8/28/2019 3:23:50 PM
October 2019, Vol. 14, No. 3
Screen-Free, Coding-Focused, & Child-Led Play
HobbyKidsTV: pocket.watch chats with TFE about plans for its next big digital-ďŹ rst brand
UNWRAPPING PROFITS & CONSUMER LOYALTY
ABC KIDS EXPO
Brand Licensing Europe
contents | 10/19 Volume 14, No. 3
Observations & Opinions
by Ashley Rogers
Industry Forum: The Toy Association
State of the Industry
Industry Forum: ASTRA
STEM Toys: Screen-Free, Coding-Focused, and Child-Led by Elaine Andrus
Kids2: Going for High Note at Retail by Jennifer Lynch
Unboxing 2.0: Unwrapping Profits & Consumer Loyalty
by Jennifer Lynch
Toy Fair Dallas Preview
Industry Forum: Design Edge
ABC Kids Expo 2019 Preview
Industry Forum: Women in Toys
Industry Forum: John Brady
Calendar of Events
68 Brand Licensing Europe 2019 Preview compiled by Jennifer Lynch
74 Brand Profile: HobbyKidsTV by Jennifer Lynch
77 Brand Profile: Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? by Jennifer Lynch
78 Brand Profile: Supa Strikas by Jennifer Lynch
81 CBS Loves the ’90s by Jennifer Lynch
On this Page Baby K’tan Original Wrap Baby Carrier in sweetheart print; HobbyKidsTV with plush products from their newly launched toy line
Who said size matters? Credit card sized with full arcade game play and sounds.
See All of the Irresistible orld’s Smallest Line.
McManemin & Associates
www.superimpulse.com © Atari and the Atari logo are registered trademarks of Atari Interactive, Inc. ©Konami Digital Entertainment © TAITO CORP. 1978, 2017 TM & © 2019 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Tetris ® & © 1985~2019 Tetris Holding. PAC-MAN™& ©2019 BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc. GALAXIAN™ & © BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc. GALAGA™& ©1981 BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc. POLE POSITION™ & ©2019 BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc. Ms.PAC-MAN™& ©1982 BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc. NEW RALLY-X™ & ©2019 BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc. DIG DUG™& ©1982 BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc.
8/28/2019 3:05:20 PM
TFE OBSERVATIONS & OPINIONS
Don’t Call it a Comeback BY
year ago in this space I wrote about how the toy industry was approaching the most important time of the year, the fourth quarter selling season, without a Toys “R” Us retail establishment selling toys. What a difference a year can make. As most of the toy industry gathers again in Dallas this month (Toy Fair Dallas Preview on page 40), a hot topic of conversation is sure to be Toys “R” Us. With some manufacturers feeling burned from that experience, they’ve since moved forward strengthening their relationships with other retailers. Bob Glaser, Publisher What we know so far about TRU’s comeback is that it will be on a much smaller scale than where it last left off. With plans to emphasize a more interactive and engaging in-store experience, many will be watching closely to see 1) if it works 2) how it grows from there. But that is how it works in the brick-and-mortar retail world, right? Start small, experience success, and grow. Perhaps, we can all look to toy retailers, such as FAO Schwarz, that have successfully rebranded and restrategized, or alignments between global giants such as Target and Disney Stores that are proving in-store experience matters to today’s shoppers. The internet has changed the recipe a bit for retail success, but experience—when properly coupled with a killer digital presence—can help retailers grow and expand quickly. For more on how experience is transforming the approach of today’s toymakers and toy retailers, we delve into the topic—and others—in our State of the Industry, starting on page 36. Across the pages of this issue, you’ll also find how the industry is responding to potential toy tariffs on the horizon. Included in our state of the industry as well, ASTRA President Kimberly Mosley, specifically, addresses this topic in her column and the impact it’s already having on the specialty toy retail sector. With Q4 upon us, our team then digs into other hot trend topics such as how unboxing (page 32) is no fad and continues to evolve with packaging playing a bigger role and digital kid influencers turning into the toys themselves. We spoke more in-depth with the pocket.watch team about how its next big digital brand, HobbyKidsTV, is launching now at retail supported by a nationwide meet-and-greet tour at Walmart and new animated digital series. The global baby products market is expected to reach $16.78 billion by 2025, according to a report by Grand View Research, and this month also kicks off the annual ABC Kids Expo. A preview of products from those exhibiting begins on page 62. Be sure to also check out our Brand Licensing Expo coverage along with other brand in-depths starting on page 68. We hope you have a great show, whichever one that may be, and an even better fourth quarter selling season. Be sure to tune into our ongoing coverage over at anbmedia.com for more of the latest news on toys and family entertainment.
OCTOBER 2019 • VOLUME 14, NO. 3 PUBLISHER BOB GLASER BOB@TTPM.COM
ADVERTISING DIRECTOR DONNA MOORE DONNA@TTPM.COM
ADVERTISING MANAGER GRAHAM WINDRUS GRAHAM@TTPM.COM
CONTROLLER MARY GROGAN MARY@TTPM.COM
EDITOR IN CHIEF JIM SILVER JIM@TTPM.COM
CREATIVE & EDITORIAL MANAGER JENNIFER LYNCH JENNIFER@TTPM.COM
WEB DEVELOPER BRENDAN SANABRIA BRENDAN@TTPM.COM
CONTRIBUTORS ELAINE ANDRUS; JOHN BRADY; DEB DE SHERBININ; KRISTIN MORENCY GOLDMAN; KIMBERLY MOSLEY; MATT NUCCIO; AND ASHLEY ROGERS;
INTERESTED IN A SUBSCRIPTION? CONTACT MARY GROGAN AT MARY@TTPM.COM ANB MEDIA, INC. 229 WEST 28TH STREET, SUITE 401, NEW YORK, NY 10001 PHONE: (646) 763–8710 • FAX: (646) 763–8727
TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT (TFE) is published three times per year by aNb Media. Copyright 2019 aNb Media. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photography, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. Printed in the U.S.A. TFE, TFE LICENSING, and SPECIALTY EMPORIUM are registered trademarks of aNb Media. Opinions and comments expressed in this publication by editors, contributing writers, or solicited or unsolicited documents are not necessarily those of management.
8 tfe October 2019
Over 200 million minutes
watched in the UK
Engage and Play the Blippi way Figures, Vehicles, Playsets Plush & Roleplay coming in 2020 from
For Sales Enquiries Please contact: UKSales@jazwares.com
ÂŠ 2019 Blippi. All rights reserved.
ÂŠ 2019 Jazwares. All rights reserved.
9/4/2019 2:02:44 PM
What’s Trending? These trending lists are based on aNb Media’s consumer website, TTPM.coM. TTPM’s ToP Trending LisTs are generated by the number of views for that item across toy, baby, and pet categories. Here are the lists, in trending order, as of August 25.
TOP 10 Trending Toys Awesome Bloss’ems
L.O.L. Surprise! O.M.G. Dolls MGA Entertainment
BTS Dolls (1) Mattel
Boopi the Booty Shakin’ Llama ZURU
Ryan’s World Super Surprise Safe Just Play
Rainbow Butterfly Unicorn Kitty Toys Funrise Toys
Tic Tac Toy XOXO Friends Blip Toys
Toy Story 4 Buzz Lightyear Command Center
TOP 5 Baby Products Cherish C525 Baby Monitor (2) Kodak
Busy Learning Tool Bench Fisher-Price
Nursing Pads & Breastmilk Storage Bags & Organizer nanobébé
My Peek-a-Boo LapPup LeapFrog
Cool Maker Go Glam Nail Stamper
TOP 5 Pet Products Animo Dog Activity & Behavior Monitor
Back to School Toy Collection (3) P.L.A.Y. Products
Disney Junior T.O.T.S. Nursery Headquarters Playset
The Snood Ruffina.NYC
ZippyTuff Squeaker Dumbbell ZippyPaws
Electronic Flea Comb Eyenimal
10 tfe October 2019
BOOTH 12-1609 Untitled-1 1
8/28/2019 2:58:20 PM
HERE’S A RECAP OF INDUSTRY HEADLINES • For more up-to-date news, visit aNbMedia.com • Sign up to receive our FREE e-newsletter distributed every Wednesday
Target, Disney Announce 25 Disney Shop-In-Shops with More Planned for 2020 The Walt Disney Company and Target Corporation announced a new collaboration encompassing experiential retail and merchandising that will kick off on Star Wars Triple Force Friday and the first-ever Frozen Fan Fest. The collaboration launches with 25 Disney stores within select Target stores nationwide on October 4, with 40 additional locations opening by October 2020. Guests will also discover all-new, Disney-focused digital experiences on Target.com. Additionally, a new Target store will open at Flamingo Crossings Town Center at the western entrance of the Walt Disney World Resort in 2021 to bring the convenience of Target shopping to Disney park guests. Disney and Target worked to co-develop and design an experience that will bring the magic of Disney store to Target guests in new and unique ways, while extending the Disney store footprint. Disney store at Target locations will be among the select places in the U.S. where guests can browse and purchase Disney store specialty merchandise from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars. Disney store at Target locations will be a Target-operated, branded “shop-in-shop” layout with an average of 750 square feet, strategically located inside Target stores adjacent to kids clothing and toys, replicated online at Target.com/Disneystore and in the Target app, available for download on iOS and Android.
Hasbro to Buy eOne for $4 Billion
Hasbro will acquire eOne in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $4.0 billion. “The acquisition of eOne adds beloved story-led global family brands that deliver strong operating returns to Hasbro’s portfolio and provides a pipeline of new brand creation driven by family-oriented storytelling, which will now include Hasbro’s IP,” said Brian Goldner, Hasbro chairman and CEO. “In addition, Hasbro will leverage eOne’s immersive entertainment capabilities to bring our portfolio of brands that have appeal to gamers, fans and families to all screens globally and realize full franchise economics across our blueprint strategy for shareholders.” “There’s a strong cultural fit between our two companies,” said Darren Throop, CEO of eOne. “eOne teams will continue to do what they do best, bolstered by the access to Hasbro’s extensive portfolio of richly creative IP and merchandising strength. In addition, the resulting expanded Hasbro presence in Canada through eOne’s deep roots will bring world class talent and production capabilities to Hasbro. Along with our leadership team, I look forward to working with Hasbro on our joint growth and success for many years to come.” The acquisition will advance Hasbro’s position as a leading global play and entertainment company, adding global preschool brands with proven success and strong financial returns across platforms, such as Peppa Pig and PJ Masks, to Hasbro’s portfolio. eOne’s production capabilities across platforms will also strengthen Hasbro’s end-to-end ability to monetize and bring to market its IP in increasingly attractive new formats, including OTT and premium platforms, music, location-based entertainment, AR and VR.
12 tfe October 2019
8/29/2019 10:35:46 AM
Sony Acquires Insomniac Games
Sony Interactive Entertainment has acquired Insomniac Games as part of its Worldwide Studios family. Although the games publisher describes it more like a homecoming. The two companies have collaborated for more than 20 years—spanning all four PlayStation consoles, 20 total games, and six franchises. This includes such fan-favorites as Marvel’s Spider-Man, Ratchet & Clank, along with the original Spyro the Dragon (1998). “The decision to join forces with Sony extends far beyond familiarity,” said Insomniac Games CEO Ted Price. “Our studio vision is to create experiences that have a positive and lasting impact on people’s lives. As we look ahead to our future, we know that joining the WWS family gives us the best opportunities to fully achieve that vision on a much larger scale. Further, we believe that Sony shares a similar vision to positively impact players’ lives, their employees’ lives, and the games industry at large.” Under the terms of the acquisition, Insomniac’s structure and approach will remain intact across both Burbank, Calif. and Durham, N.C. studios.
Sphero Acquires littleBits in Move to Dominate EduTech Market
Sphero has acquired its fellow education technology company, littleBits. Over the past nine years, the two companies have created entirely new categories of hands-on learning tools that enable invention and STEAM education through play and technology. Combined, they have reached more than six million students and 65,000 teachers across 35,000 schools globally—and have sold more than $500 million in Sphero robots and littleBits kits. Through this acquisition, Sphero becomes the largest player in its market. With a comprehensive offering of hardware, software, curriculum, and training, it is positioned to shape the $150 billion education technology industry. Sphero, with the addition of the littleBits line, will now feature a portfolio of more than 140 patents in robotics, electronics, software, and the Internet of Things. Teachers will have access to hundreds of thousands of community-generated inventions and activities, and more than a thousand lessons tied to NGSS, CSTA and Common Core standards. Sphero and littleBits will also rally their networks of distinguished educators around the world that they’ve cultivated through their ambassador programs – with more than 67 Sphero Heroes and 50 littleBits Bitstar Educators. With this deal, Sphero plans to accelerate international growth and acquire other products and companies to further expand its portfolio of STEAM products and tools. The company will have offices in Boulder, New York, and Hong Kong with Paul Berberian as CEO. Ayah Bdeir will be moving on from littleBits to pursue her next adventure.
Crunchyroll, Bandai Namco Launch Cross-Platform IP Experience
Bandai Namco Entertainment (BNE) and Crunchyroll entered a strategic partnership to give fans a 360 experience with their favorite character IPs, which will include animation, games, comics, and more. This alliance combines BNE’s expertise on network content development and Crunchyroll’s direct connection to the anime community and robust platform services knowledge, providing a seamless anime and gaming entertainment experience for all. As a first step in this partnership, BNE’s web and mobile game Naruto X Boruto Ninja Tribes will roll out to Crunchyroll users in the U.S. this winter. Naruto X Boruto Ninja Tribes is based on the Naruto and Boruto anime series, and brings together characters spanning multiple generations of both franchises for one-tap team-based battles. Crunchyroll fans who enjoy the anime series of the same IP on its platform can find and instantly play Naruto X Boruto Ninja Tribes directly from Crunchyroll.com. BNE plans to launch the game to additional territories in the future.
14 tfe October 2019
INDUSTRY FORUM TOY ASSOCIATION
Help Deliver Play to Kids in Need in All 50 States
KRISTIN MORENCY GOLDMAN, THE TOY ASSOCIATION
elp bring magical moments and smiles to children in need of comfort and support this holiday season by donating your toys and games to Holiday Toys Across America, a new initiative launched by The Toy Foundation in partnership with Delivering Good. Beginning now and leading up to the holiday season, toys will be distributed to all 50 states and the District of Columbia, impacting thousands of children in low-income and disadvantaged communities. “All children, no matter their circumstance in life, deserve the opportunity to play. It’s through play that children relieve stress and find comfort, strengthen bonds with loved ones, and build critical skills for academic success,” says Jean Butler, executive director of The Toy Foundation. “We are so excited to launch this important initiative and reach kids in every corner of the country, but we can’t do it without the toy community’s help.” Holiday Toys Across America will culminate December 4 with a special event and flagship toy distribution co-hosted by Variety–The Children’s Charity of Detroit in Southfield, MI. More than 500 kids and teens, ages 2–16, will enjoy a fun-filled day of play and receive brand-new toys at the event. Media, legislators, and local toy company representatives and volunteers will be in attendance to lend a hand in the toy distribution and participate in the celebration of play, which will include appearances by Santa Claus and Paws, the Detroit Tigers mascot; activities including face-painting, bouncy houses, and carnival games; and refreshments such as cotton candy, pizza, and hot dogs. Event sponsors include Target, Domino’s Pizza, City of Southfield, and Franks, among others. Adds Butler, “the special day of play will cap off this initiative and encapsulate the important work and generosity of the toy industry and The Toy Foundation, which together work year-round to bring happiness into the lives of children in need.” Toy companies, distributors, and retailers that want to pitch in and donate product for Holiday Toys Across America, or have a presence at the December event, may contact Elizabeth Max, senior foundation manager of The Toy Foundation (firstname.lastname@example.org).
16 tfe October 2019
“All children, no matter their circumstance in life, deserve the opportunity to play,” — Jean Butler, executive director of The Toy Foundation
REMINDER: The Great Toy Giveaway Still Needs Your Support! Companies located in California, Florida, Illinois, New York, and New Jersey are encouraged to donate product to The Toy Foundation’s “Great Toy Giveaway” and reach underserved children in their own communities. In partnership with Kids for Peace, thousands of toys will be delivered to schools in the abovementioned states, where students will be guided to identify needs within their own communities and bring smiles to children who are less fortunate than they are. Visit GreatKindnessChallenge.org/GreatToyGiveaway to learn more, or visit TheToyBank. org to make a donation. (All toy companies, regardless of location, are invited to donate to this cause).
The Toy Foundation (TTF) is a 501©3 children’s charity whose mission is to provide joy and comfort to children in need through the experience of toys and play. TTF serves children who are coping with serious illness, enduring temporary home placements in the foster care system, suffering from abuse or neglect, experiencing separation from a deployed military parent, or dealing with devastating natural disasters. To date, TTF’s signature program, The Toy Bank, has provided more than $225 million in toys to over 26 million children in need around the globe, thanks to its generous toy donors.
INDUSTRY FORUM ASTRA
Tariffs & Toys: Navigating Through Tough Times KIMBERLY MOSLEY, ASTRA PRESIDENT
t is unlikely that independent toy manufacturers, sales representatives, and retailers will ever forget the summer of 2019. While the outcome of the all-important fourth quarter remains to be seen, most members of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) been impacted significantly by the economic whiplash of onagain, off-again, increased or maybe not, accelerated and delayed tariffs on toys manufactured in China.
tomers. Better yet, invite them to your location to take pictures or shoot video to support their story. We always say this at holiday time, and this year it’s true for more general business reasons. Your store is colorful and photogenic and full of everyday families and customers. Because you sell a product—toys—that generally triggers a positive emotional reaction, your shop may be a highly desirable backdrop for stories on the impact of current economic policy.
Small business response to tariffs Depending on your source, China makes an estimated 75–90 percent of the world’s toys, thanks to low labor costs and manufacturing capacity that is well suited to producing toys. This means pretty much every aspect of the American toy business—mass market or independent—will be affected by a tariff. A recent survey commissioned by San Francisco-based BizBuySell asked more than 1,700 small business owners how the U.S.-China trade relationship and 25 percent tariff on Chinese goods is changing the way they are doing business this fall. Sixty-four percent expect to raise prices in response. The remainder are looking for ways to keep their business afloat without raising prices. Twenty-five percent say they are looking for cheaper vendors, 13 percent expect to lower employee count, and 4 percent plan to lower wages. Twenty-three percent will “finance” their higher costs by taking a hit to their bottom line and 27 percent are looking for other ways to cut spending. Arguably, the small businesses that represent the bulk of our ASTRA membership will be especially impacted.
Leverage your competitive advantages. ASTRA retailers have weathered many crises over the years. What you bring to your local market is a highly customer-focused relationship with toy buyers and your ability to respond fast when change is forced on your business. Your advantage over box chains? You know your customers and you don’t have layers of hierarchy. You can make quick decisions based on the latest changes and execute. As Anita Demetropoulos, owner of the Island Treasure toy stores in Maine, says, “Back when I first started my store, I saw change as a year-to-year thing. Now we have to adapt every day to survive. That’s what nimble looks like.”
Navigating through tough tariff times The ASTRA Board of Directors and staff are monitoring the rapidly changing tariff situation. While there are varying opinions on this topic, we can all agree that this is a complicated and demanding time for the ASTRA community. Given that none of us have magic wands to see into the future or ward off the next round of uncertainty, here are ideas for responding: Use tariffs as a platform to get media coverage for your store. Reach out to business journalists and bloggers in your market and offer your perspective on what tariffs mean for your business and for your cus-
18 tfe October 2019
Show your customers the importance of supporting independents. If shoppers are worried about toy prices, it’s a great time to renew your “shop local” message. Make buying toys from you fit the values of moms and dads and grandparents who want to spend their money in ways that support their local economy. Our economy depends on small, locally-owned businesses that create jobs and play a central role in keeping the consumer dollar circulating in their communities, where it supports local services through sales tax and invests in neighborhood improvement. Independent toy store owners and the manufacturers who supply the beloved toys they sell exemplify the value that small businesses provide. We all know there are no easy ways to relieve anxiety and reduce business risk in today’s fluid political and economic environment. ASTRA will continue to share with members reliable information and resources as they become available to help them navigate through this latest challenge. No matter the challenges, ASTRA members continue to stand mighty together in our mission to change the world through the power of play.
