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July 2018 Volume 7 Issue 10


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Contact the sales team from more information

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The Team...

CONTENTS July 2018 Volume 7 Issue 10

John Baulch

Publisher and Managing Editor john@toyworldmag.co.uk 01442 502 408 07932 651 207

32 Feature: Construction Toys

50 Feature: Educational Toys

Mark Austin

Sales Director mark@toyworldmag.co.uk 01442 502 405

Anita Baulch

Circulation and Financial Director anita@toyworldmag.co.uk 01923 711 439




07 From the Publisher 08 News 16 Industry Moves 18 Marketing World 24 Licensing World 72 Fresh 100 Allegedly

26 NPD column 29 Talking Shop 46 Viewpoint 74 NPD Special - The demise of Toys R Us

32 Feature: Construction Toys 50 Feature: Educational Toys 60 Feature: Tech Toys & Gadgets 76 Feature: Dress Up & Role Play 86 Feature: Farm Toys & Construction Vehicles 95 Feature: Stationery

Contributors David Ripley | The NPD Group | Mark Buschhaus | Stephen Barnes | Jonathan Chambers | Nat Southworth | Vance Withers | Matthew Thorpe

Rachael Simpson

Editor rachael@toyworldmag.co.uk 01442 502 406

86 Feature: Farm Toys & Construction Vehicles

60 Feature: Tech Toys & Gadgets

Casey Goodman

Editorial Assistant casey@toyworldmag.co.uk 01442 502 406

toyworld The business magazine with a passion for toys

Mark Crowford

Design and Production Manager markc@toyworldmag.co.uk 01442 502 405

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Toy World 5

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

W from the publisher

John Baulch - @Baulchtweet

e have entered the second half of the year, and the countdown to the festive season is well and truly underway. Indeed, I recently spent a morning talking to a succession of radio presenters about Christmas, as the ‘voice’ of Argos’ campaign to launch its top toys list for Christmas. Looking at the volume of coverage the list received in the national press and the level of interest from radio stations, it was very much job done – the Christmas starting gun has been fired. One interesting subtext was the appearance of just a single licensed product on the Argos top toys list – the Paw Patrol Fire Truck. All twelve other items were focused on innovations and trends. Next year’s list may well be very different, but for now, it’s very much a reflection of how buyers perceive the market. It has to be said, the first half of the year has been something of a mixed bag: retail turbulence and uncertainty has been the order of the day, with the latest developments including House of Fraser’s painful decision to close 31 stores and Poundworld being on the verge of collapse, not to mention Mothercare’s ongoing tribulations. Despite excellent sales from LOL Surprise!, Squishies and Panini World Cup stickers, I gather that the April NPD numbers showed a marked decline over last year (20% down, although that was always likely to be the case with Easter falling partly in March), with the year to date currently standing at 8% down. I was at a licensing event recently, talking with a couple of toy trade friends. One asked the other: “How is business, is everything good?” The second person replied with a smile: “Not really, but thanks for asking.” I think that exchange nicely sums up the state of play at the moment. Toy World has always held true to the principles of honesty and journalistic integrity and we’re not going to stop now - one of the main reasons why our magazine resonates with people is because it doesn’t insult their intelligence. I like to believe that our readership is a pretty clued-up bunch who know exactly what’s going on. So, while we can’t pretend that everything is rosy when it’s clearly not, I also think it’s good to accept that there will be ups and downs for the foreseeable future, and not to over-react to either.

Because, despite what you may hear in the media on a daily basis, it certainly isn’t all doom and gloom in the toy retail arena; speaking to Toymaster’s Paul Reader recently, he told me that 60% of the group’s members were trading up by the end of April. B&M’s latest set of results were mightily impressive, with turnover soaring to just under £3bn and profits increasing by 23.6% to £226m. Chief executive Simon Arora has boldly claimed that the group is aiming to open a store a week over the next few years, admitting that he has his eyes on sites being vacated by Mothercare, Homebase, M&S and potentially Asda and Sainsbury’s, assuming the merger goes ahead. Buyer Hayley White also told me recently: “We really want to go for it on toys and snap up that big piece of market share that’s now up for grabs.” Notable new in-store introductions include Lego (a broad range, focusing on sub £30 price-points), LOL Surprise! and Fingerlings, so B&M is clearly delivering on its promise of having the latest hot lines as a key part of its toy offering and is very much ‘going for it’. Speaking of ‘market share up for grabs’, this month’s issue includes an exclusive article from NPD looking at the post-TRU landscape. NPD has conducted extensive consumer research to assess the impact TRU’s liquidation had on consumers’ immediate purchasing patterns, as well as their intentions for the rest of 2018. It makes interesting reading, and the conclusion about the potential impact of the TRU Closing Down sale on Q4 sales is reassuring. As for where the business goes now, you’ll have to speak directly to NPD to get their take on the potential winners. I’ve seen the survey results and let’s just say that while I agree with some of the feedback, I feel that certain accounts may do better than the results suggest (and others perhaps less well than is being predicted…). I really do feel that it is all to play for in the second half of the year, and I also believe that - to a great extent - fortune will favour the brave. It will be fascinating to see which toy retailers and suppliers will grasp the proverbial nettle over the coming months.

HARDWORKING PR FOR TOYS & GAMES B2B & consumer-facing PR Hands-on, bespoke approach Award-winning team of senior PR professionals Specialist understanding of the toys, games & fun sector

CONTACT +44 (0)1908 299 088 www.playtimepr.com Playtime Strip Advert_v4.indd 1

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16/03/2018 10:13

News Argos reveals Top Toys for 2018 The list features 13 toys set to feature on Christmas wish lists, bringing fantasy, technology, construction and discovery to toyboxes. Argos research has revealed that 4.7m Brits have already started their Christmas shopping, while almost half a million 16 to 25-year olds have already finished their present buying for the festive season. Ranging from favourites such as Lego and Nerf, to the latest hi-tech toys including Boxer the friendly robot, 2018 has emerged as the Year of the Unicorn, with the mythical steeds set to dominate the toy scene. Four innovative unicorn toys are expected to fly off the shelves this year, from the My Lovely Unicorn Electric Ride-On to Poopsie – the unicorn who poos glitter. Last year’s bestsellers, L.O.L. Surprise! and Fingerlings make a return appearance for 2018, thanks to new innovations such as the Untamed range of dinosaur-themed Fingerlings, and the Tots Innovation Doll from L.O.L. Surprise! The Top Toys for 2018 are: • Fingerlings Untamed T-rex • Fingerlings Untamed Dino Cage • Nerf Laser Ops Two Pack • Lego City Arctic Mobile Exploration Base • Boxer • Treasure X 3-Pack Chest • My Lovely Unicorn Electric Ride On • Vtech Fantasy Unicorn • Paw Patrol Rescue Fire Truck Playset • Chad Valley Tiny Treasures Doll • Fingerlings Hugs • LOL Surprise Under Wraps • Poopsie Unicorn Surprise Juliet Ward, head of toy at Argos, commented: “This year’s list is arguably our most exciting and eclectic to date. The list shows how toys are continuing to progress, with interactive items amongst the most popular. We’re also seeing the modernisation of more classic and traditional toys resulting in a varied and extensive list. We’ve seen social media trends influence toys more than in previous years, and the collectibles craze also continues to evolve and succeed with L.O.L. Surprise!, Fingerlings and the Treasure X 3-Pack Chest all featuring on this year’s list.”

Mothercare creditors approve CVA plans including store closures Voting on a CVA proposal, creditors gave a green light to reduced rents equivalent to 35% of the original price on 49 stores. The reduced rent will be paid for 12 months while the company holds crunch talks on the sites. 64 will continue at the current rate. However, it emerged that rent reduction proposals for Children’s World, a subsidiary that houses 21 of the company’s stores, had been turned down by landlords. Plans for Children’s World had been rejected by 73.3% of creditors, including the landlords, rather than achieving the required 75% of the vote. The retailer’s executive chair, Clive Whiley, confirmed: “It is now clear that the CVA of Children’s World was not carried by creditors, by a narrow margin. This will neither unsettle the UK restructuring and refinancing nor jeopardise our future transformation plans, which are already under way. As a board, we are now considering our next steps with respect to Children’s World.” The retailer said it was now considering all options, including shutting the outlets, which employ 336 people. News of the setback came days after Mothercare received permission to close 50 underperforming stores, including Early Learning Centre outlets, putting 800 jobs at risk. Clive Whiley, interim executive chairman, commented: “We are very grateful for the support of our many stakeholders across our creditor base in supporting the CVA proposals. Their forbearance and support is a crucial step forward to achieve the renewed and stable financial structure for the business that will drive an acceleration of Mothercare’s transformation. These measures provide a solid platform from which to reposition the Group and begin to focus on growth, both in the UK and internationally.” The plans come just two weeks after former chief executive Mark Newton-Jones made a surprise return to the business, alongside the announcement of the turnaround plan.


11 Deer Park Road, Northampton, NN3 6QD, UK

tel. 01604 678780 email. dkl@dkl.co.uk

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News Mark Foster leaves Tomy after three years as EVP of European division Tomy has announced changes to its international management team following Mark's departure, with senior leadership from Tomy International, the subsidiary responsible for North America and Latin America, assuming responsibility for overseeing the European business. Tomy International president Pete Henseler and chief operating officer Greg Kilrea have taken on the new international assignment. Kazuhiro Kojima, president and chief operating officer, Tomy, commented: “With this change, we are well positioned to execute our ongoing strategy to align our Tomy International regions more closely in order to continue expanding our global footprint. We have been working closely with our management teams throughout Europe and the Americas in this effort. Integrating the management reporting under Pete and Greg will help to continue this global alignment.” Mark Foster, formerly executive vice president of Tomy Europe, left the organisation on 18th June. Kazuhiro added: “I would like to thank Mark for his many valuable contributions and service over the past three years. He has worked hard to lead our European team through challenging transitions in our industry, and we wish him all the best in the future.” Speaking of his move, Mark said: “I am leaving the company in a good place. We have achieved our targets and have some great plans in place for the next five years. Tomy will flourish and the strong team is well placed to continue the work that we have planned together.” Mary Wood, who joined Tomy UK last year from Vivid, remains at the helm of the UK business reporting in to the global team.

Toy Barnhaus opens new store Toy Barnhaus has opened its eighth store in Staines-Upon-Thames. Mark Buschaus spoke exclusively to Toy World about the opening of the new Toy Barnhaus branch. The new store will not only provide an extra boost to the local area but has also provided employment for six members of Toys R Us staff who lost their jobs when the toy giant entered administration. The new Toy Barnhaus is in the same mall as a Toys R Us pop-up shop which closed in April. Before the closure, Mark had been liaising with the area manager – an ex-Woolworths store manager – to see which staff members they could look at taking on. As a result, the Toys R Us staff members have now found employment with Toy Barnhaus. Mike O’Conner, who had been with Toys R Us since 2009, has been appointed manager, while Mia Glenn has been made assistant manager after working for Toys R Us for around two years. Four other staff members have also been taken on as customer assistants, and the store has been recruiting for weekend staff in a rather novel manner; Playmobil figures are stationed outside the shop with signs advertising the positions available. Commenting on why he and Stephen Barnes settled on Staines, Mark explained: “When we consider new locations we always look at malls and shopping centres. Staines-Upon-Thames is quite an affluent area and still growing. A new Primark opened recently which has increased the footfall substantially. The store is around 18 miles from our Epsom location and a manageable size; ideal for testing the water, and we would look to expand to a bigger location in the future if Staines proves viable for the business. Stephen and I are very hands on when it comes to running the business, and we felt confident that one more shop was realistic and do-able for us. We’ve always said, “no more stores!” – even when we had just one – but we do think that eight is the magic number for us. We’ll never stop keeping an eye on areas for expansion, but we have no desire to get so big that we cannot still be a local toy shop first and foremost.”

PlayMonster acquires Interplay PlayMonster has acquired privately held, UK-based toy company, Interplay UK. The companies have enjoyed a strong partnership since 2016, when PlayMonster acquired a North American licence for Interplay’s top-selling My Fairy Garden brand, which has enjoyed success in over 10 countries to date. Now PlayMonster, based in Wisconsin, has acquired Interplay’s operations and full brand portfolio. This opportunity builds on the natural fit between the two companies and creates real synergy through complementary brands and scale of resources. Both have been among the fastest growing companies in their respective territories over recent years and this new relationship will mean increased growth potential for both PlayMonster and Interplay in existing markets through new and incremental product categories. With the combined depth and breadth of resources from the two companies, the new business is expected to become a stronger performer in the worldwide marketplace. Bob Wann, ‘Chief PlayMonster’ of PlayMonster and Chairman of the US Toy Association, commented, “This is PlayMonster’s first international acquisition and its largest acquisition to-date. This important step will strengthen the excellent team we have, as well as expedite the growth of PlayMonster and Interplay brands around the world. With Interplay becoming the first subsidiary, with an office and employees who will continue the business as usual from their headquarters in Marlow, it gives both companies an outstanding opportunity to grow their business globally.” Ross Ainsworth, founder at Interplay commented, “Our team at Interplay shares with PlayMonster a common philosophy of the importance of play, as well as a passion for creating high-quality, enduring products at affordable prices. We have incredible respect for what the PlayMonster team has been building, and we are looking forward to expanding our brands into North America and beyond.” Bob Wann attributes the success of Interplay to its founder, Ross Ainsworth, who has nurtured the company since its conception. He commented: “Ross’s passion, creative excellence and team of employees are what got Interplay to where it is today, and it will be an honour to take his vision the next level.”

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News Character Options issues response to Soft’n Slo Squishies safety concerns Character Options, the distributor of the popular toy Soft’n Slo Squishies, has issued a response to a recent article (29th May 2018) in the Trinity Mirror and Mirror.co.uk “At Character Options Ltd, the safety of consumers is always the top priority and we have therefore looked into this matter without delay. Steve Tull, quality assurance director for Character Options, commented: “We believe that this Soft’n Slo Squishies toy has been heated in some way causing the inner foam to melt and the toy to burst. Soft’n Slo Squishies absolutely cannot burst in this way whilst simply playing with them; it is physically impossible in the way they are manufactured unless the foam is heated. “Unfortunately, there has been an uplift online and on social media of toys being abused and often irresponsibly heated and microwaved to see what the outcome is.” “We reiterate that the brand of Soft’n Slo Squishies should be played with responsibly and away from any naked flames or heated elements.” “It would be our next step to be able to examine the product that has caused this injury so that we can verify that this is the case.” In the meantime, any concerns can be addressed to the Character Options Customer Services team on 0161 633 9800.

B&M reports profit rise Bargain retailer B&M has defied retail gloom with plans to add another 45 stores, as it unveiled a rise in profit and revenue. For the 53 weeks to 31st March, B&M reported revenues of £2.98bn, up 22.4% on the comparable 52-week period in the previous year. This came on the back of 4.7% like-forlike sales growth in stores. Pre-tax profits jumped 25.4% to £229.3m. The retailer opened 47 new UK stores in the period, although closed eight, and is planning at least 45 more in the current financial year. The strong results came despite what B&M described as a “disappointing” fourth quarter. Like other retailers with offerings in DIY and gardening, the company was affected by the poor weather conditions. Chief executive Simon Arora commented: “The B&M model is highly relevant for the current difficult economic environment, with its strong position in the value and convenience areas of retailing where physical stores are winning. The business is well placed for continued profitable, long-term growth. In a retail sector beset by structural challenges, B&M’s unique, disruptive model stands out as a success story.”

Tesco Direct will cease trading on 9th July 2018 As part of the closures, the intention is to close the fulfilment centre at Fenny Lock, Milton Keynes, which handles the Tesco Direct orders. The closures will affect around 500 jobs. Tesco has conducted a detailed review of its nonfood website, and has concluded that, despite its best efforts, there is no route to profitability for this small, loss-making part of the business. Tesco Direct has faced a number of significant challenges, including high costs for fulfilment and online marketing, which have prevented it from delivering a sustainable offer as a standalone nonfood business. Charles Wilson, CEO of Tesco UK & ROI, commented: “We want to offer our customers the ability to buy groceries and non-food products in one place and that’s why we are focusing our investment into one online platform. This decision has been a very difficult one to make, but it is an essential step towards establishing a more sustainable non-food offer and growing our business for the future.” Staff were briefed about the decision to close the website, which many saw as an attempt to take on Argos and Amazon by selling a wide-ranging variety of non-food goods, including toys. Tesco has been running two separate internet businesses in tandem: Tesco.com for grocery home deliveries and the Direct catalogue-style website for non-food items, including its own F&F clothing brand. The company admitted it couldn’t see a way to make the website, which launched in 2006, profitable, revealing that it is not just bricks and mortar stores fighting online competition.

Obituary – Mike Frost It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Mike Frost, who passed away on the morning of 12th June, after a serious illness. Mike enjoyed a long and successful career in the media industry, specialising in the toy market for many years, first through his own business and latterly through his association with Generation Media. His clients and colleagues all knew him as a true gentleman, always honest with his opinion and never afraid to tell the truth, even if it wasn’t what people wanted to hear. Mike was awarded a Golden Teddy in January 2015 in recognition of his service to the toy industry. Geemac’s Gerald Mckay commented: “I shall miss him, not only for his advice but also his never ending enthusiasm.” Toy World’s John Baulch commented: “Mike was one of the most knowledgeable, perceptive people in the toy market – and one of the nicest. The long line of heartfelt tributes we received after we announced his passing shows the high regard Mike was held in by his peers, friends and colleagues. Always refreshingly honest and frank, Mike was a beacon of integrity with a genuine love of toys. Like everyone who knew him, I will miss him terribly.”

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Stock up now for fun for all the family! New for 2018

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News The Entertainer expands into Egypt

Asian Toys & Games Show expects to welcome around 400 exhibitors Presented and managed by Comasia Limited, the sourcing event - four concurrent shows running between 20th-23rd October at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre - is one of most important marketplaces in Asia for toys, gifts and premiums. The annual show date has now become a regular fixture of the autumn Southern China sourcing period for global buyers. The Asian Toys & Games Show is a major showcase and sourcing hub for Asian-made toys and games. The 2018 edition is expected to gather a strong line-up of some 400 exhibitors presenting their best offerings in over 500 booths. The show will again feature a wide array of innovative and creative playthings presented by leading manufacturers and suppliers, mostly from Asia, including STEAM toys, action figures and collectibles, smart toys with app-connected features and VR (virtual reality)/AR (augmented reality) technologies, electronic toys, soft toys & dolls, baby and nursery items, outdoor and sporting items and more. Online pre-registration for free admission badges is now open at www.asiantng.com. Pre-registered buyers can also apply for the Special Buyer Sponsorship Programme to benefit from up to HKD2,800 towards expenses during their visit to the show.

The Entertainer has announced a partnership with Egypt’s leading toy retailer, Arabic Triangle. The partnership will see seven Toy World Egypt stores converted to The Entertainer brand, and a new store due to open in November in the Mall of Egypt. The partnership provides a strong opportunity for two leading toy retailers to bring a new toy retailing concept to Egypt, while responding to the increasing consumer demands for more globally-recognised toys. Customers can expect to see over 500 exclusive products plus a greater selection of the newest brands, in a world class shopping experience that includes events, demonstrations and knowledgeable staff. The Entertainer’s founder and chairman, Gary Grant, commented: “Egypt has a growing population and we’re excited to introduce The Entertainer as a destination for play to new consumers. When it comes to international growth, we’re very ambitious and are already looking at further launches across central Europe and South East Asia throughout the rest of the year. In addition, we’re also expecting to expand with our existing partners across the world.”

Magic Box Toys launches SuperZings: Rivals of Kaboom Series 2 SuperZings Series 2 from Magic Box Toys is due to hit shelves 29th August and brings new additions, changes and range expansions in the popular ‘hero vs villain’ format. Characters created from everyday objects are clad in iconic superhero capes and eye masks. There are 80 new multi-coloured characters to collect, each with a matching rival, including an ultra-rare character, two gold, six silver and 24 ‘SuperCrystal’ characters – a brand new finish which kids will love to collect. The Hideouts for Series 2 has a new cylindrical shape, divided into two chambers and comes with colourful decals to heighten to the collectability factor. In Series 2, the SuperZings travel around in SuperJets: a motorbike, boat, helicopter or quad, with eight to collect in a variety of different colours. Also in the range are a £7 Blister Pack containing a crystal SuperBlaster, a £10 Blister pack of ten characters including an ultra-rare gold SuperZing and a Cyber Tin; a special range of SuperZings all with a cyber theme. SuperZings Series 2 will also include a range of premium playsets offering children added play value and a chance to create their very own SuperZings world, as well as giving family and gift-givers added choice. The Secret Lab Playset features a secret compartment, lift to the roof and includes two exclusive characters plus a vehicle with blaster. The Kaboom Race set comes complete with two premium vehicles, launch pad, barrels and a finish line. The hero toy of the range is the Police Station Playset, a great value set which includes a police car, jail, cannon and lots of interactive elements. SuperZings are available to pre-order now from Asmodee, Magic Box’s toy trade partner on 01420 593593.

Toy Trust Big Challenge hailed a success Saturday 9th June’s Big Challenge event saw 200 industry professionals walk, run, swim and cycle for the Toy Trust in a bid to raise £200,000 towards this year’s theme, Giving the Gift of Play. As a result, the Toy Trust will be able to provide a week-long activity camp for 65 profoundly disabled and poorly children and their siblings in partnership with the charity Over The Wall. Over The Wall camps allow children to play and have fun in a range of recreational and educational activities, completely free of charge. Campers are encouraged to reach beyond the perceived limitations of their illness or disability and rediscover a whole world of possibilities, helping to build their confidence, self-esteem, coping strategies and peer relationships. The event also saw the grand draw for the Toy Trust Big Raffle, which offered a number of ‘money can’t buy’ prizes donated from the industry. The Raffle is hoped to have raised nearly £20,000 for the Toy Trust through ticket sales. Thanks are given to the following companies for their generous prize donations; Hasbro UK, Disney UK & Ireland, Lego, Spin Master, Nickelodeon UK, Evolution PR, Character Options, Flair Leisure Products, MGA Entertainment, MV Sports and Golden Bear Products. Toy Trust chair Foye Pascoe commented: “The Toy Trust Big Challenge continues to be a fantastic annual event that unites people from all corners of the toy industry to generate amazing amounts of money for the children’s charities that we support across the year. Thank you to everyone who supported the event; either participating, stewarding or donating to the overall result – your contribution highlights what a big-hearted, philanthropic industry we are.”

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Industry Moves Anthony Grimaud joins Canal Toys UK as CEO

Toy World recognises Rachael Simpson as editor

Canal Toys has expanded its senior team with the appointment of Anthony Grimaud as UK CEO. Working with Paul Clark, head of Canal Toys UK, the senior team will use their combined passion for toys and unrivalled experience to build their key brands in the UK market. Bringing with him over twenty years’ experience in the toy industry, Anthony has an impressive background having worked at Tiger Electronics, Hasbro, Spinmaster and most recently as Global VP at HTI. Anthony, a French national, has lived in the UK for twenty-four years immersing himself in the European toy industry. Patrick Krief, group CEO of Canal Toys, commented: “We are thrilled to have Anthony on board at Canal. He has a proven track record, extensive knowledge of the global retail environment and will undoubtedly accelerate our ambitious development plans for the UK market working with Paul Clark, who launched the UK business earlier this year. Anthony’s acumen and passion for the toy industry will be a great asset in delivering results and support to our retail partners.” Anthony Grimaud commented: “I’m totally thrilled to be joining Canal Group at such an important time in the company’s development. Canal Toys has an impressive range of cool, innovative and unique product and brands which will bring some real excitement to the arts and craft category. I’m looking forward to working with our talented team and forging strong relationships with our UK retailers.” Over the next few months Canal Toys will be launching a series of innovative new arts & crafts brands including Power Dough, So Glow DIY and Style 4 Ever.

Just over a year after joining Toy World, Rachael Simpson has been promoted to the role of editor. Building on her background in trade journalism, Rachael has quickly assimilated into the Toy World team and has already hugely developed her contact base and knowledge of the toy and licensing industries. Publisher John Baulch commented “We are delighted to confirm Rachael’s appointment as editor and have no doubt she is perfectly suited to the role. In a relatively short time, Rachael has become a strong asset to Alakat Publishing and has been instrumental in improving and developing the already popular Toy World magazine and website. She has a tendency to over-dwell on writing about anything animal or Harry Potter related, but we have overlooked that in favour of the many attributes she brings to the company. We are a strong team, and I am sure her colleagues all join me in congratulating her on this promotion.”

GP Flair’s Verity Groom promoted GP Flair has announced the promotion of senior brand manager Verity Groom to the position of marketing manager, effective immediately. The move will see her manage Flair’s extensive portfolio of Girls and Creative brands. Emmanuelle Cadet, head of marketing, GP Flair, commented: “Verity has been a strong asset to the Flair team since joining the company in January 2013. The past five years has seen her play an instrumental role in the successful launch of multiple brands, being integral to the success story of Shopkins. I am therefore very pleased to offer her this next step in her career and have absolutely no doubt she will rise to the challenge.”

Dominic Geddes appointed nonexecutive director of HTI The former Mattel country manager joins HTI as the company prepares for further expansion and growth. John Hutt, HTI principal, commented: “Dominic has a wealth of experience in the toy category with over 30 years of industry experience. His most recent role as the Mattel UK, Nordic and NL country manager makes him a well-rounded professional and one we’re excited to have on board. He will be working with a team of directors to sculpt a clear strategy and support sales and marketing on a range projects. I am delighted to welcome Dominic to HTI and look forward to seeing where his involvement leads us.” HTI’s brands include Evo and Teamsterz as well as an extensive licensing portfolio of some of the biggest children’s brands, including Peppa Pig, Paw Patrol, PJ Masks and My Little Pony.

