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CONTENTS 2021 mber Septe 1 No. 9 Vol. 4

Regulars 5 Leader - with Clare Turner 6 News - the latest toy industry headlines 10 Retail News - what’s happening across the retail landscape


11 Media News - the multimedia rundown 12 People News - all the movers and shakers

Chairman Malcolm Naish

Managing Director

18 Toy Talk - retailers reveal how trading has been since ‘Freedom Monday’ 24 Trade Talk - suppliers share their challenges and achievements

Mark Naish

30 What’s New - fresh launches that you need to get your hands on


32 TnP Ambassadors - our tiny testers try out three Wilton Bradley Playhouse products

Clare Turner

Assistant Editor Naomi MacKay

Advertisement Manager Athee Waran

Production Director Paul Naish

Circulation Manager Robert Thomas

66 Don’t Miss - a sneak peek at unmissable products for buyers 67 Step Back In Time - a slice of toy history from the industry’s longest-running magazine

Features 36 Games & Puzzles - a look at what’s hot in this staple sector 56 Playground Crazes & Pocket Money Toys - a review of what’s trending in the schoolyard 62 Q4 Campaigns - a round-up of marketing and advertising plans for the golden quarter


Special Reports 20 The Big Interview - with Michael Hick, vice president and country manager for Mattel UK 23 Spielwarenmesse Interview - with Christian Ulrich, spokesperson of the executive board at Spielwarenmesse eG 28 Retail Interview - with Theresa Gatton, head of category - kids & seasonal at The Works 34 Retail Interview - with James Hart, founder and CEO of KIDLY

Columnists 7 Trends Column - the U.S. Toy Association unveils its pick of toys that encourage kids to make music 14 Indie Opinion - Diary of a Toy Shop by Amanda Alexander, owner of Giddy Goat Toys

Lema Publishing Ltd 1 Churchgates, The Wilderness, Berkhamsted, Herts, HP4 2UB Telephone: 01442 289930

At the heart of retail

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15 Consumer Insight - The Insights Family discusses how to maximise media spend at Christmas 16 Retail Opinion - John Ryan explores the concept of retail hybridisation 17 Media Analysis - Generation Media examines the impact of cinema releases on the toy industry

03/09/2021 10:51

LEADER Clare Turner

T At the heart of retail Also by Lema Publishing


with a total of 2,229 participants from 89 rade shows are slowly coming countries. The findings revealed that more back to life after a lost year due than 75% are planning to attend. Christian to coronavirus, with Autumn Fair Ulrich, spokesperson of the executive board at and The Independent Toy & Gift Show Spielwarenmesse eG, said: “The results reflect opening their doors this month, and three the current mood in the toy industry. The desire Toymaster regional meetings planned in to meet in person and experience the buzz of the coming weeks. the real event is huge. We’re delighted about These events will be the first time since this trend.” the pandemic that the toy community will In the meantime, very soon Autumn Fair be able to come together in person, and exhibitors will be catching up with their I’m sure most suppliers and existing customers and welcoming retailers are looking forward After a new ones. Entrepreneur Theo Paphitis to physically spending time in challenging - owner of stationery specialist each other’s company. Digital Ryman, homeware chain Robert Dyas communication has obviously 2020 and and lingerie business Boux Avenue played a vital role in the early 2021, (but probably best known for his recent climate but there really the toy appearances on the BBC business is no substitute for meeting programme Dragons’ Den) - will be up with business contacts community delivering the keynote seminar at and seeing toys and games now has a the event. in the flesh. long-awaited For him, Autumn Fair is “always a As Ravensburger head of marketing & product opportunity to fantastic opportunity for connecting development Katy Fletcher reconnect and retailers and suppliers. After many months of making the best of the points out in our Trade Talk explore new virtual world, Autumn Fair is another feature: “Over the past 18 months we’ve really missed possibilities in sign that retail is getting back on its feet and people are wanting to attend the opportunity to get readiness for live shows.” products into the hands of And there’s more good news on the our retailer customers. We are the allretail front. Responding to the latest so excited to be showcasing important ONS Retail Sales Index figures, British again face-to-face at the AIS Golden Retail Consortium chief executive show and the Toymaster Quarter Helen Dickinson noted that the fifth regional shows. The same consecutive month of rising sales is a goes for our consumers, testament to the perseverance and innovation where events and in-store demos play a of retailers who continue to constantly adapt to key part within our marketing activities. the changing Covid landscape. We’ve been working on a host of online Let’s hope we see that growth continue. And assets but there is nothing quite like handsafter a challenging 2020 and early 2021, the toy on play.” community now has a long-awaited opportunity Her opinion is reinforced by a survey to reconnect and explore new possibilities in recently conducted by Spielwarenmesse readiness for the all-important Golden Quarter. eG of visitors to its international toy For me, I can’t wait to meet you personally. fair Spielwarenmesse to learn more With that in mind, I’d love you to get in touch. about their views on attending the next You can connect with me via LinkedIn or exhibition, which will be held in Nuremberg email me at I look in February 2022. The response was forward to hearing from you! ‘unusually high and representative’


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02/09/2021 17:04

NEWS Countdown to DreamToys 2021 List

Character Option’s Big Weekend fires up the internet Character Options’ virtual kids’ influencer event, Character Kidz Big Weekend, created a huge buzz across YouTube, TikTok and Instagram last month as junior content creators reviewed the company’s new key lines for Autumn. KIDfluencers from across the nation came together for the three-day virtual extravaganza, held from 6 August to 8 August, and unboxed items including Little Live Pets, Piggly the Walking Pig and Gotta Go Turdle, Tan Tan the butt wiggling Orangutan from Jiggly Pets, Squeakee the Balloon Dino, Heroes of Goo Jit Zu’s Galaxy

Attack, plus new GLO-Up Girls and more. More than 80 videos were created highlighting the toys, while live-time social events for ChillFactor, Mash’ems, Moonshoes, GLO-Up and Squeakee Dino drove the engagement and interaction. In addition to more than five hours of YouTube content, TikTok and Instagram were the places to see shorter form content, further ramping up the views and reach of the campaign. To date over three million Instagram impressions, five million TikTok views and more than two million YouTube views have been clocked up.

The Toy Retailers Association (TRA) has announced that its annual DreamToys list will be unveiled on Wednesday 3 November. The TRA has decided to continue with the format change that was adopted in 2020, with a preview day held on Tuesday 2 November, and all information embargoed until the following morning. Gary Grant, chair of the DreamToys committee, said: “During the height of the pandemic, the committee took the decision to restructure the annual DreamToys event to fall in line with Covid regulations and to explore the economics of the event in a difficult time for all businesses. After positive feedback and widescale press coverage, the committee has decided to continue with the new format, inviting journalists to a preview event in London, with coverage embargoed until the following day when we will announce the list across social media, TV and radio.” DreamToys is an initiative designed to encourage gift-givers not to leave festive purchases to the last minute to avoid disappointment - and provides TRA members with a hook to start their own local Christmas countdown campaigns and feature toys included in the list.

The Good Play Guide and Toymaster agree on a playful alliance

The Mums Choice Awards are now open! The Mums Choice Awards 2021 are now open for entry. Organised and published by online parenting website UKMums.TV, the awards programme is designed to give consumers an insight into what products in the market are favoured by their peers. The Awards are split into five categories including Best Toys, Best Children’s Entertainment and New Baby MustHaves. Entrants are judged by readers of UKMums.TV and the UKMums.TV team, and the results will be published on the website during the week commencing 22 November. Winners will be featured, with a click-to-buy link, on www. Each category will have its own dedicated page, for which UKMums.TV guarantees 125,000-plus daily page impressions for 30 days from the results’ publication date. Gold, Silver and Bronze winners will receive a bespoke Awards logo free of charge, with no licensing fees. Entries must be received by Friday 1 October. For more information or to enter the Mums Choice Awards, head to or email


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The Good Play Guide and buying group Toymaster have announced a marketing collaboration to support their mutual objectives. As experts in child development, play and parenting, The Good Play Guide will enhance Toymaster’s commitment to its members of real value, exceptional service, and a yearround marketing programme, with a portfolio of deliverables including seasonal and developmental milestone articles and blog posts, branded pointof-sale and advertising materials for Good Play Guide recommended lines, in-store activations, and social media call-outs. The initiative will also include activations on social media and directto-member initiatives, further raising the profile of Toymaster locations. • Toymaster has announced that John Testori of Bambola Toymaster in St Helier, Jersey, is to be appointed to the board of directors of Toymaster as a non-executive director on 1 September. Bambola has been a Toymaster member since 1989.

Toynamics to distribute TIMIO Toynamics UK & Ireland has been appointed as the exclusive distributor of the TIMIO educational audio and music player and the new to market TIMIO foldable kids’ headphones. TIMIO is an interactive learning device for children aged two to six, which is designed to stimulate creativity and playful fun and help develop early childhood cognitive skills. It is 100% screen-free so requires no Wi-Fi, making it totally portable and ideal for travel, and uses magnetic discs to unlock a library of curated content on various subjects for multiple ages. The starter set comes with five discs, giving seven hours of educational content and entertainment in a choice of eight languages, so children can learn while playing. An additional four sets of five discs are available separately. 02/09/2021 17:12

moves into costume play Jazwares has announced the formation of the costume play division: a new department that will focus on the development of licensed costumes. Led by costume industry veteran Stephen Stanley, the division will produce costumes for all ages including dress-up trunks with outfits, masks, and roleplay accessories for kids’ everyday costume play; high-end cosplay outfits, masks, and accessories suitable for comic conventions; as well as pet costumes, seasonal Halloween decorations and treat carriers. Jazwares’ first lineup of dress-up trunks and everyday costume play products will be available in Spring 2022, with all-new styles launching across retail channels for Halloween 2022, including hundreds of costumes, masks and other accessories featuring characters from the Star Wars galaxy, the Marvel Multiverse, Spider-Man’s Spiderverse, and Squishmallows. Jazwares has hired costume industry veteran Stephen Stanley to oversee the costume play team as general manager. A co-founder of the Halloween & Costume Association, he has more than 20 years of costume business experience. He served previously as co-president of Disguise and was most recently managing director of the licensed costume business at Rubie’s Costume Company.

Obituary: Stuart Crawford By Phil Ratcliffe, joint MD of MV Sports & Leisure Stuart Crawford died on 19 August aged 69 after a prolonged and debilitating illness. Stuart retired from MV Sports & Leisure in 2019 after 22 years with the company, having worked in the toy industry for more than 40 years. After training at Nestlé, Stuart’s first role in toys was in 1976 with Burbank Toys, followed by Acamas Toys in 1981, Pikit Toys in 1987, PMS in 1992 and MV Sports & Leisure in 1997. Stuart worked with all the major and independent retailers both past and present, and in particular he was a champion of the independent retail trade He was perhaps best known for his role as national account controller at MV Sports & Leisure. Ever popular and widely respected, Stuart was an honourable, trustworthy ambassador for the company. A ‘larger than life’ character who wore his heart on his sleeve, nobody had a bad word to say about him. He was loyal to both the wider toy industry and MV, demonstrating unwavering support to customers, agents, directors, and staff. His contribution to the industry was recognised with a BTHA Golden Teddy Award in 2018. A family man through and through, Stuart was always there for his children and grandchildren. He always thought of others before thinking of himself. Our thoughts are with his wife Marie and family at this sad time. He will be greatly missed. There will be a private family funeral and cards should be sent to MV Sports & Leisure, 35 Tameside Drive Birmingham B35 7AG. Donations can be sent to children’s charity Barnado’s at stuartcrawfordinmemoriam.

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TRENDS: TOYS THAT ENCOURAGE KIDS TO MAKE MUSIC Social media platforms and video games have become incubators for musical content creation and viral dances, and today’s toymakers are looking here for inspiration – a top 2021 trend first identified by The U.S. Toy Association, says senior communications specialist Kirstin Morency Goldman From TikTok-inspired dance moves to popular nursery rhyme channels like CoComelon and Little Baby Bum, and video games such as Fortnite, digital platforms are spawning pop culture crazes as well as new ideas for toys and games, according to Adrienne Appell, senior vice president of marketing communications at The U.S. Toy Association. While classic music toys will always be a staple in the toy aisles, this trend highlights the influx of new toys with a musical twist across categories, including screen-free audio players, construction toys that let kids build their own music videos, as well as dance- and musicinspired games, she says. For families looking to mix music into their own playtime routines, here is just a small sampling of the many toys that fit right in to this hot trend: Smartivity Music Machine (Elenco): With this STEM/STEAM DIY music activity kit, kids can assemble their own music machine, learn about music notations, and even compose and play their own tunes. DJ Mix and Spin Studio (Hape): This hands-on interactive music toy encourages little ones to explore rhythm and sound recognition (piano, organ, bass, and drum) as they interact with the turntable, mixer unit, and other features. They can even add fun scratch effects as they work on their hand-eye co-ordination. Loog Mini Electric (Loog Guitars): The Loog Mini Electric comes with flashcards to learn how to form chords, and an app that will have kids playing songs by artists ranging from The Beatles to Taylor Swift and more. Rhyme Antics (Rhyme Antics): Take a turn at this vocabulary game inspired by hip hop music. Players must think to the beat while they freestyle rap in proper English, testing their vocabulary knowledge at rapid speeds. CoComelon Official Musical Bedtime JJ Doll (Jazwares): Inspired by JJ, a popular character from the CoComelon YouTube series, This plush character has seven sounds and phrases, kids can squeeze JJ’s tummy. Kids can listen as he talks and sings the ‘Yes Bedtime’ song. Founded in 1916, The U.S. Toy Association is a not-for-profit trade association representing businesses involved in creating and delivering toys and youth entertainment products for kids of all ages. The U.S. toy industry has an annual U.S. economic impact of $97.2 billion and its 1,000-plus members drive the annual $27 billion U.S. domestic toy market. The Association serves as the industry’s voice on the developmental benefits of play and promotes play’s positive impact on childhood development to consumers and the media. It has a long history of leadership in toy safety, and remains committed to working with medical experts, government, consumers, and industry on programmes to ensure safe and fun play. The organisation produces the world-renowned Toy Fair New York and Toy Fair Dallas; advocates on behalf of members around the world; and chairs the committee that reviews and revises America’s widely emulated ASTM F963 toy safety standard.


02/09/2021 17:12

Craft Buddy becomes Toymaster and AIS supplier Craft Buddy has revealed moves to further establish its presence in the arts & crafts market and growth in the toy space by becoming a Toymaster and Associated Independent Stores (AIS) supplier. Rosie Marshall, head of toys & children’s gifts at plaYroom, the toy division of AIS, said: “Several members were already stockists of Craft Buddy, so it seemed only right that they joined plaY-room as a CENPAC (Central Payment of Accounts) preferred supplier. “This last year has seen growth in craft activities and their product range suits our broad and diverse range of members. As one of the largest multicategory buying groups, we can support members with products such as this that often cross over into both children’s and adult gifts. We are delighted that they will be exhibiting their new products at our Toy & Gift Show on 14 September and 15 September.”

Crayola launches backto-school campaign Crayola has teamed up with data-powered integrated agency Jaywing to create its 2021 social back-to-school campaign. The arts and crafts brand has also partnered with Great Bedwyn C.E primary school’s pupils in Wiltshire, to reflect on the back-toschool season through the imagination of a child. The campaign consists of videos and images showing pupils colouring in a series of letters to reveal the phrase ‘back to school’. The aim was to emphasise the human experience of education and adventure through learning as the children created poems about their own back to school memories. The kids then attended the final shoot, where they read out poems used as the final voice-over. The videos and images, which were created for Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, kicked off on 26 July and run to 6 September with an expected reach of over 3.5 million parents. Crayola brand manager Jade Childs said: “As children haven’t had a taste of normality for a long time, we wanted to help parents get back to school ready with our comprehensive range of Crayola stationery. We’re thrilled with the campaign and the authentic creatives we developed, with poems written and voiced-over by the participating children. It was a great process that they really enjoyed getting involved in.”

The NPD Group reports on toy sales Looking across the global markets (G12) tracked by The NPD Group, toy industry sales increased by 15%** to $22.45 billion in the first half (1H) of 2021 compared with the same period in 2020, and 28% when compared with the $17.59 billion generated in 1H 2019. NPD’s Global Toys footprint covers Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Russia, Spain, UK, and US. G12 excludes China & Australia First half 2021 sales increased in all countries versus 1H 2020, though sales were down in Spain and Brazil compared with 1H 2019. Sales increased in all other countries compared with 1H 2019, driven by the U.S. and Germany. In 1H 2021, the 11 toys supercategories tracked by NPD saw sales increase versus 1H 2020. However, 1H sales saw higher growth in seven categories compared 8

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with 1H 2019, led by Games/ Puzzles and Outdoor & Sports Toys, which generated the most revenue and experienced the highest growth. Infant/Toddler/ Preschool Toys, Dolls, and Building Sets ranked in the top five for revenue. Of the 29 toys subsegments, only two experienced declines in revenue versus 1H 2019: Playset Dolls & Accessories and Battling Toys & Playsets. The highest subsegment growth was seen in Strategic Trading Card Games, which increased 136% driven by Pokémon, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary. The top five selling toy properties across the G12 in 1H were Pokémon, followed by Barbie, Star Wars, L.O.L. Surprise!, and Marvel Universe. Frédérique Tutt, global toys industry analyst at The NPD Group, said: “We are delighted to report continuous strong growth for the toy market globally. Even though Covid-19 restrictions are easing

“We are delighted to report continuous strong growth for the toy market globally. Even though Covid-19 restrictions are easing in most countries, consumers continue to turn to toys and games for their entertainment.” Frédérique Tutt, global toys industry analyst at The NPD Group in most countries, consumers continue to turn to toys and games for their entertainment. Whether it’s collectable cards, building sets or outdoor toys, demand is still very strong, which is promising as the industry is now preparing for the holiday season.” **Source: The NPD Group / Retail Tracking Service, $ Sales adjusted & projected / January-June 2021. Volumes for Italy for March, April and May 2020 have been averaged due to temporary Covid-19 data disruption. 02/09/2021 17:12

BTHA comments on Which? survey highlighting unsafe toys Parents are being warned about the risk of buying cheap, unbranded toys online after a new Which? investigation found more than 40% of toys it bought from online marketplaces failed safety tests. The not-for-profit consumer champion tested 28 toys bought from Amazon Marketplace, AliExpress, eBay and Wish and found 12 posed a safety risk after failing one or more tests. Which? shared its investigation with the four online marketplaces and all 12 products that failed have since been removed from sale. The British Toy & Hobby Association (BTHA) commented: “The BTHA has been testing toys for three years from third-party sellers via online marketplace platforms. Unfortunately, we were not

Spring Fair announces four-day show and late-night openings Spring Fair has announced that it will drop from a five-day to a four-day show. The new dates for 2022 run from Sunday 6 February to Wednesday 9 February and will include the introduction of latenight openings until 7.30pm on the Sunday and Monday. The trade exhibition, traditionally held annually at the NEC in Birmingham, last took place in 2020 from February 2 to February 6. Event director Simon Lau said: “After extensive research, analysis, and collaboration with over 3,500 exhibitors, buyers and partners, we have taken the decision that Spring Fair will become a four-day show. We have listened to our customers who had overwhelming feedback that the show was a day too long. “Buying behaviours have changed in recent years and visitors have communicated that a more condensed few days - with the same number of talks, demonstrations, and meetings - would make it a more dynamic and action-packed event. We are also really pleased to introduce two late night openings. A trend common in retail already, the additional opportunities to trade will greatly benefit visitors attending for one day only.’’

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surprised to see the results of the Which? report which reflected our own findings. By testing 100 toys last year we found 86% were illegal and 60% were unsafe - it’s simply unacceptable to have this level of non-compliance in the marketplace. “The government is reviewing the future product safety regime in the UK and the BTHA is advocating for changes to the law to make marketplaces take responsibility for vetting sellers and products to ensure only safe toys are put into the hands of children. “Responsible toy suppliers invest heavily in making safe toys and responsible retailers have a legal responsibility for checking toys have been made safely. We want to see the law recognise the role of online platforms in bringing toys to market, so that all children in the UK can enjoy safe playtime.”

Spielwarenmesse survey reveals mood of toy industry Spielwarenmesse eG recently conducted a survey among visitors to its international toy fair Spielwarenmesse to learn more about people’s views on attending the next event, which will be held in Nuremberg from 2 February to 6 February 2022. The response was ‘unusually high and representative’ with a total of 2,229 trade visitors from 89 countries participating in the study. The findings reveal that more than 75% are planning to attend the 2022 event. Christian Ulrich, spokesperson of the executive board at Spielwarenmesse eG, said: “The results of the survey reflect the current mood in the toy industry. The desire to meet in person and experience the buzz of the real event is huge. We’re delighted about this trend.”

