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No. 184

Retail 06 Top of the class We take a look at the latest evolution of the educational toy space, bringing in VR and tech

14 Bundles of fun Cartamundi’s leaps in to the educational toy space with its own launch, Fundels.



25 Cards on the table With tabletop gaming reaching new heights, we explore the newest titles to tantalise fans.

June 2017

Marketing 32 Back of the net! We take a look at the history of Subutteo in this month’s Anatomy of a Blockbuster Toy.


Women 100 ToyNews celebrates gender equality in the industry with the unveiling of this year’s 100 Women of the Year - All kicking off on page 17

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5/19/17 17:43

21st June 2017, Forge, London


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MEET THE TEAM Robert Hutchins Editor Jade Burke Deputy Editor Jack Ridsdale Staff Writer Jodie Holdway Sales Manager James Marinos Production Executive Nikki Hargreaves Designer Mark Burton Managing Director Editorial: 0207 354 6017 Advertising: 0207 354 6000 Web: PRINT SUBSCRIPTIONS To subscribe to ToyNews please go to Should you have any questions please email UK: £50 Europe: £60 Rest of World: £90 FAQ’s can be found develop/FAQ’s. Please note that this is a controlled circulation title and subscription criteria will be strictly adhered to. NewBay Subscriptions: The Emerson Building, 4-8 Emerson Street, London SE1 9DU Email ToyNews is published 11 times a year by NewBay Media Europe Ltd, The Emerson Building, 4th Floor, 4-8 Emerson Street, London SE1 9DU NewBay Media Europe Ltd is a member of the Periodical Publishers Association AUDITED CIRCULATION: Average Net Circulation: 5,419 July 2015- June 2016

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Regulars 08 08 09 10 12 58

Campaign of the Month Playtime Euromonitor Industry Moves Industry Opinion ToyTalk

Features 06 Toys & education 17 Women of the Year 25 The rise of tabletop gaming 30 News 32 Anatomy of a Blockbuster: Subutteo Pre-school 35 News Retail 39 News 40 ToyShop UK 43 Sector Guide : Children’s books 47 Sector Guide: STEAM toys 55 Sector Guide: Arts & crafts

Mind the gap


wo years ago, figures from the ONS revealed that the UK’s female workforce earned 19.1 per cent less than men. Using that information, the Trade Unions Congress calculated that at the current rate of progress, it would take nearly 50 years to close the UK’s gender pay gap. For a progressive and forwardthinking society, that’s diabolical. According to the same report, it appears that the gender pay gap is rooted as early on as the beginning of a woman’s career, while data from the Living Wage Commission identified that 60 per cent of workers in the UK earning less than the Living Wage were women. Thankfully, steps are being taken to close that gap, with new legislation forcing employers in both the private and voluntary sectors with 250 employees or more to publish information about the differences in pay. At least we work within a market that champions equality, and, thanks to the sterling work of organisation’s such as Women in Toys, it’s a flag proudly flown. Here at ToyNews, we get behind such causes, highlight these efforts and celebrate the women working within our own industry with the Women of the Year 2017 listing. And what a formidable line-up it is. And fellas, if you feel aggrieved enough at not having your own listing to drop us a line, we’d love to run an industry salary survey and prove the toy sector to be the forward-thinking market we know it is.

While the ONS reports that women earn on average 19.1 per cent less than men in the UK, it’s heartening that the toy industry is a progressive and forward-thinking market, championing equality with help from the likes of the Women in Toys organisation and the ToyNews Women of the Year 2017 listing.


June 05

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STEAM powered

Undefined, barely scratching the surface of its potential, and yet with a projected value of $30bn by 2019, demand for STEAM and STEAM-inspired toys has never been greater. Robert Hutchins explores the evolution of the educational toys category and looks at what its future may hold


t would seem that, once again, the toy industry has got its claws into another playground craze, this time in the form of a small, yet highly engaging cube. Fidget toys are the latest buzzwords on the lips of media outlets, retailers and, of course, children, not only up and down the country, but across the globe. The ‘Fidget toy movement’ soared to popularity when a crowdfunding campaign launched by Antsy Labs went viral earlier this year, smashing its Kickstarter goal of $15,000 to total $6.4m. Simple in its concept, the product – a six-sided desk toy – is designed for restless hands and

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We are bullish on AR being the next big medium in educational information consumption, bringing new tech to the classroom. Vivek Goyal, Orboot includes clicker buttons, switches and a joystick, encouraging focus among kids and benefitting those with autism and ADHD. Such is the popularity of the cube that a number of copycat

designs have since found their way into the marketplace. While global distributor, Zuru plans to flush these out of the market, debate continues among educational and industry experts over the actual benefits of the cube to children with autism and ADHD. Despite this, the movement does hint at a key signifier in the continuing evolution of the educational toy space. Nowhere is this more evident than in the continued surge of STEAM toys, and while The NPD Group is still working on an official definition for STEAM and STEAMinspired toys, the sector has been valued at 2.4 per cent of total UK

sales, growing at three times the speed of the overall toy market. On a global scale, sources suggest that the sector reached a total of $28.6 billion in 2015, and, with the evolution of technology such as VR and a growing emphasis on the importance of teaching coding to children, it is only expected to increase. It’s little wonder, considering the shifting tides of curriculums and the changing face of education. “For too long our education system has been based on specific ‘skills’ acquired through memorisation, taking the lowest common denominator as a benchmark for grading,” Filippo

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thinking does just that. It’s actually an endlessly creative endeavour once you take a second to understand its core principles.” It’s Yacob’s reason d’etre to promote this shift in thinking about educational toys in a move to ‘challenge the status quo.’ “By stripping back learning to a tool without screens, our aim is

that through this work, with STEAM toy campaigns launching across Kickstarter and Indiegogo almost daily, the STEAM toy sector will be worth over $30bn by 2019. On top of this, the grass roots level also provides new testing ground for bringing tech into the educational toy sector before hitting the mainstream.

Edtech toys is growing fast as a new subsection of the industry to sit alongside education and toys, and the demand is there. Fillipo Yacob, Primo Toys

Yacob, founder of Primo Toys and creator of the coding toy, Cubetto, tells ToyNews. “We should instead try and provide experiences that challenge children’s thinking. Computational

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to help children understand that technology is something they can use to create and manipulate the world around them, and not simply for entertainment.” Cubetto has already been met with positive reception across the globe and is now used in more than 20,000 homes and schools across 96 countries around the world. Playing with Cubetto aims to teach youngsters collaboration skills as they help the wooden robot complete challenges. The success of the toy offers a secondary insight into the conviction in STEAM learning, with the majority of the work occurring at grass roots level. Maker spaces, code clubs and home schooling are each on the rise, and it is projected

Vivek Goyal is the creator of Orboot, a modern twist on the traditional globe that utilises Augmented Reality to allow children to engage not only with new technology but learning about the world around them in a new, impactful way. It is just one example of the numerous advances being made in the incorporation of AR and VR technology into STEAM toys and learning, and while Mattel’s partnership with Google on the rebooted ViewFinder marks its most mainstream use, Goyal believes current products are only scratching the surface. “We are bullish on AR being the next big medium of educational information consumption. Starting

with mobile and later evolving to head mounted displays as hardware matures, AR will become a must in any classroom, learning centre or play room,” he explains. “The medium of information dissipation has evolved from text to images and videos over the years. Now is the time for 3D content to take over and let kids explore from all angles in a way that does not obstruct their real world view.” While STEAM inspired toys continue to roll out at a significant rate – some such as GoldieBlox have even taken steps to progress beyond toys to become a STEAMlearning multi-media brand through printed titles and more – the STEAM-scape is still very much unchartered territory. “Toymakers don’t need to tick all of the boxes of STREAM to make a difference in schools,” Damien Murtagh, founder of Arckit, tells ToyNews. “It’s about designing an experience that encourages hands-on and imaginative play.” NPD may be working on a definition, but it’s certain that demand has never been greater. “The edtech toy space is growing fast as a new subsection of the industry to sit alongside the education and toy industry, “Its channels are yet to be defined, but the customer is there, and the timing has never been better,” Yacob concludes.

June 07

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Fireman Sam embarks on alien adventures Mattel will be supporting the release of the iconic firefighter’s new film with a host of marketing and PR activity CONTACT: MATTEL 01628 500 000


017 marks 30 years of the ultimate hero next door, Fireman Sam, and this leading pre-school property will be celebrating with an action packed year of exciting marketing and PR activity. On June 17th, Fireman Sam will celebrate his first ever theatrical release with the exciting new movie Fireman Sam Alien Alert coming to cinemas nationwide, starring Dr Who star David Tennant. The 60-minute special introduces exciting new locations and vehicles in a storyline full of twists and turns, full of action and adventure that children know and love from Fireman Sam. “Fireman Sam is a true institution of children’s television and a series that’s much-loved by

all in our household,” said Tennant. “The 60-minute special introduces exciting new locations and vehicles in a storyline full of twists and

turns, full of action and adventure that children know and love.” Fireman Sam has also been on the hunt for real life heroes

with the Golden Helmet Awards celebrating real heroes in their local community, working in partnership with leading parenting website Netmums, the winners of the awards will be announced to the public in June. Ahead of Halloween and Bonfire Night, Fireman Sam will also be launching the annual Sam’s Safety Campaign to drive national awareness of the importance of fire safety for children. Finally, the brand will be celebrated with a range of exciting press activations and heritage partnerships on November 17th 2017, 30 years since the first ever episode of Fireman Sam, The Kite, was broadcast on the BBC in the UK. Contact Mattel for more information on Fireman Sam.

Generation Media’s Lauren Coombs examines how much the youngest audiences are engaging with saturday night TV programming Source: BARB 2017


t has been widely discussed over the past couple of years - whether there is still the same hunger from viewers for Saturday night primetime TV shows such as The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent. With two weeks of viewing data under our belt for the latest relaunch of Britain’s Got Talent we thought it would be interesting to dig deeper and see if the fall in viewing is still the case for the most recent Saturday night TV show focussing our analysis on mutual viewing to under-

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stand how these shows perform against kids seven to 12 years old. So, if we cast our mind back only a couple of weeks to April 15th when Britain’s Got Talent Series 11 launched at 8pm on ITV1, the episode delivered 692,000 kids seven to 12 impacts. To put this into context, albeit not free to air, at the same time on Nickelodeon, Instant Mom delivered 2,000 kids seven to 12. However if we fast forward one week to the second episode of Series 11, viewing had actually increased to

801,000 kids seven to 12 for this episode of the ITV1 show. In comparison to the previous year, the launch of Series 10 pulled in 885,000, 21 per cent higher than this year. Similarly the second episode increased even further to 905,000, 11 per cent higher. So whilst there is still clearly a demand for this content it is evidently falling away year on year. This isn’t to say that all kids viewing to TV is following the same trend it may just be this type of programming content. For example programmes like Line of Duty have grown in popularity with the first episode of Series Three

last year delivering 7,000 kids seven to 12 impacts when airing on BBC Two. Switching to BBC One for Series Four, it brought in 35,000 for the first show of the new series, culminating in over double this at 72,000 for the penultimate episode. If we compare this to the average impacts across Pop; the largest kids commercial channel for April it delivers 8,000 average kids seven to 12. We can therefore see that these prime time shows deliver higher viewing figures but also come at a premium cost meaning it is not as accessible for toys and games advertisers.

ToyNews PlayTime is provided by Generation Media

0207 307 7900 |

5/18/17 15:23


Full STEAM ahead

Across the globe, science, technology, engineering and mathematics toys are witnessing a strong growth, with sales reaching $28.6 billion in 2015. Euromonitor’s Matthew Hudack explores the world’s markets’ approach to STEM


cience, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) toys have become a major focus of toys and games of late. More recently, there has been a push to add arts to the educational movement, resulting in a new acronym, STEAM. This is because studies indicate that arts may help spatial processing and other cognitive abilities that can positively impact the rest of STEM. STEAM toy sales saw strong sales growth in 2015, growing by seven per cent to reach $28.6 billion. While developed markets have started to wholeheartedly embrace the broader STEAM movement, many emerging markets continue to focus largely on STEM, as the educational goals of parents in these two markets have fundamental differences, which impact their buying habits.

COLLEGE-MINDED DEVELOPED MARKETS Developed markets are embracing every part of the STEAM movement as parents hope that it will help their children go to college. Within developed markets, there has been a swift rise in the size of the population with a higher education degree, as 29 per cent of the over 15-year-old population had a degree in 2015 compared to 27 per cent in 2010. The growth of adults with higher education degrees has led many parents to consider getting into college to be paramount to their children’s career success, and has led many to embrace STEAM.


MATTHEW HUDAK Project Manager, Euromonitor International

With developed markets focused on college entry and emerging markets on core STEM skills, global STEAM sales are expected to grow by 19 per cent in retail value between 2015 and 2020.

While parents in developed markets look to prepare their children for college, those in emerging markets have become more focused on core fundamentals and tend to eschew the arts aspect of STEAM, leaving them largely focused on STEM. With the exception of China, the majority of emerging markets underperform developed markets in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development international standardised tests for 15-year-old children. In addition, many emerging markets are shifting from manufacturing to service-based economies, which is increasing the desire among parents to make sure their children have a better handle of core science and mathematics topics. Finally, many emerging market families will only be able to afford a few toy purchases per year; therefore, the educational

products also need to afford a few toy purchases per year; therefore, educational products also need to double as a primary source of entertainment for most emerging market households unlike in developed markets.

STEAM’S FUTURE With developed markets focused on college entry and emerging

markets on core STEM skills, global STEAM sales are expected to grow by 19 per cent in retail value between 2015 and 2020. While many emerging markets will likely continue to focus on core skills, it is possible that some of the more advanced emerging markets, such as China and India, may begin to embrace more areas of STEAM.

Global STEAM  Retail  Value  Sales   USD  million  

40,000.0 35,000.0   30,000.0   25,000.0   20,000.0   15,000.0   10,000.0   5,000.0   0.0  




Euromonitor International is the world’s leading independent provider of strategic market research. The firm creates data and analysis on thousands of products and services around the world. Euromonitor’s Passport database provides insight on industries, economies and consumers worldwide, helping clients analyse market context and identify future trends impacting businesses globally. For more on Euromonitor and Passport, head to

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June 09

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Industry moves There’s never a dull moment in the toy industry and this month has seen a few high profile moves including the naming of a new VP at Spin Master. Elsewhere, IMC gains a new marketing manager and Golden Bear undergoes a reshuffle. This month also sees appointments at marketing agency Brand & Deliver and Boomerang.

GOLDEN BEAR n Senior licensing and marketing director KATHERINE PIERCE has left the firm in pursuit of a new venture as RACHEL FIELD, consumer marketing manager returns from maternity leave. “Katherine has been a great asset to the Golden Bear team,” commented MD BARRY HUGHES. “She has been instrumental in driving our licensing strategy and acquisitions as well as developing our marketing team and we wish her all the best.” KATHY LESSER, who has been covering Rachel’s position, will step into her new role as trade marketing manager. Licensing will be managed by Barry Hughes, MD and CHRISTINE NICHOLLS, vice chairman and director of product development.

