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ISSUE 196

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No. 196 | July 2018

Thought processing

Editor Robert Hutchins

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rob.hutchins@futurenet.com

Sales Manager Jodie Holdway jodie.holdway@futurenet.com

Production Executive James Marinos james.marinos@futurenet.com

Designer Mandie Johnson mandie.johnson@futurenet.com

Managing Director Mark Burton mark.burton@futurenet.com

Follow us @toynews online

orrying results from a recent research paper carried out by M.I.T. found that a large number of children today believe their smart toys to be more intelligent than them. Now, I have in the past gone head to head with Anki's Cozmo and I will be the first to admit that I very much know when I am beaten, but I can't help feel a little uneasy about this revelation. The rate at which consumer technology is evolving around us is staggering, as is the speed in which this tech is finding its way into the toys children play with today. Already, powerful artificial intelligence technology is being introduced to toy ailse products in chips the size of stamps and, thanks to hand-held and mobile device technology, it is becoming increasingly cheaper to run. High-level tech will soon become ubiquitous, if it hasn't already. However, I firmly believe that it is not enough for today's children to hold it in such high regard. AI technology is a fascinating thing that applied with knowledge and understanding will lead to many great advancements in our creative industry, medical care, manufacturing and so on. It's not something to be gawped with a level of ignorance displayed by the US Senate when questioning Mark Zuckerberg. Kids need to be deconstructing this tech from an early age; gathering the skills with which they can weild technology for the betterment of all of our lives. Or to at least teach that Cozmo a bit of humility. Robert Hutchins, Editor Robert.Hutchins@futurenet.com

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COVER STORY MACHINE LEARNING P10

Contents July 2018 Features

10

BIG INTERVIEW: ROB CORNEY Th founder of Bulldog Licensing talks building successful franchises in girls' collectables.

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INTELLIGENT LIFE We take an extensive look at the evolution of technology and its place in toys and games.

22

OCEANS PLAY Public opinion is changing and the time to tak up the fight against plastic waste is now.

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AN AUTHOR YOU CAN'T REFUSE Exploring the relationship between toys and children's books, we offer a real page-turner.

Regulars Opinion 06 Dr. Simon Hayward 07 Rachel Jones 08 Gary Pope

Market Data 26 Generation Media 27 Campaign of the Month Product Guide 38 Tech toys 46 Dress up 52 Animals and play-sets Back pages 56 Industry Moves 57 Team of the Month 58 Final word

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Opinion

Health check: Is the British High Street really dying? By Dr. Simon Hayward

Is the British High Street dying? Its health is certainly under threat as major retailers including House of Fraser, M&S and Mothercare cut back their estates to survive. It is widely recognised that the British High Street needs to transform – driven by customer needs which are changing rapidly. If our high streets are going to thrive, we need to do more to anticipate and meet these customer needs and come up with some innovative ways to entice them back. When we look at some of the UK’s busiest city centre areas, we see not just retail but a combination of shops, street stalls, housing, office space, recreational facilities, cultural attractions and a range of places to eat and drink. This is achieved most successfully when retailers collaborate with other stakeholders across the private and public sectors. This collaboration can result in some innovations which are very attractive to customers, such as free Wi-Fi in city centres, excellent transport links, pedestrianized areas and festivals. There is no doubt that technology is fuelling the pace of change in today’s world and no doubt that online shopping has had an impact on high street sales. However, technology also heightens customer expectations more generally: as customers, we expect to have choice,

to have our needs met quickly and to have a positive experience. There is definitely great opportunity for high street retailers to provide customers with experiences that simply aren’t available online. To compete effectively, retailers need to become more agile. Being truly agile is not just about doing things quickly, but refocusing efforts when circumstances change, responding to changing market conditions and evolving customer needs. Marks & Spencer’s CEO Steve Rowe recognised one of its biggest challenges was ‘top-heavy, corporate culture; too many layers, too many committees.’ For UK retail to become truly agile, retail leaders need to strip out that bureaucracy. This can help you move decision-making to a more local level, closer to the customer. Some major retailers have become adept at responding to customer needs by empowering store managers to adapt their offering to local needs. They adhere to the brand values, but create an environment which suits their local customers. In the City of London, workers dashing out for lunch may value speed and efficiency. On a sunny weekend afternoon on Brighton seafront, they may prefer a more relaxed style of service and a nice spot to sit down. It is hard to predict what our customers will want next, but this unpredictability is reason for high street retailers to become more agile. If retailers can adapt to meet their customers needs they will be better placed to build sustainable success.

"Shopper unpredictability is a reason for retailers to be agile." Dr Simon Hayward is CEO of Cirrus and author of the new book, The Agile Leader, published by Kogan Page and priced at £14.99

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Dr Simon Hayward is CEO of Cirrus and author of the new book, The Agile Leader, p 27/06/2018 20:23 and priced at £14.99


Opinion

Get it in EU: How toy manufacturers can crush counterfeiters with the European Union IP Office By Rachel Jones

Any toy manufacturer importing or exporting their products should consider registering with the EUIPO Enforcement Database. This is very straightforward, and free to use, so everyone can benefit from this tremendous resource. The Enforcement Database (EDB) is a secure database used by customs and police officers throughout Europe. It helps officials recognize counterfeit goods so they may be prevented from sale, protecting brands and consumers. However, it is up to individual brands to engage with the EDB and to upload the critical information which will inform the authorities of potential counterfeit toys and products. Any toy manufacturer with a valid registered trademark or design within the European Union should do this, whether directly, or via their lawyer or other willing representative. Developed by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), the EDB connects information on the brand’s registered intellectual property rights with product details such as packaging, unique features, logistics, prior cases of infringement and contact per-

sons – all of which can be easily and securely uploaded. The EDB allows the brand (commonly referred to as the rights holder) to file an Application for Action (AFA) electronically with customs to protect products across EU borders. It also allows alerts to be triggered directly and securely among the enforcement authorities (for example if a suspect shipment had been identified before arrival). Most importantly, it simply makes the authorities aware of the brand or specific toy to be protected. This ensures that identifying features of the genuine and/ or the fake product can be accessed quickly and easily, and contact immediately made with the rights holder. The EDB is a vastly underused resource, yet one which offers toy importers and exporters, large and small, a degree of reassurance that counterfeit products travelling through the major gateways of Europe have a chance of being detected and detained. With only two per cent of containers coming through European ports being physically inspected, it is imperative that toy manufacturers do their utmost to protect supply chains at every level. Anyone advising and encouraging international trade should be aware of the EDB’s potential to help protect businesses and the economy. Similar systems exist in other countries – but none are quite so efficient as this.

"It is imperative that toy firms protect their supply chains." Rachel Jones is the CEO and founder of Snap Dragon, a firm created to help defend brands, IP and product on the global stage.

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Opinion

Top toys noise: Whose wishes are the yearly Top Toys for Christmas lists really serving? By Gary Pope

Here we are again in the midst of the list season, and before we go any further the only people I am thinking of as I write this are the children that will play with your toys. Or not, depending on the list. From June to September we are instructed by press release after press release and article after identical article as to what the ‘top toys’ of the holiday season are going to be. I’ve always wondered how these lists have been compiled. What is the thinking behind the choice of each SKU? How have the play patterns been analysed and evaluated? How have the trend forecasters integrated their thinking into the buyers’? How many children have tested each toy? How did this specific blend of playthings come to be the ten to represent a $100 billion toy industry? And perhaps most critically, to what degree is Santa in the loop? Could it be that these are the toys that retailers have bought the most of? That the sales people have paid a kings’ ransom to get listed and that the marketing team have promised to buy the most media to promote? I’ll admit to more than a wry smile when reading the list-supporting statements from various spokespeople. These statements contain no validation and no

evidence of any actual criterion that have been applied to reach these listings. A recent personal favourite was “…we’re expecting a rise in demand for toys that combine learning with fun and play.” Phew. Finally consumers are realising the need for toys that are fun, can be played with, to help children learn. We test toys a lot. We test really expensive toys and we test quite inexpensive toys. It is a fact that there are good toys and bad toys across the entire pricing spectrum. But I wonder sometimes if the toy industry forgets who it is that toys are made for. In the rush to ensure that the quarterly reporting pleases some arbitrary fund manager at the end of a squawk box in Lower Manhattan, a child in Lower Sydenham gets a toy that the parents have been assured is a Top Toy for 2018, but perhaps isn’t the right toy for them. And as the same IPs get recycled yet again with an addition here or a subtraction there, it seems prices rise, innovation suffers and play value flatlines. It does make me a little sad, if I am honest. But I am a realist and not knocking the need to drive the market, nor the method, I am just pedantic, and if something is billed as being the Top Toy then it really should be, not just the one blessed with the most TVRs or the best influencer campaign. Call me old-fashioned, but I think toys are really special and the only people that can really determine how special, are children.

"How has your top ten come to represent a $100bn industry?" Gary Pope is the co-founder of Kids Industries, an international strategu and creative agency that makes family focused brands stronger and more profitable.

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Dr Simon Hayward is CEO of Cirrus and author of the new book, The Agile Leader, p 27/06/2018 20:17 and priced at £14.99


Opinion

BTHA Briefing, Spooks and Spokes: Toy Trust Big Challenge and BTHA Day By Rebecca Deeming

It was lovely to see the industry come together for the BTHA Industry Day last week, as we were all lucky enough to listen to fascinating presentations from Dame Stella Rimington, who disclosed her experiences of leading MI5, as well as Don Williams, from KPMG UK, who provided the room with a valuable presentation on the current retail market. Companies from across the industry united for the Toy Trust Big Challenge 2018, at Marlow. This year’s main beneficiary of the Toy Trust, Over The Wall, also had a presence at the fun, family-friendly day out, where they provided entertainment for participants’ children, as well as promoting the charity’s presence. Over The Wall organises specialised activity camps for disabled and poorly children and their siblings, who are encouraged to reach beyond the perceived limitations of their illness or disability and rediscover a whole world of possibilities, helping to build their confidence, self-esteem, coping strategies and peer relationships. Thanks to the fundraising efforts from this year’s Toy Trust Big Challenge, Over The Wall will be granted £90,000 to put towards their camps and will host the

Toy Trust Health Challenge Camp in August. Congratulations to those who completed the various challenges, and a huge thank you to everyone who donated to such a worthy cause. Following the success of the sold out BTHA training seminar on PAS7100 Recall and Corrective Actions which took place in April, we will be repeating this seminar on July 17th to reach those that couldn’t make the last seminar. The seminar will be suitable for technical, marketing and senior management within BTHA member companies. The seminar is an unrivalled opportunity to learn more about the latest recall guidelines and gain tips and advice from experts on how to adopt them into your company processes, including speakers from the new Office for Product Standards and Safety. We are also hosting a free Responsible Marketing seminar for members in September, where attendees will hear from the Advertising Standards Authority, Ofcom, Media Smart and Toy Industries of Europe, regarding the latest requirements and legislation on topics affecting members such as unboxing, new regulations on gender stereotyping and more. The BTHA has a weekly e-newsletter for members circulated every Wednesday. If you’re a member and would like to sign yourself or a colleague up, please get in touch.

"The Big Challenge raised £90,000 for Over The Wall." Rebecca Deeming is the public relations manager for the British Toy and Hobby Association, the UK's authoritative body for the toy industry. .

