October 28 - November 4, 2022
Welcome to Your Weekly News Brief!
Happy Bloomin’ Friday!
November is here! Our Innovation Conferences and TAGIE Awards Gala will be star-studded with toy industry celebs, and our Holiday Chicago Toy & Game Fair promises to be a fabulous fun-filled family affair! Come one, come all!
And... here is a link to upcoming events!
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Columnist - Nancy Zwiers
Toy Inventors--The Heart and Soul of the Industry
Some of my favorite people in the industry are inventors. Is that a self-serving stance since I too was a toy inventor for a portion of my 30+ years in the industry? I like to think I was attracted to the occupation because I was so attracted to the people in it.
At its core, the toy industry is about children and play. Inventors embody that ethos better than perhaps any other type of participant. Most of my time was spent as a marketing executive…at Mattel (1990-1999), Funosophy, Inc. (2000-2015), Spin Master (2015-2019) and as a coach with CMO Coaches (2020-2022). But let’s be clear: product has always been my passion. Product is how we deliver play value—our industry’s reason-for-being. The rest just facilitates that delivery of value.
Play involves creativity, experimentation, openness, resilience, childlike wonder, spontaneity, and at its best, love and passion. Sounds a lot like the inventors I know!
I remember BMT when it stood for the founders (Jeff) Breslow, (Howard) Morrison, and (Rouben) Terzian. They were a fixture at Mattel and we did countless deals with them for innovative Barbie dolls, including My Size Barbie. My favorite project with them was the relaunch of Polly Pocket with the introduction of Fashion Polly. In that case, they had to share the credit (and royalty) with Casey Norman of Genie Toys, who had the patent on kraton clothes, and Chris Wiggs/Chris Taylor of Origin who invented the original Polly Pocket brand with the “peg” doll and compacts. Real Talkin’ Bubba was also so fun!
We worked with Bang Zoom, Bruce Lund, Seven Towns, Rehkemper Design, Kiscom/the Obb, Elliot Rudell, Marvin Glass, Pace Development, Loren Taylor (RIP), and many others. READ MORE...
POP Inventor & Innovation Week
75 Companies Looking for Ideas and More Registering!
If you're looking or if have toy & game ideas... this is the event for you!
We know what you’re thinking… roasting Matt Nuccio is low hanging fruit... but we are going to go with the strongest possible candidate for our inaugural POP Roast. Matt was reluctant at first, but said if it helped put a few smiles on the faces of colleagues, he would take one for the team and sit in the hot seat. Thank you, Matt!
Then, of course, the best possible host to keep the heat turned up is Matt’s old friend Brian Turtle. Thank you Brian!
Thanks also to Goliath for sponsoring the event, and Radio Flyer for allowing us to grill in their fabulous venue.
This will be fun! Join us! The POP Roast is part of POP Innovation Week!
Financial and Legal
Nintendo has formed a joint venture company with Japanese mobile developer Dena to further digitalize its business. The joint venture company will be called Nintendo Systems and according to a press release will focus on research and development while also seeking to "strengthen the digitalization of Nintendo’s business, in addition to the creation of value-added services."
***The above posted after November 4th***
Australian indie Princess Pictures has acquired the Dublin-based animation studio Boulder Media from Hasbro. The move is part of an effort to expand Princess’s production services capacity for its own and third-party content and to start developing Irish projects. Among Boulder’s roster of projects are My Little Pony for Paramount Pictures and Netflix, Memento Mori for RTÉ, Danger Mouse for Fremantle,...
Kids2, Inc announced the acquisition of the assets of Baby Dream Company Inc, adding the Baby Dream Machine as its latest and newest addition to the Ingenuity brand portfolio. Sleep is a huge parenting frustration, especially for parents Bart Lipski and Natalie Rebot. In their journey to find better sleep for their daughter, they worked with the sleep trainers and industry sleep experts to develop a product...
Netflix is continuing to expand its gaming operations, this time acquiring Seattle-based developer Spry Fox. The formerly independent developer, known for releases like Alphabear and Cozy Grove, becomes Netflix's sixth in-house games studio. "Their unique approach to game development and success with titles like Triple Town, Alphabear and Cozy Grove will help accelerate our creative development in another beloved...
The U.S. Department of Justice has won its suit to block the merger of book publishing giants Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster, and U.S. District Court Judge Florence Y. Pan has issued an order enjoining the companies from combining. "The Court finds that the United States has shown that 'the effect of [the proposed merger] may be substantially to lessen competition' in the market for the U.S. ...
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***The above posted after November 4th***
Trends, Market Research, and State of the Industry
***The above posted after November 4th***
UK Retailers predict mixed fortunes for Q4 - Barclays Corporate Banking data has revealed that value and discount retailers are confident of a strong Q4, despite customers feeling the effects of the cost of living crisis.
Stories, Comments, and Advice
In a Viewpoint column, Peadar Drislane suggests how advertisers can maximise the opportunity that programmatic media provides. With over 20 years’ experience in the media industry, having worked with a host of global brands as well as some of the biggest media agencies in the UK, Peadar’s expertise covers AV planning and buying in the toys & games and youth markets.
