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April 2020 Volume 9 Issue 8

NEW

R AUTUM N/WINTE 2020

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PJ AIRJET

2 IN 1 MO B IL E H Q

PJ Masks © Frog Box / Entertainment One UK Limited / Walt Disney EMEA Productions Limited 2014.

www.Flairplc.co.uk


The Team...

CONTENTS April 2020 Volume 9 Issue 8

John Baulch

38 Feature: Pre-school

74 Feature: Games & Puzzles

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

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

Regulars

Features

05 From the Publisher 06 News 16 Industry Moves 18 Marketing World 26 Licensing World 66 Coronavirus News 128 Allegedly

30 NPD column 33 Talking Shop 102 Fresh

22 38 70 74 100 104 106

Company Profile: Viral Talent Feature: Pre-school Special Feature: PlaY-room Feature: Games & Puzzles Brand Profile: Hairdorables Special Feature: Toy Fair New York Feature: Pocket Money Toys & Collectibles

Contributors The NPD Group | Mark Buschhaus | Stephen Barnes | Jonathan Chambers

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

104 Special Feature: New York Toy Fair

106 Feature: Pocket Money Toys & Collectibles

Lisa Currie

Assistant Editor Lisa@toyworldmag.co.uk 01442 502 406

Mark Crowford

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

toyworld toy world The business magazine with a passion for toys

Alakat Published by

www.toyworldmag.co.uk @toyworldmag @baulchtweet

toyworldmag

Toy World 3

Toy World Magazine

61 Maxted Road, Hemel Hempstead, Herts, HP2 7DZ


A

s a child, I loved all the Gerry Anderson TV shows – Thunderbirds, Joe 90 and Stingray. The latter programme had a particularly stirring opening sequence, featuring thrilling, breathless music punctuated by a booming voice proclaiming “Anything can happen in the next half hour.” I have been reminded of that frequently this past month, because…. well, that’s exactly how it has felt at times. To say things have escalated quickly would be the understatement of the year.

from the publisher

John Baulch - @Baulchtweet

In amongst all the panic-buying of essentials in recent weeks, there has been some welcome short-term respite for toy retailers, as families stock up on games, puzzles, art & craft kits and anything else which will help them get through the weeks of isolation which lie ahead, especially now schools have been closed for the foreseeable future. Enterprising toy retailers have been helping to support their customers in a variety of ways, including kerbside deliveries, while one retailer told us that his online orders were running way beyond the levels he would expect at Christmas. Right now, we are all having to think on our feet and be reactive and flexible: one major retailer told me that he is having to take decisions in a matter of hours which would normally take weeks or even months to be agreed. Many specialists have been in a good position in the short-term, aided no doubt by Amazon’s decision to suspend deliveries of all non- essential items into its warehouse until at least the first week of April, maybe longer. As toys aren’t classified as essential (although I am sure some parents would disagree), it offered a valuable window of opportunity to those retailers who are dedicated to the category. But how long can this situation last: realistically, it is surely a case of when – rather than if – non-essential stores are forced to close, as they have already in many European countries. As I write this column, several have already shuttered here in the UK - including Hamleys, Selfridges and Disney Stores – while Toys R Us Canada has also closed its 82 stores. These retailers can’t maintain their business by switching to selling health and household items like Amazon and the grocers can. Many of our specialists live a hand-to-mouth existence and will struggle to cope with closure for any length of time. They will need all the support and forbearance they can get over the coming weeks. Major toy specialists are already pausing orders and stopping warehouse deliveries, and I understand that not all suppliers have been thrilled. I get that, but I hope

they understand that the retailers are trying to protect their businesses as best they can. All of us business owners will have a massive balancing act as cash flows dissipate. Engaging with our customers to find mutually acceptable solutions will be key. Now is not the time to ‘go dark’; it’s the time to communicate as openly and honestly as possible. Which is why, dear reader, Toy World will continue to operate a service to the best of our ability. Of course, it is not ‘business as usual’ – right now, nothing is ‘as usual’. But we can do our best to keep information flowing throughout the toy community. We can help and support everyone by keeping the channels of communication open. Our daily email newsflash will continue to update everyone with breaking news as it happens, while our print issue will continue to cover the latest market developments and new products. I appreciate that in the grand scheme of things that there are more important things on peoples’ minds: however, judging by our recent spike in online traffic, people still want to understand what is going on in the business world. Our readers are facing challenges bigger than they have ever faced before – our modest contribution will be to help make some sense of the chaos around us all. The next few months are going to be tough. There will be business casualties - I have already heard of at least one UK toy company and one US toy company on the verge of administration. Events will continue to be postponed or cancelled; we have seen the cancellation of both the Independent Toy & Gift Show and Distoy, as well as the postponement of the Las Vegas Licensing Expo to August. As one toy retailer said to me: “Oh for the days of moaning about Brexit and complaining to Andrew Laughton about where my next LOL delivery was coming from.” But Covid-19 will be defeated in time. It’s a cancelled marathon, not a sprint. Community spirit will be key to overcoming this crisis; a bit less of the ‘me’ mentality and a bit more ‘us’ will come in handy over the coming months. When all this is finished, the High Street is probably going to be a very different place. But I think we can all agree that we want to see as many toy stores still standing as possible. And hopefully the occasional toy trade media operation as well. So, let’s keep talking, sharing, engaging and supporting each other. Kids will be at home and parents will need to keep them occupied. Viewing numbers will rise exponentially, both on linear TV and SVOD. There will be opportunities along with the huge challenges. Let’s try to find the positives as well as accepting the new realities.

