The Toy Book - February 2023

Page 132


VOLUME 39, NO. 1


Published by Adventure Media and Events LLC



41 | A New PR Opportunity

It’s time to plan your booth for the Toy Fair of the future.

42 | State of the Industry Q&A

Dozens of top toy industry leaders, retailers, and manufacturers weigh in on toy trends, hot topics, business strategies, and more in this annual roundtable discussion.

72 | From the Tabletop to the Toy Department Hasbro’s Dungeons & Dragons brand goes mainstream.

76 | Hong Kong Homecoming

The HKTDC Toys & Games Fair is back in action.

80 | The International Toy Box

A Deep Dive into Latin America’s Toy Industry and Growth in Brazil

82 | Toying with the Industry 2023 is poised to put the resilience of the business to the test.

The industry demonstrates strength despite growing challenges.

38 | Searching for More Than Just a Cuddly Pillow

Predictions for Toy Industry Performance in 2023

40 | A New Beginning

The North American toy industry reacts to a changing timeline.

129 | Backstory: 40 Years of Cabbage Patch Kids Looking Back on the Kids That Crazed the World in 1983

140 | Low Price, High Impact

The Changing Role of Discount, Value, and Outlet Stores in the Toy Industry

142 | Reply Hazy, Try Again

Cautious optimism reigns as the gaming industry looks ahead.

CEO Laurie Schacht

Vice President & Group Publisher Jackie Breyer

Editor-in-Chief James Zahn

Senior Editors Madeleine Buckley

Jackie Cucco

Ali Mierzejewski

Marissa Silva

Social Media Editor Nicole Savas

Editorial Assistants Annabelle Canela

Hannah Sacks

Editorial Interns Maggie Dougherty Omar Letson Ashley Pelletier

News Writer Bug Hartsock

Art Director Joe Ibraham

Junior Designer Elena Sorce

Design Intern Caroline Lavalee Business Operations Manager Bill Reese

Executive Director of Sales & Marketing James Devin

Sales & Marketing Executive Stephanie Infantino

Controller/Office Manager Lori Rubin

changes to: Toy Book, c/o Adventure Media and Events LLC., 307 Seventh Ave., Room 501, 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

16 The Toy Book | February 2023 |
26 | From the Editor 28 | Industry Update 30 | ASTRA’s Insights 31 | Toy Association Update 32 | Toy Association Perspectives 34 | Stat Shot: U.S. 35 | Stat Shot: Canada 104 | Media Mashup 177 | Raising the Bar 223 | Marketing Memo 257 | Outside the Box 258 | New in Town: Afro Unicorn 260 | Giving Back 262 | WiT Stories 264 | Pop Quiz 265 | Compliance & Regulations 266 | Flashback
84 | What’s New 106 | Action Figures & Collectibles 132 | Dolls 144 | Games & Puzzles 166
Vehicles & R/C 174 | Pets 178 | Construction 184 | Arts, Crafts, & Activities 198 | Plush 206
Outdoor & Active 220
Costumes & Role Play 224
Trading Cards 226
Impulse &
Infant &
Preschool Features
Novelties 236 |
Adjacent 238 |
Toddler 246 |
36 | U.S. Toy Industry Retail Sales Flat in 2022
39, No. 1
ISSUE Volume
FEBRUARY 2023 The Toy Book Volume 39, No. 1. 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 501, New York, NY 10001, Phone (212) 575-4510. Periodicals Postage paid at New York and additional mailing offices. Copyright © 2023 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
Cover photo: Mitchel Wu Toy Photography | Products courtesy: Hasbro From left: Catamaran (Playmobil), UNO Flex (Mattel Games), Living on the Veg (Russ/Jazwares), Transformers Studio Series Deluxe 100 Bumblebee (Hasbro)


Buckle up and rev the engine —

They say that toys are “recession proof,” and to some extent that’s true. Even in times of economic downturn, kids will still play and doting parents will do everything they can to make sure that their little ones don’t feel the pinch.

Still, to say that the last few years have been “challenging” would be an understatement: They’ve been a “permacrisis” — an endurance race — and the caution flag has been thrown on more than a few occasions. By my count, we’re in the sixth year of disruption in an era that has seen bankruptcies, trade disputes, a global pandemic, a supply chain breakdown, war, inflation, and the looming threat of recession.

The type of growth that the toy industry and others enjoyed during the pandemic boom was simply never going to be sustainable, and to think otherwise was foolish. Unfortunately, many companies only eyed the short-term and overexpanded, over-ordered, and got caught in a jam.


We’re already a few years into the 2020s, and this is where, with a bit of skill and a dash of luck, the toy industry can blaze a new path amid the sweeping change that helped shape this very issue.

The Toy Book’s 39th volume kicks off with the annual BIG Book — a February tradition that, until this year, was intended

this is where the

to coincide with another February tradition: Toy Fair New York.

With the show officially moving to its new fall timeframe, it remained clear that the North American toy industry still wanted a robust preview of the hottest new toys, games, and adjacent products set to hit retail in the months ahead.


Flip to page 84 for our comprehensive preview showcases, but first check out our annual State of the Industry Q&A roundtable (starting on page 42) for insights and predictions from some of the top voices in the business, including manufacturers, retailers, licensors, and more. We’ve also got all the latest sales data from The NPD Group in Stat Shot (page 34) with a look at top products in the U.S. and Canada.

For the first time, we’re also taking a look at the booming toy business of Latin America (page 80) and the changing role of discount, value, and outlet retailers in the U.S. (page 140).

Our cover story, “From the Tabletop to the Toy Department” (page 72), delves into the world of Dungeons & Dragons as the franchise goes mainstream and (hopefully) jumpstarts a return to box office-fueled toy sales as Barbie, the Transformers, and other toyetic properties line up for a big year at the movies. Our epic cover shot by Mitchel Wu represents the global reveal of

fun begins.

Hasbro's Golden Archive Owlbear action figure that will hit retail this summer.

Of course, we do love history, and on page 129 we spin the clock back 40 years for a look at the Cabbage Patch Kids craze of 1983 in the latest Backstory.

As you flip through this issue of The Toy Book, you’ll notice that we’re rockin’ a refreshed look, but all of your favorite departments and contributors are still here to deliver the insights and information to keep you on the #pulseofplay.

I think you'll find that there’s a lot to look forward to — but consider this an appetizer for what’s shaping up to be an incredible Toy Fair issue this fall. With the right products and innovations, 2023 could spark the start of this generation's “roaring ‘20s” — an era of prosperity in which kids and families let loose and discover new ways to play together as the world unites in fun. Ready to pass Go? 

26 The Toy Book | February 2023 |
James Zahn, best-known as The Rock Father, is the Editor-in-Chief of The Toy Book, and a Senior Editor of The Toy Insider and The Pop Insider. Frequently called upon for expert commentary on the toy industry, he has been featured in The New York Times and Forbes, and has appeared on Yahoo! Finance, CNBC, BBC, NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, CNN, and more. Connect with him on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter and Instagram @therockfather.
The Playmobil Ferrari SF90 Stradale is a hot new ride that rolls into toy stores this May. | Source: Playmobil USA


In a move that the company says will strengthen its long-term growth in the U.S. and throughout the Americas. The LEGO Group will vacate its current office in Enfield, Connecticut, in favor of a new space in Central Boston.

The company first set up shop in Enfield in 1975 with an office, factory, and warehouse, but its current location is only offices. The move to Boston will occur in phases beginning in mid-2025. LEGO says that until then, staff members will work in the existing office and at the company’s LEGO Education office in Back Bay, Boston. 


Ami Amis is an extensive collection of cozy, knitted characters inspired by food, music, animals, and nostalgia. Each wave includes 30 characters for kids to collect. 


The Australian toy and game company has committed to setting near and long-term, science-based targets to reduce its environmental footprint and support a planet positive future. The move is part of the company’s broader sustainability strategy, which includes de-carbonizing the business and exploring circular design principles and business models. 


The new range, which is available for retailer orders now, brings the Funko Pop! stylization into the micro scale with tiny versions of popular figures and packaging from a variety of top properties. 


After cooking up a deal to take over production of the Easy-Bake brand, Just Play inked an extended licensing agreement with Hasbro to create and market toys for the FurReal brand.

New toys from the Easy-Bake and FurReal brands will hit stores in 2024. 


WHP global is expecting. Following the relaunch of Toys “R” Us in the U.S. with a flagship store and a Macy’s partnership last year, the company will relaunch Babies “R” Us.

Babies “R” Us will open its first U.S. flagship store this summer at American Dream. Like the previous incarnation, the retailer will be a one-stop baby shop with an extensive range of products and services for new and expecting parents. The flagship will also feature new, interactive experiences, including a Stroller Test Track and a Wishing Tree. 


Characters from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter will join the Schleich lineup of figurines beginning in September. The launch wave includes six of the series’ main characters alongside their animal companions. Additional figures and playsets are planned for 2024 and 2025. 


HEXBUG is joining the Spin Master portfolio. The acquisition of the brand from Innovation First marks the 28th acquisition for Spin Master since 1994.

Last year, the company acquired puzzle maker 4D Brands International, digital game studio Nørdlight, and independent game studio SolidRoots. 


The Minecraft Creator Series expands with new action figures inspired by Camp Enderwood, “the digital island summer camp of dreams and nightmares.”

Each 3.25-inch-scale camper figure comes with five unique accessories to mix and match for multiple looks. 

LEGO Americas will move its U.S. headquarters to Boston by 2026. | Source: The LEGO Group
28 The Toy Book | February 2023 | INDUSTRY UPDATE


What Lies Ahead for Retailers and Manufacturers

We’ve learned a great deal over the past few years, but the biggest lesson of all is that we truly cannot predict the future or plan too far ahead. Flexibility is the key to success and specialty retailers have proven that they are very flexible and have the ability to pivot quickly.

The outlook for specialty toy retail in 2023 is bright! Last year, the fourth quarter gave us some insight into what this new year could hold for our industry. With December sales coming in greater than expected since many had their best year ever in 2021, the “shop local” movement continues, but the reasons why customers are choosing local retailers are changing. While the pandemic drove consumers to seek out their local retailers in 2020, other factors are keeping the “shop local” momentum strong.


While purchasing gifts from the comfort of your couch is appealing to some consumers, online shopping is not always a flawless experience. Issues with online purchases include potential product misrepresentation, difficult returns (often with additional shipping fees, annoying drop-off processes, and delayed refunds), and a lack of reliable delivery due to delivery service issues as well as unreliable stock availability.

The benefits of shopping in store — and shopping small — are numerous. Local businesses offer online ordering with in-store pick up or local delivery; individualized customer attention, whether over the phone, in-store, or online; gift

wrapping (which is typically free); and easy returns.

All of these factors and more show us that consumers have continued to appreciate their local retailers and choose to shop small.


There are several key toy categories driving sales growth to watch for this year. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest sellers at the specialty level:

Toys for Kidults: Older kids, teens, and adults are looking at the higher-end items, including construction sets (especially large LEGO sets), puzzles with higher piece counts (1,000 pieces and up), and games to play with their friends. This trend is especially exciting, as it helps expand the market in toy stores that have seen age compression change their store traffic demographics in recent years.

Comfort and Stress-Relief: Kids of all ages can benefit from toys that help relieve stress and anxiety. Plush continues to grow, and arts and crafts kits — including hands-on crocheting and knitting sets — are popular. Active play toys that help boost kids’ endorphins are also great to stock.

Tactile Play: While bubble poppers and fidget toys at impulse price points have dominated this category in recent years, the trend is waning and other tactile playthings are experiencing a resurgence, including slime and kinetic sand.


For manufacturers, the key to success this year is to bring original products to the market. And by that I mean new

products that are not just new versions of what’s already out there. Larger sets of the same type of construction products and travel or updated versions of the same brain teaser game just aren’t going to cut it with our ASTRA retailers. It’s time to think outside the box.

For retailers, it’s all about staffing creativity this year. What does that mean? So many industries are facing labor issues and retail seems to be suffering the most. While some businesses are struggling with getting workers to return to the office, many can still consider the work-from-home (WFH) option for their employees. But a WFH model is not an option for retailers. Stores need to be open and have staff present. Retailers will have to become more flexible and creative in their scheduling and consider what incentives can they give to their staff to both entice them to work in the store and to retain them long-term. To help with this, ASTRA is working on a campaign called “Play is my Job.”

For those of us in this industry, when you tell someone what you do, how many times have you heard, “Wow, that must be a really fun job?” To that, I answer a resounding “YES!” 2023 is looking very bright and we are ready to embrace it! 

Sue Warfield, President of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA), has more than 30 years of experience working in the toy industry, including owning a retail store, being a sales representative, and working alongside her husband at a manufacturing business.

Contact her:

30 The Toy Book | February 2023 | ASTRA’S


The latest trends will be unveiled at The Play Date media event.

The Toy Association’s trends team will unveil the hottest toy trends for 2023 during the Toy Trends Briefing taking place March 8 during The Play Date, an exclusive, media-only event presented by The Toy Association and Adventure Media & Events — publisher of The Toy Book — in New York City. While The Play Date exhibitors showcase their 2023 toys to top-tier media, the trends team will present new insights into the types of toys kids will be clamoring for throughout the year.

“Our team will give media an inside look at new and emerging trends impacting toys and how kids, tweens, teens, and adults will be engaging with toys and play in 2023,” says Adrienne Appell, Executive Vice President of Marketing Communications at The Toy Association. “The presentation will include brandnew products from Play Date exhibitors

trends in parallel industries that are impacting the play landscape.”

In the months leading up to the Toy Trends Briefing, the trends team took virtual and in-person meetings with toy companies to preview hundreds of products and scouted trends across social media, tech, fashion, and other industries to identify five themes as ones to watch in the toy aisles in 2023. To illustrate these trends, the Association’s trend experts will use examples straight from The Play Date’s exhibitors. Plus, a longer-form digital presentation featuring additional toy examples will follow the announcement and will be made available online at and on The Toy Association’s YouTube channel.

“From toys that encourage families to step away from their devices to learn new skills and focus on self-care to jumbo- and micro-size toys that tap into the novelty of scale, the trends will provide media with key insights as they look to develop stories about the industry and the future of the play space,” Appell says. This year’s report will also look at how toymakers are continuing to take advantage of trends driven by social media as well as opting for partnerships with verified experts in fields related to education, diversity, and sustainability to ensure their products are authentic and deliver on the values that matter to today’s families.

“Today’s consumers are savvy,” Appell says. “They not only care about the price of the toys, but also want to support companies that are true to their word and authentically bring to life


To learn more about the top trends shaping the toy industry, save the dates for Toy Fair 2023, taking place Sept. 30-Oct. 3 in New York City, where 2023 holiday and 2024 toy trends will be on display.

everything from critical social issues to educational concepts for kids.”

While past years have focused on the growth of kidult toy buyers, this year the team is predicting the rise of tween and teen shoppers. As this demographic continues to have more influence on what’s trending, it presents another opportunity for toymakers to grow their consumer base, and age-up and age-down lines to reach this critical audience.

“What the pandemic showed us is that while it used to be taboo to play with toys past a certain age, that’s no longer the case and all ages are embracing their playful side,” Appell says.

Jennifer Lynch handles daily content for The Toy Association’s outgoing print and online communications. Her articles on toy trends, toy safety, and industry news can also be found across trade and consumer publications worldwide. As an official trend-spotter for the Association, Lynch chats with toymakers throughout the year to track developments impacting the toy aisles and kids’ entertainment and has been interviewed on the latest toy trends by various outlets and publications.



What to Expect from the New Fall Timing

As the toy community sets its sights on Toy Fair 2023, taking place Sept. 30-Oct. 3 in New York City, The Toy Association is committed to producing a reimagined show that will deliver the best possible experience for all stakeholders.

“Toy Fair is renowned for being a truly dynamic, energetic show. Anyone who has been to Toy Fair in the past will tell you how much fun it is to walk the aisles and see the latest trends and innovations, fresh takes on classic play, exciting new brand partnerships, and unique products that are being introduced to the industry for the very first time,” says Kimberly Carcone, Executive Vice President of Global Market Events at The Toy Association. “And while the buying and selling activity of the show is core to its existence, Toy Fair is just as much a meeting ground for inspirational ideas, top-tier education, media access, and relationship building. We can’t wait to unveil what’s coming this fall for a reimagined Toy Fair ’23.”

Toy companies and buyers looking to do business and gain insight into where the industry stands and where it’s headed post-pandemic will be able to do so by attending any of the Toy Fair University sessions held throughout the four-day show. Sessions will cover the evolution of retail, business development, the supply chain, the profitability of the metaverse, toy and play trends, global market research, product safety, and topics specific to the needs of inventors and entrepreneurs. To date, nearly 100 speakers who are experts in their respective fields have

applied to present at Toy Fair. Additional details on the selected speakers and session topics will be shared later this year.

Toy Fair attendees will also find inspiration by walking the show floor, where thousands of new toys and games will be on display from companies of all sizes and from countries around the world.

industry has evolved over the past 20, 30, 40 years, including shifting our collective attention to play value and a strengthened commitment to safety. These values are shared universally across the industry. Of course, it’s a competitive environment, too, and there is a lot to be gained just by walking the floor and taking a peek at what our competitors are doing. These types of interactions make each of our businesses — and the entire industry — stronger.”


With a new fall timing that best suits the buyer-seller marketplace schedule, Toy Fair is being reimagined for 2023. What does this mean, exactly? In addition to a new visual merchandising initiative that will require exhibitors to make product visible in at least 20% of their booth space, exhibitors are also encouraged to design visually creative and inviting booths that will welcome buyers, global press, and play professionals into their space. The most playful and attractive booths will be eligible for one of Toy Fair’s inaugural Reimagination Awards.

“Bringing the entire industry together into one place allows for the nontangible knowledge transfer of what our industry does and who we are,” says Aaron Muderick, Chair of The Toy Association Board of Directors and Founder and Executive Chair of Crazy Aaron’s. “Year after year, you are gaining insight into how the

Toymakers are also encouraged to consider how they might leverage media opportunities at Toy Fair. Companies can highlight their Q4 items in front of the press just in time for the critical holiday shopping season, while giving exclusive sneak peeks at their 2024 lines.

In addition to aisle after aisle of toys and playthings of all kinds, the show floor will feature dedicated product zones and new showcases and pavilions, including the World of Toys Pavilion in partnership with Spielwarenmesse eG, highlighting

32 The Toy Book | February 2023 | TOY ASSOCIATION
KRISTIN MORENCY GOLDMAN, Senior Advisor, Strategic Communications, The Toy Association
“While the buying and selling activity of the show is core to its existence, Toy Fair is just as much a meeting ground for inspirational ideas, top-tier education, media access, and relationship building.”
- Kimberly Carcone, Executive Vice President of Global Market Events, The Toy Association

brands and playthings from around the world. Additionally, a Halloween Pavilion will spotlight products and experiences unique to the holiday, the new Pet PLAYce section will provide media and buyers with an easy and efficient showcase of companies and products focused on play for our furry friends, and the new Hot for Holiday displays will shine a bright light

on what consumers will be vying for in Q4 2023. We will announce additional zones as we finalize them, providing companies with even more ways to showcase, highlight, and draw attention to their offerings in front of buyers and press.

“As the toy industry continues to grow and evolve, particularly since the onset of the pandemic, and as the demographic of

toy-buying consumers expands, Toy Fair will continue to reflect the current and future state of the industry,” Carcone adds. “With Toy Fair ’23 just around the corner – and the fact that we have not been able to gather in New York City for this marquee event since February 2020 – there is immeasurable electricity in the air and an unequaled anticipation for Toy Fair’s return. We can’t wait to see the industry again this fall and discover the products and people that are poised to shape the future of play!”

As The Toy Association’s Senior Advisor of Strategic Communications, Kristin Morency Goldman keeps members of the toy community apprised of the latest global developments in toy trends, safety, retail, marketplace events, international trade, market research, and other topics impacting the business of toys and youth entertainment. She holds a master’s degree in media, culture, and communications from NYU.

The annual character parade kicked off the last in-person Toy Fair in February 2020. | Source: The Toy Association



2022 TOP 10 TOYS

34 The Toy Book | February 2023 | Copyright 2023. The NPD Group, L.P. All Rights Reserved. Proprietary and Confidential. Property of NPD and its Affiliates. Licensed for Use by NPD Clients Only. Data is representative of retailers that participate in The NPD Group’s Retail Tracking Service. NPD’s current estimate is that the Retail Tracking Service represents approximately 78% of the U.S. retail market for toys.
SUPERCATEGORY ANNUAL 2022 CHANGE Action Figures and Accessories $2.24 billion 4% Arts and Crafts $1.25 billion 0% Building Sets $2.92 billion 8% Dolls $3.36 billion -12% Games and Puzzles $3.46 billion 0% Infant, Toddler, and Preschool Toys $3.68 billion -2% Youth Electronics $457 million -11% Outdoor and Sports Toys $5.20 billion -11% Plush $2.30 billion 31% Vehicles $1.73 billion -1% Explorative and Other Toys $2.56 billion 16% GRAND TOTAL $29.15 billion -0.2%
RANK ITEM MANUFACTURER 1 Squishmallows Plush 16-inch Assortment Jazwares 2 Squishmallows Plush 12-inch Assortment Jazwares 3 Hot Wheels Singles 1:64 Assortment Mattel 4 Squishmallows Plush 8-inch Assortment Jazwares 5 Squishmallows Plush 14-inch Assortment Jazwares 6 5 Surprise Mini Brands Mystery Pack Assortment ZURU 7 Pokémon Charizard Ultra Premium Collection The Pokémon Co. 8 Squishmallows Plush 24-inch Assortment Jazwares 9 Barbie Dreamhouse Mattel 10 5 Surprise Mini Brands Disney Store Edition Mystery Pack ZURU


2022 TOP 10 TOYS

THE BIG TOY BOOK 35 Copyright 2023. The NPD Group, L.P. All Rights Reserved. Proprietary and Confidential. Property of NPD and its Affiliates. Licensed for Use by NPD Clients Only. Data is representative of retailers that participate in The NPD Group’s Retail Tracking Service. Dollar amounts rounded by The Toy Book
SUPERCATEGORY ANNUAL 2022 CHANGE Action Figures and Accessories $156 million 20.1% Arts and Crafts $102 million -5.7% Building Sets $304 million 1.3% Dolls $243 million -4.4% Games and Puzzles $303 million -5.1% Infant, Toddler, and Preschool Toys $283 million -0.2% Youth Electronics $50 million 2.1% Outdoor and Sports Toys $463 million -5.7% Plush $187 million 40.9% Vehicles $146 million 7.7% Explorative and Other Toys $154 million -6.7% GRAND TOTAL $2.39 billion 1.0%
RANK ITEM MANUFACTURER 1 Squishmallows Plush 8-inch Assortment Jazwares 2 Squishmallows Plush 12-inch Assortment Jazwares 3 Hot Wheels Singles 1:64 Assortment Mattel 4 Squishmallows Plush 16-inch Assortment Jazwares 5 My Magic Mixies with Plush 8-inch Moose Toys 6 KidiZoom Smartwatch Assortment VTech 7 Squishmallows Plush 5-inch Assortment Jazwares 8 Magic Mixies Magic Crystal Ball Assortment Moose Toys 9 Squishmallows Plush 14-inch Assortment Jazwares 10 Squishmallows Plush 24-inch Assortment Jazwares


The industry demonstrates resiliency despite growing challenges.

U.S. retail sales of toys generated $29.2 billion in 2022, a slight decrease of 0.2% or $49 million compared to 2021. Unit sales declined by 4% and the average selling price (ASP) of $12.68 was 3% higher than in 2021. While unit sales declined by 4% in 2022, it’s worth noting that the industry is coming off two consecutive years of unit sales increases, including growth of 9% in 2021.

While sales remained relatively flat in 2022, the market saw strong growth over the last three years, including 14% growth in 2021 and 17% growth in 2020. This growth has contributed to a three-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10%, driven by ASP growth of 8% and unit sales growth of 2%.

2022 came with many challenges, including double-digit increases in food prices, rising interest rates, weather disruptions, and the ongoing threat of new COVID-19 variants and reinfections. These factors made for a long list of shopping hurdles contributing to a muted holiday season for the U.S. toy industry.

Looking at the fourth quarter, specifically, dollar sales decreased by 5% or $628 million, according to The NPD Group’s Retail Tracking Service. Unit sales also declined by 5%, while ASP remained flat. Despite a substantial increase in the share of units sold on promotion in Q4 compared to last year, it wasn’t enough to entice consumers to purchase more toys than last year. Budget-conscious shoppers pulled back on discretionary spending and prioritized services and food. While these headwinds certainly impacted overall consumer behavior, the toy industry still managed to finish the year on a positive note as spending kept pace with the previous high-water mark of 2021.


Looking at supercategory performance, four of the 11 supercategories tracked by NPD posted growth in 2022. Compared to 2019, nine supercategories posted a positive three-year CAGR. Outdoor and Sports toys continued to be the largest supercategory, with $5.2 billion in

sales in 2022; however, it had the largest dollar sales decline of all the toys supercategories, falling 11% year over year. It accounted for 18% of dollar sales for toys in 2022 and contributed 52% of the annual sales declines. Plush toys had the largest dollar gain of $547 million and the fastest dollar growth, rising 31%. Explorative and Other toys followed, growing 16% year over year.

Moving to CAGR compared to 2019, Plush had the fastest growth of 23%, followed by Explorative and Other toys at 22%. Dolls had a flat three-year CAGR, while Youth Electronics declined by 1%. The top toy properties of 2022 included Pokémon, Barbie, Marvel Universe, Star Wars, Squishmallows, Fisher-Price, Hot Wheels, L.O.L. Surprise!, LEGO Star Wars, and Melissa & Doug. These top 10 properties collectively grew 7%, while the rest of the market declined 2%. On the retail front, the online channel continued to gain share in 2022 and made up 40% of total toy industry dollars, outperforming physical stores all year.


• Plush had the largest dollar gain of $547 million, up 31%, with Squishmallows, Magic Mixies, and Pokémon as the main drivers of growth. Jazwares’ Squishmallows accounted for five of the top 10 selling toys for the total toy industry and was the top absolute dollar growth property in 2022.

• Explorative and Other toys increased 16%, or $344 million. The NFL, Disney All Other, and NBA had the largest growth in the category.

• The Building Sets category was up

36 The Toy Book | February 2023 | STATE OF THE INDUSTRY

8% with LEGO Creator Expert, LEGO Technic, and Jurassic Park/World dominating the growth in the category. The LEGO Botanical Collection, which was trending on TikTok, drove the gains for the LEGO Creator Expert brand.

• Action figures and Accessories saw a 4% increase, mainly driven by Jurassic Park/World, Funko Pop!, and Sonic The Hedgehog. Action figures and Accessories drove more buyers to the category in 2022, with the second largest percent increase (11%) in buyer penetration next to Plush.

• Arts and Crafts remained flat compared to 2021. The largest declines came from Kinetic, while Play-Doh, Crazy Aaron’s, and Lite-Brite had the largest gains.

• Games and Puzzles also remained flat this year, mainly driven by declines in Magic: The Gathering and Monopoly. Pokémon was the largest gaining property in games and puzzles and was also the No. 1 property for the total toy industry.

• Vehicles declined by 1% with the largest declines coming from Nintendo, while New Bright and Jurassic Park/ World posted the largest gains.

• Youth Electronics saw an 11% decline with the largest declines coming from Osmo, Little Live, and Squeakee. Robo Alive and CoComelon had the largest gains. Youth Electronics had the steepest decline in buyer penetration, which was reduced by 12%.

• Infant, Toddler, and Preschool toys declined by 2% with the largest declines coming from PAW Patrol and PJ Masks, while Gabby’s Dollhouse and CoComelon posted the largest gains.

• Dolls was down 12% with the largest declines coming from L.O.L. Surprise! and Barbie. Disney Encanto and Monster High had the largest dollar growth.

• Outdoor and Sports toys saw an 11% decline, mainly driven by declines in NERF, Hover-1, and Razor. KidKraft and Minecraft were the largest gaining properties in the category.


Like last year, there will be headwinds and tailwinds for the industry, although the headwinds will likely dominate performance in 2023. With a more significant theatrical calendar this year, the U.S. toy industry is poised to enjoy the fruits of several tentpole movies.

However, if inflation and other adverse macroeconomic factors linger later in the year — or become worse — we can expect to see families pulling back on the number of toys they purchase or trading down to lower price points. Looking at the glass half full, as the economy worsens, consumers might spend more time at home for their entertainment. During the pandemic, this home-centric lifestyle was a boon for the toy industry.

What’s keeping me awake at night is

losing the momentum in sales of toys to kidults, ages 12 and up. This group made up $9.3 billion in annual toy sales, or nearly 25% of the dollar share, and represented $1.7 billion in dollar growth, nearly 60% of the growth for the 12 months ending Sept. 2022. Adults ages 18 and up made up more than half of that growth. We’ll need to hold onto that substantial growth just to remain flat. Manufacturers need to keep this consumer interested.

The potential downward shift in ASP is another potential headwind. Although the ASP of a toy increased only 3% in 2021, it increased 25% compared to 2019. There were six supercategories in which the ASP increased 8% or more in 2022 alone. As pressure escalates to bring down ASP, and consumers scale back on the number of toys purchased, this could have a domino effect on dollar sales trends. The first three quarters of this year will face the most challenging comparisons, since increases in ASPs drove revenue gains last year. With Easter falling in early April, Q1 will benefit the most from those purchases and put added pressure on Q2.

At the end of the day, 2023 could be our new benchmark rather than focusing on 2019. The story for manufacturers will likely be around protecting margins with pricing strategies, investing in marketing, and growing share, but not necessarily growing sales. I would caution manufacturers to not hold back at the expense of the future; the consumer will come out of this period looking to spend on innovative, new toys. As I’ve been saying for three years, do your scenario planning, take advantage of the various datasets and insights NPD has to help you strategize, and be prepared to pivot — you will be pivoting at some point.

Juli Lennett is the Vice for The NPD Group’s U.S. toys division. She has spent more than 16 years at NPD managing client relationships and consulting with a variety of manufacturers, licensors, and retailers within the toy industry.
Sources: The NPD Group/Retail Tracking Service, Jan.-Dec. 2022 vs. 2021. The NPD Group/Checkout, Jan.-Dec. 2022 vs. 2021 Data
is representative
retailers that participate in The
Group’s Retail
Service. NPD’s current estimate is that the Retail
Service represents approximately 78% of the U.S. retail market for toys.


Predictions for Toy Industry Performance in 2023

Looking ahead at the toy industry this year, I anticipate pressure on the consumer to continue, particularly in the early part of the year. But consumers are adjusting to higher prices and are getting a better idea of how to manage their budgets. I expect retail sales to accelerate through the year and to end with solid growth in Q4.

Retailers tend to be reactive, and so I anticipate more conservative ordering after last year’s tumultuous holiday season. I’m bracing for weak point of sale (POS) in the first half of this year, owing to the combination of suppressed retail orders and a still-cautious consumer. I keep hearing about canceled orders and plans for a down year, and that makes me wonder if the retailers could go too far and get caught short toward the end of the year, forcing them to scramble to chase inventory. And the cycle begins anew.

I am forecasting a total U.S. retail sales decline of about 1% this year. But, importantly, I am forecasting Q4 retail sales to grow by 7%. I think supply chains are now up to the task, but first, we need to get through several tough quarters. I think the first nine months could be down about 8%, with the most pressure in Q1.

Given the changes to Toy Fair and its shift from February to September in New York, I’m not sure when I am going to see key drivers for the 2023 season. But when I do, I hope to see more innovation to help drive sales. We could use a hot product to generate some buzz and excitement. When the industry’s best-selling toy two years running is a cuddly pillow, there might be a problem. Tough times tend to bring back the classics and retro toys —

tried-and-true play patterns that manufacturers, retailers, and consumers alike trust with their shrinking dollars. But that’s a hunkering down and milking-theclock strategy. I think the toy consumer is ready for a little more pizazz.

I expect vehicles to show growth again after a strong year last year. The appeal of Hot Wheels’ low price point was apparent during the holiday season. And, ironically enough, last year was the first year a Hot Wheels single pack broke through the $1 price ceiling.

The plush category has been strong, riding the success of Jazwares’ Squishmallows. I expect another year of growth in that category. The infant and toddler and construction categories both seem to be steady and stable.

I continue to expect the categories that saw strong growth during the COVID-19 pandemic to underperform — board games have very long shelf lives. Dolls could perhaps see an up year after a disappointing performance last year. The aging of Barbie, markdowns on L.O.L. Surprise!, and work-down of Hasbro’s discontinued Disney Princess line made the doll aisle a dreary place to be last year. This year’s PG-13 Barbie movie is a wild card, but it could be the right thing at the right time to change the trajectory of the doll category. I think some consumers will also be intrigued by the new Disney Princess product from Mattel.

Action figures, which tend to be entertainment-driven, could benefit from a more robust movie slate. A potential negative is a tiring adult collector market. Times are tough and collectibles are much more of a “want” than a “need.”

On the cost side, toy companies will be able to take advantage of lower input prices, excess manufacturing capacity in Asia, and better shipping rates to either increase margins or pass savings along to customers to re-energize demand. I expect operating expenses to increase ahead of sales growth as toy companies utilize more advertising to stimulate demand.

Finally, the toy question I get most often is: “What’s your son Oliver into these days?” The answer is Pokémon in all shapes and forms, Hot Wheels, LEGO sets, baseball cards, and his dog, Nora. 

Gerrick Johnson is an analyst at BMO Capital Markets Equity Research covering the toy, video game, and leisure sectors. Before being promoted to an analyst role in 2006, Gerrick was an associate in the equity research department covering the toy industry and specialty retail companies from 20012006. Prior to joining BMO in 2001, he worked at Bankers Trust from 1994-2001 in the portfolio management division. Johnson holds an MBA in finance from New York University’s Stern School of Business and earned a Bachelor of Arts in economics from Wake Forest University.

38 The Toy Book | February 2023 |
“We could use a hot product to generate some buzz and excitement. ... I think the toy consumer is ready for a little more pizazz.”


The North American toy industry reacts to a changing timeline.

It’s officially official: Toy Fair is happening in September and the reality has set in. It was just over a year ago that The Toy Book exclusively revealed that The Toy Association pulled the trigger to reimagine the former North American International Toy Fair as a fall event. As part of our annual State of the Industry Q&A series, we asked some of the major voices in the business of play to weigh in on the sweeping change that is being felt throughout the pages of this issue and beyond. Here are some choice quotes from the pulse of play:


“Regardless of market gyrations and the ‘let’s shop early, let’s shop late’ push and pull, we view the Toy Fair move to fall as a big positive for us. We will debut our fall 2024 line behind closed doors at the show. We will promote our current on-shelf ranges out front and in the open, as holiday 2023 will be upon us at show time. We get a ‘two-fer’ here. From that point, we will still have Hong Kong in January and the spring previews in Los Angeles in April to continue to follow up with customers to close bookings. It’s a big plus not to be in New York City in February when things normalize in the market, as by that point it would be too late to make ‘go or no go’ decisions on new lines.”


“Holding Toy Fair [in New York] at the same time as [the unofficial] Toy Fair [in Los Angeles] doesn’t make business sense for us. Also, I don’t feel toy fairs in general serve the same purpose they did 10 or 20 years ago. As a result, we will not participate in Toy Fair [in New York] this year. A great example I think the toy industry should look to is the electronics industry. CES is five times bigger than any of the toy fairs and there is only one per year for the industry.”


“This move is fantastic for the entire industry as it now lines up with the retailer cycle for product selections. It also gives manufacturers the necessary feedback for making smart decisions on tooling and manufacturing.”


“I am not loving the change. There is now a large gap between seeing prototypes to final products. The timing of the show in February allowed us to get some analysis done from this past Christmas and firm up plans live at a show full of excitement and buzz. It creates a bit of a hole now in the traditional line review

schedule. As always, the industry will rally and make it all work to ensure we have the best toys to offer our customers come Christmas 2023. On the other hand, the September date should make the first pass at fall 2024 [products] simpler, but there is still a missing touchpoint as plans firm up.”


“Overall, the move does not really affect our business. We work with our vendor and retail partners throughout the year, so whether it is February or September will not make that much of a difference. We did enjoy having Toy Fair take place in February as it provided a great opportunity to check-in at the beginning of the year, but the move really won’t impact us. We are excited for Toy Fair to return later this year and to reunite and celebrate with the industry.”

40 The Toy Book | February 2023 | FLIP TO PAGE 42 TO EXPLORE OUR FULL 2023 Q&A SERIES!



It’s time to plan your booth for the Toy Fair of the future.

With more than 20 clients on the show floor and an award-winning installation in The Javits Center lobby, I’ll never forget Toy Fair 2020. For many, it was our last taste of a previously unquestioned way of large-scale, public life. The toy industry has shifted and the world of commerce has transformed around us since that last Toy Fair. And according to my recent conversations with toy industry leaders and clients, Toy Fair 2023 will be more about new opportunities than the way things were. With that in mind, here are some things to consider as you plan your booth space and refine your product assortment to fully benefit from the new opportunities and possibilities that exist at the reimagined Toy Fair.


Buyers may have already moved past holiday 2023, but the influencers who roam the show floor will be looking for the most visually appealing, interactive photo and video opportunities. Investing in giving them beautiful backdrops and engaging ways to showcase your current holiday consumer sales priorities could be a magic formula for kicking off your holiday influencer content strategy. This type of visual engagement is also an excellent way to satisfy The Toy Association’s new mandate to up the ante on at least 20% externally facing booth displays.


Fall 2023 is the perfect time to share your upcoming spring and summer releases with both buyers and media. Consider organizing your booth by release date so that you can give easy tours and demos. If you know that you’re going to need influencer heat on a new product in summer 2024, consider partnering with a content creator now to create a sizzle video to showcase in your booth. Your influencer agreement can stipulate that the content will post publicly months later when it comes time for the product to launch.


What little sneak peek might you be able to “show and tell” from your skunkworks? Buyers and media feel valued when you trust them to share what you’re passionately developing over time. And, sharing your outlook helps buyers and media think of you as a visionary. Steer clear of sharing anything with social media influencers that you aren’t ready to see on their channel immediately.


I’ve been counseling clients since long before 2020 about the vital need to pair their Toy Fair product presentations with meaningful brand expressions and attention-grabbing stunts. This helps ensure that attendees look forward to coming back

to your booth year after year and helps you stand out among everyone else. As competition and copycats continue to besiege our industry, brand differentiation may be one of the few remaining competitive edges. The Toy Association will even be giving out a Reimagination Award this year to recognize those going above and beyond to create the most inspiring booths.


We have an opportunity this year to help define the Toy Fair of the future. What you decide to do in your booth will play a role not just in your own show return on investment (ROI), but will also help inform what Toy Fair becomes in this next chapter of its long history. It may feel like we have all year to prepare, but Toy Fair is just seven months away. Time is of the essence, and now is the time to plan for the many new opportunities presented by Toy Fair 2023. 

Clark Nesselrodt is an

award-winning brand, business and communications strategist with more than two decades of experience developing and scaling transformative narratives and campaigns. His work in the toy industry includes integrated marketing strategy and execution for brands like Hasbro, Schleich, Learning Resources, Educational Insights, and more.


Industry leaders, retailers, manufacturers, and marketers weigh in on toy trends, opportunities, hot topics, predictions, and new business strategies in The Toy Book’s annual roundtable discussion.

VTech had some big wins in the past year, including the Level Up Gaming Chair. What new innovations can retailers and consumers expect to see in the months ahead?

We have a strong lineup this year. Storytelling and screen-free audio entertainment continue to be important foundations for kids as they begin their reading journey. For VTech, we’re introducing Storytime With Sunny, an engaging and interactive character that brings stories to life, offering unique and imaginative play with hours of audio content. LeapFrog has always been a resource for parents to support their child’s learning at home. Our educational offerings can be used as the innovative support kids need, whether they fell behind as a result of school disruption during the COVID-19 pandemic or they are trying to get a head start before stepping into a classroom setting. Literacy is fundamental to curricular learning, and toys like our LeapReader and LeapStart Interactive Learning System help kids learn important communication skills in a fun way to encourage a love of reading and writing.

How is the growing intersection of physical and digital play impacting the development of new products for the younger audiences that you serve?

As with all trends and innovations, it’s important to have a healthy balance. VTech has always engaged kids with physical play while recognizing the draw and benefits of digital play. As a leader in children’s electronics, our KidiTech lines introduce technology in age-appropriate ways that let kids experience digital play with smart, kid-friendly devices while providing the innovative features they’re looking for. We continue to look at evolving trends when we develop new products and look to incorporate them in meaningful ways that are just right for kids.

Over the past few years, Jazwares has expanded its product offerings into new categories. How important is diversification for the company’s portfolio?

We have diversified our portfolio with new product offerings in categories such as costumes and pets over the past few years. Bringing play and innovation into new areas and aisles remains a key strategy for Jazwares.

A strong lineup of licensed properties now inhabits the Jazwares stable, including Pokémon, Star Wars, and All Elite Wrestling (AEW) — all of which can be considered evergreen. What are some notable trends that you’re seeing in the licensed toy space?

Within the licensed toy space, we have seen the amazing success of licensed properties that have multigenerational appeal with fan-favorite brands, such as Pokémon, Star Wars, and AEW, but also with newer properties that embrace the always-on content strategy as we have seen with CoComelon.

There is no doubt that Squishmallows continues to be a behemoth at retail. How does Jazwares plan to continue growth and innovation for the brand?

Well, we aren’t going to spill all our secret sauce, but I can tell you to be on the lookout for a year filled with viral marketing moments, hot collaborations, and lifestyle products that are geared toward our growing number of loyal fans.

Access to hot products at a fair price has been a hot-button issue for independent retailers that lack the buying power of the big-box stores. How is Jazwares connecting with and supporting those stores?  Jazwares values our partnership with specialty retailers, and we will continue to find new ways to partner as we grow our business together. From new product launches to exclusive products, there are many ways to connect with this important retail channel.

What are your overall predictions for the state of the toy industry and toy retail this year?

We are cautiously optimistic that the toy industry will have a solid year.

42 The Toy Book | February 2023 |
For extended versions of our State of the Industry Q&A series, visit
Continue the Conversation

JAMIE ELLIOTT General Manager, Alex Baby and Toy

Last year, you quietly opened three stores on the East Coast. Tell us a little bit about Alex Baby and Toy. We are currently in start-up mode and evolving our concept. Our original stores are situated in mall locations and have a very robust assortment of toys, baby gear, and children’s books. In true specialty fashion, we differentiate ourselves by offering brands that may not be widely distributed in big box retailers, and extended assortments of the top toys in the industry. Given the heritage of the Alex brand, we have a large assortment of learning and exploration toys that will help children develop through play.

What are your plans to expand your retail footprint?

We are currently building our first standalone store at the Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, Illinois — outside of Chicago — with an expected opening before Easter. This store will be our latest concept that will feature large collectible and outdoor assortments (bicycles and seasonal sports). We are looking to build on the learnings from our initial stores by continuing to offer brands and assortments that are not widely available at big box retailers. Also, we are looking to offer excitement within the stores through store events and enhanced displays. Our broader plan is to continue opening stores this year with a goal of having a substantial footprint throughout the U.S. by the start of 2024.

How does the combined expertise of your team and its family ties — FYE, Everest Toys, Toys “R” Us (TRU) Canada, and Alex Global Products — work together to shape this new retail concept?

We are blessed to have a lot of talented individuals working throughout our organization. The Alex team leverages expertise across the business and maximizes synergies where possible. From a store point of view, our assortments are a combination of TRU Canada and FYE programs. Our primary focus is to put together assortments that allow kids to learn and explore through toys; however, our secondary priority is to provide collectible toys for adult customers. Our partnership with TRU and FYE allows us to have a leg-up when building our assortments.

Just a few years ago, many declared mall retail to be dead or dying, yet now it seems families are returning to malls. How does Alex Baby and Toy fit in?

We feel that customers are enjoying browsing stores and finding new products that they may not have been aware of by simply shopping online. We feel that malls will continue to serve an important role within the toy industry.

ANNE CARRIHILL Director of Toys and Games, Amazon

Last year, Amazon declared that it experienced its biggest holiday weekend ever during the “Turkey 5.” The top toys and games sold during that time frame were an intriguing mix of classic products from major manufacturers and items from small businesses. To what do you attribute that duality?

During the 2022 holiday season, customers purchased more items than ever before from Amazon’s selling partners — most of which are small- and medium-size businesses, in addition to well-known brands. Both have success with Amazon because we make it easy for customers to find great deals on the products they know and love, as well as discover fun new options to gift. Our virtual shelves offer an array of gifting inspiration with products from brands of all sizes, and included more than 600 toys and gifts in Amazon’s 2022 Holiday Kids Gift Book alone.

How has producing a physical gift guide complemented Amazon’s e-commerce business?

Holiday shoppers are always eager to know the latest toy trends and what gifts will be must-haves this year. Now a tradition in its own right, customers look forward to discovering the wide selection that Amazon’s Holiday Kids Gift Book showcases, making note of their must-have products ahead of the holiday season, and enjoying the included activities and games as a family; such as stickers, Fox and Bear masks, a campfire sing-along, a removable wish list, and this year’s heartwarming holiday short story, “The Biggest Bear Hug.” From toys to games to apparel to sports equipment and beyond, the Holiday Kids Gift Book shares the very best holiday gift ideas for anyone who loves to have fun and play. It’s a labor of love that takes months to put together ahead of the holiday season, with the team finding gift ideas that will appeal to babies, toddlers, bigger kids, and tweens — not to mention gifts for kids at heart. It makes shopping Amazon’s vast selection convenient and fun. New in 2022, the Holiday Kids Gift Book featured an adventure on Roblox and the digital version was also available in Spanish.

What are your overall predictions for the state of the toy industry and toy retail this year?

Exciting trends we see for 2023 include: a) products catered to “kidult” customers such as the LEGO Icons Flower Bouquet, the Wingspan board game, and licensed products from Star Wars, Marvel, Jurassic World, DC Comics, and more;

b) sensory toys propelled by trends on social media; and

c) Disney 100th anniversary items, notably the new Funko Pop! Icons: Disney 100 Walt Disney with Drawing.


SUE WARFIELD President, American Toy Specialty Retailing Association (ASTRA)

What is your take on the general performance of specialty toy retail in the U.S. last year?

The specialty toy retail performance among ASTRA members was a very pleasant surprise. Coming from a record year in 2021, many were concerned to be up against such a banner year. When the final numbers came in, some were actually higher, others were the same, and some were just a bit down. This is also amazing considering that across the U.S., the winter storms that created all the havoc with travel also happened during the busiest sales week and affected traffic in the stores.

What are the biggest challenges facing specialty retailers this year, and how is ASTRA addressing them?

There are two main challenges: staffing and finding new products. Finding and keeping staff has been and continues to be the biggest challenge going forward. ASTRA is working on a “Play is my Job” campaign to let people know that this industry is FUN! Getting paid to play? Not a bad gig. We’re also working to help retailers become creative in their flexibility with staff. Potential growth, meaningful work, fun … it’s more than pay that matters.

What are your overall predictions for the state of the toy industry and toy retail this year?

I’ve been in this industry for more than 40 years. Over those years we have seen our economy go through various stages of turmoil — inflation, unrest, natural disasters, the COVID-19 pandemic, and more. Toys and play are essential to all of us, regardless of what we are facing. Some of the challenges our society has faced over the past two years, in particular, have had us step back and examine how we live, play, and do business. The key need for in-person connections has only been heightened after we lived and worked in an age of forced isolation.

Toys, games, books, and plush not only connect us, but also soothe us. They will keep us strong for many years to come. Retail stores, especially those that are independently owned and can pivot immediately, have done an amazing job in connecting with their communities and will continue to do so. We work and live through technology and end up craving the “real” experience that involves people. Toy stores that provide individual attention, where there is an owner that knows you and your family, are a cornerstone of our specialty industry. With this continuing, along with the relationships we build and nurture, our industry can only get stronger in 2023 and beyond.

How is the “newstalgia” trend powering Basic Fun!’s business in 2023?

We continue to introduce new retro items and move some of our retro re-introductions to “newstalgic,” as we’ve done in particular with Lite-Brite. The idea is to keep the “feel good” nostalgia for the toys with adults, but make sure the toy is fresh for today’s kids. Bottom line is kids really don’t care about nostalgia or anniversaries; they care about and ask for fun toys. We might introduce a nostalgic item with a retro package, but more quickly than ever transition to a contemporary new package design and updated features. We’ll do the same as we bring Littlest Pet Shop back to the market in 2024.

Licensing is an important part of your product mix, but this year it’s evolving. What type of creative collaborations and crossovers can the industry expect to see from Basic Fun! this year?

We’ve leveled up our game when it comes to partnering with brands and influencers that not only tap into topical relevance, but also surprise and delight in unexpected aisles. From marrying iconic brands like Lite-Brite and View Master with Disney 100 to internal brand synergies like Tonka and Lincoln Logs to partnering with top digital creators/influencers like Megan Plays, we’re appealing to both kidults and today’s kids. To that end, you’ll also see unique ways we cross over brands into the toy aisles, like offerings with the No. 1 food and beverage brand, Coca-Cola, as well as innovation with the No. 1 art brand, Crayola. Then, in 2024, you’ll see us re-ignite one of the most successful collectible brands, Littlest Pet Shop, across the world.

Access to hot products at a fair price has been a hot-button issue for independent retailers that lack the buying power of the big-box stores. How is Basic Fun! connecting with and supporting those stores?

The key for specialty retailers is to work even harder to be “special.” Find items that are not easily found in mass or on Amazon. Make your locations attractive and engaging, and work with vendors to create new items in hot ranges that can help them differentiate from mass. We are looking to do more of that, not only for specialty, but for our largest accounts, too. For example, you might see four versions of the same range of Care Bears or Littlest Pet Shop — one for Walmart, one for Target, one for Amazon, and one for our other accounts — giving each a range of similar, but different enough, items for which each can say “only available here.” That will reduce some of the pricing issues we see with the price transparency that the internet provides.

44 The Toy Book | February 2023 | STATE OF THE INDUSTRY

What will be some of the top marketing strategies in 2023?

We believe that the most significant determinant of brand success in 2023 will be media mix effectiveness across paid, earned, and owned channels, meaning brands must pay close attention to the media consumption and influence habits of target audiences, and skillfully layer marketing activities to achieve complete awareness, engagement, and conversion.

As they say, “social is the new search,” and TikTok will continue to become a tentpole, even while facing increased scrutiny around regulatory issues. Influencers continue to lead the way for brands with well-targeted and create relevant content that gets meaningful engagement and moves the needle. Social commerce and affiliate marketing are keenly on our radar for this year.

With more inventory available following periods of pandemic and supply chain issues, we also look forward to getting back to more product demos and sampling at a grassroots level. We can now get more products in kids’ hands, which has always been key to creating trends and building buzz around products.

How has the influencer space changed in the past year, and of what should toymakers be aware?

The influencer space is exciting, dynamic, and continuing its rapid pace of convergence at the center of all things media and marketing. It is public relations, it is social, it is creative, it is driving paid media, and as we move into this year, it is evolving as a tool for social commerce as more influencers graduate into affiliate marketing. We’ve seen the top influencers re-identify as content creators and lead the rise of the creator economy, and audiences start to shy away from anything that appears too overtly branded. We’ve even seen boomers move into the influencer space and start to gain meaningful traction with grandparent audiences that are now more comfortable in the social space.

Micro-influencers currently demonstrate significant power in achieving high engagement, proving that reach alone does not always equal impact or influence when measuring effectiveness or return on investment. YouTube still leads in kid engagement, but TikTok follows close behind and has evolved an ecosystem and approach that is now more differentiated from other platforms like Instagram.

Influencers are helping brands position themselves creatively in fresh and relevant ways to target audiences on different platforms. As we move into 2023, brands must trust and rely on that direction to stay current. A well-crafted strategy works.

DAVID HENDERSON Chief Commercial Officer

Melissa & Doug

Melissa & Doug has been a leader in the movement toward a sustainable future. How will those efforts continue this year?

Sustainability is at the heart of what we do here at Melissa & Doug. After all, our first hit toy was a wooden puzzle and, ever since, we have been focused on making wellcrafted toys that get passed down from generation to generation and stay out of landfills.

As the No. 1 preschool brand for wooden and sustainable toys, we believe in responsible forest management. That’s why we have committed to planting 10 million trees by 2030 and are partnering with One Tree Planted to help us reach that goal. We also accelerated our commitments to using Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified materials and were recently the only global toy manufacturer named a 2022 FSC Leadership Award Winner. We’re currently rolling out How2Recycle labeling on our packaging and are working toward our goal for 95% of our product packaging to be curbside recyclable by the end of 2025. We continue to proudly be 100% carbon neutral in our own operations, with our purchases of carbon offsets going toward forest management projects.

We don’t simply make long-range promises, however. Our goal is to embed sustainability into our processes wherever possible, including product development, manufacturing, supply chain, distribution, office initiatives, and more. Starting with a sustainability mindset affects the way we think about every piece of the business. It’s something we all need to be striving for as an industry. We look forward to making continuous sustainability improvements throughout 2023 and beyond.

How is innovation fueling new product development at Melissa & Doug?

Our goal is for innovation to always complement our successful core business to drive growth for years to come. Our brand, design, and development teams continue to partner with inventor communities around the world to combine great ideas with our own pipeline of original, fresh, open-ended play concepts. You will see tremendous innovation in our core categories in 2023 and beyond and fabulous, groundbreaking initiatives in both our core areas and exciting new spaces. We are fortunate that our core items such as our Scoop & Serve Ice Cream Counter, Water Wow On the Go line, and Dust! Sweep! Mop! best-sellers continue to resonate with every generation. Newness wins, but a productive core is what sustains long-term growth for our retailers and our brand.




CAMP opened its ninth location last year. What are the plans for expansion in the year ahead?

To further our national expansion plans, we will open three new stores in the first half of the year in major U.S. metropolitan areas. These new stores will be signature stores with The Magic Door (upwards of 10,000 square feet) and will be anchored with an immersive show.

Experiences came to CAMP on a new level last year. How will CAMP build upon that success this year?

More than ever, families were looking for things to enjoy together, and we were there to offer these experiences from Encanto CAMP to Nike Kids CAMP. As part of our rotating model, these standout shows will soon move to other CAMP stores for more families to enjoy, and new ones will launch in stores this year, too.

What are some of the big wins for CAMP on the product front? Have any categories or products been performing exceptionally well?

STEAM toys are trending! We are seeing our customers choosing toys with which they can build, explore, and express themselves. CAMP was the only brick-and-mortar retailer where customers could touch and feel a Toybox, a 3D printer that makes toys in less than an hour. We also have seen success with CAMP spins on classics, such as exclusive launches with Magna-Tiles and Loog guitars.

What are some key considerations for CAMP when it comes to bringing in new products?

We love the idea of bringing products to our customers that allow for a sense of discovery, not the same products that you find on the shelves of your local mass market retailer. Our newness really reflects that, especially in the new launch of our private label collection featuring a line of wood toys.

On Dec. 10, CAMP’s Founder and CEO Ben Kaufman tweeted that CAMP had its biggest day ever. How did the overall holiday season play out?

We had a fabulous holiday season, and were chasing inventory right up until the very end. The biggest challenge was with products that were also sold in mass outlets — it was clear these outlets were overstocked and they were slashing prices right and left, which for a smaller player like us, was difficult to keep pace with. However, our differentiated assortment more than offset these challenges and we are happy with how the season played out!

What will be some of the top marketing strategies to watch in 2023?

