September/October 2019

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SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019 Volume 35, No. 5 — Published by Adventure Media and Events LLC


Editor’s Viewpoint


ASTRA’s Insights


Toy Association Update


Talkin’ Toys: The Toy Association

100 WIT Stories 102 Media Mashup


Industry Update

104 Talkin’ Social Media


Sweet Suite 2020

106 Outside the Box


Toy Insider 2019

108 Raising the Bar

110 Marketing Memo 111 Industry Marketplace 112 Backstory: UNO 114 Flashback: September/ October 1999

24 The Health of the U.S. Toy Industry The remainder of the year should see a reversal in negative sales trends.

90 Spielwarenmesse 2020 Discover the spirit of play at the 71st Spielwarenmesse.


92 Play for Today, Play for Tomorrow The shift toward eco-friendly toys and sustainable production is happening steadily.

28 Talking Tariffs What Toy Tariffs Should Teach the Industry 30 A Global Toy Story A Look at Toys Made Around the World as Talk of Tariffs on Chinese Goods Continues 32 Bringing Play to the People Toymakers and brands take the show on the road, while others build their own experiences.

Group Publisher Jackie Breyer Managing Editor Maddie Michalik Senior Editors Jackie Cucco Marissa DiBartolo Sierra McCleary-Harris Ali Mierzejewski James Zahn

features YouTube, FTC Settlement Changes Content Rules How the Toy Industry Is Affected Moving Forward


96 DIY Science Science and DIY combine in toys that encourage kids to create, design, and build. 98

The Can’t Miss Halloween & Party Expo The Annual Retail Show Returns to New Orleans

Associate Editor Madeleine Buckley Editorial Assistants Victoria Rosenthal Miranda Siwak Art Director Joe Ibraham Production Director Bill Reese Director of Sales and Marketing James Devin Sales Executive Branden Mendez

38 2020 Toy Preview

Looking Ahead to Next Year’s New Products

Controller/Office Manager Lori Rubin

62 2019 Holiday Launches The Hottest Toys Coming to Store Shelves This Year

U.S. Corporate Headquarters Flower Pegasus and Flower Unicorn Foal, from Schleich

On the Cover: DIY Knot-A Pineapple Sequin Plush (Alex Brands), Creagami (Autruche), Tiny Tukkins (Beverly Hills Teddy Bear Co.), FGTeeV Giant Mystery TeeV (Bonkers Toys), Sleepy Heads Slumber Sloth (Cuddle Barn), VTech Peppa Pig Learning Watch (Entertainment One), Vendees (Horizon Group USA), Steggy the Fine Motor Dino (Learning Resources), Stick-O Basic 30-Piece set (Magformers), Polaris Sportsman XP 1000 (NKOK), Power Players Deluxe Figures (Playmates Toys), Foam Alive Slime (Play Visions), Eldrador Blizzard Bear with Weapon (Schleich), EXIT: The Haunted Roller Coaster (Thames & Kosmos), and #SnapStar Fabulous Fashions Vita’s Chic Clothing Rack (YULU)

President Laurie Schacht Adventure Media and Events LLC 307 7th Avenue, #1601 New York, NY 10001 Phone: (212) 575-4510 Fax: (212) 575-4521

The Toy Book Volume 35, No. 5 THE TOY BOOK (ISSN-0885-3991) is published bi-monthly by Adventure Media and Events LLC. 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 © 2019 Adventure Media and Events LLC. 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 Media and Events LLC. Registered in the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Postmaster: Send address changes to: Toy Book, c/o Adventure Media and Events LLC., 307 Seventh Ave., Room 1601, New York, NY 10001 or e-mail 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.

Member, International Toy Magazine Association


BRING ON THE HOLIDAY SEASON! by MADDIE MICHALIK, managing editor THE LEAVES ARE CHANGING COLORS, I’m officially sipping on pumpkin-flavored everything, and we’re looking ahead to next year’s fourth quarter — you know, just the typical early September happenings in the toy industry. In this issue, we focus on several trends rounding out the end of the year, including a shift toward environmentally friendly toys and the sustainability movement (page 92) and an increased amount of brands putting on their own events and experiences to get their products in consumers’ hands in new ways (page 32) — both of which I believe will spill over into next year. We also give an extensive preview of what’s on display at The Toy Association’s fall marketplace this year. I caught up with Marian Bossard, executive vice president of global market events at The Toy Association, about the changes to the industry event, including a name change to Toy Fair Dallas and adding a focus on this year’s holiday drivers. Read about what’s new to the show on page 36. Check out our 2020 toy preview showcase (starting on page 38), which includes broad coverage of some of the yet-to-bereleased products on display at this year’s Toy Fair Dallas. And, as we head into the all-important fourth quarter, be sure to also flip through our holiday launch showcase (starting on page 62), featuring some more insight into what’s coming in the remainder of the year. If you’re heading to Dallas this year, be on the lookout for our team on the show floor and make sure you say hello! At print time, YouTube and the Federal Trade Commission had reached a $170 million settlement agreement over allegations that the streaming platform violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA) over the way it handled data of users younger than 13 years old and served them targeted advertising. As part of the settlement, beginning on Jan.

1, YouTube will not serve personalized ads that require tracking the online user behavior on videos for children. Instead, content that is deemed for children younger than 13 will have contextual ads that will appear much less comparatively. Read Melissa Hunter’s take about how this settlement affects kids’ content and the toy industry on page 26. Although they have been delayed until Dec. 15, tariffs on toys are still looming, and we don’t know when the administration will change something else with a tweet. Read Sean McGowan’s analysis of what these tariffs would mean for the industry on page 28. Alternatively, on page 30, Senior Editor James Zahn takes a look at toys made around the world as talks of tariffs on Chinese goods continue. In this issue, the NPD Group’s Vice


President and Industry Analyst of Toys Juli Lennett also assesses the health of the U.S. toy industry on page 24. The negative Toys “R” Us comparisons are no longer impacting current trends, and the remainder of this year should see a reversal in negative sales trends. I sincerely hope you enjoy this issue of the Toy Book, and I welcome any feedback and thoughts on our issue. Send over an email, or tweet at us @ToyBook. We’d love to hear from you! » Maddie Michalik is the managing editor of the Toy Book and senior editor of the Toy Insider and the Pop Insider. She reports on new products and toy industry trends, and has been featured on broadcast TV segments in the U.S. and Canada. Contact her at



Connecting ASTRA Members Through Regional Groups by KIMBERLY MOSLEY, president, American Specialty Toy Retailing Association HELPING AMERICAN SPECIALTY TOY Retailing Association (ASTRA) members get to know one another is a core strategy of the “Mighty Together” concept that drives ASTRA. Networking events are built into our annual Marketplace & Academy and each year during ASTRA-sponsored activities at Toy Fair New York. These national conventions and trade shows are great ways to meet lots of independent retailers, manufacturers, sales representatives, and inventors from around the country in a short period of time. This is where you want to be if you are looking for energy, buzz, and the opportunity to transact business face to face, which is why they are not-to-be-missed annual events for so many of our members. The conversations started here continue on many platforms, including ASTRA Connect, the online community where members can engage, share, and learn from each other. DEEPENING CONNECTIONS LOCALLY But what about sharing information that is relevant to a particular geographic area? What about ways to deepen connections with your ASTRA colleagues in ways that are difficult to accomplish in the hyper-charged pace of a national buying-and-selling event? What about tackling longer-term, locally based challenges that affect independent toy professionals?


This is what the new ASTRA Regional Groups program is designed to address. It’s all about the local focus, local needs, and local business relationships of ASTRA members. It’s what “Mighty Together” looks like on the Main Street level. “Our members have always been generous with their feedback about ASTRA programs and services,” says Sue Warfield, member relations director at ASTRA. “Through surveys, occasional focus groups, and an ear to the ground, members tell us that they welcome relaxed, in-person settings at a different pace from the large, national meetings. There is so much to do at those shows, which is why it’s a good business decision to attend them, but it’s hard to squeeze in the time to reflect on everything you are hearing and get to know new people that you meet.” LAUNCHING REGIONAL GROUPS The ASTRA Regional Groups program launched earlier this year with a pilot in the Minneapolis area. During the winter, members in that region were invited to an evening meeting to talk about a structure that would work for them. From that meeting, the North Central Regional Group was born. The concept is to have periodic get-togethers at a member’s business location, with attendees covering their own food and beverage tab. The group plans to include time at each meeting for open-ended conversation, plus an in-person or virtual education activity, followed by a discussion. While the primary intent is to deepen connections among toy industry professionals, we expect to see other benefits for local participants and for members nationwide, including: • Potential solutions to specific challenges: Retailers, manufacturers, sales representatives, and inventors don’t often have opportunities to sit with all three groups at a table and simply listen to each other. Regionally focused conversations can increase communication and under-


standing — and possibly yield approaches that can be useful to other areas; • Increased access to ASTRA Academy education: It’s never simple to carve out time to participate in professional development, especially when it involves travel and time away from your store or business. Regional groups are a way to bring members easier access to education; and • More effective trend tracking: Not all trends take off in the same way or at the same pace across geographic areas. Regional groups may be one way to capture early market intelligence in the industry. NORTH CENTRAL GROUP KICKS OFF In May, the North Central Regional Group held its kick-off event at MindWare’s offices in St. Paul, Minnesota. The evening included a welcome reception, a virtual presentation on best practices for pitching local media coverage, a discussion of the changing retail landscape, and shared thoughts on working together for win-win success. The evening’s sponsors — MindWare Wholesale/Peaceable Kingdom, Beka, and Specialty Marketing Group — provided door prizes. North Central’s next meeting is scheduled for late September at kiddywampus, the independent toy store in Hopkins, Minnesota. Watch for more as we gain experience with this new model. It’s all about channeling ASTRA’s unique culture of sharing and caring among its members into new ways to be mighty together. That’s all about growing ASTRA businesses and, ultimately, reaching toward our vision of changing the world through the power of play. »

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.



A study says engaging parents is key to STEM/STEAM toys’ success. by KRISTIN MORENCY GOLDMAN, senior communications specialist, The Toy Association WITH NEW RESEARCH INDICATING that more than half (67%) of parents believe that toys are the primary vehicle to encourage STEM/STEAM learning, it’s never been more important for toymakers to learn how to thoughtfully include STEM concepts into toys for kids of all ages so that the learning starts early and is all a part of the fun. According to The Toy Association’s latest study, “STEM/STEAM: Formula for Success,” the best STEM/STEAM toys encourage open-ended play and trial-and-error exploration, teach problem-solving, and allow kids to lead the play experience and exercise their creativity. But in order to be truly successful, a STEM/STEAM toy should also engage parents. “Our research indicates that nearly half (48%) of parents say that they might shy away from these toys because they feel intimidated by the subject matter,” notes Ken Seiter, executive vice president of marketing communications at The Toy Association. “Their trepidation may be unknowingly passed on to their children, preventing them from learning crucial concepts through play.” To ensure that kids and parents are reaping the most rewards from their educational toys, companies are advised to include supportive materials with their products to help caregivers feel at ease with STEM subjects and encourage parental involvement in play, learning, and discovery. “Families that play together build strong bonds, create lasting memories, and learn new things — not only about the world around them, but also about each other,” Seiter says. Toy and play professionals can visit to read the latest STEM/STEAM report and find other resources on the topic. In the meantime, check out these upcoming activities designed to spread awareness about STEM/

STEAM products and learning. • Did you know that a STEM/STEAM toy does not need to be tech-based or overtly scientific (such as an experiment kit or electronic building toy)? In fact, building blocks, dolls, collectibles, plush, and a myriad of other kids’ playthings have the potential to engage kids in learning educational concepts. Learn more about how to transform a traditional toy into a STEM/ STEAM toy by attending the “STEM/ STEAM Formula for Success” seminar at Toy Fair Dallas on both Wednesday, Oct. 2 and Thursday, Oct. 3 at 11 a.m. Visit to learn more. • Save the date for The Toy Association’s upcoming STEM/STEAM webinar on Thursday, Oct. 17 at 2 p.m. (ET). The onehour session will cover how STEM/STEAM toys should trigger both the logical and emotional/creative sides of the brain, offer multiple manners and pathways to solving a problem or accomplishing a task, be gender neutral, serve kids with special needs, and embrace cultural differences, among other attributes. Visit the “Webinars” section under the Education tab at to register.

• Early next year, The Toy Association will be hosting a “fireside chat” at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) to review STEM/STEAM white space opportunities. Educational sessions will also be held at Toy Fair New York in February. “With all of the polarizing parenting issues out there today, it’s safe to say that millennial parents can at least agree on one thing: STEM/STEAM skills are some of the important skills needed for their child’s future,” Seiter says. “At The Toy Association, our goal is to help members and others in the industry create quality, safe toys that spark kids’ creativity and foster a lifelong love of play that can contribute to their future success.” » 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. | SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019 | THE TOY BOOK   19



Hasbro‘s new Ms. Monopoly game honors female entrepreneurs and inventors by swapping property with inventions that wouldn’t exist without women. Female players also get a higher payout at the start of the game and more money when passing Go. At the center of the game is Mr. Monopoly’s niece, a self-made investment guru who sets the stage for a new experience that pays tribute to inventions including solar heating, bullet-proof vests, Wi-Fi, and more. The property aspect isn’t completely out, as players can build a corporate headquarters to collect more rent. »


The fourth tranche of tariffs on Chinese goods has been split, with toys off the table until at least Dec. 15. Following the Office of the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) revised plan for tariffs that split the previously announced list into two groups — 4A and 4B — the first portion took effect on Sept. 1, with goods subject to a 15% duty. Most toys are on list 4B, which is currently slated to take effect on Dec. 15. More than $300 billion in goods produced in China and imported into the U.S. will be taxed at the new 15% rate. The Toy Association is offering resources to assist toymakers in applying for individual product exclusions. Information on tariffs continues to be fluid, with trade talks between the U.S. and China slated to begin again this month. »


Tru Kids Brands, the parent company of the Toys “R” Us brand, and b8ta have named toy industry veteran Jamie Uitdenhowen as president of Toy Retail Showrooms, the new joint venture that operates and manages Toys “R” Us stores in the U.S. In his new role,


Uitdenhowen will oversee the day-to-day business operations, new experiential store development, and vendor partnerships leading up to the brand’s U.S. relaunch this fall and beyond. Uitdenhowen joins Toys “R” Us from Party City, where he served as chief merchandising officer, managing all merchandising, planning, and pricing activities for the company’s North American business. Prior to that, he served as vice president, general manager for Toys “R” Us Inc., overseeing all merchandising decisions for Toys “R” Us before the company shut down. »


In September, Google’s YouTube division came to a $170 million settlement agreement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over allegations that the streaming video giant violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA) in how it dealt with kids’ content and consumption on its platforms. The FTC believes that COPPA violations took place regarding how YouTube was handling the data of users younger than 13, and how it was tracking said users and serving them targeted advertising In an email sent to YouTube creators and obtained by the Toy Book, YouTube announced sweeping changes to how


it handles data collection use on kids’ content. These changes include requiring creators to self-identify content geared toward kids and treating all viewing data collected on all kids’ content as if it is coming from users under the age of 13. The company says “these changes will address concerns raised by the FTC regarding compliance with COPPA,” and although this is a U.S. law, the company is making changes to its practices globally. »


Hasbro Inc. will acquire Entertainment One Ltd. (eOne). Rhode Island-based Hasbro will boost its family IP portfolio and its entertainment production and distribution capabilities with the acquisition, which is being completed as an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $4 billion. Once the acquisition is complete, Hasbro will take control of some valuable preschool brands, including Peppa Pig, PJ Masks, and the forthcoming Ricky Zoom. The entertainment capabilities of


eOne provide Hasbro with the ability to develop its IP across TV, film, and OTT platforms, as well as additional avenues in music, AR and VR, and location-based entertainment. »


According to the Los Angeles Times, Alleghany Capital Corp., Jazwares’ parent company, put in a takeover offer for Jakks Pacific. The initial offer seeks to buy the maker of Who’s Your Llama?, Real Workin’ Buddies, and a host of licensed products, ranging from Harry Potter to Mega Man, for 85 cents a share. The offer values the company at about $27.7 million. In its second-quarter earnings report, Jakks Pacific noted bumps in the road, with sales and margin declining as losses increased. Jakks Pacific CEO Stephen Berman stated that the company was looking toward the second half of the year for a rebound led by substantial increases in its Disguise costumes division and a variety of new licensed products are set to pop, including items tied to Frozen 2. »


Target Corp. is doubling down on its commitment to toys. The Minneapolis-based retailer will offer an expanded assortment of more than 10,000 toys this holiday season, continuing to build on last year’s initiative to re-imagine its toy departments and increase its selection. Target promises “highly knowledgeable team members” to assist guests in their toy shopping during the holiday season, and plans to offer an increased number of in-store events for kids and families in the months ahead. Target also partnered with the Walt Disney Co. This month, Disney Store will open store-within-a-store concepts inside 25 select Target locations. Forty additional Disney Store x Target locations will open by next October. Each location will average 750 square feet, with around 450 items available. Additionally, guests to the Walt Disney World Resort will be able to shop at Target beginning in 2021, with a new Target store set to open at Flamingo Crossings Town Center at the park’s western entrance. »

THE TOY INSIDER AND THE TOY BOOK’S 10th annual Sweet Suite event took place on July 24 at Pier Sixty in New York City. Known as the Biggest Night of Play, the premier toy party was completely sold out for both sponsors and attendees, hosting more than 400 members of the press, YouTube creators, and digital influencers to connect with more than 80 toy companies in advance of the holiday shopping season. This year at the legendary Sweet Suite event, members of the press and top-tier digital influencers enjoyed one-on-one time with representatives from the hottest kids’ brands and properties on the market, including VTech, Just Play, Bandai Namco Entertainment, Jazwares, Nintendo, Kid Trax, Blip Toys, Jakks Pacific, Basic Fun!, Crayola, Hasbro, PlayMonster, Mattel, LEGO, WowWee, Spin Master, Moose Toys, and more. 22

Guests played with hundreds of new toys and enjoyed an exciting party atmosphere with tons of interactive elements, such as photo ops, contests, games, and more. Attendees also enjoyed gourmet food and cocktails, all while getting a first look at new product reveals and making new industry connections. Enormous swag boxes were shipped directly to attendees’ homes after the event, sparking a resurgence in social media impressions and ensuring that bloggers and journalists have products on hand to review and share with their followers throughout the holiday season. The swag boxes yielded live and recorded unboxing videos on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. Additionally, on Sept. 18, the Toy Insider team hosted its eighth annual


Holiday of Play event in New York City, where 200 members of the media were the first to see the Toy Insider’s highly anticipated Hot 20 list of the hottest holiday toys, as well as its STEM 10 list of the best STEM toys. Plus, the Toy Insider unveiled its brand-new 12 Under $12 picks, a new list sure to keep everyone’s budgets holly jolly this year. Attendees met with key manufacturers right before the holiday season and left with a bag of swag stuffed with toys from kids’ favorite brands to review and enjoy with family and friends. Sponsors have already begun to reserve space at Sweet Suite and Holiday of Play 2020. If you’re interested in securing early-bird rates for these events, contact Jackie Breyer at or James Devin at »


TOYS OF THE YEAR The Toy Insider launches its 14th annual holiday gift guide. ADVENTURE MEDIA & EVENTS INC., PUBLISHER OF THE Toy Book and the Pop Insider, brings consumers the Toy Insider, the ultimate holiday gift guide featuring the hottest toys and gifts for the holiday season. The 14th annual edition of the Toy Insider will appear in the November issue of Family Circle magazine and online at The Toy Insider features expert toy and gift recommendations at all price points, making it easy for gift-givers to find the perfect product for every child on their list. The Toy Insider team spent the past year reviewing and evaluating all of the latest toys to identify the most compelling and hottest new products to help gift-givers get an early start on their holiday shopping. Jam-packed with approximately 200 toy recommendations from more than 85 different manufacturers, the Toy Insider is a convenient and user-friendly guide that includes gift ideas broken down by age group: infants and toddlers (0-2), preschoolers (3-4), grade schoolers (5-7), and tweens and teens (8+). In addition to the annual Hot 20 list of the hottest toys that will top wish lists nationwide, the Toy Insider also released the STEM 10, encapsulating toys that enhance kids’ understanding of science, technology, engineering, and math, and unveiled the 12 Under $12, sure to keep everyone’s budgets holly jolly this year. Garnering more than 3 billion consumer impressions last year and appearing on outlets such as the Today show, the Wendy Williams show, ABC World News Now, Fox & Friends, CNBC, HLN, and more, the Toy Insider is again poised to make a splash with national and local print, broadcast, and online media outlets this holiday season. In addition to the holiday gift guide, consumers can find full product reviews, exciting giveaways, and gift-giving tips yearround on For more information about the Toy Insider, including how to participate in next year’s guide, contact Laurie Schacht at or Jackie Breyer at, or call (212) 575-4510. For updates from the Toy Insider, follow @thetoyinsider on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. »




The remainder of 2019 should see a reversal in negative sales trends. by JULI LENNETT, vice president, industry advisor, U.S. toys, The NPD Group YEAR-TO-DATE THROUGH JUNE, THE total U.S. toy industry saw retail sales drop by $705 million to $7.5 billion, a decline of 9%, according to the NPD Group’s Retail Tracking Service. This decline comes after strong growth of 7% over the same time period last year, which was largely a result of the Toys “R” Us liquidation sale. Not surprisingly, June was the best-performing month this year (when excluding Easter calendar shifts), down 1.9%, as the Toys “R” Us liquidation sales last June were winding down, and the industry is now beginning a new comparison period. To get a better picture of the health of the industry, I prefer to look to the yearto-date compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2016 to 2019, which was up nearly 1%. When drilling down into Census regions, it shows the dichotomy between regions that were considered “Toys “R” Us country” versus those that were not. For example, the Northeast region, which was overdeveloped for Toys “R” Us, was the only region with a negative CAGR. All other regions posted a positive CAGR. The South, with a CAGR close to 2%, has recovered the fastest and has the lowest declines of any of the regions. In the next six months, we should see a complete reversal of the negative trends, as we will see gains due to new sales compensating for the pantry loading from the liquidation last year, as well as a reduction in the evaporation of toy sales due to the Toys “R” Us closure. January through June this year, Fortnite was the top growth property. Fortnite appears in 11 different toy classes in NPD’s data, but is only No. 1 in one of them: Action Figure Playsets & Accessories. It is the No. 3 property in the action figure supercategory, its largest supercategory by dollars. The action figures class was the top dollar growth class of the 96 toy classes

tracked by NPD. Toy Story led the growth in this class, followed by Fortnite and How to Train Your Dragon. These movies were only recently released, so their futures could be promising. In fact, Toy Story sales, within the action figures class, are already larger than Fortnite sales in this class. Interest in manga is on the rise, with the growth in toys tied to some familiar names, such as Pokémon, Beyblade, and Bakugan. At NPD, we’re seeing growing interest in manga in the video games, books, and media entertainment industries, which leads me to believe there is a larger opportunity in the toy industry to pursue outside of these already-popular manga toy properties. The top-performing toy properties based on total dollar sales include L.O.L. Surprise!, Marvel Universe, Barbie, Pokémon, and NERF. Fortnite continues to be the No. 1 dollar growth property so far this year, followed by L.O.L. Surprise!, Toy Story, LEGO Movie, and Ryan’s World. Also notable, collectibles continue to drive toy sales growth with four of the top 10 growth properties having half or more of their dollars tied to collectible toys. Now that the negative Toys “R”Us comparisons are no longer impacting current trends, as well as the anticipated positive effects of a strong slate of license-friendly movies in the second half of the year, the remainder of the year looks positive. The industry is already experiencing positive growth, with a 6% increase in sales in the first six weeks of the third quarter this year, versus the same time period in 2018. »

Data source: The NPD Group / U.S. Retail Tracking Service / YTD June 2019 / July 2019 Data Release


TOP 10 PROPERTIES (January-June 2019, U.S.)