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Spin Master n JENNIFER DODGE has returned to top toy firm Spin Master as the company’s new executive VP. Dodge left the company in 2015 where she collaboratively led Spin Master’s Entertainment group for six years alongside RONNEN HARARY, co-chief executive officer and co-founder. Since her departure at Spin Master, Dodge held the position as SVP of pre-school at Nickelodeon, where she led the development of original content for Nickelodeon’s pre-school programming block and the Nick Jr. channel. IMC n CATHY PROWDE has joined IMC Toys as the firm’s new marketing manager, as KIRSTEN CHAMBERS goes on maternity. In her role, Prowde will help the business implement its marketing plans while also working alongside the MD, TERRY CREW, to help maintain the firm’s relationships and support the sales team. “IMC welcomes Cathy to the marketing team while Kirsten is on leave, she will continue the great work Kirsten has done over the last few years to drive IMC’s growth

plans and look after relationships with our licensing and trade partners,” said Crew. Prior to joining IMC, Prowde gained experience in the marketing team for a STEM careers site. Roblox n Roblox has bolstered its team with the appointment of GRACE FRANCISCO as vice president of developer relations. Her new role will oversee the development of young talent, leading developer and educational programs across multiple platforms to help elevate young developers through the process. This new hire follows Roblox’s $92 million fundraising round, and the appointment of REMY MALAN as vice president of customers, managing customer service and content moderation. Brand & Deliver n The marketing agency has named a new MD in the form of HAYLEY LAWRENCE who has been promoted after serving seven years at the company. Lawrence has played a key role in the growth of company, since joining in 2010, having worked

as account director and later, director of events. Lawrence will now be responsible for the dayto-day running of the company, overseeing all project delivery, client relationships and additional operational aspects. “Hayley is one in a million,” commented CEO BEN GALLOP, “I can’t put a figure on the value she has brought to the agency through her incredible work ethic, her creative spark and her straighttalking approach.” Boomerang n Former Nickelodeon product strategy director SUNDANCE FENIGER is to helm a new cartoon subscription service for the Boomerang network as vice president and general manager. At Boomerang, Feniger will oversee all business functions, while also working with Warner Bros. Digital Networks Group’s DramaFever, which handles the technology and platform for the new SVOD service. Prior to joining Boomerang, Feniger was senior director of product strategy and development at Nickelodeon, where he helped to develop the strategy for and managed Viacom’s mobile subscription service, Noggin.

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5/18/17 14:47


Power of equality With the ToyNews Women of the Year listing taking centre stage in this month’s issue, Frances Cain, UK chair for the Women in Toys organisation explains why celebrating gender equality remains necessary in shaping the future of the industry

With the Women of the Year listing, it is encouraging to know we are part of something that is inspiring real and tangible change in the toy industry. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Frances Cain is the founder of A Girl for All Time and the Chair of the Women in Toys’ UK chapter. She can be contacted on


here is a wonderful assumption among my daughter and her friends (male and female) that career choices and jobs are not defined by gender, which is a huge step forward from our (and our parent’s) generation. However, there is still a huge gap between having the ability to do the same job, and having the opportunity to do the same job. Recent legislation in April has introduced new rules about transparency around pay and progression in the work place. Employers are now obliged to measure and publicly report on their own gender pay gaps. There is much more awareness today about the benefits of

creating a gender balanced work environment and studies have found that it is a key component to the success of companies across all sectors. Realising women’s potential in the workplace enhances employee engagement, boosts productivity and vastly improves brand reputation. Clearly we still have some way to go before we can truly say we have a gender-balanced workforce. Which is why something like Women of the Year is so important for the industry: it is vital that we celebrate the confident, talented women that are making a real difference in our forward-thinking sector. By highlighting their accomplishments and achievements of the past year - and

the role of women in general in the toy industry - we are helping to create an inclusive and fair work environment for everyone. Something that benefits us all. This year’s Women of the Year listing will be a celebration of the brightest and best in the industry and is a great way of acknowledging the accomplishments of these stellar women. But it’s more than that: it’s about the industry’s continued commitment to creating a dynamic and gender-balanced workforce, in which all talents can thrive and succeed. The WOTY listing is an important moment in our busy year, and it’s inspiring to know that we are part of something that is inspiring real and tangible change in the industry.

Chairing the board The unstoppable rise of table top gaming is well underway. Board Game Club’s Lesley Singleton talks about the evolving space and how brands can join in

There’s a whole world of board game culture out there to celebrate, and we’re putting Board Game Club at the forefront of that with a host of new features. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Lesley Singletin is both the founder of Playtime PR and the monthly adult gaming get together, Board Game Club. Singleton can be contacted on

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hen we launched Board Game Club three years ago, we couldn’t have predicted just how popular it would become with brands as well as press, influencers and members of the wider public. Would our personal love for sociable gaming translate well to a regular event for grown-ups? Well, it’s plain to see that it has, fuelled in no small part by the sector’s incredible, speedy growth in recent years. Brands have fully embraced our offering, with Hasbro and John Adams using Board Game Club as a new product launch platform, and the likes of Cartamundi, Esdevium and others staging complete takeovers to showcase their wealth of fun and silly games.

We decided that 2017 would be the year for some serious evolution of the Board Game Club brand – with more opportunity for marketing teams to tap into our audiences and add another layer of activity to their comms programmes. There’s a whole world of board game culture out there to celebrate, and we’re putting Board Game Club at the forefront of that. In May, we commenced a revamp of the website, adding a news section to tell all the fascinating stories stemming from the world of sociable board gaming. There are plenty of opportunities for brands to use the site as a showcase for their games and news and our ambition is to become a really authentic hub for all things related to board game lifestyle and its culture.

This month also sees the launch of our first major brand partnership when we launch the brand new Blogger Board Game Club. This subscription-box-style engagement programme sees us partner with Esdevium Games, to take 50 influential families across the UK on a board game journey every month for a year. We’re exploring further adaptations and incarnations of the Board Game Club brand with other games companies in the UK too, and we’re also happy to help brands and their marketing/PR agencies think creatively about how they might be able to use Board Game Club to add even more depth to their plans. It’s not just a platform for our clients, as you can see if you read the testimonials from non-clients who’ve joined us in the past.

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The crackdown Whether you braved one of the challenges or supported the industry, a huge thank you to everyone that helped raise £170k for the toy trust. ABOUT THE AUTHOR To be kept in the loop about future training or for general enquiries about the BTHA, feel free to email me on

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In the first in a new regular column from the BTHA, Rebecca Deeming talks us through the organisation’s latest initiatives, including the launch of a new series of training sessions, tackling counterfeiters and all the info that members need to know on the new CAP guidance on marketing to children


t’s been another busy month for the BTHA and the toy industry in general and I must start by congratulating all who participated in the Toy Trust’s Big Cotswold Challenge. Whether you braved one of the challenges yourself or supported a colleague in the industry, a huge thank you to everyone that helped to raise £170,000 for the Toy Trust. My colleague Kerri and I entered the Tough Mudder challenge at the last minute with no time for preparation; the mass of bruises was certainly worth it when you see the money raised go towards giving the gift of play to children while they are in hospital. We have also had a couple of other exciting events in the past month as we hosted our first training seminar for members on ‘combating counterfeit toys.’ It was a great session with presentations from the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit, Trading Standards, the Alliance for Intellectual Property and the British Brands Group, all offering members advice on the different steps they can take to help them crack down on catching counterfeit toys. This was also the perfect opportunity for members to share their own experiences and queries with industry peers as well as helping us here at the BTHA to understand what more we can do on behalf of our members regarding this pressing issue. ‘Combating counterfeit toys’ was the first of a series of training days available to BTHA members, so please do keep your eyes peeled for upcoming seminars on industry related issues, or get in touch to be kept up to date.

BTHA members were also invited to a workshop in collaboration with CAP and the ASA at the end of April, regarding the new CAP guidance on marketing to children. We had 35 representatives in attendance who were able to speak directly with CAP and the ASA before the guidance was published and to have their questions answered.

The Combating counterfeit toys event was the perfect chance for members to share experiences and voice their concerns. Rebecca Deeming, BTHA The guidance came into effect on June 1st with a six-month transitional period and is now publicly available to be downloaded from the ASA website. We encourage members to follow up

with the BTHA if they have any queries on this new guidance. There’s just under a year to go until the General Data Protection Regulation will be implemented in the UK, in May 2018. There is specific reference to the conditions under which children’s data can be processed within Article 8 of the Directive. We are still awaiting advice from the ICO and we will circulate this to members as and when we receive it. All toy companies need to prepare for the GDPR implementation. You should be appointing a data protection officer and ensuring you understand your own data collection practices. For help on this, the ICO has published a useful guide for companies outlining 12 steps companies need to take now to prepare for the GDPR. Theresa May calling a snap General Election for June 8th has put BTHA Brexit discussions on halt for most of May. Once a new government is formed, the BTHA will continue discussions on reputable manufacturing, counterfeiting, safety and responsible marketing. June 13

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Fundels and Games

As one of the world’s biggest card game firms, Cartamundi has branched out into the world of STEAM with new project Fundels, an innovative product that allows children to develop their basic and creative skills. We sat down with Hayley McAuley of Cartamundi to find out more about this exciting project and the firm’s future plans


n an age where children are ever glued to their phones and tablets, endlessly tapping away at touch screens, it’s no surprise that an analogue game based around creativity has launched to massively positive responses from parents and kids alike. Cartamundi, an industry leader in card games and playing cards has launched a new product line with the aim of igniting the creative spark within youngsters. “Fundels is a range that creates a fun learning environment for children, parents and teachers to enjoy together,” explains Hayley McAuley, UK sales and marketing manager at Cartamundi. The creativity of the product lends it a cross-generational appeal, a quality that Cartamundi hopes to bring to its other

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properties. In addition to the drawing range Fundels have products that help children develop their knowledge of shapes, maths and writing. The educational aspects to Fundels are just subtle enough that it doesn’t interfere with kid’s enjoyment of the game, as McAuley explains.

Research has shown that our brains are 68 per cent more active while we’re having fun. Hayley McAuley, Cartamundi “Research has shown that our brains are 68 per cent more active while having fun. At an early age, children return home after a day of school with homework. We don’t want to add pressure by extending their do-to list. Fundels puts children to work in a playful way and without them even noticing.”

School visits across Europe lent Cartamundi an insight into the way children and educators respond to the games, proving a hit at after school games clubs. Through this game testing process, Cartamundi analysed the results and introduced tweaks to the product, aligning it with the national curriculum. “Developing a new game requires the craftsmanship of game developers with a passion and specialty in educational games,” says McAuley of the process of developing Fundels. “The schools and the children play a vital role.” Continuing with the theme of education, the firm plans to continue supporting the Fundels brand with an on-going stream of new creative products that build upon this solid foundation. “Playing cards makes people socially and emotionally wiser, it connects people with each other and invites them to learn from one another,” Van

Herck adds, in reference to the firm’s roots. “Fundels is the educational answer to that. The range introduces various themes to children. The current subjects include mathematics, language and conceptual thinking.” With a strong concept and focussed execution, it’s easy to see why the firm is confident in this fledgling brand. “Fundels brings children closer together with peers, teachers, parents and friends. Not only will they learn specific subjects, they will be faced with new emotions and experience different social situations,” enthuses McAuley. “They can learn how to deal with these emotions and how to connect with others.”

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LOGO – No Strapline


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Gameplan Europe is probably the leading specialist executive search consultancy in the world for high level positions in the toy industry. In the past three years at managing director level alone we have placed sixteen top people in toy companies in Japan, USA, France, Germany , Spain , United Kingdom. Apart from these assignments we have in this period recruited international presidents , key account managers and marketing executives. The key reasons why so many leading toy manufacturers repeatedly engage our services are as follows:







Through long experience we understand the idiosyncratic dynamics of the toy industry and the distinctive personalities of different companies, so we can identify those candidates who are likely to perform best in a specific client company. We advise on human resources planning because our experience enables us to recognise when a client's plans have possible weaknesses, and we can recommend structures which have worked better in other companies. We have a worldwide network of senior executives who know us and trust us to maintain confidentiality. They give us candid and frank insights on candidates. Generalist recruiters who are not known to the reference providers can for obvious reasons only obtain guarded and anodyne insights. Our vast database on toy industry people enables our search team to network more swiftly and effectively in order to home in on the top talent.

To discuss your needs please contact Andrew Dobbie or Margit Pendl / tel: +44 1442 870100

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OF THE YEAR 2017 The toy industry is home to a selection of leading women all keen to put their stamp on the burgeoning sector, from managing directors and sales executives, to marketing specialists and inventors. Once again we champion some of the most influential women who are making waves across the toy sector, in association with Gameplan Europe

Sarah Allen, Mattel UK

Kirsty Barr, Grapevine Global

Michele Bates, Evolution PR

Christine Baxter, BTHA

Hannah Beeching, Coiledspring

A well-known face of the global toy brand, Allen has worked on key brands including the likes of Barbie, Fisher-Price, Hot Wheels, Monster High, Thomas & Friends and Ever After High. Allen is a key member within the UK team at Mattel, where she represents the brand at numerous panels and committees.

Over the last ten years Barr has handled the PR for a variety of businesses from across the toy world. Most recently, Barr began a new chapter in her career with the launch of Grapvine PR, where her passion for all things toys continues to build. She is known for embracing toys and every latest craze.

After kick-starting her own business, Evolution PR, in 2004, Bates has gone on to secure numerous clients throughout the industry, including the likes of Character Options, Flair, Schleich and more. Known as a trusted PR business in the industry, Bates’ position on this year’s listing is a welcome addition.

As special event manager, Baxter plays a central role in every event held by the BTHA, making it a huge success. Previously described as a ‘lynchpin’ of the Toy Fair office, Baxter’s presence in the toy industry hasn’t gone unnoticed as she continues to be a figurehead for all of her colleagues and peers.

Last year’s Rising Star winner, Beeching returns to the listing thanks to her continued efforts throughout, where she is known for her enthusiastic and hard-working attitude. Launching and managing campaigns is in her nature, while her passion for toys is evident in everything she does.

Nicola Bergot, Flair

Lianne Bertelli, Bertelli Comms

Charlotte Bird, Re:creation

Trudi Bishop, Bee Licensing

Ali Brown, Orchard Toys

Boasting a vast sales background, Bergot joined Flair back in 2000 where she started out her time at the company as sales director. Thanks to her knowledge of the sales industry, Bergot went on to become commercial director where she has helped to launch Flair’s most successful toy brands to date.

Handling the PR for toy firms comes natural to MD Bertelli, who launched her own PR company. With a career in the industry spanning over 20 years, Bertelli has not only worked with some of the biggest toy brands, but has also launched various new products and brands to both the industry and the end consumer.

Not only has Re:creation’s Bird mastered the firm’s hoverboard, but she has also proven to be a key member of the marketing team, driving results and contributing to the company. Bird has been instrumental in the launch of the firm's Crazy Cart and has achieved ‘money can’t buy’ results.

Bishop’s role as a player in the toy and licensing industry hasn’t gone unnoticed by colleagues, as she is well known for embracing new ideas and taking on every role to the best of her ability. Bishop has also launched her own firm, Bee Licensing, where she has been able to promote new concepts.

Marketing manager, Ali Brown boasts a wealth of knowledge and experience in the toy sector having spent over four years at the toy manufacturer. Not only does she focus on brand development and management of the firm’s marketing, but customer engagement is also a key part of Brown’s job.

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Laura Bull, Schleich UK During her time as Schleich’s marketing manager, Bull has proven herself to be an excellent asset. Her belief in the Schleich brand is reflected in everything she does and her passion has contributed significantly to Schleich’s reputation, knowing the brand inside and out.

