Helping everyone sell more
r 2020 e b m Septe No. 8 9 Vol. 3
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Regular 5 Leader – with Mark Naish 6 News – the latest toy industry headlines
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9 Coffee Break – Marketing Manager Paul Dearlove talks Schleich at 85 10 Exhibition News – the latest from the industry events calendar 11 People News – industry movers and shakers
Chairman Malcolm Naish firstname.lastname@example.org
Managing Director Mark Naish email@example.com
12 Licensing News – the latest on licensed products 14 Media News – the multimedia rundown 18 Retail News – the latest from the retail landscape 24 Toy Talk – retailers let us know what is selling well 26 TnP Ambassadors – our tiny testers try out products
34 What’s New – new products that you need to get your hands on
Georgie Dobie firstname.lastname@example.org
70 Step Back in Time – a slice of toy history from the industry’s longest running magazine
Advertisement Manager Athee Waran email@example.com
Sales Simon Davis firstname.lastname@example.org
Writer Naomi MacKay email@example.com
Digital Publisher Mirella Anstey firstname.lastname@example.org
Digital Editor Rhys Thomas email@example.com
Production Director Paul Naish firstname.lastname@example.org
Circulation Manager Robert Thomas email@example.com
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At the heart of retail
A member of the Audit Bureau of Circulation
Independently audited ABC circulation of 4,768
1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019
71 Don’t Miss – unmissable products for all buyers and retailers
Features 36 Games and Puzzles – a steadfast and reliable category gets a boost over lockdown – and looks on for another winning quarter in the run up to Christmas 58 Q4 Campaigns – late-year advertising got off to a flying start as early as August, in what will be an exciting year for Christmas toy advertising 66 Festival of Licensing – Anna Knight shares more about the virtual BLE replacement event, and exhibitors share why taking part is so important
17 Cover Story – Bandai takes us down the catwalk with the latest from its en vogue arts and crafts line, Harumika 20 Retail Interview – You Garden plants new roots in the toy trade 12 Toys as therapy tools – Dr Maryhan Baker opines evangelises the true power of toys and play in overcoming children’s social anxiety
Columnists 15 Media Analysis – Insight from Generation Media 16 Retail Opinion – John Ryan feels a road trip coming on 22 The Independent/Secret Supplier – Our dynamic duo talk getting back to it 57 Gaining Insight – Kids Insights looks at how social media stars are driving merch
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FOR SALES AND ENQUIRIES CALL HASBRO ON 0208 569 1234 © 2020 Hasbro. All Rights Reserved.
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Don’t miss Bandai’s cover story, p.17
nd so the toy industry rockets towards the fourth all-important quarter of business, with equal amounts enthusiasm, uncertainty and grit. Those businesses that continue to flourish in our trade look very different compared to this time last year. Some indie retailers became true omni-channel operations in the past 12 months, opening ecommerce websites and offering everything from giftwrapping and home delivery to keep shops open and serve their loyal locals. Other retailers, like online garden centre You Garden, broke into toys for the very first time to expand their appeal – you can read more about that on page 19. On the supplier side, their have been casualties. But in the main, toy companies are embracing the changes in the world, and continue to do what they excel at: putting smiles on kids’ faces, even during times of upheaval. In the world of advertising, which at this time of the year becomes vital for the toy trade, savvy companies went early with their campaigns to attract the attention of staycationers and those spending more time than ever at home watching their favourite content. Suppliers tell us how they adapted on page 58. Meanwhile TikTok, not just TV, has become the new shop window through which toy makers and distributors can promote their latest and greatest. There are dozens of mentions of the video app in this issue alone – and plenty of insight about its quirks and
At the heart of retail Also by Lema Publishing
intricacies from Mark our regular expert Naish columnists. As we ramp up to the end of the year, it’s heartening to see both London Toy Fair and Nuremberg’s Spielwarenmesse are still set to go ahead. Both sets of organisers are working hard to ensure that business can continue as unaffected as possible, with the health and safety of everyone involved at the forefront. Asmodee has had success with its very first virtual trade show, and will follow up in early October with a second. And DreamToys will for the first time eschew the usual media and supplier meet-up in favour of a digital reveal. I’m sure they will make the event a success – and my waistline will thank me for being unable to indulge in the mince pies and Christmas pud generously served up to us at the annual event. But there is nothing quite like feeling the weight and build quality of a toy in person. It’s why even though video conferencing and digital meetups have been simple enough to do for many years, we continue to rely on tradeshows for the human element they offer. As Spielwarenmesse’s Ernst Kick rightly says, “trade fairs are more important than ever… Particularly in our industry, they are an indispensable driver of growth.” I’d also like to wish the very best to our now former editor Georgie, who has pivoted into PR over at toy and kids’ specialist Evolution PR. Georgie ably oversaw the magazine through a period of flux in the industry, and I’m sure will continue to grow in the coming years from the other side of the media-PR relationship. In additon, Rhys is moving onto pastures new, taking on a major role at another media company not associated with the trade - though you may well see him at events on the occasion we need an extra pair of hands. Rhys says: “Thanks to everyone over the years who invited me on their Toy Fair stand for the Daily Paper, only to be left scrambling to fix a prototype or re-arrange a display after a photoshoot. And to those who’ve posed for snaps at award dos, shared their insights for features, and stitched me up by nominating me to dance or demo at a product launch.”
Toy companies are embracing the changes in the world, and continue to do what they excel at: putting smiles on kids’ faces
Plans are well underway to ensure Toy Fair returns in January
NEWS Rubies merges with Bristol Novelty Rubies Masquerade Co. is to merge with Bristol Novelty, combining the firms’ product lines, operations and office functions. The process will be overseen by Rubies’ COO Mike O’Connell, who has already been instrumental in restructuring Bristol Novelty and rolling Mask-arade into the business earlier this year. The merger aims to make ordering across the portfolio a seamless and transparent process. Peter Warton, Executive Director, Rubies, explained: “The new Rubies ecommerce trade website that launched on 19 July marks the beginning of our transition to ecommerce and tech-led partner engagement… “Forward ordering, fulfilment services and bulk order upload are just a few of the great tools now available to all our customers. Add to that an effective window into all corners of Rubies consolidated group product warehouses. The entire portfolio is at your fingertips.” Rubies also said goodbye to MD Holly Oldham, who has held numerous senior positions at the dress-up giant. “We of course thank her for her significant efforts,” Peter said, describing Holly as “gifted”, “talented” and a “sharp wit”. “Rubies wishes her well for the future,” he added.
Asmodee hosts Thieves target virtual trade show Fiesta Crafts Asmodee’s solution to a lack of physical events was to host its first-ever virtual trade show in early September, and will follow up with a second in October. Buyers were offered the chance to book a remote tour of Asmodee’s showroom as part of the AsmoFair event, with members of the company’s sales team introducing a variety of new and can’t-miss products.
The Toy Barnhaus team were among those to take advantage of the first event, calling it “a fantastic virtual alternative to a physical show with the same great and exclusive offers for customers”. AsmoFair Part II will run from Sunday 4 to Wednesday 7 October, making it a fantastic opportunity for those who were unable to attend the first event to discover Asmodee’s range of bestin-class board games – including a look at what’s next for Dobble and the Pokémon Trading Card Game.
Unscrupulous thieves broke into the Fiesta Crafts head office and stole thousands of pounds worth of equipment. The criminals trashed the offices in Waltham Abbey, before making off with laptops, Mac computers and other valuable tech equipment. Fiesta Crafts MD Andrew Bacon said: “2020 has been extremely hard for everyone in the toy industry, and this has happened just as things were starting to look more positive. “Our small team work incredibly hard and have continued to do so throughout the pandemic and so we want to assure customers that while equipment has been stolen, we will continue to provide the service we take pride in as we get back to normal.” Despite the burglary, Fiesta Crafts is looking forward to a strong Q4, with a number of new lines launching, and plenty of PR and social media support throughout the key quarter.
Ian Edmunds departs Toymaster Ian Edmunds has stepped down as Managing Director of Toymaster and will leave the buying group after more than 20 years. Toymaster chairman Chris Blatcher shared the news with members in an email. “I am sure that Toymaster member, suppliers and staff will join me in thanking Ian for over 20 years of dedicated service to the group and toy industry in general. “On a personal note, I should like to thank Ian for the support he has given me over many years as chairman of Toymaster’s marketing committee and as director of Toymaster. On behalf of Toymaster Ltd I should like to wish Ian every success in the future.” In the short-term Yogi Parmar and Colin Farrow, who have both served Toymaster in a variety of key roles for the past 30 years, will take over as interim joint Managing Directors. They will also continue with their current responsibilities. Paul Reader, another Toymaster veteran of 20 years, has also been promoted to Marketing Director, alongside his current responsibilities.
Funko chooses Pikachu Funko is partnering with The Pokémon Company International to launch the very first Pokémon Pop! Vinyl figures in the UK. The collaboration kicks off later this year with the launch of Pikachu and Bulbasaur Pop! Vinyl figures from October, with further additions to follow in 2021. “One of the most exciting new opportunities for Funko this side of the Atlantic, we are beyond delighted to bring the Pokémon Pop! Vinyl line to life for our European fans,” says Andy Oddie, Managing Director of Funko EMEA. “This is just the beginning – watch this space.” Mathieu Galante, Licensing Director at The Pokémon Company International EMEA adds: “Both Pokémon and Funko are iconic pop culture brands and as such are thrilled that this collaboration will, for the first time, provide fans across Europe the opportunity to add a new dimension to their Pokémon experience.” The Pikachu and Bulbasaur Pop! Vinyl figures will also be available to purchase from October in Italy, France, Germany, Spain and the Nordics.
IKEA joins US Toy Association IKEA has become the latest member of the US Toy Association, joining nearly 1000 manufacturers, distributors and retailers that make up the organisation. The Swedish retail giant has worked alongside the Toy Association for many years on issues and committees related to product safety. Ken Ebeling, Executive Vice President of Strategic Development and member services at The Toy Associationm, said: “We are proud to welcome IKEA to The Toy Association family as we continue our work together to ensure the wellbeing and safety of children around the world.”
ToyAid raises MGA opens new whopping £140,000 Europe offices ToyAid has thanked the toy trade for helping raise more than £140,000 for charities in just six weeks. The charitable organisation, setup by KidsKnowBest’s Joel Silverman and Wow! Stuff’s Richard North, collected funds from across the toy and kids’ entertainment industries, with support from licensing industry charity The Light Fund. “With more than £140,000 raised in just six weeks, the industry can be duly proud of the part it played at the peak of the pandemic when so many of your own businesses were suffering too,” said Richard. The funds will go to charities addressing extreme poverty, helping to support those in crises, in need of shelter, food and other basics. “Global Media’s Make Some Noise charity was chosen by ToyAid because of its targeted approach to families and children,” said Joel. “Global has now started releasing the funding from their own Emergency Appeal that began back in June and has so far raised £1.7m and thanks to initiatives like ToyAid, that number is still rising.”
MGA Entertainment is bringing representation and sales for its portfolio across southern Europe in-house, with a three regional oﬃces opening in France, Italy and Spain. The new bases of operation will support MGA’s “new strategic direction”, according to CEO and founder Isaac Larian. “MGAE continues to see significant growth in our international territories, and this new strategic direction will help to deepen our reach and bring us closer to our business goals while also providing direct support to retailers in the region.” The local oﬃces will be run by experienced toy veterans. Mila Gonzalez, the former Sales and Marketing Director for Bandai, will head up Iberia, while Thierry Thivolle, the former Managing Director for Schleich and Melissa & Doug, takes the reins in France. In Italy, Mattel’s former Country Manager Filippo Agnello heads up operations.
TRENDS: CHARACTER LICENSES BOUNCE BACK With Christmas peaking over the horizon, character licensed collectables, plush and action ﬁgures are expected to see a resurgence in Q4, says the US Toy Association’s Kristin Morency Goldman The first half of the year saw parent-driven purchases impacting global toy sales, with moms and dads primarily buying educational and active playthings as they juggled homeschooling and entertaining their kids stuck at home amid the pandemic. Looking ahead to fourth quarter, trend experts at The U.S. Toy Association are expecting a resurgence of formerly
With the holidays coming up, kids will be asking for more characterdriven products
popular categories – like collectibles, plush, action figures, and dolls – as kids begin making their holida y wish lists. “With the holidays coming up, kids will be asking for more character-
driven products based on their favorite entertainment properties, as well as more interactive plush and action figures, customizable dolls, and unboxing collectibles,” said Adrienne Appell, trend expert at the U.S. Toy Association. “A lot of what we saw at Toy Fair New York in February will be on kids’ wish lists as parents move from purely functional and practical purchases to playthings that pack in a lot of entertainment value for kids.” One of Harry Potter’s best friends, Hermione Granger (McFarlane Toys), is a smart and studious pupil with
“Stronger than expected” Spin Master posted “stronger than expected” results for Q2. Total revenue for the quarter declined just 12.4 per cent from $281.1m to $321m, compared with the same period last year. Meanwhile, gross product sales decreased by 10.9 per cent to $282.2m from $316.8m in 2019. Gross product sales in activities, games and puzzle, and plush increased by $15.4m to $95.5m, a rise of 19.2 per cent YoY for the same period, following the wider upward trend for the category. But boys action and construction segments plummeted by 30.5 per cent, and pre-school and girls decreased by $22.1m to $74.3m, a drop of 22.9 per cent. Spin Master’s co-CEO Ronnen Harary said: “We are incredibly proud of the global Spin Master team, who remained focused on driving improvements across the company, while also managing through the complexity of Covid-19 for the full quarter. “Looking forward, global economies are reopening but risk remains elevated, and we are taking a cautiously optimistic approach to the second half. New opportunities continue to emerge, and we are prepared to take advantage as they arise.”
John Lewis’ festive picks Scooters made from recycled fishing nets and classic board game Monopoly feature prominently in John Lewis’ sustainable and nostalgia-tinged top toys for Christmas 2020 list. Lockdown forcing children to play in smaller social groups has dramatically impacted the types of toys parents are looking for, the retailer revealed. The department store’s buying team believes parents’ toy buying choices this festive season will be “driven by the importance of learning through play and enhancing communication skills through interaction with toys”. John Lewis Toy Buyer Rachel Larkman adds: “We have seen incredible demand for outdoor games during lockdown, and believe this trend will continue through to next year.” As with other retailers’ predictions,
quick-thinking and impressive magic skills. This detailed 7-inch scale figure features Hermione in her outfit from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 and comes with a base, background artwork, an iconic wand, and Hermione’s Otter Patronus. The Star Wars Chewbacca Pillow from Pillow Pets (CJ Products) is a soft and cozy plush that converts into a pillow for reading, studying, or sleeping. Pairs great with the R2-D2 Sleeptime Lite, a night light and plush toy in one based on the beloved Star Wars droid, that projects stars onto the ceiling in three color modes. Simba Cub (Folkmanis) is based on the feisty, determined cub from Disney’s The Lion King, allowing
nostalgic parents will also be reaching for familiar favourites and toys that remind them of their childhoods. “We’ve also seen a nod to nostalgia with traditional board games making a comeback such as Monopoly proving particularly popular as families make time to play together,” Rachel says. John Lewis and Partners’ Top 10 Toys for Christmas 2020 • Micro Recycled Scooter • BRIO Smart Tech Sound • Botley 2.0 • I Heard Your Feelings conversation cards • Earth Heroes children’s book • VTech Feathers and Feelings Peacock Collectors Doll • LEGO Gingerbread House • Wooden Baby Walker and Bricks •Monopoly Mega Edition Exclusive
kids to celebrate the “circle of life” with a beautiful detailed puppet, transporting them to the Pride Lands for adventures of the imagination. The Fisher-Price Imaginext DC Super Friends Super Surround Batcave (Mattel, Inc.) is the largest, most interactive Batcave within the world of Imaginext and includes multi-color LEDs and five exclusive figures, as well as features like an elevator, landing pad, eight tool accessories, a removable projectile launcher, four projectiles, two speakers, and more. These are just a few examples of what’s trending. Visit ToyAssociation. org/Trends to learn more.
Coffee Break Paul Dearlove, Marketing Manager, Schleich UK & Ireland talks anniversary celebrations and thriving under lockdown It’s a special year for Schleich, as the company marks its 85th anniversary. What anniversary product can we expect to see? Whilst launching close to 85 new products this year, undoubtedly the hero anniversary product is the limitededition Golden Lion figure, with his glittering mane and 85 motif. It also neatly encapsulates the pride of the Schleich workforce, and was created after all employees were given an opportunity to submit their own drawings of what they would like to see commemorate this special occasion. And do you have any activities planned to celebrate? The Golden Lion figure has been made available exclusively to our retailers through the 85th Anniversary FSDU, so it truly has been a limited-edition and much sought-after item. Early feedback is that it has been selling out very quickly! While some physical celebrations have been affected, we have had a lot of fun with various activities on social media, including a collaboration with celebrity influencer Teddy the Shetland pony dressed as a lion. What are the milestones in Schleich’s 85-year history that have made it the company it is today? The Schleich brand has certainly come a long way from the velvet-covered dolls made of wire and wood! There have been many great moments along the way, including the launch of the world-famous blue Smurfs in 1965, and the introduction of animal figures in the 1980s, which have formed the core business ever since. In more recent times arguably one of the most significant advances have been the addition of playsets, which massively expand the popularity and storytelling value of the brand. And looking ahead, what bigger plans does Schleich have? Schleich’s growth ambitions remain incredibly positive and focused. We have major new product launches for 2021 across all the brand’s six key play worlds, new packaging formats to appeal to different distribution channels, and new collectables ranges. We’ll also continue to invest in digital advances in POS, apps, and marketing activities. Is there anything else that you’d like to add? Whilst this has been such a challenging year, the Schleich brand has proved itself to be incredibly resilient. If you had told us back in March, when the world started to unravel, that we would go on to achieve our highest-ever NPD ranking of 35 for July, then we would have certainly taken that!
Pop! goes the record Created from 8,600 Pop! Vinyl figures, over the course of 16 hours, the world’s largest mosaic Guinness World Record is now held by Funko.
The show will go on Toy Fair 2021 will go ahead as planned in January, with full health and safety measures in place to protect all those visiting Olympia, the BTHA has confirmed. Organisers say their number on aim is to “create another strong platform for the industry to do successful business within a safe and secure environment”. All efforts have been made to support toy businesses with effective social distancing and hygiene, systems in place to control the flow of attendees, and plans to react to the situation as it evolves. Current unknowns, including the amount of people allowed inside the venue and external forces tied to the R rate, remain concerns and are “still being discussed and determined”, admits Majen Immink, Director of Fairs and Special Events at the BTHA. “The full Exhibitor Manual with show guidelines, rules and regulations, and full supplier contact information will be published in September, but we are here in the meantime to answer questions as best as we can with the information we currently have,” Majen adds.
Key issues To ensure Toy Fair is safe and successful, the BTHA is monitoring and working on: • Fluctuation in the R rate • Test and trace efficacy • Success of pilot events in October • Evolving government guidelines
Nuremberg 2021 will go ahead Organisers of Nuremberg Toy Fair reiterated they are “doing all we can” to ensure Spielwarenmesse 2021 goes ahead as planned. The European toy event is due to take place 27-31 January 2021, with new health and safety rules developed in partnership with the Bavarian State Government to minimise the risk of infection for attendees and exhibitors. Almost 90 per cent of exhibitors have rebooked their space and begun the process of planning their showcase around the social distancing guidelines. Medical professionals will be on site to check temperatures, administer emergency aid and ensure all attendees are fit to walk the show. “In all our efforts to stage Spielwarenmesse 2021, the health and safety of the participants is our top priority,” said Ernst Kick, chief exectuive of Spielwarenmesse eG, who believes “trade fairs are more important than ever”. “Particularly in our industry, they are an indispensable driver of growth,” he added. “That is why we’re doing all we can to stage Spielwarenmesse 2021 – the most important industry hub of the year – whilst ensuring that it is as safe and enjoyable as possible.”
“We know that most exhibitors will not start designing their stand until the autumn and this we advise would be sensible this year given that the guidelines on what is and isn’t permitted is not yet finalised and is potentially subject to change.” In the event of a general cancellation of Toy Fair 2021, exhibitors will be reimbursed payments for stand space.
