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Welcome to Your Weekly News Brief!

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Happy Bloomin' Friday! 

The biggest buzz at the Licensing Show was not about a license, but that Greg Ahearn was named President and CEO of the Toy Association. I’m super excited as well! On a recent zoom, he shared a few of his ideas and a bit of his vision with me. He’s got what it takes to get us where we need to go and then some. It is the dawn of TA2.0.

 

I’ll be at DISTOY in London next week. Hope to see many of you at our POP Pub Event. RSVP HERE!  Thank you to our generous sponsors showcased on the invitation and hats off to the DISTOY Pub Committee: Lizzy MoodyEleanor BlackHannah Palfrey and yours truly

 

A few weeks ago. I offered to refund your tBR subscriptions, no questions asked, if you didn’t think this video was one of the best industry feel good videos you've seen. No one has asked to date and the offer stands!

​Thank you for reading the Bloom Report here or on the Bloom Report 24/7 News FeedPlease support our work by advertising and/or setting up a POP profile.

Mary

  • "Congratulations on the outstanding job that you and your team are doing on producing The Bloom Report. It seems like it is getting better and better almost every week!!! Bravo!!!" -Ron Cantor, Rainbow Concepts, Inc.

  • If you are tired of these quotes, send me yours! 

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(POP's Julia deKorte) Thanks for taking the time to speak with me Mark! Let's get right into it... Why and how did you get into the toy industry?

I always loved toys, since I was a kid, and I have always wanted to be in the toy industry, but it’s very hard to get into it. It’s very closed, and sometimes secretive. So my way, finally, to get into it, was through my experience in video games. Hasbro was looking to get into video games, so they thought I would be a benefit to them.

 

What are your roles and responsibilities in the toy industry?

When I started at Hasbro, I started in research and development. It was a group of experienced toy creators and developers that worked with various teams at Hasbro as well as concepts that they came up with themselves. So that was a great start.

 

After a few years, that group broke up and people kind of dispersed into different areas. A few of us hung together, and one of my bosses started a group at Hasbro called CakeMix, which was an internal video production house. Matthew Malone, who was really an inspirational mentor to me, said, “Why don’t we do this on the inside, and save money, and be able to be present all the time when we’re making these videos or commercials and creating maybe even animations that could turn into television shows?” So, I was part of that group.

 

And then my boss, Matthew, he said, “You’ve got to create your own future!” Which is really rare, in any company, for a boss to say, “Find a place! Find something!”    READ MORE...

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Person of Week - Christian Braun: The Top 7 Mistakes Collectible Brands Make (and how you can avoid them)

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Over the years, collectors have always been a part of history. When the Franklin Mint was created in the 1960s, modern collectibles came onto the scene with a whole different set of characteristics including becoming fully dependent on the Franklin Mint for sales. Over the past few decades, the success of collectible brands has become dependent on a number of factors. And if not adhered to, it can lead to a Brand or even a business closing down as seen with Beanie Babies, David Winter Cottages, Herpa Miniaturmodelle, and even with Franklin Mint. 

 

At hobbyDB, our 690,000 Members have already added 53 million Collectibles to their collections. It is from my experience with our Community and my own studies in the Subject of Collectability including more than 20,000 conversations with collectors from postcards, model cars, action figures, corkscrews, and more that I have been able to distill 7 Must-Have Tenets that will keep your brand collectible.

One of the biggest mistakes that collectible brands can make is if they stop paying attention to the secondary markets. When it comes to purchasing patterns, buying a Hot Wheels Mainline for $1 requires no explanation. However, spending more than $10 for a “toy” like some of Mattel Creations' limited edition Hot Wheels that cost around $30, or the Transformer that just dropped for $80 needs further justification. Even more so for say a $1,200 Sideshow Collectibles statue.  The consumer must be able to tell themselves, and/or their better half...  READ MORE...

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Cartoon Lovers, Lexophiles & People in Need of a Smile! 

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Cartoon of the Week: Thank you, Boaz Coster, for the funny cartoon this week! 

Paraprosdokian Lovers:  "What do you call a bee that can’t make up its mind? A maybe."

Memorable Quotes:  "Throw yourself into your passion. It will pay off eventually. It always pays off eventually." -Andrew Perlmutter, 2023 POP Inventor Pitch & Innovation Conference Keynote

Toy Industry Word of Day:  Bring Out Your Dead  If you can think of a toy/game industry word not in our POPDictionary, add it and we will connect it to you POP profile, feature it here in an upcoming week and on POP's homepage! 

Have a cartoon, quote or a joke to share with your colleagues? Send it to me!  Mary

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Financial and Legal

 

Smart Toys and Games acquires Wow Toys. The Wow Toys team will operate as part of Smart Toys and Games UK as the brand benefits from the int'l sales opportunities that come with the Smart brand. Leading Belgian puzzles and games company Smart Toys and Games has announced the acquisition of Wow Toys company and welcomes the Wow Toys brand and team to the growing Smart family. Wow Toys, founded in 1996 by...

 

Epic Storyworlds has inked a deal to acquire Québec-based game developer Frima’s catalogue of more than 20 popular gaming titles, including a 14-year-old educational preschool brand called Cosmo Camp that it’s putting into development as a TV series. Established in 2003, Frima has largely focused on producing multi-platform games for console, web and smartphone apps, as well as dabbling in...

 

IGN Entertainment announced that it has acquired a handful of ReedPop's Gamer Network's digital brands as well as other assets. This deal represents a further consolidation of games news companies into even larger news conglomerates. The digital brands acquired as part of this sale included the following publications: GamesIndustry.biz, Eurogamer, Rock Paper Shotgun, VG247, and Dicebreaker. IGN also acquired...