The toy industry is no stranger to influencer marketing, and while things really picked up steam in 2022, this year will be no different as the creator space continues to grow every single day with new personalities, faces, and voices to know. These trends are fueled by social platforms rolling out new features that further support branded partnerships and results-driven campaigns, making the consumer experience more enjoyable, and at the same time, more cost effective for companies.

In 2023, we will see brands experimenting even more with their branded strategies in the form of partnering with various creators outside their usual realm, or using cross-platform approaches (also known as omnichannel) to showcase their products in the most authentic way possible. People know they are being marketed to — it’s now about creating and identifying the most impactful content for brands to use that truly resonates with audiences.

At the same time — and I mentioned this last year — experiential is coming back. The value of a consumer touching, feeling, and experiencing a product in person is significantly more meaningful and valuable than a commercial on TV, a banner ad on the computer/laptop/mobile, or even a video on Instagram or TikTok.

Additionally, I expect to see affiliate marketing continue to grow and evolve the way we do media relations. As more publishers seek the commission kickback from affiliate links, we’re likely to see more of a merging among the e-commerce/sales and editorial teams within different media outlets, which will continue to impact the way publicists interact with reporters, who from the outlet they interact with, and how we structure our pitches.

What are your overall predictions for the state of the toy industry and its trends this year?

2022 was the year of “TikTok made me buy it,” and Educational Insights’ Kanoodle game went viral and became a huge seller. It taught us that products do not always need to be new to be exciting, they just need to be positioned in such a way that is uniquely different from anything else on the market. While TikTok will continue to grow exponentially in the next few months in terms of creator accounts and how we get to interact on the app, we are predicting viral toy trends popping up where adults get to join in on the fun, too! Kanoodle leads the “Eldertainment” trend with its brain-boosting puzzles. We also expect to see a rise in technology toys involving artificial intelligence.

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Acquisitions and licensing partnerships have fueled a lot of growth for PlayMonster in recent years. How will that continue in 2023?

We do have a lot of licenses and partnerships continuing in 2023. We’re very excited to partner with Hasbro to relaunch Weebles. The classic and beloved toddler toy line brings nostalgia to parents and the innovative and updated characters and sets will really engage young children. Another popular license, Disney, will continue with 2023’s Disney 100th anniversary celebration. We’ll have that in a number of brands and products, including an updated Disney 100 look for our Disney Trivia game that was sold out toward the end of last year. We have many other licenses spread throughout our portfolio, such as Bluey in our timetested Spirograph and Colorforms brands.

Sustainability and environmental awareness have become increasingly important to both the toy business and to consumers. How is PlayMonster incorporating sustainability into its product lines?

Sustainability begins with design. We’re making it a priority to keep sustainability in mind as we look at concepts and develop new products, making sure existing plastics are recycled into products. We also look at packaging and strive to avoid using non-biodegradable plastics, minimize packaging materials to minimize waste, and ensure packaging is easily recyclable.

How is PlayMonster innovating in the gaming space?

Innovation in games comes in many forms, and we’re exploring all of those this year. For example, we’re launching new party games — 5 Second Rule Relay; Okay, Genius; and Rock Band, Race Horse to name a few — that feel familiar in their play, but have twists to add excitement. In kids’ games, we’re looking at hilarious combinations — Pigs on Trampoline is one that we’re very excited to launch.

What are your predictions for the state of the toy industry for the months ahead?

We believe that 2023 will bring a return of some normalcy to the toy industry. Families will always be looking for fun away from the screen. Even if the economy faces some headwinds, toys and games are such great value. Beyond toys and games, crafting and creative expression never go out of style, and social media does more every day to allow makers to share their creations. Our Ann Williams lines like Loopdedoo and Craft-tastic fit in here perfectly and are fun activities for a wide range of ages.

STEPHANE MADI CEO, Ravensburger North America

You’ve taken the helm as CEO this year — what’s the first order of business as you look to put your stamp on the Ravensburger legacy?

Ravensburger’s legacy has been driven by our vision, people, and products. We’re excited by the 2023 lineup that we’re rolling out across all of our brands, including a major new category launch in August.

The social/economic forces over the past few years have impacted our industry, so as I begin my new role, my first priority is to re-establish normalcy and efficiency across all functions of our company in North America. Our customers, partners, communities, and team members expect us to execute flawlessly and that’s what we intend to do.

Following a few years of explosive sales growth, games and puzzles have been returning to normal levels. How is Ravensburger keeping the category fresh for retailers and consumers?

Ravensburger games and puzzle fans are true enthusiasts. They are our North Star. While demand for these categories did skyrocket during the early part of the pandemic, we’ve always looked and planned long term. Our fans know and follow us because of our quality, immersive innovations, and attention to detail. Ravensburger brand awareness, positive experience/reviews, and interaction with fan communities have grown significantly, and our commitment to innovation is well reflected in our 2023 lineup.

Ravensburger is entering the world of customizable trading card games (TCG) with Disney Lorcana. Why is that space so important?

Ravensburger is known for bringing great stories to life with top-quality craftsmanship. We are always looking for new, creative, and impactful ways to give people ways to explore, connect, and play. We have wanted to bring a unique experience to the global TCG space for a while, but recognized that it is not an endeavor to take lightly. It was critical that we had the right story, a unique perspective, a strong partner, and a passionate and experienced team in place that creates a game that stands the test of time.

What opportunities exist for retailers looking to grow their business with games and puzzles?

The biggest opportunity is always in learning about the products and following the fans, kids, and parents. A well and actively managed game and puzzle offering demands more from retailers, but they offer great returns for the investment, especially for independent retailers.

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What will be some of the top marketing strategies in 2023?

Marketing strategies will need to be based on three fundamental principles for brands to be successful.

1. Understanding consumer behavior and trends and knowing how to integrate them into marketing plans;

2. Integrating marketing plans better than ever into sales strategies and goals by building campaigns to support and reach the consumer in-store, online, and on direct channels; and 3. Rise above the “me too” clutter and use the “white space” to reach your consumer.

We love strategies and execution that are tied to goals, growing brands, and moving product. This can only be achieved by tight integration between marketing, sales, and consumer insights. The importance of the three working together will ensure that marketing strategies are not only aligned with goals, but also that they are affordable and executable. More important than the “big idea” is the right idea.

How has the influencer marketing space changed and what should toymakers be aware of?

My general feeling is that toymakers still do not have a full comprehension of the influencer marketing space and how to best leverage its potential and use it to reach the consumer. Knowing the landscape and how to approach TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, and the many other social platforms depends on your target consumer and then balancing the program based on their consumption behaviors.

In what ways can toymakers best prepare for unexpected challenges in 2023?

Expect the unexpected! Manage budgets with flexibility. Invest in understanding the consumer and marketing messages that fill a void in the marketplace. Manage inventory and plan conservatively, but be ready to strike when the opportunity presents itself. Build an infrastructure to take advantage of direct-to-consumer (D2C) opportunities through digital strategies. Have the right experienced partners by your side as the toy industry enters a post-pandemic era of economic uncertainty.

What are your overall predictions for the state of the toy industry and its trends this year?

I predict we will see considerable consolidation of small and medium-size toymakers. Diamonds in the rough have always satiated companies looking for opportunities for rapid growth. Play patterns with perpetual and basic appeal will thrive. I also think collectibles and plush will continue to grow, providing consumers with comfort.

Head of Global Brands & Consumer Innovation, Hasbro

How is Hasbro’s Blueprint 2.0 reshaping the concept of what the company can be across toys and consumer products?

Blueprint 2.0 is our strategy for bringing brands to life in innovative and exciting ways for our consumers. It’s an approach that focuses on fewer bigger brands, expanded licensing, branded entertainment, and an impressive array of consumer products spanning a broad range of diverse categories. 2023 will see our Blueprint 2.0 in full force given the synergy with the highly anticipated upcoming premieres of the films Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves and the Transformers: Rise of the Beasts. The Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) film will kick-off a focus on that brand with a new toy line. With Transformers, fans will be able to connect once again with the iconic “More Than Meets the Eye” robots through new products. Those are examples of how we’re activating our strategy to engage our fans in those beloved brands and deliver for them across many touchpoints.

What are some of the biggest brands that Hasbro is focusing on this year, and what should retailers be excited about?

Given the big blockbuster movie releases, D&D and Transformers will be hot brands in 2023, but we also have exciting things in store for our other priority brands from NERF to Hasbro Gaming. In January, we shared that the iconic mystery-solving board game Clue received a refresh with rich new takes on the original murder mystery storyline, an intriguing diverse cast, highly stylized game pieces, and the glamorous Tudor Mansion. Available in stores now, this new version of Clue kicks off a revitalization moment for the brand with more mysterious complexities coming in 2023 and beyond. Fans will want to stay close as the Clue stories will continue to expand even further through new games and virtual experiences.

Adult collectors, whom Hasbro has catered to for years, went mainstream last year. How does Hasbro plan to keep fueling interest for the kidult crowd?

As we’ve seen, the kidult consumer base is growing and growing. They are stimulating a fan economy that is one of the fastest-growing toy categories overall, and it is a significant growth area for Hasbro. To drive this, we are continuing to invest heavily in Hasbro Pulse, our Hasbro direct-to-consumer (D2C) platform, as well as collectibles like action figures and sports memorabilia, and trading card games like Magic: The Gathering. We are focused on our fans more than ever!



FAO Schwarz was back in the mainstream in a big way last year. How did the expanded Target partnership perform last year and how will it grow in 2023?

2022 was a historical year for FAO, as we celebrated our 160th anniversary with a birthday celebration takeover of Rockefeller Plaza, and the City of New York declaring Oct. 8 officially as FAO Schwarz Day. We saw great success in our New York City Rockefeller Plaza Flagship location throughout the year, seeing customers from across the world returning to New York and making sure their trip included a visit to our iconic store. Sales and average transaction values were all above pre-COVID levels, with our guests thoroughly engaging in our demonstrations, experiences, and the best specialty toy brands from all over the world. Additionally, our Target partnership was very successful across multiple categories, and I am happy to say that we will be expanding in 2023 and beyond. We are thrilled to bring FAO Schwarz to the biggest audience in the history of the company by way of our presence at Target stores nationally.

What were some of the big wins for FAO last year — are there any specific products or categories that performed particularly well?

We focused on bringing unique design languages to our key categories. Plush continued to be strong, with great success in our Adopt A Pets and Glow Brights collections. Our FAO-abulous fashion role-play and activities collection continued to grow in popularity with makeup cases, a fully stocked vanity, and trendsetting role-play handbags being among the top-sellers. Creativity was another key category, taking classics like a potter’s wheel and updating it with a contemporary, yet classic design approach, and our wood and preschool items also gained momentum.

What are your overall predictions for the state of the toy industry and toy retail this year?

There are numerous challenges facing all businesses today, and we all have learned over the last several years that change can happen overnight. Fortunately, in these uncertain times, brands like FAO Schwarz that have such a great history and continue to bring magic to our customers and to create memories across generations become even more relevant. That being said, we will continue to focus on creating products that celebrate classic play patterns, innovative designs, and great quality. The legacy of our founders to bring experiences and theater to all of our channels of distribution is as important as ever.

As media consumption habits change, how can toymakers best reach their target audience?

The kids media landscape is going through the largest disruption in media usage and media inventory we have ever seen. Kid-targeted linear TV ratings and household penetration have fallen to levels that no longer make it the first choice for advertising campaigns. Kids regularly utilize at least three devices to access their favorite content and games. There are a wide variety of digital opportunities available for advertising — new ones every day — and how we invest in this space matters now more than ever. Media plans that reach kids and their families must replace the lost reach and presence of linear TV.

There are several important questions to answer: What is the role of linear TV? What is the role of digital? What is the right mix of media? What digital and linear partners will help me maximize my media spend? Who should I avoid? What tactics work? What tactics should I steer away from?

The magic is in the media mix. Where you deploy your brand messaging matters. The more media types, the better because of reach and efficiency considerations, and also because of the probability that receiving a message from diverse sources leads to better message retention.

But you can’t invest in everything or stretch your media dollars too thin. Are your current plans reaching kids and parents in the right places? Are you maximizing reach and impression shares against your most valuable audiences in a given channel? Is frequency at least in the ballpark you would expect it to be in, or are you hammering incessantly — and needlessly — at a frequency of 30? You don’t want to drive excessive frequency in exchange for lost reach. There must be a smart balance between reach and frequency. Media is math.

Media planning has become complex. It’s less about the buy and more about the plan that drives it. Digital media placements differ vastly in their quality and potential impact. The landscape has changed and we have built tools and assembled a go-to-market strategy to navigate this new and ever-changing landscape. It’s not enough to just add more budget to YouTube. Dollars you invest here are dollars pulled from there. The risk of not getting it right is too high to invest loosely across platforms. An effective media mix must deliver on reach and quantify the available reach from all options, which is a philosophy we have adhered to.

In today’s fast-moving consumer retail markets, you don’t often get a second chance to get it right. Your media mix matters. Plan your buy — and buy your plan.

50 The Toy Book | February 2023 |

After years of disruption, how is the freight industry looking as we head into the rest of 2023?

On the positive side, freight prices are definitely dropping and congestion at the West Coast ports is slowly starting to clear. However, strikes, protests, and work stoppages along the worldwide supply chain is of concern this year. For U.S. imports, we expect to see better transit times.

Last year, GPI launched a program aimed at helping new, diverse manufacturers fill mass-market purchase orders. How will that effort continue this year?

We’ve been getting great feedback with our BIPOCand women-owned inventory financing program. For the coming year, it’s all about communicating the program’s existence wherever we can. Our aim is to focus on industry events and with key influencers that we feel can help us spread the word about this program.

What are the biggest challenges facing toy and game manufacturers in sourcing for their products this year?

Without a doubt, inventory management and China’s response to COVID-19 are two very big challenges when looking forward. Tighter inventory management is having impacts throughout the supply chain. Purchasing decisions are being made much later in the sourcing cycle, putting great pressure on product development decisions, manufacturing lead times, and advance planning with logistics. And China’s ongoing response to COVID weighs heavily on factory schedules, raw materials availability, and delivery of goods to ports. The whole system is stressed in China. We’re seeing a heightened interest in establishing manufacturing capacity in other countries where COVID is much less of a factor. For this reason, GPI has recently established manufacturing capacity in Vietnam.

What attention-worthy trends are developing in the game space?

Our focus is in the games category, and sustainability is a rapidly growing factor in our manufacturing. We’re focusing on working with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified materials, elimination of single use packaging when possible, and sourcing alternative materials. We’re also seeing a trend toward more efficient packaging design, eliminating wasted space and materials in packaging. This helps greatly with cost efficiencies in manufacturing and shipping. It also provides retailers with a higher return on investment of shelf space.

BELINDA GRUEBNER Chief Marketing Officer, Moose Toys

This year marks the third year for the Magic Mixies brand — one that solidified a place in pop culture history thanks to a mention on Saturday Night Live (SNL) How is Moose keeping the momentum going?

We have a real winner here. Magic Mixies delivers what every kid (big and small) wishes for: the power to make magical moments and the unexpected element of surprise. This innovative play pattern has led the brand to become a true cultural phenomenon in 2021, we received a shout out from The Tonight Show and in 2022, from SNL! We’re also seeing the cultural impact, resulting from our strong marketing and retail strategies, translate to sales with Magic Mixies Magical Crystal Ball topping the list of all toys as the No. 1 best-selling toy the week of Christmas, as consumers were clamoring for Mixies.

Our momentum is always driven by innovation that leaves people speechless. The key is to always raise the bar, ensuring we don’t rest on what has been done. We want to leapfrog ourselves and continuously push play to the next level by creating new experiences, expanding into more categories, and empowering kids of all ages.

How does the expansion of Moose Games play into the company’s long-term plans for growth?

We’re scaling our gaming division and having a blast combining experts from the gaming world with our award-winning global innovation team, as we build our presence and make a name for ourselves in yet another category. The Moose Games division is an area we are all anticipating exceptional growth and results from, and we look forward to sharing more in the year ahead.

What are some key innovations that retailers can look forward to from Moose this year?

We are all so excited about our fall ‘23 line. Previews with our customers globally have solidified our belief that we have successfully pushed our intent to lead with innovation to a whole new level. We have continued to weave in elements of genuine surprise. Following the success of Mama Surprise from Little Live Pets, this year the brand is offering My Puppy’s Home kids will build their puppy its dream home, close the door, and wait for it to magically appear. Plus, we have a new plush innovation with the brand launch of Cookeez, a baking experience that turns your dough creation into a warm, scented, soft plush friend. There aren’t a lot of surprises in our industry anymore, and keeping our biggest bets behind closed doors has been an important part of our strategy that has worked really well for us.

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What will be some of the top marketing strategies in 2023?

I think PR initiatives and branding work will be more important in 2023. More focus on brand building, more focus on community building, more focus on creating quality content and utility for customers and getting feedback from them.

Millennial parents are still the most influential segment in the market. They’re savvy and well researched, and will stay loyal to brands they believe to be authentic and aligned with their own values. Toy companies need to be thinking about what they stand for and how to communicate that in a way that resonates with customers — and less about pushing product ads and looking for immediate return on investment (ROI). I think smart marketers will put brand marketing efforts first, followed by product advertising.

How has marketing for toys and games evolved over the past year?

Ad platforms like Meta and Apple, through privacy policies, have made it much harder for brands to use audience targeting tools that have been effective at driving sales and ROI in the past. Most brands have seen huge drop-offs in social ad performance as a result. That’s made content creation a much more important piece of the puzzle, since the content has to do much of the heavy lifting. Now brands need to create differentiated content for their various customer types.

We are also starting to see new distribution trends with more and more toy products being sold at brick and mortar grocery and pharmacy chains like Whole Foods and CVS. It remains to be seen what kind of advertising opportunity that creates for brands, but it is something we’re keeping an eye on.

How has the influencer marketing space changed and of what should toymakers be aware?

Influencer marketing still appears to be the top-performing type of ad content, but the art of user-generated content (UGC) has definitely matured. Now, brands should have higher expectations for the quality of their UGC. It’s not enough anymore to simply secure video of a customer reviewing your product; the person featured speaking about their experience with a product really matters more than ever — in terms of what they’re saying and how. I think we’re seeing more professional, polished creators entering the space and being successful. It’s important for brands and agencies to be more selective in their content partners.

What are your overall predictions for the state of the toy industry and toy retail this year?

It’s been a really interesting time for the toy industry overall, and seasoned companies like TCG Toys are not immune to the craziness. I’d call it a nail biter to see what will happen over the next 9-12 months, watching the roller coaster happening at retail and throughout the global economy. There’s a tremendous glut of inventory still at retail and equally so excess inventory, which is being liquidated in warehouses of all major companies, that needs to get absorbed before things normalize.

From a development standpoint, we will take a cautiously optimistic and somewhat conservative approach, however, we believe in our product lines and strategy, and we understand that retailers and consumers want newness and innovation. We’re not just going to sit back and ride out the wave. We are in this game and will continue to innovate against our core categories and with an incredible roster of beloved, popular licenses. We’ll leverage their notoriety and offer price points we think will be appealing to families and adult collectors feeling the crunch. Especially with the economy being where it is, people will continue to buy toys for their kids, but they’re likely going to spend $20 instead of $50 for a gift or $5 instead of $20 for an impulse buy. That’s where we’ll focus.

TCG Toy’s product assortment has expanded over the years to include toys, puzzles, and games. How have licensing partnerships with other toy companies and IP holders helped to grow the business at TCG?

Licensing has been a game changer for us. The bulk of our portfolio and assortments have stayed true to our core competencies in games, puzzles, and other evergreen playthings for both kids and adults, and at the same time, TCG Toys has also evolved over the years into some new categories, like Puppet Pals and Bend-Ems, all of which have benefited from licensing. We’ve had a sizable expansion in wooden toys, like puzzles based on licenses like Little Tikes, Blue’s Clues & You!, Peppa Pig, Thomas, Barbie, Little People, and CoComelon.

Licensing provides multiple benefits for TCG Toys. We’re investing in aligning with top brands. While it’s not a guaranteed home run, it’s definitely an insurance policy — if we choose correctly — that there will be some built-in acceptance from retailers and demand from consumers. Our strategy will be to balance evergreen licenses with a few that are new, being careful not to overwhelm our assortments, retailers, and consumers with too many of them. There’s only so much shelf space!



Last year, you visited the U.S. to share data and experiences between Toymaster and Learning Express. What were the biggest differences you identified between specialty toy retailers in the U.S. and the UK?

In the past, the U.S. always went to market first with most product launches. This isn’t actually the case anymore and we are, with the odd exception, seeing trends and launches pretty much at the same time. The UK is much smaller than the U.S., which often means ranges are smaller and sometimes products are not always available.

This had me looking at U.S. toy retail with rose-tinted glasses, thinking it would be easier with more products, more suppliers, and potentially earlier launches. I was quick to discover that getting access to large companies in the UK like Hasbro, Mattel, Spin Master, and Jazwares is much easier than in the U.S. We have direct accounts with all leading toy suppliers and this seems to be something that we take for granted as American indies struggle and often don’t have a direct supply from the big guys making it hard to compete with the big-box stores.

Last month, following the success of Midco Toy Planet, you opened a third store: Freak Treat. How does this concept differ from your other stores?

Freak Treat is not your average, everyday, independent toy store. This is very much aimed at tweens to adults. After seeing success in more grown-up, non-kid-related products and licenses, we decided to expand more into them. We want this store to be very much the anti-kids independent toy store. We have a massive focus on horror, anime and manga, Funko, collectibles, and Loungefly products. We’ve thrown in some heavy metal music pumping loud in our store and we’re stocking some music and band-related merchandise.

How important is the kidult market in the UK?

When doing 2023 previews with some of the major toy manufacturers, I was amazed at what percentage of their business is being pitched for kidult. Back in 1995, when Hasbro relaunched Kenner’s Star Wars brand with Power of the Force 2, people were collecting, but back then it was almost frowned upon as being weird and it was never acknowledged as an actual market. But in 2023, it’s normal for adults to collect toys and the manufacturers are getting on board with it. It does worry me that companies will flood the market with products and make them too accessible. People like the thrill of the chase and the joy of the hunt.

Classic play patterns and evergreen brands continue to do big business. How will Just Play’s recent addition of Hasbro’s Easy Bake brand to its portfolio benefit retailers?

Our focus at Just Play has always been to focus on great play patterns and deliver toys that enable play at a great value. With the addition of Easy Bake to our portfolio, we have the enviable opportunity to build upon one of today’s kids’ favorite play patterns food play with an already established brand. We’re going to deliver more of the sometimes messy baking fun that parents and grandparents expect from the brand with quite a few unexpected twists.

We’ve all been spending a lot of time together as families over the past few years and the family unit is tighter than ever as a result. From board games to movies and toys, we, as parents, have had more opportunities than ever to introduce our kids to brands from our childhoods.

Evergreen brands that span across generations allow for unique shared experiences. Our Disney Doorables brand is one in which everyone can find their favorite characters and conjure up memories of their favorite movies from their childhood or last week! The brand brings those 100 years of content together under one roof (pun intended). We just launched Series 9, which covers everything from classics like Mickey and Minnie to Pixar hits like Toy Story, Cars, and Turning Red. We also launched a fun new way to collect across the portfolio of Disney characters in an even smaller and squishier format called Doorables Squish’Alots.

As a leader in the preschool category, what does the new partnership with Sesame Workshop’s Sesame Street mean to Just Play?

We love the preschool space because play serves such an important role during this stage of a child’s life. We have an incredible portfolio of preschool brands that inspire imagination, enable world-building, celebrate diversity, support early education, and more. Sesame Street is a brand that has not just existed for 50 years, but has impacted generations of families and children. We have a tremendous amount of respect for what Sesame Workshop has accomplished over their 50-year history and share their passion for helping kids grow smarter, stronger, and kinder. We are honored to be a part of the future of Sesame as their master toy partner. It is a brand with a tremendous amount of heart and also a lot of humor. Our toys will deliver lots of giggles and ways to interact with all of the favorite characters from the Sesame Street neighborhood. We’re excited and can’t wait to see kids everywhere playing with our new Sesame Street toys.

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From a storytelling angle, Pokémon is at a turning point. How will this impact be felt in the toy department moving forward?

The past year has been an exciting time for Pokémon in the toy industry. It has been the No. 1-selling brand for all of 2022 in the U.S. led by The Pokémon Co. International’s (TPCi) Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG) and innovative licensed products from our fantastic partners, including master toy licensee, Jazwares, Mattel’s MEGA construction brand, and more.

After 25 seasons of epic battles, adventure, and friendship, the time has come for Ash Ketchum to achieve his dream of becoming a Pokémon World Champion, and for us to explore what the next great chapter in Pokémon animation will look like. Kids and fans can enter and experience the brand in many ways, from video games and mobile apps to the Pokémon TCG and more. All of these, plus a regular slate of new scripted content and the new series, will continue to translate into success for the brand in toys.

Last year, The Pokémon Co. acquired Millennium Print Group. How is that beneficial to the industry?

Millennium Print Group (MPG) has been a longtime partner of TPCi, manufacturing the Pokémon TCG for many years and delivering the highest quality product our fans expect. With the popularity of the TCG exploding in recent years, this strategic acquisition and investment enhances our ability to meet the growing fan demand and better support official retail partners by producing more of the newest expansions, thereby getting them directly into the hands of fans without sacrificing quality. By acquiring MPG and making it an official but still autonomous subsidiary of TPCi, both companies are now better positioned to further develop MPG’s capabilities, infrastructure, and scale to become a premier printer of trading cards, not just for Pokémon, but for the broader industry as well.

Access to hot products at a fair price has been a hot-button issue for independent retailers. How is The Pokémon Co. supporting those stores?

TPCi has long-standing relationships with independent hobby shops, who support not only the Pokémon TCG, but also local communities. To support them, we create special programs and products catered to excite and engage their players regardless of where they are at in their TCG journey. This includes exclusive items like prize packs, which can only be found at retailers that host Play! Pokémon events.

HEATHER EDWARDS Owner, Snickelfritz Toys

What were some of the top toys and games at your store last year?

Some of our best-sellers in 2022 included companies like Bruder, Douglas Cuddle Toy, Fat Brain Toys, Epoch Everlasting Play, and Smart Toys and Games. We saw a surge in Bruder Trucks of all kinds and sizes. Douglas Cuddle Toy dominated our plush section with its line of Softies. Fat Brain’s Spin Again and InnyBin were once again in our top 20 items in the store. Smart Toys and Games’ line of Smart Max continues to be strong, especially the My First Vehicles and Start set.

What is the biggest challenge facing specialty toy stores today, and how are you dealing with it?

I believe the biggest challenge facing specialty toy stores is the competition with the manufacturer’s online pricing. When we are getting an item for $20, wanting to sell it at keystone, but then having the vendor sell it on their website for $24.99, there isn’t a way to compete with that. As a specialty store, we understand how to compete with Amazon by offering the very best service, free wrapping, community events, etc., but to have to compete with the company you are buying the goods from is not something we are used to. I personally will be looking at those companies and deciding if that partnership will continue in 2023. I did drop some of the companies that were doing it in 2021.

What are some key considerations for Snickelfritz when it comes to adding new products to your mix?

When deciding on new products for Snickelfritz, there are a combination of things I look for. Does the item have play value? Is it quality or is it going to break 10 minutes after it gets unboxed? The most important thing I use is my gut feeling. I throw in a little silly and think about it from the child’s perspective. Would I want to play with it? Is it different and fun? If it’s a stuffed animal, I have to hug it and make sure it is soft and squishy. Of course, I don’t shy away from a good fad either. Pop-its and anything fidget were so strong ... I can’t wait to see what the new fun will be.

What are your overall predictions for the state of the toy industry and toy retail this year?

Our customers are excited to be able to come into a real toy store. We are still seeing a strong push to support local in our area. Retail can continue to be strong if the work is being done. Our customers will shop online if they aren’t getting the service, knowledge, and joy that they are used to with us. The personal connections are still the driving force in our industry for sure.

56 The Toy Book | February 2023 | STATE OF THE INDUSTRY

CHRISTIAN ULRICH Spokesperson of the Executive Board Spielwarenmesse eG

Following the pandemic and the welcome return to in-person trade shows, how important is the hybrid model?

The products presented at the Spielwarenmesse are particularly emotional and need to be experienced with all the senses. On top of that, we have established that following the pandemic, everyone has a huge desire to meet up and talk in person. That’s why, for us, physical events remain at the forefront of what we do. The year-round Spielwarenmesse digital platform complements the experience of the fair, offering additional services to those involved in the market and helping them make contact and stay in touch.

How is Spielwarenmesse’s World of Toys initiative set to grow in 2023?

Our overseas fair program, World of Toys, is expanding again this year. We are very much looking forward to celebrating our premier at Toy Fair in New York, which takes place from Sept. 30-Oct. 3. Prior to that, we will also be represented for the first time at the Tokyo Toy Show from June 8-11 to support companies interested in entering the Japanese market. At the fairs both in Japan and in the U.S., exhibitors on our shared stands will benefit from the full-service package from Spielwarenmesse eG.

This year, the general public was invited to visit the Model Railways and Model Construction Hall for the first time. Why was it important to open the doors to the public at a traditionally industry-only event?

The desire to open the Model Railways and Model Construction area to consumers came from the exhibitors themselves. They have a special relationship with their target group and maintain close contacts to get direct feedback from them on new products. The concept cannot be made to work for other product groups, though, which is why we made an exception for this one.

What are Spielwarenmesse’s key initiatives for 2023?

Once the Spielwarenmesse is over, we analyze the event and start planning for the following year. In addition, we are pushing ahead with our other products at home and abroad. These include our latest new addition: BRANDmate in Offenbach, near Frankfurt, is a cross-sector, business-to-business networking event covering cooperation agreements, partnerships, and licensing. There is also SPIEL in Essen, the biggest public fair in the world for board games. We ran this successfully by ourselves for the first time in 2022 and will be expanding it further.

MAX RANGEL Global President & CEO, Spin Master

The overall entertainment slate this year is stronger than last, with new content from Spin Master Entertainment and from some of its partners, including Warner Bros. and DC. How will that output be reflected in the toy department?

Spin Master Entertainment is focused on not only developing compelling content, but also building franchises and creative strategies that position our brands for long-term growth. Over the past few years, we have been investing in our entertainment slate to build franchises for kids on a global scale, as well as sustain our incredible momentum for PAW Patrol, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. The highly anticipated sequel to our first PAW Patrol movie will launch in theaters in October, with a new adventure featuring Skye, accompanied by a stellar toy movie line. Building off the success of PAW we will be launching a spin-off series, Rubble & Crew, with Nick Jr. and the toy line will dig into new play patterns rooted in construction and building.

Warner Bros. has a robust film rollout for 2023, including The Flash, Blue Beetle, and Aquaman, and we are excited to bring these stories from the big screen into playrooms and onto collectors’ shelves. Our DC toy portfolio combines our signature innovation with high-stakes action to create epic play experiences for kids and fans at large.

You partnered with DoorDash for a first-of-its-kind toy delivery service during the holiday season. How will the response to that program help to inform new ways to connect with families?

During the pandemic many consumers switched to ordering products online out of necessity. Since then, digital sales have continued to outpace brick-and-mortar as consumers have embraced online shopping having discovered its many benefits. One such benefit is the convenience of home delivery, which is what DoorDash is synonymous with. This pilot with DoorDash gives us further insight into how consumers want to shop and how we can continue to provide them with quick and easy options to gift the joy of play.

How will Spin Master grow this year?

As part of our long-term growth strategy, we’re focused on finding new, path-breaking acquisitions that will further expand our presence in key categories of play. In 2022, we announced three such acquisitions — Originator, 4D, and Solid Roots — and we kicked off 2023 announcing the acquisition of HEXBUG. This year we are thinking bigger in terms of acquisitions and are excited to share even more news when we can.


The miniature toy category is a highly competitive space. How is Super Impulse staying ahead of the pack with new products and innovations?

Our core line, World’s Smallest, is more than a collectible line. All of the World’s Smallest items have working function — they are playable like the full-size originals. Our colleagues in the toy industry trust us to replicate their flagship, classic, and trending products into working miniature toys and games.

We also do lines of non-functional miniatures that are collectibles, and all are unique from the other collectible miniatures in the space. We do the very smallest miniatures — a fraction of the size of other miniatures — in our Minisin-Minis line. We also produce extensive series of collectible miniatures based on classic toys, Micro Toy Box; and Wacky Package Minis, based on hilarious, retro trading cards.

You’re relaunching the Potato Head PopTaters line this year. Some readers may recall the previous products that the late PPW Toys produced a decade ago. Tell us about the Super Impulse take on these collaborative collectibles.

Super Impulse is very proud to partner with Hasbro to carry the Potato Head brand forward for new audiences and is glad to continue the legacy that PPW established with its great line of co-branded products. PopTaters is updated to appeal to today’s figural collector. We bring playability to the line: all of the parts, facial features, and body parts, are removable and interchangeable.

We are featuring a range of co-brands that appeal to fan favorites in pop culture, including Bob Ross, Dwight Schrute from The Office, Sonic the Hedgehog, and KISS. PopTaters are displayable as stand-alone figures or in the packaging. And the real fun is in the mash-ups, mixing and matching the character parts.

Super Impulse products can be found at mass retail, specialty stores, and even some unexpected places like Bass Pro Shops. What are some of the ways that you cultivate and support retail partnerships?

Super Impulse is fortunate to have broad distribution to a wide range of retailers, often exceeding what is typical in the toy industry. We attribute this to products that have a broad demographic appeal.

We have some of the best sales managers and sales reps in the business. Knowing that our toys are the perfect impulse products, appealing to all ages and genders, we pursue opportunities at all types of retailers.

What were some of the big wins for GennComm in 2022, and what are some strategies to watch for this year?

We celebrated our 10th anniversary at GennComm in 2022 and had some really cool successes for our clients, partners, and divisions over the last year (and decade) that we’re proud to have been aligned with. We work hard on all of our clients’ initiatives, but I love campaigns that lean into social impact. Consumers today are activists with their pocketbooks and powerful social networks, and I personally think an intentional focus on social impact is not just nice to have, it’s a powerful marketing strategy and business imperative. Whether it be by buying toys that are sustainable or inclusive or can enhance the lives of consumers, or sharing social media campaigns that give back or inspire on TikTok, Instagram, and more, brands that improve lives and our planet shined brightly in 2022.

Aside from marketing, you’re also involved with product development. What is the biggest challenge — and the biggest opportunity — facing smaller toy manufacturers in 2023?

On the GennComm ImaGENNation side, we just got word that our fourth patent for memory foam in plush has been allowed by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for squishy plush toys, which is so exciting.

We licensed this first to The Beverly Hills Teddy Bear Co. in 2017, which they still use in Squeezamals plush all these years later. We have a ton of new ideation in the pipeline powered by these patents, including some new brands in the social impact space.

We debuted our new surprise reveal package and delivery system called PunchBox Surprise at The Toy Association’s 2023 Preview and Holiday Market in Dallas last fall. We had a huge response in the Diverse Marketing booth, and it was featured in The Toy Book’s most innovative toys for 2023 issue. Created by my brilliant client and friend Maria Diaz, Master Toys & Novelties is our first licensee.

One of the biggest opportunities we have is that we have really innovative ideas that toymakers seem to love. It’s incredibly validating and we have some exciting partnerships we’ll be announcing over the coming months. One of our biggest challenges is that, like the toymakers, we also have been negatively impacted by the inventory backup and slowdowns at retail. This state of the industry affects toy companies from being able to be as bullish as they want to be with new innovations they take on. So some deals are taking much longer than everyone would like.

58 The Toy Book | February 2023 | STATE OF THE INDUSTRY

This is the big year in which Toy Fair shifts to September. How is the event shaping up when compared to previous years and how different will it be?

2022 saw a strong and confident finish with Toy Fair enthusiasm translating to 93% of 2023 exhibit space already sold — much earlier than any past pattern and with nine more months still to go until the show. New commitments like Spielwarenmesse World of Toys further fueled international interest. Now, the pace is normalizing as remaining inventory trends toward up-and-coming companies with smaller booths typically booked in the last months prior to opening. Toy Fair, at its newly designated time of year, syncs with the dominant August/September dealmaking period and promises to provide even more engaging and meaningful opportunities to the toy, play, and entertainment industries than ever before. While the tradition of a Q1 Toy Fair has existed on the global calendar, for many out of habit, not outcomes, toys are top of mind in the fall, and this timeframe also offers newly focused and energized potential for the global media to discover hot and notable in-year playthings — at just the perfect time for readers, viewers, and consumers to make their holiday choices; while simultaneously providing toymakers and retailers the chance to finalize spring lines and, of course, privately preview the next holiday’s offerings.

What are the biggest challenges facing the toy industry and how is the Association addressing them?

Always keeping the developmental benefits of play in front of parents and caring adults while offering great products they’ll want to bring into their homes! We are encouraging members to focus on supply chain diversification while our commitment remains on providing research, education, and connections to help them find new resources whether here at home, nearshoring in Mexico, or elsewhere. The constant drumbeat of inflation, potential for recession, and an uncertain geopolitical outlook infuse great uncertainty into business planning, yet companies cannot lay low or take a conservative mindset; rather, they must chase growth while the Association works to clear a path free from undue regulatory burdens and trade barriers. We’re seeing renewed interest in legislative and regulatory bodies to place new demands on companies with the result adding little to nothing to increase already high product safety and without clear consumer benefits. In the environmental and extended producer responsibility space, there will be activity across a host of states and cities while we continue to reduce packaging and address post-consumer products.

Products & Experiences

Last year saw some milestones celebrated alongside continued success for newer and evergreen IP. What are some major events that retailers should be excited about this year?

It’s incredible that in 2023, Universal will celebrate 30 years of Jurassic Park. In partnership with our studio partners, we’ve all worked hard to keep the franchise relevant now delivering content to our fans in theaters; on multiple broadcast, streaming and gaming platforms; in our parks; and, of course, on YouTube. The strength of the franchise is one that just won’t quit, and we have a wide array of anniversary products coming from Mattel and LEGO, and a new, kid-targeted “Dino Trackers” theme in 2023.

We also have some other franchises celebrating anniversaries this year, including Fast & Furious, which will see its 10th installment, Fast X, coming in spring 2023. In celebration of all 10 films, we are really excited about our biggest Fast vehicles line ever coming from Jada Toys and Mattel’s Hot Wheels.

And of course, I can’t talk about our major toy initiatives without expressing how thrilled we are with the success of DreamWorks Animation’s Gabby’s Dollhouse. In just two years, Gabby’s Dollhouse has become the No. 4 preschool toy brand in the U.S. In 2023, we will launch a new “adventure” theme with all new ways to play, while expanding the brand into new categories and new international territories as the show rolls out on free-to-air broadcast.

And if that’s not enough toy goodness, we have two additional blockbusters on deck this year. Q2 brings the new Super Mario Bros. Movie from Nintendo and Illumination. We’re working with master toy partner JAKKS Pacific to launch a line of toys and collectibles that will bring the big-screen story to life for fans of all ages.

And finally, DreamWorks Animation gives us Trolls 3 in Q4 with new core partners Mattel and Moose Toys. We’re excited about the combination of these partners and the fresh new product inspired by the film.

What is a key prediction for the state of the toy business in the months ahead?

With much of our industry growth now coming from kidult sales, I think the nimble toy companies and retailers that aren’t afraid to place some inventory bets will win in this space. Looking holistically at our horror portfolio as a year-round proposition is likely our next big franchise opportunity. Giving fans what they want, when they want it, is core to the pop culture business.

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Mini Brands continues to be popular with kids and collectors. How does ZURU plan to keep that momentum going this year?

Mini Brands had another record year in 2022 and we expect the momentum to continue going into 2023. Bringing newness within our collections is super important, as is upping the level of detail we are bringing with each mini. We have more than 400 new minis launching across 2023. Alongside this, TikTok has been critical in helping engage our fanbase with relevant and trending content, overlaid with the right “hooks.” The platform has now generated close to 6 billion views of Mini Brands content and we expect that to continue.

The blaster category has become increasingly competitive. How is ZURU innovating in that space to grow the X-Shot brand?

X-Shot continues to deliver on its promise of exceptional performance and great value. Last year, we refreshed our core Excel range and launched X-Shot Skins, which was a first in the blaster category and drove share gains across every market X-Shot is currently in. This performance is being recognized by consumers and buyers and in some accounts, X-Shot is now the only blaster brand being carried. In 2023, we will have a record amount of newness coming to market and the team is really upping the game in terms of new innovation and features for this category.

Sustainability is a big part of ZURU’s mission. How will those efforts continue in 2023?

Moving our Bunch O Balloons stems sourcing to traceable recycled plastic has seen savings of more than 2,000 tons of virgin plastic from entering the environment every year. We are now rolling this into our biggest brand, 5 Surprise, where all capsules are moving to traceable recycled plastic. This change will also save more than 2,000 tons of virgin plastic from entering the environment. Sustainability is a core pillar of our new product development process and we have more initiatives planned across products, sourcing, and packaging, which will be rolling out in our upcoming ranges.

How is ZURU connecting with and supporting retailers?

ZURU will always stand for great innovation and great value for retailers and consumers. This is unlocked through our back-end manufacturing teams and processes that are built out of China, where we have more than 6,000 team members and seven factories there now producing more than 500,000 products every day! We work with many retailers directly, but also offer our ranges through distributors across markets to ensure all retailers get access to our products.

How do you view the state of the industry this year?

2023 will be a challenging year for many. In such a climate, there is a tendency to pull back on newness and marketing. ZURU’s focus continues to be about bringing new innovation, features, and price points to market across all of our brands.

How can toy-adjacent products, including candybased impulse and novelty items be used to complement a retailer’s product mix?

At CandyRific, we believe that our items are 100% impulsive, and with a lower cost than other hard goods we are a great alternative or an add-on purchase. This is even more evident when it comes to licensing and entertainment events. We are a way to gain the impulse buy that the movie generates, not only adjacent to the retailer’s “statement,” but in other areas as well. The front end is the biggest impulse area in the store and our products fit in there extremely well, along with bringing a license or the toy factor to it.

In what ways has the rise of the kidult market benefited CandyRific, and how can retailers take part?

In a recent CNBC article, data showed that almost 25% of toy sales (around $9 billion) are purchased by kidults. CandyRific has recognized this, and we are aligning with licenses that make sense not only to kids, but adults as well. Generations X & Y, along with Millennials are driving purchasing decisions for themselves as well as their kids. Our more recent candy fans in the Marvel Avenger line have play value for kids and are more detailed and collectible for adult enthusiasts. We recently revamped our Star Wars fans, going back to the classics with characters like Yoda and Chewbacca. These are both nostalgic to adults and new and exciting for kids who are just now discovering these characters.

What are your overall predictions for the state of the toy industry and toy retail this year?

We believe that we will see continued growth in the collectibles category, along with increased sales of impulse items, especially at the checkout. Although the economy is unknown for 2023, in the past, we have seen times like these fuel growth in novelty and licensed candies — they’re an easy and economical treat for all ages.



Last year, World of EPI made a big splash in the industry with collaborative efforts, including Rock the Bells dolls and the TOTY-winning Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Fresh Fierce Collection by The Fresh Dolls. What new collaborations are on the horizon?

We are always super excited to form new collaborations. This year, we are thrilled to announce we will be collaborating with Composition Media to create an animated series featuring the Fresh Dolls! This is a passion project for us. We remember as children hopping out of our beds, running downstairs, and sitting in front of the television in our pajamas to watch our favorite cartoons. To be a part of the next generation of children watching multicultural characters in animated form is another “pinch-me” moment. We are all over-the-moon excited about this collaboration.

In addition, we at the World of EPI are creating some really cool things. We have expanded the Fresh Squad and Fresh Doll Collections. We are also introducing new publishing categories, such as coloring and activity books, and new toys like The Fresh Cuddles and The Fresh Fairies. The Fresh Cuddles are soft, huggable and nurturing multicultural plush characters that are sure to steal your heart. Our Fresh Fairies are the most adorable and cute multicultural representation of fairies. They have custom-blended skin tones, uniquely beautiful faces, and authentic hairstyles like Afro, Afro puffs, Bantu knots, and stylish hair scarfs.

What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve encountered in the past year, and how have you overcome them?

The biggest challenge we faced last year was having a vision and wanting to execute it perfectly. To do so required us to go beyond the norm. We had to push beyond the boundaries and be more innovative. It required us to create hair textures and hairstyles that have never been done before. We are the first to mass produce authentic loc’s. There were several late and sleepless nights, but creating this patent-pending hair and seeing the joy from fans makes it all worth it.

What are your overall predictions for the state of the toy industry and toy retail this year?

I am optimistic about the state of the toy industry and retail for this year. People are looking for inspiration and I think the toy industry is uniquely positioned to offer inspiration at reasonable and affordable prices. Everyone can find something that will inspire, uplift, and encourage them to live their dreams. From children to adults, the toy industry provides optimism, hope, and joy in all circumstances.

Marketing & Operations

WowWee is heading back into robotics in a big way with the release of Dog-E, which made a big impact at CES in January. What prompted the move after years of diversifying the WowWee portfolio?

The toy industry is like a pendulum. Trends emerge and manufacturers race each other to be first to fill the white space. Paradoxically, in so doing, other opportunities emerge in under-serviced areas. We feel robotics is one of those areas. There’s been a huge trend with blind boxes both in toys, but also in the tech space with the NFT boom (and crash, for now), and we got excited about combining the thrill of discovery and reveal with a more high-tech segment like robots. It’s made for a really fresh and original product.

Last year, WowWee’s Hasbro Splash Games brought classic board games from the Hasbro Gaming portfolio into backyards for some wet and wild fun. How will you build upon that success this year?

We’re continuing to reimagine what a board game looks like in a backyard. One question we asked ourselves was “What if the kids are the game tokens!?” and the result is an incredible Monopoly backyard takeover you need to see to believe! We’re also looking to build on successes like the RoboBlaster on the NERF Super Soaker side. How might that play pattern extend, scale down, or scale up in price and size? We have some awesome new products in the pipeline that address that.

Access to hot products at a fair price has been a hot-button issue for independent retailers that lack the buying power of the big-box stores. How is WowWee connecting with and supporting those stores?

In a word: partnership. We’re looking to support them from both a stock allocation and a margin standpoint, and in turn, they help us with something big boxes are not always able to fulfill: experiential, in-store demos; consumer education; and events are just a few examples.

What are your overall predictions for the state of the toy industry and toy retail this year?

I think the climate is a conservative one. Retailers are still heavy on inventory and I think much of the spring season is going to focus on right sizing. That said, I think pressures will ease toward Q4 and put the trade into a position to finish the year strong and build on that as we head into the 2024 season.

62 The Toy Book | February 2023 | STATE OF THE INDUSTRY

Last year, Mastermind Toys launched its namesake private-label brand. How will it expand in 2023?

Mastermind Toys’ namesake brand is a culmination of almost 40 years of experience as a leader in play, curation, and customer-obsessed, specialty experiences. Our lineup of toys, puzzles, and games reflects the purpose the company has been built on: to inspire generations of lifelong learners through the power of play. We are passionate about designing great toys that are deeply rooted in child development, with quality and play value at the forefront of the process.

We’ve integrated our private brand into Mastermind Toys’ key programs and signature events — from our PERKS free birthday gift offering to our Play to Give community impact initiatives. The positive response from customers has been encouraging, with Made by Mastermind Toys making up almost half of our best-selling units from our Holiday Play Guide and some of our highest-reviewed and top-rated products online. Our private brand will continue to play a critical role in our guides; environmental, social, and governance journey; and signature programs, as we double our assortment in 2023.

What were some of the big wins for Mastermind Toys last year? What stood out as big hits?

As a beloved specialty toy retailer that’s known as the educational toy store, we saw families gravitate toward the tried-and-true brands that are quintessential at Mastermind Toys, like Magna-Tiles, Snap Circuits, and GraviTrax.

Mastermind Books debuted last fall as a new subbrand in your stores. How are books complementing your toy assortment?

Books have always played a major role in our assortment as one of our best-performing categories historically. We declared our commitment to growing this key category by introducing Mastermind Books in 2022 and we’re excited to dedicate more spaces in our stores, play guides, and online hubs to helping our customer build baby’s first library.

An important pillar of our book assortment is our Diversity and Inclusion collection, with authors and stories by and about equity-deserving communities. For every book purchased from this collection, we donate a portion of the proceeds to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion initiatives at BGC Canada (formerly the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada). We’re proud to offer this collection that gives back to communities across the country, while serving as resources for parents and educators to engage kids in conversations about diversity and inclusion.

ISAAC ELLIOTT-FISHER Filmmaker; Owner, Village Toy Castle

You celebrated the one-year anniversary of your store during a December snowstorm that closed the store two days before Christmas. What are the biggest lessons you learned in your first full year of business?

The unfortunate timing of the snowstorm did shut us down on the final two days before Christmas, but honestly it is something to be expected where we are located. Though, this was one of those “every half century” storms. This first year has been very crazy, as we continue to restore this 146-year-old, long-abandoned, historic brick building that our store is located in, which is not a small task. All while trying to learn the ropes of retail for the first time, create and refine the experiential elements of the business, and develop our manufacturing company, not to mention raising three young boys. A lot of the lessons we learned center around the importance of execution on all fronts. From the moment our customers arrive at the front door to the time they depart, we want them to be immersed in the experience, and so far it’s been working very well, though the vision in my head is even grander still than it is now, but good things take time.

What were some of the best-selling toys and categories in your store last year?

We try to offer a wide selection of products that one might expect to see in any popular toy store. While I truly wish I could say it was the action figures and dolls category selling to kids rather than kidults, that was the top category. Overall, the retro novelty category sees the most sell-through in our store. It is probably no surprise that these fun, simple classic products ranging from wooden paddle boats and kaleidoscopes to tinker toys, pop rockets, and tin tops would sell well in a store that focuses on retro play. People really key into these basic items, there is something timeless about it, which is fantastic. Kids will likely never get tired of a good old potato gun or Whoopee Cushion.

What is a big challenge facing specialty toy retailers?

Finding and accessing cool or different new products isn’t as easy as I assumed it should be. It boggles my mind that in a time of instant communication more manufacturers don’t provide distribution information for retailers. I often find that manufacturers have no information available on their websites, no supplier lists, no internal sales contacts, nothing. With the rising costs of travel and the lack of trade shows in recent years it is a challenge to source unique products that make the specialty shopping experience special, so it doesn’t make sense to me why manufacturers wouldn’t be more interested in connecting with buyers.

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Vice President Merchandising and Supply Chain, Toys “R” Us Canada

What were some of the big wins for Toys “R” Us Canada last year?

We launched our Books category in 2022 with great success. We grew the in-store footprint, expanded our partners, and grew our total assortment. We saw great attachment rates and more importantly, customers love the space we created and the expanded gift-giving opportunities. Another win for us this year was our holiday season: We are very proud of how our stores performed. From robust in-stock levels to engaged staff, the true magic of Toys “R” Us came back to life this year.

Did any particular toys or games stand out as hits?

We continued to see success with LEGO items like our exclusive City Train set. The Magic Mixies Magic Cauldron had a great second Christmas and the new Magic Mixies Magic Crystal Ball was a big hit. The Encanto Magical Casa Madrigal was in very high demand. Brands like Jurassic World, Bluey, and 5 Surprise exceeded expectations.

What are your overall predictions for the state of the toy industry and toy retail this year?

I expect 2023 to be a tough year. Customers have been stretched through 2022 and they may start to look to hold onto some additional savings. Value is going to win the day. I am not talking about cheap toys, I mean value As long as we can continue to give customers great toys and a great experience we will consider that a success.

ALLYSON BANKS Marketing Director Toys “R” Us Canada

During the holiday season, Toys “R” Us Canada introduced Mr. Ferguson, a new character in a campaign to bring back imaginary friends. Can you tell us a little bit about the underlying message?

We launched our “Imagination Included” campaign; we really want to help nurture children’s development through imaginative play, reclaim their time away from scheduled activities and programs, and give them a chance to nurture their world of make-believe. Mr. Ferguson is meant to represent every child’s imaginary friend whatever that looks or sounds like a child’s most fantastical ideas! When a child picks up a toy, it only comes to life through imagination. As Canada’s leading toy retailer, it’s important for us to make sure kids don’t lose that magical part of childhood.

What are the biggest challenges facing the toy industry in 2023?

• Continued cost inflation and interest rates make it difficult to innovate at opening and mid-tier price points and to innovate in merchandising systems and retailtainment.

• Changing Media Consumption Habits: The continued expansion of new platforms and channels has made it difficult to navigate and prioritize to effectively and cost-efficiently reach your target consumer.

• Supply Chain: Container availability, shipping costs, and delivery times continue to be a challenge.

• Credit Insurance for toy retail customers: Insurance companies are becoming more reluctant to provide workable limits without higher costs or by simply refusing coverage for certain retailers and orders.

How is The Canadian Toy Association (CTA) addressing these and other challenges?

The CTA’s mandate is to advocate on behalf of the industry through our government relations and communications efforts. We will continue to keep our members informed, educated, and connected on the impact this work has on their businesses as we face and overcome the above challenges together.

What are the CTA’s key initiatives for the year ahead?

[CTA’s goals include] expanding the number of networking opportunities and events following 2022’s successful Canadian Toy Hall of Fame and Rising Star recognition ceremony, continuing our work with the Genius of Play program, and continuing to grow and expand the Toys for the North, while executing our mandate of advocating for the growth and health of the Canadian toy industry.

On the government relations side, [our leading priorities are] ongoing work by the federal government regarding plastic waste mitigation, proposed recycling labeling requirements, proposed new chemical labeling requirements for consumer products, and a department review of the Toy Regulations’ chemical testing requirements.

What are your overall predictions for the state of the toy industry and toy retail this year?

Canada continues to experience strong population growth and a resilient economy. Despite increased interest rates and some challenging times ahead for consumers, we expect the toy industry to continue to outperform other general merchandise categories for the remainder of the year.


Following years of growth building the Miraculous brand through partnerships with toymakers, the launch of the ZAG Play Toy Division signals an effort to go even bigger. What are your goals for this year?

The new ZAG Play Toy Division is charged with developing a broad range of innovative toy products that offer synchronization between storytelling and the physical and digital world that will be deeply tied to the DNA of the company’s brands. Having analyzed multiple purchase funnels for our flagship brand Miraculous, we see that there is a much stronger demand for more items and newness from fans. Our goal is to offer fans a rich and full Miraculous experience, working in parallel with our master toy partner Playmates Toys and other toy licensees to ensure a comprehensive and complementary offering across the world.

Content is at the heart of ZAG’s business. How will the release of the Miraculous feature film and other projects shape ZAG’s presence in toy departments?

Miraculous Ladybug and Cat Noir: The Movie is a spectacular origin story of teens turned superheroes. We know it will enrich the world of our current fans and attract new ones, too.

While there is much anticipation for the movie, which, of course, we will leverage to drive toy sales, we will also continue to focus on our 360-degree strategy to reach fans at every touchpoint. This includes the series, which has exceptional placement in more than 120 countries around the world, our huge social media presence with more than 32 billion views on YouTube, consumer products, promotions, gaming, and live events.

How does the ZAG Play Toy Division plan to offer innovation in the competitive world of toys?

We do this by focusing on a high level of detail and quality across the line. Each item combines the proven play patterns of our wide fanbase. As an example, in arts and crafts, we plan for items that will truly inspire and feed children’s ambition to master skills and ensure a level of quality that supports an exceptional finished product. Another example is the launch of our Miraball, where something tiny unexpectedly becomes mighty due to the innovation of a new ultra-shrinkable memory foam plush.