Toy Fair New York postponed Toy Fair New York 2021 has been postponed and will no longer take place in its traditional February timeslot. The US Toy Association, which organises the event each year, instead hopes to work with members on developing a “Toy Fair offering” to take place later in the spring. The cancellation of the annual event also means a change to next year’s Toy of the Year Awards. For the first time the prestigious awards, as well as the Hall of Fame induction, will go virtual for the first time. Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of the Toy The Toy of the Year Awards will stream Association, admitted that while exhibitors “rely upon live on Friday 12 February 2021 and, for these shows for the essential business, financial, and the first time, will be opened up to the media value they provide”, the health and safety of all public. Toy fans of all ages will be able involved “must come first”. to watch along with this year’s awards The Toy Association hopes to share more concrete ceremony, which until now was closeddetails, including a date, on a replacement event later this year. The Toy Association is confident Toy Fair door, industry-only event. New York will return in the expanded Javits Center in A wider audience will offer sponsors February 2022. greater exposure. News of postponement in the big apple follows the Nominations are now closed, and cancellation of Toy Fair Dallas. Due to take place this finalists will be announced on 26 October. October, it will now return in 2021.
TOTYs go virtual
DreamToys goes digial The Toy Retailers Association and DreamToys committee are taking DreamToys digital for 2020. “Due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK, it is not possible to hold a large-scale physical event to announce the DreamToys list,” confirmed Gary Grant, chair of the DreamToys selection committee. “Instead, this year’s list will be announced in a new exciting digital format on Tuesday 10 November 2020. “2020 has been a challenging year for all, but toys have managed to bring entertainment to many in lockdown. We hope DreamToys will bring some festive joy when it is most needed.” DreamToys is organised by the Toy Retailers Association and is the most authoritative predictive list of what will be hottest products this Christmas. The list is selected by a panel of retailers and industry experts .
AIS show cancelled The AIS group has been forced to cancel its rescheduled Independent Toy and Gift Show due to government covid-19 guidelines. PlaY-room, the buying group’s toy division, postponed its April show until 29-30 September in the hopes business would be back to relative normality. But the ongoing impact of covid-19 led the government to ban all such events until 1 October at the earliest. Several of the group’s buying events have been pushed back further to meet this deadline, but, lead times being what they are in the toy industry make this an impossibility for the Independent Toy and Gift Show. “It is with great regret that we have had to cancel this event as we wanted to assist the independents with their critical fourth quarter of trading by providing a platform for them to meet with key suppliers,” said Miles Penhallow, Head of Toys and Children’s Gifts at AIS, who retires later this month. The group says that it now looks forward to welcoming members, suppliers and visitors to its 2021 Independent Toy and Gift Show, which is due to take place on 13 and 14 April 2020.
NEWS Generation Media grows entertainment team Hamleys CEO steps down Hamleys’ CEO has resigned after just seven months with the historic toy retailer. David Smith, a former Debenhams and The Body Shop executive, took up the post in January and departed at the end of August, making his the latest in a string of short-lived stints at the retailer’s reins. He was recruited to by Reliance Industries, the Indian conglomerate which acquired Hamleys for £70m cash last spring, to turn the business around and reinvigorate Hamleys following a downturn in profits and a lossmaking FY 2017. At the time of Smith’s appointment, Reliance CEO Darshan Mehta said the plan was to make Hamleys the “toy retailing reference point in the world” within the next two years.
Changes at Interplay Interplay UK has announced a raft of new recruits and promotions. The company says its investment in new talent, many of whom Interplay UK’s new sales recruits are: Mark Murray, UK Sales Manager; Jenny Hodges, National Account Manager; and Alison Clapcott, Sales Administrator. Karen Patterson has also been promoted to National Accounts Manager. Justin Clasby, formerly at Hasbro and LEGO, also joins the company as Senior Marketing Manager. Graham Jacob joins as Operations Manager. Meanwhile former University Games executive Matthew Kirsch will take over from retiring Barry Hine as Finance Director.
Emma hops to Toynamics Toynamics UK & Ireland has appointed Emma Finch as National Account Manager. Emma joins from Skip Hop, which recently appointed Toynamics as its exclusive distributor across the UK, Ireland, Germany and Austria. The distribution agreement was finalised in June, with Toynamics beginning to sell Skip Hop lines from this month. In her new role, Emma’s familiarity with Skip Hop’s offering, and broader experience in the nursery industry, will be put to use spearheading sales of Skip Hop and Hape ranges. Toynamics MD David Allan says: “I am delighted to welcome Emma into the Toynamics team”.
Generation Media has welcomed Charlotte Brehaut as the latest Content Specialist to join its expanding entertainment team. Charlotte brings experience from ITN and Good Morning Britain, which will “contribute to meeting the evolving needs of our clients and prospects in the content space,” says Lisa Morgan, Generation Media’s MD. “She brings with her a wealth of knowledge in content production and channel management for YouTube and Facebook. We look forward to having her passion, drive and energy within our agency,” Lisa adds. Charlotte says she is “thrilled” to be joining the team: “This is a fantastic time to capitalise on the dominance of YouTube and other video platforms to enhance offerings and create a more cohesive content strategy.”
New chairman for The Insights People The Insights People has named Stefan Lampinen, a prominent children’s industry digital executive, as its Chairman. Stefan’s career includes senior roles at Electronic Arts, Nokia, Microsoft and Warner Bros. He also sits on the Minecraft advisory board and is co-founder and chair of the Swedish Games Industry Association. “I am delighted to welcome Stefan to the team, whose experience will be of great benefit as we scale up our business on all fronts,” said Nick Richardson, CEO of The Insights People Stefan added: “I have been impressed to the passion and ambition that drive The Insights People team and I am excited to become part of this young and fast-growing company”. Stefan’s appointment follows a round of new hires at the company, and expansion into Australia and Canada.
Remembering Wilf Shorrocks Wilf Shorrocks, the toy industry veteran and mind behind brands such as Puppy in my Pocket, has sadly passed away. He died 21 August 2020. Having known Wilf for almost 40 years, Malcolm Naish, founder and chairman of Toys ‘n’ Playthings, shares his memories of a toy industry colleague and friend. “I first met Wilf in 1982 when he founded Acamas Toys. A brilliant ideas man, Wilf went on to found the Just Group PLC in 1987, and the company became a major provider of top licensed characters for many years. Among the licences that Wilf created were Puppy in my Pocket, Monster in my Pocket, Butt Ugly Martians, Jellikins, and he also made Cadbury Schweppes Jelly Babies a major licensing success that included a most successful TV series. More recently he wrote a children’s book, The Magical World of Tiny Tina Ballerina. “Wilf loved life. He was also a great party-thrower, and excellent company whenever we met. Wilf Shorrocks will be greatly missed. We pass our condolences on to his wife of many years, Paula.” 11
Kids’ brands join Festival of Licensing
Cooking up a storm Wilton Bradley is teaming with Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussein on a licensed kids’ cookery range. The Bake me a Story collection contains a range of baking and cooking sets, with smaller tools perfect for smaller hands to encourage little ones to get creative in the kitchen. Each set contains a selection of easy-to-follow recipe cards created by Nadiya, with instruction to whip up tasty creations the whole family can enjoy. “I love to cook with my family,” Nadiya said. “It’s great to get them involved from a young age, teaching them a valuable skill while enjoying some valuable family time together. These sets provide children with everything they need to become cooking and baking enthusiasts.” There are three boxed Baking Kits in the range: Simple Baking Set, Savoury Cooking Set and the Delux Baking Set, each offering a variety of tools and culinary inspiration.
Some of the biggest names in kids and family licensing are confirmed to exhibit at Festival of Licensing, the month-long virtual licensing event that will replace this year’s BLE event. Hasbro, Acamar Films, Penguin Ventures, Pokémon and Sega Europe are among the big names taking part in the digital gathering, which runs 6-29 October. Other top brands taking part from across the licensing industry include Bioworld, Natural History Museum, Asgard Media, Crunchyroll Europe, and many more. “The feedback we have received about Festival of Licensing since announcing it has been incredible and we are thrilled to be able to announce such an amazing first roster of exhibitors,” said Anna Knight, VP, Global Licensing Group, Informa Markets. “This is only the beginning – so there will be a lot more news, and surprises, coming down the line.”
Hasbro extends WildBrain CPLG agreement Hasbro Consumer Products has expanded its representation agreement with licensing agent WildBrain CPLG. WildBrain CPLG was originally appointed as a sub-rep for Hasbro properties in the Nordics and Benelux from 1 January. The agency will now represent Hasbro’s merchandise, publishing, promotions and short-term location-based entertainment business across the Benelux, Nordic, CEE and Turkey regions. “We believe that the strength of WildBrain CPLG to cover Benelux, Nordic, CEE and Turkey will allow us to scale our efforts in a meaningful way,” said Marianne James, VP of Hasbro Consumer Products, EMEA. “WildBrain CPLG will develop our strong portfolio of brands such as Nerf, Monopoly, Play-Doh and My Little Pony.” Maarten Weck, EVP and MD at WildBrain CPLG, said the new agreement “gives us even more opportunity to synergise our European efforts, without losing the local touch”.
Licensing Lens: Dr. Seuss Susan Brandt, President, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, talks the future of Dr. Seuss properties in toys, why the IP work so well in licensing, and what’s next for the likes of the iconic Grinch and Oh the places You’ll Go Dr. Seuss has a long, rich history. What’s contributed to the properties’ timeless popularity? This property has reached more than seven generations. I think the longstanding popularity of Dr. Seuss comes from the universal themes that underpin these books. They are themes that each generation can relate to: what it means to be a good 12
friend and what is kindness in the Horton books, the importance of inclusivity in our Sneetches book, or the importance of environmentalism in The Lorax. And all of these themes are so beautifully wrapped up in these engaging stories. I think that’s the secret of Dr. Seuss’s longstanding popularity – I think that’s the magic.
Why do Dr. Seuss properties lend themselves so well to licensing? I think Dr. Seuss has everything we’re looking for in licensing. We’ve got these delightful characters. We’ve got a unique and distinctive art style. We’ve got very relevant messaging. We’ve got these beautiful phrases, and rhyming. And this is all wrapped up in this beautiful and trend-forward colour pallet. How do the brands differ between the US and UK markets? Dr. Seuss is a very well-developed property in the US. In the United Kingdom, what we find is that we’re still at the beginning
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Peppa pulls in Wow! Stuff has unveiled its latest tech-infused toy with the introduction of the Peppa Pig Clever Car. The toy employs obstacle avoidance technology to detect anything in front of the car – whether a cushion, table leg or any other household fixture – and veers around them, while peeping its horn and educating kids about avoiding crashes. Before setting off, kids are challenged with matching the colour of the characters to the colour of the car seats, and ensuring either Mummy or Daddy pig is in the driving seat. The product launches in Europe from October 2020, and Kenny McAndrew, Wow! Stuff co-founder and Head of Licensing, says “the response we’ve had a retail is fabulous”.
It’s a me, Mario! Epoch making toys is heading to the Mushroom Kingdom with a new range of licensed tabletop family games featuring Nintendo’s iconic hero Super Mario. Launching this October, the range comprises three games across a variety of price points. The hero product is the Shaky Tower a balancing game where players must place the iconic Super Mario characters onto ledges of the tower. Piranha Plant Escape is a tension game that sees players roll the dice, move their character round the board, then press the pump button to wind up the Piranha Plant and avoid being eaten when it springs open! At a lower RRP, a set of Balancing Games Family games use dice and Super Mario characters to test nerves and steady hands as they is a new area for players’ try to balance their favourite figures on a us, but initial swaying stand. response from “Family games is a new area for us, but retailers to our initial response from retailers to our new range has been very strong,” says Suzie new range has been very strong Howes, Marketing Manager, Epoch. “We’re therefore confident there is a real demand out there, hopefully our Super Mario games will become firm family favourites this Christmas!”
of that journey. So we don’t yet have all of those different tent-pole programmes. But what we do have is a very successful Grinch programme. That really is our stake in the ground in the UK. We are also beginning to see momentum around Oh the places You’ll Go in the UK. Tell us about Dr. Seuss in the toy aisle. What is working well and what are your plans for developing the IP in toys? We’re really big in plush through a longstanding partnership with Manhattan Toy Company, which produces beautiful plush, and we recently launched a new partnership with Aurora. We also have a growing partnership with Funko for Pop! Vinyl.
We’re also currently seeking broader partnerships in toys. A couple of new team members that started with us just before the outbreak are really exploring that opportunity to expand our presence in toys. They have already had some conversations with some of the major players in toys and they’re looking to have more discussions in the near future. One of the key areas that I have told her to look at is the pre-school toy area. There is a real opportunity to introduce our characters to young children
Tonies picks up Peppa Peppa Pig is the latest license to join tonies’ hit children’s audio system. The Peppa Pig Tonie engages children in the world of Peppa, George and company for over an hour of audio fun. This includes nine funny stories, such as Peppa Goes on Holiday, with a full cast of voices, music and special effects from the much-loved TV series. It launches 22 October. Manon Sel, GM, tonies UK, says:“We are delighted to announce this latest addition to the Tonie-Family, which is sure to excite children and ﬁll their homes with even more audio joy this Christmas. The characters of this hit series join our evergrowing line up of both licensed and Tonie-owned ﬁgures and bolster our range of audio content.”
in the pre-school and baby category, as the types of play patterns really lend themselves well to Dr. Seuss. I’ve also encouraged the team to explore licensing partnerships with electronic toy companies. We would really actively encourage these kinds of toy companies to approach us, too! And in terms of dress-up, we already work with Amscan, but we’re also currently looking at another partner, who can’t yet be named, to expand our offering in the dress-up arena. So watch this space! 13
Blog stars Playmobil has launched the second wave of new collectable EverDreamerz with a flurry of social media activity. The launch campaign for series one reached millions across YouTube, and series two is looking to continue that momentum with Playmobil’s biggest blogger and vlogger campaign to date. Fifty influencers and bloggers are on board to highlight the new franchise and all of its amazing digital content, as well as a Twitter frenzy reaching millions of consumers. Each EverDreamerz character box is packed with collectable cards, bracelet, beads, charms and accessories, as well as stickers to complete a free sticker booklet, making a cool unboxing experience.
Vivid loves Diana! Vivid has signed a new deal to distribute the Love, Diana toy range, in partnership with pocket.watch and its new YouTube star Diana - the charismatic, six-year-old face of the Kids Diana Show. The range spans multiple product categories, price points, and play experiences to allow young children to interact, role play and become their very own Princess of Play.
Hot Wheels kicks it up a notch Mattel’s Hot Wheels brand is teaming back up with YouTube footballing superstars F2 Freestylers to create more epic headto-head challenges that merge the two worlds of football freestyling and fast cars. The partnership follows on from a successful first year in 2019 – with content kicked up a notch through a series of three new challenges that dial up the excitement. The F2 built the ultimate Hot Wheels Rube Goldberg Machine, showing a Hot Wheel diecast travel through several obstacles before reaching the end and finishing in a mini goal! The second challenge sees Billy take on the challenge Man vs Hot Wheels diecast in a 50m race to see which is the fastest, while Jez demonstrates his incredible football skills while going head-to-head with a Hot Wheels diecast on an incredible 50m obstacle course race. Kelly Philp, UK Marketing Lead at Mattel, says the partnership “merges the worlds of football and Hot Wheels, putting Hot Wheels directly where boys are – viewing amazing content online”.
It’s the second high-profile partnership between the toy company and pocket.watch, after teaming on the Ryan’s World range, which remains in the UK NPD’s top 10 fastest growing new properties. Nick Thomas, GM of Vivid is hopeful of “replicating this success with exciting and innovative Diana products”. “We are delighted to be partnering with pocket. watch again and start such an exciting journey to entertain and inspire girls with Love, Diana,” he says.
Dobble hits TikTok Asmodee’s best-sellin game Dobble is set to be the next TikTok trend, as stars of the wildly popular social app take part in a pair of exciting new brand campaigns. The first is the #DobbleChallenge, in which some of the platform’s most followed users – including Mr Tov, Kaygon Elliot, Fleur Roberts and Dani Speaks – will test themselves to match Dobble cards to the beat of a music track, while encouraging their followers to do the same. Asmodee is also partnering with TikTok influencers including Abi Clarke Comedy and OTB for an Intense Games Night, featuring video skits using a selection of the company’s bestknown games. “We’ve seen the growth in the number of users and the general visibility of TikTok since lockdown began, so we’ve partnered with Playtime PR and FanBytes to explore the potential of the platform,” said Asmodee Marketing Manager Ben Hogg. “For us, it is an exciting way to reach new audiences.”
Zuru takes to TikTok Having taken the US and Canada by storm, Zuru’s 5 Surprise Mini Brands now brings miniature versions of favourite household brands to the UK and Ireland. The unique five-part capsule housing exact mini replicas of real shopping brands, went viral during its launch in the US, amassing over 700 million views on TikTok, and on average seeing one capsule sold every three seconds. Zuru has partnered with Gen Z marketing experts Fanbytes to devise a three-phased TikTok 10 2
campaign throughout September, designed to catapult Mini Brands to UK success. “We have shifted away from more traditional marketing for Mini Brands,” said Erika Sava, International Marketing Director at Zuru. “From 1 September until mid-October we will be introducing TikTokkers to a TikTok first with the Mini Bytehouse, plus a variety of challenge, prank, and comedic-led content all designed with a Gen Z audience in mind.”
Pop’s on top T
his time last year we were reporting a 20 per cent decline in children (4-15) impacts on the commercial children’s channels (H1 2019 vs. H1 2018). Surely 2020, with the huge disruption caused to children’s lives and media habits, will deliver a more positive picture?
Well, when lockdown initially kicked in mid-March we can see that this did have a great impact on children’s overall viewing – but just not to the kid’s commercial channels. In Q2 alone, children’s viewing to all TV was up 5 per cent, but has declined 6 per cent YoY on the children’s commercial channels (BARB, Mar-Jun 20). April, despite being in decline, was the smallest decline we had seen all year on the kids’ commercial channels. But overall, H1 still saw a decline of 15 per cent in CH eq. impacts. That being said, 2020 does have some success stories in children’s viewing, and some obvious winners who have come out on top.
2020 has seen the growth of six commercial channels. Pop, in particular, has experienced unparalleled growth in 2020 by climbing twice the share of commercial impacts vs. its closest competitor CITV. To put that into better perspective, Pop now commands more children’s equivalent impacts alone than Disney and Turner station shares combined. Then, if you group
all the free-to-air (FTA) stations together, they command 50 per cent of all children’s equivalent impacts, despite only making up 38 per cent of the total channel list. But while FTA stations take the top spots, Milkshake is the only freeview channel that has not benefitted from this in 2020. With kids and families alike rising later in the day due to being confined to their homes earlier in the year, peak breakfast viewing has taken the biggest hit with an overall 34 per cent decline in children’s impacts during the daypart in H1 vs. H1 2019 (BARB, 2020). We can also see that the pre-school audience has migrated to Nick Jr and Tiny Pop as they chase the same content, which in turn has seen daytime viewing increase by 35 per cent (BARB, 2020). Disney Jr did not see the same increase in their viewership, however, making their recent news of removing their channels from linear less of a concern to advertisers. So, what does this mean for the future of linear TV planning and buying in the UK? Sky are positioned to be the main beneficiaries of Disney’s retreat. At present they command two thirds share of the market, which is set to exceed 70 per cent in Q4 as a result of the change to the linear landscape. This will be driven by the dominance of FTA channels. In Pop, they have the current market leader to attract Disney Channel and Disney XD audiences, while Milkshake (also sold by Sky) will be a prime destination for Disney Jr viewers. CITV with its FTA advantage should also benefit proportionately more so than Warner Media’s Cartoon Network, Boomerang and Cartoonito – especially if they strike a content deal with Disney. And though you may think this will impact the reach of your campaigns by the removal of three commercial channels, you needn’t be worried because of the diminishing returns the Disney group provided. Disney Channel provides an estimated 0.9 per cent of unique coverage (children 4-15) within the commercial children’s channel set, while Disney Jr and Disney each only provide an estimated 0.1 per cent 1+ cover. There are a whole host of additional media platforms and partners such as video on demand or YouTube in order to extend your campaign reach further. Giraffe Insights’ research Kids and The Screen has been capturing the increase in time spent on these platforms over the last three years, showing that they now both rival time spent watching linear TV. This is all based on the fact these content providers are available on the big screen and children can navigate a picture-based EPG better than they can navigate the school playground. So, we can see that children are not the loyalist when it comes to station selection, but what they are loyal to is the content they enjoy – after all, TV is all TV to a child when it’s on the big screen, right? For more information on how to extend your campaign reach through means other than linear TV, or how to estimate crossmedia coverage with the help of Generation Media’s proprietary tool Jigsaw, get in touch.
