November 24 - December 2, 2022
Welcome to Your Weekly News Brief!
Happy Festive Friday!
The photo to the right shows the pure joy and happiness kids have at our Chicago Toy & Game Fair !t is Just a week from now! Exhibit, attend, meet your consumers (biggest focus group in the wild), learn and have fun! It's not too late either - join us!
Part of our Fair is our Play in Education (PIE) Conference where Rachele Harmuth, Head of ThinkFun, will be banging the drums for MESH. If you haven't heard the drums yet, you need to tune in! If you don't know what MESH is, you REALLY need to tune in!
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Columnist - Nancy Zwiers
Out of Breakdowns Come Breakthroughs
I learned this phrase during my entrepreneurial training and have found it a source of strength and optimism ever since. Every situation that I labelled “bad” ended up ushering in my greater good.
This column shares a few personal examples of how some of my breakthroughs came from setbacks, but more importantly, it is designed to help you access the origins of your own breakthroughs born out of setbacks in a way that empowers you to ride out the bad times with hope for something better.
A Breakdown in Health
My brush with mortality in 2011, in the form of a breast cancer diagnosis, was terrible in so many ways. It laid me low and even resulted in mental health issues, which I self-diagnosed as PTSD. And yet, as I reflect back on that time, I see very clearly that I grew in invaluable new ways. I finally gave up trying to be perfect; I no longer wanted to feel like superwoman. Through the pain and fear, I was finally able to let go, embrace my human foibles/flaws, and finally fully love myself—just the way I was and was not. Not only did this allow me to access greater peace of mind and well-being, just as importantly, I became able to accept and love others more fully—just the way they were. What a gift!
Industry Commentary - Rachele Harmuth, Thinkfun
The Head of ThinkFun, Dives Into Parents and Educators Top Concern
Kids are struggling with their mental health and parents are worried. This is the consensus of conversations that have been happening around the country between multitudes of retailers and parents. Rachele Harmuth, the new Head of ThinkFun, heard this consistently as she and her team were researching what were the primary needs of the current marketplace. “Clearly there is a major unmet need around kid’s mental health that is consuming parents and educators. They were turning to toy retailers for help, but beyond toys that provide comfort like stuffed animals and fidgets retailers weren’t sure what to suggest. It isn’t currently clear what products would build mental health skills for the future. We knew we needed to really dig in and understand the situation.” Rachele Harmuth
The statistics are truly concerning. For example, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than a third of children had “persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness” in 2022. Further, 71% of parents believe that the pandemic has taken a toll on their child’s mental health. Parents are spending increasing time and resources trying to figure out if their kids are ok, and working to protect them. And, according to a report from the National Association of Mental Illness, 89% of parents are more concerned about their child’s mental health than their academic achievement.
Brand of the Week - Spaghetteez!
CLICS Toys is Serving Spaghetteez!
Imagine naming toys for over three decades, hundreds of styles, multiple brands and the words just roll off your tongue. Then one day, your new creation sits there, and the words don’t come. Finally, your team decides upon a dinner together. Italian cuisine it is. What to order? Just the right dish to support the perfect word for a product line many deem, “nothing like it in the market,” Spaghetteez was served!
Taurus Blooms LLC President, Jean Butler, recently launched the brand on QVC. “This product, when people get it in their hands, provides key elements of meaningful play.” The 3D design creations are limitless with the soft building sticks. There are seven different lengths, a variety of primary colors, and accessory pieces. Spaghetteez allow you to twist them into many configurations. “What can be created is based on your imagination. You want a yellow giraffe or a green, blue and red giraffe, you can make it. A duck with giant eagles wings, a car, boat, dinosaur, house,” added Butler. “It is therapeutic, people don’t want to put the building sticks down. They are smooth to the touch, and you can really shape them in any way you think of. It is truly an enjoyable play experience for the whole family!”
The Spaghetteez line currently consists of six sets, ranging from 35 to 160 pieces. Sets include accessory pieces which allow for connection and extension. Several of the sets have wheels which provide movement of creations. In addition, Spaghetteez has received STEM.org accreditation after meeting all of the requisite standards. READ MORE...
People of the Week - Dan Klitsner and Alicia Alexander
Encouraging All to Bop It For Good
For Bop It! Inventor Dan Klitsner and his wife Alicia this Thanksgiving holds special meaning. Not only are they celebrating the 25th anniversary of Bop It!, they are also celebrating the launch of Bop It For Good, a new initiative to give back.