Hardworking PR for Toys & Games • B2B & consumer-facing PR • Hands-on, bespoke approach

01908 032 700 www.playtimepr.com

• Award-winning team of senior PR professionals • Specialist understanding of the toys, games & fun sector

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@PlaytimePRLtd


News Universal set to make movies available on demand

Las Vegas Licensing Expo postponed Licensing Expo, which was originally scheduled to be staged in May 2020, will now be held at Mandalay Bay Convention Centre from 11th-13th August. The decision has been made as a result of consultation with exhibitors and other stakeholders to determine the best outcome for all, according to the organisers. “We strongly believe that this new dateline is in the best interests of our customers and partners”, the official statement reads. All exhibition bookings and visitor pre-registrations will be transferred automatically to the new dates and there will be further communications to these groups over the coming days and weeks. The aim is to facilitate a smooth transition for all parties. Anna Knight, VP Licensing, Informa Markets, said: “We have been closely following developments since COVID–19 began spreading, and we have consistently been mindful of its potential impact on global events like ours. With the help, cooperation and partnership we have with MGM Resorts, we have obtained favourable dates to reschedule the event and we hope this will serve as an opportunity for the industry to regather in August.” Anna continued: “The Licensing Expo team will be contacting exhibitors and partners to discuss the rescheduled dates, answer any queries, and ensure they can deliver the same event experience as originally planned. However, an event of this scale requires careful planning and organisation, so we collectively ask for understanding in advance for any disruption this change may cause. I’d like to thank all of our customers for their patience over the past few weeks as we have navigated these unprecedented circumstances and hope to see as many people as possible in Las Vegas.” Maura Regan, president, Licensing International, added: “Licensing International fully supports the decision to reschedule Licensing Expo. This new date allows our members and the industry some much needed time to regroup and deal with these challenging circumstances, and above all to protect the health of our community and those around us.”

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As efforts to control the spread of Covid-19 intensify, in-home entertainment is about to become more important than ever. NBCUniversal has announced that its current movies from the Universal Pictures stable - including the upcoming Trolls World Tour - will be made available on demand at the same time they hit cinemas that are allowed to remain open. According to NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell, movies will be available to watch on a range of on-demand services for a 48-hour rental period at a suggested retail price of $19.99 in the US, and an equivalent price in international markets (around £16). The on-demand release of Trolls World Tour will benefit from the full arsenal of a marketing campaign already underway, including Comcast, NBCUniversal and Sky’s cross-company Symphony support, which will be in full effect, according to the studio. The day-and-date release will be concurrent with Trolls World Tour’s local theatrical release date in each international market. In an email to Toy World publisher John Baulch, Richard North, CEO of Wow! Stuff, commented: "As a licensee of Universal, and having committed substantially to the new Trolls World Tour product development, this feels like great news and strong support for the toy industry. Kids who won’t be going to the cinema due to virus concerns will get the opportunity to download and watch Trolls World Tour at home. This should provide a much welcome boost for toy retailers carrying Troll merchandise."


News Lego reports profit growth and plans new stores

John Lewis mulls potential store closures and cuts staff bonuses A fall in profits has forced the retailer to reduce staff bonuses to the lowest level in almost 70 years and undertake a business review. The John Lewis Partnership is owned by its staff, who are known as partners and usually receive an annual bonus. This year, the bonuses have been set at just 2%. Retail analyst Richard Hyman told the BBC that the firm’s staff bonus scheme was an “absolutely fundamental” part of its ethos: “The key competitive edge John Lewis has is customer service, that is delivered by its staff. If you take away part of their remuneration, then customer service levels are likely to be impacted. “ Profits fell by 23% last year to £123m, marking the third year in a row that profits have fallen, which the retailer has attributed to a slowdown in consumer spending, and reduced profitability following weaker sales of home and electrical goods. The partnership has launched a review of the business which it said would involve “right sizing” its stores across both the John Lewis and Waitrose brands. The company stated that the review would involve store closures “where necessary”, as well as space reduction in existing stores. Several Waitrose branches have already been announced to shut later this year. Sharon White, who took over in February as chair of the John Lewis Partnership, said the changes would herald a vital new phase, and said she was confident the business would be stronger as a result. She commented: “We need to reverse our profit decline and return to growth so that we can invest more in our customers and in our partners. This will require a transformation in how we operate as a partnership and could take three to five years to show results.” The conclusions of the review are expected to be announced in September.

The company has reported financial results which show a 3% rise in net profits to £970m on revenues 6% higher at £4.5b. Online sales also increased 27%. This marks the second year of profit growth after sales fell in 2017. Lego now has 570 stores globally, and has said it plans to step up investment in both stores and online with around 150 new outlets worldwide. Having opened 150 shops in 2019, the company has plans to open a further 150 in 2020, 80 of which will be in China, as Lego focuses on expanding its retail presence there. Strong sales were experienced in Lego’s licensed ranges, such as Harry Potter and Marvel’s Avengers, but the core product range remained the top performer due to continued strong demand for Lego City, Lego Classic and Lego Technic. Sales rose across all markets, with single-digit growth in Western Europe, including the UK and the Americas, while China enjoyed double-digit growth. “It was a strong year where we outperformed the toy industry and grew consumer sales and market share in all our largest markets,” group chief executive Niels Christiansen commented. “We are stepping up investment in all our retail channels and working closely with our partners to connect with people wherever and however they want to shop.” Lego said it wanted to tap into a demand for more immersive experiences across its store estate.

Walmart looks to sell stake in Asda Asda’s parent company, Walmart, is in discussions to offload a majority stake in Asda, reporting “inbound interest” in a deal. Walmart said it was talking to a “small number of interested parties” about a possible investment, adding that it would be likely to retain a stake in Asda if the plan moved forward. Walmart purchased Asda in 1999. After UK regulators blocked a plan to merge Asda with Sainsbury’s last year on fears it would raise prices for consumers, Walmart considered a stock market flotation for Asda, having struggled to find a suitable investor to buy the business. This week, the firm said that a flotation remained “an attractive long-term objective”. “Asda is a great business with a clear strategy for the future and Walmart is committed to ensuring it has the resources and support it needs to deliver that strategy,” Walmart said in a statement. Walmart has overhauled its international strategy in recent years, scaling back its business in some countries while partnering with local firms in markets where it sees growth. In 2018, it took a majority stake in Indian online retailer, Flipkart. It also has partnerships with China’s JD.com and Japan’s Rakuten. “Walmart has a clear international strategy around ‘strong local businesses, powered by Walmart’ – which involves a number of different ownership arrangements, depending on the needs of its different markets,” the company said, adding that a potential third-party investment in Asda would be intended to “support and accelerate the delivery of Asda’s strategy and position Asda for long-term success.”