8/28/2019 2:30:52 PM
INDUSTRY FORUM DESIGN EDGE THE DESIGNER’S PERSPECTIVE
Developing & Manufacturing Toys in the New Chinese Economy
he definition of the term China Syndrome is “a hypothetical series of events following the meltdown of a nuclear reactor, in which its core melts down through its own containment structure.” There was a movie of the same title, starring Michael Douglas, Jack Lemmon and Jane Fonda, that came out in 1979 when I was barely a tot. Recently, I caught it on a flight and not only did I find it to be a decent movie, it got me thinking about our industry and China in this time of immense world changes, both geopolitically and economically. President Richard Nixon is generally credited with opening the door to China in 1972. His meeting with Mao Zedong on February 21 of that year—during Toy Fair New York, no less—ended 25 years of acrimony between the U.S. and the People’s Republic of China. There were those who viewed it as a deflective move by Nixon to take the pressure off his mounting Watergate issues, but, in reality, it had been put into motion by Henry Kissinger long before that surfaced. Whatever one may think of those two on the other issues in those times, one must admit they knew the time had come to deal realistically with the largest population on earth. The toy industry has always been one to take up a challenge, an opportunity, and a vision. With labor rates climbing in the U.S. and the costs of manufacturing, tooling and raw materials rising, the industry was beginning to change how it operated. It was building expensive tooling in other countries, such as Portugal, and looking to source some parts outside the U.S. and integrate them into the products on the domestic manufacturing lines. The larger companies, which bought the smaller companies that were already dealing in imported toys from British Hong Kong and elsewhere, were the first to exploit the new open door. Small companies such as Illco, Playtime, Nasta, HG Toys along with many more jumped in, realizing they could exploit any existing tooling in China and integrate them into their lines. This would also allow them to build better, cheaper tooling to make better toys than had previously been thought possible. Labor, an expense in the U.S., was minimal in Mainland China and Chinese businessmen worked in conjunction with the government to build more and better plants over the years.
20 tfe October 2019
Economically, the dollar value against the Hong Kong dollar, which was the standard then, worked favorably for U.S. companies doing business there. In many cases, profits could also be sheltered there. It was a win-win situation for everyone. But the world spins and changes. Flash forward to today and we face a changing China, a China that is in some ways maturing, outreaching, and fumbling all at the same time. It’s one we in the toy industry must address as so much of our product comes from China and no longer from domestic manufacturing, which disappeared since Nixon’s trip. In order to remain in the game, toy marketeers must push every button they can to reduce prices from China sources and fight tariffs given the present world economic situation. There are new opportunities to partner up with your supplier, share expenses you would rarely ask for before, while also bargaining for better plastic material costs (in response to the substantial down trend in oil—the basic material of most toys: plastic). This will offset the costs of Chinese labor, which has been on a constant rise over the last few years. The soft world economy means less orders for the Chinese manufacturer unless he can work down his costs on printed materials and boxes. Even internal shipping rates should be challenged with the view to reduction. We have yet to see where the Trump tariffs will bring us, but all these factors must be kept in the forefront of our minds as we develop, market and manufacture new lines. Slowly, other countries are becoming more sophisticated in manufacturing and should not be ignored as the need for China to supply its own population with trendy goods in the future may weigh in on their ability to supply the toys needed all over the globe. Up-and-coming sources should be explored. There are certainly issues when dealing in China and we must deal with them. But I doubt there will be a China Syndrome, more so a healthy restructuring of how both sides work together for mutual benefit. After all, isn’t that what diplomacy is? Matt Nuccio is president of Design Edge, a New York-based graphic design and research development studio. For more information, he can be reached at email@example.com.
8/28/2019 2:50:35 PM
INDUSTRY FORUM WOMEN IN TOYS
Dreams Can Come True!
WIT Empowerment Day Provides Opportunity for Inventor to Launch
he toy industry attracts many inventors with great product ideas, but with limited shelf space in stores for new products, few realize their dream to launch their product. Many inventors spend years developing and reﬁning their concept to bring it to market, and this was true for Angie Cella, inventor of Blinger. Blinger is a styling device that applies temporary rhinestone, crystal or pearl gems to hair or fashion accessories. Inspiration can strike at the most unexpected times, and often, creative ideas come to us while we’re sleeping. Cella’s idea for Blinger came to her in a dream in 2014, in which she was placing gems in her hair with a ﬂat iron. When she woke up, she couldn’t shake off the dream, and after sharing the idea with her kids, she knew she had to go for it. As a single mom, and with the support of her four children, Cella sold her home to invest in her dream. A true entrepreneur, she spent time working and reﬁning her concept to get the product ready to be easily manufactured at the right price point. Her journey spanned four years, including rejections from Shark Tank and three unsuccessful Kickstarter campaigns. She invested in tooling, working with three engineers before the fourth engineer created a viable prototype. She focused on improving her product design, deﬁning a price point, and creating packaging. When she was ﬁnally ready, she booked a booth at Toy Fair Dallas in 2018 to pitch her product to retailers. She passionately pursued her idea and worked hard to make it a reality, even though she had little knowledge about the toy industry and no experience developing or launching a product. But with prototype in hand, and with every intention of launching Blinger on her own, Cella was ready to pitch. What she wasn’t quite ready for was how her experience at WIT Empowerment Day would change the course of her Blinger journey, or life as she knew it. Just days before leaving for Dallas last October, Cella learned about opportunities to pitch Walmart buyers at WIT Empowerment Day, an event she hadn’t heard of until then. She applied for a Walmart pitch slot, and on a whim, she also registered to pitch toy companies. At the time, she knew nothing about licensing a product and thought the toy company pitches would just be good practice to prepare for the Walmart pitch. As fate would have it, her dream came true as a result of Empowerment
22 tfe October 2019
Day, where she was mentored by industry experts, pitched toy companies and Walmart buyers, and ﬁrst met Michael Rinzler, co-president of Wicked Cool Toys. Cella knocked her pitch to Wicked Cool out of the park. As Rinzler would tell it, “The minute I met Angie, it felt electric. She was so passionate about her product.” Following Empowerment Day, their conversation continued and Cella licensed Blinger to Wicked Cool. In mere months, it is now a manufactured product, launching in all major U.S. retailers, including Target, Walmart, Amazon, and more; traditional specialty stores including Justice and Claire’s; and distributed in 35 countries including Germany, Poland, and Korea. Recently, Cella shared her thoughts about her experience at WIT Empowerment Day, saying, “I learned so much that it was like earning my MBA in one day. WIT and Empowerment Day played a huge part of being successful on my journey. If you have a dream, you should get to Empowerment Day. The support you get is priceless. All the people you need to meet are there in this one room in one day.” For the past seven years, WIT Empowerment Day has provided women entrepreneurs and business owners direct access to decision makers, mentoring from toy industry veterans, and informative panels about developing and launching a play product. Women-owned businesses seeking to grow their retail presence have had the opportunity to pitch their product directly to Walmart’s toy buying team. Inventors show their concepts to major toy companies, which evaluate concepts for licensing while providing valuable insights. Cella’s dreams are now coming true. Deb de Sherbinin, co-chair of the WIT Empowerment Day, is founder and president of KidSmart and Perk Consulting. With more than 25 years experience in the toy industry, she offers innovative thinking, marketplace savvy and strategic direction to entrepreneurs and companies to grow their consumer product lines. To learn more about WIT Empowerment Day, visit www.womenintoys.com.
h e K it t t T
agical p ha al , al , and wa h i ails!
New Addition to These Top Sellers!
Toy Fair Dallas 2019 October 2-4, 2019 Dallas Market Center Level 13, Booth 3424 firstname.lastname@example.org | (888) 883-1885 | www.cuddle-barn.com
8/28/2019 2:51:38 PM
INDUSTRY FORUM INVENIAM CAPITAL PARTNERS
For the Work Force, It is a-Changin’ JOHN W. BRADY
pologies to Bob Dylan, who couldn’t have imagined the kinds of changes we’re seeing in the world today. If you’ve read my columns in TFE over the past two years, you know as a marketer and past president of toy and juvenile products companies, I watch for trends that could affect the toy business. The things that impact us most these days are either product trends, consumer trends, or some combination of both. Employment trends, however, are like few other trends, and will affect us all—especially those running companies. Although people still talk and write about millennials, that ship has sailed. Millennials are now parents, and some even grandparents. Their kids—Gen Z—are now entering the national workforce, with the potential of making substantial changes to the workplace. Citrix, the software giant with 9,000 employees and clients that include 98 percent of all Fortune 500 companies, recently sponsored a study of 1,500 full- or part-time working respondents, equally split across four generations. They ranged from baby boomers (ages 54–72), Gen X’ers (ages 38–53), millennials (ages 22–37) to Gen Z’ers (ages 18–21). Why? I suspect that Citrix, like its client companies, wants to stay one step ahead of the trend curve as it relates to the workforce of the future. For the first time in decades, there will be four, even five, generations of people working together. Businesses need to know about those dynamics and what kinds of new elements Gen Z will bring with them to work. The study asked the group of 1,500 workers questions about their work attitudes. Among the conclusions, three Gen Z trends emerged, far different from attitudes of baby boomers and Gen X’ers, but not too far
24 tfe October 2019
from what we’ve known about millennials—only one step further. The trends: flexibility, career loyalty, and a demand for relaxed values. Let’s break it down. Choosing from a list of 22 popular employee benefits, Gen Z chose Flexible Hours as most important, at the rate of about 3:1 over the next four: Free Healthcare, Bonuses, Working Remotely or Employee Discount. One comment in support was “Focus on the results employees produce rather than on how they get it done.” Like millennials, they value a balanced lifestyle that gives them weekends off and “reasonable” working hours. Unlike boomers, who might meet at the office on weekend mornings to prep a big presentation, Z’ers may opt to work virtually at a Starbucks to get the job done. As with flexibility, Gen Z’s concept of loyalty is somewhat unconventional. Fifty-nine percent of Gen Z’ers define ‘long-term employment’ as one and four years. Free agency has migrated from the NFL to the mainstream labor market, and it could change the nature of how we view traditional positions and job assignments in the future. Some years back I accepted a position to turn around a West Coast toy company. I pitched the PE owners on moving the company out of business-hostile California to a less expensive yet equally talent-rich state—until I learned about the value of “tribal knowledge.” Tribal knowledge keeps the lights on, machines operating, and the product moving during times of transition. It can be overcome and replaced by a new, talented team, but the opportunity cost is time, lost investment as well as product and revenue continuity during the move. Imagine that becoming a never-ending problem, if your labor force is turning over every few years. I’ve found that a toy business professional doesn’t hit full stride until they’ve been on the job for almost a year. If turnover becomes a constant, what will that mean to staffing and performance standards? Finally, more than half of Gen Z respondents felt that a manager’s decision isn’t final and should be open to challenge. Big or small, an organization needs a final decision-maker. There’s a reason why winning teams have Coaches. I suggest we check back in a few years and find out how well this strategy is working for them.
John W. Brady is director and business consultant Inveniam Capital Partners, a block-chain based investment bank. He specializes in CPG businesses with an emphasis on the toy and juvenile products segment.
9/4/2019 2:54:16 PM
Screen-Free, Coding-Focused, and Child-Led: Toymakers Continue to Help Kids Get Excited about STEM
ith more parents encouraging their kids to build science, engineering, math and technology skills, the Toy Association is taking more steps to better deﬁne the characteristics of STEM toys and provide guidelines for toymakers. Toymakers, meanwhile, are also striving to teach kids computational thinking skills without using a screen in reaction to parents often limiting their kids’ screen time.
DEFINING STEM In its latest report, STEM/STEAM Formula for Success, the Toy Association outlines 14 unifying characteristics of STEM toys and how they can help kids master the skills necessary to pursue a STEM-related career. “We were walking down the aisles of Toy Fair [New York], and so many different toys were labeled as ‘STEM.’ It seemed like it was the wild west without a lot of guidance or guardrails around it,” says Ken Seiter, the Toy Association’s executive vice-president of marketing communications. Based on insights from experts in scientiﬁc laboratories, research facilities, professional associations and academic environments, the Toy Association determined that STEM/STEAM toys need to stimulate both sides of the brain and incorporate logic and reasoning, as well as trigger a fun feeling in kids. The other unifying characteristics include being open-ended, relating to the real world, allowing for trial and error, being hands-on, child-led, problem-solving, building conﬁdence, and being gender neutral. “We hope to see more and more incorporation of STEM ideas and principles into school curriculum and utilization of some of these toys to help teach those ideas,” Seiter says. STEM toys should also incorporate curriculum to help parents feel conﬁdent in teaching these subjects to their kids. In a survey of more than 2,000 parents, the Toy Association found that parents sometimes found these toys intimidating, especially after their kids had a stronger mastery of technology than they did. 26 tfe October 2019
Learning Resources’ Coding Critters
Thames & Kosmos (T&K) continues to respond to the needs of parents and kids by making the manuals that accompany its kits as straightforward, digestible, and fun as possible. “The importance of STEM and the presence of technology in the world, in general, is a relatively new phenomenon,” says Andrew Quartin, CEO of T&K. “As a result, children are exposed to it more than their parents ever were. We include examples of real-life applications so that kids and their parents can more easily identify and relate to the theories and concepts at-hand.” While building and construction continue to be popular and classic STEM toy categories, there’s a growing number of craft and science activity kits that can also serve as fun tools for comprehending STEM and STEAM principles, says Carolann Dunn, vice-president of consumer products, licensing at Discovery. “Parents should look for toys that are age appropriate and have the right balance between fun and problem-solving. A good STEM toy engages kids, ignites their imagination, and satisﬁes their curiosity,” she says. SCREEN-FREE PLAY Many toys use computers or tablets to teach coding, but kids tend to have a shorter attention span in front of a computer, tend to gravi-
tate toward a trial-and-error approach without thinking through options, and get frustrated by anything they can’t solve in a few clicks, says Mark Engelberg, inventor of Code Master and Hacker games from ThinkFun which teach coding logic and sequential thinking. Researchers in Brazil backed up this observation in a report presented in the International Journal of Innovation Education and Research, ﬁnding that kids who engaged in 10 hours of unplugged computer science activities demonstrated stronger computational thinking skills than students who took a 12week online coding course. “Physical, tactile games create an environment where kids will engage in patient, careful thought,” Engelberg says. “The most fundamental coding skill that underlies all computational thinking is the ability to step through an algorithm mentally, simulating the computer’s execution of a program in your mind’s eye.” T&K’s Quartin also notes that research has shown preschoolers especially learn faster from physically manipulating objects. “Physical engagement not only enhances their understanding of a speciﬁc subject, but it also enables them to connect with the world around them. It is our ﬁrm belief that this connection empowers children to grow up to be inquisitive adults, creative thinkers, and engaged citizens,” he says. Learning Resources’ Coding Critters, for example, engage preschoolers in using coding to help a dog, cat, or dinosaur navigate through storybook-based activities including playing hide-and-seek, fetch, or feeding their pets. “Coding is like a language, and Coding Critters use a very simple vocabulary of
commands,” says Michael Blaustein, product manager for Learning Resources. “Kids may start out simply learning how to build a code to make their critters move forward and use a turn or two. As they become more familiar with this language, they’ll gain the conﬁdence and ability to build codes to make their pets race around their playhouse, or even navigate through a homemade obstacle course.” FOCUSED TO A ‘T’ Using screen-based learning isn’t all bad though, and, toymakers and brand owners can serve as resources for educators to create a balanced and fun STEM curriculum. Companies such as LEGO, HEXBUG, and K’NEX (Basic Fun!) have long offered educational lines. Now more companies are adding on to the mix with a focus on tech. littleBits, now owned by Sphero, launched its littleBits Classroom initiative earlier this year, and others such as Kano and Tech Will Save Us offer lesson plans. Even Mattel’s Barbie partnered with coding education company Tynker last year. SmartGurlz, which makes STEM-focused coding toys geared for girls, partnered with STEM solutions provider Pitsco Education to launch a new Smart Buddies 2019 line featuring female characters who navigate on self-balancing, programmable scooters called Siggys. Kids are introduced to block-based coding by controlling the characters’ movement on their Siggys. The new line is supported by a curriculum that focuses on increasing diversity awareness for third- to ﬁfth-grade students throughout the U.S. and Canada. “Smart Buddies combines children’s play
patterns including role playing, creativity, and fantasy with classroom computer science curriculum,” says Sharmi Albrechtsen, founder of SmartGurlz. “With its focus on storytelling combined with engaging coding challenges, students become immersed in the day and life of their buddy’s back story while also learning language arts, science, and mathematics.” Likewise, Discovery released its #MINDBLOWN app earlier this year to supplement its own STEM-focused brand, aiming to teach kids about animals, dinosaurs, space and planets, machines, and robotics through a combination of ﬁve-minute video clips, minigames, and text facts. The app even includes an AR feature that uses 3-D visualization to show objects from different angles and access spaces such as the inside of the Mars Rover. This spring, Discovery began selling packs of cards that can be scanned to view even more objects. “When we created the Discovery #MINDBLOWN app, we knew from the start that we needed a new and disruptive content platform and to create something more than just a grid of videos on a screen that you can scroll through,” says Matt Bonaccorso, director, marketing and digital products at Discovery. “We wanted to make it interactive and fun, combining online/ofﬂine efforts —and gamifying some of today’s most exciting topics.”
October 2019 tfe 27
SMARTGURLZ’ SMART BUDDIES
Screen-Free, Coding-Focused, and Child-Led While STEM/STEAM originated as a buzz term meant to promote the importance of these 21st Century skills for today’s kids and future American workforce, it’s evolved into a marketing tool that’s become more confusing than helpful for today’s parents to decipher what are truly STEM toys in the marketplace. Luckily, the industry is taking steps to address this, and the companies below represent a sampling of true STEM toys.
With the FISHER-PRICE CODE ‘N LEARN KINDERBOT, preschoolers enter different codes to control their robot friend’s movements. It comes to life with lights and phrases, offering coding challenges that teach about early math concepts, colors, shapes, and more. It offers three ways to play, a secret code book, and four machine accessories to expand the play.
THAMES & KOSMOS’ AIR-WALKER is a robot that deﬁes gravity. Designed for ages 8 and up, this four-legged bot uses a system of suction cups and pumps to crawl along smooth, vertical surfaces like windows. A follow-up to the Geckobot STEM experiment kit, Air-Walker uses technology similar to that found in its reptilian predecessor, but with easier assembly.
28 tfe October 2019
BOTZEES is the latest smart toy from Pai Technology, combining virtual and hands-on play. Botzees is a new robotics kit for kids, ages 4 and up, that combines creativity, construction, and coding. Kids can build, program, and code six different pre-designed robots or choose to create their own with the specially designed blocks that come with the kit.
From Fat Brain Toys comes the SURPRISE RIDE DIGITAL DETOX STEM ACTIVITY SUBSCRIPTION BOX, invented by sisters Donna and Rosy Khalife and featured on Shark Tank. Each kit includes a custom book full of surprise facts, real-world photos and fun jokes, a one-of-a-kind collectible, and kid-friendly learning materials.
THE LEARNING JOURNEY’S CODE AND LEARN SPACE SHIP helps kids learn sequencing, directions, problem-solving, and logic. The coding card deck will challenge kids to ﬁnd the right path through the color grid map by using the remote-controlled light up space ship. They will know they have reached the right place when the cockpit of the space ship lights up in the color of the mat square it lands on. Kids can also drive the space ship around for freewheeling fun.
LEAPFROG’S LEAPBUILDERS line of smart building blocks combine building and learning with the unique electronic Smart Star cube and double-sided learning blocks. When a learning block is inserted into the interactive Smart Star, it responds with sound effects, educational songs, and learning content such as colors, numbers, letters, and more to create a uniquely engaging play experience. Children can also use blocks from other LeapBuilders sets to unlock additional responses.
Part of Elenco’s new TEACH TECH product line, MECH-5! is a mission-based STEM coding robot with a mechanical coding wheel, instead of a computer. Mech-5 is “unplugged”, which is a new concept of coding without a computer or app. Just snap coding buttons onto the coding wheel to initiate movement such as forward, backward, turn, spin, or pause.
MAGFORMERS MILO’S MANSION SET lets kids use Magformers Magnetic Rainbow shapes, the Milo puppy character, and accessories to create and decorate Milo’s Mansion puppy house. Build along with the step-by-step instructions and develop color and shape recognition, ﬁne motor skills and problem-solving ability.
