Contents · Oct. 2020 Vol. 15 · No. 3
TTPM's Holiday 2020 Most Wanted List
6 Observations and Opinions
Why the Global Pandemic is Evening Out the Playing Field Azhelle Wade
Toy Family Series: The Albert Family Mary Couzin
Industry Forum Design Edge
Be Reassured When Your Toys are Insured York-Jersey
Industry Forum The Toy Association
Home is Where the Heart (and Work) Is Chris Tidwell
Company Profile: IMC Toys
Company Profile: Nesstoy
A Cautious Holiday for Licenses and Toys Marty Brochstein
State of the Toy Industry Victoria Sheridan
2021 Product Preview
On this Page 1. ArmoGear Boxing Battle, Nesstoy 2. VIP Pets, IMC Toys 3. Backyard Adventure Set, Magformers 4 tfe October 2020
On the Cover Star Wars The Child Animatronic Edition by Hasbro, see more highlights from the TTPM Annual Holiday Showcase, p. 10
44125 Ford Rd. Canton, MI. 48187 734-667-1673 www.magformers.com firstname.lastname@example.org
tfe Observations & Opinions
And The Tea Leaves Say... BY BOB GLASER All recent conversations I’ve had have revolved around the fate of the toy industry moving forward. With Toy Fair 2021 postponed (right now rumors are the Toy Association is looking at hosting a trade show in early May 2021 at the Javits Center) and the recent announcement of the Nuremberg Toy Show postponed from late January/ early February to later in 2021, and January travel to Hong Kong not happening, how will manufacturers present new products to retailers? Will retailers be basing buying decisions off of a Zoom video presentation? All legitimate questions moving forward. BOB GLASER, PUBLISHER Like many others, my crystal ball is cloudy with no definitive answers. What I can state definitively is that those involved in the industry, media, and manufacturers specifically, desperately want to get back to doing business like they had been doing in the recent, pre-COVID world. I say this because we, TTPM, hosted our annual Holiday Showcase last month, LIVE, here in New York City. Albeit with fewer exhibitors and media participating, those that did were extremely happy and excited to participate. I can’t believe you guys are going ahead with a live event, but thank you so much for doing it, was the overriding comment we received from participants. Attending media were very excited to finally get out of the house and see products in person instead of on a screen. Exhibiting manufacturers, likewise, were very excited to be able to also get out of their homes/offices and talk about their products instead of rehashing how COVID was affecting business. It was a great day for all involved. (Of course we hosted the event in the safest way possible with all exhibitors spaced out so no standing on top of one another, media scheduled throughout the day instead of the usual free for all at our events. Face masks were provided by Disney, individual bottles of hand sanitizer provided by ORB TOYS and thermometers supplied by iHealth). I believe we are working in an industry where people want to pick up, play with, manipulate, touch and feel the products they will buy or write about. With my crystal ball being cloudy, I don’t know if the way the industry has conducted business for the past 100 years will be the way the industry conducts business as we emerge from this pandemic. What our recent event did show me is that the industry is desperate to get back to doing what they do best, manufacturing and promoting toys to enrich childrens lives. All the best for a successful and happy holiday selling season. 6 tfe October 2020
August 2020 · Volume 15, No. 2 Publisher Bob Glaser Bob@TTPM.com Vice President, Advertising & Sales Donna Moore Donna@TTPM.com Advertising Manager Graham Windus Graham@TTPM.com Controller Mary Grogan Mary@TTPM.com Editor in Chief Jim Silver Jim@TTPM.com Editorial Manager Victoria Sheridan Victoria@TTPM.com Web Developer Brendan Sanabria Brendan@TTPM.com Contributors Matthew Nuccio; Kristin Morency Goldman; Azhelle Wade; Mary Couzin; Jason Welch; Bob Witkin; Chris Tidwell; Marty Brochstein. Interested in a subscription? Contact Mary Grogan at Mary@ TTPM.com. aNb Media, Inc. 149, W. 36th St., 10th Floor, New York, NY, 10018 · Phone: (646) 763-8710 · Fax: (646) 763-8727 Toys & Family Entertainment (TFE) is published three times per year by aNb Media. Copyright 2020 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 edtiors, contributing writers, or solicited or unsolicited documents are not necessarily those of management
What’s Trending? These trending lists are based on aNb Media’s consumer website, TTPM.com, and related YouTube channels. 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 October 2, 2020.
Top 10 Trending Toys Backyard Adventure Set Magformers
PJ Masks Air Jet, Romeo's Flying Factory Playset, and 2 in 1 Mobile HQ Just Play
Top 3 Trending Pet
Pictionary Air Mattel Minnie Mouse Party & Play Pup and E-I-Oh! Mickey Mouse Just Play Blue's Clues & You Peek-ABlue, Peek-A-Boo Magenta, and Dance-Along Blue Just Play Star Wars The Child Animatronic Edition Hasbro Hatchimals Colleggtibles The Eggventure Game Cardinal Squeakee the Balloon Dog Moose Toys What Do You Meme? What Do You Meme, LLC. Ryan's World Mystery Spy Vault Just Play
Automatic Ball Launcher PetSafe K9 Sportsack PetSafe
Top 5 Trending Baby Green Hashtag Silicone Teether Little Standout Balloon Stroller Joovy
Brilliant Pad Brilliant Pet 2 LLC
Roarin’ Rainforest Jumperoo Fisher-Price Lamaze Cuddle and Squeak Koalas TOMY 2-in-1 Soothe'n Play Glider Plus Fisher-Price
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HERE’S A RECAP OF INDUSTRY HEADLINES • For more up-to-date news, visit aNbMedia.com • Sign up to receive FREE News Alerts on aNbMedia.com
Barbie Partners with Cardiff University Neuroscientists to Study Effects of Doll Play Barbie, and a team of neuroscientists from Cardiff University, announced findings of a new study conducted using neuroscience for the first time to explore the positive impact doll play has on children, bringing to light new evidence that doll play activates brain regions that allow children to develop empathy and social information processing skills, even when playing by themselves. Senior lecturer Dr. Sarah Gerson and colleagues at Cardiff University’s Center for Human Developmental Science used neuroimaging technology to provide the first indications of the benefits of doll play at a brain level. Through monitoring the brain activity of 33 children between the ages of 4 and 8, as they played with a range of Barbie dolls, the team found that the posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS), a region of the brain associated with social information processing such as empathy, was activated even when the child was playing on their own. These benefits of solo doll play were shown to be equal for both boys and girls. ““This is a completely new finding. We use this area of the brain when we think about other people, especially when we think about another person’s thoughts or feelings. Dolls encourage them to create their own little imaginary worlds, as opposed to say, problem-solving or building games. They encourage children to think about other people and how they might interact with each other. The fact that we saw the pSTS to be active in our study shows that playing with dolls is helping them rehearse some of the social skills they will need in later life,” Dr. Gerson said.
Toy Association Names 2021 Toy Industry Hall of Fame Inductees The Toy Industry Hall of Fame will honor William C. Killgallon – who transformed the Etch A Sketch into a household name; Pleasant T. Rowland – the trailblazer who founded American Girl; and the late Margarete Steiff – inventor of the world’s first stuffed animal. Additionally, Phillip Bloom, founder of “The Bloom Report,” was inducted for his work as a toy news pioneer. This year’s Hall of Fame inductees were nominated and voted on by members of The Toy Association in recognition of their significant contributions to the industry and the impact they have had on the lives of children through a lifelong commitment to toys and play. They will join an impressive roster of 77 toy industry luminaries who have been inducted into the Hall since it was established in 1984, including those who brought to life Mickey Mouse (Walt Disney), Barbie (Ruth and Elliot Handler), The Muppets (Jim Henson), and more. The latest inductees will be honored during the virtual 21st annual Toy of the Year Awards (TOTY) on Friday, February 12, 2021. “This year’s Hall of Fame inductees have made an enduring mark on the toy industry and in the hearts of countless millions of children worldwide,” said Steve Pasierb, president & CEO of The Toy Association. “Phillip Bloom, William C. Killgallon, Pleasant T. Rowland, and Margarete Steiff are changemakers and innovators whose careers and inventions are an inspiration to us all. If these past months of the pandemic have taught us anything, it’s that toys and play have the awesome power to comfort, heal, and bring hope to kids both young and old. So, it is with great pleasure and pride that we announce their induction and celebrate their myriad achievements.”
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Mattel 75 Years and Fisher-Price 90 Years: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow with current and past Mattel presidents moderated by
Industry Trends and the Future of Play
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specialty toy & game industry. holiday selling season during the pandemic. -
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TTPM.com unveiled the 2020 Holiday Most Wanted List last month, highlighting the hottest toys in four categories: Entertainment; Learning & Active Play; Games & Activities; and Role Play & Imaginative Play. Toy companies exhibited their newest toys for the holiday season at TTPM's annual Holiday Showcase on September 17, hosted live in New York City in accordance with social distancing measures.