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News Trolls: World Tour moved forward, while Peter Rabbit 2 delayed According to some analysts, the spread of COVID-19 could cost the film industry billions in lost revenue in the short term; in addition to the postponement of the James Bond movie, the release of Disney’s Mulan in China has been delayed indefinitely, while numerous companies have pulled out of Austin, Texas’ annual South by Southwest Film Festival, including Netflix, Apple, and Amazon. However, Trolls: World Tour has moved its release date forward by one week, to 10th April, a week earlier than initially scheduled, taking advantage of the slot recently vacated by the James Bond film No Time to Die. The movie was originally set to arrive on 17th April. The move will be welcomed by toy retailers and licensees, as 10th April marks the start of Easter weekend, an important period for early-year toy sales. Taking an opposing stance, Sony has announced a delay to Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway, which was due to launch in the UK and other European territories on March 27th, rolling out internationally the following week and in the US on April 3rd, in good time for the Easter period. The international release date has now been revised to August 7th. The Hollywood Reporter suggests that Sony made the decision in light of Peter Rabbit 2 being an internationally driven title, also taking into account competition from the new, earlier release date for the Trolls movie. Sony’s decision will have repercussions for licensees and retailers holding stock which was expected to be in demand over the Easter period, following the previous popularity of product related to the first Peter Rabbit film.

New 200,000sqft distribution centre for Import Services The new facility will adjoin Import Services’ existing distribution hub and double operational capacity. The £23m warehouse has been designed to BREEAM ‘excellent’ sustainability standard in close collaboration with port owner ABP. The port-centric location and close proximity to the container port ensures the most optimum route to market, alleviating the need to transport containers inland to distribution centres cutting time, cost and carbon from supply chains. This investment from ABP and Import Services will ensure the company’s operational set-up continues to enable future developments in the sector, responding to customers’ needs. This new port-side logistics centre will enable Import Services, a subsidiary of Xpediator, to hold stock under bond for order processing and distribution across the UK, continental Europe and global markets. The 24 new access doors, plus VNA pallet storage configuration and state-of-the-art equipment and systems are designed to boost throughput for containers and road vehicles. The distribution centre is located at the Western Docks of the Port of Southampton, which is owned by ABP. Once opened, it will employ an additional 35 people. Construction is expected to complete next spring. Mike Thomas, client services director at Import Services, said: “Import Services’ new distribution centre will be just 100 metres away from where the deep sea container ships dock. With this new facility plus technologically advanced equipment, our teams will be able to process containers efficiently, process orders and deliver straight to the point of demand. Reducing the amount of carbon generated by the logistics industry is front of mind in our thinking. We know port-centric distribution can reduce supply chain emissions and the use of back-haul working with retailers can realise further carbon reductions. Our port-centric model, with this new distribution centre, will allow us to take important steps forward in tackling time, cost and carbon, the three key components of supply chains, as we head into the 2020s.”

Interplay UK unveils new HQ location Interplay UK has announced that it has relocated to new business premises in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. The new location facilitates the company’s strategy to expand with significant investment in the business through people, exciting product developments and new brand introductions. The new address is just five miles from the previous office in Marlow, where Interplay UK was founded over 20 years ago. Offering considerably more space to accommodate the growing business, the new location features modern office space combined with showroom facilities, a café and parking. Interplay UK is growing its workforce across marketing, sales and product development. Adrian Whyles, Interplay’s MD, believes the relocation was essential to move Interplay forward: “We have a fantastic team. Now we are ready to add even more expertise, and the new office is key to giving everyone a great environment in which to develop themselves, as well as our growing product line.” Interplay UK’s new HQ address is: Interplay UK Ltd, Artisan Building, Hillbottom Road, High Wycombe, HP12 4HJ. The company’s telephone numbers will remain unchanged.

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News TKC Sales named as UK & Ireland distributor for Waboba

Keiran Peoples to undertake Fence Club charity fundraiser

Waboba, the inventor of the original ball that bounces on water, has announced TKC Sales as its new distributor for the toy and leisure channel in the UK and Ireland. Global sales manager, Jonatan Olander, said: “We are so excited to team up with TKC Sales as we enter this next stage of brand growth. It was important we find a partner that understands our commitment to quality and our mission to create products that inspire active play and bring people together. We believe TKC is well-positioned and enabled to deliver our innovative product line, while at the same time, relaying our motto to Keep Life Fun.” TKC Sales is a leading UK distributor for beach, street, mountain and outdoor brands. The company will offer a range of Waboba’s best-selling products covering backyard, beach and water play. Stock will be available from June. A spokesperson for the company said: “TKC is delighted to welcome Waboba alongside our other best-in-class outdoor toy brands. We look forward to delivering both success for the Waboba brand and much joy for the ever-growing customer following.” For all trade enquires, contact: sales@tkcsales.co.uk, 01380 872950.

Keiran Peoples and friends Craig Broomhead and Dave Manasseh are taking part in three weekends of tough challenges. It all kicks off with the Man Versus Horse Marathon on 13th June; followed by six peaks in 48 hours (Ben Nevis, Yorkshire Three Peaks, Scafell Pike and Snowden) from the 19th-20th June. The group will then be finishing with the 24-hour Continental Thunder Run in Walton-on-Trent, Derbyshire, between 17th-19th July. The challenges are being undertaken in aid of the Fence Club; an organisation founded by members of the Toy Trade which raises money for a wide range of children’s charities including hospices, handicapped and autistic children. Keiran, of HTI Group, told Toy World: ”I appreciate any support; we will be recording the events in pictures and videos to keep everyone up to date. Excitedly nervous, I think, is the best way to sum up my feelings right now, but I am looking forward to it.” Keiran also adds that if any retailers and/ or suppliers are interested in sponsoring one or all of the events, they will receive promotion via social media, on t-shirts, flags and more. To donate, visit justgiving. com/fundraising/ men-v-uk

