the Bloom Report

Worldwide Toy Industry's #1 News Summary

Below is September 11 - 19, 2020, Click Here for Last Week

Articles posted each day with newest articles at top of each news section. 

The previous week drops off each Friday when we send you highlights via email. 

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! 

You will be enjoying some awesome videos over social media and elsewhere the next six weeks. Our Toy and Game International Excellence Awards (the TAGIEs) are virtual, so we decided to not waste the creative, fun and heartfelt acceptance speeches and have encouraged the nominees to share them now (and ask for people to vote for them). Some of them will bring tears of laughter and others tears of gratitude. All make me so joyful, grateful and proud to be a part of our industry! 

Thank you for reading the Bloom Report! 

Mary

Hey-O! My name is Liesl Kadile and I am a Design Manager at Educational Insights! My goal at this company is to make pretty fun things, and have fun doing it, of course!

 

I’m sure we can all agree that design should be driven by the end user, so a little research and a lot of empathy go a long way. I start my process of visual design by determining:

1 - What is it?

2 - Who is it for?

3 - Why do they want it? 

4 - How will they use it?   Read More...

Hello, toy people! My name is Joey Lopez, and I’m a design manager at Educational Insights. This medium-sized toy company has some deep history, the kind you have to respect as well as live up to—and I feel it is my duty to do all I can to help keep this brand’s standards wildly high.

My design process starts with gathering information, inspiration, a little market research, but mostly—a lot of visuals. I think about what’s out there, what was done 100 years ago that isn’t around anymore, what I WISH the toys I had as a kid COULD do but didn’t. Oh yeah, and how to keep it under budget—but that isn’t always the end of an idea. Read More...

Ultra PRO Entertainment - tBR Company of the Week!

The evolution of a 70 year old company

 

Ultra PRO International LLC ("Ultra PRO") was founded in 1952 with the idea of keeping your prized possessions safe. As a privately-held, family-owned company with head offices near Los Angeles, California, we have been designing and manufacturing top quality products since 1952, and our brands are recognized for their high quality standards and design innovations.

 

With humble beginnings in photo albums and photo pages, the company quickly grew a reputation for keeping valuables safe. In the 1970’s and 1980’s, with the rise of sports card collecting, the company added storage solutions for these valuable items, quickly expanding into the growing market of sports memorabilia storage.

 

Then, in 1995 during the significant growth of collectible and trading card games, the company added another product - gaming card protection. As the first company to develop products specifically for games, this product propelled the company into a new level of success and an entire line of gaming accessories. Read More...

 

Financial & Legal News . . . 

Walmart plans to hire 20,000 holiday staff to meet online demand. Walmart Inc. will recruit more than 20,000 workers ahead of the U.S. holidays to prepare for an expected surge in online shopping amid the pandemic, its first large seasonal hiring in five years. The world’s biggest retailer is readying itself for a holiday e-commerce battle with Amazon.com Inc. by bringing on more seasonal staff to handle online orders ...

Hamleys owner Reliance Retail enters bidding for Debenhams. According to Sky News, Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest man and the powerhouse behind one of the country’s largest conglomerates, has emerged as a contender to take control of Debenhams, which has been in administration since April.

Following months of delays amid the coronavirus pandemic, Amazon Prime Day is now reportedly set to launch on October 13th. The annual sales event normally takes place in July and a number of sources with knowledge of Amazon’s plans have revealed it will now take place in three weeks’ time, although Amazon is yet to publicly confirm this. 

Breaking News: Rubie’s close to finalising agreement to come out of Chapter 11. Company behind the deal is headed by Joel Weinshanker, chairman of collectible toy specialist Neca. Following the announcement earlier this year that Rubie’s Masquerade Company had filed for Chapter 11 in the US, Toy World understands that a deal for the company to exit Chapter 11 is imminent. 

August a slow consumer spend month, yet retail sales jump a teeny bit. U.S. consumer spend slowed in August and core retail sales fell 0.1% but overall retail sales increased 0.6%. The sluggish spending, according to a CNBC report, was likely tied to extended unemployment benefits ending for millions in the U.S. and the overall sales bump was reportedly due to higher gas prices.

Voodoo wins plagiarism lawsuit against Zynga-owned Rollic Games. Voodoo has won an ongoing legal dispute with Rollic Games and developer Hero Games after accusing the two companies of copying one of its games. The hypercasual mobile games giant first took legal action against Rollic and Hero Games, both based in Istanbul, back in January over an update made to its free-to-play title Wood Shop.

OnBuy details plans to span 140 countries by 2023 in latest globalization moveOnBuy, the online marketplace that has set out its mission to rival Amazon and eBay, has detailed its latest plans for globalisation, aiming to scale up to span 140 countries by the year 2023. The platform will start with 40 initial sites by the end of this year, and has forecast to drive growth by 50 times the number within four years. Should OnBuy achieve the goals, it...

UK Smart Freight system not ready for January deadline. The government has told industry body Logistics UK , that the system will not be ready for January 1st, 2021. The Smart Freight System is designed to avoid congestion caused by new customs checks at key ports such as Dover when UK leaves the EU single market at the end of December.

Bandai Namco acquires Unknown 9 developer Reflector EntertainmentJapanese publisher Bandai Namco has acquired Canadian developer Reflector Entertainment for an undisclosed sum. The deal also includes the studio's subsidiary Reflector Interactive Productions and is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year.

Supercell ordered to pay $8.5 million for infringing Gree's patents. Japanese mobile developer Gree has won a lawsuit against Finnish developer Supercell and been awarded at least $8.5 million. Gree has been targeted the studio for a couple of years now, claiming its games -- such as Clash of Clans, Clash Royale and Brawl Stars -- infringe on multiple patents the Japanese firm holds in the US.

Unity valued at $13.7bn after successful IPO. Unity has completed its Initial Public Offering and been valued at $13.7 billion. The company, best known for the game development engine of the same name, began trading shares on the New York Stock Exchange yesterday under the symbol "U".