David Carscadden becomes Jakks Pacific CEO Jakks Pacific has announced the promotion of David Carscadden to managing director, EMEA. David will be responsible for the European P&L including the management of all Jakks personnel in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa and will oversee all territorial growth and sales. Ken Goodison from Jakks commented: “David began his career with Jakks in 2009. He has provided fantastic leadership, growth and stability to our UK office and we look forward to his continued success as he expands his leadership into these new territories.”

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Lisa Weger joins Mattel Lisa has been appointed as regional head of consumer products for Europe based in the UK. Lisa joins Mattel with a wealth of leadership experience in the consumer products business. In the past 14 years Lisa worked at Turner Broadcasting in New York where she led franchise management, visual branding and licensing for Turner Kids. Before joining Turner, Lisa led the licensing business of Mattel for the markets of Canada and Latin America. Sanjay Luthra, managing director Europe, commented: “Lisa will infuse tremendous energy, strategic expertise and a challenger mindset into our consumer products business. We are delighted to be welcoming her to the team.”

Pamela Kaufman named president of Viacom/Nickelodeon Global Consumer Products Viacom has appointed Pamela Kaufman to the new role of president, Viacom/Nickelodeon Global Consumer Products, with global oversight of the consumer products business across Viacom Media Networks including Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central, BET and Paramount Pictures. Pamela previously served as president of Consumer Products and chief marketing officer for Nickelodeon, overseeing both business and franchise strategy for Nick’s multi-billion-dollar global consumer products business. The force behind some of Nickelodeon’s most iconic and franchises including SpongeBob SquarePants, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Paw Patrol, her vision and commitment to brand-building has led to ground-breaking partnerships and a winning consumer products portfolio across all retail aisles and classes of trade. Bob Bakish, president and chief executive officer of Viacom, commented: “Expanding and diversifying our consumer products businesses around the world is a key strategic initiative that will help drive Viacom’s future growth. The exceptional leadership and vision Pam has demonstrated at Nickelodeon make her a natural fit for this exciting new position."

Natasha Crookes to take the reins at the Toy Retailers Association The TRA has announced the retirement of Derek Markie from running the association’s secretariat. Derek signalled his desire to retire at the 2017 annual general meeting and has assisted in the smooth handover of the reins of the organisation to his replacement, Natasha Crookes. Derek commented: “I am grateful to everyone involved in the association and its key public event, DreamToys. As they pass into Natasha’s highly experienced and energetic hands, I wish you all every success in the future.” Alan Simpson, chairman of the TRA, added: “Derek has worked tirelessly on behalf of the Association for many years. He has shown passion and commitment to our industry and our retail community. He will be missed in his capacity at the Association, but we all hope he enjoys a happy retirement.” Derek handed the reins over to Natasha Crookes from 1st June. Natasha has worked for the BTHA for 16 years, most recently as the director of public affairs and communications. She moved parttime in 2017 in order to move life to Cornwall but has found that she has time on her hands to be able to take on the TRA position. As well as continuing to work in her part-time capacity for the BTHA, Natasha will take over the administration of the TRA and will organise Dream Toys and the toy retail judging of the industry awards. Commenting on her appointment, Natasha said: “I am delighted to be able to take over the work of the TRA from the excellent job Derek Markie has done over the years. I look forward to speaking to retail members and working with the excellent team of TRA members, toy suppliers, Bastion and Blackberry Productions that run Dream Toys so well each year, as well as my BTHA colleague, Matt Jones, on the Toy of the Year Awards”

Thomas Randrup joins Schleich as team expands

Thomas Randrup

Paul Joyner

Schleich has announced that is has appointed Thomas Randrup as the new country manager for its UK & Ireland operations. Thomas brings with him a wealth of experience including 16 years as country manager of Revell and more recently as commercial director of The Hobby Company. His appointment will see him replace outgoing country manager Jeremy Robinson. Barbara Kreibich, senior director sales Europe at Schleich, commented: “We are delighted to welcome Thomas to the Schleich Family. His depth of knowledge of the toy industry will add to our enthusiastic team in the Stansted office. We would also like to take this opportunity to thank Jeremy Robinson for his four years as country manager and we wish him well in his future career.” Thomas commented: “I am very much looking forward to this new role and taking Schleich UK to a new level, both in sales and service to our valued customers.” Meanwhile, Paul Joyner has been appointed as national account manager, as part of the company’s commitment to the re-structure and strengthening of the UK team. Paul joins Schleich UK after six years at KD UK where he was responsible for a wide range of accounts and was instrumental in the launch of the Kurio brand.

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Marketing World Canal Toys reveals summer TV campaign Planned by Generation Media, the TV campaign forms part of an integrated PR & communication plan managed by Adrenalin PR & Marketing. This next stage of investment for Canal Toys will support its retail partners by raising awareness and increasing demand for the fun, fully certified and innovative range of slime products. Saturday 26th May marked the first TV airdate for Canal Toys who, throughout the year, will be investing in TV, digital and cinema campaigns to promote the popular So Slime DIY range. The initial campaign will run across an array of kids’ commercial channels including Nick, Disney Channel & ITVB. A further campaign in the Republic of Ireland will appear across popular channels including Nick, NJR and RTE2. Paul Clark, head of Canal Toys UK commented, “We are delighted with the TV campaign designed by Generation Media and are excited to see So Slime DIY on television for the first time in the UK. We’ve seen some fantastic reviews recently from our PR campaign, and feedback from bloggers at the recent Blog On conference confirmed that parents are desperate for slime kits that are safe, simple and fully certified. Our range of products offers that solution, takes away all the hassle with slime making and provides parents with peace of mind.” So Slime DIY Neon lines are available now and the So Slime Creepies range are also available in store.

Hot Wheels projects race across London amidst 50th anniversary celebrations Celebrating 50 years of high-octane thrills and daring challenges, Hot Wheels projected a spectacular race across iconic London buildings. Onlookers in locations including Covent Garden and Marble Arch saw F1 champion and official Hot Wheels partner Nico Rosberg appear thanks to projection mapping technologies, as he challenged two Hot Wheels cars to race across London in a journey that was beamed across the city. In the race, the two diecast cars speed across an orange track, famous architecture and the city skyline, going head to head to perform stunts and overcome obstacles, showing kids how they can ignite their challenger spirit through daring, experimentation, imagination and by having fun. Hot Wheels recruited YouTube star It’s Romello for the activation, as Nico challenges him to ignite his own challenger spirit. For the creation of content, specialised projection mapping and motion artists textured two 3D models to replicate actual Hot Wheels cars and the track. The speed of the cars travelling through the city was also mirrored by the team’s rapid onsite mapping of 3D projection effects across Covent Garden, Marble Arch, Tate Modern, St Paul’s, Tower Bridge and the Shard. Nico Rosberg commented: “Hot Wheels was my first introduction into racing when I was a little boy, and it’s where my love for cars and racing began. In my new role as a member of the Hot Wheels team, I hope to inspire kids to take on all challenges, and to compete, create and experiment with their favourite Hot Wheels cars.”

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L.O.L. Surprise! heads to Camp Bestival This summer, MGA Entertainment’s L.O.L. Surprise! is heading to the UK’s favourite children’s festival. MGA has secured a sponsorship deal with Camp Bestival, in a partnership which will see the brand appearing within a dedicated area throughout four days, 26th-29th July. Family festival-goers can expect exciting influencer meet and greets, character dress-up, talks, tutorials and exclusive product reveals. The L.O.L. Surprise! activation will occupy a 10x10m area, situated within the festival’s Kids Arena. As part of the sponsorship L.O.L. Surprise! will be given multiple opportunities to connect with the festival’s audience, whilst bringing an exclusive range of entertainment to Camp Bestival. Emma Walker, senior brand manager at MGA Entertainment, commented: “We knew we needed something big this year for L.O.L. Surprise!, following such a successful launch last February. We wanted to be able to reach our fans on a mass scale and show the popularity of the hit collectible. Teaming up with Camp Bestival is extremely exciting for the brand, we’re going to combine all the reasons L.O.L. Surprise! is so popular and place it within a huge children’s festival, giving us a great opportunity to engage with our audience like never before. We’ll be kicking off our Summer of L.O.L campaign at Camp Bestival with tons of exciting activity to follow.” Sharkey Campbell, head of brand partnerships at Camp Bestival, added: “We’re always searching for a glittering attraction that will beguile kids of all ages at Camp Bestival, and L.O.L. Surprise! fits the bill perfectly. We’re delighted to have it on board.” The sponsorship will be supported with top tier influencer partnerships, full digital support and retailer activity.



Innovation begets innovation This month, Jonathan Chambers looks at how innovation in the advertising market echoes that of product innovation in toys and games.


undamental to a healthy toys and games market is innovation. Introducing new ideas into a traditional industry can of course have its pitfalls, but the market is driven by success stories. L.O.L Surprise! and Fingerlings, two prominent recent examples, have proven that the market is very receptive to products that effectively fuse new concepts into an established package. In this respect, the advertising industry is no different. The media habits of children and parents continue to evolve rapidly, and advertising solutions have to adapt to respond to this phenomenal rate of change. Toy marketing has some recent experience of this, with a plethora of brands integrating influencers into the marketing mix, with varying degrees of success. This is, however, only the tip of the iceberg.

inspired by creative approaches and innovation. As advertisers continue to assess alternatives to TV, with commercial UK channels continuing to demonstrate year-on-year-on-year decline, what were some of the key themes that will inevitably filter through to the toys and games market? Augmented Reality continues to feature prominently, after numerous attempts in the past to integrate it into both products and advertising. Despite successes such as Pokémon Go, success has been limited by the need for opening an app on handheld devices, an action that can be disruptive for users. Imagine how seamless the experience could be if AR was assimilated effectively and seamlessly into wearable tech. The only limitation would then be penetration of such devices -remember 3D TVs and 3D TVCs anyone?

In the digital online space, there is of course no equivalent of BARB; an independent source allowing us to monitor digital online advertising, particularly in the children’s space. However, we estimate that of all “above the line” budgets spent in the toys and games sector in the UK, between 15-20% is invested in digital online. This is not inconsiderable, considering the inherent advantages TV still holds within the UK market (outlined in last month’s article). So why then do we describe this level of investment as “the tip of the iceberg”?

Penetration is another problem facing Virtual Reality. The technology is improving apace, able to provide immersive viewing and gaming experiences. Jaguar has even managed to build it into an advertising platform, allowing consumers to learn more about the I-PACE without ever coming into contact with the physical car itself, via a free download. For an example closer to home, Lego has introduced the VR Coaster. For the time being though, this is limited to the few with access to VR headsets, although it is predicted to become a mass market opportunity. In fact, PWC predicts that by 2021, there will be 16m VR headsets in the UK market.

The IAB (Internet Advertising Bureau) reports that digital online spend now accounts for over half of the total 2017 UK ad spend (in all markets). Not only that, but there is appetite for more, with 54% of marketers questioned reporting that they planned to increase spends in the digital/online video sectors in the next 12 months. Children’s advertising continues to be protected from this rate of change however, whilst TV advertising still delivers mass reach at low cost. In terms of the wider ad market, the great and the good of the global ad industry recently convened at Createch 2018. This event is designed to encourage debate on the future of advertising,

When it comes to availability of technology however, Voice Recognition has stolen a march on the rival innovations. Not only are Alexa/ Google Home/equivalent devices now prominent features of many households in the UK (especially households with children), but the technology is prevalent in mobile devices, and increasingly in TV sets. Brand and content opportunities are becoming increasingly popular, with Pac-Man Stories paving the way for other licences to harness the tech. Advertising solutions have been more limited so far, but it is surely only a matter of time before this becomes prevalent. How long will it be before Amazon offer an opportunity

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Jonathan Chambers

Director of AV Investment, Generation Media. Tel: 0207 307 7906 Jonathan.Chambers@generationmedia.co.uk

where, upon hearing your TV ad on screen, you can pay for Alexa to offer the ability to purchase the product? Or perhaps the reverse could be true, with TV ads being designed to take advantage of Voice Recognition devices. See Burger King’s 2017 campaign – “Google Home for the Whopper” – for an innovative adaptation to their TVC, although Google managed to disable the feature from working on their devices. But to finish, let’s return to the IAB report, because the more things change, the more they stay the same. Digital online ad spend is growing, driven by devices; smartphones now account for 45% of all digital online ad spend. But the largest format is online video, accounting for 39% of the total. In reality, how much different is this to a TV advert? Particularly in the minds of children, growing up in a device agnostic environment, where content above all else is king.

Marketing World Zuru unveils Bunch O Balloons mascot Mr Summer The live manifestation of summer fun, and the mascot for the company’s innovative water balloon line, Mr. Summer represents the exuberant connection between summer and Bunch O Balloons, and will be the official messenger of Zuru’s Unleash Summer campaign, encouraging everyone to get outdoors and enjoy the sun. Mr. Summer kicked off the season on 1st June, the official start of summer, with the Bunch O Balloons Mr. Summer video which launched on YouTube and will headline a robust social and digital media campaign starring Mr. Summer himself. Select media and influencers will receive a box full of summer essentials personally curated by Mr. Summer, including Bunch O Balloons. Renee Lee, global marketing manager for Zuru, explains the concept of Mr. Summer as: “The icon of summer, a fun and fresh ideal for families who like to have fun outdoors. Mr. Summer is meant to appeal to millennial families in a way that is relevant to them. He is a throwback to the 80s and the nostalgic feeling that the best days of summer are spent outside, before the days of tablets and mobile devices.” The campaign hits as Zuru confirmed that the European patent for its highly successful Bunch O Balloons product will be effective in time for summer.

Little Tikes takes pole position at Silverstone Little Tikes teamed up with the home of British motor racing to showcase its Wheelz and Flyerz collection. An exclusive press and influencer event at the iconic Silverstone race track saw the brand take over parts of the new £27m paddock, kicking off a series of marketing campaigns for the year which aim to highlight Little Tikes’ remote control and heritage Coupe ranges. A selection of high-tier press and influencers were invited to spend the day with Little Tikes to experience an exclusive tour of the track including control room, podium and pits. To highlight its Flyerz range, guests were treated to a private helicopter ride over the track. Michelle Lilley, head of marketing for Little Tikes, said: “The Little Tikes Wheelz and Flyerz ranges are fantastic remote control products for that important pre-school age range. The My First Flyer and Tyre Twister Lights are key drivers for the brand this year and we wanted to support them with an exciting campaign which appeals to children and parents. The partnership with Silverstone highlights the fun that can be had when spending time with your children, and supports our continuous aim to inspire imaginative play.” The Wheelz and Flyers range includes the Tyre Twister Lights, RC Bumper Cars and My First Flyer. The ranges will also be supported with full press outreach and a digital and social media campaign.

PMS announces Christmas marketing campaign for new Elves Behavin’ Badly range PMS International has appointed PR agency Taylor Herring to create and lead a major national marketing campaign. PMS has put a six figure sum behind marketing the rapidly growing brand, tasking award-winning agency Taylor Herring with leading the Elves Behavin’ Badly campaign. PMS’ new range of Elf products will hit the shelves in October, and many of the UK’s biggest retailers have already confirmed listings, with orders in hand already substantially ahead of last year’s total sales of over 2m. Following a huge response to the Elves in national media last November, PMS is investing heavily in marketing its brand with a major PR campaign for the Elves that will include a viral video series, Facebook and Twitter promotions, and a national fan photography competition. A number of high profile publicity stunts will also be rolled out nationwide, with a focus on London. Paul Beverley, managing director of PMS International, commented: “We are thrilled that the renowned Taylor Herring will be running our Elves Behavin’ Badly Christmas 2018 campaign. We wanted to partner with an edgy agency who will deliver a hard hitting and memorable campaign which will engage consumers at every level, and build upon the sometimes controversial success which we have already had with the Elves. Type ‘Naughty Elves’ into Google and you’ll be confronted with tens of the thousands of very humorous Elf scenes created by consumers across the nation. This highly competitive challenge to the humorous, artistic and creative minds of the population is sure to reach frenzy proportions in the month leading up to Christmas 2018.” He continued: “We are confident the naughty Elves will rival Christmas campaigns from the likes of John Lewis and others. Elves Behavin’ Badly’s style of festive humour is very ‘now’ and is set to become a campaign to remember in 2018.”

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Email: sales@simbasmoby.com Tel: 01274 765 030

Licensing World Winners announced for annual Viacom Nickelodeon UK Achievement Awards Viacom Nickelodeon Consumer Products (VNCP) held its annual UK Achievement Awards on 17th June at London’s Millbank Media Centre. Recognising the accomplishments of retail and licensing partners across the year, a total of eight awards were presented by Nickelodeon’s Marianne James, VP commercial partnerships, consumer products and experiences, Nickelodeon UK & Ireland, alongside Mark Kingston, SVP consumer products, Nickelodeon Viacom International Media Networks. Primark was a double award winner, being recipient of the Retail Programme of the Year and Retail Partnership accolades, while George took the award for Softlines Partner of the Year for its extensive support of the Nickelodeon portfolio and product innovation. Centum won the Content Partner of the Year for its quick turnaround in bringing the JoJo Siwa range to market and its inventive launch of the Treasure Cove titles which feature a range of Nickelodeon properties including Paw Patrol, Blaze and the Monster Machines and Shimmer and Shine. Hardlines Partner of the Year went to Sambro for developing and launching a slime product offering which includes a hyper blaster and ‘make your own’ range, both proving popular at retail. Collaboration/Promotion of the Year went to intu for the slime-ulator activation and tour, which proved a hit with kids and families at 13 locations across the UK. Aykroyd TDP Licensing was honoured in the Licensee of the Year category for developing Viacom Nickelodeon Consumer Products business and delivering exceptional revenue for the softlines business. Outstanding Partner initiative went to The Entertainer/Addo Play, which were recognised for continuing to innovate with the Nick Jr. and Nickelodeon branded consumer product range as well as their work with licensees, direct to retail activity and support as a media partner.

Mattel greenlights Series 23 for Thomas & Friends Mattel has greenlit another series and a special for Thomas & Friends to premiere in 2019. The new series will consist of 20 11-minute episodes and three 22-minutes specials, and continue the themes of exploration and discovery while adding new locations and friends from around the world. This brings the Thomas & Friends library of content to more than 550 episodes. The recent series has undergone a major refresh that sees Thomas traveling farther than ever before to learn about new countries and cultures. The show has a more contemporary feel, a brand-new theme tune and a refreshed Steam Team to include three girls and three boy engines, and Thomas, ensuring gender equality across the show and increasing global appeal for pre-school viewers. This all-new format series will feature faster-paced action, increased humour, new music, new international friends, animals and exciting fantasy elements.

Alpha signed as master toy partner for Super Builders China-based producer Benlai Pictures Studios has inked a worldwide master toy agreement with leading Chinese toy manufacturer, Alpha, for the upcoming animated preschool series Super Builders. Alpha will also be co-investing and producing the show, aiming to build another strong IP after the success of its previous animated series Super Wings. The 52 x 11 minute CGI series will debut in autumn 2019, and the first toys will arrive at retail to coincide with the TV launch. Led by the intrepid Digga, the Super Builders are a ‘trucking tour de force’, each with their own skills and personalities. The Super Builders can change their tools as needed to perform different building tasks, creating new towns and friendships during their construction adventures while learning lessons about problem-solving and teamwork.

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Subway Surfers surpasses 2b downloads as new animated series debuts Brand surpasses multiple milestones, as SubSurf Consumer Products takes shape. Subway Surfers, the mobile game about a rebellious character that graffitis a metro railway while evading a grumpy inspector and his dog, has captured attention around the globe. In late May, six years after its debut, the game surpassed 2b downloads; this followed its No. 1 spot as the World’s Most Downloaded Game in 2017, and becoming the first game to exceed 1b downloads in Google Play. The premiere episode of the new Subway Surfers: The Animated Series, which debuted 1st June, racked up nearly 3m views in its first 10 days alone. These mounting achievements have now seen the SubSurf programme take the IP into merchandise. “Subway Surfers has maintained its popularity and success for years,” says Naz Amarchi-Cuevas, head of licensing, Sybo Games. “Whether in-game, in series or now in merchandise, the brand consistently stays true as the original street art brand reverberating the street-smart, edgy youth culture, skate music and dance attributes fans have come to love.” Subway Surfers: The Animated Series delves into the Subway Surfers universe and the characters fans have seen within the game. The story follows four best friends as they navigate the joys and dilemmas of life as tweens. Together, they explore their magical city on skateboards and discover an amazing mystery that will change their lives forever. The 10 x 4 minute episodic series is a collaborative effort from Sybo Games, scriptwriters Brent Friedman (Star Wars Rebels, Star Wars: The Clone Wars) and Francesca Marie Smith (Hey Arnold!), and Daytime Emmy award-winning producer Sander Schwartz (The Batman, What’s New Scooby Doo, Justice League Unlimited.) Available on Sybo’s YouTube channel, new episodes are expected to premiere regularly through early autumn. Subway Surfers first debuted as an animated short film eight years ago, the project of two animation students - Bodie JahnMulliner and Sylvester Rishøj. The short won a Danish Animation award and served as the launching pad for Sybo Games. The game itself was an immediate success, with over 3m downloads one week after its launch. In Subway Surfers, Sybo Games and publisher Kiloo introduced the World Tour concept, an approach embraced by fans and now mimicked by other game developers. Each month the game travels to a new city - as of July, more than 43 destinations across six continents, including repeat stops to many fan-favorites including Paris, Tokyo, Rio, Las Vegas, Sydney, Miami and Venice Beach, have been included. Players dash as fast as they can, dodge oncoming trains and look to escape the grumpy inspector and his dog, as they collect special tokens to unlock boosts and win weekly prizes. At the same time, Subway Surfers pays tribute to world cultures and diversity, as players explore famous cityscapes, sports parks and museums, as well as each locale’s distinct urban vibe. From a lifestyle perspective, street art has been celebrated. In early June, Sybo games held a party in Venice Beach, California, showcasing the art, music, fashion and skate-scene of Subway Surfers and the SubSurf brand. On the licensing side, the SubSurf programme seeks partners that are connected and dedicated to Gen Y and Gen Z fans. The SubSurf programme has over 10 style guides, each celebrating the authenticity of the original street art brand. Partners must bring funk and fashion to the brand. An example is the alliance with The Avenue Los Angeles, for custom Vans. The retro brand which appeals to the skate-scene and music – perfectly reflects the SubSurf look and feel. Furthermore, the line debuted at the Venice Beach party, where SubSurf went directly to the fans and consumers to showcase its high-tops and slip ons. Naz adds: “It’s a new era in running a licensing programme and it’s important to be close to the fans, to be on your feet, and to be ready to adapt to the new mould.”

For licensing, please contact Naz@sybogames.com

NPD Insight

Pockets of Growth in 2018 Looking behind the overall trends for 2018 so far, Rory uncovers some fascinating underlying data about the suppliers and categories showing encouraging growth. The toy market so far this year has certainly been interesting. Headlines have not always reflected the most positive of stories, but there are some very encouraging developments that are being masked by the overall negative trend. It’s interesting to note that if we look at the top 10 growing toy manufacturers of 2018, only one from the top 10 in total value is represented, which is MGA Entertainment. The rest of the spots are taken from manufacturers outside of the top 10, ranging from the number 11 ranking to number 68. It is interesting to take a closer look at what these manufacturers are doing to drive their success in a challenging year.

stickers, with nearly half a million packs sold in the latest week alone. Jazwares is the number 3 growing manufacturer and has added nearly £6m in value so far this year. Currently ranked at number 11, Jazwares was at number 42 at this stage last year and if trends continue it will not be long before the company is in the top 10 in 2018. Fingerlings has been a big driver of Jazwares growth, and the recent addition of Untamed, the dinosaur focused boys line, has created additional revenue this year. Other notable growing manufacturers include Funko, HTI and Ravensburger. These three are outside the top 10 in terms of total value but are included in the top 10 in terms of growth, with Funko being a notable riser, moving from number 36 at this stage last year to number 24 now.

The top 10 toy manufacturers account for just under half of all the value of the total toy market, so they are very important. However, this year that combined top 10 is worth around £45m less than at Another interesting area to examine is category the same stage in 2017. The next 10 manufacturers growth, which this year doesn’t appear to be coming are worth 10% of the market but have added nearly from the usual areas. Dolls and Youth Electronics £6m, quite a marked difference. Before we look more are showing growth for 2018 and it is no surprise closely at those manufacturers outside the top 10 that those categories are where L.O.L Surprise that are growing this year, it’s worth stopping for and Fingerlings respectively sit. But if we look at a moment to highlight the top growing toy manufacturer in the UK, MGA Entertainment. L.O.L Surprise! has been UK Toys YTD 2018 vs. 2017 the standout property in the UK market this year £0 £5 £10 £15 and has helped MGA add nearly £19m in 2018 MG A Entert ainment ( Corp) and move to the number Panini 3 manufacturer spot. Jaz war es L.O.L Surprise! is the Funko number 1 toy property Alpha Animation & Toys in the UK market and HTI has six items in the top Rainbow D esigns 10 so far this year; a very Basic Fun! impressive achievement. Ravensburger ( Corp) The number 2 growing Gr o-Gr oup manufacturer is actually Value £m Gain YTD 2018 vs. 2017 Panini, with growth driven by football T h e N P D G ro u p , In c. | Pro p rie tary an d co n fid e n tial

Top 10 Growth Manufacturers 2018

Rory Partis

Director UK Toys & EuroToys NPD the growth at a subclass level, some less heralded categories come to the fore. Miscellaneous Toys is the third top performing subclass in 2018 as it is the subclass where a lot of squishy items are classed. Soft N Slo Squishies from Character Options and Smooshy Mushy from Bandai are the top 2 properties in the subclass and have added over £4m this year already. Scientific Toys has added over £1m this year and, as a subclass, seems to be benefiting from the STEM trend. We’re seeing the influence of slime here, with the Cra-Z-Art Cra-Z-Slimy Creations from Character Options the number 1 item in the subclass. Other subclasses that are showing impressive growth this year are Bubble Toys, with Gazillion Bubbles from Funrise leading the way, and Adult Puzzles, with a number of manufacturers growing including Ravensburger, Jumbo and Gibson Games. Interestingly, one of the smallest subclasses in terms of value, Battling Toys, is one of the top, in terms of growth. The subclass is five times the value it was at this stage last year, driven predominantly by the performance of Power Rippers from Jakks £20 Pacific.