Anton Capital Ent, the UK indie producer behind Paddington 2, A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon and HBO fantasy series His Dark Materials, has just locked down US$108 mill in investment funding to finance the production of new films and TV series. NY-based BlackRock—which managed a whopping US$10 trillion in assets in 2023—led the investment push and sees a lot of potential in the TV and film sector...

 

Nintendo buys Switch port studio Shiver Entertainment from Embracer. Nintendo has purchased Florida-based studio Shiver Entertainment from Embracer Group for an undisclosed fee. Shiver was formed in 2012 and is known for porting triple-A releases like Hogwarts Legacy and Mortal Kombat 1 to Nintendo Switch. Nintendo said it aims to secure "high-level resources for porting and developing software titles"...

Keywords wants shareholders to accept £2.2 billion buyout offer. Swedish investment company EQT Group has tabled a cash offer of £25.5 ($32.4) per share to acquire Keywords Studios. The Financial Times reports the overall deal would value Keywords at £2.2 billion ($2.8 billion). Keywords is a global service provider for the video game industry. 

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Visit the York-Jersey Underwriters website at www.toy-insurance.com

Financial Reporting

 

Target reported US$24.1 billion in Q1 sales, representing a 3.7% decline from the same period last year (US$24.9 billion). And revenue was down 3.1% to US$24.53 billion.  Operating income hit US$1.32 billion (a 2.4% drop from last year), but net earnings for the quarter are only down slightly (0.8%) from US$950 million in Q1 2023 to US$942 million this year. Meanwhile, same-day services posted a healthy 9% increase...

 

VTech Announces FY2024 Annual Results. Group revenue declined by 4.3% to US$2,145.7 million. Gross profit margin improved from 28.3% to 29.6%. Profit attributable to shareholders of the Company rose by 11.7% to US$166.6 million.

Take-Two narrows GTA VI release window, records $3.74 billion annual loss

Former Embracer COO: Asmodee can handle its €900 million debt. Saber Interactive CEO Matt Karch seems hopeful that Asmodee can shoulder the debt needed to save its former parent company.

 

Trends, Lists, Market Research, and State of the Industry

Gamers Are Becoming Less Interested in Games With Deep Strategy, Study Finds

 

APRIL 2024 CIRCANA BOOKSCAN - TOP 20 AUTHOR, MANGA, SUPERHERO GRAPHIC NOVELS

Global sales of licensed merchandise and services reached a groundbreaking $356.5 billion in 2023, a 4.6% increase compared to 2022.

 

Not Your Grandparents’ Mahjong Table. Green Tile Social Club hosted its first tournament, where a younger generation gathered to play an old game and meet new friends.

Asia’s ‘kidults’ redefine market for toys and games, from mini models to K-pop collectibles

Toyjobs has been the dominant recruiting

Stories, Comments, and Advice

John Baulch, Toy World, Après le déluge… it’s the Friday Blog! While our sales director Mark has been doing his best to soldier on through the 30-degree heat in Las Vegas at the Licensing Show, I’ve been in Harrogate for the Toymaster May Show – and it is one of the few Toymaster Shows I can remember where it has rained so persistently and so heavily. The challenge in the marquees this year wasn’t to avoid passing out in the heat,

 

The Disruption Report: Tariffs & Toy History by Christopher Byrne. The Biden administration’s announcement of new tariffs on Chinese EVs and component parts last week reawakens the issue of protective trade policies. The goal is to protect the growing EV business in the United States and protect it from what the administration has expressed is unfair competition from overseas.

 

TikTok tests 60-minute video uploads as it continues to take on YouTube. The feature is available to a limited group of users in select markets, and TikTok says it doesn’t have any immediate plans to make the feature available widely. The feature, which was first spotted by social media consultant Matt Navarra, marks a shift from TikTok’s original format. The app allowed users to upload 15-second videos at launch, but...

 

Scrabble, Anonymous. This morning, before breakfast, I played nineteen games of Scrabble on my phone. I won 13. It took less than an hour. Over the past 25 years, I’ve played Scrabble every day, predominantly on ISC.RO, a website hosted in Romania that allows for games that are no longer than 3 mins. On my phone, I use the Scrabble app and play a bot set to “expert.” I had meant to play only 2 or 3 games today, but...

Glenn Waller, digital manager at Generation Media, looks at how online spaces such as Roblox and Fortnight are commercially available to advertisers. Glenn examined how brands looking to reach kids in the ever growing gaming space can take advantage of opportunities while maintaining brand safety and compliance. It’s no secret that the popularity of gaming has skyrocketed amongst kids in recent years, and 2023...

Influencers select top 25 toys of spring & summer. From outdoor water play and active toys to creative art kits and family games for rainy days, 25 of the hottest toys and games of the season as voted on by top-tier toy and family content creators were unveiled today just in time for Memorial Day weekend. 

 

Rev up the sales with 10 new automotive & motorsports-inspired toys and collectibles for summer. The Toy Book‘s 2024 Licensing & Entertainment issue just dropped and our annual look at new licensed Automotive- and Motorsports-inspired toys and collectibles is here! This year’s roundup contains toys and collectibles that are sure to rev-up excitement for gearheads and racers of all ages. 

 

Stock this! 16 hot licensed toys, games, and more: An assortment of new products that retailers should have on their radar. Licensed products are hot, hot, hot, and from our 2024 Licensing & Entertainment issue of The Toy Book comes a range of 16 new toys, games, and adjacent products that retailers should have on their radar to delight customers in the months ahead.

 

 

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History and Nostalgia

 

7 of the Most Valuable Power Rangers Toys From the ‘90s. These old collectibles could morph your savings account into something much bigger than you ever expected. Power Rangers lasted for 30 years across several networks and streaming services—including Fox, ABC, The CW, Nickelodeon, and Netflix—but if you’re a child of the ’90s, chances are that’s the era of the series that you know and love best.

