Page 1

®


ARTS ‘N CRAFTS: DIY CRAFT KITS AND COMPOUNDS BOOST THE CATEGORY

TOTY 2018: CAST YOUR VOTE FOR TOY OF THE YEAR

TOYS BASED ON YOUTUBERS RACK UP THE LIKES


DECEMBER/JANUARY 2019 Volume 34, No. 6 — Published by Adventure Publishing Group

Jackie Breyer Group Publisher jackie@toybook.com

DEPARTMENTS 9

Editor’s Viewpoint

10 Stat Shot 11 Industry Update 12 ASTRA’s Insights 13 Sweet Suite 2019

Maddie Michalik Managing Editor maddie@toybook.com

14 Toy Association Update 50 Talking Social Media 64 WIT Stories 66 Marketing Memo

70 Outside the Box 73 Industry Marketplace 74 Flashback: December/ January 1999

A Guide to the Nominees for the Toy of the Year Awards

35 70 Years of the Spielwarenmesse

Spielwarenmesse CEO Ernst Kick discusses how tradition meets the future as the trade fair celebrates its 70th anniversary.

40 Totally Tubular YouTuber Toys

YouTube influencers are getting their own toys, including new products from Ryan ToysReview, LaurDIY, and more.

42 What’s New in Arts ‘n Crafts

DIY craft kits and innovative compounds give the category a boost.

the rubie’s insider 54 Q&A with Howard Beige

Rubie’s EVP discusses last Halloween’s successes and his predictions for 2019.

58 Product Preview: Imagine by Rubie’s

The Newest Costumes for YearRound Dress Up and Imaginative Play

59 Product Preview: Rubie’s Pet Shop Boutique Get the family pet into character with pop cultureinspired costumes.

On the Cover: Plasticine from Kahootz Toys

Ali Mierzejewski Senior Editor ali@toybook.com Jacqueline Cucco Associate Editor jc@toybook.com

Victoria Rosenthal Editorial Assistant victoria@toybook.com

16 TOTY Awards

What’s New for the Toy Show’s Big 70th Anniversary

Marissa DiBartolo Senior Editor marissa@toybook.com

Madeleine Buckley Editorial Assistant mbuckley@toybook.com

features 34 Spielwarenmesse 2019

®

44 Getting Crafty with Activities in 2019

Miranda Siwak Editorial Assistant miranda@toybook.com

New Arts and Crafts Kits for Kids to Embrace Their Creative Sides

Joe Ibraham Art Director joe@toybook.com

61 Everything to Know About Winning a TOTY

Bill Reese Production Director bill@toybook.com

Wendy Smolen shares what it takes to win a Toy of the Year Award.

62 What’s Next for ZURU

CEO and Co-Founder Nick Mowbray shares advice for new entrepreneurs and discusses the future of the company.

Patrick Kennerly Account Executive patrick@toybook.com Lori Rubin Controller/Office Manager lrubin@adventurepub.com U.S. Corporate Headquarters Laurie Schacht President laurie@toybook.com Adventure Publishing Group, Inc.® 307 7th Avenue, #1601, New York, NY 10001 Phone: (212) 575-4510 • Fax: (212) 575-4521 The Toy Book Volume 34, No. 6 THE TOY BOOK (ISSN-0885-3991) is published bi-monthly by Adventure Publishing Group, Inc.® Editorial and advertising offices are located at 307 Seventh Ave., Room 1601, New York, NY 10001, Phone (212) 575-4510. Periodicals Postage paid at New York and additional mailing offices. Copyright © 2018 Adventure Publishing Group, Inc.® All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. Printed in USA. Subscription rates: $48 one year, foreign $200. The Toy Book is a trademark of Adventure Publishing Group, Inc.® Registered in the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Postmaster: Send address changes to: Toy Book, c/o Adventure Publishing Group, 307 Seventh Ave., Room 1601, New York, NY 10001 or e-mail bill@toybook.com. Opinions and comments expressed in this publication by editors, contributing writers, or solicited or unsolicited documents are not necessarily those of the management of The Toy Book.

Ghostbusters Pet Costume by Rubie’s Pet Shop Boutique

Member, International Toy Magazine Association


EDITOR’S VIEWPOINT

HERE’S TO A NEW YEAR OF PLAY! by MADDIE MICHALIK, managing editor IT’S A NEW YEAR, AND YOU MAY RECOGNIZE a new face on this page. Spoiler alert: It’s me! If you don’t recognize my name from my insane amounts of product requests for broadcast TV segments or asking for editorial submissions for our issues, let me introduce myself to you as the new managing editor of The Toy Book. In case you missed our recent announcement, Jackie Breyer, former editor-in-chief of our magazine for 12 years, was named group publisher. I know I have big shoes to fill, and I am honored to be entrusted with a magazine that has been the No. 1 source to keep the toy industry informed for the past 35 years. I joined the Toy Book team nearly five years ago as an intern. Graduating with degrees in journalism and political science, I never thought I would end up in the lively and fast-paced toy industry. It’s truly a special and inspiring place to be, and I’m so thrilled to be part of this invigorating industry. So much of the industry is different since I first started my career in the magical world of toys. YouTube, for instance, wasn’t around when I was growing up, and it certainly wasn’t as relevant five years ago as it is today. In the past couple of years, new marketing strategies involving influencers and YouTube creators affected how the industry operates today (see more on how you can navigate these partnerships on page 50!), and toy companies are feverishly keeping up. If you want to find out how manufacturers rack in the likes and keep up with those new, evolving demands—and see how an 8-year-old kid named Ryan is opening toys on his YouTube channel Ryan ToysReview and making millions of dollars from it—then flip over to page 40. Ryan and other YouTubers are getting their own consumer products programs, and while this isn’t the first time companies made products in tandem with what’s viral or popular online, it’s interesting to see the future of such product lines based on the likeness of these YouTube personalities. The Ryan’s World toy line from Bonkers Toys, for example, performed extremely well

this past holiday season, so I could see its success paving the way for similar products with different influencers and YouTubers down the line. We could also thank YouTube for the rise in the activities category in 2018. While slime videos first went viral in 2017 as kids clamored to make their own squishy, gooey compounds, another large contributor to the growth of the category was DIY slime kits, such as those from Horizon Group USA, WeCool Toys, and Cra-Z-Art. Activities performed 13 percent better in 2018 after being down 11 percent during the same period the year before, according to the NPD Group—and DIY slime was a big part of this boost in sales. Deep dive into the activities category trends and see new products for the year on page 42! It was also a compelling year because we just passed the first holiday season without Toys “R” Us, while other retailers seriously stepped up their games to battle it out for those toy sales. Order a package from Amazon and you’ll receive it on your doorstep within hours; Walmart dubbed itself “America’s Best Toy Shop;” eBay released its firstever holiday catalog; and Target doubled its toy offerings and remodeled more than 100 stores’ permanent toy departments. This isn’t even including the specialty retailers, boutiques, and surprise places such as grocery stores that are now carrying toys. We’ll just have to wait and see how the industry fared once Q4 numbers come through. And as another year ends, the industry gets to celebrate with the prestigious Toy of

the Year (TOTY) Awards. I always look forward to seeing what toys will get the coveted nominations in each category. We put together a special voting section that features each and every toy and license that is up for a TOTY award, so check it on page 16. Make sure to cast your vote on toyawards.org—the industry is counting on you! I sincerely hope you enjoy this issue of The Toy Book, and I welcome any feedback and thoughts on our issue. We have a lot of more exciting changes that are coming in 2019, and we’ll share those with you soon. See you in February! » Maddie Michalik is the managing editor of The Toy Book and senior editor at the Pop Insider. She reports on new products and toy industry trends, and has been featured in broadcast TV stations in the U.S. and Canada. Contact her at maddie@toybook.com.

toybook.com | DECEMBER/JANUARY 2019 | THE TOY BOOK   9


STAT SHOT

5

3

Arts and Crafts

in the U.S.

Arts and Crafts

in the U.S.

1. Play-Doh 2. Crayola 3. Cra-Z-Art 4. Kinetic 5. Melissa & Doug

Play-Doh Classic Colors

1. Theme Assortment (Hasbro) Model Magic 4 oz. Assortment

2. (Crayola)

Play-Doh Single Tub

3. (Hasbro)

Jan. to Aug. 2018 vs. last year The total U.S. toy industry grew 3 percent Jan. to Aug. 2018 vs. YAG. Arts and Crafts grew 7 percent, more than two times faster than the total market.

$402

$415

$388

+7%

-3%

Jan. - Aug. 2016

Jan. - Aug. 2017

Jan. - Aug. 2018

Dollars ($MM)

The NPD Group/Retail Tracking Service/Jan-Aug 2018/Adjusted Dollars

10

THE TOY BOOK | DECEMBER/JANUARY 2019 | toybook.com


INDUSTRY UPDATE Photo: Richard Cadan

NEW FAO FLAGSHIP STORE OPENS IN NEW YORK CITY FAO Schwarz opened its new flagship location in New York City on Nov. 16. The toy store, located at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, spans two and a half levels. It features more than 20,000 square feet of signature toys, interactive experiences, and shops. The in-store experiences include the FAO Raceway, where shoppers can work alongside trained mechanics to build R/C cars piece-bypiece; an FAO Schwarz baby doll adoption; and FAO Schweetz, featuring more than 2,150 square feet of candy installations operated by candy retailer IT’SUGAR. The flagship location also brings back the iconic giant piano and FAO clock tower. The store has more than 140 hand-picked employees, and will host events and programming starting this year. »

TOY ASSOCIATION TO INDUCT THREE MEMBERS INTO HALL OF FAME The Toy Association will induct the late Stan Lee, former chairman of Marvel Comics; Brian Goldner, CEO of Hasbro; and the late Joe Mendelsohn, former president of Kenner Products, into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame during the Toy of the Year Awards gala on Feb. 15, 2019. These individuals were selected in recognition of their significant contributions to the industry, and the impact they have had on kids’ lives through a lifelong commitment to toys and play. The Hall of Fame has 76 inductees since 1984 and resides at The Strong Museum in Rochester, NY. »

PLAYMONSTER EXPANDS PRODUCT ASSORTMENT

PlayMonster lauched two games and two outdoor play products, which will be available early this year. Orangutwang, designed for two or more players ages 4 and up, features two palm trees connected with string and an oragutan hanging from it. Players take turns rolling a die to see which piece— banana, bat, gekko, etc.—they must hang off the oragutan. The player whose piece overloads the monkey loses the game. In Mad Moves, an active play game for

kids ages 8 and up, players perform a type of dance as a different person or animal. The spinner plays music and the other players try to guess what the dancer is imitating. In outdoor play, PlayMonster recieved U.S. distribution rights for Free Wheelin’ Rider Sport, a convertible balance bike made in the Czech Republic. The bike features adjustible height and three-to-two wheel conversion, so it grows with kids. PlayMonster also introduces its first pool game, Aqua Diver. In this take on dive sticks, kids race to retreive Aqua Diver, a colorful squid, from underwater. The squid features a water-activated timer, so kids can race each other or themselves for the fastest time. »

WREBBIT LAUNCHES NEW GAME OF THRONES PUZZLES

Wrebbit Puzzles entered a two-year, worldwide licensing agreement with HBO Licensing and Retail to produce 3-D puzzles of Winterfell and Red Keep from the Game of Thrones TV series. The puzzles will be available early this year. »

CRA-Z-ART NAMED AS A RAINBOW RANGERS LICENSING PARTNER

Genius Brands International secured four new licensing partners for Rainbow Rangers,

the Nick Jr. animated preschool show. The new licensing deals include Cra-Z-Art for crafts and activities, Esquire Footwear, Integrity Vitamins, and Townley Girl. These new licensees join more than 25 other partners for the brand, including Mattel as master toy partner. »

HASBRO INTRODUCES CAPTAIN MARVEL PRODUCT LINES Hasbro will release a line of toys and figures to correspond with the release of Marvel Studio’s Captain Marvel. The toy line, which includes a Photon Power FX Glove and four different Captain Marvel dolls, will be available in March. There will also be five Marvel Legends figures for the movie–three of Captain Marvel, one of Talos, and one of Nick Fury. The Marvel Legends figures will be available Hasbro’s Captain Marvel doll with Marvel’s Goose in the spring. » STAY CONNECTED!

@ToyBook

toybook.com | DECEMBER/JANUARY 2019 | THE TOY BOOK

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ASTRA’S INSIGHTS

CAN YOU SPARE A COUPLE OF HOURS?

