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February 23 - March 1, 2024

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Welcome to Your Weekly News Brief!

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Happy Bloomin' Friday! 

Mark your calendars! On April 8th, we are hosting a Chicagoland POP Pub Get-Together! All are welcome - Details here. We'll be in San Diego hosting another POP Pub event on March 26th or 27th… Details TBA! Check out our pub events around the world - Click here!

I’m looking forward to seeing many of you at ToyFest in Las Vegas in a couple of days!

The Toy Association will be welcoming everyone in the industry, not just members, to its annual general meeting on Thursday, March 7th at 2pmET via zoom with the passcode 091429. More details below.

​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

  • "I don't know anyone in the industry that doesn't read the Bloom Report." -Ken Lewis, President, 4Kidz, Inc.

  • The BLOOM REPORT is fantastic and it allows me to stay on top of all the breaking news in the Toy industry! - Wai Or, Longshore Ltd.

  • “I seriously look forward to Friday to learn most every update + more in the Industry. Priceless info! Thank you” -Michael Kohner, The Michael Kohner Corporation

  • "TBR is required reading for: inventors, manufacturers, retailers, marketers, suppliers, absolutely everyone!" - Robert Fuhrer, Founder, NEXTOY

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

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The Toy Association welcomes EVERYONE to its annual general meeting Thursday, March 7 at 2 pmET.

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The entire toy industry (not just members) is invited and encouraged to attend. The Executive Committee will give updates on the state of the Association, an overview of 2023 fiscal results and financial health of the organization, news about our upcoming LA Fall Preview and Toy Fair events, update on our work to protect industry against regulatory threats and more.

 

The Zoom link to join the virtual meeting is available here. The passcode is 091429.

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Short Film Reviews by POP's Julia DeKorte

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Geri’s Game is an award-winning short film produced by Pixar about an elderly man playing a game of chess against himself. The man, Geri, sets up his chessboard on a table in the park on an autumn day, and seemingly has the park to himself. He makes his first move, moving a white pawn to a center space, before getting up and sitting in the chair across from himself, and moving a black pawn to the neighboring center space. And thus, Geri begins a game of chess against himself. His two personas are very different. READ MORE...

Toy Story of Terror! is a special Halloween-themed short film featuring the whole Toy Story gang. The toys are in the trunk of Bonnie’s car, headed to Grandma’s house. To entertain themselves on the long car ride, they’ve put on a scary movie, which Mr. Pricklepants is the expert on. A bit of of a horror-movie fanatic, he knows exactly what’s going to happen next in the movie, which is a good thing, because the toys are about to find themselves in a horror movie of their own.  Read More...

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

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Cartoons of the Week: Thank you to the person who wishes to remain anonymous for this week's cartoon. 

Lexophile Lovers:  "I tried to come up with a carpentry pun that woodwork. I thought I nailed it but nobody saw it." Thank you, Jerry Cleary, for sharing with our readers! 

Memorable Quotes:

"In play, we can be whoever we want to be." - Eric Lang, prolific board game designer

Toy Industry Word of Day: Body Donor submitted by Rana Schenke. 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

Relatable, known for card games like What Do You Meme? and Let’s Get Deep, recently acquired Hunt A Killer (HAK), a murder mystery franchise. This marks Relatable’s first acquisition. The murder mystery franchise joins Relatable’s growing list of products, which includes party and drinking games, family-friendly games, plush products, seasonal toys, and health & wellness products.

Disney has signed a binding agreement with Mumbai-based media giant Reliance Industries to merge their TV and streaming businesses in India under an as-yet-unnamed joint-venture. Valued at US$8.5 billion and expected to close in Q4 2024 or Q1 2025, the deal will effectively merge Reliance’s Viacom18 network with Disney’s Star India and Disney+ Hotstar services to reach an audience of more than 750 million viewers... 

Big Lots closed a deal to buy the entire inventory of toy company Hearthsong. The inventory is valued at over $22 million. Through the acquisition, Big Lots will acquire more than 500 new SKUs, including indoor and outdoor toys, inflatables, playscapes, games, children’s decor and other items. The retailer will begin offering Hearthsong products starting in April and sell them from 50% to 70% off.

Nintendo is gunning for Switch emulator Yuzu with new lawsuit. Nintendo is suing the creators of Switch emulator Yuzu for allegedly enabling piracy. In a lawsuit spotted by Game File, Nintendo claims the emulator "unlawfully circumvents the technological measures on Nintendo Switch games and allows for the play of encrypted Nintendo Switch games on devices other than a Nintendo Switch." 

Hornby welcomes Frasers Group as strategic shareholder. Frasers has obtained over 11m of Hornby’s issued shares as part of its plan to build the world’s most admired and compelling brand ecosystem. Hornby, the international models and collectibles group, has announced that Frasers Group has acquired more than 11m issued shares, taking its total holdings to over 15m issued shares, or 8.9% of Hornby. 

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Financial Reporting

Paramount loses 2% in annual revenue, despite DTC growth. The company's streaming business generated US$6.7 billion in earnings last year, and Paramount+ gained 4.1 million new subscribers in Q4.

Electronic Arts Reduces Workforce, Restructures. The video game company is planning layoffs, reorganizing studios, and sunsetting mobile games.

 

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

Steve Totzke, President & COO at Mattel discusses plans for 2024 and the yrs ahead will be monumental as we continue working towards capturing the full value of our IP through not just toys, but also content, experiences, and associated consumer products programs.

 

TikTok Is Aging More Than You Think. According to Pew’s survey, which was conducted in September of last year, there was a 14% increase in users aged 18-30 on TikTok since 2021.