Laura Canzio, Jumbo Games Canzio has garnered over six years experience working in the industry, spending three of those at Jumbo where she has been instrumental in running the Falcon de Luxe 40th anniversary campaign that ran throughout 2016. She also introduced new lines into its puzzle accessory collection.

Anna Chapman, Walt Disney Co. VP of toys and stationery, EMEA, Chapman has worked at the global firm since 2005 where she first started as director of girls’ toys. In her role, Chapman manages some of Disney’s biggest licenses to date. Well-known for her charity work, she is a revered member of this industry.

Jessica Coy, Zimpli Kids For any marketing query big or small, Coy is the woman for the job. She has progressed her marketing knowledge, working on Zimpli’s hit brands Gelli Baff and Slime Blaster. With a Bachelor’s degree in marketing and advertising too, Coy is a deserving nominee for this year’s listing.

Selina Dangerfield, Norton & Company Creative, professional, a team player and a real grafter with a nose for a story, Dangerfield has earned respect and admiration from colleagues, industry peers and clients alike for her ‘can do’ attitude and ceaseless ability to see the good in everyone and everything. Even at 11 years into the job.

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Marie Bureau, Le Toy Van Leaving France behind, Marie took the plunge to move to England. Leading the creative department at Le Toy Van, she has made an extraordinary contribution to development of the brand and its products. The firm is now expecting great things from this dynamic marketer going into 2018.

Sally Carnall, Epoch During her time at Epoch as marketing manager, Carnall has been responsible for rebranding the firm’s iconic Sylvanian Families toy line, implementing new TV, PR and social media campaigns. With two degrees, Carnall is a fitting nomination on this year’s listing.

Samantha Clapham, Underground Toys In her time at Underground Toys, Clapham has demonstrated expert knowledge of the toy and licensing industry, resulting in a double promotion that has led to her recently being named head of product development. When it comes to licensing, her reputation precedes her.

Natasha Crookes, BTHA As director of public affairs and communications, Crookes is central to the work of the BTHA. She tackles all industry related issues, represents members’ views in government discussions, manages all BTHA’s PR and sits on the Toy Industries of Europe’s Communications committee.

Nancy Davies, Interplay UK During her 10 year tenure, Davies has launched the company into the international market, one of her most significant achievements as sales director at Interplay. With an unbridled passion for the industry, she is a key figure among the Interplay team now and for many years to come.

Frances Cain, A Girl For All Time Described as ‘a can-do super woman’, founder and CEO of A Girl For All Time, Cain has launched her own line of dolls, while launching the UK chapter of the Women In Toys business support organisation, where she regularly champions the work her fellow peers have achieved.

Kirsten Chambers, IMC Toys Chambers has worked within the toy company for over two years where she has handles IMC Toys’ marketing portfolio across Club Petz, Play Fun, Mini Peeps and more. Chambers has been instrumental in delivering campaigns and carrying out the growth plans for the firm.

Lauren Coombs, Generation Media Known for investing her time fortifying existing client relationships and overseeing the team’s work, Coombs’ experience and enthusiasm for media and the toy market is unparalleled. Her ability to lead has placed her as acting managing director of a firm that recognises her potential.

Charlotte Croser, Jollys Toys A passionate advocate for the independent toy shop and small High Streets, Croser is recognised for a unique toy shop that she launched in 2013. Helping local business is in Croser’s DNA, having launched a monthly farmers market to boost local trade in 2014. She is a celebrated industry member.

Marian Davis, MGA and Zapf A prominent figure in the toy industry since 1991, Davis’ plethora of experience has been integral in seeing her brands continue to go from strength to strength, plus in 2015 she was awarded with the Toy News Woman of the Year 2015 Marketeer accolade.

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Tracey Devine, Rubie’s Devine first joined the firm back in 2015 where she took the reigns of Rubie’s marketing department as head of marketing. In just under a few months, she was promoted to her current position of head of licensing and marketing, all thanks to her hard work and can-do attitude.

Joanna Drage, Thames & Kosmos As a seasoned director of sales, Drage knows her product range inside out. With its growing collection of games heading to some major retailers’ shelves this year, it’s just as well Drage is highly regarded for her ‘fun yet no-nonsense attitude to work.’ She truly is a fine addition to this year’s listing.

Marina Edwards, LEGO VP and GM for LEGO in the UK and Ireland, Edwards boasts both commercial and leadership experience thanks to her roles at Pepsico and Procter and Gamble, She is a strong addition to the UK and Ireland business and the EMEA and well worthy of a namecheck in this year’s list.

Caroline Fosbury, Fosbury PR Fosbury has spent almost three decades working in PR for toys where she has worked with major names including Tyco, Mega Bloks, Little Tikes and Worlds Apart. Setting up her own business in 2005, Fosbury has gone on to work with Spin Master where she managed the launch of Hatchimals.

Fiona Fraser Bell, Accentuate Games Fraser Bell has had an incredibly busy year, seeking out new global markets for the gaming success Accentuate and working with partners, Known for her hardworking nature, she has also been sourcing new digital outlets for the game while steering the marketing activity in both the

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Sabine Dix, Trends UK A highly respected member of the accounts team, Dix is known for her impeccable product knowledge, while also providing an outstanding service for both customers and business partners. “A great friend, she is also a really lovely person and fantastic company to work and have fun with.”

Emma Eden, Spin Master As marketing manager, Eden has been responsible for launching Spin Master’s PAW Patrol range, while helping drive it to become the top selling pre-school property. Seven years at the firm has seen Eden active across key brands like Air Hogs and Meccano.

Ruth Elliott, Big Ideas Product Development Co-founding both Carterbench and Big Ideas, Elliott has continued to make waves in the toy and design space. Elliott has helped design Cartamundi’s Shuffle range and Paul Lamond’s Doctor Who 50th Anniversary board game.

Tina-Louise Foster, MGA Foster first joined MGA in 2011 where she has built and expanded the company’s toy brands, including the likes of Num Noms, Little Tikes and LOL Surprise! As senior director of licensing, Foster boasts strong relationships with key retailers such as Asda, Walmart and Tesco.

Gemma Gallagher, Kidtropolis Gallagher has been a fundamental player in the kids’ event Kidtropolis, which she has since become a director of. Meanwhile, she has continued to run, an annual awards event that sees kids pick their favourite toys of the year.

Alison Downie, HTI Described as the ‘ultimate queen of licensing,’ Downie has garnered a wealth of experience and knowledge in the children’s toy market thanks to a career spanning over 30 years. She is responsible for three large divisions within the HTI business; product development, marketing and licensing.

Laura Edwards, Viral Talent With over 18 years’ experience in the multimedia industry, Edwards represents some of the most successful Kidfluencers, including Tiana from Toys AndMe in her role as commercial director at Viral Talent. She has been described as a

Katy Fletcher, Re:creation Having accumulated almost 15 years experience in the toy industry, Fletcher is a well-known face to many. Currently senior brand manager at Re:creation and with brands including Razor in her remit, Fletcher’s knowledge of the outdoor and ride-ons world is second to none.

Maxine Fox, iGen Insight A former BBC researcher, Fox has gone to apply her expansive skills as iGen’s MD. Fox boasts experience managing projects through their entire life cycle from winning project commissions, project design, scoping and analysis to making recommendations that maximise benefit realisation.

Jane Garner, Kilogrammedia

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In a crowded marketplace, Garner has gone above and beyond to ensure her service to clients licensees, licensors, agents and more are receiving the very best treatment. With a client roster featuring Cartamundi, Bulldog, JELC and more, Garner hes helped put new toy and gaming names on the map.

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Kate Gibson, Gibsons After joining the family business in 2005, taking up the position as operations manager, Gibson grew from strength to strength after being promoted to director in 2008. Cited as being ‘tremendously hard working and highly organised’, Gibson is a real credit to the team and this listing.

Helen Gourley, Toy Hub Toy Hub’s company director, Gourley has helped to lead the growth of the retail store with the opening of a second store, where she strives to stand out from the crowd, fighting off competition from local retailers, where she has been identified for her passion to provide an excellent service,

Chloe Hardy, OMD Leading a team of experienced media specialists, business director, Hardy is a key player at OMD. She is known for driving the industry to adapt and deliver activity that gives excitement and engagement for the consumer, while also ultimately securing sales.

Emma Hanlon, Thames & Kosmos Having spent over three years at Thames & Kosmos, account director, Hanlon understands the games and puzzles sector like the back of her hand. Hanlon has been cited as having ‘a can-do attitude and a contagious excitement for every product’.

Holly James, Peepo Communications James began her career in the toy industry as part of the in-house PR team at Mattel. In 2014 she founded Peepo Communications and current industry clients include K’nex and Kiddiewinkles, alongside other heavyweight consumer brands such as Ted Baker.

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Anna Giles, Hasbro As regional marketing manager of girls and preschool franchise brands, Giles has been helping to create the world’s best play experiences at Hasbro for more than ten years. She is praised by her peers as being an exceptional partner to work with and someone who is always open-minded.

Amanda Gummer, Fundamentally Children Boasting over 20 years’ experience working with kids and families, Gummer has been influential not only through her role as a research psychologist specialising in child development, but also through her role as CEO and founder of Fundamentally Children.

Lindsay Hardy, Trends UK A major figure in the toy space, Trends’ marketing director has played a key part in launching key brands into the UK and was also part of the core team that set up Flair. Now based at Trends UK within the marketing team, Hardy is known to inspire her peers to achieve the best they can.

Charlotte Howarth, MV Sports As product manager at the sports and leisure goods distributor, Howarth plays a fundamental role within the team. With over three years spent at the company, Howarth’s knowledge of MV Sports’ products in second to none, with a work ethic to back it all up.

Beth Jobber, Bladez Toyz Jobber’s passion for the products she sells at Bladez hasn’t gone unnoticed, as she has held a notable position within the team for the past four years. As key account manager,Jobber has played an important role within the firm having secured listings for many new accounts.

Andrea Gornall, Shop Direct Gornall has been central to the continued success of Shop Direct’s toy offering across her 26 years with the company, where she holds relationships with some of the world’s biggest toy brands. As senior buyer, she plays a key leadership role in a 20-strong group of buyers.

Wendy Hamilton, Grasshopper Toys Grasshopper Toys moved from being an online only store to a bricks and mortar store in 2012, all thanks to owner Hamilton’s commitment to the business. In 2013, she also took over the online science shop She is also known for supporting local charities and schools.

Wendy Hill, Mattel UK Hill has served a longstanding career at Mattel spanning over ten years, where she has played a key role in developing brands such as Fisher-Price and Hot Wheels. Known for her tireless drive and can-do attitude, brand activation director, Hill proves to be a worthy addition in this year’s powerlist.

Majen Immink, BTHA Going from Toy Fair PR manager to her current role as Toy Fair head of operations and sales, in just a few years, Immink’s unflappable nature ensures all operations surrounding Toy Fair are completed year in year out.

Rachel Jones, Character Options Jones has been a brand manager at Character Options for the last six years, where she has been instrumental to the success of a number of brands, including Peppa Pig. During her tenure, she has been responsible for the creation of all marketing materials in the UK.

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Nadia Khaldi, Generation Media After joining the company over four years ago, Khaldi has gone on to become a specialist in her field and has been fortunate to study and work across various different media platforms, proving associate director, Khaldi’s positioning is well deserved this year.

Charlie Le Rougetel, Big Top PR No stranger to the industry, Le Rougetel is a well-known face within the PR sector having worked on events such as Toy Fair and Dream Toys. After going it alone in 2014 with the launch of her own business, she has been praised for her tenacious attitude and efforts within the sector.

Hayley McAuley, Cartamundi Approachable, informed and effective, McAuley boasts wide experience in the toy industry working for big players including Vivid, Flair and now Cartamundi where she heads up the UK sales, marketing and consumer products business.

Rebecca Naish The Entertainer With a degree in marketing under her belt, The Entertainer’s head of marketing and licensing, Naish is a strong member within the toy retailer, where she has managed the marketing calendar and sought out TV media plans.

Anita Nutchey, Hasbro Nutchey handles Hasbro’s brands including Equestria Girls, Littlest Pet Shop, Play-Doh, DohVinci, FurReal Friends, Furby and Trolls. In particular, she has been commended for the amazing work she has done building the My Little Pony brand across multiple media channels.

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Lisa Lancaster, The Magic Box Toyshop From wooden toys to jigsaw puzzles, Lancaster knows everything there needs to be known about a variety of toys. Known for her appreciation of the importance of toys to kids, she has owned the store for more than three years.

Gillian Logan, Skinny Sketcher Director and creator, Logan has been described as ‘flying the flag for women toy inventors’ following the success of Skinny Sketcher since its launch two years ago. Not only is she the creative genius behind Skinny Sketcher, she is also a practising architect and mum of two.

Nicola Mellor, MGA Entertainment Throughout the year, senior brand manager, Mellor has championed the toy firm’s hit toy ranges including Num Noms and the most recent addition, L.O.L Surpirse! She has been instrumental to the growth of the toy brand, leading an unboxing event with Toys AndMe at London’s Westfield.

Lee-Anne Neale, KD UK Described as an ‘experienced, highly motivated and dynamic sales director’ Neale boasts over 16 years’ experience of account development and management in the gift, toy, nursery and outdoor categories.

Ane Olesen, Wire PR As an MD of her own business and a mother of two, it’s non-stop for Olesen who boasts 20 years’ experience having worked in senior agency and in-house PR roles, and more recently in her own business dealing with trade and consumer media in a variety of sectors.

Christine Lawson, Eduk8 Lawson founded Eduk8 in 2002 as she was passionate about providing high quality educational toys that helped all children, regardless of ability, learn through play. Since launch, she has been successful in securing Eduk8’s position as a leading supplier to the educational markets.

Vicki Marler-Hausen, Bladez Toyz After joining Bladez Toyz in September 2016 to head up the marketing department, she has been described as ‘a great PR and marketing manager to work with due to her professional efficiency and passion for her brands, hence her success in the toy industry’.

Rena Nathanson, Bananagrams Inventor and CEO, Nathanson is a familiar face in the games industry. She continues to evolve the brand with new games on the horizon and has been described as ‘sociable, friendly, supportive and a great example of a champion of women in the toy sector’ by her peers.

Christine Nicholls, Golden Bear Combining passion, dedication and a love for the industry, and as the vice chairman and director of product development, Nicholls is a great role model for women in the business, making her a worthy nomination in the listing.

Louise O’Shea, License to PR Having founded License to PR back in 2007, O’Shea has gone on to become a respected leader in the industry known for her ‘forensic knowledge of licensing’. One peer stated: “Time and time again she has offered a clear way forward to companies embarking on a PR campaign for the first time.

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Tess ParsonsBroome, Bandai With a stint at Vivid under her belt, Bandai’s ParsonsBroome first started out as an assistant brand manager, soon moving to the role as product manager. Within her current role, she has been instrumental in the launch of the iconic Power Rangers brand.

Julie Pittilla, Pittilla PR Described as a toy space PR legend, Pittilla has been behind some of the hottest toy launches to date from helping to launch Teletubbies to working with Moshi Monsters. A Familiar face at trade events, Pittilla launched her own PR business, Pittilla PR over 30 years ago.

Leanne Royce, Flair A respected member of the Flair team, Royce is known for her ability to build relationships while ‘getting the job done’. “Leanne is a team player who understands the needs of Flair and her customers to judge correctly the balance of gaining profitable sales for both parties,” commented one colleague.

