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April 2018



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April 2018



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No. 193 | April 2018

'Action man'

Editor Robert Hutchins rhutchins@nbmedia.com


Senior Staff Writer Jack Ridsdale jridsdale@nbmedia.com Sales Manager Jodie Holdway jholdway@nbmedia.com Production Executive James Marinos jmarinos@nbmedia.com Designer Mandie Johnson mjohnson@nbmedia.com Managing Director Mark Burton mburton@nbmedia.com

Follow us @toynews online

ell it's been an interesting past four weeks. Following the recent succession of events, it's all gone from naught to 60 faster than an angry mob of social media users can bring out their 21st Century equivalent of burning effiges and pitchforks, and create a #DeleteFacebook campaign. Assessing the industry's reaction to the ongoing drama surrounding Toys R Us has been a whirlwind of intrigue in itself, from those sharing their rose-tinted memories of the retailer's heyday to the more verbose of us telling everyone to "just cheer the 'f' up" about it all. It's a ballsy approach, we'll give them that, and no doubt the some 33,000 workers staring redundancy in the face would have the perfect retort. One noteworthy individual, in the form of MGA's Isaac Larian, has taken a far more practical and inspiring approach, having rallied a group of investors to come up with $200 million and incite an industry to raise a further $800 million in the hope of pulling some - any - of Toys R Us from the jaws of the salivating lawyers. It's with complete sincerity that ToyNews doffs its cap to the efforts of Larian and co and wish them every success, if only for the reminder that actions can speak so much louder than words.

Robert Hutchins, Editor Rhutchins@nbmedia.com

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BANANAS! Games grown and picked by Bananagrams Inc.


01420 593 593 sales@asmodee.co.uk

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Contents April 2018 Features


COVER STORY: MERCHMAKER Gone are the days of young ones scrawling their names on toys in biro, as we found out...

Opinion 06 Mark Hillier 07 Jame Murden 08 Richard Hayes 09 Rebecca Deeming

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WORKING AARD We swing by Aardman's Bristol HQ to find out what's next for the firm's toy offering.


MILES AHEAD We talk to Miles Penhallow about this year's Independent Toy and Gift Show.


GAMER'S PARADISE A look at the new releases in Games & Puzzles.

Market Data 26 G  eneration Media 28 Campaign of the Month Product Guide 33 Construction 40 Pre-school 52 Games & Puzzles Back pages 72 Industry Moves 73 Team of the Month 74 Final word

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Toys were us: A fond farewell from the industry to a fun friend By Mark Hillier

The news that Toys R Us’ UK business went into administration recently came to no surprise to any of us. It was however, a sad day for the whole of the toy industry. I first started a trading relationship with Toys R Us in the early 1980s when as a fresh-faced book salesman, I turned up to meet a junior buyer named Paul Mitchell who had recently joined Toys R Us’ new business from Sainsbury’s, it was the start of a relationship that has lasted over 30 years. As my career developed, so did the business with Toys R Us, Panini stickers were introduced then later the Merlin collections including the first Premier League stickers collections. A move to a distributor in 2002 meant I could offer TRU a much wider range of products and we soon became responsible for managing the collectables category for them, sales increased massively and Toys R Us became the go to store for all collectable products. It was innovative, moved quickly and spotted trends long before the competition, these were the halcyon days. Toys R Us was the number one toy retailer, led so expertly by David Rurka, Phil Shayer, Fiona Murray Young and the most professional and strong buying and merchandising team in the industry.

So how did it all go so horribly wrong? Several things I believe contributed to the downfall of the UK’s number one toy retailer. The departure of Phil Shayer and David Rurka left the business without strong leadership for over a year. The subsequent re-structuring following a US consultancy report led to several high-profile departures at head office level, including Fiona Murray Young, Paul Mitchell and several experienced buyers. Years of experience and highly regarded and respected people were lost. Changes in the way consumers want to shop and TRU’s failure to adapt had a massive impact. Consumers are no longer embracing the big shed way of shopping and are preferring to shop online or in a retail environment where service matched with competitive pricing in attractive retail outlets is desired. The increase in competition has clearly eroded TRU’s market share, the growth of Smyths Toys and The Entertainer and the speed of these retailers growth has affected TRU’s position in the market. Similarly, the aggressive pricing strategies of some retailers and it would seem, TRU’s inability to react, has also impacted on its profitability and consumer footfall. The question is ‘will the brand survive and reappear after administration?’ I for one would welcome their continued presence, it would be good for our industry. In the meantime, I reflect on the good times.

"Increase in competition clearly eroded TRU’s market share." Mark Hillier is the managing director and chief executive officer of Click Distribution, a company that has traded with and been supported by Toys R Us for the last 30 years and more..

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Staying alive: Is it time for Augmented Reality to put the zest back into retail? By James Murden

If there are any positives in the recent plight of the much loved yet much maligned retailer, Toys R Us, it's that it has highlighted the shift of the modern retail scene. Among the many conversation to have emerged from the retailer’s struggles here in the UK, it’s that consumers today are looking for more from their shopping experiences. Modern consumers are looking for engagement when spending their money. In fairness, it was a trend identified by Toys R Us and one it attempted to tap into in the US with the introduction of AR Geoffrey. However, it’s a party it was altogether too late to join. Recent research by retail perceptions has found that 71 per cent of consumers would shop at a retailer more often if they offered an AR experience, with 40 per cent willing to pay more for a product if they experienced it through AR tech. But what does this mean for retailers who are either not convinced or think that in store AR is simply financially out of reach? Here at AliveLab, the team behind the AR range, Mardles, we set out to create an AR experience that is 100 per cent parent friendly, that didn’t rely on WiFi or a phone signal, without registration and no in-app

purchases. Mardles is AR specifically designed for the children’s market. Just what AR can bring to a consumer’s retail experience is all down to imagination. Picture a meerkat scampering across your pocket money toys or a unicorn leading you to the till point. With a touch of imagination, retailers can create treasure hunts and competitions, and bring real theatre to their stores. An example of our work at larger retailers has seen us bring floor decals and iPads to a local supermarket where within seconds we had a T-Rex stomping around in the cereal aisle. It was very quickly followed by a group of children dragging their parents to follow him. The beauty is that more and more, consumers are understanding Augmented Reality and the experience it delivers. Apple and Samsung are investing heavily in AR , while we have developed POS materials with a quick demo mode for trying ‘on the spot.’ The use of AR really doesn’t have to be prohibitive for smaller retailers. We have already done the hard work developing over 60 characters and the apps, meaning that once we have agreed on a character to bring to life, implementing AR in store or on a product is quicker, faster and far more cost effective than starting from where we were in 2015. AR is on the rise and is poised to be the next step in the evolving world of experiential retailing.

"Consumers will shop at a retailer more if they offer AR." James Murden is the chief visionary officer and co-founder of AliveLab, the team behind the popular AR range of stickers, colouring books and storybooks, Mardles.

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Game of clones: Is the toy industry fuelling or stifling product creativity? By Richard Heayes

The world is awash with great ideas and no industry more so than the archives and hard drives of the toy business. With the recent demise of Toys R Us, we have seen quite a bit of commentary on the lack of original ideas in the toy business. I am sure I’m not the only one to get pretty frustrated by this as there are lots of cool ideas and innovations out there if only you look for them. But the reality is that the ones that get most of the prime shelf space are the easy wins. The products or brands that are well known, with known play patterns or hot licenses and, let’s be honest, is that any real surprise? It’s no different in the grocery business, or the consumer electronics business or the DIY business.... Selling new ideas is hard! It’s hard to sell them internally, it’s hard to sell them at trade fairs, it’s hard to sell them to buyers. It really is a matter of one per cent inspiration and 99 per cent perspiration. With the majority of products measured on sales figures of some kind, is it no surprise that people will opt to take the easy route. Let’s not also forget our consumer. Picking up something new is also a big risk for them, especially if they are buying as a gift.

However, as we know, someone will be successful with something new and everyone will chase their tails trying to catch up. Also toy companies want to be seen as an innovator not a follower so that drives more and more development around new ideas, even if most of those stay as that, an idea. For me one of the big ‘ahas’ recently was Spotify. Even though I like a wide spectrum of music I’m often tempted to hit that '80s electro pop playlist and get the great Depeche Mode blasting through the speakers. But Spotify makes it very easy for you to try new music and this is something the toy business needs. We need areas at retail dedicated to new ideas, like the old record shops where you would always see new music front and centre. The only way to get new ideas out there is to put them where the consumer will find them, and of you are a small or medium player it’s always a struggle and a risk to justify the promotional spend that this may involve. There is a bit of a Brexit-esque rose tinted view of the toy business; 'Give us those 80’s heydays of great innovations.' However, there really are some fantastic ideas out there if you give them a chance, but we need to stop smothering them with the comfort blanket and let them breath and continue the tradition of bringing innovation into the market.

" Selling new ideas is hard, it’s no surprise people take an easy route." Richard Heayes is a toy inventor, designer and founder of Heayes Designs. He boasts 25 years in creation and now acts as a consultant for toy and game companies around the globe.

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BTHA Briefing: Are you GDPR ready? By Rebecca Deeming

With just one month to go until the new General Data Protection Regulation comes into effect on May 25th, we are busy with last minute preparations and helping our members get ready for the new requirements. Over the past year we have been sending out weekly GDPR updates to members in our e-newsletter and hosted a series of webinars covering a range of GDPR topics, to help members get ready. This month, as one last push before May 25th, we will be hosting a seminar to inform members of the final actions they should be doing to prepare, as well as going through the BTHA Connected Toys guidance. The free seminar will take place on Monday, May 23rd at the BTHA office by London Bridge. We will also be hosting free training this month on the first government-backed Code of Practice for product safety recalls in the UK. The code is targeted at both businesses and enforcement authorities. Companies must have a Product Safety Incident Plan in place in order to be ready to instigate corrective actions if they are necessary. Hosted by our toy safety experts Jerry Burnie and Wendy Philips, as well as Phil Owen from the Office of

Product Safety & Standards, the training seminar will outline the PAS 7100 requirements and will cover internal and external communications and engagement with enforcement authorities. The seminar will take place on Thursday, April 19th at the BTHA office. Over the past month the BTHA has been working hard to represent member’s interests with regards to Brexit talks and other matters, meetings with MPs Neil Coyle and Hilary Benn and briefing BEIS, DeXu, the Treasury Select Committee and the International Trade Committee. Elsewhere in the industry and on behalf of the BTHA, we would like to say congratulations and huge thanks to the 13 runners who completed The Big Half – the London Marathon organiser’s new half marathon event, which took place last month. Runners from Disney, The Entertainer, Mattel, DKL, Hasbro, John Adams, IQS and Bandai took part and have raised more than £7000 with all sponsorship going to support the many children’s charities the Toy Trust will be supporting in 2018. Tickets are on sale for the Toy Trust’s new fundraising initiative, the Big Toy Trust Raffle. Prizes have been donated by the industry including a family trip to LEGO Land in Denmark, tickets to Disneyland Paris and tickets to Nickelodeon Land plus many more. Tickets cost just £5 so get booking now.

"Congrats and thanks to those who competed in The Big Half." Rebecca Deeming is the public relations manager at the BTHA, an association that represents British toy manufacturers to raise standards of practice in the industry.

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Big interview

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CHURCH OF MERCH Staying ahead of trends is arguably the single most relevant challenge to modern retailers, but instead of railing against the online space, the UK’s leading toy chain, The Entertainer, is embracing a new paradigm to their business with a partnership with Merchmaker. Here, Jack Ridsdale catches up with the firm’s head of online to learn more


e can all remember the day we got our first personalised football shirt. The sheer excitement as I unwrapped a Manchester United shirt with my own name emblazoned on the back on my eighth birthday was enough the make me truly forget the fact that I had two left feet and embrace the fantasy of stepping into the shoes of my favourite players. Now, in today’s digital marketplace, firms have taken this timelessly enchanting concept to new levels, giving all manner of licensed products an original spin. Unless you are firmly plugged into the comings and goings of the licensing apparel space, chances are you are unfamiliar with Merchmaker, the online platform that allows customers to personalise licensed goods including pyjamas, mugs, bags and more. Merchmaker’s offering represents the latest new niche for the UK’s most prominent retail chain, The Entertainer, allowing the brand to reach out into new categories. Indeed, this sideways manoeuvre could be indicative of a newer, broader product offering, embracing not only new selling platforms but new products outside of the world of toys. No one can speak about Merchmaker’s unique take on licensed goods more enthusiastically and knowledgeably than the firm’s co-founder and chief commercial officer, Charlotte Clisby. “We provide online retailers and content publishers the opportunity to offer their customers an unlimited amount of products from emerging or household brands without having to give up shelf space, commit budget to purchase stock, or provide warehousing,” explains Clisby. “We can plug our platform into any

existing ecommerce system and allow that retailer to offer our full portfolio as if it was their own products whilst also offering the option for the consumer to personalize these products.” In a world in which trends move at a mile a minute, embracing this more immediate, direct to consumer model of selling can help retailers with a longer prod-

"We provide retailers the opportunity to offer their customers an unlimited amount of products from emerging brands" Charlotte Clisby, Merchmaker

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uct delivery cycle serve a wider variety of demographics. “Retailers working with our platform can make product available at the very early stages of a brand and really capitalise on the demand from fans for product before wholesale licensees are able to get to market,” she elaborates. “They don’t have to wait to come on board with a brand before it is proven to be a success as there is no risk of them ending up with unwanted product. Our platform is a great way of jumping on growing trends such as the popularity of vloggers and YouTubers.” The Entertainer already offers a line with YouTube sensation JoJo Siwa, in collaboration with Merchmaker, alongside such family favourites as PAW Patrol, Barbie, Star Wars and more. “With our print-on-demand business model, Merchmaker has been able to offer 12 | toy news | April 2018