Meanwhile, following the successful launch of a podcast in June, Spielwarenmesse has hosted its second edition. Keen to enable all industry participants to enjoy this new format, the latest conversation is conducted in English. Executive board members Christian Ulrich and Florian Hess provide insights into the future pathway for Spielwarenmesse. Scarlett Wisotzki, director of communications, asks how the pandemic has changed the company, how the expectations of its target groups are being reflected in the event’s concepts, and how digitalisation will influence the next Spielwarenmesse. The podcast is available at www. and can be streamed on Spotify. 9

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Hyve Group partners with Retail Trust Hyve Group has announced the Retail Trust as its charity partner for Autumn Fair and Spring Fair for two years, and its wellbeing partner across all its retail shows in the UK (comprising Spring Fair, Autumn Fair, Pure, Glee and Scoop) to provide dedicated support, awareness and fundraising for the retail sector. The partnership will incorporate offsite volunteer days, team challenges, and onsite activity. A dedicated Wellbeing section will launch on the websites of all Hyve Group’s shows featuring information and articles alongside videos that support the wellbeing of retailers and suppliers alike. The partnership also sees the Autumn Fair launch of the Female Founders scheme. This initiative will support the growth of female-founded retail businesses by offering six businesses a free stand at Spring Fair 2021, followed by 12 months of business mentoring with leading female entrepreneurs.

Hamleys in major play for gaming market Toy retailer Hamleys has opened a state-of-the-art console, PC and gaming accessories department at its flagship shop on London’s Regent Street. The 1,326sq ft gaming space features consoles from PS4 and PS5 to Xbox 1 and XS, Nintendo Switch and a wide range of PC games and accessories. Hamleys claims the new department is ‘the biggest gaming retail site in London’s Soho area and features the latest top ranked games and best sellers across the gaming platforms with all the leading publishers from EA,

Capcom and Activision to Nintendo, Ubisoft, Rockstar Games and Bandai Namco’. Accessories brands include XRocker, Turtle Beach, Anda Seat, Power A, Nacon and Hori and feature everything from keyboards and mouse pads to gaming chairs, controllers, arcade sticks and headsets. Hamleys of London CEO Sumeet Yadav said: “This is a natural fit for Hamleys and in time, we would like to see gaming roll out across our wider global retail estate.”

Retail sales strong but slowing, says BRC On a total basis, retail sales increased by 6.4% in July against a growth of 3.2% in July 2020, according to the latest figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC). This is below the three-month average growth of 14.7% and the 12-month average growth of 10.4%. On a two-year basis, total retail sales grew by 9.1%. BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson OBE said: “July continued to see strong sales, although growth has started to slow. The lifting of restrictions did not bring the anticipated in-store boost, with the wet weather leaving consumers reluctant to visit shopping destinations. “However, the vacancy rate is continuing to rise. Many shops and local communities have been battered by the pandemic, with many high streets in need of further investment. Unfortunately, the current broken business rates system continues to hold back retailers, hindering vital investment into retail innovation and the blended physical-digital retail offering. The Government must ensure the upcoming business rates review permanently reduces the cost burden to sustainable levels. Retailers want to play their part in building back a better future for local communities, and the Government must give them the tools to do so.”


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Back-to-school season expected to boost retail sales +12% compared with pre-pandemic As parents start to look to the new school year, UK retailers are preparing for a strong back-to-school shopping season. According to a survey by Mastercard SpendingPulse, which measures in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment, UK retail sales excluding petrol are expected to grow 12% during the 16 August to 19 September back-to-school period compared with the same time pre-pandemic in 2019. Year-on-year, sales are predicted to grow 6.7% compared with 2020. This anticipated growth builds on positive retail momentum, as total retail sales rose 4.2% year-on-year in July, fuelled by pent-up demand and lifting of restrictions. Kelly Devine, divisional president of Mastercard UK & Ireland, said: “Back to school has always been a key shopping time for retailers. This year, the broader reopening of the High Street brings an exciting wave of opti-mism as children prepare for what is hopefully an uninterrupted school year.

John Lewis predicts top 10 toys for Christmas John Lewis & Partners enlisted a panel of five toy testers aged under 12 to help select and approve the department store group’s final top 10 toys for Christmas. The testers spent hours playing, testing and competing in the John Lewis Toy Testing Lab and finally selecting their favourites, which the retailer predicts will be the must-have toys for Christmas 2021. John Lewis & Partners toy buyer Rachael Larkman said: “This year we’ve seen a huge surge in the popularity of traditional toys and games that can be enjoyed by the whole family. For example, sales of construction toys and puzzles such as LEGO have risen 50% in the last 12 months, and we predict this trend will continue for Christmas. The selection of top toys chosen by our panel of testers includes toys suitable for all ages. From ‘my first’ toys to the exclusive Scalextric, which we are predicting to be the toy of the season, there’s a great variety that will guarantee excitement on Christmas Day.” The Top 10 toys are: 1. Scalextric Batman vs Superman, Exclusive to John Lewis, £39.99 2. LEGO Elf Clubhouse, £84.99 3. John Lewis FSC Wooden My First Train Set, £20 4. Ravensburger Space Puzzle, £39.99 5. John Lewis FSC Wooden Waitrose Supermarket, £65 6. Gravi Pro Starter Extreme, Exclusive to John Lewis, £89.99 7. Kaloo My first Doll, £19.99 8. Harry Potter Games Compendium £59.99 9. Tonies Soft Cuddly Friends - Hoppie Rabbit Audio Play, £29.99 10. Secret Garden book, £12 02/09/2021 17:14



Bing joins Pudsey to support BBC Children in Need Acamar Films, producer of the multi-award-winning TV show Bing, along with Dublin-based studio Brown Bag Films, is joining forces with BBC corporate charity Children in Need to inspire youngsters with this year’s fundraising efforts. Donning their very own spotty ‘Pudsey’ ears, Bing and his friends will feature alongside the popular BBC Children in Need mascot across a range of fundraising activities, exclusive merchandise and more - giving preschoolers lots of imaginative ways to participate and help kids across the UK. The campaign will drive fundraising ahead of the BBC Children in Need Appeal night in November and will include highlights from the early years fundraising campaign. Adapted for TV from the original books by Ted Dewan, Bing is broadcast in 130 territories worldwide - and Acamar Films is now partnering with WarnerMedia Kids & Family to bring the show to the US. Bing joins its upcoming preschool programming block Cartoonito, which launches this autumn.

Xilam Animation’s new series land on global platforms Academy Award-nominated French animation studio Xilam Animation’s new series Chip ‘n’ Dale: Park Life and Oggy Oggy have launched worldwide on Disney+ and Netflix respectively. The launches mark the first time a pair of original series created and produced entirely in France will head to these global platforms. The Chip ‘n’ Dale series follows two tiny troublemakers, Chip and Dale, trying to live the good life in a city park while having giant-sized, sky-high adventures. In their perpetual pursuit of acorns, these ultimate underdogs are joined by Pluto, Butch and other Disney characters as they face down bullies great and small. Oggy Oggy is a CGI preschool spin-off to Xilam’s Oggy and the Cockroaches franchise. The series sees young Oggy freed from the ceaseless tyranny of the cockroaches. Curious and daring, Oggy Oggy is always eager to live new experiences and if he can help a friend along the way: the more the merrier! Xilam will support the series with an extensive consumer products programme, which is set to roll-out from Q4 2022.

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Blue Zoo & Plug-In Media join forces to open regional hub in Brighton BAFTA-winning animation studios Blue Zoo and Plug-In Media have combined to form a new venture. The collaboration kicks off with greenlight for two major preschool series and other projects in the pipeline. London-based Blue Zoo recently won the Daytime Emmy for best animated pre-school show for The Adventures of Paddington and is currently working on seven productions remotely. Having doubled its staff in the last year, Blue Zoo will continue its expansion onto the south coast with a regional hub in the East Sussex town of Brighton. Brighton-based Plug-In Media has long-established expertise in creating multi-platform content across broadcast, interactive, and YouTube, as well as being the creator of BAFTA-winning orig-inal IP, Tee and Mo. The two studios first worked together in 2010 and this new collaboration brings together nearly 40 years of combined experience to continue to produce animation, as well as new content. The studios have won a commission for a 52-episode 2D preschool action-comedy series for a major public broadcaster, creating new jobs and widening the animation talent pool in the south of England.

Moominvalley to feature in exhibition Gutsy Animations’ Emmy Award-nominated Moominvalley series will be featured as part of a new ‘Moomin Animations - Thrills and Cuddles’ exhibition at the National Children’s Museum in Washington DC, running from 3 September until 9 January. The upcoming exhibition, on loan from the world’s only Moomin Museum located in Tampere (Finland), marks the first time that ‘Moomin Animations - Thrills and Cuddles’ has travelled internationally. The exhibition highlights the rich history of Moomin animations, which are based on the Moomin books and comic strips created by the Finnish artist and author Tove Jansson. During the exhibition, visitors will have a chance to explore how the Moomin stories have evolved from the first Moomin film to premiere on TV (a German marionette animation film in 1959), to Gutsy Animations’ 3D animated series Moominvalley, which has been sold to more than 50 countries. The exhibition is brought to the US by the Embassy of Finland in Washington D.C.


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NEWS Sales restructure at

Character Options

Richard Dinham

Athony Thorpe

Sally Hunter

Character Options has announced several changes to its sales structure as part of an internal review to ensure the company is well positioned for growth. Homegrown talents Richard Dinham and Anthony Thorpe have been promoted to senior national account manager roles in recognition of their “first-rate professional approach and respect within the business”. Sales director David Bramford said: “I’m really pleased for Richard and Anthony, as they have both played an integral part in Character Options’ success in recent years. And from a personal perspective, it’s brilliant to have the opportunity to promote internally.” In addition, Sally Hunter is joining the company as senior national account manager. She replaces Guy Rooney, who is leaving to take on a new industry role. David commented: “Sally’s professional approach alongside her contagious enthusiasm - will perfectly complement Anthony, Richard and the rest of the team. Over the years we have always felt she would be an ideal fit for Character and whilst I would like to personally thank Guy for his excellent contribution, equally I’m sure Sally will relish taking this opportunity.”

MGA UK recruits new Zapf Creation sales director MGA UK & Ireland has appointed Guy Rooney to the role of Zapf Creation sales director. Reporting to UK and Ireland managing director Neil Bandtock, the newly created position will oversee the portfolio of Zapf’s award-winning brands including Baby Annabell, BABY born and BABY born Surprise. Joining the team following four years with Character Group, Guy will take up the position at the end of September. He joins with a wealth of experience in the toy and retail industry, including senior sales roles with IMC Toys and retail management positions with Argos and Homebase. Neil said: “We’re delighted to welcome Guy to the team. Zapf is home to a number of evergreen and hugely successful brands, and the addition of Guy as sales director will elevate this success to the next level. Our UK and Ireland retailers will really benefit from this increased focus.” Guy commented: “I’m thrilled to be joining the Zapf team and can’t wait to get started. I’m looking forward to having the opportunity of supporting our customers and increasing the sales of these well-loved brands.”


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New talent joins University Games sales and marketing teams University Games and The Lagoon Group have made two key appointments, contributing to the growth of both the sales and marketing departments. University Games has welcomed Victoria Reece in the marketing assistant role as the business continues to strategically develop strength and depth in this department. Marketing director Gemma Lewington said: Victoria Reece “Victoria is such a bright and enthusiastic individual and we are very excited to have her as part of our team. She comes to us from Viegli UK, where she was heavily involved with website development and asset creation, as well as a wealth of campaign management across both B2C and B2B.” Meanwhile, Liz Price has been appointed as new territory manager for the Midlands and North England. She brings a wealth of knowledge, with a decade of retail experience and over six years of specialising in toys, games, and licences. Liz said: Liz Price “University Games are innovative, forward-thinking and passionate about what they do, I’m really enjoying being part of this dynamic team.” University Games and The Lagoon Group has a comprehensive portfolio of products to cater for the whole family, from preschool through to adult. Some of the ever-popular lines include Subbuteo, Smart Ass, Sort it Out, Kersplatt, What’s Up and Don’t Say it, as well as Football Stadium and Harry Potter 3D puzzles.

Jazwares adds directors to EMEA team Jazwares has appointed Matt Stent as European commercial director and Samantha Bourne as European licensing director as part of its ambitious European growth strategy. Matt joins the company after almost two decades at Argos & Sainsburys, most recently as the buying manager for sports, leisure, outdoor toys & nursery, reporting to Jonny Taylor, SVP Europe. Matt will be responsible for growing Jazwares’ business in Europe both through its regional offices and third-party distributors. Samantha Bourne, the former head of licensing and brand at Rubie’s Masquerade, brings a wealth of experience within licensed consumer goods. Reporting to global VP of licensing Sam Ferguson, her role as EMEA licensing director will focus on ensuring Jazwares delivers commercial value and results to global licensing partners. Jazwares has also expanded its UK team with 10 hires to fill newly created positions across licensing, sales, marketing, operations, and business intelligence. Jonny Taylor said: “We are thrilled to be adding such strong talent to our team, to match our growth both in the UK and across Europe. Exciting times ahead!” 02/09/2021 17:21

Giochi Preziosi names Julia Cake as new UK country manager The Giochi Preziosi Group has confirmed the appointment of a new UK Country Manager, as Julia Cake takes the helm at Surrey-based Flair PLC. Julia grew up in an entrepreneurial family manufacturing business, making doll pushchair covers in the UK. Since then, she has accumulated 20 years of toy experience, having held positions at Mattel and Schleich, among other toy companies. Most recently, she held the post of commercial director and manager of Magic Box UK where she doubled turnover in just three years. Giochi Preziosi Group CEO Marie-Eve Rougeot said: “Julia brings a vast amount of experience and shares our drive to take Flair to a new level of success. With such impressive achievements to date, Julia will be instrumental in supporting the growth of the UK operations in both the short and medium term.”

Julia took over from managing director Simon Hedge as GP’s Head of UK on 1 August. Simon left the company at the end of July. He has been part of the toy industry for more than 30 years and was a founding member of the former Flair Leisure Products when it was established in 1995. Having taken the company through the acquisition by The Giochi Preziosi Group in 2008, Simon was appointed managing director of the Group’s UK operations in 2013. Speaking of his decision to move on, Simon said: “I feel the time is right to start a new chapter in both my career and family life. My time with Flair has been tremendous and we have seen both highs and lows during the past 25 years - from a pre-Christmas warehouse fire right through to distributing some of the UK’s most exciting toy brands. To start a company from literally nothing alongside friends and colleagues such as Peter Brown and Nicola Bergot, I feel very lucky for the time I’ve had with Flair and all that has been achieved.”

New faces at

Thames & Kosmos

Tillie Hearty

Thames & Kosmos UK’s Kent office in Cranbrook has welcomed two new staff members. Lauren Lethbridge has been appointed as science kit sales and marketing manager. She succeeds Julia Loeser and will handle key accounts and science kit orders. Tillie Hearty joins as Amazon account manager, taking over the role from longstanding team member Samantha Latter, who is heading off on maternity leave.

Lauren Lethbridge

Casdon Toys

expands team with new senior hire Casdon Toys has recruited Laura Bull as Americas Territory manager. The newly created role will allow Casdon to strengthen its operations overseas and harness its growth in the America market. Laura brings a wealth of toy industry experience. She previously held the position of UK and Ireland sales manager at Magic Box, as well as the role of marketing manager at both Posh Paws and Schleich UK. Casdon Toys managing director Phil Cassidy said: “We are delighted to welcome Laura to the Casdon family. This is an exciting step for Casdon as we continue to focus on our international growth, and we have no doubt that Laura’s experience within the industry will help us to achieve plans we have for the coming year.” Laura added: “I’m thrilled to join Casdon: a company so renowned and admired throughout the industry. I look forward to being part of the Casdon family and driving business growth in the American markets.”

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Funko adds to its EMEA sales management team Funko (EMEA) has appointed former MGA Entertainment sales director Karen Athill as regional channel director of sales, where she will lead the regional sales teams. At MGA Entertainment, Karen helped to spearhead the growth of the UK region through a successful sales strategy for brands including L.O.L. Surprise, Rainbow High, Little Tikes, Baby Born and Baby Annabel. Prior to this role, Karen headed up sales for the UK at Rubie’s - the world’s largest manufacturer of licensed costumes and accessories - where she delivered multi-channel strategies across its portfolio of products in both hard and Softlines. Commenting on her new position, Karen said: “I’m delighted to be joining the Funko family. Their huge range of license partnerships offer unlimited opportunities and I’m thrilled to be working on such a diverse product range spanning multiple categories. “Additionally, the ongoing portfolio expansion (Loungefly to name just one) makes this an exciting time to be a part of the business. It’s great to be back in a cross-category environment and I cannot wait to be working with the talented Funko team and look forward to supporting our EMEA retailer partners towards further growth.” Malcolm Ottley, vice president of sales at Funko (EMEA), commented: “We are delighted to have been able to secure someone with Karen’s proven experience to help strengthen our retailer relationships throughout the UK, France and Iberia regions. Karen will lead our sales teams in those regions, further enhancing our strategic partner relations and continuing to drive our category expansions across our Pop! collectables, toys, games and Softlines through our thriving Loungefly business.”


02/09/2021 17:21



Diary of a toy shop Summer was a season of ‘consistently inconsistent’ sales for Amanda Alexander, owner of Giddy Goat Toys in Didsbury

I’m merrily handing out branded Giddy Goat Toys fridge magnets hoping that while the current basket value is low, customers will recall a wellstocked shop and come back to us later

Hot sellers As luck would have it, this year’s craze of Pushpoppers seem to be readily available so I’ve bought in 47 different types of popping things from Tobar


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eople assume I will be busy over the summer as kids are on holiday from school but actually it’s the opposite because (usually) the locals disappear en masse to Abersoch [a very popular village seaside resort in North Wales] or Portugal, and August has always been my quietest month. Plus, of course, there don’t tend to be many kids’ parties during the school break - although obviously there haven’t been many this year anyway. In my first year of trading back in 2010, the lack of summer footfall alarmed me. But once I realised this was the pattern to expect, I was fine. Even so I’ve been caught out - like the time I ordered 70 billion loom bands in mid-July, only for the craze to die a death literally the minute school finished (still, we’re unlikely to ever need to buy elastic bands again for rolled wrapping paper sheets!). So, we have some precedent in terms of last year and given that we’re in beach-free Manchester (not exactly a staycation destination), I’m not expecting this summer to be recordbreaking. However, equally, I don’t want to run the stock down and lose sales and have disappointed customers… so how to plan?

and wholesaler Muddleit though I know there are various other wholesalers with them, and my toy shop WhatsApp group has shared details of suppliers. I’ve also got the lovely people at Playmobil to install one of their window displays, bought in a load of paddling pools and water guns, and stocked up on craft stuff from Galt, and games and puzzles from Orchard Toys. Plus, we took part in Big Potato Games’ Great Board Game Trade [under the scheme, which ran until the end of August, customers could bring in an old game and in turn, receive 20% off a new Big Potato game. The old game will be recycled and donated to a local charity or community]. So hopefully we got the warm days, the wet days, and the 'wanderingaimlessly-and-after-a-pocket-moneypriced-thing’ days covered. In the first week of the summer break, we were in the middle of a heatwave. Water guns flew out. Little groups of nine- to 12-year-olds came in, some of them possibly having their first parentfree wander round the shops. And I’m sorry to sound like a broken record, but they couldn’t do that if everything was online, or get first dibs on the new delivery of Pushpopper toys, or get their water bottles filled and told to stay in the shade, and count out their spends on the counter, and then get asked to work out their change by the crazy toy shop lady. True to every summer (or so it seems since I became a parent), the Weather God received news that it was the school holidays and it duly tipped down

for several days. Surprisingly, footfall remained decent, and families dodged the showers to come in for treats, although we found weekends were much quieter than usual. Since then, both the weather and sales have been consistently inconsistent, and the two things don’t even seem linked. Some days we can take twice as much as the day before. Other days I’ll get twice as many online orders as the day before. Staff planning is a challenge for sure. The Pushpoppers have proved to be pleasingly popular though, and I’m merrily handing out branded Giddy Goat Toys fridge magnets hoping that while the current basket value is low, customers will recall a well-stocked shop and come back to us later in the year. A well-deserved break I took a break to Fife during the school holidays, which while not gloriously sunny, was very beautiful. And although I love my job, the break was good. I’m just glad that this year we didn’t have a massive delivery of unordered stock turn up in error like last year. And that the person I left in charge of doing online orders didn’t faint on the first day of my holiday either (also like last year). I’ve returned refreshed and ready for what Q4 brings. Predictions include a massive flu pandemic, further Covid variants and crazy stock shortages, so I think it will be challenging. But I also feel that no matter what, parents will always want to treat their children. So, whatever happens, hopefully we’ll get through it intact. 02/09/2021 17:25



Make it a December to remember favourite advert on either YouTube, a social platform, website, or app, compared with 39% who see their favourite advert on TV. This is a global trend. As we have seen in Canada and Brazil, YouTube overtakes TV as the place where kids see their favourite advert from the age of six. In Mexico, YouTube overtakes TV from the age of 14. But crucially, in nine out of 10 countries where TV is said to be the number one place that kids see their favourite adverts, the gap between TV and YouTube has narrowed. So, will Christmas 2021 be the year the most talked-about advert is not on television, but on social media?

As an activity that can be shared, TV has long brought families together. But viewing habits have changed. In 2017, 45% of three- to five-year-olds said they watched mostly linear broadcast TV, while 19% watched mostly Netflix. However, by Q2 2021 16% mostly watch Netflix and just 35% watch broadcast TV. Parents’ behaviours are changing too. Parents of preschoolers aged three to five report that they are beginning to trust adverts they see on TV less, falling by 22% since January 2021. Instead, social media has been on the rise, with these parents showing more trust towards adverts seen on YouTube (+82%), Facebook (+17%), Influencer recommendations (+34%), and TikTok (+20%) since the start of the year.

Will Christmas be the year the most talkedabout advert is not on TV, but on social media?

