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TOY NEWS JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2019
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No. 202 | January/February 2019 Editor Robert Hutchins email@example.com
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Media Director Colin Wilkinson firstname.lastname@example.org
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Happy New Year! And now, to business...
ell coming back into the office was a struggle, I won't mind admitting that because I for one had a tremendous Christmas. I hope you all did. I dare say the break was a welcome respite from the past year for many of us. In fact, I know just how good a Christmas it was for a good number of you, because having been on the phones the past week already, I have heard so many of your accounts of it. It was good to hear that given the tumultous journey it was getting there, those metaphorical geese did indeed end up nice and plump, no matter how late in the day Christmas finally landed for many of you. It's been an intersting start of the year for ToyNews already, having found a home with new owners in Datateam. I am lookng forward to seeing where this leg of the journey takes this publication. It will be nice to be rid of the corporate nonsense that so many big firms press upon you these days and back where a magazine like ToyNews always thrives best, with a team that displays the right amount of passion for an industry as exciting as this one. Happy New Year! Robert Hutchins, Editor Robert.Hutchins@futurenet.com
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COVER STORY COMEBACK KINGS! P12
Contents January/February 2019 Features
MOSH ADO ABOUT SOMETHING Moshi Monsters is ready to retake the centre stage with two brand new IPs to explore
SLIME OF THEIR LIVES We ask Zimpli Kids about hitting six billion views on YouTube and the answer is slime
Regulars News analysis 06 The year of the indie 16 Counterfeit clampdown 34 Milennial shopping
Market Data 46 Generation Media 48 Giraffe Insights
Show Guides 75 Spring Fair 91 Nuremberg 107 London Toy Fair
Back pages 144 Industry Moves 146 W ild Card Games
IN FOR A CENTURY Gibsons turns 100 years old this year, that's some excuse for a celebration.
30 UNDER 30 The chance to grow envious of this industry's glistening youth returns for another year.
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'2019 will be the year of the independent retailers' Following reports of a ‘phenomenal Christmas’ across the nation among many of the UK’s independent toy retailers, confidence is high that more power will now pass on to these pillars of community for the year ahead
his will be the year in which independent toy retailers wrestle power back from the clutches of the major players and the industry’s big boys, is the message to emerge from the independent retail scene as we kickstart 2019. While the likes of Mothercare, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons paint a somewhat bleak picture of 2018’s year end with trading results released at the start of the year, the sentiment couldn’t be more to the contrary when it comes to the UK’s independent toy shops. From Scotland to the South coast of England, ToyNews has been gathering reports that Christmas really has performed a trick for independent and specialist retailers, some of whom are reporting profits of 15 per cent on the same period one year ago. And a successful Christmas period for many of these outlets has boosted confidence that despite the many hurdles that the UK faces as we now march into 2019 and the eventual delivery of Brexit- whatever shape that will take - has set in motion the belief that 2019 truly will belong to the smaller players on the world’s toy stage. Gerard Gourley, director and senior technician of the Dunblane toy shop, ToyHub told ToyNews that they certainly do think this “is going to be a successful year for the independent toy retailer, all across the country. “With the loss of the big boys, suppliers themselves are starting to come to us first and do us the product first, and it is fantastic.” ToyHub was one of the first retailers in the UK to get its hands on Ty Flippables in the run up to Christmas.
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The store was handpicked for an exclusive soft launch of the product, which according to Gourley, “absolutely flew out of the store as soon as it came in.” He said: “We stocked 70 of them and within a matter of days, they were all gone. They were absolutely flying, and it was fantastic that we, as an independent toy shop, helped Ty launch that product - they are now doing a full launch. “So it’s true that suppliers are now seeing a strength in the independent toy retailer again. The loss of the big boys has been very good for the independents.” Gourley’s story contains echoes of that of Somerset’s own Kids Stuff, part of the Toymaster buying group who this Christmas has seen sales come in at £3,000 up on December 2017. The holiday period was in fact labeled as “superb” by Lee Borastero, Kids Stuff’s owner. “Christmas was superb for us. We had a very good year last year and we are very excited about moving into 2019,” he said. “We have money in the bank and shelves that need restocking. Toymaster asks, ‘what are you doing to be successful?’ and the answer, nothing. “We don’t do slime, we don’t do LOL Surprise… the only collectables we do are LEGO Minifigures and Hot Wheels. We are just doing something right with the lines we have as what you would call a traditional toy shop.” Borastero admits that over the Christmas period, his online operation did busness to the tune of exactly one item. The rest was through in-store custom with shoppers travelling in some cases 20 miles into visit the store. “You see in the news that the big players are moaning
Photo by Nong Vang on Unsplash
- Mothercare, Sainsburys, Morrisons, but we are flying. I think this will be the year for the independents. Customers are backing us and wanting to back us.” It’s a community mindset that the consumer has found themselves in, suggested Amanda Alexander, owner of the Didsbury toy shop, Giddy Goat Toys. “Consumers are finding themselves in this conscientious mindset. They are wanting quality toys, they are wanting value for money. I hear customers moaning about ‘plastic tat’ and avoiding it, before buying something traditional from me, and I think they are understanding of the importance of an independent toy retailer to the community and they are showing willing to support that.” The caveat to that is “as long as the prices aren’t too high.” Price is a major factor being weighed up by consumers today and ‘value for money’ has never been as precious as it is now.. “Whether it’s Brexit or just consumer expectations, value for money is paramount,” says ToyHub’s Gourley. “If I see a product that is £10 and I think I won’t pay £10 for that, I know my customers won’t.” “Customers are looking for quality when they part with their money,” agrees Giddy Goat’s Alexander. “We are lucky because we are in an affluent area and have customers who like and support us. And we appreciate them, and for that we return to them quality and appreciation.”
Yet despite the chirpy disposition of many of the UK’s retailers, the topic of Brexit still looms overhead, casting an ominous shadow over what the UK’s economy, and retail scene, will look like come March. While in Scotland, Gourley can report no real rumbles of Brexit trepidation, around Leeds and Manchester - where we find Giddy Goat Toys and Armadillo Toys, the topic weighs somewhat heavier. “Brexit has got me worried,” said Alexander. “I want to keep my head under the covers and just hope that it all gets reversed because no one will be immune from it. Even some of our suppliers are worrying about whats coming in from Europe." Armadillo Toys seconds the sentiment, stating that more than confidence, 2019 brings uncertainty for all retailers, not just the independent. “We are heading into a year of uncertainty and we are going to have to depend on our suppliers to give us the best deals that they can,” said the shop’s spokesperson. “I think once we know what we are doing, we can all get on and do it and from 2020 onwards, we will be rubbing our hands together.” But already, some are. Back in Scotland Gourley is primed for a year of solid licenses in the shape of The LEGO Movie 2, Playmobil Movie and How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World and while the jury is out on the innovation in the toy space currently, there is a definite buzz to get to London’s Toy Fair.
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BTHA Briefing: The London Fairy Tale By Rebecca Deeming
With Toy Fair now right around the corner, the Christmas holidays are now well and truly behind us, I certainly hope everyone had a nice break from the ever-busy toy industry, before many of you no doubt left for your trip to Hong Kong. If you’re looking to visit London Toy Fair and haven’t registered yet, then you can do so and register for your free visitor badge in advance on the Toy Fair website, www.toyfair.co.uk. Tickets are still available for the Toy Industry Awards which will take place straight after the closure of Day One of the show on Tuesday, January 22nd this year. With the event enjoying its continuing success on site at Olympia, the awards will take place once again in Olympia’s Apex Room and Pizza Express. The Toy Industry Awards evening provides the perfect opportunity to mix with industry colleagues, part-
ners and employees at a key industry gathering during Toy Fair, while celebrating the achievements from both retailers and manufacturers over the past 12 months. For enquiries about tickets please contact Matt Jones at the BTHA by email - Matt@btha.co.uk On other events, we had a successful first year of our BTHA Training Hub - all free training for members. We hosted four seminars (three of which were sold out) and three webinars, covering topics from GDPR, responsible marketing, toy safety and counterfeit toys. Overall, 180 BTHA members attended from 60-member companies. We hope to produce another successful seminar schedule this year, to help members where we can. Feel free to get in touch with me to find out more and register your interest in attending. From everyone here at the BTHA, we wish you all a Happy and prosperous New Year, and we hope to see you all at Toy Fair. If you’re thinking about becoming a member of the BTHA, please contact Tracey@btha.co.uk who can provide you with more information.
"The Toy Industry Awards is the perfect chance to celebrate your hard
Rebecca Deeming is the head of communications at the British Toy and Hobby Association and a vital piece in the grand London Toy Fair game play.
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Mind Candy is stomping back into the toy business this year with the return of its fan-favourite Moshi Monsters, but while the firm is proud of its heritage, 2019 will be all about leading the future generation of play with its new IP Moshi Monster Egg Hunt and Moshi Twilight. Robert Hutchins talks to Mind Candy CEO Ian Chambers about the brand's big comeback
ust over a year ago, ToyNews revealed that Moshi Monsters was primed to make its comeback both in the childrenâ€™s entertainment sphere and in the toy space. 2019 is the year that all of those plans now come into fruition for the brainiacs at Mind Candy. For many, it has been quite the hiatus - a spell away from the dizzying heights of fame that the franchise was hitting in the early 2010s. Now, with a master toy partner in the form of Flair, and a brand new IP on the scene, Moshi Monsters has finally resurfaced.
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That IP has taken the form of Moshi Monsters Egg Hunt, signalling a belated move to mobile devices via a new app game. When the franchise first shot to fame under the creative direction of Michael Acton Smith, it was in every definition, a phenomenon. However, like most in the toy space, it had a shelf life and eventually became hamstrung by its failure to move to mobile devices quickly enough and seamlessly enough. Now, under the watchful eye of Mind Candy CEO Ian Chambers, all of that is about to be reversed.
“With Moshi Monsters Egg Hunt, we have created a window into the world of Moshi on mobile,” he tells ToyNews. “We wanted to create a game that kids love and parents trust. As such, the game is free with no in-app purchases, has built-in ‘stealth education’ and there are no social features for parents to worry about.” In essence, it has been stripped back from what Moshi Monsters once was and repackaged for the youth audience of today. And what do kids today want more than anything else - well, recent history dictates that you can’t go much wrong with a line of
“Our existing relationship with Flair and the company’s recent success in the collectables space made them the perfect partner for us to launch the range“ Ian Chambers, CEO Mind Candy
collectables - and who would be more up to the job than Flair? “Our existing relationship with Flair and the company’s recent success in the collectables space made them the perfect partner for us to launch the range,” continues Chambers. Arguably, Mind Candy led the way in the now commonplace digital-physical crossover in the toy space. Afterall, it wasn’t that long ago that kids were clambouring to get January/February 2019 | toy news | 13
their hands on the physical characters that lived within the Moshi Monsters world on their screens. This is a heritage that Mind Candy is proud of, and one that it will endeavour to uphold as it continues to innovate in this very space. “Digital is at the heart of everything we do,” explains Chambers. ‘So it makes sense that the collectables we have developed with Flair link in with the game, enabling kids to collect physical Moshlings and then unlock goodies in the app through the use of digital codes in every pack. “We are very proud of the Moshi Monsters heritage, however, we don’t make comparatives to the past but focus on how we can lead into the future.” So this really is a carte blanche for Mind Candy and with Chambers at the helm, it is simply the mission for the firm to build on the success of its history without dwelling on the past. This is all about the next generation of children now, and to reach them, it is all about combining the best of physical play and digital play. 14 | toy news | January/February 2019
"Digital is at the heart of everything we do. So it makes sense that the collectables we have developed with Flair link in with the game, enabling kids to collect physical Moshlings and then unlock goodies in the app through the use of digital codes in every pack." Ian Chambers, CEO Mind Candy
“That’s how we are bringing the magical world of Moshi to life,” he smiles. Mind Candy likes to put itself at the forefront of the latest in cutting edge technology. It’s a simple rule that has even while Moshi Monsters may have been rested, awaiting their triumphant return kept the company innovating in the mobile gaming sphere for the best part of a decade. So how does it all culminate with an app game for mobiles? Well, it doesn’t. Not quite. There’s a two-pronged attack on the children’s space emerging from the Mind Candy camp, you see. Egg Hunt is but only one asset the company is utilising to bring the IP back into the fore. The second is yet another push forward in digital innovation and it goes by the name of Moshi Twilight. And this one sees Mind Candy enter the wellbeing space. “With Moshi Twilight we have entered the wellbeing category, which is opening up all kinds of new and interesting licensing discussions for products that can help kids relax and sleep at bedtime,” says Chambers. “Ultimately, the goal of Moshi Twilight is to improve the health and happiness of kids which in turn will make life better for the family as a whole.” So what is it, this result of new age thinking for the brand? Chambers explains that through a series of partnerships for Moshi Twilight, the company is aiming to bring its series of audio stories to life outside of the app itself. “For example, we have been working with the manufacturers of smart speakers to give parents a choice of ways to listen to Moshi Twilight. For instance, users of Amazon Echo simply have to ask to ‘Open Moshi Twilight’ to listen to a range of free stories.” It’s storytelling for the 21st century, wrapped up in the popular-
"Our ultimate goal is to create worlds that fire the imagination and to inspire kids, and this is what we look for in our partners.”
ity of this fan favourite IP, certainly. And the potential for the brand - according to Chambers and the Mind Candy outfit, is limitless. “With Moshi Twilight, we are opening up new opportunities for licensees in an emerging category,” he continues. ‘Sleep deprivation among kids and adults is becoming a global epidemic and it can affect general health, development and learning. “We are already making a positive difference to the lives of families, and, working with partners, believe we can offer a range of products under the Moshi Twilight umbrella to go even further.” Of this, plans are already well underway - as are discussions with numerous partners. All in a very selective approach, of course. What Chambers is certainly not looking to do, is put Moshi Twilight onto every product in the bedroom. “Instead, we want to work with key partners that want to innovate with new products that help kids relax and sleep at bedtime,” he explains. ‘We do not expect
Moshi Twilight to be affected by seasonality as sleep is something we all do every day.” In that regard, Mind Candy is facing a 100 per cent penetration market. “It’s very attractive as we haven’t yet cracked how not to sleep,” he laughs. The first partnership announced for this initiative has been Posh Paws, and Chambers teases that plenty more will be unveiled throughout the Toy Fair season this month. Moshi Twilight is already doing well in terms of numbers, too. In app, the company already has millions of kids that have listened to the stories, and it holds a firm belief that this will ultimately translate into a demand for physical products to bring the stories to life in the bedroom. “Our focus on quality in terms of both the experiences we create and the products our partners produce is what drives our decision making,” continues Chambers. ‘We want to ensure that all products, digital and physical, complement each other to achieve the overall goal of helping kids relax.
“Equally, we expect our partners to create products that will stand alone in their category and introduce kids to the stories that are available via the app. Our ultimate goal is to create worlds that fire the imagination and to inspire kids, and this is what we look for in our partners.” Early readings, by the way, for both Moshi Monsters Egg Hunt and Moshi Twilight, has been nothing short of ‘exceptional.’ Moshi Monsters Egg Hunt is actually a top five mobile game of the moment. Moshi Twilight, meanwhile, has repeatedly been at number one in its category and to date over three million kids have fallen asleep to Moshi Twilight. “Our audience is saying what we want to hear,” says Chambers. “And that’s that Moshi is inspiring a new generation of kids to play, relax and sleep.” One thing is for certain however, and that’s that in his role at Mind Candy, Chambers certainly won’t be caught sleeping at the wheel, not with the kind of year ahead he has planned for the outfit. January/February 2019 | toy news | 15
Industry calls for closure on the online copycat scandal Following reports of a child harmed by copycat products over the Christmas period, suppliers have urged retailers and consumers to take a stand again the industryâ€™s counterfeit problem
he new year has brought new calls from industry players for the sector to taker a much harder stand against the growing problem around cheap or knockoff products being sold via online platforms. The popular construction brand, Magformers is the latest to urge retailers to take a stand against copycat products in a call to boycott knock off brands that donâ€™t uphold the quality regulations of the original products. The company issued the firm initiative following news over the holiday period that a child in the US was hospitalised after swallowing magnets contained in a toy developed by IMDEN and bought online at Amazon. 16 | toy news | January/February 2019
The coverage not only sent shockwaves across the national media during the Christmas period, but it also incorrectly identified the product in question as belonging to Magformers. It was later discovered to be a copycat product that failed to meet the stringent quality regulations of the big brand name. In a similar vein, half-way through last year, slime became the focus of a nation-wide telling off when a consumer report from Which? discovered certain products in the slime sector to contain up to five times the legal safe limit of the compound boron, citing the potential harm to children when exposed to large quantities of the chemical.
News analysis The unsafe products were found to be the lesser-quality, knock-off or copycat items that ‘had been produced overseas and sold via the online platform Amazon.’ In both the slime case and the most recent magnetic toy case, the offending items were eventually withdrawn from Amazon, with the latest prompting fresh urges for a national reform or call for online legislation. Since the incident, Magformers has itself been active in ensuring the mistake of mis-identification is corrected and has called upon retailers to boycott copycat products and protect the safety of children around the globe. David Kelly, managing director at Magformers UK Ltd, said: “While our thoughts are very much with the White family, it is important to state that the product in question is not a Magformers products, but a cheap copycat product that was bought online. “Authentic Magformers products have all been safety tested to all relevant international Toy Safety Standards so when retailers and consumers buy genuine Magformers products, they get the benefit of years of research and development, including specially designed plastics made exclusively for Magformers toys.” Last year, the board game giant Asmodee UK revealed to ToyNews its own struggles with fighting copycat products online, highlighting that consumers will often mistake them for originals when shopping online, particularly when some online platforms allow them to be listed alongside the genuine article. ‘The result can be damaging for the brand,” said the firm’s spokesperson at the time. “People think they are buying one thing, and receive a shoddy, knock-off of lesser quality. It damages the reputable name of the company.” There has, historically, been a ‘tread lightly’ approach in calling out the retail platforms that tend to allow the copycat products to slip through the net and make their way into the homes of the consumer. Amazon and eBay among them. The online retail giant, by large, avoids the responsibility of monitoring product quality or filtering out knock-offs. While it is quick to react when knock-offs are discovered, it is a source of frustration for many of the thousands of brands that do legitimate business on the site. Magformers’ Kelly, added: “While Magformers takes an active role in stopping as many instances of fakes and copies as we can, retailers also have a responsibility to source their stock through approved suppliers and channels. “Unfortunately, despite our attempts to protect our brand, fake and copy products do make their way online. Some of them are passed off under the Magformers name. Others claim that they ‘work with’ or are compatible with Magformers.” The truth is, they don’t. They are not genuine Magformers and have not been tested by Magformers. Neither are they affiliated with Magformers in any way - nor do they adhere to Magformers’ quality standards. But how is a consumer to know that? Amid the call out, Magformers has urged parents to be
aware of these copycat products and counterfeiters when making their purchasing decision. “We urge consumers to only buy from authorised Magformers retailers and to look for the Magformers brand logo and Original Magformers round logo on packaging.” In the last few months, platforms like Amazon and Alibaba have stepped up a gear in the work they do with brands to fight online counterfeiting with the implementation of test buy programmes. Just before Christmas, the retailer was celebrated for a sting operation that lead to the suspension of at least 20 Us booksellers alleged to be shipping counterfeit textbooks. An Amazon spokesperson, said: “These counterfeit books were caught in a test buy programme we operate, which is just one component of our aggressive anti-counterfeiting efforts. The publishers for these books confirmed that these particular books were counterfeit so we took swift action to protect our customers.” This appears to be a positive step forward for the platform in its own efforts to crack down on counterfeits. Many believe that an open communication like is a vital part of bringing the issue of online copycats and the harm caused by their operations to an eventual close.
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SLIME OF THE CENTURY Zimpli Kids has hit more than six billion views on YouTube for its latest marketing campaign. That is whopping. Welcome to the new era of slime. ToyNews catches up with the Zimpli Kids team in its new home in Blackburn to talk success in slime 18 | toy news | January/February 2019
impli Kids is currently working with over one thousand YouTubers - sending out packaged powdered slime for online celebrities to mix and form in video content that is played out to millions of children across the globe. This is the new arena in which slime operates today. It’s a far cry from the day in 1976 when Mattel first began shipping the substance out in ‘trash cans’, or back further still to the 1920s when historians agree slime first emerged from the labs of those crazy polymer scientists. Across the face of Zimpli Kids' consumer friendly website is the number 6,250,921,197. At least it was last we checked, This number is counting upwards continually and so quickly it’s difficult to be accurate in print. This number is currently
tracking the hits received by Zimpli Kids’ latest YouTube campaign. When it comes to marketing, it’s clear that this is a company that certainly knows where its audiences are heading and as a result, slime is currently spelling serious business for Zimpli Kids. And it should do, the company has been riding this wave for the past three years. “Slime has been trending now for over three years and the success we have had off the back of this viral craze is amazing,” says Jessica Coy, head of marketing at Zimpli Kids. “We have had over six billion views on YouTube from independent reviewers worldwide, over three billion of these from our slime.” The global success of this viral marketing has helped Zimpli Kids secure distribution in over 50 countries, making it quite
the global corporation. The irony is of course that all of Zimpli Kids’ operations are conducted from its offices in Blackburn, Lancashire. And when we say all, we mean all; Zimpli Kids decided to manufacture 100 per cent of its products here in the UK late last year. So it turns out that slime has not only become big business for team, but for the UK in general. “We didn’t need to create a slime product to keep up with the trend, we were lucky enough to have an already successful product on the market with Slime Baff,” continues Coy. “In 2016 we grew over 300 per cent, in 2017 we grew 60 per cent and in 2018 we grew over 35 per cent.” In 2018, Zimpli Kids also put substantial investment into new infrastructure and machinery, which has enabled it to manufacture 100 per cent of product in its UK based January/February 2019 | toy news | 19
ISO 9001 accredited manufacturing plant. “Due to this UK manufacturing structure, we can now manufacture and deliver bespoke orders in as little as a week,” added Natalie Adamonis-Simpson, production planner and safety supervisor. Others in similar roles as Coy and Adamonis-Simpson would have had quite the rough end to the year last year when headlines emerged regarding
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the safety of certain types of slime on the market. The chemical Borax was once again at the centre of the controversy when it was discovered that certain slime products contained levels that exceeded the strict safety limits. Even for those that operate well within the safety parameters - or, like Zimpli Kids, simply do not use the chemical compound
at all - it was a volatile time for the sector and the question of whether it will survive the fallout still hangs in the air. Paul Jackson, managing director at Zimpli Kids, tells ToyNews: “Although the safety concerns didn’t apply to our products, our worry was that it would change parents’ perceptions of slime in general. ‘The investigations found that many slime products failed to meet safety standards and were found to contain five times the permitted level of boron. Our slime products do not contain Borax, boric acid or any other boric acid derivatives. There are no harmful chemicals or anything that could cause harm to children. “But despite the safety concerns over some unsafe products on the market, of course the slime product category can continue to survive and we will continue to reassure our customers that our slime is 100 per cent safe. "In the ten plus years that our products have been around, our worldwide sales are over 30 million units of Gelli Baff and 20 million units of Slime Baff, all using the exact same trusted patent protected formulation.” To this, Adamonis-Simposon adds: “We take the safety of all of our products exceptionally seriously and this is evident
in not only how thoroughly our products are tested, but also in our choice to manufacture 100 per cent of our products here in the UK. “In late 2018, Zimpli Kids moved to a considerably larger premises which allowed us to massively increase our own manufacturing capability.” But this isn’t an exclusive club and there is certainly no sense of nationalistic tribalism going on here. Zimpli Kids is proud of the diversification it boasts and believes this is the key to its success and innovation of product. "At Zimpli Kids we have a diverse range of nationalities that comes with a diverse range of skills and experiences,” says Jackson. “Diversity is something that we believe creates innovation by working alongside people with different ideas, backgrounds and working styles. “Our worldwide success has enabled us to secure distribution in over 50 countries across the globe. The diverse number of nationalities within Zimpli Kids has helped in the past helped when interacting with international customers or building potential new business relationships.” Now, Jackson, Coy, Adamonis and the team found themselves front and centre of
the operation. It’s certainly no small undertaking, but an exciting one all the same, particularly as the team heads full steam into 2019. Says Coy: “2019 looks exciting to say the least. It’s always great to kick the year off with Toy Fair season, it gives us the chance to showcase our brand new products to existing customers and potential new business relationships.” New lines for the year ahead include the introduction of a £1 foil bag range that aims to “attract a brand new type of retailer,” for the firm. This will encompass Gelli Play,
Slime play, Crackle Baff Colours and SnoBall Play foil bags. “These ‘just add water’ foil bags are the perfect impulse buy products - ideal for clip-strips, counter till points, promotions and discount stores. We will also be extending our Bath time range with new Baff Bombz for 2019. The Baff Bombz will come in a range of colours, shapes and scents including Unicorns, Hearts and even our very own Slime monster, Slimon,” she adds. So it’s another triumphant year for slime that the company is forecasting. But for how long will the bubble last? Like all trends in the toy industry - it eventually bursts. And what will Zimpli Kids do when it does? Is there a back up plan for when audiences tastes change? “Of course nothing trends forever, and I am sure slime will stop being so popular eventually,” admits Coy. “But we will just have to capitalise on the huge growth and be realistic. “Slime is not our only hero product, we have an array of just add water powder products that are popular worldwide, plus some brand new lines for 2019. We will continue to be on the look out for proactive and enthusiastic distributors to work with us across the globe. ‘Thanks to our innovative team here at Zimpli Kids, we have a range of exciting products launching this year and hitting the toy trends and widening our target market.” January/February 2019 | toy news | 21
Knitwear, meade and Moomins, thereâ€™s plenty that the Nordics is famed for across Europe. But how many of us knew that for the past few years, one country in particular had been working on a plan to save the planet? And it all begins with its Nordic pine forests. Robert Hutchins finds out more
Photo by Sebastian Unrau on Unsplash
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ast year, Hasbro initiated a campaign in which old, discarded toys were collected, recycled and used to create play centres across the US. The move was heralded as a major win for the woke generation. To have a global leader in toy manufacturing joining the fight for the environment - and in no small way - was a tremendous backing for the message of sustainability. Rightly so, it was celebrated. But what if it was suggested that Hasbro
stopped short of what could one day be a major revelation for the toy industry? Imagine a scenario in which Hasbro collected those old, discarded toys and turned them back into their raw materials to be used for the production of its next big launch. History dictates that such a thing couldnâ€™t be done without the expenditure of vast sums of money and the use of yet more plastics in order to bring the materials up to requirement. But imagine a scenario where the reverse was true... January/February 2019 | toy news | 23
Sustainability Elisabeth Bergvall, business development manager at Stora Enso can, because it’s her dream that the toy industry can be a leader in the movement for a sustainable future. Stora Enso was once in the business of newspapers. Not selling them, but pulping them. The very idea sends a shudder down the spine of any editor; but we’re resigned to accept it as an important part of the industry all the same. The issue was, that particularly in its Finnish homeland in Helsinki, the newspaper business was on the wane, and in a reflection of today’s inclination towards the digital medium it was only a matter of time until Stora Enso changed lanes. With surplus materials - these being Swedish and Nordic pine fibres - the team set about to discover a new use of its time, efforts and resources. With one hand already in the recycling game, that interest was soon discovered to be in the realm of biocomposites; compositions of fibres and biopolymers that could be used in mass production. More specifically, for use in the mass production of toys. But these weren’t just any biocomposites - no, far from it. Armed with the fibres of the company’s local Nordic pine trees, Stora Enso was able to produce a specific type of biocomposite; the type that may just have the potential to save the planet.
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Biocomposites are no new endeavour. The market has had access to and been utilising them for the past 15 to 20 years all with varying degrees of success. However, the mass implementation of their use in our everyday products has, according to Bergvall, been stunted over the years by a number of factors. The first, she tells ToyNews, is that the topic of sustainability has never been so prevalent as it is today. We’ve the likes of Sir David Attenborough, the National Geographic, LEGO and Hasbro to thank for that. The second is just as pressing. Before now, we simply hadn’t found a biocomposite suitable for the kind of products that needed them the most. Today, just as the message begins to find the platform it has required for the last number of decades, Bergvall believes the time is right for companies to start their relationship with the world of biocomposites afresh. And on top of that, she states, Stora Enso has just what is needed. “The biocomposites that have been on the market for the past 10 to 15 years typically offer a make-up of around 10 per cent fibre to 90 per cent polymer,” she explains to us. “We are presenting a material that can be pushed to around 50 to 60 per cent fibre, and the rest is made up of either recycled or bio-based polymer - all depending on the customer’s request.” It’s tapping into a demand that has been growing steadily across the EU over the past year, while simultaneously eliminating the concerns that many have had over the use of biocomposites in their products. Where previous biocomposites have been expensive, these are not, she tells us, and where others have been all too brittle for use in toys, Stora Enso’s are ‘malleable yet resilient.’ “We can offer a sustainability to man-
ufacturers that is affordable. We can now reach a much bigger market and implement the widespread use of a material,” continues Bergvall. “Stora Enso has found that you can actually get a sustainable material into mass production for use in a large number of toy applications.” For Bergvall, this is all part of looking at the bigger picture, that hitting a sustainable future is about “taking little steps and moving forward constantly.” Any realist knows that this is going to be a long journey, but all optimists will
add that even a shuffle forward is bringing that end goal into sight. The first shuffle forward was in making consumers aware of the issue. “And consumers are definitely becoming more aware of the products they buy, where they come from and how they are made,” says Ben Callicot, former head of product at Primo Toys, toy designer and founder of The Pioneer Club. “Once you see that in the minds of the mainstream consumer then the industry stands up to take notice. “We are now seeing many of the smaller start-ups starting to implement these values.” It is worth defining what is meant when we talk about sustainability and eco-friendly products in the toy space. Is it down to the materials used? Or is it the quality of the build so that toys become heirlooms to be passed down through families? Either
Sustainability would result in helping a product avoid those overspilling landfill sites. But the toy industry must thrive off newness, innovation and new product launches to maintain its status as a global super-industry. So perhaps the most important place to start, is with a toy’s design? “Sustainability has to become a major consideration and one of the first steps to address at the initial design level of a new product,” continues Callicot. “The toy industry is too often known for its disposability, so if there is any industry that needs to lead the way then it should be toys. “Many of the designers I talk to, they are aware and they themselves want to see a change.” Want to see change, but perhaps don’t know what the first step is in implementing it? It must a frustrating task for the designer whose key concern is development at as low a cost as possible. Perhaps this is where Stora Enso may be able to offer some help? “We can be hands-on in the whole process of toy development,” says Elisabeth Bergvall. “We can be on site, getting companies and manufacturers the right material for them and then we can walk through each step with them. “Many brand owners don’t know much about the process of developing products themselves, that’s why we are here. We can even look at the design of the product and the process of manufacture to help them
“If you have a plastic toy and you grind it down and put it into the injection molder again, you need to add in some virgin materials to make the properties high enough again. With biocomposites, you can reprocess without any new materials.” choose the right grade that suits the product or how to design with these materials in mind.” What Bergvall is suggesting is a collaborative approach to toy design that brings the minds of product designers together with the minds behind the materials that can set us on the road to a sustainable industry. And through this collaboration, she believes, may be the first steps in inciting the toy industry to take on the responsibility of educating their own customers. “This is something that we need to do together,” she affirms. “We need to start
somewhere with someone saying ‘this is enough, the environment can’t take it.” Doomsaying is not her intention and her impassioned sentiment only highlights the belief in what she and the company around her is presenting to the world. “I think we are on the right path,” she continues. “It is one step in the right direction. By putting better materials in our products, the next step is being better at recycling. And biocomposites are the perfect material to recycle. “If you have a plastic toy and you grind it down and put it into the injection molder again, you need to add in some virgin materials to make the properties high enough again. With biocomposites, you can reprocess without any new materials.” Perhaps here is where the ears of the business savvy may begin to really prick up, because this where the numbers begin to line up. “You can process it over and over again,” Bergvall tells me. “Imagine you are a company making toy cars and you have a recycling system where you collect your olds products - it can be a responsibility of the company to collect what they have sold. “If they have been made from biocomposites, they can be ground down and the materials used again. And again. And again. You don’t have to buy new materials all the time. “Imagine saving money and the environment while keeping production up. It’s a dream scenario,” she concludes. January/February 2019 | toy news | 25
THE SOCIAL NETWORK Halfway across the world, a different kind of fight is being fought in the name of sustainability, this time looking at the social responsibility of ethics in the world’s largest manufacturing countries. ToyNews talks to The Ethical Toy Programme’s Mark Robertson
et us for now leave Moominland and the forests of the Nordics and make the journey eastwards and to India and China, where battles for the sustainable future of the toy industry are being fought anew and on a major scale, on a daily basis. It’s easy to forget, when we get caught up in the topic of plastics pollution, that the term sustainability is far broader than the environmental impact that a figure like...say, the UK’s current use of 3.6 billion plastic bags a year, is having on the planet. Just as important is the topic of social sustainability; the conditions in which those responsible for manufacturing the toys that sit on store shelves across the UK and the US, spend their daily lives.. The fight for social sustainability has therefore taken us to China, a country
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responsible for the manufacture of around 80 per cent of US toys and a country where, according to Mark Robertson, senior vice president, communications and stakeholder engagement at The Ethical Toy Programe, millions of those factory workers spend years at a time separated from their families and children while they work. Three years ago, The Ethical Toy Programme, the non-profit organisation for safeguarding and improving ethical and sustainability standards in the global toy industry, decided that this statistic was
simply not good enough. It has since made headway in turning things around through a number of initiatives, starting with reuniting families. It’s been a labour of passion and compassion for Robertson and the team who notes that while programmes are being put in place to make good the conditions of factory workers in both China and India, one of the biggest steps forward has been the rise of the conscientious consumer. “Historically, responses to supply chain issues have been quite reactive,” states
Robertson. “So it’s good to see that what consumers are demanding today - and what brands and retailers are increasingly looking at - are products that not only respect the environment but also the people that make them. “People are beginning to look beyond the simple ‘do no harm approach’ and are actually asking ‘how can you drive wellbeing in supply chains?’” Robertson and the Ethical Toy Programme team currently work “at the top of the supply chain,” working with over 1,000
“Historically, responses to supply chain issues have been quite reactive, so it’s good to see that what consumers are demanding today - and what brands and retailers are increasingly looking at - are products that not only respect the environment but also the people that make them."
