the week's news...

Happy Friday!

As we hit the slippery slope toward the holidays, we as the world's largest contingent of toymakers can see all around us that the culmination of our work is central to family, is meaningful to friends, and is vital to society as a whole. Our roles and contributions make a difference. I'm proud and humbled to be a part of the People of Play! 

Thank you for reading the Bloom Report!

Mary

tBR Company of the Week - Shari Spiro of AdMagic - Cards Popsicle Humanity - Making Crazy Stunts Happen

One of the most challenging of the many Cards Against Humanity promotional ideas I ever said “no problem” to was the ice pop card pack which was named Cards Popsicle Humanity and debuted at Pax Prime in September of 2015. It consisted of a giant popsicle which held a 10 pack of special cards against humanity cards. When the guys first approached me with the idea I am mediately said “no problem” as I always did. Little did I realize that no die in the world existed big enough to hold 10 playing cards inside of a foil pack. When I finally found a company that agreed to run the job for me I had no idea how many things could go wrong.

 

First, It took a full 8 months of planning and involved taking a card pack, making sure the wrapper was food safe and freeze resistant and then finding a way to insert it into the center of a frozen popsicle. I tested this first with foil packs I had sent over from one of my plants in China and I tested them by leaving them in my kitchen freezer for about three weeks. I removed the cards - they were cold but there was very little condensation. I determined that it could work with a foil pack.  Read More...

tBR Person of the Week - Marjorie Spilanik on Little Rebels, Iconic Women and More

I started in the toy industry around 7 years ago. I love toys and still play with them (I’m 38 years old BTW). Around 7 years ago, my daughter came to me with a drawing and asked me to turn into something real. That’s when I entered the industry. I transformed her drawing into a plush toy that looked just like her drawing. My background is on PR & Communications so this started as a way to encourage my daughter to believe in herself and believe that she could do anything she wanted, but before I knew it, the picture I posted on Facebook went viral and I realized that more parents wanted the same for their kids. That’s how I started Tedybujo and entered the industry. The reason why I am still in the industry is because I truly believe that toys have an outstanding power to teach and inspire kids.

My focus now is 100% on Little Rebels. We started as a plush line doll inspired by iconic historical women and added an app later on that interacts with the dolls to teach about the stories of these women. Today, we are working on a board game and a memory card one. We are also looking to land new licenses deals with new women so we can expand our line and keep sharing their stories.  Read More...

Financial & Legal News . . . 

Party City advances strategy to create North America’s leading party platform. Party City agreed to sell part of its international operations (“Amscan International”) to Endless LLP, a U.K. based private equity investor (“Endless”), for a total transaction value of approximately US$59 million, including US$45 million of cash proceeds and approximately US$14 million of excess cash and other adjustments to be returned to...

Sony to purchase anime entertainment powerhouse Crunchyroll from WarnerMedia for $1.175bnSony Pictures Entertainment has reached an agreement with AT&T to purchase its Crunchyroll anime business – a direct-to-consumer service within the WarnerMedia segment – for a proposed $1.175bn. Under the deal, Crunchyroll anime will fall under Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc and Sony Music Entertainment Inc’s Funimation Global Group, a giant on the anime scene.

UK first non-lockdown shopping weekend in December dwarfs Black FridayThe weekend of 5th and 6th December saw consumers hit the shops in their droves. The first weekend in December, which was also the first weekend since Covid-19 lockdown restrictions were lifted in England, has become the biggest shopping event of 2020, eclipsing Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Australia's Victorian government invests $25m in screen industries. Australia's Victorian government is to invest AU$33.8 million ($25 million) in the screen industries, including games. The aim is to support more projects to be made in Victoria, with more than half of the fund to be allocated this financial year, boosting employment after the COVID-19 crisis.

Global ecommerce transactions jump in November due to earlier start of holiday shopping season. New benchmark data from ACI Worldwide (NASDAQ: ACIW), a leading global provider of real-time digital payment software and solutions, revealed a 21 percent increase in eCommerce transactions globally in November 2020 compared to November 2019.

72% of all 2020 mobile revenue generated by games at $81bn. In its latest report, looking back at the mobile market for 2020, the analytics company highlighted that for every dollar spent on iOS and Google Play, $0.71 were for games this year. Gross consumer spend reached $112 billion on mobile in 2020, $81 billion of which came from games.

Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group in ‘potential rescue talks’ with Debenhams. Retail tycoon Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group is in talks over a ‘potential rescue transaction’ for the British department store Debenhams. The brand fell into administration last week, putting some 12,000 jobs at risk. Frasers has said that it was ‘in negotiations with the administrators of Debenhams’ UK business’ on a possible deal, but it has...

Activision lawsuit accuses Netflix of poaching CFO. Activision has filed a lawsuit against Netflix, accusing the streaming giant of poaching CFO Spencer Neumann. Neumann was hired by Netflix within days of a messy departure from Activision.

Walmart laying off more than 1,200 workers even as digital shopping boomsWalmart is reportedly laying off an additional 1,200 workers as part of a reorganization that encompasses the big consumer shift to online shopping. In July, Walmart cut its workforce by laying off hundreds in its logistics, real estate and retail location-planning divisions.

China budget store king takes on Toys ‘R’ Us with new chain. Miniso Group Holding Ltd., the newly New York-listed Chinese budget retailer, is making its first foray into the $86 billion global toy market as it tries to take on heavyweights like Toys “R” Us Inc. on its home turf and beyond.

UK Toy sales rocket by 58 per cent on eBay this Black Friday as marketplace cites ‘unprecedented shift to online’. The online marketplace, eBay UK saw toy sales rocket by 58 per cent over this year’s Black Friday period, compared to the same time last year, as housebound shoppers fueled what the platform has cited as ‘an unprecedented shift to online,’ due to the government restrictions throughout...

(the above was posted after December 4th)

32% of U.S. Consumers Bought Toys During Black Friday Weekend. The annual five-day Thursday-Monday shopping event has evolved this year. Despite the continued COVID-19 pandemic, shoppers still turned out at physical retailers, albeit in smaller numbers as a seismic shift to online shopping finally took place

Chinese toymaker Pop Mart, a Disney, Universal Studios partner, launches US$590 million IPO to fund expansion. Pop Mart International Group, one of China’s largest trendy toymakers, aims to raise HK$4.57 billion (US$590 million) via a Hong Kong stock market listing to fund its expansion. The Beijing-based company plans to sell 135.7 million new shares to global investors, of which 16.3 million shares will be offered...

Walmart ditches online shipping minimum for Walmart+ to better compete with Amazon Prime. Walmart said it will drop its online shipping minimum for customers who belong to its membership program, Walmart+. Starting Friday, Walmart+ members will get free next-day and two-day shipping — even if they have just one item from the company’s website in their basket. Walmart typically requires customers to...

Roblox cleared for launch in China. Roblox is officially heading to China, having gained two licenses from the nation's regulators. The hugely popular kids game is one of 42 approvals, alongside four Switch games.

Black Friday 2020 online shopping surges 22% to record $9 billion, Adobe says. Spending online on Black Friday this year surged nearly 22% to hit a new record, according to data from Adobe Analytics, as the Covid pandemic pushed more people to shop from the sofa and avoid crowded stores and malls. Consumers spent $9 billion on the web the day after Thanksgiving, up 21.6% year over year.

UK mobile game spending reaches new single-day record on Black Friday. The UK's single-day mobile gaming revenue hit a new all-time high on Black Friday, reaching a total of $6.5 million according to data shared by Sensor Tower. This number is up 16% year-over-year from last year's Black Friday, which saw $5.6 million in mobile player spending.

