Toy World April 2019

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April 2019 Volume 8 Issue 7

New freshly baked Pikmi Pops DoughMis OUT NOW!



The Team...

CONTENTS April 2019 Volume 8 Issue 7

John Baulch

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

32 Feature: Pocket Money Toys & Collectibles

64 Retail Profile: FAO Schwarz

Mark Austin

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

Anita Baulch

Circulation and Financial Director anita@toyworldmag.co.uk 01442 502 406

News

Opinion

Features

05 From the Publisher 06 News 14 Industry Moves 16 Marketing World 20 Licensing World 108 Fresh 138 Allegedly

24 NPD column 27 Talking Shop 70 Viewpoint

32 F eature: Pocket Money Toys & Collectibles 36 Q&A: Andrew Laughton, MGA 64 Retail Profile: FAO Schwarz 66 Feature: Independent Toy & Gift Show 76 Feature: Games & Puzzles 102 Brand Profile: Tomy 110 Feature: Pre-school

Contributors T he NPD Group | Mark Buschhaus | Stephen Barnes | Josh Quirke | Nat Southworth | Ruth Clement | Vance Withers

Rachael Simpson-Jones Editor rachael@toyworldmag.co.uk 01442 502 406

76 Feature: Games & Puzzles

110 Feature: Pre-school

Mark Crowford

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

toyworld The business magazine with a passion for toys

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Toy World 3

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I from the publisher

John Baulch - @Baulchtweet

t is a truth universally acknowledged that if I leave the country on a business trip – especially if it involves travel to a distant time zone – then a major news story will break (usually in the middle of the night). This theory was reinforced during a recent trip to Moscow, where I was giving a presentation at the Kids Russia show. I had been aware for several days that something was going on at The Entertainer, but ‘the deal’ whatever it was - clearly needed some last-minute negotiation to get it over the line. There had been some speculation within the UK toy community that The Entertainer might be about to buy Hamleys, which intensified after the chief executive left at short notice. However, Gary was adamant all along that this wasn’t the target, and you can see why: while I am not au fait with the precise asking price, I would imagine it is likely to be around five times the price of his actual purchase, the Early Learning Centre – and it would carry a significantly greater risk. For those who have been asking, I have been hearing strong rumours that Hamleys may still be sold, although not to The Entertainer. While a deal may not be imminent – we could still be a few weeks away from a resolution - there may yet be some lastminute drama to come. Anyway, I digress – after a series of ‘it’s nearly over the line’ calls and emails from Gary, confirmation came through (in the early hours of the morning, naturally) that the deal had finally been signed and The Entertainer was now the proud owner of Early Learning Centre. Apparently, negotiations had taken a year to finalise. Sky reported that ELC had informed investors that £6m would be received on completion of the deal, with up to £5.5m in respect of inventory due within a few months of completion and a further £2m in earn out fees over the next two years. Considering Mothercare paid £85m for ELC in 2007, The Entertainer appears to have picked it up for a very competitive price. It seems to be a great deal for both parties: it helps to push Mothercare closer to clearing its bank debt and it keeps the iconic ELC brand alive - Mothercare went so far as to admit that it did not have "the necessary capital, resources or scale" to continue to invest and develop own‑brand ELC toys.

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Meanwhile, most observers have suggested that The Entertainer is the perfect company to reinvigorate the brand, especially with Addo Play in an ideal position to refresh the master ELC brand and its portfolio of sub-brands such as Happyland. If you are of a certain age, no doubt you and your children will have fond memories of ELC, and I have every confidence that this move will see it being rejuvenated for a whole new generation. Amidst all the media reports of retail Armageddon, it is encouraging to see that there are operators who still see the High Street as a rich vein of opportunity. Gary Grant has repeatedly been quoted as saying that the High Street is far from dead, so it is good to see him backing up his words with action. Another retailer expanding its bricks and mortar presence across the globe is FAO Schwarz, which recently announced that it will be opening a brand new flagship store-within -a-store in Selfridges later this year. Keen to find out more about the new venture, I caught up with the COO of FAO’s parent company ThreeSixty Group, Jan-Eric Kloth in Hong Kong in January. The resulting interview - which JanEric described as “the most comprehensive insight into our business we have ever granted” - starts on page 64. I hope it gives you a flavour of another global retail operation with huge ambitions in the toy space. This month’s issue also includes an exclusive interview with MGA’s senior vice president UK Andy Laughton, talking about the phenomenal success of L.O.L. Surprise! Those retailers who have seen the new developments for 2019 appear to share my view that the brand still has plenty of scope for growth, and by all accounts it has already got off to a strong start this year – as indeed has the Collectibles category as a whole. This month’s features include an in-depth look at the Collectibles sector, as well as the Games & Puzzles and Pre-School categories, all of which have plenty of exciting new launches to drive sales this year. As an industry, we are doing all we can to keep momentum going. Clearly, what happens in the political sphere over next couple of weeks may have a significant bearing on the retail channel over the coming months – but whatever lays ahead, the toy industry is ready to face it with its customary fortitude.


News

The Entertainer acquires the Early Learning Centre The Entertainer group has announced the acquisition of the Early Learning Centre (ELC) from Mothercare, as the group continues its ambitious growth agenda into 2019. The acquisition also includes ELC’s portfolio of iconic British toy brands, including Happyland. ELC operates within 80 Mothercare stores in the UK, and 400 stores internationally via franchise partners and online through its website. When you consider that The Entertainer’s deal with Matalan to curate its toy offering brought £4.5m revenue in its first year, this deal presents an opportunity on a far larger scale. The acquisition follows a strong year of growth for The Entertainer, which saw 16 new stores open in the UK and five more internationally. The acquisition of Spanish toy retailer Poly added a further 57 stores to the retailer’s portfolio. Gary Grant, founder and executive chairman of The Entertainer, commented: “We are delighted to add ELC to The Entertainer family. It comes with a rich history as a much-loved British brand, supporting parents and grandparents with their children’s early years’ learning, development and play.” The Entertainer confirmed that the deal took a year to finalise. Sky reported that ELC had informed investors that £6m would be received on completion of the deal, with up to £5.5m in respect of inventory due within a few months of completion and a further £2m in earn out fees over the next two years. Considering Mothercare paid £85m for ELC in 2007, The Entertainer seems to have picked it up for a very competitive price. It seems to be a great deal for both parties: it helps to push Mothercare closer to clearing its bank debt and keeps the iconic ELC brand alive – Mothercare went so far as to admit that it did not have “the necessary capital, resources or scale” to continue to invest and develop own‑brand ELC toys. Which is where Addo Play comes in. The UK retail partner of The Entertainer, Addo Play has a rapidly expanding range of brands and is in an ideal position to refresh the master ELC brand and its portfolio of sub-brands. The company is delighted to be welcoming ELC to its portfolio following the deal. Mary Price, co-founder & CEO of Addo Play, commented: “We cannot wait to utilise our expertise and start working on product sourcing, development and wholesale to modernise this great British, heritage brand. With new investment, we aim to take this cherished brand forward into its next chapter putting it firmly back in the minds of today’s and future consumers.” “This is absolutely great news for us all at Addo Play, “added co-founder & CEO David Martin. “It fits perfectly within the group and is a truly transformative and wonderful opportunity. Addo’s mission is to inspire hundreds of ways to play, every day and will shape our approach to re-energising the ELC brand.” Gary Grant commented: “We will look to bring new life to the product offering whilst maintaining the high level of quality ELC is renowned for. By combining our experience with that of ELC’s passionate and capable partners around the world, we look forward to re-invigorating the brand for generations to come.” Mary added: “I’m really excited to start working on the amazing Early Learning Centre brand. There are lots of opportunities and great times ahead. “addition of new ghosts, new game challenges, and randomisation of gameplay so that the experience is different every time kids play. Lego Hidden Side will be available globally in late summer 2019.

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News The Entertainer enjoys strong profit increase and gains recognition from The Sunday Times and Retail Week At the company’s annual Business Update, founder and MD Gary Grant revealed that sales revenues for the financial year 2018/19 are up +21.7%, bringing the total to £197m. Despite a challenging retail environment, The Entertainer has continued its ambitious expansion plans with the opening of a further 16 new stores in the UK. The curated wholesale partnership with Matalan has expanded, and saw a further 54 toy departments opened, taking the total to 63. This resulted in FY sales of £4.5m. Store like-for-like sales also saw strong growth of +12.3%, while direct revenue sales - from TheToyShop.com and online sites such as Amazon - were up +12.8%. Profit-related bonuses of £3m were awarded to employees, and 2018 saw nearly £2.8m donated to charities including the Toy Trust, through initiatives such as the Payroll Giving Scheme and an ongoing partnership with digital charity box Pennies. Gary commented: “This is an outstanding set of results, in what was undoubtedly a very tough year for the High Street. The whole team can be very proud of its performance in 2018. 2019 will see us continue to keep a tight control on costs, further strengthen our own label product offering through our Addo brand, ensure we are first to market on key trends and of course offer excellent value for money to our customers. Our ambitious growth agenda will continue after our exciting start to the year with the acquisition of ELC, and we will continue to look at every opportunity to expand our presence both nationally and internationally.” Further success came as the company won the award for Best Retailer Under £250m at the Retail Week Awards. Retail Week noted that The Entertainer “has not only embraced its core values, it has used them to help develop the sector.” One judge added: “Considering how tough the toy market is, The Entertainer seems to be thriving and growing, and that says a lot about its model.” The Entertainer also made the Top 50 on The Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For 2019 list, up 20 places from last year, and reacted with: “We could not be prouder of the feedback our employees have given us to earn that position. We also ranked 22nd overall for fair deal, 28th overall for giving something back and 40th overall for leadership. The engagement of our employees is crucial to our success and it makes us both happy and proud to know they are happy working at The Entertainer.”

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Siso Toys appoints Outsourced Sales Solutions as regional sales agency OSS has been tasked with growing Siso's business with Toymaster and independent retailers. The new team includes some of the most experienced and respected sales professionals in the toy industry. Starting with immediate effect, the new appointments and their areas are: David Larter (North of England), Rob Daykin (Lincolnshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire), James McRandle (Ireland and IOM), Paul Hayward (Derbyshire, Staffordshire, Manchester, Lancashire and North Wales), Jean-Claude Bergot (London & South East England), Mark Sharp (W. Midlands, Cheltenham, Gloucester, Oxfordshire, S. Wales S. West), Graham Burnett (Scotland, Shetland and Orkney Islands), and Raymond Nedas (Norfolk, Suffolk, Beds, Bucks, Hearts, Essex, Northants, Cambridgeshire). “The appointment of OSS is an important step in shaping our business to deliver upon the strategic growth vision we set out to deliver," commented Martin Whitaker, managing director, Siso Toys UK. "Toymaster and independent toy retailers are an important retail channel for Siso Toys UK, and with OSS we are confident we can grow our footprint within the channel and our overall business. We have a great selection of brands and products that are perfect for independent toy retailers” Rob Daykin from OSS added: “Siso Toys UK has a really strong range for 2019 that will have 360 marketing campaigns that will support our retail partners, and we are very excited to represent the company and deliver growth with Toymaster and independent retailers.”


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News Toy Trust announces 2019 Big Challenge event The Toy Trust’s 2019 Big Challenge has been confirmed for Saturday 8th June and will be based at Oxford Wet N Wild in Wallingford, Oxfordshire. Larger teams, small groups and/or individual participants are all welcome, and events on offer include a triathlon which will feature an open water swim (both Olympic and sprint distances available), a 65-mile circular bike ride (challenging or less-challenging routes available) and a 5km or 10km run/walk. Participants with younger family members are welcome to join the walking element. The event will be based at the exciting Oxford Wet N Wild, which offers a fantastic base for the Big Challenge event and participants the chance to take on Oxford Wet N Wild’s inflatable assault course. Anyone interested in taking part on the assault course will be required to book directly with the venue; booking details will be provided upon their Big Challenge event booking. The 2019 event will culminate with a late afternoon BBQ and refreshments on site for all participants. The Toy Trust has pledged its commitment to three inspiring and deserving charities in 2019: UK mobility charity My AFK, health camp providers Over The Wall and Ugandan based educational charity, Ecologia Youth Trust. Funds raised through the Big Challenge event will go to both of the nominated UK based charities – My AFK and Over The Wall – whilst Ecologia Youth Trust will also receive support through other fundraising activity in 2019. Graham Canning, Toy Trust committee chairman, said: “We have designed this year’s Big Challenge to be as inclusive, challenging and fun for as many people as possible. We have also added an extra option of fun for participants and their families to take on Oxford Wet N Wild’s inflatable assault course. We hope to encourage new teams, however big or small, to get involved in what has become an amazingly uplifting and fun, team building day that raises massive amounts of money for the disadvantaged children the Toy Trust supports.” Places are available at £100 per person and teams or individuals can register now at www.booking.skylineevents.co.uk/book/zv9r76dv. For more information on the event itself, including any entry queries, please contact Matt@btha.co.uk.

Asmodee poised to add Green Board Games to growing portfolio

MP Ken Clarke announced as BTHA Industry Day keynote speaker

Asmodee Group has entered into exclusive discussions to acquire the companies of the Searainbow Group. Established in 2004, Searainbow Group is a Europe and Asia based toys and games publisher, manufacturer and international distributor, which started in China as Forever Bright, producing educational toys and related specialty items. The company also distributes toys and games to the Asian markets through its subsidiary Wisdom Warehouse. In 2015, Searainbow acquired The Green Board Game Company, and in 2018, the acquisition of Lagoon made Searainbow Group a strong publisher of games and puzzles for gift for UK gift shops. “We are delighted to be joining Asmodee. The resources of a larger group will provide exciting development opportunities, including entrance to more markets and the ability to offer customers a broader and better range of products,” commented Jessie Min, Searainbow Group founder. As well as offering a wider product range, the acquisition will strengthen Asmodee’s educational games publishing and distribution to the European market. The Forever Bright and Wisdom Warehouse acquisitions will also bolster Asmodee’s development in Asia. “As a group, we are eager to offer the best games and tell amazing stories to both children and adults,” said Stephane Carville, president of Asmodee Group. “The great pedigree of educational games in Searainbow’s portfolio will enable us to strengthen our offer with additional trans-generational ranges in both Europe and Asia.”

The British Toy & Hobby Association has secured Ken Clarke MP, to speak at this year’s Toy Industry Day. The annual event, held on 3rd July at Great Fosters Hotel in Surrey, presents an unrivalled opportunity to hear from the longest serving member of Parliament. Ken has held various significant Ministerial posts including Chancellor of the Exchequer and Home Secretary and remains a lively commentator and speaker. A representative from KPMG will also deliver a presentation on current retail trends and the trading environment. The BTHA AGM will take place at 9.30am with the Industry Day commencing at 10.15am. In addition to the keynote speakers, the Toy Industry Day provides an excellent opportunity to network with industry peers in pleasant surroundings and to enjoy a hot buffet lunch. The day’s events will finish by 3pm. Tickets are priced at £50 + VAT, with subsequent tickets £25 + VAT, and are now available. To apply for tickets, please fill in the application form on the BTHA website by Friday 27th April. Please note that capacity is limited, and ticket allocations will begin from the 20th May. For further information, call the BTHA Events Team on 020 7701 7127 or e-mail Rebecca@btha.co.uk.

Kit for Kids acquisition sees Tobar add education to portfolio David Mordecai, CEO of Tobar International, announced the acquisition of the education specialist. Sevenoaks-based Kit for Kids has a strong business in the core education market but recently fell into administration. However, the company has retained major clients and is the market leader in categories such as play carpets and mats. The company also supplies soft play and furniture to schools, nurseries and others in the education sector. David Mordecai commented: “This is a great opportunity for Tobar to expand into the education market and is a natural progression for us. Our first task will be to ensure that Kit for Kids is in the best condition to continue to supply and support its core customers with the products they want. Eventually we will be able to extend its product line to include Tobar products, and also create smaller versions of its existing range to appeal to our customers. I see Kit for Kids as our new education division.” Kit for Kids will remain in Sevenoaks with its existing team. David added: ‘This is another exciting development for Tobar and just strengthens and enhances our offering as a company.”

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News New York Toy Fair brings global toy community together In all, more than 26,000 professionals from 98 countries attended The Toy Association’s 116th North American International Toy Fair in February, to view toys and games across 447,30 sq. feet of exhibition space. “Buyers from around the world, and toy, play, and licensing professionals came to unleash their outer business executive and inner child at this year’s Toy Fair New York,” said Steve Pasierb, president & CEO of The Toy Association. “With a sold-out, energetic show, every square inch of the Javits Centre was used for order-writing, networking, trend-spotting, professional development opportunities, in-booth demos and reveals, and much more. Toy Fair New York drives the $28b US toy market and influences markets around the world.” From veteran brands to first-time exhibitors in the Launch Pad section of the show, Toy Fair’s 1,038 exhibitors unveiled new product lines and showcased key drivers in front of 8,300+ mass and specialty buyers, including delegations from more than 3,000 unique retail outlets and the nation’s top toy sellers. Leading licensing executives were also on-site to scout the hottest trends and forge licensing agreements with toymakers. Overall, more than 10,600 retailers, wholesalers, entertainment executives, importers and buying groups attended Toy Fair. The top five countries represented at the show, not including the US and Canada, were China, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Mexico and Japan. Participants enjoyed more than 30 educational sessions, and took part in roundtables, presentations, and workshops focused on helping the creative community succeed through an expanded Creative Factor educational series, guided by a Creative Factor Advisory Board. The 117th North American International Toy Fair will take place one week later than usual in 2020, running from Saturday 22nd February to Tuesday 25th February, at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.

Toytown arrives in Hull The new Toytown store opened at the city centre Princes Quay shopping precinct on Saturday 23rd March, located in a prime spot on level two. Centre manager John Magee said: “Toytown is well known for its great selection of big brands at fantastic prices, and we’re delighted to welcome it to Hull.” Toytown was first established in Northern Ireland in 1980 and now boats 27 stores in the UK. The opening has seen a number of new jobs created in Hull. John added: “Welcoming a major retailer such as Toytown is great news for the centre as we position ourselves as a family friendly retail destination. Along with high-street and outlet shops, we have Vue Cinema, a 12-lane bowling alley, soft play, Quasar facilities and delicious eateries, so families really can enjoy a fantastic day out.” Alan Simpson, Toytown founder, added: “We are delighted to be bringing the Toytown brand to Hull. We are renowned for our extensive ranges of toys and nursery products and our competitive pricing. We are now open for business and look forward to welcoming customers to our new store in Princes Quay.”

Skyrocket Toys expands UK presence Leading US toymaker Skyrocket has confirmed plans to expand its presence in the UK to support the fast-paced growth of the company’s brands in the region. Amy Saunders has been appointed as Skyrocket UK general manager. Joining from Bandai UK Amy will take the lead in continuing to establish Skyrocket’s brands in the region, increasing sales, and streamlining the demand for its products. Amy commented: “After a happy 18 years with Bandai UK, this is a whole new chapter for me in the toy industry and for my career as a whole. When faced with the opportunity of this new challenge, the proposition was irresistible. I am looking forward to being a part of Skyrocket’s launch of its innovative and exciting new products at retail.” The company is best known for brands including the best-selling Pomsies, Grumblies interactive plush pets and the innovative Sky Viper Drones. This year, Skyrocket is gearing up for the launch of Blume, a line of collectible ‘blooming’ dolls; Pomsies Lumies, the next generation of Pomsies with a colourful and musical twist; and new waves of Pomsies and Grumblies. “It is the perfect time to firmly establish our Skyrocket UK office, when worldwide sales are at an all-time high,” said Shari Mann, senior vice president of international sales. “Skyrocket UK will allow us to keep pace with consumer demand of our products in one of our largest global markets. Together with Amy, we look forward to working with our UK retailers directly to make Skyrocket products widely available in the country. The vast experience she brings will be invaluable in achieving the ambitious goals we have for years to come.”

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News Basic Fun! acquires Playhut Basic Fun!, the Florida-based toy and novelties company, has announced the purchase of all assets of Playhut, the California toy company that produces the award-winning EZ Twist line of indoor and outdoor play structures. Founded in 1982, Playhut has introduced many innovative products that aim to enhance imaginative and educational play. The company’s renowned EZ Twist design system revolutionized indoor and outdoor play by allowing for instant setup and convenient foldaway storage of lightweight popup environments including playhouses, tents, tunnels and games. Jay Foreman, CEO of Basic Fun!, commented: “Playhut is well known for innovation and quality by consumers, retailers and licensors. It ran into serious trouble navigating the challenging retail environment between the bankruptcy of Toys R Us and the fight at retail between brand and price. It’s our mission to reinvigorate Playhut and return the brand to its position as the leader in this very important micro category within the kids’ products space.”


Industry Moves Skip Hop announces two hires The company is expanding its UK team with the addition of two new recruits to its Bedfordshire headquarters. Faye Anderson has been appointed as marketing associate. With a background in digital media campaigns, eCommerce and website management, Faye will be responsible for Skip Hop UK’s social media channels and e-marketing, as well as assisting on all general marketing activities. To support the company’s financial growth, Skip Hop has brought in Suzanne Hayward as UK finance manager.

John Adams strengthens growing team sales team Walter Cummins has joined John Adams as sales agent for Ireland. Walter has a wealth of experience within the toys and giftware sector, and has been an agent for the last 11 years. Joining the UK domestic team as key accounts and new business development manager is Callum Townsend. Callum has been working at John Adams for over three years as a part of the Intex customer care team. John Adams’ sales director, Bruno Gallone, said: “We are delighted to welcome Walter and Callum to the sales team. These appointments highlight John Adams’ commitment to the UK and Irish markets.”

Bandai UK expands senior team with new hires Nigel Kay is appointed as sales director, while Gareth Mitchell joins as operations manager. Nigel has over 16 years’ experience in the Nigel Kay Gareth Mitchell toy industry, having held roles at Hasbro and Mattel after starting in toys at Corinthian Marketing. He has also worked in the food industry at Unilever/ Bestfoods. Gareth has spent 14 years in home entertainment retail, with roles at Virgin Retail and with Entertainment UK. Bandai UK’s managing director Nic Aldridge said: “Nigel and Gareth have joined at a key period of evolution for Bandai, strengthening the team as our portfolio continues to grow. I’m delighted to welcome them both to the team.”

Magic Box appoints Greg Bass as UK & Ireland national account manager Magic Box UK has appointed Greg Bass to the role of UK & Ireland national account manager. Greg will be responsible for managing national and key accounts in the toy channel. He has worked in the toy industry for the last six years, initially in sales at Schleich and most recently as operations manager at Epoch. Julia Cake, commercial director, Magic Box Toys, commented: “We are delighted to welcome Greg to Magic Box; his sales and operational experience will be a great asset to continue building the growth of Magic Box in the UK and Ireland.”

HTI boosts pocket money team with three new appointments HTI Group is strengthening its pocket money team with the appointment of three new members, all of which bring a wealth of great experience and skills to support the company’s ambitious growth strategy in the pocket money sector. Keiran Peoples re-joins HTI as senior commercial manager, responsible for driving pocket money sales, as well as assisting the divisional director with a number of commercial responsibilities. Keiran previously worked for HTI for 13 years and returns to the business with a further three years’ experience in the wider industry. Daniel McLoughlin will be re-joining the business, and will be based in the Hong Kong office, with responsibility for HTI’s Pocket Money supply chain, and Marc Newell will bolster the UK-based design team, with over six years’ Keiran Peoples Marc Newell Daniel McLoughlin experience in graphic design. Colin Houlihan, HTI CEO, commented: “We’re delighted to welcome back some familiar faces, as well as a brand-new hire, as HTI looks ahead at further range developments and product innovations, which will keep the business closer to trends and innovation.”

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Marketing World Mighty Beanz Golden Beanstalks sprout across the UK

Little Tikes announces Play Big Tour The iconic brand is marking its 50th birthday with activity across the UK during April, launching awn anniversary campaign and rebrand: Play Big. One of the brand’s most impressive and playful campaigns to date, the tour will take Play Big to parents and children throughout the UK. Encouraging more families to play, be active and create new memories together, Play Big is focused on getting consumers hands-on with Little Tikes products. Launching at intu Lakeside, the Play Big Tour will run until the 20th April, visiting five shopping centres in total. A 12m x 12m creative play space will appear at each location, fitted out with giant Little Tikes product, including a Rocking Horse, My First Slide and Cozy Coupe, so that adults can join in the fun. Iconic products will also be at the forefront of the tour, for children to enjoy. Michelle Lilley, head of marketing for Little Tikes UK, said: “This is one of many activations we’re embarking on as part of our celebratory year. We couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate our milestone year than engaging with the UK through play. We’re aware that busy parents don’t often get the chance to play with their children as much as they’d like; the tour will encourage parents to take some time out, make memories and play together. We’re welcoming parents, grandparents, guardians, aunties and uncles to come and celebrate play with us over the Easter Holidays.”

Friday 15th February saw nearly 60 locations in the UK feature limited edition Beanstalk shaped FSDUs with Golden Slam Packs on board sprout in-store, as Character Options’ Mighty Beanz Golden Beanstalks campaign officially kicked off. Smyths Toys Superstores and The Entertainer took part in the campaign, with each separate location receiving 48 Golden Mighty Beanz Slam Packs for consumers to enjoy. The event was accompanied by its own website, TV shout outs, digital pre-roll and YouTuber activation. Participating retailers confirmed high demand for the packs. Even before the locations were unveiled, tens of thousands of visits were made to the countdown page to see where the Golden Beanstalks would grow, and since then traffic more than doubled, with more than 100,000 visits to the interactive Beanstalk Map. The stores added to the awareness, creating social media shouts and in-store activity. Kathryn Ludlum, Character Options’ brand manager, commented: “Operation Golden Beanstalk has taken a lot of collective organisation, but the amount of additional awareness for Mighty Beanz it has created is has made it extremely worthwhile. The sales figures are tremendous both for the Golden Slam Packs and across the collection. This latest initiative will definitely add to the collectability of the brand.”

Schleich Red Rabbit retail initiative rolls out The Easter campaign launched on 18th March, running for four weeks across the UK and Ireland, with retailers receiving a red rabbit figure to hide among its Schleich displays in-store. Customers are tasked to find and photograph the rabbit figurine as a part of a social media picture competition. Prizes worth a total of £1,000 are up for grabs for the 20 winners judged to have created the funniest or most inventive photos. Customers can also hunt down huge red bunnies; in addition to the hundreds of small rabbit figures being distributed across the UK, 10 major store partners will also be displaying a giant version as part of their Easter Schleich display. The giant rabbit stands at over a metre tall, will add to the fun in-store and make for even more impressive images. The campaign will be supported across Schleich’s own social media platforms, through blogging activity and instore posters and displays. Paul Dearlove, trade marketing manager, commented: “The Easter Red Rabbit campaign was piloted in 2018 and was a great success, so we are delighted to bring this fun activity to the UK audience on a much grander scale. This is just the first of many initiatives we have across retail this year, which will echo the major uplift in marketing support we are giving our customers in 2019.”

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MAY SHOW 2019 Toymaster would like to invite all Independent bricks & mortar Toy and Model Retailers, in both the UK and Ireland, to attend the 2019 May Show. Over 100 Suppliers will be in attendance at the Majestic Hotel, Harrogate, on the 21st - 23rd May and we hope you are able to join us in making the most of the opportunities offered. For more details and to register online, please use the following link: www.toymastermayshow.co.uk Tel: 01604 674477 Email: brian.mclaughlin@toymaster.co.uk


Opinion

Making digital online a brand safe environment This month, Josh looks at recent measures introduced by YouTube in an attempt to increase safety online and what this means for advertisers in the digital video space.

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ith children’s viewing habits shifting ever further towards digital channels, it has never been more crucial to ensure that tech platforms are protecting children from harmful online content. At the moment, we are never too far away from the latest press scandal relating to a user generated content platform, with YouTube the pariah in the face of the most high-profile criticism. Following the inevitable reaction of advertisers pulling spend from the platform, (which most recently including Disney and Epic Games), YouTube has been forced to act swiftly and publicly to each incident. In response to the recent paedophile scandal, where unsolicited comments were appearing around videos of children, YouTube’s CEO Susan Wojcicki, announced the platform was “no longer going to allow comments on videos that are featuring young minors”. However, the Internet Association has urged caution against this one-size-fits all approach, warning that it could jeopardise both the social and economic benefits that the internet has built up over the last few decades. An example of a victim of the recent comment ban is the Special Books by Special Kids YouTube channel, which serves to give disabled children a voice, and has amassed over 1.3m subscribers. The channel’s founders have recently described their devastation at having their overwhelmingly positive community silenced, claiming YouTube’s ban has been discriminatory and that “channels that are larger or that have corporations or

advertisers behind them are not being impacted at all.” The Internet Association has also been working closely with the government on a recent white paper, with the House of Lords publishing the Regulating in a Digital World report. The paper recommends that Ofcom be given regulatory powers over YouTube to achieve unilateral protection to online users, condemning the platform for having an “unacceptably opaque and slow” moderation process. While many of the details of YouTube’s moderation process are unknown, faced with the impossible task of cleansing all 400 hours of video content being uploaded to the platform every minute, it is easy to get the impression that things are spiralling out of control. As a media agency, we have a responsibility to ensure we are only delivering our clients’ advertising in the most brand safe environments. Therefore, we have been proactive when it comes to YouTube, working with tech partners that allow us to use URL and meta data verification to blacklist over 98% of all YouTube content. This ensures ads are only served around the most brand safe videos possible, adding a level of safety that YouTube is yet to adopt itself. YouTube is not the only video platform that could be entering a new era of regulation. Amid growing reports that Netflix is moving towards an ad-supported model, the video goliath has just received the green light to start setting its own age rating for its shows and films in the UK. This marks the first time a company has been granted

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Josh Quirke

senior digital manager, Generation Media. Tel: 0207 307 7909 Josh.Quirke@generationmedia.co.uk

the stamp of approval by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) to determine its own age ratings and could be the starting point for the self-regulatory system to be extended to other streaming services. The decision to give Netflix self-censoring rights, according to the BBFC, follows new research showing that almost 80% of parents in the UK are concerned about their children seeing inappropriate content online. As the video ad landscape continues to diversify, it is clear that YouTube will have to run a tight ship moving forward, if it is to avoid being capsized by the incoming surge of Netflix and Amazon Video advertising. Generation Media welcomes the drive for increased safety in the online video space, although the measures introduced are still some way from the brand safety capabilities of traditional media channels like TV. However, as we begin to rely less on user generated content platforms and more premium inventory begins to become available, the future is looking increasingly bright for a child-safe digital alternative.



Licensing World Lisle Licensing launches SuperZings licensing programme Magic Box Toys has revealed initial details of its SuperZings licensing programme, in partnership with Lisle Licensing, with deals already struck for two new board games from John Adams and a SuperZings magazine from DJ Murphy. “A licensing programme is a natural progression for SuperZings,” comments Julia Cake, UK & Ireland commercial director, Magic Box Toys. “Series 3 launched earlier this month and sales are already up 130% compared to the launch of Series 2; a statistic driven by tremendous retailer support as well as demand from children keen to find the Ultra Rare character – Mr King. The colourful, comic-book-style world we’ve created for SuperZings offers great licensing opportunities, and we’re delighted to be partnering with Lisle to ensure every avenue is explored. We’re excited to see the different ways in which children can now interact with the brand through games and publishing.” Hitting shelves in June, John Adams is bringing SuperZings to life with the SuperZings Race to Rescue Pressmatic game, suitable from age 4 and containing an ultra-rare Professor K SuperZings character. This will be joined by the SuperZings Battle Game, in which the first player to reach the centre and overcome Enigma wins the game to claim the rare SuperZings character. In the first ever publishing deal for Magic Box, DJ Murphy will be launching a monthly SuperZings magazine. Every issue will come with one Super Hero and one Super Villain SuperZing character. Lisle Licensing’s Francesca Lisle comments: “From the second we saw SuperZings, we knew it would lend itself well to a licensing programme. The games and magazine are just the beginning – we are thrilled to be representing Magic Box.”

Asmodee announces Harry Potter Dobble Asmodee UK, in partnership with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, is proud to announce the launch of Harry Potter Dobble. The new edition of the phenomenally popular game will launch at retail in summer 2019. The new Wizarding World edition of the UK’s biggest-selling game of 2018 will see Harry Potter fans trying to spot the single matching image between two cards in this playful battle of speedy observation. Players will be tasked with picking out the matching images among stylised images of Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, wands, creatures, Hogwarts house crests and more. “Harry Potter Dobble is a fantastic addition to the Dobble series and brings together a top gaming brand with a superb licence,“ said Asmodee UK’s marketing manager, Ben Hogg. “We are confident that it will be a big hit with fans of both properties.” Asmodee recently announced that Dobble has now sold over 1m copies in the UK before finishing 2018 as the No.1 selling game (by value, according to NPD data JanuaryDecember 2018.)