October 2019 tfe 29
: Going for High Note at Retail In August, Kids2 rebranded (formerly Kids II), launched a new e-commerce site, and announced its ﬁrst fully-owned manufacturing facility, which is under construction in China. It’s also added new hires that reﬂect its increased investment on aligning its customer and consumer services, and partnerships that co-imagine and deliver new and unique products in the baby and toddler space. One such partnership is a collaboration with Hape that expands the companies’ co-branded Baby Einstein and Hape wooden musical toy line. TFE chatted with Karen Neblett, Kids2’s senior vice-president of customer and strategic partnerships, about this new joint venture. TFE: How did this collaboration ﬁrst come about and how does it ﬁt its Kids2’ forward-looking strategy? At Kids2, we look for strategic, like-minded partners that add unique value to what we are trying to accomplish—designing holistic solutions for early stage parents—and a deﬁned value that we can provide to that partner. We reached out to Hape because its market leadership in the wooden toy space intrigued us. The idea was that by leveraging each of our strengths, Kids2 and Hape could co-create a premium collection that delivers a unique play experience for consumers at a great value. We call this “Magic Touch.” Collaborating with Hape to create something truly unique is an example of the strategic direction we are taking Kids2. At Kids2, we strive to deliver tiny wins and bright futures to kids and families across the globe. Having global partners like Hape makes this more achievable. Collaborations like this not only deliver disruptive innovation to traditional toys, but partnerships that drive incremental opportunities. As industries continue to change, this type of partnership allows us to not only survive but thrive. TFE: Why did you focus on the musical toy space? Our market research showed us that parents have an afﬁnity for nostalgic toys, place a high value on music and creativity, and desire more toy choices. A review of the market showed available toy options forced parents to choose between either traditional wood toys or feature-driven plastic toys. With the knowledge of the importance music plays in child development, we narrowed in
30 tfe October 2019
Magic Touch Ukulele
on the musical toy space and noticed that much of the products are largely made of plastic. We saw an opportunity to make quality musical toys in a timeless design and include technology. TFE: We see more music educational properties popping up. Why does the Baby Einstein brand continue to resonate with parents and kids? Inspiring curiosity in children and their parents through creativity, exploration, and discovery is the core purpose of Baby Einstein. Parents relate because they recognize the importance of curiosity in the long-term development of children. Last year, in conjunction with Wakeﬁeld Research, we discovered fostering curiosity in babies and children is a role parents ﬁnd very signiﬁcant. Ninety-four percent of parents believe the more curious children are, they are more likely to be successful as adults. Nearly all parents (97 percent) agree that curious children excel beyond less curious children. Music is one of the ways curiosity is developed and expressed. Music has been a core part of the Baby Einstein brand from the very beginning when we brought classical music to a generation of infants. Today, with Magic Touch technology, curiosity leads another generation of children to discover how to create music in a new and surprising way, with no buttons or strings. TFE: We talk a lot about the thoughtful application of tech with classic play. How did you work to merge Hape’s classic wooden toys with Kids2’s Magic Touch electronic capabilities and ﬁnd that balance? Kids2 and Hape take a similar approach to lasting quality and sophisticated design. Our focus is to keep wood as the predominate feature and maintain a streamlined classic style while subtly adding technology-based beneﬁts. The Magic Touch approach allows a ﬂat touch pad, with no buttons or keys, that blends seamlessly with the wood-based instrument. The result is a blend of classic wood with a touch of technology that excites but does not overwhelm. TFE: Where can consumers ﬁnd the products at retail and what markets are you focusing on? The Magic Touch products can be found at most retailers: Walmart, Target, Amazon, Buy Buy Baby, and Kids2.com. We are selling the line globally with a key focus on North America, Europe and China. Our newest product just hit the market for the holiday selling season. We will continue to grow our product portfolio. Our next product launch will premiere fall 2020.
9/3/2019 9:54:35 AM
Toy Unboxing 2.0
Unwrapping Profits & Consumer Loyalty
hoever thought that watching another kid open a toy would be big business? Yet, the phenomenon of unboxing continues to take center stage in the toy industry. In recent years, unboxing has transitioned from a “seasonal pleasure, to an online fad, to a powerful e-commerce marketing tool,” according to BigCommerce, a top e-commerce online resource. Today’s children live vicariously through popular digital inﬂuencers— many of them children themselves—as they unveil the newest products, collectibles, and toys with theatrics and a down-home delivery that has kids tuning in worldwide. Unboxing has contributed to major changes in the way toys are packaged. Packaging is no longer an after-thought but an integral part of the conception and development of a product. Slime, confetti, dough, fabric and other tactile packaging materials have become as much a part of the play as the actual toy. As marketers look for new ways to reach kids in this highly competitive digital marketplace, anticipation, excitement, and the element of surprise is the name of the game and unboxing is a trend that appears to be here to stay. THE INFLUENCE OF INFLUENCERS Unboxing seems more friendly and believable than traditional advertising and “everyday” people have taken on celebrity status as unboxers. Kids relate to these digital inﬂuencers, who they perceive as friends. There’s a familiarity and an aspirational desire to become inﬂuencers themselves. Eight-year-old Ryan, of Ryan ToysReview is a rock star in the ﬁeld, whose YouTube fame led to his own Nickelodeon series, Ryan’s Mystery Playdate, recently renewed for its second season. In 2017, his pretax income was more than $22 million, according to Forbes, and that ﬁgure has likely increased. [Editor’s Note: Read more on how inﬂuencers are becoming the toys themselves on page 38]. Inﬂuencer marketing is also more targeted and more likely to give a
32 tfe October 2019
brand credibility because of its third party endorsement, according to experts, who also say that video-sharing has created new target audiences for marketers. According to Andy Wiseman, CEO at Redwood Ventures, the company behind collectibles such as Foodie Surprise (unboxing toys you can eat), while the company still places an emphasis on product innovation, product must also be appealing and lend itself to unboxing. “We need to come up with a compelling way of reaching inﬂuencers so our products stand out in a very crowded marketplace,” he says. “Recently, we worked with a major inﬂuencer on the ﬁrst unboxing video for Foodie Surprise and within days it reached three million views. That’s an incredible way to launch a new brand.” Ashley Mady, head of brand development for Basic Fun!, agrees. The company launched Cutetitos by sending 50 branded boxes to different inﬂuencers throughout the industry. Each box contained a complete experience including three Cutetitos, a “Pepper Pledge,” and a giant burrito blanket for unboxers to wrap themselves up in. For its newest Cutetitos extension, Babitos, Basic Fun! followed a similar model—giving inﬂu-
encers a gender reveal party in a box. Mady says, “From a loyalty perspective, most unboxers become avid brand champions, so their commitment to our company and our products help children around the world connect with our line. Through unboxings, our various reviewers can help inspire new ways of play.” MORE ELEMENTS OF SURPRISE MGA Entertainment’s L.O.L. Surprise! set the bar when it launched its ﬁrst multi-surprise unboxing toys based on kids’ digital viewing habits. Since then the company has launched new series, extensions, and off-shoots such as Poopsie Slime Surprise, Pop Pop Hair Surprise, and more. Likewise, other companies have followed suit, expanding on the amount of surprises they can pack inside each unboxing experience. Both Spin Master’s Hatchimals and Awesome Bloss’ems are packed with hidden surprises and this fall, its Hatchimals CollEGGtibles will receive the royal treatment. “For the ﬁrst time ever, kids will even discover special accessories in the egg,” says Spin Master’s Tammy Smitham, vice-president of communications and CSR “We are also excited to introduce the Hatchimals Secret Surprise and Mega Secret Surprise eggs. These are the ultimate Hatchimals unboxing experiences with layers of hidden features to hatch or peel and reveal to discover tons of surprises inside.” Moose has been another leader in the unboxing experience since the introduction of Shopkins in 2014, says Alexandra Ries, senior vice-president and head of U.S. marketing and strategy, Moose Toys. Its newest collectible doll line, Capsule Chix, hit shelves in August combining unboxing with customizable fashion doll play. “We’ve combined a reusable
gachapon machine, a dispenser that’s huge in Japan, which delivers capsules that contain pieces kids use to build their very own fashion doll,” Ries says. “With more than four billion unique combinations to create completely customizable looks, we’re delivering a brand-new experience with the toy and the way the product is unboxed.” PACKAGING AS PLAY In addition to the amount of unboxings a toy offers, toymakers are also elevating and better incorporating the packaging into the play. Notes Basic Fun!’s Mady, “Now the unboxing experience is being built into packaging, sometimes alleviating the need to even send your product out in a branded box.” The element of surprise is key for YULU’s Pop Pops brand, says YULU Co-Owner Jochem van Rijn, who likens the toy unboxing experience to that of subscription boxes and gender reveals. “It combines bubble-wrap popping, slime, and collectible characters for the ultimate play pattern,” he says. “Kids pop the bubble and sift through icky, gooey, or ﬂuffy slime to get to the collectible character. Some Pop Pops bubbles have a character, some don’t, but it’s all part of the surprise for kids.” This fall, the company introduced the Pop Pops Snotz Slime Slammer Hammer. “We wanted to add to the excitement of Pop Pops and give kids a new way to ‘pop’ all the bubbles,” says van Rijn. “Just like Pop Pops, we wanted different elements of fun all within one product. With the Hammer, they can smash their Pop Pops, and then disconnect the handle and use the plastic syringe to suck up and squirt out slime. Gross, right?” Kids can store their collectibles characters inside the handle for additional play later.
Moose Toys has also introduced an element of dig-through play to the unboxing experience with Treasure X, ﬁrst with an excavation-style unboxing and expanding to a slime-ﬁlled dissection-style unboxing with its Treasure X Aliens, which launched in July. The idea behind it: Kids rescue a collectible treasure hunter from the belly of an alien, pulling out slime and ooze to discover which character they’ve rescued plus a secret treasure. Less slimy, yet equally satisfying companies such as Skyrocket Toys (Bloom dolls) and Spin Master (Awesome Bloss’ems) help bloom and blossom their surprise characters. “Each season we are introducing unique unboxing techniques more and more into our packaging to really bring the magic and to surprise and delight kids the moment they receive the new toy,” says Spin Master’s Smitham. “With Awesome Bloss’ems the unboxing experience is the biggest surprise. Open the decorative ﬂower pot to reveal the Awesome Bloss’ems seed, sparkle soil and leaf watering spoon. To bring your surprise doll to life, you must plant the colorful seed in the pot and cover it with the magical sparkle soil. Make a wish and add water to watch your doll grow. Kids can use the packaging to play and display their new ﬂoral collectible doll.” Spin Master is also incorporating the packaging further into the play experience with its Hatchimals Wow, which allows kids to continuously repeat the hatching experience with its reusable egg. “Kids, well all of us, love surprises,” says Redwood’s Wiseman. “We love watching videos of people having fun, and we love sharing videos of ourselves having fun, especially with our kids. It’s a magical combination that has fueled the success of unboxing videos.”
October 2019 tfe 33
With RYAN’S WORLD SUPER SURPRISE SAFE
FROM JUST PLAY, there are more than 30 surpris-
es to discover. Use the push-and-reveal doors to open, use the Ryan’s World sledgehammer to get to another layer of surprises, and then decode and discover more surprises with special glasses. Surprises include stickers, ooze and mix-ins, an egg blaster, mini ﬁgures, and more. For ages 3 and up.
JUST PLAY’S HAIRDORABLES SERIES 3 dolls offer new ways to get that big hair play. Color, crimp, or curl your doll’s hair. It all depends on which hair tool you unbox. There are 39 dolls in series 3, each with 11 surprises (shoes, three stickers, an accessory, a doll stand, a hair extension, a signature card, a hair tool, and the doll in her outﬁt). There are Signature, Slumber Party, Dance Party, and Outdoor Fun dolls all with different rarities, including the ultra rare Gnarly Brit doll. For ages 5 and up.
34 tfe October 2019
What mysteries will you unbox when you open the FGTEEV SEASON 1 GIANT TEEV FROM BONKERS TOYS? Open up the red TVshaped box to ﬁnd one of six mini ﬁgures, one of eight squishy ﬁgures, one of six big ﬁgs, a plush with sound, one of six ﬂashlights, four of 16 stickers, and one of eight hanger plush. The toys are all based on animated characters from the channel, including Gurkey Turkey. For ages 5 and up.
Discover 12 levels of adventure with MOOSE TOYS’ TREASURE X ALIENS. Inside the “crystal” tube, an alien specimen is ready for dissection. Use the x-tool to help remove the alien from the crystal, and use the included map as a guide for the quest. The x-tool helps open the alien’s stomach, pulling out the rib cage and lots of slimy ooze. Inside, there’s an alien ﬁgure with weapon, critter, and treasure. There are 18 aliens to collect, three different critters, and 18 regular treasures. For ages 5 and up.
Unboxing continues to be a big driver in the toy aisle, and toymakers have upped their unboxing game with even more surprises to reveal and making the packaging more integral and just as reusable as the toys hidden inside them. Additionally, more unboxers are becoming the toys.
BLUME FROM SKYROCKET is a line of collectible dolls hidden in ﬂowerpots. Use the watering can, a few drops of water to the top of the pot is all it takes for the doll to start growing out of the pot. Each doll has a big hairstyle that looks like gems, a rainbow, and more. Open up the ﬂowerpot, which doubles as a playset, to ﬁnd 10 additional surprises such as accessories, mix-and-match outﬁts, a pet, and more. Hairstyles can even be mixed and matched. There are 22 dolls to collect in series one, including adorable, rare, super rare, and mystical.
TIC TAC TOYS XOXO FRIENDS MULTI PACK SURPRISE #1 FROM BLIP TOYS offers 12 unique packs to collect in series one. Follow the numbers marked on the boxes to unbox eight different surprises hidden inside. Each XOXO Friends collectible comes with colorful wings and accessories that are swappable with all of the other XOXO Friends. The line is based on the Check out the Tic Tac Toy’s YouTube channel.
New from MGA is the Walmart-exclusive WHAT’S IN MY PURSE SURPRISE DOLL PURSE collection. Each doll-shaped purse is packed with surprises that match its mood. Pictured is Pinkie Swear. Inside, ﬁnd a surprise lip gloss and puzzle erasers. Scratch off the surprise scratcher to learn more about the character. Each doll purse comes with a detachable metal chain.
YULU’S POP POPS line brings together the fun of bubble popping, slime, and collectibles. For gross-out fun, there’s Pop Pops Snotz, and for more cutesy collectibility, there’s Pop Pops Pets. As you pop each bubble, you’ll ﬁnd slime, but you’ll also ﬁnd four hidden characters. In each series, there are common, rare, super rare, and special edition characters to collect. An included collector’s guide helps you keep track of the 60 characters available.
REDWOOD VENTURES FOODIE SURPRISE YOLKIES are collectible toys that include slime you can eat. Inside each yolkies package is a candy slime “egg white,” gummy yolk, and an egg yolk character with surprise costume. There are 12 yolkies to collect in season one. Additional products in the line include mini mystery food carts with surprise ingredients to make your own edible candy.
October 2019 tfe 35
STATE OF THE
Analyzing the Future of Play BY JENNIFER
hen Hasbro put out its Millennial edition of Monopoly, in which players make their way around the board collecting experience points, it elicited mixed reviews. Hasbro did, however, get one thing right: for today’s consumer—millennials in particular— experience matters. More importantly, for today’s toymakers and retailers, this generation of young parents consider experience, sometimes even more so than price and assortment, to be the most important factor in their shopping and buying experience—regardless of channel. According to global market research by Accenture on the shopping behaviors of 6,000 consumers, of which 1,707 were millennials, across eight countries, millennials’ spending is projected to grow to $1.4 trillion annually, beginning in 2020, and represent 30 percent of total retail sales. Sixty-eight percent of all millennials demand an integrated, seamless experience that transitions effortlessly from smartphone to personal computer to physical store in their quest for the best products and services. AT RETAIL The importance of experience at retail is rising in the minds of consumers, and a lack of focus on it can make or break a store’s overall performance. In looking back at the many factors that led to Toys “R” Us’ (TRU) bankruptcy last year, experience played a role. And it’s something parent company Tru Kids Brands is looking to change when it makes its ofﬁcial, albeit physically smaller, return this fall. The company recruited b8ta, the software-powered experiential retailer, to launch its new store experience. With a smaller footprint of about 6,500 square feet, the stores will feature interactive experiences that will continually evolve throughout the year in interactive, playground-like environments, centered around product discovery and engagement. While it’s yet to be seen how consumers will respond to TRU’s return, CAMP, which opened the doors to its ﬂagship location last fall in New York City and will expand to ﬁve locations by year’s end, is one example of an experiential toy store done right. Six months into opening, 35 percent of the retailer’s transactions were from repeat customers. A self-described family experience store, not a toy store, CAMP has set mont up a unique structure. While the front of its store is inspired by a Ver
36 tfe October 2019
LYNCH general store that co-founder and CEO Ben Kaufman (former CMO of BuzzFeed) visited as a kid, behind a secret door lies a rotating themed world ﬁlled with activities, toys for purchase, and events designed to appeal just as much to parents as kids. These range from hands-on play areas and mommy-and-me yoga sessions to music hours, cooking classes, date night drop-offs, and more. Since opening, it’s rotated through two themes, a traditional summer camp theme and a cooking camp theme. Up next: travel camp. “You come through the tunnel and you’re on an airport runway,” says Kaufman. “Then you go to London, take a train to Paris, and then you’re in Australia, Africa, and back in New York before you exit the store. It’s an around-theworld tour.” The secret door isn’t just cool for kids though, it also serves a function, allowing the retailer to keep its front store open while CAMP switches over themes. With plans to continue its national expansion in place, the retailer is also rolling out a new e-commerce site that will mirror its instore experience. “We combine planned products, and we let the kids play with the actual stuff and our website’s going to mirror that where we’re actually going to make it so that kids can play with toys on our website,” adds Kaufman. Target and Walmart are also working harder these days to create a seamless in-store and online shopping experience for its toy shoppers. Beginning October 4 (i.e. Star Wars Triple Force Friday and the ﬁrst Frozen Fan Fest), Disney kicks off a new partnership with Target with 25 permanent shop-in-shops featuring music, interactive displays, photo opportunities, and a seating area where families can watch Disney movie clips and Park events. The new shop-in-shops also feature an enhanced Disney assortment of more than 450 items, including more than 100 products that were previously only available at Disney retail locations. Walmart, meanwhile, has been teaming up with digital-ﬁrst brands that invite visitors to not only interact with their favorite content creators but play test the toys inspired by them for the ﬁrst time before buying. pocket. watch, for example, has teamed up with the retailer for in-store events around Ryan’s World and HobbyKidsTV. This year, Walmart will boost its marketing efforts around holiday 2019 by further expanding its toy assortment (a 25-percent increase in toy exclusives) and its Walmart Toy Lab, a digital playground where kids can
For everyone that ever said â&#x20AC;&#x153;I want to make a video game!â&#x20AC;?