L.O.L. Surprise!


Marvel Universe








Hot Wheels


PAW Patrol


Funko Pop!


Little Tikes


Fortnite TOP 10 GROWTH PROPERTIES (January-June 2019, U.S.)




L.O.L. Surprise!


Toy Story


LEGO Movie


Ryan’s World




Harry Potter/Fantastic Beasts






How to Train Your Dragon

Juli Lennett has spent more than a decade at NPD managing client relationships and consulting a variety of manufacturers, licensors, and retailers within the toy industry. As NPD’s U.S. toys industry spokesperson, Lennett works directly with manufacturers and retailers to provide industry insights on key trends that could have a significant impact on their business, as well as advise them on opportunities for future growth.

YOUTUBE, FTC SETTLEMENT CHANGES CONTENT RULES How the Toy Industry Is Affected Moving Forward by MELISSA HUNTER, founder, Family Video Network ON SEPT. 4, THE FEDERAL TRADE Commission (FTC) revealed the settlement of the complaint brought against YouTube by the New York Attorney General and the FTC alleging that “YouTube violated the COPPA Rule (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) by collecting personal information — in the form of persistent identifiers that are used to track users across the internet — from viewers of child-directed channels, without first notifying parents and getting their consent.” As part of this settlement, effective Jan. 1, YouTube will no longer serve what are termed “personalized ads” on videos targeting children. These ads require the tracking of online user behavior in order to target ads at viewers, a practice that is prohibited by the COPPA for users younger than 13. Instead, content that is deemed to be for kids younger than 13 will be served with contextual ads, and they will be few and far between due to the current lack of infrastructure within both YouTube and third-party ad servers to provide those ads. Although YouTube has long argued that its terms of service require users to be at least 13 years of age, it has also touted itself to advertisers as “today’s leader in reaching children age 6-11 against top TV channels.” The toy industry has been using YouTube as its primary platform to reach young consumers for the past several years. As a matter of fact, YouTube has become so entrenched with the toy market that companies now design toys with an eye to how they will look in videos. The YouTube surprise unboxing craze has clearly driven the development of increasingly more complex unboxing experiences from toy packaging. YouTube and other social media platforms are such an important thread in the fabric of toy marketing that The Toy Association

counted YouTubers among the 1,000 media personnel at Toy Fair New York this year, and notes on its website that more than 97,000 social media posts were made during the 2019 trade show. How does the removal of personalized ads from YouTube videos impact the toy industry? All of the influencers who currently promote toys are going to lose nearly all of their advertising revenue, effective Jan. 1, 2020. This will effectively put many of these creators out of business, meaning there will be far less toy content created and served on YouTube starting next year. Additionally, the toy content that is created will not be promoted by YouTube’s search and discovery engine, due to other restrictions placed on content aimed at children. YouTube will remove important engagement indicators, such as comments, notifications, likes, and dislikes, from videos aimed at children. Influencers who make enough money via sponsored integrations will still be available to promote toys on YouTube and social media, but views in the millions — which have come to be the expected reach for those videos — are expected to be a thing of the past. As far as sponsored videos go, at press time, watchdog group Truth in Advertising had filed a complaint with the FTC against the most popular YouTube toy influencer, Ryan ToysReview, alleging “92% of Ryan’s videos contain at least one paid product recommendation aimed at preschoolers, who are too young to distinguish the difference between an ad and organic content.” This complaint will now open up the debate not just about proper disclosure, but also about whether the FTC deems that there is any type of adequate disclosure for video content aimed at children younger than 8 years old. While it all sounds bleak, YouTube is committed to keeping kids content alive


both on its main platform and on the YouTube Kids app. YouTube will continue to expand its contextual advertising efforts (these types of ads are COPPA compliant), and this will hopefully mean that kids’ content creators can begin to earn a living in the latter part of next year. Creators have also diversified their content distribution to other platforms, such as Roku and Apple TV. Super Awesome’s COPPA/GDPR-compliant app Rukkaz is currently in beta release and is attracting many popular YouTube kids’ content creators. The FTC believes it is making YouTube a safer place by forcing YouTube to comply with these antiquated rules, but the reality is that by the middle of next year, kids will still be watching content on YouTube, but there will be far less kid-safe, appropriate content for them to watch. That may lead to them watching content made for teens that contains themes and activities to which their parents would not want them exposed. Toymakers and industry organizations need to start conducting their own studies and making sure their voices are heard in the halls of the FTC. The action taken by the FTC may be against the internet giant YouTube, but the actual impact is on the thousands of creators who are small, home-based businesses. The impact will then fan out to toy companies, and for the smaller companies who rely heavily on earned video content on YouTube, this could prove to be catastrophic. » 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.

What Toy Tariffs Should Teach the Industry by SEAN MCGOWAN, managing director, Liolios Group LET’S JUST GET THIS OUT OF THE WAY: This article is not meant to sway your political view of tariffs, or of the people who champion their use. Whatever your politics may be, I think we can all agree that tariffs are a sign of a problem; have been an oft-used, blunt instrument of economic nationalism; and have been blamed for triggering global ďŹ nancial upheavals over the course of centuries. Think of tariffs the way you would, say, solitary conďŹ nement of prisoners: a controversial tool that some would argue does more harm than good, but nobody is going to argue it out of existence in the near term. Like anyone, I have my opinions, but for the purpose of this article, I am neither defending nor condemning their use — just inviting you to think of them a different way. We’re going to focus on the tariffs the U.S. and China are imposing on each other, although I could also apply most of these points to other countries. It should be obvious why this subject ďŹ nds itself in a toy-focused trade magazine, but in case it’s not, a huge percentage of the toys sold in the U.S. continue to come from China. The addition of toys to the list of goods scheduled to be tariffed beginning in December has inamed the debate about tariffs because, well, who wants to see price increases on toys? Historically, national governments have used tariffs to protect domestic industries from foreign competition, typically from competitors who either enjoy a production cost advantage or who have chosen to underprice goods in a certain sector. The cost advantages are typically the result of lower relative wages, but they can also be related to 28

technological advantages or simply the willingness to sell certain products below cost for a period of time to build market share (i.e., “dumping�). Tariffs have sometimes been used on a temporary basis to allow domestic industries in the country imposing the tariffs to adjust to economic conditions that fell into disequilibrium. This “protects� the domestic business while it has a chance to modernize, or until the labor cost advantage of the target country dissipates through market forces. One example from the ‘70s was putting tariffs (and quotas) on imported cars, as models made in Japan at a lower cost were eroding the competitiveness of the U.S. auto industry. The U.S. auto makers responded over time by modernizing processes (to reduce the disadvantage of higher labor rates), and the Japanese got around the tariffs and quotas by increasing production in the U.S. It was sort of a win-win.

“I am neither defending nor condemning [tariffs’] use – just inviting you to think of them a different way.� Countries also use tariffs to protect domestic industries deemed to be strategically vital, such as steel, or vital to the cultural integrity of the country imposing them. Think of the high tariffs the French put on imported U.S. wine while protecting its domestic producers with subsidies. You get the idea: Tariffs have historically been used to protect domestic


industries from foreign competition. Several aspects of the tit-for-tat tariff slapping that has marked U.S.-China trade relations in the past couple of years are different from what we have seen historically. Nobody can make a credible case that imposing tariffs on products, such as toys, will protect U.S. toymakers, since there is so little toy production here. And China is not likely to boost the fortunes of its own soybean producers by hitting U.S.-grown soy beans with tariffs because Chinese growers would meet the demand if they could. What makes these tariffs different — and so much more controversial — is that they are being used as punitive measures in response to other transgressions, both real and imagined, that will not actually be directly remedied by the tariffs. These tariffs will not protect any industries or return any jobs, but we’ll show “those guysâ€? we mean business about stealing intellectual property. But is it that simple? Let’s look at this a different way. Let’s agree that these specific tariffs are probably motivated by factors that go beyond preserving domestic industries and adding American jobs. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t at least some economic justiďŹ cation for wanting to level the playing ďŹ eld. Even if we put aside the huge issues that these tariffs are meant to put on the negotiation table (intellectual property theft, forced technology transfer, opaque disclosure, etc.), the fact remains that America has a huge trade deďŹ cit with China, primarily because of a massive gap in wages. When I was in business school a generation ago, we had a guest lecturer in our business, government, and interna-

tional economy (BGIE) class — and, yes, we pronounced it “biggie.” He was an official at one of the nation’s largest labor unions, and his message that day in 1985 was that by outsourcing our production to countries with far lower average labor rates, the U.S. was, in effect, importing a reduction in our standard of living. He went on further to say that the only real competitive advantage that these countries enjoyed was (and I quote), the “abject poverty of its citizens,” and that if we continued to increase our purchases of products made in these countries, rather than those made in the U.S., we were basically importing this abject poverty. Fast forward 35 years. We haven’t seen America become a nation mired in abject poverty, but we have seen manufacturing wages in the U.S. remain basically flat over the past 40 years when adjusted for inflation, while real wages in China have soared exponentially during that period. Similarly, many other low-cost manufacturing hubs have seen wages surge. From a global perspective, this is good, right? Hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of abject poverty by rising wages, and Americans have enjoyed extremely low average rates of inflation over this period. But the standard of living in those other countries has risen much faster than it has in the U.S. Many years ago, I studied inflation in the toy industry and concluded that the rise in Walmart’s market share of total U.S. toy sales during the ‘80s through the early ‘00s was one of the biggest contributors to the low rate of toy price inflation in this country during that period. But behind that story, of course, is the increase in toys coming from low-labor-rate countries, especially China. Over the course of the last decade, wage rates in China

continued to rise (less so recently), and the country’s labor rate arbitrage advantage has eroded. Long before anyone in the toy industry worried about a “tariff tweet,” U.S. marketing companies were already exploring how to reduce production costs by moving out of China because of how (relatively) high Chinese wages had risen. So, what if we think of these tariffs as advance payments on future manufacturing costs? We may not be creating or saving American jobs with these tariffs, but we are getting a look at the inevitable outcome of powerful market forces. What if, instead of seeing them as punitive measures against a repressive, kleptocratic nation that micro manages its economy and where U.S. companies are innocent bystanders, we saw them as relatively inexpensive reminders of the inevitability of capitalism, even if some of the players are backed by states?

“What if, instead of seeing [tariffs] as punitive measures, ... we saw them as relatively inexpensive reminders of the inevitability of capitalism?” If China didn’t run a massive trade surplus with the U.S., there would still be other issues compelling the current administration to act, but it would be harder to support the move with deficit data. So, let’s just say this is a purely economic move designed to allow domestic companies some time to lower their manufacturing costs. They probably wouldn’t do that by bringing production back to the U.S. anytime soon (although some toy categories with highly automated production and high shipping costs have already seen increases in domestic production). But they probably would — and have already begun to — look for production in lower cost regions. I’ve written in the Toy Book before about other potential sources of low-labor-rate production (Vietnam, Indo-

nesia, rural India, and many spots on the African continent). None of these locations can hope to rival China for overall attractiveness yet, when considering transportation infrastructure, manufacturing experience, and sheer scale. But collectively, they represent the future. Regardless of the tariffs on products made in Chinese toy factories, the fact is that the owners of those factories would rather be making higher-value products. They’d rather have their workers be trained in how to assemble electronic products, medical devices, or any other products with high wholesale prices so that their fixed costs could be better leveraged. Makes sense, right? You’d rather sell a $50 talking doll than a $5 mini doll, if you had a choice. That means that these factories, over time, will price their services at higher levels. The abruptness of these tariffs is disruptive, no doubt. And the sophomoric way these policies are being formulated and disseminated via tweets is embarrassing. But a 15% tariff on toys might just make the product cost as much as it will in a few years anyway if wage rates continue to rise. Why not just think of the tariff as a bill delivered from the future that is coming due now? It won’t help with profits over the next 18 months, but it may spur companies to take actions they should be taking anyway. The increasing frequency of coastal hurricane flooding can remind us that maybe we shouldn’t be building expensive homes on sand bars. Similarly, maybe if we de-politicize the tariff discussion, we can see it as a call to look several chess moves ahead and take actions now that will pay off down the road. » Sean McGowan is a managing director on the consumer team of the Liolios Group, which provides capital market navigation and advisory services. He has been closely following the toy industry for more than 30 years, analyzing product trends, cost changes, marketing practices, and other aspects of how products and companies succeed (or don’t). In addition to toy companies, his clients include companies in the sporting goods, video game, esports, and consumer packaged goods businesses. He is also on the board of advisors of the Toy Industry Foundation. | SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019 | THE TOY BOOK



A Look at Toys Made Around the World as Talk of Tariffs on Chinese Goods Continues by JAMES ZAHN, senior editor WHEN IT COMES TO MANUFACTURING toys, it’s a complicated situation. Over the past 10 months, tariffs have dominated the headlines as the toy industry braced itself to possibly be swept up as part of more than $300 million in Chinese goods that could be taxed at up to 25% upon entry into the U.S. if the long-threatened “List 4” went into effect. Following July’s so-called tariff truce between President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping, the two nations remained in an uncomfortable holding pattern until a tweet changed everything at the beginning of August. President Trump declared Sept. 1 as the start of a 15% tariff, but on Aug. 13, the plan changed once more: the Office of the United States Trade Representative issued a revised plan for tariffs, splitting the previously announced list in two: 4A (Sept. 1) and 4B (Dec. 15). Toys are in 4B, giving the industry enough of a reprieve to get through the all-important holiday season largely unscathed, but not entirely. Numerous products are already impacted by the previously enacted 25% tax on certain raw materials that are used to create finished goods in the U.S. Additionally, the increased cost of living for American families — thanks to tariff costs on everyday products being passed on through manufacturing and retail channels — could further skew needs and wants, meaning less overall spend for non-essential items, such as toys and games. Due to the unpredictable nature of the current administration, tariff dates and amounts could change suddenly, so many companies continue to plan for mitigation.

For some members of the general public, the reaction to tariff talk has veered toward the knee-jerk comments of “bring production to the U.S.” or “move production elsewhere.” These are two prospects that the industry has considered many times over, only to discover a reality somewhere between “this will take many years to accomplish,” “this isn’t feasible,” and “this is impossible.” Still, toy production occurs throughout the world, largely in specialized, niche clusters that serve the distinct needs of comparatively few toymakers overall. In the U.S., it’s largely wooden toys and plastics, with a sprinkling of arts and crafts, sports items, and a few other odds and ends. Supply chains and sourcing are an equally complicated affair for companies based in other countries, with nearly no single country of origin. Although China dominates toy markets around the world, it is not the only country that is manufacturing toys. Here are some notable global destinations where toys are manufactured.

minds. Like the U.S., more than 70% of toys sold within the country originate elsewhere — mostly from China — according to DVSI, the German Toy Association. Playmobil, which could see a boost in some territories from Playmobil: The Movie this fall, produces its toys in Germany, Spain, and the Czech Republic, with its famed figures originating from a factory in Malta. Bruder continues to produce most of its highly detailed vehicle replicas and action figures at its headquarters located in Fürth, Germany.

DENMARK The birthplace of the famous Troll dolls, Denmark’s most-famous export is arguably the output of the LEGO Group. The famous bricks are largely manufactured in Denmark, Hungary, and Mexico. The company recently began production in China as well, but primarily to facilitate its own growth with consumers within that country — not for export purposes.

VIETNAM As one of the main territories to benefit from production exiting China, Vietnam has been increasingly building infrastructure. Many — but not all — of Hasbro’s Transformers action figures have shifted production to the country. This move started long before the trade war and is perhaps due more to growing IP theft, such as bootlegs and knockoffs, than production costs. Funko’s famed Pop! Vinyl figures are also a big export for Vietnam, with an increasing number of figures originating from the country. According to Funko CFO Russell Nickel, 70% of the company’s core production is taking place in Vietnam, with the remaining 30% distributed to facilities worldwide — including in the U.S. Takara TOMY produces most of its diecast Tomica vehicles in Vietnam as well.

GERMANY When thinking about German toys, the high-quality production and design out of Bruder and Playmobil come to most

MALAYSIA AND THAILAND According to Mattel, approximately 10 mainline, 1:64-scale Hot Wheels are sold every second, a fact that is reflected in


the brand’s continuing dominance on the NPD Group’s monthly sales charts. Those millions of die-cast vehicles originate mostly from Malaysia, where they’ve been produced for decades. In recent years, production has also ramped up in Thailand, where Hot Wheels vehicles are manufactured alongside another Mattel brand, Matchbox, which was originally produced in England. Like Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand are expected to benefit greatly from production leaving China. CANADA Creative Education of Canada manufacturers more than 80 of its popular kids’ costumes and role-play items from the Great Pretenders at its facility in Ontario. Mega Brands, purchased by Mattel in 2014, produces many of its items at a facility in Montréal.

a few categories. Green Toys (California) and Luke’s Toys (Connecticut) are both producing new creations from recycled materials, while Flexible Flyer continues making metal swing sets in Tennessee. In Eastern Ohio, there’s the power trio of plastics, with Little Tikes, Step2, and Simplay3 — all founded by Thomas Murdough — each producing rotationally molded toys and home products. Elsewhere in the state, Berlin Flyer Wagons continues to produce traditional wagons from steel and wood with an Amish workforce in Millersburg. Little Colorado produces its wooden toy boxes and toddler furniture in Denver, while American Plastic Toys crafts an assortment of items from facilities in Michigan and Mississippi. Crazy Aaron’s, Crayola, Twee Sidewalk Chalk, and K’NEX parts all originate from Pennsylvania.

MADE IN THE U.S. From Wiffle Ball bats to Slinky and Flexible Flyer swing sets, toys are still being made in the U.S., but mostly in just

CHINA Yes, China. Tariffs may put a dent in production, but they’ll hardly end it. In fact, the rebranded Kids2 broke ground

on a new, 72,000-square-foot manufacturing facility, currently under construction near the Jiujiang Port in Central China. Announced this summer during Kids2’s 50th-anniversary celebration, the project represents the first fully owned and operated manufacturing facility in history for the Atlanta-based makers of Baby Einstein, Bright Starts, and Ingenuity Baby. The new factory and its accompanying 65,000-square-foot office building will triple the overall Kids2 workforce with the addition of 1,000 employees who will fill management, operations, and factory roles at the new facility. If the facility is a success, Kids2 plans to build up to three additional factories. » James Zahn, best-known as The Rock Father, is a senior editor of the Toy Book, the Pop Insider, and the Toy Insider. Frequently called upon for expert commentary on the toy industry, he has been featured in Forbes, MarketWatch, and USA Today, and has appeared on CNN, GCTN, WGN, and more. You can also hear him voicing the Toy Report podcast.

Kids2 executives attend the “capping ceremony,” as the roof is placed on in its new facility in China. | SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019 | THE TOY BOOK   31


PEOPLE From top left: JoJo Siwa at Nickelodeon SlimeFest (Getty Images/Nick); Hasbro's Power Rangers at SDCC (Grace & Shine Photography); Hot Wheels Legends Tour; Amazon Treasure Truck Event

Toymakers and brands take the show on the road, while others build their own experiences. by JAMES ZAHN, senior editor IT’S 7 A.M. ON A SUNNY, SUMMER Saturday morning in Romeoville, Illinois, a community of about 40,000 people located 26 miles from the city limits of Chicago. Despite it being early, the parking lot of the local Walmart is packed, and there’s a distinct rumble on the ground with an element of excitement in the air. It’s a scene that’s been playing out on select weekends from coast to coast as Mattel brings its 2nd Annual Hot Wheels Legends Tour to Walmart stores from March to October, bringing families together for a celebration of something that’s no longer 32

just a toy, but a lifestyle. The Hot Wheels Legends Tour is a traveling car show that offers grassroots builders a shot at seeing their real-life creations immortalized as a 1:64-scale mainline Hot Wheels toy car. Eighteen winners will be chosen throughout the year, and the ultimate winner will be crowned at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas in November. The local stops are a fascinating portrait of America. Families and fans of all ages come not only to see the cars, but also to experience hands-on activities and activations. They also can get their hands on some toys and merchandise exclusive to each tour stop. For the Chicago-area date, legendary Hot Wheels designer Larry Wood helped judge, stopping every so often to mingle with fans and sign autographs. Near the center of the lot, the Hot Wheels Vending Truck set up shop to offer fans — some of whom camped out overnight — a chance to purchase exclusives.


Inside the store, the entire midway in front of the toy department was freshly stocked with new Hot Wheels products, brought in specifically for the event. From basic $1 cars to collector-focused, premium, die-cast vehicles, play sets, and licensed assortments, there was something for everyone, and the toy department was swarmed. People were buying toys — a lot of toys — and not just Hot Wheels. The event pulled in multistate traffic, and the additional shoppers were … shopping. The Legends Tour is one of the latest examples of a growing trend in which toymakers and pop culture and entertainment brands are starting to steer their own destinies by creating their own events and experiences, creating stronger connections with existing consumers while attracting new fans in the process. They’re taking their toys to the people, and as the saying goes: Nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd.

CONVENTIONS AND GATHERINGS Last year, as the toy industry worked to reconfigure itself and shift focus in hopes of filling the sales void left behind by the closure of U.S. Toys “R” Us stores, panelists at Comic-Con International: San Diego (SDCC) discussed the future of toy retailing. During the discussion, Jason Labowitz, co-founder and owner of Entertainment Earth, predicted a future in which the industry would thrive through in-person connections. “We’re sitting where the void is being filled,” Labowitz said at the time. “The presence of comic cons all over the world is the place where the toy industry can live. We can think about stores, and brick and mortar, but what we actually have here is the most dedicated group of fans and collectors, coming together at every con.” Perhaps more importantly, there are a lot of families present, and this summer, when the doors were opened for the 50th SDCC, the presence of toys and family entertainment were felt more than ever. At the Entertainment One booth, Peppa Pig and PJ Masks character appearances were enhanced by the opportunity to purchase limited-edition toys from Just Play. Across the hall, Basic Fun! was selling an exclusive My Little Pony Classics Majesty figure — a companion to the My Little Pony “Through the Years” set that Hasbro sold through its expanded Hasbro Pulse store. While the company has maintained a large presence at SDCC for many years, the depth of assortment — both on display and for purchase — seemed dedicated to bridging cross-generational families of fans. Likewise, Jazwares rolled into San Diego with exclusive Roblox, Fortnite, Feisty Pets, and Domez toys. At the sprawling Mattel booth and companion store, families could experience the return of HeMan and the Masters of the Universe, SheRa and the Princesses of Power, and get hands on with the latest toys from WWE, Hot Wheels, and more. Funko, known for having a massive booth at SDCC, expanded its space with two booths on opposite corners of the convention center. Fans lined up to purchase from an assortment


of more than 75 event-exclusive figures. The convention industry has been known to expand and contract from time to time, which presents some additional challenges in planning for the future as companies hit the road. In recent years, players such as ReedPop, Wizard Entertainment, ACE Comic Con, Walker Stalker and its FanFest Events, and numerous smaller organizations have been shuffling schedules as they compete for audience attendance and dollars, not just in major markets, but in second- and third-tier areas as well.