Learn to benchmark your store in 2019 to help create aggregated performance data for your business. by KIMBERLY MOSLEY, president, American Specialty Toy Retailing Association

THE RESULTS ARE IN. 2017 YEAR-OVERyear sales growth hit a five-year high at 7.9 percent. Net profit margin showed a healthy increase: 6.4 percent in 2017, up from 5 percent in 2016. Total operating expenses continued a decreasing trend to land at the lowest percent of sales in five years. These are some topline numbers from the 2018 retail benchmarking survey of retailers who are members of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA). Each year, ASTRA hires an independent third-party survey research and analytics firm—Industry Insights Inc. of Columbus, Ohio—to conduct this study. Participating ASTRA retailers who provide selected balance sheet, income statement, and point-of-sale (POS) system data, all kept confidential, receive a complimentary business analysis that compares their store’s performance against other ASTRA stores based on scores of metrics. “ASTRA members are known for their generosity in sharing information and ideas,” says Linda Hays, owner of Hopscotch Toys and Games in McMinnville, Ore. “Those onestore owner-to-another conversations are an extremely helpful way to compare notes in an everyday experience sense. The benchmarking survey adds another dimension to the ways ASTRA retailers help each other by giving us aggregated performance data that smooths out differences in individual stores.” Mary Sisson, owner of Kazoodles Toy Store in Vancouver, Wash., admits that the report she receives each year sometimes spotlights weaknesses in her store that is news to her. “The results are not always pretty, but I’ve always learned from them and acted on them,” Sisson says. “For example, the survey typically showed that my occupancy expenses were high. The last time I renegotiated my lease, I presented ASTRA benchmark data to my landlord and guess what? I successfully reduced my rent!” Sue Warfield, ASTRA’s director of member

12

relations, notes that ASTRA never sees any data from individual stores. “It’s completely private and your responses never come through ASTRA’s hands,” Warfield says. “Anyone who gets a copy of the report—and that includes ASTRA—sees only the aggregate data.” The next benchmarking survey will land in retailer’s inboxes during the second quarter of next year. “Chances are, it’s simpler than you think to complete it,” Warfield says. Here are some tips for getting it done, so you can look forward to your free business analysis: Put it on your calendar now. Block out time in late April or early May. Most individuals can complete the survey in a couple of hours or less. While you are at it, Sisson suggests, put an appointment with yourself on the calendar in September to spend a few thoughtful hours with the results. This will set you on the path to use your time wisely and participate in the survey. Focus on the value of the results. “Minor tweaks in your business can make major differences in your bottom line,” Hays says. “If that’s not motivating enough, think about what you can do when you have that report in your back pocket, such as take it to the bank if you are looking to get a loan for expanding your business.” Understand the numbers needed. “If you have a POS system, it’s a piece of cake to complete the survey,” Hays says. “The numbers you need are already in there and on your balance sheet and income statement. Don’t overthink it.” Let Industry Insights fill it out for you. Industry Insights thought of ways to make the survey faster to complete. Here’s a big one: Let them enter your data. Just send your balance sheet and income statement

THE TOY BOOK | DECEMBER/JANUARY 2019 | toybook.com

from your tax return, and they will take it from there. You will still need to enter some information from your POS, but a big chunk of the work will be off your plate if you delegate it to Industry Insights. Interested in seeing the full 2018 benchmarking report? If you didn’t get a free copy following your participation in the survey, you can purchase it on ASTRA’s website. Visit the ASTRA Academy at academy.astratoy.org/ catalog for details. Looking ahead, why not make 2019 the year you check out what the ASTRA benchmarking survey can do for your store? “This member benefit is such a gift from ASTRA,” Sisson says. “If you’re not going to unwrap it and see what you’ve got and do it, you are throwing away something that can be such a valuable service for your store.” » Kimberly Mosley, president of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association, is an experienced, award-winning, results-oriented association executive with a long track record of success in managing association operations, developing innovative programs, and growing revenue.


CELEBRATING 10 YEARS OF SWEET SUITE THE BEST WAY TO REACH INFLUENCERS & PRESS IT’S THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF SWEET Suite, the ultimate toy event connecting top digital influencers and press with the hottest toys coming to market! Taking place on Wednesday, July 24, 2019, Sweet Suite is the most effective way to get your hot new products in front of the most influential consumers and top-tier press in the country. Known as the BIGGEST Night of Play, the event returns to Pier Sixty in New York City. Sweet Suite will welcome more than 350 members of the press, YouTube creators, and digital influencers to connect with more than 80 toy brands to meet face-to-face and get hands-on with the hottest toys and games of the season. Guests will enjoy delicious food and cocktails, all while getting a first look at new product reveals and making new industry connections. Last year at Sweet Suite, guests enjoyed one-on-one time with repre-

sentatives from more than 80 of the hottest kids’ brands and properties on the market, including VTech, LeapFrog, Nintendo, Jazwares, Just Play, Basic Fun!, Crayola, Dynacraft, Hasbro, PlayMonster, Mattel, HEXBUG, Jakks Pacific, LEGO, WowWee, Spin Master, Moose Toys, and many more. Sponsors have already begun to reserve space at Sweet Suite 2019. Enormous swag boxes will also be shipped directly to attendees’ homes after the event, sparking a resurgence in social media impressions and ensuring influencers and journalists have products on-hand to review and share with their followers. The What’s Poppin’ lounge, sponsored by the Pop Insider, also returns this year with a wide array of pop culture products from companies that #fuelyourfandom. Cosplayers and products featuring entertainment brands fans love will fill the lounge with geeky goodness.

Additionally on September 20, the Toy Book team will host the seventh annual HoliDAY of Play event in New York City. At this launch party, members of the media will be the first to see the Toy Book’s Hot 20, Top Tech 12, and STEM 10 hot holiday toy picks, as well as meet with top manufacturers right before the holiday season. This one-of-a-kind cocktail party will welcome traditional press, top lifestyle bloggers, and YouTube personalities to engage with sponsors and experience the top holiday toys. Just in time for a first-look at the hottest holiday toys, HoliDAY of Play is a great place to show off new products and be a part of the first round of holiday shopping coverage. For more information about these events, contact Laurie Schacht (laurie@toybook.com) or Jackie Breyer (jackie@toybook.com). »

toybook.com | DECEMBER/JANUARY 2019 | THE TOY BOOK

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TOY ASSOCIATION UPDATE

THE TOY ASSOCIATION: AT YOUR SERVICE by KRISTIN MORENCY GOLDMAN, communications specialist, The Toy Association YOU’RE PROBABLY ALREADY AWARE that The Toy Association is the trade group representing the interests of nearly 1,000 toy companies across North America, but what does that really mean to you and your company? How does the Association serve the needs of all who are working in the business of toys, play, and youth entertainment?

The Toy Association advocates on behalf of your companies’ and employees’ best interests.” On top of hosting world-renowned go-tomarket events, such as New York Toy Fair and Dallas Fall Toy Preview, The Toy Association advocates on behalf of your companies’ and employees’ best interests in front of federal and global lawmakers, and offers business-building resources and opportunities that are tailor-made for each of the member types we serve. “Whether it’s fighting China trade tariffs, taking on IP and counterfeit threats to toy companies, promoting members’ commitment to product safety, offering invaluable business-building events and education, or advocating for the value of play, we are relentlessly dedicated to protecting and promoting the toy community 365 days a year,” says Steve Pasierb, The Toy Association’s president and CEO. “Our team works across North America and collaborates, travels, and intervenes in issues and standards harmonization opportunities around the world.” Read on to learn more about The Toy Association’s latest initiatives and offerings. INNOVATIVE SMART PACKAGING TOOL Working with Disney to bring its Smart

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Packaging Tool to the broader toy industry, The Toy Association unveiled an exciting new member benefit that will allow companies to determine the environmental impact of their packaging designs, test alternatives, and benchmark the impact of their designs against other products. “The easy-to-use tool will help member companies better assess the impact that product packaging design has on the environment, and will encourage companies to choose more eco-friendly options,” says Alan Kaufman, senior vice president of technical affairs at The Toy Association. “We were very excited to work with Disney to adapt their sustainable packaging tool for our members. We can’t wait for them to try the tool out.”

FIGHTING CHINA TARIFFS AND COUNTERFEIT TOYS The Association remains deeply committed to fighting Section 301 tariffs on toys on a daily basis, advocating to the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and on Capitol Hill to ensure officials understand the negative impact of tariffs on toy companies and jobs. The Toy Association is also part of Americans for Free Trade, a multi-industry coalition that opposes tariffs and highlights the benefits of international trade to the U.S. economy. In the past, The Toy Association staff spoke on behalf of the industry to news media and worked to connect toy companies with reporters so that they can share stories and raise awareness about the harmful impact of tariffs on their businesses. Companies are encouraged to send grassroots letters to federal representatives, join the Americans for Free Trade Coalition, and share their company’s story with The Toy Association to join advocacy efforts. For more information on how to join the fight against tariffs, member companies may email Rebecca Mond, the Association’s vice president of

THE TOY BOOK | DECEMBER/JANUARY 2019 | toybook.com

federal government affairs, at rmond@toyassociation.org. In addition, protecting members’ intellectual property (IP) and fighting against IP infringement online is one of the Association’s core priorities. The Association and its IP Committee worked with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Congress, and representatives from leading e-commerce platforms to raise concerns and explore solutions, with the goal of reducing the number of infringing toys sold online. At the time of print, the Association’s IP Committee was putting final details into an industry-wide paper on the pervasive problems of counterfeit and IP infringing products to encourage the industry and other stakeholders to engage in conversations about solutions.

Protecting members’ intellectual property (IP) and fighting against IP infringement online is one of the Association’s core priorities.”

ONGOING TOYS “R” US BANKRUPTCY GUIDANCE The Toy Association continues to monitor Toys “R” Us case developments and share critical and relevant news with manufacturing members as quickly as possible through Member Alerts via email and Toy News Tuesday, Town Hall conference calls, and a dedicated section on its website. Members with questions regarding the Toys “R” Us bankruptcy may email Paul Vitale, The Toy Association’s executive vice president of


pared, armed with facts and data, and poised to push back against threats toward Association members and their products.”

finance and operations, at creditors@toyassociation.org. SHOPTOYS365 BUILDS ON SUCCESS Toy companies can showcase their products in virtual showrooms with shoptoys365.com, The Toy Association’s digital marketplace. Buyers can browse and source new playthings for their stores while securely placing orders online. ShopToys365 introduced two new companion apps to make the Toy Fair experience more helpful and productive. Leads365 is a mobile app in which users can sync images of business cards and pictures of badges, or scan codes with information already in the system to message those leads instantly on the platform. Suppliers can place orders from anywhere, including their exhibit at Toy Fair, with Orders365 using a mobile app. Given that platform buyers and sellers hail from more than 125 countries, shoptoys365.com will also launch in multiple languages including Mandarin, German, French, and Spanish. “ShopToys365 has more than 650 active suppliers with more than 90,000 products available on the platform,” says Marian Bossard, The Toy Association’s executive vice president of global market events. “We are continually enhancing and developing new platform features to help buyers and sellers with their day-to-day business, and we encourage toy companies and retailers to learn more about how this valuable tool can help them.” Importantly, shoptoys365.com is creating a Buyer Advisory Board to help build additional features and functionality that will help toy buyers in their everyday business. “Our ultimate goal is for shoptoys365.com

to become a part of a buyer’s everyday life. In order to do that we want buyers to tell us how we can improve the platform to meet their needs,” adds Bossard. ShopToys365 will host a breakfast for its new advisory board at New York Toy Fair in February. To participate in the advisory board or to learn more about the platform, contact Scott Evans at scotte@ballunn.com.

The Toy Association proactively communicates members’ commitment to product safety and helping families keep their kids safe at play.”

PROTECTING MEMBERS AGAINST FALSE SAFETY ALLEGATIONS Especially during the holidays, The Toy Association proactively communicates members’ commitment to product safety and helping families keep their kids safe at play. At the time of print, the Association was gearing up for the annual “toy hunting season,” in which NGO groups, including W.A.T.C.H. (World Against Toys Causing Harm) and U.S. P.I.R.G., release their annual “dangerous toy lists.” “The realities of our highly-regulated, testing-intensive, safety-focused U.S. industry means these annual lists do nothing more than create unwarranted consumer fear, stoke countless distressing media stories, and yet do not result in any toy recalls,” says Pasierb. “Rest assured our team is already well-pre-

PRODUCT PROMOTION The Toy Association’s trend team frequently appears on broadcast TV segments in major markets to promote the industry and highlight members’ toys and games. Products are also highlighted in various domestic and international trade magazines, aligning toys on the market with the Association’s annual hot toy trends of the year. As of Sept. 30, more than 250 unique products from 145 companies were featured in articles for trade magazines year to date, while 75 products from 59 companies were featured in broadcast segments. “At Toy Fair, The Toy Association will once again announce its hot toy trends during an audience-packed session on day two of the show,” says Adrienne Appell, trend expert at The Toy Association. “Once the trends are revealed, they will be worked into our media messaging for 2019, and we will be looking for innovative and playful toys and games that showcase the benefit of play to consumers.” Toy and game suggestions may be sent to Laurie Chartorynsky at lchartorynsky@toyassociation.org. All products must be available at retail and new for 2019. Preference for all media opportunities is given to Association members. As The Toy Association’s membership base expands and the industry evolves, so do their exclusive, members-only offerings. To stay in the loop about everything that’s happening at your Association, visit www.toyassociation.org, where you can also sign-up for its free weekly e-newsletter, Toy News Tuesday. Follow them on Facebook at TheToyAssociation and Twitter @TheToyAssoc. » As The Toy Association’s senior communications specialist, Kristin Morency Goldman leads the development of content for the Association’s print and online communications. Her articles on toy trends, toy safety, and industry news can be found in trade and consumer publications around the world. She holds a Master’s degree in media, culture, and communications from NYU.

toybook.com | DECEMBER/JANUARY 2019 | THE TOY BOOK

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THE TOY ASSOCIATION unveiled the 123 finalists for the prestigious 2019 Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards. Known as the Oscars of the toy industry, the TOTY Awards program recognizes the top toy, game, and licenses in the industry, and supports children in need by serving as a critical fundraiser for The Toy Foundation. “If you’re wondering what to get the kids and ‘kidults’ in your life this holiday season, this year’s TOTY finalists are the hottest toys and games on the market. Whether you are looking for a doll, a board game, or the latest youth electronics, you’ll find great gift ideas for children of all ages. Every one of the TOTY finalists has been carefully screened by judges for its outstanding ability to deliver joy and wonder, while facilitating key developmental benefits of play,” says Steve Pasierb, The Toy Association’s president and CEO. “Importantly, the TOTY Awards program supports The Toy Foundation’s important mission focused on serving children in need—whether they are living in foster care, impoverished, deal-

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THE TOY BOOK | DECEMBER/JANUARY 2019 | toybook.com

ing with a traumatic or life-threatening illness, or facing other adversities,” adds Pasierb. More than 200 companies of all sizes submitted more than 550 nominees. Nineteen judges—including toy and play experts, retailers, academics, and journalists—reviewed and ranked the products in specific categories relevant to their areas of expertise. The judges then participated in a live discussion to determine the finalists in each category. They considered each product’s creativity, design, play value, and marketing. Consumers are also able to vote for their favorite playthings on toyawards.org. One winner in each category—as well as the coveted Toy of the Year award winner and the People’s Choice winner (based solely on consumer votes)—will be announced at the TOTY Awards gala on Friday, Feb. 15 at the Ziegfeld Ballroom in New York City. The celebration will kick-off the 116th North American International Toy Fair and will include the induction of toy industry trailblazers into the esteemed Toy Industry Hall of Fame. »


