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COVER STORY BEST SELLERS p14

Contents August 2017 Features

14

COVER STORY: BEST SELLERS We round up 20 sales execs who have proven to be a driving force in the toy industry.

10

INTERVIEW: ANNA CHAPMAN Forces of Destiny dolls, video games and blockbuster movies. Disney's VPCP reveals all.

22

FEATURE: CHANNEL HOPPING The future of marketing and how toy firms can take advantage to help build their business.

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ANATOMY OF A BLOCKBUSTER: CARRERA A detailed look at the history of the brand.

Regulars Opinion 07 Omar Khan 08 Tony Norton 09 Gary Pope Market Data 30 Euromonitor 33 Generation Media 37 Campaign of the Month 34 ToyShop UK Product Guide 38 Girls' market 52 Plush 61 Musical toys Back pages 64 People 65 Team of the Month 66 Anonymous August 2017 | toy news | 3

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Children + Brand = Power 40% of mums always buy the brands their children prefer*

Help release your clients’ ‘Kid power’

contact@generationmedia.co.uk

0207 307 7900 www.generationmedia.co.uk

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87 New Cavendish Street, London W1W 6XD *Source: GB TGI 2016 Q4 (July 2015 – June 2016) Female main shopper with children aged 0-15 in household.

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No. 186 | August 2017

The gloves are off

Editor Robert Hutchins rhutchins@nbmedia.com

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Deputy Editor Jade Burke jburke@nbmedia.com Staff Writer Jack Ridsdale jridsdale@nbmedia.com Sales Manager Jodie Holdway jholdway@nbmedia.com Production Executive James Marinos jmarinos@nbmedia.com Designer Nikki Hargreaves nhargreaves@nbmedia.com Managing Director Mark Burton mburton@nbmedia.com

Follow us @toynews online

hen the BBC pledged an investment of £34 million into its children's services, it sent a concise message to our overseas cousins. For many years Netflix, YouTube and Amazon have been dominant in the kids’ entertainment space, cornering the digital market with exclusive launches and original series. It was to a fanfare that the broadcaster’s statement carried with it a bold and decisive rhetoric – the gloves are off. With a Brexit plan as fragile as a ‘Terry’s chocolate orange,’ it couldn’t have come at a better time. The creative industry is, after all, the backbone of the nation, while for toys more investment means more home-grown content, and with it, more consumer products. We can't knock the IP to have emerged from the US, however. PAW Patrol has put more dinners on the table than Jeeves and Wooster ever could. But it's cheering to know that, in the fight for dominance in the kids’ entertainment space, Britain has pitched its flag. Meanwhile, Nickelodeon's recent investment into esports is a clear indication of the potential this growing entertainment platform has in the kids’ space, too. Could we be watching the dawning of a new era for children’s entertainment? I’d suggest we are, and with it, a tremendous new playground for the toy industry to enjoy. Robert Hutchins, Editor Rhutchins@nbmedia.com

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Opinion

Who runs the world? by Omar Khan

Jodie Whittaker’s casting as the 13th Doctor sent shockwaves through the world of geek culture when announced. It’s a bold but exciting move by the BBC, regenerating a male role into a female one, a decision 54 years in the making. But now is the time - both for the show and its licensed merchandise. Even with the Doctor changing genders, I don’t think it necessitates a fundamental overhaul of how Doctor Who is merchandised. The show has always had strong, fan-favourite female characters - from Sarah Jane Smith to Bill Potts - and at Forbidden Planet, we’ve seen significant growth in sales of female character-focused products over recent years, across apparel, toys, giftware, traditional publishing and comic books. It’s a myth to think that sci-fi/fantasy/superhero brands are dominated by male consumers. Female fans have always made up considerable portions of the overall demographic - and recently, there has been a surge in female characters being pushed to the forefront to meet fan demands for equal representation. Take the phenomenal success of Wonder Woman merchandise. Over 2017, products featuring her have performed exceptionally well, spiking around the

release of the movie, with sales on our apparel and giftware lines up by over 300 per cent. Similarly, when the anarchic anti-heroine Harley Quinn was introduced to mainstream audiences in DC/Warner Bros.’ Suicide Squad, sales of merchandise focused around her went through the roof. But is that surprising, when 46 per cent of comic book readers are women and girls? From Q4 2015 onwards, Star Wars’ new protagonist Rey was one of the most asked for toys around the launch of The Force Awakens - but because the brand’s DNA has been historically (and incorrectly) codified as typically male, great product opportunities were missed out on. Even when ‘gender-bent’ casting announcements are met with backlash (as was the case with 2016’s all-female Ghostbusters reboot), FP’s retail rollout programme still found strong sales from fans new and old alike. Defining properties as solely ‘boy’/’girl’ leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy where key demographics are ignored: if brands don’t service all aspects of their consumer base, the IP will eventually stagnate. Casting like Jodie Whittaker should be seen as evolution, not alienation at retail. Doctor Who’s big change is a brave, exciting new direction that will hopefully capture new fans while cementing the existing - as, undoubtedly, the show’s heroic brand values will remain the same with a man or a woman in the lead role.

"Casting like Jodie Whittaker is evolution, not alienation." Omar Khan is the licensing special projects manager at Forbidden Planet and a life-long Doctor Who - nay comic book culture - fan.

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Opinion

The power of digital: Are you getting the most out of your spend pot? by Tony Norton

We have been ‘doing’ digital PR for years and in the toy industry this means using online influencers who could be brand ambassadors for a client’s product or service. However, the challenge has become how PR agencies utilise this trusted, usergenerated content and reach those consumers across a more diverse comms platform than ever before. Today, there is a risk that PR agencies can only offer clients a finite digital PR programme; one which ticks the boxes for sending out product, getting reviews and coverage, but that’s where their role ends. But for the consumer, this is just the beginning. It is now a question of how that review/post/blog can be amplified, re-edited, re-issued and aligned with a much bigger client brief, and translate into tangible sales. User generated content is on the rise, predicted to surpass brand generated content by 2020. According to YouTube, video consumption grows by 100 per cent per year, with more child-directed viewing across an increasingly diverse range of comms channels. Print media will continue to be relevant, however, the digital age has made these titles better, more relevant and more connected to their audience. Planning PR campaigns that have an element of user

generated content can be utilised across a host of social and online channels, as well as provide trusted news stories that reflect real people and real brands. Having one million views for a YouTube unboxing via a high profile influencer sounds like a major PR win. In reality, that comes at a cost as, unless you can track a sales spike to that one moment in time where they raved about a product, it’s all fluff with no substance. The challenge is to source those influencers on the up, not those who have already peaked. They charge the earth and there is no longevity around their review. As more PR companies recognise the value in digital content and the social web it's not farfetched to suggest that purely PR or digital agencies will disappear or morph into something new as skill sets merge. Digital tools, skills and knowledge have become standard practice in PR rather than the specialist skill it was. Working with digital PR practitioners guarantees campaigns reach and longevity. PR agencies must continue to battle for the share of a client’s media spend in which there is often a chunk for digital and influencer partnerships without real understanding of how the two can be aligned. As consumption of information becomes more focused on content and digital, PR and all its facets may be the best way to communicate your brand and product offering as they have a more in depth knowledge of your consumer and how to reach them.

"User-generated content will surpass brand content by 2020." Tony Norton is the chairman of Norton and Company Marketing Communications. With 23 years PR experience, Norton has seen success with major children's brands including Thunderbirds, Bratz, JCB, LEGO and Crayola.

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Opinion

The TV takeover: Are you ready for the rise of digital? by Gary Pope

65 years ago, the first TV ad for toys aired in the US: 45 seconds of advertising history that led to the sale of 100m Mr and Mrs Potato Heads. That’s a lot of googly eyes that TV advertising can take the credit for, and one of the many historical accolades of it. TV advertising has always worked, but we may just be starting to see the changing of the guard. Children tend to stay the same, but the context in which they grow and the communications that they are exposed to have, of course, marched onwards. Today, according to Ofcom, children spend three hours per day interacting with digital content compared to 2.1 hours on TV. That’s a 30 per cent decline in the last ten years. Furthermore, even when the children do sit down and watch TV content, the number of options they have to skip or fast-forward the ads are only increasing. Traditionally, if your brand is anything to do with toys, stories or characters, and if your target audience is children - your most effective form of marketing would be TV content. If you are good enough and lucky enough to have a running on CBeebies, you’d have the best advertising

you could ask for and the endorsement of Aunti Beeb would have been enough to fill the order book. But with the success of the Kids iPlayer and the expected further investment into digital platforms by the BBC, this may not be enough going forward. If the BBC is investing so ostensibly to play catch up with the SVOD providers, then there’s only one direction of travel for TV advertising and it’s not a traditional 30-second slot. Digital advertising has to be our focus, the area where children are increasingly spending time, but it is also one that is extremely fragmented: multiple micro-audiences that need bespoke content and bespoke management, and return on investment that can often be slow-burning rather than delivering an instant boost the way a TV advert used to. Digital advertising isn’t free of course, but that is often forgotten when measuring it ROI. We cannot expect TV-style reach form digital channels, while spending less than one tenth of the budget. And don’t think for a minute that Google, Facebook, YouTube, Amazon et al aren’t sitting in their lair, stroking their white cats watching a thousand algorithms plot the acquisition of all that lovely TV lolly. They are, and I would wager they’ll have this wrapped and under the Christmas tree in the time it takes for the latest toy craze to rise and fall.

"Digital advertising has to be a focus; Google et al know it." Gary Pope is the co-founder of Kids Industries, making family brands stronger with award-winning insight, strategy and creative.

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www.kindundjugend.com

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International Business Media Services Ltd. 42 Christchurch Road, Ringwood BH24 1DN, Tel. +44 1425 48 68 30 Fax +44 1425 48 68 31, info@koelnmesse.co.uk

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Big interview

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DESTINY AWAITS A not so long time ago, in a galaxy... just outside of Hammersmith, Disney unveiled the latest spin-off in its ever growing Star Wars franchise. Disney Consumer Products' Anna Chapman talks to Jade Burke about its burgeoning movie business, plans for video games and how Star Wars: Forces of Destiny is bringing in a whole new audience

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or many years, something that has been really important to Star Wars is the characters that little kids can grow up and recognise a little bit of themselves in.” It's insightful sentiment from Kathleen Kennedy, president at LucasFilm, and one that offers a glimpse into the thought process behind the sci-fi saga's latest development: the launch of Star Wars: Forces of Destiny. An iconoclast of pop culture, for years fans have projected upon the Star Wars doctrine, while likewise the movies have reflected it back at them.