Generation Media is the UK and Ireland’s largest independent media buyer of toys and games advertising. Visit generationmedia.co.uk or call 0207 307 7900 to learn more.
Kate Moncur, Associate Director at Generation Media, delves into the winners of lockdown bingewatching and how the growing dominance of free-to-air channels impacts advertising
Highway to sell Could a van, some stock and a local road trip help toy stores reach their community still in partial lockdown? Sounds bizarre, but it works… at least in Japan, reports John Ryan
ne of the effects, reportedly (and your correspondent can confirm this as regards central London), of the ‘health crisis’ has been to turn the centres of large cities into tumbleweed zones in which retailers reopen stores only to find that the shoppers aren’t there. The reality, we are told, is that people are staying local, meaning that smaller malls and local high streets are actually seeing an uptick as regards customers, although this remains unlikely to make up for ground lost during lockdown. The problem however, even for local schemes, is that there remain a substantial number of people who go not much further than their front doors. This is a fact, perhaps, borne out by numbers indicating that those venturing back to the office in the UK are way behind France, Germany, et al. Give this state of affairs, what can be done to either get people back into the shops or to take offers to them and make the local even more local? For an answer, a trip to some of the more remote parts of Japan (if only) might be in order. Here, lowkey no-brand merchant Muji has unleashed vans on communities that might not make it to the cities and towns. The operation is admirable, if only for being amazingly straightforward. The vans in question - there are two of them - are former tour busses that have been given the Muji no-brand treatment, which equates to a magenta paint job with a white font stating the retailer’s name, while within they look like a small store. The internal appearance is achieved thanks to plain wood and a central aisle that allows potential shoppers to enter and browse. It’s popular, apparently, and also in Japan something of the kind has been done by Costa, the coffee people. Again, vans are at the heart of this proposition. And, again, there are two of them. Originally these were supposed to drive around promoting the brand and selling some caffeine during the Tokyo Olympics. Obviously, this has not worked out as planned, so rather than ditch them, they are now doing the rounds in Tokyo, reaching those who might be unfamiliar with Costa. Now return from the Far East and think about what you do. If you are a typical
indie toy retailer, you’ll have a single store and rely on a distinctly local crowd. All fine, as long as people are out and about looking for presents and suchlike. While this may be enough to keep the wolf from the door, growth of any kind will be a distant prospect in the current climate and the likelihood is that you’ll actually find yourself going backwards. So what about a van? Vans are cheap when they’re secondhand (the route followed by both Costa and Muji). Next you have to ask yourself whether your store’s brand is sufficiently distinct that it can be transferred to the exterior of a mobile store-to-be. Working on the assumption that it is, the next challenge will be to work out what might be the optimum product mix. Clearly large toys won’t work, if only because of the space involved, and you’ll also need to work out how you are going to outfit the inside of the van in order to convince customers that it is worth giving you the once over. The other points that need to be given consideration are both where are you going to go and how are you going to break the news of your imminent arrival? To the former, it’s probably worth heading out to areas that are less than 20 minutes from your store, as that way the chances are good that people will be aware of you and what you’re about. On spreading the message, and working on the basis that you have a functional database of existing customers, clearly you can send a highly targeted note. More generally and taking the leap of faith that says you are conversant with Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter (and if you’re not, then you really should be), then a few judiciously posted pictures of your vehicle wouldn’t come amiss, as well as dates on which you’ll be around. But is it all worth the effort? Covid may be a catalyst, but that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be done anyway. The real question it’s worth asking is how well are you known in your neighbourhood? An outreach vehicle that takes your offer beyond the confines of the store has the potential to give you an edge over your rivals, as well as shifting stock. Covid-19 has been awful. In business terms it has exposed the weakness that was inherent in many organisations. Now is the time to take a critical look at how you do things and, based on this, to do things just a little bit differently. And on the matter of cost, all that has been outlined needn’t be bank account voiding, a facet that will be welcome at a moment when things are a little tight.
Now is the time to take a critical look at how you do things and… do things just a little bit differently
John Ryan is Stores Editor at Retail Week. He has worked for the magazine for more than a decade covering store design, visual merchandising and what makes things sell in-store. In a previous life he was a buyer.
Dress to impress Magali Clouzet, Senior Brand Manager at Bandai UK, takes TnP down the catwalk to learn more about Harumika, the fashion arts and crafts range inspired by the hottest trends
Our collaboration with NelliRodi ensures that styles are current and remain up to date
It’s great to see Harumika back for 2020 – but why now, 11 years after its original inception? After a few very successful years with Harumika, we decided to pause the brand to relaunch it with an even stronger offering and a fresh new look. We worked closely with our global product development team to improve the play pattern and consumer experience, and collaborated with French creative agency NelliRodi to come up with updated styles in-line with today’s fashion trends.
At a glance
Following the trends will be key for Harumika. How are you planning to stay ahead of the curve? Our collaboration with NelliRodi ensures that styles are current and remain up to date. Each Harumika kit includes a different selection of designs, fabrics and accessories. The Single Torso Set Assortment offers an entry point line, with a choice of four styles, fabric and accessories to
customize individual creations. A Double Torso Set Assortment also includes four different options, all taking inspiration from current and classic trends and themes. The ultimate line in the collection is the Bridal Sets, which inspire children to design their own signature creations from a selection of satin and lace fabrics. Harumika will stay on top of trends as each season will see the introduction of new styles that are all inspired by actual global fashion trends!
And can retailers expect any support in-store? Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 we weren’t able to include any in-store activities as part of our launch marketing plan. But we will be looking at in-store support in 2021, starting with Harumika workshops and some demo days!
• Fashion-themed arts and crafts range • Styles inspired by global fashion trends • Kits include: mannequins, fabric and accessories • Safe and simple: no sewing, scissors or glue • Reusable materials for endless creativity
For the retailers that aren’t yet stocking Harumika, why should they? The notion of playing fashion designer is a popular one, and even more relevant today with the growth in celebrity culture and the role that fashion plays across social media. The unique proven concept and range of price points mean that there is something for everyone – plus we have developed a host of assets, content and marketing materials to support retailers. We have launched Harumika
with strong TV support but also invested in a large digital spend, branded YouTube channel to house our content, plus we are developing our own community on Instagram for ideas sharing and inspiration. We will be working with influencers, tying up with fashion events and advertising across social media, digital and print platforms. How important is the idea of sustainability to Harumika? Sustainability is key! All materials and accessories can be re-used to recreate endless designs which is a key selling point when more consumers are looking for sustainable and reusable products. Kids can also be creative and use spare bits of fabric that they can find around their home to come up with cool new fashion designs. Can you tell us a bit more about your link with children’s fashion week. Bandai immediately identified that Mini Mode were the perfect partners to collaborate with. Mini Mode created a platform for kids fashion during the UK industry’s renowned London Fashion Week with a network of creatives, influencers, marketing experts, visionaries, media partners and sponsors they have established a consistent platform for the kids fashion market to showcase both emerging designers and major kids brands during LFW. Unfortunately the current climate has put the usual physical shows on pause but that has not stopped activity with brands and influencers sharing their Harumika stories and posts socially.
Argos’ Christmas crackers 2020
Argos has shared its top 12 toys for Christmas 2020, including a dancing unicorn, incontinent flamingos, and an animatronic doll of The Child from Disney’s The Mandalorian – affectionately known as Baby Yoda. A desire to move away from screens and the digital distractions that have helped keep kids busy during lockdown will see 40 per cent of adults purchase more toys that encourage active and imaginative play than they did last year, according to the retailer’s research. Parents say they are also more likely to seek out toys for their kids that remind them of their own childhoods, perhaps as a knock-on effect from nostalgic trips down memory lane during lockdown attic clearouts. Kits and other playthings that encourage the family spending time together will also feature prominently in the festive shopping baskets, according to Argos’ Head of Toy Buying, Juliet Ward. “With so much time spent inside during lockdown, the nation has rekindled its love for toys,” she says. “This year it’s heartening to see so many toys that will encourage families to spend time together, whether that’s putting together a LEGO Lamborghini or reminiscing over the Mario games of the 80s and 90s.”
Argos’ Top 12 for Christmas Design A Friend Sienna Doll Fisher-Price Rollin’ Rovee Hatchimals Pixies Crystal Flyers Kidizoom Studio Laser Battle Hunters LEGO Adventures with Mario Starter Course LEGO Technic Lamborghini Little Live Pets ‘Gotta Go Flamingo’ L.O.L Surprise! OMG Fashion Dolls Series 3 PAW Patrol Dino Rescue Dino Patroller Poopsie Dancing Unicorn The Child Animatronic Edition
Debenhams calls in Hilco Capital Debenhams is looking to strengthen its future in the final dash towards the fourth quarter, drafting in Hilco Capital to work on “contingency plans”. The 242-year-old department store group has been in administration since the covid-19 lockdown forced nonessential retailers to temporarily close their doors in April. The retail group has since axed more than 4,000 jobs across its stores, distribution and head office. A Debenhams spokesperson said the company is “trading strongly” and has a “healthy cash position”. “As a result, and as previously stated, the administrators of Debenhams Retail have initiated a process to assess ways for the business to exit its protective administration,” they added. The future of the 124-store estate remains unknown, and while Debenhams says the current owners could retain the business, the potential for a new joint-venture agreement or sale to a third party are not out of the question.
Amazon eyes stake in Hamleys owner Reliance Reliance Industries is considering selling a $20bn stake in its retail operations to the US online shopping giant The Indian conglomerate owner of Hamleys is offering up to a 40 per cent stake in its retail subsidiary to Amazon, according to reports. A person familiar with the matter says the US web retail giant could pay up to $20bn for the interest in Reliance’s retail arm. The deal would create the first true omnichannel retail giant in India. In an email to Bloomberg News, a spokesperson for Reliance said: “Our company evaluates various opportunities on an ongoing basis”retailer’s biggest franchisee. Hamleys CEO David Smith stepped down at the end of last month after just seven months in the role.
125,000 retail jobs lost Covid-related store closures and the collapse of high street chains contributed to a loss of nearly 125,000 retail jobs in the first eight months of 2020, according to new findings. The Centre for Retail Research says the number of jobs that disappeared from the retail sector is nearly a third greater than during the same period in 2019. Major chains accounted for 7,800 of those, and researchers believe more jobs are at risk. This month’s end to the government’s lease forfeiture moratorium is expected impact many more shop jobs by the end of the year.
Boots deal laced up Mothercare has firmed up a new franchise deal with Boots to sell goods at the chemist from this autumn. The 10-year agreement will begin with Mothercare-branded clothing, prams and other nursery essentials made available in Boots stores across the UK and Ireland, as well as online. The nursery retailer has also inked a new 20-year agreement with Alshaya Group, its biggest franchise partner, alongside the launch of a new business model for its franchisees to make the business “more sustainable and less capital-intensive”. Franchisees will now pay for products directly from Mothercare’s manufacturing. It says that this will help remove the timing mismatch it was experiencing with the reduction in its payment terms, improving the group’s working capital requirements. However, Mothercare said that it still expects to take a £10m hit from its UK administration last November.
Pride of Hamleys Shoppers who venture to Hamleys in coming months will come face-to-face with a life-size Golden Lion model, installed pride of place in the toy store’s third floor in celebration of Schleich’s 85th anniversary. The in-store theatre heralds the introduction of a limited-edition anniversary Golden Lion figure, which has been selling fast across selected retailers since its launch in August. Paul Dearlove, Trade Marketing Manager, Schleich UK says: “It is great to see this new Hamleys display finally in place. Its placement not only signifies a landmark year for Schleich, but also how we have continued to support our retailers throughout this difficult year.”
Independent Toy Award winners revealed Toy Shop UK has published the results of its 13th annual awards to determine what the nation’s indies consider the best toys for parents to buy their children this Christmas. Medal logos have been awarded across 30 categories, with gold, silver, bronze prizes being awarded. Commendation logos were awarded to those companies that narrowly missed out on achieving one of the top-three awards. Michael Hawkins, founder of Toy Shop UK, says this year’s list highlights “a truly diverse mix of products which I think perfectly reflects the life, character, and occasionally eclectic nature of the independent toy retailers that bring so much to this industry”.
Selfridges goes green
ITA Gold medal winners:
As part of its freshly minted Project Earth sustainability initiative, Selfridges has introduced a range of eco-friendly toys from brands including Keel Toys and Le Toy Van. Customers will discover playthings made from 100 per cent recycled and re-purposed materials such as rubberwood and plastic milk bottles, . Toys are part of a broader effort to promote sustainable products at the high-end department store, with other kids’ products such as back-to-school from Carioca also part of the mix. Selfridges says each brand has been carefully selected by its buying teams to ensure the best in sustainable goods. Other toy brands with green credentials joining Selfridge’s offering include sustainable toy and puzzle maker Play for Future, and Green Toys’ range made entirely from recycled plastic milk bottles.
Advent Calendar: Elfie’s Christmas Letters Ultimate Story Bundle (International Elf Service) App Toys: The Toniebox (tonies) Baby: Textured Pop Blocks (Edushape) Children’s Gifts: mTiny (Makeblock) Collectable: Rubik’s Amazing Box of Magic Tricks (Marvin’s Magic) Creative: My First Crayon Beads (SES Creative) Construction: SmartMax My First Sound and Senses (Smart Games) Eco: Eco Gelli Play (Zimpli Kids) Educational: 123 Go! (Headu) Electronic: Roxanne - Party Pets (EOLO) Games (Action): Windy Knickers (John Adams) Games (Board): I Saw It First: Jungle! (Laurence King Publishing) Games (Card): Marvel Cinematic Universe Quiz (Winning Moves) Games (Educational): Bee Genius (The Happy Puzzle Company)
Finnegan’s joins Toymaster The Toymaster buying group has welcomed a new member in Kenmare, Co Kerry, Ireland. Finnegan’s Corner Toys is Kenmare’s largest toy and sports store, specialising in toys and games for toddlers, young kids and teens. To get in touch with the store, give John and Brian Finnegan a call on 00353 64 6641083, or visit their website.
Games (Electronic): Armogear Boxing Battle (NESSTOY) Jigsaws & Puzzles: Call the Midwife 1000 Piece Jigsaw Puzzle (Rachel Lowe Games) Licenced: Dragon Ball Limit Breakers (Bandai) Novelty: Fifi the Flossing Sloth (ZURU) Outdoor: 8ft x 12ft Rectangular DeLuxe Trampoline (YJ Europe) Pocket Money: Unicorn Rainbow Grow Egg (HGL) Ride-on: Bumblebee Balance Bug (Beehive Toys) Role-Play: Playhouse Marvellous Mud Kitchen (Wilton Bradley) Soft: Animigos Magic Bunny (Tobar) Special Needs: HUE Animation Studio (HUE Animation) STEAM: Solar Powered Rovers (Thames & Kosmos) Vehicles: SCOOBY-DOO! Mystery Machine (Playmobil) Wooden: MURO Board - Massive Pack (MURO)
Blooming marvellous Businesses have been forced to adapt throughout lockdown – and for online garden centre You Garden, one big change has been toys. MD Peter McDermott and Buyer Chrissie Hills share their experience working with toy suppliers for the first time to introduce games, arts and crafts and more to their offering
For those who aren’t familiar with You Garden, tell us a little about your business. Peter: Founded nine years ago, the philosophy that we firmly believe in is that gardening is for everyone! You do not even need a garden to get growing. Many of our plants can be grown on balconies, small patio’s and decking, so you can catch the growing bug, and even grow your own freshest fruit and vegetables too. We speak in plain English: sometimes gardening can be a confusing maze of Latin names and strange words and can be confusing or off-putting. We simplify everything, remove all the jargon, and give down-to-earth advice on what to grow – and how! We’re lucky enough to have our very own nursery in rural Lincolnshire, spanning across 11 acres, fully owned, with a brandnew purposebuilt packhouse part funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.
Your bread and butter – or roots, so to speak – is plants and outdoor living. What other products typically sell well for you? Chrissie: Towards the end of 2019 we introduced a range of gifting items aimed at the gardening customer and this was received very well when launched in our winter catalogue. We have expanded further into this in our 2020 seasonal ranges. There are other things that we would like to try so 2021 looks to be an exciting year for us. Most garden centres found the lockdown period incredibly tough. As an online-only garden centre, what was your experience?
What do you look for in a potential toy line? We would like to offer a range that all the family can enjoy and join in with. We also love toys that make great gifts. Eye-catching packaging that leaps out from the page would be a nice to have, too! And how has business been for you since the government began to ease lockdown measures and non-essential brick and mortar stores have reopened? P: We expected to see sales tail-off as, historically, August has been one of our quieter months. We are pleased to say that this hasn’t been the case and we are delighted that customers we gained during lockdown have decided to continue shopping with us.
“We intend to expand on the toys and games range for 2021”
P: We found ourselves incredibly busy, incredibly quickly. Fortunately, we were already geared up for a bumper season so that stood us in good stead for the challenges that lay ahead of us during those months. How did you navigate this tough period? P: We stringently followed government advice and guidelines throughout that period and implemented various measures at the nursery which enabled us to stay fully operational. Non-operational team members were able to carry out their duties from home meaning that all departments were covered and supported during lockdown
We know that the toys and games market is new to your offering. When did you decide to venture into this sector, and why is now the right time to introduce these lines? C: We felt that with more customers perhaps choosing to spend their leisure time at home and in their gardens, now was the right time to launch a concise range of both indoor and outdoor games to see how they would be received Why do you believe toys and games complement your core offering as a garden centre?
“We want to look at the jigsaw market as we believe that this will see exceptionally strong sales going forward”
Which lines have you decided to introduce first in this arena?
Have any of these new lines been particularly strong performers for you? And if so, why do you think these products have been so popular with your customers?
C: Using our experience and contacts we showcased a range of traditional garden games mixed with educationally based board games. Why did we choose educationally based board games? We felt that, as many families were home schooling their children during lockdown, it was a good way of introducing an element of fun into the equation and could be used as part of their studies.
C: Yes, we introduced an artificial flower making kit from The Happy Puzzle Company for ages five to adult which has been an absolute winner. As our customers are traditionally keen gardeners it was quite obvious that this would have an appeal.
In the absence of this year’s trade shows, how did you go about deciding which toy lines to start with?
How have you found working with suppliers from the toy industry? Do suppliers in our sector operate differently to your regular suppliers? Is there anything that they have been doing well? And is there anything that would improve your experience of working in toys?
P: Garden centres have become more than just a place to buy plants. They now offer an inspirational lifestyle shopping experience based around the family and that is something that we wanted to tap into.
C: A colleague had worked with The Happy Puzzle Company previously and had recommended the supplier to us. I found the Traditional Garden Games Company through online searches. They were the quickest to respond to my query and were very comprehensive and professional in their pitch to us - so they made it a very easy choice! Once we had decided on suppliers to begin with, we just used the tried and tested means of utilising the supplier’s best sellers list to decide on products! And what has been the initial reaction to the toy and game lines that you have introduced so far? P: Very positive. We placed an insert into our monthly catalogue that is mailed to our customers and garden club members. This insert was an eight-page stand-alone mini magazine, which showcased our new indoor and outdoor game ranges with opening offers included. This is a great way of monitoring sales data and gaining learnings for future purchases.
photographs as what has been supplied is not up to scratch. Will you be looking to expand your offering of toys and games in the near future? C: We intend to expand on the toys and games range with our existing suppliers but are now actively looking for more ideas for 2021. Christmas is always the golden quarter for the toys and games sector. Do you have any plans for capitalising on the popularity of this sector at this time of year? C: We will be looking to take in more lines for Christmas and want to look at the jigsaw market, as we believe that this will see exceptionally strong sales going forward. We will be showcasing new products in our winter catalogue, and using Facebook. This time next year, what kind of toy and game offering would you like to have? C: As previously mentioned, we would like to offer a range of jigsaws and are actively looking into this now. In terms of other suppliers and products, we are open to look at anything that is current and on-trend.