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Big interview

BRAND MASTER GENERALS When the man who had brand managed PokĂŠmon, Yu-Gi-Oh and GoGos each to their respective runaway successes got his hands on the Shopkins licence, there really could have been only one outcome. Robert Hutchins talks to Rob Corney, founder and MD of Bulldog Licensing about the ever-growing collectables space

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S

ix years ago, if you’d told a retail buyer that by 2018 they’d be swimming in girls’ collectables brands, you’d have been laughed out of whatever building you were in. You’d be wiping their warm tea out of your eyes and told that such a thing could never happen. That’s because six years ago, the majority of buyers out there were guilty of subscribing to the perceived wisdom that girls don’t collect. Looking at the landscape today it really is representative of a true transformation for an industry that, when the NPD figures rolled in at London Toy Fair 2018 to reveal that sales had been buoyed once again by collectables across both boys’ and girls’ markets, could have found themselves feasting on their own words for a matter of weeks. While nothing is certain, the market today tells us one thing surely is evident: girls do collect. It’s not to say that people hadn’t tried to tell this story before, it’s just that until 2012, for a long time, all attempts had simply failed. “People were taking a boys’ collectables play pattern and colouring it pink – calling it a girls’ collectable,” says Rob Corney, founder and managing director of

Bulldog Licensing. “It just wasn’t working, there was nothing available that filled the market and recognised the need.” Corney, it goes without saying, is one of the best positioned across the toy and licensing markets to comment on the evolution of the girls’ collectables space, having been instrumental in the phenomenal rise and continued success of the wildly popular Shopkins franchise. If you’ve seen a young fan wearing a Shopkins dress, collecting Shopkins stickers, carrying a Shopkins bag or reading a Shopkins book, you can bet your last penny that that’s all the work of Corney (the multiple partners involved in making it all happen too, of course) and the Bulldog Licensing team; a band of licensing loving executives bent on helping to fuel fan engagement and the demand for the continued toy line upon toy line under the Shopkins brand. “It’s actually all down to Moose Toys who really did break that mould when they created and launched Shopkins. This was a genuinely designed girls’ property with a collecting play pattern and there just wasn’t anything else like it,” Corney tells ToyNews. “I knew that girls were collectors, there just wasn’t the property July 2018 | toy news | 11

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Big interview

for them at the time. When they delivered Shopkins, Moose changed all of that.” Resultantly, Shopkins has just come off the back of its third consecutive year as the number one girls’ property, and with further developments for the brand still to come, including more product lines from the likes of Top Fliers, more books and new plush from Posh Paws this autumn, Moose has “taken it to another level again.” “It’s a collectable brand, but it’s a lot more than that: it’s plush, it’s a collectable doll brand, it’s a collectable play-set and a whole universe of content from digital media to movies and everything in between,” says Corney. “And as Moose continues to keep it fresh, it brings in a new generation of kids, four years down the line.” Compared to the ghost town that the girls’ collectables market once was, today’s issue couldn’t be more of a contrast and one of the biggest challenges facing buyers today is the “huge amount of background noise being made” in that very same space. The market, suggests Corney, is largely playing catch up, chasing the opportunity that Shopkins carved those few years ago. “The issue is that many of them don’t understand the metrics, the data, or quite how cerebrally driven these things are in support of the creative process. There has to be an amazing creative, that’s what a lot of collectable brands suffer with,” says Corney, whose history with the likes Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh and GoGos has him well placed as somewhat of a specialist in the field.

“To succeed in this market, it’s got to be amazing, have the weight of a strong company behind it and have the ability to reinvent itself, just as Moose has done.” It may come as no surprise in that case that one of the latest brands to be brought into the Bulldog Licensing fold is Pikmi Pops, once again courtesy of the market’s dear friend, Moose Toys. This, as we all know, is a range of scented plush housed in lollipop casing with three skus across series one and two to get your hands on. What all of us may not know is that Pikmi Pops are selling incredibly well. In fact, they are outselling where Shopkins was at the very same point in its own lifecycle. The Moose Toys line is already in

"To succeed in this market, it's got to be amazing, have the weight of a strong company behind it and have the ablility to reinvent itself, just as Moose has done." Rob Corney, Bulldog Licensing

the top ten new products in total in the UK and has recently been crowned the number one new brand, which means it’s all looking very strong indeed. With proposals for books, magazines, softlines as well as stationery and puzzles all awaiting their final signatures, Pikmi Pops is “echoing every success seen with Shopkins; with the creative and strength of team behind it that will bring repeat calls to action,” says Corney. “It ticks every box.” So could it be the next Shopkins? Absolutely not, says the licensing expert. Nothing can be. And it’s just not responsible licensing to say so. Corney explains: “A lot of people are launching into the market saying ‘we’re going to do what Shopkins did.’ We won’t do that and I don’t think it is ever responsible licensing to come in and say ‘we have the next Pokémon.’ Nobody has the next Pokémon, there’s never going to be the next Pokémon and it just isn’t responsible to persuade people to part with cash on the back of something you can never be.” Instead, Corney lays out, Pikmi Pops is a different property entirely. A very strong one in its own right with a cross-over in the targeted consumer, but one that will “actually sit comfortably alongside Shopkins.” “It’s got a huge amount of potential and we are very excited about it.”

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Just where they are going to sit side by side, is another matter. It’s no secret that over the last decade or so, the retail mix has changed dramatically. Over the last seven months, it’s gone up another notch. We won’t recount the number of Toys R Us stores now finding themselves being churned through the recycling plant; it’s a heart-breaking reality to continually drag up. However, what does need to be said is echoed in Corney’s own sentiment, and that is, it’s no more dramatic than the activities of 2007 with the loss of Woolworths and Past-Times. Maybe it’s a cyclical path that retail follows? At least today, enthuses Corney, conversations with and access to buyers is a lot more open. And what that means, he continues, is that retail is better placed to react to the ever-shifting consumer habits. “12 to 15 years ago, it was impossible [for licensing agents] to see a retail buyer,” he says. “These days, we spend most of our time with them. I think they have come to recognise

that before it was seen as ‘you’re not trying to sell me something, so what’s the point of meeting?’ Now it is recognised that we, as a licensing agency working with some of the biggest brands in children’s entertainment industries, bring information about these brands to the table. We bring the chance to facilitate instore theatre and funding to put in place to help drive their footfall and sales.” Corney and the Bulldog Team implemented this model with The Entertainer around the Angry Birds Movie the first time around to huge success. “The conversations we had with them was back and forth, they relayed sales figure increases around key in store activity implemented

by us, and it worked phenomenally well. This is the next stage of evolution for retail.” This time around, with Angry Birds Movie 2 on the horizon, the plan is to repeat this method of working again. It’s the next step in evolution for the retail space, says Corney, after all. “The Entertainer is already there, and a number of retailers are moving in that same direction with teams in place to engage with the licensing people, meaning we can build well in advance, the opportunity to engage with the consumer base.” Those of you reading this understand The Entertainer well enough to know that it will succeed. It’s a retailer that, when it comes to consumer engagement, rarely falters. But will this be enough to pull all retail from its current slump of despair? Take it from the man who foresaw the return of the girls’ collectable market and we could all be laughing together. July 2018 | toy news | 13

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AI Toys and Games

INTELL

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IGENT LIFE Artificial Intelligence has become ubiquitous among modern life, from driverless cards to Voice technology, and more and more it is creeping into the way we play today. Robert Hutchins takes a deep dive into the topic of technological evolution in the toy space

I

t’s interesting to think of VHS as a vital step in the evolutionary scale of technology. In fact, anything you have to shove a pencil (or any rudimentary tool, come to that) into from time to time and give ‘a crank’ in order to get it working, by today’s standards, is practically prehistoric.

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AI Toys and Games However, time was it was with glee that audiences would feed such technology into the mouths of their video players and watch the image flicker and whirr to life on a TV set that would likely kill them if it were dropped from any kind of height. Today’s tablets are much safer in that regard, and if the 1990s was the era of the VHS and one of board gaming’s first real introduction to tech – we remember games such as Mattel’s Atmosfear and earlier still, Milton Bradley’s The Dark Tower – then it only makes sense that we find the board game titles of the 21st Century exploring new regions of development through virtual reality and even artificial intelligence. As that timeline suggests, it is in our nature to explore new technological possibilities and – just us our predecessors did so with video – find new means of bringing that into the way we play today. If we focus on board gaming specifically for the time being, the lines of distinction between analogue gaming and digital gaming are becoming ever increasingly blurred. Asmodee Digital, for instance, the aptly named digital arm of the board and hobby game behemoth Asmodee, has made no bones about its plans to take its popular

analogue titles to the pixelated platform. Its most recent announcement was around its plans to bring Carcassonne to the Nintendo Switch, while Settlers of Catan has leapt into the new age with Catan VR. It’s far from the only company to be combining traditional methods of board gaming with the expanding world of tech. The UK’s Sensible Object has just received a further round of funding to continue its exploration of Amazon Alexa as it brings voice technology to the tabletop through titles such as When In Rome, while even Hasbro is at it, with the likes of Monopoly Ultimate Banking. Such is the explosion in the field that it has even initiated research papers, doctorates and practical studies into the fusion of analogue gaming and emerging tech,

Dr Sam Illingworth

“With such rapid development in digital technologies, it is an exciting time to be thinking about the role these technologies play within analogue games." Dr Sam Illingworth, Co-Founder Games Research Network encompassing virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence. One such team of experts in this area is Manchester Metropolitan University’s scientific duo, Dr Sam Illingworth, senior lecturer in science communication and Paul Wake, reader in English. Together, they are the co-founders of the Games Research Network, a research group with a focus on analogue and digital gaming, and the intersection between the two. Most recently, the pair has secured funding to open a PhD study into the implementation of AI in analogue board gaming. “With such rapid development in digital technologies, it is an exciting time to be

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thinking about the role these technologies play within analogue games. Whether it be in the development of hybrid games such as Mansions of Madness and Monopoly Ultimate Banker, the appearance of analogue classics such as Catan in the realm of virtual reality, or the translation of born-digital games such as Dark Souls into a purely analogue format, there is a great deal to consider,” Illingworth tells ToyNews. “Artificial Intelligence is ubiquitous at the moment. From advances in medicine to driverless cars, AI will have a significant impact on both work and leisure for current and future generations,” adds Wake. “But it is important not to overstate exactly what AI is and is not capable of. Part of the role of academic research is to explore questions such as this, and we believe that by considering the parameters of AI in analogue board games, we might better hope to understand the challenges and opportunities that are afforded by its development.” Ten years ago, you’d be forgiven for thinking this the chatter best reserved for an episode of Star Trek. Today however, AI is already at play in the board gaming space. Temple Gates’ Race for the Galaxy, for example, started out as a research project itself, but is now being used by the games developers in the digital version of the game, as well as to potentially develop the game in the analogue space. Together, Illingworth and Wake have embarked on a journey to better understand that area in which the lines of distinction between analogue and digital gaming

Paul Wake

are becoming ever more the blurred. But what does it all mean for the developers, retailers and ultimately the end consumer themselves? With such crossover and this expanding conceptualised field of ‘connected play’, is board gaming a space in danger of cannibalisation?

Illingworth doesn’t believe so. “There’s definitely room for both,” he says. “People will want the tactility and social interactions that come from playing board and card games in the physical format, and digital adaptations don’t necessarily replace this, but they do make them easily adaptable.” A good example, he suggests, is Days of Wonder’s Small World, a game that in the analogue world takes 40 to 80 minutes to play, but on tablet, takes a mere 15 to 20. “So it is important to remember that these are different and complementary experiences,” Wake continues on the point. “Furthermore, as a greater number of people discover analogue games through their digital equivalents on computers, tablets and smart phones, we predict that the analogue games market will continue to grow, as new audiences are introduced to the wonders of gaming.” Wake’s point is a nail struck firmly on the head. The tech experience is wholly a different environment to the analogue play. July 2018 | toy news | 17

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It ultimately begs the question: what need is there for such exploration if it doesn’t fundamentally benefit the playability of both board games and toys, and enhance the child’s or user’s overall playing experience? That is a question quickly answered by Sensible Object’s head of marketing, sales and growth, Alex Bertie. “We believe there is a huge opportunity for digital platforms to add exciting new layers to the pleasure of sitting down with friends and family to play a game together. “Technology is such an all-encompassing word and it opens up so many different avenues for game designers to explore: hardware, software, screen, audio, AR, VR or even new kinds of materials – so it definitely opens up a host of creative possibilities that have the potential to appeal to both existing board game fans and to open up new markets.” Sensible Object is no stranger to varying degrees of kickback from the pockets of traditionalists in both the board gaming and toy markets. At a recent discussion panel held at UK Games Expo, the question ‘What place does Amazon Alexa have in board gaming?’ was met with high percentage of naysayers. Despite this, the firm has found encouragement from investors and tech developers, as well as audiences, in its continued push to find a rightful home for this level of technology in play. Well may you ask, why the persistence? Let’s take a look at some numbers for that answer. According to Juniper Research, the

connected play space is projected to grow 200 per cent over the next five years. Within that sphere, smart toys will represent an $18 billion hardware and software market by 2023. That’s up from an estimated $6 billion in 2018. It’s not an area occupied solely by the start-up industry, either, with some rather big names attached to it. “Hasbro has continued to explore different technologies and experiences across its product line, for example,” explains Valerie Vacante, executive collaborator at Collabsco. “The Angry Birds Star Wars Telepods or Transformers Telepods lines incorporated the greatest hits of Hasbro: entertainment, gaming and characters that kids know and love. While the likes of Sphero and

Osmos continue to innovate and break new boundaries in the development of connected play.” Spin Master, WowWee and a plethora of others are all there, too. Meanwhile, Illingworth highlights that tech such as AR is an ideal mode of making gaming more accessible, both in cost and portability, citing the “global phenomenon that was Pokémon Go” and the “recent success of Tippett Studio’s Hologrid: Monster Battle” as indicators that “this is an avenue that feels ripe for development.” “If games designers manage to create an experience that feels integrated rather than disjointed, then we see this as being a fantastic new arena for analogue board gaming in the future,” he adds. It would seem that there is a definite