“25 years later, I’m still in a bit of shock about how Bop It! and subsequent sequels continue to be so popular,” says Dan. “Giving back has always been important to us, but we wanted to do it in a more meaningful way in gratitude for all of the success, and that’s why we created Bop It For Good.”
At the center of Bop It For Good is Dan’s latest invention, the Bop It Button, which he developed independently over the last year with Super Impulse and Longshore. He calls this game the most challenging, most addictive and most devious Bop It he’s ever created. The Bop It Button is just one button, and like all Bop Its, you just do what it says. Easy, right? Well, don’t be fooled. The Bop It Button includes a variety of intentionally confusing options such as “Bop It,” “Don’t Bop It,” “Do Bop It” and “Do Not Bop It” spoken lightning fast and in multiple voices that are a confluence of Bop It voices from the past. Focus long enough, you just might make it through all 25 levels and unlock all of the hidden audio clips, and get a personal message from the inventor himself. But, upholding true Bop It tradition, if you mess up, be ready for a little sarcastic name-calling. Read More...
Financial and Legal
The Walt Disney Co. has officially acquired 100 percent of BAMTech, the streaming video technology company that it acquired majority ownership of in 2017 from Major League Baseball. According to a footnote in the company’s annual report, which it filed Tuesday, Disney paid Major League Baseball $900 million for its 15 percent stake in the company, now known as “Disney Streaming,” earlier in November.
WildBrain has acquired Ukrainian success story Brave Bunnies, a 2D-animated preschool series that currently airs in more than 80 territories around the world. Coming on board as a co-producer for season two, WildBrain will air the show in Canada on its Family Jr. linear net. And the company’s CPLG team has also taken on worldwide licensing and merchandising for the IP.
This Nerf Blaster Battle Is Being Fought In The Courts And Toy Aisles. Toy giant HasbroHAS +1.1% is in a blaster battle with a scrappy toy startup that says it won’t give up without a fight. The startup, Austin, TX-based Gel Blaster, Inc., could prove to have more ammunition for the battle than Hasbro expected.
Paramount TV Studios and CBS Studios are the latest Hollywood entities to be hit with layoffs. According to sources, Paramount has let go under 30 people as a result of the layoffs. Most of those are at Paramount TV Studios and CBS Studios, with some CBS employees also affected. Most of the layoffs are in the business affairs, casting, production, and legal departments. There have also been a small number of layoffs...
After announcing the departure of CEO Christina Spade, AMC Networks chairman James Dolan sent a memo to staff warning the company was planning to make "large scale" layoffs and other cuts to operations. In his memo Dolan cited the difficulties faced by the pay-TV industry and the fact that streaming has not yet replaced the revenues being lost by the traditional cable networks that make up the...
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Trends, Market Research, and State of the Industry
***The above posted after December 2nd***
Geek Showbiz Round-Up - 'BLACK PANTHER' WINS 3RD WEEKEND; 'AVATAR' TRAILERS; 'BLADE' MOVIE REJUVENATED; HARRISON FORD GETS YOUNGER FOR 'INDY 5'; NEW 'DOCTOR WHO' COMPANION; SECOND 'DUNE: SISTERHOOD' SHOWRUNNER EXITS
Searches for Black Friday discounts on Walmart surged 386% year over year, leapfrogging rival retailer Amazon, which last year ranked first in Captify’s survey of most searched retailers on Black Friday. This year, the world’s largest e-commerce company ranked fourth, behind Target and Kohl’s, respectively.
Stories, Comments, and Advice
Oxford Word of the Year 2022 - Golblin Mode. The public has spoken! After opening the choice of Word of the Year up to English speakers for the first time in its history, over the last two weeks more than 300,000 people cast their vote. The Oxford Word of the Year is a word or expression reflecting the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the past twelve months, one that has potential as a term of lasting cultural significance.
***the above posted after December 2nd***
John Baulch, Toy World - Better late than never …it’s the Friday Blog! A couple of weeks ago, I posted what I realised at the time was potentially a risky Blog. It was written as a response to a series of conversations which suggested to me that with some companies, confidence was wilting faster than Qatar’s dreams of getting a point at the World Cup. It struck me that some were on the verge of writing 2022...