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The benefits of ethical toy program certificate
brands, retailers and licensors as well as with over 1,000 factories and manufacturers, making them well-placed to observe the issues from both ends. More so than that, it believes it knows how to start fixing the issue from both sides of the fence, too. Working from the ground upwards, The Ethical Toy Programme has spent the last few years developing and implementing a number of worker wellbeing initiatives in
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factories across China and India. The first of which addresses the issue of domestic migrant workers living apart from their children. The organisation is currently piloting a number of Family-Friendly Spaces and Migrant Parents Training Workshops to support these workers. Meanwhile, in India - a growing centre for toy manufacture, The Ethical Toy Programme is partnering with BSR to advance
women’s empowerment at toy factories across the country. It’s a huge step forward for a region in which 60 per cent of the workforce in toy factories are women. On top of this, the organisation has just set up a Progress Visits at now fewer than 1,300 factories in China and India, whereby it will drop in and allow the factories and workers to share any challenges they are facing. “We are setting on getting the basics right in these factories,” explains Robertson, “through audits and assessments and leveraging global initiatives while reminding the industry of their responsibilities and highlighting why this isn’t just the right thing for their workers or the environment, but in terms of their business benefits as well.” Of these, there are many, he continues to explain. Think productivity, worker happiness and desire to work. And here is where The Ethical Toy Programme is
“Increasingly, we are doing more work to engage toy inventors and designers at a younger age so that they understand that the way they design and manufacture can impact social sustainability as well as environmental.”
tackling issues from the Western world’s approach, and that starts with a product's initial concept. “Increasingly, we are doing more work to engage toy inventors and designers at a younger age so that they understand that the way they design and manufacture can impact social sustainability as well as environmental,” says Robertson. “Think lead time, purchasing practice and the decisions that you make that can have a real impact on the supply chain. "What we are trying to do is get manufacturers and designers to understand how their products are made, by whom and when they will be made. “I think the whole notion of sustainability and the toy industry is about children and families. That in itself fits in perfectly with the vibe of the toy industry, so it's no surprise that people, manufacturers, even consumers are starting to pick up on it as a topic of importance. "So, what we are looking at is how the values brands have resonate with the way their products are designed.” And that’s a good fit for the toy industry, isn’t it? And compounded with the business benefits that Robertson lists as greater
“I think the whole notion of sustainability and the toy industry is about children and families. So, what we are looking at is how the values brands have resonate with the way their products are designed.”
efficiency, cost savings, lower recruitment costs and higher levels of production, it all starts to make perfect sense. On paper. The stark reality of it all is that there is still plenty of work to be done. Robertson would be the first to admit that there are in fact “huge challenges ahead,” but he will do so with a smile because “contextually, the toy industry is leading in this area of worker wellbeing.” “When I spend time in factories in China, you can see the importance of these programmes, not just for the workers, but also the way in which we are engaging business in China. Having a conversation with them really drives difference and that is encouraging,” he concludes. January/February 2019 | 29
MY FAMILY AND OTHER
MILLENNIALS Gibsons is going for a century; it’s hit a milestone and can be expecting a letter from the Queen any day now as it celebrates its 100th year this year. Robert Hutchins talks to managing director, Kate Gibson about family ties, the evolution of the firm and why it is lucky to have made it this far
f Harry Percy Gibson was with us today,” muses Kate Gibson, the fourth generation managing director of the successful puzzle company, "the first thing he would note is that the company he founded a century ago to the year, was now in the hands of a female leader.” Documenting Gibsons’ history offers us a fantastic opportunity. 100 years on to the year this very year since HP Gibson secured a £500 loan to establish a games and pas-
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times business, and one can really appreciate just how far culture, the industry, and indeed this company has come. The history books - at least the one being launched by Gibsons in celebration of its 100 year milestone this month - will tell you that this is the company that nearly never was. The premises on which it operated was bombed to bricks and rubble twice during WWII, making it somewhat even more of an occasion that the firm has gone
on to succeed. And for such a lengthy stint. “I think overall, H P Gibson would be delighted with where the company has gone,” continues the company’s current day MD. “Obviously, there has been tremendous challenges, so from their point of view, if they could have seen us reach 100 years, it really is quite something.” Despite the company’s wartime efforts, the biggest changes were actually felt during the 1980s when, feeling pressure from increased competition in the games market, Gibsons made the move into puzzles. Some 40 years on from this point and Gibsons has become as synonymous with the sector as bread is with butter. “That was a critical turning point for us,” says Gibson. “And from that point, in terms of the company itself, we have continued to evolve. Of course, we have retained our roots as a family business with traditional values, but in the last three to four years since I have taken over, I have dragged us into the modern era…” In what form does that take shape? Well, culture for one. When Gibson took on the role from her father Michael, she decided to implement a new means of getting the team working effectively together, she tells us. “We wanted people to feel empowered
to do their jobs and play to people’s strengths.” Gibsons has also started supporting local charities while with its CSR angle, it is currently trying to work with young people in the community to get them into work experience. “We have been working with a local charity and Sutton Youth Offending team, to give people the opportunities that they perhaps wouldn’t have otherwise,” says Gibson. “We pay great attention to topics such as wellbeing, mental health, worker flexibility. Social responsibility has always been high on our list, so we are bringing that to the fore.” You can add to that, by the way, a focus on environmental responsibility, too. Gibsons is now in the midst of a trial period of a roll out of enviro-conscious puzzle lines and production methods. The British family business wants to play its part and has been exploring what can be done with its packaging to reduce its carbon footprint. This includes smaller boxes, scrapping shrink wrap and a couple
HPG, Harry, Jack, Peter, Robert.
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Gibsons more initiatives currently applied to a range of six to eight puzzles making their way onto the market now. “It’s not a direct response to consumers,” says Gibson. “But I feel very much it is a country wide, worldwide priority at the moment. I think a lot of companies are looking at this at the moment and it is important that we do so and to lead on it in puzzles. “We carried out some research and tested the concept with our customers. It’s something they are keen to support, rather than think ‘Ooh no, don’t change the box size… don’t take away the shrink wrap…’” It’s this constant conversation with her customer base that Gibson suggests is core to the company’s success. It’s certainly served them well. There’s a shared history between Gibsons and many of its customers. Gibson tells us that one of which has been working with the team from as far back as the 1930s. “It’s fantastic to have that kind of heritage with customers,” says Gibson. “Something we try to do and always have done is really value the independents. We try as much as possible to uphold what works for us and them on the high street. We concentrate on that side of it and maintain that level of service and quality in what we do and our products, while trying to embrace the future.” While Gibsons is fond of its customers, there’s more than one reason as to why its customers are rather fond of them back. And it’s not just Gibson’s affable, friendly and approachable manner. There’s also the matter that, according to the latest NPD stats, Gibsons is the best performing manufacturer in adult puzzles, selling-out faster per store than any of its competitors. Now that is quite the position to be in. But the saying goes that you’re never more vulnerable than when you are at the top. Or something to that effect… we may have taken inspiration from Game of Thrones there somewhat… but Gibson and her team are well aware, all the same, that there simply isn’t space for complacency in the toy game. This is a team that has to be adapting and applying new innovations, constantly. “For the future, we are feeling really excited and positive,” explains Gibson. “Growing from this Centenary year, one of our focuses is developing internationally. We have an international sales manager out 32 | toy news | January/February 2019
Gibsons in Hong Kong who is already getting some traction, while another area that we are concentrating on is ensuring we cover all generations. “We have launched a new children’s range and we are making sure that we have puzzles for the other end of life, If you can imagine, you get to a certain stage, you have loved puzzling and suddenly 1,000 pieces is too much for you. “This sits with our ethos on mental health, dementia awareness and producing puzzles for people who can no longer handle too many pieces. Expanding the product range and continuing to innovate into new sectors in games and puzzles.” As we all know, we can’t discuss the future without looking at the current trends that will be shaping it. The question is, will Gibsons be succumbing to the demand for digital from the modern consumer? “Digital is not on our radar for the future, not in the near future anyway,” says Gibson, defiant. “If anything, we are keen on the digital detox and marrying what we do with the opportunity for people to switch off. This links into mindfulness, mental health, puzzling and playing games with friends and family. “No, the only digital we will be doing is in our adaptation to the way consumers are shopping, or the platforms upon which to reach them. We are online, we are on social media and we are reaching new audiences via these means.” And once they have been reached, what then? How do you get a millennial into puzzling? Is the cosy village scene beautifully painting across so many puzzles in the sector going to the cut the mustard with a new legion of puzzlers? Is the Gibsons best-selling Christmas puzzle going to bowl-over the bearded, folk-music generation of avocado lovers? Is this even an audience Gibsons want to be meeting? The answers are no, no and most certainly yes. In fact, the firm is expecting to see more and more growth in youth puzzling. “I think this links to the digital detox and the mindfulness aspect as well,” states Gibson. “We have just produced a range of designs exactly responding to the rise of millennial puzzlers, and they carry much more contemporary images, very much aimed at that market. “We are looking at different artists,
“We are looking at different artists, different designs and themes. Our product manager keeps an eye on Instagram and looking out for the current trends and themes. We have, in fact, just launched an avocado puzzle, as well as colour gradient puzzles and more.” Kate Gibson, MD, Gibsons
different designs and themes. Our product manager keeps an eye on Instagram and looking out for the current trends and themes. We have, in fact, just launched an avocado puzzle, as well as colour gradient puzzles and more.” Is that what the future of puzzling looks like, then? The shape that puzzling will take in 100 years’ time, perhaps? We will all be piecing together super-food puzzles? You, we and the Gibsons team would need a crystal ball to answer that question. So
perhaps for now, the firm can focus on this immediate centenary celebration… They have certainly got a lot planned. Alongside the hidden ticket campaign that launched into the market early January and offered lucky ticket finders free puzzles, the company has planned a series of puzza-thons, the publication of the centenary history book and a 100 for 100 initiative taking place across the year. What’s that? 100 for 100 has caught your interest? It did ours, too. And Gibson can reveal that the team will taking on challenges in which they complete 100 somethings to celebrate the big number. “Some of us will be running 100 miles, giving up something for 100 days… some sort of perilous activity at 100 feet… there’s going to be a year of celebrating and I will say no more for now.” On top of that, Gibson and her team will be hosting 100 years celebratory drinks at their stand at London’s Toy Fair. There will no doubt be a glass or two raised to H P Gibsons and where the company all began. If he could see it all now. January/February 2019 | toy news | 33
Retail re-told: The toy shop’s never ending story Whether you’re uploading live videos on Instagram, sharing a wealth of knowledge via podcasts, broadcasting your wares to billions of people on YouTube or keeping it traditional in-store, storytelling is at the heart of the modern retailer’s success. Robert Hutchins explores…
n the world of licensing, a term that is getting thrown around a heck of a lot at the moment is ‘experiential.’ It’s being billed as the new poster-child of the retail space, and one that will reinvigorate the lacklustre High Street into a the consumer’s destination of choice. The idea of ‘experiential licensing’ is exactly what it says on the tin. It’s the affirmation that consumers today are taking a lot more coercing to part with their money in exchange for the products that retailers like those in the toy industry provide them. Towards the end of the year, Penguin Ventures, the licensing arm of the global book publishing house Penguin Random House took experiential licensing to a new level when it completed work on the London Winter Wonderland The Snowman project; a cinematic adventure in which the
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iconic film was played to thousands of visitors through a walk-through experience that immersed fans in Raymond Briggs’ imagined world. It was story-telling in physical form and it was a treat to the senses. While the technology is advancing around it, however, ‘experiential’ really is no new concept. In fact, it’s something that toy shops have been delivering for years. “As soon as you step into a toy shop you are pretty much stepping into another world, of wonder and magic, and you don’t need bells and whistles - or things being thrown around the shop - in order to do that,” Simon Seddon, the customer relations guru at the Covent Garden visitor attraction and toy shop, Benjamin Pollock’s, tells ToyNews . “You don’t need to be Hamley’s to offer a customer experience, just an
ability to tell your own story.” Seddon enjoys telling stories. In fact, so does the entire Benjamin Pollock’s entourage; they have quite the story to tell. And this isn’t just delivered through the authenticity of the shop's more than 100 years history, it’s also told via Seddon’s regular podcasts and the shop's world-famous Instagram account - run by Seddon’s self appointed protege, Amy Kemp. “We have customers from all over the globe travel into see what we have, thanks in large to our Instagram account,” continues Seddon. “One American customer once heard Amy talking and approached her because she recognised her voice from the live stories she posts about the shop.” An audience’s love for a story is just as strong as it has been for centuries; since armchairs were first pulled to fireplaces, text first put to print or
early storytellers first given tools to entertain audiences. It’s simply the method of delivery that has changed. And today, we are a society that is very much about the digital delivery. But the concept of digital has moved a long way past that of all zeros and ones, or the cold faced robotics of the 70s. It can be a place of comfort, intrigue and yes, entertainment for millions around the world. Let’s take a number we have already explored to put it into a bit of context, we’re going to use the stat again to emphasis the scale of its importance. Zimpli Kids has achieved six billion views of its most recent YouTube campaign. Imagine if each of those views translated into a sale. Imagine if half of them did - or just a fraction, even. YouTube has become a very real shop window for the modern consumer. And all that consumer needs is the means of being able to purchase what they see playing out in the thousands, the millions of videos viewed by them every day. Well, a company called Teespring has put many of them on a journey to making that a reality. The virtues of virtuals Created by a couple of Brown University alumni, Teespring is in essence a print on demand service that started off life in the t-shirt game. In recent years, however, business has exploded for the outfit and, now working in partnership with YouTube, it has launched a concept called Merch Shelf and expanded its product offering across all the major consumer products sectors. It’s also paving the path for the way brands can engage with fans online
and deliver them a means of shopping while watching. A click through platform that features alongside YouTube video content of its partner brands. It’s the ultimate impulse buy facilitator, at a time when more and more, impulse buying is done at home. “For many, Teespring has led the way in creating the ‘print on demand’ industry,” Evan Stites-Clayton, co-founder of the Teespring initiative, tells ToyNews . “In 2017, we saw a great deal of growth in several areas. Teespring has 48 per cent growth in creator (Instagramers, YouTubers, Bloggers etc) sign-ups and 67 per cent growth in the number of successful sellers. “We are always looking for the most accessible ways for our customers to get their hands on the products they love. Shopping is becoming more and more convenient and instant. So we knew we wanted to jump on that and ensure we offered people the chance to have viable products from the creators they love. We ultimately also wanted to show our commitment
to empowering creators, supporting them in the diversification of their own revenue streams.” Let’s give you an example. In the UK, Teespring has just started working with the brands Simon’s Cat and Mr Bean. Fans watching Simon’s Cat or Mr Bean content on YouTube - of which there are fans in their hundreds of thousands - can use the Teespring Merch Shelf to be taken to an online destination filled with Mr Bean or Simon’s Cat merchandise. It’s the digitisation of experiential shopping and one that puts Teespring in the $263 billion licensed merchandise industry. “It is without doubt that this type of accessible shopping is going to continue to grow in popularity,” continues Stites-Clayton. “Consumers are actually already three times as likely to buy a product with an embedded shoppable integration, so from merchandise to shoppable video, VR experiences or swiping up on Instagram stories; brands can benefit hugely from reaching consumers in this way.
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And what about in toys? Already, the seeds are being sown. Teespring has been working with the Ryan’s Toy Review brand for “quite a while,” now. The seven year old YouTuber has 17 million subscribers and his videos have been watched 25 billion times. Ryan’s Toy Review is about to land in the UK thanks to Vivid. Keeping it traditional But, do you know what? We get it. This digital world may not be your cup of tea. And that’s the wonderful thing about storytelling today: it can take on many forms and experiences can be delivered through simplicity as much as through th latest in technology. In the run up to Christmas, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the independent toy shop Whirligig and its owner Peter Allinson had an insider at the BBC. The retailer certainly got a lot of airtime through December, and when he wasn’t busy judging a competition on Kirstie Allsopp’s Handmade Christmas , he was front and centre on the BBC’s news coverage of the shop’s own unique piece of storytelling. It was the discovery of a 100-year old letter to Father Christmas that was at the centre of the clamour. The shop came across it while leafing through an old book before placing at the centre of a vintage styled window display, evoking the nostalgic magic of Christmas. “The letter in our Canterbury shop drew many people to come and see it,” Allinson tells ToyNews . “The content of the letter harks back to a different era, but the sentiment really relates to what we are trying to do. “Marjorie, the little girl in the letter, wanted to receive ducks and chickens - traditional gifts maybe, but while some games are old fashioned, children are brand new. We stock many games and toys that are tried and tested and that Marjorie may have played with.” The letter was a centrepiece for the store’s Christmas window display which went on to win the judge’s and people’s choice awards in Canterbury. While the letter is now to be reunited with a member of Marjorie’s family, Allinson is keen to keep the shop’s portence for storytelling alive. “As independents, we are key to our own selling success, and having a hook or a story is so important,” he continues. “We like to link stories to many things we sell, whether it is a memory from our own childhoods, a successful toy that we have taken home to play with, or a small supplier that is making wonderful toys - the stories all help to bring the product to life and makes us different from shops with
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boxes on shelves that are waiting to be bought. “We have pictures of our shops through the ages in frames in the shop, photos of customers who have made their products and show them beaming with pride and competitions that get children and families involved in local events in the area. “Everything points to us as a company who cares about what they sell and who they sell to - we think this makes a difference.” Back on Instagram, meanwhile, and Benjamin Pollocks Toy Shop has just posted a throwback image of John Lennon sitting at home in front of a wall of framed Pollocks imagery. A conversation runs beneath the image between the shop and the hundreds of online followers it has engaged with the post. ‘I believe The Beatles used to visit Pollock’s Toy Museum’s original Covent Garden shop in Monmouth Street
in the 1960’s,’ reads a caption. It’s a clever post in more ways than one and simply highlights the greatest skill of
the independent toy retailer: to continue to tell stories and crate magic, whatever the medium.
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30 Under 30
It's that time of year when ToyNews and Gameplan Europe celebrate the brightest rising stars and young talent this industry has to offer with the annual 30 Under 30 listing. Congratulations to all those that made the list!
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30 Under 30
Marketing and events coordinator, Fundamentally Children
National Account Manager Zimpli Kids
Kicking off this year’s 30 under 30 listing is none other than Fundamentally Children’s marketing and events coordinator, Lauren Archer. In charge of events and experiential marketing, while running the expanding summer festival programme and overseeing the permanent Good Toy Zone in Woolwich, Archer has had a busy 2018 with the firm. In little under two years in the toy industry she has most certainly made her presence felt. Archer has been an integral part of an ever-expanding operation and something tells us, if the last 12 months are anything to go by, her 2019 could be just as successful.
In the past year, Grace Astin has been promoted to the role of National Account Manager with the Zimpli Kids outfit, a firm recognition of her dedication and effort in her role with the team. Astin joined Zimpli Kids late in 2016 and since then has worked tirelessly to build her portfolio from scratch. “Zimpli Kids sales have increased massively,” said one colleague, “ and a substantial percentage of this is all down to the hard work of this rising star.” On top of this, Astin has played a key role in the ongoing success Zimpli Kids is seeing on YouTube, helping the firm hit a whopping six billion views of its latest campaign.
Telesales manager, Asmodee UK
Marketing executive, Posh Paws
At 25 years old, Matt Bishop has had a significant role change in the past year at Asmodee UK. Bishop has now made the move from broad telesales manager to managing the entire telesales team at Asmodee UK. In his role, Bishop is responsible for all independent sales. As we all know, these are at the very centre of Asmodee’s business. Does the pressure ever get to him? Not a chance. In fact, Bishop thrives on the responsibility and continues to guide the future direction of the independent sales team, says fans that work with him. An affable and cherished member of the industry, there's big stuff coming ahead.
Christina Brasier National accounts manager Asmodee UK Christina Brasier has been with Asmodee for five years now, having begun her career with the board game specialists at the age of 22. Today, she continues to push forwards and expand the parameters of her role. Alongside managing three of the firm’s top accounts, she maintains close relationships with some of its most important suppliers. Brasier has even been described as the 'go-to member of the national sales department,'and we have a feeling we, Asmodee and the toy industry will be hearing a lot more from Brasier in the coming months and years.
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Since joining the Posh Paws and Whitehouse Leisure business three years ago, Taylor Brandon has proved herself more than instrumental to the continued success of its ever growing business. From managing trade shows to marketing communications, website management to product development, Brandon exudes an infectious enthusiasm for her job, read just one nomination for the young exec. Colleagues have described her as a truly "valid member of the Posh Paws team," as it continues its plans for growth in the year ahead. Congratulations go to Brandon for making this year's listing.
Will Burton Amazon account executive Asmodee UK This 26 year old has a ‘great eye for detail,’ according to colleagues. It's with skills like this that Burton is able to execute his role as Amazon account executive at Asmodee UK to the letter. Quick to take the initiative and with a strong sales focus, Burton is not shy of facing new challenges in his role. One nomination stated that Burton is ‘always happy to step up to the plate,’ but it failed to mention anything about the tea round. Burton will continue to work on growing the firm’s account with online giant, a key focus for the firm as it moves into 2019.
30 Under 30
Platform content producer Asmodee Group
PR and marketing executive BTHA
Abi Crowe joined the toy industry only last year on a full time basis, takng up the role of platform content producer for Asmodee, and bringing the world of tabletop gaming to social media and streaming like never before. Crowe has been instrumental in the growth of Asmodee’s digital content output with the feather in her cap being her recent live stream marathon of Germany’s Essen where she not only played but presented and hosted interviews on Asmodee’s live channel. Crowe truly is painting the future direction for games companies today and doing so while wearing those goggles to the office.
Joelle Engolia Senior marketing executive Wild & Wolf In under three decades, Joelle Engolia has managed events and marketing at The Henry Smith House, managed PR and communications at Parragon and over the past nine months has lead a mightily succssful marketing team at Wild & Wolf. Throughout her international career she has proved herself in online journalism, digital marketing, website creation and more. Engolia brings her skill set to what looks to be a prosperous year ahead for Wild & Wolf with her on the team and has done so with a friendly and outgoing manner. Engolia is sure to become an industry favourite - if she isn't already.
Hazel Fox Designer HTI Group Hazel Fox joined the HTI team nine years ago and has become a driven, on trend, super creative designer responsible for creating some of the most exciting ranges to come out from the firm. While designing and researching key trends every minute she can for the team, the 29 year old also guides the junior designers in their day to day work. Fox has been described as one of the foundations that the UK design team was built from. And given the scale and success of this company in question, that is sme very high praise indeed. Congratulations go to Fox for making this year's 30 Under 30 listing.
If you've had any dealings with the BTHA this toy fair season, you've no doubt met Rebecca Deeming. She looks after the PR and marketing for the BTHA, having joined as an intern three years ago. She has since worked her way up over the years to now lead on Toy Fair PR, executing the student seminar, leading the Bastion PR activity and creating new ideas and messaging to keep the buzz around the fair. Deeming also runs the BTHA Training Hub, which itself has seen a successful past 12 months, and is known as the office guru on sport and celebrity gossip. Go on then, Becky - what's the latest?
Dan Fletcher Graphic designer Zimpli Kids Dan Fletcher has been at Zimpli Kids for two and a half years now, and - in the words of the team around him - 'what an impact he has made.' “He is a tremendously talented designer and a phenomenally creative person,” said one colleague. “Whether it’s a new project, updating current artwork or designing marketing material, Dan never fails to bring a vision to life.” It's an envious CV and a network of shimmering references that Fletcher has to hand. It doesn't end there because he has also been described as a true asset to the Zimpli Kids team.
Emma Hanlon International account manager Thames & Kosmos It’s coming up to six years now that Emma Hanlon has provided Thames & Kosmos with her wealth of talent that sees her a become and almost permanent fixture among the 30 under 30 listing. Over the years, Hanlon has been instrumental in the firm’s success and growth here in the UK. In 2018 she was named international account manager in recognition of her tireless efforts and ability to strike long-lasting relationships with key retailers across the UK and Europe. Hanlon has played an integral role in Thames & Kosmos' recent step-change in the gaming space and driving significant growth for the business.
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Rebecca Hersee Marketing and sales assistant Gibsons Rebecca Hersee only joined the team in February 2018 having completed a degree in Fashion Marketing and Branding at Nottingham Trent University and following internships at Karen Millen and Liberty London. In a short space of time, she has made a major impact. At Gibsons, Hersee handles key accounts, manages email marketing campaigns and grows Gibsons’ social media platforms. “She has proved herself time and again and always rises to whatever challenge is thrown at her,” said a colleague.
Amy Kemp30 30 Under
Sales associate Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop Amy Kemp takes home a standout listing in this year’s 30 under 30 as the only retailer to feature. Kemp has been described as “an integral part of the Benjamin Pollock’s team, with a personable sales technique and inherent understanding of customer care.” Kemp has brought the toy shop to life on social media through her #toptoytuesday posts on Instagram and is an enthusiastic link between traditional toys and a new generation. Kemp takes her role as an ambassador for the heritage brand very seriously, with the ability to have fun with the role.
Co-founder Mojo Nation
CEO Emmerse Studios
Here we go. It’s been a big 12 months for Mojo Nation co-founder Billy Langsworthy. The body for toy and game designers put on the inaugural Play Creators Festival only a few months back, and already the initiative has proved to be an industry success. 2018 also saw Mojo Nation launch the first Mojo Nation 100 and the launch of the Play Creators Awards and Brand Untapped coming for 2019. “Mojo Nation has become an invaluable resource for inventors,” stated one nomination. "It's just a shame about the jokes," stated another.
With a passion for product design, Emma May founded her creative company Emmerse Studios two years ago and is the proud inventor of the family card game, Quirk. Launched in 2017, May has seen Quirk build a loyal following and the game is now Amazon’s Choice for funny games for the family. Her drive and enthusiasm to grow her business is already being rewarded but there’s plenty of big things yet to come. ToyNews offers a big congratulations to May for the success over the year and her well-earned place on this list.
Head of design Click Distribution
Account manager Generation Media
Diane McSweeney is another returning name to this year’s 30 under 30 list - and if you’re wondering why, you have her passion and enthusiasm for her work to thank. A hugely valued member of the Click team, McSweeney has played and continues to play an important role in developing the manufacturing side of the business. This ‘simply wonderful asset’ to the team heads up product design, jewellery and accessories and works with some of the biggest brands in entertainment.
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In her role as account manager at Generation Media, Kate Moncur has been fundamental to the launches of some of this year’s biggest toy brands. In her role, Moncur has supported the marketing teams of a number of toy advertisers and has shown an expertise that is needed to launch and establish products among their target audience. She has been described as a real asset to the Generation Media team as it looks to continue into a successful 2019.
30 Under 30
Junior product manager HTI Group
Operations manager Jazwares
If a whole year’s worth of fundraising by taking a running challenge every month of 2018 isn’t enough to secure her place in the list once again, then maybe her unerring contributions to the day to day running of HTI is? Emma Pilgrim has progressed from marketing assistant to assistant product manager before earning her position as junior product manager for wheeled toys in 2018. While Pilgrim works with leading licensors in order to meet expectations, her creativity is proven through the popularity of the firm’s wheeled ranges themselves. It’s another big year for Pilgrim indeed.
Beth Reynolds Senior account executive Energy PR With a wealth of experience in the toy industry, Beth Reynolds has managed campaigns for a number of youth and family brands. Since joining the firm last year, Reynolds has worked with the leading toy firm Wow! Stuff on various campaigns, including its award-winning Wizarding World of Harry Potter product ranges. Reynolds is involved in the international media relations for the Toy Association of America and its annual New york Toy Fair.
At 28, Hayley Powell is recognised as a key member of the Jazwares team, Powell has been pivotal in the growth and success of the business over the years, where she has been and continues to be responsible for the operations function. She has built invaluable relationships with the Jazwares team in China and its warehouse partner. As the UK business continues to grow, Powell will continue to build a strong support team around her. And with the kind of year lined up as Jazwares appears to have, it's a fine asset to have on the team it has in Powell.
Harrison 30 UnderScott 30
National account manager Re:creation Over the past year, Harrison Scott has had his dedication and passion for his role at Re:creation recognised with the promotion to the role of National Account Manager. Following a strong year for the young executive, Scott has previously played vital roles in the successful launch of the Feisty Pets range among many others of Re:creation’s top selling lines. He has been described as an up and coming force to be reckoned who, at 26, has a truly prosperous career ahead of him..
Account manager, Generation Media
Lead engineer Sensible Object
In her role as account manager at Generation Media, Sangita Sivanesan has been fundamental to the launches of some of this year’s biggest toy brands. In her role, Sivanesan has supported the marketing teams of a number of toy advertisers and has shown an expertise that is needed to launch and establish products among their target audience. She has been described as a real asset to the Generation Media team as it looks to continue into a successful 2019.
It’s Shaw’s second time around in the 30 under 30 listing because the 28 year old simply won’t stop overachieving. shaw is the lead engineer at Sensible Object, the tech gaming firm responsible for When in Rome and Beasts of Balance, and as such is in charge of overseas production, worldwide logistics and all electronic engineering for the company. It's thanks to much of Shaw's efforts that the team has been able to enjoy yet another year of success and innovation. What an asset to have on board for the coming year.
