Page 1


November 2017

5-in-1 Stroll & Grow Trike


Stroller (9+ months)

Electronic Activity Panel


2 3 4 Trike (18 months - 3 years)

Training Trike (12-18 months)



Drift Trike (3-5 years)

01 ToyNews Cover - spine_NOVv1.indd 1

10/10/17 16:41

Advert Placement.indd 1

10/23/17 11:56


Welcome W

November 2017

5-in-1 Stroll & Grow Trike


Stroller (9+ months)

Electronic Activity Panel


2 3 4

Training Trike (12-18 months)

Trike (18 months - 3 years)



Drift Trike (3-5 years)

01 ToyNews Cover - spine_NOVv1.indd 1

10/10/17 16:41

No. 189 | November 2017

Toys-to-life support

Editor Robert Hutchins


Senior Staff Writer Jack Ridsdale Sales Manager Jodie Holdway Production Executive James Marinos Designer Nikki Hargreaves Managing Director Mark Burton

Follow us @toynews online

mid the clamour of the ongoing Toys R Us strife, perhaps LEGO thought that news of its decision to pull its toys-tolife arm, LEGO Dimensions would slip under the radar. How wrong they have been. Word that Warner Bros Interactive and TT Games were discontinuing the gaming franchise one year ahead of time has certainly led to the question: what sort of future does the toys-to-life market have now? Disney Infinity fell into oblivion and Activision's Skylanders is on hiatus, leaving only TOMY's Lightseekers and Ubisoft's Starlink to pick up the pieces in the tech field's next iteration, Connected Play. No doubt the retailers that ducked the onslaught of toys-to-life launches the first time around are approaching this new breed of tech-play with an ever-more increased sense of cautiousness, and who on earth can blame them? Particularly when the collectables market seems so infallible right now. Having amassed a slew of blockbuster movies and video-gaming franchises, could LEGO be guilty of losing sight of its most basic but biggest strength: the little plastic brick in place of big licences? Today's collectables appear to have turned the LEGO model on its head, building franchises and becoming the must-have IP themselves. As we explore within these very pages, could this then be a new dawn for toys' place within the licensing space? Only time will tell. Robert Hutchins, Editor

November 2017 | toy news | 3

03 TN189 Ed Leader_FINAL.indd 5

10/25/17 16:46

Featuring: Golden Bear Products, Brainstorm, Funrise, Micro Scooters, Dracco, Big Potato Games, Casdon & many more ...

Advert Placement.indd 1

10/23/17 11:55


Contents November 2017 Features


COVER STORY: CALLING SCREEN TIME With childhood obesity on the rise, we explore the role of the toy industry in battling the crisis.


INTERVIEW: ISAAC LARIAN LOL Surprise is the collectable of the moment. We talk to MGA's CEO about the line's success.


FEATURE: A COLLECTABLE FRANCHISE More and more, toy makers are skipping TV and diving straight into franchise territory.


INTERVIEW: TOY FAIR TV We speak to Toy Fair TV's Gavin Inskip and Anna Williamson.

05 TN189 Contents_v1.indd 3

Regulars Opinion 06 Jack Ridsdale 07 Hayley Ferguson 08 Brynley Gibson Market Data 26 Generation Media 27 Campaign of the Month 28 Euromonitor Product Guide 32 Outdoor toys 38 Pre-school toys Back pages 56 People 57 Team of the Month 58 Final word

November 2017 | toy news | 5

10/25/17 16:51


Parallel Worlds: How did LEGO Dimensions come crashing down? by Jack Ridsdale

While popularised in my life by the superb sci-fi video game Bioshock Infinite, the multiverse theory was actually first devised in 1952 by Erwin Schrödinger, the Austrian physicist who’s fame would soon be eclipsed by none other than his own cat. The theory states that the world as we know it is only one of an infinite number of realities that exist in parallel, where every scientific possibility plays out simultaneously. It’s the kind of heady science fiction idea that is prime fodder for game franchises, which is where we get to LEGO Dimensions. Undoutably there are a few developers at TT Games thinking wistfully of an alternate universe right now as Warner Bros. has officially canned the almost popular toys-to-life game platform. There are a myriad of reasons one could attribute to the game’s closure. Warner Brothers was late to the party with Dimensions. Launching in 2015, it was some four years after Skylander’s debut which popularised the genre and a year after Disney’s equally ill-fated Disney Infinity. It was always going to be a tough ride, Dimensions was already on the back foot, tasked with building a fanbase in a genre that was already starting to look over-crowded.

It was undoudetbly the quality associated with the LEGO brand that helped the project gain a foothold in the market, however it was this dedication to quality that may have ended up leading to Dimension’s downfall. In order for the minifigures compatible with the game to fall in line with LEGO’s other output, production costs were high, which meant that the less popular sets would end up dragging down profit margins as they succumbed to discounting. Perhaps in another dimension Warner Brothers decided to produce lower-quality figures, for the game and the audience was willing to accept this change for the sake of a more innovative in-game experience. So with black holes swallowing up all of the top toys to life franchises, will game developers have to break the fabric of time and space to make their toys to life projects a reality? Perhaps these large franchises were simply too big to fit within this fairly niche subgenre? Smaller projects like Beast of Balance have had no problem finding an audience, and despite the negavitiy surrounding it, Ubisoft’s Starlink may yet be a success. You don’t have to be Einstein to understand that the current business model of toys to life is dead, but somewhere in the multiverse it is alive, well and adapting to the time. Alternatively, if we adopt Schrödinger's stance, we could just ignore the damn box and live blissfully unaware of the fate of this cat.

Dimensions was always on the back foot in a crowded market. Jack Ridsdale is senior staff writer at ToyNews. He has broken records for the amount of time spent in his room, slamming away at buttons, all while enjoying videogames too.

6 | toy news | November 2017

06 TN189 Opinion_FINAL.indd 6

10/25/17 17:14


Balancing act: How balance bikes are changing the children’s cycling sector By Hayley Ferguson

When we were kids, learning to confidently ride a bike was an ordeal – a veritable rite of passage for any youngster. Like me, you probably started out on a tricycle (with or without the tassles), moving up to a two-wheeler fitted with stabilisers. Parents could spend entire summer evenings focusing on grown-up things, while children moseyed back and forth on their bikes in no immediate danger of capsizing and gaining themselves a faceful of gravel. Stabilisers could be transplanted onto increasingly large cycles, until a parent made the time to teach the child to ride without them. Looking back at it, I am ready to admit to my own parents that was all a bit of a faff. Neither were particualrly handy with a spanner and I was left rattling around on a set of precariously loose four wheels. So what if I was to tell you that parents have been teaching their children to ride bikes incorrectly for decades? According to a number of experts, while stabilisers do help kids get a feel for pedalling the bike, when you take them off, a child hasn’t got any natural sense of how the bike works at all. Short of attempting to pour petrol into the bloody thing, I was certainly non-the-wiser.

It’s all down to the way you lean, you see. If you want to go left, you lean left. If you want to steer right…well, you should all know what to do by now… However, stabilisers will force a child to lean right while turning left. Now that’s confusing. Cycle education has actually progressed from stabilisers. Kids are now learning to ride two-wheelers much earlier and it’s all thanks to the emergence of balance bikes. A balance bike is a lightweight bike with no pedals, no drivetrain and a lowered seat. They’re not hard to DIY, but the demand for purpose built balance bikes is certainly growing. Actually, these are hardly a revolutionary invention, even the dandy horse of 1818 predates the pedal bikes we know today. Contemporary balance bikes, however, are optimised to help kids learn to ride from the time that they can walk. The beauty of balance bikes is that children are able to teach themselves to ride over time, saving them a certain degree of trauma and saving their parents summer holidays treating grazed elbows, bloodied noses and worst of all, bruised egos. As independent retailers, diversifying your range is key to high street survival and bikes play a crucial role in product portfolios aimed at children. If you’re already stocking stabilisers or even trikes, but not balance bikes, you could be missing out on a very lucrative opportunity. They are transforming the way children learn and you really want to be part of that.

Parents have been teaching kids to ride incorrectly for decades. Hayley Ferguson the editor of leading UK bike trade title, BikeBiz. She has mastered both balancing and cycling to a level of competency that has exceeded even her own expectations.

November 2017 | toy news | 7

07 TN189 Opinion_FINAL.indd 6

10/25/17 10:39

BTHA Briefing

Toying with reality: What new VR and AR experiences means for the industry by Brynley Gibson

You only need to flick through the multitude of kids’ TV channels to see how much money the toy industry spends advertising its products. Whether for the toys themselves or the stores that sell them, the captive and highly-targeted audience kids' TV provides is not in doubt. But the last ten years has also seen a seismic shift in the viewing habits of both children and their parents, away from ‘appointment TV’ and towards on-demand content, streamed TVs, tablets, phones and laptops. Enough has already been written about this trend, and it’s clear from the evidence in our daily lives that we live in a very fragmented media landscape in terms of consumption. Marketing strategies have evolved to account for these changes, of course, such as the use of influencers to promote product. However, we are now seeing the mainstream emergence of two technologies that can be experienced on all these devices – Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. A single term that covers these both plus the tricky merged space of MR (mixed reality) is XR. We’re already seeing the emergence of this tech in toys – there’s a whole host of products that have XR at their core, or more commonly, as part of a companion experience through apps.

It stands to reason that the toy industry is looking at the marketing opportunities afforded by AR and VR too. Here at Kuju, we teamed up with long-time Nickelodeon partner Ralph Creative earlier this year with the aim of offering brands a one-stop-shop for creating XR experiences – across any platform. There’s a huge opportunity for the toy industry to ride the experiential wave too, with the help of XR. And it seems that we’re not the only ones – the recent news that Toys R Us has rolled out its AI app across the US as part of a strategy to increase footfall is hugely exciting. And significant. Other retailers are already thinking in the same terms. It’s only a short leap from there to manufacturers offering AI-enhanced experiences of their products in-store, before the point of purchase. This is because the tools for consuming AR and VR content are finding their way into the public’s hands at an ever-increasing rate – Apple is making a huge AR play with the support of their AR kit middleware and Google is pouring significant investment into its Android VR and AR offerings. Experiential approaches to toy marketing and retail are not new, with real world activations such as stores devoted to a product or brand allowing kids and parents to get ‘hands on.’ But layering AR and VR on to those experiences provides deeper immersion and interactivity, this is going to be a game-changer.

It's now time for the industry to ride the MR experiential wave Brynley Gibson is head of solutions at Kuju, a leading developer of AR and VR experiences for games and brands. Find out more at

8 | toy news | November 2017

08 TN189 Opinion_FINAL.indd 6

10/24/17 10:14


Welcome to the jungle: Who will win the battle between Amazon and Argos? By Molly Johnson Jones

The future of toy retailing will look very different to how it does today. The toy market is shifting towards online as digital retailers outdo their storebased competitors on range, price, service and convenience. Brick and mortar retailers will have to differentiate themselves through creating an immersive experience for children. If they don’t, space closures will be inevitable as stores become less and less relevant. The online market will account for 20.4 per cent of total retail spend in 2022, but toys represent one of the strongest performing categories. Online will contribute 84.1 per cent of the total toys and games market growth for 2017 to 2022. The reason for this exceptionally strong growth is due to the consumer desire for range and price transparency. As the majority of toys are branded and the same ones are offered in multiple retailers, the consumer wants to compare prices on identical products, which is quick and easy online. Additionally, as toy range has grown, it has become more difficult for store retailers to stock a true range of must-haves. Online retailers are less restrained, making them a more desirable shopping destination.

