the Bloom Report

Worldwide Toy Industry's #1 News Summary

Below is September 18 - 25, 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! 

I was speaking with Robert Pasin yesterday and it reminded me of how much I loved the Academy Award winning short film Taking Flight about the life and heritage of his grandfather, Antonio Pasin, inventor of the Radio Flyer Wagon. It is the sweetest film about the power of imagination and adventure in childhood and beyond. I still have the Radio Flyer wagon my mom gave to my kids when they were little. Someday when my children have children, we'll have our own epic adventures on that wagon. How wonderful that we are part of an industry that can bring joy to so many... including ourselves! 

 

Thank you for reading the Bloom Report! 

Mary

Think back to the first week in March 2020. Just after New York Toy Fair and pumped up for another year in the Toy Biz. Then……Covd-19 came and a global pandemic. Now what? It was so new and confusing at the time for all of us. I took a stab at writing the following March 12, 2020 to our 100+ Learning Express Toy stores in hopes to prepare them what “might” come based on history. My experiences. Here is what was written. 
  
“What we could expect……..in the toy industry.


History says a lot about times like these.
  
I put on my Nielsen research hat from 25 years ago to look at what happens in times of much uncertainty as we're seeing with the spread of the coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19. Customers are spooked at the prospect of financial distress as events are canceled, shelves at grocery stores are picked bare, and a 24-hour news cycle pounds us about an illness we don't yet fully understand. The current climate mirrors a lot of what happened following 9/11.
  
 Over the past 20 years, two major disruptions have taken place that can provide insight into what is happening now and how it could play out based on historical data.

 Sept. 11, 2001
  
 In a pre-Amazon era, the toy industry was trending downward on a slight 3% decline during the 12-month period leading to 9/11. Overall, 2000 was a very strong year with Pokémon and Razor scooters dominating sales, which carried into what was shaping up to be a very solid year until 9/11 changed the world. Sales in September 2001 declined 30% versus the same period a year earlier, followed by a 28% decrease in October, a 15% decrease in November, and an 8% decrease in December. Yes, Christmas still came.  Read More...

David Preti, COO of CMON - Looking to the Bright Future of Board Games- tBR Company of the Week!

The tabletop gaming industry has seen double digit growth for nearly two decades straight with no sign of slowing down. Roughly ten board games are released per day and many are calling this the "Golden Age of Tabletop." We spoke with CMON's COO, David Preti about what it means to be a major part of an industry coming into its own.

 

FIRST UP, HOW ARE YOU AND CMON DOING DURING THE PANDEMIC?

 

I'm happy to say, very busy.  On one hand, we've continued to work at full speed on our upcoming games.  We have staff and freelancers all over the world, and while no one has been unaffected by the virus, so much of what we do is behind the scenes, like the design, development, and artwork of our games so it's wasn't too difficult for most people to work from home. On the other hand, we've also been doing things we've never done before to transition to this new environment; really learning on the fly, for example, how to turn live events into on-line events in a very short window of time. I'm really proud of the effort everyone has put forward while being under such stress.

 

WHAT DO YOU THINK THE BIGGEST CHANGES AT CMON HAVE BEEN DURING THE PANDEMIC?

 

Definitely our increased focus on direct interaction with players.  When the lockdowns began worldwide, I really wanted to live up to our potential as an entertainment company.  We make board games to entertain people, and I wanted to offer ways for people to take thier mind off current events. We increased the free content we offered on social media like free missions for Zombicide and Massive Darkenss. We did our first print-and-play of a game called Xenoshyft, and we put a couple of free games on Tabletop Simulator.  The other big thing, as I mentioned, was taking our live events on-line. When we, sadly, had to cancel our annual CMON Expo in May, we immediately began working on an on-line version not knowing what to expect. That effort became CMON Virtual Expo, and we were so happy with the fan response, and thousands of people from around the world turned out.  We did another Virtual Expo focused on Asia in July, and the two events really taught us a lot and gave us good feedback for future on-line shows.  Read More...

 

Financial & Legal News . . . 

The Centre for Retail Research has found that nearly 14,000 (UK) stores have permanently shuttered in 2020. Permanent store closures are up +24.8% on the same period last year, according to the Centre for Retail Research, which has also found that non-food retailers have so far lost around £9b in sales. The news comes as analysis by the consultancy Altus Group indicates retail space may ultimately have to be...