The boom in content continues to feed demand for physical play. I think the temporary obstacle that the industry is facing is an excess of inventory. We’ll overcome this and continue to offer consumers freshness in physical play.

ISAAC LARIAN Founder & CEO, MGA Entertainment

How will the opening of MGA Studios factor into the company’s long-term content and toy development plans?

MGA Entertainment is one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing privately held toy and entertainment companies and we have always been committed to growing in the entertainment space to further the connection between physical toys, entertainment, and the digital world. While continued innovation in the toy category remains a key driver for our business, we understand the world is changing and are fully committed to carrying our winning legacy into this new and evolving digital landscape. In addition to growing our large catalog of TV, movie, and streaming content through MGA Studios, we aim to create smaller and safer mini universes for our children to grow and develop in a seamless digital and physical entertainment ecosystem.

Access to hot products at a fair price has been a hot-button issue for independent retailers that lack the buying power of the big-box stores. How is MGA connecting with those stores?

To ensure we can provide our newest, hottest, most innovative products to independent retailers at a fair price, MGA works with distributors, such as ACD Distribution. Doing this helps us to provide better service to these retailers and guarantee them a fair price.

How is MGA working to keep pricing in line amid rising inflation and economic concerns?

MGA has an advantage most of the other major toy companies do not: We are a private company. As such, we do not have to answer to shareholders or Wall Street and are able to take a different approach, not raising prices, and in some cases even lowering them, despite rising inflation. It’s important to us to preserve our consumers’ loyalty to the MGA brands they love.

What are your overall predictions for the state of the toy industry and toy retail this year?

The toy business is product driven. For 2023, those companies who have hot, new, original, innovative products will win with retailers and consumers, and those without will not. We are fortunate here at MGA Entertainment that innovation has been at the heart of all we do, and 2023 is no exception. Our just-launched, hot, new MGA’s Miniverse line, including Bratz Minis, Mini Little Tikes, and the newest Make It Mini Food lineup has sold out repeatedly out of the gate. We are just getting started with more surprises heading into the spring, fall, and holiday seasons this year.

66 The Toy Book | February 2023 |

Senior Vice President of Hardlines, Target

Your collaboration with FAO Schwarz grew over the past year. How has that relationship impacted the toy department in your stores?

We rang in the holiday season by announcing an exclusive, multiyear agreement with iconic toy brand FAO Schwarz to ignite even more magic and inspiration across our unrivaled toy assortment. Target store toy departments feature playful store displays that highlight must-have FAO toys, inviting toy enthusiasts of any age to get creative and experience hands-on play. We’re excited to continue our partnership with FAO, which features a broad range of toys to inspire magical moments and nostalgic memories, signature to FAO Schwarz.

Target has become known for its expanded selection of collectibles for the kidult market, a demographic that has now gone mainstream. What kind of excitement can the industry expect in that space this year?

Whether it’s animated classics, epic sci-fi, or fantasy universes, Target delivers the most sought-after collectibles. This past fall, Target was excited to bring even more excitement to the toy aisle – and the kidult space – with the studio partnership and exclusive items from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Target also offers a wide range of exclusive Funko Pops from favorite entertainment properties such as Star Wars, Marvel, Stranger Things, and more. Looking ahead, we’re also excited to bring our guests Target Con this year, a Target-owned “surprise and delight” event.

Last year, Target planned to increase its efforts to work with diverse suppliers in the toy and game space. How did those efforts pan out for the remainder of the year and how will they shape the business moving forward?

Inclusivity is a key value at Target, and our commitment to diversity and inclusion comes to life across our business – including the merchandise we sell. For example, this past season, Target toys was proud to offer Black-owned brands including new dolls from HarperIman, an inclusive doll brand. We continue to prioritize diverse offerings within the toy aisle.

What are your overall predictions for the state of the toy industry and toy retail this year?

This year, families will continue to look for ways to celebrate the seasons and key milestones with their kids, with toys playing a central role. Target strives to meet the needs of all families with a particular focus on differentiation, newness, and value. We know value will also be top-of-mind for guests, and they can continue to count on Target to offer an industry-leading toy assortment at an incredible value.

Having joined Asmodee recently, what’s your first order of business to expand the company’s footprint in the U.S.? We are developing a new internal team structure with smart channel planning in mind. We sell some of the most interesting games in the world between our own internal studios and the many external studios under distribution contracts with us, and our efforts are focused on getting the right games to the right retail outlets for the target consumer.

With gaming coming down from the pandemic sales boom, how is Asmodee keeping the category fresh for retailers and gamers?

Gaming is certainly rightsizing, but it’s actually up from pre-pandemic numbers per The NPD Group. This is exciting and shows that we have kept some of the “new” game players. One of our core tenets is to continue to build the gaming community through digital and in-person interaction, a steady supply of new games, and continued efforts to grow the audiences of our pillar games such as Catan, Ticket to Ride, and Spot It!

Licensed titles have become a bigger part of Asmodee’s product mix in recent months. How will this expand going forward?

It’s so exciting to see continued growth in this area and provide games to the fans of so many different licensed properties, including Star Wars, Marvel, and many more. This summer, Star Wars: Shatterpoint will launch, and it’s incredible to see the chatter online from the fans as they start to see what is coming in the box. It’s been really nice to see the success of our Squid Game and Stranger Things: Attack of the Mind Flayer games at Walmart these past few months. We are gaming enthusiasts at heart and our teams develop gameplay that strongly ties into the core of each license.

What advice would you give to retailers that are looking to expand their game assortments?

I think the best way for a smaller retailer to expand game assortments is by working with a distributor that allows them to “try” so many games without committing to a full case pack. That’s why I love being at this end of the business; our sales teams can literally curate an assortment of games, even down to one or two of each, allowing a store to dip their feet into new titles to see what works for them.



Chairman & CEO

WHP Global & Toys “R” Us

With the first official season in the books for Toys “R” Us at Macy’s, what are some of the biggest things you’ve learned?

The emotional reaction from families across the U.S. about the return of Toys “R” Us exceeded expectations.

Millennials and prior generations — who were already Toys “R” Us kids — are excited that we’re back, and now we’re witnessing the birth of a whole new generation of Toys “R” Us kids making their own memories with Geoffrey the Giraffe inside Toys “R” Us at every single Macy’s across the U.S. as they experience Toys “R” Us in person for the first time in their lives.

The other critical takeaway we learned is that the magic of Macy’s combined with the power of Toys “R” Us is a winning formula beyond our imagination. It’s a 1+1 = 1,000 scenario. We launched ahead of schedule, in a larger way than originally planned, and while doing so, we saw strong key performance indicators — in terms of sales, new customers, and cross-shopping – all proving the success of our thesis.

What were some of the additional big wins for Toys “R” Us at Macy’s in the past year?

We have strong support from a number of major toy vendors — including Mattel, Hasbro, LEGO, Funko, Spin Master, and others — which contributed to our overall strong performance during the holiday season. We also brought back Toys “R” Us collectibles, offered a limited-edition holiday Funko Geoffrey Pop! which sold out quickly, Geoffrey plush, and our owned brands — including Imaginarium, Just Like Home, and Fast Lane. Another highlight was our exclusive launch of VeeFriends plush collectibles from Gary Vaynerchuk. Look for more exclusives this year.

On a macro level, the biggest win of all for us in 2022 is that our total retail footprint for Toys “R” Us surpassed 1,350 stores globally, equating to growth of more than 50% from where we started at the beginning of the year. Toys “R” Us today is vibrant in more than 30 countries with flagships in the U.S., Dubai, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and many other places in the world.

What’s next for Toys “R” Us?

With our U.S. launch now fully active ... we are focused on robust comp growth in all our stores and digitally.

In addition, in January we announced the return of Babies “R” Us in the U.S. with a flagship store at American Dream. Just like our strategy for Toys “R” Us, the flagship opening sets the stage for a forthcoming national rollout of Babies “R” Us in the future.


What are some highlights that retailers should look forward to from Paramount and its partners this year?

We have some exciting new toys on the way for every age from preschoolers to kidults. We continue to expand our PAW Patrol and Baby Shark toy lines with innovative new vehicles, plush, games, and novelty toys. We also have toys launching for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) timed to the new movie this summer, as well as new products for SpongeBob SquarePants and Star Trek that are going to make collectors really happy. Additionally, we have some really cool collector products inspired by the hit series Yellowstone including figures, vehicles, and games.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are coming back in a big way this year. How are you approaching this latest iteration of the famed TMNT crew?

It is really exciting to usher the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles back again with this huge movie. Our toy partner, Playmates Toys, has developed a gorgeous line of action figures, playsets, vehicles, and more. Their innovation and modeling are absolutely fantastic and it has been fun to play into the unique personality attributes of each Turtle and lean into their true teenage strengths. The Playmates team released a new collection of Classic Turtles figures this spring and they are flying off shelves. We also have several other partners to complement the core toy line with games, outdoor, novelty items, and more.

How has the growth of Paramount+ over the past year influenced licensing partnerships and expansion into the toy department?

Paramount+ has led the industry in U.S. sign-ups and gross subscriber additions, according to Antenna’s September 2022 report, so we are focused on keeping up with the momentum and expanding our product lines for the IP that we see customers of all ages binge-watching. This breadth of content is giving us a huge range of IP to develop. We’re seeing a lot of interest in collector toys, in particular.

What are your overall predictions for the state of the toy industry and toy retail this year?

We continue to see an expansion of collectors with a strong appetite for innovation who are looking for products at a range of price points. I believe consumers will look to celebrate their favorite movies and shows through interactive play and fandom collections.

68 The Toy Book | February 2023 | STATE OF THE INDUSTRY

VICTORIA LOZANO Executive Vice President, Marketing Crayola

Over the past few years, Crayola has seen innovation in how activities and traditional play patterns can come together in new ways, such as the Scribble Scrubbie line. How is the company working to build upon that this year?

While Crayola is best known for its iconic Crayola Crayon, first introduced in 1903, the brand has grown to a broad portfolio of innovative products and exciting hands-on creative experiences. At its core, Crayola is about innovation. Our teams are constantly focused on identifying new insights, developing new concepts and ideas, exploring new technologies, finding new applications, and coming up with innovative new products that will delight kids and enable them to creatively express their thoughts and ideas. Scribble Scrubbie is one of our very successful creative toys, one that still has a lot of growth potential, but there are so many others. The beauty of Crayola’s innovation is that it’s evergreen. We are going to continue to innovate within our core products and through new creative toys, as well as look for ways to grow the category by keeping kids engaged longer and drive incremental usage occasions through unique and fun experiences that kids want to do again and again.

How has the Colors of Kindness brand grown and how is its licensing program shaping up?

The Crayola Colors of Kindness product line is a great example of consumer insights, trends, and science coming together to expand our pallet and help consumers relax, live mindfully, and express kindness colorfully. According to Parents, kindness is the most important value parents want to instill in their children, topping intelligence and strong work ethic. Within the 24-count box of crayons launched in 2021 and the newly launched markers and colored pencils, kids will find positive messages tied to a soft color pallet — macaroni and cheese with “life is gouda” or granny smith apple paired with “kind to the core.” It’s a perfect way to relax through coloring or send messages of love and support to those you care about.

Crayola Colors of Kindness grew sales 158% in 2022 in the U.S. In fact, U.S. households purchased 3.5 units of Crayola Colors of Kindness products every minute of 2022, an increase of 84% versus the prior year. Building on that success, Crayola is now extending the franchise through licensing. The new Crayola Colors of Kindness merchandise will amplify the core message of spreading love through creativity and will be featured across multiple product segments including kids health and wellness, fashion, publishing, gift, and social expression. The licensing program will launch in March with soon-to-beannounced fashion collaborations and will build throughout 2023 and into 2024.

ROBERTO STANICHI Senior Vice President, Hot Wheels & Global Head of Vehicles, Mattel

The vehicles category has seen explosive growth in recent years, and this year marks the 70th anniversary of Matchbox and the 55th anniversary of Hot Wheels. What can retailers and consumers expect from those brands in 2023 and how is the brand working to keep pricing fair?

Hot Wheels and Matchbox will continue to increase their cultural relevance and popularity in 2023. Per The NPD Group, Hot Wheels is the No. 1-selling toy in the world and globally for Q4 and full year 2022. More than 16 Hot Wheels cars are sold per second across the world and more than 6 billion have been produced to date. In addition to projects across film, toys, digital gaming, physical experiences, luxury collector items, and even Web3, we are gearing up to announce new TV titles based on Hot Wheels. Last year, Hot Wheels expanded the category to include R/C and fingerboards as further proof that there is no company in the world that can authentically engage with every age and affinity group in the automotive community like Hot Wheels.

We are proud to be working with best-in-class partners Warner Bros. Pictures and JJ Abrams’ Bad Robot to create a live-action film based on Hot Wheels. The high-throttle film will bring to life our beloved, multigenerational franchise and showcase some of the world’s hottest and sleekest cars.

The Hot Wheels brand is proud to continue to provide incredible value, quality, and safety to consumers, something we have done for decades. The single-pack vehicle remains one of the most cost-effective ways for families to surprise and delight their children and has been for the last 55 years.

With the 70th anniversary of Matchbox, the brand will release some very special toy vehicles to commemorate the milestone, while development continues on the live-action film from Mattel Films and Skydance. Matchbox is committed to integrating more electric vehicles and eco-friendly themes into products with a vision to make all toys and packaging from 100% recycled, recyclable, or bio-based plastic materials by 2030. Embracing sustainable production processes and more will help the brand inspire the next generation of kids and collectors.

With these milestone anniversaries for both Hot Wheels and Matchbox taking place in 2023, fans can expect plenty of new surprises and developments across all categories.


DEIRDRE CROSS General Manager, Funko Games

Games had a big spike during the pandemic that’s leveled out a bit. How is Funko Games keeping gamers excited while attracting new players?

We’ve been successful in bringing new gamers and fans into the fold by making games based on entertainment and pop culture brands they know and love. Our games often create nostalgia by taking players back to happy, early life memories related to their favorite movie, TV show, or pop culture moment. The games offer surprise-and-delight moments that fans look forward to experiencing with friends and family.

Additionally, by producing engaging, fun, and interactive gameplay in line with fans’ favorite entertainment brands, it allows people to see games as a hobby, which then leads them back to the games aisle for more adventures with Funko Games.

Funko Games recently partnered with Hasbro Gaming to relaunch Cranium. What is the significance of this new partnership?

We’re long-time fans of the Cranium brand and the franchise holds a very special place in our hearts. We’re excited to partner with Hasbro in celebration of Cranium’s 25th anniversary, and look forward to bringing a new generation of Cranium games back to tabletops worldwide.

Five Nights at Freddy’s (FNAF) is almost a sleeper franchise that’s huge, but not yet a household name. Tell us how the video game hit has become a growing part of the Funko Games portfolio?

Being part of Funko, Funko Games has the opportunity to tell a different side of the FNAF story through a collection of games. We have seen terrific sales of various FNAF games and it’s incredible to see fans engage with the collection, whether they play as security guards avoiding the animatronic monsters in Night of Frights or as a monster trying to incapacitate the guards in Survive ‘Til 6AM.

What are some of the big titles and innovations that retailers and gamers can look forward to this year?

We’re very focused on our new Cranium collection, including an all-new title called Cranium Big Brain Detective Game, which is for kids ages 5 and up. The game features an 800-plus-square-inch board with incredibly detailed artwork that children can immerse themselves in as they play detectives in a fun and engaging way. We pride ourselves in working collectively to create games that customers can play again and again, offering a new experience each time.

LAUREN DERSE CEO, Learning Express Toys & Gifts

What were some of the big wins and top-sellers at Learning Express stores last year?

In 2022, Learning Express had the third-highest average store sales in our 26-year history. We attribute that to several hot product trends — including Squishmallows and Fidgets — as well as becoming nationally known through TikTok videos made by our stores.

How are your franchise owners evolving their product assortments to serve growing consumer groups, including tweens, teens, and kidults?

What has made Learning Express so successful over the years is our willingness and desire to listen to our customers, in addition to sharing our product successes with other Learning Express store owners. Through our “Hot Product” calls with owners, all-store emails, and the LE Owner Facebook group, we are constantly sharing. It’s this collaborative process that has allowed our stores to react quickly to trends. Because of the number of stores in our LE family, we’re able to access products quickly and competitively due to our collective buying power.

What are some key considerations for Learning Express when it comes to working with new vendors or bringing in new products?

We believe in building good relationships with our vendor partners. When our home office buying team works with new vendors, we negotiate terms that are fair to the vendors, but are also desirable to our store owners. We often test out the products in one or several locations first before launching them across all stores. New vendors also have an opportunity to showcase their products at our annual convention, where they are able to talk one-on-one with owners and introduce them to their company and product line.

How does Toy Fair moving impact your business, and what’s your take on the trade show shift, particularly since you operate your own show for franchisees?

It has certainly been an adjustment, and this year’s market offerings will be a good predictor of what we will be attending going forward. We’ve advised our stores to attend either the Dallas Market, Atlanta Market, and/or ToyFest. We have our annual convention and vendor show in June, where the majority of our Q4 orders are placed with betterthan-standard terms. Many of our store owners (and our home office staff) will be attending Toy Fair in September. Our prediction is that ToyFest in February will become the new “Toy Fair” for independent retailers.

70 The Toy Book | February 2023 | STATE OF THE INDUSTRY

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Nearly 50 years ago, a legendary franchise was born somewhere in the wilds of Southern Wisconsin. As tends to be the case with many legends, the exact details of how, exactly, Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) took shape have become muddy — and even disputed — through the passage of time. At the center of the D&D origin story, one thing is clear: two game designers, Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, are credited with turning their passion for wargames into something new and completely epic.

Gygax and his business partner, Don Kaye, formed Tactical Studies Rules (TSR) and brought in Brian Blume as an equity partner to fund and publish D&D in 1974. Upon its release, D&D effectively kickstarted the tabletop role-playing game (RPG) industry.

In D&D, players assemble an adventuring party to go on epic quests while exploring fantasy worlds. The Dungeon Master serves as both storyteller and referee as players level up in experience throughout the game and its campaigns.

As its popularity quickly caught on, a new version, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, was released and game components, including The Dungeon Masters Guide and the infamous d20 (a 20-sided die), became part of the pop culture lexicon.

When the Reagan-era “Satanic Panic” movement kicked in, D&D, with its wizards, monsters, mythical creatures, and spells, was placed under the microscope alongside other “controversial” entertainment of the time as BADD (Bothered About D&D) posited that the game was recruiting members for the underworld. Simultaneously, D&D was expanding to reach a wider audience through Saturday morning cartoons and toys, including LJN’s line of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons action figures, beasts, and playsets.


The 1990s brought change and the eventual sale of TSR to Wizards of the Coast (WotC), which in turn was acquired by Hasbro in 1999. A long-gestating D&D film debuted in 2000, but failed to make its budget back. Still, a pair of modestly budgeted sequels went direct-to-DVD and found a cult following as a new generation of players discovered and embraced D&D.

That generation and the updated, fifth edition of D&D (released in 2012) met at the intersection of new media platforms like YouTube and Twitch, where creators and celebrity players took the collaborative nature of their campaigns to a global audience. But things were about to get a whole lot stranger


Dungeons & Dragons

Player’s Handbook

Metal Sign

Ages: 16+ | MSRP: $6.99

Available: Now

Dungeon Masters can decorate their domain with this 11.6-by-8.265-inch sign inspired by the D&D Handbook. It is crafted of premium tin metal and includes four holes for easy hanging.

72 The Toy Book | February 2023 |


Stranger Things hit Netflix in 2016, dropping a new breed of D&D-inspired storytelling into living rooms everywhere. In the first episode, a 12-year-old disappears after leaving a D&D campaign with his friends — but the influence hardly ends there. Numerous creatures inspired by D&D lore entered the Stranger Things mythos. Hasbro took notice and released a co-branded Dungeons & Dragons x Stranger Things Starter Set and other collaborative merchandise to feed the growing fanbase with ties back to the original game.

a record number of players in 2018. Ultimately, the quest to find the right filmmakers led to the duo of Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley (Vacation, Game Night) to helm this year’s Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. Slated to hit theaters on March 31 from Paramount Pictures, the heist film is set in the Forgotten Realms campaign and stars Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Regé-Jean Page, Justice Smith, Sophia Lillis, Chloe Coleman, Daisy Head, and Hugh Grant.

Last year, with momentum amplified by the release of Stranger Things 4 and its Hellfire Club of D&D enthusiasts facing off against the villainous Vecna in a storyline borrowing heavily from the panic years of the ‘80s, Hasbro met with retailers and others at Licensing Expo in Las Vegas to present its multiyear plan to firmly establish D&D as a mainstream franchise for the whole family to enjoy through entertainment, games, and toys.


“It was important to the team to create a toy line that would appeal to both new fans of D&D — where maybe their first experience with the brand would be seeing the movie — and more seasoned adventurers who have been playing for years and are already actively engaged,” says Emily Bader, Manager Global Brand Development & Marketing for D&D, Hasbro. “We ultimately created a blend of movie-inspired and lore-inspired products that have cross-audience appeal and, quite frankly, look pretty awesome.”

HASBRO Dungeons & Dragons

The Golden Archive

Action Figures

Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $24.99

Available: Now

Kids can collect an assortment of 6-inch scale action figures that kicks off with characters from the new movie, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. Each figure features premium articulation and deco. The first wave includes Edgin, Holga, Doric, Xenk, Simon, and Forge.

to life in action figure form for the first time. And last, but certainly not least, are our new Dicelings, which are d20s that convert into monsters.”

“D&D is cooler than ever. While portrayals in pop media have certainly contributed to record-breaking sales year after year, we at Wizards believe the ease of entry into the modern rules for the game has allowed more people to fall in love with rolling dice with your friends,” says Liz Schuh, Director of Product Management for D&D at WotC. “It’s a lot easier to learn how to play by watching your favorite content creators out there doing the same.”


By 2019, Hasbro was entertaining pitches for another go at a D&D movie. Late Hasbro Chairman and CEO Brian Goldner championed the property, citing

Bader gives much credit to the design team, which like the modern D&D audience, is made up of veteran Dungeon Masters and some folks who are just learning about the brand. Together, they’ve crafted a line that spans multiple categories, including action figures, blasters and roleplay, collectibles, and games.

“Our D&D toy segment has three main product pillars for our 2023 line,” she explains. “First is The Golden Archive, our premium line of 6-inch-scale characters and monsters. Think of it as the D&D equivalent to our Star Wars: The Black Series or Marvel Legends lines. Then we have our Cartoon Classics line, which celebrates the 40th anniversary of the 1983 D&D cartoon by bringing those characters

To make an impact in the toy department, Hasbro’s D&D team was tasked with developing a cross-category line involving input from multiple divisions, partners, and the filmmakers.

“It has been such a collaborative journey … The product development team has worked closely with our partners at Wizards, eOne, and Paramount every step of the way,” Bader says. “We were inspired by the script, had collaborative ideation sessions, and really got to understand the movie and how we could translate it into toys. Our movie toy product really capitalizes on what makes Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves special and celebrates the characters and monsters of the story. One of my favorite movie products is our new kid-focused movie dragon — his wingspan is nearly 20 inches!”

Source: Paramount Pictures


While Hasbro bets big on the success of Honor Among Thieves, the future of D&D is already unfolding in new ways. In January, Paramount+ ordered eight episodes of a live-action D&D TV series from eOne and rumors persist that an unscripted series will follow. Beyond that, more kids may get hooked on the franchise in the years ahead in a rather surprising place: school.

“One thing that’s been really exciting within the community recently is D&D play being endorsed by so many educators as a powerful learning tool,” Schuh explains. “Last year, Wizards partnered with Young Minds Inspired (YMI) to build a curriculum that teachers can use in the classroom. YMI reported more than 9 million teachers, students, and families accessed Digital Teacher’s Kits with more than 56 million total impressions. Wizards also launched a new D&D After School Kit providing everything educators or volunteers need to start a D&D club at

their school, community center, or library. Both of those programs focus on bringing new players into the community using the content in the new D&D Starter Set: Dragons of Stormwreck Isle.”

But that’s just the beginning as Hasbro and its partners gear up to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the game that started it all. According to Schuh, “The D&D Team has a lot of amazing things up the sleeves of their wizard robes for the 50th anniversary.”

One project already confirmed to be swirling on the horizon in 2024 is a feature-length D&D documentary from actor and Dungeon Master Joe Manganiello (True Blood), who will co-direct with Kyle Newman (Fanboys).

While Gygax, Arneson, Kaye, Blume, and Goldner have all passed on, their contributions to the toy and game industries continue to inspire new ways to play as the fantasy realms of Dungeons & Dragons continue to expand, forever welcoming new parties of adventurers to become a part of the story. 



Dungeons & Dragons

Golden Archive Owlbear/ Doric Action Figure

Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $44.99

Available: Summer 2023

Beware the Owlbear! The Toy Book has your first look at the 6-inch scale Golden Archive Owlbear/Doric action figure. This premium figure comes with two additional bear paws so fans can pose it on all fours or standing up on two legs to tower over other figures in the Golden Archive collection.

74 The Toy Book | February 2023 |
Dungeons & Dragons Rakor | Source: Hasbro Photo: Mitchel Wu Toy Photography


Dungeons & Dragons

Starter Set: Dragons of Stormwreck Isle

Ages: 12+ | MSRP: $19.99

Available: Now

New players can begin their journey into the cooperative storytelling game Dungeons & Dragons with this updated starter set. The set contains the essential rules of the game plus everything players need to campaign as heroic characters caught up in an ancient war among dragons as they explore the secrets of Stormwreck Isle.


World’s Smallest Micro Figures

Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $6.99

Available: Spring 2023

Four new characters comprise Series 2 of the Dungeons & Dragons

World’s Smallest Micro Figures collection. Each 1.25-inch Micro Figure has three points of articulation and includes a mini collector case for display and storage, a figure stand, and accessories. Kids can collect Owlbear, Mimic, Bug Bear Fighter, and Acererak.



NERF x Dungeons & Dragons Collection

Ages: 8+

MSRP: $11.99-27.99

Available: Spring 2023

The entire family can turn the backyard into the Forgotten Realms with a full range of NERF x Dungeons & Dragons foam dart blasters and roleplay items. The line includes the Themberchaud dart-firing crossbow blaster, Rakor blaster (pictured), Palarandusk blaster, Holga’s Greataxe, and Xenk’s Daggersword.


Dungeons & Dragons Cartoon Classics

Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $24.99 | Available: Now

This series of 6-inch scale action figures is inspired by the animated Dungeons & Dragons adventures of the 1980s. Each figure comes with exclusive accessories and a die. Currently, kids can collect Bobby & Uni, Eric, Hank, and Diana, as well as a Target-exclusive deluxe Dungeon Master & Venger 2-pack for $49.99. Sheila and Presto will join the lineup this summer.

Dungeons & Dragons: The Yawning Portal

Ages: 12+ | MSRP: $55.99 | Available: Now

This fresh take on the D&D experience is designed for novice players and seasoned experts to enjoy on family game night. The Yawning Portal is a tavern that attracts fascinating adventurers with one thing in common: they’re famished and have unique tastes in food. As part of the tavern’s staff, players feed them by matching up food tokens with the orders pictured on their Hero card in an effort to earn colored gems and points along the way. The player with the most points at the end wins the game.


Some things about the Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair remain unchanged after a two-year hiatus.

For one, if you track steps, your counter is likely to go off the charts because there’s so much to cover and so much to see. It was great to be back and experience “trade show tired” again.

All kidding aside, the 49th edition of the show was considered a success in what organizers deemed “a transitional year” as the show was relaunched following the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a bit of a nail-biting time leading up to the opening of the show on Jan. 9. COVID mitigation restrictions and Hong Kong entry requirements were being continually revised, and the borders between Mainland China and Hong Kong opened just the day before, prompting a last-minute surge in attendance. Masking and daily rapid testing were this year’s norms, but even with all the concerns, the excitement in the halls was evident everywhere.

Combined, three concurrent shows — Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair, Hong Kong International Stationery & School Supplies Fair, and Hong Kong Baby Products Fair — drew more than 21,000 buyers from more than 100 countries and regions. Exhibitors were pleased — and perhaps a bit relieved — to see the number of buyers who traveled from around the world to see the latest products.

If the overall size of the fair seemed smaller, Sophia Chong, Deputy Director of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), organizer of the shows, notes that the ratio of buyers to exhibitors

in attendance was similar to peak years. Additionally, she says that as business travel stabilizes, organizers are optimistic about the future. Indeed, the Hong Kong government has introduced several subsidy programs to support exhibitors and buyers while encouraging participation in the event. Both short- and long-term programs underscore Hong Kong’s commitment to trade shows across all industries and are available to all exhibitors, with some limitations.

The physical fair was only part of the story, however, as HKTDC unveiled its Exhibition+ hybrid model, which buyers worldwide can use to participate in the Toys & Games Fair virtually. The platform is sophisticated, yet easy to use, and in our test runs, worked effectively to help find products and vendors. Several exhibitors mentioned that using the platform was effective in securing virtual and in-person meetings with buyers they might not have

been able to reach as efficiently on their own. Exhibition+ also provides access to the exceptional seminars and presentations presented under the Toys & Games Fair’s education program.


The show floor in Hong Kong has long been an excellent representation of the toy industry — both where it is and where it’s going. Walking the halls this year and talking to exhibitors, it’s clear that the industry continues to respond and react to changing consumer preferences in an effort to stay ahead of the market.

This year’s theme, “Play to Bond: Family and Beyond,” was well-chosen to highlight changes in play that grew out of the pandemic as well as the enduring power of play in families worldwide. In practical terms, this means expanded offerings in educational STEM toys, arts and crafts, games, and activities.

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Organizers welcomed guests to the opening of the 2023 HKTDC Toys & Games Fair on Jan. 9, 2023. | Source: Chris Byrne

One of the most noticeable differences this year was how few drones and electronic products were on display compared to 2020. Back then, you couldn’t walk down an aisle without seeing drones flying and R/C vehicles zipping about. We asked some of the companies still showing those products what happened, and for the most part, they said that the market for these toys has contracted due to slowing consumer demand and a switch to OEM (original equipment manufacturing) programs for retailers worldwide. OEM impacted more than electronics, however, as exhibitors said that for the U.S. and European markets they were increasingly being asked whether they would produce OEM goods in many categories, especially preschool, activity, and plush.


This year, in response to requests from attendees, the HKTDC implemented a “green toys” program, helping manufacturers promote their sustainability efforts through a leaf-shaped sign calling out eco-friendly products at each booth.

Peter Handstein, Founder and CEO of Hape Holding AG, says that he’s excited to see this trend going mainstream, adding that his company has been working with sustainable materials for 37 years and has been making products using bamboo for the past two decades. Hape has also introduced Korko building blocks, a line produced using cork. He notes that strong consumer awareness for sustainable goods helped drive a 20-30% increase in toy sales during the pandemic.


The “kidult” trend may be one of the hot, current news stories in the U.S., but it’s nothing new at the Toys & Games Fair. The show first identified these consumers and dedicated a special area of the show floor to kidult products a decade ago. Beautifully detailed collectibles targeting many different audiences were on display in Hong Kong, including numerous products featuring Sanrio characters and Ultraman, which remain hugely popular throughout Asia, according to representatives from Keepley. At the Enesco Asia

stand, buyers could explore high-end Disney ceramics, including Mickey and Minnie Mouse adorned with gold accents and rhinestone decorations.

In the construction category, Royal Toys showed an entire line of sets inspired by Hong Kong, including the iconic trams and Star Ferry, buildings, and parks, all in miniature versions geared toward adult builders. Sluban, another block-based company, showed its line of mini figures alongside floral sets and historic offerings like the Titanic.


The enforcement of intellectual property (IP) laws and increased education of the trade by the Hong Kong and Chinese governments paired with consumer demand for licensed goods fueled a boom at this year’s Toys & Games Fair.

While potentially infringing products can still be found throughout the street markets of Hong Kong, their numbers have diminished and there was no evidence of their presence on the show floor. Top entertainment properties, including Mattel’s Barbie and MGA Entertainment’s L.O.L. Surprise!, were on display and boldly advertised as “officially licensed.”


One of the most obvious developments even to a casual observer this year is the increased sophistication of design coming out of companies in Mainland China. It’s a huge change from even a few years ago, as new lines display original, contemporary looks that make them well-positioned for global markets — including high-end specialty stores. In the ride-on, baby, and preschool categories, there is an elegance and style that’s consistently impressive.

The passion for greatness in design is not limited to Chinese companies, either. Houston-based Mushie, an established designer baby products company, is expanding into toys this year, according to owner and CEO Henrik TØth Jensen.


Educational programming has consistently been one of the key features of

the Toys & Games Fair. This year’s lineup covered developments across retailing, operations, and overall industry trends.

Arnoldo Concepcion, Co-Chief Operating Officer of Animoca Brands, discussed how Web3 technologies, including NFTs, and blockchain, may influence play, engagement with properties, and interaction among kids. While he pointed out that these technologies are still in the early stages for toy applications, they are likely to have a major impact in the coming years.

Having made it through its trade show relaunch this year, the HKTDC says that planning is underway for its 50th anniversary Toys & Games Fair in 2024. Details are still under wraps, but the organizers promise expanded educational and networking opportunities in addition to greater entertainment options.

It’s not too early to start planning for next January’s trip to Hong Kong! Visit to explore a wealth of resources and updates regarding plans for the 2024 event.

Chris Byrne is a toy industry veteran with more than 30 years of experience working at toy companies, writing, and studying the business. In addition to writing for all of the major trade magazines, he has published seven books on toy-related themes, comments regularly on the business and child development as it relates to play, and co-hosts “The Playground Podcast.” Follow him on Instagram: @thetoyguy.

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The Hape Booth at the HKTDC show | Source: Chris Byrne

Brazil leads growth as families embrace emerging brands.

No matter what part of the world they live in, a need for connection, a desire to create, and a willingness to learn will always draw kids to toys. The recent growth of streaming services, digital content, and e-commerce platforms has made connecting with families in international markets easier than ever. And over the past few years, one fact has become clear: There is a huge audience waiting to play in Latin America.


Latin America (LATAM) is a flourishing region, and toymakers and distributors are discovering new ways to cater to the increased demand for toys in markets like Brazil and Mexico. According to Bonafide Research, the LATAM toy industry was worth $5 billion in 2021. Further research from The NPD Group indicates that arts and crafts, dolls, R/C, and ride-on toys have remained popular in the region. Fan events like Comic Con Experience (CCXP) and trade shows such as Abrin welcomed hundreds of thousands of visitors last year to experience the latest toys, games, and entertainment properties. While the market is growing, some regions still face economic hardships and retailers are using competitive pricing and well-recognized intellectual properties (IP) to engage consumers. NPD has found that American properties like Hot Wheels, Barbie, and Marvel’s Avengers dominate store shelves and playrooms throughout LATAM. However, there is a growing demand for smaller properties that come from digital influencers, Roblox, and

streaming services.

While business is growing in LATAM, challenges in the region can stifle projections. Sales can be impacted by reduced purchasing power, middle class retreat, rising inflation, and high unemployment rates. “Each territory has its regulations, its certifications, [and] its drawbacks,” says Federico Machabanski, CEO of Padres and Selectio, two South American toy manufacturers. LATAM is a huge market consisting of 33 countries, each with its own laws regarding imports, manufacturing, and distribution. “Argentina has great problems importing products and Brazil has certification regulations that are very difficult to comply with, and thus we can find different variables in each territory,” Machabanski explains.

Brazil stands out for its major achievements in the toy market through established retailers, dedicated manufacturers and licensors, and trade shows that welcome industry leaders.

Abrin, a trade show frequented by manufacturers, licensors, and distributors, is the largest such event in LATAM with more than 130 exhibitors and around 1,500 product launches annually. “There you will find stands of Brazilian manufacturers, Brazilian importers … most of the visitors are stores from Brazil or distributors from the interior of Brazil, and you can also find some customers from Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, and Paraguay, who visit the factories in Brazil to review their novelties,” Machabanski recounts.

Brazil also hosts CCXP, a fandom event that attracted a whopping 280,000

visitors last year. The attendance level exceeds that of New York Comic Con.

Last year, Mattel, Hasbro, Funko, and Iron Studios were among the major toy and collectible makers that had a presence at CCXP, alongside ZAG, the international entertainment studio that’s launching its ZAG Play Toy Division this year. ZAG’s booth featured decorations from Paris and New York to celebrate the Brazilian support of Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir.

Miraculous, an animated series following the adventures of two Parisian teenagers who moonlight as superheroes, airs on Mundo Gloob in Brazil. “More and more parents are seeking content that adds value to their children’s education, and therefore toys that are developed from that content are in demand,” says Angela Cortez, Vice President of Licensing, LATAM and Canada at ZAG . “This emotional connection makes it possible to see it as a ‘novel,’ in which the viewer waits for the next chapter to see what will happen. In fact, I think this is precisely one of the keys to our success in Latin America — we love soap operas.”


International manufacturers should understand the nuanced approach required to enter LATAM successfully, including obtaining licenses from properties that excite and inspire Brazilian kids. Typically, Brazilian manufacturers focus on non-licensed and traditional toys like ride-ons, puzzles, and large dolls. “They offer competitive prices that are more

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affordable to their target consumers,” says Jose Antonio Espinoza, Vice President of Business Development and General Manager of LATAM for Alpha Group USA. “The main difference between the U.S. and Brazil is that in Brazil there is not much innovation from manufacturers,” he explains. “Strong protectionist duties, which are the highest in LATAM, minimize motivation to invest in new technology and development of better toys. These duties also make Brazil’s retail prices the highest in the region.”

Despite the hefty price tag for toys in Brazil, data from The NPD Group still shows that the market is broadening, with a growth of 14% and revenue estimated at around $1.5 billion USD in 2021. Bonafide Research data points to a compound annual growth rate of more than 6% between 2022–2027.

The country also boasts a well-developed network of toy store chains, which is its main source of toy distribution. Retailers like Ri Happy, PB Kids, Cia Toys, Super Legal, and more provide a robust selection of toys that they obtain directly from manufacturers and distributors, or that they import directly. E-commerce in the region has also expanded since the creation of and, retail websites that cater

to LATAM consumers. This year, Babies “R” Us is returning to the region with 20 physical stores planned through a partnership between WHP Global and Brazil’s Ragabesh & Co.


Families in LATAM are embracing licensed toys that feature fan-favorite characters from shows and movies. In recent years, non-traditional media has had a massive impact on toy purchases due to the rise of international streaming services and the augmentation of kid-centered content on YouTube. This year, Machabanski believes newer properties will step into the spotlight. “Taking out the big licenses from Mattel, Disney, Marvel, etc; I think properties like Bluey, Supercute, and a few others will take center stage,” he says.

In the past, regional licensees have focused on evergreen IP to guarantee profits, but streaming services are powering growth for modern titles, including Bluey, Stranger Things, and other international hits that are connecting with the LATAM audience. “There is an aversion to risk in the LATAM market, due to the economic situation of certain countries, so perhaps we find [and avoid] very strong licenses in other territories of the world that are

not developed in LATAM, for fear that this license will not work in the region,” Espinoza explains. “I think it is something that should change since many Netflix and Youtube series and games like Roblox and Fortnite are a success. Little by little the market is adapting to all this.” The accessibility of content has sparked an interest in kids throughout LATAM that want products based on their favorite character, YouTube channel, or influencer when they walk up to that glimmering store shelf.

While recent developments continue throughout Latin America some experts believe the innovation and excitement is far behind places like Hong Kong, where the annual toy industry trade show circuit begins in January. “For now nothing replaces Hong Kong, not because of the HKTDC fair, but because of everything that happens in Kowloon’s Tsim Tsa Tsui region. Having all the offices, showrooms, and exhibits within 10 blocks — it’s something that will be hard to replace,” Machabanski says.

Just as the rise of inflation and the ever-constant pressure of China’s supply chain dilemmas have pushed American manufacturers and retailers to look elsewhere to source great toys and games, — including nearshoring and reshoring efforts — companies in Brazil, Mexico, and elsewhere are looking into how to best develop their own supply chain.

While there is much work left to be done, the foundation has been laid for LATAM as a growing market to which everyone in the global toy industry should be paying attention. 

Annabelle Canela is an Editorial Assistant at The Pop Insider, The Toy Insider, and The Toy Book. When she’s not writing about her favorite toys and fandoms, she loves creating poetry, taking her puppy to the park, and chefing up new creations in her Brooklyn kitchen. You can usually catch her reading Spider-Man comic books on the subway or eating dim sum in Chinatown. This New York City native has traveled all over the Caribbean, including to her family’s home country of Dominican Republic. Naturally, she does it all por mi gente.

The ZAG booth at CCXP 2022 was decked out in Miraculous style, with tons of photo opportunities for Brazilian fans. | Source: ZAG

2023 is poised to put the resilience of the business to the test.

On a global scale, there is no doubt that the toy industry fared better than most industries amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, our industry benefited strongly from the lockdowns, as parents desperate to occupy and entertain their offspring sought new toys and games to excite bored kids.

Prior to last year, we saw strong momentum before we hit the headwinds of higher inflation than most of us have experienced within our working lifetimes. The accelerated rate inevitably squeezes consumers and shrinks disposable incomes. That’s a clear threat to our industry, because if consumers have to choose between feeding, heating, and sheltering their kids or buying them toys, we know what will happen. Still, the toy industry tends to outperform others in the face of strong economic challenges. However, with inflation close to a rate of 8%, then “real” sales must increase by 8% in actual dollars for the market to remain flat.

At the start of 2023, it was difficult for a non-economist to predict what will happen with inflation — and it still is. But it seems likely that the rate will remain higher than we have been used to in previous decades. This likely means that some of the same challenges from last year will remain with us through the next sales cycle. That said, the other looming challenge is a potential recession, but the toy industry is famously “recession resistant.” Of course, most of us haven’t experienced a recession combined with high inflation, but a recession affects people on an individual basis more than inflation. Inflation applies to everyone, but not everyone

loses their job in a recession. So, in summary, while the macroeconomic picture is tough heading deeper into 2023, we know how resilient our industry is.



As always, there is a lot going on with plenty of moving and shaking happening behind the doors of the major toy and game companies. The larger companies have an extensive range of original content due for release this year, but a strong slate of toyetic movies is on the horizon, including some from proven franchises.

More broadly, the contacts that I speak with are discussing more focused ranges, and established industry creatives seem to be hustling harder than usual to find work. This suggests that product development budgets may have been trimmed across the board. If we look back to the global financial crisis of the late aughts/noughties, companies did cut back and focus on fewer, less risky product development initiatives. The big change since then is the breadth of product launch platforms and mediums that are now available. In the past couple of years,

my company has consulted with numerous upstart companies that developed products and went direct-to-consumer (D2C) via Amazon and other platforms. These companies have sold hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of units without any traditional sales channels and needed my help to access toy distribution. These newcomers arrive in our business with no industry baggage and with all the tech savvy to exploit opportunities without a large, long-standing infrastructure. This is both a threat and an opportunity to people in our business. Companies that adapt and pivot can take advantage while those who stick with the same old ways of doing things will find it harder and harder in tough times to even tread water. Industry newcomers can steal the lunch of slow-to-adapt established players.


Another area of our business that has experienced a challenging few years is sourcing and supply chain. We are living through a period of inevitable transition in terms of toy manufacturing, and while we may be focused on the next selling cycle and where our inventory is coming from for the next round of purchase orders we have to fill, we also need to be aware of ongoing changes in manufacturing. This includes the continued shift away from China for toy production.

In short, before China’s rise to prominence, we sourced toys from a combination of places, including factories in Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Haiti, Eastern Europe, etc. Then China opened up, and hundreds of millions of literally starving

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people with very low wage expectations became accessible to the global toy industry. From that point in the late 1970s, China began a meteoric rise in manufacturing capacity and capabilities.

Until around 10 years ago, China remained both incredibly efficient (comparatively speaking) and relatively cost-effective for toy production. A new challenge emerged as millions of people were lifted out of abject poverty and into aspirational positions where workers can find better work outside of the factories. The resulting labor shortage creates a new bottom line: The China of today is better suited to manufacture real automobiles versus toy cars.

China still manufactures more than 80% of the world’s toys, but this is an increasingly challenging status quo to hold onto. We can fall into the trap of looking too far into the future when most companies are just looking at the next 12 months. But if you suddenly need to move a lot of toy production to a different geographic region, it takes work, planning, and preparation. We can see this most clearly with publicly traded toy companies – these large corporate entities have

teams of people whose sole job function is to anticipate risk and reduce the chances of them materially affecting financial results. These companies also have larger amounts of manufacturing to move versus smaller companies. For example, I could help you move $1 million in toy production tomorrow, but $1 billion needs a more robust and strategic effort. Recently, several major toymakers have reported to shareholders that they are now sourcing 50% or more of their products from outside of China. If you haven’t questioned the role of China as your primary sourcing geography, shouldn’t this be some food for thought?

The biggest challenge in moving production is that worthy alternatives are limited. Vietnam is largely full and India has vast potential capacity and a cheap — and massive — labor pool, but has not yet taken advantage of the opportunities thus far. Other countries throughout Asia can pick up a bit of slack, and nearshoring is possible and therefore growing, but remains expensive. The reality is that there is no single perfect alternative to China, and as a result, toy companies will tend to need a multi-hub sourcing solution going

forward versus the single-hub model most are used to.

Just as it took China decades to become the primary manufacturing hub for the industry, its status in the supply chain continues to diminish over time while other hubs rise to prominence. While the state of geopolitics is above my pay grade, clearly the relationship between the U.S. and China is not as friendly as it once was. There is much talk of decoupling and “friendshoring” should tension truly come to a boil between these two great trading partners. Should that happen, then all bets are off and we can expect a frenzied race to find production capacity outside of China.

As ever, these are interesting times in the toy business, so here’s to hoping that 2023 pans out as well as can be expected, and let’s be thankful for the resilience of demand for great new toys and games. 

Steve Reece heads up Kids Brand Insight, a Europe-based toy industry consulting firm; and Toy Team Asia, a consulting firm focused on strategic toy sourcing. Toy factories may not look as whimsical as this digital design, but they’ll be booming this year. | Source:



1) Robo Alive Robo Turtle | Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $7.99 Available: Spring 2023

These turtle pets feature lifelike robotic actions that are inspired by real sea turtles. Kids can collect four colorful turtles that swim in water and crawl on land.

2) Pets Alive Pooping Puppies | Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $19.99 | Available: Fall 2023

This new line of puppies will cuddle, bark, and eat, but once their tummies are full, they’ll need to poop. There are three puppy styles to collect: pug, dalmation, and husky.

3) Smashers Dino Island T-Rex Battles | Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $44.99 | Available: Fall 2023

Kids can dig their way through sand and slime to discover dinosaur pieces that they can use to construct a pair of battling dinos. There are more than 50 surprises to smash, build, and battle with, including weapons and armor accessories.


Upbounders Block Party Board Game — An Ups and Downs Preschool Game | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $19.99

Available: Now

In this game developed in partnership with game design firm Gigantic Mechanic, players will race to the finish as they travel up and down the board. This classic ups and downs game gives players two choices as they move across the board: Springs take them up and bouncy house slides take them down. All along the way, kids will find scenes and illustrations from a block party. They will learn turn-taking, decisionmaking, and number sense skills in this game.

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Source: Diamond Select Toys


1) Spy Labs Incorporated | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $6.95-49.95 Available: 2023

This new line of forensic science activity kits and equipment includes 15 products, including a Fingerprinting Kit (pictured), Secret Message Tools, a Pocket Metal Detector, Night Vision Goggles, a Master Detective Toolkit, and more. Kids can explore and analyze the science behind detective work, mark secret hiding places with a tracking device, communicate with fellow detectives with spy walkie-talkies, and more.

2) Jurassic World: Dinosaur Dig — Triceratops, Giganotosaurus, and Velociraptor Claw | Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $19.95 | Available: Summer 2023

Kids can play the part of a paleontologist when they use the special hammer and chisel tools to excavate models of a fossilized Triceratops skeleton, a replica Velociraptor claw, and a Giganotosaurus figure. With this kit inspired by the Jurassic World franchise, kids can assemble and display the skeleton or wear the claw as a necklace with the included cord. As they play, they’ll learn about how fossils are formed and fun facts about each of the dinosaurs.

3) KAI: The Artificial Intelligence Robot | Ages: 12+ (10+ with help) MSRP: $99.95 | Available: Summer 2023

Kids can build and program an intelligent, six-legged, app-enabled robot that uses machine learning to react to kids’ gestures and sounds. KAI — short for Kosmos Artificial Intelligence — can walk on its six legs and rotate its upper body 360 degrees. KAI’s face is composed of 25 red LEDs that kids can program to show different expressions and scrolling messages. They can use the included app and their smart device’s microphone and camera to record physical gestures and sounds and assign them to KAI’s five functions: walk forward and backward, turn left and right, and stop. The AI will learn to recognize each gesture or sound, even if they differ in small details; the more data kids collect, the better the AI will learn. KAI also comes with an instruction manual that shows its build step by step and includes programming instructions, lessons in AI and robotics, and a comic book-style story.


1) Mi-Mic Karaoke Speaker | Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $49.99 Available: March 2023

Take the party on tour with the Mi-Mic Karaoke Speaker, a set complete with two wireless microphones. With a 10-hour battery life, the set connects to an SD card or a device for easy, spontaneous karaoke moments.

2) Mi-Mic Live | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $29.99 | Available: March 2023

Mi-Mic is a digital, wireless microphone that combines an audio experience with social media. An easy-to-use tool for aspiring social media stars, this set includes a clip-on microphone that connects with your device from up to 50 feet away. The set also comes with a clip-on ring light with 15 different settings to create selfies, vlogs, and more.

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1) My Little Pony Unicorn and Pegasus Plush

Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $14.99 | Available: Fall 2023

Kids can collect Unicorn and Pegasus plush toys designed to look like retro My Little Pony characters, including Firefly, Moondancer, and Glory. Each plush pony is about 8.5 inches tall, features brushable hair, and comes with a 40th anniversary-inspired comb.

2) My Little Pony Anniversary Original Ponies

Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $9.99 | Available: Fall 2023

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of My Little Pony, Basic Fun! will release 4-inch figures styled after the original Earth Po nies from 1983. The ponies in this collection include Blossom, Blue Belle, Butterscotch, Cotton Candy, Minty, and Snuzzle. Each figure comes with a 40th anniversary-inspired comb that kids can use to brush and braid the pony’s hair.

3) My Little Pony 2-inch Figures | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $3.99 | Available: Fall 2023

Modeled after the original 1980s My Little Pony ponies, these 2-inch surprise figures have shiny tails that kids can braid and brush. There are seven figures to collect, including Starflower, Cotton Candy, Ember, and two rare characters.


1) Bill Nye’s Rocket Lab VR | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $49.99

Available: Summer 2023

In this virtual reality (VR) game, kids will immerse themselves in the world of space with Bill Nye. They can discover the science behind how rockets fly, orbit the earth, land on the moon, and more with this VR kit that includes a 32-page, interactive book; VR goggles; and dozens of experiences in the VR realm. Kids will learn about rockets from never-before-seen NASA footage of the latest moon launch, then take their own trip in a customizable rocket built from the materials included in this kit. The set includes enough fuel for multiple rocket launches.

2) Penn & Teller Magic Lab VR | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $49.99

Available: Spring 2023

Discover an on-stage magic experience with this Penn & Teller VR kit. Kids can gain confidence with magic and hone their creativity by learning and performing a selection of popular magic tricks. They can learn the tricks from the 50 step-by-step videos, and then get hands-on with the free app, downloadable in the Apple or Google Play stores.

3) Professor Maxwell’s VR Atlas | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $69.99 | Available: Now

Kids can jet across continents and countries without ever having to pack bags with this VR atlas. The second edition of this VR Atlas kit comes with a 144-page, interactive, illustrated atlas that has nine additional countries; added populations; new experiences; and more. Kids can discover cities, cultures, and continents through VR experiences.
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Piñata Smashlings — Rainbow Whale Playset | Ages: 5+ MSRP: $29.99 | Available: Spring/Summer 2023

Welcome to the Piñataverse, home to hundreds of little characters, called the Piñata Smashlings. Piñata Smashlings are cheeky creatures that live inside of a Piñata and need to be released from their Piñata pods. This articulated rainbow whale has a Smashlings drop feature and includes two exclusive Piñata Smashlings, two rare Piñata Smashlings, three charms, and accessories.


The Spirograph Doodle Pad | Ages: 5+ MSRP: $19.99 | Available: Now

Kids can create Spirograph designs on the LCD screen using wheels, then save and display their colorful artwork. This mess-free kit requires no paper or markers so kids can draw at home or on the go. When they are ready, kids can push the button to reset the screen and draw again.


1) Goodnight Daniel Tiger (JAKKS Pacific) | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $19.99 | Available: Fall 2023

Get ready for bed with Daniel Tiger and this five-piece set. Kids will learn about bedtime routines by helping Daniel Tiger wash up, put on his pajamas, and prepare for sleep. The set comes with a 7-inch Daniel Tiger figure, a pajama set, a red sweater,

2) Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Hop & Squeak Pogo Hopper (Waloo) | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $12.99 | Available: Spring 2023

Bounce around in style with Daniel Tiger on this officially licensed Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood pogo hopper. Kids can easily hold onto the comfort-grip handles while they work on their balancing skills.

3) Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Mini Bowling Set (Waloo) Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $9.99 | Available: Spring 2023

Set ‘em up and then strike ‘em down! This officially licensed Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood mini bowling set can help teach preschoolers how to bowl. Kids can play with this set inside or outside and take it on the go.

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PYXEL A Coder’s Best Friend | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $124.99

Available: Spring 2023

PYXEL is an interactive pet that teaches its owner new tricks. Kids can use a computer or tablet to code this puppy pal and level up their coding skills from drag-and-drop coding language Blockly to advanced Python coding. When kids acti vate the code on their computer — or use the Code Activator to load and activate codes from anywhere — they can code the pet to do tricks, change color, make and react to sounds, and express emotions. With PYX EL, kids can learn early coding, critical thinking, and social and emotional development skills.


1) Marvel Stunt Squad | Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $9.99-24.99 | Available: Spring 2023


Neon Jumbo Squeeze Ball | Ages: 3+ MSRP: $21.99 | Available: Now

Squeeze and stretch the stress away! The Neon Jumbo Squeeze Ball is a large rubbery neon ball that kids can use as a fidget toy for tactile stimulation.

This new series of 1.5-inch figures and playsets packs big Marvel action into a small scale. The Marvel Stunt Squad Smashin’ Heroes Playset includes two figures, a launcher, and a destructible target base that kids can rebuild to discover multiple ways to take down the bad guys. The Hero Vs. Villain Playset (Captain America vs. Thanos pictured) includes two figures, a launcher, and a target base.

2) Transformers Studio Series Rise of the Beasts Figures | Ages: 8+ MSRP: $24.99-34.99 | Available: Now

This summer’s Transformers: Rise of the Beasts movie inspires the Transformers Studio Series Voyager 99 Battletrap and Transformers Studio Series Deluxe 100 Bumblebee action figures. The 4.5-inch Bumblee converts from robot to Chevrolet Camaro in 23 steps, while the 6.5-inch Battletrap (pictured) converts from robot to GMC tow truck in 30 steps. Both figures come with accessories and removable backdrop display scenes.

3) Star Wars: The Vintage Collection AT-ST & Chewbacca

Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $89.99 | Available: Spring 2023

Hasbro and Lucasfilm celebrate the 40th anniversary of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi with this premium, 3.75-inch-scale action figure and vehicle set. Inspired by the original Kenner toys from 1983, Chewbacca and the Empire’s AT-ST come in vintage-style packaging.