CONSTRUCTION

TOY OF THE YEAR

NOMINEES INCLUDE:

«

GRAVITRAX STARTER SET (RAVENSBURGER)

«

LEGO HARRY POTTER HOGWARTS GREAT HALL (LEGO)

«

LEGO STAR WARS KESSEL RUN MILLENNIUM FALCON (LEGO)

«

SNAP CIRCUITS BRIC: STRUCTURES (ELENCO)

«

GEARS! GEARS! GEARS! MACHINES IN MOTION (LEARNING RESOURCES)

MARBLEOCITY TRIPLE PLAY « ARCHIMEDES SCREW (PLAYMONSTER) «

GEOSMART FLIP BOT (SMART TOYS AND GAMES)

GAME

OF THE YEAR

NOMINEES INCLUDE:

«

RELATIVE INSANITY (PLAYMONSTER)

«

DISNEY VILLAINOUS GAME BY WONDER FORGE (RAVENSBURGER)

«

DR. BISCUITS’ RADICAL ROAD TRIP (GAME NIGHT IN A CAN)

«

UNSTABLE UNICORNS (TEETURTLE)

«

VOICE ORIGINALS: WHEN IN ROME (SENSIBLE OBJECT)

«

FRYIN FLYIN DONUTS (MAYA TOYS)

«

MONSTER MATCH (NORTH STAR GAMES)

18

THE TOY BOOK | DECEMBER/JANUARY 2019 | toybook.com

LEGO Harry Potter Hogwarts Great Hall

GeoSmart Flip Bot


INFANT/TODDLER

TOY OF THE YEAR

NOMINEES INCLUDE:

«

HEXBUG CUDDLEBOTS GARDEN CAROUSEL (HEXBUG)

«

KID O HUDSON GLOW RATTLE (PLAYMONSTER)

«

SPIKE THE FINE MOTOR HEDGEHOG (LEARNING RESOURCES)

«

LEARNING FRIENDS 100 WORDS BOOK (LEAPFROG)

«

GRIPPIES SHAKERS—30-PIECE SET (GUIDECRAFT)

«

DOLCE BABY AARDVARK (MAGFORMERS)

«

FISHER-PRICE LAUGH & LEARN SMART LEARNING HOME (MATTEL) Dolce Baby Aardvark

VEHICLE

OF THE YEAR

NOMINEES INCLUDE:

«

LEGO TECHNIC BUGATTI CHIRON (LEGO)

«

VEX ROBOTICS OFFROAD TRUCK (HEXBUG)

«

TERRASECT RC (ALPHA GROUP US)

«

RISE OF THE TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES TURTLE TANK (PLAYMATES TOYS)

«

PAW PATROL ULTIMATE RESCUE FIRE TRUCK (SPIN MASTER & NICKELODEON)

«

NERF NITRO DOUBLECLUTCH INFERNO BLASTER (HASBRO)

«

AUTOMOBLOX BR100 HERCULES (PLAYMONSTER)

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VEX Robotics Offroad Truck

Nerf Nitro DoubleClutch Inferno Blaster


PLAYSET

OF THE YEAR Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 43-inch Epic Sewer Lair Playset

NOMINEES INCLUDE:

«

LEGO CREATOR EXPERT ROLLER COASTER (LEGO)

«

HIDDEN TEMPLE WITH T-REX (PLAYMOBIL)

«

RISE OF THE TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES 43-INCH EPIC SEWER LAIR PLAYSET (PLAYMATES TOYS)

«

DISNEY•PIXAR CARS SUPER TRACK MACK PLAYSET (MATTEL)

«

L.O.L. SURPRISE! HOUSE (MGA ENTERTAINMENT)

«

LEGO JURASSIC WORLD INDORAPTOR RAMPAGE AT LOCKWOOD ESTATE (LEGO)

«

FARM TO TABLE PLAY KITCKEN WITH EZ KRAFT ASSEMBLY (KIDKRAFT)

ACTION FIGURE

Hidden Temple with T-Rex

OF THE YEAR

NOMINEES INCLUDE:

RISE OF THE TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES DELUXE « NINJA ACTION FIGURE ASSORTMENT (PLAYMATES TOYS)

«

TREASURE X (MOOSE TOYS)

«

DJ BUMBLEBEE (HASBRO)

«

MATTEL JURASSIC WORLD DINOSAUR ACTION FIGURES (MATTEL)

«

STIKBOT MONSTERS (ZING)

«

WWE SOUND SLAMMERS FIGURES (MATTEL)

«

POKÉMON 4.5-INCH BATTLE FEATURE FIGURES (WICKED COOL TOYS)

Pokémon 4.5-inch Battle Feature Figures

Stikbot Monsters

22

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PRESCHOOL

TOY OF THE YEAR

NOMINEES INCLUDE:

«

LITTLE TIKES STEM JR. WONDER LAB (MGA ENTERTAINMENT)

«

FISHER-PRICE THINK & LEARN ROCKTOPUS (MATTEL)

«

DISNEY JUNIOR DOC MCSTUFFINS PET RESCUE MOBILE (JUST PLAY)

«

POP OH VER STOVE SET (KANGAROO MANUFACTURING)

«

KID TRAX RIDEAMALS SCOUT (KID TRAX)

«

LEGO DUPLO STEAM TRAIN (LEGO)

«

DESIGN & DRILL SEE THROUGH CREATIVE WORKSHOP (EDUCATIONAL INSIGHTS)

Design & Drill See Through Creative Workshop

Kid Trax Rideamals Scout

ROOKIE

OF THE YEAR

NOMINEES INCLUDE:

«

TURING TUMBLE (TURING TUMBLE)

«

OLLYBALL—THE ULTIMATE INDOOR PLAY BALL! (VICTURY SPORTS)

«

TIC TAC TONGUE (YULU)

«

MATCH THE BABY PUZZLES (BANANA PANDA)

«

MONSTERS LOCK BOX (TENDER LEAF TOYS)

«

WHAT THE FILM?! (LETHAL CHICKEN GAMES)

«

MASSIVE MONSTER MAYHEM BASH WEAPONS (ALPHA GROUP US) Massive Monster Mayhem Bash Weapons

24

THE TOY BOOK | DECEMBER/JANUARY 2019 | toybook.com


PLUSH

OF THE YEAR

NOMINEES INCLUDE:

« POMSIES (SKYROCKET) « SCRUFF-A-LUVS (MOOSE TOYS) « FINGERLINGS HUGS (WOWWEE) « DOLCE AFGHAN HOUND (MAGFORMERS) « RESCUE RUNTS (KD KIDS) «

STAR WARS ULTIMATE CO-PILOT CHEWIE (HASBRO)

«

GUND FLORA BUNNY ANIMATED PLUSH (SPIN MASTER)

« RAINBOCORNS (ZURU)

SPECIALTY

Fingerlings Hugs

TOY OF THE YEAR

NOMINEES INCLUDE:

«

LEGO HARRY POTTER HOGWARTS CASTLE (LEGO)

«

MARBLES OTRIO (SPIN MASTER)

«

HEXBUG RING RACER (HEXBUG)

«

CHICKAPIG (BUFFALO GAMES)

«

LEGO STAR WARS BETRAYAL AT CLOUD CITY (LEGO)

«

PEPPER MINT IN THE GREAT TREEHOUSE ENGINEERING ADVENTURE (THAMES & KOSMOS)

«

GUND SUPER PUSHEENICORN (SPIN MASTER)

«

GEOSAFARI JR. TALKING TELESCOPE (EDUCATIONAL INSIGHTS)

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THE TOY BOOK | DECEMBER/JANUARY 2019 | toybook.com

Gund Super Pusheenicorn


TECH

TOY OF THE YEAR

NOMINEES INCLUDE:

«

HARRY POTTER KANO CODING KIT (KANO)

«

CREATIVE CODER (TECH WILL SAVE US)

«

KIDS FIRST CODING & ROBOTICS (THAMES & KOSMOS)

«

LEAPSTART 3D LEARNING SYSTEM (LEAPFROG)

«

REALLY RAD ROBOTS: MIBRO (MOOSE TOYS)

«

ARCADE1UP (TASTEMAKERS LLC)

«

VEX BALANCING BOXING BOT 2-PACK (HEXBUG) Arcade1Up

DOLL

OF THE YEAR

NOMINEES INCLUDE:

«

HAIRDORABLES (JUST PLAY)

«

L.O.L. SURPRISE! EYE SPY SERIES UNDER WRAPS (MGA ENTERTAINMENT)

«

DREAMWORKS SPIRIT RIDING FREE DELUXE SPIRIT WALKING HORSE (JUST PLAY)

«

BARBIE ROBOTICS ENGINEER DOLL (MATTEL)

«

BARBIE IBTIHAJ MUHAMMAD DOLL (MATTEL)

«

MY FRIEND FANCY NANCY DOLL (JAKKS PACIFIC)

«

CRY BABIES (IMC TOYS)

My Friend Fancy Nancy Doll

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LICENSE

OF THE YEAR

NOMINEES INCLUDE:

«

JURASSIC WORLD FALLEN KINGDOM (LEGO)

«

L.O.L. SURPRISE! (MGA ENTERTAINMENT)

«

MARVEL BLACK PANTHER (THE WALT DISNEY CO.)

«

HOT WHEELS (MATTEL)

«

HATCHIMALS (SPIN MASTER)

«

PEPPA PIG (ENTERTAINMENT ONE)

«

PJ MASKS (ENTERTAINMENT ONE)

LEGO Jurassic World Indoraptor Rampage at Lockwood Estate

L.O.L. Surprise! Eye Spy Series

Peppa Pig Transforming Campervan

PJ Masks Super Moon Adventure HQ Rocket

HatchiBabies

Imagine by Rubie’s Black Panther 2-in-1 Reversible Costume Top Set Hot Wheels Ultimate Gator Car Wash Play Set

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COLLECTIBLE

OF THE YEAR

NOMINEES INCLUDE:

«

L.O.L. SURPRISE! EYE SPY SERIES (MGA ENTERTAINMENT)

«

LEGO HARRY POTTER AND FANTASTIC BEASTS MINIFIGURE SERIES (LEGO)

«

TWISTY PETZ (SPIN MASTER)

«

BEAKER CREATURES (LEARNING RESOURCES)

«

DISNEY DOORABLES (MOOSE TOYS)

«

POLLY POCKET (MATTEL)

«

PIKMI POPS: PIKMI FLIPS (MOOSE TOYS)

«

LOST KITTIES BLIND BOX MULTI-PACK ASSORTMENT (HASBRO)

CREATIVE

TOY 0F THE YEAR

NOMINEES INCLUDE:

«

AVENGERS HERO INVENTOR KIT (LITTLEBITS)

«

COOL MAKER KUMIKREATOR (SPIN MASTER)

«

ANTSY PANTS BUILD & PLAY KITS (BEACH HOUSE GROUP)

«

THE BIG ENGINEERING MAKERSPACE (THAMES & KOSMOS)

«

SEW + GLOW (TECH WILL SAVE US)

«

BUILDING BRICKS PLAY ‘N STORE TABLE (KIDKRAFT)

«

ROCK AND ROLL IT SPECTRUM DRUM (MUKIKIM)

Antsy Pants Build & Play Kits

Building Bricks Play ‘N Store Table

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THE TOY BOOK | DECEMBER/JANUARY 2019 | toybook.com


INNOVATIVE

TOY OF THE YEAR

NOMINEES INCLUDE: Mystery Flying Snitch

«

LEGEND KIT BY INFENTO (INFENTO)

«

BOTLEY THE CODING ROBOT ACTIVITY SET (LEARNING RESOURCES)

«

MYSTERY FLYING SNITCH (WOW! STUFF)

«

HARRY POTTER WIZARD TRAINING WANDS (JAKKS PACIFIC)

«

SENSORS ALIVE: BRING PHYSICS TO LIFE! (THAMES & KOSMOS)

«

MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES INFINITY GAUNTLET ARTICULATED ELECTRONIC FIST (HASBRO)

«

K’NEX THRILL RIDES: BIONIC BLAST ROLLER COASTER BUILDING SET (K’NEX, A DIVISION OF BASIC FUN!)

K’NEX Thrill Rides: Bionic Blast Roller Coaster Building Set

OUTDOOR

TOY OF THE YEAR

NOMINEES INCLUDE: X-Shot Flying Bug Attack

Razor Turbo Jetts Electric Heel Wheels

«

ROLLPLAY NIGHTHAWK RIDE-ON (ROLLPLAY)

«

MORFBOARD (JAKKS PACIFIC)

«

WATERMELON SMASH (YULU)

«

X-SHOT FLYING BUG ATTACK (ZURU)

«

RAZOR TURBO JETTS ELECTRIC HEEL WHEELS (RAZOR USA)

«

NICKELODEON AUTOMATIC SLIME DRENCHER (JAKKS PACIFIC)

«

GLOVE-A-BUBBLES (ZING)

2018 | THE TOY BOOK toybook.com | DECEMBER/JANUARY 2019

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TIA PERSPECTIVES


SPIELWARENMESSE

70 YEARS OF THE SPIELWARENMESSE Tradition Meets the Future by ERNST KICK, CEO, Spielwarenmesse eG THE SPIELWARENMESSE WILL CELEBRATE its 70th anniversary when it opens its doors from Jan. 30 to Feb. 3. This occasion is a golden opportunity to look back on some of our historical milestones and look into the future. It won’t be long before the white flags with the red rocking horse are fluttering above the towers of Nuremberg’s old city wall. This logo has been our signature trademark since the fair’s early beginnings. The trade fair was established in 1949 by four industry members, including Märklin Neuheiten. The first German Toy Trade Fair took place in 1950, with the distinguished logo appearing a year later. So when the people of Nuremberg see it on the newly hoisted flags, they know it’s that time again. Every year, around 70,000 trade visitors and 3,000 exhibitors flock to the exhibition center from around the world. They come to view and discuss the latest toy trends and innovations, and to refresh their market knowledge. Their playground covers an area of around 1,829,000 square feet. The exhibition center, operated by NürnbergMesse, started hosting the Spielwarenmesse in 1973 when the previous venue in the city center could no longer handle the rapid rise in demand. The dynamism of the toy market can still be felt to this day. CHANGES IN THE NAME OF PROGRESS For seven decades, the Spielwarenmesse evolved with the times, always keeping its sights firmly on the future. Known for offering an abundance of new ideas and innovations, the fair will feature a total of 12 product groups spread across 18 halls. They will showcase everything from dolls, soft toys, and lifestyle products to sports, leisure, and outdoor goods. The Spielwarenmesse’s anniversary event is an opportunity to restructure some categories to respond to changing market conditions. Accordingly, the new electronic toys product group will debut in 2019. Very

much in tune with the times, it encompasses R/C toys, robots, electronic educational toys, and virtual play. Additionally, the model railways and model construction segments will merge in a move to focus the product ranges for two identical target groups in a single location. Finally, the festive articles, carnival, and fireworks segment will expand to include Showtime, an approximately 2,150-square-foot activity area that enhances the appeal of this product group.