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30 Under 30
Lauren Skeath Marketing executive - licensing & PR The Entertainer A key player in maintaining The Entertainer’s reputation for delivering top notch marketing campaigns, Lauren Skeath has enhanced the marketing and licensing activity by picking up key relationships with licensors and suppliers. Having joined in June 2017, Skeath works closely with the retail and online teams to ensure activity is delivered and reported on. She has been described by colleagues as highly organised and proactive with industry experience that has been invaluable.
Charlotte 30 Under Stevens 30 Account manager Norton PR
Since starting at Norton PR in July 2018, Charlotte Stevens has hit the ground running working across numerous clients during a very busy period for the company. She has built on a solid events background to spearhead a successful GraviTrax Intu demo tour over the summer and has lead campaigns on various licensed toy launches. “Stevens has proved herself a capable and invaluable member of the team,” said one colleague. Well done Stevens, we're sure to hear more from you in the coming year.
Researcher Fundamentally Children
Content director Toyology
Anna Taylor has been described as a key member of the research team at Fundamentally Children, which given the level of knowledge stored at the outfit is no small achievement at all. Taylor has been heavily involved with big projects for the outfit such as the First Steppers framework and the Happy Studio User testing. Taylor recently presented her research on inter-generational connected play at the ITRA conference in Paris in July. Ah, c’est bon..
Rebecca Watson National account coordinator HTI Group Having joined HTI two years ago, Rebecca Watson was quickly snapped up by the national accounts team for her organisation skills and passion for the business. Watson is generally described as the ‘backbone’ the national accounts team, preparing for customer meetings, conducting EPOS sales analysis and displaying a knowledge across all accounts that has been paramount to the success of her team. “One thing is for sure, the National accounts team would not be the same without her,” said one nomination.
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An actor and presenter, this proud Midlands lad fled to London over a decade ago and having grown up on a diet of Power Rangers, Transformers and Thundercats, is a sucker for anything that goes ‘pow’ or ‘zap’. In his role developing the video and social media content for Toyology, it is under Taylor-Hastings' watch that the site has seen traffic grow 70 per cent in just under a year. Does Taylor-Hastings have what it takes to become a permanent fixture of the UK toy scene? With the right amount of 'pow' and 'zap', we believe so.
Bradley Wilson 30 Under 30
Marketing and PR executive John Adams This 26 year old joined John Adams just under three years ago as a marketing executive and quickly became a popular and integral part of the team. Full of creative ideas, Wilson works closely with the company’s PR agencies on various consumer facing initiatives and has been responsible for raising the company’s profile via digital marketing and social media. Add to this that we have seen Wilson presenting the Strictly board game in a tuxedo and he was pretty much a shoe-in for this year's 30 Under 30 listing.
TALKING ‘BOUT THIS GENERATION For Generation Media, tracking the ever-evolving means of media consumption of the digital savvy kids’ market is a ceaseless task, but one that this fine-tuned outfit is very much more than adept at. Generation Media’s managing director Lisa Morgan talks ToyNews through the processes
n her line of work, Lisa Morgan is often found facing reports on the death of television. More specifically, these reports are on the death of the television among children under nine years old, as more and more this core audience goes digital. But digital has a number of guises today and what could one minute be an app or streaming platform like Netflix, could just as well be YouTube or even the Cinema the very next.
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For Generation Media, plotting children’s ever evolving methods and means of media consumption is a ceaseless task. It’s just as well Morgan and her team are up to the challenge. ToyNews catches up with Generation Media… How have the past 12 months been for Generation Media? How is business evolving in line with the children’s media landscape of today? It only feels like yesterday that we were at
Toy fair 2018 discussing our up and coming plans for our tenth birthday celebrations. We have achieved a great deal since then. The front half of our year was focused on bringing in new talent, supplier partners and tech solutions to enhance our digital online offering, while the second was consumed by navigation of the increasingly challenging children’s TV trading environment. With a second year of double-digit decline in commercial impacts, it has been all hands on deck to not only deliver our
Generation Media value but also the all-important quality of TV campaigns to maximise return on our client's investments. We have had yet another successful year of business development, supporting clients large and small in both local and international media planning and buying. We have also been busy on the content placement front, bringing to market new content both in linear broadcast and online. What are the biggest factors of change in the children’s media space at the moment, and how has this impacted on you? We often read about the death of TV among our core target, but for young children (under nine) there is still very much a viewing ritual surrounding live linear content consumption. Our market has been able to benefit from efficient entry points for TV advertising over recent years. While this is still the case, combined with a large engaged audience and high return on investment, we will continue to strongly invest in children’s commercial TV for the foreseeable future. We are not oblivious to the shifts in viewing, however. Our research partner Giraffe Insights conducts an ongoing stakeholder study into cross-platform video consumption among kids aged two to nine years old called Kids and the Screen (KATS). This helps us fill the gap of the traditional measurement platforms that have struggled to keep pace. What we are observing is the increasing time spent on YouTube. Be it TV, influencer or gaming content, it is clear YouTube’s dominance is here to stay. With improvements in tech surrounding optimisation and brand safety, we would expect spend in this area to continue to grow too. Elsewhere, cinema is an increasing area of interest for us and our clients as we face challenges in the unpredictability of TV viewing. With sequels for Toy Story, Frozen and Lion King on the horizon in 2019, we are expecting a record-breaking year on the big screen this coming year - and there's a few titles the team is excited to see, too.
Navigating the increasingly complex Digital Online world will remain a priority to ensure we are extending campaigns and maximising on return of our clients in a constructive way.
Lisa Morgan, MD
Where is the children’s media landscape headed towards in the next few years? How will companies change direction in that time? Product-wise, we are seeing a rise in time spent video gaming, which aligns with our movement into this sector and focus on our first generation of consumers that are now young adults. Examining the toy sector specifically, incorporating tech into product is an established theme that we expect to continue. We have also seen a revival of more simple and traditional play patterns. Board games have increased in popularity to bring the family together away from the screen. Meanwhile, mystry toy collectables have dominated the NPD and Dream Toy charts in 2018, driving the growth in popularity for unboxing content on YouTube. The phenomenon of products such as LOL has been remarkable. One trend that will not change is the fickle nature of children. So the million-dollar question in the industry is ‘what will be the next big thing?’ What level of expansion have you guys seen this past year? How is Generation Media going global? With the rise of programmatic buying, we now have an international audience at our fingertips. In line with this, our clients and prospects were increasingly demanding a
global offer and thus our centrally managed international The Next Generation Media Exchange was born. Many of our overseas competitors have struggled to replicate our specialism, agility and flexibility. As UK colleagues share the success of our UK partnership, we are organically approached to represent our clients in other international markets. Through direct buys and affiliated partnerships with local independents, we now have a tried and tested mechanic for delivering market leading international campaigns with a number of high profile distributors and manufacturers. What can we expect from 2019? We will continue to focus our efforts and energy on delivering efficient and effective campaigns for our clients both at home and abroad. We are currently exploring new partnerships to extend our services into relevant sectors such as licensing with our affiliation with Nimbus Nine. Navigating the increasingly complex Digital Online world will remain a priority to ensure we are extending campaigns and maximising on return of our clients in a constructive way. Dare we mention Brexit? There will no doubt be some bumps in the road ahead but nothing we haven’t experienced before having launched during the last recession.
ToyNews PlayTime is provided by Generation Media 0207 307 7900 | www.generationmedia.co.uk
January/February 2019 | toy news | 47
A NEW VIEW It’s been almost a year since the kids, youth and family specialist rebranded from iGen Insights to Giraffe Insights and made its announcement to the toy industry via the pages of this very magazine. ToyNews talks to Sadie Buckingham, associate director to find out the latest
t’s been almost a year since the kids, youth and family specialist rebranded from iGen Insights to Giraffe Insights and made its announcement to the toy industry via the pages of this very magazine you hold. Working across the entertainment, media, toys and games, retail and food and drink sectors, Giraffe Insights makes research into the habits of the consumers of tomorrow its business. And over the course of the past 12 months, that business has been quite the whirlwind for the team of specialists working behind the scenes. Today, Giraffe Insights boasts an international reach with research partnerships, campaigns and initiatives landing aplenty. ToyNews talks to the team to find out what this all means… 48 | toy news | January/February 2019
How have the past 12 months been for Giraffe Insights and how has the business evolved? It has been almost a year since our rebranding from iGen to Giraffe Insights and we’ve been delighted by the response to our transition. While we will always remember our iGen years fondly, it was time for a change and 2018 was the right year for us to reassess our offering to the industry and our brand identity. Giraffe Insights encapsulates everything we believe research should be about: looking at the bigger picture, seeing situations from a different standpoint to everybody else and differentiating yourself from the rest of the ‘herd’. It's been an enjoyable past 12 months, that's for sure.
What level of expansion or growth have you achieved over the past year and how is Giraffe Insights now approaching research in the Kids and Parents arena? Our team has grown and we have welcomed new members of staff and this has meant we have been able to accept larger and even more ambitious briefs. We have also been expanding into international markets with our stakeholder research, not to mention, speaking at notable conferences including the CMC, Cinekid Amsterdam and of course Generation Media’s KidsCon18. We also entered our third wave of our flagship research Kids & The Screen which now allows us to see a clear picture of year on year changes. This year, we have
added an ethnographic qualitative element, which has allowed us to delve more deeply into the findings from the first year. We are looking forward to delivering the fourth wave of the KATS research next spring as we will be able to extrapolate more what trends will look like moving into 2020.
Could you tell us more about Kids & The Screen, how does it work? We are capturing real-time viewing behaviour among two to nine year olds, whether it be a 20 minute TV show they watch on live TV, a three minute clip on YouTube or a two hour film on Netflix. It is all recorded within this research. We focus around the behaviour aspect of viewing, rather than just passive measurement which is enabling us to dig deeper into understanding the changes which we are seeing - the changes aren’t being driven in the way you might think. This is a stakeholder piece, but we do have a few more packages available for 2019. We truly believe this unique research will arm our clients with the knowledge to really understand their target audience’s behaviours and enable future media strategies to be informed.
So, how important is research to launching a new product or service today? So important. We would always recommend including research as part of the decision-making process to ensure the target audience - or product development and media or content selection - are all aligned to ensure in-market success. At Giraffe insights, we always say that strategies should be informed rather than predicted - the best way to achieve that in our view is Sadie Buckingham, putting research at the heart of Associate Director the business. Our knowledge and expertise with these audiences, combined with in-house tools have at our disposal means we make every project bespoke to the client, never starting from scratch. By keeping our research in-house, we space evolve and what should can use our expertise to maximise enwe be looking out for in terms of gagement and tailor each approach. children’s trends? It’s the $64,000 question, to answer What can we expect from 2019? what the next big thing will be in chilHow will we continue to see the dren’s trends. We have just the piece of research for you. We have had our finger on the pulse of the biggest changes we have seen over the last year and what this means for brands. In collaboration with DC Thomson, we have created a segmentation to understand what differentiates people aged seven to 14 so we can most effectively engage with them. These Youth Squads reprots provides brands with the tools they need to effectively target and communicate with young people today. One of the changes we have observed across the board is the Vlogger/Celeb influence and social media increasing across the board. We believe that getting those early adopter squads on board starting the conversation - not selling will be key to drive brand advocacy. We are excited to see what 2019 holds for us and the media landscape.
ToyNews PlayTime is provided by Generation Media 0207 307 7900 | www.generationmedia.co.uk
January/February 2019 | toy news | 49
Licensing Hot List
THE HOT LIST This next 12 months is going to be a big year for children’s licenses, and with it, you can be sure of a big year for licensed toys. Robert Hutchins catches up with the licensing executives at some of the biggest studios in children’s entertainment including Sesame Workshop, Pokémon, Entertainment One, Roald Dahl, SEGA and BBC Studios to find out what they have in store for us over the course of the coming year
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Licensing Hot List
WORD ON THE STREET Sesame Street is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year with a raft of activity spanning new content, new product lines, new partnerships and new initiatives to support children and families across the globe. Robert Hutchins talks to Risa Greenbaum, assistant vice president of international media business at Sesame Workshop about the plans
esame Workshop has quite the legacy to uphold. This year marks its 50th as a pillar of the global preschool pantheon and as such, the team behind the iconic cast has set itself no small challenge as we enter 2019. In fact, with more content in production and development than it has ever had before, you’d almost be forgiven for thinking that Sesame Workshop has taken on quite the herculean task. For a start, Cookie Monster has just landed his own series in Cookie Monster’s Foodie Truck while the studio is also developing multiple spin-off animation series exploring the worlds of Elmo and Abby Cadabby. On top of this, it has also launched a new animated segment of the flagship Sesame Street called Abby’s Amazing Adventures, 52 | toy news | January/February 2019
while continuing to deliver “all the laughter and learning that families expect of Sesame Street.” Oh, and then add to the mix that Sesame Workshop has for the first time in more than a decade, launched a new series that goes beyond the Sesam trope in Esme & Roy, a new animated series aimed at four to six year olds, and you’re beginning to see just what sort of a year 2019 really is going to be for the team. “There will be so many fun surprises for our 50th celebration in 2019,” starts Risa Greenbaum, assistant vice president, international media business, Sesame Workshop. “In addition to our high-profile collaboration partners like Uniqlo and Puma, Sesame Street’s UK licensing programme will be stronger than ever next year, with
significantly increased plans across all retail partners and expanded product ranges.” Last year, Sesame detailed some rather extensive toy and game plans to ToyNews. Over the last 12 months, and with a UK licensing programme now headed up by Bulldog Licensing, the studio is relishing in a successful 2018, and a thoroughly kickstarted year ahead. “With licensing opportunities being overseen by Bulldog Licensing for the UK and Eire, we have seen very strong sales of items such as our Sambro master plush lines. In fact, Tickle Me Elmo just flew off the shelves in the run-up to Christmas.” Over the last 50 years, Sesame Workshop has made quite the impact not only on the children’s entertainment space, but the licensing market too. Currently, the studio’s
Licensing Hot List
content is seen in over 150 countries, translated in to 17 languages and enjoys over 24 million social fans worldwide. With a heritage spanning five decades and a global reach of millions, it’s little surprise that Sesame Workshop - and the Sesame Street brand itself enjoys a multi-generational audience. And this appeal has certainly influenced its consumer products activity over the past year. “We have seen some exciting growth in our adult and fan business,” continues Greenbaum. “We have already partnered with innovative creators in the fashion and lifestyle space that includes clothing from Bioworld, Mad Engine, Zara and more, while location-based entertainment will also continue to drive brand engagement and licensing growth over the next few years.” It’s here that we should mention that Sesame Street is about to launch a raft of new experiences, including the first Sesame Street dark ride in Porta Ventura
and the most realistic recreation of Sesame Street itself to be constructed in SeaWorld, Florida. On the distribution front, the pre-school learning and entertainment app Hopster introduced a suite of Sesame Street content on the platform in the UK and US, and marked World Autism Day by adding ebook content starring Julia, the first Sesame Street character with autism. “We’re also investing in new production, with new short-form content tailored specifically for digital and social platforms,” says Greenbaum. “This year and every year, we are committed to building on our core characters with fresh content and new partnerships.” A staple of the sector, pre-school is at the heart of everything Sesame Workshop does. And so too is its mission to help kids everywhere “grow smarter, stronger and kinder,” through its programme of social impact initiatives, many of which are implemented through Sesame Street in Communities.
“It’s our largest domestic outreach initiative, we’re working hand-in-hand with direct service providers across the country to deliver resources to vulnerable children and families, like those dealing with traumatic experiences, homelessness, incarceration and more,” explains Greenbaum. ‘Thanks to a landmark $100 million grant from the MacArthur Foundation, we are undertaking the largest early childhood intervention in the history of humanitarian response, and in partnership with the International Rescue Committee, we are creating programming that will reach millions of children affected by the Syrian refugee crisis. Meanwhile, in partnership with World Vision, our Wash Up initiative is delivering life-saving water and sanitation education to kids and families in 11 countries around the world. “Sesame has a unique ability to reach and teach children, particularly those most vulnerable, and we’re constantly evolving to meet their needs with these initiatives and much more.” And this all just seems to be the Sesame Street way. January/February 2019 | toy news | 53
Licensing Hot List
PIKA-TUNING IN This May, Pikachu will be making his live-action big screen debut with Pokémon: Detective Pikachu and already, The Pokémon Company is anticipating a solid year for its toy sales. ToyNews gets the lowdown from EMEA director of licensing, Mathieu Galante
okémon Let’s Go: Pikachu and Pokémon Let’s Go: Evee sold a combined total of three million copies in its debut week in late November last year. That little number made Pokémon Let’s Go the best-selling Nintendo Switch game at launch to date; it even sold more in its opening week than those other Nintendo record-setters, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild or Super Mario Odyssey. What this means, is that the Pokémon franchise - one that saw a powerful kick into the ranks of the most successful children’s brands in the last four years, thanks 54 | toy news | January/February 2019
in no small part to the success of Pokémon Go and the resulting surge in revenue to a tune of $145.6 million for The Pokémon Company in 2016 - is that it truly is, still very much at large. And according to the licensing team behind this iconic anime-inspired franchise, 2019 is set to be another landmark year for the Pokémon brand. For a start, it is now awaiting the release of its first-ever Pokémon live action movie this May, and the project has pulled in some pretty big Hollywood names. How big? Well how about Ryan Reynolds, Rita Ora, Ken Watanabe and Bill Nighy
kind of big? Already, fans the world over are champing at the bit to witness Pikachu in his live-action debut. The trailer garnered 140 million global views in the first 24 hours of launch. And that’s not the only big launch for Pokémon over the coming 12 months. The popular Pokémon Trading Card Game new mechanic, Tag Team - pairing two Pokémon together on one card - will be introduced in Pokémon: Sun & Moon - Team UP, the latest expansion to launch this February. Oh, and then there willof course be a supporting movie tie-in TCG expansion to boot.
Licensing Hot List
Later this year, the next introduction to Pokémon’s core role-play game series will arrive on Nintendo Switch, the Pokémon World Championships will take place in Washington DC in August and there will be swathes of new licensed Pokémon product landing this year. “The launch of Pokémon: Let’s Go is a great example of a title designed to bring new players into the video game universe, while also appealing to the core,” Mathieu Galante, licensing director EMEA at The Pokémon Company, tells ToyNews. “The release of the Nintendo Switch exclusive titles last November helped make Pokémon one of the most successful video game franchises of all time, with more than 324 million games sold worldwide.” The success - not just of the last year, but the preceeding three before that, and the generation of fans that pre-date even the launch of Pokémon Go - has allowed the Pokémon Company to build on its already burgeoning licensing portfolio with deals spanning fashion, accessories and yes, toys. “We have seen a phenomenal growth in licensees and TCG over the last few years and are looking to continue in the same vein,” continues Galante. “Our exciting new partnership with Wicked Cool Toys made an award-winning start with their first Pokémon master toy range earning Toy Fair Editor’s Choice.
“The most detailed Pokémon toy range yet, it has now rolled out internationally and will launch an expanded range in 2019, including movie tie-in products with added retail support. While it is hard to predict growth for toy sales, the level of interest in the Pokémon: Detective Pikachu movie trailer is very promising, so we are expecting some major growth in movie products.” With the film already boosting excitement across the retail landscape, Galante believes that other licensed products should also benefit. “We are particularly excited about our puzzles with Ravensburger, construction toys with Mattel and Nanoblocks, special edition Monopoly from Winning Moves, electronics with OTL and TeknoFun and Party Goods with Amscam and Rubie’s.” The Pokémon Company’s focus thus far, has been to continue working with its existing partners for the upcoming movie tie-in products. “The film should raise the brand’s profile even higher, which can only be positive for retailers,” Galante says. “Following 2018’s successful promotions in major stores inlcuding Selfridges and Hamleys, we are working on a strong retail programme with toy specialists and mass market retailers across Europe.” Last year, the company run an exclusive two-day campaign with Hamleys’ flag-
ship store on Regent Street. According to Galante, the activity - which included meet and greets with Pikachu and Eevee, product giveaways and a giant festive snow globe for selfies - led to “a significant uplift in sales.” The branded display gondola that took pride of place in the store, certainly helped too. Meanwhile, in the technological stakes, the Pokémon Company appears to have all bases covered. “Pokémon appeals to a very wide demographic and its four pillars provide different entry points,” says Galante. “In addition to the well-established TCG, video game and animation, our new mobile apps are becoming increasingly popular, targeting kids along with young adults who used to play Pokémon 20 years ago, and there are more to come.” The brand’s strategy - it would seem - is to constantly innovate. It’s a sure way, says Galante, of keeping fans loyal and attracting new ones and it seems a sound strategy to adopt; ensuring engagement across the ages. Having weathered 20 years at retail already, the firm and the brand recognises the importance of evolving with the times. “Retail has been challenging and consumer habits are changing fast. We need to remain relevant to new generations of kids by constantly re-inventing ourselves - which we have been doing for 20 years and will be doing for the next 20,” concludes Galante. January/February 2019 | toy news | 55
Licensing Hot List
Known for the wildly successful PJ Masks and the globally revered Peppa Pig, Entertainment One has launched a new property to the pre-school scene. Already, Ricky Zoom is turning up the heat in the pre-school sector so we talk to SVP of UK licensing Katie Rollings to find out more…
ntertainment One doesn’t greenlight new pre-school shows very often. In fact, you can pretty much count its current portfolio of brands in the sector on one hand and still have a couple of digits to spare. But, with the likes of Peppa Pig, PJ Masks and Ben & Holly’s Magic Kingdom, what eOne lacks in numbers it more than makes up for in global broadcasting, licensing and franchising success to the tune of millions. Of course, with a small team of elite brands like it has, when a new property enters the eOne fold - it’s kind of a big deal. Which is why, when the studio declared the 56 | toy news | January/February 2019
arrival of Ricky Zoom in mid 2018, a tide of excitement was felt across the licensing space for what the latest property can bring to it. “When we read the treatment, it was instantly clear that this is a show with real heart and a great community of characters who just happen to be bikes,” says Katie Rollings, SVP of UK licensing at Entertainment One. And the cat’s out of the bag: Ricky Zoom is all about motorbikes. And its series run of 52 11-minute CGI programmes will follow the adventures of Ricky - the little red rescue bike with a zest for speed - and his bike
buddies in Loop, Scootio and DJ. Together, they race around the sports track, try out new stunts and zoom into adventure, is the official line. The more candid line from eOne’s Rollings is that the studio believes Ricky Zoom has a “similar relatability of Peppa Pig, because of the experiences of the characters, while it has the aspiration of PJ Masks.” The action of Ricky Zoom takes place in the town of Wheelford, a place tailor made for bikes where Ricky is surrounded by a close-knit community and the show itself is scheduled to launch in selected markets from spring/summer 2019.
Licensing Hot List “It comes from the producers of PJ Masks, so we have high hopes for it next year,” continues Rollings. “Launching Ricky Zoom is part of our ongoing strategy to build properties around original content nurturing and sustaining them for the long term. It’s the commitment to highly original content that helps maintain our position in the pre-school sector." Entertainment One has already seen a good deal of success with a CGI series in PJ Masks. The fact it has returned to the medium clearly displays a confidence in what CGI delivers to the pre-school space, while ensuring it maintains its place within the eOne portfolio. “Ricky Zom is entirely complementary to our other pre-school brands and has all the same hallmarks of quality that they have,” says Rollings. “We are wholly dedicated to making content based on exceptional storytelling which can engage the fan base at multiple levels. “That principal is at the heart of the success of Peppa Pig and PJ Masks and we are confident it will be true of Ricky Zoom as well. The incredible success of PJ Masks and the global resurgence of Peppa Pig has transformed our business and proved that we can build and sustain multiple brands that deliver at retail and resonate with audiences on a global level.” While, yes all three brands Rollings speaks of now are pre-school properties, the studio insists that readings dictate that PJ Masks resonates most with boys aged four to five with a strong secondary
appeal to girls, while Peppa Pig is predominantly hitting the two to four age range on a gender neutral level. “We therefore believe that the sweet spot for Ricky Zoom is going to be three year olds with a slight gender bias towards boys,” says Rollings. And it is useful information to know. This will, after all, be wielded as a valuable tool when tailoring a consumer products programme for the series. The licensing programme will primarily target boys aged two to five and will be spearheaded by toys as it rolls out its consumer products from autumn/winter this year. TOMY is already on board as the global master toy partner and the initial range will include vehicles and playsets, including Ricky’s House. This will be followed by publishing, as well as a small range of games and puzzles and a capsule apparel offering. “The property has huge potential in the toy category,” states Rollings. “TOMY is bringing an innovative approach to the toy line which is exceptional and as a result, the toy line directly embodies and reflects the DNA of the show. “Our experience with Peppa Pig and PJ Masks has given us the necessary tools to understand what it takes to build great content into a long term international brand at every level and this is a very good foundation from which to launch Ricky Zoom.” Rollings is among the first to recognise that the pre-school market is tough. It has been for a while. Competition is fierce
and it is becoming an increasingly difficult sector in which to launch a new property. However, Rollings is encouraged by the industry’s early response to Ricky Zoom and is optimistic about its chances for success. “One significant change in the way we market preschool properties has been in the rise in emphasis on experience and engagement, even for the youngest fans, and this gives us fresh opportunities within the sector,” explains Rollings. Amid our chat, Rollings drops the inevitable licensing catchphrase, ‘touchpoints’. It’s become a staple part of the merchandising diet, particularly as more and more consumers and audiences are expecting experiential engagement with the brands they enjoy. “Giving fans the chance to interact with their favourite characters is something we feel very strongly about at eOne,” she says. “We have a dedicated in-house team focused on delivering live experiences across all our brands, including Ricky Zoom and right now we are working on ideas to bring Ricky and the other bike characters to life through a suite of live events and activations.” Rollings rounds up by stating the key role Ricky Zoom will go on play in the eOne brand portfolio from this point. But despite the attention the brand will no doubt be receiving, she promises that eyes will not be taken off the likes of Peppa Pig and PJ Masks. Peppa is, after all, celebrating an important anniversary this year, while the roll-out for PJ Masks will continue. “Our experience in the pre-school sector has taught us that to allow your brand the best chance of success, you need patience and focus and that’s what we’ll be applying to all our brands as we manage our growing portfolio,” she concludes. January/February 2019 | toy news | 57
Licensing Hot List
THE WORLD OF The Roald Dahl Story Company has the envious task of bringing the world of Roald Dahl to life for children and adults across the world. It’s latest move is an exclusive deal with Netflix for a new slate of Roald Dahl adaptations. It’s just one reason why 2019 is primed to be a very big year for the firm indeed…
he past year has been a riotous one filled with activity and excitement for the Roald Dahl Story Company that all came to a head in late November with the announcement that a brand new slate of Roald Dahl adaptations were heading to the Netflix streaming platform. The coming year will now see an expansion of the ‘Roald Dahl Universe’, and you can make a pretty safe bet that we’ll all be seeing consumer product activity hit a new scale when the first episode lands on the streaming platform. To that end, 2018 was already a very busy year for The Roald Dahl Story Company and the past 12 months alone saw the firm deliver a whizzpopping 400 new SKUs, as well as growth in a number of categories including the health and beauty space with its award-winning Bloom and Blossom partnership, as well as homewares, gifting and toys and games. “We can’t not mention World Book Day, as well,” Stephanie Griggs, licensing and design director at The Roald Dahl Story Company, tells ToyNews. “It’s a real retail pillar for us and the associated awareness, retail participation and additional category lines alongside our enormously successful dress up lines are still continuing to grow year on year for us, as well as the solid partnership that we have built with World Book 58 | toy news | January/February 2019
Day themselves through their brilliant work.” In toys and games, and the reports are that Roald Dahl Monopoly has been a “real success since it launched in March 2018,” and has achieved strong sell-through all year. “The feedback we have had from fans has been great,” continues Griggs, who at the time of speaking with us was gearing up for a strong Christmas period “as families look to spend quality time together.” Retail partnerships have been a key focus for the team and 2018 saw some major partnerships established and strengthened, including with the likes of Tesco, Sainsburys, The Book People, Boots and Waitrose, as well as Waterstones and Asda. Above all, it is the toy sector that strikes the firm as its most important category, with particular attention to the games space.
“It’s just such a complimentary fit with Roald Dahl’s stories and characters,” says Griggs. “Top Trumps continues to be a great success and this spring, Winning Moves are launching a second volume of Roald Dahl Top Trumps and a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Cluedo. “We are also bringing out two new Brainbox lines with Green Board Games and our Fiesta Crafts range of finger and hand puppets are doing very well, and we will continue to develop new product for 2019 onwards with Paul Lamond.” So 2019 is already shaping up to be jampacked year. On top of all this, the firm is continuing its hero year strategy and this year will mark the year of Matilda. It will follow the success of the 30th anniversary celebrations The Roald Dahl Story Company held for Matilda in October 2018, which included the unveiling of a statue of Matilda facing up to Donald Trump. ‘We’re now focussing on key year-round tent pole periods, including World Book Day, summer holidays, Back to School and Roald Dahl Day, leading nicely into Christmas,” says Griggs. ‘The next few years will see us continue our multi-title, multiple touch-point approach to publishing, consumer products, partnerships, events and entertainment including theatre, film and TV - and we’re also already busy prepping for 2020’s hero year - fantastic Mr Fox.”
Licensing Hot List
IN THE STUDIO
With the formation of BBC Studios in early 2018, the past 12 months have been quite the whirlwind for our friends at the Beeb. We catch up with Anita Majhu, senior licensing manager to find out what 2019 has in store It’s been quite the year for BBC Studios. What have the past 12 months spelled for you guys? The last 12 months have been successful for us across our portfolio of brands, and it has been wonderful to see Hey Duggee and Something Special continue to thrive in the pre-school space. Hey Duggee partnered with Children in Need in 2018 to offer 30,000 free fundraising packs to pre-schools and nurseries across the UK and we built on our portfolio of Hey Duggee apps with two new educational games - Hey Duggee: The Exploring App and Hey Duggee’s Squirrel Club. 2018 also saw countless licensing deals come to fruition, with several announcements around BLE including the renewal of our partnership with Golden Bear. We also announced that 8th Wonder will be creating a collection of wooden toys for the Hey Duggee, Something Special and Sarah & Duck brands, which will hit the shops in spring this year. One of the highlights of 2018 were our three BAFTA wins at the Children’s Awards in November, where Hey Duggee picked up awards in th Preschool Animation, Director and Digital categories. How is BBC Studios looking in terms of toys activity? 2018 was a big year for you guys, what is the strength of the brand in this space in particular? Our portfolio of brands is in a strong place, with several exciting partnerships coming up in the toy space this year. There are new product lines on the horizon for Hey Duggee with Golden Bear, and we’ve also announced both a plush toy range and wooden toy range with 8th Wonder, which will hit the shelves in spring. All new product lines will be featured at London Toy Fair this month. How are you now building on this success for the year ahead? What will 60 | toy news | January/February 2019
be the key drivers for BBC Studios and your portfolio of brands for 2019 and beyond? Reaching and connecting with our customers in such a crowded space can be a challenge and it’s important for us to find ways to reach our audience across multiple touchpoints. Our digital support continues to be an invaluable way to do this, and it continues to prove successful for ranges across all of our retailers. How have you seen the consumer products space evolve over the past year and how is this influencing the strategy and way you engage with consumers, licensing partners, retailers? The consumer products business has evolved quite profoundly over the past 12 months, particularly in the preschool space with the closing down of Toys R Us. In what continues to be a challenging and uncertain market the relationships we build with our partners are key. Partnerships are at the heart of what we do and remain a key part of our strategy; which is centred on a collaborative approach that is flexible to the changing market environment.