"We can think about stores, and brick and mortar, but what we actually have here is the most dedicated group of fans and collectors, coming together at every con." THE TRAVELING CIRCUS For decades, the “traveling salesman” was a staple of at-home retail sales, peddling everything from vacuum cleaners to greeting cards and packaged meats. Gone for a while, but never fully gone away, there has been an increase of at-home delivery in recent years — particularly in the food and beverage segment. Now, there are traveling salespeople hitting the road in specialized vehicles that range from converted food trucks and Sprinter vans to unique haulers, such as the Amazon Treasure Truck. The salespeople aren’t going door to door, but the Treasure Truck is this generation’s equivalent. According to Amazon, its Treasure Truck fleet has grown more than five times its launch scale, now encompassing vans and kiosks, and it’s worked with more than 1,000 real estate locations and brands to bring new products to the masses — including toys and games. Through the Treasure Truck, Amazon says that more than 80,000 games have


been sold, including board games, video games, and retro consoles, such as the Nintendo NES Classic Mini. The mobile distribution nature also makes it easy to plug the truck into bigger fan events and conventions. At this year’s Star Wars Celebration, presented by Lucasfilm, the Amazon Treasure Truck not only pulled into the convention center to sell items from a variety of brands and licensees, but it also used the in-person connection to build buzz for further online exclusives. The truck was also used to distribute a variety of Marvel-licensed toys during a philanthropic initiative tied to the premiere of Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Endgame. This summer, Basic Fun! used the Treasure Truck to launch series two of its Cutetitos collectibles range, and on the day of the season finale of HBO’s Game of Thrones (GoT), the Treasure Truck distributed a GoT bundle of Funko Pop! Vinyl figures at a discounted price. In August, WowWee used the Treasure Truck as part of its launch platform for the new line of Pinkfong Baby Shark plush — appropriately during Shark Week. “Collaborating on the Treasure Truck allowed us to leverage a new marketing channel and reach new customers with the popular Pinkfong Baby Shark song dolls,” says WowWee Brand Manager Emily Chacra. Similarly, the Hot Wheels Vending Truck from the Legends Tour has been making off-date stops at locations across the country, and Mattel is taking Barbie on the road, with the Barbie Truck: Totally Throwback Tour making its way across the U.S. through next year. Additionally, MGA Entertainment commissioned a converted food truck to launch its Hangrees parody collectibles range, with appearances throughout California following its debut on the streets of San Diego in July. GOING BIG FOR THE FULL EXPERIENCE When it comes to fully branded family events, there may be no better example than the Nickelodeon SlimeFest. Launched internationally to much success abroad, Viacom brought the event to the U.S. for the first time last year, following it up with another event this June.

The two-day, family event welcomes visitors to be fully immersed in the Nickelodeon lifestyle from beginning to end. Concerts featuring network stars and crossover staples, such as JoJo Siwa, Pitbull, and T-Pain, put some big talent on the marquee while young fans can meet actors and performers from their favorite Nickelodeon series; pose for photo ops with characters, such as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and SpongeBob SquarePants; and get active with physical challenges, such as obstacle courses, mazes, bounce houses, and more. There’s also cross-generational appeal, with throwback experiences tied to Nickelodeon’s ‘90s heritage — an era that is currently experiencing a renaissance. And as the name implies, there’s slime — thousands of gallons of the iconic green slime that’s been a staple of the Nickelodeon branding since You Can’t Do That on Television! arrived on the network in 1981. In Atlanta, Nickelodeon opened its first-ever Slime City pop-up this summer — a 20,000-square-foot location dedicated to being “the ultimate symbol of free-spirited mess and the physical embodiment of the fun and irreverent spirit of Nickelodeon,” according to Sharon Cohen, executive vice president of Nickelodeon Experience. “Our research shows today’s generation of kids count their parents as their closest friends, and families are increasingly looking for opportunities to spend quality time together,” Cohen says. “We want to be the platform that facilitates ‘making memories.’ To meet that demand, we’ve taken strategic steps to ensure we are well-positioned for the future, which includes continuing to make big moves into on-the-ground, live experiences like Nickelodeon SlimeFest, Nickelodeon Slime City, and our recently launched Good Burger Pop-Up Restaurant in Los Angeles.” While planting a flag in one city for a weekend makes a major statement, live theatrical tours have been an outlet for brand extensions and merchandising sales for decades. They’re continuing to do big business, with IP holders entering into partnerships with producers to bring

Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live's "Demo Derby" comes to life. Photo: Raycom-Legacy Content Co./Mattel

TV-first properties into a real-life setting. Baby Shark, PJ Masks, Disney Junior, and American Girl are among some of the recent brands going theatrical, joining long-time staples, such as Peppa Pig and Sesame Street. Now, arenas are in the mix, as Raycom-Legacy Content Co. brings Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live to arenas across the U.S. and Canada. The spectacle is so popular that it’s heading to Europe next year. The translation of popular Hot Wheels toy cars and trucks, including Bone Shaker and Rodger Dodger, into life-sized Monster Trucks (or, in some cases, Monster Cars) is wrapped in a 360-degree brand experience that has also become a six-episode TV series and fuels fan interest that drives them right back to toy departments. IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY MIGHT COME Temporary experiences are one thing, but permanent locations are gaining steam, particularly with dedicated Family Entertainment Centers (FECs). Last year, Hasbro announced a partnership with Kilburn Live to develop and build FECs across the U.S. and Canada. Using brands such as My Little Pony, Monopoly, Mr. Potato Head, G.I. Joe, Clue, Battleship, Hungry Hungry Hippo, Trivial Pursuit, Chutes and Ladders, and more, the company plans to “create interactive, immersive entertainment experiences in multiple activity zones.” Most recently, Hasbro unveiled a

partnership for a themed water park in Malaysia and a deal with Kingsmen Xperience Inc. to open NERF-specific FECs in the U.S. under the NERF Action Xperience name. The first international location will open in Singapore later this year. Months later, Mattel inked a deal with iP2Entertainment to create similar spaces geared toward kids ages 4-10. Initially, the project will focus on the first location — a 25,000-square-foot space that will open in Toronto next spring. Themed worlds based on Barbie, Hot Wheels, and Mega Construx will offer kids a variety of play experiences while the developers also promise family game nights, special events, experiential retail, and a full range of food and beverage options. Of course, Crayola has been perfecting the branded experience for years, with the Crayola Experience expanding beyond its Easton, Pennsylvania, roots, now boasting locations in five states. Each experience includes multiple worlds for kids to get hands on with Crayola products as they flex their imaginations and creativity. Like the FECs that are currently in the works, the Crayola Experience offers dining options and experiential retail, in addition to special events and seasonal fare. The bottom line is to connect with families wherever they are — and then tie it all together. “With engaging content, experiences and IP as the connectors, we can take audiences anywhere they want to go,” Nickelodeon’s Cohen says. » | SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019 | THE TOY BOOK   35



The Toy Book spoke to Marian Bossard, executive vice president of global market events at The Toy Association, about the changes to this year’s fall marketplace. There are some exciting changes to The Toy Association’s fall marketplace this year. What inspired the name change from Fall Toy Preview to Toy Fair Dallas? Marian Bossard: Toy Fair Dallas is an extension of Toy Fair New York, so we decided it was time to align our branding to reflect that. Toy Fair Dallas is unique in that it’s tailored to mass, long-lead, and specialty buyers who want to see what’s coming down the pike more than a year in advance of fourth-quarter sales. The fall marketplace continues to be a onestop shop for busy buyers, and it’s very forward-looking in terms of trends and product development. If you’ve been there, you know what I mean. It’s the only place to kick-start the fall planning cycle, and the place where the hottest trends in toys and play are born. Companies exhibiting at Toy Fair Dallas are encouraged to showcase this year’s holiday drivers, in addition to next year’s fourth-quarter products. Why? MB: Exhibitors will have the opportunity to hint at what’s coming next year — even as they celebrate what is already on shelves this holiday season — to influencers and other media in attendance. Next year is important, but so is generating exposure and additional interest in what’s out there and what’s right for consumers’ holiday shopping. Tell us about the FutureCast Gallery. MB: Retailers have asked us for the opportunity to see what’s next, what’s coming, and what themes they should be embracing next year, so we answered the call with the new FutureCast Gallery.


It’s a retail-driven, experiential initiative designed to highlight the industry’s best and brightest new toys and games in front of retail buyers and others exploring product at Toy Fair Dallas. The gallery will be guest-curated by Steve Starobinksy, founder of lifestyle brand Kid@Heart. He will select the top toys submitted across 10 different themes — from Radical Sustainability and Grandparent-Friendly to the Olympic Effect and Animal of the Year — that spotlight the future of the industry. Product submissions and ideas have been rolling in, and while I can’t give anything away just yet, I can say that the FutureCast Gallery promises to be an exciting and provocative touchpoint for the range of play professionals attending the fall marketplace. So far, what toy trends are you seeing for next year? MB: Trends that were hot this year will likely expand and evolve next year, including the unboxing craze and aspirational toys that foster STEM/STEAM learning and inspire children to imagine themselves in future careers. As for what will be new next year, only time will tell, but we do expect some of the FutureCast themes to materialize as trends on display at Toy Fair Dallas, as well as at Toy Fair New York. Toy Fair Dallas is the place to spot next year’s trends before anybody else. What else is new to the show this year? MB: We have new educational sessions this year that we are so excited about. First up is “Safely and Successfully Selling Your Toys in China,” hosted in


conjunction with Global Toy Experts and Messe Frankfurt. It will be held on both Wednesday and Thursday at 2 p.m. on the 13th floor, and will feature speakers from China and the U.S. who will provide valuable information on how to secure enforceable intellectual property protections and to successfully sell to retailers, as well as provide information on demographics, price points, profit centers, packaging, and consumer data and insights. Our second session is “STEM/ STEAM Formula for Success,” hosted by The Toy Association. Taking place both Wednesday and Thursday at 11 a.m. on the 13th floor, the session will reveal 14 unifying characteristics of STEM/STEAM toys and engage participants in various interactive exercises. Because influencers are increasingly becoming a major part of holiday purchases, we’re also hosting a tour for local toy influencers looking for the hottest products this holiday. Exhibitors will have the opportunity to meet and mingle with this group and participate in a 10-minute product demonstration. Last but not least, we are hosting a variety of networking events, such as the always-popular Opening Night Party on Wednesday, Oct. 2; an Ice Cream Social on Thursday, Oct. 3 at 3 p.m. in the FutureCast Gallery; an event for young professionals and those new to the industry; a “Magic Wheelchair” reveal of a custom wheelchair “costume” for a child in need; and more. Information about these events and everything else happening at Toy Fair Dallas can be found at »

GEOMAGWORLD Geomagworld expands its Magicube line next spring with STEMthemed Magicube Math & Word Building Sets. Kids ages 3 and up can use the magnetic cubes that connect on all sides to build mathematical equations and spell out words.

WREBBIT 3D Wrebbit 3D introduces the fourth model in its Diagon Alley Collection, the Wealeys’ Wizard Wheezes & Daily Prophet Wrebbit3D Puzzle. This 280-piece puzzle is designed for Harry Potter fans ages 12 and up and can be combined with the other puzzles in the series to recreate all of Diagon Alley.


Funrise’s Gazillion Bubble Rush 2.0 is designed to blow even more bubbles than its predecessor with a three-section, modular design; a removable, washable top; a translucent, solution-recycling tray; and a motor that is sealed inside the base. Kids ages 3 and up can place the bottle of solution upside down in the center of the machine and push the button for a no-mess bubble explosion. The bubble machine comes with an 8-ounce bottle of Gazillion Premium Bubbles Solution. Kids can blow bubbles on the go with Gazillion Roam ‘N Bubbles.. The self-balancing machine always stays right side up while it rolls, so there’s no risk of spills. Kids can pour the solution into the reservoir and press the button to start creating bubbles. Funrise expands its Rainbow Butterfly Unicorn Kitty line with new waves this spring. Three new styles of 9 Lives Surprise are launching, with eight styles in total, featuring more than 70 collectibles pieces for kids to unbox. Three new figures in the Power Figures Assortment are launching this spring as Walmart exclusives: Glow Felicity, Athena Hopping, and Yana. Each power figure in the assortment has its own feature. The figures are compatible with the current play sets, Felicity’s Bedroom Playset and Felicity’s Spa Playset,, which are sold separately. The Purrfect Party Plush Assortment expands with new characters coming this spring as Walmart exclusives: Rainbow Kitty and Yana. The Baby Plush Assortment includes 7-inch plush toys featuring Rainbow Butterfly Unicorn Kitty characters styled as babies. Kids can collect Baby Felicity, Baby Athena, Baby Yana, and Baby Miguel. Gazillion Roam ‘N Bubbles




Alex Brands launches the Knot-A Sequin Plush this spring, combining sequin flipping with the DIY trend. Kids ages 6 and up can stitch on the sequin layer, facial features, and more, then stuff and knot to create a sequin-covered plush pineapple, cupcake, or fox. Kids ages 8 and up can express their style with the Hair Highlighter,, available in pink and blue. The device glides on like liquid and will be available this spring. Alex Brands adds to its Scientific Explorer line this spring with the Mix & Make Squish Balls.. Kids ages 6 and up can choose from two assorted styles to make a squishy, sparkly, slime-filled ball inside a mesh casing that makes bubble effects when kids squeeze it. Slinky Pets are cuddly plush toys with a slinky body, launching this spring to celebrate Slinky’s 75th Anniversary.

AUTRUCHE BEVERLY HILLS TEDDY BEAR CO. Beverly Hills Teddy Bear Co. will expand its cuddly Tiny Tukkins line with new play sets and characters. Kids ages 3 and up can go on a royal adventure and discover new mystery characters, playful pals, and accessories with a fairytale theme.

Creagami, from Autruche, is a kit that teaches kids to create modular origami. The set includes sheets of various colors, each with 24 pre-cut cards and folding guides so that kids can make the necessary modules to create 3D sculptures. Dessineo teaches kids how to draw. Kids choose a model disc and place it on the luminous desk, and draw along with the step-by-step rotation. There are three levels of difficulty, with 30 drawing models in total. Kids can pack up the kit in a briefcase to take on the go. Autruche will also introduce a family of travel games for kids to play on the go, including dice and puzzle versions. Creagami

PLAYMATES TOYS Playmates Toys introduces toys next spring for Power Players, a new comedy animation series on Cartoon Network. The Power Players Basic Figure Assortment is made up of 5-inch, articulated figures with weapons and accessories. The assortment includes Axel, Masko, Sarge, Bearbarian, Galileo, and Madcap. The Power Players Deluxe Figure Assortment features 10-inch figures of Axel and Masko with built-in electronics. Both assortments are designed for kids ages 4 and up. Power Players Deluxe Figure Assortment



Slinky Pets


RELEVANT PLAY Relevant Play will expand its Mad Mattr line throughout next year. In the spring, the brand will introduce a sparkly Animal Mash-up pack, while the 10-Ounce Quantum Packs will shrink and retail with the new Mini Mad Mattr Mystery Packs. Then, GLOW Mad Mattr will debut next fall. The company also plans to grow its STEM- and robotics-focused Build a Bot brand next fall, with new pets that kids build.


The Green Toys Cargo Plane is a yellow and blue flier with a three-wheel design and a handle on the body, which kids can use to roll the plane or move it through the air. Kids can access the cargo hold with a flip-down door that doubles as a ramp for the included mini car. The plane is made in the U.S. entirely from recycled plastic. Designed for kids ages 3 and up, the plane will be available next year.

EPOCH EVERLASTING PLAY The original Calico Critters Village collection, from Epoch Everlasting Play, expands with the Red Roof series, featuring the Sweet Raspberry Home, Country Home, and Cozy Cottage. Kids ages 3 and up can connect the sets to build a home for their Calico Critter family. The Sweet Raspberry Home is the newest addition to the Village series, matching the detail and design of the Red Roof Cozy Cottage and Red Roof Country Home. The play set comes furnished with baby furniture and includes a Nursery Series Grace Hopscotch Rabbit figure. The Red Roof Country Home features four rooms, a terrace, a staircase, and lights. Kids can create various layouts in 90- or 180-degree angles or in a closed setting. The play set includes detailed furniture and accessories, as well as Heidi and Bell Hopscotch Rabbit figures. The Red Roof Cozy Cottage is furnished with a bed, a kitchen sink, a stove and oven, food, tables, chairs, and more. The set also includes a Bell Hopscotch figure. New Aquabeads sets feature a flip tray and bead receiver for kids to set artwork aside for faster drying while they create additional pieces. Kids can place beads onto the layout tray using a template or their imaginations, then spray with water to fuse the beads together. Once dried, they can share their creations with friends and family. The Beginners Studio comes with more than 840 jewels and solid beads in 16 colors. This kit includes a case, a flip tray with a bead receiver, a sprayer, a bead pen, and template sheets. Kids can create 3D Aquabead designs with the Deluxe Studio. This set comes with more than 1,300 jewel and solid beads in 24 colors, a container, two flip trays and bead receivers, a rainbow bead pen, a sprayer, and template sheets. This set connects to the Beginners Studio or Glamorous Designer Set. Kids can create safari-themed bead designs using two flip trays, stands, and play mats in the Box of Fun — Safari. The container fits all contents, which includes more than 3,000 jewels and solid beads in 24 colors. Each Aquabeads set is designed for kids ages 4 and up. Aquabeads | SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019 | THE TOY BOOK


Marshmallow Fun blaster


Zing will expand its Glove-A-Bubbles line next year, introducing new designs and patterns. Stikbot will celebrate its fifth anniversary with new multicolor figures and play sets, while Klikbot will expand with new figures, designs, and play sets. Following the acquisition of the Marshmallow Fun brand, Zing will refresh the full Marshmallow Fun blasters line with design enhancements for next spring.


Playtime for Cute Cats


Schleich introduces the Rabbit and Guinea Pig Hutch for kids ages 3-8. This travel-sized play set includes fence parts that can connect into different configurations and a seesaw that doubles as a ramp. The Playtime for Cute Cats set is designed for kids ages 3-8 and includes a scratching post, a cat house, and a ball of wool. The Blizzard Bear with Weapon is a large figurine designed for kids ages 5-12. The bear lives in the ice world of Eldrador and features an interchangeable weapon and moveable arms for interactive play. The Fire Eagle, on the other hand, lives in the fire world of Eldrador. Kids ages 5-12 can move the eagle’s wings for interactive play. Horse Club Hannah’s Western Riding Set is an interactive play set with a detachable figurine, a saddle, and a bridge. The obstacles are adjustable, and kids ages 5-12 can move Hannah’s arms for interactive play. The Flower Pegasus and Flower Unicorn Foal figures are part of the world of Bayala and are designed for kids ages 5-12.



The Playmobil Mermaid Cove with Illuminated Dome, from Playmobil, features a coral dome that lights up with colors. The mermaid figures feature moveable fins that allow them to stand on the ocean floor or sit down inside their coral home, which contains pillows and sea algae columns that can hold pearls. Designed for kids ages 4 and up, the set includes five figures, five collectible pearls, two dolphins, fish, seahorses, coral, algae scoops, and other accessories. It will be available this spring. The Playmobil My First Train Set features a colorful design and large, rounded pieces ideal for babies ages 18 months and up. The set includes three adult figures, a child figure, a train, a railway, sheep, a dog, flowers, and other accessories. It will be available this spring.

Playmobil Mermaid Cove with Illuminated Dome


Coding Critters Bunny

Learning Resources will introduce Steggy the Fine Motor Dino and Pedro the Fine Motor Peacock. Inspired by Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog, each item helps kids build multiple skills at once. Steggy the Fine Motor Dino introduces kids to new colors and numbers as they build hand strength and other fine motor essentials. It includes 10 numbered scales with indents for a two-finger pincer grasp, and the scales can be stored inside. Pedro the Fine Motor Peacock introduces kids to colors, shapes, and textures as they build hand strength, coordination, and other fine motor essentials. It includes five pushand-pull feathers. Both items are made for babies ages 18 months and up. Botley 2.0 is the next generation of Botley the Coding Robot. This new iteration features new functions and coding challenges. Kids ages 5 and up can build sequences up to 150 steps, explore Botley’s expanded personality traits, and go on adventures with a built-in sensor that lights up Botley in the dark. Kids ages 4 and up can hop into preschool coding with the Coding Critters Bunny, featuring Fluff the bunny and her two little pals. Kids can code Fluff to find the carrots, pull them along in her garden cart, and more. The set includes a coding storybook with activities. All of these items will be available next spring.


NKOK’s officially licensed, full-function R/C Polaris Sportsman XP 1000 is an ATV that is true to scale. The R/C features working lights, a detailed ATV rider, and a super turbo boost that quickly accelerates the vehicle with the push of a button. Kids can race multiple ATVs at the same time with the 2.4 GHz transmitter. The Mean Machine X-Treme Jeep Wranger Rubicon Rock Crawler with Action Mount is a full-function R/C that is 1:10 scale of the vehicle it is modeled after. The R/C features an innovative suspension system, a powerful motor, and high-grip tires. Kids can use the action camera mount, sold separately, to see rock climbing action in first person. The Supreme Machines line expands with three vehicles. The Fire Ladder Truck features a siren, realistic engine sounds, and a horn. The truck lights up and squirts water when kids push a button, and the ladder and hose rotate and elevate in different directions. The Garbage Truck lights up and features backup beeps, realistic engine sounds, trash-crushing sounds, and other sound effects. The trash arm dumps the trash bag into the bin, and the back of the bin opens up to reveal the secret compartment. The Rescue Helicopter features a motorized spinning rotor at the push of a button. It features realistic chopper sound effects, a siren, and LED lights. Earth Movers is a new line of toy construction vehicles. The seven-piece, DIY construction sets include powered and manual Phillips screwdrivers and a hex socket wrench for kids ages 3 and up to disassemble and Polaris Sportsman XP 1000 assemble all of the pieces. The front loader has a bucket and double booms; the excavator has an articulating boom, dipper, and grapple; and the incline elevator is articulated and has a bucket that fits the included boulder. NKOK’s Wow World line of prehistoric toys expands with two Dino Safari play sets.. The 160-piece play set and 310-piece deluxe play set each include an off-road vehicle that drives through kids’ creations with the push of a button. Kids can assemble the track pieces and set up the dinosaurs and obstacles. Both sets feature high-quality track pieces, palm tree pieces, and a bridge. Using the deluxe set, kids can go over and under the rock tunnel, smash through the Pterodactyl gate, drift around the rock mesa, and unearth hidden treasures behind three large boulders.




IScream introduces the Under the Sea Pillow Collection, designed for kids ages 5 and up. These furry pillows are made of faux fur and fleece material with glitter, foil, and embroidered details. They will be available in February in styles including octopus, seahorse, jellyfish, starfish, and axolotl.

TOYSMITH Toysmith expands its exclusive line of inflatables with Bobbin’ Buddies Mer Kitty. Designed for kids ages 5 and up, this inflatable pool accessory measures 35 inches and features a weighted bottom. It will be available in January.



Bonkers Toys expands its Ryan’s World line with Mystery Micro Figures. Each blind bag includes two micro figures, including Ryan, his animated friends, and sidekicks, such as Alpha Lexa, Peck, and Combo Panda. There are rare and ultra-rare figures for kids to collect. Ryan’s World Micro Figure 5-Pack includes 2-inch figures, with one figure shown and four in a blind package for the ultimate surprise. Next spring, Bonkers Toys will introduce Cap’n Ryan’s Dig & Discover Treasure, which combines digging with the surprise of unboxing an exlusive Ryan’s World Mystery figure. Designed for kids ages 3 and up, each toy includes a dig tool, an accessory, and a mystery figure. The FGTeeV Giant Mystery TeeV — Series 2 features new surprises. This unboxing experience features a retro TV carrying case, collectible mystery figures based on animated characters from the FGTeeV YouTube channels; plush; a surprise squishy; a 6-inch, articulated action figure; a hanger plush; and vinyl stickers. Each FGTeeV Mini Mystery TeeV includes a mystery collectible figure based on characers from the FGTeeV YouTube channels, photoreactive putty, vinyl stickers, and a mini black light.

