© 2018 Gullane (Thomas) Limited. © 2018 HIT Entertainment Limited.
TOY NEWS OCTOBER 2018
© 2018 Gullane (Thomas) Limited. © 2018 HIT Entertainment Limited.
No. 199 | October 2018
War of the worlds
Editor Robert Hutchins
Sales Manager Sophia Jaques email@example.com
Production Executive James Marinos firstname.lastname@example.org
Designer Mandie Johnson email@example.com
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rump’s move to slam tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports last month was seismic. It’s brought the toy industry the closest it's been to the realities of a “tit for tat” trade war between Washington and Beijing to date. Of the more than 6,000 items subjected to the ten per cent rise, finished toys still remain outside of the parameters. Arts and craft materials are well within, as are many of the components and packaging materials that make up our toys. The speed at which things are escalating between the two nations, it seems only a matter of time before we find ourselves up to our necks as much as the rest of them. The thing is, we can't pretend that global trade was in a state of blissful harmony before the White House took it up a notch and for many a global shake-up was well past its due date. But this - and I echo the Toy Association's Steve Pasierb wholeheartedly - is no more than a tax on families. Trade wars at this level are no way to facilitate a harmonious economy, and it looks like we may be in it for a long haul. Trump and Jinping may both benefit taking a leaf out of Mattel’s book - the star of our Thomas & Friends reboot cover this month and adopt a far greater universal outlook on the global front. Perhaps they should bring in the brainpower of the UN to better understand the multi-cultural narrative that global trade is far better suited to? Robert Hutchins, Editor Robert.Hutchins@futurenet.com
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COVER STORY THE BIG ONE P14
Contents October 2018 Features
BIG INTERVIEW: ANDY ODDIE Funko Europe's MD tells us why the team is learning French as the firm builds EU relations
IT'S SHOWTIME Brand Licensing Europe is here so we run through the 20 things you don't want to miss
THAT'S MAGIC The Fantastic Beasts sequel is around the corner and we jump into its magical world
A BRAND NEW VIEW ToyNews takes a look at how children's brands are talking about children's mental health.
Regulars Opinion 06 Ian Downes 07 Rebecca Deeming 08 Seth Barton
Market Data 42 Generation Media 40 WildBrain Product Guide 45 Licensed toys 55 Christmas marketing
Back pages 64 Industry Moves 65 Team of the month 66 Final word
October 2018 | toy news | 5
Culture stock: Why pop culture and retro licenses could be the Holy Grail for toys By Ian Downes
As we approach BLE it is quite natural that toy and game manufacturers place a lot of focus on headline grabbing brands. These tend to be brands targeting younger consumers and, in particular, preschool ones. Most IP owners with properties that appeal to this demographic actively seek toy partners with their Holy Grail being securing a master toy partner. However, BLE is an opportunity for toy companies to find alternative licenses that could help them create products that may appeal to different consumers. Toy categories like board games, collectables and dress up seem to be on the up and up. Licensing has and can help bolster these categories further. For example in Dress Up, a contributor to growth has been the increasing popularity of book characters fired up by World Book Day and cult characters popularised through events like ComicCom. Licensing has more to offer smart thinking toy companies along these lines. Think how popular TV franchises like Friends remain; new broadcasting platforms and access points have introduced classic series like this to new TV audiences and reinforced their popularity. One area that is worth exploring is that of TV, film and video games that might appeal to consumers in their 20s and 30s (or even older consumers like me).
Recently the Highways Agency commenced a road safety TV campaign urging car drivers to leave space between them and the car in front. The commercial includes the strap line Donâ€™t be a Space Invader and features the iconic Space Invader design. This is a really good indicator of the power of properties like Space Invaders. Meanwhile, TV shows and films like Dadâ€™s Army and Planet of the Apes are examples of franchises that have strong fan followings and hold potential for product development. Another genre that is worth exploring is comics brand owners like Rebellion have great portfolios of comics such as 2000 AD, Judge Dredd and Roy of the Rovers - some of these have been developed in areas like role-playing games while other categories remain open. We represent the classic French comic book character Asterix. There are no UK toy licensees for this property yet the books are sold widely in book and comic shops. These retailers are increasingly interested in non-book products. More specialist retailing opportunities are emerging in the on and offline worlds. The diverse mix of shops such as garden centres, bookshops, farm shops, conventions and online retailers means there is scope to target consumers efficiently by interest and passion. It's easier to be more targeted in sales terms. A well chosen license can help with this process. It's worth doing some homework before BLE and targeting 'retro' IP owners. They may help you find the Holy Grail.
"There's scope to target consumers by their interest and passion." Ian Downes is the owner and MD of the independent licensing agency, Start Licensing. Downes looks after a number of retro and pop culture brands including Asterix, Beano, Bananaman and more..
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BTHA Briefing: Amazon brands and unpicking the Brexit problem By Rebecca Deeming
Over the past month, we’ve been busy hosting several training seminars and webinars for members, with more events to come. Members tuned in to our post-Brexit webinar, where information was given on the possibility of having a new Irish based Authorised Representative which the BTHA has found for those members that may require one - either in the short term in the eventuality of a ‘no deal’ Brexit scenario, or longer term after the transition period if the UK secures a deal. If you missed the webinar but would like to learn more information, please contact Natasha@btha.co.uk. We also welcomed members to our office for a training seminar on Responsible Marketing. Members heard presentations from Ofcom, the Committee of Advertising Practice /Advertising Standards Authority, Toy Industries of Europe, Media Smart and SuperAwesome, who discussed the current marketing trends and concerns, including the latest regulatory guidance and how the industry can find solutions. This month, we will be hosting a webinar with Amazon Brand Registry, to help members protect their intellectual property on Amazon. The free webinar provides information on how Amazon Brand Registry
helps companies to protect their intellectual property and create an accurate and trusted experience for customers on Amazon. The webinar will take place on Tuesday, October 6th at 4pm. If you would like to learn more about Amazon Brand Registry, and how it can help you, please contact Natasha@btha.co.uk. Last month, the BTHA continued to work for members on government related issues. A number of meetings were held with BEIS on Brexit with the BTHA giving early input on the government no-deal white papers; a briefing on toy safety issues with OPS&S and submitting a response to the ICO latest consultation on the ‘age-appropriate design code’ for dealing with children under the GDPR. Next month, we will be returning to Westminster to host our annual BTHA Parliamentary Reception on November 28th. This is a great opportunity for BTHA members to network with MPs and to make our legislators aware of the issues facing the UK toy industry; as well as the great work that the industry does. We look forward to seeing those members who are attending. As always, toy safety remains the priority for the Association and its members. Our ‘Chemicals toolkit’, toyograph, has recently been updated and members are advised to ensure materials controls are updated where necessary. If you haven’t seen the update, please get in touch with us to view the list of changes now.
"Brexit 'no-deal' papers have been a primary focus." Rebecca Deeming is the head of public relations and communications at the BTHA.
October 2018 | toy news | 7
When Spider-Man, can: How the right licenses are shifting big units at retail By Seth Barton
I’d like to talk to you for a minute if I can, about Spider-Man. And why not? We’re all adults here. Mores specifically, I want to talk about Sony’s latest single-player epic adventure video game Spider-Man that has swung into town and smashed video gaming records at UK retail. The PS4 exclusive had the biggest week one sales of any title to date in 2018; powered partly, no doubt, by its high-profile protagonist. While it’s hard to compare historically, Spider-Man swept aside Horizon Zero Dawn (take a look at Kickstarter’s board game project) with around 50 per cent more sales, and incredibly sold almost as many units as the mighty Uncharted 4 in its first week at retail. It’s a towering achievement and proves that a highlyrecognisable character, in a great game, is still a way to engage with fans and shift big units, too. That’s in an industry - videogaming - that has shied away from such licenses for some time, preferring to create and develop its own IP over utilising those created by Hollywood and others. Of course, in this case, Sony’s part-ownership of the Spider-Man brand, too complex to go into here, is a big factor.
However, those unit numbers speak for themselves, which leads to the question, where are the big budget games based around other big licensed characters and worlds? I mean, the board game sector does it well enough, doesn't it? More and more it is bringing video game IP to the physical game market, and it is selling in some pretty big numbers there. Dark Souls: The Board Game made millions in Kickstarter backing. The travails of a big single-player Star Wars games are well-documented of course, but other top heroes from the Marvel Universe and the DC Universe for that matter - bar Batman’s Arkham series or LEGO’s cross universe output - are highly underrepresented. And that’s because traditionally, they just haven’t done very well. But Spider-Man spins a different yarn. Marvel content regularly generates around 1.3 billion views on YouTube each month, of which the two most popular characters with kids remain Hulk and, you’ve guessed it, Spider-Man. Our heroic web-slinger far outweighs the surprisingly low viewing figures for Star Wars. Am I saying that Spider-Man was and remains a safe bet? In video game land, nothing really ever is and I don’t want to take anything away from Sony and Insomniac Games for crafting a brilliant piece of software. It’s quality that sells games, it just sells them better when you have Spider-Man on the cover.
"The web-slinger is currently killing it as a brand." Seth Barton is the editor of the UK video games trade magazine, MCV. A father of two, Barton confiscates as many toys as he purchases and will often place himself in time out... where his PS4 is...
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We want it all: How is content on demand shaping the toy and consumer product space? By Jenny Priestly
How did you watch TV as a kid? Did you rush home from school and tune in to Gordon the Gopher on BBC One? Perhaps you were a Tiswas kid, or maybe you preferred the more refined Posh Paws and Saturday Swap Shop? Not to sound all ‘kids today’ but… kids today, haven’t they got it all. No, quite literally. That appointment to view television is long gone. Instead, they can watch what they want, when they want - be that on CBBC, iPlayer, Nickelodeon or Netflix. Content is available in so many different formats and in so many different ways. Younger viewers are spoilt for choice. But what sort of impact has the rise of on-demand TV and streaming services had on other industries? If one of the streaming services is launching a new TV series, what does that mean for the toy industry? Can manufacturers afford to wait for the big Christmas push to launch their latest toy and games? Kids would have already been watching and interacting with a certain characterfor a matter of weeks, if not months, and they want to play with it now. Some innovators, like ZAG Studios, have turned to launching
it all in together, a series that interacts with a toy line, that corresponds with a digital content platform, too. Meanwhile, others, like Funko, are seriously cutting the toy line roll-out time from the traditional 12 months to 12 weeks. But it's not easy to follow that suit. On the other hand, the rise of the streamers - and the need for more content than ever - could help the toy industry. Disney is preparing to launch its rival to Netflix in early 2019, while DC Entertainment recently launched its own subscription video platform. As fans await the next Avengers or Wonder Woman film, the streaming services could easily keep those properties in the public eye, helping to extend the potential buying and selling time for character-based products. Another interesting thing we have seen recently has been the launch of ‘pop-up channels.’ These are channels that broadcasters launch over a specific period of time, for example during the school holidays. These can be dedicated to a theme (animation) or series (Postman Pat). Again, they are another example of offering viewers what they want, when they want it. Yes, these may have a linear schedule (a set start and end time), but they are still offering bespoke content to the viewer. While more content ultimately makes the audience more demanding, the plus is it helps sell more product.
"More content makes us more demanding but it sells more product." Jenny Priestly is the editor of TVBE, a UK trade magazine for the boradcasting sector. She is an avid TV, Netflix, Amazon Prime... anything watcher and commentator.
October 2018 | toy news | 7
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The London-headquartered Funko Europe is on a mission to lead the global pop culture explosion from the front with growth across EMEA, which explains why the office is now a melting pot of multi-linguists. Robert Hutchins sits down with managing director, Andy Oddie for a tet å tet
ndy Oddie has been brushing up on his French. It’s only a basic GCSE-level he possesses enough to get him deux biéres, and then deux des plus - but when dealing with Parisian executives who would rather complete business transactions in their mother tongue, the small touches like this really do all add up. It’s actually become a stipulation for newcomers joining the Funko team, headquartered in London’s Hammersmith, to arrive brandishing multiple language skills; it’s part of the Funko EMEA managing director’s strive to ease business across a “fragmented European market.” Funko EMEA is after all, the European hub for the Funko brand and as Oddie tells me himself, “It’s hard to address a market when you don’t have the language skills.” It was at the start of last year that Funko’s US base moved to implement a central European command with the acquisition of the then Clapham-based Underground Toys, and since then it has been on the pop culture specialist’s agenda to continue to grow its reach across the EMEA region.