Leslie Scott, Oxford Games Best known for her game invention in 1983, Jenga, Scott has gone on to make waves in the toy space having devised and created over 40 board games. Scott has also published a successful novel, as well founding Oxford Games.

Lauren Shipman, Posh Paws Described as ‘a true champion of plush’, Shipman has proven to be instrumental to Posh Paws’ expansion. Having joined the firm over three years ago, Shipman boasts extensive experience within the marketing sector and is also known as being ‘amazingly friendly, open and down to earth’.

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Shardé Passos, Jazwares Well-known for her understanding of Jazwares’ wide product portfolio, Passos has excelled during this past year as sales and marketing coordinator. Having spent over two years with the toy company, she has been commended for her friendly and organized attitude to her work.

Wendy Phillips, Toy Safety Experts Phillips is a respected member in the toy space thanks to her knowledge of the sector, as well as taking on the Convenorship of the European Working Group for Mechanical and Physical Properties of Toys. She also previously lent her knowledge of toy safety as a toy safety advisor at the BTHA.

Rachael Salt, Cheatwell Games In 2017 Salt has added the responsibility of managing Cheatwell’s sales agents to her portfolio, where she has shown a great aptitude to motivating, mentoring and improving the teams morale. “She has become an integral and popular member of the sales team,” noted one colleague.

Niamh SherwinBarry, The Irish Fairy Door Company After launching The Irish Fairy Door Company back in 2013, Sherwin-Barry and her team has expanded the brand to encompass a variety of items, from colourful wall art, accessories and storybooks, as well as fairy doors.

Lesley Singleton, Playtime PR Last year’s ToyNews Women of the Year winner, Singleton has been kept busy over the past year growing her business, Playtime PR. Having secured numerous new clients, from Esdevium and Lottie Dolls to Posh Paws and BBC Worldwide, Singleton’s position this year is well deserved.

Alicia Peyrano, Little Citizens Boutique Since founding the retail store, Peyrano has secured new partnerships with brands such as Tech Will Save Us and Virtual Reality films that educate, while some own brand toy developments are also on the horizon. The boutique has also scored two awards while under her management.

Georgia Robson, Carousel PR With a strong background in digital and traditional PR, Robson has worked on a variety of brands during her time in the PR industry. Bringing enthusiasm and humour to the table, Robson is hardworking and wholly committed to the brands and campaigns she is involved in at Carousel.

Fran Slager, Carousel PR Known for her strong knowledge of the toy market and ability to build relationships, Slager proves to be a formidable contender in this year’s listing. Always enthusiastic, Slager boasts a friendly and approachable attitude and has been described as a ‘delight to work with’.

Marie Shields, Lottie Dolls Shields’ committed efforts and hard work for the Lottie Dolls brand ensures that its message reaches all the right people. She is instrumental to the brand’s PR activities, and has spearheaded some new campaigns and approaches for the brand this year.

Lisa Smyth, Smyths Toys Superstores Smyth kickstarted her career at the toy retailer back in 2009 where she gained the position as a junior buyer. Soon after Smyth gained a promotion to buyer and then to her current role. Her business knowledge is also second to none, thanks to her Batchelor’s Degree in Business Studies.

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Judith Stark, Halilit Stark joins this year’s listing as a trailblazer in a male-dominated world. Having first joined the company in her 20s, after the business was formed by her father, Stark has gone on to be a prestigious member in the team, taking on the position as both owner and MD of Halilit.

Julia Swan, MI PR Global Bringing over eight years of experience to her role, Swan boasts extensive knowledge of the toy and licensing sector. After joining the firm in 2015, director of public relations, Swan, has spearheaded successful campaigns across large brands, most notably, Alpha Animation’s Infinity Nado.

Kerry Tarrant, Alpha Animation A recent addition to the Alpha Animation team, Tarrant has spent the majority of her career in the toy industry, boasting stints at Woolworths, Flair and Vivid. One of her highlights while at Vivid was a collaborative campaign focussing around the re-launch of Thunderbirds in 2015.

Frédérique Tutt, The NPD Group As toys global industry analyst, Tutt has over 18 years’ experience of helping companies across the toys sector drive business growth by providing strategic insights and fact-based consultancy. Tutt is the go-to woman for all your stats and figures.

Mary Wood, Vivid Wood joined Vivid in 2013, having previously held roles at Mattel, Zapf and HTI, providing her with a wealth of toy industry experience. “Positive and determined, Wood always makes time for her team and suppliers, making her a highly respected member of both Vivid and the toy industry as a whole.”

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Victoria Starr, Little Tikes Starr has gone on to become an integral part of the toy brand, after joining just two years ago. During her time with Little Tikes, Starr has played a fundamental role in the development of the digital strategy, and has since managed various new campaigns to help boost the brand.

Melissa Symonds, The NPD Group Symonds has been with The NPD Group since 2008, working with retailers, manufacturers and licensors in both the UK and European toy markets, utilising her knowledge of the history of toys, solid data interpretation and analytical skills, and understanding of core business issues.

Kay Thompson, Winning Moves Since joining Winning Moves, just over two years ago, Thompson has helped transform the UK retail sales team. Having expanded the team from two to six national account managers, she has provided the tools and structure to allow Winning Moves to increase turnover by over 50 per cent.

Linzi Walker, Argos Known as the ‘buying powerhouse at Argos’, Walker began her career within the retail giant back in 2005 as a senior buyer. She has since been named trading manager for toys and nursery, knowing what makes a great seller and championing great product.

Lucy Wynn-Jones, Worlds Apart During her time at toy firm Worlds Apart, WynnJones has held the position as marketing manager and most recently head of licensing. Wynn–Jones has also been responsible for developing and growing the firm’s UK and international licensing programme over the past 15 years.

Sarah Sutcliffe, Little Citizens Boutique Known for going the extra mile and offering faultless customer service, Sutcliffe is no stranger to staying late in store to ensure every customer finds the right gift. Based with the toy retailer in Northern Ireland, all customers like to seek help from the firm’s customer service guru.

Jess Tadmor, Panini UK At Panini, Tadmor has risen up through the ranks of the marketing department and now heads up the team, which has delivered spectacular growth over recent World Cup and Euro tournaments. She has delivered PR campaigns that have helped to make Panini a household name.

Jacqui Tobias, Moose Toys The brains behind Shopkins and Little Live Pets, Tobias is a figurehead of the toy space, Moose’s co-director and co-owner has played a key role in making Shopkins its biggest brand in 20 years. Last year, Tobias scooped the Women in Toys Wonder Woman in Toys Designer/Inventor award.

Mary Watson, Orchard Toys Her contribution to the toy industry over the years has earned Watson a place on this year’s listing. The export sales manager’s most notable achievements include the international development of the brand. She is also a safe bet on the industry golf day.

Charlotte Yates, Spin Master Senior brand manager, Yates began her time at Spin Master seven years ago and has worked her way up within the marketing department. Her most recent launch, Hatchimals, won Toy of the Year 2016, where she played an instrumental role to the brand’s success.

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Turning the tables:

The unstoppable rise of tabletop gaming While board and card games were once seen as a niche and uncool pastime, the exciting and creative worlds from the minds of modern game designers are now thoroughly cracking the mainstream. Here, Jack Ridsdale takes a look at the unstoppable rise of tabletop gaming.


hen you hear the word ‘gaming’ what initially springs to mind is most likely the booming business of video games (or possibly gambling) but in a world of smartphones, tablets and virtual reality many are escaping our digital reality and looking back to the past to enjoy the simple analogue pleasures of tabletop gaming. Take one look at the number of board game cafes and pubs that have sprung up in London and beyond over the past few years and you will get a sense of the burgeoning community that is growing around this longstanding pastime. One such London pub is Stratford’s Loading Bar, an establishment that offers patrons the choice of over 150 games, attracting customers from all walks of life, ready to bond over a board game. “Way back when I started in 2010 it was something that never came up, then with the move to London customers kept asking for certain titles so having started with Resistance and Forbidden Island it snowballed to 150+ titles and regular nights,” explains the pub’s owner James Dance. “I think the appeal is the social aspect of being able to enjoy something with a group of people, the way they allow you to role play and push boundaries provides a small burst of escapism without looking at a screen.” Lesley Singleton, founder of Board Game Club and MD of Playtime PR believes the rise in

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popularity of tabletop games is due to their inherently social nature. “Board games have crossed over from this underground, somewhat geeky place to be seen as socially acceptable forms of fun.” she enthuses. “TV-advertised blockbusters and crowdfunding campaigns have helped propel board and card games into the headlines and retailers like Firebox, who actively champion the more obscure - but massively fun social games that have played a key role in helping people understand that there’s so much more to explore. The kidult trend has also helped

boost board games’ popularity increasingly, adults are seeking fun ways to escape the grind.” It’s an era of unprecedented creativity for the industry, with its growing audience opening the doors for more creative and ambitious projects to take flight. While niche games like Dungeons & Dragons and Warhammer have always had a dedicated sectored off fanbase, the complex fun and strategy of these games is starting to appear in mainstream games, as products from the nerdier side of things begin to creep into the mainstream. One of the firms at the forefront of innovation in the tabletop games space is Esdevium,

a company that boasts a diverse range of products including the codebreaking game Codenames and the simple yet engrossing Dobble. “I would suggest that resurgence is the wrong word,” explains Esdevium MD, Steven Buckmaster. “The current popularity is new ground compared to anything that has gone before, both in the type of games that are being played and the people that are playing them. “The quality of new games that deliver an enjoyable social experience in an accessible format. This is a market that will continue to develop, games are far more than just a commodity or a toy today.” Board Game Club celebrates sociable board-gaming with live events, news and more. Perfect for playtesting, launching new games or simply meeting other fun people to play with. Visit www.boardgameclub. net to find out more and join our playful community. To discuss how Board Game Club can help your game or brand, email”

June 25

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Top of the tables There’s never been a better time to explore the booming tabletop gaming sector. To help you get started Jack Ridsdale has gathered some of the biggest titles in board games, card games and tabletop products to entice you into the world of gaming

Hasbro Gaming


he world’s biggest toymaker has recently expanded into the world of gaming with the establishment of its dedicated gaming label ‘Hasbro Gaming’, a decision that is representative of the market appetitive for products with a social element. “With the growth of digital and advancements in technology, we find that families are craving social interaction, away from screens as way to connect with each other,” explains Craig Wilkins, marketing

director at Hasbro UK and Ireland. “Families want to spend more time together, and playing games is a great way to make that happen.” Meanwhile the firm’s use of social media as a marketing tool reveals a sound strategy of wordof-mouth marketing. Hasbro’s family-focussed slate features spins on classic games like Cleudo as well as new hit games like Pie Face, while on the more hi-tech side Simon Optix, is a wearable Simon game with touchfree technology. The firm has also

outlined plans to focus on snackable games, that have cross-generational appeal, with the aim of drawing more people than ever to gaming. “Whether it’s working with inventors or our own internal design and development team, we believe great game ideas can come from anywhere,” adds Wilkins. “We’re

always looking at ways we can innovate on our classic games like we’ve done with Simon Optix and Monopoly Token Madness.” 020 8569 1234


Thames & Kosmos

Esdevium’s tabletop offering is led by the award winning Codenames, an innovative game that sees players attempting to deceive one another with 25 agents all vying for control of the board while avoiding the deadly assassin. Meanwhile the Kickstarter success story Exploding Kittens continues to captivate social settings with its irreverent humour and always lively gameplay. Elsewhere the firm have a strong hold on the family market with the Dobble Card Game and is further building on this success with a number of

2017 is a bumper year for games and puzzles specialists, Thames & Kosmos, who are introducing 21 new games to the UK market. Kerala is a tile-laying game set during an elephant festival in the Indian province of Kerala and is inspired by the beautiful artwork of India. Kerala transports players to a new world of fun and adventure. Things get kicked up a notch in fantasy game Brutal Kingdom, a magical adventure that sees players secretly plot to gain the greatest amount of power in three spheres of influence: royal, clerical and mystical. The key character, the bishop, has avoided a poisoning, but now danger awaits the abbot, who himself pursues the witch. The king and queen are at each other’s throats, while the executioner awaits his next assignment. Drawing influence from fantasy fiction like The Dark Crystal, Brutal

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creative products including Rory’s Story Cubes from The Creativity Hub, which has seen seven million copies sold. The licensed ranges, which include Doctor Who, Batman and Scooby-Doo, are sure to get the youngsters on board, while the potential for humorous narratives will hook the adults. Another critically acclaimed game from Esdevium has hit shelves in the form of Cortex, a quick fire card game where players are tasked to use different parts of their brains to solve the various tests and brainteasers. 01420 593 593

Kingdom is a stunningly original game with huge appeal. Rounding out Thames’ gaming portfolio is EXIT Games, a cooperative game that brings the real-life ‘Exit Room’ experience trend to the tabletop. 01580 212 000

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Ravensburger Games are a huge part of Ravensburger’s history and they have been producing games for almost as long as the company has been established. Ravensburger has a wealth of game concepts and ideas dating back to the 1880’s, and are constantly reworking, revamping and adapting popular game concepts into modern themes, making them fresh and relevant to the current market. 2017 is the start of a very exciting chapter for Ravensburger in the UK, particularly with games. As well as the launch of the revamped and updated versions of two classic and much loved family games; Penguin Pile-Up and Funny Bunny, Ravensburger will be increasing the range of games on offer with some exciting new releases throughout the year. Following on from the highly successful Bugs in the Kitchen, Buggaloop takes the Hexbug race to the next level. The game is played inside the box base on two levels, with plastic 3D loops that

connect the visible and the hidden layers, making for an intense and exhilerating experience. Often, the reason a game becomes a classic is because the concept and the gameplay is timeless. Ravensburger’s classic games appeal to players of many ages and interests, and bridges the generation gap allowing whole families to spend time together, having fun. Labyrinth celebrated 30 years of A-MAZE -ing family fun in 2016 and Scotland Yard is coming up to its 35th anniversary next year. Over the last few years Ravensburger has seen a dramatic increase in sales, particularly of Labyrinth and Scotland Yard. This is in part due to increased TV advertising and marketing campaigns, but it is mostly down to an increased demand from customers who are looking for fun family games that are accessible by all audiences. Labyrinth is a timelessly fun concept and lends itself perfectly to character adaptation. As such,

Ravensburger is launching several licensed character versions of this family classic, including Despicable Me, Star Wars and Disney’s Frozen. For younger players, they have a classic Labyrinth Junior which allows even the youngest of players to learn the ropes and join the fun. To get your pre-schoolers into the world of tabletop gaming,


GP Flair

One of the biggest names in toys, Character Options, is once again diving into the world of games in 2017 with a line-up of titles aimed at kids and adults alike. Capitalising on the ever booming videogames market, Character brings the world of digital and analogue gaming together with a new game based on international phenomenon Five Night At Freddy’s. In the game the demon teddy Freddy, holds the tokens and is resting peacefully when the lights are low. Players must then take suspense-filled turns spinning the dial and taking tokens from under his nose. One token too far and they wake Freddy from his slumber, unleashing his fury. Also on the way it’s speedy memory game, FlipSide. Inspired by classic games such as Tetris

Flair’s portfolio is sure to bring the family together with their range of fun and creative games including such hits as Party Crasher and Rat Trap. At a mid-price point, these games are great way to get the family introduced to the world of tabletop gaming, with simple, easy to follow flow of gameplay that can be picked up and enjoyed in seconds. Party Crasher is the new board game with a difference – there’s a greedy puppy hidden underneath waiting for his share. In this tense game of chance, children must roll the dice to see how many times they can press the cake on the dinner table. After the cake has been spun, players must press the cake and brace themselves in case the meddling puppy jumps up