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their customers brands where investing in wholesale product was perceived as too risky,” she continues. “They were excited about the ability for us to jump on new trends, for example our JoJo Siwa range and our recently launched unicorn range in time for Christmas. Being part of the growing trend that is personalisation was also key – 1 in 3 consumers now want personalized products and therefore it is a huge focus for many retailers across the world, and is only growing bigger and bigger as time goes on.” The Entertainer’s head of online, Rob Wood, echoes Clisby’s enthusiasm for the new offering, highlighting the benefits of catering directly to consumer demands. “We’re delighted in the way our Create Your Own business has started and really excited about our plans for 2018,” said Wood. “The Entertainer prides itself on being the place to go for the latest trends

and Merchmaker’s print on demand model means we can get product to our customers faster than ever before. And because we don’t need to commit to stock upfront, we’re also able to trial lots of niche product ranges and offer our customers an even wider choice.” The fact that Merchmaker’s CCO jetted off to NYC last month for the licensing summit to give a talk alongside such big hitters as Hot Topic and Loot Crate speaks volumes for the growing importance of Merchmaker’s speedy business model in today’s pop-culture obsessed retail space. “Retailers working with our platform can make product available at the very early stages of a brand and really capitalise on the demand from fans for product before wholesale licensees are able to get to market,” says Clisby. “They don’t have to wait to come on board with a brand before it is proven to be a success as there is no risk of them ending up with unwanted product.” “Social media means trends take off faster than ever and being able to react to these hot brands and produce product in real time is a game changer,” agrees Wood. Looking ahead to The Entertainer’s developing range in their Create Your Own category, Rob Wood hints towards a near endless potential including seasonal items and new licenses from the world of premier league football. “We’ve got loads of exciting stuff on the road map already including Easter eggs, party supplies and birthday countdown calendars,” adds Wood. “But the exciting thing about print on demand is that we don’t necessarily know what this year’s

bestseller will be yet - we’ll be keeping our ear close to the ground for the next hot trend and then moving very quickly to turn it into product.” As the market for on-demand, customizable product lines increases, Merchmaker finds itself in a uniquely open playing field, with ambitions that stretch far beyond their current alliance with the UK’s toy industry leader. Similarly, the diversification of The Entertainer’s online services secures their place as an innovator, further steeling them for the day when brick and mortar retail fades from prominence. “We will also be looking at how The Entertainer can take their personalisation tool the next level and what other ways you can customise or personalise a product,” Clisby enthuses. “We’ll also be launching the Merchmaker platform with new retailers and content publishers throughout the world and growing our license portfolio in entertainment and sport as well as new categories such as gaming and music brands.” “In terms of what this has done in the toy retail space, it’s not just toy retailers that we’re now in discussions with," she concludes. "Our model works high street retailers, online retailers, grocers and content publishers and we plan to launch with a number of these in the UK, US and in South East Asia during the course of 2018.” Its understandable to assume that many brands will be eager to jump in with Merchmaker given the potential in their concepts and there is just as much room for growth for retailers, with an eye for new trends, as well as diversifying their existing product catalogues. April 2018 | toy news | 13

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With a Shaun the Sheep sequel movie now confirmed for 2019, Aardman is making its move back into the toys market. Robert Hutchins talks to Rob Goodchild, head of licensing at Aardman Animations about the retail scene, finding niches and the pleasures of hard boiled sweets


t the Aardman Animations headquarters on Gas Ferry Lane in Bristol, the agenda of the day is tracking down the Tupperware box filled with Wallace’s body parts. The number of which, we can tell you, is too many to count within the momentary glimpse we are given, but suffice to say it was akin to staring into Dante’s Inferno, had it been dreamed up by Open All Hours’ Granville. The point being, that even at its most horrifying – and peering over a lunch box brimming with limbs adorned in Wallace’s classic knitted pullover can certainly be considered thusly - Aardman captures the eccentricity of Britain’s good old fashioned need for twee in almost everything it does. The sight is one of many pit stops we are treated to on our tour of the Aardman studio, comprised of a look behind the scenes of the filming of the latest series of Morph ready to hit Sky this year, an upcoming ad campaign for a Canadian water company and a peak into the office space of the legendary Nick Park, the man behind the classic look that Aardman is so well known for the world over. As we are guided through its corridors it is evident that we are far from

the first to be walked through the annals of Aardman history. Our guide is quick to point out that, as we ascend the wooden steps towards the hub of Aardman activity, we follow the likes of Colin Firth and Sir Ian McKellen, who even nabbed a spot on the caricature-filled tea towel hanging on the company’s cafeteria wall. It was unlikely the courtesy would be extended to ToyNews, but it didn’t stop us asking.

"It's nice to be back, banging on those doors and working on the new range of toys with Sinco." Rob Goodchild, Aardman Within the headquarters’ reception area stands a ten foot Shaun the Sheep that, having recently returned home from its stint at Glastonbury, demonstrates the cross-generational appeal that all of Aardman’s IP enjoys today. In fact, since his debut in the 1995 Wallace and Gromit feature, A Close Shave, Shaun the Sheep has quickly become the poster boy for the studio’s subsequent move into the pre-school space with an animated Shaun the April 2018 | toy news | 15

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Aardman Sheep TV series, a 2015 Shaun the Sheep movie and a new cinematic release planned for next year. In fact, it is with the 2019 Shaun the Sheep movie sequel now confirmed that the company’s in-house licensing division is ready to focus on reigniting the consumer product roll-out for the character here in the UK, kicking off in the toy space. “Now that we have the movie confirmed for 2019, we are starting to build the UK programme; we have Igloo Books on board as our publishing partner and we have just signed Sinco Toys as the master toy partner,” Rob Goodchild, head of licensing at Aardman Animations tells ToyNews. With his back to the window, Goodchild talks to us in the comfort of his consumer product office space on the top floor of the studio’s headquarters. The eyes of ‘ten foot Shaun’ are visibly peering through the glass and over his shoulder. For some, the image could be rather disconcerting but luckily ToyNews is made of more mettle than that. “Licensing has been tough in the UK this last year,” continues Goodchild. “There is a lot of competition out there and we have

"For us, we look at partners in the more niche areas, farm shops for instance. There are 200 to 300 farm shops up and down the country that people flock to every Sunday, and they are full of shops and gifts." Rob Goodchild, Aardman Animation probably taken a fairly niche approach with our activity. Having signed with Sinco Toys is a bit of a ramp up in that respect. “This partnership was a measured approach to getting back into the toy game. Sinco is a new toy firm, but the company has been around for a long time; they have a lot of distribution and a lot of ambition and that’s what we like.”

For Goodchild, finding the right toy partner to be leading Shaun’s charge back into the toy space is about finding the right balance with someone who has both clout in the market and resources to put behind the toy push, but also time to dedicate to getting the IP in front of the retailers. “You want to feel important to a licensee,” continues Goodchild. “Sometimes

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with the big players, you need to fight for your space, so we are really pleased that Sinco is going out there and pushing. Sally Hunter has been in the business for years, so it is good to have that pedigree of people behind Shaun and behind the toy line.” According to Goodchild, Sinco is now pitching the line to retailers for 2018’s soft launch, “just to get some new product into the market.” “Then, for 2019, is when they will really start ramping up for the movie. This is when you will be looking at figurines, playsets, games and puzzles, arts and crafts and a full master toy collection in spring/ summer or autumn/winter. That will be supported with advertising across all media – TV levels of support – placed within however the world is turning at that point.” Get him talking about toys and Goodchild’s excitement is palpable. This is a man with a strong background in the market, having worked a two year stint at Smoby, after all. “It’s nice to be back, banging on those doors and working on a really strong product plan and going out and pitching to retailers and proving to them that we can make people buy Shaun the Sheep product. Hopefully, everything we are doing, not just with the movie but the general brand development - and we have some really strong promotions coming through – will help us then prove to retailers that there is a place on their shelves for Shaun.” While Goodchild is the first to admit that the UK market has been a tough one to negotiate in licensing terms this past year, on a global level, the company is rocketing, having posted one of its strongest years to date over the course of 2017, fuelled by demand for Shaun the Sheep across Japan, China and Germany. “Aardman has always been a global player,” he explains. “From the early 2000s with Wallace and Gromit, Japan has always been a good territory for us and we have always had an international outlook in the activities we have implemented. We work at the UK market, and even though we are a British brand, we take the British credentials and the British cultural credentials behind it, meaning that we work very well in these global markets.” It goes somewhat without saying that one of the biggest hurdles facing not just

Aardman but IP owners in general within the UK market is the current lay of the land within the retail sector, underpinned by the decline of some of the biggest brick and mortar names here on home soil. “Retail is a moving feast, especially when you see the decline of retailers like Toys R Us,” says Goodchild. “But that’s where you see the growth on the ecommerce side. But as well as this shift, you start to look at something like our live events output, all of which creates new retail opportunity. “For us, we look at partners in the more niche areas, farm shops for instance. There are 200 to 300 farm shops up and down the country that people flock to every Sunday, and they are full of shops and gifts. The good part is, the pricing is not supermarket pricing, so while it is good to be in the mainstream retailers, Tesco or Argos for example, there is a segmenting in the market and it is now about finding the right partners for those right niches. Has Aardman been struck by the sorry demise of one time toy giant, Toys R Us?

Goodchild is quick to field: “We are affected by the demise of Toys R Us in an adverse way, it’s one less retailer for us to work with. The knock-on affect here is that the toy industry doesn’t decline, but with one less retailer in the fold, shelf space becomes even more precious, and the concentration of buying power tends to favour the big boys even more. “It’s why for us, finding those niche areas is key to our retail strategy, which again, is why we are excited to be partnering with someone like Sinco Toys in the lead up to 2019’s Shaun the Sheep movie as that is a focus for us together.” It’s with a final gulp of tea and an audible crunch of an Aard boiled sweet (Aardman’s very own branded treats) that we pose the question about the company’s dental plan and the interview draws to a close. It’s a short train journey back to London where ToyNews now awaits more details of the Shaun the Sheep sequel movie to be released. Oh, and an invite to submit a portrait for the Aardman’s tea towel of fame. April 2018 | toy news |17

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INDEPENDENT'S DAY As the industry mourns the loss of Toys R Us, the Associated Independent Stores group readies another morale-boosting gathering of brands with their yearly Spring trade show. Here, Robert Hutchins catches up with the organisation's head of toys, Miles Penhallow


ith one of the UK’s best loved toy shops, Toys R Us, being the latest to fall victim to administration, the world of toy retailing may be in the midst of a seismic shift. When the retailer first landed in the UK from its headquarters in the US in the late 80s and early 90s, it offered a promised land of ‘toys in their millions’ like no other had done before, with product stacked sky high on floor to ceiling shelves. It brought something new to toy retail at the time. Yet, 30 years down the line, and Toys R Us has fallen into the hands of creditors, become hamstrung by bad debt to the tune of an formidable $5bn. While the events of February 28th left some 3,200 Toys R Us workers uncertain

of what future they had with the company as it began administration proceedings, on a much wider level, it raised the question, what happens to toy retail now? What do consumers want, if not that ‘magical place’ that once was Toys R Us? “I expect that the face of toy retailing will be changing over the next ten years,” Miles Penhallow, head of toys and children’s gifts at Play Room, the toy division of AIS, tells ToyNews. “So many toy purchases are made on impulse. I believe that single store independent retailers in the high street will find retailing even more challenging as the full effect of internet sales is felt.” The rise of the likes of Amazon and eBay has been the constant headache to the independent toy retailer, with fewer over-

heads to manage meaning less pressure on margin to be made, meaning lower prices. Add to this, the convenience that platforms like Amazon offer and the advent of same day home delivery, and it really is no surprise that online shopping has become the juggernaut that it is. However, the independent can fight back, and will, according to Penhallow, who believes that the high street retailer’s best weapon is diversification. “The high street will always attract shoppers and I believe that our department stores are best placed to prosper due to the variety of products that they can offer in their stores,” he continues. “Our members are continually investing in their fixtures and fittings and work hard at being at the centre of their local commu-

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AIS Show

nities. Our more prestigious stores such as Jarrold & Sons in Norwich and WJ Daniel & Co in Windsor have used their unique histories to create a brand in which discerning consumers want to feel part of.” On top of this, Penhallow predicts a shift in the numbers of alternative retailers selling toys, including an increase in visitor attractions and garden centres. “The show is an important event for our buyers and so making sure we have the right suppliers in attendance, good deals and correct ambience for doing business are our key objectives to enable us to put on a successful show,” he continues to explain. The annual AIS show – one known for its

friendly, relaxed atmosphere and regarded better still for its lunch time menu – is now in its tenth year. The show’s dates are an important entry in the diaries of indies. The show welcomes buyers from department stores, garden centres, high street specialist toy shops and visitor attractions year on year, and 2018 will be no exception, cited as one of the show’s biggest years to date, being – by the way – the only UK fair of 2018 to see Hasbro, LEGO, Mattel and MGA all under one roof. “The other main difference to the toy fair is that all of the exhibitors have been endorsed by our membership as key suppliers,” says Penhallow.