Earlier this year, when ToyNews interviewed Funko’s US CEO, Brian Mariotti, the impassioned company chief highlighted just how integral the UK office was to growing the Funko brand, not only across Europe, but actually, across the world. Key to this was the repositioning of the European office to where it stands now. Through the window behind Oddie looms Disney's London HQ, while lined up behind me is an expanse of product running from wall to wall, a showcase of just a fraction of the current Funko portfolio, but still mightily impressive. “Yep, we have got over 1,100 different licensed contracts now, where we were half or less than that this time last year,” Oddie tells me, clearly picking up on my early signs of and expression of awe. October 2018 | toy news | 11
Big interview Funko’s recent run of acquisitions is what’s got the company to where it is today. In purchasing the likes of Land Flag and Underground Toys over the last two years, the firm has picked up not just a slew of new licenses, but positioned itself in new categories - those like homewares - that it simply didn’t have before. “The biggest things for us over the past 12 months have been category diversification, better distribution, more of a developed sales team and the purchase of our animation studio in Bath,” summarises Oddie in one fell swoop. It’s all about growth for this outfit, continues Oddie: “We are not slowing down, the idea is to put our foot to the floor and become operationally sound, which is a constant improvement process to get to where we need to be across EMEA.” Carrying the team through this is, of course its library of licenses and an almost overwhelming portfolio of product. It’s currently totalling at more than 7,000 items and is arguably its biggest asset when
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“Our customer and retail channel targets are very broad. We are anything from a music store through to a gift store, a grocer, a toy store, or airport shops - we don’t really have a channel we are not interested in.” Andy Oddie, Funko Europe
it comes to building its business on a global scale. Who else can offer that, afterall? “There are nuances across all EMEA markets, and each has its own trading nuances and consumer preferences. They have their own barriers to entry and their
own benefits - it’s a very fragmented Europe of over 100 countries, but the Funko philosophy is that everyone is a fan of something, and that is definitely true, and our product and category diversification means that we are well placed to tap into those nuances and preferences on a global scale and work with retailers all across EMEA.” By the time this issue lands on desks, Oddie would have just returned from Russia Comic-Con, a region in which the Funko following is picking up at “an exciting pace.” The same, he tells ToyNews, can be said of the Middle East, South Africa and the Nordics. The pop culture explosion has gone global, and Funko has both the desire and means to be leading that from front. “We are working closely with retailers across EMEA to support them through social media and helping to curate professional looking Funko statements in store,” says Oddie. “Previously, our product was placed in an erratic way, but now we spend time pulling together art for retailers and approving sections in the way we would like it to look with a Funko statement; whether that’s in a Tesco, a Carrefour in Spain, KaDeWe in Germany, or HMV or The Entertainer in the UK.” The infiltration of the Funko offering into mainstream retailers and grocers has been an ongoing movement for the past number of years, and one that is in line with the ushering in of the current kidult trend and a mainstream passion for pop culture. However, it is perhaps this new partnership with the UK toy shop The Entertainer that is most affirming for the brand and its place within today’s market. “The Entertainer is a relatively new deal that came around the time we were exiting the relationship with Toys R Us,” Oddie explains. “We had been talking to Stuart Grant for many years about the hurdles we had to get through, which eventually, we managed to do.. “They are very excited with the results so far - they have invested a lot of money in presenting Funko appropriately in store, and it is bearing fruit. From the last discussion we had, Funko is at the forefront of a lot of its strategy at the moment.” But then, Funko is never far away from the forefront of many retailers’ strategies, fitting, as it does, into any mould; and that is through its diversity of IP.
“Our customer and retail channel targets are very broad. We are anything from a music store through to a gift store, a grocer, a toy store, airport shops - we don’t really have a channel we are not interested in, and that’s because we have a broad product line of over 7,000 items, so there is always something for someone… it is a matter of curating that space to be appropriate to whatever the retailer is.” But diversity is just one facet of the many stringed bow of this collectables outfit. Second to it is the firm’s famed speed to retail and the manner in which Funko perhaps alongside a small handful of others in the collectables space - has changed the way that the industry thinks about vendors. Turnaround time on a product line has been brought way down to around 12 weeks, with somewhere between ten and 20 new lines being produced a month. It means retailers can get their hands on the latest or hottest license in record time, enabling them to catch a hot IP trend at the height of its popularity. “The 12 to 18 month cycle is no longer a thing,” says Oddie. “We try to bring product to market within three months and because of that, we always have a lot of brands at the forefront of our mind and have IP that we are always working on - the number of licenses we add or renew are far in excess of any other company in this industry, and in truth, we need that to keep the line exciting.” Whether it’s a back catalogue of heritage, retro or vintage brands such as
the 1960s James Bond, or the bang up to date latest trend, like Fortnite, it is the breadth, explains the UK firm’s boss, that keeps fans engaged with the Funko brand. And not only that, it keeps the IP owner engaged as well. “We are often addressing back catalogue IP or legacy IP that an IP owner had previously not exploited, and they love that, because who else is going to make that product for them, in that area?”
Oddie asks. “And that in turn might lead to exploring that license with other partners if it does well. We can and have definitely driven behaviours among other licensees through the success that we have had through specific IP…” So it would seem that Funko is a friend to everyone: At retail it is flexible yet invested in bringing the Funko name to life, across IP owners it sits at the vanguard of the pop culture explosion and with pop culture fans it brings them a level of engagement in their favourite brands at varying height of immersion. We haven’t even got around to that recent acquisition of an animation studio in Bath, or the prospect of digital gaming, yet. Putting the question to Oddie, he suggests that “nothing is off the table.” “We are not ruling out any digital opportunity as it is hugely important to us. We won’t deny that we are looking at anything but we can only do so many things,” he says. “We have massively grown the team down in Bath with the acquisition of the animation studio Big Evil Corp with the objective to crank out more content for us to use for digital opportunities. Whether that's ads for social media or short form content. “Meanwhile, we are keeping our eye on the growing global market for Funko, whether that’s across Europe, South Africa, or Russia. The developed markets are one thing, but the rest of it; we are spending a lot of time in those markets making sure the Funko message is out there, the philosophy is out there and the retailer have the right tools to work with us and fuel the success of the brand,” he concludes. “And it’s all about speaking the same language, whichever one that is.” October 2018 | toy news | 13
Brand Licensing Europe
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Brand Licensing Europe
SEE IT TO BLE-VE IT You know the drill, this time of year means we’re all systems go for Europe’s largest licensing event in London. But why should we, the toy industry, really care? Anna Knight can tell us why BLE is a must-attend, and the reasons are myriad
f you’re stuck for reasons as to why pay London Olympia’s Brand Licensing Europe a visit this year, Anna Knight has 121 billion of them, and they all encompass the character and entertainment business. That’s because that figure is the value in dollars of the world’s character and entertainment licensing industry, one that, according to the latest LIMA Annual Global Licensing Industry survey, remains the number one licensing category by retail sales across the globe. Overall, character and licensing represents 45 per cent of the entire licensing market and has been an industry responsible for the storming success of toy brands such as Shopkins, LOL Surprise, PAW Patrol, Peppa Pig and Hatchimals. Thanks to the success of some very powerful brands and children’s properties - just like those listed above - the space has seen a year on year increase of 2.7 per cent. And given the choppy waters that manufacturers, retailers and consumers have braved over the last 12 months, that is no insignificant number. October 2018 | toy news | 15
Brand Licensing Europe “But what’s really interesting for character and entertainment now is how much potential there is for it to continue to grow, and how many opportunities there are for the way that growth is driven,” Anna Knight, brand director at Brand Licensing Europe, tells ToyNews. “Licensing and toys have always been inextricably linked from day dot of the licensing industry, and they remain intertwined still, with toys powering sales of licensed product, and licensed toys frequently appearing both on the top toys lists and the top performing category lists as collated by the NPD Group. “For example, PAW Patrol features on Argos’ Christmas Top Toy predictions this year. It also features on Amazon’s alongside LEGO Harry Potter and Nella the Princess Knight.” More than this, continues Knight, toys currently account for 13 per cent of global retail sales at $36.1 billion, second only to apparel. And as such, Brand Licensing Europe is offering plenty for toy industry visitors - whether you’re a retailer or a manufacturer - to sink their teeth into throughout the show this year. “Many of the brands on our exhibitors’ stands have that toy category potential,” says Knight. “The majority of these are in the Character and Entertainment Zone and they include global TV and movie studios like Viacom Nickelodeon, Warner Bros, Turner Cartoon Network and Universal, which have a phenomenal portfolio of children’s brands, as well as MGA, Mattel and Hasbro.” Are you trending? The modern day toy industry sits in a very enviable position at the moment, with a vast terrain of new emerging trends, consumer habits, tech and markets opening up before it. Equally, the licensing space is currently seeing some big trends moving in, many of which have the potential to add yet another level of innovation to our own. “There are lots of big trends in licensing, currently, that could affect the toy industry,” continues Knight. “Video games, including mobile free-toplay titles which feature in app purchases (think Pokémon Go and Angry Birds) and the rise and rise of esports; celebrity and influencers (Tiana of YouTube’s Toys AndMe fame will be at the show with her 16 | toy news | October 2018
new brand Hearts by Tiana), and challenging sectors in the board games - we have seen licensing industry,” explains Strictly Come Dancing Knight. “Children develop launch a licensed board faster between the ages game while board of six month and five game clubs and cafes years than at any other are popping up all point in their lives, over the UK - and the and the developmental kidult sector, too, with differences between the brands like Hello Kitty higher and lower end of and Pusheen performing this demographic are vast. Anna Knight well across kids’ and adult “In contrast, the industry categories. currently tends to present all “Interestingly, these types of cateproducts, content and brands for gories - while offering fantastic opportunichildren in this age band together as preties for the toy sector - will also encourage school with little differentiation. Amanda, toy brands to think differently in terms Charlotte and Tom will discuss whether it’s of how consumers want to interact with time to rethink this broad category and, if the brand and, therefore, how they should it is, then this is where opportunities for interact with them promotionally and retailers and brand owners will open up to editorially. benefit them and consumers.” “We need to see toy brands be cleverer about social media and how they reach the Future gazing new toy consumer and toy purchaser.” Category diversification is a fundamental Of course, with every new door licenselement in the evolution of the toy space, ing may open, so too, does it increase the just as it is with character and entertainpressure felt by many in sectors that are rement licensing. It’s no secret that content nowned for their high levels of competition consumption today - whether digital, already; sectors such as pre-school, where SVOD, streaming or any other platform - is character and entertainment IP often propelling the licensing space as well as works so well, but challenges are rife. opening new avenues in toys. “Yes, the pre-school market has been “This was touched on in our keynote tough,” confides Knight. “But, as I menlast year with Buzzfeed’s head of licensing tioned earlier there has also been a huge who criticised the licensing industry for number of brands that have cracked the taking too long to bring products to marpre-school market and are continuing to do ket,” continues Knight. brilliantly: PAW Patrol and Peppa Pig are “We can’t ignore that kids consume just two of these. media completely differently to the way “We have also watched in awe as LEGO we did. They rarely watch TV, they watch made a powerful resurgence and MGA’s YouTube. Even when they are watching TV, LOL Surprise was the hit of last Christmas. they watch it on YouTube. They take the So let’s not be too down on it just yet, word of the influencer as gospel. there are great brands out there in this “This migration to online - tied with market and potential for many more to e-commerce and social media - is one of enter and do just as well.” the reasons why we demand instant gratiMeeting her optimistic outlook on this fication. We see something we like online particular sector in licensing is a panel and we want it now. This can result in huge session taking place at BLE about the trends but they may also have very short pre-school market and its potential to windows of opportunity. It is critical that open up to new brands. Called Redefining we get faster at reacting if we are going to Preschool, the panel will take place on take advantage of these opportunities and Tuesday October 9th at 1pm and hosted by enjoy the benefits of creating products Fundamentally Children’s Amanda designed for a ready-made fanbase.” Gummer alongside Charlotte Hill and Tom Part of taking advantage of those opporRoe from DHX Brands. tunities is in firstly discovering what those “Together they are going to talk about opportunities are, and Brand Licensing how pre-school is one of the most crowded Europe is always a great place to start.
Brand Licensing Europe
20 things you don’t want to miss at BLE 2018 It’s the 20th anniversary of BLE so it seems apt for ToyNews to compile and present to you this list of 20 things you just have to check while you’re visiting Europe's biggest licensing show this October 9th to 11th.
ast year, over 7,500 retailers, licensees and marketers attended London Olympia’s Brand Licensing Europe, with 37 per cent of all attendees being from overseas. 289 companies exhibited at BLE 2017, occupying eight
per cent more floor space than ever before. As you can probably gather, Brand Licensing Europe has a lot for visitors to take in. That's why we have broken that all down for you, into a selection of this year's biggest ‘must see’ moments…
1 Tiana tugs at the Hearts (and purse) strings Get in line to meet the YouTube sensation and star of her very own toy line, Tiana of Tiana Toys AndMe fame as she becomes the first British kidfluencer to take the stage and present her own stand at BLE. The social media star will be here alongside The Social Store to launch Hearts by Tiana, a lifestyle brand targeting all those millions of followers.
Patel of TOMY to talk licensing, toys and innovation on Wednesday, October 10th at the Licensing Academy.
2. 50 years of feeling Hungry Feast your eyes on Rocket Licensing’s sumptuous line-up of new partners and planned activity for the children’s classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar as this evergreen and ever-popular brand approaches its 50th anniversary in 2019. It’s already sold 45 million copies of the original Eric Carle story around the world and next year, it’s hungry for more with toys, butterfly kits, confectionery, gifts and greetings all waiting in the wings.
3. Getting your Mojo back Join Mojo Nation and a host of industry illumni for a discussion around the the topic of Playing with Brands. Mojo Nation’s Billy Langsworthy will be met on stage by Pete Cartlidge of Fuse London, Rob Harris of Modiphius Entertainment, Fi Murray of Making Things Studio and Alpesh 18 | toy news | October 2018
4. A BLE Moose see Moose Toys has made some pretty enormous waves in the toy market over the years, so you’ll want to find out what it and its licensing agent Bulldog Licensing have up their sleeves for its new slate of toy properties this year, too. Discover what’s in store for Pikmi Pops and Shopkins and witness the launch of the Treasure X licensing initiative for the first time at Bulldog’s stand C2.
5. Bear with us, we’re 60… For 60 years, Paddington has delighted children around the world, and thanks to the ongoing celebrations and licensing efforts of The Copyrights Group, Michael Bond’s famous Peruvian bear looks ready to enjoy well over another 60 more. Hold onto your hats because the recent box office success of Paddington and Paddington 2 is just the beginning for Paddington Bear’s journey with the generations to come.