Asha Bhalsod of Etopia looks at how companies should be making preparations now for their imminent annual Amazon terms negotiations. Asha’s Viewpoint column says now is the time to start planning for annual terms negotiations with Amazon. There are two phases to this annual negotiation and the first phase is preparation, she writes. “The earlier you create your Joint Business Plan, which considers how...
FROM THE Toy Book EDITOR: A WELCOME RETURN TO HOLIDAY TRADITIONS. The basic desire for love, kindness, and being surrounded by family and friends has been top of mind for me of late — and I don’t think that I’m alone in that. It’s been a rough few years, but the resilience of the toy industry has been proven time and time again. This year, the biggest trend I’m seeing can be described using one word: traditional.
***The above posted after November 4th***
John Baulch, Toy World - Countdown conundrum…it’s the Friday Blog! The clocks have gone back, half-term week is in the rear-view mirror and preview season has officially started – the countdown to Christmas is well and truly underway. It has been great to get out and about this week, and we’ve started to get a glimpse of some of the great new launches which suppliers have got lined up for next year. But inevitably,...
10 Fascinating Facts About Lego—From World Records to David Beckham’s Obsession, Over the last 90 years, Lego has become the largest toy maker in the world. Did you know it’s also the largest manufacturer of tires? IF YOU BUILD IT, they will come—that’s always been true for baseball fields and it is starting to feel like an apt motto for Lego A/S, which celebrated its 90th birthday on Aug. 10.
Professional Cornhole Has a Cheating Scandal Called BagGate. Officials talk of new regulations to root out illegally sized bags. Fans are reeling: ‘The dirty underbelly is being exposed.’ Perhaps the greatest controversy in the history of the sport of cornhole unfolded in August at the 2022 American Cornhole League World Championships, in Rock Hill, S.C. Was the No. 1 ranked doubles team using illegal beanbags?
Steve Reece - TOY SOURCING: THE NEXT 10 YEARS – CHANGES, CHALLENGES & OPPORTUNITIES. Toy Sourcing has become a fairly straightforward process over the last couple of decades with a number of factories in China becoming the core suppliers to most toy companies. In many ways it would be a much simpler world if things stayed as they were with China remaining the dominant hub with strong efficiency, ...
JAMES ZAHN: FLIPPING THE CALENDAR FROM FALL TO FESTIVE FOR NEIGHBORHOOD TOY STORE MONTH. As I type these words, the reality is setting in that in just a few hours, kids of all ages will walk the streets in search of tricks and treats. Yes, Halloween is on a Monday this year, and while local ordinances may have pulled trick-or-treating ahead into the weekend for some families, October 31 is still a special day...
Neighborhood Toy Stores Have Reasons To Celebrate This Holiday Season. Amy Saldanha already knows this will be a good holiday season for her two toy stores in MN. “Families are in search of joy more than ever,” said Saldanha, CEO and founder of the Kiddywampus stores located in the Minneapolis suburbs of Hopkins and Chanhassen. Her stores are already beating results for 2019, the last pre-pandemic holiday season.
The Happy Meal inventor says McDonald’s didn’t want it at first. McDonald’s said this week that it sold half of its new Happy Meals geared toward adults in just four days. But four decades ago, when the first Happy Meal debuted, the company didn’t quite get it. Bernstein, whose ad agency ran marketing for McDonald’s (MCD) in several cities, had been working with McDonald’s for a decade before the Happy Meal debuted.
The Newest Card-Carrying Members of AARP: 20-Somethings. Youthful AARP members respect their elders’ access to discounts to cope with inflation. ‘Our daughter is an old soul. She now has the card to prove it.’ Some people dread receiving their AARP card in the mail. These young people can’t wait. They shamelessly flash their cards at restaurants, often confusing the wait staff and amazing and embarrassing their friends and family.
History and Nostalgia
The History of the View-Master. The View-Master got its start when Harold Graves, the president of Sawyer’s Photographic Services, met fellow camera buff William Gruber at the Oregon Caves National Monument in 1938. Gruber was using two cameras strapped together and explained that his plan was to update the stereoscopes that had been common in 19th-century drawing rooms by producing 3D color slides and a new hand-held viewer. Following their conversation, the two men made a deal to produce the View-Master.
***The above posted after November 4th***
How Toys Changed After World War II. The ascendance of plastics and television forever changed the industry. World War II gave rise to countless innovations that would change American life for decades to come—from the rugged Jeep, to mass-produced penicillin, to the terrifying atomic bomb. But, ironically enough, few U.S. industries were more profoundly affected by the war than the toy business.
History of Jacks - one of the oldest and most widespread toys in the world. Archeologists have found evidence of early jacks in ancient Egyptian murals. Archeologists also believe that even Cro-Magnon parents may have encouraged their children to play a primitive version of jacks on cave floors to increase hand-eye coordination! It’s thought that ancient Egyptian children played a game very similar to jacks called...
Licensing and Entertainment
Having successfully entered a licensing agreement with global branded entertainment company Hasbro, Rocafella Leisure has recently secured the investment to commence work on the first Nerf Action Xperience family entertainment centre in the UK. Each NAX centre provides guests with a multitude of Nerf fuelled indoor activities to explore. It consists of three different zones to activate Nerf adventures...
Bertish and Company is thrilled to announce the launch of its new Zuma the Dog augmented reality mobile gaming apparel range for kids. The game, Zuma Likes to Dig, is the first edition from The Zumaverse’s AR mobile games and shares its title with the first pre-school book written by Samantha Bertish, which kicked off the brand’s journey back in 2009.