Source: The NPD Group | NPD EPOS Data | UK | Wk 23 2017

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With growth coming from some less known areas of the market in 2018, this trend may well continue, with these manufacturers and categories continuing to move up the rankings for the rest of the year. It would certainly help in Q4 if we saw money being distributed to all areas of the toy market.

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 www.npd.com. Follow NPD on Twitter @npdgroup.

Property Progression Top Growing Subclasses Total Property

Rank April 2018

Rank May 2018

Bunch 'O' Balloons



May saw two bank holidays in the UK and it made a nice change that we had fine weather for both. This meant a good month for outdoor items and we saw a rise of nearly 60 places in the rankings for Bunch ‘O’ Balloons from Zuru. If the good weather continues, we will certainly see the property maintain its place in the rankings over the summer months.

Playset Dolls is the top growing subclass by some margin in 2018, driven by the huge success of L.O.L Surprise! in 2018. Non-Strategic Trading Cards & Collectible Stickers is the 2nd top performing subclass and this has been helped by the World Cup in Russia. With the tournament now underway we should see some very strong sales for stickers in the next few weeks.

Top Growing Subclasses

YTD May 2018

Playset Dolls & Collectibles Non-Strat Trade Cards/Collectible Stickers Miscellaneous Toys Robotic/Interact Playmates Pools Special Ftr Nurturing Doll Scientific Toys Bubble Toys/Solution Adult Puzzles Reusable Compounds 0








Value (£MM) D o cu m e n t classificatio n : C lie n t/Th ird Party C o n fid e n tial T h e N P D G ro u p , In c. | Pro p rie tary an d co n fid e n tial

Source: NPD EPoS Retail Tracking




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Fun in the sun?

This month, Toy World talks to independent retailers about how they are finding trade as we enter the summer season, how they promote their business and what success stories they have found in stocking ranges from this month's featured categories.

Charlotte Croser - Jollys Toys, Thrapston

Business was very strong up until April, but since then I have found that it has been more of an uphill battle. We’ve not had sales to compare to last April and May, but it’s not something that I feel too concerned about. This time last year, spinners were pretty big and bringing a lot of cash through the till. The weather was also much better twelve months ago, and I’m seeing a different pattern because of that. I’ve learnt not to get too bogged down by the figures each month, I need to keep thinking what I can do to keep people coming in, how can we tweak the product ranges - and how to maintain margins. I try to keep on top of that at all times. One of the most successful ranges for us so far this year has been Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty, and I want to keep people interested in the Slime trend by extending it into other slime-related products. We stock a few collectibles like Squishees, and I have customers keen to collect Smencils from DKL Marketing. The other product which I have had huge success with is Play Foam Pals from Learning Resources. We don’t stock action figures or many licensed ranges, because it’s easier for customers to draw a

direct comparison with Tesco, Amazon or Argos and for me, running a toy shop is more about running a children’s gift shop. It’s about thinking outside the box, and I try to offer something a bit different, as there is no point going head to head with retailers which can beat me on price. I focus on things which hopefully people haven’t seen elsewhere, so my range includes products which are a bit more unusual. I carefully curate what I stock to make sure that there is something for everybody at every price point, so that I get customers coming in time and time again, because they know they will find products which they can’t find anywhere else. We organise activities at the local library over the summer holidays. These are free events for children to come along to, and often involve arts and crafts activities, with products such as Hama Beads from DKL. We also run board game events, where Mrs Jollys will go and play in the library with the kids for a couple of hours. There’s no obligation to buy, but I do find that such events drive sales. We don’t have the space in store for activities, so I find the library works well for us as it is only over the road and we are a very small community. It also helps to keep the library vibrant and relevant in the town, so is of mutual benefit. It’s as much about connecting with customers and creating a nice community event, which generates publicity through word of mouth. There is a regular town fair in the high street at the end of June, which attracts around a thousand people from ours and the surrounding villages, and this gives me a great opportunity to get out to the front of the shop and demonstrate products and sell pocket money items. I find this really increases footfall; it’s an opportunity to engage with people who don’t usually commute to our town, and some of them come back. We always have a good range of farm toys in stock, and toy tractors sell especially well for us, as do sets of animals. I maintain a range of baby books, toys and games for pre-schoolers which are farm-related; as we are in a rural farm-type area, we find these products to be extremely popular. In other locations, knights and dragons might sell well, but for us it’s the farm-themed products. It’s the equivalent of our best-selling licence. Although it has its place, rather than staring at a screen, I firmly believe that playing with physical toys

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is hugely important. Play helps children to engage with the world around them, and it is important to prepare them for imaginary play time as they move onto school. I’m not one of these retailers who insists everything is about traditional toys though, I think everything in small quantities is a good thing. We carry lots of educational games, such as Orchard Toys, and Usborne Books which perform very well for us. The book and jigsaw sets are strong sellers, as well as the activity sets. Our pre-school toys are educational, we have lots of stacking, counting and alphabet toys, as well as toys which help colour and shape recognition. Many of our craft sets are also related to children learning about the world around them. I believe that any toy which encourages some sort of interaction, whether it be engaging with an adult or an older child, makes the best educational toy, although the packaging still needs to display an element fun. I don’t like it when people come in and ask if we are an educational toy shop, as I believe all play and all toys are educational; you can be educated from anything in the world. Educational toys need to be targeted correctly though, for example with lower case lettering as children don’t learn about upper-case lettering until later at school. They need to look like a toy, rather than something they might find at school. We offer a range of small selection of role play and dress-up items like tu-tus, wands and tiaras, as well as party invitations. We also offer a party bag service, where we will make up and customise party bags for individual children, which is very successful for us. Stationery is very popular with older girls, so we stock products such as pens, lockable note pads, scented pens and paper, and letter writing kits. BackTo-School time means that I bring in extra stock of stationery around that time of year. I think in order for independent toy shops to survive, they need to be really nimble and thoughtful about their product offerings. I supplement the toy stock by using quite a lot of gift suppliers and that’s where I can maintain my margins. We are actually the smallest toy shop in the UK, and I think that making sure that you have space that you can afford, absolutely filled to the rafters, making every piece of that retail floor space work for you, is the best way to succeed in the face of all the competition.

Talking Shop Bríd Bradley - Fleming Toymaster, Monaghan Business started out a little slowly for us this year but it has improved; I’d say in the last two or three months we’ve seen a big turnaround. We have undergone a change in management - a new lady, Charlotte, has joined the team, and our recent uplift could probably be largely attributed to the injection of new ideas and great teamwork. She’s started working with some new companies we previously haven’t dealt with. Plus, the weather here has been fantastic and I’m sure that’s a factor in our recent sales success too. Outdoor toys is doing really well for us at the moment because of the great weather. We’ve sold lots of tractors and bikes over the last two months, as well as slides and swings. Monaghan is a large agricultural town, so we naturally have a large number of children coming in to look at the tractors, wanting to replicate what they see their parents doing with the real thing. Being a department store, we have good floor space and we aim to stock a wide range of outdoor toys; perhaps six or seven different types of tractors, for example. We are very active on Facebook; social media works really well for us. We aim to post something daily, and have nearly 4000 followers for those posts to reach. Once a month we also run a competition, usually a ‘like & share’ style with a prize up for grabs. I’d estimate that we have a customer in every week looking for a particular item that they’ve seen on our Facebook page. We also benefit from a nursery department attached to the Toymaster, so a lot of customers on that side would have come through our social media page too. Over the summer holidays, we are planning to have a Sylvanian Families costume character visit the store. Whenever we organise costume character appearances we always have a good day of sales. In addition, we are holding a Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty event, where children can come to the store

and create their own putty. We change the theme of our events every year; two years ago we did a Nerf day, which was massive for us. During the summer the local hotels are very busy, and we get a lot of footfall from these hotel guests even though we don’t advertise directly in the hotel itself. The ladies running the hotels simply know us really well, tell the guests what’s on, and send them over to us. Lego performs really well for us, so we’ve updated and expanded our offering. In the New Year we aim to expand it further. Alongside Lego we also stock Meccano and Geomag. Currently we don’t have a building or activity table where kids can sit and build, but it is one of the ideas our new manager has proposed so we’ll hopefully have one set up soon. We offer a wide range of educational Orchard

Toys products. There is an education board here in Monaghan where children with additional learning needs like autism and Asperger’s can receive extra help and support. SuperValu also has an autism friendly shopping night on a Thursday evening and this is something we very much hope to get involved with. These kids and their parents are referred to us for their educational toys; spelling and sensory offerings are particularly popular. In particular we see high demand for SENs (special educational needs) toys, kinetic sand and sensory water toys for the most part. In the past couple of years we’ve seen an uplift in the popularity of tech toys and robots. I’d put this down to kids and their parents wanting something a little different to the usual analogue toys, and an increased interest in STEM topics too. The higher prices of tech toys never seem to pose an issue for our customers. Parents only want the best in these types of early learning tech toys. We stock a range of Melissa & Doug dressing-up costumes, with the bulk of our sales coming around Christmas time. Themes and play patterns don’t tend to change year on year; we find that children are always drawn to the more traditional role-play options like pirates and fairies, although Marvel characters are becoming more popular. Fleming’s has been here since 1949 and will be celebrating 70 years in business next year. The store enjoys huge loyalty from customers in the local area, but is also incredibly loyal to its staff. I’ve been here 18 years but there are some members of the team that have been here for 30. We call ourselves one big family. I think this is going to be a great year for us overall – with our new management it’s very much a case of onwards and upwards, and I hope that we will be significantly up on last year.

Helen Bellenie - Toys N Trends, Whitstable The last year has been a little crazy for Toys N Trends. After eight years trading in the beautiful seaside town of Whitstable we have managed to acquire a larger shop, located in the High Street. Following quite an extensive re-build, we opened the new premises in September 2017, and are delighted with our last year of trading. After steady growth every year since opening in 2010, we have now seen a huge leap forward. The first quarter was good for us considering the harsh winter and the effects of

the Beast from the East, as it was known. Increased footfall, loyal local customers, tourist custom and four local schools all within walking distance definitely helps. We also pride ourselves on knowing our products well, allowing our stock to be sampled and played with, and taking the time to help our customers and understand their needs. Being in the know and keeping up with current trends is so important. As a result of this focus, tech toys are working well for us including micro drones, heliballs and visors.

Always popular among visitors is our Fiddle Zone, consisting of the wonderful Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty, a fantastic selection of Tangles, Swingy Thingy’s, fidget spinners and, of course, many varieties of squishies. Not surprisingly L.O.L.’s are still very popular (when they are available!), along with Lego, Pikmi Pops, slime kits, blind bag collectibles and Roblox, plus Pokémon is still going strong. We attended the London Toy Fair and the Birmingham Spring Fair this year so far but sadly

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never made the Toymaster Show and The Independent Toy & Gift Show due to other commitments. We are looking forward to visiting them next year though. The London Toy Fair is our favourite, giving us inspiration for the months ahead and a great insight into what to look forward to. The upcoming summer season is a source of real anticipation, with our bigger shop enabling us to stock larger, more exciting products, and in a perfect location, just a stone’s throw away from the beach. And talking of stones, we are looking forward to the pebble painting craze that’s been predicted, with DIY kits ordered and already on the way. To help drive footfall to the store, we have a selection of popular characters popping in to entertain children and their parents over the holiday season, and we’ve also got several competitions planned for summer, involving some of our top brands. A combination of social media, website updates and our monthly newsletter, which goes out to all our customers, works very well when it comes to advertising these types of events, and is a great way of increasing footfall, come rain or shine. With the recent good weather, we have seen an increase in outdoor toys such as Aerobie, the Waboba ball ranges, and the new Glove a Bubble from Trends UK, which has a really strong price point. Alongside these, skateboards and the more typical seaside products like buckets, spades, nets and crab lines are selling quickly at the moment. We will also be stocking travel games and family entertainment options for the long summer evenings. At Toys N Trends we have always offered children’s parties, and have a designated party and waiting room. Our party themes are geared around what we stock; we offer a wide range of themes and Lego, Minecraft, Pokémon and Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty parties are currently proving popular. Although the parties are only around 10% of our business, they greatly increase our footfall and customer base, foster a fun atmosphere and guarantee trade even during the worst possible weather. Quite often the parents of the children attending the party will purchase a gift or gift card from us. Siblings not attending the party quite often leave with a treat too. I would highly recommend parties to other retailers, if they have the space, as they offer an excellent return on investment. The room can also be hired out and used for workshops. Previously we have not had the room for dress-up, role play and educational toys, but with the extra floor space in our new premises, we are very much looking forward to pursuing these areas and already have suppliers in mind. With craze after craze lately, so much innovative products available, big movie releases like Jurassic World and the World Cup just around the corner, I predict the remainder of the year to be very positive, particularly as the independents can react much quicker than non-independents. I absolutely love working in the toy industry and am pleased that Toys N Trends has been well supported during the move by so many suppliers. We could not have done it without their inspiration and help, so thank you to them. Have a wonderful summer!

Mark Buschhaus and Stephen Barnes Toy Barnhaus

Keeping it interesting


y the time you read this, we will be into the second half of the year, which is amazing since Christmas does not seem that long ago. It has certainly been an eventful first half of the year in the toy trade, and it has been busy for us at Toy Barnhaus. The first half of last year has been very strong for trade, with the launch of LOL Surprise!, the Lego Batman Movie ranges, and also the spinner craze in May/June. So far for this year, we have traded about flat with last year, which we are very pleased with. Obviously, LOL Surprise! has been a massive driver, with the sales showing no sign of slowing down. With lots of new product on the way over the next few months, it should continue to sell well. The squishy craze has surprised us with its longevity. Initially we thought it might be like spinners, which was all over and done with in about two months. However, after a massive peak in February, it has settled at a steady level and is still in very high demand. It helps that there are lots of new innovations constantly coming through, with Bubbleezz from Character, with gel balls inside, proving very popular. We think this trend should hopefully carry on until the end of the summer at least. By the time you read this, England may be out of the World Cup, but the World Cup Stickers have been popular again. We were worried that the price increase might have had a major impact on sales, but it seems not to have affected them and they are still very strong. Jurassic World has been the standout licence over the last few weeks. Lego is proving extremely popular, as well as Matchbox vehicles and dinosaur sets from Mattel. The franchise has given a lift to anything dinosaur related, especially Schleich figures. Looking forward to the second half of the year, there is lots to be positive about. We saw some great new products at both Toy Fair and Toymaster, with a greater focus on innovation and less on licences. There are two different versions of unboxing collectibles aimed more at the boys market that are due to hit in the next couple of months. It would be great for at least one of them to capture boys’ imaginations, as there is definitely a gap in the market there. The re-launch of Polly Pocket is also something we are looking forward to. The product appears to be a move back into classic micro doll play, and the sets are competitively priced. Although LOL Surprise! is dominating the girls doll market, Polly Pocket has enough points of difference and could provide an alternative. The licence we are most excited about is Harry Potter. The highlight looks set to be the Lego range, which we have been asked for ever since it was retired several years ago. However, the figures and the roleplay all look great, and hopefully this will turn into an evergreen licence for us going forward. Sales of games have been slower for us over the last year, with the lack of a You-Tube sensation game to really drive demand, however it is still a massive category for us. One game which seems primed to hit the best sellers is the Strictly Come Dancing Game from John Adams. With the series proving ever popular, it is certainly a great present for any fan of the show, and as far as we know, you don’t actually have to dance in it either! Monopoly Cheaters Edition has received a lot of coverage and seems a good twist on what is always one of our best-selling games. As ever, there will be other products that surprise us, and possibly not all of the above will sell as well as we think, but that unpredictability is the joy of the toy business. Happy selling.

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Construction Toys

If you build it, they will come As a category, construction offers something for everyone, from the simplest of wooden blocks, which allow babies and toddlers to discover the joys of stacking, to complex builds comprising thousands of parts for the most experienced construction kit aficionados. This year the category has welcomed some new players, bringing innovative and fresh offerings to the table, while existing specialists continue to build upon their current offerings (pun intended.) Rachael Simpson finds out more. The latest newcomer to the construction category, Ravensburger is launching its GraviTrax line this month. Merging the core concepts of construction and STEM, the new range of seven products – which could arguably be called the next step in marble run evolution - includes a starter set with over 100 pieces that allows kids to use magnetism, gravity and kinetics to construct their track, before watching these forces at work as they propel a gravity sphere along the run. “GraviTrax is a brand new and innovative STEM concept from Ravensburger, and is unlike anything else we have done before,” explains Cornee Marlow, marketing manager. “It’s fresh and exciting, and taps into what the toy marketing is crying out for at the moment. Building the track is not only creative and interesting, it uses key STEM educational pillars to provide an inventive and imaginative play environment.” Complementing the product range is the free GraviTrax app, which allows builders to design, deconstruct and tweak their track on a phone or tablet, before building it in real life. Inspirational ideas are also available for those who need a little guidance on what to construct. Not only does this concept allow kids to take their enjoyment of GraviTrax out and about, it is also set to help

them master the basic principles of designing and building a creation from a computer blueprint. Parents can also get involved, designing a track for the child to create in real life, encouraging them to develop their accuracy and ability to follow a plan to fruition. “GraviTrax is launching with a highly-targeted and full impact TV campaign this July,” adds Cornee. “The TV presence will repeat again in October and continue right up till Christmas. This will be supported by a digital pre-roll and digital advertising campaign. Consumer events, PR events including blogging and vlogging, competitions and advertorials are all scheduled to create a buzz. Instore support solutions are available, and we will be working very closely with all our retailers on an individual and case-by-case basis to ensure everyone has the right solution for their needs.” Headquartered in Florida, Laser Pegs is illuminating the construction category with its range of light-up brick sets. With themes including animals, cars, dinosaurs and space, the company offers retailers a substantial 50% margin on its offerings, and told Toy World that it has a long-term strategy in place to establish a secure foothold in the UK marketplace, with marketing plans to include TV advertising.

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“The new Laser Pegs ownership and management team is built on honesty, integrity and - most importantly - bringing ingenuity and innovation to the construction toy category,” says Ross Smith, chief revenue officer. “Laser Pegs is a financially sound company and we approach the market in the correct way, starting with research from core consumers aged 6-11 years old and their parents. All Laser Peg’s product themes, tech, ingenuity and final products are validated for consumer purchase prior to any presentations to retailers.” He continues: “The designers at Laser Pegs combine this consumer research with market research and field studies, visiting actual workplaces that the play themes are based upon, to ensure realistic builds and play value. In addition, senior management listens to the input from valued retailers to fine tune product ranges too, so the final sets are tailored exactly to their target audience.” Elsewhere in the world, Polish construction specialist Cobi is also looking to further its impact on the UK marketplace. Noted for its comprehensive Historical Collection of WW2 sets, which includes tanks, planes, cannons and ships, the company’s products bridge the divide between adults and children by appealing to the fascination surrounding historical conflict.


Construction Toys

“The Historical Collection from Cobi has been designed with great care and attention to detail, so the tanks, planes and ships are faithful to their reallife counterparts,” says Aleksandra Niewierkiewicz, business development & sales director. “This appeals to adult collectors, for whom the precise reproduction of real vehicles is important. We find that many parents who are passionate about history buy sets of Cobi blocks for their children, and the finished models often end up taking pride of place in their offices or sitting rooms. The same is true with children, perhaps even more so than adults. Like dinosaurs, WWII models fascinate kids, and we hope to stimulate that interest in history with our construction range.” Cobi holds a selection of licences, including computer games World of Warships and World of Tanks. The company is also preparing to launch its range of officially licensed Maserati and Jeep models, while its Super Wings construction sets will be available for European customers by the end of this year. Particularly popular at the moment, with the 2018 FIFA World Cup in full swing, is Cobi’s Football Unites Us range, based upon the Polish national football team. “Although production and distribution of our blocks is global, and we sell them all over the world, we never forget our local, Polish market,” says Aleksandra. “That’s why the decision to launch a series of sets for our national football team, under the official licence of the Polish Football Association, was a natural step for us. And, of course, this year's World Championship has had a huge impact on this. Our biggest Polish football stars were the inspiration for our miniature Cobi figures, with many of them recognised throughout Europe. It is worth adding

that the sets also include a mini game that allows kids to play miniature matches.” For market leader Lego, the thrill of building remains the fundamental category driver, while interactivity is a growing trend within the sector. Uma Ramanan, brand director at the Lego Group told Toy World: “The construction category is uniquely placed to marry interactive toys with building experiences that can help develop key skills for kids, including fine motor skills and creative problem-solving. We’ve seen great demand for this trend through our Lego Boost range and other interactive toys – so will be growing our offering in 2018. The construction category is so exciting for people of all ages because of the sheer joy of building they can experience – imaginative and creative sets can inspire a great deal of pride in budding builders, when they step back to admire their work. Retailers who tap into that pride of creation and inspire builders to bigger and better things will see the best success in the category.” Retailers are also excited about Lego’s return to J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World, with new sets modelled on buildings and scenes from the phenomenally successful franchise. The first set in the new range, out this summer, will be the 878-piece Great Hall, and sets will also be available which will allow fans to recreate scenes from the upcoming franchise instalment Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Being a particularly hands-on toy, retailers can boost sales by providing in-store areas where kids and their parents can sit and undertake a build, getting a taste for the brand they are playing with, which can often lead to a pester- powered purchase. Geomag, which produces popular construction kits

based upon the principles of magnetism, has found just this. “Geomag is growing strongly and the retailers that get the best out of it as a brand encourage trialling in-store,” comments Clive Wooster, managing director. “We provide Play Trays and an assortment of loose stock, which stores place near the product range. Watching consumers pick up and play with Geomag for just a few minutes before making the decision to buy a set is very satisfying. We also provide the usual array of POS, competitions and FSDUs. We've taken that a step further in Daniel of Windsor, with a dedicated Geomag area complete with TV, the full product range, and play tables where children can sit down and immerse themselves. We'd be happy to talk to other retailers about replicating this in their own stores.” Commenting on why the construction category is still so popular among kids (and adults), Clive offers, “I guess the world of construction is all around us in everyday life; we all see buildings and construction works, either in reality or in the media, and it drives a desire - could I build something like that? Geomag allows you to try it.” And at Cobi, Aleksandra believes the success of the category lies in the open-ended play possibilities. “Building blocks give the possibility of constant change and endless fun. With the use of building bricks, a child can create anything that they can imagine - their own dream world. There truly are no restrictions. With blocks, only our imaginations can limit us.” Over the next pages, Toy World pieces together the latest offerings from the construction category, and how these will shape up for today’s play.

Smart Games 01903 885669 | www.smartgames.eu SmartMax is an award-winning pre-school magnetic construction system, which allows children to explore the world of magnetism in a fun and safe way. Following its successful debut last year, the My First Sets range welcomes two new additions. The My First Farm Animals and My First Tractor Set both include a range of farm animals which are soft to touch, and easy to connect using the signature magnetic bars. Kids can mix and match the farm animals to create weird and wonderful combinations, and, like all SmartMax products, all parts are 100% compatible with all other sets. For more advanced builders, the all-new Build and Roll Set helps kids enhance their visual and spatial skills as they build a ball run using colourful semi-transparent tubes, specially designed for children to handle. This versatile set is ideal for families; older children can build towers, bridges and other super-sized constructions, while younger children can attempt smaller builds and learn about magnetic attraction and repulsion. Ultimate SmartMax fans will enjoy the Collectors’ Case. Filled with 52 jumbo pieces, including vehicle accessories, tubes, and the signature magnetic bars, this red case is ideal for young children. Smart Games also offers GeoSmart. Featuring bright, bold colours and the strong magnetic pieces, this year sees the launch of five new games from the brand. Kids can create their own moon lander vehicle using the 31 brightly coloured magnetic pieces, motors, wheels and tracks in the GeoSmart Moon Lander set. This toy includes a wireless remote control so kids can drive their creation once it is complete. Space fans will also enjoy making their very own U.F.O. Featuring 25 colourful pieces, including pentagon shapes and an LED-panel, the U.F.O. set lets children create mysterious U.F.O.s for use on intergalactic adventures. Both new items feature bright colours, strong magnetic pieces and a patented double-safety system. Other new releases include Flip Bot, which allows children to create a remote controlled robotic car, which once constructed, can be driven and flipped. Space Ball encourages logical thinking, stimulates hand/eye coordination and promotes imagination and creativity, and Ski Patrol offers a range of construction options to build and bring to life using turbo motors.

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Construction Toys

LeapFrog 01895 202 840 | www.leapfrog.com LeapFrog has introduced LeapBuilders, the first-ever talking building blocks range. Combining construction and curriculum, this month’s launch will be supported by a TV and digital campaign running from July to November. With four different sets to choose from, and twistable blocks made for little hands, children will be able to foster developmental skills from hand-eye coordination to spatial reasoning and counting skills. Each LeapBuilders set includes an Interactive SmartStar Unit which lights up and plays music and learning phrases when a block is inserted into it. Furthermore, all the sets can be mixed and matched to extend the construction fun. The LeapBuilders Phonics House includes more than 50 pieces and two play people. Children can follow the simple instructions to build a house, robot and train, or use their imagination to build something of their own choosing. Kids can slide one of the 20 double-sided blocks into the Interactive SmartStar Unit to learn letter names and sounds, colours and shapes, or press the question, music and number buttons for even more learning fun. With LeapBuilders Wild Animals children can learn about animals, colours and first words. This 16 piece animal set will respond with over 120 phrases, sounds and songs whenever one of the double-sided blocks is inserted into the Interactive SmartStar Unit. Little mechanics can construct two vehicles and more with the LeapBuilders Fix-It Truck. Including more than 30 easy-to-hold pieces, children can follow the simple instructions to build a crane truck or a train engine, or use their creativity to construct anything they can imagine using regular and movable blocks. The Interactive SmartStar Unit will again enhance learning of colours, numbers, tools and counting. Finally, the 21 piece LeapBuilders Elephant Adventures teaches children about fruits, numbers, colours and insects. The elephant will respond with over 115 phrases, sounds and songs whenever one of the double-sided blocks is inserted into the Interactive SmartStar Unit, and when they are finished kids can follow the instructions on the included building cards to build a shop.