Brand Licensing Europe
6. Learn the fundamentals Leap back into the Licensing Academy on Wednesday, October 10th for a look at the future of pre-school licensing with Fundamentally Children’s Amanda Gummer and DHX Brands’ Charlotte Hill and Tom Roe. The trio will be tackling the issue of a crowded marketplace in their session “Redefining Preschool’ which promises to be a must attend talk on tips for unpicking the preschool problem. 7. Time for a refreshment? Right, it’s probably time for a drink by now… so why not combine those two loves: toys and booze with a swift one on Women in Toys. The team will be hosting drinks in the Brands & Lifestyle Bar at 4pm on Wednesday, October 10th. It’s certainly one to add to your calendar… like you’d need an excuse to…
8. Master chefing OK, it’s not strictly toys but it is playing up to our senses, and a fella’s gotta eat, so why not learn all you need to know about the food and drink brand Masterchef in the BLE Kitchen & Demo Area with a live demonstration taking place at 11am and 3pm on Wednesday, October 10th? Food & Beverage is the theme of this year’s show, so enjoy the sights, smells and hopefully samples of this latest culinary adventure.
9. Retro electro Yesteryear is very now and SEGA Europe is tapping right into that trend with its 90s icon and mascot, Sonic the Hedgehog and his rapidly growing licensing roster. Catch up with the award-winning licensing team at stand E45 for a run-through of the latest SEGA IP including new board games from the Total War license.
live experience at Hyde Park in collaboration with Secret Cinema, visit Penguin Ventures at stand B45 to find out more about why this classic IP, loved by children and adults alike, stands the test of time four decades later. 11. Win a stand at BLE 2019 The License This! competition returns for another year, marking its tenth anniversary here at BLE on Thursday, October 11th. The competition will see shortlisted entrants go head to head in front of a panel of judges to win the coveted prize of a stand at BLE 2019 and a year’s membership with LIMA. There will be winners from Character and Animation and Brand and Design this year in a competition that promises to be extremely hot.
12. A glimpse into the future Enjoy a fireside chat with Bethany Koby the CEO of Tech Will Save US, as she recounts the firm’s first foray into licensing with the launch of its Avengers Electro Hero Kit. Koby will discuss her licensing debut as well as her vision for shaping a brighter future for kids and technology. 13. Into the woods Next year marks 20 years of The Gruffalo, a property that has charmed kids in the toy, games and puzzles space for almost as long. Why not take this chance to find out what brand owner Magic Light Pictures has in store for this children’s favourite by visiting the team at stand F90? You never know, Stick Man and Room on the Broom may also be making an appearance while you’re there, too.
10. Wanna build a Snowman (licensing programme)? It’s a year for big anniversaries, and they don’t come much more iconic than Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman. In the run up to the festive season and the launch of a big new October 2018 | toy news | 19
Brand Licensing Europe
17. Collecting a
14. Powering through 20
century...nearly We know that collecting is big business, but did we all know that Topps has been doing it for 80 years? Either way, we ought to celebrate this near century of fuelling the collectables and licensing industry by paying the team a visit at stand B65 where the world of pop culture promises to come alive.
It’s another 20th anniversary, this time for the hit kids’ property The Powerpuff Girls. Turner’s Cartoon Network has got plenty in store for this animated triumph following a successful reboot and relaunch into the toy space through building sets, figures and more. There’s plenty of punch packed into these powerful heroes this year and beyond so don’t miss out.
18. Strolling down the aisle You can’t come to Brand Licensing Europe and not take a moment to enjoy the world-famous Character parade. No really, you can’t. They won’t let you… So it’s best to gather at the entrance to see this year’s sea of popular licensed characters assemble at 11am on Tuesday, October 9th.
15. It’s the bloomin’ Moomins Well, you can take your pick here. Bulls Licensing will not only be hosting a Moomin seminar to take fans of the heritage brand behind the scenes of its upcoming animated family TV drama, Moominvalley on Wednesday, October 10th, but they’ll also be hosting a special Moomin Mingle too. Celebrate the success of the hit kids’ and adults’ brand from 4pm on the Wednesday and enjoy a drink on the cast.
19. Lounging around Need some light-speed WiFi, a coffee and quiet spot for contemplation? With exclusive access to BLE’s Retail Lounge all this can be yours. It’s situated in the Brands & Lifestyle Zone, just away from the buzz of the show, so you can really catch your breath, read this magazine and refuel.
16. Show me the money! Highlighting the vast diversity and creativity of licensed products, the Product Showcase will be returning to BLE once again. Make sure you swing by on your way through the Brands & Lifestyle Zone to take in the some 200 licensed products on display, It’s a sight to behold. 20 | toy news | October 2018
20. Party time Because you’re going to need it. Brand Licensing Europe is the show where attendees know how to work hard. But stone me, if they don’t know how to party even harder… There’ll be LIMA parties, mixers, cocktail hours, anniversary drinks and time for mingling aplenty, so make sure to check the attendee agenda and plan your diary now.
At an estimated value of $25 billion, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a global behemoth and with a second spin-off movie Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald ready to land at cinemas, it’s only going to get bigger. Robert Hutchins leaps into the magical Potter universe.
ake the staircase at the grand entrance of one of London’s oldest and finest toy shops downwards and you will quickly be transported into a world filled with magic, wonder and a lot - a lot - of Wow! Stuff product. Yes, it’s a giant LEGO Hagrid that greets you as you enter Hamleys’ new underground world of Harry Potter but round the corner and you will be met with walls upon walls of the newest and most exciting - and award-winning - Golden Snitches, Wands, 22 | toy news | October 2018
Tom Riddle’s diaries, Wingardium Leviosa training kits and plenty more. It’s been over 20 years since the Boy that Lived leapt to life on the pages of the first in JK Rowling’s series of seven Harry Potter books that narrated the young wizard’s journey through school, puberty and ultimately his battle against the Dark Wizard, Lord Voldemort, and still to this day does the franchise delight and entertain children and adults. In fact, Rowlinghas plenty to answer for. It was arguably the
world of Harry Potter that ushered in today’s current trend for kidulting; the surge in adult audiences of fans of the more typically child-focused entertainment markets like toys. Last year, this kidult market spent £383 million on toys, growing eight per cent in value and accounting for 11 per cent of the total toy sector. At the same time, Rowling’s creation gave life to a cinematic behemoth in the formation of Warner Bros’ Wizarding World of Harry Potter franchise. Factor-
ing in the recent spin-off, weeks from hitting cinemas 2016’s Fantastic Beasts across the UK, it’s Wow! and Where to Find Stuff’s toy line that will Them, the Wizarding be bringing the magic World of Harry Potter from the screen to theme parks (built homes around the around the cinematic country. tale) and its assorted But that journey memorabilia, the Potter hasn’t been easy, nor franchise is worth an has it been short. Richard North estimated $25 billion. “It’s been nearly two Which isn't bad, and while years of learning, which a number of avid Potter heads has been priceless - this is not a out there would have already beaten them brand that you can take any liberty with to the punch, Entertainment Weekly has and nor should you,” North tells ToyNews. “We had wanted to work on Harry Potter even contextualised that into Wizarding products for a long time, so meeting with currency, and the total translates to about the team at Warner’s in EMEA and then 52 million galleons, 11 sickles and 15 knuts. the USA was fantastic. How accurate that number is is anyone's “They all got their heads around our guess... Perhaps Wow! Stuff’s Richard idea of cross category innovation and really North could shed some light? pushed forward the conversation centered North has, after all, just become a major on our technical and invention new character in the Wizarding World of capabilities.” Harry Potter’s ongoing retail narrative, As a result - and reflected in the preslanding every child - and adult’s - dream ence with which Wow! Stuff seemingly job. With the second spin-off, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald just steals the show at Hamleys’ Wizarding World retail zone itself - the launch of the toy line has been met with critical acclaim, as well as strong retailer and consumer reaction. Already, the 2019 range is complete and development is now “well under way” on Wow! Stuff’s 2020 collection, too. So what’s the secret to North’s success, here? The Warner-owned Harry Potter brand is notoriously hard work, the levels of safeguarding around the brand - even getting them to comment on the franchise - is almost as impenetrable as Gringotts - or worse still, Azkabhan, yet it’s a feat that has been pulled off in spectacular form by the Wow! Stuff CEO. ‘When I reflect on how colossal the Harry Potter brand is in its audience, it does make me nervous,” he continues. “Warner’s entrusted us with what is one of the most precious brands in licensing today. A brand that has had total care and kid gloves wrapped around it. I think in terms of end results, we have delivered Wow Factor
products, as the online reviews are showing, and the six awards in six weeks stand testament to that. “Perhaps soon, we’ll breathe out.” If you were to visit Hamleys’ basement, not only would you find the Wow! Stuff offering in full, but the effort that has been and continues to be exerted in supporting not just this collection, but the franchise’s entire collection, with demonstration art-
October 2018 | toy news | 23
ists bringing the products and story to life all-year round, large screens with product and Potter videos and branded areas. The retail zone houses products from across Warner’s portfolio of brand partners that includes LEGO and Mattel as well as plenty of others, each with the shared vision: to continue to expand the experiences that the Wizarding World delivers to fans across the ages. Paul Bufton, vice president of licensing and business development, WBCP EMEA, tells ToyNews: “As we celebrate the 20th anniversary and gear up for the highly-anticipated premiere of Fantastic
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Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, we have reengaged existing partners and brought on new licensees to deliver a reimagined assortment of products that began hitting shelves earlier this year. “This year, we introduced new tech-toys like Wow Stuff’s Mystery Flying Snitch and the Harry Potter Light Painting Wand that have been hugely successful with fans who are looking for innovative products that bring the magic of Harry Potter to life like never before. “We are also thrilled to be partnering with bestin-class licensees such as LEGO and Mattel to create expertly designed toys and collectables that fuel imagination, creativity and storytelling. The building sets and doll collection have already been a huge hit at retail and are expected to top holiday shopping lists this season.” Wow! Stuff will also remain a key partner of Warner’s for the foreseeable future, with “huge growth” expected for Richard North’s team and its innovative toy lines next year and beyond. “We have some real blockbusters in our current line-up, but what we have coming next is Wow! in every way
imaginable. When you see it, you will not believe your eyes.” While I have always made it a rule to remain skeptical to the last of hyperbole in any form, it’s happily that I admit I have been drawn in. Staggering early sales, six - six - industry awards and the backing of Warner Bros, it really does all seem to be putting money where mouths are at the moment. Perhaps adding to this further is the fact that Warner is such a tricky customer? The Wizarding World of Harry Potter may go down in history as one of the most frustrating brands with which to get your foot in the door. But doesn’t this all add to its air of pedigree? “As the brand continues to have a great custodian in Warner Bros, it has protection from over licensing and brand slapping,” continues North. “We have seen in the past how over licensing can burn brands until the products cannot even be given away. “Our Potterhead specific design team aims to create products which keep the magic of Harry Potter alive. The big aim is to have a 365 offering at retail level, so we can then afford to re-invest significantly into marketing. This includes in-store screens, TV advertising and demonstrations. “It’s the perfect combination of two partners who work in good faith and trust each other to help achieve a bigger goal,” he concludes with a flourish.
IT’S A BING,THING Acamar Films’ Bing remains one of the most requested and viewed shows on CBeebies and iPlayer, it’s also just secured Golden Bear as its new master toy partner, so it’s no wonder the firm is in the mood to celebrate. ToyNews talks to Sandra Vauthier-Cellier, Acamar’s chief commercial officer, about the firm's plans for growth across the UK, Ireland and Europe
hen Acamar Films, the London-based indie studio behind the hit series Bing scooped the former 20th Century Fox exec Sandra Vauthier-Cellier as its chief commercial officer, its flag was placed firmly in the ground. The message to the competition was clear: This is an outfit that means business, and that business is pre-school. It was only four years ago that Acamar Films first launched Bing, a pre-school26 | toy news | October 2018
aged rabbit with a penchant for everyday adventure - to UK television. It’s a youth that’s difficult to grasp, because since then Bing has become a real tour de force in the pre-school market. Not only has the Brown Bag Films-produced series become the top-rated show on CBeebies, but with over 250 million requests, it is the leading pre-school show on iPlayer and the second most requested across the entirety of the BBC. And that’s pitting it against the likes of Bodyguard and Mrs Brown’s Boys.