For our customers, the evolving landscape of the preschool market has had a real impact on the importance and success of digital and social marketing and the translation we’re seeing to sales. What key partnerships can we expect to see from you guys in the coming months? We have several exciting partnerships coming up this year, including our new plush and wooden toy range with 8th Wonder for CBeebies hit Sarah and Duck. 8th Wonder is also creating a beautiful range of wooden toys for Hey Duggee and Something Special, which will launch in spring this year. Why should potential licensees and retailers be excited to work with BBC Studios for 2019 and beyond? Working with BBC Studios offers the opportunity to be part of industry leading brands in the preschool space. As one of the biggest content platforms in the market, we have a fantastic slate with more brands being added in the coming months. The relationships we build with licensees and retailers are of the upmost importance to us, and we look to set ourselves apart by virtue of our values and approach.
Licensing Hot List
SONIC’S BOOM Sonic the Hedgehog, that hero of the retro video gaming era, is about to land in cinemas the world over in his first live-action film. It's no surprise that SEGA Europe is adamant that 2019 will mark the year of the Hedgehog
EGA Europe’s award-winning brand licensing team is heading to the London Toy Fair and Nuremberg’s Spielwarenmesse this year with its host of Sonic the Hedgehog and SEGA licensed products in tow. Yes, the licensing outfit will be setting up shop at London’s Olympia from January 22nd to 24th before hitting the highs of Nuremberg’s Toy Fair from January 31st to February 4th as it prepares itself for what it has outlined as a “huge year for Sonic.” And why, we hear you ask, is it set to be such a big year for this fast-paced hedgehog? Well, it all begins with the release of the first-ever live action theatrical adaptation of video gaming’s greatest mascot as Sonic the Hedgehog readies to hit cinemas in 2019. The new film arrives courtesy of the filmmakers behind Deadpool and The Fast and the Furious, so audiences are likely in for quite the ride. 62 | toy news | January/February 2019
Meanwhile, on May 21st Sonic will be back behind the wheel in Team Sonic Racing, a new arcade title hitting Xbox One, Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch and PC. Developed by the award-winning studio Sumo Digital, Team Sonic Racing is “the ultimate arcade and fast-paced competitive style racing experience.” It will feature classic characters and environments from across the Sonic universe and allow players to race together in online multiplayer or local
co-op mode, utilising the dynamic team mechanics and vehicle customisation features to dash across the finish line. Alright, enough about the game. This is important to know because SEGA Europe has already tied up a number of licensing deals for kids and adults Classic and Modern Sonic themed apparel. Sun City has renewed in France and Dom Tom regions while Licensee Factory is a new partner for Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Poetic Brands and Global Brands Group have renewed their licenses which also include SEGA’s retro games and consoles covering the UK and European markets respectively. Elsewhere, Half Moon Bay has successfully launched its range of Classic Sonic gift and novelty products in Q4 2018 and The Hut group has signed up to sell apparel, accessories, homewear and gift and novelty merchandise across their portfolio of online stores for Classic and Modern Sonic, Total War, Football Manager and SEGA Retro IP. And of course, SEGA Europe is keen to secure more partnerships as excitement builds around the new movie landing in cinemas later this year. In fact, the team is looking to meet companies from across the toy industry as it laces up those iconic sneakers and prepares to come thundering into Toy Fair season this year. There's no finishing line in sight for the blue blur who will remain the hero of the retro scene for now and for the years to come.
Magical mystery tours Childrenâ€™s books are coming to life in spectacular fashion whether that is through this new age of experiential walkthroughs or ground-breaking deals with Netflix. Robert Hutchins takes a look at the growing licensing trend
64 | toy news | January/February 2019
hildren’s books have long been the source of much of the inspiration in the children’s entertainment sector. And we don’t just mean the annual excitement around World Book Day, though over the years this has certainly become a staple for the dress up and role play sector with spikes in sales growing incrementally year on year around the date. Putting the Wind in the Willows costumes to one side for just a moment, children’s books have been the source material for some real innovation; be that at retail, experiential licensing and gifting or even in this new era of online streaming and view on demand. Last year, Penguin Ventures partnered with intu Shopping Centres do bring Beatrix Potter’s Tales of Peter Rabbit to life with a themed Christmas grotto that took both kids and parents through the adventures of the iconic rabbit. Set builds, costumed actors and a story for kids to follow immersed them into the world that some 120 years on from first being put into print, continues to spark imagination among children and families. Perhaps the biggest announcement to come out of the world of children’s literature last year, though, was news that Netflix was working on a series inspired by the stories of Roald Dahl in a ground-breaking partnership between the SVOD platform and The Roald Dahl Story Company.
The significance of such a deal cannot go unrecognised. Roald Dahl has always carried a pedigree with it that lends the brand an air of affirmation among readers and parents. The exclusive nature in which it works with partners has always seemed to reinforce this, too. The partnerships it has embarked on - in the children’s space - historically, have rarely gone beyond what we can acceptably call wholesome. All the while, Netflix has given us binge-watching episodes of The Peep Show. No, I will be fairer than that. Netflix has been steadily building an impressive content library across both its children’s and adult audiences. Now on this very topic, Netflix actually performed quite the stunt at the start of the year, revealing viewing figures for the very first time. Yes, those figures were only for a single film within its library and yes, information around the actual figure released is vague… but interesting all the same. According to Netflix, more than 45 million accounts watched the Netflix Original film Bird Box over the holiday period. Whichever way you decide to digest that information, it offers a glimpse behind the curtain of what has until now, been a very clandestine operation at Netflix. Now, if that figure can be taken at face value, it’s no wonder brands like The Roald Dahl Compay are beginning to January/February 2019 | toy news | 65
look at Netflix as a credible platform for an IP as cherished as Roald Dahl’s world of children’s stories. Felicity Dahl, Roald Dahl’s widow, put it thusly: “Our mission, which is purposefully lofty, is for as many children as possible around the world to experience the unique magic and positive message of Roald Dahl’s stories. This partnership with Netflix marks a significant move toward making that possible and is an incredibly exciting new chapter for the Roald Dahl Company.” And with the Bird Box figures now at our disposal, we can see why. Netflix has a truly worldwide reach. In terms of what this means for licensing, The Roald Dahl Story Company’s licensing and design director, Stephanie Griggs tells us “it will open up a new arena of opportunities across a number of categories and territories. We’ll be working really collaboratively with Netflix as they bring together the highest quality creative, visual and writing teams to extend Roald Dahl’s beloved stories. It’s very much their intention to remain faithful to the quintessential spirit and tone of Dahl while building out an imaginative story universe that expands far beyond the pages of the books 66 | toy news | January/February 2019
themselves and we have no doubt that they will do an amazing job. Netflix has a catalogue of fantastic and engaging content.” Toys will continue to be a key category for The Roald Dahl Story Company, particularly in the games space, meaning it will most certainly be one to watch in the coming months. However, it seems we may have a battle of the brands on our hands as the months roll on; because while The Roald Dahl Story Company is breaking boundaries in the world of home entertainment, Penguin Ventures is looking towards new trends in cinema as a conduit for its own literary adventures. Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman celebrated its 40th anniversary last year in spectacular fashion. Not only did its brand owners Penguin Random House bring out a tranche of specially curated products, plush toys, commemorative lines and exclusive partnerships with some of the UK’s biggest retailers, it also took steps towards reinventing the world of cinema as we know it. Halfway through 2018, the partnership between Penguin Random House and the London-based cinematic experiences specialist, Backyard Cinema was made public, and from that very moment, excitement
began to bubble. This was to be Backyard Cinema’s first venture into the world of licensing and the industry watched with bated breath and some serious intrigue as to just where the venture would lead. The partnership culminated with the launch of The Snowman Experience at London Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland, a walkthrough experience in which guests engaged with constructed sets inspired by pages from the popular, 40 year old book and the now iconic film, as the film itself played out on big screens across four rooms. It was championed as an unbridled success. “The whole thing has been a huge adventure for us. It has not come without its difficulties and we have really learned a lot from this style of event, but it has been a huge success for Backyard Cinema,” Dominic Davies, founder and creative director of Backyard Cinema, tells ToyNews. “To be a part of the huge festival Winter Wonderland as a lead attraction, coupled with creating something brand new and totally unique is exciting in itself and a huge achievement for us, not to mention looking after the world’s most famous Snowman for Penguin Random House.”
The Snowman experience was a media-spanning adventure. It didn’t just bring the film to life with character appearances, sets designed to look like a living room, the dining table set out for a feast, or the mystical woodland setting, but so too did it bring to life an entire world for those that fell in love with the book all of those years before hand. “Our customers enjoyed being transported into another world,” continues Davies. “People like slipping into different worlds, especially if it is a world that they have known for years, and the Snowman’s world hits all the right nostalgia notes.” And the good thing about creating worlds outside of world’s, says Davies, is that they can always be expanded further still. And so too, can the means in delivering them. “We would always be open to exploring any content outside the world of films,” he says. “Audio books, plays, computer games, or even our own adaptations. If we can create a believable world that evokes emotion, then we have done our job. If we can do that with someone’s IP, then even better.” Part of the Backyard Cinema The Snowman experience was a curated gift shop that was built in as part of the overall experience. It marked yet another first for Dominic and the team who until now had only thought about the excitement of experiential retail. “Experiential retail has always been something that excites me, whether that is learning a skill or really investing your time into a product or brand you love,” he continues. “I am excited for Backyard Cinema to now do more of this. “As for the co-branded merch,” he smiles, “well, it is fun to know thousands of people now have an exclusive Backyard Cinema print of The Snowman in their house, and another few thousand have a co-branded tote shopper bag as well. We have plans to expand our product range this year, so this has been a great forst move in that very exciting direction.” Bringing children’s stories to life from the page and into the real world is a trend that is only gathering momentum. Last year, Coolabi detailed its own partnership with Historic Royal Palaces to bring the world of its hit kids’ book series Beast Quest to life in an immersive experience at Hampton Court Palace. The interactive event was a first for both Coolabi and Historic Royal Palaces, but just another way of bringing this 20 million copy best-selling physical book series to life for its fans. The experience turned the former home of Henry VIII into an adventure filled with phoenixes, dragons, wizards, griffins and characters from the series. “After launching the console game earlier this year, we wanted to produce something new and interactive that would bring families together to experience the Beast Quest magic directly,” said Coolabi’s director of content, Michael Dee. The potential for the worlds created by children’s books are expanding, meanwhile they themselves are colouring the tech that surrounds us with all new shades of time-defying IP that continues to live - and thrive - at retail, in the playroom, or in the toy box of children the world over. These are the stories shaping the youth of today, and something tells us that theirs will be an even more interesting story to follow. January/February 2019 | toy news | 67
Mattel’s Barbie signs movie deal with Warner Bros Margot Robbie has signed on to play the icon, championing the fashion doll as “an empowering role model for children” By Robert Hutchins
arbie will finally be making her big screen debut, with a live-action film now signed between Mattel and Warner. In a first for the brand, the live-action film will star Academy Award-nominated Margot Robbie as Barbie. She will also co-produce the film under the LuckyChap Entertainment Banner. Barbie marks the first announced deal coming out of Mattel’s newly-established Mattel Films, led by Academy Award-nominated producer Robbie Brenner, as well as the first collaboration between Mattel Films and Warner Bros. Pictures. Ynon Kreiz, chairman and CEO of Mattel, said: “Barbie is one of the most iconic franchises in the world and we are excited to partner with Warner Bros. Pictures and
Margot Robbie to bring her to life on the big screen. “We look forward to building on this collaboration with Warner Bros. Pictures as we tell the stories of our beloved brands. Mattel Films is on a path to demonstrate the enormous potential of our brand portfolio, as we continue to execute on our strategy of transforming Mattel into an IP-driven, high performing toy company.” “This project is a great start to our partnership with Ynon and Mattel Films,” said Toby Emmerich, chairman, Warner Bros.
Pictures Group, “and, Margot is the ideal producer and actress to bring Barbie to life on screen in a fresh and relevant way for today’s audiences.” Margot Robbie, added: “Playing with Barbie promotes confidence, curiosity and communication throughout a child’s journey to self-discovery. “Over the brand’s almost 60 years, Barbie has empowered kids to imagine themselves in aspirational roles from a princess to president. I’m so honoured to take on this role and produce a film that I believe will have a tremendously positive impact on children and audiences worldwide. “I can’t imagine better partners than Warner Bros and Mattel to bring this film to the big screen.” It's a coup for the firm who over Christmas relinquished its grasp on Hollywood when Spin Master took its DC license.
China tops world’s licensing growth chart The region has now been highlighted as a significant driver of the global licensing industry, with sales growing by 5.8 per cent to $31.6 billion
hina is topping the world growth chart with a 10.3 per cent increase in sales of licensed product compared to the year prior, according to reports from this month’s Asian Licensing Conference. The conference kicked off on January 7th and ran for two days at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibitions Centre with a series of sessions focused on the fast-growing Asia and mainland China markets. China has now been highlighted as a significant driver of the global licensing industry with sales growing by 5.8 per cent to $31.6 billion and accounting for 11.6 per cent of the world total, it was revealed in a session on the sector’s rapid growth in the region. Shifting economics and global manufac68 | toy news | January/February 2019
turing have created challenges for industry players, with issues such as increasing protectionism and the transition to e-tailing leading many businesses to begin exploring licensing opportunities in a bid to move up the value chain. A plenary session at the Conference, titled Asia: Gold Mine in Licensing, delved into the latest market trends in Asia, analysing the key issues and sharing successful formulas for tapping into the Asia market. Vikram Sharma, vice president, Cartoon Network Enterprises, Turner International Asia Pacific, said that lifestyles in Asia are becoming increasingly digital and use of social media is creating strong licensing opportunities in emerging markets.
“Asia is the land of stories where characters have built strong emotional connections and bonding with regional consumers,” he said. “Moreover, character properties can go beyond licensed consumer products into other sectors, such as licensed location-based entertainments, cafes and exhibitions.” Rounding off the first day was a workshop covering the Legal and Intellectual Property Issues of Licensing, at which legal professionals and experts with experience of the Asian market, and mainland China, shared the IP protection and contractual issues faced in handling the growing number of entertainment, content and digital IPs.
8th Wonder goes quackers for BBC’s Sarah and Duck The deal marks the first wooden toy range for Sarah and Duck and will include wooden dominos, blocks, sound puzzles, a skittles set and a train set
BC Studios has struck a UK deal with 8th Wonder to create wooden and plush toy ranges for the hit CBeebies show Sarah & Duck. Both ranges will launch at retail from spring/summer this year in a deal marking the first wooden toy range for Sarah & Duck. It will include wooden dominos, blocks, sound puzzles, a skittles set and a train set. The range will join those currently being created by 8th Wonder for Hey Duggee and Something Special, both due to hit the shelves later this year. The talking plush toys being created by 8th Wonder for Sarah & Duck will be the first to launch for the brand since 2014. It will signal a step change for the pre-school brand.
Julie Kekwick, senior licensing manager at BBC Studios, said: “We’re excited to be continuing our partnership with 8th Wonder and creating a beautiful range of toys for Sarah & Duck. “The wooden toy range and plush range are fantastic additions to our range of Sarah & Duck toys, and we’re looking forward to launching them later this year”. Gary Tyrer at 8th Wonder Ltd, added: “We are delighted to work with BBC Studios on the classic Sarah & Duck brand,
we feel the licence is a perfect fit for our wooden and plush toys.” Now in its third series, Sarah & Duck continues to be a great performer on CBeebies, growing on its previous series and winning its time-slot for key audiences. Outside of the UK, key broadcasters for the series are NBC Universal Kids in the USA, BesTV and iQiyi in China, ABC in Australia, KIKA in Germany and Disney Channel in Japan. The world of Sarah & Duck can also be seen live on stage in brand new theatrical adventure Sarah & Duck’s Big Top Birthday.
Voice and smart tech is child’s play for global brands The smart tech sector is tipped as a growth area for brands over the coming years as more find routes into homes through personal technology like Amazon Alexa
at in the Hat, Peter Rabbit and SpongeBob SquarePants are among just some of the children’s brands to be embracing the emergence of voice and smart tech this coming year. The sector has been tipped as a growth area for brands over the coming years as more and more they find new routes into the home through the global growth of personal technology. A recent survey conducted by NPR revealed that Amazon Alexa, a leader in voice and smart technology, already boasts some 50,000 skills, is used on some 20,000 devices and already works with around 3,500 brands. Among the companies to be employing voice and smart technology in its collaboration with children’s brands is the storytime tech start-up Novel Effect. Founded by Matt Hammersley, Novel Effect is a leader in voice-driven entertain-
ment that uses voice tech to put users in control of their favourite books, videos and games. The Novel Effect mobile app brings books to life by following along with a story as it is read aloud. Via its voice technology, Novel Effect will play background music, sound effects and character voices at precise moments in the story. The initiative is already working with some big names in children’s literature with titles including Dr Suess’ Cat in the Hat, Llama Llama, The Tales of Peter Rabbit and Where the Wild Things Are in its library.The alignment of smart technology, entertainment brands and child’s play is something now tipped for major growth for the year ahead. The topic was highlighted at the 2019 Alexa Conference. Amazon Alexa is already beginning to make a global impact on the way many live their lives and is looking to strengthen its arm in the play space, too.
This year’s Alexa Conference, held in Chattanooga, Tennessee from January 15th to 17th and presented by VoiceFirst FM, brought together some of the most forward thinking innovators across voice and sound. As the technology looks to find greater use in the toy, game and play arena, Valerie Vacante, founder and managing partner of Collabsco hosted her own discussion of the Power of Voice and the Future of Play where she shared her perspective on the connected play landscape. “It was an honour to be invited to the 2019 Alexa Conference alongside some of the most innovative minds across voice and sound technologies. The power of Voice is transforming ways kids play, learn and create in our ever connected world,” Vacante told ToyNews. In a recent survey conducted by NPR, 73 per cent of smartspeaker owners allowed their kids to use the technology. January/February 2019 | toy news | 69
Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash
Screen grab:Getting your Mic check: message across has never been harder As the children’s ecosystem becomes increasingly complex and fragmented, it has never been harder to get your message heard and listened to. In its new regular slot, Kids Insights explores your many options
very week we see evidence that the children’s media landscape is becoming more fragmented, with almost limitless content and media options available across TV, VOD, social and gaming. In addition to the challenge this presents to marketers, they must also now respond to the countless new trends which are emerging faster and more widely spread than ever before. Every week we are surveying 400 different UK children, which means that our data portal is also being updated with
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150,000 data points. Our information updates in real-time and is readily available to our clients to view, filter and interrogate. With that in mind and for our latest article for ToyNews, we’ve identified some key trends which our data has identified - trends that we’ve seen as they are occurring; in real-time. We are now going to give a reflective view into how these have impacted children’s attitudes, behaviours and consumption, and how your ability to understand your audience and the trends occurring quickly is so critical to ensuring the success of your advertising, content,
licensing, marketing, product and sales strategies as you move through the year. Core subjects Over the last year, we have seen how gaming has become the core of this generation of kids’ ecosystems, with it being the second favourite hobby of boys aged four to nine, behind only football and the seventh favourite hobby of girls aged four to 12 (rising from ninth favourite hobby at the beginning of the year). A recent report shows the video games sector now accounts for more than half
KIDS INSIGHT Kids Insights is the most comprehensive and dynamic market intelligence resource on all things kids, tweens and teens in the UK. Every week we survey 400 kids (from age of four to 18), which is more than 20,000 every year - which enables brands and agencies to provide significant insight into what is influencing the attitudes, behaviour and consumption of this generation of children. For more information on Kids Insights, a sample report and a demo of the Kids Insights award-winning portal visit https://kidsinsights.co.uk/toynews or call the team on 0330 159 6631
of the UK’s entire entertainment market. According to the Entertainment Retailers Association, the industry is worth £3.86bn, more than double its value in 2007 and is now worth more than video and music combined. Gaming is no longer a pastime of the stereotypical gamer either, with many casual gamers now playing, thanks to the popularity of free mobile gaming this year. Our latest data shows seven in 10 four-year olds owning their own tablet and gaming being the second most popular activity a tablet is used for. Looking at the TV market, although traditional (linear) TV is still an important aspect of children’s ecosystems, our data over 2018 has shown how the media
landscape continues to evolve at a significant rate, with younger children now more and more likely each quarter to be watching the likes of Netflix and YouTube over traditional, linear TV. We have seen over the last 12 months how children spend their time also become increasingly fragmented, with TV representing a shrinking proportion of their time. Our latest data shows the number of youngest kids, aged four to six, who are more likely to watch normal (linear) TV over streaming sites such as YouTube and Netflix fall by 40 per cent since the equivalent period last year. Apps, video gaming, video-on-demand and OTT platforms, social media and YouTube are all now taking up a larger share. One exciting element of our portal is how it enables our clients to get behind the data. For example, you can not only find out how many children favour a particular TV channel or social media platform, but you can obtain the data to build a profile of their audience. An example of a growing platform we have been tracking is the streaming website, Twitch. The Amazon owned website focuses largely on live video game streaming and esports broadcasting. The capabilities of our portal mean you don’t just see the breakdown of kids who watch Twitch by age, gender or region –
Tech owned by Twitch users (compared to average)
Photo by Hal Gatewood on Unsplash
but you can take a look behind the data to compare Twitch viewers vs. non-Twitch viewers, or viewers of other platforms – to build an in-depth understanding of your target audience and to identify specifics which are relevant to you. Data crunching Cross-referencing Twitch users with the levels of technology, we can see how this differs significantly from the average. For instance: 76 per cent of children who watch Twitch have a mobile phone, compared to an average of 56 per cent for non-twitch viewers. 56 per cent of Twitch users have a laptop (compared to 36 per cent average). They are more than twice as likely to own either wearable tech or a smart speaker device. This data is completely independent, and because we are surveying more than 20,000 children across a year our data has over 99 per cent statistical significance. This is just one example of the impact of a fragmented media landscape, and without access to Kids Insights, how difficult it is to maximise advertising and media spend. With all this change, how confident are you that your 2019 advertising is going to work? We are proud to count some of the biggest brands and agencies in the industry as clients, providing comprehensive market intelligence to inform their advertising, content, licensing & merchandise, marketing, product and sales strategies. January/February 2019 | toy news | 71
WILL YOU BE TRENDING THIS YEAR? It’s been an exciting and varied year for kids’ content on YouTube these past 12 months with the platform giving rise to some of the industry’s best-selling lines and brands. WildBrain’s Will Mahmood analyses 2018 and looks at what’s tipped to ignite creativity in the year ahead
s we look back at an exciting and varied year for kids’ content on YouTube, this month we round up the top channels, formats and toys on the platform from 2018. It was a year in which the viral sensation Baby Shark went mainstream and a new number one kids’
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creator emerged. It was also the year that YouTube gave creators and networks access to unique viewer data, in addition to consumption metrics, including views and watch time. This allowed brands to truly understand and demonstrate their reach. This past year, we learnt that every quarter, one-third
of the approximately 830 million children globally with YouTube access watch content on the WildBrain network, and rounding up 2018 - by analysing such data - it provides a view on emerging trends for the toy industry to watch for in 2019. A new champion The number one kids’ channel today is a relatively new pre-school music channel rebranded to Cocomelon (from ABC Kids TV). This channel is also the second most-
Best Performing 2018 Content Creators
Monthly YouTube Viewing to LOL Surprise Content
watched YouTube channel of any genre, across all YouTube content. This reflects the extraordinary reach of kids’ YouTube channels generally. In 2018, Ryans Toys Review became the second most-watched YouTube channel after years at the top spot. Viewing in the channel is still colossal. At the time of writing, Ryan Toys Review generated 8.8 billion
views in 2018 alone, 66 per cent more views than the third most-watched channel. Ryans Toys Reviews is technically the most watched toy-focused channel. With his own toy range now on shelves at Walmart, Ryan was recently named by Forbes as the highest earning YouTube star, based on advertising revenues from his channels and branded content deals.
Top 10 Trending Keywords (Growth in Views Share)
A Top Toy 2018 was undeniably the year of the collectable. According to sales data from NPD, LOL Surprise was the number one toy range by sales in the first half of 2018. Marvel came in at second, Star Wars in third, Nerf at four, Barbie in fifth, Hot Wheels at six, Pokémon in seven, PAW Patrol at eight, DC Comics at nine and LEGO City in at the number ten spot. LOL Surprise is a collectable almost designed for YouTube and the YouTube unboxing generation. The multitude of character to discover and the ‘reveal’ nature of the product loans itself to the popular toy-play formats to be found on YouTube. The brand enjoys massive organic exposure on YouTube and to date, 38,000 YouTube channels have created 91,000 videos featuring the LOL Surprise toys. The vast majority of these videos are made entirely for free by fans and creators. A creative year ahead? At WildBrain, we are constantly focused on using data to spot trends and emerging categories. By analysing keywords across all videos with over 100 million views in 2017, and then plotting the growth in their share of views in 2018, we can see what is becoming popular. And for the first time, arts and crafts content appeared at the top of our rankings. Growing from less than one per cent of all kids’ viewing in 2017 to three per cent in 2018, arts and craft content is now collectively three times larger than LOL Surprise, which generates 500 million monthly views or one per cent of monthly kids’ viewing. The top creator in this content category, Jolly Toy Art, has grown by a factor of ten last year alone, from 13 million monthly views in January 2018 to 100 million monthly views in November 2018. This analysis suggests that toy ranges designed to let children explore their creativity through arts and craft, which YouTube creators can feature in instructional videos, may be one of the strongest opportunities for engaging kids on YouTube in 2019. Thanks for reading, WildBrain will be back later this year with a quarterly feature looking at in-depth trends around key seasonal periods. If you’d like to contact us directly with questions, you can find us on Twitter @WildBrainKids or contact@ wildbrain.com. January/February 2018 | toy news | 73
The spruced Spring scene Spring Fair has become the boss of diversification, with up to 20 halls of gifts and gadgets for retailers. It also attracts some 56,000 buyers from across the UK. And as UK retail looks to diversify more and more, that’s a lot of opportunity for the toy business to plug into
or the first time in its history, Hornby will be attending Spring Fair when the show rolls around once again for its February stint in Birmingham’s NEC. In fact, Hornby will be among a raft of upwards of 50 new exhibitors heading to the show this year that will include other first-timers such as the Australian outfit Flat Out Bear and a vast number of others to be occupying the Nursery and Early Years space at the show, too.
The growth of the show in this regards is indicative of a number of factors that are poised to be molding whatever shape the retail space takes over the coming year ahead, by highlighting primarily the key role diversification will have to play. Most of you will know by now that Spring Fair prides itself on its variation. It’s not just toys that deck the halls - of which
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there are now 20 - but gifts of all varieties from homewares to gadgets and beyond. And as such, the show attracts a rather eclectic mix of UK retailers who - more and more - are expanding their own store offerings into the exciting world of toys. “Spring Fair’s unique selling point is that we offer a very broad audience,” Rob Hayes, key account director at Spring Fair tells ToyNews. “If you are at somewhere like Toy Fair in London for example - which I love - they are a core toy event. The strength of Spring Fair is that you have your toy buyers, but also your gift buyers as well. 76 | toy news | January/February 2019
“And what we know from the work that we have been doing is that retailers are looking for newness, diversification and the new thing that will drive footfall into their stores or traffic onto their websites.” Since early last year, there’s been a gap to plug following the collapse of Toy R Us, and Spring Fair is certainly a place to be seeing this in action. The show attracts some 56,000 buyers and retailers making it a “huge, huge show,” with a diversification that is increasingly, getting wider and wider. “The broad overview is, you are looking at the big High Street retailer to the one
shop independent retailer and everything inbetween,” continues Hayes. “But the other thing that is there are the likes of visitor attractions or anything that has a gift shop attached to it. “So if we are talking ‘what are the big names that come to the show, then we are talking brands like Argos, Centre Parks, English Heritage, Hamleys, John Lewis, Merlin Entertainment, The National Trust there is a really broad spread of not just the obvious toy retailers, but those who stock toys as part of their wider offering.” It’s Hayes’ job to grow what Spring Fair calls its tier one business. These are the thousands of visitors that have sole or joint buying responsibility for their stores. Over the past few years, Hayes and the team have seen a steady increase. “Diversification is the true attraction here,” he says. “My job is to try and make the selection more interesting so that visitors can find what is going to help them grow their business. “Toys are a classic impulse purchase… I am a victim of that myself… and I think a
Spring Fair lot of retailers are picking up on that. Those little add-ons that can increase turnover for retailers, and toys fits that bill beautifully.” There’s actually a lot of love for the toy business by the bods in charge of Spring Fair. It was at Autumn Fair last year that the team introduced a new concept called Toys First, a chance for fledgling companies and start-ups to showcase the next steps in innovation for the toy industry at the show. It’s an area that will now be growing for Spring Fair and will be coupled by a Nursery First zone in the Younger Years section of the show. “There is a lot of innovation going on in the toy space at the moment,” explains Hayes. “When we operate in challenging times, it’s often that necessity is the mother of invention and I think actually it is forcing people to think harder and innovate better and tap into the idea that our businesses want newness so they are working hard to accommodate that. “The main thing everyone is talking about is newness. We want Toy First to be a destination area with new suppliers to the industry. For me, that is my next generation of exhibitors, people that we want to help get their first foot on that retail ladder.” Hayes has a keen on the trends in the toy space, too, noting that he expects to see not only plenty of collectables lining Hall 5 at this year’s show running February 3rd to 7th, but also plenty of ethically sourced wooden toys and bioplastics as well. It’s
all part of keeping up with the changing demands of the consumer. To that end, Spring Fair prides itself as a valuable source of information and insight into the retail scene, and while Hayes - in his role at Spring Fair- is more inline with the exhibitors than with the retailers themselves, the show is a font of knowledge n the retail scene via its extensive content programme. “We have a a huge content programme at Spring Fair and this something that our owners ITE Events are committed to and
investing heavily in,” he explains. ‘This year, you have a full programme of content from online retailing right through to merchandising and everything in between. “I would recommend coming anyway to learn about trends, future of retail, also practical things around merchandising and marketing online. Also… Brexit. “There is plenty of content around that as well and keeping up to date with the latest trends and keeping up to date with what is going on in this space.” So, from Hayes’ perspective, what will a successful 2019 look like, at both retail and for the toy industry? It’s a tough question, he admits, but an answer to which everyone is looking for in the same direction. “Nobody wants to see another year like 2018, with Toys R Us going bust, others going bust,” he opines. “What people want to see is more footfall on the high street and more trade in general. “For me, in my world, success looks like happy exhibitors and happy buyers. If people walk out of the show with the business they have done at the show, then I am happy with that. You want to see the retail sector pick back up again. We’d like to see more stability and more ability to forward plan and get back to a growth trajectory. “Retail is a very challenging place to be in at the moment, so our main priority is to help exhibitors meet more of the right buyers so they can grow their business. We always want to grow this aspect.” January/February 2019 | toy news | 77
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STAND: 5G10 - H11
Spring Fair has always had a massive focus on gifts and this year HGL is showcasing a new range of plush toys at very competitive price points. Last year’s unicorn range has been expanded to include Llamacorns and different sizes and colours. A whole menagerie of soft toy creatures have been added. Outdoor toys this year include two new items are which are aimed at the younger kids market. My First Trike and My First Balance Bike are available in two colourways, and the trike has light up wheels . Both products are designed to be sturdy and easy to manoeuvre by little hands. New scooters in the range include the Jungle scooter, a three wheeler for extra stability with a jungle design across the steering column and deck. Meanwhile, dog and cat lovers will love the new Kitty Paw and Puppy Paw scooters, decorated with kitty and puppy designs.