The growth in toys will largely be driven by Amazon and Argos as they extend their online toy ranges and undercut the brick and mortar retailers on price. Amazon is cheaper on all of the must-have toys for Christmas this year, beating Argos who undercut its competitors last year in a bid to gain market share. Shopper loyalty is highest at Amazon and second is Argos, which has contributed to its market share growth during a period of decreasing shopper loyalty. Amazon will overtake Argos by 2020 to be the leading toy retailer, and this will rise to 13.3 per cent in 2022. Argos will hold 11 per cent market share, falling from 12 per cent in 2017. This online growth will challenge the brick and mortar retailers, as we have already seen with Toys R Us’ poor performance and the need to differentiate will become more pertinent. Stores such as Hamley’s which focus on providing an exciting shopping experience will enjoy growth from the trend of consumers looking for experience shopping as well as practicality. Inevitably, there will be space closure as online grow 6.6 ppt from 2017 to take 43.4 per cent of the toys and games market. Toys R Us is the most likely victim, offering acquisition potential for those retailers looking to compete in range and price with the online giants, while they simultaneously seek to become a destination for children to play in, something which Amazon and Argos cannot do.

Online will account for 20.4 per cent of retail spend by 2022 Molly Johnson-Jones is the senior retail analyst at GlobalData, one of the largest data and insights solutions providers in the world. Johnson-Jones holds a first class degree in Geography from Jesus College, Oxford.

November 2017 | toy news | 9

09 TN189 Opinion_FINAL.indd 6

10/23/17 11:45

Big interview

10 | toy news | November 2017

10-13 TN189 Big Interview_vFINAL.indd 12

10/23/17 11:46

Big interview


PLAY BOY From social media outbursts to doubling business turnover with the launch of this year’s craze, LOL Surprise; ToyNews talks to Isaac Larian, the man leading MGA Entertainment into the future


oathe his brash, outspoken attitude towards the toy trade or love his refreshing honesty and transparency through social media channels, one thing you can’t do is ignore Isaac Larian. For those on the receiving end of his barbed ‘truth bombs’ that have been splashed across LinkedIn over the last few months, the MGA Entertainment CEO has been the migraine among some of the world’s biggest toy companies, that no amount of aspirin will rid. Having undertaken the mission to unmask some of the industry’s less desirable activities at a time of upheaval among some of the biggest names, it would appear that Larian – quite literally the billion dollar play boy – and his recent vocalisation begs the question: is he the hero that the industry deserves, but not the hero it needs right now? We can’t answer that. But let there be no doubt that with great power – heading up the largest private toymaker in the US that took an estimated $820 million last year, for instance – comes great eccentricity. With an 82 per cent share of the company worth an estimated

$1.1billion, Larian can afford to take liberties. And those liberties make for spectacular reading. An enigma of the industry, it’s difficult to work out whether Larian’s comments are ones to be taken with a pinch of salt, or a spoonful of sugar.

We are growing 180 per cent this year on top of the high double-digit growth we saw last year Isaac Larian, MGA Having called out LEGO via social media, appealing to the 1400 employees now in search of new jobs to apply for roles with MGA Entertainment, you’d be forgiven for thinking of Larian as the industry’s biggest troublemaker. It’s either that, or he is one genius marketer. Whatever side of the sword you fall on, it can’t be denied that whatever Larian is doing and saying right now, it is working. “We are growing 180 per cent this year, and that’s on top of the high double-digit growth we saw last year,” Larian tells ToyNews.

November 2017 | toy news | 11

10-13 TN189 Big Interview_vFINAL.indd 13

10/23/17 11:46

Big interview

In the early 2000s it was Bratz that put MGA Entertainment on an upward trajectory. One hiccup, a dusting-off and a re-evaluation later, it is on the crest of the collectables wave that the toymaker is now heading into 2018. The product that has stolen headlines across the globe this year is of course LOL Surprise - a range that, tapping into both the current collectables and the unboxing phenomenon, sold 2.5 million units by April this year, just five months after its launch. “This year has been just incredible. LOL Surprise is by far the runaway toy of the year,” continues Larian, who has also seen the launch of Awesome Little Green Men, a line aimed at the boys market and the continued success of Num Noms. “I am very proud of our team who has created at least eight brands from scratch to $100 million plus, but nothing like LOL Surprise. LOL Surprise Big Surprise was launched on September 29th and was an instant sell out worldwide. “We are now scrambling and airfreighting goods to meet some of the demand, but for sure, we won’t be able to meet the whole demand.” Such is the success of the range that Larian now expects to see the MGA Entertainment business double by the time 2018 rolls around, citing newness and

innovation as the primary drivers of the business' growth. It can’t be denied that the firm has certainly struck a huge chord among the zeitgeist of children’s entertainment. Not only has LOL Surprise tapped firmly into this year’s collectable craze, but has taken the idea of the blind bag to new levels with a product that allows children to become the stars of their own unboxing experience.

Our team has created at least eight brands from scratch to $100 million plus, but nothing like LOL Isaac Larian In fact, it was this approach that became the focal point for the most recent launch under the LOL Surprise umbrella, with the launch of LOL Surprise Big Surprise and the introduction of Unboxing Video Booths to 15 cities across the world, including London. The concept was an extension of the marketing programme that has so successfully launched the LOL Surprise brand to global fame, one that opted for the high impact of online influencers and the new fleet of YouTube creators over traditional TV advertising.

Was it a shock tactic of Larian to deny the product launch the typical support of TV advertising investment? Perhaps, but a savvy one all the same. With TV investment amounting to zero, Larian is the kind of man that where others tread lightly over eggshells, the MGAE CEO brings a bulldozer. It was in a recent interview with a US trade title that Larian was cited as saying that “there was a time in the industry where you just made a commercial for the toy and put it on TV… that trend is completely over.” For Larian, the momentum of how a product is marketed has changed, going on to say in the matter-of-fact way we have only come to expect of him that, ‘the days of TV advertising for toys are over. They’re coming to an end, fast.” For Larian, Facebook and YouTube offer the greatest audience reach while some of the largest children’s networks and broadcasters can only look on as they too fall victim to his series of outlandish social media posts. Is he on to something? You don’t become one of the industry’s wealthiest CEOs by luck alone. Surely it takes foresight and the ability to spot future trends ahead of the competition? No matter how many people you rub up the wrong way in the process.

12 | toy news | November 2017

10-13 TN189 Big Interview_vFINAL.indd 14

10/23/17 11:46

Big interview

And it would appear that Larian is not short of ideas. Already, the firm has plenty of big plans for the LOL Surprise franchise, having recently appointed UK licensing agent The Point. 1888 to represent the brand here in the UK, and presenting the franchise at last month’s Brand Licensing Europe show in the capital. “Licensing is an important part of our strategy and marketing,” Larian explains to ToyNews. “We see licensing as the roots of the brand tree that keeps it together and grows the brand.” Whether the brand will hit the same high notes as other success stories – the likes of Moose Toys’ Shopkins, for instance – remains to be seen. However, with apparel, accessories, stationery, party goods, publishing, games and sporting goods already lined up for US release in spring 2018, the foundations have been set. With such hype around the launch over recent months, it’s easy to get carried with LOL Surprise, but it isn’t the only weapon in the armoury. Let us not forget that Little Tikes continues to be a top five brand year after year, while sales of Num Noms, according to the CEO, are up 200 per cent. Both are industry leading brands in their own right. “Licensees need these kind of hot properties to thrive,” says Larian. “My

advice to them: ‘Don’t be fashionably late to this party.’” For those that have been following Larian’s recent online outpourings, you’ll be quick to realise that not only is he a man of foresight but one of contradiction. The plight of the retail giant, Toys R Us has not escaped anyone’s attention in recent weeks; crippled by mounting debts that saw it file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. While the news threw the industry into disarray, MGA Entertainment was among the handful of global toymakers to leap to the retailer’s aid stating that ‘without Toys R Us, there is no toy business.’

If a retailer figures out how to wow and entertain a child in store, they will win over ecommerce every time Isaac Larian

Heartfelt and to many ends, true, the statement seems to jar somewhat with Larian’s overall approach to staunch traditionalists. After all, this is the man that has championed Facebook over Nickelodeon as a means to reach his audience.

Does it make sense that he would rush to the aid of an ailing brick and mortar retailer? “For sure ecommerce is changing the way we all shop,” he says. “But for toys, if a retailer figures out how to wow and entertain a child in store, they will win over ecommerce every time. “Toys R Us was burdened by loans with high interest rates that straddled it. I have full confidence in management of Toys R Us to come out stronger from this chapter and flourish for years to come. There is no toy business without Toys R Us.” Perhaps it’s here that we see the mask begin to slip and the enigma that is Isaac Larian, billionaire CEO of MGA Entertainment reveal himself for what he really is: a big kid at heart with a passion for toys. With his words he is playful, insightful and unafraid to speak his mind; a refreshing sense of innocence in a corporate world. When asked the question about whether MGA will ever make a move into the augmented reality or virtual reality markets, he even sends a smiley face. It’s a smiley face in place of a full stop. The two words that precede it are simple enough, yet wrapped in a thousand more questions, and Larian pulls that cloak of mystery straight back over himself. They simply read: “No comment.” November 2017 | toy news | 13

10-13 TN189 Big Interview_vFINAL.indd 15

10/23/17 11:46


14 | toy news | November 2017

14-19 TN189 Get Outdoors_FINAL.indd 14

10/25/17 16:28


CALLING SCREEN TIME Childhood obesity has become a major concern here in the UK and it is only the rise. Now, with the advance of technology and innovation in the active play sector, the toy industry is beginning to recognise its own responsibility in shaping the future of generations to come. Robert Hutchins explores


t’s an inescapable truth that childhood obesity remains a big issue here in the UK. In fact, recent research has revealed that it is now the single biggest public health crisis to grip the nation. The effects of supermarket shelves lined with the kind of consumables more closely aligned with Willy Wonka’s factory (minus the rivers of chocolate) or fast food outlets, are increasingly difficult to reverse. It has been reported that one in 20 children who are obese at the age of five will return to a healthy weight by age 11. For the remaining 19, normalisation of childhood obesity has seen fashion retailers cater to the demographic with the introduction of ‘plus size’ clothing for kids. Far be it from ToyNews to fall victim to accusations of scare mongering, but to a very certain level it is difficult to ignore just how worrying these sentiments are for the future of the younger generation. The old adage goes that it takes a village to raise a child, and in a world of technology and interconnectivity that spans the globe, a child’s ‘village’ is increasing in size at an exponential rate. The finger of blame can no longer only

point at parenting. In fact over recent years, campaigns such as Change for Life run by the NHS or even Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution have been turning the focus on education. “Education really is key to tackling this issue but this just isn’t happening at the

Kids' entertainment industries don't recognise the responsibility they have. Amanda Gummer

right levels,” explains Dr Amanda Gummer, child psychologist and founder and MD of Fundamentally Children. “On top of this, children are not sufficiently active to prevent long-term health issues and due to excessive fears about stranger danger, traffic, etc. they are not being encouraged to engage with exercise outside of school. “Even in school, playtimes and PE sessions are being cut and replaced by more academic topics to increase standings in league tables.”

