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Retail 18 Euro crash With Brexit in full swing, we ask toy indies how the departure from the EU will effect them

No. 183


20 Health kick Retail champion, Clare Bailey, delves into the state of the High Street and what is to come


22 Fighting the fakes Toy retailers express their gripes and concerns on the rise of bootleg toys

May 2017

Marketing 26 Majestic toys We chat with Toymaster MD, Ian Edmunds, as the annual show returns to Harrogate this May

Mind matters Following the introduction of Sesame Street’s first autistic character, Julia, ToyNews explores what more the toy industry could be doing to help put a stronger focus on autism awareness and mental health issues. Page 6

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Follow us @toynewsonline

MEET THE TEAM Robert Hutchins Editor Jade Burke Deputy Editor Jack Ridsdale Staff Writer Jodie Holdway Sales 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 Toy retailers and mental health 10 Campaign of the Month 10 Playtime 12 Euromonitor 14 Industry Moves 16 Industry Opinion 58 ToyTalk Features 18 Brexit blues 20 Health of the High Street 22 Fighting the fakes 33 Licensing Expo interview 36 Licensing Expo preview Pre-school 38 News Retail 25 Toymaster preview 41 News 42 ToyShop UK 45 Sector Guide: Dolls 51 Sector Guide: Boys’ market

Political correction


aven’t we all had enough politics to last us a lifetime? Decisively not, according to the latest move from PM Theresa May and her call for a snap General Election, taking place a mere six weeks from the time this magazine lands on your desk. Cloaked as a means of ‘measuring the support of the nation behind the ongoing Brexit negotiations,’ May is putting it in the hands of the public to raise its voice, in what’s been dubbed a second referendum on Britain’s place within the European Market. General consensus from across the toy industry remains as divided as it stood last June, yet ToyNews recognises the impact that May’s latest move may have upon it; with the threat of further cuts, increased business rates and yet more economic uncertainty under another five years of leadership. In fact, it’s all laid bare in our exclusive column from author and retail champion, Clare Bailey this month. Hopefully, the public’s hands won’t be too full to continue to hand over the cash at your tills. With so much preoccupying the media, it’s little wonder the UK’s adults are looking for light relief in toys, and according to the latest results from The NPD Group, the ‘kidult’ market is now growing three times faster than the children’s toy market itself. So, while world leaders from the White House to Pyongyang continue their childish games, at least the reasoned public can be trusted to place their concerns where it matters. In toys.

From the White House to Pyongyang, with so much preoccupying the media of late, it’s little wonder the world’s adults have turned to the light relief of toys, helping the kidult toy buying market grow three times faster than the children’s toy buying market itself.


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Credit Zach Hyman

Peace of mind Parents have called for toy retailers to follow the example of Toys R Us and introduce more measures to accommodate children with autism and mental health issues. Meanwhile, toy firms and children’s brands are beginning to create products that cater to or raise awareness for those who live with autism and mental health disorders. Jack Ridsdale finds out what is being done for this cause and what still remains to be addressed


t’s easy to take for granted the simple experiences that we partake in on a daily basis, from going to the shops to enjoying a film in the cinema, but for people with autism, these tasks can present unseen challenges. The National Autism Society has launched an awareness campaign aiming to educate the public on these issues that often go unnoticed in the form of its ‘Too Much Information’ campaign. The campaign began as a short film/TV ad that proved so effective that it eventually went on to become a VR experience, aiming to place viewers in the shoes of a child struggling with the experience of walking around a shopping centre. People with autism, especially children, can

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often become overwhelmed with the sheer amount of information they are forced to process in busy situations and this is unfortunately a problem that children have to

We as a society have to decide whether we force our autistic children to function in society or if we are going to continue to shelter them. Sarah Jurenka, Parent deal with on a daily basis, even when in their favourite place, the toy shop.

“Most modern shops are very noisy, have fluorescent lighting and self-service tills, which can be very overwhelming in sensory terms,” comments Tom Purser of the National Autism Society, “on the other hand, the lack of public understanding can also have a detrimental impact on their day-today experiences.” Taking its cues from cinemas that offer ‘autism-friendly’ screenings for families and children with the condition, international chain Toys R Us has been the first to answer the need for special attention for children with autism by introducing Quiet Hours, an initiative that sees efforts to make children with special needs feel more at ease at the shops, due to a quieter

environment with dimmed lights and staff equipped to accommodate the children’s needs in pressured scenarios. Last month, ToyNews reached out to the National Autism Society for comment on toy store’s efforts on this front, with the organisation’s Daniel Cadey commenting that there is still a lot that can be done for kids. We followed up with the organisation to get some more insight into what retailers can do to accommodate this often ignored audience. Louisa Mullen from the organisation outlined the charity’s criteria for its autism friendly award, stressing that there are no shortcuts to creating the perfect shopping experience for children with autism, instead, putting

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the emphasis on bringing in or maintaining a level of well-trained staff in store. “There isn’t a magic formula for the creation of an autism friendly store or venue,” explains Mullen, “The things that really count are staff training, clear online info which can help autistic children and adults plan their visits in advance, to minimise anxiety, and the all-important post event feedback from shoppers.” Naturally, topping the list is staff knowledge and willingness to help shoppers with additional needs, highlighting “a willingness to be flexible to individual requests, and promoting a clear way for autistic people to provide feedback on their experience.” “Our criteria for the Autism Friendly Award is a good guideline that goes across the breadth of retailers,” explains Purser. “Things like providing a quiet area, making sure the staff are well informed and dimming the lights slightly are the sorts of things that are straightforward for any retailer to accommodate for autistic visitors. Using social media to inform visitors and prepare them to the layout are also cost effective ways of making the experience better for these individuals.” Sarah Jurenka, the parent of an 11-year-old boy that lives with autism presents an alternative point of view, arguing that coddling children should be avoided, so that they can become prepared for the real world. “We as a society are going to have to decide whether we are going to force our autistic children to function in society or whether we are going to continue to shelter them,” explains Jurenka, “believe me, as a parent I always want to shelter my autistic son and my daughter who has no special needs. I now know after a decade

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of dealing with these setbacks, that in my particular situation it is best for my son to be forced to participate in society and in regular social settings.” Helen Gourley, owner of Toy Hub, an independent retailer, has noticed that certain products have been particularly effective at bringing autistic children out of their shell and helping them to interact with other children in a social setting. “We’ve found that Dobble has been a really useful resource, as it gets kids interacting with each other,” adds Gourley, “It’s quite astounding to watch children that wouldn’t usually give each other eye contact, sitting and playing.

There isn’t a magic formula for creating an autism friendly store; things that count are staff training, online info and feedback. Louisa Mullen, NAS One of our customers who is a speech therapist has also pointed out Duplo, which can help children who aren’t as confident in speaking to learn those special skills.” As well as toy retailers, the wider entertainment world is beginning to recognise the plight of those with mental health disorders. Sesame Street has recently introduced its first character with autism in the form of Julia, who is designed not only to teach children key lessons about how those with autism think and behave but also to give children with autism a character that they can identify and engage with on-screen, thus increasing awareness early.

The first scenes released including the Julia character teach key lessons about the plight of those who live with Autism, for example the character’s reluctance to shake hands as a greeting. Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, SVP of US Social Impact at Sesame Workshop explains that for kids with autism, seeing a character who is like them in their favourite show is a key way to make them feel less isolated, not to mention the additional support from their peers. “For years, families of children with autism have asked us to address the issue,” explains Betancourt. “We heard a call to use our expertise and characters to build a bridge between the autism and neurotypical communities. So many partners, advisors, and organisations have contributed to the success of this initiative, and we are thrilled to have the benefit of this collaboration as we launch this latest chapter.” Since the first footage of Julia was released, there has been an outpouring of support and gratitude from the autism community across the globe. “Bringing Julia to life as a Sesame Street Muppet is the centerpiece of all of our new materials to support families of children with autism,” comments Sherrie Westin, EVP of global impact and philanthropy at Sesame Workshop. “The response from the autism community has been extraordinary, and we are committed to continuing our efforts to promote understanding and acceptance of autism, as part of our mission of helping all children grow smarter, stronger, and kinder.” “Since the first episode featuring Julia aired, we’ve received such positive feedback from parents

and children alike,” adds Sean Gorman, programming director of kid’s channels UK and Ireland at Turner. “Her character has truly made an impact and increased awareness for autism. We’re thrilled that Julia will be appearing across all-new episodes of season 47 of Sesame Street.” Children of all ages can catch the adventures of Julia and friends on Sesame Street every day at 3:30pm on Cartoonito. While autism is gaining awareness in the public consciousness, there are many mental health issues that are still going unnoticed by the industry. Issues like depression, OCD and ADHD have yet to gain mainstream representation like Julia, but with autism becoming less stigmatised and increasingly understood by the mainstream, it bodes well for the acceptance and representation of these issues. Recently public figures including Prince Harry have spoken out about their struggles with mental health, increasing public awareness on the issues, and this coupled with movies and video games becoming more willing to represent these issues, may mean it’s time for kids to start learning about them at an earlier age in their lives. When it comes to retailers, the best thing that they can do for customers with mental health issues is to be open and educated. Being well-versed in the needs of differently abled customers is step one and being thoughtful and considerate of their needs is a sure-fire way to ensure a positive shopping experience, while forward-thinking firms like the Sesame Workshop and advisory boards like the NAS provide the much needed awareness and understanding of the issues currently at play. May 07

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Barbie Dreamtopia The new fantasy-themed Barbie range is set to enchant a new generation of youngsters, supported with a multimedia marketing campaign ecompassing TV advertising, competitions and interactive online content CONTACT: MATTEL, 01628 500 000


n 2017, the Barbie fairy-tale segment Barbie Dreamtopia launched an all-new digital partnership with Nick Jr including TV sponsorship, encouraging girls to create their very own Barbie Dreamtopia bedtime story and enter a prize bundle competition. Dreamed up for a younger girl, Barbie Dreamtopia is a makebelieve world imagined by Barbie’s youngest sister Chelsea, empowering girls to be heroes of their own stories. Dreamtopia invites little ones to join Barbie along with Chelsea and her puppy Honey, as they swim through rainbow rivers with beautiful mermaids and fly through cotton candy clouds with fairies with four

magical kingdoms to explore – Sweetville, Sparkle Mountain, Rainbow Cove and the Endless Hair kingdom. The partnership launches with broadcast sponsorship on Nick Jr to reach girls aged three to six, including two magical new 10-second idents exploring the world of Dreamtopia in SS17 and a further two in AW17. A bespoke Barbie Dreamtopia microsite on Nick Jr’s digital platform launched a competition hub inviting little ones to create their own bedtime story using

branded Barbie Dreamtopia animations. The microsite will create an immersive world for Barbie Dreamtopia fans with banner advertising, an introduction to the world, characters profiles, competition and gallery. The competition runs from Feb 17th to May 15th with a Dreamtopia toy bundle on offer. “Barbie is the only doll brand that allows girls to imagine themselves as anything from a princess to a palaeontologist,” comments Wendy Hill, brand activation director Mattel UK.

The competition is further supported with a brand new 30-second TV competition spot airing on Nick Jr and online with YouTube pre-roll. Continuing the momentum from a successful launch, the toy range in SS17 includes fairies, mermaids, princesses and a Bubbletastic Fairy Doll and the Magical Dreamboat - designed to look like the boat Chelsea travels to the magical kingdoms in. The partnership with Nickelodeon is now live through until November, with TV spots in key holidays including summer and bank holidays. The Dreamtopia product line will be supported with a 360 marketing plan including TV, PR and digital activations.

Generation Media’s Lauren Coombs examines whether kids’ watching habits are affected by traditional gender appeal Source: BARB 2017


t has been a much debated topic across TV channels, media agencies and advertisers alike as to whether certain TV programmes will be watched by both genders or whether they will skew more to girls or boys. If you are advertising a boys product then surely a spot within Shimmer & Shine will not reach your core audience, however this is not necessarily always the case. If we focused on the top performing shows for the month of February including the key half term period, we can see that the top ranking show in terms of average numbers for boys aged from four to nine was Matilda airing on Pop. In comparison the top performing show for girls aged from four to

10 May


nine was Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom on Milkshake. Similarly, if we cast the net wider and review the Top 20 shows for boys four to nine, Shimmer & Shine ranks at number 11 despite the content being more girls focused. However the show is aired on Milkshake, which delivers an even split between boys and girls impacts across four to 15 year olds so it suddenly doesn’t seem surprising. If we viewed the top 10 shows for both boys and girls four to nine then eight shows are the same proving there is not a clear divide in viewing patterns by gender. It therefore begs the question that when advertising a boys’ product, it’s not necessarily right to cherry pick boys’ content but to look at the channel approach.

However is this realistic when analysing the older audiences? If we focus on children 10 to 15, there is only one show that ranks within both girls 10 to 15 and boys 10 to 15 top 10 lists. That show was Stuck in the Middle shorts on Disney Channel, a gender-neutral series. All other shows within the Top 10 were different for both audiences, for example Pokémon on CITVB against boys 10 to 15 and the Teen

Beach 2 film on Disney Channel for girls aged 10 to 15. We can therefore summarise that up until the age of nine, the majority of programmes despite a gender split will be watched across both audiences because of the nature of younger channels. It is when we start targeting 10 years and above that we must take into account that there will be less cross over in shows and channels.