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1) Tropical Rainforest Jungle | Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $27.99

Available: Spring 2023

Kids will grow a variety of tropical rainforest plants from around the world in this specially designed biosphere. The included terrarium is packed with growing features, including side ventilation vents, a drainage basin, and a large viewing window for kids to observe the growing process. With this kit, they can grow plants such as bushy umbrella trees, angular dragon trees, and delicate china doll trees.

2) Tiny Terrarium Displays | Ages: 12+ | MSRP: $4.99

Available: Spring 2023

Kids can grow their own plants in these tiny terrariums. They will choose from either Cactus or Flowers options and watch as six different plants grow. Each globe is handmade and has a flat surface on the bottom to make sure it never rolls. The seeds will germinate in about a week and last for years.

3) I Love You Bean | Ages: 0+ | MSRP: $8.99 | Available: Spring 2023

When these romantic beans sprout, the words “I Love You” are engraved on the first pair of leaves that appear. These beans will sprout in five days and produce edible lima beans.


1) TMNT Gallery Leonardo PVC Diorama | Ages: 13+ | MSRP: $60 Available: Summer 2023

This 9-inch figure, designed by Kinetic Underground and sculpted by Sandro Luis Sampaio, is made of PVC and is packaged in a window box. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) fans can collect all four turtles atop their rooftop bases to form one big diorama.

2) Legends in 3D G.I. Joe Snake Eyes ½ Scale Bust | Ages: 13+ MSRP: $200 | Available: Summer 2023

Yo Joe! This Snake Eyes 10-inch bust is complete with sword hilts atop an Arashikage clan symbol base. Designed by Joe Allard and sculpted by Rocco Tartamella, this collectible includes a numbered certificate of authenticity.

3) Star Wars The Book of Boba Fett Krrsantan 1:6-Scale MiniBust (Gentle Giant) | Ages: 13+ | MSRP: $150

Available: Summer 2023

Let the Wookiee win! This approximately 6-inch resin bust of the black-furred Krrsantan features detailed sculpting and paint application. The collectible comes in a full-color box with a numbered certificate of authenticity.

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1) Magic Sketch Creativity Kit | Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $34.99

Available: Summer 2023

Kids can get creative with this kit that includes Boogie Board’s bestselling Magic Sketch reusable drawing tablet with Colorburst technology, creativity tools, and templates for educational play. The kit includes a clear storage bag to hold all the contents.

2) Sketch Pals Forest Friends | Ages: 4+ | MSRP $19.99

Available: Summer 2023

Boogie Board’s Sketch Pals collection expands with three new additions this year. Kids can doodle with Felix the Fox, Morris the Moose, and Izzy the Owl. Sketch pads are portable, clippable, reusable drawing tablets that come with a stylus that kids can use to create art on the go.



MINTiD Dog-E | Ages: 5+

MSRP: $79.99

Available: October 2023

Kids can get a new best friend with the MINTiD Dog-E. Each robotic dog has its own unique mix of lights and colors and uses special technology to communicate with its owner. Kids can use the Dog-E app to train the dog to learn its name, do tricks, track its needs, and give it treats. Family members can make their own profiles with the app, so they can each take care of and build a relationship with the dog.

1) Dissect-It Synthetic Dissection Kits (Top Secret Toys) | Ages: 6+ MSRP: $15.99 | Available: Now

Science meets sensory learning with this colorful series of gelatin-based dissection kits. Each set contains STEM-based lessons so that kids can learn about the anatomy of animals in a fun, safe, and interactive way. Dissect-It Kits come with tools and two refill gel packs so that kids can can play again and again. Top Secret Toys products are available to specialty toy and gift retailers exclusively through Tangle Creations this year.

2) GigaPets Virtual Pets (Top Secret Toys) | Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $15.99+

Tangle Creations brings Top Secret Toys’ GigaPets to specialty toy stores and gift retailers for the first time. The classic, digital pet from the 1990s has been redesigned and re-imagined with brand new animations and graphics. Kids can feed their pet, play games, teach them tricks, and watch them grow.

3) PreCasso Plus (Top Secret Toys) | Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $24.99 | Available: Spring 2023

Budding artists can learn to draw one line at a time with this electronic art set that teaches kids how to draw more than 50 images. The step-by-step instructions include designs for plants, animals, and a multitude of different objects.

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1) Living on the Veg | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $7.99-14.99

Available: Spring 2023

Living on the Veg is a line of 6- and 12-inch plush characters. The first wave of Living on the Veg, the FunGuys, is hitting retailers in the spring followed by new waves of veggies every season.

2) Adopt Me! Queen Bee Squishmallows | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $19.99

Available: Spring 2023

The latest Squishmallows character will be the crowning jewel of kids’ collections. The blue bee features sparkly gold wings and stripes for a royal flair.


Look and Find 3D

Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $10.99

Available: May 23, 2023

PI Kids introduces Look and Find 3D, a series of books that come with 3D glasses. Kids can discover 100 hidden objects and characters in scenes that appear to jump from the page. Look and Find books are designed to encourage focus, exploration, and fun for young readers. Titles include Marvel, Disney’s Moana, and Jurassic World, each sold separately.


1) Jurassic World CAPTIVZ Build N Battle 30th Anniversary Slime Egg

Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $4.99 (single); $12.99 (three-pack) | Available: Now

These Slime Eggs celebrate the 30th anniversary of Jurassic Park collectible dinosaur species from the original movie and rare dinosaurs to find, including a gold baby velociraptor. Kids can crack the egg, ooze through the stretchy amber slime to find their collectible species, and build the dinosaur figure to battle with friends. Each egg contains a Build N Battle dinosaur, amber slime, a collector guide, and a collector card. They are available in single and three-packs.

2) Jurassic World CAPTIVZ Build N Battle 30th Anniversary Surprise Egg | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $9.99 | Available: Now

This Surprise Egg features three dinosaur species to collect from the original Jurassic Park movie to celebrate the film’s 30th anniversary. Kids can dig through sand, chip through amber sap gel, and ooze through Biosyn Lab slime to discover which exclusive dinosaur figures are inside. Each Surprise Egg contains a super-size Build N Battle dinosaur figure, amber sap gel, sand, slime, a sticker sheet, and a collector guide.

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VIP Pets Bow Power | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $14.99

Available: Spring 2023

Each pet character comes with more than eight surprises, including a brush, a ribbon, a styling accessory, a decoration accessory, sunglasses, and a tiara for hairstyling play. There are six characters to collect. Kids can choose their characters thanks to the new package design.


Constellation AirFort | Ages: 3+

MSRP: $59.99 | Available: Now

Kids can bring the night sky into any room with this space-themed AirFort that inflates using a standard box fan. It comes with a Constellation Guide that kids can use to explore and discover constellations like Ursa Major and Orion on the AirFort’s glowin-the-dark fabric.


1) Shimmer ‘n Sparkle Light Up Beauty Studio | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $29.99

Available: Now

With this all-in-one beauty center, kids can use the 28 real lip, cheek, and eye colors to create different trendy makeup and beauty looks. The kit also comes with a ring light, a built-in phone stand accessory, and illustrated cards to help kids narrate their own beauty story just like their favorite social media influencers. They can use the cards for inspiration or create their own looks to show off their style.

2) Shimmer ‘n Sparkle Glitter & Shimmer Airbrush Designer Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $29.99 | Available: Fall 2023

Kids can design with cool airbrush effects and create shimmering nail art for salon-style nails at home. With this kit, they can create hundreds of nail designs; they simply polish, spray, and design. The air pump doesn’t require any batteries, so it’s easy to use and ready to go anytime. The set includes nail polish, glue, glitter, sequins, gems, stickers, and more.

3) Shimmer ‘n Sparkle Glam & Go Beauty Caddy | Ages: 8+

MSRP: $21.99 | Available: Fall 2023

This all-in-one beauty caddy features everything kids need to create hundreds of looks for their face, lips, and nails. All of these mini, travel-size makeup essentials fit into the portable travel case for on the go glam.

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1) Little Live Pets — Hug N Hang Zoogooz | Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $14.99

Available: July 2023

Hug N Hang Zoogooz bring squish and stretch to the Little Live Pets brand. There are three Zoogooz — Sloth, Monkey (pictured), and Koala — each with linking hands, tactile textures, and goo-filled arms. Their arms stretch out wide to hug and hang anywhere. The Zoogooz feature more than 60 sounds and reactions; kids can pat their heads to hear them sing or shake them to hear them giggle. They also feature blinking eyes.

2) Magic Mixies Color Surprise Magic Cauldron | Ages: 5+ MSRP: $19.99 | Available: Now

This smaller, non-electronic version of the Magic Mixies Magic Cauldron features a colorful reveal. Kids can add bubble dust, use the naming scroll to write the name of the soon-toarrive Mixie, and then finish it off with the aqua potion. The cauldron will bubble and fizz and when it stops, kids can lift the lid to find a Mixie plush with six color change surprises, including a color-changing wand, a cauldron gem, a Mixies gem, a distinguishing belly mark, and a magical elixir. When kids heat up the Mixie plush’s tail, it changes color, too. Kids can collect all six rainbow color-themed Mixies.

3) Treasure X Lost Lands Skull Island Golden Treasure Temple | Ages: 4+ MSRP: $39.99 | Available: July 2023

This mega-size playset is 16.5 inches tall and features 40 levels of adventure. It comes with four micro-size figures that kids can discover, as well as a guaranteed real gold-dipped treasure. The set consists of four new compounds — Snake Pit Ooze, TPR Snakes, Metallic Slime, and Crackle Statue — for kids to discover. It also includes obstacles for explorers to dodge, such as a boulder, a snake pit, a crush wall, and more.


1) LEGO Art Hokusai — The Great Wave | Ages: 18+ | MSRP: $99.99

Available: Now

This LEGO Art set includes more than 1,800 pieces and depicts Hokusai’s The Great Wave. While kidults piece together the work of art, they can enjoy the accompanying soundtrack to enhance their creative experience and help them relax. The finished product features a 3D effect and decorative tiles with Hokusai’s signature. LEGO lovers can display the finished piece on the wall.

2) LEGO Icons Wildflower Bouquet | Ages: 18+ | MSRP: $59.99

Available: Now

Adults can build flowers that can live forever. Featuring eight species of bright wildflowers, the vibrant bouquet is crafted entirely from LEGO pieces. The flowers have adjustable stems, so builders can piece together a custom bouquet to display.

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1) Star Wars Grogu Tamagotchi | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $27.99 Available: Now

The iconic ‘90s toy comes back in an officially licensed Star Wars Grogu Tama gotchi. Kids must care for Grogu by entertaining him. The way they care for him will change him into one of 12 different appearances, including three secret styles. The game comes with a chain for on-the-go fun and a Grogu-themed silicone case.

2) Original Tamagotchi Celebration (Neon & Pop) | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $25 | Available: Now

Celebrate the original ‘90s digital pet with this Tamagotchi that features a neon shell with pops of color and two exclusive, neon-yellow charms. The game comes with all the original programming, so kids will feed their Tamagotchi, clean up after it, take care of it, and discipline it. The way that little ones care for their Tamagotchi impacts how it does in the game and which adult Tamagotchi they’ll end up with.


1) Extraordinary Noorah: Santa’s Magical Arctic Fox Ages: 3+ | Available: Holiday 2023

This 32-page illustrated book follows Noorah as she discovers that she can cause the northern lights and pause time with her tail. She uses her gifts to shield Santa’s sleigh so he can travel the world in one night.

2) Elf Pets Cheer Checkup Set | Ages: 3+ | Available: Holiday 2023

Kids can take care of their Elf Pets using this checkup set. The set comes with a cheer cuff, furmometer, care chart, and grooming brush. Using their imagination, kids will make sure that their elves are in tip-top shape.

3) Scout Elves at Play Peppermint Train Ride Ages: 3+ | Available: Holiday 2023

Imaginative play takes a festive twist with the Peppermint Train Ride set, which includes an inflatable train and paperboard tunnel standee. Kids can take their elves on wild holiday adventures or display their set.


Snorble | Ages: 0+ | MSRP: $299 Available: Summer 2023

As kids engage with Snorble, they engage in an interactive experience that is based on proprietary natural language processing, as well as psychological and scientific research. With a focus on healthy habit building, social-emotional development, and educational advancement, this AI robot guides kids through a better bedtime routine to prepare them for healthy habits in their future.

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1) Scribble Scrubbie Pets Glow Ocean Treasure Chest | Ages: 3+ MSRP: $14.99 | Available: February 2023

With this playset, kids can dive into a treasure-filled adventure. The set includes two glow animal figurines, three washable markers, a scrub brush, a glow-in-the-dark flag to attach to the markers, and a stackable chest that doubles as a scrubbie tub. Using the included markers, kids will design their own sea crew to take on the high seas.

2) Wixels Animal & Unicorn Activity Kits | Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $14.99 Available: February 2023

Pixel art is made easy with the Wixels activity kits. Each kit comes with two panels, two maps, and eight washable markers. Kids can follow the color map to create pixel art or create their own designs. When kids are done designing, they can wash off the panels and start the process over again.

3) Travel Glow Art Studio | Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $14.99 | Available: February 2023

Kids can color through the night at home or on the go with the Travel Glow Art Studio. Kids use the battery-operated light wand as a drawing tool to light up the glow pad. The pad has suction cups to display on windows or walls, but each drawing eventually fades so kids can start over again.


1) My First Barbie Assortment | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $24.99 Available: Now

My First Barbie is a new doll line designed especially for preschoolers. The larger, 13.5-inch dolls are easier to dress with simple closures and feature poseable, soft-touch bodies.

2) Fisher-Price Little People Collector Seinfeld

Ages: 12 MOS+ | MSRP: $24.99 | Available: Now can display this Little People Collector figure set featuring Jerry Seinfeld holding a microphone, Cosmo Kramer holding a chicken leg, Elaine Benes, and George Costanza holding a chocolate éclair. The package features imagery of Jerry’s apartment and a stand-up comedy stage.

3) The Hot Wheels Skate Taco Truck Play Case | Ages: 5+ | MSRP: $24.99 Available: Spring 2023

The Hot Wheels Skate collection expands with this food truck-themed playset. It comes with a fully assembled, exclusive fingerboard that was designed in collaboration with skateboarding legend Tony Hawk and removable skate shoes that kids can store on the truck itself. The truck features a grind rail, vertical ramp, and picnic table, and has space to store additional boards and shoes.

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Mini Waffle City Food Truck | Ages: 5+ MSRP: $39.99

Available: Now

Kids can build Chef Franko’s food truck with this 148-piece Mini Waffle set. It comes with a 40-page instruction booklet and two new figures: Chef Franko and Monika. This set is compatible with other sets in the Mini Waffle City series, each sold separately.


HALFTOYS Animal Collection | Ages: 3+ MSRP: $11.99-17.99

Available: Now

HALFTOYS combine tactile and imaginative play patterns into a designer form. Kids can learn about different animals across multiple themes: Half Dino, Half Ocean (pictured), Half Animal, and Half Baby. Each toy consists of a magnetic shell with a multi-piece bone puzzle inside and comes with a diorama that can be connected to others from each theme. Half Baby animals each come with a miniature cradle and a diaper.


My Pet Molecule | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $12.99 | Available: Now These collectible characters teach kids about science through molecules . There are three My Pet Molecules to collect: Molly Methane, Willy Water, and Nacho Nitro, each sold separately. They have a space-themed backstory about a mission to educate kids about science in order to save Earth.


Goki Nature Dump Truck | Ages: 3+

MSRP: $97.59 | Available: Now

This heirloom-quality, two-tone, wooden dump truck is designed to appeal to both toddlers and kidults. Kids can pretend to be on a construction site with the working dump bed and freewheeling tires, while adults can display this truck in their home or office.


Moonlite Disney Princess Edition 4 Stories Collection with Projector | Ages: 0+ MSRP: $48 | Available: Now

Moonlite turns storytime into a magical experience by projecting big, bright storybook images onto the ceiling or wall, straight from a mobile device using a clip-on projector. This new gift pack comes with a Moonlite Projector and four Disney Princess picture discs: The Little Mermaid (pictured), Moana (pictured), Mulan, and Snow White. Additional gift packs including Mickey & Friends and The World of Eric Carle are also available.



Hasbro’s Transformers brand returns to theaters for this globe-trotting film set in the 1990s that introduces Maximals, Predacons, and Terrorcons to the existing battle on Earth between the Autobots and Decepticons. Hasbro and its licensing partners will unleash a full range of new toys and consumer products tied to the release. In theaters June 9 (Paramount)

It’s been a rough road for the world of licensed toys over the past few years, but 2023 is looking like something of a rebirth when it comes to toys and games inspired by entertainment content. Audiences are starting to make their way back into theaters, and this year’s release lineup offers hope that great storytelling will inspire countless hours of play for kids and kids at heart. Here are some big releases that retailers should have on their radar as new licensed toys and games roll out in the months ahead! 


Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg produce this animated reboot of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise that leans into the “teenage” element of the lore. Playmates Toys, Funrise Toys, and other manufacturers will offer an extensive new line of toys and consumer products inspired by the film. In theaters Aug. 4 (Paramount)


Mattel’s iconic doll goes liveaction for the first time in a film that’s primed to unite a cross-generational audience. A massive assortment of toys and consumer products will roll out to support the film in the months ahead. Upon the release of its first teaser trailer, Mattel President and Chief Operating Officer Richard Dickson commented, “Whatever you think it is, it’s not.” In theaters July 21 (Warner Bros.)


Nintendo and Illumination bring the world of Super Mario Bros. to the big screen in an animated adventure that features the voice talents of Chris Pratt as Mario, Anya Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach, Charlie Day as Luigi, Jack Black as Bowser, Keegan-Michael Key as Toad, Seth Rogen as Donkey Kong, Fred Armisen as Cranky Kong, Kevin Michael Richardson as Kamek, and Sebastian Maniscalco as Spike. JAKKS Pacific and other manufacturers will support the theatrical release with full collections of new products. In theaters April 7 (Universal)


Coming to theaters this year:

• Shazam! Fury of the Gods (Warner Bros.)

• Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (Marvel Studios)


Harrison Ford is back in action as the whip-cracking archaeologist Indiana Jones in the fifth film in the long-running franchise. Hasbro will offer a line of toys and collectibles for kids and adults. In theaters June 30 (Lucasfilm)


DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls franchise is back for a three-quel that arrives more than three years after the COVID-19 pandemic derailed the release plan for Trolls World Tour in 2020. Mattel and Moose Toys are among the major players set to release their first Trolls toys this fall. In theaters Nov. 17 (Universal)


The 62nd feature film from Walt Disney Animation Studios puts the famed “Wishing Star” at the center of the action. While little is known about the film at this time, JAKKS Pacific is among the companies set to offer toys and role-play items inspired by it. In theaters Nov. 22 (Disney)


The Ghostbusters head back to New York City in the sequel to Ghostbusters: Afterlife. With production set to begin this spring, the rumor mill indicates that the tight timeline to meet a holiday season release may be a ruse. Should the film — and its toys — be bumped into 2024, they would arrive in time for the 40th anniversary of the franchise. In theaters Dec. 15 (Sony)

• Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Sony)

• The Flash (Warner Bros.)

• Ladybug & Cat Noir: The Movie (ZAG)

• The Marvels (Marvel Studios)

• Blue Beetle (Warner Bros.)

• Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (Warner Bros.)

+ Toyetic streamers to watch for:

• Caillou (HBO Max)

• Power Rangers Cosmic Fury (Netflix)

• Monster High 2 (Paramount+)

Photos courtesy of Marvel Studios, Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures, and Warner Bros. Discovery



1) AEW Unmatched Owen Hart Series 6 | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $19.99 | Available: Spring 2023

Kids can become wrestling champions with this 6-inch action figure inspired by Owen Hart’s early wrestling gear. The figure comes with an alternate head and a championship belt accessory.

2) Star Wars Micro Galaxy Squadron Series 3 | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $5.99-39.99

Available: Spring 2023

The latest Star Wars Micro Galaxy Squadron series includes micro vehicles from the Star Wars saga with detailing, playable action features, and articulated micro figures. Ships are sold individually and in Scout Class, Light Armor Class, and Starfighter Class mystery packs.


1) Akedo Beast Strike Serpent Fury Arena | Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $49.99

Available: July 2023

This ultimate arena boasts more than 40 sound effects. It is the first Akedo arena to feature warrior-beast interactivity, in which players have to win two battles, against the Akedo Warrior and the serpent beast. It comes with two exclusive, ultra-rare warrior figures that mount onto the controllers, which also contain the built-in serpent beast. Players start battling with the warriors and can switch the controller at any time to unleash the serpent. The victorious opponent claims the win by smashing the split-strike button to turn off the defeated beast’s health light.

2) Heroes of Goo Jit Zu Deep Goo Sea Triple Goo King Hydra | Ages: 4+

MSRP: $39.99 | Available: July 2023

King Hydra is an ultra-rare character in the Heroes of Goo Jit Zu line. This new, deep sea version has three heads and triple goo fillings: rheoscopic fluid, glucose, and water beads. This 9.5-inch figure’s three heads each have a different feature: the first launches a projectile, the second has lights and sounds, and the third has a stretchy neck.

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Source: Hasbro


1) Bakugan Legends Collection Pack | Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $29.99 | Available: Now

The Bakugan Legends Collection Pack has everything kids need to brawl right out the box. The pack includes four transforming Bakugan, including a light-up Nova Bakugan; six BakuCores; collectible character and ability cards, gate cards, and more.

2) Wizarding World Micro Magical Moments Collectibles | Ages: 6+ MSRP: $3.99 (single packs), $9.99 (multipack), $12.99 (Pivotal Scene Pack) Available: Fall 2023

These 1.5-inch-scale collectibles feature short, stylized versions of kids’ favorite Harry Potter characters. Kids can unbox and collect 15 characters, which each come with a portrait display case. The blind-boxed characters are available in single packs (pictured) and multipacks. The line also includes Pivotal Scene Packs, which depict iconic scenes from the Harry Potter films.

3) Tech Deck Pro Boards | Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $69.99 | Available: Spring 2023

Kids can practice their fingerboarding skills with Tech Deck’s new Pro Boards, which are replicas of the original pro decks ridden by pro skaters. These boards are crafted with premium materials, including seven-ply wooden decks, dual durometer wheels, polished metal trucks, real bearings, and patterned foam grips.


1) Disney Doorables Squish’Alots Series 1 | Ages: 5+ MSRP: $9.99 | Available: Spring 2023

Kids can open the front door of the tower-shaped capsule to find the first blind bag, then twist the roof to find additional squishy figures. Series 1 fea tures a total of 50 characters from Disney and Pixar films to collect. Each figure stands approximately 1 inch tall. Kids can reuse the capsule container to store, display, or play with the figures.

2) Disney Doorables Multi Peek Series 9 | Ages: 5+

MSRP: $11.99 | Available: Spring 2023

Each package contains either five, six, or seven 1.5-inch surprise Disney Doorables figurines. Series 9 features 50 new characters from Disney and Pixar movies, including ones with pearlized, translucent designs; metallic styles; and limited-edition versions of popular characters. This series also features special editions of Mulan characters to celebrate the movie’s 25th anniversary.

Noorah Action Figure Set

Ages: 3+ | Available: Holiday 2023

This set is based on the book

Noorah: Santa’s Magical Arctic Fox, which tells the story of Noorah, a fox who saves Christmas with her magic tail. The set includes an articulated Noorah action figure; a Santa’s Great White Owl action figure; and Noorah’s home, a plastic snow cave with a hinged door.

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1) Sonic Prime Articulated Action Figures 1 Piece Packed in a Capsule Ages: 5+ | MSRP: $4.99 | Available: Summer/Fall 2023

Inspired by the Netflix Original animated series Sonic Prime, these 3-inch action figures come inside a capsule that turns into Sonic’s famous loop. There are eight different characters to collect, each with articulated arms and legs.

2) Sonic Prime Figures 8-Pack Deluxe Box (S1) | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $19.99 Available: Summer/Fall 2023

Each Deluxe Box contains eight 2.5-inch figures inspired by Sonic Prime, including two rare figures hidden behind the packaging. There are 16 styles to collect in total.

3) Pudgy Penguins NFT Figures 1-Pack Window Box (S1) | Ages: 13+ MSRP: $12.99 | Available: Spring/Summer 2023

The Pudgy Penguin NFT line is launching its first tangible toy line, featuring the good vibes and positivity for which these metaverse characters are known. There are four styles of 4.5-inch figures available. Each figure comes with a redemption code and an original Pudgy Penguin birth certificate, which the collector can sign and scan to find digital surprises.


1) Wizarding World Collection | Ages: 9+ Available: September 2023

Characters and creatures from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter join the Schleich lineup this fall. At launch, the line includes six of the series’ main characters and their animal companions plus six fantastical creatures, including Dobby (pictured), Firenze the centaur, and more.

2) Noriker Stallion | Ages: 3+ MSRP: $8.99 | Available: Now

With white socks on its hind legs, the otherwise pitch-black Noriker stallion figure is one of the newest additions to Schleich’s Farm World collection.

3) Great Dane | Ages: 3+ MSRP: $8.99 | Available: Now

A new addition to the Farm World collection, this textured, all-black Great Dane figure stands playfully on its long legs.


Care Bears Little Besties Surprise Figures and Play Cubbies Assortments | Ages: 4+ MSRP: $2.97-7.97 | Available: May 2023

Kids can explore the world of Care Bears in a micro scale with the Lil’ Besties line. These Care Bears figures are 1.25 inches tall, with more than 30 styles to collect and more than 70 accessories to mix and match. The collection also includes

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1) L.O.L. Surprise! Sunshine Makeover Dolls | Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $9.99

Available: Now

Kids and collectors can unbox fan-favorite L.O.L. Surprise! dolls in a new theme. Each doll has a unique, ultraviolet color-change transformation, along with seven new surprises to unbox.

2) L.O.L. Surprise! Loves Mini Sweets Series 2 | Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $9.99

Available: Now

The Mini Sweets collection expands with another wave of collectible L.O.L. Surprise! Dolls that feature officially licensed sweets brands. Kids can discover an array of new dolls and accessories inspired by PEEPS, ICEE, Airheads, and more.

3) Sooo Mini! L.O.L. Surprise! Dolls | Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $9.99 Available: Now

Each collectible doll comes with a unique hair play feature: smaller orbs that kids can detach to reveal additional surprises. There are 12 characters to collect, and each features a water surprise when kids feed them water from the included bottle.


ZAG Heroez Miraculous Miraball | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $9.99

Available: Fall/Winter 2023

Each Miraball is a 2.75-inch metal ball with a 4-inch plush Kwami inside. There are 22 no-waste Miraballs in the initial launch, including Kwamis from the show and 12 Kwamis inspired by the Zodiac. Kids can also collect the T&S Croissant, Macaron, and yo-yo.


1) Legends of Laughter Wave 1 | Ages: 12+ | MSRP: $36.99 | Available: Spring 2023

This line of figures spotlights some of the most iconic comedians of their time, including Bill Hicks, Joan Rivers (pictured), and Lenny Bruce. Each figure comes with a stool and a microphone.

2) Robo Force Wave 2 | Ages: 12+ | MSRP: $49.99 | Available: Holiday 2023

The latest Robo Force wave features two new 7.5-inch action figures: HunDred (pictured) and SOTA. The figures come in Graphine-inspired window boxes.

3) The Great Garloo | Ages: 12+ | MSRP: $19.99 | Available: Spring 2023

This 3-inch collectible is inspired by the classic ‘60s toy. Now collectors can add this miniature version of the Great Garloo to their shelves.

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1) Indiana Jones Whip-Action Indy | Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $24.99 | Available: Spring 2023

This large-scale Indiana Jones figure features whip action and more than 10 sound effects and phrases from the Indiana Jones films. This figure is part of a new range of toys inspired by archaeologist Indiana Jones ahead of this summer’s new movie.

2) Transformers Legacy Evolution Comic Universe Tarn | Ages: 8+

MSRP: $34.99 | Available: May 2023

The Transformers Legacy Evolution collection celebrates nearly 40 years of Transformers history. The Comic Universe Tarn figure is inspired by the IDW Transformers comics and can convert from robot to tank mode in 28 steps. Tarn has Evo-Fusion battle features that kids can use to rearrange the toy’s blaster barrels into different configurations.

3) Power Rangers Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin x Cobra Kai Daniel LaRusso Morphed White Crane Ranger 6-inch Action Figure | Ages: 4+

MSRP: $27.99 | Available: April 2023

Wax on … it’s Morphin time! The Power Rangers franchise collides with Netflix’s bra Kai for a series of mashup action figures, including this version of Daniel LaRusso. It comes with an alternate head, an accessory scarf, alternate hands, and a blast effect piece.


1) Anime Heroes — Bleach

Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $19.99

Available: Now

These 6.5-inch action figures feature Ichigo Kurosaki (pictured) and Renji Abarai from the anime . They have more than 16 points of articulation, character-specific accessories, extra sets of hands, and more.

2) Dragon Ball Super Dragon Stars Hero

Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $19.99 | Available: Now Dragon Ball Super: Super , these 6.5-inch action figures let kids step into the Dragon Ball universe. They can choose from fan-favorite characters, such as Goku (pictured) or collect them all to play out


Mighty Man 12-Inch Action Figure

Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $14.99

Available: Fall/Winter 2023

Following season one of Mighty Man, Smart Zone HK will release a 12-inch Mighty Man action figure. Mighty Man is wearing a white polo shirt and jeans with the Mighty Man logo on the shirt and belt buck le. The figure comes with a removable hard hat and hammer and says three phrases, including Mighty Man’s signature catchphrase, “It’s time to get mighty!” Kids can use the action figure to re-create their favorite scenes from Mighty Man or create their own stories.

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1) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Raphael and Leonardo with Motorcycle Figures

Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $49.99 | Available: Late Spring 2023

These Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures have a fresh look designed by comic book artist Matteus Santolouco. Raphael (pictured) and Leonardo have 31 points of artic ulation, several hand grips, their signature weapons, two different heads, and a motorcy cle that matches their signature color. Michelangelo and Donatello figures will follow in the fall.

2) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles BST AXN Wave 4 | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $21.99

Available: Spring 2023

The fourth wave of BST AXN characters includes 1:15-scale figures with several hand grips, 31 points of articulation, and signature accessories. This wave introduces April O’Neill with orange boots and a yellow jumpsuit; two variants of Casey Jones, one in color (pictured) and one in mono chrome; Rocksteady; and a purple metallic Krang with Walker. Each figure comes with accessories including exchangeable hands, heads, weapons, and more.

3) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles BST AXN XL 8-inch Series with Comic Book

Ages: 8+ MSRP: $39.99 | Available: Spring 2023

The Loyal Subjects continues its partnership with IDW with a new, 8-inch figure of Krang with Android. This figure opens at the waist to house Krang steering his robot, comes with a variety of accessories, and features 31 points of articulation. The figure also comes with a foil collector card and a “Best of Krang” comic.


1) 5 Surprise Mini Brands Disney Store Series 2 | Ages: 5+ | MSRP: $8.49 Available: Spring 2023

Kids can unwrap, peel, and reveal miniature versions of real Disney Store collectibles. There are more than 60 new miniatures to collect from brands including Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars, Mickey Mouse & Friends, and Disney Princesses.

2) 5 Surprise Mini Brands Fashion Series 2 | Ages: 5+ | MSRP: $9.99 Available: Spring 2023

More than 100 fashion accessory surprises join 24 trendy new, miniature fashion bags for kids to discover and collect. Each mystery capsule includes a fashion bag and four accessories.

3) 5 Surprise Mini Brands Toys Series 3 | Ages: 5+ | MSRP: $7.49 Available: Now

This Mini Brands collection expands with more than 90 new miniature versions of real toys from brands including Hasbro, K’NEX, NeeDoh, Tamagotchi, and more. Kids can unwrap and peel the ball-shaped capsule to discover five mystery miniatures in each pack.

112 The Toy Book | February 2023 |
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1) Disney 100 Surprise Capsules | Ages: 3+ MSRP: $12.99 | Available: Spring 2023

These surprise capsules celebrate Disney’s 100th anniversary and feature characters from both classic animations and recent theatrical releases. Each capsule comes with clues, scene cards, a character figure, a sidekick, and an accessory. The first series has 14 characters, including two rare chase characters. A second series will launch in the fall.

2) Jujutsu Kaisen Bobble Head Blind

Bag | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $7.99

Available: Fall 2023

Each of these 2.5-inch bobblehead figures is sculpted in a seated pose. There are eight designs to collect, all featuring first- and second-year Jujutsu Sorcerer students and their mentors from the manga and anime Jujutsu Kaisen


1) Honey Bee Acres Dress Up Pals | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $19.97

Available: Fall 2023

This set includes nine miniature flocked animal figures. Each poseable animal character is 2.25 inches tall and wears a removeable Halloween costume.

2) Cutie Loos Series 2 | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $5

This series features flocked animal characters with interchangeable hats and shoes that kids can mix-and-match. The new characters have a range of themes, from realistic to whimsical. Each set comes with two characters, two pairs of shoes, two hats, and two mystery accessories.


1) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: 4-inch Original Classic Storage Shell Turtle Basic Action Figures

Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $11.99

Available: Spring 2023

These turtle figures feature seven points of articulation and appear how the characters appeared in the ‘80s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TV series. Leonardo (pictured), Raphael, Michelangelo, and Donatello each boast storage shells that hold the characters’ signature accessories. Leo, for example, comes with two katanas, two ninja throwing stars, an armadillo club, a pizza disc, and two climbing claws. Other characters include Classic Foot Soldier, Bebop, Shredder, Rocksteady, Splinter, Leatherhead, and Krang.

2) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Classic Ninja Elite 6-inch Figures

Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $19.99

Available: Spring 2023

These figures feature characters from the 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles live-action film and the animated TV series from the ‘80s. The lineup includes Leonardo (pictured), which features 34 points of articulation and is dressed in his iconic fedora hat and trench coat with buttons, a belted waist, and buckle details.

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1) Cry Babies Magic Tears Tropical World | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $9.99 (Tropical Beach Babies); $12.99 (Tropical Shiny Shells) | Available: Spring 2023

The new Cry Babies Magic Tears Tropical World collection features two new series: Beach Babies and Shiny Shells. The Beach Babies feature more than 12 new characters, each dressed in a beach-themed outfit with more than eight accessories and surprises for kids to unbox. They cry real tears when kids feed them water. The Shiny Shells feature more than eight characters, each with its own seashell design. Kids can open the pearlescent capsule and dig into the sand compound to find surprise accessories. The Cry Babies cry sea foam colored tears.

2) Cry Babies Little Changers | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $9.99 | Available: Spring 2023

The Little Changers help teach the Magic Tears babies to turn small everyday acts into habits that will create a more environmentally friendly routine and help save the planet. The characters are smaller than the other Magic Tears collections, with six characters in total. Each comes in its own sustainable mini flower capsule that opens up to a person alized world with four activations and a water reveal. This eco-friendly toy is made with all recycled materials.

3) Bloopies Fairies Moonlight | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $9.99 | Available: Spring 2023

Each of these characters comes inside a fairy wing-shaped glitter vessel that includes more than five surprises. When kids place the doll on top of the vessel, its fairy wings will move, and when kids take the fairy off the flower petal, its wings will continue to flutter. There are more than six characters to collect in this series.


1) Secretariat 50th Anniversary Model | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $59.99 | Available: Now

In 1973, Secretariat ran his way into the history books when he set a record at the Kentucky Derby, conquered the Preakness Stakes, and won by a record 31 lengths at the Belmont Stakes. Breyer is commemorating this Triple Crown win with a limited-edition, authentically sculpted, glossy gold model. This Breyer Traditional 1:9-scale model features Secretariat in a racing pose on a stand with a removable rose garland.

2) Secretariat 50th Anniversary Figurine with Jockey | Ages: 8+ MSRP: $19.99 | Available: Now

This 5-by-3.75-inch, hand-painted Breyer figurine commemorates the 50th anniversary of Secretariat’s Triple Crown win. The figures also features the winning jockey, Ron Turcotte, posed in action atop Secretariat.

3) Stablemates Sparkling Splendor Deluxe Unicorn Collection | Ages: 4+ MSRP: $29.99 | Available: Now

This set comes with a colorful assortment of six full-size Stablemates unicorns and two unicorn foals.

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1) Minis-in-Minis Sugar Buzz Collectibles Series 2 Hershey Brands

Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $7.99 | Available: Spring 2023

Hershey’s most iconic brands are up for grabs in the second series of this mini collectible toy line. There are eight different collectibles in each pack: two Minis and six even smaller Minis-in-Minis. Kids can find 66 different items in this collection, including Reese’s Pieces, Twizzlers, Jolly Ranchers, and Bubble Yum.

2) World’s Smallest Micro Figures | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $6.99

Available: Spring 2023

The collection of 1.25-inch figures grows this year with new figures from Beavis & Butthead, South Park, Rugrats, Monster High, Dungeons & Dragons Series 2, and Universal Monsters (pictured). Each micro figure has three points of articulation and includes accessories and a mini collector case for display.

3) Micro Toy Box Series 2 | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $6.99

Available: Spring 2023

Series 2 of the Micro Toy Box collection has 55 new toys, including Masters of the Universe, G.I. Joe, Bop It, Hot Wheels, Play-Doh, and more. Each blind box has five mini toys, a mini sticker, and a checklist for collectors. The transparent lid at the top of the box gives collectors a sneak peak at what’s to come.


1) Beyblade Burst QuadStrike Thunder Edge Battle Set (Hasbro) | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $41.99 Available: Holiday 2023

Unleash the power of quadstrike with this Beyblade battle set, which includes a Thunger Edge Beystadium designed with four Quad Zones and a drop zone, two spin launchers, and two spinning tops. Kids can customize the two right spin QuadStrike tops to Core or Apex mode and use the included upgraded armor tips for a more intense battle. The set also includes codes to compete in the Beyblade Burst app.

2) Beyblade Burst QuadStrike Xcalius Power Speed Launcher Pack (Hasbro) | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $24.99

Launch into the next stage of Beyblade with the Beyblade Burst QuadStrike Xcalius Power Speed Launcher Pack, featuring new QuadStrike tops with upgraded Armor Tips to help take down opponents with more intense clashes. Tweens can configure the top in four different ways for multiple ways to strategize in Beyblade battles.


Countdown Calendar:

WWE 2023 14 Day

Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $34.99

Available: Spring 2023

Give any countdown a killer build up with the WWE 14-Day Countdown Calendar, featuring 14 tiny doors that each open to reveal a Funko Pocket Pop! figure. The calendar includes figures of some of the most legendary names in professional wrestling, such as Hulk Hogan, Chyna, Jerry Lawler, and more.

116 The Toy Book | February 2023 |
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1) LankyBox Mini Mystery Figures — Series 2

Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $4.99 | Available: Spring 2023

LankyBox fans can collect new characters based on the popular YouTube channel. There are 10 blind-bag figures to collect in the second assortment, including Milky, Baby Foxy, and ultra-rare LankyBot.

2) Aphmau Mystery MeeMeows Surprise

Figures — Series 2 | Ages: 6+ MSRP: $4.99 Available: Spring 2023

This second series of mini figures features more of the most popular cats from the female-led gaming YouTube channel, Aphmau. There are eight blind-box figures in this assortment, including Cookie Cat, Sugar Skull Cat, and Cherry Cat.


1) Masters of the Universe Origins Snake Mountain Playset | Ages: 6+ MSRP: $79.99 | Available: Fall 2023

The dark side of Eternia returns to the action aisle with this playset, inspired by the vintage Snake Mountain from the ‘80s. Kids and kidults can create epic scenes for their 5.5-inch Masters of the Universe Origins action figures. The set includes a bridge, a trap door, a dungeon, Skeletor’s throne, an “acid pool,” and an escape tunnel.

2) Minecraft Creator Series Camp Enderwood Figures

Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $9.99 | Available: Spring 2023

This new wave of Minecraft action figures is inspired by Camp Enderwood, the digital island summer camp from the game. Each Camp Enderwood 3.25-inch-scale camper figure comes with five accessories to mix and match for multiple looks and two DLC codes to redeem in-game: one for a Camp Enderwood DLC map and one for an exclusive, unique in-game Character Creator accessory item.

3) Jurassic World Track ‘N Attack Indoraptor | Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $34.99

Available: Spring 2023

This Indoraptor figure is inspired by the Jurassic World franchise. It comes with removable tracker headgear and has three attack features, all with light and sound effects. Kids can pair it with other dinosaurs and figures from Mattel’s Jurassic World collection, each sold separately.

118 The Toy Book | February 2023 |
sculptures from the imagination of Richard X Zawitz comes from the intersection of art as toys and toys as art. Designed for older kids and adult
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1) The Office ReAction Figures — Threat Level Midnight | Ages: 14+ MSRP: $20 | Available: Spring 2023

Super7’s first wave of 3.75-inch figures from The Office features six characters from the episode “Threat Level Midnight,” including Michael Scott as Michael Scarn, Jim Halpert as Goldenface, Dwight Schrute as Samuel L. Chang (pictured), and more.

2) The Simpsons ReAction Figures — Treehouse of Horror | Ages: 14+ | MSRP: $20 Available: Spring 2023

The latest wave of 3.75-inch The Simpsons ReAc tion Figures include characters from the Treehouse of Horror Halloween episodes, including Grim Reaper Homer (pictured), Skeleton Marge, Inside-Out Bart, and Kang-Dole.

3) The Princess Bride ReAction Figures

Ages: 14+ | MSRP: $20 | Available: Summer 2023

This 3.75-inch ReAction figures wave is inspired by The Princess Bride. It includes Princess Buttercup (pictured), Fezzik, Montoya, Vizzini, and the Dread Pirate Roberts.


Jean-Claude Van Damme Deluxe Action Figure Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $24.99 | Available: Summer 2023

This 7-inch-scale action figure designed by Eamon O’Donoghue and sculpted by Jean St. Jean features actor and martial artist Jean-Claude Van Damme. This movie-inspired figure captures Van Damme in his underground fight gear, with more than 20 points of articulation and an interchangeable screaming head.


Bend ‘Ems | Ages: 3+/17+

MSRP: $5.99-19.99

Available: Now/Fall 2023

TCG Toys’ line of Bend-Ems figures launched last fall with kid-favorite properties including Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir, Sonic the Hedgehog, and SpongeBob SquarePants. The 6-inch figures feature a soft, rubber-like exterior and wire interior, which makes the arms and legs poseable. The line will expand this fall with WWE figures. Series 1 will feature four Superstars — John Cena, Roman Reigns, Rey Mysterio, and Seth Rollins — and four Legends: The Rock, Hulk Hogan, Undertaker, and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. TCG Toys and Ubisoft Montreal also partnered to bring the action-adventure game Assassin’s Creed to the Bend-Ems line. Wave 1 will include Ezio, Altair, Edward, and Basim and will also launch this fall.

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1) Disney Tsum Tsum 100th Celebration Series 1 | Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $4.99 | Available: Now

Disney Tsum Tsums return to celebrate Disney’s 100th anniversary. This new assortment of collectible vinyl figures comes blind packed in sets that each include a medium and a small Tsum Tsum, along with an accessory inspired by their story. Series 1 includes 20 mystery sets, including a special Mickey Mouse in a Disney 100 Years of Wonder finish. Kids can collect characters from Pinocchio, Cinderella, Peter Pan, The Little Mermaid, Tangled, Finding Nemo, Frozen, Moana, and more. Five series will come out this year, for a total of 100 Tsums to collect.

2) Super Mario Collection | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $10.99-21.99

Available: Spring 2023

JAKKS Pacific’s Nintendo Super Mario collection expands this spring with a new wave of 4-inch-scale figures, including Hammer Bro, Toad, Fire Mario, Dry Bones, and Builder Luigi. There is also a pair of new, 2.5-inch-scale sets. The Sparkling Waters Diorama comes with 2.5-inch Mario, Cheep Cheep, and Huckit Crab figures. The Sparkling Waters Playset (pictured) includes a 2.5-inch Luigi figure, a Huckit Crab, interactive platforms, and environment pieces.

3) The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild Zelda and Link 4-inch Figures | Ages: 3+ MSRP: $10.99 | Available: Spring 2023

The video game world of Nintendo further joins the action aisle with these 4-inch-scale action figures inspired by The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Each figure includes multiple points of articulation and an accessory.


LEGO Minifigures Series 24 | Ages: 5+ MSRP: $4.99 | Available: Now

The latest series of collectible LEGO minifigures features 12 characters, including T-Rex Costume Fan, Rococo Aristocrat, Robot Warrior, Potter, Newspaper Kid, Orc, Football Referee, Falconer, Conservationist, Carrot Mascot, Brown Astronaut and Spacebaby, and Rockin’ Horse Rider. Each blind bag includes a figure with a matching accessory.


Farmhouse with Outdoor Area | Ages: 4+

MSRP: $69.99 | Available: April 1, 2023

With this set, kids take on the role of farmer by helping a family of farmers get their chores done. The farmers can pretend to milk cows, make breakfast, wrangle the cats, and more. The Farmhouse comes with three Playmobil figures, a cow, a calf, two cats, and a variety of accessories. This set is part of the Playmobil Country Line, which is made with more than 80% sustainable materials.

120 The Toy Book | February 2023 |

Adecade ago, the world of kids’ entertainment changed forever when a colorful crew of playful pups burst onto the scene. After three years in development, PAW Patrol — created by Spin Master Entertainment — premiered on Nickelodeon on Aug. 12, 2013, and quickly became a multimedia franchise and consumer products juggernaut with its power soon to be felt across toys, games, licensing, and entertainment.


In 2010, Spin Master’s budding entertainment team led by Jennifer Dodge, today the President of the company’s entertainment creative center, set out on a mission to create a preschool series rooted in action and adventure.

“We wanted to create something that was relatable for young children while also being exciting and aspirational,” Dodge says. “With those parameters in mind, our team approached a short list of renowned creators and best in class studios in the preschool space asking them to pitch us their ideas. Keith Chapman was one of those creators who then presented us with an idea for Robbie’s Rescue Dogs. The Spin Master team, together with Chapman, workshopped this initial con-

PAW Patrol are rescue dogs in training, each assigned to a job inspired by real-life helpers. At launch, the core team included Chase (police dog), Marshall (fire rescue), Skye (air rescue), Rocky (recycling and trash removal), Rubble (construction), and Zuma (water rescue). Showcasing teamwork, bravery, and heroism, PAW Patrol instantly connected with kids through action-packed stories set in Adventure Bay, where the Ryder and the pups were always ready to save the day.


“PAW Patrol is built around timeless values that continue to empower new kids every year,” says Veronica Hart, Executive Vice President, Global Franchise Planning & CP Marketing, Paramount Consumer Products & Experiences. “The heart of the franchise remains the aspirational and relatable pups, who continue to be triedand-true friends that show you can make a difference at every age, helping kids feel like they can achieve anything they put their mind to.”

In order to welcome new kids and families into “The PAW Patrol Years,” constant reinvention is baked into the DNA of the franchise. Each year, the storyline gets an update with new themes reflected in new episodes and animated specials that are simultaneously released alongside new toys.

“We’ve used that same formula for PAW Patrol no matter if we’re creating a new theme or introducing a new pup or making a movie,” Dodge comments. “What is the story? What are the character moments in that story? And then, within that tableau, what are all the ways that we can play?”

For its 10th anniversary, the PAW

Patrol “bark” will be heard loud and clear.

“We are thrilled to celebrate 10 years of PAW Patrol and we are even more excited about what lies ahead,” Hart comments. “From the upcoming theatrical PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie to the Rubble & Crew spin-off series and, of course, our 10th anniversary tentpole campaign, there is so much momentum for the brand right now, and we are already looking ahead to 2024 and beyond.”

That momentum is already being felt in a big way, and it’s powered by the weight of success behind it.

“For a decade, the pups and their stories have entertained millions of preschoolers in more than 180 countries and more than 30 languages,” Dodge explains. “Today the franchise spans our three creative centers: originating with compelling stories and characters in Entertainment, coming to life in playrooms for children through Toy, and extending into Digital Games later this year with the debut of a PAW Patrol app that will blend story and interactivity with educational and emotional learning.”

One look around the preschool aisle in any toy department will reveal the incredible impact that PAW Patrol has made on the industry. It created a new playbook for how kids’ properties are developed and maintained, and its influence can be seen across other preschool brands as potential competitors chase a style and form factor that is clearly inspired by the pups of Adventure Bay. The big difference: Most don’t last.

“Many preschool shows have come and gone in the last decade, but the PAW Patrol pups continue to lead the pack,” Hart says.

Happy birthday, PAW Patrol! At 10 years old, you’re still on a roll! 


All PAWS on Deck Gift Pack

Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $29.99 | Available: Spring 2023

This PAW Patrol figures set includes Chase, Marshall, Rocky, Rubble, Zuma, Skye, Everest, Tracker, Rex, and Liberty. This is Spin Master’s largest PAW Patrol figures gift pack yet!

PAW Patrol Core Tower

Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $49.99 | Available: Spring 2023

Adventure Bay’s iconic Lookout Tower gets an update with this 20-inch-tall playset. The Core Tower comes with two Chase action figures — Off-Duty Chase and Hero-Pup Chase — along with his Police Cruiser vehicle. The tower is packed with play features, including a slide, toy car launcher, command center, mission cards, and a periscope.

PAW Patrol: The Moviegrossed$40 andmilliondomestically millionmorethan$150 worldwide.

Aqua Pups Themed Vehicles

Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $17.99 | Available: Spring 2023

Kids can team up with their favorite pups for exciting missions with the all-new Aqua Pups Themed Vehicles. Each true-to-show vehicle comes with an accompany ing pup inspired by an aquatic creature.

PAW Patrol Aqua Pups Whale Patroller

Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $39.99 | Available: Spring 2023

The Whale Patroller is equipped with everything kids need for super-charged rescue missions on the imaginary seas. It comes with a Chase action figure and his rescue vehicle and features real working wheels for free-rolling play.



For us, the story always comes first. It all begins with the characters, our pups, and their missions. The PAW Patrol toy designers are intimately involved in the ideation process and development alongside entertainment from start to finish. It’s a balance that has been perfected over the course of the first 10 years of the series, which has ultimately extended to the feature films, including this year’s PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie


With PAW Patrol being in its tenth year, we often think about an endeavor to balance what’s tried and true with

parents have never seen before, but they also need to be recognizable and connected to the on-screen PAW Patrol ence. We constantly have one foot in the heritage of the brand and the other foot in the future.

PAW Patrol is all about transformation, and when we set out to design a toy, we want to bring that transformation to life. We hold ourselves to high standards to impress and deliver magic to preschoolers. We introduce mechanisms that are generally in ‘older kids’ toys, but build them in a way that suits the manual dexterity of 2–5 year olds.

We also maintain the core heroic ethos of PAW Patrol Preschoolers watch the pups’ exciting missions play out on screen and the toys must have the same aspirational appeal. This is achieved through incredible attention to detail, from the styling of the vehicle tires to the intricacies of the pups’ tools. Features like projectiles, water cannon launchers, extendable ladders, and lights and sounds also bring that heroic element to life through play. 

Q&A with Catherine ‘Cat’ Demas, Vice President of Entertainment Design, Spin Master
PAW Patrol currently airs in more than 180 territories and in 35 languages.
Toys Toys

Building off the global success of the PAW Patrol franchise, Nickelodeon and Spin Master Entertainment launched Rubble & Crew, PAW Patrol TV spin-off centered around the fan-favorite English Bulldog pup Rubble.

follows Rubble and his pup family — aunt, grandpa, cousins, and all — as they use their awesome construction vehicles to build and repair whatever the town of Builder Cove needs in high-stakes, character-driven adventures. New characters joining the fun include Mix, Charger, Wheeler, and Motor.

“As a proud member of the PAW Patrol, Rubble has stolen the hearts of preschoolers around the world with his loyal, optimistic nature and penchant for treats. Our new series expands Rubble’s world with storytelling that digs into amazing construction projects and the importance of family, combined with high-stakes action, fun adventures, and messy demolition that preschoolers will love.”

— Jennifer Dodge, Spin Master’s President of Entertainment and Executive Producer




The much-anticipated sequel, PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie, is going to have even bigger missions and more action-packed adventures for preschoolers. In the first movie, audi ences learned more about Chase’s backstory, and this time the spotlight shines on Skye. Through the evolution of PAW Patrol past 10 years, Skye’s friendship with Chase has played an integral part in the storyline. While all the pups are friends, these two older members of the team have a unique connection, which is acknowledged in the first film and further explored in PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie as we learn more about Skye and see her rise to new challenges.


We cannot wait to welcome preschoolers and their families back to the theater for what may mark their first (or second) theatrical experience — a truly memorable event. Our incredible, industry-leading animation partners House of Cool and Mikros will deliver once again a spectacular viewing experience designed for the big screen.

For many preschoolers, PAW Patrol:

The Movie was not only their first theatrical experience, but their first outing after many months of not going anywhere due to COVID-19 lockdowns. Others hosted movie nights, streaming the feature film on Paramount+. However they first experienced the movie, we know it was not the last as PAW fans drove the film

Toys Toys

of the feature film toys lives within the entertainment creative center — intimately involved with the ideation process and development from start to finish. Like the first movie toy line, PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie’s toy collection will bring to life the higher-quality CGI animation and dialed-in details. With the introduction of new adventures and of course vehicles, our toy design team has ingeniously recreated the magic from the screen within the toys, while also ensuring they are easy and intuitive for preschoolers at play.


We’re looking forward to telling deeper stories and exploring more about our characters and the PAW Universe as a whole. We’re constantly expanding the world: new themes, new characters, and new adventures, as seen through the feature films and recently launched Rubble & Crew.

to the number one spot on the streaming service at launch with families ultimately watching it an average of three times.


While the development of Spin Master’s innovative toys falls within the toy creative center, the unique development

It all starts with these characters and their stories and then comes to life further for preschoolers through toys.

It’s amazing to think that the first PAW fans may now be approaching their tweens. We want to pass the incredible stories of the PAW Patrol down to new generations. Through creating engaging stories that showcase the values of the PAW Patrol — including teamwork, empowerment, and self-esteem — we can show preschoolers that even the smallest pups can make big prints.

There is a bright future ahead for our beloved pups! 

126 The Toy Book | February 2023 | ADVERTISEMENT
Q&A with Jennifer Dodge, Spin Master’s President of Entertainment and Executive Producer

When a magical meteor crash lands in Adventure City, it gives the PAW Patrol pups superpowers, transforming them into The MIGHTY PUPS! For Skye, the smallest member of the team, her new powers are a dream come true. But things take a turn for the worse when the pups’ archrival Humdinger breaks out of jail and teams up with a mad scientist to steal the superpowers for the two villains. With the fate of Adventure City hanging in the balance, the Mighty Pups have to stop the supervillains before it’s too late, and Skye will need to learn that even the smallest pup can make the biggest difference.

“Just as the first movie’s success in theaters and streaming confirmed PAW Patrol’s status and power as a top, globally loved franchise, this second theatrical release paired with the property’s very first television spin-off will mark another major step in creating a universe of characters and stories to reach even more fans everywhere. We here at Paramount and Nickelodeon are focused on keeping the momentum going with our great partners at Spin Master to keep giving kids and families more PAW Patrol adventures across multiple mediums.”

While a robust line of toys and consumer products for PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie is set to hit retail this fall, it’s all under wraps and considered “top secret” for now!
Now in its ninth season, more than 220 episodes of PAW Patrol have been released.