 

Knock Out from Milton Bradley (1978). Released in 1978, Milton Bradley’s Knock Out challenged players to outwit and outflank their opponent by placing “stoppers” in a hexagonal grid. To set up the game, the plastic grid was inserted into its stand and placed between two players. Forty playing pieces, a.k.a. stoppers, were evenly distributed.

Suckerman from Mattel (1978). Released by Mattel in 1978, Suckerman was a pliable vinyl toy that stuck to surfaces, providing opportunities for play and surprises around the house. The toy resembled an amphibious humanoid with a series of suction cups placed over its body. The suction cups allowed the toy to stick to surfaces but also to itself, allowing kids to contort the creature before throwing it. 

 

Lewis Galoob Toys Catalogue (1967). In 1967, San Francisco-based Lewis Galoob Toys continued establishing a foothold in the toy industry. This catalogue from the period reflected an eclectic mix of toys for boys and girls. Highlights amidst the lines of dolls, space toys, cars, and trucks included remote control vehicles, futuristic space guns, walking robots, and plush animals. 

 

Golferino from Hubley (1962). Released in 1962 by Hubley, Golferino was a 9-hole tabletop miniature golf course molded in high-impact plastic. Players took turns directing Mr. Golferino and pressing the control button to hit the ball. Each hole had its own hazards and different par. Sinking the steel ball in the ninth hole caused a bell to ring and a gold-coloured loving cup to pop up. 

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Licensing and Entertainment 

Mattel and Hasbro partner on Hot Wheels Transformers range. One of a number of new product drops in honour of Transformers’ 40th anniversary, the new partnership between Mattel and Hasbro sees Optimus Prime immortalised in Hot Wheels form. Mattel and Hasbro have announced they they are joining forces once again to roll out a brand-new Hot Wheels Transformers line. 

 

BBC Studios is expanding Bluey’s global licensing program in a big way, signing new deals with more than 40 partners around the world, and renewing key US/Canada partnerships with Spin Master, Horizon Group and Jay Franco. TOMY International will also expand its Bluey line with a pop-up game for global distribution outside of Asia.

Barbie celebrates role-model athletes who have broken boundaries to encourage girls to stay in sports and recognize their full potential. Mattel, Inc. announced today, in continued celebration of Barbie’s 65th anniversary, the brand will honor nine athletes around the world – including American Professional Tennis Player and icon Venus Williams – with one-of-a-kind role model dolls made in their likeness.

‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ win consumers’ hearts for 40 years. Paramount Global is investing in the development of new content for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. TMNT is not just celebrating the anniversary through apparel and home décor. It is also creating new gaming content that tells original stories about the Turtles. The new video game, “Mutants Unleashed,” from Outright Games is an expansion...

 

Established just a few weeks ago by 3 seasoned industry execs, a brand-new toyco called Kidazzle has won the master toy license for Lion Forge Ent’s animated series Iyanu, which is set to premiere on Cartoon Network and Max in 2025. The Florida-based company will manufacture and distribute dolls, action figures, playsets and accessories based on the comic book adaptation about a Nigerian teenager...

 

French studio Xilam Animation is starting production on its latest 2D-animated series Submarine Jim on the heels of inking presales with France Télévisions (France) and Super RTL (Germany). This quirky adventure toon for the six to nine demo stars a young dolphin who’s part of a motley crew of sea creatures operating the world’s first submarine on wheels. They navigate both land and sea on an epic quest to find the...

 

Rebel Girls is still months away from the release of its first fiction book, but Lion Forge Entertainment has already locked it up for a screen adaptation. At the heart of the deal is a new coming-of-age fantasy book series called Secret Society of Rebel Girls—marking a key departure for the publisher from its biography genre focus. 

 

Uplift Games has teamed up with toyco WowWee to launch the first physical products based on its super-popular Adopt Me! Roblox game. The companies will release a range of Fingerlings—robotic toys that wrap around a finger and react to touch and motion—featuring a selection of the game’s 400-plus collectible animals. WowWee’s Adopt Me! x Fingerlings line will launch in North America this August...

 

LA-based MGA Entertainment has appointed Nelvana Enterprises to serve as its licensing agent in Canada, providing regional consumer products, marketing and retail support (excluding toys) for brands including L.O.L. Surprise!, Bratz, Rainbow High, Little Tikes and Miniverse. These MGA franchises have already built up strong sales and engagement, buoyed by a dual appeal to kids and kidults. 

 

Paris Hilton’s media and lifestyle shingle 11:11 Media is developing a new animated series with Canada’s 9 Story Media Group and LA-based HappyNest Entertainment featuring canine characters inspired by her real-life pets. Creative details are still in the works, but the team is planning to roll out a package of Paris & Pups digital shorts first, followed by a longer-format series. 9 Story will lead production...

Aardman is expanding into the FAST market to reach US audiences, with a new Shaun the Sheep & Friends channel available now on Comcast-owned Xumo Play in the US and expanding to VIZIO WatchFree+ and Samsung TV Plus soon. Featuring episodes from proprietary Aardman series including Shaun the Sheep, Timmy Time and Morph, the channel also run third-party shows distributed by the studio...

 

With Wicked‘s theatrical release still six months away, Universal Products & Experiences has inked licensing deals with roughly 90 lead partners for a global fall program spanning categories including toys, apparel, collectibles and lifestyle products. Mattel and LEGO are on board as master toy partners, with support in the category from Hasbro, Jazwares and Spin Master. Harper Collins and Random House will take the...