Shifting viewing habits Television still commands a huge audience from young viewers - with kids aged from three to five spending nine hours and 55 minutes per week watching TV in the UK.


s toy brands look to finalise their advertising and marketing plans for the Christmas and holiday season, we look at some of the key trends to see how brands can maximise their ROI and budgets this year. In the past four years, we have been tracking the attitudes, behaviours, and consumption of kids, parents, and families. Over this time, the data shows that not only are kids consuming more content digitally but they are forming stronger preferences within a digital environment. Growing up as digital natives, this generation has a far greater choice of what they consume and when they consume it than ever before. That means kids’ attention is fragmented across a huge range of (increasingly niche) platforms, making it harder to reach a mass audience. Our data shows that kids aged six to nine in the UK spend 68% of their available time on digital activities. However, PwC [accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers] estimates that of the annual $4.6 billion kids’ advertising market spend, just 37% will be spent on digital platforms. Earlier this year, we spoke to more than 100 industry professionals as part of our Industry Voice Report and found just 54% of individuals surveyed are confident that their advertising and media spend will provide them with the expected ROI. Additionally, only 6% of businesses believe they have sufficient understanding of the kids and family demographic. So, as we approach the busiest Q4 period - which sees up to three-quarters (equivalent to $3.2 billion) spent around the Christmas and holiday season - let’s highlight some of the key trends that toy brands need to be aware of. According to our latest data, kids aged 10 to 12 are most likely to see their favourite advert digitally, with 46% viewing their

There are 3.2 billion reasons to maximise your media spend and ROI this Christmas, says Nick Richardson, founder & CEO of The Insights Family

What this means for you… In an increasingly fast-paced world, it has never been easier to get it wrong! To help brands and clients with their Christmas, we recently announced the latest evolution of our media planning tool: the Media Mix Compass.

The Insights Family (formerly The Insights People) specialises in kids, parents, and family market intelligence. Providing real-time data on their attitudes, behaviour, and consumption patterns, every year the company surveys more than 362,100 kids and more than 176,800 parents.

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02/09/2021 17:26

Photo Credit Viktoriia Novokhatska



The magical vanishing

toy shop? John Ryan explores how the evolving role of hybridisation in retail could bring opportunities to toy traders


ould the reason that there are, relatively speaking, so few toy shops be that they’re either not wanted or needed? Time was when most small towns had a toy shop. These were places you went to as an adult to treat your children, or maybe as a kid; they were sources of wonder and delight. Yet now they are thinner on the ground. Toy shops may be part of a chain (and there are very few of these) or exist in splendid isolation as one-offs, but there just aren’t that many around. There are several factors that could be contributing to this and it’s actually quite hard to assign a single reason to what looks like a slow decline, but at the top of the list is probably retail hybridisation.

Creating destinations Hybridisation is the process by which categories come together to form something that you won’t find elsewhere to create destinations. Examples abound, whether it’s pet shops appearing as shop-in-shops in supermarkets or the slow, but seemingly inevitable, appearance of cafés in convenience stores. Convenience stores in fact provide a lesson in the shifting retail landscape and the gradual evolution of the hybrid. In days gone by, these were shops you went to because you’d run out of something and were frequently referred to as ‘corner shops’. That was some time back, and today the convenience store is likely to be a place you visit to grab a latté and get ingredients for your evening meal, while at the same time buying a snack to see you through the afternoon. And in the better ones, there will be a café with seats. All of which means that the idea of a convenience store has undergone considerable modification. So it goes, perhaps, with toy shops. Quite aside from the fact that for young shoppers the web is a very considerable commercial distraction, these days a shop that sells ‘toys’ is likely to offer stationery and gifts and, very possibly, a café as well. On the latter point, selling coffee in a hybridised toy shop is likely to offer a very good return on investment. Once you’ve learned how to froth some milk and found a decent supplier of coffee beans, the

Photo Credit hopeist

mark-up on a hot beverage is such that it could provide a better yield than almost anything else you have in your store. So why not just sell coffee? The answer to this is that there are those who do so already - and they do it pretty well. In terms of persuading potential customers to spend more time in your store, however, a few seats and some arabica is about as good as it gets when it comes to offering something that will make a difference to your turnover.

How is trading for you? But what about the rest of the shop? How to strike a balance between toys for grown-ups and toys as might be understood by the toy shop owner of old? This is where gift fairs come in. And what else? Books: recipe books, travel books and a smattering of modish fiction (and a young readers’ offer as well, you never know!) can be used to plug gaps and make a store feel more homely. So where does this take the hybrid toy shop and where are we heading? It seems probable that the outcome of all of this will be a retail format that will appeal to adults as much as children. There may well be fewer toys on display but that does not mean losing out, as your skills when it comes to selection will take care of this. What seems likely is that as well as children inspecting the merchandise, there will be a good number of adults too. Should all else fail, they’ll be sat enjoying a cup of something while being grateful that they don’t have to stand around while their offspring test-drive the stock. This is a hybrid toy shop and the fact that it doesn’t necessarily just stock toys should not be a cause of particular concern. Whatever label is applied to this piece of retail bundling, the whole should be considerably better than the sum of the parts… assuming a degree of know-how and competence. The obvious question in all of this is whether there is a future for the toy shop pure and simple? Very possibly, but if you have the option of getting a greater number of different customer types across the threshold, what are you going to opt for? Retail is about choice and choice features as much in the eyes of the shopkeeper as it does for the customer.

Retail is about choice and choice features as much in the eyes of the shopkeeper as it does for the customer

John Ryan is Stores Editor of business magazine Retail Week. He has worked for the title 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.

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02/09/2021 17:29



Family films are back on top C

inema has been the hardest-hit media sector during the pandemic. The long-awaited reopening and road to recovery began this year with a positive start particularly for family films. So, will the string of family film successes continue, and should cinema advertising return as a safe bet to build AV awareness for your brand this Q4? So far this year, the top 10 films are dominated by those targeted at family viewing, with family releases making up almost 40% of the top 10 at the box office. This is despite the huge lineup of films still to be released. At the time of writing this includes Paw Patrol The Movie, Boss Baby 2, Hotel Transylvania: Transformania, The Addams Family 2 and Sing 2, to name but a few. At the top of the charts for all film releases YTD, is Peter Rabbit 2, starring James Corden and Margot Robbie – which was a sure-fire winner at the box office. The first day cinemas reopened saw the highest box office since March 2020, with admissions for the week in excess of 1.3 million. Peter Rabbit 2 took £4.6 million across its first week - a 128% increase on the predicted forecast, and 65% of the first film’s takings across its first week in 2018: a great indication that audiences were hopping back to the cinema as early as Easter, when the weather was particularly bad in the UK. Other family films such as Cruella, Space Jam and Croods 2 have also performed well, sitting within the Top 10 and rubbing shoulders with blockbuster releases such as Marvel’s Black Widow. However, the question remains - would these films have fared better on the big screen pre-Covid? Of course, few would disagree with this hypothesis, but we must recognise that a full recovery to pre-pandemic levels is still some way off. This is no more apparent than in Disney’s phased strategy back to the big screen, which sees the entertainment giant

simultaneously releasing at the box office and on Disney+ (which of course went from strength to strength during the pandemic). This simultaneous strategy by Disney has hit the headlines following Scarlett Johansson’s lawsuit for breach of contract after it streamed her superhero film Black Widow at the same time as its cinema release. Regardless of how Disney responds and adapts to this and potentially other lawsuits on the horizon in the long term, it remains true that with box office hits there is traditionally a 50% dropoff in admissions after the first week of release. However, a trend that has remained unchanged across family films is the consistent level of admissions week on week. This is no doubt due to the sustained holiday periods when most films are launched, but also the appetite for the cinema experience from families. Pearl & Dean (one of the two cinema salehouses in the UK) has been using CAA Film Monitor to track the audience demographic since cinemas have reopened, and has reported a strong family skew, with 59% of full-paying adults who went to the cinema across May-July being accompanied by children. Cinema advertising still allows brands to boost AV engagement and coverage, while ensuring they reach the intended family audiences - and with the slate of family films on the horizon, we expect that toy ad revenue in cinemas will bounce back from 2020. DCM’s & Kantar’s Milward Brown study among others also reveals that adding cinema to the media mix makes TV campaigns more effective, with the study suggesting that toy, game and console brands see an average return on investment of £6 on every £1 spent on cinema advertising. Those brands that will win big at the box office are those that not only invest in cinema advertising in its traditional spot form, but also those that see cinema as an opportunity to showcase their brands and content, in a quality environment, to an engaged audience. If you would like to find out more about how we can help you make the most of the big screen in 2021 and beyond, or for more regular updates on the performance of the latest cinema releases, please contact a member of the team.

Those brands that will win big at the box office are those that see cinema as an opportunity to showcase their brands and content, in a quality environment, to an engaged audience

Cinemas are back, says Generation Media director of business development Alex TaylorSmith, and films aimed at the family audience are proving to be the stars of the big screen

Current Box Office as of 8 August. Source: Pearl & Dean, August 2021

Generation Media is the UK and Ireland’s largest independent media buyer of toys and games advertising. Visit or call 0207 307 7900 or email to learn more

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02/09/2021 17:34



Talking retail

If you wo uld like t o take pa in Toy Ta rt lk, we’d lo ve to hea from you r . Please e mail clare@lem apublishin

TnP loves to hear your views. This month we ask retailers how trading has been since 'Freedom Monday'

“Stock availability is the big challenge for us”

Duncan Conner Managing Director, Bus Stop Toy Shop Largs, Scotland How has trading been for you since ‘Freedom Monday’?

Dan Lovett Manager, The Toy Box, Beccles, Suffolk How has trading been since ‘Freedom Monday’? Well not much has changed really. My colleagues and I are still wearing masks, and about 80% of customers are too. The only thing that has changed is I've pulled up all the stickers off the floor - hardly anyone paid attention to them. Hand sanitiser will stay and is likely to be here for many years.

What’s selling well for you? What’s selling well for us at the moment is very mixed: LEGO, outdoor toys, Barbie and Sylvanian Families. But by far the biggest seller is Pokémon and that will be crazy all year, as it’s the franchise’s 25th anniversary.

Face masks are still required in stores in Scotland and while social distancing is no longer the law, we're still being strongly encouraged to practise it. That means very little has changed from a retail point of view. We have, however, carefully expanded the number of people we're allowing in store for gaming events, although we're still limiting numbers to less than half our normal capacity. I guess we're being more cautious than the law requires because with a team of just three of us, there aren't many back-up plans if any of us get the dreaded instruction to self isolate. It has, however, been a delight to welcome more players back into the store for our gaming events. What’s selling well for you? Two long-term favourites here are at the top of the charts at the moment. Pokémon is always our number one seller. Also, in trading card games, Magic: The Gathering's crossover product with Wizards of the Coast's other main brand Dungeons & Dragons has gone exceptionally well. Of the newer things in store, Manga is doing incredibly well. It started as a wee idea that I literally only gave a one-metre shelf to late last year, but it's quickly cementing its place as an important part of the business. Roleplaying Miniatures, which we'd virtually stopped stocking pre-lockdown, have also exploded since we reopened. What business issues are causing you the most concerns at the moment?

What business issues are causing you the most concerns at the moment?

Stock availability is the big challenge for us. Lack of product is holding back sales on a number of brands. We're doing well, but we could be doing even better!

Getting stock, and prices going up. But we're all in the same boat, or should I say: it's on the “By far the same boat! I don't think it's going to get better anytime soon.

What’s the most surprising or unusual request you’ve received from a customer recently?

What’s the most surprising or unusual request you’ve received from a customer recently?

biggest seller is Pokémon and that will be crazy all year”

We have been asked for some unusual things over the years, but in July someone asked for a sledge – on the hottest day of the year!

What’s on your counter? Apart from the till and card machine it's mainly, you guessed it, Pokémon. We like to keep a close eye on the Pokémon cards especially. 18

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Custard Creams. An old lady, despite being surrounded by toys and games, seemed surprised and disappointed that we didn't stock her favourite biscuits! What’s your personal favourite toy or game in your store? The Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set. I've been a D&D player for 40 years, so I can testify that this one box set can open up a lifetime of enjoyment. What’s on your counter? Our counter is dominated by our acrylic trading card pack dispensers: Magic: The Gathering, Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Dragonball Super, Digimon, Flesh & Blood and Cardfight! Vanguard. Beyond that, it's mostly pick-up price blind packs, which currently include Star Wars, Roblox, Kirby, Mario Kart and Dragonball Z. 02/09/2021 17:36

“Anything dinosaurrelated is a massive seller for girls and boys”

Sally Wilde Owner , Planet Sal, Honiton , Devon How has trading been for you since ‘Freedom Monday’?

What business issues are causing you the most concerns at the moment?

It coincided with the start of the holiday season so we had an influx of tourists, which meant we were a lot busier. It was getting busier anyway because people like to be out and about now. I’m still asking people to wear masks, just because there’s a lot of elderly people in this area and they are still nervous and feel worried. But I don’t insist any more because it’s obviously not a legal obligation. I’ve got a sign and most people tend to stop and look at the sign and then put a mask on. I don’t know how long that’s going to go on for though. I’d say 20% of customers don’t wear one. And we still have hand sanitiser by the door because Covid is still around - and I want to be safe too.

I don’t know if suppliers are out of stock, or can’t get stock, but I’m being told that quite a lot of products are not available until October. So delayed stock from suppliers or ‘delayed replenishment’ as I call it, is a problem.

What’s selling well for you? The best-selling product is definitely Pushpoppers from Tobar. And fidget toys go really well. Squeeze Poppers from Cheatwell Games sell well too. Unicorns have gone off the boil a bit but anything dinosaur-related is a massive seller for girls and boys. I sell dinosaur puzzles, dinosaur squishy toys, dig a dinosaur out of a block kits, dinosaur keyrings… And sea creatures are good turtles and whales - the kids like those. Hedgehogs are in at the moment too. I also do Rockahula children’s accessories such as hair slides and hairbands, which are very popular.

What’s the most surprising or unusual request you’ve received from a customer recently? A man asked for plastic forks the other day. He said: “Why don’t you do them?” I replied: “Because they do them everywhere else.” I recommended the local supermarkets and hardware store. Apparently, he’d already visited them, and they stocked knives and spoons but no forks. And I’m always asked for balloons - but I don’t do them either!

What’s your personal favourite toy or game in your store? A die-cast pull-back tractor from Puckator that arrived today. You pull it back and it goes forward with lights and music. Normally a pull back doesn’t have all those bells and whistles as well, so I’m quite excited about it. Another favourite is from Funtime. It’s a mini pocket metal detector and works really well: kids use it in the garden or on the beach.

Maggie Tibbenham Director, Imagine Toy Shop Holmfirth, West Yorkshire How has trading been for you since ‘Freedom Monday’? It’s been okay. I say okay because I haven't noticed any specific change in footfall. Thankfully, it's not been worse (I was worried that people would suddenly start using ‘back to life freedom' and change the way they spent their days). It's a small shop with four of us working here (including me) and despite restrictions being lifted I’ve asked customers on my social media to still wear face coverings while visiting us. The pandemic is still not over. We cannot obviously force it, but customers have been very respectful and most use face masks when coming to the shop. What’s selling well for you? Pushpoppers, TechDeck finger skateboards, Pokémon cards, LEGO, party bag fillers and squashy toys. What business issues are causing you the most concern at the moment? Stock availability, late deliveries and price hikes. Products are regularly if not always out of stock, deliveries take ages, and higher prices are resulting in lower margins. What’s the most surprising or unusual request you’ve received from a customer recently? ‘Do you sell blow-up dolls?’ and ‘Can you match Amazon prices?’ - that was the worst one ever! What’s your personal favourite toy and game in your store? I love Kapla planks, Tonies Box, Perudo and Brainbo! games, and Recent Toys brainteaser toys. What’s on your counter? I've got the newest Tonies, I SPY Travel! card games - and a massive mug of coffee.

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momentum This month Clare Turner talks to Michael Hick, Vice President and Country Manager for leading toy company Mattel UK What’s your background? Toys, toys, and more toys! I started at Mattel in 2008 as a senior account manager and find it incredibly inspiring working for this company with its thriving power brands. I’ve only ever been in the toy industry, and I absolutely love it.

We are working hard to navigate challenges with the global supply chain

Tell us a bit about your company. Mattel is an amazing, dynamic IPdriven toy company with a rich history and one of the strongest catalogues of children’s and family entertainment franchises in the world. We create products and experiences that inspire, entertain, and develop children through play. We engage consumers through our portfolio of iconic brands, including Barbie, Hot Wheels, Fisher-Price, Thomas & Friends, UNO, Scrabble and MEGA, as well as other popular intellectual properties that we own or license in partnership with global


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entertainment companies. We also have a franchise operation that includes film and television content, gaming, music, and live events.

What changes have you made in light of the restrictions that Covid has created? We have had to be more agile as well as working even closer with our retailer partners as things have continually changed for them. We have also got closer to consumer trends and buying patterns as we have all been navigating uncharted waters. Speed has been key to keeping ahead and evolving as market dynamics require. But hopefully we won’t ever have to repeat the past 18 months in our careers! We really did see the highs, the lows and everything in between. Existing trends such as online shopping, rising VOD [Video on Demand] consumption and the changing role of the high street fast-forwarded five years in this period. For us as a commercial team, it was fascinating to see just how quickly Mattel could transition

and adapt to ever-changing shopper, consumer and retailer demands. Despite the turbulence, Mattel’s performance is hugely impressive, and the team is both pleased and proud about the position the company is in.

What opportunities has the pandemic created? Consumers have turned to toys during the pandemic and, as we have seen from the overall industry results, parents have re-established the value that toys have for children. I think the biggest opportunity really is that Covid has brought families together. We’ve been inside and had to homeschool together so that’s been a great opportunity for the toy industry, because we had high demands on toys from families wanting to play games. Now we must ask how do we, as an industry, keep that demand there as the world opens up?

How much of your workforce has been working from home and what challenges does this present? Our first concern is the health of our consumers, partners, employees and their families. We were quite lucky that 02/09/2021 17:42

most of the team were already well set up to work from home. But what we had to do was be much more agile in the way that we worked, and get even closer to our retailers, because obviously the Covid restrictions brought many changes in behaviours. So, looking at consumer trends, buying patterns, and navigating the highs and the lows. I think on the whole being agile and working quickly to try and keep up with those constant changes were the key things that we had to do.

Do you see these working arrangements continuing after lockdown? We have been listening to our employees throughout to understand what works for them. I have been so impressed with how everyone has coped with all the changes and that we have continued to drive the business as successfully as we have. But we will take the return to the office gradually, as always, following local guidelines and protocols, as we learn to understand what living with this pandemic really means in the long term.

Apart from Covid, what’s the biggest challenge and opportunity now facing toy retailers? We are working hard to navigate challenges with the global supply chain. But we do see our supply chain as a competitive advantage. We feel that we have the capabilities and the scale to continue to meet these challenges working collaboratively with our retail partners to meet the strong consumer

SEPTEMBER 2021 The Big Interview Mattelnm.indd 2

demand for our product. I would say that we still foresee continuing supply chain challenges for the rest of the year, but we have factored them into our plans. Of course, there could still be unanticipated supply chain challenges, and it’s hard to tell what the future may hold, but we have proven that we have the ability to manage through major disruptions, as was the case during the pandemic last year. We are in this together - we face the same challenges as our retailers - and it’s by working in partnership with them that we can work through both the challenges and opportunities to find joint solutions.

The toy industry is very resilient and has actually had some of its best years through the toughest economic times

With increased costs of production and shipping, how is the company managing this going forward? There is cost pressure and I think there will be some level of inflation so, we’re working hard with our retailers and these pricing actions will be implemented in the second half of the year.

With the shops reopened, are things settling down? That’s the big question, isn’t it? With more

bricks-and-mortar stores opening and consumers returning to in-person shopping experiences, this is a benefit given our omnichannel presence. But as bricks-and-mortar improved, ecommerce declined slightly but still remains high as consumers enjoy the convenience that online brings, but are also enjoying the fact that retail is open... ‘Retail therapy’ is a term for a reason, right?

How do you see the company developing over the next 12 months? Our tremendous momentum continues with growth in our three power brands, Barbie, Hot Wheels, and Fisher-Price and Thomas & Friends. This is an exciting time for Mattel. Having successfully completed the heavy lifting of the transformation over the past three years, we are now in growth mode and establishing Mattel as an IP-driven, high-performing toy company.

What brands are you most excited about in the run-up to Christmas? All our big core brands are doing fabulously well: Barbie, Hot Wheels, FisherPrice, Thomas, and MEGA. As we unlocked stores, Hot Wheels - because it’s so heavily driven by the die-cast business – went phenomenally well, as did Thomas die-cast. And action figures, which again is much


02/09/2021 17:42


more of an impulse type of category: when stores opened up, we saw fabulous performances from Jurassic World, WWE, and all of our Disney portfolio action figures. We’re really excited about some of our new launches. We’ve just launched My Garden Baby, which is us entering into that space for the first time, as well as Spirit, which we’ve partnered with Universal on. So, we’ve got a great launch there, and the movie is just rolling out, so we’re excited about that. Then there’s Masters of the Universe, which went into the Netflix Top 10 in its first week in the UK, which is pretty remarkable so I’m excited about the toy portfolio and how it’s going to perform off the back of that. I watched it back-to-back with my daughter and it’s amazing! I won’t spoil the storyline but it’s definitely not the series you’d expect!