*** The above posted after tBR circulated on March 1st ***

 

State of the Industry: Resetting Expectations — The U.S. Toy Market sets its sights on more correction in 2024. Circana’s Juli Lennett looks back at 2023 and highlights the outlook for what 2024 may hold.  In 2023, retail sales of toys in the U.S. totaled $28 billion, reflecting an 8% decrease — equivalent to $2.4 billion — compared to 2022. 

State of the Industry Q&A 2024: Hasbro. Tim Kilpin, President of Toys, Licensing & Entertainment at Hasbro, discusses brand milestones, live experiences, and refocusing on play.

ASTRA’s Insights: Doing what we do best. How specialty retailers can win in 2024. It’s a new year, and with it comes new trends and issues affecting retailers and manufacturers alike, such as artificial intelligence (AI), the evolving landscape of online sales, smaller footprints...

 

State of the Industry Q&A 2024: Spin Master. Max Rangel, Global President, Spin Master discusses growth via acquisition, the importance of value, and big moments ahead.

State of the Industry Q&A 2024: The Pokémon Company International. Daniel Benkwitt, Director of PR and Corporate Communications at The Pokémon Company International shares insights on the brand and plans for the future.

 

22 Interactive Toys that will keep your kids occupied all day long. It isn’t hard finding fun toys for kids to play with, but finding fun, engaging, interactive toys that actually hold their interest — well, that’s a whole different ball game.

23 new Action Figures & Collectibles for 2024. The 2024 edition of The BIG Toy Book just dropped and features curated showcases highlighting more than 325 new toys, games, and adjacent products across 13 categories.

 

January 2024 U.S. video game spending reaches $5.1 billion. Projected total market U.S. spending on video game hardware, content, and accessories grew 15% in January compared to a year ago...

 

19 New Vehicles & R/C Toys for 2024. The 2024 edition of The BIG Toy Book just dropped and features curated showcases highlighting more than 325 new toys, games, and adjacent products across 13 categories. 

 

27 New Preschool Toys for 2024. The 2024 edition of The BIG Toy Book just dropped and features curated showcases highlighting more than 325 new toys, games, and adjacent products across 13 categories. 

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Stories, Comments, and Advice

ToyWorld Exclusive: Rick Derr – Letter from America. This month, toy store owner Rick Derr reflects on the importance of trying out new technology to avoid falling behind, and whether AI can be of use to retailers. “As an AI novice, I was reminded of 2008 when I first struggled to create our Learning Express Toys Facebook business page,” writes Rick. “What will it mean? How will it work? Do people respond and what...

 

John Baulch, ToyWorld - Have we (finally) found a Brexit benefit … it’s the Friday Blog! I’ve just returned back from a few days’ mini-break in Spain – I left Malaga yesterday basking in glorious 20-degree sunshine and arrived back a few hours later to a cold and very damp UK, where spring has certainly not yet sprung. You have no idea how close I came to imitating that famous meme of Grandpa Simpson walking into a...

Finding a unicorn in Providence is like, well, finding a unicorn. Locals have spotted the mythic beasts perched in window sills, sitting on steps and laying in plain sight on streets. They elicit amusement from their claimants, who stash them away and carry them home. One took hers to drinks at a local bar. People are sharing their whimsical finds to a local Facebook page, but the person responsible for placing the unicorns...

*** The above posted after tBR started running on March 1st ***

Understanding the packaging landscape. People frequently approach me, perplexed by the lackluster performance of intricately designed packaging that they’ve invested in both financially and emotionally. The confusion deepens when major retailers, including Walmart, Target, Barnes and Noble, and even smaller establishments, request a redesign or reject these visually stunning layouts completely. 

 

MrBeast Is One Of The Most Popular YouTubers Ever — But Does He Actually Know How to Make a Compelling Show? As someone born right on the dividing line between Generation X and the advent of the millennials, I’ve often seen generational distinctions drawn largely by the internet – that is, did you grow up with it to some degree? If you did, you lean millennial. If not so much, you’re Gen-X. (No need to get into who...

 

Steve Reece - Toy Market Growth Opportunities In Turkey & The Istanbul Toy Fair. I have written extensively in this newsletter about the dropping birth rates in most major ‘western’ Toy markets. This is a threat to sales growth, because if we have fewer children we have fewer customers. However, one avenue to sales growth over the medium term is to look at economies which are up and coming and to invest your...

A new AVOD streamer called Blkfam is launching in the US with a programming lineup that caters to Black families. It’s currently offering more than 1,000 hours of animated content, including 20-plus syndicated shows and original music-based programming. Blkfam is available on platforms including iOS, Android, Roku and smart TVs from Samsung, Vizio and LG.

Toy Packaging: Evolved — How package design has changed over the last 40 years. As a toy industry veteran with 38 years under my belt, I’ve witnessed a myriad of shifts in toy packaging design strategy, whether influenced by the advent of brand licensing, the quest for sustainability, or the need to appeal to ever-changing consumer tastes and buying habits. 

 

Marketing Memo: What’s in your PR toy box? Old school meets new school in 2024. Here we are, planning for another year with no Toy Fair and, perhaps, no Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards (at least in their usual form). There is lots to strategize, think, and rethink about as we navigate the public relations (PR) toy box (aka “toolbox”) to generate buzz and sales this year. 

 

The 39 best toys for 18-month-olds to boost development through play. When toddlers reach 18 months old, they start to learn more about their surroundings and engage in more independent play (and you get to take a break, guilt-free). At 18 months, kiddos are expanding their vocabulary, copying their adult’s every move, and playing with toys in a simple way. 