Walmart invests $560m in Indian e-commerce firm Flipkart. US retail giant Walmart has invested $560m in Indian e-commerce company Flipkart as part of the $1.2bn round it announced in July 2020. Flipkart allotted 39,57,960 equity shares at $141.6 per share to Walmart for the US firm’s investment. Flipkart is reportedly planning for an initial public offering in 2021. According to media reports, the e-commerce firm is likely to be listed in the US and is expected to be valued in the range of $40bn to $45bn.

B&M to open up to 45 new stores in the UK following ‘strong growth’ in sales. B&M has detailed its plans to open between 40 and 45 new stores across the UK following a recorded ‘strong growth’ in sales that has encouraged the retailer to raise its half-year profit guidance as a result. The chain now expects to post an adjusted EBITDA of £285 million for the six months to September 26th.

Epic’s decision to bypass Apple’s App Store policies were dishonest, says US judge. A US judge hearing arguments in Epic’s antitrust lawsuit against Apple has criticized the game developer’s decision to breach its contract with the iPhone maker by pushing a version of Fortnite with a custom payment system onto the App Store. The decision resulted in Apple removing Fortnite from the App Store.

Epic vs Apple judge calls for trial by juryThe judge overseeing the ongoing antitrust dispute between Epic Games and Apple has proposed a trial by jury, which is likely to take place next year. The first hearing in the case was held via a three-hour video conference yesterday and saw both sides argue their case directly to the judge for the first time.

Armada Interactive declares bankruptcyArmada Interactive has declared bankruptcy, according to a Pocket Gamer report. The Helsinki-based mobile studio formed by ex-Remedy, Crytek, Seriously, and BioWare developers announced itself to the world in 2016 with $3 million in seed funding and a goal of making AAA-style PvP mobile games …

Take-Two sued over use of tattoos in WWE 2K. Tattoo artist Catherine Alexander has filed a complaint against Take-Two over the use of her designs in the WWE 2K series, and the case will be going to court. Alexander was challenging the use of WWE pro wrestler Randy Orton's six tattoos that she inked, and which have been included in the games without her consent.

TikTok: US judge halts app store ban. TikTok has avoided a government-ordered block on new downloads in the US after a judge issued a temporary injunction. The video-sharing app had faced being removed from Apple's App Store and Android's Google Play marketplace at midnight local time in Washington DC.

Supercell to pay $8.5 million over patent dispute with F2P dev Gree. A patent dispute between two mobile developers has ended in a Texas court ordering Tencent subsidiary Supercell to pay $8.5 million to the Japanese dev Gree for what a jury found to be “willful” infringement of Gree’s patents.

Fortnite creator, Epic Games, has revealed its acquisition of SuperAwesome, a technology platform based in London that allows developers to create safer digital experiences for children on the internet. Used by brands such as Lego, Hasbro, Sega and Nintendo, SuperAwesome offers tools and parental consent management services for safe engagement through apps, games and services.

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Trends, Market Research Reports . . .  

Local shopping and family time will prosper this Christmas, says new research from Beano Brain . . .  A Family Fare: ToyNews’ guide to the latest in the Games & Puzzles market . . . U.S. imports surge as pandemic worries have retailers stockpiling . . . Consumers urged to start their online Christmas shopping early

Financial & Brokerage News . . . 

Barbie could be queen of the holiday season with analysts upbeat about Mattel and Hasbro . . . Hedge Funds Are Coming Back To Mattel, Inc. (MAT) . . . Is Hasbro Stock a Buy? . . . Is Mattel Stock a Buy?

 

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 . . . 

Empathetic Leadership Matters More Today Than Ever, Mattel’s Research Shows The Importance Of Doll Play. One of the most significant impacts around education and development among young children during the lockdown is the impact of reduced social interaction for pre and primary school children (aged 4- 8 years). Research from a team of neuroscientists, led by Dr. Sarah Gerson at Cardiff University and toy...