ByteDance gets another extension from US government for TikTok sale. The Trump administration has once again extended the deadline for ByteDance to sell video sharing platform TikTok’s business in the US, Reuters reported. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) has given China-based ByteDance until December 4th to either sell or spin out its US business.

Black Friday physical game sales drop 20% over 2019 l UK Boxed Sales. Last week was one of the biggest retail sales periods of the year in the form of Black Friday, and more than 1 million boxed games were sold in the UK over the 7 days. It's a big number, but it's still 20% down on last year's 1.3 million sales.

Crown prince of Saudi Arabia's foundation to buy 51% stake in SNK. The Mohammad bin Salman Charity Foundation is set to take a controlling stake in Japanese games firm SNK. The not-for-profit organization has invested around 813 million riyals ($223 million) in SNK, which gives it a 33.3% stake in the company, valuing the company at $669 million.

Acquisition of Toys R Us Australia by Funtastic is completed. The Australian eCommerce retailers, Toys R Us, Babies R Us, Hobby Warehouse and Mittoni, have been acquired by the Funtastic Group, including the acquisition of new shares in the company under the underwritten placement and conversion of existing debt to equity.

Shops to be allowed to open 24/7 in December and January  Communities secretary Robert Jenrick says he plans to remove the usual lengthy application process for extended hours in order to boost trade. Communities secretary Robert Jenrick will remove the bureaucracy surrounding extended-hour trading applications, he announced in the Daily Telegraph. Retailers usually have to submit themselves to a lengthy and time...

Spin Master Gets Partial New Trial in $9.5 Million Toy IP Fight  An Illinois federal district judge threw out part of Rehco LLC’s nearly $9.5 million win in a contract and patent infringement case against children’s toy maker Spin Master Ltd. U.S. District Judge John R. Blakey ordered a new trial on Rehco’s claim that Spin Master breached a license agreement by failing to pay royalties on the Havoc Heli, a toy helicopter.

12,000 jobs at risk as Debenhams stores set to close. Debenhams stores are now set to close as final efforts to rescue the department store chain fall through. Debenhams fell into administration for the second time back in April. Hopes had rested on a rescue bid from JD Sports, who then pulled out of the deal. With all 124 shops likely to close, all 12,000 employees are likely to lose their jobs.

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Trends, Market Research Reports . . . 

Exclusive: NPD details the UK's toy market's overall performance in 2020 . . . Doll sector trends ‘will play key roles in 2021 and beyond,’ says Zapf Creation UK . . . There and back again: The hobbyist market returns as ‘model making sees massive resurgence’ . . . Toy Association CEO Steve Pasierb talks US market, trends and 2021 . . . Early Christmas shopping sees November toy sales rise in latest NPD report

(the above posted after December 4th)

The growth in co-viewing is here to stay . . . Home Help: How the pandemic has seen toy companies transition into support networks for families . . . Survey finds gaming by Americans over 45 has spiked in 2020 . . . Holiday trends to watch: Adult Play-Doh; stores that ship

 

Financial & Brokerage News . . . 

Spin Master - A pandemic toy story: Chess sets, Paw Patrol and parents who can't stop spending . . . Hasbro (NASDAQ:HAS) Lands New Buy Recommendation, Run With It . . . Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner on the company's holiday sales

(the above posted after December 4th)

Mattel Chairman and CEO Ynon Kreiz to Participate in Virtual Barclays Eat, Sleep, Play Conference . . . Why Hasbro Stock Dropped Today . . . Top Video Game Stocks for Q1 2021 . . . Better Buy: Activision Blizzard vs. Take-Two Interactive . . . JAKKS Pacific (JAKK) Outshines Peers, Surges 28% in 3 Months

Financial Reporting . . . 

GameStop has closed 462 stores so far this year, 783 in last two years. For Q3 ending October 31, GameStop posted net sales of $1 billion, down 30% year-over-year, and a net loss of $19 million compared to a net loss of $83 million for the same quarter last year. CEO George Sherman says he anticipates fiscal Q4 to see positive year-on-year sales growth due to next-gen launch

Character's year end results reveal £5m profit and positive outlook for coming year The group reports a £5m profit despite pandemic challenges and anticipates growth in the coming year. On the topic of Brexit, the group’s 2018 acquisition of Proxy ensured the uninterrupted continuity of the group’s UK operations and its cross-border business with the EU. The mainland UK business will be unaffected...

Hasbro announces quarterly cash dividend on common sharesHasbro, Inc. announced that its Board of Directors has declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.68 per common share. The dividend will be payable on February 16, 2021 to shareholders of record at the close of business on February 2, 2021.

Australia: Funtastic sees fruits of Toys ‘R’ Us acquisition in November. Funtastic has seen short-term revenue and profit grow in November, due to its acquisition of Toys ‘R’ Us. The additional revenue streams afforded by Hobby Warehouse, Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us boosted Funtastic’s revenue by 60 per cent to $7.1 million for the first month the business’ traded together, while profit grew 78 per cent to $2 million.

Call of Duty made $3 billion for Activision in 12 months. Activision has made over $3 billion in net bookings from the Call of Duty franchise alone over the past 12 months. The company said the action series had set new records after shifting to a shared ecosystem business model, resulting in net bookings rising by 80 percent year-on-year and unit sales increasing by 40 percent.

Exploding Kittens and Pandemic among Black Friday board games sales surge at OnBuy. Sales of the popular Elan Lee board game, Exploding Kittens, surged by an impressive 511 per cent on the UK marketplace, OnBuy, who has since reported a record-breaking Black Friday that saw sales across the board total nearly £2.5 million in one day alone.

Future Financial Reporting . . . 

Equities analysts predict that Mattel will announce earnings of $0.22 per share for current quarter, 5 analysts have issued estimates for Mattel's earnings. The highest EPS estimate is $0.30 and the lowest is $0.18. Mattel posted earnings of $0.11 per share in the same quarter last yr, which would indicate a positive year-over-year growth rate of 100%. The firm is expected to report its next quarterly earnings results Feb. 11.

Amazon and Apple eye historic $100 billion in holiday quarter. The holiday season could be historic for two of the stock market’s biggest names, with sales that are expected to surpass a milestone that has rarely been reached in Wall Street history. Amazon.com Inc. and Apple Inc. are each expected to report revenue above $100 billion in the fourth quarter of 2020 …

Toyjobs has been the dominant recruiting

Stories & Comments . . . 

A special interview with Santa on toys and more2020 has been a tough year for many people all over the world. How are you preparing for Christmas in these unprecedented times? “To be honest, I really thought Christmas 2020 would be called off and I would get to spend it with Mrs Claus and the reindeers sun baking in the Caribbean.”

Amazon sellers worry they can’t meet holiday demand as company limits warehouse spaceAmazon in August instituted limits on product shipments from third-party sellers who use its U.S. warehouses in an effort to make sure it had enough space to store all their goods for the holidays. But third-party sellers say they can’t restock products quickly enough, causing them to run out of inventory and lose out on some...

UK: Out of the frying pan – Are we oven-ready or heading for the fire? Covid-19 vaccines are beginning to be rolled-out, shops have re-opened, and Christmas shoppers continue to spend their money on toys. It really does look like there’s a light at the end of this long, winding tunnel. But, asks Kids Brand Insight’s Steve Reece, with chaos at the ports and Brexit not quite as oven-ready as we were told, what will we...

Inside the Industry: “It’s now critical to equip kids to be the change-makers of tomorrow”. The obligatory references to the film Big, made by almost everyone outside of the industry who asks what it is we all do, aside, a career in toys is often a fascinating and fulfilling one. It’s peculiar then that it is also a career, that, for many of us, we have by one route or another, fallen into.

