Toy World April 2018

Page 1

April 2018 Volume 7 Issue 7

Š 2018 Hasbro. All Rights Reserved.

The Team...

CONTENTS April 2018 Volume 7 Issue 7

John Baulch

Publisher and Managing Editor 01442 502 408 07932 651 207

32 Special Feature: Plastics

64 Feature: Pocket Money & Collectibles

Mark Austin

Sales Director 01442 502 405

Anita Baulch

Circulation and Financial Director 01923 711 439




05 From the Publisher

26 NPD column

32 Special Feature: Plastics

06 News

29 Talking Shop

36 Feature: Games & Puzzles

18 Marketing World

84 Viewpoint

60 New York Toy Fair Review

22 Licensing World

122 Allegedly

64 Feature: Pocket Money & Collectibles

62 Fresh

88 Feature: Football Merchandise 94 Feature: Pre-school

Contributors David Ripley | The NPD Group | Jim Hawker | Nat Southworth | Mark Buschhaus | Stephen Barnes

Rachael Simpson

Deputy Editor 01442 502 406

94 Feature: Pre-school

88 Feature: Football Merchandise

Casey Goodman

Editorial Assistant 01442 502 406

toyworld The business magazine with a passion for toys

Mark Crowford

Design and Production Manager 01442 502 405

Alakat Published by

61 Maxted Road, Hemel Hempstead, Herts, HP2 7DZ @toyworldmag @baulchtweet


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Toy World Magazine

May Show

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


from the publisher

John Baulch - @Baulchtweet

nd so, the news we were all fearing finally came to pass; Toys R Us UK is being liquidated. With no buyer in sight, the UK operation will be closing the doors of all its 100 stores within the next month. Not a great surprise, but an immensely sad day all the same. First and foremost, let’s not forget the 3,000 staff whose jobs are going to disappear. The administrator made every effort to find a buyer, at least for parts of the business, but let’s be honest, that outcome always looked highly unlikely. Tellingly, there was no pre-pack deal put together before the initial administration announcement was made. Add to that the complex nature of the TRU global business, its tangled financial web and the fact that the Toys R Us name wouldn’t have been part of any deal and you are left with the feeling that there was nothing for an existing retailer to buy that wouldn’t come their way anyway. The notion that TRU was ‘too big to fail’ never really made sense. There were undoubtedly missteps; the timing of the US bankruptcy protection has been called into question, with some suggesting the retailer would have been better to wait until January, which may have improved Christmas trading figures and given them more cash to help reconfigure the business. But as there is a legal obligation on company directors not to trade while insolvent, maybe they had no choice – it is entirely plausible that they knew the operation couldn’t survive until the New Year without protection. The ‘bonus’ scandal was perhaps the worst error of judgement; it lost TRU an immense amount of goodwill and empathy from suppliers. But, ultimately, the demise of Toys R Us was unavoidable, as it was driven not by prevailing trading conditions, but by the way the company had been treated by its venture capitalist owners; saddling it with $5.5m leveraged debt sealed its fate from the very start. As someone put it so eloquently on social media: “The best runner in the race was given an anvil to carry, then criticised for not being in front.” Despite this, media reports conflated the TRU and Maplin administrations and reached the conclusion that retail Armageddon is approaching, exacerbated by the relentless march of Amazon

and the internet. I believe the truth is far more nuanced. Smyths and The Entertainer – not to mention a healthy independent toy retail channel – demonstrate that specialist toy retailing can be successful when you have a viable business model and don’t have a US parent company hiving off all your profits to pay down their debt mountain. I’m hearing credible rumours that several retailers are already in talks to acquire parts of the TRU store estate; The Range is rumoured to be looking at anything up to 30 sites, while Smyths and B&M have also been mentioned as interested parties. Elsewhere, The Entertainer has invested a whopping £700,000 in its new flagship store at Westfield London (which we’ll bring you exclusive details of next month). These and other toy retailers will now benefit from the fact that there is £250-£300m of toy turnover up for grabs, with a further £50m worth of nursery sales. For bigger operators, it provides a fantastic opportunity to boost the top line. For some smaller stores, it may make all the difference in helping them to keep their head above water, especially those indies where a TRU pop-up down the road provided their main competition. So, while we rightly mourn the loss of Toys R Us, let us also bear in mind there are two sides to every story. We’ve been here before, nine years ago when Woolworths - another ‘too big to fail’ retailer - went down. It took a year for the UK toy market to fully recalibrate (read this month’s excellent NPD article for an analysis of the toy market’s postWoolworths recovery), but the growth of Smyths, The Entertainer, B&M and many successful independent toy retailers was unquestionably aided by Woolworths demise. Forward-thinking toy retailers will undoubtedly benefit from this latest turn of events; they will have been making plans for this day, as many suppliers would also have been. This denouement has been coming a mile off, and while the fallout and aftershocks will continue for some while, preparation for life in a post-TRU world is already well underway. Snatching triumph from adversity is something the toy trade is quite good at – we’ve had plenty of practice over the years. I am confident that the toy community will recover from this setback, as it has from many other setbacks over the years. Onwards and upwards…

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16/03/2018 10:13

News Toys R Us to shut all UK and USA stores On 14th March, it was announced that Toys R Us is to close all its UK stores, with the loss of over 3000 jobs. At the time of going to press, 25 Toys R Us stores have already closed. The closure programme for the remaining stores is ongoing and is expected to take approximately six weeks to complete. The nationwide stock discounting programme, introduced after the company first entered administration, has been extended to clear all stock as quickly as possible. The following day, 15th March, it was announced that Toys R Us is to shutter its 735 US stores after failing to find a buyer or reach a deal to restructure billions in debt. The move will put over 30,000 people out of work. Toys R Us said it is seeking approval to liquidate inventory in its US stores, which debtors anticipate will close by the end of this year. Chief executive officer Dave Brandon commented: “This is a profoundly sad day for us as well as the millions of kids and families who we have served for the past 70 years.” Dave also announced that the company was likely to liquidate in France, Spain, Poland, and Australia. However, the retailer plans to sell its operations in parts of Europe and Asia, while it is also in discussion with interested parties for a deal to combine up to 200 of its top performing US stores with its Canadian operations. Isaac Larian, CEO of MGA Entertainment, is said to have made a bid for the Toys R Us Canada operations, with further plans to perform due diligence on Toys R Us’ US business. “If there is no Toys R Us, I don’t think there is a toy business,” he commented in an interview. “At the right price, it makes economic sense.” The Canadian division, which has around 80 stores, filed for bankruptcy along with the US unit, but it was said to be in better financial health. “Canada is a good business,” Isaac added. “They run it efficiently, and have good leadership.” For its operations in Asia and Central Europe, including Germany, Austria and Switzerland, the retailer is planning a reorganisation and a sale process. It has asked for non-binding bids for its growing Asian unit by early April, according to a report on Bloomberg. Toys R Us is seeking to solicit a wider range of bids as it continues concurrent deal talks with its local partner, Li & Fung. The retailer is said to have sent preliminary information to potential buyers including Chinese private equity firms. According to sources, the company’s creditors have sought to open up the sale process in the hope of

introducing more competitive tension and fetching a higher price. The retailer’s Asia Pacific business has continued to increase revenue. The company last year combined its Japanese unit with the broader Asia joint venture, which now operates more than 400 outlets throughout the region. A deal could value the Asian arm at around $1b. A recent court hearing revealed details of the retailer’s rapid demise. Toys R Us asked the court for approval to stop paying its suppliers while it attempts to find buyers for its international business. At the hearing, Toys R Us lawyer Joshua Sussberg said the company was working to avoid any contagion from the US liquidation on the foreign businesses it is trying to sell. Part of that effort meant separating the US business from foreign operations to ensure that shipments can reach stores in Canada, Europe and Asia, where the company will be reviewing bid proposals in coming weeks. However, lawyers for vendors said they did not know whether they would ever be paid for those goods. Kenneth Eckstein, a lawyer on behalf of the official committee of unsecured creditors, observed that hundreds of vendors, thousands of employees and millions of customers will suffer: “This is the largest and most rapid deterioration of a retailer and maybe that any Chapter 11 has ever entertained,” he commented. During the hearing, Toys R Us stated that 2017 holiday sales came in well below worst-case estimates, approximately $250m below budget projections. Toys R Us attributed the poor sales performance to a combination of factors including delays and disruption in reopening its supply chain; competition from other retailers; a greater-than-expected decline in sales following the bankruptcy filing and the inability to compete online with attractive pricing or shipping terms.


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News Lego reports fall in sales

Green Elephant reassures consumers over putty fears Leading manufacturer Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty has addressed consumer concerns following a viral Facebook post. A statement released on the Crazy Aaron’s website reads: “Please be assured that the trending article from the BBC targets a specific knockoff magnetic putty, and is in no way indicative or representative of the safety of genuine Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty. Crazy Aaron’s is an innovator and world leader in the next generation of creative play. As part of our commitment to our customers, we have closely followed reports about a competitor, copycat putty being pulled from the market due to likely contamination.” The statement was released following a recent Facebook post, which has reignited safety fears after a child was found to have arsenic poisoning after playing with unbranded putty purchased from Amazon. Neve Kelly was found to have 10 times the safe level of the substance in her urine after playing with cheap, unbranded magnetic putty, according to her mother Frances. Frances claimed that the toy was bought as a Christmas present for her two daughters before she was warned about its possible toxic contents. Toxicology testing revealed high levels of arsenic in the girl’s urine. Green Elephant Trading, UK distributor of Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty, has seen a dramatic increase in the number of people seeking reassurance about putty safety. Nici Wilcox, managing director at Green Elephant trading, commented: “We are receiving many enquiries from concerned consumers following the continuing news articles and a post on social media regarding a specific knock-off magnetic putty. We would like to make clear that genuine Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty is non-toxic and is compliant with all applicable worldwide toy safety laws including EN71 parts 1, 2 and 3. All the relevant certification has also been checked and approved by Trading Standards here in the UK.” A number of retailers have also put out their own announcements, encouraging consumers to buy quality, branded putty from reputable stores.

Lego has reported its first annual drop in sales and profits for 13 years, blaming the company’s weak performance on “cleaning up” unpopular product lines, as well as a drop in sales in Europe and North America. Lego Group chief executive Niels Christiansen said there was “no quick-fix” and it would take the firm “some time” to grow long-term. The weak performance comes after Lego cut 1,400 jobs worldwide in September, saying its business needed a “reset”. Revenue for 2017 dropped by 8% to 35b Danish kroner (£4.2b; $5.8b), compared to 37.9b kroner in 2016. Pre-tax profits slid 18% to 10.4bn kroner in 2017. “2017 was a challenging year and overall we are not satisfied with the financial results,” Mr Christiansen said. However, he said the firm’s performance had improved towards the end of the year, with sales growing in seven of its 12 largest markets in December. The company has been increasing sales in new markets, particularly in Asia. Lego said that it saw “strong potential” in its business in China, where sales enjoyed double digit-growth last year. “We started 2018 in better shape and during the coming year we will stabilise the business by continuing to invest in great products, effective global marketing and improved execution,” said Mr Christiansen. In September, Lego said its half-year results had suffered because it had stretched itself too thin by diversifying into products that were not toys, such as the Lego movies. Lego chairman Jorgen Knudstorp said at the time that adding complexity to the company had made it harder for the toymaker to grow further. He said that the firm had pressed “the reset-button” for the group with the aim of building “a smaller and less complex organisation.”

The Entertainer rolls out nationwide Quiet Hour Following a successful pilot during February’s half term, The Entertainer is introducing a weekly Quiet Hour every Saturday in all its UK stores to create a more welcoming environment for children with autism. Shopping trips can be a daunting experience for autistic children who can find busy crowds and loud noises overwhelming, which is why The Entertainer will be switching off the music in store for the first hour of opening. Gary Grant, founder and managing director of The Entertainer, commented: “It was great to hear the positive feedback from customers who had visited an Entertainer store during the daily Quiet Hour, which was held during half term and as a result we are delighted to announce the introduction of a weekly Quiet Hour, which will take place each Saturday morning. We continually look for ways to improve customer experience as it’s hugely important to us that all children feel comfortable in our stores and are able to explore the toys we have available.” Daniel Cadey, autism access development manager for The National Autistic Society, added: “We’re delighted that The Entertainer is taking this positive step to make shopping a better experience for autistic children. Small changes such as removing in-store music can make a huge difference to autistic people, who can struggle to filter out background noise which can cause them enormous distress. We hope to see other stores follow The Entertainer’s lead and make whatever changes they can to support the needs of all their customers.” The Entertainer’s Quiet Hour is being held every Saturday morning across all 145 stores.

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BANANAS! Games grown and picked by Bananagrams Inc.


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News KPMG appointed to handle Mothercare refinancing The retail chain is in talks with lenders about raising money for a turnaround and has drafted in KPMG to advise on securing waivers to its financial covenants. A spokesperson for Mothercare said the decision reflected the challenging trading environment on the high street, and seasonal changes to the firm’s cash levels. “We are working with our financing partners with respect to our financing needs for FY19 and beyond,” the spokesperson said. “We are also exploring additional sources of financing to support and maintain our transformation programme. All of these discussions are ongoing and we will update the market on developments as required.” Mothercare has since announced that its lenders have agreed to defer a testing of its financial covenants due on March 24th and that discussions with them on the terms of its existing financial facilities were “progressing constructively”. The company said it expected the discussions to conclude before 17th May, when the company is set to announce its preliminary results. Mothercare chief executive Mark Newton-Jones, commented: “The retail sector continues to face a number of pressures that are clearly having a profound impact on the sector as a whole. Against this backdrop we are performing in line with our expectations and remain a cash generative business, but we also need to push ahead with our transformation strategy to meet our customers’ needs and continue adapting to evolving shopping habits around the world.”

Boxing champion Nicola Adams OBE becomes first Barbie UK Shero With 84% of UK mums worried about the type of role models their daughters are exposed to, Barbie is igniting a conversation around the importance of positive role models by shining a light on inspiring women. Barbie is proud to honour Nicola Adams as the first ever UK Shero. As an inspiration for countless girls who don’t see themselves represented in sports and culture, Barbie hopes to encourage them to pursue their dreams with The Nicola Adams doll, the first ever boxer Barbie. The doll is Nicola in miniature, complete with boxing gloves, boxing gear emblazoned with her trademark Lioness nickname and her distinctive hairstyle. Nicola commented: “I am so excited and honoured to be Barbie’s first ever UK Shero and the first ever boxer Barbie. Having my own Nicola Adams Barbie doll is so amazing, and my hope is that everything I do helps more people realise they can do anything they put their mind to.” Nicola joins a line-up of 14 modern-day role models honoured by Barbie from around the world. Global honourees include: Patty Jenkins (filmmaker, USA), Chloe Kim (snowboarder, USA), Bindi Irwin (conservationist, Australia), Çağla Kubat (windsurfer, Turkey), Hélène Darroze (worldrenowned chef, France), Hui Ruoqi (volleyball champion, China), Leyla Piedayesh (designer and entrepreneur, Germany), Lorena Ochoa (professional golfer, Mexico), Martyna Wojciechowska (journalist, Poland), Sara Gama (footballer, Italy), Xiaotong Guan (actress and philanthropist, China), Yuan Yuan Tan (prima ballerina, China), Vicky Martin Berrocal (entrepreneur and fashion designer, Spain). Barbie also introduces the Inspiring Women doll line series – these historical dolls come with educational information about the contributions each woman made to society and their respective fields. The first three dolls in this series are: Frida Kahlo, Amelia Earhart, and Katherine Johnson.

Latest results show growth for Spin Master Spin Master has announced its financial results for the fourth quarter and year ended 31st December 2017. Q4 2017 revenue increases 30%, driving 107% growth in adjusted EBITDA. The company’s revenue increased 30.3% to $440.9m, up from $338.4m. Gross product sales increased 28.6% to $483.9m, up from $376.2m. Globally, gross product sales increased just under 17% in North America, 34% in Europe and 94% in the rest of world. Gross product sales in the Activities, Games & Puzzles and Fun Furniture segment increased 20% in Q4, driven by sales of the Cool Maker branded products, Dr. Dreadful, the games portfolio and Etch A Sketch. The RC and Interactive Characters segment increased 114.7% in Q4, thanks to the success of Hatchimals, Hatchimals Colleggtibles and Luvabella. This offset a decline in Air Hogs and Zoomer. The Boys Action and High-Tech Construction segment increased 5.6% in Q4, while the Pre-School and Girls segment decreased 18.2% in Q4, with decreases in Brightlings, Chubby Puppies, Power Puff Girls licensed products and Paw Patrol. Growth has also been reported for the company’s Outdoor segment, which increased 2.7% in Q4, driven by products under the Swimways, Kelysius and Coop brands. Ben Gadbois, Spin Master’s president & COO, commented: “We are very pleased with our execution in 2017 against Spin Master’s four growth strategies. Anchored by our global, collaborative innovation capabilities and the discipline of our 36 month brand innovation pipeline, we delivered breakthrough, category-defining products with global appeal such as Hatchimals Surprise, Soggy Doggy and Luvabella. Ben continued: “We are seeing the results of our efforts to increase sales in existing and new markets. International sales continued to grow and our new direct markets in Australia, China and Central and Eastern Europe exceeded our expectations.”

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News Playtime PR and Southard Freeman Communications form alliance Playtime PR is forming an alliance with Southard Freeman Communications, an award-winning communications agency with offices in New York and New Jersey. The deal provides Playtime’s clients with access to Southard Freeman’s expert PR services in the USA. Similarly, clients of Southard Freeman will be able to tap into Playtime’s services in the UK and Europe. The two agencies already share a number client brands in the toy space, including Thames & Kosmos and Sensible Object. By working together, the agencies are confident they can better serve them and future clients with needs in both Europe and the US and by providing deeper local market insight. Lesley Singleton, founder and managing director of Playtime PR, commented: “This is a really exciting next step for Playtime. Our intention is to build a network of agency alliances in various territories to strengthen our offering. We’ve certainly found the perfect US partner in Southard Freeman – the team has an enviable heritage in toy PR and beyond, spanning decades and including legacy campaigns such as the launch of Tickle Me Elmo and Leapfrog’s Leap Pad, as well as the 50th anniversary of Etch a Sketch and 30+ years of working with Mattel.” She continued: “As our clients increasingly require support in the USA, we’re pleased to have found an agency whose approach is creative, effective and harmonises with our own. Bill and Bruce’s team shares our passion, drive and love for the toy space as well as our sense of humour, whilst valuing creativity and campaign diversity too. It’s very much our intention to run regular transatlantic team sessions to breathe deeper life into ideas on both sides of the pond, giving clients stronger insight and culturally tailored campaign ideas.” Bill Southard, co-founder and CEO of Southard Freeman, added: "We have long admired the work that Lesley and her team have executed on behalf of their impressive portfolio of clients and are thrilled to formalise our partnership. Our clients are increasingly looking for support across the globe and we could not have partnered with a more professional, experienced and dedicated company than Playtime. Bruce and I look forward to much success and a long-term partnership that will not only benefit our two respective firms, but our clients as well.”

Zuru’s Smashers surpass launch expectations Since launching on Boxing Day, sales of Zuru’s Smashers are off to a strong start, resulting in re-orders for Series 1 and commitment to Series 2 from July across most major accounts - many of which are close to being sold out in just the first two months. The UK was the pilot market for Smashers, with larger international markets going on shelf now for Easter. Zuru has shipped more than 1.5m Smashballs so far. The launch strategy focused not only on getting the product into the hands of the target consumer, but also on reaching children online through activations across YouTube and with influencers. A dedicated Smashers YouTube channel was created, delivering new content each week with unboxing videos and a web series. To date, the channel has had over 760,000 views in just the UK, with the figure rising daily. One of the most successful pieces of online content has been a rebuild video, focusing on putting the Smashball back together to facilitate repeated smashing. In addition, Zuru worked with over 100 influencers globally for product reviews and unboxings, resulting in a reach in excess of 12.5m globally. Extensive sampling across the UK in Smashers’ Smash Zones saw over 20,000 Smashballs shipped for in-store activations. Adam Wood, creative director at Zuru, commented: “The unboxing trend has been so massive, and harks back to that element of surprise we get when opening a present at Christmas or on our birthday. If you can bring that to life in a clever way – as we have done with Smashers – you’re adding to the magic of that experience.”

Obituary - Robert Sutherland, Redan Publishing Robert Sutherland, chairman of Redan Publishing, passed away peacefully on Monday 19th February, from complications brought on by a lifelong illness. A statement from the company reads: “Robert was a hugely popular member of the children’s magazine and licensing community and will be greatly missed by his wife, Betty, and all those who had the privilege of working alongside him during his many years at the helm of Redan Publishing.”

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News Obituary - Gillian Petzan Gill, owner of Shellbrook Toys in Ashby de-la Zouch, has passed away at the age of 71. Gill’s friend, toy agent John Nicholas, commented: “Gillian had worked in Shellbrook Toys all of her working life, along with her mother Mrs Petzan (nobody called her by her Christian name, Kathleen). They were a formidable team for any salesman to sell to. They did not buy cheap toys, regardless of how much TV promotion the range had, and the personal, helpful service they offered their customers kept the shop going when others around them failed.” “After caring for her mother through her later years, as well as running the shop, Gill continued to buy the quality and reliable toys she was happy to sell. Pam Redfern, who started to work in the shop when she was 15, became a lifelong friend of Gill for over fifty years, and we send our sympathy to her and Gill’s other friends. Shellbrook is a local legend in and around Ashby, having served the community since just after World War Two, so this is definitely the end of an era for the town,” John added.

Pennells Garden Centre becomes Toymaster member The Lincoln garden centre, which also stocks a range of toys, joined the buying group on Monday 26th February. Pennells is one of the oldest garden companies in the country and is probably the oldest still in the same family ownership. The business was founded by a Richard Pennell in 1780, and today the company is run by the seventh and eighth generations Richard Pennell and his son William Pennell. The address is as follows: Pennells Garden Centre Newark Road South Hykenham Lincoln LN6 9NT. For more information, please contact Rachel Kirk by telephone on 01522 880 033, or email gifts@pennells.

Pikmi Pops Season 2 announced Pikmi Pops has entered the NPD list of new properties at No. 4, also making its way into the list of Top 15 Products in Value having only launched on Boxing Day. With Season 2 launching for Easter, GP Flair is also introducing the special confetti Pikmi Pops PushMi Ups. In conjunction with Season 2, GP Flair will be enhancing its marketing activity with a 12-venue experiential tour for the brand. Taking the key USPs and brand values, GP Flair has created the ideal in-store activity to take on tour. Live time unboxing for budding online stars together with a fully branded ‘Pikmi up a Prize’ game will be part of the schedule for each event. The tour began in mid-March, in time for the launch of the next wave of plush collectibles. The events will be publicised through social media and other channels, adding further to the brand’s activity since its launch. This has included lollipop stylised FSDUs, TV, digital takeovers and a dedicated PopJam channel that has attracted almost 20,000 followers in just four weeks. Pikmi Pops has also become popular with the girls press, with mini magazines, activity pages and branded covermounts already in the publishers’ schedules.

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indie viewpoint

House of Fraser’s Chinese owner to sell majority stake The Chinese owner of House of Fraser plans to sell its majority stake in the troubled British department-store chain, adding to the upheaval on the UK’s shopping streets. Nanjing Xinjiekou Department Store will sell its 51% holding to a tourism development company named Wuji Wenhua, according to a Chinese stock exchange filing. The planned sale follows the collapse of Toys R Us UK and electronics retailer Maplin in February. The UK’s department stores have struggled amid the rise of online shopping and a surge in sourcing costs driven by the pound’s 7% fall against the dollar and 14% decline against the euro since the Brexit vote. Sports Direct International CEO Mike Ashley has increased his holding in Debenhams, spurring speculation he may acquire the House of Fraser rival. Mike also owns a minority stake in House of Fraser. House of Fraser reported a 2.9% drop in sales over the holiday shopping season and has entered negotiations with landlords to reduce rents on some of its 59 UK stores. In the year ended January 2017 the company reported net income of £26.8m ($37.1m). The sale of the stake “will have no impact on the day-to-day operations or strategic development of the House of Fraser business in the UK and Ireland,” the store chain said in a statement. “It is business as usual.”

Mark Buschhaus and Stephen Barnes Toy Barnhaus

Your squish is our command

Take part in the Fence Club Charity Golf Day The 45th Teddy Simmonds Fence Club Charity Golf Day takes place in Harrogate on Thursday 21st June. All golfers are invited to take part in the event – those wanting to take part do not need to be invited by a member of the Fence Club, and ladies are welcome too. Entry is £95 per person, and teams of four are welcome. Taking place at Oakdale Golf Club in Harrogate, there will be a shotgun 12pm start preceded by breakfast butties, tea and coffee, and a morning briefing at the clubhouse. Prizes will be on offer for the following: Winning Team, Individual Stableford, Best Gross, Best Nett, Best Fence Member, and Worst Fence Member. There will also be an evening dinner reception for all golfers, with fundraising and the prize-giving to look forward to. For more information, or to sign up, please contact Amanda Collinson on or telephone on 01423 528504.

Well what can we say - after five years sitting on a stockpile of sledges, we are proud to announce that we sold them all over a four-day period, despite only having a couple of inches of snow. Even better, our rain dance going into the weekend actually worked and melted all the snow in quick time. We were certainly lucky in that we did not have it as bad as other areas of the country; we only dropped by a small amount that week and still cleared our winter stock. Overall, February’s trade was ok, with a strong half term week offset by a couple of slower weeks. The business was mainly driven by the continuing success of L.O.L Surprise! and the squishies craze really taking off. Half term was when demand for squishies really kicked in, with Soft’n’Slo from Character being our best seller. By the time you read this, hopefully we will have had a good re-stock in time for Easter. Looking ahead to Easter, Peter Rabbit will have hopped into cinemas, which should generate some Easter sales. We have several events going on in the malls, to help drive people in. Easter is early this year, which tends to shorten the overall period, with sales all being crammed into the last three days. With the kids being off after Easter weekend, the weather will play an important role in how we trade, as we are located in shopping malls. We will be doing our rain dance once more to drive them in. The problems of various high street retailers have been well documented, with the closures at Toys R Us having the most impact for the toy trade. Having been through it ourselves several years ago with Woolworths (where we both worked), we do feel deep sympathy for the colleagues, and it is amazing how quickly a large company can go under. It is clearly not an easy time out there for retailers, so we have made sure we have examined all the costs in our business and justified them, before spending money. However, being an independent retailer, our ability to react quickly to the latest trends helps to set us apart from the competition, and we make sure we are always looking for new things. Pocket Money and Collectible toys have been massive growth areas for us over the last few years. The low price points mean that they are the bread and butter of an independent toy shop. Slime and putty are still carrying on their success, while one of our bestsellers all year round continues to be whoopee cushions; we never seem to stop selling them. Within Collectibles, Pokémon has been our biggest growth area over the last couple of years. Although it has slowed from the height of Pokémon Go, the latest launch has still picked up a bit and still provides good repeat business from kids and adult collectors alike. Pre-school is one of the largest areas in our stores and has been a big growth category over the last few years. Currently, sales have plateaued a bit, with the licensed side struggling. Last year, we had PJ Masks that was new, along with Paw Patrol still going strong, but this year there has been nothing new that has really taken off yet. Our core pre-school ranges, such as VTech, Fisher Price and Leapfrog are still performing well, and form steady, evergreen sections of our stores. Looking ahead over the next month or so, we start to chase the figures from the Fidget Spinner craze last year. Our first delivery was on 18th April, and the following eight weeks were amazing, with customers absolutely mad on them. We are gazing at our crystal ball trying to foresee what will replace them. If anyone has any idea, let us know…

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Object detection

‘One gadget expected to be a hit’ London Evening Standard ‘An impressive little unit’

Marketing World Green Board Games supports AKO Autistic Charity GBG has supported the Anna Kennedy Online (AKO) Charity with sponsorship of the AKO Autism Awareness Expo, which took part in March at Uxbridge University. The event was designed to provide a forum whereby those needing more information can consult with experts, find out more about autism, its related conditions, and even seek educational and legal advice. Having further extended its support for AKO this year, GBG is also sponsoring the National, and promising to be International, Autism’s Got Talent on 12th May, in addition to the Autism Hero Awards on 13th October. GBG games, including BrainBox Jigsaws, the Story Cards range and Shaperise, Qwirkle, Q-Bitz, Corner’d as well as the Sensory Genius fidget toys from Mindware, a brand distributed by GBG in the UK, are all well suited to children who have an autistic spectrum disorder. For children with autism it is usually a matter of finding games that will occupy their attention, facilitating the development of their social and cognitive skills. In her book, The Autistic Spectrum: A Guide for Parents and Professionals, Lorna Wig commented: “Children with autistic spectrum disorders tend to prefer toys that involve visuo-spatial skills such as shape and colour matching, jigsaw puzzles or constructional materials.” Anna Kennedy, founder of the AKO autism charity, commented: “Thank you to Green Board Games for supporting UK Autism Charity AnnaKennedyonline. With the help of your sponsorship we are forging ahead to raise further awareness and create more opportunities for individuals on the autism spectrum.” Readers who would like to make a donation to the AKO charity, or are interested in attending any of the events mentioned above should visit the website at

Interplay launches new website Featuring optimised technology and search features, the new Interplay website aims to engage consumers, customers and trade with the latest videos, product imagery and information from the enchanting Interplay brands. Offering an enhanced, fast loading experience for use on popular mobile and computer platforms, the new layout is designed with simplicity, ease of use, and accessibility in mind. Maximising connectivity across social media platform, Interplay brands are also linked to Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Pinterest pages, so visitors can access all information with a click. Trade customers will also benefit from an online trade catalogue and contact form, as well as trade contact details. Meric Pekcan-Butcher comments: “We are pleased to announce that our new website is live and ready to be viewed. The new design reflects our beautiful and enchanting product range and we hope you’ll find the new site easier on the eye, faster to load and most importantly easier to use.”

Fisher-Price extends sponsorship of Happy Mum Happy Baby Following Fisher-Price’s successful partnership with Giovanna Fletcher in 2017, which saw the first series become the UK’s No.1 Kids and Family podcast with over 700,000 downloads, Fisher-Price is extending the partnership into 2018. The new 11-part series will see Giovanna interviewing celebrities, TV presenters and influencers about their personal parenting experiences, offering listeners honest and genuine advice. The series will also include an exclusive Fisher-Price episode, creating a unique opportunity for the brand to talk to parents about the importance of child development and early learning. This is through its brand message of Let Kids Be Kids, encouraging children to explore, discover and develop at their own pace and in their own way. The podcast is available to download via iTunes and acast, and will be promoted extensively through Giovanna’s and Fisher-Price social channels. Wendy Hill, director of brand activation at Mattel UK, commented: “We are delighted to be sponsoring Giovanna’s second podcast series. We know that mums are really engaging with digital platforms more than ever before, so the podcast is a powerful way to engage with our audience, and working with Giovanna means we can have that honest conversation with parents.”

