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Retail 14 Olympian effort We round up the industry’s thoughts on another record breaking and fun-packed Toy Fair.

No. 181


18 A diverse toy box ToyNews explores the issues around diversity in some of the industry’s favourite toys.

Ahead of the game

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26 Judo shop! The karate loving kids are back with a new Power Rangers movie this year.

March 2017

Marketing 25 All the rave We check out magician Jamie Raven and Paul Lamond’s new range of magic tricks.

With video game properties becoming a fast growing sector in the consumer products space, ToyNews explores how retailers can be cashing in on a new generation of toy buyers, keen to getting their hands with some of their favourite gaming titles this year.

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Follow us @toynewsonline

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

©NewBay Media Europe Ltd 2017 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or any information storage or retrieval system without the express prior written consent of the publisher. The contents of develop are subject to reproduction in information storage and retrieval systems. Printed by Pensord Press Ltd, NP12 2YA Print ISSN: 1740-3308

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Regulars 06 08 08 09 10 12 32 50

News Campaign of the Month Playtime Euromonitor Industry Movers Industry Opinion Mystery shopper ToyTalk

Features 18 Diversity in toys 20 Generation gaming 26 Power Rangers 23 News 35 Interview: Jamie Raven

Pre-school 28 News Retail 31 News 32 Mystery shopper 37 Sector Guide: App Toys 41 Sector Guide: Outdoor Toys 47 Sector Guide: Collectables

Biting the Big Apple


am in love with New York. It’s a vibrant, busy city packed with character, enthusiasm and a lot of pizza. And I must have tried it all. Not only did the city steal my heart (I bought myself an ‘I heart New York’ hat) but so did the passion and enthusiam that the International Toy Fair offers, too. From jazz bands playing you in to toy demos at every turn, it is a show that is more akin to a weekend at Glastonbury than your typical trade show, and I can assure you, the enthusiasm for the US toy market really is infectious. The most notable thing to take away from the show is just how big a role licensing plays in a booming toy market across the pond. Not only has the industry seen an 11 per cent growth over the last two years, but of that, licensed lines makes up for 30 per cent. And it’s not only the typical children’s entertainment properties fuelling that market. In fact, it was Funko that won out at the Toy of the Year Awards, scooping the collectables category for its range of Funko Pop! vinyl figures, going some way to demonstrate the growing demand for the more niche licenses. On home soil, the tides may just be shifting similarly. In fact, Brand Licensing Europe has already seen a huge growth in demand for video game licensed products, which is why in this issue of ToyNews, we explore just how big a sector this is set to be within the toy industry. So read on and explore with us, as I dig out a trilby and whack on another Sinatra album.

From jazz bands playing you in to toy demos at every turn, the New York Toy Fair is more akin to a weekend at Glastonbury than a trade show, and the enthusiam for the booming market (not to mention the pizza) is truly infectious.


March 05

22/02/2017 16:04


Top Trumps gets retro revival with classic packs Winning Moves is bringing back six Retro Top Trumps titles, including Fantasy, Sports Cars, Horror and Today’s Strikers, which the company hopes will be a big hit with adult fans who played the classic game as a kid BY ROBERT HUTCHINS


inning Moves is tapping into the adult gifting market with its latest Top Trumps line, which hopes to evoke a sense of nostalgia with every fan of the classic game. With retro gaming back in force as more and more companies look to bring back classic games from decades ago, Winning Moves has revived six Retro Top Trumps titles, including Fantasy, Sports Cars, Horror and Today’s Strikers. “The classic packs have all the original artwork from the 70s, 80s and 90s and showcase a newly designed clear case, that looks

retailers, particularly from gift and gadget shops, while buyers have positively responded to the packs. “The range will hugely appeal to those who remember playing Top Trumps as children.” And that’s not all for the Top Trumps brand, with a range of licenses including Star Trek and Animal Jam all set to jump on board in 2017. “We have lots of hot new licenses launching in 2017 across all product lines, including Top Trumps Match and Top Trumps Quiz,” cited Miah. “We are also extending the Top Trumps range, with exciting new additions such as Star Trek and Animal Jam.

and opens like a real cassette tape, making you feel even more nostalgic,” Juhel Miah, junior marketing executive at Winning Moves, told ToyNews. “Presented in a sophisticated Retro CDU, each pack will also feature its original production date – making it the perfect gift for someone special born in that same year.” Even though the range will not be launching until September this year, ‘everyone wants them and wants them now’ reports Miah, and response from retailers and buyers is also looking positive for the firm. Miah commented: “The Retro packs are definitely a hit with

ToyNews Women of the Year feature to return in 2017 ToyNews’ Women of the Year power list will star in the June issue of the magazine, which aims to shine the spotlight on women from all areas of the UK toy space, including PR, marketing, sales, design and more BY JADE BURKE

ToyNews is bringing back its successful Women of the Year power list once again, which aims to champion those who go above and beyond in the toy industry. Set to be published in the June issue of ToyNews, the feature aims to recognise women from all areas of the UK toy business, whether that is within marketing, sales, design or as a rising star. Last year’s list was another corker, filled with seasoned 06 March

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members of the industry from sales directors and inventors to PR execs and managing directors, as well as entrepreneurs. Once again, this feature is open to every woman in the UK toy space, including those of you who may have appeared in 2016’s Women of the Year listing. “I’m thrilled to be a part of a feature that champions women from all areas of the UK toy space and recognises the achievements that they have accomplished throughout the past 12 months,”

commented Jade Burke, deputy editor of ToyNews. “I hope the whole of the toy industry gets involved again and makes it another success.” If you’re looking to put yourself forward, or a friend or colleague,

then be sure to act fast as the nomination period has opened, meaning you have until Monday 1st May, 2017 to get your final nominations in. If you know of a woman that you believe deserves to shine in the limelight or someone who has inspired the industry and deserves recognition with a ToyNews Women of the Year placing, then get your nominations in now by sending their name, job title and reasons why to

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Flair lights up retail scene with collectables Glimmies Designed to shine brightly in the dark, Flair believes its latest collectable brand Glimmies will be the next big brand on the market that will appeal to younger fans looking for their next collectable craze BY JADE BURKE


t’s with ‘high hopes’ that Flair brings its latest collectables brand, in the form of Glimmies, to the toy scene. Showcased at London Toy Fair in January, Flair believes that the magical characters that shine in the dark have the potential to be the next big collectable brand, tapping into a new generation of young consumers who enjoy collecting toys. “We think it is very cute and magical and appeals to a younger consumer than Shopkins, so we feel they can sit side by side and definitely has the potential to be our next big collectable brand,”

Holly Lackey, marketing manager at Flair, told ToyNews. “We have some exciting developments to keep the excitement coming in AW17 too.” With an extensive multiplatform campaign set to roll out throughout the year, including dioramas at retail that will allow fans to interact with a Glimmie, Flair is confident that the brand will make waves in the retail scene. “We definitely have high hopes, and hope the kids love the Glimmies as much as we do,” continued Lackey. “The reaction has been brilliant, everyone gets the magic of Glimmies, the fresh and unique look it brings to the market.”

Additional merchandise inspired by the brand is also planned to hit shelves with the help of Lisle Licensing who has been named the UK licensing agent for Glimmies, and it seems they have big things planned for the brand. Gayle Tarrant, partner at Lisle International, added: “Glimmies is a fantastic award-winning brand (before it has even launched in the UK), with unique features that lend themselves well to various other licensed categories. “The brand has had an excellent response from the licensing industry. We are

excited to deliver merchandise that compliments the brand and extends the Glimmies experience for children.”

Bladez Toyz flies into retail with Hot Wheels Quad Racerz deal Mattel’s Hot Wheels brand has inked a new deal with Bladez Toyz to develop the iconic toy cars into a new line of remote-controlled Quad Racerz, which the firm anticipates to be its ‘top selling item’ for the year ahead BY JADE BURKE Flying toys has always been part of Bladez Toyz’s DNA, so it seems fitting that the toy firm has teamed up with Mattel’s Hot Wheels brand to develop a new line of R/C toys. After debuting Hot Wheels R/C Bladez Quad Racerz this year, the firm already anticipates the line to be one of its top selling products for 2017. “Based on feedback so far from all the industry trade shows, we anticipate Hot Wheels Quad

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Racerz to be our top selling item for 2017/18,” Iain Morgan CEO of Bladez Toyz, told ToyNews. Since its debut, Bladez has already witnessed a ‘phenomenal’ reaction from UK retail partners, as well as Mattel’s EU subsidiaries. Morgan continued: “They are all impressed by the innovation and creativity of the Hot Wheels Quad Racerz, and we feel with the current flood of factory generic quadcopters on the market that this is the perfect time for a quality licensed product to be launched.”

With plans for the collection to hit retail shelves this September, the toy firm is encouraging

customers to get their orders in soon to avoid disappointment. And it seems the decision to focus on flying toys will continue to be a high priority for the firm, as Bladez gets ready to celebrate its 10th anniversary. “As the company was founded on flying toys in 2007, it is fitting that we are returning to a core focus of flying for our ten-year anniversary,” declared Morgan. “We are excited to be embarking on this adventure with Mattel on one of the world’s biggest brands.”

March 07

22/02/2017 17:52


Pokemon TCG Sun & Moon shines on retailers Esdevium has made history this month with the biggest ever retail promotion for a trading card game for Pokemon TCG: Sun & Moon, rolling out nationwide to Toys R Us, Smyths, Debenhams and TESCO among others CONTACT: ESDEVIUM, 01420 593593


ollowing the huge success of last year’s Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon video games, which became the biggest European launch titles ever for the Nintendo 3DS family systems, The Pokémon Company International has launched its largest TCG retail promotion yet. This included 1500 freestanding display units that will be distributed to a wide range of retail outlets including Tesco, ASDA, Toys R Us, Smyths Toys Superstores and Debenhams. GAME ran events across 30 outlets, and participating stores in Liverpool, Hinckley, Brentwood and Plymouth hosting midnight

openings, with the added bonus of a special Pokémon TCG card featuring Pikachu for the first 250 visitors through the door. Fans also had the opportunity to acquire serial codes to download a Bottle Cap – for a special in-game item for the Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon video games - as well as the chance to purchase Snorlax themed T-shirts. On an in-store promotional level, there were Pokémon browser bays in 250 stores, with branded headers, fins and shelf strips. Simultaneously, Smyths gave away TCG collector’s albums to eager fans as well

as distributing sampling packs to customers and organising collector’s trading days in five UK stores. Meanwhile, in the Republic of Ireland, 51 GameStop stores

featured the free-standing display units and offered Bottle Cap serial codes at each store’s point of sale. The downloadable Bottle Cap allows a player to increase a single stat of a Lv. 100 Pokémon as part of Hyper Training in the Pokémon Sun or Pokémon Moon games. “Our TCG sales have increased dramatically over the past year,” said Simon Benton, vice president of TCG Sales—Europe for The Pokémon Company International. “Expanding the reach of our retail promotions both large and small, to provide an immersive experience for our fans and to help drive sales, is a key objective for the company in 2017.”

Generation Media’s Lauren Coombs examines how collectable products are continuing to take the toys and games markets by storm Source: BARB 2016


ollowing the NPD Group update at London Toy Fair, we can see that the collectables market in the UK continued to increase by 44 per cent year on year, now accounting for almost one in four toys sold. Not only is the lower cost option proving popular but the playsets are also receiving accolades with Num Noms Lip Gloss Truck winning Imaginative Play Set of the Year at the Toy Industry Awards. As quoted by ToyNews, it is this year round trend of toy-buying that has meant that the UK has the lowest level of seasonality out of the top five European markets. The question we ask ourselves is following such success year on year, is this attainable for another year? With 12 campaigns in the

08 March


Toys & Games space airing a collectable creative across January (accounting for nearly one in five Toys & Games TV campaigns) vs seven across the same month in 2016, we can already see an increase in collectable focused TV. Flair Shopkins is the most viewed Wcollectable campaign in January ‘17 with 6 per cent share of voice across the Toys & Games TV market delivering weekly weights between 110-210 Girls 4-9 TVRs. Other campaigns have also launched since the same period last year with Vivid Imagination’s Genie Girls focusing on higher weekly weights at approx 100-125 Girls 4-9 TVRs for their launch burst. in a market historically dominated by Boys products there is becoming more of a girls skew.

Taking a slightly different tact was Character Options Twozies launching weekly weights across January ranging between 20-35 CH4-6 TVRs delivering at the lower end of the scale. This may be due to the fact that during January with less campaigns on air the lower

weights still provide increased share of voice vs other months of the year. No doubt we will continue to see collectables dominate throughout the year following news of product launches such as Glimmies out in the UK from February 11th.

ToyNews PlayTime is provided by Generation Media

0207 307 7900 |

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The millennial bug


he new consumerism concept comprises the changes in mind-set increasingly evident in millenials. Examples of this are an awareness for sustainability and linked to this, sharing goods and services with other consumers. This change in mindset increasingly affects the traditional toys and games industry. The most important drivers for toys and games are the movement from ownership to sharing, but also the increasing demand for experience. Experience here means both the retail experience, which needs to offer something more than just selling space, and also the concept of experiential play and gaming, making use of traditional toys and games, creatively and with others, rather than in isolation. While the drivers of the new consumerism are not necessarily typical for product-based industries like traditional toys and games, they present an opportunity for brands to connect with a new generation of families. As millenials are about to enter their strongest spending years, the toys and games industry will see its success depend on the ability to cater for their changing needs and values. While sharing services such as Pley and Toys Trunk are only starting to take off in the toys and games industry in 2016, they are set to become more important over the short term. These rental systems allow parents to choose the toys for their children online, have them delivered home and return the toys once their novelty has worn off. This trend represents a threat to toy manufacturers, as sharing toys may mean a loss in sales. However, this movement can also be a huge opportunity for companies.

SVENJA KRUTCHEN Project Manager Euromonitor International

Leading players now need to recognise the trend and respond to it, for example, by offering rental services themselves. Furthermore, in the UK there is no established, professional traditional toys and games online re-seller, even though this is now much more commonplace for video games. With toy reselling services, parents that might be reluctant to spend large amounts of money on potentially short-

Live events have great potential to boost a retailer’s brand image as being more than just a place to buy things. Svenja Krutchen, Euromonitor lived licensed toys might be more willing to make a purchase with the opportunity to then resell such toys, with relative ease. Meanwhile, and closely related to the sharing-economy is the increasing importance of experience and experiential gaming. Driven largely by millenials, but also evident with the generation X and Z

demographic groups, consumers are rediscovering the importance of the value of experience. Board games are one easy option to engage players across generations into a social activity, in which the interaction between players can foster social ties and create team spirit. In the UK, games and puzzles grew by two per cent in current value terms in 2015; Germany has seen comparable growth, while Switzerland and Spain each saw growth of seven per cent, illustrating consumer affinity. Such board games do not only appeal to children, but also to adults who use these games to socialise. This not only presents a wider target audience for manufacturers, but also a larger price frame to position the games, as adults are generally prepared to pay higher prices for a welldesigned game. Of course, traditional toys and games retailers, which have a value share of 24 per cent in the UK, are under pressure from internet retailing, which grew by nine per cent compared to two per cent growth for store retailers. As such, traditional toy retailers will need to look to new initiatives beyond just product offerings

Social media and content sharing are no longer buzzwords, but the back bone of a new breed of consumer; the millennial. And it falls to a new generation to shape the face of toy and game retail. Euromonitor’s Svenja Krutchen explores how traditional retailers can keep ahead of the curve in this ever-changing climate of consumerism.

and discounting to drive footfall. Live events have great potential to boost a retailer’s brand image as being more than just a place to buy things, but also an experiential event children and parents enjoy. Moreover, retailers can use the opportunity to generate sales easily, as customers are already engaging with the products. While millennial parents have fewer children than previous generations, they are also willing to spend more. This, therefore, demands embracing the changes brought by new consumerism to put brands at the forefront of the minds of the next generation.