THE LEADING INDUSTRY HUB The Spielwarenmesse is also synonymous with entertainment. Today’s trade buyers enjoy diversity of promotions and special shows, and hope to be enlightened with expert knowledge. What was once purely an ordering event developed into a communication platform for an entire industry. In 1977, the number of visitors crossed the 30,000 threshold for the first time. In 1991, the Spielwarenmesse reached new heights with the number of international exhibitors topping 2,000. Staying in tune with the market, the Spielwarenmesse always responds to participant needs. This is because we not only see ourselves as an exhibition organizer, but also as a

marketing services provider. Our strength lies in tracking down relevant market trends and presenting them to our target groups in their best light. In 2004, for example, the time was right for the ToyAwards. The coveted industry prize is awarded in several categories—including a category for start-ups for the first time—and an independent jury of experts choose the winners. COME CELEBRATE WITH US! When you come to Nuremberg, you’ll experience the ToyAward winners firsthand, while enjoying our tradition-rich brand. Previously known as the International Toy Fair Nürnberg since 1958, Spielwarenmesse, a registered brand, became the name of the event in 2014. The main highlight of the 70th anniversary edition will be the ToyFestival in newly designed Hall 3C, a celebration with food and musical entertainment on Thursday evening. Everyone at the fair is invited to join us in raising a glass to a very special Spielwarenmesse. We look forward to seeing you there! » Ernst Kick was appointed as the CEO of Spielwarenmesse eG in 2003. He has decades of experience in business, marketing, and exhibition organization.

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SPIELWARENMESSE

SPIELWARENMESSE 2019 What’s New for the Toy Show’s Big 70th Anniversary THE SPIELWARENMESSE RETURNS TO Nuremberg from Jan. 30 to Feb. 3, featuring approximately one million products. The international toy fair and the international TrendCommittee identified three industry trends for this year’s show: Ready, Steady, Play!, The WOW Effect, and Toys 4 Kidults. The Ready, Steady, Play! trend focuses on active play, which is important to emphasize as lifestyles become ever more sedentary, thanks to the tech takeover and everyday aids such as lifts and escalators. All too often,

this culminates in a lack of physical activity, poor coordination, and slower reactions. Toys and games that encourage kids to engage in physical activity can counter this, sometimes without kids even realizing. The WOW Effect trend is all about the surprise factor in toys. Blind bags entertained young and old for generations, and not knowing what’s inside creates anticipation and excitement. Manufacturers are adding even more elements of surprise to their products now, including more packaging to

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conceal collectibles until they’re unwrapped. These types of toys feature more exciting functions and play options for kids to reveal upon closer inspection. Toys 4 Kidults are made for the young at heart, blending the worlds of kids and adults together. The Toys 4 Kidults trend reminds us that toys are not just reserved for kids—older generations can still enjoy them, too. These products range from decorative toys and sophisticated construction sets to rare collectibles and retro licences.


SPIELWARENMESSE THE TRENDGALLERY The TrendGallery in Hall 3A provides a stage for innovation in the toy industry. Trade buyers come here to learn about the latest trends and to get an inside look at the associated products. Filling an area of 1,000 square meters, the TrendGallery features product innovations and the winners of the ToyAwards. Guests can experience daily talks and presentations on different topics that deliver invaluable insights for visitors at the Toy Business Forum. THE TOY BUSINESS FORUM The retail trade is in a constant state of flux. Retailers can anticipate the challenges of the future, including digitalization and change management to gain a clear competitive edge. At this year’s show, experts at the Toy Business Forum in Hall 3A will shed light on how independent retailers and buyers can adapt to the challenges the market throws at them. The talks will take place from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. daily during the show, with a different overarching theme each day. Visitors can attend the talks free of charge and do not need to book in advance. The Toy Business Forum highlights the most important aspects affecting the toy business in the coming year. The series of presentations kicks off on Wednesday, Jan. 30 with a focus on trends in sales and retail. These talks provide important market guidance to help attendees stay ahead of the curve. The Thursday presentations on Jan. 31 revolve around the future of the brick-and-mortar retail trade. Digitalization and online trade offer great opportunities, but also conceal considerable pitfalls, making it imperative to have a clear strategy in place. On Friday, Feb. 1, the emphasis shifts to the consumer. Retailers can only tailor their product ranges and services to consumer needs if they know their customers well. The Saturday presentation on Feb. 2 is titled Dynamite for Free Thinkers, featuring change management with keynote speaker Dr. Peter Kreuz. He is a best-selling author and an

international management consultant known for his unorthodox thinking and ability to motivate others. The talks on Sunday, Feb. 3 will focus on influencer marketing and storytelling. RESTRUCTURED PRODUCT GROUPS This year’s show will feature some major changes for its 70th anniversary, including restructuring several product groups. Electronic toys will make their debut as a new group, while changes are afoot in several already exisitng product groups, including festive articles, carnival, and fireworks; model railways; and model construction. According to Spielwarenmesse eG CEO Ernst Kick, the alterations are a necessary response to the needs of buyers and retailers, as well as the changing market. A new product segment for electronic toys will debut in Hall 4A, including R/C vehicles, drones, planes, robots, and more. This new distinction provides independent retailers and buyers with guidance in the field of technology and digitalization, both of which evolved from a fad to a firm facet of the toy sector. This popular feature is set to stay and will continue to attract widespread visitor attention in the future. The Spielwarenmesse is also seeing a growing number of well-known exhibitors offering electronic toys. Model railways and model construction,

previously in Hall 4A and Hall 7A respectively, will merge in Hall 7A. This move will allow the fair to reflect the international diversity of both sectors under one roof, offering a wide portfolio to their identical target groups. Both well-known brand manufacturers and smaller niche suppliers will come together to create an inspiring and comprehensive mix of products. At the same time, the model construction segment will relocate the suppliers whose ranges target the toy trade, as opposed to stores specializing in model construction. They will move to Hall 4A. The product group festive articles, carnival, and fireworks in Hall 9 is also undergoing considerable change. The toy retail sector is an important sales market for this segment, prompting the Spielwarenmesse to add a new aspect in Hall 8. It will feature extra space to reflect the growing international composition of this sector more broadly. The new highlight—a roughly 200-square-meter activity area—will enhance the overall appeal, giving exhibitors the opportunity to showcase their products at fashion shows and presentations for maximum exposure. The new hall structure will make it easier for visitors to locate products that complement existing ranges and suit their own business models. The Spielwarenmesse will do everything it can to create new signage to help visitors find what they’re looking for. »

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How Toys Based on YouTubers Rack Up the Likes by JACQUELINE CUCCO, associate editor YOUTUBE HAS MORE THAN 1.9 billion users that visit the site each month, watching more than 1 billion hours of video content and generating billions of views—and that’s not even counting the viewers who don’t log in. From unboxing videos and vlogs to toy reviews and homemade shows, kids are eating up content on YouTube, making it one of the go-to ways for kids to consume videos. The number of channels earning five figures per year on YouTube grew more than 50 percent since last year, and the number of channels earning six figures per year grew more than 40 percent, according to YouTube. Kids and parents are catching on quickly—why sit around watching YouTube videos when kids can start creating content of their own? That’s exactly how 8-year-old Ryan of Ryan ToysReview began his own channel, which now has more than 17 million subscribers and more than 20 billion video views. Not only are kids creating their own YouTube channels, but YouTube influencers are also getting their own toys. Bonkers Toys partnered with pocket.watch and Ryan ToysReview this year to launch Ryan’s first toy line, featuring mystery squishies, blind bag figures, pull back vehicles, a roaring dinosaur, and Ryan’s World Giant Mystery Egg—a jumbo plastic egg stuffed with surprises to unbox, including a lights and sounds vehicle, ultra-rare figures, goo and putty, a limited edition squishy, a plush, and more.

“Kids and teens of this generation are consuming entertainment in the digital world,” says Deborah Stallings Stumm, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Bonkers Toys. “YouTube dominates this area, and young YouTubers have become the latest celebrities and role models for many kids.”

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A staple of Ryan ToysReview videos is the unboxing of giant eggs full of toys, and now kids can mimic what they see on Ryan’s channel with the Ryan’s World toy line. “When partnering with a YouTuber, it is essential to capture the essence of their brand and work diligently to create products that reflect their personality and point

Ryan’s World line, from Bonkers Toys


of view,” says Stallings Stumm. The YouTube channel serves as a source of inspiration for the toys—with the added bonus that there’s already a built-in marketing platform with an existing fan base. “When a YouTube influencer promotes their merchandise to their viewers, it is a 100 percent perfect demographic,” says Stallings Stumm. Kids who are fans of the YouTubers’ brand will have a natural interest in the toys. “What I love about the success of toys based on YouTube influencers is that it’s not a manufactured success. It is a movement rising up directly from the demand of kids,” says Stone Newman, chief revenue officer of pocket.watch. “Kids watch these creators because they feel that they are their friends. Their voice is authentic. That extends to the toys and we are seeing the results in the sales at retail.” When it came to starting consumer product partnerships based on YouTubers, pocket.watch decided to start with Ryan ToysReview for one simple reason: Kids love him. “He was the largest and that effectively made it easier for our retail partners to say yes to giving it a chance,” says Newman. “We needed to demonstrate that products from a YouTube creator could sell, and sell very well. Now that we have demonstrated this, we have very high expectations that the programs we will launch in 2019 around our other creators—The Tubes (EvanTubeHD and JillianTubeHD) and HobbyKids Adventures (HobbyKidsTV)—will succeed as well.” And there are plenty of other YouTube kids following suit with toys of their own in the works. Lauren Riihimaki—better known as her DIY and fashion YouTube channel name LaurDIY (with more than 8.6 million subscribers)—recently released licensed products at Michaels, Target, JOANN, and Walmart Canada, with licensing partners such as Plaid, Mattel, Cousin, and C.R. Gibson. The LaurDIY crafts from Mattel are exclusive to Target and include the LaurDIY Letter Board Craft Kit and the LaurDIY Balloon Unicorn Craft

Kit, among others. LaurDIY will feature the licensed products in her YouTube videos, which receive millions of views. Guava Toys launched this year as a toy brand created by YouTuber Roi Fabito, also known as Guava Juice (with 12.3 million subscribers). In addition to its first wave of slime and DIY activity sets, Guava Toys will launch six new products at Target, including the Slime Splatblaster, Splat Slime Refill Packs, and themed premade slime packs, such as the Gross Out Slime Pack with booger, poop, vomit, and bad breath slimes. Karina Garcia is a slime-making YouTuber with 8.4 million subscribers and a crafting product line called Craft City. She recently created a holiday collection of slime and fizzing bath bombs at JOANN Fabric and Craft Stores with scents such as peppermint twist, hot cocoa, and sweet sugar cookie. Fans of the YouTube series Hack Along with GoldieBlox will be excited to learn they can soon follow along with the craft projects, engineering experiments, and life hacks featured on the show with a collection of DIY creativity kits from Make It Real. “The viral nature of YouTube allows for trends and opportunities to catch on far quicker than in the past, making the platform very attractive when it comes to things like toys that many depend on for their viral factor and

stickiness,” says Isaac Wolman, CEO of Make It Real. Make It Real will produce a line of STEAM-inspired DIY creativity kits for tweens that feature lighting, electronics, and building innovation. The kits will launch this summer. Wolfman explains that the marketing process for licensed toys based on TV properties and YouTubers isn’t that different. “In some ways, there is a similarity between YouTube content and TV-based content in that there is a level of expectation that kids who see the product will immediately recognize and have a meaningful affinity to the brand and characters,” he says. On the other hand, Wolfman adds that YouTube content provides a benefit of flexibility that allows the toy makers and the YouTube channel to collaborate. “We can tailor the shows and episodes to perfectly match with the timing and content that are in the products—allowing for a very meaningful 360-degree experience for the kids,” he says. Consumers watch billions of YouTube videos every single day, with a channel suited to every taste. For every YouTube channel out there, there’s a fan waiting for a toy line. » Jacqueline Cucco is an associate editor at Adventure Publishing Group. She writes for the Toy Book and the Pop Insider, and is in charge of all things Instagram. When she’s not watching slime videos, you can find her playing paparazzi for her pet bunny, Peepers (@thebigpeep on Instagram).

toybook.com | DECEMBER/JANUARY 2019 | THE TOY BOOK   41


DIY Craft Kits and Innovative Compounds Give the Arts and Crafts Category a Boost

by LAURIE CHARTORYNSKY, communications specialist and content developer, The Toy Association ARTS AND CRAFTS MAY BE ONE OF THE most traditional categories in the toy industry. Even so, there is a lot of innovation in both compounds and kit offerings in recent years. These factors, along with the continued popularity of the do-it-yourself (DIY) trend and maker movement, show that the arts and crafts category is poised for growth once again after a recent slump. “Arts and crafts are always a favorite with kids and parents,” says Adrienne Appell, trends expert at The Toy Association. “The activities encourage creative, open-ended play, and with the variety of kits and cutting-edge compounds on the market, there are plenty of new and exciting options that will appeal to kids of all ages.” The arts and crafts category is up 8 percent year to date as of July. The increase comes after suffering declines for the same period last year, as well as a flat performance in 2016, according to The NPD Group (NPD). The turnaround is largely tied to dollar growth of craft kits, which is performing 13 percent better this year after being down 11 percent in the same period last year, according to NPD. While DIY slime

42

strongly challenged craft kits last year, the slime trend is boosting the growth in craft kits and related products in the space, including Nickelodeon Color Change Slime from Cra-Z-Art and Glam Goo Deluxe Slime Pack from MGA Entertainment. Additionally, other craft kits, such as Spin Master’s Cool Maker JoJo Siwa Bow Maker and Moose Toys’ Oonies are contributing to the category’s growth, according to NPD. NEW COMPOUNDS NPD reports that reusable compounds are also driving growth in arts and crafts this year, with Spin Master’s Kinetic Sand leading that growth. Crayola’s Globbles is a new super sticky compound poised to challenge others currently on the market. “Bloggers have been thrilled with the no-mess, squishy, sticky fun,” says Erika Merklinger, public relations manager for Crayola. “Some [bloggers] even mentioned Globbles is the new answer for those parents who are simply over it regarding slime-making experiences.”