But this success certainly comes as no surprise. Since its launch in 2014, Acamar Films has had the ability to bring in some big names as it made its tracks within the licensing space, kicking off as it did with a soft toy launch courtesy of Fisher-Price. Now, in 2018 the company has done it again with the appointment of Golden Bear as Bing’s new master toy partner. The toy firm is poised to launch an extensive new toy line across the UK, Ireland, EMEA and Australia from autumn/winter
next year, featuring Bing, Flop and the show’s cast of friends in a line that spans plush, including basic, talking, feature, night-time and jumbo, as well as figurines and play-sets, role-play items, bath toys and wooden peg puzzles. “This new partnership will be key to driving the future success of Bing as its popularity accelerates in the UK and the international roll-out continues in major markets across the globe,” Vauthier-Cellier, tells ToyNews. “We are thrilled to welcome Golden Bear to the Bing family. The team has demonstrated a genuine passion for the property and its record of success in the pre-school sector is unrivalled. It is undoubtedly the perfect partner to capture the unique essence and values of Bing and transform them into a range of toys that children and parents love.” This toy line, according to Golden Bear’s managing director, Barry Hughes, will be a pivotal new factor in further growing the brand, not just in the UK, but across the whole of Europe. “We are extremely excited about bringing our pre-school expertise and passion for toys and applying it to the wonderful property, Bing,” he explains. “We have watched with great admiration as Bing has established himself in the hearts of pre-schoolers over the last few years, and the iPlayer views are a true testament to how much pre-schoolers with to engage with the characters.” EMEA will be a key focus for not only Golden Bear’s toy range but the series itself. Already, Bing is proving to be a big hit with pre-schoolers around the globe, broadcasting in 100 countries and boasting licensing representation in Poland, Spain, Portugal, Benelux, Italy, South Africa and Australia with a wave of others soon to be announced. So, yes. Acamar Films really does mean business. And in fact, it is well on the path so seeing it done. And in no small part is this down to a strategic shift in gear for the studio, as well as the major coup it achieved in securing the talents and expertise of one of the licensing industry’s biggest forces. The expanded commercial team is now helmed by chief commercial officer and industry veteran, Vauthier-Cellier, with what it has called a ‘recentralised, in-house
“We have watched with great admiration as Bing has established himself in the hearts of pre-schoolers over the last few years, and the iPlayer views are a true testament to how much pre-schoolers with to engage with the characters.” Barry Hughes, Golden Bear
media sales and licensing and merchandising division.’ Of this, emerging trends in the licensing space such as experiential, will be a central focus for the firm’s commercial approach. “Experiential partnerships are vital for connecting with the Bing audience and the sector has become a strategic focus for the business following the successful launch of Bing Live, the Bing shows at CBeebies Land and Butlins, plus themed activities at Super Camps,” says Vauthier-Cellier. “It’s all part of a wider global growth strategy to ensure that we deliver the right content at the right time and on the right platform, while always remaining authentic and true to what Bing is and what Bing stands for for kids across the world.” October 2018 | toy news | 27
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Amid trade wars with China, the collapse of Toys R Us and growing issues of IP theft, the US toy market emerged from the first half of 2018 seven per cent up on last year. We check in the Toy Association’s Steve Pasierb for the latest from across the ocean
t really was only a matter of time before the toy industry was dragged into the ongoing battle for power between The United States’ President Donald Trump and China’s Xi Jinping. At the time of writing, reports had emerged that the White House had slammed a new wave of tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports, hitting upwards of 6,000 Chinese goods with import duties of ten per cent, from refrigerators to electrical components, circuit boards, furniture and components that go into making some toys. Finished toys, at this present time, remain outside of Trump's swinging sword. But for just how long will they be safe? It’s likely that by the time you are reading this, US consumers will be somewhere between days, or weeks, away from paying jacked up prices for such commodities, as the two leaders continue to measure their strength of arm, among other things, in front of a global audience. Of course, as is Newton's first law, the reaction came swiftly from China and Beijing hit back with increased fees on further $60 billion of American products. The rhetoric behind this trade war has been clear from the start. Washington wants to address “China’s unfair trade practices,” and for it to dial back on plans that according to the US, Europe and other trading partners, ‘violate China’s market-opening commitments.’
Meanwhile, China has been trying to recruit allies such as Germany, France and South Korea against the US capital state. What this all means is that Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of the Toy Association, the US equivalent of our very own BTHA, is currently a very busy man. While these two powers continue to flex, thousands if not potentially millions are being swept up in what has been billed as a 'war on trade.' And this is where Pasierb, and the Toy Association have done their bit to step in. Keeping on top of each political, social or economic affair that threatens potential impact upon the North American - if not the global - toy industry can certainly be no easy task, given the whirlwind of a year 2018 has proven to be both Stateside and here in the UK, so far. So right now, Pasierb's job is not an enviable one. But he is not acting alone. Last month, the TA joined Americans for Free Trade, a multi-industry coalition aimed at opposing tariffs and highlighting the benefits of international trade to the US economy. It's Pasierb and the TA's latest step in its aggressive fight against toy tariffs. "This tit for tat trade war with China presents a real concern and risk for the US toy industry," Pasierb tells ToyNews. "The US toy industry continues to recover from the loss of Toys R Us, but the journey will last through 2019. This is not the time to essentially place a tax on fam-
ilies and their children. Any pressure that decreases consumer spending power and increases the price of toys is a negative that will be felt across our industry." Just as the industry begins to recoup from the loss of Toys R Us, trade wars intensify, and while any eventual cease fire in this ongoing trade war is only speculation, Pasierb and the Toy Association have declared they will continue to act to minimise casualties as best they can. It’s just as well that the US toy market boasts a robustness that may just help it weather the storm. In fact, US toy sales grew seven per cent in the first half of the year, even amid the tumult of Toys R Us shuttering its stores, underscoring the consumer appetite for toys and the resilience of the industry. “We have been told that mass market store managers reported strong Q2s due to the attention paid to and discounts at Toys R Us, which seemingly put consumers into full buying mode,” Pasierb tells ToyNews. The TA president continues: “From specialty to mass e-tail, we are also seeing retailers mobilising to claim market share by expanding toy selections.” What’s going on is that the US market is already seeing positive signs for continued recovery; it's a glimmer of light. “At this moment, the toy community is gearing up for Fall Toy Preview, where hundreds of toymakers will showcase their ready-to-preview lines for next year in October 2018 | toy news | 29
front of global buyers as well as make deals for the current holiday season." But it’s hardly business as usual, and it’s clear that the veneer of a strong first half can only go so far in pasting over the cracks - the real concerns of an industry and market place that has suffered a bit of a beating this year. “Even with strong first half sales results, our team at The Toy Association is managing challenges aplenty - from the recovery process that continues for manufacturers looking to recoup actual monetary losses or replace lost sales from Toys R Us US stores, to the constant threat of tariffs on China imports, to safety and financial risks from IP infringement and counterfeiting, to the quickening transformation of the retail landscape, omnichannel shopping and consumer preference,” Pasierb explains. “The Toy Association works on these and other issues on behalf of the toy community all year long, providing our members with the protection, support, tools and resources they need so they can focus on growing their business. “It’s a continual process that saw us address issues across the nation and in over 40 countries around the world during the past year. To be certain, New York Toy Fair will include a component of these efforts, as well as host information sessions with 30 | toy news | October 2018
“This tit for tat trade war with China presents a real concern and risk for the US and global toy industry. We will continue to fight against tariffs aggresively and support America for Free Trade.” Steve Pasierb, Toy Association
key government officials and regulators to help attendees understand and navigate any new safety and compliance requirements and hot-button issues facing the industry at the moment.” Things in the US toy market may be a few shades off rosie, and ten years on to the letter from the biggest financial disaster in US history, there’s an argument that the current global socio-economic lay of the land, can be traced back to the collapse of the Lehman Bros one decade ago. Yet, this is an economy that weathered the worst of it, just as, believes Pasierb, the toy market will emerge stronger from this current period of readjustment.
How will it do that? Pasierb is quick to cite innovation and creativity as the backbone of the toy industry, while indicating that toy sales continue to be a significant force in the wider licensing world. “Here in the US, licensed products account for nearly 30 per cent of total toy sales, predominantly in categories like action figures, dolls and collectables,” he explains. “In the first half of 2018, US sales for action figures grew 16 per cent thanks to movie releases like Black Panther, Avengers Infinity War and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. And with the release of Frozen 2 next November, dolls are expected to get a boost in 2019, too.” Given the uncertainty of the current situation that toys rests in, there's every chance this is a classic case of clutching at straws. Or is it? Strength of licenses and audience engagement for a brand like a Frozen sequel for instance, could just be enough to maintain a consistency in toy sales should the market come to full face with Trump's tariff territory. This is, afterall, a market that loves a license and one in which licensing in turn is viewed as a firm revenue driver for the industry. And if it can continue to produce a strength of sales figures as evidenced by Pasierb, it just might be set to be a staple of the American economy.
Children's mental health
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Children's mental health
MIND MATTERS AND THE BRANDS CHANGING YOUR ATTITUDE TOWARDS MENTAL HEALTH Following some staggering recent findings into children’s mental health, brands working in the kids’ sector are beginning to assume the responsibility of opening up the topic of conversation for children and adults alike. Robert Hutchins explores how children’s entertainment and games are changing attitudes for the better
n issue number 3,495 of the iconic Beano, a new character is introduced with the aim of tackling one of the biggest issues affecting children and young people of the time; that topic is mental health. It’s a bold move for the weekly comic book and a rather meaty topic to be presenting its core audience of eight to 14 years olds. But then again, for the length of its 80 year history, the Beano has always strived to present each generation of readers with a reflection of the time’s social attitudes and trends. The inescapable truth is that today’s children are growing up amid social pressures that have led to some pretty stagger-
ing statistics regarding mental health issues among younger audiences. The Beano issue in question is actually a David Walliams guest-edited 80th anniversary special of the now iconic weekly children’s comic. Dealing with topical issues ranging from General Elections to celebrity, it is also one that is so often perceived as a zeitgeist of British culture. Mandi and her Mobile is the name of the comic strip, and in it, the title character makes her debut as she is handed her first mobile phone by her mother. Mandi excitedly messages her friends from her new device and the story follows the character’s thought process as she awaits to hear from that one friend who hasn’t texted her back.
Photo by Vanessa Bumbeers on Unsplash
October 2018 | toy news | 33
Children's mental health Over the course of this 11-frame comic strip Mandi portrays the social and mental anxiety of self-doubt so commonly associated to such a scenario - and not only by young people - until her worry is finally dissipated by the end of the strip when she learns that her school friend’s phone has simply run out of battery. Pair this comic strip and its character with the recent slate of figures from Mental Health that suggest that storylines like Mandi’s are among the contributing reasons that mental health issues are affecting almost one in four children in the UK, or that more than a fifth of 14 year old girls in the UK have self harmed owing to social pressures, and it becomes all the more poignant. Kids’ mental health has become a big issue in the UK. Further statistics suggest that one in ten children have a diagnosable mental health disorder; that’s roughly three children in every classroom. On top of that, almost one in four children and young
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people show some evidence of mental ill health, including anxiety and depression. On top of this still, it has been suggested that half of adult mental health problems are established in children before they reach 14 years old. So, it’s clear that there is a big conversation to be had. TV and radio presenter Anna Williamson, known widely among the toy trade for hosting Toy Fair TV at London’s Olympia each year, is also an active ambassador for the charities Mind, Childline and The Princes Trust. She has been for well over a decade now, making the challenge of destigmatising attitudes towards mental health and wellness a personal crusade of hers. “I think there is a general lack of awareness of how important it is to educate everybody… children, adults, grandparents… that we all have mental health and it is not a dirty word,” Williamson tells ToyNews. “It is super important that we take care of ourselves mentally and physically at all times. Historically, mental health has always been seen as something rather shameful and misunderstood. We need to recognise that it is anything but.” In that case, this is something that Beano appears to be doing particularly well, leveling the conversation at young people through a medium they are familiar with and a character and storyline they can relate to.