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market for big brands as well as start-ups in this evolving tech space, and it makes sense that Sensible Object – among a number of others - is keen to place themselves firmly within it. Its latest title, When In Rome is the first launch in the company’s planned wider Voice Originals brand, an outfit dedicated to exploring the potential of Voice technology in play. The flagship game integrates Alexa for several features such as sound effects, keeping track of progress and teaching players the rules of the game. It also introduces players to locals in cities (played by voice actors) around the world through trivia questions. Adding to this, the firm is also working on music licensing with local artists to bring new elements into the game. “The possibilities really are infinite,” adds Bertie. “We’re very attracted to Voice right now because smart speakers tend to be centrally located in the home and used by the whole family. They’re ambient and communal in a way that mobiles and tablets are not.” If ever a single word were to summarise the approach that Sensible Object takes towards this growth of the connected play landscape it is that of ‘communal.’ The company is not shy of sharing its initiatives and concepts with the wider playscape and, in fact, has hinted at potential plans to make its toolkit for creative board games with virtual assistants such as Alexa or Google Assistant available to third-party creative. And of those communities investing the heaviest and innovating the furthest, it falls upon the UK to take the accolade of leaders in the field. It’s not by accident that the North of England is dubbed the Tech Powerhouse as it includes several clusters around Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Rotherham, Leeds, Hull, Sunderland and Newcastle that, combined, boasts a value of £9.9bn. “The UK is home to some of the brightest minds in the industry,” enthuses Vacante. “It is a solid market to experiment with in research and product development. It is a diverse and smaller market and things can move fast and grow here as it allows companies to get the kinks out and find a solid model to build from before ‘going big’ stateside.” It’s a nice testament to take on board as we face the economic uncertainty of a messy Brexit, at least. But what are we saying here? That as a country of creative developers we should clear the path for the perpetuated evolution of technology in products that at some point in time will become quicker and smarter than the audience it’s intended for? There’s a piece of dystopian imagery for you, yet if you’ve ever played a round – and lost – to Anki’s Cozmo, not a totally unrecognisable reality. A recent study conducted by researchers at MIT discovered that kids actually believe AI toys and devices to be smarter than they are. “This is the opposite of what technology toys are supposed to be doing,” states Ross Atkin, the mind behind the AI enabled cardboard root, Smartibot. “They should be July 2018 | toy news | 19

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AI Toys and Games

helping kids really understand how technology works. “This is important, obviously for those that will work with technology, but even those that don’t will need to understand it, if they are going to participate in democratic decisions about how it is used. “By the time today’s kids are adults they will be grappling with all kinds of questions about how AI is used in policing, healthcare, the military. We don’t want them approaching these issue with ignorance.” It’s exactly why Atkin started out on his project to deliver a range of AI integrated toys that were accessible for children by creating an open-ended creative experience that sees them construct their robot from the ground upwards in an effort to break down the ‘perceived barrier between children and their technological toys.’ “We’ve seen a huge amount of activity focused on toys that get kids to code in the last few years,” he continues. “There has been everything from products to teach pre-schoolers algorithmic thinking, to initiatives like the BBC Micro:bit, a small programmable circuit board that was handed out to every 11 year old in the UK. “But technology is moving really fast and

“By the time today's kids are adults they will be grappling with questions about how AI is used in policing, healthcare, the military. We don't want them approaching these issues with ignorance.” Ross Atkin, The Crafty Robot we are realising that understanding how to work with AI is going to be just as important as coding when these kids enter the workplace.” Now, he enthuses, is a great time to start the process of playing with AI in toys. After all, powerful AI is beginning to run on chips in smartphones or inside of a toy itself, “allowing, for the first time, for the toy to understand what is happening around it quickly enough to be fun to play with.” “AI can make almost any toy more fun to

play with, and is reaching the point where it can run in chips that are very cheap. Because of this, it’s not unreasonable to imagine AI finding its way into every battery-operated toy; as the chips it would run inside already have. There is even scope for AI to affect non-battery operated toys, as Sensible Object’s board game itself shows.” Where does the industry go from here then? The DCMS reports that the £92bn creative industries sector is growing at twice the rate of the overall economy, meaning that the need to get today’s children confident with technology is greater than ever. The role the toy industry has to play in this regard, according to Ed Barton, CEO and co-founder of the AR consumer product developer, Curiscope, is in “the mainstream integration of tech and play.” “Right now, connected toys are a subset, but I think long-term, the expectation from kids will be that all toys are connected in some way and enhanced by tech,” he says. “There’s going to be a bit of VR in there, a bit of AR, some AI, some robotics; a complete mash-up. “But the common thread will be that toys will be more tech enabled than not.” July 2018 | toy news | 21

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28/06/2018 19:41


Plastics and oceans

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Plastics and oceans

TURNING THE TIDE Public opinion is on the turn and some of the world’s most powerful corporations are starting to follow; so is now the right time to start reflecting on the use of plastic once again? Robert Hutchins explores

I

n the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang sits the world’s largest wholesale market for small commodities, with more than 70,000 booths that sell everything from inflatable pools to plastic toy seagulls. It’s called the Yiwu International Trade City and it’s one of the many thousands of sites in the country that facilitate its claim as the largest producer of plastic in the world. China accounts for more than a quarter of the global total amount of the stuff produced each year, a number that in 2015, hit 448 million tons.

Meanwhile, in European coastal waters there lives a species of tiny shrimplike crustacean called the Orchestia gammarellus that chomps its way through plastic waste and spits out (from either end) a new scourge of the sea: microscopic fragments of plastic that has been dubbed ‘micoplastics.’ It’s one of the largest contributing factors to the summisation that actually, nobody really does know exactly how much plastic waste is in our oceans. It’s estimated to sit at 6.3 billion tons. Scientists at the University of Georgia have tried to break that down further

Photo by Dustan Woodhouse on Unsplash

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Plastics and Oceans

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

and today suspect that the amount of unrecycled plastic that ends up in our oceans each year sits anywhere between 5.3 million and 14 million tons. The effect that plastic waste is having on our oceans is becoming of increasing concern to much of the global population, from researchers in labs or out in the field, to consumers themselves, thanks to rallying cries for change and attention from some of the world’s biggest influencers. David Attenborough’s own campaigning has cast the issue into the limelight recently, while no one can deny the impact of images of suffocating animals aired by the BBC in shaping a new mode of thought among modern consumers. More and more, we are shifting away from that concept of ‘throwaway living’ - the one that was conjured so vividly in the mid 1950s amid the consumer plastics explosion – and towards a more sustainable lifestyle. There are even those in the industry that believe it is slowly starting to filter down into the buying habits around toys.

“Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of how their purchasing of a product is but a small part in the lifecycle of that product.” Daria Dubets “Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of how their purchasing of a product is but a small part in the lifecycle of that product,” Daria Dubets, company director at UGears Mechanical Models explains. “The public increasingly understands the complexities of supply chains as well as the damage that products can create once they are disposed of. The acceleration of change in consumer beliefs is unprecedented, thanks in no small part to the internet.”

Five years ago, she goes on to explain, the concept of a ‘flexitarian’ was almost unheard of, yet today, one in ten millennials are vegetarian or vegan and meat consumption is decreasing for health reasons as well as ethical reasons. These are the new consumers of today, and they are bringing their ethics with them. “Millenials are the coming generation of young parents and they will be looking to reflect their moral and ethical choices in their purchases, especially those which their children will interact with,” Dubets continues. “As such, everyone from designers and manufacturers to retailers will need to respond to this demand. “We have seen doll manufacturers respond to calls for more diversity of race and body shapes. For manufacturers whose toys are not based around people, sustainability is going to become a similar driving force. Today’s marketplace has made sustainability a talking point and a selling point for toys brands.” There’s no denying the validity of those

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Plastics and oceans point. This is well and truly a topic being brought into discussion within the toy trade more and more. Earlier this year, creative minds from across the children’s book author community grouped together to create Authors4Oceans, a campaign to educate and aid in the mission for cleaner oceans through a series of targeted initiatives that among them include a call to stem the estimated amount of plastic waste produced from children’s magazine giveaway concepts. According to research and deductions carried out by the author of the popular title Down to the Sea in Ships, Horatio Clare, 3,000 tons of plastic waste is generated via the kind of toys that are used as enticers for the magpie-eyed children’s audience. He calls it ‘plastic toy tat,’ a term that encompasses things like plastic animals, dinosaurs, stethoscopes or plastic tiaras, the kind of items that the author goes on to state become little more than ‘landfill,’ once they have played their part in encouraging children to pick up the magazine and securing the sale. In an interview with The Bookseller, he was quoted as saying that the content in the magazines themselves, the kind published by the likes of Egmont and Redan Publishing, are ‘terrific.’ “[It’s] designed to support early years learning, giving help with shapes, spelling, figures, puzzle solving, word searches, spotting the difference, facts about nature and they print lots of enjoyable stories,” he said. “The problem is that all the big sellers come loaded with toy-tat. It’s the worst kind of disposable plastic, designed only to catch the eye. You can get up to 11 free gifts per magazine, but call it three on average. That’s three million throwaways a week and 150 million a year.” Egmont has responded to the call from Clare and the Authors4Oceans movement and stated that it was at the ‘top of its agenda’, but Clare’s estimated figure of 3,000 tons of plastic waste generated by these initiatives is considered by many as a very conservative one. Globally, 18 per cent of plastic is recycled, up from nearly zero in 1980 and actually, of the different kinds of plastics in use in the consumer market, High density polyethylene, the kinds used for good such as milk bottles, garden furniture and toys,

is the easiest to recycle. Which is just as well, because HDPE contributes 14 per cent to the total global plastic waste problem. It has to be said that plastics are not inherently bad (nylon fabrics, on the other hand, are among the most difficult materials to recycle and another story altogether…) this industry certainly wouldn’t be the better without them, and take a look at some of our greatest feats in engineering that simply wouldn’t be possible without them; flight and medical advancement among them. And then there’s packaging. UNEP, the United Nations Environment Programme believes that by 2050, by weight, oceans will contain more plastics than fish. Meanwhile, a report from The World Economic Forum and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation suggests that its single use means that 95 per cent of plastic packaging material – worth £80 to $120 billion annually – is lost to the economy. Where money leads, corporations follow and a number are now responding to the changing opinions of consumers. Coca-Cola has announced its goal to ‘collect and recycle the equivalent of 100 per cent of its packaging by 2030, while PepsiCo and Unilever have pledged to convert to 100 per cent reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging by 2025. LEGO and Hasbro have made similar pledges too, perhaps setting a new precedent for smaller companies to begin exploring avenues outside of China’s plastic. It’s worth noting that this is an eventuality

we might all need to face at some point, dependent on the whim of the United States’ President Trump and th level of trade tensions felt between the US and China. UGears’ Dubets also believes that logistically, now is the right time to be looking elsewhere, too. “In terms of sustainability, toy manufacturers should definitely look at manufacturing options outside of China because of the environmental cost associated with shipping,” she says. “Plastic toys are a comparatively new invention, up until the 80s the majority of toys were made of metal or wood. There are definitely benefits to working in plastic related to durability, weight and colour, however manufacturers shouldn’t be afraid to experiment with new materials.” Pressure to do so is mounting, though so far, does not extend much further than what is aesthetically pleasing. Or does it? Remember those plastic munching shrimplike crustaceans we mentioned at the start of this article? Yes, they’d be a good solution to the floating mountains of plastic bags in our oceans, but to what cost? Tiny fragments of plastic continue to harm marine life, including the fish that we eat. Scientists has recorded cases of examining fish brought from local markets to find them packed full of microplastics at a cellular level. The potential harm this could cause to the humans who eat them is yet to be uncovered, but doubtless there will be a race to find an alternative to plastics when that bombshell is eventually dropped. July 2018 | toy news | 25

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Generation Media

MAY I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION? Sangita Sivansen We know kids watch more TV over the holidays, but with multiple screen viewing increasing, just how engaged are they? Generation Media’s Sangita Sivansen analyses the question Source BARB May 2018

T

he school holidays, whether it be Easter break or the May and October half terms are pivotal periods for toys and games advertisers. Looking at the May half term just gone, there was a total of 94 toy and games brands on air across commercial kids’ channels – a 15 per cent increase vs. the May half term in 2017. It is common to see an influx of advertisers coming on air during this key period to get their brands as much face time as possible – and all for good reason. That reason being that kids are watching significantly more TV during school breaks versus term time. CH’s Eq. impacts across commercial kids’ channels increased by 27 per cent across the May half term week compared to the previous week (w/c May 21st). Following through to the week after half term (w/c June 4th), CH’s Eq. impacts went on to fall by 21 per cent, clearly demonstrating the commercial attraction attached to the half term week. However, even with the peak in viewing during half term, we must address the important question, how engaged are kids when watching TV now days? With the range of technology devices available at their disposal, screen-stacking poses a growing threat to linear TV viewing with 59 per cent of kids aged seven to ten

claiming to go online while watching TV. That's a lot of multi-screening going on. What this means for advertisers is that it is not only becoming increasingly difficult to hold their audiences’ undivided attention, but also increasingly difficult to cut through the clutter and stand out due to the high advertising demand on Kids’ TV – particularly during key periods such as the May half term. Coupled with the decline in viewing on commercial kids’ channels, we have seen year to date (-10 per cent decline in CH Eq. impacts Jan-May YoY), it is becoming increasingly important for toys and games advertisers to understand the digital environment and how best to engage with their audiences across multiple platforms. While TV still remains the choice media for toys and games advertisers to reach their core audiences, due to TV advertising remaining the most cost-effective way to generate mass awareness across a short period – advertisers and agencies need to be integrating other media solutions into the mix and implementing cross media strategies if they want to keep their audiences engaged with their brands and products. For more information, please contact Sangita Sivansen, account manager at Generation Media.

