No. 164 l August 2015
Retail l Licensing l Pre-School l Marketing 14 Women of the Year As the dust settles on this year’s event, we review our celebration of females in the industry
17 Play it again, Sam We speak to Sambro’s Nikki Samuels about why 2015 is shaping up to be the firm’s best year yet
18 Right on track Ravensburger MD Tim Hall reveals why the company is a perfect match for Brio
34 ToyShopUK Debates This month, indies look at whether a store’s brand identity is as important as the product it stocks
That’s life The next generation of toys-to-life products are here. With LEGO Dimensions and Disney’s new Playmation concept joining the latest Skylanders and Disney Infinity titles, ToyNews looks at whether the toy industry will make the category flourish or flatline
You will have heard our work. It’s In over 5000 products. Translation and Localisation in over 40 languages: expand your market Voiceover, Custom Music and Sound Effects: sounds that shine Professional Recording Studios: optimised for toys, apps and web Apps, Software and Electronics: your concepts realised
see what else we do at www.sosound.co.uk or call: +44 (0)20 8661 7979 www.toynews-online.biz SOSO-02270 Strip Advert_AW1.indd
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MEET THE TEAM Sam Loveday Editor email@example.com
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CONTENTS Regulars 06 News 08 NPD Analysis 09 Campaign of the Month 09 Playtime 10 Industry Movers 12 Industry Opinion 66 Jon Salisbury
Features 17 Supplier Profile: Sambro 18 Big Interview: Ravensburger 20 Supplier Profile: Strider Bike 22 The Next Generation of Toysto-Life Licensing.biz 25 News Pre-school (sponsored by VTech Baby) 29 News Retail 33 News 34 Toy Shop UK 37 Indie Profile: Toys N Tech 39 Sector Guide: Autumn Fair 45 Sector Guide: Girls Market 56 Sector Guide: Music Toys 59 Sector Guide: Plush
If I was on The X Factor, this would be about ‘my journey’. But ToyNews has never been just about one person, it’s always about the team (even those times when we didn’t agree).
IT’S HARD writing a farewell column. Really hard. When you’ve been at a company for as long as I have, it will have been such a huge part of your life that it’s difficult to know where to start. The parent company has been through three changes of name for a start. When I joined back in 2000, it was called MCV Media, there was just the one magazine and ‘digital’ meant that we’d all just got our own email addresses rather than sharing a general one between the whole team. The glory years of Intent Media followed, which is when ToyNews came into the fold, and more recently, NewBay Media. If I was on The X Factor, this would be about ‘my journey’. But ToyNews has never been just about one person - it’s always been about the team (even those times where we didn’t agree). You need a strong team to make a successful magazine. You need someone to tell you that feature isn’t going to work. Or that headline is daft. Or that picture doesn’t match the story. During my time on ToyNews, I’ve been part of teams that have spun the popular licensing section out into its own successful brand - Licensing.biz - redesigned and added countless new features to the magazine, reworked the website (which remains the market leader by a long way), added two events to the stable - Women of the Year and the Inventors Workshop - and launched the Inventors Bulletin. And I’ve loved every minute. Being the editor of ToyNews - and Licensing.biz - has been much more than just a job to me. Both brands have been living, breathing things for me, and I feel incredibly fortunate to have played a part in their success. The toy industry is a great place to be, and I’ve met people who I am now lucky enough to call my friends. So, if I have any advice for Billy, Rob and Rhys, it would be this. There will be tricky issues, times when you just want to smack the competition in the face (metaphorically speaking... mostly) and tough deadlines when you feel there aren’t enough hours in the day. But as a team, you’ll hold it all together. And hopefully you’ll love the journey, too. Sloveday@nbmedia.com
Modulus to be biggest UK Nerf launch to date By Billy Langsworthy
MGA to restore Bratz’s iconic status with relaunch
Hasbro is embarking on its biggest ever Nerf launch in the UK. Arriving this autumn, the Nerf Modulus marketing push spans TV, mobile and events, with Hasbro targeting “universal awareness”. “Nerf is now touring the country in a specially designed Nerf Vault, allowing kids early-access to the new blaster a month before the launch,” Kay Green, UK
marketing director at Hasbro, told ToyNews. “We are set to launch an immersive digital advertising campaign, in addition to the cinema and TV advertising spends, that will include standout media pieces set to break frame from the normal toy marketing campaigns that run annually. “Modulus is Hasbro and Nerf’s biggest product launch to date in the UK. We’re breaking the mould.” Hasbro: 020 8569 1234
Firm wants to establish its brand as the alternative fashion doll By Robert Hutchins MGA INSISTS that its new Bratz range will bring the fashion doll market the diversity and edginess it needs, despite the brand’s now tempered look compared to ten years ago. This summer sees the reintroduction of Cloe, Jade, Sasha and Yasmin across 28 countries with a new range of dolls featuring a refreshed look for the children’s market of today. MGA has highlighted its long-term intentions to embed the line back into the industry and offer the girls’ market an alternative
“We have tempered it a bit compared to how it was back in the day. It is less extreme but we are still keeping Bratz real to what Bratz is, and that is stylistic edginess and most importantly, fun. “Ten years ago, what Bratz brought to the market was groundbreaking. Now, with the diversity the brand is known for and looking closely at fashion trends of today, we are looking to do it again.” Hitting shelves this month, the new line-up offers a collection of dolls, play-sets, online webisodes
“Ten years ago, what Bratz brought to the market was groundbreaking. We’re looking to do it again.” Andrew Laughton, MGA
doll designed to ‘empower its target audience,’ while offering new modes of play. “Bratz is an iconic brand and, as such, for this relaunch we have put in a lot of time and effort in order to get it right,” Andrew Laughton, MGA’s UK MD, told ToyNews. “Kids’ culture of today is very different to that ten years ago and we have listened to a lot of people to take into account some of the concerns about the range the first time around. 06 August
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and even a selfie-stick across Bratz Hello My Name Is, Bratz SelfieSnaps, Bratz Fierce Fitness, Bratz Study Abroad and Bratz SnowKissed ranges. With price tags spanning £14.99 for single dolls through to £32.99 for après ski-themed characters, the new launch has already been met with positive reaction from some of the UK’s biggest retailers. Hamleys is backing the return of Bratz by preparing its own window display in
the flagship London store for the brand. “We are looking forward to the relaunch of Bratz,” Hamley’s’ head buyer, Laura Olver, told ToyNews. “We think MGA has done an excellent job to turn it around and make it wholesome, so it is one to be excited about this year.” Meanwhile, Argos is equally as happy to see the return of the brand as the initial Bratz range performed particularly well for the retailer when it first launched over a decade ago. “We are happy to see Bratz coming back,” explained Argos’ toy buyer, Linzi Walker. “Back in the day it was just phenomenal, so we are quite excited to see MGA offer customers something a bit different in the fashion doll arena.” In a concluding statement, MGA’s Laughton thanked all of the retailers that have supported the brand, both at its original launch and now during its recent reintroduction. “I think the retailers have probably done everything possible to make this the success that it should be,” he said. “With brand management done right, we expect to see the Bratz brand enjoy a success for years to come.” MGA: 0845 0533 333
YoYoFactory set to swing into the UK Firm is looking for retail partners and feels it can kick start the next major yo-yo craze By Billy Langsworthy US FIRM YoYoFactory is heading to the UK and is now on the lookout for retailers to partner with. The company has already signed a partnership with ShakeTastic Milkshake & Juice Bars that saw the store host two London-based launch events for the brand. “We are looking for retailers that are willing to grow with us,” Craig Squires, director of YoYoFactory UK, told ToyNews. “Retailers can feel confident that the range is scale-able to meet the complex demands of the consumer and we keep the line fresh with new and fresh products every year.” Both Squires and company founder Hans Van Dan Elzen were involved in
the yo-yo craze of 1998 as professional players, and the firm believes it can reignite the category in the UK. “Nobody can predict a craze perfectly, but YoYoFactory is working day and night to support new players. When the next trend occurs, YoYoFactory will be the strength making that wave.” YoYoFactory: 020 8953 1702
Wow! Stuff set for bumper 2015 and beyond with Real FX Firm feels it’s the perfect time for the product to hit shelves with retailers now savvy to tech toy opportunities
By Billy Langsworthy WOW! STUFF believes it’s in for a great 2015 with the arrival of its AI racing brand Real FX. The twist on slot car racing, marketed and distributed by Vivid, has already cracked Argos’ predicted top sellers list for
Christmas, something Wow! Stuff believes hints at good things to come. “I think you know you have a great opportunity when the number one retailer of toys puts that in writing,” Wow! Stuff CEO Richard North told ToyNews. Paul Kinge, buying manager at Argos, added:
“Real FX has revolutionised the category. It’s not just a better slot car type system, nor is it a video game in real life. It’s the best of slot cars, R/C and video games in one. Real FX has used artificial intelligence to create the hottest boys’ race system we’ve ever seen.” Wow! Stuff has had Real FX in development for seven years, and North believes 2015 is the perfect time for the brand to hit shelves with many major retailers now savvy to the opportunity tech toys present. “There’s no doubt that for some two to three years, tech toys have been coming out in ever bigger numbers. A lot of these have been sold through the major consumer electronics retailers who
have been selling big quantities at high-ticket prices to our ‘toy industry’ age groups of eight to 14. “It reminds me of the e-commerce revolution that had many big established retailers just sticking their heads in the sand and ignoring the consumers and where their money was gravitating toward. And, of course, they did this at their peril. “I think that was happening with tech toys, but I am pleased to say the smart retailers are used to challenges and are fast embracing this as a very big opportunity.” Looking ahead, Wow! Stuff believes that the addons for the product, which will go on beyond 2015,
will prove key in keeping the brand at the forefront of consumers’ minds and a popular item on shelves. “Real FX is a system,” added North. “It is like the best long-term evergreen brands that are systems; think Sylvanian Families, Brio, Scalextric and LEGO. You can add to them to keep the gameplay exciting. “We have appointed various best in territory distributors under license. This will keep product available around the world and marketing, pricing and supply at a very high level. We have really exciting plans that take the existing Real FX product to amazing heights of ingenuity and performance from a digital connectivity that is additive.” Wow! Stuff: 0870 054 6000
Flair parades new puppy line with summer campaign The company is predicting big things from its girls’ collectable Pet Parade line this year as it lines up a new tour with ToyTesters TV, an extensive digital campaign and additional in-store support this season BY Robert Hutchins FLAIR HAS detailed the summer marketing plans for the launch of its new girls’ collectables range, Pet Parade. Believed to be filling a gap on the toy shelves for a new animal-based girls’ collectable range that “offers play value outside of simply collecting,” Pet Parade launches with a full
schedule of TV advertising, digital campaigns and a major summer tour event with ToyTesters TV. “Puppies have always been popular and we see this brand as further confirmation that GP Flair is one of the leading suppliers in the girls’ toy market in the UK,” Kirsty McKenzie, girls marketing manager at Flair, explained to ToyNews.
Pet Parade will also benefit from a dedicated website where kids can log in and join the Pet Parade Club, giving them access to a host of extra activities. “With all of this in place, we see the range of collectable puppies and higher price play-sets as a hit combination of stocking fillers and main gifts this Christmas,” added McKenzie. Flair: 020 643 0320
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Retail Sales Trends
Action figures, Minions and youth electronics enjoy strong June AT THE half way mark, the toy industry is looking set for a strong year despite a slowdown in May and June. June saw a second month of flat sales in value, with unit sales in decline by 30 per cent. The negative unit growth continues to be a result of a strong 2014 with the low priced World Cup Stickers and Loom Band items, which were always likely to be hard to replace. Nevertheless, the industry remains healthy both year-to-date June (up four per cent) and indeed in June itself. Eight out of the eleven NPD supercategories were in growth, four of them by double digits. Action figures had another strong month with 35 per cent growth versus June in 2014. Despicable Me/Minions was the number four property for the month, receiving a boost from the Minions movie released at the end of June. “No doubt the June performance will continue into the summer and we’ll see Minions climb the property charts in coming weeks,” said Jez Fraser-Hook, practice director of NPD Group’s toy business in the UK.
Best item progression June 2015
Despicable Me 2 Buddies Plush Assortment (Geemac)
The arrival of Minions in cinemas has helped the Despicable Me 2 plush pack leap from 306 in the rankings back in May all the way up to number 37 in June.
Sales UK toy sales
Average toy price June ’14: £5.51 Youth electronics was the top-performing category in June with 36 per cent growth for the month. This was driven by a strong increase in both robotic pets and electronic entertainment. Little Live Pets is continuing to perform well and was the number one property within youth
electronics, as well as having the number one item in the category. Little Live Pet items gained three out of the top five items for the month of June. The Kidizoom items from VTech make up the other items in the top five, with both the Smart Watch and Action Cam showing strong sales.
June ’15: £7.92
UK RETAIL SALES TRENDS June 2015 (£ sales – value)
June 2015 (Unit sales – volume)
1The Simpsons Minifigures
1Hot Wheels Basic Car Assortment
All Surface Swingball
The Simpsons Minifigures
Smart Trike 4 in 1 Trike Assortment
Match Attax 2014/15
Hot Wheels Basic Car Assortment
Shopkins 2 Pack
Shopkins 2 Pack
Despicable Me 2 Minion Surprise
LEGO Ninjago Airjitzu Assortment
Play-Doh Single Tub Assortment
Disney Frozen Elsa Sparkling Ice Castle
WCS Road to Euro 2016 10 Packets of Cards
10. WCS Match Attax Extra 2014/15 Booster Pack
10. Cozy Coupe 30th Anniversary
Notes: All participating NPD retail data suppliers provide weekly data via epos systems. NPD figures are not projected to represent non-participating retailers but provide 100 per cent of the sales from participating stores. Epos sample includes the following retailers: Amazon.co.uk, Argos, Asda, Boots, Debenhams, ELC, Firebox, Freemans, Grattan, Halfords, Hamleys, HMV, John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, Mothercare, Next, Play.com, Sainsbury’s, Shop Direct, Tesco, The Entertainer, Toys R Us, Toymaster, WHSmith, Wilkinsons. NPD estimates that the epos now accounts for 78% of the total toy market.
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01932 355 580
CAMPAIGN OF THE MONTH / PLAYTIME
Monopoly Remaining popular for decades, Monopoly took to the road this year in search for the UK and Ireland’s best player. Hasbro details the campaign’s road trip and its expansive hunt for the nation’s best player CONTACT n Hasbro: 020 85691234 n www.hasbro.com the UK and Ireland Monopoly Champion. The adult champion will now go on to represent the UK and Ireland at the World Championships in Macau, China.
At each location, the bus hosted four heats and one final, with street teams on site to generate an exciting atmosphere. Live radio feeds were also played throughout the day, with social amplification and live updates across both Facebook and Twitter backing the campaign. The regional winners, both adult and junior, then took part in the grand final, held at The View from The Shard, on Sunday, July 19th where they competed to be crowned
Social gaming To promote the Monopoly Championships, Hasbro employed a mix of broadcast, social media and PR to reach as large an audience as possible. Working with Magic and Bauer Radio, the firm held a nationwide radio promotion throughout May and June to drive registrations to each regional heat. In addition, the firm reached out to regional press across the country both before and after each heat, to ensure locals were aware of the bus in their region. Hasbro also drove a large number of registrations to the heats through its @MonopolyUK Twitter handle and Monopoly Facebook page, issuing branded content throughout May and June including a ‘Spot The Bus’ competition. This competition, hosted on social channels, encouraged fans to take a picture of the bus in their location for the chance to win Monopoly prizes and aimed to ensure a ‘buzz’ throughout the campaign.
ASDA partnership During the campaign to find the UK and Ireland’s best play, Hasbro partnered with ASDA in a collaboration that saw the supermaket chain host the Monopoly Championship bus at its Coventry, Newcastle, Manchester and Bristol stores.
Playtime n As we move into the second half of the year, by studying historical trends in the toys and games market, we are able to estimate that by the end of 2015 the market could see an increase of nearly three per cent year-on-year.
This month, Generation Media projects the year-on-year change in ad pressure against toys and games TV advertising Latest Available data at time of printing
Projecting the Year-on-Year Change in Ad Pressure against Toys and Games TV Advertising ACTUAL 25%
160000 140000 Toys and Games Kids Eq. TVRs
n Although the predicted estimates are carefully measured, there are best and worst case scenarios. If the June to December period this year reflects the lowest point of the last eight years (2008; a year of global recession) then the market could deflate by -7 per cent. If, however, the period reflects the highest point (2009) growth could be as much as 14 per cent.
Family fun Hasbro ensured the campaign was suitable for the whole family by hosting concurrent adult and junior heats at each location, with both finals taking place at The View from The Shard. This way, Monopoly fans of all ages were able to take part and become involved in the campaign.
0% -5% -10%
-25% 2010 Jan - May
n Using the last three years as a benchmark, we do not As we move into the second half of the year, by studying historical trends in the anticipate a significant change in growth or decline. Toys and Games market we are able to estimate that by the end of 2015 the market could see an increase of nearly 3% year on year.
YoY % Change in Kids Eq. TVRs
FOR decades, Monopoly has remained one of the world’s most popular board games. In May, Hasbro launched a campaign to find the UK and Ireland’s best Monopoly player, a campaign devised by the firm to engage with the whole family. In a specially designed Monopoly Championships bus, Hasbro visited 12 locations across the nation, from Belfast to Bristol, Glasgow to Portsmouth, in search for the best players of the renowned board game.