“We are primarily here for our members and offering a domestic supplier show at their group headquarters is a prerequisite of all the product category divisions at AIS. Cranmore Park is already the venue for national shows including flooring, schoolwear and lingerie. In addition to the Independent Toy and Gift Show, we also run two seasonal toy import shows for our membership.” Previously held in April, this year’s Independent Toy and Gift Show will take place on May 1st and 2nd. “Our previous dates in April were always disrupted by Easter and the general consensus was that altering the date could boost numbers even further,” explains Penhallow. “We believe that we have developed a very successful show formula and so any other changes will be minimal. Following last year’s successful STEM theme, expect to see soft toy displays as we explore the world of plush. “We have also refined our ‘single product show offers’ which are available to all visiting buyers. These will be known as One Hit Wonders, and details will be given to all visitors on arrival. These are first come first served single product offers are strictly while stocks last.” So, armed with what he has billed ‘the strongest exhibitor lie-up to date,” Penhallow is confident not only of another successful year for the AIS show in Cranford Park, but for another year of success for toy retail, a ‘resilient bunch,’ that will work and adapt even harder to the challenges faced.’ April 2018 | toy news | 19

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Golden Bear 01952 608308 Golden Bear is showcasing a host of new introductions within its existing collections, as well as new licensed ranges, at this year’s Independent Toy & Gift Show. Building on the strength of its success as the top new plush property, Golden Bear’s Bush Baby World collection will be expanding further in 2018. There will be new plush launches throughout the year with the hero line for AW18 being the Shimmer Palace. Home to Princess Melina, this play-set will measure over 70cm in height and plays three Bush Baby World songs. With a multitude of features including a lightshow, Royal Throne, dancefloor, secret storage compartment and an exclusive Bush Baby, this play-set makes for the ideal place for kids to store their new Bush Baby collection. Meanwhile, the In the Night Garden collection is getting a new refresh for 2018, focusing on the brand’s very young core audience and its unique bedtime slot. The new Playtime Activity Play-set is the big attraction for AW18 and is full of interactive features including a circular track with a motorised musical Ninky Nonk train, spinning roundabout, light-up carousel, songs and phrases. The Twirlywoos family is also expanding with the Chatty Chick and Chickedy. With a new look featuring sparkly head tufts and big feet, kids can press their tummies to hear their signature sounds from the TV show. Stomping into 2018 is the new Dinosaur Roar toy collection. Inspired by the original children’s book, the range will include Clip-ons, Fun Sounds Soft Toys and a Roaring Dinosaur Roar Feature soft toy. The award-winning My First JCB range will also be showcased, with its popular Big Wheelers taking centre stage in the vehicles category, offering both indoor and outdoor play value. Featured product

Bush Baby World Manufacturer: Golden Bear

Character Options 0161 633 9800 With a wide range of brands across all toy sectors, retailers at this year’s AIS show won’t want to miss the how new properties in the Character Options’ portfolio. Character is delighted to be unveiling its debut Pokémon master toy line, available summer 2018. With an all-new toy line up across figures, plush and role play categories, this is a showcase not to be missed. For the first time, each Pokémon figurine will be to scale, with small Pokémon only available in two-inch size and larger legendary figures only at the 12-inch scale. There will be four size categories in total, each staying true to the character scale. Plush has always been an essential purchase for fans who will be keen to get their hands on pocket money Clippies, soft Poké Balls and plush characters right through to a Pikachu feature. Kids can act out Pokémon gameplay for themselves from launching Pikachu from a Toss ‘n’ Pop Poké Ball or wearing their Poké Balls on the belt of their Clip ‘n’ Go Poké Ball Set. Continuing down the boys’ aisle, kids will find themselves immersed in a world of Kerplopolis and embracing the trend of all things poop with Poopeez. Series one of the new collectable line features 36 characters including Skid Mark, Potty Pooper and Turdle. Meanwhile, a new style and scale of Teksta will bring the heroic electronic pet to a while new audience. The Teksta 360 comes with all the tricks and electronic features of previous seasons; light-up emotive eyes, cute sounds, interaction with other pets. Finally, Catching Stars and Wizard battle join Character’s exciting games line-up, all of which will be fully supported with extensive TV and active PR campaigns. Featured product

Poopeez Manufacturer: Character Group

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26/03/2018 14:34


AVAILABLE APRIL 2018 Experience Rubik’s Cube, the mathematical wonder and emblem of the 80s, in jigsaw form with this devilishly difficult, double-sided, 500 piece puzzle! Can you solve the cube?

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26/03/2018 17:31


Alpha Animation 01293 804599 Alpha Animation and Toys will bring new products, strong content, licensing partnerships, creative brand initiatives and integrated marketing campaigns throughout the year. Visitors to the company’s stand at this year’s AIS Show will be given the chance to view a full product offering across girls, boys, pre-school and RC. Leading the line-up, Screechers Wild will bring exhilaration to the boys’ aisle. Having launched in February, the brand development steps up a level for autumn with DX Screechers and the Fossil Fire Playset. With more to come for 2019, Screechers Wild will be heavily supported with 60 two-minute digital shorts, TV, sponsorship and digital partnerships. Super Wings continues to grow from strength to strength and the brand will carry on evolving into 2018 with new launches for autumn. At over 14” tall, Jett’s Super Robot Suit transforms from a free-wheeling vehicle to a free-standing figure. Jett’s Take Off Tower is also new to the range, offering on the go play as a portable two-in-one airport play-set, while Robot Ready Jett will be a pre-school hit with interaction, lights and sounds. Another highlight of the portfolio is Miximals, encouraging kids to imagine, create and share. The Miximals collectable range will expand with new characters, mobile mix up vehicles and play-sets allowing children to create their own Miximals world. RC is at the heart of what Alpha does and Terra-Sect by Drone Force highlights the company’s ability to bring cutting-edge toys to the category. Terra-Sect rolls, flips and crawls in any direction. All this and more from Alpha for 2018. Featured product

Miximals Mobile Mix Up Assortment Kittony’s Cattractor Manufacturer: Alpha Animation

Posh Paws 01268 567317 With a raft of new licensed merchandise, including blockbuster movie collections and sparkle-eyed Squads of favourite Disney characters, Posh Paws has plenty for attendees of this year’s AIS show to dive into. August will see the release of a new Winnie the Pooh Movie and Posh Paws will be celebrating with its My Teddy Bear Pooh collection, a major focus for the firm for 2018 with planned TV advertising for Q4. Already available as part of the Winnie the Pooh collection is Winnie the Pooh Vintage, Winnie the Pooh Tonal and Winnie the Pooh Snuggletime, while later this year will see the launch of the official movie range featuring Pooh, Eeyore, Piglet and Tigger all available in 7-inch, 10-inch and XL sizes. AIS will also be the place to see Posh Paws’ wide-eyed Disney Collection. These glittery plush toys feature favourites from both Disney’s back catalogue and most recent films. Released in squads of six, each character features heartmetling super large eyes. Squad A’s characters launch in January and will include Cinderella, Marie from Aristocrats, Minnie Mouse, Dumbo, Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, while Squad B stars Bambi, Snow White, Mickey Mouse, Simba, Patch from 1010 Dalmations and Eeyore. Completing the portfolio and with the premier of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom in June, Posh Paws is fulfilling its official plush partner duties with the launch of Jurassic World 2 soft toys which include 8-inch, 10-inch, 14-inch and XL versions of the most recognisable dinosaurs encountered in the film. Featured product

Posh Paws Disney Collection Manufacturer: Posh Paws

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Call us on: 08453 070707

Browse the full range at rubiesuk.com Untitled-1 1

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Schleich 01279 870000 Schleich has much to discover at this year’s AIS show, with multiple pocket money price-points, a craftsmanship that parents trust and new point of sale options, meaning there are many reasons to visit the firm this year. Central to the 2018 Horse Club range will be Sofia, Hannah, Sarah and Lisa – the new Horse Club girls making their debut in Q3. These new rider figures are movable and can ride, sit and grip for realistic play. Girls will be racing to add the new Caravan For Secret Club Meetings to their toy box. All eyes will be on the new Large Horse Stable with House and Stable. Featuring a number of rooms, a balcony, and stables, this set will be top of all wish lists come September. Added to this is the Riding Café for the Horse Club girls to catch up while their horses graze outside. Scampering into the Farm World range this spring is the new Yorkshire Terrier and French Bulldog, as well as new boxed sets including the Miniature Pig Mother and Piglets set and Pony Mare and Foal play-set. For autumn, the Large Farm House will be unveiled. This hero play-set has endless accessories and features exclusive figures for extra play value. New arrivals to the Wild Life range will make their debut too. The Ranger and Indian Rhinoceros Starter Set, the Panda Enclosure set and the Trap with Ranger launch in Q1 with multiple play functions and boxed set value for consumer appeal. Retailers will also have first sight of the trueto-life 4x4 Vehicle with Winch play-set due to launch in September. Featured product

Caravan For Secret Club Meetings Manufacturer: Schleich

Rainbow Designs 01329 227300 The Home of Classic Characters will be showcasing many of its prolific plush collections at the AIS Show this year, including all three of their renowned Peter Rabbit ranges. Rainbow’s fun new Peter Rabbit Movie range features a series of plush toys styled on characters from the new film starring James Corden as the voice of Peter Rabbit. The collection also includes a feature plush Talking Peter Rabbit that will amuse youngsters with phrases that include ‘more radishes and carrots please’ and ‘has anyone seen Mr McGregor?’ The fun and exciting Peter Rabbit TV collection from Rainbow Designs, combines the classic characters with modern day appeal. The range includes a soft toy assortment of the characters from the animated TV show; talking plush toys, as well as the award-winning Hopping and Talking Peter Rabbit and Lily Bobtail feature plush toys. From the Beatrix Potter tales, Rainbow’s Peter Rabbit Nursery Collection stars Peter Rabbit and Flopsy Bunny as portrayed in the original, beloved storybooks. Rounding out the firm’s portfolio this year, Paddington Bear Classic and Paddington Movie collections will also be on display alongside the Classic Winnie-the-Pooh ‘Hundred Acre Wood’ and Disney Baby ranges. Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Snowman, which celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2018, will complete the display of classic plush character collections coming to retail. Featured product

The Peter Rabbit Movie Group Plush Manufacturer: Rainbow Designs 24 | toy news | April 2018

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New AW18



Glowing eyes ROLL


FLIP FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CALL +44 (0)1293 804599 Untitled-1 1

© 2018 Alpha All rights reserved.

22/03/2018 10:38:09

Generation Media

EASTER MONEY Lauren Coombs With the Spring holiday just around the corner, Generation Media’s Lauren Coombs walks us through TV advertising over the Easter break. Source BARB March 2018


ts that time of year again, where kids will be getting ready for egg hunts, munching on chocolate treats and enjoying a nice long bank holiday as Easter is just around the corner. If we cast our minds back five years, the toys and games market was not as cluttered as it is today. Across the 2013 school Easter holiday, there were 148 toys and games commercials on TV. Every year after, up until last year the volume of campaigns incremented by a further 10 to 11 per cent. This meant that by the time we reached the Easter period in 2016, 199 toys and games commercials were bring transmitted. Children were therefore seeing 51 more campaigns vs 2013 equating to an additional 3,040 children’s four-15 TVRs (converting to over 960 boy four to nine TVRs in the market.) If we dive a bit deeper, we can see that there was predominant player for their attention. And it is no surprise at this time of year that the top campaign focused on the low end of the price point scale capturing consumers making point of sale purchases. Two out of the four years across 2013-2016, Panini World Cup and Euro Sticker Collections dominated the toys and games space. In 2016, across this time period alone they had delivered over 6,400 spots equating to over 610 children’s four-15 TVRs (converting to over 960 boys four to nine

TVR in just a 16 day period) ensuring they reached the number one spot. To provide context, this campaign was three times the size of the second most advertised toys and games campaign across this time frame. Despite seeing increased fragmentation with more and more campaigns on air, in 2017 this fell by five per cent versus the previous year with 189 toys and games campaigns on air during the Easter period. However if one compares this to 2013, there was still 41 times more campaigns vying for children’s attention. So, with Easter fast approaching, will we see an increase or decrease versus the last year? Regardless of the fact that across January and February this year there has been 22 fewer campaigns on air versus the same period in 2017, the dominance of collectable campaigns and the fact 2018 is a World Cup year, we would certainly expect to see more campaigns on air than last year. It is therefore more important than ever that your out there in a cluttered market place. This is a combination of ensuring your TV campaigns are working harder and, during the AW season, you are looking at alternative options to extend unique cover with your target audience. For assistance or advice in this area contact Generation Media and we would be happy to talk with you about just how to do this at this prime advertising time of the year.

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

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*NPD Full Year 2017

CONTACT YOUR JUMBO SALES REP FOR MORE INFORMATION Jumbo Games, 2 Carters Row, Hatfield Park, Hatfield, UK, AL9 5NB Telephone: 01707-289289 Email: uk.saleshotline@jumbo.eu www.jumbo.eu


07/03/2018 10:21

Campaign of the month

BEN 10 LAUNCHES SECOND WAVE Everyone’s favourite pint-sized adventurer is back with a second wave of toys and the launch will be backed by an extensive marketing campaign from Cartoon Network


artoon Network’s adventureloving Ben Tennyson is set to return in his original form in 2018, to the delight of youngsters across the nation. The merchandise roll-out for this latest iteration was kicked off in July 2017 with the launch of Playmates’ spectacular new toy range, which Flair is distributing across the UK. Building upon the first product line, a second wave of toys is now rolling across the UK, supported by a marketing and digital campaign. The expanded toy offering for fans includes a diverse new collection of figurines, role-play items and vehicles. Key SKUs that began hitting shelves at the end of January include the Heatblast Rocket Flyer and Diamondhead Power Tank vehicles, a range of Omni-Enhanced figurines and the new Omni Launch Battle Figures that give kids the chance to use an Omnitrix Launcher included in the pack and watch as the figures transform into aliens mid-air. “We’re delighted to be kicking off what is going to be another action-packed year for Ben 10 with the launch of a fantastic new wave of toys,” said Graham Saltmarsh, director of licensing, UK and Nordics at Cartoon Network Enterpris-

es EMEA. “Once again Playmates has done an amazing job capturing all the elements boys love from the show and translated them into an innovative, engaging and fun toy range that is giving kids the chance to live up to their dream of becoming Ben.” To support the new range of toys and the Argos catalogue release, Cartoon Network ran a watch-and-win competition from January 27th – February 28th. Every episode of Ben 10 sees an animated Ben morphing into one of the ten aliens from the show and viewers were directed to go online and answer the

“Which alien is Ben 10 today?” question to win prizes from the Argos catalogue range. The promotion was supported with an on-air advertising campaign and squeeze credits. The giveaway attracted over 18,500 entries, ranking as one of Cartoon Network’s most popular competitions to date. Cartoon Network has an exciting lineup of Ben 10 brand and retail activations planned throughout 2018, including an Easter campaign rolling across channel, digital and social platforms that will be supported by a paid media campaign. Cartoon Network is not stopping at toys, with a wider licensing programme lined up throughout the rest of the year that encompasses categories including apparel, accessories, homewares publishing and more. 2018 is set to be a big and busy year for Cartoon Network and Ben 10.