Outright Games, worldwide publisher of family-friendly interactive entertainment, and MGA Entertainment are launching Bratz: Flaunt Your Fashion. This brand-new video game stars the girls with a passion for fashion and is available now on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC and Nintendo Switch.
Reebok announces new Peppa Pig collection. This is the third Reebok x Peppa Pig kids-only footwear collection, based on Hasbro’s popular pre-school brand. The new Reebok x Peppa Pig range was created to honour Peppa and what she loves most – her family and friends – and follows two previous Reebok x Peppa Pig collections that debuted in 2021.
Mattel and Devolver Digital have launched a presale for the new Masters of the Universe x Fall Guys toys. Devolver Digital is the studio behind the popular indie game Fall Guys. The game features multiplayer competitive minigames, like playing a game of tag or racing through an obstacle course. Players want to avoid their little bean-shaped character falling off the map or they’ll be eliminated.
Reindeer in Here is bringing its brand of holiday cheer to a national audience this year. Timed to the release of an updated range of plush toys, books, and other consumer products, CBS is releasing a new, one-hour Reindeer in Here holiday special this season. Paramount just revealed the all-star voice cast that includes Adam Devine as the voice of Blizzard, Jim Gaffigan as Santa, Melissa Villasenor as Candy, and Henry Winkler...
***The above posted after November 4th***
‘A Christmas Story Christmas’ releases official trailer to sequel of holiday classic. Legendary and Warner Bros. are producing the sequel to the 1983 holiday classic, “A Christmas Story,” with Peter Billingsley starring as Ralphie once again. The new film is set in the 1970s as adult Ralphie returns to his house on Cleveland Street to give his own kids a magical Christmas like the one he had growing up.
MGM has announced the launch of the MGM Clip Locator, an innovative, AI-driven solution that will enable marketers and filmmakers to quickly surface and source clips, reducing hours of research to just a few minutes. MGM is the first Hollywood studio to offer this type of platform, and paired with its vast library of content, the MGM Clip Locator is an absolute treasure trove for those researching clips for their creative...
Jetpack expands to offer L&M services. The UK-based distributor has tapped Stephen Toye Green to provide its kids clients with early insights, brand advice and connections to agents as they develop consumer products programs. Since it launched in 2014, Jetpack Distribution has built its business around selling kids shows around the world. Now the UK company is expanding its repetoire with the launch of a new L&M ...
Jade City Foods and Dr. Seuss Enterprises Bring Whoville Market Website Online with Grinch Themed Goods. The wanna-be citizens of Who-ville and Grinch fans everywhere are in for a tasty treat! Jade City Foods is collaborating with Dr. Seuss Enterprises to create a line of Grinch-themed products from Grow Your Heart 3 Sizes Grinch Dark Roast Coffee to Roast Beast Sauce that will be available online at the Whoville...
The Loyal Subjects has expanded their popular BST AXN (pronounced Best Action) lineup just in time for the holidays. The latest BST AXN launch expands on the success of Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles property and is sure to captivate multi-generational fans. BST AXN is the ultimate action figure mashup, representing everything from anime, action/adventure, Sci-Fi, entertainment, and nostalgic characters.
US AVOD platform The Roku Channel is launching the first Spanish-language section on its kids and families service to meet high demand from audiences. Roku already has a Spanish offering for older viewers called Espacio Latino, which includes original and acquired content. Now it’s taking the same approach to serving a younger demo. Available this month as a new kids and family hub option, it features...
Afro Unicorn, a licensed character brand founded by April Showers that helps to spread representation in the toy industry, is partnering with Walmart to introduce a new holiday collection. The collection includes a “Unique the Unicorn” plush toy — newly dressed in a red and green scarf — a Holiday Magic Unicorn Advent Calendar, and Afro Unicorn Reward Stickers.
THE NACELLE CO. UNLEASHES THE GREAT GARLOO. The Great Garloo first hit the scene in 1961 at the height of the sci-fi boom. Marx Toys’ 2-foot-tall remote-controlled Great Garloo was a thing of mystery that kids had to have and demand was fueled by a TV commercial in which the narrator asked: “Garloo the Mighty. Garloo the Untamed. Garloo the Terrible, Who can stop it? Who can control this monstrous creature?”
SPIN MASTER, MONSTER JAM SET GUINNESS WORLD RECORD FOR LARGEST DISPLAY OF MONSTER TRUCK TOYS. Feld Entertainment’s Monster Jam and its master toy partner Spin Master achieved a Guinness World Record at an Oct. 29 event, with 10,005 monster truck toys in a mosaic displaying the Monster Jam logo.
Sakar International is partnering with Epic Games, the company behind Fortnite, to create a licensed line of skateboards and helmets based on the popular game. Intended to encourage fans to stay adventurous both in and out of the game, gamers can choose from ready-to-ride skateboard models, individual decks, and protective helmets in a variety of designs and styles.
An assortment of famous Hasbro toy and game brands will be featured across theme parks in Saudi Arabia. The Al Hokair Group, a tourism and hospitality company, inked a licensing deal with Hasbro to launch Playocity, powered by Hasbro. The parks will include attractions based on brands including Transformers, My Little Pony, Monopoly, and more.