Entertainment Blue's Clue's & You Peek-A-Blue Just Play Blue's Clue's & You Really Smart Handy Dandy Notebook LeapFrog Care Bears Collectible Plush Basic Fun Disney Frozen 2 Adventure Storytelling Dolls Playmates Toys Imaginext DC Super Friends Super Surround Batcave Fisher-Price PAW Patrol Dino Rescue Patroller Spin Master PJ Masks Transforming 2 in 1 Mobile HQ Just Play Ryan's World Mystery Spy Vault Just Play Ryan's World Road Trip Mega Micro Egg Bonkers Toys Star Wars The Child Animatronic Edition Hasbro
Learning & Active Play 100 Animals Book LeapFrog ArmoGear Boxing Battle Nesstoy Baby Alive Baby Grows Up Hasbro Hatchimals Pixies Crystal Flyers Spin Master Hot Wheels City Ultimate Garage Mattel KidiZoom Creator Cam VTech Thank You Heroes Fisher-Price First Fridge, First Washer-Dryer, and First Oven Little Tikes Minnie Mouse Party and Play Pup Just Play Nerf Ultra Three Blaster Hasbro 10 tfe October 2020
TOP: The Child CENTER: Rainbow High BOTTOM: Squeakee
Care Bears Collectible Plush
Games & Activities Backyard Adventure Set Magformers Colors of the World Crayons Crayola Cool Maker Hollywood Hair Extension Maker Spin Master Drone Home Playmonster LEGO Art Sets LEGO LEGO DOTS LEGO LEGO Gear Bots Klutz LEGO Super Mario Construction Sets LEGO Na! Na! Na1 Surprise 3-in-1 Backpack Bedroom MGA Entertainment Shimmer'n Sparkle Gemex Gel Creations Studio Cra-Z-Art
Role Play & Imaginative Play Barbie Color Reveal Slumber Party Fun Set Mattel Blume Rainbow Sparkle Surprise Skyrocket Toys FurReal Mama Josie the Kangaroo Hasbro Itty Bitty Prettys Tea Party Collectibles ZURU Little Live Pets Gotta Go Flamingo Moose Toys L.O.L. Surprise! O.M.G. Remix Super Surprise MGA Entertainment Rainbocorns Sweet Shake Surprise ZURU Rainbow High Dolls MGA Entertainment Squeakee the Balloon Dog Moose Toys VIP Pets IMC Toys
W E N N! U F &
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INDUSTRY FORUM DESIGN EDGE
A Year Without Travel BY
By the time I was 24 years-old, the furthest I had world. They have shown me their culture, their been from my home on Long Island, New York cuisines, their cities, introduced me to their famiwas to visit my grandparents in Fort Lauderdale, lies and, to a great extent, they have exposed me to Florida. However, 10 years later, at 34 I had been the “world at large”. I feel truly blessed to do what around the world so many I do. But... times, that twice I had to 2020 certainly slammed have pages added to my the breaks on any travel. Trade shows allow people passport…and almost all Even before COVID-19, of that was for work. the 2020 toy travel circuit a chance to see other culThe toy industry is a glowas off to a very rocky tures and learn how their start. Traditionally, the bal business with a trade show circuit that annually Toy Industry trade show unique sense of aesthetic bounces from Hong Kong season kicks off with the to Germany to New York directs the way they design Hong Kong Toy and Game to Tokyo to London to Los Fair. Every year, a few days Angeles and to Dallas befo- and market their toys and after the New Year holiday, re starting all over again. In a large chunk of the toy games. addition, the industry has industry fills planes aroua network of factories, mand the world to head over nufactures, distributors and localized trade shows to Kowloon, Hong Kong to meet with suppliers, that have brought me to some places that I never buyers and factories. But 2020 was different from even knew existed. At last count I had been to 34 the onset with many people of the industry opting countries in all, solely for the purpose of work. to cancel their trips due to their concerns for perI’ve been going somewhere at least twice a mon- sonal safety as political unrest and protests plath, on average, for the last 20-plus years. And whi- gued Hong Kong. le that lifestyle may not suit some, personally, I However, I was all set to go to Hong Kong in spilove it! Through my work travels, I have not only te of all this but then, only a few weeks before the seen some fantastic and sometimes exotic places, show, protesters and police faced off in the streets but also I made so many great friends around the of Kowloon, leaving cars burned and store win-
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Matt Nuccio reflects on the loss of international toy industry trade shows in 2020.
dows broken. As a father of two boys, I had to make the decision to put them first and not go. Of course, nothing happened during the window that I was set to be there, so I somewhat regretted not going...that is until rumbling of a new virus from China started to make headlines. A few weeks later the industry and myself were in Nuremberg Germany, for Spielwarenmesse, the largest toy trade show in the world. By this time, COVID-19 had started making headlines and had become an industry concern as China began to close factories and then started to quarantine entirely in the hopes of keeping the virus at bay. Meanwhile, in Spielwarenmesse, the China Pavilion was a ghost town as nearly no westerners would enter it out of fear of catching this new virus. In early February, the industry would unknowingly meet for the last time in 2020, at the New York Toy Fair. Subsequent shows would soon be canceled around the world and zoom meetings would be deemed “the new normal”. So what will be the ultimate effect of a year without travel upon our industry? While some of us say it won’t make a difference, I couldn’t disagree more. Trade shows, in my opinion are not only an important part to our industry, they are essential! They are part of a greater ecosystem that allows everyone to meet on a literal common ground. It is the opportunity for industry friends to catch up, shoot the gab, and it allows for competi-
INDUSTRY FORUM DESIGN EDGE
tive companies to meet at events, share meals and have drinks together while getting to know the human sides of one another. Trade shows allow people a chance to see other cultures and learn how their unique sense of aesthetic directs the way they design and market their toys and games. They allow suppliers and buyers the chance to walk around and see an actual productive landscape and interact with tangible product. Trade shows foster a communal unity that no chat room on Zoom would be large enough to handle, nor are they nurturing enough to encourage the quality of interaction that is present when meeting on the proverbial common ground . And, so while it may be convenient to roll out of bed, turn on screen, log in and become a floating head in a chat room, the world will be a better place when we all have pants on, shirts buttoned, and are meeting face-to-face, coffee and ideas in hand. I can’t wait until we all finally get to meet again in person. Our industry will be stronger and more welcoming then ever. I hope to see you all soon.
The world will be a better place when we all have pants on, shirts buttoned, and are meeting face-to-face, coffee and ideas in hand.
Cheers to the times ahead. 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 Matt@DesignEdge.net.
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Games like Adventerra’s PowerHaus enable kids to practice and perfect their skills in math, science, reading, logic, and teamwork.
With traditional schooling being replaced by home, online, and hybrid models, families are turning to toys more than ever to keep learning fresh and fun for kids. “When schools shut down in spring, we saw a surge in demand for outdoor toys, games, and arts & crafts to keep kids occupied while stuck at home,” noted Adrienne Appell, trend expert at The Toy Association. “This fall, parents will continue to seek out toys in those categories and will likely also be on the hunt for STEAM and educational toys – as well as toys that are not strictly
educational, but help kids build real-world skills – to supplement learning as the new school year gets underway.” Learning full- or part-time at home is a major departure for both kids and parents, and the experience varies widely depending on each family’s situation, each school district’s approach, and the learning styles and abilities of individual kids. Even within the same family, you might have one child that thrives on the inde-
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ment and craves social interaction. “Depending on each child’s unique needs, there are certainly many different ways to adapt, and toys can be a good bridge between curriculum and fun,” added Appell. Language & Literacy Rena Nathanson, CEO at Bananagrams, Inc., says that year-todate revenue is up 100 percent on classic Bananagrams and 25 percent on My First Bananagrams (a version of the game aimed at preschoolers). “Initially we attributed the growth to the overall trend in board gaming while families have been home quarantining together, but now we are seeing more and more people incorporating our games into their homeschooling process since our letter tiles are a great teaching tool,” said Nathanson. “We’ve also pivoted our Bananagrams School Club this year to offer printable online resources for use at home.” A game like Bananagrams can be used to teach kids of multiple ages at the same time, helping them master everything from letter recognition and sight words, to sentence structure and critical thinking. Allowing children to build their reading and vocabulary skills through tactile play can help them progress more quickly – and have fun while they’re at it. Offscreen Learning Building is known to help kids hone their creative and cognitive skills – and CreateOn’s building sets offer lots of options, while keeping kids engaged without the use of screens. Steve Rosen, vice president of CreateOn, says that as a dad jugiPad for six hours a day.” “At CreateOn, we built our products centered around early educational play patterns and I have been able to integrate our toys into my son’s daily life during his breaks or even during a core curriculum activity,” Rosen said. “Our products are great activities for parents and kids to engage and interact together, plus it gets them away from the screen which I know for all of us as parents we want and need right now!” motor skills and dexterity as they build a rocket using the set’s Magna-Tiles. “They can take their rocket ship apart and during science lessons they can sequence the planets which are on the back of the tiles, since our tiles are double-sided,” he said. The 123 School Bus offers a similar play pattern for younger
use numbers and functions to add, subtract, and create rudimentary equations. Getting Into Games The games & puzzles supercategory was up a staggering 37 to games for entertainment during quarantine. Games continue to be a great teaching tool for kids, enabling them to practice and perfect their skills in math, science, reading, logic, and teamwork, said Sue Mundell, CEO of Adventerra Games North America. “Our games are the perfect way to get kids involved in schoolwork without them even knowing they are learning,” said Munhelping parents get their kids to stop wasting water, energy, etc., as well as to recycle items rather than throwing them in the trash. Since all kids are different, all our games include elements of both cooperation and competition, so everyone can have fun.” Adventerra’s WaterGame gets kids to practice their arithmetic skills as they gain or lose water from their personal water tank, depending on whether the card they have drawn depicts water-saving or water-wasting behaviors. The included quiz cards require reading and answering questions about water, based on fourth grade science standards. The Recycle Rally game helps with logistics skills, with players given assignments to collect a town’s recycling, and the company’s Global Warning game requires kids to assess solution cards they have drawn to determine which are the best match for the global warming problems on the board. Finding the “Right” Toy Claire Green, president of Parents’ Choice Foundation, the nasays the foundation has long advocated for the power of learning through play. However, picking the “right” toy for learning really depends on the interests of the individual child. “We believe that the best toys prompt questions, they don’t provide answers. That said, a great toy for some may be building sets, and for others, crayons or paints,” said Green. “A science kit, a puppet, a play kitchen, or a bicycle all provide opportunities to learn through exploring the world both practically and imaginatively.” For more trendspotting… Visit www.ToyAssociation.org/ Trends to check out The Toy Association’s latest trend reports and be sure to follow The Toy Association on Facebook (@TheToyAssociation), Twitter (@TheToyAssoc), and LinkedIn for up-to-theminute toy industry news & trends.