Cap’n Ryan’s Dig & Discover Treasure



Enchanted Wands, from Cuddle Barn, make magical sounds when kids shake them. The top of the wand features a plush animal head, including a unicorn, a llamacorn, or a panda bear. Sleepy Heads are colorful furry heads that come in four animal themes: sloth, monkey, kitty, and llama. One side depicts the animal sleeping and the other side depicts the animal awake. Kids can press the button on the sleep face side to activate sleepy sounds or press the button on the awake side to activate giggly laughter sounds. Both items will be available next spring and are made for kids ages 3 and up.

Enchanted Wands

#SnapStar Fabulous Fashions: Vita’s Chic Clothing Rack

YULU YULU adds a new member to the #SnapStar squad with #SnapStar Fabulous Fashions: Vita’s Chic Clothing Rack.. Vita comes party-ready in a pink-and-white dress and pink heels. Her closet includes an additional outfit, a double-sided green screen, a green-screen doll stand, three hangers, and fashion accessories. Vita’s hair is removable, and kids can give her a digital makeover with the free #SnapStar Studio app. The doll is designed for ages 5 and up, and will be available this fall. Kids ages 4 and up can squish Smash Bugz bubbles — which fit inside the larger Bugz figures — to see slime burst out and potentially reveal a little Bugz figure. There are 64 Bugz characters to collect. Each Starter Pack includes six slime-filled bubbles, two small Bugz, a large Bugz, and a collector poster.


PLAY VISIONS Play Visions introduces new Foam Alive offerings next year. Foam Alive is a squishy, fluffy foam compound that moves in “flow motion” and never dries out. New products include Foam Alive Scents, the Foam Alive Glow in the Dark Hourglass, the Foam Alive 4-Pack, and the Foam Alive Tri-Color Bucket. Kids can compress Foam Alive Neon Motion Magic into any shape, then watch the brightly colored sand slowly separate and flow. With Foam Alive Slime Tubs, kids can mix slime with Foam Alive to create a new, compound. All Foam Alive products are designed for kids ages 5 and up.


Winning Moves Games will release several new titles next spring. Double Trouble, a game that originated in the ‘80s, features two Pop-O-Matic dice rollers and detour wheels, which can throw players off track. On each turn, players pop both dice rollers and move accordingly. If a player lands on another player’s piece, a Pop-Off Winning ensues. The first player to get both of their pieces to finish wins the game. Double Trouble is designed for kids ages 8 and up. Risk Europe is an enhanced game of conquest in which gamers will spend hours battling and strategizing to control Europe. Each player steps into the role of a medieval king and competes with a full army to expand his or her kingdom and take over Europe. Through tactical planning — and a little bit of lucky dice rolling — one player will conquer Europe and reign supreme. This game is made for players ages 14 and up. The Husker Du game engages kids while they search for matching objects. This classic, picture-matching memory game has been updated with vibrant new images. Kids ages 4 and up will learn memory skills; matching skills; how to take turns; and color, shape, and object recognition. The player with the most pegs at the end of the game wins. The puzzle icon of ‘80s pop culture is celebrating its 40th anniversary. The Rubik’s Cube 40th Anniversary Edition is the same Rubik’s Cube everyone knows — but with metallic colors. These metallic cubes can only be found on this special, anniversary edition. A new take on the Rubik’s 2-by-2 puzzle, Rubik’s Orbit challenges players to solve all of the six 360-degree rings to match the Rubik’s color all the way around the sphere. Both Rubik’s items are designed for kids ages 8 and up.




RUBIE’S COSTUME CO. Rubie’s Costume Co. introduces a licensed Stranger Things season three collection. The Costume Top Sets capture the likeness of each of the characters as they are portrayed in the third season of the Netflix show. The Steve and Robin Costume Top Sets feature a Scoops Ahoy printed costume top and cap. The Eleven Costume features the mall romper outfit with printed geometric designs. Each costume is available in child medium, large, and extra-large sizes. Rubie’s also introduces its licensed Baby Shark costumes and accessories. The Unisex Baby Shark Romper features the original “Baby Shark” song sound chip. It is available in a variety of sizes for infants, adults, and pets. The Mommy Shark and Daddy Shark Costumes include a soft, openface tunic that features a battery-operated sound box with the original “Baby Shark” song chip.

Next year, SmartZone introduces Soft and Cuddly Newborn Baby Keyara, part of the Kenya and Friends collection. This is the first time that Baby Keyara has a soft body and a new, 15-inch size. The doll is designed for kids ages 2 and up, is available in three skin tones — light brown, medium brown, and dark brown — and comes with a baby bottle. SmartZone will reveal a full line of accessories at Hong Kong Toy Show. SmartZone also expands its Mighty Wheels line with the Mini Mighty Wheels Playset and Carry Case. The Mini Mighty Wheels are 3-inch, die-cast construction vehicles designed for kids ages 3 and up. The five-piece set includes a cement mixer, a dump truck, a front loader, a crane, and a bulldozer. The vehicles come inside a case, which opens up to become a construction zone play set.

Eleven Costume


Peppa Pig Learning Watch

Kids ages 2 and up can learn math skills through four leveled-learning games with Watch from VTech. Kids will learn to count, choose the greatthe Peppa Pig Learning Watch, er or lesser number, sort, and match. The wristwatch entertains kids with Peppa Pig’s voice saying her favorite phrases, and eight choices of Peppa Pig clock faces. Kids can explore time concepts and build early habits with a cuckoo alarm, a timer, and a stopwatch. Keep the watch safe by closing the protective lid featuring Peppa Pig’s smiling face. With the PJ Masks Super Learning Flashlight, from VTech, kids ages 3 and up can shine a light on learning. They can play games with the flashlight’s Super Learning, Discover, and Time to Rhyme modes; answer questions with projected images from the show; and hear the voices of favorite characters, including Catboy, Gekko, and Owlette. Kids can pretend to solve a PJ Masks mystery as they explore the alphabet, numbers, colors, rhyming, and PJ Masks trivia. They can switch to flashlight mode to find their way in the dark. | SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019 | THE TOY BOOK


WILD & WOLF Wild & Wolf introduces Drawsome People,, a party game in which players draw famous characters, celebrities, and their fellow players. The game includes 75 name cards featuring 300 people and 20 bonus cards with extra challenges. No Llamas is a llamathemed card game with quirky illustrations. Players draw a numbered llama card and the next player must play a higher card. Players can play action cards or match cards together.


Kahootz Toys will expand its Y’Art activity line with licensed character kits, including those from Nickelodeon, Cloudco, Peanuts, and more. New designs will join jumbo classic masterpieces, such as the Starry Night, and deluxe craft kits will be available. The new kits will have a continued focus on mess-free creativity. The new Throwback Press product line features nostalgic classics, including Memory, the Original Waterfuls, Classic Colorforms, Spirograph, Popoids, Fashion Plates, and more. Each item will have retro-inspired packaging. Kahootz Toys will also expand its Spirograph line. Spirograph Fun Shapes is compatible with most other sets for kids to create even more designs. Colorforms will also expand with new licensed character kits, such as SpongeBob SquarePants, Care Bears, PAW Patrol, and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.


PlayMonster introduces Stacktopus next spring, a game in which one to three players race to stack colored cups to match the configurations on the colorful cards. The twist is that each player must wear three silly sea fingers, such as an octopus arm, and use only those fingers to grasp, hold, and maneuver the cups. The game is designed for kids ages 5 and up. PlayMonster’s Fuzzikins line expands next year with new animals and baby animals for kids to color, design, and play with on their own or with other Fuzzikins sets. The Fuzzikins line will also expand to include play sets and vehicles for kids to create their own animal worlds. The 3D fuzzy animals, including kittens, puppies, and bunnies, are covered in white flocking, and come with washable markers that kids can use to design, color, and decorate them. The color rinses off when the character is placed under running water. Once it’s dry, kids can start over. Fuzzi Babies introduces baby animals into the line, including a hamster, a lamb, and a monkey. Kids can build and design the animals’ beds, design and color the figures, and tuck them away for a nap.



Fuzzi Babies

HOG WILD Kids can create their own golf courses anywhere they want with Birdie Golf Golf, from Hog Wild. With this new take on a classic game, kids can toss the flag out to create each hole, set the ball up on its built-in stand, and swing. The birdie tail acts as a tee and keeps the ball in play, no matter how powerful the swing, and prevents the ball from rolling away.


Magformers introduces the Clicformers Brave Friends 74-Piece set, launching next year. Kids ages 4 and up can combine the included pieces to build a Welsh Corgi, a Shiba, and a Golden Retriever. Babies can explore tactile learning and magnetic play with the Stick-O Basic 30-Piece set. Each Stick-O piece uses rotating magnets so kids’ creations always stick together. The rainbow-colored pieces come in a variety of shapes, including spheres, sticks, cones, and more. They are designed for babies ages 18 months and up. The Magformers Basic Plus 30-Piece set includes new magnetic circles, square inner circles, and circle pieces that kids can combine with classic Magformers squares and triangles. Kids can learn to build using combine, roll, and pull-up techniques. Basic Plus 30-Piece set


Thames & Kosmos introduces Creatto, a building system with plastic, interlocking tiles that kids can configure into countless 3D creations, adding strings of colored LED lights to illuminate the art. In the spring, the company will release five Creatto kits: Elephant, Moose, Kitty Cat, Unicorn, and Shark. The kits each include instructions for four different configurations and are designed for ages 6, 8, or 9 and up. Next fall, the company expands its Robotics: Smart Machines line with Robotics: Smart Machines — HoverBots with BalanceTech. Kids ages 8 and up can build and program eight robots that balance on two wheels, and code programs for the robots using a virtual programming app. The kit includes 227 building pieces. Four new EXIT: The Game additions will debut next year, bringing the series’ total games to 17.




Odyssey Toys introduces Quincy the Robot Artist. Kids can scan any of the 64 included QR cards and draw along with Quincy, play simple math games, or learn how to spell.

Snot Nose

WICKED COOL TOYS 343 Industries appointed Wicked Cool Toys as global toy licensee for the upcoming Halo Infinite video game, which debuts next holiday season. The company has the rights to create several categories of toys, including action figures, vehicles, play sets, plush, and role-play items. The company is also set to serve as global master toy licensee for Hasbro’s Micro Machines, a popular toy line from the ‘80s and ‘90s. The new line of Micro Machines is set to debut next fall. Wicked Cool Toys expands its Blinger line with CrystalClix, a styling tool that includes Swarovski crystals. Like the Blinger, this tool can add sparkle to hair, clothing, and accessories. Lunch Pets are plush animals with space inside that keeps kids’ lunches fresh. There are currently four styles available — SnackyCat, Yumicorn, HungryPup, and Munchosaur. The line will expand with new additions next year.


Far Out Toys introduces the Snot Nose game, in which players take turns pulling a booger out of the oversized nose. If the booger pulls out cleanly, they are still in the game. But, if players activate a Snot Gush, they’re out of the game. Snot Nose will be available next fall. The Pulp Heroes Snap Bots line will expand next year. The Marvel collection will include Captain Marvel, and the Star Wars offering will expand with Princess Leia. The flat, spring-loaded characters snap into 3D form when kids take them out of their colorful, comic book-themed protective sleeves. The Pulp Heroes Snap Bots spring into action with pullback motor technology. The new characters will be available next spring. Both new items are made for kids ages 5 and up.


Hape will introduce the Kitchen with Light & Sound,, which includes realistic cooking sound effects and a light-up stove. The set is made for kids ages 3 and up. The Hape Animated City Puzzle is a cityscape-themed puzzle that includes more than 40 animations. It is designed for kids ages 4 and up. Kids ages 4 and up can explore physics and engineering with the Hape Junior Inventor Advanced Expansion Pack.. The set includes easy-to-use pieces, stickers, tools, and seven inspiration cards to give kids ideas to expand on the original sets. The Hape Rice Ratting Ring Teether eases the discomfort of teething and has a gentle ratting sound that stimulates auditory awareness. The teether uses eco-friendly materials that contain Japanese rice, which is safe for kids and the environment. With Hape Silly Spaghetti,, kids can bend and twist the pasta into any shape and then attach 11 pieces of food to create a toy meal or a noodle face.



Kitchen with Light & Sound


Happy Products introduces Happy the Birthday Bird,, a keepsake plush and book set that teaches kids about the tradition of birthdays. Wearing metallic sneakers and a backpack, the plush bird comes with a storybook about overcoming his challenges following his dreams to fly, and helping kids have the best birthdays. Using the book, kids can also count down to every birthday and save memories on the interactive memory pages.


THE LEARNING JOURNEY The Learning Journey launches the R/C Dancing Unicorn, an interactive unicorn that responds to actions on the corresponding remote. The unicorn can talk, sing, dance, and play music when kids ages 3 and up select the correct answers on the control. The unicorn has two modes: action and learn. Kids ages 6 and up can build a roller coaster with Slingshot 2.0. The construction set includes more than 80 pieces, a chrome marble loop, and turning translucent tracks that kids can connect to create a marble and gear run. The Crankster 2.0 is a hands-on construction set for kids ages 6 and up to create their own marble and gear run. The set features a hand crank that kids can use to move the marbles through the bucket and a chain lifter mechanism on the twisting, turning tracks.

Adora’s Cuddle & Coo Baby dolls are interactive dolls that react with five realistic features when kids ages 3 and up nurture them, including crying, cooing with delight, giggling when tickled, kissing, and saying “Mama.” The dolls feature a soft body, silky hair, a removable outfit, and eyes that open and close. They come in two varieties: Cuddle & Coo Baby Cuppy Cake and Cuddle & Coo Baby Unicorn Magic. Sunshine Friend Skye joins the Sunshine Friends collection. When kids place the doll in the sunshine, her UV-activated bathing suit will appear. Skye features brown braids, an ice cream-themed dress, yellow flip-flops, a towel, and a UV-activated swimsuit. The 8.5-inch SplashTime Baby Tot Fun Rainbow doll features a soft body with baby powder-scented vinyl, a printed swimsuit, an embroidered towel, and an inflatable floatie. The waterproof doll can suck its thumb. Designed for kids ages 3 and up, the dolls are available in Fun Flamingo, Sprinke Donut, Sweet Pineapple, and Magical Unicorn. Slingshot 2.0 Cuddle & Coo Baby Cuppy Cake




TREE HOUSE KIDS Tree House Kids adds to its THK Imagination Adventure Series with the 2020 Jeep Gladiator model vehicle, featuring working doors and custom decorations. Kids ages 3 and up can customize the Jeep with a hard cover or an open roof, standard or bar doors, and a removable light bar.



Phoenix International Publications (PI) will introduce the Little Music Note 6-Button Frozen 2 sound book this March to accompany the Frozen 2 ďŹ lm. The book is designed for kids ages 3-6. DreamWorks presents the Little Sound Book Trolls: World Tour based on the new ďŹ lm Trolls: World Tour. The interactive sound book will be available in March. The Voice Changing Microphone Book Trolls: World Tour is a sound book with a voice-changing microphone, launching in March. The Busy Baby Book Baby Einstein: Busy World is a STEMbased storybook, launching in April. Babies can slide, spin, and dial along with the rhyming story and interactive activities. PI Books will introduce the Me Reader Peppa Pig reader library this April. The set includes eight illustrated Peppa Pig books and a Me Reader Module that reads the stories aloud. Kids ages 3 and up can press buttons to hear stories and sounds.



Vendees, from Horizon Group USA, are surprise-style dispensers that include six surprises revealed through interactive packaging. Kids ages 6 and up can unwrap the Vendees dispenser, and then explore the different pull tabs and compartments to unveil surprises, including key chains, erasers, stickers, and scrunchies. Once all six surprises are revealed, kids can get creative with various activities, such as making custom lip balm creations and painting fun ceramic ďŹ gures. Themes include Rainbow Lip Balms, Sweet Treat Bath Bombs, Go Wild Nail Art, and Solo Unicorn Paintables. Create the ultimate spa experience with the STMT D.I.Y. Cosmetic Case. Teenagers ages 14 and up can create one-of-a-kind creations that make their nails pop and skin shimmer. They can design salon-quality nails using vibrant nail polish colors and decals to complete their look, or add glitz and glam designs to their body with colorful body glitter and metallic tattoos for the ultimate, shimmery detail. They can also whip up signature formulas and unwind with three soothing face masks. Horizon Group USA also introduces the Sew-Mazing Create Your Own Unicorn, with which kids can sew their own 3D unicorn busts. Kids can learn the basics of sewing while creating a new piece of decor. This kit is made for kids ages 6 and up. Kids can mix, color, and create sparkling 3D art with the Making in the Moment Slimy Window Art kit. Kids ages 6 and up can choose a suncatcher design and ďŹ ll it in with iridescent, pre-made Slimygloop. Once the Slimygloop is dry, kids start coloring and design their suncatcher creation however they want. With the Baby Shark Grab & Go Activity Kit, kids can embellish coloring pages, sticker sheets, and shark shapes with vibrant patterns using colorful markers and washable crayons. Kids ages 3 and up can make each page pop with creativity using exciting, pre-colored stickers and stamps. All Baby Shark art creations can be stored in the sturdy case. | SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019 | THE TOY BOOK



Handstand Kitchen introduces the two-piece Dino Cookie Cutter Set, launching this spring. Kids ages 5 and up can make prehistoric cookie-saurs with the two included dinosaur-shaped cookie cutters.



Plus-Plus introduces Plus-Plus GO! for kids to build cars, trucks, and other vehicles. This set will add movement and STEM concepts to the line of building pieces. A new collection of Tubes will launch with an insects range, including butterfly and praying mantis versions. It will be available in lime green and dark red. The Learn to Build series expands with new construction sets. The collections include new themes, such as jewelry, sports, and more. These building sets will be available in the spring.

Goliath will launch SuperThings next spring. There are more than 80 characters for kids to collect. Each character has a rival, such as Pow Corn (popcorn) and Sugar Rush (soda). The SuperThings live in hideouts in Kaboom City, have superpowers, and drive supercars. SuperThings characters are designed for kids ages 5 and up. Made for kids ages 5 and up, MojiPops are collectible characters with swappable expressions. Kids can collect characters from all eight categories, including home, pets, nature, travel, music, food, sports, and glitter. Launching next fall, the product line will include blind bags and play sets. In TP Me,, players take turns wearing a tree headband while their friends launch colored rolls of toilet paper from their catapults into the tree. After one minute, players get a point for each roll they’ve snagged, and the tree gets a point for each one they catch. After each kid has played as the tree once, all points are tallied. The player with the most points wins. The game will launch next fall for kids ages 5 and up. Junk Drawer is a box full of random small items, and opens and closes like a drawer. Players draw cards to complete a variety of challenges, such as remembering what was in the junk draw or using the items inside to act out a scene. Players will earn points when they complete challenges, and whoever gets to five points first wins. The game will be available next fall for kids ages 8 and up. Available next fall for kids ages 4 and up, Burping Bobby is a skill and action game in which players take turns feeding the hippo until his mouth pops open with a loud burp.




Arthur’s Toy House Book and Play Set


Party Animal introduces the Party Animal Big Team Ride Ons, 12-volt, battery-powered cars that ride at two speeds. The cars come decorated with NFL and MLB sports paraphernalia and designs and feature LED lights, car horn sound effects, and a radio to play eight included songs. Kids ages 3 and up can self-drive the car, and parents can help control using the included remote. The Party Animal Big Shot Ballers is a collection of 5-inch replica figures of licensed NFL athletes. Series one includes players Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, and more. Party Animal Big Shot Ballers — Aaron Rodgers


Arthur’s Toy House Book and Play Set, from Storytime Toys, is a 3D play set made with foam and cardstock, based on the Arthur PBS series and books by Marc Brown. The house is designed to resemble Arthur’s and D.W.’s bedrooms, the family’s kitchen, and the living room. The set includes figures of Arthur’s family and an Arthur Helps Out storybook. Kids can fit the pieces together like a puzzle, which folds flat in a portable carrying case. DW’s First Day of Preschool Book and Play Set includes a book about D.W.’s first day of preschool and a 3D set of her classroom. Kids can assemble the pieces together to make the classroom and playground. Kids can build a 3D model of Arthur’s tree house with Arthur’s Tree House Book and Play Set. Kids can pose the character figures on bikes, climbing trees, playing in the tree house, on the rope swing, or climbing the rope ladder. Recommended for kids ages 3 and up, the sets will be available in January.

MASTERPIECES MasterPieces builds on its Lionel license to launch three new magnetic, wooden train sets. Kids ages 3 and up can play with the Lionel Original Steam Engine Set, the Lionel Santa Fe Cargo Train Set, and the Lionel Steam Engine & Coal Car. MasterPieces expands its CAT brand product line with new games, including CAT Checkers, the CAT Matching Game, and CAT Wooden Craft Painting Kits. In CAT-branded Builder-Opoly Junior, players ages 6 and up try to collect all the authentic CAT equipment they’ll need to complete the construction job. Through its partnership with Kaskey Kids, MasterPieces will have official licenses with several sports leagues, including the NFL and MLB, to release sports action figures in newly designed toy boxes. Each one will house 24 figurines and accessories across titles, such as Football Guys and Baseball Guys. | SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019 | THE TOY BOOK


Cry Babies Kristal Gets Sick & Feels Better


Rubik’s introduces Rubik’s Cage, a fast-paced strategy game, from University Games, in which players aim to get three cubes in a row. Players can twist, turn, and flip the cage to reshuffle and deter their opponents. The player with the most rows wins the game.


IMC TOYS IMC Toys expands its Cry Babies line with two products this fall. Kids can immerse themselves in imaginative roleplay as they nurse Cry Babies Kristal Gets Sick & Feels Better back to health. They can cool down her fever, give her an injection to clear up her red spots, and give her medicine for a cough. Kristal comes with accessories, including a pacifier, a stethoscope, a thermometer, and more. The Cry Baby Magic Tears dolls are miniature, collectible dolls that come in blind-bottle houses and wear animal onesies. Each doll comes with eight accessories, including a chair, a blanket, and a sippy bottle. There are 12 dolls to collect, in addition to one rare doll. Kids can also watch the Cry Babies Magic Tears animated series on YouTube and Amazon Prime. All Cry Baby dolls mentioned above can cry tears and are designed for kids ages 3 and up.

Fat Brain Toy Co. introduces InnyBin, a new take on a shape-sorting box. Babies ages 6 months and up can push shapes through the cube, which has elastic bands. The six chunky, shaped blocks — a cube, a diamond, a sphere, a triangle, a flower, and the Fat Brain Toy Co. logo — are designed with different textures. InnyBin encourages fine motor skills, tactile exploration, and experimentation. In GridBlock, players take turns placing their game pieces onto the grid; pieces of the same color must touch, but pieces of the same shape must not. Meanwhile, players also want to keep as many pegs adjacent to their game pieces open as possible. Whoever places the most pieces onto the grid wins the game; or, whoever has the most open pegs surrounding their game pieces wins. The game encourages strategy, planning, critical thinking, and logic. GridBlock is made for two to four players ages 8 and up. PipSquigz Ringlets are six silicone rings that feature vivid textures and suction cup connectors. Babies ages 6 months and up can loop them together or pull them apart to hear them pop. Parents can hook them to a stroller, a car seat, a bounce chair, and more. PipSquigz Ringlets encourage fine motor skills, sensory exploration, and tactile learning. Babies ages 6 months and up can experiment with balance and movement with SpinnyPins. Each of the five colorful pins features two types of surfaces — smooth and coated — plus a weighted base that wobbles. Babies can fit the pins into the slots of the big bowl, either upside down or right side up, matching the colors as they go. A bump on the bottom of the bowl keeps it constantly tilted. Gridblock



TOYSMITH Toysmith introduces its first space-themed toy with the Epic Stretch Astronaut. The astronaut is 8 inches tall and can stretch up to 24 inches, always returning to its original shape. It is designed for kids ages 3 and up.