ToyNews PlayTime is provided by Generation Media 0207 307 7900 | www.generationmedia.co.uk

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Campaign of the month

PAWS ON PATROL PAWS for thought as Spin Master launches the PAW Patrol Little Heroes PAW Awards 2018

P

AW Patrol, the number one preschool property produced by Spin Master Entertainment, and Nick Jr’s number one rate TV show, is celebrating real-life little heroes across the country in the inaugural PAW Patrol Little Heroes PAW Awards 2018. Launched in May at the UK’s dog-friendly music festival, PDSAA PetLife ’18, the eight awards champion little ones who deserve to be recognised for the challenges they have faced in their lives and how they have touched the lives of others. Whether they have overcome adversity, shown outstanding bravery, gone over and above for a friend in need, shown maturity beyond their years or supported their pet in times of trouble, the awards, based on the unique personalities of the pups, will celebrate children’s real-life stories. The awards also include the Ryder Award for Pet Hero of the Year in association with charity partner, leading veterinary charity PDSA. This special award will recognise a child who has been an outstanding support to their pet either in times of trouble, change or has a pet who has helped others. The eight lucky finalists – due to be announced later this month – will spend the weekend at the Gloworm Festival with a very special VIP glamping experience this summer. They will attend the exclusive awards ceremony to receive their certificate and medal straight from the paws of Chase, Marshall, Rubble and Skye, and have fun in the PAW Patrol Action Zone among lots of other activities. Runners up will receive the latest PAW Patrol toys from the Mission PAW line. The awards programme is supported by extensive marketing and PR activities and include The Rubble Award for Overcoming Adversity, the Skye Award for Outstanding

Bravery, the Marshall Award for Unwavering Loyalty to Others, the Rocky Award for Helping the Community, the Chase Award for Leading by Example, the Everest Award

for Inspiring Friendship, the Zuma Award for Showing Maturity Beyond their Years and the Ryder Award for PDSA Pet Hero of the Year. July 2018 | toy news |27

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Children's books

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Children's books

AN AUTHOR YOU CAN'T REFUSE The UK children’s book market is booming, with reported year on year growth in the double digits over the last three years. With such strength of market, it’s little wonder it’s become the staple of the children’s entertainment space. Robert Hutchins explores the sector

W

hen Warhammer announced at the tail end of this year’s Licensing Expo that together with its publishing partner Black Library, it was moving the franchise into children’s fiction, a real divide among fans was established. The aggrieved clashed with the company's defenders on the hallowed battleground known as Twitter for some of the bloodiest spats and exchanges of words you’ve July 2018 | toy news | 29

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2018

Our 2018 features list is available and with it a new chance for you to sign up and get involved in the industry’s leading and most read publication.

Get in touch with anything you’d like to see us cover in ToyNews Contact Rob on rob.hutchins@futurenet.com and for advertising opportunities get in touch with Jodie Holdway on jodie.holdway@futurenet.com

www.toynews-online.biz ToyNewsHouseAd July 2018_v1.indd 1

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Children's books

probably ever cared to scroll past in relative haste. While so many other things are blown up and over complicated the second they hit social media, the argument here remained very simple. Why on Earth (or not Earth…) was the Warhammer franchise shifting focus and attempting to introduce a new ilk of reader into its grisly (albeit fantastical) dystopia of bloodshed? Warhammer is no Clifford the Big Red Dog, went the argument, and has no place on the bookshelves of eight year olds. Yet that’s exactly what Games Workshop and the Warhammer franchise, with the aid of Black Library, is doing with the launch of Warhammer Adventure Novels; targeting the eight to 12 year old market. The answer to the question ‘why?’ can be put quite simply. Here you go: Last year, over 160 million children’s books were sold worldwide. 70 per cent of sales in the children’s market came from children’s fiction, picture books, novelty and activity books. “Middle-grade fiction is huge at the moment, so publishers are releasing a lot of stories and adventures for children in that eight to 12 bracket,” the Bookseller’s children’s editor, Charlotte Eyre tells ToyNews. The children’s books space is a big marketplace, and if there’s anything that the Games Workshop-owned Warhammer franchise has become very proficient at over the last year or so, it’s identifying big marketplaces through licensing, and then moving into them. Of course, to answer our question with a little more heart, we can turn to the official statement put out by Games Workshop upon the announcement earlier this year. According to Games Workshop licensing manager, Alexander Thierne, “learning to enjoy reading, discovering the wonderful richness that books can provide, is an important step for children,” to which he added that Warhammer Adventure Novels “open a special window into the fascinating worlds of Warhammer and will help to create even more fans of the brand in the future.” As a bibliophile, I will champion this intent all day, but as the editor of a trade magazine, you start to spot the business opportunities, too. Boil it all down and what Warhammer has done here is position itself nicely in a market that at the end of 2016

"Middle-grade fiction is huge at the moment, so publishers are releasing a lot of stories and adventures for children in that eight to 12 bracket." Charlotte Eyre - Bookseller's Children's Editor totalled £394 million in sales of physical titles, while securing a fan following for its own franchise now worth around £219 million, £10 million of which is from accrued licensing royalties. Books are big business and children’s books are bigger business still. And within that sphere, licensing is playing an increasingly greater role. You don’t need this article to point out the likes of Paddington Bear, Winnie the

Pooh, Harry Potter or those hundreds of other titles that have made the business of transitioning from page to screen, shelf or stage seem like a multi-billion pound walk in the park. And visa-versa. In fact, it’s the likes of Paddington (now in its 60th year since its first publication, A Bear Called Paddington) or Harry Potter (now the centre of a growing Wizarding World franchise hatched by J K Rowling and Warner Bros.) that seems to have ignited a new taste for taking children’s books IP out into the world of licensing. “The publishing world brings what the TV world doesn’t,” Vicky Hill, brand licensing manager at Bulldog Licensing tells ToyNews. "Where the TV world is its own worst enemy – if something isn’t licensed within three years, everyone thinks something is wrong with it, but if you go too soon, you haven’t got the audience. “Publishing is not viewed in the same way. It has the same scale, often times better, and much better touchpoints. Books sit on shelves, you can physically see a book at any point, in your room, you can touch July 2018 | toy news | 31

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Children's books

it. They are seen as a safer market with a far greater stability than TV.” A TV series, it is said, has a shelf-life, as well as the necessity to be across a number of platforms in varying sizes of content. Books do not often stray from their given, ever-green format. The e-reading movement, once a key concern for publishers in the physical book space, failed to take off for the reason that, according to The Bookseller’s Eyre, include the facts that “younger readers are encouraged by parents and teachers to read paper, and that older kids simply don’t want to read e-books; they prefer print.” And the combination appears to have led us to this moment. Bulldog Licensing’s Hill continues: “It’s been overlooked for years as TV is seen as stronger, but retailers are seeing the strength of book IP and that is being recognised.” Bulldog Licensing has recently picked up the hugely popular children’s book series, That’s Not My… a run of pre-school titles

"Books sit on shelves, you can physically see a book at any point, in your room, you can touch it. They are seen as a safer market with a far greater stability than television." Vicky Hill - Bulldog Licensing

published by Usborne, the largest independent children’s publisher in the UK. The range of touchy-feely books span That’s Not My Rabbit, to 2017’s perennial favourite, That’s Not My Unicorn and as a series have sold in excess of five million in the UK. Worldwide, it’s sold more than 20 million. And here’s a fact for you: the author is more

popular than Dan Brown has ever been. Fiona Watt is the fourth biggest selling children’s author in the UK and eighth in the UK among authors across all markets. Here’s another fact for you: the That’s Not My… series helped Usborne Publishing to a record year for sales in 2017. “2017 was a record year for Usborne’s sales in the UK,” Boyd Denton, UK sales and marketing manager at Usborne tells ToyNews. “This was a result of a number of factors, particularly the continuing unicorn trend – That’s Not My Unicorn was the best-selling baby book of 2017. “In 2019 we hope to see a significant increase within the toy space for That’s Not My… due to some licensing activity in the pipeline. We hope that this licensing activity will lead to the books being sold alongside the toy ranges.” That licensing activity will be delivered through Bulldog, and already the licensing agency has secured partnerships in toys, puzzles, dress-up and baby wear.

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Children's books

“We alighted on the idea of That’s Not My… about a year ago,” continues Bulldog’s Hill. “We were looking at our own portfolio and where to expand; the area we were lacking in was pre-school. “The pre-school market, in terms of very high profile brands, is a bit of a grave yard. When you’re trying to be number one and you don’t quite make it, you’re nowhere. So, we were looking for a brand that could hit the market and be there forever more, with a phenomenal rate of sale and not a flash in the pan. We have that with That’s Not My…” For Usborne, everything is going to plan. Last year was its biggest in the UK and already the publisher has seen a “solid start to the new financial year.” According to Denton, 2019 is looking strong too in terms of big sub brands and key partners. Towards the firm’s optimistic outlook for another record year, licensing plays no small part. “Licensing our IP is a significant step we can take to leverage ourselves within the toy trade,” he says. “We successfully launched a range of baby apparel in Mothercare for That’s Not My, and we will be launching clothing in a couple of other well-known retailers with toys to follow. “Then, once we have established our

new characters Poppy and Sam, we are confident we can extend into other product ranges through licensing.” In case you’re wondering, Poppy and Sam are the title characters of a recent string of successful titles from Usborne, spanning Fingerprint Activity, Magic Painting and Sticker books. The firm’s lead title for March 2019 is Poppy and Sam’s Easter Egg Hunt, a predicted spring best-seller. Activity books remain an evergreen category within the pre-school sector, as well as the interactive, touchy-feely titles. Take that reading age slightly higher, however, and some definite new trends start to appear. “Feminism and

books about strong women are still hugely popular, and publishers are always looking to publish more diversely, whether that be in fiction or non-fiction,” continues The Bookseller’s Eyre. Among the most popular of these is the Sarah & Bendrix Kids Little People, Big Dreams book series that includes titles

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Children's books

Maya Angelou and Frida Kahlo by Isabel Sanchez Vegara. It details the life of the scientist turned artist in an accessible way for children. Kahlo – seen as an emblem of the recent and long-coming movement to recognise and empower women – has been the focus of a wider licensing strategy herself that, conceptualised by the Frida Kahlo Corporation, has seen the public figure’s imagery appear across clothing, high end fashion, and most notably and most relevantly, among Mattel’s line up of Inspiring Women Barbie dolls. Yes, the toymaker found itself in hot water with Kahlo’s descendants for

‘betraying the essence of Frida’ by ‘eliminating her signature unibrow, lightening her eyes and thinning her lips,’ and yes, there is still dispute over who exactly owns the rights to Kahlo’s image (the daughter of Frida’s niece is staking a claim), but the intent “to bring Frida to new generations” can’t be faulted. If nothing else, it’s a positive step towards seeing book shop shelf space being given over to lesser-known authors and publishers. Because, like the toy industry, the children’s book industry faces shrinking shelf space. “Supermarkets and Amazon are the big sellers at the moment,” says Eyre. “This is having an effect on what is being sold because supermarkets only take a small amount of stock, so they just take the big seller. This is why you end up with top ten charts which only feature a few names – David Walliams, JK Rowling, Julia Donaldson and Axel Sheffler.” However – and once again, mirroring the toy and licensing space – the topic of personalisation has been drawn upon as one method of broadening the readers’ scope of fiction. Wonderbly is the publishing outfit behind the highly popular range of personalised books called Lost My Name that, since launching in 2012, has sold over 2.7 million books in over 200 countries around the world, spanning different languages, too. Why so popular? Well Wonderbly, the firm explains itself, takes personalisation to a whole new level, featuring stories

“Recent years have shown that with all the increased digital innovation, it is the good old printed picture book that not only retained its value, but growth is due mainly to the purchase of printed works.” Asi Sharabi, Wonderbly CEO and co-founder

that’s narratives change based on the name of and data on the child it is about. “The UK children’s books market is booming,” Asi Sharabi, Wonderbly co-founder and CEO tells ToyNews. “But I don’t think it is a particularly innovative sector. Wonderbly set out to take the very underwhelming personalised books market to a completely new level. “Recent years have shown that with all the increased digital innovation, it is the good old printed picture book that not only retained its value, but growth is due mainly to the purchase of printed works.” And this is what Wonderbly delivers. But more. Its books, says Sharabi, are always co-created by the customers and