November 2017 | toy news | 15

14-19 TN189 Get Outdoors_FINAL.indd 15

10/25/17 16:28

Get outdoors

Perhaps this was the inevitable outcome of a society that has switched lanes in recent years, placing greater emphasis on technology and training future generations to use it. There was always going to be casualties as schools gear towards STEM learning, but does it have to be to the detriment of childhood health, and does the buck really stop there? As children’s entertainment takes on a more 360-degree approach, perhaps it’s time for the firms on the periphery of a child’s upbringing and at the heart of modern day culture to start sharing the responsibility. Yes, that does mean technology, but does it mean toys too? “I don’t think the children’s entertainment industries truly recognise the potential they have to help and encourage families and help tackle this issue of childhood obesity,” continues Dr Gummer. “If they did, there would be far more out there to promote children’s active play. These kinds of toys are few and far between; watching adverts on children’s TV reveals that the majority of toys have a sedentary focus.” Take a look at some of the biggest successes in the toy space in recent years and it’s a difficult point to argue against. Collectables encourage social interactivity and aid a child’s development in many aspects, but, in-line with the trends of the day, many incorporate some level of technology that drive children towards increased screen time, over more active play. As studies reveal that 80 per cent

of obese children are heading for an obese adulthood, thankfully, some of the world’s largest children’s entertainment studios are starting to take notice of the issue. It was only recently that Disney partnered with the tech giant Garmin to launch the Vivofit Jnr 2, a children’s fitness tracker featuring huge kids’ brands such as Star Wars, Marvel and its portfolio of classic Disney characters. Meanwhile, Pokémon and Niantic changed the tone when they launched Pokémon Go, the AR mobile game that encouraged fans of the Pokémon franchise

There's more to be done to combat this issue. Adrian Hon

to get active by hunting for Pokémon out in the real world. “Although areas of the industry are tackling the issue head on, there is a lot more that can be done,” Emma Pilgrim, wheeled category manager at HTI, explains to ToyNews. “We have seen an increase in digital video games encouraging children to get up and move, for example virtual reality. It is going to be a continuous pressure and it will be very interesting to see how toys develop in time to engage children digitally while also promoting a healthy lifestyle.” Maybe the biggest issue that needs tackling is the mind-set with which not only parents, but tech

and toy companies approach the issue of childhood obesity? Six to Start is the tech team behind a number of fitness app games for adults and children, including the popular Zombies, Run. While the firm has seen success in the field so far – securing 250,000 monthly active users for its Zombies, Run flagship title – CEO and founder, Adrian Hon addresses the difficulty of turning a profit from the child fitness market head on. “Childhood obesity is obviously very important and we make a range of fitness games that really do encourage and motivate people to incorporate more physical activity into their lives,” Hon tells ToyNews. “However, as an industry I think we could do more. That said, it’s a hard type of game to design and even harder to make money from. Most businesses want to do things that make money, and while obesity is a problem, it’s easier to make money from apps and games that don’t require physical exertion than those that do.” Facing the issue with that frame of mind is not conducive to game-changing developments from the tech arena, and while these firms are most likely among the best-placed to bring about the lifestyle change needed among youngsters, many are prepared to wash their hands of it in favour of more profitable endeavours. In a recent interview with the consumer tech industry title, PCR, Theo Axford, senior product manager of Garmin Europe active lifestyle stated: “As an brand, there is a great sense of responsibility from Garmin to help give parents something that not only encourages an active lifestyle, but also brings the family together through rewards and experiences.” It’s a breath of fresh air for those left disenchanted by developments in technology and its knock-on effect and goes someway to promote the responsibility big tech developers do have. However, experts believe that what is really needed is a holistic approach, or a movement, that will refocus mind-sets from much more of a grass-roots level, tapping into the pre-school market.

16 | toy news | November 2017

14-19 TN189 Get Outdoors_FINAL.indd 16

10/25/17 16:28

Dive into the world’s largest toy store and discover new inspiration for your business. 10 reasons to be there: David Owen, Pattern Ltd +44 203 3758230 ¡

Win an MSC cruise Info and conditions of participation: Entry deadline: 4.2.2018

026_GreatBritain_Toy_News_210x265_Anschnitt3.indd Advert Placement.indd 1 1

15.08.17 10/10/17 08:35 16:34

Get outdoors

“Active play definitely plays a part in encouraging children to adopt a healthy lifestyle,” continues Gummer. “But it is only part of the solution, food choices are a key factor too. Parents and teachers can encourage a combination of active play, promoting healthy body images and providing a balanced diet that will all help tackle the issue.” Of course, that’s providing they are offered the right kind of tools to do so. Maybe this is where the traditional toy market can step in? It's just as well then, that through increased innovation in the

outdoor toy market, it appears to be doing just that. “It is so important to innovate in the outdoor market,” says Jessica Coy, head of marketing at Zimpli Kids. “Nowadays children spend a lot of time playing in the virtual world and, in my opinion, not enough in reality. “But children love playing outdoors and are often drawn to active play; it not only allows them to explore but it develops their fitness and coordination.” Recent months have seen Zimpli Kids break the outdoor market with the launch

of numerous new lines including its SnoBall Battle Pack, a line that allows kids to enjoy the snow ball fight experience all year around, as well as its new Slime Blaster, an innovative new step in the blaster toys market. Echoing Coy’s sentiment, Alex Prieto, CEO of EOLO Toys has drawn his line firmly in the sand, stating that the increase in tech-driven toys and collectables only lends itself to an increase in sedentary play. “The Government really needs to take more involvement in this topic, as a healthy population of children will eventually

18 | toy news | November 2017

14-19 TN189 Get Outdoors_FINAL.indd 17

10/25/17 16:28

Get outdoors

reduce healthcare costs and extend life expectancy,” Prieto tells ToyNews. “That said, the toy industry as a whole really isn’t doing enough to promote the issue and help tackle childhood obesity. The key is to create trends that kids will follow, kids want to be cool and spend time with friends, so with the right promotion and innovative products, it could happen naturally. But we need to be there to guide it with products and increased awareness.” EOLO Toys itself boasts a varied collection of outdoor toys, putting new twists on timeless concepts from water

fights to Marvel’s Avengers-themed swimming masks. It’s a line that will certainly go the distance to excite and encourage active children. But what of the toys that tackle the issue from an early age? How can manufacturers make the most of the opportunity they have to influence a child’s lifestyle habits during some of their most formative, preschool years? Zapf Creations may have stumbled upon one solution, having recently teamed with Olympic swimmer Rebecca Adlington for the launch of its Baby Annabell Learns to Swim doll. Featuring realistic sounds and movements, Baby Annabell will move her arms and legs to simulate swimming once she is placed in water. The idea of the launch is to encourage children and instil within them ‘a confidence to engage in active play and swimming,’ in a heartening move that somewhat plugs the gap left by the educational sector that in recent years has been guilty of shying away from this aspect of children’s lives. While it is true that active toys at their most simplistic do not have to be costly to

manufacturers, retailers and consumers alike, advances in technology continue to leap forward and dominate the lifestyle and culture scene, resulting in the question, do they still satisfy? Fundamentally Children’s Amanda Gummer is keen to find an answer to the

It all starts with getting education correct.

Amanda Gummer question we are all left with. “From a young age, children want to explore the world in as many ways as possible. As they get older, it seems that this natural instinct to be active is removed. Is this a learned behaviour or is it due to a lack of opportunities?” Perhaps that is something for the industry to ponder as we enter an age where firms start to take more responsibility for shaping the future of the next generation. November 2017 | toy news |19

14-19 TN189 Get Outdoors_FINAL.indd 18

10/25/17 16:28

Collectables as franchises

20 | toy news | November 2017

20-22 TN189 collectables Feature_vFINAL.indd 20

10/25/17 14:52

Collectables as franchises


FUTURE Similar to the likes of Pokémon that sprang from the screens of early handheld gaming systems to television, cinemas and shop windows, so too are hit toys outgrowing the toy shelves and building franchises across entertainment and merchandising. Here, Jack Ridsdale examines how the collectable toymakers are building franchises


hen Moose Toys’ CEO Paul Solomon pitched the concept for Shopkins in 2010, the world of licensed toys was stronger than ever. With the likes of Toy Story 3, Tangled, Despicable Me and even the final Harry Potter films gracing cinema screens, there was no shortage of strong franchises lining the toy shelves. However, the idea of growing a multi-platform franchise out of a toy line was still taboo. Like putting cart before the horse, kickstarting a multimedia franchise with physical products was at worst seen as a backwards way of doing things and at best, an unproven concept that with some misplaced investments could easily end in disaster. Now seven years on, Shopkins are a household name. Everyone from high street toy shops to supermarkets are scrabbling to obtain enough stock to satisfy Christmas demand, meanwhile the beloved brand is making inroads into children’s entertainment with webisodes, DVDs and even stage shows. The multimedia power of the brand cannot be understated, with the webisode series that was distributed via YouTube racking up a staggering 224 million views and over six million user-generated videos featuring the brand also appearing on the platform. “Shopkins initially launched through a series of shorts on YouTube which at the time was a pioneering move,” explains Paul Solomon.

“It was the first time a toy brand chose to take a YouTube first approach rather than use a traditional TV series to tell the stories of their original characters.” The unique world that Moose built around Shopkins has been key to its success, allowing youngsters to immerse themselves in the colourful world of the collectable toys. “Bringing the brand to entertainment was a natural progression,” elaborates Solomon. “Shopkins was developed with a storytelling approach in mind as we know that is what resonates most with our core consumer.

Shopkins was always devised and developed with a storytelling approach in mind Paul Solomon, Moose Toys “The world of Shopville was imagined in conjunction with the development of the toy line and having hero characters was a priority from season one. Once these characters and their distinct personalities had been defined, it felt appropriate for the toy line to extend out into entertainment.” This year’s Brand Licensing Expo saw no shortage of toy brands roaming the halls of Olympia, notably collectable brands including November 2017 | toy news | 21

20-22 TN189 collectables Feature_vFINAL.indd 21

10/25/17 14:52

Collectables as franchises

(Left to right) Ben Harper, Magic Box Toys and Paul Solomon, Moose Toys

the likes of MGA’s L.O.L. Surprise who may well be realising the value of bringing their brands to new platforms. LIMA’s Kelvyn Gardner, is another to recognise this growing licensing effort in the world of toys. Explaining the unprecedented appeal of collectable toys, Gardner explains a shift in thinking around the category. “Collectables are an age-old hobby for kids,” begins Gardner. “Now you’ve got nostalgia because you have two or three generations that have collected. The other things is that collecting is about social interaction with other kids physically, and while parents are worried about screens- smartphones, tablets, computers, video games- they see kids going out and collecting these things with their mates as more of a positive thing for kids to do.” “That’s a full circle thing, no one could have made that connection happen. It just has, and into that have come LEGO, Character Options and of course, the Shopkins from Moose.” Another toy franchise that has built a solid foundation in the collectables space is Zomlings from Magic Box Toys. Having built a successful franchise from the ground-up that has come to encompass magazines, webisodes, games and more, the firm is now drawing the line to a close and looking to take what they’ve learned to an all new creation.

“Zomlings has been a really important experience for Magic Box Toys,” Zomlings creator Ben Harper, told ToyNews.