 

Prime Video’s German series Maxton Hall – The World Between Us has been handed a swift recommission after becoming the streamer’s most-watched international show of all time in its first week. The YA series about a British boarding school from UFA Fiction “achieved the largest first week global viewership for an International Original in Prime Video history,” the streamer said today upon the Season 2 greenlight.

 

Nickelodeon Studios has ordered a new live-action spinoff based on The Thundermans, which aired for four seasons on Nickelodeon from 2013 to 2018, and then connected with a new streaming audience on Netflix and Apple TV+. The as-yet-untitled series will continue the story of a family of superheroes who have to hide their powers while simultaneously battling villains in their hometown. 

Moonbug Entertainment, part of Candle Media, has announced a year-long celebration for the 10th anniversary of the Blippi franchise. Moonbug is marking the anniversary year with new consumer products partnerships, exciting new content and guest appearances, as well as new live shows and meet and greets.

CBC Kids is accelerating a new preschool series called Go Togo (27 x five minutes) for a fall launch. Created by Toronto-based Gazelle Automations co-founders Justin and Lindsay Lee (the married couple behind TVOKids series Miikshi), the concept brings together public transit vehicles and early math concepts. 

Konami partners with Landoll Publishing, Nelson Publishing for new Yu-Gi-Oh! books. Konami Cross Media NY has entered into two new publishing deals for the Yu-Gi-Oh! brand. Landoll Publishing and Nelson Publishing will both release new Yu-Gi-Oh! books. Landoll Publishing has partnered with Konami for an array of Yu-Gi-Oh!-inspired books and other products, including coloring books, storybooks..

 

Scottgames names Jazwares master toy and plush licensee for ‘Five Nights at Freddy’s’. Jazwares and Scottgames have inked a licensing agreement to create a toy collection inspired by the video game and film franchise Five Nights at Freddy’s. Jazwares’ Five Nights at Freddy’s collection will include action figures, playsets, plush, pet toys, collectibles, and more. 

 

Universal expands ‘Gabby’s Dollhouse’ with new toys, merchandise. A Gabby’s Dollhouse stage show is also launching next year. Universal Products & Experiences will release new toys, merchandise, and experiences inspired by Gabby’s Dollhouse over the next year. The DreamWorks animated series is headed to theaters in 2025 with Gabby’s Dollhouse: The Movie and a new stage show. 

 

Wondery Kids expands Tinkercast’s ‘Wow in the World’ podcast with new products: Tonies and Goliath are joining Thames & Kosmos as licensees. Wow in the World is an educational podcast created by Tinkercast, designed to be enjoyed by kids as well as their guardians. Hosted by Guy Raz and Mindy Thomas, each episode covers new stories in the world of science and technology. 

 

UEFA Euro 2024 adventure comes to Piñata Smashlings. Toikido, is thrilled to be teaming up with UEFA to bring the excitement of UEFA Euro 2024 to its popular Roblox game, Piñata Smashlings. The collaboration introduces official mascot Albärt and the Euro 2024 Football Island to the incredible world of Piñata Smashlings as a special event from May 15th through to July 14th, offering an immersive...

Universal Pictures’ ‘Wicked’ secures new licensing deals ahead of release. Wicked has an impressive licensing lineup in toys, costumes, role play, publishing, stationery, and collectibles. Master partners LEGO and Mattel are joined by Bitty Boomers, Build-A-Bear, Chasing Fireflies, Disguise, Fisher-Price, Funko, Hallmark, Harper Collins, Hasbro, Hunter Leisure, Insight Editions, JAKKS Pacific, Jazwares, Kid Designs..

 

Skybound Entertainment expands ‘Invincible’ licensing program: New tabletop games, collectibles, and more will feature ‘Invincible’ characters. Skybound Entertainment, the company behind franchises such as The Walking Dead and Impact Winter, is expanding its licensing program for Invincible. 

 

Sharpe Matrix brings Super Impulse’s Zumbies to Licensing Expo: The creepy cute collectible string dolls will launch this fall. Licensing Expo is just around the corner, with doors to the trade show opening tomorrow. The event is expected to give attendees a look at numerous product previews, including the launch of a new offering from Super Impulse: The Zumbies. 

 

Hasbro to unveil new collabs for MLP, Transformers, more at Licensing Expo. Hasbro is kicking off the show with reveals for some of its top brands, including My Little Pony, Transformers, Peppa Pig, and more. For North America, Hasbro has inked a licensing agreement with Tara Toy for Furby-themed arts and crafts kits that come with paints, pompoms, jewelry, and more. 

Level up sales with 10 new video game-inspired toys & collectibles. These are some of the hottest licensed video game-inspired toys and collectibles of 2024. The Toy Book‘s 2024 Licensing & Entertainment issue just dropped and our annual look at new Video Game-inspired licensed toys and collectibles is here! 

 

Disney launches new products celebrating Donald Duck’s 90th anniversary. Disney is celebrating a fan-favorite character with a full lineup of new product releases. Almost as well-known as Mickey Mouse himself, the iconic Disney character Donald Duck is turning 90 this year. To celebrate, Disney has an impressive portfolio of products available through Disney Store as well as licensing partners. 

 

Jakks Pacific announces deal for Dav Pikey’s ‘Dog Man’. Product release will coincide with the release of the “Dog Man” film. Jakks Pacific and its costume division, Disguise, have partnered with Dav Pilkey to create a line of toys and costumes based on Pilkey’s Dog Man graphic novel series and the upcoming “Dog Man” theatrical release from DreamWorks Animation and Universal Pictures. 

 

Godzilla: Celebrating 70 years of big monster energy. The King of the Monsters is bigger than ever! In 1954, there was a radioactive footprint in a tiny Japanese village. Scientists and the residents investigated and couldn’t come up with an explanation. Then, over the top of a hill appeared the King of the Monsters, Godzilla, and a pop culture icon was born. 