Although the predicted estimates are carefully measured, Using the last 3 years as a there are best and worst case scenarios. benchmark, we do not If the June-Dec period this year reflects the lowest point of anticipate a significant the last 8 years (2008; a year of global recession) then the change in growth or decline. market could deflate by -7%. If, however, the period reflects the highest point (2009) growth could be by as much ToyNews PlayTime is provided Generation Media as 14%. 0207 307 7900 | www.generationmedia.co.uk
Toy News PlayTime is provided by 0207 307 7900 www.generationmedia.co.uk 09 TN164 COTM/Playtime_v3.indd 1
Source: BARB 2015
Generator Logo to go here 7/21/15
Industry moves This month, Fundamentally Children appoints itself a new commercial director, The Entertainer welcomes a former Argos exec to its buying and merchandising ranks and Paladone stars as our Team of the Month TEAM OF THE MONTH Who’s in the company? In the UK we have many departments, including NPD (New Product Design), Logistics, Compliance, Distribution, Sales Consultancy, Design (graphic), Marketing, HR, IT, Finance and Administration. We also have a second Sales Consultancy team in Miami and another Logistics department in Hong Kong. What have been your biggest successes of the last 12 months? It’s been a brilliant year for us, but highlights have to include three brand new babies, winning Gift Of The Year for our Rubik’s Cube Light, and celebrating our 21st year in business.
FUNDAMENTALLY CHILDREN n The children’s development specialist has promoted GEORGINA DALTON to the role of commercial director, six months after joining the now expanding company. Having founded, run and recently sold her own children’s club business, Dalton boasts extensive experience in developing a growing business as well as nurturing a product from the ground up and marketing it effectively. Dalton’s significant hands on experience with children and families will aid her in working alongside emerging and established toy and app companies and help them fully understand their target markets. In her new role, she will be responsible for developing new opportunities for
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What are you working on at the moment? We’re always looking about a year ahead, so right now our main focus is streamlining our current offering and getting over 200 brand new products ready for early next year so our clients can have them on their shelves in time for Christmas 2016. However, we have got an exciting next couple of months ahead; as one of just two companies awarded a gift licence by Disney for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, we have got a busy final push to get everything ready with our clients in time for the shop launch in September and then the big film launch this December 18th.
Fundamentally Children to support the development of good toys and apps, and help companies to communicate the benefits of these products to their consumers. She will also work to enable firms to benefit fully from the Good Toy Guide or Good App Guide endorsement. Fundamentally Children founder, DR. AMANDA GUMMER has welcomed Dalton to her new position. “Georgina is a huge asset and we are lucky to have someone so dynamic and professional with us,” she said.
Who’s the office joker? We’ve got so many characters here at Paladone HQ, it’s hard to pick out just the one. What’s the hardest part of working in the industry? Chinese New Year.
THE ENTERTAINER n The UK’s largest family-run multichannel toy retailer has appointed MARK WHITTLE as its new head of buying and merchandising for its growing fleet of stores. Whittle has stepped into the role, boasting extensive experience in the industry having worked at some of the UK’s largest retail outlets. In his new role, the former Argos senior toy buyer will be working closely with the firm’s management team and will report to buying director, STUART GRANT. Under his new title, Whittle will be responsible for all aspects of the buying and merchandising of current and new stores. Whittle has previously worked at Tesco where he helped create and launch
And what’s the best? We love attending trade shows around the world and getting sneak previews of blockbuster movies. The best part has to be when we find a unique, trend setting innovation and people fall in love with it.
the Carousel toy line, now a global brand for the retailer. He will purchase across all categories and will help Grant in expading the buying team as the retailer continues its plans for rapid growth in the UK. Grant has welcomed Whittle to his new role with the firm: “We are delighted that Mark has joined The Entertainer. With his extensive knowledge of purchasing in the toy industry we are confident he will ensure we continue to offer our customers the right products at the right price and support our ambitious programme of store expansion.” ROCKET LICENSING n The licensing specialist and team behind successful brands such as Q Pootle 5 and The Very Hungry
Who makes the best cuppa? Each department has it’s own hot-drink-hero so it’s hard to compare.
Caterpillar has appointed TESSA BAILEY as its new licensing coordinator. In her new post, Bailey will provide marketing support and coordination across Rocket’s growing portfolio of brands in order to ensure the efficient running of the team and effective working with partners and clients. She will be involved in marketing duties within Rocket, including creating sales and marketing presentations, liaising with partners, helping to facilitate events for brands and undertaking office administration and support, as well as research duties. Bailey will report directly to the firm’s joint MDs, ROB WIJERATNA and CHARLIE DONALDSON and joins Rocket after extensive work experience in children’s media, including stints with Nickelodeon, Walker Books and CBBC.
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10. – 13.9.2015 Experience diversity, discover new ideas! A guarantee of diversity for over 50 years: The leading international trade fair for the baby and toddler outtting sector. In addition to plenty of new ideas, you can also look forward to the Kids Design Award 2015. Aspiring young designers present trendsetting design concepts. Let yourself be inspired – we are looking forward to seeing you! www.kindundjugend.com International Business Media Services 42 Christchurch Road | Ringwood | BH24 3JU | United Kingdom | Tel.: +44 1425 486830 | firstname.lastname@example.org
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Supermarket sweep Steve Reece looks at the reasons why toys could help some of the major supermarket players out of the turbulent situation many of them are currently finding themselves in FOR THE toy trade, the grocery channel can be seen to be both a positive and a negative factor. This channel can drive significant additional volume, yet tends to be driven by promotions and price cuts, which can cause issues elsewhere. The world of grocery retailing though has been a turbulent world over the last couple of years. With the once invincible Tesco faltering and the rest of the traditional players in the sector feeling the heat from the discount competition of Aldi and Lidl, things have perhaps never been tougher in what has always been a cut throat area of business.
What is clear though is that the ‘non-food’ offering of grocery retailers is still critically important for two key reasons. Firstly, the non-food section tends to offer significantly greater margin versus food to balance out
the high volume low margin food business. Secondly, the nonfood section of grocery stores turn the shopping experience from a functional exercise into a more enticing, more hedonistic experience.
Many ‘expert’ analysts have questioned the future of Tesco because it has too many over-sized stores which are no longer in line with food shopping habits. The word these people are missing is ‘destination’, a hallowed word much beloved of some retailers. The reality is that if you have the space, you can fill it with something which will attract people and the more of a ‘destination’ you can make the store, the more people will buy your other products. I was somewhat surprised recently to find that the first Argos concession in Sainsbury’s is in the leafy backwater of Nantwich, a few miles from my office.
While shopping for functional items and having a quick glance toy aisle, I meandered off to the checkouts to be greeted by a new Argos shop front to the side of the checkouts offering shoppers another chance to buy those much in demand toys and other items. Will it be long before those super-sized Tesco stores slot in something similar to add to the effect and to deliver greater return on footage? One thing is certain, grocery retailers have always used top selling toys as footfall drivers and whether they are selling the same quantities of food or not, the non-food offer, and therefore toys, seems likely to increase in importance in the coming years.
Steve Reece runs a leading consultancy delivering consumer research and manufacturing sourcing services to toy and games companies. Contact him via www.KidsBrandInsight.com.
Board games: Back to basics? Playtime PR’s head of play and Board Game Club co-founder Lesley Singleton takes umbrage at lazy ‘top ten’ game lists, encouraging the press to travel to face-to-face gaming pastures new ‘BOARD GAMES are dead’ cried the headlines when a recent report from a wellknown credit card company received some very decent coverage across the national press. The media was awash with contradictory coverage. ‘Nobody plays the old classics anymore’ was quickly repudiated by ‘the classics are coming back’. At times, I wondered if I’d read the same research. The source of the commotion suggested that chess was enjoying a resurgence, which, in true PR fashion, suited the company behind it as they’re launching a national campaign to get kids playing the game of kings.
I of course have no problem with that – but I do take umbrage at the assumption that all ‘top ten’ lists of board games should now continue to yawningly include chess and other staid classics within their ranks. With just a modicum more research, anyone can see that the face-to-face gaming category in Europe is thriving more than ever, brimming with innovation and often fuelled by the inventor community. Board game clubs, pubs and cafes, the huge increase in visitors to this year’s UK Gaming Expo, the virality of the Pie Face video, a plethora of Kickstarter successes:
there’s activity aplenty and those lazy lists continually fail to showcase the true breadth of games on offer. It’s not just that they are ill informed, it’s that they’re just plain wrong. Traditional games are, I understand, seeing lower sales, but the market as a whole has grown massively, with so many other great titles taking their place on board game shelves across the country. So I’d like to offer those busy hacks a helping hand with their future roundups: start with the easy go-to list then do some comparisons and find the contemporary equivalent. There’ll be similar play patterns with slight
variants and just enough edge to give readers even the slightest glimmer of insight into the UK board game boom. Like Monopoly? Try Hotel Tycoon. Swap Pictionary for Telestrations. A fan of card games like Snap? Then try Jungle Speed or Dobble? Connect Four more your thing? The try Hexagony. As we see continually at Board Game Club, face-to-face gaming is far from going all ‘geek’ and ‘strategy’. Personally, I steer clear of the marathon-play subculture and favour the more fun, sociable, interactive and friendly world of play. Some titles offer nostalgia, others
proactively grab a new generation’s attention. But as long as people are playing, sharing those experiences, enjoying the new creativity coming through from the expos, crowdfunding sites, big brands and inventors alike, this has got to be a good thing for the sector and I hope the press grow wise to that all the sooner. I’m not advocating chucking out your chess sets or confining your Old Maids to their quarters – though recent press coverage suggests you already have – I merely hope more people are tempted to travel a little off the beaten path to gaming pastures new.
Leslie Singleton is co-founder of Board Game Club and head of play at Playtime PR. She can be contacted at Lesley@PlaytimePR.com.
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Should toy companies worry about the Euro? Le Toy Van’s sales and marketing executive, Steven Le Van, explains why toy firms simply cannot afford to turn a blind eye to the current uncertainty around the Euro THE EUROPEAN toy market is significant with upwards of 5,000 businesses generating in excess of Euro 16.5 billion of sales annually. This represents approximately 27 per cent of worldwide toy sales. (Source: Toy Industries of Europe 2013) Europe is a significant toy market and cannot be ignored. The current political climate in the Euro block plus the hangover from the 2008 financial has, however, certainly created a high level of uncertainty, particularly in southern Europe. A number of European countries have had to tolerate significant austerity,
which has resulted in lower disposable income levels for many people. This then has the knock-on effect of reduced consumer spending, particularly on luxury items. In addition to this, there has been significant volatility in
the Euro/GBP exchange rate. Relative to GBP the Euro was weakened by 15 per cent over the past year and by 26 per cent over the past four years. So what does this mean for a SME toy business based in the UK?
Margin erosion: The weakening of the Euro relative to GBP and the USD will have put significant pressure on gross margins, particularly where the industry is based outside of the Euro zone. Is increasing Euro sales prices by 15 per cent in order to retain gross margins over the past year an achievable goal? Extending credit to European distributors: How much certainty is there that the current toy distribution businesses will be in business next year? Recovery of trade debtors: Have terms of business been reviewed? What payment methods have been adopted?
Impact of exchange rates: Has the budget been stress tested in order to understand the effect of the weakening Euro? How far does the euro fall before the toy manufacturer finds itself in difficulty? We are a medium sized toy design, manufacture and distribution business based just outside London. We have maintained our trade prices in both the Euro and Sterling since 2013 allowing for a gain in market share. A significant proportion of our sales are made to European customers in Euros. Despite the issues currently affecting the Euro, Europe continues to represent a core market for us.
Steven Le Van is sales and marketing executive at Le Toy Van. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
How can outsourcing save you money? Velta International’s Andrew Dunn enlightens us on why utilising third party logistics could be the key to ensuring that your toy could become the next ‘must have item’ of the season MANY INDUSTRIES experience seasonal peaks, but nowhere is this more dramatic than in the toy industry, where leading toy retailers can generate almost 50 per cent of sales in the final quarter alone. This increase in demand for products in Q4 has been further enhanced through the recent introduction of Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the UK, long popular in the US. We’ve all witnessed the mad scrambles of parents trying to get their child the ‘must have’ toy of the season and subsequent disappointment of those children whose parents who have been unfortunate in their quest.
3PLs offer a great solution for such fluctuations in demand for products. The ability to scale warehouse spacing up and down, as required,
concern yourself with the requirements of additional staffing costs to cope with these peak periods. 3PLs adopt the latest warehouse technology and
Isn’t it about time you handed over your warehousing requirements to the specialists? Andrew Dunn, Velta International will increase company revenue as you will not be spending money on space not being utilised or paying over the odds for short term warehousing leases. Through utilising 3PLs there is the added bonus of not needing to
train staff to deliver good inventory. So, as long as manufacturing levels are sufficient, the worry of low stock can be avoided. Many 3PL providers are in the position to offer complete fulfilment services - great news for capitalising
on the ever growing market of online transactions. Many companies, like Velta International, are well located near ports and airports with good links for nationwide distribution. The expertise of an established third party logistics in dealing with the shipment of products to a number of retailers with minimal input from yourself leaves you with more time to focus on your core business. When choosing a 3PL, opting for a customs bonded warehouse provider can improve your cash flow and even save you money as it is possible to defer the payment of duty and VAT on products until they have been distributed for sale.
This is great news for items that are imported in a state where they are immediately ready for resale and distribution, as well as any imported items that need sorting or re-packing, or need manipulating in any way prior to sale. And, if you source your products from outside of the EU to be sold onto other non EU markets, there will be no need to pay duty or VAT at all. Given the number of advantages of working with a 3PL, isn’t it time you handed over your warehousing requirements to the specialists to be sure that you are ready for when your toy becomes the next ‘must have item’?
Andrew Dunn is head of global contracts and tenders at Velta International Ltd. He can be contacted at 01376 505189 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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The second Women of the Year networking lunch took place at London’s Home House in July. Billy Langsworthy reviews the event, which this year boasted three extra awards categories WE KNEW that when we launched our first Top 100 Women in Toys listing last year, that it would be a popular feature. However, we were taken aback by just how popular it was. Following the first event at BAFTA, we were regularly asked when the next list and get together would be. When we announced its return in March, the nominations immediately started to pour in. So it was gratifying to see over 100 executives, both female and male, from all areas of the toy business attend last month’s event, with managing directors, inventors and sales executives, PRs and marketeers, licensing and media specialists, retailers, entrepreneurs and administrators all in attendance. This year’s event was opened by last year’s ToyNews Woman of the Year, Gerbie Quilter. Vivid’s sales director took the stage to discuss her inspirations, her history in the industry and the 14 August
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personal roots of her incredible work ethos. “In the top 100 list, there are some real stand out nominations and there are many individuals that have played a key role in shaping the industry that we love,” said Quilter. “That’s what makes this event really important; don’t get me wrong I believe the top jobs should go to the best person for the role regardless of whether you’re a man or a woman. That said I believe it is harder for women to sometimes get the top jobs and fulfil all career aspirations as it’s not easy to juggle home and work commitments and you need good support system at home to be able to fulfil your career goals. “I believe the event recognises this and helps in celebrating the amazing women in our industry across all categories and it’s important to keep these events going.” The awards ceremony then kicked off, where Underground Toys’ licensing director Robyn Cowling was named as Woman of the Year.
Cowling’s win was revealed via a video featuring her colleagues talking about why she deserved the title. “It wasn’t expected at all,” said Cowling. “As the people came on the screen, I realised I knew them and then Andy Oddie [Underground Toys founder] came on and I couldn’t hear anything but the thumping of blood through my ears and I though ‘Oh, I have to go up now’. I’m thrilled. “I love the toy and licensing industries and it’s a very close knit community, so it’s quite an accolade to have been nominated by my peers and to have won.” This year, the event was extended to honour a further three women across the new Rising Star, Innovator and Marketeer award categories. Generation Media’s Lauren Coombs scooped the Rising Star award sponsored by Gameplan Europe, Lottie creator and Arklu co-founder Lucie Follett won the Innovator
award, while MGA and Zapf marketing manager Marian Davis picked up the Marketeer award, sponsored by Norton & Co. “It’s nice to know you’re being seen to be hard working,” said Coombs. “I am really passionate about doing well and going further in the industry and making great campaigns for our clients. Davis added: “I was totally shocked but honoured to receive the award. It’s great to feel that other people have recognised my achievements and hard work. I’m thrilled.” All four were very worthy winners and it was great to see so many people coming out to support it. Once again, the day completely epitomised just what we were trying to highlight when we first launched our search for the top women in the UK toy business last year. To all those who came along, thank you so much, we really appreciate your support and for those
who couldn’t make it, we hope to see you there next year. But I think it’s best to leave the final word on the event to the person responsible for creating it in the first place. “Women of the Year was the first event that ToyNews launched, and hosting the event was my last official act as the editor of ToyNews before Billy takes over the hot seat,” said Samantha Loveday, ToyNews editor. “While, on one hand, I’m sad to be moving on, it does mean that I now stand a chance of maybe being included in the 2016 list.” www.toynews-online.biz
What you all thought “It wasn’t expected at all. As the people came on the screen, I realised I knew them and then Andy Oddie [Underground Toys founder] came on and I couldn’t hear anything but the thumping of blood through my ears and I though ‘Oh, I have to go up now’. I’m thrilled.” Robyn Cowling, licensing director, Underground Toys & Woman of the Year 2015
Thanks to our partners ToyNews Women of the Year was held in association with Women in Toys. We would also like to thank our sponsors, Gameplan Europe and Norton & Co.