ToyNews PlayTime is provided by Generation Media

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Keeping-up tradition With the global traditional toy market hitting an impressive $83 billion last year, and emerging markets set for a return to good health, Euromonitor’s Matthew Hudak discusses the factors impacting our industry positively this year


he global traditional toy market grew by over three per cent in 2016 to reach $83 billion. The year saw the rise of collectables, a recovery in the emerging toy market, continued growth of STEAM toys and licensed toys found more competition without the looming shadow of the Star Wars franchise. These trends were driven by different factors and are expected to carry on and evolve in different ways throughout the course of the year and collectively will keep 2017 growing at the same level of three per cent constant value growth, with the market reaching just over $85 billion. The rise of collectables In 2016, collectable toys were a major seller among children with brands like Shopkins and Hatchimals benefitting greatly from this. These toys not only rely on having a large collection of toy types for children to collect, but also a random pay-off element where children do not know which toy type they will be lucky to get with each purchase. This helps to encourage repeat purchases and allows toy makers to keep children interested by releasing new products to collect. Given the success of brands in this space, it is very likely that more toy companies will want to enter this random pay-off model of toy selling, possibly

releasing products as brand extensions of existing lines. Greater recovery in the emerging toy market Emerging markets were impacted by macroeconomic volatility and a strengthening US dollar in 2015. As 2016 found a greater level of stability, emerging market toy sales are expected to be healthier, growing by four per cent to reach $28 billion. 2017 is likely to continue this trend of economic stabilisation, with emerging markets expected to gain momentum and grow by five per cent in the year. China will once again be a leader in absolute value growth for emerging markets, and will be bolstered, albeit moderately, by the formation of multi-child middleincome households following the end of the one child policy in 2015. STEAM still a parental focus In 2016, science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) toys were still very much a focal point for parents. STEAM sales grew by four per cent to reach sales of over $30 billion.

Parental investment in STEAM products could grow even more throughout 2017 due to the large number of computer programming educational toys being released into the market. As many new jobs continue to focus on computer proficiency, many parents are focusing on educating their children early in this area.

MATTHEW HUDAK Project Manager, Euromonitor International

As 2016 found a greater level of stability, emerging market toy sales are expected to be healthier, growing by four per cent to reach $28 billion.

Licensing moves beyond Star Wars brand In 2016, licensing in the earlier part of the year was impacted by spill over sales of Star Wars merchandise, but by the end of the year the focus was on a greater variety of licenses. New movies, like Trolls and the resurgence of popularity of the Pokémon brand created greater licensing competition, even with the release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. In 2017, however, with another movie release in the core Star Wars franchise of films, it is possible the brand could once again eclipse its competitors.

Matthew Hudak, Euromonitor

Traditional Toys and Games 86,000.00 85,000.00 84,000.00 83,000.00 82,000.00 81,000.00 80,000.00 79,000.00 78,000.00 77,000.00




Source: Euromonitor International

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 The past month has seen another swathe of industry figures moving and shaking including a new Bandai UK general manager. Meanwhile, Epoch comes under new management, while Roblox continues its rapid expansion

BANDAI n Following the departure of marketing director DARRELL JONES, Japanese toy giant Bandai has bolstered its UK team with the appointment of NIC ALDRIDGE as general manager for the firm’s Richmond-based arm. CLIVE SMITH, who will be stepping up to the position of managing director comments, “We are thrilled to be welcoming Nic to Bandai UK Ltd at what is a very exciting time for us as we have a number of very exciting new projects in place for the coming months.” Additionally, TESS PARSONS-BROOME has recently been promoted to the new position of marketing manager. Smith comments, “Tess’ work over the past three years has been invaluable, this is a well-deserved promotion”.

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Roblox n The video game property that has recently expanded into a growing toy business has announced a key team hire in the form of REMY MALAN, who has been appointed vice president of customers. In the newly created role, Malan will set the gold standard for customer service by putting in place innovative features that will promote Roblox. Malan boasts 25 years of leadership experience building customer-focused organisations at firms including AOL Time Warner. “As Roblox continues to grow at a rapid pace, his expertise underscores the importance that we place on listening and quickly responding to our community,” commented David Baszucki, CEO and founder of Roblox. Epoch Making Toys n NEIL BANDTOCK has taken up the mantle of managing director for the UK and Ireland at Epoch Making Toys. Bandtock boasts 25 years of senior toy industry supply experience with Matchbox, MGA and Vivid in commercial director and managing director roles.

“We are very excited to have someone with Neil’s experience and track record on board, to help take the Epoch business forward,” commented Koji Otsuka, head of international at Epoch. Bandtock added: “I look forward to helping the UK team to continue our growth, throughout the UK and Ireland retail sector.” Tomy UK n TOMY UK is expanding its senior team in the form of NICOLA JENKINS as head of UKI marketing. Following the appointment, Jenkins will expand the growing senior management team with the toy firm. Prior to joining TOMY, Jenkins held the role as international marketing manager for eight years at EA Ltd, where she worked on franchises including The Sims, SimCity, Hasbro and Harry Potter. “It’s an exciting time to be joining TOMY. Obviously TOMY is one of the world’s leading toy companies that have historically concentrated on pre-school,” said Jenkins. “Now, however there are very exciting plans to increase the trading footprint and market share. We have some outstanding new products that I believe will really shake up the marketplace.”

Pretend to Bee n Pretend to Bee has appointed KATE SKITT as sales manager, bolstering its sales team. Skitt will lead further development into Pretend to Bee’s own label products. Boasting over 16 years’ experience in the retail sector with companies including Marks & Spencer and Arcadia. “It’s brilliant to have someone like Kate joining the team. She has a wealth of experience not only in sales but has also worked in buying for some fantastic organisations,” said Harrison Palmer, sales and marketing director. CPLG n The licensing firm CPLG has outlined its EU restructuring with key promotions, starting with JOACHIM KNOEDLER (pictured), who has been promoted from MD of CPLG Germany to MD Central Europe, bringing CPLG France into his list of responsibilities. Elsewhere, CONCETTA GALANI has been promoted to commercial director for CPLG France, while CLEMENTINE GOUTAINE has also been promoted to retail and marketing director of CPLG’s French operations.

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Under the influence Bloggers, vloggers and online influencers are becoming a staple of the toy and brand marketing scene. But with so many names emerging Lisa Carter, coorganiser of FunFest, talks us through the importance of finding the right one

Brands need to understand how the relationship with influencers works; it’s not as simple as finding one with the biggest reach.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Lisa Carter is the founder of Mimram Media and co-organiser of this year’s FunFest Influencer Summit, working with MI PR Global to deliver a one day conference, offering bloggers and brands insight into new and future trends in the online blogging, vlogging and YouTubing space. Lisa Carter can be contacted at lisa.carter@


he blogging and influencer sector has come under close scrutiny of late, most notably due to the actions of Swedish video games YouTuber Felix Kjellberg, aka PewDiePie. The former Golden Boy of social media was dropped by YouTube and Disney earlier this year, following anti-Semitic comments in videos, causing waves of concern about how marketers work with influencers, and what impact maverick content can have on a brand’s values. Certainly, brands need to have an understanding of how the relationship with influencers works; it’s not as simple as finding one with the biggest reach. Working with influencers is one of the most cost-effective and powerful forms of marketing,

particularly where brands are targeting young people; they are more likely to reach those consumers via YouTube than through traditional TV advertising. And in the parenting sector, it’s equally impactful, with vloggers and YouTubers providing parents with useful advice and product endorsements. However, marketers choosing an influencer as a brand ambassador need to look beyond algorithms – to things like whether the blog’s tone of voice reflects the brand values; are the blogger’s children age-relevant; do they blogger offer approval on content; and more. Creating and maintaining a network of influencers is an ongoing task, as this stream of media is more transient than others. It’s also important to stay abreast of the performance

rankings of current bloggers, as they change from month to month. In the children’s entertainment sectors, there’s another very basic factor that has to be considered – kids grow up. So, the blogger who worked with you last year on your new pre-school line might not be the right one for you this year. Helping brands engage with influencers was the simple idea behind the launch of FunFest three years ago. This year, I am delighted that the FunFest Infleuncer Summit will return, offering a one day event that gives brands the chance to meet with online influencers. In addition, a conference programme will give both bloggers and brands insight into new and future trends in this space, plus practical advice on how they can better work together.

The third space We all know our work place and we each love going home, but with the awareness of the Third Place Theory on the rise, Becky Ottery, owner of Eclectic Games discusses how it is providing a community for consumers through in-store events and engagement, that is the retailer’s best weapon in the fight for customer loyalty

Play is one of the most powerful human characteristics, and the understanding that games are not just for kids has been a key driver. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Becky Ottery is the owner of Reading’s Eclectic Games, hosting game nights, workshop weekends and plenty more to keep her customer base enthused and willing to come back time and again.

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ord of mouth is the best advertising money can’t buy. To generate it, you have to stand out, have a unique value proposition that is actually unique and exciting. Simply stocking good product isn’t enough any more. In the online age of convenience, people go to shops because they want to experience something, not just to walk out with handfuls ‘new stuff’ that they can find from the comfort of their own homes. Play is one of the most powerful human characteristics, and the broadening understanding that

games are not ‘just for kids’ has been one of the significant drivers of the year on year growth that continues in our segment - the board gaming sector, that is - of the market. As an indie retailer following a value add, rather than discount business model, our success has come from engaging with our customer’s enthusiasm. And believe me, when it comes to table top gaming, there is plenty of it. We support the games we sell, providing in-store experience that includes a comfortable place to play, people to play with and a large collection of games to try

out, engage with and, more often than not, end up taking home. There is a growing trend in toy and game retail to notice that we are selling experiences and entertainment, not boxes. The best retailers embrace this. Providing a welcoming space to meet other people with the same enthusiasm drives loyalty in customers. Seeing other people having fun and being welcomed to join in, builds an inclusive and dedicated community which is absolutely invaluable. Word of mouth spreads, as each new person tells their friends, and shares the fun they have had.

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Heading to the movies As Hollywood’s appetite for films based on toys becomes more voracious than ever, Harbottle & Lewis’ film and TV group partner, Sarah Lazarides highlights the areas to watch for when it comes to IP rights and the Silver Screen

There’s a strong appetite today for films and TV shows based on toy and game brands, making sure you have all of your IP rights in place is now paramount.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Sarah Lazarides is a partner at Harbottle & Lewis’ film and TV group, advisin clients on a broad range of comercial issues in the media and entertainment sector. She can be contacted at:


he link between toys and Hollywood has been lucrative since Star Wars. Now, there is a strong appetite for the creation of films and TV shows based on successful toys and games brands. Such brands can also be adapted for the stage or theme parks. Whether it’s a musical show, a TV quiz or a Hollywood blockbuster, it is essential to be able to license all of the necessary intellectual property rights and get a commercial deal. Many businesses get this wrong, but it’s quite easy to implement an intellectual property strategy. For new toys and games, this includes clearing the proposed brand name across all relevant categories (including entertainment), before committing to it. Then protecting it through registration in the right territories.

Of course, that should extend not just to the main brand, but also characters, place names, player shapes or other features that could be significant in spin-off entertainment and merchandise. The other common mistake is not obtaining ownership of the copyright and design rights in artwork, game boards and cards, catchphrases, toy shapes or other design elements. If these have been commissioned from independent designers, the rights need to be transferred. If you always make use of certain music in your advertising, there is a good chance that a film or television producer would expect to see that music form part of the package of rights they acquire as well. Heritage brands can be a headache, either because some of

the rights ownership is unknown, or design protection has expired. Where rights can’t be traced, socalled ‘orphan works’ legislation may help, but requires extensive searching. So what happens next? The audiovisual world can be tricky to master and most rights-holders partner with an established production company. It may be a passive licence of rights, or a much more involved co-production, but do research the production company’s track record, ensuring they are reputable and an appropriate fit. Many film and television producers will want all audio-visual rights, and certain associated rights (such as interactive rights). Owning the rights in the first place puts you in a stronger negotiating position.

Tube surfers Here at ToyNews, we like connecting people and while the conversation around the rise of YouTube influencers appears to be hot topic this month, Laura Edwards, commercial director at the talent management firm, Viral Talent talks us through the importance of nurturing the new online stars of today

Kidfluencers are taking YouTube by storm, generating legions of loyal fans and child talent has become a key marketing tool for brands today. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Laura Edwards is the commercial director of the online talent management fiorm, Viral Talent, a team of specialists that allows brands to tell their stories through the world’s top social media influencers. Get in touch at

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ver the last two years, we have seen children who have been watching their YouTube idols now take the role of influencer and launching their own channels with incredible results. These ‘Kidfluencers’ are taking YouTube by storm and generating their own community of loyal fans. The enjoyment of ‘kids watching kids’ is now very prominent in the way children are now consuming content from brands. This is highlighted via viewership figures, a key example of this is Tiana from Toys AndMe. She has generated 3.2 billion lifetime views

on her channel, while Zoella has generated just over 1.5 billion views over her two channels in her YouTube lifetime. With the rise of toy channels, kids’ parodies and kids’ gaming channels, these young YouTube stars are now generating huge interest from toy brands to expose their products through a story to their fans via vlogs and other social channels, such as PopJam. Zenith Media’s new Advertising Expenditure Forecasts report has predicted the fastest growing component of internet ad spend will be social media, which will grow at an average rate of 20 per

cent a year to 2019 when it will hit a whopping £43.8bn. Through marketing and advertising with Kidfluencers, it’s crucial that brands choose the right YouTube channel and talent, this is where Viral Talent has many young influencers on its books such as Toys AndMe (4.6m subs), Tekkerz Kid (341k subs), EmilyTube (2.8m) and Gorgeous Movies (548k). We work closely with the young talent, their parents and brands to ensure that sponsored content reaches maximum efficiency and authenticity that engages with their specific targeted kids’ audience.