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CONTACT YOUR JUMBO SALES REP FOR MORE INFORMATION Jumbo Games,, 2 Carters Row, Hatfield Park, Hatfield, UK, AL9 5NB Telephone: 01707-289289 Email: uk.saleshotline@jumbo.eu www.jumbo.eu


15/03/2018 14:25

Toy Shop UK



LEGO recently reported a fall in sales, with many attributing the unexpected result to an over-reliance on licensed product. While blockbuster franchises can attract an audience to a toy brand, are they a substitute for original ideas and creativity?


t’s not hard to see why toy brands are eager to attach a Hollywood license to their brand. With a strong IP, a brand’s products can be instantly propelled into the forefront of the toy space, providing a much-needed shortcut into a vastly envied corner of the market. However as many a toymaker has found out the hard way, it is not a shortcut to financial success. It's no secret that in most cases, the license holder takes the lion’s share of the profits for the products that

are produced, and should the product line fail, the toymakers take the financial hit. Even the biggest brands in the space can fall victim to this pitfall, as demonstrated by LEGO’s disappointing 2017 financial results, which were due in large part to an intense focus on licensed ranges and cross-media products such as video games and movies. It's arguable that licensed products reached a peak with Disney’s media blitz for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. With

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Toy Shop UK

such a saturation of the licensed space it's reasonable to assume customers will start to feel some level of fatigue, which is being picked up on by retailers. “It’s moving away from them as there’s too many franchises bringing film and TV context too fast,” offers Matt Booker of Autommattic Comics & Toys. “The big retailers churn through the toys so fast it leads to big discounts harming what used to be profitable.” In a world of instant releases and overnight successes, it's also very hard to identify which franchises will have longevity and which will go the way of the Crazy Frog. “We make it a point not to follow any

JOB VACANCY: SENIOR DESIGN ENGINEER JOB DESCRIPTION: A rare and exciting opportunity has arisen to join us at Seven Towns, one of the World’s leading toy invention houses. As part of our small team of up to 10 engineers, designers and inventors you will be involved in inventing, developing and prototyping toys and games for some of the biggest toy companies and brands in the world. Each member of the team has their superhero skill, and we need you to be our mechanical-design super hero! Being a wizard at the development of mechanisms, widgets and gadgets, you will help devise the mechanical solutions that bring our toy and game ideas to life. A knowledge of design for manufacture and injection moulding is preferred but not essential. Added skills such as electronics, robotics or mechatronics would be a bonus.

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franchises - they come and go so quickly and whilst they create a buzz, our customers come to us because they want to find toys that will really engage the children," elaborates Whirligig Toys’ Peter Alinson. “With toys that appear in the pound shops before the film is even out, these toys just don’t meet our standards - there are much better products out there." The industry seems split on the topic, with roughly 60 per cent arguing it is too license-heavy and the remaining 40 per cent showing less concern. If this year’s toy fairs were anything to go by, 2018 looks to be a year for creativity in the toy space, with no shortage of new products able to wow youngsters without a

Toy Shop UK is a consumer-led, online directory that helps toy suppliers, retailers and licence holders promote their businesses to an audience of up to 10,000 unique visitors per day. Popular weekly giveaways, the esteemed Independent Toy Awards and special supplier listings are just three of the ways that Toy Shop UK can help you increase your online presence and complement your other marketing activities this year. Contact: Michael Hawkins michael@toyshopuk.co.uk 07786 295756 for more information. www.toyshopuk.co.uk follow us @toyshopuk

Along with mechanical problem solving for the team you must be a creative ideas person too. You will have the opportunity to contribute to the process of generating new toy and game concepts alongside the rest of our creative team where your passion for toys and games can shine. EXPERIENCE: Ideally 8 years+ experience in a role in a related industry with demonstrable examples of the work created. SKILL SET: As well as having a brilliant mind for mechanisms, you will need the skills in both traditional and digital model-making to allow you to use our fully equipped workshop with SolidWorks CAD and 3D printing. QUALIFICATIONS: Ideally degree level qualification in Mechanical, Product, Industrial Design / Engineering. SALARY: An attractive and comprehensive package including benefits will be offered to the successful candidate. HOW TO APPLY: Please send your CV and mini portfolio, by the 4th May 2018, to: recruitment@seventowns.com www.seventowns.com

26/03/2018 15:26







Create track layouts with Magformers magnetic pieces, then add in the rail accessories.

The modern, magnetic monorail system

It spins! It lifts! It even travels upside down! Cradle WATCH THE VIDEO

sales@magformers.co.uk www.magformers.co.uk Tel: 08000 385 195 RAV_TN_RAV_HalfPage_Gravitrax_April2018_FINAL.pdf



1:07 PM

Gravity enabled fast actions




Endless creativity






Experience the power of gravity!

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10/04/2018 14:33


NEW BUILDS The construction toy category continues to expand with new developments, launches and toy companies entering the sector each year. From early years building to the more refined and advanced builds, Robert Hutchins rounds up the latest ranges to be stacking high on the shelves for 2018

Playmobil 01268 548111 This spring/summer, Playmobil is launching new and exciting products that will entertain children throughout the UK and Ireland. The new ranges, set to delight both loyal and new fans, will continue to have a key focus on sparking imaginative and creative play. Staying true to the brand’s ethos. Through its new ranges, Playmobil will continue to encourage children to get lost in their imagination during playtime. The new Fairies range is available now for children aged four and above and will bring a touch of sparkle to playtime with unicorns, fairies and dragons aplenty. This new line is destined to be a big hit within the magical and mystical toy craze. There are ten sets within the range, including Magical Fairy Forest with Fairy Queen throne, Enchanted Fairy Ship which floats on water and Mystical Fairy Glen

with a colour changing light-up central flower. Meanwhile, 2018 will also see the expansion of the popular 1.2.3 range, suitable for children aged 18 months and upwards. This spring there will be the arrival of a new Pirate Ship, which floats on the water and features a water shooting canon. Also new to the popular range is the Pirate Island with a treasure cave and spaces in which to place sea creatures. The Take Along range is growing with the new Take Along Market Stall. There will be further additions to the range, including a limited edition Tow Truck with Race Car and new Girl and Dino Egg. For more information, contact your sales representatives of the Playmobil main office. Featured product

Playmobil Pirate Ship Manufacturer: Playmobil April 2018 | toy news | 33

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LEGO 01869 363800 It’s the 60th year of the LEGO brick and the LEGO Group is continuing to grow its assortment of construction toys, giving the builders of tomorrow more opportunities to create. This year’s slate will be supported by a series of new and innovative marketing campaigns to get more kids and consumers excited about the LEGO System in Play. For children as young as 18 months, the LEGO Duplo range has grown, while the LEGO Juniors range – aimed at four to five year olds – offers building experiences with quick-start elements to sets. The range offers products of popular LEGO franchises such as LEGO City and LEGO Friends, in addition to IP-based sets such as Disney Princess, Super Heroes or Jurassic World. The LEGO Group’s range of products for 2018 also features plenty of partner IP focused sets for some of the year’s biggest films. These include official lines for the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War, as well as sets for the hotly anticipated Solo: A Star Wars Story. Fans can also experience the stories of JK Rowling’s Wizarding World arriving in sets later this year. Similarly, LEGO’s range of popular Disney Princess products will return this year, alongside Jurassic World. For more advanced builders, LEGO’s Technic range also features a range of new product lines across different price points. Featured product

LEGO Friends Heartlake City Manufacturer: The LEGO Group

Ravensburger 01869 363800 Hot on the heels of a sell-out performance across Germany in 2017, the UK’s July launch of GraviTrax will be supported with a fully integrated, cross-platform marketing plan, culminating with a high-impact TV campaign in the Autumn. The Starter Set includes over 100 components – plenty to build different and exciting track layouts. Build even more complex and impressive layouts with one or more of the add-on sets – extra tracks, a building pack, a catapult, hammer, loops and a cannon. The individual hexagon-shaped components of GraviTrax fit together perfectly to create any shape track you can imagine. This STEM system is ideal to help children learn about gravity, magnetism and kinetic energy, all while having fun. You can freestyle with your own track design or use the tasks and blueprints included in the box as a guide to help you get started in the world of GraviTrax. For added track building, why not download the free app where you can explore new track layout ideas? The GraviTrax track system can be extended indefinitely with extra track packs and components. Each item is sold separately and GraviTrax is suitable for single players and becomes even more fun when constructed as a group with friends and family. Add on and rearrange your track so the gravity spheres continue to surprise and challenge the imagination. Featured product

GraviTrax Manufacturer: Ravensburger 34 | toy news | April 2018

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Toy News Full Page template.indd 1

22/02/2018 16:35:35


Magformers 08000 385195 David Kelly MD

Magformers combines its magnetic abilities with train-track style play in its new SkyTrack sets – a creative monorail featuring a new sky shuttle for kids to enjoy. By using Magformers’ magnetic pieces and special clip-in, single rail accessory pieces, kids can design their own tracks to make the shuttle go round, up, over, upside down and even making it spin, use a lift and see-saw. Two SkyTrack sets are available with a choice of 44 or 64 pieces, both containing the shuttle car and a wheeled cradle. The sets are fully compatible with other Magformers sets and accessories. “SkyTrack was unveiled at the London and Nuremberg Toy Fairs and the response has been amazing,” said Magformers UK, managing director, David Kelly. “We have managed to combine the modern, educational aspects of Magformers magnetic construction with the timeless love of train play, but wrapped all up in a very sleek and futuristic design. “Children use the magnetic Magformers pieces to design their layouts and because of the 3D shapes that can be built, their final tracks can include towers and structures, then allow the shuttle to travel upside down.” Magformers has also introduced the small but smart Rally Kart set – a fantastic introduction to Magformers for car-mad kids. Featured produc

Magformers Skytrack Manufacturer: Magformers

Smart Toys and Games 01903 885669 GeoSmart from SmartGames is set to be the future of geometric play. An exciting new range with patented technology that offers the ultimate in magnetic play, it features bold colours and strong magnetic pieces. Billed as the ideal STEM construction kit, GeoSmart promises children aged five years old and upwards the ability to enjoy creative play while learning at the same time. The complete range comprises of six different Geoshapes in nine striking colours and each piece cleverly interlocks, meaning that the construction possibilities are numerous. The Solar Spinner set contains 23 pieces, including a spinner to get the cogs turning. By building 3D shapes, children will not only be developing their spatial insight, but nurturing their hand-eye coordination, too. The flagship set, Mars Explorer contains 51 pieces and LED lights and the fun grows as children can control their explorer with its two motors, a transmitter and receiver. Exciting and educational, these clever construction kits hone in on concentration and logical thinking skills as children are encouraged to make stable and working constructions. Clever, captivating construction, the selection has been called ‘the perfect companion for any child’. Featured Product:

SmartGames GeoSmart Manufacturer: Smart Games and Toys

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Arckit Charlie@arckit.com Arckit is a multi-award-winning architectural model building system that opens up the world of architecture for the first time, teaching anyone to ‘think like and architect’ and build a structure or city from scratch using their imagination. The freeform components click together to create anything from miniature towns through to intricate buildings finished to perfection with realistic graphics. Invented by Damien Murtagh and produced in Ireland, Arckit launched in 2014 as a professional-level tool to help architects explore designs and communicate ideas to clients. However, the revolutionary system filled another gap in the market and soon took off as a fun way to teach STEAM concepts in schools, colleges and universities. The full range includes ArckitPlay (TinyTown and Cityscape kits) which are for children aged five years and upwards, Arckit Mini Series and ArckitGo for children eight and upwards. The A Series kits and the Masterplan range is for teens and adults who want to take their model building to a more advanced level. “We launched our original kits as an evolution of the traditional ‘cut and glue’ model,” said founder Damien Murtagh. “I wanted to create something that was fast, affordable and reusable. Our patented system won us international recognition and several awards, so we decided to build on these foundations. We launched ArckitPlay to inspire a younger audience to get hands-on with design and change how they think about their built environments.” Arckit Go and the A Series kits are inspired by modern building techniques, allowing users to design and build a model structure – anything from a town hall to a luxury beach house – using colourful or classic white components. The A Series kits can even be finished with supplied Arckitexture graphics to add realistic detail such as stone, timber and aluminium. Advanced users and architecture students can also use physical components alongside digital Arckit components in 3D software such as SketchUp and Autodesk Revit for a seamless design experience. The new series of kits (Tiny Town, Cityscape and Masterplan) take these same principles to a

new level, allowing younger makers to design and build their dream city using soft pastel coloured components inspired by iconic styles of world architecture. These are compatible with each other so kids can design everything from a small town centre through to sprawling suburbs and a thriving metropolis. Depending on the product, the models can be displayed in front of a scenic backdrop or brought to life with illustrative details such as building façade stickers and graphics to represent landmarks, like a football stadium or swimming pool. “We have used our industry experience and worked closely with senior figures within education to create a system that schools can use right out of the box,” said Murtagh. “Our Arckit Education Programme offers a variety of lesson plans that are designed to develop fundamental design principles, creativity, team building and technology skills. “Our aim is to inspire future architects – it’s incredible to see what kids are building with Arckit.” Featured Product:

Arckit Masterplan Manufacturer: Arckit

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Flair 0208 643 0320 Stickle Bricks from GP Flair has been a toy box favourite brand for generations and remains the perfect first construction toy for toddlers. There is plenty for little hands with big imaginations to get to grips with including the colourful Farm Set. Stickle Bricks has been a best-seller since relaunch and Flair is continuing to drive the range with fun new developments for 2018. The new Little Builder set will make the perfect entry point into the range as tots can jump right in and begin building with the assortment of brightly coloured bricks. With even more imaginative possibility is the new Fun Tub perfect for young builders with grand designs in mind. The Fun Tub also doubles as a handy storage container. Also launching this spring is the exciting Stickle Bricks Fire Engine which will inspire countless adventures with its fire fighter and bright red fire engine. If it’s building down on the farm that is the project of choice, then the Stickle Bricks Farm set comes complete with its own special farm themed pieces that offer endless play opportunities. There’s a farmer and animals such as a pig, sheep and chicken, plus a tractor with moving wheels. The uniquely stickled lid doubles as a play base which, with trees and fence accessories, the perfect farmyard can be created. Featured product