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When I look at my upcoming 2021 toy trade show calendar, all I see is red. COVID-19 rocked the toy industry, throwing off decades of habitual in-person trade show behavior and forcing it all either online or into nonexistence. Our biggest trade shows are postponed now, and they’ve been pushed back so far in my calendar that in my mind, they might as well be canceled. In place of insane shipping fees, expensive plane tickets, luxury hotel rooms, and firm handshakes, we suddenly had awkward Zoom pitch meetings, complicated trade show platforms, and a truly global perspective. And I know, I know; we all saw the toy industry as a truly “global” industry long before the pandemic. How could we not? We work with factories all over the globe to create our products, we ship and sell those prodOur high-ticket ucts all over the globe, so how were trade shows held we not already in expensive cities thinking globally? couldn’t easily serve Because our global business never ofas an entry point fered an easy entry for someone just point for non-toy industry people. getting started. The toy industry
is notorious for being a closed-off industry. Tough and expensive to break into. Our high-ticket trade shows held in expensive cities couldn’t easily serve as an entry point for someone just getting started. And with most of our buyers forming deals at trade shows or at in-person meetings, newcomers struggled to connect. Then COVID-19 happened. And we ALL went online. When our toy trade shows went online it freed up time and opened up possibilities. We could schedule more meetings, and attend them with less stress and more open minds. We’re at the early stage of a dot-com boom that happened in other industries long ago. And all of this access could change the way that new toys are bought, and how brands are discovered for the foreseeable future.
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!"#$%&'()*+'$, &-.)&+()/+0/As I explored my way Now is the time to fine tune through all of the different your copy for clicks. online trade shows this Now is the time to nail down year, from ASTRA Camp, With virtual booths, size is no the automated funnel that takes to Toy Fair Everywhere, and a booth visitor from your landlonger an issue. Exhibitors won’t ing page to your sales form. Licensing Week Virtual, one thing became abunIf you’re a savvy digital marrun out of wall space to display dantly clear to me. This is keter, your wheels are already the new normal, these platturning. These platforms are product, or feel cramped in a forms are not going away. opening up a whole new host of Platforms like Toy Fair digital marketing opportunities fabric-walled meeting room or and strategies that both big and Everywhere, Licensing Week Virtual, and ASTRA small toy companies can put at a counter-height table. Camp all offer invaluinto place if they just get a little able core features that are creative. leveling the playing field In marketing, it’s all about between smaller and bigger sending the right message to the toy companies. right audience in the right medium at the right time. These With virtual booths, size is no longer an issue. Exhibinew online toy trade shows have already solved part of tors won’t run out of wall space to display product, or feel the equation — they created the right medium. And that cramped in a fabric-walled meeting room or at a counter medium is an easy-to-use online platform that categorizes height table. Instead, focus is put on the quality of your attendees and allows them to find and connect with the marketing materials and the quality of your goods, areas in people and products they need for their business, when which new toypreneurs are happy to and capable of comthey need them. peting. I believe that what is being created right now, industry-wide, is the Facebook of the toy industry. It’s happening with almost every single toy trade show organization About Azhelle Wade we have. These platforms are connecting exhibitors, A cancer survivor, 3x patented inventor, Women in Toys buyers, salespeople, agents, inventors, and designers in a Wonder Woman award finalist, and award-winning designstrategic, data-focused way. The platforms are gathering er, Azhelle Wade has climbed up and across the ladder in the information about who we are in the toy industry and toy industry for over 10 years with companies like Toys’R’ what types of toy products and services we need. And with Us, Horizon Group USA, Madame Alexander, and Creative that data, the algorithm can show us who in that database Kids. Now, as the President of The Toy Coach and host of the is the best fit to provide that good or service. podcast, Making It in The Toy Industry, Azhelle creates onBut here’s the catch. The clock is ticking. line resources that help educate inventors and entrepreneurs If new toy companies want to benefit from this industry about the toy biz. shift before they’re priced out of it, they’ve got to get onto You can learn more about Azhelle at www.TheToyCoach. these platforms now. As with any social platform, the com and about her podcast at www.MakingItInTheToyInearly adapters are the ones that thrive the most. Now is dustry.com. the time. Now is the time to perfect your sizzles and reels.
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Toy Family Series: Q&A with The Albert Family !"#$%&'$()*+),-%+)./01'"
Although sadly I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t meet Richard and Michaelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s parents, based on their description of their parents, the apples did not fall far from the Albert family tree! Working with Richard and Michael on this article was great fun as they are comedic, big hearted, and savvy business people who love this business and their family. This is the feel good read of your October! -Mary Couzin
!"#$%&'()*+,%-.'%."/%011+%*+2'3214%"+4%5.'%*/%*+6 2'3214%+'57 %%%Our parents provided us with some great life lessons (not that we always listened), but the most important one was the
importance of family. For this reason, it seemed natural that we have all been in the industry since the late 1960s when our father (Harvey) bought a distribution company that dealt in toys. When Dad was posthumously inducted into the Canadian Toy Hall of Fame, it was truly a family honor.
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His three sons officially became involved in the 1980s. Each brought unique strengths. Michael in Sales, Kenny in marketing, and I [Richard] fell in love with operations, international and most of all the acquisition side. The inventing community contains some of the greatest people I know. That “WOW” moment when you see something is incredible. Canada Games closed its doors in the late 1990s but not without having brought to market some incredibly successful products to Canada, and in some instances, the world. Products such as Balderdash, Hedbanz, Uno (to Canada), and of course POGs, to name a few. Kenny moved off into another endeavor while Michael and I remain committed to making kids smile. We have recently come back to working together and nothing could be greater. I started off by referring to our parents. Miraculously, it only took two of them to raise us, so to leave our CFO (“Chief Family Officer”) out is simply impossible. Mom served as the glue that held the various Albert family puzzle pieces together. She was a going concern on her own and got us all involved in every one of her charitable causes from a very young age. We simply did it all together. When we were growing teens, she opened a retail outlet together with her children and it remained a going concern after our transition into the toy industry until Mom passed five years ago. Mom was also involved in toys as CCO (Chief Catering Officer) at the Canadian toy fairs and most importantly… if Mom liked a product, we knew we had a close out on our hands.
Do you think the next generation will get involved? Like us, our children — and now our children’s children — have been
involved since day one. Play testing, appearing on packages and in catalogues. We all have raised our children to be strong, independent thinkers; teaching them, like our parents did for us, to do what you love and to love what you do. If and when they join is up to them but there are signals that perhaps one or two show the signs of insanity to enter this field.