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and the Rubik’s cube, FlipSlide is a highly addictive and fast moving game which has players flip and slide the blocks to solve puzzles. Licensed games will also launch with the Piston Cup Race Game, which sees players frantically race to the finish with characters from the new Cars 3 film. 0161 633 9800

Ravensburger also boasts a range of Thomas the Tank Engine card games, that are sure to capture the imagination of youngsters. Ravensburger has outlined its aim going forward is to be the games destination for players of all ages and with so many games entering the market they are well on their way. 01869 363800

from beneath the table and steals their dish. The aim is to keep your dishes and whichever player has one left at the end wins. The roles reverse with Flair’s second new game Rat Trap – now the aim of the game is to steal the cheese from the pesky rat trap. Designed like a real Rat Trap, this game takes suspense to a whole new level as players race to steal as much cheese as possible before they get caught. 0208 643 0320

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Gibsons As a stalwart of the tabletop gaming scene, Gibsons has once again produced a strong slate of socially-oriented board games, which are sure to be a hit at any social setting. In 221b Baker Street, players start at Sherlock Holmes’ famous London address and travel through the streets and alleys of the city, picking up clues and attempting to solve the most intriguing cases Holmes and Watson have ever had to face. Continuing the London theme, Mind the Gap is a brand new TFL licenced card game that keeps everyone entertained when on the move. This card game transports players to the world famous London Underground, as they take turns to discard a card that matches the relevant tube line. Wembley will hook the football fans, transporting players to the 100th anniversary of the world’s oldest football competition, when Tottenham Hotspur defeated Manchester City in the first


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Wembley will hook the football fans, transporting players to the 100th anniversary of the world’s oldest football competition. Gibsons Finally Pass the Bomb players’ nerves are tested to the limit by the threat of the ticking bomb. In turn players must shout out a word that contains the letters on the card and pass the bomb. 020 8661 8866

Zing Zing’s 2017 offering stars Blast Box, an action game that sees families competing to inflate the biggest balloon and giving their opponents a shock when its blown to smitherines. Elsewhere, get the youngsters involved in the fun and games

Megableu opens the door for some fun tabletop experiences with Tumball. Observe the cluster of balls, suspended by nothing but thread, but how many balls can you balance on them? Next comes Name That, a frantic word game that will bring

Wembley replay and Ricky Villa scored that unforgettable goal. Wembley celebrates the good old days, capturing the atmosphere and excitement of the game before the glamour of the Premiership, when all that really mattered was the game and the glory.

with the new Stick ‘Em game, that sees players armed with physical playing pieces. Finally, Wet Head continues to prove popular, hooking in audiences with its simple yet compelling premise. 01295 768 078 (Trends UK)

the family together or push them apart in a competitive competition to rack up the most points. Finally, a game that is sure to put a smile on the young ones’ faces is Beat the Flush, a game that will spray the loser with toilet water. 01295 768 078 (Trends UK)


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Mattel plugs into video games with Hot Wheels’ Xbox One partnership The global toy firm continues to fly the flag for video game fans as it introduces the iconic Hot Wheels brand in Microsoft and Xbox One’s popular racing title, Forza Horizon 3, which will feature six new off-coast islands BY JACK RIDSDALE


lobal toy firm Mattel has detailed its efforts to integrate its popular brands into the world of video games and beyond, following the introduction of Hot Wheels into the Xbox One title, Forza. The downloadable expansion introduces six new off-coast islands to the game, which are all interconnected by Hot Wheels style kit tracks that are hundreds of feet off the ground,

which boasts track features such as dinosaurs that spring to life. Jason Horowitz, vice president of Hot Wheels global marketing at Mattel, commented that the expansion is part of an on-going effort by the company to help integrate its brands into the world of video games and beyond.

We are thrilled to offer fans a way to experience Hot Wheels like never before, by being transported to a racing world with insane highspeed stunts on the iconic orange track. Jason Horowitz, Mattel “Hot Wheels is one of the only brands that mix realism and amazing design with imagination and thrills in a completely authentic way,” Horowitz told ToyNews. “We continue to look for best-inclass gaming deals

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that can help us deliver engaging content and experiences, which will resonate with our fans and what they love about the brand. Our focus in collaborations is on quality, gameplay, graphics and consumer experience.“ While a fair few video game franchises have made the leap into

the world of toys, it’s still rare to see such well-known toy labels, like Hot Wheels, appear in established gaming franchises. Hot Wheels was first introduced to the world of Forza with Forza Motorsport 5, which marked the first time a Mattel property had appeared in a videogame not explicitly based on its IP.

“The Forza team clearly demonstrated that it loved and understood the Hot Wheels brand,” Horowitz continued. “Our partnership has since evolved and we are thrilled to offer fans a way to experience Hot Wheels like never before, by being transported to a fantastical racing world with insane high-speed stunts on the iconic orange track.” “Our digital gaming strategy allows us to deliver thrilling vehicle experiences that challenge and engage kids and the most dedicated gamers, because a really well designed game has broad age appeal,” he added. Joining the new car line-up is the 2005 Hot Wheels Ford Mustang, 2016 Jeep Trailcat, 2016 Zenvo ST1, 2007 Toyota Hilux Arctic Trucks AT38, 2010 Pagani Zonda R and 1972 Chrysler VH Valiant Charger R/T E49. The Hot Wheels expansion is available now on Xbox One and PC. Mattel: 01628 500 000

5/19/17 11:34


Tokidoki ‘opening new doors’ to Aurora World With a heritage in premium literary licenses such as Moomin, the Gruffalo and the Tiger that Came to Tea, Japanese-inspired lifestyle brand Tokidoki is fast presenting new avenues to the plush specialist, Aurora World BY JADE BURKE


lush specialists, Aurora World is voicing its excitement over the potential its new partnership with the pop culture hit, Tokidoki, will bring to its business this year and beyond. Having recently revealed the first in a line of new plush characters from the hit property, the firm is already developing further products to bring to market. Marking a departure from Aurora World’s roster of premium literary properties in the UK such as Moomin, The Gruffalo and the Tiger that came to Tea, Tokidoki is ‘opening new doors’ to the business by tapping into diverse fan bases across the UK and US.

“Response has already been incredibly strong from independent retail to attraction, grocery, toy and online,” Alanna

Licenses have always been a door opener into the marketplace and Tokidoki has added interest and credibility to Aurora’s offering. Alanna Slocombe, Aurora World Slocombe, creative manager at Aurora World, told ToyNews. “It was the stand out range from all of the trade shows at the

start of the year and based on the initial reaction to the launch of Tokidoki plush, we are hugely excited about the future partnership and are already developing further product to bring to market.” Heading up the launch will be a collection of 27 plush characters, initially across Unicorno, Mermicornio and Donutella, all in three sizes. “Licenses have long been a key part of the Aurora World business and we always welcome new

enquiries from potential licensors,” continued Slocombe. “Licenses have always been a door opener into the marketplace and Tokidoki has certainly added interest and credibility to the Aurora World offering.”

CBeebies’ Bugbies get arty with Creative International The iconic BBC mascots, known as Bugbies, are now the focus of a range of arts and crafts kits developed by the UK’s Creative International, which the firm hopes will help pre-schoolers learn while they play BY ROBERT HUTCHINS UK educational craft kits specialist, Creativity International has joined forces with BBC Worldwide to launch a new range of CBeebies merchandise. The collection will launch with eight craft kits in total, including Collage Kits, Bugbies Sand Art and more, each providing a different way of enhancing creativity in children with designs based around the CBeebies’ Bugbies. “We truly feel that a partnership between the most watched children’s channel in the UK

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and ourselves is the perfect fit, especially when you consider the fact that one of the main aims of CBeebies is to encourage learning through play for children,

something that we here at Creativity hold in high regard,” said Rob Ireland, MD of Creativity. “Children recognise the kooky little shapes from the channel and

really enjoy engaging with the toys. The educational crafting element is spot on too, as the CBeebies channel helps pre-schoolers learn while they are playing, so it is a perfect synergy as a product range for parents and retailers.” Created in house by Creativity, the launch has already been met with a ‘strong positive response’ from a variety of retailers and consumers alike. “We have a number of trade deals in place and some cracking POS materials for the range. We are looking forward to the next 12 months with a happy smile.”

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Anatomy of a blockbuster toy:

In 1992 there was a bid to make it an Olympic sport, while in Italy the beautiful game is considered a Paralympic event. Such is the global and generational reach of Subbuteo there’s little wonder that the game that tests both mental ability and dexterity has found itself listed as a blockbuster toy. Robert Hutchins explores its history


ight, the play is simple. Flick Klingsmann up the wing, cross into Sherringham, chip the defence and land it on the head of Ginola. Score. By now, it’s relatively obvious that I am not a football man. In fact, the extent of my own knowledge of the beautiful game is limited only to Spurs’ goal scorers of the mid to late 90s. However, that doesn’t mean that I, and thousands – if not millions – like myself cannot and have not sat down to enjoy a heated and passionate game of Subbuteo. And it was only until I picked up

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this recent injury in my right index finger’s tendon that I was actually quite good. Screen time, consumer tech, augmented reality; these are all becoming commonplace concepts within the toy industry of today, as technology continues to deliver new ways to engage with kids and play. However, while the likes of Pokémon Go or new developments in the toys-to-life market steal headlines and column inches, it’s a simple concept that continues to delight legions of both football and gaming fans across the globe. Such is the global popularity of Subbuteo – a game that has spanned seven decades to date – that it has found itself ingrained in the culture of today, from

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Italy, where it is considered a Paralympic sport to the 1992 bid to make the game an Olympic sport. Despite its global fame, Subbuteo’s popularity stems from very humble beginnings, dating back to the 40s when it was created by Tunbridge Wells local, Peter Adolph in 1946. Announced in the local press in August of that year, it wasn’t until March 1947 that the first sets began to appear in stores. It’s hard to imagine Subutteo as a simpler concept, yet when it first emerged on the scene it was with little more than a set of wire nets, cardboard players and a stick of chalk for players to draw out their own football pitches that took the nation by storm. In Christmas 1961 – five years prior to England’s legendary World Cup win – three dimensional, hand-painted plastic players were introduced. By 1967 these had evolved into the ‘heavyweight’ figure and by the early 80s it had evolved again, introducing the lightweight format that Subbuteo enjoyed for its most successful years, before production stopped in January 2000. Significantly shorter than England’s wait for another World

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Cup triumph, it was a full 12 years before Hasbro took the opportunity to team with the table football specialists, NiV for the celebrated relaunch of Subbuteo across Europe, tapping Paul Lamond Games to bring the new style game back to UK shelves. The game has since been a steady earner for both Paul Lamond and Hasbro, tapping into the demand for licensed teams and continuing to deliver on all fronts

own childhood, allowing them to enjoy playing it with their own children today.” While its international fame is well recorded, Subutteo’s heartland remains within the UK. It’s little wonder, therefore, that since its 2012 relaunch, several competitive sports table football circuits have sprung up all across the UK. 2012 even saw Subbuteo sponsor the Table Football World

It’s a game that encourages player interaction as well as quick thinking, tactical play and healthy competition, all the attributes of a blockbuster game. Richard Wells, Paul Lamond Games for fans of the sport over the last five years. “Subbuteo is an iconic game that really has stood the test of time and is as popular today as it has ever been,” explains Richard Wells, MD of Paul Lamond Games. “Fans now span across the globe as well as generations and for many parents, Subbuteo evokes nostalgia and rekindles the joys that parents experienced in their

Cup at Manchester City’s home ground, an event that saw over 400 players from 22 countries from across the globe take part, testament to both its homegrown and international appeal. To current day, and while I still struggle to name Tottenham’s starting 11, the love for the game – albeit on a miniature scale – remains as fervent as ever, with recent introductions of licensed

game sets, including the likes of Liverpool FC, Arsenal FC, UEFA and Barcelona, as well as the favoured Tottenham Hotspur and the obligatory Chelsea team. “2017 marks 70 years since Subbuteo first arrived on the shelves and today there are a variety of Main Game sets available, as well as team sets and accessories, such as referees, balls and fences,” continues Wells. “Football as a sport is as popular as ever and Subutteo is certainly a game that is welcomed by parents as well as gaming enthusiasts. It’s a game that encourages player interaction as well as quick thinking, tactical play and healthy competition, all the attributes of a blockbuster game.” So, while the likes of FIFA and Pro-Evolution Soccer appear to have the digital market and the tech-savvy generation very well covered, perhaps it is important to take a minute to iron out that cloth pitch, stretch out those fingers and pay homage to the game that kicked it all off 70 years ago and indulge in a bit of Subutteo. And if the day arrives when I come out of retirement, check out the fantastic curl I get on the ball when I have Ferdinand in the box. June 33

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5/18/17 14:45



DKL’s Plus-Plus to plug gap in pre-school construction market Already an established brand on a global scale, the construction toy known as Plus-Plus will now be distributed across the UK and Ireland by DKL Marketing, targeting kids of all ages with new imaginative play BY ROBERT HUTCHINS


KL is aiming to shake up the pre-school construction market this year with the introduction of the internationally successful toy range, Plus-Plus. Already an established brand on a global scale, Plus-Plus will now be distributed across the UK and Ireland by DKL Marketing, allowing children of all ages to engage in model building, creating mosaics and constructing 3D designs. Tapping in to the pre-school sector, the Plus-Plus Midi range launches with a strong FSDU, exciting branding and play trays to help encourage in-store play and brand engagement. “The Plus-Plus stand in Nuremberg was constantly packed with customers as it is distributed in over 30 countries, as well as having its own subsidiary in the US,” David Allan, DKL’s sales director, told ToyNews. “DKL can now build on this success by learning from the experience of other markets and passing it on to its UK customers. “When I saw this range at the show, I knew it would appeal to the UK. The Plus-Plus Construction System is very clever in that when you build a model it is realistic and strong. I feel this category needs a different player and I believe that Plus-Plus fills this gap.” Billed as a unique building brick that offers 3D construction play

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for boys and girls, Plus-Plus offers children a host of opportunities to engage their imagination and build models that can be played with time after time. Allan continued: “We see PlusPlus as more building in a unique way, rather than a standard construction system. The creative opportunities of colour, 3D models and even curved models brings a point of difference to the range.

When I saw the toy, I knew it would appeal to the UK. I feel this category needs a different player and I believe that Plus-Plus fills this gap. David Allan, DKL Marketing “The range fits nicely within DKL’s portfolio and opens new markets with our cross section of brands DKL already distribute.” And to encourage retailers to pick up the line, DKL has a full campaign already in place. “DKL Marketing always supports retailers with a dedicated marketing campaign, as well as instore programme,” said Allan. “DKL has dedicated salesmen who will support retailers with their requirements.” DKL: 01604 678 780

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Professors Green

Green Board Games is stepping up its pre-school activity with a new range of early years educational games from MindWare and Fat Brain Toys. Robert Hutchins talks to CEO, Keith Grafham about the firm’s plans for the space this year and beyond and why pre-school is a key area for an educational games company to be in


an you talk us through the MindWare and Fat Brain lines, what are they bringing to the preschool sector? MindWare has been producing and distributing learning games in the US market for nearly 28 years, similar to Green Board Games in the UK, and the partnership is a long-standing one of mutual distribution. MindWare’s most popular game is Qwirkle which has sold very well across the world, but they have a host of other great games and products aimed at all ages. We are pleased to be increasing our range with them this year and have had great response from retailers and consumers already.