May 17

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Brexit blues On Wednesday March 29th, our Prime Minister triggered ‘Article 50’, marking the beginning of Britain’s negotiations to leave the EU. Now ten months on from that fateful vote and with our pathway a little bit clearer, Jack Ridsdale takes a closer a look at the effects Britain’s new status is having on the toys industry


t’s an image that will be burned into the minds of people all over the country that made headlines on Wednesday 29th March, UK Prime Minister Theresa May signing the letter signalling the UK’s intent to withdraw from the European Union. During the referendum the supposed benefits were hazy at best and now that the £350 billion boon to our NHS has been firmly proven false, do any benefits remain for UK businesses? For starters, back in January the Prime Minister confirmed that the UK would leave the single market, discarding the benefits of reduced tariffs, costs and administrative burdens, so what does this mean for traders on UK soil? Well no matter which way you spin it, for those that deal with imported goods, it’s bad news. Paul Martin, head of retail at KPMG explains that additional tarrifs are likely to create headaches for suppliers moving goods between multiple markets. “When shipping products into other European markets you would

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have to pay another set of customs and tariffs on top of tarrifs you may have already paid and then there is the beaurocratic hassle,” explained Martin. “As far as the value of the pound, we won’t know where we stand until the EU present their offer.” Outside of purely financial concerns, there are also EU regulations to consider. It is taken for granted that the EU’s board of regulations has long kept a watchful eye on the toy industry, safeguarding it from unsafe products. The Toy Safety Directive, established in 2009 not only outlined rules regarding the general safety of toys (choking hazards etc) but also harmful chemical elements. While one of the bullet points in the Leave campaign’s manifesto was the casting off of unnecessary regulations, Jeremy Morton, partner with law firm Harbottle & Lewis LLP, explains that the regulations are unlikely to go anywhere soon. “Anyone wanting to access the EU market for toys will need to

comply with the EU’s regulations. In that sense, nothing will change. What may change, depending on the negotiations between the UK and EU, is how much bureaucracy exists at the border,” explained Morton, “New checks and controls may be introduced that slow down the process of importation.

Even where we have the option to diverge, it will, in many cases, suit the UK to keep the EU laws. Jeremy Morton, Harbottle & Lewis LLP Also, roles and responsibilities will change under things like toy safety regulations, with EUbased importers responsible for compliance and they will now beempowered to demand product information from manufacturers.” “It will be a long time before the UK’s laws diverge significantly,” added Morton, “even where we

have the option to diverge, it will, in many cases, suit the UK to keep the EU laws.“ With so many details still up in the air, some retailers believe that the majority of problems facing retailers are more localised as Dave Carter of the Arcade Toy Shop in Dudley continued. “We’ve seen price increases from suppliers, which has been the immediate effect, but we haven’t seen much difference in customer’s buying habits,” said Carter, “For us, the much bigger problems lie with our local council and, of course, decreased footfall in the High Street.” However, industry analysts like Paul Martin warn retailers not to ignore the fallout of Brexit. “It’s time to start thinking about cost optimisation and negotiating better with their suppliers.” As the Brexit negotiations roll on, Rebecca Deeming of the BTHA will be giving ToyNews updates in her BTHA column every three months. Remember to pick up the next issue of ToyNews in June for your first Brexit update.

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Health check 2017 is certainly a time of change for the UK High Streets, from Brexit to business rates and the strength of the pound to snap General Elections. Independent Retail Champion, Clare Bailey, founder of the Support for Independent Retail Campaign and the Future High Street Summit, shares her thoughts


017 really has been a time of change for the UK High Streets, from immediate issues affecting businesses on the front line such as changes to business rates, the effect of the minimum wage and footfall variations, to more long term concerns like Brexit and the snap General Election called for this June. Each, of course, carries its own potential impact on the health of the High Street and the retailers that operate within it. Business rates Let’s start with this hot potato. This is a topic that lobbyists like myself have been banging on about for over five years now. The calculation of business rates harks back to when e-commerce did not exist, making the cost of property tax for online distributors considerably less than their highstreet competition. The five-yearly national review of rates charged according to property valuation was postponed by Government from 2015 to 2017, leaving a seven year lag from 2008 valuations and the rateable value which should have impacted in 2015 but has not impacted until now. For areas suffering the most significant economic decline, high vacancy rates, low footfall etc. (predominantly the North of the UK) this has had a negative impact for the last two years. These properties, where the 2013 valuation was far lower than their 2008 valuation, have

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continued to pay rates at the 2008 level for an extra two years. It is only now that they will see some reprieve with a rates reduction. Conversely, businesses in the South have enjoyed two years of rates on the 2008 valuation, with many ignorant of the time-bomb of the 2017 increases. Some London units are now looking at a bill more than double that of last year, meaning they could no longer have a viable business.

Whether you are an ‘in’ or ‘out’ voter is now irrelevant, Brexit has caused immediate and ongoing impacts to the UK economy. Clare Bailey, Retail Champion Retailers will now need to scrutinise every cost and eliminate all wastage while focusing on maximising product margins, become obsessively focused on both increasing spend from existing customers, while engaging new customers. Wage hike Meanwhile, the issue of the April changes to minimum and living wage, coupled with utility increases are greater than the baseline rate of inflation. For retailers with employees, the minimum wage changes could cause some pain, but it also

puts more cash in the pockets of consumers, meaning it could be negated by increased sales. However, this will depend on the varying levels of footfall. While March saw an uplift in footfall, the general trend is more concerning, with close to 30 per cent decline in footfall over the last five years. Opening hours need rethinking, with later openings in the evenings and weekends. The days of opening 9am to 5pm are over and to be a viable business you need to look at your local footfall dynamics and adapt to them. The General Election On Tuesday, April 18th, Theresa May announced a snap General Election to be held on June 8th, 2017. She is, of course, seeking a democratically elected position to back her leadership through the Brexit process. Depending on which stats you choose to review, customer confidence can either rise or fall before a General Election. However, post elections, when results are clear and the uncertainty of who will be in Government is over, consumer confidence generally increases. Brexit, of course, has already taken its toll on consumer confidence, so, while the next few months will be slightly more uncertain, it is probable that once the election is over, consumer confidence levels will be boosted. However, that leads us to Brexit, which will be a much more drawn out period of uncertainty.

Brexit Whether you are an ‘in’ or ‘out’ voter is irrelevant. Brexit has caused immediate and on-going impacts to the UK economy. How the exit is negotiated will be a major concern for big businesses and independent retailers. We have already seen the drop in the value of the pound, which makes the cost of imported goods far higher than previously. As few toys are manufactured in the UK, this will have an impact on the cost price of goods to most of the UK’s toy retailers. Retailers will either have to take a reduction in margin to protect the consumer from price rises, or will have to put prices up, risking alienating consumers. This means that all costs will need to be scrutinised. Can you save money somewhere? Maximise margins and speak to suppliers about any support they can offer, it might not be a cost price reduction but they might offer support for for POS promotional activity, all of which can save the retailer from shelling out and can boost sales.

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20/04/2017 16:56


Faking it Despite efforts to clamp down on the prolific development of fake toys, the indie retail scene is still suffering at the hands of these imposters. Here, Jade Burke looks into what more could be down to cut the counterfeits


he launch of a new toy is always an exciting prospect for manufacturers and retailers alike, however cheap knock-offs now seem to be part and parcel of the industry. Quite often, as the likes of Hasbro or LEGO debut a new toy or game, bootleggers see the opportunity to make a quick buck by creating their own fake version. And with the BTHA revealing in 2015 that counterfeit toys could account for up to 10 to 15 per cent of toys on the UK market, costing the industry around £183 million, it seems these counterfeit goods are still making a huge impact. “Bootlegging is bootlegging if people can knock it off they will. If there’s money to be made people will knock it off,” Matt Booker, owner of Automattic Comics & Toys, told ToyNews. “It’s prolific and it’s everywhere. You can go on eBay and buy stuff from the Far East and similar places where people go to shop on a regular basis and it is all fake products on offer.”

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But it isn’t just the retailers that the fake toys affect, as most have not been put through official safety procedures and can cause serious harm to the children who use them. For example, in 2014 safety officials warned parents

As fakes become tougher to spot, we have to become more vigilant. Natasha Crookes, BTHA of a cancer scare after rogue consignments of Loom Bands from the Far East were found to contain deadly chemicals. Caroline Hubbard, owner of Hubbard’s Toy Cupboard, continued: “I think it’s despicable as these toys could kill a child, these toys have not been through the rigmarole that other

companies go to ensure that toys are safe. “I think trading standards should get involved more to tackle it, as most people are quick enough to complain but without the right funds, things won’t change.” It’s something the BTHA believes needs to be addressed, reinforcing the legislation in place. Natasha Crookes, director of public affairs and communications at the BTHA, cited: “Trading standards has always done a fantastic job but it needs better funding. We need better enforcement to take these people out of the market and bigger fines to make it not worth their while.” Looking out for the CE mark is a good indication to tell a fake and legitimate toy apart. However, counterfeiters are becoming more sophisticated, copying not only the toy but the packaging as well, often hoodwinking the majority of the industry.

This, then, puts more pressure on consumers to become more vigilant when shopping. “As counterfeits get more sophisticated it’s not off the back of a lorry as it might have been in the previous day and age,” explained Crookes. Reporting fake goods and sellers is not always clear for retailers or even consumers to report, which more funding could certainly help to build. However, Becky Ottery, owner of Eclectic Games, feels Trading Standards needs to take reporting more seriously. “Having a reliable, easy way of reporting sellers to Trading Standards, and not having to be the license holder to be taken seriously by them might help,” In order to clamp down on these counterfeit goods and the sellers behind them, Crookes is hopeful that customers will be more wary when they are on the look out for the next hot toy. “It cheats consumers but it really does cheat the toy companies, both the manufacturers and retailers,” concludes Crookes.

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Mastermind Boasting over 150 members Toymaster strives to ensure every member works together to get the best out of their business. Robert Hutchins catches up with MD Ian Edmunds on building relationships with the licensing industry, the buying group’s anticipated May Show and why social media is a key focus for the brand


ow has the past year been for Toymaster? What you get with Toymaster is an organisation that evolves slowly, so there are no real massive initiatives in the last year. It’s just doing everything and anything we can to help our members trade more profitably. What we do is take the initiatives that we run and refine them and move forward. You are now working with more licensors. Why is this a core focus for you guys? At the end of the day if you look at NPD, the percentage of licensed products sold is pushing up towards 40 per cent, and we don’t have an own-label programme, so the brands are very important to us. The people who own the brands and the licensors are at the top of that tree, so we have to have the relationships with those people to be able to do what we can do. Toymaster joined the BLE retail mentoring program. What will that bring to the company?

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We thought it was an interesting programme and the most amazing thing was that it was free. We hope that something comes of it and it does help to get further involvement in the licensing trade when something like that comes up. It’s a great initiative. Like we always say it’s good to talk, that can’t do any harm. And if we end up with a couple of better trained people because of it and with some more contacts while learning a bit more about what makes the world go round on the licensing side, because it’s not something we’ve ever claimed to be experts at. But if you’re going to try and understand it then you have to talk to people. With over 150 members, how are you helping retailers remain competitive on the High Street? If anything has changed, it’s trying to get the members to actually work together more and try to share information. Recently one of our members has opened a smaller secondary shop and he is struggling to get

people to come over to it. So I said he needs to put something on our forum – it’s all about sharing information at the end of the day, and sharing ideas and what’s worked for you and what hasn’t worked for you. A lot of the information is there but it’s just getting them to view it. There are conversations there about everything and anything online on our forum, and even if you’re not taking part of the conversation at least you can view it and you can search topics and all the rest of it. Some people don’t like to be brash and ask for help but some people do. But like I said, there’s no big major new initiative, but it’s just being aware of what sells and spreading that information, because what sells this year, most of it didn’t exist last year. Given that a third of all toys are new every year, you need to keep spreading information and helping people know where to point their pen. The Toymaster show is a good opportunity for this and we look forward to seeing it this year.

Toymaster has a growing social media presence. How crucial is it to be vocal on social media? We also have Snapchat now as well. It’s more crucial for our individual members than it is for Toymaster Ltd, because social media on a commercial point is very effective at a local level. The smaller the business, the smaller your locality, the more social media can work for you. Toys R Us is never going to turn its Facebook page over to an individual store. On a local level social media is really powerful. What can guests expect from the show this May? It isn’t broken and we’re not going to fix it. It’s a fantastic place for business and it’s a fantastic place to network and it’s not all just about what happens during the day, it’s a 24/7 event, well certainly for three days. The party on the Tuesday night will be centred around wigs and dressing up and the Wednesday night is a black tie masquerade ball, so be prepared. May 25

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Nicola Bergot, commercial director, Flair What are you showcasing at this year’s Toymaster event? Shopkins Cutie Cars will be a really exciting attraction this year and we will be introducing Series 8 of Shopkins with a number of new play-sets. The second series of Glimmies will be there as well as the late introduction of products for Jo Jo Siwa. What’s more, Ben 10 which is launching in July will be on display and Despicable Me which is new this month. Why is Toymaster an important show for you?