Toy World features on Toys That Made Christmas Great show The two hour Toys That Made Christmas Great show was broadcast on Channel 5 on Sunday evening, highlighting some of the classic toys that have been huge Christmas hits through the years. The programme featured numerous toy trade luminaries, including MGA’s Andrew Laughton, Sarah Allen from Mattel, Bandai’s Nic Aldridge, former Toys R Us...

Pink and blue toys colour future of our children, study warnsLast year, the equality campaigning organisation the Fawcett Society set up an 18-month commission into the effects of gender stereotyping in early childhood – the first of its kind in the UK – to examine the harm it causes and explore how it interacts with race and class.

Nostalgia, boredom drive holiday toy sales It is an alchemy that is driving consumers to snap up retro-faves such as Beyblade spinning toys and Lego Super Mario Bros as toy industry analysts ..

(the above posted after December 4th)

John Baulch, ToyWorld (UK) - A Christmas miracle …it’s the Friday Blog! While ambiguity envelops the hospitality industry and arguments rage over ‘wet pubs’ (or, as we call them round our way, ‘pubs’), thankfully no such confusion is afflicting the retail channel. Since Wednesday, all retailers have been able to welcome shoppers back into stores: the countdown to Christmas has well and truly started – it’s a Christmas miracle...

The Black Panther reference you missed in Netflix's Jingle Jangle. As one in a long list of Christmas movies arriving on Netflix this season, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is vying to become a new classic. With a nearly all-Black cast, the film tells the magical tale of the genius toy inventor Jeronicus Jangle (Forest Whitaker), who loses hope when his work is stolen from him — only to have his cheery granddaughter Journey...
UK Indie retailers gear up for final weeks of Christmas trading period Toy World spoke to a selection of indie retailers to find out how they have been coping before, during and after the latest lockdowns. Faced with ever-changing challenges, independent toy retailers around the UK continue to demonstrate their flair for problem-solving, adapting their businesses to make sure customers can get hold of toys for Christmas.

Holiday toy supplies at risk amid southern California port jamSome of the hottest toys this year — from LOL Surprise dolls to Tonka trucks — are languishing in shipping containers at big ports in Southern California, with delays loading them onto trucks spurring doubts that they’ll make it to retailers in time for Christmas.

Super Nintendo World opens on February 4th with AR Mario Kart rollercoaster. Universal Studios Japan has announced an opening date for its long-awaited Nintendo-themed area. The Super Nintendo Land zone will open at the Osaka theme park on February 4th, 2021. That’s actually a little earlier than expected.

JouéClub's 2020 Christmas catalogue calls on shoppers to 'Rebuild Beirut' The retailer's catalogue carries a strong message of hope and resilience following what has been a particularly challenging year for the people of Beirut. Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, has suffered a particularly challenging and traumatic year. Not only have its citizens battled the global Covid-19 pandemic, but on 4th August it was devastated...

ROLLING FOR INITIATIVE -- A CASE FOR THE POSSIBLE SALE OF WIZARDS OF THE COAST BEING ON THE HORIZONColumn by Scott Thorne

I received several emails regarding last week’s column, and a couple of them brought up yet another possibility (see "Rolling for Initiative -- Of Cauldrons and Lawsuits"). Hasbro might be cleaning up loose ends in preparation for selling off WotC. Consider the following points:

The Ten Best STEM Toys to Give as Gifts in 2020. Tested and reviewed by engineers, these top picks make coding, robotics and engineering more accessible than ever. Each year, Purdue University’s INSPIRE Research Institute for Pre-College Engineering turns into a toy testing laboratory as faculty and students run mounds of toys, books and games through their paces. The highest rated products earn a coveted spot...

Remembering the Toy Industry's Past . . . 

Barbie Beauty Center from Mattel (1972). Released in 1972 by Mattel, the Barbie Beauty Center combined two childhood favourites: Barbie and dress-up play. Some assembly was required with this toy. The box contained Barbie’s head, a pink plastic tray, and a neck to which Barbie’s head needed to be manually affixed.

Where’s the Fun From? – Who Invented Silly Putty? In the latest installment of his YouTube series, Where’s the Fun From?, Tim Walsh tells the story of the moment when Silicone Oil and Boric Acid met in 1943, spawning a bouncing baby ball that became Silly Putty and changed the toy world forever.

Matchbox 1983… A New Beginning CatalogIn 1953, Lesney Products released a set of 1:64 scale die-cast cars that were an immediate sales success and became the company’s first 1-75 Matchbox series. Increased competition and a recession forced the company into bankruptcy in 1982, where Universal Toys purchased them.

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Worldwide Licensing News . . . 

Hasbro celebrates ‘Monopoly’s’ 85th anniversary with new merch. Hasbro has inked multiple licensing deals in honor of the game’s milestone anniversary. New consumer products are set to hit shelves and online in time for the holidays. “Monopoly” is a family-favorite game brand enjoyed by more than one billion players in 114 countries across the globe.

Rebel Girls expands with new licensing partnershipsRebel Girls, the global entertainment brand known for its book series “Good Night Stories” and its podcast of the same name, has expanded the Rebel Girls Franchise to include content and licensed merchandise.

IMC Toys debuts Cry Babies Tutti Frutti toys, animated content. The animated content will be supported by new products for the Cry Babies Magic Tears and Cry Babies brands, including Cry Babies Magic Tears Tutti Frutti and Cry Babies Tutti Frutti in the main three hero characters, Mel, Ella, and Pia. The toys will be available in January at all major retailers.

‘Brave Bunnies’ hops into licensingBrave Bunnies, a new animated pre-school series from Glowberry, has announced new licensing plans for the international market. Glowberry has appointed Big Picture Licensing as exclusive licensing agent for U.K. and Eire and master agent across EMEA and APAC.

The Koyo Store lands Games Workshop deal to launch Warhammer 40,000 collectablesThe entertainment merchandise specialist, The Koyo Store, has secured the global rights to create a range of officially licensed Warhammer 40,000 collectables through a new partnership with Games Workshop. The range will not only be sold through Games Workshop’s own High Street stores, but also available for fans to buy direct.

Big Potato Games partners with Vocala to bring its board game titles to AlexaThe independent board games company, Big Potato Games, has partnered with the voice design studio, Vocala, to bring a selection of its popular games out of the box and into the world of voice. Under the new partnership, best-sellers like Obama Llama and Linkee have been developed as voice activated games to be played on Alexa devices.

Global Licensing Group details new dates for BLE 2021 – a hybrid of in-person and online eventsGlobal Licensing Group, a division of Informa Markets and event organisers of Licensing Expo and Brand Licensing Europe, has detailed its 2021 and new event format, bringing with it a hybrid of in-person and virtual offerings.

Rainbow Group’s Pinocchio and Friends to debut on TV in Q4 2021. The Rainbow Group, the company behind brands like the Winx Club and 44 Cats, is set to launch a new market milestone for Carlo Collodi’s original The Adventures of Pinocchio. Characters from the original story are joined by new ones, in a setting that promises to bring fresh air to televisions around the world, and to the licensing market.

Posh Paws: “2021 is lining up to be our biggest yet” thanks to portfolio of heavyweight licenses. The plush toy specialist, Posh Paws International, is preparing for what looks to be its ‘biggest year yet,’ as it readies for 2021 with a raft of new releases and licensed launches based on some of the biggest children’s entertainment franchises of the past decade.

Animaccord taps Firefly Brand Management to rep ‘Masha And The Bear’ for U.S. licensing. Firefly Brand Management inked a new deal to represent the popular animated series as its U.S. licensing agent. Firefly seeks to expand the Masha and the Bear brand through new licensing agreements and promotional partners across a variety of categories, including electronic toys, apparel, and more.