HTI signs deal with UK nursery brand Joie The three-year global deal with multi-award winning nursery brand Joie has been in the making since 2017, and included an early roll out phase with Argos. The deal will see HTI produce a range of prams and pushchairs for children’s dolls, based on the best-selling brand. The range includes a number of replica prams, including the Joie Jr Litetrax pushchair, Joie JR Chrome 3-in-1 Pram, and the Junior Pact. HTI continues to increase its market share, and the Joie deal will further strengthen its growing portfolio of doll prams and pushchairs across leading nursery brands, licensed and own brand ranges. Alison Downie, global licensing and brand director for HTI Group, said: “We are thrilled to be partnering with a leading nursery brand such as Joie; this is a brand we have watched grow rapidly over the past couple of years so it’s an honour to be able to bring a range of replica dolls prams and pushchairs to the toy market. Joie will form an integral part of our range with some strong innovative products launching for autumn/winter 2019.” David Welsh, managing director at Joie, added: “It’s great to see our award winning products be recreated in a small, friendly format for children across the world to play with. HTI was a natural partner for us, with its industry experience and ability to create quality products, it made the whole process very easy.”

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Licensing World Bandai to launch Robozuna range In March 2019, brand new episodes of Robozuna launched in the UK on ITV & CITV, and globally on Netflix, following the successful premiere of the series in autumn/winter 2018. The show, which has garnered strong ratings, saw the ITV Studios and KidsCave Studios co-production become an instant action hit. Following the release of the latest series, Bandai is launching a range of toys from the show this month. Featured in the launch range are Action Figures, a 30cm feature Mega Mangle, and the Team Veredus Transporter, while all the key characters are included in the Robozuna Battle ‘N’ Build Action Figures range. Featuring a twistable waist and spinnable arms, each 6cm finely detailed, poseable Battle ‘N’ Build figure comes with an attachable arena block. These blocks can be clipped together to build a Robozuna arena, or used for storage and display. Kids can swap the heads and arms between the figures to create their own unique Combatabot. Priced at £4.99 RRP, there are 24 characters to collect in Season 1. Also available is the Robozuna Battle ‘N’ Build Multipack, which features three Combatabot figures and one exclusive figure. The Robozuna range will be supported with a heavyweight TV campaign from launch, pre-roll campaigns and costume character appearances at retail.

Baby Shark toys available from Jazwares The Pinkfong Baby Shark song is a global sensation with over 10b YouTube views, a top 10 chart hit in the UK and a further nine weeks in the top 40. Distributed by Jazwares, WowWee’s new toy range includes stackable, collectible Pinkfong Baby Shark Family song cubes and iconic Baby Shark plush, available in 25cm and 30cm sizes. They can be squeezed to hear the Baby Shark song, so fans can sing along with Baby Shark, Mummy Shark and Daddy Shark. (They can be squeezed again to silence them). Already a hit with fans, social media influencers and mummy bloggers, the toys are ideal for ages 2 and up. From Summer onwards, Jazwares will be introducing new toys and plush into the line-up. The range will be supported with marketing campaigns, PR, influencer reviews and digital activity.

The Panini Group and Epic Games partner to launch Fortnite trading cards and stickers Panini has announced a new partnership with Epic Games to create a range of Fortnite collectibles. The new Fortnite-branded collection will include trading cards and sticker albums, which will be regularly updated to keep pace with the game’s continually evolving concept. The collections will feature characters from Fortnite, as well as various backgrounds, screen grabs and items (including weaponry) that are featured in the game. ”Fortnite collectibles represent a significant opportunity for Panini’s worldwide retail network, as consumers actively engaged in the game and Panini’s core collectors - are of a similar profile,” explained Panini’s group licensing director, Peter Warsop. “Given our heritage of engaging fans all over the world, and the synergies that exist with Epic Games, we are excited to bring Fortnite trading cards and sticker collections to the marketplace. We are confidently predicting widespread and continuous purchasing activity at the highest levels throughout the campaign. We feel privileged to be selected to work on such a high-profile franchise, and look forward to working alongside Epic and IMG to create a remarkable selection of products.” Launching imminently, the trading cards and sticker albums will be phased into the majority of Panini’s territories and will be available via its global distribution network of more than 1m points of sale.

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NPD Insight Uncovering growth in the UK toy market This month, Rory delves beneath top line data which suggests that the UK toy market is going through a challenging period. By looking deeper, he discovers an encouraging number of toy manufacturers outperforming and adding value to the market.

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he UK toy market has certainly faced some challenges over the past year, and some of these have continued into 2019. A challenging retail environment is being exacerbated by low consumer confidence, but thankfully there are still plenty of success stories out there. Some are very visible; the performance of MGA over the last 18 months would be the most obvious example. But what’s been happening below the usual top 20 or top 50 lists that we’ve become accustomed to focusing on? NPD’s store level measures and some further analysis reveal a different picture, uncovering some less well-known manufacturers that are performing strongly.

from Roblox and then a real boost from Fortnite in the last quarter of the year. There were also notable performances from Ravensburger, Zuru and HTI in the top 20, with all three companies growing market share in 2018. There were also highlights for less wellknown manufacturers. One of the most striking increases has come from Canal Toys, which has gained more than £2m in 2018, moving the manufacturer up from just inside the top 200 to No.77, a position the company is continuing to hold so far in 2019. This strong performance has been driven by the Arts & Crafts supercategory. In fact, YTD 2019, Canal is close to a top 10 Arts & Crafts manufacturer at No.12, and when we look at value velocity for February 2019, it is the 6th top performing Arts & Crafts manufacturer.

Rory Partis

Director UK Toys & EuroToys NPD The company has also recently moved into girls’ collectibles with the launch of Moji Pops, so is well placed to grow again in 2019. In Games & Puzzles, the performance of Orchard Toys is a good example of growth, moving up to No.33 toy manufacturer so far in 2019. Orchard Toys is also the No.6 Games & Puzzles manufacturer in 2019, and is growing this year too. The supercategory of Games & Puzzles is showing a trend which is familiar across the toy market: the top three manufacturers in the supercategory are declining, while the rest of the top 10 are actually in growth. However, as the top three make up 40% of the supercategory, there is an overall decline - despite other manufacturers adding nearly £500k in value so far this year.

The NPD UK toys database includes just under 500 active toy manufacturers for 2018, but only 27 of those manufacturers grew their value by more than £1m A manufacturer very much at the heart of the versus the year before. As the market declined, that collectibles trend is Magic Box, which climbed to might not be a huge surprise, but a closer look shows the ranking of No.67 in the toy market in 2018 and that the number of manufacturers that showed any has bettered that in 2019 to now be ranked at No.50 As ever with data, you can paint whichever kind of increase was 184. So, over a third of all the toy in the UK. Magic Box is the No.3 manufacturer in version of the picture you would like to see. But it’s manufacturers in the UK experienced some growth Action Figure Collectibles and No.2 in value velocity. hard to argue with the numbers at the moment; in 2018. Examining the UK toy market the manufacturers is undoubtedly in detail, MGA is experiencing a unsurprisingly turbulent period. the top gainer, but That said, by looking another company a little deeper, there The value of the top 10 has dropped a percentage point but the rest of the top 100 have worthy of mention is are a number of gained share. Jazwares. 2018 saw toy manufactures the company break outperforming and Top 10 Manf in to the top 10 in the adding value to toy market for the the market. If they 11-20 Manf first time, with a rise can do this in the of 14 places over the current economic 21-50 Manf past 12 months. This climate, just think is predominantly what they might be 51-100 Manf down to a great able to achieve once performance from The Rest consumer confidence Fingerlings, which improves. was the No.1 property 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% -3% -2% -1% 0% 1% 2% 3% in Youth Electronics PP Share Change Value % for 2018, but there Source: The NPD Group | Retail Tracking Service | 2018 vs 2017 were also strong sales

Manufacturer Weight UK Toys

DocumentThe classification: Client/Third Party Confidential NPD Group, Inc. | Proprietary and confidential

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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.

Licence Progression Total Licence

Rank Jan 2019

Rank Feb 2019

How to Train Your Dragon

#102

#17

2019 has been widely tipped to be a huge year for movie related toy sales with an impressive line-up of movies spread out over the year. How to Train Your Dragon 3 was released at the beginning of February in the UK and has lifted the licence into the top 20 licences for February. Sales are split between Action Figures and PS Toys but there are also sales in Plush and Puzzles.

Fastest Growing Properties in Toys Top Gaining Properties

YTD Feb 2019 vs 2018

£0

£1

£2

£3

£4

L.O.L. Surprise! Harry Potter Fortnite Lego Harry Potter Lego The Movie Funko Pop! Jurassic Park/World Poopsie How To Train Your Dragon Fantastic Beasts

Value Gain (£m) DocumentThe classification: Client/Third Party Confidential NPD Group, Inc. | Proprietary and confidential

Source: NPD EPoS Retail Tracking/ UK YTD Feb 2019

The big trend of 2018 has continued into 2019, with L.OL. Surprise! being the top gaining property in the toy market, and Harry Potter as the No.2 gaining property. Fortnite is at No.3; with items from Jazwares and Hasbro being joined by Worlds Apart, the licence should have a great year. The Lego Movie is also the 5th top gaining property, after the film opened in cinemas at the start of February. Another popular cinema opening, How to Train your Dragon is the 9th top gaining property in 2019.

Series

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Talking Shop

Retailers Seize the Day This month, Toy World editor Rachael Simpson-Jones caught up with independent retailers to hear how they are maximising opportunities for growth in the current trading environment, and how this month’s featured categories are performing for them.

Alan Simpson -

SMF Toytown, multiple locations

I’ve just disembarked the ferry from Ireland to start a 12 day trip on the mainland overseeing a number of different things, and I’m now heading 200 miles down to York. It’s a busy time for us but needs must; you’ve got to take the opportunities when they arise. Our team started on our new Hull store at Princes Quay Mall on Monday 18th March and had it open on Saturday 23rd. This is an approach we’ve developed over the years, taking possession of an empty unit on a Monday and turning it into a fully functioning store, ready to welcome customers, on the following Saturday. We’re really quite slick at what we do, and because we do everything ourselves - from installing shelving to stocking and cleaning - we don’t have to rely on contractors. Following the opening of that store, I headed to a nursery fair for two days, and then on to Portsmouth, to interview for staff positions at our new Cascades Shopping Centre store. And then, finally, I enjoyed a couple of days of golf in Scotland to unwind a little. At the beginning of this month we opened a toy-only store in Washington (Newcastle) at The Galleries shopping centre, and for Easter we’re opening the Portsmouth unit at The Cascades. In May and June we then have new units opening up in Sheffield’s Crystal Peak Shopping Centre, Aberdeen’s Trinity Centre and Uxbridge’s intu Centre, where we will take over the old Toys R Us pop-up unit. There’s always the possibility of more openings

for Toytown this year; while the aim is to open all our new stores by the end of June, if a ‘no-brainer’ opportunity for another comes out the woodwork we will always consider it. It’s been a busy first six months for Toytown, and business is good. We’re 20% up on last year, which is an excellent result considering that retail is supposed to be on its knees. Among all our new openings last year were three particularly big locations, compared to our average store footprint – Glasgow, Dundee and Lisburn – and they have quickly become our first, second and third best performers. In several of our new openings we’ve also taken on former Toys R Us staff members; this works really well for the business as they are knowledgeable about toys and can get to grips with our systems quickly.

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Overall, while we’re being aggressive with our expansion, I’ve also turned down more approaches from shopping centres than I can recall. Instead, we’re taking our pick of the centres we want to be in. When Toys R Us went under there was a void in the market; Smyths picked up a chunk, The Entertainer picked up a chunk, and so did we. You have to seize these opportunities as they arise and with the number of retail closures at the moment, more will surely pop up. We are a well-funded business with a very strong balance sheet, and we continue to plough profits back into the company so that we can invest elsewhere. We have the backing of many of the major suppliers, and always look for win-win scenarios with landlords. New openings are more of a logistical problem than anything else; we could be looking at a 30% increase this year, on top of the 20% increase last year, so getting stock in the right place at the right time is a juggling act. However, we have a great team in place including the guys back home who will drop everything to make things happen when they need to. We work well as a group of people, and it’s no exaggeration to say that we simply couldn’t do it without both the Toytown team and the backing of our suppliers. Retailers like us are sorely needed; with so much contraction in the market, and so few specialists geared for expansion, the shrewd supplier is the one supporting those retailers that can grow their presence in the market.


Talking Shop In terms of collectibles, L.O.L. Surprise is still a best-selling brand and the Ryan’s World ranges are also performing really well. We’re not any different to your average general retailer in terms of stock; we don’t carry lines unique to us, instead aiming to provide on what the public is looking for. Therefore, keeping the highest profile brands in stock is one of our biggest issues, as it is for many independent retailers. We have no intention to go down an ownlabel route. We want to work with suppliers to stock domestic ranges, and complement those with the FOB offering we run very successfully through AIS’ plaY-room buying group. We also feature a lot of close-out lines, which we blend in with our offering. When a customer comes into a Toytown store they see a core toy offering which includes all the brands

they would typically expect to see. Games is a unique category, tending to really come into its own during the last few weeks of the year. We are still seeing success with Rubik’s Cubes, Hasbro family gaming, John Adams, Ravensburger and Trefl puzzles, as well as Orchard Toys offerings. We stock all the pre-school brands too, and go in heavy on Fisher-Price and VTech. We’ve just done a deal with Chicco to feature bays of its products in all stores, while Tomy and Lamaze is still very strong too. Pre-school is a major part of our core business strategy, and we’ve created an excellent balance across our range. We were a founding member of plaY-room, and I would say Toytown is its biggest member by a long way. We’ve always worked really well with the group

on the import side, and regularly pass on offers to other members so they can piggyback with us on volume. The central invoicing system plaY-room has is second to none. It’s a superb organisation from the top right down to the bottom. The Independent Toy & Gift Show is truly outstanding, with on-site catering and free parking. Suppliers love going to this show because the setup in Solihull makes exhibiting so easy. Truth be told, Toytown is big enough that it doesn’t really require a buying group; the fact that we are still plaY-room members speak volumes to the huge respect and admiration we have for the group. It’s nothing but a pleasure working with it.

Clair Letton - Wigwam Toys, Brighton

Business has been steady so far this year, although we noticed that March was quieter than it has been in previous years. This is possibly due to uncertainty surrounding Brexit; numerous reports have indicated that consumer spending is being reined in, as people weigh up what’s essential versus what’s desirable. Our top three games are always Dobble from Asmodee, Pass the Pigs from Winning Moves, and Tenzi. As a parent, the appeal for me is that these games are easy to transport and simple to learn, while as a businesswoman they are attractive propositions because they can be demoed to customers quickly and represent what I think of as ‘whole family’ games. Children can play alone, in pairs or groups, or with other players of multiple ages and abilities. We

recently added Sleeping Queens, Sushi Go, Rat a Tat Cat and Slamwhich to our games range. Again, these games are not hugely complicated and are nice and compact, so they can travel with kids and families on the go. As ever, Lego Minifigures is our number one collectible/pocket money line. Hot on Lego’s heels is Pokémon, which is on an upswing again due to the upcoming Detective Pikachu Movie, which is set for release in the UK in early May. Remaining on trend into 2019, blind bags continue to be incredibly popular. I love Basic Fun!’s Little Lucky Lunchbox range at the moment. Coming in at a slightly higher price point, the Cuteitos and The My Little Pony ranges, also from Basic Fun!, have been huge for us too. Our best-selling pre-school items at the moment are from the Fisher-Price vintage range; the Snoopy Pull Along and Record Player in particular. We have recently expanded our book offering and have found it to be hugely popular with our customers. During the Easter holidays onwards, as the weather improves, we sell large quantities of buckets, spades and outdoor toys. We also stock a wide range of balls and kites; at the right price points, they sell through quickly. Wet and windy days, such as the ones we saw recently during storms Freya and Gareth, usually keep customers at home. However, as Wigwam Toys is on the school run route to several local schools, parents and kids have to pass by a couple of times a day, therefore inclement weather doesn’t necessarily have a negative effect on trade. We are lucky enough to have a cafe and bakery next door with outdoor seating, and another just a few doors down. Good weather means customers who visit us will stop for coffee afterwards, and customers who stop for coffee come and visit us

when they are all fuelled up. As I mentioned earlier, March was quiet and I think it’s fair to say that we have noticed a decrease in the average spend per customer. Anecdotally, our customers tell us that they’re very concerned about what will happen as a result of the Brexit proceedings, and are being cautious with their spending as a result. Most of our suppliers have increased their prices since the referendum, citing Brexit as the reason, and this has also impacted on trade. Personally, I’m concerned about the state of the country and economy post Brexit; I think it’ll have a negative impact on both the economy and small businesses. Our business doesn’t benefit from economies of scale, doesn’t have huge amounts of money in the bank and cannot stockpile items. As many of our suppliers have their warehouses in the EU, or are based there, we’ve already been warned of potential delivery disruptions and supply chain problems. I’m sure that we haven’t seen the last of price increases, and fully expect the delays and disruptions to deliveries we’ve been warned about to happen; unlike us, large chains are able to stockpile items, which could cause shortages of some product. Not only that, buying large quantities now gives our bigger competitors the advantage of being able to sell them at a later date at a better price, undercutting us, which will obviously have a knock-on effect. I’d love to be able to offer our customers some inspirational dress-up options this year. We’re chatting with a couple of brands now, and I’m really excited about what they have to offer. We’re also putting the finishing touches to a new website at the moment; it’ll be great to be able to reach customers further afield during 2019.



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indie viewpoint

John Hughes - Look Around Toys, Anglesey Our business depends quite heavily on tourism, so at the moment it’s a little quiet. Easter is later this year, meaning that the caravan parks aren’t in full swing quite as early as we want them to be. Summer is always wonderful though. We see the same kids, parents and grandparents coming back year after year on their holidays, and they’re always delighted to find that we are still here and still trading, especially with so many small independent retailers struggling to stay afloat. Look Around is the only toy store on the island, so for customers to come back time and again to support the business is fantastic. We’ve been in business since 1967; I’ve seen a lot of change and a lot of people come and go. There used to be a twice-yearly trade fair in Llandudno, with 20 or 30 retailers attending and plenty of reps to talk to, but we don’t have anything like that anymore. Our location can be a challenge - I’d never expect a rep to travel here, only to find I’m not in that day, and I don’t blame them for preferring to conduct business over the phone. But I’m fortunate enough to have a few major suppliers that look after me really well from afar, namely Lego, Britains, Playmobil and Siku – I call these my big four – as well as VTech. It’s just more convenient, and I’m very lucky to receive such great support from my major suppliers. Katie, the VTech rep I deal with, is wonderful and is following in her father’s footsteps as he was also a rep. Being on an island, we do get some awful weather, but it’s not so much the weather that affects business – its online shopping. You do get people that come in, look at the product and say they’ll be back the next day, and you very well know they won’t be; they’ll buy the toy online. To be fair it’s not just me that suffers with this, a lot of retailers do. I know several other shopkeepers that report the same problem. However, one of our strengths is that, because we are situated in an agricultural area, we see a lot of demand for Siku die cast and Britains tractors from Tomy. These always sell really well. I’ve been running this shop a long time, and I know exactly what works and what my customers are attracted to. Like most independent toy retailers, I’ll only sell high quality toys, and if a customer comes back in saying their toy is broken - which is very rare - I’ll happily just give them another. It’s beyond me why some retailers are leery about replacing faulty or broken products. Pre-school products from VTech are a consistent seller for us, as are Playmobil play sets. We also sell a lot of jigsaw puzzles, mainly from Gibsons, ranging from pre-school options right up to very complex 2,000-piece ones for serious puzzlers. If you’ve ever spent a rainy summer holiday in a caravan, you’ll know why they do so well for us here in Anglesey! Likewise, games do well – a lot of families won’t bring their games with them on holiday, so will pop into our shop to pick some up. We offer the traditional favourites that families know and love, and they sell well. The toy industry is certainly going through a rough patch, and it’s not easy to run a toy shop these days. I wouldn’t like to be a retailer with five or six staff to pay and only clearing £200. I have two part time staff that run the business for me if I go away, but staff, electricity, rates and tax all adds up, and I don’t envy anyone in that position. I wish we knew what the rest of this year holds, but perhaps that question should be asked of the lady in Number 10. I admire Mrs May very much, but do I wish they would just sort out what’s going on. The number of times I have been told recently: “Sorry, I can’t give you a price on that until Brexit is sorted out”. It’s anyone’s guess which way it will all go. Whatever the outcome, I hope to be in business for a fair few years to come; if I was at home all the time, my wife and I would drive each other round the twist. I’ve just turned 77 years old, and I hope I’ll still be here at Look Around toys when I’m 87.

Mark Buschhaus and Stephen Barnes Toy Barnhaus

Life in the fast lane

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rade has been a bit mixed over the last few weeks. Thankfully the Toy Barnhaus satellite has now produced some rain, after two weeks of warm sunshine. The warm weather over half term definitely did not help business, but we came out of February just about flat. The first half of March has been OK, but the later Easter year makes it difficult to compare with 2018 trading. This time last year, the Squishies craze was in full force, along with lots of new L.O.L. products arriving, so there are big figures to chase. We have our fingers crossed that there will be another volume craze coming soon that will help – we have had looms, with have had spinners, we have had Squishies; here’s hoping something else comes along. Other than the obvious L.O.L. best sellers, we have introduced new lines from Canal Toys - its bath bomb and slime ranges offer a good variety of price points, and are proving to be strong sellers at a good margin. Another range that has picked up again is Pokémon. A reliable evergreen for us, the latest Team Up release has been the best for a while. Scruff-a-Luvs from Worlds Apart has been very popular too, with the new Blossom Bunnies looking like they will be in high demand for Easter. We have used the last month to visit suppliers that we did not see at Toy Fair. For the first time, we went up to see MGA in Milton Keynes, and were very impressed by the showroom. We can’t talk about a lot of what we saw, but needless to say, there is no sign of L.O.L. or Poopsie going away anytime soon, with exciting innovations in the pipeline. It is obvious that MGA is making an effort to invest heavily in new product innovation, and we can’t wait to stock the new introductions. However, the highlight for us was sitting in full size Little Tikes Cosy Coupes - and the lunch was very good too! Pre-school is a massive category for us now. With kids exiting toys earlier and earlier, the pre-school category is one where they are all still engaged fully in toys. The Fisher Price Classic range from Basic Fun has been a huge success, with parents liking the nod back to their own childhood. Within licensed pre-school, Peppa is our biggest character and shows no sign of slowing down. Paw Patrol is now over four years old, but is still very strong, and new themes encourage continued collectability within the range. Launching this month is Top Wing from Hasbro, and we have high hopes that it will do well too. One thing we haven’t mentioned so far in the “B” word! Hopefully by the time you read this, something will have been agreed. Although toys are less vulnerable than other sectors, we have had emails from several suppliers planning for a no-deal Brexit. It is certainly still on customer’s minds when they plan what they are happy to spend. On a more positive note, Toy Barnhaus has just turned 10 years old; we will try not to celebrate too much at the pub. All birthday cards and presents gratefully received. We’ll try and find room in the warehouse.

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Keep ’em coming back for more Rachael Simpson-Jones finds out what’s hitting the shelves this year for young collectors.

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t will come as no surprise to anyone that MGA’s L.O.L. brand remains very much a colossus in the girls’ collectibles space, with NPD confirming that it’s currently the top gaining property in the toy market. That is quite a feat when you consider that in 2018, L.O.L. Surprise! was the largest toy property overall, holding first position in six out of 13 global markets, and contributed massively to the 9% global growth of the Dolls supercategory. With such an established behemoth in the girls’ market, opportunities in the somewhat less crowded boys’ space are ripe for the

taking, and 2019 has seen a number of innovative new offerings roll out to tempt fans. Zappies has launched its own-IP range, Gearheads, which taps into the tried and tested love of vehicles. Combining unboxing, crashing, collectability and display, the range includes cars, planes, trucks and vans

to ensure there is something to appeal to everyone. To provide additional play value, a tyre of each surprise model doubles up as a launch pad and display platform. “Gearheads is a brand with an experience behind it, and is arguably far more elaborate than some other collectibles in the marketplace,” explains Stephen Suckling, managing director, Zappies. “The details and quality sets the range apart; the tools used to unbox the tyre are made of real metal. Gearheads can be stored and kept on display too, rather than discarded after a few minutes of play.” Primarily targeting boys aged 4- 8, Zappies is aiming to grab kids’ attention with its Gearheads range before digital gaming comes into the picture, providing a grown-up experience through the use of tools and mechanisms. “Gearheads will be supported with a considerable ongoing social media and TV campaign,” adds Stephen. “Social media will include YouTube, where our sizzler campaign is already underway, and we will be TV advertising across UK and Ireland children’s TV channels including Nickelodeon, Milkshake, Cartoon Network and many more. We’ll be supplying Gearheads in retailer-friendly packaging, with merchandised units available for in store displays, while frequent consumer competitions will also run throughout the year.” Building on the success of its Monster Jam master toy range, Spin Master has taken the iconic monster trucks and shrunk them down to collectible 1:64 scale. With over 100 die cast trucks to collect, fans can use their favourite trucks to recreate the magic of the stadium show at home. “Our commitment to continued innovation is

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reflected in the meticulous details and features of all our lines,” says Phil Hooper, commercial director UK, Spin Master. “Our die cast Monster Jam trucks stand out for this very reason; we thrive on pushing the boundaries of imagination and fun. We are excited that Monster Jam fans can simulate real action and can now play beyond the events they know and love.” To drive awareness and excitement for the toy range, Spin Master will be hosting a number of engaging store events ahead of the official Monster Jam Trucks UK Tour, which kicks off in May. The events will give fans the chance to get up close and personal with a real Monster Jam truck, as well as take part in fun challenges and competitions. Phil adds: “TV advertising will remain key to supporting our products, alongside extensive digital campaigns including influencer outreach.” Away from vehicles, Worlds Apart is seeing success with its licensed Fortnite range of 2” collectible


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Pocket Money & Collectibles

mini figures. Priced at under £5, the line offers an affordable option for fans of the smash hit game, and one that is trusted by parents and kids alike. By signing a licence like Fortnite, Worlds Apart can benefit from the almost constant refreshment that the game (and brand) undergoes. New characters and skins (outfits, for the uninitiated) are released every week, fuelling excitement among the game’s enthusiastic young fanbase. “We’ve adopted a collector’s approach, leveraging top influencers to drive engagement, the cool factor and collectability,” outlines brand manager Maddi Tiscoe. “Our ‘You never know who’s dropping next’ strategy allows us to constantly reward fans; character rarity and the anticipation of the next character drops means there’s constant freshness for consumers – and this is matched by our marketing. We’re engaging kids with celebrity and influencer endorsements, multiple TVCs throughout 2019, and first look reveals at consumer events, including Insomnia 64, one of the biggest gaming festivals in the UK.” Testament to the game’s continued popularity, Fortnite-specific sections in-store are becoming more established. Worlds Apart’s extensive range of figures, with limited editions and rare characters plus multiple play sets to come, gives retailers ample opportunity to bring a Fortnite scene to life for younger fans. With in-store theatre an increasingly important part of a shopping experience among consumers, this approach could help boost sales of Fortnite products over the coming months. Now a licence in its own right, Magic Box Toys’ SuperZings brand has been a big hit for the company. The launch of Series 3 has got off on good footing, up 130% versus SuperZings Series 2. Heavyweight TV and marketing campaigns, along with YouTube webisodes, help drive the success, as well as fans’ desire to find the ultra-rare character Mr King. With one-packs retailing at 90p, up to play sets at the upper end at around £25, the property offers options to suit all budgets and pockets. Magic Box’s new IP Moji Pops is likewise enjoying a positive reception. Following the recent successful

launch of Series 1, Series 2 hits shelves on 13th September with a focus on key price points and collectability which extends the play pattern for children. “This brand is also a great example of how collectibles are evolving to deliver a deeper experience – the emotional, mindful edge to MojiPops brings a richer experience for children and parents alike,” says Julia Cake, commercial director, Magic Box Toys. “Each blind-bagged character has a removable double-sided face, which collectors can flip over between emoticon-based expressions depicting a variety of sentiments. Kids can also swap faces completely with another character in the collection.” Both Moji Pops and SuperZings are being supported in the marketplace with increased social media activity and in-store support packages as well as extensive PR campaigns, following last year’s award-winning efforts; the SuperZings launch campaign, created and implemented by Playtime PR, was named Integrated Campaign of the Year at the PRCA (Public Relations & Communications

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Association) Dare Awards. Magic Box also offers retailers an extensive range of assets for in-store activity. “From window displays kits and a wide range of FSDUs to suit the retailer, to our TV adverts which can run in-store, everything is designed to create in-store theatre and amplify noise and excitement around the brands,” says Julia. Spin Master is also introducing a number of new additions for the girls’ collectibles category, Phil Hooper tells Toy World. “Hatchimals Colleggtibles Season 5 Mermal Magic has been released, while our newest launch, Lollipets, offers a whole host of interactive animal friends to bring something different to the collectibles market for 2019,” he says. “Twisty Pets, a fun fashion statement with a twist, also continues to be a hit with collectible fans.” Animals are also on the way from Topps. Among the seven new collectibles ranges the company has launched in the first quarter of 2019 is I Love Llamas. Tapping into the current booming trend for all things llama, kids can collect 12 blindbagged, flocked figures with cute facial expressions, plus a collectors’ checklist. “Launching and planning seven new lines shows a healthy and very competitive market place,” says Steve Connor, director of UK sales, Topps. “Our latest miniature launches allow children to play physically, taking them away from the content streaming devices that we all perhaps spend too much time on. The collectibles category remains robust and we are delighted to promote the range with TV advertising, digital campaigns and influencers, while continuing to work closely with our retail partners, from multiples to independents.” Steve adds: “Playing, collecting and swapping help develop a range of skills, and here at Topps we love to see the interaction our ranges encourage among kids.” Over the next few pages, we take a look at the latest collectible ranges kids will be itching to get their hands on.



Q&A

MGA

Reveal appeal - the rise of L.O.L. Surprise! C

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With MGA Entertainment’s L.O.L Surprise! continuing to dominate the toy charts, Toy World sat down with Andrew Laughton, MGA’s Senior Vice President UK, to find out if the collectibles range can beat its 2018 performance this year, and what predictions – if any – can be made about the months ahead. 2018 was a phenomenal year for L.O.L. Surprise! – at what point did you realise just how big it was going to be? We thought L.O.L. Surprise! would perform well based on pre-reads from the USA, but never in my wildest dreams did I think it would be as big as it is now. Even the big man himself – Isaac Larian – is amazed that a brand like L.O.L. Surprise! ended up holding 7 of the NPD Top Ten Toys slots in 2018. As far as I’m aware from experience and speaking to our customers, it’s never happened before. This meant that there was no way to predict L.O.L. Surprise’s success - there was no benchmark to work off. It’s beyond all our expectations to have achieved such huge numbers. In the first six to nine months, it was clear that L.O.L. Surprise! was selling fast. At first, we never had all our customers in stock at any one time, so we didn’t have a clear view of the brand’s full potential or how big it would get. There have been some suggestions that MGA is deliberately keeping stock short – I can promise you that this simply isn’t true. We’re trying to be as fair as possible to all of our customers. The reality is that the success the brand has enjoyed makes it impossible for us to keep everyone stocked 100% of the time. It’s a balancing act and we’re doing our best to be fair across our entire customer base.

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Q&A

MGA really important to us.

Given the incredible performance in 2018, how do you go about forecasting for 2019?

We also want to avoid oversaturating the market. The ongoing question is where that level of saturation is. We know how much we can make, and we think we know how much the market can sustain, so we can allocate accordingly. I look at things with just my UK head on, but there is a big MGA world outside of the UK; while I am fighting for my share of the business, my colleagues are obviously fighting for theirs too.

With L.O.L. Surprise! we’re keen to avoid stagnation. Newness is crucial; we can’t just keep rolling out dolls in balls and expect them to remain as popular. The new #Hairgoals come in a hairspray can, and there is even more innovation coming through for autumn that I can’t tell you about, as I would get in enormous trouble. Let’s just say that this innovation should maintain a strong performance for the core business. The core business is also supported through licensing, which helps to grow the brand as a property and will also boost the toy side of things too.