Panda Mony Toy Brands introduces Alter Nation action figures, a 1:12-scale line with a variety of play features tied to the characters’ animal abilities. The figures in the first phase, based on a secret government experiment that created human-animal hybrid heroes, come in basic and deluxe sizes. Each figure includes an accessory and a collectible, mini comic book for that specific character. The first phase features three heroes and a villain at the basic size, and a hero and a villain at the deluxe size. Alter Nation action figures are made for kids ages 6 and up.


With the Harry Potter Invisibility Cloak, from Wow! Stuff, kids can appear to disappear, just like the legendary boy who lived. Using the Wow! Stuff app, kids ages 6 and up can recreate memorable scenes from the Harry Potter movies while wearing the cloak. After filming and photographing their magical adventures, kids can share them with their fellow wizards. A deluxe version of the cloak is also available. Tom Riddle’s Diary Notebook is a diary set for Harry Potter fans to leave mysterious notes and messages, just like the ones seen in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. The included Slytherin House pen is filled with invisible ink, which can only been seen under the glowing wand’s UV light. Kids ages 8 and up can also attach the wand to a key ring. New for this holiday season, K-Blings is an accessory line for kids to customize and protect their charging cables. Collectible Epic and Rare characters are available in each collection in blind bags, three-packs, and five-packs. Made for kids ages 3 and up, styles include Rick and Morty, Harry Potter, and the Emoji brand. The Mystery Flying Snitch appears to fly around magically, giving the illusion of flight. The Snitch features flapping wings and is suitable for cosplay or display on the included platform when not in flight. The Mystery Flying Snitch is suspended by a highly stretchy thread that is almost totally invisible from 6 feet away. This item is designed for kids ages 8 and up. Wow! Stuff also introduces the Talking Dobby Plush. Kids ages 3 and up can press Dobby’s belly to hear six classic phrases from the Harry Potter films. Featuring poseable arms and legs, Dobby can sit or stand in any position.




Tree Rex, from Cuddle Barn, is a T. rex dressed as a Christmas tree. The plush animal dances up and down while the tree lights up to the Cheerful classic holiday song “Rockin’ Around the Chipper Christmas Tree.” Tooty Rudy is a walking reindeer plush that makes fart sounds and trots around and shakes its tail to “We Wish You a Smelly Christmas.” Cheerful Chipper is a chipmunk in a Christmas tree that spins around and lights up to a chipmunk-voice version of “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” All of the plush animals are made for kids ages 3 and up.


The Giant Color Morph Bubble Ball, from Play Visions, is a stress ball that features a unique rope material that creates bright bubbles when kids squeeze it. Designed for kids ages 8 and up, the colors change from purple to bright green. Foam Alive is a squishy, fluffy foam that moves in “flow motion.” Kids ages 5 and up can place the compound in their hands to let it flow through their fingers, which makes it look like it’s melting. Foam Alive is mess-free and easy to clean up. With the Crayola Dough Fast Food Fun play set, kids can mold their own mini hamburgers, fries, and chicken nuggets with the soft, non-toxic modeling compound. Made for kids ages 3 and up, the set includes 11 life-like molds, such as hamburgers, fries, cheese, and lettuce cutters, as well as four packs of Crayola Dough.

THAMES & KOSMOS Thames & Kosmos launches the Adventure Games series of cooperative board games for up to four players. Each title plays out in three chapters, and players work together to navigate the story and determine how it ends. Players must devise a plan by exploring spaces, combining items, and finding clues — similar to a PC adventure game. The line includes Monochrome Inc., designed for ages 16 and up. It is set in the headquarters of an evil biotech company. The Dungeon, another game in the line, is designed for kids ages 12 and up. Players must work to escape a dank dungeon. Cities: Skylines — The Board Game is inspired by the video game of the same name. Players ages 10 and up work together to plan, build, and manage a city. They begin with a blank canvas on which they must develop residential, commercial, and industrial areas to create new neighborhoods and maintain a happy population. Players much be strategic and consider the environment, crime, traffic flow, education, financial resources, and other factors. Thames & Kosmos also expands its Robotics: Smart Machines line with Robotics: Smart Machines — Tracks & Treads. Designed for kids ages 8 and up, the set focuses on motorized machines that make use of continuous tracks (or tank treads) to move themselves and other objects. Kids construct the models, then control them using programs and an ultrasound sensor, with the included visual programming app. The set includes 197 building pieces.




YuMe Toys introduces the Harry Potter Infinity Box Box. Available as either an 18- or 24-piece set, the box features drawers that each have surprise Harry Potter collectibles inside. To discover all of the drawers, kids ages 9 and up must rotate the box multiple times. The Voice Activated Batmobile is a voice-activated personal assistant for kids ages 13 and up. It is a stylized replica of the Batmobile that responds to commands that start with “Hey, Batmobile.”


Pillow Pets introduces the Pillow Pet Llama this fall, designed for kids of all ages. This wide-eyed llama is a plush pet by day and turns into a comfy pillow by night. Kids can also collect Pillow Pets featuring designs based on Elmo, Disney’s Puppy Dog Pals, Thomas the Train, Frozen 2, Secret Life of Pets, Toy Story 4, How to Train Your Dragon, unicorns, pandas, and puppies.

Harry Potter Infinity Box


Crazy Aaron’s Wow Set for kids ages 8 and up includes Thinking Putty in four special effects: Mini Eternal Flame, Mini Liquid Glass, Mini Eye Candy, and Alien. The gift set includes a mini tin bag clip to take Thinking Putty on the go. Let It Glow Thinking Putty is frosty, violet putty that shimmers with magenta and turquoise sparkles. Kids ages 8 and up can turn out the lights and watch as it shines bright with an icy, blue glow. With White Out Hyperdot Thinking Putty,, kids ages 3 and up can watch as iceblue flecks, flakes, and flurries disappear into a blizzard of snow white with just the heat of their hands. Kids can put White Out against a cold window and watch as the blue frost reappears. Crazy Aaron’s Mini Happy Holidays Trio is a putty gift set for younger kids to deck the halls with Thinking Putty. The trio includes everything kids ages 3 and up need to get set for December. Inspired by classic winter sights and sounds, the set includes Mini Silver Bells Thinking Putty, Mini Holiday Lights Thinking Putty, and Mini Ornament Thinking Putty. Kids ages 8 and up can make the holiday shine with Festival of Lights Cosmic Thinking Putty.. The royal blue putty sparkles with silver glitter by day and flickers with tiny amber flecks at night — just like the light of Hanukkah candles.






J!NX introduces Minecraft Mobbins Vinyl Figures, a collection of vinyl figures sold in blind packs. These intricate collectibles stand at 2 inches tall and feature large heads that kids can turn. Characters include Diamond Steve, Enchanted Alex, Creeper, Enderman, Pig, Tamed Wolf, Llama, Zombie, and the rare Drowned character.

The USS Missouri (BB-63) building set, from COBI, is a 1:300-scale model of the last battleship built by the U.S. The set includes 2,400 blocks and a display base plate, and it stands at 30 inches long and 7.9 inches wide when built. There will be two versions of this model. No. 4812 will be part of COBI’s Historical Series, while No. 3084 will be licensed from the online game World of Warships. The instructions will come with a bonus code for the PC version of the game. The build time for the USS Missouri set is approximately eight hours. COBI also introduces a building kit for the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, an American four-engine, long-range heavy bomber created by the Boeing Airplane Co. and used by the Allies during WWII. It is COBI’s largest plane construction block set to date and features moving parts, such as wheels, wings, ailerons, propellers, and on-board weapons. The set includes more than 900 bricks and is compatible with other construction block brands. USS Missouri (BB-63)


Wild & Wolf’s Ridley’s Games line expands with the Cocktail Party card game. Players must collect the right ingredient cards to make the highest-scoring cocktails before last call — and tip the bartender as they go. The game includes an actual cocktail shaker and recipes so that players ages 21 and up can enjoy a drink while they play. Only one person can survive the zombie apocalypse and get to the safety of the rescue helicopter in Selfish: The Zombie Edition. Players must use the remaining survival supplies to advance through a wasteland overrun with the undead, battling against broken ankles, roving bandits, and each other to win. Gameplay continues even after players turn into a flesh-eating zombie, in which their turns will be used to terrorize and prevent fellow players from winning the game. The game is made for two to five players ages 7 and up. Think Fast is a fast-paced trivia quiz game in which teams go head to head in three rounds. With each round, the answers stay the same but the questions get harder, until players are only given one word. Teams have 30 seconds to answer questions on topics, such as avocados, Darth Vader, reindeer, and more. Made for more than three players ages 8 and up, the game includes 400 question cards, a score pad, and a sand timer. In Smashing Pumpkins, players race to get rid of their cards by making matches and watching out for spooky ghosts. The cards feature pumpkin-themed images, such as lattes, pies, and soup. The game is made for more than two players ages 6 and up. | SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019 | THE TOY BOOK


SOPHIA’S This fall, Sophia’s introduces a four-piece Rock ‘N Roll Guitar Set for 18-inch dolls. Designed for kids ages 5 and up, the set includes a moving microphone stand with a matching flower base, hot pink flower sunglasses, and a guitar. The guitar is decorated with pink, purple, and white stars and features clear strings, fret boards, and a fabric strap with a hook and loop closure. The set also comes with stickers that kids can use to personalize it.



Playfoam Pluffle, from Educational Insights, is a mixable, fluffy compound that doesn’t dry out. Kids ages 5 and up squish it and release to watch the Pluffle flow together. There are eight sparkling colors packed with glitter, and kids can create mixes by combining their favorite colors. The compound won’t lose its texture, which helps kids with sensory learning, when kids mix the colors together.

Wicked Cool Toys’ Glitza is a line of glitter tattoos. Each kit comes with two design transfer sheets, more than 50 designs, a brush, and four pots of cosmetic-grade glitter. Content creator PrestonPlayz, known for his love of slime, is developing a line called PrestonPlayz Floop.. This gooey compound will be available in a variety of textures and colors. Wicked Cool Toys+LAMO is a line of augmented reality (AR)-enabled collectible figures inspired by gamers, influencers, musicians, and athletes. The figures are compatible with an AR app that features digital content, animated interactive stories, and multiplayer games. For the Pokémon brand, Wicked Cool Toys will introduce the next generation of Pokémon Sword and Shield products, such as the interactive My Partner Pikachu toy, which utilizes sensory technology for games and responsive play. The company will also introduce a number of new Cabbage Patch Kids products, including 14-Inch Kids and Lil’ Surprise Reveal. With Hank’s Twisted Challenge,, players hold twisted wires in their mouths, twisting and turning their bodies to get a ball off of the wire. The game includes challenge cards for increased difficulty.




University Games launches Dog Man Attack of the Fleas, a game based on the Dog Man book series by Dav Pilkey. It is a cooperative board game designed for kids ages 6 and up in which players work together to stop the Robo-Brontosaurus from destroying the city. The company also relaunched Sort It Out,, a fast-paced game in which players compete to sort items from 250 categories in order of the biggest, fastest, loudest, smallest, or longest. University Games will bring Abalone back to the North American market. This head-to-head strategy game is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year and has sold more than 10 million units worldwide.


Far Out Toys introduces Adventure Force NASCAR Crash Racers, a track set in which kids can race, wreck, and rebuild their cars on an officially branded NASCAR track. The set includes more than 16 linear feet of double-wide track in a figure 8 configuration, featuring a Crash Zone intersection and official NASCAR branding and sponsored billboards. Kids can start their engines by flash-charging vehicles in 10 seconds or less; one charge provides enough power for up to 50 laps without needing to refuel. This set is made for kids ages 5 and up. Pulp Heroes Snap Bots are collectibles that spring into action. The flat, spring-loaded characters snap into 3D form when kids take them out of their colorful, comic book-themed protective sleeves. The Pulp Heroes line will debut with Marvel characters, including Spider-Man and Iron Man. Other licenses, such as Star Wars characters, will be introduced each season. Kids ages 5 and up are encouraged to post fan films starring their Pulp Heroes and share them on YouTube. Far Out Squaire is a challenging mastery game that tests kids’ skills at controlling a floating cube with a specially designed fan while performing stunts and keeping the Squaire in the air. Players can also create team-based challenges, such as passing the cube between players. The game is designed for kids ages 8 and up. Far Out Toys has teamed up with the Ryan ToysReview YouTube channel for a line of Ryan’s World games. Springin’ Spiders is a fast-paced game in which players take turns launching spiders into the air and onto the web. Players will spring their spiders at enemy arachnids, knocking their opponents’ spiders off the web and onto the ground. The player with the most spiders on their side of the web when the timer runs out wins. In Ryan’s World Boneless Chicken Launch, kids load up their flock of floppy chickens on a launcher that makes Adventure Force funny squawking sounds and sends the chickens NASCAR Crash Racers soaring toward a fence, where each rung is worth a different number of points. Players land the chickens on the fence to score, and the player who scores the most points wins. Both Ryan’s World games are made for kids ages 5 and up.




The Babble Baby dolls, from Madame Alexander Doll Co., feature more than 20 gentle, realistic sounds. These 14-inch dolls will laugh, cry, coo, and more with a touch. They are designed for babies ages 18 months and up, and they have soft, fabric bodies. There are three styles to choose from: Stripe, Pink, and Bear. The Babble Babies will be available this fall.



PlayMonster introduces Face Paintoos this holiday season. Kids ages 4 and up can use a wet sponge, apply the designs, and reveal professional-looking face paint that won’t smudge or leave wet paint. Kids can also easily remove the tattoos when they want. The line launches with three design themes: pets (mouse, Dalmatian, cat, puppy, and rabbit), wild (lion, dragon, leopard, monkey, and tiger), and magical (mermaid, dolphin, butterfly, fairy, and unicorn). All three themes are also available in a larger party pack. Licensed packs, including Nickelodeon’s PAW Patrol and JoJo Siwa and Disney’s Frozen 2, will also be available.

Horizon Group USA’s Just My Style Squishy Diary encourages creative writing with 60 blank pages, a decorative pen, and a squishy diary cover. Kids ages 6 and up can adorn their writings with vibrant sticker details that include fun characters and cool sayings. Kids can also poke and squeeze the colorfully decorated front cover, complete with a rainbow and unicorn designs. Kids ages 5 and up can unroll and reveal 1 foot of surprises with L.O.L. Surprise! Roll-Its. The sets are available in three different activities — jewelry making, coding and secret message reveal, or D.I.Y. tattoos — for kids to unravel surprises. With the Secret Reveal Roll-It, kids will uncover 15 different surprises and decode secret messages with the black light pen and secret decoder wheel; the Jewelry Roll-Its reveals five surprises for kids to create secret message jewelry; and the Tattoo Roll-Its has 10 surprise for kids to create custom tattoos with glitter and stencils. Kids can mold and stretch Slimy Sand and watch as it expands. With the Slimygloop Slimy Sand Construct & Crush set, kids ages 5 and up can build and mold construction vehicles and sites with the included molds. Kids can mix together yellow and blue sand to make green, or build up their site and break it down with the satisfying crush of the sand. With the Slimygloop Squishy Chums Snow Globe, kids ages 6 and up can create two snow globes full of creatures and characters that are fun to squish and squeeze. Kids fill the molds and watch as slimy paint transforms into 3D squishy pets. They can choose from sweet treat molds or characters, such as a unicorn, a llama, or a narwhal. The simple reaction between the slimy paint and the activator transforms them from 2D molds into 3D squishable critters.



HEXBUG This fall, HEXBUG introduces two new bug-like creatures, the HEXBUG Scorpion and the HEXBUG Micro Ant. Designed for kids ages 8 and up, these bugs scuttle across solid surfaces, bouncing off of walls and other objects in their path. Each creature is available in five colors to collect. The scorpion features free-swinging front claws and a moving tail, while the Micro Ant features two whegs (wheel legs). The HEXBUG Micro Titans are spinning fighters that go head to head in the Vortex battle arena. Kids ages 8 and up prepare the Titans for battle by pushing their heads down, which activates their energy sources and illuminates them. Then, kids use the remote control to spin the Titan clockwise or counterclockwise. To win the battle, the Titans must shut off their opponents’ energy sources by hitting their breast plates. There are four Titans to collect in total.


The Peppa Pig 3D Scooter, from Sakar, is a ride-on featuring three safe-roll wheels designed to keep beginner scooter riders safe while providing kids a stable platform for more control as they learn basic motor skills, such as balance and coordination. Built for kids ages 3 and up, the scooter includes easy-tilt and turn steering and a foot-activated brake. PJ Masks fans can try the Gekko PJ Masks 3D Scooter. Kids ages 3 and up can ride into the night in one of three buildable vehicles to save the day. Each Save the Day play set, from Mattel’s Mega Bloks, comes with a buildable PJ Masks hero figure, a vehicle, and a cityscape. Choose from Catboy and his Cat Car, Owlette and her Owl Glider, or Gekko and his Gekko-Mobile. Kids can place the PJ Masks figures inside their vehicles and use the action-reaction features to take down the villains, or they can combine all three play sets (sold separately) to build a bigger, even-more-heroic environment. Play sets include Catboy Vs. Ninjalino, Owlette Vs. Luna Girl, and Gekko Vs. Night Ninja. With Romeo’s Lab Builder,, from Mattel’s Mega Bloks, kids ages 3 and up can help the baddie Romeo take over the world after they build his poseable, robot sidekick; a lab with rolling wheels and a magnetic crane; and a Romeo figure. Then, kids can place Romeo inside to capture the PJ Masks once and for all. Plus, the robot can be rebuilt into Romeo’s latest invention: the giant laser. Kids can help Catboy defend the PJ Masks Headquarters from a sticky splat attack with the Build & Launch HQ play set,, from Mattel’s Mega Bloks. Kids ages 3 and up can build PJ Masks HQ with working ramps, tower doors to store vehicles, and Catboy’s screen. The buildable Cat Car features rolling wheels, flame details, and a Catboy figure with exclusive PJs who sits in the vehicle. The set includes the Ninjalino blocks and a catapult that launches sticky splats. Once the baddies have been put to bed, kids can rebuild the HQ into Catboy’s lounge so he can store his vehicle inside, or into different-sized ramps to launch Catboy into his next mission. Mega Bloks PJ Masks Save the Day Owlette Vs. Luna Girl play set




Kids can write, doodle, and create in the Unicorn Diary, from Peaceable Kingdom, a MindWare brand. Designed for kids ages 5 and up, the diary features a unicorn design, a charm, and a lock and key. The Floor Puzzle: Shimmery Unicorn is designed for kids ages 3 and up. It is made up of 43 thick, sturdy pieces with foil accents that have unique shapes, such as a butterfly and a star. Kids ages 5 and up can build the 51-piece Floor Puzzle: Shiny Dinosaur puzzle. It features seven dinosaur-shaped pieces, including a triceratops, pterodactyl, and stegosaurus. Each puzzle measures about 3 feet by 2 feet when completed.

Rideamals Josie Play & Ride Unicorn

KID TRAX Kids ages 3 and up can go ride, feed, brush, and walk Kid Trax’s Rideamals Josie Play & Ride Unicorn. Josie’s features include more than 100 sounds and interactions, plus a light-up horn. The ride-on can hold a maximum weight of 70 pounds and moves both forward and in reverse at a maximum speed of 4 mph. Josie also comes with a saddle bag, a brush, a flower, and a cupcake. The NERF UTV features working LED headlights, FM radio and MP3 auxiliary input, and a rear storage compartment. Its off-road tires and high road clearance make it ideal for outdoor play. The UTV goes forward and in reverse at 2 mph, with a top forward speed of 5 miles per hour. The maximum rider weight is 130 pounds.


Super Impulse introduces the second series of its MicroArcade line with Space Invaders, Q*Bert, and an Atari Combo that includes Breakout, Asteroids,, and a surprise bonus game. Each game measures 3.25 inches by 2 inches by .375 inches and comes with a micro USB charger. Designed for kids ages 8 and up, they feature a full-color screen, sound effects, and directional control buttons. The company also introduces Boardwalk Arcade,, a line of functioning, miniature arcade machines. Designed for kids ages 8 and up, the games feature electronic gameplay on LCD screens, digital score screens, game sounds, and multilevel play. The games include Boardwalk Arcade TMNT Tiny Electronic Pinball, Boardwalk Arcade Skee-Ball, and Boardwalk Arcade Whac-A-Mole. Rubik’s Tilt is a new, handheld way to play Rubik’s. Designed for kids ages 8 and up, the game features a virtual Rubik’s Cube on a high-resolution screen. Motion controls the game, and kids have to twist, turn, and tilt to move the columns, rows, and sides. Other features include a speed timer, sound control, three levels of play, and hints. The World’s Smallest and World’s Coolest lines also expand with miniature versions of toys and games, designed for kids ages 5 and up. The new additions include World’s Smallest Elf on the Shelf, World’s Smallest Mr. Potato Head, World’s Coolest Bob Ross Talking Keychain, World’s Coolest Jumanji, and World’s Coolest Light & Sound Arcade Keychain.



Boardwalk Arcade TMNT Tiny Electonic Pinball

Dolce Play and Learn Walrus


Babies of all ages can explore with the Dolce Play and Learn Walrus,, from Magformers. It contains five sea creatures — a crab, a fish, a starfish, a snail, and a penguin — that fit inside the walrus’ mouth. Kids can also play with the bell, crinkle sounds, teethers, and textured fabrics. Kids can click and create construction vehicles with the Magformers Amazing Construction 50-Piece Set.. The set includes a new propeller siren, a container grabber, and wheels. The Tileblox Rainbow 14-Piece Set is designed for beginner builders. Kids ages 3 and up can use the six colored triangles and eight squares to create a small house or cube. The magnetic set is also compatible with other Tileblox sets.


Jay@Play’s Boxy Babies join the Boxy Girls lineup. Each Boxy Baby comes with two shipping boxes for kids to unbox baby clothes, shoes, bottles, accessories, and more. There are five 6-inch dolls for kids to collect — Addison, Izzie, Paisley, Charlie, and Tini — each with articulated arms, legs, and heads. The Triplets Surprise Box is a bonus collector item in the Boxy Babies portfolio, which features a set of limited-edition triplets: Kiley, Wiley, and Miley. The Boxy Girls “Triple Treat” includes three new releases: UnboxMe Girls, Peek-a-Box, and Boxy Girls Studio. UnboxMe Girls is a line of surprise dolls; kids don’t know which doll they are unboxing. Each set comes with one new, exclusive Boxy Girl standing at 8 inches tall with articulated arms, legs, hips, wrists, and heads. There are 36 dolls for kids to collect and unbox a variety of shoes, hair, makeup, and clothes. Boxy Girls Peek-a-Box is a mini studio that comes in three colors for kids to collect. Each set comes with six shipping boxes with couture and luxe fashions for kids to unbox clothes, shoes, bags, and more surprises. Kids can mix and match the walls of the Boxy Girls Studio to create different studio shapes, and studios connect with each other if kids have more than one set. Kids can unbox makeup, shoes, bags, and more. A new exclusive doll, Seven, is also available. All Boxy Girls products are made for kids ages 6 and up. Bellies from Bellyville are interactive babies with rambunctious personalities. Six babies are available, including Pinky-Twink, Yumi-Yummy, Muak-Muak, and Bobby-Boo, and Belly-Twins Mimi-Miao and Willy-Woof. Kids ages 3 and up can remove the Band-Aid to listen to the doll’s heart or discover a birthmark; check the diaper to see if they left a surprise; and check the Bellypedia or Poopyedia to discover new ways to take care of their Bellies.