Across the U.S., Thanksgiving leftovers are lingering in refrigerators as families return to the daily grind of work and school. At retail, the messes of the big weekend are getting cleaned up as analysts and pundits — including yours truly —are trying to make sense of the latest data in a season of duality. Mixed messages are a fact of life these days and the annual holiday rush has certainly not been immune to the phenomenon. Depending on the source, either business is booming or the stores are empty. And, in this case, both can be true.
Fatherhood changes men’s brains, according to before-and-after MRI scans. The time fathers devote to child care every week has tripled over the past 50 years in the United States. The increase in fathers’ involvement in child rearing is even steeper in countries that have expanded paid paternity leave or created incentives for fathers to take leave, such as Germany, Spain, Sweden and Iceland. And a growing body of research finds that children with engaged fathers do better on a range of outcomes, including physical health and cognitive performance.
Did Denmark just kick Mickey Mouse out of its house? It appears so. Public broadcaster DR has announced a major kids strategy shift today, trading in its pipeline of Disney content for Danish and Nordic animated projects. The channel’s 30-year-old Disney Fun programming block will be replaced on DR1 with a new one-hour block called FridayTamTam. And because it’s no longer tied to a rights deal, ...
Where Does All the Cardboard Come From? Entire forests and enormous factories running 24/7 can barely keep up with demand. This is how the cardboard economy works. Before it was the cardboard on your doorstep, it was coarse brown paper, and before it was paper, it was a river of hot pulp, and before it was a river, it was a tree. Probably a Pinus taeda, or loblolly pine, a slender conifer native to the SE United States.
Every country's favorite toys. Gone are the days of writing Christmas lists by hand. With the internet enabled on seemingly every device, kids only need to take to Google to track down the exact URL of their desired toy in time for Santa’s visit — and let’s be honest, they’re probably better at it than grown-ups. Toys aren’t just for kids, though: one study found that 58% of adults in the U.S. have bought a toy for themselves.
Video games for dogs aim to help aging canine brains. A U.K.-based startup called Joipaw is serious about making video games for dogs.
Why it matters: What might sound like a joke is actually a project that could have health benefits for dogs’ brains. What’s happening: Joipaw’s games, which are still being prototyped, run on a custom saliva-resistant touch-screen console that the canine competitors play with their snouts.
Top 10 tips for bringing your board game to market. There are 3 recurring interactions many board games professionals have with the broader public when it comes to board games: Firstly, board games make a comeback (every Christmas!) if you listen to lazy journalists. Secondly, when you mention that you work in the world of board games some people ask: ‘does anyone still buy board games anymore’ ...
French luxury brand Balenciaga apologized for its advertising campaign that showed two young children posing with bears wearing BDSM-style harnesses and featured court documents that mentioned “virtual child porn.” Balenciaga says it’s investigating how ads featuring “unsettling documents” became part of a campaign involving children.
History and Nostalgia
Who first thought of Matchbox Cars? In 1947, English die casters Leslie Smith and Rodney Smith founded Lesney Products and along with partner Jack Odell, began to make small toys to fill the demand during wartime. In 1952, Odell created the Matchbox car after being inspired by a rule at his daughter’s school that stated students could only bring toys that fit inside a matchbox. So, Odell scaled down Lesney’s road roller...
***The above posted after December 2***
It’s thought that kites first appeared in China around 3,000 years ago. These early versions are thought to have been made of silk and bamboo. The earliest written account of kite flying dates to approximately 200 BC in China, when a Chinese general used a kite to help him determine the distance his troops needed to tunnel in order to get under a city’s walls.
Jewel Magic from Mattel. A 1975 dealer advertisement for Jewel Magic from Mattel. When loaded with beads, the Jewel Magic machine produced “oodles of baubles ‘n bangles” at the turn of its handle. Individual pieces could be linked together, allowing kids to create custom jewelry on the fly. Mattel included 600 beads and 100 links in each box. Refill kits were sold separately.
Star Trek Bird-of-Prey from Playmobil. Last year, Playmobil locked its phasers on adult collectors with the release of its supersized U.S.S. Enterprise playset. For 2022, the company is looking to follow up on that truly impressive, obscenely priced, plaything with a worthy adversary — a brand new Klingon Bird-Of-Prey.
Licensing and Entertainment
Just Play will take on a global master toy licensing agreement with Hasbro for the Easy-Bake brand, with products to launch from 2024. Leading global toy company Just Play has announced a worldwide master toy licensing agreement with Hasbro for its iconic Easy-Bake brand. Just Play’s product line of Easy-Bake ovens, baking sets and accessories is expected to launch at retail in select markets from 2024.