IDW, Toho International stomp into ‘Godzilla’ deal. IDW and Toho International have announced a multi-year publishing program that will bring Godzilla and dozens of monsters from the “Godzilla” live action films to a wide selection of publications and merchandise. IDW will have worldwide distribution for Toho’s “Godzilla” comic book, graphic novel, gaming and merchandise program, with the exception of some parts of Asia.

Flash Gordon board game rocketing your way via Plastic Meatball. Plastic Meatball, experts in the retro-nostalgic merchandise space, announced today their partnership with King Features Syndicate to develop a cross-category line of products based on the 1980 cult-classic film, “Flash Gordon.” Plastic Meatball’s deal encompasses a wide swath of consumer products categories, including apparel, puzzles, and more. 

Sega partners with Retail Monster in the UK for Sonic’s 30th anniversary. With the iconic Sonic the Hedgehog brand celebrating its 30th Anniversary in 2021, and significant opportunities with its Retro Gaming portfolio to build on, 2021 will be a big year for Sega. Through its partnership with Retail Monster, Sega will look to drive brand collaborations and retail activations for Sonic’s Anniversary.

(the above posted after December 4th)

Mattel Announces multi-year global licensing agreement with PGS Ent and Technicolor Animation for “Gus – The Itsy Bitsy Knight”. Mattel hast has entered into a multi-year global licensing agreement with PGS Entertainment, the award-winning kids entertainment distributor, for the upcoming animated preschool series, produced and owned by Technicolor Animation Productions, “Gus – The Itsy Bitsy Knight.”

LEGO reignites Jeep partnership to unveil the LEGO Technic Jeep WranglerThe LEGO Group has reignited a licensing partnership with Jeep to launch the latest LEGO Technic model, the one-of-a-kind Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, designed to emulate the look, design and off-road capabilities of the real-life vehicle.

Pop culture toy specialist Boss Fight Studio to launch Popeye the Sailor action figuresThe pop culture specialist and action figures aficionado, Boss Fight Studio has struck up a new partnership with King Features Syndicate to create and launch a range of action figures and collectables based on Popeye the Sailor comics and cartoons.

Mattel and Sanrio partnership to launch new toy and accessory line across Amazon and Smyths Toys in the UKMattel and the lifestyle brand Sanrio are kicking off their new partnership with the launch of a new toy and accessory collection featuring Hello Kitty, My Melody, and Badtz Maru across Amazon and Smyths Toys in the UK from January 2021.

Plug-in Media eyes toy partners as its pre-school hit Tee and Mo returns to CBeebiesPlug-in Media is eyeing potential toy partners for its popular pre-school property, Tee and Mo, an animated monkey duo that made its return to CBeebies last month with the premiere of Big Boots Birthday: A Tee and Mo Mini Musical.

General Mills debuts Sesame Street Cereal, Bringing ABCs and 123s to the breakfast bowl. Breakfast just got more fun, delicious, and educational with the launch of Sesame Street Cereal, made by General Mills. The new cereal, which will begin to appear on store shelves in January, supports growing bodies with many essential nutrients and engages curious young minds with activities and stories.

Apple greenlights ‘Tetris’ movie. Apple announced that “Tetris: The Movie” will join its growing lineup of films. The drama tells the story of the creation of Tetris born from the imagination of computer programmer Alexey Pajitnov, during the fall of the Iron curtain in the USSR.

Dynacraft, Warner Bros. team up for Harry Potter, Looney Tunes wheeled goods. Dynacraft inked a new deal with Warner Bros. Consumer Products to create new rides inspired by the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Looney Tunes. The partnership includes a Harry Potter bicycle that features the iconic Gryffindor House color scheme and stripes.

Neopets unveils merchandise program. JumpStart Games has announced a new official Neopets merchandise licensing program based on the brand and gaming franchise. Not only will the licensees be creating physical merchandise but fans will also receive codes with purchase of select merchandise which ties into their Neopets’ gaming experiences.

The Wand Company teams with Pokémon for replica Poké Balls. The Pokémon Company International and The Wand Company are collaborating on the first-ever die-cast Poke Ball replica series – featuring the Poke Ball, Great Ball, Ultra Ball and Premier Ball – for launch in 2021. The replica comes equipped with proximity-sensing technology.

Home Run Games and Ultra Pro license 'Frogger'. Home Run Games and Ultra PRO International has licensed the Frogger video game brand from Konami Cross Media NY, Inc. The Frogger license is headed to the hobby trade market. Home Run Games plans to produce a line of playing card decks.

Brand Central announces delicious partnerships for Kraft HeinzThe Kraft Heinz Company, together with its exclusive licensing agency Brand Central, continues to expand its iconic brands into new trend forward merchandise categories as it scales its consumer products program.

Wallace & Gromit maker Aardman partners with Bandai Namco on new game franchiseBritish animation studio Aardman has joined forces with Bandai Namco Entertainment Europe to develop a brand new game franchise. Aardman is best known for its use of stop-motion clay animation.

Flair Just Play signs licensing deal with pocket.watch for Love, Diana. Flair Just Play has announced a further licensing deal with pocket.watch, the studio behind the successful Ryan’s World franchise, among other popular properties. Launching for spring 2021 in the UK and Ireland, Flair Just Play will be introducing a roleplay collection inspired by the latest YouTube sensation, Kids Diana Show.

Spin Master and GUND to roll out board game and new plush lines for Silvergate’s HildaSilvergate Media has detailed a tranche of new partners for its popular animated series, Hilda, that includes not only a direct to retail partnership with the pop culture specialist, Forbidden Planet, but the series’ first board game courtesy of Spin Master and an extension of its successful plush line with GUND.

People . . . 

Mattel Names Jonathan Anschell Executive Vice President, Chief Legal Officer, and Secretary  Former ViacomCBS Media Networks General Counsel brings extensive media industry and global brand expertise to Mattel. Anschell will report to Ynon Kreiz, Mattel’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. He will succeed Robert Normile, who will continue in his current role through Dec. 31, 2020, and then remain with Mattel as...

ViacomCBS Networks International has appointed Raffaele Annecchino (pictured) as its new president and CEO. He succeeds David Lynn, who will step down after a short transition period. Reporting to ViacomCBS president and CEO Bob Bakish, Annecchino will oversee all ViacomCBS media networks and related businesses outside the US, with responsibility for a portfolio of pay-TV brands and networks across six continents. 

Ubisoft names VP of global diversity and inclusion to improve workplace culture. Ubisoft has named Raashi Sikka as its first vice president of global diversity and inclusion. The appointment comes as the French publisher looks to reshape its workplace culture following a number of high-profile misconduct allegations across multiple studios.

Sega and Tencent veteran John Clark named Curve Digital CEO. British games publisher Curve Digital has named Tencent and Sega veteran John Clark as its CEO. The new hire follows a string of big signings for the Human: Fall Flat publisher.

Neil Druckmann is now co-president of Naughty DogNaughty Dog did some top-level role shuffling today at the Santa Monica-based studio. Neil Druckmann, studio vice president and creative director of The Last of Us Part II, is now co-president at the company.

ZAG is continuing to build its consumer products division with the appointment of Sarah Boyer as VP of retail for North America. Beginning in the newly created role today, Boyer will manage strategic relationships across all tiers of retail, build licensing programs and supporting licensees with product placement and promotion. She joins ZAG from MGA Entertainment, where she served as senior director of...

(the above posted after December 4th)

Michael Jaffa Promoted to COO of Genius Brands. In his new role as COO, Jaffa will be responsible for overseeing the business operations of production, consumer products, global distribution, as well as legal, human resources and the diversity divisions.  Additionally, he will continue to oversee the business and legal operations of the Company’s digital channels, Kartoon Channel! and Kartoon Classroom!, while retaining his...