“I can see in these tech generations the realization that they missed something along the way and I hope that the end result is a return to true play.” -Richard Albert How has business changed over the years? The change has been incredible since joining the industry so it is hard to know where to begin to answer. One of the biggest changes has been the vendor/retailer relationship at the mass level. The partnership pendulum has shifted so far to the retailer side, likely because of the pressures placed on them to deliver the volumes and margins. If you are not among the top companies, securing that one foot of space in the stores is a real challenge. Most of the other changes are a result of technology. So much of our product has evolved into what I call “watch me” toys. They play for you. This is a real disappointment in my opinion because it removes the interaction between
users and downplays imagination and cooperation. Also, because of the advancements, the compression of a toy life cycle is impacted. This hurts the true creative development of toys because the window does not allow for recovery of the investments necessary to make a really great toy. Age compression is worrisome. We are losing children to the toy aisle at an increasingly younger age as they transition to online entertainment options. This is essentially solitary play which, to me, is dangerous because it reduces the interaction between kids. They are not socializing like we did as children. I can see in these tech generations the realization that they missed something along the way and I hope that the end result is a return to true play.
What advice do you have for others thinking of joining the family business? I am going to change this question to cover more than just our family and make it for any family business. First piece of advice is that someone has to have the final say. Democracy is great, but if there is a tie, someone has to break it. You can agree to disagree but when the boardroom door opens, everyone is on the same page moving forward. Put the pride aside. Another is that if you are going into the family business, do not do it out of a sense of obligation or as a path of least resistance. Make certain that you have something to offer. A point of difference, a hole that needs filling, and do it because you love it. Most important is segregating work from family because at the end of the day, family is the most important thing you have. I said to Michael prior to joining him that if things did not work out, I would just go back to being his brother. That’s all that really counts. October 2020 tfe 19
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Be Reassured When Your Toys Are Insured Just as important as toys are to the building blocks of childhood, so too is product liability insurance (PLI), to toy makers. Though far less fun, PLI provides financial stability to toy manufacturers so they can keep creating new and innovative toys for our youngest generation. All major USA retailers (including Walmart, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Costco), require manufacturers to carry product liability insurance. As careful as you are to ensure the safety and quality of your products, accidents do occur. This is where product liability insurance comes in to play. So what is product liability insurance? Product liability insurance protects your company against loss due to bodily injury and property damage caused by your products. When an accident does occur and a claim is filed against your company, your product liability insurance policy would cover the legal and financial losses that could otherwise be an out-of-pocket expense. So you’re convinced. Now what? It is time to find an insurance agency! You need an agency that is familiar with the unique demands of the toy industry. A knowledgeable agent can provide a policy that is catered to your company’s specific needs, and can also offer quotations for coverages such as ocean cargo insurance, property insurance, cyber insurance, employment practices liability insurance, and D&O (Directors & Officers) insurance. Knowing the Lingo While searching for the right insurance coverage for your company, you will undoubtedly come across dozens of different types of policies, which can be overwhelming. Insurance terms can seem like another language at times, and it can be hard to determine which type of coverage fits your business needs. The work to find, apply, and manage an insurance policy can feeling daunting, especially for small businesses that do not have a dedicated insurance or risk management department. To help ease this process here is a list of over common insurance policies (other than product liability insurance), for companies in the toy industry. •
Employment Practices Liability (EPL) Insurance: A type of liability insurance covering wrongful acts arising from the employment process (sexual harassment, wrongful termination, discrimination, etc.) Ocean Cargo Insurance: This is coverage that pro-
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tects against loss of products while in transit internationally or domestically. Cyber Liability Insurance: This is a type of policy that covers liability or loss related to the use of internet (for instance, data breaches, hacking etc.) D&O Insurance: A type of liability insurance for directors and senior executives, which reimburses the cost from lawsuits arising out of poor management decisions, shareholder grievances, and other acts committed in good faith. Commercial Property Insurance: A type of insurance which covers buildings and property owned by a business.
If you are interested in obtaining a no obligation quotation from an agency with over fifty years of experience in the toy industry, please contact Bob or Jason today Jason Welch President of York-Jersey Underwriters email@example.com 732-842-2012 ext. 318 Bob Witkin Toy Industry & Juvenile Products Specialist firstname.lastname@example.org 732-842-2012 ext. 331
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Available at RC Turbo Trick Ricky Make Ricky do real wheelies and 360° spins!
Lights & Sounds Ricky With sounds from the show!
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Launch, Race & Jump! Let’s Zoom Out!
Speed & Stunt Playset Ricky Zoom © Frog Box & Entertainment One UK Limited 2020
Home is Where the Heart (and Work) Is! By Chris Tidwell | CEO, Magformers LLC Chris Tidwell, CEO of Magformers, offers a look at how a toy company makes the transition to working from home.
2020 is certainly the most unusual and unexpected year I have faced. At the start of the year, our top issues seemed to be: a potential toy tariff; presentations to retailers focused against new product launches, as we hoped to gain additional shelf space; and which key items we would market. All this changed as the global pandemic took hold of our nation. In just 270 days there was no longer a normal process. Our Magformers office, based in Canton, Michigan saw required changes take effect in March. Our governor initiated a Stay-at-Home order. This meant that only workers deemed â&#x20AC;&#x153;essentialâ&#x20AC;? by the state, could go into their places of employment. As the CEO and shareholder of Magformers LLC, my duty remains to ensure that our staff is focused towards achieving company goals and objectives and making profitable sales. Despite COVID-19, we still have to
Taking a temperature check before an in-person meeting
move forward with our work in this new business world. So when the Stay-at-Home order took effect, we had to reimagine our work environment, but without changing the objectives or expected results towards company goals. These remained constant. Since staff could not be in the office, we had to make immediate plans for at-home working. Picking up computers, printers, binders, and tools were the initial steps towards our needed adjustments. Each department proceeded with these changes. The finance
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department happened to be aging and display designs for deemed “essential” — at least retailers — from Costco globthat is the way we read it — so ally and Toys’R’ Us Canada time was set aside to meet and to Learning Express, Hobby complete payroll, collect acLobby, Amazon, Walmart, counts receivable, etc. A few days and Target, among others. per week, socially distanced, Translating from English to with masks on, plenty of hand French and Spanish is a serisanitizer, and gloves available, ous matter for Erin Hartley, they worked from our office; the Senior Graphic Designer. rest of the week, they worked This task has grown from the from home. Our CFO, Joe Shin 19 items she worked with in has done a fine job of managing 2013 to now over 220 items all of the changes with his team. from Magformers. Yearly, she Whether reviewing payments of works on 25 to 30 new items, shipments, or checking invoicnot including exclusives or es and accuracy of warehouse special items. As her two inventory, his team has diligently young children are currently overseen these important tasks. not attending their closed Gymworld, our parent compapreschool, she must occasionny based in Seoul, expects us ally attend to them during to close our books within five work time. She balances her days of the month’s end, even workload along with the !"#$%&'()*+#*,$-#&+$&-$.#/$0)*1$!)2$3&4*$5656$47$3#8*9&*2 now. Assuredly the finance team parental demands that arise gives vigorous efforts in completing their tasks, partly at our in her house. office, partly at their homes; even sometimes on the weekend, Growth of online sales has heightened the importance of depending on the month. digital marketing strategies. Erin and Freddie invest time into Marketing is always a great area to spend time. Although the quality photography, such as high resolution images, box shots, team faced downsizing during this period of lifestyle or toys-only pictures, creative vidtime, they have found ways to get their deeos, and in-depth content — all of which partment work done. Freddie Jordan, Senior takes time and is done at their homes. Marketing Manager has made his way to the Online sales also impact the workload of office weekly since May, when state restricour customer service team. Each day they tions were scaled back. Freddie and I have key in orders from all over North Ameriengaged accounts and companies on Zoom ca. We have seen our specialty customers calls, conference calls, WeChat, Whatsapp, re-opening their doors over the last few FaceTime, KakoaTalk, and Skype. We have months. It has become clear that working seen many firsts during these encounters. from home is a new and different experience for most of the Despite the lack of current trade shows to attend live, Freddie customer service staff. National Accounts Customer Service and his team prepare social media updates on a daily basis. Manager, Marianne Turner, summed it up this way: “I am They meet deadlines for trade advertising and complete packworking more hours than ever. Being at home, work never
Growth of online sales has heightened the importance of digital marketing.