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Marketing World Spin Master announces 360° partnership with Skateability Spin Master is partnering with Team Rubicon’s Skateability, a new skateboard training scheme available nationwide. With the sport recognised for the first time in the Olympic Games for 2020, Skateability is providing coaching to thousands of kids each year through schools, councils and other organisations. Skateability has been designed as an introduction to skateboarding and to improve the safety of young people as they learn, featuring three key levels which aim to support the rider and give them confidence as they progress. A fitting sponsor for the new programme, Tech Deck is the only authentic, miniature replica line of action sports toys and collectibles, featuring real graphics from the world’s biggest and most coveted skateboarding brands. Tech Deck allows kids to build and customise their favourite boards, and then let their fingers do the skating as they flip and spin around the mini ramps and rails. The 360° Tech Deck partnership includes activity at over 150 primary and secondary schools nationwide, media outreach, promotional activity at over 20 local events, a presence at 20 national events including festivals, pro competitions and premieres, camp promotion at more than 16 residential camps and 100 plus parks, and finally headline sponsorship of the King of the Camp event. Phil Hooper, commercial director, marketing for Spin Master UK commented: “Ensuring we reach new and current fans at a grassroots level is essential for a brand like Tech Deck, where cool by association and word of mouth drive that all-important buzz in these communities. We are very excited to launch our partnership with Skateability, as we celebrate Tech Deck’s 20th Anniversary and continue to be a champion of the action sports community.” Spin Master will also be supporting the original finger boards with a digital spring campaign, and a host of new products are now well into development for summer launch.

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Licensing World Coolabi outlines new plans for Clangers Preparations for the Clangers 50th celebrations for 2019 are well underway at the Coolabi Group. Announcements will be made from this spring onwards, including new toy strategies for 2019 product lines. One of the first reveals is the launch of the new Clangers nursery creative direction, developed in reaction to market feedback and extensive research with the programme’s fan base. Consistent top CBeebies’ ratings with the 0-3 and the 4-6 age ranges (BARB data) shows that the series is resonating with pre-school audiences and families. To find out more about its 0-3 audience, Coolabi surveyed 300 mums, with 80% saying that they watched the series on live TV (rising to 87% for 1-2 year olds), reinforcing the programme’s position as part of a calming bedtime routine. Coupled with this, Coolabi received feedback from selected retailers and licensees stating that they’d like to see the brand explore a softer, nursery look. In collaboration with Dot Dash Design, Coolabi looked at Mother, Granny and the children, and has created a fresh look with input from partners from the outset. The resulting products combine commercially viable character poses with all-important pre-school appeal. Coolabi will soon roll out the new look for the Clangers line, and will also be sharing the results of its research over the coming months. Nursery is just one strand of the multi-faceted property, and the upcoming 50th anniversary celebrations promise much more to come.

GP Flair launches Dreamworks’ Voltron Launched on Netflix in June 2016, and Free to Air on Pop in September 2017, the new DreamWorks Animation series Voltron follows the adventures of five unsuspecting teenagers from Earth who are thrust into an intergalactic war when the universe is threatened. They become the pilots of five lion robots that, when together, form the ultimate warrior, Voltron – Defender of the Universe. GP Flair launched the Voltron master toy line in March, as well as kickstarting a marketing drive which includes a TV campaign, digital pre-roll and a four-week cinema advertising drive during key film releases. Additional activity with kids’ press will attract new fans whilst targeted social media campaigns are aimed at first generation Voltron fans. This will support the high impact instore activity including FSDUs, posters, window features and more. Anne-Marie Noon, GP Flair’s marketing manager, commented: “We are excited to bring the amazing Voltron toy line into stores. Voltron is a legend to those that enjoyed the TV series and toys of the 1990s, and we believe that with Universal’s exciting new TV series, the time is right to bring him to a new generation.” The Voltron master toy line includes standalone Action Figures and Legendary Lion Figures that combine to form Voltron -Defender of the Universe. For the definitive Voltron experience, the Ultimate Voltron Mega Deluxe Figure stands 14” high with sound effects, phrases and an epic projectile feature. Voltron role-play items allow children to become Defenders of the Universe and transform themselves into Voltron with the Defender Gear Role Play Sets and the Electronic Transforming Swords, which features sound effects and a saber to cutlass transforming feature.

Hasbro named master global toy partner for UglyDolls The agreement brings Hasbro’s expertise in creating engaging play experiences and entertainment to the franchise. Created in 2001 as a plush toy line by David Horvath and Sun-Min Kim, the UglyDoll brand quickly gained a cult following around the world and in 2006, was named Toy of the Year by the Toy Industry Association. Popular with children, teenagers and adults alike, UglyDoll characters are distinct for their endearing ‘ugliness’, in a wonderful Uglyverse where differences are embraced and cherished. Adam Fogelson, chairman of STXfilms, as division of STX Entertainment, commented: “UglyDolls is a universally appealing brand with the potential to reach a massive audience on every screen and experience, and a meaningful way into animation. It is incredibly exciting to take this next big step with a company of Hasbro’s global reach, experience and influence to bring the ‘Uglyverse’ to longtime fans and new audiences.” Samantha Lomow, SVP Hasbro, added: “UglyDolls is a brand with deep history and tremendous equity, and we are thrilled to work with STX to bring the Uglydolls story to life in all new ways via rich storytelling and immersive play experiences.” The UglyDolls franchise is set to kick off with an animated feature film slated for a 2019 release via STXfilms with additional UglyDolls projects in the works across the company’s multiple divisions, including STXtelevision, STXdigital and STXsurreal.

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Licensing World Oddbods signs year-long partnership with National Express

Make It Real launches new Sunny Day line Make It Real is launching a new range of creativity kits this autumn based on the popular animated Nickelodeon pre-school series, Sunny Day. The new collection, which lets children create their own hair, make-up and nail designs, as well as accessories to express their personal style, is inspired by series star Sunny. Make It Real CEO, Isaac Wolman, commented: “Sunny Day encourages girls to ‘write their own story and sing their own tune’, which is exactly the message we want to convey with our creativity kits. Our new Sunny Day collection delivers an exciting array of creative opportunities for girls to express their individual style with confidence.” The upcoming product assortment will include hair styling, nail decorating, bracelet-making and cosmetic kits, to help girls customise their own special look with colour and flair.

One Animation has partnered with National Express to bring the antics of Oddbods to passengers across the UK. National Express passengers will have access to over 200 minutes of Oddbods content via the award-winning on-board entertainment system, Vuer. Travellers will also have access to multiple Oddbods activity pages and competitions via The View magazine throughout the year, and from July will have the opportunity to travel in a National Express coach sporting one of the colourful, quirky and lovable characters from the show. Anabel Higgin, marketing director of One Animation, commented: “Oddbods is a unique property that appeals to kids and parents alike through its ribtickling slapstick comedy and loveable, highly relatable characters. We’re very excited to be teaming up with National Express to deliver an enhanced, funfilled Oddbods travel experience to their passengers, both young and old.” Charlie Bailey, national partnerships manager at National Express Coaches, added: “We are delighted to announce the addition of Oddbods to the Vuer content stable to ensure that journeys on our coaches even more enjoyable than ever before.” The one-year deal begins in February 2018 and will see Oddbods featured in various promotional content formats from National Express including print, social media and Vuer app integration.

New Doctor Who logo unveiled Thirteenth Doctor Jodie Whittaker has teased the new series of Doctor Who by unveiling a new logo and insignia for the brand to over 700 of the world’s top TV buyers and international press at BBC Worldwide’s annual showcase event in Liverpool. In an evening devoted to the new incarnation of Doctor Who, Jodie built excitement in anticipation of the new era of The Doctor. The Doctor Who logo is an iconic and powerful trademark for the franchise that is recognised all around the world. The updated logo and insignia mark a new era of Who. BBC Worldwide commissioned creative agency Little Hawk to create the brand new designs, working closely with showrunner Chris Chibnall and executive producer Matt Strevens. BBC Worldwide executive creative director, Rafaela Perera, commented: “The Doctor Who logo and insignia are the quintessential signifier for the brand. Our aim was to create modern and elegant designs that were anchored in the things that we love most about Doctor Who.” The sound for the animated logo is created by Matthew Herbert. It will launch with a 10 second animation which features the Tardis blazing a trail through the logo. All official Doctor Who merchandise featuring the new logo is now available at selected retailers. Doctor Who is a BBC Studios production for BBC One and a BBC America co-production. BBC Worldwide are the international distributors for Doctor Who.

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Posh Paws signs deal For Gummibär and Friends Posh Paws is to become the new plush partner for the UK and Europe for Gummibär and Friends: The Gummy Bear Show. Gummibär, an animated singing and dancing gummy bear character, is one of the most watched characters on the internet with over 10b video views on the YouTube platform and his own animated web series – Gummibär and Friends: The Gummy Bear Show, which features the adventures of Gummibär and his friends Kala and Harry. Nearly 400m of those 10b views were in the UK alone. The Posh Paws product line will be available in autumn and will include character plush toys with sound that play the hit song I Am A Gummy Bear (The Gummy Bear Song), which earned platinum and gold sales certification awards in more than 10 countries. It will be available in a variety of sizes for the gift sector and be presented in Posh Paws’ signature chair box packaging. Laura Bull, marketing manager of Posh Paws International, commented: “This will be a fun line that will appeal to the millions of daily watchers of Gummibär and Friends: The Gummy Bear Show. The show and its characters are popular with children as well as adults and Gummy being jolly, jiggly and loving to sing lends itself perfectly to a premium gift plush collection.” Charlie Day, the president of The Sharpe Company, added: “Selecting the right plush partner was essential for this brand, and in Posh Paws we know that premium quality product that is true to the property’s characteristics will always be top of mind during the development of the product line. We are very much looking forward to seeing the first products on shelf.”

DreamWorks' Dragons

Brand Profile

Playing with fire Charting the adventures of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, his loyal Night Fury, Toothless and the brave Dragon Riders of Berk, the critically acclaimed DreamWorks’ Dragons franchise has gained a loyal following which now looks forward to the release of the third movie in February 2019. Toy World finds out more about the opportunities Dragons offers licensees, and what makes the property so popular.


ased on the series of children’s books by Cressida Cowell, the award-winning Dragons franchise will be a major focus for Universal Brand Development in 2018. Currently boasting $1b in global box office sales, the first film racked up £17.3m at the UK box office, while the sequel, How To Train Your Dragon 2, took £25.5m. Featuring an extensive number of dragon species – ideal for collectibles and reference books - and with a strong focus on teamwork and friendship, the franchise embraces the most popular elements of dragon and Viking mythology and combines them rich and imaginative world full of fascinating characters, creatures and locations that captivate kids and adults alike. Spin Master is the master global toy partner, with a product line that includes a range of detailed collectibles, plush, battle packs and pretend-play weapons, while its Dragons 3 range will launch in December. “We have enjoyed a fantastic partnership with DreamWorks on Dragons since the beginning and have seen the brand grow into a hugely successful franchise through the movies and TV series,” says Anna Hewitt, licensing director (Europe) at Spin Master. “This latest movie has given us some amazing new characters, storyline, images and assets that have created an exciting new toy range to appeal to existing and new fans, which we are looking forward to bringing to market later in the year”. Playmobil will also be releasing a new range to coincide with the launch of the new movie in February 2019. Debuting at retail in August 2017, the

company’s initial offering was well received, with new toy lines launched for Q1 this year. “Playmobil has had generic dragons in the range for many years, as they are a strong theme for imaginative play,” comments Jamie Dickinson, marketing manager at Playmobil. “The DreamWorks’ Dragons licence was particularly attractive to the company; the first two films have been very successful, the third film is highly anticipated, and the animated series is proving popular on paid services and now free to air. Adding a licence like Dragons to the Playmobil theme has provided us with a good formula for success.” “The depth and quality of the content is what sets DreamWorks Dragons apart from other licensed boys franchises,” enthuses Hannah Mungo, director of consumer products - UK and Ireland at NBCUniversal. “The rich and imaginative worlds are filled with fascinating characters, creatures and locations and building forensic knowledge of ‘all things Dragons’ has become currency amongst fans. This is great news for toy manufacturers as it allows them to develop a range of consumer products that reach far beyond the central characters, and retailers benefit from a long-term product fixture, underpinned by a great TV presence and boosted by the big screen features.” “We’re extremely proud of Astrid,” Hannah adds. “She’s a strong and fierce female DreamWorks Dragons rider and a very positive role model for all children. Her presence continues to extend the appeal of the franchise to girls and boys.” CBBC, the No. 2 channel for kids aged 4-15 in the UK, continues to support Dragons as the free

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to air broadcast partner for the animated series Dragons: Race to the Edge, while the video on demand platform Netflix streams the series to a core audience of 7-10 year olds. In addition, four film shorts offer fans further immersion into the world of Berk and its fire breathing inhabitants. “The award-winning TV show is a key pillar in our ‘always on’ content strategy,” explains Hannah. “DreamWorks Dragons: Race to the Edge is available through Netflix and CBBC, and will continue to be supported by our amazing cross category licensing partners.” The final instalment in the move franchise is set to make its theatrical debut in February 2019, nine years after the first movie was first screened in cinemas. How To Train Your Dragon 3 is the first DreamWorks movie to be released since the acquisition of DreamWorks Animation by Universal, and is therefore the first feature film to benefit from the promotional and marketing expertise of the studios. Starring Cate Blanchett, T J Miller and Kristen Wiig, DreamWorks promises “the most action packed and heartfelt” Dragons film yet, and while most details are still under wraps at this stage, fans can expect to see new characters and villains joining returning favourites Hiccup, Astrid, Snotlout, Fishlegs, Ruffnut and Tuffnut – and, of course, their dragons. To support the release, Universal Brand Development is in discussions with a number of new consumer products partners and will be building the brand throughout this year, with Dragons 3 activation expected to be in full swing come December.

NPD Insight The changing retail environment NPD’s Melissa Symonds considers what impact the demise of Toys R Us will have on the UK toy market for the rest of 2018, as well as examining potential opportunities for other retailers. With the news that Toys R Us UK operation is closing all stores, our thoughts go out to the all employees and staff who are impacted. As much as the situation is a challenge for the UK toy market, it is much more challenging for them, and they have our sympathy. While UK toy consumers may initially jump at the opportunity to pick up a bargain or two during the closing few weeks, long term they may find they miss the one-stop shop for all toy brands, manufacturers and categories. Within the industry, we are all wondering what impact the closure will have for the toy market for the rest of 2018 and perhaps, what undiscovered opportunities there are. Unfortunately, it’s not the first time that the UK Toy market has faced a major toy retailer closure. Back in January 2009, Woolworths, then the number two toy retailer with £310m of sales, closed over 800 stores across the country. Toys R Us is a very different type of retailer to Woolworths, but according to NPD’s Consumer Panel, it was also the number two UK toy retailer in 2017 and held 11% of the market. Would it be too optimistic to assume that 100% of Toys R Us sales are picked up by other retailers this year? When Woolworths closed, this had an impact on the 2009 toy performance with 46% of Woolworths sales being lost to the market, leaving UK toys down -5% in value, or down -£144M for the year. The remaining 54% of Woolworth’s sales were picked up by other retailers, with other high street stores and online gaining more than their fair share. It wasn’t until 2010 that the UK toy market fully recovered all Woolworths lost sales, helped by a World Cup and the Toy Story 3 cinema release. Nonetheless, the retailer environment today is very different, with online purchases now accounting

for 38% of UK toy sales compared to just 16% in 2008 (Source: NPD Consumer Panel). In-store sales have shown decline, down -6% in the last 12 months, even as online growth continues. For the brick and mortar stores with costs increasing and pressures on margin throughout the supply chain, rate of sale or sales velocity has become more important than ever. It’s no longer enough for manufacturers to just get distribution listings, but to ensure that product moves off shelf and returns value for both the retailer and manufacturer. Not every item has the same level of distribution, so the top seller’s lists can be swayed by items or properties that have a high number of listings. However, by looking at Value Velocity NPD can look at the sales per store selling, to see how fast items sell even if they’re not in wide distribution. While there are some items like LOL Surprise! that appear on both lists, it’s interesting to see the items on the top velocity list like Topps Match Attax Champions League Cards and Jakks Squish-Dee-Lish Animals Series, that aren’t in wide distribution and therefore missing out on the top sellers list. With remaining toy retailers looking to get their share of the TRU sales, manufacturers may initially take the view that their forecasts for 2018 are now looking very optimistic. However, this is an opportunity for manufacturers to improve their relationships with existing retailers to make a strong joint offering for consumers. Or will new channels start to make take on more importance? While accounting for just 3% of European toy sales, discounters are growing +5% (ahead of the European market which was -1% in 2017), with the top 5 discounters growing +30%. This could have

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Melissa Symonds

Director UK Toys, EuroToys NPD an impact in terms of price points and ranges for the total market. Manufacturers and retailers alike may need to think about optimising assortments to suit different retail channels in order to minimise cannibalisation of sales and thus ensuring continued market growth. Alternatively there other routes to the market manufacturers may take. In NPD’s Sports service a high proportion of sales come through Direct to Consumer sites – either online or physical stores. This isn’t unknown or new to the toy market with Disney Store and Lego Store key examples, but perhaps this is a route that more manufacturers will trial in the coming years? We don’t have a crystal ball to see where Toys R Us current buyers will move on to, or if they stop buying toys all together, perhaps moving to other competitive categories like video games for occasional gifting. It’s becoming increasingly important to look at what is happening on a weekly basis, to try to predict what the UK toy market will be like in six months’ time. While the UK toy market may no longer have Toy R Us, there are still opportunities in 2018 for retailers and manufacturers who are dynamic and quick to react positively to opportunities that come their way.

Top 10 Fastest Growing Subclasses across total Toys Ranked by value gained - YTD February 2018 vs. 17 Subclass Playset Dolls & Collectibles Miscellaneous Toys Robotic/Interact Playmates

Fastest Growing Subclass

Vehicle Playsets & Acc Special Ftr Nurturing Doll PS Vehicles Reusable Compounds Scientific Toys Radio/Remote Control Ground/Sea/Other Radio/Remote Control Air








Sales Gained £M Source: NPD EPoS Retail Tracking | YTD February 2018 vs. 17 DocumentThe classification: Party Confidential NPD Group,Client/Third Inc. | Proprietary and confidential


Item Progression: Item Description


Rank Jan

Rank Feb

Squish-Dee-Lish Animals Series




Playset Dolls & Collectibles continues to be the fastest growing subclass in the UK Toy market as L.O.L. Surprise! goes from strength to strength, accounting for nearly half of all Playset Dolls & Collectibles sales YTD. The top three items in the total market are part of the L.O.L Surprise! range with Pets Blind Pack, Original Doll and Lil Sister Doll series. However, it’s not just LOL that is driving the category, with Hatchimals Colleggtibles growing as well as well as Enchantimals – so new properties are driving sales. Miscellaneous toys growth of +£2m in the last two months is driven by the new squishy ranges with Bandai’s Smooshy Mushy the top selling property and Character Option’s Soft N Slo Squishies number two. Robotic & Interactive Playmate growth is driven by the continued sales and extension of Jazware’s Fingerlings range with Unicorn the best-selling line YTD.

Lots of new products were released into the UK toy market in January, with many of them increasing distribution and sales in February. The item with the fastest progression in the last month was Jakks Pacific Squish-Dee-Lish Animal Series, whose February sales increased over x10 January and moved up 1117 position rankings to #35 for the month still. This item is one of many squishy lines that launched in 2018 and isn’t the only item in the top sellers; Smooshy Mushy Surprise from Bandai is #23 item for February. Neither item has more than 50% weighted distribution so far so there is plenty of potential for both to continue to grow in the coming months.

The NPD Group provides global information and advisory services to drive better business decisions. By combining unique data assets with unmatched industry expertise, we help our clients track their markets, understand consumers and drive profitable growth. Sectors covered include automotive, beauty, entertainment, fashion, food/food service, home, office supplies, sports, technology, toys, video games, and wireless. To monitor what’s happening in the ever-changing toy market, NPD collects point-of-sale information from all major toy retailers. This information, combined with our analysts’ industry perspectives, delivers a comprehensive view of what’s selling and where. We also field over 12m consumer surveys annually to help industry leaders understand why consumers shop where they shop and why they buy what they buy. For more information visit Follow NPD on Twitter @npdgroup

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Talking Shop

Hot right now Independent retailers spoke to Toy World about what is proving successful at the moment, how trade has been lately and how Easter promotions and the weather impact their business. Indie viewpoint can be foiund on p.16 this month.

Michael Baker-Kilburn - Toys at Knaresborough

We have been situated in Knaresborough for two years now, having moved from our previous location in Wetherby. Business was good for us last year, especially during the summer months, but Christmas died a death. Sales only started to come in just a couple of days before Christmas day itself; I think people were shopping around looking for last minute bargains, something we saw right across the country. This year we have changed the way we are approaching the business – I hate to say it, but Amazon has been my saviour for February and March. My turnover is up 500% on January, February and March last year, purely thanks to the volume of online sales we are doing on Amazon Marketplace. We do have our own website for the shop, but it’s more of a holding page. If a customer wants to place an order they are directed to the Amazon site. At the moment, sales of Character Options’ Cake Pop Cuties and Soft’n Slo Squishies are really strong – squishies are a very hot product right now. The performance of our range of Postman Pat toys has really surprised me; the property has sold exceptionally well for us recently. I hadn’t stocked Postman Pat before, but we’ve got it both in store and online and have completely sold out, with more on order. Our main target age range is children younger than eight years old, and Postman Pat is obviously proving really popular with them right now. We are in North Yorkshire and so the Beast from the East, with all that awful winter weather, hit

us really badly. We had to close the shop for a few days because we just couldn’t physically make it in. However, we did see a big spike in online sales on our marketplace store, from people who didn’t want to venture outside; they’d rather shop from home where it’s warm. When we did manage to reopen we didn’t see increased sales over those first few days, but we are now back to where we would hope to be. Knaresborough is a tourist town, so we tend to do really well here over Easter – lots of families come to the caravan parks and the B&Bs around the area, and they come to the store on the hunt for under £10 toys and games. Last year we did really well with Fingerlings, and this year we are seeing success with squishies. Anything that can be thrown in a suitcase, taken on a car journey or played with in a hotel room on a rainy day sells through well for us. Being a tourist town, all the attractions open up over Easter which really helps drives the footfall to the shop. For Easter last year we ran a colouring competition, but there just wasn’t enough interest to justify doing it again this year. While we do have a lot of regulars, the majority of our sales are to tourists, and a colouring competition really needs participants that are living or staying in the area for an extended period of time. We use Toy World to keep up to date on the latest collectibles and crazes, and to see what new products are coming out. Keeping an eye on the bigger retailers, as well as online marketplaces, also helps me keep track of what products are selling particularly well. I used to stock a huge range of collectibles and pocket money toys, but I’ve narrowed it down now to what I know our customers want. We try to remain fluid and flexible so we can react to emerging trends and crazes, as and when they pop up. As mentioned earlier, we cater primarily to children under eight years of age, so the pre-school category is really strong for us. Bigjigs is one of my biggest sellers within the store. We have the Play Food range, which is a huge draw for parents and grandparents, plus wooden jigsaws, lift out puzzles and peg puzzles – Bigjigs really is our standout preschool line. Character Options’ licensed products are also great for us; Peppa Pig, Fireman Sam, and Postman Pat. A couple of customers had asked for Postman Pat toys, and I had noticed online that they sell very well, so decided to bring them in and have a go. I’m glad I did - they sold out within two days. Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom is also popular, and is my fourth main licensed pre-school line. As we benefit from tourist trade, games and

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puzzles have always been a good option for us. We sell a lot of board games, things like HTI Chess and Snakes & Ladders, and classic family games such as Monopoly and Connect 4. We sell a lot of games and puzzles at Christmas especially, and we noticed a big uptick in sales on New Year’s Eve this year too. I think that the remainder of this year is going to be hard, and that if you’re not online you are going to struggle. In our neighbourhood we have seen a lot of independent stores closing down recently, and I truly think it’s because people looking for a bargain are searching for them online. I also think more consumers are going to be visiting the likes of bigger toy retail chains and online stores as a result of Toys R Us going into administration. I just can’t see that footfall coming into independents, unfortunately. My best advice for other retailers is to listen to your customers. If people are asking for something then bring it in. Our experience with Postman Pat has opened our eyes on this front – we just had no idea it would do well so for us. Likewise, I wasn’t planning on stocking Fingerlings last year, but tourist kids quite wanted something like that to play with as they were walking around the town and they proved incredibly popular. Take notice of your customers and you’ll do well, but I think you also have to remain open minded to the prospect of conducting business online. I had a very good website but it didn’t bring in custom, and as awful as it may seem, retailers may have to look at the likes of Amazon Marketplace and eBay in a different light this year.

Talking Shop Clair Letton - Wigwam Toys, Brighton

Business in 2017 was positive, and we were pleased to see the upward trend of the past few years continue. Christmas was quite different to previous years, with many customers opting to spread the cost over the whole of the fourth quarter, starting Christmas shopping only weeks after the children returned to school for the autumn term. So far, 2018 is on track and is pretty much what we expected; January was busy and February a little quieter. We saved our sale for mid-February to give profits a boost before the half-term and Easter holiday sales kicked in. Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty continues to be a huge seller for us. We have been stocking it for three or four years now, and I keep waiting for sales to plateau but it goes from strength to strength. Squishies have also been in huge demand and sell out as soon as they arrive. New product from established brands has increased sales within the range; Sylvanian families are a consistent seller, but the addition of the Town range has resulted in an increase in sales, and the new Schleich Bayala rainbow unicorn and Pegasus figures sold out within a week. We rarely get snow here in Brighton, so we were crossing our fingers for snowballs when we heard about the Beast from the East. When it came it was rather disappointing, but we had stocked up on sledges and sold all 40 within 20 minutes of opening. I managed to obtain another 36 which were all pre sold before delivery the next day. It was the most profitable Tuesday we’ve ever had! The only disruption we had was with was one delivery we were waiting on that was delayed a few days, but all in all the snow was good for our sales. Easter is always a busy time. Many families go away on holiday or to visit friends and family, so they stock up on journey-distractions and small gifts. There are a lot of customers who prefer to avoid chocolate at Easter, and instead buy toys or gifts for the children. It is hard to predict figures, but it would be very unusual not to see an upturn in sales over the holiday. We buy specifically for the occasion, increasing our collectible and small gift ranges; the hatching dinosaur, chick and unicorn eggs are always popular at that time of year. We didn’t plan anything for Easter this year as our 5th birthday comes a week after, and within the

Easter holidays. We held a two-day outdoor event - we have a large area outside the shop where we erect our gazebo, with colouring activities for the kids. Aqua beads from Epoch and the new Alphabet Pie air drying clay were demoed on the day, and we had in-store promotions on certain lines. We do this annually and it works really well. We have a solid community of regulars and it’s nice to offer something back. We are based in a residential area with a huge number of children living within walking distance, quite often passing the shop twice a day on the way to and from school. The pocket money market is a vital part of our business. We stock all the usuals - Lego blind bags, Puppy, Kitty and Jungle in my pocket, etc. Sales of Pokémon booster packs go up and down but are still selling well. We are always looking for new blind bags and collectibles as we have many frequent repeat customers who are keen to start new collections. I buy what appeals to me, and keep an ear open for what our children and customers are asking for. Currently Marvel and Minecraft collectors’ key rings are selling fast. I think this is partly due to identical school book bags - the children want to personalise them, and the parents

the age groups; pre-school, early years and more complicated puzzles for older children. Games such as chess, draughts, card games and Dobble sell all year round, but there is a noticeable increase over the Christmas season. I think 2018 will be a tough year. Prices are ever increasing and the weakness of the pound and talk of Brexit make people cautious about their spending. We have seen changes in the terms and conditions of some of our overseas suppliers, as their insurance policies have changed to reflect our position in Europe. This makes things potentially more difficult and more expensive for the whole sector and specifically independents, as we don’t reap the benefits of economies of scale. Even in the last few years we have seen a change in the way customers shop. All the evidence points to an ever-growing internet market, and in order to survive, I think we have to follow suit. There may be exceptions, but realistically I think web sales may be essential to prop up brick & mortar stores in the coming years. I think the demise of Toys R Us may give independents a boost. Provided we shout about our existence and let people know we are here, we may

want to be able to easily identify their child’s bag. Crazes can be good for business; we do our best to get in early, sell through and not get stuck with stock. They are a less risky park of the business though; past craze items such as loom bands and fidget spinners, and current ones like squishies are low price items, and we don’t buy in vast quantities. It works well for us - if a few children take an item in to school, their friends will pop in on the way home to buy one too, and there may be crazes that are specific to one local school. New baby and pre-school toys are a big part of our business. We apply the same ethos to buying for this area as we do the rest of the shop. Do we like it? Is it good quality and value? Would we be happy to give or receive it as a gift? We specialise in low tech, design led traditional toys, games, gifts and books, and that is reflected in our pre-school offering. Brands such as the Playmobil 123 range are hugely popular and sit well alongside Stickle Bricks and Brio. Puzzles are a consistent seller for us, right through

be able to pick up new customers. As independents, we know that our strengths are in personal service, responsive buying and reliability. We had a large Toys R Us nearby and have seen a decline in stock, lack of stock diversity and store cleanliness there over the past year. Many customers tell us they discovered us when the decline started; they couldn’t purchase what they had visited the store for, and never went back, having discovered the joy of shopping in a more personal setting. I love working in the toy industry, I think I am incredibly lucky to work in a sector that brings so much joy. I have a lovely, enthusiastic team to work with and it really brightens my day to see the look on kids’ faces when they come in to the shop and to hear the excitement in their voices when they find something they like. Being surrounded by children while I’m at work, I am reminded daily that, as adults, we should never lose the ability to play and be silly, to get excited over the little things, and most of all - to have fun.

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Andrew Atkinson - Ernest Atkinson and Sons, Windermere

Business for us is slow at the moment, partly due to the economy, but also due to being quite badly affected by the weather in early March. January trading has been steady, but March was far below what we would expect for the time of year. We are located in a tourist area, so our business depends on a high volume of visitors, and due to the weather in March that was not the case. However, we were finally able to clear our sledge stock after four and a half years, so that was a positive. It’s just been the lack of numbers that we have struggled with because of the lack of tourist trade. The best performing ranges for us this year so far have been plush toys, believe it or not. Sylvanian Families has performed very strongly, and puzzles and games has also been a strong sector for us. However, we had some flat areas with Lego. It has been a reliable performer for the independent trade

for the last five or six years, so this was worrying. But we are slightly different to traditional toy retailers because we are so tourist related. Licences such as Peter Rabbit hugely affect our sales, as we actually have the Peter Rabbit museum located in the same town. We expected to see an uplift in sales around the release of the movie and have already seen a huge increase in the Rainbow lines. In terms of Easter trading, it will be a challenge to match last year. We had a particularly good year last year as the school holidays were spread over a three to four week period, and the weather was very kind to us. Bookings are very good in the village over the Easter period this year, meaning a lot of footfall, so we are very positive about Easter trading. We haven’t planned any specific Easter events or activities, although sometimes I dress up as Paddington, in a full-sized costume, to help with promotions. Pocket money is a big sector with us, especially with the tourist trade. We see many visitors on oneoff day trips, who have a limited amount of money to spend. In fact, we shy away from a lot of larger ticket items because it’s just not our market. Squishees have been very strong for us when we can get stock, as have blind bags. Games and puzzles are extremely popular, and last year was our best year for many years, especially with puzzles. If we get a wet summer, then the games and

puzzles sector does perform incredibly well. Games and puzzles sales are totally weather related; if it rains, people on holiday seek an indoor distraction. I think the rest of 2018 is going to be a difficult year, especially with the demise of Toys R Us. I feel that UK tourists seem to have less spending money than last year, and I can’t see the sector providing a lot of growth in general to be honest. However, there are some opportunities for independent retailers with the Toys R Us situation. Although I don’t think they will pick up as much of the trade as Argos, Smyths and The Entertainer, I do think there are areas in which independent retailers can benefit.