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Fat Brain Toys brings a whole new range to Green Board Games, but still with a learning and play value, which you’d expect. They offer a fantastic range of colourful pre-school toys like no other, all of which are proven best-sellers in a number of territories. What demand have you seen for the ranges? The demand has been more positive than even we hoped for, I think because they are fresh and new and look fun and colourful. Games like Thumpin Thingdoodles and Peek-A-Doodle-Doo look as fun as they sound and have become instant hits. How important has the preschool sector become to Green Board Games? Pre-school is a key area to be in as an educational games supplier and we know that our games cross ages and ranges, so it makes sense to use what we have to maximise our reach. The Fat Brain Toys range particularly offers something new and exciting in this sector and gives Green Board Games a credible toy offering which will only get bigger.

Have you seen an increased demand for these educational ranges? If so, why do you think this is? I think learning focused games and products are core to any retail offering, largely because parents put value on their children developing and supporting their school learning. With retail prices increasing and money being tight for most people, purchases are more considered with play value and content being

Pre-school is a key area to be in as an educational games supplier and the Fat Brain Toys range gives us a credible offering that will only get bigger and bigger. Keith Grafham, Green Board Games more important than simple short term fun. That’s not to say these products can’t be fun, as they definitely are. However, they have added value and longevity.

What can we expect to see from the MindWare and Fat Brain brands over the coming years? Both these brands are well established in the US and in other countries and we believe they wil become family favourites here too. They are pushing their product development teams to keep offering more fun products which help children develop real skills and core competencies. How has business been for Green Board Games? The year has started well, we were obviously aware it would continue to be challenging from last year but we always expect to grow and set ourselves stretched goals. BrainBox continues to be our hero brand and we have been busy developing a wider range of products, licences and price points which should enable retailers to meet their customers’ requirements. Couple this with the Fat Brain Toys and MindWare ranges, and we feel that our offering is now far broader and interesting than it has ever before.

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Pre-school lines drive Spin Master Q1 results The toy company has revealed that pre-school hits, PAW Patrol and Rusty Rivets, have been ‘resonating very well with children’ on a global scale, which has contributed to Spin Master’s successful first quarter BY JADE BURKE


lobal toy firm, Spin Master, has detailed its latest financial results for the first quarter ended March 31st, 2017, citing revenue growth with the help of its pre-school and girls segments. Pre-school hit, PAW Patrol, has helped to drive gross product sales, which saw an increase of 31.8 per cent to $229.1 million, compared to $173.8 million. Meanwhile, Spin Master has revealed that gross product sales in the pre-school and girls segment also spiked by 6.6 per cent in Q1, driven by the success of PAW Patrol alongside PowerPuff Girls. This was offset by declines in the

firm’s properties, Chubby Puppies and Little Charmers. “We saw a strong performance in the first quarter of 2017, which is seasonally the smallest quarter

of our year,” said Anton Rabie, chairman and co-chief executive officer of Spin Master. “Our Q1 revenue increased by 41 per cent, despite Easter falling into

Q2 2017, unlike 2016. Growth was driven primarily by the outdoor business segment following our 2016 acquisition of Swimways, and continued growth in the R/C and interactive characters and preschool and girls segments. “ PAW Patrol has proved to be the driving force behind the company’s success during Q1, with no signs of the show’s momentum slowing down. Similarly, Spin Master’s recently launched Rusty Rivets is also ‘resonating well’. Ronnen Harary, co-chief executive officer, continued: “The strong momentum we saw in 2016 is continuing in 2017. Our properties including PAW Patrol and Rusty Rivets are resonating very well with children globally.”

Wild Kratts inks new book deal with publishing partner Topix Media Lab will publish new chunky board books for pre-schoolers and Show and Tell Me Books for school children, as well as a line of informative and fun bookazines that have been inspired by the PBS Kids series BY JADE BURKE Kids’ TV series, Wild Kratts, is bolstering its publishing program, following the signing of new licensee, Topix Media Lab. The publishing company is set to complement the programme, which is already led by master partner Random House, with the addition of informative and fun bookazines, chunky board books and show and tell me books. The chunky board books for pre-schoolers and Show and Tell Me Books for school children will

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help to bring Wild Kratts to life on page for fans of the show, which The Kratt Brothers Company is ‘thrilled’ to bring to market. “We’re thrilled to count Topix Media Lab among our latest licensees to help bring the Wild Kratts series to life in new ways for young viewers and inspire a lifelong love for the natural world,” commented Chris Kratt, creator, producer and co-star of the kids’ series and co-founder of The Kratt Brothers Company. Meanwhile, the bookazines will launch at magazine newsstands

everywhere including major, printon-demand online and specialty retailers, as well as upcoming book fairs and beyond.

The latest licensee deal joins a roster of partners already on board for the hit PBS Kids show, including Lightheaded Beds.

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£170,000 RAISED £170,000 RAISED


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5/18/17 14:25

Retail Only




Fidget toys storm retail Following the launch of Fidget Spinners and crowdfunding hit Fidget Cubes, retailers have witnessed a surge in sales with fans of the toys, with one retailer revealing they have sold ‘precious little else’ throughout May BY JADE BURKE


he introduction of fidget toys is taking the retail scene by storm, with retailers selling out daily of the Fidget Spinners. And with the Kickstarter hit Fidget Cubes heading to stores this summer, retailers have enjoyed one of the most profitable months all thanks to the new craze, with one retailer citing that they had sold ‘precious little else’. Designed for play, the fidget toys have been described as good fun but will also help kids with ADHD, anxiety and special needs, thanks to the toys’ many features including flicks, switches, buttons and more. “It’s been really great for us because I think without the fidget toys we would have had quite a poor start to May because we have sold precious little else,” Dave Carter owner of the Arcade Toy Shop, told ToyNews. “With the Fidget Spinners, we have been begging, borrowing and stealing off of other shops locally, splitting orders and sharing information on which wholesalers have got the toys and getting them that way.” With more children opting to use tech toys, quite often with a


Stuart Grant, The Entertainer

Geoff Sheffiled, The Toy Store

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We have been borrowing and stealing off of other shops locally, and sharing information on which wholesalers have got the toys. Dave Carter, Arcade Toy Shop screen, the influx of fidget toys is a welcome alternative to the toy industry, which provides kids and even some adults with a product to relax with.

Alicia Peyrano, CEO and founder of Little Citizens Boutique, cited: “With the proliferation of screens, I think our sense of touch has been underestimated and overlooked for some time. “It’s cool that this toy started off as a meditative relaxing toys to help children with autism or people who fidget. Here’s hoping for more manual toys to experience and make our senses come alive.” Now that toy firm Zuru is also getting in on the trend with its own fidget toy version, Spinzips, it looks like this craze will not be going away anytime time soon,

making it a sales opportunity today’s retailer should not miss out on. “We have had the fidget toys and sold out and people have been constantly asking for them. We haven’t sold anything else for the last few days apart from the Fidget Spinners and Fidget Cubes,” continued Mandy Middleton, owner of Toys n Tech. “The kids seem to like playing with them for concentration and fiddle toys provide them with something to fiddle with. We have received positive feedback on that side of it.”

ToyNews takes soundings from its Retail Advisory Board on toy industry issues. The current members are:

Linzi Walker, Argos

Brian Simpson, Toytown

Clare Barton, Sainsbury’s

Neil Mitchell, Shop Direct

Annalise Quest, Harrods

Steph Strike, Asda

Ben Redhead, Firebox

Alphonse Madamombe, Maplin

Helen Gourley, Toy Hub

Miles Penhallow, Play-Room

Karla Mitchell, XBite

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Snap out of it UK PM Theresa May has called for a snap General Election to take place this June to help support Britain’s exit from the European Union, but will this decision provide any more clarity on the subject? Jade Burke asks this month’s ToyShopUK listing whether this new move will help to provide some resolve for retailers


ollowing the news that the UK will be departing from the EU, the UK has witnessed a tumultuous few months since the decision was made last year. The value of the pound has dropped significantly, prices to import goods has risen and consumers have reduced their spend due to the uncertainty of the country. Not only that, this month will see the UK Prime Minister,

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Theresa May, call a snap General Election following questions over support for Britain’s exit from the European Union. Set to take place on June 8th, May detailed her plans during a briefing outside 10 Downing Street, citing that she wanted ‘unity’ at Westminster as discussions on Brexit began. Despite insisting that she and the Government would not seek a General Election until 2020, May

justified her decision saying, ‘the country is coming together but Westminster is not’. The ‘division in Westminster will risk our ability to make a success of Brexit’. More political uncertainty no doubt can cause damning issues for retailers, making more consumers reluctant to spend on the High Street, however if the polls are anything to go by it looks like the Conservative party will win the upcoming election by a

landslide, which may help to inject some crucial confidence into the UK public. And with the UK toy market valued at over £3.5 billion this January by the NPD Group, surely there is nothing to worry about? “Naturally we are delighted to see the UK toy industry returning significant growth despite the political uncertainty last year,” said Jon Diver, chairman of the British Toy and Hobby Association.

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during the election, it seems that the majority of retailers are not looking forward to the prospect. “A long period of stability is required to provide growth in the economy,” notes Paul Commander of The Toy Works. “Uncertainty is never good for business.”

Elections generally mean poorer trade until it is over and the result ultimately will not provide any clarity on the EU. Elaine Moodie, The Gorge Bear Company

“Our industry is innovative and creative and to sustain growth we look forward to more clarity on the process of Brexit, particularly the relationship with Europe on free trade agreements, customs union access and favourable tariffs with WTO members.” Despite this, naturally the indie retail scene remains sceptical about how the upcoming election will provide any more transparency on the departure from the EU. “Elections generally mean poorer trade until it is over and the result ultimately will not provide any clarity on the EU,” Elaine Moodie, owner of The Gorge Bear Company, tells ToyNews. “Instead it just seems to help the political parties.” According to a survey of British Toy and Hobby Association (BTHA) members back in January,

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results found that the industry was positive about the year ahead despite concerns over Brexit, with the greatest concerns proving to be the lack of decision or clarity on Brexit, anxiety over the uncertainty regarding exporting to, and trade deals with Europe and the devaluation of the Sterling against the Dollar. So surely a snap election will help to settle retailers’ nerves who are unsure about the future of their business following the EU crisis. Julian Shelford, owner of the Final Frontier, concurs: “While an election is going to cause uncertainty for a couple of months, it will at least give whoever is in power for the next four years to sort things out. Stability and direction for a while is called for.” As the UK braces for Brexit though, whatever the outcome

Duncan Conner, owner of the Bus Stop Toy Shop, echoes this sentiment, stating: “The prospect of a stronger Tory Government and therefore more likelihood of a ‘hard Brexit’ means years more uncertainty for small retailers.” Both the Conservative and Labour parties have outlined their manifesto if they gain power, and with talks of increasing the minimum wage and the possibility of an extra four bank holidays throughout the year, it is understandable why the call for an election could spark fears for some toy retailers. For example, Labour has pledged to raise the minimum wage to

Toy Shop UK is a consumer-led, online directory that helps toy suppliers, retailers and licence holders promote their businesses to an audience of up to 10,000 unique visitors per day. Popular weekly giveaways, the esteemed Independent Toy Awards and special supplier listings are just three of the ways

£10, ban zero hours contracts and introduce four new bank holidays, while the Conservatives have detailed plans to leave the European single market and to end the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, which will certainly make a devastating impact on the independent retail scene throughout the UK. “Whoever gets in power should not add any other burdens to businesses at the moment,” explains Shelford. “The discussions of four extra bank holidays and an increase of minimum wage will harm the growth of small independents who are more than only the owner, while larger businesses will offset these costs to suppliers and their customers.” If these plans are to be set in motion when either the Tory or Labour party takes charge, indie retailers are calling on the Government to ‘embrace small businesses’ and put in place new negotiations that will impact small stores in a positive way rather than in a negative. Despite this, retailers are sceptical as to whether the election will provide any solace, as it is of course hard to predict the future and what is to come when the next Government is elected. “Who knows what’s going to happen. It all depends on the result and then how Brexit is negotiated,” quips John Guiver, owner of Southport-based Models R Go.

that Toy Shop UK can help you increase your online presence and complement your other marketing activities this year. CONTACT: Michael Hawkins 07786 295756 for more information.

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Page-earners Boasting educational benefits while also being packed full of imagination, children’s books can help to enhance any retailers’ in-store offering. Jade Burke takes a look at the latest publications hitting the retail scene USBORNE Recognised for its array of children’s books, Usborne is inviting retailers to get in touch regarding its product range. As well as offering a huge selection of books for children of all ages, Usborne’s sales team are on hand to help with stock selection and POS display options, plus books are available on a sale-or-return basis. As the industry sees more and more customers diversifying, and the lines between product categories blurring, it’s great to see more toy retailers warming to a children’s book offering. Usborne children’s books range from engaging baby books, to activity books for rainy days, to gifts to be treasured – while offering educational benefits and value for money. The firm’s selection includes numerous best-selling lines that are a perfect fit for toy shops, and

this year’s top pick is That’s not my unicorn..., the 50th title in the internationally best-selling series of books for babies by Fiona Watt. Another series that’s proven particularly popular with toy shops is Peep Inside a Fairy Tale, which includes the much-loved stories such as Beauty and the

Beast, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood and Sleeping Beauty. Usborne also publishes a range of non-fiction books for pre-schoolers in the same format, including the top sellers Peep Inside The Garden and Peep Inside Space, which stand out for their design, editorial quality and top-notch production values. Usborne book and jigsaw packs are a new addition to the

sky, the weather and so much more. As well as facts galore there are recipes, science experiments and tips for protecting the environment. Whether swishyswashing through the grass or squelch-squerching through the mud, Bear Hunt fans will be able to explore the popular story in a whole new way. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt: My Explorer’s Journal is the companion title to the Adventure Field Guide, and provides the perfect place for young nature enthusiasts to record their outdoor experiences. This book invites readers to explore their world, and take inspiration from the natural wonders found in the towns and countryside around them.