Stickle Bricks Fire Engine Manufacturer: Stickle Bricks

Character Options 0161 6339800 Character Options is building upon its construction offering following the launch last year of its two exciting magnetic brands, Magtastix and Magcreator. These innovative construction sets encourage kids to explore shapes and patterns with magnetic rods and balls (Magtastix) or geometric shapes (Magcreator), for endless creative and educational play. New to the Magtastix range for AW18 is the Extreme Combo Set. Now kids can combine Magcreator and Magtastix pieces for the ultimate magnetic build experience with this 50-piece set. Retailers can continue to offer great variety with the original 20-piece and 40-piece Magtastix kits, or the monster 70-piece set for magnetic building pros. Meanwhile, construction meets dinosaurs in the new lines added to the Magcreator range. The 50-piece Magcreator Triceratops and 47-piece T-Rex kits both contain everything needed to create 3D dinosaurs with magnetic power. Kids will have a lot of fun using the brightly coloured geometric pieces to create their very own dino-model, while also learning crucial STEM skills. The range also includes the original 15-piece and 31-piece sets, offering a variety of price-points for retailers. Featured product

Magcreator T-Rex Manufacturer: Magcreato

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WORLD OF IMAGINATION Whether its exploring new worlds or learning to count, the pre-school sector is soaring higher than ever this season. Here, Robert Hutchins details the products taking the category to new heights in 2018 and beyond

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Rubie's UK 08453 070707

Star Wars: The Last Jedi arrives on DVD this month and Rubie’s is celebrating with its portfolio of Star Wars dress-up costumes, including Rey in child sizing. The most popular adult Star Wars costumes include three female characters that have proved to be very popular, so make sure you are stocked up and don’t forget to cater for all of those female Star Wars fans. As May the fourth approaches, Rubie’s is going all in to celebrate Star Wars day and as social media prepares to get set alight with everything Star Wars related, fans will be sure to be getting involved in all kinds of sci-fi dress-up. This is a great opportunity to push brand awareness with everyone taking to social media to share their Star Wars day experiences. Rubie’s will be posting its own Star Wars pet costume video on social media, which shows a stormtrooper family with their Darth Vader dog, so keep your eyes peeled for that one. Next up, Solo: A Star Wars Story hits cinemas on May 25th this year with a planned DVD release this August. The film sees Han Solo meet his mighty future co-pilot, Chewbacca and encounters the notorious gambler, Lando Calrissian, in a journey that will set the course of one of the Star Wars saga’s most unlikely heroes. Featured product

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Porg costume Manufacturer Rubie's UK

Hasbro 0208 5691234 This season sees Hasbro launch two new hero TV lines ready for AW 2018 under the ever-popular and ever-innovative Play-Doh brand. Embracing the pre-school passion for role-play, kids can imagine themselves as barbers, fashioning silly haircuts and a shave, as well as aspiring ice cream connoisseurs and have fun with their own imaginary ice cream. Based on the all-time classic Play-Doh Fuzzy Pumper Barber Shop sets, the Play-Doh Buzz ‘n Cut Barber Shop set comes with two character thimbles that can be styled up with braids, bows, moustaches and other accessories. Kids can place one of the two in the chair and turn the crank to grow hilarious hair or a bristly beard. Kids can even give them a trim or shave it all off with the electric buzzer, which makes real buzzing sounds when it touches the PlayDoh compound. For the first time in its history, Hasbro has developed the Play-Doh Kitchen Creations Ultimate Swirl Ice Cream Maker to be able to create two dishes or cones of Play-Doh ice cream at the same time. Kids can simply load Play-Doh colours into the ice cream dispenser, place two dishes or cones underneath, then press the lever to make it spin and press out amazing pretend ice cream swirls. This cool three-in-one ice cream machine comes with lots of accessories to spark creativity. Featured product

Play-Doh Buzz ‘n Cut Barbers play-set Manufacturer: Hasbro

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Peppa’s Interactive Playmat

Count with Peppa

Peppa’s Sing & Learn Microphone

Learn with Thomas Alphaphonics™


Flip and Learn Phone

Mr Tumble Learning Pad

Expect so much more!

©2017 Gullane (Thomas) Limited. ©2017 HIT Entertainment Limited. Peppa Pig © Astley Baker Davies Ltd/Entertainment One UK Ltd 2003. BBC logo TM & © BBC 1996. SOMETHING SPECIAL logo TM & © BBC 2004. MR TUMBLE TM & © BBC 2015. Licensed by BBC Worldwide Ltd.

Trends UK (National Accounts)

Wind Designs (Independents)

Email: salesadmin@trendsuk.co.uk www.trendsuk.co.uk

Email: sales@wind-designs.com www.wind-designs.com

Tel: +44 (0)1295 768078

Tel: +44 (0)1353 724140


For media enquiries, please contact:

Ane Olesen: ane@wirepr.eu

TRENDS-Toy-News-HP-183x115-Mar2018.indd 1

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VTech 01235 555545 2018 is set to be an exciting year for VTech with some great new product launches. Each product is specifically developed to stimulate the senses and imagination and introduce age appropriate concepts. It’s time to set sale this autumn/winter with the Toot-Toot Friends Kingdom Pirate Ship by VTech. This interactive Pirate Ship is packed full of features and can open to reveal a Treasure Island play-set. It also comes with three Toot-Toot Friends characters: Captain Monty, Sailor Stanley and Monkey. Place the characters on the MagicPoint location for fun responses or press the cannon button to launch the cannonball. The light-up buttons reveal fun role-play responses and more. Little ones can discover the Treasure Island, battle the octopus and find the treasure chest. In addition to this, VTech is also launching the Touch and Learn Activity Desk by VTech. This four-in-one desk features a writing pad, desk, blackboard and art station. The desk includes an interactive desktop, stylus and four double-sided touch pages filled with engaging content including letters, numbers, music, colours and more. It also transforms from a desk into an easel and blackboard with plenty of storage space for art supplies to encourage play and discovery. The interactive LED display teaches letter and number stroke order. It also includes a fun toy phone and music player featuring over 20 songs. Enjoy hours of fun as you create, discover and learn. Featured product

Toot-Toot Friends Kingdom Pirate Ship Manufacturer VTech

Leapfrog 01235 555545 A leader in innovative developmental solutions for children, LeapFrog has launched three new role play products to sit alongside the top selling Scoop and Learn Ice Cream Cart in the LeapFrog Role Play Range. The Water and Count Vegetable Garden along with a refreshed version of the ever-popular Shapes and Sharing Picnic Basket and Musical Rainbow Tea Party will be released in July this year. Children can practise counting skills and learn what plants need to grow with the push along gardening wheelbarrow. They will be able to plant three different vegetables, then water them with the light-up watering can. Drop, pull-up or press the vegetables to hear them talk and count, while developing fine motor and matching skills. Slide the snail to spin vegetables and hear fun sounds, or push the light-up sun button to hear about the times of the day. The LeapFrog Water and Count Vegetable Garden retails at £29.99. Meanwhile, 2018 will see a new version of the popular Shapes and Sharing Picnic Basket, with new features such as a shape sorting lid and a new model of play. The Shapes and Sharing Picnic Basket has a £22.99 price tag. Finally, the Musical Rainbow Tea party teaches colours, opposites, counting, matching and more. Featured product

LeapFrog Shapes and Sharing Picnic Basket Manufacturer: LeapFrog

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Trends UK 01295 768078 Trends UK has a bold portfolio of pre-school ELA’s hitting shelves this season, each supported with a round of TV advertising, marketing and PR campaigns. The range kicks off with perennial preschool favourite, Peppa Pig and the Electronic Learning Toy range welcomes a new addition for autumn. Offering a unique and engaging play pattern, the new Count with Peppa will enable kids to have fun with colourful play coins and learn about numbers and colours. Give the coins to Peppa and she will count and respond. Retrieve them from her purse on her tummy and the fun starts over again. Meanwhile, the highly successful Peppa Pig Interactive Playmat will continue to be a big focus for 2018. The Peppa Pig ELAs range will be supported with TV aimed at key target audiences during the important buying periods and a specific year-long ELA programme securing coverage in all types of media. Elsewhere, the Mr Tumble Learning Pad is an ideal toy for any fan of the Something Special programme because it combines recognising colours, letters, numbers and musical instruments with the highly recognisable Mr Tumble and his friends. It has been billed as a ‘truly interactive and fun learning toy.’ Fans of Thomas & Friends will love the fun ELA toys with lots of engaging activities and sounds to explore. The Thomas Flip and Learn Phone is a chunky classic flip-up phone with fun games to play. Thomas sound effects and a backlit answer screen and image of Thomas and Percy. Rounding out the range is the Learn with Thomas Alphaphonics, an easy to handle toy featuring seven different play models. The play patterns are designed to help develop memory, follow sequences and concentration. Rewards include fun music and sound effects.

Le Toy Van 0208 9792036

This month, Le Toy Van is delighted to introduce its new 2018 collections, and for the year ahead it has some truly great new brands for the pre-school market across all of its best selling ranges, as well as new assets to support the launch and sell through Q1 to Q4. Leading the charge is the Petilou ABC Blocks Machine, one of the firm’s favourite new items, proudly launched by Le Toy Van at Toy Fair 2018. A classic alphabet and numbers blocks set, the Petilou ABC Blocks Machine is hand crafted from solid rubber wood with smooth edges for a safe and soft touch. The set features pastel designs for upper and lower case letters as well as numbers from 0 to 9. The illustrations are related to the letter on the block to support clear and easy letter and number recognition. The sixth face of each block is designed to give extended play by being used together to create objects and animals, ideal to encourage creativity and imagination. Every block is hand screen printed which makes each one unique. The set comes complete with a handy wooden tray that has a printed alphabet on the base, meaning the ABC block set can also be played with like a puzzle to support alphabet learning.

Featured product

Featured product

Count with Peppa play-set

Petilou ABC Blocks Machine

Manufacturer Trends UK

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Spin Master 01628 535 000 PAW Patrol remained the number one preschool property in 2017 and was number one toy property in the month of September, according to NPD EPoS September 2017, promising strong retail opportunities throughout 2018. Kids love bringing the fun and adventures to life through the PAW Patrol toy line and there’s more in store this spring as PAW Patrol keeps its fans up to speed with a new range of toys based on the ‘Mission PAW’ theme. Exciting new products include the TV advertised Mission PAW Mission Cruiser, a new moveable mission command centre, plus the Mission PAW Mini Vehicles. The Mission Cruiser vehicle includes Robo Dog in his mini vehicle, plus has room for fans’ favourite pups and their mini vehicles, too (sold separately) in the container in the back of the cruiser and I the driver’s seat. Little adventurers can use the pop-up screen and animated mission card to view their next important mission. With real working wheels and kid-powered racing, the Mission PAW Mini Vehicles help fans save the day. The new toys also include an animated Mission PAW card compatible with the Mission Cruiser, meaning little rescuers can collect all of the Mission PAW pups, and their vehicles and the Mission Cruiser. Featured product

Mission PAW Mission Vehicle Manufacturer Spin Master

Fisher-Price 01628 500 000 Fisher-Price encourages parents to Let Kids Be Kids, allowing children the freedom to explore, discover and develop at their own pace and in their own way. The brand is supported through an integrated marketing programme including digital communications, content, influencers, TV, CRM, social media and PR. An extensive range includes Baby-gear 2-in-1 Sit-to-Stand Activity Centre and Newborn Deluxe Kick & Play Piano Gym, featuring Smart Stages technology which develops with baby, plus the 4-in-1 Ocean Activity Centre. Infant Laugh and Learn introduces Smart Stages Learn with me Puppy Walker, Puppy’s Check Up Kit, Sweet Manners Tea Set and Smart Learning Home and 3-in-1 Smart Car. Pre-school Think and Learn introduces Rocktopus, encouraging pre-schoolers to create music and develop their maths, while Little People introduces Take Turns Skyway and Friend Ship. Fisher-Price character brands launches Imaginext Jurassic World while Shimmer and Shine presents magical Zabaracorns and Blaze and the Monster Machines launched Robo Riders. Bing introduces Talking Bing while Octonauts introduces Peso Medical Kit. Finally, Thomas and Friends brings kids to the bigger world around them through the wonder and awe of trains, providing a trusted friend for adventure and discovery. Featured product

Think and Learn Rocktopus Manufacturer: Fisher-Price

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GP Flair 0208 6430320 2018 sees the Just Play division at GP Flair add to its heavyweight pre-school portfolio with two new Disney Junior licenses, new themes for PJ Masks and more. July will see the launch of the Puppy Dog Pals collection. This exciting new series premiered on Disney Junior in January 2018 and follows the adventures of two loveable pug puppies who are on a mission to save the day. As master toy partners, Just Play is getting set to launch the toy line that is packed with play-sets, figures, accessories and plush toys. The striking colourways of the range sets this collection apart and will appeal equally to boys and girls. Figures are also a key offering. The Travel Pets sets include a collectable figure and a carrier to store them in while kids can play with all their favourite characters in the Jumbo Deluxe Friends Set, which also comes with a host of accessories. From there, fans can discover Figures on the Go which come with a 7.5cm posable figure, a vehicle and a special launcher pad to set the speed. Light Up Pals on a Mission will be at the centre of all adventures with special light up figures which features a kid-powered spinning amplifier. Alternatively, the Surprise Action Figures walk and talk with over ten sounds and phrases from the show. Turbo Blast Racers are the ultimate PJ Masks racing vehicles and the Romeo’s lab Play-set joins the range in late spring. In addition, an exciting new development is the new PJ Masks Robot. Finally, the hero Doghouse Play-set completes the range. Featured product