HALL 5 - STAND: 5H28 - J29
Bird watchers will have a field day at Spring Fair when Tobar unveils its new Angry Birds range well in time for the new movie launch in Summer 2019. Built around Red and five other major characters, the Tobar range will include pocket money items such as slime and light up gadgets such as lava lamps and night lights. Six characters will appear in the already popular Jellyball range, large squishy stress toys perfect to calm down anyone who ‘sees Red!’ One of the pocket money stars is bound to be the Squishy Buddies, this cute blind bag collection comprises squishy versions of the Angry Birds characters designed to sit on your phone, desk or computer. 80 | toy news | January/February 2019
HGL had a massive hit with their sell out Unicorn Poo last year. This year, Llama poo, flamingo poo and an old favourite, dog poo (complete with two flies!) will star in a new line up of slime and putty all at pocket money prices. Planet Putty will feature all the planets and Unicorn Horn slime is destined to be another best seller. Putty and slime are just a few of the hundreds of pocket money lines on show. Make sure to drop by the H Grossmans stand to see it all.
Tobar is joining forces yet again with Bburago and Maisto - 2019 will see the Angry Birds license extend to include a new line at differing price points from pocket money upwards, including radio control and a range of construction toys, again packaged in blind bags to entice the consumer collection factor. Look out for the fabulous Slot Car Racing Set. Brand new Jellyballs make their debut appearance. It's a mixture of the popular existing squishy stress ball fruit line combined with animals. Zuru Oosh Cotton Candy Cuties are another collectable winner. Delve into the stretchy foam to find one of six characters, this highly collectable
range will be the focus of a major TV ad campaign supported by mainstream PR. Pocket money toys are the order of the day - Llamacorns are the perfect fusion – a combination of Llama and Unicorn, the two favourite creatures of the moment combined in a great new pocket money range. The existing popular Animigos line is extended to feature the New Born Animigos: baby animal versions of the plush.
JUMBO GAMES There’s nothing puzzling about Jumbo Games’ intentions for 2019 with the release of 60 brand new puzzles for January. Hot on the heels of a successful 2018 performance across its Adult Puzzle portfolio, Jumbo Games is starting 2019 off with new releases across its puzzle brands. Leading the way as the UK’s number one adult puzzle brand, Jumbo Games has released six new puzzles across the popular Original, Destiny and Mystery puzzle concepts. This will include the Wasgij Original 31: Safari Surprise!, Destiny 19: The Puzzlers Arms! and Mystery 16: Birthday Surprise!, all across 1,000-piece formats. Jumbo has re-released the third installments in the Wasgij Retro range, with the titles Original 3: Full Monty Fever!, Destiny 3: The Sands of Time! and Mystery 3: Drama at the Opera! in 1,000-piece formats. The Falcon de Luxe range adds 10 new editions this January, continuing to cover
HALL 5 - STAND K64
the traditional and quintessentially much-loved British themes of Nostalgia, Scenery, Cottages, Animals and Transport, across varying piece counts that are popular with consumers. Key new releases to look out for include; ‘A Summer Evening at the Pub’ 2x500piece, ‘A Day on the River’, ‘Farmer’s Market’ and ‘The Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage’ 1,000-piece and ‘A Beautiful Summer’s Day’ in a fantastic 2x1000 and ‘Your Favourite Shops’ 4x1000-piece box sets.
Adding to its hugely popular own-brand comic style puzzles, Jan van Haasteren, Jumbo has released four brand new puzzles for Spring; including the 500XL-Piece ‘The Kitchen’, the 1,000-piece ‘Camping in the Forest’, ‘Acrobat Circus’ and ‘The Pharmacy’ 1,000-piece puzzles, as well as a 1,500-piece ‘Highland Games’ puzzle.
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PLAYMOBIL 01268 54811 Beloved toymaker, Playmobil will launch a wide range of exciting and innovative new toys at Spring Fair 2019, with new additions promised to its figures, playsets and licensed ranges. Pocket-money favourites Playmo-Friends will see new characters join its popular cast while fans of Playmobil Fi?ures surprise bags will be able to take their pick from 24 fresh designs. Meanwhile, 12 new collectables are available as part of the Special Plus range. Step into a magical fairy world, tending to your very own unicorn with the Sun Fairy with Unicorn Foal. Or energise playtime with the Motocross Rider, complete with full rider’s gear and motocross bike. New additions to the Playmobil universe include the Playmobil City Life Tiny Paws Pet Hotel, furnished with everything your miniature pets could possibly need to ensure a cosy break. For aspiring astronauts, endless galactic adventures are guaranteed during each voyage on the Playmobil Mission to Mars
HALL 5 STAND: 5L53
Space Station. Small world play lovers can create the perfect holiday, time and again, with the Playmobil Family Fun Summer Villa. New licensed Ghostbusters products and a range of playsets featuring beloved characters from the hugely successful Netflix series, DreamWorks Spirit Riding Free, will be showcased. The new DreamWorks Dragons playsets, which will be released to coincide with the launch of the third film in the incredibly successful How to Train Your Dragon franchise, are also on display.
HALL 5 E30-F31
02037 321 876 firstname.lastname@example.org Gibsons is celebrating its centenary at Spring Fair and hosting drinks on its stand from 5pm on Monday February 4th.There will be a special stand design and a chance for customers to win prizes when they place an order over £450. The show will be the first opportunity to view Gibsons’ brand new children’s range, Little Gibsons. The range includes fun and colourful jigsaw puzzles and board games that have been tailor-made for inquisitive pre-schoolers.
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Each product is made from high-quality materials and has its own quirky design. Drift off into a dream world filled with llamas and unicorns with Gibsons’ magical 36 piece puzzle, Sweet Dreams, or explore the great outdoors with their 36 piece puzzle, Camp Gibsons. Every puzzle and game in the range has been designed by a British artist and is presented in an innovative box to make traditional play fun for all ages.
Life-sized Playmobil figures will feature on the stand (Hall 5, Stand 5L53). The ultimate small world play gift, Playmobil allows children to discover the universe in miniature, with sets designed to develop social, motor, cognitive and emotional skills. It's an exciting line-up you don't want to miss this year.
PAUL LAMOND 0207 254 0100 Games and puzzle specialist, Paul Lamond Games is welcoming a number of exciting new additions across its family, children and preschool portfolios for 2019. In a major enhancement to its puzzle range, Paul Lamond announces an exclusive new UK distribution deal with the Educa Borras company. Paul Lamond will introduce a wide range of the high-quality family puzzles, ranging from 500-4000 pieces, all at competitive retail prices and very good margins. For preschoolers there is a colourful new series of 35-piece puzzles and an educational Matching Game in an embossed tin, starring the renowned Oi Frog! Oi Cat! and Oi Dog! characters from the award-winning storybooks. The puzzles and Matching Game feature RAV_TN_Jan19_HalfPage_FINAL.pdf the colourful illustrations and humorous 1 quotes from the hilarious rhyming books
HALL 5 STAND: F10-G11
by Kes Gray and Jim Field. For younger board game players, the new Gangsta Granny ‘Stash the Swag’ board game is just what all fans of The World of David Walliams have been waiting for. “They had until tea time to plan the greatest Jewel theft in History!” but can Granny and Ben avoid the Queen and collect and stash all the ‘jewels’ and be the first to spell out the word Gangsta? A fantastic, easy play board game that encourages strategic thinking. Paul Lamond also welcomes I Spy Eagle Eye to their family games portfolio. It is a 10/12/2018 race to ring 13:47 the bell as players use their eagle eyes to spot an item on their card that
is also on their game board. Also available is a preschool version in which players match riddles with pictures, interlocking pairs ensure only the correct matches are possible. Other exciting new 2019 releases will all be on stand at the show.
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PRETEND TO BEE
HALL: 5 STAND 5KO1
01392 281 927 Pretend to Bee will extend its dress up ranges in 2019 with the addition of new headband accessory sets which will be launched exclusively at Spring Fair and Nuremberg.
for retailers to incorporate dress up and the new ranges can be viewed in full at the show this year. There will also be updates to existing lines next year and the best-selling Postie and Policeman costumes have been revamped with new details added. Pretend to Bee successfully added the baby & toddler costumes to its Natural History Museum range in Autumn/Winter 2018 and this range will be supported by marketing throughout 2019. Thunderbirds are Go! also continues to be one of the company’s most popular collections and new programming will ensure the ranges popularity through 2019 and beyond.
HALL 5 SAND K65
www.bertoy.cm A number of new introductions to ramp up the excitement and Crocodile Creek is expecting 2019 to be another hit year. Two new designs of rubber playground balls are Sloth and Dinosaur, which come in two sizes, five inch and seven inch. Also available in the range is the brand new 72-piece puzzle, Wild Safari. The puzzle features animals in the Savannah. Meanwhile, the Mudpuppy Superhero Secret Picture Puzzle is a 42-piece puzzle featuring animal superheroes and is suitable for ages four and up. When the puzzle is complete, secret pictures can be discovered; the puzzle includes a revealing wand to place over parts of the puzzle and reveal secret images.
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The brand new Pet Headbands are made from high-quality fabrics and allow children to choose their favourite pet to pretend to be. The impulse price point is a great way
Also available are mini puzzles which are pocket sized, with 48 pieces in a tiny box and six different wild animal designs, such as the favourite Red Panda. The Tiger Tribe Pocket Kite is ultra-simple, easy to fly and compact, ideal for parents to teach their children the joy of kite flying. The compact size means the kite can be easily kept in the car, in a child’s bag, in a picnic basket or even in a pocket. The Pocket Kite also makes a great gift, while Tiger Tribe offers a hard cover diary containing 120 full colour, lined pages, with decorative jungle designs on every page.
A special place to write down thoughts, dreams and aspirations, which will be kept perfectly safe — locked up with the included own padlock and keys. The Snails Nails Classic Collection is the first original washable nail polish. No need for nail polish remover, the polish is easily removed with soap and water. The Snails Play range includes smaller bottles, with price points to match.
RUBIES MASQUERADE 08453 070707 With a slew of blockbusters hitting the big screen this year, Rubie’s is gearing up for a big year in the costumed department. The firm is releasing a brand new How To Train Your Dragon 3 costume range including Deluxe Battlesuit Hiccup and Deluxe Battlesuit Astrid, both of which are printed front and back, and feature wings and a snood. The dress-up specialist is also offering Toothless and Light Fury costumes which include glow in the dark wings and accurate dragon masks. It’s tipped to be a popular range this World Book Day and during the run-up to the third and final instalment in the movie franchise, set for release in February. With the first two films also on Netflix, the characters in this popular franchise maintain their popularity year on year.
Mary Poppins Returns is expected to draw families to the cinema in their droves. Rubie’s expects to see the popularity of both its original fancy dress and the new costume increase as the company approaches World Book Day. Rubies has also introduced a Mary Poppins Returns adult costume. Also landing is a range of Transformers costumes to tie in with the Bumblebee Movie, which was released in cinemas on the 26th of December. These padded costumes are available in two characters; the Optimus Flip and Reveal top and mask and the Bumblebee Flip and Reveal top and mask. Both costumes allows kids to transform from truck to robot in one simple movement. Now that's one heck of a party trick.
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To complete the Bumblebee movie range, Rubie’s is also offering a Bumblebee flat-chested jumpsuit which resembles the classic style, including a felt mask with mesh eye holes, while the Deluxe Bumblebee padded-chest jumpsuit offers a more rustic design while still capturing the retro style of the VW Beetle. The jumpsuit comes with a soft mask with mesh eye holes.
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0207 060 4582 Visitors can look forward to a whole host of new arrivals from a growing array of toy categories, including an extension to Marbel’s original Kitchen & Food range which aims to capture a child’s love of food and cooking and satisfies the desire to imitate. New additions include the Pop-Up Shop which includes all the components of a real-life working shop including a calculator to total up children’s shopping, a handheld scanner to read each item and a chalk board for displaying those daily specials. Smaller items for budding chefs include the Hape’s Chef Pack complete with five additional accessories including a measur-
ing spoon set, oven mitt and pot holder. Toddler Toys also gets an upgrade with a number of new additions to help encourage coordination, dexterity and imagination. Providing the opportunity to undertake simple problem-solving tasks in a fun and engaging way, products are based on charming garden characters. The Mr Frog Stacking Ring Set may just look like a traditional stacking set offering a variety of different coloured/textured rings, but the frogs base also works as a wobbler, the head as a maraca and one of
the rings as a musical rattle. Hape will also be unveiling totally new concepts at Spring Fair, such as the Junior Inventor range suitable for kids aged four and upwards.
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JOHNS ADAMS 01480 414 361 ColourMazing is the new patented way to colour and is sure to ignite the creative talent in kids across the UK this year. Kids use the pens and watch the ink spread without going out of the lines. The successful Blopens range welcomes new products at key price points including a Toy Story 4 Easel, Creative Eggs, a special Rainbow Set and Blopens Squeezy, a great starter kit for tiny hands. Meanwhile, Pixelo lets young artists create vibrant, colourful artwork with incredible dotted effects. The line now includes Pixelo Cuties, cute and quirky character sheets to colour in with pastel dots. eZee Beads has added Surprise Bags at pocket money prices; kids can collect and create cute designs with six characters in each series.
With the Eraser Studio range, children can also make their own erasers with mouldable magic clay. With the new Paw Patrol Glowpad, children simply use the neon markers to draw and then switch it on to see the pictures glow and transform. The My Little Pony Glitterizz set lets them personalise pony pictures with colourful glitter. Pre-schoolers can bring their imaginations to life with the Play Stuff range. The range of dough kits
POSH PAWS 01268 567 317 The Posh Paws Winnie the Pooh offering is extensive this year and has something for fans of all ages. The Christopher Robin official movie plush range includes Pooh, Eeyore, Piglet and Tigger in a range of sizes, each styled as per the characters on the big screen. Meanwhile, new to the Posh Paws portfolio and perfect for gifting to loved ones will be a new Love Hearts range of plush. Adorned with classic messages such as ‘Hug me’ and ‘I Love you’, just like the sweets that have inspired the collection, these cuddly hearts make perfect presents for friends and family and are made with the quality Posh Paws is renowned for up and down the country.
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all come with fold-out play areas, which are wipe clean and have illustrated play scenes. The kits pack away with a handy clip and the dough can be stored neatly inside.
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For those looking for gifts inspired by nature, the BBC Earth plush range from Posh Paws offers high quality, super soft stuffed animals available in three sizes; small, medium and large. From elephants to sea turtles and from sharks to tigers, there’s an animal for everyone to collect, whether a gift for an animal lover, or a fan of BBC’s programmes Planet Earth and Blue Planet.
RAINBOW DESIGNS 01329 227 300 Rainbow Designs will be adding over 30 new lines to its classic character portfolio in 2019, including new additions to the Classic Winnie-the-Pooh Hundred Acre Wood collection. There are new arrivals to the whimsical and high-quality range of Disney baby soft toys. Brand new for 2019 is a Jiggle Winnie-the-Pooh, baby soft Booties in a gift box, and a Gift Set featuring a tactile Comfort Blanket and Ring Rattle presented in a beautifully illustrated box. Also new to this charming collection is the Winnie-the-Pooh Cot Mobile, a Classic Winnie-the-Pooh in a Union Jack bag, and the Made with Love Winnie-the-Pooh
20cm toy made from knit fabric to deliver a home-made feel and create a forever keepsake of the beloved bear. Also previewing at Spring Fair, ahead of a second half launch, is the new That’s
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Not My… range of nursery toys. Based on Usborne’s best-selling series of touchyfeely board books, Rainbow’s colourful new collection will feature the best-selling and favourite characters from the picture books; the Kitten, the Puppy, the Bunny and the Monkey, as well as some of the newer literacy characters. The range will include soft toys as well as developmental attachable blankies, which emulate the same touchy-feely features as the book.
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01279 870 000 Hand-painted animals from Farm World and Wild Life, horses and riders from Horse Club, and the ranges of Dinosaurs and Unicorns make Schleich a must have brand for gift buyers at Spring Fair 2019. The world of Wild Life is perfect for zoos and wildlife attractions and has some exotic new species added to the line-up. The Komodo Dragon and the Quokka join the Ring-Tailed Lemur in the 2019 range which also includes the Okapi, the animal that was voted for by Schleich’s fans. For added play appeal, the Schleich Wild Life Flash Cards are a combination of intricate figurine and doublesided cards for a simple game of find and match. For the youngest of collectors, the Farm World is a staple in the toybox and new an-
imals from the pasture and pets found in the farmyard make the perfect small gift purchase for collectors. Ready to play sets are also ideal gifts and this year include the new Puppy Pen Playset; a 12-piece set, with three puppies, their pen and accessories. Added to this are the traditional farm horses which also have new breeds to discover. The world of bayala gained new fans in 2018 from followers of all things unicorn. In 2019 the Moon Unicorn of bayala will be added to the highly decorated collection,
as well as a unicorn foal. Schleich’s Horse club has become a favourite with collectors thanks to its combination of equine figures, characters with their own personalities and plenty of playsets with which to build a whole world based around horses and eventing. January/February 2019 | toy news | 87
RAVENSBURGER 01869 363 830 GraviTrax is developing into a standalone category, and the company will launch eight new items in autumn/winter 2019 for fans of the range. The company’s multi-award-winning Peppa Pig range has more products in the pipeline for autumn/winter 2019 and this year will also see new designs for Thomas & Friends, PJ Masks, Bing Bunny and Disney, plus movie products for How to Train your Dragon 3, Secret Life of Pets 2, Toy Story 4 and the much-anticipated Frozen 2. Ravensburger also welcomes Harry Potter, Fantastic Beasts, Spirit, Rusty Rivets, That’s Not My…, Enchantimals, Top Wing and School of Roars to its collection of the UK’s most popular licences. Adult puzzles show growth of 19 per cent YTD, reflecting the company’s continued commitment to UK specific development and its selection of the best international
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images. Ravensburger’s 80 new titles for 2019 reflect British consumer tastes and, importantly, deliver fresh ideas and themes to attract new consumers into the puzzle market. 3D Puzzle remains an important category, and Ravensburger will drive growth with new TV spots and digital content. Key products are vehicles (the Porsche 911 and the Harry Potter Night Bus), iconic landmarks with lights, stylish storage sneakers and licensed balls in various formats and licences, including Frozen 2 and Harry Potter designs. The company’s games have enjoyed a positive year, with over 29 per cent growth and similar growth planned for 2019, supported by a heavyweight TV-focused media spend. Disney Villainous, Harry Potter Labyrinth, Harry Potter Pictopia and Break
Free are among the key items available now, and Ravensburger has more major launches planned for autumn/winter 2019. Finally, Brio will launch 15 new, innovative products for spring/summer 19, with more new additions arriving in. It's going to be a busy year for Ravensburger with plenty of TV suport around ranges destined to be big hitters at retail this year.
PYRAMID INTERNATIONAL HALL 5 STAND J71-J66 0116 284 3645 Pyramid International is making its return to Spring Fair this year, where as as always, the company is presented with the excellent opportunity to meets its cusomters and showcase some of its exciting portfolio of new licenses and product ranges. One of these new licences is the popular Netflix series Stranger Things. It launched in September last year, and already Pyramid is thrilled to now be able to present a growing range that includes a doormat, stationery items as well as heat change and metallic finished mugs. These will sit alongside a range of UK produced everyday mugs, posters and wall art, resulting in an attractive retail prospect
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that reflects the broad appeal of the show. It has also developed new collections for the popular Harry Potter franchise. The refreshed range includes debossed, foil Premium Notebooks for each of the famous houses, an espresso set inspired by potion bottles and a magical glow in the dark Patronus mug. It is also gearing up for a busy 2019 theatrical slate with movies such as How to Train your Dragon: The Hidden World, Captain Marvel and Shazam on the way for early Q1.
THE PUPPET COMPANY
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01462 446 040 Wilberry, Dino Heads and a cast of superhero puppets will all adorn the Puppet Company's stand at Spring Fair this year. The Puppet Comany's Story Tellers has 13 distinct characters and many more in the pipeline. The range includes Super Heroes, a Wizard, Witch, King, Queen, Princess, Fairy and Prince which allow imaginations to run wild. Retailing at a friendly ÂŁ9.99 price point, the extensive detail makes the toys an attractive purchase for customers. Dino Heads next and the firm feels it has the perfect line up for the year ahead. There are three designs in the range including the fan favourite Jurassic creatures. The Puppet Company also has new introductions to the ever-popular Long Sleeve, Finger Puppet, My First Puppet, Full-Bodied and Car Pet ranges. Each new addition
enhances the range and is consistent in the quality and attention to detail that the company is renowned for. The eagerly anticipated new Wilberry Dancer and Dolls additions will be on show, along with new Linens, Knitted, Snuggles and Woollies, while the Wilberry Robots are also expected to be hot items for spring/summer 2019. The recent launch of the Super Heroes range has been extremely well received, and this success is anticipated to continue into 2019.
HTI GROUP 01253 778 888 Expectations are high for HTI's latest addition to its Teamsterz brand that having showcased in Nuremberg will now benefit from a large consumer launch in the UK, followed by a raft of activities in local territories. Expect investment into the Teamsterz brand that will result in a new line of Mighty Movers - a range of vehicles that features movement, light and sound and includes JCBs, fire trucks, police cars and more. HTIâ€™s core line of vehicles and garages will have an increased presence thanks to new additions and range extensions with new vehicles, track sets and transporters along with a newly dual-branded Teamsterz and JCB construction range.
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HTI will also offer other new product lines, including additions to the ever-popular battery-operated ride-ons under the Teamsterz and Evo brands. Additionally, prams and pushchairs will be a huge focus for the business, with new launches for Baby Born, Baby Annabell and Joie, including a new 6-in-1 evolve system which creates endless role-play opportunities for children. HTI looks to be quite the busy lot this year with all of this, plus more to check out by visiting the stand in Hall 5 this Spring Fair for the complete run-through.
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THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING ERNST
As the CEO of Spielwarenmesse, Ernst Kick certainly knows a thing or two about playing in the big league. This year, the show is celebrating its 70th anniversary, and has Kick laid on a special thing or two to celebrate the milestone year of Nuremberg’s biggest annual event or what? ToyNews talks to Europe’s toy trade fair king to find out more
t’s been 70 years since Spielwarenmesse first took over the Bavarian city of Nuremberg and over the course of those seven decades, it has steadily become Europe’s largest toy trade fair. After spending the best part of a century plying the international toy trade with the latest launches and most innovative products across the global toy industry, Spielwarenmesse has now decided that 2019 will mark the year for some definitive changes to the structure. Now fret not, those of you who have grown accustomed to or even, dare we suggest, an affinity with - the usual helpings of Bratwurst und bier or schnitzel und kartoffelnsalat, some traditions truly will never die. No, there’s to be no changes to the menu, as far as we have been told. Instead, the team at Spielwarenmesse are looking to make your show experience itself, all the sleeker. For a show hosting around 2,800 companies from all over the world, presenting one million products and 120,000 new innovations and opening its doors to more than 71,000 trade visitors from 129 countries - a smooth operation is certainly most desirable. Ernst Kick, CEO of Spielwarenmesse, a title that comes with the great responsibility of ensuring a once again sleek show for all attending, has talked us through the new layout. Firstly, under the new product group Model Railways and Model Construction, the show is bringing the two segments together in Hall 7A. Following this is the creation of a new product group - Electronic Toys - which will be making its debut in Hall 4A. Then, of course, the product group Festive Articles, Carnival and Fireworks, is being given its own activity area at the show known as
Showtime. The expansion of this group will spill into part of Hall 8. “All of these steps are necessary if we are to reflect the way in which the toy market is evolving,” Kick tells ToyNews. “By initiating these changes, we are not striving to set new records, because it is quality that is most important to us.”
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Such is the emphasis on quality over quantity at Spielwarenmesse, the changes visitors will find at this year’s show are all the direct result of the needs and wants of the retailers and buyers themselves. It is they, Kick suggests, who remain at the centre of the show. “[These areas] create new ideas and sources of inspiration for them,” continues Kick. “For example, the special area Toys meet Books, specifically targets book sellers looking for ways to expand their product ranges to attract more footfall. “Quality is a given on this front. In 2018, we welcomed 71,000 trade visitors from 129 countries. The majority of which are international trade buyers with decision-making powers. The visitor breakdown shows that we attract a large proportion of independent and specialist retailers as well as wholesalers and importers and exporters.” Spielwarenmesse, while a five day show, this year running from January 30th to February 3rd, extends far beyond its weeklong set-up in Nuremberg. In his role as the show’s organiser, Kick in fact, oversees an ‘extensive range of services’ that run yearround, keeping not only the essence of the show alive, but the international industry up to date on latest developments. “Even when the fair isn’t open, we supply attendees with our extensive services all year round, with the latest industry topics and news on our website, our app and in our own magazine Spirit of Play, enabling them to prepare their time in Nuremberg both thoroughly and well in advance,” explains Kick. During the event itself, Spielwarenmesse hosts the Toy Business Forum in Hall 3A. It’s become known as the central hub of knowledge for the trade. “”Besides the highly popular toy trends, the programme of expert talks will focus, among others, on approaches to customer retention in the age of online trade and digitisation, while the LicenseTalks constitute a new feature, taking place every morning from Wednesday to Friday,” he adds. While Ernst Kick would and does argue that every year, the Spielwarenmesse offers
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a number of must-see features, this year promises a truly enviable programme of Special Areas. Among them is the ToyFestival, marking the show’s 70th anniversary with a special event on the Thursday evening. “All attendees are invited, giving us the
opportunity to thank participants for their loyalty which in many cases extends over several decades,” says Kick. “This relaxed get together with musical entertainment and delicious catering brings together long-standing business partners as well as newcomers to the industry.
“For the past 70 years, the Spielwarenmesse has been the most important date in the industry’s calendar of events. Every year, the entire toy world comes together in Nuremberg. Attendees from home and abroad appreciate the fact that the whole industry is gathered in one location and all the
major players are among our exhibitors.” Actually, 31 per cent of the show’s exhibitors appear only at the Spielwarenemsse and at no other event, while there’s a diversity in product and a market overview that goes unrivalled on international grounds. “All of this illustrates Spielwarenmesse’s
special standing as the industry’s most important platform for doing business, placing orders and networking,” concludes the show's CEO. And it’s one hell of a good show to uncover a new appreciation for pickled potatoes, too.
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Science is an area of growth for Galt with both science categories, Explore and Discover and Horrible Science benefitting from the resurgence of interest in STEM Products over recent months and years. To keep this momentum going for 2019, there are eight new science products including a new compact boxed range of Explore and Discover – Bubble Lab, Dino Lab, Kitchen Lab and Slimy Lab. At £6.99 each, these products boast experiments and lab booklets. A unique selling point of these products is that they combine proper science for the very young age of five and upwards. Each of the kits are compatible with the national curriculum. Meanwhile, Horrible Science has new products such as Perilous Planes at £6.99 for ages six plus which features a glider launch, parachute tests and a helicopter rotor, and the Chaotic Kitchen Experiments at £17.99 for ages eight plus. Experiments include powering a clock with a potato and fishing for frozen cockroaches… Galt is known for its Playnest line and 2019 sees the introduction of a new licenced Playnest – The Very Hungry Caterpillar priced at £39.99 for all ages from birth. This new addition includes a variety of features for babies and young children to explore including a crinkle leaf, furry patches on the caterpillar and a mirror. There is a new Activity Ball in our First Years category at RRP £15.99 for ages six months plus. This is a fabric covered inflatable ball decorated with butterflies, flowers and bees, ideal for days out and fully machine washable. The popular Follow Me Ball at RRP £15.99 for ages from six months is being relaunched with an easy to use external switch. This colour changing motorised ball is simplicity itself to assemble and operate. Elsewhere and Ambi Toys, the retro primary coloured range of pre-school plastic toys, introduces Tick Tock Clock, a friendly
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clock for a child’s early years. This is a great toy to delight a child and to use for telling the time. For many years Activity Packs have been the entry level price point for the Galt craft and activity categories. At £5.99, and for ages from five plus there is Clay Cars which makes two animal cars using colourful air drying clay, and Cute Lockets, which makes keepsake lockets with animal sequins and charms. For ages six plus, there is a makeup kit with everything from eyeshadow to stick on gems. One of Galt’s heritage brands is marble construction. In 2019 the firm is launching a new construction set using the ever popular Galt Marble Run. Marble Run Reaction at RRP £24.99 and for ages four to adult is an 80-piece set with a whole suite of reaction causing effects including a starter top, vortex, ramp, rope swing and
drum base as a well as a domino track for hours of fun. In puzzles, this year Galt has a new Giant Floor Puzzle at RRP £11.99 for ages three to six. The puzzle is made from large, easy to handle pieces in thick board with a wipe clean surface for durability. It includes eight template pieces which are in the shape of rides and attractions. There is also a new four puzzles in a box Jungle with brightly coloured images of elephants, lions and giraffe. Play and learn is the category at the heart of Galt and this year the team has a new introduction – the Cosmic Coding game. The board game is designed to introduce children to coding and has been designed to fit in with key stage one of the National Curriculum. It features plastic rocket pieces and movement, mission and star cards. For ages six plus at RRP £12.99. Galt is also introducing a new Magnetic Letters set of 80 brightly coloured letters for use on any magnetic surface such as a fridge. Each Galt Magnetic letter has been designed following the correct lettering used to teach early handwriting skills. This set is ideal for ages three plus and has an RRP of £8.99. Galt is all about getting creative and the Creative Cases range sees four new additions for ages six plus priced from RRP £9.99 to RRP £12.99 French Knitting, Animal Pottery, Hair Studios and Sparkle Body Art are fully comprehensive kits with easy to use tools and clear guides, everything needed to have fun and make something. Galt looks forward to welcoming visitors at Hong Kong on stand 1B – C37, Olympia on stand E9, at Nuremberg on stand E51 – F50 and at New York on stand 6057.
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0208 661 8866|www.gibsons.co.uk| firstname.lastname@example.org Gibsons will be returning to the Nuremberg International Toy Fair this year and the team has invited all to come visit its stand in Hall 12 to say hello and to view its exciting new array of jigsaw puzzles and games. In fact, Gibsons will be hosting drinks on its stand from 5pm on Wednesday, February 2nd to mark its centenary year of trading as a family business in 2019. The team has welcomed everyone to help them celebrate this significant occasion. The show will be one of the first opportunities to view Gibsons’ new fast and frantic dice game Zonkers. The aim of the game is to match your dice with the dice graphics on the cards. When the cards are filled with dice or when a player places their last die, the round ends and the player with the most dice on a card wins. Unused dice are worthless and when the deck of cards runs out, the player who has collected the most cards is the winner. In addition, Gibsons will be adding 50 new jigsaw puzzles to its range in January. Among these will be Cream Tea & Queuing, a 1000-piece puzzle designed by Val Goldfinch featuring an illustrated collection of British historical landmarks, quirks and idiosyn-
crasies. Like all Gibsons’ puzzles, they are made from the highest quality recycled board, making them a pleasure to work with again and again.
PRETEND TO BEE 0115 984 7838 Pretend to Bee will extend its dress-up ranges in 2019 with the addition of new headband accessory sets which will be launched exclusively at Nuremberg’s Spielwarenmesse and Birmingham’s Spring Fair this year. The brand new Pet Headbands are made from high-quality fabrics and allow children to choose their favourite pet to pretend to be. The impulse price point is a great way for retailers to incorporate dress-up in their shop offering and the
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new ranges can be viewed in full at the show. There will also be updates to existing lines next year and the best-selling Postie and Policeman costumes have been revamped with new details added. Pretend to Bee successfully added the baby and toddler costumes to its Natural History Museum range in Autumn/ Winter 2018 and this range will be supported by marketing throughout 2019. Thunderbirds Are Go! Also continues to be one of the company’s most popular collections and new programming will ensure the popularity of the ranges through 2019 and beyond.