ISCREAM Kids can make their own treats with IScream’s Icee Machine,, which is designed to look like the real machines. Kids can make Blue Raspberry, Cherry, or a mix of both by adding Icee syrup and pouring in ice. The Tie Dye Unicorn Furry Backpack features an embroidered face with glitter details, faux fur, a zipper shoulder, and an adjustable shoulder strap. The backpack is designed for kids ages 5 and up. IScream also introduces the unicorn-inspired Magical Make-up line for kids ages 5 and up. The Face Paint Crayons come with two stencils, the Unicorn Lip Balm is cotton candy-flavored and comes in unicorn packaging, and the Unicorn Hair Chalk includes four pieces of chalk.

Tie Dye Unicorn Furry Backpack


Ann Williams Group introduces the Craft-tastic DIY Puffy Charm Palooza kit. Kids ages 6 and up can make a variety of accessories topped with puffy charms, including 19 bracelets and a necklace. They can decorate their backpacks, shoes, and more. The Craft-tastic Jr Sticker Puzzles allow kids ages 4 and up to decorate books with cling stickers and reveal treasures in the booklet’s treasure hunt. One booklet features two treasure hunts and a double-sided poster with a castle and an enchanted forest. With the new Craft Crush DIY Flower Art, kids can create custom botanical art and display their designs in the included wood frame. With the Craft-tastic Jr Enchanted Sticker Playhouse, kids can decorate the walls of the play set with cling stickers. The set has multiple rooms, play spaces, and outfts for a unicorn, a mermaid, and a fairy character. These kits will available in October.


Kellytoy expands its Squishmallows line with Halloween and holiday collections. Squishmallows are plush characters made of soft spandex and polyester stuffing, and each character’s background story is detailed on its hangtag. The Halloween collection will include Bella, the happy black spider; Drake, the dapper vampire; Autumn, a magical black cat; Paige, a jolly pumpkin; Grace, a ghost; Frankenstein; Emily, a bat; Madeleine, a cheerful witch; Cannon, a piece of sweet candy corn; and Milo, a huggable mummy. Gingerbread characters Jordan and Gina, as well as nutcracker characters Logan, Lorenzo, and Luca, join Santa Nick, penguin Jen, polar bear Brooke, reindeer Ruby, snowman Manny, and elf Elliot in the holiday line. Each collection will feature the characters in 5-, 8-, 12-, or 16-inch sizes.



Holiday-themed Squishmallows

Latchkits Poodle 3D Set

KAHOOTZ TOYS Kids can create three different works of textured yarn art with Kahootz Toys’ Y’Art Deluxe Designer Craft Kit. The yarn clings to the Grip-N-Stick Y‘Artboard as kids ages 8 and up fill in the numbered areas with textures and patterns. Kids can frame their pieces when finished. Kahootz Toys’ classic latch hook craft kit is back with a new twist. With the Latchkits Poodle 3D Set, kids ages 6 and up can loop, hook, and pull yarn to create designs with 3D effects. With SpongeBob SquarePants Waterfuls, kids ages 3 and up can add water to the classic handheld game to play six different games with SpongeBob and the whole gang from Bikini Bottom. Kids ages 3 and up can mix and match the pieces from the Care Bears Colorforms Travel & Play Sets to create their own stories and scenes with the Care Bears. These play sets include colorful play scenes and three sheets with more than 80 restickable Colorforms pieces. The Spirograph Deluxe Set has a refreshed look for kids ages 8 and up to create different designs. This set features all the iconic wheels and rings of the original in a high-quality, durable carrying case with snap-in storage and a built-in drawing surface.


ORB Odditeez Morphimals are ever-changing, tactile toys. Each one starts as a collectible character, but it’s up to kids ages 8 and up to twist, mold, pull, or squish them to see how it takes shape. ORB Organ-icks are wacky, slimy creations made with ORB Slimi that kids ages 8 and up can collect, ooze, drip, and trade. ORB Organ-icks come in canned and boxed varieties, featuring a selection of silly, textured mix-ins and smelly scents. Different styles include Snotty O’s and Boo-nana Skream Pi. OrbSlimy Xtreme Glitterz is slime that stretches, crackles, and snaps. Kids ages 5 and up can pull, stretch, and squeeze the slime to watch glitter shapes swim through a transparent base. ORB also introduces Soft’n Slo Squishies Designerz Enchantingz Enchantingz. These squishies are soft and slowly rise when kids squeeze them. Each character is specially styled with sweet-smelling scents. Soft’n Slo Squishies Designerz Trendzeez are soft, squishy toys that are specially printed with real patterns that pop. Each slow-rising character has its own personality, and kids can collect the whole lineup. Both Soft’n Slo Squishies items are designed for kids ages 8 and up. Soft’n Slo Squishies Designerz Trendzeez



AR Dino World Part 1 Tyrannosaurus Reborn


The Grow Your Own Geode Rock kit, from Eastcolight, offers kids a STEM learning experience while they play. They can grow a realistic geode rock as they learn about how crystals form. There’s no molding needed, and everything kids need to get started is included. Everyone from beginners to professionals can comfortably gaze upon the stars with the Galaxy Tracker Nova. Kids and hobbyists can easily locate stars with the Starwalk 2 app, included in the box with the exclusive version. Users can take pictures or videos through the lens of the telescope, which features three types of eye pieces to view stars in different circumstances. Eastcolight also produces the Galaxy Tracker 525 Smart Telescope. With AR Dino World Part 1 Tyrannosaurus Reborn, kids can experience what it’s like to be a paleontologist, digging to rebuild their own dinosaur. They can use the Monster Park app to enter the dinosaur world and bring them to life. The kit includes a stencil, tools, a name card, and more. The AR Human Torso Professional Model is a realistic, 16-piece model with a layered, detachable structure. Kids can use the Human Science AR app to discover the science of the human body. A full-color manual includes activities and information for kids ages 8 and up.


SmartZone expands its Mighty Wheels brand with Hot Locks, real steel combination locks in the shape of cars. In addition to functioning as locks, the vehicles also feature a pullback motor and a key ring. There are six styles available, with additional styles coming next year. They are designed for kids ages 3 and up. The company also introduces the Proud and Pretty Kenya Collection. These dolls come dressed in traditional African fabrics that were custom printed to be size compatible with the Kenya dolls. The 16-Inch Teenage Kenya wears a traditional kente cloth-trimmed pant suit or dress, or an Ankara-print dress. Her natural curls relax when kids apply the included magic lotion and return when rinsed. The 12-Inch Baby Keyara, Kendya’s baby sister, comes dressed in a Dashiki-print onesie. Her hair is sprayed on, making her suitable for younger kids to play with. All dolls in the collection wear traditional headwear and come in new “Proud and Pretty” print window-box packaging.

Hot Locks




Cryptozoic launches the Wonder Woman: Princess of Themyscira Statue,, inspired by the character’s ties to Greek mythology. Paying homage to the Venus de Milo, the marble-colored, polyresin statue measures 14 inches from the base of the plinth to the top of the spear, and features gold-accented versions of the superhero’s iconic bracelets, lasso, and other accessories. The spear is removable, and the rim of the shield is inscribed with Wonder Woman’s classic epithet in Greek lettering: “Beautiful as Aphrodite, wise as Athena, swifter than Hermes, and stronger than Hercules.”


With Odyssey Toys’ Diggin’ Moto,, kids can dictate every movement of the bulldozDiggin’ er truck and watch it transform into a robot that listens to voice commands. The Diggin’ Moto Moto’s interactive features include deep, roaring engine sounds that show off its torque whenever kids push the lever forward to accelerate. The bulldozer truck also boasts bright lights for kids to maneuver it through the dark or dimly lit areas. Kids can push the button on the remote control or tell it to transform and watch as the robot changes forms. Kids can race the Spy Rover and record what it sees on the attached camera. Then, they can watch the recording in real time as the car drives at high speeds, and then save the footage for later. Odyssey Toys’ Slithering Snake is an R/C reptile that glides around realistically. Kids can place the snake anywhere and use the remote control to play pranks. The Glowstriker blows foam balls into the air while kids use the included dart blaster to knock them out. Kids can compete against friends or challenge themselves.


Fans of the TV series Friends can mount the Neon Central Perk Light, from Paladone, on a wall or allow it to stand on its own. Paladone’s Friends Lip Balm Set features three lip balms in coffee-cup-style containers, including two vanilla-flavored and one strawberry-flavored balm. The battery-powered PlayStation Controller Light stands 3.5 feet tall. The collectible light’s design is inspired by the first-generation PlayStation controller. The Call of Duty Monkey Alarm Clock is a USB- or battery-powered clock designed to look like a 3D monkey bomb mounted onto a digital alarm clock. The monkey’s arms clap the cymbals together when the alarm sounds. Kids can turn the Emporium Light Jar into their own terrarium or a little exhibition jar. The glass jar has a screwon, LED lid.




The Misery Index is a new game, from Goliath, based on the TBS game show. Players ages 18 and up will read unfortunate situations on cards, and then rank them according to how awful they are, such as whether it’s worse to drop a phone in the toilet or to get a third-degree sunburn. Players will guess the Misery Index and earn cards to build their Misery Lane during three rounds. Glowbots are collectible statues that also light up. Kids ages 8 and up can create various character designs of their choice — from superheroes to pop culture icons — using transluscent pegs. Kids can also customize their statues with bright, LED lights with color-changing and strobe effects.



MasterPieces adds Poker Tiles to its lineup of original games. Made for two to four players ages 12 and up, the game mixes the strategy of a tile game and the excitement of poker. Players use the gameboard to play traditional poker hands to score points, make combinations with the tiles, and use the wild jokers to increase their score.


The Bright Starts Oscar the Grouch’s Stacking Cans Stackable Cups, from Kids2, features colorful and numbered stacking and nesting cups that come in five different sizes. Babies can develop their fine motor skills by stacking and nesting the cups, balancing the weighted Oscar toy on top of them, or hiding the figure inside of them. Babies ages 1 and up can tell their own Sesame Street stories with the Bright Starts Set-the-Scene Sesame Street Wooden Storytelling Blocks. The block toy set comes with 50 pieces in different sizes, shapes, and colors. Bright Stars Oscar the Grouch’s Stacking Cans Stackable Cups | SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019 | THE TOY BOOK


SPIELWARENMESSE 2020 Discover the spirit of play at the 71st Spielwarenmesse. by JACKIE CUCCO, senior editor GET INTO THE “SPIRIT OF PLAY” because the next Spielwarenmesse is right around the corner. Taking place Jan. 29Feb. 2 in Nuremberg, Germany, the 71st Spielwarenmesse will showcase the top trends and innovations in toys, hobbies, and leisure, offering a place for reputable brands, innovative start-ups, major buyers, and specialty retailers to meet and exchange ideas and products. Attendees can expect to see the latest and greatest in classic toys, dolls, games, hobby articles, baby and infant products, electronic toys, fireworks, and more from more than 2,800 global manufacturers. The presentation of new products, the Toy Business Forum, the TrendGallery, and the extensive industry overview provide a valuable pool of information for more than

67,000 buyers and toy traders from more than 130 countries. WHAT TO EXPECT Attendees can see more than 1 million products at Spielwarenmesse, but toys won’t be the only thing front and center. As fun and exciting as new toys are, it’s just as important for them to meet safety standards. Throughout the fair, manufacturers and traders can find out everything they need to know about toy safety in the Testing & Inspecting Center. The national and international test and inspection institutes in Hall 11.1 provide information about test procedures and safety requirements. Several toy companies, arranged by product groups, will exhibit for the first


time at Spielwarenmesse in the New Exhibitor Center (NEC) in Hall 3A. To help attendees easily identify new exhibitors, those first-time exhibitors located in the New Exhibitor Center and all other new exhibitors will have the “New” designation in the online catalog and at the show. SPECIAL AREAS Attendees can visit special areas for special interests. International exhibitors will be showcased in themed worlds at the Special and Activity areas of the toy fair. Visitors will find inspiration on how to present products and build links with manufacturers from different countries. • Showtime: Attendees will see daily fashion shows of the latest costume highlights, as well as live product demonstra-

tions on a catwalk, in the “Festive Articles, Carnival, Fireworks” area in Hall 8. Various hands-on activities and decoration areas also promise a lively world of experience based on role-play and celebration. • Toys Meet Books: Guests have the opportunity to attract new groups of buyers seeking games, puzzles, wooden toys, lifestyle products, school supplies, handicrafts, and licensed products. This special area, located at Entrance Mitte, will feature tips and know-how tailored for the book trade. • Special Area Baby and Infant Articles: The extensive spectrum of products in the baby and infant range is reflected in a special area located between Halls 2 and 3 in these five sub-groups: Baby Toys, Baby Textile, Travel Systems, Care and Food, and Home and Safety. This area provides insight into the diversity of baby and infant products on display throughout the exhibition center. Visitors can walk the showcase products throughout the passageway or relax in the quiet zone, which features catering and hospitality facilities. • Tech2Play: From robots and R/C products to games with augmented reality features, the development of technological toys is quickly growing. This activity area in Hall 4A is divided into four categories: Robot Toys, Virtual Play, R/C Toys, and Electronic Learning. • Special Area for Small Series Manufacturers: United under the umbrella of the newly designed product group titled Model Railways and Model Construction, the small series manufacturers specialize in model railways and accessories. • GamesCafé: The GamesCafé is a collaboration between the German Illustrators’ Organization, the Game Designer Association, and Spielwarenmesse eG, and acts as the center for contact with the professional international games community. Visitors can see game designers presenting their latest game ideas in the exhibitor foyer in Hall 11.0, where they can meet game designers, tabletop game experts, and publishers. The visitors can also learn about new game initiatives or garner ideas on how to highlight games in their shops. Visitors will have the chance to develop concepts for game presentation events with the help of the game designers. The GamesCafé will also feature an exhibition from the German games archive.

TRENDS The start-ups at the pavilion for Young German Companies and the first-time exhibitors showcasing their innovations at the New Exhibition Center in Hall 3A offer new items for retailers to diversify their product assortments. The adjacent TrendGallery helps visitors navigate the 120,000 innovations on show in Nuremberg. The three Spielwarenmesse trends are showcased for visitors. The TrendCommittee, which now has 12 members made up of international market researchers, trend scouts, and journalists, identifies the trends each year. The TrendGallery also features the nominees and winners of the ToyAwards. These industry accolades are presented at the awards ceremony at the opening event in five categories: Baby and Infant (0-3), Preschool (3-6), School Kids (6-10), Teenagers and Adults (10 and up), and Start-Ups. PRESENTATIONS Trade buyers can learn more about the industry at the Toy Business Forum. Speakers from Germany and abroad will share their expertise in the presentation area, which is also in Hall 3A. The content of the talks focuses on current market developments and trends. The daily topics are: • Wednesday, Jan. 29: #trend Keep track of what is trending. Find out how to identify next year’s top trends for toys, retail, and industry, and learn how you can use this knowledge to your advantage for your everyday business. • Thursday, Jan. 30: #change Consumer behavior, digitization, and market concentration are ever-changing. New conditions call for new approaches, but they also offer exciting opportunities. How do you find the courage to embrace change? How can a change in management help? • Friday, Jan. 31: #digital Digital transformation is currently omnipresent. Big data, artificial intelligence, and omnichannel strategies are just a few of the terms you should know about. What are they all about? And why are they so important for toy retailers? • Saturday, Feb. 1: #retail Take a look at the future of retail. Your business will be defined by digital trends and innovative retail concepts. Find out how you can use them profitably and offer your customers the shopping experience

they want. • Sunday, Feb. 2: #marketing What exactly is a kidfluencer? How do you sell in the digital age? What do microbloggers do? Keep track of new marketing ideas and discover new opportunities for your business. A FOCUS ON LICENSING In addition, every morning from Wednesday to Friday, the Toy Business Forum will host LicenseTalks — presentations by experts from the licensing field. The importance of this sector is underlined by the extended partnership with Licensing International (formerly LIMA). The international association’s stand in the foyer of Hall 12.0 is a hub for licensing agencies, licensors, and licensees. Members can take advantage of the LicensePreview, in which they can show their latest creations to selected guests in an exclusive setting. Licenses are a major feature of the fair, and attendees can find them everywhere — whether it’s as products or costumed characters available for photo ops. SERVICES FROM A SINGLE SOURCE A broad spectrum of services is available for trade buyers preparing for the fair. The online catalog, the interactive hall plans, and the Spielwarenmesse app are all helpful tools to plan each day efficiently. Visitors can take advantage of the Partner Hotel Programme and the Spielwarenmesse’s partnership with Airbnb. Trade show attendees can use the show’s admission ticket as a free travel pass on the local ÖPNV transport network. The voucher booklet features discounts and giveaways, which visitors can redeem with participating exhibitors. Between appointments, visitors can stop for a welcome break in the VisitorLounges, where they can recharge their mobile devices and take a moment to absorb the many impressions they have gained at the fair. »

Jackie Cucco is a senior editor at Adventure Media & Events. She writes for the Toy Book, the Toy Insider, and the Pop Insider, and runs all things Instagram. When she’s not watching slime videos, you can find her playing paparazzi for her pet bunny Peepers (@thebigpeep on Instagram). | SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019 | THE TOY BOOK   91


The shift toward eco-friendly toys and sustainable production is happening steadily. by JAMES ZAHN, senior editor JUST FIVE YEARS AGO, THE LEGO Group found itself in a sticky situation. Its decades-long partnership with Royal Dutch Shell — the Shell Oil Co. in the U.S. — had come under fire by an environmental group, targeting the Danish toymaker and its famous bricks in a campaign touting a message that said “everything’s not awesome.” LEGO President and CEO Jørgen Vig Knudstorp quickly fired back, issuing a short-but-stern statement denouncing the campaign for using LEGO as a tool to target Shell, while doubling down on LEGO’s commitment to children and play. The public scuffle was a temporary irritation for all parties involved, but it did, perhaps, crack the door open to start shining a light on some serious issues that the greater toy industry might have been avoiding for a while. It was also an issue that LEGO was already in the process of addressing: The production of toys is a resource-intensive endeavor that leaves behind a lot of waste, not just during production, but long after the toys make their way into — and out of — consumers’ homes.

Luke’s Toy Factory’s Cargo Truck


Less than a year later, the LEGO Group took a massive step toward something that had been in the works since 2012. The LEGO Sustainable Materials Centre was born, and in turn, so was the true beginning to an exhaustive search for sustainable materials to replace the longused, petroleum-based materials that the company had been using in its bricks and other toys for decades. At the time, LEGO Group owner (via KIRKBI A/B) and former President Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen hailed the substantial investment in sustainability as “a testament to [the] continued ambition to leave a positive impact on the planet, which future generations will inherit.” For LEGO, as with other toymakers, the “eco-friendly” and “sustainable” catchphrases needed to translate into something tangible, with one major problem being that the very definition of “sustainable” was — and still is — very much up for debate. The challenge is complex, balancing not only the materials used in products, but also the natural resources and energy used in their creation, the feasibility of recycling waste, an overhaul in how the products are packed and shipped, and the thought put into the inevitable end of life for the toys. Within just two years, the LEGO Group began running on 100% renewable energy — three years ahead of schedule — and was making progress toward its goal of using completely sustainable materials in its packaging by 2025 — and its


products by 2030. Since then, the company has partnered with the World Wildlife Fund and its Bioplastic Feedstock Alliance in an effort to develop sourcing and demand for bioplastics. By last year, the first LEGO pieces crafted from plant-based polyethylene hit the market — appropriately, the green “botanical” elements of LEGO sets, such as trees, bushes, and other greenery. ENTER THE LEGO TREEHOUSE Released this August, the LEGO Ideas Treehouse was born from an idea that spawned before plant-based LEGO pieces even hit the market. Designed by Kevin Feeser and pitched in 2017 through the LEGO Ideas crowdsourcing platform, the LEGO Treehouse has come to market as a set that includes 185 botanical elements made from plant-based polyethylene plastic using sustainably sourced sugar cane. “When I first saw the model, I was blown away. Not only because it looks amazing, but also because it connects strongly to the very reason we are investing so much time and effort in identifying new and sustainable materials, which is to preserve natural resources and fulfill our planet promise,” says Tim Brooks, vice president of environmental responsibility of the LEGO Group. And not only is the LEGO Treehouse filled with lush greenery, but it also comes with autumn leaves as well. HOMEGROWN BIOPLASTICS AND RECYCLED MILK JUGS It was the lead paint crisis of 2007, in which millions of toys manufactured in China were recalled in the U.S. after tests showed unsafe levels of lead, that inspired professional photographer Jim Barber to investigate the toys that his own kids had

once played with. His goal was to develop new, safe toys that could be manufactured in America using sustainable methods. In 2014, after years of researching the possibilities of creating toys using a woodand-plastic mix similar to that used in the manufacturing of composite decking materials, Barber and his son, Luke, launched their first Kickstarter campaign, successfully funding their first toy: a firetruck. Today, Luke’s Toy Factory manufactures a full range of toys in Connecticut while sourcing materials from other states, including maple sawdust reclaimed from furniture mills in North Carolina and a wood-plastic mixture from Michigan. Its Classic collection features toys that are molded in color, rather than it being painted on, and each toy — which is also a 3D stacking puzzle — contains 30% less plastic than a traditional toy truck in this scale. “For us, the materials that we use in a toy — and its packaging — drives our approach to sustainability,” Barber says. “Safety is the first and most important factor. We need to know exactly what is in the raw materials, which can be challenging with organic inputs.” In recent months, Luke’s Toy Factory has increased the variety of organic materials that it uses. The company rolled out two line extensions beyond its Classic line, including Naturals and Hybrids. The Naturals collection includes coconut shells, flax fiber, rice hulls, and walnut shells in its mixture, while the Hybrids mixes the bright colors of the Classics collection with various fibers from the Naturals line. In choosing what might work for a toy, Barber says that following safety testing, the ability to use a particular organic material in a toy becomes technical. “Does the material mold well, color well? What are the technical issues that we may have with this material? This is the same challenge that other toy companies are encountering as they explore sustainable materials, but for us as a startup, it’s been part of the process since day one,” he says. Now available in more than 250 inde-

pendent toy stores and specialty shops across the country, Barber says that Luke’s Toy Factory sources locally as much as possible, with a goal of reducing the carbon footprint of its supply chain — a goal shared on the West Coast by Green Toys. On the other side of the country, Green Toys maintains a tight, local supply chain in its mission to craft high-quality toys and other products. From plastic boats, stacking cups, and wagons created using materials including recycled milk jugs and yogurt containers to board books and toy packaging crafted from 100%

recycled paper and cardboard printed with soy ink, the entire workflow of Green Toys keeps raw materials from winding up in landfills. THE SIXTH “S” In Sweden, Viking Toys added a sixth “S” to its corporate philosophy, with “sustainable” joining the company mantra, along with safe, soft, simple, silent, and strong. Like LEGO, the company went with a plant-based material for the debut of its Ecoline collection of toys earlier this year. Viking Toys calls its sugar-cane-based

LEGO Ideas Treehouse play set | SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019 | THE TOY BOOK


material biotylene, and it is sourced from controlled fields in Brazil. Because sugar cane absorbs a high volume of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, its growth is capable of reducing greenhouse gasses. Conveniently, should the toy reach its end of life, biotylene is 100% recyclable and can be processed alongside conventional plastics. Gösta Kjellme, founder and CEO of Viking Toys, says that the company is on a mission “to produce toys that are a sustainable alternative and an antidote to the prevailing throwaway culture.” THE PLUSH REVOLUTION Earlier this year, two major players in the plush category made big, renewed, and enhanced commitments to changing their materials. In January, Aurora World adopted 100% post-consumer polyester for all of its products. Additionally, the company switched to eco-friendly recycled biopolymer pellets — used to give plush toys weight and the best shelf appearance — for all of its products. In the future, Aurora World plans to use 100% recycled material for hangtags and make changes to its shipping and packaging processes as part of a company-wide environmental overhaul. For Wild Republic, sustainability is a personal affair that led to the creation of the company’s “Promise to the Planet.” Founder G.B. Pillai and his grandson, Vishunu Chandran, now president of the company, continue to reiterate a commitment to nature and conservation as they work to find new ways to reduce non-biodegradable items while utilizing recycled materials in production and packaging. This summer, Wild Republic launched Ecokins, its first plush line created from 100% recycled materials — and the packaging is eco-conscious, too, with biodegradable polybags and hangtags printed with soy ink. RECYCLING, TERRACYCLING, CONSUMER CONVENIENCE, AND AWARENESS One of the biggest problems toymakers face — and that is noticed by parents — is the difficulty in recycling both toys and their packaging waste. The massive popularity of surprise-and-reveal toys certainly lit a fire under parents to call for better waste management, and for MGA Entertainment (MGAE) — makers of L.O.L. Surprise! — the 94

Parking Garage, from Green Toys

solution was a partnership with a company that already had experience tackling hardto-process toys: Terracycle. The vast difference in materials used to create certain toys presents a problem when it comes to sorting and processing. Terracycle can solve that, processing toys to be recycled into new creations, such as park benches, flower pots, and play spaces. The Hasbro Toy Recycling Program launched last year as a way for families to send well-loved toys and games to Terracycle for processing. Following partnerships with Hasbro and MGAE, ZURU inked a deal this spring to make its Bunch O Balloons 100% recyclable thanks to Terracycle. Now, perhaps the biggest issue is consumer awareness and action, as parents will have to box their waste materials — both packaging and toys — and print shipping labels from the Terracycle website before dropping their boxes off to be shipped back. COST CONSIDERATIONS AND PACKING THE FUTURE As the industry continues to shift and evolve, the number of companies increasing their efforts to decrease their footprints is growing, but changing habits takes time — and it isn’t cheap. In fact, the consumer market is starting to drive the future of change, with new parents looking for action faster than some companies can respond. “As millennial parents are increasingly becoming environmentally conscious, they are actively seeking out sustainable, ethically made products for themselves and their kids,” Luke’s Toy Factory’s Barber adds. It’s a trend that has led to an uptick in classic, wooden toys, notably appearing frequently in posts from the Instagram influencer crowd.