Where do babies come from? Maybe you’ve heard the old wives’ tale that they hail from the cabbage patch — and we’re here to confirm that it’s true, at least if you’re talking about Cabbage Patch Kids.

The iconic dolls have marked so many firsts for the toy industry over the past 40 years, including blasting into outer space in 1985, repping the U.S. as the first official mascot of the Olympic team in 1992, and going postal with an appearance on stamps in 2000. Before they were the adorable Cabbage Patch Kids, they were known as Little People.

Xavier Roberts started creating soft-sculptures in 1976 and selling his Little People Originals in 1978, influenced by the designs of art student Martha Nelson. That same year, he incorporated the company Original Appalachian Artworks (OAA) and opened BabyLand General Hospital to the public, a renovated medical facility in Cleveland, Georgia, where kids could adopt the handmade baby dolls.

In 2018, BabyLand celebrated four decades of adoptions, and this year, the Cabbage Patch Kids brand celebrates its 40th anniversary. Although the experiential destination of BabyLand was an innovation in its own right, Cabbage Patch Kids may never have skyrocketed the way they did without Roger Schlaifer, the man behind the branding and the worldwide

licensing program that made Cabbage Patch Kids such a powerhouse in the ‘80s.


Branding makes a product memorable by shaping customer recognition and distinguishing it from the competition. The first order of business was changing the name to establish a strong identity. Fisher-Price owned the Little People name, so that wasn’t something OAA could license. Schlaifer thought up two new options.

“One was Adorable Adoptables, which would’ve been fine if it was just a doll line,” Schlaifer says. “But since I wanted a story background and to be able to develop the publishing and entertainment, that’s why we went with Cabbage Patch Kids. I wanted it to be an evergreen brand. If you have that huge franchise, make it last forever with brand awareness. If you do it right, it would be sensational.”

Creating a backstory makes a brand even more powerful and Schlaifer coauthored the legend of the Cabbage Patch Kids with his wife, dreaming up bunnybees that sprinkle magic crystal dust of all sizes and colors on the mother cabbages, causing the Cabbage Patch Kids to grow. In theory, all the Cabbage Patch Kids and Babies can live and play in BabyLand until someone adopts them

and takes them home.

Giving the Kids double names, like Adelaide Rose and Henrietta Beatrix, gave them more of a southern identity since BabyLand and OAA dug their roots

Cabbage Patch Kids Abrams Calendar Images from the ‘80s
Source: Original Appalachian Artworks

in Georgia. “There wasn’t much media at the time that captured a southern rural atmosphere, which I thought would be a big part of making it distinctive,” Schlaifer says.

BabyLand remains open today, modeled after a southern-style home surrounded by seasonal gardens and trees with rocking chairs on the covered porch. “Xavier Roberts made BabyLand General an environment to cultivate his Appalachian brand of southern hospitality — a culture of kindness,” says Margaret Hata McLean, BabyLand’s Director of Corporate Communications. “The entrepreneur built a larger home where ‘family’ could always come and visit.”


Cabbage Patch Kids has changed hands many times over the past 40 years, making the rounds through Coleco, Hasbro, Mattel, Toys “R” Us, Play Along Toys, JAKKS Pacific, Wicked Cool Toys, and Jazwares, but it was a harrowing journey to find the brand a home at first. After Schlaifer acquired the licensing rights in 1982, he set out on a mission to lock in a toy company so that he could also sign licensees for apparel, bedding, and more.

The head of marketing at a major toy company that shall remain nameless even held one of the Cabbage Patch Kids hostage, complete with a ransom note with words cut out of a magazine demanding a royalty-free license. “They sent me a Polaroid picture of Pauline Xandra tied to a chair with a knife at her throat saying, ‘Time is running out for Pauline Xandra,’” Schlaifer says.

It took a while for people to come around to the look of the early handmade dolls, including the head of CBS children’s programming when Schlaifer met with him in 1982. “He said, ‘That’s the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen and adopting them will scar kids for life. We’re not interested,’” Schlaifer recalls. “When no manufacturers were interested, especially because I was out on a limb financially, it was like, my god, how could they not see this as the most unique looking doll ever?”

After much rejection, Coleco came around and Cabbage Patch Kids were a

hit, with around 3 million adopted by the end of 1983. By the time the holiday season rolled around, customers were rioting as they stampeded stores to get their hands on the coveted dolls, setting the stage for future toy crazes. The brand also saw success with children’s apparel, diapers, bedding, calendars, jewelry, ear muffs, and more.

Cabbage Patch Kids embraced inclusivity from the beginning, featuring a matrix of different skin tones, hair colors, eye colors, and outfits to represent a wider range of kids than many other doll lines at the time. “Xavier’s whole schtick was that he wasn’t selling dolls, he wasn’t selling toys — that they were works of art,” Schlaifer says.


Cabbage Patch Kids hit its 10th anniversary as part of the Hasbro portfolio and then evolved to feature vinyl bodies in addition to the cloth options after Mattel acquired the license in 1994. Even when Cabbage Patch Kids went to mass market and expanded with new collections, the essence of the brand remained.

“I really think that their advertising hook to adopt the Kids, and how no two were alike, is what grabbed people,” says Stefanie Eskander, who worked as a designer for the Large and Small Dolls Group at Mattel in the mid-’90s. “Each Cabbage Patch Kid was slightly different and you knew that there was never going to be another one just like yours. You adopted them and they had their little birth certificate. That was just something magical.”

Suzanne Mills-Winkler worked with Eskander as the Director of Large Dolls at Mattel when the CPK license was there, also later working at Toys “R” Us, Play Along Toys, JAKKS Pacific, and Wicked Cool Toys. She also worked on

Cabbage Patch Kids as her own vendor through the years. “In the ‘80s, dolls were more cookie-cutter: They had to be beautiful and they had to have a certain look,” Mills-Winkler says. “These Cabbage Patch Kids came in and they’re funky, they have kind of a crazy face.”

When Mills-Winkler’s Mattel team worked on new face sculpts, they took inspiration from real baby photos. “If you look at a newborn baby’s face, they’re

130 The Toy Book | February 2023 |
Cabbage Patch Kids Baseball All Stars and a Cabbage Patch Kids Stamp | Source: Original Appalachian Artworks

round with chubby cheeks and Cabbage Patch took a lot of essence of that baby cuteness,” she says. “They’re not beautiful, but they’re cute. I think that it really touched a chord with kids.”

Mattel launched tons of new Cabbage Patch Kids collections, including the Olympikids line for the 1996 Olympics that took place in Atlanta, the Playtime Friends collection that featured Cabbage Patch Kids with leg braces, the Brushin’ Teeth Baby that had a foaming toothbrush and toothpaste feature, and more.

“Everybody has always really wanted to re-create the magic that happened in the ‘80s, which was what we’d call a ‘viral moment’ nowadays, but it’s not something that can always be created,” Mills-Winkler says. “That was an amazing phenomenon: to have a product that has that much awareness, every manufacturer can do their part to make it new and fresh for the consumer while staying true to the product.”

For Cabbage Patch Kids’ 35th anniversary, Wicked Cool Toys released 16-inch Vintage Kids featuring retro-style outfits and the original yarn hairstyles.

Some of Jazwares’ most recent Cabbage Patch Kids include the 11-inch Style N’ Play Toddler with hair that really “grows,” the 9-inch Splash N’ Float Tiny Newborn that comes with an inflatable float, and the 3-inch Cutietown Figures.


BabyLand General still offers its own Cabbage Patch Kids created by local designers, giving fans something special that calls back to the brand’s humble beginnings. When guests visit the destination, they are encouraged to play with the Cabbage Patch Kids located throughout the nurseries and they can even pick a one-of-a-kind Cabbage Patch Kid straight from a cabbage to adopt and take home. There are 17- and 20-inch Babies and Kids with vinyl heads and soft sculpted

bodies for $79.99-89.99, or soft sculpture Classic Little People and Cabbage Patch Kids with adoption fees that begin

“You have to take time to understand there will never be another baby made that is exactly like the work of art you are hugging,” says BabyLand’s Hata McLean. “Our babies are unique, not perfect. They offer love without conditions. Is that a grin, gas, or a smile? Creativity and imagination come alive with every stitch.”

It’s been quite the journey since those mystical bunnybees pollinated their first cabbages, but one thing remains constant after all these years: Cabbage Patch Kids continue growing in the garden of American culture — and they’re not stopping anytime soon. 

Jackie Cucco is a Senior Editor at Adventure Media & Events. She covers toy trends, news, and buzzworthy products for The Toy Book, The Toy Insider, and The Pop Insider. She has been featured on ABC World News Now, CBS, WPIX, News 12, and more. You can visit her on Instagram @saucyjac. Cabbage Patch Kids play doctor in an Abrams Calendar from the ‘80s (above), a hand-stitched 2022 Collector Club Exclusive Baby from BabyLand General (left), a Cabbage Patch Kids Collectible Cuties Space Friend from Jazwares (right) Source: Original Appalachian Artworks/Jazwares


BFF by Cry Babies Series 2 | Ages: 5+ | MSRP: $19.99 | Available: Spring 2023

These dolls are grown-up versions of the Cry Babies Magic Tears characters, dressed in trendy outfits. The packaging features three segments that kids can twist to see the doll strike different poses. When kids unbox the doll, they will find seven surprise accessories in its wardrobe. There are six new dolls in Series 2, each with multiple points of articulation and 6 inches of nylon hair.


Miraculous Magic Heroez Transformation Surprise

Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $16.99 | Available: Spring 2023

Each Magic Heroez Transformation Surprise set includes a doll and three accessory surprises. Kids can reveal Marinette’s secret hero identity by placing the doll and the pink packet in the tube, adding water, and swirl-


Jilly Doll | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $68

Available: Summer 2023

Jilly is a 14-inch doll designed to reflect modern Asian American kids, from the authentic shape of their eyes to their playful smiles. Each doll comes with a pink chef’s hat that flips into a sweet friend for Jilly named L’il Tart. Jilly comes with two triangular bandanas that kids can pair to form a picnic blanket.

132 The Toy Book | February 2023 |
Source: Mattel


1) The Fresh Dolls Fresh-Finity Collection | Ages: 6+ MSRP: $17.99 | Available: Now

Each of these 11.5-inch, multicultural fashion dolls features nine points of articulation, custom blended skin tones, and rooted hair that kids can wash and style into braids, twists, updos, ponytails, Afro puffs, Bantu knots, and more. They also come with removable Fresh Signature purple-bottom shoes. The collection was designed by Dr. Lisa Williams to help Black and Brown kids feel more represented by their dolls. The collection will expand to more stores this fall.

2) The Fresh Squad Platinum Collection | Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $39.99 | Available: Now

These 12-inch, multicultural male dolls feature 13 points of articulation and natural hairstyles that kids can wash and style, including Afros, fades, and dreadlocks. There are three characters: Ian (Afro), Amari (faded hairstyle), and Miles (dreadlocks). They come with stylish clothing and accessories, such as a faux leather jacket, denim, and signature purple-bottom shoes that are specific to this platinum collection.


1) Shadow High Core Series 2 Fashion Dolls | Ages: 6+ MSRP: $24.99 | Available: Now

This collection introduces six new Shadow High students that represent even more shades of the rainbow. When lined up together, the dolls create their own unique color spectrum. Series 2 includes dolls with a range of diverse features, skin tones, hairstyles, and fashion choices.

2) L.O.L. Surprise! Sunshine Makeover O.M.G. Dolls | Ages: 4+ MSRP: $26.99 | Available: Now

Color-change technology comes to the L.O.L. Surprise! O.M.G. fashion dolls line for the first time. Kids can take the dolls outside or play with them near a window inside to discover sunshine-powered hair and fashion metamorphoses.

3) Rainbow High Series 5 Fashion Dolls | Ages: 6+ MSRP: $26.99 | Available: Now

A group of six new students comes to Rainbow High in this collection of fashion-forward dolls. Each character has a unique style showcased in their outfit, hair, and accessories. These diverse dolls create a rainbow when kids line them up together.

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1) Ice Powers Singing Playdate

Elsa | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $84.99

Available: Fall 2023

Kids can celebrate both the 10th anniversary and Disney’s 100th Anniversary with this singing Playdate Elsa doll. Elsa sings “Let It Go” and has “ice power” light and sound effects, including interactive phrases from the movie.

2) Disney ily 4EVER Fashion Dolls Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $29.99

Available: Fall 2023

The Disney ily 4EVER Fashion Dolls collection expands this fall with four new Disney character-inspired dolls, including Ursula, Bambi, Mickey Mouse (pictured), and Stitch. Each doll comes with mix-and-match fashions and accessories.


1) Baby Alive Fruity Sips | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $27.99 | Available: Now

This 12-inch nurturing doll comes with a pretend juice with two plastic fruits: an apple and a pineapple. Kids can dunk the pretend fruits in water and squeeze them in the juicer. When they replace the juicer lid with the sippy cup lid, feed Fruity Sips, and get ready for a diaper change — Fruity Sips “pees” like a baby. Kids can use the included comb and bow barrette to brush and style the dolls’ hair.

2) Baby Alive Foodie Cuties Bottle Series 1 | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $11.99

Available: Now

Foodie Cuties is a new extension to the Baby Alive brand that includes small dolls packed with surprises. In Series 1, Bottle Sun, there are eight styles to collect. Kids will discover a 3-inch surprise doll, a doll visor, a pretend drink, an umbrella, a serving tray, a menu board, and stickers. The bottle lid doubles as a table and a chair, while the bottle acts as a playset and a carrying case.

3) Baby Alive Star Besties | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $16.99 | Available: Now

Kids can enjoy intergalactic adventures with this new assortment of 8-inch, space-inspired Baby Alive dolls. Each doll comes with galaxy-themed style and accessories, including a spacey suitcase, a planet passport, a pretend moon juice drink, a comb, and stickers. There are three dolls to collect: Stellar Skylar, Lovely Luna, and Bright Bella.

134 The Toy Book | February 2023 |
3 1 2 2 1

Each set features two different play formats and comes with tons of accessories that kids can use to create an atmosphere for their dolls. The Airport and Jet set is almost 3 feet tall and spins on its base for 360-degree play. It comes with 19 accessories and features a repositionable slide, a spinning luggage carousel, a check-in counter, and more. The Cruise Ship and Island set (pictured) comes with 18 accessories and features a zipline, an upper deck pool, and more for the ultimate pretend getaway.


Aphmau Ultimate Mystery Surprise — Ultima Wolf Edition | Ages: 5+

MSRP: $39.99 | Available: Fall 2023

This plush CatFace case is filled with 10 surprises inspired by the Aphmau YouTube channel, including a fashion doll based on the Ultima Wolf, fashion accessories, a wolf pendant, an exclusive MeeMeow figure, and a sticker. The case folds out and doubles as a playset.


1) My Fairy Garden Hedgehog Haven | Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $24.99

Available: April 2023

With the Hedgehog Haven playset, kids can help Tara the Earth Fairy and her Plantimal friends — Twigs, Quill, and Prickles — as they grow red cabbage seeds. The mushroom house has a table for the hedgehogs to sit at, rotating lead beds, and a slide. The set includes a Fairy Field Guide so kids can learn about Tara and complete nature-themed activities.

2) My Fairy Garden Hop’s Hideaway | Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $14.99

Available: April 2023

Rae the Light Fairy and her Plantimal friend Hop are growing cornflower seeds in this doll playset. Kids can put Hop in his house, where he can watch over the garden. The set comes with a Fairy Field Guide with more information about Rae and project ideas.

3) My Fairy Garden Wishes | Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $7.99

Available: April 2023

Tara the Earth Fairy, Skye the Air Fairy, and Kai the Water Fairy are available as individual dolls that kids can add to their My Fairy Garden sets. Each fairy comes with a seed bottle and seeds that kids can plant in their own planters or My Fairy Garden ones.
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The new Zombaes Forever Wild Vibes line features 15 characters to collect. Kids can mix and match the dolls’ hair and legs, unveil surprise brain reveals, and reuse the packaging as a play environment. Each doll


1) Disney Princess Core Fashion Dolls Assortment | Ages: 3+ MSRP: $10.99 | Available: Spring 2023

Mattel is back in the Disney kingdom with this royal assortment of core fashion dolls featuring Disney Princesses, including Ariel, Rapunzel, Aurora, and more. Each fully articulated doll has rooted hair, a molded glitter top, and a removable sparkling skirt with a unique storytelling print.

2) American Girl Isabel and Nicki Historical Collection | Ages: 8+ MSRP: $115 | Available: Now

Meet Isabel and Nicki Hoffman, fraternal twins growing up in 1999 in Seattle. The sisters are opposites in many ways, but they’re still best friends. Isabel loves dancing, pop music, glitter, and all things pink; while Nicki loves alternative rock music, skateboarding, and making zines. The 18-inch dolls are each sold separately and come with a paperback book that tells their story, written by real-life twins Julia Devillers and Jennifer Roy.

3) Monster High Creepover Party Dolls | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $24.99

Available: Now

CoComelon Squishmallows HugMees

Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $9.99

Available: Spring 2023

JJ and other characters from CoComelon are joining the Squishmallow collection as 10-inch HugMees. There are six HugMees in the collection.

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Sun Smart Baby



Available: Now

Kids can build healthy habits with the Sun Smart Baby. This 10-inch, sun-activated doll features UV color-changing technology that turns the doll’s face and arms red when kids take it into the sun. Kids can apply sunscreen (not included) with SPF 30 or above to protect the doll from sunburn and watch as it returns to its original shade.


1)Baby Alexander — Baby Alex and Baby Lexi | Ages: 0+ MSRP: $34.95 | Available: June 2023

These 12-inch, cloth baby dolls are designed with newborns in mind. They are made with eco-friendly materials and are available in three skin tones.

2)Hugs and Giggles | Ages: 1+ | MSRP: $44.95

Available: June 2023

This 13-inch doll features a vinyl head and limbs, and a soft body. The doll can suck on its thumbs and it wears a pink tunic, floral leggings, a bib, and a headwrap.


Yumi Ami Gift Sets | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $24.99

Available: Fall 2023

These soft dolls are crafted with diversity in mind. There are five dolls for kids to collect, each packaged with a book that teaches them about embracing different cultural backgrounds.


1)Babipouce Glow-in-the-Dark | Ages: 0+ | MSRP: $39.95

Available: Now

Corolle’s iconic baby doll, Babipouce, gets a glowy makeover. The Babipouce Glow-in-the-Dark doll is 11 inches tall and has a sweet facial expression, a vanilla scent, a lightweight feel, and glow-in-the-dark pajamas. The doll features a sewn-in tag with space to write an infant’s name on it.

2)Melody Shopping Surprise Set | Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $33.95 | Available: Now

This set comes with an 11-inch fashion doll named Melody and seven accessories, including a dress, a handbag, a pair of sunglasses, three hair clips, and a pair of removable earrings. Melody is dressed in black pants, a long-sleeve graphic T-shirt, and removable ankle boots. Kids can position the doll to sit or stand.

138 The Toy Book | February 2023 |

Quick, think of the major players in toy industry retail. Your mind may immediately jump to Walmart, Target, or perhaps the rapidly-expanding CAMP footprint. There’s a good chance Dollar General wasn’t first, or maybe even on your list.

However, with around 19,000 brickand-mortar locations across the U.S., this discount retailer isn’t one that we should, well, discount.

More than 75% of the U.S. population lives within 5 miles of a Dollar General, according to Katie Ellison, a spokesperson for the chain. And within the aisles of those stores, shoppers can find many of today’s top toy brands, including 5 Surprise, LEGO, Barbie, and more.

Dollar General is one piece of a much larger trend that is seeing discount and outlet stores become a significant force within the toy industry. While today’s

was a time not too long ago when, broadly speaking, discount stores were not considered a place for consumers to find brand-name toys.

“If you think about the dollar or the value channel five years ago, it was comprised of, basically, tchotchke business,” says Keith Gammon, Vice President of Sales for North America at ToyMonster. “A lot of cheap product that really was meaningless in terms of the market, but it hit a price point.”

Now, thanks to economic shifts, changing consumer expectations, and a stronger emphasis on toy inventory, these discount shopping destinations have started stocking their shelves with recognizable brands and focusing on the value that consumers can find for $5.

Five Below President and CEO Joel Anderson — a former Toys “R” Us executive — has highlighted the company’s commitment to wow-factor toys during investor calls in the past. The strategy appears to be working: In January, the retailer reported an 11.2% spike in 2022 holiday season sales.

“We believe our diverse eight worlds and ‘wow’ merchandise offering, along with increased and more targeted marketing, effectively highlighted the tremendous value for our customers,” Anderson said in a statement.

The list of major toy companies with product on-shelf at discount stores

is expansive and ever-growing, but one example is ToyMonster’s Captivz line, which features Jurassic World dinosaur figures hidden inside eggs alongside tactile compounds.

Another well-known brand with a strong foundation in the discount space is Squishmallows, the popular plush line owned by Jazwares. While collectors may not find a massive, 24-inch Squishmallows plush at their local Five Below, they will find exclusive designs and a constantly changing inventory at a $5 price point, which Gerhard Runken, Senior Vice President of Brand and Marketing at Jazwares, says stays true to the brand’s goal of being accessible for everyone.

“You never know what you are going to find or how long it will be available, adding to the excitement of the shopping experience,” Runken says. “From gateway fans to hardcore collectors, they know that discount stores might hold that hidden gem they are looking for. It can also provide a great value and can give someone looking for a toy a chance to get something additional because of the lower MSRP.”

Both Captivz and Squishmallows bring intellectual property into the mix with their discount store offerings. When working at such a low price point, this can mean small margins. However, as ToyMonster Global Head of Brand Development Claire Carroll explains, this can push creativity in toy manufacturing.

“It really is about what sparks that consumer need, and what does that kid at the end of the day want to have a piece of,” she says. “And how do we achieve that within this formula of needing to hit ev-

140 The Toy Book | February 2023 |
Source: ToyMonster/Sunny Days Entertainment

eryone’s requirements, which is obviously low price point plus branding, plus all the approvals, plus royalties, plus still being able to afford to market it. But I think that makes us more innovative as well.”

And innovation isn’t the only upside to working in the discount space. Sunny Days Entertainment recently launched Cutie Loos, a fashion-inspired line of flocked animal collectibles, at Five Below. Rick Mershon, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Sunny Days Entertainment, speaks highly of Five Below as a retail partner, describing the team’s collaborative process, creative leeway, and frequent face-time as qualities he appreciates.

Mershon also notes that discount retailers tend to run a product-focused business, as opposed to a program-focused business, which provides an opportunity for toy manufacturers to launch single items that may not make a splash at traditional retailers. “If you imagine going to a Walmart or a Target or a Fred Meyer, they tend to shy away from a little tiny box that is a single item,” he explains. “So it’s a single item and it’s a 5-by-5-inch box. It’s really hard to make an impact if you don’t have a statement in those environments.”

This means that launching products in a discount space can be an opportunity to explore trends and innovate without committing to a full product program. If a smaller, value-exclusive item becomes successful, he explains, then the company can expand that brand with higher pricepoint items that can find a home in other retail spaces.

“I think a lot of people have, in the past, thought of the value chains as opportunistic, right?” he says. “It’s like, oh, we have this excess product that we’re going to ship to them. And it’s changed from that to being a developmental partner for sure.”

And it isn’t just discount stores that are part of this trend. According to Scott Feinstein, Vice President and Division Merchandise Manager at Ollie’s Bargain Outlet, outlet stores are also gaining a foothold in the toy business. Feinstein says that Ollie’s has always prioritized carrying brand-name toys. However, as the chain has expanded from 12 stores to

more than 460, the retailer’s connections within the industry have also deepened. Now, Ollie’s partners with most major toy manufacturers to offer some of the most discounted toy prices available, exclusively at its brick-and-mortar locations.

Feinstein adds that when you add up the various outlet chains, such as Ollie’s, TJX, Ross, and Burlington, you’re looking at thousands of retail locations.

been able to come to Ollie’s for years and years,” he says. “It’s really no secret sauce. I mean, that’s really it. Just offering the customer a great value at drastically reduced prices, up to 70% off the fancy store’s price.”

And while discount and outlet stores offer a solution that consumers need, the discount store boom seems to hint at a larger trend toward affordable, quality toy options in all retail spaces. According to Carroll, ToyMonster is seeing more value and dollar opportunities from mass retailers as they change their mindset.

“Everybody, at the end of the day, still wants to deliver on Christmas and kids’ birthday presents and get the latest and greatest,” she says. “But how do they get a piece of that that doesn’t take away from their daily spending, their necessities?”

“If you lump us together, it’s pretty big buying power,” he says. “For the last 40 years, I have been trying to get the manufacturers to realize how important the off-channel line is. And I think they have realized it now.”

He highlights changing consumer needs as a primary driver behind this shift, and he isn’t alone. As consumers face difficult economic times and inflation, they are searching for ways to cut costs and seeking out alternative retail channels.

“Our customer, especially in times like now, they need a bargain. And they’ve

Looking ahead, as North America faces a likely recession, offering highquality toys and games with budgetfriendly pricetags will remain top-ofmind. And the industry will be watching as emerging retailers and concepts in this space — such as Canada’s Showcase, Dollar General’s new pOpshelf locations, and Five Below’s Five Beyond offerings — continue to innovate and aim to impress cautious consumers. 

Madeleine Buckley is a senior editor at The Toy Book where she covers the latest toy news and trends. She is a movie score enthusiast, a mediocre knitter, and a proud Syracuse University alumna. You can usually find her at the movies or hanging out with her super-pup, Parker.
“I think a lot of people have, in the past, thought of the value chains as opportunistic ... And it’s changed from that to being a developmental partner.”
-Rick Mershon, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Sunny Days Entertainment
The toy shelves at an Ollie’s Bargain Outlet location feature Star Wars and Ryan’s World toys. | Source: Ollie’s Bargain Outlet


Cautious optimism reigns as the gaming industry looks ahead.

Forecasting and predicting how a new year will play out is always stressful. In January, when I asked my Magic 8 Ball what it thought about 2023, it came back with a cryptic answer: “Reply Hazy.”

Luckily, our staff at GPI has deep industry experience working with astute clients who are able to provide some better insight than Mattel’s iconic toy. Overall, the general sentiment remains optimistic with an err on the side of caution. That actually matches the Magic 8 Ball prediction after all. I interpret “Reply Hazy” to mean we should proceed with caution and “Try Again” to mean that we should keep chugging ahead while remaining optimistic.


Last year, true optimism was felt at the two public shows we attended: PAX Unplugged and GenCon. Families were back in force at both shows, anxious to sit down and play games. Between talking to retailers about their customers’ increased interest in games and the attendance at both game-centric shows, it’s clear that the upswing in the popularity of gaming that was sparked by the lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic has not waned. Whether we are in a recession or not, we know that when the economy is shaky, consumers have recognized that games

are inexpensive entertainment when compared to a night out at the movies, a trip to the indoor water park, or a weekend travel excursion.

more than 2,000 players and were overwhelmingly met with smiles, laughter, and praise for the game. We had many people coming to our booth telling us how much fun they had playing the game with a group of friends the night before. Almost all of them wound up purchasing a copy for themselves.”

David Blanchard, GPI’s Vice President of Business Development, echoes the sentiments of Johnson, a fellow inventor. Blanchard feels his creative team as well as others are full speed ahead. “Our GPI design and development department is heading into 2023 ripe with possibilities. We are excited about the game concepts we have placed with publishers which should be released later in the year and we have other partnerships in the works that have yet to be unveiled that we can’t wait to announce.”

“We weren’t sure what to expect when we launched our first game, Connected Clues, earlier last year,” says Brian Johnson, Creator and Founder of Connected Clues. “We loved the game, but it can be a bit nerve-wracking wondering if everyone else would enjoy playing the game as much as we have. After exhibiting at PAX Unplugged, we knew that Connected Clues was a hit. We demoed our game for

Blanchard continues, “but from a more general perspective, times of economic uncertainty have traditionally been somewhat favorable to those on the creative side of the toy and game industry. Personally, I think people are going to be playing more games this year than perhaps they would have otherwise. Maybe they’re looking for inexpensive family fun or maybe they’re just looking for a brief distraction from what is bound to be another dumpster fire year for U.S.

142 The Toy Book | February 2023 |
“Many retailers (and probably publishers) are sitting on quite a bit of inventory at the moment ... [but] people are still buying games and the stats through the cash register appear to be up.”
- Paul May, Vice President, Creative & Production, The Op

politics leading up to next year’s election. But whatever the reason, the more games get played, the more games are sold, and the more publishers will be looking for ‘newness’ from the game design crowd.”

Ryan Schuman, Senior Director of Retail for Hunt A Killer, shares: “These times are uncertain, but we continue to see the trend that people value board games and spending time together. So we plan on continuing to develop and provide immersive games to help provide that needed escape. We will be more diligent about inventory and adjusting processes to a more just-in-time approach to stay lean and flexible in case of a downturn. But we plan to continue to expand our offerings and distribution, and capitalize when the economy settles.”

In looking forward to 2023, Johnson is optimistic about the game industry as a whole: “Inflation is a major issue that everyone is feeling, but I believe that games can be an amazing solution to help people spend less money,” he says. “If your group of friends is looking for something to do for the night, it’s way cheaper to stay in and play a party game versus going out for dinner and drinks. It’s likely more fun and relaxing as well. When you purchase a game, you aren’t simply paying for the paper, cardboard, and plastic that the game is made of, you are purchasing an experience and the hours of fun with your friends that the game will bring.”

Paul May, Vice President of Creative and Production at The Op Games adds, “With the cost of shipping coming down dramatically, I think it is a huge help to the publishers in the industry. Many retailers (and probably publishers) are sitting on quite a bit of inventory at the moment, but I think that puts all of us in a good position for the start of the year. People are still buying and the stats through the cash

register appear to be up, it’s just a matter of working through the inventory.”


You can almost hear the collective cheers worldwide for the drop in container prices this year. This fact alone is cause for celebration as shipping prices in recent years have, in many cases, exceeded the costs of production, according to Erin Gagne, GPI’s Freight Coordinator.

“When it comes to freight and the U.S. supply chain, it’s been a rocky road the past few years, but we’re finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. The past three years have seen transit times from Asia to the U.S. exceed more than 55 days for most shipments and long dwell times at ports. GPI expects to see close to pre-pandemic transit times of 35-40 days from Asia to the U.S. warehouse doors this year,” Gagne shares. “By 2023’s end, experts are hoping to see predictable normalcy come back to the U.S. supply chain, similar to what we were seeing in 2019.”

In addition to the good news about the supply chain, Mike Fisher, President of GPI, is feeling optimistic about the state of manufacturing in China. “The outlook is very positive. Material supply and costs across China continue to be stable. Electrical generating plants are meeting demand, and stability with the transportation of goods to shipping ports has improved as well,” he says. “However, concerns remain very high about elevated rates of COVID-19 infections. It is estimated that China will experience an unprecedented surge in infections before the government is able to restabilize the pandemic to more manageable levels. Depending upon what these conditions

look like early this year, many analysts are seeing signs that China may further loosen entry restrictions by the second or third quarter. And in an effort to return to pre-pandemic levels of travel and international business, Hong Kong recently dropped its controversial ‘0+3’ quarantine restrictions for incoming travelers. Lastly, Vietnam is emerging as a very viable manufacturing sector and opportunities are ripe for further expansion of manufacturing capacity.”


While the future is never certain, there are reasons to be optimistic about what lies ahead that go well beyond production and logistics. “One of the things we try to be conscious of is opportunities to build goodwill,” says Kevin Carroll, Co-Founder of Carma Games. “So whether it’s coaching a newbie inventor, making a bill ‘disappear’ for a retailer who had a flood, Zooming with a second-grade class, or sending free replacement dice to the owner whose pooch got hungry … there are always small ways we can help out. It makes others feel good, but it also makes us feel good, and it’s good for business. We feel enormously fortunate to be in the game biz.” 

In Nancy Drew: Mystery at Magnolia Gardens, players work together to crack the case. | Source: Hunt A Killer Tami Murphy is the Vice President of Account Management and Marketing at GPI, which provides manufacturing, safety testing, freight and logistics, design and development, graphic design, playtesting, and consulting services to the toy and game industries. Visit or email Tami at for more information on GPI and its services. Source: Connected Clues



1) National Geographic My First Safari Board Game | Ages: 4+ MSRP: $19.99 | Available: Spring 2023

Embark on an adventure of a lifetime with this collaborative safari-themed board game. Players must work together to find all of the wild animals before the sun sets.

2) National Geographic Volcano Toss | Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $39.99 Available: Fall 2023

In this spin on a backyard classic, kids will have multiple game options to choose from as they try to get their lava bags into the volcano. The pack-and-play design makes it easy to store and carry.


Mission Ocean | Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $29.99 | Available: Now

Kids will roll up their sleeves and help clean up the ocean with Mission Ocean. Players race to collect plastic waste floating among the waves and take it to The Ocean Cleanup ship to protect sea creatures. Little conservators will learn tactical skills, logical thinking, and early environmental literacy skills in this STEM-authenticated game. The game is 100% plastic free and made of sustainable, FSC-certified cardboard and wood. Part of the sales proceeds will go to The Ocean Cleanup, a nonprofit that raises awareness about water pollution and plastic use, to directly support their efforts on the ground.

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Source: Hasbro Gaming


1) 5 Second Rule Relay | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $24.99

Available: July 2023

In this game, players must work together to try to name differ ent items in their chosen category in five seconds or less. Players put each other on the spot by listing one item in a category, then hand off the relay timer to the next player of their choice.

2) Okay, Genius… | Ages: 14+ | MSRP: $19.99

Available: July 2023

The genius’ opinion is all that matters in this game. Players have to guess the genius’ opinion on silly topics like, “How many spoons make a respectable spoon collection?” The closest guess wins the round. Each player gets a chance to be the genius.

3) Pigs on Trampolines | Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $19.99

Available: July 2023

In Pigs on Trampolines, players must bounce their pigs off the trampoline and into the mud puddle to try and win the highly coveted mud pies. Play continues until all the mud pies are gone, and the player who collects the most mud pies wins the game.


1) UNO Flex | Ages: 7+ | MSRP: $6.49 | Available: Now

The latest iteration of UNO includes a Power Card that allows players to “flex” a card and change its color if it has a green check, but a red X means they have to wait. Flex Draw Two cards force every other player to draw one card , while Flex Draw 4 lets the player choose who has to draw four cards. Flex Wild All Draw forces every other player to draw two cards, and Flex Skip skips all players.

2) DOS Second Edition | Ages: 7+ | MSRP: $6.49

Available: Spring 2023

This game plays just like classic UNO except for a few special cards and rules. First, there are two discard piles instead of just one. Next, all the “2” cards in the deck are Wild DOS cards. And finally, there is a special “Wild Play Two” action card. When players are down to two cards, they yell “DOS!” to win.

3) Magic 8 Ball Magical Encounters Board Game

Ages: 7+ | MSRP: $19.99 | Available: Now

This cooperative board game takes place in a magical kingdom where Gadworm the Dragon terrorizes the land. Players use encounter cards to make choices, but ultimately, the Magic 8 Ball decides their fate. In the end, they must work together to discover crystals and defeat Gadworm.

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1) Hedbanz Lightspeed | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $19.99

Available: Aug. 2023

This new twist on the family guessing game challenges two teams to face off and try and guess the most cards, but the hints players give are deter mined by the randomly changing color of the light. The headband will light up and rotate through three new play categories: Act It Out, Ask a Question, and Just 3 Clues. Players will have to use their deductive reasoning and problem-solving skills to figure out the clues with a questioning format that can change at any moment.

2) I Need a New Butt | Ages: 5+ | MSRP: $14.99 | Available: Jan. 2023

Inspired by the best-selling book from Dawn McMillan and Ross Kinnaird, this 2-4-player game challenges players to race around the board and try to match Butt cards. Players start by pressing the Butt Popper, then try to match new butts, such as “rocket butt,” “robo butt,” and “paintball butt.” The first player to collect all of their matching butt cheeks on their New Butt! card wins the game.

3) Rubik’s Coach Cube | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $14.99 | Available: Aug. 2023

Solving the Rubik’s Cube is less intimidating with this new three-by-three Coach Cube. Players can gain confidence and learn to solve the cube by peeling off the numbered stickers for each of the eight steps. Once they master the Coach Cube, they have the classic core Cube to continue to practice and hone their skills.


1) Star Wars: The Deckbuilding Game | Ages: 14+ | MSRP: $37.99 Available: March 3, 2023

Players can experience epic galactic battles in Star Wars: The Deckbuilding Game. This easy-to-learn game re-imagines the conflict between the Galactic Empire and the Rebel Alliance in head-to-head game play in which players recruit characters, collect bounties, control the Force, and destroy the enemy base. The first player to destroy three of their opponent’s bases wins the game.

2) 7 Wonders: Edifice | Ages: 10+ | MSRP: $29.99

Available: Feb. 24, 2023

In addition to two new Wonders, this expansion pack introduces a new type of card, Edifices, that bring a new challenge to players’ games. Players cannot build the edifices near an isolated city, so they must participate in communal projects to reap the benefits of their successes or suffer the consequences of their failures.

3) Setup | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $29.99 | Available: April 1, 2023

In Setup, players play a Rummy-style game with a twist: They can stack tiles and score points in all directions. Each round, players lay tiles to combine suits and numbers across the board to score points and race to the finish line, as they try to maximize their own points and avoid helping their opponents.

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1) World’s Smallest Games | Ages: 8+ MSRP: $5.99-7.99 | Available: Spring 2023

This line consists of fully functional games that fit in the palm of players’ hands. The new additions to the collection include Sorry!, Trouble, Pogo Ball, playing cards, and Pickleball. Each game features included storage so players don’t lose the tiny pieces.

Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $14.99

Available: Spring 2023

Super Impulse boiled down Bop It to just one button. This version of the game challenges players’ reflexes, similar to the original. Players can either play solo or with up to 10 people.


Bluey Keepy Uppy Game (Moose Games) | Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $19.99

Available: July 2023

One of Bluey’s favorite games from the popular preschool series comes home in this electronic game. Two to three players use boppers featuring the likenesses of Bluey, Bingo, and Chilli to keep a motorized balloon piece in the air. If players miss a balloon and let it hit the ground, they lose one of their three balloon disks. The last player with a balloon disk wins the game.


1) Clue Game | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $19.99 | Available: Now

Who killed Boddy Black? This reimagined take on the classic Clue game features updates to the original murder mystery storyline, the intriguing cast of characters, and the glamorous Tudor Mansion. It includes six textured, gold-plated zinc tokens representing the weapons; sculpted character movers; and an illustrated gameboard and Clue cards.

2) Clue Junior Game | Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $17.99 | Available: Now

Preschoolers can join the mystery-solving fun with this Clue Junior game. It features a double-sided gameboard featuring two schoolday mystery games and two levels of grow-with-me play.

3) Twister Junior Game | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $17.99

Available: Now

This animal-themed Junior version of the classic Twister game features a double-sided mat and a reversible spinner, offering two difficulty levels. With each spin, play ers will learn about animals, colors, and more while finding out where to place their hand or foot on the game mat.

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Kanoodle Pyramid | Ages: 7+ | MSRP: $24.99 | Available: Spring 2023

Educational Insights will introduce Kanoodle Pyramid this spring. Kids can use the brain-teasing puzzle to expand their critical thinking and spatial reasoning skills. This puzzle game features a multiplayer, tabletop board and geometric pieces that puzzlers can fit together to solve 200 two- and three-dimensional puzzles. The extra-large board doubles as storage for all nine puzzle pieces and the puzzle challenge booklet.

MSRP: $16.99 | Fall 2023

This ocean-themed puzzle features 18 pieces that create three interlocking gears that spin. The gear pieces fit over pegs in the wooden puzzle board. There are pictures on the puzzle board for easy matching.

2) Round the Shore Tracks Floor Puzzle | Ages: 3+ MSRP: $22.99 | Fall 2023

Kids can build the 48-piece cardboard floor puzzle to either form three separate rings or a full circle measuring 27 inches in diameter. There are grooves in the pieces that create tracks on which the two wind-up vehicles can ride around. The artwork features the alphabet with matching


1) Safari Park Jr. | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $26.99

Available: Spring 2023

In this game, kids have to get all of the safari animals in the right spot for the picture, but lions can’t go near the water, elephants can’t climb the rocks, and giraffes can’t fit under the trees. The set includes 60 different challenges for kids to complete.

2) Cats & Boxes | Ages: 7+ | MSRP: $16.99

Available: Spring 2023

This on-the-go board game involves getting cats to their favorite boxes. One by one, players must move their pieces until all the cats have found their homes. The game features 60 different challenges for players to complete.

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Creative Kids Zzand Totem Tumble

Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $14.99

Available: Fall 2023


1) Shashibo Holographic Series | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $25

Available: Now

This line of puzzle cubes has three different designs — Polar, Solar, and Vapor — that are holographic and show different patterns under ultraviolet light. Kids can turn the cube into triangles, dodecahedrons, crowns, and more. The Polar design features a light blue color palette; the Vapor cube is dark blue; and the Solar Shashibo features a yellow, orange, and red design.

2) WILD Series from Shashibo | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $25

Available: Q1 2023

This line of puzzle cubes has four different designs: Savannah, Jungle, Arctic, and Forest. The Savannah cube has grasslands on the outside and giraffes, zebras, rhinos, and more on the inside. The Jungle cube features treetops on the outside and alligators, turtles, butterflies, and more on the inside. The Arctic cube has ice on the outside and walrus, polar bears, reindeer, and more on the inside. The Forest cube features leaves on the

In this game of tactile skill, two or more players will mold and stack the free-flowing Zzand compound into a totem pole. Each player must take turns molding a totem piece and placing it on the base or on top of other pieces. The object of the game is for players to continue stacking the totem pole as tall as they can. The game comes with three bags of Zzand, two tongs, three tiki molds, and a game base.


1) Really Loud Librarians | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $19.99

Available: Now

In Really Loud Librarians, players must pick a category and race to find things in the category for each letter of the alphabet. Teams must work together to shout out correct answers using the right letters before the other teams. The team that makes it around the board first wins the game.

2) You Lying Sack | Ages: 7+ | MSRP: $19.99 | Available: Now

In You Lying Sack, players take good or bad things out of the lying sack and be honest with the rest of the players about what they grabbed or lie about it. There are 50 bad things and one good thing in the sack, but the person with the least amount of bad things in their hand at the end of the game is the winner.

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Doo-Doo Kangaroo

Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $19.99

Available: August 2023

In this funny skill-and-action game, kids can find out what eating too many doughnuts does to a kangaroo. Players will spin the spinner to find out how many doughnuts they need to feed the Kangaroo, which is sitting on the toilet. When the Kangaroo has too many doughnuts, he’ll shake and shimmy, releasing doughnuts or doo-doos out of the toilet. Players race to grab the doughnuts as fast as they can while dodging the doo-doos. The first player to collect five doughnuts wins the game, which is designed for 2-4 players.


Epoch Games Super Mario Rally Tennis | Ages: 5+ | MSRP: $44.99

Available: Spring 2023

Kids can go head-to-head in this two-player action game featuring iconic Super Mario Bros. characters. Players can volley the “ball” back and forth by gliding their controller along the game base and using the trigger to return their opponent’s serve. The game includes two collectible figures of Super Mario and Luigi. It features a scoreboard to keep track of points and a link system that makes it compatible with other Super Mario figures from the Epoch Games collection.


4-in-1 Stand Up Games Table —

Dark Brown | Ages: 5+ | MSRP: $69.99

Available: March 2023

This table gaming system can turn into four classic games: ping pong, Foosball, pool, and hockey. Each game has a layer that kids can lift off and replace. The table also features storage for balls, paddles, and cues to help ensure nothing gets lost while not in use.

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Assassin’s Creed Unity — Notre-Dame 3D Jigsaw Puzzle

Ages: 14+ | MSRP: $64.99 | Available: Now

Fans can rediscover the iconic vantage point from the Assassin’s Creed video games with the Notre-Dame 3D Jigsaw puzzle. The historical building is re-created with items from Assassin’s Creed Unity, complete with non-playable characters and props that belong to Arno Victor Dorian and Elise de la Serre. The unique 3D puzzle features Wrebbit’s foam backing technology for snug and tight-fitting pieces that are easy to put together and sturdy enough to display.


ZAG Heroez Miraculous Classic Games

Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $14.99

Available: Fall/Winter 2023

This line of classic games has a Miraculous spin. There are three games in this collection: Get 4, in which players take on the role of Cat Noir and Ladybug and try to get four coins in a row; Pop Race (pictured), in which players race around the board by popping the dice and getting all of their pieces to the center; and Who’s My Hero, in which players have to guess the identity of the other player’s Miraculous hero by asking “yes” or “no” questions.


1) The Wizard’s Tower Second Edition | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $29.95 Available: Now

Castle Panic players can extend their gaming experience this year with three newly stylized expansion packs, beginning with a redesigned version of The Wizard’s Tower. Players can cast magical spells as they fight imps, flying creatures, fire-breathing monsters, and more.

2) The Dark Titan Second Edition | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $19.95 Available: Now

The second edition of The Dark Titan features a brand new look. With this expansion, players will face the final boss Agranok, an 8-point monster with an army full of new powers. Players can fight Agranok using Boiling Oil, the Cavalier, and Support tokens.

3) Engines of War Second Edition | Ages: 8+

MSRP: $19.95 | Available: March 22, 2023

This revamped Castle Panic expansion pack includes new Resource cards and the Engineer, allowing players to build new weapons and defenses. In Engines of War, the Monster army also attacks with new ranks and Siege Engines.

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1) Mr. Bendy | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $24.95 | Available: Summer 2023

In this game, Mr. Bendy can become anything kids can imagine — but it depends on how quickly they can craft. Players flip over a card and then use the wax sticks to transform Mr. Bendy into whatever is on the card: an astronaut, a golfer, a scarecrow, and more. In order to score, players must guess what Mr. Bendy has become before the time runs out.

2) VolleyShot | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $29.95

Available: Summer 2023

In VolleyShot, each player operates a paddle, knocking the ball back and forth until someone misses. When a player misses, their opponent scores, and the first player to earn 10 points wins the game.

3) Flyfecta | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $24.95 | Available: Now

In this game of strategy, luck, and skill, players use the ramps to launch their discs into the slots on the gameboard. The first player to get three discs in a row wins the game, but players can block each other’s victories by landing one of their discs on top of another.


1) One’s Gotta Go: Puppies or Pizza | Ages: 11+ | MSRP: $19.99 | Available: Spring 2023

In this tournament-style game, players face increasingly tough decisions and must work to persuade the group to choose what they believe is most important, such as jeans or sweats, Wi-Fi or three-day weekends, or their best friend versus democracy. This game will put persuasion skills to the test as players engage in spirited debates over which cherished things they can or can’t live without.

2) Game Rover | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $14.99 | Available: Spring 2023

In this fast-paced, canine-themed challenge, players draw a card, start the timer, and get their dog to do as many tricks as possible in 60 seconds. Rules are written in both people and dogs’ native tongues (woof woof), so there’s no cheating from either species. Players can find out who their dog loves the most or compete with other players and their dogs to see who wins the coveted “Top Dog” status.

3) Smokin’ Mokin’s Aces | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $14.99

Available: Fall 2023

In the latest edition in the Grandma card game series, players must rely on their gut instincts and a little luck to outsmart Smokin’ Mokin. But beware: there’s a twist. Players cannot see the face-down cards until they are discarded. The goal is to have the lowest number of points when someone shouts out the magic words, “Smokin’ Mokin!”

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1) Chocoly | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $14.99 | Available: Now

In this game of logic, players must lay chocolate tiles to build the largest area featuring their favorite kind of choco late bar to achieve a sweet victory. They will need to choose their tiles wisely as their opponents stack chocolate tiles to take over their own flavor.

2) Racing Hedgehogs | Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $19.99

Available: Now

Kids will play cards from their hand to advance the hedgehogs. When one of the hedgehogs reaches the last space on the board, the race ends, and the players’ remain ing cards score points. Players must decide whether to try to push one hedgehog to the finish line first or play-the-odds on their favorite runner.

3) Hansel & Gretel | Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $19.99 | Available: Now

Lost in the forest, Hansel and Gretel found Baba Yaga’s Gingerbread house. Players must help Hansel and Gretel eat the most candies and escape from the evil witch to win the game. Players will pick up candy tiles and connect pieces together to complete the puzzle. Once they complete a candy, players can grab a cookie to use its power later during the game. During each round, players will move their pieces by counting the dots on


Neopets Tarot and Oracle Deck Set | Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $49.95

Available: Spring 2023

This Neopets-inspired Tarot card set features 78 unique cards that depict a diverse cast of Neopian heroes, villains, and inhabitants. Packed with art and familiar landscapes, kids can use the Tarot deck to find deep-rooted meanings and symbolism to help reframe and understand their questions. Each deck comes with a guidebook to assist in interpreting the cards.

Ballz’n | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $24.99

Available: Spring 2023

In this fast-paced, ball-bouncing game of offense and defense, players try to bounce their balls in the top two bowls to score the most points. They will also try to collect opponents’ balls and bounce them into the bottom bowl to take away their opponents’ points. When playtime is over, the game easily stacks and stores with a lid to make it travel friendly.

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1) Squishmallows Take 4 | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $14.99

Available: Fall 2023

The Squishmallows squad gets a competitive twist in this quick-thinking card game that requires observation and conversation. Players must compete to get four Squishmallows-themed cards featuring the same squad. Kids will interact with other players and try to interpret their emotions. The first player to build a full Squishmal lows squad wins the game.

2) Search Party: Chaos at the Park | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $24.99 Available: Fall 2023

This board game features Mission cards that guide players through mysteries of finding hidden objects on the 3D board. When players solve a card, they will get closer to locating the item. There are 15 missions and more than 300 objects hidden on the gameboard, which features 3D pop-up elements. Kids can learn problem-solving skills and context clues while playing.


1) Pop Up Mario | Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $16.99 | Available: Spring 2023

Let’s-a go, Mario! Join Mario in this Super Mario-inspired twist on TOMY’s classic kid’s pop up game. Choose between three different ways to play and watch with surprise when Mario bounces out of the green sewer pipe. The game is suitable for 2-4 players.

2) Beat the Camera | Ages: 5+ | MSRP: $20.99 | Available: Now

In Beat the Camera, one or more players can race the camera in an attempt to capture a gemstone without getting caught. The camera scans the room from side to side and when it stops, players must freeze in place. One move will trip the alarm and knock them out of the game.


Jujutsu Kaisen 1000 Piece Puzzle

Ages: 12+ | MSRP: $19.99

Available: Spring 2023

This 1,000-piece puzzle features official artwork from the anime series Jujutsu Kaisen. It comes with a printout of the artwork so kids can check their progress as they piece together the puzzle.

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1) Eric Carle Rainbow Picnic Game | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $17.99

Available: Fall 2023

Calling all young foodies! This game combines delicious food with the brilliant Eric Carle color palette. In this game, 2-4 players must race to complete their rainbows with a food of every color. Educational components like color matching are woven into the game play.

2) Richard Scarry’s Busytown Seek and Find Game | Ages: 3+ MSRP: $24.99 | Available: March 2023

This oversized, seek-and-find floor board game features colors, characters, and familiar places from Richard Scarry’s Busytown series. Preschoolers can immerse themselves in the authentic details re-created in the board game, all while learning colors and exploring their imaginations.


1) Trefl Wood Craft Origin | Ages: 12+ | MSRP: $34.99+

Available: Spring 2023

The Wood Craft line is a collection of puzzles that feature unique, irregular, and fun puzzle shapes. The pieces are extra thick and made of eco-friendly materials. The puzzles feature precise painting and intense colors for puzzlers to display when done.

2) Trefl Prime Puzzle | Ages: 12+ | MSRP: $$19.99

Available: Spring 2023

The puzzles within the Prime Puzzle collection feature ultimate fit technology that allows them to connect together into one large composition. With extra-thick pieces, these puzzles fit together so well that puzzlers can carry them around after they complete them.

Vs. System 2PCG House of X | Ages: 14+ MSRP: $34.99 | Available: Winter 2023

The Vs. System 2PCG is a two-player competitive card game in which each player takes on the role of a main character and builds a deck of cards with supporting characters, plot twists, equipment, and locations. The box includes everything kids need to begin building a deck with 200 playable cards, a token sheet, and a rule sheet. This giant issue marks Volume 5 of Vs. System 2PCG and is the first issue of the Heroes of Krakoa story arc.

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1) Abraham Hunter Puzzles | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $4.99-19.99

Available: Now

RoseArt signature artist Abraham Hunter’s calming painted scenes are now available in puzzles in 500 and 1,000 piece counts. These puzzles are mounted on European premium puzzle board for extra weight and quality. New images will be introduced to the line on an ongoing basis.

2) Kodak Puzzles | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $4.99-19.99

Available: Now

Available in 100-3,000 piece counts, this extensive puzzle collection features Kodak photography, with new images consistently joining the line each year.


Jelly Squish

Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $16.99

Available: April/May 2023

Jelly Squish is simple: Players toss the colorful foam balls across the playing surface and use the Jellyfish to scoop them up. Players draw game cards and try to complete different objectives. At the end of each round, the player who wins keeps the game card, and the player with the most cards at the end of 20 rounds wins the game.


1) Twistables Puzzles | Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $8.95 (2x2x2); $10.95 (3x3x3); $16.95 (4x4x4) | Available: Now

Kids can twist the colorful pieces on these 3D puzzles for quick turns and quick solves. The 2x2x2 Puzzle is recommended for kids ages 6 and up, while the 3x3x3 (pictured) and 4x4x4 designs are recommended for kids ages 8 and up. The 4x4x4 Puzzle is the most challenging of the three.

2) Insert Card Here | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $12.95 | Available: Now

Players must insert their card between two other cards — one that’s lower in value and one that’s higher. Things move fast as the high and low cards in play change quickly. Wild and Reverse cards keep the game hopping. The first player to play all of their cards wins the game.

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1) Irritable Vowels | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $24.99 | Available: Fall 2023

This game features an electronic tumbling die of vowels that pauses and then rumbles to roll itself at various intervals. On each roll, players will think of new words that contain the vowel and the consonant displayed on the card. This family-friendly party game is designed for 2-6 players.

2) Mosaic: A Story of Civilization | Ages: 14+ | MSRP: $69.99

Available: Now

Mosaic is a streamlined, easy-to-learn version of a civilization building game. In this strategy game, players will guide an ancient civilization from its founding, making decisions that will determine whether it will thrive or falter. They will have to choose their leader, technologies and advantages to research, location, and more to try to make the greatest civilization.


I’m a Poet (and yes, I know it) | Ages: 12+ MSRP: $26.99 | Available: April 2023

Players take turns reading the “I’m a Poet” riddles on the game cards. First, they’ll encounter a clue that rhymes with the correct answer, then a poem that describes the correct answer. Players must race to figure out the answer and grab the squishy foam bust of Willy Shakes before they blurt it out. If they guess correctly, they win the card, but if they are wrong, the reader wins the card. The first player to collect all three parts of Willy’s face wins the game.


1) Play It! — Space Crusade | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $14.99 | Available: Now

Little astronauts can pilot their spaceship through the galaxy by solving equations in this game. They’ll need to watch out for black holes that can move players ahead or take them back in time. Kids will learn facts about the solar system as they race to be the first astronaut to reach the satellite to win.

2) My First Match It! — Counting Cupcakes | Ages: 2+ MSRP: $12.99 | Available: Now

In this puzzle game, budding bakers will count the number of objects on the top of the cupcake and match it to the number on the bottom. Each of the 15 included puzzle pieces is self-correcting, so only the right answer will match.