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

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Industry moves This month, Thames & Kosmos introduces us to its tight-knit team, and office dog, as they recoup from Toy Fair season. Elsewhere the industry remains dynamic as ever as John Frascotti takes the top seat at Hasbro THAMES & KOSMOS Who’s in the team? We’re a really small team – there’s only four of us in the office (Steve, Jo, Emma and Laura) plus office dog, Harley. What have been your most recent successes? Getting through the last 12 months with the four of us has been tricky, and having made it without losing any customers could be hailed as a success. What has been the biggest challenge you have faced? Our biggest challenge was to hit our sales targets, which were high last year. I don’t mind admitting that I thought it wouldn’t happen, but I’m pleased to say it did.

Hasbro n The toy giant has announced JOHN FRASCOTTI is to take on the title of president, following BRIAN GOLDNER’S promotion to chairman and CEO. Frascotti first joined the company in 2008 as chief marketing officer, and went on to become president of Hasbro brands in 2014. “I am humbled and honoured to take on the role of president of this phenomenal company,” said Frascotti.

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What are you guys working on at the moment? We’re working on the new products launching in 2017 – including our raft of board game releases – as well as working with our international partners. What’s your favourite part of working in the toy industry? Our favourite part has to be the toy fairs. It’s great to have a good gossip with both customers and other suppliers, and to see if others have had a similar feeling to the past season. What’s the hardest part of working in the toy industry? The toy fairs. It takes weeks for our livers and feet to recover.

Funrise n The firm has promoted Canadian employee KELLY WOON to the position of VP. Prior to beginning her career with Funrise in 2007, Woon held the role of assistant buyer at Toys R Us Canada. “We are thrilled about Kelly’s new role as vice president” said SHIRLEY PRICE, president at Funrise Toy Corp.

HTI n EMMA PILGRIM (pictured left) joins the company as assistant product manager, where

What are you looking forward to in 2017? Moving office and opening a shop. We’re moving our office to Cranbrook, Kent and the new premises has a shop which we’ll use as a showroom. Who avoids the washing up? We’re all very good at taking turns in making tea, lunch and doing

she will assist with the department and future growth of HTI’s burgeoning role-play category. Meanwhile, REBECCA LAW (pictured right) has been promoted to junior product manager, where she will manage the development of HTI’s dolls’ prams category. “I am delighted to welcome Emma to the product development team and to bolster the team with Rebecca’s new role,” said ALISON DOWNIE, global licensing and brand director at HTI. Alpha Group n Industry veteran PATRICK POTGIESSER has joined Alpha Animation as general manager. As part of the new role, Potgiesser will be responsible for

the washing up. No fingers being pointed here. Who’s the office heartthrob? Without a doubt, Harley. He has more fans than the rest of us put together. All of the delivery drivers know him and always bring him treats. We’d like it if they brought us some chocolate biscuits too.

developing Alpha’s presence across the region with an initial focus on the Nordic territories. “We are delighted to welcome Patrick to enhance our growing European expansion,” said JEANCHRISTOPHE PEAN, president of Alpha Group US and Europe. Jumbo Games n Another toy industry vet steps into a new role, as PHILLIP ELLIS joins Jumbo Games as sales agent. Having worked in the toy and gift industry for over 20 years, Ellis has held several sales roles with different companies covering over 32 different counties. STEWART MIDDLETON, MD at Jumbo Games, commented: “I’m delighted to welcome Philip to the Jumbo family.”

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22/02/2017 13:34


Market town Founder of the children and parent focused marketing firm Splendiferous Marketing, Carly Nair shares her views on how many of today’s marketers are getting it all so very wrong and what can be done to change it

‘Market orientation’ has become a buzzword of modern marketing, and yet so many marketers have been getting it badly wrong. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Carly Nair is the founder and chief storyteller at Splendiferous Marketing, a full service brand marketing agency dedicated to marketing brands, products and services to children and families.


arket orientation’ has become a buzzword of modern marketing, and yet so many marketers have been getting it badly wrong. The problem is the common misconception that being marketoriented simply means ‘knowing the customer’ or, even worse, considering yourself part of the target audience and so, doing things on a whim. But the very concept of market orientation is knowing that you are not the consumer, no matter how well you think you fit into that segment of the audience. It is knowing that as a marketer you do, however, have an extensive knowledge in communicating with

the target consumer using the tools of marketing. When marketing to children and families, it becomes even more problematic; as well as appealing to the child, you need to appeal to the purchaser, you therefore need to be able to connect to two very different segments of people, and be able to set a strategy and send a message that connects with both. That means not one, but two sets of research (alongside your competitor research and interfunctional coordination) all before you even think about strategy. There’s no way to fake this type of in-depth research and the benefits that it affords can often be the difference between a successful campaign, and one that falls short of the mark.

Now that’s where we can help. Splendiferous Marketing is a full service brand marketing agency dedicated to marketing brands, products and services to children and families. Because of our specialism, we are able to keep on top of the latest strategies, implementation or even creative campaign planning and content creation that we know will appeal to your audience. Ultimately, research shows that getting all the prep work right and becoming truly market-oriented leads to increased profit, sales growth, customer retention and new product success. So, what are you waiting for? Don’t let your campaign get left behind. Get in touch today to talk about how we can help get you market oriented.

Away with the fairies Adults are not the only ones who suffer from anxiety and it is a clear problem many children suffer with today. Company director, Niamh Sherwin Barry, highlights how The Irish Fairy Door Company can help combat this with some new, creative ideas

Telling your child that you hear their worries and understand them is a more effective way opening up to a meaningful conversation.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Niamh Sherwin Barry, is the company director for The Irish Fairy Door Company.

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enerally we associate worries with being an adult, but of course children have worries too. Although they may not be lifechanging issues, within their little world they are very relevant and can sometimes stop them from doing the things they like to do. Maybe it’s afraid of letting go of the side of the swimming pool while they are in lessons or maybe they are worried about getting their maths homework wrong. Whatever their worry is, to them it is huge. As parents, we want them to stop worrying and quite often would recommend that they don’t worry, which, although makes perfect sense to us, it rarely helps the child. Telling them that you hear what they are saying and

understand why they are worried is a more effective way of helping. Encouraging the child to give their worries away to fairies is a great way of letting them know that you acknowledge that their worry is real and that you don’t want to just dismiss it. It also offers the opportunity to talk to your child about what is worrying them therefore opening up a very meaningful conversation. When we came up with the idea of the Worry Plaque and did a little research on the topic, the feedback was unanimous – anxiety happens within childhood all the time and parents were actively on the lookout for something to help. Allowing children to give their worries away is an effective way of off-loading what is on their mind.

The idea is that when kids place their hand on the plaque it glows red, signifying that the fairies have heard their worry. Five seconds later, the plaque glows green, showing that the fairies have taken kids’ worries for good. There is a lot of power in seeing the light go from red to green. It really does give the child a sense of completion, that maybe they would not get using another method. The fairies then take the energy that is used in the worry they have taken away and grind it down into a very fine wish-granting dust, which they use to help grant wishes to other children around the world, again showing the child that something negative such as a worry can be changed into something positive.

22/02/2017 09:41


Young innovators Sarah Reast, director and designer for Timberkits Ltd. takes a look at today’s smallest role models and how toy designers can take inspiration from play

Without that little touch of anarchy and upside down inside out-ness that comes from play, we don’t get to discover new things.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Sarah Reast is the director and designer for Timberkits Ltd, which specialises in creating wooden models, including a licensed Shaun the Sheep range.


ow children explore the technical world fascinates me. Throughout my years as a designer I have observed them closely and am no closer to defining the whole process. What I do know is that it often seems somewhat anarchic but given the right material, each child will follow a logic of their own in some way. The problem is that a child’s logic is a very individual thing and cannot necessarily be described in a ‘one size fits all’ description. This gives us toy designers a very challenging brief. If we look for common threads we end up with a rather anodyne middle of the way solution. If we leave it too openended, the toy will have no purpose. If we make it too challenging we risk defeat. With current emphasis

on STEM and STEAM learning, this bears closer examination. At Timberkits we make mechanical moving models sold in kit form. These tick a lot of boxes in the Key Stage Two Design Technology curriculum, they are not a toy as such but they are construction challenge and allow for a lot of creativity and fun. I have spent hours simply watching children build our models, sometimes intervening to help and sometimes not. Often they will seem to be pursuing a route that I assume will end in disaster but then somehow opens up a whole new possibility I had never considered. I have been reminded of the importance of play in experimentation and that this is an aspect lost from education further down the line. I have observed my

own children moan over endless worksheets, risk assessment charts and SWOT analyses that now form design and technology at school and wonder how any of it is ever going to inspire creativity. I accept that formal theory plays a part but often the play is pushed out, squashed and deflated. The role that play parts in all sorts of experimentation is one of the reasons that girls fall behind boys as they reach the end of school. Without that little touch of anarchy and upside down inside out-ness, we don’t get to discover new things. Let us champion our smallest designers and engineers and celebrate their random routes through play. Let them lead the way to future innovation before they grow out of it and before we forget to watch them.

More than a label slap In a market where licensed toys are becoming ever more prevalent, Richard Heayes of Heayes Design highlights the importance of finding the story in each product

Creating new core concepts ahead of time is a great way to launch something new and then roll out a nonlicensed version, at a lower cost.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Richard Heayes is an award-winning inventor and designer at Heayes Design, and a supporter of all things playful. Contact him at

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aving worked on dozens of licenses over the years, I know the temptation the toy business has to just label slap an existing product and hope it sells. Toy licensing is a tricky business - it’s not always easy to spot the properties that will fly, and so investing in new original concepts is a real risk. On the flip side, the Licensors expect market leading innovation for their brands, which I totally understand. However by the time the deal is signed, the reality is the design teams get very little time to execute something new and so the inevitable happens. Of course marrying up great toy brands with great properties is usually a good thing, but sometimes they can feel forced

and not an authentic experience of either brand. I won’t name names, but there were a few products in Nuremberg that I had to take a second look at to make sure the sausage/beer combo wasn’t causing hallucinations. So what are the solutions? As with all things, it’s about planning. There is nothing to stop companies working on new core concepts ahead of time, which can be applied to different licenses. It may be that the market launch for a new innovation can be with a license. Sometimes this is a great way to launch something new and then roll out a non-licensed version at a lower cost. The other way of course is to design concepts as part of the pitch. The worst case is you don’t win the deal but you still might

have great concepts that can be redeveloped for other projects. These creative sprints are high energy in a short amount of time. This can often create great ideas by focusing efforts around a single purpose, without much time to over-analyse them. For new designers and marketeers, remember the story of the brand is the most important thing when looking for inspiration. It’s easy to forget whilst trying to sort out contracts, but that’s what kids will take away, and creating those synergies between license and product that bring key moments of the story to life is the recipe for success. So that’s it. I need to get on with the ‘My first Death Star’ baby rattle concept with real working laser pointer.

March 13

22/02/2017 09:41


Olympia games

Praised for going from ‘strength to strength’, this year’s Toy Fair was back with a bang. Jade Burke takes a look back on the event, from the success of The Greenhouse Area to the latest collaborations unveiled at the show


nd just like that it’s over. After a year’s preparation, the industry’s most anticipated event in the toy calendar has come to an end, and what a belter it really was. Once again Olympia was full to the brim with all the seasoned toy manufacturers, retailers and buyers, along with a line-up of new exhibitors ready to unveil their latest inventions. Despite last year’s date clash with Spielwarenmesse in Nuremberg, this year’s show went on without a hitch, with one firm praising the show, stating that ‘it goes from strength to strength’. “Based on feedback received thus far which has been very positive, the show has been another success for the vast majority of exhibitors I have spoken to,” Majen Immink, head of Toy Fair operations and sales at the BTHA, tells ToyNews. “It was great to hear many reports of new business, as well as seeing all the buyers they expected and hoped to meet.” The absence of various manufacturers at this year’s show

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didn’t go unnoticed, however Immink believes the fluctuation in exhibitors is beneficial to the show, making way for new ones. “We were once again fortunate to have a sold out show. Every year there is a fluctuation in exhibitor demographic, but ultimately the absence of a few makes way for new exhibitors and others that

We have opened the application process for 2018 and already have had a significant number of registrations in, which is very encouraging. Majen Immink, BTHA perhaps wish to expand or try a new location,” continues Immink. “Our returnee rate is strong year on year, which is testament to the loyalty of our exhibitors and the strength of the event.” The Greenhouse Area sold out in July last year, where 40 new companies were welcomed into

the fold. As always, the area was teeming with innovation, with one game in particular catching the eye of the ToyNews team. The Sock Game, the branchild of two brothers, was the hit of the show, while new exhibitor Clockwork Soldier won a Toy Fair Best New Toy award. Immink adds: “The Greenhouse was once again a thriving area full of innovative products and entrepreneurs looking to make their mark, as well as some smaller companies who have found their home in this area. “It was fantastic to see so many new product launches and new faces whom I hope will go on to achieve success and cement their place in the industry.” The three-day event certainly wasn’t short of newsgrabbing product launches and celebrations, as Teletubbies and Care Bears marked its 20th and 35th anniversary, respectively. Plus, the Toy Trust also celebrated its 25th anniversary with the debut of its Toy Trust Pin Badge appeal. Elsewhere, Bladez Toyz debuted items following its deal with Mattel’s Hot Wheels brand

– expect big things from this collaboration. Meanwhile, the Toy Fair Trolley Dash, which closed the show, was a massive success as exhibitors donated over 4,000 toys to KidsOut, who returned as the official charity partner for 2017. Magician and Britain’s Got Talent contestant Jamie Raven was also on hand to teach attendees a series of magic tricks during the show, following his partnership with Paul Lamond Games. Unfortunately, he didn’t make a helicopter appear in the grounds of Olympia like in the final of the TV series. (You can check out our interview with Raven on page 25). This year’s fair was nothing but varied, and with the application process for 2018 already open and filling up fast, it looks like next year’s London Toy Fair will be full to the brim once again. “We have opened the application process for the 2018 show and already have had a significant number of registrations in, which is very encouraging, so we look forward to welcoming back repeat exhibitors as well as companies that are new to the show,” concludes Immink.