Ravensburger 01869 363 830 | www.ravensburger.com With its endless play possibilities, GraviTrax is the new interactive track system from Ravensburger. Kids can build their track, release the gravity spheres and watch the how the forces of physics work with this innovative new range of construction sets. The GraviTrax range is launching in the UK this month. Seven products are available to ship now, including a Starter Set, Trax Extension Pack, Building Extension Pack, Action Catapult Add-on, Action Hammer Add-on, Action Loop Add-on and an Action Magnetic Cannon Add-on. The Starter Set includes over 100 components, allowing kids to build their tracks high before releasing the gravity spheres. GraviTrax allows kids to construct an unlimited number of track variations by combining the various bases, towers and tracks in countless different ways. They can build their track by either following the examples in the instruction pack, or by going free-style with their imagination. For even more track design inspiration, the free app can be downloaded for GraviTrax fun on the go. The app is packed with track ideas, virtual track simulations and even a track building section that allows kids to experiment with their ideal track before they build it. The app also allows builders to record their journeys and share them with others. GraviTrax applies the laws of physics to traditional play. As the popularity of STEM toys grow, this innovative range encourages children to improve skills in the core subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. Children can learn about gravity, magnetism and kinetic energy whilst constructing and enjoying the ultimate GraviTrax track. The launch is supported by a fully integrated marketing plan, including a targeted TV advertising campaign, digital support and PR events.

Spin Master 01628 535 000 | www.spinmastertoys.co.uk Meccano continues to infuse innovation and education into its 2018 line by incorporating new materials and advanced technologies into its construction sets. As an educational construction toy, Meccano has much to offer, and Spin Master is supporting the brand with a full programme of activities and experiential opportunities to engage directly with children. After a successful appearance at The Big Bang science fair in Birmingham earlier this year, the brand has now teamed up with education specialists STEMworks who partner with schools, businesses, teachers and other organisations promoting STEM skills throughout Wales and the West, offering hands-on opportunities to both primary and secondary aged students. The Meccano 5 Model Set Pull Back Car and the Meccano 10 Models Set Motorized Car, which features motors to inspire kids as they create real working models, continue to prove popular with construction fans. Both sets are supported by TV advertising. Launching this summer, Meccano fans can now construct one of the most iconic Italian sports cars ever with the new Meccano Ferrari F1 Racer. This model car kit gives young builders real tools to piece together metal nuts and bolts, creating an authentic Ferrari Grand Prix Racer. Features like stick-on decals, working wheels and poseable steering give this model car the authentic look and feel of Ferrari’s classic racer. Meccano’s Ferrari Grand Prix Racer is recommended for experienced builders aged 10 or over, and has a construction time of 1- 3 hours.

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For more information please contact:

rsmith@laserpegs.com or Philippe@laserpegs.com

Construction Toys

Cobi 07796 175 764 | www.cobi.pl Cobi has developed a new series of its Historical Collection. Dedicated to 100th anniversary of the end of WWI, The Cobi Great War range comprises tanks and planes from the early 20th century. Among other sets, fans can find the famous Red Baron, Camel airplanes and the British Mark I tank. Every month the company also releases new models from its popular Second World War collection, which features models of aircraft, tankers, submarines and other vehicles, all based upon the real-life machines that served a number of armies during the largest armed conflict in history. The company is preparing for the launch of its biggest ever construction set, the Bismarck Battleship. Containing 1,952 blocks, this limited edition set, from the World of Warships series, features a bonus code for the players in the European market. A separate Bismarck model will be available as a part of Cobi’s Historical Collection for the company’s museum customers, and will be available worldwide. Cobi has also announced a selection of new licences from the video games World of Tanks and World of Warships. The Primo Victoria tank is being produced under licence from Wargaming and the famous Swedish rock metal band Sabaton, and features members of the band as the tank crew. It’s been 19 years since Cobi began manufacturing and selling military sets, but the company does not limit itself to this particular category. The recently released Youngtimer Collection features 1:35 scale miniature cars based upon vehicles manufactured in Eastern Europe during the second half of the twentieth century, including Fiat, Trabant, Wartburg and others. Furthermore, the company is also preparing to launch an officially licensed collection of Maserati and Jeep models based upon modern vehicles. Finally, Cobi’s first licensed Super Wings construction sets will be available for European customers by the end of this year.

Learning Resources 01553 819 386 | www.learningresources.co.uk

Little Tikes 0845 0533 333 | www.mgae.com Little Tikes’ Waffle Blocks range is a construction brand for pre-schoolers, consisting of brightly coloured blocks created especially for little hands that connect in a number of different ways for hours of creative play. The range includes Waffle Blocks bags – in 60 block and 100 block versions – for hours of endless play. The blocks are all fully interchangeable and can be added to the play set collections for extra play value. For children wanting to build something specific, there’s the Waffle Blocks Steam Train, complete with a 3D track, train, station and characters. Creative play is further enhanced with real steam and train sounds. Little ones can also create a Waffle Blocks Farm with exclusive farmyard figures. A Waffle Blocks Castle, with knights and horse, and a Waffle Blocks School Bus are also available. Finally, the Waffle Blocks Fire Truck and Fire & Rescue station play pack offers kids the chance to imagine that they are firefighters as they construct their very own red fire truck, or a fire station complete with a tower to rescue characters from.

Learning Resources has enjoyed strong growth in the construction category so far this year. Sales in the UK for the best-selling Gears! Gears! Gears! range and the popular Design and Drill range have more than quadrupled in 2018. Rovergears, Cyclegears, CastleGears and Gears! Gears! Gears! Machines in Motion are extensions of the Gears! Gears! Gears! range from Learning Resources. These colourful construction sets support STEM learning, encourage critical thinking and problem solving and help develop fine motor skills. The Rovergears set includes 43 pieces, the Cyclegears set includes 30 pieces and the CastleGears set includes 38 pieces. Young learners can piece the sturdy plastic cogs and gears together to assemble their creations. These smaller Gears sets provide an ideal introduction to Learning Resources’ wider range of Gears! Gears! Gears! building kits and are great way to learn through play. Gears! Gears! Gears! Machines in Motion advances the range further, appealing to slightly older children. Comprehensive set Machines in Motion includes 112 colourful pieces, offering even more construction opportunities as young learners develop their STEM skills and learn about cause and effect. The set includes propellers, a wrecking ball, chains, pulleys, wheels, axles and instructions for multiple engineering creations. The parts are interchangeable with other Gears! sets to provide endless building possibilities.

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Construction Toys

Laser Pegs (+1) 508 982 7342 | www.laserpegs.com Laser Peg’s utilises exciting sensory stimulating features including LED lights, motion activated sound modules, and working suspension systems, all of which add substantial levels of realism to the models and playsets. All packaging is Try-Me style for an eye-catching on-shelf presence and strong sell through, while every brick contained within each set is precisely tooled to ensure the clutch power and compatibility consumers demand in construction toys. Citing the desire for detail and realism, Laser Peg’s consumers are hugely enthusiastic about the endless play scenarios the range offers. Especially popular during the market research were the mini figures, available with select models, that actually light up. In creating a brick that contains a light up image projector, Laser Pegs has gone one step further in enhancing fun play patterns and learning. The 2018 product range consists of four platforms; Mission Mars, Monster Rally, Heroes, and Creatures. A global initiative to place humans on Mars by 2023 is underway. There are over 150 launches into space planned throughout 2018 alone, attracting millions of viewers in schools, homes and workplaces throughout the world. The builders at Laser Pegs based their designs for the Mission Mars range on actual models that are being developed for the Mars space programme at the Kennedy Space Center. All items are loaded with features for exciting imaginative play and learning. The Mars Rocket has multiple stage light up engines, lights throughout the build, a motion-activated sound module with lights and also features a realistic countdown sequence and engine roar. Lighted Astronaut Mini-Figures, plus light up International Space Station and Satellite accessories, complete the set. Trucks are always a favourite and Monster Rally adds excitement to the construction vehicle and playset range. All products are loaded with ingenuity and tech. The Monster Rally Garage features its own light up vehicle with suspension, a light up lift for kids to repair their trucks with the extra set of wheels and realistic tires, plus a gas pump, oil drums, tool chest, battery recharging station, computer screens and a workbench built on a light up brick with image projector. The image projector comes with three interchangeable slides for viewing. A classic police and firefighter rescue range loaded with lights, sounds, realistic accessories and lighted mini-figures, Heroes captures children’s imaginations while helping them develop responsible values. These combined qualities, like the other Laser Pegs ranges, have caught the attention of the core consumer group and their parents. Exciting adventures await in every Creatures kit. From scuba diving on ocean reefs while avoiding a shark attack to hangliding into the pyramids of Egypt to find hidden treasures, kids can build light up creatures, minifigures and accessories for endless hours of creative play.

Character Options 01616 339 800 | www.character-online.com Character Options is building upon its construction offering following last year’s launch of two magnetic brands, Magtastix and Magcreator. These innovative construction sets encourage kids to explore shapes and patterns with magnetic rods and balls (Magtastix) or geometric shapes (Magcreator), for endless creative and educational play. With 20 piece and 40 piece sets, plus a huge 70-piece building set in the Magtastix range, kids can create hundreds of different imaginative designs. Meanwhile, construction meets dinosaurs with the mega Magcreator 2-in-1 Dino set. The 57-piece set contains everything kids need to build and re-build their own 3D Triceratops and T-Rex dinosaurs. With additional 15-piece and 31-piece generic building sets, the collection is supported across a range of price points and imparts STEM skills as well as promoting the development of dexterity and imagination.

Zuru 01604 401 719 | sales@geemac.biz As the exclusive worldwide licensee for Mayka toy block tape, toy manufacturer Zuru continues to offer children new ways of playing with construction brands by transforming any surface with this flexible tape. Adhesive and suitable for cutting to any shape and size, Mayka quickly proved popular among construction fans when it launched in June 2017. Available in three sizing options and nine standard colour-ways, Mayka gives children and adults a product which both extends play and expands display options. New for 2018 is the Glow-In-The-Dark tape which is available as a 2m, 2-stud roll and can be cut, shaped, stuck, and built on at any time of the day or night. As with all Mayka tapes, the Glow-In-The-Dark edition can be removed and re-used. Additional brand feature tapes include a 1.2m, 4-stud Road design and 8”x8” Baseplate.

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Construction Toys

Lego 01753 495 000 | www.lego.com One of the latest innovations in its platform of connected toys, the new Lego Powered Up line will consist of multiple products that vary in complexity and will feature battery powered, remote controlled and app-controlled sets. Lego will be releasing an app-controlled Batmobile, along with the Lego City Passenger Train and Lego City Cargo Train, while other sets in the range include an interactive Lego Duplo train and an expert level Roller Coaster. Following last year’s success of the Lego Boost Creative Toolbox, which brought the worlds of coding and Lego together for a new generation of fans, the Lego Boost family welcomes new sets from Ninjago and Lego City ranges. Ninjago Stormbringer Dragon and City Arctic Scout truck can be combined with Boost to create interactive toys controlled via tablet/smartphone.

Geomag 07831 886 997 | www.geomagworld.com Geomagworld presents the refreshed Geomag Classic - multiple magnetic construction lines that allow kids to create incredible structures alone or with friends. Steel spheres, magnetic rods and colourful panels will give shape to their imaginations, while a variety of pieces in different shapes and colours can be used to build, take apart and reassemble creations. By learning how to control invisible magnetic forces, any child can build abstract sculptures, futuristic buildings and spectacular 3D structures in total safety. Geomag Classic is an open-ended game system with no limits to imagination. By trying to find magnetic connections that become stronger and more complex, the system enables children to develop and enhance their building skills. Only with a combination of manual dexterity and imagination will kids be able to create Geomag Classic constructions. The Classic group of products has several lines which have been created to adapt to different play preferences. Each range has a number of sets with a different piece count, from a minimum of 22 to a maximum of 192 components. Recommended retail prices cater to every budget, and all the products in the range are compatible with each other to further extend the play possibilities. Geomagworld is once again the leader in the magnetic construction toy category, and cements its ability to bring together young and old alike thanks to its patented system based on the principles of magnetism.

K’Nex 01189 253 270 | www.knex.co.uk K’Nex is the first construction toy company to bring a mobile virtual reality experience to builders. Bridging the gap between physical and digital play, K’Nex Thrill Rides, along with the state of the art K’Nex Ride It! app, allows builders of all ages to take their coasters to the next level as they ‘Design it, Build it, Ride it!’. After building the coaster in the physical world, the free K’Nex Ride It! app allows kids to virtually build and ride their creation either in 2D or 3D VR. As in the real world, sets can be combined and customised in countless ways within the app. Two new TV promoted sets, Bionic Blast and T’Rex Fury, will be available for autumn. With its dark theme and unique artistic style, Bendy and the Ink Machine has become one of the hottest new computer gaming properties. This autumn, Basic Fun is releasing a collectible construction line of blind packs, buildable figures and scene sets based on the game’s iconic settings and characters including Bendy, Boris the Wolf and Alice Angel. The popular card game Exploding Kittens is also being reimagined as a buildable and collectible construction line. Launching in autumn, Basic Fun’s Exploding Kittens construction sets will highlight the game’s wide array of quirky and comedic characters. Blind packs, buildable figures and scene sets will all be available.

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Construction Toys

Liberty House Toys 0151 479 3135 | www.libertyhousetoys.co.uk Biobuddi is a range of 100% recyclable building blocks for children. A pioneer in sustainable and eco-friendly toys, Biobuddi is committed to making a positive impact on the planet with these educational building blocks, manufactured in the Netherlands and distributed in the UK by Liberty House Toys. All packaging materials are also 100% green, and the sets include fun stickers for customisation plus instructions with printed activities. All the stickers need to be placed, offering an activity that parents can do along with their children, and they blend in well with the white or vibrantly-coloured blocks, with superior stick to resist peeling off. The educational line has more than 13 products, ranging from alphabet and numbers to shapes, animals, and more, so kids can learn their basics as they play with their blocks. In addition to the educational construction lines, Biobuddi is releasing a new Wildlife range, which includes seven animal sets including an Elephant, Turtle and Lion. Kids can also use their imagination to build creations of their own, or combine the animals in each playset to create a zoo, safari or wildlife park.

DKL Marketing 01604 678 780 | www.dkl.co.uk DKL’s Plus-Plus Tubes range features four generic sets and nine themed sets. Each tube contains 100 Plus-Plus pieces and instructions. Retailers can choose from a CDU display of 24 pieces, a Floor Spinner Stand featuring a play tray which can hold up to 144 tubes, or alternatively the tubes can be hung. The Plus-Plus range has doubled in size this year. Plus-Plus Big, for younger children, is designed for smaller hands. Bloco features high-density foam pieces and plastic connectors that interlink, stack and rotate at any angle.

GP Flair 020 8643 0320 | www.flairplc.co.uk The new Little Builder set makes a strong entry point into the Stickle Bricks range, providing young children with an assortment of brightly coloured bricks so they can begin building early on. The new Fun Tub was also created with young builders and their grand designs in mind, and doubles as a handy storage container. Another product launching this spring is the Stickle Bricks Fire Engine, which will inspire countless adventures with its fire fighter and bright red fire engine. Using the easy to assemble bricks and special stickled lid, kids can stick, stack and construct as they build a fire station of their very own.

Jumbo Games 01707 289 289 | www.jumbo.eu Jumbo’s wooden Goula Construction Toys range helps to develop manual and hand-eye coordination skills, using eye-catching and engaging products that children can build and play with. The two most popular packs in the range consist of 26 and 41 brightly coloured, chunky shaped wooden pieces that are both durable and easy to balance. Each pack contains bright geometric wooden shapes to help build hand-eye coordination, as well as assist children as they learn about different shapes. Other key products in the Construction Toys range include the Goula Screw In and Play range, consisting of two box sets; Zoo Animals and Farm Animals, both containing brightly coloured construction pieces. Children can piece together recognisable animals by assembling the body, head and legs, and screwing the different pieces together using the wooden bolts. These construction toys help children develop vital skills whilst exploring their imaginations and creativity.

Halilit 01254 872 454 | www.halilit.co.uk Magic Brix Motion joins Halilit’s Edushape range. The flexible, soft and easy-to handle pieces simply snap together to let kids build all manner of creations, and two-wheel axels are included so they can create moving vehicles. As a STEM product, there are multiple skills to be acquired by building and constructing with Magic Brix, such as the development of dexterity and visual engagement.

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60 years of LEGO celebrated with new launches In 2018, the 60th year of the LEGO brick, the LEGO Group is continuing to grow its assortment of construction toys, giving the builders of tomorrow even more opportunities to experience the endless fun and creativity of the LEGO brick. A series of new and innovative sets has been released to increase consumer excitement about the LEGO System in Play.

Fans can also experience the stories of JK Rowling’s Wizarding World. Arriving this summer, the new range of sets, including a Hogwarts Great Hall set, will give kids the chance to go back to classic Hogwarts scenes from the early Harry Potter films, as well as the Fantastic Beasts series of films. Sets will also be available which will allow fans to recreate scenes from the upcoming franchise instalment Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.

Suitable for children as young as 18 months, the LEGO Duplo range has grown even more this year with My First products, including lines such as the My First Playground Brick Box, and other additions to the Duplo town range including Duplo Farm Adventures.

The LEGO Group will also expand its popular LEGO Friends range in 2018, giving even more ways to put heart into the world through adventures in Heartlake City. The new LEGO Friends Friendship Box will contain enough colourful LEGO pieces to build five different life-size accessories at once - each model representing one of the girls from Heartlake City. There’s a microphone, camera, trophy, walkie-talkies and a robot in this LEGO Friends set, offering endless role-play fun.

Similarly, the LEGO Ninjago range of products – fresh from the success of its own feature film in 2017 – includes new product lines such as Dragon Flyers and Spinjitzu Spinners, offering kids new ways to build and play. For more advanced builders, LEGO Technic offers a range of new product lines across a wealth of different price points, providing authentic, functional and challenging build experiences. Options include rally cars, racing yachts and construction vehicles, as well as a new ultimate Technic experience in the form of a Bugatti Chiron set.

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Viewpoint Last man standing

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.

Distoy 2018 – could it be love?


ach time this month’s Viewpoint column was ready for submission, yet another toy related retailer declared their intent to either fully or partially trigger store closure plans, file for a CVA or enter administration without passing Go, whilst the executives collected large bonuses.

hurricane-force head winds that continue to reshape retail as we know it. It is abundantly clear that this is not isolated to retailers with high overheads driven by extensive store portfolios, it has also manifested itself with pureplay and multi-channel retailers that have been caught short by the pace of change.

As I write this, at least another four large established retail operations representing 1,000 stores in total are at a very real threat of permanent closure and could possibly disappear prior to this article being published.

If a company has not been strategically astute and has failed to undertake material operational change in the current environment, then these businesses are sitting ducks in what is turning out to be a King of the Ring Battle Royale at retail; only the few that remain standing will be crowned as the commercial winners.

Sadly, this is becoming the new normal, where companies remain in a state of flux, continually ‘right sizing’ their staff and stores in order to survive the full-on,


have never particularly enjoyed going to Distoy. There, I have said it and I feel a lot better for sharing that out loud. In fact, I will calibrate that further for you by confirming that, in the past, I would have happily swapped two weeks in Nuremberg for four days at Distoy. Why do I feel this way?

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.

• G etting there. It’s London – all transport links in the UK lead to London, but nobody factors in the time taken to get to the right part of London. So, you have to get to Victoria station and then walk up one street to walk parallel back on yourself, and that’s even with a cut through I know about. • T he venue. Distoy is now spread across multiple hotels, but there is a common theme: it is not well lit, it is cramped, and it is badly ventilated. I have often walked the corridors in temperatures of the high 20s and even mid30s. Turning up to a meeting sweating isn’t good for me or the other party.

I think we are still some way

• U  sing the lifts. This year’s challenge: congestion. The queues for the lift were a new low for me. I ended up bypassing the sign to “not use the stairs” and going on a rat run, almost through the kitchen, to reach my desired room. • T  he visitor’s approach. “I’m here to see 150+ companies in three days so I am allocating you 3.4 minutes to explain your concepts in a foreign language.” No pressure. • T  he cost. It’s London, so a sandwich will cost you £15 and you will be encouraged to tip for it. But I can show you where there is a Greggs bakery that now does hipster salads, should anyone from the licensing industry be interested. For those preferring not to travel any great distance from the show, there is also a Pret which you pass between the two main hotel sites. However, I think I’ve had a change of heart. This year I arrived at Distoy on day two, due to a slightly delayed return from

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from having just a handful of retail toy stockists, but the level of retail competition being shaken-out from the industry in 2018 will leave a strange feeling at the business end of the year. The further merging of retailers and merchants is also gathering pace with several collaborations being announced since the start of the year. This, coupled with some major senior executive changes at the top of large organisations such as Mattel, will add further instability in the short term. The old joke of Mattel and Walmart being the last supplier and retailer standing might need to be updated to reflect the changing nature of the current industry leading players and their various manifestations.

China, to discover we had a room with working air conditioning and a little bit of space to breath. Coupled with this, Neil Leah (our head of sales) had set everything up and we had appointment after appointment through the showroom. Despite the briefness of the appointments, we were suddenly recipients of a ton of global feedback and, as we all know, feedback is the breakfast of champions, Based on this feedback, we are happy that Kids@Play is now perceived as more than just a rideon company. We’ve got a range of Harry Potter products that is in demand for Christmas 2018 and we’ve also got a range of collectible products to launch in 2019 that nearly every country gave the thumbs up to. Love and hate are strong words but Distoy worked fantastically well for us this year, and for that we must thank David Potter’s team. Could I be warming to this show after all these years? Maybe I’d only swap 10 days of Nuremberg for it. At least it’s progress.

Making People Count

Vance Withers Vance is an experienced company director, now running The 496 Partnership. He has previously worked at Worlds Apart, as a commercial consultant and in the FMCG industry.


f there’s one thing that 2018 is certainly demonstrating, it’s that change continues to affect us all. Some changes we could see coming but some were unexpected and without doubt, more changes are still to come. One thing is certain, your reaction to change and the reactions of those around you will have a significant effect on your business and your ability to achieve key goals. At the half way point in the year, you’ll know what stock you’ve sold, you’ll know what current stock levels are and you’ll be forecasting what stock you’ll need. It’s natural (and necessary) to focus on hard data; sales in, sell through, stock holding, market share etc and you will have your internal monitoring

and reporting systems sorted out. You’ll have assessed what impact the changes are having and you’ll be working out what’s needed, adjusting your investments in key areas. However, those investments will most definitely be focused on product support, promotional campaigns and extra digital activity. Little or no investment will be targeted towards helping or developing people. In reality, it’s about this time of year that people budgets often get cut. But attention should be paid to your most valuable assets. What systems do you have in place to see how your people are doing? How many of you can honestly say that the development, motivation and engagement of the team are

key performance indicators (KPIs) within the business? We measure the wellbeing of our products and brands – why not our people? The appraisal system can become a purely administrative task and little priority is given to getting the best from it. We get so focused on business data that we overlook the impact that everyday trading and marketplace changes have on our people. It’s easy to forget that change brings uncertainty at all levels, and uncertainty can lead to isolation and disengagement. Keeping everyone in the team informed, engaged, motivated and working together is essential if you are to have any chance of achieving your short and long-term goals. I’m sure that many of you will continued...


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Viewpoint be investing in social or team building events and I would definitely applaud your intent. However, a word of caution: whilst they’re relatively simple and inexpensive to run and can involve a large proportion of the team, they will only ever provide brief, but welcome, relief from everyday work pressure. The truth is that they make us believe that we’re looking after our people when in reality, a pie and a pint once a year is not exactly a statement of a strong commitment to the wellbeing of your workforce. You won’t ever get all members of the team involved, and there is always the danger that an employee who is feeling disengaged and below par from a motivational point of view will find a reason not to attend. So, what can you do? Just stop for a moment to consider a simple three step approach to understanding how to measure what’s required from a ‘people’ point of view. One of the simplest ways that I’ve found is to consider three areas: Head – Hand - Heart Head - do they have the required knowledge? Hand - do they have the required skills? Heart - do they have the right attitude and motivation?

Toy Safety – the impact of Brexit

Matthew Thorpe Matthew is account manager at MTS Global, a consumer product QA service provider.

Knowing what to do is key and having the skill set to be able to do it is essential but having the motivation to do what’s needed is absolutely critical. Understanding the motivation of each individual member of the team is a core responsibility of all managers in the company, as having team members that are below par in any one of these areas will have a significant impact on day to day business. Changes in the marketplace can cause gaps in knowledge and skills and these will raise concerns for employees. These can be easily fixed through enrolling in outside workshops or better still, by using the knowledge and skills within the business; use the stronger team members to help others. The significant impact is likely to be on individual motivation. When it comes to attitude and motivation, individuals will seldom admit when they’re ‘not in a good place’. Change will affect the business at different levels; organisation, team, individual and self. Change brings uncertainty at all levels and uncertainty can lead to isolation. People need reassurance and clarity. Not just once – make it part of what you do every day.


rexit takes effect from March next year. Media headlines have focused on immigration, exit fees, border issues in Ireland etc, but I have yet to hear the Six O’clock News reporting on what Brexit might mean for the toy industry. Brexit could affect the toy industry in any number of ways: import tariffs, Intellectual Property rights and staffing, to name three but safety and the compliance of toys will also be affected. This article looks at the possible legal landscape post Brexit and what manufacturers, importers and distributers need to be considering.