The October 2020 issue of Toy World is available to read online now. The 108-page October issue of Toy World is out now, accompanied as usual by the dedicated Mattel supplement. With the Festival of Licensing poised to kick off on 6th October, this issue has a major focused on the licensed sector. We’ve spoken to Anna Knight, Informa Markets’ Global Licensing Group VP about what ‘Festival’ (as it’s being fondly referred to)... 

Amazon unveils its top 12 toys for Christmas. As the countdown to Christmas begins, Amazon.co.uk has revealed its top toys for 2020. Handpicked by a team of Amazon toy experts, this year’s top gifts take inspiration from cult TV, movie and video game characters, alongside popular characters, the unboxing trend and technology. This year, with families staying at home and spending more time together, retro classics...

Cloud streaming has larger carbon footprint than downloads, physical games. PlayStation has published an annual report on its work to reduce its carbon emissions in partnership with Playing for the Planet Alliance, including data showing that cloud streaming can produce a larger carbon footprint than downloads or physical games.

Amazon Prime Day set for Oct. 13-14. Amazon Sept. 28 confirmed online scuttlebutt that it would hold its annual Prime Day ecommerce sales event Oct. 13-14. The news follows Amazon’s unveiling of a range of new and updated consumer electronics devices, including Luna online gaming system and controller, and globe-shaped Echo speakers.

India seeks to become toy capital by dethroning China after PM Modi's exhortation. According to a report by ET, even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi exhorted startups and entrepreneurs to turn India into a global toy hub, it has emerged that the Indian toy industry is fractured, with just 3% of the 4,000-odd manufacturers being large-scale players, according to the Sports Goods Export Promotion Council. 

Retail leader warns of huge changes in retail landscape. Lord Wolfson, chief executive at Next, fears there has been a permanent shift to online shopping and that high street retail will be forced to adapt. In an interview with the BBC, Lord Wolfson said there was a clear threat to thousands of traditional high street retail jobs, which are now "unviable", as shoppers have increasingly embraced online shopping...

Melburnians declare game-on during lockdown. With game night still on hold as Melburnians tentatively emerge from a long winter stuck at home, the virtual "big night in" offers us new ways to stay in touch with old friends. Rather than just hibernate on the couch binge-watching Netflix during lockdown, many of us have also rekindled our passion for playing games. This has seen a boom in sales, not just of video games...

Panic Buying could ruin your children’s Christmas. Panic Buying could ruin your children’s Christmas. James Owen of Rebo UK Ltd (www.outdoortoys.co.uk) warns parents that COVID-inspired panic buying will lead to a dramatic shortage of children’s toys before Christmas.

Remembering the toy industry's past . . . 

Construct-o-Straws from Parker Brothers (1974). Parker Brothers’ Construct-o-Straws combined multi-coloured drinking straws with red plastic connectors to create an easy-to-use construction set for children of all ages. Advertised as “the new dimension in construction toys”, the flexible polyethylene tubes could be cut to any length, allowing models to be built using a variety of different curves and angles.

Attic discovery: Machine Man with box sets $159,900 toy robot auction record at Morphy. If it feels like déjà vu, it is because Antiques and The Arts Weekly ran a similar headline in March, 2019 when Morphy Auctions set an auction record for any unboxed robot with the $86,100 sale of a tin litho Machine Man. We reprise the story now as the firm has done it again - but this time without any qualifiers - as a Machine Man...

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Worldwide Licensing News . . .  

Licensing nostalgia: Why Mattel is looking to the allure of yesteryear in 2020 and beyond, Whether it’s in the revival of the Masters of the Universe franchise, the ongoing celebrations for the 75th anniversary of Thomas and Friends, or the new waves that its pre-school brand Fisher-Price is making across markets right now, Mattel is well and truly tapping into the nostalgia trend this year. With partnerships, new launches,...

MGA Entertainment adopts new Rescue Tales line. MGA Entertainment is partnering with Best Friends Animal Society, a leading animal welfare society, as a part of its launch for the new Rescue Tales line. “Rescue Tales offers an opportunity for kids to play a role in rescuing and taking care of a new pet,” said Isaac Larian, CEO and Founder of MGA Entertainment.