Any more launches or campaigns we can look forward to? We have the exciting launch of He Man and the Masters of the Universe coming to Netflix globally on Sept 16. This CGanimated series reimagines the thrilling heroic adventures of the Guardians of Grayskull for this next generation of fans! We’re also quite proud of Mattel Playback, our new toy takeback programme designed to recover and reuse materials from old Mattel toys. Last year, Mattel introduced several toys as part of its goal to achieve 100% recycled, recyclable or bio-based plastic materials across all products and packaging by 2030 including the Fisher-Price Rock-a-Stack and FisherPrice Baby’s First Blocks made from bio-based plastics, three MEGA Bloks sets made from bio-based plastics, and UNO Nothin’ But Paper: the first fully recyclable UNO deck without cellophane packing material. In May 2021 Mattel also announced Drive Toward a Better Future, its product roadmap to make all Matchbox die-cast cars, playsets and packaging with 100% recycled, recyclable or bio-based plastic


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materials by 2030. The Barbie Loves the Ocean programme is also one of many launches supporting Mattel’s corporate goal to use 100% recycled, recyclable or bio-based plastics materials in all products and packaging. Plus, we have 13 live-action movies in development as well as 18 television shows and specials in production and 24 in development.

skilled job than it probably was when I first started.

Tell us about your views on the economy and how you think this will affect the industry. The toy industry is very resilient and has actually had some of its best years through the toughest economic times. So, linking the macro economy ups and downs to the toy industry is often not relevant.

During your time in the toy industry, which retailers have impressed you most and why? All of them. They have all had different challenges to overcome during these times, and they’ve all had to adapt quickly to the macro and shopper changes. Through the pandemic, I’ve been unbelievably impressed by how agile retailers have been and how fast they moved, from bricks retailers that suddenly had to adapt to not having stores open and went rapidly online and I’m talking from your local toy shop all the way up - to online partners who had to react to high levels of demands that went astronomical within days.

What’s your earliest memory of your toy career?

Through the pandemic, I’ve been unbelievably impressed by how agile retailers have been and how fast they moved

What’s the biggest change you’ve seen since you joined the toy industry? I would say the digital part for me. When I first started, marketing was pretty much the TV channels - and back then it was five TV channels and a couple of those you couldn’t advertise on. So, that move of very high audience penetration of content that kids are watching to now being very linear and spread out with YouTube, VOD and so on. As a marketeer, it’s a much harder and highly

My favourite earliest memory is going to Moons Toy Store in Newmarket and getting my first £1,000 order. The biggest buzz I’ve ever had was getting back into my car and realising what had just happened! At that time Moons was run by a lovely lady called Val Stedham who is a bit of a legend in the industry - I learned a lot from her in my early years in sales.

What do you miss from the early days? The industry legends! They have taught me so much. I owe a lot to many of those individuals.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job? For me, I love leading my team. I’d hope they would say I’m a very empathetic leader. And that’s what gets me out of bed. My team are the experts in product and bringing that product to life. I get motivated when I build high-performing teams and making it all click. That’s the bit that really drives me - the people and making sure I keep the team highly motivated and inspired. One of my favourite quotes is: ‘A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.’

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the toy industry? Be honest and trustworthy. This industry is about relationships, and many of us move to different roles within it, so those elationships are extremely important. 02/09/2021 17:42



Full steam ahead Time to mark 2-6 February in your diary, because preparations are well underway for Spielwarenmesse 2022. TnP caught up with Christian Ulrich, spokesperson of the executive board at Spielwarenmesse eG, to learn why they felt it was so important for the international toy fair to proceed, and how they will ensure the event runs as safely as possible After a challenging year, it’s great news that Spielwarenmesse is going ahead. What protocols are you implementing to ensure it’s a safe show for visitors and exhibitors?

of registrations just fractionally below the level that we had achieved by the same point in 2020. At the last Spielwarenmesse, 2,843 companies from 70 different countries were represented.

Along with the relevant authorities, we have already put together a wide-ranging hygiene policy and are continuously updating it to meet the pandemic situation. It includes regular disinfection of frequently used surfaces, modern ventilation systems in the halls, and an elaborate concept for the spaces and eating areas. All the current protective measures that apply to everyday life will also apply at the Exhibition Centre: wearing facemasks, keeping to the social distancing rules and the recommendation to wash hands regularly. This is how we can ensure the safety of those attending the fair. Our package of measures includes extensive precautions. Besides which, we are able to draw on many years’ experience of visitor management, and with the enormous hall space we can guarantee the required social distancing. Everyone entering the event area will have to register in advance so we can ensure seamless contact tracing.

Will any new categories be showcased at the event?

How many exhibitors do you expect to participate at the fair? We are very satisfied with the current level of registrations. It underlines once again the international importance of Spielwarenmesse. To date, over 1,600 exhibitors have registered from 59 different countries, including many of the key players. This puts the number

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Nowhere else in the world is there a bigger meeting of people with a passion for toys and games

Yes, visitors and exhibitors can look forward to several innovations at the fair. They include, for example, the Area for Service Providers in Hall 3A. This is where not only testing institutes but also suppliers from the fields of packaging, EPOS systems, and marketing services, will be exhibiting. But at the same time, we have kept the classic elements, such as the hall layouts and product group categories, which are important tools for visitor orientation. Similarly, the popular Tech2Play activity area will be there again, setting the scene for innovations from the electronic toy sector. Another highlight will be the reworked presentation of product innovations. And for those who want to keep up with the latest industry developments and trends, the Toy Business Forum with its informative presentations will be the place to go.

What other changes can exhibitors and visitors look forward to? In all our discussions, the needs of exhibitors and visitors have been paramount. What do people want from the exhibition? They want to expand their business contacts and relationships, discover new products and trends - and do all of that in a unique environment. So, it’s precisely those points that we want to emphasise: the efficient ways of doing business and the nature of the experience.

Our focus continues to be on the unmissable business platform offered by the live event, but we will be supplementing the on-site trade fair with a virtual component: Spielwarenmesse Digital. This will not only give exhibitors some brand new presentation opportunities but will also help retailers and buyers to organise their visit and their networking. It means that both target groups can take advantage of Spielwarenmesse’s huge reach.

What excites you most about Spielwarenmesse 2022? As the leading trade fair, Spielwarenmesse continues to be the most important meeting point for the international industry. Nowhere else in the world is there a bigger meeting of people with a passion for toys and games. Meeting up in person, trying out and getting your hands on products there will never be a digital substitute for those things. At the ideal time for placing orders, all the key decision-makers get together at the Exhibition Centre. The mix of well-known brands and new start-ups provides a uniquely varied range. Suppliers drive forward their international agenda in Nuremberg, while retailers put together their range of goods on the basis of current trends. A comprehensive range of services, a stimulating set of special areas, and a logical hall structure are among the factors that make for a successful visit. What we are most looking forward to is being able to welcome the industry back to Nuremberg. We’ve all been longing for personal contact and being able to meet up in one place. After nearly two years of virtual meetings, Spielwarenmesse offers the ideal environment for seeing one another again in real life.


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Trade talk

Calling all suppliers and distributors! We’d love to hear your views. Get in touch with to have your say!

This month we ask suppliers what challenges they are facing, how they will continue to ensure demand for their products, and what marketing activity they are planning for Q4 MAYUR PATTNI


Marketing Manager Simba Smoby Toys UK What’s been your proudest achievement over the past few months?

On a personal note getting married at the end of spring is definitely my proudest achievement of the year, especially after a few lockdown postponements! But on the business side, growing the overall profile of the Simba and Smoby brands is definitely a highlight. The “It’s our customer awareness and loyalty for Smoby, for example, is at an all-time high and has greatest once again grown year-on-year. This has marketing also been reflected at the tills and at retail investment overall, with many new retail customers yet for a Q4 being added this year for the brand. What currently poses the biggest challenge?


As we all know, everyone in the industry has a huge challenge with shipping at the moment. With us, there are some challenges with a few of our brands but we have been able to overcome many. With Smoby for instance, much of the inventory comes from Europe. There are some increases in transport costs but not nearly as much as some companies are experiencing. This has been reflected in onward cost for our retailers who can also be confident of supply due to the closer origins of the products. How will you continue to ensure demand for your products?

The key for us will be to continue with our investment, not just in TV but in social and digital media too. Smoby has its own platforms, but all of the other brands have a robust strategy behind them too. We are reaping the rewards of this, which in turn allows us to invest more. What marketing activity can we expect for Q4?

Smoby, and Masha and the Bear all have robust TV and pre-roll activity, while our new construction raceway brand FleXtreme is also high on the agenda,ensuring these brands are top of mind with the consumer especially in the run-up to Christmas. The Toy Story and Cars diecast ranges will have their own campaigns targeting core Disney fans though digital, TV and VoD. I would say it’s our greatest marketing investment yet for a Q4 season, and when you add to this the strength of the PR and social activity we have going on, there’s certainly a lot to look forward to. 24

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Head of Marketing & Product Development Ravensburger What’s been your proudest achievement over the past few months? In January, we were recognised as a standout performer in the games and puzzle category by the Toy Retailers Association (TRA) as part of the annual Toy of the Year awards, and we were absolutely thrilled. This was made possible by our passionate and dedicated team who have worked exceptionally hard over the past 18 months, our valued trade partners, and loyal endusers. We also moved office during lockdown and are excited to welcome our team back to a brand-new refurbished office; we can’t wait to invite our retail partners into our “Our new state-of-the art showroom to see our new ranges. ‘consumer What currently poses the biggest challenge?


Over the past 18 months we’ve really missed approach previews and the opportunity to get products is at the into the hands of our retailer customers. We heart of are so excited to be showcasing again faceto-face at the AIS show and the Toymaster everything regional meetings. The same goes with our we do” consumers, where events and in-store demos play a key part within our marketing activities. We’ve been working on a host of online assets but there is nothing quite like hands-on play. How will you continue to ensure demand for your products? Our ‘consumer first’ approach is at the heart of everything we do. We continue to invest heavily in consumer research to create games, puzzles, playsets, arts & crafts, and construction products which will be played with time and time again, offering longevity and sustainability. We are working hard to ensure our retail partners have support in planning their inventory, backed with the breadth of range to support demand. Many will be supported with marketing programmes focusing on digital, coupled with in-store displays and events where possible. What marketing activity can we expect for Q4? We have content-rich marketing plans supporting many of our categories with 360 marketing. We are investing significantly in the games category, highlighting launches such as #UpsideDownChallenge game and Cat and Mouse and classic favourites like Labyrinth and Funny Bunny. We will be working hard to keep puzzling top of mind, with both 2D and our 3D puzzles receiving extensive support through TV, digital, influencer, PR, and print campaigns. BRIO’s always on-trend marketing approach, led by the BRIO World Railway, will ramp up through Q4, and also focus on the technology-led Smart Tech Sound and a beautiful new Disney Princess Castle. CreArt, a high-quality paint-by-numbers range, is a brandnew addition to our portfolio, and we’ll back this with digital, PR and influencer activity. Our GraviTrax construction brand will also be supported with a host of high-profile marketing activities, targeted with advertising through TikTok, Pinterest and Snapchat. To summarise, we’ve got a very busy Q4 of marketing activity ahead of us!



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KATE GIBSON Managing Director Gibsons

Secondly, coming out of the pandemic; a time in history that has had a huge impact on everyone - on the morale and mental health of us all. How will you continue to ensure demand for your products?

We will continue to innovate in our category but also to listen to what our customers are telling us. Gibsons’ mission is to bring people together. The more we understand what our customers want, the more we can tap into this and ensure we fulfil our mission and their Managing our company through a expectations of our brand. Providing an excellent period of huge change and growth service to our customers is hugely and ensuring we are set up for important; meeting their needs and the future. When I look back on resolving any concerns quickly is where we were 18 months ago, so much has changed and we have paramount in ensuring they stay so much to be proud of, as well as a great team to take us forward! loyal. We get many letters and emails Strong results in 2020 allowed us to make significant congratulating our “Providing an charitable donations at the end of our financial team on the service year, which is an important part of who we are as a they provide. excellent service company. Winning a Gift of the Year award for our What marketing activity to our customers Rainbow Heroes and Advent calendar puzzles was a can we expect for Q4? is hugely proud moment too. We’ve launched some fantastic We have plenty going important to us” products this year. on, not least our What currently poses the biggest challenge? Christmas in July event and working There are probably two key areas. The first is the ever-increasing with our PR company to ensure our costs we are experiencing whether it be raw materials or shipping. products reach the right audiences, Sadly, we don’t have a crystal ball, so navigating this is challenging at in particular our Christmas Advent what is undeniably a difficult time for everyone. Calendar jigsaw puzzle. What’s been your proudest achievement over the past few months?

HANNAH CORNISH Account Manager for the South and Ireland Big Potato Games What’s been your proudest achievement over the past few months? Personally, it’s been working with my indie retailers and the Great Board Game Trade In, which is an initiative we ran throughout July and August. We offered customers the chance to bring in any old board game, which was then recycled to a charity or community centre and the customer got 20% off. After such a hard year for our retailers, it was great to be able to work with them giving something back to “A lot of the community.

our smaller retailers are understandably worried about another lockdown… so we want to help support them as best we can”

What currently poses the biggest challenge? The biggest challenge is coming out of the pandemic and hopefully staying out of it! A lot of our smaller retailers are understandably worried about another lockdown and being sat on too much stock again during their busiest times, so we want to help support them as best we can. How will you continue to ensure demand for your products?

We have an amazing team of people at Big Potato and some super creative people that are coming up with new ideas all the time. Our boxes really stand out on the shelves and the game play is quick and easy to pick up, so they appeal to almost everyone. We have lots of exciting firsts coming out this year, including our puzzles and action adventure board game What Next? We also have another great licence coming out - Mean Girls the Party Game - which we are super excited about! What marketing activity can we expect for Q4? With in-person events still mostly off the calendar for the rest of 2021, we are continuing to look at new and exciting ways to showcase Big Potato. Expect more online quizzes, videos and even our very first gameshow.

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PHIL RATCLIFFE Joint Managing Director MV Sports & Leisure What’s been your proudest achievement over the past few months? Being part of a strong team, which has seen the company successfully navigate one of the most turbulent periods I can remember. What currently poses the biggest challenge? Freight rates, increasing costs, and availability of containers. Everyone is facing the same supply chain problems at the moment.

“We are on a mission to enhance our online content and increase our social media presence”

How will you continue to ensure demand for your products?

Demand for our products is surging and most brands/licences are in growth. It’s not necessarily about ensuring demand, as opposed to managing expectations. What marketing activity can we expect for Q4? We are on a mission to enhance our online content and increase our social media presence. We also have a few additional plans up our sleeve for later in the year.


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General Manager UK – Sales & Marketing Spin Master What’s been your proudest achievement over the past few months? It’s been a really exciting time for Spin Master, especially with the launch of the PAW Patrol Movie driving lots of excitement around the brand, and “We will we’ve launched a continue to number of brilliant over-invest in products including our brands” The Ultimate City Movie Tower and Total City Rescue Playset. For A/W, we’ve had a number of proud moments including the relaunch of brands such as Zoobles and big wins of licences such as Wizarding World and Batman. What currently poses the biggest challenge? There are continued industry-wide challenges coming from the lasting impacts of the Covid pandemic including shipping costs and delays and container shortages. This is on top of the soaring raw material cost increases that we are all having to face, which undoubtedly is going to create price inflation for the first time in several years. How will you continue to ensure demand for your products?  Spin Master has several licence brands that we have won over the past year which come with strong fan bases that ensure a continuing demand for our products. We will also continue to over-invest in our brands and back up products with strong marketing plans in the lead up to Christmas. What marketing activity can we expect for Q4? For the rest of the year, we will continue to support our brands with a range of marketing activity including TV, digital and social. We will also continue to increase our brand visibility in store as more customers return to shops.


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Hobby & Independent Channel Director Asmodee UK

What’s been your proudest achievement over the past few months? Can I have two? Firstly, the inspirational effort of all the teams across the business to successfully meet the exceptional demand for the Pokémon Trading Card Game - thanks to the Pokémon Company for their support too! Secondly, how the team has adapted to hybrid working through the twists and turns of the pandemic.

What currently poses the biggest challenge? In the wake of Brexit, the supply chain continues to be a challenge. But we anticipated this and have worked hard to mitigate the effects.

How will you continue to ensure demand for your products?  James Arnold, a super-talented marketeer, has joined us as head of marketing, so watch this space for some very exciting campaigns!

“The supply chain continues to be a challenge. But we anticipated this and have worked hard to mitigate the effects”

What marketing activity can we expect for Q4? There's a lot to come for both nationals and indies. Particularly exciting is a major new sponsorship deal with CITV, while our newly launched Retailer Reward Scheme sees us step up our support of our customers even further.

NICKY THOMAS-DAVIES Board Game Sales and Marketing Manager Thames & Kosmos What has been your proudest achievement over the past few months? Weathering the pandemic storm and keeping our staff safe and socially distanced by closing our store and repurposing it as an office. And being nominated for Spiel des Jahres, the biggest award in board gaming, for The Adventures of Robin Hood! What currently poses the biggest challenge? We have not raised our prices over the past five years despite an astronomical increase in shipping costs. Working through our backlog of game production post-lockdown has been a challenge, as well as difficulty in getting the items shipped to us. We don’t like delays but to some degree they seem to be unavoidable at the moment. How will you continue to ensure demand for your products? We have a wide range of games and are not pigeonholed into one particular genre; this helps us to ensure that we have something for everyone. We listen to our customers: a game of Andor for younger players? We can do that. Eco-friendly games? Yes, we are actively working towards that. Communication with our customers is key. What marketing activity can we expect for Q4? Following our successful stand at UK Games Expo, Autumn Fair and the Leisure, Toy and Gift Fair, we have a YouTube channel for our customers with playthroughs, short information videos and reviews of our games. In addition to targeted end-user advertising in print media, we also have a thriving social media presence on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook and we’re branching out into TikTok! Follow @ kosmosgamesuk for regular updates about our games (old and new), news from the company, and competitions and giveaways for end-users. 02/09/2021 17:47






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4` -PYZ[ ;YP :JVV[LYY 4` -PYZ[ ;YP PEPPA PIG and all related trademarks and characters TM & © 2003 Astley Baker Davies Ltd and/or Entertainment One UK Limited. HASBRO and all related logos and trademarksTM trademarks TM & © 2021 Hasbro. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission.

The future is bright!



Working well Theresa Gatton, head of category - kids & seasonal at value specialist retailer The Works talks about toys, trends and trading through the pandemic with TnP What’s your background? I started as a store manager for Partners The Stationers (now Ryman) in 1992, then moved over to a buyer’s role in 1995 responsible for kids’ arts & crafts. I have been a buyer for several different stationery companies, and my first stint at The Works was from 2003 until 2008. I joined Poundland as a senior buyer in 2008 until 2013, covering many different categories from stationery, clothing accessories and baby to homewares. I finally returned to The Works in 2013 and I’ve just completed eight years of service. Throughout my buying career, I have always been involved in kids’ arts & crafts, and then toys for the last eight years.

Tell us a bit about The Works. Headquartered in Coleshill, near Birmingham, The Works is a leading retailer of value

Guess what…

gifts, arts, crafts, toys, books, and stationery. With 527 stores (typically sized 2,000sq ft) nationwide on high streets, in retail parks and shopping centres, and as concessions in various locations - and a fully functioning website - our mission is to offer customers a unique and enjoyable shopping experience, built on core principles of value, variety and quality.

We pride ourselves on always being the first to market on trends and constantly changing our ranges to ensure our stores are fun and exciting to shop

How would you describe your toys and games range? It’s an all-year round exciting product offering, suitable for children aged from 0 to 12, at affordable pricing. Our strapline is: ‘What Will You Discover’ we are always first to market with new trends. Our key categories are kids’ books, arts & crafts, jigsaws, educational, toys & games and outdoor toys. We specialise in our own brands such as Make & Create, Corner Piece & Out 2 Play, along with licensed products such as Disney, Peppa Pig, CoComelon, Thomas, L.O.L. and many more. We

Only a small proportion of The Works’ product lines are permanent, with the majority changing on a regular basis to match consumer tastes and trends. Regular ‘newness’ refreshes The Works’ product offering - about 400 core SKUs with more than 10,000 new lines are introduced each year 28

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also buy branded clearance lines that include many different brands. We deal with hundreds of suppliers from direct factory sourcing, clearance companies, key book publishers, licensed and specialist toy importers.

How do you find products? Trade shows, Far East travel, strong supplier relationships, and proactive trend spotting through social media [platforms] such as Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.

What's your selection criteria? Based on where it sits with our current product offering, quality, and affordable pricing. We have a strict auditing and safety testing process which we work to. Another major part in our selection process is working hard with our suppliers to ensure we are not creating any unnecessary waste packaging, even if it means the item is much smaller in size. Our customers are savvy shoppers and are no longer satisfied with boxes of fresh air and plastic. Our ‘ReWorked’ logo clearly lets our customers know where we have made a significant change to minimise waste packaging.

What are your current best sellers? Fidget frenzy is here to stay for a while! Our current best sellers are the 02/09/2021 17:48

Did you know? The Works has four ‘zones’ of products for customers to explore:

latest fidget trends such as Pop ‘N’ Flip and stress related toys. [The Pop ‘N’ Flip Bubble Popping Fidget Game is described as ‘a cool and innovative way to help you stop fidgeting and try to destress whilst having fun: start popping and simply flip it over to carry on popping’.] Some strong licensed toys are also starting to come through, such as CoComelon.