Going back to the princess well that has traditionally been a breeding ground for its blockbuster hits, Disney has commissioned a new musical feature film from director Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham) that will center around an Indian princess protagonist based on a real-life historical figure. The British filmmaker will direct the pic and share a producer credit with Lindy Goldstein (The Nutcracker and ...
Film fans have reacted with glee and excitement to a triple drop of blockbuster trailers that landed last week. Slated to arrive in cinemas in June 2023, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is the seventh movie in the Transformers franchise. Set in 1994, the film introduces a new breed of robots, Maximals, who favour animal shapes as their alternative form. Optimus Primal (Ron Perlman), Airazor, Cheetor and Rhinox unite ....
***The above posted after December 2nd***
NERF’s turning up the heat on social media with two exciting new campaigns. For the first time ever, NERF has entered the NIL space by teaming up with 12 of the nation’s top NCAA athletes for NERF BLITZ! – a fun, two-leg relay race that puts these all-stars to the test, furthering the brand’s expansion into action sports. Competing with the brand’s all-new, hot holiday gift, the NERF Elite 2.0 Motoblitz Blaster, ...
Hasbro partners with Bamboo Bamboo on Peppa Pig tableware. Bamboo Bamboo, the premium sustainable tableware brand, has teamed up with Hasbro to launch the first range of Peppa Pig children’s tableware. Bamboo Bamboo’s products are designed for stylish weaning and have solid suction power for mess-free mealtimes. The new collaboration with Hasbro offers an exclusive bamboo weaning range...
Two legends, Rube Goldberg and Legends of Learning have come together to create a collection of engaging learning games based on the educational principles of Rube Goldberg Machines. Brokered by Brand Central, Rube Goldberg’s exclusive licensing agency, Legends of Learning and Rube Goldberg have partnered to create games that will help students learn about STEM, kinetic energy, and simple machines...
KIDZ BOP, the #1 music brand for kids, and Miko, the AI robot friend loved by millions of kids worldwide, have teamed up this holiday season to bring fans a special festive music video set to KIDZ BOP’s “Underneath the Tree.” Available now on KIDZ BOP’s YouTube Channel, the KIDZ BOP Kids are joined by the Miko 3 Robot showing off its fun AI robot abilities, as they sing and dance together to the KIDZ BOP holiday hit.
Warner Bros. Television Studios is in the process of closing a major animation deal with Amazon for DC-branded content, according to Channing Dungey. Dungey teased the news at Content London, stating that the studio is “exploring animated IP on different platforms,” including WBD-owned HBO Max.
Disney Television Animation has signed a first-look deal with writer Pamela Ribon, who’s co-developing a CG-animated co-viewing sitcom for the media giant with Baobab Studios. Intercats is the first project in Ribon’s Disney pipeline, and it features a group of felines who make viral videos in an effort to become internet-famous. Ribon is writing the scripts for the series, which Baobab co-founder and creative director...
Paramount’s FAST service Pluto TV launched in Canada today through a partnership with Toronto’s Corus Entertainment, and it’s bringing a big offering of kids content to market. The app-based platform for TV, mobile and web includes 13 kids channels featuring content from Corus’s vast programming library. Each channel has a different brand or theme, with some focusing on just a single IP.
Six Playmobil 1.2.3 play sets inspired by Disney’s Mickey and Minnie Mouse, as well as Winnie the Pooh, Tigger and Piglet, will be launched in summer 2023. News announced today has revealed that Playmobil’s toddler product portfolio is to welcome a raft of fan-favourite Disney characters following the inking of a deal between the licensor and the Playmobil 1.2.3 brand.
Tonies has teamed up with Calm, a leading mental health brand and app for Sleep, Meditation and Relaxation, to launch a special edition Creative-Tonie, preloaded with mindfulness activities, breathwork meditations and Sleep Stories, which the team says is perfect for navigating the chaotic countdown to Christmas.
Baby Shark swims into NFTs with Toekenz. Pinkfong's IP will debut as a blockchain-based game on Toekenz's upcoming NFT platform, joining brands from Boat Rocker and Mattel. South Korea’s Pinkfong Company has inked a licensing agreement that will see its flagship Baby Shark IP featured on Toekenz Collectibles’ upcoming platform that gamifies NFTs. Toekenz will develop and introduce a blockchain Baby Shark game...