We have learnt lessons about how to shape a range to suit the market and consumer Ben Harper, Magic Box Toys

“We have been able to create a wide range of SKUs within pocket money prices and this is certainly a path that we will continue to follow with new projects. We have learnt many lessons about what is and isn’t collectable and how to shape a range to suit the market and the consumer. Zomlings has also helped us to develop a much wider range of SKUs, particularly those at higher points aimed specifically at the toy market. Again, this is something that will continue to develop with new projects, such as SuperZings which launches in January.” Magic Box’s new line, named SuperZings cashes in on the superhero trend which currently dominates the box office with a cast of colourful characters to rival any comic book series. SuperZing’s focus will stretch from marketing and advertising efforts to digital content targeted towards youngsters in the near future.

“We have produced high quality websites, apps and webisodes for products over the past few years, including Zomlings,” explains Harper. “We have also expanded our advertising reach into many digital formats. This will certainly continue in the future and our next project, SuperZings, will launch with a huge and diverse marketing campaign. This will include some excellent webisodes to introduce the characters and storylines.” With the engrossing world of collectables, capturing the hearts and minds of kids all across the world, don’t expect these ambitious firms to be the last to go this route with their toy lines, as they expand and diversify their offerings.

22 | toy news | November 2017

20-22 TN189 collectables Feature_vFINAL.indd 22

10/25/17 14:52

POS THAT GOES ‘POP’ We have a huge passion for producing high impact retail POS and aim to make the path from prototyping and production to the shop floor as easy as possible.

Let us help with your next POS Project… CALL FOR A QUOTE: 01827 54551


Advert Placement.indd 1

10/23/17 11:56

Toy Fair TV

THE TV GUIDES It’s the mix of endless energy and excruciating interviews that have made Toy Fair TV’s Gavin Inskip and Anna Williamson just as much a staple of London’s Toy Fair as getting sloshed in the Hand & Flower. As Toy Fair season begins to roll-around once again, we catch up with the show's leading double act about their London Toy Fair highlights

24 | toy news | November 2017

24-25 TN189 Toy Fair TV_FINAL.indd 24

10/25/17 17:14

Toy Fair TV


ust as the sun will always rise, Gavin Inskip and Anna Williamson will always be stood outside London’s Olympia on a cold January morning to watch it, while making those final preparations for yet another three days of Toy Fair TV. Yes, it has become as much a staple of the annual London Toy Fair as overpriced lunches, the Toy of the Year Awards and even Martin Grossman and those bloody Minions. But that’s all part of what makes London’s Toy Fair such an exciting and vibrant show. The energy, the camaraderie and of course the industry’s answer to Phil and Holly gallivanting the halls and maintaining a level of excitement more commonly attributed to buckets of coffee, for the show’s three days. With their signature on-camera interviews, Toy Fair TV co-presenters Williamson and Inskip are returning for their sixth year. In that time, the pair have seen the show through numerous incarnations; companies have come and gone, hundreds returned and the number of newcomers has increased year-on-year.

While the same friendly faces may make up the majority of the crowds at the annual London Toy Fair, this is an industry that thrives on newness and innovation, throwing up new concepts, big launches and leading trends into the mix each year. “My mere musings have seen that collectables are a year-round favourite, as is anything technological,” says Williamson. “However, educational toys really are flying the flag too, which I think is brilliant. It’s a really innovative mix of traditional mixed with the future of toys.” After six years of traipsing the aisles, interviewing exhibitors and showcasing product demonstrations, Williamson and Inskip have certainly picked up a few insights into the toy industry of their own. It’s only to be expected, this is, after all, a pair who throw themselves into the industry when the big show comes around. “I’m not an industry guru,” states Inskip. “But what I have noticed is how much more of a ‘good conscience’ the industry

London's Toy Fair feels so much more inclusive these days. If you walk around the Greenhouse you will see new people with new ideas, so it seems like a much more open show nowdays. Gavin Inskip, Toy Fair TV “From my perspective, Toy Fair seems to have become bigger and even more engaging,” Williamson tells ToyNews. “The introduction of Toy fair TV really helps make the whole three days feel united and allows exhibitors to show off their wares. “The toy industry is so passionate about what they do and they know their stuff. Toy Fair is a vibrant hub of activity and the industry’s finest. The first time I set foot at the event, I was blown away by the sheer magnitude and the colour of it all.” When you think of London’s Toy Fair, magnitude really is the first thought that leaps to mind. Yet no matter how large the show gets, it never loses the sense of intimacy that the toy industry is renowned for. “The nice thing about Toy Fair is that it's different enough each year to make you excited about what’s new – but much of it, like the people, are the same,” explains Inskip.

has now. You see a greater emphasis on learning and education. I have noticed a lot more STEM toys, for instance. “Also, it feels more inclusive. If you walk around the Greenhouse you will see new people with new ideas. It seems a lot more of an open show nowadays.” Open and inclusive, yes, but is it forgiving? It was only a few years ago that Toy Fair TV caused quite the stir when presenter Inskip accidentally ploughed a go-kart into one exhibitor’s stand. But mishaps or not, the pair will be on hand to jump head first into the industry each year for the foreseeable future. From the Toy Fair TV Demo Zone, to the show’s closing charity Trolley Dash, the industry’s January gathering at London’s Olympia wouldn’t be the same without them. “I just love seeing the whole gang back together every year,” concludes Inskip. November 2017 | toy news | 25

24-25 TN189 Toy Fair TV_FINAL.indd 25

10/25/17 17:14

Generation Media

TAKING THE CAKE Lauren Coombs When it comes to family entertainment The Great British Bake Off is a staple in homes across the nation. Here, Generation Media examines how valuable the show’s ad space is for kids’ brands Source: BARB 2017


n October 10th 2017, #ItalianWeek was trending across the United Kingdom. No, it was not part of a political debate, it was pizza making week on the latest instalment of The Great British Bake Off. With people still logging onto their Twitter app to discuss who overbaked their dough, it is no surprise that some members of the media industry still believe that the show brings in the level of ratings that it did back when it was airing on BBC1. However, that is not quite the case. While the new presenters have received fairly positive reviews within the Twitter sphere, the programme has not performed to the same level as previous years. If we focus on performance against mums with children under the age of three, across September 2016 the live show was delivering on average 457,000 impacts. In comparison with September 2017, following the move to Channel 4 it is now delivering on average 293,000 impacts. This means the live episodes have lost a third of its audience. If we hone in further to kids aged between seven and 12, in September last year the show was delivering on average 349,000 vs 215,000 in September 2017, a drop off of 39 per cent. However, we must note that the show is performing well via catch-up services with the show featuring

heavily within the top performing programmes across the on demand platform. If we also review the top shows against kids seven to 12 for the last full month of consolidated data, The Great British Bake Off did rank in the number one position beating rivals such as Coronation Street, EastEnders, The Simpsons and The X Factor that have typically secured the top spots. When we compare the show to children’s specific programmes it is providing increased impact. For example Ninjago: Possession on CITV was delivering on average 51,000 impacts. If we delve further into shows on non-free to air channels i.e Disney Channel, then the next top performing show is Mack Chat delivering 17,000 impacts on average across the month. So while The Great British Bake Off might not be ‘on a roll’ (we hope you got that baking reference and are not ‘rolling’ your eyes right now) it is still reaching the top spot among older children and mums alike. As we enter a trading season of limited supply across the kids commercial channel set and increased demand from toys and games advertisers, it is these types of spots on the adult channels that can increase unique cover and provide an additional touchpoint with your target audience. If you would like to know more about these opportunities please do contact us at Generation Media and we'd be happy to impart more knowledge.

ToyNews PlayTime is provided by Generation Media 0207 307 7900 |

26 | toy news | November 2017

26 TN189 GenMedia-Playtime_FINAL.indd 35

10/23/17 11:47

Campaign of the month

ZURU PRESENTS SMASHERS Zuru is crashing into the world of collectables this month with Smashers, which will be accompanied by a global marketing push spanning social media and online influencers


nternational toy and consumer products company Zuru is once again colliding with the world of collectables with Smashers, an all-new IP hitting retail on Boxing Day. The firm has significant experience in the collectables space, being responsible for Disney’s immensely successful soft toy line Tsum Tsum. Housed inside of an eye-popping red ‘Smashball’, kids can discover new collectable pals by smashing open the ball, in what the firm hopes will develop into an addictive playground trend. Once unboxed, children can battle, collect and score with their Smashers – as each one has its own Smash Point Value allowing for extended play. Series One’s theme is football, focussing on the most on-trend sport for 2018. Coinciding with the World Cup in Russia beginning in June, youngsters can get in on the fun collecting the good and bad sport characters, along with rare Sports and Golden Trophies to find. Collectors can keep track of their progress with the accompanying collector’s guide and game sheet. Aimed at both pocket money and birthday money budgets, SKUs include the Smashers one pack, three pack, eight pack, and bigger items including the Collectors Tin and Smashers Team Bus that transforms into a Football Field. Priced from £1.99 through to £19.99, The Smashers launch will be backed by a huge global marketing push spanning trade support, traditional on and offline media, unboxing influencer outreach, events, sampling and social media, as well as an extensive presence at retail. “We are extremely excited to launch Smashers as there is a huge opportunity in

Smashers can jump on any trend or license, a real point of difference to other collectables. Adam Woods, Zuru

toy collectables right now, that no one has really mastered,” said Renee Lee, global marketing manager at Zuru. “Children love smashing anything they can, so the surprise opening mechanic will surely be a hit with kids as well as infamous YouTube influencers we are working closely with. Sports is the perfect launch theme with all the upcoming sporting events. The

uniqueness of the Smashball is how we can expand into a multitude of new and relevant themes in the upcoming series.” Adam Woods, creative director, Zuru added: "Unboxing remains a huge trend globally and we wanted to embrace that in a brand new collectable. So we’ve innovated a new collectable device that takes that trend to an exciting new level in Smashers. Kids will love to smash open the surprise Smashball and collect our funny characters. The other great thing about our innovation is that Smashers can easily encapsulate any trending theme or license, which is something other traditional collectables sometimes struggle to accommodate.” November 2017 | toy news | 27

27 TN189 COTM_FINAL.indd 37

10/25/17 10:40

Euromonitor Research

TOYS R US: A WORLD VIEW As the industry regroups itself following the shock revelations over the financial crisis Toys R Us has found itself in, Euromonitor International takes a look at the retail giant’s global position. Was it preventable and are we really that surprised?


o matter what media outlet you are turning to, there’s no escaping the news that Toys R Us has suffered at the hands of crippling debt and high interest loan repayments. It was only a few weeks ago that the toy retail giant filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, claiming ‘business as usual’ for its many retail zones across multiple territories outside of the US. In the main, it has been. But even here, in the UK, small handfuls of suppliers have turned their back on the ailing retailer at the most critical point of the year, for fear of not making good on Christmas returns. The news of the $5bn financial struggle that Toys R Us now finds itself in sent shockwaves across the international

Toys R Us needs to adapt to the growth in adults buying into the hobby genre.