THE TOY BOOK | DECEMBER/JANUARY 2019 | toybook.com

FOSTERING OPEN-ENDED CREATIVITY While some parents may be ready to move on from the slime trend, manufacturers report that the DIY and maker movement trends show no signs of slowing.

“Parents are continuing to seek out craft activities for their ability to provide openended creativity, as well as an alternative to digital media,” says Michelle Kohanzo, president of Kid Made Modern. While it’s true that parents love crafting because it’s a healthy alternative to screen time for their kids, social channels—including Pinterest and YouTube—are fueling the recent popularity of arts and crafts. Consumers who never considered themselves crafty can perfect their projects with the help of online tutorials, resulting in projects that look Pinterest-ready in a snap, according to Brittany Leddy, marketing and publicity manager for Klutz, a division of Scholastic Inc. TV networks are also taking note of what the toy industry is experiencing. The networks are both capitalizing and fueling the DIY and maker trends, with shows such as Making It on NBC, Create TV’s extensive line-up of series, and the DIY Network. All of these factors will carry arts and crafts successfully into the new year. The Toy Association tracks trends to provide the toy industry with insight into what’s new and what’s next in the toy and youth entertainment marketplace. Key trends for 2019 will be announced at the 116th New York Toy Fair, February 16 to 19, 2019, at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City. Visit toyfairny.com to learn more. » Laurie Chartorynsky has been a member of The Toy Association’s communications team since September 2016. At The Toy Association, she is responsible for the weekly e-newsletter Toy News Tuesday, and writes articles based on the latest trends in the toy industry for trade publications. Chartorynsky has a Master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University.


THAMES & KOSMOS adds to its Gummy Candy Lab line with the Rainbow Gummy Candy Lab: Unicorns, Clouds, and Rainbows. Kids can mold their own gummy rainbows, unicorns, and clouds using a gelatin mixture. A variety of food ingredients, flavors, and colors are included to customize gummy creations. Kids can learn about the scientific properties of natural polymers while making their creations. New from Thames & Kosmos’ Ooze Labs line are the Ooze Labs: Super-Expanding Instant Snow and Ooze Labs: Glowing Galaxy Slime. Kids can make their own fake snow or cosmic, glowing slime using the included polymer and water.

EPOCH EVERLASTING PLAY introduces a new collection of Aquabeads sets. The new Beginners Studio, Deluxe Studio, and Box of Fun feature a quicker drying time, including an innovative Flip Tray with a Bead Receiver. With the addition of the bead flip trays, kids can continue to create new works while completed creations sit to dry on the additional tray. The Beginners Studio includes a bead case, a flip tray, a sprayer, a bead pen, and template sheets, which can connect to other studios to create even more.

CRAYOLA’s Silly Putty Aroma Putty satisfies kids’ tactile urge to knead and play with gooey putty. Squishing and stretching the textured ball of putty releases one of 12 different aromatherapy scents, including lavender, frankincense, coconut, cinnamon, eucalyptus, grapefruit, spiced apple, and chamomile. The portable putty comes in a specially designed textured container, and leaves no oily residue on kids’ hands.

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ALEX BRANDS makes weaving easy and functional with the Pop & Weave Basket. Kids can pop together a basket structure and weave a character to hold their belongings. Additional accessories, such as beads and gems, are included for kids to further customize their designs. ALEX BRANDS also introduces the Color Me Tie-Dye Unicorn.. Kids can decorate the cuddly, soft unicorn pillow that has a material in which kids can color and spray it with water for a tie-dye effect. After leaving it to dry overnight, kids can wash the pillow and create different designs over again.

Pop & Weave Basket

HORIZON GROUP USA’s Squishy Soaps kits will launch this spring, in which kids can mix, mold, and steam a few simple ingredients to create an original, colorful squishy soap. Once the mold is complete, kids can add playful designs using the included water transfer sheet. The kit is available in a variety of themes, such as Glitter Galaxy, Sweet Treats, Kawaii Cute, Mermaid Magic, Unicorn Dream, and Tropical Paradise. With new Sparkle Magic products, kids can select an art style and add gemstone stickers to create a variety of 3-D gemstone mosiac patterns.

WECOOL TOYS will expand its Compound Kings Tubs of Slime line with the Glitzy Red Bucket and Black Fluffy Buckets. Kids can stretch, twist, squeeze, and squish three pounds of uffy or sparkling pre-made slime. Kids can have slimy fun with Mix & Mash Yo Cups. Mix and make creations with the stretchy, squishy slime and included mix-ins.The ready-made slime comes in a a variety of types, including Glitzy, Stars, Alpha, Confetti, Fruity, and more.

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ARTS & CRAFTS

With MINDWARE’s Paint Your Own Porcelain Fairy House Light, kids ages 8 and up can use paint to transform a porcelain mushroom into a whimsical fairy home. Paint and oven-bake the completed fairy cottage, and use the included electric tea lights to illuminate the mushroom house.

New from CRA-Z-ART, the Real 5-in-1 Friendship Bracelet Studio brings a new twist to bracelet making. The all-in-one Create and Store unit helps kids make more than 25 types of Kumi, macrame, double weave, square knot, or braided wrist friendship bracelets. Kids can design the colorful, beaded bracelets using the kit with no batteries required or handles to turn.

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MAYA TOYS introduces the next series of Orbeez Wow World Wowzer Surprise. Orbeez Wow World Wowzer Surprise Series 2 Garden of Wonder features hidden Wowzers inside Orbeez-filled globes. Once kids add water to the globe, they can discover which Garden of Wonder Wowzer is inside. Kids can collect all 20 figures, including rare and super-rare collectibles, and then dump out the water to do the surprise reveal over again.

StitchKits, from KAHOOTZ TOYS, are an easy StitchKits way for kids to learn how to cross stitch. The design outlines are embroidered on the cross-stitch cloth, so kids can easily color in by stitching.There’s one stitch to learn, and kids can choose how to customize the pattern. StitchKits are available in unicorn and flower patterns, and each kit includes a pre-embroidered cloth, an embroidery hoop, five colors of embroidery floss, and a tapestry needle.

Young artists can take HASBRO’s DohVinci On The Go Art Studio three-in-one workspace and carrying case anywhere for unlimited creativity. The set includes an art studio storage case, a drawing tool, a four-sided scraping tool, three stencils, three art boards, a precision tip, a stamp tip, and five tubes of drawing compound for kids to make their creations.

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CORTEX TOYS’ ArtsBots Activity Kits pack tons of creative fun into a small box that kids can cart around on the go. Each kit contains the materials kids need to create several craft projects. CutieNails bring style to kids’ fingertips with themed nail sticker cards. Themed stickers include sports, animals, holidays, and more, for an easy manicure kids can customize and easily adhere.

Kids can decorate and create Ryan’s World characters and sets from the Ryan ToysReview YouTube channel with the Ryan’s World Sticky Mosaics, from ORB.. With four scenes included, kids can use foam stickers to decorate templates of Moe, Baby T-Rex, Ryan, and Gus. Kids can add to their sticker collections with ORB’s Ryan’s Stick Mix-upz. Kids can mix and match sticker Mix-upz squares to create a mystery puzzle. Guess where to place stickers using the included template, and watch as the mystery image is revealed when the sticker puzzle is completed.

Kids can decorate fuzzy, flocked dogs using the included washable pens with Fuzzikins Dozy Dogs Dogs, from PLAYMONSTER. The dogs come in a white coat, so kids can customize each pup’s look. To change designs, kids can run the puppies under water to remove the color and start again once dry.

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TALKING SOCIAL MEDIA

INFLUENCERS, AGENCIES, AND MONEY—OH MY! Understanding Paid Influencer Marketing Campaigns by MELISSA HUNTER, founder, Family Video Network ONCE A NOVEL CONCEPT, PAYING influencers to promote toys is now a key part of marketing strategies. An entire industry formed around sourcing influencers for campaigns. Like any new industry, it can unfortunately be a little shaky, and the standards are not really set in place yet. It is easy for brands to get confused and overwhelmed with the whole process of paying influencers. But in reality, it is just like any other business transaction. The keys are to understand who you are paying, what you are paying them for, and what you can expect in return for that payment. CHOOSING AN AGENCY Influencer agencies came along with the rise of influencers. These companies often have no background in traditional marketing, advertising, or public relations. They only know one thing— social media—and they know it well. With so many agencies to choose from and new ones opening every week, how do you decide on the best fit for your brand? Do your homework and ask questions. Ask for recommendations from industry colleagues. Figure out: What is the business background of the principles? What other brands have they worked for? If you know your counterpart at those brands, call them up and ask for their feedback. What makes this agency qualified to serve your brand? If their answer is simply that they can connect you to the biggest influencers, move on.

paign. Company A goes out and sources influencers, manages the contract negotiations, and acts as your go-between on the campaign. For that service Company A charges you a management fee of $10,000. Company A is acting as your agent. Now let’s say you choose Company B to execute the same campaign. They play the same role with one exception: They do not charge a management fee. They take a 10 percent commission from each of the influencers. Are they acting as your agent or the influencer’s? How can you be sure that Company B is negotiating the best possible prices for your campaign? Ask up front what the payment arrangements are with the recommended influencers. The Company B scenario is more common, so it is important for all parties to understand at the end of the day whose interests Company B truly represents, especially if things go wrong on a campaign.

KNOW WHERE YOUR MONEY GOES Understanding who you are paying for coverage is about more than just choosing an agency; it is about actual agency. For example, imagine a $100,000 influencer cam-

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MANAGE EXPECTATIONS Social media influencers are not actors, directors, writers, or producers. Many of them are families who fell into the business unexpectedly, so don’t expect a TV-quality commercial in return for your payment. The reason that influencer marketing is so powerful is the relatability and authenticity of the influencers. That’s what makes them influential. For best results, create a clear list of talking points, including what NOT to say. Agree on a creative approach and ask for a basic outline of the content. Make sure you agree with their approach before the cameras roll. Agree in advance—in writing—how many revisions you can request, aside from any needed corrections of a factual nature. If you do the pre-filming communication properly, you shouldn’t need many changes. Can’t you just do this yourself? Absolutely! Having an in-house influencer team is a great strategy, but if it’s not in the budget, select an agency armed with these tips. Choose a company that understands your brand, is transparent about their fee structure, and can provide you with the best influencers for your brand. Be clear up front about creative strategy and expectations, and put it in writing so there is no confusion later. Remember: This is still a new industry and sometimes it’s a little unsteady, but by working together, brands, agencies, and influencers can build a strong solid foundation for the future of toy marketing. » Melissa Hunter is better known in the YouTube world as Mommy, the co-host of Mommy’s World, a toy and doll unboxing channel. In 2014, she launched Family Video Network, an influencer network and consulting company that works with the top toy brands and social media personalities in the kids and family space.


ALL DRESSED UP

Howard Beige, executive vice president of Rubie’s Costume Co., discusses the company’s history, the costume industry, and what to expect for Halloween 2019. The Toy Book: In what ways has Rubie’s evolved over the years? What changes are you most proud of? Howard Beige: In 1972, when my brother, sister, and I assumed day-to-day operation of the company from our parents, it would have been best described as a “mom and pop” shop. To this day, it is still a family-owned and operated business, but we grew into a company with offices and manufacturing facilities in more than 15 countries throughout the world. I would consider our greatest achievement to be bringing the third generation of the Beige family into the business and maintaining long-held relationships with our employees, retailers, and, most importantly, our customers. TB: Rubie’s acquired BuySeasons last year. How has this impacted Rubie’s growth? HB: BuySeasons was an obvious strategic acquisition for Rubie’s. With the changing nature of retailing and consumer purchasing habits, the opportunity to reach consumers where they do a large percentage of their shopping and buying became a necessity. We already had strong relationships with online sellers through Amazon and other retailers, and the acquisition of BuySeasons allowed us to further expand our service and fulfillment for the online marketplace. With brick-and-mortar retailers—who also have an online presence—and online retailers, we are able to make our products more readily available, not only for seasonal buying, but also for year-round purchases. TB: What were some of the top-selling Halloween costumes that outperformed expectations in 2018? HB: Rubie’s has a broad selection of generic products, but we were very happy with the

successes of our licensed products in 2018. Properties based on the horror or sci-fi genre of movies and programming proved to be very popular with consumers, including Netflix’s Stranger Things (featuring Eleven), Paramount Pictures’ Friday the 13th (featuring Jason Voorhees), Universal’s Halloween movie (featuring Michael Myers), Warner Bros.’ It (featuring Pennywise), The Nun (featuring The Nun), and Nightmare on Elm Street (featuring Freddy Krueger). Many of this year’s successes were predictable. Licensed products from companies with marketing focus and consistent programming continue to be our best sellers and leading brands in the costume categories for toddlers, boys, girls, adults, and pets. These include Marvel’s Black Panther, Spider-Man, Deadpool, and Captain America; Nickelodeon’s Paw Patrol and Shimmer and Shine; Sony’s Ghostbusters; Universal’s Jurassic World T-Rex; Warner Bros.’ Harry Potter; and DC Comics’ Wonder Woman, Batman/BatGirl, and Harley Quinn.