These inspiring books offer plenty of interaction for young explorers to enjoy and record their adventures in the natural world and with space to draw, write and stick in treasures found along the way, the books are a hands-on experience for children and families to enjoy together. Featuring full-colour artwork from the animated film each book is the perfect accompaniment to the existing Bear Hunt toys and games, bringing an imaginative twist to outdoor play for children to enjoy. 0207 793 0909

company’s list for 2017, launching with Cinderella and Snow White, to be followed by Beauty and the Beast, Little Red Riding Hood and The Snow Queen. Each box features an illustrated paperback picture book plus a 30-piece jigsaw. Whatever your requirements in relation to stocking children’s books, Usborne invites retailers to get in touch now. 07939 173031

WALKER BOOKS The animated film We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, produced by Lupus Films and Walker Books, is based on the successful illustrated children’s book by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury. The film premiered on Channel 4 attracting eight million viewers becoming its highest rated programme of 2016. Universal’s DVD, the plush range from Aurora World and the games and puzzles from Paul Lamond have already proved popular as both self-purchase and gift buys, and are now joined by two interactive books from Walker Books. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt: My Adventure Field Guide presents eager readers with a wealth of facts about plants and animals, bugs and birds, clouds, the night

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CARTOON NETWORK Cartoon Network’s highly anticipated revival of its enduring original franchise, The Powerpuff Girls, soared onto TV screens worldwide in April 2016. Following the launch, publishing has been a key category for the new licensing programme, with Hachette Children’s Group being appointed as master publishing partner for the UK market. There are six Powerpuff Girls titles being released by Hachette Children’s Group throughout 2017 and this was kicked off last month with the retail debut of The Powerpuff Girls: Brain Freeze fiction paperback and Super Sticker Book. The range will be expanded in July through the launch of a new fiction title named Home Super Home and the Creative Colouring activity book. In September, a third fiction book Hero to Zero will join the line-up followed by an Official Handbook in October, in time for the key Christmas gift buying period. Meanwhile, Cartoon Network’s ultimate hero for boys, Ben 10, made a spectacular return to TV screens across EMEA last October. To bring action-packed

Ben 10 adventures and heroic fun to fans beyond the TV screen, Cartoon Network has inked a master publishing deal with Centum Books for the UK market. Launching at retail from this September, the new children’s publishing range will feature novelty and activity formats including the Ben 10 Annual 2018, Mega Sticker Book, Handbook, Fun Book that includes tattoo transfers and Ben 10 Seek & Find. Alongside these, fiction titles will also be introduced starting with a Tin of Books, which comes with four paperbacks and stickers. Titan Publishing Group has a long-standing relationship with Cartoon Network that has seen the publishing company launch an extensive range based on the hit series Adventure Time. The most recent titles for kids aged ten and up include Hero Time with Finn and Jake, How to Warrior by Fionna and Cake and the graphic novel, Islands. Following on from this success, Titan Publishing Group has

expanded its offering to include comic collections and graphic novels for a range of Cartoon Network originals. The target age for titles starts from kids aged seven and up and are based on hit Cartoon Network

shows including the likes of The Amazing World of Gumball, Steven Universe, Uncle Grandpa, Regular Show, Over the Garden Wall and Clarence. 0207 693 1035

JCB continues to excite the world of publishing thanks to its licensing partnership with Igloo books, which will see five new products launch for autumn/ winter 2017. Igloo Books combines play and publishing by not only offering stories that engage children, but by adding activities with each title to enhance the products. New for 2017 is the JCB Awesome Activity Bag – a bumper pack of three books, plus colouring pencils all based on the iconic JCB brand, Busy Digger Single Sounds chunky board book with a Joey JCB sound module to bring the story to life, 3D Diggers Pop Scene, which is packed full of lovable JCB characters and

features a pop up on each page, Digger Friends Play Shaped Tin full of exciting components and a storybook following the adventures of Joey and Doug and the Joey and Friends at Work lenticular book. Priced between £5.99 and £12.99 RRP, the new books are a perfect way for parents to encourage interaction with their child while building essential reading skills. Tom Sarson, from Igloo Books, said: “We love having fun with the JCB brand and creating not only great stories, but adding in exciting elements that allow children to explore activities which are true to the brand.” 01604 741 116


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MACMILLAN CHILDREN’S BOOKS The official The Gruffalo and Friends Annual 2018 is set to launch this August and is bursting with over 64 pages of craft ideas, puzzles and activities to keep children busy all year round.

The annual features characters from The Gruffalo and other much-loved picture books by prize-winning author, Julia Donaldson, and makes the perfect gifting solution for children aged from three to nine-years-old. Launching also from August is a boxed present idea, featuring The Gruffalo mini gift hardback and super soft Gruffalo plush toy, perfect for little hands. Since its launch, the Gruffalo has sold over 13.5 million books worldwide and now welcomes families to The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure at Chessington World of Adventures. 02070 146 380

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Down to a science STEAM products have been a shot in the arm to innovation in the toy industry, bringing an educational spin to some of the top brands with innovative product lines. Here, Jack Ridsdale explores this exploding sector CHARACTER OPTIONS With the launch of two new magnetic brands, Character Options is offering an exciting new construction play pattern for the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) sector with the launch of their Magtastix and Magcreator ranges. Magtastix is all about imagination, children can create hundreds of creative structures and designs with a combination of magnetic rods and metal balls. The range includes 20 piece, 40 piece and 70 piece sets for magnetic building fun.

Alternatively there’s Magcreator where children can design and build unique designs using the brightly coloured geometric shapes. Magcreator introduces mega magnetic power that’s educational and fun. Available in 15 and 31 piece sets. Both new brands will be launched with the full marketing support expected from Character Options, including extensive TV and PR programmes to give this new brand the full PR power at the firm’s disposal. 0161 633 9800

THAMES & KOSMOS Since 2001, Thames & Kosmos has been developing science kits for children around the world and is highly regarded by parents and teachers. This June, the company is introducing the Kids First Boat Engineer, this 52-piece science kit combined with the illustrated storybook provides an engaging way to teach simple engineering concepts to pre-schoolers and to start laying the groundwork for strong STEM-related skills as well as comprehension. Read the story of two inquisitive young engineers and their family’s robots. As children follow the story, they can build models of the ten boats featured in the story. Large, colourful plastic building pieces make it easy for small hands to put the models together and the kit helps develop fine motor, science and maths skills as well as visualspatial awareness, and reasoning and all-important concept development skills.

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The Robotics Workshop allows kids to build and program robots with this complete robotics engineering system. Using sensors, motors, a core controller, and hundreds of snaptogether building pieces, follow the instructions to assemble ten different robots. This fun robotics curriculum starts out with instructions for building simple robots, teaching children how sensors can be used to control robots. The robots can be controlled directly in real time and programmed to perform series of commands via an easy-to-use, free downloadable app on iOS or Android tablets and PCs. 01908 299 088

From the resounding success of the Hape Quadrilla wooden marble runs, comes the Medieval Quest suitable for children four years plus. Aboard a fun filled experience for adventure seeking little ones. You’re sure to get hours of family filled enjoyment. With no rules or guidelines to stick to from the word go, children can take on their very own quests bringing the unimaginable to life, helping the fiery dragon protect the inhabitants of the castle from the angry Griffin.

This medieval mystical themed castle has a customisable castle structure which involves a massive 217 pieces. Including: three towers, a rotary tower, an ingenious water mill, mighty draw bridge, carriage and tracks as you transport your goods to safety. At the heart of everything achieved by Hape is learning. From the design to manufacture to the moment it lands on your doorstep, Hape aims to prepare kids with skills and a platform for years of successful learning. 0845 6000 286

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GP FLAIR GP Flair’s Wild Science range transports kids out of this world and educates them along the way. The classic Wild Science Bath Bomb Factory and Perfume Factory continue to be favourites with young scientists, while two recent sets offer much more scientific fun. With the Wild Science Lava Lamp and Glitter Tube Lab, girls can make their own light-up bubbling lava lamp and shimmering glitter tube. Creating optical effects by reflecting light from glitter and bubbling water, girls can also explore fizzy chemical reactions that look just like an underwater volcano. Alternatively girls can make cupcake shaped soaps with the Cake Soap Factory. The soap in this kit can be melted and moulded to make almost any solid shape from macaroons and fluffy meringues, to jellies and cake decorations and even buttercream icing. Whipping the soap creates a stable foam

TRENDS UK that can be piped onto any cake soap creations. Who would have thought there was so much science in soap? Children can learn about solids and liquids, melting and freezing, aeration, dissolving, stable foam and reflection, plus much more. Wild Science is supported with extensive PR. In 2017, the Wild Science Global Science Challenge is taking place, inviting fans to buy one of the science kits, design their own and enter the competition to win a once in a lifetime trip to the USA. 0208 643 0320

Science fans will be inspired by the Discovery range from Trends UK, offering working features and educational benefits relating to the STEM curriculum. The Discovery range will be extended in spring 2017 with the new hi-tech Discovery Galaxy Tracker Smart Telescope. With a smartphone adaptor and aluminium tripod, kids can get the perfect view of the night sky. By using the downloadable free App to access an intelligent star tracking system, users can also identify the constellations. The ideal starter kit for budding chemists, the Science

Mad Chemistry Lab has over 100 experiments to conduct. Mix the ingredients to watch chemical reactions and grow crystals to find out how nature’s building materials work for real. The set includes a detailed manual, 19 chemicals, tools, goggles and a spirit burner. Elsewhere, Be Amazing’s Insta-Snow is reusable; just add a few drops of water and the powder expands instantly for snow that looks and feels real. Launched with PR campaigns, Insta-Snow is available in tubes or on blister cards. 01295 768078

ENGINO Engino is recognised in the STEM category for its successful construction sets, including the Discovering STEM series and ERP Robotics Series. Discovering STEM provides a construction range, which allows students to build models that demonstrate and explain a variety of STEM subjects including Newton’s laws, gears, levers, structures and solar power. Each Discovering STEM pack includes a reference book, which highlights the history, theory, experiments and quizzes of the subject. Plus, students can experiment themselves and make their own creations. Engino is also launching STEM Heroes, which is set to introduce

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children to the world of STEM disciplines through a completely new and playful approach. Boys and girls can construct one model from each of the small sets, while also learning interesting facts about each theme, presented in the included leaflet and the free app for Android and iOS tablets. The models derive from a variety of scientific themes such as aviation, space exploration, animals and vehicles. Each theme consists of three starter sets, which can be combined to create a larger model, which can be combined even further to construct unique mega-builds. STEM Heroes are available now in support of the Discovering

STEM series, which is available for immediate delivery. The ultimate STEM product from Engino is the Robotics Series. Here Students can not only experiment with STEM theories but can also programme their own creations for movement and activity. Students can learn to programme their own creations or follow the educational builds and programming examples supplied. Engino Robotics allows students to programme through a variety of sources whether using

the supplied keypad, downloading programmes from their PC’s or controlling their models from their mobile or Android Bluetoothenabled devices. 0800 988 7068

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XXXXXXX CLEMENTONI Bridging the gap between a child’s quest for fun entertainment and a parent’s desire for educational growth and development, Spin Master’s STEM-based toys teach and motivate as they inspire the next generation of inventors to get involved in these ever-growing and rewarding industries. STEM is becoming well known in education as a vital part to our everyday learning. Meccano sets encourage kids to learn about STEM skills while having fun. With Meccano, you will use unique metal & plastic parts of various shapes & sizes to build working models. All Meccano sets are built with STEM qualifications in mind. Sets feature real working parts, motors and wheels to provide

even more STEM learning opportunities. Meccano also includes products featuring robotics and programming; The Meccano Meccanoid is an advanced yet easy to use open-source robotics platform. Each Meccanoid offers builders of any age and skill sets access to the core values of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math and empowers children with a tool to learn about coding, robotics and construction. With several different modes to choose from and smartphone functionality, kids can build and customise the robot to their liking, all the while learning the basics of construction and coding - and most importantly, having a ton of fun. 01628 535000.

turning and twisting action, the Rubik’s Cube is still the ultimate when it comes to perplexing puzzles. Learning to solve the Rubik’s Cube can aid the understanding of algorithms and patterns with a strong basis in

the principals of mathematics. All key lines will be supported by strong TV and Digital and PR campaigns, bringing the Super Science kits to kids of all ages across the nation. 01480 414361

JOHN ADAMS John Adams Leisure’s primary aim is to encourage kids of six plus to explore the world around them whilst making science fun. This method of learning aids the development of STEM skills and is key to the company’s Action Science portfolio. New for 2017 is the Super Science Heroes set, which joins the company’s science portfolio for autumn/winter. Offering lots of super experiments, the set is designed to enable children to use science to create their own superpowers and explore what it would be like to be a real superhero. Children can create night vision glasses, a water web shooter, launch a rocket man into the sky, create a working freezeray and make a superhero walk down vertical surfaces. The new introduction will sit alongside the company’s existing science sets which include Hot Wires, Gross Science, Sparkle Science, Neon Science and Booms, Bangs, Fizzes. With 43 quintillion combinations and its unique

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Clementoni steams into the sector for 2017 with a tiered approach across a broad range offering retailers variations on themes at different price points. The Science Museum portfolio of experimental and exploration products offer a range of educational discoveries from Perfume and Crystal Labs to Human Body kits, Triops and Kitchen Laboratories. The Archeofun line of scientific kits take children on a fascinating journey of dinosaur discovery where they can hunt for fossils and reconstruct skeletons of legendary predators, all the while learning about the exciting world of the dinasaurs. Nominated for a Licensing Award with Science Museum, Clementoni also continues its Mechanical and Robotic offering with the all new Aerodynamics Kit and Evolution Robot - where children can programme the robot to pick up and transport objects and use the compatible free smartphone and tablet app which allows a further five different play modes: Programming, Real time, Selflearning, Dancing and Memo. Evolution Robot is the third Robot in the range following big success in 2016 with Cyber Robot and Mio. In addition, the Mechanics Lab line of selfbuild kits extends for 2017 with the introduction of aviation, motorbike and farm equipment kits, that will allow children to develop their skills and knowledge of these exciting and diverse topics. 0203 383 2020

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MGA Project Mc2 is a team of six supersmart and seriously cool girls who use their love of STEAM to undertake missions for top-secret organisation, NOV8. The doll line and accompanying Netflix original made an impactful start to 2017 with new cosmetic chemistry inspired products, and a siginificant digital campaign to support British Science Week – including an impactful partnership with teen YouTube sensation Amazing Arabella. This autumn will see a range of new products hitting shelves which continue to offer smart and savvy science-inspired play. New STEAM themed accessories will include customisable tech fashion accessories using LED technology. Following continued popularity, the Project Mc2

A.D.I.S.N Journal will be refreshed and Project Mc2 Ultimate Spy Bag will also carry forward as key products for Autumn 2017. The popular line of Experiment Dolls will see a refresh, with brand new experiment accessories, which can be performed again and again at home - using household ingredients. Each doll will also have premium fashions and high quality features. “The aim of Project Mc2 is to encourage the next generation of female scientists, engineers, technicians and mathematicians,” commented Marian Davis, MGA Entertainment marketing manager. “We’re looking forward to bringing this range to the market and continue stimulating interests in STEAM.”