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History and Nostalgia

 

Spill and Spell from Parker Brothers. In 1956, Parker Brothers released Spill and Spell, a multi-player spelling game where players put their vocabulary skills to the test to score points. To start, a player placed all 15 letter cubes into the plastic cup and “spilled” them onto the playing surface. Once the sand timer was flipped, the letters visible on the top surfaces of each cube were used to form words. 

 

Barbie’s Friend Ship from Mattel. In 1972, Mattel expanded Barbie’s world with the release of the Friend Ship playset. The vinyl and plastic airplane stood over four-feet long and could be folded into a more compact case with a carrying handle. The design of the toy plane’s exterior was patterned after United Airlines’ Friend Ship livery, including the thick red stripe, four blue stars on the vertical stabilizer and fuselage...

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Licensing and Entertainment 

Mattel Television is expanding the scope of its Thomas franchise with a 60-minute holiday special called Thomas & Friends: The Christmas Letter Express. This one-off is slated for a Netflix debut on November 21 as part of the upcoming 27th season of Thomas & Friends: All Engines Go, which Mattel co-produces with Nelvana Studios in Toronto.

Kess and Toei Animation are joining forces to celebrate the 25th anniversaries of One Piece and Digimon. Initial plans for the collaboration include two tabletop games along with outdoor toys. Kess currently offers products that feature other anime brands including Jujutsu Kaisen, Haikyu!!, and Spy x Family. 

 

Guru Studio has optioned the TV rights to develop an animated preschool series based on Spot, the popular picture book series from Penguin Random House Children’s UK imprint Puffin that has sold more than 65 million copies worldwide. Like the books, Guru’s adaptation will feature the first-time experiences had by Spot the puppy as he explores the world around him.

 

Lionsgate to turn Naruto into a live-action film. Destin Daniel Cretton will direct and write this big-screen manga adaptation, with Avi Arad's production company attached. Naruto‘s manga canon follows the adventures of a young ninja and outcast who dreams of one day becoming the respected leader of his village, but bears the spirit of a destructive nine-tailed fox inside his body.  

 

HMD, short for Human Mobile Devices, says it is launching a Barbie flip phone this summer, in a partnership with toy maker Mattel. It won’t be connected to the internet, making it a throwback to the “dumb phones” of yesteryear before smartphones became popular. The device looks like a standard flip phone with buttons rather than a touch screen, and comes in a hot pink color, resembling the iconic pink flip phone...

Peanuts Returns to the Seoul Living Design Fair Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Beagle Scout. WildBrain CPLG, a trusted licensing partner for leading brands worldwide, is pleased to announce that it will be in attendance at Korea’s largest interior design and lifestyle exhibition, The Seoul Living Design Fair 2024, with a comprehensive range celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Beagle Scouts from beloved..

Universal Studios Hollywood Becomes Cat-tastic Shopping Destination for Gabby’s Dollhouse. Gabby’s Dollhouse toys and products bring the imaginative dollhouse world to life with music, surprises, and more for kids to create their own adventure at home. Fans can shop an exciting assortment that includes Spin Master’s award-winning Gabby’s Purrfect Dollhouse and deluxe room sets, alongside all-new...

Fortnite just got two new Lego games and you can play them right now. The combined Lego and Fortnite universe is getting bigger — three times bigger, as of today. Lego Group and Epic Games announced two new Lego games, known as islands, will be coming to Fortnite. The first is a multiplayer problem-solving game with a pirate theme called Lego Raft Survival, and the second is a 3D platformer...

 

Pidgin Fashion Doll brand launches new accessories collection. A new collection of accessories for kids embodies the looks of Pidgin fashion dolls. Pidgin was developed by Joshua David McKenney, an independent artist who sculpts, paints, and styles each fashion doll from the brand. McKenney and Pidgin have launched a new collection of fashion accessories inspired by the looks of the original dolls. 

 

Showbiz Round-Up. 'Superman: Legacy' to begin filming; 'Game of Thrones' spinoff news; 'Naruto' live-action movie; 'Star Trek: Discovery' S5, 'Borderlands' and 'Justice League' trailers; new dates for 'John Wick' spinoff, 'The Crow' reboot. It is the middle of "sprinter," but the showbiz news is warming up.  

Basic Fun! delivers hot licensed toys for Spring 2024. When it comes to harnessing the power of “new-stalgia,” Basic Fun! is leading the charge with a robust lineup of awesome toys that retailers should have on their radar to delight consumers. This spring, it’s all about Littlest Pet Shop as Basic Fun!, in collaboration with Hasbro, relaunches the popular brand with a range of products geared...

 

Disguise extends partnership with 343 Industries for ‘Halo’. Disguise, JAKKS Pacific’s costume division, has extended its partnership with 343 Industries as a global costume partner for the Halo franchise. Disguise will continue to design, manufacture, market, and distribute Halo-themed costumes and costume accessories. The Halo franchise costume line continues to be a top performer for Disguise. 

 

Blippi comes to Build-A-Bear: Build-A-Bear has announced its launch with preschool character, Blippi. Now available, Blippi’s signature orange and blue cap, suspenders, bowtie and glasses will be available in Build-A-Bear Workshops nationwide and online so that Build-A-Bear plush can mirror Blippi himself. 

 

McFarlane Toys and AMC sign new licensing agreement for Walking Dead collectibles. Founded by Todd McFarlane over thirty years ago, McFarlane Toys is a name that is known for the creation of detailed collectibles. The company recently announced a new partnership with AMC Networks for The Walking Dead universe. 

 

‘Bluey’ first special, ‘The Sign,’ set to premiere for April 14. Disney Branded Television, BBC Studios Kids & Family and Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) have announced that the next installments of Bluey, including an extended length special The Sign, will premiere this April, marking the series’ first global rollout. 