Xbox buys Bethesda parent ZeniMax for $7.5bn. Microsoft has announced the surprise acquisition of ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Bethesda Softworks. The deal cost $7.5 billion and expands the number of development studios Microsoft owns from 15 to 23.

Riot Games, Epic Games come under US Gov't scrutiny over Tencent ties. Days before the Trump administration is due to take action to ban two Chinese apps, Tiktok and WeChat in the United States, the US Committee on Foreign Investment has started scrutnizing the data security protocols of US-based game companies with ties to the Chinese tech giant Tencent.

Identity Games shutters U.S. office, shifts focus to distribution partners. Following the downsizing of its U.S. office in Washington over the past year, the Rotterdam-based company made the decision to close its Stateside outpost in favor of distribution partnerships. “In the U.S. we are happy to have Spin Master as our mass-market distribution partner for Escape Room,” says Jeroen Nugteren, managing director...

Nanobit acquired by Stillfront in $100 million deal. Stillfront has acquired the mobile developer Nanobit in a $100 million deal, though the acquisition could set Stillfront back as much as $148 million if certain sales targets are met. The initial leg of the deal sees Stillfront shelling out $100 million for 78 percent of Nanobit’s shares, with the remaining shares up for grabs in 2023 for an additional $48 million pending those...

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Trends, Market Research Reports . . .  

Hot toys in pandemic ditch screens, embrace social justice . . . Target adapts to new normal as shoppers go online. . . . Retail sales: rough days ahead at the register? 

Financial & Brokerage News . . . 

Hasbro +3% after BMO Capital turns bullish . . . Stocks Showing Improved Relative Strength: Mattel . . . What Hasbro, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:HAS) ROE Can Tell Us

Financial Reporting . . . 

Hornby trading update reports ‘return to normal’. Hornby reported that sales and margins for the period from 1st April to 31st August, 2020 were higher than previous years, and commented: “It is encouraging to report that our operations are nearly back to normal and we have made good progress against our strategic plan and KPIs.”

BMO upgrades Hasbro on toy industry performance. Hasbro Inc. may be headed for a strong holiday season - at least much better than what investors are currently anticipating. Gerrick Johnson of BMO Capital Markets upgraded the rating for Hasbro from Market Perform to Outperform, while raising the price target from $69 to $90.

JAKKS Pacific Inc. plunges 6.36% on September 23. JAKKS Pacific Inc. had a rough trading day for Wednesday September 23 as shares tumbled 6.36%, or a loss of $-0.26 per share, to close at $3.83. After opening the day at $4.12, shares of JAKKS Pacific Inc. traded as high as $4.14 and as low as $3.80. Volume was 83,286 shares over 622 trades …

WildBrain steady in 2020, despite COVID. An increase in production revenue in Q4 has helped WildBrain offset revenue losses in the final quarter of its 2020 fiscal as it realigns its sales strategy to prepare for 2021. The Canadian company reported financials for its Q4 and full fiscal 2020, which shows a year-over-year revenue loss of 3%.

Hong Kong: Kidsland unveils innovative trendy & collectible toy platform kkplus records sales of HK$400,000 the first weekend. Kidsland International Holdings Limited, the largest toy retailer and distributor in China, is pleased to unveil its innovative trendy and collectible toy platform kkplus at Langham Place, Hong Kong on 18 September. It offers differentiated product range and art museum-like shopping …

Why Hasbro stock popped 5% this morning. Shares of toymaker Hasbro popped more than 5% in early trading on the Nasdaq today after analysts at BMO Capital upgraded the stock to outperform with a $90 price target. Shares have since settled down to about a 3.7% gain …

Future Financial Reporting... 

Stocks showing improved relative strength: Mattel. Mattel had its Relative Strength (RS) Rating upgraded from 68 to 71 Monday -- a welcome improvement, but still short of the 80 or better score you prefer to see. When looking for the best stocks to buy and watch, one factor to watch closely is relative price strength.

Amazon's gearing up for a massive Q4. Amazon.com has already seen its sales grow extremely quickly through the first half of the year as the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed consumers to do more of their shopping online. But Amazon's making moves that indicate its fourth quarter could be an even bigger blowout for the leading online retailer.

Mattel Inc expected to announce Quarterly Sales of $1.46 billion. Wall Street brokerages expect Mattel Inc to announce $1.46 billion in sales for the current fiscal quarter, according to Zacks Investment Research. Mattel posted sales of $1.48 billion in the same quarter last year, which suggests a negative year over year growth rate of 1.4%. The firm is expected to report its next quarterly earnings report on Tuesday, Nov...

$1.78 billion in sales expected for Hasbro, Inc. this quarterWall Street brokerages predict that Hasbro, Inc. will report $1.78 billion in sales for the current fiscal quarter, Zacks Investment Research reports. Hasbro reported sales of $1.58 billion in the same quarter last year, which would suggest a positive year-over-year growth rate of 12.7%. The firm is scheduled to issue its next quarterly earnings report on Tuesday, October 27th.

Toyjobs has been the dominant recruiting

Stories & Comments . . . 

First Wave of Panels Announced for 2020 Toy & Game International Innovation Summit. People of Play, formerly known as the Chicago Toy & Game Group, is excited to announce its first wave of notable speakers and keynotes for the Toy & Game International Innovation Summit November 16-20. Sponsored by Longshore Limited, this virtual education and networking event focused on the toy and game inventing...

7 Candy Crush-inspired cakes that will make fans of the game drool. So you’ve spent countless hours matching up colorful confections in Candy Crush Saga. Maybe you’ve even mastered the notorious level 65. You’re starting to become a pro at this game you can’t seem to get enough of. So what’s next? Feeding your cravings in real life, that’s what—because we just unearthed the Candy Crush cookbook.