Puppy Dog Pals Dog House Manufacturer Just Play

Vivid 01483 449944 Colouring is mess free with Crayola Colour Wonder this season. Colour Wonder packs are available across the hottest pre-school licenses with PAW patrol, PJ Masks and Peppa Pig available now and Nella the Princess Knight and Disney’s Vampirina launching for AW18. Vivid’s range of Nella the Princess Knight toys is expanding for autumn as Sir Garrett and Clod join the Adventure Collection Assortment as they visit the fabulous Trinket in Nella’s Sparkle Stable Play-set. Trinket fans can help her look her best with the new Style Me Trinket with a brush-able mane and tail as well as colour change hooves. Little ones can stand up for what’s right in the kingdom of Castlehaven with the Transforming Rose Shield which expands at the push of a button. The hero TV item for autumn is Transforming Princess Knight Nella which magically changes from Princess to Knight at the push of a button. Simply twist her belt to go from Knight back to Princess and press the heart of Nella’s tiara for phrases. The Nella brand will be supported with a cross-platform marketing campaign throughout the year, to include three TV commercials for six lines. Featured product

Transforming Princess Knight Nella Manufacturer: Vivid April 2018 | toy news | 47

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Posh Paws 01268 5673177 There’s a big year ahead for Posh Paws with a raft of new Disney merchandise including plenty to be loved by pre-schoolers. August will see the release of a new Winnie the Pooh Movie starring Ewan McGregor, and ahead of this, the classically styled Posh Paws My Teddy Bear Pooh collection will be the perfect way to introduce little ones to the most famous bear in the world. The Posh Paws Winnie the Pooh offering is a major focus for the firm for 2018 and to ensure its success, TV advertising is planned for Q4 and will feature the My Teddy Bear Pooh range. Also already available as part of the Winnie the Pooh collection is Winnie the Pooh Vintage, Winnie the Pooh Tonal and Winnie the Pooh Snuggletime. Launching later in the year, the official movie range will be a must have and includes Pooh in his classic red jumper, Eeyore, Piglet and Tigger all available as 7”, 10” and XL sizes. Meanwhile, Mickey Mouse is celebrating his 90th anniversary in November 2018 and with it will come celebrations across the globe targeting both children and families alike. In its own celebration, Posh Paws will be launching an original Mickey and Minnie plush range which will include a retro 10” gift box of both Mickey and Minnie. The Posh Paws Mickey Mouse repertoire also includes plush from the Mickey’s Roadster Racers and Minnie’s Happy Helpers franchises. Pre-school aged children will love collecting their favourite characters, stylised as seen in the Disney Junior shows, both in 7” and 10” sizes. The Mickey Roadster Racers Big Head Smilers collection will also be a firm favourite with younger Mickey Mouse fans, and their oversized heads and wide smiles and is available as 8” displayed in a CDU or 10” displayed in a gift box for an effortlessly eye catching and easy display in store.

Character Options 0161 6339800 The pre-school market is still flying high, and Character Options’ ever popular Teletubbies and Peppa Pig collections see more exciting new additions, as well as a brand new range of PJ Masks Arts & Craft toys. Tots everywhere will also be saying 'Eh-Oh' to new launches in the Teletubbies toy range. This new range will give even further market appeal to the well-loved characters and take the toys in to the arms of a younger audience. The move echoes the First Steppers approach by brand owners DHX, who through careful research, has identified a gap needing to be bridged between baby and toys and pre-school collections especially within the licensed market. In addition, Twist ‘n’ Chime figures help encourage dexterity and imaginative play and join clip-on plush toys of all four Teletubbies and the Tiddlytubbies. For Spring, the Peppa Pig Family Pack will be a perfect offering for imaginative play with the family. Character’s Figures and Accessory packs are also highly successful and have been refreshed for 2018 with new figures such as Gerald the Giraffe. Finally, 2018 will also see some new additions to the PJ Masks portfolio with a new creative line featuring the Headquarters Deluxe Dough Set. Featured product

My Teddy Bear Pooh

Teletubbies Twist and Chime figures

Manufacturer Posh Paws

Manufacturer: Character Options

Featured product

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Bandai 0208 3246160 Trusted brand Crayola comes to the preschool aisle in the form of dough this spring as Bandai UK enters the category with a line up of colourful dough and play-sets. Creating things with dough is an ever-present feature of pre-school play and with Bandai’s Crayola Dough collection, parents and grandparents can be sure of safe and high-quality dough in the brightest of colours. Each is true to its fully patented Crayola pantones that are also available as affordable foil wrapped refill packs, and retailers can be sure that Crayola’s dough collection ticks all of the boxes every time. Crayola has many of the most popular preschool themes to choose from at a variety of price points. What’s more, each set complements the next, ensuring no cross over of accessories and encouraging additional purchases in store. Smaller sets include the Bakery and Candy Shop and include two tubs of dough while food-themed play can be extended with the Burger Chef and Ice Cream Parlour. Each set contains moulds, tools and accessories to create a veritable pretend feast for all. Another popular play pattern includes hair play and the Crayloa Dough Hairstylist Sets will see the extruder character sit in his or her barber’s chair only to receive the neatest of dough dos that can be re-styled time and again. Featured product

Crayola Dough Manufacturer Bandai

Golden Bear 01952 608308 A staple in the company’s pre-school portfolio, the popular In the Night Garden collection is getting a whole new refresh for 2018 which focuses on the brand’s very young core audience and its unique bedtime slot. The plush range has been refreshed with appealing larger eyes, soft fabrics and is led by Sleepy Tim IgglePiggle who gently sways his head along to soothing lullabies and features soft glowing cheeks. The new interactive Adventure Playset is the big attraction for AW18 and is packed with features including a circular track with motorised musical Ninky Nonk train, light-up carousel, songs and phrases. There are also exciting new additions to the Mr Tumble Something Special range, which includes Nursery Rhymes with Mr Tumble who plays five of your all time favourite nursery rhymes when you press his hand. The Mr Tumble Domino Train allows pre-schoolers to load the feeder on top of the train with 35 brightly coloured dominoes and watch as it lays the domino track. The popular Twirlywoos family is also expanding this autumn with the adorable Chatty Chick, Chickedy, Toodloo and Great BigHoo,while stomping into 2018 is the new Dinosaur Roar toy collection. Finally, the My First JCB range has a host of vehicles for active pre-schoolers to enjoy, from Rolling Diggers to Big Wheelers, offering both indoor and outdoor play value. Featured product

In the Night Garden Adventure Playset Manufacturer: Golden Bear 50 | toy news | April 2018

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Pretend Play

Real Learning



NEW CAKE STAND Press the heart to hear 80+ songs and phrases

Open the lid to see yourself in the mirror Light changes colour to match the flavour of the tea













16 tv


Order now 01235 555545 trade_sales@vtech.com

Press the butterfly to hear music and snack requests

Games of the Year

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Games of the Year

GAMES OF THE YEAR With families and friends veering away from the allure of LCD screens to the world of tabletop gaming, the games and puzzles space is more profilic and exciting than ever. Here, Jack Ridsdale takes a look at some of the biggest brands looking to challenge the space in 2018


hat is it about board games that continue to capture the imagination of kids and adults alike? In the modern age, our lives are increasingly lived through technology. Relationships are maintained through instant messages, lovers meet through dating apps and our memories documented in ones and zeroes on a computer screen. Short of putting on a tinfoil hat and moving to the woods, sometimes we all need to get away from it all. That’s where board games and puzzles have provided a much-needed touchstone for groups of sociable humans to congregate and have fun. With board game cafes and pubs springing up across London faster than artisan coffee shops, the trend looks set to stay, and we here at ToyNews are just fine with that, given the amount of innovative and engaging ideas being fostered in the space. Lesley Singleton, founder of Board Game Club is more familiar with most of the titles making a stir in their regular gaming night gatherings. “Last year we saw a lot of new games that were designed to deliberately play out well on social media, with brands produc-

ing titles they specifically hoped would mirror that viral Pie Face moment from a couple of years ago,” explains Singleton. “In addition, we also saw more of the Euro-style gateway games gaining a foothold in the mainstream and I’m confident this will continue in 2018 with retailers embracing the more abstract and unusual titles.”

"Last year we saw a lot of new games that were designed to deliberately play out well on social media."

Lesley Singleton, Founder, Board Game Club

The uprising of board gaming as a social trend is not lost on board game firms, with the creators in the space embracing the demand for games that bring families and friends together in new and exciting ways. “We’re beyond excited to be involved in the new movement in the board games sector,” Natasha Sullivan, head of board game marketing at Thames and Kosmos, tells ToyNews. “We believe the popularity April 2018 | toy news | 53

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Game of the Year

and sales upturn is due to people wanting a face-to-face interaction and connection, after being obsessed with the wonders of the virtual world for so long.” As the products offered in the space change over time, so too does the business model. Of late, more and more gaming brands are being united under one roof, with publishers such as Asmodee, gathering developers together, bringing a new sense of community to the various creatives in the space. “It’s a sign that the board games industry is maturing,” says Becky Ottery, owner of Eclectic Games toy shop and host of Eclecticon and many board gaming events throughout the year. “We’re moving on from a mildly chaotic, bespoke, cottage-industry style of business, where designers got their games to production and retail with or without a publishing partner, with a lot of their own labor, without necessarily knowing what to do with a success when they have one.”

“Video games are a relatively solitary thing, but board games provide that social experience with family and friends” Richard Denning, Director, UK Games Expo

Nowhere is the feverish passion for board gaming more evident than at the UK’s largest gathering of game enthusiasts, UK Games Expo. The event sees around 32,000 people flock to the NEC to discover the latest games, fostering a crowd of dedicated gamers. The director of the event, Richard Denning shares Ottery’s view. “I think it shows that the industry is growing,” explains Denning. “As long as each creator can preserve their original

style, bigger companies can provide them with the resources to keep doing what they’re doing. It reflects the growth of the industry.” Of course when quizzed on just why board games are so popular right now, we see the eyes of our interviewees light up. “Video games are a relatively solitary thing, but board games provide that social experience with family and friends,” continues Denning. “There are also many licenses that are growing in the space such as Star Wars and Game of Thrones. Legacy games are also experiencing a comeback thanks to movies and TV. Shows like The Big Bang Theory show characters playing Catan and Stranger Things, which have promoted roleplaying. Games are appearing more in shops like Waterstones and board game cafes as they get more visible in the mainstream.” “Technology is the standard now, the fad's over and you really can’t beat the addictive frustration of a board game,” adds

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Ultra Dash™ Set out the targets to design your course, press the button on the tagger to choose your game, and then race to match the colour of the flashes with the targets! • 3 Game modes: Beat the Clock, Target Tally and Relay Race! • Play solo, head-to-head or team vs. team! • Tagger detects targets and scores on accuracy • A different game each time you play! • Game play cues are all visuals or sounds - no language barriers!

Set up your own course!

Fun lights and sound effects!

3 Game Modes— easy to set!

For more information please contact us: T 03334 050120 E info@ugames.uk.com www.university-games.co.uk

Game of the Year

Natasha Sullivan of Thames & Kosmos. “It’s so expensive to pop down the pub these days for something to do, board game shops and cafes are up and coming because of this, people get an experience and more bang for their buck by being a part of it all. “ Turning to the future, the possibilities for what games could accomplish with new technologies is practically endless. On top of the meteoric rise of board gaming, puzzles have also found a new foothold in the industry, as adults continue to pursue simple, relaxing activities that will get them away from a screen in their spare time. National Jigsaw Day saw a phenomenal response from puzzlers around the country, “I have been amazed by the growing number of people who do jigsaws and the number of puzzles that get donated to the club — people love to contribute,” said Sue

“What I’m looking forward to most this year though is finally seeing some really quality activity in the tabletop-meets-digital gaming space” Lesley Singleton, Founder, Board Game Club

Riches, ex-minister for puzzles and leader of Banbury’s Puzzle Club. “We’ve seen people coming along who may not usually join gatherings — including men on their own who wouldn’t go to a coffee morning, for instance, come along as there is a purpose to the gathering.”

With companies like Gibsons, Jumbo, Ravensburger and more devising beautiful creations to delight puzzlers everywhere, the space shows no sign of fading away any time soon. Looking ahead, tech-influenced board games are a hugely exciting opportunity, and one that is being eyed by many firms. “What I’m looking forward to most this year though is finally seeing some really quality activity in the tabletop-meets-digital space,” adds Lesley Singleton. “Having games brands develop games with tech in mind - rather than trying to awkwardly shoe-horn a tablet or app into an existing title - is really exciting and something I’m certain we’ll be seeing more of.” As for the next big hit- it’s a roll of the dice. But if you're less of a gambler, take a look through the following pages at our 2018 games and puzzles sector guide.

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Dobble + RSC - Toy News.indd 1

Phone: 01420 593 593 E-Mail: sales@asmodee.co.uk

13/03/2018 11:19:07

Games & Puzzles

Asmodee 01420 593593

Ben Hogg, Marketing Manager

Fresh from picking up the award for 2017 Game of the Year in Dobble, Asmodee UK (formerly known as Esdevium Games) is gearing up for another big year with a host of exciting new titles and promotions. The April arrival of Bananagrams to Asmodee’s catalogue will be a major focus after its well-received debut at the company’s Toy Fair stand earlier this year. The tile-placing word game is already a worldwide hit and Asmodee is looking forward to taking it to the next level, with increased distribution throughout 2018. Stores can now pre-order the whole Bananagrams range, which includes Bananagrams Party as well as My First Bananagrams. Bananagrams joins Asmodee’s wide range of demonstration-friendly products including the hugely successful Dobble, the creative storytelling game Rory’s Story Cubes and new titles like Cobra Paw, Set and the soon-to-bereleased Who Did It?. One major initiative being launched is Asmodee’s new Modern Classics brand, which celebrates the modern-day superstars driving the popularity of tabletop experiences. The brand launches in the UK with its spotlight on Catan, Ticket to Ride Europe, Dixit, Carcassone, Concept and Pandemic, and will be supported with an eye-catching FSDU to draw consumers’ attention as well as individual labelling of the games themselves. Pandemic is set for a further boost in 2018 as Asmodee celebrates the 10th anniversary of the disease-battling cooperative game. The full Pandemic range will be supported with in-store demonstrations and a social media campaign that capitalises on the game’s winning blend of tension and teamwork.

The Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG) enjoyed another excellent year with Asmodee in 2017, which saw it named Pocket Money Toy of the Year. Pokémon being honoured reflects an incredible period of sustained success in recent years, and interest in the product shows no signs of waning across 2018. The brand’s impressive results have continued with the February release of the new Sun & Moon – Ultra Prism expansion. This set of over 150 cards is the first to spotlight the recently released Pokémon Ultra Sun and Pokémon Ultra Moon video games and introduces a game-changing new Prism Star mechanic while featuring amazing Pokémon like Solgaleo, Lunala and two different forms of the elusive Necrozma. Support for the Pokémon TCG will continue with the May release of the Sun & Moon – Forbidden Light expansion. The highly anticipated set features eight powerful new Pokémon-GX and five Prism Star cards, as well as the fearsome and coveted Ultra Necrozma. As well as being a games specialist, Asmodee also specialise in supplying many popular collectible lines. Pokémon is just one such brand, with Asmodee’s extensive range also including the likes of SuperZings, Yu-Gi-Oh!, the Final Fantasy Trading Card Game and the newly launched Dragon Ball Super Card Game. Featured product

Pandemic and Rory’s Story Cubes Location: Hampshire

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1:26 PM

Ignite your Mind®










The classic traffic jam logic game! Sales Hotline 01869 363800

From the team that brought you


AW18 Enquiries to: Fiona Fraser-Bell, Accentuate Games Ltd Email: fiona@accentuategames.com

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Games & Puzzles

Jumbo 01707 260436 Puzzles have made a comeback in a big way of late, as more and more adults discover that it’s the perfect way to wind down after a stressful week in the office. The activity around National Puzzle Day also boosted the pastime into the limelight, proving that puzzles have a wider audience than stereotypical assumptions. Jumbo is doubling down on its offering of adult puzzles, building on its double-digit growth in January. The firm is getting ready for the next set of new releases across their popular, starting off with three Wasgij Retro puzzles that include the re-release of the Original Retro 2: Happy Holidays, Destiny Retro 2: The Proposal and Mystery Retro 2: Stop the Clock 1,000-piece puzzles. The firm’s premium puzzle range has also shown strong growth, which the firm will be bolstering with the release of 11 brand new puzzles in April. The new products cover the traditional Falcon themes of Nostalgia, Scenery, Cottages, Animals and Transport, across varying piece counts from 200XL to 1,500 pieces and multiples in a box. 22 new puzzles ranging from festive scenes to countryside landscapes will also be dropping through September. New products to look out for include to look out for include two new 4x1000pc puzzle box sets Seasons in the Garden and Seasons in the Village as well as the festively nostalgic, Falcon de luxe Christmas Shopping 1,000-piece that again includes a

free 1,000-piece puzzle to give both retail and consumers added-value for what is the most popular puzzle theme in the year. The Peter Rabbit license is the new, incredibly popular addition to both Jumbo’s puzzle portfolio. The new licensed range puzzles cover both the styles of the classic Beatrix Potter books and the film that is to be released later this month. Available now in time for Easter is the classic-style 4 Shaped Puzzles, Movie-style 4in1 Puzzle Box Set and a Giant Floor Puzzle for both artwork styles. Coming this June will also be a 500 and 1,000-piece Peter Rabbit Puzzles for older fans of the classic books. In Jumbo’s children’s licensed portfolio, the firm will be releasing puzzles for the popular new Disney Junior shows, Disney Puppy Dog Pals and Disney Vampirina, with a 4 Shaped Puzzles Box and 4in1 Puzzle Pack each. For the releases of the hugely anticipated Pixar sequel that sees the return of the super powered family, Incredibles 2, they will release a 100XL and 200XL Puzzle that perfectly fit the target age group for the animation with the larger pieces and bigger puzzles. Featured product

Peter Rabbit licensed puzzle sets Location: Hatfield

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Gibsons 020 8661 8866 The game and puzzles company Gibsons has launched into 2018 with a new, highly addictive simple to learn game that is sure to keep players of all ages hooked. The game, designed by David Mortimer, urges players to create order out of chaos. Packaged in a smart box that replicates the cube pieces from the game, players are tasked with recreating the pixelated images on the 46 different image cards using the black and white cubes to imitate the clue. The game is pitched at six plus, with several different game types including Solo play and Memory mode. Pixit joins Gibsons already impressive lineup of games including Mind The Gap, Pass the Bomb and the clucking good fun Chicken Out! Card Game. Not to be let, out, Gibsons also offers a wide range of idyllic puzzles, creating such beautiful scenes as classic train lines, a joyful British summer and even a thrilling Spitfire Skirmish, set in a WWII London. Featured product

Pixit Location: Surrey

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Games & Puzzles

Big Potato emily@bigpotato.co.uk

Emily Polglase, Head of Sales

Shoreditch-based games company Big Potato is bringing some extra fun to family holidays with OK Play and Foooty. OK Play was created and designed in-house, and Big Potato partnered up with Foooty to launch in the UK. OK Play is a super-simple, yet challenging tile game that the whole family can play. It’s easy to learn but tricky to win. It’s like an off-road Connect Four but for two to four players and to win you’ve got to sneak a straight or horizontal line of five tiles in a row. There’s no board to stop the game going off in random directions and if you run out of tiles, you get to reposition old ones. For ages five up, it can be played anywhere, with anyone. Plus the toughened plastic tiles and handy carabiner make OK Play ideal for travelling. Foooty is an innovative Dutch toy that was invented by Jean-Pierre Raes, who often found himself on holiday wishing he had brought a football — or after buying one, had to leave it behind to save space. His solution was Foooty, a clever flat-pack toy that can be hooked together to make durable 3D shapes. Working with his own development agency Apollo 11, Jean- Pierre created Foooty and launched it on Kickstarter in 2016. The flexible panels allow you to build a football, frisbee, rugby ball, star, rocket and even a giraffe. It’s easy to assemble and even easier to deconstruct. Plus it’s the perfect size and weight to fit into your pocket or bag when you go on holiday. Foooty is available to purchase in a variety of colours, including red, yellow, blue and - new for 2018 - glow in the dark. There’s also a brand new Foooty stand available for retailers, complete with a built-up Foooty to show consumers what the toy looks like. Featured product

OK Play Location: London

Smart Games 01903 885669

Julia Cake National Accounts Manager

2018 marks the arrival of lots of new lines from Smart Toys & Games. As the worldwide leader in multi-level logic games, the award-winning Smart Games have multi-level challenges from the very easy to the very challenging. 2018’s offering will certainly not disappoint as the collection continues to grow, starting with Asteroid Escape, GoldMine and IQ Stars, these educational games are perfect for both adults and children and are a brilliant solution for all the family. As well as expanding the IQ games collection, new compact games, and the new addition to the popular fairy-tale range Sleeping Beauty, there is another game that cannot to be missed, Squirrels Go Nuts. Promising endless educational fun, this sliding puzzle comes complete with 60 nutty multi-level challenges varying from easy to advanced, all of which will test your skills. The aim of this multi-level logic game is to slide the pieces around the game board so that all the squirrel’s acorns are dropped into the holes and safely stored for winter. Featured product

Asteroid Escape Location: UK

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Games & Puzzles

Accentuate Games 07748 184 525

Rummikub 01480 414 361 The UK’s number one family strategy game is about to get serious as the 10th World Rummikub Championships get underway. In 2018, the iconic family game which has been played by adults and children for over 50 years, is giving ‘Rummikubers’ across the globe the chance to win a once in lifetime trip to compete at the World Rummikub Championships in Jerusalem, Israel. The UK Rummikub Championship, organised by UK distributors John Adams leisure, will take place in June at the UK Games Expo – the biggest Hobby Games Convention in the UK for families and board game enthusiasts. The eventual winner will get the chance to represent Team GB at the World Rummikub Championship in November. The range of games available to consumers is also growing, bringing families and friends together with a variety of versions including Classic, Travel and Prime versions. John Adams also offers exciting new variations to players which include Rummikub Junior, Twist, Xpress and Word. Rummikub boasts a rich heritage in the games space, rising up from humble beginnings to become one of the most popular games in the world.

Sibling inventors, Graeme and Fiona FraserBell, the duo behind guess-the-accent game, Accentuate, are preparing for the launch of their second game – a fast and furious word game with an ingenious scientific twist. FReNeTiC is a new word game that uses element symbols of the Periodic Table. Players race against the clock to form as many words as possible using the Element symbol tiles, and score points equivalent to the atomic numbers of each tile used to create the word. The first player to 1000 points wins. Amazingly there are more than 10,000 words that can be created using combinations of the element symbols of the Periodic Table! With everyone playing simultaneously, the game combines skill, strategy and an element of luck at a frenzied pace. The novel scoring system adds a fun twist to the game, which is suitable for two or more players aged 8+, opening up Accentuate Games Ltd to a younger and wider audience. Coupled with Graeme’s chemistry background, FReNeTiC has undergone an extensive, robust and enthusiastic playtesting regime and was extremely well-received at London Toy Fair when it was unveiled in January this year. The game play has since be honed and will be hitting shelves for Easter, just six months after its inception. To support the launch, Accentuate Games will be attending UK Games Expo 2018 in June for the first time to showcase the game and will be rolling out FReNeTiC challenges nationwide. Featured product

FReNeTiC Location: UK

Featured product

Rummikub Classic Location: Huntingdon

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Games & Puzzles

University Games +44 3334050120 University Games is launching into the Summer season with Ultra Dash, the super active family game that will be the firm’s first 2018 release. Suitable for ages six and upwards, this challenging game will have the whole family up and about, having energetic fun. Suitable for both indoor and outdoor play, to set up the course, players simply lay out the five coloured targets wherever they choose and select one of three games, beat the clock, target tally or relay race on the tagger. The race is then on to match the colour of the flashes on the tagger, with the targets. The tagger detects targets, scores on accuracy, and game play cues are all visual and audible – perfect for solo gamers as well as those with a competitive streak. For the younger folk, Jitter Bug is a fun and amusing game that sees players attaching coloured legs on the jittering bug. Quick thinking, fast paced Smart Ass is another focus, a top seller for many years, with more than 2.5 million copies sold worldwide the family favourite makes a grand entrance with a complete rebrand, new questions and four different versions including the original board game, the original card game as well as two special edition card games, 90s Nostalgia and Geek Chic. Finally, the new game Fishing for Words brings the fun of fishing for families, friends and youngsters to enjoy. Featured product

Ultra Dash Location: Buckinghamshire

Paul Lamond 020 7254 0100 Games and puzzles specialist, Paul Lamond, has launched an abundance of exciting new products at the early-year trade shows to a fantastic reception that are already available for retailers are a plethora of games and puzzles for the whole family. An exciting early-year launch is Kersplatt! the hilarious, fast-paced, family board game of modelling mayhem. A high energy, tactile but strategic board game that will see players Kersplatting opponent’s masterpieces in an attempt to be the first to get two pieces home. 2018 will not only see the release of the 100th edition of Now That’s What I Call Music, but also the launch of new, travel-size Now That’s What I Call Music Card Game. Following the highly successful launch of The World of David Walliams’ 250 piece puzzles last autumn is card game, Flush out the Rat, based on the author’s best-selling children’s novel; Ratburger. Calling all super sleuths is the new trilogy of Murder Mystery 1,000-piece Puzzles featuring the Titanic, Sherlock Homes and Alfred Hitchcock, are much more than just jigsaws. Read the story included, assemble the puzzle to discover the hidden clues; and finally, unleash the detective within to solve the crime. The Hanayama Brain Teaser Puzzles, renowned for their quality and difficulty, are set to challenge even the most proficient of puzzlers. The range of six cast metal puzzles are aimed at ages 12 and over and include the Enigma, the Vortex and the Labyrinth. Featured product

Kersplatt! Location: London 64 | toy news | April 2018

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for summer!


Play anyone, anywhere

Ftba in your pocket

• 5-in-a-row tile game • 2-4 players • Portable

• Flat-packed • Build into a variety of shapes


PoTaTo To find out more about stocking OK Play or Foooty, please contact emily@bigpotato.co.uk

Untitled-1 1


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Games & Puzzles

Who's Bluffing +44 7527 310 180 A brand new educational card game is hitting the market in 2018, in the form of innovative new product, Who’s Bluffing. The new card game is the first and only educational card game where players can bluff, laugh their heart out as well as enhance their general knowledge. The game can be played by adults and kids (from nine years onwards) alike and promises a great way to bind family and friends together. Who’s Bluffing gaming cards feature data and maps of different European countries, cities, and towns. The rules of the game are simple and easy to understand. The playing group will select a Ruler Card, say “Italy.” Now, each player will be allocated five cards. Players have to ensure their cards (e.g. town) somehow relate to the specified Ruler Card. They are lucky if they have got related cards but otherwise, they can pick another card from the deck or spice things up and ‘bluff’ the other players. Whoever gets rid of all their cards first, wins. There are currently three versions of the game available including: English cities and towns, US cities and towns, and European cities and towns. Featured product

Who’s Bluffing Location: London

Thames & Kosmos 01580 212 000 Since 2001, Thames & Kosmos has been developing games and science kits for children around the world and thanks to this legacy, it is now highly regarded by parents, teachers and members of the toy and educational products industries. 2018 sees an array of new launches set to spice up the games space. Drop It is a tense strategy game where players choose shapes and drop them into the Drop Zone. If the shape doesn’t break any landing rules, the players earn points based on the height at which it lands and if it touches bonus circles. The player with the most points wins. The rulebook also includes variant rules for simpler play (to bring younger players into the fray) or more variety from game to game. Further signalling the increasing popularity of the ‘exit room’ trend in the UK, Thames & Kosmos UK is adding four more games to its EXIT: The Game range. These include The Sunken Treasure, The Orient Express, The Museum and The Sinister Mansion. In each EXIT Game, the team starts out locked in a room and together players must solve a series of riddles and puzzles in order to unlock doors and reveal new riddles. Each correct solution brings players to another riddle and eventually to freedom. The clock is ticking and players must solve all of the puzzles as fast as possible – the faster the team escapes the room and the fewer hints they use on the way, the more points they earn. Featured product

Drop It Location: Kent

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Ravensburger 01869363800 In 2018, Ravensburger is combining the thrill of construction, puzzles and games into one original product, Gravitrax. With a strong focus on the STEM category, C Gravitrax has enjoyed a sell-out performance M across Germany in 2017, with the UK’s July Y launch promising a fully integrated, cross-platCM form marketing plan, culminating with a high-impact TV campaign in the autumn. MY The Starter Set includes over 100 compo- CY nents – plenty to build different and exciting CMY track layouts. Build even more complex and K impressive layouts with one or more of the add-on sets – extra Track, a Building Pack, a Catapult, Hammer, Loops and a Magnetic Cannon. Products will be available to ship at the start of July. The freedom offered by Gravitrax takes the concept of puzzling to the next level with unbridled creativity for ages eight and up.