Realistically, what are your aims for the L.O.L. brand for 2019 and 2020 – can you match or even top last year’s performance?

When it comes to forecasting, I would like to think that the core L.O.L. business still has the potential to grow this year, plus we’ve got incremental new lines coming through. Expectations aren’t to increase year after year at the same rate and predicting anything for this year is tricky, to say the least, but we’re excited about what’s to come.

The success of L.O.L. Surprise! last year was based on an unusually tight SKU count – to what extent will you be managing line expansion this year? L.O.L. Surprise! Dolls, Pets and Lils will continue as our core lines at the heart of the brand, and there’ll be some exciting range extensions through the rest of 2019. The L.O.L. Surprise! House took us all by surprise, as it sits at a certain price point; it’s a great example of a product that was totally incremental to the business the year before. However, the House made it into the Top 50 toys in the UK in its first year in the market, which proves that we can add new lines outside the core offering to grow the brand. This strategy will continue in 2019.

Is it also important to manage retailers’ expectations when it comes to numbers, especially for the big items coming through for the autumn winter season? We have a responsibility to Isaac Larian, and to MGA, to sell the product. We also have a responsibility to give the consumer what they want, and to try and ensure a fair share of product across retailers. We’ll always see a number of retailers that won’t enter some price categories. Some retailers wouldn’t carry the House for example, either because it was too expensive for their target audience, or because the box is too big. The core lines, on the other hand, are spread across all retailers, from grocers to independent toy specialists. Managing those numbers fairly is

MGA partners with Terracycle on L.O.L. recycling scheme The partnership with Terracycle will make easier for fans to recycle L.O.L. Surprise! packaging. Isaac Larian took to LinkedIn and Twitter on Global Recycling Day (18th March) to announce MGA Entertainment's new partnership with Terracycle, the global leader in dealing with hard-torecycle or non-recyclable pre-consumer and post-consumer waste. L.O.L Surprise fans can simply collect their packaging and product assets in a cardboard box at home; once the box is filled, they can visit the Terracycle website to get a shipping label before sending the box off for environmentally-friendly disposal. The programme will kick off in the US in May, and will roll out internationally later this year. "Soon all of MGA products and packaging will be recyclable," said Isaac. "We all must do our part to save this beautiful planet for the next generation. #Globalwarming is NOT a 'hoax'. It costs a few pennies more to do this. But it's worth it, and I like the trees and nature too much." Gary Pope, co-founder of KidsIndustries, commented: "This is great news, thank you, Isaac Larian. Now maybe your leadership might persuade others to follow."

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If I was talking to you in 2020, and we’d enjoyed the same amount of success in NPD as we had in 2018, we’d all be very happy. We will grow the business this year; not necessarily at the same level we saw in 2017/18, but I think we’re still looking at a relatively high growth. As for 2020, your guess is as good as mine. There are items we’re shipping later in 2019 that I only saw for the first time at New York Toy Fair. That said, if everything works as it should, if we are sensible about expectations, then I think L.O.L. Surprise! will be a success for many years to come. It’s also worth bearing in mind that there are so many other good products out there, and retailers know best what is working for them. We see competition internally too, with Poopsie for example, which was awarded Doll of the Year at the BTHA Toy Industry Awards. In addition, we presume that the mini-doll segment will continue to grow, while collectibles are selling very well at the moment, relative to the toy market as a whole. I can’t see that changing this year.

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companyfeature

Funko outlines 2019 product releases Referring to itself as a “shining a beacon of hope in the toy market”, Funko is looking forward to another strong year thanks to a comprehensive line-up of blockbuster film releases hitting the big screen in the months to come. Here, the company outlines just what there is for fans to look forward to in 2019. Funko’s popular collectibles brands are seeing global success in sales, thanks to the company’s broad selection of licensed products and continuous development plans. Known for its instantly-recognisable Pop! Vinyl collectibles, Funko has branched out across categories to not only include other collectible figure lines such as Mystery Minis, Pint Size Heroes and 5 Star, but also licensed homewares & gifting ranges and the premium fashion and accessories line Loungefly. The company’s strength in the market speaks largely to its identity as a collector’s brand; the average age of consumers is varied, with an even split between male and female, allowing fans of all ages and interests to engage with Funko products. The cross-generational appeal comes from the easily identifiable characterisation of figures, Funko’s breadth of licences, accessible pricing and placement in many different retail channels. A spectacular slate of cinematic releases planned for the upcoming year makes 2019 a strong period for the licensing industry. Funko will be supporting all major launches with an array of cross-category product lines, appealing to casual and dedicated collectors alike. From Marvel to Disney, Star Wars to Game of Thrones, collectors as well as new fans and Funko enthusiasts can look forward to plenty of new products coming their way. The trend towards nostalgic licences is rooted in Funko’s culture; 2019 welcomes the launch of new products for Jaws (including a 6” Jaws Pop! Vinyl), Batman (to celebrate the Dark Knight’s 80th Anniversary), Ghostbusters, The Simpsons and even NSYNC. Not just satisfied with supporting fans of the world’s hottest licences, Funko is investing in creating striking and fun products for fans of timeless pop culture moments. The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is home to some of the comic-book world’s most loved superheroes, so it’s no surprise that Funko has seen success with the Captain Marvel line. Pop culture fans were able to get their hands on a wide array of products including Pop! Vinyl - a second wave of which was announced a week after the film’s cinematic launch - plus Pocket Pop! Keychains, Dorbz, Loungefly and Pop! Rides. The much-anticipated conclusion to the Avengers franchise sees Avengers: End Game hitting cinemas at the end of April. As a core supporter of the Marvel range, across classic comic book moments and fanfavourite characters from the MCU, Funko has dominated the Marvel collectibles space with products from all categories representing hundreds of characters. Whether consumers are new to the Marvel fandom or are already established collectors, Funko offers an endless supply of products for every superhero and supervillain from its extensive back-catalogue. It’s also an exciting year for collectors due to Funko’s acquisition of Forrest-Pruzan Creative LLC, an acclaimed board game developer. This new foray into the world of board games will allow pop culture enthusiasts to display their fandom through multi-player interaction, introducing Funko to an all new demographic.

Sinco Creations 0161 737 7464 | Daniel@Sincocreations.com Ryan’s ToysReview is the largest YouTube channel in the world, racking up 1.1b monthly views. Tapping into Ryan’s huge following, Sinco is preparing to release a range of licensed toys to the UK market, including battle toys, collectibles, vehicle sets and slime. Gyro spinning racers for hours of action fuelled entertainment, Ryan’s World Spinzals lets kids spin, race, stack and battle, while a ring attachment turns the Spinzal into a finger spinner. Available in four characters – Daredevil Ryan, Gus the Gummy Gator, Superhero Ryan and Combo Panda – kids can choose from a single pack or a twin pack. Gobsmax, quirky characterised balls that open on impact to reveal wacky teeth and a score icon, offer three different gameplay options. Series 1 includes 20 of Ryan’s unique self-created characters, and there are three rare characters to collect. Gobsmax are available in blind-bags, as well as 2-pack and 5-pack blister packs. The Gobsmax play pattern can be extended with the Monster Truck; as kids push the truck along, it will scoop up the Gobsmax characters. Pulling back the mudguards lets kids launch the Gobsmax, while the truck also doubles as handy storage for up to three characters. Each open-box set includes one Monster Truck and an exclusive Gobsmax character, Ryan Racer. The Ryan’s World Collector Case lets fans launch, score and store. To play, collectors simply launch their Gobsmax character into the mouth of the case to score points. The set includes a launcher and an exclusive Gobsmax (Superhero Ryan). Rounding out the range, Ryan’s World Bursterz eggs can be squished and squeezed until they burst, revealing slime and a mystery surprise figurine inside. There are nine designs to collect, featuring coloured, gold, and glow in the dark slime.

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Bandai 020 8324 6160 | www.bandai.co.uk Combining two key trends – the reveal moment and food-themed toys – Bananas lets kids peel tactile, scented banana skin to reveal a variety of surprises and toys. Every Bananas looks, smells and peels like the real thing and contains a collectible Crushie character. Series 2 launches for spring/summer, and sees the introduction of new Rainbow Bananas and new fruits with more Crushies to collect. Moving into autumn, Series 3 will include chocolate-dipped Bananas, new types of fruits and play sets. The range is supported with TV, digital and influencer campaigns, plus social media content. Combining collectible and slime crazes, kids can squish Slurpees Snot Suckers, push the characters’ mouths into the slime and watch them suck it up their noses. Once the Slurpees are full of slime, they can be squeezed to create a stream of ‘snot’. Bandai will continue to refresh and add to the range, with the introduction of three new characters in spring and additional collectible character-led lines later in the year. Running into its second year, Smooshy Mushy sees new themes and play patterns released throughout 2019. Launching in spring, Series 5, Sugar Fix, features new characters housed in gumball containers. Each container also includes a new scratch card game to play alongside the Smooshy app. Autumn welcomes miniatures to the range; the collection of compact sets includes mini Smooshy collectibles packed inside a Smooshyville house that can be used for play and storage. The core pet theme is refreshed into Smooshy Food Sets, with plans to further extend the Smooshy Besties and Babies lines. A second wave of Smooshy Mushy’s sister brand, Smashy Mashy, is planned to hit shelves for the spring/ summer 2019 period. Blind packed in orange ooze reveal cannisters, each character comes with a buddy, keychain accessory, collector poster and game. Rescue Runts is moving in to the collectibles category with the introduction of Rescue Runts Babies. An assortment of 16 different 12.5cm plush creatures, the range has been designed to promote pet care and nurture a child’s love of animals. Sales of Pomsies have exceeded initial targets since the interactive plush pets were launched in the UK for the 2018 Q4 period. The introduction of Pomsie Poos in spring allows children to add to their collection at a pocket-money price point. There are 12 different animal characters to collect, each with a wrap-around, springy tail and a heart-shaped clasp for accessorising.

Posh Paws 01268 567317 | www.poshpawsinternational.co.uk Posh Paws’ comprehensive collection of collectible plush bag clips features many of the characters from this year’s blockbuster films. The company is also offering an entirely new collection from the quality gift brand Nici. Bag clips are easy to display in store, eminently collectible and offer an affordable treat following a visit to the cinema. High on the agenda for Posh Paws this year will be its plush bag clip range based on the successful third installment in the DreamWorks Dragons franchise, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. Recently named as UK and Ireland distributor for the brand, Posh Paws also offers an eye-catching collection of collectible gifts featuring cute characters from the world of Nici. Included in the collection is the Magnici range of 12cm plush characters; magnetised ends allow them to be stuck to metal items around the house for added play value. Also part of the Posh Paws Nici offering is the Nicidoos range. These glittery-eyed and brightly coloured characters are available to collect as 9cm keyrings, or 12cm and 16cm soft toys, all falling under a £10 price point.

Zappies 01273 467624 | www.zappies.com Zappies has announced the launch of Gearhead, a next-generation collectible vehicle range set to hit the UK market in March. This new boys’ range kicks off with the mystery vehicle play set, which offers an experience in itself as kids open, unlock, discover and launch a wave of mystery vehicles. Kids can use the included tools to unlock the crate, in which they’ll discover a ‘loaded’ wheel. Spinning or crashing the wheel will cause it to magically unlock, transforming it into a play set complete with vehicle, ready for launching with the key and push button. There are 24 Gearheads to collect. The vehicle range extends to planes, monster trucks, sports cars, helicopters and a multitude of others, with new options set for wave 2. The 2019 product range will extend into larger expansive play sets for Q4 and the run up to Christmas, with innovative new products to entice and excite Gearhead fans.

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Brainstorm 01200 445 113 | www.brainstormltd.co.uk Brainstorm’s new lines for 2019 not only allow retailers to maximise sales in the pocket money sector but also combine unique selling points with all-important longevity. StikBot Monsters is the latest creation from Zing Toys. Exclusively distributed in the UK by Brainstorm, the new blind capsule collectible range allows children to collect six different monsters including Grim and Aquafang. Each CDU of 16 also includes one highly desirable rare monster - Giggles the Clown. As well as collectability, StikBot Monsters provides endless play possibilities thanks to the free Stikbot app, which lets children create their own scary movies using innovative green screen technology. The movies can then be shared with friends, or uploaded to the popular YouTube channel Stikbot Central. Eugy is new this year, and offers a great choice for parents wanting more sustainable products for their children. Using 100% recyclable card and non-toxic ink and glue, children can create 3D models based on a collection of cute animals and creatures. The easy to follow number sequence construction absorbs and engages children, and results in a durable collection of models inspired by nature. Brainstorm Toys’ Torch & Projectors offer an ideal impulse purchase that parents return to time and again. The handheld torch and projector range has been extended with Pirate and Mermaid additions. The Pirate Torch features 24 swashbuckling pirate themed images that can be projected up to one metre wide on a wall, while the Mermaid Torch includes images of beautiful mythical mermaids to delight any fan of the underwater creatures.

Mookie Toys 01525 722769 | www.mookie.co.uk Pop Pops is a new launch this year, marking Mookie’s entry into the collectible and slime markets. Inspired by the addictive nature of bubble wrap popping, both ranges combine the biggest trends in toys - unboxing, collectability and slime – to create a gross, collectible, pop-able product. The brand includes both boys and girls offerings, in the form of Pop Pops Snotz and Pop Pops Pets. Each range includes 60 characters to collect, ranging in from common to special edition glow-in-the-dark characters. The Pop Pops Snotz Play Set includes a plastic hammer which can be used to slam the bubbles, and doubles as handy storage for the slime and characters. The Pop Pops Pets Play Set includes a carousel so kids can display their collection of characters. Pop Pops will be supported with multi-channel marketing campaigns throughout the year, including TV, digital, PR activity and in-store displays.

Hasbro 0208 569 1234 | www.hasbro.co.uk The Cutie Mark Crew combines the worlds of My Little Pony and Equestria Girls to offer a universe of play and friendships beyond the mirror's portal. My Little Pony Cutie Mark Crew Series 3 has a ‘You’re Invited’ theme, bringing characters together for a spectacular royal wedding. Each blind bag includes a 1.5” figure, a party-themed accessory, a collector card and a cute storage case. Additionally, 12 of the 24 blind-bagged figures include treatments such as neon or glitter. Yellies! interactive toys are squishy, glittery pets that respond to voices. New for spring 2019 are adorable Yellies! Lizard and Yellies! Bunny characters. Each Yellies! toy has its own look and personality and is full of fun surprises. Voice and sound-activated, they respond to talking, yelling, clapping, singing, or even music; the louder kids yell, the faster they go. BotBots, little Transformers robots that sprung to life when a shopping mall was covered by a flowing mist of Energon, are mystery little figures with big personalities. Each collectible BotBots toy is around 1” tall and can change from everyday object to adventurous little robot in three to five easy steps. Transformers BotBots Series 1 features 61 characters across three assortments; a blind bag assortment, 5-pack assortment and 8-pack assortment.

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Pocket Money & Collectibles

Worlds Apart 0800 389 8591 | www.worldsapart.com Worlds Apart & Moose Toys launched the Fortnite Battle Royale Collection in the UK earlier this year. The line of collectible mini action figures is now widely available at major UK retailers, with authentic skins, vehicles and play sets growing into a roster of 100 figures in 2019. This great value pocket money collectible range includes poseable 2” figures which have three points of articulation and include swappable accessories, Back Bling and a display stand. This makes them ideal collector’s items for Fortnite fans of all ages. The collection is backed by an engaging, digital-focused marketing campaign including gaming influencer partnerships with the likes of British YouTuber Vikkstar. During 2019, the range will also benefit from celebrity partnerships, heavyweight TV, digital advertising, retail activations and PR activities. The current collectibles are available in Solo (one figure) Duo (two figure) and Squad (four figure) packs. The initial release featured 16 fan-favourite outfits from the game, including Omega, Cuddle Team Leader, Raptor and Skull Trooper, plus the Limited Edition figure, Die Cast. From May, a new supply of 21 skins, including rare and ultra-rare characters, will be dropping in the form of the Solo, Duo and Squad packs. The first of the collection’s play sets also arrives in May. With building the secret to success in Fortnite, the new Port-A-Fort Building Set will enable kids to speed-build a defensive tower and recreate battle damage just like in the game. The set will also feature the exclusive Infiltrator figure. July welcomes the highly anticipated Battle Bus Display Set. Every Battle Royale begins aboard the Battle Bus, making it the most iconic vehicle in the Fortnite universe. The deluxe play set will make an ideal birthday or Christmas gift for any Fortnite fan; packed with authentic details, it comes with two exclusive figures - Funk Ops and Burnout. The new Mega Fort Building Set, also available from July, features wood, brick, and metal like panels that can be built up and broken apart just like in the game. Three different configurations can be created: the fortress, the blockade barrier and the watch tower. This set comes with the Blue Squire and Tricera Ops exclusive figures. The Battle Royale Collection will benefit from continued new introductions, with product dropping throughout 2019.

Click Distribution 01604 877 888 | www.clickdistribution.co.uk

The Source Wholesale 01306 646 885 | www.thesourcewholesale.co.uk

This year, Click’s portfolio of collectibles is proving to be one of its strongest ever. Following the successful launch of Bendy and the Ink Machine ranges last year, series two of the collectible figures, as well as plush mini figures and slime, will be available this month. June sees the launch of the anticipated Baldi’s Basics master toy range, which Click is confident will resonate with consumers. In April, the company will have inventory of Moose’s fast-selling Fortnite collectible figures. Available in Solo, Duo and Squad packs, demand for this range is far outstripping availability so retailers are advised to order now. Panini also launches its highly anticipated Fortnite Trading Cards this month. With four SKUs available, Click expects the assortment to be one of the hottest entertainment trading card collections to launch this year. Panini’s range of stickers and trading cards for 2019 is looking strong. Already available, L.O.L. Surprise! trading cards and stickers are expected to sell in huge volume. Other highlights from the Panini portfolio include The Road To Euro TCG, Toy Story 4 stickers and Frozen II stickers. The inaugural FA Premier League Adrenalyn TCG and sticker collection will launch later in the year. Finally, Topps continues to develop its own IPs, introducing I Love Llama’s figurines, Ring Pop Pets and I believe in Dragons stickers, among other new lines. Later this year, the company will also launch the latest WWE Slam Attax trading card game along with Champions League Match Attax.

A relative newcomer to the toy industry, The Source Wholesale enjoyed a major breakthrough into the channel in 2018 thanks to its combination of educational STEM products and innovative toys. Waboba, the brand behind the world’s leading water bouncing and high bounce balls, welcomes two new additions in May. The Waboba Wingman, a foldable mini Frisbee suitable for use both indoor and out, is joined by the Waboba LED Flyer. This eye-catching projectile, which is equipped with LED lights and a sensor, can be thrown, kicked or launched through the air and is suitable for both indoor and outdoor play. Both products retail at pocket money price points. A licensed Jelly Belly range is also now available. Fans of the world’s No. 1 gourmet Jelly Bean will love the official licensed scents and flavours in the company’s range of squishy Jelly Belly Stress Toys, slime, and flavoured slushy syrups. Innovation is a key part of The Source’s formula, and this is evident in its uniquely developed Motion Control toy range which includes the new RC Robot in a Can. This product is already proving to be a best-seller since its launch in March.

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Pocket Money & Collectibles

Character Options 01616 339 800 | www.character-online.com Character Options introduces ZooBalloos, a fun brand packed with cute, everlasting balloon animals. The squishy characters come in a variety of different shapes and colours; kids can open the balloon inspired capsule of the ZooBalloo Surprise to find a balloon-inspired character inside. Whacking the Bop-a-Balloos pack will then inflate a cute balloon, ready for display in the colourful stand. The Zooballoos Mega Surprise pack includes two Bop-aBalloos with stands, three Surprise Zooballoos Figures, a sticker sheet and a balloon capsule. There are 28 different characters for kids to collect. A cute, fuzzy creature that unleashes a bubble of slime, kids will be kept guessing as to what their Orb Odditeez Plopzz is about to pop out. With a full set of characters to collect, Plopzz joins the successful Odditeez collection together with Odditeez Slimiballz. Fun, squishy and squeezy, Orb Slimiballz are both eye-catching and highly tactile; kids can squeeze and stretch them to watch the slime inside flow. Orb Soft'n Slo Squishies took home Craze of the Year award at this year’s London Toy Fair. New to the collection this spring is Orb Soft‘n Slo Squishies Designerz; hyper detailed Squishies with big personalities. Each Designerz character is covered in colourful and intricate patterns, such as gritty graffiti and fancy floral, making them highly desirable for collectors. Squishy collectibles can also be found within the successful Mash’ems line up. This collection continues to expand, and benefits from continual refreshment in the form of new characters and properties. This year, collections inspired by films will be high on the agenda, with properties including Captain Marvel, Toy Story 4, The Lion King and Spiderman. These collectibles are a perfect pick-up treat following a trip to the cinema.

Spin Master 01628 535 000 | www.spinmastertoys.co.uk As the worldwide toy partner for Monster Jam, and with a commitment to detailed design and providing an authentic Monster Jam experience, Spin Master’s range of Monster Jam trucks incorporates realistic features and new technology. Embodying the style and swagger of their real-life counterparts, the trucks come complete with BKT tyres, stylised chrome rims, an authentic chassis with chrome detailing and a moulded driver. The range includes the new 1:64 scale die cast Monster Jam monster truck. With over 100 to collect, these 1:64 scale trucks come complete with a driver moulded into the driver’s seat and a collectible Monster Jam driver figurine. 1:24 die cast models feature a larger amount of detailing and graphics, plus a working suspension system capable of absorbing more impact, so the highflying jumps won’t slow them down. Hatchimals Colleggtibles Season 5, Mermal Magic, includes new seashell eggs, increased character detailing and a variety of water transformations. Hatchimals fans can experience the magical underwater world with the new 1-pack, 2-pack and 4-pack, as well as the 6-pack Seashell carton. Collectors will also enjoy the new Coral Castle Playset, as well as the Flower Shower and Water Slide sets, both of which include real water features. Spin Master has also launched Lollipets, cute little animals that will follow their favourite treat. Kids can speed them up, slow them down, or guide them with the brightly coloured candy accessory included as they hug, chase, skip, scamper and explore. Lollipets come in a 1-pack and a 2-pack for fans to collect. All the collectible ranges from Spin Master will be heavily supported by TV advertising and in-store activations, plus extensive marketing and PR campaigns to drive awareness.

Learning Resources 01553 819 380 | www.Learning-resources.co.uk Playfoam Pals, the successful series of collectibles from Learning Resources, combines creative play with discovery. Each Pal is hidden inside Playfoam, a squishy sculpting material which encourages creativity and imagination whilst developing sensory and fine motor skills. The compound is child friendly, won’t dry out, and doesn’t stick to clothes or carpet. Playfoam Pals Fantasy Friends is the latest theme to join the series, alongside Wild Friends, Pet Party and Snowy Friends. Fantasy Friends introduces 13 magical new characters, including Hank the rare wizard, all hiding inside colourful pods of Sparkle Playfoam. Children can open the pod of Playfoam to find their very own customisable Pal, and can pop apart the heads and bodies to enjoy endless creature creations. The Playfoam can also be used to sculpt nests, beds and props for the Pals, further extending the play potential. By adding elements of role-play and nurturing, Playfoam Pals has carved out a distinctive space in the competitive collectibles market. Supplied in a 2-pack, 6-pack or 12pack CDU, the line will be supported by a comprehensive marketing and social media plan throughout 2019.

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Pocket Money & Collectibles

Playmobil 01268 548 111 | www.playmobil.co.uk Children are now able to start collecting, or expand their current collection, with the new Playmobil Figures Series 15 assortment. The series introduces 24 new heroes and heroines for the toy box, all with accessories to discover and collect. Kids can also combine the characters with other Playmobil sets and worlds; the different components of each figure are ideal for mixing with others. The new series is sold in blind packs, adding an element of suspense and excitement for collectors to enjoy. The range includes characters from a wide range of careers and interests, such as American Footballer, Princess, Baker, Pirate and Boxer.

Craze Toys (49) 721 38 13 47 | www.craze.toys Crazes continues to expand its popular Craze Magic range for 2019, in response to continued high demand for its on-trend products. The product portfolio includes a raft of options for fans of tactile compounds, in a wide range of varieties and special effects. Both best-selling products in their respective fields, Craze Magic Dough and Craze Magic Sand continue to perform well at retail. Magic Dough is extremely stretchy and malleable; it melts, breaks up, and bounces like a bouncy ball. Available in 20g, 40g or 80g tins, which are ideal for storing the dough safely, there is a Magic Dough to suit all tastes. The Doc Brown-Design range includes dough in glow in the dark, magic galaxy and ocean metallic options, while the on-trend Unicorn range includes glitter, colourchange and metallic-effect doughs. Special effect Craze Dough is also available in Flamingo, Mermaid, Pineapple (glow in the dark), Sloth, Dinosaur (Predator Black, Mesozoic Red and Palaeozoic Green), Alien and Llama, while fans of gross themes will enjoy the Mr Poo tin of brown dough. Fantastic Fruit, a special variety of Craze Magic Dough, comes in six different delicious smelling fragrances strawberry, watermelon, peach, coconut, vanilla and cherry. Craze Magic Slimy can be pressed, pulled, squeezed or kneaded, and is available in several on-trend designs including Unicorn, Dinorex, Hot Wheels, Fireman Sam, Neon and Metallic, plus a toilet-humour variety which makes funny fart sounds. Craze Magic Slimy is completely odourless as well as BPA- and gluten-free.

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Zuru 01604 401 719 | sales@geemac.biz The latest brand acquisition for Zuru, Sparkle Girlz is a value range of collectible dolls that centres on fantasy and magic. The sub-£5 range is made up of standard-sized and smaller dolls in a host of themes including fairies, princesses, genies, and mermaids. All Sparkle Girlz are housed in cute cones and are available in standard size and mini cones. Cupcake Girlz offers alternatively designed princess and fairy-themed dolls and packaging in the guise of cupcake cases. The Sparkle Girlz Secrets Trade’ms offer five surprises in one; each blind-bagged cone lets children reveal a collectible doll complete with colourful hair to style, plus accessories to dress their collection with and swap with other fans. Dino is the latest Smashers theme, with the innovative Smashball now in the guise of a Dino egg. Each egg houses a selection of mutant, robot, and rock-hard fossil dinos, plus the ultra-rare skull smashers. Children can only discover which ones they’ve collected by smashing the rebuildable Smashball open, allowing them to collect and trade the figure inside. SKUs include the Zuru Smashers one pack, three pack and eight pack, and larger play set items including the Smash Rex Playset. An Epic Egg will hit shelves in July to further extend the Dino theme, play value and collectability; a host of games and toys is included along with three exclusive SmashO-Saurs for children to discover. Zuru recently launched its second wave of 5 Surprise blind collectible capsules to the UK market. The latest theme - Lucky Dip - offers over 200 surprise toys to collect, including rare higher-value chaser toys to further increase collectability. Two additional themed waves will launch in the UK for the Q2 and Q3 periods, with a focus on the popular unicorn trend and well-known shopping brands. Oosh Cotton Candy Cuties combines fluffy, scented compound with slow-rise collectible characters. Available in two sizes and four scents, Cotton Candy Cuties includes six slow-rise cuties to collect, with characters such as Caramel Pudding and Unicorn. Kids can also add to their compound collection with Cotton Candy refill pops.


TV, DIGITAL AND PR CAMPAIGN FROM LAUNCH

Will you take them home and give them all the love they need?

© Goliath 2019 | Tel: 01483 449944 | www.vividtoysandgames.co.uk


Pocket Money & Collectibles

Tobar 01603 397105 | www.tobar.co.uk Jellyballs made their debut appearance at London Toy Fair. The Fruzoos range, a mixture of the popular existing fruit line combined with animals, includes Pine Ape Elle, Melophant, Orangutangerine or Auberguin, Lion Berry and Pear Bear. Plenty of other new Jellyball designs, including rainbow colours and sharks, are also available. The new Angry Birds licence includes slime and light-up gadgets. This range also features six Angry Birds characters in the form of the popular Jellyballs, and a blind-bag collection of squishy versions designed to sit on a phone or computer. Zuru Oosh Cotton Candy Cuties are lollipop-shaped containers which house a generous handful of sweet smelling putty that stretches into web-like strands. Buried in the middle of the putty is a cute and collectible squishy toy; kids can collect all the characters, such as a unicorn, kitty, cupcake, strawberry, orange or pudding, before storing their collection in the lollipop. Highly collectible and competitively priced, the range is the focus of a major TV ad campaign supported by mass market PR. Building on the unicorn mania, Tobar has introduced Llamacorns. A fusion of llamas and unicorns, the two favourite creatures of the moment, the affordable range comprises the Llamacorn balloon ball, magic putty, and magical Llamacorn poo. Tobar also has hundreds of pocket money items incorporating all current trends across a range of products from mesh balls to squidgies, plus masses of slime and putty.

DKL Marketing 01604 678 780 | www.dkl.co.uk The iconic Breyer Model Horses brand offers a comprehensive range of collectibles in a variety of sizes and price points. New blindbagged collectible packs join the range for 2019; Unicorn Surprise lets children collect seven different unicorns, while the new Mini Whinnies Surprise blind packs are available in a convenient CDU. There are 18 different Mini Whinnies horses to collect, including the special pink chase horse. DKL supports all its ranges with a full marketing campaign, including everything from bespoke planograms to extensive social media and PR activity.

Jazwares 020 3598 5119 | www.jazwares.com Jazwares and WowWee are introducing the Untamed Mad Lab Minis, series 1, for spring 2019. Bioengineered from Untamed DNA, the collectible range features prehistoric and miniature beast-hybrid creatures. Kids can reveal the DNA samples, extract them from the Geoslime, Biosand or Terraclay, then classify the brandnew creature - a Raptor, T-Rex, Allosaurus, Spinosaurus, Sabre-tooth Tiger, Dire Wolf, Bear, Polar Bear, Gorilla or Skeleton can be unleashed. Collectors can also mix & match the heads and bodies to create unique characters such as a Wolfasaurus Rex. Fingerlings Untamed Dragons are a fierce and unpredictable bunch. These dragons know friends from foes and react with special SFX and visual cues depending on how kids play. Each Dragon is equipped with a uniquely coloured LED light in their jaws, and fans can collect all four to hear the differences in how they sound when they’re feeling cute and cuddly or roaring mad. New Fingerlings Narwhals offer many ways to play. These ‘unicorns of the sea’ feature a special horn that lights up in different colours when kids blow them kisses or shake them. When petted, Narwhals will flap their tails and blink their eyes to convey how they’re feeling. The Narwhals will also give Magical Kisses that get bigger and louder the longer their faces are pressed to a cheek. Available now, WowWee’s S.W.A.K (Sealed With A Kiss) kissable keychains are tipped to be a must-have accessory for 2019. Each S.W.A.K. comes with KissTech, a unique sensor technology that detects the user’s cheek and gives them a kiss. The longer they hold it in place, the longer the kiss will last. With 12 customised designs and kissing sounds, each S.W.A.K. comes with a collectible postcard, sticker and removable keychain. S.W.A.K. is also a fun way to display favourite photos or cards.

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Pocket Money & Collectibles

HTI 01253 778 888 | www.htigroup.co.uk Pocket money and collectibles remain a key business focus for HTI, as it continues to expand the category in line with playground trends and crazes. Further investment has been made to safeguard and grow this part of the business, while HTI has also launched a new collectible boys brand, Micro Motorz. Part of the Teamsterz brand, Micro Motorz series 1 has been designed to appeal to car collectors and junior car enthusiasts. Featuring six different surprises, each pack comes in a foil exterior that can be unwrapped to reveal three chambers and a sticker depicting which one of the four teams the vehicle belongs to - Speed Demonz, Nitro Chargerz, Hot Rodz or Monster Treadz. Each of the 21 vehicles in the collection is unique, with customised graphics and interchangeable tuning accessories. HTI also offers a wide range of pocket money toys, from traditional games, keyrings and novelty items, to on-trend playground crazes such as poop, slime and putty.

Zapf Creation 0845 0533 333 | www.mgae.com This Easter will see the launch of a new range of collectibles from Zapf Creation. Known for its best-selling nurturing doll brands Baby Annabell and Baby born, the launch of Baby born Surprise, aimed at children aged 3+, will see the company bringing its extensive knowledge of the dolls category into the collectibles market. Hitting UK shelves this April, the Baby born Surprise range includes 12 cute baby characters, each with over 10 surprises to discover, including a swaddle in designs ranging from an ice cream cone to a unicorn, wipeable eyes which reveal eye colour and unique hairstyles. Kids can also feed their characters with a bottle to discover a colour-changing nappy. Packaged in branded fabric wraps, each doll will also include a collector’s guide and birth certificate complete with games to enjoy as collectors search for the character’s name, birthday, star sign and favourite food, increasing play value. This autumn will see continued innovation within the product range with new Baby born Surprise characters, a play set and the addition of a big surprise doll with added water play. Having launched in the US earlier this year, the company is looking forward to seeing continued success within the UK. Demand for the brand will be fuelled by major marketing investment including TV, digital and social media, combined with strategic PR and influencer activity.