To celebrate 40 yrs of The Snowman and 10 yrs of The Snowman and the Snowdog film adaptations, Penguin Ventures (the licensing and consumer products division of Penguin Random House Children’s) has partnered with ODEON to bring the festive films to cinemas nationwide this winter. The hour-long theatrical screening will offer families the chance to experience the magic of The World of The Snowman...
Brand Central and their network of leading global subagents have been rapidly closing licensing partners around the globe. Bored of Directors offers a collection of top Bored Ape Yacht Club apes featuring a variety of aesthetics and personalities under one umbrella brand. With a full suite of apes, trend forward style guide, and retail partnerships lining up, Bored of Directors is going bananas.
Sesame Workshop and Quest Diagnostics has announced a new nationwide program to address health and well-being inequities among young children, particularly in low-income, rural, and marginalized communities. The pandemic has had wide-ranging and lingering effects on children’s health, with many missing routine and preventive healthcare check-ups.
CandyRific, in collaboration with Lucasfilm, has created Star Wars Classic-themed Character Candy Fans, inspired by Chewbacca, Darth Vader, Stormtrooper, and Yoda characters. These character fans will be available for shipping in December 2022. Star Wars Classic-themed Character Candy Fans – Push the button and feel a burst of cool air from these lovable Star Wars-themed Character Candy Fans.
Jurassic World : The Legacy of Isla Nublar Roars into Retail from Funko Games and Prospero Hall. Everyone can live dangerously and build their own dinosaur park with Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar from the clever minds at Prospero Hall and Funko Games. Initially launched on Kickstarter, the highly anticipated legacy, campaign-style board game is now widely available for the first time at retail stores nationwide.
Germany’s Kiddinx Media is expanding the reach of audio entertainment IP Bibi & Tina outside its domestic market through a new deal with Warner Music Group, which will distribute the podcast episodes in English-speaking territories, and work with German distributor Zebralution on maximizing opportunities in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Bibi & Tina launched in 1991 as a radio series for kids ages...
LA-based FAST channel manager OTTera has inked a deal with Smurfs brand owners LAFIG Belgium and IMPS to launch two channels featuring the iconic blue characters on connected TVs worldwide. Smurfs TV and Spanish-language channel Los Pitufos will debut globally in Q4 (although Smurfs TV won’t be available in North America due to licensing restrictions). They will both feature more than 500 episodes...
People of Play
Richard Dickson, president and chief operating officer of Mattel, has been elected to the Gap Inc. board. Dickson, a veteran of Bloomingdale’s, The Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. and the former Jones Group, brings experience across fashion, beauty, toys and collectibles. At the El Segundo, California-based Mattel, he leads a portfolio of brands overseeing innovation, strategy, design and development.
LEGO owner Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen spills all in authorised biography. The LEGO Group’s third-generation owner Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen has revealed how his family started the company in a tell-all authorised biography launching later this year. First published in Danish in 2021, The LEGO Story is finally getting an English-language edition in November, and is available to pre-order at Amazon now.
***The above posted after November 4th***
Azhelle Wade, The Toy Coach - EPISODE #149: BACK IN PERSON! THE PEOPLE OF PLAY INNOVATION CONFERENCE. Finally, this beloved toy and game innovation conference returns in person. The People of Play Innovation Conference is the largest global innovation conference in the toy and game world, welcoming over 50 companies from across 17 countries to review pitches from students, new inventors, and professional...
Goliath Group has unanimously decided to welcome the toy industry veteran Brian Weiss as the new president of N.A. Weiss has a history of working with other toy industry bigs, such as Jakks Pacific and Moose Toys. The new addition comes with a proposed vision by Goliath to expand further into the toy industry. CEO of Goliath Group Jochanan Golad says that Weiss’ industry knowledge will “play an integral role”...
Following months of speculation, Harold and Jennifer Chizick are tapping into more than two decades of toy industry and marketing experience to launch their new company, ChizSix Marketing & Media. ChizSix is a full-service agency that the Chizicks say “brings a modern and playful approach to integrated brand marketing that resonates with North American families and consumers.”
The Toy Book chatted with Carrie Scanlan, ToyFest show director, and members of the Western Toy and Hobby Representatives Association (WTHRA) to learn more about the first show under the new moniker, taking place Feb. 27-March 3 in Las Vegas’ World Market Center.
The Toy Book: What was the thinking behind the major move? Was it to fill in the gap left behind by Toy Fair’s move to September?
Companies and Brands
Goliath launches Christmas #PlayItForward influencer campaign. Norton PR has secured a host of family and lifestyle Instagram influencers who can showcase key games including Chicken Poo Bingo, Trash Stash, Slap The Deck, Chompin’ Charlie and The Floor Is Lava: Family Edition. Each influencer can then #PlayItForward by giving their followers chances to win mystery, Christmas wrapped games bundles.
The highly anticipated list of DreamToys for Christmas 2022 has been revealed, with pricing a strong consideration for this year’s selection. Featuring everything from hot new trends to evergreen brands, the Toy Retailers Association has unveiled its list of the DreamToys Top Toys for Christmas. Selected by an independent panel of retailers and toy experts, the DreamToys list is the most authoritative predictive list ...