People of Play
Gibsons is delighted to welcome Matt Smith as the company’s new Operations director, alongside five other new appointments. Matt commences his role in the new year, joining Gibsons from Mattel where he was responsible for overseeing inbound and outbound freight for the EMEA region. He brings extensive supply chain experience from his time at Mattel and previously United Biscuits, as well as from the SME sector.
***The above posted after December 2nd***
In this week’s episode of the “Power Kid Podcast,” host Phil Albritton of Power Kid Design welcomes Jeanie Crone to the show. Crone has a wealth of experience spanning toys, fashion, and education. She previously served as the senior manager of specialty at Schleich, sales manager at Ojo, and Chairman of the Board at the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA).
If you haven’t been watching The Toys That Built America on the History Channel, it’s time to catch up. The show is back in its second season, and this time around The Toy Book’s CEO and Chief Toy Officer Laurie Schacht and Vice President and Group Publisher Jackie Breyer have been providing expert commentary in select episodes. With just two episodes left to go this season, we’re sharing an overview...
Farzana Rahman, founder and CEO of the Desi Doll Company, has won the Businesswoman of the Year Award at the Islam Channel Business Awards. Farzana received the award on Friday 18th November in a ceremony at the Hilton Metropole, London which was hosted by BBC’s Asad Ahmad. The Islam Channel Business Awards was attended by over 1,000 esteemed figures including business leaders, ...
Companies and Brands
Flair’s Messi Training System campaign achieves its goal. The Messi Training System marketing campaign has reached more then 2.2m people and culminated in a meet-and-greet for one young football fan. As Argentina move into the quarter finals of the FIFA World Cup, Flair GP is celebrating a successful year for the Messi Training System range which culminated in a meet-and-greet for one lucky fan.
Amazon is inching closer to launching Prime Gaming, its subscription service that offers free access to a number of titles and which ships bundled with Amazon Prime and Video plans, to its members in India, according to the company’s website. “With Prime Gaming (included with your Prime membership) unlock instant access to tons of exclusive content for your favorite games and a rotating collection...
Creative Kids Group has broadened the scope of its partnership with MGA Entertainment’s Little Tikes brand to bring their line of wooden toys to the UK and Ireland. The two companies teamed up earlier this year to produce and launch a range of wooden kitchens, vehicles, puzzles and early-learning games for kids up to age six in the US and Canada.
With the festive season underway, Zapf Creation, home of leading doll brands Baby Annabell and Baby born is getting into the Christmas spirit with the return of its 12 Days of Christmas campaign. Twelve of Baby Annabell and twelve of Baby born’s biggest influencer fans are helping to spread the Christmas cheer through a consecutive run of festive content to showcase some of the brands much-loved dolls, playsets and accessories
***The above posted after December 2nd***
Kids now have a whole new way to enjoy content from IMC Toys’ entertainment property, Kitoons, as the brand expands into audio offerings! Fans are able to join the popular Cry Babies Magic Tears characters on their adventures through a series of songs and audiobooks for never‐ending fun! Cry Babies Magic Tears are the cute little babies with big personalities. They live in an imaginative world where tears...
It was part pep rally and part therapy session: For 45 mins on Monday, Robert A. Iger stood inside a film soundstage in Burbank, CA, and fielded questions from Disney employees about the company’s dramatic turn from Hollywood juggernaut to streaming-era cautionary tale. Are you going to sell Disney to Apple? Will our hiring freeze remain in place? Do traditional TV businesses like the Disney-owned ABC have a future?
Today, Hape announced its “Unwrap Their Potential” campaign, which shows that the holidays are about kids finding new ways to play and develop useful skills — not just opening presents. The campaign emphasizes creativity and imagination through Hape’s latest products.
There’s a new action figure line hitting the market that pairs ’90s inspiration with some modern flair. 9 to 5 Warriors was created by Brandon Braswell in 2013 around the idea that after workers in an office punch out, the stuff in the office comes punching in. Take elements of Toy Story, sprinkle them with Food Fighters and throw in a dash of Small Soldiers, and you have a general idea.
MGA Entertainment is betting big by going small for its newest launch. The company behind Rainbow High, Little Tikes, and L.O.L. Surprise! is expanding its MGA Miniverse with two foodie-themed offerings: Make It Mini Food Diner Edition and Make It Mini Food Café Edition. MGA’s Miniverse is a pocket-sized collectible brand that launched earlier this year with shrink-ray-zapped versions of its popular toys.