Visi t us at boo
th #1 3-3 92 6!
www.doodlematic.com Martin@tinkdigital.com Untitled-1 1
8/28/2019 2:54:54 PM
STATE of the Industry
play with toys right from their computer or tablet. The digital experience will expand beyond featuring just toys on its Top Rated by Kids list, showcasing digital ﬂoors of dedicated brand interactions. It comes as no surprise, however, to specialty toy retailers that experience matters. It’s been the differentiating factor to their businesses for decades. Kimberly Mosley, president of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA), says one of the most signiﬁcant lessons manufacturers and larger retailers can learn is how to leverage the local advantage. “The in-store experience is paramount today,” says Mosley. “Technology has made it possible to buy almost anything with the click of a button, so why go out to a brick-and-mortar store to get things? For the experience, that’s why. The customer who is out shopping wants to have fun, feel good about her purchases, and have a picture or two worth sharing on her favorite social platform. Local stores—especially those with products worth ‘discovering’—give them that experience...In most ASTRA stores, customers get the equivalent of a personal shopper to help them make a choice that ﬁts the needs, interests, and development of a beloved child, plus free gift wrapping, plus friendly conversation.” UNDER THE INFLUENCE The power of today’s digital inﬂuencers is undeniable. “One of the most exciting parts of working with these social celebrities is their direct contact with their audience on a daily basis,” says Wicked Cool Toys’ Gerhard Runken, vice-president of marketing and brand strategy. “They can continually engage with their fans and offer something traditional entertainment properties cannot: new daily content. Consumers today—and this goes for everyone from kids to grandparents—have become accustomed to content on demand and inﬂuencers are the source for them to get it.” Today’s inﬂuencers, however, have moved beyond just being great marketing tools to becoming the toys themselves. It began with the launch of Ryan’s World based on the Ryan ToysReview channel, powered by pocket.watch last year, and has grown into an entire dedicated toy category promoted by today’s retailers. Bonkers Toys was the ﬁrst toymaker to take a chance on the trend as the ﬁrst Ryan’s World toy licensee. Now, the toymaker serves as a partner to other digital-ﬁrst brands including the gaming family channel, FGTeeV. “Inﬂuencers, social media, and gaming apps are at the core of how kids and teens are now consuming entertainment,” says Bonkers Toys’ Deborah Stallings Stumm, senior vice-president, sales and marketing. “YouTube stars and social media inﬂuencers are the new celebrities and role
38 tfe October 2019
models that are driving sales and demand for merchandise. Finding ways to integrate these new channels with popular and innovative play patterns will be essential for successful toy lines going forward.” Nickelodeon, which has also grown JoJo Siwa from a YouTube creator into a global sensation and billion-dollar retail franchise, notes that the struggle for retailers has previously been the lack of benchmarks for these types of brands’ success. “Success breeds success—it is always easier for a retail buyer to get on board with a property if it is successful in another area of the store,” says Kristi Wasmer, senior vice-president of retail development, Viacom Nickelodeon Consumer Products. The company is now looking to further expand its inﬂuencer strategy with Ryan’s Mystery Playdate (with pocket.watch) and the Mexican YouTube star La Bala. Toymakers have become more willing to take a risk on these types of brands as well. Wicked Cool Toys offers a line based on the largest social gamer with a following of more than 20 million fans, Ninja. Just Play now serves as the master toy partner for Ryan’s Mystery Playdate and HobbyKids Adventures (turn to page 74 for more on this program). Jazwares is the master toy partner for global digital entertainment brand Blippi with a toy line set to launch in 2020. And Blip Toys just rolled out a toy line based on the popular YouTube channel Tic Tac Toys. “Their journey to the top began three years ago when parents Lucy and Jason noticed their charismatic girls, Maya (six years old) and Addy (nine years old), watching unboxing videos on YouTube,” says Jenna Harlander, director of brands and marketing Blip Toys. “What started as a family-bonding experiment quickly became an entertainment powerhouse living under one roof. Fast forward to today and they’ve entertained billions of young fans with their entertaining and imaginative roleplay, acquiring a very dedicated community of followers in the process...By partnering with Tic Tac Toy, we knew we could seamlessly make the transition from digital to retail, giving kids the quality toys and fun they are looking for, backed by an inﬂuencer they know and love.” The Tic Tac Toy line has already generated buzz since launching, being named to Walmart’s 2019 Top Rated by Kids toy list for holiday. COUNTERING THE COUNTERFEITS With holiday 2019 upon us, toy safety will once again be top of mind for consumers just as much as toymakers. And unfortunately online shopping has made it easier than ever for third-party sellers and counterfeit toys to ﬂy under the radar. According to the Toy Association’s President and CEO Steve Pasierb,
STATE of the Industry
its external affairs team and IP Protection Committee continue to actively advocate for marketplace and legislative changes to reduce the ubiquity of counterfeits. “We were invited by Congress to testify on the issue, where we made it clear that counterfeits often do not meet the same safety standards as genuine toys sold through legitimate retail channels—and that this is unacceptably putting children at risk,” he says. “We will continue to press government agencies and retailers to ensure this wave of illegitimate products becomes a thing of the past.” Last holiday, the story of a young boy that fell victim to the dangers of one such counterfeit toy, a Magformers knock-off that did not meet any federal safety regulations, dominated the news. What many may not know is that Magformers had ﬁled complaints with Amazon against the counterfeiting company four times prior to the incident. This type of incident, while the most severe case, is unfortunately something Magformers and other toymakers deal with often. Earlier this year, Magformers fell victim again when its 30pc set became an Amazon June Deal of the Day. When sales started to taper off, the toymaker discovered that a third-party seller had undercut them in price to secure the Buy Now button. Products were not only knock-offs but took a huge chunk out of its proﬁts. “Over $50,000 of lost revenue for us and all we’ve got to this point from Amazon was an ‘Okay, we took them down. You proved it,’” says Magformers CEO Chris Tidwell. “It’s an e-comm issue, and it’s really only an e-comm issue where third-party platforms exist. It’s not an e-comm problem when Amazon or Target or Walmart buy directly from us and we know. It’s a big issue when you involve third-party platforms, not just selling counterfeit, but selling IP-infringing items.” Interestingly, Tidwell adds that TRU used to require a utility patent to sell (most simply require a design patent), which while more expensive is something that makes it harder for third-parties to infringe upon. In August, MGA Entertainment’s CEO Isaac Larian also took to social media to share news of a raid on the Zhuhai Tansheng Toy Factory in China that yielded more than 20,000 counterfeits of its best-selling L.O.L. Surprise! and Poopsie Surprise toy lines. “There are over 200 factories making counterfeit MGA products,” Larian wrote. “We are coming after all of them and all retailers worldwide who buy these.” #DONTTAXTOYS Some argue tariffs would force toymakers, and other companies, to bring production back to the U.S., but most experts agree this is simply
not a viable business option. In fact, it’s instead making many take a look at what other manufacturing hubs they can move their operations over to. Hasbro has already moved its production out of China, and others are looking to follow suit. Mexico, Vietnam, and India were among the most cited locations of those with whom we spoke. Jay Foreman, CEO of Basic Fun!, for one, doesn’t see any sense in bringing back manufacturing to the U.S. “There isn’t enough low-skilled labor now, and Trump is closing the borders preventing low-skilled labor to enter the country, so what’s the point?,” he says. “We are looking in India and Vietnam as well as continuing the manufacturing we are already doing here in the U.S. on our K’NEX program. However, one thing folks in our industry have to be aware of is that China is 10 times bigger than Vietnam, so if 10 percent of Chinese manufacturing was to move out of China to Vietnam, that would max production overnight. That being the case, labor and all costs would escalate to a point where all the savings would be lost. India has its own challenges from infrastructure to workplace and safety standards, so while I believe that market holds out the best prospect for expansion, it’s still a ways away.” Jeremy Padawer, co-president of Wicked Cool Toys, also points to time being the biggest challenge on the current horizon. “This is simply not something that you can ﬂip a switch and accomplish overnight,” he says. “While you might have a factory with capabilities, you don’t necessarily have the factory system – the system of factories and sub-factories that work together to maximize quality and efﬁciencies in pricing. We are aggressively looking at Vietnam, Mexico, the U.S., and more. In the longer term, there will be beneﬁts to a broader manufacturing base, but we’re all hopeful the hand isn’t forced upon us and upon the American consumer… as, in the end, there are deﬁnitively price increases that come with tariffs, despite our best efforts in sourcing.” It’s also likely consumers and smaller businesses will be impacted the most from the threatened tariffs—although larger retailers may also force cost onto all manufacturers to maintain their own in-store pricing. Learning Express’ Director of Marketing Lauren Derse says its specialty stores are already feeling some effects. “A lot of our vendors have already started increasing their prices,” she says. “While we try to keep the price increases for our customers to a minimum, it will be difﬁcult for mom-and-pops to stay in business working on such a short margin. ” As of now, a potential 15 percent tariff, impacting toys, is scheduled to go into effect December 15. Until then we’ll be watching our Twitter feeds closely, and the industry will continue to speak out on the impact.
October 2019 tfe 39
New year, new name, same mission. Previously known as Fall Toy Preview, Toy Fair Dallas kicks off another year, inviting manufacturers, buyers, sales reps and other members of the trade to get a first look at 2020 product and place any last-minute orders on Q4 holiday drivers. Across the following pages, you’ll find a small sampling of the companies exhibiting at the Dallas Market Center, October 2–4. To stay up to date on the latest announcements coming out of the show, visit anbmedia.com and subscribe to our weekly e-newsletter.
ALEX Brands ALEX D.I.Y continues to offer fashion- and trend-inspired crafts. For spring 2020 comes a new Knot-A line, with Knot-A Sequin Plush bringing the sequin-ﬂip trend to a D.I.Y. craft. Stitch on the sequin layer, along with facial features, and more. Then stuff and knot to create a sequin plush character. Create a pineapple (pictured), cupcake, or fox. ALEX SPA is all about kids expressing their inner style through hot beauty trends. A new introduction for the spring is the Hair Highlighter with two bright colors, pink and blue. This device glides on like liquid and the end result is bright. Kids can experiment with science and inspire their imagination with Scientiﬁc Explorer. Kids experience science through hands-on activities and interactive experiments. New for spring 2020 is Mix & Make Squish Balls. With two assorted styles, kids can make a squishy, sparkly slime-ﬁlled ball with mesh casing to create bubble effects when squeezed. Slinky celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2020. ALEX is launching several new products, which will be unveiled at a later date. For immediate release in spring, there’s Slinky Pets, which are cuddly plush toys with slinky bodies. These will appeal to collectors, slinky fans, and kids. The ALEX Brands family of brands also includes Ideal, Poof, Zoob, Backyard Safari, and Shrinky Dinks.
40 tfe October 2019
Beverly Hills Teddy Bear The world of Tiny Tukkins is growing with new playsets, a playhouse, and additional characters. Mystery characters, playful pals, and a lot of accessories are expected in fall 2020. This line is designed for ages 3 and up.
Ceaco/ Gamewright In Dragonrealm, players collect sets of adventurer cards in order to roll dice, which will be used to explore the mystical lands of Dragonrealm. Sneak into the Witch’s Cabin, search the Ogre’s Treehouse, or storm the Isle of Dragons. Place the majority of adventurers on a location to claim its treasure. But beware of meddling goblins, who pop up to snatch the spoils. The goal is to gather the most gold and become ruler of the realm.
Cra-Z-Art In Flying Pigs, players use included wands to catch as many ﬂying pigs as they can. The player with the most pigs/points wins. The toy pigs ﬂy within an enclosed dome using a safe, motorized fan. It’s for ages 4 and up. The Real 5-in-1 Friendship Bracelet Studio is a new twist in bracelet making as kids string, bead, and spin. Kids, ages 6 and up, can make ﬁve different trendy styles and more than 25 bracelets. This set comes with metallic beads and threads, charms, and more. The Nickelodeon Slime line has three new sets for ages 6 and up. Nickelodeon Peanut Butter and Jelly Slime Slow-Risers let kids create peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that look and smell just like the real thing. All you need to do is ﬁll it, squeeze it, and ooze it. Add sequins to make it sparkle. This set includes two slow-rising bread slices, two bags of scented pre-made slime, and one bag of sequins. Nickelodeon Pre-Made Cupcake Slime are cupcake containers ﬁlled with scented cupcake slime. This no-mess set comes with sprinkles
October 2019 tfe 41
Cuddle Barn Enchanted Wands (pictured) make magical sounds when shaken. The top of the wand features a plush animal head such as a unicorn, llamacorn, or panda bear. Sleepy Heads are colorful furry heads that are available in four animal themes: sloth, monkey, kitty, and llama. One side depicts the animal awake and the other side depicts the animal sleeping. Press the button on the sleep face side to activate sleepy sounds; press the button on the awake side to activate giggly laughter sounds. Both product lines will be available in the spring for ages 3 and up.
42 tfe October 2019
Diggin Active Diggin’s new lineup of products will keep kids active year-round. Blast the can pyramid with the Slimeball Arcade Gallery. Knock over the cans with a splat. Flinger balls stick to the cans but not the walls. Kids can shoot squishy Slimeballs up to 30 feet using the ﬂinger, or straight from their ﬁngertips with the built-in launch mechanism. The Slimeball line brings a lot of active slime fun with no mess. This comes with six stacking arcade cans, one ﬂinger launcher, and two Flinger Slimeballs. It’s for ages 6 and up. Pit Pat Mini Golf is a tabletop game that combines mini golf and billiards. Players can set up their own mini golf holes using 10 different obstacles. There are more than 100 course options. The object is to strike the ball with the cue and make it into the hole in as few shots as possible. The mini golf obstacles include a tunnel, ramps, a bridge, a volcano, and more. Designed for ages 5 and up, there is something for every age and difﬁculty level. Diggin’s Whippet takes classic throw and catch to a new performance level. Snap it to catch and whip it to throw in one continuous motion. Catch at any angle and sling it back once the ball drops into the track. Catch with a mitt and throw with a sling. An active family game for kids and adults, it comes with two Whippet mitts and one foam ball. It’s for ages 6 and up. Gear up for the ultimate snowball ﬁght with Yeti Dodgetag. The snowballs stick to the furry Yeti vest. It’s the ultimate two-player dodgeball game. Each player wears a furry Yeti vest and picks two snowballs. Players throw the soft, safe balls and try to stick them to their opponent’s vests. Designed for ages 6 and up, it includes two adjustable furry Yeti vests and four soft, safe foam “snowballs.”
Doodlematic Turn handmade images into playable games. With Doodlematic’s easy-to-use guides, kids learn game design concepts used by professionals around the world. It offers dozens of example games and challenges. Watch as drawings come to life as real mobile games on a tablet or phone. Kids can share creations on the web and be the best game designer in town.
E-Blox Lumens are a line of mini-ﬁgures that illuminate from within for at least 30 minutes with no batteries. Kids can add a glimmer to play time with these characters based on the Story Blox series from E-Blox. See Devyn the cat’s green eyes glow. Create an adventure with Seymour or Ruby, each with a glowing torso that spreads to their faces. Collectibles include Glen the dog, Robyn the robot, and Max the robot. In addition to Lumens, E-Blox introduces Power Blox Light and Flight with which kids get to discover the workings of a motor, a fan, and a switch as part of the Power Blox line.
Endless Games Endless Games relaunches a classic TV game show with its new Password board game for ages 10 and up. Password, one of the top TV game shows of all time, is a challenge of word association in which teams of players attempt to convey mystery words to each other using only single-word clues. Earlier this year, Endless Games also released a card game version of Jeopardy as well as Wheel of Fortune.
October 2019 tfe 43
Epoch Everlasting Epoch Everlasting’s original Calico Critters Village series expands with the new Red Roof Series, featuring the Sweet Raspberry Home, Country Home, and Cozy Cottage. These are ideal to connect and collect for ages 3 and up. The Sweet Raspberry Home is the newest addition to the Village, matching the detail and design of the Red Roof Cozy Cottage and Red Roof Country Home. The home comes furnished with baby furniture and Nursery Series Grace Hopscotch Rabbit. The Red Roof Country Home has four rooms, a terrace, staircase, and lights. Children can create various layouts in a 90-degree angle, 180-degree angle, or closed setting. Connect the Country Home to the Sweet Raspberry Home and Cozy Cottage for an even grander home. The Red Roof Country Home gift set includes detailed furniture, accessories, and lights, as well as Heidi & Bell Hopscotch Rabbits. Aquabeads arts and crafts products are new and improved. Made for ages 4 and up, place beads onto the layout tray and spray with water to fuse the beads together. Once dried, the creations can be shared. The new sets feature an innovative Flip Tray and Bead Receiver to set artwork aside for faster drying while continuing to create additional pieces. There’s a Beginners Studio with more than 840 shining jewels and solid beads in 16 colors. Or kids can double the fun with the Deluxe Studio as they can now create 3-D designs with two ﬂip trays.
44 tfe October 2019
Far Out Toys In Snot Nose, players must choose wisely in this slimy game or they will get #snotted. Players take turns pulling a booger out of the oversized nose, and if the booger pulls out cleanly they are still in the game. If a player gets a Snot Gush, he/ she is out. The Snot Nose game is expected to be available in fall 2020, for ages 5 and up. The Pulp Heroes Snap Bots line will expand in 2020. Based on fan requests, the Marvel collection will include Carol Susan Jane Danvers as Captain Marvel, and Princess Leia from Star Wars will also be added. The Pulp Heroes collectible characters are ﬂat, spring-loaded popular comic characters that literally snap out of the story into a 3-D form when ejected from their comic sleeves, featuring collectible art from fans’ favorite artists. The Pulp Heroes Snap Bots spring into action with pullback-motor technology that sends them zooming into battle against arch enemies. The new characters will be added to the line in spring 2020, for ages 5 and up.
Flycatcher The smART Pixelator empowers kids to design and build 2-D and 3-D projects using Bluetooth connectivity, lights; and smART Pixel Beads, Sequins, or Pegs. Right out of the box, kids can create 50 different step-by-step designs using Pixel Beads. A smART Pixelator app and any mobile device also lets them engineer their own projects, encouraging customization and experimentation. Additional beads, sequins, pegs, and projects are available. It’s for ages 7 and up.
Fotorama The Launch R/C Polaris Sportsman ATV with Rider from Fotorama features authenticity that Polaris fans will appreciate. From hunting in the mountains to racing in the desert hills, this R/C Polaris Sportsman ATV is for ages 6 and up. It features a 2.4Ghz full-function radio control and requires six AA batteries, which are not included. Fotorama’s Launch R/C unveils its Polaris MRZR D4. MRZRs have redeﬁned ultra-light mobility with U.S. and allied-forces, and this R/C matches that design. With its modular, air-transportable off-road design, the MRZR has been used in missions from rapid personnel deployment for command and control to supply transport missions, and more. This Polaris R/C has 2.4Ghz full-function radio control, for ages 6 and up. It is ready to run with a USB rechargeable battery. Batteries are included.
Geomagworld Geomagworld’s Magicube line expands with a new STEM-themed learning collection of math- and word-building sets for ages 3 and up. For spring 2020, Geomagworld introduces the Magicube Math & Word Building Sets. With Magicube, the company says it has solved the problem of magnetic polarities with its patent that allows the cubes to connect on all sides, making play and learning fun for children. The new Magicube STEM-themed toys allow children to build their ﬁrst mathematical equations as well as spell out their ﬁrst words while building in 3-D. These sets offer a fun approach to early learning activities and help ensure kids gain ﬂuency in their basic language and math skills. This play pattern will encourage kids to look for solutions while providing a hands-on approach to learning. Magicube changed the junior construction category by reinterpreting classic cube-based toys with a magnetic twist. Magicube has a patented system of magnets that allows the cubes to connect on all sides.
October 2019 tfe 45
Goliath Games Goliath Games has an extensive new lineup of products for 2020. SuperThings are collectible characters with a big story. Every character has a rival. There’s Pow Corn (popcorn) and rival Sugar Rush (soda). There are 80-plus characters to collect. The SuperThings live in hideouts in Kaboom City, have superpowers, and drive supercars. Enigma is a mysterious character and nobody knows if he’s good or bad. SuperThings are expected to debut in the spring, for ages 5 and up. MojiPops are collectible characters with lots of emotion. Each character comes with a swappable expression. Collect characters from all eight categories (home, pets, nature, travel, music, food, sports, and glitter). Due out for fall, this line will include numerous options from blind bags to playsets for ages 5 and up. With TP Me, players take turns wearing a tree headband, while their friends launch their color rolls of toilet paper from their catapults into the tree, trying to snag it in the tree. After one minute, players get a point for each roll they’ve snagged and the tree gets a point for each one it caught, too. After each player has been the tree once, all points are tallied. The player with the most points wins. This is expected for fall. It’s for ages 5 and up. With Junk Drawer, the unit is a box that opens and closes like a drawer and is full of random small items, just like an actual junk drawer. Players draw cards to undergo a wide variety of challenges involving the Junk Drawer (such as remembering what was in the drawer when it’s closed, using the items to act out a scene, and even ﬁnding new junk to add to the drawer). Completing challenges will win points—earn the most points in ﬁve rounds to win. Junk Drawer is for ages 8 and up and is expected to debut in the fall. There’s also the skill-and-action Burping Bobby hippo game and Snake Game (name in development), both for ages 4 and up due out fall 2020.