How TikTok is just beginning to transform advertising. TikTok recently launched our global business platform with a simple message to marketers: Don't Make Ads. Make TikToks. This isn't about simply pulling together a creator, a snappy sound, a creative effect. Overall, it’s not about the tactical output—it's about a strategy to transform how marketers can tell their story to the world.

Five dolls that changed the worldWhen scientists bring dolls into the lab, the toys transcend their role as playthings. They can expose racism and unleash aggression. The humanoid forms are easy to identify with, allowing them to serve as scientific stand-ins and therapeutic companions.

A wargame designer defines our four possible civil wars. I’m a wargame designer. I co-developed the first reboot of Axis & Allies and its D-Day edition, made a mythological Risk game called Risk Godstorm, and burned down both the Roman Empire in Gloria Mundi and medieval France in Veritas. I write about game theory learned from simulating war outcomes. Like many people, I’m stuck on this as the likely outcome of...

Games industry a "prime target" for cyber attacksA report from cybersecurity company Akamai revealed the extent of cyber attacks in the games industry, with games companies and players particularly targeted during COVID-19 lockdowns.

Video game loot boxes: another form of gambling? The government is asking for the public's opinion about the impact of loot boxes in video games, in an eight-week consultation. Loot boxes are a controversial feature of many video games - both console and mobile …

 

Remembering the toy industry's past . . . 

Talking View-Master from GAF (1970). Buoyed by the success of its View-Master, GAF released an audio-enabled variant of the 3D stereoscopic picture viewer in 1969-70. The Talking View-Master was powered by two C-batteries and contained other internal components, like a speaker, that made it roughly 3X the size of its audio-free counterpart.

Matchbox Toys Really Were Designed To Fit Inside a Matchbox. The classic Matchbox cars have been beloved childhood toys for decades. The toy vehicles were first created by a British company in the '50s, but the idea behind the little collectibles was really all because a dad wanted his little girl to be able to enjoy her toys at school.  In the 1940s, a couple of friends named Leslie and Rodney Smith (no relation) started a...

Batmobile From Corgi Toys (1966)Released in 1966, the Corgi 267 Batmobile was a 1:43 scale diecast model car introduced in concert with the 1966 Batman TV series starring Adam West. The car was painted mat black and featured wheels adorned with bat symbols engraved on the wheel hubs and doors. A highly detailed cockpit featured hand-painted figures of Batman and Robin at the controls …

The Toy Army of Peter the Great. As a child, Tsar Peter had all kinds of marvelous toys. Clockwork birds, music boxes, silver-cast horses, a real, but miniature carriage with windows made of crystal, drawn by four ponies, with a suite of four dwarves. But his most-loved toys were his toy guns, bows and arrows, axes, pikes, and swords, all made in sizes suitable for a child.

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Worldwide Licensing News . . .  

Mattel announces ‘Over the Moon’ doll and plush lineMattel has signed on to produce dolls and plush for Netflix’s newest animated musical, “Over the Moon.” “Over the Moon” is a story about a young girl passionate about science who builds a rocket ship to prove the existence of a moon goddess. On this adventure, she discovers a fantastical land full of creatures.

IMC Toys strikes new partnership with Nickelodeon for Cry Babies Magic Tears. IMC Toys has detailed a new collaboration with Nickelodeon that will see the broadcast of a series of Cry Babies Magic Tears content on Nick Jr. The partnership – brokered by Generation Entertainment – will feature linear content and a digital hub on Nick Jr. scheduled to go live from this month. Reaching over one million kids in the UK on the Nick...

Zag, On Kids & Family tap Wildbrain Spark for ‘Power Players’ Youtube expansion. ZAG and ON Kids & Family (Mediawan Group) appointed WildBrain Spark to manage the YouTube presence for Power Players. A full toy line from ZAG Lab and Playmates Toys is available at Walmart, Target, and Amazon in the U.S.

Fisher-Price expands Little People Collectors Series with Elf, Lord of the Rings. More famous faces are joining the ranks of the Fisher-Price Little People. Following the introduction of sets inspired by The Beatles, Masters of the Universe, KISS, and The Office, Mattel‘s Fisher-Price is adding characters from Elf and Lord of The Rings to the Little People Collectors Series.

Nickelodeon’s Nick Jr. to premiere all-new episodes this fall of Genius Brands International’s hit animation ‘Rainbow Rangers. Heading into its third year of airing on Nickelodeon’s Nick Jr. channel in the U.S., Genius Brands International “Genius Brands” announces the fall premiere of a slate of new episodes of its flagship animated preschool series, Rainbow Rangers, beginning Oct. 11. 

Billie Eilish launches her own doll line with Playmates Toys and Bravado. The American singer-songwriter, Billie Eilish, has released a new line of collectable toys and figures inspired by the looks she adopts in her music videos for Bad Guy and All Good Girls Go To Hell. The new range has been developed by Playmates Toys in a licensing partnership forged by Bravado. The toy line will launch this October and will be available...

Bored? Games? – Festival of Licensing examines the crossover between licensing and board games. Anna Knight, Informa Markets’ Global Licensing Group vice president, offers readers an in-depth look at licensing in the toy and game space. As Kids Industries’ co-founder Gary Pope recently said: “In times of difficulty, entertainment is the thing that keeps a family together, so there are reasons to be cheerful.” 

The Mandalorian gets a ton of new toys, including plenty of Baby Yoda. The second season of Disney+'s The Mandalorian hits the streaming service October 30, but with a new season, comes new toys. As the saying goes, this is the way. Disney and Lucasfilm have announced Mando Mondays, and to celebrate the announcement, starting October 26, toy juggernaut Hasbro will release new products for The Mandalorian …

Posh Paws named new plush partner for Sesame Street. The plush specialist, Posh Paws and its parent company Whitehouse Leisure, has been named the new plush partner for the iconic and globally popular Sesame Street brand in a deal that will cover the EMEA region. Under the partnership, Whitehouse Leisure will also be developing plush ranges for amusement channels.