“It’s nice to know you’re being seen to be hard working. I am really passionate about doing well and going further in the industry and making great campaigns for our clients.” Lauren Coombs, associate director and head of AV Engagement & Rising Star 2015 “I was totally shocked but honoured to receive the award. It’s great to feel that other people have recognised my achievements and hard work. I’m thrilled.” Marian Davis, marketing manager, MGA Entertainment & Marketeer 2015
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“It’s been a great day. It was good to see all the inspiring women in the toy industry and catch up with some old faces, and some new ones too.” Lesley Singleton, Playtime PR. “We got involved in the marketing award because it’s the lifeblood of what we do. From an agency point of view and from a client’s point of view, we’re committed to brands globally and we’re committed to the future. It’s been a great day. The people have been good and the ladies are enjoying it. I love it.” Tony Norton, founder, Norton & Co. “I am really surprised to get the award, and very, very appreciative. I am just absolutely delighted to have won.” Lucie Follett, Lottie creator and Innovator 2015
Will Ana and Elsa remain cool this year? Is the Rugby World Cup going to drop-kick sales into retail? Will the Minions go bananas on the High Street? Does Orla Kiely have designs on this year’s list? Can LEGO continue to build on its success with the judges? And will Peppa remain as happy as a pig in…? The Licensing.biz Power List is back for 2015 and will once again celebrate the most influential brands in licensing. A panel of 200 independent judges spanning licensors, licensees, retailers, agents and more are currently being asked to choose their top three properties in the following categories: Character & Entertainment, Brands, Art & Design and Sports. This year’s List will be revealed in a 52-page glossy book to be launched at Brand Licensing Europe on October 13th. Licensing. biz will also be hosting a party that evening to celebrate 2015’s Most Influential Licensing Brands.
To find out more about this year’s publication – and the Power List Party – contact email@example.com. A limited number of sponsorship opportunities are also available. Find out more by contacting Jodie Holdway (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Carole Eagles (email@example.com). Powerlist2015_v3.indd 1
“2015 will be our biggest year yet” 2014 was Sambro’s most successful year to date and, with the company’s current performance, 2015 is shaping up to be even bigger. Rhys Troake finds out why from Sambro managing director Nikki Samuels How has 2015 been for Sambro so far? The company is going through a massive growth period. 2014 was our best year to date and we have already outperformed last year. So 2015 will most definitely be our biggest year yet. As well as bringing in more licences and launching new distribution lines, there is a lot going on behind the scenes at Sambro. We have made some great senior appointments as well as recruiting some brilliant new designers. We are expanding and developing our team to facilitate innovative products and excellent customer service. Which brands have performed best for the company this year? Without a doubt, that has to be Minions. The groundswell of anticipation prior to the film’s launch has been reaching fever pitch all year so product has flown out of our warehouse as soon as it arrived. I said earlier in the year that not since Frozen have we seen such demand for product ranges and we expect
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to see this carry on throughout Q4 in the run up to Christmas. What brands have surprised you this year? Frozen continues to astound me. Demand for product still remains really high and the Frozen short film reinvigorated its popularity. We will be launching more ranges later this year. What brands to you expect to do well for Sambro for the rest of 2015? Of course Minions and Frozen perform consistently well. As well as licensed ranges, we are also supporting brand new distribution lines with TV advertising from now until Christmas. These TV campaigns will as always be fully supported with PR activity including blogger events, social media campaigns and inclusion in the many media Christmas gift guides. Our new ranges include Sweet Care Spa, Taste ‘n’ Fun, My Enchanted Mirror and some great games including Lay It or Break It. How do you choose which brands to work with? We are privileged to have worked with leading licensing partners for a number of years and working with them has allowed us to develop a keen eye for which brands will be successful. Extensive TV programming and film releases all help to cement a brand’s popularity even before the first product is launched. So, it’s really then our job to make sure we do that brand justice by creating innovative,
high quality product that sells well. How has Sambro’s attitude to licensing evolved since the birth of the company? Working with licensed properties is always exciting. We have learnt that in order to maintain popular licences and add more to our portfolio, the key is to innovate and refresh our ranges. Now we have a dedicated design team who are fantastically creative. This enables us to keep up with the high standards naturally expected by licensors. We have also developed our own tooling so that we can replicate successful products across many licences. We are now confident that we have become a major player within the licensing industry. We have consistently performed well in categories such as arts and crafts, stationery and bags. This knowledge and commitment to our licences has meant that we are providing product across more categories than ever before, and that’s including novelty toys, outdoor, wooden puzzles and games. How has the toy industry’s attitude to licensing changed in this time? The toy industry realises that licensing is king and that a hot licence isn’t by any means a golden ticket to success. We as toy companies need to support licences by coming up with a product that encompasses that licence in terms of quality and innovation. Consumers will not just buy a product simply because it is licensed. Their tastes are now more discerning and that is because we as an industry have created licensed ranges of such high quality. August 17
THE BIG INTERVIEW
Ravensburger MD Timothy Hall tells Billy Langsworthy why the firm is on track to enjoy its best year yet, what plans are in place for the Brio brand and why the acquisition is more than “just a train system” How has 2015 been for Ravensburger? We’re in double-digit growth ahead of last year up to the end of June. We’ve had a very strong first half on top of 2014, which was a record year for us. We expect this to continue for the rest of 2015. The good thing is that it’s well spread and we’re seeing growth in the toy independent sector as well as in the national sector. We’re very happy about that. What’s driving that growth? If you spoke to most toy retailers about Ravensburger, they’d say we’re best known for children’s puzzles. Children’s puzzles has driven the growth this year but for 2015, only a third of our business will be children’s puzzles. The other key drivers are 3D puzzles and puzzle balls. They are a big part of the business. They’re 18 August
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very heavily TV advertised and it’s actually one of the biggest TV campaigns in the toy market.
Ravensburger is the second biggest games company in Europe. We have a good games business but it’s a
There are a lot of fits between what makes up Brio and what makes up Ravensburger.
established over 130 years ago and Brio is one of the best-known brands in the industry. It’s got iconic products and it’s of a fantastic quality.The design is very good and it boasts excellent play value. Brio is loved by generations of consumers. The heritage was part of the attraction and part of
the synergy between the two companies. It’s also ethically produced and very safe. So there are a lot of fits there between what makes up Brio and what makes up Ravensburger. I’ve been to Malmö in Sweden to meet the team there. Brio is a relatively small team of around 40 people but they are
Timothy Hall, Ravensburger
Another big driver is adult puzzles. A lot of the independents sell more adult puzzles from us than they do children’s puzzles. Our Memory brand is growing as well and we do have a small but growing arts and crafts and science portfolio. It’s well spread channel wise and well spread from a product point of view. The biggest growth focus for the business strategically is games. On a European basis,
very big market and there’s plenty of potential to grow. We had one TV campaign last year for our Labyrinth game. That was very successful and we’ll be repeating that this year. We’re also going to add two new TV commercials for Scotland Yard and Bugs in the Kitchen. You acquired Brio back in January. What makes it a great fit for Ravensburger? It’s a perfect match. Both businesses were www.toynews-online.biz
THE BIG INTERVIEW extremely good and passionate about what they do. It’s a very high quality well known brand and the two companies are a very strong fit together. When we looked at the product range in Malmö, we were genuinely astonished at how the team has developed the concept of Brio over the last four years into a complete Brio world. It’s not just a train system. There are themes like Safari, Fun Park and Farm and they’ve got innovation with things like remote control and rechargeable trains with USB cables. There’s My First Train Sets designed for children for 18 months plus. A significant part of the business is also really high quality nursery toys like pull along ducks and stackable clowns. We’ve started presenting the range to customers and those that haven’t seen Brio in a while are genuinely astonished at the quality and the development that’s taken place over the last four years. Brio has grown its international business over the last four years and it has done that through clever innovation. What can you do for Brio and what avenues does the acquisition open up for Ravensburger? There’s definitely an opportunity to strengthen the distribution within the toy retailers and that’s something we are looking to do. We need to support that with strong point of sale and by allowing children to play with the product instores, particularly through the use of Brio play tables. Brio has got a good distribution in the gift market and there is some good synergy between the gift market and puzzles and games so there are benefits both ways. Will Brio help boost Ravensburger’s presence in the pre-school sector? Absolutely. It’s a new segment for Ravensburger in the UK and the product is so good that we need to find the appropriate distribution. www.toynews-online.biz
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We’ll have a big presence for Brio at Toy Fair next year and there’ll be significant investment in point of sale and the play tables. We have a major programme planned specifically within the independent sector to move that forward. Logistically, is anything changing for the Brio team in Sweden as a result of the acquisition? Brio in Sweden is running as a standalone entity with the same team so it’s absolutely business as usual, but with the support and clout of a major international company behind it that can give it the investment it needs. Where do you want Brio to be come the end of 2015? We started distribution from July 1st of this year, so the first priority is to
appropriate for the UK market, we will launch and support it. I’m pretty sure we will be entering additional categories in the coming years because the UK is the European market with the highest growth expectation. We have a very solid UK business but there’s plenty of scope for growth. Would you say the puzzle sector is in good health at the moment? I believe it is in good shape. The children’s market is still dominated by licensed puzzles and the adult puzzles market is interesting because it’s in a number of channels.
The team in Malmö has developed the concept of Brio over the last four years into a complete world. It’s not just a train system. Timothy Hall, Ravensburger
finish what has been a very smooth transition. We want to ensure the service we provide on Brio is the same as we provide as Ravensburger because we have a very good reputation. It’s a long-term project. We want to increase awareness of Brio to consumers and to grow the business steadily over the years. We’re not looking for a massive first year only for it to come down the following year. We want continuous growth. With Brio opening doors in the pre-school space, are there any other sectors Ravensburger is looking to get into? From a strategic point of view, puzzles will always be the heart of the business and we are integrating Brio. We are also aiming for growth in the games area, but if there is product from another category that is
You’ll find adult puzzles in bookshops, gift shops and toy shops. The average age of the consumer is much lower than it used to be and the market has benefitted from puzzles becoming a family activity. It’s cool again and it’s one of the few things families can do together away from a screen. The 3D angle has given a boost to the whole category because it’s cool for kids aged eight to 12 to build a Big Ben or an Eiffel Tower.
hot thing. It’s going to be another strong year with it this year. Looking to Christmas, what is set to be big for Ravensburger? We’re making a massive increase in marketing investment for the UK market this year. We have four heavy TV campaigns for Bugs in the Kitchen, Labyrinth, Scotland Yard and the range of 3D puzzles. We have great commercials and we want the trade to support us on these games. The launch of Brio and the continued success of our 2D kids and adult puzzles is also key. Christmas won’t be driven by one thing for us, it’ll be spread across each of the segments. I’m very confident that the growth we’re seeing now will carry through to the end of the year, and should accelerate with the number of new products we have coming out.
How is Ravensburger’s licensed business going? The latest data that I have is that Ravensburger has a 52 per cent share of the licensed puzzle market and that is part of the heritage of the UK business. Also, we’ve got very good relationships with all the key licensors and we’re very active in trying to find the next August 19
Striding out Having notched up sales of over one million, Strider is now looking to build further awareness for its range of balance bikes within the independent sector. Samantha Loveday chats to Karen Wood, director of Strider Bike UK, to find out more about the company’s background and how it stands out from its competitors Can you give a brief background on Strider Bike UK and how it has performed to date? Strider was founded in the US by Ryan McFarland in January 2007. The goal of Strider is to simplify a bike to its essence, so that proper size, lightweight and simplicity combine to instil confidence in young new riders. The original bike, built for the inventor’s son, evolved through numerous prototypes and was ultimately issued a US patent. The patented Strider NoPedal Bike is now distributed worldwide and has sold over one million bikes. How long has the brand been available in the UK? November 2009 saw the launch of the first Strider, called the pre-bike in the UK and Ireland. Can you talk us through the range? There are three models of 12” bikes suitable for 18 months to five years. There is a bike for every budget: Classic at £60, Sport at £80 and Aluminium Pro at £100. All have the lowest stand over height at 27cm to fit toddlers and are very light. In addition we have a 16” model for kids aged six to twelve years that need some help to learn to ride or have special needs challenges (£150) and the 20” model that fits teenagers and adults (£190). How does the brand stand out from its competitors? What is its USP? The Strider ethos is about far more than just selling parents a bike. We want children to have opportunities to ride with others and hold events across the UK. Quality and safety are equally as important. The 20 August
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bike is built to the highest standards, with every component being made by ourselves in our factory. We also offer our customers a no quibble 60 day refund and deliver bikes next day in a one hour predicted timeslot. Our customer service adds real value to the sale and gains them loyal and happy customers. If any of our retailers find that a customer returns to a store with an issue with one of our bikes, we will make sure any fault is corrected within two working days and in addition we give that retailer an additional bike free of charge as an apology. Strider runs a Rider Fund open to the UK. We donate free bikes to organisations that can make use of them in a free inclusive session. Can you tell me a bit more about the events you run? The Strider World Championship Racing is an annual global racing event
The Strider ethos is about far more than just selling parents a bike for their children. Karen Wood, Strider Bike UK and all Strider Riders are invited to take part. Strider pays $500 towards flights for UK riders that fly out to attend. This year’s is in South Dakota, US on August 28th to 29th. In the UK we run several races a year, open to all Strider owners and the next is at the Cyclopark, Gravesend in Kent on the September 6th. Strider Adventure Zones are a great way for us to ensure the fun continues with our obstacle course that we set up at events across the UK. Are you looking to move Strider further into toy retail – and independent stores in particular?
We welcome enquiries from independent stores. I retailed Strider for four years before becoming the distributor, so I understand what is required to build a profitable business, especially in times where online sales are constantly on the increase. We only work with carefully selected partners that have physical shops and make sure that everyone keeps an exclusive geographical area and will happily promote them through our social media and newsletters. We don’t particularly like to work with chains that discount hard to protect our small but passionate business owners.
Is there anything you believe independents may be worried about when it comes to stocking Strider bikes? With the flood of balance bikes on the market seen in the last few years, it wouldn’t surprise me if retailers are nervous. Balance bikes work, but not every brand has it right. Strider is an easy sell as the bike does exactly what it needs to do. It’s the lightest and the most adjustable so offers longevity and the customer will come back and thank retailers for selling it to them as they prepare to hand it onto the next child. What would you most like to have achieved by the end of the year with Strider in the UK? More smiles on our Strider riders faces and to have met new passionate business owners that understand that Strider is more than a bike, it’s an opportunity. www.toynews-online.biz
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Life support The toys-to-life sector is booming, generating over £318m in sales in the UK alone, yet the toy industry still remains unsure. Robert Hutchins looks at how, with more emphasis on the toy aspect, the latest wave of products has the potential to change minds THE TOYS-TO-LIFE genre has been fighting for a place within the toy industry ever since its inception. It was back in 2011 that the US videogame publisher Activision first coined the now famous – or infamous - term ‘toys-tolife’ to describe a new wave of toys boasting the ability to bring characters ‘to life’ via videogame content. The company’s ground-breaking launch, Skylanders, is now credited with making that first intrepid leap to brace both the videogame and toy camps, and in doing so, it opened the floodgates to similar products from some of the biggest names in entertainment. 22 August
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Today, Disney, Nintendo, Warner Bros and LEGO have all produced toys-tolife videogames featuring some of the most iconic properties around.
Arguments vary from matters of margins and shelf space to questions over just how much of a toy a toys-to-life product really is.
LEGO Dimensions features toys and should be sold in toy shops. The problem is distribution. Ian Edmunds, Toymaster
Despite the fact that the UK alone has seen the toys-to-life sector shift over 20.4 million products and generate £318 million in sales so far - it is still to be fully embraced by the independent toy retailer.
“We have toyed with the idea time and again, and our barrier is that for the size of the product and its cost, it’s risky to think of the stock that could be left sat on the shelves,” says Helen Gourley, owner
of indie toy store, ToyHub, when asked why she chose to opt out of Disney Infinity 3.0 this year. “I believe that these products offer 100 per cent of the play solution to children. But toys shouldn’t be about offering the whole solution. Kids want to use their imagination. Give them part of the solution, and let them fill in the rest.” Recent launches in this space have taken steps to address the concern that the toy element itself is an afterthough when compared to the videogame aspect of toys-to-life titles. www.toynews-online.biz
TOYS-TO-LIFE Until now, the static nature of the products featured in Disney Infinity, Nintendo’s Amiibo and Skylanders has meant that the toy can extend little further than a collectable figurine. However, a new wave of toys-to-life products are injecting the toys with a new level of playability, offering them credence as standalone products. LEGO Dimensions, Disney and Hasbro’s Playmation and Vivid’s Real FX have all been billed as the next generation of toys-to-life and suggest that maybe the sector has a fighting chance at winning over the indies after all. LEGO Dimensions is a videogame that merges physical brick building with console gameplay. The range features a cast of characters and play-sets from various hit licences including The Simpsons, Batman, Lord of the Rings and Doctor Who. “What you get with LEGO Dimensions is something that you can actually play with, rather than just leave on the shelf,” explains Family Gamer TV’s Andy Robertson. “The sets include proper LEGO that kids can build, re-build, remove from the bases – where all the tech is kept – and just play with as they would any other piece of LEGO.” In fact, it was during an interview about LEGO Dimensions that Soren Torp Laursen, president of LEGO Americas, stated that the Danish firm was ‘not prepared to release the toys-to-life game until it was sure that the videogame didn’t detract from the physical side.’ Well, it appears these sentiments have curried favour among toy retailers
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as the launch has piqued interest with some indies. Managing director of Toymaster, Ian Edmunds, believes that LEGO Dimensions has a rightful place in the toy shop, but feels the next hurdle is when it comes to the subject of distribution. “These are toys, and they should be sold in a toy shop,” he tells ToyNews. “But the problem is getting hold of them. They don’t tend to come from toy distributors. LEGO Dimensions is coming from Warner Entertainment, which isn’t a criticism, but it has a different way of operating. “If there is nobody actually selling these to toy shops, then toy shops tend not to get them.” For the smaller retailers, it appears that bridging the game and toy industries is a harder task in businessterms, than it is in product. There may be solace in the fact then that Disney’s Playmation - championed as the next leap in toys-tolife - is being manufactured and distributed by industry experts, Hasbro. Playmation aims to bring toys-to-life gameplay to the physical world with connected, wearable tech, app technology and a series of game sensors that put kids in the middle of stories themed around different universes like Marvel’s Avengers, Star Wars and Frozen. Scheduled to launch both in the US and UK later this year, Playmation will make its debut with a Marvelthemed play-set, in which kids are given an Iron Man ‘repulsor’ arm piece that will interact with an app and various beacons placed around the room or garden. Kids will then undergo
a variety of missions, during which they will receive commands and be tasked with performing various activities. “Playmation essentially uses connected tech to put players at the centre
on its head and takes the best digital play experience and adapts that to the physical world, not to a screen.” The sets feature figures which can be connected to bases to unlock extra
Playmation takes the best digital play experience and adapts that to the physical world, not a screen. Jerry Perez, Hasbro
of the action,” Jerry Perez, SVP global brand leader at Hasbro, tells ToyNews. “Toys-to-life are about physical objects enhancing screen-based experiences. Well, Playmation flips that
content for kids to engage with, all while encouraging them to be active. “This is an entirely new dimension being added to the toys-to-life phenomenon,” continues Perez.