Donald Nairn - Toys Galore, Edinburgh Last year, takings were up around 8% over December, and we saw strong sales over the Christmas period. The Black Friday sales last year really helped us, but I think people are starting to become weary of the constant bombardment of promotions and then realising that the offers are not all that they seem to be. They look at something on sale, see that it’s half price, and then realise that this is because the product was left over from 2015. There are some genuinely good promotions, but there is a lot of rubbish as well. This year so far, sales have also been healthy. We were doing very well with putty up until the arsenic health scare, but Amazon not doing its job properly and allowing shoddy products to be sold really did not help anyone. We only sell the perfectly safe Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty, which has been recovering, and we will continue to stock it. Other products which are performing strongly include the L.O.L. Surprise! dolls. The weather at the start of March actually provided us with a huge boost in sales, as we were able to sell over 500 sledges. Luckily, we had some left over from five years ago, so we were able to sell off all our old stock, and sales will be up for the month, if nothing else, because of sledges. Easter trading for us is a funny one, as we never really sell that much specifically related to Easter. Maybe, a few years ago, people preferred to buy a toy as a gift over a chocolate egg, but now that the eggs are so cheap, we only really sell a few plush bunnies and chickens. March and April are always strong months for us though, as we find that people are generally out and about a bit more. We will be

holding a couple of promotional events and activities over Easter, as we find it is a good way to drive extra footfall and to sell excess stock if we have it. We get asked for collectible products a lot and have found that listening to our customers is the best way to find out what is in demand. We are not always aware of what’s going to be the next big craze, so we pay attention to what is being asked for. Everyone is asking for Squishees at the moment, and we are also expecting the new Lego mini-figures to be popular when they come out. We are hoping that these will kick-start what has been a slightly lagging collectible sector recently. I think that the Lego Harry Potter mini-figures are going to be highly sought after. In terms of pre-school toys, the ranges we stock perform well for us. We have Duplo, Play-Doh and a range of bath toys and puzzles which are consistent sellers. With games and puzzles though, I struggle to get excited about the games that everyone has already

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heard of. We get more sales from customers who say, “Oh look, that’s amazing, I’ve never seen that game before,” so I stock games that will get that reaction. I also stock products from companies like Orchard Toys and Tactic Games, because not only are they good games but they also have an educational element which appeals to parents, and the lower price points work very well. I think the rest of the year is going to be very interesting. Obviously, Toys R Us has gone under, and 10 years ago that would have made a big difference to us. If customers couldn’t find something in our shop they would go to Toys R Us, but for a long time that hasn’t been happening. Instead they now say they will try Smyths. But I think that the Toys R Us situation is indicative of the fundamental problem of the toy industry, and that is that more people are buying products online. Our answer to this is to stock products which are not as easy to buy online, such as fancy-dress items, and I think that one of the reasons that Toys R Us has gone is because it didn’t realise this. It just carried on doing the same thing it had for the last 30 years and didn’t adapt to changing circumstances. I see a positive future for the independent trade, because if you do it right then you have so much more flexibility than the bigger nationals. We can do exciting things that they cannot. Collectibles is an interesting example, because supermarkets are just not set up for it. We can discuss the latest crazes with our customers, stock them and even encourage swaps. In this case, the strength may well be in small independent shops.

Special Feature


Plastic fantastic?

Around 275,000 tonnes of plastic are used in the UK every year. Taking up to 500 years to decompose, the problem of plastic pollution is reaching tipping point globally, as awareness of the lingering effect of plastics on our planet increases. With a number of big name manufacturers now exploring alternatives to traditional petrochemical based plastics, Rachael Simpson investigates the future of bioplastics and recycled plastics in the toy industry.

Green Toys, Bigjigs


n January this year, Prime Minister Theresa May launched the Government’s environmental plan for the next 25-years, committing UK to eliminating all avoidable plastic waste by 2042. China’s refusal last year to accept any more recycling from the West as of 1st January has resulted in mounds of plastics now piling up at waste disposal sites across the globe. Backlogs have been reported in the UK, Canada, Ireland, Germany and several other European nations, while tons of rubbish are piling up in port cities like Hong Kong. At the same time, microplastic pollution, caused by broken down plastic waste as well as synthetic fibres and microbeads, is having an impact on organisms in seas, lakes and rivers, from plankton and fish larvae to baleen whales and basking sharks. The results of a recent study show that the River Tame, near Manchester, has the highest microplastic pollution level anywhere in the world; over 500,000 microplastic particles per square

metre were found on the riverbed – and scientists think far worse levels are yet to be discovered. Ginette McKee, owner of Toytown Seaford, is aware of the pressure this increasing concern about plastics puts the toy industry under. “It seems that every day, the news or social media is highlighting more and more sectors that are actively moving away from plastic - how is the toy trade going to handle it when the media eventually brings up the vast amount of plastic used in our business?” she asks. “I suspect it is only a matter of weeks before someone in the media twigs how much plastic we use.” Toy companies are already taking note of the issue; Lego invested $155m last year into a Sustainable Materials Centre, where research is being undertaken to identify and explore alternatives to its current plastic, the petrochemical-based ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene). Earlier this month the company announced that, as of later this year,

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all its botanical pieces – trees, leaves, bushes and plants - would be made of a sustainable bioplastic, Braskem’s I’m Green polyethylene (PE). The material is sourced from sugar cane, although initially this will only account for 1-2% of Lego’s overall range. “At Lego we want to make a positive impact on the world around us and are working hard to make great play products for children using sustainable materials,” said Tim Brooks, vice-president of environmental responsibility at the Lego Group, at the time of the announcement. “This is a great first step in our ambitious commitment of making all Lego bricks using sustainable materials.” And going one step further, the company has set a target of 2030 to reach zero waste in operations, and introduced sustainable paper pulp trays for the Lego advent calendar to reduce plastic waste going to landfill. In the UK, Liberty House Toys has introduced the Biobuddi range of biobased building blocks. Manufactured in the Netherlands, the range is ecofriendly, as is the production process and waste phase. Like most green plastics, production of bio-based polyethylene Biobuddi blocks starts with the waste of sugarcane plants. Seven new wildlife themed Biobuddi sets will be available in June; Arctic, Forest, Jungle, Lagoon, Savanna, Steppe and Swamp. “Biobuddi believes every child should be able to play with eco-friendly toys,” explains Kelly McKeating, sales & marketing manager, Liberty House Toys. “By creating durable toys in an ecofriendly way, we can help the environment and increase ecologic awareness of parents and their children. We want to spread a positive influence on the lives of both children and adults by helping our environment.” Like all materials and manufacturing processes, bioplastics are subject to continuous research and development to ensure they remain a viable option. Shaun Chatterton, CEO of Floreon, has spent the past nine years working on improving the performance of PLA (poly lactic acid). Working alongside the University of Sheffield, the company has produced Floreon, a versatile bioplastic that

Plastics can be composted with an industrial composter and is both mechanically and chemically recyclable. In November, the company went one step further, patenting an additive that, when combined with PLA, significantly improves its performance, and therefore it’s suitability to a wide range of applications. So far, Floreon has been used to manufacture plastic bottles, food trays and cutlery and shows strong potential for use in many other product areas - toys, for example – providing an interesting opportunity for existing toy manufacturers looking to make a switch to partial or complete bioplastics use. While such innovation in the bioplastics space is obviously a good thing and should be applauded, toy companies are still wary of embracing bioplastics in their own lines. After all, it’s still early days for the bioplastics industry, and while products like Floreon are comparable in terms of performance, according to its promotional documents, there is a vital aspect of bioplastics that currently doesn’t stack up – cost. Research carried out by Floreon indicates that 87% of respondents see cost as the biggest barrier to using bioplastics in their own manufacturing. After all, why spend more to produce essentially the same thing? There are alternatives to plant-based bioplastics, too – toys made from recycled plastics. Recycling plastic into new products may not solve the issue of plastic existing in the first place, but there is no denying that granting the material a second life helps to keep it out of landfill, which can only ever be a good thing. American manufacturer Green Toys produces a range of plastic toys made primarily from recycled high-density polyethylene (HDPE), providing eco-minded parents and grandparents with an attractive option at retail. “Most of the plastic used for Green Toys comes from plastic milk bottles and sometimes other types of recycled plastic, like yoghurt pots and carrier bags,” says Sam Ireland, operations director at distributor Bigjigs Toys. “By using recycled

Special Feature

plastic we’re diverting from landfills. Plastic often sits in landfills and harmful chemicals release into surrounding soils and in some cases, water sources. It’s damaging to wildlife and the environment.” “We've stocked Green Toys recycled plastic toys since we opened in October 2016,” says Lindsay Meyer Nicholas of Toyville in Bristol. “They've been extremely popular with our customers; the tugboat and submarine are two of our best-selling products. They are excellent quality, well-designed and built to last. I think Blue Planet has really shifted people's awareness onto the problem with plastic. Since the TV programme aired, I have seen a huge number of people in our local area starting to talk about going plastic-free - we've even got a new zero-waste grocery shop opening up next to us this week.” Of course, while consumers might be keen to buy environmentally friendly products, packaging often still poses a problem. Cardboard boxes will happily go in the recycling bin, but the film windows used to protect products while still letting consumers view them are usually destined for the bin, and can be tricky to remove in one piece – leading many to not even try. Hasbro, which eliminated wire ties in 2010, and achieved 90% recycled or sustainably-sourced paper for packaging and in-box content, as well as moving from PET to post-consumer recycled (rPET) in 2016, has announced that it will begin using plantbased bio-polyethylene terephthalate (PET) for blister packs and plastic windows in its product packaging starting next year. In a statement made when the company announced the move, Kathrin Belliveau, senior vice president, Global Government, Regulatory Affairs and Corporate Social Responsibility, Hasbro, commented: “At Hasbro, we take pride in designing for the environment and believe that every package makes a difference. We’re proud of the strides we’ve made to advance the sustainability of our packaging and we know our

Biobuddi, Liberty House Toys

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consumers care deeply about this. We see every day as a chance to do better, and through actions like this, we are developing a more sustainable business and reducing our environmental impact.” In line with the company’s eco-friendly ethos, Green Toys’ packaging is composed of 100% recycled cardboard, and is completely free of twist ties, cellophane windows and blister packs. What’s more, the ink used is soy-based. “I am so impressed with Green Toys packaging and wish more manufacturers would follow suit,” enthuses Lindsay Meyer Nicholas. “The packaging is made of plain brown recycled cardboard, fits the product exactly and shows the toy off well. There can be a tendency to over-package things, particularly with non-recyclable plastic films, and this should definitely be addressed.” As well as stocking the Green Toys brand and a range of Smencils, which are made from recycled newspapers, Ginette McKee is setting up a recycling bin in conjunction with Londonbased The Toy Project, which will allow customers to drop off old toys for redistribution to those in need, thus keeping them out of landfill. But, as she admits, “it’s really only a drop in the (plastic) ocean, and short of becoming a wood only toy shop, I'm not sure what else independent retailers can do.” The fact is, with complex issues such as the ongoing use of plastics, there is unlikely to be a silver bullet which will solve things. In the meantime, the social and environmental responsibilities of influential companies are coming under increasing scrutiny. The bigger the company, the harder it is to stay out of the spotlight, and with such a focus on the amount of plastic ending up in landfill each year – or in the ocean - it makes sense for those companies currently manufacturing plastic products to start considering the alternatives going forward, whatever they may be.



Material change Toy World spoke to Shaun Chatterton, CEO of Floreon, to find out more about its PLA (poly lactic acid) bioplastic, a compostable and biodegradable type of plastic manufactured from plant-based resources. is placed on testing the product to make sure it remains fit for purpose and is as durable as its non-bioplastic counterpart. Manufacturers can often need a bit of support in transitioning to new materials, requiring slightly different moulding parameters etc, although most common bioplastics will process on standard equipment without the need for significant amounts of tweaking.

What do you think is currently holding back toy companies from working with bioplastics?

What would be the advantages and disadvantages of making toys from bioplastics? There are a number of advantages to using bioplastics to make toys. First of all there is the sustainability benefit. From a carbon footprint perspective, making a kilo of ABS plastic results in nearly four kilos of CO2 emissions. If you look at a bioplastic like PLA, the greenhouse gas emissions are far lower resulting in less than a kilo of CO2 emissions for each kilo of plastic produced. The properties of bioplastics also allow toy manufacturers to do things they couldn’t do before. Many bioplastics process at relatively low temperatures and can be mixed with things like natural fibres without them burning, to give different effects in the finished product. The property profiles of bioplastics can be quite different to standard plastics, which can give more options and control over the overall ‘feel’ and properties of the product. In terms of disadvantages, these are still relatively new materials, so more of an emphasis

Made from renewable resource with no capacity issues

As with any new material or group of materials it takes a while for people to gain confidence and learn what they can do with them. In the past there have been concerns about scale of supply and long-term durability of bioplastics but with recent advances and growth in volumes, these concerns have largely been addressed. Bioplastics can more or less match the functionality of competing oil based plastics now. Cost is another issue, as nobody wants to pay more for their plastic - although the difference in price isn’t as significant as it once was.

Supply Chain Benefits

What will it take to convince the toy industry to embrace bioplastics? To break into the mainstream we believe it only takes one big name to come on board and start using bioplastics in significant volume. The technology is there now to deliver the performance needed and seeing a significant user adopt the material would give the rest of the industry the confidence they need to switch to more renewable materials.

What role do you think bioplastics will play in toy manufacturing or the production of toy packaging over the next 5-10 years? Bioplastics are anticipated to have a 40% share of the global plastics market by 2030 due to increasing consumer concerns about sustainability and pollution and we expect that the toy industry will mirror this trend. In the foreseeable future many companies will stay with the standard plastics they use today purely due to cost, but with increasing demand, bioplastics will attract an increasingly more significant market segment.

credentials & meeting Circular Economy ambitions, plus improved performance

Improved stack-ability, Reduced weight delivers improved fuel economy

Consumer purchase products meeting personal ethics & recycling options

Converts at lower temperatures (reduced greenhouse gases, lower carbon footprint) and can also be light-weighted

Waste options of recycling or composting

Compounds at lower temperature than oil based plastics, produces less greenhouse gases and a lower carbon footprint

End of Life options are: Regrind and use for bio plastic products or Process to lactic acid for use in detergents/solvent s

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60% less greenhouse gasses produced than oil based plastics over life of products

Made from sugar cane. Yes! That’s right, sugar cane!

Building blocks with a difference

New to the toy market!

Eco-friendly Educational 100% safe


Made in the Netherlands, BiOBUDDi building blocks are a breakthrough for the toy market. Unlike other building blocks these are made from the leftovers of sugar cane instead of oil, making them environmentally friendly. Not only are these building blocks biobased, they’re also compatible with building blocks of other brands. Each playset comes with building blocks, baseplates, colourful stickers and an instruction manual. • Suitable for children aged 18 months – 6yrs

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Email: 1/2 PAGE BiOBUDDi ADVERT MAR 2018.indd 1

12/03/2018 14:22


Games & Puzzles

Thinking outside the box

One of the strengths of games and puzzles category is that they provide consumers with the opportunity to spend quality time with friends and family. Casey Goodman spoke to a range of suppliers and retailers to find out what to look out for in the category in 2018.


ast year, the games and puzzles supercategory grew 3% globally, according to NPD data. Retailers have reported positive feedback on the category, as Toymaster’s Paul Reader told Toy World. “We were very pleased to see a return to the games aisle by consumers in 2017, it would appear to be quite on trend to be seen playing games at the moment, inviting friends to socialise and most importantly - getting kids off the mobile devices and interacting with others. There is no better product for this than games, and there is something for all ages and tastes within the category. We also noticed a return to more strategic games for ages 12+, which helped bring back the older age groups to stores.” Perhaps the biggest trend, which has been cited by multiple suppliers, was that consumers have returned to classic games: games which are now household names and provide quality time with the family. Tactic Games sales director Rob Fort explains: “Games have always been popular with an older generation, but we have also seen sales of family board games rise, proving that game play is becoming more appealing to a wide age range. This trend is set to continue into 2018, particularly as millennial parents are leaning towards more traditional and classic games for their children. Imaginative game play is also on the rise this year, with games that encourage children to get creative. This year Tactic expects to see games such as Story Chest, which brings together imagination and fantasy with an exciting game play element and Mini Home, which combines a building set and a puzzle in one, become increasingly popular amongst consumers.” Craig Wilkins, marketing director at Hasbro UK & Ireland, explained how Hasbro has identified another growing trend in the games and puzzles category. He told Toy World, “We saw a huge consumer appetite for product based on challenge games that are popular on social media. We released the hugely successful games Egged On and Fantastic Gymnastics, which were based on the viral egg roulette challenge and flip challenge respectively. We also launched new iterations of Speak Out and Pie Face, with Speak Out: Kids Vs. Parents and Pie Face Sky High. This year we have the next generation of these, with Speak Out Showdown, Fantastic Gymnastic Vault and Pie Face Cannon.” Games with a humorous and visually appealing challenge element are often shared on social media platforms, helping their popularity to spread rapidly and increasing demand. Some suppliers have noticed that their strongest

products appeal to consumers who want fast-paced, party-style games. Ben Hogg, marketing director at Asmodee, told Toy World, “Our games business has continued to go from strength to strength over the last year, particularly within the quick, party game style designs, such as Dobble, Bananagrams and Rory’s Story Cubes. We feel these types of games

have become increasingly popular as families and casual gamers seek a gaming experience that is quick to pick up, simple to play and brings maximum fun and excitement in a short space of time. We expect the games market to continue to develop and grow as more and more people rediscover games as a social entertainment medium. This has a particular emphasis on modern board games where advances in design and gameplay have led to a surge in popularity. Our range of Modern Classics, including the likes of Pandemic, Ticket to Ride and Catan, is a perfect example of the games we feel have played a pivotal role in bringing more and more people to the activity.” Paul Reader agrees, “There is a trend towards lower-priced, quick action games that involve lots of fun. It was great to see a card game, Dobble, win 2017 Game of the Year at Toy Fair this year. However, action games are usually top of the list. It would appear that an emphasis on the toilet humour element of game play is coming through, although I think it will be a tough call on this one whether parents will approve or not.” As the peak sales period for games is the last four to six weeks of the year, one of the biggest questions

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that suppliers and retailers ask themselves is how they can maximise sales of games and puzzles throughout the rest of the year. Rob recommends that retailers should provide the games and puzzles category with dedicated space in store all year round. “With the increased interest in board games from a wide audience throughout the year, there is a need for retailers to start allocating more shelf space to these games to cater for the demand.” As well as more space in store, Ben suggests that in-store demonstrations are the best way to maximise sales, a strategy which Asmodee encourages with its retailers. He explains: “We are quite lucky that our range and distribution allows us to sell to toy stores and the hobby games market all year round, with releases each week. One of our toy retailers sold over 1,000 Dobble in the space of a year, just by demonstrating it in their store. The fast, fun games I mentioned above lend themselves perfectly to in-store demonstrations and we’d love to see more stores engaging with customers in this way.” Paul shares the view that in-store demonstrations are key and would also encourage more Toymaster stores to demonstrate the games. He explains: "Historically, the majority of games sales come in the last six weeks of the year. However, having a good games section, well merchandised and featuring all the key best-sellers, including more traditional games all year round, will give stores an advantage. There is no better way of creating interest than planning Game Demo days or sessions in store. There is a huge number of games that would suit this quick action style demo, we would recommend that retailers try it, and are confident they will see that it works.” Paul also told Toy World what he looks for as a buyer in the games and puzzles category and explained some of the challenges that buyers are faced with in making their selections. “We all tend to see a lot of new product at London Toy fair, some of which is still very much at the mock-up stage, or presented as a non-working sample, so it can be difficult to judge. The packaging can also have a large part to play, especially for on shelf impact, and this is not always finalised at the shows. I tend to wait until the Toymaster May show to see how the game has progressed, or sometimes not made it at all, before I make my final decisions on which games to focus on.” Over the next few pages, Toy World presents the latest ranges in the games and puzzles category.

Games & Puzzles

Mattel 01628 500 000 | In 2018 Mattel continues to strengthen its games portfolio with an extensive offering introducing new ranges and expanding iconic favourites. Iconic board game Scrabble celebrates its 70th Anniversary in 2018, kicking off with World Scrabble Day on 13th April. To commemorate this milestone the brand launches a Scrabble 70th Anniversary Edition, the classic board game re-imagined with a modern luxury aesthetic, with new special foil-stamped spaces on the board and premium wooden letter tiles. Mattel also introduces new game Flushin’ Frenzy for autumn/winter 2018, a game that requires fast reflexes. Players roll the dice and when a number comes up, plunge the toilet the amount of times shown. If the poop comes flying up and they catch it in midair, they earn two chips. The player who ends with the most chips wins. This new game provides hours of endless fun and toilet humor for 2-4. Adding excitement to the games portfolio is Handimonium, a hilarious game that allows kids and adults to challenge their friends to simple tasks that suddenly become outrageously difficult when players have to perform them wearing tiny plastic hands. Players start by flipping the first instruction card which reveals a challenge to complete, to see if they can fill a cup with household objects. Handimonium also offers an alternative way to play with charades, as teammates take it in turns to act out clues. Classic card game Uno expands with new variants such as Uno Baby Animals, and special licensed ranges including Uno Junior Fireman Sam, Uno Jurassic World, Jurassic Attack and Minecraft. All ranges offer the classic matching card game with new themes, special rules and characters introducing exciting, unpredictable ways to play. The fun keeps building with the Minecraft Card Game, based on the hit video game. Players have the opportunity to “mine” Resource Cards of Wood, Stone, Iron, Diamond or Gold then use those words to “craft” Craft cards for points. TNT and Creeper cards are hiding in the deck for unexpected upsets. The player who reaches the game point goal first wins.

Ravensburger 01869 363 800 | Rush Hour from ThinkFun, the multi award-winning traffic jam logic game, is a simple yet highly-addictive game featuring 40 challenges from beginner to expert and is ideal for single players aged eight years and up. Players simply place the coloured vehicles on the game grid as indicated on the challenge card, then start moving the vehicles up-and-down or left-and-right along the grid, until they have managed to unlock the traffic jam and release their red car from the gridlock. Rush Hour, as well as many other ThinkFun games, is available now. Also available from Ravensburger is the new and stylish Union Jack Sneaker 3D Puzzle. Cut from strong shaped plastic, each of the 108 puzzle pieces fits perfectly with the next, without the need for glue. Once assembled, the cool and stylish sneaker 3D Puzzle keeps desks tidy by storing anything from pens and pencils to make-up or paint brushes. There are three other stylish 3D Puzzle Sneakers in the range, including Marvel Comic Book Sneaker, Graffiti Sneaker, and American Flag Sneaker. It is the ideal gift for puzzle fans everywhere.

DKL 01604 678 780 | DKL’s traditional and timeless Scratch pre-school range has a wide assortment of classic games and puzzles designed for kids pre-school age and upwards. The best-selling product from the range is the Magnetic Darts. The reversible magnetic dartboards come in two different designs, large or small, for maximum play value. There is also a range of themes to choose from, including princesses, dragons and dinosaurs. The colourful, cylindrical packaging make this a stand out product in store, and the attractive FSDU adds to the appeal. Not only do the magnetic puzzles look great and guarantee hours of fun, they also help keep children entertained whilst aiding the developing of cognitive abilities. The traditional puzzles collection is expanding in 2018 with additions including The Ferry Boat Puzzle, a beautifully illustrated jigsaw with a very detailed drawing of the Scratch Ferry Boat. The collection also includes the World Map Puzzle and the Farm Starter Puzzle. The set consists of five puzzles, illustrated for the youngest puzzlers. They include five happy farm figures to put together, including the rabbit, turkey, rooster, tractor and lorry. The Scratch range offers a collection of traditional wooden toys. The Toc Toc Owl requires players to knock coloured balls down with the hammer to make the bell ring, with the colourful owl encouraging children to react faster. Also available are The Owl Shape Sorter, which sees Lou the owl challenge children on whether they are as smart as he is; Rolling Animals, where funny magnetic animals make for endless play that stimulates children’s motor skills and The Retro Collection, which includes the Metal Pinball Circus Game.

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Games & Puzzles

Jazwares 020 3598 5119 | Jazwares is introducing the unique new game from WowWee, What's That Smell? Eagerly anticipated and already gaining fans, it’s a new scratch and sniff party game that stinks. What's That Smell? is the first ever fragrance-guessing party game that opens up a world of interesting whiffs. Players need to guess the scents correctly to win or suffer the stinky consequences. Players can also download the companion app to capture it all one the Cam-Reekorder. Contains 50+ Smells, including four Stank Cards, tokens, cardholders and score pad. Suitable for ages 13+ and for 2-6 players. Distributed by Jazwares, What’s That Smell? will be promoted with TV, top tier Influencer, social media and PR campaigns. Available from summer 2018.

Asmodee 01420 593 593 | Fresh from picking up the award for 2017 Game of the Year in Dobble, Asmodee UK (formerly known as Esdevium Games) is gearing up for another big year with a host of new titles and promotions. The April arrival of Bananagrams to Asmodee’s catalogue will be a major focus after its well-received debut at the company’s Toy Fair stand earlier this year. The tile-placing word game is already a worldwide hit, and Asmodee is looking forward to taking it to the next level, with increased distribution throughout 2018. Stores can now pre-order the whole Bananagrams range, which includes Bananagrams Party as well as My First Bananagrams. Bananagrams will be available from Asmodee from 1st April. Bananagrams joins Asmodee’s wide range of demonstration-friendly products including the hugely successful Dobble, the creative storytelling game Rory’s Story Cubes and new titles like Cobra Paw, Set and the soon-to-be-released Who Did It?. One major initiative being launched is Asmodee’s new Modern Classics brand, which celebrates the modern-day superstars driving the popularity of tabletop experiences. The brand launches in the UK with its spotlight on Catan, Ticket to Ride Europe, Dixit, Carcassone, Concept and Pandemic, and will be supported with an eye-catching FSDU to draw consumers’ attention as well as individual labelling of the games themselves. Pandemic is set for a further boost in 2018 as Asmodee celebrates the 10th anniversary of the disease-battling cooperative game. The full Pandemic range will be supported with in-store demonstrations and a social media campaign that capitalises on the game’s winning blend of tension and teamwork.

Funrise 01908 555640 | Funrise International is entering the world of games with its Gazillion Bubbles Bubble Pong this spring. Gazillion Bubbles has created premium bubble products for over a decade. With an extensive array of premium bubble solution, bubble toys and bubble machines, Gazillion has something for every bubble fan. With Gazillion Bubble Pong, children can experience the first game of its kind that blasts opponents with bubbles. Gazillion Bubble Pong delivers fun and excitement as children bounce ping pong balls into their opponent’s side to score points and blast them with Gazillion premium bubbles. With three levels of difficulty to choose from, this game is fun for all ages. When the Bubble Pong game is over, players can turn on the bubble machine mode for a non-stop bubble party.

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Games & Puzzles

Big Potato 07472 824 526 | Big Potato offers two travel size toys for summer. Big Potato has both a game and a toy that are perfect for family holidays: OK Play and Foooty. OK Play was created and designed in-house, and Big Potato has partnered up with Foooty to launch in the UK. OK Play is a super-simple tile game that the whole family can play. It’s easy to learn but tricky to win. A connecting game for 2-4 players, players aim to sneak a straight or horizontal line of five tiles in a row to win. There’s no board to stop the game going off in random directions and if the players run out of tiles, they get to reposition old ones. For ages 8+, it can be played anywhere, with anyone. The toughened plastic tiles and handy carabiner make OK Play ideal for travelling. Foooty is an innovative Dutch toy that was invented by Jean-Pierre Raes, who often found himself on holiday wishing he had brought a football, or after buying one, had to leave it behind to save space. His solution was Foooty, a clever flat-pack toy that can be hooked together to make durable 3D shapes. Working with his own development agency, Apollo 11, Jean-Pierre created Foooty and launched it on Kickstarter in 2016. The flexible panels allow children or adults to build a football, frisbee, rugby ball, star, rocket and even a giraffe. It’s easy to assemble and even easier to deconstruct. Plus it’s the perfect size and weight to fit into a pocket or bag to take on holiday. Foooty is available to purchase in a variety of colours, including red, yellow, blue, and - new for 2018 - glow in the dark. There’s also a brand new Foooty merchandising stand available for retailers, complete with a built-up Foooty to show consumers what the toy looks like.

Green Board Games 01494 538 999 | Sales of GBG’s new game Shaperise are gaining momentum in the UK, in addition to significant interest being shown in international markets. The simple game play, cross-generational appeal and ease of translation has already seen Shaperise produced in both Mandarin and Spanish. Following the Toy Fair exhibitions of 2018, there has been an increase in demand for Gigamic, MindWare, Fat Brain Toys and Re,Cycle,Me (GBG’s distributed lines); each having found its niche in the UK games arena. GBG has also seen an uplift in orders for travel games Froggy and Catch a Roo. The company’s Flights of Fancy product range is also proving to be successful. Finally, two new games are soon to be available in the BrainBox range, with the launch of Under the Sea followed by People at Work shortly after.

Character Options 0161 633 9800 | Character Options will introduce exciting and innovative new titles to the already successful line-up in 2018. Next generation electronic spinning top game, i-Top, can be used to challenge one player or friends. The pocket-sized spinning top counts the number of revolutions and keeps track of high scores. There are three main play modes including Top Score, 99 Spin Challenge and Compass mode. The i-Top also comes with unlockable play modes; players spin the secret combination to see special animations appear. Simple to use but will taking practice to master, i-Top launches in May supported with a marketing campaign that will see kids trying out their spin skills first hand. Plans commence at Easter’s Kidtropolis with a major challenge space and first reveal, before extensive press, online, and TV advertising kick in. The Wizard Battle game sees players armed with magic wands, and the first wizard to correctly complete the selected magic spell and turn off all of their opponent’s amulet lights wins the battle. The already successful Pokémon Trainer Guess will enter a new season with the Johto Edition. In addition to the 151 Kanto Pokémon featured in series 1, the new Quick style Poké Ball has an additional 100 Pokémon from the Johto Region to discover and collect. Name It! is a pop culture trivia game with over 400 audio questions to draw on players’ knowledge on anything from pop music to cult films, sports, or even animal sounds. Finally, the hugely addictive FlipSlide will join the games line up. This clever game of memory, speed, and skill is inspired by classic games such as Tetris and Rubik’s cube and is a handheld electronic game where players flip and slide the coloured blocks to solve the puzzles.

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Another great game from

Games & Puzzles

University Games 03334 050120 | Super active and for ages 6+, Ultra Dash is the latest release from University Games. This fast-paced, challenging game will have the whole family up and about, having energetic fun. To set up the course, players simply lay out the five coloured targets wherever they choose. One of three games can be selected by pressing the button on the tagger. There is beat the clock, target tally and relay race. Then the race is on to match the colour of the flashes on the tagger with the targets. The tagger detects targets, scores on accuracy, and all game play cues are all visual and sounds so there are no language barriers. Ultra Dash is a different game each time it is played, and there’s always a time to beat. Suitable for both indoor and outdoor play, the game is perfect for solo gamers as well as those with a competitive streak, as it can be played solo, head-to-head, or team vs. team. Ultra Dash is available for retailers to order now.