Matt Hudak, Euromonitor toy industry, but how many of us can say we were completely surprised by the revelations? Tim Barrett, senior retailing analyst at Euromonitor International, says: “I am not surprised by the fact that Toys R Us filed for bankruptcy as these rumours have

28 | toy news | November 2017

28-29 TN189 EuroMonitor_FINAL.indd 30

10/23/17 11:47

Euromonitor Research

been circulating for the past few weeks and its troubles in adapting to the post-recessionary economy have been well documented. “Abroad, it has found relatively more success, but it has been hamstrung by exchange rates which are exacerbating declines in foreign countries like Japan and the UK and even reversing growth in others such as France and Canada.” The company has been saddled with debt-repayment obligations for years, rendering it unable to make improvements to its in-store experience and its e-commerce strategy. Effectively, impotent against the onslaught of Amazon, at a time when some serious belt-tightening was the best option, Toys R Us spent. “The company clearly opted to use store openings to try and increase its absolute sales on a year-by-year basis,” says Barrett. “This strategy did not work. From 2011 to 2016, the company opened many new stores in new formats, but these were unable to make an appreciable change in overall sales. “These new stores have limited some downside risk, but not nearly enough to make the experiment worthwhile. Even worse, the focus on these new store formats resulted in too little investment in making e-commerce a main channel.” Despite being one of the largest toy retailers across the globe, analysts believe that Toys R Us has been hamstrung by its inability to react to trends quickly enough, or market itself effectively to an evolving toypurchasing audience. Matthew Hudak, senior toys and games analyst at Euromonitor International, continues: “From the standpoint of what they sell in the toys and games market, Toys R Us has a lot of issues being able to capitalise on toy trends. “First, its video games area of the store will be a drag, as this market has become heavily digitised with a lot of sales going on through downloads. Remaining sales are then being made online, especially with deals like Amazon’s 20 per cent off pre-order games for Prime. “Secondly, Toys R Us is heavily centered around developed markets, where there has been high growth in STEM or robotic products. These products are pretty expensive and tend to be sold to parents who do a lot of research on the toys they buy for their kids. They usually end up making their purchases online. “There is also a growing number of sales being made to adults in developed markets, especially in hobby board games or high end collectable toys. This group, however, would not go to Toys R Us for these.

“One other major toy trend is the growth in small priced end aisle toys, such as collectable blind bags. This is something that is a convenience driven purchase and can be bought in numerous locals, lessening the need to go to Toys R Us for them." Quite conversely, business for Toys R Us’ Asian and East Asian operations could not have a more positive outlook. Only last month, the retailer revealed its new partnership with LuLu Group International’s retail arm, Tablez to bring the first Toys R Us stores to India. Meanwhile, in Singapore, the financial revelations aired by the retailer’s US arm has come as a surprise to consumers and analysts. Jun Huang Tan, research analyst at Euromonitor International, adds: “Only a small portion of sales of traditional toys and games in Singapore are bought in online stores while the majority of purchases still go through brick and mortar stores.

In Singapore, Toys R Us is relatively safe from online retailing, but for how long? Jun Huang Tan

“Toys R Us in Singapore is relatively safe from shifts towards online retailing, However, Toys R Us will have to consider investing more in its online store before it is too late. “Other than establishing internet retailing, Toys R Us would also have to ensure that they keep themselves up to date in the faster growing categories like games and puzzles, primarily driven by the interests of indie board games. Most of Toys R Us’ game and puzzle offering still focuses on classic games like Monopoly, Uno etc." That aside, it can’t be denied that over in Singapore, Toys R Us is experiencing a positive growth trajectory. However, just how long that is expected to last, remains to be seen. “Since 2016, Toys R Us has opened three stores with its outlet in VivoCity being its largest outlet in Singapore. The MD attributed it to the ‘recession proof’ nature of toys in general, which is reasonable. “In addition, Toys R Us has made efforts to develop an omni-channel shopping experience, or develop some form of online presence, as well as improve its ‘experiential shopping,’ concludes Huang Tan.

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

November 2017 | toy news |29

28-29 TN189 EuroMonitor_FINAL.indd 31

10/23/17 11:47

Toy Shop UK



With Toys R Us filing for bankruptcy, retailers across the nation are naturally questioning the health of the retail sector as we enter peak trading season. Here, Jack Ridsdale reaches out to Toyshop UK to get the verdict on the health of retail.


nce again, peak trading season is upon us and as the nights begin the draw in, retailers everywhere will begin bolstering their shelves with an even more diverse array of playthings to delight youngsters this festive season. Although an exhilarating and hectic time for many, for some it is a time of sadness

as 2017 saw another crop of steadfast indies close their doors due to increasingly difficult economic conditions. Beloved toy shops including the likes of Bath’s Erick Snook’s Toy Shop, The Cambridge Toy Shop and The Toy Box in Surrey all closing up shop was enough to put panic in the hearts of retailers and in September, these fears were compounded by the world’s

30 | toy news | November 2017

30-31TN189 ToyShopUK_FINAL.indd 34

10/25/17 10:41

Toy Shop UK

best known retail chain Toys R Us filing for bankcruptcy protection under Chapter 11. While provisions are in place to ensure the chain continues trading, its future remains unclear. While many publications will be quick to play armchair analyst, noone aside from those top execs at Toys R Us know exactly what is going on behind the global juggernaut’s closed doors, but one thing is clear: all is not hunky dory in the world of Toys R Us. All this uncertainty is sure to give pause to retailers eager to ensure they’re businesses don’t meet the same fate. Many

The old business model of adapt or die really does apply more than ever in this case. Victor Tan, ABC Zone in London blame the difficulties plighting brick and mortar retailers on the one-two punch of discounters and online retailers. While online retailers can offer the same products as physical shops and cheaper rates and greater convenience, discounters like B&M Bargains are offering an entirely different proposition, smaller, lower-quality items that will suit the needs of many less discerning customers. Meanwhile grocers and department stores are also undercutting dedicated toy shops at an alarming rate. With these issues in mind, we posed the question to retailers: are Toys R Us’ financial difficulties indicative of the overall health of the retail sector? Victor Tan of the ABC Zone in London commented, “It means the old business model of adapt or die applies fully in this case.” It's a point supported by Vicky Brown, of fellow London retailer Just Williams Toys, who added: “Retail just needs to change with the times.”

In fact, many retailers echoed these sentiments, making clear that diversification is key to carving out a niche in the toy space. Some were critical of Toys R Us' business model, calling out their reliance on licensed, mass-produced product lines. “Given that they pedal mass-produced fodder, I’m not surprised that they are having difficulty,” said David Grounsell of Dave’s Classic Toys in Gloucester. “Especially when people without the overheads of running a retail outlet can pedal the same rubbish online.” “Toys R Us' financial difficulties have nothing to do with the health or otherwise of retail in general,” elaborates Daeron McGee of ToyTown in Seaford, East Sussex. “Yes, their stores are lacking in investment to keep them fresh and at the forefront of retailing, but that is because they are being forced to service huge debt interest by the venture capitalists that refinanced them in the USA, and want their pound of flesh.” Julian Shelford, of Final Frontier in Plymouth speculates that it is the management of Toys R Us’ various stores that has led to their downfall. “Whilst finances are tighter out there, the difficulties are possibly more of their own making,” explains Sheflord. “Many of the large chains have grown so big, have too many overheads and are poorly managed. If the stores were perhaps more geographically managed, i.e East, West, South and North had their own area offices and were managed individually, then perhaps they would not run into such difficulties.” “If one area was weak then the others could pick up the slack,” concludes Shelford. “Years ago you would have a company that had several stores and would be managed smoothly. I do not think they will be the last. Perhaps companies will learn from their mistakes, maybe not.” Retail has always been a choppy sea, subject to changing tides, let's hope it turns in time for Chritsmas.

DAERON MCGEE ToyTown in Sleaford

"Yes, Toys R Us' stores are lacking in investment to keep them at the forefront of retailing, but that is because they are being forced to service huge debt interest by the venture capitalist that refinanced them and now wants its pound of flesh."

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 07786 295756 for more information. follow us @toyshopuk

November 2017 | toy news | 31

30-31TN189 ToyShopUK_FINAL.indd 35

10/25/17 10:41


INTO THE WILD There’s nothing quite like the Great Outdoors to carve out the hardiest resilience against Mother Nature. Grit, determination and above all else, bubble fights. Robert Hutchins rounds up the latest products to enter the outdoor arena

Zing – Wind Designs 01353 724140 / Wind Designs continues to delight in the outdoor toys category thanks to its distribution deal with Zing, bringing the toy firm’s collection of active play and outdoor toys from the US here to the UK. This season, the firm is launching a new concept destined to get kids bubbling over with excitement by the time summer rolls back around with the Glove A Bubble, a new way to play with bubbles. Kids simply have to wear the Glove A Bubble on their hand, dip it in the provided bubble pouch solution and wave it about. The holes on the tips create a cloud of bubbles as the Glove A Bubble is swished through the air.

It’s time to do away with the age-old bubble wands and bottles. They are often held incorrectly by youngsters, spilled and nearly always make a mess. Zing’s new Glove A Bubble does away will all the headaches of playing with bubbles, making it the ideal outdoor entertainment for youngsters. Distributed by Wind Designs, the Glove A Bubble comes in eight different designs and will be available from spring 2018. Each Glove A Bubble will retail at £3.99, making them the ideal pocket money price, too. Featured product

Glove A Bubble Manufacturer: Zing Cost: £3.99

32 | toy news | November 2017

32 TN189 OutdoorToys Sector Guide Cover_FINAL.indd 59

10/23/17 11:48

Product Guide

Plum Products 01522 737126

WILL NICKELL Accounts Exec Lincolnshire

New to 2017, the Plum Discovery range is designed for children to explore and get messy in the garden through outdoor role-play. The Plum Discovery range combines hands-on play and learning, bringing school into the garden and allowing children to discover wildlife and engage in sensory and active play all year round. Featuring a bamboo wind chime, easy to clean painting screen and mini growing station for beginners, the Plum Discovery Mud Pie Kitchen is a great way for children to get stuck in at playtime and explore existing hobbies and curiosities. Children can discover living things, tinker and experiment as they mush, mix and mould a mud pie, all while identifying the wildlife around them. The Plum Discovery Mud Pie Kitchen also includes handy shelves to store all woodland finds. Children can cook their signature dish on the wooden hobs with a stylish assortment of metal kitchen utensils, pots and paints. Francis Wright, product manager, said: “With the Mud Pie Kitchen, we looked to fuse a traditional role-play kitchen with the exciting possibilities of Discovery, developing it to withstand years of outdoor activity.