 

Bonkers Toys inks licensing agreement with Invisible Narratives for ‘Skibidi Toilet’. The toy collection will launch this fall. Bonkers Toys is entering a worldwide, multiyear licensing deal with Invisible Narratives to create a line of toys for the YouTube series Skibidi Toilet. Skibidi Toilet was created by Alexey Gerasimov (also known as Boom). 

 

Rainbow Studios names Playmates Toys, Giochi Preziosi as master toy partners for new ‘Winx Club’ series. Rainbow Studios is preparing to release a Winx Club reboot, and named Playmates Toys and Giochi Preziosi as its master toy partners. Playmates Toys and Giochi Preziosi will share the global distribution of new fashion dolls, accessories, role-play toys, and playsets. 

 

McFarlane Toys, Viz Media sign licensing agreement for ‘Bleach’ collectibles. McFarlane Toys has entered into a new licensing agreement with Viz Media, a producer of manga and anime. This collaboration is the start of a new era as McFarlane Toys broadens its horizons, venturing into the world of anime collectibles with the Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War series. 

Cobi to produce Volkswagen models. Cobi is proud to announce the signing of the prestigious licensing agreement with the German automotive giant Volkswagen. Automotive and construction brick enthusiasts will now be able to enjoy new, realistic models of Volkswagen cars. The agreement has enabled Cobi to create detailed and lifelike reproductions of classic and modern Volkswagen models in miniature size.

 

Black Sky Creative, Moonbug to open CoComelon playdate at Mall of America: The family entertainment center will open this winter. Black Sky Creative, an entertainment provider, and Moonbug Entertainment, a kids entertainment company, are partnering to launch CoComelon Playdate, a family entertainment experience.

 

Disney Lorcana: Ursula’s Return enjoys high profile launch. The fourth installment of the popular Disney Lorcana trading card game is titled Ursula’s Return and will be available at mass retail at the end of this month. On Friday the 17th of May, fans of Disney Lorcana gathered outside The Disney Store on Oxford Street in London for the release of Disney Lorcana: Ursula’s Return. 

 

Games Workshop unveils new 'The Lord of the Rings' board game, 'LotR: Quest to Mount Doom'. Games Workshop unveiled The Lord of the Rings: Quest to Mount Doom, a new Middle-Earth adventure game, which will be on preorder May 25, 2024.Players can relive the adventures of Frodo, Sam, and their friends as they attempt to destroy the One Ring. 

 

'LOTR: The Rings of Power' S2, 'Dune: Prophecy' trailers; 'Spider-Man Noir' gets series order; 'Tomb Raider' series; Edgar Wright on new 'Barbarella'. Geek Showbiz Round-Up. It was a big week for showbiz news, and we round it up here. Prime Video has released an official teaser trailer for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Season 2.  In Season 2, Sauron has returned and is rebuilding his strength...

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People of Play


The Executive Who Revived Barbie Has a New Long-Shot Mission: Save Gap. CEO Richard Dickson is trying to make the clothing company cool again—one hoodie at a time. Gap Inc.’s new CEO was on the hunt for a hoodie. In March, he called one of his stores and got a recording, which reeled off the location and hours, but didn’t provide an option to connect with a human being. 

Chris Byrne talks to Denis Crushell, chief commercial officer of London-Based Precise TV  about his company, the power of contextual advertising for the current toy industry, and how to set your digital strategy to reach kids successfully.

Underscore Talent sets up a STEM division under David Seelos. The digital talent management house is looking to bring kid-friendly creators focused on STEM, learning and education under its umbrella.  To meet a growing demand for educational content from the digital creator space, LA-based agency Underscore Talent has set up a STEM, learning and education division, tapping David Seelos to run it. 

 

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Companies and Brands

 

Toy World’s popular contributor Rick Derr has spent weeks providing behind-the-scenes coverage of the much-anticipated new store, which enjoyed its grand opening on 17th May. One of the first new openings for Learning Express since the pandemic, the new store has taken a whole year to go from idea to reality, a process Toy World contributor Rick Derr has detailed in his June Letter from America.

 

The long-expected layoffs at Pixar Animation Studios have begun. Today, leadership at the storied company that traces it origins to the late Steve Jobs and was bought by Disney in 2006 will notify employees of the reductions, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. It is the biggest restructuring in Pixar’s history, although top leadership isn’t impacted. Approx. 14 percent of Pixar’s workforce, or around 175 employees...

 

Fabacus, a pioneering data-as-a-service technology company specialising in licensing and retail, has announced its agreement with Hasbro. The collaboration sees Hasbro adopting Fabacus’ cutting-edge technology, Xelacore, to enhance its data management capabilities worldwide, starting with a phased regional rollout across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The strategic integration of Fabacus’s Xelacore...

Playtime PR rolled out the libraries initiative in the spring which saw 1,100 games delivered to 100 libraries across the nation. In keeping with Playtime’s motto of ‘making lives more playful’, the non-commercial initiative is designed to increase access to games for local communities.

The initiative, which aims to increase access to play for local communities through their libraries, will see a further 1,000 games delivered...

The Toy Network showed off a soft launch of the 4M brand at ToyFest in Las Vegas in March. “As a leading global science brand, 4M is an ideal fit with our Toy Network product line, our sales organization, and our green initiatives,” says Bob Nowak, Founder of The Toy Network.

A full launch of the agreement will be on display at the ASTRA Marketplace and Academy show next month in St. Louis, Missouri. 

Dungeons & Dragons Vecna: Eve of Ruin is out now. Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast have released Dungeons & Dragons Vecna: Eve of Ruin, as the notorious lich aims to eliminate good, obliterate the gods and subjugate all worlds. In this high-stakes adventure for characters level 10-20, Dungeon Masters and players will have the ability to unlock their full potential and travel through memorable locations...