Mattel 01628 500 000 | www.mattel.com The Thomas & Friends TrackMaster and Minis ranges inspires preschoolers to embark on a global journey of adventure and discovery with an extensive range of collectible engines. TrackMaster offers the Large and Small Push Along Engine Assortments that help to stimulate children’s imaginations, while the Large and Small Motorised Assortments offer action play through adventurous stunts. New from Minis is the fun new Easterthemed Minis including springtime designs, and the Blind Bag Assortment introduces new themes, from pets to medieval and rainbow. Light Up Minis will also continue for 2019. From Fisher-Price character brands, Shimmer & Shine introduces preschoolers to magical genie adventures. The Teenie Genies range, including the new Ring Surprise Assortment, features chunky gem rings with a Teenie Genie inside. The range also includes the Zoomicorn Stable and 8-Pack Assortments. This year, Hot Wheels is launching its collectible new Monster Trucks range, built to 1:64 scale for head to head crash battles. With signature giant wheels, each of the 22 different trucks is contained within a blind box to drive collectability and repeat purchases. Offering an assortment of distinct designs in different shapes and colours, the range provides hours of crashing fun. Hot Wheels continues to introduce die cast cars to its range with themed vehicles including Batman’s 80th Anniversary, Avengers, Fast & Furious, Toy Story and Forza. In Addition, Hot Wheels lets fans collect and create their own Marvel universe with the Hot Wheels 1:64 Marvel Character Cars. Following its successful re-launch in 2018, the Polly Pocket range continues to grow. The new Hidden Hideouts open to reveal secret locations and surprise accessories, with themes including Mermaid Cove, Unicorn Utopia and Lil Princess Pad. The Polly Pocket World compacts expand with new additions Mini Mall Escape, Surf 'n' Sandventure, Tiny Twirlin' Music Box, Pamperin' Perfume Spa and Doughnut Pyjama Party. There are also eight new Tiny Pocket Places to collect, with Polly’s Paint Shop and Shani’s Rocket Lab introduced for 2019, and more new worlds to discover later in the year.

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GP Flair 020 8643 0320 | www.flairplc.co.uk Just Play has introduced Series 2 of collectible brand Hairdorables. The ‘Big Hair Don't Care’ squad offers 26 new dolls to collect with all-new styles and a new colour reveal accessory. Also new for spring are the Hairdorables Pets. There are 24 pets to collect, each with their own brush and accessories so that collectors can style their hair, just as they would the dolls’. Just Play also gave New York Toy Fair attendees a glimpse of what to expect this autumn; the next chapter for this burgeoning brand will include Series 3 dolls, their little sisters the Shortcuts, and the introduction of Dudes to the Hairdorables tribe. The new Shopkins series will combine Mini Packs with family groups. There are 150 new characters to collect, with each group consisting of Mum, Dad, Sister and Brother plus a surprise baby to find. Shopkins Lil’ Secrets will introduce the Party Pop Ups collection this spring. At the pocket money end will be new Party Themed Secret Lockets, each holding its own tiny world and a party-ready Teeny Shoppie figure. Pikmi Pops Bubble Drops launched recently. Packaged in a gumball-inspired CDU, there are 24 Bubble Drops characters to collect, including a limited-edition unicorn. This month, the core collection welcomes freshly baked doughnut shaped Pikmi plush. These cute DoughMis smell delicious, thanks to the addition of scents such as Cinnamon and Chocolate Glaze. Just Play’s successful Spirit Riding Free master toy line will expand with the introduction of new products at pocket money price points. The new Series 1 Mini Horse collectibles range features blind-box stables containing one of eight different steeds from the show, making them ideal weekly treats for any Spirit or horse fan. Finally, TLC Kritters is a range of cute baby animals looking for forever homes. Each baby sleeps in a cosy incubator; once chosen, their new owner can reveal the many surprises inside. Kids can discover if their new pet is a girl or a boy, before unwrapping four care accessories including a colour change nappy which reveals a surprise of another kind.

Grossman 01416 132 525 | www.ozbozz.com Grossman has expanded upon its range of squishies, adding summery pastel colours, unicorns and mermaids for 2019. The company’s Dog Poo slime gained plenty of media coverage at the London Toy Fair, with the popularity of the compound showing no sign of abating. HGL has doubled its product range, and now offers everything from Planet Putty, glow in the dark, glitter and rainbow slime, Mermaid, Flamingo and Shark slime, Llama Poo and the best-selling Unicorn Poo. The Grow range, which consists of eggs which hatch to reveal their contents when immersed in water, now includes unicorns alongside aliens, dinosaurs, mermaids and flamingos.

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MGA Entertainment 0845 0533 333 | www.mgae.com L.O.L Surprise! has introduced the Makeover Series for 2019, including the new #Hairgoals dolls. After scooping a second Dream Toy at the back end of last year for two products, plus Toy of the Year in 2019, the brand continues to hold the top spot in this sector. Poopsie Slime Surprise has kicked off 2019 with more slime surprises to discover. New collectible arrivals to entertain both Poopsie and slime fans include Cutie Tooties and Sparkly Critters. Moj Moj has expanded its squishy range by introducing new collectibles to the series, including Ittys and Crunch. The new products launched with a digital campaign combining influencer outreach and global social platforms, as well as multiple experiential events. This year sees a number of new scented collectible products join the Num Nom range including Sparkle Smoothies, Mystery Makeup Surprise and Smooshcakes Twins. These cute novelty collectibles all come with surprise features to add to the play value, and smell delicious. MGA has expanded its Crate Creatures Surprise range and introduced two new characters to the series - Char and Stubbs - plus two brand new products for spring/summer; KaBoom Box and Barf Buddies. The latter includes an element of slime play, a first for Crate Creatures. Ready 2 Robot continues to grow as a brand, and this year introduces the Ready 2 Robot Wreck Racers. Allowing children to create unique designs and customise their own vehicle, the new product introduces slime to the range, as well as new pilots to collect.


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Pocket Money & Collectibles

Magic Box Toys 01403 251 286 | www.magicboxint.com MojiPops Series 1 is made up of everyday objects brought to life as unique, fun-loving characters with an array of colourful emotions based on popular emoticons. From an ice cream to a cactus, and a television to a pillow, each blind-bagged character has a removable double-sided face; kids can flip it over to switch between emoticon-based expressions depicting a huge variety of sentiments, or even swap faces completely with another character in the collection. Children can also switch their character’s mood from sleepy to happy, sad to cool, as there are six different-coloured face pieces, each with two distinct emotions to alternate between. The series features 90 different characters to collect from the worlds of pets, home, nature, travel, music, food and sport, including six ultra-rare Glitter Moji Pops. These new characters, and the accompanying accessories and toy range, offer hours of role-playing potential for young Moji Pops collectors. A range of different SKUs is available, including; 12 boxed Story sets complete with two Moji Pops and a mini stage for them to act out a scene; six Photo Pop blister packs, each containing four Moji Pops, photobooth-style accessories, display stand and a mini photobooth frame to capture poses; Blister Glitter Surprise, a blister 8-pack which comes packed with six Moji Pops plus two surprise ultra-rare Glitter Moji Pops; and four different ‘I Like…’ play sets. I Like Ice Cream, I Like Pets, I Like Party and I Like Movies each contain two themed Moji Pops, various pieces of scenery and the accessories required to bring the them to life.

Schleich 01279 870 000 | www.schleich-s.com/en Schleich collectibles offer realistic takes on some of the most well-known animals and settings, together with a host of fantasy creatures to encourage roleplay and inspire imaginations. Young farmers can look forward to a number of new figures, with a strong Black Angus bull, a Black Angus calf and a Texas Longhorn calf joining the range of detailed animal collectibles. In addition, classics such as the sheep and lamb have also been reissued, making them ideal gifts for Easter. Horse Club’s numerous new additions provide even more variation in the horse yard this year too. There will be seven new horse figures available from the beginning of the year for collectors to enjoy; a Paint Horse mare, a Paint Horse gelding and matching foal, a Lipizzaner stallion, a Trakehner mare, and a Knabstrupper stallion and foal. Some unfamiliar creatures are added to the Wild Life line-up, giving kids even more to learn about. In spring, the Komodo Dragon from Indonesia and the Quokka, a lesser known marsupial from Australia, join the Ring-Tailed Lemur and an incredibly detailed Tarantula. Hailing from the Congo, the Okapi - a relative of the giraffe with legs reminiscent of a zebra - joins the line-up, having been voted for by Schleich fans. A range of Schleich play sets is also available to complement the play experience.

Funrise 01908 555 640 | www.funrise.com With Fart Ninjas, Funrise’s line of interactive, charismatic farting Ninjas, kids can collect a selection of different characters to create a symphony of fart noises perfect for pranking friends and family. Each character’s motion sensor is activated when an unsuspecting person walks past, triggering the fart sound. Included in the initial range will be four smaller collectible figures, as well as the Fart Ninja XLs; alongside the farting motion sensor found in the small figures, the XL Fart Ninjas come with a remote control so kids can record their own fart sounds or messages to add to the pranking fun. Ahead of Paramount’s Easter Movie launch, Funrise has created the Wonder Park master toy line, featuring play sets, figures and plush. At the heart of the range are the movie’s Wonder Chimps, available as blind-bag collectibles, wind-up and scented plush. With over 5,200 chimps featured in the film, there will be plenty for fans to choose from. Keeping with the fairground theme, the Wonder Chimp Surprise Packs contain a Wonder Chimp together with their own Roller Coaster Cart, which kids can bring to life with the Wonder Chimp Wind Up assortment. The Wonder Chimp Clip On plush assortment offers eight individual chimps; each of the scented characters is ideal for adorning a backpack or satchel. Finally, kids can enjoy the pocket-money Small Character Plush range, which includes all the main characters from Wonder Park.

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Pocket Money & Collectibles

Vivid 01483 449944 | www.vividtoysandgames.co.uk Having been appointed as UK master toy partner for Ryan’s World, Vivid launched its toy range inspired by the hugely successful YouTuber in early 2019. Already a hit in the US, the Ryan’s World range will include blind-bags, squishies, plush and action figures, with a focus on collectibles. With a variety of content on his channel Ryan Toys Review, including reviews, animation and family vlogs, seven year old Ryan has created fun, engaging characters which benefit from their own videos, such as Gus the Gummy Gator and Combo Panda. These, and other characters, will also be featured within the toy line up. Vivid is tapping into the squishies trend further in 2019 with the launch of Splishies, a range of soft animals with squishy insides. Available in two sizes - Splishies and the larger Super Splishies - there are seven different characters for kids to collect. Shaking, splishing and squishing the toys causes the glitter and charms inside their bellies to swirl. Supported by an integrated TV, PR and digital campaign from launch, Series 1 is set for release in early 2019, with further introductions planned throughout the year. Featuring soft slow rise foam, cute and cuddly Squeezamals will introduce Wave 2 characters in early 2019. Collectible and sweet-smelling new clip-ons, Medium and Large versions will launch from early 2019 alongside a new Squeezamals Dessert themed range, including clip-on and medium sized treat-styled versions including cup cake, ice cream, doughnut and more. Micro Wheels offers kids a brand new way to race. Featuring new Boost Up Activation, racers can control the speed and performance of their vehicle; the more they pump, the faster the cars go. There are over 30 cars to collect including common vehicles, special edition metallic and rare glow in the dark versions, as well as translucent stunt packs. Kids can also connect the garages together to race - the winning car shuts all the doors. Finally, 2019 sees the introduction of new Harry Potter Character Collectibles. There are 36 for fans to collect, including limited edition golden Harry Potter and Furry Hedwig versions, single figure blind-bags and 7-figure blister packs, in a mixture of both common and rare characters.

IMC Toys 01904 720 908 | www.imctoys.com

Topps 01908 800 123 | www.toppsdirect.com

In 2018, IMC Toys successfully launched its new line, Cry Babies Magic Tears. Miniature versions of its best-selling doll brand Cry Babies, this unboxing collection features cute babies that cry real tears and have a magical story to tell too. The brand is supported by an animated series on YouTube and Ketchup TV, with Series 1 racking 200m views in just six months. Narrative focuses on friendship, empathy and teamwork, with each episode following a different character and adventure. Season 2 launched this month; as well as more episodes and longer content, the series also includes new characters. The Cry Babies Magic Tears Bottle House range lets fans unwrap coloured bottles to reveal the Magic Tears doll hidden inside, as well as six fun accessories. The perforated compartment doors hide a bottle, bow, dummy and chair, plus two personalised accessories unique to each doll. There are also two surprise golden accessories to collect, hidden inside selected packs (one golden accessory per special pack). There 24 bottles to collect in the Bottle House series, in four different colours. Fans of the Season 1 episodes will already be familiar with Magic Tears Pets, as they feature heavily within the content. Now fans will be able to expand their Cry Babies Magic Tears collection with the Pet figures, opening each pet house to reveal a cute Cry Babies Magic Tears pet. Kids can feed their pet with the bottle, and then press the back of their head to make them cry real tears. Special golden accessories can be found in selected packs to drive collectability. There are 12 Pets to collect for autumn/winter, with 12 new additions coming soon.

Topps has entered 2019 with a strong product line-up in the collectibles category, from the National Geographic Kids Animals Sticker Collection to Topps’ own-IP brands. The popular Match Attax Extra range returns, along with UEFA Champions League Stickers 2018/19. Sports fans can also enjoy WWE Champions, which launched in March. An exciting new addition for wrestling fans, WWE Champions features genuine clothing relics worn by the athletes, superstar autograph cards and much more. Topps’ extensive portfolio offers retailers an opportunity to get involved with the latest crazes. Nostalgic brand Garbage Gang Slime welcomes the gross characters in a new collectible slime format with miniature figures, while fashion accessory brand Ring Pop Pets is a fun way to show off these collectible creatures. Bang on-trend for 2019, I Love Llamas is a range of cute, flocked, blind-bagged llamas with differing facial expressions. There are 12 to collect. I Love Llamas, Ring Pop Pets and Garbage Gang Slime are all available now. Match Attax remains a household name across the country, with April’s Swap and Play Tour allowing fans to finish off their collection for the season. The licensing programme for Match Attax has seen strong support across categories from books to nightwear and T-Shirts. Very few purely collectible brands have been able to branch out into the consumer product categories, and Topps and its partners are poised to unveil yet more deals. The company is also working on plans for the rest of 2019, aiming to deliver a diverse range of collectibles to retail for all types of fans and collectors.

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Panini 01604 877 888 | www.paninigroup.com The new L.O.L Sticker and Trading Card Collection includes 204 stickers plus 50 gaming cards to collect, while secret messages on backs of four sticker pairs will drive repeat purchases. Kids can scratch the surprise stickers to reveal who is hidden, decide their favourite character with the Tot Scale and find the special glitter stickers. All pages feature sections to fill in, and once collectors have all 50 Trading Cards, they have a #TEAML.O.L. game to play with friends and family. Starter packs include a sticker album with 22 stickers plus four game cards. Packets containing four stickers and a game card are also available. The collection launch will be supported by TV and digital advertising, influencer activations, magazine cover-mount activity, a social media campaign, press advertising and nationwide sampling, plus investment at retail across key listings. From J.K Rowling’s Wizarding World, Panini introduces Harry Potter Contact Trading Cards, featuring images from the Harry Potter films. Collectors can play Dominoes, Speed Puzzle or Contact; contact cards are extra-wide, cinematic trading cards with added play options, thanks to their matching icon system. Playing instructions are inserted randomly in packets. There’s also a collector’s box and special sized collector’s album to store cards in. The collection offers a total of 140 cards – 70 standard and 70 special foil versions. Harry Potter Contact Trading Cards will be supported by a wide-reaching marketing campaign, which will include nationwide sampling, magazine cover mounts, social media activation, press and digital advertising and investment at retail. Trading Card Packs, Starter Packs and Multi-Packs are available now. A new version of Adrenalyn XL Official Trading Card Game, showcasing the top national teams in Europe, will appeal to UEFA Euro 2020 fans. With Road to UEFA Euro 2020, the Adrenalyn XL series gains a prestigious title featuring some of football’s best players and highest-ranking nations. World Champions France and current European Champions Portugal are joined by top teams from throughout Europe. Fans' Favourites and Rising Stars sections will return. The special Power-Up category includes the best performers: Goal Stoppers, Defensive Rocks, Key Players and Game Changers. The very best players appear in the Top Masters and Invincible sections, along with UEFA Euro Experts - three outstanding footballers who have already played more than once in a final stage of the European Championship. The most innovative new feature in Road to UEFA Euro 2020 Adrenalyn XL is the 18-card subset dedicated to the UEFA Nations League Finals, a Panini exclusive. TV advertising, activations with influencers, digital and press advertising, nationwide school and youth football club sampling, a widereaching social media campaign and investment at retail will support the launch.

Little Tikes 0845 0533 333 | www.mgae.com

Tomy 01271 336 155 | www.tomy.com

Little Tikes’ is set to introduce Springlings Surprise in July, a range of plush toys combining surprise play with collectability. Each Springling pops out of its special home, ready to play time and time again. No batteries are required to pop the creature out; kids can simply press the button and watch as the furry animal springs into the air. There are 12 plush pets to collect.

Tomy’s Ritzy Rollerz range offers cute characters and play sets that appeal to girls aged 4-9 for their collectability, sparkles, charm and hidden surprises. The collection will launch in July with a range of single and bestie characters, mobile play sets, and a feature Dance & Dazzle Spa play set. Real Monster Treads is a new addition to the Monster Treads line. This creepy assortment of Monster vehicles offers a truly gross unboxing experience, with each blind-bag containing a monster vehicle, sludge, and four random mutant bugs. Each vehicle has its own unique personality and treads, as well as the trademark bouncy tyres.

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Retail Profile

FAO Schwarz

FAO Schwarz : ThreeSixty Group is a company which has gone under the radar for many years. Since its acquisition of the FAO Schwarz brand several years ago, its profile – along with its presence in the global toy market – has increased exponentially. John Baulch visited the company’s Hong Kong office to find out about the company’s ambitious expansion plans from COO Jan-Eric Kloth.

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hreeSixty’s Hong Kong office is located in in Kowloon Bay, a short taxi ride away from the hub of toy company showrooms situated in TST. However, the journey is well worth it: as you enter the incredibly well-appointed office and showroom space – almost certainly the most prestigious I have ever been in – and take in the breathtaking views looking back over the bay of Hong Kong, it is impossible not to be impressed. The atmosphere of wonder that is the hallmark of the FAO Schwarz stores is perfectly replicated in this space; creating theatrical, experiential surroundings are clearly in the company’s DNA. For those who may not be familiar with the back story, ThreeSixty Group is a privately-owned company founded in 2000 which has grown into an operation with 400 staff – 300 in Asia and 100 in USA. The company designs, sources, and distributes consumer products across diverse categories under a portfolio of owned and licensed brands. Its portfolio includes more than 20 brands (internally developed, acquired, and licensed) including the iconic FAO Schwarz, Sharper Image, Wembley and Discovery brands. The brands and products are sold in over 70,000 retail doors in the US and across the world. ThreeSixty Group started life as a ‘key item’ business, with toys representing around 50% of the initial offering. The idea was to pick the best-sellers from a range of product categories to offer to retail customers. Over time, the business moved from

offering ‘off the shelf’ lines to developing its own ranges for private label. From there, it was a logical step to introduce branding, by using the company’s strength in packaging to curate the products into a cohesive branded range.

COO Jan-Eric Kloth’s first involvement with ThreeSixty Group was as an investor, and he subsequently decided to join the company to run the Asia division and to drive the international expansion, based in Hong Kong. Along the way, the company joined forces with a New York-based private equity investor, AEA Partners. Unlike many toy executives, Jan-Eric is fulsome in his praise of the partnership with the oldest private equity firm in the US: “We’re fortunate to have such a fantastic partner.

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It has enabled us to acquire such strong brands – first FAO Schwarz, then Sharper Image two years ago and recently Vornado.” FAO Schwarz had long been a fixture of the US toy scene: in 2001, it had 41 stores. It subsequently went through several owners, including a magazine publisher, a hedge fund, and from 2009 until it closed in 2014, Toys R Us. Despite its challenges, there was a strong consumer attachment to the brand - a valuable asset for a new owner to leverage. So, how did the tie-up with FAO come about? Jan-Eric takes up the story: “We had started to see the benefits of developing a brand association with an iconic toy store with a name that resonated around the world – that basically left us two choices, FAO Schwarz was the logical choice. Four years later, a deal was finally tied up with Toys R Us to take over the FAO Schwarz brand.” After acquiring the brand, ThreeSixty Group set about creating a highly giftable cross-category product line in cohesive packaging which it planned to offer to department stores. Jan-Eric explained: “We knew that many department stores were getting out of toys. We were challenged to come up with a ‘one-stop solution’ that they could buy into. We developed a range of 120 items – half toys, half Christmas items and home décor – which initially launched at Bergdorf Goodman, and subsequently found a home in every premium department store: Saks, Bloomingdales, Nordstrom and Macys amongst others. “


a world of wonder There were two key premises behind the partnerships with department stores; they had to run prominent window displays and they had to activate the space with product demonstrations and other experiential activity, such as magicians, drawing competitions, Santa Claus appearances and the like. It was a formula which worked: the strategy drove traffic, while achieving high sell-through rates in year one. So why did ThreeSixty Group decide to adapt the business model and decide to become a retailer as well as a brand company? Jan-Eric explains: “We’d always vowed we’d never get into retail ourselves, but things change. All of the department stores we partnered with came back after the first year and asked us to partner with them exclusively – of course, we had to decline. They also asked for more SKUs and, interestingly, asked if we had plans to re-introduce FAO Schwarz as a standalone store. You might think they would have seen that as competition, but quite the reverse: they saw the flagship store as the core of the brand, and felt that bringing it back would give the brand greater longevity. We knew that if we were going to do it, it would have to live up to the very high expectations people and we ourselves had of the brand. We put together a strong retail team and because the City of New York and the landlords were fully behind the concept, we were able to secure a fabulous location. We developed the concept and built the store in less than twelve months – it opened last November and received a great reaction, better than we could have hoped for. “ It’s no secret that toy retailers have often struggled to maintain a New York flagship store, with both the original incarnation of FAO Schwarz and the infamous Times Square Toys R Us examples of outlets that attracted huge numbers of visitors, yet couldn’t turn a profit. I ask Jan-Eric whether ThreeSixty Group can crack this particular conundrum: “We opened at the start of the best two

months of the year for toys, in a year when Toys R Us disappeared from the retail landscape. We’re off to an incredibly promising start. We need to faithfully recreate the brand, while attracting the next generation of consumers.” Working with celebrities and influencers such as Gigi Hadid and Jimmy Fallon is a key pillar to achieving this goal. So far, so good: FAO Schwarz returned to its former glory in its New York heartland. But when did expansion into China and the UK become part of the grand plan? “Despite being such an iconic brand, we didn’t initially anticipate international expansion,” admits Jan-Eric. “However, we met with Kidsland – a high-end Chinese retailer which also acts as a

distributor for Lego, MGA, Schleich and others – and they felt FAO Schwarz would be a perfect fit for their operation, so they wanted to strike a deal to bring it to the Chinese market. We finalised the agreement last year and we’ll be opening our first store in Beijing in May. From there, we will be rolling out further outlets – another flagship store in Shanghai, together with 20-25 smaller footprint stores across China. “

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Sensing that the UK represented the next logical progression, Jan-Eric approached Selfridges, who were enthusiastic about the prospects of a partnership. UK customers saw the first fruits of the collaboration last year, when an FAO pop-up made its debut in the Oxford Street store. But this was just the precursor to a far more ambitious project this year – the opening of a flagship ‘store-withina-store’ which will occupy a significant proportion of the fourth floor, making it larger than the New York flagship outlet. The 20,000 square foot space is scheduled to open on 1st November, and a hugely experiential, theatrical experience is promised. “We want to create lasting memories. I was 14 the first time I walked into the FAO Schwarz store in New York – I will never forget it,” Jan-Eric admits. “We want to deliver that experience for future generations. We are getting amazing support from major toy brands and movie studios; we need their help to deliver unique in-store experiences which will really push the envelope – creative, engaging and theatrical. We aim to be a true global partner to the world’s key toy players. We need to avoid that typical ‘department store ambience’: we want brand owners to integrate their branding into the FAO branding to create a seamless, memorable experience.” ThreeSixty’s future plans can only help these conversations: Jan-Eric told me that the ambition is to be represented in the top 15-20 cities across the globe – “every major tourist city” - over the next three-five years. Closer to home, Arnotts Dublin (which is part of the Selfridges group) will also be unveiling a permanent FAO store-in-store this year. As Jan-Eric says, “These are huge moves – a really exciting journey lies ahead. FAO Schwarz is a global brand with tremendous heritage that stands for experience and wonder, and we are thrilled to continue bringing our unique brand of retail to new markets and consumers.”


Feature

Independent Toy & Gift Show

Variety show Rachael Simpson-Jones caught up with Miles Penhallow, head of Toys & Children’s Gifts at plaY-room, the toy division of the AIS buying group, about what to expect from this year’s Independent Toy & Gift Show. suppliers and the AIS display team to experiment with eye-catching ideas that draw attention across the show floor. Ravensburger is planning a ‘Best of British’ jigsaw display, collaborating with the show organisers to create a dedicated area with a strong British theme. “Themes give companies which support that particular category the option to spotlight their ranges across the show,” Miles comments. “Around 12 of the 85 suppliers this year have a vested interest in jigsaws and puzzles, so it really helps increase exposure for them. It’s nice to give something back; if the theme suits a company, then they can have a bit of extra space - free of charge - in which they can create a theatrical display to show off their range.”

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he Independent Toy & Gift Show has become a popular event in the toy and gift buying calendar, offering a unique buying experience. Buyers can meet with a diverse range of exhibitors showcasing toys and children’s gifts across two days, and enjoy free parking, free hot drinks and a quality hot lunch. It’s little surprise then that all available exhibitor space for this year’s show is completely sold out.

Miles also stresses his desire to further reward attendance with great deals across the show. The Independent Toy & Gift Show One Hit Wonder booklet continues for 2019, with all plaY-room suppliers encouraged to offer buyers a tempting deal on just one of their products. The deals are first come, first served to drive buyers to the stands, and the booklets can be collected from the front desk on both mornings.

“The Independent Toy & Gift Show is definitely maintaining its popularity,” explains Miles. “All our top 30 suppliers are attending, with full support from all the big names – Lego, Hasbro, Mattel, Character, MGA and more. It’s the first show of the calendar year where all these big names are gathered under one roof, making it an unmissable event. New exhibitors this year include Hornby, Siso UK, Kids@Play, Tinc and Green Elephant, to name but a few.” The theme of this year’s show is Puzzles & Jigsaws, with Gibson’s named as the main show sponsor. The company is celebrating its centenary in 2019 and approached the show organisers at last year’s event to enquire about sponsorship opportunities. “This year’s Puzzles & Jigsaws theme, and the main sponsor, just came together perfectly, and Gibsons will be sponsoring the café,” says Miles. “Additionally, Jumbo is sponsoring our Reward Card, which rewards members with a £1 M&S voucher for each stand visited. Part of the deal is that they have to visit Jumbo’s stand to get the ‘official’ Jumbo stamp, which makes it a worthwhile venture for the sponsor.” Changing the theme each year allows both

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Miles comments: “As a buyer, I know the excitement that comes with making a good deal. This scheme has worked really well in the past couple of years; even if the saving offered by a deal covers an attendee’s fuel, it’s something extra.” With the Independent Toy & Gift Show formula continuing to prove popular with visitors and exhibitors alike, Miles is not planning to shake things up much in the years to come. Keeping the numbers tight, with some 85 suppliers each year, reportedly works for everyone, and the organisers guarantee that they can sell out the space. The show’s venue, Cranmore Park in the heart of the midlands, is an adaptive space which can be fitted to any size show, but Miles feels strongly that increasing the number of exhibitors would dilute the overall experience. “Research tells us that our members visit around 25-30 stands across the two days, and we all feel that’s about right,” he states. “We’ve got space upstairs, but if we needed to open that up it would be to the detriment of the show and the overall experience. We get buyers from the National Trust, garden centres and department stores, and they can all enjoy a productive day in professional surroundings. We vet the quality of buyers quite


For UK sales contact: sales@tyuk.co.uk

Tel: 023 9387 6600


Feature

Independent Toy & Gift Show implemented this concept.

strictly, and turn away any we don’t feel are bona fide, to keep the quality of the show as high as possible.”

In terms of the opportunities 2019 brings for plaY-room members, Miles is particularly enthused by the number of strong movie properties coming through this year, especially those with a toyetic nature. “I can’t think of any other industry that gets this level of free publicity and promotion,” he says. “We’ve already seen an uplift in Lego as a result of the movie, and we can expect more of the same for Playmobil, with that movie on the way in August. Increased sales will be seen for Toy Story 4, Frozen II, Aladdin and The Lion King. Spin Master has also done really well with its How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World range. I’m not advising people to go crazy on licensed movie lines; you have to watch what the supermarkets are doing and stick to core products. Character figures will always perform well, but secondary licensing product is arguably where retailers get caught out.”

In an ideal world, Miles tells Toy World, 200 quality buyers would attend each day of the show. At the moment, that number sits at around 150-180, though Miles cites several factors that could see this change. “The toy element of Spring Fair, in Hall 5, is deteriorating year after year,” he explains. “We [Miles and Aimee Hill, assistant selector, Toys & Childrens' Gifts] visited for a day this year and sat down at every appointment. I remember years where you couldn’t even fit on the stands, the show was that busy. If Spring Fair sees more fall-out, and the toy hall and the number of exhibitors it attracts continues to slump, then the need for the May Toymaster show and the Independent Toy & Gift Show will become even greater.” When asked how the AIS group is faring during this period of retail turmoil, Miles is keen to stress that plaY-room members appear to be very much bucking the trend. The group is 22.5% up on the year, is currently 15% up on its financial year (1st July 2018 - 30th June 2019), and finished the calendar year 7.5% up, pulling things back hard from being 6% down to the end of May. When Toys R Us went, Miles says, the group saw a ‘huge uplift’. “Because so many toys are influenced by social media, or are heavily trend driven, indies are able to get in and out before a multiple has even woken up and realised what’s happening,” he enthuses. “Bananas from Bandai is performing really well, and Ryan’s World looks like it could be really big too. Observing and communicating these things is where the plaY-room group really comes into its element - sharing that knowledge with its membership to keep them informed.” “I think it’s a good time for independent,” Miles

continues. “We’ve got members that are expanding this year, with SMF Toytown opening in Hull recently, followed by openings in Newcastle and Portsmouth before Easter. Alan [Simpson, founder of SMF Toytown] has seen the opportunities that are out there, and in some cases is moving into vacant Toys R Us units. By doing so, his business is really benefitting from the demise of Toys R Us.” Miles has also noticed that several department stores are expanding the space they dedicate to toys, as these areas begin to pick up in the absence of Toys R Us. A trend has also emerged within department stores for the introduction of so-called ‘home learning’ sections, featuring toys which appeal to parents thanks to their strong educational element. Morleys is reportedly planning on creating one in its Wimbledon store and Daniel of Windsor has already successfully

Miles is also excited for product coming through on L.O.L. Surprise! from MGA Entertainment. “The ranges I saw in Nuremberg… just wow. I’d say there are three new lines that will knock the core L.O.L. products for six; the offering from MGA just keeps getting better.” In closing, Miles urges all interested readers to visit the Independent Toy & Gift Show website, which features videos of previous shows, registration forms and full exhibitor lists. An Exhibitor Zone, where visitors can fill in their paperwork, has been added to the website too. He’s also keen to reiterate that any and all independent toy retailers are welcome to attend. “Being informed is best, and if our members can attend multiple shows, including ours, then it can only benefit them,” he says. “We’ve invested heavily to improve the overall experience of both the website and the show itself, and hopefully that will continue to pay off.”

The Independent Toy & Gift Show 2019 When: 9am-5pm, 29th & 30th April Where: Cranmore Park Conference & Event Centre, Cranmore Avenue, Shirley, Solihull, West Midlands, B90 4LE Website: www.independenttoyandgift.co.uk

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Viewpoint Sasda – what happens next?