Acamar Films has unveiled its Bing Store Pop-Up, a brand-new pop-up shopping experience for Bing. Open now, the Bing Store Pop-Up is the first of its kind dedicated to the hit pre-school animated series. Developed in partnership with Glasgow Fort’s owner, British Land, the Bing Store Pop-Up will be in residence at the centre until Saturday 31st December 2022.
By partnering with renowned filmmaker Reggie Yates, The Lego Group is inviting kids to use the medium of film to visualise, reflect and change the world around them. Reggie YatesThe Lego Group is launching a new competition for schools as part of its Build the Change curriculum-linked education programme, a powerful way for children to express their hopes and dreams for the future.
Rainbow High, the global fashion doll brand and hit animated YouTube series from MGA Entertainment, takes classic high school rivalry to the next level with the highly-anticipated Rainbow Vision. Introduced earlier this year via the animated series and new product launches, the friendly rivalry between fine arts schools Rainbow High and Shadow High will reach new heights in the series and beyond this autumn.
Zapf Creation is launching its new doll brand, Chou Chou, just in time for Christmas. The new dolls offer a fun twist on classic doll style and are designed to encourage nurturing doll play among children aged two and over. With adorable big eyes that ‘bobble’ when the dolls are moved around and colourful hair, the three Chou Chou dolls have an array of features that little ones will find engaging.
Anticipated by customers and passers-by from all over the world, the Hamleys Christmas Windows for 2022 include Disney, Hasbro Gaming and Schleich. Expertly installed by the Hamleys team, and showcasing Disney’s long awaited Avatar sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water, one of the windows will be adorned with watery LED backgrounds and glow in the dark coral, depicting moments from the popular film franchise.
***The above posted after November 4th***
Winning Moves UK has announced a total of nine new products landing in November 2022, all of which were only 12 weeks from idea to shelf. Winning Moves UK has been busy in the run up to Q4, bedding in a new 3PL warehouse partner, restructuring a sales team that has been through several significant changes recently and steadily growing its global brand.
Dr Louis Mittoni, CEO and managing director of Toys R Us ANZ, talks about the retailer’s plans for a physical retail presence and what comes next following the launch of its website. Toys R Us closed the doors of its remaining UK stores in April 2018. The retailer had been a household name for decades, its jaunty jingle and Geoffrey the giraffe mascot known to countless kids (and parents), and its stores essentially...
Schleich is tapping into children’s imagination with the launch of its Christmas competition based on the question ‘Do reindeer always have to look the same?’ Celebrating the power of imagination, creativity and free-thinking, the brand has launched a global competition inviting children to design their very own reindeer with the unique chance to have it turned in to a real Schleich figurine.
Toys R Us UK unveils its Top Toys for Christmas. With less than two months to go until Christmas, Toys R Us UK has announced its highly anticipated top toy predictions for 2022. Toys R Us has just recently re-launched online at toysrus.co.uk and babiesrus.co.uk to great acclaim and says it is in a ‘perfect position’ to predict the UK’s top selling toys this Christmas. With entertaining toys from the Barbie Cutie Reveal Doll ...
ITV’s This Morning names its Top Toys for Christmas 2022. The toys predicted to be popular this year were announced during This Morning’s annual segment, which was sponsored by Studio.co.uk. The list this year comprises household brands, perennially popular play patterns and hot properties. With the countdown to the big day already on, Steve Wilson shared the top picks for 2022 live on the show, while...
LEGO GROUP LETS KIDS DIRECT HOLIDAY CAMPAIGN, INCLUDING KATY PERRY. The LEGO Group launched its biggest holiday campaign to date, turning to the most creative minds on the planet: kids. They were handed creative control behind the cameras, building, unbuilding, and rebuilding what the holidays mean to them. Instead of typical, picture-perfect images...
As the holiday season approaches, the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program is celebrating its 75th year of service by continuing toy collection and donation campaigns. The Marines and 55,000 volunteers, in addition to local supporters and corporate partners of Toys for Tots, will be carrying out more than 830 toy collections. The donation programs will take place in the U.S., Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, ...
The Walt Disney Co. launched its annual Disney Ultimate Toy Drive that lets shoppers give back to those in need this holiday season. In partnership with the Marine Toys for Tots program, Disney has helped bring toys and message of hope to millions of children for 75 years. Walt Disney and his studio artists personally designed the original Toys for Tots train logo that is still used today.
On Nov. 3, the company broke ground on its $1-billion factory in Binh Duong Province in Vietnam. The factory is designed to be LEGO’s first carbon-neutral factory, helping the company meet its goal of cutting its carbon emissions by 37% by 2032. “Today marks a significant milestone for us as we celebrate breaking ground at what will be our sixth factory globally and first carbon-neutral run facility,” says CEO of the LEGO...
Genius Games, a manufuacturer of games both fun and educational, has launched a kickstarter for their newest endeavor, Double-Sided and Glow in the Dark Dinosaur Floor Puzzles. The project has already far exceeded it’s initial goal, but is still accepting pledges through November 17th. The Kickstarter for Dinosaur Floor Puzzles can be found here.
Rainbow High Competition, Rainbow Vision, Culminates with Season Finale and Roblox Livetopia Collaboration. Rainbow High, the leading global fashion doll brand and hit animated YouTube series from MGA Entertainment(MGA), takes classic, friendly high school rivalry to the next level with the most highly-anticipated competition of the year, Rainbow Vision.