Cheatwell Games 02392 524098 | Cheatwell Games has launched a range of new titles for 2018. Baffled is a game where players have just 60 seconds to memorise the position of the twelve symbol tiles but must prepare to be Baffled, as the symbols constantly swap and change positions around the board. Baffled is cleverly designed so that children and adults have an equal chance of winning. The game helps develop vital memory skills, improves concentration and is suitable for all the family. Bluff and banter are the main ingredients in Quirky, a quiz game with a difference. Quirky is a fast-moving, quick-thinking game for family and friends to enjoy. Players aren’t handicapped by their age or wisdom – it’s as much about confidence, wit, and a bit of banter to get players through, as it is about knowledge. This is a game where the player is in control of the answers, and with over 1,100 questions, there’s plenty of longevity in the content. Sharp-minded kids can take on and beat even the brainiest of adults. What’s in the box? is a party game for ages 12+. Players take turns to hide any mystery object from around the house inside the wooden box. Their opponent can then ask 21 yes/no questions to try to guess the contents. Players ask questions and rattle the box for clues, but with no peeking. Play can be one-on-one against the box keeper, or a race to be the first to guess against other opponents. There are double-sided picture cards to give examples of what could be guessed, as well as a guess counter to keep tabs on progress.

Hasbro 0208 569 1234 | New introductions for 2018 from Hasbro Gaming include Don’t Step in It, where players place mounds of brown compound on the game mat, then take turns spinning the spinner to find out how many steps to take across the mat while blindfolded. The player to make it to the end of the mat having stepped in the fewest poops wins. Also sure to provide laughs is Chow Crown, where the player who catches the most spinning snacks before the music stops wins. Classic favourites for kids and adults alike will see the arrival of Pie Face Cannon, as opponents take aim and launch whipped cream from the cannon, and the player behind the mask attempts to block it. Speak Out Showdown has players simultaneously trying to guess more correct phrases than their opponents, but the game’s electronic interrupter unit randomly determines when a player can speak…or not. For older players, Speech Breaker challenges teammates to guess what each other is saying whilst the microphone jams their speech with a built-in delay. Don’t Lose Your Cool tests players ability to stay calm under pressure. The wearable Cool-O-Meter measures their heart rate, as the opposing team determines how they’ll try to get the player flustered. Also hitting shelves is Pay Day which tests how long players can make their money last through a busy month by earning cash, finding bargains, and selling items for a profit. The player with the most cash in the end wins the game. Meanwhile, a wildly different Monopoly game is set to be the new favourite go-to for game nights, with Monopoly: Cheaters Edition featuring iconic Monopoly moments in which players are permitted to bend the rules and cheat to win.

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*NPD Full Year 2017

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

Games & Puzzles

Brainstorm 01200 445 113 |

IMC Toys 01904 720 908 | IMC is planning to add some new games to its portfolio for 2018 under its own brand, Play Fun. The range provides hours of fun for the whole family, with game play designed to inspire laughter and create memorable family moments. The new additions for autumn/winter 2018 include Truth Detector, a game targeted at the whole family and Plumber Clash, a children’s action game with the objective of racing against an opponent to avoid getting wet. Friends and family can be put to the test with Truth Detector. Players pick a question card from the pile and select another player to interrogate, then watch them sweat as they put their fingers on the detector. If they’re lying the machine will let the player know, but if it’s not sure and flashes amber, then the player will need to ask the question again. If the other player gets caught telling a lie, the siren sounds, a red light flashes and they lose a life. The winner is the last person remaining with life cards. The game is suitable for pre-school age children and above and will be available in autumn/winter 2018. Plumber Clash is a hilarious game that brings friends and families together. Using skill and speed, players must pump the plunger as fast as they can to unblock the pipe. The suspense builds as players try to rotate the pipe towards their opponent. The player who doesn't get splashed wins, and the game is suitable for pre-school age children and above. The game will be available in autumn/winter 2018. The latest games will join the successful Boom Ball, which launched in 2017. Players catch the balls in their head net as they fire randomly from the canon; the player who catches the most wins the game. The set includes two head nets, a canon and 12 balls, and is suitable for 6 years+, available now. Boom Ball was supported pre roll with intensive marketing including TV advertising, prime time kids TV sponsorship and influencer marketing campaigns, which led to strong sell through results.

Brainstorm successfully launched its games division in 2017, and this year sees the introduction of a brand-new game. Troll Mania is aimed at children aged six years and up and is a fun and exciting game of strategy, with one child playing the troll and up to five other players playing the goats. Players attempt to walk over the bridge before the troll pulls out all the bricks. Igloo Mania was a huge hit last year and continues into 2018. The game is full of skill and tension and needs the ultimate steady hand. 64 blocks of ice make up the igloo with Parker Pete balanced on top, and the aim of the games is to pull out individual blocks without toppling Pete. Each numbered block is added up at the end of the game, and the player who has used the most skill to extract the trickiest blocks wins. The game is suitable for ages 5+. Addict a Ball is exactly what is says – addictive. Aimed at players of all ages, the aim of the game is to complete the 3D maze, guiding the ball through twists and turns. The Addict a Ball 1 features 138 numbered stages, progressing through spirals, drops, swinging arms, and flips and slides. Addict a Ball 2 is a smaller hand-held ball with 100 stages to complete. Once players pick up Addict a Ball, they find it hard to put down. All games in the Brainstorm range will be supported by TV advertising throughout 2018 with extended bursts during Q4.

Bertoy 07748 150 906 | Crocodile Creek continues to uphold its reputation for innovation, as its new 2-sided puzzle range offers two puzzles for the price of one. The 2-sided Animal range features circular shaped puzzles with a choice of either a Monkey, Tiger, or Panda printed on one side and a selection of other animals on the reverse. The 2-sided House range has one side showcasing the façade of each house, while the other tackles the interior. These puzzles come in themes such as Little Pet Shop, Little House, and Sweet Shop. All are suitable for children ages 3+. Children can put their brain to the test with Mudpuppy's Mini Memory Match Games, as these easily portable mini cubes put an original spin on the classic memory game. The game develops matching skills, sharpens visual memory, focus and concentration. The convenient size of the boxes makes them perfect for party gifts, or for use on the go. Available themes are Outer Space, Mighty Dinosaurs, Enchanting Princess, Transportation, and Geometric Animals. Each box contains 24 pieces (12 pairs) and is suitable for pre-school children.

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

Games & Puzzles

Hacche 01242 241 765 | Building on the success of Cat Chaos the card game, Ginger Fox is excited to reveal Canine Chaos. The rules are the same, and the game features an A-List cast of ‘celebri-mutts’ for a fast and frantic card-swapping game. Ginger Fox is also extending its range of licensed TV games this year – from racy reality show Love Island to classic game show Blankety Blank, there’s something for everyone. Also new to the range is 5 Gold Rings. Based on the new ITV series, the licensed 5 Gold Rings card game demands speed, general knowledge, and pin-point accuracy – because as the money goes up the rings get smaller. Also launching in 2018, Maki Staki is a stylish sushi-themed stacking challenge for three to six players. Players need to collect sushi cards to make their maki, but need to be ready to roll with the action cards – will they fall foul of the Fatal Fugu or Wasabi Burn, or pass the buck with the help of the Conveyor Belt. Also available is The Great British Taxi Board Game. Players can challenge their local and general knowledge on the go, sound off like a real cabbie on a variety of subjects, and build up their fares and tips in a bid to earn the most during their shift.

Spin Master 01628 535 000 | Spin Master has its strongest ever line up of games for 2018. For spring there are a host of fun games for younger members of the family, including Wobbly Worm, LOL Surprise!, Jo Jo Siwa Bust a Bow Dance Game, plus others from popular licences including Hatchimals and Paw Patrol. Get up and move is big theme; JoJo Siwa Bust a Bow Dance Game encourages physical play through dance, movement and memorisation, whilst Wobbly Worm helps younger children to develop important skills such as hand-eye coordination, timing and patience. With some of the hottest licences on board, games such as Hatchy Matchy featuring the ever-popular Hatchimals characters, puts skill and memory to the test as Hatchimals fans race to see who can match the most and win. L.O.L. Surprise! is now a board game featuring loads of surprises, including unique gameplay and exclusive accessories that work with L.O.L Surprise! dolls. Players can collect and trade tokens to find out if they’ll be Merbaby, Queen Bee, Rocker or Diva. The Paw Patrol Memo Game is a classic matching game featuring the favourite Nickelodeon Paw Patrol characters. All these games are available now and Spin Master promises more games later in the year across the board.

Orchard Toys 01953 859526 | Orchard Toys has launched two new games and a preschool puzzle range, providing a mix of laughter and learning for children as young as three years up to primary school age. The Look and Find activity puzzle range for pre-school ages and older reinforces the company’s core values of learning and fun. Covering key pre-school topics including the alphabet, numbers, shapes and colours, each box contains two jigsaw puzzles. Children can use them together by matching the items shown on both for added play value and to reinforce learning. Money Match Café is the perfect educational game for 5-8 year olds, developing skills in addition and money handling, with plenty of imaginative play for added fun. The game encourages children to create a café scene using their own teddies, dolls and toys and use their role-play skills to serve food and count money. Dinosaur Lotto is a colourful, dinosaur-themed matching and memory game for children aged 3-7. There are two ways to play, with illustrated and blank boards for simple or more challenging gameplay. The game features a variety of dinosaur species for children to find and identify, perfect for dinosaur enthusiasts.

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Be the first to Break Free! Ignite your Mind®

The classic traffic jam logic game!

Games & Puzzles

John Adams 01480 414 361 | John Adams Leisure is expanding its established games portfolio for 2018 with a host of new lines for the whole family. Joining the range for autumn 2018 is Mr Pop. Players pick a card and race to quickly build Mr Pop’s face, matching the card, before the time runs out and he pops up, sending all his pieces flying. Also joining the John Adams action games portfolio this year is Hamster Race, the hilarious and adrenalin-fuelled action game. Players line up their hamsters on the starting grid, roll the dice and start the race. Players race around the track filling their hamster’s pouch with cheese, then make a dash for the wheel. The last Hamster to hang on and stay on the wheel wins. Players can also test their nerves with Tumbling Monkeys, as they pull out the sticks from the tree without letting the monkeys fall. Different colour monkeys score different penalty points. When all the monkeys are down, the player with the least wins. Fans of the world’s most perplexing puzzle can take on a new challenge with the Rubik’s 4x4 Cube. A new design allows fans to twist and turn smoother, faster, and stronger, while no stickers means no cheating. The Rubik’s range is also boosted with two new games, including Rubik’s Flip and Rubik’s Battle. An array of new fast and fun games will keep players’ minds ticking and their reactions super sharp, including Pointz, Grabolo, Slam IT! and Sneak Peek. 5 Gold Rings is a fun family board game - based upon the new ITV show hosted by Phillip Schofield. The goal is to place different sized rings onto picture cards, to circle where the player thinks the correct answer is. Smaller rings score more points. John Adams will be launching the official Strictly Come Dancing board game. Whatever their dance ability or experience, players can put themselves in the dancing shoes of both the contestants and the Strictly judges. With challenges and Strictly trivia, there’s something for all the family to enjoy. All key new launches will benefit from TV advertising and a full PR, social media, and digital plan.

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

Winning Moves 0207 262 9696 | For a speedy word game, Winning Moves has launched Lexicon-Go! The aim of the game is for players to race against each other to get rid of all of their playing card tiles by creating words, swapping letters and even adding their tiles onto other players’ words. This game comes in a portable bag, which makes it the perfect game for on the go and on holiday. Lexicon-Go! is suitable for all ages and is ideal for friends and families to play together. Winning Moves UK is an independently owned, Londonbased games company which owns and distributes a range of classic game brands such as Top Trumps, Regional Monopoly, Waddington’s Number One Playing Cards, Lexicon Go and Pass the Pigs. Winning Moves is also the exclusive licensee in Europe, Middle East, Australia and Africa for limited editions of Hasbro games including Monopoly, Cluedo, Risk, Guess Who and Trivial Pursuit.

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Games & Puzzles

Jumbo Games 01707 289 289 | Jumbo's next set of new releases starts off with three Wasgij Retro puzzles, including the re-release of the Original Retro 2: Happy Holidays, Destiny Retro 2: The Proposal, and Mystery Retro 2: Stop the Clock 1,000-piece puzzles. In June, Jumbo will release three new puzzles, including the Original 29 Catching Wedding Fever! and the Mystery 15 A Typical British BBQ! 1,000-piece puzzles. Also available this autumn/winter will be the Wasgij Christmas 14 Santa’s Little Helper’s! 1,000-piece puzzle. Continuing the strong growth of its Falcon deluxe range, Jumbo will be releasing 11 new puzzles this April, covering the traditional Falcon themes of Nostalgia, Scenery, Cottages, Animals and Transport, across varying piece counts from 200XL to 1,500 pieces and multiples in a box. Highlights for new April releases include Sunday on the Canal and The Gardener’s Cottage in 1,000-piece formats, as well as the multi-pack Village Life 2x1000-piece box set and Lambing Season 500XL piece count. New additions to Jumbo’s Jan van Haasteren collection will see three new releases in April and May, and there are a further seven new puzzles planned between June and September. Jumbo will also be expanding its licensed Adult Puzzle portfolio later this year with the release of Disney adult licensed puzzles. This includes Snow White and Bambi 1,000-piece movie posters, and to celebrate Mickey’s 90 Years, Jumbo will launch an eye-catching 1,000-piece montage puzzle that shows the magic of Mickey throughout the decades. The Peter Rabbit licence is the newest addition to Jumbo’s puzzle portfolio. The range covers both classic Beatrix Potter book and the new Movie artwork. Available now in time for Easter is the classic-style 4 Shaped Puzzles, Movie-style 4in1 Puzzle Box Set, and a Giant Floor Puzzle for both artwork styles. Coming this June will also be a 500 and 1,000-piece Peter Rabbit Puzzles, for older fans of the classic books. In the children’s licensed portfolio, Jumbo will be releasing puzzles for the popular new Disney Junior shows, Disney Puppy Dog Pals and Disney Vampirina, with a 4 Shaped Puzzles Box and 4in1 Puzzle Pack each. For the release of the hugely anticipated Pixar sequel Incredibles 2, the company will release a 100XL and 200XL Puzzle that perfectly fits the target age group for the animation with larger piece-counts and bigger puzzles.

Learning Resources 01553 819 380 | Sculptapalooza is a fast-paced, hands on party game that gets teams racing against the clock to sculpt their way through hilarious challenges for laugh-out-loud family fun. Incorporating best-selling Playfoam, two teams battle it out to mould the Playfoam into specified models, with team mates having to guess what the sculpture is. The first team rolls the dice to determine its sculpting category, flips the timer, and sculpts what’s shown on the card on the special sculpting mat. Sculpting battles combine the creativity of Playfoam with engaging, imaginative play, with players facing a variety of challenges as they make their creations. Challenges include: Straight up Sculpt – where players simply create the specified model; Put it on your Face – where players mould the Playfoam onto their face to bring the creation to life; Just close your Eyes – where creations are mastered with the player’s eye closed; Playfoam Props – where props are incorporated into the masterpiece; and Sculptor’s Choice – where anything in the player’s imagination can be built for their team mates to guess. Hours of fun can be had by children and adults alike as the game contains 200 challenge cards plus a further 20 blank challenge cards for custom clues, and as Playfoam is mess-free and never dries out, Sculptapalooza can be played time and time again. The game comes in eye catching window box packaging and comes complete with Playfoam, Sculpting mat, 200 challenge cards, 20 blank challenge cards for custom clues, scorecard, dice, and timer. Sculptapalooza is by Educational Insights and is available from Learning Resources.

Worlds Apart 0845 602 2119 | Worlds Apart’s newest active game is Monkey Mania. Taking traditional board games away from the table-top, Monkey Mania is a chimp challenge where the fastest wriggler wins. This high-energy game combines laugh out loud moments with active family fun, all in the aim of players shaking an ape off of their body in the fastest time possible. Featuring a plush monkey with an electronic sound unit, players must take it in turns to spin the spinner to see where to place the monkey’s hands. The spinner indicates different parts of the body, as well as a question mark where players are given the opportunity to place the monkey wherever they like; the perfect opportunity for stitching-up mum or dad with the trickiest and silliest positions. Once attached, players simply pull the monkey’s tail to start the timer. Players must wriggle and shake to escape the ape, while he makes crazy monkey sounds and clings on for dear life. The longer he’s on, the louder and crazier he becomes, with the aim of the game being to shake him off in the fastest time possible before he goes ape. Once the monkey has been shaken off, the player must run to where he lands and pull his tail to stop the timer. The monkey will then tell the player how many seconds they shook him off in and the player with the fastest time wins. But if the players aren’t quick enough to shake his grip within 25 seconds, the monkey will blow a raspberry to let them know he’s top banana. Monkey Mania will launch in the UK, Europe, and Australia from July 2018. The launch will be driven with a TV campaign, as well as digital and social media advertising targeting kids, parents and gift-givers.

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Fantastic new games & puzzles available now!

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PAUL LAMOND GAMES LIMITED 31 Newington Green, Islington, London N16 9PU Tel: 020 7254 0100 Fax: 020 7254 3400 Web:

Games & Puzzles

Accentuate 07748 184 525 |

Paul Lamond Games 020 7254 0100 | Games and Puzzles specialist Paul Lamond has already released a host of games and puzzles this spring, including new board game; Kersplatt! There are also four 250-piece puzzles starring some of Roald Dahl’s most loveable characters and two new card games; Now That’s What I Call Music and The World of David Walliams’ Flush Out the Rat, already on shelves. This month, Paul Lamond has even more new lines scheduled for release. Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar stars in a new board game for pre-schoolers; Let’s Feed the Hungry Caterpillar. Players move the colourful, 3D sculpted caterpillars from fruit to fruit, collecting a unique butterfly puzzle piece each time they stop to "eat." Players need to collect all five puzzle pieces and create a butterfly to win the game. Players mix and match the butterfly illustrations to create a different butterfly picture every game. Hot on the heels of the successful release of The Highway Rat Giant Floor puzzle, 4-in-1 Puzzle Set and Memory Card Game last autumn is a brand-new children’s board game. Starring Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s villainous storybook character; The Highway Rat, the fun and educational Stand and Deliver! board game has been created specifically for children aged 3 – 7 and their parents. The new trilogy of Murder Mystery 1,000-piece Puzzles featuring the Titanic, Sherlock Homes and Alfred Hitchcock, are much more than just jigsaws. The puzzle comes complete with a story to read included, then older children and adults can assemble the puzzle to discover the hidden clues and unleash the detective within to solve the crime. The Hanayama Brain Teaser Puzzles, renowned for their quality and difficulty, are set to challenge even the most proficient of puzzlers. The range of six cast metal puzzles is aimed at ages 12 and over and include the Enigma, the Vortex, and the Labyrinth. The first challenge is to take the puzzle apart, the next is to put it back together. These sturdy, solid-feeling Hanayama puzzles have many possible moves and combinations, but only one will provide the solution.

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

Vivid Imaginations 01483 449 944 | New to the games and puzzles category from Vivid Imaginations is Foxy Pants. The fox snaps up chickens and stuffs them into his pockets, but if there are too many chickens, his pants fall down and the chickens escape. Players rescue the chickens, return them to their chicken coop and try to catch the fox. Suitable for pre-school children and above, the game can be enjoyed by up to four players. Also new is Wally the Washer. Players watch Wally spin and take it in turns to press the button and watch Wally throw out the clothes, which they need to hang out, filling their washing line. But if they get the smelly sock, all the clothes go back into Wally. Players need to collect all their clothes to win the game. Word Bandit is a head spinning, word-spotting game where teams take on the one-armed bandit to find words, names, celebrities, and more. More answers mean more points, as players race round the board to win the game. Super Ski Jump is the ultimate trick challenge. Players earn points by jumping the farthest, doing tricks and sticking the landing as they tackle the toughest slope of all. It’s all in the timing, which players need to get just right to nail the jump and win the game. Also available is Escape Room the Game. Players can enjoy the mystery of an escape game in their own home. Players find themselves “locked in” and must find the codes to “escape” within 60 minutes, solving puzzles and riddles along the way. They can explore four different games. There is a new Nella the Princess Knight Race to Polkadot Mountain Game launching in autumn, where families race along the path to return the Polkadottie Dragon Baby to its mum, avoiding obstacles along the way. There are also new 4 in a Box Puzzles with large size puzzles depicting Nella, Trinket, Sir Garrett, and Clod.

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Games & Puzzles

Trends UK 01295 768 078 | Trends UK & Wind Designs are launching three exciting new games from Megableu. Supported by TV, marketing and PR campaigns, they will be available from summer 2018. The official Guinness World Record Challenges game is a major launch. As the world’s best-selling copyright book, with 138m copies sold in more than 100 countries, 2m YouTube subscribers, 12m Facebook followers and more than 21m annual visits to the Guinness World Records website, there is an enormous fan base for the new Guinness World Records Challenges game. Guinness World Record Challenges puts players’ knowledge about Guinness World Records to the test and challenges opponents to demonstrate record- breaking skills using everyday household items. Players compete to answer some of the 600 Guinness World Record question cards, but the crux of the game is to complete the challenges whilst out-performing their opponents. Players need to cross the finish line with three challenge cards to be the winner. In the game Evil Eye, each player faces one candle, and blows hard on the candle when it glows yellow to score points. Players need to hide when the Grim Reaper looks round, if he catches the player he’ll turn their candle red and stop them blowing it out for five seconds. When time runs out, the coffin lid pops open releasing the skeleton and the winning candle will flash. The game can be played in the dark for even more fun. In Waiter Rush, players need to be quick, keep their balance, and avoid dropping the glasses. The waiters goal is to get round the course as quickly as possible and deliver the ‘drinks’ to the restless customers’ table. The tray will wobble to put them off, and an unsteady hand makes the timer go faster. The aim of the game is to delivery as many glasses as they can safely; each glass equals tips, and the biggest pot of tips wins the game.

Tomy 01392 281 928 |

Cartamundi 01268 511 522 |

Despite the recent popularity of high tech games, traditional games such as those found in Tomy’s collection continue to remain firm favourites amongst families, as they encourage quality family time, bonding through play, stimulating communication and relationships. Tomy will expand its popular games collection with the addition of three releases this year. The company’s Games portfolio currently sits in the top five manufacturers in the children’s games category, with family favourites such as Pop Up Pirate and Screwball Scramble, as well as new games like Greedy Granny. New releases for autumn/winter include Run-Around Hamster. Suitable for two to four players, the aim of the game is to help Hammy store the most food. Players watch as Hammy the Hamster takes food from his house, storing it in the bedroom for safe keeping. Suitable for ages 4+. Also new to the collection is Burp the Baby, a hilarious game of chance where players take turns trying to burp the baby. If they burp him too much, however, they’ll be in for a surprise. Suitable for ages 4+. Puzzlers will love brain teaser Puzzle Wars. Suitable for ages 8 +, players can go head to head against a friend or challenge themselves with this fast-paced puzzle game. Players use the pieces to match the shapes and colours shown on the card. The first to finish and hit the buzzer wins. Tomy will support its new releases and hero lines with a multitouch point marketing campaign that combines TV, digital, PR, a targeted influencer campaign and retail resulting in better conversion.

Cartamundi’s award-winning Fundels range has been expanded with the new addition Clock Reading. These card sets allow kids to learn through play in a way that is fully aligned with the UK national curriculum. The company’s card brand Shuffle is going from strength to strength, with new additions in Shuffle Aqua and Shuffle Go joining the range for 2018. The waterproof, plastic Shuffle Aqua cards can stick to the side of the bath or bathroom tiles, allowing kids and their parents to enjoy card games during bath time. The Shuffle Go range allows for gaming on the go, providing a variety of iconic board games in card form. 2018 will see the company introduce Colour Addict. A best-selling game in France, this is a fast paced game where players are challenged to match words with the correct colours. Double Domino with Disney Princess and Rainbow Rummy with Minnie Mouse will also be added to the range. In time for the much anticipated movie release Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, another new addition is Jurassic World Number Rumble; where only the strongest dinosaur will survive. The Shuffle Fun range covers all major kids’ licences at pocket money price points, including Paw Patrol, Frozen, and My Little Pony. New licensed additions will include Incredibles 2 and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Finally, to celebrate the 90th anniversary of Mickey Mouse, the company is launching a Game Box and a Game Box Compendium, both presented in an eye-catching 1920’s retro box. The Game Box offers kids eight card games and 16 dice games, plus Yahtzee. The bigger Game Box Compendium offers all these dice and card games, plus Happy Families, Dominoes, Yahtzee and Pairs. Make My Game is now live, and the platform makes game design accessible to anyone, by allowing budding inventors to create and their very own board game, complete with playing pieces. Users simply upload their design, and Cartamundi will prepare and manufacture the game, ready to ship to any address.

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RRP £5.99

NEW addition s our pre- to school range!

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Call: 01494 538999

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The celebrity dog card game


© 2018 Hacche Retail Ltd




Canine Chaos available September 2018... Woof! Building on the success of Cat Chaos, we are excited to unleash... Canine Chaos! The rules are the same, but the celebrities have really gone to the dogs.


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Games & Puzzles

Tactic Games 01483 332 070 | Tactic Games has announced the launch of a range of exciting new product development in the games and puzzles category this year. Tactic partnered with Finnish interior designer Eero Aarni to create Mini Home, a 2-in-1 toy that is also a puzzle. Suitable for both children and adults, the Mini Home is available in two sizes, the Mini Home and the Big Mini Home. Mini Home includes a dining set with 12 chairs, two benches, a table, and wall pieces, and Big Mini Home includes furniture for different rooms such as the bedroom, living room and terrace. It also includes the iconic dog which was inspired by Aarni’s own innovative furniture designs. Providing a puzzle element too, all the pieces combine together in a certain brain-teasing way to fit back into the clear display box. Mini Home and Big Mini Home are available in a range of vivid colours or simply white. The Great Tour is an example of a Gateway Strategy Game, straddling the boundaries between family and table top gaming, where players travel their way around Europe in an attempt to visit the most places and attend the most events. Ninja Rush is a fast paced, quick reaction game which is based on ancient Sensei training principles. The Ninja time warriors are trained to harness time and their Sensei trains them to react to see the future before it happens. Players can experience this in gameplay, as they flip the Sensei cards and quickly choose who to flip, and to where, before the sand runs out. Successful runs win Ninja stars but players must watch out for the change or direction cards and be Ninja focused at all times. Another new game is Jungle Runners, a children’s action game which captures the traditional play value of board games in a vibrantly coloured, animal themed 3D backdrop.

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

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PoTaTo To find out more about stocking OK Play or Foooty, please contact

Toy World 58


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From the team that brought you


AW18 Enquiries to: Fiona Fraser-Bell, Accentuate Games Ltd Email:


New York Toy Fair

New York state of mind John Baulch reports from the New York Toy Fair


his year’s New York Toy Fair was the 115th in the event’s history and was once again a complete sell-out. A total of 1049 companies exhibited, ranging from established companies to firsttime exhibitors, who always bring fresh energy and passion to proceedings. In all, 14,090 people visited the show, including just over 11,000 ‘trade guests’ – classified as retailers, wholesalers, entertainment executives, importers, and buying groups. The show attracted 3,802 international visitors; the top five countries represented at the show, not including the US and Canada, were China, United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Mexico and Japan. The show has always offered a valuable gateway into the US toy market, which remains world’s largest toy market at $27 billion - although it is widely believed that China will overtake this figure at some stage over the coming years. Many global toy suppliers and retailers find compelling reasons to attend, not least because the US toy industry is on the rise again. The long-term giants of the US toy business, Hasbro and Mattel, are being challenged by rapidly growing companies such as Spin Master, MGA and WowWee, while operations such as Wicked Cool, Basic Fun and Play Monster all increased their respective turnovers substantially last year. With all of these companies exhibiting, the show offers visitors an accurate snapshot of the current state of the US toy market, all under one roof. Unlike other global toy shows, a significant proportion of visitors to the New York Toy Fair emanate from outside the traditional toy industry retail and supplier base; specifically, many attendees come from major national media outlets and financial analyst companies. It is this demographic which ultimately keeps the show

anchored in New York; given the propensity for the city – and thus the show – to be impacted by bad weather in February, there have been suggestions that the event would benefit from a move to sunnier climes, such as Florida or California. Whilst a change in location would not adversely impact retail attendance, it would certainly preclude many media representatives and analysts from visiting, and thus the show will remain in New York for the foreseeable future. The American market grew by a modest 1% in 2017, although – given the global retail headwinds and the performance of toys in other mature markets – this was largely viewed as a respectable performance. According to Toy Association president Stephen Pasierb, “2017 will be remembered as the year of LOL! Surprise and Fingerlings. Sales of toys over $100 were softer, while licensing was also a challenging area for the US market, especially with the summer movies underperforming. But overall, we were happy with where we ended up in 2017.” Amazon continued to exert major pressure on the US bricks and mortar retail channel, and whilst the stellar growth of online sales was by no means the only factor behind Toys R Us filing for bankruptcy protection in the autumn, it certainly didn’t help the situation. At the time of going to press, the future of Toys R Us remains unclear; while it has officially announced that all 753 stores will close or be sold, and all stock will be liquidated, there is still a slim chance that a deal can be struck to salvage part of the US operation, possibly by combining 200 or so US stores with the Canadian operation. Whatever happens, the fate of Toys R Us will have a huge impact on the US toy market in 2018 and beyond. Unlike the UK, where Toys R Us had specialist competition in the form of Smyths and The Entertainer, the US market is devoid of

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a national retail specialist who would stand to benefit from the current situation. Estimates have suggested that if no deal is struck, as much as 70% of Toys R Us’ turnover would be split between Amazon and Walmart. There is also a concern that the disappearance of Toys R Us will result in American suppliers being forced to severely curtail their range plans; with major retailers such as Walmart and Target stocking significantly fewer SKUs, a cutback of up to 30% in the number of products being developed has been predicted. In particular, the retailer’s demise would have a major impact on small and medium toy suppliers, many of which relied on Toys R Us for distribution. It may come as a surprise that there was a real buzz about this year’s show that over-rode any negativity surrounding the Toys R Us tribulations. Nowhere was this buzz more evident than at the TOTY Award ceremony, a glamorous upscale event attended by 700 people. Interestingly, the overall Toy of the Year award was shared for the first time ever; the joint recipients were WowWee’s Fingerlings and MGA’s LOL Surprise, which were both worthy winners. In some ways, it is easy to see why it was hard to choose between the pair; LOL won the US sales battle in 2017, while Fingerlings arguably triumphed in the media arena, making a split decision the fairest result. Predictably both ranges have been widely copied, with counterfeit products flooding the global market in the second half of 2017, a problem that remains a key focus for the Toy Association, according to Stephen Pasierb: “IP Protection remains a key area, while we also need to tell the story about how seriously the industry takes data privacy and protection.” Next year’s event will take place from 16th-19th February.



Discover the new Fundels world!

In stores Available from Jan Now!uary!

Fresh Untamed WowWee


Each month Fresh sets out to find the latest products that will have toy retailers reaching for the phone. In April we have new releases from: Liberty House Toys, Canal Toys, Kids@Play & WowWee.

Biobuddi building blocks Liberty House Toys

0203 598 5119 |

0151 479 3135 |

The latest addition to WowWee’s successful Fingerlings family, the Untamed Raptors are fierce and unpredictable dinosaurs - a world away from their Fingerlings cousins. Kids can choose whether their raptor is friend or foe; a shake or poke will unleash their ferocious side, causing the raptors to roar, hiss, and chomp. However, if kids pet their noses the raptors can be tamed, and will hum, coo, and purr. Four different characters are available, each with its own personality: Stealth, Blaze, Fury, and Razor. Complete with snapping jaws and gripping claws, the interactive dinosaurs react to touch, motion, and sound with over 40 different sounds and animations. Distributed by Jazwares, Untamed will be launched with high-level global marketing support, including YouTube influencer videos, TV campaigns and a global PR campaign, including UK specific activity securing reviews, features and social media support. Untamed Raptors are available now.