Wind Sun Sky Entertainment (WSS) has partnered with Da Vinci, leaders in streaming content to families around the world, to expand the reach of Future Chicken, a multi-platform eco-initiative for kids, globally. Future Chicken is a climate justice initiative for kids (6-10+) created to address the eco-anxiety they are experiencing today by leveraging evidence-based positive storytelling to let children know...

 

There’s something for everyone in the newest wave of multigenerational Sesame Street Fan Collectibles. Whether a lifelong superfan, an adult nostalgic for the wonder of youth, or a kid at heart falling in love with Sesame Street for the first time, fans of all ages will enjoy the newest collaborations between Sesame Workshop, the global impact nonprofit behind the iconic show, and innovative pop culture creators...

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People of Play

 

Roblox is beefing up its brand partnerships team with three new hires, including former Disney interactive experiences VP John Love. In his new role as VP of business development, Love is responsible for overseeing the global gaming platform’s brand partnerships, creating new revenue opportunities for Roblox creators, and expanding a daily active user base that’s currently sitting at 71.5 million. 

 

Aardman Animations has recruited BBC Studios’ current commercial director of global entertainment Emma Hardie to join its team next month as executive commercial and brand director. Stepping into this newly created role on April 15, Hardie will manage financing, distribution, licensing and marketing strategies in order to drive the commercial expansion of Aardman’s brands. 

 

*** The above posted after tBR ran on March 1st ***

 

Bob Fuhrer... Is THE Crocodile Dentist!. Robert "Bob" Fuhrer is for the toy industry what a producer is for the film industry; a mastermind who brings together creatives, engineers, and business minds to put out incredible toy products. In today's episode, he shares stories from his incredible career and advice for anyone who wants to succeed in the industry.

Crazy Aaron’s Enterprises recently selected Cassie Slane Guglielmo to fill the Manager of Licensing and Content Development role. Guglielmo will lead all licensing efforts for Crazy Aaron’s. In addition to leading licensing efforts, she will continue developing the Crazy Aaron’s brand by identifying key partnerships and product opportunities. She will also oversee the growth of content opportunities across strategic... 

Fun in Motion Toys promotes Laura Tommervik to Vice President of marketing. Fun in Motion Toys, the company behind the Shashibo Magnetic Cube Puzzle, recently promoted former Director of Marketing Laura Tommervik to Vice President of Marketing. The promotion follows Tommervik’s role in guiding the company’s marking initiatives in 2023 to unprecedented success.

6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon and the Conshohocken Connection. I’m chatting with my old friend Brian Turtle.  All right, 30 years ago some of the movies in theaters were True Lies, Legends of the Fall, Mask, Airheads and Interview with the Vampire… meanwhile cable tv was still the big way most of us got our entertainment at home. What were you watching 30 years ago?

Netflix has recruited longtime Hollywood producer Dan Lin to take the reins at its movie division. Replacing Scott Stuber as chairman of film, Lin starts on April 1 and will report to CCO Bela Bajaria. With more than two decades of experience under his belt, Lin’s most notable family-friendly credits include the LEGO movie franchise, Cartoon Network’s Unikitty! and Disney’s live-action film adaptation of Aladdin. 

It’s a day of big movie moves at the Mouse House. Top feature film executive Sean Bailey has officially stepped down after 15 years of running Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production as president.  To replace him, the media giant has set up Searchlight co-president David Greenbaum in a newly created role as president of live action and 20th Century Studios. This brings both units under the purview of Greenbaum...

Sambro strengthens UK finance team with new hire. Sambro has strengthened its UK finance team with a new hire Katie Ratcliffe as financial controller. Katie will be working alongside Steve Townsley, who joined the business in November as Interim Chief Financial Officer, bringing with him a wealth of experience working within private equity backed businesses, including Accrol, UK Fast and Help-Link. 

 

Skillmatics further strengthens UK sales team. Skillmatics is strengthening its sales team following what it calls an ‘amazing’ reaction from retailers at the London and Nuremberg toy fairs. The early sales boom has resulted in the company securing the services of renowned and respected sales agent Martin Pike, who will be managing the South West territory. 

 

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Companies and Brands

 

Super Impulse, a company that specializes in novelty items, has launched a revamped Stink Blasters line. The collectible line includes several 2.5-inch characters that emit an odor when squeezed. Characters include Silent Gasser, Tony Anchovy, Burpin Buddy, Pig Boy, Sweat Sox Sammy, Monster Mounth, and Barfin’ Ben.

 

Cepia’s Decora Girlz collection is hitting shelves after first being revealed at Toy Fair in New York last year. Designed for kids ages 4 and up, the Decora Girlz line features diverse styles, vibrant outfits, and customizable accessories inspired by the Japanese Decora Kei aesthetic. There are three products in the collection: the Decora Girlz 5-inch Collectible Mystery Dolls, which include eight surprises in each unboxing...

9 Story Media Group is implementing a modest layoff of staff across the company in response to current market conditions. These reductions are affecting its teams in Toronto, NY and Dublin. “Given the current industry slowdown that is affecting everyone, 9 Story has made a few organizational changes to better reflect the needs of the business moving forward,” according to a statement from a 9 Story spokesperson. 

 

*** The above posted after tBR started sending March 1st ***

 

McDonald's leans into anime with 'WcDonald's' campaign. Anime fans are likely familiar with WcDonald’s and its upside-down Golden Arches logo, which anime show creators have used for years to reference the fast food chain without being sued. Now McDonald’s is bringing WcDonald’s to the real world as part of a campaign that includes a new sauce, manga-inspired packaging and four short anime episodes that...