3) Wildlife Word — Dinosaurs Puzzle | Ages: 5+ | $14.99 Available: Now

Kids can learn about natural habitats and other facts of the Jurassic era with this 200-piece, Triceratops-shaped puzzle. Created with sustainability in mind, this puzzle is made from more than 70% recycled materials.

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1) Marvel Villainous: Twisted Ambitions | Ages: 12+ MSRP: $29.99 | Available: Now

In this Marvel Villainous expandalone game, each player takes on the role of one of three Marvel Villains (Doctor Octopus, Titania, or Kang the Conqueror) and strives to complete a unique, story-based objective. While working toward victory, players must face off against iconic Marvel heroes found in a shared Fate deck, including Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, SheHulk, and more.

2) Disney Castle Collection Puzzles (1,000 Pcs) | Ages: 14+

MSRP: $29.99 | Available: Q1 2023

This puzzle collection peeks inside 10 Disney castles featuring Disney Princesses Ariel, Aurora, Belle, Cinderella, Elsa, Jasmine, Merida, Mulan, Rapunzel, and Snow White. Each illustration features a cross-section view of a different castle.

3) Star Wars Villainous Puzzles | Ages: 14+ | MSRP: $29.99

Available: Q1 2023

Imagine a Star Wars universe in which the villains’ diabolical schemes have succeeded. This puzzle collection has done just that, illustrating the “what if” scenarios of victorious villains. These five custom, 1,000-piece puzzles complement Ravensburger’s Star Wars (Power of the Dark Side) Villainous board game with visualizations of iconic villains completing their objectives.


1) Freefall | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $39.99 | Available: Now

Kids will put their spatial reasoning and dexterity to the test as they build their way through 60 progressively harder challenges. This set challenges kids to build the puzzle themselves, and then flip, turn, and guide the ball from cup to cup to finish the maze.

2) Cold Case: End of the Line | Ages: 14+ | MSRP: $11.99

Available: Now

In this murder mystery game, players must work to solve both cold cases and figure out who is the true murderer. Packed with realistic documents pertaining to the crime, players must use their investigative skills to crack the case.

3) Escape the Room: Murder in the Mafia | Ages: 14+

MSRP: $34.99 | Available: Now

In this escape room-style game, kids must clear their name as they work to figure out a murder mystery. When the game begins, a gun is found alongside a dead body. It’s up to the players to figure out who really is a murderer and work to maintain their alibi.

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Drench Soda Game | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $19.99

Available Summer/Fall 2023

How many shakes will it take until someone gets drenched? This multiplayer game of chance includes two ice-shaped dice and a Drench Soda Can that features sound effects and water-spraying action. Players roll the dice to learn if they have to keep or pass the can and how many times they have to shake it. The last player to stay dry wins a point and the first player to get three points wins the game.

The Binding of Isaac: Four Souls Requiem | Ages: 14+ MSRP: $34.99-124.99 | Available: Spring 2023

This expansion pack for The Binding of Isaac: Four Souls includes 269 new cards that players can add to the game that they already own. New game mechanics and an expanded roster of players refresh the game with new friends and foes. The expansion pack is available in a variety of configurations, including the standard edition, Big Boi Box, and the Ultimate Collection (pictured).


1) Monster Treads All Terrain Tractor | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $24.99 Available: Fall 2023

This tractor features monster truck styling, ginormous tires and a “living hinge” that kids can use to steer using the front of its cab.

2) Monster Treads Lighting Wheels | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $24.99 Available: Fall 2023

Optimus Prime and Bumblebee (pictured) from Hasbro’s Transformers brand join a John Deere Tractor in this collection of vehicles with oversized tires. Kids can roll the tractors forward or backward to activate the motion sensor lights in each tire.


1) Switch & Go Wolf Fire Chief | Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $11.99 Available: Spring 2023

Kids can take charge with this fire chief car that features realistic sound effects and lights. With a one-touch transformation, the rescue vehicle turns into a growling wolf, ready to spring into action. When kids are ready for speed again, three simple moves turn the wolf back into a car.

2) Switch & Go Hatch & Roaaar Egg Creatures | Ages: 4+ MSRP: $10.99 each | Available: Spring 2023

Kids can open the eggs to find all the pieces to build up their two-in-one dinosaur racer, then easily transform it into a velociraptor or a triceratops. The Velociraptor Racer (pictured) features fearsome raptor screeches, while the Triceratops Race Car has thunderous roar effects. Each of the Hatch & Roaaar Egg Creatures are sold separately.

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Source: The LEGO Group


1) LEGO Technic NASCAR Next Gen Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Ages: 9+ MSRP: $49.99 | Available: March 1, 2023

Kids and collectors can build their own authentic, next-gen NASCAR version of the Chevrolet Camaro. The car is packed with special features, including the steering, opening hood, and a V8 engine with moving pistons. The model is designed for both play and display.

2) LEGO Technic Ford GTE | Ages: 18+ | MSRP: $119.99

Available: March 1, 2023

The 2022 Ford GTE comes to LEGO form. The model is complete with authentic features found on its full-size counterpart, including rearwheel drive with differential, a working V6 engine, independent suspension on all wheels, front steering, opening doors, and an opening hood.

3) LEGO Technic Monster Jam Dragon | Ages: 7+ | MSRP: $19.99

Available: Now

Kids can use this 217-piece set to build a pull-back truck featuring dragon details such as spikes and horns, along with realistic graphics and colors inspired by the real Monster Jam truck. Kids can take apart the truck and rebuild a Crocodile Buggy model.


1) Hot Wheels Ultimate Garage | Ages: 5+ | MSRP: $129.99

Available: July 2023

This updated version of the Hot Wheels Ultimate Garage features movable track pieces, side-by-side racing, loops, and a nemesis battle in one playset. Kids can store and display more than 50 of their favorite Hot Wheels vehicles (sold separately) across multiple levels. The nemesis battle includes a dragon that spirals down four stories. The garage comes with two 1:64-scale die-cast vehicles and connects with other sets (sold separately) to expand the storytelling possibilities.

2) Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Arena Smashers Bone Shaker

Ultimate Crush Yard Playset | Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $26.99

Available: Spring 2023

Little racers can drive the included 1:64-scale Bone Shaker Monster Truck up the tower of crushed cars and smash it down to dominate the Ultimate Crush Yard. The Earth shakers on the base generate sensory feedback so kids can feel the destruction as they play. Five smash spots direct kids to the action that includes a smash-down mallet and giant scrap saw. Kids can connect this playset to the other Arena Smashers playsets (sold separately) to build out a Monster Trucks Arena World.

3) Matchbox 70th Anniversary Series Featuring Moving Parts

Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $2.99 | Available: April 2023

Matchbox fans can collect five limited-edition vehicles with moving parts that Mattel chose to represent the best of Matchbox over the past 70 years. The collector-friendly packaging features the iconic Matchbox orange color scheme and is decorated with 70th anniversary livery graphics.

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1) 1:64 El Toro Loco Big Air Challenge

Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $19.99

Available: Spring 2023

Bachmann HO Scale City Sprinter Train Set | Ages: 14+

MSRP: $599 | Available: Now

Take to the rails with this detailed Amtrak train set, complete with an ACS-64 electric locomotive — inspired by the real Northeast Corridor rail line between Boston and Washington, D.C. This locomotive features two lighted Amfleet coach cars, a lighted business class car, working directional LED headlights, ditch lights, and marker lights. Each passenger car is adorned with interior furnishings and functioning red marker lights. Kids can harness the power of the passenger train with the included Concrete Tie Nickel Silver E-Z Track, an oval 22-inch track that they can easily snap together. The train set also includes a raised roadbed for locomotive fun on tabletops or carpets, with authentic rail height and a concrete tie appearance. Kids can enjoy this train set right out of the box with the included power pack and controller.


Mighty Wheels 7-inch Construction Vehicles | Ages: 3+

MSRP: $25 | Available: Fall/Winter 2023

Based on the Mighty Man series, this line of vehicles includes four different trucks: Throttle the dump truck, Gauge the front loader, Crank the crane (pictured), and Tater the cement mixer. Each truck has wheels that light up in blue, green, red, or orange; says three different character phrases; and features liftable floor beds, working scoops and arms, work ing cranes, or rotating mixers.

Kids can re-create the World Finals XXI stunt with the Monster Jam El Toro Loco Big Air Challenge. This playset is more than 20 inches tall and includes an exclusive El Toro Loco truck, a launcher, and a panel target. With more than five positions on the launcher, kids can aim high to see the fireworks display.

2) Grave Digger Trax | Ages: 3+ MSRP: $69.99 | Available: Fall 2023

Kids can pull off Monster Jam stunts with this R/C vehicle that features a unique body design and rugged treads. They can ride in the dirt, over rocks, on grass, and on water thanks to the all-terrain design.

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1) Maxx Action Super Bike | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $19.99

Available: Fall 2023

This two-wheeled vehicle has colorful lights, automotive sound effects, and plays pop music. The motorbike is also built to perform tricks. Kids can press the button on the top of the motorcycle to pop a wheelie as they take off at top speeds during the big race.

2) Maxx Action Full Throttle | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $14.99

Available: Fall 2023

This bright red racecar has colorful lights and realistic automotive sound effects. The unique pedal button on the back of the car engages its top speed. Little racers can push the pedal button three or more times to rev up the engine then watch as the vehicle takes off. This car also includes pop music for added sound effects.


1) Sonic The Hedgehog 2.4GHz Tails R/C (w/ Turbo Boost) | Ages: 6+ | Available: Spring 2023

Kids can go for a spin with Miles “Tails” Prower and his Whirlwind Sport race car inspired by the Team Sonic Racing video game. The R/C replica features grippy rubber tires, LED headlights, and a powerful turbo boost. The vehicle runs on a 2.4 GHz frequency and is ready to race against NKOK’s Team Sonic Racing Sonic the Hedgehog and Shadow R/C vehicles (sold separately).

2) Halo AV-49 Wasp | Ages: 8+

Available: Spring 2023

The AV-49 Wasp is a Vertical Take-off and Landing (VTOL) aircraft. This easy-to-fly R/C is inspired by the Halo video game series and can hover in place by using an advanced altitude hold feature. The fast-moving vehicle is agile yet stable with its advanced internal gyroscopic technology. It comes with a rechargeable lithium battery pack and a USB charger.

3) Halo “Battle Hog” UNSC Warthog R/C | Ages: 6+ | Available: Spring 2023

The Warthog is an all-terrain beast that was a pivotal part of the original Halo video game and several installments since. This full-function R/C “Battle Hog” version comes with UNSC Spartan Master Chief in the driver’s seat and a UNSC Spartan MKVII Cadet on the rotating turret in the back. The transmitter features a functional turbo boost button that amps up the speed from fast to super fast. Additional Halo R/C vehicles, including the UNSC Gungoose and “Mud Hog” UNSC Warthog will be available this spring. All NKOK Halo vehicles operate at 2.4 GHz frequency, which allows 16 players to play at the same time, with a range of up to 150 feet.

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1) Avatar R/C Classic Banshee | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $44.99 Available: Now

Head from the skies of Pandora to the backyard with this Avatar-inspired R/C Banshee. The lightweight Banshee has an 11-inch wingspan, an altitude range of up to 200 feet, and a remote with simple flight modes to control speed and direction. This Banshee comes with a rechargeable lithium battery.

2) Avatar R/C Deluxe Banshee | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $59.99 | Available: Now

Inspired by the movie Avatar, this R/C features three different sound effects and 25 remote-control voice notifications, such as “connected and ready to fly.” The Banshee toy offers two flying modes for different skill levels and kids can perform tricks easily using the remote’s buttons. The Banshee has a 14-inch wingspan and an altitude range of up to 200 feet, and comes with two rechargeable lithium batteries.

1) ERTL Precision Series 1:16 John Deere 7520 Tractor — 50th Anniversary Edition Ages: 14+ | MSRP: $329 | Available: April 2023

This precision tractor features ERTL’s highest level of detail. Primarily constructed of die-cast metal, it features opening cab doors, a detailed engine with removable panels, mirrors, hydraulic hoses, and a rear hitch. This release celebrates the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the John Deere 7520 4WD tractor. This is a one-time production run and will be available at John Deere Dealerships.

2) Farmall 100th Anniversary 1:16 Tractor Collection | Ages: 14+ MSRP: $99-139 | Available: 2023

ERTL celebrates the 100th anniversary of Farmall Tractors with a collection of four die-cast replicas inspired by some of the most famous tractors in the Farmall fleet. The collection includes the Farmall F20 Tractor (March), Farmall M Tractor (May), Farmall 806 Tractor (July), and Farmall 1066 Tractor (September). Tractors are secured to a decorative base. This is a one-time production run and will be available at Case IH Dealerships.


Sphero RVR+ | Ages: 11+ | MSRP: $279 | Available: Spring 2023

This programmable robot is packed with a diverse suite of sensors and is built for customization. It’s made for novice to advanced programmers so kids can learn coding and basic computer science skills to level up their robot. It’s drivable right out of the box, and fully progammable using Python or another third-party hardware system.

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1) Ferrari SF90 Stradale | Ages: 5+ MSRP: $79.99 | Available: May 1, 2023


Magic Mixies Mixlings Magic Potions Transforming Playset

Ages: 5+ | MSRP: $24.99 | Available: July 2023

This vehicle comes with an exclusive Mixling and features a magical transformation. Kids can push the gem on the vehicle’s roof to reveal a hidden potion-making area. Kids can stir up fizz dust and water, transfer a few drops into the three colorful potion bottles with the pipette wand, and add the corresponding potion, either Love, Lucky Star, and Flight.

When they shake up the bottle, an exclusive accessory for the Mixling materializes: Love Vision Glasses, a Lucky Star Necklace, or a Winged Flight headband.

Kids can take a ride to the golf course in the Ferrari SF90 Stradale. This red sports car is full of realistic details, including a light-up dashboard, working head and tail lights, a steering wheel with the Ferrari logo, a V8 engine in the trunk, and more. Kids can also take the top of the car off to put the figures in and check out all the details. This playset also comes with two figures, golf bags, a suitcase, and other accessories.

2) Catamaran | Ages: 4-10 MSRP: $29.99 | Available: May 1, 2023

Kids can sail away on adventures on a catamaran with the three figures in this set. The set has everything they need for a pretend day on the water, including floats, binoculars, seagulls, and other matching sail-ready accessories.


Carrera First Peppa Pig Kids GranPrix | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $49.99 Available: Spring 2023

The Carrera First line offers young drivers an entry point into the world of slot car racing. This battery-powered set includes Peppa Pig and her little brother George in colorful soapbox racers. The 7.8-foot racing circuit is in a “figure 8” configuration and includes colorful graphics inspired by the Peppa Pig TV series.

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Hoonigan R/C Vehicles

Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $19.99-99.99

Available: Fall 2023

Flybar teamed up with Hoonigan, a brand focused on aggressive driving and the wild side of car culture to make 1:8-, 1:16-, and 1:32-scale R/C vehicles. The vehicles include the 1:8 Hoonicorn with lights and sounds; the 1:16 Hoonicorn, Hoonitruck, and Chevy Camaro ZZ632; and the 1:32 Hoonitron, Chevy Camaro ZZ632, Hoonitruck, and Hoonicorn. Each vehicle has a control range of up to 150 feet with the battery operated remote. All of the vehicles are rechargable.


1) My Lil’ Ride RC | Ages: 2+ | MSRP: $19.99

Available: Summer 2023

These character cars serve as an introduction to the world of R/C vehicles. The soft, silicone bodies make the cars safe for little ones and the easy R/C controls include forward and backward buttons. There are three character vehicles to collect, including Carmen the Convertible (pictured), Charlie the Choo Choo, and Beatrice the Bee, each sold separately.

2) Kool Kreepers RC-Rex | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $34.99

Available: Fall 2023

RC-Rex is a color-changing Cameleosaurus with lights, sounds, and “Snatch & Catch” feeding technology —when he gets hungry, his tongue shoots out to catch one of the four included food pellets. Kids can move RC-Rex in different directions and he

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1) Pet Paddle Pool | MSRP: $59.99 | Available: Spring/Summer 2023

This paddle pool is like a kiddie pool, but for your fur baby. There is no infla tion required; it folds out for easy assembly and packing. The pool is made from a durable PVC material and measures 47 by 47 by 11 inches.

2) Pet Donut Pool Float | MSRP: $39.99

Available: Spring/Summer 2023

Dogs can relax in the water without having to doggy paddle with this 36-inch, doughnut-shaped pool float decorated with dog bone sprinkles. The pet floatie features an inflatable base with two side holes that allow water to seep in and keep your pet cool while floating. It is made with extra-thick PVC to protect it from scratches.

3) Tennis Ball Pet Sprinkler | MSRP: $29.99

Available: Spring/Summer 2023

This 28-inch-wide inflatable tennis ball hooks up to a garden hose and features a 360-degree sprinkler at the top to keep dogs cool in the sun. The set comes with tethers and stakes to keep it secure.


Fisher-Price Pets Collection | MSRP: $14.99-24.99 | Available: Now Mattel and PetSmart designed the Fisher-Price Pets collection to support a healthy, happy puppy or dog. Items in the collection are inspired by classic Fisher-Price toys and target specific developmental needs, such as teething, calming, and interactivity. The first wave includes the RockA-Stack-inspired Attack-A-Stack Chase & Toss Toy (pictured), Pull Along Rocket, Sound Bites, and more.

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Source: BigMouth Inc.


1) Brightkins Spinning Hydrants Treat Puzzle | MSRP: $24.99

Available: Now

This puzzle makes treat time for your dog entertaining and stimulating by challenging their brain as the fire hydrants spin around to dispense treats for them. Pet owners can choose how much work their pets will have to put into treat time that day with the adjustable flow that allows for two challenge levels. The puzzle includes non-stick, rubber feet to keep the toy in place as pets figure out the puzzle.

2) Brightkins Pooch School! Training Set | MSRP: $15.99

Available: Now

Teach your dog 10 essential skills with this school-themed training set that includes handy tools and a family-friendly, 24-page guide. Pet owners can fill the treat-storing apple with treats and use it with the pencil, which serves as a treat dispenser and a target stick. The set also includes a mini stapler that serves as a training clicker with an audible “click” sound and a set of training cards.

3) Brightkins Cactus Surprise! Treat Dispenser | MSRP: $12.99

Available: Now

Dogs can use their brain (and paws!) to free the treats from this wiggly, wobbly cactus. The treat dispenser provides mental stimulation as pets roll, shake, or toss it to release treats for a slow feeding activity during snack time.


1) Oddball Olga | MSRP: $13 | Available: Now

Best Suited for medium and large dogs, Oddball Olga features a dense, durable squeaker ball inside. Pet parents of smaller-mouthed pups will need to assist with squeaking, but dogs of all sizes can enjoy all eight tentacles of this curious-looking cephalopod that allow for easy grasping and celebratory shaking.

2) Twiggy Medium | MSRP: $13 | Available: Now

The medium-size Twiggy chew toy is 12 inches long and includes two unique internal squeakers, offering a different sound with every bite. It features durable fabric and a lightweight design.

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1) Star Wars Ewok Walking Pet Costume | MSRP: $24.99

Available: Available Now

Celebrate the 40th anniversary of Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi take your dog to Endor in this Ewok costume. The costume is a step-in suit with a headpiece and ear holes. The suit also has a stuffed spear attached to the hand.

2) Star Wars Grogu Classic Pet Costume | MSRP: $24.99

Available: Available Now

Dogs can take on the role of one of the Star Wars universe’s cutest characters, Grogu, in this costume. A stuffed frog conceals the costume’s velcro seal on the chest. It also comes with a headpiece that wraps around the pet’s head.

3) Alligator Loki Dog Walker Costume | MSRP: $24.99

Available: Available Now

Turn your dog into the God of Mischief! This pet costume slides onto dogs’ front legs and has stuffed feet and a tail. There is also a hood with ear slits that features Loki’s horns.


1) Pac-Man for Pets 3 Piece Crinkle Set | MSRP: $12.99 | Available: Now

Dog parents can level up their pet’s playtime with this officially licensed set of 4-inch Crinkle Flattie Squeak Toys from the Pac-Man for Pets collection. Inspired by characters from the original arcade game, the line features PacMan, Inky, and Blinky.

2) Minecraft for Pets 9-inch Oxford Bone Plush Squeak Toy for Dogs | MSRP: $10.99 | Available: Now

Minecraft enthusiasts can give their dog a bone with this pluish squeak toy. Officially licensed by Mojang, it is part of the larger Minecraft for Pets collection that includes pet toys inspired by the characters, creatures, and crafts from the popular game.

3) Care Bears for Pets Collection

MSRP: $9.99-12.99 | Available: Now

Care Bears collectibles have been cuddled by fans for 40 years, and now pets can join in the snuggle-fest with their own Care Bears pet plush toys. The collection features several plush characters, including Cheer Bear, Grumpy Bear, and a Halloween Bear (pictured).

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Minimize your risk of a lawsuit by finding out if you do own it.

Picture this: You finally made it on Shark Tank! There you are, making that pitch — smiles and heads nodding all around and you’re sensing the electricity in the air. Finally, the Sharks ask, “Do you own your IP?” and you say, “Yes, of course.” Then you hear those magic words: “Do you accept our offer?”

As you’re about to shake on it, the doors behind you burst open and a graphic designer slides in beside you like a baseball runner heading for home plate and yells, “Wait a minute, that’s my IP, I created it!” Shocked, you look back and forth between him and the Sharks. Dumbfounded, you try to gather your wits and stammer, “But, but, I paid you for that.”

While it seems dramatic, these situations actually happen and are avoidable by taking easy steps to ensure you actually own your intellectual property (IP).

Before diving into this, let’s quickly review the most common types of IP: copyrights, trademarks, patents, and trade secrets. While IP ownership issues can come up in connection with any of these, for practical purposes, copyrights are the most common type of IP that’s involved when it comes to working with, collaborating with, or hiring people to assist you with your project or product. Keep in mind that working with people can also apply to family, friends, or other connections who you may ask to help you out. So, while we’re primarily focusing on copyright ownership, you should also consider your trademarks, patents, and possible contributions to your trade secrets.

So, let’s tackle the statement from our Shark Tank pitch person earlier who said they paid for IP. The default

rule is typically if anyone other than you has worked or is working on any of your projects or products — especially if that contribution is creative in nature — the likelihood is that they will own their contribution to it. That means you do not automatically own IP created for you, even if you pay for it.

made for hire” from the moment of creation and you (or your company) shall be the sole and exclusive owner over all rights, including, without limitation, moral rights, to that creation or work.

• The person or company creating the work for you or your brands “irrevocably transfers (or irrevocably assigns) all rights, including, without limitation, moral rights to the work.”

• You own not only all the “works” created for you, but also all derivatives based on those works.

4. Have the right person sign the contract. Who is that? Anyone who does anything of a creative nature for you or helps you with your products and brands.

With that in mind, here are some simple steps you can take to minimize a lawsuit or a sudden deal stopper:

1. Make sure you know who owns what when it comes to your brands and products. If you need to, ask an expert, such as an IP attorney.

2. Get the ownership agreement in writing (ideally before the work is created). Unless there is a signed contract to the contrary, ownership of copyrights and other IP rights can vest with the creator of any given work, even if you paid for it.

3. Have specific language in the contract that signals to both parties that you own the IP to creative works or any contributions made for you or your company by a third party. Some examples, for your reference only, are as follows:

• The creation or work is a “work

Quick tip: With employees, it’s generally presumed that ownership of anything created within the scope of employment will be owned by the employer as a work made for hire, but it’s always better to check and be sure.

You work hard on your creation so it pays to own your IP. Spotting this issue up front can save you time and money and possibly getting that deal on Shark Tank. Wishing you much success! 

Stephanie Pottick is a U.S. attorney and course creator who used to work on the business side of the toy industry dealing in product creation, protection, and licensing, allowing her to understand them from both the business and legal perspectives. Her passion is to educate creators so they can protect, launch, and license with confidence. Email her at

*Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and not intended as legal advice.

“The likelihood is that [anyone other than you who worked on your products] will own their contribution to it ... You do not automatically own IP created for you, even if you pay for it.”
STEPHANIE POTTICK, ESQ., Pottick Law PC & Protect for Success



Connetix Pastel Starter Pack | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $99

Available: April 2023

Encourage STEM learning with this 68-piece construction set. The Connetix Pastel Starter Pack features a range of geometric-shaped, magnetic tiles in eight pastel colors. Kids can create 2D or 3D designs of houses, castles, car parks, puzzles, sorting boxes, and much more — all while learning concepts of magnetism, shapes, patterns, and colors.


1) Techno Tiles Rainbow Set | Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $29.99

Available: Now

Kids can turn basic shapes into grand masterpieces with this non-magnetic, snap-together, geometric building set. This colorful set includes more than 400 pieces, including squares, small triangles, large triangles, and snap-on two-way and fourway connectors.

2) Techno Gears Marble Mania — Xpress | Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $24.99

Available: Now

Young engineers can build an action-packed marble maze with more than 80 translucent pieces. Once built, kids can watch their marbles launch, drop, spin, and roll through the twisting and turning tracks while learning STEM concepts.

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Source: The LEGO Group
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1) Learn to Build People of the World | Ages: 5+ | MSRP: $19.99 Available: Now

Celebrate the diversity of the global community with this new STEM building set that features five skin tone colors. Kids will build 2D and 3D people while developing fine motor skills, focus, and patience.

2) Flags of the World | Ages: 5+ | MSRP: $26.99 | Available: Now

Kids can build flags from countries all around the world in 2D and 3D. Along with the 500 included pieces, kids can use the educational guide book to decide which flags they want to make and then create.

MSRP: $69.95 | Available: Spring 2023

Kids can build their own robotic model of a T. rex, then use the handheld controller to command the robot to move in all directions, light up its eyes, and play sound effects, including chowing down on food and farting. With the Code+Control wireless unit, kids can either directly control Rex or write and save sequences of commands for the robot to perform when they push a button. No app or separate device is required. This kit comes with step-by-step instructions and a screwdriver for kids to assemble the robot and controller from more than 150 pieces and dinosaur stickers to decorate it.

2) Trainbots: 2-in-1 Steam Maker Kit

Ages: 12+ (8+ with help) | MSRP: $39.95

Available: Spring 2023

Young engineers can build their own steampunk-style train robot that features steam effects. Kids can build the TrainBot in two different configurations: a rolling train or a walking robot. When they turn it on, they can watch it move with water vapor “steam” billowing from its chimney, lit up with orange LED lights. The model also helps to teach kids how the electric motor, circuit board, and ultrasonic atomizer work; the differences between fog, smoke, and steam; and some history of the steampunk craze.

3) Hydraulic Boxing Bots | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $49.95

Available: Summer 2023

With this kit, kids can build two boxing robots — Robo-Boxer and Kangaroo-Bot — and challenge a friend to a match. The robots feature complex shoulder gestures, two boxing punches, three waist postures, and interchangeable heads. Kids can use the handheld hydraulic controls to make the bots box.

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John Deere Buildables | Ages: 5+ | MSRP: $14.99

With this complete farm-in-a-box set, kids can build their own farm scene with vehicles, animals, and other farm staples, including a tractor,


Meccano Maker’s Toolbox | Ages: 8+ MSRP: $39.99 | Available: Fall 2023

This toolbox includes more than 400 pieces and instructions to create five movable builds, from race cars and spaceships to the Eiffel Tower and a catapult. When kids are done building, they can pack up everything inside of the toolbox for easy cleanup and storage.

1) LEGO Friends Heartlake International School | Ages: 7+ MSRP: $99.99 | Available: Now

Kids can build a modular school using 985 pieces. The school building includes classrooms, relaxation areas, a canteen, an entrance with lockers, a bathroom, a basketball net, and more. It comes with five mini dolls; a pet hamster character; and lots of accessories, such as a video camera, a laptop, a microscope, and art supplies.

2) LEGO CITY Custom Car Garage | Ages: 6+ MSRP: $59.99 | Available: Now

Kids can explore car models up close with this 507-piece set. Once built, the custom car workshop features a configuration wall, ramps, and an engine hoist. It comes complete with two customizable cars, two mechanic minifigures, and two driver minifigures. Kids can build their own custom cars using a range of toy engines and modular front and rear sections with different headlights, bumpers, and spoilers.

3) LEGO Marvel The Hulkbuster: The Battle of Wakanda | Ages: 7+ | MSRP: $49.99 Available: Now

Inspired by the mech seen in Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Infinity War, the fully construct ed Hulkbuster features multi-jointed arms, legs, and fingers for poseability and imaginative play. The 385-piece set includes four minifgures: Bruce Banner, Okoye, and two outriders.

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1) MEGA Pokémon Motion Butterfree | Ages: 12+ MSRP: $64.99 | Available: Spring 2023

Pokémon enthusiasts have gotta catch this 605-piece, build-anddisplay toy. Designed for older kids and adult builders, the mechanized construction set is the most detailed and elaborate Butterfree to date. The grass environment becomes “animated” when builders activate the toy and the base includes nameplates in different languages.

2) MEGA Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Tiger Shark Chomp Course | Ages: 5+ | MSRP: $32.99 Available: Spring 2023

Kids can build a Hot Wheels Monster Truck with a tiger-striped paint job and a shark fin body. The set includes ramps and a ring of fire along with a poseable driver micro action figure. Young builders can pull and release the truck to send it speeding into action and the hood will pop off on impact.

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National Geographic Epic Forts 70-piece Kit | Ages: 4+ MSRP: $49.99 | Available: Fall 2023

Build the coolest fort in the neighborhood with this hands-on, 70-piece engineering kit. Kids can use the flexible connectors and thicker poles to easily build life-size structures in unique shapes that stay sturdy.


Magicube | Ages: 2+ | MSRP: $30

Available: Spring 2023

Kids can build different shapes and structures with these magnetic building blocks. These sets provide progressive play activities that help guide kids on how to build shapes, to combine different shapes and colors, and to develop creativity and spatial skills. This STEM toy now comes in a 16-piece set (pictured) that includes 10 magnetic blocks and six double-sided cards that provide 12 different activities. This new set is made with 100% recycled plastics.


Animal Collection Series 1 | Ages: 14+ | MSRP: $14.99

Available: Spring 2023


1) Challenger 14 Pc Set and 30 Pc Set | Ages: 3+ MSRP: $27.99-55.69 | Available: Spring 2023

With 14 pieces including squares, hexagons, triangles, and more, kids can build buildings, creatures, and anything else they can imagine. Kids will learn all about the science of magnets while building with this pieces. The Challenger sets will be available in 14- (pictured) and 30-piece versions, each sold separately.

3) Basic 42 Pc Set | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $79.99

Available: Spring 2023

With this original Magfomers set, kids can learn a unique way to build using combine, roll, and pull-up technique. The options are endless for young builders to create while learning about the science of magnets and construction.

This collection of buildable animals was developed under a licensing agreement with The Smithsonian. Series 1 includes five animals to collect and build: Giant Panda, Reticulated Giraffe, Asian Elephant, Sumatran Tiger, and Eastern Chimpanzee. Each set comes with a hardbound instruction booklet that includes extensive details on each

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1) Explore STEM | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $22.95 Available: Spring 2023

With these biographical activity kits, kids can explore the lives and discoveries of two women in STEM: Marie Curie, who discovered radium and polonium, and Ada Lovelace (pictured), the first computer programmer.

2) Home Grown | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $29.95-39.95 Available: Spring 2023

Kids can use kitchen scraps to grow their own plants with these kits. The line includes a starter kit with pots, mis ters, other tools, and a LED lamp to help the plants grow.


Miniverse Make It Mini Food | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $6.99-9.99 Available: Now

Kids can make and display their own mini food collection. Each mystery ball comes with surprise ingredients, kitchen accessories, and a recipe. Kids can make their mini food, then set the finished dish in daylight for about five minutes to let the resin harden. Although the ingredients aren’t edible, the finished product is designed to look like a delicious plate of food in miniature scale. Kids can use the included collector’s guide as they try to collect the more than 100 Make It Mini Food ingredients.

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Source: Breyer


1) National Geographic Mosaic Craft Kit | Ages: 8+ MSRP: $11.99 | Available: Fall 2023

Little artists will make three mosaic masterpieces using the included plaster and glass tiles. They can display their finished pieces or give them as a gift.

2) National Geographic Crystal Reef | Ages: 8+ MSRP: $24.99 | Available: Summer 2023

Kids can create crystal coral reefs with this crystal growing kit. The first crystals form in minutes and will fully cover the coral shapes in about six hours. Kids can color each coral shape with the included watercolor pens to choose the color of each crystal.

3) National Geographic Leaf Dish Air-Dry Clay Kit | Ages: 6+ MSRP: $11.99 | Available: Summer 2023

Make art from nature with this Leaf Dish Air-Dry Clay Kit. This set comes with everything kids need to make four leaf dishes, including a pound of air-dry clay, leaf stencils, a sculpting tool, and paints to dec orate each piece. Kids will learn about the science of clay and pottery from around the world with the learning guide and follow easy-to-un derstand instructions.


1) Mini Clay World Puppy Treat Truck | Ages: 7+ | MSRP: $22.99 Available: Now

Get sculpting with this arts and crafts book, featuring a variety of clay dogs and clay treats in five colors. It includes clay pupperoni pizza, pupcakes, and puppuccinos. Kids can use the included mixed-media supplies to create easy, yet realistic, details that bring their puppy treat truck to life.

2) LEGO Minifigure Photography | Ages: 7+ | MSRP: $24.99 Available: July 2023

Kids can learn how to take great photos with the LEGO Minifigures Photography book. It features step-by-step photos that LEGO fans can follow to make the most out of their own collections and imagine creative scenarios for their minifigures. The book includes 30 LEGO elements and a posing rod.

3) Pokémon Stained Glass Art | Ages: 7+ | MSRP: $22.99 Available: September 2023

Kids can create 18 sun catchers with some of their favorite Pokémon characters, including Pikachu, Eevee, Charizard, and more. The kit comes complete with 10 double-tipped markers and vellum paper that kids can use to create a stained glass effect.

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1) Craft-tastic Nature Toad Abode | Ages: 5+ | MSRP: $19.99

Available: March 2023

Toads deserve a home, too! Kids can use the instructions to design a mushroom-shaped toad house or to create their own designs. The little hut is weather-resistant, so kids can leave the toad home out all summer long. The set comes with a pressed paper form, clay, sealant, mini dowel rods, stickers, waxed paper, and a sculpting tool.

2) Craft Crush Plant Charms | Ages: 13+ | MSRP: $19.99

Available: Available Now

Teens with a green thumb can use this set to make four faux stained-glass charms to hang in their potted plants. They can pour the colored crystals into the metal frames, bake them, and then hang them up to add decorative flair to any room. The different frames include a moon, pyramids, a bee, and a leaf.

3) Fashion Plates Fashion Faces | Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $24.99

Available: March 2023

Kids can create up to 64 hairstyle and face combinations with this set. They can combine the mix-and-match plates to create different faces that they can then transfer to paper with the included rubbing crayons. The set also includes a table frame, a crayon holder, coloring sticks, paper, stickers, a carrying tote, and a stencil.


1) HD Coloring Kit | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $15.99 | Available: Holiday 2023

This kit has everything kids need to create HD-looking pictures. The set comes with 40 colored pencils and 20 black-and-white coloring pages that are already shaded, so kids just have to color over them. The pages are also loose, so kids don’t have to worry about ripping their creations when they want to display them. Pictures in the kit include wildlife, plants, and more.

2) Anime-Style Drawing Kit | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $24.99

Available: Holiday 2023

Kids can learn how to draw anime-style pictures with this set, which comes with an instructional guidebook and all the art supplies kids need for the endeavor, including colored pencils, markers, sketch pencils, and more. The guide explains the basics of character creation, coloring, and shading.

3) Color Chemistry Junior Lab | Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $19.99

Available: Holiday 2023

This colorful chemistry kit has 25 different science activities and experiments designed for kids to do without their parents. Kids can follow the easy-to-read instructions to complete the experiments, which include classic staples like a baking soda volcano.

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Pixicade POPS! Ocean Adventure Kit | Ages: 6+ MSRP: $9.99 | Available: Summer 2023

This kit includes everything kids need to customize their own Pixicade video games with some deep sea flair. Kids can use animated interactive characters, props, and hazards to create an immmersive ocean adventure in their Pixicade game creations. The kit includes Pixicade POPS such as a clam with a pearl in it that can eat an avatar, Bubbles the fish that blows bubbles, and more. Each kit contains five Pixicade POPS, six game templates, a drawstring bag, and QR codes that unlock music and background power-ups in the Pixicade app.

The EggMini & DinoMini Mega Pack | Ages: 3+ MSRP: $39.99 | Available: Fall 2023

With this egg-decorating kit, kids can decorate hard-boiled eggs from home or the included Dino and Stikbot eggs. The Eggmazing Egg Decorator holds and spins a hard boiled large or extra large egg, while kids use the included markers to create stripes, lines, and other designs on it. The Dino eggs are filled with one of six collectible dinosaurs covered in slime, while the Stikbot eggs contain festive Easter figures such as a chick and a bunny. The set includes an egg mini decorator, a dino mini decorator, Dino eggs, Stikbot eggs, Stickbot accessories, and 20 nontoxic markers for decorating.


1) Friendship Bracelet Maker | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $24.99

Available: Spring 2023

Tweens can make friendship bracelets for all of their BFFs with this set, which helps them master different knots and patterns. The Friendship Bracelet Maker comes with 10 patterns to test out, and additional patterns are available at This set includes enough thread to make up to 20 bracelets.

2) DIY Jewelry Kits | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $19.99

Available: Spring 2023

There are two sets in this line: Rainbows and Pearls (pictured) and Sweet Treats. Each set has enough supplies to make 7-8 bracelets, including cords, beads, and charms surrounding each sets’ theme. The sets come with easy-to-fol low instructions so tweens can easily create their own jewelry.

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1) Sew Amazing Workshop | Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $49.99

Available: March 2023

Kids can develop introductory sewing skills with this set, which includes a fully functional sewing machine complete with two speed settings and a foot pedal. Kids can make and customize clothes and accessories with this set, which includes extra thread, fabric, and a pattern to get kids started. The set also comes with a removable table for larger projects.

2) Play House Activity Desk | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $129.99

Available: August 2023

The Play House Activity Desk is a creativity hub. The set comes with paper that kids can roll across the table for drawing, a black chalkboard surface, a building brick surface, and a storage area for all the supplies when playtime ends. The set is made with sustainably sourced wood.


1) Creatto | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $24.95-44.95

Available: Spring 2023

Thames & Kosmos adds to its line of Creatto light-up 3D puzzle kits this spring. The new, full-size kits include Puppy Pals (pictured), Dino Planet, Rainbow Butterfly, and American Bald Eagle & Frontier Friends. Each kit includes assembly instructions for four different configurations, but kids can also build up whatever they can imagine. Once it’s built, kids can add strings of colored LED lights to their creation.

2) Newton’s Apple: Tightrope-Walking Gyrobot

Ages: 12+ (8+ with help) | MSRP: $29.95

Available: Spring 2023

Kids can build up this apple robot that will then walk along a tightrope thanks to its motorized gyroscope. Through five experiments, kids can discover how the gyroscope works and explore the physics behind its behaviors. They can experiment with getting it to walk on the different included tracks and on a string, investigate its center of gravity, play a ring-toss game, and watch the gyrobot spin on a flat surface.

3) Solar Race Car | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $15.95 | Available: Spring 2023

Kids can snap-together this kit’s 22 parts to assemble the car, then place it in the sun to power its electric motor. They’ll also learn about the basic principles of solar photovoltaics, solar cells, and real solar cars and clean energy.

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Big Fat Yarn Squishmallows Accessory Kits

Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $12.99-19.99

Available: Spring 2023

Kids can make accessories for their Squishmallows using these two knitting kits. The Fashion Kit makes accessories for 8- and 10-inch Squishmallows, including a headband, crossbody bag, or hoodie. The Cozy kit makes accessories for 12- and 14-inch Squishmallows, including a pom-pom hat or pocket scarf (pictured). Each kit is designed for kids to use their hands to finger knit and includes step-by-step instructions and video tutorials.


1) SunGemmers Large Unicorn Suncatcher Craft Kit

Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $19.98 | Available: Now

Kids can stick colored gems onto a 16-inch unicorn design for a mess-free craft project. Once it’s complete, they can display in the sunlight for shimmering decor.

2) Style Your Own Mermaid or Flower Headbands

Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $15.99 | Available: Now

This DIY headband kit comes in mermaid or flower styles. Each kit comes with 28 themed charms, six headbands, and three decorative fabric headband covers. Kids can select a combination of decorative accessories and assemble their headbands.


1) Kinetic Sand Deluxe Beach Castle | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $24.99 | Available: Fall 2023

With this playset, kids can build and customize their own sand castle with 2.5 pounds of Kinetic Sand Beach Sand. The playset also includes a multitiered tray for dynamic builds and 10 multipurpose tools and molds to decorate the castle. When kids are done playing, they can seal the play tray with the new, easy-seal lid.

2) Orbeez Mixin’ Slime Set | Ages: 5+ | MSRP: $19.99 | Available: Fall 2023

This set is the newest addition to Spin Master’s Orbeez line. Kids can mix the Orbeez into the slime with the mixing dome, then spin the dome to create their very own combination. For more satisfying feels, kids can squish more Orbeez into the slime. The set comes with more than 2,800 grown Orbeez, slime in two colors, and tools for kids to mix and customize their creations.

3) Cool Maker Popstyle Bracelet Maker | Ages: 7+ | MSRP: $24.99

Available: Fall 2023

With this activity set, kids can make bracelets with no knots, clasps, or cuts. They start by choosing from 170 beads and placing them on the elastics, then popping the top to reveal their custom bracelet. Kids can make and remake up to 10 bracelets by swapping out the beads any time they want.

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1) Rainbow Loom Loomi-Pal Cylinder Surprise Kit | Ages: 7+ MSRP: $2.99 | Available: July 2023

This bracelet craft kit comes in a cylinder packed with a mystery assortment of 30 collectible Loomi-Pals charms from Rainbow Loom and everything that kids need to make four bracelets. There are more than 160 different Loomis-Pals characters to collect.

2) Rainbow Loom Loomies 2-Pack DIY Characters

Ages: 7+ | MSRP: $5.99 | Available: July 2023

Loomies are collectible DIY Characters. Each pack contains a frame, rubber bands, and easy-to-use tools for kids to create their own Loomies figurine. Loomies come with interchangeable, themed accessories that kids can use to accent characters for play and display.

3) Rainbow Loom Beadmoji Bracelet Kit | Ages: 7+ | MSRP: $4.99 | Available: July 2023

Kids can tell a story using Beadmoji kits, which include a collection of unique beads that feature fun messages and icons. Each kit comes with the new Rainbow Loom speed loom and a dual hook so that kids can create the bracelets twice as fast.


Horse & Barn Paint & Play | Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $19.99 | Available: Now

Breyer Crafts continues its collaboration with YouTube crafting channel My Froggy Stuff with this kit, featuring an 11-piece wood barn that kids can construct without using tools or glue. It comes with a ready-to-paint, 1:32-scale Stablemates horse, realistic horse paint colors, and a paintbrush. The kit also features a scannable QR code linking to instructional videos that include a “little something extra” tutorial from Toya of My Froggy Stuff


Miraculous Fashion Designer Sketchbook | Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $17.99 Available: Now

This DIY kit comes with double-sided brush markers, stickers, stencils, and a spiral-bound sketchbook. Kids can unsnap the cover and flip through the sketchbook to find Miraculous-themed designs, then give the cast of characters their signature superhero looks with sticker costumes, accessories, and more.

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1) LEGO DOTS Bracelet Designer Mega Pack | Ages: 6+ MSRP: $29.99 | Available: Now

This Mega Pack features 388 pieces, including hundreds of tiles, 12 special charms, and 20 exclusive graphic tiles. Kids can style five different bracelets at a time, and restyle them anytime they like to match their mood, outfit, or interests. Everything stores in the included tray when kids are finished creating.

2) LEGO DOTS Extra DOTS Series 8 — Glitter and Shine | Ages: 6+ MSRP: $3.99 | Available: Now

An add-on to LEGO DOTS design sets, this pack comes with 115 pieces, including colored, glitter, opalescent, and 3D-effect star tiles. Each pack also features 10 out of 16 surprise decorated tiles.


Dippin’ Designs Enchanted Egg Wrap Kit

Ages: 5+ | MSRP: $9.99

Available: Spring 2023

Kids can use hydro-dipping technology to easily decorate Easter eggs with less mess. They use the dipping tools to stick the hydro-dip sheets to the egg, then dip and twirl them for detailed designs with no dye required. Each kit comes with 14 hydro-dip sheets, egg stands, dipping tools, and smoothing tools.


1) Imagine Ink Magic Ink Pictures (Bendon) | Ages: 3+ MSRP: $5.99 | Available: Spring 2023

Kids can enjoy Bluey-themed, mess-free coloring, games, and activities in this travel-friendly booklet. The 20-page Magic Ink book comes with a Mess-Free Imagine Ink marker that reveals color on the pages.

2) Bluey Clip and Carry Case (Horizon Group USA)

Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $14.97 | Available: Spring 2023

This activity-based clipboard doubles as a carry case and comes with more than 120 pieces. Kids can color, stamp, and sticker Bluey and the Heeler family on the included drawing templates, decorate the clipboard, and scratch to reveal hidden Bluey characters using a wooden scratching tool as a stylus. Young artists can store the crafting components and finished projects inside the clipboard.

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Aquabeads Super Mario Character Set | Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $14.99

Available: Now

Kids can level up with this Aquabeads set and create their favorite Super Mario characters out of beads. This water-activated fuse bead craft activity set includes more than 600 solid, jewel, and star beads in 17 colors; a layout tray; a water dropper; and three template sheets. Kids select their template and place the sheet under the tray, aligning the beads to the spacing on the tray. Then, they can follow the template to place the beads to create Mario, Luigi, Peach, Bowser, and more and spray them with water to fuse them together.


Hey Clay Sets | Ages: 5+ | MSRP: $12.95-19.95 | Available: Spring 2023

Fat Brain Toys adds there new sets to the Hey Clay line this year: Ocean Creatures, Poop Oops, and Eco Cars (pictured). Kids can pick from either six ocean creatures, nine bodily byproducts, or three eco cars, then follow along with the interactive, 3D, step-by-step instructions to mold them one simple shape at a time. Kids will learn real sculpting techniques along the way. When they are finished, the Eco Cars actually roll. Each kit is sold separately.


1) Cra-Z Slimy Maker, Jars, and Bucket | Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $6.99-24.99 | Available: Now

Cra-Z Slimy is premade slime that kids can stretch, squeeze, and ooze without it tearing. It’s available in prepackaged jars and buckets in new varieties, including Rainbow Glow, 4-in-1 Textures (pictured), Tie Dye, and more. Kids can also mix their own slime creations with the Cra-Z Slimy Slime Studio, sold separately.

2) Cra-Z Slimy Mini Mania Slimy Foods | Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $12.99

Available: Now

This set comes with 10 different multicolor Slimy Foods, each filled with gooey slime: Honey, Gel-lo, Spring Water, Soda, Cheese Crackers, Sweet Pickles, Peanut Butter, Slushy, Ice Cream, and Cake Mix. When kids are ready for cleanup, they can store the slime back in the plastic containers.

3) Softee Dough CoComelon Mold & Play School Bus | Ages: 3+ MSRP: $24.99 | Available: Now

With this kit, kids can mold and shape their favorite CoComelon characters out of Softee Dough. The set includes a portable, school bus-shaped case to store everything; dough molds; and a playmat scene of JJ’s favorite playground for imaginative play.

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Play-Doh Kitchen Creations Magical Mixer Playset | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $16.99

Available: Now

Kids can create Play-Doh versions of their favorite desserts with this playset. It comes with 10 ounces of Play-Doh in assorted colors, molds, and tools that kids

a paint by number with the satisfaction of a puzzle in a unique creative experience. Using the enclosed pattern, puzzlers will fill in the design by matching each number with the corresponding color. When kids are done, they can display it on a table or hang it up as room decor.


1) Lite-Brite Deluxe Power Board | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $14.99 Available: Fall 2023

The next generation of Lite-Brite gets a glow-up with Glow Flow gel pens. Kids can position the board horizontally, vertically, or upright via the included legs, then draw with the Glow Flow gel pens for a shining pop of color. They can then use the detachable screen wiper that clicks into place to erase and continue creating over and over again.

2) Play-Doh Air Clay Ultimate Sculpting Studio | Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $14.99 Available: Fall 2023

This 60-piece set comes with a sturdy table with foldable legs, 15 Air Clay color packs, four molding tools, six molds, 20 keychains, and 10 sets of googly eyes. The included sculpting guide provides inspiration for kids as they squish, mix, and sculpt their next masterpiece.

3) Zzand Scented Flow Pops | Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $16.99

Available: Fall 2023

Creativity meets ASMR with Zzand Scented Flow Pops. This 11-piece set includes three bags of scented Zzand (strawberry, blueberry, and grape), three popsicle molds, and a tray stand. Kids can mold, crush, and pull apart their sweet creations with the free-flowing Zzand that won’t stick to their hands.

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1) Creativity for Kids & The World of Eric Carle The Very Hungry Caterpillar Story Puppets | Ages: 3+ MSRP: $19.99 | Available: Spring 2023

Kids can transform two super-soft socks into their very own The Very Hungry Caterpillar-inspired puppets. All of the felt shapes are peel and stick, so that kids can practice their fine motor skills as they make this no-mess craft. They can “feed” The Very Hungry Caterpillar with the included 10 foam finger puppets. The imaginative play will help to foster kids creativity, language development, and

2) Creativity for Kids & The World of Eric Carle The Very Hungry Caterpillar

My Book Tote | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $19.99 | Available: Spring 2023

Kids can use the colorful, peel-and-stick fabric shapes to customize their canvas book tote. This quick and easy craft requires no sewing, scissors, or glue. Kids can follow the pre-printed designs as they practice their color and shape recognition and develop their fine motor skills. They can also use the apple “luggage tag” to store their library card or personalize the tag with their name.


Magic Mixies Magic Potions Kit | Ages: 5+ MSRP: $19.99 | Available: July 2023

Kids can create more than 70 magical potions that bubble, gel, or turn to droplets using the eight included ingredients — such as Fairy Breeze, Unicorn Gold, and Forest Rain — and others that they can find at home, such as Twilight Nectar (oil), Liquid Lightning (milk), and Magic Dust (flour). The set comes with everything kids need to brew up their magic potions, including two mixing cauldrons, eight potion ingredients, a spell book, a measuring cup and spoon, a pipette, and safety goggles.

Available: Fall/Winter 2023

This line of slime is inspired by sweet treats, including cake (pictured), doughnuts, ice cream, macaron, waffles, and milkshakes. Each activity set includes a silicone or plastic mold, a dish, or a tumbler for kids to create slime creations with different textures and accessories.

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1) Aphmau MeeMeows Mystery Plush — Series 3 | Ages: 5+ MSRP: $9.99-19.99 | Available: Spring 2023

YouTuber Aphmau is known for her love of cats, and her fans can collect mini versions of her animated feline friends. Each plush cat in the litter comes in a blind pack, with eight different MeeMeows in the third assortment, including Pancake Cat, Macaron Cat, and Cotton Candy Cat.

2) LankyBox Plush — Series 2 | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $9.99

Available: Spring 2023

LankyBox followers know that the YouTube channel stars Justin and Adam are crazy about plush toys. These 8-inch toys feature “thicc” versions of the characters on the LankyBox channel, including Thicc Shark, Thicc Foxy, and Thicc Boxy.

1) Among Us Plush Buddies 8 Inch (S3) | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $9.99 | Available: Spring 2023

The latest update of the mobile survival game Among Us has inspired a new collection of crewmates. Series 3 of the Plush Buddies features four different character styles to collect.

Piñata Smashlings Plush Buddies 8 Inch | Ages: 5+ | MSRP: $8.99

Available: Spring/Summer 2023

The colorful world of the Piñataverse features Piñata characters and playful mini characters, called the Smashlings. These sassy Smashlings take plush form with four different styles of 8-inch characters that kids can collect.
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Ami Amis Wave 1 | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $9.99 | Available: Spring 2023

JAKKS Pacific will launch these cozy, crochet plush characters with 30 styles for kids to collect across Foodie Friends, Animal Buddies, and Retro designs. Each plush character is approximately 4 inches tall and includes a ribbon hanging loop that kids can use for display. Each tag has a collector list and includes a unique character profile, and ultra-rare characters have special holographic stickers on their hangtags. JAKKS will release additional waves


1) Plush Play Sets | Ages: 3+

MSRP: $47.99+ Available: Spring 2023

This line of plush playsets brings comfort and squish to the playset experience. There are three sets for kids to choose from, including the Mobile Pet Vet Play Set (pictured), the Woodland Play Set, and the Farm Truck Play Set.

2) Sassy Pet Saks | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $19.99 Available: Spring 2023

Celebrate sass with the next wave in this line of plush pet-carrying totes. The newest bags include Magic Swirl Sassy Sak, Cosmic Swirl Sassy Sak, Dino Love Sassy Sak (pictured), Good Vibes Sassy Sak, Retro Chic Sassy Sak, and Patchwork Floral Sassy Sak.

3) Cuddle Bugs | Ages: 3+

MSRP: $12.99+ | Available: Spring 2023

Kids won’t want to step on this plush bug — but they will want to squeeze it. In the next wave of this collection, little ones can find new characters such as Sloane the Slug, Sailor the Sea Slug, Geraldine the Grub Bug, Britt the Butterfly Puppet, and Vinnie the Banana Slug Macaroon (pictured).


1) Squishable Campfire | Ages: 0+ MSRP: $42 | Available: March 2023

Kids can snuggle up with the cozy, campfire-themed plush as they tell stories before bed. The design features wood logs, a fire, and a yellow fireball.

2) Squishable Cotton Candy

Ages: 0+ | MSRP: $42

Available: March 2023

With the Squishable Cotton Candy, kids can feel the county fair vibes anywhere. This pink-and-blue cotton candy has a smile on its face and sits on a blue-and-white striped cone.

3) Squishable Opalceratops

Ages: 0+ | MSRP: $25

Available: March 2023

The Opalceratops is a plush white triceratops with embroidered gemstones. With a color scheme of soft pastels, the Opalceratops is easy on the eyes and soft to the touch.

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1) Pokémon Squishmallows Plush | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $29.99

Available: Spring 2023

Kids can catch all of the 12-inch Pokémon Squishmallows. There are two characters in this collection: a Pikachu featuring his iconic ears and tail and a Gengar (pictured) with purple spikes and a mischievous smile.

2) Bum Bumz | Ages: 2+ | MSRP: $8.99 | Available: Spring 2023

Jazwares expands its collectible plush offerings with Bum Bumz, a line of sensory plush toys that come in different shapes such as a lion, an alien, a gumball machine, a flower, a peace sign (pictured), and more.

3) Pokémon Pikachu Sleeping Plush | Ages: 2+ | MSRP: $34.99

Available: Spring 2023

Pikachu is exhausted after a long day of training and is ready for cuddles. The


P.Lushes Gem Stars | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $12.99 each

Available: Spring 2023

The latest wave of Gem Stars features 12 bejeweled characters, one for each month of the year. Each charac ter features its respective birthstone as its nose, including amethyst for Calle La’Pooch and diamond for Deidra Von Drip (both pictured).