The Pokémon Company International has announced a new special expansion for the Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG), Crown Zenith, releasing worldwide beginning January 20, 2023. The Pokémon TCG: Crown Zenith expansion will introduce a multitude of new art styles and unique illustrations, with an emphasis on alternate art cards, including the first-ever special art Pokémon VSTAR.
U.S. subscribers to the Disney+ streaming service will be able to purchase new Star Wars lightsabers, Black Panther masks and other merchandise starting on Tuesday, a week ahead of the general public, Walt Disney Co said in statement. The company described the offering as a limited test of an additional benefit for streaming customers looking to grab coveted products created for the holiday shopping season.
YouTube will start selling subscription streaming services operated by third-parties, taking on Amazon and Roku in the space. The streaming platform on Tuesday said it will launch what it is calling “Primetime Channels,” allowing users to subscribe to streaming services through their platform. Among the streaming services available at launch are Paramount+, Starz, AMC+, Showtime and ViX+, with NBA ...
Announcing its list as ‘great news for parents’, Tesco says its buyers have selected 10 top toys for Christmas that offer affordability as well as excellent play value. The retailer notes that demand for electronic toys has recently pushed the average price of a main Christmas gift for youngsters up to between £60 and £90. However, Tesco’s toy experts have chosen their top 10 based not only on current popularity...
Droyd, a manufacturer of kids’ rideables, recently debuted the Weeler and Blipper just in time for the holiday season. Both models are motorized bikes designed for kids — but with parents in mind — and feature a sporty, retro design. The Weeler is geared toward younger novice riders, ages 6-12, while the Blipper is designed for kids ages 13 and up for a more advanced experience.
WOW! STUFF PLOTS EXPANSION OF REAL FX TOY LINE. The British company, which sells the Real FX Baby Blue in the U.S. through a partnership with Jakks Pacific, plans to release an array of Real FX toys in the Robotic/Interactive Playmates class of The NPD Group’s Youth Electronics Supercategory.
Hasbro unveiled its Transformers Generations Holiday Optimus Prime, a special-edition action figure/vehicle combo that will roll out just in time for the holidays. Designed for kids ages 8 and up, the heroic Autobot leader has been redesigned with holiday-inspired details, including green-tinted windows, snowy deco, candy cane stripes, and a Santa Autobots logo. The action figure converts from a robot to an...
Magformers is kicking off the season early this year to support children and families in need with its “Merry Magformers” Buy, Get, and Give campaign. Beginning today, with every purchase of the Magformers Designer Carnival 46-piece set and/or the Tileblox Rainbow 20-piece set on magformers.com, the company will donate one to The Ronald McDonald House Charities Detroit.
ThinkFun Announces “MESH Helps” Task Force. ThinkFun published a comprehensive report that examines the mental health challenges facing today’s children and teens, and underscores the importance of building MESH (Mental, Emotional and Social Health) skills to build resilience and protect their mental health. The report, titled “Building Products with MESH in Mind,” encourages stakeholders in the games and toys industry...
MeteoHeroes – Saving Planet Earth’ Video Game Now on Sale in Physical Format. Following the digital launch in February of the first-ever MeteoHeroes video game on PlayStation and PC (STEAM platform), Mondo TV Studios, part of Mondo TV Group, one of the largest European producers and distributors of animated content, has announced the arrival of the game MeteoHeroes – Saving Planet Earth in physical format.
Marvel Snap Earns $2 Million In First Week, Becomes #1 iPhone Game in US and Canada. Marvel Snap ends its first week at the top of the iPhone App Store in the US and Canada, raking in 5.3 million downloads and $2 million in revenue. Nuverse and Second Dinner Studios' digital collectible card game Marvel Snap earned over $2 million in its first week, topping the App Store's gaming category in the USA and Canada.
The LeapFrog Magic Adventures Microscope offers children aged 5+ the chance to make new discoveries, enjoy tiny worlds, and explore the microscopic environment around them. Officially launched by TV presenter and nature lover Naomi Wilkinson at The Science Museum, London, mini scientists and budding explorers were encouraged to discover miniature worlds and learn about the human body, minerals...
Sambro International has partnered with Wastebuster and Products of Change to become the most recent toy company to join the growing membership of the Recycle to Read programme. The Recycle to Read initiative works with organisations and schools across the UK to facilitate the recycling and the re-use of toys, small electrical items and textiles. Participating schools and communities are then rewarded...
Gaming: Digital, Video, Hardware, and Development
Over 50 games are arriving in the Nintendo Switch eShop this week. Sonic Frontiers and Harvestella are the headliners, and Switch ports of It Takes Two and Sifu are also heading to the eShop. Sonic Frontiers is an open-world game where Sonic gets to explore the Starfell Islands and zoom around, building his arsenal of skills with nodes in a skill tree.
2023 is shaping up to be an enormous year for video games, with many titles previously planned for this year getting pushed into next. Big-name games like The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, the Dead Space remake, and Diablo IV are all coming in 2023, as are several high-profile remakes of classic games.