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“We had a fantastic Toy Fair this year; 2017 is the company’s 50th anniversary so it was great to be able to raise a glass with our customers to celebrate this on the stand, while showing them our latest product ranges. “We saw everyone we wanted to see (and more) and we got a great response to all of our key lines, especially Chocolate Sprinkle Stix, Giggle Wiggle and Super Science.” Simon Pilkington, Managing Director at John Adams

“Toy Fair was excellent for us and attracted a great mix of independent and major retailers, as well as generating very strong national media interest for the toy trade, which is vital for everyone in it. “We set an ‘unofficial world record’ for the fastest Magformers rhombicuboctahedron (26-sided shape) ever built, in 12.63 seconds, and we were delighted when our new Neon LED Set was awarded a Best New Toy accolade by the BTHA in our second year of exhibiting. The show goes from strength to strength in my opinion.” David Kelly, Managing Director at Magformers UK “London Toy Fair, as always, was a great show for Thames & Kosmos. We managed to meet up with virtually all of our current customers and also lots of potential new customers. “It’s always good to catch up with them to see how the year – and the Thames & Kosmos products – have fared for them. The feedback on the range was really strong so we’re excited for the year ahead. It is also far and away the place that we do most of our business.” Jo Drage, Sales Director at Thames & Kosmos UK

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“The show has been amazing for us. We’ve had a huge amount of buzz around Roblox and Fingerlings from WowWee Toys is certainly causing a stir. “We have also had really strong reaction to our Nerf core accessories and First Act range of musical instruments. Overall, we’ve had a brilliant three days and look forward to returning in 2018.” Jonny Taylor, Managing Director at Jazwares UK “We’ve had an incredibly good exhibition at Olympia. We have had some wonderful success with our Pitstop GoKart, as well as our range of Mercedes, Land Rover and JCB product, so some exciting opportunities to follow up on. See you next year.” Malcolm Evans, Managing Director at Kids@Play “This was the busiest Toy Fair yet for Bladez. We announced our partnership with Mattel and Hot Wheels and that generated plenty of interest in Quad Racerz. “The show was also the perfect opportunity for me in my new role to meet media contacts and introduce them to the Bladez range. Overall the Toy Fair was a fantastic start to what’s going to be a very exciting year for us.” Vicki Marler-Hausen, Marketing Manager at Bladez Toyz “Toy Fair went incredibly well for us at GP Flair. As always expectation was high for the new Shopkins launches, while PJ Masks, Glimmies and the re-launch of Ben 10 were also major attractions. With all this and more, the stand was always full and a buzz was in the air.” Nic Aldridge, Marketing Director at GP Flair

“Following a very successful Toy Fair it was great to see all our respective partners and customers. Having announced several new partnerships for the year, we were thrilled at the positive response we had from our independent and multiple retail partners. “After moving our stand to a larger location, it was great to see how busy the stand was. We’d like to thank everyone who came and supported us at the show and we look forward to the year ahead.” Mark Hillier, Chief Executive Officer at Click Distribution

“We were delighted by the response we received to our new 2017 games and puzzles range and especially excited by the reaction to the new Jamie Raven Magic Sets. Having Raven on our stand to launch the range was a real boost and it was fantastic to see the event so well attended by the media and buyers. “This show is the start of the selection and buying process for all the retailers and all you can ask for is that the retailers come along, review the range and then request sensible quotes and samples, and that happened for us.” Richard Wells, Managing Director at Paul Lamond Games “Toy Fair was another brilliant success for Chicco, with fantastic attendance from all our retailers. Some of the standout products for us included the Lullaby Sheep night light and voice recording toy; the latest addition to the First Dreams range. “As ever our Fit ’N Fun range remained hugely popular, with our new addition Mr. Ring hoopla toy, proving very successful alongside the Food Truck.” Holly John, Marketing Manager at Chicco UK

“Toy Fair was one of the biggest for us yet and great to showcase all our new releases for this year. We welcomed the highest number of visitors to the stand in the last four years. “The unveiling of the new Falcon de luxe packaging received many positive comments, and this is already driving an increase in sales for customers. Lastly the announcement of over 100 plus new additions to our GOULA range was a big talking point.” Steven Russell, Senior Marketing Executive at Jumbo Games

“We had a fantastic response to all our new products. We also saw many existing and opened many new customer accounts. Response on the Mountain Mine and other railway line extensions from Hape was fantastic.” Christoph Bettin, Director of Marbel “As first time exhibitors, we were nervous, but excited to see what Toy Fair had in store for us. “We’ve met some wonderful people over the three days and have strong leads to follow up, which will take Myweetepee to the next level. We can’t wait to be back in 2018.” Kate Janach, Owner of Myweeteepee

“London Toy Fair was a huge success. We found there was a real buzz at the show for Pokémon and it was a big draw on our stand for our customers. “Another big success was the addition of Rory’s Story Cubes to our range, with Rory O’Connor himself attending to explain the game and run live demonstrations.” Ben Hogg, Marketing Manager at Esdevium Games March 15

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21/02/2017 11:34:01 21/02/2017 13:46


Games of New York

It’s the city that never sleeps, and with a flying visit to New York’s world famous International Toy Fair under its belt and still all a buzz following this annual festival of play, the ToyNews team hasn’t either. Robert Hutchins catches up with the TIA’s Steve Pasierb to talk about the growing toy trends excitng the US market this year


he International Toy Fair held in New York’s famed Javits Centre could not get any bigger. A giant Pikachu hangs suspended above a crowd of eager toy fanatics, food stalls line the walkway and a jazz band thrashes out a 12 hour freeform set to visitor numbers that, by its final day, would total over 30,000. This is a show that cannot and will not do anything by halves. Almost every inch of the centre’s 444,000 square feet is filled with the latest advances in toy innovation, creative thinking and game changing mind-sets that will fuel America’s booming toy industry over the next generation. Placed along New York City’s West Pier, the Javits Centre is a construct of bold, self-assured design, assembled from a sea of hundreds of glass panels that reflect the beauty of the Manhattan skyline. The International Toy Fair boasts an infectious excitement that, now, as it celebrates its 114th year, makes it one of the world’s most popular toy trade shows. So popular in fact, that when Steve Pasierb, CEO and president of the Toy Industry Association, the show’s organisers, says it could not get any bigger, for the next four years, he really means it.

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“There is actually no more room to grow the show,” Pasierb explains. “We have reached maximum capacity, helped by the 132 new companies from 31 countries that we have welcomed this year. This is great news for the show and the health of the US toy market, but also bad. Without the space, we can’t host further companies, a key point to the market’s international growth.” 2015 saw the US toy market grow by 6.7 per cent, while 2016 yielded an extra five per cent on top of that, and while the US may find itself in an era of uncertainty surrounding exchange rates, taxes, shipping policies

Despite it all, these are great days for the industry. Steve Pasierb, TIA and the general mental wellbeing of its own President, the industry’s creative community is far from affected.

“The toy community has become a global community,” continues Pasierb. “The dynamic of it is really changing and the international aspect is only going to get larger, so we need to accommodate that. “Plans are already in place to expand the Javits Centre and by 2021, we will be able to see actual growth of show space again.” The global toy industry is not just one of steady growth, but of constant evolution; something that is not only celebrated at the New York Toy Fair, but rightly heralded as the beacon of growth and change for the global community of creative thinkers and play experts. One of the biggest areas of growth within that – and one highlighted at the show’s annual Top Toy Trends summit is STEAM. “People have questioned whether tech is going to kill the toy industry,” continues Pasierb. “But we are seeing that tech and toys are coming together to make play experience better.

“Collectables are also big business at the moment, it was the number one growth category in 2016 and we are hopeful that we will see growth over the next few years, in what are really good days for the toy industry.” Walking the show floor itself highlights just what optimism there is surrounding the collectables market, with the likes of Moose Toys making particular noise in the sector with follow up lines to its hit Shopkins brand, while it was Funko and its Pop! vinyl range that won big at the 2017 Toy of the Year Awards. When asked about the next step in evolution for the global toy market, Pasierb believes we are in the early stages of seeing a revival for categories that have died out. “Retro toys are making a big comeback this year. Traditional toys getting updated with tech elements, reviving categories and appealing to new consumers as well as the parents and grandparents who experienced them the first time around.” Despite the economic worries being largely unanswerable for the time being, excitement for another stellar year for toys is unwavering. After all, it’s the forward thinking attitude encouraging the next generation of Young Americans, helping to shape a new future. March 17

22/02/2017 15:10


Diversifying the toy box

Ethnic diversity in toys today is still a massive talking point, with less toy shelves being filled with multicultural items. Now that one mother is looking to get more ethnic dolls in Toys R Us stores, Jade Burke speaks to retailers and key industry members to gauge why these toys are harder to come by


aking a look around toy stores today, it’s uncommon to see figures, play-sets and dolls that accuratley portray the diverse mixture of ethnicities present in current society. The fact that there are few ethnically diverse toys available for children of varied backgrounds to relate to is worrying. According to Census data for 2011 from the Office for National Statistics, the population throughout England and Wales has reached 56,075,912, with roughly 14 per cent representing individuals from non-white cultural backgrounds. Clearly there are more than enough people from different ethnic backgrounds in the UK for toy retailers and companies to reach out to, so why are we not seeing more diverse toys on the market? “I think that there is definitely space on our toy shelves for more ethnically diverse toys on the market,” Frances Cain, founder of A Girl For All Time, tells ToyNews. “Parents and carers are demanding more inclusive toys

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– look at how popular grassroots campaigns like #ToyLikeMe has been – and I think ethnic diversity needs to be, and should be, a part of the conversation too.” Cain is acting on this, after recently showcasing her latest Your Modern Girl doll, Bex at London Toy Fair. Bex is an African Caribbean girl and follows on from Cain’s first diverse doll Nisha, who is dual heritage Indian. “I am hoping that our interpretation of diverse dolls opens up some new conversations about what it means for children to have a wider representation in toys,” cites Cain. “We’ve taken a lot of time and done a lot of market research before designing our new black doll Bex, and from the comments from buyers, bloggers

and retailers at the Toy Fair it seems that we have really hit on something with the new range.” Mattel has also made waves with its iconic doll, Barbie, after introducing seven new skin tones, as well as varying eye colours and hairstyles, girls can relate to.

The latest Barbie dolls variety in body type, skin tones and style allows girls to find a doll that speaks to them Wendy Hill, Mattel “Barbie has always given girls choices – from her 180 careers, to inspirational roles, to her countless fashions and

accessories,” claims Wendy Hill, brand activation director at Mattel. “So these new dolls represent a line that is more reflective of the world girls see around them – the variety in body type, skin tones and style allows girls to find a doll that speaks to them.” And there is a clear demand for toys such as Cain’s and Mattel’s, as Phy McCarthy, mother to a five-year-old, is campaigning to get ‘Toys R Us to stock at least 14 per cent of their doll range with ethnic dolls by 2020’. Writing on her campaign page, McCarthy says: “My mixed-race five-year-old daughter wants a doll just like her, a true companion. To find a non-white doll for her involves numerous internet searches, likely to result in a US online purchase shipped taking

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between seven to ten days. Shopping for a white doll would take under 30 minutes. “My daughter asks, ‘why isn’t there a doll like me?’. Having easy access on the UK High Street will really make the difference to the ethnic diversity of the toy box.” Despite these progressive attitudes, not all retailers feel that this is an important issue. “Kids don’t see in black and white, just parents, and toys are for kids,” explains Matt Kenyon of Cumbria’s TuffGun. “We live in the UK and so shops stock according to the majority. If I ran a toy shop in Jamaica then I would stock almost exclusively black dolls, in the UK the dolls would be white. It’s common sense - as far as the kids are concerned a non-issue.”

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Similarly, Mitch Brown of Darth’s Hutt echoes Kenyon’s sentiment. Brown adds: “I don’t think ethnic diversity comes into play. Children don’t know the difference until they are either told or inquire why something is a different colour.” Despite these stances, there’s no doubt that children are starting to notice when a doll or play-set doesn’t offer a black version. Already there are some manufacturers who dedicate their toy collections to different ethnicities, for example Tonner One World develops a line called The Prettie Girls! Dolls, which offer kids dolls that are diverse in culture, interests and style. Elsewhere, Bee Moss has come up with the idea of Cutesy Girl Dolls based on the lack of variety of black dolls when shopping in

stores and online for her two daughters. With this in mind, the need for more multicultural toys from manufacturers seems entirely crucial. However, Dr Amanda Gummer, MD and founder of Fundamentally Children, warns that the introduction of more diverse products should be carried out much more naturally, as children in various parts of the UK who are less accustomed to diverse societies may not show a

huge interest in such toys. “With today’s society being much more fluid in terms of ethnicity, there should be less focus on having an ‘Asian’ or ‘African Carribbean’ toy, but more blended, versatile representations,” Gummer declares. “Children growing up in London will have a much wider experience of cultural diversity than a child growing up in a rural English village. Children like toys that they can relate to so there may be differences between the sales of toys across the country.” Retailers can of course choose to offer diverse toys, however Gummer believes that for change to happen, manufacturers need to take the lead on this. “At the end of the day, the toys need to sell, so manufacturers need to convince the retailers that they’ve done their homework and that the toys will be popular,” Gummer says. Similarly, Dave Carter, co-owner of The Arcade Toy Shop, is looking to manufacturers to spearhead this change. “I think manufacturers have to lead on this,” he explains. “It’s vital these days for children to be aware of diversity, as our society is becoming more diverse. Good parenting and education has to take the lead.” The industry has come on leaps and bounds to acknowledge the need for ethnic diversity, however more needs to be done to ensure retailers jump on board and stock such items. “It’s vital children are aware of other cultures, religious backgrounds, and ethnic groups if we want a kinder and more understanding world to live in,” concludes Cain. “Toys can often be the first step to learning those types of social values.” March 19

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With gaming overtaking film as the largest entertainment industry in the world, there has never been a better time to embrace the cross-generational appeal of licensed video games product. With more game franchises pushing into the toys space, Jack Ridsdale examines why this growing market has not yet cracked the mainstream. 20 March

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hen it comes to licensed products, movies and kids’ television shows still rule the roost, with Disney, Marvel and Star Wars toys lining the shelves and selling gangbusters all year round. But while the icons of passive media rake in millions year on year, the video game industry has quietly crept up and overtaken film as the most profitable entertainment industry in the world. As of 2015, the videogames industry, worldwide was worth a staggering $118.6 billion. While certain brands like Minecraft and Nintendo have begun to push into the toy market in a big way, the vast majority of lucrative licenses still remain untapped. The market is showing

such potential that Brand Licensing Europe has highlighted it as a main target area for their trade show this year. “We’re really excited about gaming being a key focus of BLE this year,” explains Mathilde Le Borgne of Brand Licensing Europe, “According to LIMA, the licensing gaming industry has grown 10 per cent in the last year alone and is now worth over $16.6bn globally so there is amazing potential for gaming brands.” BLE will even introduce a brand new Gaming Activation Zone to show, aiming to attract more big names from the world of games. “We’re also noticing growing interest from retailers who are asking us which gaming brands will be at the show,” adds Le Borgne, “which is why we’ve decided to

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launch a whole host of gaming initiatives; we can’t say more for now but watch this space.” While videogame franchises have not successfully crossed into the toy market, toys have begun to cross over to videogames in a huge way due to the Toys to Life genre. LEGO has always had a strong foothold in the games industry with its various licensed platformer games but lately the company has taken cues from Skylanders and Minecraft with LEGO Dimensions and LEGO Worlds. Dimensions sits firmly in the ‘Toys to Life’ category, while Worlds is a building game akin to Minecraft, which itself owes a great debt to LEGO with its building-based gameplay. Conversely, licensed videogame products remain relatively niche. Fledgling apparel firms like Insert Coin have begun to cater to this lucrative but untapped market. One such firm that has placed its stakes in video game-based products is J!NX, with apparel and toy ranges based on such hit video games as Minecraft, The Witcher and Rocket League. We caught up with Sean Gailey, co-founder of J!NX to find out why gamers are hungry for merchandise. “As a hardcore gamer myself, I am constantly looking for ways to celebrate my love of gaming,” explains Gailey, “Products relating to video games, like the ones we create here at J!NX, give fans a means to expressing their love of gaming with those around them.” While you are sure to find J!NX’s popular Witcher 3 Geralt figure on the shelves of your local GAME, you are unlikely to find it on the shelves of your local Toymaster. However, one video game franchise that has now become a triple threat with movies, TV shows and merchandise is addictive mobile action game Angry Birds. SCS Direct have recently inked a deal with Rovio to produce toys based on the franchise who joins a raft of other licensees. “Our company owner, was an avid Angry Birds player who was interested in the franchise,” explains Alison Centorino from SCS, “The widespread popularity