Available: Fall 2023

The latest collection of Cutetitos surprise plush is Cutetitos Sleepitos, a selection of animals dressed in pajamas. There are 10 animals to collect, each wrapped in a hooded sleeping bag. Inside the bag, kids will also find a


Sing Along Numberblock Five | Ages: 18MOS+ | MSRP: $26.99

Available: June 2023

The classic Numberblocks plush collection is back with a new member: Five, the lead singer of the Numberblocks. Toddlers can learn to count with this light-up plush that will count to five and plays songs, including the Numberblocks theme song.

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Noorah Plush | Ages: 3+ | Available: Holiday 2023


Pop Art Soft | Ages: 4+

MSRP: $4.99-29.99

Available: Now

Kids will go wild for the Pop Art Soft collection. Each collectible character has vibrant and whimsical designs and is filled with beans and fluff to make them super soft. Pop Art Soft characters come in three different sizes with unique and trendy designs.


Kids can snuggle up and read the Noorah: Santa’s Magical Arctic Fox book with this plush version of Noorah. Based on the book’s character, this arctic fox has white fur with a green, blue, and purple tail inspired by the northern lights.

1) Cookeez Makery | Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $34.99 | Available: July 2023

With this oven-themed playset, kids can mix, make, and “bake” a sweetscented plush friend. Using the included recipe card, water measure, and sachets with pretend flour and yeast, kids can mix the ingredients to create a dough ball; use the dough mold and included dough tool to shape their animal friend and give it eyes, a smiling mouth, paws, and a tail; put it in the oven; and turn the dial to set the temperature. After 90 seconds, they will open the oven door to find a plush puppy, bunny, or kitten that is warm from the oven and scented as either bread or cinnamon. This plush friend will make sweet sounds when kids squeeze it.

2) Little Live Pets My Puppy’s Home | Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $59.99 Available: July 2023

Kids can use the kid-safe plastic hammer, plastic screws, four walls, door, floor, and roof to build a home for the interactive, plush puppy. After they are done building, kids can fill the water bowl and watch as paw prints appear at the entry. They can add the name plate above the door, then look inside to find that a puppy has found its way home. The puppy makes more than 25 sounds and reactions — including a playful growl when kids place the bone in its mouth — as kids feed, nurture, and play with it. There are two puppies to collect: one with brown fur and the other with blonde fur. Kids can engage in repeat play as they can “fetch” the puppy over and over again.

3) Little Live Pets Mama Surprise Minis | Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $14.99

Available: July 2023

These minis have the same play pattern as the full-size Mama Surprise, but shrunken down and with two new “Mamas”: Mama Surprise Mouse (pictured) and Mama Surprise Bunny. Kids can feed Mama her celery and her sleepy eyes will close. Then, they can place her in the hutch to rest with her water bottle and she will magically deliver up to four babies, each arriving in a unique pose and with its own accessories, such as a bow or a bib. The playset comes with the hutch, nesting material, 3-4 babies, and a birth certificate. Kids can repeat the Mama Surprise fun over and over again.

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Club Mocchi- Mocchi- | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $34.99+ | Available: 2023

The Club Mocchi- Mocchi- mega plush line of characters from video games and pop culture brands expands this year with new products for every season. New characters (not pictured) include additional offerings from Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda (spring), Super Mario Bros. (spring/fall), and Kirby (fall), in addition to fall releases of characters from Suya Suya, Halo, and Yu-Gi-Oh!


1) Screamsicles Line — Plush | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $20 | Available: Spring 2023

This line of mini plush characters are made from super-soft material and a full polyfiber lining. There is a wide range of characters for kids to choose from, including a dinosaur, animals, insects, food, sports balls (pictured), and more.

2) Video Game, Sweet Surprise, Out of This World | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $43 Available: Spring 2023

iScream expands its interactive plush collection with new styles. Kids can unzip the larger plush holder to find four mini plush characters inside. The line includes a plush video game console featuring gaming-themed characters (pictured), a plush claw machine holding sweet treats, and another plush claw machine with outer space-themed plushies.

MSRP: $10.99 | Available: Spring 2023

Puppycorns are furry plush puppy-unicorn hybrids with a passion for fashion. Kids can crack the egg to discover five surprises inside each package alongside a bowed-up buddy. There are seven new Puppycorns in total, including a rare bow Puppycorn.

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1) Among Us Shapeshifter Plush | Ages: 0+ | MSRP: $13.99

Available: Spring 2023

Each 7-inch plush character in this collection converts from an egg shape into one of four characters from the game Among Us. To transform the plush, kids can flip over a flap hidden on the back of each character (sold separately).

2) DZNR Plush Collection — Transformers | Ages: 0+ | MSRP: $16.99

Available: Now

These collectible plush characters are designed to celebrate the heritage and artistry of characters from pop culture. Three characters will join the new Transformers line this year: Optimus Prime (pictured), Bumblebee, and Megatron. Each plush comes in a window box for display.

3) DZNR Plush Collection — Jujutsu Kaisen | Ages: 0+ | MSRP: $16.99

Available: Fall 2023

The second series of DZNR plush to launch this year features Jujutsu sorcerers from Jujutsu Kaisen, just in time for the anime’s second season. These collectible plush also depict the characters’ cursed powers and come packaged in window boxes for collectors to display.


Snuggle Puppy Hero | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $64.95

Available: Spring 2023

Kids can bring comfort home with this soothing and interactive plush puppy. The Snuggle Puppy Hero


ZAG Heroez Miraculous Kwami — Mon Ami

Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $14.99 | Available: Late 2023

This line of 12 plush toys are based on the Kwamis, animal-like beings with powers. The characters are 9.5 inches and have glittery eyes. The 12 Kwamis include Tikki (the first-ever Kwami), Barkk, Daizzi, Dussu, Fluff, Plagg, Sass, Nooroo, Pollen, Trixx, Wayzz, and Mullo.

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1) Realtree Slingshot Set | Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $14.99 | Available: Now

The official Realtree toy slingshot comes decked out in Edge camouflage and features powerful, double elastic bands that are wrapped with a tightly woven fabric for protection. The set includes six foam balls and three scoring targets.

2) Realtree Hunting Rifle | Ages: 6+ | Available: Spring 2023

This bolt-action soft dart rifle comes dressed in Realtree’s high-definition Edge camouflage. Kids can use the foldable and removable bipod for increased accuracy as they fire off one of the 12 included suction cup-tipped soft darts at the included target. The legs of the bipod contract and expand for storage.


1) Xootz Eclipse Electric Scooter — Aqua | Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $169.99 | Available: March 2023

Kids will be able to take on obstacle courses with this electric scooter, which can hit speeds up to around 6 mph. The scooter has collapsible bars for easy transport to and from the skate park.

2) Big Bumper 2-Seater Bumper Car | Ages: 2+ | MSRP: $199.99 Available: August 2023

Kids can bring the fair home with them when they play in the Big Bumper, a bumper car that can move up to 2.5 mph and gives kids full control. It has adjustable seat belts, anti-flat tires, a rubber bumper for full protection, flashing LED lights, and fairground-themed music. The Big Bumper is rechargeable for hours of fun and comes with a customizable license plate.

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1) NERF Elite Junior Explorer | Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $12.99 Available: Now

Now, younger members of the family can join the blaster battle with the easy-play NERF Elite Junior Explorer blaster. It’s lightweight and sized to fit comfortably in small hands. The front-load ing design makes it easy to insert the four included foam darts.

2) NERF Pro Gelfire Legion Blaster | Ages: 14+ MSRP: $19.99 | Available: Now

This massive-capacity blaster fires water bead rounds that burst on impact so kids do not need to be pick them up. It comes with 5,000 dehydrated NERF Pro Gelfire rounds that kids need to hydrate with water before play. Players can load up to 130 rounds in the blaster’s hopper to be ready for battle. The blaster features spring-ac tion priming and slam-fire action to shoot rounds in a continuous stream. It also features a trigger lock to prevent accidental firing and comes with certified protective eyewear.

3) NERF Rival Forerunner XXIII-1200 Blaster | Ages: 14+ MSRP: $27.99 | Available: Now

This foam blaster has pump-action priming, a 12-round capacity, and fires NERF Rival Accu-rounds rounds at a velocity of 90 feet per second. Players can improve the accuracy of their aim with the edge-glow front sight and an adjustable rear sight that slides backward and forward to customize the angle. The blaster comes with a dozen high-impact rounds.


1) Föm Mania | Ages: 5+ | MSRP: $12.99-54.99

Available: Spring 2023

Little Kids’ Föm Mania line of toys provides foamy, outdoor fun for kids. With the press of a button, the Föm Mania Fömalanche makes piles of light, airy foam. Each package includes a machine and three packets of foam concentrate. The machine features a handle for easy portability. The Föm Mania line also includes the Quickshot Foam Blaster (pictured), which sprays foam with a simple pump action. Kids can blast more than 30 shots of fluffy foam, and it comes with enough solution to fill the blaster eight times.

2) Junk Ball Umpire Strike Zone | Ages: 5+ | MSRP: $49.99 Available: Spring 2023

This backyard game helps kids to perfect and track their pitching skills. They can pitch anywhere in the gray zone without the batter making a hit and the ump will call the pitch. It also serves as a scoreboard as kids can track strikes, balls, outs, the score, and ghost runners with the sliding tracker clips. The Umpire Strike Zone also comes with pitch guides to coach kids through how to throw the perfect screwball, fastball, curveball, or riser.

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1) Gel Blaster Starfire Blaster | Ages: 14+ | MSRP: $69.99 | Available: Now

Players can load the hopper on their Gel Blaster with up to 800 of the 5,000 included Starfire Gellets in seconds. The patent-pending StarFire Activator adds glow tech to to the experience using UV lighting technology to supercharge the Starfire Gellets so that they glow in the dark and produce a tracer effect. The water-based Gellets blast at variable speeds between 100 and 170 feet per second. Players can power their blaster using the included USB-C charging cable.

2) Gel Blaster Surge XL Day N Night | Ages: 14+ | MSRP: $99.99

Available: Now

Gel Blaster put its best blaster technology into the rechargable Surge XL and added in the patent-pending StarFire Activator for glow tech, too. Families can blast glowin-dark Gellets at speeds of up to 250 feet per second.

3) Gel Blaster Portal: A Nexus Play System Accessory | Ages: 14+

MSRP: $39.99 | Available: Summer 2023

The patent-pending Gel Blaster Portal uses mesh-networking technology and app-integration to help players hone and build their blasting skills. The portable smart target works with any Gel Blaster.


Barbie 12-inch Bike | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $94

Available: Now

Kids can cruise the neighborhood in Malibu style with this 12-inch, Barbie-inspired bike. It features a classic, Barbie Pink deco with yellow and blue accents and has white rubber tires. The bike comes complete with coaster


2 Person Pickleball Sets | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $29.99

Available: Spring 2023

Kids can learn one of the fastest-growing sports in the world with these pickleball sets. The set comes in two styles: Tie Dye and Adventure Fun (pictured). Each set comes with two paddles, two balls, and a drawstring bag to keep everything together. The paddles have wrist straps to ensure safe play, and the set is easily portable to go to the park, beach, or any other location.

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1) CoComelon 40-Inch Pool | Ages: 2+ | MSRP: $12 | Available: Spring 2023

This inflatable pool for toddlers and preschoolers features a colorful CoComelon pattern. Constructed with three equal rings that provide durability and stability, the pool has a water capacity of 27 gallons for lots of summer fun.

2) H2OGo! Canopy Cove Mega Water Park | Ages: 5+ | MSRP: $399.99 | Available: Now

Climb, slide, and navigate this mega water park while staying cool all summer long. Featuring durable, double-stitched, and colorful material, kids will have a blast taking aim with the Point ‘n Spray Water cannon, scaling the climbing wall, or sliding down the slide. When the sun gets too intense, little ones can sit under the shaded canopy and dip their toes into the water. The water park comes with a blower for easy setup and features mesh walls that line both sides of the slide’s tower peak for added safety.

3) Spider-Man Play Center | Ages: 2+ | MSRP: $84.99 | Available: Now

Kids can go on web-slinging adventures with this Spider-Man-themed inflatable play center. Adults can inflate the play center and fill the pool with water, attach a garden hose to the archway to activate the sprayer, and let the web-slinging adventures begin. It features a built-in slide that’s fused to the bottom for extra safety, but watch out — Spider-Man is ready to spray kids from the side as they slide down. Kids can take turns rolling the six play balls on the at tached ramp. When playtime is over, adults can easily release the pool water with the drain valve.


1) X-Shot Skins Griefer | Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $9.99 | Available: Spring 2023

X-Shot Skins brings the video game concept of skinning a blaster into the real world. Each blaster can fire foam darts at targets up to 90 feet away. With the rotating barrel, kids can rapid-fire six darts in less than 30 seconds. There are six unique blaster styles to collect, each with 12 Air Pocket Technology foam darts.

2) X-Shot Fast Fill Skins Hyperload | Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $7.99

Available: Spring 2023

Kids can fill this water blaster in less than a second by dunking it in water, sliding the carriage, letting it fill, and closing it up quickly. Each blaster holds up to 17 ounces and fires a stream of water up to 33 feet.

3) X-Shot Fast Fill Skins Pump Action | Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $12.99

Available: Spring 2023

This 24 ounce, pump-action water blaster refills in a second. Kids will break it open, dunk it underwater, let it fill, and close it up. Its shoots a stream of water up to 30 feet with each blast.
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1) SkimBe Croquet | Ages: 10+ | MSRP: $44.99 | Available: Summer 2023

The SkimBe line expands outside of water with this new game that kids can play on wet sand or snow. Players can compete to toss their SkimBe disc through the wickets in the right sequence and win by being the first to hit the center peg. The set comes with three wickets and a scoring pole.

2) SkimBe Jam | Ages: 10+ | MSRP: $49.99 | Available: Holiday 2023

Players can skip, skim, slide, or jump the SkimBe disc into the goal as the other team or person tries to defend it. The goal works in water or players can remove the gloats and secure it on the ground to play SkimBe broomball or soccer. The set includes two goals, two SkimBe discs, a weight bag, and straps to secure it either poolside or on the ground.


Atomic Power Popper + Sticky Target | Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $29.99 | Available: Summer 2023

Kids can practice their aim with the Atomic Power Popper with the new sticky target. The 13-inch-tall target rocks back and forth to keep players on their toes, and it features a scoring system so kids can challenge friends or family members. The Atomic Power Popper’s pump-to-launch mechanism can send foam balls flying up to 20 feet.


1) Crayola Paint Your Own Bean Bag Toss | Ages: 5+ | MSRP: $29.97

Available: Spring/Summer 2023

This game set provides active fun and arts and crafts all in one. Kids can customize this outdoor set with the included washable Crayola Tempera Paints in three primary colors. If kids want to switch up their designs, they can wipe off the paints with a wet towel or cloth and repaint the boards again and again.

2) Kan Jam Pickleball | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $59.99 | Available: Spring/Summer 2023

This outdoor game combines Kan Jam with Pickleball. Players pass the Pickleball back and forth with their teammates to score points, but keep score as they would during a game of Kan Jam.

3) Kan Jam Smash | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $49.99 | Available: Spring/Summer 2023

Kan Jam Smash challenges players to test their skills and reaction time as they take turns tossing the flying disc at the target pole to try to knock off the bottle and score. The defending team can prevent their opponents from scoring by catching the bottle before it touches the ground.
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1) Ice Cream Cozy Truck | Ages: 18 MOS+ MSRP: $119.99 | Available: Now

The iconic Little Tikes Cozy Coupe is re-imagined as an Ice Cream Truck that kids can control with the floor panel removed or parents can push it along using the built-in handle. This truck comes with accessories, including ice cream scoops and a pretend credit card and features a built-in credit card reader for little drivers to accept payment. The truck also plays modern ice cream truck music composed by RZA.

2) Splash Beach | Ages: 2+ | MSRP: $74.99 Available: Now

Kids can enjoy hours of water play with this beach scene water pad. Parents can fill the pad with water that little ones can splash in as they play with the included floating submarine, sailboat, octopus, and turtle. Splash Beach includes a lighthouse, a slide, and other play features. It folds in the middle for easy, clean storage.


1) Sonic Bounce Ball | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $8.99 each

Available: Spring 2023

This new addition to the Aerobie line is built with high-density foam material and uses geodesic geometry and scientific construction to provide a super-high bounce. The spikes on the ball act as conduits for kinetic energy, providing more rebound and a higher bounce than traditional, sphere-shaped play balls. The tactile grip and the Sonic Bounce’s size make it easier to catch, throw, and bounce. The bouncy ball is 2.6 inches in diameter so kids can easily carry it or stick in a backpack for on-the-go play.

2) Floating Figures | Ages: 5+ | MSRP: $9.99

Available: Spring 2023

These pool toys from SwimWays feature some of kids’ favorite characters. They always stay afloat, so kids don’t have to chase after them. Kids can choose from Ariel, Batman, the Joker, Gabby or Mercat from Gabby’s Dollhouse (pictured), and Chase or Marshall from PAW Patrol. Each Floating Figure is 5-8 inches tall.


Zoom-O Turbo Disc Launcher | Ages: 5+ | MSRP: $9.99

Available: Spring 2023

Launch into action-packed, outdoor fun. This handheld launcher blasts mini flying plastic discs up to 100 feet in the air. Kids can load a disc onto the launcher, aim, pull the ripcord, and watch the disc spin into the sky. The set includes three flying discs and one launcher.

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1) Gardening Tool Set | Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $27.99 | Available: Spring 2023

Kids will practice tending their own garden with this set that features six pieces, including a spade, a rake, bamboo markers/labels, a watering can, and a shovel. The real, workable tools are made from metal and eco-friendly bamboo. Kids can use them to plant different flowers, fruits, and vegetables.

2) Window Bird Feeder | Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $14.99

Available: Spring 2023

Made from eco-friendly bamboo and plant-based plastic, this Audubon-friendly bird feeder helps introduce kids to nature. The bird feeder attaches securely to the outside of a window with three suction cups. It features a unique shape to provide drainage gutters so water will flow safely away from the feeder. The bird feeder also comes with a notebook so that kids can document what they see.


1) Hasbro Splash Games | Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $19.99-24.99

Available: Now

WowWee’s Hasbro Splash Games line expands with the introduction of Hungry Hungry Hippos and Pie Face (pictured). The Hungry Hungry Hippos Splash Game is designed for 1-2 players ages 4 and up. Kids still race to feed their hippos, but now, their hippos shoot water. The closer kids get to their hippos, the more accurate — and wet — they get. In Pie Face, players ages 6 and up take turns pushing the handle and their luck. Each push of the pump earns players a point, and the first player to 21 points wins the outdoor version of the game.

2) Hasbro Monopoly Splash Game Mega Inflatable Obstacle Course Ages: 5-10 | MSRP: $999.99 | Available: March 2023

The classic Hasbro game is now a massive, inflatable obstacle course. Kids can enjoy the life-size version of Monopoly in two ways: Obstacle Course or Mega Monopoly. In Obstacle Course, players race to collect Monopoly Cash by facing obstacles and rolling the dice. In Mega Monopoly, players roll the Mega dice, move around the board, pass go, and experience more classic Monopoly moments.

3) NERF Super Soaker — Soaker Blast Slider | Ages: 5-12 | MSRP: $29.99

Available: Now

This 16-foot water slide connects to a hose and is a great way to cool off during a hot summer day. Kids can take turns sliding down the water slide or soaking each other with the water blaster.

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1) ReDo Gallery Popsicle Skateboards

Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $34.99

Available: Fall 2023

This complete skateboard is made from 31.25-by-7.75-inch, seven-ply, high-density wood. Its wider shape means increased edge control for riders up to 220 lbs, while the smooth wheels and bushings make for a tighter turn radius.

2) ReDo Poly Cruisers

Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $39.99

Available: Fall 2023

ReDo’s Poly Cruisers are complete skateboards with a flat concave design that morphs into a gradual kicktail. They have carbon steel ABEC five-speed bearings with soft bushings for easier turning.

3) ReDo San Diego Longboards

Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $54.99

Available: Fall 2023

Each San Diego Longboard is a complete skateboard made from a 34.5-by-8-inch, eight-ply, thin, hard-maple deck. It has a 23.5-inch wheelbase and includes ReDo ABEC seven-speed bearings with 6-inch ReDo Geo Lite trucks, hardened axles, and soft wheels for a smooth ride.


Step2 Scout & Slide Climber | Ages: 2+ | MSRP: $399.99

Available: Spring 2023


1) Vurtego Slingshot | Ages: 5+ | MSRP: $149

Available: May 2023

Kids can jump up to 5 feet high with the first professional-level, air-powered pogo stick designed specifically for kids. It features an adjustable air spring.

2) Skateboard Trainer | Ages: 5+ | MSRP: $49.99

Available: Summer 2023

Riders up to 160 lbs can learn to skateboard in three easy steps: balance, skate, and practice tricks. This all-inone skateboard trainer comes with detailed instructions backed by an online video that teaches kids how to skate.

3) NERF Blaster Pedal Car | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $199.99

Available: September 2023

This pedal car comes with a battery-powered, mechanical, dual NERF blaster and authentic NERF darts. The cart itself slows down and stops with a hand brake and has an

Get preschoolers moving with this outdoor climbing playset. The Scout & Slide Climber features vertical and angled climbing walls, a ladder, a crawlthrough tunnel, and a slide. The climber is weather resistant and durable. It comes complete with safety features like rounded corners and a double-wall resin climber.

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1) Rainbow Pyramid Sprinkler | Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $89.99

Available: Spring 2023

This sprinkler game connects to a garden hose and features a pyramid design that allows water to come out of the top as it showers down on all four sides. Kids less than 42 inches tall can climb through the tunnel for a game of water peek-a-boo. The PVC construction is light, yet durable, so it’s easy to set up and take down.

2) Aqua Sumo Ring Splash Pad | Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $109.99 Available: Spring 2023

This game includes two inflatable waist belts that kids can wear to play like sumo wrestlers. The 10-foot base arena of the game is a sprinkler that attaches to a garden hose to spray kids in water as they battle.

3) Polka Dot Octagon Spray Pad | Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $99.99

Available: Spring 2023

This 12-foot-wide, octagon-shaped spray pad features an inflatable rim around the edge to help keep water pooled in the base. It connects to a garden hose to spray water in every direction.


1) Maxx Bubbles Dancing Crab Bubble Machine | Ages: 3+ MSRP: $19.99 | Available: Spring 2023

Kids can sing, dance, and play with the Dancing Crab Bubble Machine. This bubbler measures more than 10 inches long and shoots a steady stream of bubbles while moving to music. Built-in sensors even help this Dancing Crab avoid obstacles and ledges to prevent falls and spills. Kids can fill the crab’s claws with the included bubble solution to watch it dance around and create a bubble blast.

2) Maxx Bubbles Bubble Barrage | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $14.99

Available: Spring 2023

Kids can create an endless amount of bubbles with the Bubble Barrage by simply screwing in the bubble solution and pulling the trigger to generate a continuous stream of bubbles. The Maxx Bubbles Bubble Barrage encourages active outdoor play with its fast bubble blowing.

3) John Deere Bubble Mower | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $29.99 | Available: Spring 2023

The John Deere Bubble Mower mimics an actual lawn mower. The mower has a realistic design, authentic John Deere styling, and mechanical sound effects. Kids can use the included bubble solution to fill it up and push the kid-powered mower, making it release bubbles, no batteries required. Rugged tires keep the mower rolling along tough terrain as kids pretend to mow the lawn.
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eFoam Party | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $72.99 Available: Holiday 2023

Families can take the foam party on the go with this portable, battery-operated foam machine. Just add water and a few drops of solution, then push the button for instant foamy fun without the need to connect the machine to a garden hose.


Classic Wham-O Slip ‘N Slide | Ages: 5+ MSRP: $29.95 | Available: Now

Families can bring back the fun of the original backyard water slide with this set that includes a 19-foot water slide, two anchors, two repair patches, and a safety checklist. The slide attaches to a hose to activate the sprinklers, then kids can run and slide along the slippery surface.


1) Downhill Thrill Kids Coaster | Ages: 18 MOS+ | MSRP: $109.99 | Available: April 2023

Kids can experience the thrill of a coaster ride indoors or outdoors with this compact coaster. It includes a freewheeling ride-on and a two-piece ramp that’s ready for play within minutes of opening the box.

2) Sunny Day Picnic Playhouse | Ages: 18 MOS+ | MSRP: $229.99 Available: Now

This open-layout playhouse features a built-in kitchen and a picnic table. The extra high roof allows for years of use as kids grow. This is the fourth product from Simplay3 that connects in various layouts with the Young Explorers Indoor/Outdoor Modular Playset (each sold separately).

3) Raindrop Falls Water Table and Splash Pool | Ages: 18 MOS+ MSRP: $139.99 | Available: April 2023

Kids can enjoy a range of water play experiences with this combined water table and splash pool. When kids pour water into the top using one of the included buckets, a rainfall of sprinkles will turn into a rushing river waterfall that flows into the kid-size splash pool.

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1) Power Rangers Dino Fury Gold Fury Blade Blaster | Ages: 5+ MSRP: $33.99 | Available: Spring: 2023

The Dino Fury Gold Fury Blade Blaster is a costume role-play toy with more than 20 lights and sounds. Kids can combine the blade and blaster to form the Gold Ranger’s ultimate weapon and pretend to battle Sporix beasts just like Aiyon. Additional Power Rangers Dino Fury role-play products, including costumes, masks, and weapons packs are sold separately.

2) Star Wars: The Black Series Luke Skywalker Force FX Elite Electronic Lightsaber | Ages: 14+ | MSRP: $278.99 Available: Spring 2023

This premium, cosplay-quality lightsaber features design and deco based on Luke Skywalker’s iconic green Lightsaber featured across Star Wars entertainment, from The Return of the Jedi to The Mandalorian of Boba Fett. It features advanced LEDs and sound effects and comes with a display stand that fans can use with or without the removable blade. The switch and button on the hilt activates the light and sound effects, including progres sive ignition, battle clash effect, wall-cutting effect, blaster deflect, duel effect, and a battle-sequence mode.

3) Magic: The Gathering Chandra Pyromancer’s Gauntlet Roleplay Collectible | Ages: 14+ MSRP: $299.99 | Available: Fall 2023

This premium gauntlet is modeled after the Artifact card from Magic: The Gathering. It features multiple electronic effects to simulate Chandra’s powers, including lights, sounds, and misting effects.

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Source: Hasbro


Spellbinding Wands | Ages: 5+ | MSRP: $14.99

Available: Fall 2023

Kids can reenact their favorite Harry Potter film scenes with these 11.75-inch wands. Each detailed wand is based off of a character’s wand from the original movies, comes in a display box, and includes unique spell cards.


Galactic Blaster | Ages: 5+ | MSRP: $10.99

Available: Now

Blast time! This sci-fi blaster features bright lights and laser sounds for role-playing fun. De


1) Encanto Isabela Dress Up Set | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $24.99

Available: Spring 2023

Kids can look just like Isabela from Encanto in this vibrant dress that features true-to-story details and signature accessories. The dress comes packed with Isabela’s flower headband, flower hair clips, and gold earrings to complete the look. The dress fits kids

2) Disney Princess Wishes 100th Celebration Castle

Jewelry Box | Ages: 3+ MSRP: $29.99 | Available: Fall 2023

This jewelry box is inspired by Cinderella’s iconic castle and plays the song “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes” while multicolored fireworks and the castle doorway light up.

1) Piggy — Piggy Child Classic | MSRP: $24.99 | Available: Fall 2023

Kids can transform into Piggy from the survival horror game of the same name. This character-correct costume comes with a long-sleeved robe that is printed to look like that of the game character. The Piggy vacuform mask has adjustable straps and a two-way window for visibility. Available in sizes 4-6, 7-8, 10-12, and 14-16, this costume includes pink gloves that match Piggy’s mask and sleeves. The pictured bat accessory is not included.

2) Minecraft — Blockheads | MSRP: $19.99

Available: Fall 2023

Disguise will introduce the official Mincraft Blockhead costume line this fall with styles for Enderman and Jack O’Lantern (pictured) that look just like the characters from the Minecraft game. Each one-size-fits-all costume includes an interior headband and base piece attached to hold the costume’s form.

3) Pokémon — Snorlax Adult | MSRP: $49.99

Available: Fall 2023

Adults can get cozy and comfy as they transform into the sleepy Pokémon Snorlax. This costume features a full, velvet, minky jumpsuit with a detachable hood with Snorlax’s ears and embroidered eyes and mouth detail. Available in S-M, and L-XL, The Snorlax adult costume joins a full line of Pokémon costumes.

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SuperAwesome’s recent study, “Holiday Retail: The Purchase Power of Youth,” uncovered some big news: A whopping 85% of 6-9 year olds in the U.S. say that toys are the single biggest factor in why they want to shop in a particular store. This is interesting considering that only 7% of the slightly older tween cohort of 10-12 year olds point to toys as a driver to specific retailers.

This data tells us a few things. First, it proves that this age group enjoys toys more than virtual play and real-world items such as clothing, tech, and electronics. Last year, toys stayed at the top of 6-9 year olds’ wish lists for the holiday season. Secondly, it shows that this age of opportunity is short-lived. At age 10, kids are already moving into digital-first goods and environments and by age 12 they are solidly aged out of toys.

Let’s start with a look at young consumers. This demographic is the most digitally engaged audience ever, with kids’ access to and consumption of online content higher than ever before. We found that 40% of kids under age 16 consume digital media multiple times per day. Gaming continues as a top activity for kids. As kids age up, they prefer to game on mobile devices versus consoles.

Although screen time and playing on mobile devices is the overarching trend with kids, the desire for physical toys remains constant. Understanding what impacts in-person shopping and purchasing behavior is particularly important in today’s ecosystem since it straddles multiple realms: online and offline, digital

and physical, and real-world and virtual. Generating sales to parents and families is one thing, but in the toy space there’s an additional nuance: Where toy sales physically happen is important. Driving in-store sales at specific retailers is more important than online conversions for many toy companies, so it’s critical to shape marketing strategies around this end goal.

the platform today is markedly different from even six months ago. YouTube’s new content classification system has deemed the traditional toy unboxing as “low quality” content, meaning that it will be harder to deliver views with this style. Similarly, long-form, kid-directed content is also trending down. The good news is that there are other successful ways to showcase toys on YouTube. In the fourth quarter of 2022, SuperAwesome delivered success and value to toy companies through carefully curated YouTube Shorts, collaborations between influencers that drove millions of views, and Cameo-style product features. Speaking to the consumer in bite-size and storyline-driven content that’s platform-specific and posted by top creators drives results.

Creating the best marketing campaigns for kids ages 6-9 starts with content. It’s imperative to meaningfully communicate each toy’s playability on the platforms kids love. Where and how the content is released is also extremely important. The app on which kids discover the toy will impact how cool they think it is, but each platform has its own trends and regulations that must be adhered to in order to deliver desired results.

YouTube remains a top platform for showcasing products and play, but how influencer content is displayed on

With 6-9 year olds, multiplatform and repeat messaging is a great way to drive interest and brand love. Using a TVC or a highlight reel of influencer content in places like gaming apps, Roblox, and overthe-top platforms is equally as important as YouTube. Unfortunately, delivering success with tweens is trickier. Check back in the next issue for a deep dive into how to win with 10-12 year olds! 

Tiffany Tasker is a digital media and marketing specialist for the kids and youth space. With more than 10 years of experience creating digital strategies for toy companies in the U.S., Tasker is now the Head of Industry, Toys, at SuperAwesome.

“Although screen time and playing on mobile devices is the overarching trend with kids, the desire for physical toys remains constant.”
It’s clear that toys are still a crucial part of growing up.
by TIFFANY TASKER, Head of Industry, Toys, SuperAwesome



1) Pokémon Trading Card Game: Crown Zenith Elite Trainer Box Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $49.99 | Available: Now

Get trading with the latest expansion in the Pokémon Trading Card Game: Crown Zenith. This expansion introduces a Galaraian Gallery subset of 70 cards with unique storytelling illustrations. The Elite Trainer Box includes 10 Crown Zenith booster packs, an art card of Lucario VSTAR, gameplay accessories, and a collector’s box with dividers to organize and store everything.

2) Pokémon Trading Card Game: Scarlet & Violet Pokémon Center Elite Trainer Boxes | Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $59.99 Available: March 2023

The latest expansion in the Pokémon Trading Card Game, Scarlet & Violet takes trainers on a journey in the all-new Paldea region. Adopting Pokémon ex, a returning gameplay mechanic, the expansion also introduces Tera Pokémon ex in crystalline artwork. The unique artwork is draws inspiration from the Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet video games. Each Pokémon Center Elite Trainer Box includes 11 Scarlet & Violet booster packs, a full-art foil promo card featuring Legendary Pokémon Koraidon or Miraidon, various gameplay accessories, and a collector’s box with dividers to organize and store all of the contents.

3) Pokémon Trading Card Game: Scarlet & Violet Elite Booster Pack (10 Cards) | Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $4.49 | Available: March 2023

Continuing the Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet-inspired gameplay, this Elite Booster pack includes 10 cards and one basic energy. Cards vary by pack so that fans can catch ‘em all. Each card features a Paldea-region Pokémon and the expansion also includes a Tera Pokémon ex designed in unique crystalline artwork.

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Source: Ravensburger


Heroez Miraculous Secrets | Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $4.99-9.99

Available: Fall/Winter 2023

This trading card game features heat-reactive cards that conceal exclu sive information for Ladybug and Cat Noir fans to reveal. The ready-to-play starter deck contains 29 cards, and 10-pack booster sets consist of more than 200 different cards, including character, event, bonus, and mystery cards — 70 of which will feature a special rainbow foil design. Players try to uncover the secrets of their opponents as they help the teen superheroes defeat the villains and defend Paris. They can strengthen their characters with the bonus cards, such as kwamis or lucky charms, while the event cards ensure varied fights.


Disney Lorcana | Ages: 8+ | Available: August 2023

Ravensburger is collaborating with Disney to launch its first-ever collectible trading card game. It will feature well-known Disney characters in both original and re-imagined art styles that live in an all-new world, complete with unique gameplay.



1) Magnetic Storms Happy Earth Thinking Putty Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $15 | Available: Now

This Thinking Putty celebrates Earth and comes in a tin made of food-grade materials that kids can reuse for other crafts or projects. When kids charge it with the included rainbow magnet, the putty will dance around and show off its sparkling, mineral Earth blue color. .

2) Putty Pets Thinking Putty | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $15 Available: Now

The Putty Pets Thinking Putty will be kids’ newest companion for fidget and focus. These animal-themed putties come in a variety of themes, such as Curious Kitten (pictured), Playful Puppy, and Happy Hedgehog. Kids can stretch and squish the putty, roll it around, or watch it shine.


1) Real Littles Micro Crafts | Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $9.99 Available: Now

This line consists of three themed, DIY craft kits that come inside colorful caboodles that kids can use to store, carry, and stack. Each kit includes everything kids need to create micro versions of popular crafting items, such as a terrarium, a lightbox, bath bombs, glitter globes, a paint set, and a backpack.

2) Real Littles Micro Fridge | Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $19.99 Available: July 2023

Kids can customize this bright pink, retro-style fridge with more than 20 mini collectible, snack-themed surprises inside. They can find three fully functional fruity paper clips, a strawberry notebook with a milk pencil that really sharpens, matching popsicle pencils and erasers, and more. The fridge features shelves and two removable drawers that can store all of the tiny treats inside.

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Source: Super Impulse


1) A Little Spot of Emotion | Ages: 3+ MSRP: $6.99-14.99 | Available: Fall 2023

Inspired by Diane Alber’s best-selling book series, this new collection includes fidget poppers, backpack clips (pictured), mix-and-match items, and more. The toys are all designed to help kids acknowledge and learn about their emotions in a fun way.

2) Peeky Pops | Ages: 5+ | MSRP: $5.99-7.99

Available: Fall 2023

This new collection of clip-on Peeky Pops combines plush fun and fidget play with collectibility across a range of colorful characters. TOMY will launch four Peeky Pops characters to start, with a total of 12 set for release this year.

Available: Spring 2023

These collectible purse charms feature kawaiiinspired pet details, fashionable finishes, and expressive lenticular eyes. Kids can unbox the blind boxes to discover the charm, then tilt the character side to side to see its eyes move. Characters include animals such as unicorns; fish; elephants; bunnies; and an ultra-rare, metallic gold kitty that comes with an exclusive Purse Pets charm bracelet. Each character features a metal


1) Magnatab Minis | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $8.99 | Available: April 2023

Kids can keep their hands busy by clicking the beads in and out of these shaped Magnatab clips. These on-the-go fidget toys can hang from backpacks and are available in multiple shapes, including an avocado, a cactus, or a light ning bolt.

2) Koosh Disney 100 Clips | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $9.99 | Available: Spring 2023

PlayMonster and Hasbro are joining the Disney 100 celebration with collectible and wearable Koosh. There are eight characters featured in the collection: Mirabel, Bruno, Luisa, Antonio, Belle, Ariel, Tiana, and Elsa.

3) Star Wars Koosh Cameos | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $12.99

Available: Spring 2023

Star Wars fans can collect their favorite characters, including Darth Vader and a Stormtrooper, as sensory Koosh balls.

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1) Bears vs Donuts | Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $4.99 each | Available: Now

Cepia introduces its sweetest showdown of collectible plush characters yet with Bears vs Donuts. Inside these collectible mystery bags are super-soft, bean-filled plush that feature new bear and donut characters for kids to collect.

2) Cows vs Aliens | Ages 4+ | MSRP: $4.99 each | Available: Now

This collection of collectible, bean-filled plush characters features clueless cows and alien characters that are fascinated by them. Each alien character is (poorly) disguised as an everyday person to get a more up-close look at the cows. They feature characters including lunch ladies, businessmen, an Elvis impersonator, and more.

3) Puppies vs Squeaks from Dogs vs Squirls | Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $4.99

Available: Summer 2023

Puppies vs Squeaks characters are baby versions of the Dogs vs Squirls collectible plush. Sold as single packs, each Puppies vs Squeaks character comes with a matching sticker.


1) Sonic Prime Clip On Plush 6 Inch (S1) | Ages: 5+ MSRP: $5.99 | Available: Summer/Fall 2023

Fans can take plush versions of their favorite Sonic Prime characters on the go with these 6-inch clip-ons inspired by the Netflix original animated series. Kids can choose from six characters.

2) Pudgy Penguins NFT Collectible Figures — 1 Igloo Pack (S1) Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $2.99 | Available: Spring/Summer 2023

These 1.3-inch figures are available in 12 different collectible


Mush Blooms | Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $14.99

Available: May/June 2023

Mush Blooms are a new series of fungi-inspired fidgets. Kids can squeeze the squishy stem to see the bud inside the cap bloom to reveal a surprise charm. There are three different varieties of Mush Blooms: green, pink, and purple.
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Screamsicles Line — Bag Buddies

Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $12.99 Available: Spring 2023

Kids can collect their favorite plush characters from the Screamsicles Line in mini form, including an alien, an avocado, a cupcake (pictured), a hamburger, a sloth, a soccer ball, a video game controller, and more. The Bag Buddies come with a keychain so kids can attach them to a backpack or a set of keys.


1) SpinPop | Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $7.99 | Available: March 2023

Top Secret Toys is bringing back a ‘90s classic. The SpinPop is a motorized lollipop that spins when kids hold down the orange button, so kids simply need to stick their tongues out. The SpinPop comes with one gourmet lollipop and fits most standard lollipops so that kids can use it again and again. SpinPop is distributed to specialty toy stores and gift retailers by Tangle Creations.

2) Thumbler | Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $6.99 | Available: Now

The Thumbler is a fidget toy that shows kids how gyroscopes work. By rotating the Thumbler in their hand, kids and kidults can watch as the spinner inside goes faster and faster. When the spinner is at full speed, it lights up with color-changing LEDs. Thumbler is distributed to specialty toy stores and gift retailers by Tangle Creations.


1) NeeDoh ChickaDee Doos | Ages: 3+ MSRP: $4.99 | Available: Spring 2023

Parents can fill their kids’ Easter baskets or switch up this year’s Easter egg hunt with these squishy creatures. Each ChickaDee Doo comes with a chick and a removable egg. There are three different colors to choose from, with packaging that says “To:” and “From:” for gifting.

2) NeeDoh Nice Cube | Ages: 3+ MSRP: $4.99 | Available: Spring 2023

These squishy cubes have a transparent, glass-like look and multiple squeeze sensations: soft when squished slowly and firm when squished quickly. They are available in three colors.

3) NeeDoh Squeeze Hearts | Ages: 3+ MSRP: $4.99 | Available: Spring 2023

These squishy hearts feature printed sayings, such as “Main Squeeze” and “Squishy 4 U,” in four different colors.

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1) Pop It! Pets Season 2

Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $24.99

Available: Summer 2023

Pop It! Pets are back with a second wave of animal-themed bubble popping toys. These little pets come in holographic blind bags that contain 17 surprises: five pets, five trading cards, five stickers, and one keychain. There are more than 120 new characters to collect.

2) Pop It! Go | Ages: 5+ | MSRP: $12.99

Available: Fall 2023

This mini version of the Pop It! Pro electronic game features three new modes of gameplay. Each game mode has a unique color and different challenges using five silicon popping bubbles. Kids can repeat the pattern and avoid the trickster lights, pop as many bubbles as possible, or race to pop the lights before they move.

BizzyBoo Hide ‘N Seek Busy Bags

Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $9.99

Available: Spring 2023

This new line of fidget toys is portable, mess-free, and features 12 different characters. Preschoolers can push and prod the beads to search for hidden objects within each character. Once they find the object, they can match it to the included card. There are more than 200 hidden objects to find.


Wawa the Froggie Mini Clip Series | Ages: 0+ MSRP: $9.99 | Available: Now

This fun-size mini clip collection features Wawa the Froggie reimagined in food-themed forms. Kids can collect five different styles and clip them to back


GooToobz Gamers and SIPS | Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $9.99

Available: Fall 2023

This line of handheld sensory mazes will include Gamers (pictured), which are designed to look like classic video game controllers, and SIPS, which are inspired by popular drinks. Each GooToobz is filled with goo, glitter, and beads and offers different sensory experiences for kids to explore. Kids can choose from three designs within each GooToobz theme: Hydro, Stealth, and Nuclear Gamerz, or Bubble Tea, Milk Shake, and Soda Pop SIPS.

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1) Fubbles Light-Up Bubble Torch | Ages: 3+ MSRP: $7.99 | Available: Spring 2023

Kids can have an instant bubble party with this bubble torch. They can press the button, shine the light show on their ceiling, and watch the flurry of bubbles jet out. The torch comes with 4 fluid ounces of bubble solution.

2) Fubbles Dippin’ Bubbler | Ages: 3+ MSRP: $3-4 | Available: Spring 2023

Blowing bubbles gets easier with the Dippin’ Bubbler. Kids can pull back the tube, dip the wand, and pump it to make bubbles. It comes with 2.2 fluid ounces of bubble solution and a dip tray.

3) Junk Ball Wild Pitch Collectible Balls | Ages: 5+ | MSRP: $3.99 Available: Spring 2023

These collectible balls come in three classic Junk Ball types: the Original, designed to throw like the pros; the Tornado, designed for curve control; or the Pro Max, designed for maximum distance and power. The 12 designs range from common to rare to a lim ited-edition Bone Shaker, each sold separately in blind bags.


Mini Whinnies | Ages: 4+ MSRP: $6.99

Available: Now

Each reusable, plastic-free blind box comes with three surprise Mini Whinnie equestrian figures, available in Castle Surprise! and Barn Surprise! themes. Select packages include either a rare chase unicorn or a rare chase horse.


1) World’s Smallest Classic Toys | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $6.99

Available: Spring 2023

These fully functional toys and games are the smallest versions ever created. The new additions to this line include The World’s Smallest Spirograph, Barbie with real hair, Hot Wheels Series 8, The Original Big Wheel (pictured), Care Bears Series 4, Tonka Front Loader, Tech Deck Series 2 World Industries, Waterfuls,Wooly Willy, Pet Rock, and more.

2) Poptaters | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $17.99

Available: Spring 2023

Super Impulse partnered with Hasbro to mash pop culture with Potato Head. These 4-inch Potato Heads include Optimus Prime, Bob Ross, Garbage Pail Kids, KISS bassist Gene Simmons (pictured), Sonic the Hedgehog, Dwight Schrute from The Office, The Dude from The Big Lebowski, and Good Luck Trolls. Each figure comes dressed in a removable outfit with interchangeable parts, including a surprise piece. The packaging for these Potato Heads is stackable so collectors can display their pieces together.

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1) Dimension: The Brain Game to Go | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $14.95 | Available: Spring 2023

In this brain-bending solo puzzle game, players try to place the stacking pieces on the board following a set of placement rules, such as specifying how many pieces of each color players must use or where players must place a color relative to another color. The game features more than 200 challenges in four difficulty levels and comes in a compact case.

2) I Dig It! Dragons — Dragon Eggs | Ages: 5+ | MSRP: $2.95

Available: Now

Kids can use the small, included chisel tool to release one of eight plastic dragon figures from the plaster egg. Each egg is blind boxed, providing kids with a surprise reveal. The included manual teaches kids about each dragon and dragon myths.

3) I Dig It! Horses | Ages: 5+ | MSRP: $2.95 | Available: Spring 2023

Kids can use a small tool to reveal one of eight surprise horse figures from inside a pink plaster heart. With the included manual, kids can learn about horse breeds, including bay, chestnut, dun, gray, and pinto; horse hair; and their different coat colors.


1) Drop Dots D20 | Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $29.99

Available: Summer 2023

Drop Dots D20 are lightweight, jumbo die that are perfect for rolling, bouncing, and tossing to other players. Made with patented silicone Drop Dots, the colorful assortment appear spiky but are soft to the touch. These 5.5-inch dice come in a variety of colors, including Jungle Pool, Crimson Cinder, Rose Mystique, Winter’s Orb, Toxic Friend, and Lightning Blast.

2) Jumbo D20 | Ages: 6+ | MSRP: $14.99

Available: Summer 2023

These lightweight, jumbo dice take gameplay to the next level. They are designed for bouncing, rolling, and tossing to other players.


Squinkies | Ages: 4+

MSRP: $14.99 - 34.99

Available: Spring 2023

The Squinkies Original set includes 12 Squinkies of different animals or characters. Each Squinky is individually wrapped in a plastic ball and four are packaged in a blind ball for a surprise unboxing experience.

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Neopets: The Official Cookbook | Ages: 8+ | MSRP: $33.99

Available: Summer 2023

This nostalgic and colorful cookbook is packed with 40 delicious recipes that are inspired by the creatures and culture of Neopets. These easy-to-make dishes let fans of the online game make Neopia’s finest feasts, from omelets to jellies to cupcakes. There’s also an exclusive, redeemable code in the back of the book for an all-new avatar for fans to use on the Neoboards. This cookbook features gluten-free, nut-free, vegan, and vegetarian recipes so everyone can enjoy Neopian cooking.


Fullmetal Alchemist

Metal Sign | Ages: 16+

MSRP: $6.99

Available: April 2023

Anime enthusiasts can decorate their home, garage, or office with this vibrant wall sign crafted of premium tin metal. The 11.6-by8.265-inch sign comes with four pre-drilled holes for easy hanging. Ata-Boy offers retailers a robust assortment of officially licensed decor, stickers, lanyards, patches, and other items inspired by top pop culture licenses.


Sleeping Bags | Ages: 8+

MSRP: $78

Available: Spring 2023

These fleece sleeping bags are great for sleepovers, camping, and more. Each set features a zipper closure and comes with a pillow that conveniently rolls up inside the sleeping bag with the attached closure straps. They are available in assorted designs, including doughnuts, gummy bears, disco, skateboards, video games, and outer space themes.

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Source: Chefclub


1) Original TREND Scratch ‘n Sniff Stinky Stickers: Retro Edition

Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $3.99 | Available: Summer 2023

Trend Enterprises will release 24 original ‘80s TREND Scratch ‘n Sniff Stinky Stickers. With 24 different stickers in each pack, collectors can find the original stickers and all-new retro-inspired designs. The retro stickers are distinguished from the originals by a star. Different scents to collect include Blueberry, Root Beer, Strawberry, Leather, and more.

2) The United States Wipe-Off Learning Set | Ages: 5+ | MSRP: $16.99

Available: Now

This interactive, 74-piece, dry-erase set introduces kids to all 50 States, along with the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. Kids can find capitals, explore regions, and discover state flags, flowers, birds, and points of interest.

3) I Feel… Learning Set | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $14.99 | Available: Now

This set is designed to encourage kids, parents, teachers, counselors, and others to have conversations about their feelings with versatile I Feel... posters. This set of eight posters features playful illustrations provide relatable ways for kids to identify emotions, recognize they’re not the only ones that feel that way, and move into talking about them.


Fluffy Floor Cushions

Ages: 5+ | MSRP: $69.99 Available: Fall 2023

Kids can cozy up and lounge on these soft, inflatable jumbo floor cushions. Each cushion features a super-soft plush exterior and spans more than 4 feet. There are four unique styles to collect, including a monkey, a unicorn, an ice cream cone, and a rocket ship.


STEAM Lab Ultimate Gemstone and Dig Kit

Ages: 7+ | MSRP: $24.99

Available: September 2023

Kids can discover the science of gems and precious minerals. This collector’s kit features 29 tumbled gems and a fully illustrated book that includes a field guide, fun facts, and nonfiction content.


Candy Fans

Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $5.99

Available: Spring/Summer 2023

Stay cool with these colorful candy fans. Each fan provides a burst of fanned air when kids push the button, and comes complete with assorted fruit-flavored dextrose candies. Kids can choose from SpongeBob SquareP ants, Baby Shark, and more characters.


Chefclub’s Knife for Kids | Ages: 7+ MSRP: $22.90 | Available: Now

This kid-friendly knife’s design provides maximum safety and will help boost kids’ autonomy in the kitchen. It features an ergonomic handle that keeps fingers away from the blade and has a grip for both right-handed and left-handed cooks. Additionally, it features a finger guard adapted for small hands, a round-tipped blade for added safety, and a blade guard for easy, cut-free storage.

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1) Sesame Street Dino Stomp Elmo | Ages: 2+ | MSRP: $29.99 | Available: Spring 2023

This 13-inch plush Elmo comes dressed in a cuddly green dinosaur costume. When toddlers squeeze Elmo’s hand, he will sing, tell jokes, move his arms, and stomp along to “If You’re Happy and You Know It.” Toddlers can dance and giggle along with this Sesame Street pal, and when they squeeze Elmo’s hand, he will tell a joke. This plush toy contains 100% recycled polyester fill.

2) CoComelon Veggie Fun Learning Basket | Ages: 18 MOS+ | MSRP: $29.99 Available: Spring 2023

Inspired by the CoComelon animated series, this 10-piece interactive toy comes with a shopping basket, a checkout counter with a handheld scanner, and eight pieces of play food. Kids can slide the ladybug to select a mode to practice counting, challenge their color recognition, or hear fun facts about the fruits and vegetables. When kids press the music key, they will hear the “Yes, Yes Vegetables!” song from the series, and they can activate more learning phrases and music when they place a food item on the checkout counter or drop it through the slot in the basket. For imaginative shopping play, they can press a button on the handheld scanner to hear realistic sound effects and phrases.


Peekaboo 10 Pc and 27 Pc Sets | Ages: 18 MOS+ MSRP: $19.99 (10pc); $52.99 (27 pc) | Available: Spring 2023

With these magnetic building sets, toddlers will explore tactile learning. In the 10-piece set, they can build a bear, a duck, and more. In the 27-piece set, they will build cats, dogs, toys, and other items.

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Source: Crawligator


1) SpillAgain | Ages: 2+ | MSRP: $39.95

Available: Summer 2023

Toddlers can fill the top of the tower with the included 16 colorful balls, then press the button to trigger a hidden timer. The timer ticks down until suddenly all the balls drop and roll in different directions. Kids can gather them up and load them again, encouraging motor skill development and active play.

2) New Pastel Bilibo

Ages: 2+ | MSRP: $29.95 Available: Now

Bilibo is the plastic toy that can be anything kids can imagine, from a turtle shell to a sand scooper and snowman builder to a doll cradle and more. Designed for play inside and outside, it now comes in trendy pastel colors, including baby pink, ice blue, lilac, beige, and mint.


SmartMax My First Pirates

Ages: 12 MOS+ | MSRP: $24.99

Available: Early 2023

This set has everything toddlers need to sail the high seas aboard their first pirate ship. The set includes two pirates, a ship kids can take apart to reveal the ocean, and a palm tree that becomes a ship’s mast.


1) 3-in-1 Tummy Time to Toddler Piano | Ages: 3 MOS+ | MSRP: $19.99

Available: Spring 2023

This piano keeps babies engaged and entertained during tummy time. As babies transition to sitting up, they can press the keys and turn the page in the little book to peer in the mirror. As they explore the piano, they will hear songs, melodies, and first words about colors and animals. Once babies learn to walk, they can grab the handle and take the piano with them wherever they go.

2) Take Me With You Zebra | Ages: 3 MOS+ | MSRP: $19.99

Available: Spring 2023

Babies can explore their senses of touch, sound, and sight with this cuddly friend’s soft plush, crinkly leaf, colorful patterns, and ribbon tags. Kids can shake the zebra to hear silly sounds, giggles, and tunes. When they lift the fabric flap, they’ll find three peek-a-boo buttons that teach numbers, colors, and sing-along songs. It also features a flashing light and a mirror.

3) Kiddie Cat Cassette Player | Ages: 9 MOS+ | MSRP: $10.99

Available: Spring 2023

Babies can toddle around in retro style with the Kiddie Cat Cassette Player. It plays melodies in jazz, country, and rock ‘n’ roll styles, in addition to the “Alphabet Song.” This take-along music toy is reminiscent of the portable tape decks of the past: The wheels spin as music plays. When kids press the buttons, they can watch how the kitty bops up and down and side to side.

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1) Bebé Fuerte | Ages: 0+ | MSRP: $10.99-24.99 | Available: Fall 2023

TOMY launches an all-new line of baby toys featuring seven signature products co-designed by Robin Arzόn, Vice President of Fitness Programming and Head Instructor at Peloton. The color palette is inspired by Arzόn’s Cuban-Puerto Rican roots and the rich heritage of LatinX culture. Toys in the line, including the Stack & Count Kettlebell, Twist & Shake Dumbell (pictured), and Let’s Move Gift Set, feature Spanish words and phrases that parents can share as they play with baby.

2) Lamaze Baby Toys | Ages: 0+ | MSRP: $10.95-34.95

Available: Now

The Lamaze baby toy range gets a full refresh with a wide assortment of products at varying price points. The updated line includes the 3-in-1 Surprise Bear Clip & Go, Puffaboo Elephant, Stack Rattle & Roll Block Set, and more.


1) Tracy the Fidget Triceratops | Ages: 18 MOS+ | MSRP: $15.99

Available: Summer 2023

This dinosaur features multiple interactive fidget pieces that toddlers can spin, twist, crank, and push to build hand strength, coordination, and fine motor skills.

2) Big Feelings Nesting Fruit Friends | Ages: 18 MOS+ | MSRP: $16.99

Available: Spring 2023

This set consists of five double-sided fruit characters that introduce kids to 10 emotions. Toddlers can learn opposites as they compare and contrast the different faces. They can also practice fine motor skills, engage in social and emotional learning, and enhance their


Crawligator | Ages: 4 MOS+ | MSRP: $78.99 | Available: Spring 2023

The Crawligator helps incorporate and promote tummy time for infants. This developmental rolling toy provides mobility, helps develop gross motor skills, and supports brain development and independence as little ones explore their world. The padded contour surface lets babies rest comfortably on their stomachs while moving their arms and legs in a crawling motion. The high-quality wheels allow the Crawligator to move across a hard floor surface. It is lightweight, easy to clean, and storable. It comes in three new colors, including tan, gray, and sage.