Marvel Snap currently only supports matchmade ranked games, but a new Battle mode coming before year's end will let players challenge their friends directly. As reported by The Washington Post, Battle mode will be coming to Marvel Snap before the end of the current calendar year, which means sometime in November or December. The mode will allow players to challenge specific players, like friends, as opposed to using the game's current matchmaking system.
Highlighted Press Releases
INVITE MOONLITE INSIDE THE KIDS’ ROOM EACH NIGHT SAY GOOD HOUSEKEEPING & PARENTS.COM. National Outlets & Toy Contests Tout This Sound And Light Storytime Show That Illuminates A Child’s Imagination Making Bedtime The Best Part Of The Day. St. Louis, MO (November 7, 2022) – When looking for a sign of whether to purchase a new product, it doesn’t get any better than the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval! In their just-released 2022 Best Toy Awards, GH editors “dig deeper to find out which ones are safe and easy to put together and will help your child learn and grow.” Parents.com lists the 2022 Best Toys that are curated by experts, tested by kids and rated by parents. Both prestigious outlets turn their spotlight on Moonlite ($45 Starter Packs of five themed stories), as they discovered that when mom or dad announces time for bed, kids actually leap to brush their teeth and snuggle under the covers!
***The above posted after November 4th***
SHOUT! KIDS PRESENTS – HIGHLY ANTICIPATED ANIMATED FEATURE MAKES ITS U.S. DEBUT! AINBO: SPIRIT OF THE AMAZON. DIRECTED BY JOSÉ ZELADA AND RICHARD CLAUS. SPECTACULAR MOVIE ADVENTURE LAUNCHES ON NOVEMBER 29, 2022. This holiday season, families and world travelers are invited to journey to a tropical paradise in South America and be enchanted by the exciting adventure of a brave young girl, Ainbo, and the splendor of the Amazon – the fragrant flora, exotic animals, and ancient trees hanging above – in the new animated feature AINBO: SPIRIT OF THE AMAZON. While mesmerized by the awe-inspiring beauty and mystique of the Amazon Rainforest, be inspired by the film’s powerful message about the importance of protecting our environment and the Amazon’s diverse species.
Safety and Counterfeiting
A Tesla Cyberquad modeled for children was recalled after the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) decided the toy vehicle did not meet safety standards. The CPSC issued the recall on Thursday, stating that the Cyberquad “fails to comply with the federal mandatory safety standard requirements for youth ATVs.” The Cyberquad also did not have a “CPSC-approved ATV action plan,” which includes safety requirements and measures, and is required to “manufacture, import, sell, or distribute ATVs.”
Associations, Shows, Awards, Events, and Festivals
The 10 winners of The New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children’s Books Award are chosen each year by a rotating panel of three expert judges. On the 2022 panel were Emily Jenkins, a prolific children’s author; Maggie Craig, a children’s librarian at the New York Public Library; and Raúl Colón, an award-winning illustrator of many acclaimed picture books.
The Canadian Toy Association (CTA) has announced the winners of its 2022 Rising Star Awards, the first to be honoured in the inaugural year of the prestigious annual awards programme. The Rising Star Award recognises emerging leaders in the toy industry whose achievements reflect exceptional growth and impact across the fields of manufacturing, retail and marketing. The winners will be showcased, and...
***The above was posted after November 4th***
The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) has just announced a bold new logo for their organization. Ahead of their trailblazing new endeavor, the Toy Boat, on February 20-24, ASTRA has revamped its logo and restated its vision statement as they move forward into a new toy landscape. Registration for the Toy Boat can be found here.
ASTRA RECOGNIZES SMALL BUSINESSES NATIONWIDE FOR 13TH YEAR. As an expanded version of Neighborhood Toy Store Day, the monthlong event serves as a reminder to shoppers to remember the neighborhood toy stores in their communities as they kick off the holiday shopping season. Spearheaded by the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA), the event is aligned with Black Friday,
The Toy Authority, the leader in short form video focused on toys, announced that voting is now open for the People’s Play Awards. Comprised of 17 categories, finalists were independently selected by top industry experts. Calling on the most important audience, The Toy Authority is now asking consumers to choose their favorites in each category, creating the ultimate list for this holiday season.
The UK independent buying group Toymaster has announced, on behalf of its board, that it has a new Member Committee. Previously, the group had two committees: Marketing and Merchandise. However, the Toymaster Board has agreed to amalgamate these into a single committee, henceforce known as the Member Committee. The new Member Committee is made up of the following people...
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.
Lesley John Cooke - Toy World is sad to report that industry veteran Les Cooke passed away peacefully at his home on 15th October.
Les’s former colleague and close friend, Bob Brechin, shared his memories of Les with Toy World.
When Bob joined Palitoy in 1967 as a toy designer, Les was responsible for the marketing of Action Man, which had been licensed the previous year from Hasbro. Les famously once said: “I had the best job in the toy industry – Action Man’s first Brand manager.”
“Les was quick to realise that Action Man provided more play scenarios than solely military adventures,” Bob explains. “Attending a research study, he noticed that one little boy was playing with the Mountain and Arctic Trooper Action Man as Scott of the Antarctic. This inspired Les to develop a range of adventure sets, which I was instructed to design. Action Man began to live up to his name, took on many roles and became a truly British icon.” Action Man was named Toy of the Decade in 1980, after winning the title Toy of the Year in its first outing.