Epoch teams up with Norton PR for influencer and digital PR Norton will work alongside Epoch’s PR and social media agency Highlight to implement influencer and digital campaigns for Sylvanian Families and Aquabeads. Celebrating its 35th Anniversary in 2020, the iconic collectable Sylvanian Families brand will be supported by a creative content generation campaign spearheaded by leading Instagram parents, celebrities and bloggers designed to actively promote its history, heritage and enduring appeal. Working with the Epoch marketing team to develop brand partnerships and amplify existing media plans, Norton PR will utilise Influencer Brand Ambassadors to increase awareness of new range introductions, including the Red Roof home collection and Family Adventure themed sets arriving later in the year. For the first time, Epoch will promote arts and crafts brand Aquabeads in partnership with TikTok creators to introduce a unique creative play initiative. The brand will also be the focus of a dedicated YouTuber campaign and themed events throughout the year, managed by the Norton PR team. Suzie Howes, marketing manager at Epoch, said: “This is a really exciting year for Sylvanian Families. We have some great 35th anniversary plans and products in the pipeline which Norton will be able to support and amplify with an extensive platform of influencer content, thereby ensuring we deliver a 360-marketing campaign in 2020. We’re also looking forward to exploring TikTok as a new creative platform for Aquabeads. There are some very talented content-makers out there and we are keen to see how imaginative they can be with this brand.” Emma Arthur, PR director at Norton PR, commented: “Having identified exciting new opportunities and communication platforms to promote both Sylvanian Families and Aquabeads, there is so much potential to develop lasting influencer partnerships for both brands in 2020 and beyond. As audiences evolve and move away from traditional TV, we plan to work with content creators, YouTubers and parents to encourage creative UGC and immersive storytelling to complement Epoch’s PR and marketing initiatives for 2020.”

Smiffys acquires US costume and party brand Chasing Fireflies RH Smith & Sons, trading as Smiffys, has acquired the Chasing Fireflies brand after its holding company went into administration. Chasing Fireflies is an established company in the US with a wide product offering, which ranges from occasion wear and costume to party goods. The brand, a household name and a loyal customer of R H Smith for over a decade, has struggled to maintain its brand value in recent years after numerous acquisitions. The move by R H Smith and Sons to acquire the brand will see the revival of the much-loved family favourite. “As a brand that celebrates childhood, we will deliver the high-quality and unique product design that Chasing Fireflies is renowned for, along with the excellent customer service that embodies the R H Smith and Sons ethos”, commented Dominique Peckett, director at R H Smith.

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To find out more contact Tactic Games

Phil O’nion

Sabrina Hayhoe

+44 (0) 7970 779842 phil@tacticgames.co.uk

+44 (0) 7826 844824 sabrina@tacticgames.co.uk

www.youtube.com/ TacticBoardGames


News McDonald's to introduce non-plastic Happy Meal toys from 2021

McDonald's has vowed to replace Happy Meal toys with non-plastic versions from next year in an effort to reduce its environmental impact. The move should save more than 3,000 metric tonnes of plastic at McDonald's UK business from 2021, which would be its biggest single reduction to date. The firm will start trialling the new toys from May, when parents and children will be offered to swap their plastic toys for a book or paper toy when they buy a meal. This will offer customers the choice to opt out of the plastic toys in every outlet, McDonald’s said. It will also run a 'toy amnesty' to let customers bring in unwanted plastic toys in its 1,350 sites across the UK. McDonald's said it will then melt the plastic down and make it into toys for its charity in the UK and Ireland. Gareth Helm, the company's chief marketing officer in the UK, said: "We care passionately about the environment and are committed to reducing plastic across our business including within our Happy Meal. Families have high expectations of us and we're working as hard as we can to give them the confidence that their Happy Meal is as sustainable as possible. Getting that right is a big responsibility, but we believe the changes we're making today have the potential to make a big difference."

Grantham’s Wizard Toys has shut up shop Wizard Toys opened in May 2019. Located in the Isaac Newton Shopping Centre, the store was owned by Dave Westermen and James Colclough, who set up East Midlands Toy Company after being made redundant from previous retail jobs. The pair opened a collection of toy shops in towns including Melton Mowbray, Newark and Bridlington, before the latest store in Grantham. The Grantham location was chosen as an area with a perceived air of consumer confidence, after a struggling location in York was forced to close after trading for two and a half years due to “extremely challenging trading conditions.” However, despite initially positive feedback from customers who felt Grantham had been missing a traditional toy shop with personal levels of service, the decision has been taken to close the store.

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Bandai UK kicks off Dragon Ball drive The drive has begun to coincide with the new programming schedule of the hit anime series on POP. Bandai launched its new range of Dragon Ball Super action and collectible figures in January and is now gearing up for the Q2 period. An immersive experiential Dragon Ball zone has been created, which toured retail parks across the country during March. Bringing one of the most successful manga and anime series of all time to life, Bandai’s themed zone includes activities from PlayStation booths to play the video game, and Japanese billiards, to entering wind machines to catch Dragon Balls and spinning a Dragon Ball Wheel of Fortune to win on-the-spot prizes. An extensive campaign with popular gaming and family influencers, plus regionalised media relations outreach has been implemented to amplify and support event communications. In addition to the events, a robust mixed-media marketing programme is set to kick off for spring. This consists of TV and cinema advertising, a three-month POP sponsorship, digital and social media campaigns, cross-promotional material within Bandai Namco’s Dragon Ball Kakarot game and costume character visits at retail. Kirsty Mackenzie, head of marketing, Bandai UK said, “Dragon Ball is a global priority for us this year. We’ve had lots of success with the brand within the collectors’ market, and now feels the right time to develop and introduce a range to the mass market. Since January, we’ve seen a fantastic reaction with the product performing well and support for the brand growing at retail. The latest Dragon Ball Super TV series is the number one boys’ programme on POP and last year’s Dragon Ball film was a massive success. We’re seeing a new generation of Dragon Ball enthusiasts in addition to the existing retro and nostalgia fans and have a glut of plans to ensure we’re reaching all of them.” For Bandai UK sales enquiries, contact sales@bandai.co.uk


PLAY FOR FUTURE Since we have always believed that play is an intrinsic part of growing up and a vital contribution to the healthy formation of the adults of tomorrow, we have decided to act by promoting and launching products on the market which are 100% sustainable. The PLAY FOR FUTURE products are a tangible sign of Clementoni’s commitment in this sense because our company wants to help shape the new generations and serve as the ambassador of an important message: respect for nature.