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Children's books

are infused with data – personal, practical, educational, artistic and emotional. “The combination of individual data (customer IP) and unique products (our IP) is enabled by technology with the result being a one of a kind, personal product. We believe that there are many benefits and payoffs to personal publishing and we intend to find them and deliver on all of them in time.” It’s most likely already obvious that Wonderbly is not a small minded company. Many of you may also already know that the publisher has signed with the anima-

tion studio Sixteen South to develop an animated TV series based on its hit title. “With a set of over 50 magical, fantastical characters, we want to create the first entertainment franchise built from the ground up for an era of personalised, empathetic storytelling through publishing, TV, online content and licensed product,” explains Sharabi. “Our original Lost My Name book has been the top selling picture book in the world in the past few years. Over 3.5 million books have been sold in 12 languages and shipped to over 190 countires. We feel

that with the golden age of content driven by the SVODs (e.g. Netflix, Amazon, Hulu) we have the opportunity to pursue a longterm franchise strategy with this hugely successful IP.” Not only is it wonderful sentiment for the children’s book space; a market that will continue to be invested in and innovated within, but it gloriously supports the argument with which this article opened: that more and more, book IP is looking towards the licensing space. Will it be to the detriment of the wonder and imagination of the storytelling that children’s books do so well? Not likely, suggest The Bookseller’s Eyre, who argues that authors simply want to tell their stories. Meanwhile, Wonderbly’s Sharabi attests that his firm “will approach licensing in the most selective and responsible way possible, with the goal of building a long-term sustainable brand.” It’s good news really; children's books, it promises, will never be viewed as a cash cow while licensing will continue to hold a pedigree; it means fan’s engagement with the universe created around their favourite titles will only deepen, while the medium that pulled them into it promises to remain as artful as it has ever been. Even if that does involve a significant amount of bloodletting and Orc-slaying by the time you’ve got to page five. July 2018 | toy news | 35

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Euromonitor

GENERATION GAMES: THE ENTERTAINMENT AND RETAIL OUTLOOK FOR 2021 When Nintendo launched its Nintendo Switch last year, its reverberations were felt across the toy and games industry. We talk to Euromonitor about the market outlook for traditional games in an increasingly digitised era

F

ortnite is the biggest free-to-play game to have graced a console, ever. As such, its cultural impact is being felt almost everywhere; from kids performing the Floss in school playgrounds to the introduction of Marvel’s Thanos to the gameplay for a limited run.

Fortnite has also become the subject of much anger among its own fans, following the recent revelation that neither the PS4 or Nintendo Switch’s version of the game allowed for cross-play. What this means is that any progress made by a user under their profile on one

console, could not be transferred and used by that player under the same profile on an alternative. While Sony introduced this ability long ago to players across PC, MAC or even iOS, it is in the corroboration between the two consoles: PS4 and the Switch that players are feeling short-changed.

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Euromonitor of competition for traditional toys in the future,” Matthew Hudak, senior toys and games analyst at Euromonitor International, tells ToyNews. Although traditional toys registered its lowest global growth in three years at three per cent, dolls and accessories was one of the fastest growing categories at 5.5 per cent, thanks to the rising popularity of collectables. Traditional toys such as these continue to face channel distribution shifts. Though toys and games stores remains the largest global channel for traditional toys, distribution declined seven per cent from 2012 to 2017, whereas online retailers, the second largest global channel for traditional toys, saw 107 per cent distribution growth during the same period. “Going forward ,the loss of Toys R Us will greatly increase competition among other retail outlets, especially hypermarkets and online retailers, in capturing former Toys R Us shoppers,” continues Euromonitor's Hudak. “This could mean redesigned floor plans or a greater variety of toy options for many of the remaining toy retailers.” The influence of collectables and licensed properties on toy sales over the last year has been considerable. New products like LOL Surprise and a variety of licensed properties like Transformers were to toys and games success in 2017, which, according to Hudak “saw a major shift into the online distribution space as Toys R Us faded.” But it is in this online space that video games will continue to lead strong internet retailing growth. From now through to

Why does this matter? Well apart from the promise of a tranche of Fortnite toys in the near future, last year, console gaming was much of the force behind the toy and games industry’s 10 per cent growth in 2017. And much of that is due to the demand for the Nintendo Switch. According to some of the latest research, the toys and games industry grew 10 per cent globally in 2017. Much of this strong growth for the industry was led by the video games category. Coming in at 15 per cent, the category saw and increase from its seven per cent for the same period last year. The double-digit growth can be largely put down the launch of the Nintendo Switch, Nintendo’s latest console launch that sold nearly 14 million units over the last year. “Core gamers and Nintendo fans drove demand for the Switch, meaning the system has yet to reach many children, and they will likely become a greater source

Tim Barrett, Consultant – Retailing

Channel Shifts in Toys and Games Shares in 2017 Internet retailing Supermarkets Hypermarkets/mass merchandisers Media products stores Traditional toys and games stores Department stores 0%

10%

20%

Gained share

30%

Stayed the same

40%

50%

Lost share

60%

70%

80%

90%

100%

Not sure or not applicable

Source: Euromonitor International Toys and Games Industry Insights survey, February 2018 © Euromonitor International

TOYS AND GAMES: VOICE OF THE INDUSTRY

PASSPORT 7

2021, internet retailing is expected to lead toys and games’ retailing growth, as increased mobile gaming growth is expected to be the strongest driving force in toys and games and new parents continue to prefer the convenience of shopping online to seeing and testing toys in store. If we shift focus briefly to the Asia Pacific market and we discover that non-store retailing saw its share of sales grow both in traditional games and video games over 2011 to 2016, albeit as a much faster rate for the video game sector. Within video games, the higher share of non-store retailing is due to the outsized influence of video game software, which is almost entirely sold online with the notable exception of game cards, and had a global market size of $63.9 billion in 2016. Video games has increased downloads for static consoles and growth in mobile and online gaming due to the rise of free-to-play games. In addition, there has been increased sales in both video games hardware and video games software through internet retailing as consumers have fewer safety concerns about shipping expensive or fragile hardware and have added incentives to buy physical games online, such as Amazon’s discount for pre-ordered physical games for Prime members. "Traditional toys have also seen internet retailing grow, albeit at a lower pace, as consumers have become more comfortable with online shopping for toys, while major holiday selling events such as Black Friday in the US encourage consumers to shop in stores for their holiday toy gift giving needs," says Hudak. "Asia Pacific saw the swiftest rise in non-store internet retailing with China, South Korea and Japan in particular leading growth. All three countries have seen strong growth in mobile gaming and have increasingly moved towards online retailers for traditional toy purchases. "The Toys R Us online mall opened in November 2014 and it has only been in operation for two years at the end of 2016 and has already reached sales of KRW 10billion." Hudak continues: "In China, the popularity of cross-border platforms such as Tmall Global and JD Overseas help foreign brands of traditional toys and games in getting imported into China to satisfy highend consumers’ demands," he conlcudes. July 2018 | toy news | 37

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tech toys

ROBO SHOP

By the year 2023, Smart Toys will represent an $18 billion hardware and software market, through products and their counterpart apps and accompanying ‘gizmology.’ That’s a rise of $6 billion from where it currently sits. Maybe its time for you to do the robot with Robert Hutchins?

Spin Master 01628 535 000 Spin Master continues to drive tech innovation in its powerful portfolio of brands with the launch of its latest product – an interactive AI robot buddy, packed with technology, games and not to mention, personality. Meet Boxer, a real robot pal who comes to life right out of the box and is raring to go, with no assembly required. With a variety of features and inte knowledge his quirky personality, sometimes happy, sad, grumpy, or even sleepy, Boxer displays a full range of emotion. With ten activity cards included, an interactive ball accessory with which to play a fastpaced game of football, an IR remote control as well as interactivity through gesture, sound and touch controls – he also boasts tons of play value. Tech fans can place one of the cards in front of Boxer, let him roll over the card to scan it and watch the fun begin. They can play games like Bot Bowling, Paddle Bot and Go Kart, or use the remote control to race Boxer around and do tricks. Equipped with multiple IR sensors, a rechargeable battery and more awesome tech features, Boxer responds to hand movements and interacts in a variety of silly ways. With real-life responses, funny expressions and sounds, this little guy makes one hilarious sidekick. The Boxer app allows for tutorials that teach users how to interact with Boxer to his full potential. Also elevating the tech offering from Spin Master this summer is the latest launch from industry innovator and category leader, Air Hogs – the ‘revolutionaries of ground and air action.’

Air Hogs enthusiasts can now unleash the power of their hands with the new Air Hogs Supernova. Engineered to give unlimited thrills, only they can control this gravity-defying orb. They can launch it, push it and spin it with no need for a remote control or touching the toy itself. Equipped with an intelligent on-board system and motion sensitive lights and sensors, the Air Hogs Supernova responds to every movement. To activate, just toss it to launch and the Air Hogs Supernova will levitate mid-air, awaiting command. Fans can master 30 moves and nine super tricks, ranging from simple to complex and take control. They can learn solo or pass back and forth with friends and see what tricks they can pull off. They can take on the Super Spin and send the Air Hogs Supernova spinning in a dizzying spiral or try the Orbiter and make the Air Hogs Supernova fly circles around you. Engineered to handle the unexpected, Air Hogs Supernova is equipped with collision avoidance and stable flight technology, meaning it’s ready for anything. Both new launches will be supported by extensive TV advertising, heavy weight influencer campaigns and PR outreach targeting high profile tech, kidult and kid audiences.

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tech toys

Flair 0208 643 0320 Ready yourself for some mind-bending sorcery straight from the world of robotics, because GP Flair is preparing to reintroduce one of the smartest and most popular handheld tech games ever to have graced the toy market with the much anticipated re-launch of 20Q. That’s right, 20Q is returning this autumn, ready to celebrate its 30th anniversary in style. It’s been billed as the ultimate tech toy and game that, through its in-built algorithms, always knows what its user is thinking. The concept is a simple one, but effective. As its user, you simply think of something and then let 20Q guess what it is, and it’s practically guaranteed that it will success in doing s in less than its allotted 20 questions. For those of you that loved the original from nigh on a generation ago, fear not, because 2018’s 20Q is smarter than ever before and comes with a new ergonomic design that makes playing it even easier. Players can use it solo, testing it against whatever object they can think of, or out wit and amaze their friends as, with 20Q’s help, they read their minds. The new 20Q will be launched with a full marketing schedule including TV advertising, sampling and influencer activity, ensuring the question of whether to buy on or not is simple… For more information in 20Q from GP Flair, call 0208 643 0320 or email sales@flairplc. co.uk.

Vivid 01483 449 944 Taking the US by storm in 2017, Skyrocket Toys’ Recoil became on of the top tech toys of last year and is due to arrive in the UK this summer. Receiving a lot of media attention at this year’s London Toy Fair, Recoil revolutionises the way kids play, turning any indoor or outdoor space into a digitally enhanced, multiplayer battlefield. Using in-ear surround sound, haptic response weaponry, and smartphone integrated gameplay, players are able to spawn into the middle of the immersive battlefield they have ever experienced. Players compete in teams that can view their scores through the Recoil Games app. Using a WiFi hub that broadcasts a 500-foot diameter ‘playing field’, up to 16 players have lots of space to play using guns that attach to a phone for an augmented reality experience. The basic Recoil starter set includes two RK-45 Spitfire guns, a WiFi base station and two phone mounts. To activate, simply download the free Recoil game app from the App Store or Google Play Store. Using 3D positional audio, real-time player status updates and an interactive in-app mini map, Recoil is the most realistic gaming experience around. Taking the Laser Tag concept ot a whole new level, additional Recoil sets coming later this year will include Recoil Starter Set Spitfire Pistol and Rogue Assault Rifle. Vivid continues to extend its distribution partnership with Sky Rocket Toys for 2018 with the multi award-winning Sky Viper range of products. Sky Viper Fury Stunt Drone features easy one-touch stunt controls and performs up to eight different stunts. Meanwhile, Vivid continues to develop its VRSE distributor range for 2018 to include hit licenses Batman and Jurassic World.

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WowWee Jazwares – 07595 986 916 Adrian Carney: ACarney@jazwares.com

Trends UK Trends UK – 01295 768 078 Wind Designs –01353 724 140 Trends UK is introducing the new Guardian Bot into the Xtrem Bots range in the UK. With up to 20 different functions, spy function and 50 programmable actions, the new Guardian Bot – priced at £49.99 – also has an ultrasonic detector to warn of intruders in a room. Launched in the UK in 2017, the Xtrem Bots have proved very successful. The Xtrem Bots are operated with a remote control or hand gestures and feature cool animated, LED facial expressions that show the personality and moods of the robots. They are easy to have fun with straight out of the box and feature an array of more advanced, programmable features to ensure longevity to their play. The Xtrem Bots offer great value for money at affordable prices, ranging from around £30 to £60 at retail. Meanwhile, the tech innovation does not end there. With the VR Real Feel Alien Blaster it’s up to you, the player, to save earth from the impending invasion. You will do battle with evil aliens in VR with your Bluetooth-connected blaster with five different levels, more than eight different types of aliens and four different weapons, each with power-ups. The VR Real Feel Alien Blaster works with your iPhone or Android smartphone for 3D HD graphics and comes with everything you need to save the world: a VR headset, free iOS/Android app. And a Bluetooth-connected blaster for great control. Plus, a modest price tag of £34.99. It all arrives in time for the alien onslaught this autumn/winter.