"Hasbro's adventure figures are creating a whole new play-pattern for Star Wars." Anna Chapman, Disney CP It stands to reason then, that at a time in which female empowerment is finally ifiltrating the entertainment industry's big spend roll-out, Disney is shining the spotlight on its cast of strong female leads. From Princess Leia to Rey, Disney's Star Wars: Forces of Destiny is putting the franchise's female heroes in the driving seat of a new animated series and action

doll line from Hasbro, in a bid to bring the brand to a new generation of new audiences around the world. The call for less gender specific toys inspired by the juggernauts of pop-culture entertainment has finally been heard. “We are excited to have recently announced Star Wars: Forces of Destiny; a new initiative celebrating the inspiring stories of iconic heroes from across the Star Wars universe,” Anna Chapman, vice president of Disney Consumer Products, EMEA, tells ToyNews. With more shorts slated for release this year and starring the likes of Jyn Erso, Sabine Wren, Princess Leia, Ahsoka Tano and more, Disney is tapping into the girls’ space, ensuring Star Wars is an all encompassing brand that isn’t constrained by gender specificity. “As part of this, we are launching an original series of animated shorts from this July, supported by a line of toys from Hasbro this September, including new ‘adventure figures’. These are a fusion between traditional dolls and action figures, with an authentic and unique styling, creating a whole new play-pattern for Star Wars.“ Disney’s move is, of course, in stark contrast to Hasbro’s previous attempt at a toy line for the franchise. When Star Wars: The Force Awakens launched in August 2017 | toy news | 11

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3 and more. It's all good news for retail as Disney prepares for some triumphant sales figures this year. "2017 is set to become our biggest year for retail sales," continues Chapman. “The scale of the Disney brands at retail reflect the strength of our properties and this is thanks to extensive new product launches, a host of amazing new films and content as well as marketing support for our evergreen brands." But it would be churlish of the studio to simply rely on box office release dates to fuel its consumer products division. Star Wars, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Frozen are all performing well at retail, but what strategy is Disney implementing to ensure that its slate of big movies makes the transition to evergreen status for the years ahead? “We have incredibly strong consumer and retail marketing programs already in place to support these major franchises," answers Chapman.

"2017 is set to become our biggest year for retail sales. We have real strength of IP." Anna Chapman, Disney CP

2015, its corresponding toy line was met with a chorus of backlash from fans and moviegoers enraged at the company's apparent dismissal of the film's female protagonist, Rey. Could Forces of Destiny be Disney's overcompensation for the earlier faux pas? Only to the overtly cynical. The rest of us will be rejoicing at the ever closing-in golden age of female empowerment, and thanks for Forces of Destiny, kids inspired by the global brand will now be able to enjoy a collection wholly intended to champion the female role models lighting up the big screen. And the Star Wars saga doesn't end there, as Star Wars: The Last Jedi prepares to hit cinemas at the end of the year,

presenting yet more opportunities for the studio and its $10 billion franchise. “Star Wars: The Last Jedi will continue the Star Wars saga, picking up where Star Wars: The Force Awakens left off,” continues Chapman. “As ever, we have an extensive range of merchandise launching across all categories and we look forward to revealing more as we get closer to Force Friday II this September.” Silver screen Of course, Star Wars is one (albeit, lucrative) string to the Disney bow as the studio prepares to launch a slew of new product lines for the likes of Sony and Marvel's Spider-Man 3: Homecoming, Cars

"This will drive the product sales from launch and well beyond the movie release period, and although films are of course integral to our business, we also pride ourselves on our ‘evergreens’ such as Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Frozen and Disney Princess. "Each are seeing growth as The Walt Disney Company continues to invest in content and marketing to nurture and build these important franchises.” Having worked with a whole host of toy companies, from the likes of LEGO, Mattel, Sphero and Simba, Disney’s toy offering is nothing short of varied, with categories spanning role-play, ride-ons, plush, construction and outdoors, which has continued to prove popular with fans. Trending topics Despite already spanning the spectra of toy categories, Disney isn’t stopping short, instead throwing itself into the latest

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craze to have taken the toy space and the playground by storm: Fidget Spinners. Having recently topped Amazon’s toys and games bestseller list and more indie retailers stocking the fidget toys, any firm would be remiss to not take advantage and embrace the fidget trend. Chapman concurs: “As the craze for fidget spinners continues, we are excited to be entering this category with a range of products launching from various partners, covering Disney, Marvel and Star Wars this autumn/winter.” With more and more kids choosing to play with gadgets and tech toys, it seems fitting that Disney is bolstering its portfolio with relevant products such as the Ultimate Lightning McQueen and SpiderMan Interactive Super Hero, with more items to follow later this year, while a new set of flying R/C vehicles are also ready to make their debut in stores. “We are also expanding our offering within the gadget and tech space with multiple product launches incorporating the latest technology appealing to adults and kids alike,” declares Chapman. “Another tech line that offers something unique in the market is the high-performance Star Wars R/C flying vehicles from Propel. The professional R/C specification, detailed styling and unique

"We're working with some great game developers on some very exciting titles." Anna Chapman, Disney CP

packaging makes these items appealing to older kids and adults alike, perfect for Christmas, around the launch of Star Wars: The Last Jedi theatrical release.” So what more could be on the cards for a global firm like Disney? With additional live-action films on the way and more licensing deals than ever before, the firm has once again set its sights on the highly lucrative video games market. “We are working with a number of fantastic game developers and publishers and we have some really exciting titles launching over the coming months," continues Chapman. "These include Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite from Capcom, launching in September as well as Battlefront II from EA and LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 from Warner Bros launching in November.” It looks to be an exciting year ahead for The Walt Disney Company, then, who remains ever-optimistic about its blockbusting property line-up for 2017 and beyond. “We plan a long way out and it’s looking very exciting from both a content and a product development perspective. As ever, our strong movie slate, coupled with a whole host of exciting activity around our evergreen franchises, make for a great action-packed future ahead for us.”

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Sales superstars

BEST SELLERS The toy industry is home to a line-up of keen sales members, from managers to directors, all intent on making a sale to drive the company forwards. Jade Burke lists those key sales employees who play an intrinsic role to growing business in the toy space

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Sales superstars

"Matt’s work ethic and dedication are a real asset to Esdevium."

Esdevium Name: Matt Bishop Job Title: Broad Market Sales Manager

A favourite among Esdevium’s clientele, Bishop has spent four years at the company where he has played a lead role on key accounts. This year alone has seen him receive a promotion, taking on the role of Broad Market Sales Manager, where he will manage the telesales team’s dealings with indie customers. “Matt’s work ethic and dedication are a real asset to Esdevium and it’s a pleasure working with him,” cites one colleague.

"He is respected by licensors and is a valued member of the team."

During his time at Jazwares, Carney has secured relationships with key retailers since taking on multiple accounts from grocery and online to toy specialists. ‘A huge asset to the business’, he has bought a wealth of knowledge and experience to his role having previously been a buyer. Not only that, he is also well respected by licensors and remains a valued member of the team.

Jazwares Name: Adrian Carney Job Title: National Account Manager

"A formidable leader who aims to get the best out of her team."

Coiledspring Games Name: Kerrie Corrigan Job Title: Sales Manager

Within six months of joining Coiledspring, Corrigan was promoted to sales manager thanks to her wide-ranging skills and sales acumen that she garnered from previous roles. A formidable leader who aims to get the best out of her team, Corrigan has been known to bring a holistic approach to conducting business thanks to her attitude of building a profitable, sustainable company.

"Cox has spearheaded the launch for Alpha’s autumn/winter lines." Boasting over 14 years’ experience in account management, Cox joined Alpha three months ago where she is helping the firm to achieve its UK vision. A determined and passionate team member, since joining Cox has spearheaded the launch for Alpha’s autumn/winter lines where she gained new accounts and seeded new business.

Alpha Animation Name: Lisa Cox Job Title: Senior Account Manager

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Sales superstars

"With a cheerful outlook, Dix has been commemorated for her product knowledge."

Trends UK Name: Sabine Dix Job Title: National Account Manager

Dix has held several sales roles across numerous companies, from the likes of Spin Master and Tomy to MGA Entertainment, with her most recent stint at Trends UK for the past four years. Recognised for her cheerful outlook and her enthusiasm for the sector, Dix has been commemorated for her ‘outstanding product knowledge’ and ‘impeccable communication skills’.

"A true driving force behind the firm in the UK, Drage has been a fundamental player in growing Thames & Kosmos." A true driving force behind the firm in the UK, Drage has been a fundamental player in growing Thames & Kosmos’ presence within retailers. This year also saw the firm take on two new trends – board games and STREAM toys – which Drage has fully backed to generate more sales and grow her customer base.

Thames & Kosmos Name: Jo Drage Job Title: Sales Director

"Hogg possesses a passion and enthusiasm that is refreshing to see."

Click Distribution Name: Sophie Hogg Job Title: Sales Account Manager

Starting out as an independent account manager back in 2016 at Click, Hogg has since been promoted to her current position as sales account manager thanks to her tenacious attitude and ability to grasp the toy industry so quickly. “Hogg possesses a passion and enthusiasm that is refreshing to see and will be an integral part to Click’s ongoing plans,” comments one colleague.

" Hughes' enthusiasm and strong work ethic has never been more prominent. She has proved herself to be invaluable." Since starting her career at John Adams over 30 years ago, Hughes’ enthusiasm and strong work ethic has never been more prominent. Described as the number one sales rep by her peers, she has proved herself to be one of the most valuable members of the John Adams team, where she is known for gaining friends with many of her customers.

John Adams Name: Rosemary Hughes Job Title: Territory Sales Manager

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Sales superstars

"He’s an assiduous networker, whose confidence and intelligence gives him instant rapportwith customers." “He’s an assiduous networker whose confidence and intelligence gives him instant rapport,” describes one colleague of Kelly. Thanks to his strong retail background Kelly boasts a strong merchandiser’s eye and an innate understanding of the retail world, which he uses to his advantage when communicating with customers.

Coiledspring Games Name: Rory Kelly, Job Title: Key Account Manager

"Lenehan consistently delivers results to the highest expectations."

HTI Name: Andrea Lenehan Job Title: National Account Manager

With a ten-year tenure under her belt at HTI, Lenehan has been responsible for handling some of the company's most high profile accounts. Known as a ‘formidable sales force to be reckoned with’, she consistently delivers results to the highest expectations while growing the business and her account base, making Lenehan a worthy addition to this listing.