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of the Angry Birds game as well as the spring 2016 movie release increased the franchise’s brand recognition tremendously. As a result, Angry Birds has grown further through a wide variety of licensed products ranging from kitchen products to pool toys.” “Licensing agencies can take advantage of the growth of video games by partnering with well-known licenses that have established brand recognition,” continued Centorino, “TV and movie franchises have gained

Games licensing has exploded because it’s the biggest industry in entertainment. It makes more money than film, more money than music. Sandra Arcan, Bits & Pixels more popularity than video game franchises since movies and TV shows appeal to a greater audience. In addition, TV shows and movies are advertised more frequently and, as a result, they reach a larger audience.” Another franchise that has found massive success with this three-pronged attack of content is the Pokémon franchise. “It was always The Pokémon Company’s intention that it should expand its origins, and the three pillars of gaming, trading cards and animation are central to the brand’s ongoing success,” explains Mathieu Galante, senior market development manager Europe at Pokémon, “Collecting and battling translate really well into toys and consumer products.” Off the back of global phenomenon Pokémon Go and Sun & Moon,

the franchise enjoyed one of its most successful years to date. “According to figures recorded by the NPD Group Toys retail tracking service, the Pokémon property recorded a 285 per cent increase in sales throughout last year against market growth of six per cent in the whole UK toy market,” adds Galante, “In the past three months, Pokémon increased sales by 512 per cent versus the 7.7per cent market growth. Not only that but, in the Christmas week, the Pokémon Trading Card Game acheived a 737.6 per cent increase on the previous year.” While competitors like Yo-Kai Watch have begun to emerge, no other videogame property has reached the highs of this skyrocketing brand. Fledgling video game licensing firm Bits & Pixels believes that properties like Overwatch have the potential to give Pokémon a run for its money. This new agency has recently signed a deal with gaming giant, Blizzard, the publisher behind such juggernauts as World of Warcraft and Overwatch. With the goal of bringing video game products to the mainstream, the firm is eager to tap into the power of toy giants. “There’s more a focus on getting a master toy licencee on-board,” explains Sandra Arcan of Bits & Pixels, when quizzed on trends within video game licensing. “There’s been ones for Halo and a great many franchises. There’s going to be more brands going for a Master Toy

license, like getting a Mattel or a Hasbro to do a full toy range, rather than just getting

Hot Toys or collectable high-end statues or figurines. They’re going Mattels and for the Hasbros of this world, some of these big toy companies that don’t typically go for games brands. I see there being more traditional toy ranges out there.” Sandra continued to expand on the growing popularity of video game licenses, saying: “It’s only right that games licensing has exploded because it’s the biggest industry in entertainment. It makes more money than film and music. These brands are so beautiful; they should be represented with merchandise.” But what would it take to get retailers to embrace video games? On January 10th ToyNews reported that Jazwares would be turning free-to-play online game Roblox into a toy line and saw traffic spike significantly. The intensely dedicated fanbases for games like Roblox and Minecraft are champing at the bit for any toys, making it the perfect crossover product, especially given the young age range of the game’s audience. Su-Yina Farmer of Bits & Pixels explains that with many games being digital and free to play, fans crave a physical representation of their passion. “Having collectables, if they really love a game, it’s a cool way for them to say they really like it,” adds Farmer. “Even if they don’t want the plastic box. If you like a game, you want to have something physical too.” With so many lucrative properties going untapped, it seems a no-brainer for licensing firms to get their stakes in with game licenses while they can. For retailers, it’s time to start paying attention to this blooming art form. Bringing the biggest names in gaming from the specialist shops to mainstream stores is a challenge that may hold great reward for those daring enough to attempt it. Game on.

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Consumer demand for Five Nights at Freddy’s rockets Pop culture specialist Forbidden Planet has labelled the video gaming property as one to watch for 2017 with collectables and plush storming the market, and appeal crossing both the children’s and adult market BY ROBERT HUTCHINS


roduct demand for the popular cult app game Five Nights at Freddy’s has rocketed, according to retailer, Forbidden Planet. The property – once billed as an adult gaming title, inciting fear among players as they journey through a haunted pizza restaurant – has found itself crossing over into the children’s market, driving demand for more product than ever. The property now spans plush items and collectables figures from Funko Pop!, which are distributed across the UK by Underground Toys, as well as a new family party game title from Character Options, scheduled to hit shelves later this year.

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Grown from an underground community of digital gamers, the title has shot to fame among children and adults alike. Specialist retailer Forbidden Planet has seen such an increase in demand for products, including

I am excited to see how it grows over 2017, especially with other licensed Five Nights categories. Omar Khan, Forbidden Planet collectables and toys, that it now tips the property to become ‘one to watch’ for the coming year. “Five Nights at Freddy’s has skyrocketed for us,” Omar Khan,

licensing and special projects manager at retailer Forbidden Planet, told ToyNews. “Product demand climbed quickly, especially in terms of plush and toys. It still manages to surprise us, because the content seems so distinctly ‘adult’ but I guess everyone likes to be scared.” Khan has gone on to describe the appeal of the Five Nights at Freddy’s, encouraging retailers to maximise on the rising property while it is in its relative infancy. “Five Nights at Freddy’s is a great crossover IP – it’s hard to think of an IP that started in the horror genre and ticked boxes for adult/child demographics so quickly,” he continued. “I am excited to see how it grows over 2017, especially as other licensed Five Nights categories like

board games, build kits and action figures enter the market.” Created by video game developer Scott Cawthon, Five Nights at Freddy’s is a survival horror mystery game set in Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza restaurant. Players must act as a night security guard, defending themselves from malfunctioning animatronics. The title is just the latest to rise to fame from the pop culture scene, following the likes of Minecraft and the emerging Roblox, a digital community game that has recently launched a new toy line via Jazwares. “The rise in demand for pop culture products has been huge in recent years,” continued Khan. “We are in a golden age for it, making for Forbidden Planet’s best year to date in 2016.”

March 23

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Hasbro signs global master license for Moon and Me

As the global master toy and game licensee, Hasbro plans to launch its line based on the Moon and Me series in 2018 under its Playskool brand in the UK, with additional markets to follow as the series rolls out worldwide BY JACK RIDSDALE


asbro has been named master toy licensee for new pre-school series Moon and Me, from Andrew Davenport’s Foundling Bird portfolio. The agreement was signed with Sutikki, the new kids and family division of Bento Box Entertainment to create play experiences for children based on the new, original pre-school series. Inspired by well-loved tales of toys that come to life when nobody is looking, Moon and Me is the story of a friendship between two

characters from different worlds. The show aims to combine the latest production methods with traditional storytelling, comedy and music to create a picture-book world for today’s pre-schoolers. “We are thrilled to team up with Sutikki to help bring Foundling Bird’s amazing Moon and Me series to life through our upcoming pre-school product line,” said Samantha Lomow, senior vice president at Hasbro Brands. “We are truly inspired by Andrew Davenport’s prestigious background and unique creative vision for the Moon and Me series, and can’t wait to add this exciting

new property to our growing Playskool portfolio.” Andrew Kerr, co-founder of Sutikki, added: “We are very excited to announce Hasbro as our global master toy licensee for Moon and Me.”

Davenport also expressed his excitement for the partnership, revealing Hasbro is the ‘perfect’ partner for the toys. “Hasbro is the perfect choice of partner for Moon and Me and I’m thrilled that the Playskool team will be bringing their creativity and expertise to the brand.” Moon and Me will air on BBC’s CBeebies in the UK in early 2018. As the global master toy and game licensee, Hasbro plans to launch its line based on the Moon and Me series in 2018 under its Playskool brand in the UK, with additional markets to follow as the series rolls out worldwide.

Smiley finds happiness with new Simba Dickie collectable toys The company has revealed that the toy and gifting market is crucial to the brand, and hope to extend on its latest deal with toy manufacturer Simba Dickie, who is producing a line of collectables and pocket money toys BY JADE BURKE After announcing the launch of a new collectables range with toy manufacturer Simba Dickie, The Smiley Company is already in the midst of developing a second line. Boasting 50 expressive Smiley icons that double as pencil toppers and suction cups, as well as pocket money toys including slinkys, bubbles, sticker sheets, frisbees, water squirters, bat and balls, yoyos, a connect four game and even wall mounting glow in the dark Smileys, the collection is nothing but varied. “We have high expectations. With a million blind packs in the

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initial launch we are already working with Simba on development of the next collection,” Matt Winton, marketing director, at The Smiley Company, told ToyNews. “I think our icons lend themselves perfectly to collectables, and consumers are totally engaged with the need to express their emotions today.” With an extensive TV advertising campaign set to roll out alongside in-store POS, Smiley believes the collection will make a huge impact at retail. “Simba are such experts at understanding their market and executing amazing packaging,

point of sale concepts that the product will sing on the shopfloor,” explained Winton. With the launch and partnership with Simba coinciding with Smiley’s 20th anniversary year, Winton is hopeful that the firm will be able to bring the toys to the UK market in the future. Winton cited: “I’m fairly confident it will happen as there are plenty of opportunities with the UK’s leading retailers and Smiley right now. “Toys and gifts are a key growth area for us and we are already enjoying the launch of

new licensees and products across multiple categories that include Norris Spiele, Scholastic, Zak! Designs and Nici.”

22/02/2017 15:49


The magic touch In 2015, Jamie Raven became a household name when he wowed the Britain’s Got Talent judges panel with his unique magic tricks. Raven has now taken to the world of toys, teaming up with Paul Lamond Games to bring his special brand of magic to households and parties across the nation with four new magic sets. Jack Ridsdale sits down with Jamie Raven to find out the story behind the magic


alk us through the four magic sets on offer. So magic is split between four different genres and what we’ve tried to do is condense them into four basic sets. So we’ve got Card Magic and within that you learn lots of different skills that can be applied to other tricks. Then you’ve got Magic of the Mind, which is what some people call mind reading. It’s a psychological illusion – magic without the sleight of hand. It’s looking at the psychology behind magic and basically giving the illusion that you can read people’s minds. Sleight of Hand looks at the physical skills that you can use as a magician. Finally, you’ve got Street Magic which is magic used with everyday objects. Within each set there’s a link to the website and I, myself explain how each trick works and offer up my experience of my last 15 years professionally.

then I went on a show called Britain’s Got Talent. After that, I was introduced to Paul Lamond and we had a chat to come up with an idea for a set. The main ethos behind these sets is that I’m going to teach you these skills. It’s not just the props in the box. So that’s what I pitched to Paul Lamond and they said yes. We came up with hundreds of different tricks, worked out which ones would work best for each box and months later, here we are.

How did the partnership with Paul Lamond come about? I had been performing magic professionally for 11 years and

What is the creative process like for creating a new magic set? Magic is like playing an instrument, you have to learn other people’s

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you’re only ever standing on the shoulders of giants. Can you explain the key to a great magic trick? The plot has to be simple. It’s like selling a good movie script – you need to be able to sum it up in one sentence. For me the best tricks are when the magician has made the person do something without them knowing that they’re doing it. tricks to acquire the skills and then you can go and create your own things. So basically, if you’ve never done any magic before and you pick up one of these sets you’ll get the knowledge and understanding of how it works. What magicians or performers have influenced and inspired you in the past? When I grew up, Paul Daniels was still on the TV and more recently we had David Blaine and Dynamo. My favourite is Derren Brown, who in my opinion is the greatest English magic performer of all time. In America, you’ve got David Copperfield and of course Penn & Teller. In any art form, you’re only where you are now because of those that have gone before you,

Is there one trick in particular that you are most proud of? The one that means the most to me, which is one I‘ll never talk about, is the card trick I did in my audition for Britain’s Got Talent. The judges thought of a card and the stick man on the card animates and finds the card. Because that’s the trick that changed my life, that will always be my favourite. Do you have plans for additional magic sets to launch into retail in the future? We’re hoping at Christmas time we’ll have a deluxe set, which will include a lot of new stuff. These four sets are what I call close-up tricks and within the new bigger set I’ll be introducing some tricks that you could do for a crowd.

March 25

22/02/2017 16:09


Anatomy of a blockbuster toy:

Power Rangers A franchise that Mighty Morphed its way into the hearts of a generation some 20 years ago, the Power Rangers continues to be a mainstay of the toy industry. With a new TV series and a movie on the way this month, Robert Hutchins explores what makes Saban and Bandai’s powerhouse property the blockbuster it is


he borrowing of sensibilities from Eastern mythology and legend to fuel the billion dollar Hollywood culture of the West is no new concept. From the rise of Japanese anime and the likes of Pokémon and its venerable success across the UK and US, to the Hollywood adaptations of box office smash hits like Godzilla or dare we say it, The Ring – it is a tradition that has swept generations on end. However, none have been quite so impactful or impressionable upon the UK and US toy industries as that of Power Rangers, a cultural phenomenon among youngsters and adult fans alike that has spanned no fewer than four decades. Power Rangers, without doubt or hyperbole, has become a mainstay of the UK toy space, and even a quick look at the NPD’s top ten action figure properties of the last, say, 20 years will prove this to be more than true. Under the guidance of the toy industry giant Bandai, Power Rangers has been named the number one property in the action figure category no fewer than five times and during its 23-year run as master toy partner for the hit series, the firm has managed to shift a staggering 225 million Power Ranger action figures to fans to date. And given the often brutal competiveness of the action figure market, particularly at a time when

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big, toy brand led movies flood the cinemas and toy shelves alike, is a hugely impressive achievement. Having been created some 40 years ago by Japan’s Toei, Power Rangers – or to give it its original title, Super Sentai – is a series steeped in rich cultural heritage. In a process spanning more than two decades, Saban has westernised this original, karateinfluenced content, delivering the Power Rangers, in the many forms the show has taken over 20 years, to new markets across the globe. And with Bandai working closely alongside the firm, the toy line has been propelled into the heady heights of populism with such resolve that Power Rangers’ title of a blockbuster brand is one thoroughly deserved. But what is it about the property that makes it such a hit with children for the last 20 years, and how, particularly now, in an era of digital and technological advancement among toys, has Power Rangers maintained its position as an iconic, market leading toy brand? “Although brands and trends come and go over the years, children have consistently aspired to characters with super powers that save the world from the bad guys,” Tess Parsons-Broome, Power Rangers product manager at Bandai, tells ToyNews. “Power Rangers offers children their first superhero experience and with the recent dominance of superhero movies, the audience

tuning in to watch the show is skewing younger than ever. “The brand is now at a stage of its lifecycle where original Mighty Morphin fans have children of their own, meaning the programme is as relevant as ever with an air of nostalgia.” It seems then, that Power Rangers transcends generations, which goes someway to explain why Bandai’s latest

22/02/2017 10:10


Power Rangers toy and product offering features everything from action figures, play-set and role-play items, through to high end collectable items, targeting the show’s avid adult fan base. The Power Rangers have come a long way since they first roundhouse kicked kids’ TV into a new era of all-out action some 20 years ago here in the UK. What were once Mighty Morphin’ spandexwearing martial artists has undergone numerous incarnations and transformations that has spanned the prehistoric, with Power Rangers Dino Charge and is now set to glide into 2017 with the latest refresh, Power Rangers Ninja Steel. However, Parsons-Broome insists that while the look and feel of the series over the past two decades may have evolved, the heart of the brand has remained vastly unchanged. “While the programme’s themes are ever-changing, the brand and toy line have consistently maintained a winning formula that keeps kids entertained while creating demand for toys that mirror the Power Rangers, weapons and Megazords seen across the TV show,” she continued.