For the wild robotic lovers – introducing Untamed from WowWee and Jazwares. Fierce and unpredictable, they know friends vs. foes. Are you brave enough to handle them? Of course you are, they’re toys…but that doesn’t make them any more manageable. In untamed mode they roar, hiss and chomp while in tame mode they nuzzle, purr and love to be near you. Complete with snapping jaws and gripping claws these interactive dinosaurs react to touch, motion and sound with over 40 different sounds and animations. Untamed Raptors launched in spring and the new Untamed T-Rex will be available from summer 2018. Distributed by Jazwares, Untamed will be launched with high level global marketing support, including top level YouTube influencer videos, TV campaigns and global PR campaign, including UK specific activity securing reviews, features and social media support. They are available for £16.99. Taking a far softer approach, Jazwares is introducing Fingerlings Hugs – the toys that are big softies when it comes to affection. Their long arms are ideal for big hugs and mean you can swing them, pet them and rock them to sleep, or give them a kiss…whatever floats your boat. Record what you say to them, and watch them repeat back to you in funny ways before throwing them in the air for a silly remix – no, not vomit, just re-jumbled recordings. These cuddly monkeys never want to let you go, but for £29.99 they just might. Jazwares is launching the next wave of Fingerlings creatures including unicorns and two-tone monkeys, al available this spring. From summer onwards and the range will be expanded play-sets and new Fingerlings.

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“Number 5�

Smart Blocks trigger songs and learning phrases

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tv Order now 01235 555545 trade_sales@vtech.com PCR_FP_210x265.indd 1

18/06/2018 09:39:48


tech toys

Wilton Bradley 01626 835400 Taking centre stage for the fourth quarter of this year, Wilton Bradley is delighted to announce its very X Factor. Yes, that’s right – the team has joined forces with FremantleMedia to manufacture and supply a range of karaoke microphones, machines, headphones and speakers under license for The X Factor here in the UK. Building on the success of its award-winning range of Mi-Mic microphone speakers, the agreement will see Wilton Bradley deliver an innovative range of music products under The X Factor brand over the next three years. As the programme comes back on stream around the end of August, the brand is perfectly positioned for the fourth quarter. The X Factor XF1 and XF2 are the leading lines this year. The XF1 is a microphone speaker which has Bluetooth connectivity and enhances any singing performance. This cost-effective star maker has a high spec, including an echo function, speaker stand, play/pause, skip forward and back and will run for up to three hours without a charge. Enough to get any party started, says Wilton Bradley. The XF1 Is branded in the black and red X Factor logo and has flashing LED lights on the base. The X Factor XF2 is a sophisticated microphone speaker which includes voice changing modes, echo function and a micr SD/USB charging/ USB Port. The X Factor logo wraps around the speaker box on the front of the microphone, turning this into a fabulous portable karaoke machine. Joining the existing Mi-Mic range in black, pink and silver are the Mi-Mic Zebra in sixties psychedelic stripes and Mi-Mic Camo in blue camouflage design. The Mi-Mic Retro speaker loks like one of the old BBC square microphones in pewter.

Zuru Geemac - 01604 401 719 The global award-winning toy manufacturer, Zuru, has unveiled two new additions to its Robo Alive portfolio. Utilising pioneering robotic technology, the Attacking T-Rex and Crawling Spider join the company’s tech toys offering. Based on real life creatures, Zuru’s Robo Alive brand currently includes best-seller, Robofish, followed more recently by snakes and lizards. Using robotic enhanced motion sensors, Zuru’s design team exerted extensive research to create realistic characteristics while retaining an affordable option within the tech toys market. Robo Alive’s Attacking T-Rex walks like the real thing, is available in two colours and opens its mouth to roar and bite – fundamental features reminiscent of one of the most wellknown dinosaurs. The new Robo Alive Crawling Spider also scurries realistically and includes the authentic colourings and markings of a real life Black Widow. “The new dinosaur and spider models have been introduced to further grow the Robo Alive brand,” said Renee Lee, global marketing manager, Zuru. “Each of our Robo Alive categories offers our customers innovative and value-driven lines while realising consumer demand for even more exciting and appealing creatures.” The Robo Alive brand includes three categories – Real Life Robotic Pets, Cute-Seas and Junior. They target demand for realistic, fantasy and pre-school bath time robotic play, and offer additional digital play value by allowing children to bring their toy characters to life via roboalive. com. By creating a fusion between physical play and th digital world, Zuru extends the fun of Robo Alive. Developing toys that celebrate creativity, imagination and fun is fundamental to the company’s ethos, with physical play very much at the core.

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tech toys

VTech 01235 555545 Flying into VTech’s range this autumn/winter is Myla the Magical Make Up Unicorn. Thanks to Myla’s magic make-up brush, kids can become her super stylist. Select any colour from the make-up palette and apply it magically to Myla’s horn, eyes and wing and watch in amazement as they magically light-up in that colour. With the magic microphone, meanwhile, kids can sing songs together and have hours of fun immersed in the world of Myla. Myla can even be customised with the addition of her tiara to her horn or by adding clips to her hair. Want to know what your lucky colour is? Touch Myla’s back and she will tell you. 2018 sees the great new introduction of the latest additions from the Kidizoom range. The Kidizoom Smart Watch DX2 is the successor of the incredibly popular Smart Watch DX. It features a new sleek and stylish design and a new second camera located on the face of the watch. With built-in and customisable digital and analogue watch faces and a Time Master app, the watch features games such as Monster RAV_BRIO_TN_HalfPage_July2018_FINAL.pdf 1 6/12/18 1:18 Detector, an AR adventure that encourages

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kids to explore, find and catalogue hidden monsters in the real world. 2018 will also see an enhancement to the Kidizoom camera with the Kidizoom Duo 5.0. With a brand new design and an updated 5 megapixel dual lens camera, kids can take photos or videos of themselves or with their friends. The two lenses can be swapped between at the touch of a button, making photo and video taking of any occasion effortless. Add fun effects, stamps and frames to your photos and videos, or use the auto-portrait features as well as record your voice ands apply funny effects to it.

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tech toys

Bandai 0208 324 6160 Two very different technical pets plus a flame throwing TV hero join the tech toys line up for Bandai in 2018. When it comes to handheld tech toys then they don’t come much more iconic than Tamagotchi. The hit tech toy returned in late 2017 and Wave One achieved sell-out success. Now, Wave Two has stepped up to the mark with all of the best-loved features from the original, plus cool new styles originating from 20 years ago. Capitalising on the trend for 90s nostalgia but adding a modern twist, this new breed of Tamagotchi is a cute chibi size making everyone’s favourite virtual pet even more portable. At just £9.99 and with each colourway housing a different pet to collect, this new era of Tamagotchi presents the ultimate retail opportunity: retro chic, collectability, tech and pocket money price point. Another virtual pet brand with real tech appeal is Pomsies. These wearable virtual pets react to touch and sound and have over 30 cute interactions. Girls can twist and lock their Pomsies around anything for an adorable fashion accessory. But much more than an adornment, Pomsies are highly interactive too and will tell you when they are happy, sleepy, cold, playful or hungry by the way they react, the sounds they make or as their eyes light up in different colours. Plus, they really do purr. Finally, for an impressive flame-throwing finale in the tech toys category, then look no further than Big Hero 6. The TV series launched in February and now fans will be able to enjoy Baymax as a fun tech toy too. Flying and Flame Baymax features automatic wings, rocket fists flame blasts from its feet.

Funrise 01908 555 640 Funrise’s TONKA collection is stepping up a gear for autumn and introducing a new, interactive line of motion-responsive vehicles for 2018. Hitting shelves in autumn is the ground-breaking line of TONKA vehicles called Power Movers. These rugged, interactive construction vehicles feature Motion Drive Technology allowing for fun and intuitive play that brings the dump truck, front loader, excavator and cement mixer vehicles to life. With Motion Drive Technology, push the vehicle forward to make the engine rev and activate the lights; pull the vehicle backward to hear back-up sounds; work the mechanical feature of each vehicle to hear hydraulic sounds and flash the lights. The lights and sounds activated by the child’s interaction with the vehicle create an engaging and realistic, TONKA tough experience every time they play. For more information on Funrise’s TONKA collection, contact 01908 555 640 or visit www. funrise.com

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tech toys

The Crafty Robot www.thecraftyrobot.net The Crafty Robot has launched a new robot kit called Smartibot, aimed at letting users get hands on experience with the world of AI technology. Through the kit, kids can build robots out of anything from a potato to pieces of cardboard. Smartibot takes The Crafty Robot’s build a robot out of anything ethos and adds the latest in AI technology and smartphone connectivity, allowing you to build robots that can recognise and respond to objects they can see, such as people, animals and vehicles. Smartibot comes with cleverly designed cardboard parts and can be re-used to easily create new robots out of almost anything from porcelain to parnsips. The first three cardboard robot designs include: the AI Bot, the Teabot which can carry two full drinks around a room and the Unicorn. “I build technology for a living and I know that the best way to avoid being replaced by a robot is to be the person making the robot,” said Ross Atkin, Smartibot product designer. “We believe building your own robot should be affordable, easy to understand and exciting for everyone. Because of this, we created Smartibot in order to allow everyone the opportunity to experiment with the latest AI technology in a fun and inventive way.” Smartibot allows users to learn all of the disciplines required to create new inventions, from coding and machine learning to mechanical design and development through iteration. Akram Hussein, Smartibot software lead, added: “What I love about Smartibot is that it allows me to share my love of technology and machine learning with my young nephews."

Ravensburger 01869 363 800 It’s well-known that Brio has been creating quality products since the close of the 1800s, combining innovation with respect for its heritage and craftsmanship for the past over 120 years. Founded in 1884 in Osby, a small town located in southern Sweden, Brio has grown into an international company with subsidiaries in Germany, France and Japan and distributors the world over. Today, Brio is owned by Ravensburger, one of Europe’s leading manufacturers of puzzles, games and activity products, and it is with an injection of that Ravensburger innovation as well as the Brio heritage that the traditional toy brand comes steaming into the tech toy category. Leading Brio into this high-tech era is the Brio Smart Tech range, kicking off with the Smart Engine with Action Tunnels. And the locomotives are more alive than ever. Depending on the tunnels, the engine will stop, back up or blink its lights as the Engine with Action Tunnels starter kit is based on interactive smart technology that sets you off on your travels. With the Smart Engine Set with Action Tunnels, kids can arrange the tunnels and station to watch a new train adventure unfold, while with the Smart Washing Station they can watch the rollers roll and the Smart Engine move by itself as the sound of water and bubbles rings out. The Smart Tech Railway Workshop is new to the Smart Tech range. When passing a Broken Engine Action Tunnel, the Smart Tech Engine from Brio starts to sound and act broken, rolls to the workshop and stops above the repairman’s pit. Here it’s time for some train magic as the engine finds itself repaired by the skilled workforce of the Workshop.