“I think there is a general lack of awareness of how important it is to educate everybody… children, adults, grandparents… that we all have mental health and it is not a dirty word,” Anna Williamson, TV and Radio presenter
Children's mental health Mandi and her Mobile is the result of a partnership between the Beano and YoungMinds, the UK charity dedicated to bringing conversation around the topic of mental health into the open. The pairing formed as a means of communicating with primary school children on the themes of digital resilience, mental health problems and emotional literacy. “YoungMinds wanted help in talking directly to kids about their own mental health in a way that is genuinely interesting and engaging,” explains Angeles Blanco, director of UK licensing at Beano Studios. “This appealed to us as our expertise lies in creating content which children love and have a long history of tackling difficult issues head on for children.” It’s a line that Beano has always taken, without any desire to take credit for it. It is simply the company’s ethos of delivering what it believes it owes its audience. “We feel brands and companies such as ours, who work with children, have a responsibility to do their bit to help - and we will do that with Beano spirit and positivity,” continues Blanco. “There’s something in the DNA of the Beano characters, they’re joyously and happily imperfect, and we feel strongly that all kids should really embrace that feeling.” It’s a sentiment that mirrors those of Anna Williamson almost to the letter. Personal experience of generalised anxiety disorder, anxiety, depression and panic disorder for over ten years of her life, has led Williamson to where she is today. And where that is, is on a very similar mission,
to normalise the conversation around mental health, and recognising the role that children’s entertainment has to play in this endeavor. “Play is a hugely important tool in helping to teach age-appropriate topics, and mental health falls into this,” she explains. “It’s much more fun and easy to understand and put into everyday scenarios when we adopt a play strategy around it.” Williamson is referring to a project she has recently attached her name to, a Kickstarter project to develop, produce and launch to retail a new tabletop card game for children that deals with the topic of
mental health. The project is called Book of Beasties and is one created by a team that goes by the name of Cutrist Comics. The game itself has been developed with the aid of teachers and is endorsed by numerous psychologists. It sees players team up with characters Oscar, Abigail and Mimic as they make use of a series of strange contraptions to help a world of bizarre creatures. But the game also acts as an aid to help teachers, parents and guardians talk with children about mental health by offering a platform to promote the discussion of issues such as depression and anxiety, as well as to practice the skills and exercises that could be supportive. “A simple conversation about mental health can go a long way to empowering a young person to find the courage to openly discuss their emotions and concerns,” Phil Tottman, co-creator and Book of Beasties and co-founder of Cutrist Comics, tells ToyNews. “Play really assists in the introduction of any serious subject; especially between a parent and child. Mum and Dad aren’t always the first people you choose to talk with about something deeply personal when you’re younger, or throughout life for that matter. “However, if you weave these subjects into a tasteful game, or other types of enjoyable platforms, then you’re going to be more likely to encourage openness.” October 2018 | toy news | 35
Children's mental health
The Book of Beasties does this in its gameplay. Instead of forcing a discussion, it puts an emotion or action into a visual context with the aim of making it far less daunting for the child to talk about it. Already, it is drawing parallels with the Beano’s efforts through its storytelling. “What the Beano has done is something amazing,” continues Tottman, “and that is simply dedicate a small part of its platform to the topic. It shows that you don’t have to redesign a whole brand or reinvent the wheel to broach such subjects, just add a little extra on to something.” Neither do you have to ‘shove the message down the throats of your audience,’ echoes Williamson’s own take on the topic of bringing discussion into play. “When the Book of Beasties was first introduced, it took me about one second to be a fan,” she explains. “The notion of a card game with fantastic graphics and characters that everybody can completely adopt as their own to represent their feelings, it felt like the perfect tool to open up the discussion of mental health within a children and school environment. “Essentially, everything we want to do is about normalising the topic. I think we need to remember that play is play. We 36 | toy news | October 2018
“Play really assists in the introduction of any serious subject; especially between a parent and child. Mum and Dad aren’t always the first people you choose to talk with about something deeply personal when you’re younger, or throughout life for that matter. Phil Tottman, Book of Beasties
don’t always have to keep crowbarring or ramming some sort of message home with products, but when the appropriate product and message comes about, I think it is a really important thing to be clever with and weave into merchandise and literature.” An example of one brand that has done this very well is the US born, yet globally revered Sesame Street, and its recent initiative Sesame Street Communities, a concept
that was conceived to help tackle the issue of the rising number of American children suffering from trauma. The idea is to employ Sesame Street’s intrinsic alignment with childhood in communities across the US in order to help children, families and parents deal with a range of topics, from hygiene and mental health to bereavement or poverty. “When Sesame Street first launched, it launched with the idea that we do not just solely do programming, but our founder really strongly believed that we had to go into communities as well and show how to use this educational platform,” Jeanette Betancourt, senior vice president of community and family engagement at Sesame Workshop, tells ToyNews. “That was nearly 60 years ago and that history has continued.” It’s unmistakably part of the Sesame Workshop and Sesame Street DNA. Ask a member of any generation of the last 60 years and the programme, its characters and its message is often one that narrates a childhood. “The power that these wonderful muppets have to connect both with children and grownups alike on easy topics about brushing your teeth, but also on hard
Children's mental health topics like dealing with grief or the death of a parent, that allows us to connect with organisations, but also with parents and young children.” Through Sesame Street Communities, the not-for-profit organisation offers a central hub of online reference material around all manner of topics, among them is children’s mental health, anxiety and depression. The company is also looking to extend its outreach programme across the US, and eventually the world, by reaching out to communities and caregivers within them, be they doctors, teachers, services aligned with children’s wellbeing, and offer them the tools to engage with children on numerous topics. The initiative - a relatively new launch for the company - is currently active in eight communities in the US. Its aim is to be across 35 communities in the next five years. “This is just so aligned with our mission which is in order for children to have resiliency and well-being, you need to look at all areas of a child’s development, from cognitive to health, physical and emotional health,” says Betancourt. “Around the world, children are facing so many challenges and trauma that we need to address that.” Back with the Beano, and it’s clear that the studio behind this iconic piece of British literature is working towards a similar vision as Blanco details the extent of its partnership with Young Minds.
“We have worked with our panel of Trendspotters, our group of nine to 12 year olds who share the latest crazes, trends and opinions from the playground, to guide us in the creation of content for Beano.com, which promotes YoungMinds’ messaging in Beano’s mischievous way. We have used our insight into what kids love and engage
with to create videos to support YoungMinds campaigns such as Rubber Chicken’s First Day and Rant Attack - Back to School. These support YoungMinds’ Find Your Feet campaign which highlights potentially difficult transition times, such as moving up to secondary school.” Blanco concludes by telling ToyNews that “this is a long-term partnership with YoungMinds,” and that there will “definitely be further content and promotion.” It all begs the question, is this just the beginning of a movement of wellness and mental health focused projects in the children’s entertainment and play space? “I think we are going to continue to see therapy-based, mental health type products emerging into the toy market, it just seems such an obvious space to fill,” suggests Williamson. “We are talking about mental and emotional well-being more than ever, and with children experiencing more and more issues and challenges, the more we can reach them through the ways they communicate, i.e. play, the more we can do to keep that conversation and support going.” Cutrist Comics’ Tottman, concludes: “I sincerely hope this is just the start. More needs to be done in the mental health awareness space for young people. There are resources and programmes out there for schools and children, but many of them are technical, wordy and overly detailed. “I hope to see more of these conversations open up through toys, games, cartoons, entertainment, because that is how you will engage that younger audience far better than sitting them down and talking at them.” October 2018 | toy news | 37
Children's mental health
ANIMATING AUTISM As figures for children diagnosed with autism rise across the globe, entertainment is learning to embrace and reflect its audience's differences. We talk to Paper Owl Films’ director Grainne McGuinness about Pablo, the animated series that discusses autism with children, and why its next move is books and toys
Can you talk us through the concept of Pablo. How does the show open up conversation around autism? Pablo tells the story of a smart, funny and resourceful five year old boy with autism who handles his everyday situations in a novel way; by using magic crayons to create an imaginary Art World filled with playful animal characters which help him turn life’s little challenges into big adventures. Pablo is the first TV programme to feature an all-autistic core cast. Every episode was inspired by the real-life experiences of children with autism and each devised, co-written and voiced by young autistic talent. Pablo is the first mainstream central character of a kids’ show with autism, allowing autistic children to feel reflected on screen in a positive way. He has challenges and obsessions, but he is creative and funny and with his art world friends, discusses what he has to deal with in an accessible way.
How does the show reflect the traits of autism and present those optimistically to its audience? The traits of autism are captured on screen in every frame of the animation. Mouse is sensitive to sound and smells and likes order and patterns, Wren is a flapper, Tang can’t control his energy or his limbs very well, Noa has a lot of anxiety about new
things and can’t read faces very well, Draff is obsessed with facts and being right, Llama is echolalic, repeating the language other people use rather than using her own and Pablo is largely non-verbal. Llama reflects his stage of language development in the inner world. The show features original storytelling, promotes empathy and kindness, reflects a widening audience, as the figures for children with autism rise in a huge way across the world, and teaches kids to embrace difference.
You’ve previously stated that Pablo will be a major part of the future of children’s TV and learning - how so? With so much content available to kids in the world today, we need to find new ways of storytelling that reflect diverse perspec-
tives and speak to young audiences in a way that is more fun and humorous. Quality content for children is something that we have to fight for in the world today.
There’s a planned move in children’s book for Pablo. What potential is there for wider licensing? We see publishing as one of the first pillars for a wider licensing programme and are progressing positively in this area. We also have interest from various toy companies and see enormous potential for a wide range of toys and games which will appeal to all children and incorporate autistic perspectives. For the many millions of children that are on the autism spectrum, Pablo books or toys would be the obvious choice. Crucially, Pablo’s appeal to all children opens up a much wider market, the wider society around autistic children, that learns how to appreciate and have fun with others no matter if they have different ways of approaching every day life.
Is there a need to more brands and IP like Pablo in the children’s space? Any content that fosters love, kindness and an appreciation of all children and the environment in which they are growing up has to be celebrated. Children’s on-screen content and literature has huge potential. October 2018 | toy news | 39
TOOLING FOR A SCHOOLING In this month’s analysis, WildBrain’s head of strategy, Will Mahmood looks at emerging trends across YouTube for the month of August and the performance of the top ten toy properties by sales on the platform in the first half of 2018
t’s back to school season and unsurprisingly, the topic has reared up as a leading trend category across the YouTube platform for the month of August, as kids and parents made preparations for that return to the books. Kids’ content on YouTube generated 70. 5 billion views in the month of August, maintaining third place on the platform behind only general entertainment at 95.5 billion views and music at 128 billion. It is remarkable that general entertainment is only 35 per cent larger, given that it appeals to 75 per cent of the global audience vs the kids’ category, which addresses approximately 25 per cent. In August, back to School was the biggest trending category of the month. August is the month that viewing Back to School content typically peaks as US children return to school. 40 | toy news | October 2018
From July to August, viewing on this category of content doubled from 500 million to one billion monthly views. The Back to School tent pole is not just the target tentpole for kids and teen skewing channels. Home and DIY channels were, in fact, the second-best performing creator genre, commanding 19 per cent of views from just four per cent of content. Home and DIY channels even outperformed teen-skewing Vlogging and Beauty channels. The overwhelming majority of successful videos from these creators focus on back-to-school hacks in a listical format, such as the top Home and DIY video, 17 Funny and Useful Back to School Hacks.
Life-hack content, a genre which shows viewers how to manage time and activities with helpful shortcuts, is consistently popular with young, school-age audiences throughout the year, just as it is with adults, and could offer some interesting inspiration for toy ranges or strategic marketing. From kids’ content creators, the top new upload this month was a Back to School Shopping video by Come Play With Me, a major influencer in the kids’ space, whose channel generates 171 million monthly views. The video is a live-action toy-play video, featuring Disney characters Elsa and Ana visiting a shop run by Barbie. Just wait for the Christmas sequel.
How the Top Ten Toy properties fare on YouTube NPD, a toy market research firm, recently released the top toy properties by sales in the first half of 2018, announcing that global toy sales in H1 2018 grew four per cent globally. YouTube viewing on these properties is massive. In the first half of 2018 these brands generated nine per cent of all viewing for kids’ YouTube content, with views totalling 32 billion from a total of 355 billion kids’ views in the period. Given the popularity of “surprise unboxing” content on YouTube, it made perfect sense to see LOL Surprise (MGA) as the number one toy property by toy sales, according to NPD. This is an incredible feat, as LOL Surprise is also the newest IP in the list. It’s hard to ignore the role of YouTube in catapulting brands to the top spot. Although it comes in fifth place by views, ‘surprise unboxing’ content is enormously popular with today’s YouTube generation. This genre of content is two times larger than all viewing of Marvel characters on the platform and is consistently the most popular toy genre on YouTube. Speaking of Marvel, content featuring Marvel characters generates a massive 1.3 billion monthly views for kids’ creators. This makes it the largest of NPD’s featured toy properties, in terms of YouTube viewing. Despite the increasing screen time of more characters from the Marvel Universe though, the two most popular characters
Top 5 Creator Genre's for Back to School Content % of views
% of videos
26% 24% 20%
17% 14% 11%
Kids Entertainment & Animation
Home & DIY
with kids remain Spiderman and Hulk each being five times larger than Thor and Iron Man. The DC Universe similarly continues to skew to two characters; Batman and Superman. Part of this pattern aligns with legacy popularity trends, but YouTube compatibility also plays a part. For instance, Hulk performs disproportionately well on YouTube because of his visual distinctiveness raising visibility in search and suggested video. Hulk is also narratively versatile for YouTube creators, who find new ways of humorously depicting Hulk getting angry in a way that resonates with children of all ages. Like LOL Surprise, Hulk’s popularity shows the power of designing for YouTube.
NPD Top Ten Toy Properties by Retail Sales for H1 2018
Star Wars had surprisingly low viewing from kids’ creators, but nonetheless ranked third by toy sales. Star Wars viewing actually increases when we include non-kids channels, suggesting it skews older. The relatively low kids viewing of Star Wars on YouTube has been clearly off-set by massive marketing from recent films from the franchise. These levels of marketing, though, are high-risk for new IPs and only make sense for franchises that have stood the test of time. For new IPs, the conclusion is clear: ensuring YouTube compatibility can deliver massive rewards if your brand is embraced by the creator community. Views in billions (new content in H1 2018)
October 2018 | toy news | 41
TV LICENSED Sangita Sivanesan Generation Media reflects on the £4bn worth of licensed products bought for kids last as account manager Sangita Sivanesan asks the question, ‘what’s this year got in store for the sector?' Source BARB May 2018
n conjunction with Brand Licensing Europe celebrating 20 years as a pivotal event for the European brand licensing industry, it seems only right to appreciate the great success licenses have had within the children’s toys and games category. In 2017, the NPD Group’s Kids License Tracker report highlighted the commercial strength and rightly proportional commercial attraction attached to the licensing category with adults purchasing over £4bn worth of licensed products for 0 to 14 year olds. In context, this meant that 16 licensed products were purchased every second in the UK. As for the toy market in isolation, licensed toys accounted for 26 per cent of toy sales. We believe the success toy licenses have commanded will observe year-on-year growth seeing as the category has continued to expand and flourish through the year. Licensed toys tick a lot of boxes, from a commercial perspective a good license would typically guarantee placements with major retailers. Through the eyes of a child, it is easy to understand the desirability licensed toys hold, stemming from prior awareness and emotional appeal instilled by TV programmes and movies. Licensed toys build on this by
tapping into a child’s imagination and in so bringing to life and into their homes their favourite characters. 2018 has definitely been an incredible year so far for licensed toys with toy manufacturers continuing to roll out innovative licensed toys to market. With that being said, the category has naturally become increasingly competitive making it essential for toy manufacturers and licensors’ advertising efforts to stand out and capture their audience’s attention. Looking at the boys’ category year-to-date (January August 2018), one of the top TV campaigns for licensed toys was Voltron Action Figures which delivered 623 B4-9 TVRs. As for the girls’ category, My Little Pony Princess Celestia Glimmer was one of the top campaigns reaching approximately 58 per cent of girls aged four to nine as a 1+ level. Finally, looking at the pre-school market, Nella the Princess Knight was the top campaign delivering 1,543 HW+CH0-3 TVRs year-to-date. These are only a few of the many fantastic licensed toy and games properties featured this year - it will be exciting to see what’s in store for the upcoming months considering schedules are filled with engaging new TV content and blockbuster films set for release.