We can teach children about the importance of respecting the environment through play. All PLAY FOR FUTURE products have been created to help us build a better future, together.

www.clementoni.it


News

Industry Moves

DKL-Beysal reveals new website

David Martin looking for new opportunities

DKL-Beysal has launched a brand-new website, showcasing the company’s established lines; Hama Beads, PlusPlus and Breyer, as well as the extensive collection of exciting new products developed by Beysal. Newly redesigned and redeveloped with customers in mind, the platform offers easy navigation throughout. The site is mobile-ready and faster than ever, making it an ideal tool when on the move. The new look website is user-friendly and will feature regular blog posts and updates to drive traffic and brand awareness. Customers will be able to access the company’s full range in one place and the new site will make the ordering process more efficient. Carmel Edwards, marketing executive, commented: “The new website provides an easily accessible snapshot of what DKLBeysal is all about. The site acts as an online showroom for trade customers, providing instant access to details of the full range.” The website can be viewed at www.dkl-beysal.uk

With over 25 years of senior commercial experience in the toy trade, David Martin is now out of contract from his previous role and available to take up new opportunities with immediate effect. Having held director positions at Crayola, KD Group, and Funrise, David has a wealth of toy industry experience and has achieved considerable success in his previous roles. His specialities include sales, marketing, general management including finance and operations, plus extensive knowledge and connections within the licensing community. David is located in Northamptonshire, which is ideally situated to get around the country. A new opportunity could either be a salaried position or a freelance contract. David is also happy to consider short term contractual opportunities if appropriate. Interested companies can get in touch directly by email: dmartin21@btinternet.com or on 07879 648734.

Moose Toys confirms Playtime PR as first fully retained UK agency

Charlotte Rodgers joins Flair as Just Play marketing manager Flair Just Play is delighted to announce the arrival of Charlotte Rodgers, who joins as marketing manager for the Just Play brands portfolio, which includes key brands such as PJ Masks, Hairdorables and Spirit Riding Free. Charlotte brings with her a wealth of toy industry marketing experience, having previously worked at Mattel UK as brand manager for Fisher Price licensed brands, Imaginext and Mega Bloks. Previous experience also includes two years at Vivid Imaginations working on toys, games and Crayola. Emmanuelle Cadet, head of marketing, commented: “We are thrilled to welcome Charlotte to Flair. Her experience in building brands and partnerships with licensors will be a great asset to the team and key to the further success of the Just Play brand portfolio”. Charlotte added: “I am really looking forward to working with the team at Flair and continuing to work on great brands and licences with global partners. The brand plans for 2020 are looking really good and I am excited to start work on executing these activations for the rest of the year.”

Following previously successful project work across a number of key brands, Moose Toys has confirmed the appointment of Playtime PR as its first fully retained agency in the UK. Since 2016, the specialist toys and games PR agency has worked on projects with the UK team before it became Moose Toys in late 2018. Playtime has been responsible for the Scruff-a-Luvs campaign since the brand’s launch in the UK, as well as brokering the British Gymnastics partnership to launch Team Gem last year. The agency also launched Moose’s first foray into the pre-school arena – Kindi Kids – to much acclaim last year and into 2020. Continuing to evolve those brand campaigns, the new relationship sees Playtime manage all UK trade and consumer PR for Moose and its brands, including major launch activations for all new properties, such as the Oh! My Gif! collectible range revealed at London Toy Fair. The remit also covers influencer outreach and media partnerships, resulting in a significant increase in investment on PR from Moose in the UK. Logan Stone, head of marketing at Moose Toys said: “Our evolution in the UK and becoming the European hub for Moose means we need a really strong PR partner supporting us. Having worked with Lesley and her team since 2016, seeing the sustained calibre of output they achieve across the year, we were keen to enlist their full support as we head into another huge year with huge brands. We’re looking forward to an even greater relationship with Playtime and are excited to see the team continue to deliver creative campaigns and effective results.” Playtime’s founder & MD, Lesley Singleton, added: “We’re all over the moon that the Moose Toys UK team felt so strongly about our work that they wanted us on-side full time. The team is fantastic to work with – trusting our guidance and working collaboratively – which means we can devise brilliant campaigns and partnerships to deliver impressive results both in the media and at retail.”

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Marketing World Redlands partners with Elmer Marketing for UK push Redlands Distribution has joined forces with Vicki Marler-Hausen of Elmer Marketing to spearhead marketing and PR for the company’s portfolio of internationally recognised brands, including FAO Schwarz and Discovery. The company is seeking to expand its retail presence and to bring more of its innovative brands to the UK market. As marketing consultant in the UK, Vicki will liaise closely with Redlands’ CEO Mark Handley and the ThreeSixty Group on promoting the FAO Schwarz collection and Discovery/Discovery #Mindblown Science and STEM ranges. In addition, she will explore PR opportunities for Sharper Image R/C and robotics, as well as for the iconic BigPiano. Elmer Marketing’s remit covers the management of the company’s marketing calendar, trade show attendance, advertising, PR events and social media, to help deliver creative campaign initiatives and further develop interactive experiences at retail for UK consumers. Mark Handley, CEO Redlands Distribution, commented: “We are entering an exciting time at Redlands as we grow our retailer partnerships and raise awareness of our fantastic catalogue of exclusive brands in the UK and Ireland. Since launching the flagship FAO Schwarz store in Selfridges last October, and seeing the incredible reaction to our in-store theatre, we are now looking to expand our retail presence and are also keen to bring even more innovative and fun brands to the UK market. I am therefore delighted to welcome Vicki to the team and know that her many years of experience within the toy industry will help open more doors and enable us to put effective marketing plans in place.” Vicki added: “I have been blown away by the impressive retail space for FAO Schwarz in Selfridges and also by Mark’s enthusiasm, passion and ambitious vision for Redlands and its amazing toy ranges. I am delighted he has invited me to be part of the UK team and I cannot wait to get started on campaign ideas for these famous brands. Anyone wishing to contact me to discuss opportunities can email vicki@redlandsdistribution.com.”