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“Power Rangers has had a consistent presence in toy aisles for the past 20 years and while offering similar play patterns to other action figure properties, the brand has always differentiated itself in a number of ways.” For example, Power Rangers is currently the only live action show on kids’ TV, making for one very heavy weight unique selling point. And while the content may follow that narrative of good versus evil, evolving themes spanning dinosaurs to ninjas, means the show will always resonate with a changing audience and trend. Not only has the property maintained a position in the top ten action figures, according to the NPD, for the past 23 years, but the latest series Dino Super Charge is currently the number one show on

2017 sees the launch of an awesome new Megazord toy – the largest and most feature packed playset ever seen from the brand. Tess Parsons-Broome, Bandai the POP Channel, and has a track record of consistently performing as a top three programme for boys aged four to nine across commercial channels. “Bandai has always strived to develop world-class action figures and role-play toys that closely reflect this popular content, while innovating key product features to keep up with current trends and maintain freshness” explains Parsons-Broome.

“2017 sees the launch of an awesome new Megazord toy – the largest and most feature packed play-set ever seen from the brand. With toy sales experiencing such extensive growth, the show gaining unprecedented traction on POP and the movie bringing in new audiences, 2017 is the time for us to go even bigger and better.” Yes, that is correct. And unless you have been living in a social media blackout for the past 12 months, you will already know that this year sees the arrival of the Power Rangers’ big screen outing, with a blockbusting new feature length title. Scheduled for release this March, the big budget movie from Lionsgate is fast approaching with the aim of delivering an out and out action movie that will appeal to a wide audience of fans. “The movie has not only given us an excellent opportunity to broaden and age-up our target audience, helping to make the brand both aspirational and relevant to older kids, but the toy range will be incremental to our current business and we fully expect to see a halo effect across the TV series and toy range,” says Parsons-Broome. It’s an encouraging prospect for retailers; a new arm to the brand that will no doubt drive new audiences into toy shops. Parsons-Broome continues: “We have actually encouraged retailers to view the TV series and movie as two separate sub-brands and this will be reflected at a retail level in terms of dedicated space on shelf and point of sale branding.” Albeit the third film in the Power Rangers franchise, the new movie has been billed as a reboot of the classic Mighty Morphin Power Rangers of historical fame.

With an all-new cast of characters for fans to meet, the 2017 release aims to achieve standout from the tranche of superhero movies released over the last five or so years. Supported by a rich heritage spanning both Eastern and Western culture over the last 40 years, Power Rangers certainly promises to bring something new to the increasingly crowded table. But then, according to ParsonsBroome, Power Rangers always has, and at a time in which the presence of strong female leads within the superhero movies of today is under close scrutiny, she is quick to note that Power Rangers is a brand that has always been forward thinking. “Power Rangers is one of the only brands within its category to promote strong female leads, and these characters have always been present within the vast toy range,” she explains. “With female superheroes becoming more and more prominent, other action figure brands have followed suit by introducing these characters into their product lines.” Of course, we will avoid mentioning the names, but a certain social media hashtag campaign does leap to mind. So, with a new series and movie scheduled for release alongside an extensive new line of toys tapping into not only the kids’ but adult collector’s market too, Bandai appears to have all the boxes ticked in order to continue the success of the Power Rangers for another 23 years. “It’s a very exciting time to be working on the Power Rangers brand and we are all eager to see what this year will bring,” ParsonsBroome concludes. March 27

22/02/2017 10:10



Pixlplay aims to kickstart pre-school photography Founded by American entrepreneur JP Stoops, Kickstarter campaign Pixlplay hopes to bring innovation to the toy aisle with its toy and app hybrid that aims to make photography accessible and fun for children and families BY JACK RIDSDALE


n February 8th a new Kickstarter campaign was launched by US entrepreneur JP Stoops, to bring his creation – The Pixlplay Camera – to life. Aimed at three to 10 yearolds, the product hopes to bring photography to kids and families in an innovative way by combining a durable toy-like smart phone shell with a kid-friendly photography app. The shell will fit most modern iPhone and Android handsets and is designed with the intention of fitting various old smartphones that families may have lying around the house. Stoops stated that the product is a way of teaching kids the skills of photography, while having fun in a safe and affordable way.

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“We’re on a mission to make toys that make use of the smartphone, while encouraging creative and active play,” Stoops told ToyNews. “The vision is to build a range of products that embrace the power

The vision is to build a range of products that embrace the power of tech to inspire realworld play, teach problem solving and encourage creativity. JP Stoops, Pixlplay of technology to inspire real-world play, teach problem solving and encourage creativity.”

At the time of writing, the Kickstarter campaign has reached its goal of $25, 000 and Stoops and co have big plans for the future of the brand. “We’ve got a pipeline of products ready to go based on many of the classic best sellers that work with the smartphone,” said Stoops. “Our future products go into other core learning and cognitive skills like maths. We see ourselves at the intersection of physical and digital play.” The Pixlplay team hopes to bring something new to the UK’s toy shelves, identifying it as the biggest target market outside of their home turf. “The UK market will be one of our biggest priorities outside North America,” continued Stoops. “We hope to bring innovation to the toy isle. The kids’ camera

hasn’t been re-invented for years, it’s been the same old, low resolution, poor quality cameras that sell year after year.” The fact that this product encourages children to go outside could be seen as a healthy alternative to toys and devices that facilitate sedentary play indoors. The success of apps like Pokémon Go proves that there is a market for this kind of active play all over the world, which is something that many parents would like to see more of. “Kids are eager to shoot their own photos and play with images,” added Stoops. “Pixlplay teaches these skills in a safe and fun way. Despite having a depleted bank account, working on this product has been one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life.” Pixlplay: 415 992 1076

22/02/2017 15:52


Lamaze takes centre stage for TOMY’s pre-school push Following the successful return to growth for the brand last year, Lamaze will be the focus of a big budget marketing push throughout 2017 with a range of new products, spanning parents and retailers alike BY ROBERT HUTCHINS


OMY is expecting to see its leading infant and preschool brand, Lamaze, achieve big things in the sector this year. The firm has detailed its plans to place the brand at the centre of a big budget marketing campaign, following the successful turnaround of the pre-school line throughout 2016. Having returned the range to growth over the course of last year, TOMY is doubling its efforts with what it has labelled a ‘huge parenting media partnership,’ that will scale digital and social media, new partnerships and a wealth of in-store activations for the brand.

“After our efforts to return Lamaze to growth in 2016, we are excited for what 2017 has in store,” Pedro Souza, UK brand manager at TOMY, told ToyNews. “Lamaze is our top priority and we’ll continue to allocate a big budget and put the full strength of our marketing teams behind the brand and support new launches to ensure we continue to lead in the infant toy market.” Lamaze will be expanding its product development throughout S/S this year with new lines bringing sounds, colours and textures to pre-school play with the Mini Teether Assortment, Ellie the Elephant, Oscar the Penguin and Freddie the Firefly.

“We are confident to bring strong and exciting lines

in the beginning of the summer, too,” continued Souza. Lamaze is launching three new Clip and Go characters, which bring new developmental features to the range and expand its popular activity toy segment with another three new releases: Repeat Petey, Stacking Starseeker and Cosimo Concerto. “There is excitement around the latest Lamaze updates, the early reactions to Lamaze hidden surprises and special features from our new clip and go collection and activity range are sure to continue to put Lamaze at the heart of bonding moments between parents and children,” Souza added.

STEM drawing aid FollowGrams sets sights on UK The New York based tech toy developer has detailed its plans to take its app-connected projector, which teaches kids the basics of drawing, to the European and UK markets following a successful Kickstarter project BY ROBERT HUTCHINS An app-connected STEM toy that teaches kids how to draw and write has set its sights on the UK preschool market. Called FollowGrams, the tech projector teaches kids the basics of drawing, while putting them hands on with app-connected tech play by sending their own photos to the projector to draw. Created by the New Yorkbased tech team, Flycatcher,

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the FollowGrams product is currently live on crowdfunding site Kickstarter, a move that according to Shay Chen, Flycatcher founder and CEO, has helped build an international fanbase around the FollowGrams brand. Speaking at New York Toy Fair, Chen has told ToyNews that the company now has its sights firmly on launching the product to the European and UK market, and is currently looking for partners to take on distribution duties.

“We would like to see FollowGrams go global,” said Chen. “We have had fantastic response from people at the show and via our Kickstarter campaign, a project that has already secured over $15,000 with the best part of a month still to go. “We hope that we will have partners across Europe by this year so that we can bring the FollowGrams projector to kids across the globe.”

With the added benefit of an SD card within the projector, kids can learn how to draw any image they send to the FollowGrams unit. Chen added: “In the future we plan to add content card expansions that will contain educational content, such as spelling, programming basics and more educational games.”

March 29

22/02/2017 11:18


REWARDING THE PEOPLE BEHIND THE COMPANIES The Licensing People Awards are the UK’s only licensing awards that recognise the individuals and teams who have nurtured and established brands over the past 12 months. Join us for drinks, canapes and celebrations!



2017 AWARD CATEGORIES · Retail Buying Team of the Year (Major/Multiple) · Retail Buying Team of the Year (Independent/SMB) · Rising Star Licensee · Rising Star Licensor · Licensing Agent of the Year · Licensing Solutions Team of the Year · Unsung Hero · Brand Extension & Beyond · Licensee Team of the Year · Licensor Team of the Year (Enterprise) · Licensor Team of the Year (SMB) · Licensing Deal of the Year · Manager of the Year · Outstanding Contribution to Licensing

Sponsorship Enquiries: Sophia Jaques +44 (0)207 354 6020 Marketing Enquiries: Abby French +44 (0)203 871 7370 Ticket Enquiries: Maeve Nicholson +44 (0)203 871 7383

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@Licensingbiz #licensingpeopleawards 21/02/2017 09:59

Retail Only




The Entertainer to increase own label output for 2017 The firm’s founder has revealed that increased shelf space for own label toys and games is amongst its 2017 expansion plans, but not to the detriment of suppliers who remain ‘critical to the success of the business’ BY ROBERT HUTCHINS


nternationally renowned toy retailer, The Entertainer has outlined its plans to increase shelf space for its own label products over the coming year. Talking exclusively with ToyNews, Gary Grant, founder of the UK’s fastest growing multichannel retailer, has revealed that among its many plans for expansion within the UK and globally, part of this is to develop in-house toys and games. “This is an area of investment in time and money that we are putting a lot of focus on, this won’t be off piste, own label product, but good-quality, well produced and well-sourced product at excellent value for money sold exclusively by The Entertainer,” he told ToyNews. The plan was detailed among hints that the industry can expect to see ‘more of the same’ from the retailer in terms of its international expansion that recently saw The Entertainer open two new UK stores in Truro and Northampton. However, Grant has been quick to point out that while increased shelf space will be given to own


Stuart Grant, The Entertainer

Geoff Sheffiled, The Toy Store

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label toy and games over the next year, it will not take precedence

A real worry is that there are some very non-commercial decisions being made in the pricing of toys by some grocers today. Gary Grant, The Entertainer over the suppliers The Entertainer already works with.

“This by no means will replace our mainstream suppliers, they are all critical to us,” he added. “And we most definitely will not become an unpriced retailer of unbranded toys, that is not our intention at all.” The move is part of the company’s ongoing efforts to maintain high levels of footfall within its High Street stores over the coming year, highlighting that getting consumers into shops, rather than online shopping, is key to driving sales through unique offerings and customer service. “Customer service is absolutely critical. It doesn’t matter how

cheaply you brought something, if it is the wrong toy for the wrong person or the wrong age group, the customer always loses out,” continued Grant. Speaking on the topic of this past Christmas’ pricing war between major grocers, Grant is adamant that while The Entertainer will always remain competitively priced in the retail scene, entering such heavy discounting on popular items is simply not commercial. “The problem is, there are some very non-commercial decisions being made in the pricing of toys. If the playing field was level, we would see stabilisation of toy prices,” he said. “I am optimistic as to how 2017 is going to be, with the backdrop of the uncertainty around Brexit and currency exchange rates. I am not worried about the products we have this year, but I am worried about pricing. We are toy retailers and therefore toys have to be profitable. Otherwise we are not.”

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

Linzi Walker, Argos

Brian Simpson, Toytown

Clare Barton, Sainsbury’s

Neil Mitchell, Shop Direct

Annalise Quest, Harrods

Steph Strike, Asda

Ben Redhead, Firebox

Alphonse Madamombe, Maplin

Helen Gourley, Toy Hub

Miles Penhallow, Play-Room

Karla Mitchell, XBite

March 31

22/02/2017 16:16


Mystery Shopper: Worcester

This month, ToyNews’ Mystery Shopper puts five toy shops in this midlands city through their paces to see if this quiet town could offer up a top-shelf shopping experience on par with southern city High Streets

Hawkin’s Bazaar CrownGate Shopping Centre, Friary Walk, Worcester

Toys & Games 47 Broad St, Worcester The first thing that struck me about Toys & Games of Worcester was just how lively it was for a dreary Friday afternoon. In the age of online shopping, it was heartening to see this relatively cosy store, bustling with paying customers. As I perused the shelves I took note of the variety of product on offer here, from chart-topping LEGO to Star Wars to obscure board games (I almost spilled my coffee when I found a board game based on DOOM).

Once an enthusiastic customer had moved on I inquired with a member of staff about what toys would be suitable for my nonexistent eight year old nephew. The staff member smiled wide at the question and was more than happy to walk me through the shop and recommend the top selling LEGO sets as well as personally recommending a selection of Star Wars themed art sets, that would be perfect for any creatively inclined youngster.

Verdict: With an enticingly varied selection of high quality licensed/pop-culture products and friendly staff, Toys & Games was a great first stop on my shopping journey.

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A stone’s throw from Toys & Games was toys and gifts store Hawkin’s Bazaar. Again, I was greeted at the door by a smiling member of staff as a handful of curious kids milled around, taking in the range of curiously quirky gifts and games lining the appealingly colourful store. A number of products caught my eye, including a range of RC cars and drones, colourful lamps, party-oriented games, science and acitivity sets alongside

a small range of licensed memorabilia. The member of staff on hand was more than happy to help me out, buying my ‘clueless gift buyer’ act. The attentive staff member seemed fresh to the job, but offered me sincere and helpful advice, talking me through the range of hi-tech toys and traditional games, she even went on to name some other shops that might be of interest to me – A for effort!

Verdict: With a unique and compelling range of products, as well as a robust online presence, this was a great shopping experience, boosted by the sincere and upbeat staff.


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Wise Owl Toys 5 Charles St, Worcester

The Entertainer 16 The Shambles, Worcester Being one of the country’s largest toy shop chains I expected The Entertainer to be a rather different experience to the two stores I had just visited and upon my entry I was quickly proven right. The store was moderately busy for a weekday afternoon but considering the larger size of the store I was surprised to see less staff on hand. A lone cashier had her hands full serving customers at the tills and only one other member of staff could be

spotted, hurriedly restocking shelves, perhaps suggesting the efficiency with which a national chain like this is run. The products on display here were typically varied, offering all the usual suspects from PAW Patrol to Shopkins to superheroes and Pokémon. The advice given was wellinformed but considerably less detailed than I had received at Hawkins, as the staff member seemed eager to get back to his other tasks around the shop.