“Nine out of ten parents tell us they are open to new technology that will help to get their kids active, so we believe this meets the needs of the whole family.” So, with Disney Infinity and Skylanders continuing to innovate with new titles, LEGO Dimensions putting toys at the forefront of a videogame and Hasbro’s Playmation taking toys-to-life away from the screen and into the real world, surely it’s only a matter of time before we see the category fully embraced by our industry. With firms behind the genre making an effort to help their creations suit the toy space, it seems about time that the toy retail landscape returned the favour.
WHERE BRANDS COME TO LIFE Are you looking for new partnerships that could transform your business? BLE 2015 is the only event in Europe where you can meet hundreds of leading brand owners and discover thousands of the hottest brands, characters and images available for license. Whether you are a retailer, licensee or sales promotion professional a visit to BLE 2015 will open up a world of new opportunities and partnerships. Donâ€™t miss this chance to spot the next big thing for your business. See brands come to life at BLE 2015. Register for FREE today, visit www.brandlicensing.eu Organised by
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Dedicated monthly licensing coverage for the UK
Minions misses the mark among independents Despite strong UK box office figures and having pinched the crown from Frozen as top toy licence of 2015, sales of Minions related product has been described by several UK indies as ‘disappointing, at best’
By Robert Hutchins DESPITE BEING championed by the NPD as the number one toy licence of 2015, Minions appears to be telling a surprisingly different story at retail. In results that have been described by some as ‘disappointing, at best,’ consumer reception to Minions product has left independent retailers across the country scratching their heads as it has fallen flat of expectations. The property has been surrounded by various www.toynews-online.biz
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gripes from indies, ranging from the lack of availability of the master toy line to the critical reception of the film itself. “I would have to say that at the minute, sales of Minions can only be described as disappointing,” Ian Edmunds, managing director at Toymaster, told ToyNews. “The film is very disappointing. How you can make an unfunny Minions movie is beyond me, and I believe that has played a big role in its reception at retail.”
Meanwhile, others are feeling left in the cold by the unavailability of the Minions master toy line at indie level, including Toytown SMF’s manager, Brian Simpson. “When certain suppliers get a master toy licence, it doesn’t bode well for the independents,” Simpson told ToyNews. “However, when I walked into my local Tesco and noticed there was 25 per cent off the entire Minions range, I was relatively happy to have missed that boat.”
So how is it that a brand that has seen mixed reception at retail has managed to top the licensed toy charts just weeks after the film’s release? “If you’re selling a tenner for a fiver, it’s very easy to see how it has topped the chart,” said Helen Gourley, owner of independent toy shop, ToyHub. “We have got some Minions product, but I have not gone heavily into it. I have been very picky.” It seems that being selective with product is the answer to making
Minions a success in-store, and for Giddy Goat’s Amanda Alexander, the secondary line has curried greater favour with local consumers. “Minions is doing really well for us. I had some very popular plush last year and I am selling a lot of Minions key rings, sticker books and bags,” she said. Toymaster’s Edmunds continued: “It has sold. This isn’t the end of Minions. “At the end of the day, they are great toys and very funny creatures, but I don’t think we’ll see it replacing Frozen this year.” August 25
Labyrinth board game on the way from River Horse Family title based on the hit 1980s movie will hit shelves in 2016 By Robert Hutchins UK GAME DESIGN company River Horse has teamed up with The Jim Henson Company to develop a new board game based on the 1986 cult classic movie, Labyrinth. While full details of the title are being kept firmly under wraps for now, River Horse revealed to ToyNews that it will be a family board game likely to feature plastic figurines of characters including Hoggle, Ludo, Sarah as well as David Bowie’s goblin king, Jareth. The title will be distributed to board game specialists and toy shops across the UK as well as the international markets.
Labyrinth will join River Horse’s portfolio of titles such as Terminator Genisys: The Miniatures Game and Shuuro, an inventive spin on chess. The game is expected to hit UK shelves in 2016. “We saw The Jim Henson Company’s stand at an event and I have always thought that the Labyrinth would make a splendid board game, so I went and asked, and they agreed,” Alessio Cavatore, founder of River Horse, revealed to ToyNews. “I am currently reading the novelisation of the film, and was happy to find that Jareth agreed too, when I read the line ‘it pleased Jareth to think of his labyrinth as a board game.’” While the game is aimed at the more nostalgic adult
Pointless now University Games’ top title Success of the brand has led the firm to launch a travel edition and a new revamped version By Billy Langsworthy University Games’ Pointless board game is now the best-selling title in the firm’s entire portfolio. Based on the hit BBC One quiz show, the Pointless board game has proved popular and as a result, University Games has launched several accompanying games. “Pointless quickly became our top selling game, and in NPD figures it consistently shows in the top three selling adult games,” Sharon Fosbery, sales and marketing manager at University Games, told ToyNews. “It’s our number one which goes to proves how strong it is, as our TV promoted lines are gaining great market presence. “We also have a Mini Game version, which is in the top travel games sellers. We are now releasing the third version 26 August
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of the board game, refreshing it with a new look, new questions, and its own scoreboard app free download. We are keeping it current.” Looking ahead, the firm believes the show’s
enduring popularity (the show is currently on its 13th series and has inspired several popular quiz books) will help its various Pointless games make it onto Christmas lists later this year.
“We expect Pointless to maintain its number position in the UK portfolio, and continue to hold its presence in the market figures,” added Fosbury. University Games: 0333 4050 120
fanbase of the classic Jim Henson movie, Cavatore believes it will appeal to younger players too. “I want to design this game so that I can play it and enjoy it with my seven year old daughter, so hopefully all mothers and fathers who loved and still love Labyrinth will love to play it with their kids,” added Cavatore. River Horse is a games creation and design service that, as well as boasting a portfolio of award-winning tabletop titles, offers startups and inventors help in getting their own titles to print or getting their crowdfunding campaign up to scratch. River Horse: 07803 711882
Ian Downes thank you notice Start Licensing’s Ian Downes would like to offer his sincere thanks to all his friends and colleagues in the licensing industry who have shown so much support and friendship to the Downes family in recent times, following the unexpected passing of Ian’s son Calum. Ian said: “As a family we have been touched by the heartfelt messages, practical support and love extended to us at this very sad time by our ‘licensing family’. “Calum was a much loved son and brother - his loss was unexpected but the help of our friends has given us great strength in the most difficult of times. I also appreciate the understanding of our clients at this time as well. Thank you.” Ian and his family are also extremely grateful for the donations made in Calum’s memory to the University of Portsmouth Student’s Hardship Fund, including a donation from The Light Fund. www.toynews-online.biz
Posh Paws confident of success with Inside Out Firm believes the Disney Pixar movie that hit screens last month will be one of its hottest sellers this Christmas By Billy Langsworthy DISNEY PIXAR’S latest movie, Inside Out, hit cinemas in late July and Posh Paws is confident that its accompanying plush line will be a hit. The range is in stores now and the firm believes that strong figures in the US, both with regard to toy sales and box office numbers, indicate similar success will follow in the UK. “We are extremely confident that the plush will be incredibly successful,”said Lauren Hayward, Posh Paws’ group brand manager. “We have great distribution for our product across the whole retail market from grocers and toy retailers to fashion, gift
and independent shops. Since the news spread of the US box office success and strong toys sales over the pond, we’re already seeing increased demand for our product from UK retailers.
“I’m sure this is going to grow as consumer demand for the product builds post movie release.” Looking ahead, the DVD hits shelves in November and Posh Paws believes the
brand will become one of its major success stories come Christmas 2015. “We’re extremely positive that Inside Out will be hot property in Christmas 2015.
“I think that the movie will cross genders and ages and thus demand for product range will continue well into this year’s festive season. Posh Paws: 01268 567317
Frozen averages £1m per Jurassic World line performing better than expected, says LEGO week in first half of 2015 The company has bitten off 67 per cent of the UK toy share for the box office blockbuster thanks to its line of popular sets By Billy Langsworthy JURASSIC WORLD has surprised movie analysts with its incredible performance at the box office, and LEGO has also been taken aback by the success of its accompanying sets. The film debuted in June with an opening weekend of £19.35m, the biggest opening to date in the UK this year. Two months later and it’s on track to become the tenth biggest film of all time.
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With Jurassic World showing no sign of losing momentum on the big screen, LEGO has told ToyNews that the brand is already outperforming its initial estimates. “LEGO Jurassic World is performing above our initial expectations and is experiencing strong
sales within the overall toy market,” said LEGO UK brand manager Peter May. “The brand has a 67 per cent share of the Jurassic World toy property in the UK and since launching is the number nine new property within the total toy market for June (NPD June EPOS).” Looking ahead, LEGO also has a Jurassic World expansion pack for LEGO Dimensions on the way. The game hits shelves on September 29th and sales of Jurassic World merchandise will look to receive a further boost with the launch of the DVD and Blu-ray on October 19th. Alongside the sets, LEGO has also backed the movie with the LEGO Jurassic World video game, which has sold particularly well on Xbox 360 thanks to the kids and family market, many of whom are yet to upgrade to the Xbox One and PS4 consoles. LEGO: 01753 495000
Latest NPD stats indicate the Disney property is set to enjoy another strong year By Rhys Troake FROZEN PRODUCTS have averaged £1m sales per week for the first half of 2015, The NPD Group has told ToyNews. 2014 saw the brand become a major player in the toy space and the phenomenon has shown little sign of slowing down. “Frozen continues to be top of the charts and has averaged £1m sales per week for the first half or the year which is really positive,” Jez Fraser-Hook executive director at NPD, told ToyNews. Retailers believe the short film, Frozen Fever, helped further the popularity of the brand by keeping it fresh in kids’ minds. “Frozen is the biggest sell we’ve had and I think the short
film Disney released had something to do with it,” Julian Shelford, owner of Final Frontier, told ToyNews. “I think it will continue to do well for the rest of the year. It’s such a classic story. Disney got it just right.” Despite the impressive statistics of the first half of 2015, some retailers feel change may be coming with the arrival of Inside Out, Minions and Star Wars: The Force Awakens providing competition in the toy aisles. “Frozen is still proving popular, but it began to slow down at the backend of last year,” said Giddy Goat Toys’ Amanda Alexander. “A lot of kids already have the Frozen merchandise so I don’t think it will be as big this year.”
Visit us at Autumn Fair 6-9 September 2015 at stand 5C20-D21
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News Opinion Events
A monthly guide dedicated to the biggest sector in toys
Le Toy Van shifts gear for global expansion The wooden toy firm is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year by detailing plans to take on the South American, Indian and Chinese markets, as well as continue the success of Petilou next year and beyond By Robert Hutchins PRE-SCHOOL specialist Le Toy Van is confident of another year of growth as the Anglo-Franco wooden toy firm eyes further global expansion, despite current concerns over the strength of the Euro. Popular across Europe for its collection of traditional wooden toys for younger age ranges, Le Toy Van is celebrating its 20th anniversary in style this year as it details plans to take its collections to the South American, Indian and Chinese markets. The company already works with numerous retailers and distributors from around the world, reaching the likes of Sweden, Croatia, Germany and Canada. Thanks to growing relationships with global educational suppliers and independent retailers, the firm is keen to take the business to new audiences. The plans emerge following the successful launch of Le Toy Van’s latest pre-school collection of wooden lines. Called Petilou, the range aims to ‘encourage imaginative and social play as well as social development among babies and toddlers.’ www.toynews-online.biz
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The collection has already been met with a positive international response, and the firm reports that many buyers placed orders for the collection of naturethemed wooden toys before seeing the finished product as launched at this year’s Harrogate Home and Gift Show.
“Our expectations are that the Petilou range will find its way into the hearts and shops of the UK gift and toy market with eager anticipation for its expansion,” Le Toy Van’s marketing manager, Marie Bureau, told ToyNews. “UK independent retailers already love it and we will be launching new lines
to further expand the collection of toys for 2016 and beyond. “We are expecting to see a good turnover across the entire Le Toy Van portfolio this year, even with the Euro being weak at the moment, and so far we have seen growth with educational suppliers and independent retailers.
“We are now embarking on our plans for further global growth, as we are constantly expanding and reaching new markets. At the moment we are looking at new markets in South America, India and China.” In celebration of Le Toy Van’s 20th anniversary towards the end of last month, the UK company with strong French roots treated distributors and some of its closest retailers to a London Bus Tour and evening event. Now, following the success it has seen over the last two decades, the company has its sights firmly on growing prosperity over the next two decades. “We know that we are still the babies of the toy industry compared to some of the others, who are now celebrating their 50th or even 80th anniversaries,” Bureau continued. “But for us, 20 years is a great big step and we are very proud to be there and be strong in the market with amazing new products each year. “We will definitely still be here in 20 years time and we look forward to celebrating Le Toy Van’s 40th birthday, too.” Le Toy Van: 020 8979 2036 August 29
Plush delivering excellent results for Re:creation 2015 has seen the firm’s plush portfolio take off with the success of Zigamazoos and Necknapperz By Rhys Troake WITH THE success of Re:creation’s Stretchkins and Bright Light Pillows lines in 2014, the firm has boosted its plush toy range with the arrival of the Zigamazoos and Necknapperz. Zigamazoos is a range of eight different animal characters offering collectability at a competitive price point, while Necknapperz is designed to offer a fun solution to naptime for kids. “Last year set us in good stead for 2015 as we welcomed two new plush brands under our Snuggables umbrella – Zigamazoos and Necknapperz,” said Jonathan Kirkley, marketing director for Re:creation. “We had a fantastic reception for these at Toy
Fair and once again we will be continuing in our commitment to backing these launches with strong TV investment so we have very high hopes for them.”
Proving to be a key brand for Re:creation, the Snuggables plush umbrella has been created to bring current and future launches together coherently as the category
continues to thrive for the firm. “Plush is a key pillar of our business and complements our wider portfolio perfectly,” Kirkley told ToyNews.
“It is certainly an area we will look to continue to build upon.” Looking ahead to the second half of the year, Re:creation is already working on new additions to its Stretchkins range, including a products with lights, designed for further added entertainment. The company already plans to highlight these new products with extensive television and online campaigns. “All four of our plush brands will benefit from dedicated TV, online activity and PR,” continued Kirkley. “We’ll continue to grow and develop our plush brands into 2016 with timely refreshes and new introductions.” Re:creation: 0118 973 6222
App firm Sago Sago makes move into toys Company has launched a line of plush based on its pre-school games By Billy Langsworthy SAGO SAGO has entered the toy space. The company, responsible for apps aimed at toddlers and pre-schoolers, has teamed with Monster Factory to launch a line of plush toys inspired by characters from its games. The toys are available from Amazon and Monster Factory. net, but the move into toys wasn’t fuelled by profits. “The goal of the Sago Mini plush toys wasn’t about revenue,” Sago Sago CEO Jason Krogh told ToyNews.
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“For us, it was a pilot project that allowed us to learn valuable insights about not only the process of making consumer products but also what our consumers want. “We saw a great response from parents and kids wanting to connect with our brand offline and on. It was the indication that we needed to make a real commitment to this area.” The firm has launched a range of four characters, with more on the way and expansion across product sectors in the pipeline.
Krogh believes the UK market will prove important to both the toy line and the ongoing success of its app games. “The UK is consistently one of our top markets in terms of app downloads,” added Krogh. “North America will remain our priority market, but all of the toys will be available for sale globally on Amazon. We hope the UK can eventually be a push for us.” Sago Sago: www.sagosago.com/ contact/
Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015 ● Whittlebury Hall, Northampton
The Inventors Workshop was launched to try and end the frustration for inventors seeking time with toy companies, to give them their chance at meeting with the right company and, just as importantly, the right people within it. This way we can contribute to the continued growth of the toy industry.
After our inspiring programme of advice, ideas and collaboration, we will be giving more time on the day to the life changing Pitch sessions that will give inventors an even greater chance of connecting with the right business partner.