Far from Home, Dora the Explorer, The New Mutants, It Chapter 2, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Star Wars: Episode IX. TB: What, if any, trends typically carry across age groups? HB: For as long as Rubie’s has existed, and for as long as comic books and films have been around, the superhero, horror, and sci-fi genres have been the mainstays in our product lines. People want to become those characters, or they want their kids and pets to represent those characters.

TB: How does entertainment that comes out close to—or after— Halloween impact costume trends? For example, do you still expect an increase in Star Wars costumes in 2019, even though Episode IX comes out in December? HB: Timing of release is important for the TB: What are some of the top Halloween season, but Halloween costume trends it’s less of a concern you’re expecting for 2019? if the property is an HB: We will continue to see interevergreen. Consumers est in costumes related to horror are very aware of and sci-fi, and will continue to upcoming film and carry those products throughprogramming releases, out the year. This year, we Purple Battle Suit Black and will wait to will also provide a fantastic Panther Child Costume purchase costumes if selection of licenses for products there is a late release related to the high-profile movie date for the Halloween season. We also releases, including Avengers: Endgame, release new products year-round, and they Captain Marvel, Shazam, Godzilla King of the are available online and in specialty stores. Monsters, Men in Black Untitled, Spider-Man:

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TB: What trends do you see in the way people celebrate Halloween? Are more adults dressing up? HB: Halloween is second only to Christmas as a seasonal celebration. When the holiday falls on or near a weekend, more adults will have costume parties. Parties for kids are a safe way for them to celebrate the holiday and be with their friends. We expect a 6 to 8 percent rise in adult costume sales for 2019’s Thursday Halloween. TB: Are there any surprising ways you’ve seen people using your costumes? HB: Our biggest surprise was when people started wearing our Jurassic World T-Rex Inflatable Costume and became stars of their own videos on social media. We get such a kick out of watching the videos, and love the fact that our fans are getting so much enjoyment out of the costume. Recently, people started using our Inflatable Baby Boy and Baby Girl costumes for gender reveal parties.

TB: Rubie’s Imagine division offers a wide selection of dress-up gear for kids. Does dress-up follow the same popular character and product trends as Halloween costumes? HB: We manage our Imagine division’s product selection differently because it focuses on specific demographics— boys and girls ages 4 to 7. The product lines aren’t as broad as they are in the overall costume category and are targeting for year-round sales, and therefore, focus more on evergreen themes. However, the trends in popular characters do follow the same overall product trends in costumes for other demographics, depending on ratings and appropriateness for the child.

TB: What impact, if any, do the upcoming tariffs on Chinese goods have on Rubie’s? What steps have you taken as a result? HB: The China tariffs had some impact on our business, as pet costumes and hats are now subject to the new tariffs. The new makeup tariff pending will not impact our business, since we manufacture our own Inflatable T-Rex Adult Costume makeup in our Phoenix cosmetic manufacturing facility.

TB: What is the history of Rubie’s Forum Novelties division? Are there any perennial best sellers in this category? Does décor follow the same trends as Halloween costumes? HB: We acquired Forum Novelties 18 years ago to help round out our product selection for what we saw as a growth area: costume parties. For the most part, décor follows the same trends as the costume category—and the trends are as broad as the themes in costumes. When consumers are dressing up for parties, they want products that reflect the same themes as their costume parties. Scary, but not horrific, themes do extremely well. Lawn décor with motion and sound are perennial best sellers, as are character candy dishes—which also turn into year round décor in the homes of some fans of the properties.

TB: What is the process for working with licensors? How much input do they have in a costume’s ultimate appearance? HB: Licensors are our partners in the development process. We work Pennywise (It) Grand Heritage closely with them to make sure Adult Costume that the character representation is as accurate as it can possibly be—that’s probably the single most important factor TB: The National Retial Federation in designing and manufacturing costumes. reported an increasing percentage Since our customer wants to “become the of people who planned to dress character,” we have to give the customer the up their dogs for Halloween best possible experience while he or she is 2018. Do you see that increase wearing the costume. in your Pet Boutique division? HB: Our Pet Boutique division TB: What outside factors influenced change experienced fantastic growth in the costume industry? since it was established eight HB: Consumers are probably the biggest years ago. Most of us treat our influence in changes in the costume industry. pets like They want the best representation of the children, character, the best experience while wearing will take the costume, and they want to be complithem to parmented by everyone who sees them in costies, and will share tume. It has always been our goal to provide pets’ costume experiences on social the best experience. We have come a long media. It is an area that we expect will way from the days when a costume was a continue to grow with both licensed plastic jumpsuit sold in a cardboard box. » products and generic themes.

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PRODUCT PREVIEW:

IMAGINE

3.

4.

BY RUBIE’S

2.

1.

5. 1. The Batman Light-Up Costume Set (packaging also shown) features a costume top with a light-up bat icon and a mask. 2. The Deluxe Muscle Chest Purple Battle Suit Black Panther Child Costume Top Set includes a muscle chest costume top and a mask. 3. The Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Child Costume Top Set features a muscle chest costume top and a mask. 4. The Deluxe Muscle Chest Darth Vader Child Costume Top Set includes a fiber-filled muscle chest costume top, a cape, and a mask. 5. The Gryffindor Children’s Costume Robe is a four-piece, unisex set that includes a hooded robe, a tie, a scarf, and a wand. It is available in a child size medium, which fits sizes 4 to 10.

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PRODUCT PREVIEW:

RUBIE’S

1.

PET SHOP BOUTIQUE

4. 2.

3. 5.

1. The Deadpool Pet Costume puts pets in action with a step-in shirt featuring attached arms, which each hold knives, and a head piece. It is available in sizes small, medium, large, and extra large. 2. The Wonder Woman Pet Costume features a dress with a logo patch, a broad gold belt, and a blue skirt with white stars in a shiny, metallic material. It also comes with a gold metallic tiara with a red star accessory. 3. The Pennywise (It) Pet Costume includes a step-in shirt with attached arms, one of which holds Pennywise the clown’s iconic red balloon. It also includes a wig to complete the It look. 4. The Han Solo Pet Costume is available in sizes small, medium, large, and extra large. A Star Wars classic, it includes a step-in shirt with attached arms, a bandolier, and a wig. 5. The Minnie Mouse Pet Costume features the iconic red and white dress with a matching headpiece with ears and a bow.

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SPECIALTY TOYS & GIFTS

EVERYTHING TO KNOW ABOUT WINNING A TOTY by WENDY SMOLEN, founder, wendysmolen.com TOY OF THE YEAR (TOTY) SEASON IS upon us. Hundreds of hopeful companies submitted their toys for consideration last September, and the Toy Association announced finalists in 17 categories in November. If your toy made any of the final lists, don’t just sit back and smile: It’s not over until it’s over! Voting, including the up-for-grabs People’s Choice category, is open through January. This award is determined entirely by consumer votes at toyawards.org. Does your toy have what it takes to win? We delved deep into the process to find out why getting a TOTY matters and, more importantly, what makes a winner.

A TOTY is like an Oscar for the toy industry. Product selections and screenings are long and rigorous. The prestige of the award is validation from our own industry, usually a guaranteed boost in sales, and the chance to dress up and make an acceptance speech in front of your peers at the TOTY Awards dinner during New York Toy Fair. Participating in the TOTYs also supports The Toy Foundation’s efforts to get toys to children in need. “The TOTYs are the only awards voted on by industry peers and consumers, in addition to votes cast by retailers and members of the media,” says Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of The Toy Association. “The overall Toy of the Year receives additional screening and expert panel discussion in January to verify holiday sales, media buzz, and qualities that distinguish those contenders above others.” Ken Seiter, executive vice Ppresident of marketing communications for the Toy Association adds, “To bring extra diligence to the finalist and winner selection, we engage an accounting firm to review the TOTY rules—including the nomination, judging, and voting process—and confirm voting calculations to

verify the category winners, as well as The NPD Group to ensure each product’s marketplace acceptance.” HOW PLAYABLE IS YOUR TOY? We all think our toys are brilliant, but some are just average. Realistically assess how your toy stacks up against its competition. Does it keep kids busy for more than one sitting? According to Kimberly Mosley, president of ASTRA, “High play value means the toy was designed with an emphasis on what the child can do, not what the toy can do. ASTRA members are looking for toys that will be treasured... something hearty enough to be passed down to a younger sibling.” DOES IT WORK AS HARD AS IT PLAYS? “Once the initial nominations are closed, finalists are selected by a cross-section of toy specialists, journalists and bloggers, and mass and retail buyers who rank the nominations on creativity and originality, design and quality, play value, and marketing and promotion,” Seiter says. Because someone has to actually buy it before they play it, innovation, quality, packaging, price, and buzz are as important as play value. While every winner doesn’t have to overachieve in every area, it should address all. For some, marketing and promotion may mean using traditional media; for others, especially smaller companies, it means social media and one-off promotions. WHERE DOES YOUR TOY FIT IN AND WHERE DOES IT STAND OUT? When you’re submitting a toy, be strategic about category. It could be a doll, a preschool toy, a plush, or a creative activity. ”Amazon seeks to provide the world’s largest selection of toys and games from manufacturers and brands of all sizes—from established brands as well as from small businesses and entrepreneurs,” Eva Lorenz, category leader at Amazon Toys and Games, says. It’s worth looking at Amazon categories to help determine where your toy will outshine the

competition. The Toy Association adjusted TOTY categories to represent new trends and sensibilities, adding collectibles, play sets, vehicles, and dolls, and dropping traditional boy toys and girl toys. WHAT DO THE JUDGES SAY? Selected by the TOTY Committee, the judges are a secret lot. However, one anonymously offered insights to potential winners. “I look at play value first and foremost… I’m very discouraged by ‘watch-me’ toys. If a child presses a button and then watches the toy without interacting with it, I’m not interested. Innovation is important; I won’t vote for products that are knock-offs of other products. Products that don’t match age grading are always a turnoff. If kids are frustrated and aren’t able to be successful with a toy, that’s no fun. Toys with very high price points also give me pause. The TOTY winner shouldn’t be something out of most people’s reach.” REACH FOR THE STARS People’s Choice winners are traditionally small and mighty. Since the category was launched in 2014, medium and small companies proved to be incredibly inventive and enlisted their loyal followings. Past winners include toys from GoldieBlox, Crayola, KidKraft, and Funko, proving that play value and innovation are key when it comes to capturing consumers’ hearts and TOTY votes. Don’t miss your chance to become the latest success story at toyawards.org. Good luck to all of the TOTY finalists! And if you don’t win, now you know what to do next year. » Wendy Smolen has spent more than 20 years playing in the toy industry. She cofounded Sandbox Summit, an idea forum focused on the intersection of play, learning, and technology. Currently, she works with companies and organizations to create playful solutions that engage kids and families in innovative and impactful ways.

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TALKIN’ TOYS

WHAT’S NEXT FOR ZURU NICK MOWBRAY, CEO and co-founder of ZURU, shares advice for new entrepreneurs and discusses the future of the toy company. Toy Book: What advice do you have for young people who are interested in starting a business, or starting a toy brand specifically? Nick Mowbray: My biggest piece of advice for all those wanting to start a new business is to throw away the word “can’t” from your vocabulary. Being in business means you’re constantly encountering challenges you have to overcome with new and creative solutions. It’s the tenacity to keep persevering that fuels business success. In my early days, I was knocked back time and time again. It’s the ability to get knocked down seven times and get up on the eighth that counts. Additionally, I think the notion of being comfortable with trying the unknown and making mistakes is incredibly important. Mistakes are the greatest learning opportunities. You remember them more than the suc-

cesses. The key is to always have takeaways and to ensure you never make the same mistake twice. Passion for what you do is also vital—you need a reason to get up every day and work harder than anyone else. TB: What was the biggest surprise you encountered in starting and running ZURU? NM: The biggest surprise to me was how demanding the entrepreneurial lifestyle actually is. People on the outside only ever see the successes and triumphs associated with building a really successful company. In reality, there’s so much sacrifice to undertake before success even becomes part of the picture. We moved to China at a really young age with little money and no experience. Every day we fought for survival and battled to work out how to win—and even struggled to get the basics right.

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On a personal level, I also surprised myself. I never truly acknowledged how persistent I was. I pride myself on having a relentless drive for excellence, and I genuinely believe you can always be better in whatever you do. Lifting the bar every year is nonnegotiable for our company. I think complacency is the biggest killer for businesses worldwide. Staying a bit paranoid is important. Entrepreneurs should always observe shifts within the wider business environment and look for the right opportunities. In the last 12 months, the toy industry went through an unprecedented level of change, including the astronomical rise of YouTube at the detriment of TV, the hefty impact e-commerce is having on pricing and retailers, and the extremely sad loss of Toys “R” Us. ZURU had to pivot fast to keep up with these changes, and I am incredibly proud of our team’s agility and ability to adapt.