Verdict: The range here was varied and reasonably priced but the setting lacked the warm atmosphere of other shops in the area. An average shopping experience.


Hide & Geek 10 Reindeer Court, Mealcheapen Street, Worcester

The last stop of my tour was a shop I was particularly excited to check out, given my affinity for all things geeky. However, it didn’t take me long to realise I was out of my depth in Hide & Geek. An awkward feeling came over me as I entered and noticed that the only other people in the store were highly engrossed in a very complicated sounding card game, as if I was intruding on a club I hadn’t been invited to. Nevertheless I began my routine

of exploring my surroundings and found the walls lined with Funko Pop! Figures, trading cards and action figures. I tried to catch the attention of a member of staff but to no avail. Reluctantly I interrupted the game, and enquired as to if a member of staff could help me. A smiling gentleman arose from the table and proceeded to hear my inquiry. He offered some advice but I couldn’t shake the feeling that he was eager to return his game.

Verdict: To share interests over board games and comics, this is a brilliant place to spend your time but unfortunately for the average gift-buyer it’s an impenetrable scene.

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Now this one stands out. From the moment I stepped into Wise Owl I knew I was in for something special. The shop was quiet, which allowed me to take my time and take in what the shop had to offer. Unlike the other shops I had seen, this one focussed on STEM toys and games, with a lot of really exciting, imaginative products. The staff member on duty, gladly left her post at the till to help me pick out a toy, asking me all the important questions, like the age of the child, his interests

etc. I concocted a believable foil: the lad loves his dinosaurs. With this information in hand, the staff member walked around the store pointing out the most popular products and personal favourites identifying any that fit the criteria. I was delighted to learn that the shop also hosts events during school holidays where families can come in and play their sizable range of games. It was lovely to see the enthusiasm and passion on show here and a great range of original products besides.

Verdict: Wise Owl was a breath of fresh air, with some unique products that really make you think. Most important of all was the knowledge and passion on display here.

Summary Being a small city, Worcester has a great range of independent toy shops, each one catering to slightly different niche, in addition to the usual suspects like Argos, The Entertainer and supermarket chains. There was a definite lean towards licensed products, with pop-culture and geek gear becoming ever more popular. Toys & Games did a good job bringing kids and adults together with a good mixture of adult –oriented memorabilia and board games with kids favourites like LEGO, Scalextric and Hornbys. Hawkins Bazaar did an equally admirable job bringing different audiences together with a gifts varying from family-oriented games to RC vehicles and fun homeware items. Wise Owl stands out from the crowd with its unique line-up focusing on STEM


products and toys and games with an educational slant. This establishment gained extra points for the in-store events it holds periodically, giving kids and families much needed activities during school holidays. The Entertainer didn’t offer much in the way of surprises but the stock was predictably diverse and far-reaching. Staff were clearly knowledgeable happy to help but the demands of running the most popular toy shop on the high street meant that they weren’t able to lavish me with as much of their time as other shops in the area. Finally, Hide & Geek provided yet another contrasting experience, with this shop being much more geared towards young adults already well engrossed in geek subculture. While the shop stocked a good range of pop-culture toys, it was a less than welcoming setting for a newcomer.

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The Toy Trust roars into 2017 and looks forward to its 25th anniversary year Visitors to Toy Fair could not have failed to notice the activity surrounding the Toy Trust’s anniversary year and it was encouraging to see so many people wearing their new Toy Trust pin badges with pride. Olympia however, only marked the start of a whole calendar of activities that aims to raise more funds than ever before for the overriding cause of Giving the Gift of Play. Read on for a quick update of what’s already been raised and what exciting events are still to come for toy industry members over the next few months

Media Auction Raises More Than £67,000 The second largest fundraiser of the year, the annual Media Auction traditionally takes place at Toy Fair and this year was no exception and a phenomenal £67,980 was raised through bids for the generous media pledges donated. Once again thank you to Jeff Taylor of Arena Azure who went out cap in hand to the media houses for their lots. Once again, we had plenty to bid for including airtime, digital space, catalogue spots and magazine pages. This would not have been possible without the pledges from ITV, Sky, Disney, Turner, Five, SuperAwesome, Venatus, Toys R Us, The Entertainer, Toymaster, Argos, Redan and all three Toy Trade magazines. There were certainly some bargains to be had, GP Flair walked off with Superawesome plans worth £5,000 for just £1,500 and IMC and Mookie both paid just £,6500 for £10,000 worth of airtime with Sky. The largest Bid was from a colossal £10,000 from Character Options for a substantial Turner broadcasting package. Fun Bid of the night came from Toynado who can now enjoy a cheap dinner at the Ivy for a reasonable sum of just £120.

The Big Anniversary Raffle Money Can’t Buy Prizes needed

3500 Pin Badges sold! It’s only two months into the year and already over £10,000 has been recouped in the Toy Trust’s very first pin badge appeal. Thank you to all those companies that have taken quantities to distribute and also to the volunteers at Olympia who sold in the aisles. Remember though we have 10,000 to sell through the year, so if your company has not yet taken some for their reception desks, please help us with the cause and email for more information.

Take a minute…

Nat Southworth is looking for prizes for this year’s Have you seen the new Toy Trust special anniversary Prize Draw. Details are video shown on Awards night? If not take a minute to watch it online. It’s summarises what still to be announced but first we need all the fundraising and event drives are for. prizes. A once in a lifetime opportunity to work at Disney HQ for a day, Return Flights to New York, a family Lego Mosaic and a visit by the My Little Pony Bus are in the mix. But do you have anything worth donating to this one off event?

Big Cotswold Challenge It’s now just two months away till the Big Cotswold challenge. Here’s an update of what’s to be done: We have limited spaces for the Tough Mudder and limited places at the celebratory dinner to fill. If you want to take part please contact us now. If you are already signed up here’s what you should be consider in addition to your training. • Have you started reaching out for pledges yet? • Have you joined the twitter feed so that you can follow the action. If you need help inspiration for fundraising or more then please contact Our aim is to raise in excess of £200,000.

Anyone for game of Golf? As part of the special 25th anniversary year for the Toy Trust, the annual BTHA and Toy Trust Golf day has been confirmed as Thursday 29th June 2017 at Sonning Golf Club, Berkshire. The event is longstanding and one of the most enjoyable of the year, as well as presenting a great opportunity to meet with others in the industry. Anyone, who plays golf and is part of industry is welcome to join in.

Please email

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Did you know? The Toy Trust is proud to be the winner of the Trade Industry’s Association’s Forum’s Corporate Responsibility social responsibility award 2016. March 35

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Featuring tech so advanced it feels like the future, Anki OVERDRIVE is the world’s most intelligent battle racing game where you use your mobile device to take control of robotic Supercars on tracks you construct in seconds.


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What’s app’ning With a generation of tech-savvy kids upon us, the app toy market is certainly on the rise with more games and toys boasting app technology. Here, Robert Hutchins takes a look at the latest developments in this space LEGO Combining physical construction play with digital app gaming to deliver customisable in-game action, the LEGO Nexo Knights range goes from strength to strength this season as LEGO introduces a wealth of new lines. Previously from the realm of Nexo, the Nexo Knights have defeated Jestro and burned the Book of Monsters. But the battle isn’t over. The Book of Monsters has been revived into the Cloud of Monstrox. It is now up to a generation of young builders and LEGO fans to help the Knights into ‘battle mode’ to defeat Jestro once more with a new range of play-sets. Leading the lineup this season is the King’s Guard Artillery, a six stud shooter with push out swords for defence mode. Priced at £7.99, the set includes two Minifigures, including a King’s Guard and a Stone Stomper. Meanwhile, Lance’s Twin Jouster is priced at £14.99 and allows kids to flip out the wings and take off to fire missiles midflight. The wings can be detached to release Lance Bot’s Wing jetpack, before touching down. The set includes one scannable shield for the Goose Bumps in-game Nexo Power and three Minifigures, including Lance, Lance Bot and Rogul. Ruina’s Lock and Roller – priced at £14.99 – follows, swooping the heroic Aaron into action on his hover shield. Kids can shoot his Blazer Bow Stud shooter at the Lock and Roller’s Forbidden Power shield to release the cage door and rescue Queen Halbert. The set includes two scannable shields for the Nexo Power

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Gorilla Roar and Forbidden Power Wrecking Wrath as well as three Minifigures: Aaron, Queen Halbert and Ruina. Aaron’s Stone Destroyer is priced at £19.99 and comes with Aaron and Robot Hoodlum figures, as well as a buildable Bedrock Monster figure and, of course, Aaron’s infamous Stone Destroyer motorcycle. Kids can then gallop the robot horse into the village of Ghoulia and turn gargoyles into dust with the Lance vs Lighting set priced at £19.99. But, they must dodge the lightning balls launched from the catapult. The set includes scannable shields for the Nexo Power Triple Trouble and forbidden Power Malicious Melting, as well as two Minifigures: Lance and a gargoyle, plus buildable gargoyle, Grimroc.

The Three Brothers playset arrives at £24.99 and takes kids to the mountains to stop the ancient monsters that have been awakened by the evil Monstrox. They can then battle head to head with the rolling monster and its chomping jaws, before facing Roog and Reex with the axe. This set comes with two scannable shields for the LEGO Nexo Knights app game, including Bulldozer and Forbidden Power Horrible Hunger as well as three Minifigures: Axl, Roog and Reex. Clay’s Falcon Fighter Blaster – at £44.99 – encourages children to protect the people of Knighton from Grimroc and his giant mace with Clay’s Falcon Fighter Blaster. Players can extend the wings and fire the six-stud shooter, before releasing Clay Bot’s Recon Jet for extra air support. Three scannable shields for Ticking Baboon, Manic Pumpkin and Forbidden Power Devestating

Decay come with the set, as well as Clay and Clay Bot Minifigures. Jestro’s Headquarters is the big ticket item for this year, priced at £84.99. Kids can storm Jestro’s Headquarters with Macy’s Underminer vehicle and battle Jestro’s Hatattacha flying hat and Stone Wheeler vehicles, before uniting LEGO Nexo Knights heroes together to combine their powers and stop Jestro from finding the Forbidden Powers. Oh, and rescue Ava from the dangling cage, too. The set includes four Nexo Powers: Ninja Strike, Mindbender, Tone of Power and Standing Ovation as well as the Forbidden Power Corrupting Crush. It also includes six Minifigures: Jestro, Ava, Macy, Lance, a gargoyle and a Stone Stomper. The LEGO Nexo Knights app is available as a free download via the App Store, Google Play, Samsung Apps and Amazon Appstore. 01753 495 000 March 37

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ANKI Consumer robotics and artificial intelligence company, Anki, has seen sales of Anki Overdrive propel the new line to the second best-selling premium toy of 2016. Ending the year on a high, the hit battle racing game was also named the fourth best-selling toy in the UK in December, according to The NPD Group. The introduction of a stronger retail network and implementation of successful PR and marketing campaigns throughout the year ensured the US start-up was behind one of the hottest toys on the market of Christmas 2016. Anki Overdrive introduces a revolutionary gameplay experience that blends the best of video games, toys and robotics together for kids to enjoy. Players can take control of the various Supercars of the future via handheld mobile devices as they battle and race against their friends, family or even AI controlled commanders. The game introduces an innovative magnetic modular track system that allows gamers to custom build epic battlefields within seconds.

Kids can challenge friends in a variety of game modes, including Battle, Race, King of the Hill, Time Trial or Takeover, or go head-tohead with elite AI commanders in a quest to become champion of the Anki Overdrive tournament. Players can kick their skills into overdrive by customising their Supercar’s speed, weapons and defences through a variety of ingame upgrades. The introduction of robotic Supertrucks has taken the hit

battle racing game to the next level. For example, new battle rigs, Freewheel and X52, supersize the racing experience with an intimidating frame that is nearly triple the size of other Anki Overdrive Supercars, commanding XXXXXXXa big presence on the battlefield. Beyond their size, Supertrucks also introduce powerful new weapons and exciting game models that are not available with the Supercars,

which will put every players’ skills to the test. Regular software updates are also available via the app, which will help to ensure exciting new features are available on a rolling basis at no additional cost. Anki Overdrive fans have amassed a total of 3.9 million miles to date and have played four million hours of racing in total. Fans have also built around 130,000 different track configurations to play with. 0800 808 5701

CLEMENTONI Kicking off Clementoni’s app toys offering this year is the Evolution Robot, a programmable robot that can be directly controlled with a downloadable app on smart phones and tablets with Bluetooth connection, or can be used manually. This intelligent robot registers and executes all demands and comes complete with sound effects, facial expressions and many different modes for children to play with including ‘dance mode’. The robot can also perform high commands such as picking up and transporting objects in its claws, thanks to its moving arms, torso and crawler tracks.

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Meanwhile, the Interactive Globe allows you to explore the world using the optical reader pen, children can learn about continents, countries, capital cities, surface areas, populations, currencies, languages, territories, elevations, time differences and many more interesting facts. With more than 300 questions divided into different difficulty levels, children can test their knowledge and an accompanying app can be downloaded and used interactively with the Globe, with which every angle of the world can be seen to heighten the play and learning experience. 0208 782 1136

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CHARACTER OPTIONS From dancing to gaming, Character Options is bringing the latest app-based trends to life with two new launches for 2017. The latest app-based range to join the Character Options portfolio is Beatmoovz; the pumping new sound bands that will have everyone moving in time to create the beat. Beatmoovz is a movement activated instrumental gadget that is worn on the hands and ankles, allowing budding dancers to produce music, rhythm, beats and more. As they move around, the user magically controls the beat in perfect timing with their own movement. The multiplayer mode allows users to interact with each other off of one device, generating music with friends. The accompanying app lets users

adjust to over 400 unique, fun and iconic sounds that can be instantly programmed to each gadget. Who knew that creating music through movement could be so easy? Elsewhere in Character’s portfolio this year and from the successful gaming app comes an array of popular Disney mini collectable figures in an on-trend, eight bit pixelated style. The Disney Crossy Roads range includes characters from Mickey & Friends, Toy Story, Big Hero 6 and The Lion King, and they will be available in single figure packs, plus larger sets of four and seven figures. The Disney Crossy Road fun will be enhanced even more with plush lines and play-sets. 0161 633 9800


CARTAMUNDI With its Shuffle range, Cartamundi, the playing cards and card games manufacturer, could claim to have been an app pioneer. The range takes famous board game brands and characters and brings them to card games. By including a free downloadable app, the company has been able to add something new and different; extra animated gameplay and new situations, background noise, sound effects and supporting visuals, or characters brought to life – and all of it on a tablet of smartphone.