46 tfe October 2019
Green Toys The Green Toys Cargo Plane is ﬁlled with freight and ready to take ﬂight. The bright yellow and blue ﬂier features a three-wheel design and handle on the body, so little pilots can go from taxiing on the ground to soaring in the sky. Access the cargo hold through a ﬂip-down door that doubles as a ramp for loading up the included Green Toys Mini Car or anything else kids wish. Made for indoor and outdoor play, the safe design has no metal axles or exterior paints or coatings. It’s made in the U.S.A. from 100-percent recycled plastic with no BPA, phthalates, or PVC. It’s packaged with recycled and recyclable materials printed with eco-friendly inks. It’s for ages 3 and up. It will be available spring/summer 2020.
Hape Hape Kitchen with Light & Sound offers hands-on, imaginative roleplay. Designed for ages 3 and up, it provides realistic cooking sound effects and a light-up stove. Hape Animated City Puzzle is a themed puzzle, for ages 4 and up, showcasing more than 40 animations. Hape Junior Inventor Advanced Expansion Pack lets kids explore the world of physics and engineering. This set includes easy-to-use pieces, stickers, and tools and seven inspiration cards providing ideas to expand with the original sets. This is for ages 4 and up. Hape Rice Rattling Ring Teether uses eco-friendly materials that contain Japanese rice, which is known for its tradition of safe materials for kids and the environment. The Rattling Ring Teether eases the discomfort of teething and the gentle sound stimulates auditory awareness for babies from birth and up. Hape Silly Spaghetti lets kids bend and twist the “pasta” into any shape they like and then attach the 11 pieces of food for either a silly meal or a crazy noodly face. For more on the Hape/Kids2 partnership, turn to page 30.
Hey Buddy Hey Pal
Hauck Hauck introduces the FurReal Pet Grooming Salon based on Hasbro’s FurReal line. The salon is functional, mobile, and comes in its own carrying case. This salon includes a spa-tub, shower head, hairdryer with sound, hairbrush, storage compartments, built-in food bowls, shampoo, snacks, and more. The plush pet is sold separately. Hot Wheels XL Pedal Go Kart features 10-inch exclusive red pin-stripe rims, sporty hood scoop with Mattel’s Hot Wheels logo, three-point sporty steering wheel, hammered powder coat ﬁnished, and branded non-stretch chain. Designed for ages 4 and up, it has a maximum weight capacity of 132 pounds. There are low-proﬁle rubber tires, two bearings in each eight-spoke rim, pedal power, an auto clutch-free ride, and an adjustable bucket seat.
Hey Buddy Hey Pal was featured on Shark Tank with the Eggmazing Egg Decorator. The design allows kids to be a part of the egg decorating process at Easter without messy dyes. Simply place a hard-boiled egg into the machine and turn it on. The machine holds and spins the eggs as kids hold a marker on the egg, creating stripes, lines, or other designs. A Marker Replacement Kit features quick-drying, non-toxic markers in eight colors. A Treemendous Ornament Decorator, housed in a green tree, features the same mess-free spinning action as the original product. The newest item, the DinoMazing Egg Decorator, lets kids pop in one of the three plastic eggs and decorate with the included colored markers. Crack open the shell and a new adventure awaits with a tiny dinosaur resting on a patch of slime. This line is for ages 3 and up.
October 2019 tfe 47
Horizon Group Horizon Group is introducing a host of on-trend activity kits for kids of all ages. Vendees are surprise-style dispensers that include six surprises, revealed through interactive packaging. Unwrap the Vendees dispenser, then explore the different pull tabs and compartments to unveil surprises from keychains and erasers to stickers and scrunchies. Once all six surprises have been revealed, kids ages 6 and up can get creative with various activities from custom lip balm creations to painting fun ceramic ﬁgures. The line includes the following kits: Atomic Rainbow Lip Balms, Sweet Treat Bath Bombs, Go Wild Nail Art, and Halo Unicorn Paintables. Mix, color, and create sparkling 3-D art with the Making in the Moment Slimy Window Art kit. Choose a suncatcher design and ﬁll it in with iridescent pre-made Slimygloop. Once the Slimygloop is dry, start coloring. Kids can make the suncatcher creation any color they choose and then set it on display. This is for ages 6 and up. Bring Baby Shark’s adventures to life with the Baby Shark Grab & Go Activity Kit for ages 3 and up. Embellish coloring pages, sticker sheets, and shark shapes with patterns using colorful markers and washable crayons. Use the sturdy case to store all Baby Shark art creations. There’s also a new STMT D.I.Y. Cosmetic Case and Sew-Mazing Create Your Own Unicorn kit.
48 tfe October 2019
To celebrate 50 years, Insect Lore has a created a limited-edition 50th Anniversary Butterﬂy Farm providing children and adults alike the wonder of metamorphosis. This special-edition Butterﬂy Farm includes a pop-up habitat with an ultra-clear panel, which is ideal for viewing Painted Lady butterﬂies. A tuck-away learning panel on the habitat shows all four stages of metamorphosis plus ﬁve baby caterpillars with all the food they need. This kit includes a prepaid voucher to order your caterpillars post purchase or buy the kit online and the butterﬂies come with it. Educators and students can experience the ultimate STEM learning lesson with 33 live caterpillars. Insect Lore has upgraded the size of its vials to two ounces (up from one ounce) to provide caterpillars with a larger and more comfortable space in which to grow. The kit now includes an Insect Lore spoon and knife to take the guesswork out of determining how much caterpillar food to place in the small cups. Once it’s time to move the chrysalides to the habitat, use the enclosed Velcro dots to afﬁx the lids (with the chrysalides attached) to the inside mesh of the habitat. No more fussing with awkward pins or tape. The Life Cycle Figurines 24-piece set is durable and oversized for little hands. It includes six life cycle stages for the Butterﬂy, Ladybug, Honey Bee, Praying Mantis, Ant, and Frog. The 24 high-quality ﬁgurines are organized in a handy carrying case. With these true-to-life ﬁgurines, young learners are introduced to the life cycle of bugs and frogs. Through play, children practice their counting, sorting, and sequencing skills.
Kahootz Toys Kahootz’ Y’Art offers a new way for kids to create textile works of art with the ease of coloring. The new line expands, adding licensed character kits from Nickelodeon, Cloudco, Peanuts, and others. New designs will join jumbo classic masterpieces such as “The Starry Night”, as well as deluxe craft kits, with a continued focus on mess-free, creative fun for crafty kids of all ages. Kahootz introduces the new Throwback Press product line. This line features nostalgic classics from across the decades. Titles include Memory, The Original Waterfuls, Classic Colorforms, Spirograph, Popoids, Fashion Plates, and more. The Spirograph product line is getting a new look. The Spirograph Deluxe set has a fresh update to inspire new generations of artists. The line also adds expandable new sets such as Spirograph Fun Shapes, which is compatible with most other sets to create even more amazing designs. The Colorforms world also grows with new partners that expand the classic Colorforms play experience. New characters include SpongeBob SquarePants, Care Bears, PAW Patrol, and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.
The Learning Journey
Kess Kess is reinventing classic toys by introducing new play patterns for the way today’s kids play. Since its retail launch in 2016, Kess has found success in the outdoor and impulse categories, and is best known for its award-winning Drop Dot Ball and Ice Hoops assortments. In 2020, Kess will expand its outdoor active play line and collectible line to include Series 3 of Love Em’s and is also expected to launch a new gaming division, Kess Games.
Learning Journey’s R/C Dancing Unicorn responds to the touch of various buttons on the accompanying handheld remote, allowing it to walk, talk, dance, sing and play music. The R/C Dancing Unicorn asks questions and conﬁrms whether kids have selected the correct answer. It has a wiggly tail and enthusiastic dance moves (accompanied by humorous phrases). Songs and sound effects keep kids engaged, laughing, dancing, and singing along to familiar tunes. Action Mode and Let’s Learn Mode provide hours of interaction for ages 3 and up. Crankster 2.0 is a hands-on construction set that includes more than 80 pieces to build and create your own marble and gear run. Crankster 2.0 includes a hand crank to move the marbles up the bucket and chain lifter mechanism to the top of the twisting and turning tracks. It includes chrome and translucent pieces for a “tricked out” look. Once built, kids can watch their marbles drop, spin, and roll through their own exciting creation.
October 2019 tfe 49
Learning Resources Learning Resources is introducing two new products based on its bestselling Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog. Steggy the Fine Motor Dino helps kids build three skills at once, introducing them to new colors and numbers as they build hand strength, pincer grasp, and other ﬁne-motor essentials. This includes 10 numbered scales with indents for two-ﬁnger pincer grasp. The scales store inside the dinosaur. Pedro the Fine Motor Peacock helps kids boost four skills at once, introducing them to new colors, shapes, and textures as they build hand strength, coordination, and other ﬁne motor essentials. This includes ﬁve push-and-pull feathers. Both products are for ages 18 months and up. Botley 2.0 is the next generation of Learning Resources’ TOTY winner, Botley the Coding Robot. Botley returns with all-new functions and coding challenges that are ready to explore right out of the box. Build sequences up to 150 steps, explore Botley’s expanded personality traits, and go on adventures with a built-in sensor that lights up Botley in the dark. It’s for ages 5 and up. Coding Critters Bunny helps kids hop into preschool coding with Fluff the bunny and her two little pals. Code Fluff to ﬁnd the carrots, pull them along in her garden cart, and more. This includes a full-color coding storybook with activities for ages 4 and up.
50 tfe October 2019
Magformers Magformers builds on its STEM-based line of toys that click into place. When playtime is over, simply stack and store. Play and learn with the Dolce Walrus Sorter. The Dolce Walrus Sorter contains ﬁve small sea-shaped characters: a crab, ﬁsh, starﬁsh, snail, and penguin. Post the mini friends into the Walrus’s mouth for hand/eye coordination. The toy features a bean base, teether, and textured fabrics. Rattle the chime bell in the Walrus nose and explore the tactile knotties. Dolce stands for Develop, Observe, Learn, Create, Educate. Help baby develop his/her sensory skills with a variety of high-quality textured fabrics. Little ones can observe the colorful fabrics and learn to understand cause and effect through the many activities. It’s for ages birth and up. Click and create with Magformers Amazing Construction 50-piece set. Magformers are a magnetic construction toy where the possibilities are endless. Click, connect, and create any favorite construction vehicle. Attach the new propeller siren, container grabber, and wheels for many levels of play. Clicformers Brave Friends line are construction toys ideal for developing hand/eye coordination, for ages 4 and up. Clicformers sets are compatible with each other. Clicformers is also for STEM education and when playtime is over, use the clicking mechanism to simply stack and store. The Stick-O Basic 30-piece construction set is for toddlers to explore tactile learning and hands-on magnetic play. Each Stick-O piece uses magnets that rotate so the creations always stick together, making for a frustration-free play experience. There are rainbow-colored magnetic shapes including, six spheres, eight sticks, two long sticks, four curve sticks, two oval sticks, two half-sphere, two cone, two discs, and two ﬂat ovals. Designed for ages 18 months and up, all Stick-O sets are compatible with each other. Create 3-D structures from 2-D nets with Magformers Basic Plus 30-piece set. Kids can add on to their squares and triangles with new magnetic circles, square inner circle, and circle. Create houses, towers, and a “magic ball”. Kids can learn to build using combine, roll, and pullup techniques and see what their imagination can create.
MasterPieces MasterPieces is introducing an extensive line of products at this year’s show. The all-new original game, Poker Tiles, for two to four players ages 12 and up, is a competition that combines the strategy of a tile game with real poker action. Players use the game board to play traditional poker hands to score points, make combos with the tiles, and use the wild jokers to increase their score. MasterPieces moves deeper into toy offerings with a partnership with Kaskey Kids. MasterPieces will have ofﬁcial licenses with NFL, MLB, NCAA, and NHL for the popular basketball, baseball, football, soccer, and hockey roleplay ﬁgures. Arriving in newly designed MasterPieces toy boxes, as many as 24 ﬁgurines plus accessories such as Football Guys or Baseball Guys, arrive as teams of classic open-ended, child-driven, fun and imaginary action ﬁgures. Building on some of its most successful licenses, MasterPieces connects to wood Lionel magnetic trains that capture all of the vintage details of classic, collectible trains. These trains are perfect for introducing the next generation of young train lovers to timeless Lionel designs. The new items are Lionel Original Steam Engine Set, Lionel Santa Fe Cargo Train Set, and the Lionel Steam Engine & Coal Car. The sets are for ages 3 and up. MasterPieces is expanding its CAT-branded products. Beyond its CAT Dump Truck Floor Puzzle, the new items are CAT-branded Builder-Opoly Junior in which players try to collect all the authentic CAT equipment they’ll need to get the job done. Also in this line is CAT Checkers, CAT Matching Game, and more CAT wooden craft painting kits.
Maya Toys Let It Fly (pictured) is the game where players splat the ﬂy. In this two-player game, for ages 8 and up, pick whether you want to be the attacking player or the blocking player and take your position. The ﬁrst player to get the win icon wins that round. Switch positions and repeat. The ﬁrst player to win three rounds wins the game. Foodie Roos are the all-new plush animals that look, smell, and feel like the foods they love. They come in fun food containers with a peek-a-roo window so kids can see what’s inside. Reveal a Foodie friend to squeeze their bellies and feel the surprise. The Foodie Roos container even opens up to become the Foodie’s Room complete with stickers. Kids, ages 5 and up, can collect all 20 including two hidden rares. Travel to the land of Polar Magic with Series 3 of Orbeez Wow World Wowzer Surprise. These Wowzers come hidden inside an icy blue globe ﬁlled with clear Orbeez. Reveal the Polar Magic Wowzer by simply adding water. Watch as the Wowzer magically changes color with cold water. Kids, ages 6 and up, can collect all 20. Kids can magically reveal two Wowzers by simply adding water. Display your Orbeez Wow World Sparkle Surprise with the new light-up feature to bring the Wowzers to life. It’s for ages 6 and up.
October 2019 tfe 51
Mindware/Peaceable Kingdom Peaceable Kingdom, a Mindware brand, builds on its successful line at this year’s Toy Fair Dallas. With the Unicorn Diary, kids can write down experiences or compose poems, gather autographs from friends, doodle, glue in photos or clippings, and more. Peaceable Kingdom presents this Unicorn Diary with a decorative charm, for ages 5 and up. Private thoughts will be safe and stylish in this journal, which features a simple unicorn design, calming colors, a charm, and a lock and key. Floor Puzzle: Shimmery Unicorn is a 43-piece puzzle for ages 3 and up. It’s made of thick and sturdy pieces with shiny foil accents. The puzzle pieces are uniquely shaped for curious minds and include a butterﬂy, a star, and other shimmery shapes. The completed puzzle measures nearly three feet by two feet. Floor Puzzle: Shiny Dinosaur is a 51-piece puzzle for ages 5 and up.
NSI NSI International adds a new twist to Laser X, the home laser tag game for ages 6 and up. Laser X Morph Blasters are blasters that transform into gaming stations. With a blasting range of 300 feet, Laser X Morph Blasters feature lighting and sound effects, an interactive voice coach, and three built-in games that test blasting speed and accuracy without the need for another player. Each set comes with two blasters that morph into targets in seconds. Use one unit as a target and the other as a blaster or use both blasters in a game of laser tag. Wear the receiver target on your arm, or leave it mounted inside the blaster for blaster-to-blaster play. Laser X Morph Blasters work with all other Laser X gear. The games can have an unlimited number of players. This requires six AAA batteries, which are not included. NSI is growing its Wubble line of products. There’s Groovy Wubble, the Super Wubble bubble ball with a tie-dye design. Kick it, whack it, throw it, bounce it, or even sit on it. Made from squishy, squashy, super soft and lightweight Xpandium, Groovy Wubble can be inﬂated to 24 to 30 inches. It inﬂates in just minutes with the enclosed pump. Balls are also sold separately, without a pump. NSI says that no two are exactly alike. Recommended for ages 6 and up, the pump requires four AA size (1.5V) batteries, which are not included. A patch kit is included. There’s also Fuzzy Wubbles (Wubbles on the inside and stuffed animals on the outside), now available in 14 characters; Fuzzy Wubble Babies (mini Fuzzy Wubbles that ﬁt in the palm of a kid’s hand); and Fuzzy Wubble Jigglers.
52 tfe October 2019
Outset Media/ CobbleHill Puzzle Co. From Outset Media Games, comes a host of non-licensed games. In Likes Party Game, players compete to create the funniest online dating proﬁle by pairing the hilarious proﬁle descriptions with the outrageous proﬁle picture on display. Once seven winning proﬁles have been created all players must vote on the ultimate worst, twisted, weirdest, or creepiest proﬁle. Once that proﬁle has been selected the question must now be asked: “Who in the group is most likely to date this person?” Only players with a Likes Heart Card may decide by passing their card to the player they think would most likely date this proﬁle. Once all Likes Hearts have been given out it’s the player with the most Like Hearts that wins by being selected to be the most likely to hook up with this proﬁle. Yes, losers can be winners in this game. My Word! is the word game that plays like a party game. Quickly search for words while single and double letter cards are dealt onto the table. The ﬁrst player to call out a word using at least three cards wins those cards. Fast and fun, My Word! appeals to fans of word games and party games alike. The Christmas Express Game is a great game for the holidays. Be the ﬁrst to make it to the North Pole but be careful. There are hazards and other players looking to delay your progress. Classic card-based game play and lots of player interaction makes this fun for the entire family. Keys to the Ice Castle is another fast-paced game based on strategy and luck. The Cobble Hill Puzzle Company is also introducing assortments of licensed puzzles, including a 1,000 piece Women of Star Trek puzzle and Dr. Who: The Doctors puzzle as well as a David Olenick’s Buttons puzzle. Each Cobble Hill Puzzle Company puzzle features a linen ﬁnish and includes a poster.
Party Animal Party Animal, Inc., drives into the Toy Fair Dallas with its new, ofﬁcially licensed NFL and MLB team ride-on cars for kids: Party Animal Big Team Ride-Ons. These fully decorated NFL and MLB team cars let kids cruise (two drive speeds) around in 12-volt, battery-powered cars. Kids can selfdrive (and parents can control with an included remote) the cars. They feature LED lights, a keyless start-up, engine startup and car horn sound effects, a radio with speakers (eight included preset songs), and an auxiliary-input and USB to play your own music. The cars feature full-functioning trunk storage. The Party Animal Big Shot Ballers are ﬁve-inch NFL-licensed player replica ﬁgures with some of the league’s top stars. Series one includes Saquon Barkley, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Juju Smith-Schuster, Ezekiel Elliott, Patrick Mahomes, Baker Mayﬁeld, Aaron Rodgers, Carson Wentz, and Russell Wilson.
Pillow Pets Pillow Pets, which debuted in 2003, have a variety of licensed and non-licensed options on display at this year’s Toy Fair Dallas. Fans of all ages can ﬁnd the How to Train Your Dragon Pillow Pets. The Toothless meets the equally lovable Light Fury in a ﬁtting conclusion to this epic and magical trilogy. The newest arrivals for holiday 2019 include Frozen II, Sesame Street’s Elmo, Disney’s Puppy Dog Pals, Thomas & Friends, Secret Life of Pets, and Toy Story 4. There will be a host of 2020 introductions as well from Trolls 2, Star Wars, and more.
October 2019 tfe 53
Pix Perfect Pix Perfect is a new D.I.Y. crafting kit in which vibrant sequins are arranged on a pixel board to create shining masterpieces. The sequins dangle so they will move and shimmer with the subtle breeze of a nearby fan, creating a sparkling effect. Create favorite characters, animals, seasonal designs, sports team logos, and more. Kids can then change the reusable pixels to create a new design whenever they choose. The Starter Kit includes eight pixel colors, including holographic. The kit includes one reusable pixel board, eight sequin pixel colors featuring 400 of each color, 54 design ideas, and inspiration for millions more can be found online. Additional Pixel Colors as well as additional sets can be purchased separately. It’s for ages 6 and up
54 tfe October 2019
Play Visions Play Visions’ all-new Giant Color Morph Bubble Ball features a unique rope material that gives this stress ball the ultimate burst of fun with bright bubbles. Relax with the sensational feeling of this Giant Bubble Ball and see the color change from purple to bright green. It’s for ages 8 and up. With the Crayola Dough Fast Food Set, kids can mold their own mini hamburgers, fries, and chicken nuggets with the soft, non-toxic modeling compound for ages 3 and up. The set includes 11 pieces in life-like molds such as hamburgers and fries, cheese, and lettuce cutter as well as four packs of Crayola Dough. Foam Alive is squishy, ﬂuffy foam that moves in “Flow Motion” for ages 5 and up. Place Foam Alive in your hands and let it ﬂow through your ﬁngers. It looks like it’s melting. Foam Alive is mess-free. New introductions to the Foam Alive product line include Foam Alive Scents in strawberry and chocolate; a Foam Alive Glow in the Dark Hourglass; and Foam Alive Neon Motion Magic featuring vibrant neon colors. With Foam Alive Slime Tubs, simply mix slime with Foam Alive and watch as it oozes to life. There’s also the Foam Alive 4-Pack and Foam Alive Tri-Color Bucket that combines three Foam Alive colors for nonstop play.