FROM UPWORDS TO RYAN’S WORLD: ELLIOT RUDELL TALKS TOY AND GAME DESIGN ON THE ‘POWER KID PODCAST’. Rudell Design has been in business since 1975 and has been responsible for the development and licensing of products that have generated millions for the toy industry.  The success of Rudell’s toys and games, including Splash Out, Upwards, Wet Head, GeoTrax, GlowDome, and Weebles led to his induction...

Larry and Elizabeth Schur Retire from ABC Kids. In connection with the announcement last week regarding changes to the front office and Board of Directors of ABC, effective January 1, 2021, Larry and Elizabeth Schur will be leaving the organization to pursue consultative and event management opportunities in the trade show and events industry. 

Nintendo hacker Ryan Hernandez sentenced to three years in prison following guilty plea. Ryan Hernandez, the hacker who pled guilty to stealing information about the Nintendo Switch prior to its release, has been sentenced to three years in prison. The sentencing follows a plea agreement originally proposed in January 2020. In addition to prison time, Hernandez will also be required to pay Nintendo $259,323 in....

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Companies . . . 

Netflix Enters the Pre-School Toy Game What's on Netflix - To start with, Mighty Express, launched in September, comes directly from toy company Spin Master. It was created by Keith Chapman, the producer behind powerhouse franchises, Bob The Builder, and Paw Patrol.  He also has creative input into Buddi, the surreal young-skewing pre-school program about anthropomorphic blobs. Gabby’s Dollhouse, an original...

The LEGO Group revealed plans to cut its absolute carbon emissions by 37% by 2032. This goal has been approved by the Science Based Targets initiative as consistent with levels required to keep global warming to below 1.5°C. This goal applies to emissions from its own operations, which equals 10% of emissions, and then energy use for its stores, factories, offices, supply chains, and that from raw materials and...

Schleich Celebrates 85th Anniversary with Times Square BillboardTo celebrate the end of its 85th anniversary year, Schleich USA debuted a Times Square billboard featuring stories from fans around the world, including new photos from famed toy photographer Mitchel Wu

The celebration began at Toy Fair New York, where the world’s leading manufacturer of animal figurines asked toy lovers all over the world to...

FAO Schwarz lists iconic New York City toy store on Airbnb. FAO Schwarz is also hosting Online Experiences on Airbnb so others can experience the magic of FAO Schwarz, no matter their location. This one-time, one-night stay will take place on 21st December, and is available to book for one New York City family of four from the same household starting 15th December at 5pm GMT for just $25 (plus taxes and fees).

LEGO opens its first airport LEGO Store in the US in Marshall Retail Group partnership. The LEGO Group has opened its first airport LEGO Store in the US, having partnered with The Marshall Retail Group – a WHSmith Company – to set up shop inside Salt Lake City International Airport. The all-new LEGO store allows visitors the opportunity to shop for hard-to-find products from the LEGO portfolio, as well as its top sellers.

Kellytoy unveils new Valentine’s Day Squishmallows. Kellytoy, a subsidiary of Jazwares, LLC,  announced its Valentine’s Day Squishmallows squad, the perfect “chonky” and snuggly plush treat to make every Valentine feel special. The newest squad members are as memorably loveable as they are cute and the perfect gift idea for under $20.

Eaglemoss Hero Collector unveils ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ products. In the tradition of their Build The DeLorean from “Back to the Future” and Build The ECTO-1 from “Ghostbusters,” Eaglemoss Hero Collector has announced a brand new subscription program inspired by the Enterprise-D from “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

Maple Landmark, America's 'Local Toy Company,' rooted in family, forest Mike Rainville, founder and owner of Maple Landmark, landed his first wholesale account at age 15, when a traveling salesman noticed the wooden tic tac toe boards Mike had for sale at the Lincoln General Store. That was 1979. Today, Maple Landmark supplies wooden toys—including the tic tac toe and cribbage boards that gave Mike his start....

Hasbro, Inc., announced plans to join forces with Charlie “Rocket” Jabaley and his “Dream Machine Tour” this holiday season, bringing positive experiences to communities that have been greatly impacted by this difficult and unprecedented year. The company is contributing $450,000 to Grammy and Emmy award-winning Charlie “Rocket” Jabaley, who will use the funds to deliver acts of kindness to families across the...

Jakks Pacific tantalizes ‘Apex Legends’ players with in-game challenge to support action figure debutJakks Pacific is getting into the game — literally — to promote its new line of Apex Legends 6-inch scale action figures. The “Legends Challenge” is an in-game initiative that will run Dec. 5-13 inside the Apex Legends battle royale game.

Mcfarlane Toys launches Dune collectible action figures. Ahead of the highly anticipated Dune movie, expected to hit theaters and HBO Max on Oct. 1, 2021, McFarlane Toys revealed its line of collectible action figures inspired by the characters of the film. The collection includes a 7-inch Build-A-Figure assortment featuring intricate costumes and accessories as well as “ultra-articulation” for precise posing.

Get ready to sleigh with Little Tikes’ Reindeer Carriage ride-on. Just in time for the holidays, MGA Entertainment’s Little Tikes division released its newest ride-on, a Reindeer Carriage mirroring Santa’s magic sleigh. The classic Little Tikes red carriage comes fitted with a reindeer guiding the sleigh and reins for kids to hold onto.

Firestar joins Hasbro’s Marvel Legends series. Hasbro revealed the latest addition to its Marvel Legends Series: the fiery heroine Firestar. Designed for kids and collectors ages 6 and up, the Firestar figure features Angelica Jones fitted in her iconic yellow outfit and flowing red hair.

Funko releases Snapsies toy line. Funko’s brand new toy line Snapsies is available now exclusively at Target and Target.com. Designed and developed for children ages 6-11, Snapsies offer snap-and-match technology allowing kids to customize their figures to create thousands of unique combinations.

BBC Studios launches digital trading cards collection Doctor Who: Worlds Apart on blockchain. Doctor Who has completed its jump into the realm of digital trading cards with the launch of Doctor Who: Worlds Apart, a digital platform that features more than 200 trading cards for Whovians and collectors to obtain. Developed by a pairing of BBC Studios and Reality Gaming Group …

Hachette Boardgames will release three new Gigamic games into U.S. trade. Hachette Boardgames will release three new Gigamic games into U.S. Trade this December. Peek-a-Mouse, a family game; Quetzal, an excavation game; and Dinner in Paris, a restaurant management game.

Games Workshop unleashes the next 'Warhammer Underworlds' core setGames Workshop will release Warhammer Underworlds: Direchasm, a core set for Warhammer Underworld board game, on December 12. Players can now explore a remote part of Beastgrave known as the Direchasm in Warhammer Underworlds competitive miniatures game.

The LEGO Group commits to reducing carbon emissions by 37 per cent by 2032. The LEGO Group has committed to reducing its absolute carbon emissions by 37 per cent by 2032 – a target that has been approved by the Science Based Target initiative. The goal is consistent with levels required to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees, and is recognised as the most ambitious goal of the Paris Agreement.

Tablestar Games returns to the board game scene. TableStar Games is back in the board game business as of Q4 2020. It's been about a decade since TableStar Games took a detour into video games and exited the tabletop scene, after a couple of Wealth of Nations expansions.

TKC Sales sees Stomp Rocket awareness on the rise with TV, national media, and awards coverage. Television airtime, national media Christmas Gift Guide coverage, and a social media family influencer campaign, has helped to take the consumer awareness of TKC Sales’ multi award-winning Stomp Rocket ‘to new heights’ this season, as the firm expects to see momentum continue into spring 2021.