Producing relatively simple toys, such as bricks or other non-articulated plastics that utilize minimal pieces, using eco-friendly means has become fairly accessible. However, the majority of toys are far more complex and are usually manufactured overseas. That remains a challenge, in addition to the fact that there’s just no common standard for what “eco-friendly” or “sustainable” mean. Brett Klisch, owner and creative director of Peru Meridian Studios, is a toy designer who regularly consults with manufacturers on their needs and new products. “Every time, the first consideration is cost,” he says. “The biggest barrier to the cost coming down is that the infrastructure of eco-friendly manufacturing practices and materials needs to become as firmly established as the current practices. That way, the prices can balance out.” In the meantime, the one area in which nearly every company can up its eco-friendly game is packaging, which prompted The Toy Association to begin offering the Disney-developed Smart Packaging Tool as a benefit for its members. Next year, the industry may have its first look at what a plastics-free packaging future will look like. In August, Hasbro unveiled a plan to begin phasing out the use of plastic packaging in its new product. The initial plan calls for an end to polybags, shrink wrap, window sheets, blister packs, and elastic bands. Hasbro says it hopes to eliminate virtually all plastic in packaging for new products by the end of 2022. “As designers, we are working on entirely new ideas of what toy packaging can be,” Klisch adds. “The industry needs to be able to evolve into a new paradigm of what can be considered to be acceptable packaging. The old ways were so wasteful.” »



Science and DIY combine in toys that encourage kids to create, design, and build. by JACKIE CUCCO, senior editor SCIENCE TOYS ARE TAKING A HANDS-ON APPROACH THIS HOLIDAY SEASON AS MORE COMPANIES COMBINE STEAM concepts with the DIY trend to engage kids in exciting ways. DIY toys give kids the chance to feel proud about something they’ve created from scratch while also giving them a behind-the-scenes look at how their playthings are made. Kids can use these toys to make their own gardens, guitars, gumball machines, candy, blasters, robots, and more. These new educational toys encourage kids to design, build, and create practical things that they can really use while sneaking in some stealth learning to appease parents. From making edible treats with Alex Brands’ Confectionery Science and Learning Resources’ Yumology! Sweets Lab to building working robots with Pai Technology’s Botzees and SmartLab Toys’ Tiny Robots!, these toys give kids a healthy dose of science while they play. Check out some new science toys that embrace this concept below.

Kids can build gumball machines while learning about physics with KOSMOS Gumball THAMES & KOSMOS’ Machine Maker Maker. Kids can move the track segments around on the base to create a variety of different gumball machines. As the gumballs roll down the track, they perform stunts and tricks using a pulley lift, a pendulum, a funnel, a trampoline, a variable-slope ramp, a pinball launcher, and a domino slide. Each segment of the track teaches a different lesson in mechanical physics, such as simple machines, force, motion, momentum, gravity, Newton’s laws, energy transfer, and more.

Kids can construct a cardboard version of an electric guitar with rubber band strings, then add effects and produce their own tracks with the Music Kit: Electro Guitar Kit, from TECH WILL SAVE US. The kit includes step-by-step, animated instructions and videos that kids can follow to construct a cardboard body to hold the amplifier. Kids can even learn the basics of how to play an electric guitar, as well as recording, layering, and sharing music tracks in the online recording studio.



ALEX BRANDS’ Confectionery Science is a hands-on activity kit that kids can use to make DIY candy while learning scientific facts. The kit features six different activities, such as making a sugar skull to learn about sugar density. Kids can also make rock candy, gummy gems, and chocolate lollipops. The food ingredients are not included.


The Yumology! Sweets Lab, from LEARNING RESOURCES, is a reusable lab set that kids can use to make sweet treats. Kids can follow the recipes to learn early science skills while making popsicles, no-bake cookies, and juices using common ingredients.

Kids can build their own blaster while learning about aerodynamics, force, and motion with the Discovery Air-Powered Blaster, from HORIZON GROUP USA. Kids can fill the blaster with glowing foam pellets and expanding water beads to see how far they can shoot them and knock down targets while hypothesizing, testing, and observing the power behind the blow.

Botzees, from PAI TECHNOLOGY TECHNOLOGY, is an augmented reality (AR) robotics kit that includes 130 neutral-colored, uniquely shaped, and easy-to-grip blocks for kids to create and program robots using construction, coding, and creativity. Kids can build six pre-designed Botzees or get creative and design their own. Kids can also learn more coding concepts using visual cues with 30 interactive AR puzzles in the free accompanying app.

Tiny Robots! Robots!, from SMARTLAB TOYS is a robotics kit that kids can use TOYS, to design and build miniature, working machines from an assortment of real mechanical parts. Kids can mix and match axles, wheels, arms, legs, and gears in a transparent chassis to create itty-bitty robots that walk, roll, crawl, spin, and more. The transparent gearbox allows kids to watch their machines in action and doubles as a storage case for parts.

Kids can grow their own gardens with the My Fairy Garden Nature Cottage, from PLAYMONSTER. Each flower pot includes seeds that kids can plant to learn about nature. Kids can also add water to create a stream, using the water that trickles down into the barrel to water the garden. Each set includes a bug house that kids can place on top to create a shelter for ladybugs.

The Crayola Color Chemistry Arctic Lab, from CRAYOLA,, features 50 arctic-themed science activities that combine color and winter themes, such as snow that grows on trees and color-changing, window-cling snowflakes. The set includes enough Crayola materials and supplies for kids to take part in 15 experiments right out of the box, in addition to 35 more experiments using common household items. | SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019 | THE TOY BOOK


THE CAN’T MISS HALLOWEEN & PARTY EXPO EXPERIENCE Retail Show Returns to New Orleans in 2020 FALL IS IN FULL SWING, LEAVES ARE changing colors, and parents are searching for this Halloween’s in-demand costumes for their trick-or-treaters. We know that, as a retailer, you’re already looking to the future — and considering how to stand out from the competition and be sure you have the hottest products. As you look for the latest kids’ costumes, everyday dress-up products, accessories, party supplies, novelties, and toys, save the date for the Halloween & Party Expo, held Jan. 17-19 in New Orleans. As North America’s only event for all things Halloween, party, and celebration, the trade show is an all-encompassing experience offering attendees the chance to shop from more than 350 companies. NEW LAUNCHES FOR COSTUMES, DRESS-UP PRODUCTS, ACCESSORIES, TOYS, AND MORE The exhibit hall floor is the place to see new product launches from every major manufacturer in the industry. You’ll find whatever you’re looking for, whether you want to stock your shelves with a superhero costume from next year’s box office hits, licensed merchandise, the coming season’s unicorn or fairy princess, or accessories to complete the look. Shop for every member of the family — from infant to teens and adults — and then complete your trip with party kits, toys, and novelties, and find ideas for impulse purchases.

Can’t miss exhibitors include Rubie’s/ Imagine by Rubie’s, Fun World, Ivy Trading/Cutie Collections, Princess Paradise, California Costume, Rhode Island Novelty,, Gloworks, Fun Express, elope, and more! STOCK YOUR SHELVES FOR A SATURDAY HALLOWEEN SEASON With Halloween falling on a Saturday next year, this is the year to make the trip to New Orleans. Halloween spending has increased $2 billion since 2015 and is expected to generate a record amount of sales next year. As North America’s only show dedicated to this market, this is the place to see new products and get orders written for next season. Take advantage of money-saving discounts and ordering incentives only available at the show — with offers including free shipping, 10% off orders, and more. Beginning next year, it’ll be even easier to find new products when the Halloween & Party Expo becomes a Smart Show — making it easier for you to keep track of your favorite exhibitors and products and find new launches, all with a tap of your badge. EXPERIENCE THE CITY OF CELEBRATION See products come to life at the 2nd Annual Friday Night Fashion Show, featuring looks from more than 60 exhibitors. Find Halloween inspiration at the colocated Haunted Attraction National


Tradeshow and Convention event (HAUNTcon). Your badge allows you access to two show floors and unique, one-of-a-kind costumes, masks, makeup, props, and decor. Mark your calendars for the annual Brewing, Boos, and Booze Costume Ball to celebrate this year’s successful season. Take advantage of the long holiday weekend with exclusive discounted room nights when you book your hotel through Monday, Jan. 20, and enjoy all that New Orleans has to offer, including rich culture, excellent cuisine, eclectic music, and vibrant nightlife. Concierge services make this city easy for you to experience, from planning a night on the town to locating the best restaurants and music. This is your time to relax, refresh, and head back to your store with fresh ideas. Register for the 2020 show today at Take advantage of guaranteed lowest rates on hotels when you book early. »

INTERESTED IN EXHIBITING? Contact Marni Golden Vinci today at (203) 242-8712 or


TIPS ENTREPRENEURS NEED TO LAUNCH PRODUCTS Industry mentors from WIT Empowerment Day share their best advice. by MARY KAY RUSSELL, executive director, Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment THERE IS A LOT TO LEARN ABOUT the toy business. For entrepreneurs, it can be a long, arduous, and expensive journey to get their toy or game onto store shelves. Each year during Toy Fair Dallas, WIT Empowerment Day offers female entrepreneurs the opportunity to get an in-depth education on the toy industry from dozens of the best mentors in the business — all in one room. These mentors are seasoned veterans who devote their time and talent to providing women with first-hand knowledge, insights, guidance, and support to help them take their product to the next level and grow their business. Here are some tips for entrepreneurs from some of the 2019 WIT Empowerment Day mentors. ADAM HOCHERMAN, VICE PRESIDENT, NEW BUSINESS/ MONSTERPRENEUR, PLAYMONSTER The first thing you need is an idea. The second thing you need is Quickbooks. It may seem premature, and you may not know any accounting, but it isn’t,

and you will [learn]. There are two major ways to bring your product to market: Licensing your product means that a partner company completes the development and handles sales and marketing. You receive a royalty in exchange, or you can invest time and money into engineering, marketing, and selling your product on your own. There are advantages and disadvantages to both methods, which largely relate to your tolerance for risk and your access to time and capital. Make sure you understand the pros and cons of both approaches before ruling either out. BRIDGET MOON, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT SPECIALIST/VETERANS BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT OFFICER, SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION Conduct market research. This ensures there is an opportunity to turn your idea into a successful business, and it’s also a way to gather information about customers and your competition. Have a business plan. This is the foundation of

Women-owned businesses seeking to grow their retail presence pitched their products to Walmart’s toy buying team at this year’s WIT Empowerment Day.



your business. A business plan can help obtain financing [and] it reflects how your business is structured, how the business will be run, and the actual and/or projection of finances. It is a tool to refer to as your business grows to see if you are on target, and it’s used to compare what was originally planned to factual, up-to-date information. Your business plan enables you to see where you are exceeding and where you are not. It’s an important tool that you should amend as your business changes. ALAN GONG, VICE PRESIDENT, PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT, BASIC FUN! Present your concept with the same energy you had during your “Aha” moment. If you have tested your product with kids, share the video. Speed to market is critical, so having a working prototype helps companies move quickly to make decisions. DR. AMANDA GUMMER, CEO, FUNDAMENTALLY CHILDREN Do your research. Check what your competition is doing. Don’t be fooled into thinking you don’t have any. Understand your audience. Who are your end users [and] ideal customers? What is their buying journey? What problem is your product/service addressing? How do they currently try to solve that issue, and why would they try your solution instead? ELIZABETH MOODY, HEAD OF NEW BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT, 7 TOWN Flexibility is key. There is always a path through negation. Be open, and try to find common ground. Being inflexible only [makes] the process harder — and [can cause you to] fail. Understand the value of your item; there is no standard. All items have an individual value to a buyer, and the trick is to recognize your item’s worth and pitch it at the level you feel is realistic and achievable within the market.

GENNA ROSENBERG, CEO AND CHIEF IDEATOR, GENNCOMM IMAGENNATION Master your 30-second elevator pitch, and be ready to quickly tailor it to the person in front of you. Many people have innovative ideas but lose their audience because they don’t effectively communicate what is special about their concept or product. It’s important to remember your audience. You may need to explain it differently depending on who you’re meeting with to engage them (i.e., why it’s relevant to a retailer versus a manufacturer versus a particular licensee or licensor). Inventors, business owners, and other entrepreneurs should literally practice the who, what, where, when, and why to their diverse potential targets, and be able to do it in [less than] 30 to 60 seconds. I often challenge my friends and colleagues, “So, what do you do?” And it’s amazing how many of them can’t spit it out. JULIE KERWIN, CHIEF ELEMENTAL OFFICER, IAMELEMENTAL Running a crowdfunding campaign and starting a business are two very different things. Be sure [that] you want to do both. If you do, then it is necessary to parallel process and develop both the campaign and the business at the same time, ensuring that you are ready for the latter once the former has ended. There are three things about crowdfunding campaigns that you should know before you get started: [First], the majority of successful crowdfunding campaigns raise about $10,000. This is not a “get-rich-quick” scheme. [Second], two-thirds of all crowdfunding campaigns do not deliver on time. Add six months to your estimated delivery date to give yourself room for unexpected delays. [And third], if there is a partnership involved, be sure to have a dissolution strategy in place before you launch. No one talks about it, but a lot of teams break up after the campaign. Why? Re-read tip No. 1. MARIAN BOSSARD, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, GLOBAL MARKET EVENTS, THE TOY ASSOCIATION As a leader, your primary role is to recognize and develop the individual talents and strengths of each person on your team. It’s your responsibility to help each person achieve their full potential — even if that means they grow beyond the opportunities you can offer and [move] to a different role within your organization — or outside. By establishing an environment conducive to personal exploration and professional development, you will get the very best from your team for the time you work together. STACY LIEBENSOHN, ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE, THE TOY ASSOCIATION When preparing to exhibit at a trade show, plan ahead and watch for early-bird, discounted rates. At the show, don’t just sit in your booth. You should be standing and saying “hello“ to everyone who walks by. You never know if they’ll be your next big customer. » Mary Kay Russell is executive director at Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment, a global nonprofit organization that champions the advancement of women through leadership, networking, and educational opportunities. Prior to her role at WIT, she worked in the toy industry in multiple roles as a marketing professional, inventor, and manufacturer.

Compiled by JAMES ZAHN, senior editor

MUSIC: SEASONAL SOUNDTRACKS IT’S THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN! (MUSIC FROM THE SOUNDTRACK) On Oct. 27, 1966, a perennial favorite made its debut on CBS. The third television special inspired by Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts comic strip, It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!, became an instant classic, due in large part to its soundtrack by Grammy-winning composer and performer Vince Guaraldi. The music was recorded on Oct. 4, 1966, at Desilu’s Gower Street Studio in Hollywood, California, under the direction of composer, arranger, and conductor John Scott Trotter. The score features Guaraldi tickling the keys of the piano, with bassist Monty Budwig and drummer Colin Bailey — collectively known as the Vince Guaraldi Trio — trumpet player Emanuel Klein, guitarist John Gray, and Ronald Lang handling the album’s woodwinds. Somewhat surprisingly, despite being launched in the era when vinyl was king, the music from the special was never released on the format until now. From Craft Recordings, It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! (Music from the Soundtrack) is available on 12-inch vinyl for the first time, complete with the iconic Great Pumpkin appearing as an etching on side B. Additionally, a limited-edition pressing on glow-in-the-dark vinyl is available exclusively through the Craft Recordings Store. No more than 500 copies will be available worldwide. Available now

GHOSTBUSTERS (ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SCORE) 35THANNIVERSARY EDITION Since 1984, film fans and paranormal enthusiasts have enjoyed the comedic antics of Ivan Reitman’s Ghostbusters. While the soundtrack’s title theme by Ray Parker Jr. became an instantly iconic pop hit, the whimsically spooky score from composer Elmer Bernstein winds through moments of comedy, action, and drama. For the 35th anniversary of the film, Sony Masterworks reissued Bernstein’s score, completely remastered with four previously unreleased tracks. “As one of the original orchestrators on Ghostbusters, it has been very satisfying and also very moving to work on this soundtrack release 35 years down the road,” says Peter Bernstein, who worked on the original score alongside his late father. Available now

STRANGER THINGS 3 — ORIGINAL SCORE FROM THE NETFLIX ORIGINAL SERIES Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein have been on board with Stranger Things since the beginning, providing the synth-driven, ‘80s-inspired score that’s practically become an additional character in the series. Half of the Austin band S U R V I V E, Dixon and Stein return for Stranger Things 3, appropriately amping up their score to reflect the growing evil that presents itself during the series’ 1985-set season. From Lakeshore Records, it’s a perfect new edition to any Halloween playlist — and one that feels authentically ‘80s. Available on multiple formats, including limited-edition splatter vinyl, the score makes a fine pairing with Sony Legacy’s companion soundtrack, which features hits from The Who, Howard Jones, Huey Lewis & the News, and more. Available now 102   THE TOY BOOK | SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019 |

blu-ray/dvd SCOOBY-DOO: RETURN TO ZOMBIE ISLAND A sequel to 1998’s Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island, Scooby and the Mystery Inc. gang win an all-expenses paid vacation to a tropical paradise. Unfortunately, upon arrival they discover that their destination looks oddly familiar. Indeed, the gang has been there before, and the zombies are back! The feature-length movie includes the familiar voice talent of Frank Welker as Scooby-Doo/Fred Jones, Grey Griffin as Daphne Blake, Matthew Lillard as Shaggy Rogers, and Kate Micucci as Velma Dinkley. Available now (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)

BOOKS THE ITTY-BITTY WITCH From author Trisha Speed Shaskan and illustrator Xindi Yan, The Itty-Bitty Witch uses its Halloween theme to drive home important messaging about the importance of treating others with respect. What happens when you’re a young witch who’s a little smaller than the rest of the class? Betty can’t wait to be a first-grade witch, but on the first day of school, her classmates start calling her “Itty Bitty” because she’s small and still uses her kinder-broom. Betty doesn’t like the nickname — or how it makes her feel itty-bitty inside. So, she comes up with a big idea to prove herself: winning the Halloween Dash. Available now (Two Lions Books)


DREAMWORKS 6 SPOOKY STORIES COLLECTION This creepy, fun collection of seasonal spinoffs from DreamWorks Animation invites kids to get into the Halloween spirit with fan-favorite characters from the studio’s popular franchises, including Shrek and Monsters vs. Aliens. 6 Spooky Stories includes Scared Shrekless, The Ghost of Lord Farquaad, Thriller Night, The Pig Who Cried Werewolf, Monsters vs. Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space, and The Night of the Living Carrots. Available now (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)

A WORLD FULL OF SPOOKY STORIES Halloween is an international affair in the new book from author Angela McAllister and illustrator Madalina Andronic. A World Full of Spooky Stories is a kid-friendly collection of 50 spooky stories that features seasonal tales from Germany, Czechoslovakia, Russia, Africa, Brazil, Japan, Australia, India, the UK, Canada, France, China, Ireland, Syria, Korea, Sweden, Egypt, Iceland, New Zealand, Arabia, Spain, Tibet, Iran, and Greece. Available now (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books)

Trolls can be frightening creatures, and Ignore the Trolls, from author Jordan Gershowitz and illustrator Sandhya Prabhat, puts a fairytale spin on a common nemesis to help kids deal with the inevitable threat of online bullies. In the majestic kingdom of Holly Hills, “the land is overrun with nasty, mocking creatures that love attacking the weaknesses in others with the help of their magic picture-takers and flocks of vicious blue birds that tweet their cruelty across the kingdom. If you try to fight them, they only multiply.” Will Tim the Timid be able to ignore the trolls in his quest to become one of the coolest and most valiant kids at Ye Olde Elementary School? While the book will be out in time for Halloween, the message is important year-round. Available Oct. 22 (POW! Kids Books) | SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019 | THE TOY BOOK



DETERMINING YOUR ROI Essential Steps to Measure Social Media Success by MICHAEL DEL GIGANTE, founder, MDG Advertising MOST MARKETERS KNOW THAT incorporating digital channels, including social media, is essential to engaging today’s tech-savvy consumers. However, many are unsure of how to determine social media success. The CMO Survey recently reported that fewer than 25% of senior marketing professionals say they could clearly quantify the effectiveness of their companies’ social media strategies. With so many types of social media engagements to analyze, many marketers feel that measuring social media return on investment (ROI) is a daunting task. Fortunately, it’s possible to determine whether your social media efforts are actually effective. DEFINE QUANTIFIABLE GOALS To determine social ROI, start with your goals, rather than metrics. Why are you using social media to promote your brand? Answer this important question by defining wide-ranging goals, such as improving lead generation, boosting sales, and expanding brand awareness. After determining these objectives, take the next step by connecting your goals to measurable key performance indicators (KPIs). Goals that can be connected to actions include website click-throughs, increased views of a specific content piece, online orders, and new newsletter sign-ups. Simply put, determining a small number of specific, quantifiable actions will help you clearly measure the success of your social media efforts. DETERMINE VALUE FOR EVERY ACTION The second step is often the hardest: assigning values to each measurable action. This may not happen overnight, as it involves creativity and insights into customer behavior. However, you can start this process by examining the relationship between revenue and online action, such as the lifetime value of a website visitor, the cost of services you promote on social media, and a customer’s typical order size.