TALKIN’ TOYS TB: You recently won New Zealand’s Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. What was it like receiving this award, and what does it mean to you? NM: Being acknowledged for what my siblings and I achieved within the New Zealand business scene was incredibly special. The fact that I could be there with my friends and family was unique and a moment I will never forget. I think the most exciting thing about the award was the wider idea that it was celebrating entrepreneurship within the New Zealand community. To me, thinking that our story may have the chance to motivate just one person to start his or her own journey is more rewarding than any trophy. The fact that I get to represent New Zealand on the world stage in Monaco next year on behalf of the team at ZURU is equally exciting and a great honor! TB: What accomplishment are you most proud of from your time running ZURU? NM: I’m incredibly proud that ZURU now employs more than 5,000 people worldwide. We take immense pride in how we look after our staff and truly believe in the importance of supporting our employees to truly unlock their potential. Given how important mentorship was to me early in my career, I take great pride in mentoring those at ZURU to pass on my experience from years of mistakes and triumphs that shape how the company operates today. The other thing I’m most proud of is that we’ve never taken outside funding—either investment or from banks—to grow and develop ZURU. We started with a small loan from our parents, and we self-financed everything from then on, which certainly helped us stay laser-focused on driving efficiency and value from all parts of our operations. ZURU is unique in our business strategy to any other toy company and is leading the way in automated manufacturing in toys. We want to disrupt large, stodgy categories through a more efficient and innovative manufacturing and distribution approach. ZURU is taking on multiple categories and looking to drive both retailer margin and consumer value in these categories. We are also bringing dozens of incredibly innovative products and brands to market each year as well. Our approach is unique, but it reflects the way we are building our business out of China and our unique advantag-

es over other companies. We have lower operating costs, are vertical with four of our own factories, and are automating. All of this leads to us being able to deliver on tighter margins and deliver far more value and quality than our competitors. TB: What is your process for finding and developing new products? What do you look for in new toys? NM: The single most important thing within any successful business is the necessity for open communication with your customer. This is even more important with toys, given the trend-based nature of the industry. At ZURU, we obsess over how we can improve our systems and processes to better understand consumer trends, ensuring our fingers are constantly on the pulse of what kids want. Because of this, we invest a significant amount of time talking directly to our customers, as well as scrolling through YouTube to ensure we continue to provide on-trend products that people want. The most recent example of this is ZURU’s Rainbocorns. Our new product development and branding teams saw a gap in the market to develop a brand that integrated every hot trend in the marketplace. We really tried to include everything possible—unicorns, plush toys, reversible sequins, giant surprise unboxing eggs, babies, pets, and even collectibles—and then deliver it at an exceptional price of $24.99. Sales results are phenomenal, with ZURU Rainbocorns flying off store shelves globally. We had a 66 percent sell-through on Amazon in the U.S. in just over a week, and it is currently the most tracked item on The Tracker app worldwide. Alongside this, ZURU Rainbocorns have a five-star average rating from our customers and picked up numerous accolades, including being named a plush finalist in the 2019 Toy of the Year awards. TB: In your opinion, what is ZURU doing more effectively than other toy companies? NM: Our core business divisions are all centralized at our business headquarters in Shenzhen, China—from global marketing, creative designers, and product and automation engineers to our merchandising and legal teams. Having all staff under one roof enables us to maximize our speed and agility, something which really separates us from our competitors. Given that we’re also one

of the few toy companies in the world that vertically integrates by investing in automation and manufacturing, we’re able to drive incredible value on shelf. The combination of our organizational agility and manufacturing automation provides ZURU with a competitive advantage, in being able to take an idea, design and manufacture it, and ultimately deliver the end product to the market faster than any other toy company in the world. The creator of Bunch O Balloons acknowledged this advantage, when the inventor ultimately decided ZURU was the best partner to help bring his revolutionary toy idea to market. Within six months, we developed the automation machines that now make more than 270,000 bunches every day! TB: ZURU expanded to more than 120 countries. What advice do you have for companies that are looking to expand their global market? NM: I think the key thing here is that just because your business works in one country, doesn’t mean it’ll work for every market globally. Being complacent and thinking you can apply the same business model to every market will most definitely limit your international success. At ZURU, we spend a significant amount of time researching the market dynamics and speaking to the right people to truly understand market nuances. The power of simply engaging with those who understand each market is certainly underrated, and is key for our international success. TB: What does the future hold for ZURU? NM: Our relentless drive for constant improvement means there’s no sign of us slowing down. Within toys, we see ourselves expanding further into long-term, value-orientated toy categories. We see this strategy as the perfect springboard to continue to also invest in research and development for new and innovative trend-based toys and consumer products. From a sales perspective, we identified a number of European markets as high growth opportunities. We are also applying our creative and manufacturing expertise to disrupt stodgy fast-moving consumer goods categories outside of toys, and are already having huge success. This is a project exceptionally close to my heart, and something I am building out of our newly opened ZURU New Zealand office. I am truly excited by this, so be sure to watch this space! »

toybook.com | DECEMBER/JANUARY 2019 | THE TOY BOOK   63


WIT STORIES

‘TIS THE SEASON TO BE INSPIRED by JULIE POWELL CHRISTOPHER, vice president of marketing, North America, Entertainment One Family & Brands; WIT Board of Directors, marketing chair; 2018 Wonder Women Award Recipient, Marketing IT’S EASY TO GET CAUGHT UP IN THE hustle and bustle of the holidays, and lose sight of the bigger opportunity that this time of year presents: The chance to reflect on the past year’s successes and create goals for the new year. It’s time to focus on 2019 and the impactful ways we can encourage each other, mentor our teams, and support our communities. Being part of a community such as Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment (WIT) will help put these resolutions in motion. As a new member of WIT’s board of directors, I am inspired by the genuine enthusiasm, warmth, and deep commitment of the organization’s members—for it and each other—and I can’t think of a better way to inspire you than to share some of our members’ goals for the coming year. MICHELLE WEBER Sales Executive, Toy’n Around “I am setting my sights on demonstrating fearlessness. I will not only chase my own pursuit, but will also extend the invitation for us all to aim high, be transparent, be fair, be uncomfortable, explore curiosity, and always be learning. Success isn’t guaranteed, but we will get farther and faster being deliberate in our actions.” JADYN ROSARIO Consultant, Simplicity Consulting “I have had the tremendous privilege to get to know and work with experts in our industries who inspire me to do better and be better every single day. It has been an incredible growth year for me professionally, and I am grateful to be among such an incredible group. In the coming year I challenge myself to continue to rise up; always be open-minded, nimble, and focused; and ask questions. Keep feeding the desire to learn because there’s always more.” GENA LAVALLEE Vice President Marketing/Licensing, Cra-Z-Art “With the liquidation of Toys ‘R’ Us, the past 12 months were a transformative growth experience for me. I’m thankful for the relationships I’ve built over the last 15 years

and that I have been able to leverage my knowledge base and transferable skills to forge a new path in an industry I love! In the year ahead, I look forward to building more relationships and diving into the challenges of a new career while still being able to work with world class brands and organizations.” BETH MUEHLENKAMP Monster Brand Champion, PlayMonster “I want to continue to step outside my comfort zone because the rewards have been quite amazing when I have. I will strive to listen intentionally to those around me and learn from their experience, but speak up when I have value to add to the conversation. WIT is an exceptional collection of intelligent and inspirational human beings, and I seize the opportunities to spread this message to those who are not yet aware.” ANITA CASTELLAR CEO, FanGirl Consulting & Brand Management LLC “I’m taking the momentum of ‘yes, and!’ from 2018 into 2019. I’ll continue to say ‘yes!’ to every conversation, phone call, and opportunity. In 2019, I’ll grow my clientele, their brands, and my company’s financial stability… and I’m doing it in Fangirl style. Watch out world, here I come!” MICHELE MARTELL, ESQ. President, Martell Media House “My goal for 2019 is to be more aware of those whose voices are not being heard, and advocate for those who are not already at the table. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are such powerful concepts that it can sometimes be overwhelming to figure out how to make a difference, so I am making that a priority and sharing my process with others.” PAM ANDERSON E-commerce Consultant “Women’s empowerment should be an everyday goal for all! As WIT’s website chair, I aim to help create a digital community that enables us to come together and lean in on one another. When women succeed, we all win!”

64   THE TOY BOOK | DECEMBER/JANUARY 2019 | toybook.com

STACY LELLOS Senior Vice President, General Manager, Klutz “I recently had the opportunity to speak to Scholastic’s board of directors about the transformation of Klutz, and I reflected on how we got there. I shared that my team is comprised of passionate, devoted, and innovative risk-takers. It reinforced to me how critical it is in the coming years—both professionally and personally—to lead by example, innovate relentlessly, embrace change, and to pursue my goals passionately.” STEPHANIE MENDOZA Manager, North America Licensing, Sesame Workshop “As a new member of WIT’s board of directors, I am beyond excited to oversee the organization’s Young Professional Network. A primary focus of mine is to drive career development opportunities that will help prepare WIT’s up-and-coming leaders for success. My aim is to create these opportunities through meaningful programs and cross-generational networking across WIT’s entire community of industry professionals.” WIT is dedicated to its community of talented women, and champions their professional growth all year long with engaging leadership moments, such as with the annual Wonder Women Awards Gala; networking mixers such as game nights and cocktail hours; and a variety of relevant educational programming, including webinars, mentoring sessions, and the annual Empowerment Day for entrepreneurs. Visit WIT at womenintoys. com to join our inspiring community. »

Julie Powell Christopher is vice president of marketing, North America for Entertainment One’s (eOne) Family & Brands division. A seasoned marketing professional with more than 17 years of experience in children’s media, she spearheads the development of impactful consumer-facing marketing campaigns and strategic cross-promotional partnerships for eOne’s roster of top-rated preschool properties, including Peppa Pig and PJ Masks.


★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★ MARKETING MEMO ★ ★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★ ★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★ ★★★★★★★★★★★ art on these packages needs to look good enough Atkins’ ★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★ ★ to★frame. ★Robert ★★ ★work★here★ ★ ★ ★ in Figure C exhibits every aspect of what I look in a great of artwork for ★ ★ ★ ★ ★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★ ★for ★ ★ piece ★★ ★★ collectors or older toy consumers. The lines are sharp and detailed, ★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★ ★★ ★ ★ and ★the★character’s ★★★★★ powerful position draws in the viewer’s eye. buying. ★★★★★★★★★★★★★ ★Note ★ how ★we★limit★ ★ ★subject ★ is★ ★ ★ character, ★ ★ we★ ★ ★ ★ If the a well-known the color field of the characlike to create an artwork style and color conand ★ smooth ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ter ★art★ ★the★body★ ★ ★customer ★ ★has★not★ ★★★★ text ★ that the seen★ before. structure. Shifting the facial Putting the character in a different light with ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ features ★ ★down ★to★ ★★★ ★★ ★ ★new★interest ★★ emphasize a unique style ★ can generate in ★ ★ ★ the forehead is a simple a product. We treat these types of art like ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ design ★★ ★down ★a ★ ★ ★★★★★★★★★★★ trick★ to age a comic book cover that—when effectively character. All of these techexecuted—not only captures the eye, but ★★★★★★★★★★★★★ ★help★the★ ★★★ ★★★★★★★★★★★ niques customers also becomes a standalone piece of art. see their own babies in the Collectors are very vocal about their desire ★★★★★★★★★★★★★ ★★ ★helps★draw ★★ ★★★★★★★★★★★ character, which for excellent packaging artwork, as many of an emotional connection to them★ leave product ★★★★★★★★★★★★★ ★★★★★★ ★the★ ★ boxed, ★ ★displaying ★★★★★ the product itself. and admiring the packaging and product alike. would ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ PRESCHOOL ★ ★ ★PRODUCTS ★★★★ ★You★ ★feel★guilty★throwing ★ ★away★ ★ ★ ★ this piece of packaging art. As we★ increase our ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★demographic, ★ ★ ★age★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ the complexity in TIME TO BREAK THE RULES thought must also increase. We★ ★ Of are general ★★★★★★★★★★★★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★course, ★ these ★★ ★ ★guidelines, ★★★★★ are no longer only interested and not hard-and-fast rules. Companies attracting Now★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★in ★ ★ the ★parent. ★★ ★ offer ★ character ★ ★ designs ★ ★with★ ★ ★ ★ such★ as Funko the art must appeal to both baby-like proportions while targeting older ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ the★parent ★ and ★the★child,★who★ ★ ★★ ★ tremendous ★★★ ★★★★ collectors, creating new ★ opporis old enough to have strong tunities. Each time we develop a new toy or ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ preferences. ★★★ ★★★ ★we★ ★valuable ★★ ★★★★★ Note★ in Figure brand, spend time ★ discussing B that we start incorpothe customers’ needs and expectations to ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★rating★action ★ poses ★★ ★★★★★★★★★★★ and ★ ★ determine if it is appropriate to offer someslight muscles into the thing new and unexpected. When developing ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ art.★Kids★ages★3 to★5 are★ ★ ★★★★★★★★★★★ a new brand, I would encourage you to not to undersimply match what is currently in that retail ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★beginning ★★ ★and★ ★ ★★★★★★★★★★★ stand control space, but to think deeply and experiment power—and they with★ various styles. will help ★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★ ★★★★ ★art★ ★Doing ★so★ ★ you ★★★★ want more of it! create a unique brand look and value that Likewise, parents you ★ can own long★ term.★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★ ★★★★ ★and★leverage ★★ want their kids to The next time you begin developing a product character ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★confident, ★feel★empowered ★ ★ and ★★ ★ that ★requires ★★ ★ art★styles, ★I hope ★★★★ so they indulge this article will be helpful. Better yet, reach their ★ children fantasies out to discuss ★★★★★★★★★★★ ★in★ ★ of★super ★★★ ★us anytime ★ ★to ★ ★how★to make ★★★★★ strength, flight, and magical powers. your characters resonate with any age group! » ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★Even ★with★super-powered ★ ★ ★or monster ★★★★★★★★★★★★★★ characters, we typically do not cross Phil Albritton is the owner of into ★ hard ★ edges★ or intense ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★the★line★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ Power ★★ ★ &★Development, ★★★★★ Kid Design facial expressions, choosing to rea Nashville-based toy develop★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★main ★in★ ★★ ★fun.★It is ★ ★ ★ ★ ment ★ studio. ★★ ★ to★toy ★ ★ ★ ★ the realm of pure a In addition invention, concept development, balance of art styles that is palatable ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★and★ ★for★ ★and★ ★ ★ and ★3-D★design, ★he★ ★ ★ ★ playful both★ adults kids.★ ★ ★ ★ packaging, produces the Power Kid Podcast, where industry ★★★★★★★★★★★ ★ ★PRODUCTS ★★★★★★ ★he interviews ★ ★toy★ ★personalities ★ ★ every ★★★★ COLLECTOR week. He can be reached at (615) 545-2015 or Finally we explore adult collector Fig. design@philalbritton.com. ★ ★ ★C★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★★ ★ figures. ★ ★The★ ★ ★★★★★★★★★★★ products, such ★ as action ★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★ 68 THE TOY BOOK | DECEMBER/JANUARY 2019 | toybook.com ★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★


OUTSIDE THE BOX

TAKING TOY PACKAGING TO THE NEXT LEVEL by TED MININNI, president and creative director, Design Force SO YOU GOT YOUR TOY PACKAGING right. It’s engaging kids and their parents. It begins the process of building relationships between them and your brand. It’s memorable, relevant, and personal. In short, it’s sticky. Congratulations! It’s terrific when brand managers maximize the effectiveness of their packaging. They understand that package design is truly the most important visual brand communication for consumers and a cornerstone to building equity in their property. VISUAL DESIGN LANGUAGE There are always compelling reasons to create a visual design language for consumer product brands, especially on packaging. The right combination of visual assets—package structure, substrates, color, fonts, imagery, and brand identity—delineate and separate one brand from among many in every retail category. They come together to make the brand the most desirable choice by creating an emotional connection with consumers and telling a story that is easy to absorb in a matter of seconds. Think about the importance of visual design language in this way: It is the interface between the graphics that summarize a brand and the consumer. Design creates an experience. Since consumers interact with packaging before they ever get to the products inside, it is a crucial experiential marketing tool. A unique visual design language optimizes the consumer experience. But in creating the optimal visual design language, what you choose to leave out is just as crucial as what you decide to include. THE VALUE OF EDITING Package designers and marketers are fond of minimalistic packaging these days, and many toy manufacturers are among them.