Make it easy for your team to raise concerns and ensure that they have someone to talk to. Create an environment where raising concerns is welcomed and not frowned upon. Just because you’re comfortable with what’s happening, don’t assume that everyone is. Just because you know what needs doing, don’t assume that everyone knows. Encourage your managers to create time to spend with their team members and find a way to connect yourself with what’s happening from a motivation point of view. Whether or not you know how your team really feels, they still feel that way. Knowing how they feel starts to give you back control of one of your most valuable assets. Don’t leave it to chance, there’s too much at stake. Take time to reflect on what’s happening in your own business and talk to your team. Unlike other assets, these can walk away. Make motivation and engagement essential parts of your KPI process and I am sure you will see the difference.

Having agreed the “divorce bill” a few months ago, trade negotiations are now ongoing, and any final deal requires approval from both sides before 29 March 2019, at which point the UK leaves the EU and any transitional arrangements come into effect.

within the EU; a global laboratory group might have numerous laboratories, but only individual ones might hold NB status, not the whole laboratory group).

Everything stated below is subject to the details agreed in the final deal between the UK and EU, and

The good news is that, for the majority of toy products, the situation is a lot simpler than for other industries, as toys go through a self-certification process as part of compliance with the EU’s Toy Safety Directive 2009/48/EU. Most readers will know that a toy sold in Europe must carry the CE mark, but a similar requirement applies to items such as computers, lifejackets, oven gloves and cable cars. However, although the CE mark is the same,

A key question for your products is whether they currently require certification by a Notified Body. For most toys this will not be the case, but the decision will be based on what the item is, what it does and the hazards that it presents to the consumer. A simple plush toy should be ok to be self-certified but a ride-on vehicle with a mains power battery charger may not be, as it may contain hazards that necessitate independent evaluation by the NB. If you are currently getting all your compliance testing completed in Asia, then the answer is probably

so subject to change, but has been written based on the stated aims of the negotiating parties and progress made to date.

these other types of items must be certified by a Notified Body laboratory. (Note: NB status applies to a specific laboratory facility based

no, and self-certification is likely to continue post Brexit, albeit with some labelling considerations. If any of your products are tested and

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certified through a UK based Notified Body, then you may need to find a new EU (non-UK) NB lab, depending on the terms of the trade deal that is agreed. The EU has issued a document indicating that unless there is agreement to the contrary, all UK Notified Body laboratories will lose their NB status on the date that the UK ceases to be a member of the EU, and that existing NB certification will need to be transitioned to a new NB based elsewhere within the EU. The UK remains hopeful that agreement may yet be reached to permit UK-based NBs to continue to offer this service, but this is by no means certain ay the present time. UK Legislation. Post Brexit, the UK will still have the same rules as the EU. The British government is replicating all current EU laws into UK law, so the same approach to compliance should apply and there will be no immediate cliff-edge. As time goes by, then the two sets of legislation may move apart, but initially they will be the same. Safety of dressing up costumes is an example of an area for potential divergence of requirements in the future, but as of March 2019 the UK and EU will continue to have matching requirements. Labelling. This could be the area that is most likely to be affected. If you are a company based in the UK and currently selling into other EU countries, then having a UK name and address on the toy will be acceptable. Once the UK leaves the EU, you will need to label the goods with an EU (non-UK) legal entity name and address who would be responsible for the product, hold the technical file etc. If your company has multiple offices across the EU, then this could be a simple transfer exercise, if you only have representation in the UK then this may be more significant. The terms of the Brexit deal and transitional arrangements will be key in determining what changes will need to be taken, but is something to monitor as negotiations progress. The UK has not yet given any post Brexit guidance as to what labelling will be required on toys sold in the UK. Worst case, it could be that all toys sold in the UK will require a UK name and address in addition to an EU-based name and address, thus affecting non-UK based companies. If your products are sold in the UK and have an EU name and address this will be something else to watch. If a deal is agreed in the next few months, then there will hopefully be sufficient time for any product changes, such as labelling amends, to be made before implementation. Anyone who has followed the Brexit process since the 2016 vote will know that there are many potential issues that could occur between now and March, so the situation could still change further. MTS will continue to monitor the situation over the coming months and can provide individual guidance if needed.

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Educational Toys

A class apart A child’s learning starts a long time before they ever set foot in a formal educational establishment, with parents guiding their offspring towards the earliest of milestones – be that counting, colours, or ABCs. But with the definition of educational meaning different things to different people, the category is welcoming a more diverse range of products than ever under the educational umbrella. Rachael Simpson finds out more.


ith research conducted by Learning Resources indicating that 66% of parents see themselves as the primary educator of their children, educational toys should make parents aware of their benefits and learning outcomes at retail, while still ultimately appealing to the intended recipient; a child. If a toy helps a child develop their knowledge of language, colours, animals and seasons, if it teaches them to read clocks or add up coins, to spot different continents or constellations, it’s educational. However, the edges of the category are becoming slightly softer, with the demand for ‘alternative’ educational toys resulting in an influx of sensory products that are suitable for all, not just for children with Special Educational Needs (SEN). “With spending power being stretched, parents want to be sure that what they are buying will provide maximum value and enrichment to their child’s development,” comments Judith Stark, managing director at Halilit. “In this respect, the industry is seeing many buzzwords and themes such as sensory, moving out of the traditional educational domain and into the consumer arena.” Halilit’s new Edushape Sensory Balls is a good example of a sensory educational toy; not only can kids get to grips with moving the ball inside to its correct position, but the sounds created in doing so provide auditory stimulation too. My Mood Stars, a range of plush stars which depict basic emotional states and feelings - happy, sleepy, angry, and so on - has been designed by Wendy White, a retired OSFTED registered childminder. Suited to all children from the age of nine months, the stars also provide non-verbal children and those with autism or Asperger’s with a simple, fun way of communicating how they feel to those around them, easing the frustrations of being unable to voice their thoughts. While My Mood Stars is not currently in toy shops, Wendy hopes to change this in the near future and increase awareness about this versatile range. It’s not just sensory toys that are pushing the

boundaries of this category either – STEM, that other buzzword flying around, regularly confuses matters. It’s worth remembering that all STEM products are educational, but not all educational products are STEM. The acronym stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, and

thus it’s a far more rigid category to contend with. If it doesn’t cover those subjects, it’s not a STEM product. More on this next month, in our dedicated STEM toys feature. Simon Tomlinson, Learning Resources head of marketing, highlighted some of the standout products in the company’s educational range. “Our new screen free coding robot Botley has performed very well, and we have also seen excellent sales from new additions to our bestselling Gears, Design and Drill and Geosafari ranges.” In the home, educational toys must toe the line between fun and learning. Sit a child down having said they are learning fractions, and you can

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probably hazard a guess to the reception you’ll get; sit them down to play a fun board game - which just so happens to teach fractions - and the learner is likely to be far more willing. This ‘learning by stealth’, as Brainstorm’s marketing manager, Debra Tiffany, refers to it, can be achieved by playing with a parent or older sibling, or by playing alone. “Toys LIttle Tikes that allow parents and children to engage with each other can only be beneficial to learning,” says Debra. “There is no imagination like that of a child’s though, and their natural curiosity coupled with an entertaining toy allows them to learn without realising, either alone or when playing with parents.” Judith at Halilit adds: “There are benefits and value in both types of play; solitary play can encourage children to use their imagination and problem solve, as well as encouraging other skills such as fine motor development, sensory development, dexterity and logical thinking by exploring. When playing with parents, a child can be encouraged further than perhaps their own minds can take them, especially in a controlled, educational context.” Debra at Brainstorm feels that ranging educational toys next to generic ones will help generate sales, as will creating Discovery or Science zones within stores. “Children are drawn to educational products when they sit alongside more traditional toys,” she says. “We offer a range of eye-catching CDUs and FSDUs for Brainstorm Toys products, making it easier for retailers to sell them alongside more generic toy lines. Many of our toys can also be demonstrated within stores, so consumers can see the quality of the products as well as their educational benefits.” Over the next few pages, we take a look at some of the latest toys from within the educational category, and what they offer to today’s young learners.

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Educational Toys

Little Tikes 0845 0533 333 | www.mgae.com

Juratoys 020 8878 2133 | www.juratoys.com French brand Janod has released a number of new lines in its popular range of Magneti’book educational books. For 2018, Janod has reimagined and refreshed the range, with a new packaging design, new illustrations and a new graphic style guide. Included in the new range is the English Alphabet Magneti’book, which teaches kids basic words and phrases in the English language with an assortment of magnetic tiles depicting either a letter or a word. Kids must replicate the target word on the magnetic inner cover of the ‘book’ using the appropriate letter tiles. This set is an ideal introduction to basic language skills, bringing learning to children in a fun and engaging manner. Also available is the Animals Magneti’book, composed of 30 magnets and 10 cards. Kids can try to create the same animal as indicated on the card with the magnetic body parts, or simply use their imagination to create crazy animals by mixing the different pieces together. The Learn to Tell the Time Magneti’book includes 75 magnetics and eight double-sided cards featuring 16 scenes in total, helping kids learn to read analogue clocks. The Magneti’book range also includes Princesses, 4 Seasons, Boy’s Costumes, Girl’s Costumes, Moduloform, Racers, Girl Crazy Faces and Boy Crazy Faces. The front cover of each Magneti’book features a label reminiscent of a child’s schoolbook detailing the theme, along with a preview of the magnetic characters, icons and pieces included.

Learning and development is at the heart of the Little Tikes brand, especially with the launch of its STEM line, new for autumn. Taking the educational principles of science, technology, engineering and maths, the range aims to make these core subjects accessible to little ones while igniting curiosity through hands-on play. By making STEM fun and creative, the line will help children to understand and learn all about the world we live in and why everything works the way it does. Central to the line is key product, the Wonder Lab. The Wonder Lab is the ultimate STEM activity toy that brings the magic of science to life. With over 20 experiments and over 50 accessories, sounds and phrases, the Wonder Lab features a Circuit Centre, where children can play hands-on, make a Wizard’s Brew and mix and match with the Ball Maze. Also key to the range is the Tornado Tower, a two-in-one tornado and lava lamp. Kids can create a ‘real’ tornado by filling the toy with water and using the joy stick to make it whirl, or make their own lava lamp by adding household ingredients and using the control panel to add air bubbles. The new line also includes the Builder Bots, multi-part bots that can be refigured in different ways to prompt entertaining reactions. An ideal introduction to engineering, the brightly coloured Builder Bots come with experiment cards for hours of creative play. The STEM line will launch in autumn and be supported by a heavyweight PR, influencer, digital, TV and retail campaign.

Halilit 01254 872 454 | www.halilit.co.uk Halilit’s Edushape brand welcomes the new Curiosity Cubes to its extensive sensory toy repertoire. Recently approved by the Good Toy Guide, the four candy-coloured cubes feature individual skill levels that provide stimulation for inquisitive minds. Kids can manoeuvre the cubes until the beads inside land where they belong, whilst also enjoying the secondary rattle/shaker effect which provides auditory stimulation. The cubes engage children in cause and effect logic, whilst developing their fine motor skills. Halilit also introduces the Doron Layeled Alligator ABC Puzzle for early learning and literacy skills. The sizable wooden puzzle features upper case letters, with lower case underneath, which children can fit together in the correct order along the alligator’s body. The puzzle encourages fine motor skills along with vocal and language development.

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Educational Toys

Bandai 020 8324 6160 | www.bandai.co.uk Bandai offers two new collections, each with an educational focus. Kids can experiment with a wide choice from the world of National Geographic, or nurture their very own Sea Monkeys. The National Geographic range combines a trusted and well-known brand with fun and engaging experiments, expert learning guides and fascinating subjects. The Crystal Growing Kits provide all kids need to grow and study a crystal, including a real fluorite, amethyst or calcite crystal in each box to compare with the one that is grown at home. Other kits include Geodes, Build Your Own Volcano, and Ultimate Play Sand, while Dig Kits are ideal for any fossil loving child. Each kit takes a real look at artefacts of the past, and includes three genuine fossils. Three Dig Kits are available - Gemstone, Dino Fossil and Shark Tooth. For autumn, Wildlife Wow will bring toys and technology together with an innovative Virtual Reality mode that lets kids explore an animal’s habitat and use x-ray vision to peer inside each animal. Alternatively, the Augmented Reality mode lets them watch videos, learn facts and more. Children and parents alike can also put the Smart Phone Microscope to the test, with its 90x magnification and LED and ultraviolet illumination, alongside many other experiment based kits. The Original Sea Monkeys range also returned this spring, bringing the combination of science, nature and nurture to a whole new generation of kids. Set to reinvigorate the category, the original Sea Monkeys has heritage appeal with a retro vibe and educational benefits. For Bandai UK’s launch, the formulation of the eggs will once again be created in the US to ensure the highest quality of product. The Ocean Zoo set is the entry point to the range, whilst the Ocean Adventure Zoo will be introduced later in the year.

Learning Resources 01553 819 386 | www.learningresources.co.uk The Learning Resources mission is to help kids love to learn, and the company is proud to be the No. 1 manufacturer of educational toys in the UK Toy Market (NPD POS Data Full Year 2017). The GeoSafari Talking Globe will enable children to learn about continents, countries, animals and nature. The interactive globe is voiced by wildlife conservationist Bindi Irwin, and features 12 hours of audio which provides interesting facts about planet earth. Jolly Roger’s Pirate Pieces is an engaging way to teach fractions to young learners. Suitable for 2-4 players, kids (and/or their parents) must spin a spinner to determine which fraction they need to find in this pirate-themed board game. The game play uses fractions in wholes, halves, quarters and thirds, and players must complete all of their treasures to win. Money Bags tasks players with earning money as they move around the board by completing common household chores. This simple yet rewarding game is ideal for developing a variety of basic money-related numeracy skills including coin value recognition, early financial awareness, counting money and money-themed equivalency skills. The game includes a colourful game board, die, spinner and HM treasury approved play money. The Sneaky, Snacky, Squirrel Colour Matching Game helps children to develop colour matching skills, strategic thinking, hand-eye co-ordination and fine motor skills. The aim of the game is to help squirrel fill his stump with coloured acorns. Children spin a spinner, squeeze matching coloured acorns with squirrel squeezers and place it in their tree stump. The set includes a tree-shaped game board, squirrel squeezers, 20 coloured acorns, a game spinner and four stumps. This summer, Learning Resources is also launching Beaker Creatures, a new range of science-themed collectibles. By dissolving Reactor Pods, kids can discover and classify 35 collectible Beaker Creature characters from five different families. The signature Liquid Reactor Super Lab reveals dozens of characters including Astrolytes, Frostonians, Oceanites, Buglettes and Minisaurs. Kids can then take on the role of scientist, identifying their creatures with classification cards, and exploring their worlds through science facts and experiments. There are also rare mystery figures as part of each series.

Bertoy 01675 442 942 | www.bertoy.com Bertoy’s giant World Discovery 100pc Puzzle teaches kids about the earth, continents and indigenous species of animals across the globe. The 3-foot puzzle also comes with 21 3D animal figures, and a guide book detailing each of the animals featured on the puzzle. Crocodile Creek's Four Seasons Early Learning puzzle teaches children about the four seasons that occur every year. This 24-piece puzzle has sturdy, large pieces and the inside box cover acts as a Can you find? activity, making this a great interactive puzzle for both parents and children.

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The eight My Mood Stars enable children to immerse themselves in imaginative play, either by themselves or with others. Use the stars and their board to set the scene for endless stories and games to be made with characters being shy, sad, cross, happy, sleepy, surprised, scared and silly! My Mood Stars have proved to be a fun and very effective toy for encouraging children to talk about and acknowledge their feelings as well as the feelings of others.









Introducing My Mood Stars

For play ideas and examples of how to use My Mood Stars effectively, visit www.mymoodstars.co.uk to download your free ‘Games to Play’ booklet.










To find out more about My Mood Stars, visit our website: www.mymoodstars.co.uk

Soft, sensory and safe, My Mood Stars are CE compliant with the Toys (Safety) Regulations 2011.

Educational Toys

Wendy Woo 07711 100 533 | www.wendywoo.uk My Mood Stars is a range of plush stars designed to help children aged nine months to five years express how they feel in a simple and playful manner. Designed by Wendy White, a retired OFSTED registered childminder of some 20 years, My Mood Stars was developed following the 2012 introduction of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), a Department of Education framework which sets the standards for the learning, development and care of children from birth to five years old. Drawn in particular to the personal, social and emotional development area of learning, Wendy has created a range of felt stars, each with a different facial expression, as a resource for other childminders. Unfortunately, arthritis stopped Wendy from sewing the stars herself, but a chance encounter with an OFSTED inspector and My Mood Stars fan prompted her to put the stars into production for retail and distribution. Non-verbal children, whether young or on the autism spectrum, can find it hard to convey how they feel. With My Mood Stars, kids can play games and engage in role play activities, while the tactile feel and portable size mean that the stars can be taken to school, to bed, or on outings. Playing with My Mood Stars also helps children develop empathy as they learn to understand and control their emotions. Created of velboa fabric, each star’s back is made of tricot, allowing them to stick to the complementary Hook board. Eight emotions are included– happy, sad, shy, scared, surprised, angry, silly, and sleepy – with the latter two having been of particular use to Wendy during her time as a childminder. My Mood Stars come presented in a clean and simple box, though the company is considering how to develop the packaging further for a retail setting. A complementary My Mood Stars website offers additional resources to download or buy, including the book My Mood Stars: How do you feel today?, available to purchase now. Parents and carers can also download the My Mood Stars Games to Play leaflet. My Mood Stars will be shown at Under 1 Roof this month, and at the Coventry Childcare Expo in September, where Wendy will be happy to speak with parents and retailers regarding the range.

Cartamundi 01268 511 522 | www.cartamundi.com Cartamundi’s Fundels range combines entertaining and colourful card games with themes like language, conceptual thinking and mathematics. Research shows that a person’s brain is 68% more active when they are having fun, so playing a game is an ideal opportunity to learn something new. With Fundels, children don’t even notice they’re developing new skill. The newest addition to the Fundels family, launching in July, is Clock Reading. With this game kids can learn to read the clock and tell the time, in both digital and analogue formats. As they turn the clock hands or use the app to tell the time they must compete to win the most cards – and all against the clock. Fundels Playing With Numbers lets children learn hundreds, tens and units of one in a quick and playful manner. This card game aims to improve a child’s ability to recognise the ranking of various different digits in a number, and will also teach them how to recognise and pronounce numbers from 0 to 999. Fundels also teaches children how to write their first words with their parents by their side. Learning how to read isn’t easy, and it can be extra challenging for some; that’s why all Fundels games use the dyslexia font, so everyone can easily read and understand the rules. Additionally, all games are aligned with the UK national curriculum and the packaging clearly shows which key stage the game is suited to. The colourful packaging fits every backpack and is designed to be easily recognisable.

Tomy 01271 336 155 | www.tomy.com

Fiesta Crafts 020 8804 0563 | www.fiestacrafts.co.uk

Tomy’s John Deere Johnny Tractor & Friends range features friendly characters, colour matching, numbers and shapes to help educate kids aged 12 months and upwards. Learn & Pop Johnny Tractor helps infants develop their handeye coordination and thinking skills. The tractor offers two ways to play with shapes, numbers and colours. When kids push the chunky tractor, the differently shaped and numbered pieces will pop off of the wheels, bonnet and roof, ready to be placed back in the correct location. This activity helps children increase their knowledge of cause and effect, critical thinking and number and shape recognition.

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Fiesta Crafts’ range of Magnetic Charts help make learning fun. Whether it’s Times Tables, First Words, French Words, or learning how to Tell the Time, each Magnetic Chart provides an element of interaction and allows children to go at their own pace with abilityappropriate activities.

Educational Toys

Puzzles and Play 01354 669 733 | www.puzzlesandplay.co.uk Creative Educational Aids has been producing educational fun games for developing minds for the past 25 years. Its catalogue includes a library of games for early years, pre-school years, school age, and games for the whole family to play and enjoy together. Each game is aimed at developing a key area of development; such as literacy, numeracy, science, etc., combining fun and learning with games and activities. Particular highlights are the game gift packs. Each of the three gift packs contains a mix of books, puzzles, board games, colouring books, and much more.

Brainstorm 01200 445 113 | www.brainstormltd.co.uk The Outdoor Adventure range from Brainstorm helps children of all ages learn about nature and extends their learning opportunities outside of the home or classroom. The powerful Outdoor Adventure Magnifier is new for 2018, and is chunky for children’s hands to get a grip on. It contains three levels of magnification, making it ideal for outdoor exploration and discovery. The Outdoor Adventure collection also features Binoculars, a Microscope and a Night Vision Torch.



Having Fun with Chicco Toy World spoke to Holly John, marketing manager at Chicco, about the company’s range of educational toys, its latest products from across the toy portfolio, and the marketing plans in place to support them in the retail space. Firstly, how have your educational toy ranges performed over the past 12 months? Chicco’s educational preschool toy offering continues to perform successfully year on year thanks to its multifunctional capabilities. It has been a very successful start of the year for Chicco toys, and this can largely be attributed to impressive sales of our core preschool active play range, including the bestselling Goal League football toy, as well as our toys that help develop bilingual skills. This is of particular significance given the uncertainties faced by the toy industry as a whole throughout 2017. It was a challenging year for the sector, with overall endof-year figures indicating a 3% downturn in revenue – a significant drop when compared with 2016’s increase of 6.1%.

What are parents looking for from educational toys in today’s market? For a long time, toys that develop numeracy and literacy skills have been at the forefront of the educational toy market, and this is a trend that is set to continue. In recent years, parents have become increasingly interested in teaching their children more than one language right from their first words, resulting in a surge in toys that aid bilingual skills. As an Italian company ourselves, we recognise this need and have created innovative pre-school toys to help children’s development and bilingual skills, getting little ones off to the best start.

What are your best performing educational toys?

What are your latest developments for the educational toy market?

Our range of bilingual products such as Sam the Mole – which helps teach little ones the alphabet, numbers, colours and shapes in a range of languages – continues to be popular. Much more than just a traditional shape-sorter toy, once all shapes have been placed into the correct slot, Sam will pop up to congratulate the child, and the game will begin again. It also features a 1-23 button, which will teach children numbers in both French and English, and an ABC button which teaches children letters in both languages too. With over 30 songs and words in both languages, Sam the Mole is the perfect toy to get any child started on their journey to learning new languages.

Later this year we will be launching our new range in collaboration with Ferrari, designed to help boost cognitive skills.

However, it is our Fit & Fun range where we have really noticed recent growth in sales. Joint play has always been incredibly popular in children’s toys, whether it is an activity that parents can take part in with their little one or a game intended to be played among friends. Our Fit & Fun range has been designed for just this and encourages social skills and well as cognitive skills. Offering a variety of toys based on some of the best-loved British sports – including football, basketball, hopscotch and hoopla – the Fit & Fun range can be used both indoors and outdoors to encourage active play, making it perfect all year round. Learning through sport is a great way to develop skills in teamwork, accuracy, strength, agility and perseverance.

However, we’ve started to see parents moving away from these traditional toys and are now looking at how playtime can help develop their child’s physical and cognitive skills, such as aim and precision. At Chicco, we understand the importance of using toys to encourage development in pre-school children, and a great way to do this is through active play, which is reflected in the expansion of our Fit & Fun range and the introduction of our Ferrari licensed products.

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Any budding car enthusiast will love the new Ferrari Formula 1 RC, inspired by the Vettel F1 2017 vehicle. In an industry first, this new addition is the first remotecontrolled car with pre-

determined racing paths and additional ‘try-me’ features. Players begin the race at the start line and follow one of three paths using the four-directional remote control. With exciting and realistic Formula 1 sound effects, kids will be transported to race day every time they play. For added realism, the remote-control wheel is inspired by the Vettel F1 2017 steering wheel.

What marketing activity are you planning for the second half? Our Fit & Fun range is based around a number of popular sports, and during the summer we will be running a number of integrated marketing campaigns to support the range. This includes in-store displays, which have already been implemented at key retailers and will showcase three of our most popular Fit & Fun toys: Goal League, Jump N Fit play mat and Mister Ring and Basket League. To support this, we plan to run a social media campaign on our Facebook page tied in to key sporting events throughout the summer giving consumers the opportunity to win the toys, and promoting the fun of active play, particularly during school holidays. The competition will be supported by significant investment in targeted social media advertising.



National Curriculum approved & Dyslexia Friendly Text Phone: 01268 511522

Email: Info.UK@cartamundi.com

In stores from Jan uary!


Tech Toys and Gadgets

Powered up Tech Toys and Gadgets represents an increasingly broad category, with the range of products on offer expanding as new developments in technology are assimilated into toy products. Casey Goodman looks at the latest trends for 2018.


echnology and electronics has become a firmly established part of the toy industry, and in direct response to the evolving toy market, the 70th anniversary Spielwarenmesse show will

see the introduction of a product group dedicated solely to Electronic Toys. This latest move means that innovative products from this pioneering segment will be exhibited in a dedicated area for the first time. Looking at the Tech Toys category, one of the areas which continues to show significant growth is robotics. This year sees a number of toy companies introducing robotic products packed with interactive features, which crucially are hitting more affordable price points than some of their predecessors. For example, Character Options has just launched the new Rad Robots range, while Spin Master’s Boxer has already featured on the Argos list of top toys for Christmas. There is a perception that Tech Toys are mostly purchased around Christmas. Worlds Apart’s head of brand and marketing, Logan Stone, offers the following advice on how to maintain sales throughout the year: “While Christmas is the key sales period, it’s important not to discount birthdays. Parents spend around £165 on birthday presents for their child, and currently tech toys are often top of children’s wish lists. Appealing to the birthday gift purchaser is a good way to influence sales year-round, rather than just at Christmas. Social media is a really important part of our overall marketing mix and it’s the primary channel we use for marketing to parents, grandparents and gift givers.