Once you’ve taken a closer look at your website and social analytics, you can link each trackable action to an estimated value. These estimations can include the value of a newsletter subscriber, contact form submission, and social media-driven website users. During this step, you may realize that the metrics you’re currently tracking, including comments and likes, may not result in revenue. Instead, you might need to analyze other metrics, including website visits, the click-through rate, and sign-ups. DETERMINE COSTS Establishing a good foundation with measurable goals and the value of every tactic is important, but there’s another essential component of calculating social ROI: How much do your efforts cost? To figure this out, start with your content. Look carefully at the cost of creating each post, as well as any other promotional and distribution expenses. These factors will only give you a small view of the big picture; however, marketers should also look at technology and labor costs. Operating expenses also factor into the total social media costs, including the employees working on social media, all software devoted to social, outside support, and expenditures related to conferences and training. Take a look at every aspect of your marketing budget — as well as any other allocations — to make sure that every related cost is taken into account.


CALCULATE SOCIAL ROI After determining your goals, collecting data, and analyzing budgets, it’s time to do the math. Calculating your social ROI is easier than you might expect: Simply determine your brand’s total revenue from social (multiply actions and value for those actions) and your total investment (factoring in all costs). Then, it’s time for some calculations: (Total Social Revenue - Total Social Costs) x 100 / Total Social Costs = Social ROI (percentage) Ultimately, calculating the ROI of social media is more than just math; it allows you to see whether your social efforts are truly working. It also allows you to delve deeper into each individual effort, helping you fine-tune your overall strategy. This is why knowing your social ROI is so important: You’ll be able to determine which approaches are working and which ones aren’t delivering results. » In 1999, CEO Michael Del Gigante founded MDG Advertising, a full-service advertising agency with offices in Boca Raton, Florida, and Brooklyn, New York. With his unique insight and decades of industry experience, he turned what was once a traditional ad agency into an integrated branding firm based on an innovative, 360-degree marketing philosophy that provides a full spectrum of traditional and digital advertising services.


BUILDING BRANDS AROUND LICENSED EXPERIENCES How Digital Media, IRL Experiences Keep Properties Evergreen by TED MININNI, president and creative director, Design Force THERE’S BEEN A PARADIGM SHIFT IN the licensing world mirroring the fundamental transformation of consumers. It isn’t sufficient for licensors and their partners to co-brand consumer products across numerous categories and hope to collect significant revenue — all while trying to keep their properties relevant and evergreen. If marketers are focused on selling branded products and consumers are focused on collecting experiences rather than material possessions, then there is a major disconnect. And that goes beyond the shortened life cycles of licensed consumer products. So, how can we bridge the divide with new licensing program strategies? IMMERSION BRINGS IT TO LIFE Nothing brings brands to life more compellingly than strong content that

evolves and keeps them fresh, current, and interesting. With all of the social media platforms at their disposal, the smallest properties — the tiniest upstarts — can gain audiences that literally explode into popularity almost overnight thanks to word of mouth. There are a number of properties that have achieved this by maximizing digital media, from Shopkins and Angry Birds to Pokémon Go. By capitalizing on the popularity of its YouTube shorts, Shopkins became the hottest collectible toy line a couple of years ago. But merchandising wasn’t the end-all, be-all for the brand. In collaboration with Koba Entertainment, the property is staging live shows dubbed “Shopkins Live! Shop It Up!” across the U.S. A colorful explosion of kids’ favorite characters combined with a creative storyline, original urban style music, and dance routines add

up to a highly interactive experience. VIP tickets include photo-ops backstage with characters after the show and bags of swag, among other goodies. Likewise, smart, evergreen brands understand the value of creating compelling experiences for their fans. Hello Kitty initiated pop-up cafes and cafe food trucks to take its beloved property directly to the fans in a memorable manner. National Geographic, in collaboration with 21st Century Fox, created National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey in New York City’s Times Square, an immersive experience in which visitors find themselves at the bottom of the South Pacific. The exhibit will periodically change so that guests can explore other worlds. What’s important is that merchandising tied to these kinds of immersive experiences becomes more irresistible to

Times Square Attractions Live LLC produced and developed National Geographic Encounter, along with Falcon’s Creative Group and Pixomondo. The immersive experience for kids ages 3 and up includes a light-up a coral reef, the chance to witness a deep-sea battle between two ferocious Humboldt squids or mischievous sea lions, a twisting kelp forest, 120,000 fish, and more.

“Shopkins Live! Shop It Up!” brings the brand to life with live music and dance from Shoppies Jessicake, Bubbleisha, Peppa-Mint, Rainbow Kate, Cocolette, and Polli Polish, accompanied by Shopkins Apple Blossom, Strawberry Kiss, Lippy Lips, Kooky Cookie, Poppy Corn, Slick Breadstick, and Shady Diva.



The Hello Kitty Grand Cafe, which opened on Sept. 14 last year at the Irvine Spectrum Center in Irvine, California, offers afternoon tea and cocktail service.

fans. There’s a sense of immediate desire because of the level of emotional connection that people experience at a live event. Disney has always understood this, hence the addition of hot new properties to its theme parks, with rides and live characters that interact directly with fans. There’s another important point, too: Merchandise tied to these kinds of immersive experiences continues to sell, whereas most licensed consumer products in retail stores have a limited shelf life. GOING COUNTERCULTURE There’s something about our culture that loves the underdog — the rugged individual who swims against the tide. Brands like these, designed to appeal to a limited audience, have had transcendent power when adopted by the mainstream. They’ve become cultural icons beloved by one generation after the other. From bad boys James Dean and Mick Jagger to Harley Davidson, Jack Daniels, and today’s Minions, countercultural properties can catch fire, and if they remain authentic and true to their roots, their mystique grows,

enshrining them in our consciousness forever. Today’s living legends find ways to interact with their fans in a memorable manner. Harley Davidson, for example, packs its annual calendar with branded tours, rides, and rallies around the world. Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, an unpredictable 3D ride at Universal Studios Hollywood, brings fans into the zany world of the odd little yellow men with a passion for bananas. COLLABORATION IS THE KEY You’re likely thinking that this is great for properties with the resources to experiment with immersive, live entertainment for their fans — properties who can scale these events; create pop-up cafes, retail shops, and food trucks; and develop interactive toys and consumer products. But brand owners with modest resources can collaborate with design consultants with expertise in event creation who can leverage social media platforms in a highly effective manner — and who can develop a licensing program design that connects with a property’s fans. Vision

and boldness are more important than financial resources. Small brands “that could” have proven that more than once. THE BOTTOM LINE All of these ideas catapult properties from having a passive presence in the marketplace to active engagement with their fans. How do they do it? By humanizing brands. As we all know, human-to-human connections are what form long-lasting relationships. »

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 for more information. | SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019 | THE TOY BOOK   107


DUBIOUS DISTINCTIONS Toys Make Top 10 List of Goods Seized by Customs by HOWARD N. ARONSON, managing partner, Lackenbach Siegel SOMETIMES BEING IN THE TOP 10 isn’t so great. That may be how toy companies feel after learning that toys rank No. 10 on the list of the top counterfeit goods seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), following luxury goods, such as jewelry and electronics. In the 2016 fiscal year, CBP did not include a separate category for toys because there were so few seizures of counterfeit items. However, in the 2017 fiscal year — the most recent year for which statistics are available — the federal agency seized 449 shipments of toys worth more than $12 million for the corresponding authentic toys. That’s almost 1.5% of CBP’s total shipment seizures. For example, in a single day at one seaport, CBP’s Office of Field Operations seized $121,442 worth of counterfeit toys. The toys shipped from China were headed for an importer in North Carolina. In the shipment, CBP found toys with trademarks and copyrights belonging to entities such as Hasbro (Power Rangers), Danjaq (James Bond 007), Cartoon Network, and Apple. Toy companies need no lectures on the fact that counterfeiting robs lawful rights holders of profits and harms consumers because the products are made with poor-quality materials. Toy companies, like all rights owners, know that their intellectual property is stolen and their brand is damaged each time a counterfeit shipment reaches the U.S. market. They also know that the U.S. economy and customer safety both suffer from counterfeits, especially toys. Lead content and hazardously small parts are just two of the safety hazards that counterfeit toys often pose. WHAT COMPANIES FAIL TO DO More than 11 million containers arrive at U.S. ports annually, while another 10 million containers arrive via land borders, 3 million containers arrive via rail, and 250 million containers arrive via air. Yet, fewer than 40,000 trademarks and copyrights are recorded for border enforcement with CBP. Although this simple step can be an 108

effective deterrent to counterfeiters, most of the millions of trademarks and copyrights are not recorded with CBP. YOU HAVE TO REGISTER, THEN RECORD Counsel can advise toy companies about the process of recording their registered trademarks and copyrights with CBP. Recordation allows trademark and copyright owners to benefit from the agency’s enforcement powers. In addition to a small payment, the recordation process requires information from the rights owner about people or entities who are authorized to use the rights and the manufacturing location for the goods. A

However, in the 2017 fiscal year ... [CBP] seized 449 shipments of toys worth more than $12 million ... trademark owner who is applying for gray market protection must provide evidence to CBP of how the foreign manufactured products that are to be blocked differ from those produced for the U.S. market. Counsel can also advise toy manufacturers about the process of notifying CBP of suspected shipments, activities, or parties involved in counterfeiting. Then, CBP can provide that information to the particular office or port of entry, and a criminal investigation sometimes follows. Toy manufacturers can also provide product identification training guides to CBP to assist the agency in identifying products that are potentially counterfeit. WHAT CBP CAN DO CBP can detain or seize trademarked products, copyrighted works, and some trade names. For trademarks, CBP looks for the following products among shipments: counterfeit products that bear marks that are identical to or substantially indistinguishable from a federally regis-


tered trademark; products bearing “copying or simulating marks,” trademarks that are confusingly similar to a federally registered trademark; and “gray market goods,” products that carry a trademark that is authorized by the owner for use only outside U.S. borders. CBP can seize any product that carries a counterfeit of a federally registered trademark that is recorded with it. CBP checks to find out if the brand owner has given consent — in writing — for the product to be imported. If not, the products will be seized and destroyed. CBP also has the power to abet the importation of counterfeits and impose civil fines against parties who direct or assist in the commission of the crime. Because of the overwhelmingly large number of shipments crossing U.S. borders each year, CBP focuses on identifying and seizing products bearing counterfeits of recorded marks. However, it is empowered to seize products bearing any counterfeit federally registered U.S. trademark. So, toy companies should make it a priority to record their trademarks with CBP. CBP will notify the brand owners when counterfeit products are seized and will provide the identity of the manufacturer, exporter, and importer, as well as other details about the shipment. In some cases, CBP delivers a sample of the product to the owner for examination or testing, or for use in pursuing civil remedies against the importer. Thus, as part of the top 10 categories injured by counterfeit imports, toy companies should take immediate steps to record their trademarks and copyrights with CBP. » Howard N. Aronson has provided legal counsel to toy industry companies for the past 30 years. He is the managing partner of Lackenbach Siegel, an intellectual property law firm recognized for its nine decades of handling toy company issues.


THE PERFECT BRAINSTORM Simple Steps to Help You Get More out of Creative Meetings by PHIL ALBRITTON, owner, Power Kid Design & Development AS YOU READ THIS, YOUR BRAIN IS

very busy. Reading requires several areas of your brain to coordinate and deliver information in a synchronized way. To decode the written text, your temporal lobe is actively and inwardly sounding out each word to determine its meaning. Your left frontal lobe is responsible for reading fluency and grammar comprehension, working to process the words into a string of recognizable information. The angular gyrus region in the back middle of your brain functions as a reading integrator and allows you to connect the dots between visual input and meaningful output. Without this region, the letters T-O-Y would not equate to the word “toy.” Currently, millions of synapses are firing in your brain as neural connections are strengthening. Your brain is the most powerful computer in existence. Did it feel that way in your last new product brainstorming session? If not, rest assured that there is nothing wrong with your brain. But there are slight changes you and your team can make to help shake loose more powerful and creative ideas. Here are some practical, executable tips. KNOW YOUR PROBLEM Albert Einstein famously said he would spend 55 minutes defining the problem and only five minutes finding the solution. Take note, and make sure all participants have a clear understanding of the objective before beginning any brainstorm session. Are you trying to develop the next tween craft hit? Are you expanding on a previously successful brand and finding new markets to attack? Are you trying to fill a price gap? Having a clear, thorough understanding of the objective focuses your discussion and enhances the quality of the concepts you generate. Once you define your goal, phrase it in the form of an intriguing question. Our brains are wired to ask and solve questions, so even if it’s subconscious, we will begin to work toward a solution. 110

MOVE TO A NEW ENVIRONMENT Avoid environments that hinder movement. Standard boardrooms are typically terrible places to try to be creative. Instead, try a living room, a rented restaurant space, or an outdoor venue. One of my favorite brainstorming locations is the Starbucks at my local Target. It is a relatively calm environment, yet it’s close enough to take quick walks through the aisles. Within reason, encourage participants to stand, stretch, or pace. This freedom not only allows your whole body to work toward the goal, but also often helps to produce a fun, free environment. Then, the meeting is less susceptible to social barriers that may discourage some from sharing ideas. Everyone in the meeting should have unlined paper and pencils. When focused on new-concept development, I am never too far from a small bit of Kinetic Sand, LEGO bricks, or Sculpey. Your body movement and creative brain activity accentuate each other. By including sketch pads, clay, or other creative mediums, you are feeding the brainstorming group’s senses and to act on new ideas immediately. BREAK FOR THE MUNDANE Allow breaks so participants can recharge and refresh. The goal of downtime is to jolt everyone into a different state of mind. Done correctly, brainstorming sessions are invigorating and exhausting. By stepping out for a quiet walk or lunch, we shift our environment and renew our thoughts. In this time (30 minutes to an hour), you should avoid thinking about the problem at hand. Instead, listen to music, eat a good meal, or enjoy nature. After time alone, you will find stepping back into brainstorming enjoyable, and that your time away has freed your mind to consider new possibilities. INTRODUCE SOME CONSTRAINTS Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos exercises this tactic with his “two-pizza teams” rule.


“Fresh creativity occurs as a result of slow acculumulation of small insights over time, rather than an instantaneous moment of brilliance.” If you can’t feed a team with two pizzas, it’s too big. Small teams allow for more independent ideas and quick-moving action points. Rather than opening the flood gates with a “no bad ideas” policy, I sometimes prefer to create artificial boundaries during creative discussions. I like to do this in 15-minute bursts. For example, allot 15 minutes during which no one is allowed to suggest an idea that would retail for more than roughly $2.99. Next, no ideas utilizing plastic. Short bursts can help your team avoid being paralyzed in the face of too many possible options. I am convinced that fresh creativity occurs as a result of a slow accumulation of small insights over time, rather than an instantaneous moment of brilliance. Great ideas take time and build on one another. Just as each part of your networked brain is strengthened while reading, you can train your mind to generate focused and meaningful creative thoughts by introducing these practices in your brainstorming sessions. »

Power Kid Design & Development is a fullservice, Nashville-based toy development studio. You can join Albritton for entertaining and educational conversations about the toy industry each Tuesday on the “Power Kid Podcast.” He can be reached at (615) 5452015 or


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: 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.

Toy Overstock Experts We are looking for manufacturers and suppliers to help manage your closeouts and overstocks. With more than 20 years of experience we can work with lots large, small, and mixed. Distressed goods and need for rebranding. Call us for help with your inventory management needs! 600 Cummings Center Beverly, MA 01915 Phone: (978) 969-3734 Email: ®

To place a classified ad, please contact Bill Reese at 212-575-4510 x2322 or | SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019 | THE TOY BOOK   111

BACKSTORY STORY UNO: RACING TO NO. 1 A High Octane Chapter for UNO and International Games by JAMES ZAHN, senior editor IF YOU WERE A FAN OF MOTORsports in the late 1970s to mid-1980s, there’s a solid chance you saw the word “UNO” flying around the track. In fact, one of the most popular card games of alltime had a presence at race tracks across the U.S. until at least 1991, when Arie “The Flying Dutchman” Luyendyk piloted his RCA/UNO-emblazoned Granatelli Red Indy car across the finish line at the 75th Indianapolis 500. The following year, International Games, the marketer of more than 30 games, including UNO and Skip Bo, was acquired in a stock-swap, making the Joliet, Illinois-based company a wholly owned subsidiary of Mattel. At the time, Mattel Games was a newly established imprint, and the company famous for Hot Wheels and Barbie was seeking a quick way to build a library, making an acquisition the perfect way to pull it off and hit retail hard. “International Games will be the cornerstone on which we build Mattel’s games business and will immediately provide us a meaningful presence in the category,” said John W. Amerman, Mattel’s chairman and CEO at the time. “UNO is the top-selling game in the industry, based on unit sales.” Following Mattel’s acquisition in 1992, UNO continued to be a staple of game aisles and game nights everywhere, but the rock-and-roll lifestyle and image that UNO once fueled quickly faded. 112

THE TALE OF ROBERT & MERLE The basic history of UNO is a famous one — the oft-recounted tale of Merle Robbins, an Ohio barbershop owner and card game enthusiast, who created the game and sold the original version out of his barbershop. Over Thanksgiving weekend in 1971, the game caught the attention of Robert Tezak — owner of a funeral parlor in Joliet — who became hooked. The following year, Tezak made a deal with Robbins to take over UNO, and International Games was formed. A FLEDGLING GAME COMPANY As it is with most companies, the first few years were a rough go, but the revised version of UNO was picking up steam and finding success via mail order. Eventually, the game hit shelves at retailers like Walmart and Kmart, and an empire was born. “We just knew absolutely nothing about the toy business and started a trial-and-error process that was very interesting but very rocky. ... We were very lucky,” Tezak explained in a post-acquisition interview with United Press International in 1992.


Buddy Baker and the No. 1 “UNO Racer” from the UNO Racing trading card set (1983).

Maybe they were “lucky,” but International Games was a marketing pioneer — something many may not have realized at the time. There’s an entire piece of the UNO legacy that is often missed. OFF TO THE RACES International Games put its products in front of an audience to build a following. The company donated prizing for WGN’s The Bozo Show, landing its games on television without the major ad spend. Then it hit live events, including a massive push into auto racing. Motorsports had become big business, and an opportunity was right there in Joliet. During the summer months,

thousands of fans were attending Midget auto races on the short track at Joliet Memorial Stadium. Hosted by the United Auto Racing Association (UARA), the races were a family affair and the perfect place to market games. UNO soon became a logo regularly seen on cars, and intermission giveaways to the fans in the stands were frequently presented “courtesy of International Games.” UNO Racing became a fixture, with World of Outlaw Midgets (now backed by Tezak) taking over the the open-wheel action in Joliet from UARA. Soon, UNO Racing hit the mainstream with NASCAR and Indy sponsorships. Tim Richmond won “Rookie of the Year” at the 1980 Indianapolis 500, scoring a top-10 finish behind the wheel of his No. 21 car. Pictured on the side? A pack of UNO cards with the phrase, “Let’s Play a Game!” Two months later, he made the jump from open-wheel to NASCAR, and by late summer, Richmond was hanging with Tezak in Joliet. As UNO Racing expanded, famed drivers, such as Buddy Baker and Kyle Petty, were sporting not only the UNO logo on their cars, but the International Games logo as well. In 1983, International Games released a new UNO deck, though not a playable one. The company produced a complete set of NASCAR trading cards under the UNO Racing name — innovative for a time when motorsports hadn’t yet hit the baseball-dominated trading card market. Richmond, who had been nicknamed “Hollywood” after pursuing acting classes following some work (along with other NASCAR stars) in the Burt Reynolds-led Stroker Ace, was featured heavily in the deck, as his star was rising quickly and his fast-living reputation was growing. At the same time, Tezak’s career was a three-pronged effort spanning across games, racing, and politics. In Illinois, he was elected Will County Coroner and served as a delegate for the Republican National Convention.

A LICENSING PIONEER International Games was one of the first to become a major player in co-branded licensed games. By the mid ‘80s, the company had worked with Warner Bros. for card games based on The Dukes of Hazzard and Gremlins, Hasbro for the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero Adventure Board Game, and Sesame Workshop for a range of Sesame Street Games for Growing (later reissued under Mattel). Rolling into the ‘90s, the company partnered with Mirage Studios for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games, Troma for the Toxic Crusaders card game, and was quick to partner with Vanilla Ice for an Electronic Rap Game. Of course, each and every package featured a callback to where it all started: “From the makers of UNO.” In May 1991, International Games released The Indy 500 75th Running Race Game, described as “High Horsepower Card Game Excitement!” In retrospect, it serves as a fitting bookend for a racing-fueled era of game industry history. As for Tezak, his life post-UNO has been colorful. Now retired out west, his adventures will make a great movie someday — as will the stories of some of those who once ran in the same circles. Richmond, who inspired Tom Cruise’s character in Days of Thunder, died in 1989 — a high-profile casualty of the AIDS crisis at the age of 34. A LASTING LEGACY Nearly three decades after Mattel took over International Games, UNO continues to be a highlight for Mattel Games. UNO was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame last year, while brand extensions and licensing continue to drive the line with new offerings, such as DOS, UNO ColorAdd, and UNO Flip! The game also got a licensed Toy Story 4 edition, complete with a special rule for younger players. BTS UNO also recently arrived — an all-new deck that sees the red-hot Korean pop stars take their place in the UNO legacy. Nearly 50 years since UNO hit the scene, the NPD Group says it’s still holding strong as “America’s Favorite Card Game.” UNO is No. 1. »

The International Games edition of the original UNO. Photo: Mattel archives

THE ORIGINAL The original UNO has experienced a few tweaks over the years, but it’s largely the same game that you remember. A recent tweet from @realUNOgame set the internet ablaze with news that some “rules” that many play by may not be considered official.

SECOND BEST Is DOS “The World’s No. 2 Card Game?” That’s an unverified statistic that’s been on the box since its launch last year.

A RECENT ADDITION First seen at Toy Fair New York, V, SUGA, Jin, Jung Kook, RM, Jimin, and j-hope are featured in BTS UNO. The pop group has sold millions of records, but will they move millions of decks? | SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019 | THE TOY BOOK






Play Along plans to launch a collection of Britney Spears dolls featuring the outfits she wore in her “Baby One More Time,” “Sometimes,” and “Crazy” music videos. In addition, the company will release a deluxe collection featuring Spears wearing the outfits from her live concert tour.

Leading online retailer launched two new stores: Electronics and Toys & Games. Together, these two stores turn what consumers say are among the most difficult shopping experiences into hassle-free ones. In a nationwide poll of people who have bought toys and electronics, more than half said they would prefer to buy toys and electronics online.




Kids and teenagers are the two largest growth sectors of the internet population, although they will directly account for less than 5% of online shopping revenues in 2002. In 1998, approximately 8.6 million kids and 8.4 million teens spent time online. According to Jupiter/ NFO Consumer Survey, which queried 600 teenagers and children, 67% of teens and 37% of kids indicated that they have researched or bought products online. Jupiter forecasts that teenagers will account for $1.2 billion of the e-commerce in 2002, while kids will account for $100 million.







Wrestling-related toys and video games are selling at a blistering pace, according to the NPD Group. Although retail sales of traditional toys were up 2% in 1998, sales of wrestling toy products grew 169% for the year. Growth has continued in 1999 with wrestling toy sales up 386% through May 1999 over the same period a year ago. Video game wrestling products also experienced strong growth, with 1998 sales up 472% and sales through May 1999 up an additional 23%.

In addition to powerful, fast graphics and sound, Dreamcast, from Sega, includes a visual memory unit and modem. Its Dreamcast artificial intelligence (AI) allows characters and enemies to think, learn, and react to situations occurring in the game. Players can compete in games online with other Dreamcast owners and access the internet to download game-expanding information using the modem.

Polaroid created the Taz and Barbie Instant Camera for kids looking to add more “character” to their lives. With its signature Barbie colors and decorated body, the Barbie Instant Camera is a must-have for kids who love to catch their friends on film. The Taz Instant Camera features a life-size model head of the Looney Tunes character the Tasmanian Devil built into the camera.