John Baulch John has worked in toy trade publishing for over 35 years, and will be well known to our readers for his personal analysis of industry matters and forthright opinions. If they get past Anita.

How balanced are you?

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

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he hitherto spectacularly ineffective Competition & Market Authority (CMA) appears to have finally grown a pair. Having consistently failed to intervene in mergers and acquisitions previously referred to it, I had begun to think that its investigation process was little more than a rubber stamping exercise. How wrong I was. I’m not sure why Sainsbury’s Asda has turned out to be the ‘one step too far’, but the CMA’s findings were crystal clear. The report concluded that the merger would result in a worse experience in stores and online, a reduction in the choice available to consumers and higher prices at petrol stations. As a result, potential options open to the CMA include blocking the deal completely or requiring ‘Sasda’ to sell off a significant number of stores and other assets – potentially including one of the Sainsbury’s or Asda names. Sainsbury’s is said to be prepared to fight the ruling, but many observers have suggested that the deal is now dead in the water. Let’s just say that rather than singing “We’re in the money”, Mike Coupe is more likely to be caught singing “There may be trouble ahead” at the moment. Sainsbury’s had already spent a fortune preparing for the merger,

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ince stepping away from the frantic pace of the toy business, I’ve been amazed at how different things seem when you have the opportunity to stand back and actually spend some quality time observing what’s happening, and what’s actually driving the market dynamics that we’re seeing today. When I look back, there are a number of things that I would have done differently, (hindsight is a wonderful gift), although at the time, of course, they all seemed the right things to do. In reality, many decisions are based on a much narrower viewpoint than they could, or should, be. I’m sure that I won’t be alone in feeling that way and the ongoing challenge is finding the time in our frantic schedules to stand back far enough to get the full picture. We get sucked so far into the detail that we can’t actually see what that detail

while I heard reports in Hong Kong that meetings with Asda buyers were generally tense affairs, with the conclusion that their less-thanpositive mood was driven by the fact that they were fully expecting to lose their jobs soon. This may also explain the no-shows from Asda toy buyers at Olympia and Nuremberg. They clearly saw the CMA report as a fait accompli, so they must have been as surprised as anyone to see that – for once – it didn’t cop out. I am usually fairly black and white when it comes to retail issues, but in all honesty, I am torn here. Like all mergers, there would be good and bad ramifications – though I remain to be convinced of the tangible benefits to consumers or suppliers. Indeed, I suspect the main beneficiaries would be Sainsbury's shareholders and board members. But even so, is that good enough reason for the CMA to intervene to block it? I received some feedback on LinkedIn from former Argos toy doyen Ian Chaplin, who seemed to share my reservations: “If you look at Argos today, they have removed a number of the best-selling lines and replaced them with their own brand ranges, reduced promotions and in turn reduced sales. However, profits are up due to the closure of Argos stores and operational savings. So is

that really in the customers’ interest or the shareholders’ interest?” With many observers believing that the findings have effectively killed off the deal, speculation has turned to what happens next for the respective parties. Two particularly juicy rumours have emerged: the first suggests that US private equity company KKR – a key player in the Toys R Us debacle, as one of the owners which drove its collapse – could be interested in acquiring Asda. The second rumour is that Amazon is potentially considering an approach for Sainsbury’s. Whether there is anything in either story is hard to tell at this stage, although both are at least plausible outcomes. KKR’s track record in the toy market isn’t exactly covered in glory, so I imagine that Asda employees would be a little wary if that did turn out to be their fate. As for Amazon, it has been suggested that it could afford to buy Sainsbury’s “out of petty cash:” another way of looking at it would be to say that the purchase would be funded by all the tax it has managed to avoid paying in recent years. However, if it does decide to move into the bricks and mortar arena, at least it will be liable for proper business rates at last.

is telling us. The need for instant action and reaction can force us to read data and act upon it without going into the detail behind it. For example, many businesses and individuals review sell through data in isolation and never actually go out into the market to see what’s happening. If it’s in line with expectations, no more investigation takes place. When was the last time that you did a store check? I’m still amazed at how many senior people never do them. Our appetite for data is insatiable and dealing with this glut of information fills our diaries and our lives, reducing the amount of time that we actually have to turn this information into knowledge. We know the ‘what’ but we struggle to understand the ‘why’. Without the ‘why’, it’s difficult to know what actions to take.

So, why am I saying this? Just imagine for a moment if you had the same level of data available on all aspects of your life. What would happen if you had to sit down every week and review the ‘personal’ data from your past week?

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mount of time spent with the A family Amount of time invested in your health and your interests Amount of time thinking Amount of time on self-development Amount of quality sleep-time Number of times that you broke the speed limit Number of times that you were late for a meeting Number of days that you arrived home late Number of nights away Number of missed social appointments Amount of ‘me-time’ taken



Viewpoint I’m sure that some of you will have this absolutely under control and have used the increased availability of flexible working as an opportunity to re-balance. However, I’m also pretty certain that for a good many of you, the data would make pretty grim reading. Can you imagine what the outcome would be if you had to sit down for an annual appraisal with your immediate family? The feedback might be quite painful. So, what do we do about it? Most of the changes that can be made are relatively simple, but that doesn’t mean that they’re easy. If they were that easy, I’m certain that you would have done them by now. What we need to do is get more of a balance back into our lives. We spend our time at work focusing on the priorities, (the KPIs), so why can’t we broaden our outlook and apply that same level of focus across every aspect of our lives?

I just called…

Nat Southworth

MBA, ACMA Nat is managing director of Kids@Play Ltd, has bought toys for Asda, and held sales & marketing positions with Vivid, HTi, and Hornby.

…to say I love you.” Admit it, you couldn’t help finishing the title with that classic Stevie Wonder lyric, but that’s not why I called! “I just called to check you got the samples”, “I just called to check you got the quote sheets”, “I just called to check you have everything you need”, “I just called to let you know the factory is closing its production run”, “I just called to ask when you will complete selections?” It’s the best part - and the worst part - of the year in the toy industry. Finding out if all the euphoria from the toy fairs translated into anything meaningful. Any buyers who are reading this will have heard all of those opening one liners on the phone in recent weeks. OK, possibly not “I love you”, but as an industry we are all in the same boat right now. One company’s loss is another company’s gain. We go head to head on categories, and in some cases right to the wire on specific products. Not every supplier can have the hottest brand like L.O.L. Surprise! and selections can often be an agonisingly close call. But that

The key is to stand back and work out what’s important for you. Determining what success looks like for you is a critical consideration. It’s not what other people think it looks like, it’s what’s important for you and it doesn’t mean that you have to switch off entirely from your work focus to concentrate on other important things. All of us have the same amount of time available in any day, week or month. We need to use it much more wisely if we are going to effectively balance all the elements that are important to us. It’s too simplistic to talk about things in terms of a straightforward ‘work-life balance’. For most people, work is a major part of their lives, but it’s worth remembering that it’s only one element. Invest some time in the coming weeks to stand far enough away from

things to see the broader picture. Work out what’s important for you and review your own personal data. Check your diaries and challenge yourself to understand what’s happening. Do you need to be in that meeting? Should that meeting actually take place or could an email or a phone call have achieved the same result? Do you need to be in the office that day? What’s stopping you from doing store visits? Why do you get home late so often? Why is your own name missing from your diary? Find more time to do the things that you love outside of work and you’ll definitely find that you’ll have more energy to apply back into your work. Your personal data is readily available – you’ve just got to find the time to analyse it and understand what it’s telling you. Finding balance is key – the balance that works for you.

individual buyer’s decision impacts not just your year, but that of all the people who work in your company – and their families. Orders are the life blood of any company and 2019 was always set to be something of a challenge. There will be company owners and general managers throughout the industry gaining a few more grey hairs this year. As I write, we have 10 days until we leave the European Union with No Deal, but a parliament who has committed to not leaving the EU without a deal. It is no wonder that our international business acquaintances are asking us to explain: “what is Brexit and what does it mean for business?” I’m sure everyone has read through all the Brexit advice from the Government, steps we may need to take “in the event of” this or that, but nothing concrete and nothing with conviction, so we are forced to make our own assessment of what is and isn’t necessary. Thank goodness that the UK toy trade has the BTHA to support us in this endeavour; in the absence of any useful or practical Government direction, the BTHA

has done an amazing job on our industry’s behalf. I could hardly contain my excitement when they issued a second, updated version of their Brexit advice! It has been carefully printed out and laminated as the ultimate aide memoire for operations meetings. The whole “unknown” and “waiting for answers” situation reminds me of the famous Guinness advert of the late 90s, “Tick followed Tock”, where surfers filmed in black and white wait for the ultimate wave. The premise being that good things come to those who wait; in this particular context the wait is for a perfect pint of Guinness. At this point in the year, we should be used to waiting for selection confirmations and subsequently the orders that follow. However, as a nation we are all waiting to know the outcome of a national selection decision made in 2016. I do hope that good things will actually come to those who wait, but have a sneaky suspicion that no toy sales team has been given direction to be patient, leave the buyers alone and simply wait for the outcome. Good luck to all!

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Viewpoint

Ruth Clement Ruth is Business Manager and Insights Consultant for Kidz Global, as well as Director and Founder of Full Steam Consulting. She combines the best in syndicated data with Full Steam’s own custom research and marketing services for kids and families.

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We interviewed 1,360 parents of kids aged 3-10, in the immediate aftermath of Christmas 2018, to get a clearer understanding of the factors influencing their toy shopping behaviour and how brands can connect the dots between shopper and consumer. According to Kidz Global, 82% of UK parents and 83% of Italian parents in 2018 opted to stick with buying only the toys which their kids had asked for, whether they were requested via a wish list, a verbal request, or pointed out on a screen or in store. Two thirds of kids felt that they had got all the toys that they had asked for, leaving over 30% thinking that they had missed out on some of their requests. There are risks involved when buying any gifts for Christmas, not just for parents in making a gifting faux pas, but also for their friends and family. What if a child makes a request and then changes their mind? What if they can’t remember the name of the brand or the product they want, and can only supply a vague description in a few, ambiguous words? What if the parent is unable to easily identify and source the items at a good price when they are shopping, perhaps because navigation online or instore is made too difficult by the volume of choice, poor layout and range architecture at retail? No parent wants to buy something which, it turns out, their child

he more confident a parent feels in knowing what their kids want, the more comfortable they are to “spend, spend,

spend.” The volume and frequency of accompanied (child and parent) store visits has declined; catalogues have reduced their print quantity; advertising audiences have dispersed across multiple channels and devices, while kids have become more adept and accustomed to skipping adverts as soon as they appear. So, what more can brands do to connect the dots between parent shopper and kid consumer, to create that confidence and ultimately drive a greater volume of sales? At Kidz Global, we’ve been tracking consumer and brand trends globally for over 15 years, and each year we select two countries to put under the spotlight in our seasonal shopper survey, The Gift Report. In 2019, The Gift Report turned its attention to Italy and UK, both countries showing distinct changes in consumer-shopper attitudes and behaviour. UK toy sales fell by 7% (source: NPD), attributed to the uncertainty of Brexit and demise of Toys R Us, whilst Italy’s retail landscape is being reshaped by shopper migration to online retailers and a closer resemblance to the retail landscape of its European neighbours.

doesn’t want. Some 79% of UK parents and 73% of Italian parents have had to deal with toys gifted to their child, which the child then rejected. This explains why 73% of British and 72% of Italian parents agree that kids advertising is positive overall, helpful in giving them a better idea of what their child wants and a chance to hear or see the name of the toy first hand themselves. Only 11% of Italian kids and 13% of UK kids use an online wishlist, despite a push by many in the toy industry to try to direct their traffic. It appears that online retail has failed to capture the wish-list opportunity, an ideal means to close the loop from a child wanting a toy to communicating that ‘want’ in to an accurate request for their parent. Kids are showing their parents what they want on websites, but not searching independently or using online shopping baskets or “adding to favourites”. The barriers which obstruct progress for wish-lists are both prompted by parents’ concerns and limited by the ability of kids to read and write. Solutions do exist which can overcome both these barriers and improve web usability, ease of navigation and search, which is suitable and safe for kids. Visit https://thekidconsumer. com to discover more insights about gift shopping behaviour, pre-shop and in-store influences and retail channels.

Parental attitudes to toy gifting, UK and Italy (N=1,360 parents kids aged 3-10)

82%

83%

79%

73%

% WHO AGREE / AGREE STRONGLY

Shopper confidence in toy purchases

I have kept it simple to what my kid has asked for

I have focused more on what my kid is collecting

UK

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Italy

69%

68%

Advertising gives me and them ideas as to what they want


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Games & Puzzles

Game changers

Games & puzzles continue to provide relaxation, escapism, collaborative play opportunities and distraction from what’s going on around us, be it political turbulence or calamitous weather. Rachael Simpson-Jones takes a look at what’s in store for 2019 from this perennially popular category.

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he games sector has seen a fair amount of movement in the past few months, with Drumond Park joining the Tomy portfolio, Vivid being acquired by Goliath Games, and Bandai partnering with Zanzoon. For these companies, it’s a strategy that has added experience and weight to their respective games portfolios. “We already have products in the gifting/tech gaming space, such as our best-selling and muchloved Pac-Man Plug n Play,” explains Nic Aldridge, managing director at Bandai. “However, by partnering with the games company Zanzoon, we now have a range that has enabled us to move into the family game space perfectly. While the board game sector remains strong in the UK, we spotted a gap in the market for accessible, good quality interactive games for children, with a strong mainstream appeal. We decided to partner with Zanzoon, as its range perfectly combines fun and learning. Plus, the company has a strong reputation for creating engaging, high quality games with an interactive element.” The Goliath partnership has afforded Vivid a comprehensive games portfolio from a stable of global sellers, while adding Drumond Park to its

portfolio means Tomy now has the weight of a combined 100 years of games experience behind it (more on this in our Q&A on page 102). Acquisitions and takeovers aside, the games & puzzles category is set to welcome a veritable deluge of new offerings this year, tapping into trends spanning everything from eco-friendliness to computer games. At Accentuate Games, sibling

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designers Fiona and Graham Fraser-Bell are set to capitalise upon the 150th anniversary of the Periodic Table of the Elements. While hardly a typical inspiration for family fun, the Fraser-Bells have nonetheless taken Dmitri Mendeleev’s table and transformed it into a fast-paced, innovative and surprisingly educational word game – Frenetic. “At last, it’s cool to play and have fun with science,” says Graham. “No longer the domain of nerds and geeks, science is an on-trend, growing and exciting segment of the games, puzzles and toy markets; designers are creating entertaining and challenging experiences which introduce scientific principles through stealth and engagement. I was determined to create a novel word game, but couldn’t envisage the theme. Then it struck me; you take your school life with you all your life. I remembered my passion for chemistry, and that was that - what if the 118 element symbols on The Periodic Table could form the basis for a word search board game? “ Monopoly, a game first patented in 1904, continues to be a best-seller for Hasbro, with multiple licensed iterations based upon digital games, popular brands, movies and TV shows rolling out year after year. “Monopoly as a game is hugely adaptable, and we always aim to merge successful pop culture licences



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Games & Puzzles

into its traditional play pattern,” comments Craig Wilkins, senior marketing director, Hasbro. “By featuring unique elements from these licences that we know fans will love - such as

the Game of Thrones’ theme song in the new Game of Thrones Monopoly, blind bags in L.O.L Surprise! Monopoly, and Health Points and Storms in Monopoly Fortnite - the classic game is transformed into a culturally relevant one. In some cases, this can also turn the game into collectible memorabilia, which excites both kid and adult fans alike.” The games category currently features a multitude of licensed products to choose from; Asmodee recently announced the summer launch of Harry Potter Dobble - a game the company has very high hopes for - while new games and puzzles from Paul Lamond are on the way across a host of popular properties and brands. “Licensed games carry through the brand qualities and values that have resonated over time, not only with the child but more importantly with their parents and grandparents,” explains Richard Wells, managing director at Paul Lamond Games. “In the pre-school market, it is essentially parents and grandparents that are the purchasers of board games. This is why brands that have stood the test of time, such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (now 30 years old), continue to perform exceptionally well. Brands that are supported by TV, film and stage, such as The World of David Walliams, Horrible Histories, Roald Dahl and Paddington, also deliver strong sales.” With so many licences all competing for the same shelf and online space, puzzle specialist Jumbo is increasingly targeting the adult category with publishing/heritage brands and classic Disney movie properties. NPD data indicates that Adult Puzzles is an expanding area – making it an attractive proposition to retailers. “Publishing brands usually perform well for puzzles; the artwork often lends itself well to jigsaws because of the high level of detail,” says Jumbo’s marketing manager Steven Russell Steven. “They often also have nostalgic appeal, like our Beatrix Potter Peter Rabbit puzzles. Classic Disney movie artwork has seen a big increase in popularity over the past 18+ months, and with the new releases this year for Dumbo, Aladdin and The Lion King we expect to

see this continue. Keeping the artwork true to the classic animations, is key; live-action movies don’t work as well with puzzles.” Alongside the autumn/winter launch of its first range of Moon & Me puzzles – a show which is already topping the children’s TV charts - Jumbo has also branched out into games, creating a range of innovative and eco-friendly titles for pre-schoolers. The range includes Catch the Mouse, Colour Chameleon, Honey Yummy and Peek-A-Boo. Having already produced its puzzles using 100% recycled cardboard, releasing a range of games that uses only 100% recycled plastics and cardboard was a natural next step for the company. “We want to continue leading the way as a leading manufacturer in this sector, and we’re very excited about what new developments are to come over the next few years,” adds Steven. To keep their offering relevant and fresh, companies observe emerging trends and consumer habits which offer an insight into the demands of today’s gamers. Ben Hogg, marketing manager at Asmodee, notes the return of classic roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons, an evergreen title which seems to have enjoyed something of a resurgence in the last couple of years. This may have something to do with the pop culture TV phenomenon Stranger Things. Set in the 80s, the game features prominently as the show’s young protagonists battle monstrous dark forces, using their game board as a physical analogy for the ‘Upside Down’ dimension they face. “I think the bar continues to rise in terms of gameplay, and we are seeing a more diverse range of games available than at any other time, dealing with a wide range of subjects,” says Ben Hogg. “The whole aspect of storytelling in games is an enduring

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theme and one we are hugely passionate about at Asmodee, so it’s great to see the likes of Dungeons & Dragons making a comeback.” Strategy and collaborative games are also going down well among adults, something that Lesley Singleton, co-founder of Board Game Club, has seen for herself. Since founding the club five years ago along with Toyologist Peter Jenkinson, Lesley has noticed that collaborative and legacy games have grown in popularity, even if they haven’t necessarily changed the face of mainstream just yet. “I think we’ve seen a lot more ‘silly-social’ concepts getting to market thanks to online trends: companies looking at social-media hits and finding fast, simple ways to gamify them,” she adds. Richard Wells at Paul Lamond also notes a shift towards games for millennials, often



Feature

Games & Puzzles

presented in more interesting and original packaging than that of games of old. “We saw this last year with the phenomenal success of our Stupid Deaths board game, and from the early reactions to Tip of the Tongue and Are you Dumber than a Box of Rocks? this certainly looks set to carry on into 2019,” he says. Of course, while games for adults offer retailers and manufacturers a growing market to target, it is family gaming that still dominates of the category. This year, Hasbro Gaming continues to provide families with offerings that are ‘fun to play, fun to watch, and fun to share’, with the introduction of games including The Lie Detector Game, Porcupine Pop and Plumber Pants. These join 2018’s Monopoly Cheaters edition, Connect 4 Shots and Monopoly Cash Grab, all of which put a fun twist on classic family gameplay. Craig Wilkins comments: “We have seen games bring families and friends of all generations together, creating the opportunity for meaningful face-toface interactions. We are constantly monitoring and analysing new trends and watching how consumers are playing with our existing products, to stay ahead of the curve and provide fans with the experiences they want most.” At Asmodee, which boasts a comprehensive games portfolio that aims to cater for all the different areas of the market, it’s become apparent that there is a blurring of the lines between game genres. With so many play patterns to choose from – abstract strategy, educational, cooperative, hidden traitor, RPGs (role playing games), legacy – is it possible for any one game to be all things to all people? “Some games will transcend ages or interests, meaning they can be played by anyone as long as they are old enough to play games,” explains Ben. “Dobble is a great example of this, while Catan and Pandemic are simple enough concepts to be played by families but offer enough depth for seasoned gamers too. As the general public becomes aware of more games, they want to try different ideas and mechanics. At Asmodee, we’re lucky that if one game cannot do everything for everyone, we have many others that they can turn to.” For the average consumer, the vast range of games

on offer – while affording plenty of choice – can be confounding. Unlike puzzles, which usually benefit from a large, eye-catching picture on the box showing exactly what artwork the user can look forward to piecing together, games need to be played or demoed before customers truly know if they enjoy what they’re parting with cash for. In-store, this is where games tables and demo areas come into their own. It’s a strategy put to good use by Helen and Gez Gourley at Toy Hub, who have re-purposed an Ikea baby-changing table – a new one, they assure us – so that customers can get hands on with a game, getting a flavour for the pace of play, difficulty and rules before deciding to purchase it. “I think the absolute best way to sell games is to be hands on and play them in-store,” seconds Ben at Asmodee. “Besides, if you’re in a toy shop, it’s supposed to be fun. A few years ago, we ran the Dobble Challenge; we asked stores to demo Dobble with the promise of giving them an extra pound for each copy of the game they sold. We wrote a cheque of over £1000 to Wise Owl Toys in Worcester, which really embraced this idea and consequently now sells many more games. Its important that stores choose the right games for this type of activity, but this is

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why we have our Fun Fast Games range - to offer retailers a choice of games that take seconds to demo and are great fun.” Board Game Club, which marks its 5th birthday this month, also offers a great way for gamers to get to grips with a range of titles, in sociable, fun and comfortable surroundings. Lesley comments: “Peter and I launched Board Game Club in 2014, thinking that maybe a couple of dozen people might like the idea: grown-ups having a beer over a favourite game. At the very first one, we had just eight people and one tiny box of games – but the feedback was fantastic and our numbers doubled the next month, and again a month later. We consistently attract a large crowd each month and it’s gone from strength to strength, with plenty of brands getting in on the action too.” “As a species we’re hardwired to play and to interact,” she adds when asked why she think games are so popular. “From the very first time one of our ancestors put those two things together in a structured, regulated way, there wouldn’t have been any looking back.” For Bandai, putting tech together with gaming presents an opportunity for the company to both create and meet the demand for more sociable and educational play. By growing its portfolio and offering activity-led games for all the family, Bandai says it can reinforce traditional play patterns with integrated tech to appeal to a new generation of children. “What’s so appealing about our games is that the entire range is designed to be fun for all the family, yet cleverly delivers layers of learning and physicality,” explains Nic. “There’s no need for parents to bring other devices or applications into play: everything a family needs for an interactive and fun gaming experience is in the box. What’s more, it truly feels that the added tech in these games isn’t there just for the sake of it – instead, it delivers an additional and authentic new play pattern, especially for the audiences they’re aimed at.” Over the next few pages, Toy World takes a look at the latest games & puzzles set to shake up the category for 2019.


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Games & Puzzles

John Adams 01480 414 361 | www.johnadams.co.uk In Shake Off!, the more players shake, the more they score. To begin the game, a spinner is used to decide where the shake-o-meter must be worn; once ready, the player then presses the timer and starts to shake. The family challenge game Whoopee Doo is sure to get the family giggling. Players sit on the large inflatable whoopee cushion and complete challenges before the time runs out, otherwise they’ll blow off in front of everybody. Clock It! also sees players racing against the clock; participants place 12 cards around the clock-face board and start the timer, which shows the card they have to draw, mime or describe to the other players. Competitors guess as many cards as possible before the time runs out. Also joining the range is Bank Attack, an intense and addictive collaborative game which sees families working together as a team. Each person is assigned a role; they then use and swap tools, making sure they press buttons at the right time to open the vault before the alarm goes off. Six levels of challenging play increase the intensity of the game, with the aim being to crack the vault and take home the $50m. With Tetris celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2019, the collection has been extended to include new single and multiplayer games based around the iconic Tetrimino shapes. Tetris Quake is a stacking, shaking, strategy game where skills and nerves are tested to their limits, while players must prove they’ve got the quickest reactions in the card game Tetris Speed. The Tetrimino puzzle puts grey matter to the test as players try to re-build the 3D 16 piece puzzle. The Rubik’s Edge 3x3x1 Cube is a single layer puzzle with nine cubes in a square, while Rubik’s Cage is a fun and strategic game of Tic Tac Toe for up to four players. It may seem easy to get three in a row, but the Cube can be twisted and turned to re-shuffle the game, and can even be turned upside down to really confuse an opponent. In Rubik’s Match, players race to build the pattern on the challenge cards, using their own set of Cubie Cards. The first person to complete the pattern wins the round. There’s plenty of fun for younger kids too with the new action game Shark Chase, in which players must escape the shark to be the winner. Finally, The Strictly Come Dancing range has been extended with a family card game inspired by the hit show, and a brand-new Glitter Ball Challenge game. All key new launches will benefit from TV, VOD and digital advertising as well as full PR and social media plans.

Hasbro 0208 569 1234 | www.hasbro.co.uk Hasbro Gaming’s new Monopoly L.O.L. Surprise! Edition lets players buy, sell and swap dolls shown on the game board, as they aim to collect the most coveted doll in each club. Surprise! Cards replace Chance cards, stars and emojis replace houses and hotels, and the tokens have become authentic L.O.L. Surprise! Doll accessories. Players are even offered a surprise experience when they unwrap the game tokens for the first time. In the Tiny Pony Solo Table Tennis Game, users launch the ball off the court and bounce it repeatedly to rack up points by simply moving the court back and forth under the ball. To increase difficulty, players can switch from Beginner mode to Expert mode. The game responds with lights and sounds as players try to beat their highest score by getting as many bounces in as they can. The kids' game Porcupine Pop combines simple play with silliness and suspense. Players roll the dice, press the porcupine's nose the given number of times, and hope his darts don't fly out. The only player not to make the porcupine pop wins. The game also lets kids switch up the play mode, enabling a round where the winner is the first person to make the porcupine pop. In Plumber Pants, players take turns raiding the plumber’s toolbox and loading the tools onto his belt. Care is required; if the plumber's pants fall down on a player's turn, water will spray from the sink and that player will be out. The player who doesn’t make the plumber’s pants fall down wins the game. The voice analysis in Hasbro’s adult Lie Detector party game is designed to detect subtleties in a person's voice, to help players discover who's telling the truth - and who's not. The player in the hot seat is asked uncomfortable Yes or No questions; telling the truth will earn them points, but a lie gives the point to their opponent. The Slow-Motion Race Game is a laugh-out-loud race to the finish line. Two players put on the speed-monitoring headbands, press the button, listen for the music, and then race to the trophy in slow motion. If they go too fast the headband will buzz. If it does, the player has to freeze until the buzzing stops.

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Games & Puzzles

Ravensburger 01869 363 830 | www.ravensburger.com Building on the success of Disney Villainous, Labyrinth, Bugs in the Kitchen and Harry Potter Pictopia, Ravensburger is introducing Google Know! This ‘always-current’ quiz game is the world’s first board game to be developed in collaboration with Google. Other highlights include Monster Splat, Bugacula, Jaws and Ramses. For younger children, there are fun and simple games based on Toy Story 4, Frozen II and Peppa Pig. The multi-award winning ThinkFun range is packed with STEMinspired games, backed by the company’s 35-year heritage and a love of truly original ideas. Rush Hour is a best-seller within the portfolio, with Gravity Maze, Zingo, Roller Coaster Challenge, Swish and Balance Beans hot on its heels. Rush Hour will be supported with TV advertising this autumn. Strong movies and the very best character licences are the cornerstones of Ravensburger’s range. Known for its creative designs, the company has captured all the fun of How to Train your Dragon/The Hidden World (available now), Toy Story 4 and The Secret Life of Pets (both available from the end of April), plus Frozen II which is slated for release in October. Other key licences include the award-winning Peppa Pig range, Harry Potter, The Gruffalo, Disney Princess, Thomas & Friends, PJ Masks, Bing, Fantastic Beasts, Spirit, Rusty Rivets, That’s Not My…, Enchantimals, Top Wing and School of Roars. Ravensburger’s puzzle range offers hobbyists highly collectible images, plus fresh, interesting designs to tempt newcomers to this popular category. Highlights of the 80+ new designs for this year include Home for Christmas - this year’s much anticipated limited-edition design - plus The Fantasy Toy Shop, Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Collector’s Edition and Harry Potter. The ultimate puzzling challenge, Krypt Gold, has 631 unique gold-coloured pieces, which fans are challenged to assemble by shape alone. Launches in 3D will include the iconic Harry Potter Knight Bus, a clever 216-piece design that results in an impressive model with secret storage compartments, making it an ideal gift or collectible for any Harry Potter fan. Scheduled for an autumn release are the beautiful ice-blue Frozen II castle, the Porsche GT3, and a quintessentially British red London Bus. The 3D puzzle category will be backed with TV advertising in the autumn.

Gibsons020 8661 8866 | www.gibsonsgames.co.uk This year sees Gibsons celebrate 100 years as a British family run business. In celebration of this, the company is releasing a variety of new puzzle ranges and a selection of family and quick-play games. L’Attaque was the first of Gibsons’ ‘big four’ military-themed games back in the early 20th century, and Gibsons will be relaunching the game later this year to celebrate its centenary on 15th May. The box artwork has been carefully recreated to mimic an original version of the game, and inside the box are the original rules, as well as the modern ones, as a memento of the game from Gibsons’ archives. A range of special edition 1,000 piece puzzles, made in the UK and presented in compact boxes to avoid excess waste, is also introduced this year. Paper tabs hold the box together, making them kinder to the environment by reducing plastic use. Amongst the jigsaws is Cream Teas & Queuing, a 1000 piece puzzle designed by Val Goldfinch featuring an illustrated collection of 100 British historical landmarks, quirks and idiosyncrasies. Wonderful World also joins the portfolio, showing scenes from around the globe, including Japan’s majestic Mount Fuji and the Acropolis in Athens. This 1,000 piece puzzle has been illustrated by the same artist as the Gibsons’ best-selling Beautiful Britain puzzle. Gibsons has also launched a brand-new children’s collection. Three new Little Gibsons jigsaws are available now and a further four jigsaws and games are arriving in the summer, all of which have been tailor-made for inquisitive pre-schoolers. The three new jigsaw puzzles are made from the same high-quality materials as Gibsons’ award-winning adult jigsaw range, guaranteeing durability and resilience. Each jigsaw has been designed by a British artist and is presented in an innovative box that links to the artwork theme. For example, 36-piece puzzle Camp Gibsons is the first ever puzzle to be presented in a tent shaped box, which complements the explorative treasure map puzzle that’s inside, while the Sweet Dreams puzzle is presented in a striking crystal-ball shaped box to portray the mystical dream-world jigsaw inside, which is bursting with unicorns and llamas.

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Crocodile Creek’s new Shape Town puzzle is 18" x 24", with 24 pieces made of strong, high-quality cardboard printed with soy-based inks. The colourful puzzle encourages hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills and problem solving, and includes a ‘Can you find’ activity for child and adult interaction. The inside cover also features a guide which helps kids learn shapes, colours and numbers. Mudpuppy’s new Guessing Games sees players ask yes or no questions to guess the other player’s character and win. The sturdy game boards feature 18 fun images, while dry erase markers and no loose pieces mean the games can be played in the car, on the train or plane, or at home.

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Games & Puzzles

Cheatwell 02392 524098 | www.cheatwell.com Cheatwell’s new board game, Quicksand, proved popular at London Toy Fair. Offering sand-scribbling fun, this frantic game brings fun and laughter to any social get-together. With over 300 topics and almost 2,000 things for players to draw, Quicksand is an imaginative family game that brings home all the seaside fun of sketching in the sand. Pickles to Penguins is a rapid reaction party game for fun-loving competitors everywhere. There’s no taking turns; it’s simply a race to get rid of the cards as fast as possible. Players check their hand, and if they spot a link with the cards on the table then they can play them. However, stretching the connection too far will result in a penalty. There are hundreds of pictures, but the real challenge is seeing how many can be linked together. I Spy With My Little Eye is the ultimate observation game. If a player can spot the lot then they are guaranteed to be the winner. This great game from Cheatwell helps children develop their observation and communication skills. Engenius Contraptions is a flat-packed, put-it-together-yourself marble run designed to both puzzle and delight kids. Powered by an electric motor, the marbles rise to the top before descending down the spiral followed by the zig-zag track, both mesmerising and rewarding marble fans. Engenius Contraptions won Gift of the Year at Spring Fair earlier this year.