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Simple packaging with bold graphic imagery and fonts dominate the marketplace. But sometimes, package design is too simple. Or rather, it leaves out significant equitable visual assets in favor of minimalism, which is never a good idea. Astute package design professionals who have a thorough grasp of the most valuable assets of brands know which visual elements are crucial to those brands. They also understand which elements they can eliminate because they are not core to the brand experience. Irrelevant visual elements create clutter. Relevant ones must be seamlessly integrated into a cohesive brand language on the packaging. Those visuals have a supporting cast of essential verbal brand communications. Together they create a unique and compelling brand experience. The brand itself dictates how simple and minimal the packaging can be. Leveraging the right combination of visual elements can make packaging appear deceptively simple. It’s hard work to drill down to the core of a brand to develop and retain every equitable visual asset. Yet, that has to be done before developing successful package design solutions. Fat Brain Toys’ Spoolz presents an example of minimalistic package design that works. Clear packaging enables kids and their parents to see the

THE TOY BOOK | DECEMBER/JANUARY 2019 | toybook.com

toy in its entirety: colorful plastic spools that kids can stack in myriad ways. The package structure is unique. Shrink wrap basically outlines the spools on the left-hand side of the package, while the toy appears to be boxed on the right. The brand identity features a custom logo and the words, “Endless stackabilities.” Coupled with the visual brand assets, it tells the story as succinctly and perfectly as possible. It informs parents that this toy is suitable for infants ages 10 months and up. While this packaging appears to be quite simple, it’s actually sophisticated, tactile, and highly experiential. Another terrific example of well-edited package design is HEXBUG’s BattleBots Arena. This toy packaging makes a strong visual statement and needs little verbal brand communication to reinforce its message. A die-cut window shows the arena of combat, as well as the two BattleBots on full display. Tongues of fire appear behind the stage to visually communicate the heat of battle. A “Try Me” call-out on the lower right-hand side of the package encourages kids to go to the side panel and interact with one of the bots. Other than the HEXBUG logo and the Battlebots Arena brand, there is only one line of verbal communication: “Head-to-head remote control combat.” This is well-conceived package design that looks simple, but creates an impact.


OUTSIDE THE BOX Remember: As good as your product and product packaging is, it must evolve with your fast-moving, ever-changing customer, or you risk becoming marginalized. No matter how well you’re currently doing, it’s important to challenge yourself to do better. Tweaking product and package design to one-up customer experience keeps your brand fresh and relevant. It also staves off me-too competitors. While the visual entices consumers first, don’t ignore the other senses. Engaging multiple senses enhances consumer brand experience. Tactile packaging that encourages touch is important for kids. They love to touch the things that visually attract them. If the substrates used in packaging make that touch memorable, or a tactile toy is exposed within packaging, that’s even better. Scent is another terrific element. Crayola’s scented markers and crayons are a hit for that reason. “Try Me” packaging that comes replete with sound is another way to elevate kids’ experiences with brands. The more senses that toy manufacturers can bring to packaging to engage kids, the better their experience. Skyrocket’s new Pomsies brand does just that. Pomsies feature the heads and tails of cats, while cashing in on the pom-pom craze. They’re wearable and interactive toys—two elements that up the ante in the collectibles category. When kids touch Pomsies, they’re

already envisioning them as their new, virtual pets. Rubbing the cat’s nose, mouth, or head, activates up to 50 cute sounds and phrases. Its eyes change color to let kids know how it’s feeling. Lastly, Pomsies feature a special freeze dance mode to play with friends and other Pomsies as well. The carded packaging exhorts kids to “try me” and “press my nose, pet me,” which is a highly sensory, emotive experience. During this process, kids can discover the cat’s features very quickly. This is packaging that doesn’t spell out the interactive assets of the toy. Other than a quick mention, “Loveable, wearable pompom pets,” the packaging is enticing enough to get kids to pick it up and discover its wonderful secrets for themselves. A custom logo in bright pink features a heart in the wraparound tail formed in the first “S” of the brand name. Pastel hearts and swirls form the backdrop for Pomsies. A visual of a young girl holding her Pomsie is irresistible, enabling every child to envision him or herself with his or her own special, new pet. This is smart minimalism in packaging. It’s smart in what it chooses to communicate and what it omits to say with all of its visual and verbal cues. It engages through touch and sound. RELEVANCE: THE NAME OF THE GAME Timing is everything. Smart brands release updated versions of their most popular toys in the fall as they plan to bring in that all-important holiday business. Doing so at this crucial time of the year creates buzz and anticipation. It also keeps brands relevant. Spin Master’s powerful Hatchimals brand gave a sneak peek of its fall launch at New York Toy Fair in February. A peek is all that kids will get, since the packaging features the brand’s ubiquitous, cracking egg with eyes peering out from within, and that’s all they can see. Question marks appear alongside the egg rather than the usual depiction of a group of characters, one of which obviously resides inside the egg, only to be revealed when kids fully hatch it. Beneath the now-famous logo appears the word “Mystery,” along with the tagline on the bottom of the package: “Who Will You Hatch?” further inciting kids’ curiosity. A tantalizing glimpse of four new cuddly creatures appears on social

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THE TOY BOOK | DECEMBER/JANUARY 2019 | toybook.com

media and in the press. But wisely, none of those visuals appear on pack. As a result, the air of mystery is more compelling. As the popular collectibles category becomes crowded with brands that are vying to be the hit of the coming holiday season, moves like this one help to keep properties relevant and in demand. Great package design goes a long way to creating buzz and engagement, while deepening relationships with kids. It elevates every customer experience with the brand. It all begins with developing a visual design language that will always stand for the brand—no matter how many new products roll out in the future— and one that you can easily update to accommodate a fast-changing culture and its savvy, restless consumers. Especially today’s kids. » Ted Mininni is president and creative director at Design Force Inc., a package and licensing program design consultancy to the consumer product and entertainment industries. The goal of Design Force is to establish strong emotional connections with consumers and create powerful visual brand experiences that engage, excite, entertain, inspire, and influence consumers’ decision to buy. Mininni can be reached at (856) 810-2277. Visit designforceinc.com for more information.


INDUSTRY MARKETPLACE

TOY Dir 2-15_Layout 1 1/28/15 10:35 AM Page 1

Playtime Sales & Marketing Co. LLC A Toy Manufacturers Sales Representative Corporate Office: 331 Piermont Road, Norwood, New Jersey 07648

TEL: 201-784-7727 FAX: 201-784-1912 E-MAIL: murraybass@playtimesales.com lensoyka@playtimesales.com carolleeman@playtimesales.com

Industry

marketplace

The Playtime Sales & Marketing Company, LLC. is a Toy and Electronics Manufacturers sales representative organization. Our prime focus is to represent Toy and Electronics Manufacturers to the Mass Market Retailers. The principals of our Company are Len Soyka and Murray Bass. Our only vocation has been in the Toy Industry. We are dedicated toy professionals.

Our geographical areas of sales coverage and accounts include: • NEW ENGLAND…Connecticut North to Maine and Upstate N.Y. Accounts… CVS Drug, BJ’s Whle Club, and TJ Maxx, • NY METRO NY City and New Jersey. Accounts... dd’s Stores, Macy’s Backstage, Cititrends, Burlington Stores, Xmas Tree Shops, Shepher Distributors, Buy Buy Baby, Party City, National Whle., Bed Bath and Beyond, Stevens Intl., and NY area Supermarket chains. • MID-LANTIC…Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., Northern Virginia and Western Ohio. Accounts…Rite Aid Drug, Group Sales, Boscov’s, 5 Below, Dollar Tree, Variety Wholesale and Big Lots. • K mart USA // JC Penney Catalog // Universal Studios Orlando // Target and Walmart • CANADA…Walmart, Toys R Us, Canadian Tire and Costco • CHINA…We maintain a full time Hong Kong sourcing Office We employ a staff of 5 toy sales specialists. Our contact information is listed on our above shown letterhead. We welcome your inquiries.

BUSINESS DIRECTORIES 2015 Trade Show Directory $39.95 Independent Sales Rep Directory $69.95 Toy Wholesalers & Manufacturers $29.95 We carry Salesman's Guides to Find Buyers and Trade Show Exhibitor Lists for Toy Fair and others! 1-800-635-7654 • forumpublishing@aol.com www.Forum123.com Free Magazine: www.RFmagazine.com

Classifieds Playtime Sales & Marketing Co. LLC A Toy Manufacturers Sales Representative Corporate Office 331 Piermont Road Norwood, New Jersey 07648 TEL: 201-784-7727 FAX: 201-784-1912 E Mail: murraybass@playtimesales.com // lensoyka@playtimesales.com The Playtime Sales & Marketing Company, LLC. is a Toy and Electronics Manufacturers sales representative organization. Our prime focus is to represent Toy and Electronics Manufacturers to the Mass Market Retailers. The principals of our Company are Len Soyka and Murray Bass. Our only vocation has been in the Toy Industry. We are dedicated toy professionals.

® The Toy Book Volume 31, Number 1 THE TOY BOOK (ISSN-0885-3991) is published bi-monthly by Adventure Publishing Group, Inc.® Editorial and advertising offices are located at 307 Seventh Ave., Room 1601, New York, NY 10001, Phone (212) 575-4510. Periodicals Postage paid at New York and additional mailing offices. Copyright © 2014 Adventure Publishing Group, Inc.® All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. Printed in U.S.A. Subscription rates: $48 one year, foreign $200. The Toy Book is a trademark of Adventure Publishing Group, Inc.® Registered in the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Postmaster: Send address changes to: The Toy Book, c/o Adventure Publishing Group, 307 Seventh Ave., Room 1601, New York, NY 10001. Opinions and comments expressed in this publication by editors, contributing writers, or solicited or unsolicited

Our geographical areas of sales coverage and accounts include: • NEW ENGLAND…Connecticut North to Maine and Upstate N.Y. Accounts… CVS Drug, BJ’s Whle Club, Benny’s, TJ Maxx, I Party and CW Price. • N.Y. METRO…N.Y. City and New Jersey. Accounts… Toys R Us and their DOTCOM and Global Divisions, FAO Schwarz, Xmas Tree Shops, Shepher Distributors, Burlington Coat Factory, Buy Buy Baby, Marlon Creations, ToyZam, Bed, Bath and Beyond, Steven’s Intl.,TRU Express and NY area Supermarket Chains. • MID-LANTIC…Pennsylvania, Wash D.C., Northern Virginia and To place a classified ad, please contact Bill Reese at Western Ohio.x2322 Accounts…Rite Aid Drug, Group Sales, Boscov’s, Liss 212-575-4510 or bill@toybook.com Bros, 5 Below and Big Lots. • K mart USA // JC Penney Catalog // Universal Studios Orlando // 2019 | THE TOY BOOK 73 Gordman’stoybook.com // Duckwall| DECEMBER/JANUARY // Pamida // AAFES • CANADA…Walmart, Toys R Us, Canadian Tire and Big Lots. We employ a staff of 5 toy sales specialists. Our contact information is listed on our above shown letterhead. We welcome your inquiries.


DECEMBER/JANUARY 1999

FLASHBAC » Industry experts are swift to differentiate today’s handhelds from Gameboy or other portable console systems. Most regard these as a platform for smaller versions of video game titles with more in common with a console game, rather than a “handheld” as it is coming to be defined, such as Toymax’s Nintendo on a keychain.

Kids can practice virtual hunting with real strategy using 1998’s Real Game Hunting, from Playmates Toys. Players can shoot and bag their own big game trophy.

TOYS “R” US INTRODUCES MAIL ORDER CATALOG As part of its ongoing customer service focus, Toys “R” Us launched its first-ever mail order catalog. The Toys “R” Us Catalog for Kids is available in limited markets across the U.S. The colorful catalog includes hundreds of brand name selections, plus 65 exclusive Toys “R” Us items, and allows customers to purchase and send toys from the comfort of their own homes.

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THE TOY BOOK | DECEMBER/JANUARY 2019 | toybook.com

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HANDHELDS EMERGE AS PERFORMANCE AND PROFITS TRANSFORM A CATEGORY

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MGA Entertainment’s The Ring features Stone Cold Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels duking it out in the 1998 handheld game based on WWE.

She is a pretty fashion doll, but she’s certainly not traditional. From Ohio Art, Betty Spaghetty is a departure from the perfectly coiffed and dressed doll. She is a flexible, bendable doll made to be disassembled and reassembled into a variety of different looks.


Profile for The Toy Book

December/January 2019  

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