"He is known for his forward-thinking and strategic attitude." SuperAwesome’s head of sales, Lester is no stranger to thinking on his feet, constantly drumming up new ideas on how the firm can continue to push boundaries in the best way to reach its audiences. Using the SuperAwesome network to answer brand challenges, he is known for his forward-thinking and strategic attitude when it comes to a day in the office.

SuperAwesome Name: Matt Lester Job Title: Head of UK Sales

"McAuley has played an intrinsic role in creating own-label product."

Cartamundi UK Name: Hayley McAuley Job Title: UK Sales Manager Consumer Products

The successful UK launch of Cartamundi’s Shuffle brand was all down to McAuley, who has also played an intrinsic role in developing own-label product on behalf of Cartamundi for Ann Summers, Tesco and WHSmith. Boasting a wealth of knowledge and experience thanks to stints at numerous toy firms, she is a well-respected member of the sales team. August 2017 | toy news | 17

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Sales superstars

"Iain has turned launching innovative R/C toys into an art-form."

From starting out as a market trader to a CEO of his own company, Morgan has propelled Bladez Toyz into the recognised toy firm it is today. His passion for toys has been a driving force towards the firm’s international expansion, while his ‘infectious personality’ has ensured he is a popular team member among retailers and licensors. "Iain has turned spotting a gap in the market and launching innovative radio control toys into an art-form," cites one colleague.

Bladez Toyz Name: Iain Morgan Job Title: CEO

"Peoples’ knowledge of the sector is second to none."

Since joining Bladez in December 2015, Peoples has established himself within the firm, working to build new relationships with buyers. With a 14-year stint at HTI also under his belt, Peoples’ knowledge of the sector is second to none. Always on the look out for new retail opportunities and alternative routes to market, he has secured a number of new listings for Hot Wheels Drone Racerz this year.

Bladez Toyz Name: Keiran Peoples Job Title: European Sales Manager

"He has continued to do a superb job as a sales rep, but will now embark on an exciting new future within Marbel."

Marbel Name: Joe Rushworth Job Title: Sales Manager, UK & Ireland

After spending five years at Marbel as Northern, Scotland, Northern Ireland and ROI sales rep, Rushworth has been promoted to sales manager where he is set to take on a whole host of new challenges. One colleague reveals: “He has continued to do a superb job as a sales rep, but will now embark on an exciting new future within the company of Marbel.”

"Scott's a dab hand at testing out the many Razor ride-ons." Always keen to go the extra mile, Scott is known by his fellow colleagues as ‘hardworking, conscientious and utterly enthusiastic’. A dab hand at testing out the many Razor ride-ons he can also stake a claim to being one of the best Cruiser electric skateboard riders in the office. Not only that, Scott has been instrumental in developing relationships with many retail partners.

Re:creation Ltd Name: Harrison Scott Job Title: Key Account Manager

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"A valuable asset, she has a keen eye for sourcing new licences."

Golden Bear Name: Julie Taylor Job Title: Sales Director

Taylor has worked within Golden Bear’s sales team since 1999, where she has played an integral part in growing the business into a top three plush manufacturer. A valuable asset to the company, she has a keen eye for sourcing new licences, while demonstrating a considerable knowledge in the product development process. After scooping the Argos Account Manager of the year in 2014/15, Taylor deserves a place in this listing.

"Waddington's knowledge of the sector has proved fundamental to the company's growth over her 13 year tenure." A key member of the sales team at Click, Waddington has clocked up over 13 years’ experience within the toy industry. Her knowledge of the sector has proved fundamental to the company’s growth, as one peer explains: “Her knowledge and experience for all of the products she sells has helped Click to grow the independent sector of its business.”

Click Distribution Name: Gemma Waddington Job Title: Head of Independent Sales

"Passionate and determined, Washbourne is one that buyers don't forget easily, thanks to his enthusiastic demeanour."

Jumbo Games Name: Steve Washbourne Job Title: National Accounts Controller

It’s thanks to Washborne’s impressive efforts and ability to think outside of the box that he finds himself placed on this listing. Described as a passionate and determined member of the team, he is one that buyers won’t forget easily thanks to his enthusiastic demeanour. With over ten years at Jumbo, he has secured many new business opportunities for the games company.

"Wildman’s consumption of croissants is deserving of recognition." Since joining Halilit, Wildman has overseen a period of significant growth thanks to her extensive product knowledge and relationships with colleagues and suppliers. “Amy is always smiling, calm in a crisis and loved by colleagues, suppliers and customers alike. She always goes the extra mile to guide buyers,” comments one colleague. Not only that, Wildman’s consummate consumption of chocolate croissants is also deserving of recognition.

Halilit Name: Amy Wildman Job Title: National Account Manager

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The future of marketing

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The future of marketing

CHANNEL HOPPING The transition from linear TV to digital is in effect and the kids' marketing space is evolving. Robert Hutchins explores...

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ast month saw the online video streaming service Netflix hit a new record high, as it celebrated its 104 millionth subscriber. The obvious assessment is that this is a lot of Netflix and chilling, and not just within the US. The overseas audience has now pipped the domestic, accounting for 4.14 million of its total of 5.2 million new users acquired in Q2 2017. Spurred by the results, the VOD platform has now pledged $6.6bn to making and acquiring TV shows and films this year, with a bill of $15.7bn committed over the next five years. It’s a worrying premise to some of the platform’s closest rivals; namely Amazon and Hulu, as well as its linear TV competitors, and cements the vision that digital is here to stay. Likewise, the BBC made its own – albeit far more modest – commitment to the space, offering a £34m injection into its digital kids’ services under the promise of delivering more original British made content, as well as greater investment in its online kids’ offering. It may not arrive with the swagger of its US competition, but the statement remains: the

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The future of marketing

focus for children’s content consumption is making the shift to online. “The kids’ sector is in the process of making a structural shift towards digital, with budgets growing at 30 to 50 per cent year-on-year,” Dylan Collins, CEO of the digital kids’ marketing platform, SuperAwesome (left), tells ToyNews. “However, the sector is still years behind the mainstream media market, where digital spending exceeded TV last year for the first time.” To quantify, take a look at Netflix’s content output over the last year. Its adult-focused original content – the likes of Stranger Things, House of Cards and The Crown – far outstrips its kids' offering. It’s one reason why children’s brands have been far more tentative towards ploughing their marketing spend into the digital realm, TV has always taken president. But is the tide turning and are the sharks circling the likes of YouTube, Amazon and even Netflix, closer than ever?

“In five years time, over 50 per cent of kids’ marketing activities will be digital,” continues Collins. “That’s a huge stepchange from today, but it’s absolutely happening. Companies across the ecosystem will have to rapidly retool and rethink how they engage with kids.” Often billed as vanguards in the independent online children’s space, SuperAwesome offers a platform that

"In five years time, over 50 per cent of all kids' marketing will be digital." Dylan Collins, SuperAwesome allows brands to reach an audience of half a billion youngsters each month. And, having developed many of the most commonly used tools in the kids’ digital media ecosystem (including PopJam), it's

reasonable that SuperAwesome is at the forefront of that movement. So, is TV dead? At a time in which children’s app-gaming is on the rise, YouTube dominates the short-form, free video space and animated gifs are as much a toy as a Nerf Blaster, has TV’s role in the kids' marketing space become obsolete? Absolutely not, say analysts – but what other choice than to keep up with the obvious trend does the toy industry have? “Toy companies have been relatively and correctly conservative in their media investment online, primarily due to two reasons,” Generation Media’s CEO, Dean Weller (right) tells ToyNews. “TV advertising is fairly costed in the UK and Ireland and highly measurable, whereas online advertising is still unmeasurable to the degree the industry would like, and is dominated by Google and Facebook.” In January, Google’s Americas president, Margo Georgiadis made the move to Mattel, taking up the mantle of CEO at the global toy company. Since her appointment, Georgiadis has made no secret of her plans to help the faltering company return to strength through a restructured approach to digital. Meanwhile, Spin Master acquired the app-maker Toca Boca in April last year, while Hasbro’s cosying to the video and app-gaming market has been duly noted. None are examples of conservative moves from the world’s largest toy and children’s entertainment companies. “From the level of mergers and acquisitions and other activity which is going on in the toy market, it’s clear that the major toy companies are thinking very seriously about this,” argues Collins. But despite the odds, linear TV is still holding up and Generation Media’s Weller insists it remains the most powerful medium for the under six audience. Much higher than this threshold and the power of digital creeps in. “Above the age of six, the most powerful combination is linear TV advertising blended with online activity, whether that is VOD, social or display. It is simplistic but true to say that the older the child, the need to increment the budget to the online space becomes de rigeur,” says Weller.

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While the idea of children’s TV viewing figures giving way to online is arguable, the level of investment in children’s programming isn’t. If it wants to maintain its position for children across the age and gender spectra, it needs to stay in the game. “We need a strong CITV, Turner, Viacom, Sky and Sony to continue to invest in new and exciting programming content to keep our target market involved, at all ages,” explains Weller. “Worryingly, apart from the BBC, we are seeing a reduced investment in quality children’s content. As an agency, we are continually applying pressure on the commercial broadcasters to do their bit and produce and place shows with commercially viable and tradeable TV audiences. They need to try harder.” Where TV falters, YouTube, Facebook and the like, are ready to pounce. “Traditionally, if your brand is anything to do with toys, stories or characters, and if your target audience is children – your most effective form of marketing would be TV content,” says Gary Pope, co-founder of Kids Industries. “But with the success of the Kids iPlayer and the expected further investment into digital platforms by the BBC, this may not be enough going forwards. There’s only one direction of travel for TV advertising and it’s not a traditional 30 second slot. And the likes of Google, Facebook and YouTube are all waiting for their moment.” So, what’s the underlying message? Simple. The toy industry needs to prepare for the inevitable future and the legislation that the new frontier will meet. But what are these? In the US, under-13 digital engagement is regulated by COPPA. GDPR heads Europe. “Brands in Europe have been able to use regular ad networks or game sites to engage with kids,” explains Collins. “That’s all changing. Your digital team will be experts in compliance too, otherwise you’re going to get fined. Heavily.” Elsewhere, with kids having access to an almost infinite amount of digital content, more focus will be put on creating

communities to engage them. Of course, this will be around the clock, keeping kids engaged with brands outside of product releases. “Kids are still kids and like to play, but the definition of play in digital terms means giving them creation tools to allow them to express,” continues Collins.

"We need broadcasters to invest in exciting TV for kids in order to keep the medium buoyant." Dean Weller, Generation Media It’s a different future to the one the toy industry is attuned to, but it doesn’t have to be a daunting one, insists Collins, whose SuperAwesome platform is ready to assist firms eyeing the transition.