The Toymaster Show gives us the chance to show our brands for the year in a more ‘finished’ state which enables our indie retailers to select ranges with confidence ahead of the main season. More relaxed than Toy Fair, it is a fantastic chance to hear what’s happening on the high street and learn what we are doing well and not so well. How important are the indies to Flair’s business? Flair has a

great heritage with independents. The indies have always been important to us, and they are a significant part of our annual business. As owners of their own businesses, they are closer to their customers, so it is always good to hear what they have to say to us. Will you be running any offers at the show? We will have some special offers prepared for the show, yes.

What is your best Toymaster memory to date? I still have photographs of a much younger me in a school uniform at a Toymaster party night (my actual school uniform)… hopefully I am the only one who has them.

Rob Sherlock, national accounts manager, Esdevium holidays, a preview for the brand new Rory’s Story Cubes Adventure Time and a first-look at Pokémon TCG: Sun & Moon – Guardians Rising.

What are you set to showcase at this year’s Toymaster? We will bring our latest range of games, collectables and toys ideal for Toymaster stores. It will be a great event for us to showcase Dobble Beach – ideal for wet and sandy summer

Why is Toymaster an important event to you? It’s a fantastic window for suppliers to meet the indie toy traders and gauge how the market is shaping up for the year. It also gives us an opportunity to showcase our products for the run into Q4, making it a good show all round.

Will you be running any offers at the show? We will have a number of special offers at the show, with free POS solutions for key lines, Dobble, Rory’s Story Cubes and Zomlings. We will also be running a number of show deals on our key family and party games. Visit out booth to see the full breakdown of our offers at the show. How important are the indies to the Esdevium business?

The indies are a key market for the UK toy trade. They remain incredibly important to Esdevium and their buy-ins are essential when launching a new collectable craze or growing an exciting game. Indies also provide valuable feedback on how to improve our processes or point of sale and we are always listening to what they have to say.

Steve Asbey, key account manager, Mattel UK What will you be offering at this year’s Toymaster? We are excited to be launching a fantastic new girls’ brand, Enchantimals as well as some amazing products like the Barbie DreamHorse and Hot Wheels AI Racing. This will also be the first chance to see our full range of Disney Pixar’s Cars 3 product. We have new action figures and vehicles from the forthcoming

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Justice League movie and will be showcasing the new Thomas Adventures range of engines and play-sets. Why is Toymaster an important show for you? The Toymaster show is a key event for us as it is the first opportunity for us to present finished product across our TV lines as well as an ideal chance to present our mid-season launches to the indie retail scene.

Will you be running any offers at the show? Yes, we have our best ever selection of show offers this year, so make sure you visit the Mattel stand and take a look. How important are the indies to Mattel’s business? Very important. We still have a direct sales force covering the UK and Ireland independent accounts; whether with a direct call or telesales which is managed by an experienced team, Twice a year we also produce a product guide for these accounts and we

are conscious that our carriage paid orders need to be suitable, so keep these to a sensible level. What is your best Toymaster memory? Too many to recall just one. Its such a great social event.

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Marie Bureau, marketing and product development manager, Le Toy Van What will you be showcasing at this year’s Toymaster event? Le Toy Van has brought 20 new lines and 12 new looks into the catalogue for 2017. We are very excited to showcase all these new lines now available in stock. Looking at the pre-orders so far, we have had a fantastic response to the 2017 collection, some of the items will be sold out even before the first batch arrives in the country – but don’t worry, we have plenty more to follow. I would advise shops to place their pre-order sooner rather than later if they want to

capitalise on these new popular items from us. Why is Toymaster an important show for you? Toymaster counts 150 members which represents 250 stores covering the UK. For us at Le Toy Van, exhibiting at the Toymaster Show is a great opportunity to meet the members, build on a strong relationship and showcase our new price point items for great sales Q1 to Q4.

Will you be running any offers at the show? Any orders placed from April 1st, 2017 and delivered before August 15th, 2017 will benefit from a five per cent discount. This deal is for Toymaster members only and available while stock lasts. How important are the indies to Le Toy Van’s business? The independent retailers have always been Le Toy Van’s priority,

supporting our high street is very important to us. What is your best Toymaster memory to date? It’s hard to choose only one. We love Toymaster, the ambiance, the people and the toy night.

Derek Scott, general sales manager, Ravensburger

What are you showcasing at this year’s Toymaster? We are pleased to be showcasing 220 new lines in 2017, this is a mix of new, exciting Ravensburger and BRIO lines. We have 13 new licenses including PJ Masks, Disney Cars 3 as well as new

PAW Patrol and Despicable Me 3 product ranges. We are expecting 2017 to be our eighth consecutive year of growth and further cement our number one position in puzzles. With an increase in our TV campaigns and continued focus on 3D and Games, we are expecting to continue to grow our market share. Why is Toymaster an important event for you? The members support us and the show, and as a result we achieved

yet another year of growth with Toymaster in 2016, despite it being a challenging year. The show is a great place to have quality meetings, enabling us to build ranges to suit each member’s individual requirements. The Toymaster Show has always been toy trade tradition, the mix of social and business interaction

creates a unique atmosphere for everyone attending. Will you be running offers at the show? Yes, we are focusing our offers on what we believe will be the real growth drivers for the members, so expect to see some great deals, a mix of money-off promotions on key ranges and TV advertised lines. This is on top of the yearround support we give to members with POS and key seasonal deals.

Graham Brennan, commercial director, Hape Toys What will you be showcasing at this year’s Toymaster event? We will be showcasing a selection of our best products, but most notably the award-winning Hape Railway sets. Why is Toymaster an important event for Hape? This is a particularly important show to us as it is a great event that brings all Toymaster’s retailers together and helps us understand how the market

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is shaping up among the independent retail scene as well as a look at the current health of the High Street.

How important are the indies to Hape’s business? Extremely important, it allows us to hit everywhere in the UK and have a strong independent base. What is your best Toymaster memory to date? I have been in the industry for many years, so it’s hard to pin down just one. That said, for me, the best part of

the show is seeing all my friends from over the years and seeing independents grow into thriving businesses. It’s very rewarding to see their hard work pay off.

May 27

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Boyd Denton, account manager, Usborne Publishing What are you guys showcasing at this year’s Toymaster? This year sees the publication of the 50th That’s not my…touchyfeely board-book, That’s not my Unicorn… so that will be key. The series is 18-years-old and has sold over 20 million copies worldwide. Also, our new Usborne Book and Jigsaw packs, including Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast will be on show at the event.

Other Book Plus products include sewing kits, a card tricks kit and step-by-step drawing packs. We will also have Rubber Stamp Activities and a series of Magic Painting books. Why is Toymaster an important event? The toy trade is really important to us. As we see the traditional book retailers blurring the lines and taking stationery, greetings cards and toy lines, we would love to see more

toy retailers warming to a book offering. The depth of our list presents a strong offering. How crucial are indies to you? Usborne is an independent business and proud of it. We feel a real affinity to indie retailers. It’s a shame that indie bookshops have been in decline, but we are heartened that because toy shops are now stocking books, children are still able to buy books on their local high street. Will you be running any Toymaster show special offers?

We are offering five per cent extra discount on show orders, and an extra six per cent on filled spinner units. Customers can get one of our wooden floor-standing display units, full of best-selling books (worth around £800) for just over £350, a great start for anyone.

Costas Sisamos, MD/owner, Engino Net Ltd pre-school construction category and STEM Heroes, Engino’s starting product with an SRP of £5, designed to introduce children into the world of STEM.

What are you guys offering at this year’s Toymaster show? Engino is excited to be showcasing two new ranges which will be available for delivery to Toymaster members immediately. They are Qboidz, a new development in the infant

Why is Toymaster an important event to you? Toymaster is an ideal group to maximise the distribution of Engino developments across a broad consumer audience. Members have already shown their desire not only to support our toy range, but are proving to be a force in the educational aspects of our product, with

the promotion of the STEM credentials throughout their instore offerings.

which provides an extra ten per cent discount value with every order placed at the show.

Will you be running any offers at the show? We are looking to Toymaster members to support and promote Engino and at the show we have available a complete packaged Spot the Difference Competition, including window displays, product giveaways and all the tools needed to make an in store feature for members. Also available for a carriage paid order is Free of Charge stock

How important are the indies to Engino’s business? The independent trade is the foundation of the Engino business as they have the ability to present a broader range of product than many of the nationals. Engino is a collectable category covering construction, STEM and now with Qboidz, a broad range of product ideal for independents, helping them differentiate from the nationals.

Stewart Middleton, MD, Jumbo Games What are you showcasing at Toymaster this year? We will be showcasing the firstlook at our brand new AW ranges that include over 30 new adult puzzles, our exciting new Disney Cars 3 game and puzzles, Peppa Pig Flip and Find matching Game and Giant Muddy Puddles Floor Game and plenty of new GOULA wooden puzzles, toys and games. We will also be displaying our Toymaster AW catalogue lines, promoting the Wasgij Original 27, Falcon de Luxe ‘Santa’s Christmas Helpers’, Portapuzzle Standard 1000pc, Peppa Pig

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Puzzle and Colour and the Emotify Game. Why is the show crucial to you? It gives us the perfect chance to showcase new releases that we’ve launched since London Toy Fair, as well as all of our new AW releases. Having the opportunity

to speak to so many new and existing indie customers at one time is important for us, we love to hear feedback from members and keep them updated on what we’re working on and how best to maximise business with them. Will you be running any offers at the show?

We have a very strong show offer this year that retailers should take advantage of, so we encourage you to visit us in the Marquee to find out more and check our range of product.

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Kay Thompson, head of UK sales, Winning Moves What are you guys showcasing at the show this year? Following the success from the TV advertisements for Star Wars Top Trumps Quiz (£9.99) and both Marvel Avengers Top Trumps Match (£19.99) and Disney Princess Top Trumps Match (£19.99), Winning Moves is excited to launch a number of new licenses for both Top Trumps Match and Quiz. Adding to our fresh, collectable Top Trumps Quiz range, we are introducing WWE Top Trumps Quiz and Disney Classic Top Trumps Quiz. Also, we have a number of exciting, new licenses for our Top Trumps Match range, including: Harry Potter, Star Wars, Super Mario, Shopkins, DC Comics, Despicable ME and Emotis. Winning Moves will be presenting true family

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favourites with a fresh twist with six brand new puzzles, all of which contain a full-scale poster and puzzle image. Jump into the world of Super Mario and friends or challenge yourself with the

Mario Kart Funracer 1000 Piece Jigsaw Puzzle. For Zelda fanatics, two new puzzles: Zelda Hyrule 500 Piece Jigsaw Puzzle is a beautiful illustration of Hyrule Field, while the Legend of Zelda 1000 Piece Jigsaw Puzzle contains Link and Epona from the iconic Ocarina of Time game. Why is Toymaster an important event? For Winning Moves, the Toymaster Harrogate show is a great destination to meet and greet our valued members, showcase our brand new products including licensed releases, allowing us to share our excitement

about new lines and discuss promotional opportunities. Are you running any Toymaster show offers? Yes, we will have plenty of show offers for members this year. Buyers can take advantage of our Toymaster Special Offer: five per cent off any £500 order and ten per cent off any £1000 order. We are also offering one-drop delivery on all deliveries by the end of June 2017.

May 29

20/04/2017 15:51


Lauren Shipman, group brand manager, Posh Paws International

What will you be showcasing at this year’s Toymaster event? Posh Paws is excited to be showcasing some all new movie plush, bestselling collectable ranges and some awesome new backpack designs. Highlights at the Toymaster Show will include the in demand Despicable Me 3 soft toy and backpack collection and all new Cars 3 and Spider-Man plush toys to support two of this summer’s blockbuster movies. From the big screen to the small screen, the latest preschool brands Mickey and the Roadster Racers and Tangled the TV series will be on show.

Plus, everyone’s favourite characters will be back from Winnie the Pooh, Disney Princess and Mickey and Minnie, as well as the very latest Tsum Tsum characters ranges that will be launching over the coming months. This year, there really will be something to suit every toy and gift operation. Why is Toymaster an important event for Posh Paws? The Toymaster show really is the perfect

opportunity to not just showcase our latest ranges, but spend time with the independents and find out what their individual successes and challenges are. Will you be running any offers at the show? There will be special discounts and show offer bundles available to Toymaster members for orders placed at the show – visit our stand to find out more. How important are the indies to Posh Paws’ business? Independents are a key part of our overall turnover, our business continues to

steadily grow within Indies but we also know that there is new opportunities for Posh Paws and plush within this sector. What is your best Toymaster memory to date? Toymaster in general is a very fun and social event. I always have happy memories from each and every show.

Sarah Hunt, national account manager, Spin Master

adorable Hatchimals come inside small, speckled eggs and they need a child’s touch to hatch.

What will you be showcasing at this year’s event? PAW Patrol remains a priority for Spin Master and is still rating the number one pre-school property. This autumn, we are rolling out the new Sea Patrol theme, including the incredible Sea Patroller which is packed with superb features. Also, following the success of Hatchimals last autumn, we will be launching our new CollEGGibles range – these

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Why is Toymaster an important event to you? The Toymaster Show is incredibly important to Spin Master, not only is it the perfect opportunity to showcase new products, but more importantly it gives us the opportunity to spend time with Toymaster members. Understanding what our independent customers need enables us to better communicate, support and grow our business together. The Toymaster May Show provides great exposure to first hand, honest feedback, which is crucial for the continued success and future development of our brands and for Spin Master.