Barbie partners with Skinnydip to launch accessories range. The ‘Not Your Doll’ collection celebrates the evolution of Barbie, with designs inspired by the brand’s retro and modern elements. Barbie has teamed up with Skinnydip to launch a new collection of Barbie adult accessories, including tech and apparel, phone cases, water bottles, makeup bags, clothing and hair accessories.

New in licensing: tonies Speaker toys launches in U.S. Currently the fastest growing toy company in Europe, tonies has made their U.S. debut in time for the fall and holiday seasons. Currently the fastest growing toy company in Europe, tonies has made their U.S. debut in time for the fall and holiday seasons. tonies are an original, screen-free audio entertainment system designed specifically for children ages three and older.

Jazwares & All Elite Wrestling unrivaled toy line inspired by wrestling’s hottest new franchise available at Walmart now. Jazwares, a global leader in play, and All Elite Wrestling (AEW), the new professional wrestling league that is taking America by storm, are jumping into the ring together on AEW’s first line of action figures and role play collectibles.  Available at Walmart now …

People . . . 

Richard North proves he’s got the Wow! Stuff with TAGIE nomination video. The CEO of Wow! Stuff donned a floral crop top - borrowed from his daughter - to demonstrate the capabilities of the company's new mask printing machine.  Wow! Stuff turned its hand to inventing a new kind of face mask during the early weeks of the pandemic, earning the company a nomination for a TAGIE, a Toy and Game International Excellence...

A 24-year-old game developer for Roblox who makes over $1 million a year shares how he started his own company after dropping out of school. In 2010, Alex Hicks released his first video game on Roblox. Ten years later, he's made more than $1 million a year as the owner of game development studio RedManta, which creates games for the popular kids platform and has since generated nearly one billion plays combined.

Michel Ancel denies link between departure and Ubisoft abuse scandal. Rayman and Beyond Good & Evil creator Michel Ancel has denied accusations of toxic mismanagement. The claims were first reported by French newspaper Libération over the weekend, highlighting harmful behaviours from Ancel as well as various issues with the development of Beyond Good & Evil 2.

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Companies . . . 

Toonz, GoldieBlox team up on STEM content. Under the five-year deal, Goldie and Friends characters will get their own animated series, and the two companies will also create new jointly owned IPs. India’s Toonz Media Group has signed a multi-year partnership with STEM-focused toyco GoldieBlox to develop kids and family content featuring GoldieBlox’s characters, like Goldie and Friends, and new jointly owned IPs...

Mattel Unveils Yara Shahidi 'Vote' Barbie Ahead Of 2020 Election. El Segundo-based Mattel has relaunched its Shero Doll which features activist and actress Yara Shahidi with a new style. A new Barbie doll is encouraging people to vote this election. El Segundo-based Mattel has relaunched its Shero Doll which features activist and actress Yara Shahidi with a new style.

Hasbro & Renegade Game Studios to develop tabletop and RPG games for Power Rangers, Transformers, My Little Pony. The partnership is an extension of one already in place that witnessed the development of the Power Rangers: Heroes of the Grid tactical miniatures board game back in 2018. The project was first initiated by Saban – the owner of the Power Rangers IP at the time – but was taken over by Hasbro...

Simba Smoby social media drive proves a success. The team at Simba Smoby Toys UK says it’s made 2020 a ‘pivotal year’ by heightening consumer awareness and loyalty via its UK social media channels, and reaching out to parents through influencers, celebrities and online media. Previously, all social activity was handled through the HQ in France …

WRITERS GEAR UP FOR MATTEL’S ‘HOT WHEELS’ MOVIE. It’s been nearly 20 years since plans for a big-screen Hot Wheels movie were first announced, and now it looks like the wheels are really turning. Following last year’s news that Mattel Films had partnered with Warner Bros. to bring the high-octane adventure to theaters, The Hollywood Reporter (THR) says that the project has a pair of writers that are now in the...

The Walking Dead invades Magic: The Gathering in limited edition Secret Lair monster mash-up. Wizards of the Coast’s globally revered Magic: The Gathering has struck upon a ‘one-of-a-kind crossover with AMC’s The Walking Dead, to bring a super-limited-edition drop to the strategy card gaming franchise called The Walking Dead Secret Lair.