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r o l i a T PLAYED

dress up & role play

Whether a birthday party, Halloween or World Book Day there’s always an excuse for kids to dress up, which means there’s no excuse for you to be caught short. We round up the latest in the dress-up and role play sector

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s the industry leading manufacturer of fancy dress, we’re the proud owner of the Smiffys, Fever and Time4Fun brands. With our national accounts team supplying Private Label and R H Smith branded ranges to large multiple retailers, we deliver the whole party package: costumes and accessories, including wigs, make up, props and decorations. We strive to provide excellent service, innovative products and of course, a whole world of serious fun. Our collection is designed for dressing up and partying all year long; from Carnivals and Festivals, right through to World Book Day and Halloween: there’s a costume for very occasion. Our in-house creative team design hundreds of new and innovative products each year. With a key trend in 2018 being for costumes for all the

family, we have a bright and vibrant family of clowns, complete with fun accessories, and many create-your-own party looks with mix and match pirate accessories, from eye patches and hats to blouses with waist cincher belts. Staying ahead of the latest Halloween trends for custom costumes, accessories and creative make up kits, our family of scary vintage clowns, new vampire and zombie dress up for kids, and blood splattered costumes and accessories for adults, vamp things up. And not forgetting our range of heat resistant wigs and fabulous fever costumes. With World Book Day a firm fixture in the school calendar, we partner with licensors who share our passion. As the official licensee for Roald Dahl dress-up, we work collaboratively to ensure the collection is designed to inspire and excite the imagination, and while our aim is to create a fantastic and fun collection for adults and kids, we take product safety very seriously. All Smiffys children’s costumes exceed the safety standards required by law. Smiffy's 0800 590599

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dress up & role play

What is the strength of the dress-up and role play sector? Sharon Poulter, senior trade marketing manager, Smiffy's: We feel that it is all about bringing the characters to life. Dress up not only encourages imaginative play, but opens a whole world of serious fun, suitable for any age. What are the key dates in the calendar for this booming sector? With World Book Day a firm fixture in the school calendar, it has become a key date for the dress-up and role play sector. As schools focus on the literacy aspect of the event, dress up brings the characters to life and helps make reading fun for school children. Licenses play an increasingly important part of Smiffys’ offering and are fundamentlal to the year on year success of World Book Day for the party industry. Popular dress up characters born from established book titles range from Roald Dahl, Where’s Wally, Goosebumps and Horrible Histories to the most recent successes of 2018, including character from the World of Walliams, Beatrix Potter and

Enid Blyton. Halloween is a key season in our industry and we are seeing a growing demand for family dressup, especially clowns, zombies and Day of the Dead. Other year-round events include festivals, carnivals, fund-raising and sporting events – any excuse to dress up and have a party. How has business been for Smiffy's for 2018? What sort of growth are you projecting for the year ahead? We have had a great start to the year with a very successful World Book Day in the first quarter. Our strategy is to achieve sustainable growth, by partnering

and in-house photography. R H Smith not only supply large multiples and grocers, but also independent retailers and leisure customers. Our in-house designers and product development teams ensure we have the most innovative range of products in the market, and our dedicated account manager supports retailers to increase sales during key seasonal events, as well as throughout the year. We are continually developing innovative and exciting lines to make sure we have the best selection available for our customers. Look out for exciting new characters and licenses, and re-imagined heroes coming soon.

with licensors and working closely with key retailers. Price is important, we strive to offer value for money, designing innovative product ranges that exceed the safety standards while delivering excellent customer service. What are the biggest or best selling themes in the portfolio? Enduringly popular, Roald Dahl’s iconic characters enjoy best-selling success on World Book Day, but remain in demand throughout the year. Roald Dahl Day, an annual event on September 13th, is promoted as a Dahlicious Dress Up Day affording another opportunity to celebrate the renowned author’s work and bring characters to life through dress-up, while raising money for his children’s charity. In addition, historical character costumes and accessories are some of the best-selling products within our portfolio. Why should retailers be excited to work with you guys? We offer a full package service, customer focused design, trend analysis, bespoke product development, packaging, POS July 2018 | toy news | 47

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PRETEND TO BEE Pretend to Bee is an industry renowned champion in the dress up and role play sector and this year, the firm has a complete new range of costumes to bring to the stage.

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he award-winning ranges from Pretend to Bee are industry renowned, thanks to their high quality and attention to detail. The wide range of dress up lines are designed to be both long-lasting as well as easy to wear using proper stitching and durable fabrics across all products – most costumes are designed with Velcro fastening, elasticated waistlines and large openings so that they grow with children too. The family-run Pretend to Bee has an unrivalled collection of themed costumes aimed at expanding a child’s imagination, encouraging them to interact with others

and learn through play. The ranges have varying themes allowing retailers to capitalise on many key selling periods throughout the year such as Christmas and World Book Day. The Pretend to Bee costumes are also a popular choice for parents and teachers thanks to many costumes directly linking to National Curriculum subjects including Victorian, Roman, Vikings and more. The dress-up outfits are also perfect for kids' parties or any fancy dress occasion In addition to its generic costumes, which this year sees the addition of an updated Postman, Policeman and Vet, Pretend to Bee also offers official licensed ranges

including the ever-popular Thunderbirds Are Go range, as well as the Natural History Museum collection of dinosaur costumes. The NHM range has also been extended to include baby dinosaur costumes starting from six months old and upwards. Also new for 2018 is the cute collection of Woodland headbands to dress up any costume or simply to wear alone. The range features a fox, squirrel, frog and badger along with a gorgeous hedgehog tabard. For further information visit the trade website at www.pretendtobee.com or call 0115 921 5690.

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13th September #

Bringing characters to life! With children’s and adult collections available. Each order comes with a free Roald Dahl POS kit, 40 costume minimum.* Š 2018 RDSC / QB www.roalddahl.com MCV Toys Template.indd 1

18/06/2018 16:20:25


dress up & role play

Le Toy Van 0208 979 2036

Bandai 0208 324 6160 Kids can pretend to be their favourite Power Rangers hero with Bandai’s range of role-play outfits and toys. The popularity of Bandai’s Power Rangers range knows no bounds and the collection is reaching new heights as the brand celebrates its 25th anniversary and the launch of its Super Ninja Steel line this month. Kids can become the ultimate ranger with the Morphin’ Blasters which fire a Ninja Star by pressing the green mega morph button, as well as the Ninja Lion Fire Blade that extends to 60cm and includes the ultimate battle lights and sounds. Add to this the gauntlet style Lion Fire Morpher which fires a dart, has space to store two spare darts and includes a Power Up Lion Spinner and Ninja Sounds and the Power Rangers adventure is complete. The role play experience will be enhanced further still by the Ninja Super Steel Blaster; this revving ninja spinner has dart shooting action and epic battle sounds. Other items in the range include Special Opps Ninja Stars, Frog Blaster and Hero set. The brand will be supported by a TV campaign for autumn, but for more information and to find out about the full collection call 0208 324 6160 or go to www.bandai.co.uk.

Le Toy Van’s award-winning, vintage style Popcorn Machine is part of the retro style Honeybake Range. This tactile and exciting toy is currently so popular, it’s one of Le Toy Van’s top sellers from the 2018 collection. Designed in-house, the Popcorn Machine has been made using high quality woods, including ethically produced, sustainable, legal rubberwood and high quality, safe paints. Featuring a wood, cream, gold and red palette and designed to have a classic look, the Popcorn Machine is realistic, considered and aesthetically pleasing. The Popcorn Machine comprises a ‘pop handle’: hold it down, release and watch the pieces pop. Complete with five felt play popcorns to collect from the drawer and a colourful popcorn cup to serve them in. To further enhance play, the packaging includes a cut out show and sweet or salty popcorn ticket options. Winning Silver for the Best Designed Toy at the European Product Design Awards 2018, the Popcorn Machine promotes fine motor skills, dexterity and helps to develop speech and social interaction, as children mimic the real-world as they play and engage with it. Le Toy Van managing director, Steven Le Van, says: “What I really love about the Popcorn Machine is how it can be played with on so many levels. Children can really replicate the real world, from making the popcorn to serving it with a choice of flavour options. We want children to feel empowered when they play." The Popcorn Machine has been thoroughly tested to comply with the strictest safety regulations – EN71 and ASTM for children from three years and upwards.

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animals & play-sets

KITTEN AROUND It’s animals and play-sets time, so get ready for the sublimely cute, fluffy and adorable. But enough about us at ToyNews, here’s the latest round up of products to be cantering, hopping and waddling onto shelves this summer

Spin Master 01628 535 000 Spin Master has something that's really going to tug on the heartstrings this year, as the global toymaker brings a touch of cute to the booming robotics sector. Zoomer from Spin Master is the most intuitive and interactive robot pet brand creating pets that are full of life and personality. This summer the brand is introducing the new Zoomer Hungry Bunnies – adorable bunnies that love to eat. Zoomer fans can adopt a fluffy-eared Hungry Bunny and feed it delicious treats. Always ready for food, the Hungry Bunnies eat all their snacks – just like real bunnies. Children can tickle their belly or stroke their soft ears and heads and watch as they respond to their love. They can pet their heads for giggles or press their nose for cute sounds. With expressive light-up eyes, these Hungry Bunnies let their owners know how they are feeling.

With over 80 paper treats to choose from, pet lovers can feed their interactive pet a balanced diet of carrots, popices, ice cream and more and then store their Hungry Bunny’s food in the cute snack basket included. Fans can even make their own delicious treats using the treat tracer and a sheet of paper. When the adorable rabbit is fed its food, it will munch until their treat is gone. After a full meal, the Hungry Bunny will poop a colourful confetti surprise - because what do bunnies this adorable produce? Once the Hungry Bunny has been fed, girls can play a magical music game as their pet loves to sing. In fact, the only thinkg a Zoomer Hungry Bunny loves more than eating and singing is laughing. From floppy ears to fuzzy little tail, these colourful bunnies make for adorable pets. The range is aimed at kids aged five years old and upwards.

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animals & play-sets

LeapFrog 01235 555545 LeapFrog, the leader in innovative learning toys for children, is excited to introduce LeapBuilders, the first talking building blocks range, launching this July. Combining construction and curriculum, the launch will be supported by a TV and digital campaign running from July to November. With four different sets to choose from and twistable blocks made for little hands, children will be able to foster developmental skills – from hand-eye coordination to spatial reasoning and counting skills. Each LeapBuilders set includes an interactive SmartStar Unit which lights up and responds with music and learning phrases when a block is inserted into it. What’s more, all the sets can be mixed and matched to extend the fun. The line is led with the LeadBuilders Phonics House with which little builders can pretend to put on their hard hats and construct a home with more than 50 pieces, including two play people. Kids can build a house, robot or train or just go wild with their imagination. Meanwhile, LeapBuilders Wild Animals teaches kids all about animals, colours and first words while building this 16-piece animal set. The set will respond with over 120 phrases, sounds and songs whenever one of the double-sided blocks is inserted into the interactive SmartStar Unit. LeapBuilder Elephant Adventures teaches kids about fruits, numbers. Colours and insects while building a 21 piece elephant set. The elephant will respond with over 115 phrases, sounds and songs. Completing the line up is the LeapBuilders Fix It Truck, encouraging little mechanics to build two vehicles with more than 30 pieces.

Vivid 01702 200660 Vivid has developed its established Animagic brand with the aim of developing Animagic characters alongside product and introducing two new Animagic pets – Waggles and Woofles puppies – to the range. Waggles is a sausage dog who loves walking along, smiling and barking happily, while Woofles is a very playful pup with lifelike movement. Woofles responds to his own bone accessory and loves being stroked, cuddled and talked to. Waggles and Woofles will be heavily TV advertised in the company’s strongest Animagic TV campaign to date, alongside influencer activity with dedicated unboxing videos and digital advertising. Meanwhile, experience the magic of Nella the Princess Knight with Trinket’s Sparkle Stable play-set, featuring Nella’s best unicorn friend. She can be dressed up in accessories, including sunglasses and a tutu, while with the new Style Me Trinet set, kids can help her look fabulous by brushing her mane and tail. Squeezamals are new collectable plush. creatures each looking for a new home. With a slow rise interior foam, Squeezamals can be squished as much as you can muster, and will return to their original shape. There are 16 to collect, each measuring around 3.5 inches and 16 mini clip-on versions. Crayola Washimals Pets are new this A/W and feature cats and dogs that can be coloured in and washed to colour again. Each comes with a special Crayola Marker while each Washimals Pets Pack comes with two pets, three Washimals Marker Pens and Washimals Scrubbie brush.

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animals & play-sets

Schleich 01279 870 000 Farm World and Wild Life are at the centre of Schleich’s natural play worlds and there is even more to discover with the introduction of many new animals and play-sets for 2018. Scampering into the Farm World range is the adorable new Yorkshire Terrier and French Bulldog. Retailers won’t want to miss the new boxed sets either; the miniature pig mother and piglets set and pony mare and foal playset are just some of the great value sets that have joined the collection. For autumn, the large farm house will be unveiled. This hero playset has endless accessories and features exclusive figures for extra play value. Add to this the Adventure Tree House and retailers will be spoilt for choice when it comes to top-of-the-range farmthemed lines. Thrilling new arrivals to the Wild Life range have made their debut too. The Ranger and Indian Rhinocerous Starter Set, the Panda Enclosure set, and the Trap with Ranger come with multiple play functions and boxed set value for consumer appeal. Children will also love the true-to-life 4x4 Vehicle with Winch play-set due to launch in September. This is just a snapshot of what’s available for 2018. Schleich toys offer play at its purest for little imaginations and are therefore a staple both in the toy box and also the toy shop. With support of retailer promotions and substantial PR campaigns, it will ensure this quality brand has great awareness with the customer, both inside and out of the retail space.