Warner Bros. Games announces Hogwarts Legacy. Warner Bros. Games today announced Hogwarts Legacy, an open-world, single-player, action role-playing videogame (RPG) set in the 1800s wizarding world. Players will experience life as a student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry like never before, as they live the unwritten and embark on a dangerous journey to uncover a hidden truth of the wizarding world.

Forbidden Planet teams with BBC Studios and Titan Merchandise on ‘most ambitious Doctor Who merch project ever’. Geek pop culture and hobby retailer, Forbidden Planet has partnered with BBC Studios and Titan Merchandise to launch an exclusive apparel and giftware range for Doctor Who: Time Lord Victorious, in what it has billed its ‘most ambitious Doctor Who merchandising project ever.’

Jakks Pacific unveils ‘Treats At Home: Halloween’ with Super Mario, Frozen II Characters. The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to force creativity and evolution across a variety of industries, including toys that incorporate seasonal elements. As the owner of Disguise Inc., Jakks Pacific is a major player in the Halloween business, and this year, the company is introducing a new product range in an effort to connect with families during the spooky season while cross-pollinating its toys and costumes: Treats at Home.

People . . . 

LA-based Genius Brands has appointed Marc Rosenberg as president of global brands and chief marketing officer.Beginning in the role today, Rosenberg is charged with growing the company’s portfolio of children’s properties. He will be responsible for content sales and overseeing global licensing efforts. Most recently, Rosenberg worked as CEO of The Edge Desk, a workspace furniture company he founded. 

Hasbro’s VP of consumer products Marianne James on becoming a pre-school powerhouseWhen Hasbro first made clear its plans to take over the Entertainment One entity at the end of 2019, the writing was pretty much on the wall that 2020 was going to be an atypical year for the world of children’s entertainment, licensing, and toys.

Wilton Bradley expands marketing team. Following a summer of record-breaking sales for Wilton Bradley, the company has announced three new appointments to its growing marketing team. Anna Howard joins the team as head of digital marketing. Tom Drakett-Cain and Matt Parker join as brand marketing managers

Former Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime announces new game companyTwo years after stepping down as CEO at Blizzard, the game company he co-founded in 1991, Mike Morhaime is back with his next venture. It’s called Dreamhaven, and it’s a combination of a publisher and developer, with “a common goal to empower creators, help bring their ideas to life, and create original gaming experiences that foster meaningful...

AIS Play-Room names Rosie Marshall its new head of toys and children’s gifts. The former Toys R Us and Boswells Department Store buyer, and toy industry buying expert, Rosie Marshall has taken on the role of head of Play-Room, the toy and children’s gift division of AIS. Marshall’s appointment follows the announcement earlier this year that long-standing director, Miles Penhallow is to take early retirement...

Michel Ancel quits games developmentNotable games developer Michel Ancel is leaving the industry. He announced his departure via Instagram, where Ancel said he will "stop working on video games and fully focus on my second passion: wild life."

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Companies . . . 

Cards Against Humanity Sells Board Game Cafe To Canadian Chain, But It Will Mostly Stay The Same. Earlier this month, the card game crew sold its elaborately designed board game cafe at 1965 N. Milwaukee Ave. to the Canadian board game cafe chain Snakes & Lattes. The cafe will reopen under Snakes & Lattes’ ownership Oct. 14, according to a news release.

Awaken the Spirits for Funko’s Haunted Mansion Board Game. Welcome, foolish mortals, to the Disney Haunted Mansion – Call of the Spirits Game. Perfect for a game night this Halloween, Funko Games has materialized a Haunted Mansion board game based on the fan-favorite Disney theme park attraction. Designed for 2-6 players ages 9 and up, the game takes about 30 minutes to play and features...

Spin Master launches original ‘Mighty Express’ preschool series. Spin Master is launching its original preschool series Mighty Express on Netflix today, 22nd September. Spin Master fully owns the Mighty Express franchise and will retain the rights to distribution of the series (outside of SVOD), including licensing consumer products. Consumers can expect a toy line based on the series to launch next year.

Hasbro unveiles a new addition to its Marvel Legends line. As Hasbro gears up for its virtual PulseCon event this Friday, the company unveiled a new addition to its Marvel Legends line: a series of 3.75-inch retro figures. These new figures will go live exclusively on Hasbro Pulse at 5 p.m. ET this Friday, Sept. 25. They each feature five points of articulation and come in retro-inspired blister packs with Kenner branding.

Pre-orders ‘coming in fast’ for Thames & Kosmos’ building kit CREATTOThames & Kosmos has welcomed a new creative and versatile building system to the fold in the form of CREATTO, a kit that allows children to design and construct their own illuminated, three-dimensional characters. Aimed at kids aged six and upwards, CREATTO made its first appearance at London Toy Fair this year …

Gale Force Nine unveils two new expansions for 'Aliens' board gameGale Force Nine unveiled ALIENS: Ultimate Badasses and ALIENS: Get Away from Her You B***h, two new expansions for the ALIENS board game, coming in 2020. ALIENS: Ultimate Badasses expansion adds more options for battling the bugs. ALIENS: Get Away from Her You B***h expansion tacks on more Campaign options …

New Transformers Generations: War for Cybertron: Kingdom figures announced by Hasbro. Ahead of its PulseCon fan event this weekend, Hasbro unveiled 4 figures in Wave 1 of its Transformers: Generations War for Cybertron: Kingdom line. Basically, if you grew up a fan of Transformers: Beast Wars, you're about to get your nostalgia wishes for new figures granted. Hasbro revealed Rattrap, Cheetor, Cyclonus and...