The Inventors Workshop will be held at Whittlebury Hall in Northampton on Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015. More than 40 of the most innovative and influential toy and game manufacturers, technology companies and financial houses will present, discuss, and connect with more than 150 inventors who are expected at the one-day conference.
The conference will be split into two new tracks to make it easier to enjoy insight, discussions and presentations from manufacturers, inventors and technology companies. There will be an Inventors Track aimed at beginners and an Industry Track for more experienced creators, including those who attended last year’s event.
“As a result of the pitching sessions, I secured a deal for my creation: Skinny Sketcher. This led to the development of a whole range, which I launched earlier this year at London Toy Fair. The product is on shelves and the whole process was set in motion by the Workshop. Deal aside, the panel sessions were hugely inspiring.” Gillian Logan, Skinny Sketcher inventor.
For sponsorship opportunities contact Jodie Holdway, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Carole Eagles, email@example.com. 01992 535647
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News Data Opinion
Dedicated monthly retail coverage
Indie Retail Month strikes success amid High Street fears Campaign has seen the High Street fight back against reported footfall slump, says Retail Champion Clare Rayner By Robert Hutchins RETAIL CHAMPION Clare Rayner is celebrating another successful Independent Retail Month, despite growing fears about the UK’s High Street from BDO. Last month, the research company reported that the UK High Street had seen its worst June for nearly a decade, with year-on-year sales slipping two per cent. But in the face of such struggle, Rayner – one of the three-man team behind the Independent Retail Month initiative that runs throughout July – has stated that the High Street is fighting back and her campaign continues to see year-on-year growth. Over the month, the author, speaker and retail enthusiast has seen social media awash with activity from the UK’s independent traders, with toy shops among the many to be promoting the virtues of shopping locally. “I can tell you that from the Tweets, the Facebook posts and all the other social media that has been flying about that there has been a lot going on this year,” said Rayner. “I am constantly getting pings on my Facebook
Areas like Cambridge and St. Albans have been very busy with the campaign. Clare Rayner, Retail Champion
telling me what certain areas have been up to, saying ‘I am doing this for Independent Retail Month.’ Areas like Cambridge and St Albans have been very busy with it this year.” While the latest bad news from BDO reveals a struggle among retailers against falling footfall from both domestic and overseas shoppers, it would seem that morale among
RETAIL ADVISORY BOARD
Stuart Grant, The Entertainer
Fiona Murray-Young, Toys R Us
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Linzi Walker, Argos
independent toy shops hasn’t been affected. In fact, Vivienne Watson, owner of The Cambridge Toy Shop, believes that thanks to the awareness campaigns such as Independent Retail Month raises among shoppers, footfall appears to be on the rise. “People are now realising that independents are so much better than shopping
online because we provide that better level of service,” she explained. “I think all the publicity has really helped, and Independent Retail Month is great at raising awareness for independent stores. “People are starting to become active about the future of their High Streets.” Rayner’s annual campaign has been so well received by the UK’s towns and cities, that in order to cope with its popularity, she has implemented a number of changes to its format. From this Christmas, Independent Retail Month will adopt a new structure
in which the team will ask town centre managers and logistics execs to purchase a licence which will grant them access to all the usual branding, support training, templates and more. “We have had to change the format for the campaign simply because the popularity of the initiative has grown bigger than our capability,” continued Rayner. “We have also learned that people who are committed to running it effectively do a really good job with it, so by asking town managers to spend money on it, hopefully it means they will be dedicated to the cause.” As the Government and the Bank of England now indicate a rise in disposable income among consumers by around £18, Rayner holds hope that High Street retailers can continue to convince the public to spend more money locally. “Fingers crossed that we will see this grow bigger and bigger,” she said. “But our call to the retailers now is to help us get your towns to help you by lobbying so that we can make this work well.”
ToyNews takes soundings from its Retail Advisory Board on toy industry issues. The current members are:
Brian Simpson, Toytown
Clare Barton, Sainsbury’s
Neil Mitchell, Shop Direct
Annalise Quest, Harrods
Steph Strike, Asda
Ben Redhead, Firebox
Alphonse Madamombe, Maplin
Helen Gourley, Toy Hub
Miles Penhallow, Play-Room
Karla Mitchell, XBite
Follow us @toyshopuk
‘A store’s brand identity is just as important as the product it stocks’ This month, ToyShop UK has split opinion among its listers by asking about the importance of a store’s identity versus the products it stocks. Read on to help you decide which side of the fence you belong to
Rainbow Gifts Colin Tindall “Brand identity is very important to us. We are a very small, independent toy shop, with a shop floor space no bigger than seven metres by five metres. We have to work extremely hard to get our customers through the door and willing to buy our product range. Therefore, the products have to suit our brand identity, which if you ask our customers is a unique wooden toy shop with really nice, well made, traditional wooden toys. The products we bring into our store have to 100 per cent suit our brand and theme otherwise they simply won’t work. Loom Bands, for example, may have been hot last year and it was offered our way, but that would have been suicide for our shop and brand.”
Melton Toys James Colclough “Yes, I agree. I think brand is key because it’s one of the few things that has reduced price sensitivity in consumers. Big brands such as John Lewis, British Airways or even Rolex generate aspiration and consumers enjoy more than just a price when shopping with them. Interestingly, I believe this very much exists with independents, but sometimes we have to remember that we as individuals are the ‘brand’ often more than the sign above the door.”
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Automattic Comics and Toys Matt Booker “I definitely agree. We talk to every customer and engage with everyone. It is a policy of mine never to hard sell. We just advise and help. Repeat custom is king and key to survival, and you only get that by offering knowledge and customer service and giving your shop a real identity. Otherwise your customers will just go to a faceless supermarket.”
O’Nessy’s Toys Tina Lavery “I believe that in the competitive market we are in today, it is imperative for small independent retailers to promote the brand identity, and their core values. For a consumer, I believe they are looking for a reputable brand at the lowest possible cost.”
Ducklings Toy Shop Janice Pattison “For many large retailers, a brand identity, is something to hide behind. It gives a multiple retailer a friendly face and invents an identity, which does not actually exist and has no substance. We believe, as an independent toy retailer, that we have a firm identity, it is us, the people. We would however, be worse off without the selection of products which we have chosen. These products reflect our personalities and, in turn, support our brand.”
Whirligig Peter Allinson “Being independent is all about finding interesting products and demonstrating them well. People may not remember our name but they will remember the experience of coming to our shop and seeing or finding different things.”
Dave’s Classic Toys David Grounsell “Reputation for doing a good deal, understanding your product and your customers is the most important factor in retaining and growing your business.”
The Toy and Book Warehouse Neil Armstrong “I disagree. Product will always be king. It is all about having the right stock and at the right time. The toy world moves very quickly and sometimes you have to take a punt on the next big thing.”
Toy Shop UK is a consumerled, 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
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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 n Michael Hawkins (firstname.lastname@example.org or 07786 295756) for more information. www.toyshopuk.co.uk
Cots ‘N’ Togs Sue Needham “I think customers come to us because of the quality products we sell and our product knowledge. I also think that a shop’s location is very important.”
INDIE RETAILER FOCUS
Toys N Tech When Hawkin’s Bazaar closed its Carlisle branch, shop worker Mandy Middleton noticed a gap in the local market. This January saw her open a store of her own in Carlisle city centre, offering a wide variety of toys. Rhys Troake discovers what the new shop has to offer and what 2015 has lined up for the team Can you tell us a bit about Toys N Tech? We believe that play stretches the child’s imagination. By providing the tools to play in a fun environment, we encourage children’s learning and help their knowledge to develop, without them thinking about it. It is our mission to provide a quality experience to the customers of Toys N Tech and to be the leading toy shop in Carlisle. So, what got you guys into toy retail? I have had a variety of jobs, all involving working with children. I started working in retail a few years ago, where I began to learn the skills needed to start my own business. Toys N Tech had been an idea that first came about when Hawkin’s Bazaar closed and I noticed a big gap in Carlisle that needed to be filled. In January, I decided, along with my husband Martin, to just go for it. How is 2015 shaping up for you guys so far? 2015 is going very well so far. We’ve just opened a shop so, for us, it’s been a year of massive achievement and we all feel very proud of ourselves. We’re getting a lot of interest from customers and we are receiving some brilliant feedback. What toys do you stock and what is selling for you? We sell a wide range of quality toys. Our motto is ‘there should be something for everyone’, so we have toys suitable for babies right up to adults. We also feature a pocket money section in the shop with many products under £1 so children can spend their own money.
What do you look for in your product offering? Quality and value for money. We want the best product at the best price for our customers. We always try to source what customers request. That’s the beauty of being an independent toy shop; we are not restricted in our product offering. How do you engage with your local community? Fiona mans the Toys N Tech social media sites and she has created the website which is currently under construction as we add e-commerce to it to allow customers to browse and shop online. We have a three-week radio ad campaign running on CFM and were featured in our local newspaper.
We run competitions and giveaways on our Facebook page to keep things fun for our customers. We also have a shop mascot, Mr Orgli, who likes to talk to our customers on social media and he takes pictures of himself on his many wacky adventures. What industry trend is impacting on your business at the moment? We have found that our movie related products have been big sellers. Dinosaur products have been popular due to Jurassic World and our Minions products have proven popular with the release of the film recently. We also find that things trending among friends at school have been big, like bag tags and rubbers.
What do you think will be your best sellers of 2015? We think our Star Wars range will be highly popular due to the upcoming movie release and we’ve already started expanding our range in preparation for the rush come this December. What are the biggest challenges you guys face? Our biggest challenge now we are open is just ensuring that we continue to offer the best products to our customers and that they are receiving outstanding customer service. At this stage, most of the scary stuff is out the way. What has the rest of the year got in store for Toys N Tech? Any further plans for business expansion?
We have signed a lease for five years so our plans for expansion are somewhat limited for a while. Although, we do have the potential to open the downstairs area of the shop. The rest of the year will see us focusing on digital growth and expanding the website. Is there anything you’d like to shout about right now? We’d all just like to say a big thank you to our loyal customers and new friends for all their support. Without them, we would not be in such a fantastic position. We’d also like to extend that thanks to all of our suppliers and everybody who has helped us iron out the wrinkles and the technicalities.
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Fall guys With more toy firms exhibiting at Autumn Fair each year, Billy Langsworthy speaks to toy account manager Bhavika Pattni about why changing buying patterns has made it a key date on the industry calendar How many companies will be exhibiting in the Children’s Gifts, Toys and Gadgets hall this year? One hundred companies will exhibit within this sector of Autumn Fair, with many that are new and joining us for the first time in 2015 including: Asobi, Little Bird Told Me, 24/7 Toys, Best Shop in the World, Bizzy Bitz, Muddleit, Paint Glow, Cicada Education, Mary Meyer, Add Plus Ld, Creative Education of Canada, Blue Sky Studios, Tinytodds, Indigo Jamm, Disco Duck, Tractor Ted, Tarema, The Hornit, STB Hobbies, Ashwood, Potwells, Rudolph Stein, Tinker & Conk, Anthony Nunn Agencies, Nico Toys, Alex Brands and Wild Republic. Toys will be located alongside our main gift offering in Hall 5. What big toy companies will be at this year’s show? Some of the larger toy companies exhibiting at Autumn Fair are Keel Toys, Grossman, Bladez Toyz, Melissa & Doug, Paul Lamond Games, Tobar, Great Gizmos and Aurora World. All are presenting fantastic new product.
It is also one of the most important transactional events in the retail calendar and a crucial new productsourcing destination for retailers. Independent retailers in particular will benefit from the flexible trading terms offered by Autumn Fair suppliers, the majority of which
Autumn Fair is perfect for firms seeking to attract buyers and retailers outside their specialist area. Bhavika Pattni, Autumn Fair
Why should toy retailers make time to check out Autumn Fair this year? Autumn Fair is the largest and most important trade show taking place in the second half of the year and is the ideal opportunity for retailers to update their stock ahead of Christmas, and get an early preview of hot ranges for spring 2016.
will carry products that are in stock and ready for delivery, without restrictive minimum orders or expensive carriage fees. What’s new about the show this year? We have launched a new website that is very product focused and allows retailers to create
online wish lists, which facilitates year-round product sourcing. We also have an expanded Retail Shop area in Hall 4, where exhibitors can help businesses navigate the huge online space, build a multi-channel offering and enhance their bricks and mortar offering through in-store solutions. Why should toy firms that are not exhibiting still come along this year? With so many retailers and suppliers under one roof Autumn Fair offers superb networking opportunities, while our freely available content programme will cover all kinds of essential topics, ranging from future trends to social media marketing and other essential business advice. Why should firms exhibit at the show in the future? Autumn Fair is the UK’s biggest seasonal buying
event, regularly attended by tens of thousands of retailers, a far bigger audience than any other exhibition taking place in the second half of the year. So if companies want to get in front of their customers and lots of potential new customers then this is the best place for them to be. The timing of the show is also imperative. Our research has clearly shown that retailers have increasingly spread their budgets throughout the year in order to keep on top of consumer buying patterns, which means that later seasonal trade fairs have assumed a greater significance than ever before. Autumn Fair is also perfect for toy companies who are seeking to attract gift shop buyers and other
retailers outside their specialist area. Is the toy contingent at the show growing each year? This sector of Autumn Fair has attracted plenty of growth and this year we are welcoming a lot of great new companies, many of which have a very contemporary look and feel. We have also found there is a strong trend for companies that would traditionally only exhibit at Spring Fair now deciding that one show in the buying cycle is not enough for them. Buying patterns have changed with retailers placing orders in both spring and autumn, and our exhibitors are well persuaded that Autumn Fair can help them generate plenty of new orders in the second half of the year.
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AUTUMN FAIR Roger Martin, Managing Director, Coiledspring Games
Rachel Fogel, Director, Bizzy Bitz
What will you be showcasing at Autumn Fair this year? This year, we will be excited to showcase our newly branded Bizzy Bitz range. Will you be running any Autumn Fair offers? Yes our brand new FSDU comes with £50 worth of free product when a fully stocked FSDU is ordered. It will help Bizzy Bitz stand out in store and encourage customers to try something new this Christmas. Why does Autumn Fair remain a vital date on the industry calendar for you? Autumn Fair is good to meet independent toy retailers who are looking for last-minute ideas to stock up for Christmas. What is your main reason for attending the show? Now that we have Kayes of Cardiff as our exclusive distributor on board, Autumn Fair will be all about sales for us this year.
What would you most like to achieve by the end of the show? By the end of the show, we would love to be sold out of the Bizzy Bitz range. Why should visitors come and see you guys at the show? If retailers want to offer their customers something different this Christmas, then they should come and see Bizzy Bitz. We offer a fun, creative way to play combined with a multitude of learning skills. Hall/Stand: 5A 69
What is your main reason for attending the show? Our main reason to attend is to cross sell to our existing customers and open more new accounts. We get to meet retailers face-to-face, after all, we need our stockists to feel as supported by us as we do them. What would you like to achieve by the end of the show? We would love to secure some 40 August
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Will you be running any special show offers? We have an exciting challenge for visitors. If they walk about holding one of the new premium Schmidt jigsaws vertically, they’ll receive a free Worry Eater Keyring. Why does Autumn Fair remain a vital date on the industry calendar for you? It’s important as we have a mix of licensed and niche products. It’s also one of the last chances for retailers to get some of our bestselling lines ahead of Christmas.
Iain Morgan, Managing Director, Bladez Toyz
Niamh Sherwin Barry, Director, The Irish Fairy Door Company Why is Autumn Fair an important date on the industry calendar? It’s the perfect chance for buyers to get their last minute Christmas orders in. It’s also our chance to link up with our existing customers, working with them to achieve maximum sales and showing them how they can expand their Irish Fairy Door offering. As well as the handmade wooden doors, we also have a selection of accessories including washing lines, tooth fairy plates, vinyl decals and story books.
What will Coiledspring be showcasing at Autumn Fair? Coiledspring Games is showing off the latest in jigsaw innovation from Schmidt: the new premium quality 1,000 piece jigsaws. We’ll also have products from The Creativity Hub, the newest Rory’s Story Cubes Mix sets: Animalia, Fright and Mythic, as well as the latest licensed Batman and Moomin Cubes.
What will Bladez be showcasing at Autumn Fair this year? We will be focusing on our new Star Wars and Minions RC Inflatable lines, The Supernano Quad, Helicopter and Volkswagen micro bus, as well as our new Peppa Pig lines for 2016. new accounts and build on our existing relationships. We’ve already sold more than 150,000 Irish Fairy Doors worldwide and our goal is to see every UK family giving a fairy a human home. Why should visitors come and see you at the show? Our team will be there to explain our concept in an imaginative and passionate way. Autumn Fair gives us the chance to bring the magic to life for buyers, showing them how we sell more than just a fairy door. They open up a new world of imagination and creativity for parents and kids.
Will you be running any Autumn Fair offers? We will be running great value show deals, including ‘buy 48 units and receive £480 worth of free stock’ well as a super-saver mystery deal.
What would you like to achieve by the end of the show? To introduce the premium quality jigsaws and new Worry Eaters to retailers and have them share our excitement. Why should visitors come and see you at the show? To see the high quality new products on offer and take part in our challenge for the chance to win a keyring. Hall/Stand: 5B 46.
Why is Autumn Fair important to you? It’s one of our best shows for meeting new and current customers face to face at a peak time of the year. It’s a great chance for retailers to get an exclusive preview of our upcoming SS items for the following year, and to re order stock in time for Christmas. What would you like to achieve by the end of the show? We’d like to open accounts with new customers and affirm the relationships we currently have. We are also keen to discuss our new promotional plans for 2016 with our retailers. Hall/Stand: 5C60-D61.