“Our design actively encourages messy play as we appreciate the value of self-expression in child development. Community and parental engagement is also important to each of us on a personal level and as a design team we fell in love with the idea that parents can join in on a treasure hunt around the garden.” Elsewhere, Plum have an exclusive UK and Ireland distribution deal with Globber Scooters, offering scooters for all ages, from beginner riders to urban transport for millennials. The Globber Elite Scooter is an innovative pre-school to school kid scooter, featuring unique designs and exclusive folding function making the scooter easy to pull along, carry and store away. The three-wheel Globber scooter features an adjustable height T-bar with a pushpin feature with four height settings. The adjustable handlebar allows the scooter to grow with the child for extended play value and is recommended for children up to eight years of age. The Globber Elite is available in a wide range of colours and is available with LED flashing wheels powered by kinetic energy. Featured product

Plum Discovery Mud Pie Kitchen Manufacturer: Plum Products

November 2017 | toy news | 33

33 TN189 OutdoorToys Sector Guide Cover_FINAL.indd 59

10/23/17 11:48

Product Guide

Zimpli Kids 0845 459 1818

JESSICA COY Head of marketing Location: Great Harwood Lancashire

Zimpli Kids is most well-known for its unique and innovative children’s bath products, Gelli Baff and Slime Baff, having clocked up over three billion views on YouTube from independent vloggers worldwide. That number is still growing, averaging 72 new views per second. The success of the line has meant that by the end of 2016, Zimpli Kids was able to expand its portfolio into the great outdoors, bringing exciting new outdoor product to market, all to resounding success. The SnoBall Battle Pack was the first outdoor product to be launched, making the impossible, possible. The SnoBall Battle Pack not only provides endless outdoor fun for children, it transforms a once seasonal experience into something that can be enjoyed all year round. Over the last few weeks alone, the SnoBall Battle Pack has picked up two prestigious awards, including Best Stocking Filler in the Made for Mums Toy Awards 2017. The product is as simple as adding the SnoBall Battle Pack powder to water, watch it turn into realistic snow and then get ready

for snowball fights whatever the weather. The SnoBall powder makes over 60 snowballs, which allows children to enjoy the magical experience numerous times. The Slime Blaster is another product from the Zimpli Kids outdoor range. Even before the launch of the Slime Blaster, it was awarded Toy Fair Best New Outdoor Toy of 2017, believing it to be one of the hottest products over the coming year. Why soak your friends in water, when you can blast them with slime? Simply load the Slime Blaster Gun Tank with water and the pre-measured magic Slime powder, shake to make the gooey slime then fire. Each Slime Blaster gun comes with enough powder for over 200 slime shots for lots of outdoor fun. The success Zimpli Kids has had with its current outdoor products puts it in a great position to expand the outdoor range, so keep your eyes peeled for new developments. Featured product

SnoBall Battle Pack Manufacturer: Zimpli Kids

34 | toy news | November 2017

34 TN189 OutdoorToys Sector Guide_FINAL.indd 41

10/23/17 11:49

Advert Placement.indd 1

10/10/17 16:32

Product Guide

Eolo Toys TKC Sales - 01380 872950

ALEX PRIETO Director of fun Spain

Eolo Toys is an international company that designs its ranges in Spain and manufactures and sells its outdoor toy range from Hong Kong to anywhere in the world. The firm has vastly expanded its outdoor range, moving from kites to a wide-ranging, diverse portfolio of toys, bringing traditional toys and cutting edge innovation together. Just like that, Eolo creates unique models that seek amusement, sociability and team play among the entire range. New for this season, Eolo Toys introduces its Aqua Gear line, a range it expects to be one of the major outdoor summer toys of the year, with 20 countries already closed for its summer 2018 launch and many more to come next year and beyond. Aqua Gear is innovative and unique within the water play category and promises to

deliver great moments of outdoor fun for children of any age. The new Aqua Gear Battle System encourages kids to prime their weapons with the new pump action technology before discovering the power of the Hydro Charger and its high capacity power tank. Meanwhile, the Splash Shield is there to protect and attack. It’s a shield, swim board and a powerful blaster. The line also includes Vapor Shades, meaning children can challenge your friends in exciting sudden death contests with the high sensitive pressure mechanism that reveals the water battle winner. Outdoor water play has never been the same. The new Aquar Gear range will be distributed across the UK by TKC Sales. Featured product

Agua Gear Manufacturer: EOLO Toys

36 | toy news | November 2017

36 TN189 OutdoorToys Sector Guide_FINAL.indd 41

10/23/17 11:49

transform water into


just add water!

100% safe diy slime

over 3 billion views on youtube!

Available in green, red & blue!

rrps from ÂŁ 2.99! 08454 591 818 Advert Placement.indd 1

10/23/17 12:01


TOP OF THE TOTS Over the years it has been widely acknowledged that toys can play an important role in the development of younger children, helping them with their motor skills and spatial reasoning. Here, Jack Ridsdale takes a look at the pre-school toys putting smiles on the faces of toddlers everywhere

Jumbo 07766 737 092

Steve Washbourne UK sales director Location: Hatfield

Jumbo’s award-winning Dessineo ‘Learn to Draw’ is the artistic inspiring drawing toy designed to stimulate the creativity and imagination of pre-schoolers. Youngsters can learn how to draw a variety of pictures, step by step, rather than by simply tracing. The Dessineo ‘Learn to Draw’ is designed for children aged four and older, providing them with simple shapes as a stencil and a variety of recognisable pictures such as animals, vehicles and fantasy characters. To make drawing easier, Dessineo features a light up projector that when turned on creates a perfect outline of the stencil

shown on the transparent picture templates, designed to make it simpler for children to draw accurately around the lines. Children will learn how to create pictures in four easy and achievable steps, teaching them the techniques required to learn how to draw pictures by free-hand when they are ready. The Dessineo's awards success already spans many renowned and respected consumer awards including the Right Start Awards, Loved by Parents, Made for Mums and Practical Pre-School. Featured product

Dessineo Learn to Draw Manufacturer: Jumbo Cost: £24.99

38 | toy news | November 2017

38 TN189 Preschool Sector Guide Cover_FINAL.indd 59

10/25/17 11:22

All Eyes on 2018! Our biggest Spring/Summer launch yet

Introducing Popping Colour Mixer Truck, Rainbow Lights Ladybird, Hug & Learn Bears Book, Dino’s Delightful Day Book and Tad’s Fridge Phonics.

Order now 01235 555545 Or visit

Advert Placement.indd 1

10/10/17 16:34

Product Guide

VTech 01235 546838

SUZIE MILLS, Senior brand manager Location: Abingdon

VTech’s new cutting edge toy is more than just a messaging device. Using a wireless connection with KidiCom MAX, your child can exchange messages with family and friends, take photos and videos, play a variety of games with popular characters, safely browse the internet, listen to music and even watch their favourite cartoon shows. The device features a large five-inch capacitive touch screen, 2.0 MP rotatable camera for taking photos and videos, 8GB of (expandable) memory and a built-in rechargeable battery. Connect to VTech’s Learning Lodge to download lots of apps, games and e-books and choose from a library of great videos and music. The KidiCom also includes interactive features such as games, learning and creative apps with many more for kids to download. Featured product

KidiCom MAX Manufacturer: Vtech Cost: £109.99

Tomy Location: Surrey

01392 281 928 TOMY is bringing smiles and laughter to the pre-school category with engaging and innovative products, starting with its TOMY Toomies collection. The range features quirky toys that create simple, hands on fun while encouraging shared laughter and memories. For autumn/winter pre-schoolers will love Mr Shopbot, a robot filled with funny sounds and lots of actions to engage with toddlers. Push his mouth down to hear him munch and crunch or use the scanner arm and button tummy for shopping role-play. Looking to bath toys, the Bubble Blast Train is expected to be a big hit this Christmas. Simply pull the yellow lever and watch as bubbles float out of the train’s chimney. Littleones can use Captain Seagull as a pouring cup and twist the yellow lever to release the water from the bottom of the train. TOMY is also presenting a range of licensed products including Milimage’s Molang series which features super soft plush. Featured product

Molang plush Manufacturer: TOMY

40 | toy news | November 2017

40 TN189 Preschool Sector Guide_FINAL.indd 41

10/25/17 12:28

2 NE 0

W TO for S YS S18!

Producing high quality traditional wooden puzzles, games and toys to help children learn and have fun as they grow.


CONTACT YOUR JUMBO SALES REP FOR MORE INFORMATION Jumbo Games, 2 Carters Row, Hatfield Park, Hatfield, UK, AL9 5NB Telephone: 01707-289289 Email:

Advert JUMBOPlacement.indd Toy News GOULA.indd 1 1

12/10/2017 10/23/17 11:57 09:26

Product Guide

Hape 0845 6000 286

Location: Mücke, Germany

Hape is looking to take little ones to new heights this winter with the Marbel Four Stage Rocket Ship. Jam packed with so many exciting features this 20-piece rocket ship has new journeys awaiting across four floors with an extensive array of play accessories including a moon buggy, solar panels, furniture and much more. The product has also been recognised by various critics, winning the consumer choice of the Mumii Best Baby and Toddler Gear for 2017. A resounding triumph in all. Not just for playing with, the amazing detailed Four Stage Rocket Ship from Hape is also a great tool for learning as you see a child's development sky rocket. Growing skills in storytelling, building a child's imagination through experiences of role play and inspiring children to grow and expand their knowledge. Stimulating pretend play in your little boy or girl with this high quality set from Hape. As the perfect tool for interacting with friends, the rocket ship is suitable for everyone to get involved in as children can learn the importance of sharing with others, delving into limitless possibilities.

Featured product

Marbel Four Stage Rocket Ship Manufacturer: Hape

Bananagrams 020 7298 9500

Contact: Winning Moves Location: London

Bananagrams now offers an award-winning game for pre-schoolers and early readers – My First Bananagrams, a new title for the younger, greener player. The iconic Bananagrams pouch is now a ripening green and, in response to customer requests, contains colourful lower-case letter tiles. The collection of fun games within caters to a wide range of reading abilities. There are 10 curriculum-based mini games for early learners and word game challenges which grow in difficulty as the child’s skill level advances. This culminates in a simplified version of Bananagrams, and introduces children to the classic game that sees players racing to complete their own word grid. My First Bananagrams uniquely includes new double-tiles with vowel-teams, word families and digraphs. This makes it the perfect game for children as they learn to read and spell. Featured product

My First Bananagrams Manufacturer: Winning Moves Cost: : £15.99

42 | toy news | November 2017

42 TN189 Preschool Sector Guide_FINAL.indd 41

10/25/17 12:34

The Happiness Property! As seen on

Molang Basic Plush Assortment


plush range for AW!

Talk and Sing Molang and Piu Piu

Super Soft!

Super Soft Molang

Š2017 / Hayanori / Millimages

Advert ToyNews-Molang-210mmx265mm.indd Placement.indd 1 1

Collectible Plush Assortment

Call the sales department on 01392 281928 or email

24/10/2017 10/24/17 15:23 14:59

Product Guide

Trends UK 01295 768078 Location: Hockley

Trends UK is prepping for peak trading season with a series of electronic learning toys, featuring top licenses including Peppa Pig, Thomas and Mr. Tumble. 2018 is looking to be a big year for Peppa Pig with new episodes launching offering more exciting adventures for fans to follow. The latest additions to the popular Peppa Pig ELAs range from Trends UK include the Peppa Pig Laugh & Learn Alphaphonics and new Peppa Pig Interactive Play Mat. Fans of Thomas and friends will be delighted to go on exciting adventures with the Thomas Flip and Learn Phone, featuring games and sound effects. Elsewhere, Learn with Thomas Alphaphonics will help youngsters develop memory, follow sequences and improve concentration. Take a tumble with Mr Tumble’s Learning Pad, where young ones can learn how to recognise colours, letters, numbers and musical instruments with the help of everyone’s favourite kids' entertainer. Finally, Paint Sticks from Little Brian offers a creative twist to the market, allowing kids to come up with fun and exciting paint creations without making a mess.