ToyNews PlayTime is provided by Generation Media 0207 307 7900 | www.generationmedia.co.uk
October 2018 | toy news |42
Campaign of the month
STORIES BY MOONLITE Responding to reports that pre-school reading figures have dropped by one fifth since 2013, Spin Master is encouraging kids to nourish their minds each evening with bedtime stories through its new launch Moonlite and its extensive marketing campaign
pin Master introduces its latest campaign to support the launch of the innovative new story time projector, Moonlite, bringing children’s favourite tales to life. As the darker nights begin to draw in ahead of the change of the clocks at the end of the month, Spin Master’s digital-led campaign is encouraging parents bring back a love for storytelling and reading that will last a lifetime. Recent research shows that only half of pre-school children are being read to every day. It’s a figure that has dropped by a fifth over the last five years. This campaign has therefore been launched to champion the importance of reading in those early years in order to fuel children’s imaginations and build early literacy skills. Working with celebrity and influencer mums, as well as a child psychologist, the campaign aims to put story time at the top of the parenting agenda and drive awareness of the new product launch. Moonlite, a story projector for your mobile phone, creates a magical, immersive storytelling experience that fuels imagination like no other. Already an award-winning product and favourite with parents in the US, Moonlite brings a modern twist to traditional storytelling. Launching in the UK this month, this small device clips onto your smartphone and
uses the torch to project vibrant storybook images onto any surface. While projecting the storybook images, the Moonlite app displays story text and plays charming sound effects, creating a special story time experience for parents and children. Designed to be soothing and calming, Moonlite automatically operates in Night Shift mode to create a relaxing bedtime environment. Children can read and be read classic stories including Mr Men, the Hungry Caterpillar and Beatrix Potter’s the Tale of Peter Rabbit as the characters come to life before their eyes. Celebrity and influencer mums will be testing out the new product and sharing their
experiences through blogs and social channels, driving peer to peer recommendations in the core parenting community online. They will also be sharing their own parenting tips around the clocks going back, alongside advice from a child psychologist on how to build story time into a bedtime routine. The Moonlite launch will also include activity with Mumsnet with sponsored discussions around themes like bedtime routines, audience talks, as well as sponsored content and competition opportunities. The influencer engagement programme driving word of mouth will be further expanded through the Mumsnet blogger community. Retailer support and extensive consumer and trade PR outreach will also be an integral part of the exciting Moonlite launch campaign. October 2018 | toy news | 43
THE HIT PARADE Last year, the menagerie that is the licensed toy sector hit a total $36.1 billion in sales. Around the world children’s favourite brands are bringing in some serious money - let’s take a look at the sector.
It’s not all LEGO Harry Potter and PAW Patrol, you know. Yes, these are two character and entertainment IP that happen to be doing particularly well in the toy stakes at the moment, and there’s no doubt that the likes of Nickelodeon and Warner Bros. are rubbing their hands together whenever this time of year rolls back around, but the licensed toy sector reaches far beyond. There’s Fortnite, for example. The video game franchise is moving itself into the toy sector at a growing pace, seizing the opportunity to take advantage of the millions of players around the world that the game boasts each month. Fortnite has been branded a ‘global movement,’ and not only by the brains behind it. Master Toy partner, Jazwares believes so too, as does Funko - the brand’s collectables partner, as does Hasbro, Rubie’s - in fact, most everyone else affiliated with the Epic Games brand. It was only a matter of time before video games made an impact on the toy industry in such a way. We have seen similar trends emerge from Activision Blizzard’s Overwatch, too. Kids are now immersed in digital titles, and more and more, the toy
industry is turning towards them. But is it doing enough? The world of video gaming is exceedingly fast-paced,and where the appeal of a film like Disney’s Frozen will never change, updates, new skins, new settings, habitats, even characters enter our favourite video game titles on a regular basis. Can the toy industry keep up? Funko is already doing what it can in this regard. The firm has got lead time down from between 12 months to 12 weeks. As the barriers between entertainment, engagement and the physical product begin to blur even more, we can surely only expect to see toy firms follow suit and up their own game in reacting to the youth trends of today, before they are yesterday’s news? But that’s a world still in its relative infancy, and of the $121 billion character and entertainment licensing sector, of which toys makes up $36.1 billion, television and film properties remain among its biggest drivers. And this year, we have plenty of those. Universal’s DreamWorks is setting a staggering pace with its Netflix series Spirit Riding Free, a new take on the girls’ entertainment property and without the slightest whiff of a princess. Playmobil has been
tasked with leading the charge at retail with its licensed play-set, capturing the essence of this new property that aims to empower its audience of girls to embrace adventure. Meanwhile, one can always count on Nickelodeon to bring something to the licensing arena, and this year - it’s gone all out. Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has been billed by many as the most exciting iteration of this gang of amphibians to date and Flair is helming a new toy line that brings this new look animated series to homes across the UK. Turning our attention to theatres, and there’s a roster of toy-shelf friendly titles coming our way over the course of the next year, too. Pigs are about to get smashed in Rovio’s The Angry Birds Movie 2 in 2019. The responsibility, once again, falls to Jazwares to deliver the toys that will help rekindle the world’s flame for the Rovio license when the sequel hits screens next year. And if the success of the last film is any sort of indication, this could potentially be one heavy hitter for 2019 - well, that, or Frozen 2. Could they rival LEGO Harry Potter and PAW Patrol, though? The right potion might just do the trick. October | toy news | 45
Playmobil 01268 548111 Playmobil is continuing its licensed portfolio with an all-new product range based on the popular TV series currently showing on Netflix and POP. That’s right, it’s Spirit Riding Free, a new series that turns stereotypes on its head. It’s not pink and it’s not princess, but it’s all about empowering the girls market. The licensed collection, released at the end of September, includes an array of play-sets to help young fans recreate scenes from their favourite episodes and make up new and exciting stories of their own. The Playmobil Spirit product range includes six play-sets featuring the three main characters; Lucky, Pru and Abigail, as well as their horses: Spirit, Boomerang and Chica Linda. Lucky’s Happy Home, a model of the main character’s house in the frontier town of Miradero is the most iconic product in the range. Featuring the figures of Lucky, Aunt Cora and Spirit the horse, the house offers a secret hideout, as well as all the furniture and features of a typical western period home to help fans bring the famous series to life. The Spirit product range is priced from £3.99 to £79.99 and is suitable for children aged four and above.
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Gibsons 0208 661 8866 firstname.lastname@example.org Founded in 1919, Gibsons has been entertaining generations for almost a century, and is devoted to providing fun pastimes for the whole family. Its Iconic Brands Collection is the successful gift range that includes branded jigsaw puzzles in quirky packaging. From Rubik’s Cube to VW, there is a brand to suit every taste in the mix. Kellogg’s Corn Flakes is Gibsons’ newest licensed 500-piece puzzle. It is perfect for cereal lovers to dig into on a rainy day. This clever puzzle interlocks to recreate the iconic image of a Corn Flakes box, as well as a montage of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes themed images on the other side. The puzzle is presented in a mini replica Corn Flakes box which is sure to make the perfect present. Joining Gibsons’ Iconic Brands Collection in April this year was its Rubik’s Cube jigsaw. Licensed by Smiley, the Rubik’s Cube jigsaw is the devilishly difficult mathematical wonder. This double-sided 500-piece puzzle is packaged in a giant Rubik’s Cube tin, making it a true emblem of the 1980s. The Rubik’s Cube jigsaw puzzle was named as a 2018 toy Fair Hero Toy winner and is sure to test even the most advanced jigsaw puzzle enthusiasts. Finally, travel back in time to the Summer of Love with Gibsons’ VW Campervan puzzle. Packaged in a mini tin replica of the classic blue van, the 500-piece puzzle is a montage of quirky campervans that were a common sight in the mid-20th century. Featuring the ‘split screen’ campervan and a crazy flower power pattern, this montage will have puzzlers dreaming of hot summer days spent caravanning by the coast.
Mattel 01268 500 000 Mattel’s character licenses go from strength to strength as it continues to partner with the best; building on existing brands while introducing new characters to the mix. Thomas & Friends introduces the TrackMaster Turbo Jungle Set, inspired by the new movie, Big World! Big Adventure! In which Thomas travels the world. The play-set sees Thomas complete a jump stunt with a motorised turbo Thomas engine that can travel up to 2.5 times faster than normal TrackMaster engines. The range also includes the ultimate Super Station, which holds over 100 engines, combining the four Thomas toy segments; Adventures, TrackMaster, Minis and Wooden Railway. Other additions include the new Light Up Minis Engines that illuminate when pressed down. Plus, the My First Thomas & Friends Railway Pals Destination Discovery features track activation points which deliver sounds, songs and phrases. Following the launch of the new TV series on Channel 5’s Milkshake, the TrackMaster Adventures and Wooden Railway ranges introduce new characters including Nia, as well as other international engines such as Hong Mei and Yong Bao from China and Shane from Australia. Offerings from Imaginext include the Jurassic World Jurassic Rex which features chomping action, light-up eyes that dilate and a mouth that glows red, while the DC Super Friends range features th Transforming Batcave and the two-feet tall BatBox Xtreme. Fisher-Price’s character brands include the Shimmer and Shine interactive Genie and Zahracorn Assortment, featuring lights and sounds, while Blaze and the Monster Machines introduces the Axle City Monster Stunts Track Set.
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Jumbo Games 01707 289 289
Jumbo Games has already received extremely positive feedback from both puzzlers and fans of the Disney universe since launching three brand new Disney classic puzzles this year. The firm is going all out to celebrate 90 years of Mickey this year, as Jumbo has produced a collectable commemorative Mickey Mouse 90 Years 1,000-piece puzzle. The montage movie reel inspired puzzle shows the magic of the iconic Mickey Mouse throughout the decades and has been called 'an ideal gift for any Disney fan,' by the Jumbo Games team. In addition to the Mickey Mouse anniversary puzzle, Jumbo Games has also released two 1,000-piece movie poster puzzles for two of Disney’s most classic and most widely adored movies: Snow White and Bambi. Both puzzles are in the original movie artwork styles and are "ideal to keep fans, both young and loyal, entertained this autumn." There can be no better to express that nostalgic love for these Disney classics than embarking on a 1,000 piece puzzle journey with them. Looking ahead to 2019 and with these puzzles already proving a hit, Jumbo Games will be releasing two new additions to the range. With 2019 bringing us new live-action movies for Disney’s Dumbo and Aladdin, Jumbo will be releasing a 1,000-piece puzzle to celebrate each of the new releases, but will maintain the classic, nostalgic and heritage look of the original animations with lines featuring classic illustrated artwork from the movies, as they were released years ago. It's a Disney triumph for Jumbo Games this year, and there's no better time for a bit of fantastical nostalgia than Christmas.
Vivid Vivid boasts some strong IP this season in the form of Nickelodeon’s Nella the Princess Knight and the first toy line from the UK’s YouTube sensation, Tiana Toys AndMe. Princess Nella is a tiara-wearing knight in training who dreams of a life of grand adventures beyond the palace. Based on the popular TV programme currently airing on Nick Jr and Channel 5’s Milkshake, the hero item is the Transforming Princess Knight Nella Doll. This bit of kit transforms from Princess to Knight at the press of a button. Hear her talk and sing by pressing her tiara, then when it is time to transform back to a glamorous Princess, simply twist Nella’s belt. You can also brush her hair to make sure she’s looking her best using the brush accessory included in the pack. The Nella range includes a Transforming Rose Shield within the role play collection. The sword has a wearable tiara which plugs in to unleash extra Nella phrases and sparkly sounds as it lights up, and the Rose Shield magically expands from Nella’s family rose to her shield. The Tiana Toys AndMe range recently launched to consumers at a meet and greet event in partnership with The Entertainer. The unboxing themed range ventures into the world of YouTube and the appeal of influencer licensed products. The ‘professional’ unboxer and toy reviewer has over eight million subscribers and 1.7 billion views for her Toys AndMe channel and features across micro toys, gifts and fashion accessories, with design input from Tiana herself. The collection includes the Mega Box Pop Surprise, Tiana’s Unboxing Studio, a Pop n Shop Car Play-set, the Party Pop Surpris and a Totally Tiana Doll.