Made in the Netherlands, Biobuddi building blocks are made from green polyethylene using the leftovers of the sugar cane plant, making them completely recyclable. These new ‘green’ biobased building blocks contain 0% oil-based chemicals; the raw materials are derived from plants, not oil. What’s more, no oil-based chemicals are used during the manufacturing process to enhance the performance or colour of the products. The packaging, stickers, instructions and glue are also 100% biobased. Liberty House Toys has been appointed as the exclusive UK distributor for the Biobuddi brand. Suitable for children from 18 months to six years, each set also includes a manual with educational game ideas. With 13 themed sets to choose from and more on the way, the building blocks provide sustainable, biobased play, giving parents a green option at retail and helping to protect the environment.

So Glow DIY range, Canal Toys 07492 411 142 | Canal Toys has announced the UK launch of its So Glow DIY range. Simple and mess free, this comprehensive range of DIY kits enables children to create and customise their own light-up glitter glow jars. Each set in the range is simple to use, comes with everything needed, and includes a collectible character. Available on shelves from August, the So Glow DIY range is on trend, affordable, collectible and mess free. Paul Clark, head of UK for Canal Toys, commented: “The So Glow DIY range reflects our ability to spot future trends, design, manufacture and launch a range ready to support our partners for peak season. We will be fully supporting this new range with a comprehensive marketing and media campaign in 2018.” Arriving in August, customers can place orders now for the So Glow DIY range which includes: Magic Jar Studio, Vanity Case, Mini Kits, and individual jars that are ideal as impulse purchases.

WRC Slot Car Racing Sets Kids@Play 01423 611047 | Kids@Play introduces its 1:43 Slot Car Racing Sets, in partnership with the World Rally Championship (WRC). Four sets are available, and all sets include two official liveried vehicles with working headlights. Each set allows for a minimum of four track layouts, with differing track pieces to bring the action to life. New entry to the range, Ice Rally Cup Set, puts the thrills of WRC racing into the hands of fans. The thumb controllers include a boost function to add the acceleration impact that drivers need to be champions. There are three further sets in the range, with the highest priced set featuring 8m of track featuring double loops, a super banked track, chicane pieces, cross track, bridge, and lap counter. All the sets are competitively priced and will be supported by marketing working alongside the real-life events, with the Welsh WRC event taking place from 4th to 7th October.

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Pocket Money & Collectibles

Playing into their hands

During a tough 2017 for toys, collectibles continued to dominate the marketplace, providing year-round sales and impulse purchase options to ultimately provide one of the biggest toy retail success stories of the year. Rachael Simpson finds out more about the raft of new products available for 2018.


PD results show that collectibles grew by a massive 17% in 2017, and as a category was responsible for 9% of the overall value of the market and 19% of all units sold. Referred to by insiders as “an unstoppable force within the industry”, the popularity of collectibles shows no sign of letting up, and year after year the category is seeing innovative new product hit the shelves. An emerging trend is slow-rise foam. Retailers have reported strong sales of Character Options’ Soft’n Slo Squishies and Cake Pop Cuties ranges, while Bandai’s Smooshy Mushy range, featuring pets that have had an amusing accident with food, reached No. 5 new property for January and No. 3 new collectible property. Whilst it may seem like yet another craze to appear from thin air, Nic Alridge, general manager at Bandai, explains otherwise. “The slow rise phenomenon has actually been bubbling under for some time now in places like Japan. Previously, the only way fans of the feeling could get slow rise foam product was through the likes of eBay and Alibaba. This is often substandard product, and not tested to EU regulations. However, demand for slow rise collectibles has increased and though the craze may have started in the Far East, it’s now taking the UK market by storm.” Smooshy Mushy will see a second wave of product launched at the end of March. “With Smooshy Mushy now in the mass market, we are satisfying consumers’ needs with safe, fully tested and quality products that retailers will benefit from stocking,” says Nic. “We have five waves of Smooshy Mushy launching this year, play sets coming out for autumn/winter, a different ‘species’ for fans to look forward to, plus a new range which will appeal to a different demographic – watch this space.” The reveal/unboxing trend has also had a huge impact on the collectibles category, with today’s kids often referred to as ‘the unboxing generation’. Social media and platforms such as YouTube have increased the demand for these toys exponentially,

Freeze. “The concept of rivalries fits really nicely with the super hero element of the collection,” says Ben Harper, UK & Ireland director, Magic Box Toys. “It’s great to be able to use the genre in this way, and kids have been completely engaged with this part of the concept. There is real fun and intrigue in discovering a character, checking to see who the rival may be and then hunting or swapping with friends to match up the pairs. It’s all about creating mini-benchmarks within the overall collection.” Anyone who has ever searched the aisles of a big toy store looking for a tiny toy will know Bandai, Smooshy Mushy how elusive they can be, so effective POS solutions that grab shoppers’ attention are key for with products such as MGA’s L.O.L Surprise!, which retail success. “FSDUs and other won Overall Toy of the Year at the Toy Industry store decorations are needed to help certain ranges Awards 2017, leading the charge. stand out,” advises Nic Aldridge. “At Bandai, we feel “This will be another huge year for MGA very strongly that small products like collectibles Entertainment and the collectibles category,” and pocket money toys need POS solutions that asserts Andrew Laughton, senior vice president, entice the customer over to look at them and pick MGA. “We think there is success ahead for this them up. The customer also needs to be able to find sector, and we’re always looking to offer something the product easily, especially if they have seen it new and operate beyond one specific category. We online and gone out to buy it at a bricks & mortar recently introduced Moj Moj, and have further new retailer. These toys by their very nature are low launches coming up in the second half of this year. priced, smaller products, so they can be very easy to These will see us target a slightly different audience miss, especially in medium to large stores.” to our current collectibles offering, and we’ll build And Ben Harper agrees. “Visibility and display on the learnings and successes of brands such as are really important factors,” he says. “It’s an L.O.L. Surprise!” obvious point, and of course everyone wants the Elsewhere, reveals that involve dissolving, best positions in stores.” hatching or growing are also popular. Tobar offers a Retailers should also consider the idea of range of toys encased within eggs or substances that swapping events, if they haven’t done so already. dissolve in water, including on-trend mermaids, Once the mainstay of the trading card community, unicorns and dinosaurs. “Unwrapping something such events lend themselves to any collectibles can be exciting, but so too is watching something range; where you have kids’ searching for a slowly hatch, or even dissolve in water,” notes David particular character or card, you have a potential Mordecai, chief executive of Tobar. “This also helps customer, and holding a session at your store will to add additional fun – and value – to lower priced drive footfall, encourage repeat purchases and pocket money toys.” increase loyalty to your shop. Win, win, win – or is Each super hero character in Magic Box Toys’ that got, got, need? collectibles range Super Zings has a rival to collect Over the next few pages, we take a look at the which further drives pocket money purchases; most collectible new pocket money toys, and this orange Mr C’s rival is Jack the Juicer, while hair year’s biggest crazes. dryer Ultra Dryer is the rival of ice cube Brain

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t: 01937 586 237

t: 01420 593593

t: 01403 251286


Pocket Money & Collectibles

Got, got, knead Toy World spoke to Aaron Muderick – AKA Crazy Aaron – about the company’s popular range of Thinking Putty, the importance of stocking the real deal, and why the product remains so popular in the marketplace. Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty – is it a craze, a collectible, or one of those products that straddles the categories?

have seen recently in the news. What advice do you have for retailers on stocking quality branded putty?

I’ve been making Thinking Putty for 20 years, and in that time it’s been called all of those things. The amazing thing about Thinking Putty is that it can be whatever you want it to be—a sculpting compound, a creativity enhancer, or even a stress reliever. I think it can be different things to different people. While kids who are new to the line may call it a craze, some of our fans who have 100 tins or more would definitely call it a collectible. Ultimately, I’m in the third camp. I think that Thinking Putty straddles the categories and that’s one of the reasons I still get so excited about making it. There’s always something new to discover.

My advice would be to never compromise on quality when it comes to children’s products. With many of these knockoff products, you just don’t know what you’re getting. Safety and compliance to international standards should be the bare minimum, but even those aren’t guaranteed with copycat putties. Crazy Aaron’s is not only the brand, we’re also the manufacturer. We make Thinking Putty with high-quality ingredients right here in the US, and I personally oversee many steps in our process. Local manufacturing has also enabled me to give back to the community in a real and tangible way. We employ over 800 people with special needs and they are such a big part of our success. They love working with our putty and put a lot of care and attention into their work. I believe it shows; our product has a lot of soul.

Crazes often spawn copycat products such as the magnetic putty, containing arsenic, that we

Timing is everything How do you make your ranges stand out in such a crowded market? Firstly, you have to price these ranges correctly, to ensure they are attractive for consumers. Impactful design and artwork lifts the product from the shelf and helps to catch the eye. Most importantly, we always have stock to sell.

Do you see putty, slime, unicorns, poo and the like as crazes, or are they trends that will have a longer shelf-life? Any product always has a shelf life, but there are steps you can take to help that product remain popular for as long as possible. We regularly refresh our ranges; offering something a little bit new and different extends the popularity of our lines, keeps us on top of the game and means that we make the most of each craze. We’ve

Why does Crazy Aaron’s have such longevity in a crowded marketplace? I think a big part of it is that we love what we do. We put a lot of thought into every tin we make and I really think that ends up in our final product. Also, the universal appeal of Thinking Putty across people of all ages and backgrounds never ceases to amaze me. We get so many stories from folks all over the world letting us know how they’ve used Thinking Putty to relieve stress, have fun, and be more creative. From couples who’ve met because of their shared love of Thinking Putty to kids coping with serious illness and trauma who use it as a therapeutic tool, we are always amazed at the deep impact Thinking Putty can have on people’s lives. To me, that impact is just as much a measure of success as our business achievements - perhaps even more so.

Toy World spoke to Martin Grossman, MD of H. Grossman, about the current craze for all things poo, putty and unicorns, concerns regarding counterfeits and copies, and what’s in store for the category this year.

already had two years of success with our slime products, having researched and developed them way ahead of the pack. There is no reason slime shouldn’t remain a strong line for us throughout 2018.

is stuff out there which is unsafe, as has been well publicised recently. At Grossman, we test all our products comprehensively, and display a CE Mark. We are honest about our products too, which increases their viability.

What’s the trick to knowing when to get in and when to get out of a really hot line?

Are there any new launches which you think will make a particular impact on the category this year - is there another Fidget Spinner waiting in the wings?

If I knew that I’d be a billionaire!

Overall, how do you see the pocket money and collectibles category faring this year – another successful year, or has the market become over-saturated? The market is always flooded with copy cats; that’s simply the score in today’s market. As it is tight and fiercely competitive, people jump onto the most successful bandwagons. But there

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There most certainly is – but it’s far too early to let you know what it is, in case it is copied.

What’s more important: the right product, the right price, the right retail margin or the right timing? They are all relevant, but I personally think that timing is the most important factor.

Pocket Money & Collectibles

Vivid Imaginations 01483 449944 |

Jazwares 020 3598 5119 | Roblox went offline last year with a new toy line from Jazwares designed to power imagination in the same way Roblox inspires participants on the online platform to express their creativity. Fans can take apart the characters in the physical toy line and mix and match parts to create new characters, just like they can in Roblox’s virtual world. The collectible characters are based on the creations of some of the most popular community developers. Following the success of Roblox series one toys in 2017, Jazwares has now launched series two, including 24 collectible blind boxes which are available at Smyths, Toys R Us, The Entertainer, Tesco, Asda and other retailers. The blind boxes contain a mystery figure, accessories, collector’s checklist and an exclusive virtual item code for Roblox users to redeem online. Series three toys will be available from Easter 2018. New Roblox toys for 2018 will include new characters, vehicles, play sets and a comprehensive offering for the girl gamers, supported by heavyweight marketing. Roblox is the largest social platform for play, allowing children to imagine, create, and play together in immersive 3D worlds. Over 22m user-generated online games have been produced on the Roblox platform, with over 64m players visiting Roblox every month to create adventures, play games, role-play, and learn with friends in a family-friendly environment. Roblox is accessible on all modern smartphones, tablets, desktops, Xbox One, Oculus Rift, and other popular VR platforms.

Ooshies are squishy mini figures that double up as pencil toppers, allowing kids to collect all of their favourite heroes and villains. Licences include Marvel, DC Comics, WWE, Pixar and Disney Princess, and the collectibles are available as blind bags, four packs, and seven packs. Best Furry Friends (BFFs) are furry fashionistas with a bestie theme. There are 54 BFFs to collect including furries, exotics, fluffy tails and ultra-exotics. The range includes Mystery Packs, BFF Squad Packs, Deluxe Packs and the Bestie Doll. BFF will be launched with an extensive marketing campaign including webisodes, TV and digital. Micro motorised critters that scurry around, there are 24 different Übals to collect, available as Blind Bags, the Mama and Babies Set, and Giant Mama. Übals will be TV supported with TV and digital. With Pop A Lotz Surprise Pop, kids can push, pop and see what they’ve got. Each Pop A Lotz Surprise Pop contains secret bagged items including a scented 2” plush, collector stickers, foodie plush and pom poms. Squishamals are plush covered squishy characters. Kids can collect 16 different Squishamals characters and enjoy their sweet tropical scent. Also available from Vivid’s collectible portfolio are Stickits, urban vinyl style sticker dispensers, each containing 100 stickers to fire out and collect. Kids can choose from Disney’s Frozen, Disney Princess and My Little Pony. Crayola Washimals Pets can be coloured again and again. Washimals Dog and Cat packs come with two Washimals Pets characters, three Washimals markers and a Scrub Brush. Kids can colour in the pets with the Washimals markers (or any Crayola Washable Marker pen) and then wash under the tap with the scrub brush to clean the pet before colouring again. The Washimals Tub Playset completes any Washimals Pet collection and features four new Washimals Pet characters, six Washimals Markers, and a working bath tub and shower. The Washimals range will be TV advertised at key periods in the autumn/ winter season.

Trends UK 01295 768 078 | Trends UK introduce its new surprise reveal range, Sweet Pups, which lets kids discover a puppy inside scented croissants, macaroons and sticky buns. The realistic pretend pastries can be turned into cuddly plush puppies simply by turning them inside out. There are 12 Sweet Pups to collect, each presented in a pastry-style pack, with the entire range available from late spring. The collectible toys are based on the popular game and YouTube hit. Around 60% of British 0-14 year olds have downloaded, and 124m games are played a month in the UK. The game translates perfectly into a toy line with many different skins which mimic the game. For 2018 Trends UK is expanding the range with new items. The Build-a-Slither lets collectors construct their own creature with connectable colourway pieces, creating unique skins just like in the game. Available as a Blind Bag Assortment with pieces to make one Slither, and a Multi-Pack Assortment which has four buildable Slithers including a mystery one, the Build-a- Slither range comes with rare and ultra-rare colourways in the collection, allowing kids to make ultra-desirable creatures of their own.

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Pocket Money & Collectibles

Magic Box Toys 01403 251 286 | SuperZings – Rivals of Kaboom! is the latest collectible range from Magic Box Toys, the company behind Star Monsters and Zomlings. SuperZings are everyday objects brought to life in a comic Hero vs. Villain rivalry theme. There are more than 80 multi-coloured characters to collect, each with a matching rival which adds a new dimension to the collectible mechanic. When kids unwrap the hero orange Mr C they’ll want to find his rival, Jack the Juicer. Discover an ice cube, and they’ll need to find the hairdryer. There are 36 regular characters available in two different colour-themes, plus six Silver and two Gold Rare, and One Enigma Super Rare SuperZing. The figures all have their own superpower and profile, use collectible pocketmoney-friendly Supercars to get around (eight to collect) and live in Hideouts (eight to collect), which can also be used to launch characters into the air. The core collectible range includes Blind bags containing one SuperZing, Hideouts including one SuperZing (eight to collect), and Supercars including one SuperZing (eight to collect). There is also a Starter Pack, plus a Blister Pack containing four SuperZings, two Hideouts and an exclusive SuperDisc Blaster. In addition, there’s an even wider range of toys, such as the Kaboom Trap, which includes two exclusive SuperZings, and a Mission Pack which provides hours of play potential. Backed by a marketing campaign including TV adverts, a comprehensive social media campaign, sampling activity and a superhero school initiative, SuperZings has got off to a strong start, and Magic Box Toys expects significant sales growth as the campaign rolls into spring.

Posh Paws 01268 567317 | Posh Paws International introduces the new Disney Collection to the pocket money aisle. These glittery plush toys feature fan favourites from both Disney’s back catalogue and most recent films. Released in ‘squads’ of six, each character features super large eyes that attract collectors’ attention. Released to stores in waves, the Disney collection will have fans waiting on each new squad to hit the shelves. Squad A’s characters launched in January and included Cinderella, Marie from the Aristocats, Minnie Mouse, Dumbo, Winnie the Pooh, and Tigger. Squad B will feature Bambi, Snow White, Mickey Mouse, Simba from The Lion King, Patch from 101 Dalmatians, and Eeyore. The fresh new look and feel offers fans a range of plush priced as pocket money collectibles, allowing them to build their own #DisneySquad. POS stands are also available, ideal for displaying new characters as they are continually released throughout 2018.

Zuru 01604 401 719 | Zuru has revealed its brand new collectible line, Smashers. Each Smashers character is housed inside an innovative red Smashball. Kids can only discover which ones they’ve collected by smashing the Smashball open, thanks to an on-trend surprise opening mechanic created by Zuru. Once unboxed, children can battle, collect and score with their Smashers, as each one has its own Smash Point Value which allows for extended play. Series 1 is based on the world’s most popular sports, during a year that will play host to a number of global sporting events including the Football World Cup in June. The range includes both good and bad sport characters, along with rare Sports and Golden Trophies to find, and all Smashers appear on the accompanying collectors guide and game sheet. With the theme of sporting events, Zuru aims to inspire young children all over the world to take part in their favourite sports. Aimed at both pocket money and birthday money budgets, SKUs include the Smashers one pack, three pack, eight pack, and bigger items including the Collectors Tin and Smashers Team Bus, which transforms into a football field on which kids can shoot Smashers. Incorporating an element of unboxing, which remains hugely popular globally, Smashers collectibles take the revealing trend to a new level. Smashers can also easily encapsulate any trending theme or licence. Smashers launched on Boxing Day and was backed by a global marketing push spanning trade support, traditional on- and offline media, unboxing influencer outreach, events, sampling and social media, as well as strong presence at retail.

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Taking over playgrounds from JuNE 2018 FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT SALES ON 020 8324 6160

Pocket Money & Collectibles

Spin Master 01628 535 000 | With a major industry award under its belt already this year for Hatchimals Colleggtibles, Spin Master is introducing further innovation to the collectibles market with new seasons, characters and brands. Hatchimals Colleggtibles continues to offer new extensions at low price points, with positive momentum already behind the recently launched Season 2, heading into the launch of Season 3 which follows in May. The Season 2 promotion offers kids the chance to find the Golden Hatchimal. Finders of the rare Golden Lynx character will be able to claim a limited edition box of six Golden Eggs and a goodie bag, plus one finder will win the entire Season 2 Hatchimals Colleggtibles set. For 2018, Colleggtibles have been joined by Flush Force, another innovative collectible range from Spin Master. Flush Force has already proved a strong seller following its UK Toy Fair launch in January. Flush Force creatures come from deep inside the bowels of Flushville and have been mutated by toxic sludge. With 150 to collect, kids can now start their own collection of Flushies. To reveal whether they have a common, rare or ultra-rare figure under the toilet seat, they must fill the toilet’s tank with water, shake it up and peel away the toilet cover. Both ranges are being supported by advertising and PR activities, including influencer programmes featuring Twitter parties which have seen them trending on the social media platform. To extend the entertainment value beyond the reveal, episodes are available on YouTube for Hatchimals Colleggtibles and Flush Force. Kids explore Hatchtopia while learning more about the common, rare and ultra-rare characters within Colleggtibles Season 2, and can also go in search of adventures with the Flush Force characters.

GP Flair 020 8643 0320 | This year sees a whole host of new pocket money collectibles to discover from GP Flair and Just Play. Season 2 of the collectible scented mini plushies range Pikmi Pops, from Moose, is due to launch in mid-spring. Season 2 will reveal a refreshed Single Pack, Surprise Pack and Jumbo plush assortment. Launching in summer, Season 3 will include new scents and more surprises to reveal, while April sees the launch of Pikmi Pops PushMi Up, which come with an explosive confetti surprise. Season 9 of the collectible brand Shopkins launched in February with the wild style theme. This autumn, the Shopkins No. 1 megabrand transforms itself once again with a new theme for fans to enjoy. Also joining the Shopkins franchise will be additional character vehicles for Cutie Cars, including innovative colour change cars and the interactive Wash N Go play set. Autumn will also see a new collection called Shopkins Lil’ Secrets; kids have to crack the code on the Lil’ Secrets map to unlock a world containing the littlest of Shoppies and Shopkins yet. Another new addition to the collectibles portfolio is the new Kekilou range. Inspired by fashion, the collectible Kekilous mini bags transform into mini dolls, with a secret make up compartment hidden inside. The K Cutie Mini Bags are the entry point to the range, and also available are Double Mini Bags and the K-Vanity Mini Playsets, which contain a vanity case, makeup, mirror, and mini bag. New this spring, Glimmies Aquaria has taken the star fairies and added a touch of underwater magic. In autumn, the Glimmies are then moving from underwater to a new ice world with the launch of Glimmies Polaris. This new polar theme brings with it a new play pattern; kids have to blow on their Glimmies to activate the light-up feature. Finally, the collectible property Grossery Gang is also back this spring, with a Bug army invasion to contend with and 150 new characters to collect. For autumn, the Grossery Gang will be calling upon allies from throughout the ages in a new Time Wars theme.

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Interplay 01628 488 944 | Mermaids continue to be a popular trend and play pattern. For spring, Interplay has introduced Mermaid Charm Shells to the successful My Mermaid Lagoon product range. Already popular, with positive reviews across social media, the Mermaid Charm Shells are the home of a pretty mermaid. Pocket-Size, each shell comes with beads, a sea creature metal charm, and a key to create a bracelet. Kids can keep the mermaid and special treasures safe by locking the oyster shell with the key on the bracelet. There are three Mermaid Charm Shells to collect, each home to a different mermaid and sea creature charm. Mermaid Charm Shells are supported with TV campaigns for spring and Easter, plus PR and social media activity intended to build awareness and grow the fan base for the new range.

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Pocket Money & Collectibles

Bandai 020 8324 6160 | Bandai’s 2018 portfolio includes leading squishy collectibles range, Smooshy Mushy, with slow-rise appeal. The popular range promises strong sales at retail, and this year Bandai will introduce a raft of new brands that will create added interest in the pocket money aisle. After the successful launch of Smooshy Mushy Series 1 in December 2017, Series 2 is hotly anticipated, when the new collection of scented and squishy collectibles will take on the Do-dat Donuts theme. Eight new characters and their besties will be available to collect. Following this, the Smooshy Mushy YOLO Froyo, featuring a whole new colour-change element, will join the range. Also from the creators of Smooshy Mushy comes a new breed of creatures Smashy Mashy. This collectible range will appeal to lovers of all things gross whilst also giving boys the chance to get in on the slow-rise foam action. Smashy Mashy Pets come in slime reveal canisters with blind surprises packed inside, and will be available from July. In late spring comes Silly Squeaks. These palm-sized collectible musical pets play five songs and 16 silly sounds, and can be collected and used together to learn musical notes and create tunes. Series 1 has eight characters displayed in a colourful CDU, each with their own look and personality - Tubbers is a country music maestro, while Slurps is a rock legend. Taking two of the biggest trends currently and combining them into one pocket money collection are Poo-nicorns. These bold and bright impulse-purchase characters come in a CDU of Squishiez, egg encased Droplingsz, or as a variety of affordable plush. Rounding out Bandai’s new collectible range is Pomsies, collectible Pom-Pom pets with soft fur faces and a wraparound tail. The characters are interactive, and will tell their owners when they are happy, sleepy, or hungry with sounds and colour-change eyes.

Golden Bear 01952 608 308 | Building on the strength of its success as the top new plush property (NPD Full Year 2017), Golden Bear’s Bush Baby World collection, which launched in autumn/winter 2017, will be expanding further this year. The introduction of the Blossom Meadow Bush Babies for spring/ summer brings new patterns, sparkly detailing and softer-thanever fabrics into the collection. There are six Blossom Bush Baby characters to collect, along with two Scented Blossom characters – Lili and Rosi. They have a blossom scent and come with a flower shaped brush for their long hair and tails. Easter will see the arrival of a new royal in Bush Baby World Princess Blossom. This character comes with a glittery flower pod, brush and flower wand, and has long hair, a flower crown and a glittery tummy. The hero line for autumn/winter is the Shimmer Palace. Home to Princess Melina, this play set will measure over 70cms in height and plays three Bush Baby World songs. With a multitude of features including a lightshow, royal throne, dancefloor, secret storage compartments and an exclusive Bush Baby, plus a palace cat with her very own pod basket, it’s the ideal place for kids to hold a royal party. Bush Baby World was the No. 3 Traditional Plush property in 2017, with three Bush Baby World items making it into the top 10 Traditional Plush items in December 2017.

Asmodee 01420 593 593 | The Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG) enjoyed another positive year with Asmodee UK (formerly Esdevium Games) in 2017, which saw it named Pocket Money Toy of the Year at the Toy Industry Awards in January. This award reflects a period of sustained success in recent years, and interest in the product shows no signs of waning across 2018. The brand’s strong results have continued with the February release of the new Sun & Moon – Ultra Prism expansion. This set of over 150 cards is the first to spotlight the recently released Pokémon Ultra Sun and Pokémon Ultra Moon video games, and introduces a game-changing new Prism Star mechanic while featuring Pokémon like Solgaleo, Lunala, and two different forms of Necrozma. Support for the Pokémon TCG will continue with the May release of the Sun & Moon – Forbidden Light expansion. This set features eight powerful new Pokémon-GX and five Prism Star cards, as well as the coveted Ultra Necrozma. Pokémon is just one of many popular brands supplied by Asmodee. The collectibles specialist’s extensive range also includes the likes of SuperZings, Yu-Gi-Oh!, the Final Fantasy Trading Card Game, and the newly launched Dragon Ball Super Card Game.

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Brainstorm 01200 445 113 | Brainstorm introduces a raft of new pocket money toys for 2018, including additions to existing ranges. Whacky Shots World Warriors was launched at London Toy Fair, and Brainstorm predicts that the range will be a one of the craze toys of the year thanks to its combination of play value and the allimportant collectability factor. The Whacky Shots collectible range features trading cards and action gameplay, based in a world at war where mutants spread danger and fear. Starter packs are available, and children can purchase Whacky Shots Blind bags that include one Whacky Shot, a card with base, and a collector booklet. One in five bling bags will contain a rare glow-in-the-dark Whacky Shot, and a CDU of 30 foil packs is also available. TV advertising will commence at Easter and continue in regular bursts throughout the year. Brainstorm is entering its third year partnering with Zing Toys to distribute StikBots – the UK’s first social sharing toy. The range has been added to year on year, and 2018 is the year of the StikBot Dinosaurs. Available in different species, including T-Rex and Brontosaurus, the pocket money line allows children to add to their StikBot collection as well as opening up creative possibilities through additional opportunities to create animations. StikBot Dino Eggs are a new addition to the range for fans old and new. Available in a blind assortment of 24 in a CDU, the brightly coloured eggs include one StikBot Dino and an educational leaflet. There are seven styles and nine colours including rare colours to be found in each CDU. Also new this year are two different sets of Off The Grid characters, each featuring three different StikBots from the most viewed show on the StikBot Central YouTube channel. The range offers value for money and gives children the chance to create their own StikBot Movies with the free StikBots app, as well as viewing daily content on StikBot Central on YouTube. TV advertising for StikBots will continue with regular bursts throughout the year, along with a digital campaign on YouTube.

Green Elephant Trading 0870 803 2116 | Green Elephant Trading, official distributor of Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty, is looking forward to bringing two new products to UK putty fans. Spring sees the launch of a new addition to the Phantoms range. Blue Moon Thinking Putty is pale yellow by day, and the included Glow Charger reveals a cerulean hue that changes to a bright sky-blue glow in the dark. The new Blue Moon Thinking Putty will be available from April. Crazy Aaron’s other offering for spring is Puttyworld’s first large scented tin. An attractive petal pink, the Spring Bouquet Thinking Putty features light green swirls of iridescent shimmer, and is infused with a pleasant floral scent. Also available from April, retailers are advised to stock up on the Spring Bouquet Thinking Putty - Crazy Aaron’s Limited Edition Seasonal Thinking Putties always prove to be popular with putty fans. Genuine Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty is made and manufactured from scratch in the company’s own factory just outside of Philadelphia in the United States. All of its putty, including Magnetic Thinking Putty, is compliant with applicable worldwide toy safety laws, is routinely tested by an independent, third-party laboratory, and is regularly reviewed by a certified, licensed toxicologist, so consumers and retailers can be assured that by purchasing the genuine product they are receiving a completely safe, quality putty product.

Funrise 01908 555 640 | For 2018, Funrise has an extensive line up for the pocket money sector, from the Tonka Tinys collection to the new Gazillion Bubbles Crazy Wands. With new vehicles for this year, and now in its third season with Funrise, the Tonka Tinys range continues to expand with all new vehicle styles, packaged in their signature blind box garages. Each Tinys blind box is displayed in an eye-catching CDU, making these miniature vehicles an ideal impulse buy. Also in the Tonka pocket money collection, the Tonka Diecast Assortment features sturdy vehicles including a Tow Truck, Steam Roller, SWAT Car, Dozer and Vintage Bike. The UK Emergency Vehicle Assortment includes a Fire Engine, Police Car and Ambulance which echo the colours and markings of real life emergency teams. Made of heavy metal die cast to make them tough, kids can collect the entire range. With six styles of Gazillion Crazy Wands to choose from, there is a wand for every occasion. From bunny teeth to vampire fangs, the photo-booth style Crazy Wands are well suited to any party. Sets include two wands, a dipping tray and an 8oz bottle of Gazillion premium bubble solution. Finally, the 10oz bottles of premium Gazillion Bubbles Solution offer kids a quality bubble experience with a specially created formula that creates bigger, more plentiful bubbles.

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A World Of Collectibility! Series 1 & 2 out now... Series 3 & 4 coming soon!


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Blossoms - Series 2


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Princess Melina Series 1

Princess Izzabeth Series 3 Princess Blossom Series 2



Princess Frostin Series 4

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Scented Blossom





Sleepy Pods with Shimm

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Snowies - Series 4



Heavyweight TV & Marketing campaign for 2018 All enquiries: Telephone: +44 (0)1952 608308

Pocket Money & Collectibles

Topps 01908 800 100 | In 2018, Topps continues to offer a comprehensive range of collectibles for both boys and girls. With a portfolio of top licences including Star Wars, WWE, Premier League and PJ Masks, Topps sticker and card collections remain popular in the playground. Topps has two major collections launching this spring; Premier League Match Attax Extra and Ring Pop Puppies. Football card collectors will celebrate the return of one of the most anticipated collections year on year: Topps Match Attax Extra trading card game. Following the January transfer window, collectors can boost their squads ahead of the countdown to the season’s grand finale and celebrate the stories of the season so far. Launching on 15th March, the new Match Attax Extra collection from Topps will feature the biggest signings from the January transfer window, record breakers, stars of the season, the latest squad updates, exclusive 100 club and updated limited edition cards. Topps has also collaborated with Cadbury to offer customers an exclusive set of Match Attax Extra Golden Boot cards, plus a rare Thierry Henry Limited Edition Card, when they purchase a special pouch of Cadbury Heroes. Launching in May, Topps Ring Pop Puppies features 22 collectible puppies, each encased in its own wearable ring. Collectors can take their Ring Pop Puppies with them, wherever they go, and with five different coloured rings it’s easy to accessorise. There are also two rare puppies to collect - Goldy and Sparkles – which will further drive collectibility. The launch of Ring Pop Puppies will be supported by a heavyweight TV and digital campaign.