How is trading for you? Trade is very good this year and has got off to a great start since the stores came out of lockdown. Our website continues to grow from strength to strength and has opened up more opportunities to more branded and higher price point lines.

What do you offer that other retailers don’t? ‘What Will You Discover’ is what sets us apart. Our product offering is never stagnant and always offers ‘newness’ every week for our customers. We pride ourselves on always being the first to market on trends and constantly changing our ranges to ensure our stores are fun and exciting to shop.

■ The Kids zone offers a range of kids' favourites, from the latest crazes to books, toys, jigsaws, and big brand games. It also features an education range supporting children's development. ■ The Arts, Crafts and Hobbies zone comprises a wide selection of paints, brushes, art sets, paper, canvas, and craft kits that cater for the needs of beginners to experts, alongside a complementary book offer. ■ The Stationery zone includes high-quality fashion notebooks, writing sets, storage boxes and address books, all under the company’s own brand, Paper Place. These sit alongside its big brands offer such as Bic, Helix, Xerox and Pukka. Its Scribblicious range includes trendy pens, pencils, pencil cases, and storage solutions suitable for all ages. ■ The Family Gifts zone comprises a selection of books, from best-selling fiction paperbacks to the latest in non-fiction publishing, supported by a range of jigsaws, and fun and quirky gifts including Its own range of helium balloons, fill your own hampers and bespoke eco-friendly bags for life.

What techniques do you use to target new customers and maintain the interest of existing ones? We target new customers through social media, our ‘Together’ loyalty scheme [one of the first of its kind in the value retail sector], working with affiliates, and through our shop windows, which feature strong promotional messaging and exciting products.

Where are you taking the business next? We are working on a number of key projects, including an extended website product offering, which gives us a greater opportunity to range higher price points and larger toys that we are unable to stock in the stores.

These core zones are supplemented with seasonal offerings, with products for Mother's Day, Easter, Summer Fun, Back To School and Christmas.

Where do you derive the most satisfaction and face the biggest challenges? The most satisfaction is seeing the product ranging in-store and selling. Our store teams are

40 years of milestones 1981

Founded as Remainders Limited, a discount bookstore


Acquired by Endless LLP, setting the foundation for future growth

2011 2012 2013 2015

Kevin Keaney appointed as CEO New ecommerce platform launched The ‘Together’ loyalty card scheme launched Dean Hoyle, founder of Card Factory, invests in the business and is appointed as chairman. Launched Click and Collect service

2016 2017

Reached one million members for loyalty scheme


Gavin Peck appointed as CFO. Listed on the London Stock Exchange


Opened 500th store in the UK

Opened a new HQ and a national distribution centre in Sutton Coldfield. Opened 400th store in the UK

SEPTEMBER 2021 Retail Interview The Worksnm.indd 2

so engaged and enthusiastic and really get behind the product and this is what makes The Works special. The biggest challenge at the moment is the same as for every other retailer - inflated freight costs and delays that are taken out of our hands. It’s been a difficult trading period for us all, and we are now facing some of the biggest challenges we have ever experienced.

Where do you perceive the greatest opportunities? There are so many opportunities for The Works and with our team members, anything is possible. The Works is a truly special retailer with some of the most passionate, engaged, caring, team spirit, that I have ever had the privilege to work for.

What’s your favourite toy or game? This is such a difficult question to answer as a good buyer always loves all their products. My current favourite is our Build Your Own Den that children can build along with their parents, and then retreat into and get involved in roleplay. [The 75-piece set comprises 50 building poles for building large structures and 25 connectors for quick and easy assembly. Users simply cover with a thin sheet (not included) to create their own unique den].


02/09/2021 17:48

WHAT’S N Festive treats Orchard Toys 01953 859520 |

For budding DIYers JANOD

020 8878 2133 With a double-sided, curved wood design, The multi-activity Bicro’Kids Reversible Work Bench includes two wooden cars, three magnetic tools, six planks and nails and eight screws with eight nuts. For an extra level of detail, there is also an interactive vice and gears. One side of the bench holds the tools and accessories and the back of the bench reveals a track of bumps and slopes for the cars. Plus, the FSC certified wooden Brico’Kids Drill is the perfect toy for budding DIY enthusiasts. With a realistic mechanical system, the central part rotates to ‘select’ the type of drilling - almost like the real thing. Suitable for kids aged three yearsplus, toddlers can have endless moments of creative play, fixing and making whatever their imagination can create.

2020 saw a soft launch of Orchard Toys’ Christmas Eve Box, which was met with exponential demand reflecting the huge customer appetite for seasonal products. Now back for a full product launch supported by a PR and marketing campaign, the product is a great advent or Christmas Day gift for children aged from three to six. It features not only a festive-themed shopping list style game but also a 20-piece jigsaw puzzle. Pigs in Blankets is a new addition to the mini game range. Players collect piggy pairs in this hilarious matching game.

Let’s race and run FIESTA CRAFTS 020 8804 0563 | Recommended by The Good Toy Guide, the Discover the World game from Fiesta Crafts is a race around the world that’s fun for the whole family. The board game educates while it entertains, and players can learn facts about different cultures and continents thanks to 50 destination fact cards. The game itself features a map of the world so children (and adults) can learn the geography of different countries. Using arrival and journey cards to either help or hinder their journey, players must make it to 10 destinations first to win the game. Meanwhile, Maze Kraze is more than just a STEM puzzle, it’s also a magnetic 3D marble run too. It combines the fun of marbles with the satisfaction of solving puzzles.

Bring on the Glitter Babyz! MGA Entertainment 0800 521 558 The launch of Glitter Babyz introduces Dreamia Stardust, January Snowflake, Lila Wildbloom and Solana Sunburst to nurture doll lovers aged three-plus. These 24cm tall babies have head sculpts, big eyes, sparkles on their eyelashes and glitter in their hair. With four themes and colour schemes to collect, each character has a unique personality expressed within their style for little ones to discover and adopt. The new brand focuses on developing nurturing play patterns by encouraging fans to keep their doll’s magic alive and sparkling through feeding them a bottle, changing their nappies, giving them a bath and laying them down for nap time. 30

What's New.indd 2

03/09/2021 07:55

NEW Game on! Thames & Kosmos 01580713000 The Lost Spells Card Game will be heading into stores in time for Christmas. Based on the bestselling book of the same name, this easy to learn game is a followup to The Lost Words Card Game. In keeping with its natural theme, the Lost Spells Card Game contains no shrink wrap on the cover or cards. This is part of Thames & Kosmos’ move towards more eco-friendly production techniques. The game contains a selection of poems by Rob Macfarlane which the player tries to pair with the matching artwork by Jackie Morris. Action cards can foil your plans however - and watch out for the Foxy card who steals in and lets your opponent take your card from in front of you!

Up and away!

On the move MV Sports & Leisure 01217 488000 MV Sports are delighted to present a new look for Disney Princess, with bright, bold colours and character favourites, such as Cinderella, Rapunzel, Ariel and more. The Disney Princess 2-in-1 10in Training Bike converts from a training bike to a balance bike with freewheel, stabiliser and pedal functions for building confidence, co-ordination, and core balance skills. Or turn up the fun with the refreshed Barbie 14in Bike, featuring character graphics, empowering slogans, a heart-shaped plaque, a doll carrier and bright, bold colours. Features include 14in spoked wheels and pneumatic tyres, while the front and rear calliper brakes and fully enclosed printed chainguard provide extra safety. The new Hey Duggee Tri-Scooter comes with a colourful character plaque and fully printed antislip footplate. It is suitable for a range of ages with adjustable handlebar height and comfort moulded handlebar grips. The three deep-tread wheels provide extra stability, while the soft puncture-proof tyres add additional comfort. The Li-Fe 350-HC takes electric lithium scooters to the next level. The 350W motor takes care of pushing you along at up to 25km/h, but the real showstopper is its maple wood deck, IP55 ingress rating, USB charger and puncture-proof honeycomb tyres. For the younger enthusiast, the 120 Pro Kids E-Scooter features a 120W motor, thumb throttle, push start and LED display redolent of many older adult oriented models. Meanwhile, Brandalised Presents Banksy’s Graffiti products are the coolest on the streets. The Flower Bomber skateboard comes with a maple deck and graphics and sports a concave double kicktail and responsive trucks.

Bruder 00353 6763800 | Distributor in UK: Alpha Toys Ltd Linde HT models are fast and economical when handling heavy loads. New at Bruder, the Linde HT160 Forklift with pallet and three pallet cages is a detailed model in the commercial vehiclethemed world. The original model features a 16-tonne load capacity, a lifting height of four metres and state-of-the-art displays in the driver’s cab. The Bruder model is equal in every detail. The modern cab is fully glazed and provides an optional bworld figure with excellent all-round visibility. The stacker is equipped with a double-lift mast, the lifting and tilting function of which can be operated with one hand. The model has easy-to-operate steering that enables children to manoeuvre in the tightest of spaces, just like the original.

SEPTEMBER 2021 What's New.indd 3


02/09/2021 17:50


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Contact Wilton Bradley 01626 835400

Sweet treats Tamba say s:

“We can pre tend to sell ice cre am and pay wit h mum’s mon ey!”

Little ones can pretend to scoop ice cream in this Ice Cream Truck, before serving their creations from the serving hatch. With an internal kitchen space featuring a slide-top fridge, this food van includes several different accessories.

Mum Amber says: “This is a well-made solid product, which was easy for my partner to put together, thanks to the simple instructions and clearly numbered parts. It’s bright and colourful, and the serving window, blackboard menu and slide-top fridge are great features. There are also shelves, which means kids can add more toys to play with inside - and it even comes with pretend ice cream to cut out and colour in. “My daughters Tamba (aged five) and True (aged seven) love to ‘pretend play’ for hours together in this Truck and their imagination is not limited to ice cream: they have become budding shopkeepers, ‘selling’ and ‘buying’ other items using their own till and pretend money: there are currently packets of crisps lined up on the shelves!”


TnP Ambassador Wilton Bradleynm.indd 1 03/09/2021 10:49

For mini builders

Jonah says :

“I like makin The Make N Mend Workbench comes g things – I m complete with a pre-drilled peg board ade a for fitting tools. Described as the perfect clock” workstation for little craftspeople, it’s great for developing dexterity and hand/eye co-ordination. There is a circular saw and working vice, five tools (a hammer, spanner, screwdriver, set square and hand saw), brackets/nuts/bolts for constructing, a large blackboard, a storage shelf and peg holes for hammering. Dad Richard says: “The workbench is simple to assemble and has a really high-quality finish. Plus, the screws are all countersunk, and none of them are sharp so if one did come loose, it wouldn’t be a worry. It’s nice and sturdy when built, but light enough to move around easily and put away (which mummy thinks is important). It’s really bright and fun, and it’s clear what everything is and does - the tools look like tools and the moving parts work well. “My son Eli (aged three) likes tapping the tools and making sounds, while Jonah (aged seven) is more able to connect the components together - and then lets his imagination get going with his own little building company!”

Cooking up fun The Marvellous Mud Kitchen includes three stainless steel pans for cooking up a variety of mud pies using the utensils supplied. Just add water to the fitted sink and mix up some mud for pretend cooking fun. There is also a preparation area at the side and a storage tray above and below the sink, providing plenty of space for storing ingredients and utensils.

Blossom says:

“I like the pots : I put pretty flowers from the garden in them”

Dad Alex says: “From opening the box, my daughter Blossom (aged four) was able to get involved with this product. Assembly was very straightforward (one screwdriver required and holes pre-drilled) and the instructions were simple. Everything was clearly labelled in separate bags, which meant Blossom could assist with 'the build' which she liked. The design of the Kitchen is well thought out: it’s light but sturdy, which means it can be moved around to different areas of the garden easily and quickly as desired. “Blossom thinks it looks brilliant. And she is in awe of all the things she has to play with. The Kitchen comes with lots of accessories (so there is no need to buy any additional items) which gives Blossom endless options to play independently. She enjoys being able to take them off the ‘table’ and use them around the garden to collect items like flowers, and she is eager to show and 'cook' for relatives that visit.”

SEPTEMBER 2021 TnP Ambassador Wilton Bradleynm.indd 2


03/09/2021 10:49


‘All things kids’ TnP talks to James Hart, founder and CEO of KIDLY, which he describes as ‘an online store, selling everything modern shoppers need for the 0-5s in their lives’ What’s your background? I was the first employee at ASOS. I joined alongside the founders Nick Robertson and Quentin Griffiths. We worked together at their previous business, Entertainment Marketing. In 2013, I left to explore doing my own thing.

Tell us about KIDLY. KIDLY is an online store, selling everything modern shoppers need for the 0-5s in their lives. We sell only great-looking, welldesigned things that parents and kids actually need, and we make the shopping experience as effortless and helpful as possible.

People want greatlooking toys, sustainable materials and things their kids won’t get bored of in five minutes

Why and when did you launch your business? I was at ASOS for 15 years and I loved what we built: a one-stop, easy-to-use fashion shop, selling a trusted edit of the world’s best brands, plus our own label. So when I became a dad, I thought someone must be doing a similarly great edit of ‘all things kids’ - but they weren’t. I decided to do something about it and, in 2016, I launched KIDLY.

What is the ethos behind it? To us, a modern kids’ store means one built by people who are parents themselves or know kids well. We


Retail Interview Kidleynm.indd 1

want to stock only the best products not all the products: stuff the kids will love, but that you’ll love too. And I’ve always thought shopping should be a total pleasure - but when you’ve got young kids, often it’s not. So we bend over backwards to make it effortless, and it’s run with integrity by really friendly people. The genuinely lovely comments we get about our customer service and our Live Chat team makes me feel really proud.

What age range do you target? We cater for 0-5s at the moment but lots of our toys and games are openended, so they suit older kids too. We went for this age range as that’s the time that parents are choosing everything - after five, kids start to take over and know what they want a LOT more (I have three boys, so I know from experience!).

How would you describe your range? We scour the planet to bring the world’s best brands together in one place and we’ll only sell design-led and genuinely useful products. In fact, everything is tested by kids and approved by their parents before we sell it. We also sell our own range of clothes and toys and homewares [under our] KIDLY Label. It’s all created with almost

obsessive attention to detail, so the fit and the function are spot on. We’re design-led, not trend-led, so we do seasonal colours and launches, but we look at everything as a whole. We believe kids’ clothes should harmonise together, not shout or clash. It’s the same with their toys and homewares they need to look great in your home too. And because the KIDLY Label is exclusive to us there’s no middleman, so we can offer premium quality at high street prices.

What are your key toy categories? Modern parents are much more aesthetically-driven and environmentally conscious, so wooden toys are huge and there’s very little plastic in anything we sell. ‘Open-ended’ and Montessori toys are really big too, not because these are buzzwords but because it makes sense. Everyone wants to buy things that their kids are going to love for years and use in loads of different ways. It’s almost a return to our parents’ generation: when kids were more resourceful, you ‘made your own fun’ and imagination was at the centre of play. In short, people want greatlooking toys, sustainable materials and things their kids won’t get bored of in five minutes. 02/09/2021 17:54

How do you source toys? We’ve missed getting out to the fairs, but while we’re waiting for the world to open back up, we’ve been taking inspiration from everything around us. At KIDLY anyone - in any department - can make a product recommendation to the buying team, so we’ve got a constant flow of new toy suggestions coming through. And as many of us are parents, the ideas tend to be for things that our own kids have been enjoying, so they come road-tested from the very start. Also, of course, we listen closely to what our customers are saying - to make sure we’re stocking the stuff they want.

What’s your selection criteria? Toys are a big category for us, and we get data and feedback from our customers day in, day out, so we’re pretty good at working out what’s driving them - play appeal, looks, sustainability and price (of course!). So when we bring in a new toy brand, we don’t take everything on offer - we hand-pick the products that fit our guidelines on design, quality, price (all three boxes need to be ticked) and that complement our current range and the design handwriting of our own KIDLY Label. The great thing is, this could be a large brand or a small startup, from anywhere in the world. Our strapline - ‘Things For Kids You’ll Love Too’ - was inspired by my desire to create a store full of things that I’d love myself, either in an adult size, or to display in my house. I think a big trend now is towards these kinds of products, that are fun for the kids - of course - but that also reflect the parent’s style and identity. I like to think KIDLY has played a small role in this evolution and will continue doing so.


What are you most excited about for the upcoming season? Alongside the brands we curate, we also make KIDLY Label: quality, colourful must-haves for 0-5s. The range has been steadily growing for the past couple of years, but in 2021 we’ve launched some really exciting things - our Eco Swimwear Collection and our first nonclothing product: a Foldaway Bucket & Spade Set. As a business, we’re really doubling down on KIDLY Label and I’m excited about the areas we’re branching into - like toys, in time for Christmas. Watch this space.

■ KIDLY Label Foldaway Bucket and Spade Set ■ Haus Little Dutch Wooden Tea Set ■ Djeco Rainstick ■ Tomy Boon Pipes and Tubes and Cogs

Since non-essential shops reopened, have you noticed any changes in your customers’ online buying habits compared with the lockdown period? During lockdown, people set up their homes as temporary classrooms and their gardens as parks. So, as you’d imagine, we saw demand for homeschooling kit and garden supplies soar. However, unlike other retail sectors, kids never stop growing and needing new things, so we never experienced a dip in demand for everyday essentials. If anything, it only increased - as you couldn’t pop out to the shops to get them. Since restrictions have lifted, we’ve not seen a seismic shift in behaviour. Our customers are now buying for more days out but, with loads Everything of staycations on the agenda is tested by kids this summer, we still saw lots of interest in decking out and approved living spaces, bedrooms and by their parents gardens for fun playdates and before we get-togethers.

KIDLY celebrated its fifth birthday in May and marked the achievement with a charity donation and offers for customers. It pledged to donate 5% of sales from its birthday week to its charity partner Family Action’s Creating Happy Memories campaign, which inspires families to develop new skills and interests together to strengthen family bonds after the challenging last year. Alongside the charity donation, KIDLY offered deals on six brands throughout the week, including Little Dutch, Liewood, KIDLY Label and Kids Depot. Customers also enjoyed giveaways and interactive social media games, all with the aim of creating an online party feel. James Hart said: “Celebrating a fifth birthday is a fantastic milestone for any business, especially after such a turbulent year. The past 12 months have been tough for

Retail Interview Kidleynm.indd 2


■ Janod Colour Narwhy

sell it

Marking a milestone



many of us and our birthday felt like a great time to give something extra to customers and our charity partner, Family Action.” The donation is part of a wider initiative from KIDLY’s Family Fund: a charitable trust set up in 2020 that sits at the centre of all KIDLY’s fundraising activities. The Family Fund’s first campaign ran over Black Friday last November and earned £25,000 for two charities - Buttle UK and Home-Start - to help families adversely affected by Covid and lockdown. The money raised bought hard-up households toys and trampolines for gardens, laptops to help with homeschooling, plus Christmas groceries and gifts. Parents struggling with isolation were given muchneeded emotional support, either via Zoom calls, doorstep visits or permitted meet-ups in parks and playgrounds.

How do you compete with the likes of Amazon when it comes to toy sales? We don’t. Amazon is great and offers something we all need in terms of convenience, but KIDLY is different. We look at how all our ranges work together - so customers know what they’re going to get when they come to us: a signature of quality and style and usefulness. Plus we curate collections so that you can shop by age, by stage, by different gift categories, by ethical or ecological preference and seasonally. We put a lot of time and effort into helping guide our visitors through the site, so they’ll really enjoy exploring but always know where to find things - like you would in a brilliantly-merchandised department store - with informed and super-friendly help on hand, at the click of a button.

What’s next for KIDLY? We currently sell around 3,000 things, but we are only just scratching the surface in terms of being able to offer a choice across all price points and all categories for our customers buying for their 0-5s. Of course we will always be curating and will always parent-test all products, but we think the perfect collection will be around 10,000 things. So that’s what we are aiming for. At that point, we’d expect our own label to be around half of our range. While we get there, we’ll carry on striving to deliver the best service proposition and the most helpful team of any kids’ retailer.


02/09/2021 17:54



Big Potato Games

Ahead of

University Games

the game Puzzles and games have always been popular, and never more so than in the past 18 months. But as restrictions lift, what are suppliers doing to keep up the interest? TnP finds out...


hen you games and gifts We continue into our portfolio, succeed, as the games and to innovate and which helps provide puzzles arena depth and diversity as well release fresh did over lockdown, there is as a great range of dedicated jigsaw puzzle pressure to continue to keep Christmas lines including Christmasdesigns, as we that momentum going. So themed Games in a Tin. know our regular Along with a full complement of what are suppliers doing to ensure interest doesn’t wane? puzzlers expect new on-trend games, we have also Jack Probyn, UK retail this from us. Many introduced mindfulness games and manager at Winning Moves, people were new puzzles as well as new strategy says: “Fortunately, here at and Murder Mystery Case to the category games Winning Moves, we have an Files that can be played with just one during excellent licensing team who player or more.’’ lockdown and work tirelessly to get us the Thames & Kosmos has also best licences out there. And added to its offering. “We have discovered a with restrictions across the expanded our award-winning new hobby country having been lifted, range of Exit games to include and a real we can now expect to see the two Exit Jigsaw puzzle games love for backlog of hotly-anticipated offering the same mindmovie franchise releases hitting the brand bending riddles, but now with our cinema screens soon. All of an added jigsaw element. We Kate Gibson, this will help us keep up to date have also released an Gibsons, MD with the latest trends and keep Exit Advent calendar in the mind of the customer.’’ for Q4.’’ says Nicky A broad range is the key for Thomas-Davies, University Games and The Lagoon board game Group, as sales director Mark Jones sales and explains: “With The Lagoon Group marketing joining University Games, we have manager. welcomed a fantastic range of Big Potato


Feature Games & Puzzlesnm.indd 1


Games is diversifying to take advantage of that renewed interest, says Hannah Cornish, account manager for the South and Ireland: “We have some amazing new games for this year, and we are even stepping into jigsaw puzzles. We’ve just released our first-ever jigsaw puzzles with a fun game twist.’’