Character Options Character Options combines collectables with master toy collections to bring the best in licensed toys to the market this season. Girls can discover, collect, build, and display their favourite Disney themed play-sets with the Disney Doorables collectable mix-andmatch, stackable play-sets. With Mini, Multi or Mega Stack Playsets, behind every door, there’s a surprise. Each pack has its own number of favourite Disney characters with glitter eyes, accessories and connector pieces that allow you to recreate magical story moments, or mix up your own Disney Doorables world. Disney Doorables launched in August with a heavyweight marketing campaign including TV, in-store displays, digital activation including its own PopJam channel and influencer videos. Meanwhile, Peppa Pig is a cornerstone brand for Character, and each year sees new themes and play-sets added to the line-up. This year it’s time for “When I Grow Up”, which encourages role play and imagination with an array of exciting play-sets, including the Peppa Pig Mobile Medical Centre. This free-wheeling, two-in-one Ambulance play-set folds out into a full medical centre where Nurse Peppa and Dr. Brown Bear can treat patients and make them better. The Nurse Peppa plush comes with an otoscope and interactive stethoscope that makes heartbeat sounds, as well as medical phrases so young Peppa Pig fans can act out their own medical adventures. Finally, Follow Me Peppa is a novelty item that snorts, giggles and plays music when its touchpoints are activated. There’s a ‘Follow Me’ mode, where kids follow a sequence of fun sounds. October 2018 | toy news | 51
TOYS WITH FLAIR Renowned for its master toy partnerships across some of the industry’s most exciting boys’ franchises, GP Flair is taking its Turtle power to the max this year with a new line up of Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Ben 10 on offer
0208 643 0320 Flair is renowned for its master toy partnerships across some of the industry’s leading boys’ market franchises, and this year is no different, having secured licensing deals with both Turner’s Cartoon Network and its Ben 10 franchise and Nickelodeon for its new-look Turtles property, Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Kicking off the action and Cartoon Network’s Ben 10 and his multiple alter-egos is a favourite with boys aged four to nine and has plenty of newness to discover for autumn 2018. The introduction of Ben-to-Alien Transforming Figures has added to the line-up along with the launch of the foil bagged mini figures, providing even more reason to collect. Also, newly launched this year is the awesome Alien Creation Chamber. With the Alien Creation Chamber, kids can create their very own aliens by simply loading the body parts into the chamber and using the Omni Creation Dial to assemble them together. These new figures and play-sets will all add to the thrilling new TV advertised line-up, including the likes of the exciting new Omni Launch Battle figures line-up and the Impressive Ben 10 Rust Bucket Play-set. 52 | toy news | October 2018
Next up, it’s Turtle time. Launching on October 5th is the eagerly awaited Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles collection. This has been marked as one of the major launches of the season for GP Flair and will have a heavily weighted marketing campaign behind it. All-important action figures of the four brothers, new look allies and new villains they face will all be key for collectors, while the major play-set of the season is the Turtle Tank. This six-wheeled truck is always ready to roll, can fit all four brothers inside and expands to reveal a 32cm tall secret hideaway. A fun addition to the collection is the assortment of Shell Hog Motorcycles, which provide the perfect way to navigate the city of New York; both above and below the ground. Each comes with its own figure and is ready for any villain they encounter, they with missiles that really fire. When things get hot, the Shell Hogs can combine to take two Turtles into the affray or can even link with the awesome Turtle Tank.
Chicco 01623 750 870 Chicco has taken inspiration from the world of sports cars for this year’s licensed toy offering, with new Ferrari and Fiat 500 RC items just waiting to speed into retail. The Ferrari RC takes us into fifth gear this season as it arrives ready to delight any budding car enthusiast. Priced at £29.99, there’s a lot to love with the new Ferrari Formula One RC, inspired by the Vettel F1 2017 vehicle. In an industry first, this new addition is the first remote-controlled car with pre-determined racing paths and additional ‘try-me’ features. Begin the race at the start line and follow one of the three paths using the fourdirectional remote control. With exciting and realistic Formula One sound effects, kids will be transported to race day every time they play, says Chicco. To add to the realistic nature, the remote control wheel is inspired by the Vettel F1 2017 steering wheel. It is suitable for kids aged one to four years old. It will be joined by the Fiat 500 RC, a radio-controlled car that boasts the grit and energy of a real Fiat 500 sport, and at only a fraction of the cost - ringing in at £24.99. The iconic car features a horn and engine rumble noises and is suitable for toddlers aged two and upwards. Its friendly face will win over both little ones and parents says the firm. The Fiat 500 changes direction by turning the steering wheel-shaped remote, just like a real car. But unlike a real Fiat, it won't tear up your living room or landing.
Alpha Animation and Toys UK email@example.com
Alpha Animation and Toys UK will exhibit at this year’s Brand Licensing Europe for the first time in its history, bringing with it core brands from its extensive portfolio as it looks to speak to potential licensors, partners and retailers throughout the show. Alpha continues to build on its popular animation Super Wings, with long-term plans in place for the top pre-school brand. With series three due to launch in key European markets this autumn, and plans to expand into other territories throughout 2019, fans of the show will enjoy a new twist on the plot, featuring Mission Teams for each core character. Season One and Season Two of the property are currently broadcast in over 100 territories with key broadcasters, while Season Four is also under development. The Super WIngs licensing programme hosts a number of international licensees, with further announcements imminent. Key focuses include Zara, Pez who will launch a full line of its candy dispensers, Revell and Cobi with model kits and bricks which will complement the extensive toy line and support the properties throughout 2019 and beyond. Additionally, Alpha Group is currently working on the development of a number of new projects including a co-production of a new pre-school TV series in partnership with DHX. So keep watching this space for more Alpha updates as the company prepares for what looks to be a busy year ahead.
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SEASONAL FLAIR As the clocks prepare to hand us an extra hour in bed and the constant threat of cancelled trains hang over our daily commute it can mean only one thing.. Winter is on its way. But with it, Christmas. So let’s find out what the toy firms have lined up for us in the Christmas marketing stakes this year…
Interplay 01628 488 944 Interplay will be promoting the best-selling My Fairy Garden range with an enhanced marketing programme designed to build awareness, loyalty and depth of purchase in the run-up to Christmas. High level TV advertising, PR and social media activity as well as strong retail presence will continue to promote the popular brand to consumers, A My Fairy Garden sponsorship of Disney Fairy Tale Time will also run across Disney Junior from September to December. Interplay is also introducing some exciting new launches and brand refreshments into the range. The new hero item, Fairy Light Garden is the ultimate fairy home offering great play value with magical light and enchanting sound features as well as wonderful secret spaces and cute animal play pieces. Fairy Light Garden is on TV now until December. Finally, the best-selling Fairy Garden play-set will also be refreshed with a new look and accessories and a new range of collectable fairies, Garden Fairies, will be available to complement the sets. The new Fairy Garden, Unicorn Garden and Garden Fairies TV campaign will launch in August with heavyweight TVRs.
WowWee In the run up to Christmas, Jazwares will promote What’s That Smell with a raft of creative online campaigns reaching large audiences across social media and influencer channels, marketing activity and PR campaigns from launch through to Christmas. What’s That Smell is a unique new game from WowWee where taking a sniff makes you a winner. Eagerly anticipated and already gaining fans, it is the new scratch and sniff party game that stinks. What’s That Smell is the first ever hilarious fragrant-guessing party game that opens up to a world of interesting whiffs. Guess the scents correctly to win or suffer the stinky consequences. Download the companion app to capture it all on your phone. The game includes over 50 smells and four stank cards, tokens, cardholders and score pad. WowWee toys are distributed by Jazwares in the UK. October 2018 | toy news |55
Trends UK Indies: Wind Designs 01353 724140 Nationals: Trends UK 01295 768078 Trends UK is supporting its portfolio of Peppa Pig ELA’s with TV, marketing and PR campaigns in the Christmas build-up. Aimed at mums with pre-schoolers, ELA TV campaigns are focused on August and September, boosting early awareness and sales. The Peppa Pig and Thomas & Friends ELAs will be supported by a major campaign with UK Mums TV featuring ELA reviews, competitions, Twitter frenzy and more as mums talk to mums about the learning benefits. Trends UK is refreshing its popular Science Mad brand with unisex packaging and kits, making it more appealing to today’s kids. The Science Mad range offers real experiments based on proper chemistry. Promoted with PR and social media campaigns leading up to Christmas, the range includes single experiment sets for pocket money purchases to big gifts. Megableu’s Guinness World Records Challenges Game will be TV promoted in key buying periods and boosted with social media campaigns, activity will drive awareness and purchase among older kids and parents’ audiences. Media spots aim to get people vying with each other to better their own record-breaking challenges to win the board game. How many spoons can you balance on your face? How many times can you flip and catch a water bottle in 30 seconds? The new Evil Eye from Megableu is a fun children’s action game where you blow the candles out before the Grim Reaper catches you, this will be supported by a TV campaign. Sweet Pups have been a great success since the early summer. With pre-launch PR and social media campaigns promoting the toys and TV advertising from retail introduction, they are now flying off the shelves. Trends will build and promote the brand throughout the rest of the year.
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Vivid With smartphone linked RECOIL battle sets having just launched into the market, Vivid is planning a raft of marketing and PR initiatives to drive consumer awareness pre-Christmas on its Starter Set. With an immersive press event scheduled to tap into the pre-Christmas gift list build up, the mission-based event is designed to showcase the revolutionary gameplay concept and enable journalists to experience 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 most immersive battle royale they have ever experienced. And with the Fortnite phenomenon gripping the UK, PR and marketing for RECOIL pre-Christmas will build on this multiplayer concept and fanbase. Meanwhile, this autumn the Tiana ToysAndMe unboxing themed range will be supported via another Meet and Greet day with Tiana; the 2nd event taking place over October half term. Crayola Color Wonder continues to go from strength to strength with sales growing and momentum building as more parents learn about the mess-free magic of the brand. Color Wonder remains a core focus for 2018, with range support to include TV advertising and digital activation alongside social media initiatives launching across the new Crayola UK Facebook and Instagram pages. Vivid is also planning to harness the power of YouTube pre-Christmas to showcase its key product lines as part of the company’s digital marketing strategy. The company will be running Youtube advertising for the following key brands from now and over the coming months: Shimmeez, Squeezamals, Science 4 You, Sky Viper, RECOIL and Nella.
Flair 0208643 0320 firstname.lastname@example.org Flair is going all out to ensure its girls’ brands are front of mind this Christmas with an abundance of marketing initiatives across the entire 2018 portfolio. A key brand launch for Flair this year is Just Play’s Hairdorables - the hot new surprise dolls that combine fun, fashion, and colourful hair. Lead character Noah, and her 11 BFFs are rooted in the YouTube world, where kids can follow their stories. The Hairdorables upload content regularly that kids can relate to; music videos, vlogs, hair tutorials, you name it, it's been YouTubed. The Hairdorables YouTube channel launched on August 3 in line with the US product launch and the UK’s pre-awareness campaign (check out the PopJam channel). Product launched in the UK on August 17, supported with heavyweight TV, further digital activation, Hairdorables parties, kids press including a Hairdorables Mini Mag, and a full mix of PR activities. Meanwhile, Spirit Riding Free joins the Just Play/Flair portfolio in late September and with it will come a major launch campaign that will continue through to Christmas. The launch will coincide with episodes of the DreamWorks TV series which is proving to be a best in show with young viewers on POP. Every little girl will want to get their hands on the Spirit and Lucky Deluxe Feeding Set which is also the focus of the main TV campaign. It’s a new season and a whole new style for Pikmi Pops. The Pikmi Pops Style Series launches in September and with it will be new bursts of TV every few weeks. The Pushmi Ups collec-
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tion and the brand new Pikmi Pops FlipMi’s will be included in the schedule that will be supported by two bursts of Youtube pre-roll. Added to this will be digital campaigns complete with their own TV drivers, and a substantial amount of kid’s press, not to mention the three weekly posts on Pikmi Pops’ very own Popjam Channel! “Shopkins… Shopkins….” is about to flood the commercial breaks again as Flair launches its autumn campaign. A main focus will be Shopkins Mini Packs which bring an additional way to collect. Added to this will be plenty of coverage for the tiniest Shopkins of all - the Lil’ Secrets collection. These tiny worlds will open up big opportunities as existing fans and new collectors learn all about the Shop ‘n’ Lock assortments and their secret maps. Included within the Shopkins franchise are Cutie Cars and Happy Places, both of which have their own dedicated slots. In the pre-school arena the Just Play/Flair Puppy Dog Pals and Vampirina collections will also benefit from major marketing drives. These Disney Jr brands have plenty to shout about. In addition to mum’s campaigns, digital microsites and kids press; TV advertising is a major part of the strategy. Then of course, there’s PJ Masks. The ever-popular range will be heavily supported on TV and online with campaigns focussing on the new Mission Control HQ Playset, new character additions, the Super Moon Adventure themed segment launch, and the loveable PJ Robot with lights and sounds. Flair and eOne continue to work closely together, coordinating a full marketing and PR calendar around key tentpole activities.
Bandai 0208 324 6160 With high profile brands and strong TV and marketing support, retailers can rely on Bandai to deliver strong sales this Christmas. Pomsies are the collectible Pom-Pom pets with soft fur faces and tails you can wrap around your wrist, hair, backpack, clothing and more. The launch in July has been a global success and Q4 will see the arrival of all-new series two characters. With them will come heightened marketing activity including a heavyweight TV schedule. Smooshy Mushy is a much-loved slow rise collection entering series five by the time the Christmas rush begins. This new collection will introduce a wave of characters called Sugar Fix that come in gumball containers complete with their candy themed Besties. Rescue Runts will be another pre-Christmas launch that will be front of mind with kids. These pets are looking for a home to call their own. They have tears in their eyes, dirty paws and messy fur full of fleas. They need you to clean them up and give them a forever home. TV, kids press and digital activity begin as these scruffy pups hit the shelves ensuring they are the four legged friend of the festive season. Fans of Big Hero 6 will be sure to have the Flying and Flame Baymax on their Christmas lists thanks to a marketing drive that includes TV and unboxing videos.The tech toy is packed with features with its automatic wings, rocket fists, motion sensor sounds and phrases, and awesome flame blasts from its feet. Finally, Bandai’s Power Rangers range will reach new heights as the brand celebrates its 25th anniversary. TVCs for key lines for the Super Ninja Steel collection will include the Lion Fire Morpher and Deluxe Battle Gear.