“SuperAwesome was founded specifically to ensure that 100 per cent kid-safe technology is available to all companies operating in the under-13 market.” As for the future for children’s marketing, it's surely one of opportunity for the toy market. But it’s going to take work, particularly with so many unknowns surrounding Brexit. “The passion I feel for being involved with great children’s marketing tells me to be optimistic as the digital online world releases opportunities not yet considered,” says Generation Media’s Weller. “But we must be prepared, alongside our media partners, to defend our right to market ‘our product’ to children on TV, cinema, out of home, in print and online in the face of possible future negative legislation that might hamstring us and of course, whatever comes out of post-Brexit Britain,” he concludes. August 2017 | toy news | 25

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Carrera

Anatomy of a blockbuster toy

CARRERA A true global brand, Carrera spans generations, crosses oceans and delights fans with its no-holds-barred attitude towards speed and adrenaline. Robert Hutchins explores the big business of motorcar racing on a miniature scale

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peed and racing, boasts Carrera managing director, Andreas Stadlbauer, are at the core of the Carrera DNA. Built on the principles of high-quality entertainment and performance, it is a slot car racing brand that has spanned the generations and travelled the globe for more than half a century. So it stands that the genetic make-up of Carrera is a worldly combination with gradations of Spain, Germany, France, the US and more. As a brand, its genetic coding is a passport filled with stamps. While its name may derive from the Spanish term for ‘fast race’, Carrera’s history can be traced back to Nuremberg of the 1920s. Founded by Josef Neuhierl under the name of JNK Nuremberg, the company initially found fame producing tin toys. 40 years on, it had progressed and by 1963, Neuhierl’s son, Hermann had

introduced Carrera Universal, the first electrically powered Carrera car racing track. It may have been small in scale – weighing in at 1:32 – but Carrera was in the game of doing some big business. 'Carrera operates far beyond the borders of Germany, indeed all around the world, and our car model policy is designed to satisfy all international tastes,' reads a statement from the firm. ‘Fans from New Zealand to Cyprus and from Portugal to the US are all captured by the legend of Carrera.’ Throughout the 60s, 70s and 80s, the firm became the leading brand in the German speaking slot car markets, bringing in a number of classic and modern cars to the portfolio. The company’s ability to tap into the big name car manufacturers, sponsors and investors has been a major string to its bow and a key strength of the brand throughout the years.

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Carrera

“All Carrera cars are licensed by the leading brands of the automotive and motorsport world,” says Stadlbauer. “These include F1 in which Carrera is proud to have exclusive licenses with Ferrari and Red Bull, and with it, it enjoys a host of cooperative and licensed activities.” From the 80s to the 90s, Carrera continued to evolve, and by 1999 the Austrian distributor for the Carrera brand – Stadlbauer Marketing and Sales – took over the company, helping to develop it into the global success story it is today. “Carrera has enjoyed steady growth over the past few years, especially within our international markets such as the USA, UK, France, Spain and Italy,” adds Stadlbauer. “We have invested heavily in providing the best play value and performance through the use of design and technology. We have embraced the digital age and now have products in 1:32 and Go!!! that takes slot racing to new levels for the consumer." Keeping abreast with current changes in the tech space is a wholly important skill for the toy industry to learn and utilise. The companies that fail to do so, or lack the foresight to innovate in time, are more often than not, discovered in the deep end of some turbulent waters; take a look at the recent struggles of Hornby.

However, Carrera’s ability to read the zeitgeist has positioned it well within the market for a new generation of racers, delivering new devices that allow for enhanced connectivity and enjoyment. “Just like the motor industry, Carrera will look to innovate and develop new, exciting ideas to give the user maximum enjoyment,” explains Stadlbauer. “We will continue to expand our R/C lines and we will look to explore the best available licenses that our customers connect with.”

Fans from New Zealand to Cyprus are all captured by the legend of Carrera. Andreas Stadlbauer, Carrera Alongside technology, licensing presents a major portion of the Carrera business model, picking up some of the biggest names in children’s entertainment from Nintendo’s Mario to Disney-Pixar’s Cars 3. Close cooperation with the automobile industry has enabled Carrera to secure the licenses to produce several replicas from the world of motorsports, while among

its big name licenses are Ferrari, Porsche, Audi, BMW, Bentley, Nascar and more. Stadlbauer, continues: “This year, Carrera will focus on two major releases: Disney Cars 3 aimed at children on Carrera Go and Carrera First – a new pre-school line for us – and Formula 1, which is experiencing a surge in interest. “Our strong licenses, coupled with state of the art functionality, has made us a leader in this sector. Each year we continue to invest heavily in producing the best products of their type." However, Carrera is far more than a one-trick pony, and has made the move into big events. In 2006, Carrera held its first Carrera World Championship. The day went to Vienna’s Andreas Loth, who trounced a ream of top-class drivers, in what was billed as a ‘gripping final.’ Loth returned in 2008 to take the World Champion crown and in 2010 the mantle of Europe’s fastest Carrera driver went to Francesc Capell Vives from Spain. It’s a Hall of Fame that highlights the worldwide adoration for the brand. “A key point of difference with Carrera is that we are all race fans and love to play, so the desire to produce the most exciting slot tracks and cars, alongside tech, will always be behind everything we do,” he concludes.

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www.licensingbizpowerlist.com

WHO ARE THE MOST INFLUENTIAL BRANDS OF 2017? Licensing.biz is celebrating 2017’s Most Influential Licensing Brands in this year’s annual Power List. Celebrating the top licensed properties of the last 12 months, this year’s List will be revealed in a glossy book to be launched during Brand Licensing Europe at the Power List Party on 10th October. Will your brand make it into one of the most influential licensing books of the year? Find out at the Power List Party 2017 on 10th October 2017. More details can be found at: www.licensingbizpowerlist.com

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7/18/17 16:57


Euromonitor Research

THE GENDER AGENDA Gender stereotyping is becoming decodified, with STEM toys leading the way. Euromonitor's Gina Westbrook explores...

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or many parents, especially young millenials in the US and Western Europe, raising a child in a gender neutral way is a key goal. This involves allowing a child to be themselves, and to avoid conforming to a gender stereotype that does not fit their personality. These parents are likely to dress their children according to their personality and their own wishes, rather than to gender tradition, and to buy toys that develop skills rather than focus on gender concepts. This trend is largely limited to middle-class homes in developed countries. In much of the developing world, gender stereotyping holds firm, except among a wealthy, educated, internationally minded elite.

The move towards decodifying gender is at an early stage. Gina Westbrook, Euromonitor Gender coding In the vast majority of cases, the gender segmentation of children’s products is strongly apparent. Pink aisles for girls’ toys and blue for boys’ toys is a standard across the world, as is the marketing of

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Euromonitor Research

dolls, princesses and role play toys, and action and construction toys for boys. The movement towards decodifying gender is at an early stage of development. Change is focused on marketing ‘boys’ toys to girls and very little on marketing ‘girls’ toys to boys. Sales of traditional toys and games continue to expand, led largely by demand for licensed toys. While demand for clearly gender segmented toys is strong in many of the leading markets, particularly China and Russia, the largest markets also include those where demand for a change in attitude towards gender marketing is apparent, including the US, France, Germany, UK and Italy. The biggest strides in de-gendering toys have come from retailers, with the categorisation of toys by gender removed by a number of high profile retailers. The trouble with dolls Dolls are a traditional girls’ toy, seen as a vehicle for girls to role-play their aspirations and dreams for adulthood. Traditionally, dolls have showcased a very limited view of womanhood, centred on appearance and relationships. Barbie, still the world’s leading doll, has lost share in recent years to fresher concepts, such as Elsa from Frozen, Monster High and less stereotyped licensed dolls, such as Rey from Star Wars. There are a number of less stereotyped dolls appearing on the market, today. SmartGurlz is a line of fashion dolls that ride segways that can be programmed, while Lammily is a doll which can be customised to have flaws such as acne, stretch marks and cellulite. 2015 saw Mattel launch DC Super Hero Girls, blurring the line between dolls and action figures, while 2017 saw Hasbro launch a Rey doll after fierce criticism that the initial Star Wars toy range excluded her, allegedly because the range was aimed at boys.

Experimenting with change Roominate is a range of building and engineering toys aimed at girls aged six to ten. The range is marketed in the US, Canada and Australia, teaching STEM skills through open ended play. Projects centre on concepts familiar to girls, such as dolls houses, but with the materials to wire the house. The key target markets for gender neutral children’s products are the developed markets of the US and Western Europe. Within these markets, the focal target should be younger parents of mid-high social class. In some developing markets, there are opportunities among the wealthy, educated urban population, for example in India and Brazil. The strongest opportunities lie in STEM toys, due to the huge push to encourage girls into this area and the frequent failure of manufacturers to get the balance right between a girl-targeted toy and a gender restrictive toy.

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 http://www.euromonitor.com/

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OWN R U O Y CREATE

BOWS

© 2017 Viacom International Inc. All Rights Reserved. Nickelodeon and all related titles and logos are trademarks of Viacom International Inc. JoJo Siwa is a trademark of JoJo Siwa Entertainment, LLC.

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6/19/17 12:14


Generation Media

MUM'S THE WORD Lauren Coombs If you're targeting mums to sell your latest toy brand, first you need to know your audience. Here, Generation Media breaks down the media habits of mums.

Source: BARB 2017

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e know that talking to mums can be complex, particularly if focusing on reaching them in their own time where the cost to TV advertise is significantly higher vs targeting this audience through children’s commercial TV. So we must consider the most effective way to reach her as we know not all mums are the same. For example, a London-based full-time working mum is likely to have vastly different media habits to one who does not work and lives in the suburbs and therefore, understanding these differences will help brands effectively target potential consumers. For this reason, Generation Media conducted a segmentation insight piece which aims to identify the commonalities and variations between mums with children under the age of five. We highlighted six groups that all pre-school mums can be categorised into and reviewed each group in depth to understand the varying elements. Let us introduce you to a snippet of insight from each group in our study. Our Money Making Mum is focused on getting to the top of her career with money being the best measure of success. She is the heaviest reader of print and enjoys going to the cinema to focus on her ‘me time’. The See-Saw Mum is only working for the monetary reward and is prepared to pay more for products that make life easier. She is most likely to be using on demand content out of all of our groups.