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This is clearly illustrated in PAW Patrol Shuffle, based on the hit animated series produced by global children’s entertainment company Spin Master. The easyto-play rescue mission card game offers two gameplay options, and each deck features pictures of Ryder and his team of rescue pups – Chase, Marshall, Rubble, Skye, Zuma, Rocky and Everest – ready for action. Like the many other successful games in the Shuffle range, there’s a free Shuffle PAW Patrol app available through Apple iOS and Android or is downloadable at The success of Shuffle reflects the near ubiquity of smartphones and tablets among pretty much every age group at all times. Little wonder that Shuffle games also boast durable, robust packaging given that they are likely to be used anywhere a mobile phone or tablet may be. 01268 511 522

Distributed by the popular Jazwares’ UK team, WowWee is introducing a new line of app toys for kids and fans of the Despicable Me franchise. Ever dream of Minions calling you the boss? A Minion of your very own that you can make laugh, cry, or even fart? Well, friends, that day has arrived as WowWee invites you to meet Minion MiP turbo Dave, your own personal Minion. The new launch responds to various hand gestures and can even navigate a users room. And WowWee highlights that this is just the half of it. With the Minion MiP Turbo Dave app, kids and users can drive, plan paths, or trigger hilarious reactions to props and different characters from the Despicable Me franchise. Also included is a coding platform for all the tinkerers out there. Be the boss, scare your dog,

control Minion MiP however you want. Just don’t cause too much Minion trouble. The Minion MiP turbo Dave line will be distributed by Jazwares in the UK and will retail at £99.99. 0203 598 0270

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16/02/2017 13:33


The great outdoors It’s no doubt that kids continue to enjoy exploring their surroundings, so it’s no wonder that the outdoor toys market is still a burgeoning sector. Here, Jade Burke takes a look at some of the latest products available LITTLE TIKES Adding to Little Tikes’ active outdoor play portfolio in spring 2017 is the new Fountain Factory Water Table, with interchangeable pipes and fittings. Water can be channelled through these pipes and in to three water fountains, providing a great way for STEM learning while having endless amounts of fun. The firm continues to update the ride-on category with its trikes and the upcoming Fold ‘n Go five-in-one Trike. Designed to provide maximum portability and a compact fold, with a fully adjustable sunshade and reclining seat, the Fold ‘n Go five-in-one Trike offers a unique trike to the market. The five-in-one Deluxe Ride and Relax Trike has all the fantastic features of the fourin-one trike with innovative extras including a three-position reclining seatback, height adjustable canopy and perfect fit technology, meaning the seat is movable with the flip of a switch.

Not forgetting the toy firm’s hero Cozy Coupe range, with over 10 variations to choose from. Spring 2017 sees an addition to the ride-on range with the Little Tikes Princess Horse & Carriage – the ultimate princess fantasy comes to life. Boasting a white horse at the front for imaginative play,

this carriage also comes with a foldable handle that can be rotated for use by parent or child, while also making a life like ‘clipclop’ sound when on the move.

For use indoors and outdoors, the set comes decorated with purple and yellow accents, so little ones can enjoy role-play alone or with parents even more. Playhouses remain a core area for the company, and this year sees Little Tikes continue to drive this category forward with the unique Go Green Play House. This modern playhouse is filled with earth-friendly features and activities for children from two years and up – designed for the ultimate in eco-fun – while aiming to teach children about the environment and the importance of thinking green for the future. This playhouse features several educational extras for kids to enjoy, including a flower garden, water reservoir, solar light, a real working sink and more. There is endless hours of imaginative play to be had in the educational and fun playhouse. 01908 268 480

Just like Zimpli Kids’ entire product range, the Slime powder is stain free, non toxic, environmentally safe and 100 per cent safe on skin, so kids can enjoy sliming all of their friends. Eejay Enyi, head of sales at Zimpli Kids, said: “The Slime Blaster is a great product and to have been selected for a Best New Toy award really is fantastic. “We are confident that the Slime Blaster

will be at the top of children’s Christmas list in 2017 – step aside water guns, it’s slime time.” This year’s London Toy Fair announced the Best New Toys for

2017 and the company’s Slime Blaster was amongst the winners, taking home the Best New Outdoor Toy 2017 award. 01254 460 006

ZIMPLI KIDS The Slime Blaster is the latest addition to Zimpli Kids’ new outdoor Slime range, due to be launched this year, aiming to take water fights to a whole new level. No more soaking friends in water, it’s time to blast them with gooey slime. Children will be able to create their own slime to gunge their friends in the slimiest fight ever. Users can simply load the Slime Blaster Gun Tank with pre-measured slime powder and water and shake to create the slime, then its time to fire. The Slime Blaster comes with enough powder for over 200 slime shots, for lots of exciting, outdoor fun.

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XXXXXXX CHARACTER OPTIONS Noxxx stranger to the outdoor play category, xxx Character Options’ portfolio is full to the brim. Now the firm is bringing the laser gaming experience to the outdoors with the brand new Laser X. Game play becomes a real life outdoor experience with Laser X, the new game that will have children and adults alike blasting their opponents with impressive light and sound effect laser guns. Unlike other laser games in the market, Laser X guns will allow players to shoot their opponent from up to 200 feet away, making this one action-packed and competitive game for fans to enjoy.

XXXXXXX MYWEETEEPEE Character’s new blaster is sold in packs of two including two laser blasters and two receiver vests. Additional blasters and receiver vests can join in the fun for multi-player adventure. For multi-player action, challengers can choose red, blue or a neutral colour for their vest to signify their team, while the full colour lighting effects help to keep track of shots and hits. What’s more, each vest comes with an interactive voice coach who can give tips and feedback during each game, plus headphones can be connected to allow players to hear the soundtrack or further effects. 0161 633 9800

Myweeteepee xxx offers children a place xxxto play and are big enough for up to three children to sit comfortably. Strong enough to withstand busy playing children, each item boasts solid wood poles and are rounded at the top for safety. Myweeteepee bundles come with a non-slip lightly wadded floor mat, bunting flags and a XXXXXXX carry bag. Handcrafted using xxx soft yet thick cotton canvas, xxx applique designs are also embroidered onto the canvas. The Tweeteepee is the perfect little sister of the Myweeteepee

bundle – an ideal little teepee created especially for toys and dolls, which is the perfect match for the Myweeteepee Evie Rose and Isabella designs. Made in the same cotton canvas, the Tweeteepee has identical embroidered applique, matching door curtains and stands on mini traditional wooden poles. It even has its own matching sewn in base that allows the Tweeteepee to be lifted and folded with dolls and toys still inside and packed away in its generously sized carry bag. 01963 548 140

scoop then pushing down on the paddle to launch the ball. Learning how to volley and head the ball is also made easy with the two-in-one Foot Volley. Children can teach themselves how to head balls over the volley net and accurately hit volley balls through the target holes. This Foot Volley also doubles up as a regular goal for friendly matches.

Another skill children can master is speed. With the Training Speed Set they can improve speed and reflexes by running as fast as they can between the two cones, creating speed drills and dribble challenges. Afterwards, children can connect the two cones and practice jumping over it as fast as possible. In between training exercises, young Messi’s can add some style to their football skills with the Gold Edition Pro Training Ball featuring the authentic Messi signature. Kids can practice ‘keepie uppies’ and cool tricks and flicks. 0208 643 0320


xxx In xxx the world of football, stars don’t get much bigger than Lionel Messi, and now with GP Flair’s new Messi Training System range, kids can emulate one of the world’s favourite football heroes. From July, the Messi Training System range will become the ultimate fun skills range for budding footballers. Heading up the range is the fourin-one Training Station; this multi-feature goal has four modes of play for young footballers to practice their accuracy, shooting, ball control,

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touch and precision. Kids can aim and shoot at the targets to hone their goal scoring skills, use the curved surface to train ball control and touch, use the net to learn how to pass and then use the large target and net to show off their skills. In addition to the full Training Station, aspiring footballers can work their way through the range to practice specific Messi talents. The Auto Trainer lets children perfect ball control and touch skills by placing the ball on the

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The new inflatable Pops Up City play-scapes create an instant fantasy world for kids, offering lots of soft, safe imaginative role-play. Suitable for indoor and outdoor play, each of the items come in a small storage box and inflate to a kidsized play area. In this patented system, each set is made of separate, easy to inflate parts that attach together with Velcro, so no assembly is required and they stand up ready for play. The immersive environments have added play value with special sound effects and detachable/wearable inflatable

Chicco is readying a new line of items to boost its outdoor portfolio this year. A modern version of the classic children’s game, hopscotch, the Jump ‘N Fit is an electronic mat with lights and sounds that come on as the child plays. It features two game modes, for example kids can toss the coin to play hopscotch or throw the dice to play in fitness mode. Helping children to develop their motor skills and precision, the fitness mode instructs them to complete a certain exercise depending on what side the dice lands on, while hopscotch mode allows children to enjoy a timeless classic. In addition, Mr. Ring gives the traditional hoopla toy a modern new look. With a rotating base that can move at two different speeds, while the hedgehog features five colourful spikes

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vehicles – for example a horse and carriage or a police car. Kids can wear the vehicle over their shoulders with the inner shoulder straps. Themes include a Princess Castle, Emergency Rescue Centre, Construction Site and Knights’ Castle. Pops Up City sets will be available from summer 2017. Trends UK (National Accounts) 01295 768 078, Wind Designs (Independents) 01353 724 140

that children can try to hook one of eight plastic rings on to. With six different melodies, Mr. Ring plays out music as he spins – Mr. Ring can be set to one consistent speed, or, if kids fancy a challenge, he can be set to change speeds as he turns. Stimulating manual coordination and precision skills, Mr. Ring will keep children (and parents) entertained for hours on end. 020 8953 6627

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JUMBO JUMBO GAMES Jumbo xxx Games’ Large Foam Floor Puzzles xxx are perfect for outdoor play for kids to enjoy. New to the range this March is the large 19-piece water-proof Thomas & Friends Foam Floor Puzzle, while the Bob the Builder version will roll out in May. Also available from Jumbo’s outdoor range is the giant ninepiece Peppa Pig Giant Foam Floor Puzzle. This 90x90cm puzzle can double up as a child’s playmat once complete, with its exceptionally hardwearing pieces that make it ideal for outdoor entertainment. Jumbo’s entertaining range of Giant Snakes & Ladders Floor Games offer endless enjoyment for children with pre-school classics like Peppa

XXXXXXX JOHN ADAMS Pig and Fireman Sam. The classic game format has been brought to life with characters and artwork from the TV shows and using the durable plastic game mat that measures 90x90cm and giant playing counters and foam dice, allows for children to play these games outdoors and indoors. Ideal for playing outdoors and for use in paddling pools is Jumbo’s waterproof four-in-one shaped Foam Bath Puzzles. With four different puzzles in each pack, children can piece together these puzzles that feature their favourite characters and TV shows including Thomas & Friends, Bob the Builder, Peppa Pig and more. 01707 260 436

John xxxAdams Leisure continues to xxx expand its range of INTEX outdoor toys in 2017. The Mushroom Baby Pool is the latest addition to the INTEX Baby Pools collection designed for young children aged between one and three years old. Featuring a fun red and white mushroom canapé to shade babies from the sun, this starter pool also features a soft inflatable floor for extra comfort. The INTEX Spray Pool offering XXXXXXX is also expanding with the xxx of the Friendly Caterpillar launch xxx and the Gator Spray Sprayer Pool. In a bright green caterpillar

design, the Friendly Caterpillar Sprayer simply attaches to a garden hose and sprays water continually for lots of water play. The Gator Spray Pool features a gator mouth water sprayer, which attaches to a garden hose, and also comes complete with a baby duck inflatable toy for added play value. Suitable for outdoor or indoor play, the cool Ka-Pow Bumpers include two individual Ka-Pow tubes. Complete with heavy duty handles, the Ka-Pow Bumpers are great fun for kids aged four and up. 01480 414 361

XXXXXXX RE:CREATION It’sxxx a huge year ahead for Re:creation’s xxx Razor portfolio. While recent launch HoverTrax 2.0 continues to drive strong interest, the company is also set to introduce further exciting lithium-fuelled rides that will showcase Razor’s pure dedication to innovation in outdoor. Bringing skateboards firmly into the 21st century, the RazorX Cruiser lithium-powered electric skateboard is a clear demonstration of Razor’s skill in delivering a high performance ride to more riders than ever. With geared rear wheel drive, this ride-on can reach speeds of up to 10mph and provide up to 40 minutes of continuous use. Lithium power also packs a punch in Razor’s new electric scooter offering, Power A. This ultralight ride-on features a

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patent-pending anti-rattle and its high torque motor can reach speeds of up to 10mph with a continuous ride time of up to 45 minutes. Power A will join Razor’s scooter line-up, including the ever popular Power Core E90 and E100 electric scooters, which continue to put in powerful performance in the category. The recently launched HoverTrax 2.0 ride-on is off to a strong start, and will continue to be a focus in 2017. With its exclusive EverBalance technology, it is the only hover board that auto-levels for the smoothest ride possible. With a cruising speed of 8mph HoverTrax 2.0 features two riding modes including a training mode to help build rider confidence. The daily commute is set to get a Razor boost with the launch of

a collection of high performance scooters. Joining the popular A5 Lux scooter is a line-up of five stylish new additions ideal for taller riders, which are set to roll out later this year. Among the new scooters is the Razor A5 Air. Perfect for less than perfect pavements, thanks to its shock-absorbing pneumatic tyres and anti-rattle and easy fold design, this scooter delivers a smooth and comfortable

operation making it ideal for any commute. Re:creation will continue to keep Razor top of mind within the outdoor toys category throughout 2017 with heavyweight TV, as well as various PR and event activity. 0118 973 6222

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H. GROSSMAN H. Grossman Limited (HGL) is introducing a revamped scooter offering for 2017, with over fifty per cent of the range updated with new themes and packaging. The Ozbozz brand is known for outdoor products and this year sees a whole selection of new lines including the Twist and Fold Scooter, a stylish scooter available in three colourways, with four wheels and height adjuster that folds away. Two brand new electric scooters are available with the smaller retailing at around £199, while the larger one is priced at around £399. Emojis are taking the world by storm and Grossman is introducing a wide range of outdoor products featuring the fun icons for 2017 including scooters, pogo sticks and skateboards, as well as a spiral ball. This is the year of the superhero and the Power Rangers movie will see an upsurge in the popularity of the Mighty Morphin forceful five. HGL has a whole range of outdoor items to test kids’ superpowers this year.