Rainbow Designs 01329 233 700

Featured product

Mr Tumble’s Learning Pad Manufacturer: Trends UK Cost: £17.99

ZARA GRINDROD, Director of sales Location: Gosport, Hampshire

Paddington returns to cinema screens this winter with the sequel to his incredibly successful 2014 film debut, and with it comes a range of adorable toys from Rainbow. The super soft Activity Toy, plays a tune and features a peek-a-boo mirror and suitcase-shaped yellow teether. It has been designed specifically to encourage early developmental skills and includes multiple textures and sounds. Also coming to retailers is the adorable Paddington for Baby Stacking Rings Toy, which features multiple textures, jingles and crinkles to entertain, also aids preschoolers with colour and size recognition. They join the popular My First Paddington, Stacking Cubes and Discovery Activity Cube in the Paddington for Baby Collection. Rainbow Designs’ extensive collections feature many high profile pre-school brands including Peter Rabbit, My First Thomas & Friends, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Guess How Much I Love You, Peppa Pig for Baby and Miffy. A real feast of licences for this year. Featured product

Paddington for Baby Stacking Rings Manufacturer: Rainbow Designs 44 | toy news | November 2017

44 TN189 Preschool Sector Guide_FINAL.indd 41

10/25/17 14:53

the perfect word game for the younger bunch!

uni que com bo tile s

lowe rc a se lette rs me s i-g a r l y n i m ea fo r d e r s a re

+44 (0) 207 298 9500

Advert Placement.indd 1

10/23/17 12:06

Product Guide

Mattel 01628 500 000

Location: Maidenhead

In 2018, Fisher-Price is launching an all new campaign, ‘Let Kids Be Kids’, encouraging parents to nurture what’s already in their child’s unique nature by celebrating their unique personalities and interests demonstrated through play. This campaign is sure to bring with it a series of innovative and charming products to go alongside offerings from Thomas and Friends including My First Thomas & Friends Railway Oaks which will be supported with impactful, integrated marketing programmes amplified across TV, digital, social media and PR. Elsewhere, BabyGear introduces the 2-in-1 Sit-to-Stand Activity Centre, with interactive activities, sounds and textures to stimulate baby’s senses. While in the newborn category, the Kick & Play Piano Gym engages baby with a removable piano which plays as baby kicks during tummy time. The infant range continues to grow with new products in the Laugh & Learn range, including Puppy's Check-Up Kit, and relaunch of the Sweet Manners Tea Set. The evergreen Bright Beats remains popular with BeatBo, BeatBelle and BeatBowWow, while for preschool is the Think & Learn Seek & Spell Penguin, inspiring little learners to be big thinkers this year and beyond. Featured product

My First Thomas & Friends Railway Oaks Manufacturer: Mattel Cost: £44.99

Galt 0161 428 9111

Location: Cheshire

Galt is presenting a new range of preschool toys in its Ambi range, that will promote learning through play. Added to the range this year, Colour Bell is a stacking toy with a difference - it becomes a fun hand bell for little ones to ring. Start by stacking the different coloured rings on the jingle bell base, then add the easy grip handle and youngsters are delighted with their very own ringing bell. Designed for children 18 months plus, Colour Bell encourages manual dexterity, colour recognition and size grading. Meanwhile the new Pop-Up Pals range helps kids develop hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity. Youngsters will love tapping the buttons with the hammer and watching the matching coloured pop-up pal, with a smiley face, jump up to say hello. Notable for their bright, clean primary colours, the Ambi range will have an instant appeal to babies and toddlers, Ambi toys offers longevity of play, whilst encouraging the skills that kids need to learn. Featured product

Ambi Pop-Up Pals Manufacturer: Galt

46 | toy news | November 2017

46 TN189 Preschool Sector Guide_FINAL.indd 41

10/25/17 12:34




8:41 AM

Puzzle your own retro adventure








12516 VW T1 Campervan 3D Puzzle®, 162pc


Official Licensed Product Sales Hotline 01869 363800


Peppa’s Interactive Playmat


New Refresh

New Mr Tumble Learning Pad

Flip and Learn Phone


Peppa’s Sing & Learn Microphone Peppa’s Alphaphonics™ Campervan

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)



Tel: +44 (0)1295 768078

Advert Placement.indd 1

Learn with Thomas Alphaphonics™

Tel: +44 (0)1353 724140

New Refresh


For media enquiries, please contact:

Ane Olesen:

10/23/17 12:06

Product Guide

Character Options 0161 633 9800

Location: New Maiden

As one of the top toy firms, Character’s preschool offering is anything if not robust. With properties including the likes of Teletubbies, Peppa Pig and Ben & Holly, there’s something for every youngster in the firm’s range. Launching in January is the Peppa Pig PickUp and Play playsets. Designed as a fold-away playset in the shape of Peppa’s face, these sets open up to reveal a classic scene such as the beach or park, with fun sound effects. Also in the Peppa range is the new Collectable Figure & Accessory packs, which will also be at the centre of imaginative play with an assortment of six fun styles for preschoolers to choose from. There’s Peppa with a Dolls house, Nurse Rebecca with a Bag, Artist Candy with an Easel, and many more all in a handy CDU for impulse purchases. Elsewhere, Teletubbies will be saying “ehoh!” with the new Twist and Chime figures range and new styles for the much-loved 8 inch Talking Plush items. Finally, Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom returns to the toy space with new Mini Buggies, boasting an entertaining pull- back-and-go action that will delight little ones for hours. Featured product

Peppa Pig Collectable Figure & Accessory packs Manufacturer: Character Options

GP Flair 0208 643 0320 Location: Sutton

Flair’s portfolio of pre-school toys can be counted on to light up any toy shelf, with a range of colourful products and creative licenses for this season and the New Year. Launching in spring is the exciting new Disney pre-school property, Vampirina. The girly but ghoulish range brings the world of Transylvania to life with a line-up of dolls, figures, plush, role-play and dress up. Everyone’s favourite superhero team PJ Masks is back with a new assortment of products including the Light-Up Figure 2-Pack assortment; the Deluxe 15cm Talking Figures with in-built catchphrases. For ultimate action seekers, look no further than the PJ Masks 16 Piece Deluxe Figure and Accessory Set. Elsewhere, Flair is bringing the world’s most famous mouse into the fray with Mickey and the Roadster Racers range, which allows little ones to build their own custom cars with their favourite Disney icons. Meanwhile, Stickle Bricks promote dexterity and imagination, allowing for endless play opportunities. Featured product

Bat-Tastic Vampirina & Wolfie Manufacturer: GP Flair 48 | toy news | November 2017

48 TN189 Preschool Sector Guide_FINAL.indd 41

10/25/17 14:54

Untitled-1 1 Advert Placement.indd 1

10/17/2017 4:02:37 PM 10/23/17 11:58

TOY Advert NEWS Placement.indd NOV AD 2017 1 - PJ Masks.indd 1

16/10/2017 10/23/17 14:53:06 12:00


Wheel ‘em in They are a staple of active, outdoor play and a sector that is growing ever-stronger each year. Robert Hutchins rounds up the latest big ticket bikes, scooters and ride-on items ahead of the festive season for year-round adventuring

Re:creation 0118 973 6222

Katy Fletcher Senior Brand Manager Location: Camberly

Big wheels and big power continue to be the order of the day with Re:creation’s Razor brand. While Power Core technology continues to bring innovation to the brand’s popular electric scooter range, a demand from older kids and adults has helped drive the expansion of the larger scale push scooter offering this season. Razor’s Power Core hub motor technology has provided amped up power for a high quality, high performance electric scooter range, incorporating E90, E100 and E100S rides in a variety of colourways. The in-house developed technology has delivered increased ride times and speeds as well as reduced maintenance. The latest addition to this range is a bold pink colourway introduction to the E100 line-up. The collection is supported with a year-round marketing campaign ensuring strong exposure on both TV, print and YouTube vlogger partnerships. A growing demand for larger scale kick scooters has seen Razor develop new additions to

join its popular A5 Lux scooter. The latest additions to the ‘big wheel’ offering incorporate exclusive antirattle design, ensuring there is no compromise to the ride as a result of foldability. Among the new launches, the A5 Air features chunky pneumatic tyres, perfect for less than perfect pavements, while the extra-large ten-inch, spoked wheels of the A6 deliver ultimate speed. Evergreens the S Sport push scooters and Beast stunt scooters continue to deliver strong results and offer outstanding value coupled with unrivalled quality and performance. Re:creation will continue to support the Razor brand with a comprehensive marketing programme including a heavyweight PR, digital and TV campaign throughout the final quarter. Featured product

Razor E100 Scooter Manufacturer: Razor

November 2017 | toy news | 51

51 TN189 Bikes Sector Guide Cover_FINAL.indd 59

10/25/17 11:21

Product Guide

Hy-Pro 01582 670 100

YING PICKAVANCE Senior Category Manager Dunstable

The UK’s number one scooter brand, Zinc, now boasts an exciting range of electric scooters each designed to change the way kids and adults alike travel and commute. The new Volt range includes models for beginners and the youngest of riders, right up to the most powerful model of the range, all of which take advantage of developed lead acid battery technology to ensure smooth rides for up to 60 minutes at a time. Keen to meet new market expectations such as value and innovation, Zinc hopes to cater for a variety of abilities and ages with this new range. These five new models reach varying speeds, starting at eight miles/hour for the younger Volt XT model and progressing to the Volt XT3, which reaches an impressive 15mph for bolder riders. All lines feature a thumb trigger for twist and go acceleration, and the XT can also be used as a push scooter, should the battery run out. This means that kids can keep the fun going for longer. The XT1 and XT2, meanwhile, fold for convenient storage, while the XT2 also features a detachable saddle to aid mobility. With extensive marketing campaigns planned for 2018 to support the range, Zinc is hoping its brand will gain significant exposure. The expansion in the Volt range is launched alongside Zinc’s stylish, lithium powered

Smart range – the next generation of twowheeled travel. It’s the brand’s first venture into the upcoming market of hoverboards, debuting with the Smart A in July 2017 and the SmartX, which offers a refreshed and unique design, which launches in November. Furthermore, Hy-Pro is also placing a greater emphasis on safety after spending most of 2016/2017 working closely with trading standards and test centres to show that they take safety seriously and will go above and beyond industry standard requirements. All hoverboards are fully UL certified and electrical safety assured and all electric scooters have undergone rigorous testing. This means that Zinc’s electric products can be launched with confidence and provide retailers with reassurance. Featured product

Zinc SmartX Hoverboard Manufacturer: Zinc

52 | toy news | November 2017

52 TN189 Bikes Sector Guide_FINAL.indd 52

10/23/17 14:21

Product Guide

MV Sports 0121 748 8000 Location: Birmingham

MV Sports has a wide range of scooters, trikes, bikes and accessories in the hottest new licenses and own brand ranges. Rolling in this year is MV’s expanded range of PAW Patrol items, a multi-character tri-scooter, trike, inline scooter, tri-inline skates and toddler skates. New to the range for 2018 is Marshall’s Fightin’ Fire Truck which is packed full of features including a bubble machine hose, forward and reverse gears and flshing lights. Help Catboy, Geko and Owlet save the day with MV’s range of PJ Masks, including a range of scooters, bikes and matching accessories, all featuring cool graphics from the hit TV show. Supporting this is a range of character inspired 3D safety helmets allowing mini superheroes to transform into their favourite masked character. In addition to our evergreen ranges such as Batman, Thomas and Peppa are two new licenses, Rusty Rivets and Nella the Princess Knight. Scooters, bikes and character based products will round out the Rusty Rivets collection while Nella the Princess Knight offers a new range of scooters, bikes and accessories. For older girls, Jojo Siwa and LOL Surprise will feature across folding in-line scooters, helmet, skates and bikes with more to be launched at London Toy Fair. New for the older boy’s market is the Ben 10 range with its iconic black and green colour pallet and graphics. Look out for the Omnitrix Scooter in Q1. That’s not all, so keep an eye out for our new ranges such as Justice League, Transformers, Infinity Wars and Miraculous.