Paul Lamond Games 020 7254 0100 | www.paul-lamond.com

Emmerse Studios hello@emmersestudios.com | www.quirkthegame.com The laugh-out-loud family card game series Quirk!, from Emmerse Studios, is growing in popularity following a successful Spring Fair which has further enhanced buyers’ awareness of the brand. Quirk! is an easy to grasp card game that plays like go-fish charades; players are invited to do impressions and act out characters, such as a dog, pirate, unicorn, alien or werewolf, to win cards from their opponents. The player with the most quirks at the end is the winner. The game, suitable for ages 5 and above, encourages children to use their imagination to express themselves while building social and communication skills. There are three games in the series, all compatible for added play value. Quirk! Original, Quirk! Legends and Quirk! Monsters are available now, along with striking CDUs for efficient display in-store. For seasonal buyers looking for something fresh and different for this year, Quirk! is compact in size, making it perfect for family summer holidays, while the new Monsters themed game will be ideal for Halloween parties.

New from The World of David Walliams is the Gangsta Granny Stash the Swag board game, winner of a London Toy Fair Hero Toy Award for 2019. This easy-toplay family game, for 2-4 players aged seven years and over, encourages strategic thinking, as players try to avoid the Queen while collecting and stashing all the jewels. The new Oi Frog! Memory Card Game in a Tin and three Oi 35-piece puzzles are perfect for pre-schoolers. Starring the renowned Oi Frog! Oi Cat! and Oi Dog! characters from the award-winning rhyming story books, these eye-catching products are educational, colourful and fun. Also new this spring are the I Spy Eagle Eye family game and the I Spy pre-school game. Both these fun and educational games see players racing to spot matches. New to the trivia scene is Are You Dumber Than a Box of Rocks? Players pit their knowledge against the Rocks in this hilarious, quick-play trivia card game for players aged 12 and over. The game is perfect for parties as any number of players can take part. For fun that spans generations, Shaboom! is a ‘find it fast, do it first’ family game featuring a fast-paced competition with 100 events to challenge observation, skill and dexterity. Players have to stack, roll, bounce and spell their way to victory. With warmer weather and lighter evenings just around the corner, Flickin’ Chicken offers outdoor family fun. In this game of insane chicken throwing, players must try and hit the target with chickens that bounce and roll. A go-anywhere game, Flickin’ Chicken is perfect for the garden, the park, the beach and holidays. Brand new to the family puzzles sector is a range of 500-4000 piece jigsaws from Educa Puzzles. This collection, from the world-renowned Spanish company Educa Borras, features classic puzzle favourites, panorama puzzles and on-trend images.

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Spin Master 01628 535 000 | www.spinmastertoys.co.uk Hedbanz will continue to be a key focus in Spin Master’s games line with TV support in autumn/winter. Spring sees the refresh of Hedbanz Disney edition, the fun and silly party game featuring famous Disney characters and Mickey-ears headbands. Younger kids can enjoy their own version of the hilarious quick question game with the animal-themed HedBanz Jr. Players select a card from the deck and stick it in their head band, taking turns asking ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions to work out the answer to the big question: ‘What animal am I?’ Kids can turn to the clue cards and mats to narrow down their choices. The first player to guess correctly wins. Beat the Parents brings kids together with their parents for a head-to-head fun-filled family trivia game. Players aim to prove who’s the boss, as the adults answer questions about kids’ stuff and the kids answer questions their parents should know. The game features new challenge cards for autumn. A fast-paced game where players’ fingers do the seeing, The Sock Game puts sensory skills to the test for family game nights. Included in each set are two socks and an assortment of random items. Players turn the spinner on the board, then race to reach into the sock and feel their way to the chosen object; the first player to find their object wins a point. The game can also be customised by placing items from around the home into each sock and writing them down on the board’s blank spaces. Fun for adults and kids alike, this interactive family game encourages players to work together as they share hilarious moments. Finally, The Cat Game is a fun drawing game. Participants pick a card, draw the clue and see if the other players can guess the answer, either by facing off individually or breaking into teams to battle it out. This game is ideal for both small and large groups alike, and the hairy, pet-able packaging makes it a great conversation-starter or gift for cat lovers.

Tactic Games 01483 332 070 | www.tactic.net Tactic Games introduces Speedy Beedy, a fun and action-filled matching game for younger children. Players must buzz their bee across the meadow to pick the correct flowers before their opponent does. Turning a card will reveal the order the flowers should be picked in but players must be quick; the fastest bee scores the points. The winner is the first person to collect and stack all the flowers in the right order, while watching out for the caterpillar. Don’t Upset the Llama is a fast paced reaction game for all the family to enjoy. Each player receives a deck of cards and the Llama spray gun is placed in the middle, with players rolling the dice to decide the action and revealing the cards one by one. lf the image on the card upsets the llama, players must to grab the spray gun before anyone else does, and squirt any other player. The aim is to be the fastest player and avoid getting sprayed - the driest person at the end wins. Doodle Doo is a hilarious drawing game with a twist. Players must draw their way through abdominal animal mazes blindfolded as they make their way to the ‘rear exit’. If a player touches the sides with the pen, a whoopee cushion will sound and the next player takes a turn. Four double sided animals provide different levels of skill and fun.

Interplay 01628 488 944 | www.interplayuk.com Interplay UK will be introducing the comprehensive portfolio of PlayMonster games from summer. Hero titles include Orangutwang, Relative Insanity, Take ‘N’ Play and the award winning 5 Second Rule brand, plus many more. With a dedicated new games category, the range will benefit from a strong commercial focus and marketing investment which will offer a significant boost to the already strong Interplay UK business. The best-selling, award-winning game 5 Second Rule will be relaunched with new content and packaging, as a main board game, in a Junior version and as a mini game. Orangutwang is a fun, suspenseful and wild game, in which players see how much they can hang before the ape goes twang. Relative Insanity, a hilarious party game created by American stand-up comedian and television personality Jeff Foxworthy, tasks players to say their funniest responses to scenarios. Interplay is also making a number of the popular Take ‘N’ Play games available, all based on proven play patterns encased in a magnetic tin. A range of titles is on offer, including Tic Tac Toe and Matching, both perfect for fun on the go. Available at retail from July 2019 onwards, the new games portfolio will have a refreshed look with new content and packaging, and will be supported by marketing campaigns and a range of TV, PR and social media activities.

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Bandai 020 8324 6160 | www.bandai.co.uk While the UK board games market continues to grow, Bandai has recognised a gap in the sector for accessible, quality interactive games. Partnering with games company Zanzoon, Bandai is releasing a range of engaging family games combining fun and learning with strong mainstream appeal. The family games portfolio launches for autumn/winter with the iconic Magic Jinn, an interactive game featuring a mind-reading cat that uses voice recognition to guess which animal the player is thinking of. Magic Jinn responds to ‘yes’, ‘no’ and ‘it depends’, and is guaranteed to reveal players’ answers within 12 questions. The company will also be launching brand new games Fan Zone and Froggy Party. Fan Zone features over 500 football related questions and can be set to one of two modes – 7+ or 14+ - depending on the ease/difficulty of play required. The virtual games master can test players on five football topics to discover the ultimate football fan, and will also explain the rules, ask the questions, count the points and give out scores without the need for any additional devices or applications. Froggy Party stimulates imagination, concentration and agility, and boasts 50 different challenges to encourage children as young as four to get active while having fun. The interactive frog instructs kids to sing, dance or imitate before running to the nearest lily pad. Combining entertainment with physical play, Froggy Party includes everything required for an engaging and enjoyable interactive gaming experience. Bandai is also expanding its offering within the gifting and tech games space with Gorilla Games. A range of classic arcade games is now available in miniature for ‘finger-sized’ play; featuring light and sound effects, the games are set to appeal to children while also tapping into the popular kidult trend. Punch King is the ultimate boxing arcade game in a portable size, which lets players battle to discover who has the most power. Two modes are available and challenge cards extend the play value. Finally, Hammer King brings ‘King of the Hammer’ play to finger size – players simply pull back their fingers, flick and release to try and hit the highest scores.

Jumbo 01707 289 289 | www.jumbo.eu Having already released 60 new adult puzzles in January across its popular Wasgij, Falcon de Luxe, Jan van Haasteren and Premium Puzzle collections, Jumbo will be releasing a further 15 this April and another 15+ in June. Jumbo’s leading puzzle brand, Wasgij, remains the UK’s No. 1 Adult Puzzle Brand. Three new 1,000-piece puzzles will launch in June, joining the six puzzles released in January. Wasgij Christmas 15 ‘Santa’s Unexpected Delivery!’ will again include a free 1,000-piece puzzle for added value. To drive strong growth for the Falcon de Luxe puzzle brand, Jumbo is bringing out a further 10 new puzzles across 500-1,500-piece formats in April, adding to the 10 new puzzles launched in January. An additional 10 new puzzles are on the way for June, including the must-have Christmas 1,000-piece puzzle - ‘Santa’s Special Delivery’ which includes a free 1,000-piece puzzle. Jumbo will be releasing four new 1,000-piece puzzles for Dumbo, Aladdin, The Lion King, and The Little Mermaid’s 30th Anniversary, featuring classic artwork from the much-loved original animations. For Disney Pixar’s Toy Story 4, which premieres in UK cinemas on the 21st June, Jumbo Games offers an exciting new puzzle collection which will be available from the end of April. The movie-focused range includes a 4 Shaped Puzzle Set, a 50-Piece Movie Poster Puzzle, a 4-in-1 Puzzle Pack, and the 4-in-1 Round Puzzles set, as well as the creative Puzzle & Colour Box Set. Jumbo will also be supporting Disney’s Frozen 2, which lands in cinemas on the 22nd November. Jumbo’s range of Frozen 2 puzzles, plus a new board game, will be available from October. Jumbo Games has launched a new collection of pre-school games produced using 100% fully recycled materials. There are four games in the range - Catch the Mouse, Colour Chameleon, Honey Yummy and Peek-A-Boo - all designed to help children in their early development years. Having produced all its puzzles on 100% recycled cardboard for decades, this is the next step in Jumbo ‘sustainability’ strategy across its puzzle & game portfolio throughout the business. To support the launch of these new games, Jumbo has invested in in-store POS and online material that will help inform customers of the environmentally friendly production process, while driving sales for retailers. With the new pre-school property Moon & Me already topping the viewing charts, and with consumer demand for product building steadily, Jumbo Games will be releasing four puzzles aimed at pre-schoolers this autumn/winter; the range includes the 4 Shaped Puzzles set, 4-in-1 Puzzle Pack, Giant Shaped Floor Puzzle and a Story Puzzle. Jumbo’s range of the classic Beatrix Potter inspired Peter Rabbit puzzles is a strong choice for those looking for evergreen fan favourites. The 4 Shaped Puzzle Box Set and Giant Floor Puzzle have become popular among parents, and support for the property remains strong YOY. Finally, the Disney Junior puzzle range for pre-school properties Vampirina, Puppy Dog Pals and Muppet Babies includes 4 Shaped Puzzles and 4-in-1 Puzzle Packs – both these popular formats are suitable for ages 3+.

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Character Options 01616 339 800 | www.character-online.com Character Options will launch two fun family games in 2019 that present a modern twist on classic favourites. Up to date with the YouTube trend, and with over 500m views, the What’s in the Box? challenge game sees players of all ages blindguessing what’s inside a table top crate. Each set contains the all-important box, a timer and instructions on two ways to play. Players have 10 seconds to make their guess before passing the box to the next player so they can take their turn. When everyone has taken their turn, the answers can be compared to see if anyone has guessed correctly. For even more hilarity, participants can open the side panel of the box so that everyone except the ‘guesser’ can see what’s inside. A high-energy adrenaline-fuelled game for all the family, Tap It is a brand new electronic game featuring four electronic light-up pods with four different modes of play. Players can connect the pods together for a game of Pong, lining them up in sequence before passing the ‘light’ from one side of the line to the next. The loser is the player who misses the pass back, much like a game of Ping-Pong. In Wireless, each player is allocated a colour. When the game starts, each player has to find and then tap their coloured pod to switch the colours up again. Game play gets faster as the players progress through the levels, with a point scored by a player if they are the fastest to tap their allocated colour. Players can challenge their brain power with a game of Memory. The aim is to repeat the light-up sequence shown by the pods, but the pattern becomes faster and longer as the players progress through the levels. Finally, players can position the pods around the room and allocate everyone a colour for a game of Switch. When the game starts, each player needs to race to their coloured pod. The first to tap their coloured pod ‘switches’ the colours up, and a change in direction is required.

Asmodee UK 01420 593 593 | www.asmodee.co.uk Perhaps the most attentiongrabbing new product from Asmodee UK is Harry Potter Dobble. Set to launch in the summer, this combination of J.K. Rowling’s beloved wizarding world and the UK’s biggestselling game of 2018 will delight fans of both brands, as they attempt to spot the single matching image between two cards. Each card is decorated with stylised imagery of Harry and his friends, magical creatures, Hogwarts houses and more. The popular drawing game Telestrations sees all players simultaneously sketch out a word from a secret card, before passing their drawing to their neighbour, who guesses the word. Their guess is then passed along again for another drawing, continuing until everyone has their original sketchbook back. This chain of creativity leads to hilarious, unpredictable outcomes that will have everyone in stitches. Telestrations’ broad appeal makes it an ideal headliner for Asmodee’s new dedicated Party Games range, which will debut over the summer with widespread demonstrations at family events and festivals. Also featuring in the range is Time’s Up, in which players are split into teams and take turns to describe a variety of famous names to their team-mates against the clock. At first they can say anything other than the name on the card, then just a single word, and in the final round can do nothing but mime. Meanwhile, Asmodee’s Fun Fast Games range is building on a strong first year, led by the phenomenal success of Dobble. The speedy observation challenge epitomises the range, which offers great games that reward in-store demonstration. Fun Fast Games also includes Bananagrams, Cobra Paw, Rory’s Story Cubes and Who Did It? plus Dice Academy – a new addition for 2019. Asmodee can provide eye-catching POS material to support the games range in-store.

Siso Toys UK 01620 674 778 | www.simba-dickie-group.de Siso Toys UK introduces Springing Spiders to the games and puzzles category later this year. The game pits players against each other in a fun challenge against the clock. Up to four players set up a spider web and select a colour of spider - white, orange, green or black – before taking turns to launch the spiders into the air. The aim of the game is to try and land the spiders on the web; the player with the most spiders on the web when the timer runs out wins the game. Springing Spiders will launch in September, just in time for Halloween, and Siso Toys UK will be supporting the game with a TV campaign.

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THE UK’S NUMBER 1 SELLING ADULT PUZZLE BRAND!*

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20 NEW PUZZLES AVAILABLE FOR SPRING/SUMMER

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CONTACT YOUR JUMBO SALES REP FOR MORE INFORMATION Jumbo Games, 2 Carters Row, Hatfield Park, Hatfield, UK, AL9 5NB Telephone: 01707-289289 Email: uk.saleshotline@jumbo.eu www.jumbo.eu


Games & Puzzles

Mattel 01628 500 000 | www.mattel.com Pictionary Air is the newest Pictionary experience from Mattel. Launching in autumn/winter, the game includes a special pen with a light-up tip, and pairs with a Pictionary Air mobile app. Gameplay is similar to original Pictionary except that the drawer uses the light-up pen to illustrate their clue in the air, and players can interact with the picture. The guessing team points the in-app camera at the player doing the drawing, and their masterpiece will appear on the screen. This new Pictionary gameplay offers multiple ways to play, and the option to record players’ turns makes for hilarious replays. Adding excitement to the games portfolio in spring/summer is the entertaining guessing and bluffing game, Balderdash. This family game features compelling, unbelievable but true content in five categories; famous people, words, initials, laws and movies. Players can make up creative definitions and guesses to read alongside the real answers, to test how well they can fake it, and score points by writing the most believable answer and calling other players’ bluff. In Mattel’s strategic game, Blokus, players stake their claim and protect their territory. Participants take turns placing their 21 pieces on the board; each piece must touch another of the same colour, but only at the corners. The aim is to fit as many pieces on the board as possible while strategically blocking opponents. The game ends when no more pieces can be placed, and the player with the lowest number of pieces remaining wins. Following a strong introduction in 2018, Flushin’ Frenzy will continue to offer families silly and gross toilet humour throughout 2018. The game will also be supported by a wider marketing campaign with TV advertising in April. Finally, Mattel’s world class heritage brands Scrabble and Uno continue to bring families and friends together.

Big Potato 07472 824 526 | www.bigpotato.co.uk The golden age of video rentals is back as Big Potato introduces Blockbuster, a simple party game for anyone who has ever seen a movie. To start, players split into two teams. In round one, each team will get to choose one of their members to go head-to-head in a quick-fire buzzer battle. From ‘Famous trilogies’ to ‘Movies with a zombie in’, these two players must think quickly, shout out a movie and slap the buzzer to put the pressure on their opponent. The first player to run out of ideas loses the round (and gives their opponents a serious advantage in round two). In round two the player that won the buzzer battle picks up six movie cards, gives the hardest three to their opponent and keeps the rest. When ready, they’ll get 30 seconds to get their team to shout out the movies by using three tricky techniques – acting out the film, making up a quote and describing the movies with just one word. Get them right quickly enough and the player will have a chance to steal from their opponents; take it too slowly and those same opponents might get a chance to steal from them. With 200 classic movies, 60 category cards and a (nearly) life-size replica of a Blockbuster carpark, this is a party game that promises to bring home the entertainment again and again.

Rummikub 01480 414 361 | www.johnadams.co.uk Boasting a rich history, it’s now estimated that over 50m copies of family favourite Rummikub games have been sold to date in 54 countries around the world. Following a triumphant year for Rummikub - which culminated in the 10th World Rummikub Championships in Israel - popularity in the UK continues to grow, as families switch off their screens in favour of wholesome family fun. Since its introduction to the UK market, Rummikub has sold over 1m games and in 2018 secured the coveted No. 1 spot in the Family Strategy Game category (NPD data FY 2018). Throughout 2019, Rummikub will benefit from a full 360 marketing strategy across TV, VOD and digital as well as full PR and social media plans. Following on from the success of the UK National Championship at the UK Games Expo last year, there will also be a tournament for ‘Rummikubers’ to enjoy at the 2019 UK Games Expo.

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9 BRAND NEW PUZZLES FOR SPRING/SUMMER!

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40+ BRAND NEW PUZZLES AVAILABLE NOW!

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CONTACT YOUR JUMBO SALES REP FOR MORE INFORMATION Jumbo Games, 2 Carters Row, Hatfield Park, Hatfield, UK, AL9 5NB Telephone: 01707-289289 Email: uk.saleshotline@jumbo.eu www.jumbo.eu


Games & Puzzles

Hy-Pro 01582 670100 | www.hyprosports.com To celebrate its exponential growth in the game table business, Hy-Pro is launching a whole suite of new offerings. The 3-in-1 Twin Shot Basketball System allows players to tackle solo mode or compete head to head with friends and family, while the Vortex Air Hockey Table features new puck surge technology designed to keep players on their guard by delivering extra speed, sending the puck zooming back and forth. Each table is crafted to deliver unplugged experiences and face-to-face play for families and friends alike, as they challenge each other to battle it out over their favourite sports. Utilising its expertise in the games table industry, Hy-Pro is also expanding into home recreation products. Customers can now play their favourite arcade-style games together as a family, with products that suit all budgets, preferences and age ranges. The range is set to include 3-in-1 sports centres and over-the-door basketball units, both of which save space and are easy to store.

Green Board Games 01494 538 999 | www.greenboardgames.com Designing games which facilitate both fun and learning has always been at the core of Green Board Games. Its acclaimed range of quick-play BrainBox games, which are designed to improve knowledge, memory and observational skills, has further bolstered the company’s award-winning status and now welcomes a new licensed addition. The impending launch of BrainBox Disney Princesses, as well as Disney - All Your Favourite Classics, brings the world of Ariel, Aurora, Cinderella and other Disney favourites to families this year, while The World of Disney Board Game and a Pixar BrainBox Board Game also make their debut. Green Board Games is increasing its focus on the Mindware range, a selection of games and puzzles highlighted for their ability to foster life-long learning. Strategy game fans will enjoy Double Spot; a new addition for ages 6+, this simple game of matching colours and shapes offers extra layers of skill, making it an inclusive mixed-ability game for all the family. Mad Moose is a new range of competitively-priced family games for impulse and gifting purchases, offering a variety of fun games across different play formats. The line-up includes Alpha Chase, which won the Green Board Games 2017 Young Inventor Competition. The company is also targeting the pre-school market with its news Footsteps range. Suitable for kids up to three years of age, this brand sees trend-setting designs combined with a strong learning ethos and play patterns that encourage early skill development. The collection includes proven formats such as Stacking Cubes and Puzzle Cubes, to help children fine-tune their matching ability and motor skills while improving hand to eye coordination. With RRP typically under £10, Footsteps is a promising capsule range for retailers of any size.

Vivid 01483 449944 | www.vividtoysandgames.co.uk As part of the Goliath family, Vivid will be introducing over 20 new games into the market in 2019 across the pre-school, kids and family games categories. Launching July 2019, Gator Golf is a fun golfing game for children. Players must use the flamingo-shaped putter to putt the coloured balls into the gator’s mouth and watch as it returns the balls. Each ball they putt scores one point; scoring four points wins the game. Kids must save their catch before the shark’s jaws snap shut in Shark Bite. The fish must be rescued from the shark's mouth using the fishing rod, but players need to be careful - it might bite. A roll of the dice will dictate how many fish need saving, and the player with the most fish at the end of the game is the winner. Dragon’s Snacks also joins the new introductions for 2019. A unique proposition with an innovative light-reveal feature in the dragon’s belly, players must take it in turns to peek inside and try to remove the coloured snacks. However, if the dragon burps the snack must be replaced. Last but not least is the popular family game Wordsearch, a board game twist on the UK’s most popular word puzzle. Players compete to spot words in one of the special pre-printed puzzles. Game play is simple; the more they spot, the more they score. The game comes complete with 10 double sided game cards for plenty of play value. Also available is Wordsearch Junior. Designed especially for children, the game offers a fun way to improve word identification and spelling.

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Rachel Lowe 07957 186 064 |

Accentuate 07713 877 032/ 07748 184 525 | www.accentuategames.com

www.rachellowe.co.uk

Launched in mid-2018, Frenetic, from Accentuate Games, is set for its first full year in the board games market. With 2019 marking the 150th anniversary of the discovery of The Periodic Table by Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev, the company is pleased to showcase its frenzied word game of the elements. Frenetic challenges players aged eight years and over to form words from symbols scattered around a board, honing literacy and rapid maths skills whilst subtly introducing knowledge of the elements that make up everything around us. More than 10,000 words can be created using combinations of the element symbols of the Periodic Table, and the novel scoring system adds a fun twist to the game; individuals or teams score points equivalent to the atomic numbers of each tile used to create the word. For example, Ba Na Na = Banana = 78 points. The first player to 1,000 points wins. The highest scoring element symbol is Og (Oganesson), with an atomic number score of 118. It’s also one of the 10 red element symbols on the board which allow players to achieve a double word score if they can use it within a word. Since its launch, Frenetic has racked up an impressive set of awards and has been honoured with a prestigious Green Tick from The Association of Science in Education.

In 2017, Rachel Lowe launched the official re-make of the original Jumanji board game, and last Christmas she released an original game based on the BBC One hit Call the Midwife. Both games have proved popular with fans of the franchises and within the wider game industry. Rachel’s Jumanji game went to the top of the UK Amazon rankings in the board games category two years running alongside Cards Against Humanity and other best-sellers and won Product of the Year at the Toy Industry Awards in January 2019. In just three months since its release, the Call the Midwife game has been snapped up by fans across the globe, and is now being stocked by Waterstones and John Lewis. Also known for the Destination Series, which featured on the original series of BBC’s cusing specifically on licensed products, an area that she is passionate about. The Jumanji and Call the Midwife games are just part of a collection of games and activities that Rachel has brought to market. She recently released 500 and 1,000 piece puzzles of Laurel and Hardy to celebrate the release of the new movie Stan & Ollie, and - fresh from last year’s cinema hit Hotel Transylvania 3 - devised a board game, 100-piece jigsaw puzzle and a snap game to accompany the film when it came out on DVD last autumn. The Hotel Transylvania board game follows Drac and Mavis as they embark on a cruise ship adventure with the whole Drac Pack. Players compete in cruise ship activities and collect musthave travel accessories to win the game. Plans for other licensed products are currently in the pipeline. Finally, the Portsmouth Puzzle, available in a 1,000 piece puzzle and a 200 piece junior edition, celebrates Rachel’s home town, its attractions and landmarks, and has sold well in the region.

GP Flair 020 8643 0320 | www.flairplc.co.uk Belly Bashimi comes with two inflatable bellies so players can assume the role of sumo wrestler. The aim is for the sumo to knock their opponent out of the ring with one belly push, as they try to collect the Sashimi playing pieces included in the box. For the cerebrally minded, 20Q is a tech toy and game that always knows what players are thinking, thanks to its in-built algorithms. The concept is simple; users think of something and then let 20Q guess what it is. Impressively, the game will invariably succeed in doing so in less than its allotted 20 questions. Those who loved the original are reassured that the new 20Q is smarter than ever and comes with a new ergonomic design that makes playing even easier. Players can use 20Q solo, testing it against whatever object they can think of, or amaze their friends. With 20Q’s help, it will appear as if they can read minds. Finally, HeadSplat is a water challenge game, which challenges players to use their heads to flip a water balloon into the splash out cup. If they hit the rim or miss the cup altogether, the balloon will burst, and they'll get splattered.

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Clementoni 020 3206 1397 | www.clementoni.com In May, Clementoni will launch a range of licensed Harry Potter puzzles for adults and children across the company’s most popular formats – Impossible 1000 piece, Panorama 1000 piece and a Special Edition 1000 piece in a Harry Potter style briefcase presentation box. All puzzles will be made from the highest quality materials and will feature striking imagery from the movie franchise. The company has seen success with its licensed puzzle portfolio and is pleased to be part of the Harry Potter family for 2019.

Smart Games 01903 885669 | www.smartgames.eu Merlin Games 07951 824 608 | www.merlingames.co.uk Merlin Games launched its first board game, Thieves The Most Exciting Game of Strategy and Chance, at the UK Games Expo in 2018. The game won both the Judges’ and People’s Choice awards for Best Abstract Game, and shortly afterwards picked up Imagination Gaming’s Family Gold Award. Its designer, Nigel Roper, states that the company’s ethos is to ‘create exciting, beautiful games with simple rules and deep, infinitely variable gameplay’. Merlin Games aims to create for the mass market, within the oxymoron genre of ‘themed abstracts’. Thieves was inspired by both the Norse myth of the dragon Fafnir’s hoard of gold and the mechanics and styling of ancient games. In Thieves, two players compete to steal a hoard of gold from the heart of the dragon’s lair. They direct the moves and actions of their gangs of thieves through a labyrinth of coloured doors that open and close with every roll of the pair of dice. Players have three goals: to take the treasure, to keep it and to escape with it. The rules are simple enough to learn within five minutes, but complexity emerges in play. An eight year old can play an 80 year old and - with luck and a grasp of strategy - the beginner can sometimes win. Throughout a game of Thieves, the players' strategic skills are challenged by the dice, which compel players to keep adapting their plans. Consequently, every play will be different. A game typically last 30 minutes, although the skill and fortune of the players, as well as the pace of play, can result in shorter or longer times. Duration and outcomes are never predictable, as Thieves is full of reversals until one player finally escapes with the gold. Good luck may result in a few wins, which encourages novices, but the superior strategist will triumph over a series of games. Thieves appeals equally to children and adults, and to casual as well as keen board gamers. At home or in pubs and cafes, the gameplay typically provokes excitement, laughter and conversation. For more information, contact Nigel Roper (nigel@ merlingames.co.uk) or UK distributor Asmodee on 01420 593 593 / sales@asmodee.co.uk.

A leading designer of multi-level logic games, Smart Games has become known for producing unique games and puzzles with innovative and engaging mechanics. Kids can enjoy an interactive trip to the farm next spring with Smart Games’ Smart Farmer, a fun game for players aged five and above. The pigs, sheep, horses and cows are making a mess and need to be separated, but with only three fences to divide the field into separate meadows, players need to give their strategy some serious thought. Kids must place the fences so the animals each gets their own space, and mustn’t forget about the animal’s water either they each need their own supply. Smart Games’ latest one player compact game is sure to have kids puzzled. Colour Catch challenges players to place the puzzle pieces on the game board so that the frogs and salamanders capture the bugs and match the colours shown in each of the 48 challenges. But the animals are transparent, and their colours will change on different parts of the game board. Budding car enthusiasts will love Smart Car Mini, a game that encourages players to use their brain to create a car. Players build their car according to the plan by placing four blocks correctly, before taking it for a test drive. Smart Car Mini is a fun, compact, 3D-puzzle with 24 multi-level challenges.

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Brand Profile

Tomy

100 years of games know-how

1959 (TOMY Japan Catal

og)

Drive Game

Home Pinba

ll Game

Basket Ball

Game

C ration/US

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In November 2018, Tomy UK announced the signing of a long-term distribution deal with Drumond Park, the No.1 British-owned games brand, making it the exclusive distributor for all Drumond Park games across the UK & Ireland since the start of 2019. With Tomy celebrating 70 years since the introduction of its games portfolio this year, and Drumond Park marking its 30th anniversary, Toy World caught up with Tomy’s UK & Ireland general manager, Mary Wood, to find out what the future holds. introduced the bigger version to our skill-based range, and it has grown into the classic line that we all know and love.

Having welcomed Drumond Park into its portfolio late last year, Tomy and DP now boast 100 years of games know-how between them. What edge does this give the company?

How has Tomy’s games portfolio evolved since its introduction in 1959? Tomy Japan has been selling games since 1959. One of the company’s earliest success stories was a variety of palm-sized pocket skill games. These were inspired by the cassette tapes of old; a Tomy employee, who used a tape case to keep his stationery in, came up with the idea of creating a series of games the size of cassette tape case, which children could carry around in their pockets. Priced for pocket money purchases, the brand boasted over 130 types of games to choose from; pocket games were like gaming apps in the pre-smart device era.

Claire and Sandy launched Drumond Park in 1989 starting with riddle game Enigma. It took them 15 years to make Drumond Park the UK’s biggest games brand, and in 2019 the company celebrates its 30th anniversary. Drumond’s philosophy has always been ‘It’s all about brands’, which is clearly reflected by the successful portfolio of games that the company has developed over the years. The quality of these games - including the best-sellers Articulate (introduced in 1993), Logo (introduced in 2009) and Rapidough - combined with the Tomy heritage in games such as Screwball Scramble and

Pop up Pirate, makes for exciting times ahead. We feel that our combined 100 years of experience will give us a real edge in the games category in the years to come.

What big new games releases can we look forward to this year, both from Tomy and Drumond Park? We have 10 new games coming to the market in autumn/winter between Drumond and Tomy, which will be heavily supported in the marketplace; both companies understand the level and type of investment required in this competitive category. From Drumond Park comes Puff Ball, a skill-based game for kids of 6+ which challenges players to puff their ball over, through and up the obstacles to win. Snap Dragon is an action game; players pull the dragons tongue and try to collect his coins before he bites. The company is also extending the Articulate family with Articulate Phrases. This new edition challenges players to describe whole phrases, not just a word. Tomy will introduce Sushi Scramble, where players use chopsticks to grab pieces of sushi before the chef can knock them off. Expanding on its heritage, the company also welcomes two new Pirate Pete additions: Pump Up Pirate is a race to pump up the pirates before your opponent, while Pile Up Pirates is a suspense filled stacking game which challenges players to pile up as many pirates as they can before the stack collapses.

It wasn’t until 1975 that Tomy made its mark with the hugely successful Pop Up Pirate. The action game put Tomy on the ladder as a trusted games manufacturer and gave the company a strong brand identity. In the late 70s, outdoor obstacle courses were popular family destinations in Japan, so 1975 also welcomed the pocket-sized version of Screwball Scramble. With a metal ball representing a person undertaking a challenging obstacle course, the game became an instant hit - we couldn’t make enough. We therefore

Where does Tomy see its games portfolio over the next 5-10 years? Tomy and Drumond Park have been around a long time, and will continue to be around for years to come. Both companies know the games market inside and out and can be trusted to introduce new games that consumers will love year after year. We are already planning into 2020, and can’t wait to reveal what’s coming up.