Hasbro's Tom Warner retells the origins of how the toyco developed its iconic Transformers characters and lore from a sci-fi toy line created by Takara in the '80s. Company execs discovered the forerunner to Transformers toys at the Tokyo Toy Show in 1982. Japanese toyco Takara had launched a sci-fi toy line called Diaclone two years previously that featured transforming robots piloted by humans, doing battle...

The Entertainer carried out a trial in 35 Tesco locations from October 2022 and, following its success, the company’s curated toy zones are now being rolled out to all UK and Republic of Ireland Tesco stores. The 33-week programme to open The Entertainer Toy Shop in 853 locations around the UK began yesterday (26th February) with 23 stores in Scotland, set to open by the end of this week.

'Magic: The Gathering - Modern Horizons 3' product line deets unveiled. Wizards of the Coast unveiled product line details for Magic: The Gathering - Modern Horizons 3, a new Modern format booster set, which will hit retail on June 14, 2024. Modern Horizons 3 adds a couple of SKUs to the mix that hadn't previously been offered with other Modern Horizons product line.

 

Lovevery expands to Singapore. Lovevery is bringing its Play Kits to Singapore, just one year after the early childhood brand expanded to Australia. Families in Singapore can now access 18 Play Kits full of developmentally appropriate toys created for kids ages 0 and up, as well as The Play Gym. Inspired by Montessori principles, the Play Kits are designed by child development experts, combining stage-based play essentials...

 

Pickle Everything selects Carve Communications as Agency of Record. Pickle Everything has selected Carve Communications, a Miami-based public relations agency, as its agency of record. Pickle Everything Games was recently launched by industry veterans Jeffrey Breslow (Big Monster Toys) and Frank Adler (Uncle Milton). The company’s namesake game, Pickle Everything, is inspired by the popular sport Pickleball.

 

'Pokemon TCG' takes digital pack opening experience to the next level. The Pokemon Company International will launch Pokemon TCG Pocket, a new digital collecting game by Creatures Inc., in 2024. In this game, for iOS and Android devices, players are sent two digital booster packs every day for free. 

 

Steal dragon's gold in 'Fandooble and the Dragon's Eye'. Catalyst Game Labs will release Fandooble and the Dragon's Eye, a party game by Mike Richie, into retail on March 20, 2024. This game was first released as Fandooble in 2011 by Mindtwister USA and is designed by Rather Dashing Games' Mike Richie, who is also responsible for Element and Hafid's Grand Bazaar.

 

Hasbro returns to Eurogames with 'Life in Reterra'. Hasbro has teamed up with veteran designers Eric Lang (Blood Rage, Rising Sun) and Ken Gruhl (Cahoots, Mystic Market) for a new Euro-style board game entitled Life in Reterra, set to release on World Earth Day, April 22 2024. Set in a future world in which human civilization as we know it has been forgotten, 

Sanrio kicks off Hello Kitty’s 50th Anniversary celebration. Hello Kittyis kicking off a year of festivities in honor of her 50th anniversary. To celebrate, Sanrio will host a range of programs throughout the year, including a supercute art exhibit in Los Angeles, original content on the Hello Kitty and Friends YouTube channel, exclusive collaborations, limited edition commemorative products, special appearances by Hello Kitty...

 

Prospero Hall, Funko Games alumni launch board game studio. A group of alumni from Prospero Hall, Forrest-Pruzan Creative, and Funko Games will launch Tempest Workshop, a new full-service board game design and development studio based in Seattle. Tempest Workshop’s goal is to continue the team’s legacy of innovative, accessible gameplay combined with detailed art and graphic design. 

 

New Claymates brand has sustainable wood figures kids can decorate with clay. Claymates is a newly launched brand that gives kids the chance to role play using clay. The company’s wooden figures are designed after Montessori principles, aiming to support child autonomy and hands-on learning. The new brand has a number of different human figure offerings, all hand-turned in Maine. 

 

Catalyst to produce narrative deckbuilding game for 'Pathfinder'. Catalyst Game Labs will launch Runefire, a narrative deckbuilding game based on Paizo’s Pathfinder RPG and built on the engine Catalyst developed for Dungeons & Dragons: Dragonfire and Shadowrun: Crossfire, the companies announced. 

 

Days of Wonder pours 'Heavy Rain' in 'Heat' expansion. Days of Wonder has announced the Heavy Rain expansion for its Grand Prix racing game Heat, featuring the Japan and Mexico tracks.  The expansion will release on April 26. Heat:  Heavy Rain offers two new tracks for racers to negotiate, each featuring unique challenges intended for experienced racers.  

 

'Magic: The Gathering' preview panel: 'Bloomburrow'. Wizards of the Coast teased Bloomburrow, a new booster set for Magic: The Gathering, which will hit retail on August 2, 2024. This Q3 Premier set, which was originally announced last year will showcase a all anthropomorphic animal characters in a woodland fantasy plane. 

 

New 'Flesh and Blood TCG' set incoming. Legend Story Studios announced Part the Mistveil, a new Flesh and Blood TCG booster set, which will hit stores on May 31, 2024. The 13th Flesh and Blood TCG set will explore the cloaked valleys of the land of Misteria.  There, its inhabitants harness tradition, desire, and purpose to reshape their mind, body, and soul.  

 

Wizkids announces 'Rebuilding Chicago'. WizKids is producing Rebuilding Chicago, a stand-alone follow-up to last year’s Rebuilding Seattle.  The new game will release in March 2025. Set after the devastating Great Chicago Fire of 1871, Rebuilding Chicago tasks players with the responsibility of reconstructing the city.  