 

Hello Kitty turns 50! The pop-culture icon turns 50 this year and Sanrio has lots in store for fans including products, in-person activations, digital experiences, and more. Since her debut, Hello Kitty has connected generations of people all over the world and encouraged fans of all ages to express themselves authentically. 

 

ZURU unveils Hug-A-Lumps weighted plush. Following the brand’s launch of Snackles and Rainbocorns, ZURU is continuing its expansion into the plush category with Hug-A-Lumps. Hug-A-Lumps are plush toys that weigh 3.3 pounds and have tactile features for sensory play. Designed for kids ages 3 and up, there are eight plush in the collection, including Dino, Duck, Pug, Kitten, Crocodile, Sloth, Goose...

 

Five decades, one iconic smile: Playmobil launches 50th anniversary sets and continues sustainability efforts. It’s a milestone year for one of the most iconic staples of toy boxes and playrooms around the world. The Horst Brandstätter Group’s Playmobil is celebrating 50 years of fun with a fresh lineup of immersive playsets, licensed collaborations, and continued efforts in sustainability. 

 

SmartGames reveals travel friendly LogiBugs. SmartGames has revealed its latest one-player game, LogiBugs, a compact magnetic game to play whilst on the move. SmartGames‘s latest travel game LogiBugs has 48 challenges to keep players entertained for hours. Players must place the three spotted ladybug families in their correct spots, in numerical order. 

 

Draw upon 'The Deck of Many Drinks' for a good time at the inn. Adam's Media will release Dungeonmeister: The Deck of Many Drinks, an RPG cocktail recipe deck, into retail on May 28, 2024. This new deck allows RPG fans to add a little mixology to their tabletop experience.  The Deck of Many Drinks, by Jef Aldrich and Jon Taylor, includes 50 RPG-inspired cocktails, each which is paired with a 5E compatible in-game effect. 

'SLay The Spire' heads to retail: New cooperative deckbuilding game based on video game series. Contention Games will release Slay the Spire, a new cooperative deckbuilding game, into retail on July 25, 2024. Slay the Spire, designed by Gary Dworetsky, Anthony Giovannetti, and Casey Yano, raised $3,939,337 from 29,661 backers on Kickstarter recently (about $133 per backer), and is now ready to head to stores.

 

AEG will release 'Nocturne' into retail. Alderac Entertainment Group will release Nocturne, a new spatial bidding and set collection game by Flatout Games, into retail on September 13, 2024. In Nocturne, designed by David Iezzi with art by Beth Sobel, players take on the roles of a fox mystic who is competing against their rivals to collect enchanted items.  

 

Build an interstellar business with 'Star Tycoon': New engine building board game by Good Games Publishing. Good Games Publishing will release Star Tycoon, a new engine building board game, into retail on May 29, 2024. In this game, designed by Peter and Alkira Sanderson, players take charge of an interstellar business. 

 

Funforge's 'Far Cry: Escape from Rook Islands' to trade: Video game-based board game. Funforge's Far Cry: Escape from Rook Islands, based on the Ubisoft video game series, will be released to trade this summer.  The video game series includes six mainline games, a standalone expansion, and several spin-offs, released beginning in 2004.  

 

Portal Games will release 'Robinson Crusoe' collector's edition. Portal Games will release Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island - Collector's Edition, a special edition of the classic board game, into North American markets in June 2024. This classic game first arrived in NA markets via Z-Man Games in 2013. 

 

Another cute furry animal game - 'Super Kawaii Pets'. The emphasis is on “cute” in the latest announcement of an upcoming game in the “inexpensive games with cute furry animals” genre: Super Kawaii Pets.  The upcoming card game from Arcane Wonders features art in the kawaii style, from the Japanese genre of cuteness.  

 

Explore the Kitakami Region in the next 'Pokemon TCG' set. The Pokemon Company International unveiled Scarlet & Violet - Shrouded Fable, the next booster set for Pokemon TCG, which will hit stores on August 2, 2024. The new set explores the landlocked region of Kitakami further. There, players can find a malevolent presence as Pecharunt ex makes its debut.

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Gaming: Digital, Video, Hardware, and Development

 

Rolling Stone is expanding its coverage of the video game industry with the launch of a dedicated gaming vertical. The new section has been launched in partnership with ESL FACEIT Group and will be helmed by senior gaming editor Christopher Cruz. The media co. said it will report on the world of video games with a "hyperfocus on art, technology, and cultural impact." "Gaming isn't informed by pop culture; it is pop...

 

Mattel has teamed up with Outright Games in the UK to make kids video games based on some of its most iconic toy brands. The first three console/PC titles lined up to come out of this multi-year partnership before year’s end are Matchbox Driving Adventures, Monster High: Skulltimate Secrets and Barbie Project Friendship.

 

PlayStation London has officially shut down. Today, May 21, is the last day for SingStar creator PlayStation London. In a final farewell on Twitter, the developer (also known as London Studio) thanked everyone for the "wild and wonderful journey." Sony announced the developer's closure as part of its layoffs and project cancellations back in February. 

Amazon Games opens Bucharest studio to support development and publishing ambitions. Amazon Games has opened a new studio in Bucharest, Romania, to support its growing portfolio. The company underlined its commitment to developing and publishing games, and said its latest studio will support current and future projects. 

Little Kitty, Big City tops 1 million players on Xbox Game Pass. Little Kitty, Big City has attracted over 1 million players through Xbox Game Pass alone. The news comes straight from developer Double Dagger, which shared the milestone on X. Xbox Game Pass players don't translate to copies sold, but it's interesting to hear just how many people have been accessing the indie adventure through Microsoft's...