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Gi of the Year

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Games & Puzzles

Winning Moves 0207 298 9507 | www.winningmoves.co.uk Top Trumps Quiz is proving to be a best-seller for Winning Moves, which is expanding its range for 2019 with a number of new editions. With each version offering 500 questions for players of all ages and interests, this ever growing quiz line includes something for everyone to enjoy. Players receive five cards each, before posing the first question to their opponent. Whomever answers correctly wins the card; if it’s a tie, they move onto the next question on the same card. When one of the players has amassed three pairs of cards, the Top Trumps Twist comes into effect; players must shuffle the same cards and play again, using their memory to win back the game. Fans of the sitcom Friends can look forward to the Friends edition Top Trump Quiz. With questions based on iconic moments from the US show, including Ross and Rachel’s Vegas wedding and the classic Holiday Armadillo, players can really test their Friends trivia. Kids can also step into the world of Hogwarts, putting their magical knowledge to the test with the Harry Potter edition. Featuring bamboozling questions based on the Harry Potter movie franchise, even the smartest of witches and wizards will find this a real challenge. Also hitting shelves this year is the Top Trumps Quiz Pub Quiz edition. Players can grab a pint and choose their team name before sitting down to enjoy questions across five different categories: Sports, Music, Film and TV, Science, and General Knowledge. Upping the stakes even further, the General Knowledge category covers anything and everything including art, animals, adverts and acronyms, toys, transport, technology and theme tunes, food and drink, and even weather. Finally, kids can enter the enchanted world of Disney with the family favourite Disney Quiz. Offering 500 questions on everything from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to Toy Story, Up and Zootopia, players need to know Rapunzel from Ratatouille, and Beauty and the Beast from Big Hero 6. An ideal travel companion thanks to its quick open and close case, Top Trumps Quiz can be played on the plane, train or in the car.

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01494 538999

sales@gr nboardgames.com www.gr nboardgames.com

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Games & Puzzles

Orchard Toys 01953 423 422 | www.orchardtoys.com Orchard Toys has added five new lines to its existing range of educational games and jigsaws. The company’s latest launches include a sound game that combines a board game with an app, plus a preschool jigsaw puzzle which provides learning and fun for children as young as two years old. The board game Sound Detectives encourages children to put their listening skills to the test. Players race to identify the sound, and - if successful - add the card to their board to move one step closer to catching the sneaky thief. Suitable for children aged between three and six years, the game can be enjoyed by 2-4 players. For guaranteed play value, Orchard Toys has ensured that Sound Detectives can also be played without the use of the app. Number Street is a 20-piece jigsaw puzzle designed for practising counting from 1-10. Children piece together the number street, then count and match the animals for each house. Featuring colourful and chunky pieces for little hands to hold, Number Street is suitable for children from two to five years old and also includes a giant poster for added value for money.

Trends UK 01295 768 078 | www.trendsuk.co.uk The Guinness World Records annual is the world’s best-selling copyright book, with 138m copies sold in more than 100 countries, 2m YouTube subscribers, 12m Facebook followers and more than 21m annual visits to the GWR website. Trends’ new Guinness World Records Challenges game taps into the popularity of the brand, putting players’ knowledge about records to the test and challenging opponents to demonstrate record-breaking skills using everyday household items. Players compete to answer some of the 600 Guinness World Record question cards, and to complete the challenges quicker or more successfully than their opponents. The first player to cross the finish line with three challenge cards in their possession is the winner.

Cartamundi 01268 511 522 | www.cartamundi.com This year sees the strongest card games line up ever for Cartamundi. After sellout success following its early launch last year, Color Addict is back in stock and set to benefit from a full marketing campaign. The fun family game Mimiq is new for 2019. The game, which has been very well received at tradeshows, challenges players to ask for cards from their opponents only using facial expressions. Cartamundi offers an extensive range of Harry Potter playing cards, ranging from highly detailed Fashion Decks to Movie Decks depicting iconic scenes from all eight of the franchise installments. Later in the year, a limited-edition collectors’ set will feature one full deck per movie in a beautiful keepsake box. June sees the highly anticipated launch of I Go to Hogwarts, a game which lets kids create their own Wizarding World story. April will see the first titles in the 4 in 1 Games range launch to market. With consumer research showing that children get bored of single game mechanics, the range offers all the best licensed properties from Nickelodeon, Warner Bros and Disney; and four time the the games means four times the fun. As a leading global manufacturer of playing cards, Cartamundi offers playing options for every price point. This year the company launches Joker, a quality playing card at an entry-level price point. Royal Flush is a premium playing card at an everyday price; the range has had a refresh but still maintains its superior linen finish. Finally, Copag 310 cards have gone from strength to strength, while the B9 finish has attracted a global fanbase.

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Enquiries: Nigel Roper, Merlin Games Ltd. 07951 824 608 nigel@merlingames.co.uk


fresh FRESH THIS MONTH:

Each month Fresh sets out to find the latest products that will have toy retailers reaching for the phone. In April we have new releases from: Playmobil, The Source Wholesale, Tomy and Wilton Bradley.

Easter Eggs

Adorbs

Playmobil 01268 548 111 | www.playmobil.co.uk

Tomy 01271 336 155 | www.tomy.com

Tomy has launched Adorbs, the company’s innovative new dress-up line. The range offers kids assorted fairy and princess dresses that are easy to wear, affordable and simple to merchandise in store. Awarded Best Dress-Up by Parents Magazine at this year’s New York Toy Fair, Adorbs is set to launch in July. Six different dress styles will be available, suitable for kids aged 3+. The unique tulip back dress allows for ease in putting on and taking off. Priced at £7.99 each, Adorbs encourages repeat purchases for children looking to add to their dress-up collection. Each dress will come packaged in a glitter capsule that can be used to store the dress after purchase.

There are four colourful Playmobil Easter Eggs to choose from, each with a different Playmobil surprise inside. With something to suit every child’s interest, Playmobil Easter Eggs are an ideal gift, offering toys that can be played with all year round. The yellow egg features the Pirate with Cannon. Kids can help the pirate take care of his buried treasure by protecting his private island from those who come too close with the functioning cannon. The pink egg contains the Fortune Teller, who uses her tarot cards and crystal ball to predict the future. Inside the green Easter egg, the Zookeeper with Seal Pups is preparing for a fun day at the zoo. Kids can use the bottle of milk and fish to feed the baby seals. Alternatively, kids can travel through galaxies and solar systems with the Space Agent with Robot, which is included in the blue egg, exploring different planets with help from their robotic sidekick.

X Factor and Mi Mic range

Wilton Bradley 01626 835 400 | www.wiltonbradley.com The X Factor and Mi Mic licensed range has expanded with the introduction of the all-new X Factor Karaoke Disco Cube Speaker and the X Factor Microphone Speaker XF1S. The Karaoke Disco Cube Speaker has an eye-catching retro design and is the first of its kind to come complete with two microphones. The LED lights will light up any ceiling, flashing to the beat of the music playing through the speaker, so kids have everything they need to turn their bedroom or lounge into a stage. The X-Factor XF1S microphone speaker has all the same features as the best-selling XF1 model, but at a more compact size and lower price point. The latest addition to the Mi Mic range, the Microphone Speaker with Phone Holder, has all the same features as the best-selling XF2 Microphone but with an innovative phone holder attachment. The Mi-Mic range also includes a free Lucky Voice subscription, which gives users access to an extensive catalogue of chart toppers and karaoke classics. Mi-Mic and Lucky Voice combine to create the ultimate karaoke experience for beginners, fun seekers and serious singers alike.

STEM robotics kits

The Source Wholesale 01306 646 885 | www.thesourcewholesale.co.uk The Source is launching new additions to its best-selling STEM product range, two of which arrive in May. These items, the 5 in 1 Coding Robot and Robotic Hedgehog kit, are the latest additions to the popular Construct and Create brand. These new items follow the successful Tobbie the Interactive AI Robot, which continues to be a best-seller. Tobbie 2 will be launching for autumn/winter; this new version welcomes coding to the already popular play pattern with the inclusion of free software and an insertable chip, taking the learning experience to a whole new level.

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Feature

Pre-school

Just for starters

Pre-school toys can help develop firm foundations for children during their formative years. Rachael Simpson-Jones looks at some of the new launches which the category is set to welcome this year, and how in-store presence can affect success.

F

rom the traditional to the technical, preschool specialist VTech welcomes a raft of innovative new lines to its best-selling range of educational pre-school toys this year. Substantial investment in media, coupled with the company’s strong heritage, helps VTech to stand out in the fiercely competitive preschool market. Graham Canning, sales director, tells Toy World that 2018 saw 16 different product lines advertised on TV, targeting both children and their parents. “This meant that during the peak season, 88% of housekeepers with children under the age of three years old saw a VTech advert at least once, and approximately 90% of Kids aged 4-6 saw a VTech advert at least once,” he says. This investment will increase further in 2019 as VTech backs even more of its key lines during autumn/

winter; ZoomiZooz - wobbly and bouncy animal friends that children aged 1-5 can collect individually, or in themed multiple packs and as part interactive play sets - will benefit from TV advertising during the latter part of the year. “The heritage of VTech as a brand ensures that consumers know and trust the quality and values,” explains Graham. “VTech understands that a child’s needs and abilities change as they grow, so we develop our toys to entertain and teach at just the right level. VTech toys support physical development by using technology to encourage children’s exploration and discovery while providing exceptional entertainment and consumer value.” With each VTech product specifically developed to teach basic curriculum and age-appropriate concepts such as phonics, counting, objects, shapes and colours,

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youngsters can get a head start on vital subjects ahead of starting at school. With so much of learning beginning at home, this can help kids to enter their school years with confidence in their own learning abilities and a knowledge of key subjects. “Toys for the pre-school age should be both easily manageable for small hands and highly entertaining - the electronics found in VTech toys give extra play value for little ones, as the light up buttons, different phrases, cheerful melodies, sing-along songs and sound effects all encourage imagination and interaction,” says Graham. “The new Toot-Toot Drivers Train Station includes lots of manipulative areas – a swinging bridge track, turning flag, open & close gates, and loading points – while the train and other TootToot Drivers vehicles respond to the four SmartPoint locations, helping to introduce early language skills at



Feature

Pre-school

this important age.” Having been the exclusive distributor of the pre-school Edushape brand for over 30 years, Halilit has recently unveiled a bold new refresh of the entire range. The rebrand has resulted in a more curated, commercial range of products, which the company says still retains its core educational and developmental values. Plenty of engaging lifestyle imagery gives the brand a unique identity that flows across all sub-categories of the range, while a bright pink logo enables Edushape products to stand out on-shelf. “Over the 30 year period that Halilit has been distributing Edushape, the range has grown from a relatively small number of SKUs with a focus on supply to playgroups, nurseries and the educational sector, to a far more extensive commercial offering with an emphasis on sensory and early STEM developmental toys with greater appeal to both parents and children,” explains Judith Stark, MD, Halilit. “We are thrilled with the initial reaction to the new Edushape look,” she added. “We had visitors to our stands at Toy Fair and Spring Fair believing that we had taken on a completely new range, which is exactly what we were hoping for; if the rebrand is standing out enough at a trade show to grab the attention of buyers, we know that it will do the same in store. We have existing customers who have now embraced the rebrand completely and are giving up shelf space to range it in-store for the first time.” As the main focus of Edushape is Sensory Play, Judith suggests that retailers maximise on their ranges by installing a play corner where parents and children can touch and try products for themselves something Halilit is happy to assist with. And as the brand is also used by pre-school groups and nurseries, she also advises retailers to ensure that local groups are aware of what they stock. In-store presence is also a major focus for pre-school wooden toy specialist Orange Tree Toys. By adopting an approach to open- and

window-box packaging, the company allows its brightly coloured toys to speak for themselves, encouraging consumers to pick up and interact with the product. By placing the product directly into the hands of shoppers, people can feel the quality of the wood, see the finish of the paint, and enjoy the added features that make the company’s ranges so popular. The company can also loan giant wooden figures based upon its best-selling wooden lines – Winnie the Pooh, for example - which retailers can use to create eye-catching displays that draw shoppers to the product shelves from the moment they walk through the door. “By selecting products based upon concepts or themes, retailers can create a strong visual impact in store,” says Mike Hartshorn, head of sales at Orange Tree Toys. “I’d also advise keeping the range fresh by adding new lines as often as possible, but always make sure your best sellers are in stock and on the shelf; these are the lines that will drive demand.” It’s set to be a big year for Orange Tree; a successful Spring Fair launch welcomed the company’s three new branded concepts - Animal Fairies,

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Animal Pirates and Dinosaurs characters. Autumn/ winter will also see extensions to the licensed range of products. Having originally launched its hugely popular Winnie the Pooh collection at the start of 2018, Dumbo, Lion King and Toy Story ranges will land in stores throughout 2019. With new movies for all three due for release in the next few months, demand for toys based upon the original films – largely fuelled by parental nostalgia – will surely be high. “Alongside our new Disney additions, we are delighted to be involved with Moon & Me,” adds Anuja Wilson, creative director, Orange Tree Toys. “We are planning to release our range of toys in time for Christmas. This is the new production from the people behind Teletubbies and In The Night Garden, and so much is therefore expected from the property. The initial reaction following the first showing on CBeebies in February has been massive, and the reception to our licensed Moon and Me wooden toy range has likewise been incredibly positive both in UK and at international trade shows. With so much anticipation, and a real buzz surrounding about this new licence, we are excited to be able to supply a wide Moon and Me range ahead of the crucial Christmas gifting period.” Over the next few pages, Toy World takes a look at the newest pre-school products hitting the shelves this year.


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Pre-school

Casdon 01253 608 428 | www.casdon.com Casdon’s Little Helper collection is the home of Dyson replica vacuums. Launched in September 2018, the Dyson Cord-free Vac is a direct replica of the life size Dyson and has been specifically designed to be true to life, right down to the last detail. The model features working suction, spinning beads, realistic sounds and twist and turn action. Featuring the same bright colours as its life-size counterpart, kids can pretend to clean the house just like their parents while developing essential life skills. Another classic from Casdon’s range of role-play toys is the Hetty and Henry Household Cleaning Sets. The Henry set, in striking red, and the Hetty set, in pale pink, both include a dustpan and brush, a mop, a sweeping brush and more, so kids can help with cleaning tasks at home. The Little Cooks collection is also an ideal way for kids to role-play being grown up. The Mr Kipling Cake Stand & Tea Set allows little ones to treat friends and family to afternoon tea without the added calories; the brightly coloured shape-sorting cake stand includes a host of cakes plus plates and cutlery for dishing up. Alternatively, kids can rustle up a make-believe breakfast with the various Morphy Richards sets. The durable new Tetley Tea Set will appeal to kids and adults alike, with the famous ‘tea folk’ decoration adding to its nostalgic charm. Children can enjoy role-play fun with this traditionally styled set, which includes a tin teapot, tray, cups, saucers and plates, all housed within a carry-case for easy portability. For summertime, kids can help mum and dad in the garden with the Flymo Turbo Lite Lawnmower, another quality replica from Casdon Toys. The Flymo features a foldable handle for easy storage and a mechanical click when the mower is on the move, along with an iconic orange base. Casdon will be increasing its marketing support for retailers, with a strategic year-round online campaign furthering consumer awareness of the company’s best-selling toys.

Edx Education 07340 777 967 | www.edxeducation.com Edx Education’s pre-school toys promote hands-on learning. This range has been designed to encourage kids to think, create and do whilst developing important foundation skills, helping to prepare them for everyday life as little engineers. The company’s Rainbow Pebbles develop fine motor control, teaching problem solving through active play as kids use their imagination to create whatever their heart desires. Combining elements of design, creativity and mathematics, each set of Rainbow Pebbles comes with a pack of activity cards for children to follow as they learn. Playing with the Rainbow Pebbles can also aid speech development; parents can encourage the child to communicate what they’ve been designing, and talk through the activity cards with them. The Rainbow Pebbles come in sets depending on the child’s age – 18 months+ (with no small parts) and 3+ years. A sustainable set of Rainbow Pebbles made out of eco-friendly materials is also available. Edx Education encourage three core ‘Cs’ - Copy activities, Continue to develop activities and Create own activities, all of which are possible with open ended pebble play.

Rainbow Designs 01329 227 300 | www.rainbowdesigns.co.uk Eric Carle’s classic storybook The Very Hungry Caterpillar celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and kids can celebrate with Rainbow’s extensive pre-school toy collection. The Developmental Caterpillar, Large Activity Caterpillar, Jiggle Caterpillar and the large plush Very Hungry Caterpillar are all bright and colourful, while Rainbow’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar wooden offering includes Wooden Blocks featuring the alphabet and numbers, a Wooden Pull Along and a Wooden Peg Puzzle. Rainbow’s Classic Paddington collection is enjoying success following its launch last year, with the Classic Bean Toy Paddington, Cuddly Classic Paddington and Key Chain Paddington being particular pre-school favourites. This year sees the launch of a new pre-school TV property; Paddington (working title) premieres with a Christmas special, while the series starts on Nick Jr. in spring 2020. Rainbow’s Peter Rabbit TV range continues to grow in popularity alongside the award-winning TV animation series. Key products in the collection include the award-winning feature plush Talking and Hopping Peter Rabbit, Talking Lily Bobtail and the Peter Rabbit 18cm Soft Toy.

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www.orangetreetoys.com email sales@orangetreetoys.com call +44 (0)1242 244500


Pre-school

GP Flair 020 8643 0320 | www.flairplc.co.uk Series 2 of PJ Masks, which includes Super Moon Adventure themed episodes, will go free-to-air this month on Tiny Pop. The Super Moon Adventure themed product range continues to grow this spring with the new Super Moon Adventure Fortress Playset. Packed with interactive features, hero and villain figures can battle it out in zero gravity, and the crystal trap beneath the mountain will snap shut when the loser falls in. The play set comes with two articulated figures; Cat Boy in his space outfit and Luna Girl dressed ready for battle. The core range continues to drive sales, as this spring saw the introduction of the new PJ Masks Power Racer Vehicle Assortment, increasing choice for existing fans. Each set comes with a 7.5cm (approx.) articulated figure dressed in a racer outfit, along with a vehicle featuring a sleek design, chunky wheels and go-faster styling. The vehicle range will continue to be refreshed, with innovative new developments set for release in autumn/winter. A major focus for autumn, the new PJ Masks Seeker can fit up to four vehicles in the detachable carrier and up to three PJ Masks figures in the cabin. Features include a light-up searchlight, a disc launcher and a detachable cage. For quick pursuit of escaping villains, there’s a pull-out ramp and drop-down side door. The ultimate play set is not only packed with features, but also doubles up as storage solution for vehicle collections. This new hero product will be heavily supported with TV, digital and PR activations from launch, with activity peaking in the run up to Christmas. The Mission Control HQ Playset, Super Moon Adventure HQ Rocket Playset and Romeo’s Lab Playset will also all continue as part of the core autumn/winter range. Autumn will also bring the musical Disney Jr’s Vampirina Rock N’Jam Touring Van, complete with a Ghoul Glow Roof top stage and transforming sofa, plus lights and sound effects. The Vampirina and Family Figures Set is a strong addition to the waves of Fangtastic Friends. Including Vampirina, Mum (Oxana), Dad (Boris), Gregoria the Gargoyle and Wolfie the Puppy, each Hauntley family member has a ghoul glow that brings added spooky fun to play.

8th Wonder 01942 829 811 | www.8thwonder.co.uk Following a number of successful and award-winning wooden ranges released in 2017/18, 8th Wonder is bringing to the market an innovative range of licensed pre-school wooden and plush products for 2019. The company has partnered with BBC Studios for popular pre-school properties Hey Duggee, Something Special, Go Jetters and Sarah and Duck. The toy ranges will feature talking plush, wooden vehicles, sound puzzles, dominoes, skittles and tumbling towers. 8th Wonder has also welcomed Bing to its portfolio. Working closely with Acamar Films to produce a high quality wooden toy range, the company’s products will reflect elements from series 4 which launches in autumn/winter. Finally, a collaboration with Sanrio on Mr Men and Little Miss will see new heatable, sequin and microfibre plush hit shelves from July. Drawn to Mr Men for its nostalgic feel and broad age appeal, 8th Wonder’s range incorporates both new and traditional characters in modern day scenarios.

Hape/Marbel 08456 000 286 | www.marbel.co.uk Celebrating the best in sustainably sourced children’s toys, Hape transforms traditional wooden classics into modern day equivalents to be cherished for a lifetime. Crafted from the highest quality natural materials, Hape’s Kitchen & Food range is ideal for pre-schoolers aged three years and above. Capturing a child’s love of food and cooking play, each new addition to the Kitchen & Food range enriches the collection further to increase play value. Higher ticket items such as The Pop-Up Shop come complete with all the components of a real-life working shop; a calculator to add up the shopping bill, a handheld scanner to read each item and a chalk board for displaying daily specials. At the lower end of the price range, Hape’s ingredients sets lets kids sort, slice, combine and serve. The Tasty Proteins set includes a chicken leg with removable flesh, a fish which can be filleted and lemon to squeeze over the top. The Chef Pack comes complete with five accessories including a measuring spoon set, an oven mitt and pot holder. Hape uses only water based paints, which are tested rigorously to ensure that customers get both value for money and the highest quality product.

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Fill with water!

Household names for role play With working suction and attachments!

FUN!

Shape sorting fun!

Real life fun & play Casdon Ltd., Cornford Road, Blackpool, Lancs FY4 4QW Tel: +44 (0)1253 766411 Fax: +44 (0)1253 691486 Email: toys@casdon.co.uk www.casdon.com


Pre-school

Basic Fun! 01189 253 270 | www.knex.co.uk Basic Fun! is adding a touch of retro class to the pre-school market with the Fisher Price Classic range. The colourful and clever pre-school toys make ideal gifts and add on-trend vintage style to any room. With over 10 different products available, the Fisher Price Classic Pocket Camera marks the entry point to the range, which also includes the Fisher Price Classic Chatter Phone and the forthcoming relaunch of the Fisher Price Classic Music Box Teaching Clock.

Alpha Animation 01293 804 599 | www.auldeytoys.us Alpha Animation and Toys’ Super Wings series 3 launched on Cartoonito on 1st April. The new series consists of 38 x 11-minute episodes and 2 x 22-minute specials. The product range has been innovated to reflect the core Mission Teams of the series, which will resonate well with consumer audiences by adding extra layers of play potential and relatability. The new Super Wings range includes the fan favourite High Flying Jett. This hero product, which will have a strong digital presence, allows children to get interactive as they ‘launch’ Jett into the sky, adding a new dimension of hands-on play to the existing range. New characters have been added into the latest collection of the Transforming Vehicles and Transform a Bots to coincide with the latest series. With a strong TV advertising schedule for spring, Build-it Buddies is a new addition to the range; a construction claw and crane add strong play value to this hero product. The range also offers various ways to play and interact with the popular characters - the Build-It Donnie Transform a Bot is also compatible with all Transform a Bot characters. This year also sees the launch of a robust Super Wings licensed consumer products programme, capitalising on the show’s success and the demand for new product formats.

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The Puppet Company 01462 446 040 | www.thepuppetcompany.com The Puppet Company has received an overwhelmingly positive response to its new Sloth and Unicorn, which have joined the company’s ever-popular collection of Full Bodied puppets. These delightful puppets are beautifully soft, crafted from premium fabric and are easy to use by children and adults alike. The Sloth features realistic tonal brown fur and a friendly face complete with a cute black nose, while the white Unicorn has a pink mane and tail, pastel pink hooves and a pure white horn. The Full Bodied puppet collection now exceeds twenty appealing characters, with more to follow in the future. The puppets can be displayed effectively on one of The Puppet Company’s 20 or 30 arm floor stands, which show them to their best advantage for eyecatching in-store presence.

Funrise 01908 555 640 | www.funrise.com Universally loved by pre-schoolers for its indoor and outdoor play potential, Tonka recently welcomed an innovative line of construction vehicles called Power Movers. These pre-school friendly vehicles let kids bring the dump truck, front loader, excavator and cement mixer vehicles to life through engaging and intuitive play. When pushed forward, each vehicle’s Motion Drive Technology will make the engine rev and activate the lights, while pushing it backwards will trigger back-up sounds. In addition, working the mechanical feature of each vehicle will result in hydraulic sounds and flashing lights. All these features combine to create an engaging and realistic Tonka tough experience, every time kids play. Funrise’s new line, Herodrive, is an innovative collection that combines kids' favourite entertainment characters with cool vehicles for pre-schoolers. The range launched with character vehicles inspired by recognisable DC Superfriends characters such as Batman, 01604 678 780 www.dkl.co.uk Superman and |The Flash. Two boxed sets join the Plus-Plus Big portfolio year, available Combining superhero and real-life rescuers,this Herodrive Mash inMachines both a standard and pastel coloured containing 50 pieces. is a new style of vehicle thatmix fuses together iconic vehicles Children usecars the and easyfire to follow or make their own such as can police trucksinstructions with DC Super Friends characters. creations; striking packaging and convenient sizing the range a For a fully motorised experience, the Bat Racer hasmakes lights and Batmanstrong option for gifting. sounds. and Batmobile-inspired Suitable ages Hama Maxi welcomes tub sets for New forfor 2019 is3+, Herodrive Modbeads Squad. The threetwo vehicles - Batman, 2019. Packed and withthe over 400 -beads, pegboards, a reconnected colour design Superman Flash come two apart and can be sheet, instructions and ironing paper, Maxi Bead sets contain larger within the range to create hybrid superhero wheels. Along with three beads for smaller character piecesfingers. that form a full vehicle, each set also comes with an The Escabbo range features a selection of packs colourful bath toysa fourth additional piece; kids can collect all three to complete including the non-slip Mat with Squirters, which comes with Joker vehicle to add toBath their Mod Squad collection. three ocean themed squirters made from soft plastic.

DKL Marketing



Pre-school

Spin Master 01628 535 000 | www.spinmastertoys.co.uk Paw Patrol kicked off the year winning Pre-school Range of the Year at the Toy Industry Awards. At the same time, the latest product in the core spring/summer line, the Paw Patrol Ultimate Construction Truck, was named one of the UK Toy Fair’s Hero Toys. Watched in over 160 countries worldwide, this year will see the new Mighty Pups theme and story line bought to the silver screen, with the first theatrical release for Paw Patrol arriving in cinemas in May courtesy of Nick Jr. and Paramount Pictures. The film follows Harold and the heroic pups as they discover new super-powers following a meteor shower that covers them with a mysterious green energy. The film launch will be supported by new toys that will bring the content to life for pre-schoolers. Paw Patrol fans can collect their favourite pups with the all-new Mighty Pups design; the Action Pack Pups come with superhero masks and a transforming action pack that reveals the tools they need on their adventures. New Flip N Fly vehicles also take on the Mighty Pups theme with even more themed details and unique transformations, while fans can take their Mighty Pups with them wherever they go thanks to the new Jumbo Plush range. The hero item from the Ultimate Construction theme spring range, the award-winning Ultimate Construction Truck is fully equipped with all the features kids need to create their own Paw Patrol Ultimate Rescue missions, with help from Rubble. The range also includes all-new Paw Patrol Mini Figure Blind Box Collectibles, so fans can assemble their own Paw Patrol team at home. Each of the Paw Patrol Ultimate Rescue Construction Figures wears their uniform and a safety hat, plus a flip-open backpack containing construction tools. Spring also sees the introduction of new style plush in the Ultimate Construction Rescue design. Rounding out the range, the Paw Patrol Ride ‘n’ Rescue Vehicles let kids race to adventure with Chase or Marshall. These vehicles also open up to transform into an action-packed play set.

Schleich 01279 870 000 | www.schleich-s.com/en With Schleich’s Farm World play sets, pre-school children can get to know about life in the countryside in a playful way. Alongside a selection of new Farm World animals which are joining the range, four new pony agility play sets will provide even more variety for young countryside fans. In the second half of the year, Schleich will also be launching a large stable equipped with plenty of functionality and accessories for pre-school children to enjoy. Focusing on the fascinating world of animals that children can discover while playing with the detailed animal figures, The Wild Life theme world welcomes a colourful play mat and a set of flash cards that help bring young learners closer to the wonders of nature. Like all Schleich products, the new Farm World and Wild Life hand-painted figurines and play sets are designed with attention to detail, and stimulate children’s imaginations by opening up endless new opportunities for play.

VTech 01235 546 810 | www.vtech.co.uk The interactive Learn and Dance Dino comes with nine action plates that can be used to customise Dino’s voice, emotions and dancing styles. When kids insert one of the three red plates into the Dino’s back, the voice style will change into awesome Dino, cool Robot or fearsome Monster. The three yellow plates change the Dino’s emotions, making it happy, angry or sleepy and adding fun sound effects and helpful phrases for each emotion, helping little ones learn about their different feelings and giving useful tips to deal with them. The three blue plates introduce different movement styles, making the Dino march or dance to hip-hop and ballet. Mixing and matching all nine plates will create over 25 different combinations; once playtime is over, they can all be stored in the handy Dino egg. For added play and educational value, the three light up buttons teach colours, shapes and music. Green and pink versions of the Learn and Dance Dino will be launched in autumn/winter. TV advertising, digital and social campaigns will start in July and continue throughout peak season, to ensure the highest possible exposure with both parents and children.

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A.B.Gee of Ripley 01773 570444 | www.abgee.co.uk Chuckles is a range of classically designed educational toys using tooling from household names Tomy and Hasbro. Now exclusive to A.B.Gee, the Chuckles range offers value for money across a range of price points, giving retailers attractive POR. Chuckles pre-school toys are packed with fun functions which infants and little ones will want to enjoy for hours on end. The toys make early years learning fun, whilst actively encouraging creative and imaginative play, developing a child’s dexterity, motor skills, problem solving and hand-eye co-ordination. Designed to withstand the tests of time, Chuckles products are durable and tough. The range includes easy to assemble Build & Play cars, aeroplanes and helicopters, a Jessy the Giraffe PullAlong to encourage walking and balance, and musical instruments in the shape of Sammy the Snail. Also available is Freddy the Fire Engine. With its ladder-shaped musical hammer, the pegbasher toy rewards kids with fire themed sounds and light effects when they hit the colourful pegs.

Character Options 01616 339 800 | www.character-online.com With 15 years to celebrate, 2019 is a landmark year for Peppa Pig and the Character Options master toy line. With a strong and engaging line-up for the year ahead, there are even more reasons to celebrate. Peppa’s Stage Playset, winner of a Toy Fair Hero Toy award, brings a whole new play pattern to the range. The curtained stage comes with three reversible backdrop cards. The pull-out stage floor has sound effects such as music, applause and laughter, while separate theatre seating is ready to be filled with an audience. Every stage needs actors and props, so themed accessories and cut out scenes are also included to inspire young Peppa Pig fans. A key line for autumn will be the impressive three storey Peppa’s Wooden Playhouse, which stands three feet tall and boasts a different backdrop and floor colours in every room, including the attic. Plenty of accessories and furniture are included, as well as light and sound features. While the new playhouse represents the ultimate gift for a Peppa Pig fan, the collection also includes Peppa’s Big Red Car and a fun Mud Kitchen Playset, plus all-new figure and accessory sets that carry a special collector’s competition. Peppa’s Secret Surprise has introduced peel-and-reveal innovation to the pre-school pocket money arena. Each brightly coloured box holds six blind-bagged surprises. Series 1 is Party themed and includes glittery party figures, party accessories and gifts, plus stickers or gems. New waves will follow throughout the year. Finally, the Peppa Pig soft toy collection welcomes Sleepover Peppa. An essential take-along toy for nights away, as well as the perfect night time friend for home, Sleepover Peppa is bound to become part of the bed time routine. The Plush Peppa toy gently glows as a night light, and when her tummy is pressed she’ll sing a soft lullaby. She also comes with her very own sleeping bag carry case, so she can be tucked up snugly for when it’s time to sleep.