MGA Entertainment 0845 0533 333 | L.O.L Surprise! is now on its third series and has recently introduced the new limitededition Pearl Surprise. The latest core product, Series 3 Confetti Pop, saw an increase from seven to nine layers of surprise and the introduction of dolls to collect. The arrival of Punk Boi marks the introduction of the first boy character. This year will see the brand host a large consumer event, building on its association with unboxing and vlogging. The event will be supported with a new online site with UKspecific communication, offering fans the chance to access additional content. The brand will continue to work with influencers in 2018, after a recent campaign with Amazing Arabella saw L.O.L. Surprise! tackle the importance of internet safety. Since the launch on Boxing Day 2017, Baby Secrets is proving popular, thanks to the colour change surprise which reveals the baby’s gender and encourages nurturing role play. With 50 characters to reveal in the Babies Single Packs, the range also includes Activity Packs including Pram Pack, Rocking Horse Pack, High Chair Pack and Bassinet Pack. Marketing investment includes TV, digital, social media including Popjam and partnership with Toys AndMe’s Tiana, who unboxed and revealed Single Packs and surprise characters. This summer will see Zapf introduce Baby Secrets Series 2, Pets and Merbabies, all with full marketing support. The latest arrival Moj Moj combines the squishy trend with pocket money purchases and playground crazes. Different themes are available to collect including Adventure Seekers, Couch Potatoes, Day Dreamers, Happy Campers, Party Animals and Sunbathers. The brand launched with a digital influencer campaign and global social platforms including PopJam. Now in its fifth series, with Num Noms Lights on its third, scented collectible range Num Noms introduces Snackable Dippers. Developments in licensing have seen lines launch in all major categories including hardlines, softlines and the Num Noms magazine. Snackable Dippers feature a new design dipping pot and Series 5 introduces a new range of themes and flavours. Lights, now available within the plush Surprise in Jar, are based on popular sweet themes.

WowWee 0203 598 5119 | Following the success of Fingerlings, Jazwares is introducing new Fingerlings Minis, cute little additions to their bigger Fingerlings friends. Each blind bag comes with a surprise miniature Monkey, Unicorn or Sloth, a bracelet and a tail charm. The series includes popular, rare, legendary, and ultra-rare figures. Kids can collect them, trade them, wear them on their wrist or use them to top their pencils. The new Fingerlings Minis will be available from summer. Jazwares and WowWee will continue to support the Fingerlings brand with TV and marketing campaigns, in-store demonstrations, social media and PR.

Tobar 0844 573 4299 | When kids drop the Mermaid Seashell Fizzer in water, they’ll see it bubble and fizz. When the bubbles have cleared a mermaid friend is revealed, available in four different colours to collect. With the Unicorn Giant Egg, kids can grow their very own mythical creature. When it’s put in water, a unicorn hatches from the egg and will grow up to 15cm. There are three different colours and styles to collect. Also available is the Hatching Dinosaur Egg. Right on trend for 2018, there’s an assortment of different dinosaurs to collect in the range. Finally, when kids submerge the Growing Hatching Mermaid clam shell in water a mermaid will hatch. Kids are advised to keep checking back regularly, as the mermaid will keep growing for up to four days.

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Pocket Money & Collectibles

Dracco 0845 365 3030 | Dracco UK is an official distributor for Yu-Gi-Oh! and also stocks a wide range of other trading cards, collectibles, games and toys from the world’s leading manufacturers. The company positions itself as a one stop shop for retailers and takes pride in its customer service and competitive pricing. All orders placed before 5pm will be dispatched the same day, with a carriage paid minimum order of just £150. This year sees strong releases for the world’s best-selling trading card game, Yu-Gi-Oh! Offering a wide range of price points, from impulse pocket money buys to options for serious collectors and players, there’s something to appeal to everyone in the range. Consistently popular, retailers can rely on the loyal following of the evergreen brand, which has been established for almost 20 years. Legendary Collection Kaiba brings together many of Kaiba’s most famous cards in a way that fans have never seen before. This product is available now and is proving to be one of the company’s most popular releases of 2018. The new trading card protection set, Kaiba’s Majestic Collection, is also available now, featuring a new design that shows Kaiba and his iconic Blue Eyes White Dragon on sleeves, deck boxes, play mats and portfolios. Flames of Destruction brings all new ways to play, whatever the level of knowledge, from beginner to advanced. This product will be released on 3rd of May. This year will also feature the release of the Dark Saviours booster box on 24th of May, bringing a spooky twist to the game, and the Flames of Destruction will re-ignite on 7th of June with the release of the Special Edition, introducing four new and sought-after cards. Dracco works closely with Quickplay Events, which offers retailers interested in becoming an official Yu-Gi-Oh! tournament organiser the chance to host official tournaments and build a solid player base. For more information, retailers should get in touch with the company.

Character Options 01616 339 800 |

Schleich 01279 870 000 | From Farm World and Horse Club through to prehistoric dinosaurs and new fantasy creatures, Schleich offers an extensive range of pocket money purchases and collectibles to choose from. Central to the 2018 Horse Club range will be the new Horse Club girls Sofia, Hannah, Sarah and Lisa, who make their debut in Q3. These new rider figures are fully movable and can ride, sit and grip, for realistic horse-riding play. All four can be collected alongside traditional horse figures and accessories, to create a realistic equestrian world. Also new to the Horse Club range is the Caravan For Secret Club Meetings and Large Horse Stable with House & Stable. These additions to the popular equestrian line help kids to complete their own Horse Club story. The Dinosaur range sees new reptiles this year, such as the Oviraptor, Triceratops and Tawa. Refreshes of existing dinosaurs such as the Tyrannosaurus Rex and Velociraptor further enhance the collectability of this range. The refreshed Eldrador Creatures range offers four key collections to explore. The Lava, Ice, Water and Stone worlds each have three figurines to collect at three different price points, such as Stone Monster, Ice Dragon and Hellhound. As collections grow, each of Schleich’s play worlds also includes playsets, which help to make kids’ imaginative play experiences complete.

This year has seen a raft of new pocket money ranges join the Character Options line-up. Catering to the trend for all things squishy, Character Options’ Soft n’ Slo Squishies are soft, slow rising and ultra-collectible squishies in a variety of themes and sizes. Already popular in the US, Soft n’ Slo lets kids squish and squeeze the toys, before watching them slowly rise and transform. Further proving its commitment to embracing the latest trends, Character releases Poopeez; collectible characters with more than a little toilet trouble. The 36 characters in Series 1 include Skid Mark, Potty Pooper and Turdle, and come in 2-pack toilet roll dispensers which must be carefully unraveled to discover the figures inside. At the heart of Character’s collectible range are Mash’ems, which are predicted to go from strength to strength in 2018. Mash’ems and Fash’ems attractive and functional POS displays are ideal for displaying the new collections in store. The range includes licensed characters for both preschoolers and older kids and will be constantly refreshed with new waves. December saw the launch of Cake Pop Cuties and Mine It, and Cheeki Mees followed in February. More key collections will be launched for autumn/winter, details of which will be unveiled in coming weeks. Finally, as part of a much wider launch, Characters is launching its new Pokémon line up. Available from summer, the initial launch will include collectible figures at pocket money prices. For the first time ever, each Pokémon figurine will be to scale. There will be four size categories in total - 2”, 3”, 4.5” and 12” – and the figures will also feature varying levels of articulation. Depending on the Pokémon, articulation will vary from basic battle poses to full motion articulation that lets collectors demonstrate launching, gripping and rolling actions.

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Introducing our new

Our sensational selection of addictive puzzles now includes our Muddle Puzzles and Zuru’s Tangle. Flip, twist and completely reshape them to solve each conundrum.


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Pocket Money & Collectibles

Click Distribution 01604 877 888 | A number of highly anticipated collectibles launches are coming up this year, including Panini’s 2018 FIFA World Cup Sticker Collection. This year marks the 13th series of a Panini World Cup Sticker Collection, and collectors now can re-live all of the past sticker albums with Click’s new heritage range. Keychains, mugs and limited edition lithographic album prints are available, dating all the way back to 1970 and bringing back fond memories of anyone’s first World Cup collection. With one of the best January transfer windows in Premier League history, Topps’ Match Attax Extra Trading Card Game should prove a popular choice with fans. Topps has also launched its new collectible Ring Pop Puppies, which is scheduled for release on the 17th May. Meegos, Click’s new range of Fairtrade handmade collectibles, arrives in selected Sainsbury’s and Debenhams stores on the 12th April. The cute crochet pets are available in a dozen different breeds. Every Meegos and Mini Meegos is handmade in Bangladesh through a non-profit Fairtrade organisation, which is making a difference in over 200 villages by providing sustainable income and regular and flexible employment. The collection will be supported by a marketing campaign including TV, digital, social media and PR. Finally, Bijou Bracelets will be launching in May. With this range, collectors can interchange and swap their beads to create their own colour combinations. The product will be supported by a digital and social media campaign.

Tactic Games 01483 332 070 | Tactic Games announces the launch of Lumo Stars – plush pals with a touch of sparkle. Inspired by Nordic nature and mythologies, the Lumo Stars are a range of collectible Mini, Classic and Big plush toys covering various key price points, born from a successful storybook created by the coowner of Tactic, Kati Heljakka. Each Lumo Star is made from soft plush and features deep, colourful eyes, with patterns and colour combinations that create a cute appearance. The launch of the first full range, Northern Brights, will be supported via the free Lumo Stars app, which provides a community forum for Lumo Stars fans. To keep the range fresh, Tactic will be launching new designs and themes every three months. The product line is available in a selection of readymerchandised POS options in order to bring the brand to life in store.

Playmobil 01268 548 111 | Playmobil’s 2018 collectible range includes a variety of items from the Figures, Special Plus and Playmo Friends sets, plus Carry Cases. The Special Plus range welcomes a host of new characters this year, including Firefighter with Tree, and Sky Knight with Jet. Playmobil also ushered in the new Series 13 Figures in February for fans to assemble and collect. The mystery foil bags contain a surprise Playmobil figure, with new characters including a sushi chef, repair woman and a fairy, plus many more characters to collect. Playmobil’s varied Carry Cases make ideal gifts for children on the go. This year there will be 10 of the cases available, including the new Fairy Boat Carry Case and Space Exploration Carry Case. Contained within each carry case are characters with a selection of accessories, which can be enjoyed alongside an existing Playmobil collection or on their own.

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DKL Marketing 01604 678 780 | Pocket Box Cats joins the Breyer collection of Dogs, Animals and Aquarium collectibles. The Dogs, Animals and Aquarium packs contain two animals/ fish and two stickers, while the Cats pack contains two cats, an accessory and one sticker. There are 24 assorted pieces in each collection, displayed in a themed box. Stablemates’ Mystery Horse Surprise blind bags contain a model horse in a range of poses, with eight different breeds to collect. Hama blister packs give a sample of the best Hama has to offer, at a price that’s accessible for children. Themes include animals, princesses, trucks and cars, and this year sees the introduction of charms and bracelets to the range.






Viewpoint My Victor Kiam moment…

Nat Southworth Nat is managing director of Kids@Play Ltd, has bought toys for Asda, and held sales & marketing positions with Vivid, HTi, and Hornby. He is completing an Executive MBA at the University of Leeds. (And is an ex-consultant.)


s I recently waved goodbye to my thirties whilst walking round the New York Toy Fair, I was reminiscing about my time living in America thirty years ago. My father was posted to a small army base near Washington D.C. as the Americans had a problem making one of their warehouses work and the Queen said she would loan them my father to fix it. That’s his explanation anyway. Spending a couple of years immersed in American culture was awesome, who wouldn’t want to cycle to the swimming pool every day during the school summer holidays? But there are other things that stick with you, such as TV commercials. With a nod to Tristan Brook's column, and those who know way more than I about retention or the impact of advertising messages, I suddenly remembered an advert I used to watch which featured a chap called Victor Kiam - please google him. He had this famous ad for Remington: “I liked the product so much I bought the company”. Well, that is exactly what happened to me. I did some consulting for Kids@Play and

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I liked it so much I ended up buying the company. Clearly, it’s not in the same league as Victor Kiam’s business empire, but it’s a start. When you operate as a consultant you get to see behind the scenes, but you don’t always get to see development 100% through, being project based or there in an advisory capacity. One of the comments made to me at London Toy Fair was “Great idea to get out of consulting Nat, there are hundreds of consultants in the UK toy industry”. Why is this? What has caused it? When you look through the list of people announcing themselves as consultants, you can see that many have had incredible careers, and have CVs loaded with experience. Why would they not want to share this experience? There are consultants who still have the “toy bug” and there are consultants who simply need to pay the bills while looking for their next opportunity. Whatever their motivation, moving from “doing” to consulting isn’t that straightforward, and I caution all the new entrants to the world of consulting to heed these words. Nothing is free. You must recognise that your time equals

money, and your experience, feedback and observations hold value to your clients, so agree your scope before you feel compelled to share your knowledge. This often doesn’t come naturally to a passionate toy person, because they just love the buzz of bringing to market toys that kids enjoy, and it seems like a bonus that they can make a living from it. There will be those quick to tap into your natural enthusiasm who advise - after you’ve shared knowledge or delivered great ideas - that the budget has been reduced or even in some cases vaporised. It’s a dog eat dog world and as the number of consultants grows each week, so too does the challenge of generating a living from this endeavour. I would like to end on a positive note. There is now one less consultant touting for business, as I can confirm that my consulting cap has been hung up. My energies are focused on Kids@Play Ltd. We’ve got some great products and those in the pipeline for 2019 get better and better. To all those entering the world of consulting, I wish you luck. I genuinely hope you experience your own Victor Kiam moment.

toyworld The business magazine with a passion for toys

- Extensive Toymaster Preview Section - Special feature on Dolls, Playset Dolls and Girls Collectibles - Annual Licensing World Supplement For editorial enquiries, call Rachael Simpson on: 01442 502406 For advertising enquiries, call Mark Austin on: 01442 502405 Toy World 84

TRU-st issues

David Ripley David is currently EMEA category director for Toys, Nursery, Sporting Goods & Pet Care at Groupon. His long career as a toy buyer has included stints at a number of the industry’s largest retail accounts.

The year of the Parennial

Jim Hawker Co-founder of Threepipe agency: a team of PR, social, content, SEO and paid media experts


his month’s Viewpoint column had been planned to herald the great work of the unsung heroes in the Quality Control and the Product Testing Standards industries, who support consumer goods organisations in making toy-related products the safest they have ever been in recent history. However, with the seismic events which took place in the industry in late February, other subjects now take priority. It feels like everyone has had a view on everything related to the eventual demise of Toys R Us, which happened on the same day that Maplin also went into administration and a few days before Mothercare / ELC started to show signs of internal financial challenges. TRU is a huge loss to the UK toy


018 is the Year of the Parennial apparently. More children will be born this year to millennial parents than any other population segment. Yes, the generation of narcissistic kids that the media has obsessed about for so long are old enough to have children themselves. And while I personally don’t like segmenting audiences by age, because real life does not work like that, Threepipe is unashamedly organising an event to celebrate this monumental milestone. I am busy assembling a fantastic range of speakers, from Google through to Lego and Just Eat, who will be sharing their pearls of wisdom about how brands need to adapt their product development and marketing to meet and exceed the expectations of this generation of parents. There are fascinating examples of

& nursery industry on many levels – job losses, lost turnover, market share and the breadth of range supported are the key impacts. The loss of Maplin will have less of an impact on the toy industry, but they offered a good range of drones, ride-ons and RC vehicles and therefore supported incremental revenue for the toy market. Going against the grain, I am not going to add any more commentary about where it all went wrong - other than to say that their iceberg shrank and there are many more UK retailers floating on ever decreasing icebergs; Mothercare / ELC could go either way in the coming months. I genuinely feel sorry for all the employees that have been made redundant and for the wider fall-out that will directly impact suppliers and could lead to further

how some brands are succeeding. Spotify and Netflix are creating products that are specifically designed for multiple members of the family to use at the same time, while some are adopting a pure mobile first strategy to ensure that their brand is readily available across multiple devices (and therefore times of day) when they can be discovered. This makes sense when you consider that this generation of parents has access to more online information than any generation that came before it. Naturally there are some companies that we won’t be inviting. Some have completely failed to keep up with the changing times, but we won’t be spending too long dwelling on the obvious mistakes, but instead championing those companies which are innovating. Even in the age of making this kind of content available online, it is great to see that people still enjoy

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job losses. I hope that all impacted parties find a way through the uncertainty that these situations bring and find their way back into toy/nursery related roles with new businesses in the future. How the toy & nursery industry recovers from the loss of a sizeable portion of market share is anyone’s guess – I would expect a large share of this to be picked up by the independent sector and for a similar amount to disappear into the Amazon market place blackhole. At Groupon we are always on the lookout for key buying and sales talent; whilst there are no roles currently in the Toys & Nursery category, there are always Buying, Supply chain and Sales related roles open in London and across EMEA – the Groupon careers link is:

coming together and learning at a physical event. Nothing better reminded me of this when visiting London Toy Fair this year and catching up with people that I have not seen for a while. For those that do not work in the toy sector, it is hard to explain the intensity of it all. The rivalries are really more like ‘frenemies’, as those who compete with each other are often friends and old colleagues who have a huge amount of respect for each other. Perhaps with the exception of Isaac from MGA, whom I recently started following on LinkedIn and isn’t shy in holding back some of his thoughts, which make for entertaining reading. In the spirit of sharing, please do drop me a line at jim@threepipe. if you fancy coming along to our event at the end of April. I can’t promise explosive LinkedIn one liners, but I can promise an interesting morning, learning from some of the best.

GAMES TABLES Time to set up your game! The brand new range of games tables from the UK’s largest supplier brings families together and delivers unplugged experiences. Whether it’s play for one on one, team challenges or for solo practice, Hy-Pro’s games tables are a great addition to any games room.

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Hy-Pro’s own brand, Hy-Pro Sports, specialises in football and creates products that allows all athletes to feel like pros. The range includes footballs that conform to FIFA’s quality programme, goals, luggage, bottles and accessories.

Hy-Pro International has over 25 years experience in sports licensing. Having recently secured renewals with FC Barcelona, Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC, Hy-Pro continues to develop diverse product ranges with the world’s largest football clubs.



Football Merchandise

World Cup winners

The FIFA World Cup will be taking place this year from 14th June to 15th July and retailers and suppliers will look to capitalise on the added interest in the sport. Casey Goodman explores the opportunities that tournament presents to the toy industry.


ith 2018 being a World Cup year, retailers and suppliers are sure to see a rise in sales of football related products. The Panini Official FIFA World Cup sticker collection is the biggest revenue driving collection of the year, accounting for approximately 50% of the annual retail sales value of the collectible category. The period in which the revenue is driven is short in comparison to, say, a Premier League season, meaning sales are concentrated. Rebecca Smith, head of circulation at Panini, told Toy World, “Following the launch on 22nd March, a significant marketing effort will kick in, encompassing TV advertising, radio advertising, a social and digital campaign, a national newspaper campaign and mass album sampling. To capitalise on this, retailers should display the starterpacks and stickers in a prominent position, ideally with sticker CDUs at till points. Collectors tend to be quite habitual, so if they find stock in a certain store at the start of the collectible journey, our research shows they will return to buy packets time after time. We tend to see extraordinarily high sales over an intense eightweek period, so retailers really need to be prepared, in

order to capitalise on this opportunity. The collection itself is months in the planning, to ensure it is executed effectively to maximise sales across all retailers in the run up to the tournament. We generally see 80% of sales achieved before a ball is even kicked, so the hype and anticipation is key for sales.” Panini is not the only supplier to point out the importance of the build-up and preparations for the tournament. Jorge Augusto, UK brand manager at Tomy suggests, “Retailers should create World Cup dedicated areas in their stores and celebrate the No.1 football tournament with their consumers. We know how important and popular football is in the UK, and this represents a massive opportunity, so we will see some great deals and promotions, both in stores and online, as well as specific content and campaigns being created. It’s a period when many different categories in the market will benefit. Looking beyond the summer, football collectibles are massively popular all year round, with Topps Premier League Match Attax cards being the world’s best-selling Sports Trading Card Game. NPD data shows packs of Match Attax are consistently in the top 10 toys in terms of volume and occupy the top slot for many months of

Tomy, Soccerborg

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the year. Rod Pearson, marketing director at Topps has also noticed that consumers tend to be loyal to the store they purchased their first pack from and explains the best way to get maximum sales. “Visibility is key. Making sure that a display box of cards is clearly positioned at the counter is vitally important. Topps also inserts POS posters in display boxes so stores can feature them in the shop windows. Match Attax is a great traffic builder, once collectors know it is stocked in a retailer, they will be loyal and treat the store as a destination for future purchases. We support many stores with free display materials and advice. Running weekly Swap Meets is a great way for stores to drive sales and is easy to organise. As well as being collectible, a feature that both the trading cards and stickers share is their low price points. Rebecca explains, “The price point of stickers makes them a great pocket money purchase, with many parents favouring this type of treat-purchase to sweets. We also tend to see a huge amount of second generation collectors, so retailers will see significant parental endorsement, as children, parents and grand-parents make this a family affair and enjoy the collecting process together.” Rod explains how having a low price point can appeal to a wider customer base than just those who are interested in the FIFA World Cup. He told Toy World, “At just £1, Match Attax is accessible to all and is a great pocket money purchase or treat for children. When Match Attax launches there is a buzz around the playground and all kids want to be part of it, regardless of whether they are interested in football or not. With the desire to collect, consumers will buy multiples of packets to build their collection over a period of time, and this drives valuable traffic into stores. It’s a combination of being at the right price and having the collectability element to encourage repeat purchase. The ‘round pound’ price point is key to driving volume. Basket Spend Data has illustrated that the most popular number of packets in one transaction is two, then four, then one, then five, so many collectors are choosing to trade up as well. There are a number of additional SKUs that are proving to be incredibly popular at a higher price. Sales of Match Attax Tins priced at £6 and £10 have grown incredibly over the last two years and over Christmas, the £20 Match Attax Advent Calendar has been the best-selling advent line in a number of retail chains.”





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DON’T MISS OUT! © FIFA, FIFA’s Official Licensed Product Logos, and the Emblems, Mascots, Posters and Trophies of the FIFA World Cup™ tournaments are copyrights and/or trademarks of FIFA.

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Football Merchandise

Panini 01892 500100 | As fans from around the globe prepare for the world’s biggest football event, Panini is excited to announce the launch of the longawaited 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Official Sticker Collection. Panini, a brand synonymous with football, has been creating FIFA World Cup sticker albums since 1970 and the 2018 album is sure to get collectors in the spirit of the tournament. The hype has been building for what is set to be a huge World Cup and Panini is ready for kick-off with the official licensed sticker album featuring all of the best players and teams from around the world. The 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Official Sticker Collection provides retailers with unprecedented opportunities to drive volume and revenue. The collection includes all 32 teams competing at the event and includes more than 670 stickers, 50 of which are special. The set encourages fans to get collecting and swapping. The sticker collection will be backed by a heavy-weight marketing campaign including TV and radio advertising, marketing across digital platforms, a national newspaper campaign, sampling, cover mount activity, experiential campaigns as well as an integrated PR campaign. There will be widespread support for retail in terms of POS and retail sampling initiatives.

Also coming in at a higher price point, Tomy’s new launch, Soccerborg, offers a table top gaming experience for football enthusiasts. Jorge explained, “All football associated products should expect an uplift in sales during the World Cup period and our plans to launch Soccerborg in this football fever season is certainly the right thing to do. We will be able to promote some together-time between parents and kids, since the core target for the product is 6 – 9 year old boys and their fathers. Also, we should not forget that Soccerborg is a unique toy in the market that will merge football with an innovative technology – robotics is one of the biggest trends at the moment.” “If we look into the robotics/ tech toys available in the market, we can see that the price point of £59.99 for Soccerborg is really competitive. Each pack will provide everything needed to play: two robots, two controllers, two goals, two balls and a sticker sheet to customize the robots.” “Being an innovative toy that fills a gap in the market

and responds to technology and robotics trends, we expect Soccerborg to be one of the hottest toys for 2018. It’s a new and fun experience where players will be able to use all football skills – dribble, tackle, pass and shoot – and vary the gameplay to play head to head, robot vs. robot, or even pitch two teams against each other and create a massive Soccerborg game. We are planning a strong launch with multi-channel marketing investment, including TV and digital campaigns. All the feedback we have received so far is amazing and the product was even chosen as a London Toy Fair 2018 Hero Toy. Soccerborg is definitely the future of football.” Retailers and suppliers will be looking forward to the summer ahead, and no matter which team they will be supporting, the common aim will be to top the sales of 2014. Rebecca told Toy World, “Retailers should be prepared for the intensity and speed of the sales and revenue opportunity. In 2014, Panini’s Official FIFA World Cup sticker collection held the No. 1 toy line position on NPD data for a number of months, and we fully expect that to be the case in 2018.”

Phoenix Sporting Goods 01635 887 099 | Phoenix Sporting Goods is a manufacturer of high quality innovative sports products under the Gorilla Training brand. At Nuremberg this year, the company launched its range of outdoor sports products including the Rocket Goals in three sizes, Speed Vision, Freestyle Ball, Hurdles, Speed Ladders, Frameless Rebounder, and Cones. All items have a common theme, of being portable, easy to construct and put away and - most importantly - built to last. The Gorilla Training Rocket goals have a unique function which allows them to be snapped open and closed within seconds so children can start playing immediately. The small goals come as a twin pack and the other two sizes as single pieces.

Tomy 01271 336 155 | Tomy has just unveiled its new football themed games experience, Soccerborg. Soccerborg combines all the competition and thrill of the beautiful game with innovative robotic technology, which has become increasingly popular with consumers in recent years. Just in time for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, Soccerborg arrives as football fever is set to sweep the nation and is tipped to dominate the playing field in the toy market this year. Tomy will promote the brand with a TV and digital advertising campaign and a number of skills videos, so that players can practice their best football tricks to match their footballing heroes.

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THE FUTURE OF FOOTBALL Go head to head, bot vs. bot, in a titanic clash of Soccerborg! These smart remote control robots want to test their hidden talents, but they are nothing without a player’s skills and strategy. Run forwards, backwards, pass, weave, tackle, dribble, spin around and shoot! These bots do it all – if you can! Play against one other robot, or pitch two teams of up to eleven against each other.

Contact us today to find out more about Soccerborg. Call 01392 281928 or email

Have a sneak peek at TOMY Toys UK


Pitch is not included



Hy-Pro on the ball As the World Cup draws closer, Toy World spoke to product and marketing executive Emma Palmer about Hy-Pro’s football ranges. customers are running a World Cup programme in one form or another, whether that be official FIFA merchandise, official FA merchandise, or a mixture of both. England qualifying for the tournament obviously makes a huge difference from a retail buyer’s perspective, so as soon as this happened back in October it was full steam ahead.

How can retailers capitalise on the added interest around football in the coming months?

What kind of increase in sales of your football related ranges do you anticipate in a World Cup year? We tend to see around a 30% increase in sales during a World Cup year, primarily from footballs which is a key category for us. Being an official licensee of both FIFA and the FA really gives us the ability to offer a product solution for everyone.

Has this been reflected in your retail selections for 2018? After experiencing some initial caution from retailers regarding Russia 2018, nearly all of our

Timing will be key. It is important for retailers to have product in store as soon as the hype around the World Cup really starts to grow. We normally see this around 4-6 weeks before the start of the tournament. It is also important to be offering something new and different, not just promoting product that can be purchased all year round.

Focusing on your range of football tables, is this still a popular category with consumers? Absolutely! The items are timeless but even so, growth in all our game table categories, particularly football tables this year has been amazing. Our customers tell us that, more than ever, they're looking for ways to play together and spend time as a family. We’ve created a range of

tables that fits all budgets, ages and room sizes, so we’re incredibly excited about the continued future growth of this category.

What are the strengths of your range of football tables? Each table is designed to bring maximum fun and enjoyment to our users. By offering accessible price points, full customer service and a pipeline crammed with exciting new developments, we deliver a unique offering to both our end users and our retail partners. Ultimately, actively listening and responding to our customers is key to our success, and offering products that exceed these expectations has proven to be our core strength.

Given their size, how can retailers best maximise on sales for this category? For those with space concerns, smaller sized tables is a really exciting area which does not require a large amount of space. Price sensitivity at this scale is lower, which has resulted in our retail partners enjoying great promotional successes within this subcategory. We are able to create bespoke items and sizes that perfectly fit the requirements of our partners, meaning that everyone has the opportunity to benefit from both our products and our brand.

For more information and opportunities in sports merchandise contact To view the full range of Hy-Pro games tables contact

Hy-Pro 01582 670 100 | Hy-Pro International is proud to announce the launch of a new sports range with a bold mission statement: to allow all athletes to feel like pros, no matter their ability. Hy-Pro Sports match and training footballs conform to FIFA’s internationally recognised industry standards. Recreational balls are also available to cater for all standards and budgets. The offering also includes a wide variety of products including goals, boot bags, gym sacks, and training aids which will be available in later product drops. Having worked in sports licensing for 25+ years, a consumer demand for products suitable for amateurs wanting to take themselves to the next level has caught the attention of Hy-Pro, whose portfolio of brands has an aspirational focus and aims to develop products that serve that purpose at a reasonable price. Hy-Pro will see a repositioning of the brand in 2018, through targeting grassroots football with the amateur players in mind during product design and development. There are plans to partner with local leagues to supply official match balls with the league logo. Working directly with local football clubs will also serve as an important initiative this year, in which Hy-Pro can give back to local football. The range will be made available through Hy-Pro’s own e-commerce site, which is currently in development and set to launch mid 2018. Sports retailers have shown a keen interest in the product offering. The new range is due to launch in time for the summer, with product updates planned for the back end of the year.

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01635 887099









Start at the very beginning

Coming out of 2017, pre-school toys was one of the most successful super-categories of last year, alongside collectibles and action figures. Providing early learning, discovery, milestone development and opportunities to bond with parents and siblings, Rachael Simpson finds out what the pre-school category has to offer throughout 2018.