Phoenix Labs lays off staff, cancels games in major restructuring. Phoenix Labs appears to be executing another round of layoffs, eliminating what may be over 100 employees. Former employees on LinkedIn are reporting the loss of their jobs and stating that all projects in development have been cancelled. The co. said this restructuring is a "last restore to ensure Phoenix Labs can survive and thrive in the long...

 

Palia studio Singularity 6 confirms 36 workers have been laid off. Singularity 6 has told Game Developer it has laid off 36 staffers to navigate through a "tough economic period." The studio said it will continue supporting Palia following the job cuts. The news comes after the developer reportedly laid off 49 workers in April, with further staff allegedly leaving after that round as well.

Formula E and UEFA get into Roblox with kids entertainment partners. Net-zero racing team Envision and football league UEFA are respectively teaming up with Cartoon Network and Toikido to reach kid gamers on the popular platform. Envision Racing—a world champion net-zero team on the Formula E circuit for electric cars that built the world’s first fully drivable race car made entirely of e-waste—has partnered...

 

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Highlighted Press Releases

HERE’S THE STORY: DISCOVER MAGICAL AUDIO MOMENTS AT ABC KIDS EXPO® BOOTH 571 (SCREEN FREE!)  Storypod Has The A For Audio, B For Bedtime Bliss And C For Curated Content At THE Trade Show For The Juvenile Products Industry. The hunt is on in Las Vegas from May 15 to 17 to uncover something so special for tots that customers will say thank you! We know the story (https://www.storypod.com/pages/reviews) and have the happy ending from thousands of consumers! Discover Storypod at Booth 571 at ABC Kids Expo®. Here specialty retailers, sales reps and baby store owners can play with the palm-size wonder that engages kids with multisensory stories, music, and skill-building at every stage...

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Safety and Counterfeiting

 

New EU rules on toy safety move a step closer. The Council of the EU has adopted its position (negotiating mandate) on the toy safety regulation that updates the rules to protect children from risks related to the use of toys. While the current legislation makes EU toy safety rules among the strictest in the world, the proposed legislation aims to increase protection from harmful chemicals (e.g. endocrine disruptors)...

Bill aims to ban potentially hazardous water beads sold as children's toys. The colorful products were linked to nearly 7,000 emergency room visits from 2018 to 2022. Water beads are colorful and squishy, so they’re often sold as children’s toys or sensory tools. But they can easily scatter across a home and become hidden in carpets or other areas.

Associations, Shows, Awards, Events, and Festivals

 

Licensing International elected six new executives to serve three-year terms on its Board of Directors, effective July 1. The newly elected executives include Mandy Bardisbanian of Striker Entertainment, Michelle McLaughlin of Brand Activation Consulting, David Niggli of FAO Schwarz, Josh Romm of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Jenn Strehle of H&M, and Ned Ward of Walmart. 

Toymaster May Show 2024 ended with the highly anticipated Awards Dinner, an evening of celebration and recognition that pays homage to individuals from across the whole toy sector who have, in some way, gone above and beyond for the Toymaster buying group. Opening the awards presentations, Toymaster managing director Yogi Parmar praised the Toymaster family and took the opportunity to...

The British Toy & Hobby Association made the presentation to Jon Ward of Epoch Making Toys at the Toymaster evening dinner last night. The award was presented to Jon by British Toy & Hobby Association chairman, Simon Pilkington, on behalf of the BTHA at the Toymaster Show, surrounded by colleagues and friends past and present, who had gathered to celebrate the final night of the Toymaster show...

Kicking off a busy Licensing Expo week, the 2024 Licensing International Excellence Awards honored top kids brands such as Bluey, Barbie, Peanuts and Moomin at last night’s annual awards ceremony. A field of 197 finalists were competing in 32 categories, after making the cut from more than 800 submissions received this year. Bluey emerged victorious in the Best Licensed Animated Brand category, beating...

 

The Toy Association Protects Industry Interests During California EPR Program Rulemaking. A coalition group organized by the California Chamber of Commerce, of which The Toy Association is a member, submitted comments to the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery regarding California’s SB 54, the largest comprehensive packaging EPR (extended producer responsibility) program in the country. 

 

Toymaster May Show 2024 kicks offThe beloved Toymaster May Show opens its doors today at The Majestic Hotel, Harrogate, with indies and suppliers from across the country gathering to both network and let their hair down. Taking place until 23rd May at the beautiful Majestic Hotel, the sold-out Toymaster May Show kicks off today. 

The Game Manufacturers Association Board of Directors recently elected its four officers for the 2024-25 business year, yielding a historic moment in the organizations’ history. Women currently hold all four leadership roles for the first time in the organization’s history. Nicole Brady is the newest president of the organization. She had served as the board’s treasurer since the end of 2022, after her...

On the 25th anniversary year of SpongeBob SquarePants, SpongeBob himself (voiced by Tom Kenny) and Patrick Star (voiced by Bill Fagerbakke) will host the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards 2024. The slime-filled, immersive broadcast will air live from the pair’s undersea home of Bikini Bottom on Sat., July 13, 8 pm ET/(PT) on Nick. This marks the first time the animated characters will host a full-length awards show.

The Museum of the Moving Image will honor Rosie Perez, Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz and former AMC Networks CEO Josh Sapan at its 2024 Spring Moving Image Awards benefit. Kreiz is the chairman and CEO of Mattel, the toy and family entertainment company behind iconic brands like Barbie and Hot Wheels. Prior to his time at Mattel, Kreiz was chairman and CEO of shortform video company Maker Studios and...