PlayMonster PlayMonster’s recent acquisition of Interplay in the UK has expanded its product lines and categories. With that, Face Paintoos makes its debut in the U.S. this holiday season. Face Paintoos allows for all of the fun and detailed designs of face painting without the hassle of wet paint and the expense of a professional face painter. Using just a wet sponge, apply the designs easily and, in just a few minutes, the professional results are long-lasting and won’t smudge. The tattoos are also easily removed when it’s time. The Face Paintoos line launches with three design themes: Pets (mouse, Dalmatian, cat, puppy, rabbit), Wild (lion, dragon, leopard, monkey, tiger), and Magical (mermaid, dolphin, butterﬂy, fairy, unicorn). All three themes are also available in the larger party pack. Following those designs will be licensed packs including Nickelodeon’s PAW Patrol and Jojo Siwa as well as Disney’s Frozen II. Face Paintoos are for ages 4 and up. The Fuzzikins line will be extended for 2020 to feature babies and animals. Launched in the UK in 2016, Fuzzikins are 3-D fuzzy animals, such as kittens, puppies and bunnies. They are covered in white ﬂocking and come with special washable markers that kids use to design, color, and decorate their new animal friends. The color easily rinses off when the character is placed under running water. Once it’s dry, children can start over. The Fuzzikins line also includes playsets and vehicles, for kids ages 4 and up. Stacktopus may seem easy as kids simply race to stack color cups to match the conﬁgurations on the colorful cards. But this game has a twist; Each player must wear three silly sea ﬁngers and use only those ﬁngers to grasp, hold and maneuver the cups. The results are silly. It’s even more amusing when adults play with kids because it levels the playing ﬁeld. It’s also just funny to watch dad or grandma wear octopus arms and try to pick up cups. This game is for one to three players, ages 5 and up.
Plus-Plus In 2020, Plus-Plus will add a new dimension to its best-selling line of creative toys with PlusPlus GO! It will add movement and even more STEM applications to its made-in-Denmark building pieces. Kids can build cars, trucks, tractors, windmills, merry-go-rounds, and more with this new twist on a classic toy. Plus-Plus is also launching a new collection of tubes called Plus-Plus Insects. Featuring Butterﬂy, Praying Mantis and more, these Insect tubes will include new colors such as Lime Green and Dark Red. Adding to its popular Learn to Build series, which introduces kids to the world of Plus-Plus, the Danish toymaker will launch Learn to Build sets featuring jewelry, sports themes, and more this spring.
October 2019 tfe 55
Relevant Play Building on the success of Mad Mattr fantasy packs, Relevant Play will introduce a sparkly new Animal Mash-up play pack in spring 2020. The 10-ounce Quantum Packs are shrinking in size and retail with the new Mini Mad Mattr Mystery Packs in the spring. Building on the excitement of Mad Mattr in fall 2020 will be the GLOW Mad Mattr. Relevant Play will also grow the STEM learning fun of robotics with the Build a Bot brand, with new pets that kids build, which is expected in fall 2020.
Rubik’s Rubik’s Cage is a fast-paced strategy game. The aim is to get three cubes in a row. Players can twist, turn, and ﬂip the cage to reshufﬂe and deter their opponent. The player with the most rows wins. Winning Toy Moves will formally introduce the Rubik’s Metallic 40th anniversary edition Cube to the trade at Toy Fair New York in February. Super Impulse also offers Rubik Tilt. Designed for ages 8 and up, it’s an electronic handheld game featuring a virtual Rubik’s Cube on a high-resolution, high-deﬁnition screen. Twist, turn, and tilt to move the columns, rows, and sides. Rubik’s Tilt requires the same logic to solve as the original Rubik’s Cube. Added features include speed timer, sound control, three levels of play, and options.
56 tfe October 2019
Salus Brands The word Keiki is Hawaiian for “little one” and Keiki Ukuleles are designed for little ones to learn to pluck, strum, and play along to their favorite songs. From beginners to masters, we welcome all to make music with Keiki Ukuleles. Designed for ages 5 and up, each ukulele comes with an electronic tuner, carry case, guidebook, strap, two picks, and four travel stickers. Earlier this year, Salus Brands also acquired several key brand assets from Kangaroo Manufacturing, including PopOhVer, Coconut Float (and licensed Coconut Float), and The Original Super Cool Compounds.
Schleich Schleich is showcasing new ﬁgures and sets at this year’s show. Rabbit and Guinea Pig Hutch is a travel-sized playset. Fence parts can be connected in any conﬁguration, and can be combined with other fences. The seesaw can also be used as a ramp. Playtime for Cute Cats (pictured) is a travel-sized playset that includes versatile pieces such as a scratching post for playing, cat house, and a place to sleep as well as a ball of wool. Both sets are for ages 3 and up. The following sets are ideal for ages 5 and up. Blizzard Bear with Weapon is a large ﬁgurine that lives in the ice world of Eldrador. Move its arms for interactive play and the weapon is interchangeable. Fire Eagle is a large ﬁgurine that lives in the ﬁre world of Eldrador. Its wings can be moved for interactive play. Horse Club Hannah’s Western Riding Set features Hannah and her horse as they master this course. Move Hannah’s arms for interactive play. The ﬁgurine, saddle, and bridle are detachable. The obstacles are adjustable. Flower Pegasus and Flower Unicorn Foal are part of the world of Bayala. Embark on magical adventures with the entire Pegasus family.
Super Impulse Measuring only 3.25-by-two-by-.375 inches, MicroArcade Series 2 is a travel game that ﬁts in your pocket. Each game comes with a full-color screen, sound effects, directional control buttons, and micro USB charger. The MicroArcade games play just like the full-size arcade versions with digitally modiﬁed sound effects to ﬁt into the mini ﬂat speaker. MicroArcade Series 2 includes Space Invaders, Q*Bert, and Atari Combo 2 featuring classics Breakout and Asteroids plus one surprise bonus game for ages 8 and up. Boardwalk Arcade offers classic arcade games in fully functional miniature versions that ﬁt in the palm of your hand. Each game features electronic gameplay on high-resolution, high-deﬁnition LCD screens. It includes digital score screens, game sounds, multi-level play, and more. The line includes Boardwalk Arcade TMNT Tiny Electronic Pinball, Boardwalk Arcade Skee-Ball, and Boardwalk Arcade Whac-A-Mole. From the World’s Smallest and World’s Coolest lines comes a host of new licensed products. The World’s Smallest Elf on the Shelf is a Christmas classic. This miniature version of the original full-sized Elf on the Shelf is less than four inches from the tip of his hat to the bottom of his feet. The Elf on the Shelf has fully articulated arms, legs, and head. The World’s Smallest Mr. Potato Head is less than three-inches tall and puts a creative spin on this classic spud. Push the button on the top of his head to change his face to one of three different facial expressions. World’s Coolest Bob Ross Talking Keychain celebrates the host of the PBS television show, The Joy of Painting. It features six classic Bob Ross phrases. The World’s Coolest Jumanji Keychain is based on the original game that inspired the fantasy adventure hit ﬁlms. An accurate miniature version features the center opening box and the distinctive game board. It also features one set of dice, four tokens that magnetically hold to the game board, and keychain. This is not a playable game. World’s Coolest Light & Sound Arcade Keychain features Space Invaders, Pac-Man, and Galaga. It has real arcade sounds and a light-up screen but it’s not a playable game.
October 2019 tfe 57
SD Toys RC Knuckle-Headz pit R/C vehicles against each other in a battle to pop an opponent’s head off. Utilize hairpin turns, drifting, and multi-directional speed to avoid your adversary, trigger its front bumper button, and propel its head up to 12 inches in the air. Characters include Crisp the dragon, Shred the orc, Clawd the lion, or Smash the rhino (pictured). Each runs on a replaceable LiPo battery. The next generation of Tracer Racers Remote Control racing sets feature new ‘glow streakin’ racers with a replaceable, rechargeable lithium polymer battery that keeps and holds a charge longer than their predecessors. The new Super Looper Speedway and Super 8 Loop Speedway include two cars and controllers, new blue and grey Glow-in-the-Dark track, true dual lane racing, loops, and lane changers.
Wicked Cool Toys 343 Industries appointed WCT as global toy licensee for Halo Inﬁnite. The new game will debut for holiday 2020 and WCT is working closely with 343 Industries and the game development team so the line of toys and collectibles are an ofﬂine extension of the Halo universe. WCT has the rights to create several categories of toys including action ﬁgures, vehicles, playsets, plush, roleplay, and more. Hasbro appointed WCT as global master toy licensee for Micro Machines. The new line of Micro Machines is expected to hit store shelves in fall 2020. Glitza is a line of sparkling tattoos using ﬁne cosmetic grade glitter for quality and shine. Kids can deck out with sparkly tattoos then take their shoes, clothes, and accessories to the next level with designs they create. It will be available at retail this fall. PrestonPlayz (pictured) has been a content creator since the age of 14 and he has a fan base of more than 12 million followers across social platforms. One of the things he is well-known for is his love of slime. With WCT, PrestonPlayz is developing a line of Floop featuring all kinds of textures and colors. The line will be available at retail this fall. WCT and LAMO are collaborating on a line of AR-enabled collectible ﬁgurines. The lineup will include collectibles inspired by gamers, inﬂuencers, musicians, and athletes that comes with an AR app that lets kids unlock digital content, animated interactive stories, and MPGs. The ﬁrst wave is expected at retail this fall. This fall,WCT will also introduce the next generation of Pokémon Sword & Shield. Also on display will be the newly launched My Partner Pikachu, which integrates sensory technology into the character. WCT is the global toy master licensee (excluding Asia) for the Pokémon brand. This past summer, WCT unveiled Blinger, a new glam styling tool. The handheld device dispenses sparkling gems that add bling to hair, clothing, and accessories. WCT will unveil an extension of the line called CrystalClix, which includes Swarovski crystals. WCT will also feature new SKUs for the iconic Cabbage Patch Kids brand, Hank’s Twisted Challenge, and more games, and Lunch Pets.
58 tfe October 2019
Wow! Stuff Wow! Stuff is focusing on Harry Potter and more. Using the Invisibility App by Wow! Stuff (included) kids, ages 6 and up, can recreate iconic scenes from the Harry Potter ﬁlms. To start using the Invisibility Cloak Illusion Costume, simply cover yourself, family, friends or even objects with the Harry Potter Invisibility Cloak. View, photograph, or ﬁlm yourself through the app on your phone or tablet (not included). Tom Riddle used his diary notebook to invisibly store all of his secrets and memories. Now kids, ages 8 and up, can do the same with Tom Riddle’s Diary Notebook. This diary set lets fans leave mysterious notes and messages, just like the ones seen in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. The included Slytherin House pen is ﬁlled with invisible ink, which can only be seen under the glowing wand’s UV light. The wand is designed to be attached to any favorite keyring (not included). Now fans can also take home their own Talking Dobby plush. Press on Dobby’s belly and hear as he recites six classic phrases from the Harry Potter ﬁlms. Complete with posable arms and legs, Dobby can sit or stand in any position and is for ages 3 and up. Introducing K-Blings, an all-new accessory line to customize and protect your everyday charging cables. K-Blings are a new way to collect and accessorize for ages 3 and up. Made for phone chargers, headphones or video game controllers, this collection offers something for everyone. Complete with epic and rare characters in each collection, K-Blings will be available in blind bags, three-packs, and ﬁve-packs. Fan-favorite licenses include Rick and Morty, Harry Potter, and the Emoji brand.
Winning Moves Games Winning Moves Games USA is showcasing new twists on two classic games at Toy Fair Dallas. Double Trouble, the classic from the 1980s, is back for a new generation of players. The game now features two Pop-O-Matic dice rollers and detour wheels. On each turn, players pop both dice rollers and move accordingly. If a player lands on another player’s piece, a pop-off ensues. The ﬁrst player to get both of their pieces to ﬁnish wins the game. Designed for two to four players, ages 8 and up, this contains a game board with two Pop-O-Matic dice rollers, four plastic detour wheels, eight arrow playing pieces, and illustrated instructions. In Risk Europe, each player steps into the role of a medieval king and competes with a full army to expand their kingdom and take over Europe. Through shrewd tactical planning and a little bit of lucky dice rolling, one player will conquer Europe and reign supreme. This contains a game board, 15 crowns, four armies with 35 footmen, 12 archers, 12 cavalry with four siege weapons each, eight castles, 12 red dice, 32 king’s order cards, eight city bonus tiles, 21 gold pieces, 40 silver pieces, four war banners, ﬁrst player marker, reminder cards, eight crown cards, card box, and illustrated instructions. Risk Europe is for two to four players, 14 and up.
October 2019 tfe 59
Wrebbit Wrebbit introduces the 890-piece Downton Abbey 3-D puzzle for ages 14 and up. Also available is Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes & Daily Prophet 3-D puzzle. This 280-piece puzzle is designed for ages 12 and up. It’s the fourth model of the Diagon Alley Collection, which allows Harry Potter fans to recreate their own alley two shops at a time.
YULU Toys Use the Pop Pops Snotz Slime Slammer Hammer to smash the Pop Pops bubbles or its storage compartments to store Pop Pops Snotz characters and slime. Its handle also serves as a syringe that can suck up and squirt out slime. Pop the Pop Pops to ﬁnd one of the 60 collectible gross Snotz characters. It comes with the hammer and 18 slime-ﬁlled bubbles with six hidden Snotz characters. Vita the newest member of the #SNAPSTAR team, is party-ready in her pink and white dress and pink boot heels. Her closet includes an additional outﬁt for interchangeable looks. Vita’s Chic Clothing Rack also includes a double-sided green screen, green-screen doll stand, three hangers, and fashion accessories. Her brown hair is also removable. Create digital makeovers with the free #SNAPSTAR Studio app. This is a fall 2020 Walmart exclusive. Players test their ﬁshing skills in the Survival Skillz Fish For Fish game. Campers race against their friends to catch the most ﬁsh with their plastic “spear.” Lay the ﬁsh cards ﬁsh face up on the ﬂoor, assemble the ﬁshing spear, and then it’s ready, set, ﬁsh. Use the suction cup at the bottom of the spear to capture the ﬁsh cards and reel ’em in. After all ﬁsh are captured, players tally the points on each ﬁsh card caught. The camper with the most points wins.
Zing The Glove-A-Bubbles line is expected to expand in 2020 with new designs and patterns for kids of all ages. Stikbot, celebrating its ﬁfth anniversary, will introduce new multi-color ﬁgures and playsets in 2020. The Klikbot brand will also expand next year with new ﬁgures and designs, as well as new playsets. With the acquisition of the Marshmallow Fun brand, Zing is expected to refresh the full Marshmallow Fun blaster line with design enhancements for improved performance for spring 2020.
60 tfe October 2019
9/3/2019 9:18:45 AM
PREVIEW/2019 Premier juvenile product manufacturers gather in Las Vegas for All Baby & Child Corporation’s annual ABC Kids Expo. This year’s show takes place October 23–25 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, featuring more than 600 exhibitors showcasing product across 1,000 booths. Shown on the next few pages is just a sampling of what will be on display. Attendees can expect a ﬁrst-look at new products innovating classic baby must-haves as well as meetings with established brands that continue to put safety and function ﬁrst.
In 1984, Baby Jogger created the ﬁrst jogging stroller. In the years since, it’s moved beyond that with more strollers, car seats, high chairs, and more. Pictured here is the 2019 city mini 2, which features an all-new lightweight and compact three-wheel design. With its signature one-hand compact fold, the City Mini 2 is ready for adventure. The adjustable calf support and near ﬂat seat recline allows parents to ﬁnd the most comfortable position for their child while the extra-large storage basket and UV50 canopy with peek-a-boo windows provides added convenience. Create a travel system with the included City GO infant car seat adapters or customize with a variety of accessories.
BabyDan offers an assortment of baby safety products. Its Guard Me Retractable Gate with Extension is an auto-retractable safety gate that folds back automatically when opened. The gate can be opened by an adult using just one hand and ﬁts doorways from 21.6 to 44.5-inches. It is 100 percent PVC free. It is made in Denmark. The company also offers child safety locks and playpens.
62 tfe October 2019
Baby K’tan Baby K’tan’s Original Wrap Baby Carrier is launching six new prints this month. One is the new Sweetheart (in black) print (pictured). It offers frustration-free, hands-free babywearing while keeping baby close. A readyto-wear wrap-style baby carrier with no wrapping required, it slips on like a T-shirt—no rings, buckles, belts or annoying clasps, and no confusing excess fabric. Its patented double-loop wrap design and unique one-way stretch make it a versatile and secure baby sling to carry babies from birth through infants and children up to 35 pounds. The Baby K’tan Original Wrap Baby Carrier creates a womb-like position ideal for newborns and preemies. Moms can breastfeed easily and discreetly, and both parents can bond with baby through skin-to-skin care modestly. Made from soft, breathable cotton, the carrier’s multiple wearing positions ensure your baby or infant is always comfortable and is approved hip healthy by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute. The double shoulder sling design evenly distributes weight across the parent’s back and shoulders, making it comfortable to carry even larger babies for long periods. All carriers come in a matching carry bag that converts to a support sash and folds down to easily ﬁt in a diaper bag. The cotton sling is machine washable and dryer safe. Baby holders are individually sized XXS–XL for baby wearers.
Bebitza Pty Ltd
Bebitza’s range of Nursing Covers and BeSwaddles offer unique and functional designs and aesthetics. Bebitza’s modal nursing cover is a breathable nursing cover that keeps mom and baby fresh and cool even in warmer climates. Made from quality modal, it is lightweight and soft while being resistant to shrinkage and fading. Designed for complete privacy, Bebitza’s nursing covers feature a patented secure fastener so eye contact with baby can be maintained during nursing even while adjusting the cover. The BeSwaddle (pictured) is a soft stretch knit swaddle that allows baby to move naturally while remaining snug, creating that familiar feeling of being in the womb. It features secure wings to help keep even the most elusive little one at bay, preventing startle reﬂexes and giving baby a better & longer sleep cycle. The unique design also allows baby’s legs to be freely positioned to help prevent hip-dysplasia.
Buncha’s Gummy Gloves soft silicone teething surface helps to relieve teething pain by gently massaging baby’s sore gums. Its design ensures the mitten will stay in place all day. The Gummy Glove also entertains baby with a sensory stimulating crinkle sound and fun textures. Its made with high quality BPA-free, food-grade silicone and a soft, breathable, fabric lining that wicks moisture. The company also offers feeding products and 100-percent organic muslin swaddles.
The Britax One4Life all-in-one car seat takes a child from birth to big kid (up to 120 pounds and 63-inches tall) with Britax Safety and the ClickTight Installation. It easily converts from a rear-facing infant car seat to a forward-facing ﬁve-point harness seat, and then to a high-back belt-positioning booster seat. ClickTight is as easy as buckling a seat belt, says Britax. A color-coded belt paths show where to route the seat belt for each installation mode. It also features a patented V-shaped tether, steel frame, and SafeCell crumple zone to help absorb crash energy. There’s also two layers of side impact protection to surround a child’s head, neck and torso. Additional features include a quick-push, 9-position recline; built-in arm rests with cooling channels and ventilated mesh; a removable cover and dishwasher-safe cup holders; and 14-position headrest and harness that adjust together with one hand. The One4Life all-in-one car seat is available for purchase online and in-store at independent and mass retailers in the U.S. this month. The BOB Gear Alterrain Pro jogging stroller features its trademark SmoothShox suspension to conquer any terrain. An ergonomic handbrake gives users downhill control and the zip-top cargo basket stores all gear. It features a sleek frame, reﬂective rims, one-hand fold, and an all-weather, 100-percent waterproof canopy. Additional features include a magnetic “peek-and-chat” window; adjustable, 9-position handlebar; ultra-padded compression seat with inﬁnite recline and carry handle. It has a 75 pound weight capacity. Pair it with a BOB infant car seat by Britax or other major brand car seat. The BOB Gear Alterrain PRO jogging stroller will be available for purchase online and in-store at independent and mass retailers in the U.S. in January 2020.