How important are the indies to Spin Master’s business? The independent trade remains an important focus for us and we are working more closely than ever with Toymaster to ensure a successful partnership between Spin Master and Toymaster members.

Also, last year for Paul Reader receiving his Golden Teddy.

What is your best Toymaster memory to date? 2015 will remain a firm memory in my mind as a significant turning point for us and Toymaster. This was the first year all the hard work paid off and we started delivering accelerated growth on the Toymaster account.

20/04/2017 16:51

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Licence Sin City From The King to Manilow, Las Vegas is no stranger to pop culture royalty. It’s no wonder then that each year, the latest in big brand entertainment flocks to The Strip to indulge in a spate of hedonistic licensing partnering. Robert Hutchins catches up with Jessica Blue, senior vice president, licensing, UBM to find out what Licensing Expo has to offer to members of the toy industry and find out just what does happen in Vegas.

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s the number two market for licensed products in the world, it’s no wonder that each year the most wide-eyed and eager of the British licensing industry flock to Las Vegas to delight in the wonders of Licensing Expo. In fact, it is us Brits that make up the second largest attendee group at the show that, this year, taking place in the usual haunt of the Mandalay Bay Convention Centre somewhat earlier this time around, boasts more than 310 exhibitors showcasing over 1,000 brands. Being hardened toy industry professionals as we all are, it comes as no surprise that toys is a very significant category for the licensing industry, and while we are in the midst of seeing growth from emerging sectors such as video game licensing and even the adult pleasure toy market, it is still the children’s toys sector that continues to grow. Across the pond, around 30 per cent of all toys sold in the US are the result of licensing partnerships, while according to the NPD, the US toy market grew by a full five per cent to reach $20.4bn by the end of 2016. “The toy industry continues to innovate using new technologies, partnering with brands and character IPs which allows manufacturers and retailers to unlock the potential of the brand equity already built by the IP owner,” Jessica Blue, SVP of licensing at UBM tells ToyNews. In its 2016 results, the NPD group pointed towards stand out brands, like Star Wars, Pokémon Go, Trolls and Batman vs. Superman as major driving forces behind the year-on-year growth. This year, and with the continued growth of the licensed toys sector, a very similar set of results are expected to be reflected. “Thousands of toy retailers and manufacturers attend the Expo to spot consumer trends and to connect with the exhibiting brands to develop new ideas for games,

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toys and, of course, relationships,” continues Blue. “The Character and Entertainment section of the show floor hosts approximately 2,800 brands, making it the prime destination for exhbitors such as NBC Univeral, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Mattel and Nintendo. “As such, I would encourage all toy companies attending to explore the area, as well as the Brands and Agents area, where

Thousands of toy retailers and manufacturers attend the Expo to develop new games, toys and relationships Jessica Blue, UBM new and interesting opportunities are waiting to be discovered,” enthuses Blue. Last year, Licensing Expo 2016 played host to over 16,200 retailers, manufacturers and licensees from all over the world, drawing in crowds from all corners of the earth, making it one of the most internationally attended shows in the industry calendar.

But just because the show ‘ain’t broke’, doesn’t mean that it is adverse to a spot of evolution, and while Licensing Expo 2017 will retain the core elements that has helped it rocket to success, certainly over the last three years, there are some major changes on the horizon. “This year, Licensing Expo will have a completely new look and feel with the launch of Licensing Week, acknowledging the many licensing events going on in and around the show, such as the Opening Keynote featuring Cole Gahagan, chief commercial officer of Fanatics Inc; an Orientation Session; Licensing University’ the return of the Matchmaking Service and the Opening Night Party. But networking events and waking up in the penthouse suite with an enraged tiger and a tattooed face aside (the opening party has garnered quite the reputation over the years), let’s not forget that Licensing Expo is as much about encouraging and filling those brain cells with important licensing information as it is about subsequently killing them with martinis and daiquiris. “Among the highlights of this year’s Licensing University line-up, we have: Building an Entertainment Licensing Programme from Scratch,

Collaborations, Capsules and Limited Editions, The Changing Landscape of Digital Entertainment, Planning and Executing Your Social Media Strategy and Navigating the Online Retail Environment, among much more to see.” With so much to offer, Las Vegas’ Licensing Expo may appear a little daunting – if you manage to drag yourselves away from the slot machines, roulette tables and All American Buffets, of course. And with so much to fit in to the week-long event, Jessica Blue offers just one very important tip for anyone heading over to the show for the first time. “Plan, plan, plan,” she says. “At you can register for the show, purchase a Licensing University All-Access Pass, explore the Matchmaking service, get hotel information and start planning your licensing experience in Las Vegas.”

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Johanne Broadfield, VP EMEA at Cartoon Network Enterprises What will you be showcasing this year? Leading the charge are two of our most popular franchises, Ben 10 and The Powerpuff Girls. The fresh take on Ben 10 debuted on TV screens across EMEA last October and has already reached over 27 million individuals since launch, while the Powerpuff Girls are gaining popularity across EMEA with over 49 million individuals tuning in since the girls returned to TV screens in April 2016. We’ll of course be presenting opportunities for Adventure Time, The Amazing World of Gumball, We Bare Bears and brand-new Boomerang Original, The Happos Family.

shaping up to be one of our biggest years yet. For PPG, the first wave of toys from Spin Master has begun rolling-out across EMEA, supported by marketing and retail activities. The merchandise offering is expanding this spring as we introduce fashion, accessories, publishing, gifting, homewares, personal care, FMCG and backto-school products. We’re gearing up for the Ben 10 consumer products launch that will kick off this summer with Playmate’s new toy range.

It’s being distributed across Europe by Giochi Preziosi and in the UK by Flair. Why should the toy space be excited by Cartoon Network’s 2017 offering? Retailers are getting very excited about the new Ben 10 toys which are looking set to make a very big bang in the toy space when they launch this summer. To ensure there’s something for every fan to love, the new range will cover all price points and include a vast array of action

figures, a Basic and Deluxe version of the Omnitrix watch, in addition to one of my favourite items, the Rustbucket Playset. What does this year and beyond bring for you? Alongside the merch roll-outs for Ben 10 and The Powerpuff Girls, Adventure Time is continuing to stir great interest from licensees. We’re beginning to see local successes for The Amazing World of Gumball too, utilising our new style guide and we’ll be announcing new partners across our brand portfolio this year.

Why is 2017 set to be a successful year for you? With the launch of strong merchandise programmes for both Ben 10 and The Powerpuff Girls this year, it’s already

Russell Dever, managing director, Those Licensing People

What will you guys be taking to the Expo this year? KidsCast, KidsCast, KidsCast. Our new digital platform is set in the funtastical world of the KidsCast Kingdom where Kids can navigate the Magical Forest, Funfair, KidsCast Castle, KidsCast Cove and The Space between worlds. Each section is dedicated to a different feature including shows, games, books, songs, educational content and a digital magazine Imagine. The app also has the capability to cast the shows directly to TV or

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cast ready devices. Safety online and brand outreach are the motivating factors. Why is 2017 set to be a successful year for you? With the company expanding rapidly and the growth of our digital kids platform KidsCast, 2017 is going to be a huge year for TLP. Becoming a ‘broadcaster’ has the added advantage of being able to have a direct reach into the consumer market and using this data to get the widest exposure for our content providers and licensees. In house publishing and animation has allowed us to create some new exciting IP, look out for a ground breaking musical and educational property coming late 2017, which combines both the digital and toy market. We also have an animated film in production.

Why should the toy space be excited by TLP’s 2017 offering? Brands can now access enormous market influencers and work alongside dedicated teams to get the best for a specific property within a specific sector. Working with industry leading brands to sustain them and successfully launch new ones is what we do. KidsCast has been a revolution for the way kids access content in a safe environment and will continue to grow for the foreseeable future as we add new content every month.

2017 will see Popcorn the Bear, Zuma the Dog, Bogglenoz and others coming to market. Working with top publishers like Redan, plus animation from 1461 Productions and KidsCasts enviable market reach all make for another fruitful licensing programme for us.

What does this year and beyond bring for TLP’s licensing programme? Working with brands such as ZOU, Dragonball Z and Zepto Lab brought great success in 2016 and we will continue to support these brands in 2017.

Any tips for Vegas? Look out for our friends “On a mission to Learn” Super Geek Heroes who have just arrived on KidsCast with Season 2 on it’s way. Plus keep an eye out for a new exciting toy brand coming to market this year.

20/04/2017 17:25


Trudi Hayward, SVP head of global merchandise, ITV Studios Global Entertainment

What will you guys be showcasing at Licensing Expo? We have a spectacular portfolio to showcase, which includes ITV owned properties as well as some third party brands. Top of the list are our actionpacked boys’ animation series Thunderbirds Are Go and the brand-new Netflix Original series Robozuna, in which 14-year-old Ariston and his homemade robot sidekick Mangle attempt to free their oppressed nation from an evil empire. There’s also the ever-popular Supermarionation brands created by Gerry Anderson, including the original Thunderbirds as well as Captain

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Scarlet which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, while we’ll be bringing our British drama series’ Poldark and Victoria to the Expo following standout ratings success in multiple territories. Finally, we’ll be talking to licensees about exciting opportunities for family favourite Watership Down, a new coproduction between the BBC and Netflix, and our other third party brands Oddbods, Super 4 and Village People. Why is 2017 set to be a successful year for you? To mark the 50th anniversary of Captain Scarlet in September, we are launching a range of new limited edition anniversary products with licensees such as Big Chief Studios, Planet Replicas and Big Finish Productions. We’ve also seen Thunderbirds star in the latest campaign for Halifax bank in the UK, with the premiere of the TV commercial reaching six million viewers and nationwide

outdoor, in-branch and experiential presence to support it. We are very excited about the collaboration with Regatta and their new range of Thunderbirds Are Go ‘adventurewear’ for kids launching later this year, and Bernard Matthews is also seeing its turkey nuggets range in the shape of the Thunderbird vehicles expand their listings across multiple retailers. Why should the toy space be excited by ITV’s 2017 offering? We are expanding our global footprint for Thunderbirds Are Go this year. The show is already airing in over 40 countries, and we are now looking to launch merchandising in new markets including Asia. We also have our hot new Netflix Original kids property Robozuna, which we will launch officially at BLE, but we look forward to giving licensees a taster at LIE. We are already starting to think about the incredible toy opportunities for this property, with the launch of

the toy offering following its broadcast. What does this year and beyond bring for ITV’s licensing programme? As well as continuing to make our brands bigger and better in more countries and categories, and looking forward to the debut of Robozuna in 2018, we will also be talking to licensees about opportunities for the new interpretation of Watership Down. This co-production between the BBC and Netflix will feature an all-star voice cast including James McAvoy, Sir Ben Kingsley, Olivia Colman, Nicholas Hoult and Gemma Arterton. These two brands will form a major part of our licensing programme over the next few years, and we are already laying the groundwork. We are also in advanced discussions about other new and exciting projects, which we are hoping to announce around - or shortly after - LIE, so watch this space.

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Fisher-Price Play More campaign aims for millennial parents with creative social media The globally revered pre-school toymaker is embracing new media with a new initiative that continues to push video content and social media presence BY JACK RIDSDALE


isher-Price has outlined its plans to embrace new media with a new marketing campaign that aims to hook the emerging millennial parent audience. The Play More campaign highlights the firm’s initiative to move away from traditional advertising with its plans for video content, backed by appearances from a prominent celebrity mum. “Social media is a popular platform with mums and as a result is an effective way for us to drive awareness and engage with our consumers,” commented Wendy Hill, director of brand activation at Mattel UK. “It also provides us with an opportunity to drive traffic to retailers and to help consumers purchase products that they have showed interest in.” This move marks another in a series of maneuvers by parent company Mattel towards new media marketing after the firm announced back in December 2016 that their biggest marketing

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focus of the coming year would be on YouTube influencers. Fisher-Price confirmed a large part of the Play More campaign would focus on ‘snackable’ video content, engaging videos that lend themselves to sharing on social media platforms, of which the most notable is Facebook. With this new focus on video content, the firm aims to engage parents behind the idea of creative play, encouraging natural curiosity, exploration and inspiring the imagination. The videos will showcase key Fisher-Price products bringing the campaign’s messages to life. “Creativity is a fundamental part of a child’s development,” added Hill. “Feeding their natural curiosity, encouraging exploration, stimulating little one’s imaginations, while also helping them to learn and grow in their own way.” The firm has outlined plans for several videos, starting with the Rock-a-Stack, which aims to help children

understand their world while teaching grasping and stacking and handeye coordination. Elsewhere, Baby’s First Blocks will encourage creativity and teach shapes, while Fun Feelings Monster, teaches nurturing social skills and emotions. Finally, Jonathan Adler Monkey Mirror will stimulate senses and encourage self-discovery. 01268 500 000

20/04/2017 15:17


Trends enjoys ‘enthusiastic’ response to new ELAs The toy firm is bolstering its ELA offering with additional Peppa Pig and Thomas toys, which have already surpassed sales expectations thanks to support from eOne and Mattel BY JADE BURKE


rends UK has had an ‘enthusiastic’ response to its latest Peppa Pig and Thomas Electronic Learning Toys (ELAs), which have recently joined the toy firm’s growing portfolio. Inspired by the hit children’s TV shows, the new Peppa’s Laugh & Learn Alphaphonics and Peppa’s Play Mat have been added to the Peppa Pig collection, alongside the Thomas Flip & Learn Phone and Thomas Learn & Play Alphaphonics, which aim to help children understand colours, shapes, communication, phonetics and numeracy through fun, interactive play.