Hall/Stand: 5A36-B31 www.toynews-online.biz
AUTUMN FAIR Hannah Roberts, Account Manager, Rudolf Stein
Ben Hogg, Marketing Manager, Esdevium Games What will Esdevium be showcasing this year? We’ll once again be showcasing a snapshot of our range we feel is perfect for the toy and gift markets. We have a range of brand new Disney games including the family favourite Pictopia, as well as a Star Wars version of our educational family card game, Timeline. Our Fisher-Price Classics range is always popular, too and includes childhood favourites such as the Chatter Telephone and Record Player as well as a number of exciting new lines. We will have more Fisher-Price than ever this year with a new, high quality wooden range of preschool toys. Will you be running show offers? We will have a number of showspecific offers available to visitors to our stand. One we expect to be popular is our new Dobble FSDU, which will be offered free to retailers who take enough stock to fill it.
Why is Autumn Fair important to you guys? It’s that final chance for us to show our retailers our ready-to-go toys and games at a time when consumers are thinking about what to buy for Christmas.
Why should visitors come and see you at the show? We are able to respond quickly to industry and fashion trends. Hall/Stand: 5C 11
Why should visitors see you at the show? We have something for all retailers at the show. We have a low minimum order requirement and are flexible with that, too. Hall/Stand: 5B30
Karen Clarke, Brand Director, Smart Toys and Games
What will you be showcasing at Autumn Fair this year? We are showing a new collection of Dinosaur puppets. There are seven to choose from, each one with a fully moving mouth. We have also made a large T-Rex which will retail at £19.99. There are four new additions to the Long Sleeve Glove Puppet collection including a Beaver and a Moose. The ‘Playful Puppies’ make a return, while new for Autumn Fair are four additions to the ‘Hideaway’ puppet collection.
What would you like to achieve by the end of the show? Learn from our retailers, meet new customers, and have a full order book.
What would you like to achieve by the end of the show? To increase awareness of Rudolf Stein among fashion, value and general retailers.
What would you like to achieve by the end of the show? We love to catch up with our customers and it’s a great show to do that. Obviously, it would be nice if that leads to orders and new customers too.
Peter Lockey, Director, The Puppet Company
Why is Autumn Fair an important show for you? This is our favourite show of the year. It’s not as big as Spring and not as busy as London Toy Fair or New York but the quality of buyer is excellent.
What will Rudolf Stein be showcasing this year? We will be showcasing our latest range of products along with current stock lines that are ready to order. We love developing our bestselling lines such as Peppa Pig Jewellery Sets and My Little Pony Fake Hair Snap Clips, but we are also focusing on fun gifting ranges packed with accessories, which will also feature on our stand.
Will you be running any Autumn Fair offers? We’re offering ten per cent off any orders placed on the stand and a free delivery service if the value reaches £250.
What will Smart be showcasing at Autumn Fair this year? The eagerly awaited new SmartMax products with ‘Try Me’ features, plus the exciting (and addictive) new range of SmartGames. Plus many of the current favourites. Will you be running any Autumn Fair offers? Yes we will, so just drop by the stand for more details. Why is Autumn Fair important to you?
It is a great time to catch up with existing customers and build new relationships ahead of the busy Christmas season What is your main reason for attending the show? To showcase the growing range of award-winning Smart Toys and Games products. What would you like to achieve by the end of the show? To run out of business cards! Why should visitors come and see you at the show? To have fun and test their building skills with Smart Max and logic skills on Smart Games. Hall/Stand: 5C24
Why should visitors come and see you at the show? We have the largest selection of puppets in Europe complete with point of sale stands for easy merchandising. Puppets are a very good ‘pick up line’. Hall/Stand: 5C20 –D21
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SECTOR GUIDE: DOLLS, JEWELLERY, CRAFTS & MORE
From make-it-yourself doll kits and internet connected dolls, to role-play items, the market formerly known as girls continues to grow and is as popular as ever. Here, Robert Hutchins rounds up the latest products to grace the aisles this season from some of the sector’s leading brands LEGO LEGO is giving young fans and budding pop stars a chance to experience the glitz of stardom with its new LEGO Friends Pop Star range. The collection allows kids to follow the adventures of pop star Livi as each set introduces glamour and transformation play to the LEGO Friends universe, as well as sophisticated stories, tone of voice and model design. The new collection is led from the front by the Pop Star Tour Bus, featuring a luxury living area, TV, bed and a hot tub. The side slides open to reveal a pull-out rehearsal stage alongside an outside party area. Meanwhile, the modular Pop Star Stage Show can be rearranged to create the perfect set, while the background panels are able to turn to create a
glamorous stage entrance for the star. The Pop Star Dressing Room on the other hand, folds out to create different areas with a mirrored vanity
desk and clothes rail, featuring a range of fabric skirts on hangers. Completing the range is the Pop Star Recording Studio, featuring a recording booth,
MATTEL Barbie is proving that ‘anything is possible’ this year as the iconic fashion doll encourages youngsters to find their inner strength. The fashionista is set to release two animated feature films on DVD this year, with Barbie in Rock ‘n Royals arriving with complementing toy lines, including the Rock ‘n Royal Courtney Doll and Transforming Stage Play-set as well as The Great Puppy Adventure feature, with its accompanying Barbie Spin ‘n Ride Pups toy and more. Barbie will also see new style dolls launch this year, celebrating a partnership between the brand and shoe designer Sophie Webster. Meanwhile, Barbie and Tawney sees Barbie boast an ability to jump on to the back of a horse and gallop www.toynews-online.biz
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production room with brickbuilt speakers, control panels and a CD player, while a Limo is also available in the range. The collection ranges in price from £12.99 to £49.99.
Elsewhere within the LEGO Friends brand, the company is extending its tourist theme sets with the Heartlake Private Jet, Heartlake Skate Park, Emma’s Tourist Kiosk and the Heartlake Grand Hotel, which were launched in January of this year. Two new sets have been introduced in the LEGO Elves collection: Skyra’s Mysterious Sky Castle and Aira’s Pegasus Sleigh. Having been launched in March this year, the LEGO Elves collection offers seven to ten year olds the chance to engage in advanced construction as well as an enchanting storyline in the land of Elvendale. Of course, the list isn’t complete without LEGO Disney Princess sets, featuring Elsa, Jasmine, Ariel and Sleeping Beauty. 01753 495 000
TOBAR off at the touch of a button, while additions to the Barbie Life in the Dreamhouse collection sees the Barbie Malibu House and Barbie Camper join the line-up. The doll also takes on new roles as a nurse, scientist, soccer player and lifeguard in a range celebrating Barbie’s ‘anything is possible’ mantra. Elsewhere, the We Are Monster High campaign encourages kids to champion their inner
monster, while a cast of new arrivals encourages greater brand engagement. Freak Du Chic, Luna Mothews, Elle Edee and Madison Mouse join the range, while the Boo York collection is complemented by the AstraNova Flotation Station. Completing Mattel’s offering this season is Sofia the First and the interactive Talking Sofia and Minimus in large doll scale. 01628 500 000
Tobar is bringing some diverse new products to the girls’ market this season. Included in the new line are Make Your Own kits for those with a love of craft and a sewing range featuring a range of pony, ballerina, teddy, owl and rabbit designs.
Meanwhile, the firm is billing its collection of purses and lip glosses as the ideal pocket money impulse buy. In its role-play collection, the Butterfly Tin Tea Set is labelled a ‘classic’ while for outdoor fans, Tobar delivers the Sparkle Baton and Sally Space Hopper this summer. Ever popular, stickers are on the bill for Tobar this season with a set of 1,000 to choose from, while Tobar’s new Magical Unicorn is destined to spice up a store’s demo zone. Russian Doll Lip Gloss, Make Your Own Pony and a Fairy Music box complete this year’s offering. 0844 573 4299 August 45
SECTOR GUIDE: DOLLS, JEWELLERY, CRAFTS & MORE SPIN MASTER Chubby Puppies is a collectable range of cute, stumbling, fumbling and tumbling puppies that will waddle their way to success this year, says Spin Master. There are 12 different breeds of Chubby Puppies to adopt, including a French Bulldog, a Pug and a Husky, each one boasting the ability to run after their toys or treats, tongues out and ears flapping. Four exclusive pups are available in the Mini Playsets and the Ultimate Dog Park, while a carrier allows kids to take their puppies wherever they are. There are three mini playsets to collect, which can each be joined to the Ultimate Dog Park to create a mammoth set. Swings, slides and a working lift all feature and are all activated by the puppies as they walk passed them. New for Autumn 2015, meanwhile, is the Amazing Zhus Wizard and Magician Pets, a scurry of mice with the ability to perform tricks.
LE TOY VAN
SAMBRO As well as being an aficionado of the licensing industry with a wealth of licensed girls’ lines, Sambro has sought to build the distribution side of the company in 2015, with several new girls’ products launching in time for Q4. Leading the way, the Sweet Care Spa collection is billed as a ‘must have’ for girls everywhere and features a range of products that will allow youngsters to recreate a spa experience at home. The hero Foot Spa can create scented bubbles. It includes music and a foot massager as well as nail varnishes, nail art stickers and a booklet of pampering ideas. Meanwhile, My Enchanted Mirror is a hand held, pink mirror that plays four magical games. Curious kids can ask the mirror questions and it will understand and respond with phrases such as “You are gorgeous, you look like a real princess.” It also includes stories, music and a special ‘which 46 August
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The range boasts four Magician Pets, each one with the ability to vanish into the darkness of The Disappearing Magic Box or sliced and diced in The Sword Box but manage to come out unscathed. The Wizard Pet and Shell Game Magic Set features Madam Zhu or The Great Zhu Wizard Pets. Spin Master’s Flutterbye range enters its third year, confirming its place as an innovative girls’ brand. New additions launching for this Autumn include the Flying Unicorn which sits on a golden pillow/charging unit and is able to float over a child’s hand and the Flying Fairy with a princess ballgown and tiara. Further enhancements to the Flutterbye website will see it change with the seasons and offer further magic for kids with immersive activities downloadable content and fairy tales to enjoy. 01628 535 000
princess are you?’ game. My Enchanted Mirror will ask lots of questions to reveal which princess each child is. Elsewhere, the firm is also launching its Taste ‘n Fun range, featuring the Frosty Fruit frozen fruit drink maker, while the Frozen licensed Olaf Slush Maker enables
retailers to rejuvenate their current Frozen range. A brand new collection of Shopkins bags and umbrellas will also be available at retail in October, enabling retailers to make the most of the craze in the run up to Christmas. 0845 8739 388
The French-born wooden toy specialist is putting a magical twist on traditional play this year with the introduction of its popular pre-school Fairy collection. Leading the line-up for the firm this season is the Fairy Castle. Offering young children the chance to get imaginative with the ‘once upon a time setting’, the set features a handpainted wooden fairy castle, complete with highly detailed floral artwork. Helping kids develop their role-play skills, the castle
boasts a high tower with a flag, a princess balcony, a lifting drawbridge and opening shutters and doors. A collection of special accessories includes a bed complete with linen, a table, two fairy chairs and a toy tea-set, all of which will help youngsters develop their imaginative play. Furthermore, the Fairy Castle is perfectly scaled to be compatible with Le Toy Van’s Budkins fairy characters and any others around 10cm tall, as well as the Le Toy Van Fairy Playmat. 0208 979 2036 www.toynews-online.biz
SECTOR GUIDE: DOLLS, JEWELLERY, CRAFTS & MORE HASBRO It’s animals galore from Hasbro this season as the firm highlights some new launches among its ever popular My Little Pony and Littlest Pet Shop brands. Leading the gallop in the My Little Pony paddock this month is Hasbro’s new My Little Pony Cutie Mark Magic Canterlot Castle set. This playset allows kids to party with Princess Celestia and Spike the Dragon with a three storey tall tower, featuring a working lift and a flight of stairs, leading to the castle’s throne. The castle itself is also filled with digital codes for kids to scan and
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unlock extra content on the My Little Pony app. From ponies to pet shops and the Littlest Pet Shop range is burgeoning this season with new releases. Leading Hasbro’s line-up this month is the Littlest Pet Shop Singles Combo Assortment, which according to the toy firm, boasts ‘some of the most adorable pets you’ll ever see.’ Each pet in the collection features bobble-head motion and can be accessorised with the included Deco Bits, while girls can bring the pets to life in the Littlest Pet Shop Your World app. Once the app is launched, kids can hold the pet and scan the code to unlock it in the game, as well as engage with activities, play games and design their own Littlest Pet Shop world. Completing Hasbro’s lineup this month is the Littlest Pet Shop Jet, designed to carry the cast of pets over the world. 0208 569 1234
MGA The Bratz are back this year, as MGA Entertainment prepares to relaunch the blockbuster fashion doll brand. The refresh of the Bratz brand this year, sees the doll reinvented for today’s youngsters and includes an innovative app, entertainment content, global agency partners and a new message platform.
unlock special content in the My Little Pony Friendship Celebration app. The play-set is also compatible with the next product in the Hasbro lineup: the My Little Pony Cutie Mark Magic Glowing Hearts. A Glowing Hearts Princess Cadance figure boasts rainbow hair and a tail designed to be styled. With glowing hearts, this Pony can voice an array of phrases with the press of her cutie mark. Kids can also unlock her character in the My Little Pony Friendship Celebration app by scanning her badge. The My Little Pony Cutie Mark Magic Rarity’s Boutique, meanwhile, opens like a book, offering the Rarity pony figure and an array of accessories for fun in each of the three different rooms. On one page, Rarity will find herself in a boutique, on the next she will be in a spa. Rarity also features a badge to scan in order to
Cloe, Yasmin, Sasha and Jade all return this AW with new themes and fashion. MGA is encouraging girls in the STEM sector with the launch of its new Project MC2 doll line this August. The collection of science, technology, engineering and mathematics inspired dolls will arrive with its own global original live-
action series for tweens and a partnership with Awesomeness TV to provide short-form content to YouTube influencers. The firm is also celebrating five years since the launch of Lalaloopsy with the brand’s Super Silly Party from summer 2015. The campaign will be supported by TV advertising, a full PR and social media campaign and the popular animated series on Nick Jr. MGA will be growing the Lalaloopsy family this autumn/winter with the introduction of the Dance with Me Doll. When kids wear the magical bow, Peanut Big Top can recognise their movements; when they dance fast, so does she, and when they dance slow, she follows suit. The Lalaloopsy Dance with Me Doll features three songs, eight dance moves and over 90 phrases to keep kids entertained for hours. 0845 0533 333
The Care Bears, My Friend Cayla and an entire cast of puppies all feature in Vivid’s girls’ offering this season, covering plush, dolls, playsets and more. The company’s range of Care Bears includes eight-inch Bean Bag Plush, 14-inch medium plush, including a Care Bears episode on DVD, and 20inch large plush.
Meanwhile, My Friend Cayla is getting a new outfit and updated app for AW. Animagic Rescue Hospital has two new play-sets launching this AW, the Bluebell Stables and Puppy Play School. Completing the line-up is a Chocolate Pen, letting kids write, mould and decorate with liquid chocolate. 01483 449 944
SECTOR GUIDE: DOLLS, CRAFTS & MORE FLAIR With Shopkins in its portfolio, Flair boasts an enviable line-up for girls this season. Series three of the popular Shopkins line has now launched and Flair predicts it will make kids ‘shop until they drop’ as they collect the shoppinginspired characters. Available in two, five and 12 packs, each quirky character belongs to a shopping inspired group. Series three will now see the introduction of themed segments within the range, the Food Fair for instance will house food themed characters, while the new Fashion Spree collection will include play-
sets styled on shoes, makeup and other accessories. Key to the Shopkins autumn line is the Scoops Ice-cream Truck Playset with moving wheels, spinning umbrella stand and two exclusive Shopkins. The Fashion Boutique is the hero of the Fashion Spree theme. Of course, encouraging collectability is key to the marketing drive for Shopkins this year, and Flair will be doing so with digital, print and in-store activity already activating nationwide Shopkins Swapkins clubs. TV advertising and the roll out of the licensing programme will further its success. 0208 643 0320
A GIRL FOR ALL TIME A Girl For All Time designs, produces and manufactures a unique range of dolls, books and accessories, all of which aim to promote intelligent, creative play for children aged seven and upwards. The brand follows the adventures of the first-born girls of the fictional Marchmont family through 500 years of history, bringing worlds to life with books, activities, dolls, costumes and more. A combination of the unique family tree concept, alongside the range’s collectability and character stories, means that repeat purchases are high and with over 40 products to choose from in the current lines, loyal customers return time and again to the brand to update their existing collections. Launched just three years ago, A Girl For All Time has already won Playdoll of the Year 2014 and has a growing fanbase with over 20,000 social media followers, as well as an active fan club. Created by a unique talent pool, the A Girl For All Time team consists of creatives from the world of British television and film, including a BAFTA nominated writer and Emmy nominated costume designer. www.toynews-online.biz
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New to the range this year is Sam, Your 1960s Girl, complete with costumes and accessories, while in the works for 2016 is an entirely new range of dolls and costumes to broaden the brand’s offering to an even wider audience. 020 7060 6151
Discover the UKâ€™s premier range of playdolls, books, accessories and more. Enter a world of intelligent, creative play. Beautifully crafted to last a lifetime. Winner: Industry Choice Award 2015 New lines and products released for September 2015.