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!"#$%&"'()*+$"+$ Home is Where the Heart (and Work) Is!, continued stops.” Marianne was my first hire for Magformers.In 2012, she was reviewing 14 items and one brand; she now reviews a listing of 600 items and six brands. She manages a staff of six remotely. When I call her, she answers the phone and when I text her, she replies. But I can’t walk over to her desk and find her anywhere. The sales department is dealing with its own new challenges. In-person, face-to-face meetings are currently gone, toy fairs canceled, trade shows halted, no airplanes to catch, and no reps to go meet in stores or at headquarters —so meetings are handled differently. Merle Saddick, Senior Sales and Operations Director for North America is a creative and persistent person. She is managing her business from her home in New Jersey. Whether engaging key accounts, such as Amazon, Nordstrom, or the Qurate Retail Group (QVC, HSN, Zulily) or handling operational aspects for Costco’s business globally, she uses her strength in logistics and operational processes to make our business happen. Using email, texting, and phone calls, she gets it done. Merle, like Marianne, never seems to be checking the clock to see when the work day is over. She doesn’t think that way, and my phone log with her proves it. As if the Magformers workload isn’t enough, Merle is also involved in various groups including the Toy Association IP Committee, and Women in Toys, Licensing and Entertainment. Scott Head, National Sales Manager, will soon complete his eighth year at Magformers. He is used to traveling and working with his specialty rep groups around the U.S. He directly handles accounts such as Hobby Lobby, Learning Express Headquarters, Mills Fleet, and a number of others. Between the reps and the accounts, he has lots and lots of email and phone time. Being on the road 10 to 12 nights a month has translated to being on a computer and talking on the phone many hours per day while working from hom. Despite these obstacles, Scott participated in an American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) Camp virtual trade show, where, in keeping with the theme of camping, he set up outside his home and presented to ASTRA members. He might have
stayed there an extra week, some report. Most of our staff will continue working from home until the end of this year. The current plan is for people to return to the office at the beginning of January. By exception, people come into the office to retrieve supplies, check mail, or meet in-person wearing masks and socially distancing. I do know, without exception, that they are reachable daily. We’re part of this children’s toy industry. We have a unique position in providing fun for children. Our products ignite their imagination, enhance learning, and create fun. These toy products are currently, and I believe most often enjoyed at home. Is there any better place to have our children than at home? Furthermore, is there any better place for them to have us working?
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VIP Pets: More Than a Collectible, a Content Experience! In 2018, IMC Toys made a name for itself in the blind collectible and baby doll category with the launch of evergreen lines, Cry Babies and Cry Babies Magic Tears. In two years, their North American business experienced a more than 300% lift in sales and 400 million media impressions, becoming a toy box staple. Now, with the launch of its latest line —VIP Pets —IMC aims to create a content-forward, immersive play experience for young collectors. IMC launched VIP Pets earlier this year, and the product sold
With this line, IMC developed an instant water-reveal experience with multiple layers. Each VIP Pet is concealed in a mousse bottle-shaped capsule, a nod to the hairstyling theme of
the top of the mousse bottle cap, pour water over the mousse bottle, and watch the towel dissolve, revealing 12 inches different hairstyles to replicate. IMC Toys began developing the VIP Pets brand with a $1.8 million dollar investment in content production on top -
themes rooted in friendship, adventure, and — of course —fabulous hair.
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!"#$%&'($) &*+,)-*.) /(0"1')2"3,) 4563)/3780,9) In 2017 NessToy first launched its brand, ArmoGear, aiming to make at-home laser tag possible an affordable option for families. The company sought to deliver a fully loaded and arcade-style version of laser tag that could be played anywhere, at any time. Laser Battle was born, and became a customer favorite, winning a 2018 Independent Toy Award from Toy Shop UK. In the last few years, the brand has been growing its reputation for high-quality products for active kids (and adults) — its Water Battle set, featuring water guns that can shoot up to a 16-foot range and color-changing vests with water-activated targets — was a top product this past summer. Most recently, Nesstoy launched the ArmoGear Boxing Battle in September, in time for the holiday shopping season. The interactive boxing game features three build-in gameplay modes, each using LED touch-sensitive targets to track punches and jabs and decide a winner at the end of every round. When designing this product, safety and quality was top of mind for Nesstoy Each vest was created with thick foam padding at the back, and cushioned pillow-like gloves to protect from harm. Like the previous two sets, Boxing Battle has earned Nesstoy widespread praise, including a 2020 Toy Shop UK Gold Medal and a spot on TTPM’s 2020 Most Wanted List. Nesstoy’s history dates back to 2004, when Isamar Margareten and his wife Esther banded together to bring their Hassidic community custom toys that spoke to their clientele. Working with factories one-on-one, they developed toys with Hebrew and Yiddish voice chips and lettering. Seeing how positively children responded, they decided to expand the business. Since then, the company has established a number of brands, including not just ArmoGear, but also KidzLane — focused high-tech as well as educational-inspired toys for preschoolers to pre-teens —and Croove — which specializes in electronic audio gear and toys, such as karaoke machines for kids —among other brands.
As Nesstoy continues to develop new products, its priority is meeting its high standards for quality. Even as CEO, one of Isamar’s favorite tasks is personally testing each product during the development process. The company’s quality assurance team, based in Hong Kong, also puts each prdouct through rigorous testing. Nesstoy’s ArmoGear line is currently available on Amazon, and going forward, the company is looking for opportunities to partner with large brick-and-mortar retailers to get products onto store shelves. Additionally, the company hopes to expand into even more territories, making Nesstoy products more widely available across the globe.
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A Cautious Holiday for Licenses and Toys By Martin Brochstein | Licensing International Marty Brochstein, SVP of Industry Relations and Information at Licensing International, explores how licensees and toy manufacturers are preparing for the holiday shopping season in the age of COVID-19.
Similarly, Jakks Pacific CEO Stephen Berman said that Despite a strong year built so far on big gains in pandemic-friendly categories — i.e. higher-priced outdoor “We are expecting consumers to be cautious this holiday and sports toys, games and arts and crafts that have be- season and we are focusing on making basic evergreen come central to at-home activities — the U.S. toy industry toys with proven appeal and proven play patterns.” Of course, the state of the economy — i.e. unemployhas approached the holiday season with a healthy dose of ment, diminished wages, etc. — and the arc of the pancaution. The licensing sector is being challenged by the pandem- demic will have a profound effect on all holiday business, including toys. ic-driven closing and the uneven There’s no question that the reopening of movie theaters, and “We are expecting customers flow of business will be unfamiliar. the willingness of customers to to be cautious this holiday “There certainly will be a different buy tickets to see the films that had been expected to generate big season and we are focusing rhythm to the shopping season,” said Target CEO Brian Cornell sales of licensed toys. Studios have on making basic evergreen when the company reported firegularly re-scheduled (and rere-scheduled) major films; Mulan toys with proven appeal and nancial results in late summer. The company didn’t provide financial was delayed and then — in marproven play patterns, projections for the second half, kets outside China — migrated Stephen Berman, CEO, Jakks Pacific he said, largely because it’s “diffidirectly to the Disney+ streaming cult right now to forecast beyond platform. Wonder Woman 1984 is a couple weeks at a time.” now set to debut in the U.S. on Christmas Day. Added COO John Mulligan: “When we write down So toy and other licensees have scrambled to follow their lead, necessitating recasting of agreements. The word a forecast, the only thing we know is that it is wrong. So “partnership” has rarely been tested as regularly as it has how we adjust… as we see the data coming in is the most for this year and next as it relates to adjusting licensing important thing. Mostly this is about conversations (with vendors) and then having the agility and flexibility” to deals. Tried and true licensed properties are expected to con- make changes because everything is “moving very rapidly.” That lack of confidence in how the season will play out is tinue to fill the void left by the paucity of film-related items. For example, Funko typically generates 40-50% of apparent to vendors. “Retailers don’t have that sense of seits revenue from evergreen properties – it has 1,100 licens- curity that all of a sudden, things are going to open up and es – but that jumped to two thirds (66%) of sales in the it’s going to be a great holiday,” says one toy manufacturer. second quarter, President Andrew Perlmutter said when “We are taking a lot of our own inventory risk to support what we hope is going to be a healthy fourth quarter… In the company released financial results in August. 28 tfe October 2020
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merchandise planning, controlling the past, retailers with healthy it in shorter increments just as lead appetites would bring in their “The challenge will be on times for booking shipping from products FOB. Now we have takbig ticket items, which won’t Asia tripled to 6-8 weeks. It puts a en on a lot of that risk because sell after the holidays unless premium on moving goods quickretailers don’t know where things ly in response to changing order are going to be in the next three drastically discounted.” quantities. months, and they want to remain Jay Foreman, CEO, Basic Fun Vendors also have long known flexible.” that e-commerce retailers often Everyone is adapting. Walmart, for example, turned its normal in-person toy don’t take large inventory positions early in the season, testing program into a virtual exercise in developing its list causing them to back up in October with deliveries. Brick and mortar retailers could use this advantage to “front of top toys. The holiday sales season is expected by many to begin run” the holiday season, says Basic Fun CEO Jay Foreman. “If this works, it could result in sellouts in Q4,” says Forein earnest in October, due partly to Amazon moving its Prime Day to the early part of the month. And the toy in- man. “If companies can afford to be on back up and stock dustry hopes it will continue a strong first eight months, their top ten or twenty items — especially those selling for when U.S. toy sales jumped 18% through Aug. 29 to $11.9 $30 and less — domestically in Q4, they can pick up extra billion, according to Juli Lennett, VP and Toy Industry sales late. The challenge will be on big ticket items, which won’t sell after the holidays unless drastically discounted.” Advisor at NPD. During those first two thirds of the year, sales of games increased 43% — for example, when Funko launched its Elf Snowball Showdown card game online for pre-orders Marty Brochstein is responsible for Licensing Interna(delivery in October) last month, demand outstripped tional’s information resources, as well as its educational supply for a product that wasn’t expected to hit peak sales efforts. He also oversees the association’s information operuntil late November, said Funko President Andrew Perations, including the NewsLinks daily news and headline lmutter — while those of outdoor and sports toys jumped service, and coordinates all industry research. He speaks 30%. regularly at conferences and seminars around the world on The earlier start exacerbates logistical challenges that a wide range of licensing- and retail-related issues, writes began last year with U.S. tariffs on goods imported from regularly on licensing topics, and is widely quoted on issues China and were accelerated by the onset of the pandemic related to licensing, marketing and branding. that closed Chinese factories for several weeks. In many cases, retailers are keeping a tighter rein on
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Many early predictions about what was in store for the toy industry in 2020 have been totally upended since COVID-19 hit. In spite of it all, the first half of the year saw strong sales growth in the toys and games market. Nothing is certain going into the holiday shopping season and 2021, but manufacturers have learned how to adapt quickly and prepare for the unexpected to keep business afloat. Read on to find out how COVID-19 transformed the toy business within months this year, and how an industry of innovators have been thinking outside the box to meet those changes.