“Response so far has been really enthusiastic from customers and parents. Plus, sales have surpassed our expectations,” Lindsay Hardy, marketing director at Trends UK, told ToyNews. “Children will recognise the look and sounds from their favourite characters and learn with them, without making it feel like a chore.” Available for both UK and Irish retailers to stock, Hardy is excited to have iconic companies on board such as eOne and Mattel, which she believes gives retailers the confidence to sell. Hardy explained: “We are delighted to work with such great evergreen properties from

eOne and Mattel. Having the reassurance of such solid brands on our new lines gives retailers confidence they will perform year in year out.” Trends UK previously launched five ELA items featuring both

Thomas and Peppa last autumn, and with four more products joining this year, it looks like Trends UK has a lot more up its sleeve for its burgeoning portfolio. “We will have a few new things to reveal in the future, but can’t say yet,” concluded Hardy. Trends UK: 01295 768 078

Petilou toys deliver early years success for Le Toy Van New lines in the ‘stronger than ever’ Petilou collection have been so popular with customers, items have sold out before arriving in the UK. But don’t worry, says the firm, there’s plenty more still to come this year and next BY ROBERT HUTCHINS At five months into 2017, Le Toy Van is already celebrating a big year for its popular pre-school toy range, Petilou. The collection – featuring stacking towers, sensory shapes, vehicles and more for little ones to enjoy – was met with a sweeping success from customers and retailers throughout this year’s Toy Fair season, with four new launch items already sold out.

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According to the international toy firm, pre-orders on stock have been up for a roster the company believes is ‘stronger than ever.’

“The Petilou Toddler Collection was first launched in 2015 with only seven products in the portfolio. It was met with great response from our customers and in 2017, the collection has increased up to 28 toys and is stronger than ever,” Marie Bureau, marketing and product development manager at Le Toy Van, told ToyNews. “The Petilou Collection is only three years old, but, so far, 2017 seems to have set off to be a great

year, judging by the popularity of the existing items and the success of the new ones at the shows.” New markets have also recently opened up to Le Toy Van through a recent, exclusive partnership with P&G Pampers Reward Club. While the toy company is keeping its cards close to its chest for future developments within the Petilou range, Bureau has teased that ‘some very exciting surprises are coming up for the collection for 2018’.

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‘Kidult’ toys offer new margin makers for retailers, says NPD Now that more adults are choosing to treat themselves with purchases of collectables, board games and building sets, the NPD Group feels that the growing ‘kidult’ market is a ‘sign of the times’ that retailers can’t ignore BY JADE BURKE


ith more adults spending their hard earned cash on toys for themselves, market research group NPD believes that ‘kidult’ toys could be the next big margin maker for today’s retailers. Games and puzzles, collectables, action figures and even building sets are proving popular with today’s millenials, as well as adults aged from 35 to 54 years old, which the group believes retailers should be tapping into. “It is one way to differentiate from the competition if nothing else and it is a growing segment (increasing by 65 per cent since 2012),” Frederique Tutt from the NPD Group, told ToyNews. “The kidult spending power is not negligible


Stuart Grant, The Entertainer

Geoff Sheffiled, The Toy Store

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and when buying on impulse or for collection this consumer might not be as focused on price so that could present some good margin opportunities too.” According to the group, the ‘kidult’ market has grown by 65 per cent in value terms

since 2012 and has increased by 21

The trend for the not so young buying toys for themselves is a sign of our times, and can be the next big retail margin maker. Frederique Tutt, NPD Group per cent in 2016 alone, indicating this sector could offer retailers a huge margin boost. Tutt continued: “This is in part being driven by younger consumers,

millennials, and also adults with no kids at home. “They probably have more time and a disposable income compared to young and not-soyoung families.” Last year, one in every 11 toys sold was bought by a grown-up for personal use, and with popular TV and film properties such as Star Wars and Breaking Bad releasing toys and games, it’s no wonder adults are showing a growing interest in toys, which Tutt feels retailers can take advantage of. “If retailers have an in-store presence, then an ‘impulse’ section or themed section could drive sales,” continued Tutt. “While online retailers could put forward a grown-up section/ store-in-store like they do for LEGO or Barbie to make it easier for the consumer to navigate.” This spike in ‘kidult’ toys clearly shouldn’t be ignored, and can certainly offer today’s retailers a way of standing out from the crowd, as Tutt cited: “The trend for the not-so-young buying toys for themselves is a sign of our times.”

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

Linzi Walker, Argos

Brian Simpson, Toytown

Clare Barton, Sainsbury’s

Neil Mitchell, Shop Direct

Annalise Quest, Harrods

Steph Strike, Asda

Ben Redhead, Firebox

Alphonse Madamombe, Maplin

Helen Gourley, Toy Hub

Miles Penhallow, Play-Room

Karla Mitchell, XBite

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Own bargains Own-label products are now a key part of many retailers’ portfolio, but are these low-cost toys now starting to damage the independent retail scene who champion branded goods? Here, Jade Burke ask this month’s ToyShop UK listing how detrimental these own-branded toys are to indies on the High Street


t’s not uncommon to see today’s grocers and department stores offering their own-label toy products, and with shoppers constantly on the look out for a cheaper alternative, it’s no wonder these retailers are looking to increase their own offering. For the larger guys, designing and developing an own-branded toy line seems like the logical next step for a retailer to grow its presence in the market.

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However, this has been labelled as ‘damaging’ by the indie retail scene, who are competing with these huge retail names. Not only that, shelf space is being pushed to the limit with many toy brands all fighting for a spot on retailers’ shelves, with many items often featuring similar characteristics and core learning skills for kids. Therefore, if a retailer is looking to fill its shelves, why not fill it with its own branded line of toys?

Recently, The Entertainer also outlined plans to bring out its ownlabel products over the coming year, revealing that it will be ‘good quality, well produced and well sourced products at excellent value for money’. With The Entertainer now taking advantage of own-labelled products, and retailers including John Lewis, Hamleys, Sainsbury’s and Tesco offering their own variants, the sales of these goods could be destructive to the indie.

“I am furious that supermarkets are now selling wooden toys and other toys. Why can’t they just stick to groceries like they started out with,” Paul Commander, owner of Penrith store The Toy Works, tells ToyNews. “It’s not only the supermarkets that are getting in on the toy market, nearly every garden centre and now farm shops and coffee shops are starting to stock toys. “I am an independent retailer who specialises in traditional

20/04/2017 11:14


wooden toys, and they are swamping the market place with their products.” Clearly grocers and department stores have rocked the indie scene, selling toys that were previously only available in specialist toy stores alongside their own branded lines. However, surely a branded toy will come out top when customers are on the look for a reputable product for their child to enjoy? Charlotte Croser, owner of Jollys, believes so: “Wooden toys is a category in which many retailers seem to be producing own brands, so our wooden toy range, particularly Big Jigs, stands out as being more original,” she explains. “I think consumers prefer a branded toy, especially if giving it as a gift, so will the own-brands win hearts?”

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Offering bespoke toys in stores is what makes an independent toy retailer stand out from the crowd, giving store owners the opportunity to be more selective when it comes to choosing their stock, which will no doubt help retailers remain competitive against own-branded goods from large multiples. Plus, with toy companies constantly replenishing their stock with new toys, customers are likely to head to their local toy shop where they will be able to find out advice and source a must have-toy, which may not be available within a multiple focussing on their ownlabelled goods. Peter Allinson, owner of Whirligig Tunbridge Wells, agrees: “Being independent means not following what everyone else is trying to do. Our shops stand out because we have chosen toys and brands that offer our customers choice.” Following the news that The Entertainer will develop its own branded line of toys, buying group Toymaster also outlined its viewpoint on own-label goods, revealing it has ‘no plans to bring them into its in-store offering.’ “We do not have one either in-store, in the planning stage or even in our list of the top 100 things to do to help our members trade more profitably,” said Ian Edmunds, MD of Toymaster. As a buying group offering various benefits for numerous members from the indie retail scene, it is clear that own-label items can be damaging for an independent with a store full of branded goods. And with supermarkets and department stores offering everything from groceries to household items and toys all under one roof at slashed prices, can retailers really compete? “We can’t compete with the price and the purchaser is not as aware of the lesser quality of the product when they make the purchase,” cites Mimi Gorman, owner of The Cheshire Cat in Hillsborough. Sian Hughes from Ringinglow Toys echoes this sentiment: “It’s so damaging that we sold our shops and got out of toy retail.”

Although own-label products may be significantly cheaper compared to branded goods from well-known toy firms, each offer an alternative product to retailers. For example, branded goods could be considered the latest, musthave toy, while own-labelled goods could be deemed as a quick profit maker for retailers looking to cater for everybody. This is something that Croser believes will help to enhance the sales for indies, she continues:

Retailers selling ownbranded toys are so damaging to the indie profits that we had to sell our shop and leave the toy retail business. Sian Hughes, Ringinglow Toys “Hopefully this trend for own-label toys will protect the margins of the brands that independents stock, which is very positive.” In contrast, The Toy Works’ Commander feels that the blame lies with suppliers and sales representatives who choose to sell to grocers and department stores, who are selling branded goods, as well as their own-label line. “Whatever happened to loyalty between suppliers and their original customers? They have

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

representatives out on the road who don’t give a damn as long as they get the orders and earn their commission. Perhaps I should start selling groceries and pot plants too,” he quips. No doubt indie retailers would jump at the chance to put their own inventions into physical items, however Mitch Brown, owner of Darths Hutt, feels the costing of this is far too high, which unfortunately gives the larger guys the opportunity to weigh in on. He adds: “I agree that this affects independent retailers, but unfortunately we just have to go with it as there is nothing we can do. I’m sure we all have ideas of our own ranges and exclusives but the costs would be far too great.” With larger retailers, such as Tesco and John Lewis choosing to delve into an own-branded line of toys, it certainly does give today’s independent retailers the opportunity to build on their branded products, which will no doubt help to make them stand out in this crowded marketplace with an offering customers cannot find in their everyday grocer. “It is an opportunity for the indies to carry branded lines, that the multiples may not carry, there actual toy ranges are quite narrow,” explains Julian Shelford, owner of the Final Frontier. Croser concludes: “It means that the brands we sell aren’t common place in the bigger shops, which is a major, positive point of difference for us.”

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

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Dolly mixture The doll sector is brimming with innovation for retailers to tap into, boasting some of the latest licenses and built-in technology for kids to enjoy. Jade Burke takes a look at some of the hottest items to hit the marketplace JOHN ADAMS First launched in the 1960s, Tiny Tears was the first fully functioning feeding, crying and wetting doll with closing eyes, moveable arms, legs and head. Loved by children for generations, today there are a range of Tiny Tears dolls at all key price points. Included in the line-up is a Teeny Tiny Tears doll, Tiny Tears Interactive doll and Tiny Tears Best Friends. In addition, the Classic Tiny Tears doll has all of the features of the original product with a modern look for today’s kids, including a specially designed dress with patterned fabric that is completely unique to Tiny Tears. Classic Tiny Tears comes complete with all her essential

accessories, including bottle, potty, pacifier and hairbrush for lots of play value for young children to enjoy role-playing as mummy and daddy. The Classic Tiny Tears Interactive Doll is a fully functional doll that not only feeds, cries tears and wets, but makes realistic baby sounds too. Kids can press her tummy to hear her laugh, cry or even say ‘mama’. The interactive doll set also includes a bottle, bib, potty and nappy for children to take role-playing to another level. Also part of the range is the Teeny Tiny Tears soft-bodied doll, which has dual function packaging that can be turned

into a cute cot – the perfect introduction to the popular Tiny Tears brand. Children can also dress her in a soft babygro so she is all ready for bedtime, as well as snuggle up with Baby Tiny for sweet dreams. There’s even a set of twins for fans to play with. Designed for children aged from three to six years old, Tiny Tears Best Friends is a set of two soft-bodied dolls. Each doll comes with their own co-ordinating fleece dungarees in a pink and blue colourway, as well as a hat and dummy, making them the ideal play companions for little ones. All dolls are available now for purchase and will benefit from TV advertising and PR support throughout the year. 01480 414 361

GP FLAIR GP Flair can always be counted on when it comes to dolls, with an expansive range designed for little ones to older girls. And this year’s portfolio is no different, boasting a well-known fashion doll, as well as a must-have new doll line from one of its popular licensed preschool brands. The evergreen Doc McStuffins toy has a new delivery with a new Baby McStuffins theme. Inspired by Disney’s animated TV series, and in keeping with the new series programming, the new Lil’ Nursery Pals toys will launch in July. The line-up is set to boast huggable plush bodies, plastic faces and cute expressive eyes, which the toy firm is sure will win over tots everywhere. Four characters will be available to collect and each one comes with its own dummy accessory.