Tytan Tiles, Upexi’s brand of magnetic building tiles has been a hit at Sam’s Club and walmart.com, and now the STEM-based toy will expand to shelves at 2,000 Walmart locations across the country. “Tytan’s launch in 2,000 locations of America’s premier retailer is a milestone for the brand and we anticipate that it will lead to the best year in the brand’s history,” says Upexi’s CEO Allan Marshall.
This Giving Tuesday, CAMP is revealing plans for a massive in-store activation that will also give back. Through a partnership with banking company Ally, the CAMP Hudson Yards store in New York City will host an oversized claw machine next month. Dubbed “The Claw,” this in-store experience will offer a scaled-up version of the classic arcade game with some scaled-up prizes.
Bestway USA’s 129,000 square-foot facility in Chandler, Arizona, turned one this year. On Nov. 29, Bestway and the Chandler Chamber of Commerce had a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the inflatable company’s growing place in the community. Bestway CEO Scott Schellhase says that moving the company to Chandler has benefited both Bestway and the Chandler community.
Jabuka Games, based in Toronto, Canada, has announced that it has appointed Nutt Heads Brands of Plains City, Ohio, USA as its exclusive distribution partner for the Jabuka word game in North America. The game, invented by Martin Russocki, has been growing in popularity since it was first introduced in 2019. It’s a game where letters can be twisted to be used as different letters, and where players play...
MGA Entertainment has announced two never-before seen, innovative collections – Miniverse Make It Mini Food Diner Edition and Make It Mini Food Café Edition. Delivering hands-on fun to make a mini food masterpiece, the new line brings highly detailed, fully functional everyday items into mini form. The company is expecting the new line to grow into its next billion-dollar ball brand.
As The Entertainer starts a new trial partnership in a selection of Tesco branches, Toy World met up with Gary Grant and Mark Campbell to find out more. In 2022, the return to pre-pandemic everyday life glimpsed in the early part of the year has subsequently been derailed by economic turbulence and soaring prices on just about everything. The result, The Entertainer founder and executive chairman Gary Grant ...
Retailers in the U.S. now have access to Happy Line Toys’ glow-in-the-dark plush line, Dream Beams. The range of cuddly plush characters first launched in the UK last year with placement at The Entertainer. Designed to give kids emotional support, more than 30 Dream Beams characters are available in a range of styles for kids to collect.
Beacon Media Group and Flint & Steel have joined forces to spark a new era of creativity. The media and marketing agency teamed up with the creative advertising agency in an effort to expand the net of offerings across both companies. Now, Beacon Media Group and Flint & Steel clients can tap into an extended suite of creative solutions, media, marketing, and communications services.
The Walt Disney Co. celebrated Giving Tuesday by ramping up its commitment to the Marine Toys for Tots program. In honor of Disney’s 75-year collaboration with Toys for Tots and this year’s Disney Ultimate Toy Drive, Mickey and the gang are providing a grant to the foundation that will deliver an additional 75,000 toys to kids in need this holiday season.
Sustainability is on the minds of many consumers, and therefore in the plans of many companies. The toy industry is the most plastic-intensive industry in the world, so efforts to increase recycling and other eco-friendly measures are becoming more and more necessary. Following this trend, VTech and LeapFrog have expanded their relationship with the international recycler TerraCycle to set up toy recycling...
For the 13th consecutive year, Pacers Sports Entertainment and Jakks Pacific are teaming up to distribute toys to kids across the state of Indiana. The mission kicks off Pacers’ annual Season of Giving, delivered by Papa Johns, and incorporates the efforts of almost a hundred organizations in the community.
Hasbro and Paramount Pictures unleashed a first look at director Steven Caple Jr’s Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, the latest live-action film in the long-running franchise. The new film continues the “period” storyline set up in Bumblebee as the Autobots, Decepticons, and Maxmimals face off in a globetrotting adventure in the early 1990s.
DoorDash is delivering toys this holiday season. Spin Master teamed up with the delivery service to offer on-demand delivery of toys and games in a pilot program timed to the season of giving. Under the new deal, DoorDash drivers can deliver a dozen different Spin Master toys, games, and activities to consumers in multiple cities across 20 states.