“Our production is at full capacity and customers will not see an impact this fall,” Frankowski said. WowWee Chief Technology Officer Davin Sufer noted that there were some delays right after the Chinese New Year, when China was on lockdown. Since then, WowWee has adjusted to new methods of conducting business. “The good news is we have a strong team in Hong Kong who have stepped up to the challenge and have been keeping everything on track,” Sufer said.
Manufacturing as usual Though the onset of the pandemic, when China was hit hard, created temporary supply chain disruptions, toy companies report that manufacturing bounced back quickly. “Outside of a disruption at the end of February and early March, things got back on track quickly and are back on line at full capacity ever since,” Jay Foreman, CEO of Basic Fun!, said. Ronnie Frankowski, Chief Marketing Officer at Moose Toys, said that the company’s shift to working from home for employees around the world presented “unique challenges,” but that Moose’s supply chain teams and partners have managed to minimize disruptions to manufacturing and delivery of goods.
New ways to launch Unable to shoot television commercials or host retail events in-person, toy companies are rethinking how to launch and generate excitement around new products. Laura Henderson, SVP of Marketing for Spin Master, noted that the company had to “get creative” in order to execute commercials and how-to videos and plan marketing all from home. “We worked with talent remotely and in some cases casted real families, directed virtually, and ultimately delivered an incredible creative foundation to best showcase our imaginative toys,” Henderson said. “The challenges actually inspired new creative formats, platforms, and approaches that we will continue with into the future.”
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FEATURED CONTENT Meanwhile, Moose Toys has leaned on partnerships with influencers to create buzz for its launches. When COVID-19 halted television commercial production, the company turned to social media influencers to promote its Jelli Rez line. “We collaborated with top social media influencers to shoot high energy footage showcasing thier Jelli Rez creations,” Frankowski said. “Videos were compiled for the Jelli Rez TV commercial and posted on each creator’s account for a comprehensive social media-inspired campaign.” And for the launch of its licensed Collins Key game, Moose partnered with YouTube content creator duo Collins and Devan Key, who hosted a celebration event with fans via Instagram Live. “While in-person or in-retail launch events weren’t possible, we created fun virtual events,” Frankowski said. Virtual fan experiences Toy and game-focused live gatherings geared toward consumers can help establish a loyal fanbase and sense of community around products, companies, and brands. With festivals and conventions canceled, manufacturers sought to fill the gap virtually this year — and in doing so, discovered new ways to engage with fans. Hasbro launched its first-ever PulseCon event on September 25 and 26, a virtual fan convention streamed live on the Hasbro Pulse YouTube channel. The event featured panels, celebrity guests, musical performances, and product reveals — all of which fans could access from their computers, at home. “Given that many of the fan conventions were canceled this year, we wanted to bring some of the excitement and thrill that we normally see at these cons to our fans in a safe, meaningful way,” Eric Nyman, Chief Consumer Officer at Hasbro said. Virtual events also create the possibility of reaching a broader scope of fans globally. Each year, Breyer Horses hosts BreyerFest, an annual convention for horse fans and model horse hobbyists, which drew 34,500 attendees to Lexington, Kentucky in 2019. BreyerFest continued in 2020, this time virtually. “For 2020, BreyerFest went virtual and saw record attendance, drawing from all 50 states and over 100 countries overseas,” EVP of Brand and New Buisness Development Rick Rekedal said. Social media helped bolster the event as “influencers joined in with virtual BreyerFest offshoots of their own, creating a huge level of engagement, from our most veteran collectors to brand new fans.” Over the summer, Spin Master participated in tabletop gaming convention GenCon, which also went remote this year. VP of Omni Channel Marketing and Partnerships, Tor Sirset, explained that the company leveraged the opportunity “by creating an interactive, multi-day Titanic
Experience to introduce our new strategy game.” “We had over 20,000 people attend and experience our Virtual Showroom site,” Sirset continued. “We have created a unique experience for our buyers that provides brand theater and deeper engagement with products and properties.” Trade shows, reimagined This month, The Toy Association confirmed plans to postpone New York Toy Fair — which typically takes place each February — to May 1-4, 2021, at the Jacob K. Javits Center. This news came after The Toy Association announced that Toy Fair Dallas 2020, scheduled for this month, would not be taking place (the Association said it remains committed to hosting Toy Fair Dallas at the Dallas Market Center next October). Other major toy, licensing, and entertainment trade shows scheduled for this year — including Licensing Expo, ASTRA Marketplace & Academy, ABC Kids Expo, and more —were canceled, with some events slated for 2021 already being postponed. In a few cases, trade associations and show organizers have arranged virtual trade shows in lieu of live events — such as Toy Fair Everywhere, the ABC Virtual Trade Show, Festival of Licensing, and ASTRA Camp. Adapting to the virtual trade show experience comes with its challenges —but also some silver linings. In addition to exhibiting at virtual trade shows and expos, several manufacturers have launched their own digital showrooms or utilized video conferencing platforms like Zoom to host product previews, showcases, and other similar events that enable them to demonstrate product to buyers remotely. “Handling events digitally means we can quickly pivot and change things on the spot,” Goliath Games Director of Marketing Mary Higbe pointed out. This month, Goliath hosts Game Changers, a fully virtual, Goliath-centric preview of what’s to come in 2021. “Attendees will be treated to a world-class digital experience, and we’re working diligently to ensure that no detail is overlooked,” Higbe said. “We’re also able to provide a highly customized experience for each attendee.” PlayMonster CEO Bob Wann said that “it has been easier than we anticipated to show and demonstrate new product in a virtual format” at the trade shows PlayMonster has attended so far. “Additionally, it has been easier to get extra face time with key retailer partners because they’re all working from home with more accessibility within their busy schedules.” Though the Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair is still moving forward for January 2021, several companies are opting not to attend or remain on the fence about exhibiting. Abacus Brands CEO Steve Rad said his company will “most likely not October 2020 tfe 31
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FEATURED CONTENT State of the Industry, continued exhibit in Hong Kong, “but that is dependent on other factors, including what buyers would go.” Moose Toys continues to monitor the latest news and government guidance, and will “make a call on what is best for Moose and all the team involved as we approach the end of the year,” Frankowski said. Foreman said Basic Fun does not plan to see customers in January, as he doesn’t “expect any customers to be able to travel to Hong Kong or China on traditional buying trips until mid to late 2021.” WowWee anticipates it will exhibit in Hong Kong “to a small degree,” Sufer said. “We don’t expect a lot of customers to be traveling at that time. [The] door is certainly open to this if business travel picks up, and travel restrictions ease,” he said. “However, currently there is a two-week quarantine for travelers visiting Hong Kong, which for most will be a showstopper.” Still, the consensus seems to be that manufacturers are eager to get back to in-person trade shows as soon as they believe it is safe and feasible to do so. Rad explained that Abacus Brands’ science and activity kits for children, which incorporate virtual and augmented reality features, are well-suited to hands-on demonstrations. “As a newer brand coming to market in 2020, we know how important it is to capture the in-person energy with our buyers,” he said. “Our product is experiential and has a real ‘wow factor’ aspect to it when meeting and testing it in person, so it can be challenging to demonstrate how immersive our edu-toy is to new eyes through a virtual meeting. With that said, we’re getting the same meetings with everyone that we met at New York Toy Fair who loved it.” Wann also underscored the long-term challenges of not being able to introduce product in a face-to-face setting. “Trying to create electricity and excitedment is still difficult when you’ve lost the touch and feel part of the business,” he said. “You can’t show product, touch product, experience product in the same way, and we really value the excitement of that, and even more importantly, the incredibly useful and relevant feedback our retailers provide that help us make product even better.” He added, “Virtual shows will not replace in-person shows, but rather the future will, and should, include a combination of both!” Familiar faces Manufacturers observed that retailers and consumers this year are gravitating toward familiar, trusted, and timeless brands and products. For consumers, these toys and games can provide a sense of comfort
in an uncertain time. “People have been looking for ways to engage and entertain their families at home, and this has, in particular, benefited classic, trusted brands and products based on classic time-proven play patterns,” Wann said. According to Rekedal, “with licenses pushing out, we have seen a renewed interest from our retail partners in expanding into dependable, evergreen brands like Breyer and The Big Dig.” Foreman said that Basic Fun will “focus more on brands and licenses that are already known by the consumer than brands that are launched from scratch.” “I imagine that online previews and trade shows will favor extensions of continuing lines and known IP, as well as vendors that are known by the retailer. I’d assume it would be hard to get a new line in front of a buyer this season,” he said. E-Commerce explodes Unsurprisingly, the pandemic has fast tracked the toy industry’s shift to e-commerce as many shoppers continue to avoid in-person shopping. Henderson said that when shoppers do make trips to the store, Spin Master anticipates that they will be shorter, “more mission-focused trips, potentially without kids, and fewer opportunities for impulse purchases in store.” As customers transition to shopping online, Henderson said “we are seeing more parent-driven decision-making.” “We expect the shift to e-commerce to continue as many customers who set up accounts with online retailers will likely find it easier to continue buying online,” she added. According to Frankowski, “e-commerce captured an incredible 15% market share gain in Q2 2020, versus the same quarter last year.” As a result, Moose Toys has observed “all retailers, even those traditionally weighted almost exclusively to brick and mortar, shifting their focus to online. Accordingly, we reweight our marketing mix in this direction as well, where it makes sense for specific brands.” Nyman said that the importance of digital content and e-commerce platforms is a “key strategic focus” for Hasbro, and the industry as a whole, through 2021. “In a very short space of time, access to entertainment and retail via digital platforms really accelerated at an unprecendented rate, and given the uncertainty surrounding the next year, that’s something we need to be mindful of in every aspect of the business,” he said.