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01628 500 000 60 years since Barbie’s introduction, the icon continues to inspire the limitless potential in every girl. In 2019 Barbie will be spotlighting the “Dream Gap”- the critical time between the ages of five and seven, where girls start to believe they are less brilliant than boys. To combat this, Barbie represents a broader view of society for the next generation of girls by showcasing over 200 careers and counting, highlighting role models and by introducing the most diverse and empowering dolls on the market. In 2019 Hot Wheels celebrates its ability to ignite and nurture the challenger spirit that lives within every kid. Bringing to life the brand ethos ‘Challenge Accepted’, Hot Wheels will excite through marketing campaigns that engage boys through digital and real-life experiences. Driving the excitement in SS19, Hot Wheels introduces a new segment with Hot Wheels Monster Trucks; Go big, Go Hot Wheels. Polly Pocket is back, and the retro icon is reimagined for a new generation introduc-
ing new product, new content, and a new ethos that ‘Tiny is Mighty.’ Enchantimals, an adorable animal-themed girl’s property celebrates caring and compassion towards all living things. Mattel is proud to offer a dynamic portfolio of own brands Scrabble, Uno, Break Out Beasts and Lil’ Gleemerz, and partner brands with new excitement in 2019 with the likes of Disney Pixar’s Toy Story 4, 101 Dalmatian Street, Disney Pixar’s Cars, DC’S Shazam, DC’s Batman, Jurassic World, WWE and Shimmer & Shine. Fisher-Price continues to support parents in 2019, with products suited for all ages and stages, plus help and advice to support mum on her parental journey. New in Babygear is the Sit-Me-Up Floor Seat, while the Rainforest range continues to remain a key focus. Newborn introduces the new Hug & Play Tummy Wedge, plus the Coffee Cup Teether while new for Infant is the Sit-toCrawl Learning Fox, Silly Sounds Piano and the Busy Learning Tool Bench. Offerings
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02037 321 876 Finding a well-made toy that promotes a positive message about femininity in an intelligent way is a challenge many with children face today, It was a problem faced by Frances Cain, founder of A Girl for All Time, as her own daughter grew older and lost interest in the toys of her childhood. Facing the challenge of finding products that were age appropriate and turning to a new creative endeavour, Cain created the
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brand we see her in Nuremberg’s Spielwarenmesse this year. A Girl for All Time is a world of crafted dolls, exciting novels and keepsake books that allow children aged seven and upwards to explore a world of creative play. The range currently features two lines of characters in Your Historical Girl and Your Modern Girl and all will be on display at the show this year.
from Preschool include the Little People Helpful Neighbour’s Garage. Following a noisy year for Thomas & Friends in 2018 with the evolution of the content, 2019 will see a continued communication of the exciting changes, positioning Thomas as a trusted friend for adventure and discovery, while introducing kids to the bigger world around them. This will be supported with a strong product range across the Trackmaster, MINIS, Wood and My First ranges. Key products include the TrackMaster Dragon Escape Set which is based on a special episode where Thomas travels to China. Meanwhile, new TrackMaster engines include Monkey Mission Thomas, Animal Adventure Percy, and a new female engine joining the Steam Team called Rebecca.
02033 763 223 Funko is exhibiting at Nuremberg’s Spielwarenmesse again this year, armed with a monumental selection of its highly sought-after and show-stopping collectables from a wide range of licenses. From Marvel to DC, Fortnite to Disney, Star Wars, and Rick & Morty – Funko is the number one pop culture destination for your Toy Fair visit. The company will also be bringing along Loungefly – its bags, wallets and accessories’ brand as well as their gorgeous homewares’ collections. Fortnite is at the forefront of everyone’s minds right now – the hit online multi-player game has taken the younger generation by storm, and with a large range of character skins to choose from, the license is a perfect fit for the Funko brand. Its Pop! Vinyl line was the first licensed Fortnite toy product to hit the market in EMEA, with a multitude of popular skins available in the first wave including Brite
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Bomber, Cuddle Team Leader, Omega and Skull Trooper. They’ve since launched a second Pop! Vinyl wave including Tricera Ops, Ragnarok, Drift and Zoey, as well as further figural products including Pocket Pop! Keychains, Pint Size Hero 2-packs, Vynl and 5 Star – the newest collectable to join their roster. Funko will also be bringing along brand new products from some of the hottest licenses in the pop culture sphere – keep your eyes peeled for exciting new range launches happening at the show. From Captain Marvel to Aquaman, and Star Wars to Premier League Football – they really do have something to suit all tastes. The homewares and gifting collection is rapidly expanding too – and the brand will be showcasing its newest collections hitting the market in 2019. As well as its existing Mickey Retro range, celebrating the 90th birthday of the world’s most famous mouse and its entertaining Rick &
Morty line, Funko will be exhibiting brand new collections from The Little Mermaid (to celebrate the films Pearl Anniversary), Toy Story, Genie (Aladdin), alongside new additions to their Nightmare Before Christmas range. Featuring products such as mugs, chopping boards, aprons, mason jars and bottle openers – the homewares and gifting collection is the perfect gift for all pop culture lovers. Finally, Funko will be showcasing the very best of its Loungefly products – a lifestyle brand featuring bags, purses and accessories from licenses including Disney, Overwatch, Star Wars and Marvel. Fashion-conscious fans will love this premium brand, featuring high-quality materials, eye-catching designs and great attention to detail. Funko will also be unveiling its brand new Pop! & Tee collection featuring stylised t-shirts with an accompanying Pop! Vinyl figure.
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01392 281 927 TOMY is heading back to Nuremberg Toy Fair in 2019 to showcase its strongest lineup of toys and games to date. Visitors will have a preview of new releases in core brands Britains, Lamaze, Aquadoodle and TOMY Toomies and a first-look at new brand launches Ritzy Rollerz - the fun wheels brand for girls and licensed brand Ricky Zoom which will launch alongside the new comedy action show on eOne. 2019 will be a game-changing year for TOMY. After the announcement of TOMY’s new partnership with Britain’s No.1 games brand Drummond Park, TOMY will unveil a new range of games for all ages at Nuremberg Toy Fair. This partnership will re-establish TOMY’s dominant position in the Games sector, with best-selling lines Articulate and Pop Up Pirate to be showcased alongside new releases.
Looking to the Nursery and Preschool sector, TOMY will continue to build upon the success of 2018 after a strong TV advertising campaign in the lead up to Christmas delivered over 1,000 TVRs and created a subsequent sales uplift for its brands. TOMY will be exhibiting a number of new releases from core brands Lamaze, Aquadoodle and TOMY Toomies that are perfect for every developmental milestone of a child. Toomies new product line – Parade Pals – will also be on show. The new range will allow toddlers to learn new animal sounds and songs as they mix and match characters and hear them magically harmonise. In vehicles, with over 100 years’ experience in agricultural toys and collectibles Britains will retain its prominent position in the replica models’ sector, with new releases for 2019 including a new Slurry Silver Tanker (Fieldside) from NC Engineering and new license FENDT 828 Vario
PLAYMOBIL 01926 776900 Beloved toymaker, Playmobil will launch a wide range of exciting and innovative new toys at Nuremberg, with new additions promised to its figures, playsets and licensed ranges. Pocket-money favourites Playmo-Friends will see new characters join its popular cast while fans of Playmobil Fi?ures surprise bags can take their pick from 24 fresh designs. 12 new collectables are available as part of the Special Plus range. Step into a magical fairy world, tending to your very own unicorn with the Sun Fairy with Unicorn Foal, or energise playtime with the Motocross Rider, complete with full rider’s gear. New additions to the Playmobil universe include the Playmobil City Life Tiny Paws Pet Hotel, furnished with everything your
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Tractor and Vicon FastBale set to launch. Furthermore, TOMY will be launching the innovative new girls brand Adorbs that is set to be an entry point solution to the world of dress up that will appeal to both girls and parents. With exciting new innovations, strong partnerships and brand developments that deliver to customer needs, 2019 is set to be a game-changing year for TOMY.
STAND: HALL 12.2 miniature pets could possibly need to ensure a cosy break. For aspiring astronauts, endless galactic adventures are guaranteed during each voyage on the Playmobil Mission to Mars Space Station. Small world play lovers can create the perfect holiday with the Playmobil Family Fun Summer Villa. New licensed Ghostbusters products and a range of playsets featuring characters from the successful Netflix series, DreamWorks Spirit Riding Free, will be showcased. The playsets will be released to coincide with the launch of the third film in the How to Train Your Dragon franchise. Plamobil allows kids to discover the universe in miniature and develop social, motor, cognitive and emotional skills.
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01494 538 999 Green Board Games is supporting pre-school buyers this year with a selection of new illustrated products to promote fun learning and early development. The Foot Steps range was created for children up to three years of age, and the Leaps & Bounds range targets children aged three or over. The Foot Steps Stacking Cubes offer five ways to stack and learn, while Green Board Games will be presenting four new games additions to the Leaps and Bounds range. Miximals is an entertaining game that encourages children to mix and match head, body and tail animal pieces; Match-a-Rhyme is a matching game that provides sing-along fun; Mucky Pups gets children to pick their pup and race to clean them up; and Story Scenes encourages children to create engaging stories
using the characters and scenes provided. Mad Moose, Green Board Games’ new range of fun family games, has been developed for children aged five and over. Visitors to the stand in Nuremberg can see a selection of new Mad Moose titles on the shelves including Alpha Chase, the winning game from the company’s 2017 Young Games Inventor competition. The animal-themed titles - Monkey Mischief and Noah’s Ark - should really appeal this fair. Retailers can expect new introductions from the award-winning BrainBox range including two new BrainBox titles. World Traveller is for children aged six and above, while Time Traveller targets those aged seven or older. In addition, six new licensed Disney and Roald Dahl BrainBox games will be available to purchase in the UK.
HALL 12 STAND H-04 01604 401 719 Zuru is flying into Nuremberg with plenty for fans to find this January, and it all kicks off with Cotton Candy Cuties, from Zuru Oosh. Available in four scents, this cotton candy slime also comes with a surprise slow-rise collectible character hiding inside. Combining collectability with the ongoing slime and compound trend on YouTube, Cotton Candy Cuties includes six characters to collect including Caramel Pudding and Unicorn. Kids can also add to their compound collection with Cotton Candy refill pops. The launch will be supported by a full 360-degree marketing campaign, kicking off with PR and YouTube influencers followed by TV, social, POS and PR outreach.
A new wave of 5 Surprise blind collectible capsules will hit the UK market from February. There will be over 100 new surprise toys to collect in new colour combinations, plus super rare chasers to further increase collectability and drive purchases. Zuru’s innovative 5 Surprise capsule opens into five pieces to deliver five surprise unboxing experiences, tapping into the pocket money, unboxing and playground trends. The assortment of toys vary from stationery, collectible dolls and sequin accessories in the pink capsule, to slime, suckers, and LED lightups in the blue capsule. An updated packaging and POS design clearly communicates the unboxing experience and on-trend new toys, while bringing a refreshed consumer experience.
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01279 870 000 Gazillion Bubbles is floating onto the scne this year and leading the way in creating premium bubble products. With an extensive array of premium bubble solution, bubble toys and machines, Gazillion has something for every young bubble fan. For 2019 the Gazillion range will be expanding with bubble blasters and machine ranges. Funrise is also introducing Gazillion Bubble Rush. With its revolutionary design, this high-powered bubble machine blows the most bubbles ever. This next generation bubble machine has a three-section no-spill modular design, including a removable washable top and a solution recycling tray, while the batteries and motor are sealed inside the base. Kids can simply pour solution into the reservoir and push the button for a bubble explosion
within seconds. This item was designed to create hours of fun for kids, but be easy to clean for parents. Also new for 2019 from Funrise is a master toy range based around Paramount’s Easter movie launch, Wonder Park. Funrise has created a collection of play sets, figures and plush depicting characters from the movie. At the heart of the range are the Wonder Chimps, which will be available in blind bag collectibles, wind-up and scented plush forms.
SCHLEICH 01908 555 640 Galloping into Toy Fair season, a major focus for Schleich this year will be the Horse Club and a parade of new mares and stallions will be featuring heavily among it. New figures will feature highly detailed manes and tails, while matching accessories ensure they’ll be best in show. The eagerly awaited Rider Café will launch in summer, offering the perfect meeting place for the Horse Club Friends. Monsters of a mythical kind will also be top of the agenda as the fight for the Superweapon of Eldrador Creatures continues. Each of the lands - Lava, Ice, Stone and Water - will have a new figure join the battle, including the Fire Bull and Ice Spider. For younger collectors, new animals from the pasture, plus pets that would be found in the farmyard, join the Farm World
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collection. Major play sets will include a horse stable play set complete with large horse breed figures, as well as all the trappings that a working stable requires. Finally, learning and discovering are literally on the cards with the Schleich Wild Life Flash Card Sets. This combination of double sided flash cards and detailed figurines adds even more possibilities to play-
time for animal fans. The entire Schleich portfolio will be supported by a substantial PR and marketing campaign for 2019. There's all this and more to find out from Schleich when you pay them a visit at this year's Nuremberg Toy Fair. It's looking to be a big year ahead for the firm, as it continues to invest in its marketing and in-store theatre.
ASMODEE UK 01420 593 593 The entire Asmodee entourage is heading to Nuremberg’s Spielwarenmesse this year, from the UK team, to the German and even Shanghai, and this year the outfit is bringing some exciting new additions to the fold. The new titles will be ready to bolster an already extensive line-up of games, collectables and toys that make them a must-visit for show attendees. One of the highlights of the Asmodee stand will be the introduction of a dedicated Party Games range. This brand-new roster of hilarious, casual games that excel with larger groups is guaranteed to get friends and families laughing together with simple and accessible rules. Headlining the Party Games collection is Telestrations, which is a new addition to the Asmodee catalogue for 2019. Players must sketch out a word from a secret card, then pass their drawing to their neighbour who writes down what they think the word was, before that word is passed along again for another drawing and so on. Watching a word get distorted round by round is a sure fire way to get the whole table in stitches. Telestrations is joined in the range by the creative word-association game Just One, plus the clues and mimes of Time’s Up (in a fresh new edition focused on the UK market) and riotous dexterity-based fun of Crazy Eggz and Maki Stack. There will be a big presence from the Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG) at the Asmodee stand, as befits the continuing success of this powerhouse collectible. Excitement around the brand is sure to skyrocket in 2019 with the upcoming release of its first-ever live-action movie, Pokémon: Detective Pikachu, after the film’s first trailer was met with high praise in November. The TCG itself will be attracting attention with a new Tag Team mechanic, which pairs up two iconic Pokémon on one card.
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Toy Fair also offers the chance to try out Dice Academy, a new entry into Asmodee’s successful range of Fun Fast Games. This highly portable game of speedy association sees players roll dice that show both a category and a letter, and then compete to name things of those categories that start with the designated letters. This brain-teasing game is a natural fit with Fun Fast Games, a range which comprises the best of Asmodee’s quick-playing, demonstration-friendly titles. Dobble is a key part of the Fun Fast Games collection and the game of matching symbols is expanding its range after a stellar year. A signature product for Asmodee, Dobble sold its millionth copy in the UK in 2018 and stands as the year’s single biggest-selling game. Visitors to the Asmodee stand will be able to preview multiple new versions of the game. Also included in Fun Fast Games are the likes of Rory’s Story Cubes, Who Did It?, Cobra Paw and the ever-popular Bananagrams, which has enjoyed a strong first year under the Asmodee UK umbrella. The hit game of using letter tiles to build connected grids of words is gearing up for
a relaunched version of its successful partnership with schools. Over 1600 schools currently participate in the Bananagrams Challenge, which translates to over 40,000 students playing the game and having fun while developing their vocabulary and problem-solving skills. Asmodee will also be displaying their Modern Classics collection, which highlights bigger-box board games that have played a huge part in the extraordinary growth of the tabletop gaming market in recent years. Great for getting families sitting around a table together, these titles offer a variety of gameplay styles that hint at the incredible range of products available in modern board gaming, while all being accessible for anyone. The Modern Classics range includes Catan, the millions-selling game of trading and expansion on a fertile island, plus the railway-building Ticket to Ride and the medieval tile-laying of Carcassonne. Also featured is Dixit, the clever gem-trading action of Splendor and Pandemic, the pioneering cooperative game that sees all players working together to fight the spread of deadly diseases.
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IMC TOYS 01904 720 908 IMC's Cry Babies, th dolls that cry real tears, have enjoyed huge success since launch, with the brand securing a leading position in the special-feature nurturing doll category. Next year will see the introduction of three new Cry Babies characters - Fancy, Pandy and Gigi - which will grow the brand and expand the range offering. In 2018, Cry Babies enhanced its popularity with the launch of Cry Babies Magic Tears. The new surprise collectibles are miniature versions of the Cry Babies dolls, come with numerous accessories and are able to cry real tears. The range is supported with a new animated series available to view on YouTube, Amazon Prime and Ketchup TV, and via the dedicated new website (www.magictears.toys). New episodes are released fortnightly, with views already over 8m. Cry Babies
HALL 12.2, STAND P-26 Magic Tears will grow further in 2019, with new dolls and play sets to collect. Bloopies launched with very strong sales, quickly becoming a best-selling bath toy and is now joined by Bloopies Mermaids. These mermaids squirt water out of their mouths when their bellies are pressed, and they can even blow bubbles when played with in a bubble bath. Submerging them in warm bath water will cause the pattern on their tail to change colour. There are six Bloopies Mermaids to collect, and Bloopies Divers are also available. IMC has also revealed plans for new additions to its feature plush range, Club Petz, in 2019. These new lines will join the successful launches in autumn/winter 2018, which included Your Real Kissing Bowie, Mystery Mao and Dancing PeeWee. The Baby Wow brand, a market leader in the feature doll category, launched a new
RAINBOW DESIGNS 01329 227 300 Brand new and joining Rainbow’s toy portfolio in 2019 is the Spot collection, launching just ahead of Spot’s 40th anniversary in 2020. Rainbow’s new range will include classic Spot soft toys as well as developmental lines. Also launching in 2019 is the new That’s Not My… range of nursery toys. Based on Usborne’s best-selling series of touchy-feely board books for babies and pre-schoolers, Rainbow’s colourful new collection will feature favourite characters from the popular picture books - the Kitten, the Puppy, the Bunny and the Monkey as well as some of the newer characters. The range will include soft toys as well as developmental attachable blankies which emulate the same touchy-feely features as the books. The Guess How Much I Love You nurs-
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ery collection, featuring Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare from the much-loved picture book, features a host of gifts and toys.
sibling this year. Baby Wow Walking Megan joins Baby Wow Crawl and Play Charlie and Baby Wow Chatty Emma, while 2019 will see the launch of yet another new Baby Wow sibling for kids to love and care for. Finally, IMC Toys has also revealed new additions for 2019 to its strong portfolio of licensed brands, including Disney Frozen and Toy Story toy lines. There's plenty more to discover at the IMC stand too.
HALL 1, STAND E22 On show at Nuremberg will be the Musical Lullaby Hares, Booties gift set, Large Nutbrown Hare plush and Little Nutbrown Hare plush rattle. This eye-catching range will also see new gift set additions in 2019. Elmer turns 30 next year and Rainbow’s toy range features bright and tactile rattles, a soft toy, the Trumpeting Elmer and soft plush comfort blanket, all based upon the colourful patchwork elephant. Visitors to Nuremberg can also see Rainbow’s three Peter Rabbit ranges: the Nursery collection, the Peter Rabbit TV range, and the Peter Rabbit Movie collection. Toys on show from the Nursery collection, which stars Peter Rabbit and Flopsy Bunny, include My First characters, Bean Rattles and Comfort Blankets, as well as new Gift Sets.
EDUK8 WORLDWIDE 01434 672 336 Under its brand Eduk8 n Play, Eduk8 Worldwide has announced a slew of new product lines for 2019. This year's Nuremberg fair will witness the relaunch of the company's award-winning Giant Snakes and Ladders game. This popular game has a large dice dome to ensure that players never lose their dice again, and also benefits from compact and vibrant new packaging for 2019. Fun for all the family, the Giant Snakes and Ladders game is UV and water resistant, and is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. The company is onto the crafting trend for 2019 with the launch of a complete new range of craft products under the brand Craft for Kids. Suitable from three years and upwards, all products in the range include everything
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a child needs to complete the craft project. They can choose from a range of projects including making a monster truck, building a freight train, creating an Emoji cushion, making a dinosaur and even making Russian dolls. Eduk8’s craft sets offer great value for money, have plenty of product in the box and provide retailers with a strong margin. Eduk8 will also be launching a host of other new products at Nuremberg, including wooden toys. Its pair of colourful lacing shoes help children learn to tie their shoelaces and distinguish between left and right, while its colourful wooden Stencil Game is supplied in a wooden box comprising 30 wooden stencil cards, pencils and tracing paper. Finally, Eduk8’s wooden Cargo Ship contains 26 magnetic blocks, printed on four sides, featuring the alphabet in upper and lower case, plus numbers and shapes.
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01253 778 888 HTI’s Teamsterz brand is unveiling a hot new property to press, buyers and public. Promising to unwrap the boy’s collectible market, the new launch has been a main focus for the company over the last year, and has benefitted from substantial planning and significant investment. The product has already seen huge global uptake and interest during October previews, with the strong initial reaction resulting in the commissioning of series two. A sneak peek of series two may be possible at the show. As well as new collectables from the Teamsterz brand. HTI has also invested heavily into the range of battery operated ride-on toys under the Evo brand including a total of 15 uniquely tooled items. Additionally, the prams and pushchairs category welcomes the 6-in-1 Evolve, available from Baby Born and Baby Annabell, along with
other launches and licensed ranges from Joie and Peppa Pig.
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London’s Toy Fair is now in its 66th year and you can believe us when we say, it is now in its prime. This year the BTHA is bang on trend with the Content Creation Zone already making a buzz and the thousands of retailers, buyers and exhibitors making their way to the greatest show to come out of London. We talk to Majen Immink to get the latest
he feeling at the BTHA offices, located just a short walk from London’s Borough Market and South Bank area, is that of a quiet confidence. By mid-summer of any year, it’s never much of a surprise to be reading the headlines that London Toy Fair has sold out its exhibitor space for the show not scheduled to take place for at least another six months. London Toy Fair has truly become a staple event of the toy industry calendar and one to which, industry players in their thousands head to each and every year. This year will be no different. Of that, Majen Immink, Toy Fair’s head of operations and sales at the BTHA, is “very confident indeed.” “We are going to continue to see fantastic attendance figures,” she tells ToyNews. “We’ll have thousands of visitors we see year on year at Toy Fair, and hopefully some new visitors from new industry sectors. “Combine this with the hundreds of media registered who will be on the lookout to capture that Toy Fair magic, as well as the all-new Content Creation Zone that will help support many more influencers and bloggers, and 2019 is sure to bring us another incredibly successful show.” Year on year growth for Toy Fair is a sentiment ToyNews has reported on each January, for certainly as long as we here can remember. The show’s high returnee rate of exhibitors at the show, as well as newcomers and those who choose to end their hiatus from the event at the turn of the new year - this time including the likes of LEGO and Flying Gadgets - ensure that. But 2019 looks to be a little different. The climate has changed and the political lay of the land looks to be in for some weathering. How much will issues around Brexit, the retail landscape and changes in the toy space impact upon the show’s success this year? “Although we are living in a time of political uncertainty, the toy industry in the UK and internationally, still continues to thrive because of the innovative products and passion we see from our
exhibitors,” says Immink. “Whether in the Greenhouse Area or on the main show floor, we are looking forward to seeing some great toys on display.” From exhibitors to the visitors, each year London Toy Fair - held once again in London’s Olympia and running from January 22nd to 24th - sees hundreds of retailers, buyers and suppliers walk through
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the foyer and into the show. And if you’re making the trip this year, you can be sure to bump into those faces for yet another year running. “At Toy Fair 2019, we are once again expecting to welcome the biggest retailers and department stores, right the way through to independent gift shops,” explains Immink. “We saw many independent retailers from gift shops and garden centres come to the show in 2018, which clearly indicates the growing importance of Toy Fair to stand alone stores too. “We recognise that more shops such as pet, clothes and beauty shops are selling more and more toys in their stores, so we have also invited buyers from differing sectors to reflect this.” And if the show is preparing to welcome a wave of newcomers - retailers looking to diversify in the world of toys over the coming months and years, then you can bet your last penny that the BTHA and the show’s organisers have got a roster of educational seminars and sessions for them to get involved in. In fact, for even the seasoned toy industry veteran, there certainly seems to be something new to learn. Immink explains: “As well as being a place to do business, Toy Fair is also about inspiring the next generation of the industry. Every year, we invite aspiring pupils looking to break into the industry to join us for the Design Student Seminar. The session takes place on the final day of the show, with guest speakers Marisa Morgan from iLLUMIARTi and David Fry from Agile IP. “Last year, due to the huge success of the session, we moved the seminar to the larger Apex room to allow us to accommodate even more students.” The seminar is back again for its ninth year, this time offering students from across the UK the chance to speak to toy experts and network with other industry professionals in and among the show floor hustle and bustle. ‘This session gives the younger generation a taste of what our industry has to offer them once they graduate, which
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is extremely important,” says Immink. “Inspiring the younger generation brings new ideas and products to the industry, so it’s great to be a part of helping that to happen.” And with it, Immink offers a piece of advice to all those in attendance, reaffirming the BTHA’s constantly developing stance on facilitating new eras for the toy industry itself: “Remember,” she says, “to take the time to speak to the students, as you never
know who you’ll see on the show floor in years to come.” It’s going to be a packed four days. There’s very little doubt of that. And even if you’ve left yourself with a more relaxed schedule than usual, there’s plenty to fill all four days up with. “There have been some mesmerising stands over the last few years of the show and we are expecting nothing less at Toy Fair 2019,” says Immink. “There are some
IMMINK’S HOT LIST
With so much to cram in, Majen Immink head of operations and sales for London Toy Fair tells us her must-attend spots of the show All the excellent stands that are already being planned. Make sure you check out Rainbow Designs’ The Hungry Caterpillar stand! T he Greenhouse Area is a must visit for a first look at the creativity and innovation behind the industry. Toy Fair’s Hero Toys. It’s just in front of the press office and it’s a wall full of the hottest toys, as chosen by toy industry experts. The Content Creation Zone - new to the show and developed for the new age of media. There’s already a real buzz about it! A ny of our networking points - we have various areas scattered around the show for you to talk business or nonsense… it’s up to you. With so many elements to London Toy Fair, it’s hard for Immink to pick out just one favourite, but that hasn’t stopped us from asking what sends the hairs sticking up with pride year-in, year-out. "The one thing I love above everything else is looking out from the balcony on the very first morning of Toy Fair,” she says. "Seeing the carpet finally down and all the bright colours and lights from the stands, really is a great sight. The atmosphere on the first morning when you hear the visitors enter the hall is fantastic, there’s a real buzz around the place as exhibitors look forward to showing off their new toys and games for the year ahead.” And when it comes to offering us a sage piece of advice for surviving the show, Immink isn’t short of comment here, either. “Toy Fair is a fantastic event for all of us in the UK toy industry, with so many things to do and see. I would say my top tip for the show is to make sure you take the time to rest and regain your strength regularly, and make sure you wear comfortable shoes.”
excellent stands planned to this year’s show, such as Rainbow Designs’ Anniversary for The Hungry Caterpillar, so be on the lookout. ‘Another part of the show is The Greenhouse Area - it’s always one of my highlights of any Toy Fair. This area is where we really get to see the creativity and innovative mindsets of our ambitious start-ups come to life, which is always such a wonderful thing to see.
‘You’ll find the Greenhouse Area on the grand ground floor, located next to the centre stairway and coloured green on the floor plan. The Greenhouse Area is a great place to explore the new inventions brought to the show, so make sure you check it out. “Another great place to visit at the show is the Toy Fair’s Hero Toys, located in the front of the press office on the upper gallery level. The Toy Fair’s Hero Toys are a
selection of the hottest toys chosen by toy industry experts and the BTHA. Make sure you don’t miss out on seeing the best of what the toy industry has to offer for 2019. “Finally, on the same level, you will find the Content Creation Zone, located at the far end of the hall. This dedicated space is designed to give media the opportunity to host interviews, toy reviews and pieces to camera on the balcony which overlooks the whole show.”
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306 Deco-Pak Ephemeris Manobesaz
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GOSH Designs part of the PMS International Group plc
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FIESTA CRAFTS Fiesta has joined forces with the Oi!, top selling range of children’s books, to make a range of magnetic learning activities. Kids can play and learn with their favourite Oi! characters as they improve their literacy skills with these new Magnetic Charts.
JAZWARES Jazwares is unveiling several new product lines as well as extensions to its hottest brands at London Toy Fair. Following the launch of the Fortnite toys in December 2018, Jazwares will reveal new developments throughout the year which include true-to-game figures, Domez, loot chests, building sets, plush and gamereplica weapons, all supported by a multichannel marketing campaign. Expect to see further refreshes and new themes for Roblox the largest social platform for play, including all new characters, vehicles and play sets. Fingerlings (WowWee) will enjoy further expansion with new characters and tech features to refresh the hit line. Untamed by Fingerlings will see the introduction of new creatures and playsets and unveiling 112 | toy news | January/February 2019
STAND: D2 Introducing Magnetic Rhymes, Oi! Magnetic Phonics, and Oi! Creative Writing. All sets come with a board, pen, colourful magnetic pieces, and suggested activities for parents to help their children develop their writing skills. Meanwhile, kids will adore constructing dinosaurs which become toys ready to roar and roam. Stage one is constructing the wooden 3D skeleton by following the numbers. Stage two is to use the special air-drying modelling clay to add the ‘flesh’ in whatever design they like. Choose from T-Rex, Stegasaurus, Spinosaurus, and Triceratops. Boosting geographical skills is the new Discover the World board game. Families will love racing around the map of the world, collecting Destination Cards and learning interesting and useful facts about the countries they visit. Fiesta has also added to its range of Wooden Toys with Circular Dominoes. The traditional game has taken a curvy twist, and children will enjoy matching numbers and pictures in order to create a full circle. There is also the Magnetic Mix & Match, where children can create their own combinations of head, torso, and leg pieces of eight different animals wearing different clothes.
the collectible line, Untamed Mad Lab Minis. WowWee also has an array of new brands including Sealed With A Kiss, a collectable lips keyring line complete with KissTech™ technology, supported by TV advertising. Toy Fair also sees new extensions to the Feisty Pets brand, the launch of Petooties, Lil' Peepers and Ztringz. Jazwares will also showcase a new range of Angry Birds toys in time for the premiere of The Angry Birds Movie 2. The new, action-packed toy line brings the Angry Birds charisma to life with splat balls, blinds, figures, playsets and plush by Russ, while Jazwares’ global toy range for Go Away Unicorn will be featured on the stand, including a variety of figure packs and plush toys by Russ.
FUNKO EUROPE Funko is exhibiting at London Toy Fair again this January, armed with a selection of its show-stopping collectables from a wide range of licenses. From Marvel to DC, Fortnite to Disney, Star Wars, and Rick & Morty – Funko is the number one pop culture destination for your Toy Fair visit. Funko will also be bringing along Loungefly – the bags, wallets and accessories’ brand as well as a homewares’ collections. Fortnite is at the forefront of everyone’s minds right now and Funko's Pop! Vinyl line was the first licensed Fortnite toy product to hit the market in EMEA, with a multitude of popular skins available in the first wave: Brite Bomber, Cuddle Team Leader, Omega and Skull Trooper. Funko's since launched a second Pop! Vinyl wave including Tricera Ops, Ragnarok, Drift and Zoey, as well as further figural products
including Pocket Pop! Keychains, Pint Size Hero 2-packs, Vynl and 5 Star – the newest collectable to join the roster. Funko will also be bringing new products from the hottest licenses in the pop culture sphere from Captain Marvel to Aquaman, Star Wars or Premier League Football. Funko's homewares and gifting collection is expanding too – and the brand will be showcasing its newest collections hitting the market in 2019. As well as its existing Mickey Retro range, celebrating the 90th birthday of the icon and their entertaining Rick & Morty line, they’ll be exhibiting brand new collections from The Little Mermaid (to celebrate the films Pearl Anniversary), Toy Story, Genie (Aladdin), alongside new additions to their Nightmare Before Christmas range. Featuring products such as mugs, chopping boards, aprons, mason jars and
bottle openers – the homewares and gifting collection is the perfect gift for all pop culture lovers. Finally, Funko will be showcasing the best of its Loungefly products – a lifestyle brand featuring bags, purses and accessories from licenses including Disney, Overwatch, Star Wars and Marvel. Fashionconscious fans will love this premium brand, featuring quality materials, eyecatching designs and attention to detail. Funko will also be unveiling their brand new Pop! & Tee collection featuring stylised t-shirts with an accompanying Pop! Vinyl figure.