The Organic Mum finds it important that a company acts ethically and makes a conscious effort to recycle and pay more for organic food. She watches the least amount of live TV and is more likely to watch children’s content than the other groups. The Always Trying Mum is not happy with her standard of living and quality of products is not a key factor in her decision making process. The Brunch Mum believes a mother should put her children before her career and will always buy the brands her children prefer. Social media plays a large part in her daily media consumption with product reviews having a big influence on her purchasing behaviour. Finally, the Bargain Buster Mum is more likely to think a woman’s place is in the home. This group are watching the most TV with a preference for live TV which is where they can be reached most times. She is an avid reader of print, reading up to six women’s titles per month. By using this research, we have made it our aim to try and identify which groups over/under-index for your brands so that our clients can understand where they may need to focus their media buying to either reach a new consumer base or refine their approach against current consumers. For more information and to incorporate these learnings into your media plans, please contact us and let us help get your brand to the next level.

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

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Toy Shop UK

THE BIG DEBATE

REACHING CULT STATUS

BILL DEAKIN Silly Billy's Toy Shop

"Despite different fidget toys being released, we still predict an end to large fidget sales by close of school holidays."

MATT BOOKER Automattic Comics and Toys

"Brands like Marvel, Star Wars and Transformers are killed by discounting in big box stores before the lines even hit."

A month doesn’t go by before a new toy fad crops up, and with the latest fidget craze taking over, Jade Burke asks the ToyShop UK listing what makes a toy stand the test of time

MITCH BROWN Darths Hutt

"Toy companies will make a quick buck and once sales decline they will disappear off of the shelf."

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o-yos, Moshi Monsters and the cuddly Furby have all caused a frenzy among children in the playground, with kids clawing at one another to get their hands on the latest toy craze. And now the latest trend, fidget toys, from Spinners to Cubes, have made a massive impact on children’s lives, while also lining the pockets of many retailers. Known to help relax children and adults with learning difficulties such as ADHD, sensory toys have proved to be one of the most popular items of late, with many

retailers struggling to keep up with demand as stock fell short. “The latest craze is great providing you could get stock. The spinners were fantastic as there was demand and stock was available provided you knew where to get it,” Duke Miller of Dalscone Toys, tells ToyNews. While fidget toys have taken centre stage over the past few months, surely the next toy fad is only around the corner? With toy manufacturers constantly competing to launch the next big thing, it’s no wonder toy crazes die out after a few

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Toy Shop UK

months, but will 2017's fidget toys succumb to this? Just Williams Toys’ owner, Vicky Brown, believes this to be true. “Crazes will always be short lived despite what toy companies do, as there is always another product around the corner ready to take its place,” Brown adds. “Toys have become such consumable items that children also get bored and move on to the next craze.” Innovation is key to the toy sector, which leads to the introduction of new toys daily. For example, the simple Spinners first sprung up during May, however there is now a raft of options on the market, from Bluetooth-enabled variants to advanced light-up LED Spinners. This development is surely key to ensuring a new toy stands the test of time

rather than resulting in a fad? Models R Go owner, John Guiver, concurs: “Existing products can be 'tweaked' with new features to extend their shelf appeal, for example Spinners with lights and sound or a glow-inthe-dark spinner.” Despite this, retailers remain cynical that tweaks can help a toy stick around, citing the impact of online and discounting causing a toy to lose its shelf life. “Brands like Marvel, Star Wars and Transformers are killed by discounting in big box stores before the lines even hit,” explains Matt Booker, owner of Automattic Comics and Toys. Darths Hutt’s Mitch Brown, agrees: “Toy companies will make a quick buck and once sales decline they will disappear off of the shelf. Fidget Spinners come at price ranges and companies are putting licensed images on them for a few extra pennies, but they do exactly the same thing as a cheaper spinner without Spider-Man on it.” Of course, the customer is key to prolonging a toy craze, and with more and more children sharing their fidget toys, there is no doubt that this latest toy fad may be here to stay for many more months. Without the support of the consumer, new launches can struggle to find their feet in such a saturated market, as Bill Deakin, owner of Silly Billy's Toy Shop, suggests: “Toy firms can do as much as they can and spend as much money on marketing as they have, though without the public being interested the bottom will fall out of the sales.” As soon as a new toy hits the market, manufacturers are tasked with meeting stock demands and distribution costs that undoubtedly contribute to the downfall of many fads. But will this be the case for the latest craze storming the market? “Despite different fidget toys being released at a very fast rate, we still predict an end to large fidget sales by close of school

VICKY BROWN Just Williams Toys

"Crazes will always be short lived despite what toy companies do, as there is always another product around the corner ready to take its place."

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 that Toy Shop UK can help you increase your online presence and complement your other marketing activities this year. Contact: Michael Hawkins michael@toyshopuk.co.uk 07786 295756 for more information. www.toyshopuk.co.uk follow us @toyshopuk

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BRAND NEW COLLECTIBLE

LAUNCHING Q3 2017

FSDU, TV SUPPORT, INFLUENCER CAMPAIGN, DIGITAL MARKETING AND KIDS PRESS CAMPAIGN MARKETING FOR LAUNCH

DANIEL SMITH 07793 121778 DANIEL@THEWORLDEEZ.COM

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7/21/17 13:34


Campaign of the month

BEN 10

GP Flair’s highly anticipated Ben 10 master toy collection hits shelves this month and with it, the company is unleashing a heavyweight marketing campaign to ensure its success at retail

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ince rocketing onto screens in 2005, Ben 10 has fast become one of the most beloved boys' entertainment franchises around, inspiring the imaginations of youngsters far and wide with his many exciting intergalactic adventures. Now, GP Flair is bringing the young adventurer back to shelves with a hotly anticipated master toy collection, and an impressively far-reaching marketing campaign to back it up.

The collection of action figures will be leading the way in our TVCs. Anne-Marie Noon, GP Flair “It’s TV all season with both 30 and 20 second commercials being shown on key children’s channels”, explained Flair’s boys marketing manager, Anne-Marie Noon. “Ben 10's Omnitrix watch was once one of the most sought after toys in the market and our TV strategy will ensure it once again reaches those heights. "The Deluxe Omnitrix and other roleplay items, plus the wide collection of action figures, will be leading the way in our TVCs and deliver over 2,000 TVRs from now until Christmas”. After just two weeks, indications are that sales are strong, due in no small part to this marketing activity. Added to this, is a heightened retail presence with FSDUs and standees as all part of the package.

A ‘Snap&Share’ call to action will encourage uploads of fans in their best Ben 10 pose, all adding to the interactive fun. Later this month a highly engaging Ben 10 tour will also be visiting retailer locations in the UK. The kids' press and in particular boys' magazines will be another key touch point, with two rounds of full page advertorials plus plenty of kids' competitions, while parents are not forgotten with blog reviews and a twitter campaign adding to the noise.

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A WORLD OF PURE IMAGINATION The girl's market has shown remarkable growth over the past few years, due in no small part to the increased focus on bringing more types of toys than ever into the fray. Here, Jack Ridsdale runs down the firms set to make a big impact on the girls' market in the coming months

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nclusivity is the name of the game nowadays. Gone are the days when girls toys would be exclusively pink and cuddly, as toy firms around the world are realising that the girls market can be just as diverse and exciting as the products aimed at boys. As the world becomes more progressive, the stereotypes that once governed the divide between girls and boys products are fading and this is being noticed by retailers across the country. “The line between girls and boys toys has definitely blurred,” commented Charlotte Crose of Jolly’s Toys. “Girls are increasingly becoming more interested in the stuff that would traditionally be for the boys. While we do have girls and boys sections we try and keep them all mixed in so as girls get older they can transition into stuff with space, dinosaurs, science and more.”

But this doesn’t mean to say that traditional girls toys have any less value. On the contrary, the demand for more exciting, loveable and engaging products has challenged toy firms to present products that can justify their existence in a post-gender roles world.

Our daughter has a phenomenal imagination and can create the most wondrous story lines with whatever is to hand Helen Gourley, Toy Hub

Growing with the health of the overall toy market, the Girls sector has shown strong results. According to NPD, the girls market was worth £1.5 billion in 2016. The sector has also displayed strong growth

over the past five years, with a CAGR up 3.6 per cent. "The largest category purchased for girls is dolls which takes £1 out of £4 spent," discloses Frederique Tutt from NPD. "In comparison, Arts & Crafts is a much smaller segment with £1 out of £9 spent in 2016." Conversely, Helen Gourley of Toy Hub proposed a focus on girl’s imagination vs the more logical processes of young boys. “I think that for years there has been a bit of an imbalance with the way toys are made and marketed,” explained Gourley. “However I think that also there does tend to be some differences in how boys and girls play. I noticed how my son was interested in taking things apart and seeing how they worked, whereas our daughter has a phenomenal imagination and can create the most wondrous story lines with whatever is to hand."

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ON E

! ES RI

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Y, TWO STO TO

7/18/17 10:45


Product Guide

Spin Master Sara Taylor - CourtneyT@spinmaster.com

SARA TAYLOR Head of sales Location: Bourne End

Spin Master is making massive waves in the girls' space with a wide array of innovative new products. Sewing has never been so cool with the new look and improved Cool Maker Sew N’ Style Machine. This fantastic new Sewing Studio comes complete with seven projects allowing kids to create beautiful new designs with all new fabrics. Elsewhere the firm is proud to present its new Zhu Zhus product in the form of the Hamster House playset. The playset comes with an exclusive hamster who loves to be inside the tube house, using the tunnel and slide. Watch as it runs up the Hamster House tunnel, then scurries down the spiral slide. Accessorise this cute playset with core hamster assortment which features these cute, cuddly Hamsters come with expressive, embroidered eyes and a distinct tuft of hair – you’ll always be able to spot them.

VTech Suzie Mills - 01235 546838

Featured product

Zhu Zhus Hamster House Cost: £29.99

SUZIE MILLS Senior brand manager Location: Abingdon

VTech is on trend this autumn season with some fun items that are sure to delight girls of any age. Snap a selfie like never before with the Kidizoom Selfie Cam. This fun product comes complete with a rotating lens, which you can twist 180 degrees to take great photos and videos, or use the included selfie stick to capture every moment perfectly. There are loads of fun features including a music slideshow, or use the fantasy effects for your snaps to add different back grounds, cool frames or different collages with your friends. Use the make-up studio to create different hair styles or add different accessories such as hats, glasses or jewellery to your pictures or play one of the fun built in games. You can also connect Kidizoom Selfie Cam to your computer via the Micro USB port to recharge the built-in battery and to share photos with all your family and friends. Set to be supported by an extensive marketing campaign with TV advertising, the Kidizoom Selfie Cam is sure to make a big impact at retail. Featured product

Kidizoom Selfie Cam Cost: £49.99

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Product Guide

Hape 0845 6000 286

Location: Mücke, Germany

As the latest edition to Hape’s ever so tasty Playfully Delicious range, the Delicious Memories Wood Play Kitchen is sure to be an instant hit in the playroom, allowing the youngest of little chefs to whip up something fabulous in the kitchen. This rather realistic looking kitchen comes in white and red, featuring all the mod-cons including a sink, oven, microwave, hob, coffee maker and dishwasher, along with a number of wooden accessories. There is a lot of fun to be had with this play kitchen. And with plenty of workspace and storage to get experimenting there is nothing to stop them. This type of play is perfect for encouraging interaction with peers, teaching them lessons in sharing and working alongside others. Watch as you see the development of your littles one’s fine motor skills thrive, sparking imagination of what new and exciting culinary creations they can come up with.