Funrise 01908 555 640 | www.funrise.com Universally loved by pre-schoolers for its indoor and outdoor play potential, Tonka recently welcomed an innovative line of construction vehicles called Power Movers. These pre-school friendly vehicles let kids bring the dump truck, front loader, excavator and cement mixer vehicles to life through engaging and intuitive play. When pushed forward, each vehicle’s Motion Drive Technology will make the engine rev and activate the lights, while pushing it backwards will trigger back-up sounds. In addition, working the mechanical feature of each vehicle will result in hydraulic sounds and flashing lights. All these features combine to create an engaging and realistic Tonka tough experience, every time kids play. Funrise’s new line, Herodrive, is an innovative collection that combines kids' favourite entertainment characters with cool vehicles for pre-schoolers. The range launched with character vehicles inspired by recognisable DC Superfriends characters such as Batman, Superman and The Flash. Combining superhero and real-life rescuers, Herodrive Mash Machines is a new style of vehicle that fuses together iconic vehicles such as police cars and fire trucks with DC Super Friends characters. For a fully motorised experience, the Bat Racer has lights and Batman- and Batmobile-inspired sounds. New for 2019 is Herodrive Mod Squad. The three vehicles - Batman, Superman and the Flash - come apart and can be reconnected within the range to create hybrid superhero wheels. Along with three character pieces that form a full vehicle, each set also comes with an additional piece; kids can collect all three packs to complete a fourth Joker vehicle to add to their Mod Squad collection.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CALL +44 (0)1293 804599 OR VISIT WWW.ALPHATOYSUK.COM

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Pre-school

Geomag 07831 886 997 | www.geomagworld.com Geomagworld SA presents Magicube's newest range, which has been developed in partnership with Viacom/ Nickelodeon Consumer Products (VNCP). The Paw Patrol Character and Vehicle Sets were unveiled to the international market during the 2019 London and Nuremberg toy fairs, and will launch in support of series 5 of the globally popular Nick Jr. series. The award-winning Magicube product line is revolutionising the Junior Construction category by allowing kids to reinterpret the classic cube in a magnetic way. The patented system of magnets allows the cubes to stick together on all six sides. By exploiting these invisible forces, builders of all ages can give free rein to their imagination as they create a variety of constructions. Magicube allows even the youngest children to develop their first manual and dexterity skills, enabling solid 3D building through simple and creative play activities. The Magicube Paw Patrol character contain three cubes, with each side featuring a part of one of the heroic pups. Two SKUs are available; the first featuring Chase, Skye and Rocky, and the second containing Marshall, Zuma and Rubble. Each pack show the pups in different positions and poses, so fans can enjoy mixing and matching them all. Also available are Paw Patrol Vehicle 5-piece Magicube sets. The three available SKUs feature the vehicles of Skye, Chase and Marshall, and allow kids to build 3D models of each character’s vehicle or badge. The innovative Magicube playing platform is also complemented by a wide range of products which feed and stimulate imagination. All items across the Magicube range let children experience the most common themes of early childhood and pre-school - animals, fruit, princesses, robots, castles and other constructions – across a wide price range.

Posh Paws 01268 567317 | www.poshpawsinternational.co.uk

Tobar 01603 397105 | www.tobar.co.uk Tobar’s pre-school range focuses on the wonder of wood, including games and puzzles such as dominoes and shape sorters, futuristic robot building blocks, and the traditionally finished and packaged Lion Stacker. Pull-alongs remain popular as gifts, with Tobar offering a brightly coloured pull along Tractor complete with a horse, a cow and a pig. The pull-along Unicorn and pull-along Dragon tick all the boxes for ‘current meets classic’, and all three chunky products are great for little fingers. Wooden play sets include a farm, Noah’s Ark and a Pirate Ship, with contemporary designs and bright colours to attract the eye. The packaging has also been designed to maximise shelf space and has eye-catching appeal. The versatility of this wooden range is also demonstrated by the Wooden Car Transporter, which comes complete with colourful and chunky wooden cars. New for this year, and very well received at toy fairs, is the Wooden Stack and Sounds Train. This all-purpose product comes in ‘Try Me’ packaging which should prove irresistible to customers. Pressing down on the funnel makes the train play one of three sounds. The carriages of the train double up as shape sorters and stackers, and the whole item trundles along to act as a pushalong toy too, helping to teach toddlers co-ordination and colour recognition whilst also being great fun to play with.

Posh Paws International is proud to be the official global plush partner for the enchanting world of Moshi Twilight. Created by Mind Candy in 2017, the Moshi Twilight app was developed in partnership with leading wellbeing and mindfulness app Calm. The Posh Paws collection will focus on the four Sleepies from the world of Moshi Twilight, each of which will be available in two size variations. Plush characters include Yawnsy the Sleepwalking Otter, Nodkins the Bedtime Bunny, Professor Feathersnooze the Owl of Nod and Sleepy Paws the Snoozy Koala. The range has been designed to be perfect to snuggle up to while listening to Moshi Twilight. This year will also see the Posh Paws team bring a plethora of popular Disney properties to life in plush form. Aladdin, Dumbo, The Lion King and Toy Story 4 are among the new collections launching early this year. With all four properties set to benefit from 2019 movie releases, the Posh Paws collections are perfectly timed for even the youngest of Disney fans to enjoy. As official plush partner for Dumbo, and with the recent release of the new Dumbo live action movie, Posh Paws offers a new collection of Dumbo classic plush which includes the floppy eared elephant in four different sizes. Made from super soft fabric, this collection is suitable from birth. Posh Paws is also the official plush partner for Pirata and Capitano. The Posh Paws product line will be available in autumn and will include eye-catching character plush in a range of sizes. The extensive Posh Paws Winnie the Pooh offering includes something for fans of all ages. Fans can choose from Pooh, Eeyore, Piglet and Tigger from the Christopher Robin official movie plush range; in a variety of sizes, each styled as per the characters on the big screen. Rounding out the pre-school plush range, the My Teddy Bear Pooh collection includes Pooh in his classic red jumper, along with Eeyore, Piglet and Tigger, available in 7”, 10” and Large sizes.

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Pre-school

Tomy 01271 336 155 | www.tomy.com Tomy’s John Deere pre-school collection brings farming fun to life through play, encouraging little-ones to grow up green whilst building their knowledge of the outdoor and farming world. Tomy knows that children love tractors, whether it is watching them in action on the farm, on the roads or working in the fields. Molang the rabbit and best friend Piu Piu celebrate the importance of happiness, friendship, solidarity and mutual respect. As master licensee, Tomy’s collection is based around the popular animation. In 2018 Molang moved to Tiny Pop, the No. 3 kids’ broadcaster in the UK, with series 1, 2 and 3 airing three times a day at peak times. The Thomas and Friends Big Loader Sodor Island Delivery Set features beloved characters Thomas, Percy and Terence. Kids will be amazed as they discover unique features, including the Thomas and Friends magical transforming engine. All Big Loader vehicles can also be used on the floor for open-ended adventures.

Golden Bear 01952 608 308 | www.goldenbeartoys.com Following its appointment as master toy licensee for the hit animated pre-school show Bing, Golden Bear has unveiled its new collection which will launch in autumn/winter across the UK, Ireland and Europe. The new Bing toy line is aimed at pre-schoolers aged 18 months to four years, and includes a variety of plush and figurines that capture the essence and core values of Bing and his friends. The range is led by the interactive feature plush Light-up Talking Bing with Hoppity. This multi-sensory activity toy includes music, phrases, lights and textures to entertain little ones. Super-soft with fine embroidered facial features, Bing wears his red check dungarees and holds his favourite toy, Hoppity. Children can press Bing’s hand to watch his button light up and hear some of his favourite phrases, just like in the show. When night-time comes, Bing has poseable arms so he’s easy to cuddle. The plush range also includes a Talking Bing Soft Toy and a Talking Sula Soft Toy. Both say their favourite phrases from the show when their tummies are pressed. Bing's dungarees feature his iconic button, and Sula is dressed in a pretty pink dress and golden shoes. The Bing and Friends 6 Figure Set is ideally sized for little hands, and includes Bing, Flop, Sula, Amma, Pando and Charlie from the show. These brightly coloured figurines are perfect for imaginative role-play and are neatly packaged in a display box with handle. The range also includes wooden puzzles and soft toys in pick-up price points. The launch of the new Bing collection will be supported by a dedicated TV and digital campaign to drive awareness of the new range at retail, as well as social media activations.

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Clementoni 020 3206 1397 | www.clementoni.com New for 2019 is Baby Clementoni Llama, a cute plush pal for babies from six months and above. This lovable creature will entertain little ones with sound and light effects, and helps development by teaching letters, numbers and colours. Joining the Llama, and ideal for Easter gifting, is the Baby Clementoni Interactive Rabbit. This cute bunny doubles as an activity centre to help babies from 10 months learn letters, numbers and more. The rabbit will react if the child brings the carrot near, and pretends to eat with cute sound effects. The new Interactive Hippo is an activity toy for babies aged nine months and over. The Hippo encourages babies to copy it by dancing, singing and clapping his hands, and is packed with fun educational features. Also in the line-up is Turbo Track, the first talking race track designed for babies. Two interactive cars are included, while fun features such as lap counts, pit stops and overtaking under the bridge will keep kids from 10 months entertained for hours.



Pre-school

Mattel 01628 500 000 | www.mattel.com Fisher-Price BabyGear remains a key focus for 2019, with items such as the Giraffe Sit-Me-Up Floor Seat, Infant-to-Toddler Rocker and Roaring Rainforest Jumperoo continuing to provide parents with tried and tested solutions. In autumn, Fisher-Price will release an engaging new range in the Newborn segment, introducing on-trend animals in a softer, more neutral colour palette. The cute Grow with me Tummy Time Llama offers four ways to play to help little ones enjoy tummy time, while the Perfect Sense Deluxe Gym is packed full of features providing over 25 different sensory touchpoints to help babies reach developmental milestones. To help babies drift off, the new Soothe 'n Snuggle Otter provides a unique action that mimics the rhythmic motion of a parent’s breathing. Following new additions to the infant toy portfolio earlier in the year, autumn/winter sees the introduction of Linkimals, an interactive range of toys with technology which allows them to work together to help babies learn more easily. The Smooth Moves Sloth, Musical Moose, Lights and Colours Llama, A to Z Otter and Happy Shapes Hedgehog each aid development whilst keeping kids entertained, and when joined together create an immersive learning experience. New to the Infant Laugh & Learn category, the Light-up Learning Vacuum and On-the-Glow Coffee Cup stimulate learning and role-play fun, while the Bounce and Spin Puppy & Bounce and Spin Unicorn help strengthen babies’ balance and coordination skills. November will see the launch of the Little People Disney Frozen range to support the new Frozen II movie, including Elsa’s Ice Palace and Kristoff’s Sleigh. Following the evolution of Thomas & Friends in 2018 with refreshed content, 2019 continues to maintain awareness and engagement with new and existing fans in the lead up to Thomas’ 75th anniversary in 2020. New additions to the engine range include the small push along engines Hong Mei, Troublesome Truck, Rosie and Dash; the larger motorised engines - Roman Thomas, Lorenzo, Pepe and Gina - are inspired by the Digs & Discoveries specials. New play sets including the Super Cruiser and TrackMaster Cave Collapse Set are also based on the specials. The TrackMaster Hyper Glow range introduces innovative play sets, track packs and engines that glow in the dark. From the world of Fisher-Price Imaginext, the Disney Pixar Toy Story 4 range features legacy- and movie-inspired toys, including the Legendary Pizza Planet, Vehicles, Basic and Feature Assortments.

Orange Tree Toys 01242 244 500 | www.orangetreetoys.com Orange Tree Toys has exciting new products available for 2019, including a collection based upon colourful new Animal Fairies, Animal Pirates and Dinosaurs characters. Puzzles to aid the learning of numbers and ABCs, as well as a selection of fun push- and pull-alongs for little ones taking those all-important first steps, have also been created with a child’s development and learning in mind. Orange Tree Toys will be expanding its licences this year. The success of the company’s Disney Winnie the Pooh range, which launched at the end of 2017, has led to the addition of Dumbo, Lion King and Toy Story for 2019. The focus will be on classic characters rather than the new movie versions, meaning the ranges have timeless appeal and will enjoy ongoing demand. The new releases will include proven best-sellers such as Skittles, Boxed Push-Alongs and a selection of puzzles. Of particular note is the new Orange Tree Toys Moon and Me range; set for release in autumn, toys are based on the new production from the studio behind Teletubbies and In The Night Garden. With the initial reaction from the first showing on CBeebies in February being so positive, Orange Tree Toys is pleased to be able to supply stock ahead of Christmas.

Playmobil 01268 548 111 | www.playmobil.co.uk Playmobil is set to introduce 10 new play sets this spring. The Zoo has an enclosure with a swing for the two resident monkeys, as well as a penguin enclosure with a slide. Kids can extend their zoo with the Lion Enclosure, which features a cave and a tree for shade. Also available are the Zookeeper with Giraffe and Zookeeper with Elephant sets. After a day with the animals, the Playmobil figures can visit the Children’s Carousel, which spins in both directions for continuous fun. Joining the 1.2.3 range is the Take Along Police Station play set, which comes complete with lockable prison cells for the baddies, an office, a helipad and a police bike. Young law enforcers can also help the police to solve crimes by racing to the scene in the Police Copter or Police Car. The limited edition Castle with Stackable Towers can be put together in different combinations for impressive height. The King of the castle can then ride through the grand entrance on his horse to visit the queen, who is surrounded by her animals. This play set can be expanded with the Horse-Drawn Carriage and removable canopy, which is accompanied by a Playmobil figure who can ride on horseback or in the carriage for added imaginative play potential.

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Interplay 01628 488 944 | www.interplayuk.com Fuzzikins is a rapidly growing brand in the UK and international markets. With over 100% brand increase in 2018 alone, Interplay has exciting launches with new animals for 2019, introducing everyday entry level items and higher-priced play set items. Fuzzi Babies launch for spring/summer. Each Fuzzi Babies animal comes with a bed, a cuddly teddy and three washable pens for decorating, at a pocket-money friendly price point. A Fuzzi Street range will also launch, featuring cardboard shops with cute animal characters and accessories to occupy them, all customisable thanks to three washable pens and stickers. The bigger Fuzzi School Pop-up Playset comes complete with four students and a wise owl teacher. The new Fuzzikins launches will be supported with digital marketing, TV, PR, social media activity and a press event to build awareness throughout the year.

Siso Toys UK 01620 674 778 | www.simba-dickie-group.de Siso Toys UK took over the distribution and marketing of Masha & The Bear in January, and will support the range in 2019 with full 360 marketing comprising heavyweight TV, YouTube, social media, digital and PR. The range will be made up of a mixture of current best-selling lines such as the 12cm dolls, the 23cm soft body doll, plush bears in various sizes from 25cm to 50cm, as well as the ever-popular play sets. The Big Bear House play set, which has sound features and two floors of interactive play, will continue into 2019, while the Winter Bear house, one of the hero Masha items for this year, is based on the best-selling Masha Bear House line with a winter twist. Masha & The Bear airs on Tiny Pop over 400 times a month and on Cartoonito over 300 times a month, and new content will air in 2019 in what is shaping up to be another strong year for the property. Wissper premiered its second season on Milkshake! in late 2018, and was among the top five preschool shows in Q4 2018. Siso Toys UK will be supporting the show with a basic 23cm Wissper doll, which includes a figure of her best friend Peggy and assorted accessories. A 34cm feature doll with interactive features is also available. Pre-schoolers can start with the basic figurine sets, which come with a Wissper figure and two of her animal friends, while the 2-in-1 transforming play set lets kids re-create their favourite stories from the show in their own homes. Little ones can also enjoy role-play items including the Panpipe, which Wissper uses to transport to magic worlds, and the Bag Set, which includes a compass so kids can find her animal friends.

Halilit 01254 872 454 | www.halilit.co.uk Pre-school specialist Edushape introduced its new company branding in January. With eye catching packaging featuring lifestyle imagery and a new fuchsia logo, Edushape’s new style has proven popular with retailers and consumers alike. The addition of new developmental and sensory products further bolsters the range, including the innovative Thread-O-Ball. A unique concept that encourages little hands to develop fine motor skills, kids are challenged to thread different coloured, linking plastic laces through the corresponding holes to match the image cards provided. Thread-O-Ball also promotes logical thinking and hand-eye coordination. Another innovative development from Edushape, Geostackers introduces soft and tactile geometric shapes. Using two topple-proof tubes, kids can sort the circular and square shapes by dropping them into the correctly shaped tube. The product offers opportunity for development with matching cards for varying degrees of difficulty. Geostackers allows kids to develop skills such as dexterity and logic, and is also ideal for those learning colours and shapes. Edushape has also expanded its popular range of sensory balls with some new shapes. Wobbles is a triangular ball that wobbles and rolls, encouraging little ones to crawl and develop coordination. Tickles is a peanut shaped, ‘nubby’textured sensory ball that is therapeutic, stimulating and fun, and can also be used for baby massages on areas such as the hands and feet. These products are an ideal way to introduce pre-schoolers to different textures, surfaces, colours and materials, helping them on their sensory journey. Enhancing its new-look collection for 2019, Edushape has also introduced a variety of eye-catching CDU items to its range, ideal for impulse purchases. Mighty Minis are little vehicles that are ready to roll; kids can simply pull them back and watch them go. Suitable from 12 months plus, little ones can collect the ambulance, dump truck, jeep and rescue vehicle, and enjoy racing them against each other. For kids who prefer flying, the Mighty Fliers range includes three colourful models to collect. This new CDU collection is completed with the introduction of the Textured Mini Balls - small sensory balls ideal for little hands on the go - and the Sensofun Pals, six collectible textured balls each with their own animal themed design. Presented in a handy counter-top display, these early learning toys make perfect pick up purchases.

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Pre-school

Little Tikes 0845 0533 333 | www.mgae.com As one of the market leaders in pre-school, Little Tikes is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019. Playing Big is at the heart of the brand throughout this milestone year, with the aim of improving development and social skills whilst encouraging creativity, mobility and exploration. With over 200 songs, sounds and phrases, My Buddy Lalaphant encourages children to engage as they explore, discover and learn. Perfect for onward development, My Buddy grows with a child from six months to three years of age. The Fantastic Firsts Spinning RC puts toddlers in control at playtime. The easy-to-use beginner remote has two play modes - Drive and Spin - which promote fun, socialising and co-ordination. For extra excitement and surprise, the wings swing open when the RC spins. The iconic Big Car Carrier enables little ones to experiment with spatial awareness and hand-eye coordination whilst engaging in role-play and vehicle games. Complete with two toy sports cars and an easy to flip down ramp, kids can load the carrier again and again for endless fun. The Slammin’ Racers Scrapyard Derby invites kids to slam the top of the Garbage Truck to see how high it can jump, or watch it race to the finish line. Complete with real lights and sounds, the set also includes ramp tracks and obstacles to create a number of exciting race courses.

Hasbro 0208 569 1234 | www.hasbro.co.uk The Mr. Potato Head Movin’ Lips electronic interactive talking toy will delight younger kids. Users simply attach Mr. Potato Head’s mouth and press the buttons to make his lips synchronise to wacky songs and funny phrases. The talking toy features more than 40 phrases and four parodies to popular songs, including Lips Are Movin by Meghan Trainor. Kids can join their favourite rescue birds-in-training, Swift, Penny, Rod and Brody, and explore the importance of teamwork as they recreate their favorite scenes from Nickelodeon’s animated pre-school series Top Wing. The Top Wing Figure and Vehicle set includes a poseable 3” figure and matching vehicle, offering a great way for kids to take their cadets-in-training on missions. Top Wing cadets can also race to the finish line with the Top Wing Academy Mission Ready Track. Pre-schoolers simply load two racers into the top of the track and fire the double vehicle launcher to send them on their way. The Top Wing figures will race down spiral tracks, launch into the air off a ramp and win when they reach the spinning badges. The play set features a diverter that lets kids switch from one track to the other, while spinners at the finish line rotate for an exciting finale. The track comes with a Rod Racer vehicle.

Le Toy Van 0208 979 2036 | www.letoyvan.com Le Toy Van toys are designed to appeal to developing senses and are packed with layers of discovery for young, growing imaginations. Ethically made from sustainable tactile materials, the company’s wooden toys encourage creative, long-lasting play, and quickly become well-loved family favourites. This year, Le Toy Van is launching more than 35 new toys, all of which have been extremely well received by partners and retailers. Stacking Veggies is a set of three happy little vegetables. With six interchangeable stacking pieces, kids can grow their own vegetable patch featuring carrots, radishes and beetroot (or a mash up of the three.) The hand-sewn felt leaves add another texture for children to engage with, and the overall design will help babies’ cognitive development. Made from smooth sustainable rubberwood, Stacking Veggies are an ethical choice as well as a fun one, and the finish of the water-based paint adds extra eye-catching appeal.

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Pre-school

LeapFrog 01235 555 545 | www.leapfrog.com Kids can learn in an engaging new way with the innovative LeapStart Go interactive learning system. The sleek, easy-to-hold stylus triggers videos and audio responses using the adjustable 1.44” LCD screen and built-in speaker, and is perfect for right- or left-handed children. LeapStart Go simplifies learning goals for kids aged 4+, helping them to understand the advanced information featured in activity sets like The Human Body and School Success (sold separately). Interactive video effects let kids zoom in and explore a variety of learning concepts, simply by touching the stylus on interactive charts, book pages and more. The LeapStart Go is compatible with the entire LeapStart Library of activity books, and can hold up to 13 LeapStart books at one time. With nine food pieces for pretend grilling, and a further seven accessories for serving, the Smart Sizzling BBQ Grill is a must-have for young foodies. Kids can place a piece of pretend food on the skewer to learn its name and colour, or turn the skewer to grill the food and learn numbers. Opening and closing the lid will trigger greetings and sing-along songs, while pressing on the grill area activates fun cooking sounds and music to dance along to. Kids can turn the number dial to set different cooking temperatures, whilst learning numbers, hot and cold, and fire safety. There is also a question button that, when pressed, will ask questions about the food pieces to help teach colours and numbers. Children will be able to play and learn through three modes of play including Learn, Music and Explore. Both the LeapStart Go and the Smart Sizzling BBQ Grill will be launching for autumn/ winter, supported by TV advertising.

Ravensburger 01869 363 830 | www.ravensburger.com The success and popularity of the high-quality heritage brand Brio continues to grow, with six new items for spring in the Brio Toddler range. The radio-controlled Racing Car has been carefully designed for tiny hands, making it easy to master for kids 2 years+. Another highlight combines the success of My First Railway with the Farm theme; a hugely popular subject in the world of Brio and with toddlers generally, this set offers children endless fun as they discover a number of engaging farm animals with both sound and action features. Brio World recreates real-life scenarios and open-ended play, encouraging creativity and imagination. Key themes include Travel, Lift and Load, Countryside, Rescue and Explore. Purchase patterns have shown that consumers begin with a Starter Set with extra trains, such as the Smart Tech engine, with rolling stock, destinations and figures becoming must-have gifts for many years to come. There are nine additions to Brio World for spring/summer; clever innovation and design means the packaging of each product can now become a permanent part of the play set. Three new trains come ready packaged in a see-through tunnel, a simple but unique idea that looks great onshelf, saves on packaging waste, and delivers classic Brio play value. The Brio range is supported with strong POS options, including full-size play tables and engaging TV displays to drive incremental sales. Ravensburger can also arrange in-store events; interested parties are encouraged to contact their representative.

Trends UK 01295 768 078 | www.trendsuk.co.uk Peppa Pig celebrates its 15th anniversary in 2019 with plenty of new TV content, a cinema event, live shows and more. The best-selling, multi award-winning and 5-star rated Count with Peppa is the star of the Trends ELAs range, enabling children to have fun with the 10 colourful play coins while learning about numbers and colours. The Mr Tumble Learning Pad is an ideal toy for any fan of the ‘Something Special’ programme, with a combination of activities that help kids learn to recognise colours, letters, numbers and musical instruments. Offering similar educational play patterns, the Learn with Thomas Alphaphonics is an easy-to-handle toy featuring seven different play modes to delight fans of Thomas & Friends. The Trends UK ELA range will be supported with social media activity and PR campaigns aimed at key target audiences during key buying periods. The Velcro Brand Blocks play system for pre-schoolers features lightweight, soft foam blocks which attach together in any direction with the innovative Velcro Brand Fasteners, allowing for endless creativity. Hero item Velcro Brand Blocks T-Rex is a 31-piece set which kids can use to create an impressive-looking dinosaur with movable arms and legs, while the Velcro Brand Blocks Robot set lets fans build an industrial style robot with hands that grip.

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Pre-school

Revell 0845 459 0747 | www.revell.de Revell has combined radio control with wonderfully soft, high quality plush to create the My First RC range of vehicles under the new Revellino pre-school brand. Created in collaboration with renowned German plush toy producer Heunec, Revellino combines Revell’s proven radio control technology with a machine washable Heunec plush vehicle character to create an RC soft toy that will delight young minds. Releases include My First RC Tractor, My First RC Racing Car and My First RC Flower Car. With toddler-friendly steering wheel controllers, low speed operation and a button activated horn, My First RC from Revellino are ideal as a preschooler’s favourite cuddly toy.

Smart Games 01903 885669 | www.smartgames.eu Smart Games has been committed to creating inspirational and educational toys for children for over 25 years, and the brand has lots on offer to ignite the minds of pre-schoolers this year. SmartMax is an award-winning pre-school magnetic construction system, which allows children aged 1 year + to explore the world of magnetism in a fun and safe way. This year the brand has announced the arrival of another new My First set, which joins the best-selling range for little ones as young as 12 months. My First Dinosaurs features five iconic dinosaurs including Tyrannosaurus Rex. Kids can mix & match the dinosaurs to create weird and wonderful combinations, ensuring fun for creative young minds. The Smart Games’ Brain Train will be available this summer. Ideal for smaller members of the family, this colourful toy, for ages 3+, doubles as a game to excite and develop young minds. With 48 challenges to complete, from easy to expert, players match the shapes in the challenge as they follow the sequence; with fewer hints each level, it gets trickier at every stage. The aim is to ensure the carriages are connected before the train departs.

Chicco 020 8953 6627 | www.chicco.co.uk

Grossman 01416 132 525 | www.ozbozz.com

Chicco’s Flashy the Xylophone features flashing lights and different melodies, so children can either play along or create their own tune. In Follow the Lights mode, little ones have to match the pattern of the flashing lights to replicate the melody. The latest addition to Chicco’s Move & Grow range, Baby Gardener acts as both an activity centre and a walking aid thanks to its large wheels. Children can water the plants using the interactive watering can, causing them to light up and make sounds. To encourage cognitive development, each of the shaped blocks is removable, encouraging little ones to replace them in the correct space. With a number of different interactive modes to enjoy as well as other manual activities, kids will be entertained for hours.

My First Trike, winner of a BTHA Hero Toy Award, is a chunky trike designed for younger children. With light up wheels and a sturdy seat, the trike can be guided by a parent using the removable handle at the back. Available in two colourways, the product is designed to retail at a cost-effective price. My First Scooter continues to pick up awards for its design, making it the perfect starter scooter at an affordable price. Starting off on four wheels, young children can get to grips with the speed and feel of a scooter. Once they grow in confidence, parents can reduce the scooter to threewheels and, as their ability develops further, then progress to two wheels.

Bertoy 07748 150906 | www.bertoy.com Kids can be kept happy while out and about with the compact new Tiger Tribe Activity Packs. Available in two designs - Monsters & Aliens and Enchanted Garden - the packs each have 24 pages of engaging activities that can be taken anywhere and everywhere. The sets come neatly packed in a self-contained, slide-out box designed for easy portable play. Activity Packs are an ideal item for meals out or travelling, and make a great birthday gift for school friends too.

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31-Piece T-Rex

Robot

AWARD WINNING Count with Peppa

Triceratops

Expect so much more!

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12/03/2019 18:01


Allegedly

There has been a spate of job losses from major retailers recently: Boots announced that up to 350 jobs are to go at its head office in Nottingham, while the Tesco toy team will also have learnt its fate by the time you read this. I have also been contacted by a couple of well-known, experienced toy buyers looking for new challenges – former Freemans and Tesco toy buyer David White and Shop Direct’s Neil Mitchell. David recently moved on from his previous role at The Book People and is looking for a new opportunity in the toy buying sector. He can be reached at davewhiteapple@yahoo.co.uk or on 07908 153590. I was really surprised to hear that Neil’s role at Shop Direct had disappeared as part of a major head office restructure. Neil has worked in the toy team alongside Andrea Gornall for over ten years, during which time Shop Direct has become a pivotal account for many toy companies. Neil is hoping to stay within toy circles – either as a retail buyer, or in a sales or product role at a toy company – and he can be contacted on 07921 836945 or neilmitch1703@gmail.com. Hopefully they will both find new opportunities in the toy market soon… Last month saw Debenhams release a profit warning, with the admission that its previous statement about being on track to deliver profits in line with market expectations is “no longer valid”, after sales fell sharply over Christmas. That certainly isn’t going to fill toy companies with great confidence: I was party to a discussion on the journey home from Nuremberg which revolved around the dilemma of whether or not to continue supplying Debenhams, and the views even at that stage were decidedly mixed. Mike Ashley subsequently launched a bid to take control of Debenhams, offering to bail out Debenhams with an interest-free £150m loan in exchange for an additional 5% stake in the company, on top of a prior demand to make him chief executive. At the same time, he has accused the board and chief executive of making deliberately misleading statements, claiming they have “no place leading a PLC.” It is certainly getting lively, and suppliers will be hoping for a resolution sooner rather than later… Meanwhile, the Australian arm of Build-a-Bear Workshop has been placed in voluntary administration, just hours after the US operation reported a 7.5% drop in revenue and admitted growth in international markets was “sluggish”, citing both the collapse of Toys R Us and Brexit as contributory factors. I will leave you to decide whether that is a fair and reasonable defence… While Bricks and Mortar stores continue to provide a rich vein of news stories, there have also been a couple of interesting developments in the digital world recently. First, YouTube has confirmed that it will switch off comments on almost all videos featuring under-18s. While some people have attempted to downplay this move, others have suggested it will have an impact on the effectiveness of the kid influencer community: as one well-positioned media observer suggested, “A video with zero engagement beyond views is worth what, exactly?” Of course, toy marketing people aren't literally reading all the comments to evaluate engagement, but they do offer some evidence of tangible interaction, which makes toy companies more confident that they're working with someone who has genuine reach and engagement. There are perhaps too many charlatans working in this area

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who buy followers (largely bots) and quote vanity metrics - the level of interaction offers a small buffer against this. Removing comments puts yet another question mark against the effectiveness of YouTube influencers – especially at a time when their rates have increased so dramatically… Meanwhile, over at Amazon, rumours have been circulating that it may be about to merge its purchase order-based Vendor Central system and its Seller Central marketplace to create a ‘one vendor’ system. If true, this would be huge news. Forbes, which ran the original story, is a generally reliable source, so it is definitely worth keeping an eye on… Amazon has also revealed its new Project Zero initiative, with the goal of eliminating counterfeit products from its site. This is a hugely ambitious and gargantuan task, but you have to give credit to Amazon for attempting to address it – even if it is going to cost suppliers to be part of the initiative. It would be easy to be cynical about the fact that Amazon sees eradicating counterfeits as a way to boost its own profits: one piece of online coverage quoted Amazon as “making merchants cough up protection money” with the headline “It's up to you to stop fake stuff going on sale in our cyber-bazaar, says multibillion-dollar biz.” But, on this occasion, let’s give them the benefit of the doubt that they are at least admitting there is a problem and trying to find a solution. I’m not sure I agree with the website on which someone suggested that: “You are wasting your time policing counterfeit goods. The threat is more perceived than real.” Personally, I think the threat is very real, and if everyone stands by and does nothing, it will only escalate to epidemic proportions. Is Project Zero enough? Nowhere near. But is it a start? I believe it is. Let’s hope it points the way to a credible long-term solution… I read a couple of reports, including a critical article in the New York Post, complaining that there were more closed stands than ever at the New York Toy Fair this year. As someone who fondly remembers the ‘good old days’ of the toy building at 200 5th Avenue, filled with private showrooms – many of which adopted a stern ‘they shall not pass’ mantra - I have no real issue with closed stands. Granted, they may not appear welcoming, but in most cases, there are solid business reasons why it remains the most effective strategy. Indeed, post-show, I heard about some shenanigans which explain why companies feel the need to take precautions. It turns out that one exhibitor was a victim of theft of prototype samples from the stand….after the show had closed! Parcels which had been left for Fedex to pick up and deliver to customers were ‘appropriated’ by two gentlemen, who it turned out worked for a competitor. Thankfully the whole episode was caught on CCTV and the guilty party has been barred from exhibiting in the future. My understanding is that the Toy Industry Association and Javits Security were incredibly helpful and vigilant in the apprehension of those responsible. But it just goes to show the lengths that some companies will go to – sadly, it illustrates that the need for vigilance is real… On the subject of the New York Toy Fair, next year’s date will move a week later in the calendar – the new dates are 22nd-25th February. There are no date changes for the Hong Kong, London and Nuremberg events, all of which will run in their usual time slots.


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