Bandai unveils latest campaign for Yolkies collectibles A TikTok campaign to target a Gen Z audience with its new Yolkies collectibles is currently underway for Bandai UK. Encased in mystery eggs, the edible slime and collectible surprise egg characters have enthused a host of TikTokkers, with engagement and reach figures already exceeding expected targets. Kirsty Mackenzie, head of marketing, Bandai UK said: “Yolkies is a fun, quirky, innovative brand which gives us the opportunity to do things a little differently to traditional direct-to-kids targeting. Essentially, we wanted to take a position where creators had the freedom to develop organic-style comedic content to bring the brand to life. Playtime PR and Fanbytes worked closely to identify influencers known for comedy, prank and challenge videos in order to resonate with Gen Z viewers, but within a responsible manner to reach those younger audiences who we know interact with the platform.” Playtime PR identified TikTok as the perfect platform to launch Yolkies and worked with influencer marketing agency, Fanbytes, to create a campaign that would resonate with young people. “We knew that Yolkies and TikTok would be a perfect match,” commented Playtime PR’s founder, Lesley Singleton, “So we enlisted the experts at Fanbytes who agreed that, on the back of slime’s immense trending popularity on the platform, TikTok would be a great launchpad for the brand. They brought our creative ideas to life with their host of TikTok talent, understanding of the young audience and indeed the platform itself."

700 schools join Spin Master’s Meccano programme Over the next 12 months, more than 100,000 KS2 pupils (aged 7-11 years) from 700 schools across the UK will get the chance to build and learn with Meccano through curriculum studies and via lunch and after school clubs. The Meccano Co-Lab STEM programme, which has been created by and will be managed by specialist agency Super, comprises 10 hours of branded study content across four curriculum subjects: History, Art/Design, Science and English. Each school will also launch its own Meccano Club focusing on challenges, free play and experimentation to drive further awareness and exposure of the brand. The programme will extend to a total of half a million consumers, after factoring in wider school engagement via assemblies as well as keeping parents informed about the activities their children are engaging in. Ella Newman, senior brand manager for Meccano said: “We are delighted to be working with Super to get Meccano into the hands of so many UK schoolchildren this year. We’ve carried out STEM activities with schoolchildren in the past, but nothing on this scale before. We are naturally excited that this added exposure to Meccano will further spark curiosity and interest in our brand and over time, inspire more engineers and scientists of the future.” Aaron Lipman, founding director at Super, said “The Meccano product, matched with our STEM education and after-school club marketing materials, made it an easy sell to teachers, resulting in over 700 schools opting-in within three weeks to receive our branded campaign materials and product. The output to this activity will see over half a million children and families engaged with the programme with over one million branded hours consumed both in-school and at home.”

Toy World 18


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Opinion

Viewing figures This month, with Ofcom reporting VOD as the No.1 viewing destination for children, Jonathan asks if is it time for a rethink on advertising strategy?

O

nce again reports of linear TV’s demise have been widespread, following the publication of the latest Ofcom report for 2019 (covering 5-15 year olds). The increased accessibility and availability of competing/ complementary platforms means marketing strategies now require a multi/omni-channel approach. Significant declines in linear TV viewing are being reported, so is TV still deserving of a starring role in 2020 marketing strategies? According to Ofcom’s “Children and parents: Media use and attitudes report 2019”, 80% of 5-15 year olds viewed VOD content (Netflix/Amazon Prime/iPlayer/etc.) in 2019. This placed it as the No.1 viewing platform ahead of both live broadcast TV and YouTube, which both registered 75%. VOD’s position at the top of the viewing pyramid has been delivered by significant recent growth, having just 44% penetration in 2015. However, is this really that much of a surprise? The rise in usage amongst 5-15 year olds of connected TVs (67%), tablets (68%) and mobiles (55%) – all of which are up year-onyear – has also given rise to a huge volume of VOD providers competing for attention. In the current race for children’s attention, accessibility is key and VOD (in all its guises) has successfully managed to infiltrate every aspect of children’s video tech. Unsurprisingly, these numbers only increase as children get older, with 88% of 12-15 year olds viewing VOD in H1 2019 - but VOD and tech led viewing should no longer be seen as the preserve of older audiences. Netflix has been particularly successful in engaging 2-3 year olds, thanks to the way it is navigated pictorially, with 16% of this audience accessing in H1 2019 compared to just 13% of 8-9 year olds. This has helped Netflix to grow its market share by almost 100% over a period of two years. However, the success of Netflix does highlight the biggest problem with the VOD market for marketers. Most high-profile opportunities are non-commercial, and whilst commercial platforms are growing rapidly, they do not singularly have the fame or user base of

Netflix et al. This produces further complications from a content and licensing perspective. In this multichannel landscape, content needs to be distributed across as many platforms as possible, meaning rights management negotiations can become protracted and complicated. VOD will therefore form an increasingly important part of the marketing mix in 2020, however it is not yet in a commercially viable position to challenge linear TV for the lion’s share of budget. YouTube ties TV for usage amongst 5-15 year olds according to Ofcom (75%), and crucially, it remains 100% commercial (despite recent policy changes). This number will only grow given the breadth of content YouTube provides. Not only does it cover the myriad of interests and hobbies that children of all ages aspire to, it is now also a valuable educational platform, with 60% using it to view clips on how to build or create things (up from 42% in 2018). Influencers also continue to make up a large proportion of children’s viewing time. We are seeing movement away from the traditional global influencers though (at least attitudinally), with the fastest growing part of this market being micro/nano influencers. These may have smaller subscriber numbers, but children are increasingly drawn to local influencers with whom they share a perceived connection. Given all this, it is little wonder that YouTube has become incredibly popular amongst toy and games advertisers in the UK, however it is not yet as ubiquitous as TV. Perhaps this is down to the short form nature (in the main). Whilst it is used as frequently, it is not as sticky, with viewers spending less time per session than they would traditional linear TV. History and tradition plays a large part as to why TV has always been the No.1 destination for toy and games advertising budgets, but the fact that linear TV still (for the time being) provides the best value proposition to the market cannot be understated. This is both from a cost and reach perspective (not to mention the historic track record of producing Return on Investment