Click Distribution

Featured product

Delicious Memories Wood Play Kitchen

Gemma@clickdistribution.co.uk 01604 438 140

Manufacturer: Hape Cost: £229.99

Young girls can now feel like their favourite characters from the summer’s biggest children’s entertainment properties with Click’s new range of licensed hair and fashion accessories hitting the market this month. Youngsters can look forward to items inspired by Universal’s Despicable Me 3 and Trolls, as well as Nickelodeon’s pre-school properties PAW Patrol and Shimmer & Shine. Despicable Me 3 has had an extremely successful first month at the box office following its release at the end of June. The Trolls franchise is set to be boosted by a holiday special at the end of the year and a brand-new TV series in 2018, boasting a whole new range of exciting content. The PAW Patrol brand looks set to go from strength to strength with new episodes scheduled throughout 2018. Along with PAW Patrol, Shimmer & Shine dives into its third season this September, introducing new characters and implementing significant marketing campaigns across the country.

GEMMA WADDINGTON Head of independent sales Location: Northampton

Featured product

Shimmer & Shine 3D Keychains Manufacturer: Click Distribution Cost: £3.99 42 | toy news |August 2017

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Product Guide

Wowwee 07710 988 318 - dsugrue@jazwares.com

DAN SUGRUE UK sales director Location: Islington, London

Consumers continue to go bananas for the adorable Fingerlings animated robotic monkeys (£14.99), distributed by Jazwares. Supported at launch with a TV campaign, instore demonstrations, social media and PR, all creating a whirlwind of demand, has resulted in Fingerlings monkeys flying off the shelves. The Fingerlings also starred with YouTube star Tiana on her Toys and Me channel this summer. Watch out for more Fingerlings animals and creatures to be launched soon. WowWee’s Fingerlings product range will further expand in Autumn to include fun playsets. The fun never stops with the Fingerlings Monkeys Bar and Swing Playset which includes one Fingerlings Monkey (£24.99). Turn the crank on the Fingerlings See Saw Play Set (£39.99) to give two included Fingerlings lots of thrilling rides, while the Fingerlings Jungle Gym (£19.99) will keep the included Fingerlings fit as a fiddle. Featured product

Fingerlings Monkey Bar and Swing Manufacturer: Wowwee Cost: £24.99

Le Toy Van 020 8979 2036

Location: Surrey

Le Toy Van is proud to introduce its biggest doll's house - a grand 92cm high four-storey dolls house with floral motif. Each room is decorated differently to define room space and boasts numerous window styles including functioning shutters and back windows to allow light to shine through. It also includes chimney stacks and staircases with banisters that function as room dividers. Dolls and furniture sold separatelychoose from the extensive collection of Le Toy Van doll's house furniture sets, scaled to Le Toy Van Daisylane Doll's house Collection. This new product comes approved by the Good Toy Guide Experts. Featured product

Cherry Tree Hall Dolls House Cost: £179.99

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NEW

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Includes 3 Built-in Games to Play!

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For more details please contact 01235 555545 trade_sales@vtech.com

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Product Guide

Funrise Location: Milton Keynes

01908 555640 As autumn approaches, Funrise is launching two new toy brands for girls to enjoy. As the master toy partner of the Netflix show, Luna Petunia, Funrise is launching a broad toyline that brings the world of Luna Petunia to life as she embarks on adventures with her fantastical friends in the weird and wonderful land of Amazia. The second exciting range Funrise will be introducing is the Positively Perfect doll collection - a range of totally unique and inspirational 18 inch dolls where “Standing out is totally in.” Each doll in the line reflects the unique personalities and real characteristics of girls and encourages them to be proud of who they are, while daring to stand out. The Positively Perfect dolls are supported with a range of fashions and accessory packs so girls can customise their doll to be even more fun and unique.

Flair 0208 643 0320 Location: Sutton

Featured product

Luna Deluxe Manor

Flair’s girls' portfolio continues to lead the way with a diverse offering of properties including original creations and hot licenses. Gearing up for launch on July 22nd, season eight of Shopkins is sure to make a big impact with two, five and 12 packs that connect together to create an awesome city skyline. Elsewhere, the brand is branching out into vehicles with the Shopkins cutie cars collection featuring 37 all-new car designs to collect and enjoy. Rainbow Friends Glimmies, launching in August, have additional magical features; now not only lighting up in the dark but if you place two Rainbow Friends together they will interact with each other by changing colour. Later, this October Flair will be launching its Disney Happy Places range with playsets based on Beauty & the Beast, Cinderella and Minnie Mouse. Finally, for the young ladies with an eye for style comes the Barbie Dreamtopia Rainbow Styling head which has all of the colours of the rainbow shaded through her long locks. Alternatively, the Barbie Deluxe Colour Specialist Styling Head offers endless makeover possibilities. Featured product

Shopkins French Sweetie Collection 46 | toy news | August 2017

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Product Guide

Worldeez 07793 121778 - Daniel@theworldeez.com

DANIEL SMITH Sales Location: UK

Brand new for 2017, comes a unique blindboxed collectables line, Worldeez. This exciting new concept is sure to get all youngsters eager to explore the world with its cute designs and addictive collectability. Season one will feature eight countries from around the world with 120 different characters to collect including limited edition Worldeez Wows! and 120 fact cards from Brazil, Egypt, France, India, Italy, Japan, UK and USA. There is a wealth of information that a child can take from the toy and plenty of playground swap opportunities too. Launching from July 1st, the new range will be backed by an extensive marketing and PR campaign including support from TV, digital, bespoke stop frame animation, a custom website, social media, innovative retail POS, cinema, children’s press and a mummy blogger campaign. In addition, Worldeez has already been endorsed by immensely popular YouTube sensation Toys AndMe.

Mattel 01628 500 000

Featured product

Worldeez Season One 10 Pack

Location: Maidenhead

Looking ahead, Mattel is planning big things for the Barbie brand, bringing a wide range of all new ideas to this long-standing franchise. Kicking things off is the Barbie Dreamhorse, an interactive pet companion who can communicate with Barbie for the first time. Budding fashion queens will love the Barbie Fashionistas range, new for AW17, while the world of Barbie Dreamtopia will transport imaginative girls to a new world of wonder. Elsewhere, new animated film Barbie Dolphin magic will be supported with a range of underwater-themed toys including the Magic Snorkel Fun Friends Doll. It’s not all about Barbie though as Enchantimals launches around the world with a robust marketing plan including content, TV, PR and in-store retail support. Meanwhile, DC Super Hero Girls will see new faces, stories and adventures with new character Starfire.

Featured product

Barbie Dolphin Magic Snorkel Fun Friends Doll Manufacturer: Mattel

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Product Guide

John Adams 01480 414 361

ROSEMARY HUGHES Territory sales manager Location: Huntingdon

John Adams is back with its much-loved Girl’s World Styling Head getting a makeover with a fresh new look for 2017. Youngsters can use the product to create their own individual hair styles by adding colourful extensions, clips and creating plaits. The Girl’s World signature growing hair head now also boasts a vibrant pink colour and comes in a handy carry case so the little ones can style until their hearts content, even while on the move. Meanwhile, Tiny Tears - the crying and wetting doll, is still proving she’s the perfect friend for little mummies and daddies. With Classic, Interactive, Best Friends and Teeny Tiny Tears dolls in the range, there’s a Tiny Tears for every little girl to love and look after. Heavyweight TV advertising campaign and PR activity will support both of these lines. Featured product

Girl’s World Styling Head Manufacturer: John Adams

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Product Guide

Juratoys 020 8878 2133 michelle.probert@juratoys.co.uk

MICHELLE PROBERT Location: Richmond

Juratoys is bringing a traditional angle to the girls' market with a lavish array of dolls' houses that boast assorted furniture. With these three-floor dolls' houses, children can create their own world and come up with their own stories. The brand’s flagship product, the Janod Mademoiselle Dolls' House comes complete with practical magnetic doors and a roof that can also be opened for better access to different rooms. The easy-assembly house is compatible with figures up to approximately 15cm tall. Furniture includes 11 accessories for decorating a house including a wardrobe with opening doors, a bed with covers, dressing table, bathtub, sofa, lamp, table, two chairs and a kitchen.

Character Options

Featured product

Janod Mademoiselle Dolls' House

0161 633 9800

Manufacturer: Juratoys

Character Options is once again looking to spoil retailers with choice thanks to its range of girls' products, including launches from a much-loved Moose property, as well as several creative and collectable lines. Launching this month is a line of Little Live Bizzy Bubs dolls. Heading up the range is the Walking and Crawling Babies. Poppy and Primmy will crawl around just like real babies, while Polly Petals and Snowbeam are one step ahead and will toddle around. Following the overwhelming success of the Little Live Pets My Dream Puppy in autumn 2016, Character is launching a second hero pet within the line. For the creatively inclined, look out for the Cutie Stix Cut and Create station, which can cut, core and create 24 patterned Stix that are included in an assortment of three sizes. Not to be left out is Shimmer and Sparkle, which is back with not one, but two creative sets for girls to covet. Finally, Character is adding to its Fash’ems DC Super Hero Girls with Wonder Woman, Bat Girl, Bumblebee, Katana, Harley Quinn and Super Girl.

Location: New Maiden

Featured product

Cutie Stix Cut & Create Station Manufacturer: Character Options

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GIRLS | PLUSH | MUSIC

PLUSHING

THE BOUNDARIES Cuddly toys have always held a special place in the hearts of children and now, cute mascot characters are more popular than ever. Jack Ridsdale takes a look at some of the firms bringing these heart-warming characters to youngsters everywhere

Moose Toys info@moosetoys.com Location: Melbourne

The new collectable brand from gloal toy manufacturer Moose Toys is finally here – Pikmi Pops. With 45 to collect including three jumbo size pops, little ones can enjoy smelling these cuddly toys. The new plushies smell as sweet as they look with 12 scents to choose from including such sweet fragrances as peppermint, bubble-gum, banana, watermelon and raspberry.