C: We currently only deal with two suppliers: The Happy Puzzle Company and Traditional Garden Games Ltd. In the main, the experience has been positive. They were more than helpful with imagery and copy for our website. This is not always the case and we, on occasion, find ourselves having to take additional
Back to business Business for the The Independent is beginning to return to normality with some surprising results due to covid-19. A unique year? Certainly. But not the write-off many were expecting
I never thought I would see the day, in all my years in this industry, where there was a global shortage of adult puzzles
been. I understand that it makes sense with the large lockdown, there would be a lot of work to do as the usual fairly comfortable spread of supplier reviews, sales trends and main season orders was going to be condensed into a shorter period of time, but this is madness! VOLUME: I never thought I would 1. Hot Wheels Singles – Mattel see the day, in all my 2. LOL Surprise Glitter Dolls – MGA years in this industry, 3. DC Superhero Minifigures - LEGO where there was a global shortage of adult puzzles VALUE: and I would be begging 1. LOL Surprise Glitter Dolls – MGA every supplier I could 2. LOL OMG Neon Lights Dolls – MGA think of for stock just to 3. LOL Surprise Boys Dolls – MGA keep something on offer for my customers, but
hope that everyone is doing well and more importantly, coping with our industry going from a standing start to 100mph in no time flat?! I can’t believe how busy we have
sure enough, I have spent the last week making countless phone calls, carrying out six separate zoom meetings and chasing to get as much stock as possible – this is utter madness! On top of this, and me feeling as if I am drowning during every waking hour of my day, I also have to spend time trying to estimate what my requirements will be for all of the top lines for this year. Absolutely bedlam! Anyway, I understand everyone is in the same situation, so I shall not rant on and on about it, but my goodness I feel like I have run full speed into a work-style wall and it has flattened me.
THE SECRET SUPPLIER
Strange times There will be winners, losers and everything inbetween once the dust settles on 2020, says the Secret Supplier. One thing is certain: change and strange times ahead
o say we live in strange times is putting it mildly. But judging by this month’s article by our friend The Independent, it seems as though he is slowly returning to “ business as usual.” He is lucky that he can resume business almost as normal. For many retailers particularly the larger variety, their retail
performance will be determined by their location on the high street. What used to be judged as an ideal location is now seen as a liability as the consumer appears to abhor the high street. Nowadays simply opening the store is full of difficulties both in terms of number of staff as well as in store navigation and recording who has actually been in the store. What a nightmare for any independent with several outlets. On the other hand for The Independent the signs look promising for which we should all be
grateful and we just hope that his situation is reflected generally within the sector Of course we also need to worry about us Suppliers Many companies have asked their staff to work at home. How does that work in terms of customer service for you? Many suppliers have much bigger offices than they really
On the bright side, business for us has been quite good overall. Always interesting to see the trends in sales across various suppliers, and the reasons that we guess these trends are happening. In particular I had always said, since the Episode 7 of Star Wars came out and the toys didn’t sell at all, that Star Wars was a nonrunner for ever being mainline in toys, with the nostalgic customers having bought everything they could ever want, and kids just not finding it cool regardless of parents insistence that Star Wars was the best thing ever. Now when I look at my Star Wars LEGO sales I am blown away by the sales! I can only surmise that either or both of the following things
need given that most staff can work from home. All of this points towards a major restructuring for suppliers and of course the last six months will have hit their profitability badly. For those retailers who were hovering close to the edge, the effects of the pandemic now may well be to push them out of business all together But The Independent is able to point to positive growth signs as parents reward their children who have suffered as much as we all have. However it seems that little girls miss out as he highlights boys toys rather than girl toys.
have occurred; 1) during lockdown people sat down and re-watched their favourite movies and this has caused a resurgence in interest for toys, or 2) The Mandalorian has had a positive impact on the entire Star Wars brand and driven the sales of anything Star Wars. I also love, even though I have never played the game, that Minecraft is going bonkers again. I always loved the concept that kids were playing computer games but inadvertently teaching themselves programming. Kind of like when kids play with Orchard Games and they are having fun while learning. Don't get me wrong, I am not a fan of computer games at all, but if Minecraft was a nice trade-off for some form of education then I am 100% behind it, and our sales across the ranges are superb. It will be extremely interesting (and no doubt chaotic and stressful) to
Some astute suppliers are looking at the opportunities that this pandemic offer us. We wish them well.
see how the rest of this year pans out, with good weather still sticking around at the moment, with ever-changing circumstances of Covid-related issues, and most interestingly, with families who haven’t gone away on holiday and what they are going to spend their money on for that feel-good factor. I mention this as ‘most interestingly’, because I was very intrigued to see if this would be the case from when we re-opened, and it definitely is. A lot of our customers we know personally, and we have always tried to have that kind of relationship with our customers. Some of my best customers have told me that they can’t help but spend a bit more on the kids, in their words “just to keep a smile on their face as they haven`t seen their friends/gone away/it has been such a tough time for them”. This is one benefit to being in our industry – it essentially boils down to putting smiles on kids faces. I will be watching our sales figures with extreme interest this year, just to see what trends I can find to maximise business, but one thing is for sure, this year, no one can guess what will come next and what way things will go. For me, I am keen to dive in head first, get good stocks in and sell as much as we can without any hesitation. Whatever decision you make, be it tentative or full-throttle, I hope it works out well for you and you can make a success of this unique year.
At the same time there are business opportunities as highlighted by Toy Brokers acquisition of Peterkin. This shows that at least some astute suppliers are looking at the opportunities that this pandemic offer us. We wish them well.
I think it is also important to recognise the damage done to us all as we struggle to come to terms with the long term mental damage done to us all as we return to what some describe as ‘normal life’. Let’s be kind to one another
Independent retailers in the UK and Ireland continue to adapt and ﬂourish amid covidrelated uncertainty. TnP found out how they're coping, what' s selling well, and how customers are responding to their efforts.
Brian Simpson Toy Town
Lisa Clay Armadillo Toys, Leeds Is footfall beginning to recover ? Footfall is definitely lower, but I feel customers are spending more per visit. Until social distancing is relaxed, we cannot allow previou s levels of customers into the shop so footfall cannot be the same. It is worrying thinking about goin g forward into the winter weather; will customers still wai t outside for their turn to come in? When are you currently at you r busiest? We only have one shop now and Saturdays were obviously our busiest. On Sat urdays pre-lockdown, about 50 per cent of sales wer e for birthday parties, especially in the mornings, so I am hoping that children’s parties start to will pick up again when the children return to school. What do you think is the cur rent split between purchases made in-store and those made online? Currently I am 100 per cent a bricks-and-mortar business. A couple of years ago I decided to concentrate on the shop and removed the shopping cart from my website as I didn ’t have the time to focus on both. I am now in the proces s of updating and adding products so that I can offer online sales in the run up to Christmas. I still get one or two calls per day from customers who want to purchase over the phone, but nothing like the panic of lock down. Have your customers respond ed well to anything you’re currently doing or offe ring? We have plenty of in-store pro motions and competitions, and the obvious platform for these is social media. We do get custom ers responding to posts, but I am wanting to imp rove my reach. How are you making up for the absence of demo items and in-store events? We have definitely noticed a drop in sales of the lines we normally have out on disp lay. Certain products need to be placed in our customers hands, or they like to see their children playing with the m. I am keeping some items close to hand to demons trate to customers, but not allowing them to touch the mselves.
Is footfall beginning to recover? Our footfall levels have been mixed throughout various stores. Overall we are very happy with the level of sales being achieved as an overall throughout the business. We are very uncertain about what things will be like in the coming months though, which at the very least will keep things interesting. When are you currently at your busiest? I can’t recall the last day of work where I wasn’t 100 per cent busy. I don’t mean that to sound like it does, but it is just honesty: working in this industry is constantly madness. It might be because of my roles as Head of Purchasing & overseeing all of our warehouse operations, but there is always plenty going on! We have noticed our Northern Ireland stores have been extremely busy in comparison to most other locations, but generally there are different stores across England & Scotland that are doing well and some not so well. What do you think is the current split between purchases made in-store and those made online? Nearly 100 per cent of our orders are placed in-store. This has been a big issue for us as we had to completely shut down during lockdown, but we are now making inroads to having a selling website so this will bring another aspect to the business to help it grow.
''we are now making inroads to having a selling website so this will bring another aspect to the business to help it grow''
Have your customers responded well to anything you’re currently doing or offering?
Our customers have been fantastic at supporting us, mainly because kids are going mad and parents are spoiling them a bit – as I am doing with my own. But we always try to hit two main areas for all of our customers: have what they want when they want it, and to have great offers every day. These are being done well at the moment and the sales are showing that our customers are very happy with this.
My Small World, Bath ing Are footfall levels beginn ? you for r ove to rec It’s getting there, but it’s n. nothing like what it has bee Where we are in Bath, we traffic, but that has of benefit heavily from tourist moment, it’s a lot of locals, course been down. At the y here as it is typically but it’s certainly not as bus y when we’re generally bus during the summer period ool. from June until back to sch current split between What do you think is the and those made online? purchases made in-store t percentage is purchases At the moment, our bigges kdown, we were still made in-store. During loc were doing really well. shipping things out and we ristmas period. That really It was almost like our Ch we were really lucky helped keep us afloat, so platform in place. We’re to have our ecommerce in Bath who didn’t have friendly with a lot of stores uently really struggled that, and they have subseq during that period. well for you? What’s currently selling well with family games. lly rea We have been doing nd called Londgi. The We stock this fantastic bra es are fantastic. There is artwork is brilliant, the gam Game, which is the team’s one called The Postman played it with a few personal favourite – we’ve s very funny. That kind glasses of wine, and it get ting the family together; of thing is brilliant for get of their they’re probably at the end just and tether after lockdown to ing wanting someth laugh at.
''During lockdown, we were still shipping things out and we were doing really well”
What new lines are you expecting to perform well in Q4? We’re not planning to bring any completely new lines in for Q4. Normally we visit trade shows and we’ll always try new things out a of how things ide an to get ly get new lines bab pro work. We’ll g Ella, and Djeco. But nothin from companies like Olli too bonkers! ponded well to anything Have your customers res offering? you’re currently doing or been brilliant. We have ays alw e hav Our customers with all our customers, and such a personal approach so lovely and supportive they have continued to be doing. We’re only a little of everything that we are e! And without our shop: we’re two metres wid uldn’t be here! customers, we simply wo
Giddy Goat Toys, Manchester Are footfall levels beginning to recover? I would say on weekdays yes, but Saturdays sales are about 70 per cent of what we would expect. But, of course, there are no children’s parties happening at the moment. What do you think is the current split between purchases made in-store and those made online? We used to be 95 per cent shop 5 per cent online – it’s now a 50/50 split. What’s currently selling well for you? The brands that are currently performing well for us are LEGO, L.O.L Surprise, Peppe Pig toys, and Top Model books from Depesche. What new lines are you expecting to perform well in Q4? I think the Little Live Pets range from Character Options and the new L.O.L toys from MGA will be popular. Have your customers responded well to anything you’re currently doing or offering? I think at the moment my shop customers are just pleased to be able to come back into an actual toy shop – and the kids are loving being able to browse and spend the pocket money they’ve accrued during the year. I don’t think I have too many new things, what with not really seeing reps. Plus with getting a new epos in, I’ve had so much work to do adding my products onto it that I am almost steering away from new lines as it means adding them to the system. I’m still working through adding my existing stock!
Charlotte Khan Moo Like a Monkey, Kent Are footfall levels beginning to recover? Yes. We are based in a seaside town, so have seen a rise in holidaymakers who have had to cancel international holidays and stay in the UK. We’ve had a great summer! People are enjoying shopping again, and wearing masks and using hand sanitiser when you walk into a shop is becoming a normal now. What do you think is the current split between purchases made in-store and those made online? We’ve seen a drop in online sales since reopening after lockdown, but the online sales are still higher than they were before lockdown. What’s currently selling well for you? New baby gifts are selling well. We are expecting a baby boom in the next few months. Have your customers responded well to anything you’re currently doing or offering? We started offering local delivery when lockdown started and we have carried this on. Although people can come to the shop now, some people prefer not too so it’s important to still provide local delivery as an option. We’ve noticed some customers prefer to shop online and collect in store since we reopened to reduce the amount of time spent in the shop. Offering these options to customers to suit their preferred style of shopping is something we hadn’t looked into before. Many of our customers are just relieved that they can come in, browse and feel some sort of normality again. Gifting was important during lockdown, and we offered free gift-wrapping on orders which was a key hook during lockdown.
L A I C E P S S R O D A S S A B M A
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Our little ambassadors got their hands on Schleich’s Horse Club playset, bringing all the fun of the stables to the living room. Mum Chrissie tells TnP how they got on Chrissie, mum to Amberley, aged six, and Elsie, aged four: The girls are pony mad, so this was never going to be anything but a winner in their eyes. But having had to spend much of the summer indoors, it was wonderful for them to have such a big treat. The Horse Club Big Horse Show is what I’d call a main present: it’s big and shiny and colourful – everything little girls love – and, after setup, they played all afternoon. Amberley and Elsie love creating their own little worlds, and that’s the sort of playtime I try to encourage. So, I was really happy to see them setting up a horse show, taking the horses and riders out on a hack, and, when it was teatime, making sure the horses were stabled, groomed, fed and watered. I think what makes this really special are all the little details. There’re beautiful flower boxes in the window, little carrots and hay bales to keep the horses fed, skylights in the stable to look inside, and even a pitchfork for mucking out. At least they’re keeping something cleanand tidy! I’m really impressed with all these features, and the girls loved the fact they could open and close all the doors and stable gates. The quality is definitely there, so even when the giggling rises to a highpitched squeal and the stable is being wrenched around, nothing breaks or falls apart. We’ve had similar playsets and they haven’t stood up to that level of boisterous play, so that’s a big tick as a mum. We’ve had the playset out most days, so that’s another big tick: there’s nothing worse than paying for a toy only for it to become a primary-coloured dust collector.
Amberley, 6, says: I love horses; they are my favourite animal. I want to be a vet, so I like looking after the ponies and doing shows with my sister. My favourite part is the ponies. Mine is the white one.
Dino-mite! Dino-mad Harry got his claws on Schleich’s Dinosaurs Large Dino Research Station, leading to lots of velociraptor escape and a poetic musing on the colouring of the extinct creatures Rebecca, mum to five-year-old Harry:
een “It’s b for
Harry is passionate about exactly three things in good really uraging life: superheroes, dinosaurs, and things that crash, enco ry’s smash or capture them. So you can imagine his Har n” joy unboxing a load of ferocious-looking dinosaurs, inatio blasters, nets and an unwitting park ranger ready to imag be chased round the house. After the initial furore of the velociraptor escaping his confines – although our budding palaeontologist says the dinosaur is technically too big to be a velociraptor – it was back to the classroom for me. Harry proudly told me all his favourite dinosaur facts and went off on a surprisingly poetic tangent about the colouring of the dinosaur figures compared with what scientists think they really looked like. I loved seeing his mind being sparked like that – and to me it proves that although playing on the iPad is fine for a while, proper toys are still so important. It’s been really good for encouraging Harry’s imagination, and he loved capturing the dinosaurs, looking after them, planning out escapes and traps. I think all the accessories it comes with are really cool too. There are just so many ways to play with it. Then we discovered the cannon. That is definitely his favourite part. Being able to actually fire it and use the net to capture the dinosaurs. Coincidentally, as the projectile keeps ending up under the sofa, it’s my least favourite part. But that’s probably the way it should be. At around 80 quid, this isn’t an impulse purchase. But knowing now how much entertainment it’s given Harry, it’s definitely worth the price tag – and we’ve already bought the accompanying Dinosaur Advent Calendar!
Dr. Harry’s dino fact
The biggest dinosaurs didn’t eat other dinosaurs – they liked vegetables!
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Faced with a new construction project in the shape of the Playmobil City Action Wheel Loader, six-year-old Ameen was straight to work. Dad tells TnP about the family’s love of Playmobil and how Ameen got on with his latest addition
Ameen’s Dad says: We’re big fans of Playmobil in our household, so when we got the chance to try out some of the latest playsets Ameen was over the moon. Toys are also serious business in our household, meaning Ameen likes to put everything together himself - without any help! Playmobil seem to know this is what kids are like, and all the parts are nice and chunky so they can get on with it and feel satisfied. Other than one or two fiddly bits – mainly getting it all out of the bags – he made surprisingly quick work of putting it all together. Once built, Ameen wouldn’t put it down. Our living room has been turned into the main construction site, while the decking out back seems to have become some sort of access ramp/overflow depot. As with most kids his age, part of the fun of any toy is testing out the build-quality through the classic ‘how many times it can be banged into the coffee table’ test. I’m semi-pleased to announce that the wooden leg of the table is dented, but the digger remains fully intact. Plus one point for Playmobil, and minus one for Wayfair.
All in all, we’ve had lots of fun with the toy – and it’s the right sort of fun that tires them out a bit and gets them running around and acting out stories in their head. Another bonus is that the Wheel Loader can join the rest of our Playmobil sets, because it all works together and lasts for years. Some of my old figures are even in there somewhere – or at least they were last time I checked…
Granddad Ian, an architect who knows his construction, was impressed with Playmobil’s latest lines. He tells TnP how five-year-old Sebastian got on with the City Action Wrecking Ball and City Action Digger sets My grandson Sebastian’s eyes lit up when he saw the “The packages from Playmobil and, naturally, the City Action wrecking ball Wrecking Ball was the one he chose to build first. is cool and The large pieces were quite easy for a five-year-old to fit sm ashing is together and the instructions were simple for him to follow. He needed help with some of the smaller parts, such as tying knots in the fun” rope, and with some parts that needed considerable strength to fit together. Sebastian, 5 For a toy that’s ostensibly all about wrecking and crashing, Sebastian had a brilliant time putting everything together. However, he knew where to put things and came to ask for help with those specific parts. Now that the vehicle itself is built, he is using the grabber arm to pick all sorts of things up, and he’s using the wrecking ball on all sorts of things. There are still a few bits of the scene that he hasn’t yet setup, but for the time being he seems content just with the wrecking vehicle. As for the City Action Digger and construction scene, the instructions seem simple for a fiveyear-old to follow, and he was able to fit most parts together, requiring help with fiddly parts and where he needed extra strength. He enjoyed putting the pipes and house parts together and taking them apart. But again, it’s the vehicle that he likes best. Of the two kits, I think he’ll get most enjoyment out of the wrecking ball vehicle as it’s bigger, has more moving parts and doesn’t need to be constantly rebuilt to play with.
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Isabelle, aged nine, has been busy crafting throughout the summer, and was given the chance to put Craft Buddy’s DIY Crystal Art Frameables Cool Tiger Kit to the test. The results were roarsome
Nine-year-old Isabelle says:
What’s in the box? Everything to create and display the Cool Tiger design:
■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■
1 x crystal art template 1 x picture frame 1 x crystal pick up pen 1 x trays Bags of crystals Jelly wax Instruction manual
I love doing arts and crafts at school and at home. I make things for my friends’ birthdays and my family. I make lots of decorations for my room too. I love this new kit. When I opened the box I saw so many crystals. They’re really sparkly and colourful. I couldn’t wait to start making the picture. This kit lets you make a Cool Tiger. It’s sort of like a game, because you match the crystals with the numbers and dots on the page. At first, it looks like a crazy pattern, but then it starts to look more and more like the box. It’s like a grown-up dot-to-dot, but much prettier when you finish. I spent all afternoon making the tiger. It’s really cute and looks cool. My favourite part is the cap. The kit has a frame, which we put on it and then stuck it on my bedroom wall. It sparkles when you turn on the light at night, and in the morning. My dad said it looked like a professional artist had painted it for an art gallery. It’s my new favourite decoration. I looked on the website and have chosen some more Crystal Art kits that I want to do. One has owls on it in woolie hats with a love heart because they are in love. That’s my best one. There is another one with Father Christmas that is bigger and I’m going to ask for that for Christmas. Dad says it is for grown-ups but Arts and crafts have become I am good at arts and crafts so that’s fine. I a big thing in our house think it will be easy and fun.
Dad Alex says:
“It’s my new favourite decoration” Isabelle, 9
over lockdown. I’m forever finding glitter, bits of tissue paper, spilt glue and all sorts stuck to my socks, so I was a little sceptical about yet another craft kit in the house. Luckily, the Crystal Art kits seem to have been designed with the sanity of parents in mind. The kit has an adhesive canvas which each of the little gems are stuck to, meaning no more sticky patches and globs of glue all over the dining room table - and everywhere else! This feature in itself makes Craft Buddy a name I’ll be seeking out for my daughter in future, but I don’t think I’ll have to do much persuading as she absolutely loved her time, crafting away. For a little over a tenner, I think its money well spent – and I know Isabelle has asked for some for Christmas, so at least that’s one or two presents sorted already.