BBC Studios has sent the Hey Duggee Transforming Duggee Rocket Toy by Golden Bear beyond the Earth’s atmosphere and into space. The Transforming Duggee 2 in 1 Space Rocket Toy is made by Golden Bear Toys, BBC Studios’ master toy partner for Hey Duggee Kids and Family. The toy travelled into space attached to a stratospheric balloon, powered by Hydrogen gas, which is a sustainable alternative to Helium.
Numberblocks has released its very first Christmas song and single, How Many Sleeps ’til Christmas?, with a large proportion of profit going to Children in Need. The Greatest Showman actress and singer Keala Settle will perform in a special festive video on YouTube for the song and Elle Cato, who recently toured with Van Morrison, will lend her voice for the single release
Amazon is looking to make bedtime a more engaging experience. Its new “Create with Alexa” AI feature lets kids craft original 2D-animated stories that can then be played on Amazon’s interactive Echo Show display. To get the storytelling underway, “Alexa” prompts kids ages four to eight to pick a theme, name their characters and give them simple personality traits (like mysterious or silly).
Gaming: Digital, Video, Hardware, and Development
Xbox Game Pass adds Lego Star Wars and a former Switch console exclusive, Xbox Game Pass is getting 11 new games in December, with some out on the platform starting today. The list includes The Game Awards nominated Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga and Eastward, which was previously a console exclusive on Nintendo Switch. Microsoft’s gaming service tends to add two batches of games every month, so this new batch makes up the first half of its December releases.
Sonic Frontiers is getting new playable characters and story content next year. Sega revealed the roadmap of all the new content that’s coming to Sonic Frontiers in 2023. The company shared a graphic on the official Sonic Twitter account on Wednesday, showing three separate updates that will come with new features, modes, character skins, and other exciting new content throughout the year.
Don’t miss these Easter eggs from The Super Mario Bros. Movie’s new trailer. Nintendo and Illumination debuted a second trailer for The Super Mario Bros. Movie, which debuted Anya Taylor-Joy’s Princess Peach and Seth Rogan’s Donkey Kong. It also included way more Easter eggs than the film’s first clip, including references to Mario Kart, Super Mario Bros. 3, and more.
Highlighted Press Releases
OCEAN FRIENDS OCTOPUS, WHALE & DOLPHIN LOOK TO PRESCHOOLERS TO FIGHT PLASTIC POLLUTION. ‘Mission Ocean’ Launches December 1st From Adventerra Games Educational Eco Line Of Board Games That Kids Play, Learn Then Prep To Save The Planet. Boston, MA (December 1, 2022) – We’ve all heard of air and noise pollution. But if our ocean friends could talk, they would sound the alarm for plastic pollution! A new board game, Mission Ocean ($29.99 at https://www.adventerragamesusa.com/), alerts youngsters to the everyday dangers of floating plastic in our waters. The empowering nature of the fun-to-play board game has been endorsed by the global nonprofit, The Ocean Cleanup. With a roll of the wooden dice — made from FSC-certified wood — kids can imagine collecting plastic waste floating in the waves and scooping it up onto their ship.
Safety and Counterfeiting
Associations, Shows, Awards, Events, and Festivals
Each year, the international TrendCommittee for the Spielwarenmesse identifies three ToyTrends that offer guidance to retailers in their range selection. How they scout out these trends is explained in the latest edition of the Spielwarenmesse Podcast. The guests taking part in this latest episode of the podcast are three members of the TrendCommittee: John Baulch, publisher of Toy World Magazine, and two market...
***The above posted after December 2nd***
The 20th Annual Chicago Toy & Game Fair ‘CHITAG’ Resumes In-Person Event on December 10 & 11, 2022. On December 10th and 11th the 2022 Holiday Chicago Toy & Gift Fair (CHITAG), North America’s largest toy & game fair open to the public, will be resuming their annual in-person event after a 2-year hiatus due to COVID. This marks the 20th year for CHITAG, which will take place at a new venue this year: the Donald J. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont (5555 N River Rd Rosemont, IL 60018).
The Toy Authority, the leader in short form video focused on toys, announced today the winners of the 2022 People’s Play Awards. Consumers had cast their votes for their favorite toys across 17 categories helping to create a list of the most-wanted products just in time for the holiday shopping season.
PEOPLE OF PLAY ANNOUNCE THE WINNERS OF THE 17TH ANNUAL YOUNG INVENTOR CHALLENGE. In-Person Judging And The Awards Ceremony Took Place at Radio Flyer Headquarters in Chicago. What do a Flibbertigibbet, Chicken Scratch and a Water Bottle Maze all have in common? They were all among the top place finishers at People of Play’s 17th Annual Young Inventor Challenge (YIC) held on November 19th at Radio Flyer Headquarters in Chicago.