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We have seen considerable uplifts in sales when advertising on social media and the ROI versus the relatively low cost makes it a staple for influencing sales year-round.” Of course, year-round sales become more achievable when price points are pitched at a more competitive level. While many tech items inevitably continue to command higher prices, the past year has seen huge success for competitivelypriced tech lines, none more so than WowWee’s Fingerlings. The range is distributed in the UK by Jazwares, whose MD Johnny Taylor explains: “Product innovation is the key to success right now. Fingerlings is a perfect example of this; the range offers a huge amount of tech, play value and emotional interaction at a very sharp price point.” The launch of Fingerlings Untamed at Easter has extended the appeal of the range to boys, and with Series 3 launching in September, 2018 is set to be another strong year for the brand. Worlds Apart, which has enjoyed tremendous success with Selfie Mic and Spin to Sing over the past two years, is extending its tech offering in 2018 with Tube Superstars, which capitalises on the popularity of YouTube by allowing kids to emulate their YouTube heroes. Children can record and edit their own vlogs, in a completely child-safe way. The range launches this month and is expected to be another huge hit in the tech category for Worlds Apart. The Tech Toys category also encompasses a variety of non-toy lines which nevertheless offer toy retailers the opportunity to make incremental sales. One such example is children’s headphones - Chris Malone of OTL Technologies believes they represent a great opportunity for toy retailers: “Headphones as a category is a relatively simple product offer, retailers don’t need great technical knowledge to be able to sell them. The basic function is simple - to provide in-ear sound leaving the customer to make their purchase based on a simple selection criterion: price, brand, quality and performance. As the trend for tablet-based entertainment and learning steadily grows, so demand for headphones increases. “Our range of children’s headphones has an extremely low-return rate, which can sometimes be an issue with certain tech products. We carry domestic stock and we’ve signed some of the hottest licences in the market, including LOL! Surprise, Harry Potter and Pokémon, so our headphones will sit comfortably alongside the toy ranges in-store and be hugely popular with kids of all ages.” Over the next few pages, Toy World presents a range of the latest products in the Tech Toys and Gadgets category.

Tech Toys and Gadgets

Vivid 01483 Imaginations 449 944 | www.vividtoysandgames.co.uk Taking the US by storm in 2017, Skyrocket Toys’ Recoil became one of the top tech toys of last year and is due to arrive in the UK summer 2018. Receiving a lot of media attention at this years’ London Toy Fair, Recoil revolutionises the way kids play, turning any indoor or outdoor space into a digitally-enhanced, multiplayer battlefield. Using in-ear surround sound, haptic response weaponry, and smartphone integrated gameplay, players are able to spawn into the middle of the most immersive battlefield they have ever experienced. Players compete in teams and can view their scores through the Recoil Game app. Using a Wi-Fi hub that broadcasts a 500-foot diameter “playing field,” up to 16 players have lots of space to play using guns that attach to a phone for an augmented-reality experience. The basic Recoil starter set includes two RK-45 Spitfire guns, a Wi-Fi base station and two phone mounts. To activate, children simply download the free Recoil game app from the App Store or Google Play Store. Using 3D positional audio, real-time player status updates and an interactive in-app mini map, Recoil is the most realistic gaming experience around. Taking the Laser Tag concept to a whole new digital level, additional Recoil sets coming later in the year will include Recoil Starter Set Spitfire Pistol and Rogue Assault Rifle. Vivid continues to extend its distribution partnership with Sky Rocket Toys for 2018 with the multi award winning Sky Viper range of products, currently the Number 1 Drone and Flying RC brand in the US. Sky Viper Fury Stunt Drone features easy one-touch stunt controls and performs up to eight different stunts with all-new flight assist features for auto-take off, hover and land. Vivid continues to develop its VRSE distributor range for 2018 to include hit licences Batman and Jurassic World. Users play as first person in themed VR worlds via the all-in-one VR system containing headset, games controller, themed game controller cover plus free software download.

Bandai 0208 324 6160 | www.bandai.co.uk

Liberty House Toys 0330 111 6938 | www.libertyhousetoys.co.uk

Two very different technical pets, plus a flame throwing TV hero join the tech toys line up for Bandai in 2018. The iconic handheld Tamagotchi returned in late 2017 and Wave 1 achieved sell-out success; now Tamagotchi Wave 2 incorporates all the best-loved features from the original, plus new styles originating from 20 years ago. Capitalising on the trend for 90s nostalgia but adding a modern twist, this new breed of Tamagotchi is chibi size, making the virtual pet even more portable. With each colourway housing a different pet to collect, this new era of Tamagotchi presents the ultimate retail opportunity, combining retro chic, collectability, tech and a pocket money price point. Another virtual pet brand with real tech appeal is Pomsies; wearable virtual pets which react to touch and sound and have over 30 interactions. Children can twist and lock their Pomsies around anything for a fashion accessory. Much more than simply an adornment, Pomsies are also highly interactive and will tell children when they are happy, sleepy, cold, playful or hungry by the way they react, the sounds they make or as their eyes light up in different colours. Plus, they really do purr. The Big Hero 6 TV series launched in February and now fans will be able to enjoy Baymax as a fun tech toy. Flying and Flame Baymax is packed with features, with automatic wings, rocket fists, motion sensor sounds and phrases, and flame blasts from its feet.

3DUPlay is the fun and exciting new play mat range that is making new waves in the toy world. The first of its type in the world, the mat revolutionises traditional play time by featuring the latest in tech gaming – Augmented Reality. Compatible with both Apple and Android, parents can simply download the free partner app, then point, focus and play. 3DUPlay is a great gateway into this new world of software and gets children associated with gadgets from a young age in a meaningful way. Great for encouraging independent play, the 3DU playmat also acts as a great educational tool, providing hours of fun and learning. The mats come in three fun designs ideal for keeping all children entertained regardless of their personalities and interests. The Zoo mat allows children to meet a wide range of exotic animals, visit their enclosures and feed them. The Dino version takes children back to a time before man. Children can simply point, tap to focus and the dinosaurs will appear ready to roar. The City play mat may look like a traditional road mat but included within the App are eight individual mini games for children to interact with. In addition, there are tons of fun features that come with each mat.

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Tech Toys and Gadgets

Wilton Bradley 01626 835 400 | www.wiltonbradley.com

Spin Master 01628 535 000 | www.spinmastertoys.co.uk Spin Master continues to drive tech innovation in its portfolio with latest launch, Boxer; an interactive AI robot who is jam packed with technology, games and even a personality. Boxer comes to life right out of the box, with no assembly required. Boasting a variety of features and interactive elements, Boxer has a lively personality with dynamic moods that evolve over time. As kids - and ‘kidults’ - play with this e-bot, they’ll get to know his quirky personality. Sometimes happy, sad, grumpy, or even sleepy, Boxer displays a full range of emotion. He also offers extensive play value with 10 included activity cards, an interactive ball accessory to play a fast-paced game of football and an IR remote control, as well as interactivity through gesture, sound, and touch controls. Tech fans can place one of the cards in front of Boxer, let him roll over the card to scan it and watch the fun begin. Games like Bot Bowling, Paddle Bot and Go Kart can be enjoyed, or the remote control can be used to race Boxer around and make him perform tricks. Equipped with multiple IR sensors, a rechargeable battery and more tech features, Boxer responds to hand movements and interacts in a variety of silly ways. Also elevating the tech offering from Spin Master this summer is the latest launch from Air Hogs. The new Air Hogs Supernova! is a hand-controlled gravity-defying orb engineered to give unlimited thrills. It can be launched, pushed and spun, using just the hands - no remote control or touching needed. Equipped with an intelligent on-board system and motionsensitive lights and sensors, the Air Hogs Supernova responds to every movement. Both new launches will be supported by extensive TV advertising, heavy-weight influencer campaigns and PR outreach targeting high profile tech, ‘kidult’ and kid audiences. The products are suitable for children aged 8+.

Wilton Bradley has joined forces with FremantleMedia to manufacture and supply a range of karaoke microphones, machines, headphones and speakers under licence for The X Factor in the UK. Building on the success of its award-winning range of Mi-Mic microphone speakers, the agreement will see Wilton Bradley deliver an innovative range of music products under The X Factor brand over the next three years. As the programming comes back onstream around the end of August, the brand is perfectly positioned for Q4. New products include the X Factor XF1 and XF2. The XF1 a microphone speaker which has Bluetooth connectivity and enhances any singing performance. This cost-effective option has a high spec including an echo function, speaker stand, play/pause, skip forward and back and will run for up to three hours without a charge. The XF1 is branded with the black and red X Factor logo and has flashing LED lights on the base. The X Factor XF2 is a sophisticated microphone speaker which includes voice changing modes, echo function and a micro SD/USB Charging/ USB Port. The X Factor logo wraps around the speaker box on the front of the microphone, turning it into a portable karaoke machine. Joining the existing Mi-Mic range in black, pink and silver are the Mi-Mic Zebra in sixties psychedelic stripes and Mi Mic Camo in blue camouflage design. The Mi Mic Retro speaker resembles an old BBC square microphone in pewter.

GP Flair 0208 643 0320 | www.flairplc.co.uk GP Flair is to reintroduce to the market one of the smartest and most popular handheld tech games when 20Q relaunches for its 30th anniversary this autumn. 20Q is the ultimate tech toy and game that, through its in-built algorithms, always knows what children are thinking. The concept is simple, think of something and then let 20Q guess what it is; it’s practically guaranteed that it will succeed in doing so in less that its allotted 20 questions. For those that loved the original, 2018’s 20Q is smarter than ever and comes with a new ergonomic design that makes playing it even easier. Players can use it solo, testing it against whatever object they can think of, or outwit and amaze their friends as, with 20Qs help, they read their minds. New 20Q will be launched with a full marketing schedule including TV advertising, sampling and influencer activity.

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Tech Toys and Gadgets

Character Options 01616 339 800 | www.character-online.com

Worlds Apart 0845 602 2119 | www.worldsapart.com Capitalising on the popularity of YouTube, Tube Superstar is the allin-one vlogging toy that lets kids role-play being a YouTuber. Children can record and edit their own vlogs, just like their favourite channels, creating content and editing live. Whether they’re a budding unboxer, or love to take on challenges, Tube Superstar has everything needed to create video content in the style of YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat, but in a completely child-safe way. Tube Superstar includes a microphone to capture audio, a stand for hands-free vlogging, selfie stick for recording on-the-go, and an exclusive app featuring over 50 filters, animations and editing effects. The unique microphone with QR reader controls how children edit their video as they record. Children can simply twist to change the code and the app will apply effects, filters and stickers. The Tube Superstar app features three video modes inspired by popular channel themes: Challenge Mode, ‘How-To’ Mode and Performance Mode. Each mode features its own set of unique backgrounds, stickers, animations and editing effects, so whether children are recording a tutorial, unboxing video, or ‘Invisible Step Challenge’, their vlogs will look amazing. Once they have recorded and edited, they can save their videos to their phone and watch them back. Tube Superstar will launch in the UK from the end of June with an integrated marketing campaign including TV advertising, influencer activity, digital advertising and social media marketing.

Character Options sees a new tech brand enter its portfolio this autumn: The Really Rad Robots. The collectible range is packed with attitude and comes with great features at affordable price points. Built especially for fun and mischief, the robots have personalities that children will love, with none of the boring bits. First to enter the scene in August is YakBot, a back-chatting toy that records a child’s voice and will warp it right back at them. This free rolling character comes in three styles and personalities and loves to plays pranks. He also has all the answers and will reply to any question - if somewhat randomly. Mid-autumn will see YakBot joined by MiBro. MiBro is full of smart talking phrases and over 20 sounds and is here to serve. Remote controlled, he can spy, listen and even talk for children. With a range of accessories that need practice to master, children can instruct their new electronic assistant to blast away their enemies, or to fetch and carry their things. These are just the first Really Rad Robots, a line that will benefit from a multi-level marketing campaign this autumn, including a full season TV campaign, high profile activity in the kids’ press, PopJam support, plus a branded digital campaign and pre-roll seeding of fun Really Rad short cuts.

Jazwares 020 3598 5119 | www.jazwares.com Untamed from WowWee and Jazwares are fierce and unpredictable and know their friends from their foes. In untamed mode, they roar, hiss and chomp. In tame mode they nuzzle, purr and enjoy company. Complete with snapping jaws and gripping claws, the interactive dinosaurs react to sound, motion, and touch with over 40 different sounds and animations. Untamed Raptors launched in spring and the new Untamed T-Rex will be available from summer 2018. Distributed by Jazwares, Untamed will be launched with highlevel global marketing support, including top level YouTube influencer videos, TV campaigns and global PR campaign, including UK specific activity securing reviews, features and social media support. Jazwares is also introducing Fingerlings Hugs, whose long arms are perfect for hugs. Children can swing them, pet them, and rock them to sleep. Children can also record what they say and watch them repeat it in funny ways, then throw them in the air to hear an amusing remix. Building on the tremendous success of the Fingerlings brand, Jazwares is launching the next wave in 2019. A new line of Fingerlings creatures, including unicorns and two-tone monkeys, is available for spring. From summer onwards, the range will be expanded with playsets, and new Fingerlings will be added to the range, ready to capture the hearts of the growing Fingerlings fan base.

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The classic playmat combined with the latest technology in one fun toy! New to the toy market! The first of its type in the world, the mat revolutionises traditional play time by featuring the latest in tech gaming – Augmented reality! Compatible with both Apple and Android, simply head to the App store and download the free partner App. Then point, focus and play! The mats come in 3 fun designs ideal for keeping all children entertained regardless of their personalities and interests. Pick from the Zoo, Dino or City mat and the tons of fun features that comes with each mat, creating hours of play value.


Fun 3D characters

Playmats that come to life! Please call or email for more information


Tel: 0330 1116939 Email: enquiries@libertyhousetoys.co.uk

Tech Toys and Gadgets

Hasbro 0208 569 1234 | www.hasbro.co.uk This autumn, Hasbro’s FurReal Friends brand has introduced three interactive pets, with Ricky the Trick-Lovin’ Pup, the hilarious dino Munchin’ Rex and Rock-aToo, the Show Bird; all with a wealth of sound and motion combinations for kids to play and imagine with. Ricky, the Trick-Lovin’ Pup is the ultimate companion, with more than 100 sound and motion combinations that allow him to perform tricks and amaze everyone watching him. He can balance his bone toy on his nose and, with a voice command, flip it into his mouth. He can also raise his paw for a handshake if children reach for it. Ricky is full of surprises and affection, and when excited he’ll shuffle his paws and bark, as well as give doggie licks, for which he can be rewarded with the included dog treat. The FurReal Munchin’ Rex toy is a dinosaur with quite an appetite. Munchin’ Rex will slurp on his bottle but will either chomp on his treats or try to spit them out. With more than 35 sound-and-motion combinations and habitat sounds, the dinosaur responds to being petted, waved at and fed with reactions including roars and bounces. FurReal Rock-a-Too, the Show Bird pet has three modes of play and can sing, dance, tell jokes and do impressions. Kids can sing and dance along with him. Rocka-Too can repeat phrases in his own voice and even incorporate them musically into songs. With 50+ sound-and-motion combinations, when petted and praised, Rocka-Too will give a loveable response. With many activation points that make him move, the Rock-a-Too can shimmy and shake his head, body, wings and frill, as well as open and close his mouth.

Learning Resources 01553 819 380 | www.LearningResources.co.uk Botley was new to Learning Resources this year but the engaging coding robot has made quite a name for itself having been awarded London Toy Fair Hero and featuring on BBC Breakfast television. Botley is the fun friendly way for children as young as five to learn coding and, unlike most coding robots aimed at older kids, is entirely screen-free, with no tablets or smartphones required. Ready to use straight out of the box, Botley is the only robot on the market that comes with a full activity set, allowing children to create obstacle courses for endless hours of coding fun. Botley also grows with the child. They can start with basic coding commands and as their skills grow can try more advanced coding challenges, meaning older kids can enjoy Botley too. There are many features to discover, including black line following and smart logic to detect objects (and avoid them). Botley makes playful sounds and has hidden features to discover. As well as the full Botley Coding Robot Activity Set, individual Botleys are also available. Botley is supported by a targeted marketing campaign including digital and social media, bloggers, YouTube advertising and instore marketing resources.

OTL Technologies 07785 281 200 | www.otltechnologies.com OTL is Europe’s leading licensed headphones manufacturer. OTL offers a range of popular licensed character headphones to suit all ages from three years to adults. Using the latest 3D print technology and exclusive tooling, it creates unique models that ensure a comfortable fit and sound experience suitable for all ages. OTL holds licences for many of the world’s leading character brands, including Harry Potter, Pokémon, Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, WWE, Peppa Pig, Hello Kitty and the recently signed sensation L.O.L Surprise!. The company offers over 60 models of headphones in its 2018 product line up. Designed in London and manufactured in China, working with SEDEX and Disney approved factories, all products are safety tested by SGS to comply with European legislation. Orders may be placed on a FOB basis and OTL can offer exclusivity on selected designs, for customers able to meet the MOQ of 2,000 units. The company works closely with its retail partners to monitor sales and stock availability, and holds significant stock quantities in a UK warehouse, to ensure it maintains continuous supply to meet demand.

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NEW 2018 FOR A/W


















Tech Toys and Gadgets

Tomy 01392 281 928 | www.tomy.com

VTech 01235 546 810 | www.vtech.co.uk

Trends UK 01295 768 078 |

Tomy has unveiled two brand new collections perfect for the tech toy, gadget and accessories market. Technology fans will love Soccerborg, the new football 2018 sees the introduction of the latest additions to the Kidizoom themed game experience. Soccerborg combines all range. The Kidizoom Smart Watch DX2 is the successor of the popular the competition and thrill of the beautiful game with Smart Watch DX. Featuring a new sleek and stylish design, the DX2 has innovative robotic technology. Just in time for the World a second camera located on the face of the watch. This, paired with Cup, Soccerborg arrives as football fever is set to sweep the the existing side camera, allows the wearer to capture everything from nation. Tomy will promote the brand with a strong digital action videos to selfies, which can then be customised with frames and and social media advertising campaign. effects. Also new from Tomy is KiiPix, an innovative With built-in and customisable digital and analogue watch faces and smartphone printer that instantly prints favourite photos a Time Master app, the watch is educational as well as fun. There are straight from a smartphone new innovative games such as Monster Detector, an augmented reality to create lasting memories. adventure that encourages children to explore, find and catalogue KiiPix prints instant retro hidden monsters in the real world. Children can also use the watch’s style images and does motion sensor for active play challenges or to track their activities and not require batteries, an movements, which keeps them on the go. app or Wi-Fi to use. Users A brand-new enhancement to the Kidizoom camera is also making simply open up the an appearance this autumn/winter; the Kidizoom Duo 5.0. With an device, place the all-new design and an updated 5-megapixel dual lens camera, kids smartphone can take photos or videos of themselves or with their friends. The two on top, press lenses can be swapped at the touch the button of a button. and rotate The range is also introducing the dial the Kidi Concert – an easy to use, to print portable Bluetooth speaker out the photo. Tomy will support designed especially for kids. KiiPix with a 360º strong marketing campaign, including TV, cinema, digital and social media, as well as being present at experiential consumer events and working with tactical influencers.

www.trendsuk.co.uk Trends UK is introducing the new Guardian Bot into the Xtrem Bots range in the UK. With up to 20 different functions, a spy function and 50 programmable actions, the new Guardian Bot also has an ultrasonic detector that will alert the owner to the presence of intruders. Launched in the UK in 2017, the Xtrem Bots have proved very successful with their traditional robot play features. The Xtrem Bots are operated with a remote control or hand gestures. Animated/LED facial expressions show the personality and moods of the robots. Easy to have fun with straight out of the box, they also have more advanced programmable features ensuring there is longevity of play. The Xtrem Bots offer value for money at affordable price points, ranging from around £30 to £60 at retail. Also available is the VR Real Feel Alien Blaster, where it’s up to children to save earth from the impending invasion. The Bluetooth blaster has five different levels, eight different alien classes, and four different weapons with powerups, to battle attacking aliens in VR. The blaster works with an iPhone or Android smartphone for 3D HD graphics, and comes with everything needed; a VR headset, a free iOS/Android app and Bluetooth for great control.

Zuru 01604 401 719 | www.zuru.com Zuru’s Robo Alive brings dinosaurs and spiders to life. Zuru has unveiled two new additions to its Robo Alive portfolio. Utilising pioneering robotic technology, the Attacking T-Rex and Crawling Spider join the company’s tech toys offering. Based on real-life creatures,the Robo Alive brand currently includes best-seller Robofish, followed more recently by snakes and lizards. Using robotic enhanced motion sensors, Zuru’s design team used extensive research to create realistic characteristics while retaining an affordable option within the tech toys market. Robo Alive’s Attacking T-Rex walks like the real thing, is available in two colours and opens its mouth to roar and bite; fundamental features reminiscent of one of the most wellknown dinosaurs. The new Robo Alive Crawling Spider also scurries realistically and includes the authentic colourings and markings of a Black Widow. The Robo Alive brand includes three categories; Real Life Robotic Pets, Cute-Seas and Junior. The varying strands target demand for realistic, fantasy and pre-school bath-time robotic play, and offer additional digital play value by allowing children to bring their toy characters to life via roboalive.com.

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hello i’m

think outside the box! Ahhhhhhh, Weeowoo...

enormous play, tiny robot APP available


Launching July 2018 Full marketing support



Each month Fresh sets out to find the latest products that will have toy retailers reaching for the phone. In July we have new releases from: Alpha Animation & Toys, Hape/Marbel, MGA, Rainbow Designs, Rollplay, Spin Master and Topps

Ready2Robot MGA Entertainment 0845 0533 333 | www.mgae.com MGA Entertainment introduces Ready2Robot as it looks to replicate the success of the No. 1 girls' property, L.O.L. Surprise!, in the boy’s collectible market. The new collectible line combines the fun and intrigue of mystery blind packs with robots, battling and slime. With 10 battle parts to unbox from five secret chambers, each pack lets kids create one of 19 mechbot figures with their own personality and pilot. The pilot can be discovered in the slime capsule, and there is also one rare chase figure to hunt down. Once built, the mechbots and pilots can be mixed and matched, for thousands of customisable combinations. This year’s line includes Bot Brawlers, Battle Packs, Bot Blasters and Pilot Packs. MGA has invested heavily in content, producing a series of 12 battle episodes to communicate character personalities, encourage imagination for battle, and visualise the slime element of the product. The video content is available online across the brand’s global website and YouTube channel (@Ready2Robot). Ready2Robot will be launched with a heavy influencer strategy, creating engaging narrative by tapping into trends such as slime, pranks and unboxing. The brand will also have a presence across several UK events, and be supported with digital media throughout the season.

Party Popteenies Spin Master 01628 535 000 | www.spinmastertoys.co.uk Spin Master has launched a new line of collectible dolls and accessories, Party Popteenies. Four party-themed toys are available to choose from, in packaging designed to look like party favours and gift boxes. The Surprise Popper unleashes a burst of collectible confetti. There are three different party themes to pop, including Rainbow Unicorn, Cutie Animal and Winter Wonderland. Each doll features dazzling outfits to put their own fun spin on their party theme. The Double Surprise Popper offers twice the excitement with surprises including mini and deluxe party accessories and an exclusive Party Popteenie. With one of three possible party squads to collect, kids could pop a Rainbow Unicorn, Cutie Animal or Winter Wonderland Popteenie. Each Double Popper includes themed stickers and chip décor. Wrapped like a gift, the Party Surprise Box Playset has a small window revealing a Popteenie beside her mini-confetti popper. When kids unwrap their playset they’ll discover treats and party essentials. Decked out with streamers and balloons, flipping over the package will create a dance floor, and a sticker sheet is included to add finishing touches to the décor. Finally, kids can unwrap the Poptastic Party Playset, featuring a spinning dance floor, photo booth, banquet room and an elevator. A surprise doll is included along with three surprise gifts to unwrap. Three different backgrounds and props are also included.

Terra-Sect Alpha Animation & Toys 01293 804 599 | www.auldeytoys.us Terra-Sect, the innovative new RC toy from Alpha Animation & Toys, highlights the company’s ability to develop and produce cutting-edge, innovative toys. Terra Sect is completely unstoppable, it rolls, flips and crawls in any direction. It’s easy to manoeuvre over varying elevations with stable all-terrain navigation. Terra-Sect will slink and slither stealthily along the ground, then once activated the relentless rolling attack mode kicks in. Players can watch as Terra-Sect coils and rolls to take down its target. Terra-Sect includes a 2.4 Ghz controller with up to 150’ range for indoor and outdoor use.

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WWE Slam Attax Cards Topps 0330 1232559 | click@clickdistributionuk.com

Paddington Bear Classic and 60th Anniversary ranges Rainbow Designs 01329 227 300 | www.rainbowdesigns.co.uk The new Paddington Bear Classic range from Rainbow Designs features a range of gifts for enthusiasts and fans of the late Michael Bond’s best-selling storybook character. The new Classic collection includes the premium Large Classic Paddington Bear with Boots and Suitcase, the Classic Cuddly Paddington Bear, and the Classic Paddington Bear in a Union flag-designed bag. Also available are the Classic Bean Toy Paddington and the Classic Paddington Key Chains. A Bear Called Paddington was first published in 1958, and 2018 marks the 60th Anniversary of the story. To commemorate the occasion, Rainbow Designs has created two special edition Paddington Bears, inspired by Peggy Fortnum’s original illustrations and featuring special anniversary artwork. Rainbow’s Commemorative Paddington Bear in 60th Anniversary Gift Box is a premium quality Paddington wearing his real wellington boots, duffel coat and bush hat, presented in a special edition gift box with a gold foil anniversary logo. Collectors and Paddington Bear enthusiasts can also celebrate the milestone with the new Large Cuddly Anniversary Paddington Bear with Scarf. This premium quality Paddington Bear plush sports a checked scarf and is both cuddly enough to appeal to young Paddington fans and stylish enough to look the part on a collector’s shelf.