ORCHARD TOYS Award-winning manufacturer Orchard Toys has taken the fun magical elements of its Magic Cauldron Game and built upon them for the all-new Magic Maths. Designed for children aged five to seven, the game features new gameplay, playful wizard characters and a broader range of simple and challenging sums that will help children develop essential maths skills while having fun. In the game, players take turns to solve a range of sums of varying difficulty, including addition, subtraction and multiplication. Once they have worked out the answer to the sum, the magic begins by turning over their card and rubbing the heat sensitive patch to reveal

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The campaign will be backed by major TV and digital support. 0845 0533 333

Adding to Little Tikes’ active outdoor play portfolio in Spring 2017, is the new Fountain Factory Water Table. With interchangeable pipes and fittings, learning becomes fun and hands-on. Water can be

channelled through pipes and in to three water fountains. It really is a great way to encourage kids to engage with STEM learning while enjoying countless hours of fun and excitement.

if their chosen answer was the correct one, putting a fun, magical twist on this engaging maths game. Designed in collaboration with teachers to support Key Stage 1 maths, Magic Maths features a popular wizard theme, making learning maths and sums a magical and enjoyable experience for children for children aged five to six. 01953 859520

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JUMBO New to Jumbo’s Educational range is the Dessineo Learn to Draw artistic educational learning aid that launches this July. This educational drawing aid is perfect for stimulating the creativity and imagination of a child and will keep them entertained for hours as they learn how to draw a variety of pictures, step by step, rather than just tracing finished pictures. The Dessineo Learning to Draw is specially designed for children aged four and older, providing them with simple shapes as a stencil and a wide variety of entertaining and recognisable pictures such as animals, vehicles, fantasy characters,

buildings and more. To make drawing easier, Dessineo features a light up projector that when turned on creates a perfect outline of the stencil shown on the transparent picture templates, designed to make it simpler

for children to draw accurately around the lines, whilst enlarging the picture on the template by more than 200 per cent. The Dessineo drawing aid teaches children how to draw in four simple steps. Completing

the picture on the stencil. There are three increasing levels of drawings for children to practice with and children will grow in confidence and ability to draw more shapes and pictures. The Dessineo features the drawing board with handle, light projector and turntable, 30 drawing templates, ten background sheets of A4 and one black marker. The product can then be neatly stowed away inside the transparent lid, making it ideal for the littles ones wanting to draw on the go. The product launch will be supported with a branded microsite that will allow parents to download new background designs to use with the 30 drawing templates provided for even more fun. 01707 260436


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N O S W IE V N IO L IL B 2 OVER Fully Stocked FSDU Bundle contains;



8 x Gelli Baff 1 Use (4 x Red, 4 x Green) 8 x Gelli Baff 1 Use (4 x Blue, 4 x Pink) 8 x Gelli Baff 2 Use ((Mixed Colours) 8 x Gelli Play (4 x Red, 4 x Green) 20 x Slime Baff 1 Use (10 x Green, 5 x Red, 5 x Blue) 10 x Slime Baff 2 Use (Mixed Colours) G 16 x Slime Play Green 20 x NEW! SnoBall Battle Pack 8 x Baff Water Colours (6 Pack) 8 x Crackle Baff (6 Pack) 8 x Smelli Gelli Baff (Popcorn and Bubblegum) 8 x Gelli Baff colour Change (Mixed Colours) 8 x Glitter Gelli Baff Pink Ba (3 Pack) 8 x Crackle Baff FREE Free Standing Display Unit (FSDU)

£297.92 (RRP £714.54) 08454 591 818 ToyNews Advert Template.indd 1 5/18/17 14:18


Creation stories Brimming with talent and new releases, the arts and crafts sector is looking more robust than ever. Robert Hutchins takes a look at the sector delighting the Van Gogh’s of tomorrow, from sculpting sand to sewing kits SPIN MASTER As children embrace the creativity and freedom inspired by the Maker Movement, Spin Master’s activities continue to provide exciting and accessible options for kids of all ages to express themselves. The Cool Maker line encourages hands-on design, providing maximum fun and satisfaction with amazing end results. Giving retailers an added opportunity to stock this popular arts and crafts range, Spin Master offers some new stand-alone lines that introduce Cool Maker without the need to own the Pottery Cool Studio or Sewing Studio. Pottery Cool is the new way to create with clay. The Pottery Cool Jazzy Jewellery set has everything kids need to create

unique necklaces and bracelets for themselves and friends. By using the six included moulds to create designs, kids can customise with the letter stamp and let creations air dry to then paint them. Meanwhile, the Sew Cool Pouches Kit allows kids to stitch, patch and reveal as they create stylish fashion pouches. With Sew Cool and its fabric and needle, it’s never been so easy to sew. With the Sew Cool Fashion Pouches kit, kids can easily create and decorate three cool pouches, before personalising their creations with 20 stylish patches and three sheets of different metallic decorations. 01628 535 000

to grips with Sqand – the new underwater sculpting sand. Kids can create underwater sculptures with the reusable sand that never gets wet. The Ocean Fun Playset and Adventure Play-set both come with underwater scenes. Peppa Pig also makes for an exciting addition to the Cra-Z-

Sand range this year, with pink, white and blue sand included in the new Peppa Pig Sandpit. Meanwhile, the new Fireman Sam Sand Rescue Play-set brings new fire-fighting missions to the world of sand. Shimmer and Sparkle has not one but two new sets for girls in the pipeline. The Fashion Lites Studio is the ultimate two-in-one fashion designer, which sees budding designers draw their outfit designs and bring them to life on the light-up studio tablet. Alternatively, the Crazy Lights eight in one Nail Design Studio lets girls make trendy nail art with real nail polish. Finally, the Shopkins Ice Cream Truck has been added to the classic Beados range, along with a new refresh of the Shopkins Activity Pack. 0161 633 9800

CHARACTER OPTIONS Character Options boasts unique and cutting edge arts and crafts brands this season. Launching this month is Cutie Stix, the all-in-one activity that will have girls everywhere creating bracelets, necklaces and more from patterned rubber shapes. The Cut and Create station is a craft station that can be used to cut, core and create with. 24 unique patterned stix are included in an assortment of three sizes for endless craft combinations, while Refill Stix assortment, with themes including treats, animals and emojis, create additional purchase opportunities. The On The Go assortments cords and shoelaces also allow children to be creative and decorate accessories everywhere. Elsewhere, Oonies is a new property joining Character’s creative play portfolio. These

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inflatable mini balloons magically stick together to create a variety of fun characters, cool games and challenges. The line kicks off with the Oonies inflator Starter Pack, which comes complete with an inflation chamber. Cra-Z-Sand is being taken to an all new level as children get

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FLAIR GP Flair is the home of creative play and its popular Cool Create collection of brands is continuing to provide the best in arts and crafts with a whole host of new launches this year. The awardwinning IDO3D is ahead of the curve and the new IDO3D 3D Print Shop promises to open up new creative possibilities with its innovative function. The machine lets children create 3D models, collectables or clone any small item in incredible detail. From figures and toys cars, to charms and bricks, there is no end to what can be cloned and created in the 3D Print shop. Kids can create items using the pre-made moulds or replicate their favourite objects by creating their own moulds using the Formula 4D blocks. Fresh for summer is the Mr Frosty Choc Ice Maker; the all in one toy has everything needed to make choc ices at home.


The set comes with four 3D Mr Frosty snowman moulds, two 3D penguin moulds, ski pole choc ice sticks and an igloo mixing and drying station. Another foodie line from Flair is Shaker baker, taking inspiration from the heritage brand Shaker Maker, this is a fun way for retailers to appeal to the nation’s love of baking. With the My Little Pony Movie hitting cinemas in October, retailers won’t want to miss the new My Little Pony Shaker Maker. This all-in-one set lets kids make and paint detailed statuettes of their favourite My Little Pony characters. 0208 643 0320

Trends UK is introducing two new colour collections, metallic and day glow, to the popular Paint Sticks range from Little Brian this year. The perfect solution for creative masterpieces with no mess, Paint Sticks from Little Brian twist up and down like a glue stick to paint with ease. The Paint Sticks are extremely versatile and dry within seconds, so, unlike traditional paint and water, there is less chance of getting paint on those sleeves. The super silky Paint Sticks have

strong vibrant colours and can be used on all sorts of surfaces including paper, card, canvas and wood. Ideal for making artwork stand out with a bit of sheen, the new metallic Paint Sticks and day glow Paint Sticks are available in a six pack or classic and metallic ones in 12 packs. New point of sale displays are also available. 01295 768 078


XXXXXXX CLEMENTONI Clementoni’s Drawing Boards are an exciting collection of magnetic and enhanced drawing boards where children can draw and let their imaginations loose. With key license trends, the Clementoni range includes Magnetic Drawing Boards from Trolls, Num Noms, Disney Princess, Frozen, Finding Dory and Secret Life of Pets with new launches for 2017 taking on highly anticipated summer film release of Cars 3. All suitable for ages four and upwards, the boards are a great way for kids to have mess free drawing fun. Also new for 2017 is the Star Wars drawing board,

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a backlit console shaped to look like the legendary Millenium Falcon spaceship. The set comes complete with stickers, paper, markers and a glow in the dark tempera paint for lots of fun for children either creating their own drawings and recreating characters and starlit scenes. 0208 782 1136

New to Jumbo’s Creative Educational range is the Dessineo Learn to Draw box set, launching this August. This educational drawing aid is perfect for stimulating the creativity and imagination of young children, while providing them with the step by step techniques to draw and create their own masterpieces, rather than just tracing pictures. The Dessineo Learn to Draw is specially designed for children aged four and older, providing them with simple shapes as a stencil and a wide variety of entertaining drawings such as animals, vehicles, fantasy characters, buildings and more. To make drawing easier,

Dessineo features a light up projector that, when turned on creates a perfect outline of the stencil shown on the transparent picture discs, aiming to make it simpler to draw accurately around the lines while enlarging the picture on the stencil by more than 200 per cent. The product launch will be supported with a branded microsite that will allow parents to download new background designs to use with the 3D drawing provided. Jumbo Games children’s licensed creative play range features the new Disney Cars 3 and Bob the Builder 18-piece puzzle and colour box sets. 01707 260 436

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JOHN ADAMS John Adams Leisure is expanding its creative play portfolio in 2017, building on its successful heritage in what is the company’s 50th anniversary year. The 2017 creative play collection boasts over 20 new and refreshed product lines, including Spiralite, a kit that enables kids to create spiral designs that illuminate in front of their eyes. Pixelo is a new way to create colourful artwork – kids simply draw, doodle and dot with the amazing Pixelo pen, while GlowPad is another introduction which means budding artists aged four and upwards can create glowing pictures and messages for friends and family. The company’s My Little Pony arts and crafts range has also been refreshed for 2017 in line with the upcoming movie release

later this year. The collection now includes a restyled Paint and Style Pony and refreshed Fuzzy Felt set. New additions include My Little Pony Jelly Stickers and the sure-fire My Little Pony BLOPENS Creative Case. This will sit alongside two new classic BLOPENS introductions – BLOPENS Spray magic and the BLOPENS Glitter Studio which enables young artists to create glittery airbrushed pictures and projects. The company’s multi-award winning modelling sand, Sands Alive, will see a fun Farm Yard set joining the range for 2017. This will sit alongside the Sands Alive castle set which has Recommended status from The Good Toy Guide, a fine endorsement for the brand.


Exciting new craft products from The World of Eric Carle featuring The Very Hungry Caterpillar are now available from the popular Rainbow Designs. The innovative craft activity sets have been designed to encourage little ones to get creative as well as help develop and refine their fine motor skills. The new craft collection features a range of Super Dough Model Kits so youngsters can make and collect characters from Eric Carle’s famous tales, including the Brown Bear, the Elephant, the Grouchy Ladybug and The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

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The eZee Beads collection provides an easy way for children aged five and upwards to get crafty and create colourful models using just the power of water and beads. 2017 sees the expansion of the range with the introduction of a licensed PAW Patrol set as well as In the Jungle, 3D Mini Scenes and

Little Friends themed sets. Chocolate Sprinkle Stix leads the company’s growing food craft collection and enables kids to create a sprinkle storm in the kitchen and make their own bite sized treats. All of the new launches will benefit from TV advertising PR. 01480 414 361


Suitable for ages three years and over, the reusable Super Dough requires no baking as it hardens in the air. In addition, there are also craft sets available to create a Very Hungry Caterpillar Wooden Door Hanger and the Sew-n-Stuff Caterpillar set, that makes the perfect first sewing kit. The Very Hungry Caterpillar Colour and Construct 3D Characters, the Foam Character Design Kits as well as The Very Hungry Caterpillar Colour and Collage Kit and Make Your Own Pillow Set join the range. 01329 227 300

Fiesta Crafts has three exciting build your own craft sets to keep children entertained for hours. Not only do they get to build their own toy, but through that process they get to understand how it all fits together. The Build A Rolling Tank Craft Kit is perfect for kids who want to build their own army. The Firing Catapult Craft Kit will give children a sense of achievement as they build up their own toy and enjoy hours of entertainment playing with it. As with all of Fiesta’s craft kits, instructions are easy to follow and simple to construct.

There’s also the Firing Wooden Cannon kit, which will encourage a bit of competiton as you compete over who can knock over the most targets. You can even adjust the trajectory of the cannon, making target practice a great way to improve hand to eye co-ordination. Once the kits have been built, children can paint their own designs onto these craft kits – whether it’s a camouflage design, or something medieval. The adventures are endless and these craft kits are great for fun and safe play. 0208 804 0563

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This month Energy PR gets the honour of being our Team of the Month, meanwhile fidget toys are spinning the toy biz into a frenzy and Troxes smashes it’s goal.


Crowdfunding Focus:

Troxes Platform: Kickstarter Goal: $10,000 Jumping off the construction toys trend, Trox is an aesthetically pleasing hybrid of origami and LEGO that encourages children to come up with their own unique designs. Cooked up in the MIT Media Lab, Trox is touted as a ‘medium for geometric play that exercises and deepens spatial thinking.’ The toy comes in three different varieties, the Tetratrox, the Octatrox and the Icosatrox, which all interlock with each other to create imaginative structures. Created from a soft-touch paper that feels close to plastic, the pieces are come in a variety of colours for kids to experiment with. Having already smashed its goal of $10,000, there is still time to back this project, with pledges closing on June 17th.

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Who’s in the team? Louise Findlay-Wilson, who founded Energy PR in 1995, heads up the team as Managing Director. The business is then spilt into two practices – B2B and B2C. Susannah Morgan, Director, leads our B2C team, which works with big brands in the toy and game industry. We’re a strong team, with masses of experience in promoting brands to an audience of parents, children and retailers. What are your areas of expertise? We’re a full service communications agency with a strong heritage and experience in family brands and talking to parents. Our services include strategic brand building, media relations, events, content creation, internal communications and digital marketing – and everything that’s in between! Which toy brands have you worked with? Our experience includes working with brands from 20th Century Fox, The Toy Industry Association

of America and Ladybird to Galt Toys, Jo Jingles, Ambi and Wow Stuff. One day we might be organising a big photo call with the dancers from Strictly Come Dancing at London Toy Fair, or flying a delegation of journalists to cover the show in New York, the next we’re pitching a story to the national press, conducting a piece of research or implementing a social media campaign.


What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced as an agency? The impact of Brexit is already being felt within the toy industry, and any continued economic uncertainty is sure to have a knock-on effect on marketing budgets and of course, influence brand spending. What is the best part about working in toys? The best part has to be the people that we work with as they are so creative and passionate about what they do, which is our experience of everyone that

we have met in the toy industry. The enthusiasm for fun and designing products that bring so much joy to children really fuels the industry. The worst part? Thinking about Christmas as early as July! What’s been the most successful campaign you’ve implemented to date? It’s hard to choose just one, but London Toy Fair is always a great opportunity to demonstrate our creative ideas. Finally, if Energy PR was a toy or game, what would it be? Lego – practical, creative, colourful and industry leading. We can build anything and are agile enough to change course when we need to make the most of a genius idea or opportunity.

Fidget Frenzy First it was the fidget cube and now, with the explosion of the fidget spinner craze, it’s safe to say that we’re firmly in the grips of fidget mania. Spinners were the talk of the Toymaster trade show and have proven a massive boon to toy retailers – as well as eBay

bootleggers judging by the sea of knock-off spinners flooding the online marketplace. Despite controversies, I’m sure we can all agree that anything that brings comfort to people is no bad thing, and if it can generate a profit then all the better!

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Toy News 184 June 2017  

This issue sees the return of the ToyNews Women of the Year feature where we champion the top 100 women within the toy industry, so make sur...

Toy News 184 June 2017  

This issue sees the return of the ToyNews Women of the Year feature where we champion the top 100 women within the toy industry, so make sur...