Kmart introduces dolls with Down syndromeKmart is being praised for adding dolls with Down syndrome to its diverse collection. The dolls – a boy and girl with Down syndrome facial features – will be available in New Zealand stores in time for Christmas.

(the above posted after December 4th)

Hasbro mixes My Little Pony with other iconic toy brands for retro figures. Hasbro has mixed this iconic toy horse brand with some of its other classic toys. The result? Some retro-style ponies that are must-haves for toy lovers. Hasbro Pulse has launched two new retro My Little Pony collectible figures, one inspired by Twister and the other inspired by Lite Brite.

Asmodee sees ‘huge increase in demand’ for In for a Penny board game as TV’s Ant and Dec play over Instagram. Asmodee UK is reporting a ‘huge increase in demand’ for its licensed family board game In for a Penny, after the title took centre stage in an Instagram video posted by TV presenters Ant and Dec showcased the gameplay to their some 4.2 million viewers earlier this week.

Asmodee to support thesis studying cognitive effects of board gaming Asmodee Research was initially unveiled two years ago before launching an appeal in 2019 for candidates for whom it could finance a thesis based on board games. In an effort to promote better understanding of the effects of play on adults and adolescents and its potential applications, Asmodee Research was initially unveiled...

LEGO’s Collectible minifigure Series 21 arrives with an Aztec warrior, centaur, more. LEGO is taking the wraps off its latest roster of collectible minifigures with 12 new characters. As one of its most diverse selections yet, this time around, fans will be able to expand their collections with everything from a centaur archer to beekeeper, Aztec warrior, violinist, and more.

Mastermind Toys Play Preview Invites Toymakers, Inventors to Pitch New Products. With the annual Toy Fair season shifting out of winter due to the continued COVID-19 pandemic, retailers and toymakers alike continue to evolve the manner in which new products are being brought to market, and that means getting creative. Canada's Mastermind Toys is throwing open the doors for all toymakers, inventors, and distributors...

The Entertainer re-introduces its Christmas Quiet Hours at stores across the UK In a move to make Christmas shopping accessible for everyone, The Entertainer has re-introduced its Christmas Quiet Hours, an initiative that will take place every day throughout December across its 171 UK stores. The campaign aims to create a calmer shopping environment for autistic people and for any shoppers who find the hustle...

Barbie celebrates Britain’s youngest Olympian, 12-year-old skateboarder and surfer Sky Brown. The 12 year old professional skateboarder and surfer, Sky Brown, has been unveiled as the latest Barbie Role Model as the iconic fashion doll brand revealed its new, one-of-a-kind doll created in her likeness. Toy maker Mattel chose to immortalize the young sportswoman to highlight the boundaries that she has already...

Logic games and puzzles are on the rise as Smart Toys & Games sees sales double over 2020. Robert Hutchins 2 hours ago HighlightMedia & PR 288 Views. The puzzle and logic game specialist, Smart Toys and Games is ushering in a new era for the gaming market, having seen sales double over the course of 2020 for its portfolio of cognitive-thinking games and puzzles. 

‘STEM toys will have an invaluable role to play in a post-pandemic world’, says Osmo CEO. With the likelihood that schools and universities will begin to ‘adopt a more hybrid model’ of offline and online learning in the coming months, experts in the educational toy sector have suggested that a post-pandemic world will see a greater value placed on STEM toys and STEM learning. 

Funko launches first original toy range The Snapsies line features heads and bodies that kids can mix and match, and comes after a difficult financial year for the toyco, which usually relies on licensing. Everything is clicking into place for Funko, which is launching its first original toys after experiencing massive success with kids of all ages through its POP! figure ranges.

Exclusive: Gary and Duncan Grant on The Entertainer’s partnership projects. Founder and executive chairman Gary Grant, and deputy chairman Duncan Grant, tell readers about the retailer's latest partnerships in this article, written before yesterday's Debenhams news. In October, The Entertainer announced that it was entering into an exclusive trial partnership with Asda to take over the running of the grocer’s...

Lego's super-expensive new set already sold out - despite having no Cyber Monday dealAt the same time as the official Lego Black Friday deals kicked off on November 27, the brand released its eye-wateringly-expensive new set, and despite the lack of any Black Friday or Cyber Monday Lego deal on it, the kit has sold out. This new set is the Lego Creator Colosseum, and that set will cost you a knee-shaking $549.99.

Hasbro teams up with World Taekwondo Federation for PJ Masks Campaign. Hasbro has announced a multi-territory partnership that will see PJ Masks join forces with the World Taekwondo Federation for a new partnership designed to engage children around the world in taekwondo via an engaging collaborative campaign.

Haba set for growth in UK marketThe German-based toy manufacturer plans to build on its presence in the UK toy market by officially appointing Amaroni as the British sales distributor for Haba toys and games from the end of 2020 onwards. Over the last year, Amaroni has been the UK sales agent for Haba and will now take the next steps towards further business growth.

Micro launches new ECO range of children’s scooters made from recycled fishing nets. The international toy company Micro Mobility and its Micro Kickboard business has sourced materials from the maritime industry for the launch of its latest range of children’s scooters constructed from recycled fishing nets. Headquartered in Switzerland, Micro Mobility has launched several pro-environmental projects since setting...

Lion Rampant Imports reveals 'The Ghosts of Castle Turnwall' for North American tradeLion Rampant Imports revealed that they will release The Ghosts of Castle TurnWall into North American retail in January 2021. The Ghosts of Castle TurnWall is a family board game by Zoch Verlag that won the 2019 innoSPIEL award for using magnets to create the illusion that ghosts in the game move through walls.

Modiphius Entertainment reveals two new 'Star Trek Adventures Klingon Empire' accessoriesModiphius Entertainment revealed Star Trek Adventures Klingon Empire Gamemaster Toolkit and Dice Set, for use with the Star Trek Adventures RPG, to release in February 2021. The Toolkit comes with all of reference tools a GM would need to run a game.

Force of Will, Inc. announces 'The Magic Stone War - Zero'Force of Will, Inc. announced The Magic Stone War - Zero, a new set for Force of Will Trading Card Game, for release into retail on February 26, 2021. This set will feature the six sages of the past series appearing as rulers as well as a reappearance of the Cthulhu.

Kids Table Board Games unveils 'Fossilis'. Kids Table Board Games unveiled Fossilis, a paleontology board game, for release in December. In Fossilis, players assume the roles of paleontologists trying to uncover fossils from a tile 3D dig site.

STEAM toy maker Twin Science and its mission to shape the way manufacturers and consumers view toys. The STEAM toy and construction kit specialist, Twin Science, has outlined its mission to shape the way both toy makers and consumers view toys by acting to ‘connect humanitarian values with 21st Century education.’ It’s part of the firm’s central message of making toys that empower children, regardless of...

“The empowerment movement and consumer expectation around it will only increase”, says Mattel. Mattel has underlined its commitment to being ‘a more purpose driven’ toy company and brand through the continued roll-out of toys and dolls that reinforce positive messages of empowerment among children. The global toy maker has solidified its position amid insight that indicates empowerment....

PLUS-PLUS BOKS ARE A NEW WAY FOR ADULTS TO PLAY. Over the past few years, a growing market for play experiences geared toward adults has emerged and the latest offering from Plus-Plus aims to build upon that. Boks (“box” in Danish) is a new construction set based around a wooden platform that both holds Plus-Plus’ unique, plus-shaped building pieces and serves as a building platform.

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Video Games, Gaming Hardware and Game Development News . . . 

Minecraft tops YouTube's list of most watched games of 2020. Minecraft dominated YouTube this year, according to an end-of-year stats dump from YouTube Gaming. Videos of Microsoft's game were watched 201 billion times this year; Roblox was second with 75 billion views.