 

The Runaways' bassist Jackie Fox designs new band board game. Devir Games will release Rock Hard: 1977, a new board game by Jackie Fox, into retail in August 2024. Jackie Fox, bassist of the legendary punk band The Runaways, has dropped a "Cherry Bomb" on the board game business with her new board game design. 

 

Hachette will release 'Task Team'. Hachette Boardgames will release Task Team, a new English edition of the classic French party game by Gigamic, into retail in May 2024. Task Team, designed by Olivier Finet, is 25 years old and a new English edition is headed to market soon.  In this game, two teams attempt to complete seven challenges first. 

 

Rio Grande takes a ride on the 'Southern Pacific'. Rio Grande Games will release Southern Pacific, a new train game by John Bohrer, into retail in spring 2024. In Southern Pacific, the Civil War is over and Robber Barons building  rails across Texas into the Southwest.  Players will take on the roles of these Robber Barons and try to build up their railroads to form the most lucrative routes.  

 

Konami announces new 'Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG' booster set. Konami Digital Entertainment announced Battles of Legend: Terminal Revenge, a new booster set for Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG, which will hit retail on June 21, 2024. Battles of Legend: Terminal Revenge harkens back to the story of the Hidden Arsenal series, and features new foils of popular cards.  

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Gaming: Digital, Video, Hardware, and Development

 

Mattel and mobile game developer Rollic are collaborating on a new Barbie title that will launch sometime later this year. There are no details available about the game yet, but it’s part of a broader strategy in play at Mattel to increase its digital gaming revenue. The toyco is planning to launch more licensed video games in order to expand the reach of its IPs in lucrative consumer markets. 

Jazwares and Mob Entertainment have teamed up to launch Poppy Playtime Forever on Roblox. The game is available for Roblox users today, Feb. 29. Poppy Playtime Forever, based on Mob Entertainment’s video game Poppy Playtime, expands the franchise’s immersive gaming opportunities and further explores the user-generated content experience.

Electronic Arts (EA) is preparing for the release of the next game in its racing video game series: F1 24. EA has the official license for the FIA Formula One World Championship, with the F1 game series aiming to provide a realistic car racing experience to players. The games feature virtual versions of Formula One drivers and their cars. The next game in the series, F1 24, is set to release on May 31, and EA...

Subscription services are changing our relationship to gaming. In countries like Argentina, where physical games are exorbitantly expensive, services like Game Pass present a more affordable — but flawed — alternative. “When a single video game equals a quarter of your salary or more,” Reddit user uri_nrv says, “you stop caring about the sense of ownership and instead conform yourself with playing it and moving on.”

Pokémon reveals upcoming video game, trading card game app. The Pokémon Co. Inernational is showing no signs of slowing down, with a new mobile app and entry into the video game series both on the way. On Pokémon Day yesterday, a Pokémon Presents event highlighted the company’s upcoming releases slated for this year as well as next, ranging from a series premiere to content for existing apps and more. 

 

Here’s why The Nintendo Switch 2 might not launch until March 2025. If it feels like you’ve been hearing a lot about the Nintendo Switch 2 recently, it’s because you have. Over the past month or so, a proverbial dam of info about the highly anticipated follow up to the Nintendo Switch has seemingly leaked, including that the console’s launch was delayed to 2025 and news of titles it’ll likely receive. 

 

Sonic enters battle royale arena with 'Toys Party' mobile game, Summer 2024 launch. Insider Gaming's recent revelations have stirred the mobile gaming community with news of a new Sonic franchise game, 'Sonic Toys Party', slated for a Summer 2024 release. Drawing inspiration from the massively popular 'Fall Guys', this free-to-play mobile game, currently under the codename Project Toys...

 

Texas Chain Saw Massacre nets 5.6 million players as Black Tower takes over development. Texas Chain Saw Massacre has sold 1.1 million copies, but it has significantly more players since its August release. Per Sumo Nottingham, the horror multiplayer game has reached 5.6 million total players. The majority of them (read: 4.5 million) come from Xbox Game Pass, where it arrived on launch day. 

 

New study shows kids are bullied for not spending money in free-to-play games. New data from Norway examines how video games influence children, their social behaviors, and their spending habits. It turns out, younger players are being bullied over their lack of cosmetic skins, are using in-game items to become more popular, and are struggling to avoid all the ads and user-made scams connected to popular..

PlayStation to axe 900 jobs and close London studio. Sony has announced it will lay off 8% of PlayStation employees globally, amounting to approximately 900 people. In addition to cuts in the US and Japan, the gaming giant said this would mean closing PlayStation's London Studio entirely. In a blog post sharing an email sent to employees, boss Jim Ryan called the move "sad news" and said it was "a difficult ...

Deck Nine Games lays off 20 percent of staff. Deck Nine Games, famous for crafting The Expanse: A Telltale Series, Life is Strange: True Colors, and other narrative-focused games, just announced it has laid off 20 percent of its staff. In a post on X, the studio said: "Like many others in the games industry right now, Deck Nine has been affected by the game industry's worsening market conditions. 

Unity says laying off 25 percent of staff was about 'reigniting revenue growth. Unity CFO and EVP, Luis Visoso, confirmed the company has laid off 25 percent of its workforce as part of a company reset, but claimed those cuts will allow it to begin "reigniting revenue growth with healthy financials." The comments were made during a recent earnings call and saw Visoso describe the mass layoffs as an "unfortunate...