Toy World 20

Jonathan Chambers Director of AV Investment, Generation Media. Tel: 0207 307 7906 Jonathan.Chambers@generationmedia.co.uk compared to its as yet unproven competitors). The Ofcom report also neglects to break down the sheer extent of platforms and channels both VOD and YouTube sit across. VOD has grown substantially as a direct result of huge increase in means of accessing On Demand content, be that via the different providers (Netflix/Amazon Prime/iPlayer/etc.) or platforms (Tablet/Mobile/ Connected TV/etc.). Whilst total penetration has increased, coverage by VOD platform (YouTube for instance) is much smaller. The Kids and the Screen data provides us with the complete viewing picture when it comes to 2-12 year olds and allows us to see that, despite the undeniable declines in traditional TV (with over an hour of viewing time per week being lost year-on-year), it still remains the No.1 destination for all age groups when it comes to viewing, with live and recorded TV accounting for 36% of all viewing occasions in H1 2019 (YouTube, No.2 by this metric accounted for 21%, inclusive of YouTube Kids). Whilst this remains the case, and the cost remains as efficient as it currently is, TV will still play a leading role in most advertising campaigns directed at children. Linear TV’s importance is elevated further when you consider that Giraffe Insights’ Kids and the Screen reports that live and recorded TV accounted for 53% of all adverts recalled by 2-9 year olds in H2 2019. Let’s also not forget the multitude of other offerings with growing appeal, fronted by TikTok. A quarter of all 10 year olds now have a social media profile of some description (even 4% of 5-7 year olds), with TikTok the fastest growing amongst social media platforms. In 2018, only 8% of 12-15 year olds used TikTok. This has grown by over 50% to 13% in 2019 and is set to grow further in 2020 as the Chinese backed platform continues to invest significant sums in above the line marketing.


Company Profile

Viral Talent

Under the influence Laura Edwards

Alex Chavez-Munoz

YouTube and other online channels are often viewed as the Wild West by toy companies. How can toy companies and their media partners best navigate the online arena? Laura: It’s a time-consuming job and brands need to speak to genuine influencer specialists. Viral talent has experience of managing the biggest family creators in the world and has delivered over 1500 influencer campaigns. We really understand the dos and donts of influencer marketing. There are a number of different social platforms out there, and each serves a different purpose, so our approach is driven by the brief from the client. Alex: We not only recommend YouTube but also Instagram, TikTok and Facebook. Influencer marketing can’t be based solely on opinion; brands need social data to provide further insight. With our bespoke social platform, we authenticate every influencer. Unfortunately, we have seen some brands work with influencers that have a fake following; it was reported last year that 15% of influencer budget was wasted on fake followers, so every brand should make sure each influencer they work with has been authenticated. We also have a real time reporting suite and can offer brands daily insight into how well the influencer campaign is performing, and the engagement level, rather than just traditional metrics.

How important is rigorous, robust data in the planning process? Alex: It has become imperative now. With so many new companies moving into the influencer agency

Toy World spoke to Laura Edwards, co- founder of Viral Talent and Alex Chavez-Munoz, talent and brand director, about the importance identifying the right social strategy for each individual brand, and maximising the opportunities that different influencers and platforms can provide.

side due to the low barrier to entry, companies need as much data as possible on each influencer to make the right choice. Laura: Brands should set the level of understanding high and put pressure on the agency to deliver real insights in the influencer’s audience and brand affinity. Subscribers and average views are not enough. Brands need to know the story of the influencer, their growth, their brand affiliation, which city they are most popular in and ultimately if they are brand safe. Our social data activates all of this; we can even compare an influencer’s audience to the audience of the brand’s social channels to identify their match.

How can toy companies tell which statistics are genuine and which are vanity metrics? Alex: Brands need a full reporting suite for their influencer activity. They need to know how engaging an influencer’s content is. Vanity metrics such as views and likes aren’t enough anymore. Brands need to see how well accepted the influencer’s content has been, and we also need to ensure that we are generating conversions. Engagement is great, but ultimately a brand needs to sell product to make its marketing effective. We also offer affiliate and commission options. With one retailer last year, we generated £1.4m in revenue through a single influencer. This has been a fantastic option for brands that are looking to test the water with influencer marketing. A genuine influencer agency or social agency should be able to offer this option.

Toy World 22

How do you help companies monitor engagement on a day-to-day basis? Alex: We offer real time reporting which highlights engagement levels for the brand; it contains all content and splits the activity by platform. As this is real time information, it allows us to jump on anything that is working and have the capability to amend a plan (providing the client is open to that). We also offer another platform which records all our sales from that specific influencer, so brands not only see the levels of engagement but also conversions. We have been running reports for our clients on previous social campaigns and provided some interesting insight. For one client we identified the most engaging social post in the world for their brand and the most engaging content. It was actually an artist that was creating hand drawn images of their products and they never even knew he existed! Such data can also be important for the business in general, not just the influencer strategy. It can provide new product ideas and insights into what consumers are engaging with.

How important is the creative execution in achieving good results in this area? Laura: It’s super important. As a company we will analyse current social trends, as well as the influencer’s most engaged posts and look to replicate that into the brief. We want the client to provide us with the key objective and we will create everything from there. Our job is to provide the right influencer on the right platform, and the creative, all within budget. Once agreed and once all parties are happy,


Company Profile

we will execute the delivery and report on all insights of the campaign.

Ultimately, how can companies be sure that the budget they are investing in digital is money well spent, and delivering positive results compared to other marketing option? Laura: Brands need complete transparency and insightful results to compare against their other marketing options. Through using our reporting suite, which covers full engagement and conversions,

Viral Talent

I believe this provides everything a brand needs to understand its ROI. Data is showing that mums, dads and kids are all heavily invested into social media; it’s just a case of identifying what type of social media will work for the brand to achieve results. Are brands being educated about the power of TikTok? Do brands fully understand the power of Facebook groups for mums, do brands understand that Insta stories are driving the strongest conversion? Influencer marketing is dynamic, but it’s not all about one platform and one type of influencer.