Stadia expands to 8 more European countries. Google Stadia has officially launched in eight more European countries, bringing the total number of countries where the cloud-based game streaming service is up and running to 22. Players in Austria, Czechia, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, and Switzerland are now able to sign up for the service.

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands sells 3.7m in one dayWorld of Warcraft: Shadowlands sold more than 3.7 million copies in its first full day on sale, Blizzard announced today. That topped the company's previous day-one high, Diablo 3's 3.5 million copies sold upon release in 2012, and prompted Blizzard to label it the fastest-selling PC game of all time.

LEGO is Nintendo’s best-selling third-party video game franchiseHere’s a fun fact for you: the LEGO video game series is Nintendo’s best-selling third-party video game franchise. That’s according to Mat Piscatella, who works with market research firm the NPD Group. The industry analyst tweeted the stat to celebrate the 25th anniversary of LEGO video games.

Enrollment opens for Apple's fee-reducing Small Business Program. Developers can now enroll for the App Store Small Business Program, which will halve iOS platform fees to 15 percent from 30 percent for smaller creators. In an explainer posted on the Apple Developer website, the company said those looking to enroll must be an Account Holder in the Apple Developer Program.

Epic Games is ditching in-person Fortnite events in 2021Epic Games won't hold in-person Fortnite tournaments in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Outlining what the competitive Fortnite scene will look like in 2021 and beyond in a recent blog post, the company said it absolutely plans to reintroduce physical events in the future.

Ryan’s World comes to Roblox. Ryan’s World is expanding into a new digital realm. The top YouTuber is planting a flag inside Roblox this weekend with the opening of Ryan’s World in Roblox. Created by Sunlight Entertainment and p.w. Games, the gaming division of pocket.watch, Ryan’s World in Roblox will officially debut at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday, Dec. 5.

Call of Duty has brought in $3 billion in past yearCall of Duty is enjoying a banner year, as Activision today announced that with the release of Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, the franchise has now surpassed $3 billion in net bookings.

(the above posted after December 4th)

JAKKS announces apex Legends Challenge for gamers. JAKKS Pacific, Inc.  and its media agency partner Blue Plate Media Services, teamed up with Playwire, the leading revenue amplification platform for publishers; and Overwolf to bring the 2020 “Legends Challenge” to Apex Legends gamers in the United States.

Zoom and Among Us dominate Apple’s most downloaded charts in 20202020 was a year when people around the world were forced to find new ways to connect, and that trend is clearly visible when you look at the most downloaded apps on Apple hardware. And two names in particular stand out: video chat tool Zoom and social game Among Us.

The Mandalorian is the perfect Fortnite character. Anyone who buys the battle pass for the new season of Fortnite gets a nice initial bonus: a playable version of none other than the Mandalorian himself. He unlocks right away, and in many ways, he’s in keeping with the game’s recent strategy of focusing on branded tie-ins.

Travis Scott's Fortnite show reportedly earned him $20 million. Travis Scott's virtual concert in Fortnite was big, in a variety of ways. Scott himself appeared as a towering behemoth during the event, which attracted a record concurrent player count for Fornite of 12.3 million.

Nintendo Switch update lets you share screenshots to your phone or PCNintendo has released a new firmware update for the Switch, and for once it actually adds some features to the console’s barebones OS. The biggest one is a new way to share screenshots and videos directly to your smartphone by scanning a QR code.

L.O.L. Surprise! Remix: We Rule The World Video Game Is Coming. L.O.L.Surprise! is here with the perfect holiday gift for your child. Just in time for the holiday season the makers of the hit L.O.L.Surprise! toys have created a new video game exclusively for the Nintendo Switch!

Fortnite's Season 4 finale attracted a record 15.3 million concurrent players. Fortnite's latest season ending event pulled in a record 15.3 million concurrent players, according to developer Epic. The company shared the milestone in a tweet, where it revealed that 3.4 million people also watched the event unfold on YouTube Gaming and Twitch.

VR spending to pass $1bn in 2020. A total of 6.4 million VR headsets will be sold in 2020, with the VR market reaching $1.1 billion in content spending this year. According to the latest research by market analyst firm Omdia, VR content revenue will reach $4 billion in 2025 -- 90% of which will be from games by then.

Countdown to Space Invaders Forever 11th DecTAITO and ININ Games are proud to announce the sensational Space Invaders Forever that will be released on Nintendo Switch and PlayStation4 both through the Nintendo eShop and PlayStation Store as well as boxed versions in retail on December 11th. Space Invaders Forever will be released in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

Remote work is here to stay -- but it won't be cheap or easy. This week, Square Enix's Japanese operations announced that the remote working arrangements put into place to cope with COVID-19 are being made permanent. It's unlikely that this will be the last such announcement; many companies around the industry are grappling with the question of what to do regarding remote work.

Marvel's Avengers fails to meet Square Enix sales targetsSquare Enix has explained that sales of Marvel's Avengers were lower than expected, and that the advertising push for the title also proved costly. "Sales of [the game] were lower than we had expected and unable to completely offset the amortization of the game’s development costs," they commented.

Fall Guys developer Mediatonic opens new UK studio. Fall Guys developer Mediatonic is opening a new UK studio in Leamington Spa. The office will be led by company vice president of art, Phil Warner, and will be hiring staff across a "wide range of disciplines."

Toy Safety and Counterfeit Related Articles . . . 

Cyberpunk 2077 features epileptic triggers. Game Informer warned of rapid white and red blinking lights in CD Projekt Red's RPG, representing a risk for those vulnerable to epileptic triggers.

Doctors issue Christmas toy safety warning for children over magnetic balls and ‘button’ batteriesDoctors today issued an alert about the danger to children from magnetic toys and “button” batteries in the run-up to Christmas. One London hospital has treated 33 children who have swallowed toy magnets.

(the above posted after December 4th)

BTHA joins forces with OPSS for Christmas toy safety campaign. A Christmas online toy safety campaign has been launched by the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS), working in partnership with the British Toy & Hobby Association, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, and the Child Accident Prevention Trust.

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Press Releases . . . 

RETAILERS HAVE NEW DISTRIBUTION SOURCE FILLED WITH DAM GOOD IDEAS FROM EUROPE. American families already have a love affair with Belgium – as in the finest chocolates or waffles! Now, hard-to-come-by European toys are on their way to neighborhood shops with the arrival of Belgium-based toy distributor DAM (rhymes with mom). U.S. retailers have been impressed with their stylish catalog and sales potential since their debut at ASTRA Marketplace last year. DAM is a leading toy distributor in France, Italy, Spain and the Benelux (Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg). The family owned company is celebrating 28 years of bringing uniquely designed toys to every age range. 

(the above posted after December 4th)

NEWEST (AND CUTEST) ADVENTERRA GAMES TEACH PRESCHOOLERS HOW TO RESPECT OUR PLANET. Three Enticing Ecological Puzzles and Memory Games Introduce Today’s Toddlers to How to Save Our Animals, Water, & Earth. Boston, MA (December 1, 2020) – Ever hear the expression, you’re never too young to make an impact? Adventerra Games, the STEM.org-certified boardgame maker, launches a captivating line of environmental games for today’s toddlers. Saving Water, Respect the Earth, and Animals at Risk! (each $14.99) require no reading, just curiosity through play. After an entertaining round with puzzle pieces or matching picture cards, tots will begin a lifelong love – hence protection....

News from Associations, Trade Shows, Awards and Festivals

(ASTRA, Hong Kong, LIMA, Spielwarenmesse, TA and More) . . . 

Kidscreen Summit Virtual unveils its agenda. More than 50 keynotes, panel discussions, research presentations, buyer Q&As and strategy interviews with some of the industry's top execs are in the lineup. The virtual event, running from February 8 to March 5, is also expanding its popular pitching and networking formats, offering more than 600 opportunities for one-on-one meetings with buyers.