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Get Better Baby Cece will also be a major attraction for any retailer’s doll aisle. The large doll comes with several interactive features for children to enjoy including a dummy, which takes her temperature and a light and sound stethoscope. The doll also comes in a cute plush outfit, with a bottle and dummy that clips onto her outfit to ensure safe keeping for kids. For older girls, the Shoppies dolls are going globetrotting this year on an exciting international theme. Boasting three dolls to choose from including, Poppette ‘A Bowl Lot a Fun,’ Jessicake ‘The Cupcake Cutie’, and Bubbleish ‘Bubble Trouble’, a new line of play-sets will also be available from Flair to compliment the Shoppies on this new adventure. 0208 643 0320

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CHARACTER OPTIONS From the world of Little Live Pets comes the unique new Bizzy Bubs dolls. These adorable babies bring youth electronics to the dolls aisle in a fun new way, while still offering young ones the traditional nurturing play pattern. Filling the gap in the market for a low price point feature doll, the Walking Babies and Crawling Babies are not to be missed.

Poppy and Primmy will crawl around just like real babies while Polly Petals and Snowbeam are one step ahead and will toddle around. Each baby is packed full of features – for example they will

make lifelike, fun baby sounds, feed from their bottles and suck their dummies. Also available as part of the range are two Bizzy Bubs playsets – Bouncing Gracie bounces excitedly in her cute crib – it’s also perfect for when she needs to nap.

TV, and is supported by a full underwater adventure themed range including the Barbie Dolphin Magic Snorkel Fun Friends Doll and a fun Barbie Dolphin Magic Ocean View Boat. Barbie and her friends will be ready for

outdoor adventures in the Barbie Camper, which transforms from an RV to a play-set. Girls will enjoy exploring nurturing play with the new Barbie Pet Care Center Playset, while the Barbie Crimp & Curl Doll helps girls express their own unique style. The Barbie brand has an exciting year ahead of dynamic marketing plans, consumer brand messages, content, TV,

MATTEL The toy firm is hoping Barbie will empower girls to inspire their limitless potential by enabling them to imagine themselves as anything from a princess to a president, bringing this to life as only Barbie can. Barbie will introduce new launches for AW17 including Barbie Dreamhorse, an interactive pet companion who can really communicate with Barbie for the first time ever. New excitement and more diversity than ever before will be introduced into the new look Barbie Fashionistas range for AW17, and younger girls will love magical new additions to the world of Barbie Dreamtopia as the delicious new kingdom Sweetville is brought to life with Sweetville Princess Doll, Carriage and Castle. Elsewhere, Barbie Dolphin Magic will enjoy a theatrical release before premiering on

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Meanwhile, Swirly will play peek-a-boo with kids and comes with a carrier so children can take her with wherever they go, increasing role-play functionality. Bizzy Bubs will launch with a full marketing campaign including TV advertising, kids press and digital campaigns, not to mention lots of influencer activity. 0161 633 9800

PR, digital and retail activations for fans to look out for. Mattel is also proud to introduce new property Enchantimals in AW17, a woodland-themed doll brand that celebrates friendship and the unbreakable bond between girls and their animal friends. The new doll brand is set in a world where each character has their very own pet friend in the Enchantimals Doll/Animal Assortment. Plus, the brand will also be launched with a robust marketing plan including content, TV, PR and in-store retail support. DC Super Hero Girls dolls burst onto the market in 2016 disrupting the toy aisle with their action ready figures, and 2017 will see new faces, stories and adventures for fans to enjoy, as well as new character Starfire set to launch. Monster High introduces a new thematic with Garden Ghouls including the 14.5-inch Garden Ghouls Treesa Thornwillow Doll, the tree girl doll that becomes a tree monster play-set. 01628 500 000

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New for 2017 from Le Toy Van is a wooden play-set scaled to fit all of the international toy company’s Dolls’ Houses. The new set boasts a mini replica of Honeybake Ice Lollies (detachable ices) as well as a tray, two presents, a party bag, a birthday cake with candles and a party bunting.

Simba Smoby’s varying dolls portfolio features some exciting properties for 2017. With a variety of price points and features, Simba has something for everyone. One of the most anticipated properties in the portfolio is Masha and the Bear, and the master toy range has the perfect lines for any retailers’ dolls aisle. The 23cm Masha Doll is styled like the character from the show giving it instant appeal for any fan of the hit series. Feature dolls also come in the form of Singing Masha and Tickle Me Masha, which make great interactive options, while the assortment of four collectable Masha Mini Dolls

Available in bright, eyecatching colours, including pink, purple, blue and red, children will be able to enjoy role-playing with Le Toy Van’s offering. This 12-piece accessory pack is a great addition to both the Daisylane and popular Sugar Plum collections. 020 8979 2036

meets the ideal pocket money price point. Another master toy license not to be missed is Wissper. The toys capture the essence of Wissper and her animal friends, and fans of the show have been heading straight for the 8.5-inch Wissper and Peggy doll set. In this set, Wissper is articulated and comes with an array of accessories such as her signature panpipe, a bag, mirror, binoculars and a hair brush. For autumn, a new 15-inch feature doll will also be available that has three different sound phrases, plays music, and says Wissper’s signature catchphrase, ‘shhhhh’. The line is sure to delight any fan of the show. 01274 765 030

ZAPF CREATION Explore the world of realistic nurturing role-play with Baby Annabell, the UK’s number one nurturing doll brand. This autumn, Baby Annabell will see the launch of several additions to its popular Baby Annabell Newborn and core Baby Annabell ranges, including new themes and accessories. Just like a real baby, the Baby Annabell doll has lifelike functions, including realistic sounds and movements, drinking water, crying real tears, and wetting her nappy. Promoting imaginative role-play, she encourages the development of social skills from a young age. The core Baby Annabell family will welcome a refresh to the Baby Annabell Learns To Walk doll this autumn, as well as a brand new swimming themed doll.

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A Sweet Dreams theme will also reveal a new world of play with a range of accessories and friends, while new additions to the accessories and deluxe clothing

ranges will also be a focus for A/W 2017. Baby born encourages both mothercare and fantasy roleplay with a range of dolls and

accessories proven to help develop social skills and values. For autumn, there will be a number of new product, fashions and accessory launches within the brand’s already established play themes. The My Little Baby born range will see the introduction of a new feature doll, complete with voiceactivated functions. The Baby born Bathtime range will be making a splash with new accessories including real water functions and sounds – ideal for interactive role-play with both the Baby born interactive and Sister dolls line. The enchanted Baby born Wonderland theme will see new product additions, including new doll and whimsical fashions with light up functions. 0845 0533 333

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CASDON Famous for its trusted brands and role-play toys, Casdon offers not just pretend appliances but also has a successful range of dolls accessories in its Baby Huggles portfolio. The Baby Huggles range is a proven seller and offers a onestop shop for any modern 46cm doll. Keeping on trend, 2017 has seen a refresh to the design bringing a contemporary and up-to-date feel to the collection. Boasting a new colour scheme,

MGA ENTERTAINMENT the new look has been applied to the cohesive range of car booster seats, changing mats and more. Ensuring that Casdon’s brands are seen by the firm’s core consumer – parents and grandparents – a year round social media strategy has been put in place. Included in this will be reviews of the new Baby Huggles range with some of the UK’s top parenting influencers. 01253 608 428

L.O.L. Surprise! Dolls arrived in the UK during February this year, and after taking the US by storm, has become the next collectable craze. A combination of unboxing and the anticipation of surprise, each of the product’s seven layers reveals a different treat, including emoji sticker, accessory and finally the hero – a L.O.L. Surprise! Doll. Each doll has its own water feature and special dolls change colour when placed in water. Which one will you get? Project Mc2 is a team of six smart and cool girls who use their love of science and spy skills to undertake missions for top-secret organisation, NOV8 (that’s ‘innovate’). This autumn will see a range of XXXXXXX new products, which continue to offer smart and savvy scienceinspired play, including a new line of STEAM accessories. The popular Experiment Dolls will see a refresh, with brand new experiment accessories, which can be performed again

and again at home – just using household ingredients. Each of the doll’s fashions are aligned with the girls from the show and feature articulated legs and arms, premium hair, glass eyes and rooted eyelashes. This spring saw Lalaloopsy immersing further into the land of imagination and role-play with the launch of its own Netflix series – We’re Lalaloopsy. New for autumn, the doll brand will see a refresh to its feature dolls including new glitter and hair play features, plus new large entertainment dolls reflecting a core cast of characters. The brand will also be launching collectable blind bags with multiple themes to collect. 0845 0533 333

VTECH VTech’s Little Love family is set to get a cute pet in 2017 in the form of Little Love Puppy Pal, which sees the addition of an adorable puppy alongside the doll. Through independent and imitative play, children can learn how to take care of their baby doll and her little puppy pal. The more Little Love interacts with her puppy, the more the puppy can do. To start, the puppy is a brand new pet, who will only respond to Little Love with puppy sounds and react to simple fun tricks. After the doll and dog play with each other for a longer period of time, they will become best friends and

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the puppy will do even more. For example, the dog will start off barking as the dolls sings but the more they interact the dog will start singing back.

Little Love encourages nurturing role play as she takes special care of her puppy friend and learns all about her

puppy’s feelings and a basic understanding of pet care concepts and tips. For example, When Little Love feeds her puppy a dog biscuit, children will hear cute sounds. Plus, there are many more adorable phrases, real-life sound effects and 12 sing-along songs and melodies also included. There will be two Little Love dolls advertised on TV throughout 2017, with Little Love Baby Talk starting earlier in the year, which will be followed with Little Love Puppy Pal. These campaigns will target both girls and housewives with children. 01235 555 545

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Boys’ own As the saying goes, boys love their toys, and this is especially true of the positively booming retail sector. Here, Jack Ridsdale takes a deep dive into this diverse and electrifying sector to see what’s on offer for retailers HASBRO Ahead of two blockbuster films releasing this year, Transformers: The Last Knight and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, Hasbro’s range of toys promises to give kids, fans and collectors all the power and excitement they need. With the Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy Titan Hero Series range, players will be able to immerse themselves in action figure battles and decide the fate of the universe. The Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy Titan Heroes feature StarLord, Gamora, Rocket Raccoon, Groot, Drax and Yondu, perfect for fans to imagine Titan-sized battles in their mission to save the world. Each Guardians of the Galaxy Titan Hero Series figure

boasts a 12-inch scale, animationinspired and features five points of articulation. Also arriving from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 is the musicplaying and limb-shaking Dancing Groot. Groot plays a clip from the soundtrack song Come A Little Bit Closer, which he can’t help but groove to, while pressing the leaf button activates the lovable character’s phrase, ‘I am Groot’. The Dancing Groot can also detect external music when placed in music detection mode, which works by holding down the leaf button, and he’ll soon be shaking his roots to those tunes. Hasbro Studios ushers in the action saga Transformers: The Last Knight, which arrives into

RE:CREATION Inspiring, innovative fun is at the heart of Re:creation’s boys’ portfolio for 2017 as Razor continues to roll out new ride-ons. There is also much to celebrate too in the LEGO Lights range with several movie launches adding to the buzz for this property. Building on the strong results seen by Hovertrax 2.0, Razor introduces further lithium power in 2017 with the Cruiser Electric Skateboard. Riders can control the speed using a handheld wireless remote while changing direction with their body movements. Reaching speeds of up to 10mph, the 125 wattgeardriven rear wheel offers up to 40 minutes of continuous use.

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cinemas on June 23rd and is supported by a new product range. With the fate of Earth at stake, new heroes are ready to join the action with the Transformers: The Last Knight One-Step Turbo Changer figures, which includes Bumblebee, Optimus Prime and Autobot Hound. The Turbo Changer figures switch modes in one step, converting the Bumblebee figure from robot to Chevrolet Camaro; Optimus Prime from robot to truck and Autobot Hound from robot to 4x4 in one exciting motion, all prepared to charge into battle. 0208 569 1234

SPIN MASTER Hovertrax 2.0 will stay in the spotlight as this ‘hoverboard’ captures imaginations all over the UK. Counting YouTube sensation, Tiana of ToysandMe among its fans, Hovertrax 2.0 is building strong momentum towards the summer. Another favourite, Crazy Cart, and latest addition, Crazy Cart Shift, remain high on the agenda with a legion of press and celebrity fans providing exposure. Power Core electric scooters remain a firm focus, offering increased ride times and reduced maintenance for riders. With another Star Wars film on the horizon, as well as a Ninjago Movie and a DVD launch for The LEGO Batman Movie to look forward to, there is plenty of opportunity to keep LEGO Keylights top of mind this year. 01189 736 222

Boys will enjoy getting sneaky and conducting spy missions with the new Spy Gear Ninja Attack Ninja Stars. Perfect for ninja training and covert missions, this set includes three ninja stars – one message capsule star and two signal reflector stars. Kids can write important messages and place them in the stealth message compartment of the capsule star, while using the two signal reflector stars to catch enemies off guard. Danger doesn’t wait and kids will always be ready with the Spy Gear Transforming Ninja Sword with one-touch blade activation. This two-in-one flashlight and ninja sword comes equipped with a spy light for adventures and to seek out opponents, as well as

a hidden sword that transforms with the push of a button. Also on the way from Spin Master is Air Hogs Thunder Trax, an all-terrain amphibious R/C vehicle, which can transform from a tank to a highperformance boat. Thick treads maintain control on grass, gravel,

mud, water and even snow. Plus, remote 2.4GHz communication puts the user in control and USB charging gets kids on the road faster. 01628 535 000

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Alpha Group, recently announced the launch of its exciting new spinning-top battling craze collection, Infinity Nado. The Nados are available in different materials, colours and characters, and introduce new functionality, producing the wow factor that will offer fans the ultimate battling experience with their friends and family. There will be 28 SKUs across seven different series including plastic, standard, athletic, split and crack with play-sets and accessories also available for fans to snap up.