Featured product

Gravitrax Location: Bicester


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Games & Puzzles

Hasbro 01633 278 770 Hasbro is continuing to expand its gaming fare with some effortlessly fun new products in 2018, including Don’t Step In It, a game in which players place mounds of brown compound on the game mat, then take turns spinning the spinner to find out how many steps to take across the mat while blindfolded. The player to make it to the end of the mat while stepping in the fewest poops, wins. Also sure to provide the laughs is Chow Crown, the ultimate snack eating competition. The player who catches the most spinning snacks before the music stops wins. Classic favourites for kids and adults alike sees the arrival of Pie Face Cannon, which allows opponents to take aim and launch whipped cream from the cannon as the player behind the mask attempts to block it. Speak Out Showdown takes the viral sensation to the next level, as players simultaneously try to guess more correct phrases than their opponents, but the game’s electronic interrupter unit randomly determines when a player can speak…or not.

For the older players, Speech Breaker challenges teammates to guess what each other is saying whilst the microphone jams their speech with a built-in delay. Don’t Lose Your Cool tests each player’s ability to stay calm under pressure. They wear the Cool-O-Meter that measures their heart rate as the opposing team determines how they’ll try to get that player flustered. Also hitting shelves is Pay Day which tests how long players can make their money last through a busy month by earning cash, finding bargains, and selling items for a profit. Being the player with the most cash in the end to win the game. Meanwhile, a wildly different Monopoly game is sure to be the new favourite go-to for game nights, with Monopoly: Cheaters Edition leaning into the iconic Monopoly moments in which players are permitted to bend the rules and “cheat to win.” This new spin on the classic game is sure to bring new dimensions to the Monopoly formula for all the family to enjoy. Featured product

Monopoly Cheaters Location: London

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Games & Puzzles

Vivid 01702 200 660

Vivid is springing into the games space with a variety of products aiming to entice youngsters and families with original and playful concepts. In Foxy Pants, a greedy fox is snapping up the chickens and stuffing them into his pockets. But when there are too many chickens, his pants will fall down and the chickens will escape. Rescue the chickens and return them to your chicken coop. Can you catch the fox? The game is for up to four players with TV advertised for AW18. Jumping into the escape room trend, Vivid will also be launching Escape Room The Game. Feel the thrill and enjoy the mystery of an escape game in your home with four different game types. In the licensed sector, Vivid is proud to present the new Nella The Princess Knight Race to Polkadot Mountain Game, which is sure to grab the attention of Nella fans everywhere. Launching in Autumn, families can race along the path to return the Polkadottie Dragon Baby to its mum, avoiding obstacles along the way.

Also on the way is Wally the Washer, a game which makes the act of washing clothes exciting and fun, alongside Word Bandit, the head-spinning word-spotting game where teams take it in turns to take on the one-armed bandit to find tricky words, names, celebrities and more. Finally, Super Ski Jump is the ultimate trick challenge. Earn points by jumping the farthest, doing tricks and sticking the landing as you tackle the toughest slope of them all. Pick your player, take to the ramp and get ready to go. It’s all in the timing, get it just right to nail the jump and win the game. TV advertised for AW18, this product is sure to catch the attention of audiences across the nation. All of Vivid’s new titles will be supported by TV advertising in Autumn and Winter, and are sure to further cement the brand’s place as a major player in the games and puzzles space. Featured product

Escape Room The Game Location: Essex

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Industry moves A whole host of new hires are springing up throughout the industry to mark the arrival of Spring including new marketing boss at pop-culture behemoth Funko. Elsewhere, Mattel has a management shift and Posh Paws MD departs

Funko Pop-culture collectables giant Funko has announced the appointment of a new chief marketing officer and SVP in the form of MOLLY HARTNEY. Hartney will be responsible for optimising the company’s marketing and digital presence, building brand strength and driving sales through all channels as it continues its efforts to grow and scale alongside the collables sector. “Molly will play a pivotal role in leading the development of Funko’s brand strategy across all consumer touch points and we are thrilled to welcome her to the team,” said BRIAN MARIOTTI, CEO of Funko. Hartney brings 12 years of marketing and leadership experience to Funko, having most recently served as VP of marketing at The Mine. “Funko sits at the epicentre of pop culture and this is an exciting time in the company’s history to come aboard,” added Hartney.

Mattel Mattel has confirmed a management shift within the business as chief brands officer JULIANA CHUGG steps down. Chugg will remain in the company, as an advisor to CEO MARGO GEORGIADIS will now assume greater control over the Mattel’s top brands. Chugg joined Mattel in 2015 from General Mills Inc., where she ran its meals division with brands like Betty Crocker. “This structure will better enable us to build on power brand momentum, while putting the necessary resources behind key growth initiatives,” spokesman ALEX CLARK said in a statement. Georgiadas and chief operating officer, RICHARD DICKSON will now take on the Hot Wheels, Barbie and more, which the divisions for each of these brands reporting directly to them. Topps The confectionary, sports cards and entertainment specialist has seen a shakeup as it has combined its sports and entertainment divisions into one Global Sports and Entertainment house. The merge sees DAVID LEINER, the general manager of North American Sports and Entertainment now appointed global general manager of the new division. Leiner will be responsible for leading and directing its strategy and operations.

“We are creating one global sports and entertainment division to allow us to serve our partners more efficiently as they compete globally and to address consumer demand from an increasingly global marketplace,” said MICHAEL BRANDSTAEDTER, president and CEO of Topps. CHRIS RODMAN, who has led the international sports and entertainment division for more than two decades will remain involved with the business as a consultant. LIMA The Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association has announced the appointment of MAURA REGAN, who will head up the organisation as president from July 1st. She succeeds CHARLES RIOTTO, who is retiring after a 21-year career with the organisation. “Maura is a respected and influential member of the global licensing community who, has already brought an incredible strategic vision to our interests,” said Riotto. Posh Paws UK plush toys manufacturer Posh Paws has announced the departure of managing director DAVID MARTIN with immediate effect. Owner of Posh Paws and Whitehouse Leisure, PHIL SETTER confirmed the role will be covered by the existing management team until a replacement is appointed. Martin has been in the role for eight months.

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Team of the month

JAZWARES Home of 2017’s breakthrough mega-hit, Fingerlings, Jazwares is one of the hottest firms in the toy biz. With a slate packed with new updates to their blockbuster brands, 2018 is set to be a big year. We caught up with the team to find out what’s next Who’s in the team? Jonny Taylor (MD UK & Nordics), Sam Ferguson (VP Global Licensing), Lauren Delord (senior marketing manager), Adrian Carney (senior national account manager), James Bents (national account manager), Hayley Powell (operations manager), Jessica Wang (senior merchandiser), Sharde Passos ( junior brand manager), and Stuart May (operations coordinator).

What are you most looking forward to in 2018? We’re launching a new brand under the Fingerlings umbrella and later this summer we have the toy range launching for Sony Pictures animation, Hotel Transylvania. 2018 will be a year of growth for us in the UK in terms of number of products, retail footprint and personnel. 

What have been your biggest successes of 2017? In the girls’ space, Fingerlings was a massive hit last year and we have a huge fan base of kids collecting the adorable monkeys across the UK and beyond. Jazwares has always been in the gaming space and last year we launched a range of collectables for the hugely popular online video game Roblox, which we are excited to continue into 2018.

What’s the best part of working in the toys and games industry? It’s a fun and ever-changing industry. We’re all big kids at heart and we always get excited when new samples arrive in the office.  

What’s the biggest challenge? Having properties that are current and popular – which we are lucky enough to have – there’s an ongoing need to stay on trend and react to

"It’s a fun and everchanging industry. We’re all big kids at heart and we always get excited when new samples arrive in the office."

Lauren Delord, Jazwares

upcoming popular crazes. With trends moving so fast in the internet age this can often be a big challenge but it's also part of the fun. We're really excited to see what trends take the industry by storm in 2018. As I'm sure almost everyone in the industry already knows, predicting the trends before they happen is even harder.

Who would survive if you were stuck on a desert island? Adrian would definitely struggle to survive if there wasn’t the option of a duck wrap or a Tesco's Finest meal deal for lunch!

Who would be the first to couple off? Don’t quote us, but Sam and Jonny definitely formed a deep bromance after their first trip to Hong Kong for the Toy Fair in 2016. We could picture them building a little tree-house together and being quite content.

Who would be the lone survivor? It would have to be Sam Ferguson, he’s practically training for it already with his morning crossfit sessions.

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TOO MANY BRICKS IN THE WALL Last month LEGO reported their first profit decrease in 13 years, much to the shock of the industry at large. But just why did LEGO struggle in 2017?


FOLLOW US ON Twitter.com/ToyNewsOnline Facebook.com/toynews EDITORIAL Editor: Robert Hutchins rhutchins@nbmedia.com • +44 (0)207 354 6017 Senior Staff Writer: Jack Ridsdale jridsdale@nbmedia.com • +44 (0)207 354 6017 Content Director: James McKeown jmckeown@nbmedia.com • +44 (0)207 354 6015 Designer: Mandie Johnson mjohnson@nbmedia.com • +44 (0)207 354 6030 Digital Director: Diane Oliver doliver@nbmedia.com • +44 (0)207 354 6019 Production Executive: James Marinos jmarinos@nbmedia.com • +44 (0)203 889 4907 Managing Director: Mark Burton mburton@nbmedia.com • +44 (0)207 354 6007 ADVERTISING SALES Sales Manager: Jodie Holdway jholdway@nbmedia.com SUBSCRIBER CUSTOMER SERVICE To subscribe, change your address, or check on your current account status, go to www.toynews-online.com/subscribe-tonewsletters-digital-editions faqs or email subs@toynews.com ARCHIVES Digital editions of the magazine are available to view on ISSUU.com. Recent back issues of the printed edition may be available please contact lwilkie@nbmedia.com for more information.


ith a history that dates back almost 80 years, LEGO has truly earned its place as a toy industry stalwart. Twice in the company’s history they have earned the title of ‘Toy of the Century’ building on the endless possibilities that the LEGO brick offers. However in 2017, the company reported its first loss in 13 years, a result which rocked the industry. One of the main reasons the firm cited for the disappointing result, was, incredibly, too many bricks produced. Now before you start imagining a dystopian wasteland in which our own abodes must be constructed from the colourful bricks, just know that this is simply an excess stock issue for which LEGO is engaging in a ‘clean up of inventories.’ Many reason that the reason the world’s most popular construction toy has suffered a drop in sales was an overestimation for the demand for licensed LEGO sets. Its true that 2017 was a year that the firm went all out on its cross-media efforts, dropping not one but two LEGO movies in the form of LEGO Batman and LEGO Ninjago. The latter flopped, and soon after the firm’s big video game project LEGO Dimensions closed.


Perhaps the best bet for the firm would be to get back to what made LEGO so desirable in the first place- creativity. CEO Jorgen Knudstrop said that the firm had pressed “the reset button” for the group with the aim of building “a smaller and less complex organisation”, meaning that more simple and cleaner approach to their business could be the next step to streamlining sales. Perhaps its time for the top dogs at LEGO to throw out the instruction booklet and change the way they think about the brand. As the runaway success of free-form video games like Minecraft have proved, kids still yearn for a creatively free recreational experience. For some the collectability of LEGO’s pop-culture inspired sets has made the brand more cynical and distracted from the imagination that always made the brand attractive. Ironically, this is the very ideological dilemma presented in the excellent 2014 film The LEGO Movie. Will Ferrell’s collector became obsessed with creating the perfect construction but learned that the ultimate pleasure was the destruction of his creations giving way for him to rebuild in unique ways. Herein lies the core appeal of LEGO and possibly, its pathway back to the top spot.

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Managing Director, Mark Burton Financial Controller, Ranjit Dhadwal Events and Marketing Director, Caroline Hicks Head of Operations, Stuart Moody HR Director, Lianne Davey Audience Development, Lucy Wilkie Printed by Pensord Press Ltd, NP12 2YA ISSN number 0269-4735 (print) © NewBay 2018

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May Show

Toymaster would like to invite all Independent Toy and Model Retailers, both in the UK and Ireland, to attend the 2018Â May Show. Over 100 Suppliers will be in attendance at the Majestic Hotel, Harrogate, on the 15th - 17th May and we hope you are able to join us in making the most of the opportunities offered. For more details and to register online please use the following link: www.toymaster.co.uk/may-show-registration Phone: 01604 674477 Email: kirstine.weston@toymaster.co.uk

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Toynews April 2018 digital edition  

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