Call or write to us for more information www.AGirlforAllTime.com frances@AGirlForAllTime.com 020.7060.6151 Winner: Playdoll of the Year 2014
Winner: Industry Choice 2013, 2014 and 2015
YO U R F R I E N D F O R E V E R
SECTOR GUIDE: DOLLS, JEWELLERY, CRAFT & MORE VTECH VTech has entered the girls’ collectables category for the first time with its new range of Flipsies. Aimed at kids aged four to seven years old, and retailing at £9.99, the Flipsies range is a group of collectable friends that transform from the real world into a dream landscape of their own.. The launch sees VTech combine interactive role play with traditional collectable dolls and playsets for an innovative play experience that boasts MagicPoint technology allowing the Flipsies to interact with their friends and the playset surroundings. Each Flipsies doll even includes outfits and wigs, plus a host of accessories, while the transformation of the Flipsies and their play-sets enhance the range’s play value to capture each child’s imagination. The range launches with eight introductory themes,
CLEMENTONI encouraging girls to ‘dream to be anything they want to be’, from doctors to marine biologists, teachers or even a princess. The range also offers a wide variety of dream scenarios while each character has its own personality and play-set. The new launch has seen
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Clementoni is expanding its range of licensed products into new areas this year, with popular brands such as Frozen among many others. Young fans of the hit Disney animated feature can now take on the role of Elsa herself with the Style your Hair Frozen set. The Frozen range also includes a Necklaces and Charms craft set, which encourages children to create their own trinkets and give them the unique, personalised touch.
Meanwhile, with the Frozen Ice Cream Crafts, kids can master the craft of ice cream making by putting the machine together and applying unique decorations with the utensils included in the pack. Completing Clementoni’s offering is the Crazy Chic range, featuring beauty and craft products for young girls, looking to get creative with their style. The Crazy Chic beauty sets contain makeup, nail products and transfer body art. 0208 782 1143
ICON LIVE It’s been a successful 2015 for Icon Live to date, as the firm continues to see success with its range of girls licensed accessories, including Disney’s Frozen, Shopkins, Disney Princesses and more. The accessories expert’s Disney Frozen range proved to be a popular line last year, and continues to be a top line as the firm adds SKUs to the ranges up to Christmas 2015. Still a key revenue driver, Frozen continues to be loved by kids and parents across the globe, and with a wide range of product available in a number of grocers, Icon Live is expecting Frozen Fever to stay alive for the rest of 2015 and beyond. However, hot on its tail and rivalling the performance of Disney’s hit property is Shopkins with over
VTech inject innovation and technology into the girls’ toy aisle and the firm will be supporting the Flipsies launch with an impactful, above the line marketing plan including heavyweight television campaigns starting through the summer holidays. 01235 555 545
70 million characters sold globally to date. Available in AW of this year and in time for peak Christmas sales, Icon Live will launch a range of jewellery and collectables, including character charms to add to school bags, hair accessories and jewellery gifts for all Shopkins fans. Further girls’ ranges available from Icon Live this year, include Disney Princesses, Sofia the First, Hello Kitty and Inside Out from the end of July. 01444 240 000
A leader in both the wooden toys and furniture industries, KidKraft boasts over 40 years experience specialising in an inventive, interactive and educational range of products. Play kitchens, dollhouses, doll furniture and train sets are just part of the firm’s globally revered portfolio and KidKraft also boasts an expertise in making children’s furniture items
such as chairs, tables, train tables, vanities and beds. The company prides itself on its high attention to detail in all of its products, with classic and modern designs that do not sacrifice the nostalgia of wooden toys and furniture. The firm believes that its collection offers a timeless heritage that can be shared from generation to generation, while
catering to the needs of the discerning parent who wants an alternative to the mainstream toys of today. After more than 40 years in the industry, KidKraft has outlined its plans to continue to take the wooden toys and furniture industry by storm, with high quality and endless imagination. 020 3058 842
SECTOR GUIDE: DOLLS, JEWELLERY, CRAFTS & MORE CHARACTER OPTIONS Girls toys arrive in all shapes and colours at Character Options this season, thanks to its ever-popular brands including The Zelfs, Disney Princess Palace Pets and Little Live Pets. The Zelfs has managed to capture the imagination of kids across the globe as young fans clamber to collect each character across its numerous series. From the Medium Zelfs and their Ultra-Rare characters to the mini Lil Zelf pods, each new series brings a host of new characters to collect. New for 2015, there’s the light-up Zelf, Princess Crystella, a decorated Zelf doll that stands taller than the others and features light up hair which illuminates when the crystal heart on her chest is pressed. This summer also sees the launch of a range of crystalised Zelf characters, each boasting the famed colourful hair typical of the collection. Each series launch comes with additional marketing
JUMBO Following a raft of product launches in the first half of 2015, Jumbo Games is continuing to build on its strong portfolio of licences and products for the girls market and have a number of new additions from Disney’s Frozen and Peppa Pig launching over the next few months. Peppa Pig Tumble and Spin Memory Game is an award-winning game is back for another run at success.
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activity that will help to drive sales, such as the redemption campaign to collect the season’s rarest medium Zelf. TV and print advertising will roll out at the end of this year, as well as a collector’s club. Disney Princess Palace Pets offer youngsters the chance to get their hands on a collection of furry-tailed friends and engage with the Disney Princess franchise’s most downloaded app. Six new characters have already been launched with more to follow this Autumn. In addition, Disney Princess Palace Pets 1.5 inch mini collectables will be the new micro option and will launch later this summer. Completing Character Options’ line-up this month is the Little Live Pets brand, delivering even more for kids to discover this year with the new series of tweet back birds. Turtles, mice, puppies and kittens have also been added to the Little Live Pets collection. 0161 633 9800
JOHN ADAMS Kids can spin the giant Peppa Pig figurine to watch her spin around playing her popular theme tune. When she stops spinning, players must collect all their matching memo cards while listening to Peppa. The first to do so, is the winner. Meanwhile, the Disney Frozen Magical Ice Palace sees kids help Anna rescue Arendelle from an eternal winter and Elsa’s icy powers. Players move around the
board collecting character cards and trying to melt the ice by pressing on Elsa’s Magical Ice Palace. The first player to melt all of their Frozen playing cards, wins. The Disney theme continues with the Disney Frozen Giant Foam Floor Puzzle for indoor or outdoor play. Starring Elsa, Anna, Kristoff and Olaf, the puzzle measures approximately 89cm by 89cm. The Frozen puzzle can be joined with the Disney Sofia Foam Floor Puzzle and is suitable for kids aged three and upwards. Little ones can now create their own Frozen wall art, thanks to the arrival of the Disney Frozen Giant Wall Puzzle, featuring Anna and Elsa, while the new Disney Frozen Weave Loom Machine encourages kids to weave and create patterns. The vertical weaving machine is designed with coils, enabling kids to wind and adjust the length to make bracelets and necklaces as well as larger pieces. 01707289 289
For kids with a flair for fashion and style, the John Adams Girls World Styling Head has been popular among youngsters for many generations. Featuring growing hair tress, the classic Styling Head is the original Girl World product that enables kids to create their own individual hair styles, using the plethora of accessories
included. Complete with hair brands, hairbrush, ribbons, combs, beads and clips – that all kids need to create their own hair styles. Young fans can even add in colourful extensions as well as plait, braid and twist the hair into numerous styles. The Girls World range also includes Gabriella, the Girls World Style and Fashion Doll, aimed at girls aged four years and over. Measuring 42cms in height Gabriella comes complete with long and soft blonde hair as well as lots of accessories, including combs, clips, braids, slides and special colouring pens to create colourful highlights. Gabriella even comes with her own beauty bag to carry her accessories. 01480 414 361
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SECTOR GUIDE: DOLLS, JEWELLERY, CRAFTS & MORE HTI From colour changing bags and role-play toys to dolls prams and pocket money lines, HTI’s girls’ product portfolio is burgeoning with new lines designed to capture the imaginations of girls this season. Featuring the successful Disney’s Frozen franchise, HTI’s extensive collection includes wheeled and pocket money toys as well as the TV advertised Colour Match Snowflake Bag, retailing at £29.99. The snowflake shaped bag can change colour to match over 100 different colours. With a multi-territory partnership with Hasbro for role-play sets, HTI now presents a new range of My Little Pony toys inspired by the play themes of glam up and beauty. Based on the rainbow headed Pegasus from Hasbro’s My Little Pony stable, the TV advertised Rainbow Dash Style ‘n’ Groom retails at £29.99 and features a full body 3D sculpt with a long mane.
Accessories include Cutie Mark stickers, gems, hair beads, combs, clips and bobbles. In the dolls’ prams and pushchairs market, HTI continues to delight youngsters with its premium licensed Mamas & Papas and Silver Cross Junior collections. Inspired by the real life designs, HTI provides little girls with the ultimate accessory for doll role play with the new M&P Armadillo dolls’ pushchair. HTI also offers Barbie glam role-play toys, Hello Kitty beauty inspired roleplay, wheeled toys and dolls prams as well as Doc McStuffins, Minnie Mouse and Sophia the First dolls’ prams and wheeled toys. Elsewhere, the firm is getting stuck in with pocket money lines thanks to HTI’s character licensed pocket money toy offering including Peppa Pig, Minnie Mouse, Disney’s Frozen, Doc McStuffins and Sofia the First. 01253 775 544
RE:CREATION 2014’s launch of Stretchkins and Bright Light Pillow delivered strong results for Re:creation and provides the firm with the ideal platform to drive momentum into the second half of this year with a raft of new girls’ launches. Re:creation’s LEGO Lights portfolio continues to excite brick fans and deliver results. The LEGO Friends keylight range features five collectable friends and each keylight is poseable and features LED lights. Summer 2015 also brings the launch of the much anticipated Zigamazoos collectable plush line, welcomed under Re:creation’s new Snuggables plush umbrella. When squeezed, each of the eight characters in the range giggles and pokes out a tongue. Stretchkins has also won the heart of youngsters with their stretchy limbs. 54 August
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K’NEX The second half of the year sees the cast refreshed with the introduction of a new look Purple Pony and Pink Cat with light-up feet to add a new dimension of play. Re:creation will support Snuggables brands with a wide-reaching marketing programme incorporating heavyweight TV dedicated to each brand. 0118 973 6222
K’Nex is set to drive innovation in both the girls market and construction aisle this season with the launch of Mighty Makers, a collection of building sets designed to empower girls through creative building ideas. Aimed at kids aged seven and upwards, the range encourages girls to explore STEM concepts in an engaging way, with a range
of price points from £14.99 to £49.99. Each set in the collection features story-based instructions that allows girls to play out the adventures of the figure included. Leading the line-up is the Mighty Makers Up, Up and Away Building Set featuring 110 parts, all allowing kids to explore different aviation concepts.
Meanwhile, the Mighty Makers Going Green Building Set features 90 K’Nex parts, gardening tools, flowers, foliage and a mini figure, while the Mighty Makers Fun at the Fair Building Set has more than 225 pieces to create a Ferri Wheel and a pirate ship ride. Joining the line-up of larger sets, the Mighty Makers Deep Sea Dive Building Set features over 260 pieces to create a boat designed to explore marine biology concepts. The Mighty Makers Home Designer Building Set lets girls follow blue prints so they can take on the role of architect, with three different build ideas. The range is completed with the Mighty Makers Inventor’s Clubhouse Building Set, filled with inventions for girls to explore with Emily and Audrey, the two mini figures included. The set is designed to encourage creativity and let imaginations soar. 0118 925 3210 www.toynews-online.biz
THE GREATEST GIFTS. Your future bestsellers for Christmas 2015 and beyond…
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Telephone – Wild & Wolf, Peppermills – T&G Woodware, Light – Jam Jar Lights, Gold Ornamental Crown – McGowan Rutherford, Jug – Present Time, Gorilla Money Bank – Present Time, Clock – Present Time, L table – Present Time, Sprint Race Car – Tobar, Wooden Plane – Tobar, Melodeon – Tobar, Einstein – Kikkerland, Light up letter A – Trans Pacific, Decadent decs giant bauble red – Talking Tables, Round large table – India Jane
SECTOR GUIDE: MUSICAL TOYS
Shake, rattle and roll Whether sparking a child’s first love for music or helping a pint-sized rock star on the road to fame and fortune, musical toys are here to help. Rhys Troake checks out the products set to get kids jamming this year HALILIT Halilit is known for its ranges of musically accurate and tuned musical toys, designed to encourage a love of music from an early age. From shakers, bells and maracas for babies to gift sets featuring an assortment of musical toys, the firm boasts a range set to appeal to babies, toddlers and children. Halilit now has stock ready to fulfil orders for the new Musical Sleepy Pals from Taf Toys. The plush toys feature a detachable music box that plays a choice of nature, heartbeat or trickling water sounds, along with a nightlight, all designed to soothe babies to sleep. Activated by pulling on the tether string or pressing
the nightlight, the sounds play for fifteen minutes and are volume controlled. A daytime mode on the musical box plays shorter bursts of music for babies to enjoy during playtime. With three animal designs to choose from in Owl, Mouse or Donkey, the toys offer optimum play value as they can either be attached to a crib or cot side, held close as an attachment object, or played with as a toy. The award winning Taf Toys range of toys that spark the imagination in babies and toddlers includes: play mats and gyms, in-car toys, pram and pushchair toys, cot mobiles, activity toys, blankets and rattles, many
with a musical element, and all designed with illustrations aimed to appeal to babies and their parents. 01254 872454
CHARACTER OPTIONS The Character Options musical toy range features products from the hit children’s television shows Clangers and Peppa Pig. Simply hoist the mast of the Clangers Music Boat and listen to the Clangers theme. The piece also includes two Clangers characters, Major and Tiny. Music is also at the heart of the Clangers plush collection. The Squeeze & Whistle plush toys and the Whistle & Dance Mother use whistles to create a tune. Elsewhere, the firm’s new musical Peppa Pig plush toy, Ring-a-Roses
Peppa will sing Ring a Roses nursery rhyme for children to sing and dance around to. 0161 633 9800
ESDEVIUM GAMES Esdevium Games boasts a range of traditional Fisher-Price musical toys. Taking characteristics of the originals from the Fifties, Sixties
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Golden Bear provides musical entertainment for youngsters through its range of In the Night Garden musical toys. Based on the carousel from the show, the Explore and Learn Musical Activity Carousel features five interactive electronic panels for children to explore as well as two modes, character songs and word learning.
Also available is the In the Night Garden Musical Ninky Nonk Train. The product comes complete with five carriages, all of which offer different activities like stacking, shape sorting and spinning to engage kids and immerse them within the world of the show. The musical pull along engine carriage features three character buttons, each one playing a tune associated with a different character from the show. 01952 6080308
HTI and Seventies, this range of Fisher Price Classics aim to entertain parents and children alike. Among the company’s range is the Fisher-Price Classic Record Player, complete with five playable records and the 1957 Pull-A-Tune Xylophone. Elsewhere, the Two Tune TV allows adults to introduce children to classic melodies they heard as a child. 01420 593593
HTI combines musical toy lines with some of the biggest brands in the market.
The firm’s Peppa Pig musical toy line includes the Peppa and Friends Piano and Peppa’s Band Station, which features drums, a xylophone, symbols, triangle and maraca for all-in-one music making. HTI’s Frozen musical toys range includes the Giant Music Set boasting a paddle drum, recorder, tambourine and xylophone. 01253 788 888
SECTOR GUIDE: MUSICAL TOYS LEAPFROG LeapFrog has a variety of musical toys that combine playtime with teaching important learning skills. Among these is the Musical Rainbow Tea Party. Designed to teach important preschool skills in a roleplay environment, the light-up teapot engages children with sounds and bright colours,
creating an interesting and engaging musical experience. Elsewhere, LeapFrog’s Mobile Med Kit helps prepare kids for real medical check-ups through roleplay. Children are encouraged to roll the ambulance and press the siren which prompts songs, such as ‘Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes,’ as well as phrases that teach about health and hygiene. 01895 202 840
LITTLE TIKES Little Tikes Tap-A-Tune products help very young children take their first steps into the world of music. The Tap-A-Tune musical toy range features a drum, piano and xylophone, which all
allow for creative cause and effect play in a colourful and engaging way. Each instrument is sold separately with different roles to introduce children to rhythm and pitch while also improving their hand-eye coordination and motor skills. Also forming a key part of the Little Tikes musical toys range is the firm’s brand new Lil’ Ocean Explorers collection. The range includes various sea creature toys that enhance play with the use of music. 01895 202 840
Musical gift sets by Halilit
TOBAR Musical toys remain an important category for Tobar. Some of the firm’s favourite lines feature bright and colourful musical instruments including the Rainbow Music Bells, 8 Note Xylophone, Jingle Bands and Wooden Slide Whistle. For more advanced musicians, Tobar has a mini Accordion, Mini Guitar, Classic Metal Harmonica, Drum Mat and Piano Mat. The company believes its varied musical lines let kids engage with music, make some noise and have fun. 0844 573 4299
Perfect presents for little ones!
TRENDS UK Trends UK is introducing new musical toys into the Sheriff Callie’s Wild West and Frozen ranges for Autumn 2015. Budding musicians can entertain themselves with
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the new Sheriff Callie’s Wild West Musical Microphone, which plays the Sheriff Callie theme tune, along with the the new Sheriff Callie’s Guitar. Elsewhere, Frozen fans can also get musical with the new Frozen MP3 Microphone. Also available is the Frozen SingA-Long Boom Box. It includes a real working microphone and can be connected to an MP3 player or audio device so children can sing along to their playlists. 01295 768 078
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T: 01254 872454
www.halilit.co.uk August 57
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Animazombs, 43 Putnoe Lane Bedford, MK41 9AD, UK 01234 346638 / Info@animazombs.com
SECTOR GUIDE: PLUSH
Fur your eyes only Whether a traditional soft toy or a cuddly creature infused with tech, the plush sector remains one of the most popular categories in the industry. Billy Langsworthy looks at the latest super furry animals to hit shelves this year CHARACTER OPTIONS For autumn 2015, Character’s plush portfolio is welcoming new Bright Eyes pets, melodious Clangers and even a nursery rhyme singing Peppa Pig. The Bright Eyes Pets are super soft plush toys including Breeze the Owl, Twinkle the Dog and Tiny the Elephant. Fans of Disney Princess Palace Pets can also get to grips with Aurora’s kitten, Dreamy.