The Pikmi Pops come ready-to-wear so that kids can hang their favourite character on their school bags, handbags, notebooks, pencil cases and more. The Pikmi Pops are sure to please, celebrating every kids' love for all things soft and cute. There are so many surprises to find – lanyards, miniature charms, sticker sheets and funny surprise message cards. Featured product

Pikmi Pops Manufacturer: Moose Toys

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Product Guide

Hasbro 01633 278 770

Location: Gwent

2017 has seen the launch of Hanazuki, Hasbro’s first ever animated digital series available on YouTube, which has led to the release of new plushies. The Hemka are goofy sidekicks to the moonflower, Hanazuki, that join her throughout thrilling adventures. Each Hemka plush represents a particular mood, expressed by their colour and face. Elsewhere, the Little Dreamer plush figure comes in a variety of hoodie pyjamas for different days of the week, from multicoloured treasure-pattern hoodie pyjamas to a purple hoodie. Both the Hemka and Little Dreamer plush figures come with codes located on the back that can be scanned using a smart device, to unlock more fun in the Hanazuki app. Finally, Hasbro is bringing a new line of My Little Pony plush to the market in time for the movie. Each pony has her own characteristics and represents an Element of Harmony, including kindness, honesty, loyalty and laughter. Plus, the plush toys come with a tactile long mane and tail. Featured product

My Little Pony Plush Manufacturer: Hasbro

Posh Paws 01268 567 317 Location: Basildon

With Posh Paws' newest range, youngsters can take a trip to the Hundred Acre Wood to cuddle up with Disney’s beloved favourites, including Piglet, Tigger and Eeyore with Winnie the Pooh and pals. Winnie the Pooh continues to grow its fan base with the brand's values that promote friendship, fun and imagination at its core. Posh Paws has a variety of different styles and sizes to suit both ages and pockets, as well as offering retailers unique opportunities on the UK brand. Disney continues to deliver ongoing content to parents and infants across a multitude of platforms from blogger's websites, social media and regular animated shorts on YouTube and Disney Junior, which ensure that these characters remain front of mind for families. “Winnie the Pooh and friends have that real British heritage,” enthuses Lauren Shipman, group brand manager at Posh Paws. “Last year the loveable bear celebrated its 90th birthday and this year we’re continuing to see the brand grow, particularly in the gifting, infant and early childhood markets.” Featured product

Winnie the Pooh Soft Toys Manufacturer: Posh Paws

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Product Guide

Gund Location: Carlisle

uksales@enesco.co.uk Famous for creating huggable soft animals, Enesco’s soft toy company, Gund, has unveiled further additions to its plush ranges. Launching this summer is Twisty Tongue Twister Giraffe. A cute and cuddly creature, the giraffe stands at 33cm tall and displays its animal print spots in warm browns and yellows, set on a super soft fabric. A quirky character for all ages, Twisty Tongue Twister Giraffe is more than just a cuddle-companion, as it will play popular tongue twisters for children to learn and help develop their speech. You can also find the ideal gift for young children and babies with Gund’s newly launched Jungle Friends collection. The Jungle Friends range includes elephants, monkeys and more, which kids are sure to adore. Each animal has a friendly face and boasts a muted-tone colour palette, while being soft and gentle to touch.

Featured product

Tongue Twister Giraffe Manufacturer: Gund Cost: £35.00

Rainbow Location: Gosport, Hampshire

01329 227 300 Rainbow Designs, the home of classic characters, has a host of new feature plush toys in its collection this year. Parents are sure to feel nostalgia when they see their kids playing with the new Elmer Nursery Collection, which stars the little patchwork elephant from David Mckee’s timeless storybook. The collection includes a brightly coloured feature plush Trumpeting Elmer toy. The soft 21cm elephant, with his distinctive long trunk and big ears, trumpets when kids press his trunk. The Activity Thomas Toy from the My First Thomas & Friends line features multiple textures, a peek-a-boo mirror and shaped teether, as well as phrases that include ‘Peep Peep’ and ‘I’m the number one blue engine’. Little ones also love playing peek-a-boo with Big Nutbrown Hare from the classic story; Guess How Much I Love You. This entertaining feature plush giggles away as he peeks out from behind his paws. Not to be missed are the other items in Rainbow’s feature plush collection, including Peppa Pig and George Pig Activity Toys from the Peppa Big for Baby range, along with a new Paddington for Baby Activity plush that will be available this autumn. Featured product

Trumpeting Elmer Manufacturer: Rainbow Designs

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Find your Mood Power with the new Hanazuki product ranges More about Hanazuki at Hanazuki.com. For sales and enquiries call: 020 8744 5777

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Product Guide

GP Flair 0208 643 0320 Location: Surrey

From a swinging feature plush superhero and collectable pets through to emoji characters, GP Flair and Just Play have the perfect cuddly treats for children this autumn/winter. The new Swing & Sling Spider-Man is a 15inch feature plush that mimics the superhero’s signature web shooting motion. When kids press the 'on' switch, Spider-Man awakes into action and lifts his arms to prepare to swing. Elsewhere, Go Puppy Go is the new line-up of plush puppies, which walk just as fast as their owners with no batteries required. Meanwhile, the latest items to the Peppy Pets range are a French Bulldog and a Unicorn, in addition to the Puppy Surprise range, which is still going strong with Puppy, Kitty and Jungle pets to choose from. Finally, kids can express themselves with The Emoji Movie Bean Plush. Featured product

Marvel Swing & Sling Spider-Man Manufacturer: GP Flair Cost: £49.99

Spin Master 01628 535 000 Location: Bourne End

Well into 2017, PAW Patrol still remains one of the single most sought-after licences in the toy space, and this year the Patrol is on a roll with Ryder and his team of pups ready to save the day. Whenever there’s trouble, just yelp for help and Chase, Marshall, Rubble, Zuma, Rocky and Skye will be ready for action no matter what comes their way. New for the second half of 2017 is the Sea Patrol theme and adventures that are carried through Spin Master’s extensive PAW Patrol toy line. Kids can bring home their favourite PAW Patrol pup, Chase, Marshall, Rubble or Sky in a soft, cuddly feature plush. The Snuggle Up Pups are the perfect naptime companion with a light-up belly that acts as a nightlight. Squeeze their belly and they'll send PAW Patrol fans to sleep with sweet lullabies and PAW Patrol sounds. Perfect for bedtime and playtime, the Snuggle Up Pups are a little one's new best friend. From runaway trains to stranded whales, PAW Patrol will rush to the rescue with wagging tails. Each eight-inch plush Pup Pal is made from premium plush materials featuring bright and vibrant colours. Featured product

Paw Patrol Snuggle Up Pups Manufacturer: Spin Master Cost: £19.99

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Product Guide

Re:creation 01189 736 222 Location: Camberley

Feisty Pets have already created a stir on social media after recently hitting UK shores. These innocent looking cuddly animal friends turn a little more sinister – with one squeeze their darker side is revealed complete with snarly teeth. The TV advertised Mimic Mees Talk Back Zoo are set to make a big impact on shelves this year with four puppet-style plushies that feature extending necks. Each comes with voice-repetition technology enabling them to play back everything their owner says to them in their own unique cadence. The Stretchkins collection welcomes a new addition as Ballet Bunny joins the stretchy limbed crew. Like fellow Stretchkins, Ballet Bunny features the signature stretchy arms and legs with loops to attach to children’s own hands and feet. Lastly, Bright Light Pillow and Emojis Necknapperz continue to be a focus throughout 2017. Featured product

The Puppet Company

Mimic Me Talk Back Zoo Bird Manufacturer: Re:creation Cost: £24.99

01462 446 040 Location: Hitchin, Herts

Wilberry is gearing up for Autumn Fair, where the division of The Puppet Company will be exhibiting over 100 new designs representing almost 18 months of design and development. Some Wilberrys are designed to be naturalistic while others are to be bright, quirky and colourful. However, each one is fun and full of character, with products coming direct from some of the world’s most talented soft toy-designers. What makes a Wilberry stand out is the design and manufacturing process. Plus, the other major consideration is the RRPs, which start at £7.50 for the ‘Patches’ Collection up to a maximum of £12.50. So a collection that gives profits at a cost price starting at £3.10 has to be considered for any quality gift/toy shop or garden centre. The collection has new designs and ranges added every six months. The firm can also design to any retailers' requirements, so visit Wilberry online to view the complete collection. Featured product

Wilberry Bunny Manufacturer: The Puppet Company 58 | toy news | August 2017

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GIFT GIVING…all wrapped up Enesco Limited, Head Office & Customer Services, Brunthill Road, Kingstown, Carlisle, Cumbria, CA3 0EN.Tel: 01228 404022 email: trade@enesco.co.uk Overseas Customer Services: Tel: +44 1228 404066 email: eurosales@enesco.co.uk © 2017 Enesco Ltd. © Frederick Warne & Co., 2017. Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity. Registered charity no. 1160024

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12/07/2017 15:24 © P&Co Ltd./SC 2017

hits the big screen on November 10th. See our feature plush toys on the small screen near you!

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Music to their ears Packed with educational songs that reinforce the learning

Introducing nine NEW musical infant, toddler and pre-school lines, AVAILABLE NOW! Order now 01235 555545 trade_sales@vtech.com For more details please contact 01235 555545 trade_sales@vtech.com

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17/07/2017 10:10:48 14-07-2017 12:31:12 PM 7/18/17 10:40


GIRLS | PLUSH | MUSIC

MUSIC MAKER

Musical toys not only help to boost kids’ confidence and develop motor skills, they also get children grooving. Jade Burke checks out the raft of items now available that are set to bring music to retailers’ ears

Flair Contact: 0208 643 0320 Location: Surrey

One of the newest brands to join Flair's Just Play portfolio is Jo Jo Siwa. With the range of dolls, role-play and plush, girls can now become just like their favourite singer. The Jo Jo Siwa Singing Doll looks and sounds just like the real life YouTube sensation. Plus, the ten-inch doll sings the hit Boomerang song and comes with a light and sound microphone for fans to join in karaoke-style. Also new for AW17 is the Jo Jo Siwa Microphone, which is ideal for girls who want to sing their hearts out to their favourite songs. The microphone has three modes, for example mode one plays the Boomerang song, while mode two lets girls sing along to the music. Lastly, mode three lets fans connect the mic to their mp3 player and play their own musical songs. Featured product

Jo Jo Siwa Singing Doll Manufacturer: GP Flair

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Product Guide

Mattel Contact: 01628 500 000

Location: Maidenhead

Fisher-Price is continuing to bolster its musical toy offering, with new additions to its BeatBo range. The collection has extended with the introduction of Bright Beats Juniors, which feature a colour changing LED belly and a wobbly head that activates fun content. The free-wheeling BeatBo Buggies are also available, which boast a character and music that help to develop gross motor skills. These new items join Bright Beats Dance & Move BeatBo, which helps to introduce little ones to letters, colours, numbers and sounds, as well as Bright Beats Dance & Move BeatBelle, BeatBo’s sister. Also added to the line-up is the Dance & Move BeatBowWow, the four-legged friend of BeatBo that features a light-up tummy and interactive modes that include songs and dance moves. Lastly, Franky Beats Bat & Boogie allows children to interact with learning content.