Fresh designs Gibsons is all about puzzles of course, but it is not sitting on its laurels either, as MD Kate Gibson explains: “We continue to innovate and release fresh jigsaw puzzle designs, as we know our regular puzzlers expect this from us. Many people were new to the category during lockdown and discovered a new hobby and a real love for the brand. The link with puzzles and sport has also been an interesting one to explore. Athletes are finding puzzles really beneficial in helping them relax and switch off between training sessions.’’ Meanwhile, Vivid Toy Group/Goliath is taking advantage of the fact that 02/09/2021 18:03

ersity es

families have learned to re-engage. “Last year, with the increased time spent together, families learned to re-engage and enjoy spending that time together, and what better way to do that than with a game?’’ says marketing manager Ben Hogg.

Family fun That family focus is key for Mookie Toys too, as international marketing manager Christina Aikman points out: “We have always looked to develop new games that are different and interesting with an element of interactivity, and our strategy hasn’t changed in that sense. We still want to focus our games around families having fun.’’ So with more of us enjoying family time, and with staycations on the cards for many of us this year and possibly going forward, has this changed the age range that companies focus on? Mookie Toys’ Christina continues: “We are launching a few games this year that are either targeted at teens and young adults, or have a broader age range by including elements that alter the difficulty level, ensuring all the family can get involved.’’

SEPTEMBER 2021 Feature Games & Puzzlesnm.indd 2

Ravensburger is also focusing on fun for the whole family: “For A/W we have 55 new puzzles alone, and dedicated marketing campaigns focused on the benefits of puzzling and drawing on the fact it brings families together, which we believe will be especially important this year, following the challenges of Christmas 2020,’’ says Katy Fletcher, head of marketing & product development. “What we are seeing is a distinct appetite for togetherness, which is what makes puzzling and playing games so appealing. Longevity of play is important to our customers, and the game extensions we provide mean they get played time and again.’’

Co-operative gaming Over at Thames & Kosmos, Nicky Thomas-Davies has found that “some of our slower-paced games have really taken off, as people look for co-operative rather than confrontational games.

Ask the retailers We asked: Amanda Alexander at Giddy Goat Toys, Didsbury, Manchester; Duncan Conner, at Bus Stop Toy Shop, Largs, Scotland; and Hazel McCarthy at Toy Corner, Galway, Ireland.

What brands do you stock in this category and which products are your best sellers? Amanda: Orchard Toys has been my ‘go to’ for games and puzzles since I opened nine years ago. They are perfect for children from 18 months to about eight years old. I also have a range of Hasbro games, and games from Big Potato Games, University Games and Cheatwell Games, while Dobble is a consistent best seller. I’ve just taken on Kidicraft as a new supplier as its 3D puzzles are great, and that’s extended the age range of my puzzle lines. Duncan: We have an eclectic range of board games in store - always at least 100 different games. In the lower price points, games like Fluxx do really well for us. In the big boxes, Ticket to Ride and Small World by Days of Wonder always sell well, as do other classics like Catan and Carcassonne. And of course, Pandemic by Z-Man Games has sold well this last year for some reason! Hazel: I stock adult puzzles from Ravensburger, Clementoni, Falcon (Jumbo/Galt), and children’s puzzles from Ravensburger, Orchard, Melissa & Doug and Jumini.


02/09/2021 18:03



A good example of this is The Lost Words card game based on the best-selling book of the same name, which will be joined by The Lost Spells card game later this year.”

Kids’ action games Ben Hogg at Vivid says the age range has not changed for them, as they cover “preschool/kids, family, party, or strategy. We are well established in kids’ action games but will not, for one second, be resting on our laurels and have a number of strong new releases including Beware of the Bear and Gobble Monster, as well as the return to the Goliath portfolio of perennial sellers Doggie Doo, Pop the Pig and Gooey Louie.’’

switch off from screens and take part in something mindful.’’ And there’s a family focus at University Games, too, says Mark Jones: “We have always had strong and competitive ranges in our preschool, children, family and adult categories, but one area we have focused on is the family games category, introducing lines that incorporate and keep teenagers interested, such as the on-trend Autocorrect, 5 Star Review, AntiMonopoly and Dumb Criminals.’’ With the sector garnering such a lot of interest, there’s clearly going to be plenty to look forward to. “With more than 700 games, puzzles and gifts in our combined University Games and Lagoon Group portfolio,

Games are very strong at the moment and we have a wide range. With summer holidays in full swing and lots of holidaymakers staying at campsites or on boats, games are keeping them entertained. Puzzles have been good, but the summer months often slow down. Last Q4 was crazy for adult puzzles. How this year pans out... who knows? But it will be good, I think



Feature Games & Puzzlesnm.indd 4

to look out for is Echoes: an app-based card game that is new to the range - a completely different way of gaming.’’

we will always look to balance our offering to each of our core sectors - preschool, children, family and adult - and ensure we have on-trend products launching to keep our range fresh and current.’’ says Mark Jones.

We have always had strong and competitive ranges in our Advent calendar preschool, As we look towards children, family Christmas, Kate Gibson and adult says: “We can’t wait for the launch of our jigsaw puzzle categories, but one area we have advent calendar. With last design featuring on focused on is the year’s [ITV chat show] This Morning family games and as a Gift of the Year category, 2021 award winner, it’s sure introducing lines to be in demand. We have a new game too, Out of that incorporate Order, hitting the shelves this and keep the Autumn. It’s trivia with a twist teenagers - brilliant fun and infuriating interested at the same time - like all the

Immersive gaming

Mark Jones, University Games

Dan Lovett Manager, The Toy Box, Beccles, Suffolk

Gibsons wants to focus on a broad age range, says Kate Gibson: “As a family business, it’s all about entertaining the generations and bringing people together. The great thing about a jigsaw puzzle is that anyone can pop a piece in and suddenly children and grandparents are sharing an activity together! We are seeing growing interest in our White logo range of puzzles aimed at younger adults: those looking to


And there’s plenty of new product from Ravensburger too. “New for A/W are some fabulous immersive games, with titles such as The Princess Bride, Alien and Carpe Diem following a packaging refresh,’’ says Katy Fletcher. “Our Marvel Villainous and Disney Villainous games both have new expansions for this season. We also have some interesting Cold Case Files from ThinkFun, delivering education through fun and extremely clever game formats! Another new game

Spin Master

best games, I think!” “Aside from kids’ games, we wish to establish ourselves in a permanent way across family, party, and strategy games,’’ concludes Vivid’s Ben Hogg. “We have a fantastic opportunity to show we have arrived this Q4 with some terrific titles under our belt including Unsolved Case Files, Escape Room: The Game, The Floor is Lava, Battle of the Ages, Fireball Island and Sequence.’’ 02/09/2021 18:03




New additions UNIVERSITY GAMES 020 7254 0100 | Launching at Autumn Fair and joining the best-selling Harry Potter Wizarding World 3D Puzzle series will be three new spellbinding 3D Puzzle Models. The magical home of the Weasley Family, the Burrow 3D Puzzle will be joined by the transforming Knight Bus and the home of Hogwarts’ Keeper of the Keys, Hagrid’s Hut. Quicksand and Eye Opener are just two of the fun-packed new additions to the children’s games portfolio. Quicksand is a game of Slip, Slide and Sink! Players use their shrinking playing pieces to race through the jungle to get them (or whatever remains left of them) to the finish camp! Eye Opener is a hidden picture guessing game that the whole family will love: use the fun lever to slowly open the eye to reveal the hidden picture. There are also some new and very on-trend board games joining the family and adult games range. Autocorrect is a hilarious modern-day game, perfect for those who can relate to sending that text too quickly! Five Star Review will draw out those inner critics, and AntiMonopoly is the real-estate trading game for the 21st Century. Judge Your Friends is a party game full of questions that you might just not want to know the answer to! In addition, there is a new series of strategy games arriving this Autumn which are perfect for testing the grey matter: Pathagon, Quadefy and Eternas. Q4 is definitely the favourite time of the year for Murder Mystery parties. The evergreen Murder Mystery titles from University Games have been given a new contemporary look. Also adding to the strong Murder Mystery range are two new Case Files - Mile High and Chef’s Knife as well as four new Murder Mystery Puzzles: The Orient Express, Murder on the Nile, Murder on the Underground, and The Art of Murder. The University Games Puzzle range has plenty of new additions in 2021

Guess what… Autocorrect is a hilarious modernday game perfect for those who can relate to sending that text too quickly… players have to decipher some brilliantly autocorrected messages

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Flair shoots… and scores! FLAIR

0208 643 0320 | From a talking toilet to a stacking game with a difference, Flair’s A/W21 games portfolio is not to be missed. Combining all the things that children love, Shoot the Poop is a hilarious game where players must shoot their toy poops into a talking toilet bowl - that’s Tank the Toilet to his fans and friends! To play, simply place the poop on the poop launcher, aim the launcher, and shoot! The first player to shoot all of his/her poops into Tank the Toilet wins. Following an incredible consumer response in the US, the game launches in the UK from October and will benefit from extensive marketing support, including TV, pre-roll, and influencer activity. Continuing the family fun theme is Pick-Up Pete: a game that families in the US can’t get enough of! Perfect for preschoolers, this is a stacking game with a difference, where players must pile up the chairs while Pete the Pick-Up truck drives around. The winner is the first person to stack all his/her coloured chairs on the truck as Pete passes by. The game launched this summer with a 360-degree marketing campaign, including TV, pre-roll, and influencer activity. Finally, with football front of mind following the Euros - and with the World Cup tournament set to take place next year - Flair’s football-inspired card game Goal 10 will be right on target!

Fun for little ones TOYNAMICS UK & IRELAND 0116 478 5230 Toynamics UK & Ireland offers a wide choice of Hape puzzles in a variety of sizes, shapes and levels of difficulty for two- to five-year-olds. All are designed to ensure that puzzling is fun for children, while encouraging critical thinking, hand/eye co-ordination and dexterity. Children can learn more about the solar system with the Hape Solar System Puzzle, featuring solid-wood planet pieces, a glowing LED sun, and a poster with all the planet names. The Hape Animated City Puzzle is a large 49-piece cityscape with a magic card camera viewer that creates animated effects as children move across the completed puzzle picture. And the Hape Chunky Clock Puzzle gives children a colourful introduction to telling the time. For children aged two-plus, the Hape Farm Animal Puzzle and Play helps them learn about where each animal feels at home.

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Classics with a contemporary twist HASBRO

020 8744 5652 |

Hasbro Gaming continues to bring newness to its classic games this Q4 with the launch of Monopoly Cash Decoder and Trivial Pursuit Decades 2010-2020. In the Monopoly Cash Decoder game, things aren’t always as they seem. Someone added fake cash and fake Chance cards! Luckily, Mr. Monopoly is giving players his decoder so they can find the fakes and still make a fortune. It’s an exciting game of hidden reveals, and players get to challenge their opponents for using fakes with accusation coins. But they must use them wisely! Players only get a few coins to play. The game includes Monopoly tokens that play up the deceptive theme. The player with the most money at the end - real or fake - wins. Aimed at adults and teens with a love of trivia, the new Trivial Pursuits Decade 20102020 gives players a chance to put all that streaming, scrolling, and sharing to the test with questions about bingeworthy shows, chart-topping hits, major headlines, hilarious memes, and more from 2010 to 2020. The board game features pop culture trivia questions from six categories, including Playlist, Bingeworthy, Culture, News Alert, Break the Internet, and Game On. Friends and families can play individually or in teams with 1,800 trivia questions on 300 cards. In addition, Hasbro continues to support its much-loved classic board games including Monopoly, Cluedo, Guess Who and Twister, offering the perfect mix of games to keep families and kids entertained this winter season.

Five friends in one WINNING MOVES 020 3920 8151

With last year’s influx of puzzles flooding the market, consumers are looking for fresh ways to keep themselves entertained. As a result, Winning Moves is launching a new product this Winter: the 5-in-1 collection of Friends puzzles, which consists of a 160-piece puzzle, two 500-piece puzzles, and two 1000-piece puzzles. Last year, during the beginning of the pandemic, the company launched its first Friends puzzle featuring the iconic image of the cast of the US TV sitcom drinking a milkshake and it was a massive hit. Since then, two more variations have been added to the range, and 5-in-1 is expected to add to the success of these products.


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Challenges and Christmas cheer RAVENSBURGER 01869 363830 | What happens when your world turns upside down? Find out when you put the goggles on and experience how the easiest task suddenly turns into a real challenge! The#UpsideDownChallenge is simple and easy to play. It takes just 20 minutes and is suitable for two to six players aged sevenplus. Suitable for a quick game or an entire games night, it contains more than 100 drawing and activity challenges. Meanwhile, The Christmas House Limited Edition 2021 is a 1,000-piece puzzle developed by Ravensburger’s UK-based team for adults and children aged 12 years and up. The 25th Limited Edition Christmas design shows a house adorned in lights, with garlands wrapped round the porch and Christmas crackers, stars, garlands and a large Santa in his sleigh at the front of the building. In the garden are super-sized gifts and baubles and nutcracker figures stand guard, alongside an angel, another Santa, a sleigh and lots of illuminated trees. Beyond the house are the lights of a pretty village and church and distant, snow-covered hills.

A gamut of games VIVID TOY GROUP

01483 449944 | Goliath Games is launching 11 games for A/W21 to join its ever-increasing portfolio. Since launch, The Floor is Lava has been a sell-out success with consumers. It has also been the recipient of plaudits from celebrity influencers, who have posted their fondness for the title and in doing so laid the foundations for a strong A/W period. Making a welcome return to the Goliath Games range this Christmas are Pop the Pig (formerly Pig Goes Pop) featuring the company’s largest-ever pig, Doggie Doo in a new Corgi edition, the gruesome Gooey Louie and the classic game of Triominos Deluxe. A perennial success story is Sequence and this year, there’s a host of new formats available including Travel, Premium and Jumbo editions plus Sequence Harry Potter edition. The adult party range has been bolstered with titles such as Unsolved Case Files. In the family range, there’s Skid Markz (yes, you read correctly!), which is in equal parts funny and gross. Another addition is Double Ditto, a party game that has already launched in the US, where the more you agree in your answers to open-ended questions, the more you score. There are also some new additions to TV advertised preschool games for 2021, including Beware of the Bear and Gobble Monster.


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Countdown to Christmas GIBSONS 020 8661 8866 Gibsons, the 102-year-old jigsaw puzzle and board game company, is launching a range of fresh products this month. The new releases consist of two new games and a collection of puzzle designs that are sure to keep the whole family entertained. Out Of Order is the trivia game with a twist. There’s a laugh on every card in this fast-paced party game. The quirky quiz sees you whizz through just five questions a card… and they’re not that hard. So, what’s the catch? Simple: you must always give the answer from the question before - with hilarious results! Out of Order is cheeky fun for two to six players aged 14 and over. And returning for the fourth consecutive year is Gibsons’ jigsaw puzzle in a bauble. Inside the gorgeous gift is a 200-piece Sugar & Spice puzzle that features gingerbread treats, Christmas tree decorations and lots of lovely presents. The innovative, baubleshaped packaging features luxury silver foiling, making it the perfect addition to any tinsel-laden Christmas tree. This joyful puzzle is the ultimate Christmas gift that is bound to spread some festive cheer. Finally, back by popular demand is Gibsons’ best-selling Puzzle Advent Calendar. The theme of the Merry Mischief Puzzle Advent Calendar is animals, and behind 22 doors is a festive jigsaw puzzle to complete in the countdown to Christmas. Behind the two remaining doors is puzzle glue and ribbon, so you can turn your puzzles into hanging decorations.

An entertaining assortment ASMODEE UK 01420 593593 Asmodee’s catalogue of board games is full of must-have products for the coming months. Its Family Games collection brings together its most exciting sellers, including The Sock Game. Challenging two teams to rummage around inside an oversized sock, searching for a variety of objects using only their sense of touch, it’s a hilarious dexterity game that puts all players on an equal playing field. Another success for Asmodee is BrainBox Harry Potter, a high-profile licensed edition of the millions-selling educational game. Built upon the proven BrainBox mechanics, in which players have 10 seconds to study a card before answering questions to see how much they can remember about it, this version features stills from the movies, and tests memory and knowledge of the hit film

Guess what… The image-matching card game Dobble has teamed up with several of the country’s biggest football clubs - including Arsenal, Chelsea, and Manchester City - for special editions perfect for fans of the beautiful game


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adaptations of JK Rowling’s books. Asmodee’s flagship Dobble brand continues to go from strength to strength as it enjoys its biggest year yet for new licensed editions of the top-selling game of speedy observation. Dobble Pixar, Dobble Paw Patrol, Dobble Marvel Emoji and Dobble Minions have all already hit shelves this year – and there’s even more excitement to come. The image-matching card game has teamed up with football clubs including Arsenal, Chelsea, and Manchester City for special editions perfect for fans of the beautiful game. 2021 has brought the opportunity to celebrate some of Asmodee’s most enduringly popular Modern Classics. Ticket to Ride Europe marked its 15th anniversary with a definitive collector’s edition, while Carcassonne is soon to release an eagerly-awaited 20th anniversary set, and the upcoming Catan 3D offers the most vivid and inviting edition yet of the game as it celebrates 25 years of success. Another Asmodee title is set to debut a new edition, with the release of Pandemic: Hot Zone - Europe: a streamlined version of the co-operative game which can be played within half an hour. 02/09/2021 18:06


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Big bundle of games and puzzles BIG POTATO GAMES 02036209495 | Big Potato Games is back with a big bundle of new party games for the second half - perfect for finally reuniting with all the family this Christmas. And if that wasn’t enough the company is also launching its first-ever range of jigsaw puzzles. A Night At The Movies and A Day At The Festival are both 1,000-piece puzzles and the fun doesn’t stop once they are completed; both puzzles also come with 101 riddles to try to solve. Next up is another exciting first. Billed as the world's first action adventure board game, What Next? is made up of three epic adventures where you have to work together to reach the end of the story in one piece. However, in this game, choosing the right path is only half the battle. To complete their mission, players must take on more than 60 different physical mini-

games, from blowing a card across the table to catching a piece before it hits the floor. Each adventure is packed with different events, challenges and rewards, compelling players to go back and explore again. If those two firsts weren’t enough, Big Potato Games is also back to doing what it does best - bringing out another game with another wellknown licence. Get ready for the Mean Girls party game. Gather your friends, tear out a page of the Burn Book, and pass it around as you take turns answering scandalous questions about each other. This is a game for everyone, not just super-fans of the US teen comedy movie that takes a look at high school cliques. It’s not about how well you know the plot, but about how well you know the people you’re playing with, so no need to worry if you don’t know Glen Coco from Regina George (both characters from the film).

A head-spinning selection SPIN MASTER 01628 535 000 | Spin Master has a great selection of games and puzzles for everyone in the family to enjoy. Refreshed versions of popular family games Hedbanz and Beat the Parents are hitting stores this year with exciting upgrades for even better play, including Hedbanz Blastoff, which features an added element of time pressure. Spin Master has also recently partnered with several popular brands to produce a wide range of movie-inspired games, including Harry Potter Catch The Snitch, and a deluxe version of the classic Jumanji game with a new electronic video centrepiece and immersive jungle sounds. For younger games fans, Spin Master has a range of Paw Patrol themed games such as Paw Patrol Movie Adventure City Game and the Paw Patrol Pop Up Game, that feature characters from the Paw Patrol TV series and the new feature-length film. Also on offer is a selection of puzzles including the Perplexus Beast and the Perpluxus Rebel. These puzzles are perfect for challenging dexterity and patience as children and adults alike put their skills to the test while manoeuvring tricky obstacles such as the laughing man, tightrope, and super spiral, without falling off the track.


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For younger players ORCHARD TOYS 01953 859520 Orchard Toys celebrates its golden 50th anniversary in Q4 and with a reputation for award-winning educational play, the company continues to centre its games and jigsaws around the ethos of ‘Learning Made Fun’. The recently launched Wiggly Words, a brainteasing word and spelling game, has seen a fantastic response since its release. Players take turns to join their heads or tails cards to the domino line to build a new word. Doublesided cards with quirky characters feature at the beginning or end of a word to allow for different word combinations to be made. Championing the balance between education and fun, children (and adults) can practise words they already know, as well as learning new words, in this fun literacy game. Within the jigsaws range, First Farm and First Jungle Friends are proving popular additions, with their simplistic, engaging, and bold illustrations capturing the imaginations of young toddlers. Both products feature two 12-piece jigsaws. Orchard Toys will support its range through a multichannel social and marketing campaign to drive brand awareness throughout Q4.