Character Options 01279 870000 | Schleich@Schleich-s.co.uk Character Options is ramping up its pre-Christmas activity with TV advertising across its entire portfolio, including enhanced support for Pokémon, Really Rad Robots and Teksta 360 – the electronic puppy. The new Pokémon collection joined the line-up in July, and as the range fully rolls out in mid-autumn, retailers can be sure that it’s top of mind with collectors thanks to the heavyweight TV and marketing support that Character will be placing behind it. Action figures, roleplay and plush will all be part of the focus in a series of TVCs, while the key feature plush line, Power Action Pikachu, will have its own dedicated spot from October. Teksta is a regular star of the TV breaks in the run up to Christmas and 2018 will be no exception as the feature laden Teksta 360 flips onto the small screen. An action packed commercial will bring Teksta 360 to life showing his tricks and features including light-up emotive eyes, cute sounds, interaction with other pets and the iconic 360 flip trick. Staying with Tech, the collectable range of Really RAD Robots come with attitude and will be supported with their own TV, digital , pre-roll and print campaigns. First to enter the scene in August was YakBot, a back chattin’ buddy that records your voice and will warp it right back at you. Later in the year MiBro will be added to the line-up and is full of smart talking phrases and over 20 sounds. Remote controlled, he can spy, listen and even talk for you.
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Schleich 01279 870000 | Schleich@Schleich-s.co.uk Whether it’s the new horses and riders from Horse Club, new monsters or creatures from Eldrador Creatures, or the figures and play-sets from the pre-school collections, Schleich will be supporting its retailers with extensive marketing including TV activation this autumn. One of Schleich's most celebrated collector’s themes is Horse Club and both print and digital campaigns will keep it front of mind with the core audience. The collection will star in its own microsite that introduces the main characters of the property; Hannah, Sofia, Lisa and Sarah. Hosted on Pop Fun, the TV promotion will drive kids to the campaign site where they can interact with the brand. Added to this is the launch of its own website www.horseclub.com/ en , a girl’s magazine advertising and competitions schedule that will reach over one million readers in the pre-Christmas period. Individual campaigns are also in place for the launch of the Eldrador Creatures with Print press and digital activity part of the plan. Retailer kits encouraging interaction of the brand have also been created and distributed in late summer. The Wild and Farm Life collections will have similar activation, but this time on Tiny Pop. Children will be able to explore the features of the Large Farm House and animals, whilst at the same time learning all about the impressive Wild Life 4x4 Vehicle with Winch playset. To enhance the campaign, TV drivers will highlight the key lines as well as encourage children to take part in the online fun.
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Zuru Geemac: 01604 401 719 Award-winning toy designer and manufacturer, Zuru has announced its pre-Christmas advertising campaigns for the 2018 Q3/Q4 period. A mix of traditional, digital, and social campaigns will hit from September onwards with additional bursts for hero brands including Rainbocorns, X-Shot, and Smashers following in November and December. “We have four major brand and product launches for the Q4 period and a multi-channel approach is a must to ensure that we are communicating with our customers across all touchpoints available to them”, said Erika Sava, Zuru comms manager. “Our business is growing, with a portfolio of ranges to appeal to all children. Our campaigns allow our target audience to engage with the brands by integrating traditional with emerging channels.” A comprehensive TV advertising plan will be implemented for new brand, Rainbocorns, which will run alongside spots for new product launches within the X-Shot and Smashers ranges. TVCs for Robo Alive, Tangle, and 5 Surprise will also run throughout November and December 2018. Numerous TVCs will be executed on behalf of Zuru’s brands which will see a collection of 10”, 20” and 30” spots aired across terrestrial and satellite channels. The new Rainbocorns sequin surprise plush range tops the majority of the placements, reflecting the company’s commitment to supporting the new brand launch with a 360-degree marketing plan. In addition to the TV advertising, extensive marketing support has been scheduled to include digital targeting, unboxing influencer outreach, events, sampling and social media, plus in-store retail backing. Additional webisodes and content is also in production to support dedicated brand YouTube channels for Smashers, Rainbocorns, and X-Shot.
Ravensburger 01869 363800 | email@example.com As three heavyweight TV campaigns kickedoff in September and six campaigns launch in October, Ravensburger is supporting retailers by TV advertising a large number of products from across the range this season. September campaigns include the new STEM construction range - GraviTrax®, Make ‘n’ Break and the modern classic game Labyrinth. The 20 second GraviTrax® TV ad is aimed at driving demand among a core audience aged seven to 12. Supporting the launch of the new game Make ‘n’ Break, is a ten second ad aimed at four to nines. The ad highlights the addictive game play designed to get the family “making and breaking”. The 20 second Labyrinth ad is aimed at families and will continue to cement its place as a modern family classic. Among the six campaigns kicking-off in October are two separate TV ads for 3D Puzzle®. The first will focus on 3D Puzzle® Buildings and the second TV ad will feature the 3D Puzzle® Shapes including the range of 108-piece Sneakers. Each of the two 20 second 3D Puzzle® ads will showcase the light-up Ravensburger Night Edition 3D Puzzle® range. Two additional 20 second ad campaigns launching in October will feature the new Break Free Game, where players have to race to unpick a lock and uncuff themselves from the group, as well as a combined 20 second ad for Bugs in the Kitchen and Buggaloop games. The ThinkFun® RushHour® 20 second ad will air from October right up to Christmas. The animated humorous ad is aimed at a core audience aged 7-12. The addictive logic-game includes 40 challenges from beginner to expert and continues to be a firm family favourite.
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Spin Master A name now synonymous with cool robotics and must-have toys, Spin Master’s autumn / winter line up doesn’t disappoint. Pet loving children will love Spin Master’s latest Zoomer animal incarnation, Hungry Bunnies. With Zoomer Hungry Bunnies, kids will be amazed by these interactive bunnies that really eat. Hold the paper treat up the Hungry Bunnies’ mouth and they’ll nibble it up. Hungy Bunnies also play games and love to sing and laugh. Plus when the bunny has had a meal – he’ll even ‘poop’ a colourful confetti surprise. After a fantastic launch year for Luvabella in 2017, October sees the introduction of Luvabeau - a new baby boy. Like Luvabella, this interactive baby doll has realistic facial expressions and personality. Luvabeau has had enormous awareness through regular inclusion on Top YouTube Channels; Emily Tube and Ruby and Bonnie, where videos have gained many tens of millions of views. Luvabeau will also be supported with a new TV advertising campaign and PR activities – plus Spin Master has confirmed a second year’s Sponsorship of The Luvabella Nursery at kid’s entertainment venue KidZania where it remains a hugely popular activity with vistors. Boxer comes to life right out of the box, no assembly required. Place one of the 10 activity cards (included) in front of Boxer. Once he rolls over the card and scans it, the fun begins. Play games like Bot Bowling, Paddle Bot and Go Kart, or use the interactive ball accessory (included) to play a fast-paced game of football. As you play you’ll get to know his quirky personality. Sometimes happy, sad, grumpy, or even sleepy, Boxer displays a full range of emotion. Boxer is equipped with multiple IR sensors, an internal rechargeable battery and more tech features.
Industry moves This month, Mattel has continued to beef up its board of directors as well as tap up a Saban executive, Hasbro is building its Brands division, Rubie’s has welcomed back a familiar face and Fundamentally Children is eyeing global expansion MATTEL
HASBRO The global toymaker has strengthened its brand leadership team with the promotion of SAMANTHA LOMOW to president of Hasbro Entertainment Brands and JONATHAN BERKOWITZ to president of Hasbro Brands. The move comes as the firm beefs up activity across leading brands like My Little Pony, Transformers and Power Rangers. Both Lomow and Berkowitz will continue to report to John Frascotti, Hasbro president and chief operating officer, in their new roles. Lomow has already played a crucial role in expanding Hasbro beyond toys having been instrumental in the Transformers franchise since the first film in 2007. Meanwhile, Berkowitz has - over his 15 years with Hasbro led brands such as Nerf and grown the Hasbro Gaming portfolio to where it is today.
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The California-headquartered firm is bulking up its executive line up, welcoming its fifth new director to the board since March this year. DR JUDY OLIAN, president of Quinnipac University now makes tenth member of the team. Meanwhile, the firm has hired the former executive of Power Rangers owner Saban Brands, JANET HSU (pictured) to head up its newly created franchise division. In her new role, Hsu will report to Richard Dickson, Mattel’s president and chief operating officer as she oversees the new Global Franchise management Organisation at the firm. RUBIE’S Former Hasbro exec HOLLY OLDHAM is rejoining the outfit, in the role of UK managing director. Oldham began her position with the firm on September 24th following a three year stint at Hasbro where she held the position of UK and regional toy and game director. Prior to the Hasbro move, she spent nine years with Rubie’s. Her new title at the company will see Oldham report to Chris Isitt, VP for EMEA and Australia.
FUNDAMENTALLY CHILDREN Former Schleich and TOMY man, JEREMY ROBINSON has joined the Fundamentally Children team as its new head of business development. With a wealth of experience from across the toy industry, Robinson will work with the company’s new and existing clients to help them gain maximum benefits from the Good Toy Guide and App Guide endorsements. He will be focusing on the company’s regular marketing campaigns, the roll-out of more Good Toy Zones and increasing the programme of experiential marketing events. He will also manage the firm’s global presence with its launch across the US. MOOSE TOYS The Australian toy firm has named the accomplished designer, GARRETT SANDER its principal designer for its girls’ division. Previously, Garrett held senior positions at Mattel, where he was one of the prominent creators of the Monster High franchise, and instrumental in the creation of the Ever After High franchise, as well as Polly Pocket Barbie content.
Team of the month
FIESTA CRAFTS Fiesta Crafts has seen some fantastic success with its Roald Dahl puppet range in 2018 and is looking forward to bringing even more stories to life before the year’s out. We get to know the team (and a couple of pirate hand puppets) a little better… if only to find out where all of the rum’s been buried… Hi Fiesta Crafts. Can you tell us, who is in the team? The Fiesta Crafts team consists of our two directors: Andre and Richard, then there’s John in finance, Viv in accounts, Denise in customer services, Valeria in design, Andray in sales and Rob and Laura in the marketing team. Looking at the photo we are from left to right back row: Richard, Andrew, Andray, Laura and Rob. From left to right front row: John, Viv and Valeria and unfortunately Denise is not pictured, but she is real… we promise… What have been the biggest successes of the year so far? Our Roald Dahl puppet range has been very popular, both with customers and consumers. He really was a fantastic storyteller, so too, our puppets are the perfect addition to enhance the stories, and has been received fantastically. What is the team most looking forward to for the rest of the year? Getting everything set up for the new products we’re going to launch in January. We are very excited about them and can’t wait to show them to the world. What’s the best part of working in the toy industry? Well, out marketing assistant, Laura, is obsessed with penguins; so she’d say it’s getting to see all of the penguins at the trade fairs. It’s a great industry to be a part of as there’s always something new and colourful on the scene. Plus, who doesn’t love playing with toys?
"There's probably just enough different skills between all of us for us all to survive being stranded on a desert island... we certainly hope so anyway."
Laura Barr, Fiesta Crafts
What are the biggest challenges? The biggest challenges would probably be trying to keep current but stay true to the brand. It’s important that Fiesta Crafts stays Fiesta Crafts and so adapting new trends to our brand can be challenging. Who would survive if you were stuck on a desert island? Hopefully all of us! There’s probably enough different skills between all of us to stay alive… we hope… Who would be the first to couple off? The Pirate Hand Puppets. No doubt they have been stuck on this island before and know exactly where the rum is buried.
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FROM DUSK ‘TIL DAWN T
hree quarters of the way into a 12 hour shift celebrating this year’s leading licenses at the Licensing Awards 2018, and as many bottles of red into the proceedings, the toy industry once again managed to stamp its authority on the world of merchandising. I’m told it was a cracking night. I’m told it was a night of partying that stormed its way into the wee hours of Wednesday morning, just in time to catch the first train from London to as far away from that bar bill as possible. I’m also told that I was there. Whatever your thoughts might be on the lengthy process of bringing each winner from the long list of award categories onto the stage - we could have crammed a Harry Potter double-bill screening in to the time frame - a hat has to be tipped to the awards’ organisers. The show successfully packed over 1,700 licensing professionals into London’s Grosvenor Hotel and host Rory Bremner did a sterling job of keeping them all in check, as almost all of them at one point or another, were brought up on stage to collect their applause. But it really was the children’s entertainment sphere that collaboratively won the evening, with toy companies and properties scooping titles from all sides of the dining hall. Mattel took home a big win in the Best Licensed Toys or Games Range for its Jurassic World toy line, a range that, as we have already seen, helped propel toy sales on both sides of the Atlantic, being named a top performing license in 66 | toy news | October 2018
the action figure category Stateside, too. Meanwhile, Thomas and Friends fuelled Kinnerton to success in the best Licensed Food or Drink category, PAW Patrol took Best Pre-school Licensed Property and Best Licensed Written, Listening or Learning range, while LOL Surprise come out the champion in the Best Children’s or Tween Licensed Property. Special mention has to go to one the world’s most revered children’s authors and best-loved storyteller Roald Dahl as the Roald Dahl Storytelling Company took home prizes across three categories, including Best Licensed Dress-Up or Partyware (Smiffys), Best Literary or Design/Illustration Licensed Property and Best Licensing Marketing Communications Award 2018 for its Halloween collaboration with The Eden Project. Harry Potter scooped Best Teen or Adult Licensed Property and a personal favourite Rick and Morty won the Best Licensed Adult Apparel range, proving that when it comes to targeting the older audience, you can’t go too far wrong than with an alcoholic grandfather and a wand brandishing overachiever. Contrary to what seems to have become trade publishing tradition, ToyNews would like to extend a firm congratulations to the competition for pulling off another high calibre event, and successfully bringing the industry together for another right Royal "pish-up". Oh, and if anyone amongst them finds my house keys, I’d be all the more appreciative for their safe return… ahem, Bing… ahem...
Photo by Kelsey Chance on Unsplash
One month later, the ToyNews and Licensing.biz team has just about recovered from the annual Licensing Awards. Thank you for the… err… does anyone else remember much from the night?