Toddler Railway range Hape/Marbel 08456 000 286 | www.marbel.co.uk Suitable for 18 months and over, the new Hape Toddler Railway range features whimsical designs and brightly coloured prints that let children embark on a jungle, forest or musical adventure. Created to replicate imaginative new worlds, each set offers interactive elements to stimulate a child’s sense of sight, touch and hearing. The Jungle Adventure Railway Table allows children to explore the jungle and its surroundings. Kids can drive the train through the arches and around the bend on this child-sized play table, watching out for cheeky monkeys and swooping birds as they go. With the Nutty Squirrel Railway, kids place the squirrel at the top of the tree and watch him cross a series of ramps, ringing the bell as he crosses the finish line, while the Music and Monkey’s Railway offers musical entertainment as the jungle train crosses the xylophone track. Monkeys pop up to give kids a surprise as they pass by the bushes.

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Topps is set to launch the latest series of WWE Slam Attax cards on 19th July. The new collection is titled Slam Attax Live and is bigger and better than ever. Slam Attax live brings fans closer to the excitement of WWE with new card designs showcasing action images of top Superstars like Roman Reigns, AJ Styles, Asuka and Charlotte Flair. Champion, Rivalries and 25 years of Raw subsets complete the collection, which is ideal for WWE fans of all ages. Memorabilia cards featuring ring mats from Wrestlemania 33 plus worn t-shirts from John Cena can also be found in lucky packets, whilst a guaranteed memorabilia card can be found in the Slam Attax Live Mega Tin. The Slam Attax range includes individual packets, starter packs, multipacks, mini tins and mega tins and will be supported with a national newspaper campaign and extensive sampling activities.

Nighthawk Rollplay 07986 971 902 | www.rollplay.net Rollplay has revealed Nighthawk – a new addition to its ride-on portfolio. The sit, slide and glide ride for preteens is available from autumn 2018. With its leading-edge design creating a new sub-segment of rideon toys, kids can glide through curves and feel the control of the Rollplay Nighthawk as they learn how to master the unique riding action. Riders steer the Nighthawk by leaning into the curve, while gas and brake pedals allow variable speed control. Handlebars placed on either side of the seat protect hands and offer complete control, and there’s a rear flag for safety. With a two metre turning radius, Nighthawk runs at a max speed of 12 km/h for kids six years plus. The 12V battery is quickly rechargeable overnight and has a run time of approximately 90 minutes Nighthawk will be supported in the UK by a heavyweight marketing and in store campaign, which will focus on the build-up to Christmas.

Special feature

Melissa Symonds

Director UK Toys, EuroToys NPD

What Toys R Us closing means to the U.K. toy industry


oys R Us officially announced it was customers who purchased at Toys R Us during the third were saving for a later occasion. entering the administration process nine-week liquidation sale purchased five toys on Overall, 65% of buyers were purchasing to give in the UK on 28th February 2018 and average and spent £100 each, with many offering immediately, and the remainder were waiting for while it may not have been a surprise, testimonials of purchasing much more. There was later in the year. Assuming that these advance given the previous six months of a significant uplift in consumers going to Toys R Us purchases would have been made later at the stories regarding the retailer’s behind the scenes during that period, compared to the same period same value as consumers paid in Toys R Us, NPD struggles, it was still a big blow to the market. As last year, especially at the start when there were estimates that £28M or 0.9 % of annual sales have one of the most prominent speciality toy stores more products available and more stores open. been brought forward. This means that toy sales in the UK, Toys R Us was a household name and Overall, only 62% of shoppers during the Toys later in the year could be adversely affected by the instantly recognisable by consumers. Based on R Us sale period said they would have purchased Toys R Us liquidation sale. and even with Toys R NPD’s Consumer Tracking data, in 2017, Toys R a toy from Toys R Us in that period anyway. The Us closed, the remaining toy retailers may find the Us was still the number two toy retailer in the UK number of buyers that switched from another pick-up slow at first. Luckily, by the all-important market. However, sales for Toys R Us had remained retailer to purchase a toy from Toys R Us was Q4 period, the purchases made for future gift flat since 2009, while the total UK market had 17%. This would impact other retailers’ sales at giving would account for only 0.7 % of total Q4 grown an average of 4% per year. The demise of the time by an estimated -2% in value during this sales. This calculation assumes that consumers TRU brings with it one of the biggest losses of floor two-month period. Meanwhile, 21% of Toys R Us haven’t given the toy away by then. space dedicated to the sale of toys; something to liquidation buyers would not have purchased a How will former Toys R Us shoppers purchase be mourned by all in the industry. The growth of toy at this time, but saw an opportunity to get a toys now that the stores have closed? Consumers toy sales online will not make up for the joy and bargain and made incremental purchases. claimed to have spent 36% of their toy value online excitement that a child experiences in a toy shop. These opportunistic buyers – both the switching in the last year, but plan to increase their online Luckily for our industry, liquidation sales don’t and incremental – were also more likely to spend to 44% in the next 12 months. While this happen very often; still, they can have an impact purchase for a later occasion, with nearly half is a significant increase in planned purchasing, on market performance throughout the course of of them purchasing to give at a later date. Of the consumers often forget how much of their toy the year, as consumers looking for a bargain tend regular Toys R Us shoppers (those who would have purchases are impulse-driven. Indeed, according to stock up for gifting throughout the course of the purchased from Toys R Us anyway), less than a to NPD’s Consumer data for 2017, 43% of occasion year. purchases (Christmas, The NPD Group, birthdays, etc.) are already recognising that purchased online, while this trading period 69% of no special occasion has the potential to or impulse purchases are impact the rest of made in-store. However, 21% of TRU clearance shoppers made pure incremental purchases the year, conducted the number of consumers a consumer survey thinking about online in the UK, to purchases is something that Would you have made the purchase if they were not going out of understand what toy retailers should be aware business? No, I would not impact Toys R Us’ of, positioning themselves have purchased liquidation had accordingly. 21% Pure l on consumers’ ta en em cr in immediate regular purchasing If you would like to know Yes, but from a patterns, as well as different retailer more, please contact Melissa Yes, and from TRU 17% their intentions for 62% Symonds, UK toys director at the rest of 2018. The switch Included some incremental Included some incremental purchases too purchases too The NPD Group: results make for an interesting read. melissa.symonds@npd.com Q7 Which one of the following best describes what you did/plan to do with the toy, game, or arts and crafts product(s) you purchased from Toys ‘R Us/Babies In total, 10% of ‘R Us since they announced they were closing? If more than one product purchased, please select the option that applies to most of your purchases

Toys R Us purchase during liquidation

Source: The NPD Group | Toys R Us liquidation shopper survey - UK D o cu m e n t classificatio n : C lie n t/Th ird Party C o n fid e n tial T h e N P D G ro u p , In c. | Pro p rie tary an d co n fid e n tial


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8 T 1 A 20 9 1 US IR 0 IT FA IR 2 IS V MN FA U Y UT TO A & Learn More / Request a Catalogue • Tel: 01626 835400 www.wiltonbradley.co.uk • Email: sales@wiltonbradley.co.uk


Dress-up & Role Play

Dress for success Dress Up and role-play forms an important part of childhood, allowing children to express their creativity and imagination. Casey Goodman finds out what the latest trends are.


hildren have always loved dressing up – it’s a fundamental play pattern which has been around for decades. These days, however, the category encompasses far more than just costumes. Rubie’s head of marketing & licensing Tracey Devine explains: “The dress up and party category continues to get more creative and innovative each day. Dress up crosses over to so many other categories nowadays, it is becoming a mix and match process. Children wearing costumes, or part of a costume, as their everyday clothing, sleep wear, etc. We love to start dressing up from an early age in the UK and I’m sure this trend will continue.” Pretend To Bee’s sales manager Kate Skitt believes that consumers are demanding a higher quality when choosing costumes: “Parents are looking for products that are safe and durable and so we are noticing a real uptake in our lines.” Smiffys’ senior trade marketing manager Sharon Poulter highlighted that costumes are not just for children: “Our in-house creative teams design hundreds of new and innovative products each year. With a key trend in 2018 being for costumes for all the family, we have a bright and vibrant family of clowns, complete with fun accessories, and many createyour-own party looks such as mix & match pirate accessories, from eye patches and hats to blouses with waist clincher belts.” Licensing continues to play a huge role in the development of products in the Dress Up category, and Tracey explains why she thinks that licences are so important. “We are lucky to work with so many amazing licensors; not only do we bring characters to life, it allows children to bring their imaginations alive through dress up and role-play. We have a lot to be excited about for 2018, including upcoming Disney movie The Incredibles 2, Marvels Ant-Man and the Wasp, Warner Brothers Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald, Hasbro’s Bumblebee, Nickelodeon’s Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, and the list could go on.” However, it’s not just films which provide characters that children want to dress up as. World Book Day is now the second biggest dress up event of the year in the UK after Halloween, and characters from books are still a popular choice for many children, as Sharon explains: “With World Book Day a firm fixture in the school calendar, children’s licensed dress-up is fundamental to the success of World Book Day for the party and toy industries.” As

a result, licences play an increasingly important part of Smiffys offering. As schools take advantage of the event to focus on literacy, dress-up plays an important role in making reading fun for school children. Popular dress-up characters born from established book titles range from Where’s Wally, Goosebumps and Horrible Histories to characters from the World of Walliams, Beatrix Potter and Enid Blyton. Enduringly popular, Roald Dahl’s infamous characters enjoy best-selling status on World Book Day, but remain in demand throughout the year. Roald Dahl Day, an annual event (13th September 2018) affords another opportunity to celebrate the renowned authors work and bring characters to life through dress-up, whilst raising money for his children’s charity.” Pretend To Bee has also seen an increase in sales around World Book Day, and Kate believes that it is a key period in the Dress Up category. She explains: “We always see a surge in sales in the run up to World Book Day across all of our ranges, as parents become more and more creative with the characters they dress their children as. We saw an 11% increase on last year thanks to new lines and a proactive marketing and social media marketing campaign prior to the event.” Rubie’s offers a range of products designed for World Book Day, as Tracey explains: “World Book Day is an amazing celebration that motivates children to read and be their favourite character for a fun day at school. Rubie’s book week classic costumes have stayed as popular as ever: Harry Potter, Horrid Henry, Marvel characters and Disney princes and princesses. We were contacted by a little girl on social media that loved her Rubie’s costume so much that she wrote her own book, so she could wear her costume. It is so heart-warming to see the love of dress-up motivating children to get more involved in reading and writing.” Another key part of the Dress Up category is the accessories which can be purchased as add-ons. These provide opportunities for retailers to create extra sales, and Tracey explains how sometimes the

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accessories can be just as important as the main costumes: “People love to make the costume their own by putting their own unique twist on things. Adding accessories only adds to their unique costumes. We pride ourselves on offering something for every budget – from the nonfancy dresser who just wants to accessorise to the hard core fan.” Kate also revealed that demand has been so high for accessories, that Pretend To Bee has added more of them to its range, with impulse price points to give added value. For example, the new Woodlands headbands complement the popular animal costume collection. Over the next few pages, Toy World presents a range of the latest products in the Dress Up category.

Fantastic range of role play costumes at Rubie’s. Call & quote “TW Cowboy” for more information.

@Rubies_UK @RubiesUK @rubies_uk @Rubies_EMEA

Call us on:

08453 070707 Browse the full range at


Dress-up & Role Play

Pioneer Europe 01279 501 090 | www.Qualatex.com

Rubie’s 08453 070 707 | www.rubiesuk.com Rubie’s produces fun and innovative costumes for kids and adults. It has a huge portfolio of officially licensed costumes including ranges from Warner Brothers, Disney, Marvel and Hasbro. Rubie’s continues to inspire imaginations with its extensive range of both licensed and generic costumes. Incredibles 2 has just opened in the US and has taken over $180m in the opening weekend at the box office. Rubie’s manufactures an Incredible range for the whole family. It has released a child’s unisex printed jumpsuit and a new Incredibles 2 Tutu dress, which both come with an eye mask. With the recent release of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and the popularity around dinosaurs continuing to grow, Rubie’s has extended its range of Dino costumes and masks, coming out in August. Rubie’s brand new Enchantimals range is full of vibrant colour to brighten up any occasion. It will be releasing dress up from the popular characters: Felicity Fox, Bree Bunny, Patter Peacock, Danessa Deer and Sage Skunk. All dresses come with a detachable tail and headpiece. Based on the hugely popular Vampirina TV programme, the company is releasing a costume based on the Vampirina dress, which comes with a headpiece and bat ears. Retailers should be mindful of the national days that appear throughout the calendar. As an example, National Cowboy Day is the 28th of July, and Rubie’s is offering cowboy and cowgirl t-shirts. These have printed-on features, from a neck rag to checks, waistcoat, a sheriff's badge and even a 10-gallon hat on the back.

Pioneer Europe has recently added to both its partyware and balloon categories with a host of ranges that are perfect to help celebrate in style this summer. Pioneer Partyware and Qualatex Balloons go hand in hand to create real impact. Focusing on a theme of tropical summer fun, the latest balloon releases include a large (39”) Potted Cactus foil shape, a giant (41”) Colourful Toucan shape and Radiant Rainbow, with complementary 18” round foils to match. The bright colours will add instant glamour to any party and bring a positive summer vibe to events. The new additions also work well with the company’s existing tropical themed balloons, such as the elegant Golden Pineapple and stylish Pink Flamingo, ensuring parties will have on-trend summer décor. New partyware lines are also on the way. The new Fashion collection has eight ranges including on-trend Llama, Safari & Cactus styles. Each collection includes table covers, invitations and envelopes, loot bags, triangle flag banners and partyware such as cups, paper plates and napkins. The clean, fresh look features striking imagery designed to appeal to a wide range of age groups.

GP Flair 0208 643 0320 | www.flairplc.co.uk Kids can turn into their favourite characters thanks to GP Flair/Just Play, with TV licensed role-play accessories. PJ Masks fans can transform into their favourite pyjama clad heroes with the highly detailed full-body Costume Sets that include a matching fabric mask. For the ultimate imaginary experience, children can add the PJ Masks Lights and Sounds Amulet featuring phrases from the show. Plastic sculpted masks of each hero are also available, perfect for fun on the go. Role-play and dress up toys also feature in Just Play’s Vampirina collection, inspired by the top-rated Disney Junior TV show. To make music, kids can choose from a light and sound Rock ‘n’ Ghoul Mic or the Spooktastic Spookylele. To dress up as Vampirina herself, there’s the Boxed Boo-Tiful Dress or Vampirina Headband and Gloves Set. Finally, new for autumn, the Vampirina Back Pack Set has a light and sound necklace, play bat shaped glasses, clip-on battails and more.

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Dress-up & Role Play

Smiffys 0330 333 8005 | www.smiffys.com As a leading manufacturer of fancy dress, Smiffys is the proud owner of the Smiffys, Fever and Time4Fun brands. With its National Accounts team supplying Private Label, Licensed and R H Smith branded ranges to large multiple retailers, the company delivers a whole party package of costumes and accessories, including wigs, make up, props and decorations. It strives to provide both excellent service and innovative products. The Smiffys collection is designed for dressing up and partying throughout the year; from carnivals and festivals through to World Book Day and Halloween, there’s a costume for every occasion. With World Book Day a firm fixture in the school calendar, Smiffys partners with licensors such as Roald Dahl. As official licensee for Roald Dahl dress up amongst many others, the company works collaboratively to ensure the collection is designed to inspire and excite the imagination. Costumes in the Roald Dahl collection include The BFG, James and The Giant Peach, Matilda, Veruca Salt, Violet Beauregarde and the Winning Wonka Bar. Smiffys takes product safety very seriously, with all children’s costumes exceeding the safety standards required by law and complying with both EN71 regulations and Nightwear (Flammability) Standards BS 5722.

Bandai 0208 324 6160 | www.bandai.co.uk

Vivid Imaginations 01483 449 944 |

With the popularity of Bandai’s Power Rangers collection reaching new heights, as the brand celebrates its 25th anniversary and the Super Ninja Steel line launches this month, kids can pretend to be their favourite Power Rangers hero with Bandai’s range of role-play items. The Morphin’ Blasters fire a Ninja Star when the green mega morph button is pressed, while the Ninja Lion Fire Blade extends to 60cms and includes battle lights and sounds. The gauntlet style Lion Fire Morpher fires a dart, has space to store two spare darts and includes a Power Up Lion Spinner and Ninja Sounds to complete the Power Rangers adventure. The role-play experience will be enhanced even more by the Ninja Super Steel Blaster; this revving ninja spinner has dart shooting action and battle sounds. Other items in the range include Special Opps Ninja Stars, Frog Blaster and Hero Set. The brand will be supported by a TV campaign for autumn.

www.vividtoysandgames.co.uk Nella The Princess Knight is a tiara wearing knight-in-training who dreams of a life of grand adventures beyond the palace. Based on the popular pre-school TV programme currently airing on Nick Jr and Channel 5’s Milkshake, Vivid has a host of role-play items based on the tools Nella uses in every episode. A range of themed accessories enables children to be just like Nella and re-create her famous adventures. With the Heart Pendant & Tiara, pre-schoolers can imagine their own transformations as their Knightly Heart glows, plays Nella’s transformation song and says phrases from the show. Nella’s glittering Sparkle Sword features a unique slot-in mini wearable tiara and lights up with themed sounds and phrases. Nella’s family rose transforms into a pretty Rose Shield, ready for any adventure.

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Dress-up & Role Play

Pretend To Bee 0115 984 7838 | www.pretendtobee.com The award-winning ranges from Pretend to Bee are industry renowned thanks to their high quality and attention to detail. The wide range of dress up lines is designed to be both long-lasting as well as easy to wear, using proper stitching and durable fabrics across all products. Most costumes are designed with Velcro fastenings, elasticated waistlines and large openings so that they grow with children. Family run company Pretend to Bee has an unrivalled collection of themed costumes aimed at expanding a child’s imagination, encouraging them to interact with others and learn through play. The ranges have varying themes allowing retailers to capitalise on many key selling periods throughout the year such as Christmas and World Book Day. The Pretend to Bee costumes are also a popular choice for parents and teachers thanks to many costumes directly linking to National Curriculum subjects including Victorian, Roman, Vikings and more. Pretend to Bee’s costumes have broad appeal and this year sees the addition of an updated Postman, Policeman and Vet. The company also offers official licensed ranges including the ever-popular Thunderbirds are Go! range as well as the Natural History Museum collection of dinosaur costumes. The NHM range has also been extended to include baby dinosaur costumes starting from six months plus. Also new for 2018 is the collection of Woodland headbands, to accessorize any costume or simply to wear alone. The range features a fox, squirrel, frog and badger along with a hedgehog tabard.

Jakks Pacific 01344 638 900 | www.jakks.com Jakks’ new range of Harry Potter Feature Wizard Wands allows fans of J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World to take up their very own wand as they master a range of spells and their associated casting movements. There are 11 different spells to master using the included spell training guide. The wand recognises the movements the user is making and provides sound feedback to let them know when the spells have been cast correctly – a very helpful feature for witches and wizards attempting to learn those tricky swish and flick motions. Each wand includes five modes of play; two standalone play modes, and three modes which allow the user to play with a friend. The assortment of wands includes character favourites such as Harry Potter’s Wand, Albus Dumbledore’s Wand (The Elder Wand), and Lord Voldemort’s Wand. The wands should hold universal appeal for children and adult fans alike, and also offer strong gifting options for Harry Potter fans. The range will be supported in the marketplace with influencer partnerships, a comprehensive cross-platform digital campaign and online partnerships with links to retail.

Trends UK 01295 768 078 | www.trendsuk.co.uk The sophisticated SpyX range is available now. Offering working features that fuel the imagination, kids can role-play with crime fighting gear and gadgets, just like real hero agents. Supported by PR and marketing campaigns, the SpyX range includes a selection of strategically priced listening devices, laser alarms, night mission goggles and communication devices. The range includes the SpyX Recon Watch, SpyX Night Mission Goggles and SpyX Micro Gear Box set.

Character Options 0161 633 9800 | www.character-online.com More than just playsets, the new Minnie Mouse range from Character Options comes with a dual-scale play-pattern of figures, furniture playsets and accessories, plus bows and make-up accessories for role-play. The new collection is a feature-packed, dual-scale range, based on the original fashionista Minnie Mouse. There are four fun sets to choose from, each featuring its own Minnie Mouse figure. The Minnie Mouse Sleepover Nail Party Set is now available, with a hidden rotating nail guard and bedside lamps on tables that contain nail varnish and glitter gel. Also available is the Make-up Chest and Compact and Dressing Table Hair Salon.

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13th September #

Bringing characters to life! With children’s and adult collections available. Each order comes with a free Roald Dahl POS kit, 40 costume minimum.* Š 2018 RDSC / QB www.roalddahl.com


Farm Toys & Construction Vehicles

50 shades of hay

Talk of Britain may bring to mind our glorious countryside – green swathes of grass, hedgerows teeming with wildlife and horses grazing in the fields. It’s little wonder that farming toys continue to capture the imaginations of even Generation Z. Rachael Simpson takes a look at this niche but enduring toy category, to find out what’s new down on the farm.


he farm toys category occupies a particular corner of the market. Offerings are largely split between the ultra-realistic, which appeal to adult collectors just as much as children; and softer, more stylised toys better suited to preschoolers and younger children. Leading the way in realism has to be Tomy, whose Britains brand of farm models, all built to 1:32 scale, is the oldest specialist agricultural line in Europe. Founded by William Britain, who used a hollow casting technique to create model soldiers, the brand produced its Britains Model Home Farm when the outbreak of WW1 saw the sales of military toys slump. The popularity of the model farm, especially among families who were being actively encouraged by the government to produce their own food, saw the brand go from strength to strength, and in 1948, three years after the end of WW2, the first model tractor was introduced – the 127F/128F Fordson Major. The long history and

highly traditional feel of the brand still holds great appeal today, including with grandparents and great-grandparents keen to pass on their love of the brand to their grandchildren. “There’s an element of nostalgia when it comes to farm toys,” enthuses Julia Lowe, founder of online retailer Farm Toys Online. “These are classic toys that blend great design with everlasting appeal. In fact, the Britains Farm People we sell are exactly the same ones I played with as a girl. They’re both playable and collectible; the kind of toys that will be handed down for generations.” The accuracy of Britains models also provide adult farm toy fans with a strong option for collecting and displaying, while kids can enjoy the strong build quality and realism. “Britains appeals to children aged 3 years + through the element of role play, by providing in scale farm toys that help children build their farm at home,” explains Hideo Takeda, assistant brand manager at Tomy. “The range also appeals

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to collectors and enthusiasts given the detail and accuracy of the models, which are constantly updated to offer a unique product from the best licensor’s brands. Our collectors are some of the most passionate I have ever seen, and have a keen eye for detail as well which helps us with our product development plans.” This year, Britains will also benefit from redeveloped packaging across the entire range, including all licensed offerings. “We are also investing in semi-permanent units to allow additional secondary sitings instore, and, combined with the packaging refresh, this should ensure that Britains stands out at retail,” Hideo adds. Schleich, the German headquartered figurine specialist, has enjoyed success with its popular Farm World range. “As with all Schleich products, our range of Farm World toys is incredibly detailed, lovingly hand-painted and as accurate and true-tolife as possible,” says Paul Dearlove, trade marketing manager. “This means that children can enjoy



Valtra T254V



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Farm Toys & Construction Vehicles

playing with and learning about actual different breeds of farm animals.” To complement the extensive Farm World range, Schleich is preparing to welcome the Large Farm House play set in autumn. With a winch to transport hay and feed to the loft, removable roofs and skylights that open and close, plus a host of other features, the company is expecting the play set to greatly extend fans’ play possibilities, while driving additional purchases at retail. Paul comments: “As well as helping retailers increase the size of their basket sale, and offering a great gifting option, play sets are also a great way to introduce children to a particular theme, such as Farm World, which they can then add to by purchasing additional figurines or accessories. Retailers can really benefit both from these add-on sales, and the element of collectability that Farm World offers.” A retailer which has enjoyed particular success in the marketplace, Farm Toys Online recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. Founded in 2008, Julia attributes the success of her business to strong supplier relationships combined with catering for a particular consumer need. “When I set up Farm Toys Online ten years ago, every country-loving parent I knew loved building up farm collections for their children, but no one was selling them all under one roof,” she explains. “Throughout the years, I’ve stuck to what I know and love - farm toys. If it’s on a farm, you’ll find a toy version of it on the website.” Julia continues: “I’ve also maintained excellent

relationships with our suppliers. We work with some smaller British brands like Brushwood Toys, which is run by a lovely Devon farmer, and Tractor Ted, whose founder was at agricultural college with my husband, alongside well-known international brands like Britains, Siku, Breyer and Bruder.” A major player in the farm toy category, Bruder’s licences include John Deere, Case, Claas, New Holland, Valtra and Fendt (among others), providing kids with a wide range of tough, realistic and enjoyable farm vehicles and accessories. The company is adding 23 new products to its range – a record number in its history – and has exhibited recently at a number of major trade shows, where its products were well received by retailers and consumers alike. We asked Florian Loh, Bruder’s area sales manager, about the response at the shows. “The general response both from key account buyers (London Toy Fair) and from independent retailers (Toymaster) was very promising,” he tells Toy World. “Feedback was particularly promising for this year´s latest products within the Bruder farm toys range, the most prominent being the impressive John Deere 9620RX. One of the world's largest and most powerful tractors, the vehicle is simply overwhelming in terms of sheer physical presence, in reality as well as in model form.” And touching on Bruder’s ‘Just like the real thing’ ethos, which is carried through across its entire product range, Florian added: “A strong and sustainable feature of Bruder products is their great

play value. Whereas digitalised, technological items sometimes tend to feature non-realistic attributes, Bruder’s ‘Just like the real thing’ philosophy offers strong play value plus hands-on enjoyment for children during real-life play. This combination of factors has resulted in Bruder’s lasting popularity.” While it can be safely assumed that farm toys are of particular interest to children from rural, farming or equestrian families, Paul Dearlove tells Toy World that the Farm World range is a top performer for the company irrespective of the geographical region. He comments: “There is of course increased popularity of farm toys in traditional agricultural areas, but Farm is such a strong theme that we see great sales in most regions, and Farm World is one of the most popular Schleich ranges.” In an age when tech and computer gaming seems to be all over the news, this overwhelmingly analogue sector of the marketplace continues to offer kids strong options for imaginative role play using toys that appeal to both parents and their children. “Parents are tired of the imaginationlacking, technological culture that their young kids are being immersed in,” says Julia Lowe. “As a parent, there’s nothing more lovely than watching kids get lost in their own world. I love the innocence of pretend play, of make believe, of acting out scenes that come to life in a child’s imagination. Farm toys enable children to do just that.” Over the next few pages, Toy World takes a look at the latest products to join the farm category.