Moose Toys unwraps three new must-have toys ahead of the 2020 holiday season. Ahead of the 2020 holiday season, Moose Toys, an innovative leader in the toy industry, unwraps a trio of new groundbreaking toys: in youth electronics, Squeakee the Balloon Dog and Gotta Go Flamingo, and new fashion doll line FailFix. The lineup appeals to kids of all ages …

Hasbro unveils new toys for Ghostbusters fans including retro Ghostpopper and Ecto-1. Hasbro unveiled two new Ghostbusters toys for fans over the weekend during Hasbro PulseCon. The first toy is the Kenner Classics Ghostpopper. This is a retro blaster toy that fires 6 foam projectiles to help you catch those ghosts.

New GI Joe Retro Collection Has Arrived from Hasbro. Hasbro continues to celebrate the legacy of GI Joe with some new Retro Collection figures. These 3.75-inch figure stays true to that iconic first line of figures but features some new design and detail. Three solo figures were announced and the return of a classic GI Joe vehicle.

Pendragon Game Studio launches 'The Thing - The Boardgame' Kickstarter. Pendragon Game Studios launched The Thing - The Boardgame, a hidden role game based on the John Carpenter's The Thing movie series, which is scheduled to be delivered in December 2021. In The Thing - The Boardgame, players take on the roles of protagonists from the film's Outpost 31 as they try to discover which characters have been...

Wizkids bares 'Fangs and Talons' For 'Icons of the Realms'. D&D Icons of the Realms:  Fangs and Talons will be the fifteenth set in the popular series of pre-painted miniatures from WizKids when it releases in December, alongside the Purple Worm Premium Set. Like earlier sets in the series, Fangs and Talons will include a variety of creatures and foes designed for use with the Dungeons & Dragons game

Hasbro unveils Mandalorian Haslab crowdsourcing project. More than two years after launching its HasLab crowdsourcing platform, Hasbro Pulse is bringing Star Wars back into the fold. At the first-ever Hasbro PulseCon, members of the Hasbro Star Wars design team unveiled plans to create one of the biggest Star Wars vehicles ever released: the Razor Crest.

Nintendo’s Animal Crossing amiibo cards will be back in stores this November. Nintendo is reprinting its Animal Crossing amiibo cards, and they’ll be available in “select retailers” this November, the company announced today. The cards are worth collecting not just because they’re cute representations of the many adorable creatures in the series — they’re also one of the most efficient ways to fill your Animal Crossing...

E-commerce platform Kooomo enters nursery and toy market with Kaliedy. The global e-commerce platform, Kooomo is diving into the nursery and toy market with the launch of Kaliedy, a new online retail space developed for parents and families in Ireland looking for baby essentials, nursery items, toys, and books. Not only does Kaliedy boast to be build upon over 95 years of experience in the baby industry...

The Lakes Monopoly edition summer launch proves a success for Winning Moves. An official Monopoly edition based on The Lakes, produced by Winning Moves UK under the official licence from Hasbro, has proved all the rage and is slated to be a popular choice this Christmas. The game hit the shops in the early summer during lockdown and now the game has gone on a second print run, with a third not being ruled out.

'Quicksilver' bolts into 'Marvel Champions: Card Game'. Fantasy Flight Games revealed Quicksilver Hero Pack and Quicksilver Game Mat, for use with Marvel Champions: Card Game, to release into stores in December. There’s no one faster on the planet than Quicksilver, and this expansion features the speedy hero along with Protection aspect cards.

Cmon announces 'The Last Of Us: The Board Game'. CMON has reached a licensing deal with Sony Interactive Entertainment to produce The Last of Us: The Board Game, based on the video game series. The Last of Us is a post-apocalyptic survival horror game developed by Naughty Dog and released in 2013, followed by The Last of Us Part II earlier this year.

'Sanctuary Guard Dragon' offers 'Valiant Sanctuary' for 'Cardfight!! Vanguard'. Valiant Sanctuary features new cards to support "Sanctuary Guard" decks, including "Sanctuary Guard Dragon".  The set features 5 types of new cards (14 pieces total), including four Grade 1, four Grade 2, four Grade 3, one Grade 0, and an exclusive Quick Shield.  The Quick Shield can be used with any clan.