Kellytoy’s new Squishmallows Heroes hit retailers this October. Kellytoy, a subsidiary of Jazwares, LLC, has announced details for its Squishmallows Heroes squad featuring six distinctive, colorful characters to inspire kids, tweens, collectors, toy lovers and hero worshipers of all ages. The lineup celebrates our nation’s everyday heroes …

Ravensburger will release 'Harry Potter Strike' into U.S. hobby channelRavensburger NA will release Harry Potter Strike, a dice game, into the U.S. hobby channel on October 1.  In Harry Potter Strike, players roll dice into an arena in attempt to cast spells successfully and win back more dice to roll.

Craft Buddy is ramping up its UK retail partnership with Norton PR campaign. The arts, crafts, and hobby specialist, Craft Buddy is ramping up awareness for its popular Crystal Art brand ranges through a new targeted B2B campaign for 2020 and 2021. Already firmly placed within toy, gift, and hobby markets across Europe, Craft Buddy is looking to expand the Crystal Art brand offering and retailer partnership opportunities...

Top GameStop investor wants to turn retailer into Amazon rival. Ryan Cohen, the entrepreneur who built Chewy.com into a pet-supply giant and sold it for more than $3 billion, is now pitching GameStop Corp. on a lofty goal: becoming a true competitor to Amazon.com Inc., according to a person familiar with the matter.

TOMY celebrates surge in sales as UK families embrace arts & crafts ahead of National Doodle Day. The international toy firm, TOMY, is preparing to celebrate National Doodle Day in style this September 25th, highlighting the products that it believes will be topping the wish lists of kids and families taking part in the artistic action this year. The firm believes that National Doodle Day, a day that celebrates the artistic talent...

Games Workshop unveils 'Warhammer Underworlds: Beastgrave - Arena Mortis'. Games Workshop unveiled Warhammer Underworlds: Beastgrave - Arena Mortis, a multiplayer expansion for Warhammer Underworlds: Beastgrave, for release on September 26. Warhammer Underworlds now features multiplayer combat in Arena Mortis which transforms the miniatures game into a free-for-all fight.

Corvus Belli offers 'Infinity' 'Stakeout Event Pack'. On October 23, Corvus Belli will release the STAKEOUT:  Season 11 Event Tournament Pack for the Infinity tabletop miniatures game. STAKEOUT is intended to support tournament play, with everything needed including a complete Competition Pack plus the prizes needed for the tournament and some exclusive extras …

Epoch launches Aquabeads TikTok campaign. Intended to broaden the brand’s appeal to a wider, more lifestyle-conscious audience, and using thousands of Aquabeads including the new Starbeads range and Disney licensed sets, each TikTok video is accompanied by the bespoke new #AquaBeats track being hosted on the company’s newly created Aquabeads TikTok account.

Epoch reveals enhanced Sylvanian Families loyalty schemeEpoch making toys is increasing its support for independent retailers in the run up to October half term and Christmas shopping period, with its flagship brand, Sylvanian Families, updating its loyalty scheme. Two in-store promotional campaigns have been created to boost sales and drive the collectability of the range.

LEGO details new partnerships that support racial equality. LEGO has introduced a slate of new partners as it moves towards a commitment it made in June this year ‘to stand together with the Black community’ against racism and inequality. Over the summer, the Danish toy maker also stated it would donate to organisations dedicated to supporting Black children and educating all children about racial inequality.

Rio Grande Games announces 'Praga Caput Regni'. Rio Grande Games announced Praga Caput Regni, a city construction game by Vladimir Suchy, for release in November. In Praga Caput Regni, players are wealthy citizens that are looking to build up medieval Prague thereby gaining the favor of the king.

'Heroquest's' return teased by Hasbro. Hasbro teased the return of Heroquest, a popular dungeon-crawling game first published in 1990, with a reveal countdown clock that ends at noon EST on September 22. It's been thirty years since Milton Bradley first sent fans on a dungeon adventure with Heroquest ...

Battle Sister is the first Warhammer 40,000 VR game. Battle Sister is an Oculus Quest and Oculus Quest 2 exclusive, and lets you play as one of the Adepta Sororitas. For the uninitiated - or the faithless! - the Adepta Sororitas is an all-female division of the Ecclesiarchy (the Imperium of Man's state church). The Sisters of Battle is the military arm of this division, and bad-ass they are, too.

Monopoly is releasing a 'Disney Villains' edition that will encourage you to scheme and steal your way to victory. If you've been itching to play as your favorite Disney villains in a board game, Monopoly has you covered. Hasbro just released a Disney Villains edition of the classic board game and it encourages fans to scheme and steal to make the game extra devious.

Amigo Games announces 'Dealt!' for U.S. hobby market. AMIGO Games announced Dealt! the English-language version of its Krass Kariert card game. In Dealt!, players try to dump all of the cards in their hand by playing up to three cards that are of higher rank than previously played cards. The catch is that players cannot rearrange their hands to play cards, and must only play the cards next to each other as they were dealt.

'Zendikar Rising' release status impacted further by 'Magic: The Gathering' production delays. Wizards of the Coast has updated the status of the Zendikar Rising production delays, which they had originally issued earlier in September. Zendikar Rising will still be headed to North American retailers in two waves. However, the first wave is now facing delays,

SEGA announces new gear to celebrate Sonic the Hedgehog's 30th Anniversary. Next year, 2021, will be the 30th anniversary for the famous blue hedgehog named Sonic. To celebrate the occasion, SEGA is pulling out some new Sonic the Hedgehog merchandise for fans to enjoy. This includes the Sonic Encyclo-Speed-Ia from Dark Horse Comics, a new collection of Pop! Vinyl figures from Funko, toys from Jakks Pacific …

PMI prepares to launch Series Three of its Fortnite range. Following the successful launch of Series 1 and 2 in 2019, which received positive feedback from retailers across the toy and entertainment industry, PMI is now gearing up for the UK launch of Series 3 of its Fortnite range this month. The line features stationery collectibles with items including stampers, highly detailed 3D figural key chains and more.