Tomy 01271 336 155 | www.tomy.com Britains from Tomy offers a wide range of tractors, vehicles and accessories that are ideal for budding young farmers. With over 95 years of experience, the collection is constantly developed to ensure that farming fans are provided with refreshed and updated models from manufacturers including Kane, New Holland, JCB and John Deere. With detailed features including engine sounds and working lights, the range also appeals to collectors who value the accuracy and realism of each model. Britains has added the new licence Valtra T254 Versu to its line-up for autumn/winter. The new model features a pearlised finish, transparent roof, mesh bonnet, a removable cab where fans can fit their sitting drivers (sold separately) as well as working steering and an A-frame front hitch. Britains will be adding to its Kane collection in autumn/winter with the release of its Kane Bale Trailer Playset. This trailer has a tailgate that raises and lowers for easy loading, and has two removable end panels that convert the low loader trailer into a bale carrier. There will also be two new vehicles from JCB including the JCB 419S and JCB X series. The JCB 419S Wheeled Loading Shovel keeps everything moving around the farm. The model features big tread tyres, working hydraulic lifts, a rear hitch and an interchangeable bucket and silage fork. The JCB X Series is a powerful and efficient model with 220 features including eight power modes, three lifting modes, and increased hydraulic power. Both models will be available in autumn/ winter. For the first time ever, the company will support Build-a-Johnny Tractor, from the Johnny Tractor & Friends range, with a fully integrated marketing communication plan featuring heavyweight TV, starting in October, as well as online media and influencer sampling to drive additional sales throughout the year. The hero line Build-a-Johnny Tractor helps development with a 16-piece buildable set including two extra drill pieces. The farming hero is built with chunky parts that are easy for little hands to assemble.

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Farm Toys & Construction Vehicles

Funrise 01908 555640 | www.funrise.com With over 70 years in the industry, Tonka continues to be a staple brand and has fast become an essential for construction site play. The Tonka Steel collection features a range of tough construction vehicles for younger kids. The Steel collection is a great way for children to enjoy sandpit play; made from real steel for durability, the range includes a variety of construction vehicles to choose from. New for autumn of 2018 is a truly ground-breaking line of Tonka vehicles - Power Movers. These rugged construction vehicles feature new Motion Drive Technology, allowing for fun and intuitive play that brings the dump truck, front loader, excavator and cement mixer vehicles to life. With Motion Drive Technology, kids can push the vehicle forward to make the engine rev and activate the lights, pull the vehicle backwards to hear back-up sounds, and work the mechanical feature of each vehicle to hear hydraulic sounds and see flashing lights. The lights and sounds activated by the child’s interaction with the vehicle create an engaging and realistic Tonka tough experience every time they play.

Jumbo Games 01707 289 289 | www.jumbo.eu Jumbo’s Goula wooden range offers a selection of entertaining and educational farm-themed products ideal for toddlers and pre-schoolers. The Goula Farm House Shape Sorter is one of the most popular items in the range. Children can improve their hand-eye coordination, colour-matching skills and finemotor skills as they match and place the different wooden pieces into the decorated farmhouse. Within the puzzles offering are the Mother & Babies Farm Puzzle, Farm Silhouette Peg Puzzle, Colour Farm Animals Puzzle, Farm Fabric Puzzle and the Cubic Farm Puzzles. All the puzzles are made from durable and high quality wood. For gifting, there is the Farm Matching Memo Game for 2-4 players. Packaged in a decorative cube box, kids can take the fun of matching different farm animals with them wherever they go.

Playmobil 01268 548 111 | www.playmobil.co.uk The latest additions to the Playmobil Country range help pony mad kids have hours of fun recreating the world of horse show trials and competitions. The new sets give children all they need to pamper their ponies, train them and transport them to their very own Horse Show. The large Horse Farm set contains two horses, a foal, male and female groom figures, and farmyard pets, plus two lockable stalls and a tack room filled with realistic accessories. Kids can also stretch their horse’s legs in the optional Horse Paddock, which comes complete with food, fencing, a lockable gate and a tree with flowers to provide some shade. The Horse Grooming Station, with working shower and a hand pump, contains a selection of grooming accessories to help kids ensure their ponies are in top condition, before they head off to a show in the all-new Horse Box with Opening Side Door. This transporter gives the horses and riders a home from home while they travel, with a foldable ramp and space for two horses, two riders, and essential horse grooming accessories. A highlight of many an equestrian’s calendar are the shows, and with the new Playmobil Horse Show set children can put their horses through their paces in the show jumping arena with water jumps, walls and other obstacles, before collecting the trophies and rosettes and heading back to the horse farm for a rest in the paddock.

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Farm Toys & Construction Vehicles

DKL Marketing 01604 678 780 | www.dkl.co.uk The Stablemates range from Breyer offers 1:32 scale (7.5cm tall) model horses. New to the range is the Deluxe Animal Hospital set, which contains a mare and foal, donkey, goat, dog, cat, and hospital accessories. Also new for this year is the Stablemates Glow in the Dark Horse set, the Wild at Heart set and Dapples and Dots set. Horses from Breyer’s Classic range stand at approximately 15cm tall. New this year is the English Horse and Rider. This set comes with a posable 6” rider, and a handfinished horse with a saddle, saddle pad and bridle. Finally, the Traditional Series 1:9 scale models stand at 23cm tall and complement Breyer’s wide range of barns, accessories and riders.

Learning Resources 01553 819 386 | www.learningresources.co.uk Bright Basics is a new early years range by Educational Insights, available from Learning Resources, created to inspire little ones to play and learn as they grow. The Bright Basics Tractor Pull features textured animals that can be linked together and pulled along by a tractor, helping children to develop early maths skills, encourage tactile awareness, build vocabulary and support imaginative play. Also, in the Bright Basics range is Busy Barn, which encourages toddlers to learn through the familiar nursery rhyme, Old MacDonald Had a Farm. The play barn inspires curiosity and imagination with a variety of hands-on activities including popping chicks in the roof, a sliding puzzle, windows and doors that open and close, an on/off switch, a door latch, spinner and dial. It also comes with a plastic cow and calf for imaginative play.

Schleich 01279 870 000 | www.schleich-s.com/en Schleich’s Farm World continues to offer highly detailed and realistic toys. Joining the range are the new Yorkshire Terrier and French Bulldog, whilst the Texas Longhorn, the Hereford Cow and Calf, the Brownish Cow and the Black Bull are also available. Retailers are advised to look out for the new boxed sets too; the Miniature Pig Mother and Piglets set, the Pony Mare and Foal playset, and the Rabbit Hutch and Chicken Coop all launched earlier this year at a range of value price points. For autumn, the Large Farm House will be unveiled. This hero play set has multiple accessories and features a farm family and exclusive animals for extra play value. The play set is complemented by the Adventure Tree House, which also offers kids a range of play possibilities.

Siku 00353 676 3800 | www.siku.de The German brand Siku continues to develop and evolve, putting forward another strong performance so far this year. Sold in 60 countries worldwide, Siku’s focus has always been on providing innovative and robust models. Both the 1:32 models and the smaller, blister-pack pocket money models, are based on their life-size counterparts, so children can enjoy collecting a wide variety of models at affordable prices. The comprehensive Siku range offers realistic cars, trucks, tractors, construction vehicles and many others that kids see on a daily basis. New models are launched regularly; tractor licences available include Valtra, Case, Claas, John Deere, New Holland, Deutz, Massey Ferguson and Fendt, while construction vehicles include JCB, Liebherr, Manitou, Linde, Volvo and CAT.

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Farm Toys & Construction Vehicles

HTI 01253 778 888 | www.htigroup.co.uk JCB lends itself perfectly to a toy range for budding builders, and the JCB toy range from HTI celebrates the manufacturer’s most iconic construction equipment, from excavators to dumper trucks. Presented as replicas of the real thing, children can feel like they’re in control of their very own building site, and the variety of vehicles and sets offers hours of creative play. HTI has developed a broad range of products for early learners and older enthusiasts alike looking to create their own construction scenarios. The construction toys category is an ideal foundation for building a child’s understanding of how things work. Encouraging children to build, fix and manage projects can help shape their interests and talent later in life. The JCB Pop Up Workbench and remote controlled Tower Crane will encourage hours of role-play and help develop a love for construction. Finally, HTI’s Light & Sound range takes the Construction Series one step further with realistic sound effects that bring play to life. The collection features a Helicopter, Wheeled Loader, Master Pickup Truck and Excavator.

Bruder 01491 412 415 | www.bruder.de The Jaguar 980 is the largest forage harvester in Claas' range, and now Bruder presents its detailed model of the machine at 1:16 scale as the latest addition to its agricultural range. The forage harvester's impressive corn header has been equipped with six driven pull-in slides and the silage spout can be turned in any direction. Both the door and bonnet open to provide a view of the detailed cab, as well as the impressive engine, underlining Bruder's mission statement: Just like the real thing. The Jaguar 980 model also features replaceable wheels, and can be further enhanced with the Claas pick-up accessories set and the mechanics set. Bruder also presents its model of the 9620RX John Deere, the agricultural manufacturer’s largest and most powerful track tractor yet. Just like the original, this 1:16 scale model boasts four newly developed track drives as well as articulated steering. The door of the cabin can be opened and the folding bonnet shows the impressive engine. The height-adjustable rear coupling is compatible with numerous attachments available from the Bruder agricultural range, such as the cultivator, plough, or sowing combination. Manufactured from high-quality plastics, both the Jaguar 980 model and the 9620RX John Deere model are suitable for kids who want to play indoors and outside.



The write stuff

Back to school is a key period in the Stationery category, as it provides retailers with the perfect opportunity to boost sales. Casey Goodman looks at the opportunities for toy retailers.


he stationery category comprises a wide variety of products, ranging from pens and pencils to notebooks and pencil cases. Gavin Holden, director at Blue Sky Designs, has noticed that a major trend for 2018 is the Japanese cute style: “The Japanese influenced style appears to be in demand this year, especially Kawaii style illustration, and we can see this progressing into 2019. Blue Sky is about to launch its new Kawaii style Harry Potter range, along with a super cute Japanese style Looney Tunes range of stationery and bags. Functional or re-usable packaging is also high on the agenda for Blue Sky. We are working hard to minimise the amount of packaging and especially non-reusable plastics.” Robert Ling, marketing executive at Pyramid International, agrees that packaging and materials are a key consideration: “There has been a rise in the importance of sourcing eco-responsible materials across both products and their packaging solutions.” He also noted: “Value for money is a crucial driver with customers being more cost savvy than ever before, so ensuring there is a value-add through differentiation is essential. We have also seen growing strength in lifestyle trends with typography, emojis and general positivity being very popular across social media; bringing variety to the category.” Jay Guest, UK sales director at Maped Helix, explains that colour is an important factor in the appeal of stationery products: “One of our most successful new product developments over the last

two years has been the Oxford Colour maths set. If I cast my mind back to the initial suggestion of producing the iconic Oxford maths set in different colours, there were reservations to say the least. The general concerns were that we would split sales of the classic set, as well as discrediting the traditional Oxford brand by changing the aesthetics. Thankfully, the concerns were short-lived and the range was extremely well received by the end consumer. Other leading stationery brands have also revitalised traditional products by introducing them in different, vibrant colours.” Licensing is also an important factor in in the Stationery category, as Rob explains: “Stationery is largely a necessity item, even during the digital age, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be fun. Licensed items are a great way to add a shot of fun to the Back to School season. Retailers can benefit from making the Back to School section as eye-catching and exciting as possible and licensed products are perfect for this. Back to school is a time when stationery purchases make the shift from a desire to necessity, so ensuring you have products which grab attention and are functional is essential. Licences can play a big part here, having a Pyramid Jurassic World 3D notebook on your shelf is sure to catch the eye of passers-by.” Gavin from Blue Sky has also found that licences maximise sales. “Licensing is hugely important for the stationery category, it adds kudos to any stationery department, where having recognis able global brands on the shelf draws consumers

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in. People have confidence and faith in the product quality of officially licensed products. By far and away the biggest licence this year so far has been Harry Potter, alongside Paw Patrol and Jurassic World.” Retailers can highlight ranges and maximise sales using Back to School promotions and displays. Gavin and Jay believe that the goal is to create in store theatre around such promotions, whether that’s building displays around certain licences or picking key promotional products and displaying them together across multiple licences. Gavin continues: “Our best-selling school sets are the Bumper Stationery Wallets, which offer great value and a way to purchase a whole bundle of stationery for school. Retailers will benefit from stocking Bumper sets alongside other stationery formats of the same licences ranged around them as added pick-up lines. To keep our offering fresh, Blue Sky develops several brand-new stationery formats within each range each season, products that didn’t exist the previous season. Consumers are always on the lookout for something new and exciting, so to have the latest formats pulled to the forefront is key.” Robert offers the following advice: “Creating brand-specific retail spaces is a great way to capture people as they pass through. A stocked, branded, FSDU for stationery is a great way to get people to stop and look.” Over the next few pages, Toy World presents a range of the latest products in the Stationery category.


Trends UK 01295 768 078 | www.trendsuk.co.uk The multi award-winning Paint Sticks range developed by Little Brian has just been given a thumbs-up by The Good Toy Guide, securing a rare 5/5 in all three assessment criteria for the Paint Sticks 24 pack. Already immensely popular with pre-schoolers, parents and teachers, Paint Sticks offer mess-free painting on multiple surfaces with the unique twist up format, and the paint dries in 90 seconds. Distributed to retailers by Trends UK & Wind Designs, the Paint Sticks range is being expanded in spring 2018 with new products. A Jumbo pack with 24 Paint Sticks in the original chunky size contains a selection of classic, metallic and dayglow colours. The new Mini Paint Sticks are great for finer detail. With 24 vibrant colours in classic, metallic and fluorescent shades, kids can create wonderful masterpieces with a range of techniques including painting, scraping, stamping and dotting. Kids can create chalky, but dust free, pictures with the new creamy smooth Chalk Sticks in a wide variety of 20 colours. With the new Fabric Paint Sticks, kids can decorate clothing by painting any fabric item and having it sealed with an iron. Their designs can be washed up to 40˚C.

Pyramid International 0116 284 3640 | www.pyramidinternational.com

Maped Helix 01384 286 860 | www.mapedhelix.co.uk With a long standing legacy working with iconic brand owners to produce themed stationery for children, Maped Helix offers a range of Back to School items featuring plastic-free packaging and iconic brands. Just in time for Back to School, the company has added to its popular brands Pringles, Pepsi and Slush Puppie and is also introducing an innovative new Jelly Belly set. The new plastic-free packaged Jelly Belly scented stationery set range incorporates a Very Cherry scent and jelly bean shaped tin. Designed to store and protect its contents, the highly-practical tin contains two pencils, an eraser, a 15cm ruler, double hole pencil sharpener and a four-coloured pen. Pringles pencil cases were the number one best-selling pencil cases last year, so Helix has extended the range to incorporate other lines that lend themselves to the iconic cylinder shape, including matching erasers and sharpeners. The original Pepsi stationery from 1982 has returned with fresh Pepsi and Pepsi Max designs, including pencil cases, erasers and pencil sharpeners and is already proving to be a huge hit with students. Since the 1970s, Slush Puppie has grown into an internationally-renowned brand, popular with children and teens. The new Helix Slush Puppie cupshaped pencil case features the famous Puppie logo and is based on the UK’s favourite flavour, blue raspberry. Available for Back to School 2018.

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Stationery continues to be an integral part of Pyramid International's product armoury. Throughout 2018, the company has been working hard to expand the category. In the early part of the year, Pyramid introduced a range of Flexi-Cover notebooks. These new lines combine the pleasing, sensory qualities of the Premium notebooks with the cost-effectiveness of the Wiro range, creating a unique collection in the market and offering an enhanced opportunity at retail. Initially, the designs have been focused on key licences including Rick and Morty, Nintendo and Game of Thrones. This product development has also included the recent release of the A6 pocket premiums. Once again influenced by the highly successful Premium notebooks, this new line has been created for those with active work or social lives. Fully embossed with iconic characters and brands, the notebooks measure 148mm high and 105mm wide, making them perfect for pockets or bags and the perfect travel companion. The range has started life concise, with a focus on licences currently proving very popular at retail, including The Legend of Zelda, Deadpool, Pusheen and Star Wars. These are due to be available Late Q2 - early Q3 2018, and are available to pre-order.


Vivid Imaginations 01483 449 944 | www.vividtoysandgames.co.uk Crayola will be bolstering its famous stationery offering this back to school period via the expansion of the successful Silly Scents range, which now includes both sweet and stinky scents. Leading the new wave of introductions in June will be the Silly Scents Tub, containing a selection of Silly Scents stationery and a colouring book, housed in an attractive reusable storage tub. Crayola will also be launching Silly Scents crayons in innovative Twistables format. For the ultimate scented stationary experience, Crayola’s Silly Scents Mini Art Case brings together over 50 pieces from the Silly Scents range in an attractive case. The growing Silly Scents range will drive innovation across the scented stationery category and will be supported by a 30 second digital advert launching in July, as well as an exciting gaming experience via the PopJam app. The brand will also benefit from content via the Crayola UK Facebook and Instagram channels.

DKL 01604 678 780 | www.dkl.co.uk

Blue Sky 01133 879 670 | www.blueskystudios.co Fans of Harry Potter can look forward to the release of Blue Sky’s officially licensed Harry Potter range of stationery and giftware. Arriving at retail in August, just in time for the Back to School period, kids can choose from products including Wand Pens, the Marauders Map Notebook and 3D character pencil toppers. The Harry Potter Wand Pen is a faithful reproduction of the boy wizard’s wand, and also allows kids to jot down spells and potion notes simply by removing the wand handle to expose the pen nib. The Harry Potter 10 Colour Pen features sliders that lets kids change the colour of the ink whenever they like. This chunky pen features the Hogwarts crest, and the nib is shaped like the iconic Sorting Hat. Blue Sky offers chunky 3D Pencil Erasers, including Ron Weasley and Harry Potter styles, which fit on top of a selection of Blue Sky’s officially licensed pencils and pens. Finally, the company has also produced the Marauders Map Notebook, which opens like the map in the movies.

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Firmly established as a market leader in the scented stationery market, with each product featuring a two-year scent guarantee, Scentco Scented Stationery has been distributed by DKL Marketing for the past four years. One of the best-selling collections from Scentco is Smencils: a selection of scented pencils in various themes, scents, colours and merchandising options. The popular graphite Smencils are available in a cylinder of 50 pcs, a CDU of 20 five-packs, or refill packs of five. There are several scents to try, from Cola and Strawberry Cupcake to Jelly Bean and Watermelon. As with the rest of the range, the scents in the Smencils last for two years and all materials are biodegradable and made from recycled newspaper. Another much-loved Scentco collection is Smens, which offers a variety of scented pens. The Neon Gel Smens Tower Display holds 24 individually packaged Smens which write in a Neon Ink. The Scents to Go Activity Packs are perfect for keeping children entertained while travelling, and the range includes both 30-piece and 50-piece sets. Each kit features Gel Crayons and/or Smencils, colouring sheets and smickers. To complement the pens and pencils, a range of accessories including Smencil Buddies pencil cases and Sketch & Sniff notebooks is also available, perfect additions to the scented stationery line. DKL supports all its ranges with a full marketing campaign, including everything from bespoke planograms to extensive social media and PR activity.





Pusheen (Love)

Deadpool (Peek-a-Boo)



Despicable Me (I Love Fluffy)


Star Wars (Darth Vader)


My Little Pony Retro (Part Time Unicorn)


T he Legend of Zelda (Triforce)

Introducing our exciting NEW range of A6 pocket premium notebooks! Measuring just 148mm X 105mm wide, they are perfect for those with an active work or social life, fitting comfortably into pockets or bags! CONTACT US TODAY! FOR OUR FULL RANGE OF PRODUCTS VISIT



As the retail world continues to grapple with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune (or 21st century consumer behaviour as it is otherwise known), there are times when you have to wonder at the absurdity of it all such as Mothercare managing to ‘overlook’ the fact that one vital strand of its CVA hadn’t actually been approved by creditors. According to the BBC, KPMG “got their sums wrong” - which is quite a staggering statement in itself. It was all the more embarrassing because this only came to light after the retailer had already announced that lenders had backed its restructuring plan. However, it turned out that the proposal for the Children’s World division had not actually been approved by the necessary 75% majority – essentially, landlords scuppered the deal. So now, Mothercare is in the position of having to reconsider its options, including closing the 21 stores that come under the Children’s World subsidiary, putting a further 300 jobs at risk. Remind me again how much KPMG charges for its services… Tesco has announced that it is to close its Direct operation this month. The news certainly took many people by surprise, including The Entertainer team; the retailer has been using the marketplace heavily, and even former Tesco doyen John Driscoll admitted that he hadn’t seen it coming. Perhaps Tesco has reached the conclusion that it is folly to compete with Amazon, and there were certainly issues with both profitability and also with small online retailers using the site to under-cut Tesco. In that respect alone, you can see why it makes sense for Tesco to refocus on its own website. The big question is whether all the merchandise currently offered by Tesco via the Direct operation will automatically migrate over to the Tesco website; rumour has it that may not be the case. I’m hearing instances of FOB orders placed months ago being cancelled with immediate effect, and even the suggestion that if suppliers don’t accept the cancellation, there is the implication (threat, some might say…) that Tesco will simply trash the price. If that is true, it strikes me as a relatively dangerous game to play on any number of levels. And while it will be a nuisance to many small online retailers and some suppliers, it surely opens up opportunities for other marketplaces such as On Buy and online operators like Groupon… US TRU workers continue to protest that the severance pay they were initially promised has never materialised. 30,000 staff will get nothing, while Dodgy Dave Brandon and four other directors have walked away with millions, paid a week before bankruptcy was announced. Staff will also lose their medical insurance 13 days after their employment finishes; for some, the cost of short-term cover could be equivalent to doubling their mortgage payments. To quote the famous philosopher Homer Simpson: “Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It’s what separates us from the animals…except the weasel.” It has even emerged that Toys R Us had furnished its offices with $1000 chairs bought from an upmarket furniture supplier…of which Dave Brandon (yes, the same one) was a director. Absurd doesn’t begin to cover it: surely laws need to change… One major licensing company is apparently seeking additional ‘donations’ to its CMF (Central Marketing Fund for the blissfully uninitiated, although some licensees have a less polite acronym for the process). The new tariffs

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allegedly add anything between 1-3% to the already heavy cost of doing business with the licensor in question. As one licensee put it: “WTF? Or more accurately, WFM??” (whereby the M stands for marketing…you can probably work out the rest). I’m sure most of you could take a wild stab at which licensor I’m referring to… It might be worth noting that next year’s Las Vegas Licensing Expo event will be slipping back two weeks in the calendar, when it will be taking place from 4th - 6th June. Intriguingly, I understand that the following year, the show will revert back to its current slot in the third week of May. I also hear that the organiser UBM is contemplating relocating BLE from Olympia to Excel next year? Those of us who experienced Toy Fair’s ill-fated dalliance with the venue might have an interesting perspective to offer on that particular move… The Argos restructure is beginning to take shape, with Juliet Ward appointed to the role of Head of Toys, Nursery and Leisure for Sainsbury’s Argos. With previous experience at both Woolworths and Homebase, Juliet has spent the past few years heading the Argos Electricals team – there should be further news about the new toy team she’ll be leading in the near future, which will provide some stability and reassurance internally and externally as we head towards the festive season… Distoy gets bigger and busier with each passing year. Indeed, the event’s success is beginning to bring forth its own set of challenges; David Potter and his team do a sterling job of organising proceedings, but some people are beginning to wonder whether Distoy is getting perilously close to outgrowing its cosy hotel surroundings. At times, the scenes at two the lifts were reminiscent of the old 200 5th building in New York, while the alternative – the dreaded stairs – provided their own unique challenge, akin to an Escape Room: a labyrinthine, never-ending maze of corridors, dead-ends and doors which only seemed to lead to the kitchen or housekeeping cupboards. I wouldn’t be surprised if they found a few confused international visitors the following week, still wandering around looking for the lobby or the way out! Of course, when considering alternative venues, the big question is whether the show would suit a more traditional exhibition venue (unlikely), or whether larger hotels could be found in a suitable location at the right time. My guess is that we’ll be back there next year, as – for all its foibles - the show works extremely well in its current format… Smyths continues to go from strength to strength, coming joint top in a Which survey of favourite retail stores. Indeed, the retailer’s biggest challenge in the short term may be getting Germans to pronounce its name when it rebrands the TRU stores – lest you think I’m being casually racist, it was comments from several German contacts which alerted me to the potential conundrum… There have been suggestions in the media that MPs are keen to introduce an online sales tax of 3%, with the money raised to be put towards reducing business rates. If this is serious and not just empty rhetoric, you won’t be surprised to hear that I’m all in favour – anything to help level the playing field can only be a good thing. Let us hope that someone in government actually has the cojones to go through with this proposal.


Toy World July 2018  

Toy World July 2018  

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