STAND: UPPER LEVEL 600
Bandai is unveiling new licensed product, extensions to its hottest brands and also some exciting new distribution ranges during London Toy Fair. Expect a further series’ of the successful Smooshy Mushy – the squishy, scented surprise collectible brand adored by kids. Throughout 2019, kids can get their hands
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on new themes, ‘Besties’ and innovation to encourage Smooshy Mushy fever. Bananas are the latest collectible craze to hit the market – unique and silly characters are hidden inside each piece of tropical fruit. Series two launches for SS19 and sees the introduction of new Bananas and new fruits with new characters to collect. The popular Rescue Runts brand is expanding with the introduction of Rescue Runts Babies, an assortment of 16 different 12.5cm plush creatures to rescue, love and care for. In addition, the existing four Rescue Runts are joined by new puppies in AW19. Designed to nurture a child’s love of animals and show them how caring for a pet can result in great things, each Rescue Runt needs love and care before it transforms into a perfect pet.
Pomsies are fashionable, interactive plush pets you can take anywhere, while Pretty Pixels Eraser Maker is a craft activity that lets users make their own erasers from pixel templates. Kids have been captivated with Slurpees Snot Suckers – the new toys on the block that combine the collectable and slime crazes in one and unleash hysterical laughter like never before. Wave two, launching Spring, will see more snotty characters join the mix and for AW19 the Slurpees go big with Mega Mites and microscopic with Micro Mites. Following the October TV release of hotly-tipped new ITV series Robozuna, Bandai will follow its SS19 toy launch with phase two for AW19 including role play and articulated figures.
ASMODEE UK 01420 593 593 Asmodee UK is returning to Toy Fair in 2019 with some exciting new additions to its already-extensive line-up of games, collectibles and toys that make it a must-visit this year. One of the highlights of the Asmodee stand will be the introduction of a dedicated Party Games range. This brand-new roster of hilarious, casual games that excel with larger groups is guaranteed to get friends and families laughing together with simple and accessible rules. Headlining the Party Games collection is Telestrations, which is a new addition to the Asmodee catalogue for 2019. Players must sketch out a word from a secret card, then pass their drawing to their neighbour who writes down what they think the word was, before that word is passed along again for another drawing and so on. Watching a word get distorted round by round is a sure-fire way to get the whole table in stitches. Telestrations is joined in the range by the creative word-association game Just One, plus the clues and mimes of Time’s Up (in a fresh new edition focused on the UK market) and riotous dexterity-based fun of Crazy Eggz and Maki Stack. There will be a big presence from the Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG) at the Asmodee stand, as befits the continuing success of this powerhouse collectible. Excitement around the brand is sure to skyrocket in 2019 with the upcoming release of its first-ever live-action movie, Pokémon: Detective Pikachu, after the film’s first trailer was met with high praise in November. The TCG itself will be attracting attention with a brand-new Tag Team mechanic, which for the first time ever pairs up two iconic Pokémon on one card. Toy Fair also offers the chance to try out Dice Academy, a new entry into Asmodee’s successful range of Fun Fast Games. This highly portable game of speedy association sees players roll dice that show both a category (such as a singer or item of clothing) and a letter, and then compete to name things of those categories that start with the designated 116 | toy news | January/February 2019
letters. This instantly accessible, brain-teasing game is a natural fit with Fun Fast Games, a range which comprises the best of Asmodee’s quick-playing, demonstration-friendly titles. Dobble is a key part of the Fun Fast Games collection and the game of matching symbols is expanding its range after a stellar year. A signature product for Asmodee, Dobble sold its millionth copy in the UK in 2018 and stands as the year’s single biggest-selling game. Visitors to the Asmodee stand will be able to preview multiple new versions of the game. Also included in Fun Fast Games are the likes of Rory’s Story Cubes, Who Did It?, Cobra Paw and the ever-popular Bananagrams, which has enjoyed a strong first year under the Asmodee UK umbrella. The hit game of using letter tiles to build connected grids of words is gearing up for a relaunched version of its successful partnership with schools. Over 1600 schools currently participate in the Bananagrams Challenge, which translates to over 40,000 students playing the game and having fun while developing their vocabulary and problem-solving skills. Asmodee will also be displaying their Modern Classics collection, which highlights bigger-box board games that have played a huge part in the extraordinary growth of the tabletop gaming market in recent years. Great for getting families sitting around a table together, these titles offer a variety of gameplay styles that hint at the incredible range of products available in modern board gaming, while all being accessible for anyone. The Modern Classics range includes Catan, the millionsselling game of trading and expansion on a fertile island, plus the railway-building Ticket to Ride and the medieval tile-laying of Carcassonne. Also featured are the creative interpretation game Dixit, the clever gem-trading action
of Splendor and Pandemic, the pioneering cooperative game that sees all players working together to fight the spread of deadly diseases. There's plenty to see at the Asmodee stand, an ever popular destination of the London Toy Fair, and with gaming hitting new levels of popularity among consumers and youth audiences today, it's certain to be a bustling area of the show. Asmodee UK prides itself on its demonstration abilities, too, which have proved themselves to be a real crowd pleaser not just at the show but in-store. Make sure to swing by the firm's stand at E109 to find more.
GALT TOYS Science is an area of growth for Galt with both science categories, Explore and Discover and Horrible Science benefitting from the resurgence of interest in Stem Products. Horrible Science's Perilous Planes at £6.99 features a glider launch, parachute tests and a helicopter rotor, while the Chaotic Kitchen Experiments at £17.99 includes powering a clock with a potato and fishing for frozen cockroaches. Galt is known for its iconic Playnest so its new licenced Playnest – The Very Hungry Caterpillar (£39.99) fits right in.It has a variety of features for babies and young children to explore including a crinkle leaf, furry patches on the caterpillar and a mirror. There is a new Activity Ball in our First Years category. The fabric covered inflatable ball is decorated with butterflies,
GIBSONS 020 8661 8866 email@example.com Gibsons is excited to be exhibiting at the London Toy Fair. 2019 is a special year
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flowers and bees, while the popular Follow Me Ball is being relaunched with an easy to use external switch. This colour changing motorised ball is simplicity itself to assemble and operate! One of Galts heritage range is marble construction. In 2019 the firm's launching a new construction set using the Galt Marble Run. Marble Run Reaction at RRP £24.99 and for ages four to adult is an eighty piece set with a whole suite of reaction causing effects including a starter top, vortex, ramp, rope swing and drum base as a well as a domino track for hours of fun. Fun board games, play-sets, stationery and creative arts and crafts ranges all join Galt's burgeoning portfolio this year, with lines like Magnetic Letters and Creative Cases being showcased at th firm's stand. Make sure you allow yourselves time to explore it all at London Toy Fair.
STAND: E40 for Gibsons as it will be celebrating its centenary; they have been trading as a British, family business for 100 years. Gibsons will have a special stand design with an archive featuring some original Gibsons’ games. They invite all to come to its stand at the show to say hello, where visitors can view the team's re-designed Jigmap children’s puzzles. Award-winning Jigmaps introducte kids to geography. Jigmap Britain & Ireland and Jigmap World are painted by Mike Jupp, artist of Gibsons’ infamous 'I Love...' range, and both puzzles are perfect for ages five and up.
The challenge is to piece it all together and successfully answer the questions in the special name quiz to decide whether you are a geographical genius or topographically inept. Like all of Gibsons’ jigsaws they are made from 100 per cent recycled board of the highest quality. Gibsons will also be releasing a collection of jigsaw puzzles especially for adults. Available in six quirky designs that have been specifically selected, the puzzles will be presented in a smaller box and shrink wrap will be lost to avoid excess plastic. Designed and manufactured in the UK from the thickest board available on the jigsaw puzzle market, the collection complements the mindfulness movement as puzzling reduces stress by occupying and engaging the mind.
STAND: UPPER LEVEL 520
01392 281 927 TOMY UK heads into London Toy Fair 2019 with its strongest line-up of toys and games to date, and it all promises to surprise and delight buyers alike.
From the launch of girl’s brand, Ritzy Rollerz, core brands Lamaze, Aquadoodle, Britains and TOMY Toomies, through to Ricky Zoom – the new CGI action comedy animation show from eOne, there is lots to discover in the TOMY portfolio in 2019. Following the recent announcement of the new strategic partnership with Drumond Park, TOMY will be also be showcasing the range of kids', family and adult games that now form part of the TOMY portfolio. Visitors will see extensions to the popular Articulate, Logo and Pop Up Pirate brands, in addition to games like Puffball and Face It. TOMY will be showcasing a number of new releases in its Nursery and Preschool brand categories as it prepares to build upon the success of 2018 following the toy giant’s heavy weight TV advertising campaign in the run up to Christmas.
TOMY’s nursery and preschool brands prioritise playtime between parents and children, while also creating products that make lives easier for busy parents. London Toy Fair will see the launch of TOMY Toomies innovative new product range – Parade Pals – that will allow toddlers to learn new animal sounds and songs as they mix, match and connect the characters and hear them harmonise. Turning to vehicles, Europe’s oldest specialist in agricultural toys and collectibles Britains, looks to maintain its leading position in farm role play and replica models sector. New releases for 2019 include a new Slurry Silver Tanker (Fieldside) from manufacturing firm NC Engineering and new license FENDT 828 Vario Tractor and Vicon FastBale. In addition, TOMY is delivering innovation in the girl’s space with Adorbs.
PAUL LAMOND GAMES 0207 254 0100 At the London Toy Fair, Paul Lamond Games will be asking the question: Are you Dumber than a Box of Rocks? The new quick play, trivia game is easy to learn and is perfect for parties as any number of players can play but are you ready to come and take the challenge on stand E50? The games and puzzles specialist will be launching a series of fantastic games for all the family including Tip of the Tongue. This innovative, easy to learn and fast-paced game will have the family in stitches as players have just two seconds to attempt to answer. 120 | toy news | January/February 2019
Also new to the family games portfolio is SHABOOM! Use the components in your tray to stack, roll, bounce, and spell your way to victory. Just be the first to complete ten tasks to win the game! For the younger board game players, the new Gangsta Granny ‘Stash the Swag’ board game is just what all fans of The World of David Walliams have been waiting for. “They had until tea time to plan the greatest Jewel theft in History!” but can Granny and Ben avoid the Queen and collect and stash all the ‘jewels’ and be the first to spell out the word Gangsta? It's an easy play family board game that encourages strategic thinking. Flickin’ Chicken is as crazy as it sounds - as players watch the chickens bounce and roll and try to hit the target? Flickin’ Chicken is a real go-anywhere game.
FLAIR PLC 0208 643 0320 The collections from Flair and Just Play have something to offer everyone in the family, whether it’s the top pre-school properties of games that even granny can take part in. Proving that with big hair you don’t care, Just Play’s Hairdorables has created waves in the toy market since its launch in autumn, with fans embracing the characters, their stories and of course, the peel and reveal element of the highly collectable dolls. Season two is eagerly awaited and will be available from February with new dolls and exciting new surprise features. It’s heroic play on the go with the new PJ Masks Fold N Go Headquarters Mini Playset. This nifty storage case doubles up as a miniature 3-storey HQ playset for the top-selling blind bag collectable figures. The playset features a fur ball catapult, a ladder to access all three levels, a collapsible floor, five accessories, two mini figures, and is the perfect place to store the PJ Masks mini figure collection. The blind bag collectables will also be refreshed for spring with 24 new figures, including four rare and one ultra-rare. The Super Moon Adventure themed
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segment continues to grow with the new Super Moon Adventure Fortress Playset. Packed with interactive features, hero and villain figures can battle it out in Zero Gravity, but beware of the crystal trap beneath the mountain which will snap shut when the loser falls in. The playset comes with two articulated figures: Cat Boy in his space outfit and Luna Girl, ready for battle to commence. After their sell-out launch in autumn 2018, the Shopkins Lil’ Secrets collection is ready to party! Shopkins Lil’ Secrets combines the successful Shopkins franchise with the proven play pattern of miniature collectables and secret reveals. New for 2019 will be the Lil’ Secrets Party Pop Ups. At the pocket money end will be new Party Themed Secret Lockets each holding its own tiny world and party ready Teeny Shoppie figure, while the Shopkins Lil’ Secrets collection is ready to party and Shopkins Lil’ Secrets combines the successful Shopkins franchise with the proven play pattern of secret reveals. New for 2019 will be the Lil’ Secrets Party Pop Ups collection. At the pocket money end will be new Party Themed Secret
Lockets each holding its own tiny world and party ready Teeny Shoppie figure. With the new Shopkins Lil’ Secrets Shop ‘n’ Locks, the party theme continues. Open the pop-up party invitation, find the code and reveal the party within. Wave one will include a Mermaid Day Spa, Princess Hair Salon and Masquerade Party, with more party themes to follow in wave two. In family games, Flair introduces Headsplat, the water challenge game where you must use your head to flip a water balloon into the splash out cup. Spring 2019 will see all new packaging and style-guide for Flair’s Ben 10 collection. This will be rolled out will the new lines including the next wave of action figures that will introduce new characters such as Humungasaurus, Ben 10 Glitch and the Omni Enhanced XLR8. Also, to look forward to are the Alien Creation Figure packs; each with two characters with mix and match parts that can be played with on their own or will work perfectly with the Alien Creation Chamber. The Basic Omnitrix, the essential role play item for fans, will also be back with its 40+ light and sounds features. Role play gives fans the opportunity to collect all of the signature training weapons in the Turtles' arsenal and channel their powers. Choose from Leonardo's Ninja set which includes his odachi sword and bandana, Donatello's set includes his Bo-Tech staff and purple do-rag mask, Michelangelo's includes his kusari-fundo weapon and a bandana and Raphael's includes his tonfa baton and red do-rag mask – each set also comes with throwing stars. The new Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Role-Play Masks will launch in spring and have four different sculpts to echo the four brothers as they are seen in the ‘Rise of’ TV series. Available in an assortment of four, the masks promise to be a favourite with fans.
ORCHARD TOYS 01953 859 535 Orchard Toys has added five new products to its growing educational range, comprising: a new sound matching game with supporting app, a magic literacy game, a three dimensional counting and addition board game, a number puzzle for toddlers and a fun dinosaur lotto, perfect for pre-schoolers. Sound Detective is the first Orchard Toys product that can be used in conjunction with the Orchard Toys app. Players listen to the sound clues within the app and match them to their picture cards to build a path and catch the thief. Next, Magic Spelling is a literacy based counterpart product to Magic Maths, which has been a huge success since its launch 18 months ago. Players race against the timer to discover hidden letters to spell words, before using the magical rub and reveal cards to check that they have spelt the words correctly. If they have, players get to collect the yucky ingredients listed in their magic spell book to win the game. Perfect for school children aged five to seven to support literacy skills in line with the national curriculum. Counting Mountain is a fun counting and addition game for four to eight year olds, featuring a 3D board and plethora of mountain animals. Players take turns to turn over two cards at a time, add
them together and move that number of spaces along the board as they race to reach the top of the mountain. However, players must watch out for yetis who live on the mountain as they can send them backwards or, even chase all players off the mountain and back to the start.
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SPIN MASTER Spin Master is set for an exciting start to the new year, as it continues to snap up sought after licenses for hot new toy lines, launch disruptive new products and build on its evergreen brands with fresh thinking. The new Off the Hook doll range features fun fashions and styles so little fashionistas can play dress up with their Best Fashion Friends. Children can mix and match the doll’s style, snap together fab outfits and discover surprise accessories with the new Style Girl, Style BFF and Style Studio ranging from £7.99 to £19.99, all with ultimate customisation options. A heavyweight marketing campaign for spring includes TV advertising and fashion themed influencer endorsement. Hatchimals CollEGGtibles Season 5 – Mermal Magic lands in February and AW will see yet more new introductions from Hatchimals as Spin Master continues to build on this evergreen brand with fresh thinking that embraces social trends. February also sees the release of the third film in the successful DreamWorks Dragons franchise, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, and Spin Master introduces its master toy line featuring characters directly from the world. The ultimate dragon, Toothless, with 22-inch, pull-open wings, fire breathing and plasma blast action also joins the line. More innovation in the Dragons range will come through for Autumn, as Spin Master expands its action-packed offering. Spin Master’s 10-year global partnership with Monster Jam, the kid-friendly actionpacked live event, kicks off this month with the launch of the awesome Monster Jam toy line. Featuring cool trucks with authentic detailing and features of the originals, each vehicle comes with real working wheels for fans to create their favourite Monster Jam crashes. From diecast and Rev and Roar vehicles to stunt playsets and Kinetic Dirt Starter and Deluxe sets, fans can build their very own tracks to experience the freestyle
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excitement as well as collect them all. The adrenaline-fuelled line also includes the only RC products that let kids and fans of all ages feel like they are behind the wheel of Monster Jam trucks. Look out for Monster Mutt Dalmatian, Megaladon and Grave Digger and more, as well as more hit items. Spin Master entered the gift business with the acquisition of GUND last year. GUND is one of the world’s leading plush manufacturers, and it brings a collection of plush categories including Baby, Licensed featuring Pusheen and Boo, Core and Animated items. Flappy the Elephant, an adorable singing animated plush, will be the hero product in the UK for 2019. With two different play modes, Flappy
sings songs as its ears move, providing an interactive and musical experience for any little one. Made from high-quality, huggable plush material that is surface-washable, Flappy is perfect for children ages 0+. There’s more in store this Spring as the popular pre-school property PAW Patrol keeps its fans up to speed with a new range of toys. The toy line includes the TV promoted PAW Patrol Ultimate Rescue Construction Truck. It’s also an exciting year for PAW Patrol content with new releases set for both Spring and Autumn promising strong retail opportunities throughout 2019. Visitors to Toy Fair should not miss a tour around the stand this year.
07472 824 526 The Big Potato gang is returning to London Toy Fair, armed with its brightly coloured stand and a bundle of new party games. Included in next year’s lineup is the fast and frantic party game, 20 Second Showdown and the family betting game What Came First. 20 Second Showdown is an absolute rollercoaster of a family game, with two teams racing to complete a series of ridiculous challenges. Pick a player to start in the hot seat and read out a Challenge Card, then flip the massive timer and try to complete whatever crazy task the game throws at you. There’s 400 different challenges in the game – from saying “hello” in three different foreign languages to swapping shoes with a team member. The first team to run out of time loses and must reset the timer, whilst the winners parade around the room like the champions that they are. In What Came First, we’ll put two icons up against each other - like Cher or Tupperware, Bruce Lee or KFC - and you’ll have to figure out which came first. Make your bet by placing your chips on either side of the board, which includes a ‘guess-the-year’ section for anyone who’s feeling extra lucky. Pick the right side and you could double your bet. Pick the right year and you could quadruple it. The more you win, the quicker you’ll get to
the finish line but watch out - get it wrong on a big bet and you’ll be heading backwards in a hurry. Before we go, there’s one last thing. At the show, Big Potato will also be announcing two brand new licensed games for 2019. It’s so top secret that we can’t breathe a word of it here – you’ll just have to come to Stand H46 at London Toy Fair 2019 and see for your- self.
RAVENSBURGER 01869 363 830 GraviTrax is developing into a stand-alone category, and the company will launch eight new items in autumn/winter 2019 for fans of the range - you're sure to find it at this year's show, too. Meanwhile, Ravensburger’s multi-award-winning Peppa Pig range has more products in the pipeline for autumn/winter 2019, while this year will also see new designs for Thomas & Friends, PJ Masks,
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Bing Bunny and Disney, plus movie products for How to Train your Dragon 3, Secret Life of Pets 2, Toy Story 4 and the much-anticipated Frozen 2. Ravensburger also welcomes Harry Potter, Fantastic Beasts, Spirit, Rusty Rivets, That’s Not My…, Enchantimals, Top Wing and School of Roars to its collection of popular licences. Adult puzzles show growth of 19 per cent YTD, reflecting the company’s continued commitment to UK specific development and its selection of the best international images. Ravensburger’s 80 new titles for 2019 reflect British consumer tastes and, importantly, deliver fresh ideas and themes to attract new consumers into the puzzle market. 3D Puzzle remains an important category, and Ravensburger will drive growth with new TV spots and digital content. Key products are vehicles (the Porsche 911 and the Harry Potter Night Bus), iconic landmarks with lights, stylish storage sneakers and licensed balls in various formats and licences, including Frozen 2 and Harry Potter designs. The company’s games have enjoyed a positive year, with over 29 per cent growth and similar growth planned for 2019, supported by a heavyweight TV-focused media spend.
WILD CARD GAMES 07916 349942 Now approaching £6 million in retail sales in the UK, leading Family Games specialist Wild Card Games continues to add to its range of award winning games. Top sellers Who Knows Where, Ski Run, Globe Runner, Mapominoes, Frenzi and Backpacker and award winners Arithmanix and Astronauts are joined by exciting new family quiz games GUESSED LIST and 1ST TO WORST. With 10 per cent off Toy Fair orders, GUESSED LIST is a fun party
game for all where you choose a List Title and then shout out as many answers as you can in 30 seconds to try to guess a specific name on the List and win the card. Lists cover all popular trivia topics from TV Chefs to Chocolate bars, from Singers with One Name to Sports Personality winners. There really is something for everyone. Can you get your name on the Guessed List and enter the Winners Club? A great fun, rapid fire, quick thinking quiz game, for 2+ players or teams. With 10 per cent off Toy Fair orders 1ST TO WORST! is the party game of preference. A game for families and friends, the aim is to correctly guess another player's order of preference from three choices. It's the first choice party game that gets everyone talking and thinking - “Which would you choose?” SKI RUN is a classic family race game that sells strongly from September through till the end of the ski season in April. The lead changes constantly in this dynamic game, while WHO KNOWS WHERE? is the global location guessing game where you locate famous places on the world map. With over 1000 locations to guess in five categories it’s a fun way to learn about our world. Everyone guesses every question and you can copy opponent’s guesses, in this simple and inclusive game for all that has many five star reviews.
www.vtech.co.uk 2019 will see some great new additions to the Switch & Go Dinos range. Joining hero products such as Dash the T-Rex, Autumn / Winter will see six new opening price point Dinos, which are perfect pocket money toys. There will also be a new flying vehicle which turns into a Dino that got more famous after it was heavily featured in the popular dinosaur movie. As with the other Switch and Go Dinos, these 2 in 1 toys easily switch between cool vehicles and fearsome dinosaurs and you can hear great sound effects, depending on the mode they are in. Activate exciting dinosaur facts which are reinforced by the educational flash cards included with each Switch and Go Dino. Joining Switch & Go Dinos in the Pre School Vehicles sector, will be a brand new range 128 | toy news | January/February 2019
launching in for Autumn / Winter 2019. Small, yet mighty, these vehicles will turbo the success in this category for VTech. Also new for Spring / Summer 19 are the PetSqueaks™ by VTech®! These cute, pocket-sized, my first robotic pets, have 3 sensors that interact when one of the sensors are triggered. Pet the Head Sensor or tickle the Tummy Sensor to make your PetSqueaks giggle and respond with sounds, phrases and motion. Hold the PetSqueaks in the palm of your hand to trigger the Bottom Sensor see it stand up. Watch the PetSqueaks™ move and scurry around on flat surfaces, just like a real pet or see their cheeks light up in delight as they eat! They even make funny and embarrassing noises! The PetSqueaks™ will be TV advertised from January.
H GROSSMAN 0141 613 2525 Itâ€™s all gone soft focus at the Grossmans stand this year with a menagerie of top quality plush at very desirable prices, many items priced to retail at under ÂŁ10. Apart from the award winning plush Unicorns which are available sitting, standing and with wings- there are Llamas, sloths, flamingos , llamacorns, elephants, tigers and gorillas. All in a variety of sizes and colours to suit the pickiest of plush fans. Of course, the Ozbozz brand is renowned for outdoor toys and this year the new items are aimed at the younger market. My First Scooter has been a classic for HGL and this year will see the addition of My First Trike and My First Balance Bike. Available in two colourways, the trike has light up wheels. Both products are sturdy and easy to manoeuvre by little hands,
while for slightly older children the new Jungle scooter is a three wheeler for extra stability with a jungle design. Dog and cat lovers will love the new
Kitty Paw and Puppy Paw scooters, again these are decorated with appealing kitty and puppy designs. Putty and slime are still big business and HGL was leading the way with Unicorn Poo last year with phenomenal sales of the glittery pots all over the UK. This year, Grossmans will be introducing Llama poo and an old favourite, dog poo (complete with two flies) these are just two in a new line-up at pocket money prices. Planet Putty will feature all the planets and Unicorn Horn slime is another bestseller. Putty and slime are just a few of the thousands of pocket money items on offer. Of course, no London Toy Fair would be complete without some top secret items being introduced at the last minute. Come along to stand E49 to see what other lines are all set to disappear from your shelves like magic.
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LEAPFROG www.leapfrog.co.uk LeapFrog, the leader in innovative developmental solutions for children, will be returning to London Toy Fair this year to showcase its biggest toy launch yet. 31 new products will be shown at the event, all of which are sure to help LeapFrog continue to build on its success. Two new role play items join for Autumn/ Winter 2019 that are sure to get customers
‘sizzling’ while teaching numbers, colours, shapes and more. These new additions will accompany the Scoop & Learn Ice Cream Cart, Shapes & Sharing Picnic Basket, and the Musical Rainbow Tea Party. The Scoop & Learn Ice Cream Cart is the number one item in the Early Electronic Learning subclass and includes 20 playing pieces to provide open-ended play. It features eight scoops of ice cream, three toppings and three flavours of syrup to teach kids ten colours and flavours. With the Shapes & Sharing Picnic Basket, children can learn about colours, shapes, manners and more while on a pretend picnic. Lift the lid to hear cheerful phrases and unpack the 16 play pieces, including colourful plates, forks, cups and food. The interactive shape sorter on the lid recognises the food pieces and says the shape and colour of each one. Drop the correct food in the basket for rewarding responses that encourage good manners.
The Musical Rainbow Tea Party is an interactive tea set, bubbling with personality and over 80 songs and phrases to help teach colours, opposites, counting, matching and more. Watch this happy teapot come to life as it lights up in five colours and gurgles realistically as the tea is "brewed" inside. The tea even moves as the teapot tips and you serve it to your guests. The Musical Rainbow Tea Party comes with nine play pieces, including two teacups, five colourful cake pieces and a beautiful cake stand to teach manners, sharing, and shapes. The teapot lid also has a shiny mirror for peek-a-boo fun. It's designed for kids aged 12 months and upwards and retails at £21.99. As well as two great new products being added to the role play range, a brand new innovation to LeapStart will also be unveiled, as well as launching a completely unique handheld device that will build on crazes from gaming, and the playground, whilst also incorporating learning.
THE PUPPET COMPANY 01462 446 040 The Puppet Company's Story Tellers has 13 distinct characters with many more in the pipeline. The range includes Super Heroes, a Wizard, Witch, King, Queen, Princess, Fairy and Prince which allow imaginations to run wild through role-play. Retailing at an affordable £9.99 price point, the extensive detail makes the toys an attractive purchase for customers. Large Dino Heads has taken a long time to perfect, but the company feels it has achieved both realism and fun combined. With three designs of favourite Jurassic creatures, the dinos make for some very strong additions to the range. 130 | toy news | January/February 2019
The Puppet Company also has new introductions to the ever-popular Long Sleeve, Finger Puppet, My First Puppet, Full-Bodied and Car Pet ranges. Each new addition enhances the range and is consistent in the quality and attention to detail that the company is renowned for. The eagerly anticipated new Wilberry Dancer and Dolls additions will be on show, along with new Linens, Knitted, Snuggles and Woollies. The Wilberry Robots are also expected to be hot items for spring/summer 2019, while the recent launch of the Super Heroes range has been extremely well received, and this success is anticipated to continue into 2019.
BASIC FUN 07967004585 Basic Fun will showcase the new 2019 K’NEX ranges with a focus on new colours, new innovative parts, new motors, new action play features and impactful on shelf pack designs at this year's Toy Fair. The Kid K’NEX range of preschool building sets, starting from £12.99 to £34.99, sees the exciting new launch of the Dino Dudes Building Set which inspires young dinosaur fans to build with easy to assemble parts. The new Beginner 40 Model Building Set features a unique K’NEX connector piece which simplifies building in 3D, making this item great for builders aged five and upwards. Exciting new designs in the classic range include a Motorbike, Jeep Wrangler, and working Construction Crane. New motor designs bring excitement to the Tabletop Thrills Amusement Park, powering three rides at once, delivering a full theme park for only £49.99. Also at £49.99, the new Dragon Quest Roller Coaster Building Set
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features a moving dragon battling to catch the coaster car looping around the castle themed thrill ride. Finishing off the construction portfolio, the new Bendy and The Ink Machine and Exploding Kitten ranges cater for collectors of the hottest new licenses with impulse £2.99 to £29.99 playsets. Cutetitos are collectable stuffed animals wrapped and hidden in burrito blankets that kids can unroll and discover. Based on the current trend of pets rolled up in blankets like burritos, now kids can collect all twelve. Cutetitos come disguised as uniquelywrapped burritos in large Blind Bags, which are exciting to open and unveil which one is concealed inside – it could be a Slothito, Puppito, Bunnito, Monkito or others. More fun surprises include finding the Cutetitos’ personality “Hot Spot” (mild, medium, hot or super spicy), their birthday and favourite “quotito”. Collect all 12 – including some super rare Cutetitos – each with its own
INTERPLAY UK 01628 488 944 With the My Fairy Garden brand in full bloom, celebrating a global doublefigure million-pound value and growing distribution and listings in the UK, the brand is performing extremely well. For 2019, Interplay is introducing new products into the My Fairy Garden range. The ever green brand will be supported by an enhanced marketing programme designed to build awareness, loyalty and depth of purchase while TV advertising, year-long PR activity and strong retail presence will boost the line over the year. The new Fairy Kitchen Garden (SS £11,99rrp) is the first fairy home with pea 132 | toy news | January/February 2019
burrito blanket and Pet Collector card. They target kids aged three and upwards and sell for £9.99. The Little Lucky Lunchbox range completes the line up. Food, fun, and surprise is on the menu with these culinary collectables. Don't miss them.
STAND G10 shoots you can grow, harvest and eat. Featuring a beautiful fairy, complete with a cottage and picket fence, the window sill set takes children on the magical journey of food from seed to delicious grown greens. For AW, Interplay is introducing the Fairy Nature Garden (£29.99rrp). Designed to supports children’s learning about nature, the stunning fairy plant pot house comes with two fairies, a frog, a butterfly and two ladybirds, a bug house, water butt and wind spinner. More exciting news is coming to the My Fairy Garden range, with the launch of the Dragons’ Tower Garden set (£19.99rrp). Featuring a magical castle that is home to a mummy and baby dragon
TRENDS UK/ WIND DESIGNS STAND H42 / WIND DESIGNS H52 01295 768 078 / 01353 724140 Trends UK and Wind Designs are looking forward to an exciting 2019 introducing exciting new launches at Toy Fair 2019 Trends UK Electronic Learning Toys Peppa Pig celebrates her 15-year anniversary in 2019 with lots of new TV content, a cinema event, live shows and lots more. The best-selling, multi awardwinning and five-star rated Count with Peppa (£19.99esp) being the star of the Trends ELAs range enabling children to have fun with the 10 colourful play coins and learn about numbers and colours. The Mr Tumble Learning Pad (£17.99esp) is an ideal toy for any fan of the “Something Special” programme because it combines recognising colours, letters, numbers and musical instruments, while the Learn with Thomas Alphaphonics (£19.99esp) is an easy-to-handle toy featuring seven different play modes. Science Mad As one of the UK’s leading suppliers of science toys Trends celebrated gold awards from MadeForMums and Creative Play for the Science Mad Chemistry Set (£34.99srp). Unique new kits join the range in 2019. The Science Mad Build Your Own Robotic Vacuum Cleaner (£19,99esp) has 75 pieces to build a working model that can sense walls and obstacles, a floating suction indicator and dust collection chamber. The Science Mad Circuit Lab (£29.99esp) has over 50 experiments teaching about electricity, electrical components and circuits. An interactive Science Mad Pop Globe (£39.99srp) features AR technology with an app that scans the geo-political globe to reveal fascinating facts and pictures.