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Have fun & save the planet! New for the Holidays: ECO FRIENDLY Preschool Games and Puzzles! Hungry Bins is an eco-friendly memory game for the whole family Cute cartoon bins introduce kids to recycling and composting Sustainably made, and so much fun to play and learn! Plus, 4 more preschool games & puzzles
Our 2020 Best Seller WaterGame is one of four exciting eco games for ages 7+ Players float down a river filled with challenges Kids win by saving and sharing water The more they work together, the more exciting it gets!
Contact us for 4th quarter specials!
!"#$%&'()*+$%&",-"#$!"./.0 A look at upcoming product releases from toy companies. Compiled by Victoria Sheridan. Adventerra Games A 2020 First Insight study found that 78% of millennials expect retailers to be more eco-friendly. Swiss-based Adventerra Games is doing its part to satisfy that demand. The company introduced four exciting eco board games for ages 7+ and 10+ to the US market in late 2019. They were a big hit, quickly winning over 30 awards. Now, the company is expanding with a fun new preschool line, more than doubling its offerings to nine titles. games gently show young children how to care for our world. Adorable sea creatures, a diverse cast of cute kids, and funny recycling bins introduce young kids to saving water, going green, and recycling. Animals at Risk is an endangered species matching game, and the delightful Polar Adventure roll & move game helps kids understand how they can help protect polar animalsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; habitats from melting. All parts are compostable or recyclable. Sustainably made, and so much fun to play!
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Breyer Each year, Breyer features a limited for one year Horse of the Year and their inspiration for the 2021 Horse of the Year is Hope. Hope for a brighter future and a better tomorrow is a uniting vision we all share. Breyer has partnered with Covenant House, which provides food, shelter, immediate crisis care, and an array of other in-house programs to support young adults experiencing homelessness and often hopelessness across the US, Canada and Latin America One dollar of each Hope, Horse of the Year, purchased goes to Covenant House to care for the youth who represent the future and give them hope to keep moving forward. Hope is available January 2021 for one year only. Endless Games Endless Games is expanding its jigsaw puzzle offerings with two new 1,000-piece puzzles: The Patriot and Peace on Earth. For ages 7 and up, they will join one of Endless Gamesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; best-selling products, the Playbill Broadway 1,000-piece puzzle.
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!"#$%&'()*+$%&",-"#$!"./.0 Hog Wild New from Hog Wild, the Chocolate Bunny Popper is a whimsical Easter-themed twist on the Poppers line. The Chocolate Bunny Popper is designed to look just like a delicious chocolate bunny found in Easter baskets everywhere. However, this little bunny can “shoot” its own Easter-themed, rainbow-colored dingle berries up to 20 feet. He comes packed with six safe foam balls — don’t forget to duck! For ages 4+. Also available in 2021, the Whirly Gig for ages 4+. With this colorful and quirky bubble and solution wand-in-one, simply whirl to make bubbles. The clever no-spill design of the Whirly Gig keeps kids mess free — the bubble solution is sealed in the container that’s part of the Whirly ready for more bubble fun!
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!"#$%&'()*+$%&",-"#$!"./.0 Horizon Group USA Horizon Group USA introduces three It’s So Me! tie dye kits, launching spring 2021 at Target: It’s So Me! Tie Dye Fashion Bandanas, It’s So Me! Tie Dye Tote Bag, and It’s So Me! Tie Dye Backpack for ages 8 and up. Transform any accessory into a spiral of tie-dye designs with these kits — from totally trendy twists, to sweet stripes and a radical rainbow iron-on transfer. Use the easy-to-follow instructions to learn how to perosnalize your clothing as well as the included accessory. The dye colors work best on 100% cotton and will remain vibrant by following the tie-dye care tips included.
Kess The Spooky Ball from Kess, for ages 6 and up, is a the ability to bounce, throw, and roll. As the ball bounces, the creepy spiders go crawling for a fun play pattern.
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!"#$%&'()*+$%&",-"#$!"./.0 Maccabi Art Create fun for the whole family with new NBA-licensed merchandise like the NBA Single Player Arcade with light, sound, and electronic function buttons,. Included are an electronic, moving backboard to keep score and challenge the player; NBA team stickers to customize the game and show some team spirit; three plastic basketballs; and more. Or, create some competitive fun with the NBA Double Player Arcade. Take aim with the spring loaded shooters and keep track of the game with the home and away scoreboards. Use the NBA logo sticker pack to personalize each side of the court. Comes with six plastic basketballs. Collect more Sportzies NBA legend players such as Magic Johnson, Scottie Pippen, Alonzo Mourning, Shaquille Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Neal, Julius Erving, detals â&#x20AC;&#x201D;recognizable facial features, a head that turns, and team licensed graphics are all includTake the game wherever you go with Pro Ball Portable Basketball. Ergonomic design and easy assembly let you set up almost anywhere. The height adjusts to grow with children over the years, and the electronic scoreboard comes with sound, lights, and displays the score electronically to create a stable platform. Includes ball, pump, and carry case to pack up Portable Basketball when the game is over.
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!"#$%&'()*+$%&",-"#$!"./.0 Playmobil Three new playsets will arrive from Playmobil in January 2021 to spark imaginative play. Welcome to an exciting day at the Large City Zoo! Enjoy fun for the whole family as you explore the zoo and learn about different animals from all over the world.
Large County Fair. Soar through the sky on the
Snow Beast Expedition. This snow vehicle with large tires
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Joy to g n N i r e e e n v d i i l De ren ild h C
Donate Today! The Toy Bank- The Toy Industry’s Charitable Arm email@example.com • thetoyfoundation.org
!"#$%&'()*+$%&",-"#$!"./.0 Play Monster Welcome to the future, where humanity is under constant attack from a brutal alien threat. Build to battle with Snap Ships, the new line from PlayMonster for ages 8 and up. Snap Ships is a versatile building system for creating multiple crafts with action play. All sets and pieces are interchangeable, so kids can build however they want using the multiple builds in each kit. Snap Ships create a 360-degree play experience for kids, offering a fast-paced, edgy “world,” adventurous storyline, building play, sturdy builds for action play, and a supporting app with Augmented Reality. The Gladius AC-75 Drop Ship, the Forge’s large and heavily-armed ship, is piloted by the gruff leader Dex and the spunky young pilot, Dee La. Gladius features a missile rack for high explosive ground attack, a pulse laser for heavy assault, and a heavy-life engine.