Character Options Contact: 0161 633 9800

Featured product

BeatBo Buggies Manufacturer: Fisher-Price

Location: Oldham

The toy firm is bolstering its musical toys arsenal with the addition of two new launches in the form of SoundMoovz and the Rocket Wireless Singing Machine. SoundMoovz is an instrumental gadget worn on users' hands and ankles, allowing budding dancers to create their own music, rhythm, beats and more. Multiplayer mode is also available, letting users interact with each other using one device. The accompanying app boasts over 400 unique sounds, which can be programmed to each gadget. Next up is the Rocket Wireless Singing Machine, a portable wireless mic and speaker that lets kids sing wherever they are. Using Bluetooth connectivity, the mic amplifies the user’s voice and plays the music through the built in speaker. Plus, Character’s Singing Machine can also connect to Apple Siri meaning kids can ask it questions from up to ten meters away. Available in two colourways, the Rocket Singing Machine features an LED light-up base and a modern packaging design. Featured product

Rocket Wireless Singing Machine Manufacturer: Character Options

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Product Guide

VTech 01235 546 838

SUZIE MILLS Senior brand manager Location: Abingdon, Oxfordshire

The toy firm’s Kidi Super Star has gone on to become one of VTech’s bestselling products, which can plug into any external player to let users sing along to their favourite tracks. By using music magic mode, the main vocals of a song are muted or removed so that users become the lead vocalist, plus Kidi Super Star can even change the sound of a users voice with its built-in microphone effects. Kids can also have fun with the interactive features, choosing different lighting styles, mastering tongue twisters and playing rhythmic games. Available in a black version, Kidi Super Star will be supported with a heavyweight TV campaign starting in the summer holidays and running throughout the peak season. Elsewhere, music fans can create musical slideshows using the Kidizoom Selfie Cam. It comes complete with a rotating lens, which kids can twist 180-degrees to take photos and videos, or use the included selfie stick.

Usborne Publishing Contact: 020 7430 2800

Featured product

Kidi Super Star Manufacturer: VTech Location: Saffron Hill, London

Usborne is bolstering its portfolio with a number of musical books for kids of all ages. My First Drumming Book, slated for release in October 2017, allows children to discover the fun of playing drums by pressing buttons to create five different drum sounds, while playing along with a selection of tunes. Meanwhile, My First Xylophone Book, which comes with a real xylophone attached to the front, will teach little ones everything they need to know about playing a Xylophone. Usborne also publishes a range of keyboard books, including Big Keyboard Book, My First Keyboard Book and My First Christmas Keyboard Book, which are all out now. Each of these books comes with a touch-sensitive keyboard, providing the perfect introduction to playing the piano. Featured product

My First Drumming Book Manufacturer: Usborne Publishing

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Appointments

Industry moves July has seen a swathe of changes across some of the most influential firms in toys as Mattel’s CFO steps down and Alpha bolsters its team with a slew of new hires Playmobil

Alpha Animation & Toys

The toy maker has boosted its UK sales operations with the appointment of SIMON BURTON as its new field sales manager. Burton will be responsible for the territories of Scotland and the North of England, with a key focus on driving Playmobil’s educational accounts, as well as managing the independent sales team. Sales manager, ALF BLOHM, has welcomed Burton to the role.

LISA COX (pictured) joins the firm as senior account manager, boasting 14 years of experience in account management in a number of different industries. Meanwhile, KIRSTY GRAY steps into the role of senior account manager, who has 20 years experience managing some of the largest retailers in the domestic and international markets. The firm also gained a new marketing manager in April in the form of KERRY TARRANT. Elsewhere, experienced toy industry professional ANDREW MCCORMICK joins the Ireland operation in early August.

Mattel Funrise KEVIN FARR, Chief Financial Officer at international toy firm Mattel has confirmed he is to step down after 17 years at the company. Farr joined Mattel in 1992 and has made his mark on several different areas of the operation, having worked as SVP, corporate controller and senior director of tax before taking up the mantle of CFO in 2000. His departure follows chief executive MARGO GEORGIADIS’ recent appointment, who joined Mattel earlier this year to help boost the business after several declining sales quarters. Farr will continue to serve his role as CFO until a successor has transitioned into the role.

ANNIE SULLIVAN has joined Funrise as the firm’s new EMEA export director. She will now oversee all of the company’s EMEA export business as it continues its international growth strategy. With 25 years of experience behind her, Sullivan has previously worked at Storm Associates, where she led the expansion of sales reach in international markets, she boasts extensive knowledge of EMEA retail and distribution. SVP of international at Funrise, MARTIN GOOD has detailed the company's delight at welcoming Sullivan to the role, praising her for her relation-forming abilities with manufacturers and suppliers across the regional market.

Thames & Kosmos The board game firm has named its new key account manager in the form of BETHAN DAVIES. Davies boasts a wealth of experience at Hush Heath winery, where she managed exhibitions and key accounts for the likes of Waitrose, alongside their retail offering. Davies will kick-off her role by assisting with the firm’s debut at the Harrogate Home & Gift Show this year. JOANNA DRAGE, sales director at Thames & Kosmos has welcomed Davies to her new role in the industry.

Whether you’re looking for your first job or next career move, we’ve got the experience and industry know-how to find the perfect role for you.

We’re looking for a...... Regional Sales Man ager If you’ve got 5+ years of international sales or business development experience in toys or trading cards, let’s talk.

Chris@aswift.com

01709 834777

£75,000 - £85,000

UK / Germany

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Team of the month

ALPHA ANIMATION & TOYS With a team of just five, a day in the office for Alpha is nothing short of busy. Since opening its UK office in January, Kerry Tarrant, marketing manager, and the rest of the team have enjoyed a robust few months. Here, she delves into the goings on of the UK office

Who's in the team?

There are currently five of us at Alpha Animation, including Mark, Lisa, Lauren, Kirsty and I. Lauren was the first to join Mark back in January when he opened the UK office in Gatwick, followed by Lisa in March, myself in May and Kirsty most recently in June. We are growing fast so we won’t be a team of five for very long.

What have been your biggest successes of the last 12 months? Mark has done a phenomenal job of launching Alpha UK in such a short space of time and through that we have achieved great support for our AW17 launches with key retail partners – more than we initially could have hoped for in some cases. This is a result of the great product Alpha has to offer and the marketing initiatives we have in place to ensure the success of our brands at retail.

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?

Starting up a brand new business comes with a host of challenges, all of which can be overcome. The biggest challenge is not having enough hours in the day. As a small team it is all hands on deck to ensure that everything is running smoothly.

What are you working on at the moment in the industry? We are currently half way through SS18 previews and we have some exciting new brands coming through for next year, which have had a great reaction from the trade. The second half of the year is already looking extremely busy as we work our way towards AW18 previews. The diary is already full with key meetings booked in for when we visit LA in September and Hong Kong in October.

What’s your favourite part of working in the toy industry? Who wouldn’t want to work with children’s toys? It is extremely fun and rewarding

and the industry is ever changing with new trends coming through, which means no year is ever the same.

What's the hardest part of working in the toy industry? Predicting the trends that I mentioned and what is going to be the next big thing.

What are you looking forward to for the rest of the year? Seeing where Alpha will be in the next six months; it is such an exciting time for the company. To be involved from the start was one of the things that appealed to me about the role, as there is great potential for Alpha in the toy industry – the future is looking very bright indeed.

Who makes the best cuppa? We are mostly coffee fans in the office and often there is a mass exit when the coffee van arrives. Mark does like a certain colour tone to his tea though – of course I am going to say he prefers mine the most.

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Anonymous

A MOOVZ BOUCHE Last month, Character Options treated the industry to a delicious little taster of its new SoundMoovz line. The stars turned out in their droves, and somehow, we got in…

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aving recently shared a lift with Sinitta, I know what it’s like to rub shoulders with the upper echelons of celebrity. The trick is to remember that they are humans, like you and I, driven by the same wants and needs. Sinita, for instance, wanted my fun size Mars Bar and needed to tell me about it. I, on the other hand, wanted the four-floor elevator journey to last for eternity, yet I needed the toilet. I think I kept my cool though. It was only 15 minutes earlier that I was stood at the bar with Nikki Graeme and Imogen Thomas (you know, from that reality TV show…) ordering a gin and tonic and gormlessly handing over £19 for it. But it’s the view you pay for. And this view was a treat. It was, before you leap to conclusions, the sight of the Character Options team done up in their edgiest street wear – consisting of a ‘lid’ (baseball cap), skinny jeans and some fresh trainers – for the official launch party of its new SoundMoovz held at London’s prestigious OXO Tower.

H

For me, it was an evening of singing and dancing – all of which was gratefully ignored by the industry who was too busy watching the professionals on stage – as the media, reality TV stars, musicians, dancers and that one who played the Wildling in Game of Thrones, came together to celebrate the exciting new launch of the new music-making wearable tech toy. PR people buzzed like flies around the event space, VIPs entered hilariously passive-aggressive battles to out-celebrity one another and the trade magazines circled the canapés and free drinks. The event found a real equilibrium. The product launch itself was an exciting affair and SoundMoovz is no doubt in for big business towards the end of this year and the beginning of next, having already delighted shoppers at London's Westfield shopping centre. Personally, I would love the opportunity to slip one of these music-making wristbands on to showcase some unique moves, but not content with my miniature Mars Bar, Sinitta ran off with this, too.

Audited circulation Average Net Circulation: 5,419. July 2015-June 2016. The industry's highest circulation trade title.

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Toy News August 2017  

This issue ToyNews takes a look at the evolving children’s marketing space. Is digital ready to over take TV as the leading platform for chi...

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