Simba Smoby, Masha doll


ccording to the NPD POS Retail Tracker, the Pre-school Toys category was worth £282m for 2017, up +4%, ahead of total toys which declined -3%. The performance of the category was reflected across a number of major pre-school players, with both Tomy and VTech, among others, reporting uplifts in sales. “VTech has once again secured its No. 1 Infant and Toddler position, within a tough year we continued to grow and develop in 2017,” says Charlotte Drake, senior brand manager, VTech. “The inclusion of a new ranges being added to our portfolio, such as Pop-a-Ball and Gearzooz, as well as new lines within the Toot-Toot and Baby ranges has also aided this growth.” We asked VTech how it ensures that its pre-school ranges stand out in a busy and highly competitive marketplace. “We are aware of the need to build on previous success by adding new and exciting items to each range through the year,” explains Charlotte. “We utilise bright bold colours, sing-along songs, sound effects, fun phrases and light up buttons to help hand-eye coordination and cognitive

development, as well easily recognisable designs. With our Smart Point and Closed Cell technology within our products, consumers are aware that our products are more than meets the eye.” Licensed toys still play a huge part in the preschool marketplace, with PJ Masks emerging from 2017 as the top new pre-school property. This year, retail success is predicted for Masha and the Bear pre-school ranges. Already a record breaker on YouTube, the series secured a free to air broadcast deal with Sony Pictures Television Network’s UKbased Tiny Pop just before Christmas, a major boon for toy licensees including Simba Smoby. “Before the free to air broadcast, Masha was one of the top performing shows on Cartoonito, racking up billions of views on YouTube, as well huge viewing figures on Netflix,” enthuses Mayur Pattni, head of marketing & licensing – UK, Simba Smoby. “With Tiny Pop added into the broadcast mix, Masha and The Bear reaches a phenomenal amount of kids on a weekly basis. This creates a great opportunity for us to secure more retail partners for 2018.” Simba will be investing in a strong TV and media campaign, comprising TV from July/August through to Christmas, as well as support through VOD platforms for its Masha range of play sets and dolls. “We are also looking to implement social touchpoints including bloggers/influencers and YouTube stars,” adds Mayur. Alpha Animation’s Super Wings is also enjoying free to air broadcast on Tiny Pop, in a deal which saw the first season start airing in November. Series 1 will continue on Tiny Pop in the first half of 2018, while Series 2 hit screens on Cartoonito in February. Alpha’s spring/summer line of Super Wings toys, which includes play sets and transforming characters from series 2, is available now. Pre-school bath toys remain popular with parents and kids alike, providing busy parents (i.e. all parents) with an opportunity to engage with their children as part of their basic routine, turning a daily event into an opportunity for playtime and learning. Tomy’s Toomies line of pre-school bath toys was relaunched last year with a fresh packaging identity and ‘try me’ functionality, which the company hopes will educate consumers on the

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product range’s surprise elements at retail. “We have driven a lot of sales uplift and noise with the launch of our Tomy Toomies brand which covers both toy and bath pre-school sectors in 2017,” says Nicola Jenkins, head of marketing UK, Tomy. “Tomy Toomies really adds value to the bath category and generates the highest velocity in bath toys, with eight SKUs featuring in the top 50 bath items, resulting in a contribution of almost £2m to the bath category.” Juratoys boasts a comprehensive pre-school portfolio, including a comprehensive line of bath toys. There are 49 lines in the Alex Brand’s line alone, many of which feature an educational element such as the best-selling World Map in the Tub. “We feel the importance of having fun in the tub is true of every house hold,” explains Michelle Probert, sales and marketing manager. “It’s often a great opportunity for parents to spend one on one time with children and to help them learn different skills without being aware they are learning.” Though pre-school toys shouldn’t require too much help in the marketplace, Nicola Jenkins advises retailers to arrange products by play pattern, occasion and price point, to guide consumers towards the right choice in store. “Strong signage to help with the shopper journey and explain the USPs of products and brands will also help convert browsing to purchasing,” she adds. Juratoys supports its customers with in-store events, social media support and offers, to help drive in-store momentum. “We recently organised a ‘creative play day’ with one of our retailers, which worked very well and encouraged repeat business,” says Michelle Probert. “We also have many FSDUs available, should retailers wish to use something in store to highlight a particular range.” And for licensed ranges, Charlotte at VTech thinks character related sections, whether in store, online or within retailer catalogues, can help boost sales of associated products – something retailers may want to look into, given the importance of the licensed pre-school sector. Over the next few pages we take a look at what’s new in the pre-school category, from wooden classics to character play sets based on the biggest pre-school animations.

Hands on Fun!

Foam Cone Factory


Yuri’s Bath Salon


Toomies love to have fun! In a world dominated by learning and developmental messages, Toomies stands for ‘sheer joy of play’.

Pic & Pop

Sort & Pop UFO

So, get ready to play…beep, bop, squirt and splash!

• Clean, fresh packaging identity & ‘try me’ functionality to educate on ‘surprise’ elements at retail • Price repositioned on classics to hit volume price points and drive rate of sale

Pop & Hatch

New 2018

Gearation Magnets

• New TV & demo videos for 2018 focusing on sheer joy of play, and to drive hero lines • Good Toy Guide stamp of approval & developmental endorsement • PR partnerships throughout the year including key influencer activations

Over 1000 TVRs planned

Flappee Stackees

Contact us today to find out more. Phone: 01392 281 928 Email:

Brand Profile


Behind the mask Flair Just Play is celebrating a year of partnership with Entertainment One as the master toy licensee for PJ Masks. Toy World spoke to eOne’s SVP UK licensing Katie Rollings and Flair Just Play’s head of marketing Emmanuelle Cadet to find out what lies in-store for the brand in 2018 What have been the highlights of the past year? Emmanuelle - The launch year for PJ Masks has been tremendous, which has been echoed in the NPD data: PJ Masks was the number 2 new property in total market for 2017, and YTD 2018, PJ Masks is a top 20 property total market. Individual products have also performed extremely well; the PJ Masks Vehicle and Figure sets have consistently maintained their position in the top 20 items in the total market by value. We finished the year on a high with the Headquarters Playset achieving 2017 Dream Toys status. The range was also a big hit with retailers and made it into many of the retailers’ top toys for Christmas lists.

What have been the key benefits of the partnership? Katie - A key benefit of the partnership has been the incredibly close collaboration with Flair to deliver multiple retail marketing initiatives throughout the year, resulting in strong sell through and fan engagement. Some examples include launch campaigns with Argos and The Entertainer, through to Q3/Q4 2017 activations with Smyths, where we hosted a trolley dash promotion. In addition, Tesco featured interactive front-of-store promotional displays in over 400 stores which invited fans to take a photo and share it on social media, as well as in-store and online activity for kids.

Emmanuelle - Working with eOne has allowed us to partner with a team that truly knows how to build a property with real longevity and drive consumer engagement at every level of the brand experience, from content to retail.

Season 2 of PJ Masks is about to launch – what can you tell us about the new series and how the toy collection will reflect this? Katie - We are hugely excited about Season 2 - a further 52 x 11’ episodes – which launched exclusively on Disney Junior at the end of March. The new series offers our audience the opportunity to get to know our three heroes in more detail and introduces new locations, new vehicles and new characters, including a new member of the PJ Masks team – PJ Robot – who acts as the ‘Q’ of the HQ, unlocking new super powers and skills for the heroes and the HQ itself. We will also meet two new sets of villains. Luna Girl, Night Ninja and Romeo remain core to the adventures and we will start to see them work more closely together in their efforts to cause havoc. Series two also brings our first two-part episode special - ‘Moon Struck’ – a Super Moon adventure which takes our heroes out of the city and on a mission to the moon. Catboy, Owlette & Gekko open a world of new discoveries to engage preschoolers in thrilling space adventures. Emmanuelle - In addition to new and refreshed SKUs within the core toy line, there will be a capsule Super Moon- themed toy range, which will be available from October (available to pre-order from 1st September). The new range will feature our heroes in their moon outfits and introduce their new Rover vehicles and the HQ Rocket playset. A full-featured PJ Robot will also join the line-up in July. In addition to the Super Moon theme, we

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will continue to refresh our core collection for autumn, including the introduction of a brandnew Headquarters Playset.

Which new product introductions are you excited about for the first half of 2018? Emmanuelle - Vehicles are always important for the fans and we have new Turbo Blast Racers which come with an exclusive PJ Masks character figure, dressed in his or her Turbo Blast outfit and matching racing helmet. We are also excited about the late spring arrival of Romeo’s Lab Playset, the first set to be focused exclusively on villain Romeo from the show.

How do you see the long-term prospects for the brand? Emmanuelle - With the strong pipeline of content and eOne’s development strategy, we see PJ Masks being a cornerstone brand in the Flair Just Play’s portfolio. The launch year has been fantastic, but with what is coming up, we fully expect to grow the brand even further this year and beyond. Katie - We recognise that we’re operating in a tough market, which is experiencing challenging times at retail. However, we’re confident that by carefully managing the brand with a steady category and product roll out plan, continuing to invest in new engaging content, delivering fresh creative assets for product inspiration and working closely with our licensing partners to develop innovative ranges, we can drive further success and sustainable growth.


Simba Smoby 01274 765 030 | Masha and The Bear made its free to air debut in December 2017 with season one airing on Tiny Pop, becoming an instant hit for the channel, and in January 2018 Masha was the No. 1 show on Tiny Pop, pulling in over 500k viewers. Season two of Masha and The Bear will premiere on Tiny Pop in June. On Cartoonito, Masha continues to grow in popularity and is among the channel’s top 10 shows. Part one of season three premiered on Cartoonito last month with the second half of season three launching in October. Master toy partner Simba Smoby will capitalise on the success of Masha’s free-to-air broadcast and season three with a product range comprised of new mini dolls, feature dolls, plush, and all new play sets. Simba’s hero line for autumn/winter 2018 is the lights and sounds Big Bear House playset. With two floors of play and plenty of interactive features, plus articulated figures of Masha and The Bear, the Big Bear House should prove popular with all Masha fans. The Big Bear House will be TV promoted in autumn/winter 2018. Also available will be a wide range of collectible mini dolls. Each doll will come with a different outfit or theme such as cooking, school, and magic. Plush and doll twin packs, which include a plush bear and Masha dolls, are on offer too. Small packs include a 25cm plush bear and 12cm Masha doll, while the large pack includes a 43cm plush bear and 23cm Masha doll. The Simba style guide has also been refreshed with a vibrant new look designed to help Masha products stand out on the toy shelf. The range will be supported with a 360 marketing plan comprising of TV, VOD, influencers and in-store.

Casdon 01253 608 428 | With decades of experience, Casdon combines pre-school play with household names to bring realistic role-play toys and accessories to youngsters. Conveniently sectioned into Little Helper and Little Cook, Casdon’s product range offers a variety of items to inspire kids during role-play. The Little Helper collection is home of the Dyson replica vacuums. These toy vacuums features real suction and the same cyclonic action as an actual Dyson, and are instantly recognisable. Another classic from Casdon’s range of role-play toys are the Hetty and Henry Household Cleaning Sets. Henry’s set, in recognisable red, and Hetty’s, in pale pink, feature a dustpan and brush, mop, sweeping brush and more, allowing kids to help with household cleaning tasks. The Little Cooks collection is an ideal range for kids who love to pretend cook. The Mr Kipling Cake Stand & Tea Set allows little ones to treat friends and family to afternoon tea. This brightly coloured shape sorting cake stand includes a host of cakes plus plates and cutlery to help with serving. Alternatively, little ones can create a make believe breakfast with the various Morphy Richards sets available. Each collection comes with a heritage and quality that parents trust. Casdon will also be increasing its marketing support for retailers this year, with a strategic year-round online campaign to further consumer’s awareness of the company’s popular toys.

Juratoys 020 8878 2133 | Babypop, from French wooden toy brand Janod, is a wooden baby and toddler range combining a fresh palette of pastel colours – orange, blue and yellow, ideal for the modern nursery – with natural baby-safe FSC certified beech wood and rubber elements. With three friendly mascots, a bear, rabbit and fox, the range comprises a variety of products all suitable from birth. The wooden baby Activity Gym features three mobiles offering sound (a bell), visual stimulation (a mirror), and tactile stimulation in the form of a silicon ring with movable 3D knobs and wooden washers. Also available is a standalone Activity Gym attachment, with ties which allow parents to attach it to their own cosys, strollers or gyms. Parents can also choose stimulating rattles for their baby or toddler; a blue Bunny Rattle with coloured wooden beads, or a yellow Bear Rattle with four coloured washers are available. Pram rattles offer an on-the-move option to keep baby stimulated, with bells, a mirror, wooden beads and spinning characters. For teething babies and toddlers, there are the Fox and Bunny Teething Rings. Featuring wooden beads and a soft silicon ring with bobbles, the teether helps to relieve the pain and discomfort of teething flares. The Babypop range also includes push-along wooden toys, featuring coloured silicone wheels on a chunky FSC certified wooden body. A blue Push Along Bunny, red Fox and yellow Bear are available, all with friendly expressions. The range is presented in a new style of packaging, ideal for gifting to new and expecting parents. See through box-fronts allow the recipient to see the product inside, and the boxes are sturdy enough that they can also be used for storage and safe-keeping.

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GP Flair 020 8643 0320 | This year sees the Just Play division at GP Flair adding to its pre-school portfolio with two new Disney Junior licences, new themes for PJ Masks, and more. Fans of the pre-school series PJ Masks can look forward to new additions to the popular toy collection. Turbo Blast Racers, available for spring, are racing vehicles that feature a sleek design and deluxe accents. Each vehicle comes with one 3” PJ Masks character figure dressed in an exclusive Turbo Blast outfit and equipped with a matching racing helmet. For late spring, the new Romeo’s Lab Playset joins the collection. This is the first set to be focused exclusively on Romeo, the villain from the show. The wheeled hero play set opens to reveal a secret lair with two levels of play, and features a light and sound control panel, working crane, laser launcher and rolling lab charger. This summer, PJ Masks will be launching into space on a Super Moon Adventure. Central to this theme will be the Super Moon Adventure Rocketship. Mechanical doors and ramps open at the touch of a button, and rocket sound effects and lights can be triggered by pressing the button on the top. The toy also houses a space rover that enables Gekko to leave the ship and explore on his own. Meanwhile, the new PJ Masks Robot adds electronic play into the mix and features lights, sounds and bendable arms. Kids can press PJ Robot’s head to change his expression, which in turn activates separate sound modes as he rolls along. Just Play is the master toy partner for the new Disney pre-school property Vampirina. Launched this spring, the range includes pre-school products across multiple categories including plush, dress up, dolls and play sets. Fans of the show can choose from the fully articulated 15cm Vee Doll, the 30cm Bat-tastic Talking Vee & Friends, or the Scare B & B Playset, which looks just like the Vampirina’s home in the show. This three-level set is packed with features and stands a full 66cm tall. Vampirina glows while she hangs out in various locations throughout the house, including in the surprise telescopic bedroom. Vehicle play is also possible with the Hauntley’s Mobile Vehicle, which will be joined in autumn by two Spooky Scooter sets featuring both Vee and her friend Poppy on scooters that really roll. July will see the launch of the Puppy Dog Pals collection, based on the Disney Junior series. As master toy partner, Just Play is getting set to launch its toy line. Figures are a key offering while the hero Doghouse Playset, which comes with kidpowered features, posable figures and a vehicle, completes the range.

Hape/Marbel 08456 000 286 |

Schleich 01279 870 000 | Learning about animals opens up a fascinating world for pre-school children, and with Schleich’s extensive collection of farm and wild life animals, little ones can learn as they play. Each Schleich animal, whether new or part of the existing line-up, can be collected one by one until an entire play world is created. Kids can couple their collections with the ready-to-play sets and accessories to complete the setup. Joining the Farm World collection this year are a Yorkshire Terrier and French Bulldog, whilst the Texas Longhorn, the Hereford Cow and Calf, the Brownish Cow, and the Black Bull are also added to the range. For autumn, the Large Farm House will be unveiled. This hero playset comes with a host of accessories, and features a farm family and exclusive animals for extra play value. Retailers and consumers alike can also opt for the Adventure Tree House, an ideal complement to the range of farm-themed toys. New arrivals to the Wild Life range will make their debut too. The Ranger and Indian Rhinoceros Starter Set, the Panda Enclosure set, and the Trap with Ranger offer multiple play functions and boxed set value for consumer appeal. Retailers will also have first sight of the true-to-life 4x4 Vehicle with Winch playset, due to launch in September. Like all Schleich products, the new Farm World and Wild Life figurines and playsets are designed with attention to detail and hand-painted with care. The pre-school portfolio will be supported by a substantial PR and marketing campaign for 2018.

Hape introduces its new collection of pre-school sand toys, which encourage outdoor play and help to develop a child’s enjoyment of fresh air and exercise. This year sees a new collection of sand toys hitting retailers’ shelves, including water wheels, monument moulds, grabbers, diggers, beach barrows and much more. With Hape’s new Monuments collection, kids can recreate some of the world’s most famous sites from their very own neighbourhood. The collection includes the Colosseum, Eiffel Tower, Sydney Opera House, the Taj Mahal and the Parthenon. Alongside the enjoyment of creating famous landmarks, the Monuments range also offers early learning, as the activity encourages kids and their parents to discuss the countries in which the landmarks are found. With the new collection of seaside mould sets, kids can play at running their own business from the beach front. The Ice-Cream Shop lets kids serve their family and friends a scoop of sand and a sprinkling of imagination, while the Master Bricklayer Set allows kids to work on their creations from the ground up, one brick at a time. Also available is a selection of easy to use beach tools. With the Driller, kids can explore deep into the sand, and perhaps even find water. The Grabber is ideal for searching for buried treasure, and the Hand Digger is a handy multi-functional tool combining a shovel, scoop and digger in one.

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For further information please call +44 (0)1293 804599

© 2018 Alpha All rights reserved.


Alpha Animation and Toys 01293 804 599 |

Golden Bear 01952 608 308 |

Super Wings, the popular pre-school TV show, continues to go from strength to strength, and the brand will carry on evolving with new products for 2018. The spring/summer range features new characters from Series 2, which will appeal to fans of the show. All five new characters will launch across two different SKUs: Transform a Bots and Transforming Vehicles. Jett, Paul, Donnie and Dizzy all have new robo-suits in Series 2, to help them solve bigger challenges. Kids will enjoy role-playing with the Deluxe Transforming Vehicles, which come with a 3” Transform a Bot character. The toys transform from plane, to robot, to vehicle, in just a few simple steps. For outdoor play, Bubble Blast Jett is a must have for any Jett fan. Jett releases a continuous stream of bubbles as kids fly him around. New for autumn, at over 14” tall, Jett’s Super Robot Suit transforms from a free-wheeling vehicle to a free-standing figure. Jett’s Super Robot Suit features lights and sounds, and a Transforming Jett Vehicle is also included. Jett’s Take Off Tower is also new to the range; a portable 2-in-1 airport play set, for on the go Super Wings play. Robot Ready Jett offers pre-schoolers engaging interaction and light features, plus over 15 sounds and phrases. Children can push Jett’s nose to hear him speak in multiple phrases, while his eyes and booster light up. Opening his arm makes Jett say his flight commands, and his left leg panel will reveal Jett’s flight status. Super Wings will continue to be TVpromoted throughout the season, with new creatives and targeted social media activity. Series 1 will continue on Tiny Pop in the first half of 2018, while Series 2 hit screens on Cartoonito in February.

A staple in the company’s pre-school portfolio, Golden Bear’s popular In the Night Garden collection is getting a whole new refresh for 2018, which focuses on the brand’s very young core audience and its bedtime slot. The plush range has been redesigned with larger eyes and softer fabrics. Leading the range is Sleepy Time Igglepiggle, who gently sways his head along to soothing lullabies and features softly glowing cheeks. The new Interactive Adventure Playset is the big attraction for autumn/winter and features a circular track with motorised musical Ninky Nonk train, light-up carousel, songs and phrases, and more. There are also new additions to the Mr Tumble Something Special range, including Nursery Rhymes with Mr Tumble, who plays five popular nursery rhymes when his hand is pressed. The Mr Tumble Domino Train allows pre-schoolers to load the feeder on top of the train with 35 brightly coloured dominoes and watch as it lays the domino track, ready to be knocked down. The Twirlywoos family is also expanding this autumn with Chatty Chick, Chickedy, Toodloo and Great BigHoo. Featuring soft fabrics and sparkly head tufts, kids can press the character’s tummies to hear their signature sounds from the TV show. New for 2018 is the Dinosaur Roar toy collection. Inspired by the original children’s book by Paul and Henrietta Stickland, the range will include Clip-ons, Fun Sounds Soft Toys and a Roaring Dinosaur Roar Feature soft toy. The toy range has been designed to complement the brand’s educational programme with the Natural History Museum. The programme uses the subject of dinosaurs to encourage early STEM learning through the introduction of fundamental concepts of science and the natural world. Finally, the award-winning My First JCB range offers a host of vehicles for active pre-schoolers to enjoy. From the little hand-sized Rolling Diggers to the popular Big Wheelers, everything in the range offers both indoor and outdoor play value.

Funrise 01908 555 640 | Funrise’s range of vehicles is ideal for pre-schoolers and is growing for 2018 with a new partnership and innovative features. Herodrive is an innovative collection that combines kids' favourite entertainment characters with original play features to deliver vehicles for pre-schoolers. To launch this new brand, Funrise has partnered with Warner Bros. Consumer Products to create a collection of DC Super Friends Herodrive vehicles. The Herodrive DC Super Friends collection will launch with themed character vehicles inspired by DC characters such as Batman, Superman, The Flash and more. Vehicles will be available in a range of sizes and styles. Mash Machines fuses together iconic vehicles such as police cars and fire trucks with DC Super Friends characters, while Power Pals plush vehicles feature wobble wheels and sounds for the youngest pre-schoolers. Each Signal Squad vehicle, from the collection of DC Super Friends-inspired stylised vehicles, projects its own DC Super Hero logo, and the Batman Racer motorised vehicle features lights plus Batman and Batmobile-inspired sounds. The Tonka collection is ideal for indoor and outdoor play. New for autumn is Power Movers, a range of rugged construction vehicles that feature new Motion Drive Technology. Allowing for intuitive play patterns, the innovative technology brings the dump truck, front loader, excavator and cement mixer vehicles from the range to life. With Motion Drive Technology, kids push the vehicle forward to make the engine rev and activate the lights. Pushing the vehicle backwards activates back-up sounds, and working the mechanical feature of each vehicle triggers hydraulic sounds and makes the lights flash. The interactive features of the vehicles create an engaging and realistic play experience.

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ŠDisney. Based on the Winnie The Pooh works by A.A. Milne and E.H. Shepard


Character Options 01616 339 800 | Character Options’ Teletubbies and Peppa Pig collections see new additions this year, and a new range of PJ Masks Arts & Craft toys also hits the shelves. For spring, the Peppa Pig Family Pack offers imaginative play, and the Figure and Accessory packs have been refreshed with new figures such as Gerald the Giraffe. The Pick Up & Play assortment is a collection of foldaway play sets in the shape of Peppa’s face. These sets open up to reveal a scene such as the beach or the playground, with a figure and accessories included. Alternatively, for vehicle-based play, Police Officer Panda has joined the vehicle assortment. Autumn will see the introduction of the Peppa Pig Mobile Medical Centre, a 2-in-1 Ambulance play set that folds out into a medical centre. Based on the When I Grow Up theme, a new Nurse Peppa feature plush will be available, with an otoscope and interactive stethoscope that makes a heartbeat sound. She also says medical phrases. Follow Me Peppa snorts, giggles and plays music, and there’s a Follow me game mode too. Several new launches join the Teletubbies toy range. With twisting head, arms and waist and a jingling sound, the Twist ‘N’ Chime figures, available in all four characters, help encourage dexterity and imaginative play. Clip-on plush toys of all four Teletubbies and the Tiddlytubbies are available for fans to collect, while the existing 8” Talking Plush features new styling and a standing pose. Later in the year a new nursery plush range will be introduced, offering sensory input with different textures, sounds and colours. The range includes a multi-texture Tinky Winky plush, the Laa-Laa Jiggler Toy, and a Po shaped Stacking Ring Tower. This years also sees additions to the PJ Masks portfolio, including the Headquarters Deluxe Dough Set – a three tier set full of dough, cutters, moulds and more.

Hasbro 0208 569 1234 | Hasbro introduces new Play-Doh sets which allow kids to imagine themselves as barbers or ice cream connoisseurs. Based on the classic Play-Doh Fuzzy Pumper barber shop sets, the Play-Doh Buzz ‘n Cut Barber Shop set comes with two character thimbles that can be styled up with braids, bows, moustaches and other accessories. Kids can place a character thimble in the chair and turn the crank to grow hair or a beard. Kids can then give them a trim or shave it all off with the electric buzzer, which makes real buzzing sounds when it touches the Play-Doh compound. For the first time ever, the Play-Doh Kitchen Creations Ultimate Swirl Ice Cream Maker can create two dishes or cones of Play-Doh ice cream at the same time. Kids simply load Play-Doh colours into the ice cream dispenser, place two dishes or cones underneath, then press the lever to squeeze out pretend ice cream swirls. The 3-in-1 ice cream machine comes with a range of accessories to spark creativity.

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Sinco Creations 0161 737 7464 | From plush to Play-Doh, Sinco Creations holds an impressive pre-school portfolio, featuring classic ranges through to innovative product development with heritage brands. As the official master toy licensee of Shaun the Sheep and Timmy Time, Sinco Creations has developed a product range which is due for soft launch in autumn/winter. The range will feature Shaun the Sheep plush in various sizes, Timmy Time plush in a range of sizes, and an innovative Shaun the Sheep advent calendar featuring mini figures, stickers and jigsaws. This will be followed in 2019 with a full range of creative products that will hit shelves in time for the worldwide theatrical release of Shaun the Sheep Movie 2, due later that year. Further product ranges will also include plastic figurine sets, plush, games & puzzles, arts & crafts, tableware, and RC vehicles. Sinco will also be launching a new range of small, medium and large Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse high quality plush. These will be available for autumn/winter in time to celebrate the iconic character’s 90th anniversary, and complement the company’s current Disney plush collection. From plush to crafts, Sinco welcomes the Play-Doh On The Go! Activity book to its expanding pre-school portfolio. With five vehicles to create and four Play-Doh pots included, this is an ideal travel companion for Play-Doh fun on the move.





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The N˚1 Selling item since the Toot-Toot Range Launch in 2011


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Bandai 020 8324 6160 | Crayola comes to the pre-school aisle in the form of dough this spring, as Bandai UK enters the category with a line-up of colourful dough and playsets. Creating things with dough is a popular aspect of pre-school play, and with Bandai’s Crayola Dough collection, parents and grandparents can be sure of safe and high-quality dough in the brightest of colours. Made from the finest Japanese flour and presented in eye-catching non-PVC packaging, the line carries through the highly recognisable Crayola crayons look. All the colours in the new range are true to the fully patented Crayola pantones, and are also available as affordable foil wrapped refill packs. Any respectable dough collection includes playsets, and Crayola has many of the most popular pre-school themes to choose from at a variety of price points. Each set complements the next, ensuring no cross over of accessories and encouraging additional purchases in store. Smaller sets include the Bakery and Candy Shop and include two tubs of dough, while food-themed play can be extended with the Burger Chef and Ice Cream Parlour. Each set contains moulds, tools and accessories, so kids can create a pretend feast for all. Another popular play pattern includes hair play. The Crayola Dough Hairstylist Set lets kids extrude dough to create the character’s do, re-styling it time and again. Alternatively, the Construction Zone playset includes road making tools and more. The Crayola Dough collection will launch with a mass sampling campaign and awareness drive specifically designed to reach parents and grandparents.

KD Toys 01727 827 194 | Engaging and imaginative play is at the core of every pre-school toy from the KD Group. The Infinifun range encourages the development of physical skills and aids cognitive development, whilst inspiring quality playtime. The toys offer a variety of themes including Musical Fun, Animal Activity, Role-Play, Tech Like Grown-ups and Bath Time Fun. To build on the success of the Infinifun range, which already includes 20 top performing products, autumn/winter will see the introduction of eight new toys across a range of these themes. The Infinifun Wild Water Island floats in the bath tub and offers a variety of engaging features to introduce kids to early STEM concepts, like water power and cause and effect. Little ones can also learn with Splashy the Crazy Jelly Fish, as they turn the snorkel to create a splashy effect. The 4-in-1 Pirate Adventure boat rocks back and forth as water is poured in to the hull, and once the hull is full - Captain P will appear. To build on the successful Tech Like Grown Ups range, KD will introduce the innovative Talkie Phone. This enables children and parents to have a twoway conversation between handsets like a real phone. The child handset also includes activities which help kids learn about animals, vehicles, colours and numbers. Other products in the range include the new TV advertised Colour My World Bitsy Bot Robot, and Bitsy Bot Yoga Mat, while the Creative Play My First Art Xylopad musical easel includes ergonomic drawing pucks, designed to fit the hand of an infant and match their development. For ELA, the Paw Patrol range continues with 3D Walkie Talkies, My First Microphone, and Quiz and Learn Case. My First Tablet includes 30 touch sensitive icons, so that kids can learn about vehicles, numbers, colours, shapes and characters while playing on the multi-theme platform. Finally, the Fireman Sam Communicator, Turn and Learn Wheel, My First Laptop, Notebook and Receiver will continue to be supported at retail throughout 2018.

DKL Marketing 01604 678 780 | DKL’s Scratch Pull Along range sees two new additions - Dog César and Rabbit Louis. These pull-along animals with wobbly necks have wheels with rubber strips so they won’t leave any marks on the floor. Another addition to the Scratch range is the Circus Truck, a colourful shape sorter with four animals to aid co-ordination development. The Escabbo Tidy Bath Bag with Squirters is a special fast drying bag to store and dry all Escabbo bath time products. The Tidy Bath Bag comes with Three Sea Squirters, and is made of hygienic material that ensures no mildew. Happy Monsters, Tropical Fish, Marine Animals and Alphabet Letters add colourful elements for babies and pre-schoolers.

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Trends UK 01295 768 078 | Supported with TV, marketing and PR campaigns, the Peppa Pig Electronic Learning Toy range sees a new addition for autumn. Offering an engaging play pattern, Count with Peppa teaches about numbers and colours, as children enjoy playing with colourful pretend coins. Peppa she will count the coins and give the correct figure. The coins can then be retrieved from the purse on Peppa’s tummy before starting over again. The successful Peppa Pig Interactive Playmat will also continue to be a big focus for the company this year. The Peppa Pig ELA range will be supported with TV aimed at key target audiences during the important buying periods, and a specific year-long ELA PR programme, securing coverage in all types of media. The Mr Tumble Learning Pad is an ideal toy for any fan of Something Special. Combining learning about colours, letters, numbers and musical instruments with Mr Tumble and his friends, the pad is a truly interactive toy. Fans of Thomas & Friends are also catered for, with a range of ELA toys featuring a host of engaging activities and sounds to explore. The Thomas Flip & Learn Phone is a chunky flip-up phone which comes with a number of games to play, Thomas sound effects, and a backlit answer-screen and image of Thomas and Percy. Also available is the Learn with Thomas Alphaphonics, an easy to handle toy featuring seven different play modes. The play patterns are designed to help develop memory as kids follow sequences and enhance their concentration skills, which are rewarded with music and sound effects.

Playmobil 01268 548 111 | Brightly coloured and an ideal size for little hands, the Playmobil 1.2.3 range will be expanding with new additions this year. This pre-school range helps young children understand and explore the world through creative and imaginative play. New for 2018 is the Take Along Market Stall, which comes with two figures, a shopping trolley and groceries, so children can either visit the store or run their very own stall. To challenge young minds, the toy has a shape sorting function, allowing children to match the brightly coloured fruit and veg puzzle pieces to the correctly shaped space. The case is spacious, allowing the contents to be stowed away easily. With its practical carry handle, the toy can easily be taken along on adventures. This year also sees the release of the Pirate Island and Pirate Ship. With a treasure cave to hide precious cargo, a turtle that floats in water, a pirate figure and a shape sorting function, the Pirate Island allows children to use their imagination to create their own island adventures. Continuing the high-seas adventures, the floating Pirate Ship comes with a pirate figure and cabin boy, which can sit aboard the ship or in the crow’s nest. The ship also comes with pirate treasure and a watersquirting cannon. An ideal choice for bath time, the toy lets children put themselves behind the captain’s wheel. All of the toys in the 1.2.3 range are safe, hygienic and easy to clean, offering parents that all-important piece of mind.