Playtime PR achieved recognition at the 2024 Inspiring Workplaces Awards in two categories. The agency, which specialises in playful communications, ranked 38th in the UK & Ireland Top 50 Inspiring Workplaces and secured 4th place in the Small Business category, highlighting its workplace culture and commitment to its team.

 

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RIP - Rest in Play - Remembering Those that have Passed

If you know of a colleague's passing, please send us information so we may share with our readers. Archives can be found HERE

 

Clive WoosterToy World is very sad to report that Clive Wooster passed away unexpectedly at home on Saturday, 18th May, with his beloved wife Heather by his side.

Friend and colleague, Nikki Jeffery, shared that Clive Ralph Wooster, who passed away at the age of 69, dedicated his entire career to the toy industry, beginning at Fisher Price where he spent several years honing his skills – and sales patter. His career saw him taking on various influential roles in sales. In the 90s, Clive ran The First Years until RC2/Learning Curve acquired it in 2004, when he became managing director. He continued to lead during periods of significant change and oversaw the European transition into Tomy when it acquired RC2 in 2011.

Clive later chose to join smaller, close-knit companies, enjoying many fulfilling years as a country manager for Famosa and more recently, working with Geomagworld. In January this year, he decided to step back to spend more time with his family and further pursue his passion for motor racing.

Well-known within the industry for his kindness, humour and endless stories, Clive’s presence ensured that any room was filled with laughter and conversation. He was approachable and always willing to help. Clive inspired many through his mentorship and formed strong relationships with colleagues across the companies he worked for over the years. Many from his First Years and RC2 days remained close friends and will miss him dearly.

 

Salvatore Anthony Mucaro of Fernandina Beach FL passed away peacefully on May 16, 2024, leaving behind a legacy of love, strength, and cherished memories. Salvatore was born in The Bronx, NY to Nicola Mucciacciaro and Christina Mucciacciaro (Nee DiMangano) on December 13th, 1934. He was the middle child of the family, and loved his two siblings, older sister Maria (McGuckin)and younger brother Mario Mucaro and their families dearly. Some of Salvatore's favorite childhood hobbies included building balsa wood model airplanes, playing street hockey and stick ball and racing pigeons. 

Salvatore worked in the toy industry from 1967 until his semi-retirement in 2010. He worked for such noteworthy companies as Remco Toys, Aurora Products Corporation, Mego Toy Corp., Ideal Toy Corp. and Coleco Toys, before starting his own development company Studio Geppetto with longtime friend and coworker John MacNett. He has several toy design patents and designed several successful toys in his long career as a package designer and toy designer. 

 

Shelly Morick - former Mattel sales executive. December 21st, 1937 - May 7th, 2024.

Worldwide Magazines Weekly Top Stories

Some Added Friday Morning Chicago Time. Check Back for Complete Lists.

 

Toy Trade Monthly Issues​​​​​

Adventure Media & Events (US)

aNb Media (US) 

 

Toyworld (UK)

  1. The calm before the storm … it’s the Friday Blog!

  2. Mattel and Hasbro partner on Hot Wheels Transformers range

  3. Toymaster May Show 2024 kicks off

  4. The Toy Association names new president & CEO

  5. Obituary: Clive Wooster

  6. Bruno Gallone honoured with Toymaster Special Recognition Award

  7. Toymaster Awards Dinner sees industry stalwarts recognised

  8. BTHA presents Golden Teddy to Epoch’s Jon Ward

  9. Jazwares named master toy licensee for Five Nights at Freddy’s

  10. Learning Express opens new store in Naperville, Illinois

Licensing.biz Powered by Toyworld

  1. Zuru takes over Fuggler plush licensing rights from Addo Play

  2. Adopt Me! x Fingerlings partnership to unleash physical pets

  3. Former senior director at Paramount in search for new role

  4. Squishmallows boosts EMEA licensing programme

  5. Libertas Brands reveals agency reps for Fuggler

  6. Hasbro shares vast portfolio at Las Vegas Licensing Expo

  7. New Beyblade X Series previews at Licensing Expo

  8. The Elf on the Shelf and Piñata Smashlings team up on Roblox

  9. Moonbug celebrates ten years of Blippi with new collaborations

  10. Jazwares named master toy licensee for Five Nights at Freddy’s

ICv2: The Business of Geek Culture (US) 

Beadle & Grimm's Will Release 'Magic: The Gathering - Bloomburrow Token Set'
Games Workshop Unveils New 'The Lord of the Rings' Board Game
'Magic: The Gathering Companion Plush Charms'
Embracer Writes Down Asmodee and Dark Horse
FanRoll Unveils 'Pathfinder: Dice-Gobblin' Goblin Plush Bag'
'BattleTech: Salvage Box Urban Mech' Heads to Retail
Wizards of the Coast Offers New Deets on 'Magic: The Gathering' 'Modern Horizons 3'
GameStop Begins Buying High Grade PSA 'Pokemon,' 'Magic: The Gathering,' and 'Yu-Gi-Oh!' Cards
'Star Trek: Star Realms' Hits Preorder
heo Group Acquires PBM Express B.V.

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

Global Toy News

The Bugg Report (Australia)

The Toy Universe (Australia)

hobbyDB

Casual Game Revolution

Video of the Week 

This week on Toy Hub Trivia, Jordan Goddard! Jordan sits down with the Toy Hub to answer some tough questions involving the toy industry.

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"I highly recommend that if anyone in this industry wants to be found, they join POP and fill out the skills and expertise section of their POP Profiles. I've had companies and a major media network reach out to me for a show based on my skills and expertise."

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

 

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

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

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

If you would like to reach Phil: philip.bloom100@verizon.net   

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

Managing Editor: Graeme Thomson

Assistant Editor: Patrick Fisher

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

Do you have news to share? Send us a note! mary@chitag.com 

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