October 2018 tfe 63
PREVIEW/2019 Copper Pearl
Ideal for everything from tummy time to swaddling to a privacy throw, the Copper Pearl Bloom Swaddle Blanket is an ultra cozy wrap for little ones. Its lightweight, stretchable fabric is machine washable and features an allover ﬂoral pattern. Its large 46-by-46-inch design grows with babies through the toddler years. Other newer swaddle prints include Diesel and Retro.
Fashion and function collide with the Ellison Carryall Diaper Bag. Made of navy blue ballistic nylon, this bag can be worn as a shoulder bag, messenger bag, or backpack thanks to the adjustable strap. While the exterior is a solid color, the interior’s liquid resistant liner features the signature E.C. Knox paisley print. That print extends to the bag’s fold-out, removable changing pad and separate dust bag.
Finn + Emma
ﬁnn + emma’s Macrame Collection is hand-knotted by artisans in India. Made with organic rope woven through with beautiful textured patterns (and occasionally accentuated with smooth wood beads and rings), they’re super tactile and quiet toys. Its toys are designed to be unique and crafted with sustainability in mind. Knit toys are hand-made at an artisanal women’s collective in Peru using only GOTS-certiﬁed 100-percent organic cotton yarn. Wood toys are made with untreated Indian hardwood and ﬁnished with vegetable seed wax.
GoGoVie GoGoVie Premium Baby Carrier is the only hybrid sling and buckled soft structured carrier (SSC) featuring reclined, semi-reclined, and upright positions. It features seven CompleteCarry positions (swaddle, cradle, semi-cradle, face-in, face-out, hip, back carry). Five of the seven positions offer a Nurse ‘N Go feature. The carrier’s ergonomic design features two sets of leg supporters which allow proper positioning in a natural “M” squat seat position or in the Cradle or Semi-cradle positions as baby grows to 35 pounds.
64 tfe October 2019
Bluey the Horse is a cuddly and loyal playmate for all children. On his back, dolls can ride around a children’s room. Kids can stand it on the wheeled board supplied and pull it along behind them, even if they are still at the crawling stage. It’s for ages 18 months and up.
HEAD POPPI N' RACER S W! ALL NE icles RC Vcheohose from) (4 to
4 m 824 o o r show
CRASH ' their em & heads POP O FF
6-77 00) 33
toys crafts fun
llas • a d n i see us 2 NEW High-speed high-performance racing sets
L O R T N TE CO
REMO Untitled-1 1
8/28/2019 2:10:31 PM
PREVIEW/2019 Hog Wild
Lamb & Lou
The OgoBolli Grippi Bottle Ball features an easyto-grab design; is BPA, PVC and phthalate free; and is designed to ﬁt most 2.4- to threeinch bottles.
The Original Shopping Cart Vest is a ﬁrst-to-market child safety vest that keeps children secure in most standard shopping carts. Made in the U.S.A., the vest features comfortable fabric with rubbed sides for a snug ﬁt, sensory tabs and a hook for a binky, reinforced stitching, a handle to walk with children into the store, and a compact, lightweight design for easy storage.
The new “marble” Chew Cube Easy-Grip Teether Rattle makes its ABC debut. The multi-functional teether and rattle sparks baby’s curiosity with contrasting colors and sounds that engage baby’s developing visual and auditory skills while soft, textured and geometrical edges offer relief to tender gums and enhance gripping skills.
Piggy Paint is a water-based nail polish that doesn’t peel or wash off. This non-toxic formula is free of all harsh chemicals, odorless, vegan, and made in the USA. The company introduced new glitter polishes last month: Tickled Pink, Butterﬂy Kisses (shimmery purple), and Mermaid in the Shade (light royal blue).
Rambler | LA
Rambler is a cozy mat that pops open and stays ﬂat. The interior fabric cover is supported by a padded hoop which helps it keep its round shape. Its covers are removable, interchangeable, and machine washable. Each mat comes with a carry bag.
66 tfe October 2019
WubbaNub, the original plush paciﬁer, is expanding beyond the paciﬁer to include a licensing deal into 2020 with MLB. Additional WubbaNub paciﬁers and Loveys featuring classic and brand new characters will be revealed at ABC Expo, including Yeti and PJ Bear.
Playtime is over.
Get serious about your marketing.
D I G I TA L
C A N S PA N . C O M
8/29/2019 10:06:06 AM
Brand Licensing Europe 2019
The pan-European event of the year for everything licensing- and brand-related kicks off its 21st event this year, now housed in a new location—ExCel London—with new features and more than 260 exhibitors ready to take meetings. The event will even feature a ﬁrst-ever Gaming & eSports Activation in partnership with PowerStation Studios. Below is just a small taste of what you can expect to see this year.
Following its show debut in 2018, Acamar Films returns with its award-winning preschool show Bing. The London-based independent production company will use BLE as a platform to update the industry on the strategic growth plan that is now rolling out to secure Bing’s place as a top preschool property in key markets across the globe. Acamar Films’ CEO Mikael Shields will also be part of the animation keynote panel at noon on Wednesday, October 2. Bing launched on CBeebies in 2014, and continues to be a top-rated show on the network in the UK. Full-year ratings for 2018 conﬁrmed it as the No. 1 preschool program on BBC iPlayer. Bing is also conquering new markets including Italy where the launch of ofﬁcial consumer products and location-based entertainment earlier this year aided its growth. Major investment in digital, including Acamar Films establishing its own in-house YouTube studio in 2018, has seen YouTube watch-time minutes of Bing content exceed 3 billion and demand for ofﬁcial licensed consumer products grow. This digital focus will now extend to e-commerce with announcements to be made at the show. Adapted for TV from the original books by Ted Dewan, Bing is a celebration of the joyful, messy reality of preschool life.
68 tfe Licensing October 2019
AKD Emotions NY (formerly Sunrights)
Sunrights, the U.S. subsidiary of d-rights and brand manager for Beyblade, has rebranded as ADK Emotions NY, effective October 1. This follows the announcement in Japan of a merger between d-rights, a Tokyo-based production and management company specializing in animation IP, and ADK Emotions, a Tokyo-based content and rights management company and subsidiary of ADK Holdings, also effective October 1. Corus Entertainment will run season four of the animated action series Beyblade Burst Rise on Teletoon in Canada. In the latest season, legendary Blader Valt Aoi has been training the next generation of elite Bladers at Spain’s BC Sol. One day, rookie Blader Dante Koryu witnesses Valt unleashing his newly-evolved Gamma Bey, Sword Valtryek. To Dante’s surprise, Valtryek radiates a golden light as it rockets around the stadium. Inspired by the limitless possibilities of this Hyper-Flux state, Dante seeks to achieve the same bond with his Bey, Dragon. Here begins the story of Dante and Dragon’s rise to the peak of the Blading world. The Beyblade Burst line continues to innovate with a new battle system: Beyblade Burst Hypersphere. Hasbro’s newest toy line will feature specialized performance tips that enable tops to climb the vertical wall of the Beyblade Burst Hypersphere Beystadium, speed along the brink, and drop in on opponents for battles. The new GT chips also take Beyblade Burst Hypersphere top customization and gameplay to the next level. Beyblade Burst fans can expand their play digitally by scanning the codes on the tops’ energy layers to unleash the tops in battle and mix and match their components in the Beyblade Burst app. The line will be available early 2020, while Beyblade Burst Slingshock product will also be available in major retailers across western markets. Beyblade Burst also continues to bring more tournaments and demonstrations to fans around the globe. Earlier this year, fans battled it out on an international tour across France, Spain, Canada, Germany, and the U.S.
8/28/2019 3:52:30 PM
preview BBC Studio
BBC’s children’s properties are looking strong, with Duggee and Bluey taking center stage. While Hey Duggee celebrates its ﬁfth birthday on CBeebies in December, Australian hit series Bluey arrives at BLE for the ﬁrst time, announcing an expanded partnership with Moose Toys. Doctor Who readies series 12, expected in early 2020. In the last year, BBC has seen the brand expand into a Madame Tussaud waxwork, escape rooms across the UK, and the ﬁrst-ever VR game. It will also reveal a partnership with Build-ABear Workshop, with new plush, outﬁts and accessories available in spring 2020. His Dark Materials and The Watch, add to the lineup, which give BBC Studios all merchandise rights to the two BBC series. His Dark Materials sees Phillip Pullman’s best-selling trilogy brought to life, while The Watch is a fantasy police thriller based on the Discworld novels by Sir Terry Pratchett.
Creative Licensing Corporation
Creative Licensing Corporation (CLC) is an established 360-degree merchandise licensing ﬁrm specializing in classic ﬁlm properties. New for this year is the next Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure ﬁlm titled, Bill and Ted Face the Music. In the movie, two middle age dads (Bill and Ted) ﬁnd themselves in the midst of trying to crank out a hit song to save the universe and fulﬁll their destiny. The ﬁlm is expected to begin shooting at the end of 2019. CLC currently has more than two dozen partners, including longstanding partnerships with American Classics for apparel, Boom! Comics for graphic novels, and Universal Studios Orlando for live events. A strong new category for CLC this year is the escape room concept. Partners include Boyd Escapes for Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Terminator 2: Judgment Day along with Hourglass for Evil Dead 2.
Discovery’s brands include Discovery Channel, Eurosport, DMAX, MotorTrend, HGTV, Food Network, TLC, Investigation Discovery, Travel Channel, Animal Planet, and Science Channel. Eurosport is a leading provider of locally relevant, premium sports and it’s the home of the Olympic Games across Europe. Discovery reaches passionate audiences in 220 countries and territories and 50 languages, producing 8,000 original hours of programming each year, reaching 3 billion cumulative viewers. Building upon Eurosport’s fan base, Discovery Consumer Products is delivering products across tennis, winter sports, athletics, and cycling categories. Discovery seeks partners in health and nutrition, apparel, footwear, and consumer electronics across both adult and youth demographics. Eurosport Youth is also developing partnerships for a wide variety of products for young sports fans and athletes. Available to 360 million homes in more than 205 countries and territories, Animal Planet combines content that explores the bonds forged between animals and humans, optimized across all global screens. In the U.S., the Animal Planet Go app features live and on-demand access. Animal Planet is recommitting to the core value of the brand, focusing on conservation and sustainability. Discovery seeks licensing partners for emerging talent, including YouTube sensation Coyote Peterson whose Animal Planet show is expected to premiere on the network later this year. Launched in 2012, Discovery Expedition has seen signiﬁcant success in Asia, particularly Korea and China. In Korea, the brand extension has seen $300 million in retail across the apparel and accessories business within lifestyle, performance, and active lines, with products in 205 retail stores and e-commerce sites. In China, it’s generated $30 million in retail throughout 108 stores and e-commerce sites. As Asia is the fastest growing region for outdoor apparel, Discovery Expedition will expand into other Asian territories and extend into Europe and Latin America in 2020.
70 tfe Licensing October 2019
Herschend Entertainment Studios
eOne’s newest preschool property, Ricky Zoom, launches on air in international markets this fall. The CGI action comedy series follows the adventures of Ricky, a little red motorbike who shares his experiences with his enthusiastic Bike Buddies Loop, Scootio, and DJ. The licensing program will be spearheaded by TOMY as master toy partner. An initial toy range including vehicles and playsets will launch in spring 2020. eOne’s Peppa Pig boasts more than 1,000 licensees and new episodes from series eight are airing globally bringing fresh themes and creative for its many partners. 2019 has been Peppa Pig’s biggest year to date with a calendar full of global brand activations. A partnership with Hunter saw two British brands collaborate to launch limited edition Hunter X Peppa Pig wellies and accessories in multiple markets and the brand also made its music album debut with the release of Peppa Pig My First Album generating 500,000 streams opening weekend. A strategic partnership with Merlin (excluding the UK) opened Peppa Pig theme park attractions open in Italy and Germany in addition to its Peppa Pig World of Play soft play attractions, which have opened in Michigan, Dallas and Shanghai. In the UK, where the brand celebrates its 15th anniversary this year, a summer lineup of family festival appearances, outdoor ﬁlm screenings, the live orchestra show Peppa Pig My First Concert, and Fiery Angel’s ﬁfth new touring production, Peppa Pig: Best Day Ever continue to bring the brand to life for its many fans. Peppa Pig is also accelerating at retail across Europe, with standout sales performance in Germany, where toy sales have grown more than 700 percent in the ﬁrst half of this year, as well as France, Italy, and Spain. PJ Masks has cemented its position as a leading global preschool property with a licensing program that now boasts more than 650 global partners across 85 markets worldwide. Driving the retail expansion is an ongoing investment in new content and extensive creative asset development. The brand has a strong European fan base and this year’s experiential activity included National Superhero Day retail celebrations and partnerships to promote the show’s “Super Moon Adventure” theme with planetariums, space centers, and retailers across the UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain in honor of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. Season three of PJ Masks premiered on Disney Junior in September and season four, which is currently in development, will kick off with a four-part, 44-minute special in 2020.
Herschend Entertainment Studios (HES) will attend BLE for the ﬁrst time. HES will present a complete reintroduction of Chuggington to the global market, which will launch with an all-new season six in spring 2020. This will coincide with the brand’s 10th anniversary. HES also has a large slate of properties in development. HES acquired Chuggington from Ludorum PLC in December 2018. Season six of the series will head to a-list broadcasters and streaming platforms worldwide. The trio of trainees (Wilson, Brewster, and Koko) will embark on new adventures that encourage teamwork, friendship, and fun, highlighted by a new soundtrack. Michael G. Stern (Doc McStufﬁns, Soﬁa the First) leads production, serving as head writer and co-executive producer along with Julie Phillips (Splash & Bubbles). For the ﬁrst time, live-action kids globally will journey into the animated world of Chuggington through an all-new hybrid live action/animated short format. Integral to the brand’s reintroduction and closely aligned to production, new global master toy partner Alpha Group will roll out a new toy program for fall 2020. The line will include vehicles, track sets, R/C toys, games, electronics, smart toys, novelty, and seasonal products. The brand reintroduction will also be supported with refreshed and all-new creative assets, a special mini-hub website, broadcaster support, direct-to-consumer campaigns, promotional events, and global brand partnerships. Fan engagement for Chuggington continues to be strong across digital with more than 1.5 billion watch time minutes on YouTube and 22 percent year-over-year growth. At BLE, HES is will meet potential new partners across key categories including publishing, secondary toys, puzzles and games, food and drink, sleepwear and apparel, and bedding.
October 2019 tfe Licensing 71
Content remains an integral part of the Mattel portfolio across some of its most recognizable IP. Helping to bring to life the adventures of Barbie, Thomas & Friends, Fireman Sam, Hot Wheels, and more, 2020 will bring multiple new series and special episodes across the brands. Following the success of Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures, which launched on POP in October 2018, series two launches this fall appealing to the older girl demographic. Airing in October, new episodes will show the latest adventures of Barbie, with a peek into her everyday life with friends and family—including Ken. For the younger audience, Barbie serves younger girls an imaginative world through Barbie Dreamtopia. As the No. 1 girls’ brand on YouTube with more than 7.2 million subscribers, Barbie uses the platform to showcase teachable moments through her vlogger character. For Thomas & Friends, the content relaunch in September 2018 marked the most signiﬁcant changes to the world-famous children’s brand in its history to remain relevant with the global audience. The refresh included new international and female characters, a new theme tune, and a dynamic faster paced show format. the brand has implemented numerous changes to the television series to remain relevant with preschoolers. Continuing the momentum through 2019 with Series 23, in 2020 new content specials will introduce diverse characters and new locations, with a nod to traditional Britain interwoven into the story through celebrity voice talent. These specials will launch at key touchpoints throughout the year, spotlighting the 75th anniversary in May and further into fall. Series 24 will launch in September of the anniversary year as Thomas learns more about the world around him to better educate preschoolers.
72 tfe Licensing October 2019
At BLE 2019, MGM and its partners will focus on licensing programs for its top properties worldwide. The team is especially doubling down on the growth of brands internationally, expansion in the digital gaming category, and development of location-based entertainment as well as reshaping the current licensing program. At BLE, MGM will introduce a new strategy, look, and vision for the Pink Panther brand. This fall, MGM will reimagine The Addams Family as a new CGI-animated feature ﬁlm. MGM seeks to build out a robust and enduring licensing program around the property, and sees the program spanning beyond the ﬁlm into an annual Halloween program for years to come. The Addams Family has a robust lineup of licensees in the U.S. across categories including Rubie’s (costumes and party goods), Funko and NECA (collectibles), and TVM Fashion Lab (apparel). Globally, MGM looks to collaborate with additional licensees across multiple categories including costumes and party goods, stationery, toys, collectibles, apparel, and more. MGM also seeks partners for Rocky, Vikings (The History Channel); World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji, the new reality series from Mark Burnett set to debut in 2020 on Amazon Prime Video; Robocop, which heads back to theaters in 2021; and Stargate, the longest running sci-ﬁ television program in U.S. history.
©1996 Kazuki Takahashi ©2017 NAS • TV TOKYO
©1996 Kazuki Takahashi
OLD & NEW, COMING SOON! ALWAYS TIME TO DUEL!
For licensing opportunities, please contact: Jennifer Coleman • email@example.com +1.212.590.2120 • konamicrossmediany.com • yugioh.com
8/28/2019 3:09:21 PM
Launching the Next Big Digital-First Brand for Kids BY JENNIFER
When TFE spoke to pocket.watch’s CMO Stone Newman in August, it was exactly 366 days out from when the company launched the Ryan’s World program at retail. At the time, creating toys around toy influencers was unexplored territory. Then, many toymakers turned down even working with the brand. Flash forward to today and Ryan’s World continues to lead sales since its launch, not only in the toy aisles but across categories. If you walk the aisles of Walmart, you can see the physical impact of Ryan’s World. The brand now has a dedicated eight feet of product, while pocket.watch’s next big digital-first brand sits alongside it with four dedicated feet. Now, pocket.watch is turning its attention to that brand: HobbyKids. From its start in 2013, HobbyKidsTV, which focuses on the fun adventures of the family of five, emerged as a leading kid and family channel on YouTube. Today, the family’s group of 10 channels have more than 3.5 million subscribers and more than 6.2 billion lifetime views. One might assume Ryan’s World would become a blueprint for pocket. watch’s digital-first brands moving forward, but the company has taken a different approach to HobbyKids. In fact, Newman notes that pocket.watch launched with Ryan first, in part out of function. While Ryan ToysReview was a property that had done significant world- and character-building before pocket.watch came aboard, HobbyKids required the development of additional character-driven content. “If you look at the Ryan product line, it’s not just Ryan product, it’s
74 tfe Licensing October 2019
product from his world,” says Newman. “It’s the things he loves, like pizza and soccer, and then it’s the embodiment of his characters––Combo Panda, Augusta, Gummy Cane, or Red Titan. Very few YouTube creative families have those kinds of assets, which are key and critical to building a merchandising program, ready to go. So for HobbyKidsTV, and other YouTube channels and creators, that’s where pocket.watch leans on our Chief Content Officer Albie Hecht and his background overseeing the creation of programs like SpongeBob SquarePants, Blue’s Clues, Dora the Explorer, and Rugrats.” Luckily for the pocket.watch team, world-building for HobbyKids was pretty easy to do. “As Albie likes to say, it didn’t take a genius on how to build the world of a creator channel in a family where the boys are nicknamed HobbyPig, HobbyBear, and HobbyFrog,” says Newman. The pocket.watch team also brought in animator Butch Hartman (creator of Fairly OddParents, Danny Phantom, and T.U.F.F. Puppy) to assist with the creation of the new HobbyKids Adventures series, which premiered June 22 on the HobbyKidsTV YouTube channel. The series lets fans root for the brothers as they triumph over arch enemies, “the Slobby Kids,” to make the world a better place through the fun of play, food and inventions. A month prior to the show’s launch, pocket. watch’s channel optimization lead also began working with HobbyKidsTV to introduce the animated embodiment of the boys in an organic way that their core audience and fan base would accept.