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TnP loves to hear from suppliers. To be included in next month’s issue, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
We speak to suppliers from across the industry about their experiences through the lockdown period. They talk about the challenges that they are facing, and we hear how they’re planning to ensure
LISA RAYNER Trade Account Manager, Craft Buddy How have you adapted to the challenges and constraints presented by covid-19? Throughout lockdown we have seen a surge in consumer demand as people began to look for new hobbies and ways to keep themselves entertained whilst at home, which our leading Crystal Art brand offer to consumers of all ages. On the back of this, we saw sales increase on both our own ecommerce site and those of our trade retailers. We were blown away throughout this period by the resolve of the bricks and mortar retailers we work with, who have continued to operate despite the uncertainty and look forward to continuing to strengthen our relationships with them. What are your upcoming highlights for Q4? It’s set to be an incredibly interesting time for us as we increase our Crystal Art offering in the run up to Christmas. We have just launched our Christmas 2020 range, logging our highest number of sales on launch day ever, such is the appetite for the brand. Alongside this, we have expanded our licensed offering as part of our AW20 range to include a host of new Anne Stokes Crystal Art pieces to go alongside our newest licensed offering from renowned artist Thomas Kinkade, offering more designs for teenage and older audiences. We also have a very exciting new partnership on the horizon that we will be announcing later this year. Have you begun your preparations for the all-important final quarter – and how is it different this year? Having launched our Christmas range, we are now full steam ahead with fulfilling orders with our trade customers to ensure that the stock arrives with them in time. We were fortunate that our factories were able to maintain operations throughout the early stages of the pandemic, allowing us to both design and manufacture our latest range to ensure that they were on shelves in time to meet seasonal demands. With the products now on sale to consumers and retailers we are confident of being able to meet demand throughout Q4, particularly in the run up to Christmas.
GAVIN UCKO MD, The Happy Puzzle Company How have you adapted to the challenges and constraints presented by covid-19? Things seem to be slowly returning to something approaching normal, but it has been a long road and will continue to be one. Our bricks and mortar customers are ordering, but you can also see that they are being very cautious, which is completely understandable and we are doing everything we can to support them. What are your upcoming highlights for Q4? We have some amazing new games coming out, including Bee Genius. This is the third game in our genius collection and which we hope will be just as successful as Genius Square and Genius Star. It has already won the Independent Toy
Awards gold for 2020, which is amazing. Plus, we have some really innovative new games coming out – so watch this space! Have you begun your preparations for the allimportant final quarter – and how is it different this year? I think the most difficult thing has clearly been in terms of trying to second guess what might happen over the course of this year – and it is practically impossible to know. We are ready, we have everything in place, and we are working on the basis that Christmas will carry on as normal. Only time will tell!
Marketing & PR Manager, Thames and Kosmos
Head of UK Sales, Winning Moves What are your upcoming highlights for Q4? Puzzles, puzzles, puzzles! The dynamic of the business has changed to reflect the increasing demand in these excellent time-spenders. After successful negotiations with Hasbro, Winning Moves can now extend the regional Monopoly range into the puzzles market, which we’re all excited about. In addition to that, we’re adding to the Pass The Pigs family, with the addition of Pass The Pugs. Loveable, friendly, adorable - and we’re not just talking about ourselves - Pass The Pugs are made of high quality materials and are an excellent laugh for the kids and family.
What will be your company highlights for Q4? We’ve got exciting new arrivals in Q4. Our awardwinning EXIT - The Game series will see the addition of two new titles, The Cemetery of the Knight and The Enchanted Forest, which will appeal to beginners and seasoned escape room players alike. Trade interest has been high and we are expecting to ship these titles from beginning of October. We also started our product selection for 2021 and there are some very exciting science kits coming. They are fun while also being educational, which is definitely the trend we are heading towards. The PR and Marketing teams have recently had a brainstorm session to plan out Q1 and we are looking ahead towards London Toy Fair in January which I still hope will happen as it would be my first and I can’t wait to meet my customers old and new face to face for the first time.
JESSICA COY Head of Marketing, Zimpli Kids What developments have there been in terms of the Covid-19 situation for your company? How have you adapted to the challenges and constraints presented by covid-19? What a strange few months it has been! In March, we decided to use our experience in warehousing and distribution to off er a range of PPE, including alcohol-based hand sanitisers, face masks, visors, aprons, gloves and dispensers. This was such a busy time for us, but we wanted to ensure we did our bit for businesses to prevent the spread of the virus. What are your upcoming highlights for Q4? We have just launched our Rainbow and Rocket Baff Bombz, which is an exciting launch for us. The initial reaction has been amazing. We are also focusing on the launch of our fully eco-friendly range later this year – with 100 per cent recyclable packaging, using our certified biodegradable powder.
WHAT’S N Easy cheesy! Big Potato
0203 620 9495 www.bigpotato.co.uk Big Potato has delivered a piping hot new game in the form of P for Pizza, the quick-thinking, answer-shouting letter game The aim of the game is to collect nine pizza slices before anyone else. To do this, players have to pick a category, think of an answer that starts with the letter opposite. For example, if you needed a TV show beginning with B, you could shout “Baywatch” or “Bob the Builder”! The first player to shout out an answer grabs a slice and adds it to their collection. The game comes packaged in a handy, travel-sized pizza slice box to serve up fun on the go – the perfect takeaway.
Marty Christmas Playmobil
01268 548111 www.playmobil.co.uk Playmobil is following up on the May launch of the iconic DeLorean with a new advent calendar based on the Back to the Future franchise. Behind every door is a gift, providing fans young and old with 24-days of entertainment during the lead up to the big day. Once all the surprises have been discovered, the box folds open into a backdrop to complete the scene. The set features iconic characters in their 1955 and 1985 outfits, including Marty Mcfly, Doc, Biff, and Jennifer, as well as props and locations fans know well. A lenticular postcard provides a bonus for fans.
Edx Education 0207 097 5173 www.edxeducation.com
Edx Education has launched many home learning games and kits. Home learning toys contribute to the way children play especially in their early developmental stages. During children’s early years we want them to develop specific skills through play such as fine motor, gross motor, speech and language, social and emotional, problem solving and creativity. Early Math101 to go is everything kids need to play and learn early maths at home or on the go in one box. Each kit includes high-quality manipulatives, activity cards and a full colour activity booklet designed by experts for parents. Help children learn and watch their confidence grow!
Christmas is coming Craft Buddy
0203 417 6565 www.craftbuddyltd.co.uk Following high consumer demand throughout lockdown, Crystal Art manufacturer Craft Buddy has unveiled its latest seasonal product range. The new AW20 range includes tantalising new product formats such as the new Triptych series, containing three framed Crystal Art canvases which, when complete, can be hung together or individually; and new Crystal Art Wreath Kit and Keyring Kit collections. Adding to the Christmas glow, the Crystal Art Giant Cards collection has just got bigger with four new cards each depicting their own wintry scene – and, of course, cameos from Father Christmas. They will be joined by additional Crystal Art Sticker collections, new festive notebook designs and a variety of new products in fan-favourite formats.
NEW Rags and riches Posh Paws International 01268 567317 www.poshpawsinternational. co.uk Ragtales is the brand-new collection of British-designed toys that are perfectly suited for newborns, toddlers and young children. The entire Ragtales collection is made with precision sewing techniques to ensure a finished product that lasts a lifetime, with gorgeous handpicked fabrics, the softest velour, and handknitted clothing. The range offers everything from comforters, little booties, toy rattles and teddy bears for babies, to beautiful Ragtag animals and elegant Ragdoll characters for toddlers and young children to snuggle up with. The characters found in the collection have been carefully created to accompany children on the journey through their early years. They are full of charm and draw inspiration from the heritage of English life.
Green machine Vivid Imaginations 01483 449944 www.vividtoysandgames.co.uk The Science4you range goes from strength to strength with a brand-new take on science kits for 2020: Green Science, the first environmentally friendly, plastic-free, ecological and biodegradable scientific toy. The flagship Green Science product is an educational toy that invites little ones to enter a great mission: help save the planet. It aims to teach children to take advantage of the potential of the materials already used and turn them into scientific toys. Green Science is accompanied by a number of other eco-science products designed to help children understand recycling, renewable energy, sustainability and more about the world around them. Linking directly to the national curriculum for key stages 1-4, Science4you introduces a range of products to extend a child’s learning from school to home in an entertaining way.
Create a splash Zimpli Kids
01254 460006 www.zimplikids.com Zimpli Kids’ brand-new Rainbow and Rocket Baff Bombz create a scene as soon as they enter water with vivid multi-coloured swirls of magical colours and fiery blasts of colour! Perfect for sensory play with its wide range of unique textures, eye-popping colours and visual effects and a gentle fizzing sound these Baff Bombz are the perfect bath time activity for those sensory seeking youngsters. Making bath time, fun time is simple with the Rainbow and Rocket Baff Bombz.
Thank you NHS!
Rainbows have been a symbol of support for the NHS over the past few months, and Zimpli Kids will donate 100 per cent of net proﬁts of the Rainbow Baff Bombz to the health service. Money will be donated to NHS Charities Together, a group of 250 charitable organisations that supports the NHS, its staff, volunteers and patients.
Block and rock Baby Brands Direct 0208 845 5000 www.babybrandsdirect. co.uk There are no toys more classic and timeless than stacking and shape sorting toys. FisherPrice has combined two of its most popular toys in the Baby’s First Blocks and Rock-a-Stack Gift Set gift set. Suitable from six months, Baby’s First Blocks consists of 10 colourful blocks for sorting, stacking and drop-through play, allowing kids to learn through trial and error. The iconic Rock-a-Stack toy features a rocker base and colourful rings to grasp and stack, helping baby develop their fine motor and problem-solving skills. With no batteries, or electronic components, these toys are simple, yet entertaining and challenging. What’s more, these classic toys from Fisher-Price have been refreshed and renewed for today’s eco-conscious consumer market. Made from plant-based, renewable materials, and packaged in FSC-certified packaging, these toys provide all the same fun and entertainment as previous versions, with less impact on the planet. 35
GAMES AND PUZZLES
House rules Families in lockdown turned to games and puzzles for a social escape, giving the category a second spike outside the usual Christmas period. But does that mean a cold Christmas is on the cards?
Lucy Vaughan, Assistant Brand rdinarily in this feature at Manager, Vivid, has tracked the unusual this time of year, suppliers trajectory of sales throughout 2020. and retailers tell the TnP “Goliath games tend to follow the same team that they’re gearing sales peak as the up for Christmas games category and are expecting which was typically big things. But, of very late leading course, 2020 has into the last two to been anything but three weeks before ordinary. Lockdown, Christmas,” she though beginning reveals. “This year, to feel like a distant of course, throws all memory, continues this thinking up in to haunt our daily the air as there has lives, the ways we already been such work and how we Kay Thompson, Winning Moves high demand for socialise and blow our games such as off steam. And Sequence and The Escape Room during while the nation reached for comfort lockdown.” food, binge-worthy Netflix series, and But it wasn’t just cabin fever that sent perhaps an increase in mid-week alcohol families scrabbling for new games. consumption, the toy industry played its own part in keeping “Even with restrictions lifted, there has been a families entertained: positive move towards games and puzzles. finding more frequent The upside to an family moments otherwise grim period has been a major boost together and this has to one of the industry’s kept the games category oldest and most in the spotlight over the reliable categories. summer months,” Lucy At Vivid, new owner says. Other winners over Goliath Games has the period include Asmodee, which made a huge impact on enjoyed a period of “unseasonably high the UK games market, and saw sales sales”, with best-sellers Dobble and the peak well outside the usual Chrsitmas most recent wave of Pokemon cards window.
“Given recent events, we’ve noticed a sudden increase in puzzles as everyone’s at home looking for something to do”
NPD Top 10 best-selling games and puzzles, first 6 months 2020 Monopoly Classic, Hasbro Dobble, Asmodee UNO Card Game Asst, Mattel Jenga Classic, Hasbro Scrabble Original, Mattel Rubik’s Cube, John Adams Pokemon Hidden Fates Tin, Asmodee Cluedo, Hasbro Twister, Hasbro Articulate, Tomy doing particularly well, reveals Marketing Manager Ben Hogg. “Whilst we wish the circumstances in how this has come about were different, it is great that people are turning to games and puzzles as an entertainment medium for both children and adults,” Ben adds. It’s a similar story for Winning Moves, says Kay Thompson, Head of UK Sales: “Given recent events, we’ve noticed a sudden increase in puzzles as everyone’s at home looking for something to do, and puzzles are the perfect escape from reality.”
Comfort gaming A quick glance at the latest NPD figures makes it clear that families were falling back on old favourites to keep their spirits up. Cluedo, Monopoly, Scrabble,
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GAMES AND PUZZLES
and modern classic Articulate all feature in NPD’s top 10 best-sellers for the first half of the year. But that doesn’t mean suppliers have been sitting on their hands. Innovation, and keeping the fundamentals fresh remain vital for drawing in new audiences and keeping Lucy Vaughan, Vivid the attention of long-time puzzlers and board game buffs. “A great puzzle must have a beautiful and engaging image following a popular or current theme,” says Rebecca Hersee, Marketing Manager at Gibsons. “The colours must be strong and the puzzle must be made from thick and durable board. The most important thing with games is that they must be fun! However, they also need stand-out packaging to gain attention among the vast amounts of competition.” The Gibsons team has also been busy developing jigsaws with appeal to entirely new audiences. “We have just added some innovative products to our range,” Rebecca says. “Our Piecing Together Collection is unique as it was created to
provide those have had their exposure to living with games over lockdown and dementia, a good number will be keen limited fineto see what else they might motor skills enjoy,” he says. or visual Vivid’s Goliath impairments Games portfolio with a fun activity is also readying that can be enjoyed alone for a big or with a loved one.” Christmas Creating compelling season, with “lots of gameplay remains at the heart new games launching of University Games’ offering, says this season”. Mark Jones, Head of Sales: “A game “One thing is for sure,” says needs to entertain and challenge for Lucy. “Christmas is not cancelled – so we whatever age category it is set.” are planning for strong sales leading up Licenses also play a key role, drawing to the big day!” on the connections and fondness kids Mark reckons, despite an early rush on have for their favourite the category, the peak is still to come at characters and worlds, University Games and beyond. and extending the “We are seeing the toy category, in enjoyment out into general, still performing well, even in family time. these difficult financial times,” he says. “I “Our licensed games believe the peak will still come in Q4 for category performs the games and puzzles category, but we exceptionally well as understand these are uncertain times.” children tend to form strong associations with the brands and characters,” Mark Jo Goldberg of The Abbeyfield Society shares says. “The World of David an uplifting of how a donation from The Happy Walliams Gangsta Granny Puzzle Company helped thousands of residents and Grandpa’s Great Escape during lockdown board games and the Horrible “As a housing and care provider of over 400 Histories board game are very supported, independent and residential houses strong sellers for us.” and homes throughout the UK, retaining independence while feeling part of a community Cold Christmas? is integral to the Abbeyfield ethos. Puzzles and Success so early in the year games enable residents to retain independence has seen sales boom in most while feeling part of a community, as well as quarters of the games and stimulating brain function and helping to stave off puzzles market. Good news mental decline. for quarterly sales targets, and We were incredibly fortunate that The Happy even better news for retailers Puzzle Company kindly donated nearly 500 that were hit the hardest puzzles so we were able to provide at least one during the government– and in some cases more – to every Abbeyfield enforced trading lockdown. house and home, meaning that every single But how will that impact resident could have Christmas sales – that time access to a puzzle. of the year when games We have around and puzzles traditionally 8,000 residents and take off ? Are the public all a significant number games and puzzled out? are puzzle and game Asmodee’s Ben believes enthusiasts, so this nothing could be further donation has given from the truth: that the them lots of pleasure category is poised for a and enjoyment.” potentially hallmark year. “We feel this could Left: Resident Barbara put games and puzzles enjoys the Number into a strong position to Jumble game continue to be popular this Christmas as more people
“Christmas is not cancelled – so we are planning for strong sales leading up to the big day!”
Games as therapy
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GAMES AND PUZZLES
Dobble or nothing Asmodee
01420 593593 www.asmodee.co.uk
Asmodee’s flagship Dobble range continues to go from strength to strength. Following the successful launch of the giant-sized Dobble XXL for summer fun, a major focus this the holiday period will be Dobble 360, which adds a 360-degree twist to the smash-hit game of speedy observation. Featuring a mechanised display system that rotates two cards while players try to spot the matching image between them, it adds a memory challenge to Dobble’s already addictive family fun! An exciting new licensed edition of Dobble, the UK’s number one game of 2018 and 2019, launched earlier this year in the form of The Gruffalo Dobble, with another – Dobble L.O.L. Surprise, partnering with the best-selling toy brand – about to make its debut. New licensed editions and more environmentally friendly packaging are part of the brand’s even bigger plans for 2021. Brand-new games have also made an impression, including the riotously funny party game Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza. Players recite silly words as they take turns playing cards and frantically rushing to perform actions when a matching or special card is revealed.
Classics on the rise
Some of Asmodee’s Modern Classics made significant gains during lockdown, particularly iconic titles Catan, Ticket to Ride and Pandemic. A wide-reaching digital campaign will back all these games in Q4 to support listings at retail.
Having a ball! Baby Brands Direct www.babybrandsdirect.co.uk 0208 845 5000 Everyone loves to challenge themselves with a puzzle – and babies and toddlers are no different. During the first week of lockdown, games and puzzles was the biggest selling toy category, flying out of toy stores up and down the country, as retailers organised home deliveries while their shops were shut. One of the best things about the Baby Brands Direct’s selection of shape sorters, puzzles and games is that they are all screen-free. They will appeal to any family that wants to get back to traditional values and encourage their children to get their brains into gear. One of the most unusual and popular puzzle toys in Baby Brands’ selection is the Fisher-Price Hedgehog Ball. Shape or roll this cute character and he will reward little ones with puzzles that help pre-schoolers learn and keep active at the same time! Plus there’s plenty more puzzling fun from top brands such as FisherPrice, Janod, Mattel and Tomy. Baby Brands offers a great range of toys from a host of leading brands to wholesale customers. With great perks such as loyalty credit, volume discounts and a strong after care service, it is are one of the leading wholesalers of baby and children’s products in the UK.
GAMES AND PUZZLES
Slice of the action! Big Potato 0203 620 9495 www.bigpotato.co.uk Delivered fresh this summer, Big Potato’s latest quick-thinking, answer-shouting letter game P for Pizza is perfect for fast-paced play at home or on the go – thanks to its handy, travel-sized pizza slice box packaging. The aim of the game is to collect nine pizza slices before anyone else. To do this, players have to pick a category, think of an answer that starts with the letter opposite. For example, if you needed a TV show beginning with B, you could shout ‘Baywatch’ or ‘Bob the Builder’! The first player to shout out an answer grabs a slice and adds it to their collection. Big Potato now designs, manufactures and distributes over 25 games in 26 different countries. Best-sellers include Obama Llama, The Chameleon and Blockbuster.
Christmas comes early Gibsons 020 8661 8866 www.gibsonsgames.co.uk Gibsons is introducing an array of jigsaw puzzles and family games this autumn, from extra-large piece puzzles or quirky Christmas gifts, and everything inbetween. Great entertainment for the whole family, Pass the Pud is a family-favourite Christmas game. The action-packed team game for four or more players tests everyone’s nerves to the limits as they answer questions in a race against time to beat the burp. Packaging for Pass the Pud has been fully redesigned, and is now plastic-free and smaller to cut down on the amount of cardboard used. The new packaging is part of a wider initiative at Gibsons to reduce the environmental impact of all its products. This year Gibsons is back with the ultimate 24-door jigsaw puzzle advent calendar, Christmas Around The World. Inside this magical box are 22 festive-shaped jigsaw puzzles featuring Christmas traditions from around the world. Hidden behind the remaining doors is puzzle glue and ribbon which can be used to turn the jigsaw puzzles into beautiful hanging decorations. The Jigsaw Puzzle Bauble has also been reimagined. Puzzlers can indulge in Christmas sparkle as they put together 200 pieces of bauble magic. The jigsaw inside this festive trinket will provide hours of entertainment and look magnificent on any tinsel-laden Christmas tree. Last year Gibsons launched its White Logo Range of contemporary design puzzles. In August, two new circular puzzles, London Buildings and Rainbow Heroes, were added to the collection, and a brand-new 1000 piece puzzle, Taste of Christma, now joins the collection. Styled by paper artist and wedding designer Rachel Emma Waring, this puzzle is the perfect Christmas gift.