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1) Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Twist & Learn Gamer | Ages: 9 MOS+ MSRP: $12.99 | Available: Spring 2023

This interactive learning toy looks like a handheld gaming device, but with toddler-friendly features. It features the Laugh & Learn squad on the screen and has a pair of “controller” handles that twist and slide, as well as more than 10 buttons that activate lights, music, and sounds.

2) Fisher-Price Barbie Play and Care Pet Spa by Little People | Ages: 18 MOS+ MSRP: $24.99 | Available: Spring 2023

Toddlers can pamper and play with their animal pals across two levels of play. The set comes with three figures and features a grooming station with sound effects, an “outdoor” play yard, a cubby for nap time, and a trap door roof for drop-through play.

3) Fisher-Price Linkimals Counting & Colors Peacock | Ages: 9 MOS+ Available: Spring 2023

This interactive feathery friend introduces baby to numbers and counting, colors, shapes, and kindness through engaging hands-on play. Babies can squeeze the five colorful tail feathers or spin the wheel to activate fun songs, sounds, phrases, and multicolor lights. The peacock interacts with other Linkamals toys, each sold separately.


1) LEGO DUPLO Construction Site | Ages: 2+ | MSRP: $64.99 | Available: Now

Parents and kids can work as a team to transport a boulder. The buildable playset comes with three construction site figures and three vehicles: a bulldozer, a crane, and a cement mixer complete with flashing lights and siren sound effects.

2) LEGO DUPLO Wind Turbine and Electric Car | Ages: 2+ | MSRP: $9.99 Available: May 1, 2023

Toddlers can explore a clean, green world with this electric car-charging playset. This set helps teach little ones about how alternative energy powers vehicles. Kids can pretend to fuel their car by attaching it to the charging station and then spin the wind


Tree House Play World | Ages: 2+ | MSRP: $54.99 | Available: Now

Kids can ignite their imaginations and sensory development with this storytelling playset. The Tree House Play World is a wooden playset featuring a track, two cars, a tree, a swing, a ladder, several animal figures, and much more.
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CoComelon Tumbling Mat | Ages: 18 MOS+

MSRP: $99.99 | Available: Spring 2023

Kids can play, jump, and dance safely with this tumbling mat. Measuring more than 6 feet long, this bright, 5-panel mat is perfect for active playtime. With comfortable padding made to soften jumps and tumbles, the thick foam cushion is built to keep kids


1) Ice Cream Take-Along Pull Toy | Ages: 0+ MSRP: $19.99 | Available: Spring 2023

This clip-on, vibrating pull-toy is a great way to entertain babies while stimulating their senses. When babies pull down the smiling ice cream cone, it expands to four stacked scoops in different patterns, colors, and textures (cotton, corduroy, and quilted materials). When babies let go, the cone vibrates and plays chiming sounds as it jiggles its way back to a single cone. A textured strawberry and ribbons are attached to the toy for babies to rub. Parents can clip the multi-textured toy onto a stroller, car seat, diaper bag, or highchair.

2) Wooden Ice Cream Magnetic Puzzle Play

Ages: 2+ | MSRP: $22.99 | Available: Fall 2023

Kids can match the pieces into the 16-piece puzzle board or use them for pretend play as they scoop and serve ice cream treats. The magnetic scooper lifts the ice cream and topping pieces. Kids can add scoops into notches in cones and bowls, and then connect toppings to the scoops with magnets.

3) Wooden Work & Play Desktop | Ages: 1+ MSRP: $27.99 | Available: Spring 2023

LeapFrog Fruit Colors Learning Smoothie

Ages: 6 MOS+ | MSRP: $10.99

Sweeten up playtime with this colorful learning cup. Babies can swivel

Crystal the Cup’s straw to choose from five fruit flavors and the cup will change color to match. Each of the fruits features a character who introduces themselves and their colors, such as Sherry Strawberry and Oliver Orange. The straw also doubles as a teething toy for kids to nibble on as they listen to the fruit-themed sing-along songs and music in reggae, pop, punk rock, and country styles. When kids shake the cup, they will hear the bubble beads bouncing inside.

Infants and toddlers can imitate grown-ups with this wooden version of a laptop and desk featuring a built-in carrying handle. Babies can open the screen to reveal a peekaboo mirror, press the rubberized keyboard buttons to develop fine motor skills and shape recogni tion, spin the rolling contact list to hear the beads tumble, turn the wooden pencil, slide the mouse-shaped computer mouse in its track, and flip the top of the attached

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1) Disney Baby: My First Disney Princess Stories: Cinderella & Moana Ages: 18 MOS+ | MSRP: $5.99 | Available: May 2023

Cinderella and Moana take the stage in My First Princess Stories. These baby books (each sold separately) are written in rhyme and feature soft, padded covers that make it easy for small hands to hold.

2) Spidey and His Amazing Friends: First Look and Find Book & Giant Puzzle | Ages: 18 MOS+ | MSRP: $24.99 | Available: Spring 2023

Kids can pretend to save the day with Spidey, Ghost-Spider, and Miles Morales with this Look and Find book-and-puzzle set. They can search for hidden objects and characters in seven busy scenes, then turn to the back of the book for more Look and Find activities. The oversized, 40-piece puzzle contains additional items for kids to find and identify.


Glowies Fireflies | Ages: 12 MOS+ | MSRP: $24.99 | Available: Now

These soft plush friends will help little ones drift off to sleep with a series of lullabies and relaxing sounds. Each furry critter comes equipped with a night light, so kids can sleep surrounded by a starry sky of soft light. They also feature a built-in timer that automatically shuts off the lights and melody after 30 minutes.


1) Hugbug & Harmony: Pop, Push, & Roll | Ages: 2+ | MSRP: $19.99 Available: Spring 2023

Toddlers can pop, push, and roll into play with Hugbug and Harmony. Harmony the swan is full of tactile sensations for kids to explore. When Hugbug wants a ride, the spot behind Harmony’s wings is the perfect perch. Little ones can explore the fiddle features and glow on both toys for sensory playtime.

2) Swirl & Shine MoonDrop Pond | Ages: 2+ | MSRP: $29.99 Available: Spring 2023

This pond playset plays music, lights up, and glows at kids’ touch. Kids can use their fingers to trace the swirl of the pond and watch as it lights up and glows. Kids can have Firefly hide, swing, sit, glow, and more in the pond’s interactive spaces.

3) Wigglebug: Wiggle, Hope, Stop! | Ages: 2+ | MSRP: $39.99 Available: Spring 2023

Wigglebug is an interactive plush that has four different modes: free play, active game, calm, and sleep. Wigglebug encourages social-emotional learning with its playful glow and motion-sensing technology.

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1) Pinkfong Baby Shark: Shark Orchestra Concert | Ages: 12 MOS+ MSRP: $14.99 | Available: January 2023

Introduce toddlers to the instruments that make up an orchestra with this musical book. Sized for small hands to hold, it has seven buttons that each play an excerpt from the animated show Baby Shark and feature violin, clarinet, trumpet, piano, and drum sounds.

2) Pinkfong Baby Shark: Healthy Habits Sound Books Boxed Set

Ages: 1+ | MSRP: $29.99 | Available: Summer 2023

This musical book set includes everything toddlers need to learn healthy habits. Each book plays one full song and three interactive sounds to guide kids’ reading comprehension. Each title also includes a matching sticker sheet for toddlers to interactively play with the sound book. The set comes with three sticker sheets and three books: Potty Time, Teeth, and Bath Time.

3) Pinkfong Baby Shark: Sing & Learn Pad | Ages: 2+ | MSRP: $19.99

Available: Spring 2023

Toddlers can learn language through music with this educational learning pad and lyrics booklet. The booklet can help kids learn first words and develop speech through songs, sound effects, and sentences. The Baby Shark Sing & Learn Pad plays more than 290 sounds and 40 songs that teach toddlers about fruits, insects, animals, vehicles, and sea animals.


1) Duck Spray and Play | Ages: 1+ | MSRP: $27.99 | Available: Now

With this duck-themed bath toy, kids can place the spraying ducks on top of the main unit to spray water, connect the hose and add the shower heads, or windup the self-swimming ducks and watch them swim.

2) Dinosaur Monster Trucks | Ages: 1+ | MSRP: $23.99 | Available: Now

Kids can push the button on top of the toy to watch these dino-themed trucks open their mouths. With an excavator bucket and dump truck, these trucks are great for sand or other outdoor play experiences.

3) RC Baby Plane | Ages: 18 MOS+ | MSRP: $29.99

Available: Now

This airplane features buttons and levers that kids can press and pull to hear music and sound effects. When kids place the two included figures into the plane, they will trigger even more effects and interactions. The airplane features two modes: In automatic mode, the plane will run on its own; in remote-control mode, kids can control the plane and move it forward and backward.

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1) PJ Masks Cat Racer | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $22.99 | Available: Now

The Cat-Car got an upgrade in PJ Masks Power Heroes, and now Catboy has a speedier ride: The Cat Racer. This version from Hasbro is a kid-powered, freewheeling vehicle that includes a light-up rocket booster flame and a variety of sound effects. The included Catboy figure is compatible with all Hero ID-equipped PJ Masks playsets, each sold separately.

2) Marvel Spidey and His Amazing Friends Supersized Action Figures

Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $11.99-13.99 | Available: Spring 2023

Preschoolers can battle it out with these chunky, 9-inch action figures of Black Panther and Hulk, inspired by the Disney Junior series Spidey and His Amazing Friends. The poseable, supersized figures join a wider line of characters to collect, including Supersized Spidey, Miles Morales, Spider-Man, and Ghost-Spider, each sold separately.


1) Sense & Grow Sensory Light Tray | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $34.99 | Available: Fall 2023

This seven-piece set comes with a light table, three colors of sand, a rake, a mini dustpan, and a broom. Kids can trace, mix, and swirl the sand with the tools to explore shapes, colors, and senses.

2) Little Tikes Cozy Coupe Wood Pull Along | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $6.99 Available: Fall 2023

This 6-inch wooden toy features the red-and-yellow Cozy Coupe with a handle to carry it and a 40-inch cord to pull it around. The toy is FSC-certified and is made with wood from responsibly managed sources.

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TinkerTar | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $24.99

Available: Summer 2023

Future musicians will be hooked on this 1-string melody maker creat ed by musicians Brian Calhoun, Dave Matthews, and John Alagia. The 1-string is the perfect way to introduce kids to music because they can start with a melody instead of chords. TinkerTar is always in tune and comes with a large selection of fun designs and characters with the included 15-song music book.


1) Cool Scoops Ice Creamery | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $119.99 | Available: Spring 2023

Kids can scoop up pretend ice cream cones, cups, milkshakes, and ice cream sandwiches with this 42-piece set, complete with an ice cream and soft serve dispenser: Kids can drop wooden scoops or plastic swirls in the top, place a cup or wooden cone underneath, press the lever, and watch the scoops drop down. The set also includes toppings, such as sprinkles and hot fudge, and a scooper that kids can use to lift the wooden scoops and fill a soft, fabric, roll-up waffle cone. Ice Creamery customers can choose from items listed on the magnetic menu board and use the credit card machine with the magnetic signature pad to pay for purchases. All of the pieces fit inside the counter for cleanup.

2) Deluxe Grill & Pizza Oven Play Set | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $169.99

Available: Spring 2023

This kid-size wooden barbecue grill, smoker, and pizza oven set comes with more than 60 accessories and play food pieces so budding chefs can cook pretend steak, chicken, burgers, hot dogs, corn, and pizza. Kids can place wooden play food “uncooked” side up on the grill, griddle, or side burner; set the built-in timer; pretend to baste; flip the food with the included utensils to see grill marks; and press the thermometer into holes in the play food to check when the food is “done.” Little chefs can also create a wooden pizza with toppings and turn the dials to raise and lower the “flames” in the pizza oven. The pieces all store neatly on the grill and storage shelf.

3) Jet Pilot Interactive Dashboard | Ages: 3+ years | MSRP: $109.99

Available: Fall 2023

This wooden airplane dashboard features lights, buttons, and sound effects, and includes a play headset. The throttle increases the speed of the scrolling map and the yoke moves the plane in the scrolling display. It comes with double-sided windshield cards and a double-sided reusable pre-flight checklist. It makes 22 sound effects, and features night mode, a seatbelt, weather options, left/right turn, cabin and tower communications, a location selector, a local radio, and landing gear. The light-up dials include altimeter, horizon, heading, and airspeed.

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1) Pop Up Tents | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $29.99 | Available: Fall 2023

Kids can pick up any of these Pop Up Tents, jump inside, and pretend to drive. The Barbie Convertible Pop Up Tent (pictured) is designed to look like Barbie’s car, complete with a matching key fob and outer art featuring Barbie driving. The Grave Digger Pop Up Tent is inspired by the popular Monster Jam Truck, and the John Deere Pop Up Tent replicates a John Deere Tractor and comes with a matching keychain that plays country music and tractor sounds.

2) Hot Wheels Pop Up Tent | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $39.99

Available: Spring 2023

This tent is designed to look like a Hot Wheels racecar with an open floor that allows kids to pick it up and pretend to drive. Little racers have easy access to the tent through the rear entrance and is large enough for two kids to play together. Kids can race Hot Wheels cars with the included Hot Wheels track pieces that attach to the front-facing clips. Each tent includes two mystery Hot Wheels cars and 10 feet of track. Nine different car styles are available, including the GT Hunter, Mad Splash, Forward Force, Hi-Roller, and more.


Calico Critters Easter Celebration Set

Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $29.99 | Available: Spring 2023

This limited-edition set introduces kids to the Calico Critters line with Marguerite Rabbit Sister dressed in a pastel Easter dress and her brother dressed in his purple suit, both donning matching bonnets. Kids can have an Easter egg hunt with the included three pastel, decorative Easter eggs and three candy accessories.


Sleepy Friends Tonies

Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $39.99

Available: March 2023

This new Tonies collection is designed to help kids with their bedtime routines. The Night Light Tonie (pictured) provides multiple ambient lighting moods and plays 90 minutes of soothing, original, instrumental music and nature sounds. It also has a recording function that families can use to create their own bedtime stories via the mytonies app, giving little ones a familiar voice of a parent, a grandparent, or a loved one to lull them to sleep.

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Gabby Girls Purr-ific Pool

Playset | Ages: 4+

MSRP: $29.99

Available: Spring 2023

This playset comes with exclusive Gabby and MerCat figures wearing swimming outfits with water-activated, color-changing mermaid tails. It also includes a slide, three pool accessories, an opening clam, and a water-squirting octopus-cat so that kids can re-create their favorite poolside scenes from series. The set can also connect to the Gabby’s


1) Fisher-Price Thomas & Friends

Crystal Caves Adventure Set

Ages: 3+ | Available: Spring 2023

This motorized train is inspired by the “Mystery of Lookout Mountain” episode of Thomas & Friends: All Engines Go! Kids can flip the switch on top of the engine to send Thomas racing into the Crystal Caves to complete his delivery and use the track switch to send him either over or under the tipping bridge. The set includes more than 8 feet of track and is compatible with any Thomas & Friends track, except the wooden tracks.

2) Imaginext DC Super Friends Insider

Assortment | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $26.99

Available: Now

This collection of kid-powered, 12inch robot playsets features poseable DC Super Friends characters. Each set comes with four accessories that are compatible with both the robot and the figure. Kids can open the robot cockpit and place the figure inside, then press the Power Pad to activate lights and sounds. Kids can also

1) Little Tikes Solid Wood Animal Ark | Ages: 18 MOS+ MSRP: $24.99 | Available: Now

This playset is an early learning shape sorter that will stimulate preschoolers’ imaginations, creativity, and reasoning, while improving their fine motor, hand-eye, touch sensory, and problem-solving skills.. It features large, easy-to-grip, chunky wood figures that kids can uwse to identify animals, recognize colors, categorize shapes, and more. The set comes with 14 animals, two figures, and a detachable ramp that kids can store in the ark after playtime.

2) PAW Patrol Jumbo Megamat Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $39.99 Available: Now

The bright, colorful, jumbo-size foam mat also features graphics of Vantage Point at the Lookout, the beach, City Hall, Porter’s Café, the train station, the Pup Park, Katie’s Pet Parlor, and Farmer Yumi’s Farm. The 17.5-square-foot playmat is made of soft, non-slip, hypoallergenic EVA foam; easily wipes clean; is water-resistant; and comes with two out of three randomly assorted character toys: Rescue Pup Chase in his police truck, Marshall in his fire truck, and Rubble in his construction digger.

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1) Pretendables Cinnamon Roll Set | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $34.99

Available: Spring 2023

Kids can pop open the canister and pull out the four plush, rollable cinnamon rolls, then place them on the tray and pretend to bake them in the oven. Once they’re done, kids can use the piping bag to add the pretend icing.

2) Pretendables Pizza Set | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $49.99

Available: Spring 2023

Kids can serve the best slice in town with this pretend play set. The felt toppings stick to the hook-and-loop spots on the pizza slices. Kids can use the pizza peel to slide it in and out of the pretend oven, then use the pizza cutter and spatula to serve their customers with the two plates.

3) Pretendables Bakery Set | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $39.99

Available: Spring 2023

Kids can crack the hook-and-loop egg into the bowl, pour in some baking mix, and stir it up with the mixer, which actually spins when they pull the trigger. When kids are done baking, they can pretend to decorate their treats with the sprinkles and icing. The crate doubles as an oven.

2-in-1 Globe | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $29.99

Available: March 2023

Preschoolers can learn about the world and the sky with this two-in-one globe. One setting shows Earth and all of its countries, capitals, and major cities, while the other setting shows the constellations in the sky using LED lights.

1) Luna The Calming Kitty | Ages: 3+ MSRP: $21.99

Available: Summer 2023

Preschoolers can learn three breathing patterns to help manage their thoughts and feelings with this calming interactive toy. Luna the Calming Kitty comes with activity cards that kids can use alongside the light prompts to practice their breathing. This toy helps little ones practice sensory skills and mindfulness.

2) Grab That Monster Fine Motor Activity Set | Ages: 3+ MSRP: $24.99 | Available: March 2023

Practice fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination with this activity set which includes hard-to-open or hard-to-close large monster grabbers that kids can use to pick up mini monsters. Preschoolers can sort the mini monsters into their homes by color, type, or attribute and use the spinner to structure their game play.

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ZAG Heroez Miraculous T&S Sets | Ages: 3+

MSRP: $12.99 (Macaron); $29.99 (Cash Register)

Available: Fall/Winter 2023

Kids can help run the Tom & Sabine Boulangerie Patisserie with these two role-play toys. The Cash Register & Coffee Ma-


Nice and Tidy Clean Up Kit | Ages: 3+ MSRP: $24.99 | Available: Spring 2023

The eight-piece, role-playing cleaning kit comes with an extendable duster, wash cloths, an extendable broom, a squeegee sponge, a two-piece dustpan, and an extendable mop. Kids can hang the tools on the included stand.


1) Octonauts Deluxe Vehicles | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $16.99 each | Available: Now

Kids can take these all-terrain vehicles inspired by the preschool animated TV series Octonauts on missions in the playroom. Each vehicle includes an Octonauts crew member, a creature, and a collectible mission card, and features a unique action feature and storage area for its rescued creature. The vehicles are available in Gup 3 and Kwazii (pictured) and Terra Gup 2 and Paani styles.

2) Octonauts Adventure Packs | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $8.99 each | Available: Now

These adventure packs now feature Dashi — the IT expert Daschund — and Tweak, the engineer Marsh Rabbit. Each pack includes a figure, an environment, a creature that needs rescuing, and a mission card. Kids can re-create adventures from the series or mix and match the pieces to make new adventures of their own.

3) Octonauts Gup K | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $34.99

Available: August 2023

Inspired by “The Great Swamp Search” episode of Octonauts, this all-terrain utility vehicle features transforming wheels that fold up so it is water-ready. The Gup K’s gator-like design features clamping jaw action that kids can engage by pulling the level on top of the vehicle, which reveals a secret compartment. The vehicle can fit up to five Octo-Agents, including the exclusive swamp outfit Captain Barnacles. It also comes with two removable swamp speeders with spinning propellers, a snake to rescue, and a mission card.

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1) Beep ‘n’ Buy Cash Register | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $44.99

Available: Fall/Winter 2023

This wood-based, brightly colored play cash register features a working solar-powered calculator. It also comes with a scanner with light and sound effects that mimic a real-life shopping experience. The set includes three screen cards, a sticker sheet, a bank card, coins, and bank notes that kids can collect and count when checking out customers. Kids can use the stickers to customize their grocery list, scan the items, and press the red button to open the till.

2) My First Baking Oven | Ages: 4+ | MSRP: $49.99

Available: Fall/Winter 2023

This pretend play set introduces kids to cooking and baking with the included large baking oven; tray; and six decorated, color-changing cookies. Kids can arrange the cook ies on the tray, put them in the oven, and watch as the magic purple “baking” light turns the cookies into a richer, dark color. When kids open the door, the light comes on; when they close the door, the timer starts; and when the timer is done, it dings.

3) Green Planet Explorers Pandas’ Bamboo House | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $149.99

Available: Now

Hape’s Green Planet Explorers line presents sustainability in accessible, child-friendly ways. The line is designed to help teach kids how to care about the environment through play. Each set and family of explorers focuses on a unique eco-friendly way of living, including solar energy, bee keeping, organic greenhouse farming, and more. The three-story Pandas’ Bamboo House playset comes with four poseable panda figures: Sam and Pam Panda and their parents. Kids can explore the playhouse’s levels while they learn about how the Pandas’ solar energy lifestyle is essential to the environment. The set includes a suspension bridge, a slide, a rope ladder, hammocks, a bed and a dressing table, a sofa, a sun umbrella, a fireplace, kitchen accessories, and more. The playset and figures are made from wood and eco-friendly, renewable materials.


1) Kids First Math: Number Balance | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $29.95 Available: Spring 2023

With this hands-on approach to learning math concepts, kids can place weights on the two sides of the balance and learn what values equal each other. This set teaches concepts such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, greater than, less than, and pre-algebra.

2) Kids First Math: Large Double-Sided Geoboard Set | Ages: 3+ MSRP: $14.95 | Available: Spring 2023

Kids can use the included 100 colorful rubber bands to create shapes on the three double-sided geoboards. They can follow the full-color guide or create their own shapes. On one side of the geoboard is a five-by-five grid of pegs that will teach kids different shapes such as squares, rectangles, octagons, polygons, and different kinds of triangles; different angles; and the concepts of perimeter and area. On the other side of the board, the pegs are arranged in a circular array so that kids can explore the concepts of angles, fractions, and more. The geoboards are stackable for easy storage.

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1) Bluey’s Tree Playset (Moose Toys) | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $29.99 | Available: Now

This treehouse playset stands 11 inches tall and features a rope ladder that Bluey and her friends can go up, then slide down on the other side. At the base of the tree, there is a seating area, a hammock, and a swing that Bluey character figures can sit in. At the top of the tree, kids will find a secret door that reveals a secret fairy hideaway. The playset includes a table, two chairs, and two exclusives figures: Bluey in a flower crown from the “Rug Island” episode of Bluey and a transparent fairy based on the “Fairies” episode.

2) Bluey Beach Cabin (Moose Toys) | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $34.99

Available: July 2023

This seaside cabin playset features three play areas and a variety of furnishings, such as bunk beds, kitchen cabinets, a couch, a shower, and a toilet. Outside the cabin, there is a patio area with a grill and a private beach for Bluey and her family to enjoy. The includ ed, swim-ready Bluey figure can enjoy the attachable beach basin with her surfboard. The set also includes a sticker sheet kids can use to customize the cabin.

3) Hammerbarn Shopping Playset (Moose Toys) | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $69.99

Available: July 2023

Kids can take Bluey and Bingo shopping in this playset of Hammerbarn, the home improvement store featured in the “Hammerbarn” episode of Bluey. The playset is nearly 2 feet tall with four stories, eight play areas, and 12 play pieces. The set also has a rooftop café and interactive features, such as an elevator and a paw-shaped button that kids can press to see lights and hear more than 50 phrases from the show.


1) Ryan’s World Island Adventures Giant Volcano Mystery Egg Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $39.99 | Available: Spring 2023

Inspired by the Ryan’s World YouTube channel, this new version of the Giant Mystery Egg features packaging with glow-in-the-dark “lava” flowing from the top. The inside is filled with tropical-themed surprises, including two mystery figures, two micro figures, a micro vehicle, a squishy toy, a spinner, glow-in-the-dark putty, and stickers.

2) Ryan’s World Island Adventures Mystery Pineapple Egg | Ages: 3+ MSRP: $19.99 | Available: Spring 2023

This pineapple is filled with surprises for Ryan’s World fans to unbox, including four mystery micro figures, a Pineapple Island Hopper micro vehicle, kinetic sand, and stickers.

3) Ryan’s World Island Adventures Mystery Mini Tiki Egg | Ages: 3+ MSRP: $19.99 | Available: Spring 2023

This Mini Tiki Egg comes with a mystery figure, a micro figure, kinetic sand, and a sticker, all inspired by Ryan’s World.

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Space Rover Coding Set | Ages: 4+ MSRP: $49.99 | Available: Summer 2023

This set will teach kids introductory coding skills as they program the space rover to navigate DIY obstacle courses and retrieve the space rock. The set includes a coding rover, an astronaut, a space rock, 20 coding cards, and a full-color activity guide with coding challenges.


GeoSafari Jr. Talking Space Explorer | Ages: 4+ MSRP: $99.99 | Available: Spring 2023

Preschoolers can explore the cosmos with this talking toy telescope that was designed by scientists. The telescope features a high-resolution LCD screen for kids to explore their way through 13 videos, more than 120 images (including NASA media), and 200 space facts and quiz questions recorded by Emily Calandrelli, space expert and star of Netflix’s Emily’s Wonder Lab. Little ones can hone their STEM and science skills, including observation and exploration.




1) Build-A-Buddy John Deere Yellow Dump Truck | Ages: 18 MOS+ MSRP: $24.99 | Available: Fall 2023

Preschoolers can play two different ways with this colorful dump truck. It’s a freewheeling vehicle that features a working dump bed and a construction toy that little ones can take apart and put back together again using the included drill and bit. It comes with two AA batteries pre-installed.

2) John Deere Preschool Key ‘N Go Johnny Tractor | Ages: 18 MOS+ | MSRP: $29.99 Available: Fall 2023

Little farmers can discover 13 interactive features on Johnny Tractor. Toddlers can turn the key in the red slot and Johnny’s eyes spin to show three fun expressions. Try the blue slot to see Johnny drive in four patterns. Each turn of the key can also activate lights and sounds. Three AA batteries are included.

3) Build-A-Buddy Transformers Optimus Prime | Ages: 18 MOS+ | MSRP: $29.99 Available: Fall 2023

Hasbro’s famous Autobot leader comes to the preschool category with this push-along toy that kids can also build and rebuild as both a robot and a semi-truck, using the working drill and bit that has two AA batteries pre-installed.


Interactive Adventure Books | Ages: 3+ | MSRP: $15.99-17.99 | Available: April 2023

Kids can join their favorite characters on interactive literary adventures. In Spidey and His Amazing Friends: First Words (pictured), kids will learn first words and can press 30 sound buttons to hear the words read aloud. In PAW Patrol: Spaceship Rescue!, little ones will wear an electronic PAW Patrol wristband that features five buttons with different sound effects from the show. In Dino Ranch: Dino Ranchers Roll!, preschoolers can turn gears and learn about counting, colors, cause-and-effect, and simple machines.


1) Adventure Rocket | Ages: 2+ | MSRP: $179.99 | Available: Now

Kids can embark on imaginative adventures as an astronaut, a space explorer, an astronomer, or a rocket scientist with this play space ship. It features a swivel chair and a star viewer that includes lights & sounds, and a control center with an onboard game activity. The Adventure Rocket comes with accessories, including three maintenance wires, a large space rock, a small space rock, tweezers, a hammer, and a magnifier.

2) Big Adventures Vehicle Collection | Ages: 2+ | MSRP: $14.99-29.99 | Available: Now

These toy vehicles combine play and learning with real, working STEM tools. Kids can collect the Safari SUV with binoculars, a flashlight, and a compass; the Space Rover with a 3x microscope, a magnetic crane, and an extending grabber; and the Submarine with an underwater viewer, a water suction and sprayer, and a sifting net.

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1 2 3


Hasbro loses the plastic, but maintains the consumer connection.

Back in 2019, Hasbro unveiled its plan to eliminate plastic from its toy packaging, with the goal of being completely plastic-free for most products by the end of last year. As Hasbro continues on this path of sustainability, I’ve taken note of some truly innovative ways in which it has modified its approach to package structures that leverage blisters and acetate windows.

When I first heard about this industry-wide initiative, I envisioned the use of more platform and open box configurations, and closed boxes in which imagery plays a more integral role in glorifying the product at retail. But, Hasbro has shown that we can play the sustainability game without compromising the shopping experience.

Plastic has been an important packaging component since the late 1950s. It gave manufacturers a way to show the product to consumers without exposing it to potential pilferage. Another benefit to shoppers being able to see the actual product at retail was that brands were able to connect with their target audience on an emotional level. This was key to the toy industry, where the pull is to create desire. With the elimination of plastic components in toy packaging, our challenge as package designers is to find a way to tell the product’s story without plastic as a visual portal, while maintaining that emotional connection with our audience.

So, what is Hasbro’s brilliant take? Simulate the experience of viewing products through blister material and acetate!


Hasbro packaged the first three series of its Star Wars: The Mandalorian Bounty

Collection “The Child” figures in cube-shaped, platform-style boxes that used a large blister to showcase the product from the front, top, and sides. When Series 4 was released in closed box packaging, Hasbro didn’t reconsider its structural design strategy completely. Instead, Hasbro maintained the original package design so that all four series would be visually cohesive as a collection.

The on-pack communication remained the same, aside from the placement of the Disney+ logo, which moved to the upper left corner. In place of the blister, Hasbro leveraged a photo of the product at actual size, placed on a solid-colored background. Hasbro even added natural shadows that the product would cast against an insert. The simulation of the original experience is key to the visual continuity of the product line.


For as far back as I can remember, dolls have always been packaged in window boxes. In recent years, doll packaging has become elaborate thermoformed or scored acetate structures. How can a closed box doll package ever compete at retail?

Take Hasbro’s Disney Signature Style Series Villain fashion dolls and accessories as a perfect example. The line features Cruella de Vil, the Evil Queen, Maleficent, and Ursula, each packaged in plastic-free, closed boxes that simulate a “V-shaped” window through which an actual-size photo of each doll is visible. The window box experience is an illusion created through natural shadows cast onto

the doll image and the simulated insert. A cropped image of the character on the left spine and a monochromatic scene from each film on the right spine make for fun ways to display the packaging. Each doll comes with a magic mirror that reveals hidden imagery and compartments within the package insert to find accessories. Since a die-cut window can’t be leveraged to show the magic mirror, it is revealed through a simulated tear in the package.


Hasbro’s simulation of the retail experience that plastic components provided is a simple, yet brilliantly innovative, way to meet the company’s sustainability goals while maintaining the brands’ ability to connect with consumers. It would be wonderful to see other toy manufacturers adopt this approach on the path toward a plastic-free world. 

and style
toy and entertainment brands,
via email at
more information.
Ted Mininni is President and
of Design Force, one of the leading design consultancies in toy and entertainment. To learn more about the
design strategies his consultancy
in the
of package design
guide design for
directly at (856) 810-2277 or
Visit for
Disney Signature Style Series Villains | Source: Hasbro


One Unicorn’s Journey from Emoji to Fully Licensed Brand

For decades, unicorns have been a popular icon for kids. A stroll down the kids’ aisle reveals everything unicorn-related, from backpacks to figures to plush. The one-horned horse often represents the magic of childhood — days spent frolicking in the backyard pretending to be from a far-off universe where unicorns can run wild. But why are unicorns always depicted as white?

April Showers wondered just that. A hard-working, single mom of two boys, Showers runs multiple businesses while maintaining her personal life. After a certain point, she was constantly being referred to as a “unicorn” because her friends thought she was keeping it all together at an incredible level. Showers loved the idea of the unicorn: The magical, mythical, and unique creature that mystifies everyone with its glow. She started to embrace her inner unicorn, even going so far as to research the mythological figure and sign off her texts with the unicorn emoji. But quickly, something shifted. “[The emoji] no longer resonated with me when I started to think about how the unicorn is white. So I decided to create a unicorn emoji that represented me better,” she says.


And so, in 2019, Afro Unicorn was born. Known for its graphic T-shirts and bags, Afro Unicorn is characterized by its logo. The brand’s iconic design — a Black unicorn that features a blue horn, Afro, crown, and earrings — was created by Showers’ cousin to reflect Showers herself. “It was important for the unicorn to represent who I am, from its side-eye

to its crown, jewels, eyeshadow, and fluffy hair,” Showers explains. “When fully realized, Afro Unicorn represents me.”

To elevate this representation, Showers revealed that the name has a dual meaning: “The first is to empower and elevate emerging entrepreneurs,” she says. “The second is an homage to Africa and a promise to amplify representation through my fully licensed character brand.” This multifaceted meaning is further reflected in the design. Not only does the Black unicorn image depict an Afro, but it also represents the varied skin tones of African descent, since the logo comes in three different skin tones.

In the beginning, Afro Unicorn started small as an organic, grassroots brand. Showers pressed and sold T-shirts through an e-commerce store, adding logos to clothing and bags at the request of her customers. But everything changed in August 2021 when a video of a little girl wearing an Afro Unicorn shirt went viral. After seeing the video, Showers received an email from Walmart with the subject line, “Afro Unicorn x Walmart.” The email asked her, “Have you ever considered party supplies?”


Afro Unicorn’s collaboration with Walmart marked the beginning of the brand’s rapid rise. With this partnership, Showers became one of the first Black women to enter the party supplies and celebration category. Although she started in the licensing industry with only two or three licensees, Showers now holds 45 licensees and counting. And in the next few months, Afro Unicorn will enter the toy space. “It’s thrilling to know that we have a line of plush, collectibles, games, puzzles, playsets, ride-ons, and outdoor play in the works,” Showers says. “Kids will be able to live in a world of Afro Unicorn!” This month, Afro Unicorn released a 13-inch standing plush with Dan Dee at Walmart, and this spring, GMA Accesorries Inc.’s Capelli Sports is releasing a line of Afro Unicorn water toys.

And now, plans are in the works for an even bigger brand expansion in 2024 as Afro Unicorn and its master toy partner Just Play introduce collectible dolls, figures, playsets, building toys, and more. “From the moment we met April, we

258 The Toy Book | February 2023 | NEW IN TOWN
April Showers, the founder and CEO of Afro Unicorn Source: Afro Unicorn

knew that Just Play had to be a part of her vision to bring Afro Unicorn to the toy aisle,” says Sunny Lauridsen, Senior Vice President of Brand Strategy and Licensing at Just Play. “We’ll be bringing [Afro Unicorn] to life through an assortment of plush, role-play dolls, and more that aim to empower girls to see the unicorn within themselves and to find their crown.”

Of course, creating these lines isn’t an easy process. “To develop the collections, we go through a very intense concept creative process,” Showers explains. “For the toy line, we start the process with developing stories for our Afro Unicorns.” In constructing these stories, Showers created the magical land of Afronia, where the

three main unicorns — Unique, Divine, and Magical — live. “The process of story development leads to creating the new toy collections,” Showers says. “We want the kids to read the stories and bring them to life through play and their imaginations.”


Although Afro Unicorn has grown across multiple retail categories, the shift to toys is especially poignant for Showers. “Kids need to see themselves in the clothes they wear and the toys they play with,” she asserts. “Multicultural toys are essential for kids to incorporate into playtime because they learn how to inter-

act with people who look like them. How do you fit in this world if you only have Barbie and Ken dolls?” Through Showers’ efforts, “kids will be able to live and play in a world of Afro Unicorn, where they can be their authentic selves and get over the European standard of beauty.”

As toy companies have started embracing more diversity in their collections, Showers sees the tide of authentic representation shifting. “George Floyd’s death became a catalyst for change, and the world came together to demand it,” she says. “[It’s a] positive trend for bigger toy companies to become more inclusive. We emulate adults as kids; we are products of our environment.”

It’s imperative that kids see representation everywhere, whether that be on the clothes they wear, in the supplies they use for celebrations, or the toys they play with. With Afro Unicorn’s growing portfolio of licensees, it’s clear that it won’t be long before kids can frolic in their backyard with unicorns of every color. 

Hannah Sacks is an Editorial Assistant at Adventure Media & Events. She writes feature pieces, trend articles, news, and product roundups for The Toy Book, The Toy Insider, and The Pop Insider. When she’s not writing, she can be found with a good book and a huge plate of dumplings. Afro Unicorn’s stationery collection is available at Walmart. | Source: Afro Unicorn Afro Unicorn will launch a line of water toys in partnership with Capelli Sports this spring. | Source: Afro Unicorn

PHILANTHROPY REIMAGINED How The Toy Foundation Flipped the Script on Its Efforts

Joy is at the center of everything the toy industry does, or at least it should be, according to the board of The Toy Foundation. As an industry, we care about toys because a child’s happiness is immeasurable. Yet, it’s hard for a kid to feel joy if their basic needs likefood and shelter aren’t met.

This is where The Toy Foundation’s vision comes in: The Toy Foundation believes in a world in which kids can experience comfort, joy, and the extraordinary physical, emotional, and educational benefits of play. Within the last few years, the Foundation has done a 180-degree turn on how it completes these goals, but joy remains at the center of it all.

“Ultimately we all got into this business for the most part because we think we understand that kids have a fundamental right to play,” says Thames & Kosmos CEO Andy Quartin, incoming Board Chair. “There are a lot of kids out there that don’t have access to toys and don’t have access to play — and joy, frankly. We’re all in a position to do something about that.”


The Toy Foundation began as the philanthropic arm of The Toy Association. It’s made up of a board of members from across the various facets that make up the industry. Until recently, it primarily acted as a liaison between toy companies and the communities in need of support. While the Foundation facilitated donations for many organizations, it couldn’t quite make the impact that its members hoped it would.

“So what was the organization before?” questions Beacon Media Group’s Kathleen Campisano, incoming Board Vice Chair. “It was a guiding principle,

and everybody kind of interpreted it uniquely and did their own individualistic thing and we tried to get some inertia out of that, but often it would just dissipate into some niceties and it didn’t really roll into a momentum of impact.”

Over the past few years, especially after seeing the effect the COVID-19 pandemic had on kids worldwide, the Foundation got to work on coming up with clear goals and a focused, strategic plan for achieving them.

“[The plan] creates focus and momentum,” Campisano says, “and it unites every single chairperson that these programs are kind of synergistically working around because we all share the same mission, the same vision, the same core values — and we rely on them and refer to them. It’s a one-sheeter so that it could fit in our pocket, and it’s an ever-present reminder of what we’re here to do.”



Become an influential voice and effective partner in serving and supporting kids everywhere through grant-making, services, and hands-on programs.


Strengthen the Foundation’s ability to advance its mission through development and fundraising to support programmatic initiatives and organizational needs.


Become an effective communicator of the Foundation’s efforts, within the toy industry and the wider community.

Divided into four sections, the plan got its start last year and will conclude in June 2025. It focuses on becoming an influential voice, strengthening the Foundation’s development and fundraising initiatives, communicating with the community, amplifying the philanthropic efforts of the toy industry, and building an effective board of directors.


Serve as a hub and amplifier for philanthropy within the toy industry.


Build an engaged, effective board that is committed to furthering the Foundation’s impact on society.

260 The Toy Book | February 2023 |
Media Editor
“We all got into this business for the most part because we understand that kids have a fundamental right to play.”
- Andy Quartin, Thames & Kosmos CEO

These, in turn, help its mission, which is to be a uniting force for the collective philanthropy of the toy industry, which it plans to accomplish through strategic partnerships, high-impact grant making, effective programming, and in-kind toy donations.

“The heart of this business is driven by two things and that’s the love of play and entrepreneurship,” Quartin says. “And those values are driving the new strategic plan.”


Included in the Foundation’s new plans are five core values: compassion, integrity, collaboration, inclusion, and the power of play.

“We’ve always known that kids see themselves and their future selves first through play,” Campisano says on the importance of inclusion in particular. She notes that the industry is opening itself up to more diversity in the way toys look, and who is making them.

One way the Foundation is working to create a more diverse workforce is through its grants program, particularly through partnerships with universities. Recently, it piloted a Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion program with the University of Maryland, in which 70 students across multiple disciplines came together to work on a curriculum that included creating a diverse product or service for the toy industry.

“They were creating a doll with disabilities and a playground for children with disabilities. They were looking to get funding for play grants that supported kids that are neurodiverse in children’s hospitals,” says Pamela Mastrota, Executive Director of The Toy Foundation, “But none of these students had ever thought about the toy industry [before].”

The program continues next with the University of North Texas and then will move to other schools. Mastrota hopes that next year the students will be able to present their projects at Toy Fair, where they can learn from an esteemed panel.

When discussing the stark contrast of The Toy Foundation’s evolution, Board Chair Andy Weiner remarks, “This dis-

cussion about diversity and inclusion … It wasn’t even on the radar of the Foundation to even think about it. And what gave it life for me was trying to ensure that our Foundation board was appropriately represented with a diverse community.”

Weiner says that the Foundation realized that the industry had a responsibility to be socially conscious and create programs that would evolve to change the toy industry for the better.


As it changes, The Toy Foundation keeps one value the same: collaboration. Whereas before the Foundation acted as a middle ground between toy companies and the communities they served, it now helps amplify the efforts of the “big guys” and helps the smaller companies that may not be able to donate on their own.

“The Foundation is set up to be a beacon of philanthropy for our industry,” Weiner says. It often does this through Play Grants, specifically through Children’s Hospital Play Grants, which donate money to children’s hospitals across the U.S. to help them with upgrades, as well as create play programs and kits for the kids who are staying there.

Some toy companies are big names in the towns in which their headquarters are located and donate huge amounts of time and money to their causes, but they can’t be everywhere. The Toy Foundation is set up to bring those same efforts into small-

er, rural areas where the need is great.

The Toy Foundation is dedicated to amplifying the talent, time, and treasure of the industry, and another way it does this is through The Toy Bank. Its name is quite literal as it’s the donation arm, which collects toys from various areas and distributes them to those in need. Through these efforts, the Foundation was able to donate $5 million in cash and in-kind support to aid relief efforts amid the Russia-Ukraine war. This is in addition to $10 million worth of toy donations to kids in the U.S.

The board hopes that it will be able to donate even more time, toys, and money in the coming years with its strategic plan.

“We’re all in the toy industry because we have Peter Pan syndrome. Nobody wants to grow up because we’re eternal optimists,” Campisano says.

Those interested in learning more about the efforts of The Toy Foundation, and how to join them, can do so at 

As a kid, Nicole Savas either wanted to be a writer or a professional toy player-wither. Somehow, as a Social Media Editor with The Toy Book, she’s found a career as both. She’s grateful to work somewhere that she can fully embrace both her love of teddy bears and her admiration for the Oxford comma. When she’s not at work, she’s putting her toy industry knowledge to use at home with her daughter.

Volunteering is just one of the ways The Toy Foundation gives back. | Source: The Toy Foundation


How Mentorship Can Make a Lasting Impact

Mentorship plays an important role in advancing women in the workplace. I’m energized by the impact that the Ruth Handler Mentorship Program for WiT has made — and continues to make — to support career growth for women across the toy industry through mentorship, coaching, professional development, and learning.

The global program is underwritten by The Mattel Children’s Foundation and named after Ruth Handler, Mattel’s co-founder and creator of the Barbie brand. Handler served as a mentor to many and continues to inspire women in the industry to reach their full potential through her legacy.

Participating in the Mentorship Program is a gift that keeps on giving for both the mentor and mentee. While the program has had a profoundly positive impact on mentees, the mentors have also greatly benefited and grown from their experiences. In fact, many mentors return again to take on additional partnerships.

What motivates someone to be a mentor and what do they find to be most rewarding about their experience? Get the answers to these questions and more, from some of the many mentors who are participating in the Ruth Handler Mentorship Program for WiT.

What motivates you to be a mentor?

Gaye Dean — Vice President, North America Retail Development, ZAG: For me, it is to see the growth and development of female executives in our industry. I have been fortunate enough to have mentored a variety of strong women throughout the past several years.

faced in their organizations. I think collaborating with these women has given them the affirmation that they are all exceptionally good at what they do, and has empowered them to make solid decisions for themselves and their organizations. It has been extremely satisfying and rewarding for me to meet with these women. It is so important to share our knowledge and to provide thoughtful and practical guidance for our future leaders. This program makes me so proud to be part of an industry that recognizes the need to help others. I have loved being a part of it!

What do you find most rewarding about mentoring?

I’m currently in my fifth partnership in this program and all my mentees have been smart, savvy executives who wanted a neutral sounding board and a place where they could express their true thoughts without judgment. They wanted a place where they felt safe discussing some of the challenges that they have

Skip Kodak — President, Americas, The LEGO Group: Mentoring gives me the chance to support someone to unlock their own potential and access personal and professional growth. Each mentoring experience gives me new learning and growth perspectives, reshaping my own biases and personal beliefs. What do I enjoy most about mentoring? I’m excited whenever I get to mentor someone with a different lived experience and a different subject matter expertise than me — for sure I will learn from them. I grow by practicing new ways to build safe and trusted shared spaces with new mentees.

262 The Toy Book | February 2023 | WIT STORIES
“It is so important to share our knowledge and to provide thoughtful and practical guidance for our future leaders.”
- Gaye Dean, Vice President, North America Retail Development, ZAG

I am always inspired by my mentee’s creativity to problem solve and unlock their potential. I am learning that successful mentoring relationships don’t depend on what I know. I enjoy figuring out what the is best question to ask next, and being alongside my mentee as they discover and explore their own “right answers.” Mentoring is an incredibly cool way to make a difference with others while I’m made better for the experience.

What do you consider to be your biggest strength as a mentor?

Ratna Kirpal — Senior Vice President, Global Consumer Products, Activision | Blizzard: It’s hard to say that there’s a specific strength that I lean into as a mentor because I first try to understand the mentee’s objective and support them in their needs. When I don’t have a certain skill that they are looking to improve, I tap into my network of resources for who can better assist the mentee. But when I do have that skill, I have a lot of fun sharing. My experience in global consumer products, business development, marketing, brand management, retail, product development, and licensing — as well as my experience as a parent, spouse, sibling, child, and friend — all work together when I guide a mentee. Someone once told me, “We only have one life … work or personal … you can’t separate them,” and I try to bring that perspective when I’m with a mentee because finding balance in everything we do is so important. As a minority and an immigrant, I also value sharing that perspective when the situation fits. And having more than 25 years of business experience along with my own life experiences, giving perspective and opening a mentee’s perspective is one of my goals in every partnership.

How did your career experience prepare you to be a mentor?

Krista Berger — Vice President, Barbie Global Marketing and Brand Partnerships, Mattel: I have had the honor of being guided through this industry by amazing women — giants of their discipline — who understood the deep impact they could have by reaching a hand back.

As a result, my career experience is rich with new developmental opportunities, leadership rotations, and new business challenges. Giving my time, talent, and expertise not only honors their investment in me, but also continues to help pave the way forward for the next generation of talented women in toys. As a mentor, I pull from the shared experience I had as a mentee to provide a richer dialogue and meaningful experience.

How would your previous mentees describe you?

Jessica Jackman — Senior Manager, Retail Development, Paramount: “You would make a really great leader!” is a comment made by one of my mentees that encapsulates the type of professional I have been striving to be throughout my career. I have been complimented on my knowledge of our industry and on my ability to motivate my mentees with the guidance they need. As someone they can trust, I find that they openly connect with me to discuss challenges they may be facing, and I guide them to find solutions and navigate their way to focusing on positive outcomes. Goals and vision have always been important to me, and supporting my mentees in concentrating on and developing their goals and vision both professionally and personally has been rewarding. The best part about this dynamic is that they do know my door is always open to connect as their mentor, a role that will never expire.

Can you share a mentee success story from your experience?

Amanda Correia — Director, Global Brand Strategy & Management, Hasbro: Being a WiT mentor has been such a rewarding and inspiring experience. I have been matched as a mentor to a number of motivated, smart, and accomplished women. One particular mentee was a student at the time of our partnership and had already published her own children’s book, A Shark Tooth Fairy Tale (which is adorable, by the way). She did everything end-to-end herself, from writ-

ing the story to hiring the artist to bring the story to life, to finding a publisher, to marketing the book online and in-person with local bookstores and libraries. Her creativity, aspiration, vision, intellect, and bravery are truly inspirational and have stuck with me ever since!

Tell us about a mentor who had an impact on your life.

Tammy Smitham— Vice President, Communications & Corporate Citizenship, Spin Master: During my career, I have been fortunate to have a number of influential mentors. One of my current mentors at Spin Master has been very impactful in my career here. She regularly gives her time, as well as makes herself available ad hoc when I need her input. She is a true sounding board and is always ready to jump in and provide a fresh perspective when tackling a problem. She exudes executive courage and has helped me to strengthen my own influence style. Mentors can diagnose situations from an objective viewpoint and reveal insights that you are often too close to discover yourself. The best mentors are those who can be direct and candid in their feedback and provide ways to counterbalance your weaknesses while playing to your strengths. In every single interaction I have with my mentor, I leave with at least one — and many times, several — key actionable takeaways that in turn I can share with others. 

Amy Thompson is the Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer at Mattel. Thompson is responsible for driving cultural transformation at the company, working with the leadership team to champion Mattel’s mission and values, and promote collaboration, innovation, and execution across the organization in 35 countries. In her role, Thompson oversees all global hunan resources functions, including compensation and benefits; Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion; organizational design; and leadership development.



Toy Fair may be waiting on ice until September, but The Toy Book’s traditional BIG Toy Book issue — filled to the brim with everything we’re looking forward to in 2023 — is as hot as ever! Chill out in front of your fireplace and see how many of these cold facts you can recall.

















ANSWERS: 1. Sleds have runners; toboggans are flat. 2. A. Ice skates 3. “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” from Encanto

264 The Toy Book | February 2023 |
4. Mickey Mouse 5. Rosebud 6. Fisher-Price 7. Thin Ice 8. B. Hasbro Source: Mattel Source: Play-Doh Source: Hallmark


addresses childcare issues in the manufacturing industry.

At the ICTI Ethical Toy Program (IETP), we understand the importance of family-friendly workplaces, spaces, and policies. Since 2016, we have worked to develop a variety of programs that factories can adopt to improve the lives of their workforce, especially those with childcare responsibilities. We are now working with key members of the toy industry to expand our reach to address childcare issues in the manufacturing industry globally.

We have deployed our family-friendly spaces program at numerous manufacturing facilities across China. We initially developed the program to help reunite migrant workers with “left-behind” children — the kids who stay in their rural hometowns, often with their grandparents, during school holidays — while their parents migrate domestically for work. It is estimated that there are 23 million left-behind kids in China, and that is the No. 1 reason that workers give for leaving their jobs.

Since its launch, the program has grown year over year. We conduct baseline and impact assessments at every space and the results are notable: 94% of workers said they planned to stay at the factory for two or more years due to the childcare provision; 100% of factory managers reported reduced worker turnover; and 89% of workers said they no longer worried about their kids since they were at a family-friendly space.

The concept of family-friendly factories builds upon the successes of the family-friendly spaces program, which creates on-site childcare centers within factories for employees during the sum-

mer period. Family-friendly factories also implement policies such as flexible working arrangements, breastfeeding support, flexible leave, and childcare services.

We work with factories to provide them with the tools they need to become family-friendly and support them to ensure the sustainability of these changes. This allows us to scale the program globally. We have now set an ambition to benefit at least 30,000 kids by the end of 2025. We will achieve this by establishing 100 family-friendly spaces and 50 family-friendly factories, with plans to publicly recognize each one.

Scaling our family-friendly program will deliver benefits for companies sourcing from these factories, as a stable, highly skilled workforce directly supports the stability of the toy supply chain.

A gender equality study in Vietnam from 2015 showed that 97% of women and 94% of men believe that looking after kids is a woman’s inherent duty, resulting in women bearing the burden of unpaid childcare. Vietnam is also experiencing rapid urbanization of its population as people move from rural areas to cities for work at a rate of 3% per year. This means that traditional sources of childcare, such as grandparents and relatives, will no longer be an option for many.

Studies from the World Bank Group show that in Mexico, women bear nearly 77% of unpaid housework, spending an average of six hours per day — the highest in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development — compared with men’s average of two hours. The Mexican government also introduced new austerity measures in 2019, ending the Childcare

to Support Working Mothers program, a public childcare support program that covered around 90% of childcare costs. Since launching in 2017, the program has reported an 18% increase in women’s likelihood to be employed. The removal of the program has negatively impacted millions of families and working parents.

Our family-friendly factories program will help to fill these gaps in childcare services for workers and provide measurable business benefits for factory management, including reduced worker turnover rates, higher workplace satisfaction, and increased retention of skilled workers.

The toy industry recognizes the importance of looking after the people behind the products, which is why major players in the industry are joining our ambition to support families that work in the global manufacturing industry. We are excited to reveal these companies in the coming weeks and are looking forward to growing this program together.

Companies of any size can contribute to this mission through financial support or in-kind giving. To join our efforts or learn more about our worker well-being programs, feel free to contact us at and visit us at 

Aoife McCarthy is a Digital Marketing & Membership Executive at the ICTI Ethical Toy Program. She has been with the organization since graduating from University College London (UCL) in 2020. She is responsible for both internal and external communications, stakeholder engagement, and partnerships.


From The Toy Book Archives: 1993



Retailers predict Mattel’s McDonald’s brand activity line will do well this holiday season. The McDonald’s Happy Meal Magic Deluxe Playset includes a Hamburger Snack Maker, a French Fries Snack Maker, and a Drink Fountain. Kids can use the playset and household ingredients to create real edible food (even if it’s not the exact food they’d find in a McDonald’s).


Tyco Toys has found its niche in the construction toy category with its line of Super Blocks. The building blocks have appeal for kids across all ages and genders. Following the success of Super Blocks, Tyco introduces new Neon Super Blocks in both 240- and 500-piece storage bucket containers.


This year, video games area new source of exciting characters that capture kids’ imagination and translate into powerful merchandising programs. Sonic the Hedgehog has gained massive popularity in the video game industry and licensed Sonic products are flooding the market. Sonic’s popularity has been compelling enough that SEGA now plans to propel the character to the level of pop culture icon with an extensive licensing program and an animated TV show.

TSR Inc. announces its new Dungeon line. The Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Collector Card Factory Set includes a 495 complete card set, including rare cards. TSR’s Classic Dungeon is for beginners, young players, and families. The first player who finds $20,000 worth of treasure and escapes wins the game.


The Crayola Learn to Draw Video Workshop from Binney & Smith teaches kids how to draw and is entertaining at the same time. The kit includes Crayola markers, pencils, and crayons; six instructional books that teach fundamentals; and a VHS tape to help guide kids’ art.e


The Tonka Chainsaw Steel Monster is part chainsaw, part truck, and all monster. It features realistic sounds and travels more than 80 feet when revved up. Recommended for kids ages 5 and up, it features sturdy, steel-body construction, graphics, and super-size, off-road tires for extra traction.


Little Tikes remade its popular Big Picnic Table in new natural colors, following the launch of the Evergreen Natural product line. The color change follows consumers’ requests for a more “natural” backyard look. The Evergreen Natural product line features earthy tones with colors like forest green, cranberry, and khaki.

266 The Toy Book | February 2023 |

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