Earlier this month, the toy industry came together in Chicago to celebrate the achievements of 2022. People of Play’s Toy & Game International Excellence Awards (TAGIEs) returned as an in-person event for the first time since 2019. The TAGIEs honored three industry titans with Lifetime Achievement Awards: chairman and CEO of TOMY Kantaro Tomiyama, former Hasbro chairman Alan Hassenfield, and Jenga inventor Leslie Scott.
From 1st to 5th February 2023, the Spielwarenmesse will bring the toy industry back together again, presenting the latest trends, products and topics. As part of the event, the Toy Business Forum will take place in Hall 3A of the Nuremberg Exhibition Centre, offering 18 international speakers with 21 presentations on trends in toys and in retailing, digitalisation, the metaverse and sustainability and diversity.
In February 2023, the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) will be hosting the first-ever Toy Boat industry networking event on a four-day cruise. With the goal of expanding awareness and building relationships, ASTRA welcomes national media and influencers to attend and see the hottest toys firsthand. The current attendee list includes lifestyle online media site Parade as well as a handful of mom and lifestyle influencers with a combined total of over 5 million followers.
The winners of this year’s BAFTA Children & Young People Awards have been announced at a ceremony in London, with BBC shows landing six of the 14 awards and Apple TV+ receiving four. Magic Light Pictures’ The Snail and the Whale (shown on BBC) won the BAFTA for Animation, and Max Lang and Daniel Snaddon were awarded in the Director category. The Snail and the Whale had already been named...
Streamers rule Kidscreen Awards nominations. AppleTV+, Amazon and Sesame Workshop are in the running for a raft of trophies, but no company is up for more than Netflix, which has three noms alone for its hit series Heartstopper. For the third year in a row, Netflix has grabbed the lion’s share of Kidscreen Awards nominations, with a total of 13 shortlisted entries. Nipping at the streamer’s heels is Sesame Workshop...
RIP - Rest in Play - Remembering Those that have Passed
If you know of a colleague's passing, please send us information so we may share with our colleagues. Archives can be found HERE.
Kevin Conroy, the voice actor best known for portraying DC Comics' Batman, passed away from cancer at the age of 66. The news was initially reported via Diane Pershing (the voice actor for Poison Ivy on Batman: The Animated Series), and later corroborated by Warner Bros. Animation.
"Our beloved voice of Batman, Kevin Conroy, died yesterday," reads Pershing's post. "He's been ill for a while but he really put in a lot of time at the cons, to the joy of all of his fans. He will be sorely missed not just by the cast of the series but by his legion of fans all over the world."
Initially an actor for stage and television, Conroy rose to voice acting prominence with 1992's Batman: The Animated Series. That series ran four seasons, but he continued to voice the comic book character throughout its many spinoffs such as Batman Beyond and Justice League.
He would go on to voice Batman in nearly every animated DC project that featured the hero, and even got to play him in live action during the CW's adaptation of Crisis on Infinite Earths in 2019.
Outside of animation, Conroy went on to voice Batman in multiple video games, including Rocksteady's Batman Arkham and Netherrealm's Injustice franchises. His final role as Batman is in Player First Games' MultiVersus. And beyond Batman, his voice acting career included Lords of EverQuest, Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, and Max Payne 2.
In a statement from WB provided to press, Batman voice director Andrea Romano wrote: "Kevin was far more than an actor whom I had the pleasure of casting and directing – he was a dear friend for 30+ years whose kindness and generous spirit knew no boundaries. Kevin’s warm heart, delightfully deep laugh and pure love of life will be with me forever.”
“Kevin was perfection,” continued longtime Joker voice actor Mark Hamill. "I loved him like a brother. He truly cared for the people around him – his decency shone through everything he did. Every time I saw him or spoke with him, my spirits were elevated.”
Conroy is survived by his husband Vaughn C. Williams and siblings Trisha and Tom Conroy.
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News Flash: Cooperative Carcassonne Announced, Castle Panic Second Edition Released
Z-Man Games has announced a new cooperative version of Carcassonne, Fireside Games has released a new edition and expansion for Castle Panic, and Libellud has announced a new family-friendly Mysterium.
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