Picture perfect JUMBO 0161 428 9111 | With the end of 2021 fast approaching, Jumbo is releasing a selection of seasonal puzzles, as well as a host of new titles from brands loved by fans and retailers alike. New for 2021, the exquisitely illustrated Christmas in Edinburgh from Falcon de Luxe is an enchanting 1,000-piece puzzle that showcases this historic city in all its festive glory. In addition, the beautiful scenery of Portloe and the action-packed Vintage Car Rally are just two of the latest 1,000-piece releases sure to delight puzzle fans everywhere. Falcon Contemporary is a new puzzle collection for 2021, which celebrates modern artwork and designs. The range uses 100% recycled cardboard and smaller, more compact, boxes, which are free from plastic shrink wrap for a more sustainable way to puzzle. Shop Local from Jacqui Lee transports puzzlers to a vibrant local market in a quaint town square. Other colourful titles in this selection include The Marina from Ben the Illustrator and Life’s a Beach from Ruby Taylor.


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Guess what… Wasgij Mystery 20 Trouble Brewing! is a 1,000-piece puzzle that shows a brewery tour that’s well underway as the guide struggles to keep the rowdy bunch focused - especially a hen party that has imbibed too many free samples! Meanwhile, Wasgij is the original brainteasing jigsaw, and in these new puzzles, the illustrations and clues remain as rib-tickling as ever. Wasgij Mystery 20 Trouble Brewing! is a 1,000-piece puzzle that shows a brewery tour that’s well underway as the guide struggles to keep the rowdy bunch focused - especially a hen party that has imbibed too many free samples! Wasgij Original 38 Market Meltdown takes us to a bustling cheese market where hilarity ensues. Lastly, in Wasgij Destiny 23 Theme Park Thrills, puzzlers must imagine how state-of-the-art attractions have transformed the charming Have a Jolly Day Out Land theme park. 02/09/2021 18:07



Collect, play, and display surprises BASIC FUN! UK Basic Fun! UK is cornering both the games and the collectables market with Monopoly Surprise Collectables. These blind-boxed, multi-purpose collectables present kids and collectors with a peel ‘n’ reveal experience like no other! Once unboxed, kids can collect, play, and display their game tokens. The surprises include heavy-weighted, metal, exclusive tokens, unique coins, new Mr. Monopoly expressions, chase tokens, and more. Not just fun to collect, these collectables can be used while playing with nearly any version of the iconic property trading board game. There are two Monopoly Surprise lines to discover. Monopoly Surprise Exclusive Collectable Tokens contain five surprises in each pack with more than 20 new tokens to collect in this assortment. There are a further 25-plus tokens to find in the Monopoly Surprise Community Chests. Each Chest contains 10 surprises - exclusive gold toned tokens (which cannot be found anywhere else), unique coins, new Mr. Monopoly expressions, different coloured plaques, chase tokens, and more. Kids, families, and Monopoly enthusiasts can collect all the game tokens and use them in their board game play, and then display them for all to see.

Time for adventure THAMES & KOSMOS 01580713000 | Thames & Kosmos is pleased to announce the latest addition to its award-winning range of Exit games: an Exit Advent Calendar. The Mystery of the Ice Cave is a 24-day adventure that requires the player to solve a riddle per day to move on to the next tiny 3D room. Meticulous detail combined with the usual mind-boggling puzzles set by Inka and Markus Brand, will amuse, intrigue and delight players aged 10-plus - and it’s calorie-free! The company is no stranger to Spiel des Jahres nominations. The Crew: Quest for Planet 9 won the Kennerspiel last year as well as Dice Towers game of the year and a multitude of other plaudits. This year, The Crew: Mission Deep Sea takes adventurers on a whole new adventure. Players will still enjoy the co-operative tricktaking mechanic but will be challenged by a whole other level of difficulty and will find a greater variety of missions to complete. Also nominated for Spiel des Jahres this year was The Adventures of Robin Hood. This co-operative story-led game is perfect for families and friends aged 10-plus. The advent calendar-like doors on the board reveal bonuses and rewards, while the beautifully-illustrated hardback book leads adventurers through the story as they choose how best to complete their individual quests. With illustrations and game design by Michael Menzel, creator of the cult Legends of Andor series, players will be enchanted by the artwork, innovative player movement and beautifully designed character pieces.


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Game on! CHARACTER OPTIONS 0161 633 9800 New for A/W21, Character Options is inviting players to work together in a bid to Stop The Robots! Having proved a smash hit in the Character Kidz event, this game is set in a world where crazy robots are threatening the city. Players must find and deactivate them before it’s too late! Players can use voice recognition walkietalkies to talk to their virtual partner.

More fun with Mattel MATTEL

They’ll need to work together to identify the robot, solve the puzzles, and cut the correct wires. There are more than 100 puzzles to solve to progress through the game’s 36 missions and nine levels. Kids can either play alone or as part of a team. Another must-have in the games aisle is Projex, the projecting game arcade. This game tests players’ speed and skill as they blast moving targets projected onto any light-coloured wall, all from the comfort of their own home, and without the need for TV screens or sensors. The game features three interchangeable image slides that let you project ducks, targets or UFOs - each with different sound effects. Players can choose from five built-in games and three skill levels, with target pointers on both blasters to help with their aim. Kids can play solo, head-to-head or in co-op mode, teaming up to get the highest combined score. Finally, there’s the Electronic Spin the Bottle game, where players must dare to perform songs and dances, or answer truths to reveal what they really think. This hilarious game features hundreds of questions, truths and dares.

01628 500000 | Mattel continues to strengthen its games portfolio with an extensive offering, introducing new lines alongside iconic favourites. This year, UNO celebrates its 50th anniversary with new products and exciting campaigns. Joining the range this Autumn is the new UNO Extreme, bringing even more action, suspense and surprise into the game you know and love! Following the continued incredible performance of Pictionary Air in 2020, Mattel Games is expanding the range with new Pictionary Air Harry Potter. Two teams, representing different Hogwarts houses, battle it out to see who will reign supreme. Players take turns drawing clues in the air while their teammates guess the images that appear on screen. The team with the most points wins the house cup! New to Scrabble this A/W is the Scrabble Star Wars Edition. Play classic Scrabble or try out Galaxy mode! Build words to advance your starship token around the board and collect Galaxy Cards to increase your score and strike back at your opponents. Jump through hyperspace by playing words from the Star Wars glossary. Finally, joining Whac-a-Mole in Mattel’s Kids Games range is Crossed Signals, an exciting reaction-based electronics game, where players read the lights right or get mixed up! Players choose one of four different games, playing solo or with friends. Utilising light and voice commands, the game will get players on their feet to challenge speed and accuracy - including a duelling showdown where two players each take a stick. The player with the highest score wins. Up to four players can enjoy this frenzied game of lights and action.


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Balancing acts and boredom-busters REX LONDON 020 8746 1700 Shortlisted for a Junior Design Award 2021, the bestselling Wild Wonders Balance Game contains 14 wooden pieces - jungle flora and fauna - and the aim of the game is to balance them on top of each other. It’s a great way for kids to improve their hand-eye co-ordination and learn animal names at the same time! The cute jungle design is bold and bright - the game is just one of 50 products (so far) in the Wild Wonders range. It reflects a level of whimsy and fun; the pieces feature a retro design and glossy painted finish. Although the main aim of the game is to balance the blocks on top of each other, children can channel the spirit of Kruger National Park (one of Africa’s largest game reserves) by using the pieces as figures in an African bush scene, or they can be placed on a shelf to decorate a kid’s room. While the print itself has been designed specifically for children, it has been purposefully developed to be ungendered because exotic animals ignite the imagination in so many little ones, and the bright colours and beautiful finish of the balance game can inspire and delight both boys and girls. Rex London has always opted for ungendered kids’ designs, focusing more on unbiased characters, interests and patterns. Meanwhile, with UK holidays more popular than ever, parents can keep kids entertained on long car journeys, train rides or days out with the Travel Bingo game. It’s a great way to develop children’s curiosity and observational skills, while busting their boredom. No more cries of, “Are we there yet?” The game comes with four coloured pencils and two bingo pads - one for things to spot in the countryside, and one for things to spot around town.

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An Avalanche of family fun SKYROCKET 01489 668442 | New for A/W21, Avalanche is a fun, fast and furious game. Players must shoot a cannon to knock out their opponent’s ice blocks. It will take multiple shots to displace a block, as players adopt an offence/defence strategy! The first player to hit five blocks wins the game. Parents will love that the cannon balls are connected to each cannon, which avoids any loose or lost balls. And kids will love the fact that this means unlimited ammunition and zero reloading time, offering them heaps of fast-paced fun. Suitable for players aged four-plus, this game presents families with multiple ways to play. In ‘Frenzy’ mode, two players can battle one another to knock out five blocks. In ‘Turn Based’ play, players can follow a Noughts and Crosses style of game. And in ‘TimeBased’ play, one player can level up their play in practice mode.

Mario’s still super! EPOCH MAKING TOYS 0208 049 1377 Following huge success in 2020 with the launch of Super Mario Games, Epoch making toys is expanding the range for A/W21. After 2020’s sold-out Super Mario Shaky Tower game and ahead of the Super Mario film release in 2022, three SKUs will bolster Epoch’s offering in the lead-up to Christmas. Hover Shell Strike is a delight for Super Mario fans as it brings the iconic Koopa green shell to life. Launching this month, players can start a game of hockey on almost any surface, as the shell is struck between the branded hockey pucks. Also launching this month is the Fire Mario Stadium: a one-on-one battle to reach the opponent’s tower before they reach yours. Fans can choose to play as Mario or Luigi as they shoot the other character’s target to attack, before defeating Bowser to win the game. Fire Mario Stadium continues to feature the Link System, which allows the included characters to be played across Super Mario Games, including previous releases such as Piranha Plant Escape and Balancing Games. To thrill Super Mario Fans for Christmas, Mario Kart Racing DX will zoom onto shelves in October. The kart racing game pits two players against each other, both battling it out on the track where dexterity is the difference between winning and losing. Players will be faced with six exciting obstacles to be crowned the winner; they will have to push buttons and pull leavers to get their kart over a steep winding road, seesaw bridge, a tilting slope and more! No batteries are required for the game, so it’s ideal to play straight away. Mario Kart Racing DX will be the focal point of a TV and digital campaign in the run-up to Christmas.


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Pocket money prizes

With shops fully open, children have been keen to get out and start spending their pocket money again. TnP has been finding out what retailers think about the current state of the playground crazes and pocket money toys sector


recent study has revealed that children in the UK squirrelled away £38 million over lockdown, waiting to be spent when retail reopened. Research by specialist kids and family insight consultancy Beano Brain has unveiled the spending habits of Britain’s mini consumers, with 47% choosing to spend their money on the high street versus 41% online. Recommendations are the Amanda Alexander, biggest influence on children’s Giddy Goat Toys spending choices, with 46% admitting they have purchased something after a friend has already bought it. A large proportion - 43% - said scrolling through Amazon had influenced their purchases, while 33% said that TikTok gave them shopping inspiration, only just behind TV ads at 34%. As lockdown lifted, kids were keen to venture outside and make mini purchases of ‘everyday treats’ of food and drink (52%) while 45% bought toys and collectables. Commenting on the report, author Helenor Gilmour, director of insight at Beano Brain, said: “Online purchases have risen but kids have also rediscovered a love of the high street. For these nascent shoppers, being able to see their purchases, touch them and share them with friends and family is really important. And although these modern miniconsumers can choose from debit cards, vouchers and gaming currency, their preference is still cash, which they Bandai are spending on small indulgences such


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I think so-called ‘playground’ crazes are probably driven as much by social media platforms like TikTok or Instagram as in the playground

as luxe-shakes, sweets, fidget toys and hair accessories - preferably with their friends in tow.” So, what have toy retailers seen kids spending all that pocket money on? “This year it’s been all about Pushpoppers [from H Grossman under its HGL brand],’’ says Dan Lovett, manager of The Toy Box in Beccles, Suffolk. “But we haven’t seen the big numbers like previous crazes, mainly due to local schools not letting children take anything into school.’’ “Pokémon cards have been a consistent top seller by volume in-store with the booster packs flying out,’’ says Amanda Alexander, owner of Giddy Goat Toys in Didsbury, Manchester. She adds: “Online I sell not only booster packs but some of the collectors’ tins too, and some of these are retailing at over £50 so I’m guessing these are for adult collectors. The other big playground craze has of course been Pushpoppers. Because these are low value, there was definitely a surge for them once the shop reopened, as people are going to be reluctant to do orders of less than a fiver online.’’ Pushpoppers are the winners again for Hazel McCarthy, owner of Toy Corner in Galway, Ireland. She tells TnP: “I mostly stock my pocket money and fidget toy section from H. Grossman/Tobar. The Pushpoppers and related items are still going strong but other items that are always favourites are anything with beads inside (like Orbeez), anything with a matt rubber texture outside (like Nee Doh), squishy balls covered in mesh, fidget tracks, putty, and infinity cubes.’’ And just to make it a full house, Maggie Tibbenham, director at Imagine

Toy Shop in Holmfirth, West Yorkshire, says: “I mostly get pocket money toys from HGL/Tobar, Keycraft or Muddleit. This year the absolute bestseller has been Pushpoppers in every form: keyrings, pads, shaped poppers, simple dimples, all of them. I struggle to get these regularly as very often I find them out of stock. TechDeck is a great selling product for me, and squashy beady novelty toys are always a good seller.’’ Usually, toy retailers can judge prospective sales by looking at school terms and holidays, but of course the past 18 months has been unprecedented, with schools opening and closing, often without much warning. So when the schools finally went back after Easter, following the winter lockdown, how did that affect sales? And are they expecting similar results as the schools go back this month? “Interestingly I think so-called ‘playground’ crazes are probably driven as much by social media platforms like TikTok or Instagram as in the playground,’’ observes Amanda Alexander at Giddy Goat Toys. “So, although there is likely to be some fluctuations in demand for these crazes in alignment with term times, I think it’s less so than in previous years.’’ Maggie Tibbenham at Imagine Toy Shop agrees: “I haven’t noticed any increased demand when kids went back to school. I think YouTube plays the biggest role in advertising new trends and crazes, and children want what they see online.’’ “I underestimated the demand out there when I reopened (mid-May here in the Republic of Ireland),’’ admits Hazel McCarthy at Toy Corner. “I had stock of all the crazes since the start of the year and they were selling online, but in-store demand far exceeded that online, and I didn’t plan re-orders in time.’’

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Creative, collectable concepts CHARACTER OPTIONS 0161 633 9800 |

Character Options will be creating the craze this term with fun and collectable ranges, including Micro Toy Box, Heroes of Goo Jit Zu and Mash’ems. Sure to be a hit in the playground are the new Micro Toy Box collectables. Micro Toy Box is the brand that takes the most popular toys and games and reimagines them on a tiny scale. Kids will love peeling and revealing miniature versions of classic and contemporary toys and games. Starting at just three-quarters of an inch in scale, these toys are creatively packaged, ready to be unboxed. Tiny in size but big on quality and detail, these cool collectables capture brands such as Rubik’s Cube, Uno, Etch-A-Sketch, FisherPrice Classics, and Transformers.

The race is on! SIMBA SMOBY TOYS UK 01620 674 778 |

Simba Smoby Toys UK is speeding into the playground with a host of diecast vehicles from its Jada Toys and Majorette collections. The new school term will rev up demand for the collectable brand Jada Toys - not least the pocket moneypriced 1:32 scale die-cast vehicles. This is a collection where attention to detail and high quality are paramount and this is reflected in the lines that include properties such as Back to the Future, Scooby Doo, Fast & Furious, Batman and, new for A/W21, the Jurassic Park Wrangler. Ever popular in the collection are the 1:32 scale Batman vehicles. Each of the six packs contains a metal figure and vehicle modelled on Batman’s on-screen appearances. The Fast & Furious collection is also enjoying good traction following the recent release of the F9 movie. Fans can collect cars from the eight-film, multi-billion-dollar franchise, as well as new


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additions from Hobbs & Shaw. Meanwhile, boys and kidult collectors will love the Majorette range of die-cast vehicles. The Majorette range is highly detailed, with die-cast cars boasting opening doors, suspension, transparent front lights, and interiors. Die-cast models are in 3in scale and boast a licensing portfolio that includes Mercedes, Lamborghini, Audi and BMW. Simba Smoby Toys UK plans to build on that to offer a greater selection of playsets, as well as focusing on key die-cast themes and ranges, including an impressive Porsche die-cast theme. 03/09/2021 07:21

Pass it around FLAIR 0208 643 0320 | Disney Doorables, Juggleezz and Slinky are just three of the cool and collectable brands that kids will be passing around the playground this new term! First, new doors will open with Disney Doorables in A/ W21. Available as Mini Peek Packs, Multi Peek Packs and as A’Doorable Mini Playsets, fans can now collect more than 100 Disney Doorables characters hidden behind surprise doors. There are special edition figures to find too, from autumn, with the Disney Doorables Collectors Packs. Also added to the mix for autumn are two Beyond the Door Playsets. The Frozen themed playset opens to reveal an ice rink on one side and Elsa’s bedroom on the other, and the Little Mermaid set opens to reveal an underwater seascape, with interactive features.

Repeat play value BANDAI UK 0208 324 6160 | Launching with an extensive schools marketing and sampling campaign in the September back-to-school period, NanoBytes is set to create a new playground craze. NanoBytes are cool, collectable items built up as mini pixels. With more than 100 to collect in Series 1, NanoBytes bridges physical and digital play to offer an exclusive ByteWorld experience. With each NanoByte, children scan the QR code found on the collectable to unlock a host of edutainment including fun facts, jokes, how-it-works, and world records. They can then download the free ByteWorld app and enter a unique code to earn virtual ByteCoins for saving and spending in their own ByteWorld, where they can play games and quests, get exclusive characters, and build themed stores (Nano Arcade, ByteMart, BurgerBytes, Bytes Café, Nano Scoops). The more NanoBytes kids collect, the more ByteCoins they can earn, and the bigger their ByteWorld empire becomes.

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Something for everyone SPIN MASTER 01628 535 000 Spin Master has a brilliant selection of pocket money toys and collectables to keep up with the latest playground crazes. Zoobles are the adorable animals with a magical surprise transformation. The Zoobles and Happitat onepack includes one Zoobles character and a matching Happitat, which features the metal hot spot that transforms your Zoobles from a colourful ball to a super-cute animal. There are 12 Zoobles to collect. Similarly cute is the Hatchimals Shimmer babies range available in a one-pack or multipack. These irridescent and sparkly baby Hatchimals CollEGGtibles characters feature sweet surprises, including all-new baby eggs and a gender reveal hatch. Twisty Girlz dolls transform into a bracelet children can wear. Each Twisty Girlz features a different stylish outfit and cool hairstyle and comes with a secret Twisty Pet, unicorn, elephant, puppy, or kitty. In a few simple twists, the pet becomes a blingy ring. Another collectable for young fashion fans is the P. Lushes Pets: the designer plush from all around the world, who love to look their best. Trendy kids will love the Orbeez mega pack, which includes 2,000 of the colourful water beads made famous on TikTok. The #Challenge Playset is the perfect choice for children wanting to emulate the online crazes.


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Hot property in the playground BASIC FUN! UK | Basic Fun! UK has all bases covered when it comes to playground crazes, with peel ‘n’ reveal Monopoly Surprise Collectables, Bitty Boomers – the cool youth electronics brand that is giving collectables new purpose - and a selection of collectable plush lines from the worlds of Cutetitos and Care Bears. Having reintroduced the Care Bears brand in A/W20, this range continues to go from strength to strength. Big news for pocket money toys in A/W21 is the introduction of 3in micro plush characters, which promise to deliver the magic of Care Bears in a smaller, just as adorable format. There are also some additions in the 9in Bean Plush assortment. There are eight characters to collect in the range, but from autumn, As children return to school, Funrise UK prepares to deliver a fans can extend their collections with new characters including truckload of collectable fun into the playground with its Bright Togetherness Bear. Fairy Friends, Cat, Gazillion Bubbles and Fart Ninjas ranges.

Bright delights FUNRISE UK

Funrise UK is continuing to light up imaginations with new dolls and pets to collect in the Bright Fairy Friends range. New for A/W21 is the Bright Fairy Friends Mermaid theme. Each doll in this series comes in an aquatic blue jar; children can unwrap the doll to discover a mermaid and cute accessories hidden within. The dolls’ wings magically change when dipped in water and their fairy homes light up too. Kids can also look forward to the introduction of the Bright Fairy Friends Bestie Pets. The line launches with 12 pets to collect, each housed in a flower-shaped container. With the motion-activated light-up feature, kids can wave their hand over the flower to watch it glow! Then, they can open their flower to reveal which Bestie Pet is hidden inside. Also perfect for parking up in the playground are the Cat Little Machines - pocket money priced mini 8cm push-powered vehicles.