Featured product

PAW Patrol Tri-Scooter Manufacturer: MV Sports

Jura Toys 07841 022 624

MICHELLE PROBERT Sales and marketing manager Location: London

New for 2018, Jura Toys introduces the Janod Bickloon Racing Balance Bike, a wooden push bike that is designed to teach kids how to ride in their earliest of years. The bike combines a retro design with a modern style to create a sturdy toy for your child to ride on, allowing them to be the coolest kid on the block with this wooden BMX. Boys and girls can get a head start learning how to ride a bicycle without the use of training wheels. The ride-on bike is lightweight at 6.4 pounds and features inflatable tyres, an adjustable height seat, a bell and a detachable bag to carry their favourite books and toys in. All Janod toys are designed in France and manufactured to stringent quality and safety standards, meeting both European and US requirements. The Janod Bickloon Racing Balance Bike measures in at 35.1-inches by 15.25-inches by 23.25-inches and weighs 65 pounds. The balance bike is recommended for children aged three to six years. Featured product

Janod Bickloon Racing Balance Bike Manufacturer: Janod November 2017 | toy news | 53

53 TN189 Bikes Sector Guide_FINAL.indd 53

10/25/17 16:29

Product Guide

Plum Products 01522 737126

WILL NICKELL Accounts Exec Lincolnshire

Plum has an exclusive UK and Ireland distribution deal with Globber Scooters, an international brand widely recognised for its innovation and design. With over 29 years of experience in outdoor toys, Plum provides the tools for active imaginations to flourish and grow, encouraging a life at play. Plum now offers the full range from Globber with scooters for all ages, from beginner riders to urban transport for Millennials. The Globber Elite Scooter is an innovative pre-school to school kid scooter which brings a fun riding experience for children aged three years and upwards. The scooter features a unique design and exclusive folding function, making the scooter easy to pull along, carry and store away. The three-wheel Globber scooter features an adjustable height T-bar with a pushpin feature with four height settings. The adjustable handlebar allows the scooter to grow with the child for extended play value and is recommended for children up to eight years. A sturdy low deck with a reinforced structure ensures a stable and safe ride for children. The handlebar grips have been ergonomically designed to provide safety and comfort for the rider. A large rear brake provides an increased braking performance for users to take advantage of.

The Globber Elite features two steering functions designed to help children progressively learn how to balance and steer the scooter. The spring-assisted steering helps the scooter to turn when the user shifts their weight from one side to another. The steering lock button on the front deck locks the wheels into place as children develop and learn how to scoot. Depress the button to unlock and allow free steering for the child. The Globber Elite is available in a wide range of fun colours. The scooter is also available with LED flashing wheels powered by kinetic energy and flashing panel promising a longer life, lighting up blue, red and green. Featured product

The Globber Elite Scooter Manufacturer: Globber

54 | toy news | November 2017

54 TN189 Bikes Sector Guide_FINAL.indd 54

10/23/17 14:33


Folds for easy storage thumb trigger TWIST ‘N’ GO ACCELERATION MAINTENANCE FREE MOTOR



For further information on the range please contact Ying Pickavance or call +44 01582 670 100

Advert Placement.indd 1

10/10/17 16:33


Industry moves It’s another eventful month for industry pundits as the Christmas season looms overhead. Mattel sees a new CFO join the firm this month, while HTI’s bolsters its sales team. HTI

Mattel The firm has replaced its chief financial officer KEVIN FARR, with veteran JOSEPH EUTENEUER (pictured), who joins the toy giant following a stint at Sprint Corp. Meanwhile, Mattel has also confirmed the appointment of SVEN GERJETS as chief technology officer, AMY THOMPSON as chief people officer and NANCY ELDER as chief communication officer as it continues to bolster its executive leadership team. The new hires will work closely with CEO MARGO GEORGIADIS and the Mattel leadership team to support the company's ongoing transformation strategy focused on delivering enhanced and sustainable growth for this year and beyond.

JOHN CARLAW has joined the firm, stepping into the role of senior national accounts manager which will see his 17 years retail experience at firms including Tesco and M&S brought to the team this year. CLARE FINLEY has returned to the team as national account manager after previous roles at Worlds Apart and The Design Company, bringing over 20 years of experience with her. Elsewhere, ANDREA LENEHAN has secured a promotion to senior national account manager after developing her account base within the company's national account team, Further additions to the firm’s product team include DANIELLE GORNER, HANNAH BOOTH and LILY CHADWICK. Meanwhile EMMA PILGRIM has been promoted to junior product manager for wheeled toys, while LEANNE HASLAM has earned a promotion to the position of junior product manage for licenses, pocket money and bubbles ranges. Tactic Games Finnish board game firm Tactic Games has announced a new sales director for its UK arm in the

form of ROB FORT who will work alongside country director, JEREMY PATEMAN. Fort joins from John Adams Leisure, where he held the position of national account manager, and more recently international sales manager, for almost eight years. “Joining Tactic at such a crucial time in the company’s growth is incredibly exciting," commented Fort. "There’s a real opportunity to build the brand in the UK and I’m confident that our ambitions to attract new retail partners in both the mass and independent spaces will be achieved, especially with the addition of some really interesting new launches. I’m thrilled to be on board and looking forward to a busy year.” Marvin’s Magic TOM HUDSON has been named commercial director at Marvin’s Magic. Hudson brings previous experience with the firm to the table having previously served as retail director before splitting off to found his own distribution company, Toy Buddy in 2015. Hudson will now be amalgamating some of his existing assets and relationships within the Marvin’s Magic brand. “I am incredibly excited to be working with Marvin and hit talented team again,” said Hudson.

56 | toy news | November 2017

56 TN189 Industry-People_FINAL.indd 64

10/25/17 14:55

Team of the month

EDUK8 As one of the top suppliers of STEM toys, Eduk8 is at the forefront of innovation in the toy industry. Here, we sat down with the team to get the latest on their current projects

Please introduce Eduk8

Eduk8 Worldwide Ltd has been a major supplier to the UK (and international) education sector for over 16 years. All our toys have been developed to encourage learning through play, with careful research and design, to meet the current needs of that sector. We have been developing STEM and STEAM toys for a number of years – but these toys have, until recently, only been available for children to play with, in the education sectors and schools.

Who's in the team?

Christine Lawson is our MD, then you have director Roger Walker, non-exec chair Tom Marshall, UK and International sales manager Adrian Leafe, and business development manager Victoria Petrie. Rounding out the team is administrator Sabrina Tweddle, Lisa Claister on admin and accounts, and James Grumette in the warehouse.

What have been your biggest successes of 2017?

We began to offer and develop products specifically for the toy retail market and have found that our range appeals to the retail market looking for something different. We also moved out of our small, cramped office into larger premises, which included a warehouse, which means we are now able to supply the needs of both education and toy retail customers. We restructured the company, and appointed additional staff, to support the growth of the business and demand for Eduk8 products.

exciting project. We are looking forward to showcasing lots of new products in 2018.

What are you working on at the moment?

What are you looking forward to for the rest of the year?

We are about to launch a new, fabulous Eduk8 n Play range for the retail market, and have appointed brand experts, Enspire, to develop the brand identity and design. The company will also be creating all the new packaging and catalogues – ready for the toy fairs in the New Year. Plus a new website which is coming soon. Enspire already works with leading toy brands including LEGO, Leapfrog and Hasbro, so it’s great to be working with them on this

What’s your favourite part of working in the toy industry?

Having worked in the industry but in the education arena for so many years, it’s exciting to be able to share our products with retail now. We are enjoying talking with retailers, especially about our STEAM ranges as we are able to help pioneer and co-create this category for them.

Launching our Eduk8 n Play™ range, new catalogue and product ranges, ready in time for the toy fairs early next year. We’ll be at Hong Kong, Nuremberg and London so do pop by our stand and say hello.

Who makes the tea?

Well, we all do of course chip in,with tea making duties, but it always seems to taste better when it’s made by someone else for you, don't you think? November 2017 | toy news | 57

57 TN189 MeetTheTeam_FINAL.indd 65

10/25/17 12:39


POWER PISSED This month ToyNews' sister site honoured the most influential names in the industry. And by 'honoured', we mean 'got proper smashed'

CONTACT US NewBay Media Europe Ltd, The Emerson Building, 4th Floor, 4-8 Emerson Street, London SE1 9DU Editorial: 0207 354 6017 Advertising: 0207 354 6000 Web: Print subscriptions: To subscribe to ToyNews please go to http://www. Should you have any questions please email UK: £50 Europe: £60 Rest of World: £90 FAQ’s can be found develop/ FAQ’s. Please note that this is a controlled circulation title and subscription criteria will be strictly adhered to. NewBay Subscriptions The Emerson Building, 4-8 Emerson Street, London SE1 9DU. Email: ToyNews is published 11 times a year by NewBay Media Europe Ltd, The Emerson Building, 4th Floor, 4-8 Emerson Street, London SE1 9DU

NewBay Media Europe Ltd is a member of the Periodical Publishers Association

magine a room full of the most attractive industry professionals ever to grace the halls of the Kensington Olympia Pizza Express enjoying beer, wine and pizza all in service of 'networking.' You've just imagined the Power List party... after we were four or five beers in. Yes on the opening night of Brand Licensing Expo, we gathered together some of the biggest names in the licensing arena to enjoy a night of drunken debauchery, with a few awards thrown in for good measure. The big winners of the night were Spin Master for evergreen children's franchise PAW Patrol, V&A Enterprises for their efforts in the art and design space, Manchester United in the sports category and of course, The LEGO Company for continuing to dominate in construction toys. In the drunken haze many impromptu licensing deals were struck, with a choice few raising eyebrows. With so many creative ideas in the air, it got us thinking about some of the licensing deals we


would love to see happen. Imagine for a moment Mary Berry (who ranked 18th on our top brands list)rubbing shoulders with the likes of Playboy Enterprises (#15). Or perhaps the muscle-bound athletes of the WWE (#2 on our sports list), sharing a wine with, say, Mary Berry? While this may have turned into the pitch for a TV show in which national treasure Mary Berry is placed in increasingly wacky and unpredictable situations, the point is this: the night was hotbed of excitement and productivity. Much like the party, the show itself went off without a hitch... if you can forgive the excessive lines on the first day. Geek culture was out in force, as the show saw an increased prescense for gaming brands as well as manga properties quietly gaining interest from attendees throughout the show's three day run, all hoping to land a spot on 2018's prestigious Power List. Now, if you'll excuse us, we'll get back to perfecting our pitch for 'Mary's Weird Weekends.' Channel 5 are gonna eat this up...

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

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

Media Partner

Exclusive Media Partner

58 | toy news | November 2017

58 TN189 Anonymous_vFINAL.indd 66

10/25/17 17:25

© 17 20 i Sp n te as

M A r. ig

Ha sb ro

ll R

20 17 ©


20 17

d ve

Ha sb ro

er es sR


© A G

M t En er en

inm ta .

c In t,


Global creators of books and books+, with best in-class licensed brands

™ & © DC Comics. (s17) 01225 478888

Batman ™ & © DC cs





20 17

20 17 M AR M VE AR L VE L

7) s1


Advert Placement.indd 1

10/24/17 14:27

Advert Placement.indd 1

10/10/17 16:33

Toynews November 2017  

The November issue of ToyNews is here to read online now. This month, we sit down with the industry’s answer to marmite, MGA Entertainment’...

Toynews November 2017  

The November issue of ToyNews is here to read online now. This month, we sit down with the industry’s answer to marmite, MGA Entertainment’...