In 1968, the Palitoy brand and its Coalville factory were bought by new owners General Mills. Les became Marketing director and was instrumental in introducing many iconic lines, including the hairstyling and makeup toy, Girls World; pocket-sized fashion doll, Pippa and the Discovery Time pre-school range.
When the Star Wars phenomenon exploded, Palitoy became the UK distributor of toys developed by sister company Kenner. Bob tells us that Les was loath to market the Star Wars range alongside Palitoy’s flagship Action Man concept, nervous about relying on the success of an unknown film to sell toys. He was persuaded by Kenner president, Bernie Loomis, who declared: “Star Wars will go on for twenty years.” After seeing the film, Les agreed with him.
Palitoy owner General Mills began to pursue global branding, introducing more ranges from the US to add to the success of Star Wars. As the likes of Care Bears joined the company’s portfolio, many of the classic ranges developed by Palitoy – including Action Man – started to be phased out. Les resigned from the company to join outgoing UK MD Bob Wilson to establish Emblem Toys in Leicester. Later they would resuscitate the ailing Matchbox Company.
“During my long association with Les Cooke, I have found him to be very committed, willing to embrace my ideas and always giving total support,” says Bob Brechin. “Everone I have talked to has demonstrated their respect and admiration for him. He had a strong affinity to toys and the long list of products he introduced attests to that. The British toy industry will mourn the passing of one of its stalwarts.”
Bob added that his thoughts were with Les’s wife Diane, and his children and grandchildren, at this sad time. Toy World would like to add its condolences to the family and all who knew Les.
Stevanne Auerbach aka Dr. Toy - (Tribute by Jacqueline Fulmer, Ph.D., Director of Omnidoll Research.) Pioneering mass media toy reviewer and early childhood studies author, Stevanne Auerbach, Ph.D., known to her readers and viewers as “Dr. Toy,” passed away in San Lorenzo, CA, on Wednesday, October 19, 2022, at age 84, due to complications from stroke.
Stevanne Auerbach was an accomplished speaker, consultant, and author, who had trained in child development and special education. Her works ranged from the esoteric: editing volumes on early childhood studies; to the practical: handbooks on the Peace Corps, careers in Home Economics, physical education for differently abled children, and the search for quality childcare; to the creative: a children’s book (The Alphabet Tree, 1988), a novel (The Contest, 2009), a book of poetry (Petals, 1973), and a screenplay. Her title, “Dr. Toy,” dated to her first assignment with Creative Playthings in 1968, where she developed its first education marketing program. She became one of the first mass media “toy reviewers,” evaluating toys, publishing articles, and appearing on radio and television in American markets from coast to coast, from 1986 to 2018. When her distinctive gold foil “Dr. Toy Award” stickers appeared on retail products, consumers would know that they were purchasing a quality toy that would enrich their children’s lives.
To have known Stevanne was to experience her enthusiasm for the value of play in everyone’s lives and her generosity in helping people at every stage of their lives.
Stevanne is survived by her husband Ralph Whitten, daughter Amy Beth Auerbach, grandson Josiah Metz, and sister Judy Schwartz (Martin Schwartz).
Stevanne was born to Jeane Sydney Rosen Stockheim and Nathan Carl Stockheim on September 22, 1938, in New York City. She was raised in Juniper Park in Middle Village, a newly developed neighborhood in the borough of Queens in New York City. Her mother spent most of her career working in public health, and her father worked as a firefighter and math and science teacher. READ MORE...
Rieko Kodama. Skies of Arcadia producer and team leader on the original Phantasy Star games Rieko Kodama has passed away at age 58. According to a Sega statement to IGN, Kodama passed away in five months ago in May 2022. No cause of death was given.
Word of Kodama's possible death began to spread after owners of Sega's Mega Drive Mini II retro console noticed her inclusion in the console's credits, which stated "In Memory of Rieko Kodama." In response to queries about the message, Sega Producer Yosuke Okunari confirmed fan suspicions, writing "as you understand it. We respected her."
Kodama's three-decade career in video games (which she began under the name Phoenix Rie) spanned multiple console generations and game genres. She is often credited for being a trailblazing artist, director, and producer in an era when women's contributions to the video game industry were less-recognized.
Her early games at Sega included work on games llike Champion Boxing, Sega Ninja, and Quartet. Her art appeared in several landmark Sega titles including Altered Beast and Sonic the Hedgehog. Most recently, she produced the Sega Ages series of classic game ports on Nintendo Switch. Many of those ports brought games she helped create to modern audiences.
In 2019, the organizers of Game Developers Conference (disclaimer: our sibling organization) honored Kodama with the Pioneer award. In a message where she accepted the award, she gave thanks fellow Sega collaborators like Yoshiki Kawasaki for supporting her in her career.
In a rare interview with Kotaku around the same time period, Kodama reflected on the success of Skies of Arcadia, which has remained a cult classic among fans of Japanese Role-Playing Games. "Portrayal of dark worlds was certainly what was trending in Japan at the time, but our team preferred to create an optimistic protagonist who explored the world," she said in reflection. "[That] gave birth to Skies of Arcadia’s scenario and characters."
With Kodama's passing, the video game industry has lost one of the few women who has been a constant presence from the console industry's early days all the way into the modern era. Even fewer have worked on so many titles that would inspire game developers around the globe.
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