The eyes of the Bright Eyes Pets light up with just a pat of their head and when awake, they will emit soft sounds designed to sooth a child. When it’s time for sleep, kids can just rub their backs and they’ll doze off again. Bright Eyes Pets come with a nighttime mode which can be activated once the child is asleep to ensure their night goes undisturbed.
Elsewhere, the new Clangers plush collection has now launched with several options for retailers to choose from. The pocket money choice will be the Super Soft Collectables while the Squeeze & Whistle plush toys and the Whistle & Dance Mother have added features and a knitted effect that is ubiquitous to the characters.
VIVID Following a strong start in the first half of the year, Vivid’s Care Bears range will be refreshed for autumn to include new characters and styles, including the new Pyjama Party Fashion Beans and the TV
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Perfect for a bedtime lullaby is the Musical Starlight Tiny. Kids can press Tiny’s tummy and she will play soothing music whilst also providing starlight that will reflect on surfaces and gently fade away. Adding to the line-up of Peppa Pig plush toys and already tipped to be a top choice this Christmas is a new musical Princess Rose Peppa.
Princess Rose Peppa is ready to play a traditional playground game of ring-aroses with all that want to join her. Children simply form a circle with friends and hold hands with Princess Rose Peppa. When the ring is complete, Peppa will sing her favourite Ring a Roses nursery rhyme for everyone to dance around to. 0161 633 9800
TRENDS UK advertised Sing-a-Longs which can interact with each other as they talk, dance and sing. The firm’s Story-Telling Peter Rabbit allows kids to open Peter’s journal for him to start telling a story as the pictures light up. With hundreds of different story combinations, little ones will never know what he’ll say next. Frozen lovers will be fans of Vivid’s all new Walkin’ Talkin’ Olaf. He walks when his button is pressed and as he wobbles, he says up to five of his famous phrases. Elsewhere, pint-sized dog lovers can adopt Alfie my Training Puppy. This playful pup comes with lots of different sounds and movement combinations and using his magic bone controller, kids can make him sit, stand, pounce, lie down and even go to sleep. 01483 449944
The new Disney Sheriff Callie’s Wild West toy range from Trends UK includes collectable soft plush toys and figure play sets featuring the characters from the show. The hero item of the range is the Sheriff Callie Callie-oke feature plush. Dancing and moving her mouth, Sheriff Callie Callie-oke sings the show’s theme tune and says her well-known phrases. Trends UK will promote the brand with significant marketing support featuring hard-hitting TV and PR campaigns, raising
awareness and maximising excitement around the brand Trends UK has also re-launched the popular Nineties brand Puppy Surprise, featuring a mummy dog with a surprise number of puppies in her litter. The Puppy Surprise Plush assortment has three dogs to choose from and each has a surprise number of puppies in their Velcro pouch. 01295 768078
SECTOR GUIDE: PLUSH COILEDSPRING GAMES
Coiledspring Games is welcoming two newcomers to its Sorgenfresser line in the form of Wanda and Lily. Both will be supported by ongoing consumer PR focus throughout the year with a second tranche of TV advertising scheduled for Q4. In a move to instantaneously explain the concept of Worry Eaters to customers and to encourage more impulse buys, new branded material is now available. The new look logo ‘Worry Eaters by Sorgenfresser’ will also be available from this month. The new messaging will appear on all display materials and in all marketing communication, offering consumers and in-store team members a clear and immediate understanding of the Worry Eaters concept. The new messaging will help continue and grow the success of the popular line. 020 3301 1160
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Incoming Tsum Tsums includes characters from Frozen, Big Hero 6, Snow White, Alice in Wonderland, Toy Story and Inside Out. In addition to over 18 mini Tsum Tsums available, Posh Paws will be introducing a selection of super-sized Tsum Tsums to join the line of huggable, stackable medium sized and large Tsum Tsums. 01268 567317
Usborne Publishing will be launching two That’s not my… book and toy gift sets in autumn 2015 with That’s not my meerkat… and That’s not my penguin… Each sturdy gift box will contain a bestselling touchy-feely board book and a luxury plush toy. Each set will retail at £14.99 and last year, sales of That’s not my… books
exceeded those of the books published around the smashhit movie Frozen, according to Nielsen BookScan. There are over 40 touchyfeely books in the series, which was launched sixteen years ago, and the range continues to be one of Usborne’s bestsellers, with sales in excess of 12 million copies worldwide. 0208 636 3734
John Adams is sailing into new waters in 2015 with a collection of brand new plush items within its Pip Ahoy! toy line. The toy range reflects the show’s characters and themes, with the 12” Talking Pip Plush character boasting soft fur and the ability to say 11 popular phrases from the series. Smaller soft toys of Pip and his friend Alba are
also available and each character measures eight inches and wears signature outfits from the popular Milkshake show. Being smaller in size, they are ideal as travel toys and they are also suitable for children from birth. John Adams’ Pip Ahoy! toy range will be TV advertised and supported by a strong PR campaign. 01480 414361
GREAT GIZMOS Great Gizmos’ luxury plush brand NICI is continuing to expand with new soft character collections. Brand new to the Forest Friends Collection is Marlon Mole and Harriet Hedgehog. The Hedgehog Backpack is shaped just like the real thing and is looking to be a big hit with little ones. New NICI ranges for autumn include the new Classic Bear
Posh Paws’ Disney Tsum Tsum collectable plush is the latest craze to hit the world of soft toys. There are new characters being released regularly, so there’s always something different for fans to collect and stack. New this month are some of Disney’s most classic characters ranging from Winnie the Pooh and Minnie to The Aristocats and Dumbo.
who is dark chocolate brown with blue and white stripy feet. He is available as a cuddly toy in a variety of sizes and also features on a number of accessories including the Lighthouse Pencil Case and soft rectangular Cushion. The NICI line is also welcoming several new dragon characters that feature bold colours, wings and horns. The popular Meerkat Range is also expanding with the addition of a golden-eyed Meerkat with shiny details and glitter materials. Available as plush in a number of different sizes, the Meerkat also features on a number of accessories such as a Pencil Case, Mug and Glitter Globe. 01293 543221
NEW Paddington Movie Collection available October 2015
‘It’s nice being a Be ar, especially a Bear called Paddington’
‘Good Afternoon I’m from darkest Peru ’
‘Marmalade sandwiches are my favourite’
‘I’m a very rare sort of Bear’
‘Hello My name is Paddington’
Press my Tummy
Call for our new catalogue: 01329 227300
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Paddington Movie trade ad SIMON.indd 1 Untitled-2 1
09/07/2015 15:12 7/21/15 16:57
SECTOR GUIDE: PLUSH RE:CREATION Re:creation’s Snuggables plush portfolio is geared up to build on its success from last year. With two additional brands, Necknapperz and Zigamazoos, complementing Stretchkins and Bright Light Pillow, the company believes it has a great platform to take the lead in non-licensed plush in the drive towards 2015’s final quarter. The Stretchkins ended 2014 as the ‘Best New Non-Licensed Plush’ according to NPD. This year the cast is refreshed with the introduction of a new look Pony and with the addition of Pink Cat with special feature light-up feet. The Bright Light Pillow range is also growing with the addition of the new Twinkling Star. Like Re:creation’s Pink Beating Heart and White Starlight Square, this new addition features LED lights within that softly
glow with a light display when pressed. Elsewhere, Zigamazoos and their infectious giggle are new for summer 2015. The crew of eight animalthemed friends each give a belly laugh when squeezed and no batteries are needed to enjoy a Zigamazoo giggle. Presenting a solution to travelling with kids, Necknapperz are ultra-soft plush animal characters that transform in seconds to become a practical and comfy neck pillow.
ANAGRANIMALS Lending a unique twist to the plush sector in 2015, Anagranimals is the interchangeable plush range that scooped the
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Dotty the Ladybird, Twinkle the Unicorn, Oinky the Pig and Waddle the Penguin are all on hand to catch the nodding heads of tired travelling children. Re:creation will support the Snuggables portfolio with a wide-reaching marketing programme incorporating heavyweight TV advertising dedicated to each brand, comprehensive PR and online activity including a new web home at www.snuggables.co.uk. 0118 973 6222
With Series Two in development, the Animazombs are focusing on driving forward within the plush category. After an encouraging response to last year’s launch, Series Two promises to increase the existing offering to 25 characters spanning five ranges. With a new interactive website being launched, consumers can further engage with the expanding world of Professor Unbound’s Laboratory. The Series One Animazombs are available now, ranging from 30 to
45cm and including various features such as removable body sections or detachable key-ring charms. Founder Ashley Yeates said: “We’ve had a great following and amazing response from sources typically outside the traditional toy industry, such as comic and film conventions, which we regularly attend. “Growth resulting from exposure to these sectors has helped us evolve the brand and show us that people are really drawn to our characters and the world we’re creating.” 01234 346638
Tobar has an ‘aww!’ enducing selection of plush toys hitting shelves this year. Designed to to suit children of all ages, the firm’s best-selling dinosaur plush lines include Age of Dinosaurs Diplodocus and the Snugglesaurs.
For older children, the company’s Flippin Puppy, Walking Pig, Trotting Pony and Walking Westie are established firm favourites. Elsewhere, Tobar’s Safari line includes an expansive range of adorable and exotic softies and hand puppets. The range is perfect for little ones looking to embark on their own snuggly safari adventure. 0844 573 4299
Boo The World’s Cutest Dog has over 16 million fans on Facebook and his millions on Instagram, Twitter, and other social media channels. To appeal to the ever growing fanbase of this cute pooch, Gund is expanding its popular Boo product line.
The firm’s new Dancing Boo plush toy sees the plush walk and wiggle his way around, all to the American Authors’ song (and Boo’s own personal favourite, apparently) ‘Best Day of My Life’. The Dancing Boo plush is constructed in Gund’s trademark style using soft and tactile plush. Enesco: 01228 404022
TOBAR Best New Toy award at this year’s London Toy Fair. Based on the popular children’s book, the Anagranimals are a gang of cuddly creatures each made up of three different animals. There are six different characters to collect, each featuring three swappable animal body parts that stick together with Velcro, offering children the chance to create up to 216 different Anagranimals of their own like a Hippo-Rilla-Roo or a Piggy-Croco-Puss. There is currently an extensive PR campaign underway for Anagranimals, focusing on securing exposure in Q4 and positioning the plush line as this year’s ideal Christmas gift. 07736 299 200
Supersoft, super cute animals that are fun friends during the day time, and cuddly night lights at bedtime!
TV and print advertised * Innovative PR campaign
SECTOR GUIDE: PLUSH GOLDEN BEAR Well known for its high quality plush portfolio, Golden Bear is launching a selection of new plush lines across its licensed ranges this autumn/winter. Based on the new children’s TV series airing on CBeebies, Golden Bear’s Twirlywoos range includes super soft plush versions of characters Great BigHoo, Toodloo, Chickedy, Chick and Peekaboo. Varying in size, the range includes fun talking soft toys, Peeking Peekaboo and Twirly Top Toodloo, all of which mirror the childcentric humour from the popular TV show created by Anne Wood. The range will also be supported by a strong TV advertising plan from launch.
RAINBOW DESIGNS Rainbow Designs is launching a brand new Paddington Bear Movie Collection in October. The new line features the marmalade sandwich loving icon in three formats: a 17cm Bean Toy, a 24cm Soft Toy and a 30cm Talking Paddington. Elsewhere, Air Puppy is the stylish new plush collection from Rainbow Designs. The Air Puppy collection is a fun range of plush animal characters each boasting its own unique personality. The Hickory Shack collection is a stylish group of animal friends who all
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covers his eyes and plays signature phrases when his tummy is pressed. Activity Igglepiggle also joins the range, featuring tactile fabrics, stretchy crinkle arms and floppy legs, as well as his classic red blankie. There are also new additions to the Something Special portfolio including Textured Mr Tumble with Fun Sounds boasting textured fabrics to engage and simulate children’s senses. Elsewhere, a new Talking Mr Tumble includes fun sounds and phrases from the TV programme. Textured Mr Tumble with Fun Sounds will have heavy TV support from now until Christmas. 01952 608308
LEAPFROG come with a signature piece of clothing. The long legged friends from the Burford Yard collection all have special beans in their feet so they can stand up while the Hedgerley Farm Animals are all made from soft plush. Rainbow Designs’ entire character portfolio spans a range of popular plush characters from brands including Miffy, Shaun the Sheep, Peter Rabbit, Peppa Pig, The Snowman & The Snowdog, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Elmer, Wallace & Gromit and Guess How Much I Love You. 01329 227300
Read with Me Scout and Violet are cuddly interactive learning puppies that encourage a passion for reading in two to five year olds.
The plush puppy pals inspire children to read via accompanying books and engage them by asking questions throughout the story to help build comprehension skills. The pups come with five colourfully illustrated books, which teach children a variety of educational skills, key to their development. As Scout and Violet complete each page, they will ask children one of over 70 different engagement and comprehension questions.
For example, ‘Let’s Go Camping‘ helps little ones learn through rhythm, rhyme, and repetition and the other four books cover skills spanning identifying colours, exploring the narrative of stories and learning about the sound of language. Both Scout and Violet feature five interactive spots and the plush pals can be switched to Sleepy Time Mode with eight minutes of relaxing stories and soothing lullabies. 01895 202840
as well as coordination while also amusing children when he throws the ball. The five interactive buttons also encourage
youngsters to learn numbers and letters while joining in with the nursery rhymes and songs that Baby Mickey sings. 020 3206 1397
CLEMENTONI Clementoni’s Disney plush range includes the Baby Minnie My First Doll, giving yougsters a soft and cuddly little friend. Baby Minnie requires looking after and children can feed, cradle and play with the doll while learning new words, sentences and songs. Baby Minnie and Mickey Play and Learn are both interactive and help teach children their first letters, numbers and colours. They also talk in the original voices of the characters and are preprogrammed with 24 melodies. Baby Mickey Catch and Play develops manual skills
Also airing on CBeebies is the new animated preschool series, Hey Duggee. Duggee is a big cuddly dog and leader of a playgroup called The Squirrel Club. Golden Bear’s plush offering includes collectable characters and Talking Squirrel Soft Toys, each complete with its own childsafe feature badge. The Woof Woof Duggee Soft Toy boasts textured fabrics and push-activated badge icons featuring the show’s theme tune and key phrases from the series. The item will also benefit from TV advertising from launch. The popular In the Night Garden range also sees new introductions in the form of Peek-a-Boo Igglepiggle who
Trends Sheriff Callie ToyNews 152x230:Layout 1 16/06/2015 17:15 Page 1
EXPECT SO MUCH MORE!
(*)Source: BARB Oct-Dec 2014 data. Average Child 4-6 ratings.
To place an order please contact: +44 (0)1295 768078 firstname.lastname@example.org For Media/PR enquiries, please contact Ane Olesen: email@example.com
OBSERVATIONS 0F A TOY INDUSTRY SURVIVOR
Jon Salisbury YEAR-ON-YEAR sales dropped two per cent in June, the month’s worst retail results since 2006, contrary to positive messages about the uplift in the UK economy. So after last month’s decidedly upbeat tone, I came crashing back down to earth with a bump and a reality check with news that the UK High Street had seen its worst June for nearly
Follow me on Twitter @jonsalisbury
With June 2015 reporting the month’s worst retail results since 2006, this month our columnist looks at some other ways that toy shops can combat consumers’ High Street anxiety
still appear reluctant to increase spending on the High Street. In fact, the figures show that consumers are more likely to spend money on leisure activities such as eating out. Why not open a toy bistro or coffee shop, then? “Traditionally, positive messages about the economy would have meant an increase in consumer spending,” said Sophie
Figures show that consumers are more likely to spend money on leisure activities, such as eating out, than on the High Street. Why not open a toy bistro or coffee shop, then? a decade, according to BDO’s monthly High Street sales tracker. BDO states that the results reveal a struggle among retailers against the combination of falling footfall from domestic and overseas shoppers and consumer nervousness sparked by the global environment. The fall is also the fourth monthly dip of the year so far, says BDO. What can you do, except enjoy the surprisingly clement weather and hope that it spurs a rush on that pile of paddling pools still gathering dust in your warehouse? While it’s not as severe as March’s drop of four per cent, consumers
Michael, head of retail and wholesale at BDO. Despite the Government and the Bank of England indicating a greater disposable income, store footfall is down and retailers are struggling to convince people to spend their cash with them. “We are beginning to see retailers moving away from their traditional models, even evolving newer strategies that have been borne out of the recession. This will definitely be a trend to watch out for in the coming months.” I really do wonder what strategies those might be? A Barbie and a macchiato, anyone…
Jon Salisbury has written about the toy business since 1985, editing magazines and running toy media events in New York and London. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or @JonSalisbury www.toynews-online.biz Editorial: 01992 535646 Advertising: 01992 535647
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With a combined print, digital online and email reach in excess of 104,004 retail, toy and licensing business readers every month, ToyNews i...
Published on Jul 28, 2015
With a combined print, digital online and email reach in excess of 104,004 retail, toy and licensing business readers every month, ToyNews i...