The two play-sets, battle and deluxe, consist of one arena, one left and one right spin Nado, two launchers as well as assembly tools. Each Nado character has its own features and can perform different tricks and stunts. For example, the split series features one Nado that can split into two for a two-pronged attack on opponents. Suitable for children aged from six to 11 years old, the Nados all have interchangeable tips, enabling the product to climb, hook, jump and even rope walk in the deluxe arena. 01293 804599

Action figures, action toys and action packed laser blasters will join a whole year of new Mash’ems in an enviable boys’ portfolio for Character Options this year. Following the spring launch of season three, a full roll out of new action figures will arrive from the world of Minecraft coming in August. Villains are threatening to take the boys’

aisle this autumn, as Character Options has brought back the uniquley iconic hero Vac-Man and Stretch Monster. Elsewhere, Justice League favourites are joining the stretch seven-inch collection and large action figure size. Indoors or out comes Laser X, the ultimate high tech game of tag; it’s like having a real laser arena at home and can be played inside or out, day or night. The blasters have pinpoint accuracy, meaning thrill seekers

can blast their opponents from over 60 meters away while the vest counts the hits. As users are blasted the receiver vest will gradually change colour, but get hit ten times and your out. 0161 633 9800

GP FLAIR Retailers will be spoilt for choice with the latest offering from GP Flair. A boy’s favourite license has made a comeback, new collectables have been launched and there are unmissable new lines for two top properties. With Playmates’ vast experience in the action figure market, the launch of the Ben 10 range in July is hotly anticipated. The entry point will be the basic, articulated collection, which

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offers eight characters including Ben and his alien alter-egos including the likes of Forearms, Heatblast and Diamondhead. In addition, there is not one but two Omnitrix watches for fans of the show to enjoy. As part of the new Mineez portfolio from Moose, the first series of Mineez Despicable Me boasts over 75 figures for fans to

collect. The CDU of Mineez blind packs is the core collectable line with a pocket money price point and an added special element of surprise with each pack. To get ahead of the game, kids can opt for the Core Collector pack or the metal capsule Collector’s Tin. Later in the year the unique Fizz Surprise will also surface; when the amazing fizz ball dissolves

in water, a submarine rises to the top and two colour changing minions are hidden inside. Also not to be missed is the new and innovative Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles WWE Mash Up collection, which takes two favourite boys’ franchises and combines them to make the ultimate action figures. Mikey, Leo, Raph and Donnie can all be collected as classic and contemporary stars of the ring. Series two of Grossery Gang has fuelled the boys’ collectable craze even further as children have been rushing to get their hands on the colour changing, glowing and dusty metallic grosseries. Grossery Gang season three will also be new to discover. 0208 643 0320

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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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JAZWARES Jazwares has launched a brand new Roblox toy line, an exciting new property that brings to life the immensely popular digital game. Inspired by some of the most popular games, characters, and developers in Roblox’s 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

ENGINO 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. 0203 598 0270

Engino has established itself in the boys’ category with the help of its construction range, the Inventor Series. Inventor provides a construction range that will allow boys to build cars, planes, motorbikes and construction vehicles from the four-in-one to the 120-in-one sets. With the 30-in-one and above sets, young ones can also use the supplied motor to introduce movement into their creations. Engino provides inpack instructions and further model build options for over 120

different builds, but children can experiment themselves and make their own creations, including animals, buildings and robots – anything a boy can imagine. Engino is also launching STEM Heroes, a new series that introduces kids to STEM disciplines through a completely new and playful approach. Boys and girls can construct one exciting model from each of the small sets, while also learning about each theme, presented in the included leaflet and the free app for Android and iOS tablets. The models span various scientific themes such as aviation, space exploration, animal kingdom and speedster vehicles. Each theme consists of three starter sets, which can be combined to create a larger model. These can be combined even further to construct a range of exciting mega-builds. 0800 988 7068

MATTEL Mattel offers an impressive portfolio of some of the world’s most popular boy brands and licenses including Hot Wheels, Disney Cars, WWE and Justice League for 2017. Hot Wheels continues to dominate the die-cast market as it retains its number one position in the Vehicle Super category and is set to have an action-packed year ahead as it continues to empower children to Make It Epic by challenging them to go even bigger, faster and higher with Hot Wheels through a range of exciting marketing activations. In summer, Hot Wheels will bring the speed and skills of its track sets to life at family festival CarFest, helping to raise money for Children in Need. Supporting thrilling stunts in the demo zone with an official Hot Wheels Driver and Hot Wheels car bringing stunts to life, families will be able

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to watch the action take place on a real life orange track. Hot Wheels will then go on tour at retail as part of the AW16 Build the Epic Stunt initiative, inspiring kids to use their imaginations to create epic track systems. Further engagement activities include advertising, product competitions and blog reviews. 2017 also sees new die-cast collaborations including Star Wars, Ghostbusters, Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Batman, Peanuts, Minions and Spiderman. A new Justice League range will launch ahead of the new movie plus

partnerships with Lamborghini and Forza Motor Sport. Hot Wheels AI Street Racing Starter Set puts kids in control of high-speed, head-to-head racing with artificial intelligence as the smart cars race around tracks with three race modes and three skill sets. The new launch will be supported with a marketing and PR campaign including kid vlogger partnerships and press tours as well as TV and print media support. 2017 brings an exciting year for the Disney Pixar’s Cars range with the new movie release of Disney Pixar

Cars 3 in the summer, bringing with it a host of new products to its die-cast and play-set ranges. The new Movie Moves McQueen joins the range, inspired by speed and stunts from the movie, while the new Transforming Willy’s Butte encourages racers to re-live their favourite scenes. The Crazy 8 Fire Barrel play-set lets fans rev-up and race as they reconfigure the track and create challenges with the mud covered McQueen and accessories. The Justice League Movie range will build excitement with the six-inch Figure Assortment and Feature Batmobile, while the WWE portfolio grows with new lines set to entice consumers ahead of Wrestlemania 2017. The WWE Tough Talkers six-inch Figure Assortment and the Tough Talkers Interactive Ring Play-set both feature. 01628 500 000

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BANDAI The Power Rangers arrived at the cinema in March and Bandai has released a full range of movie-based toys this spring, including the Power Morpher. Kids can activate the lever and insert one of five legendary Power Coins to Morph into their favourite Ranger. Once a Power Ranger, kids can battle with the Red Ranger’s Power Sword featuring a blue Morphin Grid energy blade as well as lights and sounds. This weapon has

ZIMPLI KIDS two modes including Battle and Training so kids can perfect their Ranger skills. Next, behold the T-Rex Battle Zord, Red Ranger’s all-terrain, titanic assault vehicle with mini figure that features missile-firing action and explosive sounds. Kids can click and connect with the other four Zords to form the 60cm towering Megazord. Finally, kids can summon the interactive Megazord with its expandable wings, battle and flight sounds, dynamic LED effects, wristmounted weapons and more. September sees the launch of the all-new TV series, Power Rangers Ninja Steel, on Freeview channel, POP. The new toy range, available from July, covers a range of action figures, role-play toys and Megazords. Also available are the collectable Ninja Power Stars and Launchers, as well as the Deluxe Ninja Steel Blad, which will let kids be just like a real Power Ranger. 0208 324 6160

With creative and messy products currently on trend, now is a great time to capitalise with slime. What boy doesn’t enjoy playing with oozy gooey Slime? One of Zimpli Kids’ best selling products, Slime Baff, allows children to transform boring water into a bath of brightly coloured, thick slime. The firm’s Slime Baff and Gelli Baff have also made a big impression online, clocking up over two billion views on YouTube since October 2015 from independent reviewers worldwide. In addition, Zimpli Kids has another exciting product joining its outdoor slime range – the new, award winning Slime Blaster. Why soak friends in water when you can blast them XXXXXXX with slime? Users simply load the Slime Blaster Gun Tank with water and the pre-measured magic slime powder; shake to make the gooey slime, then fire. Each Slime Blaster gun comes with enough powder for over

200 slime shots, for lots of outdoor fun. Even before the launch of the Slime Blaster, it was awarded with the Toy Fair Best New Outdoor Toy 2017, believing to be one of the hottest products over the coming year. Also in April, The Slime Blaster took first place in the Buyer’s Choice Award category at the Chicago ECRM awards. Just like the entire product range all of Zimpli Kids’ Slime products are stain free, nontoxic, environmentally safe and non irritant. 08454 591 818

future via handheld mobile devices as they battle and race against friends, family or AIcontrolled commanders. The game introduces an innovative magnetic modular track system that allows gamers to build epic battlefields within seconds. Players can challenge friends in a variety of game modes or go head-to-head with elite AI commanders in a quest to become champion of the Anki Overdrive Tournament. On the road to victory, players can kick their skills into overdrive by customising their supercar’s speed, weapons and defences through in-game upgrades. The introduction of robotic Supertrucks has taken the hit

battle-racing game to the next level. 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 a big presence on the battlefield. Beyond their size, Supertrucks also introduce powerful new weapons and

exciting game modes that will put players’ skills to the test. Regular software updates via the app ensure new features are available at no additional cost. To date, Anki Overdrive fans have driven 3.9 million miles, played four million hours and built 130,000 different tracks. 0800 808 5701

ANKI Anki announced that sales of its Anki Overdrive made it the second best-selling premium toy of 2016. Ending the year on a high, the hit battle-racing game also was 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 ensured the US start-up was behind one of the hottest toys on the market of Christmas 2016. This year, Anki Overdrive introduces a revolutionary gameplay experience that blends the best of video games, toys and robotics. Players take control of the supercars of the

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Re:creation is named Team of the Month, while Teletubbies pay a visit to ITV’s Lorraine to mark the brand’s 20th anniversary. Meanwhile, a board game creator on Kickstarter has taken inspiration from the infamous President Trump

Teletubbies say ‘Eh-oh’ Teletubbies were on hand to say ‘Eh-oh’ during ITV’s morning TV show, Lorraine, where Tinky-Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po celebrated the 20th anniversary of the brand with presenter, Lorraine Kelly. Wiggling and dancing their way around the studio, Po introduced Jess Smith to viewers using her cloth screen, who previously played the Sun Baby in the iconic series. The foursome was even invited to chow down on a dish that had been created in the kitchen, but unfortunately had to leave – not before Dipsy squeezed a hug out of Kelly, though. Perhaps there was no Tubby Toast on offer?

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TEAM OF THE MONTH: Who’s in the team? There’s about 15 of us on the team. Michael Lehrter is our chief executive, Jonathan Kirkley is our sales and marketing director and our sales team is headed up by our sales director, Adrian Mayes. We’re a small but energetic team with buckets of passion for what we do. What have been your successes over the last 12 months? We have been really excited to see the reception that Razor’s Hovertrax 2.0 has received. This exciting ride managed to achieve a top ten spot in its category – an incredible achievement since it launched so late in the year. We’ve welcomed some new brands to our portfolio with great potential – we’re really excited about Magic Tracks, as well as Mimic Me Talkback Zoo and Feisty Pets plush. What new products are you working on at the moment? We’re just working on our launch plans for our new interactive plush range, Mimic Me Talkback Zoo, and we’re currently working on developing our second half

marketing programmes across our portfolio. Feisty Pets, which has already whipped up quite some interest online, is soon to launch and we’re working on a programme of summer events showcasing our Razor offering.


What’s your favourite part of working in the toy industry? Every day is different and with our stand-out products such as Crazy Cart or Hovertrax from Razor, we certainly get some very exciting requests. It could be Olly Murs or Ant and Dec one day and a Mercedes F1 team the next. What’s the hardest part of working in the toy industry? There is never a dull moment, we always have to be on top of the trends so there is never a quiet time. Christmas too is a bit different for anyone who works in the industry – by the time December 25th comes around, we feel like we’ve lived Christmas at least a dozen times already. What are you looking forward to throughout the year?

We always love to get out to events to showcase products, seeing the fantastic reactions from consumers tells us we’re getting things right and is really rewarding. This summer our senior brand manager, Katy Fletcher, is putting together some events planned in partnership with leading motor-related organisations – the innovation that Razor have introduced to the market in products such as the Crazy Cart have helped open doors to the likes of elite F1 teams in new ways. Who avoids the washing up? Fortunately, we have a dish washer although there are certainly one or two culprits who never put their dirties in. Who’s the office heartthrob? Harrison Scott, he’s the newest member of our sales team.

Trump of the Month With Trump enjoying his first term as President, he is now taking the table top industry by storm thanks to a new game on crowdfunding site, Kickstarter. Dubbed Impeached, players must avoid impeachment and get reelected by making good decisions, resisting the

temptation of corruption and unfortunate leaks. Of course, whether or not he will follow these advised rules is another story, but the board certainly does live up to his infamous head of hair, boasting an illustration depicting his larger than life blonde mane.

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Toy News 183 May 2017  

It’s the May issue and that means, it’s the retail special. This issue we take an in-depth look at all the factors currently affecting the H...

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