Find your perfect night in with University Games ON TV NOW
University Games UK Ltd
31 Newington Green, Islington, London N16 9PU
Telephone 020 7254 0100: Email: oďŹƒce@ugames.uk.com www.university-games.co.uk
GAMES AND PUZZLES
Something for everyone! Galt Toys/Jumbo 0161 428 9111 www.galttoys.com There’s no doubt that 2020 has seen its fair share of ups and downs, but throughout these unprecedented times, the nation’s love of puzzles remains a welcome source of fun and relaxation for children and adults alike. Puzzles are an essential tool for encouraging children to learn through play, which is vital for early development. They’re also an established part of the trend for activities that promote mindfulness among adult consumers. The latest releases from Galt Toys and Jumbo offer something for all with a range of exciting new products to make sure consumers and retailers alike end the year on a positive note. Galt Toys has plenty to keep children engaged and entertained from an early age, with Baby Puzzles suitable from just 18 months, and the new Counting Puzzle and Shapes Puzzle for ages 2 and up, offering the perfect introduction to puzzling. In spectacular Wasgij style, Wasgij The marvellous Christmas 16 The Christmas Show! is a puzzle with a hilarious twist, as a school Magic Puzzles, fabulous 4 Christmas play takes an unexpected Puzzles in a turn! With this release, there is also an Box, and jolly extra 1,000-piece puzzle of the box Giant Floor image included absolutely free. Puzzles help to nurture their interest as they grow. Featuring colourful characters and exciting illustrations with themes such as Jungles, Dinosaurs, Fairy Palaces and Pirate Ships, there is something to suit every child’s interests. This season also brings the eagerly awaited release of a diverse range of beautiful and entertaining adult puzzles from Jumbo, with brand new products from Falcon de Luxe, Wasgij and Jan Van Haasteren. Fans are sure to be delighted by the release of the 2020 official Christmas puzzles, The Christmas Carousel and Santa by the Christmas Tree from Falcon de Luxe, sure to spread plenty of festive cheer alongside the wintery scenes of The Christmas Cottage and Christmas Puppies.
Liars and losers Hasbro
020 8569 1234 www.hasbro.com Irreverent and modern twists on the classics reinvents two of Hasbro’s best-loved games. Monopoly for Sore Losers is the latest iteration of the world famous board game - and this time, it actually pays to lose. Forget squirrelling away extra cash in fear of that dreaded hotel your opponent just put on Mayfair; this time, pulling the short straw will instead see you rewarded. Going straight to jail? Rolled your way to tax or rent hell? Ran out of cash? In a twist of fate, players collect sore loser coins as typically bad things happen to them, giving them the opportunity to gain advantages to fight their way to the front. Collect four sore loser coins and trade your token in to play as the Mr. Monopoly Ultimate Sore Loser token. Now you can get paid for landing on another player’s property, take a turn away from another player, and other bad moves in traditional Monopoly. This hilarious twist will unite the family in the fight for the biggest loser. The game ends when all the properties have been purchased and each player has made it back to Go. Then the player with the most cash - sore loser or not - wins. In Cluedo Liars, the aim of the game is to lie your way to the truth. The world’s leading murder mystery board game is back, and this time, causing mischief and trouble will pay dividends. It’s Cluedo, but with added bluffing and subterfuge! This new edition will see friends and family tackle an additional deck of investigation cards – or truth and lie cards. Players work their way through the interrogation room by exposing their competitors’ questionable poker face and hit the liar button to call out the game’s biggest deceivers. Get it right and the rival will give up an evidence card, but get it wrong and you lose out.
ES M A G H T IA L O G H W IT
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Tel: 01483 449944
GAMES AND PUZZLES
Heroes and villains Ravensburger
01869 363 800 i www.ravensburger.com The second half brings a tranche of launches across games and puzzles from Ravensburger. Already named a Toy Fair Hero Toy, Big Money is the game of risky rolls and big investments sees players take their chances with the three throws of the dice to grow their fortunes and then invest in exciting businesses in a bid to become a zillionaire. Classic game Labyrinth is also set for newness with 3D Labyrinth joining the range and taking the gameplay to new dimensions. Players are challenged to find their way through the 3D style maze to find the treasure. For younger children, action game, Slimy Joe combines edge-of-the-seat fun with gooey slime. Players take turns to pick flutterbies from inside the giant carnivorous plant’s mouth, hoping it won’t snap shut on their turn. Ravensburger continues to grow its immersive games portfolio with high profile partnerships seeing the company further making its mark in the category. Recent launch Back to the Future: Dice Through Time, offers an authentic dive into the world of the popular movie franchise in the form of
a cooperative dice game. With half a million Villainous games sold to date, new launch Marvel Villainous: Infinite Power is much anticipated, and sees players take on the role of an iconic comic book villain, including the Avengers’ nemesis Thanos. Ravensburger achieved impressive results with adult puzzles in 2019, and continues to see strong category growth in 2020. With the festive season fastapproaching, Ravensburger is readying 24th launch in a series of limited-edition 1000-piece Christmas puzzles, as well as the delightful We Wish Moo a Merry Christmas 500-piece animal selfie puzzle. Joining a raft of launches in adult 2D puzzles, these jigsaws offer a perfect activity for holiday afternoons. In 3D puzzles, the latest data reflects strong double-digit growth for Ravensburger. New for autumn is a lightup Gingerbread House and a 3D puzzle incarnation of the Lamborghini Huracán, which joins the popular Porsche 911 and Porsche GT3 Cup in the 3D car collection.
New puzzle licenses • • • •
Hey Duggee Elmer Ricky Zoom 44 Cats
With Friends like these… Spin Master
01628 535000 www.spinmaster.com Spin Master has a range of new games to enjoy this season, including Grouch Couch, an amusing and interactive preschool game; H5 Toppling Dominos, which has been created in partnership with professional domino artist Lily Hevesh; and Rubiks Perplexus, combining the Rubik’s Cube and the Perplexus Puzzle Ball in a new and innovative way. Also, Friends fans won’t be disappointed with the introduction of a new trivia game based on a game from the sitcom that the gang famously played in The One with the Embryos episode. Friends – The One With the Apartment Bet, is the perfect game for fans to show off their Friends knowledge. With four categories to play – Fears and Peeves, Ancient History, Literature and It’s All Relative – this game is the ultimate Friends trivia test. When it comes to jigsaws, Spin Rubik’s Perplexus Hybrid 2 x 2 Master has some great new ranges for puzzlers of all ages to enjoy. Lovers of classic 80s films will go mad for the new Blockbuster range – complete with VHS-case packaging unites two mind-challenging puzzles – featuring fan favourite movies like E.T, The Breakfast Club and Jaws. Those looking for in one! Puzzlers must complete something more relaxing will love Spin Master’s new Calm range of puzzles. Featuring the maze, and complete the cube, beautiful artwork that ties in with meditations on the popular app, these Calm puzzles are helping to build problem-solving the perfect way to practice mindfulness. skills through challenging and Have a blast and learn to make domino art with H5 Toppling Dominoes Kit, a set of 100 engaging gameplay. Plus, it is the dominoes and accessories from the world’s leading domino artist, Lily Hevesh. Domino perfect size for on-the-go fun! Creations includes easy-to-follow directions with full-colour photographs.
GAMES AND PUZZLES
Fun for the whole family University Games
020 7254 0100 www.university-games.co.uk Games and puzzles specialist University Games has over 750 lines now available, following the acquisition of the Lagoon Group this summer, catering for pre-school through to adult and there is still more to come! It is going to be a truly magical Christmas for Harry Potter fans with the super successful range of Harry Potter Puzzles. Launched this summer, the range of 3D puzzles allow fans to collect and piece together iconic wizarding buildings and locations. Sets including Hogwarts Castle, Hogwarts Express and buildings from the famous Diagon Alley including Gringotts Bank and Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. Joining the Harry Potter range this autumn are the super challenging new Harry Potter Head 2 Toe Ultimate 9 Card Puzzle Challenges. With three different styles to choose from, the fantastically difficult puzzles with just 9-pieces have thousands of incorrect combinations… but only one correct way! For all the super sleuths out there, the new Murder Mystery Party Case Files arrives this autumn. The Cary Underwood cold case
has been reopened and it is down to the team to solve the murder. With over 50 pieces of evidence, and hints and conclusions online, the case will take a true detective mind. New additions to University Games’ family and adult portfolios include the Dumb Criminals board game, which will have players questioning just why are criminals so dumb? In the children’s portfolio, University Games have a whole series of brilliant games available from The World of David Walliams, including Gangsta Granny’s Stash the Swag, Grandpa’s Great Escape Twilight Towers Amazing Break Out and the Mega-Tastic Challenges board games as well as four fantastic educational games and 250-piece jigsaw puzzles. There is also the ever popular Horrible Histories board game, Tyrannosaurus Rex, What’s Up, Charades for Kids and Yes!No! Now available to keep the youngest members of the family entertained is the new In the Night Garden series featuring the double-sided The Great Garden Adventure board game. Also available is a 16 piece Giant Floor Puzzle and a 4 in 1 Puzzle Set, all of which have been created specifically for preschoolers from two years of age.
Goliath offering Vivid Imaginations
01483 449944 www.vividtoysandgames.co.uk Building on fantastic sales success in spring 2020, Goliath Games has lots of exciting new launches in AW20 across pre-school, kids, and adult and family categories. Proven winners and classic titles will also carry forward, cementing the Goliath Games range as an all-encompassing games portfolio across target audiences. For younger kids there is brand-new game Banana Blast. Banana Joe sits atop his monkey hill guarding his bananas all day. Players need to try and steal them from him – but watch out, one of the bananas will make him jump! Another exciting introduction is the stinking hippo game Burping Bobby. Feed Bobby with his food tokens and then turn the handle and watch him eat. But if you’re the one who overfeeds him then be prepared for his terrible green belch! Alongside Bobby, Johnny the Skull: Pirates Cove is another new game, packed with ghost-blasting, pirate-themed action. The adult and family games portfolio is bolstered with the introduction of BBC Earth: Animals, the ultimate interactive trivia challenge based on the hit BBC Earth series. Featuring real clips from the various hit BBC TV series, strong titles such as Sequence, Catchphrase, On Your Marks and Wordsearch game will carry forward into 2020. The pre-school, kids and family and adult games will benefit from TV, alongside a strong digital campaign targeting parents and gift givers across a variety of games across the autumn-winter season.
GAMES AND PUZZLES
0207 298 9507 www.winningmoves.co.uk
Did you know?
A recent focus on puzzles has seen Winning Moves nearly double its SKUs in the category, from 13 to 25! Despite what has undoubtedly been a tumultuous year, the Winning Moves team is excited and optimistic for what is yet to come. All facets of the business has sustained - especially an uptick in online business - but the company is busy doing everything possible to support its bricks-and-mortar retailers, and help this vital part of the industry get back to full strength. Winning Moves has adapted its manufacturing to be flexible to ramp up production, and has so far achieved an availability rate of 95 per cent across the our range, with prompt deliveries. An exciting and key new launch in Winning Moves’ puzzle offering for Q4 brings an entirely new style of puzzle to the market. You’ve heard of Regional Monopoly, but have you heard of Regional Puzzles? Bringing local communities together with puzzles of some of the country’s most-loved locations, fans can piece together a Monopoly board containing an iconic image from one of the following locations: London, Harrogate, Huddersfield, Dublin and Edinburgh. Each edition contains 1000 pieces. In addition to the community puzzles, Winning Moves is also launching two editions of Animal Crossing puzzles: a 500-piece and 1000-piece. Winning Moves aims to bring the hottest licenses on the market to assist with getting the right product to the customer, with more of the hottest products and properties to come in 2021.
Who’s that Pokémon? Character Options 0161 633 9800 www.character-online.com Character Options is shaking things up with a brand-new name for its family games portfolio plus a triumph in trivia for Pokémon fans. With PenSilly, drawing games have never been so silly. This raucous new drawing and guessing game is perfect for all the family. At the center of each game is the crazy and characterful shaking pen, PenSilly. To play, simply choose one of the 75 description cards and 75 subject cards, switch on the PenSilly, and attempt to draw the image the cards describe before the timer runs out. There are two levels of play and over 5,500 drawing combinations. Whether a wobbly giraffe or a frightened spider, the skill is in controlling this super shaky pen long enough for teammates to guess the answer before the timer runs out! Pokémon fans will also be scratching their heads as they test their knowledge of Pikachu and pals with the Pokémon Trainer Trivia Game. Play alone to test your knowledge or with up to four players to compete and become the Pokémon master. With over 1,000 facts to be tested on, would-be-trainers must be quick and know their stuff if they are to succeed in this game. There are three levels of play – beginner, advanced or expert – and the virtual games master takes care of everything: reading the rules, asking the questions and keeping score. 50
GAMES AND PUZZLES
Back of the net! GP Flair
0208 643 0320 www.flairgp.co.uk With football now back on the cards and the new season underway, Flair’s football inspired card game Goal 10 is the perfect game of strategy and team building that will be a winner whether played home or away. Ideal for two to five players – or more if combining packs – Goal 10 includes everything for a fast action game packed full of challenges. The 65 high quality cards include playing staff, match highlights and the sought-after bonus cards. To play, draw one card from the pile and attack the opponent with super moves. The first to score five goals will win the match. But be careful as players can be thrown into a post-game spat on TV – or find themselves taking a nerve-wracking penalty.
Pieces of great Great Gizmos 01293 543221 www.ggtrade.co.uk Brand new to popular KidzLabs is the GameMaker range which combines games to make and then play. Fun activities are also included. Kids can build their own game and go on an amazing pirate adventure with ElectroBuzz Pirate Treasure Hunt, and challenge their friends to see who has the best hand-eye coordination. Spin the wheel of fortune to discover what treasure you are destined for. Then move quickly and carefully to find the treasure hidden on the island. Carefully pick up the treasure with the pirate hook without touching the buzz wire base. Collect all the islands treasure to complete the adventure. Dino World Paint & Play is a fantastic kit that includes six dinosaur game pieces and a volcano to decorate, a game board to play on, dice and game instructions to follow. Bring the dinosaurs to life and guide them safely through the dangerous Dino Park. There is also a number of experiments that can be performed, including making the volcano erupt! This kit is for children over the age of five.
World piece Toynamics
0116 478 5230 www.toynamics.co.uk Hape’s range of different puzzles provides children of all ages with hours of fun. The range is available in six different levels that range from small, four-piece puzzles all the way up to 100-piece puzzles, including the mighty Solar System Puzzle. Hape also offers a range of games and mazes that provide endless entertainment including the new Jungle Maze, with pinball style ball loader and magnetic pen, children can move the balls around the maze and organise them by colour or get them to the other side. Hape also offer the popular 2-in-1 World Tour Puzzle and Game. Providing hours of fun, the 100-piece puzzle turns into a board game once completed, for up to four people to play. Hape’s puzzles and games are exclusively distributed by Toynamics in the UK & Ireland.
A Christmas game that the whole family can enjoy!
E CONN S
THIN THI GS
@gibsons_games @gibsons_games /gibsonsgamesofficial
UEE CLUE CLUES
email@example.com www.gibsonsgames.co.uk 020 8661 8866
GAMES AND PUZZLES
All fun and games Mattel
Mattel is bringing a host of new ranges and expanding iconic favourites. Uno is adding new and exciting ways to play - switch up classic UNO gameplay by writing your own rules using the customisable and erasable wild cards. Also new for AW20 is Uno Showdown, the game as you know it but with a new, unexpected twist. Wait for the lights and sounds of the showdown unit to signal, it’s time to pull off your speediest reaction. The aim of the game is to be the first to push the pedal; the quickest player wins the draw and sends extra cards flying at their opponent! There are also some great Uno licenses including, Minions, Super Mario, Trolls, Frozen II, WWE and Rick n Morty. Each licensed Uno will feature a special move that is unique to the license. After a sell-out launch in AW19, Pictionary Air continues to bring families together making screen time, family time! This year, Puglicious joins Mattel’s kids and pre-school range. A perfect game for dog lovers, Puglicious features an adorable pug begging for treats and catching the ones stacked on his nose – or trying to! Kids take turns stacking
01628 500000 www.mattel.com
treats, then pushing the pug’s paw to see how many he can eat. Also new kids and pre-school is Inky’s Fortune, the game that tests patience and dexterity. Kids take turns trying to sneak gems from Inky, the sleeping octopus. He may look like he’s dozing, but if you aren’t careful enough when trying to steal the gems, he’ll spring into action and shoot his ink blot. If you are looking for the ultimate head-to-head competition, Bounce Off is a great game for young adults and families. Flip over a challenge card to determine the pattern, then race to recreate the pattern by bouncing balls into the grid. Stake your claim and protect your territory with Mattel’s strategic game Blokus, a fantastic family game. Players take turns placing their 21 pieces on the board: each piece must touch another of the same colour, but only at the corners. Fit as many of your pieces on the board as possible while strategically blocking your opponents. Finally, for escape room fans, there’s The Walking Dead Escape Room in a Box. Different from other escape room games, players are trying to break into a room, rather than out.
Top of the shops Orchard Toys
01953 859525 www.orchardtoys.com
Did you know?
A copy of Orchard Toys’ Shopping List game is sold every five minutes!
Orchard Toys is celebrating the 25th birthday of its best-selling game Shopping List this Q4. Over the past 25 years, the game has been refreshed with five design revisions to keep it up to date, but the tried and tested gameplay has remained the same – a testament to the success of this product. In the shopping-themed matching and memory game, players race to be the first to fill their shopping trolley or basket by collecting the items on their list. As the game grew in popularity, Orchard Toys extended the Shopping List range with two Extras packs. These are perfect for extending play value, offering greater variety within the game and giving retailers the chance to further capitalise on the success of Shopping List. Orchard Toys will be launching their 25 Years of Shopping List celebrations throughout October which will be supported by a marketing and PR campaign. Suitable for ages three to seven
years, Shopping List is a firm favourite in many families’ toy collections. It is no surprise that this family favourite has been top of Orchard Toys’ best-sellers list for the past 15 years. In addition to the 25th anniversary celebrations, Orchard Toys is also launching Silly Sausage Dogs, a fun-filled counting and colour recognition game. Suitable for children age four-plus and for two to six players, this silly game guarantees fun for all the family. Silly Sausage Dogs couples the popular theme of sausage dogs with all the fun you would expect from an Orchard Toys game. Players race to build the longest sausage dog with the most spots on its jumper. With two alternative endings this game will offer fun play after play. This new product is a welcome addition to the range and is sure to be a big hit in the Q4 gifting period. August saw the addition of Speed Spelling to Orchard Toys’ existing range of educational games.
Magic and marbles Tomy
01392 281928 www.tomy.com
With the nation spending more time than ever at home in recent months, households have re-discovered their love for games to keep their families entertained. Tomy Games recently added a new license to its portfolio with a Harry Potter board game in August – a magical quiz perfect for four or more Harry Potter enthusiasts. This virtual game follows a decade of unforgettable magic and, with over 1000 questions, is perfect to test knowledge of avid superfans, parents and kids. Tomy follows up on its classic marble July also saw the highly anticipated maze Screwball Scramble this AW with launch of the second edition of its Logo a new challenge that can connect to the Board Game hit the shelves. Featuring all original to create a giant play board. new questions and brands, this new game for Drumond Park is sure to be a huge hit with best long-time Logo fans and those playing it for the first time. Also new to the Drumond Park family games category is the launch of Fill Your Pants, a unique take on a scavenger hunt that is both easy to play and certain to guarantee a night of family fun. With 50 different possible categories, including “something spotty”, “something shiny” and “something squishy”, each game offers a new and hysterical combination. Another well-loved addition to the category is Drumond Park’s Sketchy. This drawing game requires one team member to draw pictures onto the screen provided which will then appear on the reverse side for the opposing team to guess. With this latest launch you need not be Monet to enjoy it. AW20 also sees Tomy Games launch Screwball Scramble Level 2, a topsy-turvy crazy maze. Featuring ten new obstacles and fun new surprises, this game is certain to challenge kids’ skill patience and dexterity as they steer their ball through the tabletop board. The sequel to the classic game of Screwball Scramble also connects to the original game to form one giant maze with a bridge attachment for those who seek even more fun.
A classic returns
“Toys are the best way for parents to support children” What sort of problems do you help children with and what are the root causes of these issues?
Psychologist Maryhan Baker, a specialist in children with confidence and anxiety issues, talks toys as a tool for therapy – and which playthings parents could try to help kids get to grips with the effects of lockdown and our tumultuous ‘new normal’
*(A parentally administered cognitive development assessment for children from 10 to 24 months, Infant Behavior and Development, 2013)
My expertise is working with children who struggle with low confidence or anxiety, and this can be the result of a difficulty they have experienced in life, or can be part of a wider SEN, such as ADHD, ASD, or a lack of emotional maturity. I also have expertise in how games and activities can help promote language development and have published my own doctorate research in this area in 2013*. And how do you use toys in helping kids help themselves?