John Lewis scraps staff bonus following major cutbacks. The John Lewis Partnership confirmed this week that staff members will not receive a bonus for the first time since 1953, following a raft of store closures and job losses amid the coronavirus pandemic. The group posted a £55m loss for the six months to July 25th after higher costs offset an increase in revenues.

Bandai revives 'Digimon'. The English-language version of the new Digimon Card Game will be released by Bandai in January, including all the cards in the Japanese version to date. The Digimon Card Game was created by designer Ryan Miller and it features new mechanics.

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

Innersloth cancels Among Us 2 because the first game has become so popular. Innersloth has canceled Among Us 2 to continue supporting the first Among Us, which has become hugely popular in recent weeks. For those who missed the memo, Among Us is a multiplayer social deduction game of teamwork and betrayal that asks players to figure out who among their plucky space-faring crew is a murderous imposter.

Nintendo just announced a new Kirby game for the Switch, and it’s available right nowNintendo has just announced Kirby Fighters 2, a brand new game in the Kirby series for the Nintendo Switch, and it’s available to download from the eShop right now for $19.99. In the game, you fight against up to three other players in local or online multiplayer.

Microsoft’s Xbox Series X 1TB expandable storage priced at $219.99. Microsoft’s first 1TB expandable storage drive for the Xbox Series X / S will be priced at $219.99. Best Buy has started taking preorders for the accessory, revealing a final price that had leaked recently. These expandable storage cards slot into the rear of both the Xbox Series X / S to match the internal SSD speed and provide 1TB of extra storage.

Zynga launches Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells worldwideZynga Inc. announced that its magical Match-3 mobile game Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells has officially launched and begun rolling out to territories worldwide. Officially licensed from Warner Bros. Games and published under the Portkey Games label, the game is available for free download

Nintendo Switches are finally back in stock at Amazon—but not for long. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Nintendo Switches have been nearly impossible to find. Between being stuck at home and the release of Animal Crossing New Horizons, it seemed that everyone wanted a Switch to play with. Seriously. We spent months scouring the internet for Switches in stock, and more often than not, we could only find...

Core dev Manticore Games raises $15 million, thanks in part to Epic Games. Manticore Games, the studio behind the create-a-game platform Core, has raised $15 million in a funding round led by none other than Fortnite and Unreal Engine developer Epic Games. Core aims to be to video games what YouTube was to video production by offering a platform and suite of tools focused on lowering barriers through ease of creation.

Spellbreak hits 5 million players in under three weeks. Magically infused battle royale title Spellbreak has attracted 5 million players in under three weeks. Developer Proletariat, Inc. shared the milestone, and revealed the free-to-play title has been particularly popular with players in the United States, Japan, and Brazil.

BTS is coming to Fortnite. One of the biggest bands in the world is coming to one of the biggest games in the world. Today, Epic Games announced that K-pop group BTS will be debuting their next music video on Fortnite’s party royale island.

Football Manager 2020 sees 1 million players in first days of Epic Games Store free week. Football Manager 2020 director Miles Jacobson has shared a candid look at the game’s free week over on the Epic Games Store, chronicling the first few days of the promotion and the one million players it attracted in a matter of days.

Super Mario 3D All-Stars beats Avengers to No.1 | UK Charts. After two weeks at the top of the UK charts, the Avengers have been knocked down by another superhero: Mario, as Super Mario 3D All-Stars shot straight to No.1. Nintendo's bundle featuring HD ports of Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy for Switch is the third biggest game launch of the year in the UK …

Amazon is telling those who pre-ordered PS5s they may not get them at launch. Amazon is warning those who pre-ordered a PlayStation 5 from its listing that they may not receive the console on time. In an email circulating on social media, Amazon tells purchasers that they "may not receive this item on the day it is released due to high demand."

Sony apologizes for PS5 preorders mess, promises more stock over ‘next few days’. Sony has apologized for PS5 preorders being a bit of a mess. “Let’s be honest: PS5 preorders could have been a lot smoother,” says Sony from the official PlayStation Twitter account. “We truly apologize for that.” Preorders for the new PS5 console began on Wednesday, a day earlier than Sony had said retailers would take orders. It led to a scramble …

Fortnite: Save the World for Mac is shutting down because of Epic’s battle with AppleEpic Games says Fortnite: Save the World will no longer be playable on macOS beginning on September 23rd because Apple is preventing the game from receiving new updates. The co-op action shooter was initially released as a paid early access title in 2017. Epic’s far more popular free-to-play battle royale will still be playable on Mac, the company says.

The average cost to acquire a mobile game user plummeted this year. Mobile gaming user acquisition costs have plummetted year-over-year, but the cost to turn an installed user into a paying one has shot up. According to Liftoff's 2020 Mobile Gaming Apps Report, the cost to acquire a user now averages out to $1.47 per user -- down 66% from $4.37 last year …

First PS5 photos show just how big Sony’s next-gen console truly is. Sony’s upcoming PS5 hardware has appeared at Taiwan’s National Communications Commission (NCC), providing us with the first close up photos of the next-gen console. The NCC has published a variety of images (PDF), showing the standard PS5 laying horizontally, the included cables, and the removable base that holds the console in both vertical and horizontal positions.

Xbox Game Pass has topped 15 million subscribers. Xbox Game Pass now has over 15 million subscribers, up from the 10 million it boasted as of April, 30 2020. Microsoft announced the new milestone alongside its $7.5 billion acquisition of ZeniMax Media and The Elder Scrolls developer Bethesda.

Sony sees another three to four years of life in the PlayStation 4“The PS4 community will continue to be incredibly important to us for three to four years.” The folks over at Sony Interactive Entertainment have already said that their support for the PlayStation 4 won’t end with the PlayStation 5’s impending launch, but now SIE’s Jim Ryan has lightly expanded on that timeline.