A fidget box of fun H. GROSSMAN 01603 397105 | Talking current crazes? It’s all about HGL Pushpoppers in 2021 and the eye-popping sales go on and on. HGL was first to the market with this mega craze and its range extensions have added legs to this season’s sensation. Craze they may be, but they are collectable too - with sales reflecting the wish to have a selection of Pushpoppers of every type. Continually supported by national TV and mainstream media coverage coupled with a social media overload, Pushpoppers are front and centre for all generations of consumer. Innovative design and line extensions include key rings, unicorns, dinosaurs, pineapples, glitter, glow in the dark, and tie dye. The latest items include pea pod key chains, a lobster, a rainbow, jigsaw puzzle pieces and an octopus. Push snappers are new on the scene: another super addictive fidget toy that creates a satisfying snap with every squeeze! Push the two sides together until the suction cups connect, then release, and snap. There are lots of bright colours to choose from too. Also new is The Infinity Cube. This shape-changing cube can flip and fold as it’s made from eight smaller interconnected cubes, like origami in cube form. A range of Pushpopper mats have just landed as well, in the shape of a computer keyboard and in two sizes. For those looking to provide a bigger gift item, check out the Bumper Fidget Box: this 24-piece bonanza brings together all the company’s fidget toys - each of which is a best seller in its own right. Great for a party, event or larger gift item, the box comprises sticky crawlers, bendy fidget tubes, boink bouncers, fidget tracks, finger spinners, unicorn bracelets, stretch robes, a heart Pushpopper, a pea pod Pushpopper, a spinning top and the Infinity cube.


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A pocketful of collectables MATTEL 01628 500000

Mattel presents an impressive range of collectables and pocket money toys in A/W from brands including Polly Pocket, Barbie, and Hot Wheels. Polly Pocket, the original micro doll collectable, adds all-new animal-themed compacts in the Pocket World Assortment, which includes Beach Dolphin, Backyard Butterfly, Zoo Elephant, and Candyland Gumball Machine. Each set includes two dolls that have new articulation with five movable joints for richer pose and play action. The compacts come with a strap so kids can wear them as a wristlet or purse; perfect to take anywhere. New to the Polly Pocket range is the Spin ‘n Surprise assortment range, which includes two Polly Pocket compacts: Waterpark or Playground. The Spin ‘n Surprise Waterpark is shaped like a tropical smoothie drink and the Spin ‘n Surprise Playground is shaped like an ice cream cone. Each playset lid opens and then three levels spin out to reveal three floors of fun and 25 themed surprises including one Polly doll and friend.

YouTube stars VIVID TOY GROUP 01483 449944

Ryan’s World continues to go from strength to strength, with the Ryan channels racking up more than 4.3 billion UK lifetime views (YouTube data, Jan 2020). Off the back of the overall brand success, Vivid is launching a range of new product for 2021. Ryan’s World Tour is a key new brand initiative, with a product range based around Ryan and his adventures learning about different countries all over the world. The line includes collectable figures and playsets from all four corners of the globe. The core range will be bolstered with new series on all the key collectables including Series 7 of Mystery Figures, Mystery Putty and Mystery Squishy Figures, which sold over 600,000 pieces combined in 2020 YTD. Vivid’s Love, Diana range is based on the star of YouTube’s Kids Diana Show, which has more than 5 billion views a month globally (Tubefilter, August 2020). A/W21 will allow Love, Diana fans to discover a whole new host of characters, outfits, accessories and two new themes of mash-up playsets at a mid-level price point. The range will also welcome the Magic Music Castle Playset with multiple levels of play; inviting children to create their own pretend play in their homes.

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The future looks golden As the days start to shorten, the toy industry turns its thoughts to the golden quarter - the most important time of the year. But after the most unusual 18 months ever, how will this year’s Q4 perform? TnP talks to suppliers and retailers


t’s the most wonderful time of the year! The We can Golden Quarter as we already see head towards Christmas consumer is both busy and exciting. So with interest high, how confidence important is marketing and growing as we advertising for suppliers at this head towards the time of year? festive season For Gemma Lewington, and we are sure marketing director for individuals will be University Games and The Lagoon Group, Q4 is looking to make “traditionally renowned for up for that quality being the core time of the family time they year for games and puzzles. However, it was also one of the missed out on main product sectors to thrive last year during 2020, with families Gemma Lewington, spending huge amounts University Games and of time at home. So, with The Lagoon Group this in mind, it is even more important that we continue to drive the visibility of our games and puzzles to the consumer with strategic marketing campaigns.’’ Katy Fletcher, head of marketing & product development at Ravensburger, adds: “Any savvy business will know it’s crucial for generating brand awareness for new product launches, but also for highlighting best sellers and creating a buzz

around lines that consumers might not instinctively consider sometimes we need to highlight certain play factors, in a game for example. Marketing enables us to do this, and using a variety of tools across the marketing mix and being creative about our planning and thinking out of the box is increasingly important. “For example, promoting our new GraviTrax extensions such as Turntable and Helix is key in demonstrating the endless play opportunities with the product; marketing helps us educate consumers on these types of opportunities. Similarly, CreArt, our new painting by numbers brand, which includes winter launches such as Pawesome Polar Bear and Festive Friends, needs marketing exposure to differentiate us from other products in the market and promote the USPs, which aren’t always visible when you see a product on shelf at retail.’’ Winning Moves UK retail manager Jack Probyn notes: “It’s the time when children are starting to put together their Christmas lists and the time when parents and loved ones are looking to buy gifts for family and friends, so it’s very important. And to keep Top Trumps and our other brands

at the forefront of customers’ and retailers’ minds, we have partnered with McDonald’s for a massive autumn promotion. Mini editions of our existing and much-loved games will be made available in Happy Meals up and down the country. The games include Top Trumps, Top Trumps Quiz, Top Trumps Pairs, Pass the Pets, LexGO!, and WHOT! As a result of the campaign, we can expect customers to come shopping for the real thing.’’ With marketing and promotion plans locked in, how do suppliers think consumer behaviour will be different this year? “There was so much uncertainty in 2020, especially as we headed towards Christmas. No one knew if they were going to get to spend Christmas with their families, and there was financial uncertainty for so many too. However, we can already see consumer confidence growing as we head towards the festive season and we are sure individuals will be looking to make up for that quality family time they missed out on last year, hopefully reflected in strong purchasing for those occasions,’’ says Gemma Lewington at University Games. Ravensburger is also confident about this Christmas, says Katy Fetcher: “We are hopeful that consumers will want to shop in store this Christmas, not only to embrace the season they didn’t get to enjoy in 2020. There’s nothing like being able to see, touch and experience physical products in a store environment and customer loyalty will be front of mind this Christmas post-pandemic. We

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Bandai anticipate value for money, sustainability and long-term play will all be front of mind.’’ So, as we all look forward to consumers coming back to the shops, how will suppliers support toy retailers? “We have significant and comprehensive digital and social media campaigns planned for Q4 across a number of our key family games including Kersplatt! and Dumb Criminals as well as our new games for 2021: Judge Your Friends and 5 Star Review,’’ says University Games’ Gemma Lewington. “We will also be supporting some evergreen games this year including Pointless, Who’s in the Bag, Stupid Deaths and our Plasticine Advent Calendar. There is also a detailed TV and Probyn: “Aside digital media schedule from our planned for the everOur team promotion with popular family game have been McDonald’s, Smart Ass, and our working hard with our team have largest heavyweight, been working social media multi-layered media hard with infl uencers campaign for the social media iconic Subbuteo TikTokers and influencers range, including TV, YouTubers alike TikTokers and in-match advertising, to spread the YouTubers alike radio, partnerships word about our - to spread the and digital activity. word about products The key for us this our products year is to bring Jack Probyn, in a vital way. families together and Winning Moves We anticipate give them the perfect that striking games, puzzles and through these channels will gifts for the festive season.” have an immediate impact Winning Moves is looking at on customers and awareness digital promotion, says Jack of the brands.’’ Ravensburger, meanwhile, is looking at online and in-store assets, says Katy Fletcher. “We have created a rich toolbox packed full of great assets to support retailers both online and in-store and some great point-of-sale offerings. “Our TV and digital marketing campaigns also direct consumers to retail, and we have a comprehensive advertorial with the children’s print and digital newspaper, First

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Ask the retailers How important is marketing and advertising by toy suppliers as we head into Q4? Honestly, I’m never sure on this one. I know that my kids never watch adverts, but I do get customers asking for specific products that either they - or their children - have seen on TV or YouTube or in a magazine. And I guess there is a process of osmosis where product marketing drips in, otherwise no one would do it.

Do you think consumer buying will be different this Christmas? This year I think people aren’t so worried about another lockdown happening - but are aware of the possibility of stock shortages, and will probably start early. Amanda Alexander, Owner, Giddy Goat Toys, Didsbury, Manchester

Do you think consumer buying will be different this Christmas? I hate to say it, but I don’t think it’s going to be easy. The advertising and marketing will still go on social media channels and TV, but I don’t think there will be enough stock. Customers do ask us [for a product] as soon as they see it. If we put a product on our social media, it does make extra sales. Dan Lovett, Manager, The Toy Box, Beccles, Suffolk

Do you think consumer buying will be different this Christmas from last year? In Ireland The Late Late Toy Show is broadcast in late November each year, and the featured toys on that programme have a huge influence on what we are asked for over the following five weeks. In 2020, however, the show was remarkably different: it was much more about children and their stories and talents, rather than products. Hazel McCarthy, Owner, Toy Corner, Galway, Ireland

How important is marketing and advertising by toy suppliers as we head into Q4? I very rarely see customers asking for something they saw as a commercial on TV or advertised on a poster. Now it’s all about social media and YouTube. Children want what their favourite influencers play and use. Younger children (aged two to four) might still point out something that they saw on TV but then it seems that often tablets take over; kids subscribe to their favourite channels, and they want what they see there. I try to follow the trends, and watch those YouTube channels to see what the kids now prefer, then try my best to get it for my shop. I get a feeling that customers often trust my recommendations and go for products I truly know and believe are the best for them.

Do you think consumer buying will be different this Christmas from last year? Christmas shopping has always been a fabulous time for me, and I hope this year will be the same. Last year many customers went back to shopping locally and supporting small independent shops like mine, so I’m hoping that will happen this year too. I always try to have something different in stock and I hope that attracts customers, especially at Christmas time when they would like a bit of help with their choices. Maggie Tibbenham, Director, Imagine Toy Shop, Holmfirth, West Yorkshire


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Covering all bases UNIVERSITY GAMES 0207 254 0100 | University Games has big plans for their Q4 campaigns including primetime TV, radio, and highprofile online campaigns for the table football game Subbuteo, as well as significant digital campaigns for several of its family games. Smart Ass, Kersplatt! and Dumb Criminals will be joined by 2021 newcomers Judge Your Friends and 5 Star Review, which will all benefit from strong marketing campaigns in the runup to Christmas. The Subbuteo range, which was a 2020 Christmas best seller, now sports both the Official England and Official England Lionesses Main Games alongside the Original Main Game, as well as a host of teams and accessories including the new VAR Set. The nostalgic, familyled creative Subbuteo TV commercial - featuring the voice of football commentator John Motson – will be part of a multi layered and heavyweight media campaign in Q4. The heavyweight media schedule begins this month with core timing running across mid-October through to December. It will include TV advertising within family, sports, and adult time as well as in-match advertising. The TV exposure will headline supporting activity that will include radio partnerships, YouTube and social media plans, as well as digital activity with LADbible and SPORTbible. There will also be a comprehensive TV, online and social campaign for Smart Ass, as well as digital and social campaigns for Kersplatt! and Dumb Criminals. Joining them with strong digital activity are newcomers for 2021: 5 Star Review and Judge Your Friends. All campaigns will begin with a burst this month, followed by full strength campaigns kicking off in mid-October and running through to December.


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On the campaign trail BANDAI UK | Bandai UK has announced its pre-Christmas advertising campaigns for Q3/Q4. A mix of traditional, digital, and social campaigns kicked off from the summer holiday period with additional bursts planned for hero brands from September through to December. Ranges including CoComelon, Vlad & Niki, Harumika, Miraculous, Dragon Ball, Sea Monkeys, and Tamagotchi will be supported with a collection of spots aired across terrestrial, satellite, and pay-to-view channels. Preschool favourites CoComelon and Vlad & Niki, plus retro brand Tamagotchi, will receive the majority of placements. A Tiny Pop channel sponsorship has also been brokered for Bandai UK’s new CoComelon range. Comprehensive TV and digital advertising plans will be implemented throughout the period. Both Harumika and Tamagotchi are supported with a strong social presence via dedicated Instagram channels, while celebrity influencer content is planned for Miraculous, National Geographic, and Vlad & Niki. Facebook and TikTok ad campaigns feature heavily for Tamagotchi, Dragon Ball, and CoComelon. YouTube, in-app gaming, and pre-roll plans will also be implemented across key ranges including new boys’ collectables brands NanoBytes and World of Zombies.

Roll up and move up! BASIC FUN! UK | Basic Fun! UK is lining up the TVRs (television ratings) and YouTube preroll for its mix of autumn ranges including Cutetitos, Care Bears, Tonka, K’Nex and Lite Brite. Cutetitos has plenty of TV on the menu. Now in its eighth selling season, Basic Fun! UK has sold 1 million-plus units of the plush collectable to date. The new Carnivalitos theme launched last month with a TV spot on girls’ (aged from four to nine years) linear and digital channels that runs this month and next. The TV activity will be bridged with YouTube preroll, while influencer activity will be the icing on the big top carnival cake for this brand. Since the A/W20 launch of the Care Bears Master Toy range, each addition has been met with huge demand. This year saw the introduction of Hopeful Heart Bear and Togetherness Bear. Helping to further promote the full range of Care Bear plush toys will be traditional TV and VOD (Video On Demand) next month and next, which will be linked with high volume delivery of preroll. Added to this is PR, with ramped-up gifting across all the new bears, plus tie-in licensed activity. Other TV brands include Lite Brite the activity that combines peg art toysnplaythings media 03/09/2021 07:23

Action stations SIMBA SMOBY TOYS UK 01620 674 778 | Playsets, licensed toys, and Flextreme tracks and vehicles feature prominently in Simba Smoby Toys UK’s A/W21 campaigns. Expect lots of activity for latest launch FleXtreme - the new universe challenging the creativity of young and old, as they build circuits with flexible tracks for motorised vehicles to race around. Having launched at the end of July with the support of a heavyweight TV campaign, YouTube pre-roll and advertising across Facebook and Instagram, FleXtreme will be unmissable between September and December, with TV scheduled at key times, including the October half-term and Christmas holidays, as well as YouTube pre-roll and social media ads to ensure the FleXtreme brand remains front of mind - not least the FleXtreme Discovery Track Set, which is the hero TV advertised line for Q4. Heading into autumn, the marketing drive for Smoby is also set to increase, with more TV, YouTube, and celebrity endorsement. Central to the strategy is TV, and the firm plans to echo the success of its outdoor spring campaign featuring playhouses with a new TV drive on the roleplay ranges, which feature kitchens, workbenches, and supermarkets. Celebrity and influencer endorsement remains key, with this activity set to continue as the focus switches from outdoor to indoor and Christmas gifting. Meanwhile, between the October half-term and Christmas,

Animal magic CHARACTER OPTIONS 0161 633 9800 Character Options’ pre-Christmas advertising plans for Q4 include a mix of traditional, digital and social campaigns to support key lines ahead of the festive period. Having already introduced the Jiggly Pets Puppy and Koala in S/S21, the company will launch an all-new Jiggly Pets animal this month. Expect to see Tan Tan The Orangutan jiggling across TV screens and digital platforms soon! Kids will go bananas for this orange, shade-wearing electronic pet. Tan Tan features full body movement, three songs, plus sound effects. Watch him dance and shake his booty to the beat of his jungle tunes! This hero line will be seen by kids from launch right up until Christmas, thanks to regular bursts of TV, bridged by YouTube pre-roll activity. Plus, there will be a fully immersive SuperAwesome microsite hosted on POP, as well as mobile filmstrips. From Treasure X comes Dino Gold Dino Dissection, where children must dissect a giant T-rex to rescue their exclusive Treasure Hunter figure. Having stolen the show at the Character Options’ Character Kidz event last month, thanks to slimy reveals and Dino dumping action, this will be the focus of influencer and digital activity. TVC will also deliver hundreds of TVRs, plus high-impact digital views right up until Christmas.

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Simba’s Toy Story and Cars collections will also be supported through TV, and YouTube advertising aimed at the core audience of boys aged four to seven. The 1:24 Buzz, Woody and Duke R/C toys are central to the Toy Story drive, while the 1:24 scale RC Turbo Racer Lightning McQueen will be key for cars. A social campaign is also planned that will run during each burst of TV. Finally, the Masha and the Bear line-up offers Masha dolls and Bear plush as well as playsets and collectables, including the hero TV line for the final quarter - the Winter Bear Tree House Playset, which opens to reveal Bear’s cosy cottage at Christmas inside. These will all be top of mind with kids through the September and October TV advertising schedule, which will be simultaneously supported with VOD. YouTube advertising is also in the mix and will sandwich the TV with bursts from August to November. Plus, there will be highprofile and celebrity endorsement for the brand in Q4, which will really contribute to both awareness and the brand’s positioning in the market.

Stealing the show FLAIR 0208 643 0320 With Q4 fast approaching, Flair will be supporting its key brands across the board with TV and digital campaigns. Following a hugely successful August launch for Let’s Glow Studio, which has seen teen and tween creators go nuts for this content-creation craft kit that lets them glow-up their selfie videos with no app required, further activity is scheduled for September, October and November. Last month’s TV and digital campaigns will be added to with more TVRs plus further influencer activity, including dance challenges. Meanwhile, for Laser Pegs – the construction toy range that lets kids light-up their creations - TV, VOD and digital campaigns will keep the brand fresh in kids’ thoughts from October until December, with the Laser Pegs Multi Models 4-in-1 Red Racer Red set a key item within the range. With Blue’s Clues & You named the number one new licence globally at the end of last year (source: The NPD Group Retail Tracking Service G13 $ sales YTD Dec 2020), Flair will ensure that the Just Play Master Toy line for this preschool show remains front of mind ahead of the festive period, with campaigns across all key items. In Q4, the campaign will highlight the Peek a Blue feature plush, with a parent-targeted YouTube campaign on top of kid-targeted TV, VOD, and YouTube campaigns.


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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: Word on the Street Company: Coiledspring Games Tel: 020 3301 1160 Web:

Product: Disney Crystal Art Christmas Collection Company: Craft Buddy Tel: 0203 417 6565 Web:

Product: Pop-Up Theatre Production Set Company: Fiesta Crafts Tel: 020 8804 0563 Web:

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02/09/2021 18:22



Step back in time TnP founder Malcolm Naish takes a look back through time to reflect on industry goings-on in September 2011, 2001, 1991 and 1983

September 1983 • An interesting little booklet product by the NATR (now the Toy Retailers’ Association) entitled a ‘Guide to the British Toy Industry’ was published at the cost of a fiver, giving all types of information. The population of kids aged 0-14 was just over 11 million with the size of the toy market including video games at £600 million. The toy specialists’ share of the market was put at 28% with the number of accredited toy retailers at 3,800. • A long-established toy company - Lone Star Products was forced to call in the receivers. • Having bought Woolworths for £310 million in the previous year, the new company’s first six months trading had seen them reduce the loss of £18.3 million down to £1.8 million, at the same time increasing the sales turnover from £468 million to £541 million. Much of this was achieved through big price reductions to give them a far more competitive edge.

September 1991 •

Tri-ang Toys was integrated into the French group Superjouet. Our W.H.Smith games top 40 showed Scrabble moving up from number six to the top of the charts, with Pictionary and Trivial Pursuit second and third. Looking at the top 40, it is amazing that the vast bulk of the top 40 features games in 1991 that are just as popular, 30 years on.

We were involved in the third South Western golf day held at Kingsdown and most ably organised by Richard Body. Our picture shows a certain Mr Steve Richardson vigorously washing his balls... • Meccano celebrated its 90th anniversary and to mark the occasion, launched its first ‘Beginners’ series: sets 1-4. Lots of new parts with a brighter-style box, the company had high hopes for increased sales. • A report on the European toy market 1985-1989 showed Sweden and Holland with the fastest growth at 30% and 41% respectively. The UK market only grew by 7% - not quite as bad as Italy, which declined by 1%.


September 2001 •

Norman Walker’s ‘Letter from America’ captured the enormity of 11 September 2001. The immediate effect on the toy trade was that buyers who would normally fly to Hong Kong began cancelling their flights.

As incoming chairman of the Harrogate Toy Fair, I was pleased to report that the 2002 show was now 99% full.

Binney & Smith - the owner of Crayola - sold Revell to Alpha International, which also owned such brands as ‘Buddy L’.

Channel 4’s 100 Greatest Kids Programmes placed The Simpsons at number one. Is it really a kids’ programme, we asked? Such modern classics as Teletubbies at 90, Bob the Builder at 74 and Thunderbirds at 24 seemed rather odd. While Bagpuss was placed at number four and Scooby-Doo at number eight, I just wondered who on earth voted.

September 2011 •

Sadly, Mookie Toys was forced to withdraw its first consignment of Pillow Pets. Such a shame as the product had been very well received by the trade. As usual, Trading Standard officers came into play on this. Would you believe that while it is obviously a toy, it is also a pillow? Therefore, it had to be tested to the UK Furniture and Furnishing Fire and Safety regulations. Our Toy Watcher journalist called this decision ‘a load of old tosh’.

There were an astounding 450,000 apps available from the iTunes store. More than 15 billion had been downloaded since it opened in 2008. [In July 2021 that figure is 3.1 million apps on Google Play and 2.1 million in the Apple App Store.] As a result of this, apps were slowly cementing themselves into child’s play and changing the direction of the toy trade.

Thomas the Tank Engine and Angelina Ballerina were just two well-known characters to join the growing market that the toy trade offered. Remember, this was 10 years ago!


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