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!"#$%&'()*+$%&",-"#$!"./.0 SmartZone The all new 18-inch Proud and Pretty Kenya collection will make her way to store shelves in 2021. This marks Kenya’s debut into the 18-inch doll size. The doll features a poseable, tiltable head. She is available in three skin tones with three different hair colors and is size compatible with all other 18-inch dolls. Kenya’s success story has always been about her hair, and for the upcoming 30th year, Smartzone Ltd.’s Kenya comes with beautiful natural curly hair and dressed in printed fashions. Also arriving next year, the Kenya Dream Supreme Collection for little girls with big dreams. Kenya’s baby sister Keyara features hair play and nurturing play for younger girls. Like Kenya, Baby Keyara is available in three skin tones and hair colors, plus lots of hair play accessories. SmartZone will launch a new toy category this spring, Lite ‘Em Ups, featuring the feline characters from the animated series 44 Cats. Press the button on Milady or Lampo’s tail and they shoot a stream of light. Their tail becomes an easy-carry handle. With the Lite ‘Em Up microphone projector, streams of cat-shaped light shoots through the top of the microphone when the button is pressed simultaneously with music from 44 Cats.
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!"#$%&'()*+$%&",-"#$!"./.0 Super Impulse Super Impulse continues to expand its miniaturized toy offerings in spring 2021. Pac-Man and Hello Kitty are together again and ready to chomp tasty dots and pesky ghosts in the Tiny Arcade Hello Kitty PacMan. Each Tiny Arcade also comes with a keychain for take-everywhere fun, complete gameplay, full color, hi-res screen, authentic game sounds, joystick, and two directional buttons, in a backlit arcade style cabinet. Plus, introducing Pac-Man Tilt, the innovative new way to play Pac-Man. This is an exciting, handheld electronic video game controlled by motion, control Pac-Man through the maze and eat up all the pac-dots along the way. Both Pac-Man items recommended for ages 8+ Wacky Packages Minis Series 2 features 82 new mini toys and mini stickers, including three different levels of rare styles — Rare, Really Rare! and Forget About It Rare! For ages 8+, comes in blind box, 10-piece, 15-piece, and 20-piece sets. World’s Smallest Hot Wheels Series 6 with three new vehicles — Great Gatspeed, Mid Mill, and Formula Street — and World’s Smallest Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Series 2, introducing 5 Alarm, Tiger Shark, and V8 Bomber. Even more classic games get miniaturized with World’s Smallest Games — Scrabble, Monopoly, Operation, and Ouija. Finally, Super Impulse launches World’s Smallest Pop Culture Micro Figures, a new category of the Micro Action Figures, featuring highly-detailed original blister card, display stand for collectors, and storage, plus accessoBob Ross, and Richard Simmons.
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!"#$%&'()*+$%&",-"#$!"./.0 TOMY Based on the cartoon show, four new Ricky Zoom preschool toys from TOMY are zooming into 2021. Maxwell’s Transforming Playset includes Ricky, Maxwell, and a trailer that transforms into a mobile repair station when opened up, with six interactive features. Roll Ricky in and the tires. Ricky and Maxwell’s tires are designed to stand steady when stopped, while their front wheels feature articulated movements that let them steer left and right where they are pointed. Put on a show with Steel Awesome Multi-Pack , (pictured) a set that comes with Ricky Zoom — wearing his steel awesome mask —plus Loop Hoopla, and the superhero himself, Steel Awesome. Steel is a 4-inch bike with a cape; while Ricky and Loop are both three inches with exclusive designs. The package offers a removable scene to use as a backdrop during play time. For ages 3 and up, available exclusively at Target. The Wind & Launch Playset brings action and speed to playtime, with a launcher to give Ricky Zoom vehicles an extra burst of super speed. Place the toy motorcycle into the wheel launcher, wind up the dial, and set it down with plenty of room around it. The wheel launcher will explode and send the bike racing away. Take DJ Rumbler apart then put him back together again. Ricky Zoom Fix It DJ features a DJ’s free-rolling wheels offer push-along play. When the day’s construction jobs are complete, the screwdriver attaches right to DJ and the socket wrench stores easily underneath.
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!"#$%&'()*+$%&",-"#$!"./.0 University Games Skyler Innovations and University Games are coming together to deliver the next best party game for adults — Judge Your ‘Friends.’ Judge Your ‘Friends’ is a party game where players learn who their friends really are. The game is designed to tease out memories and experiences that might not come up in everyday conversation. Each scenario card is an opportunity to learn more about players’ nearest and dearest as well as new friends and acquaintances. And, perhaps best of all, it comes with a golden gavel. University Games and Skyler Innovations will bring Judge Your ‘Friends’ to game fans nationwide and around the globe in spring 2021. WowWee Introducing the Power Treads Nitro Stunt Pack, the super-charged follow-up to the popular Power Treads line from WowWee. Power Treads are all-surface vehicles Build Power Treads in a snap, then create a custom course using the Power Treads modular track set. With bold new colors, the Nitro Stunt Pack features a 15-piece modular track set and includes the all new Nitro Climbers. Now, Power Treads can conquer steeper hills for Nitro thrills. than 30 pieces. For ages 5 and older, it will race into retail spring 2021. 48 tfe October 2020!!!!!
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McFarlane Toys: Tanya Visano, Exec-
utive Vice President, Global Business Development and Licensing
McFarlane Toys has expanded its licensing pro gram with the addition of Tanya Visano. Visalicensing expertise, both domestically and internationally. She has held senior sales and licensing positions with global entertainment studios and iconic brands. Visano’s new role focuses on strategically growing McFarlane Toys’ domestic and international business. Additionally, she is tasked with leading the delivery of high-value transfer between partners and be involved in implementing new approaches to sharpen and deepen McFarlane Toys’ analytical capabilities. Visano is working closely with Licensing Director, Jen Cassidy, to continue its strategic growth of major properties and brands to its licensing portfolio.
Genius Brands International: Marc Rosenberg, President of Global Brands
Toy industry executive Marc Rosenberg was appointed Genius Brands International. Former Head of Marketing at Hasbro Toys and Tiger Electronics, Rosenberg is best known for his role in leading global marketing teams for brands such as Furby, GigaPets, and Hit Clips. More recently, cer at Zizzle, where he helped lead product launches for several licensed toy lines, including Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean, Disney’s High School Musical, and a number of licensed toy lines.
RedwoodVentures: Rick Greenberg, CEO
Rick Greenberg, a toy industry executive with a broad range
Cloudco Entertainment: Myl-
es Hobbs, VP, Global Distribution, and Daniel Barnes, Development Executive
Cloudco Entertainment expanded its Global Development, Production, and Distribution team with the additions of Myles Hobbs, joining the team as VP, Global Distribution, and Daniel Barnes, as Development Executive. Myles Hobbs is a seasoned sales executive with more than 12 years of experience in the kids TV industry. Most recently, he served as Associate Publisher for industry-leader Kidscreen, where he oversaw all sales efforts across the brand’s publishing and event platforms, including the world-renowned Kidscreen Summit. Hobbs is responsible for expanding global distribution at Cloudco. Most recently, Daniel Barnes worked at Moonbug Entertainment as a Development Executive across both branded content as well as original series such as Arpo, Blippi, Morphle, and Mia’s Magic Playground. Prior to that, he honed his development skills at Hasbro Studios and Amazon Studios working across multiple development projects. In his new role at Cloudco, Barnes is focused on various animated and live-action productions at a producer level. He will also develop new projects and pitches, as well as identify, and build relationships with industry talent. !"###!"#$!!$%&'()*&#+"+"!!!!!!
RedwoodVentures, maker of brands including Smooshy Mushy, Lil’ Fishy’s, and GoGoGochas. Greenberg previously served as President of Carrera of America, Inc., and before that rose from sales positions to the role of President and CEO of Shelcore Toys. Additionally, he was a founder of Wompy’s World of Musical Play and serves on the Board of Directors of portable car seat manufacturer mifold, as dedicated to preventing injuries in unsafe sleep environments. He replaces previous CEO Gary King.
Sesame Workshop: Stefan Kast-
enmüller, General Manager for Europe
Sesame Workshop named Stefan Kastenmüller to the newly created position of General Manager for Europe. Kastenmüller is responsible for developing and implementing a long-term strategic vision for the Workshop in the region, leveraging the global brand to maximize audience engage-
Sesame Workshop has invested resources on the ground in Europe, and is a part of an ongoing commitment to grow the brand and business throughout the region.
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BEYBLADE BURST Season 5 Coming Soon in 2021
Experience the frenzy on the Official BEYBLADE BURST App
Seasons 1-3 on Netflix and Season 4 coming soon!
Over 33M+ users Worldwide and nearly 1B in-app battles!
Customizable BEYBLADE tops with the latest components! New and Advanced Hypersphere Tops, Stadiums, & Battle Sets allow for high-octane gameplay. Â©Hiro Morita, BBBProject
FOLLOW US AT:
Beyblade Burst Official
Natasha Khavin Gross TV Sales and Licensing Director firstname.lastname@example.org
As if this year isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t enough? Introducing Introducing
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