Metacore gets €25m investment from SupercellThe Finnish developer Metacore has secured €25 million in investment and credit from Supercell. Metacore has also rebranded from its previous incarnation as Everywear Games. The new name, CEO and Co-Founder Mika Tammenkoski said, reflects the emphasis it places on the metagame of its products.

Warner Bros. reassures fans that J.K. Rowling isn’t directly involved with new Harry Potter game Warner Bros., the studio behind the latest Harry Potter video game title — Hogwarts Legacy, which will debut on next-gen consoles and PCs — has just posted an FAQ that directly addresses J.K. Rowling’s involvement with the title. “J.K. Rowling is not directly involved in the creation of the game, however, her extraordinary body of writing is the foundation of all projects in the Wizarding World,” the company writes. “This is not a new story from J.K. Rowling.”

Nintendo download: one small step for Mario, one giant triple jump for Nintendo SwitchSuper Mario 3D All-Stars, which includes Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy all in one package, is the ideal way to experience some of Mario’s greatest adventures of all time. In addition to having higher resolutions than their original versions, the games have been optimized for a smooth gameplay experience on Nintendo Switch.

Toy Safety and Counterfeit Related Articles . . . 

New Zealand: Highly careless' toy importers fined $118k for toys that endangered childrenTwo companies have been called “highly careless” and fined a total of $118,000 for importing toys that were unsafe and put children at risk. Greenstar Holdings Ltd was fined $54,000 in the Manukau District Court, after it pleaded guilty to four representative charges relating to the supply of 217 toy animal sets between Nov...

India- Govt extends deadline for implementation of quality norms for toy industry. The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) on wednesday issued a notification, extending the date of implementation of Toys (Quality Control) Order, 2020 as 1.1.2021 in place of 1.9.2020. As the government is focusing on promoting domestic manufacturing of toys, it came out with a quality control order and increased...

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Press Releases . . .

ElevatorUp Founder Nominated for Young Inventor of the Year, a Toy and Game International Excellence Award. Harrison Brooks, 17, ElevatorUp’s creator, designer, and CEO (Chief Elevator Officer), received a nomination for a Toy & Game International Excellence (TAGIE) Award in the category of Young Inventor of the Year. This award, considered to be an Oscar Award of the toy and game industry, is a major milestone for the card game which hit shelves just over 2 months ago, in the works since the founder was 12 years old.

EVEN PICKY EATERS ARE SCOOPING UP THREE PEAS IN A POD – TODAY’S HOT TOY CRAZE. Pea Pod Babies Boast 27 Collectible Tots Plus Three Rare And One Ultra-Rare Set Of Twins! Every Baby Doll Is Unique, Just Like Us! Move over carrots, peas are being preferred by kids with the rollout of Pea Pod Babies ($11.99). Inside each soft silicone peapod rest three pods – one containing a mystery baby doll, one filled with a complete outfit, and one holding accessories and a birth certificate. Kids won’t know which baby they are adopting until they pop it open. Boys and girls enjoy caring for their baby, even (or especially) when they squeeze baby after a bottle feeding as it spits it back out!

Spin Master's Latest Toy Innovation, Present Pets™ Puppies, Unbox Themselves in Heartwarming Way this Holiday Season. Inspired by the childhood dream of being gifted an adorable puppy in a bow-topped box, these soft interactive puppies are wrapped in a truly magical unboxing experience the whole family will love. Anticipation for these furry friends is already building with Amazon...

Spin Master Debuts New Preschool Series Mighty Express™. Spin Master Corp., a leading global children's entertainment company, debuts Mighty Express the CG animated preschool series that rolls onto Netflix today globally. From the company behind the blockbuster PAW Patrol® series, this new original series builds on Spin Master's legacy of creating powerhouse franchises marking...

YOUNG STUDENTS’ MUST-HAVE SUPPLIES LIST: SHARPENED PENCILS, WIDE-RULED PAPER & WHATSITSFACE® Emoting Plush Pals Can Save The Day For Beginner Students (& Parents) Coping With the New Normal Of In-Home Or Hybrid Classrooms. It took a while, but grownups conquered the pitfalls of Zoom and WebEx meetings with mute and unmute, typing in the chat room and talking on camera while others stared back at you. Now, imagine you are five or six-years-old and starting school – in a virtual classroom. Are you frustrated? Want to cry? Or do you have a wide-eared grin all the time? So many emotions are part of the new normal of being a student. Wouldn’t it be great to have a comforting plush pal nearby? Luckily there’s a puppy, kitty and teddy who emote what kids are feeling. Say hello to Whatsitsface 

News from Associations, Trade Shows, Awards and Festivals  . . .

(ASTRA, Hong Kong, LIMA, Spielwarenmesse, TA and more) 

First Wave of Panels Announced for 2020 Toy & Game International Innovation Summit. People of Play, formerly known as the Chicago Toy & Game Group, is excited to announce its first wave of notable speakers and keynotes for the Toy & Game International Innovation Summit November 16-20. Sponsored by Longshore Limited, this virtual education and networking event focused on the toy and game inventing...

Voting is now open for People of Play’s 2020 TAGIE Awards. People of Play – formerly known as Chicago Toy and Game – has unveiled its list of Toy and Game International Excellence awards finalists. Spanning categories such as Toy Inventor of the Year, Game Inventor of the Year and Young Inventor of the Year, the 13th annual TAGIE Awards honours the best innovator, designers, marketers, retailers, and suppliers in the...

Tribeca launches inaugural Games Award, assembles high-profile advisory board. The Tribeca Film Festival is bringing video games into the fold as of 2021. Organizers have announced plans for games to join the Festival as Official Selections, making those chosen eligible for the inaugural Tribeca Games Award.