Inside Out Toys 01908 969 969 | Through its official distributor, Inside Out Toys, Jumini offers an extensive range of wooden role-play toys, including a new baking tray set, a cleaning trolley with lots of accessories and the ever-popular tool belt. A child’s education often starts at home, so whether it is learning to tell the time, recognising shapes, or practicing counting, there is a whole raft of educational toys on offer from Jumini to support learning. The Whale Clock features removable numbers, moving clock hands and a blackboard on the reverse side, with a board rubber and chalks included, and so is ideal for preschoolers who are learning to tell the time. Playing games can be an ideal way to encourage children to interact with others. Jumini’s Hook a Duck Magnetic Fishing Game and Caterpillar Balance Game provide an engaging way to play with other children or adults, as players take turns at catching the brightly coloured wooden ducks, or carefully stacking the friendly wooden bugs. The new range of My First Mr Men & Little Miss wooden toys should be instantly recognised by pre-schoolers, especially now that two series of Mr Men shows are aired on Channel 5 every weekday morning. A classic brand, Mr Men is loved by all generations. The basic shapes and bright colours of the characters now feature in a selection of Jumini wooden toys, including a Mr Men Little Miss threading game and a Mr Men Little Miss Shape Sorter which was recently selected for The Guardian’s Christmas Gift Guide. A trusted brand, Jumini is an approved supplier to Toymaster and the AIS Group, and its toys have won several awards.

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We have over 200 new products to share for 2018 Come and visit us on stand 20 at the AIS show

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Geomag 07831 886 997 | Through its collaboration with Giuseppe Ferrario, a well-known Italian illustrator and artist, Geomag has developed a line that grows along with imaginative children. The Swiss company has a wide range of products, from Magicube for younger children, the Classic, Mechanics, Kor lines, the Geomag Pro L line, and finally the Mechanics Gravity range for older and more experienced builders. For pre-schoolers, Geomagworld presents Mix & Match and Free Building, two new products that expand the Magicube range. The magnetic cubes, thanks to the invisible forces of magnetism, free the imagination and creativity of younger children. The award-winning Magicube product line has revolutionised the Junior Construction category with its patented system of magnets that allows the cubes to stick together on all six sides. By exploiting the invisible forces of magnetism, builders of all ages can give free rein to their imagination, creating a huge variety of constructions. Magicube Free Building is available in sets with differing numbers of coloured cubes. The new range allows children to create a range of constructions, developing hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity. Each set of individual magnetic cubes enables kids to build solid 3D structures through simple and creative play activities. Geomag also presents the new Magicube Mix & Match set. Figures and animals are represented vertically on three faces of each magnetic cube in the Mix & Match range. After reproducing the suggested figures, kids can then put together their own fantastical friends, mixing characters and animals with each other to create their own imaginative builds. The innovative Magicube playing platform is also complemented by a wide range of products which feed and stimulate imagination. The range offers children play experiences based upon some of the most popular pre-school themes - animals, fruit, princesses, robots, plus castles and other constructions - covering all price ranges.

K’Nex 01189 253 270 | Kid K’Nex building sets are designed for little hands, meaning children can easily click and connect the Kid K'Nex rods and connectors. Friendly eyes and characterful body parts add to the fun and open-ended imaginative play. Each set comes with colour coded creative building ideas, and the sets aid the development of fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination and dexterity. After a successful launch in 2017, supported by Tiny Pop Sponsorship on TV, Kid K’Nex has become established as the No. 3 brand in the Junior Construction market, and has held that position from November through to January 2018 (source NPD). New for 2018 is the Budding Builders Building Set, which includes 100 Kid K'Nex rods, connectors, blocks and personality parts, like eyes and feet. The set also comes with a building idea sheet with ideas for 50 models - vehicles, bugs, animals, undersea creatures and more. The tub doubles as a handy storage case for easy clean-up and transportation. The Zoomin’ Rides Building Set includes 65 parts and 20 building ideas, for kids who like to build models that go, while the Ocean Buddies Building Set, which includes 65 pieces including rods, connectors, and personality parts, provides an engaging sea-themed play experience. Creative kids can build silly buddies with blinking eyes with the new 23 piece Blinkin’ Buddies Building Set. Filled with Kid K’Nex rods, connectors, and personality parts, this set lets kids’ imaginations run wild as they craft up to five friendly creatures. Following the friend theme, the Stretchin’ Friends Building Set allows kids to build friends with stretching necks and tails. The new Zoo Friends Building Set comes with 30 building ideas and 55 colourful parts and pieces so kids can build their favourite zoo animals. Rounding out the range of Kid K’Nex products is the substantial Oodles of Pals set, which includes 60 building ideas and 115 colourful parts and pieces that kids can use to create imaginative Pal builds.

Bladez Toyz 023 9265 8259 | New to the Bladez Toyz pre-school offering are the new STEAM inspired Connect and Play Track Playsets for Thomas & Friends and Hot Wheels. Designed to aid child development, encourage problem solving and coordination, the playsets enable Thomas fans to build a track using the Sodor themed jumbo puzzle pieces and then set their motorised Thomas engine to travel round the track as he follows the groove in the tiles. By rearranging the order of the eight tile pieces, children can create dozens of different routes and arrange the track in a variety of combinations to test out different shapes and patterns. If Thomas goes off course he will continue moving on any flat surface, but can be picked up and placed back on the track to start over. Tested by The Good Toy Guide and awarded Recommended status for promoting imaginative play and engaging children, the Thomas Track Playset is available now, with more engines joining the collection later this year. The Hot Wheels version includes eight brightly coloured tiles and a classic Hot Wheels Bone Speeder vehicle, and will be launching this summer.

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Sambro 08458 739 380 |

IMC Toys 01904 720 908 | IMC is gearing up for new toy launches with its master toy licence, Mickey and the Roadster Racers, in partnership with Disney. New content continues to be released for the property throughout the year, with Series 2 planned for launch in September. The pre-school animation follows the six main characters – Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, Donald and Daisy - as they embark on races around the globe. Series 1 continues to air on Disney Junior for spring/summer 2018, and IMC Toys will be supporting the property with a year-round marketing campaign, including digital media, social platforms, and integrated PR. Pre-schoolers can immerse themselves into the world of Mickey and the Roadster Racers, with IMC’s range of figures, vehicles and playsets. In addition to current lines already available, a number of new launches will be available for spring/summer, with a focus on entry-level price points. Available from April, Mini Vehicles Mickey Roadster Racers: Hot dog is the second wave of single pack mini vehicles, with six different characters to collect, while the Mickey Roadster Super-Looping Launcher lets kids race a Mini Mickey vehicle around a 360° loop. With Minnie Fashion Dolls, kids can style Minnie for any occasion. New themed dressing-up dolls for this year include Gym Fun, Jet Set and Pretty Pop Star. Each doll comes with three different outfits, accessories to match and a dressing room. This year will also see a special edition anniversary line, for all generations, to celebrate Mickey’s 90th Anniversary.

New to Sambro’s pre-school collection for 2018 is Disney’s Vamparina, based on the popular character Vamparina “Vee” Hauntley, who features in the new TV series on Disney Jr. The range will include a selection of bags and accessories inspired by the style guide and show themes. A collection of Disney Vamparina novelty toys and arts & crafts products for pre-schoolers will also be introduced this year. The company’s Sesame Street range launched during autumn/winter last year and Sambro is now introducing a new feature plush – Talking Cookie Monster Puppet. The cuddly character sounds just like the real thing, and kids can make his mouth move while he chomps on cookies. Talking Cookie Monster Puppet is an ideal accompaniment to Tickle Me Elmo, which again proved popular at retail last Christmas. As well as Sesame Street plush toys and bean toys, there is also a brightly coloured Sesame Street Puppet theatre available. The theatre includes character puppets, allowing young children to bring the characters from the show to life. Made of wipe-clean fabric, the puppet theatre also features a clock with show times to enhance imaginative play. A new Elmo feature plush will be launching in the near future too. Paw Patrol continues to be one of Sambro’s best-selling ranges, as the company continues to add new lines and innovations across all of its categories. A new selection of Paw Patrol character backpacks is available as well as additions to the arts & crafts range. Sambro’s extensive Paw Patrol range allows retailers to stock full licensed ranges at multiple price points, and across varying categories. Shimmer & Shine was one of the pre-school licensing success stories for 2017, and Sambro is launching new bags which feature recognisable styling including sequins and glitter, capturing the essence of the popular pair.

Orange Tree Toys 01242 244 500 | Orange Tree Toys has an extensive range of development toys perfect for pre-school children. Based on its most popular Lion and Pink Mouse characters, these toys have been bestsellers for the company for a number of years, providing learning and enjoyment to the children who own them. This year sees an expansion to the development toy range, with shape sorters, bead frames and a number of other new products making appearances in the Peter Rabbit and Crocodile collections. The new Crocodile range is a bright and colourful collection focused on increasing engagement and enjoyment whilst learning. The Crocodile collection will be expanded this year with educational toys including an abacus and teaching clocks, making the range ideal for learning at pre-school level and beyond. Also available in the Crocodile range are threading toys, number puzzles and hammer benches, all hand painted in bright, eye-catching colours to encourage colour recognition and the development of motor skills. As part of the Peter Rabbit range, Orange Tree has launched a range of attractive hand painted wooden numbers. Featuring Peter Rabbit and his friends, these are a tactile way to help children learn the numbers from 1-10. Once basic numbers have been mastered, parents can then mix and match number combinations to increase learning further. Also included in the Peter Rabbit range are shape sorters and bead frames. These products launched at Spring Fair earlier this year and are proving to be strong sellers. Based on the beloved characters Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddle-Duck, these toys are ideal for teaching shapes, colours and coordination, whilst still being a traditional and long-lasting toy.

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VTech 01235 546 810 | This year VTech will launch a number of new pre-school products, each developed to stimulate the senses and imagination through the introduction of age appropriate concepts. This autumn/winter, kids can set sail with the Toot-Toot Friends Kingdom Pirate Ship. Packed full of features, the pirate ship opens up to reveal a Treasure Island play set. It also comes with three Toot-Toot Friends characters; Captain Monty, Sailor Stanley and Monkey. Kids can place the characters on the MagicPoint location to hear sounds or press the cannon button to launch the cannonball, while the light up buttons reveal role-play responses and more. In addition to this, VTech is also launching the 4-in-1 Touch & Learn Activity Desk. The desk includes an interactive desktop, stylus and four double-sided touch pages filled with engaging content including letters, numbers, music, colours and more. It also transforms from a desk into an easel and blackboard, with plenty of storage space for art supplies. The interactive LED display teaches letter and number stroke order, and the desk also includes a toy phone and music player featuring over 20 songs.

Little Tikes 08450 533 333 |

Halilit 01254 872 454 | Halilit is showcasing a number of new products for 2018. The company moves into this year by enhancing its pre-school portfolio with TrueDough, the innovative craft activity that allows children to lead their own play, as well as expanding its established brands such Edushape, Doron Layeled, and Halilit Musical Instruments. Edushape invites children to play and learn through imaginative and constructive play, manipulating their environment to make new creations, encouraging creative thinking and introducing cause and effect concepts. Children can construct houses, forts, vehicles and artistic sculptures with the Magic Brix Motion set. The flexible, soft and easy-to-handle Magic Brix snap together quickly with unlimited creative possibilities and the set includes two axels, allowing kids to create moving vehicles. Edushape has also created Curiosity Cubes, a skill-based toy with different levels for developing children. Each candy-coloured Curiosity Cube contains a secret which can be revealed by moving it, looking inside to find the beads and manoeuvring the cube until the beads land where they belong. Doron Layeled is back with more wooden puzzles and games. With real life photography and large pegs, Doron is a popular choice amongst pre-school children. Made from high quality materials and printed in crisp, vivid colours, the wooden puzzles make learning fun, promoting imagination, inspiring creativity and providing an educational aspect. With these puzzles, children can piece together tropical fish, farmyard animals and everyday items. TrueDough craft activity sets contain everything needed for a child to make their own brightly coloured dough, with little adult supervision required. Once made, the dough can be shaped and then baked to create keepsakes which can also be painted if desired. TrueDough uses only natural ingredients and patented powders for a completely safe and satisfying play experience.

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Little Tikes has a host of toys to enhance learning through play and engage little ones at a key stage of development. Products include the Light ‘n Go 3-in-1 Activity Walker, Movin’ Lights Monkey, RC vehicles including drones and cars, and Waffle Blocks which encourage creative, constructive play. Available in either pink or orange/ lime green colourways, the 3-in-1 Activity Walker integrates a walker which projects light displays onto the floor, an activity table with features to aid learning, and a sit and play toy for fun on the floor. With three different play modes which encourage learning and development, including buttons which call out shapes and colours, play melodies and make animal noises, even the most curious kids will be kept busy for hours. Movin’ Lights Monkey offers two ways for babies to get moving. In chase mode, babies can crawl after the coloured lights projected from Monkey’s lantern as he moves and twists. In dance mode, the 50+ songs, sounds and phrases encourage babies to dance to the beat. Waffle Blocks feature a simple building mechanism that allows for hours of construction play. The Waffle Blocks Castle has 90 bright and vibrant coloured building blocks and includes dragons, knights and a horse and carriage. Also in the collection are the Waffle Blocks Farm and Waffle Blocks Fire Truck. Little Tikes has also introduced the Wheelz and Flyerz range. Making remote controlled toys accessible for young children, the range includes Tyre Twister Lights, a police car with sirens and lights which goes forwards and backwards, plus can perform back flips. Also available are My First Drone and My First Flyer, which are simple to both take off and land.


Mattel 01628 500 000 | The Fisher-Price range includes the Babygear 2-in-1 Sit-to-Stand Activity Centre, which entertains little ones as they grow from baby to toddler, while the Newborn Deluxe Kick & Play Piano Gym features Smart Stages technology to develop with babies at key milestones. Joining the range later in the year is the 4-in-1 Ocean Activity Centre. The Infant Laugh & Learn range introduces the Smart Stages Learn with me Puppy Walker, Puppy’s Check Up Kit, and Sweet Manners Tea Set, while the Smart Moves Rockit features interactive lights, music, and phrases. For fans of role-play the Laugh & Learn Smart Learning Home and 3-in-1 Smart Car offer engaging play experiences. The Bright Beats range also introduces the Learning Train. Joining the Seek & Spell Penguin in the Pre-school Think & Learn category, Rocktopus encourages pre-schoolers to create music and develop their maths, while toddlers can develop their emotional intelligence with the Take Turns Skyway and Friend Ship. Fisher-Price also offers a portfolio of character brands, including the Imaginext Jurassic World range. Shimmer & Shine presents Zaharacorns, and Blaze and the Monster Machines launches Robo Riders. Thomas & Friends will travel the world for the first time with refreshed content, first seen this summer in the movie Thomas & Friends: Big World! Big Adventures!. September will see the launch of Series 22 on Channel 5’s Milkshake. The Thomas & Friends range includes the TrackMaster Twisting Tornado Set, while the Turbo Jump Jungle Set is inspired by the film. The My First Railway Pals Track Pack will expand existing playsets, and other launches include the Adventures Dynamite Dino Set, Minis Boost ‘n Blast Stunt Set and Wooden new-look engines. The Super Station continues and the engine range is expanding with the addition of Ace, a racing car from the film, and Nia, an African engine who will be part of the new Steam Team.


0M+ 6M+

18M+ 3Y+



Rainbow Designs 01329 227300 | Rainbow Designs has brought to life Disney’s iconic characters in a new range of high-quality baby products. The Classic Hundred Acre Wood signature collection is a stylish and soft Disney Classic Pooh range inspired by the Tales from One Hundred Acre Wood storybooks. Celebrating the heritage of A.A Milne’s classic characters, this collection shows Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends in an original style that is suited to babies. The collection features an array of nursery plush essentials such as Ring Rattles, Comfort Blankets and Character Plush toys, developed using only the softest of fabrics.

Childhood is magical For all your pre-school needs...


role play

Spin Master 01628 535 000 | Paw Patrol remained the No. 1 Pre-school property in 2017 and was No. 1 Toy Property in the month of September (NPD EPoS September 2017), promising strong retail opportunities throughout 2018. The brand has been popular since its initial inception and is currently broadcast in over 160 countries and territories. The Paw Patrol toy line welcomes a new range of products this spring, based on the latest TV Mission Paw theme. New products include the TV advertised Mission Paw Mission Cruiser, a new moveable mission command centre, plus the Mission Paw Mini Vehicles. Children can join the Paw Patrol pups in the Mission Cruiser. This vehicle includes Robo Dog in his mini vehicle, and there is room in the back of the cruiser, and in the driver’s seat, for fans favourite pups and their mini vehicles too (sold separately). Kids can use the pop-up screen and animated mission card to view their next mission. With real working wheels and kid-powered racing, the Mission Paw Mini Vehicles are ideal for fans of the show. The new toys include an animated Mission Paw card compatible with the Mission Cruiser, meaning kids can collect all of the Mission Paw pups, their vehicles and the Mission Cruiser for even more adventures.


bath time

brought to you by E: T: 01254 872454 FOR HAPPY LIVELY LITTLE PEOPLE


MV Sports 01217 488 000 |

LeapFrog 01895 202 840 | LeapFrog has announced the latest version of its award-winning LeapStart Interactive Learning System, as well as a new updated version of its role-play item, the Shapes & Sharing Picnic Basket. The LeapStart 3D Interactive Learning System brings the pages of activity and story books to life with its pop-up 3D viewer. Using holographic technology, kids can watch as their favourite characters come to life from the pages in the books, enhancing interactivity and helping to teach numbers, colours, shapes and much more. Recommended by 97% of teachers, LeapStart 3D is packed with school and life skills for curious young learners. LeapStart 3D works with the entire library of new and existing LeapStart books (sold separately) which cover four learning levels: Nursery through to Year 1. With eight new 3D Enhanced books, children will be able to learn and play with their favourite characters from Peppa Pig, Paw Patrol, PJ Masks and more. For the first time, autumn will see the addition of Disney characters to the LeapStart learning library, with Disney Princesses, Mickey & the Roadster Racers and Pixar Pals joining the catalogue. This year also sees a new version of the popular Shapes & Sharing Picnic Basket, with new features such as a shape sorting lid, a new mode of play and two colour ways. Kids can drop pieces through the interactive shape sorting lid to hear sounds as it recognises shapes and foods. Pressing the butterfly button will bring the Shapes & Sharing Picnic Basket to life with questions such as ‘May I please have a piece of fruit?’ The Shapes & Sharing Picnic Basket can be easily switched between three modes: in Music Mode children can listen to learning songs and tunes. In Learn Mode the Picnic Basket asks kids questions about their picnic, encouraging them to use the 16-piece playset to sort, match, stack, empty and fill. In Food Mode the Picnic Basket will ask kids to place different foods through the shape sorter at the top, to develop and enhance gross motor skills. Both the LeapStart 3D Interactive Learning System and the Shapes & Sharing Picnic Basket will benefit from TV advertising and will be available for autumn/winter.

MV Sports has a comprehensive line of ownbrand and licensed pre-school wheeled toys, all with bespoke features, bold character graphics and innovative designs. Products in the PJ Masks and Paw Patrol licensed product ranges include scooters, skates, skateboards and bikes, along with authentic moulded battery operated ride-ons, such as the Catboys 6v Cat Car and award winning Marshall’s 6v Bubble Blowin’ Fire Truck. The My First 6v Electric Scooter features a wide footplate, three wheels for extra stability and an easy push button accelerator. With the flick of a switch, these electric scooters convert from motorised to freewheeling mode. There is also an option to add bubbles and steam. These runabouts are ideal first electric scooters, and are ranged across PJ Masks, Paw Patrol, Thomas, Peppa, Disney Princess and My Little Pony. Evergreen classics Peppa and Thomas and Friends have been refreshed for 2018, with Peppa moving to a more vibrant colour palette and Thomas welcoming a splash of colour and updated graphics. Vampirina is currently a popular property, and MV Sports will be supporting the licence with a range of wheeled toys available from May. Expanding the company’s pre-school portfolio is new licence Super Wings. The new Jett shaped ride-on plays the theme tune from the show, while the 6v battery operated Jett shaped ride-on features lights, forward and reverse gears and a steering wheel accelerator. Also new are Nella the Princess Knight and Rusty Rivets, with both ranges featuring bespoke shaped plaques and bold character designs. MV also has new own-brand additions with its new range of teepees under the Wigwam brand. Featuring licences such as Paw Patrol, Disney Princess and L.O.L. Surprise!, the range also includes the company’s inhouse designs. In own-brand wheeled toys, MV is introducing Zoomies for 2018, a collection of wheeled toys in animal designs including a unicorn and flamingo. The company also offers Viaggio, a great basic pedal trike, and the Ozone hubless 6v trike with easy pedal accelerator and light up trim. Finally, Grow and Go and E-moto have had a refresh in colour and design for this year.

Vivid Imaginations 01483 449944 | Colouring is mess free with Crayola Color Wonder. Color Wonder packs are available across a range of preschool licences with Paw Patrol, PJ Masks and Peppa Pig available now, and Nella the Princess Knight and Disney’s Vampirina launching for autumn/winter. Each Color Wonder Pack comes with 18 themed colouring pages and five Color Wonder Markers. Color Wonder benefits from TV and digital support throughout the year. Vivid’s range of Nella the Princess Knight toys is expanding for autumn, with Sir Garrett and Clod joining the Adventure Collection Assortment. The new Sparkle Stable Playset features a pull-out catwalk and storage trunk with dress-up accessories for Trinket, while the Style Me Trinket has a brushable mane and tail, as well as colourchange hooves. Kids can role-play being a courageous princess with the Transforming Rose Shield, which expands at the push of a button. The hero TV item for autumn is the Transforming Princess Knight Nella, which changes from princess to knight in one simple step. Kids can simply twist her belt to turn her from knight back to princess, and press the heart on Nella’s tiara for phrases and music. The Nella brand will be supported with a cross-platform marketing campaign throughout the year, to include three TV commercials for six lines.

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Peppa’s Interactive Playmat

Count with Peppa Peppa’s Sing & Learn Microphone


Learn with Thomas Alphaphonics™

Flip and Learn Phone

Mr Tumble Learning Pad

Expect so much more!

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

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14/03/2018 14:32


Posh Paws 01268 567317 | Posh Paws looks forward to a busy 2018, as it prepares to welcome a raft of new Disney merchandise including plenty of options for pre-schoolers. August will see the release of a new Winnie the Pooh movie, starring Ewan McGregor. Offering an introduction to the famous bear and his friends ahead of the movie release will be the classically styled Posh Paws My Teddy Bear Pooh collection. The Posh Paws Winnie the Pooh offering is a major focus for the firm for 2018 and to ensure its success, TV advertising is planned for Q4 featuring the My Teddy Bear Pooh range. Already available as part of the Winnie Pooh collection are Winnie the Pooh Vintage, Winnie the Pooh Tonal, and Winnie the Pooh Snuggletime, all of which feature attractive designs and cuddly characters - a great gifting option. Launching later in the year, the official movie range includes Pooh in his classic red jumper, Eeyore, Piglet and Tigger. Available as 7”, 10”and XL sizes, each toy is styled just like the characters in the film. Mickey Mouse is celebrating his 90th anniversary in November, with celebrations across the globe targeting children and families alike. As part of the celebrations, Posh Paws will be launching an original Mickey and Minnie plush range. The range will include a retro 10” gift box featuring both Mickey and Minnie presented in a classic, recognisable style. The Posh Paws Mickey Mouse range also includes plush from the Mickey’s Roadster Racers and Minnie’s Happy Helpers franchises, allowing pre-schoolers to collect their favourite characters, styled as they appear in the Disney Junior shows, in both 7” and 10” sizes. The Mickey Roadster Racers Big Head Smilers collection will also be popular with younger Mickey Mouse fans, with their oversized heads and wide smiles. The collection is available as either 8” size, displayed in a CDU, or 10” size, which comes displayed in a gift box for straightforward yet eye-catching in-store display.

Tomy 01271 336 155 | Tomy’s pre-school portfolio sees new releases under its Toomies and Johnny Tractor and Friends ranges this year. Tomy Toomies will launch eight innovative pre-school products that allow its favourite characters to move across play patterns, occasions and price points. Gearation Magnets are alien-themed gears that attach to all magnetic surfaces. Kids can flip the switch and see the gears spin both clockwise and anti-clockwise, or arrange and re-arrange the interlocking gears to create mesmerising patterns. Pushing down on the Pop n Hatch mama birds head will cause her to run with her egg until it hatches into the baby chick Sora, recognisable from Toomies’ Hide and Squeak eggs. Tomy also introduces Flappee Stackees, a puzzle concept which lets kids build Toomies elephant and parrot friends by mixing and matching blocks on a push and roll vehicle. Tomy Toomies follows the success of its Foam Cone Factory in the bath category with Peryn Shower and Scrub. Kids can give Peryn a good scrub, and when he is clean they can watch him fall in water by turning the knob on the side of the bath. The Toomies range will benefit from clean, fresh packaging and ‘try me’ functionality to increase awareness of surprise elements at retail, as well as the Good Toy Guide stamp of approval. In addition, the Tomy Toomies range will be fully supported by TV campaigns and digital media across three key periods, Easter, summer and Christmas, totalling over 1000 TVRs. Looking to pre-school vehicles, Tomy’s Johnny Tractor and Friends range brings farming fun to life whilst building knowledge of the outdoor and farming world. Every product helps develop learning with friendly characters, colour matching, numbers and shapes. Build-a-Johnny Tractor is a 16-piece buildable set including two extra drill bits. Chunky parts that are easy for little hands to assemble make this hero play set ideal for any young farmer. For the first time this year Tomy will be supporting Johnny Tractor and Friends with an above the line TV campaign of over 300 TVRs this autumn/winter, with a focus on the hero line Build a Johnny Tractor and its construction play functions.

Chicco 020 8953 6627 | With the introduction of the Food Truck 2-in-1, Chicco is combining two popular playtime concepts, the play kitchen and play vehicle, to create a kitchen on wheels. The Food Truck 2-in-1 is an activity centre that appeals to a child’s inclination for role-play, whilst also promoting the importance of socialisation. A comprehensive activity centre, Food Truck teaches the alphabet and different colours, whilst the cash till helps them learn different numbers and types of food, in both English and French. Also available are the Red Bullet Bike, Jump ‘N Fit electronic mat, Mr. Ring ring-toss game, and the electronic football skill game Goal League.

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Saban’s decision to change its master toy partner for Power Rangers came as a surprise to many. According to my sources, there was a hard-fought, four-way battle to secure the brand, with Hasbro emerging victorious, even though only a few weeks ago, another company was believed to be in pole position. In the end, the decision seems to have been driven by Haim Saban personally, with his desire to ultimately sell the brand a few years down the line likely to have been a key factor. Equally, Hasbro’s desire to increase its IP ownership will have made Power Rangers an enticing proposition. Much has been made of the strong relationship between Haim Saban and Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner, who ran Bandai Namco in the US back in the 90’s; while I have no doubt that played a crucial part in proceedings, I think it is fair to say that the size of the cheque would also have been an important consideration. Bandai will look after the brand for the next 14 months, so we’ll have to wait until next year to see what Hasbro will do with their new acquisition… The US TOTY Awards were memorable for several lively speeches, in which ‘beef’ was most definitely the order of the day. Zuru’s Nick Mowbray kicked things off by thanking MGA’s Isaac Larian “for all the publicity on LinkedIn”, while Isaac responded by thanking “WowWee for sticking it up that bald guy from Zuru.” Dull it most certainly wasn’t! On a friendlier note, The Entertainer’s Stuart Grant was thanked in two separate speeches - I’m not sure that any major US buyers got a mention, so for an international buyer to be recognised in that way was quite something… Argos trading director Andy Hannan will be leaving the business shortly (if indeed he hasn’t already done so). I don’t know whether this development heralds another round of integration / rationalisation within the Argos and Sainsbury’s empire, but it does mean that no Argos trading directors have survived the merger process, which in itself is an interesting scenario… Credible rumours are circulating that several retailers are in advanced talks to acquire parts of the Toys R Us store estate; The Range is rumoured to be looking at anything up to 30 sites, while Smyths and B&M have both been mentioned as interested parties. Negotiations won’t be entirely straightforward; many of the rent deals that TRU were paying were wildly over-priced, based on historic expectations of turnover that just aren’t there anymore. Add exorbitant business rates to the equation and the fact is that, in many cases, the numbers simply don’t add up. In reality, landlords will have to accept significantly lower offers to seal the deals. It will be interesting to see if they are prepared to do that… With large swathes of the country affected by ‘the beast from the east’ early last month, many stores took to social media to let customers know that they were closed, or that their opening hours were being severely curtailed. However, there was a silver lining; many retailers who could physically open their doors were rewarded with bumper sales of sledges. The Entertainer got in touch to say that they sold more sledges in a week than they had in the last five years, a feat replicated by many independent stores. I doubt there will be many stock rooms full of unsold sledges this year…

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Following news about Toys R Us and Maplin going into receivership, investors and fund managers started to get nervous about retail stocks in general, and poor old Mothercare found itself right in the firing line. Mothercare’s share price plummeted, not helped by an announcement that the retailer was in talks with its lenders about a potential breach of its banking covenants. While retail ‘experts’ and observers have lined up to make doom and gloom predictions about what happens next, I’m going to take a contrary view of the situation; one of Mothercare’s main competitors is about to disappear, and £50m of nursery turnover is up for grabs. Surely – surely – Mothercare has a plan to secure a chunk of this figure? Given its precarious position, the potential extra turnover would offer it an invaluable lifeline, so I can’t believe that it doesn’t have a strategy in place. If it fails to increase its sales with one of its largest rivals out of the picture, you really would have to wonder what the future holds… And lest you should think that the UK retail sector is the only one being buffeted by economic headwinds, the French market has been hit by the news that La Grande Recre, the country’s second biggest toy account with 250 stores, is in major trouble. The only reports I’ve found so far are in French – testing my recollection of A-Level French to its very limits – but it seems that a 75m Euro credit application has been refused by banks, and with suppliers not yet paid for Christmas deliveries, the prognosis doesn’t sound good. Its troubles have been blamed in part on aggressive trading policies of Toys R Us, which is perhaps mildly ironic – while it also illustrates the damage that a struggling business can cause for its competitors… The current sense of foreboding in the US market can only have been exacerbated by President Trump suggesting the introduction of sizeable tariffs for Chinese imports, with toys specifically mentioned as a category being targeted. In the past, this might have been dismissed as political rhetoric, a knee-jerk threat unlikely to come to fruition in the real world. But this is President Trump we’re talking about, so clearly anything is possible… Amidst all the doom and gloom, I searched for something to bring a little levity to the close of this month’s column, and I found it in the most unlikely place – Bloomberg. Forget headline of the month, this is surely the headline of the year. I am sure the immortal phrase ‘CEO Bake-Off’ represents the very latest, cutting-edge corporate jargon, but what if it doesn’t – what if Disney really is making its two top executives go head-to-head in a baking challenge to determine who gets the top job? Wouldn’t that just be the best thing Disney has ever done (and I say that as someone who thinks ‘Up’ is one of the best movies ever made). If only Bob and Kevin were actually being asked to make a croquembouche model of themselves, to be judged by a smirking Paul Hollywood I’ll leave you with that tantalising thought.

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A stunning new range of Minnie & Mickey Mouse plush, available for AW18 in time to celebrate the iconic character’s 90th anniversary!

This innovative Play-Doh On The Go! Activity book with five fun vehicles to create and four Play-Doh cans included, makes a fantastic travel companion providing hours of fun on the move!

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