Mantic Games unveils 'Kings Of War: War In The Holds - Two Player Starter Set'. Mantic Games unveiled Kings of War: War in the Holds – Two Player Starter Set, an introductory set for the Kings of War miniatures game, for release in October. This two-player starter set is meant for new players and features battles between the goblins and the Ratkin. 

Mantic Games announces two goblin armies for 'Kings Of War'. Mantic Games announced Goblin Army 2020 and Goblin Mega Army 2020, for use with Kings of War miniatures game, which will release on October 26. The Kings of War goblin armies are made up of a ragtag group of scattered clans from across that land which can be assembled under the loose leadership of a goblin king.

Games Workshop unveils 'Battlezone: Manufactorum - Vertigus'. Games Workshop unveiled The Battlezone: Manufactorum - Vertigus, a new battlefield terrain set for Warhammer 40,000, for release on October 3. The Battlezone: Manufactorum – Vertigus adds two gaming boards to Warhammer 40K battles, and is meant to help games be more thematic and immersive.

Wizards of the Coast bans a card only a few days after a major 'Magic: the Gathering' set release. Wizards of the Coast updated its Magic: The Gathering Banned and Restricted Lists on September 28 by banning Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath in Standard.

The shuffle continues for WotC as they once again need to ban a card in the Standard only a few days after the release of a new set …

RNIB and Lego partner on UK distribution of Braille Bricks toolkits. The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has partnered with the Lego Foundation to bring Braille Bricks to visually impaired children. The bricks help children with vision impairment develop tactile skills and learn the Braille system.

L.O.L. Surprise! Remix pop-ups launch at Selfridges and Harrods. Pop-up shops will appear in Harrods' toy department until 2nd November, and Selfridges London, Manchester and Birmingham until 18th December. MGA Entertainment has launched a major takeover of the Selfridges and Harrods’ toy departments, with pop-up shops celebrating the new L.O.L. Surprise! Remix range.

Spin Master unboxes Present Pets. Spin Master is unleashing Present Pets puppies, an innovative new line of interactive pets that unbox themselves. The new brand is inspired by the classic dream of kids being gifted a puppy in a bow-topped box. Present Pets have already secured a spot on the Toy Insider’s legendary Hot 20 list and will be available in North America in limited supply beginning Oct. 1.

Gamelyn Games brings back 'Dragonland'. Gamelyn Games announced that they will release a new edition of Dragonland, a family board game by Reiner Knizia, on October 6. Dragonland was first published in Germany by Ravensburger and then by Rio Grande Games, but now, Gamelyn has picked it up for a new, updated edition.

'Vampire: the Masquerade - Vendetta'. Luma Imports will release Vampire: The Masquerade - Vendetta, a deduction game by Horrible Guild, in Q1 2021. Vampire: The Masquerade - Vendetta is a competitive card game of strategy and deduction.  Players take roles as leaders of one of the Camarilla clans of Chicago as they try to seize control of the city.

Hasbro is bringing ZOIDS toys back. Hasbro is bringing Zoids toys back! AHHHH!!!! I’m so excited for this, guys. I still need to watch the latest series, Zoids Wild, but I’ve always loved this franchise and I’m glad it’s making a comeback in the United States …

Crayola’s best-selling kids’ face masks now in Halloween styles. Crayola’s colorful kids' face masks have been a popular choice for kids and adults alike. And now, the arts and crafts brand has launched a new line just in time for the spookiest of holidays.

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

Xbox Game Pass is getting EA Play games on November 10th. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers will get access to EA Play just in time for Microsoft’s next-gen console launch. EA Play is arriving on Xbox Game Pass Ultimate on November 10th, the same day that Microsoft launches both the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S consoles.

Pokémon Sword and Shield expansion, The Crown Tundra, launches October 22nd. The second Pokémon Sword and Shield expansion, The Crown Tundra, is coming to Nintendo Switch on October 22nd. Game Freak announced the news today during a Nintendo Direct. The Crown Tundra takes players to a snowy new location in-game and introduces additional story content, as well as new Galarian forms of pokémon...