 

Star Citizen dev CIG laid off staff following studio relocation. Staff at Star Citizen creator Cloud Imperium Games (CIG) have reportedly been laid off. These cuts, said ex-Turbulent producer Annie Bouffard, were "mass layoffs" excused as staff relocation. Per MassivelyOP, a number of alpha players on the space game learned several lead staff were no longer at the studio. 

 

The Quarry developer Supermassive confirms it's planning layoffs. Until Dawn, The Quarry, and Dark Pictures Anthology developer Supermassive Games has confirmed it will be laying off some employees. In a statement shared on Linkedin, the UK studio said it's undertaking a "reorganization" program that will result in some job losses.

Dota 2 tops eSports tournaments list with $270 million in winnings. A new study has revealed the highest-paying esports games, revealing Dota 2 to have the best paying tournaments. The study, conducted by CSGO gambling site CSGOLuck, looked at data from the top 500 individual esports tournaments with the largest prize pools of all time. Claiming the top spot, 

 

Balatro made $1 million within hours of release. Balatro, the hit roguelike deckbuilder, reportedly made $1 million in revenue eight hours after it came out. Publisher Playstack broke the news to GamesIndustry, adding that the game became profitable an hour after release. Within three days of coming out, it'd sold 250,000 copies. 

 

Palworld continues to grow as it shoots past 25 million players. Hey, remember that little game Palworld? Well as of today, it’s surpassed a staggering 25 million players, all within about a month of its early access launch. That’s a lot of people shooting at or alongside their legally distinct “pals,” not Pokémon. Love it or hate it—or don’t get it all, like myself—people have certainly been showing up...

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Highlighted Press Releases

HOLD YOUR HORSES! BENE BUDDIES™ WELCOMES HAYLO INTO ITS CORRAL OF WORLD’S 1ST TOKEN REWARD SYSTEM IN PLUSH Haylo Joins Bene, Sparkle & Seawhee, The Toys With A Purpose™, Promoting Positive Character Traits From Kindness To Patience Via Book, Token Rewards & Plush Boxed Set. Knoxville, TN (February 28, 2024) – Parents, teachers, and childhood therapists in need have a friend indeed with Bene Buddies™. This unique teaching toy set features a large plush, a storybook lesson and reward tokens to be inserted into a plush bear, dog, turtle and soon, a horse. It’s the first of its kind in the toy industry!

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Associations, Shows, Awards, Events, and Festivals

Starlight Children’s Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to delivering happiness to hospitalized kids, has launched its Power of Play campaign. The month-long campaign starts today and aims to raise $225,000 for its programs through different activations, including its annual Stream for Starlight Spring Steam event, and bring awareness to the healing power of play for kids in hospitals.

 

*** The above posted after tBR started sending on March 1st ***

 

ToyFest 2024 to feature events, education, and more. After the show’s biggest year in 20 years, ToyFest will take place at The Expo at World Market Center in Las Vegas from March 3-5. The three-day show is packed with events. On Sunday, buyers can attend Morning Masterpieces, which features arts and crafts opportunities from vendors including Abacus Brands, Aqua Blocks, Bright Stripes, Crestar, DJECO...

The Toy Association unveils plans for upcoming trade events: A new toy preview comes to Los Angeles this fall. The Toy Association is gearing up to offer more resources and opportunities to help the global play community succeed. Reflecting on the success of our re-imagined Toy Fair, this past show served as a dynamic stage where the pulse of innovation in play reverberated across every aisle and booth. 

 

MagicCon Chicago in photos. ICv2 visited MagicCon Chicago on February 23, 2024 at McCormick Place Lakeside Center, 2301 S Martin Luther King Dr. in Chicago, Illinois. This event was announced as part of the MagicCon 2024 schedule. The event hosted Pro Tour Murders at Karlov Manor as well as multiple side events for Magic fans of all levels of competitive and casual play. 

 

The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF) has unveiled a list of proposals to address ongoing challenges impacting British children and their consumption of media. The goal of the gathering was to assess and propose solutions to a “crisis of childhood” in the UK that the CMF says is being driven by two factors: a drop in the amount of regulated domestic content being made for children, and this demographic’s...

Preshow Noël Toys & Games is pleased to announce the launch of Fan Zone, which will take place on the same dates as Preshow Noël, from 18th to 22nd November 2024, at the Hôtel Barrière Le Royal in Deauville. This new event will take place on the 7th floor of the venue, where industry previews of the end-of-year N+1 collections will be revealed during Preshow Noël. The Kidult market is an increasingly important...

 

GDC Main Stage: A Developer's Concert. For its 2024 Main Stage event, the Game Developers Conference (GDC) will host a live instrumental performance that showcases influential and notable game scores throughout history, with a spotlight on the last year, including nominees from the IGF, GDCA and Grammys..

The board of governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voted Monday to make the Short Films and Feature Animation Branch two distinct branches: the Animation Branch and the Short Films Branch. The move essentially has the effect of separating Animated Features and Animated Shorts from the Live Action Short, thus leaving the latter overseeing just live-action and nonfiction shorts...

 

Cardboard Edison has announced the finalists for this year’s Cardboard. Edison Award contest for unpublished board game designs. The 2024 competition received 339 entries, representing an increase of 36% in total. submissions from the previous year. From them, 14 finalists were chosen...

Autumn Fair launches new campaign for 2024. Autumn Fair has announced the launch of its new campaign theme, promising a celebration of newness and original products that will bring retail stores to life, putting the spotlight on the allure of the shop window and the best of British suppliers. Following constructive dialogue with key partners, buyers and loyal brands, 

Safety and Counterfeiting

 

KID releases 4 new design safety masterclasses. Kids in Danger (KID), a nonprofit organization that protects children by fighting for product safety, recently released four new masterclasses. The new courses, which are part of the KID Design Safety Toolkit, are designed for businesses and entrepreneurs that create children’s products. 