“This has been an ongoing pre-marketing process leading up to the launch of the consumer products,” says Newman. “Like Ryan’s World, you have the images of the boys and the key assets from their channel on the packaging. But, the embodiment of the product is inspired by the animated elements which now live on their channel.” For its consumer product launch, pocket.watch teamed up with Walmart as its exclusive launch partner to roll out this inspired product across more than 3,000 stores as well as online. The program kicked off in August with a toy line, for which Just Play serves as the master toy partner, with apparel and home launching later this year. The HobbyKids family is helping to promote the launch with a tour to the retailer’s locations across the country. The tour offers experiential events at which fans can meet the family, watch the animation, and get a hands-on test drive with the toys. The HobbyKids will also film a live-from-the-road vlog so that fans that can’t make the in-store events can still participate and experience the tour with them. “For us, with Walmart, they really got it and embraced this new seismic shift in our industry and these creator-based franchises,” says Newman. “They came to us very early, after the success of Ryan and said, ‘We would like to work with you on launching the next IP, if that opportunity presents itself.’ They made commitments on not only the merchandising and the product by support but on marketing assets and other attributes that we felt warranted launching with them.” While Ryan’s World also launched with Walmart and had a 60-day period of exclusivity, this time around, with HobbyKidsTV, pocket.watch has extended the period of exclusivity until year’s end. “We’re supporting it with a combination of both above-the-line and below-the-line marketing efforts,” says Newman. “I think the experiential part is super important, because every moment of these creators lives are so well documented.” Looking ahead to 2020 for the brand, other partners, which could not be disclosed as of this writing, are teed up for a massive retail expansion come spring 2020. pocket.watch also plans to announce a gaming deal with a leading publisher, which will lead with apps and move to console games in 2020.
Hob Sur Op p en t byK Cra rise to h i ck o reve ds Jack e giant mo pen re s al a ham urp the wo me r or s tick ises su next e rking ja r Egg gg t ch a y ha ckh o s a nd. The a sling reveal mmer. r eve sho e ar Age n t, t s 3+ e 10 surp arget, rise s.
October 2019 tfe Licensing 75
preview Silvergate Media
Silvergate Media brings its children’s properties, including Octonauts, Hilda, Peter Rabbit and Monkey with a Tool Belt, to this year’s BLE 2019. Octonauts continues to appeal to global audiences through storytelling, educational narratives, and compelling characters that cross cultural divides. Combining the high-octane action and creative of the original series, a new spin-off Octonauts: Above and Beyond will feature new characters and new terra gups. Future adventures will focus on dramatic moments of change and challenge that water creates for all the creatures of planet Earth. The 156 x 11-minute new episodes are in production and set for delivery from 2021 through 2024 with a major global brand relaunch from 2021. The new themes, characters and creative will offer licensees fresh content to inspire consumer products, and Silvergate will give viewers to the show a ﬁrst look at this new world. Silvergate’s newest licensing program is based on its animated series, Hilda, which is available on Netﬂix across 130 countries and opens up for linear broadcast from 2020. Inspired by the comics from British writer and illustrator Luke Pearson, the 2-D animated series follows the adventures of a fearless blue-haired girl as she travels from her home in a vast magical wilderness full of elves and giants, to the bustling city of Trolberg, where she meets new friends and mysterious creatures. A second series is in production and expected to launch on Netﬂix in 2020. The consumer products program targets girls, teens, and young adults and will be spearheaded by Gund. A line of plush, accessories and giftware will debut at retail from 2020 as part of a multi-territory deal. In partnership with co-producers Nickelodeon and Penguin Random House, Silvergate Media has developed Beatrix Potter’s classic British character, Peter Rabbit, into a CGI-animated preschool series. A robust lineup of broadcast partners currently air series one and two around the world including CBeebies (UK), Super RTL (Germany), Rai YoYo (Italy), ABC (Australia), Nickelodeon (U.S.) and CCTV (China). Silvergate serves as the licensor for the series and the global licensing agent for Classic Peter Rabbit on behalf of Penguin Ventures.
Sony Pictures Consumer Products
Building upon the 35th anniversary of Ghostbusters, SPCP will capitalize on the excitement surrounding the franchise with a variety of products ahead of the newest ﬁlm in 2020, directed by Jason Reitman. Starring Paul Rudd (Avengers: Endgame), Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things), Carrie Coon (The Leftovers) and Captain Marvel’s Young Carol Danvers, McKenna Grace, the newest adventure of the paranormal saga will ignite a new wave of Ghostbusters phenomenon. Coupled with the long history of the franchise, SPCP will reach fans through an assortment of products. Hasbro was recently named the global master toy partner for the brand. Ghostbusters and Transformers will join forces for a comic book miniseries from IDW Publishing. Written and illustrated by the Ghostbusters creative team (Erik Burnham, Dan Schoening and Luis Antonio Delgado). Transformers / Ghostbusters will span ﬁve issues, with the ﬁrst issue’s variant covers featuring art from Dan Schoening, Paulina Ganucheau, Nick Roche and Alex Milne. Designer collaborations will create retro fashions inspired by Ghostbusters while classic licensed products from top-tier partners will appeal to new fans and collectors. Additional licensees will launch products such as hand-crafted ﬁne jewelry from Bixler’s; apparel, accessories, home and travel products from Cotton-On; men’s, women’s and kid’s footwear, apparel, headwear and accessories from K-Swiss; plus swimwear and outer apparel from Cakeworthy, among others. Alongside the new HD remaster of Ghostbusters: The Video Game and Ghostbusters World AR game from 4:33, Ghostbusters will enter into a variety of game integrations through collaborations with Psyonix, PikPok, Frontier Games, Zynga, Digital Legends and Ludia. By partnering with Amazon, Sony recently released an interactive story skill for Amazon Alexa devices titled Ghostbusters: Franchise 84. SPCP will also expand the program internationally.
76 tfe Licensing October 2019
How many sides does a trapezoid have? What is the largest South American country by area?
omedian Jeff Foxworthy ﬁrst posed the question, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? back in 2007, along with others like the above. Nearly 13 years later, actor and former WWE wrestler John Cena is asking contestants the same things. This summer, Nickelodeon kicked off the return of the game show television series, with Cena taking over as host and a new format designed to put kids at the center of the action. The series is executive produced by Mark Burnett, chairman of Worldwide Television, MGM (Survivor, The Voice) and Barry Poznick, president, Unscripted Television, MGM (Beat Shazam, The World’s Best). Production of Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader? is overseen by Rob Bagshaw, executive vice-president, Nickelodeon Unscripted Content. In order to reach a new generation, the show’s format is taking a fairly simple approach: more kids + more interaction = more fun, says MGM’s Robert Marick, executive vice-president of global consumer products and experiences. “The show is built to be kids-centric, and is centered around a dynamic host in John Cena, who knows how to get the best out of the contestants. Cena’s unique personality helps to bring out the most fun experience for our kids and the viewing audience,” he adds. Assisted by a cast of 12 brainy ﬁfth graders from across the country, contestants compete to answer six questions on subjects from the ﬁrst through fourth grade before moving onto the ﬁnal round where they must race against the clock to answer ﬁve ﬁfth grade-level questions. Each time contestants answer questions correctly, their bank account increases with a possible take-home prize of $100,000. Newly-added elements to the show include an additional “cheat” option and new ways contestants can enlist the help of their grade-school classmates. According to Marick, there are quite a few reasons for wanting to bring back Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader? now, including the company’s overarching goal to focus on bigger, quality collaborations across its portfolio. And for a program looking to appeal to a co-viewing audience, “Nickelodeon is arguably the best partner for the show,” says Marick. Another key factor for the show’s return is its ability to tap into the resurgence of popular family-targeted game shows and viewers’/consumers’ continued afﬁnity for nostalgic and classic brands. “During its original run, merchandise surrounding Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader? sold more than $175 million in retail sales across 30 SKUs, and in its ﬁrst year the board game was ranked No. 1 at Walmart,” says Marick. “Given the success we had with Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader? 12 years ago, the timing seemed right to re-imagine the property for a new generation.” With kids and interaction at the heart of the program, MGM will focus on product applications that incorporate more of these elements, along with looking at how unique, emerging technologies and trends can further bring the game show to life at home for viewers. “Following the show’s successful launch this past summer, we began working with our games licensee to bring the new version of the board game to retailers later this fall in time for the holidays,” says Marick. “The balance of the program will debut [next] spring. Next year, we will be rolling out our publishing and interactive products. Later in the year, we will be looking for partners to round out our back-to-school, stationery, toys, and apparel and accessories lines.”
October 2019 tfe Licensing 77
Moonbug Looks to Score in Untapped Programming Segment
L BY JENNIFER
ast year, industry vets Renée Rechtman and John Robson founded a new kids entertainment company, one focused on taking a digital-ﬁrst approach to content development and acquisitions. That company is Moonbug. Since launching, it has hit the ground running, ﬁrst with the acquisition of the global-leading preschool nursery rhyme series Little Baby Bum, followed by a round of Series A investments from The Raine Group, Felix Capital and Fertita Capital along with further brand acquisitions (Go Buster!, KiiYii, My Magic Pet Morphle, Glove and Boots, Gecko’s Garage, and Dr. Poppy’s Pet Rescue). Thus far, Moonbug properties combined have 55-plus million subscribers and garner more than one billion views per month across properties. More recently, the company acquired the South African digital soccer series, Supa Strikas. “We’re identifying categories that we know, based on all the data that we see, kids love, and kids are passionate about,” says Andy Yateman, head of Americas, Moonbug. “Then we’re identifying speciﬁc IP in each of those categories that we think have the potential to be grown, with some investment, to be a lot bigger and turned into franchises.” While Little Baby Bum seems like a no-brainer to anyone familiar with the property and the rise of the digital nursery rhyme segment, in the case of Supa Strikas, soccer has remained an untapped segment for programming. “Our whole business is built on global platforms such as You-
78 tfe Licensing October 2019
Tube, Netﬂix, Amazon,” says Yateman. “So, we’re programming for a global audience and particularly in the case of soccer, there’s a lot of white space. Traditional entertainment companies have not focused on all that much in terms of ﬁction-based soccer content for kids. We see this as a foundation to build on.” The series follows the world’s best soccer team as they journey across the globe and even to outer space on a quest to win the prized Super League trophy. Since its debut in 2009, it has released six 13-episode seasons, the latest of which debuted this summer. Moonbug is now working with the South African creative team behind the series to develop new episodes that will air in 2020, as well as brand new soccer-based spin-offs that will be distributed around the world. Supa Strikas is already available in 27 languages and in more than 100 countries worldwide, but it’s never been available in the U.S.—until now. And the timing couldn’t be more perfect, right on the heels of the success and popularity of the U.S. Women’s Soc-
Six 13-episode seasons available with a new season in production
cer Team’s World Cup win. “Soccer is a sport that is continually gaining popularity, particularly now in the U.S.,” says Yateman. “We think there’s an opportunity to do some more female-focused spin-offs as well.” “Watching animated sports is obviously not the same as live-action sports,” says Yateman. What makes Supa Strikas work is that “soccer is very much a part of the show, but it’s not just a whole 22 minutes about soccer. It’s also about the fun adventures that the players go on as they’re going around the world playing their games. It’s a good mix of fantasy and sports. That’s the kind of balance that’s tough to achieve, but I think Supa Strikas has it.”
Distributed in 27 languages and in more than 100 countries
Current broadcast partners include Disney, Nickelodeon, and Turner across the UK, Italy, South Africa, Eastern Europe, and Israel.
October 2019 tfe Licensing 79
SYBO Games’ Subsurf consumer and lifestyle merchandise brand continues its expansion as new partners sign on to create, manufacture, and market a variety of consumer products based on Subway Surfers, the world’s most downloaded endless runner mobile game. From apparel, accessories, home tech, fan art and more, Subsurf merchandise will be available in more than a dozen categories. The new licensees are Red Bubble, which will produce Subway Surfers-inspired fan art on a global basis through its e-commerce platform; Fashion UK for boys’ and girls’ apparel and accessories; and the Cooneen Group, which will design, manufacture, and supply boys’ and girls’ loungewear. The Cookie Company will design and make apparel, accessories, and numerous softline categories. Productos Panameños will produce backto-school and paper products for the Latin America region. Dark Horse Comic will create graphic novels for the global market. Alpha Group, its global master toy licensee, will manufacture and market ﬁgures, vehicles, remote-control toys, plush, electronic toys, smart toys, games, roleplay dress-up and accessories, consumer electronics, novelties, activity, and seasonal products. The ﬁrst products are expected to hit shelves in 2020. The Copenhagen-based company recently celebrated Subway Surfers’ seventh birthday and 2.5 billion downloads.
WildBrain | DHX Media
WildBrain, which incorporates DHX Brands, is a kids’ industry leader combining brand management and licensing for Teletubbies and In the Night Garden alongside the creation and management of a wide range of children’s entertainment content on YouTube, Amazon Video and Roku. Teletubbies appeared at Alton Towers for the ﬁrst time this summer with a popular mini show and sees continuing successful collaboration with the UK’s leading playgroup Baby Sensory & Toddler Sense with branded early learning initiative. The spin-off, 2-D YouTube series Tiddlytubbies has received more than 33 million views since the channel’s launch in July 2018. In the Night Garden is a consistently top rating show on CBeebies. The perennially popular live show is now in its 10th year and embarked on its ﬁrst UK nationwide tour this year. Later in the year, there are large-scale promotions planned with major retailers and the launch of new toys from Golden Bear.
Slapstick comedy Zig & Sharko spearheads Xilam’s presentation slate as it gears up to celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2020. Xilam seeks new licensees to join the brand’s celebrations across outdoor, toys and games, apparel, sporting goods, homewares, and food and beverages categories. With the series set on an island, the property’s style guide captures the themes of summer, vacation and outdoor fun. The series continues to be a ratings driver on Gulli in France and K2 and DEA Kids in Italy. Season three debuted on the channels in September. Alongside this, on YouTube it’s garnered 5.3 million subscribers and 2.5 billion total views globally. Following the recent celebrations for Oggy and the Cockroaches’ 20th anniversary, Xilam is now tapping into the nostalgic appeal of the brand and targeting millennial fans who grew up with the program. Key target categories include fashion, accessories, homeware, stationery, and collectibles. Oggy and the Cockroaches currently airs in more than 190 territories with exposure buoyed by international SVOD deals with Netﬂix and Amazon. The popularity of the show continues to thrive in France, where the show airs daily on Gulli and in Italy with broadcast partners, DEA, K2 and Frisbee. On YouTube, Oggy is expanding globally and has now reached 4.7 million subscribers and 2.2 billion views. Rounding out its slate is the preschool comedy series, Paprika, for which Xilam is developing edutainment content on YouTube and looking for toys and games and publishing partners to support this initiative.
80 tfe Licensing October 2019
the ’90s BY JENNIFER
nless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably noticed that the ’90s are making a comeback– from fashion-forward fanny packs to Doc Martins, scrunchies, and track suits. But the decade isn’t just spawning old-meets-new fashions. It also means the return of fan-favorite characters and entertainment that ’90s kids, tweens, and teens grew up watching. TFE chatted with CBS Consumer Products’ Executive Vice-President of Global Franchise Management Veronica Hart about how it’s delivering on this retro trend for its top ’90s programs, from Beverly Hills 90210 to the original Charmed series, Twin Peaks, and more. The ’90s are ofﬁcially in high demand. “Nostalgia continues to prove successful at retail and resonates with consumers in a very sticky way,” Hart says. “I believe trends are cyclical and shift across decades. The ’90s trend is especially strong now because so many parents and consumers were kids during the ’90s and are especially attached to shows they watched in their youth. With so much choice of programming to watch today across broadcasters and streamers, there is something unifying and comforting about going back to the ‘classics’, and these consumers have now introduced these shows to the next generation, which makes them even stronger.” One such program is Beverly Hills 90210, which CBS Consumer Products is currently focusing on as the brand readies for its 30th anniversary year in 2020. Ahead of the anniversary celebration, the group launched a successful pop-up restaurant in Los Angeles this summer, inspired by the original hangout on the show: the Peach Pit. The pop-up diner was developed in coordination with Fox and Pop Sugar to promote the new BH90210 revival and sold out its two-day weekend run in less than an hour. In response to that demand, CBS Consumer Products worked with the team behind the 2018 Saved by the Max pop-up restaurant and Good Burger pop-up, also launched this year, to extend the Peach Pit experience. The pop-up reopened in mid-August and was expected to close at the end of September, as of press time. Hart however noted that more pop-up expansion news was in the pipeline. “We’re also building our mass presence for both the 30th anniversary and in support of the new BH90210 series, in conjunction with partners such as Funko, Jem, and Isaac Morris Ltd, and fragrance with Palm Beach Beauté,” says Hart. CBS Consumer Products has also had DTR programs for the brand (along with Melrose Place and Charmed) across retailers such as Cotton On, Zara, and Tezenis and expanded into cosmetics with Sola Look and into accessories with Bioworld. “’90s shows don’t all ﬁt in one category, there is a broad range of programming that still resonates from that time period,” says Hart. “In our own CBS catalogue, we have Aaron Spelling shows like Charmed, Melrose Place and the iconic Beverly Hills, 90210...On the opposite end of the spectrum we have David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, which is also 30 years old in 2020 and even Star Trek: Voyager launched in 1995. The thing that uniﬁes these shows is that they told stories that hadn’t previously been seen on television, and they feature strong female characters. They are all reminiscent of the time period they were made, which helps tie into the sense of nostalgia for that era in general. It brings fans back to that time of their lives and the classic stories they’ve loved for decades. With the Gen Z audiences buying these products... they are watching the shows for the ﬁrst time now and feel a connection to the characters, while appreciating the kitsch of the ’90s.”
81 tfe Licensing October 2019
October 2019 tfe Licensing 81
2019-2020 CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Brand Licensing Europe
The Toy Fair
Toy Fair Dallas
Spielwarenmesse International Toy Fair
3–6 12–13 14–17 23–25
/JANUARY 6–8 6–9 6–9 7–10 17–19 17–19
82 tfe October 2019
ExCel London London • brandlicensing.eu Dallas Market Center Dallas • toyassociation.org
New York Comic Con
Javits Center New York City • newyorkcomiccon.com
Olympia London London • toyfair.co.uk
Nuremberg Exhibition Center Nuremberg • toyfair.de
ABC Kids Expo
JW Marriott Cannes, France • mipjunior.com Palais des Festivals Cannes, France • mipcom.com Las Vegas Convention Center Las Vegas • theabcshow.com
/MARCH CHITAG Week
Navy Pier Chicago • chitag.com
Hong Kong Baby Products Fair
Hong Kong Convention Center Hong Kong • hktdc.com
Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair Hong Kong Convention Center Hong Kong • hktdc.com
Las Vegas Convention Center; additional locations Las Vegas • ces.tech
Halloween & Party Expo
Ernest N. Morial Convention Center New Orleans • hiaonline.org
Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center San Antonio • south.paxsite.com
Jacob Javits Center New York City • toyfairny.com
Hong Kong Convention Center Hong Kong • hktdc.com
Toy Fair New York
Australian Toy, Hobby & Licensing Fair
Hong Kong Int’l Licensing Show
InterContinental Miami Miami • summit.kidscreen.com
Philadelphia, PA Las Vegas • ces.tech
Jacob Javits Center New York City • nationalstationeryshow.com
Melbourne Convention Center Melbourne • austoy.com.au South Point Hotel Las Vegas • toyfestwest.com
The London Book Fair
Olympia London London • londonbookfair.co.uk
SXSW Gaming Expo
Austin Convention Center Austin • gaming.sxsw.com
Bologna Children’s Book Fair
Bologna Fair Center Bologna, Italy • bookfair.bolognafiere.it
Palais des Festivals Cannes, France • miptv.com
TTPM Spring Showcase
Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Dallas • jpmashow.org TBD New York City • anbmedia.com/events
GET READY TO PLAY!
©Konami Digital Entertainment
For licensing opportunities, please contact: Jennifer Coleman • firstname.lastname@example.org +1.212.590.2120 • konamicrossmediany.com
8/28/2019 3:18:57 PM