Anxieties, and challenges around self-esteem, which were simmering or already present seem to have become more magnified and parents are feeling bewildered about what best to do to support their children. What’s key is having an open dialogue and this is where games are so helpful. A well time game of Scrabble, Monopoly or Snakes and Ladders reconnects the family and eases communication. What do you think parents will want help with, and how can toys be used to help with that?
The common challenges parents face are helping I have always found toys a useful medium to engage children, their children understand and manage their enabling them to talk more openly about their challenges. If emotions, and increasing their resilience you are already struggling with low confidence, anxiety, or managing your emotions, then Toys act as and confidence. Toys, in my view are the single best way for parents to support sitting across a room from someone who is a medium… their children. I always recommend looking directly at you can feel incredibly allowing parents spend at least 30 minutes each threatening. Toys act as a medium, a third-party barriers to be day playing with their children, as it the barrier as such, where you can both focus your time when children are most open and brought down attention, allowing barriers to be brought down likely to reveal any challenges they face. and a genuine, open dialogue to begin. Children and a genuine, Play also aids learning and development are more open when you engage with them in open dialogue across a number of skills; social, emotional, collaborative side-by-side play rather than face to begin cognitive and physical. It is therefore to face. Toys are also a critical tool to promote also vital children engage in their own children’s development across all areas - not unstructured play each day as it also serves as a way only social and emotional but also language and cognition. for them to deconstruct their days and make sense of their own world experience. What issues might children be experiencing because of the
pandemic? Are you seeing this with your own patients? There are two broad challenges children are facing as a result of the pandemic: a difficulty managing emotions due to increased uncertainty, and decreased social interactions outside their family, which has impacted their friendships and social interactions. Whilst parents have been home, you could argue there has been a greater opportunity to play. But the reality is parents have struggled with the difficulty of juggling their own work and their children’s entertainment and school work. There has been a huge reliance on digital devices to entertain children and, as a result, younger children in particular have missed out on their usual peer social interaction and play, which would have served as a good outlet for emotions. Older children and teens have been isolated from their friendships and therefore missed out on their social contact. Whilst devices have been helpful at maintaining some contact, it has been detriment in many other ways; creating anxieties and insecurities which would ordinarily have been dealt with quickly when they were able to meet friends regularly in person.
Please feel free to mention any specific toys or manufacturers that you find useful. I love Orchard Toys as a company and have adapted their games to support younger pre-school, and early years aged children. They are great for promoting turn taking, building resilience, and an understanding of other viewpoints. Cuddly toys, dolls, animals and super hero toys are also really helpful for activities around building emotional literacy, problem solving, and role playing as children find it easier to consider how ‘Leo the Lion’ for example, might find other ways of managing his anger than always ‘roaring’ at his friends. Children are also much more able to talk about challenges they have faced in their day, be that friendship issues or difficulties in their school work whilst they are playing. Toys are a fantastic way for parents to reconnect and engage with a child, who might otherwise be quite resistant to talking, and the best way to promote their learning.
New names, new opportunities
use Facebook (2.3m). ith more ways to connect Recently passing two with consumers globally billion global downloads, it than ever before, there has experienced one of the have never been more fastest ever adoption rates opportunities for new names to break for a social platform. through and quickly gain followers We have seen that around the world – opening up more industries that have merchandise opportunities. experimented early on with KSI, who originally found fame the app have benefited. making FIFA video game YouTube The music industry is one videos, may not be well-known in the that has with the platform mainstream media, but he is one of this now being a route for generation’s biggest entertainers and artists or songs to become personalities. Currently, 7 per cent of a hit. Lil Nas kids say KSI is their X and Dua favourite YouTuber, Social Lipa are both peaking with boys platforms and examples of artists to aged 15-18, and he is have gone viral on TikTok. also the ninth favourite gaming are Meanwhile the top two famous person for this most-followed artist are group. Recently he has becoming the new Charli D’Amelio (16yrs) overtaken PewDiePie, way to connect with 70.8m followers, and who held the top spot with the next Addison Rae (19yrs) with throughout 2019 to generation of 50.2m, whose dancing and become the most lip syncing clips have helped popular YouTuber with consumers. them grow their following. teenage boys. KSI’s During lockdown, the YouTube account has definition of a video game 21 million subscribers began to shift. Fortnite, the most talked and he is also one of the seven about thing outside of coronavirus, has members of the Sideman group, continued to evolve into a brand and who have a reported 25 billion media platform, with virtual concerts in combined views. a new social mode called Party Royale. Like any valuable brand, he has The platform has helped expanded his ecosystem; his two-part grow awareness of lesser boxing match against fellow YouTuber known artists. The event Logan Paul sold out in both Manchester that featured rapper Travis and LA, and was streamed on the new Scott had more than 12m sports platform DAZN, a pay-per-view players taking part and, platform which 4 per cent of teen though lesser known in boys in the UK use. As well as this, he the UK, the hip-hop artist has successfully moved into the music moved up to seventh place industry with the release of his debut in new artists in our UK rap album. He is now the sixth favourite Kids Insights data in May. musician with teen boys, coming behind international stars such as Eminem, Ed Sheeran and Drake. Moving through industries helps to grow reach as well as opportunities to sell licensed products. For instance, teen boys who say KSI is their favourite YouTuber are 130 per cent more likely to buy music tracks relating to their favourite YouTubers, and 153 per cent more likely to buy posters (4%) showing the opportunities for licensing. With TikTok’s popularity continuing to grow amongst kids, could the next superstar influencers come from this platform? TikTok remains the number one next big thing, according to kids in the UK, with just over a quarter (26%) of all kids aged over 10 now using the app, equivalent to an indicative 1.8m, which is approaching the number who
Collaboration with other artists could help open up to new audiences. Brands can use data to uncover content partnerships and expand their reach therefore driving merchandise sales. From our data we know kids aged 10-18yrs who buy toys relating their favourite video games are 22 per cent more likely to say Fortnite Battle Royale is their favourite console game (9%) showing there is appetite for this merchandised toy. Social platforms and gaming are becoming the new way to connect with the next generation of consumers. Gaining followers and popularity on social or gaming platforms will become the new norm with younger consumers, leading to more avenues to sell merchandise. We are working with our clients to help them define and understand their audiences, plan their Christmas media campaigns, as well as tracking, measuring, and evaluating their campaigns through our Brand Uplift solution.
Tween girls on TikTok love • Dolls and playsets (29%) • Soft toys and plush (27%) • Construction Toys (23%)
Kids Insights, the global leader in kids’ market intelligence, survey more than 4,000 children every week, across 5 continents and 11 countries, and more than 200,000 children a year. To download a complimentary Kids Insights report & get access to the demo version of the award-winning portal, visit http://kidsinsights.com/ toysnplaythings
You may never have heard of today’s biggest social stars, but their audience, merch potential and influence on spend will surprise you
Christmas ads came early As the UK became a nation of statycationers and compulsive content consumers, toy companies began their Q4 marketing earlier than ever – and the impact has been instant
arketing for the fourth quarter began earlier than ever this year, as toy companies adapted their plans to engage with a nation of staycationers and binge-watchers. Adverts for Q4 ranges, which would usually kick into top gear just before the October half-term, began hitting TV screens and YouTube bumper ads as early back as August. The usual fluster around the John Lewis Christmas ad is likely to go under the radar this festive season; there are more pressing issues and uncertainties on the minds of families. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities. University Games saw openings early on, opting to fire up campaigns for the final quarter far sooner than usual. “We have opted for bold campaigns starting in August,” says Gemma Lewington, Head of Marketing at University Games. “The focus on this time of year has been increased compared to a traditional year, following the success of games and puzzles throughout lockdown.” But it’s not just been a case of the sooner the better, Gemma says. “It is more important than ever to understand the target audience and how best to reach them,” she says. “For example, with Subbuteo we have two target audiences: sport’s enthusiasts and families with young
The focus on this time of year has been increased compared to a traditional year Gemma Lewington, University Games
children. Therefore, our TV scheduling for Subbuteo focuses on a channel mix that “Data is showing that, due to enforced includes family time, movies and sport. This isolation, audiences are hungry for will be supported by content. Think of how you can use sport’s focused radio content to start a conversation with advertising in October your audience, above and beyond the and November standard TVC format.” and online activity Alex Taylor-Smith, Generation Media with LADBible and SPORTBible across “At this current time, in the youth September and market, there is nowhere more effective October.” It’s a similar approach or impactful versus ROI than TikTok, in at Vivid/Goliath group. terms of hitting key marketing metrics.” Marketing Director Rob Lough, Kids Know Best Emma Weber says this year’s strategy is all “Since lockdown parents are more about reaching families likely to take their children’s opinions early and often, both and preferences into consideration on traditional TV when buying items for the household, channels and across providing an opportunity with brands social media, and capitalising on the new that appeal to kids to now become normal families are part of parent’s purchases.” Nick faced with under the Richardson, Kids Insights pandemic. “Our AW campaigns started early August and we’ve seen strong sales uplifts across new range launch Vet Squad as well as our Games portfolio,” she reveals. “While traditional TV advertising targeting children remains a firm anchor for the plan across toys, games and Crayola, we have a growing focus on digital to target kids as well as parents this season.” This means reaching kids and got its brands in the hands of more their parents on everything from than more than 50 influencers, morning TV to Facebook TikTok, parent bloggers and celebs as part Mumsnet and, of course, YouTube. of its Character Kidz Big Weekend “As lockdown saw the increased back in July. The result was more views across Youtube content, we than 300 pieces of YouTube are also excited to be partnering content, millions of Instagram with Pocketwatch’s media channels impressions and 300,000-plus on Ryan’s World and Love Diana to TikTok views – and counting! target our kids’ campaigns,” Emma Uncertainties notwithstanding, explains. Q4 marketing in the toy industry Other toy companies are thinking looks more robust and effective beyond the box. Character Options than ever. Bring on Christmas!
The experts say...
Dress for success Bandai UK
0208 324 6160 www.bandai.co.uk A mix of traditional, digital, and social campaigns commenced from the summer holiday period with additional bursts planned for hero brands from October through to December. Ranges including Harumika, Cocomelon, Nuzzy Luvs, Dragon Ball, Sea Monkeys, Miraculous and Bananas will be supported with a collection of 10” and 20” TV spots. Award-winning arts and crafts brand Harumika, and the new Cocomelon toy range will receive the majority of placements to reflect the company’s commitment to both brands, with 360-degree marketing plans.
Bandai is also investing in channel sponsorship for action figure brand Dragon Ball and the re-launch of Miraculous. Comprehensive TV advertising plans will be implemented throughout the period, integrating traditional with digital and social channels. Harumika will also be supported with a new dedicated Instagram channel and branded website, including fashion-inspired video content and how-to tutorials. Cocomelon enjoys additional targeting to mums and parents, with nursery placements and a virtual meet-up’s campaign.
TV stars Spin Master
01628 535000 www.spinmaster.com Ahead of Christmas, Spin Master is going all out to promote its newest and most exciting ranges with new TV advertising campaigns. Throughout August, September, October, November and December, Spin Master’s hottest toys for Christmas have and will be across TV screens, including the all-new Batman Mission Playset and Launch & Defend RC, GUND’s Flappy the Elephant, Kinetic Sand’s Sandwhirlz, two new glam products from Cool Maker, and Hatchimals’ super-cute Cosmic Candy Pixies and Pixie Riders. Spin Master’s new games and puzzles will also be seen on TV, including amusing preschool game Grouch Couch, Hedbanz and Beat the Parents. Products from new ranges including Bakugan: Armored alliance and PAW Patrol Dino Rescue will too be supported by pre-Christmas TV advertising to coincide with the release of their new shows on POP TV and Nick Jr.
Playset perfection! Character Options 0161 633 9800 www.character-online.com As one of the UK’s largest TV advertisers, Character Option’s share of voice is always high. This year the company’s vast portfolio of branded playsets will be front of the line when it comes to marketing support across TV, digital, and social campaigns. A new TVC will highlight how the awesome Pokémon Carry Case Playset brings the world of Pokémon Toys to fans like never before. features including a bounding boulder roll, treetop trap door, battle arena, launch pads, secret caves and so much more, the adventures are endless! TV will start from September onwards, and will be augmented with a three-month-long, always-on digital drive, including Pop TV microsite, Mobile Film Strips and influencer activity. For Peppa Fans, the Peppa’s Shopping Centre Playset will be bought to life through TV advertising from this month. There’s plenty to bring out in the 20 second TV spot. Kids can swap around the backgrounds and swivel the signs to create six different shops in total, and recreate Peppa’s favourite thing to do at the shopping centre: ride in the liftThe shopping centre will not only have its own TVC campaign, but will be central to a huge digital campaign targeting Peppa fans and their parents. Parents will also be the audience for high profile Instagram mums activity. Also in the playset arena is the all-new Treasure X Sunken Gold series. TV advertising will begin in September, while digital activity began in August for the collectables through to October, and November for the the Treasure X Sunken Gold Treasure Ship hero item. Finally, Fireman Sam will be another Character Options brand whose hero playset is to receive TV support, with a brand new TVC highlighting the fun and exciting features of the new Fire Rescue Centre.
Speeding onto screens Tomy
01392 281928 www.tomy.com A key focus for Tomy’s marketing in Q4 will be the newly launched Ricky Zoom product line, supported by an extensive marketing campaign to celebrate the growth of Tomy’s licensed toy product offering and support its valued retail partners. Partnering with property owner Hasbro as master toy licensee, Tomy has devised an innovative, and engaging range which brings the popular bike show to life for children around the world. Ricky Zoom, a little red rescue bike, is at the heart of the fast-paced CGI action and comedy adventure series designed for pre-school children. The series is centred around his thrilling adventures with bike buddies Loop, Scootio and DJ. With friendship and community at its heart, the Ricky Zoom show premiered in the UK in October 2019 and is now a firm favourite amongst households across the nation, The robust marketing plan will include an extensive digital programme, retail activations and television advertising in the run up to Christmas to provide maximum visibility for the Ricky Zoom product range.
TV Heroes Be sure about Schleich! Flair
0208 643 0320 www.flairgp.co.uk
01279 870000 www.schleich-s.co.uk Schleich has a strong marketing calendar for Q4, supporting retailers on the run up to the holiday season. Following the debut of TV advertising for Schleich’s Horse Club in 2019 the brand has fast become the equine brand of choice for girls. This year schleich will aim to echo that success with further linear and digital support for the key lines of the season beginning in mid-autumn. The Big Horse Show playset will take centre stage and features a marquee, arena, horse and accessories. To add to the equestrian spectacle, the Pony Trap for the Big Horse Show features Horse Club figure Clara, a beautiful Connemara pony to pull it along plus many other accessories. Schleich’s Dinosaurs World will also receive significant support to ensure the first ever playsets in this range are top of mind with fans of all things from the prehistoric era The well-equipped Large Dino Research Station boasts a mobile crane, trapdoor, movable fencing, cannon with tranquilizer darts, and a lance for catching dinosaurs, no matter how dangerous they are. The playsets allow prehistory researchers to create new dinosaur scenarios with Maxx, Luis, and Flynn.
Flair will be supporting its key brands across the board with TV and digital campaigns as the seasonal buying time approaches. Activity for PJ Masks kicks off in October with TV, VOD and YouTube campaigns to highlight the new Save the Sky collection. Both the Romeo’s Flying Factory Playset and the PJ Masks Air Jet playsets feature in the new 44 minute PJ Masks Save the Sky special premiering this October, too. This will be followed by a November schedule focusing on the new PJ Masks 2-in-1 Mobile HQ together with more support for new Romeos Flying Factory. All Hairdorables launches this AW, including series 5 Hairdorables, Longest Hair Ever Hairdorables and series 2 of the Hairmazing fashion dolls, have strong support throughout the season. TV begins this month, with a second burst over October half term, while YouTube and influencer activity will have a high level of investment in line with each TV campaign. Ben 10 has his very own three-wheeled action vehicle with the Ben 10 Transforming Omni Cyclel, which will spearhead a TV campaign aimed at boys four to nine throughout October. The activity coincides with the launch of the new Ben 10 Movie. Finally, following a hugely successful launch for IDig Monsters, which has seen YouTube and TikTok going crazy as kid-creators set about scraping, slicing and grating their way through the IDig compound to find their own Monji Monsters, further activity is due for October half term. More TVRs plus further influencer activity to unearth the largest Monji of all from the Jumbo IDig Monsters popsicles will take place. Other TV supported brands from Flair and Just Play including Sprit Riding Free, Totally Tiny, Jelli Rez and Frozen 2.
Roll the ad Ravensburger 01869 363 800 www.ravensburger.com
Goliath campaign Vivid Imaginations
01483 449944 www.vividtoysandgames.co.uk The Vivid / Goliath group has a multi-channel marketing plan to support its AW ranges and new launches. While traditional TV advertising targeting children remains a firm anchor for the plan across toys, games and Crayola, the company has a growing focus on digital to target kids and parents this season. As lockdown saw viewership skyrocket across YouTube content, Vivid is also excited to be partnering with pocket.watch’s media channels on Ryan’s World and Love Diana in campaigns targeting kids for Fantasticats and Vet Squad, as well as developing new and engaging episodic animated shorts to bring to life the Crayola Washimals range.
Kick off for Christmas University Games
020 7254 0100 www.university-games.co.uk University Games has big plans for Q4 campaigns this year including primetime TV and online campaigns for the iconic Table Football game, Subbuteo as well as significant marketing campaigns for key family games Kersplatt!, Sort it Out, and Smart Ass. Stupid Deaths and new launch for Q4, Dumb Criminals, will also see marketing support in the run-up to Christmas. The games and puzzles specialist recently released an updated version of the Subbuteo Main Game alongside an Official England Subbuteo Game and Player Set. This summer, University Games launched a new TV commercial featuring the voice of the sporting broadcasting legend John Motson in a nostalgic family lead creative. The TV commercial is part of a multi-layered and heavyweight media campaign including TV within family, sports and adult time, radio partnerships with talkSPORT, in-match advertising, social, print, as well as online activity with LADBible and SPORTBible. The primetime TV campaign commenced began in August with schedules running throughout October, November and December. The deeply targeted TV campaign is also being support by ongoing social media, online, radio and print coverage until December. Following the ongoing success of University Games Key lines Kersplatt, Sort it Out and Smart Ass this year sees more heavyweight TV and Online campaigns supporting the family board games.
Ravensburger rolls out heavyweight TV support this autumn with a raft of brand campaigns including GraviTrax and 3D Puzzles. GraviTrax continues to perform well and, later this year, fans will be able to quite literally up the ante in their interactive track creations with the new GraviTrax Pro range. Compatible with the existing GraviTrax line, this collection including GraviTrax Pro Vertical Starter Set, expansion pack and add-ons, enables children to build taller, towering marble run constructions using the vertical panels and components. A TV campaign will support wider marketing activity for the brand and bring to life the power of gravity on screen. The range will also be supported with wider marketing activity throughout the final quarter including extensive digital, PR and print partner activity. Ravensburger’s 3D Puzzle collection is also in the spotlight in a dedicated TV campaign running throughout the autumn. With strong sales seen throughout the year, this will build on awareness of the range including the company’s collection of famous landmark buildings and cars. A selection of family games are among the other new launches to receive TV support in the drive towards the festive season.
LICENSING SPOTLIGHT BANDAI
Dragon’s hoard Kirsty Mackenzie, Head of Marketing, Bandai UK shares highlights from the company’s diverse and broad licensed portfolio – from Dragon Ball to CoComelon and animated hit Miraculous – and what the company uniquely offers as a leading toy licensee Our licensed portfolio is varied and covers a mix of categories. We have established product ranges for Dragon Ball from Toei Animation and National Geographic from Disney. Both of these brands are growing with new product being introduced and we have seen an uplift in both properties following their release onto TV and streaming platforms. We have recently launched the Jazwares product range for CoComelon from Moonbug within the UK and it has been received incredibly well. Miraculous from Zag will re-launch this Autumn with a fantastic new product range from Playmates to support the number one programme on Pop TV. Pac-man and Hello Kitty licenses are now available within our Tamagotchi product line up. We also have a host of other licenses within our McFarlane and Banpresto ranges. We know that consumers today are influenced heavily in their product choices by content, be it TV, gaming or online streaming. Licensing enables us to offer toy ranges based on the most popular of these properties. CoComelon, Miraculous and National Geographic are all growing licenses, supported by fantastic content. As well as a toy company, Bandai also operates within the games industry and we have a growing collector product portfolio. Through our partnerships with licensors and distributors we are able to offer consumers licensed product for gaming licenses such as PacMan, Mortal Kombat and Cyberpunk, and high-end collector product ranges for DC Multiverse,
Licensed to learn
Award-winning educational line National Geographic has established its position as an evergreen, go-to science range. Bandai UK has introduced a new Crystal Garden kit for 2020 and Super Kits have been added to the collection for Q3. The Light-up Crystal Growing Lab enables children to grow three crystals that glow when displayed on the included light-up base. The kit includes three genuine gemstone specimens, a detailed learning guide teaching about crystal formation, seed rocks, growing powder, and the display base which has seven light modes, rainbow mode, three light display settings, and more.