The US Navy paid $2m to marketing company to assist with foray into esports. The United States Navy paid marketing and communications firm Young & Rubicam $2 million to help it with its foray into esports, according to a Vice report. This included creating landing pages for articles and sponsored content, facilitating Navy content on esports pages …

SEGA launches esports project for 'Virtua Fighter'. Virtua Fighter fans will be delighted to learn that SEGA is now reviving the beloved fighter franchise, breathing new life into it through tapping into Esports. The announcement came in the form of a new trailer showcasing footage of competitive gaming scenes and a small snippet of new cinematics.

Rocket League tops 1 million concurrent players after free-to-play switch. Rocket League has topped 1 million concurrent players one day after going free-to-play. Psyonix studio co-head Corey Davis announced the milestone on Twitter on September 24, just one day after the vehicular soccer sim made the free-to-play shift on September 23.

Zynga to sunset FarmVille after 11 years. Zynga will shut down the original FarmVille at the end of 2020, due in part to Facebook dropping support for Flash games. FarmVille players will be able to continue making in-app purchases until November 17. After that, the game's payment system will no longer function.

EA under fire for promoting FIFA loot boxes in toy catalogue. Electronic Arts publisher faces criticism for promoting FIFA's in-game purchases in a children's toys catalogue. VGC reports the publication in question is the latest in-store magazine from UK retailer Smyths Toys, which featured an advertisement for FIFA 21 centred around the Ultimate Team mode.

Amazon is muscling into cloud gaming with Luna. Amazon's push into the world of game-making and game distribution continues apace. Today the company announced Amazon Luna, a new service that uses AWS game servers to allow players to stream games for instant play on Amazon-friendly devices.

How Amazon’s Luna cloud gaming service compares to Stadia, xCloud, and GeForce Now. Amazon has just taken the wraps off its long-rumored Amazon Luna, meaning the company is officially jumping into the cloud gaming ring - one that has become increasingly crowded over the past year. Google launched Stadia last November, Nvidia’s GeForce Now left beta in February, and Microsoft’s cloud gaming offering...

 

Toy Safety and Counterfeit Related Articles . . . 

Mum's bath toy warning after little boy almost blinded in terrifying incident. Eden Strong said her little boy Baylor squirted himself in the eye with the little bath toy, and at first she didn't think much of it. But soon his eye grew to "twice the size" and the redness started spreading down his cheek. "His eye was so swollen that the white part was bulging out from between his eyelid and his iris was being obscured," Eden...

Toy safety: Commission consults on limiting aniline in toys. The Commission launched a public consultation on limiting values for aniline in toys in order to enhance the protection of children's health. Aniline, which may be bound to colorants in toy materials, such as textiles or leather, is suspected to cause cancer and induce heritable mutations in the germ cells of humans.

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Press Releases . . .

ELENCO LAUNCHES SNAP CIRCUITS® MyHOME. Designed to make learning electricity relevant and fun for kids everywhere! Elenco, maker of the award-winning Snap Circuits® line of educational circuit-building toys, announces the launch of Snap Circuits® MyHome. For nearly 20 years, Snap Circuits® has been the “go-to” toy for learning electronics. Now, Snap Circuits® expands its fanbase with MyHome...

FROM STOCKHOLM WITH LOVE: GET READY FOR KIDS TO CUDDLE WITH TEDDYKOMPANIET CHERISHED TOYS. Importer TriAction Toys Brings Cozy Cat, Cow and Elephant Themed Pals To American Nurseries Without Fiddling With The Krona Exchange Rate. Say hallå to the Scandinavian line of soft toys known as Teddykompaniet. For a quarter of a century this family-run business has been adored in Europe with the instantly recognizable characters guaranteed to bring a smile and an ahhh. Teddykompaniet toys are cherished for quality, safety and a high coziness factor. For the first time, TriAction Toys is importing this popular European brand to American audiences with distribution specifically focused on independent toy stores and specialty retailers.

Skyler Innovations and University Games are coming together to deliver the next best party game for adults, Judge Your ‘Friends’. Skyler Innovations’ first game that stormed the market was Watch Ya’ Mouth - the authentic mouthpiece party game with more than 2 million games sold worldwide. Skyler Innovations has since expanded its inventors’ team to the small circle of creative employees who helped make Watch...