SpyX The new SpyX Drone Strike (£34.99srp) will put would-be agents through aerial spy training. The mission is to defend and protect against enemy drone reconnaissance. Blast the self-flying drone with foam darts to eliminate any threat. It has a crash resistant frame, so you can practise your aim with foam darts again and again! Discovery Adventures Trends UK is refreshing its popular science toy range as Discovery Adventures with a new look and packaging designed to appeal to adventure seeking families.
Hero items Velcro Brand Blocks T-Rex (£14.99esp) is a 33-piece set creating a great looking dinosaur with movable arms and legs, while the Velcro Brand Blocks Jumbo Robot (£14.99srp) builds a cool industrial style robot with hands that grip. Paint Sticks The award-winning no-mess Paint Sticks range is being expanded the new Paint Sticks Art Station (£29.99srp). Ideal for creativity anywhere the fold-up, double-sided easel has a Whiteboard and Chalkboard side. With 6 classic Paint Sticks, Chalk Sticks, paper and a duster, it is ready for action straight out of the box.
Velcro Brand BLOCKS Sets Velcro® Brand Blocks is play system for pre-schoolers. Lightweight, soft foam blocks attach together with very clever Velcro Brand Fasteners allowing for infinite creativity. Because the special hook and fasteners are in one piece means the blocks connect easily and are very forgiving for little hands.
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01200 445113 Brainstorm is set to launch an array of new products and brands at London Toy Fair 2019 with arts and crafts range EUGY taking centre stage. Distributed exclusively in the UK by Brainstorm, EUGY is unlike anything seen before and customers are invited to Brainstorm to see the product for themselves.
success at the show for the past few years. In 2019, Brainstorm will launch StikBot Monsters, a highly anticipated addition to the range and one that allows retailers to capitalise on the collectability of the brand. StikBot Monster Capsules will delight fans as they try and collect all six in this assortment. Each capsule includes a collector’s sheet and one capsule in every
high-quality images up to one metre wide on walls and ceilings. A stunning Sea Creatures Projector and Nightlight also launches and gives children aged three and upwards a fascinating insight into the world beneath the sea. The successful Torch and Projector range continues to build with the addition of the Pirate Torch and Projector – a great
Created in New Zealand by Dodoland, EUGY is an eco-friendly craft collectable that allows children to create their own 3D models using environmentally friendly, biodegradable card each printed with natural eco-friendly inks. The simple numerical sequence assembly belies the intricate creations children can make – a collection of cute animals and creatures including dinosaur, panda, elephant and more. Collect them all and enjoy the fun educational facts accompanying each. London Toy Fair wouldn’t be the same without StikBot – the stop-frame animation social sharing toy that has enjoyed great
16 will feature a rare Monster. StikBot Mega Monsters also launch with super-scary StikBots - Cerberus, the three-headed dog, the indestructible Gigantus and the fire breathing dragon Scorch. 2019 will see more new lines added than ever before. The Outer Space Rocket Projector & Nightlight is predicted to be hugely popular during 2019 which celebrates 50 years since the first Moon Landing. This retro style red rocket not only acts as a cool asteroid nightlight but an awesome mini projector too. It is the perfect size to fit on a bedside table but is actually capable of projecting 24
impulse price point product that is a musthave for pirate fans with 24 themed images. There’s a Mermaid Torch too and little ones will love seeing pictures of mermaids and their friends on walls and ceilings. Get outdoors in Spring/Summer with the new products launching in the Outdoor Adventure collection including Outdoor Adventure Camping Projector. The three in one light can be used when camping or in the bedroom and allows children to project images inspired by nature, whilst the base of the Camping Light also projects a star light show. It features a nightlight mode with campfire effect.
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ROLLPLAY 07986 971 902 For 20 years Rollplay has been a well known manufacturer of e-vehicles for children and licensee of well-known car brands such as Porsche, BMW, Volkswagen, Mercedes and Audi. The European distribution center, based in Nuremberg (Germany), distributes over 50 products from the lines “Toddler & Pre-School”, “Battery-Powered Vehicles” and “High Performance” – including OEM products and original designs for children.
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Rollplay will be showcasing a number of brands during the London Toy Fair. Highlights include the award-winning Nighthawk, new and refreshed licensed vehicles from the BMW and VW range, as well as new vehicles in the high performance and electric ride-on categories which will be revealed at the show. The Nighthawk is a sit, slide and glide ride for preteens. With its leading-edge design creating a new sub-segment of rideon toys, kids can glide through exhilarating curves and feel the sensational control of the Rollplay Nighthawk as they learn how to master the unique riding action. With a 2-metre turning radius, Nighthawk runs at a max speed of 12 km/h for kids 6 years plus. The 12V battery is quickly rechargeable overnight.
The BMW 8 Series will also be showcased at the fair with a street version M850i and the racing version M8 GTE. The BMW range is known for its luxury and performance and is a popular brand amongst consumers. The 8 series is BMW’s top of line, flagship car and the new ride-on will replicate the actual model with horn sounds, two opening doors, a light-up dashboard and working headlights. An MP3 player will also enable kids to listen to music while they drive allowing them to feel just like a grown-up. Rollplay will also be introducing the VW range with a refresh to both the iconic Bus and the Beetle models. The 6V Volkswagen Bus is a battery powered ride-on, children will love the realistic features, including front doors that open and latch shut, working headlights, and horn and engine sounds. Launching in the summer, the Bus will feature a new ‘Flower Power’ design to mark the 50th anniversary of Woodstock festival. The colorful flower stickers can be stuck on to the car and easily removed so that children can customise their own vehicle. The 6 Volt VW Bus reaches speeds of 2.5 MPH and operates in both forward and reverse, its heavy-duty rubber traction strip also makes the trip safer and smoother. The Bus is suitable for children from the age of three. The 6V Volkswagen Beetle is a batterypowered ride-on that looks just like the real thing, right down to the silver VW emblems and high-backed contour seat. Kids will love to drive around in this replica model which is packed with features that can be found on the real car, including working headlights, a horn and engine sounds and a door that opens and latches shut. Similar to the VW Bus, the Beetle will also feature the new Flower Power design with stickers to help create different looks and patterns. The Flower Power Beetle which is available in pink.
THAMES & KOSMOS 01580 713 000 Returning to London Toy Fair for the eighth year, Thames & Kosmos will unveil its strengthened STEM toys and games portfolio for the year ahead. Thames & Kosmos’ is adding two new sets to its successful STEM range, Pepper Mint.The sets centre around engineering- and designled activities that follow the adventures of Pepper Mint, a curious, capable and creative girl. Launching in Spring 2019 are The Space Adventure and The Secret Island Adventure. Continuing its growth in the board games sector, Thames & Kosmos will also be showcasing a number of new tabletop titles at London Toy Fair. Featuring original art from Anna Llenas’ best-selling book series of the same name, The Colour Monster is a children’s game based on a confused monster who’s unable to understand his own emotions until he is helped by his friend, a little girl. The Colour Monster
game is designed to encourage children to talk about and understand their own feelings. Players must first find different colours representing various feelings such as calm, anger, fear, sadness etc. As play progresses, they also have to find an object which can hold the feeling they’ve found, before they move on to talk about a time when they experienced that feeling themselves. After a phenomenal year of sales for the EXIT: The Game series, Thames & Kosmos is adding another two adventures to the range: The Catacombs of Horror, which features a slightly longer, expanded gameplay, plus The Rollercoaster of Horror which features original riddles for beginners. Players must use their team spirit, creativity and powers of deduction to crack codes, solve puzzles, collect objects and earn their freedom bit by bit. With luck, tactics, high-quality playing materials and colourful festive atmospheres, the games are exciting until the very end.
JUMBO GAMES 01707 260 436 Hot on the heels of a successful 2018 performance across its Adult Puzzle portfolio, Jumbo Games is starting 2019 off with a host of new releases across its much-loved and top-selling puzzle brands – all of which will be showcased at the upcoming London Toy Fair and Birmingham Spring Fair shows.
Leading the way as the UK’s number one adult puzzle brand, Jumbo Games has released six new puzzles across the Original, Destiny and Mystery puzzle concepts. The releases will include the Wasgij Original 31: Safari Surprise!, Destiny 19: The Puzzlers Arms! and Mystery 16: Birthday Surprise!, all across 1,000-piece formats. Complementing the lineup of proven selling formats, Jumbo has re-released the third installments in the Wasgij Retro range (having not been available for over 15 years), with the titles Original 3: Full Monty Fever!, Destiny 3: The Sands of Time! and Mystery 3: Drama at the Opera! in 1,000-pieces. Jumbo’s Falcon de Luxe range adds 10 new editions this January, continuing to cover the traditional and quintessentially much-loved
British themes of Nostalgia, Scenery, Cottages, Animals and Transport, across varying piece counts that are popular with consumers. Key new releases to look out for include; ‘A Summer Evening at the Pub’ 2x500-piece, ‘A Day on the River’, ‘Farmer’s Market’ and ‘The Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage’ 1,000-piece and ‘A Beautiful Summer’s Day’ in a fantastic 2x1000 and ‘Your Favourite Shops’ 4x1000piece box sets. Adding to its hugely popular own-brand comic style puzzles, Jan van Haasteren, Jumbo has released four brand new puzzles for Spring; including the 500XL-Piece ‘The Kitchen’, the 1,000-piece ‘Camping in the Forest’, ‘Acrobat Circus’ and ‘The Pharmacy’ 1,000-piece puzzles, as well as a 1,500-piece ‘Highland Games’ puzzle. All Jumbo’s new puzzle releases for January will be on display at London Toy Fair. January/February 2019 | toy news | 137
LEARNING RESOURCES 0845 241 0484 Learning Resources, the UK’s number one manufacturer of educational toys, will be returning to Toy Fair in 2019 with exciting product developments and launches to enhance its award-winning ranges. Building on the success of Botley The Coding Robot in 2018, the company will introduce, Artie 3000 in 2019. Artie is the new coding and drawing robot that puts children in control. It has a built-in Wifi server and can be used anywhere without requiring an internet connection. The easyto-use drag and drop programming can be used on a Mac, PC or tablet and offers four modes of play; pre-programmed shapes, games, art for colouring and freeform coding. With 360-degree movement - tell Artie to turn right or left, forward or backward or spin in any direction. Four swappable, washable coloured pens are included and the innovative drawing simulator software allows coders to test their ideas before setting Artie down. New for 2019 is the Botley The Coding Robot Action Challenge Accessory Set, an interactive, 40-piece accessory set that includes everything a young coder needs to set up STEM inspired “challenges” to programme Botley through! STEMS is an exciting and truly unique and flexible new construction toy, that stimulates STEM learning through creative construction. Stems’ organic-looking pieces join together along their bobbly spine to create surprising models from bouncing balls to DNA strands. Tactile and brightly coloured, Stems’ possibilities are as unlimited as a child’s ingenuity or imagination. The unique feature about Stems is that there is no one component which is exactly the same shape. Stems suit all ages and abilities appealing to all kinds of learners. Playfoam® Pals Fantasy Friends combine creative play with discovery because all
Playfoam Pals are hidden inside Playfoam; the super-squishy, child friendly, sculpting material that encourages creativity and imagination whilst developing sensory and fine motor skills. Children will love opening the colourful Playfoam Pals Fantasy Friends pods to reveal their magical surprise collectible. Heads and bodies can be mixed and matched for endless character combinations. Each surprise pod includes Playfoam, a mystery Pal and collection checklist. There are 12 pals to collect with a super-rare wizard named Hank to find too. Beaker Creatures are an exciting range of science-themed collectibles that uniquely combine the thrill of collecting with handson science experiments, building skills and sparking curiosity. 2019 sees a number of super fun range additions, including over 30 new characters from five new planets in a completely new series. Children dissolve their reactor pods to reveal their creatures using the Beaker Creatures Lab Set or
using the new for 2019, Beaker Creatures Whirling Wave Reactor or Volcano set. For educational fun outdoors don’t miss the 5-in-1 Outdoor Measure-Mate. Whether configured as a Vertical Measure, Callipers, Trundle Wheel, Spirit Level or Measuring Stick this versatile tool is the perfect way to introduce measurement to young learners in an outdoor setting. Its robust build means that it will cope with vigorous use in in rough terrain and its bright colouring ensures the components will all be returned to its handy mesh bag. Perfect for non-standard measuring or the introduction of standard units the primary aim of the Measure Mate is for young learners to have fun exploring (and measuring) the natural landscape. This fun will be enhanced by the ‘bird footprints’ that the trundle wheel leaves and deciding where to place the whimsical stickers that will customise the MeasureMate. There's plenty to see at Learning Resources' stand this year.
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VIVID TOY GROUP 01483 446 326 Vivid is tapping into the squishes trend further in 2019 with the launch of Splishies – a range of animals with squishy, splishy insides. Available in two sizes - Splishies and the larger Super Splishies - there are seven different characters for kids to collect. Shake, splish and squish them to see the glitter and charms swirl inside their extraordinary splishy bellies. Give them a squeeze to see what’s inside. Supported by an integrated TV, PR and Digital campaign from launch, Series 1 launches in early 2019 with further range intros planned throughout the year. Introducing a new arrival under the successful Animagic interactive plush brand, the My First Puppy collectable range features four pups looking for a new home. Unwrap each to reveal a little surprise puppy complete with nine hidden accessories and contained within a dog carrier which doubles as a cosy pup basket. Meanwhile, Squeezamals introduces wave 2 characters in early 2019. Collectable and sweet-smelling new clip-ons, medium and large versions will launch from early 2019 alongside a new Squeezamals Dessert themed range including clip-on and medium sized cup cake, ice cream, doughnut and more yummy treat styled versions of the hit squishy range. Launched in 2018, the sequined Shimmeez will launch a wave two line up in 2019 with clip-on, 8” and 14”versions of the transforming, customisable plush. New characters in the range will include elephant, sloth and unicorn. 2019 sees the introduction of new Harry Potter Character Collectibles with 36 to collect including limited edition golden Harry Potter and Furry Hedwig versions, single figure blind bags, seven-figure blister packs and a mixture of both common and rare characters to collect.
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Science4 You Encouraging STEM linked learning via educational and fun packed Science based kits for children aged eight and upwards and with a range of accessible price points from £5 to £35 and introductory sets for ages four plus, Science4You is the perfect range to encourage children to discover the wonders of the world around them. 2019 will see the introduction of New Yucky Science, Manicure Factory, Bath Bombs and the Science of Crystals – each packed with multiple experiments to challenge even the most budding Scientist! Crayola Washimals Autumn Winter 2019 will see Crayola launch two brand new playsets into their Washimals range. With the Vet Clinic Playset and Beauty Salon Playsets, kids can play with their cute Washimals pets at home or on the go. With the included Crayola markers, kids can bring their Washimals to life with their own beautiful designs, before cleaning them off. Goliath Games Launching July 2019, Gator Golf is the fun golfing game for children that is sure to deliver giggles time after time. Use the flamingo shaped putter to putt the coloured balls into the gators mouth and watch as it returns the balls. Each ball you putt scores one point. Score four points to win the game. Boomtrix is the new extreme marble track system consisting of towers, trampolines, stunts and a goal. Use your imagination to create the craziest track set-ups using all the components plus you can design a different track every time and share online. Choose from three different starter sets as well as trampoline packs available from July 2019 It's a brimming portolio to look forward to.
Ryan’s World Having recently been appointed as lead toy in the UK for Ryan’s World, Vivid will be launching a toy range inspired by the hugely successful YouTuber in early 2019. Already a huge hit in the US, the Ryan’s World range will include blind bags, squishies, plush, action figures and more. With a variety of content on his channel, Ryan Toys Review, including toy reviews, animation and family vlogs, seven-year-old Ryan has created fun, engaging characters which have their own videos such as Gus the Gummy Gator and Combo Panda. These and other characters - including Ryan’s Super Hero alter ego the Red Titan and Peck the Penguin,will also be featured. Outdoor Award winning Phlat Ball and recently introduced extension to the successful inflatable Wubble line, Super Wubble, will continue to feature as focus items for S/S 2019 within Vivid’s Outdoor range.
CLEMENTONI 0203 383 2020 Clementoni is proud to be showcasing a host of new products for 2019 at the London Toy Fair, putting a strong focus on the infant market with Baby Clementoni as well as the education and development category with new scientific launches. New for 2019 is the Baby Clementoni Llama - A plush pal for babies from six months. It will entertain little ones with lots of sound and light effects and helps development by teaching babies’ letters, numbers and colours. A cute discovery toy that helps baby development in an easy and engaging way. The Interactive Hippo is a brilliant pal for babies aged nine months and upwards. Hippo dances, sings and claps his hands and is packed with interactive features for heaps of fun. It teaches babies their first numbers, colours and animals. Also in the line-up is Turbo Track – the first interactive and talking race track designed for babies. Two interactive cars are included and with fun features such as lap counts, pit stop and overtaking under the bridge, little ones from 10 months will love watching the race. The science category has always been strong for Clementoni with Robotic and Coding kits being top sellers throughout 2018.
STAND: UPPER LEVEL 140 Adding to the range for 2019 is pet_bits – the cool new interactive coding pets that each have their own personality and voice. Four animals to collect – bunny_bit, panda_bit, cat_bit and dog_bit – who all interact when brought together as well as offering great solo play including interactive functions such as hand clap reaction and voice recording and playback. A coding app brings the pet_bits world to life where children can learn all about their _bit and take care of them through three stages of development, using their voice to programme, teach and nurture. For slightly older children, Clementoni is launching the awesome Science Museum Action & Reaction. With this truly unique scientific kit, finding out about the wonders of physics becomes easy and great fun. A science lab packed with special pieces and accessories offering lots of playing options where kids can experiment with gravity, forces and levers. It comes with some scales, a hammer pendulum, slides, towers and lots of other pieces for kids to grow in knowledge as they build ingenious compositions The licensed puzzle range from Clementoni continues to be a strong foundation of the business and new launches for children are tied into popular licenses including the anticipated 2019 cinematic releases of Frozen 2 and Toy Story 4.
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accents such as Dracula and Surf Dude! The number of Film quotes has doubled and are now housed in their very own mini box for ease of use. In addition, 2018 launch FReNeTiC is back at Toy Fair - FReNeTiC™ is the fast and furious new word game with a scientific twist - it uses element symbols of the Periodic Table. Players race against the clock to form as many words as possible using the Element symbol tiles, and score points equivalent to the atomic numbers of each tile used to create the word. For example Ba Na Na = Banana = 78 points. The first player to 1000 points wins! FReNeTiC has been enthusiastically received in 2018 winning ‘Best Family Game’ in the Mums Choice Awards, The Toy Shop Silver Medal Award in the Board Games category, as well as securing a ‘Recommended’ status from The Good Toy Guide.
firstname.lastname@example.org Sibling inventors, Graeme and Fiona FraserBell, the duo behind the-hilarious-guess-theaccent game, Accentuate, are preparing their return to London Toy Fair with new games and aims to strengthen their portfolio on a global scale. Joining up with a new game designer, strategic card game, Rats to Riches, is the first creation from Singaporean student Eugene Lim. Based on the financial ‘Rat Race’, Rats to Riches casts every player as a filthy, scheming rat. They all race to collect 100 coins and work their way to a better class of sewer, by investing in assets, hiring gangsters and – of course – stealing whatever they can. Joining Rats to Riches, the team listened to its fans and a new version of hugely popular Accentuate will make its debut at Toy Fair. The number of accents has increased from 30 to 40 with the addition of some fun character
MAGIC BOX TOYS 01403 251286 Magic Box Toys, the specialists behind Star Monsters, Zomlings and SuperZings, is planning a third series of SuperZings, plus the launch of a new emotions-based
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collectible IP in 2019, called MojiPops, and it couldn't be more excited. Hitting shelves on February 8th 2019 following a successful Series 2 launch in September, the brand continues to evolve for Series 3 with innovative new additions to the line-up. SuperZings Series 3 maintains the popular ‘hero vs villain’ format of the previous two series using everyday objects
and food as collectible characters. Hideouts have been given a premium overhaul for Series 3 in the form of Kaboom Blasters which make SuperHero or Villainous sound effects. SuperZings Super Slider vehicles also get an upgrade for Series 3. MojiPops Series 1 is made up of everyday objects brought to life as unique, funloving characters with an array of colourful emotions based on emoticons. From an ice cream to a cactus, each blind-bagged character has a removeable doublesided face: flip it over to switch between emoticon-based expressions depicting a variety of sentiments, or even swap faces completely with another character in the collection. Children can switch their character’s mood from sleepy to happy, sad to cool and there are plenty to collect.
CHARACTER OPTIONS 0161 633 9800 Character Options is presenting a mass of powerhouse brands on the company’s largest ever Toy Fair Stand including lots of surprises in the company’s pre-school portfolio. Teletubbies is a property adored by the under three year olds and trusted by parents with a brand theme underpinned by its delightful learning through play concept. Character’s own Teletubbies adventure is now entering its fourth year with plush toys continuing to be the mainstay of the collection. The eight-inch Talking Soft Toys and Supersoft Collectables create volume sales as all four characters are often bought, while feature plush toys such as Lullaby Laa-Laa and Jumping Po make the perfect one-off gift. Added to this are the adorable Tiddlytubbies available as handy Clip-on Soft Toys, cuddly Giggling Plush and an interactive Shuffle ‘n’ Giggle line to encourage play and movement. With different Tiddlytubbies being added into the collection for 2019 little ones and parents will be spoilt for choice. Nursery buyers are also in for a treat with the new Teletubbies Nursery Range – with Stacking Po, Jiggler Laa-Laa and Sensory Tinky Winky all featuring multitextured materials, engaging patterns and gentle chimes to develop and encourage tactile awareness and exploration from an early age. With 15 years to celebrate, 2019 is a landmark year for Peppa Pig. One such celebration has been the launch of Peppa’s Secret Surprise. These peel-and-reveal toys will bring innovation to the pre-school category and hold six surprises within drawers to unbox. Each box includes a figure in glittery party outfit, as well as accessories, party gift and stickers or gems. The first series is based on Peppa’s Party and new waves will follow throughout the year. Not to be missed will be Peppa’s Theatre Playset which brings a whole new play pattern to the toy range. The curtained stage comes with three reversible back drop cards. The pull-out stage floor has sound effects such as music, applause and laughter while separate theatre seating is ready to be filled with an audience. Every stage needs actors and props, so themed figures and cut out scenes are also included to inspire budding Peppa playwrights. Also new in autumn will be the most luxurious dwelling for Peppa with the launch of The Deluxe Wooden Family Home. This three-storey wooden house stands 2.5 feet tall and has a different back drop in every room including the attic. There are a host of features and accessories included and even a garden area to enjoy the great outdoors. (Please note same text as before so the changes you make on the toy world piece I will make to this) Also new for pre-school comes the enchanting Flipazoo brand. An imagination-inspiring range of both plush and tactile plastic playsets. Quirky, cuddly and loveable animal plush with a clever twist – ‘flip’ your Elephant to see him transform into a Tiger or watch as your snappy croc ‘flips’ into a grizzly bear! Available in both eight Inch and 16 Inch scale this range is not to be missed.
Adding to the collection is a range of feature packed scaled Flipazoo plastic playsets from quirky Flipazoo mini characters and pocket-sized flip-pods to a deluxe Safari Camper Van which transforms from chunky vehicle to playset complete with vineleaf swings and a fun helter-skelter slide for your Flipazoo mini character. Hours of imaginative play all aimed at a key pre-school play pattern. This is just a taste of what’s to come from Character Options this year, for more information visit the stand – E119 at Toy Fair or call 0161 633 9800 to speak to the sales team.
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Industry moves We kickstart the year with a sweep of new moves among the sector. Interplay welcomes a new MD while bidding farewell to an industry favourite, while both University Games and Vivid UK detail restructuring for 2019 growth plans KIDKRAFT
INTERPLAY UK It looking to be a busy year for the UK toy company as it readies itself for growth on an international scale following the recent alignment with its parent company PlayMonster. Among the new structure of the business is news that ADRIAN WHYLES has been named managing director of the UK outfit. A highly regarded and successful industry veteran, Whyles boasts an extensive background in both toys and games, spanning over 30 years that has seen him work with brands Hasbro and most recently University Games UK. The moves comes as PlayMonster implements its new growth strategy
having acquired Interplay UK in November last year. Bob Wann, chief PlayMonster has highlighted the company’s ambitions while welcoming Whyles to the new role. SALLY WALKER will continue in her consultancy role with the UK toy business. Amid the changes, the company’s respected sales director NANCY DAVIES is moving on to new ventures. After more that 20 years at the firm working to build the business across the UK and international markets, she has decided to take on new challenges in her career. Davies has lent an incredible support to facilitate the smooth nine month transition of the Interplay business to the PlayMonster family. CEO, Wann has thanked Davies for her dedication.
Former Mattel executive GEOFF WALKER has been named the president and chief executive officer of the international toy maker, KidKraft. In his new role, Walker will utilise his 20 years experience of the toy industry and will serve as a member of the company’s board of directors. Walker is a former Mattel executive whose career includes global leadership with management positions across the US and Europe and overseeing the growth in multiple global brands such as Hot Wheels and Fisher-Price. Walker will now go on to help KidKraft expand internationally as it continues to build on its 50 year legacy in the toy and juvenile product industry. He has been welcomed to the KidKraft team. UNIVERSITY GAMES RICHARD WELLS has been named the managing director of the merged University Games UK business effective from April 1st this year. This arrives as part of University Games' recent alignment of its UK operations with Paul Lamond Games. From February 1st, sales to independent stores will be
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will be managed by the Paul Lamond Games sales force for all University Games products. Of the move, Wells said: “For our fantastic direct sales team, this provides a wonderful opportunity to offer our independent account base some top selling additional games brands, with great games like Googly Eyes, Pointless and Smart Ass. University Games’ lines perfectly compliment Paul Lamond’s comprehensive range of games and puzzles.” VIVID UK Goliath has promoted NICK THOMAS to the role of general manager for Vivid UK. The industry personality has enjoyed many senior management positions during his career at the company, most recently as commercial director and is looking forward to the new role managing the UK operation of Goliath. Thomas will report into the group CEO, Jochanan Golad. He will be responsible for all aspects of running the UK market supported by divisional sales directors GERBIE QUILTER and STEVE ALEXANDER along with EMMA WEBER, LEON JARMOLOWICZ and DARRELL JONES responsible for marketing. “Following the acquisition of Vivid by Goliath, we have an incredibly exciting future ahead building on a strong toy, Crayola and Games portfolio. Retailers will see the new ranges at Toy Fair with over 20 new Goliath games. GENERATION MEDIA The company has appointed GRETA BISETTO-DONELAN as its new associate director. Greta joins the expanding team at Generation Media as it builds on its reputation as the leading specialist in family, children’s and youth media and marketing communication solutions. Managing director, LISA MORGAN has welcomed the new staff
member, stating that the team is very excited to have her on board. “Her previous experience at Warner Brothers, Turner and more recently Viacom helps us meet the ever-evolving needs of our clients and prospects,” said Morgan. “She brings with her a wealth of knowledge in partnerships, content and business development that complements our current offer. Having worked with Greta on a number of projects over the years we look forward to having her passion, drive and energy within our agency.” Bisetto-Donelan, added: “Having worked with Generation Media from the media owner side, I very much look forward to joining such a dynamic and ambitious team. They have achieved a great deal over the past 10 years and I look forward to helping write the next chapter in the company’s history." SV COMMS Toy industry PR specialist SIMON VALINS has launched a new communications consultancy in the shape of SV Comms. The outfit has been created as a specialist support service to the toy trade offering PR, social media, event management, digital marketing, creative services, copywriting and marketing consultancy. Valins boasts extensive experience working with the likes of Revell GmbH, Cartamundi UK and Hy-Pro International over the last decade as managing director of Fizz Communications. WWE WWE has appointed a new senior vice president of consumer products in the form of SARAH CUMMINS. In her new role, Cummins will be responsible for overseeing the implementation of WWE’s global consumer products business, including licensing, e-commerce, venue sales, home enter-
tainment and publishing. She will report directly to WWE chief marketing and communications officer, Brian Flinn. She brings more than 25 years of marketing, licensing, media and business development experience to the post. Prior to joining WWE, Cummins was head of business development and strategic partnerships at New York Road Runners, Inc., where she led the firm's sponsorship, media distribution and licensing efforts. She has also spent more than 15 years at the United States Tennis Association (USTA), most recently as managing director, where she oversaw retail development and operations for the US Open Tennis Championships. SV COMMS Entertainment One has detailed a slew of new hires at its recently launched Shanghai office as it strengthens its global infrastructure. The move is part of eOne's continued plans to extend the reach of its growing portfolio of successful pre-school properties across China. Two new leadership positions have been appointed to the Shanghai office, effective January 2, 2019. They now work alongside the existing Shanghai-based brand protection team and existing locally appointed agents. Heading up the consumer products team, PENCHONG XU has been appointed as Vice President – China, Licensing, Family & Brands. In his new role, XU will lead the commercial team tasked with driving merchandise sales across eOne’s growing brand portfolio. Meanwhile, FRIDA ZHANG joins as Vice President – China, Marketing, Family & Brands. A highly experienced brand marketer with 20 years of experience who has held positions at Mattel, SC Johnson, L’Oreal and Coca-Cola, Zhang has expertise across brand management, marketing communication, commercial strategy, and franchise building. January/February 2019 | toy news | 145
Getting to know…
Wild Card Games
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He’s a returning favourite of the Toy Fair season and for Sean Byrne, business really does seem to be flying. We thought it was high time you all got to know him a little better…
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e started out in the toy industry in 2005. My wife and I quit our jobs and travelled the world for two years. During that time we spent a lot of evenings playing card games with other travellers over a beer. This was where I realised that there were no portable games about travelling as they are all board games, so I decided to invent a game to fill that gap, and came up with Backpacker - the Ultimate Travel Game. Our background in retail, marketing, new product development and market research means that all our games are based on identified gaps in the market. We are always adding new lines like 1st to Worst and Guessed List. Several of our products like Ski Run or Astronauts are targeted at niches. We are on a mission to create games that promote sub-conscious learning through play. We have really started to see some success with our lines now. We had another great sales year last year and we are rapidly approaching the £6 million in UK retail sales mark. We have signed new key accounts with large retailers and started supplying several new independents. Maponimoes is our biggest selling game while Who Knows Where, Backpacker, Frenzi and Ski Run are also proven top-sellers in leading retailers. I am from a family of game players. I had the idea that filled that gap in the market and
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146 | toy news | January/February 2019
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combined by two loves of travel and games. From there I invented Backpacker. I like the question ‘If I was trapped in a lift, how would I pass the time?'… Assuming there are other people in there with me, I would play 1st to Worst, which is a great ‘how well do I know you’ or ‘getting to know you’ party game for families, friends, couples and even new acquaintances. Based on all the classic conversations people have about preferences and who or what is the best. The aim of the game is to correctly guess another player’s order of preference from three choices - it can cause quite the conversation. If I was on my own though, I would use the time to think of a new game idea. Maybe one about escaping from a trapped lift.
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