Warhammer and Anime properties such as My Hero Academia, One Piece and Naruto. The array of licensed product we have allows us to target consumers in different age brackets and varied product categories.
Top 3 licensed products
2020 CoComelon Bedtime JJ Doll Miraculous Fashion Dolls Dragon Ball Limit Breakers
Miraculous TNP Sept 2020 ad.indd 1
LICENSING SPOTLIGHT MV SPORTS
The wheel deal Wheeled toy specialist MV Sports is renowned for its dominance in licensed ride-ons, from scooters and bikes and more. Phil Ratcliffe, joint-MD, MV Sports shares the hottest current licenses in the portfolio and how the toy company digs into the DNA of each property to design and bring to market best-selling and award-winning lines MV Sports is the UK’s leading licensee for all things wheeled and outdoor. From a toddler’s ride-on to a cool electric scooter, MV’s world of wheels spans bikes, trikes, scooters skates, powered vehicles and ride-ons. And that’s not all MV’s range of licensed tepees, Dream Dens and pop up tents are also available across many key licenses. Our collection of must-have properties is second to none in the category with enduring classics such as Peppa Pig, Paw Patrol, Disney Princess, Frozen, Batman and Spider-Man to name but a few. MV’s reputation as the category innovator is warranted with enhanced levels of design and decoration coupled with many first to market products, tapping into the DNA of every licensed property. Licensing is very important to MV Sports. Working with the majority of major licensors, our strength in depth as a multiproperty licensee ensures that we can offer the complete and flexible licensed wheeled product solution to all our customers, incorporating unrivalled quality, innovation and value for money. We take our cues from our licensors. We look at the quality of the content and consider the toy potential. We know that only the top licenses successfully make it in the wheeled toy category. Kids have just one licensed bike, and this needs to be their favourite character or property. So, we need to be very selective with the licenses that we take on. Our category knowledge ensures that we can tailor the best package to meet all our customer’s needs creating a compelling consumer offer that delivers year-round sales.
MV’s reputation “ as the category innovator is warranted with enhanced levels of design tapping into the DNA of every licensed property
Phil Ratcliffe, MV Sports
Best performing licenses Peppa Pig Spider-Man Nerf
tnp.media tnp media
AADJUSTABLE SIZE DIAL
14" B BIKE
FOLDING G IN-LINE SCOOTER ER
PRINTED WHEEL DISCS
FOLDS FOR EASY STORAGE MY DR DREAM DEN 2-IN-1 S SLEEP POD & PLAY DEN
10 PIECE FAIRY LIGHT SET
Look out! Here comes the Spider-Man! TNP OCT AD 2020 - Spider-man v2.indd 1
FESTIVAL OF LICENSING
Festival season The hole in the licensing calendar where BLE 2020 should have been will be filled this October by an exciting new virtual event, designed from the ground up to connect licensing professionals around the world. Anna Knight, VP, Global Licensing Group at organiser Informa Markets, gives us the lowdown on the inaugural Festival of Licensing, how to make the most of it, and why the move to virtual will benefit the entire industry
Many events have been forced to transition to a virtual format this year. What was that process like when devising The Festival of Licensing? In June, we ran a virtual licensing event, Licensing Week Virtual. We put this on because when we had to postpone Licensing Expo, a lot of people told us that they still wanted to connect in the original timeframe. So, we decided to run that event – almost as a test – because we knew that if the pandemic continued, we would need an alternative to Brand Licensing Europe. We wanted to run a smaller scale, but very good event, that we could then learn lessons from to launch a largerscale event. We used some of the lessons that we learnt from Licensing Week Virtual to structure the Festival of Licensing. Working on Licensing
Week Virtual taught us that we couldn’t really produce a global virtual event, because it’s very difficult to host everyone around the world during one timeframe. But we also knew that our events in the physical space cover all markets around the world. At the point at which we launched Festival of Licensing, we hadn’t run any physical events due to the pandemic. And there was such a thirst and a need for people to connect. So we decided to create regional events based around the markets that we serve in the physical space – the markets where we have customers and where we have the ability to bring people together. And then we also postponed our conference, which was due to be held in New York. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to hold the conference at the end of the Festival. What did you learn from running Licensing Week Virtual and how will you be applying that learning to the Festival of Licensing? We learnt a lot. I think the biggest lesson is: Don’t underestimate how much time you have to spend educating all customers about how to maximise the virtual environment. It’s critical that every exhibitor understands how to use the platform, how to get the most out of it, and how to best represent themselves online. And then attendees need to know how to use the platform, how to
drive connections, and suggested behaviour. The trade show physical format has been around for hundreds of years, whereas online events are still fairly new. So guiding people through them is really important. And then there are two other things. Always realise that something will go wrong and just have a back-up to fix it. During Licensing Week Virtual, we had a couple of issues that I felt we dealt with really well. But you just have to expect that it’s just going to happen. And then the last thing is timezone challenges, but we have already discussed how we’re overcoming that. What are the advantages of hosting the event virtually? I think hosting Festival of Licensing virtually will help attract new audiences and new exhibitors, which I think is a great advantage for the industry – not just ourselves. Holding virtual events makes them very accessible: it doesn’t exclude anyone who perhaps can’t travel – or those who don’t have the budget.
I also think that it gives people who perhaps might be considering exhibiting at or attending one of our shows a nice entry point to experience this type of event for the first time – and then hopefully become more involved with the events moving forward. Will you continue to integrate element of these virtual events into future physical shows? Yes, absolutely. I am a very firm believer that it is going to be integral for events moving forward. I genuinely believe that faceto-face will become even more important oﬀ the back of the pandemic – particularly in licensing, which is such a relationship-based industry. People really do like to meet face-to-face. But I do also think that we are going to see certain organisations restrict travel and, also, people will start to get used to attending these virtual events. And especially those that can’t get to a physical event will want that to continue. I wouldn’t want to take that away. Right now, how that works is something that we are still working on. But it will 100 per cent happen in the future. What initial response have you had to The Festival of Licensing? Expect to see many of the same licensors that you would typically see at BLE. The feedback has been great. People have spoken really positively about it and everyone is being very supportive. In the next couple of weeks, we’ll be revealing our first wave of exhibitors. So, watch this space! Tell us how the how the four-event schedule works. The first three weeks focus on regions. Week one is Europe, week two Asia, and week three will focus on the Americas. Each of those events will centre on those licensing markets in much the same way as our physical event focus on those licensing markets. BLE, for example, is about doing deals within the European licensing industry. Although we have a global audience for BLE, it’s still all about European licensing – in the same way that our Asian events are about licensing in, say, China or Japan. They’re very market specific. The final event is our Global Licensing Leadership Summit. This is a paid-for conference, for those
who want to learn more about strategic business issues – it’s less about deal-making. And so, for me, you can just attend one event! You can do whatever you want to do really. That’s the idea. And how else will you be facilitating the inking of new licensing deals? Matchmaking is definitely the fundamental oﬀering, and that’s going to be the foundation of Festival of Licensing. We have a really robust Matchmaking service that people can use to reschedule meetings or have drop-in meetings during the event. We also have exhibitor showcase pages for all exhibitors. Those pages are built for exhibitors to really show the licences, services and/or products that they have – and you can schedule meetings there, too. We also have a lot of content that we’re producing, and that our exhibitors are producing, with the aim of showcasing why people should want to work with them. Exhibitors have been making videos to get people excited about their oﬀering; the hope is that they will then organise a meeting oﬀ the back of that video. Everything that we do is designed to lead to meeting bookings, which could then lead to deals being made. It’s very similar to the physical space – it’s just done slightly diﬀerently! How would you advise people overcome not being able to get hands on with samples as you would at a physical event?
I think hosting Festival of Licensing virtually will help attract new audiences
When people have meetings via the Matchmaking service, they are video meetings, so there is a way to show the sample on the screen. You can also produce 3D imagery around those samples that people can really look around. There is a lot of innovation in that space at the moment. And also, with video, people will be able to show others around stores or factories. This could help show the quality of the manufacturing and the product ranges. While it’s not a really simple answer, I do think that virtual events are really making people innovate and think diﬀerently. I think that we’ll see a lot of ways that people are bringing the physical space into the virtual world. Do you have anything further that you would like to add? All I would say is that virtual events are very new. And people have a lot of questions, so I would just encourage people to get in touch with me or anyone in my team. We would be more than happy to answer questions and explain how to make the most of it. That’s what we are here for, so don’t be afraid to ask us!
Learn more by visiting www. festivaloﬂicensing.com, contacting customer service at festivaloﬂicensingcs@informa.com, or get in touch with Anna direct on firstname.lastname@example.org.
FESTIVAL OF LICENSING
Festival goers TnP caught up with Festival of Licensing exhibutors to learn more about how they’re gearing up for a virtual event, why exhibiting is so important, and what they hope to achieve
Helen Genia, Head of UK Licensing and Hardlines EMEA, Mattel As a Festival of Licensing exhibitor, what are you most looking forward to? I’m really looking forward to catching up with our partners – even if it isn’t in person! – and showing prospective new partners the exciting opportunities there are with Mattel. What are you hoping to achieve at the virtual event? It is really important to me that we facilitate making connections with new partners and continuing to innovate in CP categories across our world-class franchises. Even though 2020 has turned into a year we couldn’t have imagined, I’m really proud to say that as a licensing team we’ve pivoted to new ways of working. We have remained connected with partners, new and current, and supported to bring new opportunities to market, which I want to foster as we go into this event. When BLE was cancelled, why did you deem it important to exhibit at the Festival of Licensing? It’s really important for the licensing community to stay connected and have a moment in the year to come together. The Festival of Licensing gives us a fantastic opportunity to carve out dedicated time to showcase our brands and to connect in the industry in lieu of BLE. Which of your properties do you think hold the most potential for toy licensees? We continue to innovate and ensure that our evergreen brands remain current and relevant. Coming off of the 60th Anniversary last year, Barbie is just on fire – it’s retained its position as the number one fashion doll in the world and we’ve continued to see amazing growth throughout 2020. We had a CP-first Barbie pop-up shop last year in Liverpool, which was an enormous success – so much so that we had to extend the store due to demand. There is so much opportunity with Barbie across so many categories, so we look forward to seeing these materialise in 2021. Hot Wheels continues to grow year on year and is still the number one selling toy worldwide, paving way for more opportunities within the toy space. And I am thrilled that Fireman Sam is having an extraordinary year in such a competitive landscape. I can’t wait to see the all new wooden range that Character Options will be bringing to market this October.
Venetia Davie, Vice President, UK and Ireland, ViacomCBS Consumer Products As a Festival of Licensing exhibitor, what are you most looking forward to? We’re delighted to be both an exhibitor and a sponsor at the Festival of Licensing. Not only do we get to showcase our brands with our very cool virtual booth (check out the trailers). Our amazing team have put their epic production skills to good use creating fun content that can be found in the Community & Wellbeing zone. I think this year especially we could all do with some zen moments and fun family ideas between meetings. What are you hoping to achieve at the virtual event? As always, we’re hoping to showcase our extensive range of properties and upcoming products and to connect with buyers and partners across the world. We can’t do it physically this year, but the virtual event offers the possibility of reaching an array of new partners who wouldn’t have usually travelled to the exhibition. When BLE was cancelled, why did you deem it important to exhibit at the Festival of Licensing? These industry events such as BLE, London Toy Fair and others are a great opportunity for networking and to discover new potential partners and promote our work. We’re really happy that this opportunity is still there albeit in a different form. It will help us stay connected, show what we’ve been up to these past months and also see what others have been working on. For toy licensees, which properties do you think hold the most potential? PAW Patrol, Baby Shark, and Blue’s Clues & You!
Rikesh Desai, Licensing Director for Merchandise and Gaming, BBC Studios As a Festival of Licensing exhibitor, what are you most looking forward to? The opportunity to get back to something that resembles business as usual after so much uncertainty. What are you hoping to achieve at the virtual event? Every year new licensees and retailers are searching for that next brand that can help expand their business and reach new audiences – and we believe this year we truly have an impressive slate of world class IP to share. For this virtual event I would like those we interact with to come away with a clear understanding of our brand vision and see how can support each other to enhance the brand experience for fans. Ultimately, we want to get the licensing community as excited about our line up as we are! When BLE was cancelled, why did you
deem it important to exhibit at the Festival of Licensing? With everyone fully embracing all things digital over the past five months, the Festival of Licensing is exactly the catalyst the industry needs to come together and drive our business forward. These events are a core part of how we do business and provides us with an accessible platform to showcase our brands. Which properties do you think hold the most potential for toy licensees? Hey Duggee continues to impress both on-screen and on the shelf. It was the most watched children’s show on BBC iPlayer during lockdown, has over 2.8 billion views and counting on its YouTube channel, and toy sales are up 148 percent - much faster than the market average.
We are actively seeking new licensees to extend to new categories so fans can continue to enjoy the wonderful world of Hey Duggee. With the phenomenal success of Bluey in Australia, and more recently in the US, we are planning for a strong licensing launch in the UK and EMEA, so this is definitely a property I expect to receive a lot of interest in during the festival. Plus, there’s lots of demand for Doctor Who, and Top Gear following the LEGO Technic launch. *NPD UK: YTD July 20
Kelvyn Gardner, founder, Asgard Media As a Festival of Licensing exhibitor, what are you most looking forward to? This will be my first licensing trade show as an exhibitor since the year 2000! So I’m quite upbeat about setting out my stall to look for new business. Trade shows are unique in that business opportunities can arise from areas where you would never have gone looking. For example, at that 2000 BLE, I was visited by a children’s theatrical production company and licensed three major shows for them in the next four years. I can assure you that I had not been looking for clients in that field! What are you hoping to achieve at the virtual event? Transitioning back to a full-time manufacturers’ consultant in 2020 means that we are in full-on new business mode for Festival of Licensing. It’s looking likely that we will be the only company offering this type of service actually exhibiting, so we’ll be marketing our presence there quite widely and looking to book advance appointments. I’m also once more Chair of the License This! new IP competition so looking forward to helping a couple more newcomer brands win the attention of the licensing world. Lastly we’ll be launching a new initiative (can’t say much more just yet) around the show which we hope licensing folk will find interesting. When BLE was cancelled, why did you deem it important to exhibit at the Festival of Licensing? The timing was perfect for Asgard Media. Having left my role at the trade association I have time in the week for new clients (and a need to secure new revenues streams ) and this was what we were working towards in 2020 anyway. The creation of the Festival has given us a real focus for our pitch, and our goal to bring new manufacturers into licensing. It was an opportunity too good to pass up.
Step back in time TnP founder Malcolm Naish takes a look back through time to reflect on industry goings on in September 2010, 2000, 1990 and 1982
Toy Barnhaus open their third toy store in Epsom. Very impressive from two ex-Woolworths managers, who decided to take the plunge as independents following Woolie’s unfortunate demise.
Terry Crewe is confirmed as the new Managing Director of IMC Toys, and Vicki Elmer joins Bandai as product manager for Girls Toys.
Fisher-Price celebrate 60 years of toy manufacturing with a birthday seminar at Castle Ashby House in Northamptonshire. The birthday cake was, of course, cleverly designed in the form of their most successful toy, the Chatter Telephone.
Subbuteo, we are told, is making a bid to be recognized as an Olympic sport for 1996. Evidently back in 1990 there were over five million players worldwide with their own international competitions.
Seriff Cowells receive the Queen’s award for export achievement, having sold 13 million Trivial Pursuit and three million Pictionary.
Another anniversary was celebrated with Ladybird Books celebrating their 50th year of publishing.
Our Top Forty best-selling games, as shown in the W.H.Smith top 40, is headed up by Pictionary, followed by T.P. Genus and, thirdly, Pass the Pigs from M.B. Games.
The Simpsons are about to make their debut in the UK, with Mattel the lead toy licensee. Already in the States licensed toy products are accounting for $1.3 billions worth of sales.
Rob Mann manages a creditable time for the Great Northern Run – a precursor to his plans to run the London Marathon in 2011. The recent collapse of discount retailer Ethel Austin reveals that they toppled owing a whopping great £33m-plus. Isn’t it odd that stock valued at £17.7m is sold for only £2.3m once a company is in administration? Someone made a bomb out of that stock!
September 2000 •
I am given the royal tour of Toy Fair’s new exhibition venue, ExCeL, where the show will run from 2001. We were all very impressed, despite some misgivings concerning the lack of hotels and restaurants close by.
Phil Ratcliffe adds the Sales Director role to his marketing role at MV Sports & Leisure, following Neville Furber’s leaving the company.
One of the trade’s most respected gentlemen Mike Coburn takes early retirement from Casdon. Britt Allcroft steps down from her licensing company to concentrate on her production company in LA, but will continue to offer exclusive creative input.
Harrogate Exhibition Centre announces the opening of a splendid new hall to be known as the Millennium Hall, occupying the corner of Kings Road and Ripon Road. It continues to be the most sought-after hall in the Harrogate complex to this day. In Norman Walker’s ‘Letter from America’, he tells all that Hasbro’s President and CEO has resigned after just 18 months in the job. As Norman writes, “It won’t be the first time in the toy industry that a FMCG star is no guarantee of success in our industry!”
Michael and Marilyn Angel 1982
September 1982 •
Universal International Holdings announce that they have acquired Matchbox Toys from the Lesney Group Receivers. Evidently more than 50 companies from across the world were interested in buying Matchbox. Universal’s Chairman David Yeh was quoted as saying “We are very happy to acquire the Matchbox operation, which in my opinion is the best brand name for die-cast toys in the world.”
A City consortium of more than 30 firms have bought Woolworths. The US company have given their approval by agreeing to sell their 53 per cent stake, taking a 12.7 per cent stake in the new company.
Scotland’s first toy superstore featuring 5,000 toys priced from 4p up to £279 opened in Glasgow. Jolly Giant covers 22,00sq. ft. and was opened by Cheggers and Maggie from TV’s Swopshop.
My very good friend David Walton resigns from Einco to set up his own company, Leisuretime.
Wedding Bells are in the air as we picture the happy couple Michael and Marilyn Angel on their wedding day. Still going strong after 38 years – Congratulations from all at TnP.
I publish a Britain Fights Back feature to highlight British made soft toys. The response was pathetic from our British manufacturers, perhaps illustrating why the Far East was so successfully killing off UK manufactured plush!
Here’s a quick peek at some of the hottest and newest products. Buyers and retailers, get in touch with your sales contact now!
Product: Pound Puppies Dogs Trust Newborns Company: Basic Fun Tel: 0118 925 3270 Web: www.basicfun.com
Product: LENU – Brain game for all ages! Company: Edx Education Tel: 020 7097 5173 Web: www.edxeducation.com
Product: Subbuteo Main Game Company: University Games Tel: 020 7298 9507 Web: www.winningmoves.co.uk
Product: Jelli Rez Company: GP Flair Tel: 0208 643 0320 Web: www.flairplc.co.uk
Product: Large Dino Research Station Company: Schleich Tel: 01279 870000 Web: www.schleich-s.co.uk Product: Monopoly for Sore Losers Company: Hasbro Tel: 020 8569 1234 Web: www.hasbro.com
Product: Kids First Robot Factory Company: Thames and Kosmos Tel: 01580 212 000 Web: www.thamesandkosmos.com
Product: Harry Potter Head 2 Toe Ultimate 9 Card Puzzle Challenges Company: University Games Tel: 020 7245 0100 Web: www.university-games.co.uk
Product: Funrise Company: Bright Fairy Friends Tel: 01908 555640 Web: www.funrise.com
Watch her reactt nd recall recalll and u what you feed herr!
The most expressive and lifelike feeding doll! â€œStrawberry, Yum!â€?
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