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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

Barry Harding passed away on Sunday 11th February. Well known and liked throughout the trade, Barry Harding was a consummate sales professional. Former colleague John Mitchell described him as “honest, dependable, decent and totally committed – a salesperson of the highest integrity. He was dedicated to his craft and one of the most courteous people you will ever meet.”

Barry had a long and distinguished toy trade career which spanned over 40 years, working with major companies such as Fisher Price, Playmobil and Step2 before setting up his own sales agency, BG Marketing, which represented a number of international toy companies in the UK market, including Kiddesigns.

Following many years of service to the toy industry, in which he made a good deal of friends, Barry finally retired at the end of 2018. He will be remembered by his many acquaintances as always being perfectly turned out, with the dapper suits he wore epitomising his meticulous attention to detail and efficiency in business.

Toy World would like to add its condolences to Barry’s wife Gill and their children, Lee, Jason, Rebecca and Stuart, and all of his friends and former colleagues.

The funeral will take place at 11.00 am on March 12th at the Southend Crematorium (SS2 5PX), and afterwards at Roslin Beach Hotel.

 

Yoshitaka MurayamaEiyuden Chronicle and Suikoden creator Yoshitaka Murayama has passed away. Rabbit & Bear Studios, the company founded by Murayama to develop Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes, shared the news on its website (as spotted by VGC).

"It's with a heavy heart and deep sadness we must inform you that the scenario writer and head of Rabbit & Bear Studios, Yoshitaka Murayama, has passed away on February 6 due to complications with an ongoing illness," reads the post.

"His hard work on Eiyuden Chronicle as scenario writer was finished but as his co-workers and friends, it saddens us to know that he won’t get to see the reactions from his fans. However, even with those feelings we need to accept the reality that he is no longer with us and continue to push his dream forward by releasing Eiyuden Chronicle to the world."

The studio said the finished game will maintain his "legacy and vision" and noted it will have more information on organizational changes in due course. Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes publisher 505 Games also paid its respects on X.

"It is with deep and profound sadness that we have learned of the passing of our friend Yoshitaka Murayama, the creator of the forthcoming Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes. Not only was he a true pioneer and visionary, creating cherished memories for millions of people around the world, but he was a wonderful partner and dear colleague," wrote the 505 team.

"His enthusiasm and creativity knew no bounds and the gaming world will feel emptier without him. All of us at Digital Bros and 505 Games wish to express our most sincere condolences to Murayama-san's family, friends, and all those at Rabbit & Bear at this time. He will be sorely missed."

Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes was pitched as a spiritual successor to the Suikoden franchise, which Yoshitaka Murayama helped create during his time at Konami in the '90s.

Murayama worked on multiple entries in the Suikoden series as a writer, director and producer before eventually leaving Konami in 2002 to explore the world of freelance development. At the time of writing, Hundred Heroes is still slated for release in April this year.

Worldwide Magazines Weekly Top Stories

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

 

Toy Trade Monthly Issues​​​​​

Adventure Media & Events (US)

aNb Media (US) 

 

Toyworld (UK)

  1. Do the right thing … it’s the Friday Blog!

  2. Moonbug and IMC announce strategic partnership

  3. Hornby welcomes Frasers Group as strategic shareholder

  4. Toymaster looks forward to busy May Show

  5. The Entertainer begins roll-out to Tesco stores

  6. Thomas & Friends: All Engines Go returns for Season 27

  7. Spot optioned for TV by Guru Studio

  8. The March issue of Toy World is out now

  9. The Toy Trust unveils Midsummer Mayhem

  10. British businesses facing delays after Red Sea attacks

Licensing.biz Powered by Toyworld

  1. Moonbug and IMC announce strategic partnership

  2. Poppy Playtime universe expands with Roblox game

  3. Courtney Holt appointed Moonbug’s global head of Music and Strategic Audio Initiatives

  4. Details of latest Magic: The Gathering releases revealed at MagicCon Chicago

  5. Thomas & Friends: All Engines Go returns for new Season 27

  6. Spot optioned for TV by Guru Studio

  7. The March issue of Toy World is out now

  8. Hunter Price partners with Universal for new Gabby’s Dollhouse range

  9. Mattel partners with Rollic to launch new Barbie mobile game

  10. The Paddington Bear Experience to open in May

ICv2: The Business of Geek Culture (US) 

Ultra PRO Will Release 'Dungeons & Dragons 50th Anniversary' Accessories
WizKids Announces 'Rebuilding Chicago'
MagicCon 'Magic: The Gathering' Preview Panel: 'Modern Horizons 3'
'Magic: The Gathering' Preview Panel: 'Bloomburrow'
'Magic: The Gathering - Modern Horizons 3' Product Line Deets Unveiled
Rolling for Initiative -- 'Dungeons & Dragons' 2024 Core Books and 'Vecna: Eve of Ruin' DTC
Funko Games Alumni Form New Studio
Crystal Dynamics Announces New 'Tomb Raider' RPG
Konami Announces New 'Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG' Booster Set
Hasbro Returns to Eurogames with 'Life in Reterra'

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

Global Toy News

 

The Bugg Report (Australia)

The Toy Universe (Australia)

hobbyDB

Casual Game Revolution

News Flash: Life in Reterra, Betrayal Gets a Card Game
Hasbro has announced a new board game, a new card game set in the world of Betrayal at House on the Hill is coming out this month, and Ticket to Ride is getting a cookbook (yes, really!).

Video of the Week 

Hidden Roles with Robert Fuhrer! 

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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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