MV SPORTS From play tents to pogo sticks, the firm has a full set of Power Rangers inflatable weaponry to add to every child’s armoury. Grossman is famous for its outdoor products and this year sees the introduction of three new trampolines to get everybody moving. Kids can bounce around on a range of items all in different sizes and at different prices. The two larger sizes come complete with safety nets to stop anyone jumping into next door’s garden. For those who like to watch something else on the move, Grossman is introducing a brand new range of drones. These flying ‘eyes in the sky’ link with an app and can beam camera images to a user’s phone or iPad, along with a whole host of other interactive features. For those who want to keep it simple, the drones can also fly with the included remote control. New remote control cars – which can be voice controlled – are also included in this year’s line-up. 0141 613 2525

MV’s own brand ranges, including Stunted, Kickmaster, Hedstrom and Electrick, all boast a varied outdoor toy offering. Stunted comprises a range of stunt scooters and accessories ideal for beginner’s through to experienced riders. With new urban-style designs for 2017 in black with neon hints, the range is sure to turn heads. All of the firm’s stunt scooters have been upgraded with the introduction of reinforced box decks and threadless headsets providing improved rigidity, durability and a smoother ride. Kickmaster is still hitting all the targets with the core range of balls, goals and football sets. Innovation has continued with the addition of the Prolite XR Goal, featuring an easy to fit fibreglass support to the crossbar to provide even better durability and longevity. MV’s goal range now also includes the HD goal range, a

durable metal goal with a 35mm diameter and 1mm thick metal tube that will withstand heavy use and play. Hedstrom continues to hold strong in the outdoor arena with an array of outdoor play equipment including slides, swings, trampolines and multiplay products such as the huge Atlas, which consists of a slide, swings, climbing frame, dual swinger and basketball set. With lithium technology taking the world by storm, the Electrick Chic Glideboards boast a sleek and simple design. Each of the Glideboards have a 10 to 20km range off a single two to three hour charge and a maximum user weight of up to 100kg. Plus, with a climb angle of 15-inches and 6.7-inch rubber tyres ensuring stability and durability, steep and rough terrain are no problem. With product and charger fully tested to UK and EU standards, users can glide with confidence. 0121 748 8000

EDUK8 The toy firm’s outdoor toy range promises fun for all the family, with something in all price ranges. Kids can step inside the translucent red Belly Bump Balls and let the full-bodied fun begin. These durable inflatable balls are a great, fun way to encourage children (and adults alike) to be more active and are also available in junior and adult sizes. The Handy Bug Magnifier is a durable hand held magnifier that has a 3x magnifying lid with air holes. The sliding handle feature enables easy removal of the lid. Elsewhere, the Bounce and Catch Discs with soft ball lets users catch and return balls up to

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20 metres away or more. This toy adapts to many sports such as volleyball, tennis, and rounders. It can also act as a throwing disc by itself and can be used by one, two or more individuals providing unlimited possibilities for inventive play. Eduk8’s versatile Giant Magnifying Pot contains air holes in the 2.5x magnifying lid and thus is perfect for collecting and observing insects, leaves, fossils and more. Kids can also use it as a mini aquarium for tadpoles and small fish. The large 90cm Resistance Parachute, which has been made from nylon, is ideal to encourage

children to run. Not only can it be used as a fun outdoor activity, it can also be used to learn about the effects of air resistance. Eduk8’s outdoor toys portfolio also boasts a large range of

outdoor playmat games. Available as Snakes and Ladders or Ludo – both with unique dice domes to ensure players never lose dice again. Plus, there’s a large Numbers Game, supplied with jumbo inflatable dice. Children will have lots of fun viewing underwater objects through the extendable Aquascope, while observing nature in action under the water without getting wet and eliminating surface reflections. The toy firm also offers a range of large Activity Play Mats, boasting Zoo, City, Construction and Farm themes. 01434 672 336

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Gotta collect ‘em all Affordable, addictive and effortlessly attractive, the world of collectables is currently exploding in popularity. Jack Ridsdale rounds up the hottest collectable ranges vying for youngsters’ pocket money LEGO LEGO is bringing exciting new play possibilities to existing sets with The LEGO Batman Movie Minifigures, featuring 20 limited edition minifigures, launching in time to capture the imagination of fans young and old, captivated by the big screen adventure, The LEGO Batman Movie. The LEGO Batman Movie series features all of the fan favourite characters, including the likes of Lobster-Lovin’ Batman, The Eraser, Zodiac Master, King Tut, Pink Power Batgirl, Dick Grayson, Orca, Fairy Batman, Glam Metal Batman, Clan of the Cave Batman, Vacation Batman, The Joker -


Arkham Asylum, The Calculator, Red Hood, Commissioner Gordon, Barbara Gordon, March Harriet, The Mime, Catman and Nurse Harley Quinn. Each minifigure comes in a sealed mystery bag, together with one or more accessories, plus a display plate and an

exlcusive collector’s leaflet. Featuring the voice talents of Will Arnett, Zach Galianakis and Rosario Dawson, The LEGO Batman has taken critics and fans by storm, accruing rave reviews and a block-busting opening weekend, beating out contenders like John Wick and 50 Shades Darker. Building on the success of 2014’s The LEGO Movie, LEGO Batman is the second in an ongoing cinematic universe of LEGO films and its success is sure to help the firm maintain its position in the toy industry. 01753 495 000

FUNKO UK 2017 marks an exciting year for Underground Toys as news hit ahead of London Toy Fair that the firm is being acquired by Funko, now trading under Funko UK. Funko is leading the way in the collector sector with new licensed products being brought to fans at lightning speed due to their fast design, manufacturing and delivery capabilities. The POP! Vinyl figures, brings together characters from all the latest blockbusters and TV series along with nostalgic ones too. Current must-haves include live-action Beauty and The Beast, Guardians of The Galaxy Volume 2, Power Rangers, Twin Peaks, Netflix’s Daredevil and Jessica Jones, plus popular horror game, Five Nights At Freddy’s.

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These 3.75-inch figures packed in a window box have a place in shops big and small as either a dedicated POP! zone or positioned alongside other license specific merchandise. Pint Size Heroes, the 1.5-inch blind bag collectable figures, retailing at around £2.99, are set to be a big hit this year. The gravity fed boxes with a window displaying two characters, one of

which you may potentially get, contain 25 bags each and are available in licenses such as Power Rangers, Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2, Beauty and The Beast, WWE and Five Nights at Freddy’s, with more to come. Rock Candy, the new range of five-inch collectable female figures continues to grow with Guardians of The Galaxy’s Gamora and Mantis joining, plus Lara Croft increasing the strong female-led front. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg as Funko’s ranges of Dorbz, Action Figures, Mystery Minis, Wobblers, Pocket POP! Keychains, POP! Pens, POP! Home and Plushies continues to grow in breadth and depth, so fans should watch this space for additional collectables. 01708 374 499

KD UK will be entering and re-igniting the boys’ toys collectable category with its new Monster 500 vehicle range, launching in July 2017. The new die-cast collectable vehicle line-up features five Monstrous teams including The Driving Dead, Lunatic Legends, The Expert Mentals, Freak Force and Animal Asylum. Monster 500 has 30 ghoulish character vehicles to collect, such as Evil Clownevil, Drac Attack and Captain Heinous from Uranus. All die-cast packs will include a fact trading card with details about each collectable character. Additional products in the collection will include large Monster 500 vehicles with lights and sounds, associated track sets and the Dragster Dungeon car storage carrier, which also includes an exclusive car. The launch will be supported with a comprehensive TV and digital marketing campaign, with a build up around Halloween season. 01727 827 194

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JAZWARES Jazwares has launched a brand new Roblox toy line, a new property that brings to life the popular digital game. Inspired by some of the most popular XXXXXXX games, characters, xxx and developers in Roblox’s xxx user-generated universe, the launch follows Roblox posting its highest monthly player count – 44 million in December. Users’ imagination is strongly reflected in the toy offerings, with a selection of play-sets and characters based on the creations of some of the most popular community developers – including a range of collectable Blind Boxes, each containing one of 24 characters. Fans can take apart the toy characters and mix and match parts to create new characters just like they can in Roblox’s virtual world. Additionally, each of the toys comes with a unique code that can be redeemed for exclusive virtual items. Meanwhile, also in the company’s roster is Animal Jam. Created in partnership with National Geographic, Animal


Jam is a safe online playground for kids who love animals and the outdoors. Players create and customise their own animal characters and dens, make new friends, adopt pets, team up for adventures, and feed their curiosity about animals and the natural world around them. The toy range brings this digital world to life with collectable pets, plush and playsets. Included in Jazwares’ new Animal Jam toy collection are vehicles for the pets to enjoy, as well as customisable dens and the eagerly awaited series two and three collectable Adopt a Pets, which come complete with accessories to mix and match across the entire range. All toys come with unique codes to unlock exclusive content in the online game too for fans to enjoy. 0203 598 0270

With new pyjama wearing heroes and more wild animals added to the line-up for In My Pocket, there is plenty to collect from GP Flair’s Just Play portfolio. In My Pocket returned in 2016 with the range of itty, bitty flocked collectable pups and kittens. For Q3 2017, the animals will become fiercer with the launch of Jungle In My Pocket, offering fuzzy jungle pets for children to collect. The entire In My Pocket range includes traditional blind bags and carry cases, multi-figure packs and play-sets. New this spring to GP Flair and Just Play’s portfolio is the highly anticipated PJ Masks toys

collection, which allows fans to recreate the exciting night-time adventures of their favourite pyjama-wearing heroes. With a launch already under its belt in the US, expectation is high for the property. Now fans can join the three friends on their night-time missions with the new PJ Masks range that offers different price points and opportunities for collectability. The blind bags and three-inch figures make the perfect entry level purchase for fans of the show to start their collection. Launched in autumn 2016, the Lion Guard range is to go from strength to strength this year when the location of the pre-school adventure takes an exciting turn with the Rise Of Scar Play-set. New waves of the blind bag figures will also hit retail shelves in the autumn, increasing collectability for fans of the show. 0208 643 0320

ESDEVIUM GAMES Esdevium Games is already off to a flying start to the year in the collectables category, with two huge new releases from the Pokémon Trading Card Game and Zomlings brand. After a hugely successful London Toy Fair, it’s fair to say there has never been so much interest in the Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG) as there is right now. The Pokémon TCG: Sun & Moon expansion welcomes fans to discover the new tropical Alola region, marking a brand new chapter in the Pokémon series following its introduction in the November video games releases. Fans will discover dozens of never-before-seen Pokémon,

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as well as Alola forms of some familiar favourites. After a truly remarkable 2016, Pokémon TCG sales in 2017 are showing no signs of slowing down and the release of Sun & Moon is fully

expected to be one of the most successful expansions to date. Back in the ‘big’ town are Zomlings, with the release of series five. The collectable has been a playground success story and represents true value within the category with prices for a blind bag starting as low as 50p. This pricing model has been a key factor in the

success and longevity of the collectable brand. The new Zomlings characters will inhabit a Zomlings Town that is bigger than ever before with the addition of 24 new Zomlings City Towers, three new Zomlings Vehicles including the Police Car, Fire Engine and Ice Cream Van, which can be parked at the Police Station, Fire Station and Ice Cream Parlour. If that’s not enough, there is also the Magic Trick School, Z Games Tin, Zomlings Pirates playset and a Crazy School Bus. All of these items can be played on the Zomlings BIG Town Playmat, to create an immersive town for collectors to enjoy. 01420 593593

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CHARACTER OPTIONS Boasting a squishy collectables range, a hot property from Moose Toys, and new stackable licenses, Character Options’ portfolio has plenty to offer for this key toy category. Peppa Pig, Disney Emoji, and Guardians of the Galaxy are set to join the Mash’ems collection, while Fash’ems will be boosted with the addition of DC Super Hero Girls. The new Stack’ems range will also boast PAW Patrol or My Little Pony characters with a fun new stacking play pattern for kids to put to the test.

Since it’s launch in January, GP Flair’s Glimmies has been a dazzling discovery for retailers and consumers alike. Bringing a new play pattern to the collectables market, the collectable star fairies shine bright in the dark or when cupped in the child’s hand. There are 23 characters available to collect this spring, 16 to collect individually and seven which are exclusive to the range’s play-sets. Then, come August, fascinating new Glimmies characters with additional magical features and larger play-sets will launch with a new FSDU. Season after season the Shopkins brand is still a firm favourite with kids so now is the time for a celebration with the new party theme that launched in February as season seven. 140 new party-themed Shopkins are available to collect inside the new gift boxes, cake boxes and party lanterns, creating the perfect party scenes. The third Despicable Me film is set for

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release this summer and Flair is gearing up for the launch of the first collectable range for the license. Developed by Moose Toys as part of a new Mineez portfolio, the launch range will include over 75 figures. The Mineez blind pack will be an exciting introduction to the range, as each pack carries a special element of surprise. As fans race to build upon their collection, the Core Collector Pack will put them ahead of the game with three figures included. However, the biggest fans of them all will be heading straight for the Deluxe Collectors’ Pack which has six figures, two of which are hidden, and two display vessels. 150 new Grossery Gang characters are ‘fresh’ in the aisles this month as series two hits shelves. The new grosseries span ten different gangs, plus the craze is fuelled even further as children rush to get their hands on the new colour changing, and dusty metallic grosserie. Season three will be new to discover later in the year. 0208 643 0320

Children can spend their pocket money on the popular Squishy Pops range which now has Disney Cars and My Little Pony in its line-up, ready for film releases in autumn. Since launch last year, girls everywhere have been embracing Twozies. Season two of the Moose property launches this month with over 140 new pet and baby friends for collectors to covet. Two Prehistoric Twozies, special edition Ocean Pearl Twozies, and more add to the range’s collectability. 0161 633 9800

MGA ENTERTAIMENT MGA Entertainment isn’t shy to launch a collectable craze, with L.O.L Surprise!, Num Noms and Lalaloopsy all under its belt. After taking the US by storm, L.O.L Surprise! has arrived in the UK, boasting seven layers of surprises to unwrap, including emoji stickers, accessories and a doll. A cupful of cuteness and a spoonful of surprise make Num Noms. These scented, squishy collectables now have even more characters following the launch of series three and Nom Noms Lights. Num Noms Lights are packaged in a juice carton, including a mystery Num and Nom that stack on top of each other to make over 300 sweet combinations. The Noms glow in two different colours and

come in three varieties, including Freezie Pops, Snow Cones and Glitter Gummies. The series three Mystery Pots include a two-flavoured lip gloss, that also works as a pencil topper, and a sweet scented Num. Stack the Nums on top of the Noms to make over 1,500 scented combinations. New for spring 2017, doll brand Lalaloopsy has launched its very own Netflix series – We’re Lalaloopsy! In line with the new series, Lalaloopsy is also introducing a range of products – including Mini Lalaloopsy Mix ‘N’ Match dolls and the Mini Lalaloopsy Jewel Sparkles and Storm E. Sky Deluxe Dolls feature removable wigs, shoes, pets and accessories, so fans can create exciting new looks. 0845 0533 333

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In what is fast becoming your monthly round up of the latest in Donald Trump memorabilia, we take a look at the weird and wonderful in the industry. But for the prudish be warned, you’re about to witness a lot of nudity

High rollers Nude doll trolls Trump

When it comes to high-end collectables, Prime 1 are the uncontested kings with detailed statues based on hit properties from Batman to GI Joe.. If you want to take home one of these beauties, you better

make sure you’ve recently remortgaged your family home, because they will set you back anywhere between $800 - $1000. The priciest is a Batmobile that will run you a cool $1,599.99. A mere snip.

Sonnyside up There’s no doubt that the toy space is full of all sorts of collectables, but one such range to catch the eye of the ToyNews team is the Sonny Angel, a ‘cute boy with headgear’, but with no clothes. Taking a page from Tom Jones, each can be found wearing nothing but a hat. But what a hat it is. Detailing even stretches as far as the nether regions, where the makers appear to have been less than generous, however it has inspired the team’s dress code for the next social. Now, to find a well fitting hat.

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The craft behind these figurines is truly incredible. The only thing more astonishing would be to witness a man explain to his wife why he just spent a holiday to the Bahamas on a statue of Spawn.

Labelled by many as a troll for his provocative tweets, US president Donald Trump has now been skewered by an ex-Disney sculptor with a less than complementary troll dollinspired design. The designer behind the doll, Chuck Williams launched a Kickstarter for the vinyl sculpture earlier this month which quickly trumped its goal of $38,000, meaning it will be manufactured on a large scale and available to purchase in stores and online around the world sometime later this year. The grotesque figure is available to pre-order now for $25 (£20). The famously insecure leader is sure to take issue with certain parts of the dolls anatomy (the realistically tiny hands gripping a smartphone being the tip of the iceberg), as well as the media outlets who advertise it, given Trump’s many tirades against mainstream media. For more on hilarious Donald Trump paraphernalia, keep reading FakeNews… we mean, um, ToyNews.

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ToyNews 181 March 2017  

March’s issue of ToyNews boasts features looking at the ethnic diversity in toys and licensed video games, as well as an interview with magi...

ToyNews 181 March 2017  

March’s issue of ToyNews boasts features looking at the ethnic diversity in toys and licensed video games, as well as an interview with magi...