Flair 0208 643 0320 There’s plenty of cute four legged friends and accompanying play-sets to discover in the GP Flair/Just Play portfolio, including the new Disney Junior property Puppy Dog Pals, together with In My Pocket and The Lion Guard. This month will see the launch of the Puppy Dog Pals master toy collection. This exciting new series premiered on Disney Junior in January 2018 and follows the adventures of two loveable Pug puppies, Bingo and Rolly, who are on a mission to save the day. The striking colourways of the range sets this collection apart and will appeal equally to boys and girls. Figures are a key offering and kids can choose from many, including the fun Figures on the Go with essential rocket and sailboard that can literally launch them into action and the Light Up Pals on a Mission, each with their own accessory. The hero of the range however has to b the puppy Dog Pals Doghouse play-set, which will be central to any child’s Puppy Dog Pals playtime fun. This stunning play-set comes with lots of exciting kid-powered features, posable figures and a vehicle too. Other Disney animal inspired collections from GP Glair/Just Play include the Lion Guard. Season Three of the TV series, Battle for the Pride Lands, goes on air from Autumn 2018 and will inspire fans to re-create scenes from the episodes, with the Lion Guard Defend the Pride Lands play-set. Finally, Puppy in My Pocket is always the place to find every little girls’ dream pet with its soft and flocked puppies to collect, together with a bunch of adorable accessories and playsets for even more puppy fun.

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animals & play-sets

Tobar 0207 437 0227 Children’s imaginations will go wild with Tobar’s range of high quality wooden playsets, including Noah’s Ark, a Happy Farm and a Pirate Ship. Helping board the animals two-by-two will be a load of fun with the Wooden Noah’s Ark Playset. Taking inspiration from the classic story, this 28cm long wooden ark includes several pairs of animals such as cows, horses, pigs, elephants and more. Keeping them fed and watered are wooden figurines of Noah, his wife and the dove that brings the olive branch. As well as 17 painted figures, the play-set includes a ramp to load everyone on board and a sliding lid that allows the ark to act as a carry case for the various play pieces. Meanwhile, even Old McDonald would be green with envy over any young farming apprentices who own the wonderful Wooden Farm Playset. Packed with potential for fun and a bunch of colourful critters, farming apprentices can help Mr and Mrs Farmer tend to the crops and feed the six critters in and out of the 24.5cm wide barn. Complete with delicate wooden props including a carrot patch, fence and trees – it will bring any young farmer's imagination to life. Completing the line up is the Pirate Ship play-set, containing everything needed for an adventure at sea. The 32cm long ship features a crow’s nest high up the mast, rotating captain’s wheel, portholes and a symbolic black sail. “Traditional play is a huge part of Tobar’s vast range of toys,” says David Mordecai, CEO of Tobar. “The quality and care taken to make these beautiful toys can be seen in every detail, and we know children love to play with them.”

Stib 07837 428364 Parents can keep the kids entertained on their summer holiday with the all new Stib Inspirational Mini Colouring Pencils, designed to inspire youngsters to build and colour world to be proud of. The brightly striped tube includes ten vibrant, satisfyingly soft-leaded mini colouring pencils each embossed with a different inspirational word from 'joy finder' to 'team player', a pencil sharpener plus 12 specially designed perforated colouring templates featuring the brand’s exclusive Stibler characters alongside fun games and quotes. Each Stib word is matched to a character that together form a secret bunch of animals called The Stiblers. The Stiblers pop up to help any child facing one of life’s little lumps and bumps, supporting them in their efforts to be brave, kind, confident and caring as they grow while inspiring them to create a world to be proud of full of fun and colour. 12 Stibler stories are available to download for free from the Stib website and children are invited to write in if they’d like to ask The stiblers abut anything in particular.

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Appointments

Industry moves Expansion is the name of the game for a number of toy firms this month as a double appointment at Schleich, a new CEO at Cartamundi and an executive restructuring at TOMY all take place amid the constantly moving toy industry

Schleich A double appointment at the German specialist toy manufacturer has seen THOMAS RANDRUP named the new country manager for the UK and Ireland. He replaces the outgoing country manager, JEREMY ROBINSON. Boasting extensive industry experience, Randrup previously served for 16 years as country manager at Revell and more recently as commercial director of The Hobby Company. He has been welcomed to the team the senior director of sales, Europe, Barbara Kreibich. Meanwhile, PAUL JOYNER has taken up the position of national account manager with Schleich UK. He joins after six years at KD UK where he was responsible for a wide range of accounts. His new role will now see him take responsibility for a number of major accounts with the toy firm.

TOMY Following changes to its international management team and the consolidation of TOMY Europe into TOMY International, MARK FOSTER has relinquished his role as executive vice president of the European arm. The restructure has seen TOMY International president PETE HENSELER and chief operating officer GREG KILREA take on new international assignments. TOMY International will now be responsible for North American, Latin American and European business.

toymaker, HTI. He joins the firm as it prepares for further expansion and growth over the course of the rest of the year and beyond. Geddes boasts a wealth of experience in the toy category with over 30 years of industry experience. JOHN HUTT, HTI principle, has welcomed Geddes to the new position with the company.

Cartamundi The card and board game manufacturer has appointed STEFAAN MERCKX as its new CEO. He will succeed CHRIS VAN DOORSLAER who passed away in December 2017. 43 year old Merckx holds a Master in Architectural Engineering and an MBA in the Cranfield School of Management. He joins Cartamundi from Vandemoortele, where he currently leads the Bakery products division, the largest division of the company. In a statement, Merckx said he was excited at the prospect of joining a talented team that has displaced capacity to innovate and grow with customers

Winning Moves The licensed board game specialist and home of the Top Trumps brand has detailed plans to work with more video gam licences, with the appointment of MEGAN WAIN. As licensing manager, Wain will head up a number of licensing accounts with particular focus on the video gaming sector. As part of the expansion, SIMA BEGUM has also been promoted to the role of licensing executive, managing a selection of accounts, while CHARLOTTE WAALKENS continues to manage key licensor relationships, including with Disney, Marvel and Lucas Film.

HTI Former Mattel UK boss, DOMINIC GEDDES has been named the none executive director of the global

We can help. Whether you’re in Sales, Account Management, Design or Marketing, we’ve got the experience and toy industry know-how to find your perfect role.

01709 834777 • chris@aswift.com • aswift.com 56 | toy news | July 2018

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Team of the month

PLAYTIME PR We’re past the halfway mark for 2018 and already it’s been a bumper one for Playtime PR with moves into the US and major client activity on a monthly basis. We get five minutes to do what PR agencies do best…chat

Who’s in the team? Well, we have grown a bit over the last four years…Our baker’s dozen is made up of: Founder Lesley Singleton, media consultant Peter Jenkinson, senior PR consultants Ceriann Smith, Charlotte Simmons, Lou Hathaway, Ruth Thomas, Alex Frith, Alison Short, Kelly Jones (our Blogger Guardian) and Kate Chaundy, plus our PR assistants Georgina Beccan and Bonnie Simpson and creative legend Deej Johnson. Playtime is unique as it offers staff total flexibility; attracting the best senior talent and highly skilled freelancers at the top of their game, with down-to-earth attitudes. Our innovative business model continues to prove popular with loyal, talented staff delivering solid, impactful results for clients who are equally loyal to the agency. What’s big for you guys for 2018? Christmas Gift Guides…New product launches…Making sure Santa knows which toys and games are the must haves this year…Activity at Brick, Essen, TableTop Gaming Live and more…and our annual mission to get the tabloids and mainstream media to acknowledge that there’s more to board games than just Pie Face! What have been your biggest successes of the last 12 months? Securing retained relationships with Zuru, Tactic Games, Rollplay and Asmodee UK, being invited to work on projects with Click Distribution and Cheatwell Games, delivering interesting campaigns with strong results for Magic Box Toys’ SuperZings and John Adams Elisure – which has included launching a kids’

Board Game Club. 2018 is also the year we set out to deliver beyond the UK. Our first alliance partnership was announced earlier this year with a major agency in the USA and we’ve since expanded this network to be able to replicate and deliver our campaigns in other territories including Germany, France and Australia.

and comms should be well-rounded and it’s unrealistic for brands to expect a campaign to deliver on a number of metrics through just that one channel. But if clients do want to pump their above the line spends into influencer campaigns, we’re working hard to ensure they do it thoughtfully, legitimately, credibly and with a tangible end goal in sight that’s underpinned by supporting activity.

What’s the best part about working in the toy industry? All the clichés – the people and the relationships are brilliant, creative and fun; every day is unpredictable yet almost always entertaining. The toy space doesn’t stand still, the constant evolution and innovation is inspiring.

If the team was stuck in a desert island, who would be the first to perish? Kelly, due to the lack of WiFi, Instagram filters, wine and Love Island. Or Pete, because perishing would be easier than trying to survive on an island full of PR women and Deej.

What’s the biggest challenge? Convincing toy brands that YouTubers aren’t the only marketing tool in the armoury. PR

Who would be lone survivor? Our former Brownie and Bar Grylls fanatic, Alison.

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Final word

GUESS WHO? After another sizeable mag filled with up to the minute information for you to digest, it’s time for a bit of fun. The first in a new series, ToyNews challenges you to guess what game we’ve been playing from the description below. Answers on a postcard please, and we leave the prize-giving to the discretion of the editor…

CONTACT US

FOLLOW US ON Twitter.com/ToyNewsOnline Facebook.com/toynews EDITORIAL Editor: Robert Hutchins rob.hutchins@futurenet.com • +44 (0)207 354 6017 Content Director: James McKeown james.mckeown@futurenet.com • +44 (0)207 354 6015 Designer: Mandie Johnson mandie.johnson@futurenet.com • +44 (0))207 354 6030 Digital Director: Diane Oliver diane.oliver@futurenet.com • +44 (0)207 354 6019 Production Executive: Jason Dowie jason.dowie@futurenet.com • +44 (0)203 889 4907 Managing Director: Mark Burton mark.burton@futurenet.com • +44 (0)207 354 6007 ADVERTISING SALES Sales Manager: Jodie Holdway jodie.holdway@futurenet.com MANAGEMENT

uch like the literary critic Cyril Connolly once joked that George Orwell could not “blow his nose without moralising on conditions in the handkerchief industry,” I find that I cannot play a round of Haba’s 2011 small box title without verbalising on the plight of Africa’s most endangered animal. Which I realise now, makes me a terrible board gaming partner. I’m devoid of Orwell’s coherence of course, but it is with gusto that I nevertheless settle down to take my turn in laying the next level of this skyscraper, with the topic at the forefront of my mind. It’s the first of three games I dive headfirst into at this month’s Board Game Club, and as I gingerly place two folded ‘wall’ cards on the directional markers of the base below, it’s all I can do to get this Rhino as high up the skyscraper as possible, away from the still rampant poaching problem on terra firma. It’s a Sumatran Rhino, I can only deduce. Held between my forefinger and thumb, the size alone gives it away, being as they are, the smallest of all rhinos and the only Asian species to have two horns. I study the artwork and count just to double check. Yep, two horns: Sumatran. There’s also a lot to be said of the level of audacity it takes for a rhinoceros to assume not only residency in a block of flats, but the right to inhabit each apartment as we continue to build

M

this house-of-cards style game. With each turn, we must place the (not altogether weightless) rhino one floor higher and I note the sheer arrogance of the animal-meeple. You’d only really accept this from the one creature that claims to have been on earth longer than any other living mammal. I’ve known grandmothers to act in much the same way. My aim is simple: stack this tower as high as I can, and out of a possible 28 floors, each testing my hand-eye coordination like nothing I have experienced of late, our group has so far only managed four. This is tense. The added pressure of securing this rhino from harm – and subsequent extinction - is a burden I have placed only on myself. And it’s almost too much. It’s with relief therefore that soon, exhausted by our efforts and having hit the peak of our intellectual engagement (it really is a simple game suggested for players aged five and upwards, after all) that we settle into a game of Nurnberger Spielarten Verlag’s The Mind. If you know the game, you’ll understand that this is going to be a lot more demanding on the old grey matter, but with a great deal less heavy lifting and construction involved. Think you’ve guessed the game? Send your deductions in to ToyNews by dropping us a line at Robert. Hutchins@futurenet.com

Chief Operations Officer Aaron Asadi Managing Director/Senior Vice President, Christine Shaw Content Director, James McKeown Managing Director, Europe, Mark Burton Commercial Finance Director, Dan Jotcham

SUBSCRIBER CUSTOMER SERVICE To subscribe, change your address, or check on your current account status, go to www.toynews-online.com/subscribeto-newsletters-digital-editions faqs or email subs@toynews.com ARCHIVES Digital editions of the magazine are available to view on ISSUU.com. Recent back issues of the printed edition may be available please contact lwilkie@nbmedia.com for more information. INTERNATIONAL Toynews and its content are available for licensing and syndication re-use. Contact the International department to discuss partnership opportunities and permissions. International Licensing Director Matt Ellis, matt.ellis@futurenet.com Printed by Pensord Press Ltd, NP12 2YA ISSN number 0269-4735 (print) © 2018 Future plc is a member of the Periodical Publishers Association

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Toynews July 2018 digital edition  

The July issue of ToyNews takes you on a journey through the use of Artificial Intelligence in the toy and game space with our deep dive fea...

Toynews July 2018 digital edition  

The July issue of ToyNews takes you on a journey through the use of Artificial Intelligence in the toy and game space with our deep dive fea...