Fat Brain Toys announces the top entries for 2020 Kidventor Contest, a toy and game invention contest for kidsFat Brain Toys, one of the nation's leading independent toy companies, today announced the selection of the top eight entries of their 2020 Kidventor Contest. The Kidventor Contest invites children ages six to thirteen to submit toy or game ideas for the chance to have their concept sold around the world.

Schleich invites kids to get creative with Times Square billboard contest. Few things go together like New York City and the Holiday Season. Schleich is celebrating both — and its big 85th anniversary — with the Your Imagination Up in Lights Contest, which will show off some kids’ creations in the heart of Times Square this December. Between today and Oct. 11, kids can submit a minute-long video that shares...

Melbourne International Games Week reveals nine days of online eventsMelbourne International Games Week will return this year with a full programme of online events. From October 3 to 11, events that typically take place live in Melbourne, Australia will be held digitally - a consequence of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

January HK trip in jeopardy as travel restrictions and quarantine measures expanded  As infection rates and confirmed cases of Covid-19 continue to rise across the globe, the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has quietly extended its restrictions on foreign travellers to 31st December 2020, while Toy World has ben told that the UK is about to be added to Hong Kong’s ‘high-risk’ travel list, starting...

ASTRA REVEALS LEADERSHIP SHAKEUP; APPOINTS SUE WARFIELD AS INTERIM PRESIDENT.  Sue Warfield is taking the helm as interim president of ASTRA. In a statement issued by the trade organization, ASTRA simply said that Kim Mosley, previous president, “is no longer employed by the association.” Warfield, a 30-year toy industry vet, most recently served as director of member relations at ASTRA.

Here's the Full List of Panels for Hasbro PulseCon This Month. Hasbro PulseCon is coming up for Hasbro to show off some fun new games and toys. The event will run for two days from September 25-26 via Hasbro Pulse’s YouTube channel.

Barbie 60th anniversary campaign recognised at EMEA Purpose Awards. Barbie – the only toy brand shortlisted for the awards – has been ‘highly commended’ for it’s 60th anniversary campaign, which set out to inspire the limitless potential in every girl and to close the ‘Dream Gap’, the time when girls start to doubt that they can be anything.

BlizzConline will bring back Blizzard’s canceled convention as an online show in FebruaryBlizzard Entertainment was forced to cancel its annual BlizzCon fan convention earlier this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but the company has announced new plans for an online-only version of the show. BlizzConline will take place on February 19th–20th, 2021.

Asmodee and Coiledspring Games launch AsmoFair Part II this OctoberAsmodee and Coiledspring Games are jumping swiftly onto the success of their pair’s pioneering all virtual trade show, AsmoFair – a digital showcase of board games and products that bridges the gap for supplier and buyer throughout the hiatus on physical events – with the launch of a second offering. 

MadeForMums reveals its Top Christmas Toys 2020 winnersThe MadeForMums Top Christmas Toys 2020 winners have been revealed, championing an expansive feast of toys voted the best of the year so far by UK children, families, and experts in the field. Spanning the sectors, names such as Laser Battle Hunters, Hatchimals Pixies Crystal Flyers, Gotta Go Flamingos, and LEGO Super Mario Adventures all feature.

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Top Stories from Trade Magazines Worldwide this Week . . .

Adventure Media & Events (US)

aNb Media's (US)

  1. 2020 ‘Toy Fair Everywhere Influencer Favorites’ Unveiled by Toy Association and Clamour

  2. Rick Greenberg Named CEO of RedwoodVentures

  3. CreateOn Unveils New Luminary MagnaTiles Set in Suport of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

  4. L.O.L. Surprise! to Launch L.O.L. Surprise! REMIX with Global Live Stream Event on Sept. 26

  5. PlayMonster Celebrates 30th Anniversary of SET Card Game

  6. Genius Brands International Launches Kartoon Classroom! As a Brand Extension of Kartoon Channel!

  7. YouTube Duo Vlad and Niki Ink Worldwide Merchandising Deal with Playmates Toys

  8. Canva for Education Announces Exclusive Care Bears Collection to Empower Teachers with More SEL Resources

  9. Dr. Seuss Enterprises Looks to Expand Merchandising in Latin America and Latinx Markets

  10. Moonbug Partners with UTA to Expand Kids’ Products in North America

Toyworld (UK) 

1.            More of that sort of thing…it’s the Friday Blog!

2.            Senior appointments made at Toymaster following Ian Edmunds’ departure

3.            Smiffys’ announces new appointments

4.            Toymaster issues rallying cry

5.            L.O.L. Surprise! Remix launches with global YouTube viewing party

6.            Graham Saltmarsh to head up Licensing International UK

7.            Lego makes substantial investment in sustainability pledge

8.            John Lewis scraps staff bonus following major cutbacks

9.            Mega Show Series 2020 is cancelled

10.          PMI prepares to launch Series Three of its Fortnite range

 

ICv2: THE BUSINESS OF GEEK CULTURE's (US)

  1.  Wizards of the Coast Releases More 'Magic: The Gathering' 'Zendikar Rising' Product Info
  2.  Rolling For Initiative -- The Week at Wizards That Was
  3.  Mantic Games Unveils 'Kings of War: Armada'
  4.  Wizards of the Coast Celebrates Another Return to Zendikar With a New 'Secret Lair'
  5.  More Cute Monsters Join 'Dungeons & Dragons: Figurines of Adorable Power'
  6.  Wizards of the Coast Reveals That 'Magic: The Gathering's' Commander Audience Has Tripled Between 2018 and 2020
  7.  Mondo Games Unveils 'Disney Shadowed Kingdom'
  8.  GameStop Sales Down 27%
  9.  Channel Check - Barnes & Noble (Games)
10.  Asmodee USA Will Release Three City Map 'MyPuzzles' Into U.S. Trade

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Watch him here on David Letterman and at our

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We are honored to carry on Phil's 22 year legacy and continue the Bloom Report. Phil has been a mensch

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

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Assistant Editor: Patrick Fisher