Licensing Expo, Brand Licensing Europe Shift 2021 Dates, Reveal New Format. Traditionally held in June, Licensing Expo will now take place as an in-person show at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, taking place from Aug. 10-12, 2021. A new digital companion event will take place online from Aug. 24-25.

Toy Association Pushes for Action Against Counterfeits. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the online shopping trend, with the U.S. Census Bureau estimating that retail e-commerce sales grew 44.5 percent year-over-year during the second quarter of 2020. Despite lockdown restrictions in the spring, U.S. toy sales experienced double-digit monthly growth, thanks in large part to the strength of the online channel.

(the above posted after December 4th)

ASTRA Marketplace & Academy 2021 Shifts to August. Originally scheduled for June 6-9, the annual event will now take place from August 5-8, 2021 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. According to ASTRA, the decision was made “after many conversations with stakeholders and ASTRA members” with a focus on “creating a safe and healthy environment for attendees.

Toy & Edu China reports first signs of a recovering Chinese toy market as sector spies growthToy & Edu China, Baby & Stroller China, and Licensing China are each reporting the first signs of recovery for a strong Chinese toy market that was hit at the start of the year, along with the rest of the world, by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

GAMA makes more changes to the Origins Awards for the 2020/2021 cycle. The Games Manufacturer's Association made major changes to the Origins Awards categories for the 2020/2021 cycle. GAMA received a total of 300 submissions for 2019/2020 cycle, up from 81 in 2018/2019, and has decided to split up the board game and roleplaying game categories to have multiple categories by genre.

OnBuy named eCommerce Company of the Year at 2020 UK Business Tech Awards. The online marketplace, OnBuy.com has been named eCommerce Company of the Year in the 2020 UK Business Tech Awards. The awards were created to celebrate the best tech businesses from around the UK, with awards being presented to the most innovative and exceptional.

Dad’s Choice Awards 2020 winners revealed. With more entries than ever before, the annual Dad’s Choice Awards testers have spent weeks putting top toys through their paces and have announced its Twelve Top Winners for 2020.

Obituaries - Remembering Those that have Passed . . .

(If you know of a colleague's passing, please send us information so we can share with our industry)

Glyn Davies   Toy World is sad to report that Glyn Davies passed away in Liverpool on November 20th, after catching coronavirus. Glyn had turned 70 in July. Glyn worked in the toy trade for many years as a rep and national account executive for several toy companies, including Blue Box, Rainbow, Mondo and Fisher Price. His final role of a long and distinguished toy trade career was at Bandai. Julian Boyers, former managing director at Bandai, commented: “I was deeply saddened to hear of Glyn’s death, which happened very quickly and unexpectedly.

Jimmy Hunter, the founder of Hunter Toys, passed away on November 14th, 2020. Jimmy took on the role of BTHA Chairman from 2000-2002 and was heavily involved for many years with both Toy Fair and the BTHA’s ‘Value of Play’ initiatives. He was the champion for Total Fun, the consumer event held in the early 2000s, while he was also the brainchild behind the longstanding Golden Teddy awards. His daughter Sally Hunter, who has followed in Jimmy’s footsteps by building a long and successful career the toy trade, told Toy World: “The fact that the Golden Teddy awards are still being presented so many years later gives me goosebumps.

Simon Holdsworth, Managing Director at Thos Holdsworth & Sons Ltd, passed away on November 14th, 2020. "Many of our staff have worked alongside Simon for more than 20 years.  Words like mentor, great boss, good friend, awesome storyteller, gregarious, quick witted, dynamic, proud, demanding, knowledgeable and tireless are just some of their comments.  He is, and always will be our champion!  Our legacy for Simon is to keep the company running smoothly and exemplify the excellence that he demanded from us each and every day.  There will be many memories, and no doubt a number of stories from your time spent with Simon, perhaps encouraged by his favourite tipple of a G&T or a wee glass of Grand Marnier!  In the coming weeks, I hope that we get the chance to remember the good times and raise a glass in his honour." - Fleur Tisdale, 

Toy Trade Monthly Issues...

eplay November Issue

ToyWorld (UK) December Issue

The Toy Book Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards Special Edition

Weekly Top Stories from Toy Trade Magazines Worldwide...

Adventure Media & Events (US)

aNb Media (US)

  1. Larry and Elizabeth Schur Retire from ABC Kids

  2.  Kraft Heinz Announces New Merch Partners

  3. New Peanuts Partnerships Announced Globally

  4. Neopets Announce New Merchandise Licensing Program

  5. JAKKS Pacific Announces 'Legends Challenge' for Apex Legends Gamers

  6. Dynacraft Unveils Harry Potter and Looney Tunes Bikes

  7. SUMR Brands Names Stuart Noyes CEO

  8. L.O.L. Surprise! Launches New Video Game

  9. Frogger Extends Licensing Campaign with New Deals

  10. Boss Fight Studio Secures License for Popeye the Sailor

ToyWorld (UK)

1.  A Christmas miracle …it’s the Friday Blog!

2.  UK suppliers aghast at hike in container rates

3.  Exclusive: Gary and Duncan Grant on The Entertainer’s partnership projects

4.  12,000 jobs at risk as Debenhams stores set to close

5.   The December issue of Toy World is out now

6.   JouéClub’s 2020 Christmas catalogue calls on shoppers to ‘Rebuild Beirut’

7.   Tesco set to repay £585m in business rates relief

8.   Shops to be allowed to open 24/7 in December and January

9.   Barbie unveils youngest ever UK ‘Shero’ doll

10. Flair Just Play signs licensing deal with pocket.watch for Love, Diana

ICv2: The Business of Geek Culture's (US)

  1.  Rolling for Initiative -- A Case for the Possible Sale of Wizards of the Coast Being on the Horizon
  2.  Force of Will, Inc. Announces 'The Magic Stone War - Zero'
  3.  WizKids Figure and Terrain Release Calendar for Q1 of 2021
  4.  The Big Get Bigger: PRH Acquires S&S
  5.  GAMA Makes More Changes to the Origins Awards for the 2020/2021 Cycle
  6.  WizKids Figure and Terrain Release Calendar for Q2 of 2021
  7.  Twogether Studios Keeps 'The Adventure Zone: Bureau of Balance' Off Amazon for the Holidays
  8.  ABA Requests a DOJ Challenge to Penguin Random House's Purchase of Simon & Schuster
  9.  Funko Unveils Build-Your-Own 'Pop! People'
10.  Buffalo Games Doubles Down on Puzzles

TOYS Magazine (Germany) - posted once a month

1. Iconic: MinaLima, the graphic design duo of the Harry Potter movies, opens up about the look and feel of the franchise

2. Kids Design Award Germany: Discover the clever winning product of a young female designer that helps kids keep order and have fun

3. Joys of fatherhood: Find out from a young German entrepreneur what it means to be a modern dad

4. ASS Altenburger: Read how the traditional German card and board games manufacturer makes a profit during lockdown

5. Scandi collaboration: Explore „Bygglek", the fun storage solution for every home made by Lego and Ikea

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

  1. Infinity Studio brings Bruce Lee back to life 

  2. Hasbro and the World Taekwondo Federation team up to make a campaign with the PJ Masks 

  3. The toy which children cure Covid 19 with 

  4. The second season of "Hilda" has new licensees 

  5. McLaren Senna GTR and Ferrari 488 GTE arrive at LEGO Technic 

Video of the Week! 

It’s the most fun you can have with 54 blocks of wood!

Meet the inventor of Jenga, Leslie Scott, on this edition of  Tim Walsh's Where's the Fun from?

 

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