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

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

L.A. COMIC-CON WILL TAKE PLACE IN DECEMBER AS AN IN-PERSON EVENTWill Be First In-Person Convention Held in California Since the Start of COVID-19 Pandemic. os Angeles Comic-Con announced that it plans to hold its annual convention on December 11 to 13 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The convention was originally scheduled to take place in October.

SPIELWARENMESSE 2021 POSTPONED TO SUMMER. Spielwarenmesse 2021, which would have taken place from Jan. 27-31, has been postponed to the summer due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The international toy show, one of the first to kick off toy fair season, has been called off due to rising coronavirus infection rates worldwide and further restrictions on travel, which would have put the health of its exhibitors and...

50 standout indie games nominated in this year's IndieCade Awards. The folks at IndieCade have announced the finalists for this year’s IndieCade awards, ultimately selecting 50 of the games submitted to the now-digital event for consideration in this year’s awards show. As with IndieCade itself, the awards aim to celebrate the innovation and future of games being developed in the indie space.

Hasbro, Chicco, and Learning Resources among TIE’s Play for Change awards finalists. Hasbro, Chicco, Clementoni, and Learning Resources have been named among the nine finalists for the inaugural Play for Change awards, an initiative developed by Toy Industries of Europe to celebrate and champion the companies and products fueling changes in sustainability, and encouraging children’s future skills.

DreamToys 2020: Date confirmed for all digital event. The DreamToys committee and the Toy Retailers Association have confirmed the new date of this year’s all-virtual DreamToys event as October 28th, a date that coincides with the October half term. Organised by the Toy Retailers Association, DreamToys is billed as ‘the most authoritative predictive list of what will be the hottest products this Christmas.’

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Top Stories from Trade Magazines Worldwide this Week . . .

Adventure Media & Events (US)

aNb Media's (US)

Toyworld (UK) 

1.           When the going gets tough …it’s the Friday Blog!

2.            January Hong Kong trip in jeopardy as travel restrictions and quarantine measures expanded

3.            Smyths Toys cancels traditional Christmas promotional event in UK & Ireland

4.            Rosie Marshall to head up plaY-room

5.            Rubie’s close to finalising agreement to come out of Chapter 11

6.            Smyths Toys’ winter catalogue launches this week

7.            Hamleys opens new store at Liverpool One

8.           Delayed Amazon Prime Day now tipped to launch in October

9.            Messe Frankfurt postpones early Q1 trade shows

10.          Retail leader warns of huge changes in retail landscape

 

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

  1.  'HeroQuest's' Return Teased by Hasbro
  2.  Bandai Revives 'Digimon'
  3.  Decorate the 'Dungeons & Dragons' Trophy Room with Cursed Artifacts
  4.  'HeroQuest' Makes Its Triumphant Return to the Tabletop
  5.  'Zendikar Rising' Release Status Impacted Further By 'Magic: The Gathering' Production Delays
  6.  Rolling For Initiative -- Exploring The Possibilities After Avalon Hill's Move to Hasbro
  7.  In Quick Surrender, Cards Against Humanity Sells Chicago Board Game Café
  8.  'Magic: The Gathering' Release Calendar for 2020/2021
  9.  Amazon Is Opening 1,000 U.S. Delivery Hubs to Compete with Walmart
10.  Funko Will Release 'Disney's Haunted Mansion: Call of the Spirits Game' Into Retail

TOYS Magazine (Germany) - posted once a month 

Toy & Hobby (Australia)

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

Video of the Week

I never tire of watching this short film! Here's the story...

"Taking Flight is a Academy Award winning short film inspired by the life and heritage of Antonio Pasin, inventor of the Radio Flyer wagon.

In this fictional tribute to Pasin’s legacy, what begins as a small boy’s over-scheduled, over supervised, boring day with Grandpa turns into a larger-than-life journey, narrowly escaping wild monkeys and battling aliens to save the universe.

Through the power of imagination and epic adventure, a boy learns to be a kid, a father learns to be a dad, and a grandfather reminds us all what childhood is about."

 

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

 

Founding Editor and Publisher (1998-2020, Retired): Philip Bloom

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

and we've loved working with him. Here is a fun and interesting interview with Phil.

If you would like to reach Philphilip.bloom100@verizon.net   

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

Managing Editor: Graeme Thomson

Assistant Editor: Patrick Fisher