Alex: The brand’s brief dictates what influencer and platform should be used and, as a specialist influencer agency, we will always come up with the solution which has the best possible chance of fulfilling that brief. We offer brands our experience but ultimately, we also offer peace of mind via our social platform to ensure that everything we are recommending is backed up and fully transparent.

Contact Alex@viraltalent.co.uk or laura@viraltalent.co.uk for more information

Working Together to Keep Bad Toys Away

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Licensing World Rainbow's 44 Cats reports success following UK debut Since its debut in the UK, Rainbow’s 44 Cats has been consistently growing, with the show reaching millions of viewers and increasing audiences month after month, establishing itself as one of the most popular properties among children aged three and above. The first season of 44 Cats started airing on Pop TV, Nick Jr and Nick Jr Too in 2019. The 52 x 13’ animated series tells the daily adventures of four kittens — Lampo, Milady, Pilou and Meatball — who form a band called the Buffycats. The partnership between Rainbow and Lisle Licensing, which is licensing the brand across the UK, is ensuring the success of the brand. The official UK toy partner, Simba Dickie’s Siso Toys, started distributing the collection from February. The toys, created by master toy partner Toy Plus, are based on the key elements of the series; music, creative play patterns and collectability and includes interactive plush toys, figurines, play sets and musical toys. Major CP deals are in place with UK partners, including John Toys and Amscan, developing products with multi territorial deals, and many others such as Sony Music, Dreamtex, Redan Publishing, Fashion UK, Ravensburger, Clementoni, Chicco & Bip. After captivating TV, social media and streaming platforms around the world, the brand has an extensive PR and marketing plan for both trade and consumer audiences in place.

Universal and Smyths collaborate on Jurassic World retail marketing The campaign launched with a special screening of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom at The Vaults in London. The event featured immersive activities and offered the opportunity to play with new products from the recently refreshed cross-category consumer products programme. Digital gaming experiences, themed food and drink and an authentic dinosaur-stampede, complete with costumed adults running for their lives, also featured as part of the day. The invite-only soiree was co-hosted by famous YouTubers Gorgeous Movies who took over the Smyths Instagram account, posting live updates using the #EnterJurassicWorld hashtag. The campaign continued post event with Gorgeous Movies creating bespoke Jurassic World content from the day for its YouTube channel, which boasts over 1.7m subscribers. In addition, Smyths has also been posting footage highlights from the day on YouTube and across its Facebook page with a retail call to action. Continuing to expand Jurassic World’s retail footprint remains a top priority for Universal Brand Development as the brand nears its third decade, with new product ranges and refreshes coming through. The upcoming Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous, an animated series from DreamWorks Animation, Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment, has been created for Netflix and is due to hit screens later this year. The third instalment in the Jurassic World film series, entitled Jurassic World Dominion, will premiere in summer 2021.

Harry Potter tops World Book Day sales for Rubie’s Harry Potter once again topped World Book Day sales for Rubie’s, with seven of its top ten performing lines drawn from the Wizarding World. With Rubie’s research showing that Hermione is the most spontaneously mentioned Book Week character after Harry himself, the big news for 2020 was the introduction of a Hermione costume kit which performed beyond expectation. Professor McGonagall was the best performing adult costume. “We are investing in consumer insights and market research to tap into our audience; knowing what they want to dress up in and how they consume content around these characters is helping shape our business decisions,” commented Vicki Hamilton, Rubie’s marketing manager. ‘It’s great for parents to have a variety of new book characters coming through, and we’re excited to unveil some brand-new licences for 2021.’ World Book Day 2020 was a huge success and it wasn’t just Wizarding World that helped the company’s significant year on year growth. 2020 results also showed that comic book characters are still a popular choice for young readers, and Mary Poppins has yet to lose her appeal for kids or grown-ups. Disney’s Frozen II continues to delight fans and Star Wars has started to see a resurgence. With Disney+ launching this month, there are high hopes for the Disney brand portfolio. Core licensed characters were the stand-out success of WBD according to several major UK retailers, and Rubie’s offers nearly 200 character brands to choose from.

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Licensing World Super Wings season four sees Alpha bolster toy range

Lego and Nintendo announce new partnership The Lego Group has announced a partnership with Nintendo. Neither a video game nor a traditional Lego brick-based set, Lego Super Mario features an interactive Lego Mario figure who collects coins in real-life game levels created with Lego bricks. The new line will let kids experience the world of Super Mario like never before, as Super Mario is brought to life in the physical Lego world with new levels of challenge and styles of play. The news was shared in a video posted by the Lego Group and Nintendo, which hints at what fans can expect when Lego Super Mario launches later this year. “We are very excited to bring Mario into the physical world through interactive and social Lego play”, said Julia Goldin, chief marketing officer, EVP of the Lego Group. “With this experience we will help millions of kids with love for Mario to engage and play in a completely new way, where they are in control of creating and playing games with their favourite character. By seamlessly incorporating the latest digital technology, Lego Super Mario is a highly social, interactive and collaborative experience for kids.” “I have always liked Lego products and how they help children use their imagination to play”, said Takashi Tezuka, executive officer and game producer of Nintendo Co. “The new product we created together with the Lego Group seeks to combine two different styles of play – one where you freely build the world of Mario and the other where you play with Mario in the very world that you have created.”

Alpha Group UK has announced the launch of season four for hit pre-school animation property, Super Wings. The season will introduce a new Super-Charge theme which sees the Super Wings characters physically transform into stronger, faster, amplified versions of themselves. Key characters Jett, Paul, Dizzy and Astra set off on new adventures, joined by new characters and story lines. The series adds 40 brand-new 11 minute episodes including 2 x 20 minute specials to the extensive Super Wings content slate. Alpha Group’s dual broadcasting partnerships will continue in the UK with Cartoonito airing the new Super Wings Series from March and Tiny Pop launching on free to air later this year. The company will be bolstering its extensive master toy range with the introduction of new products for autumn/winter 2020. The popular Transform a Bots will offer a host of new designs along with a new impulse price point. The Transforming Vehicles range will be enhanced with new ‘super-charged’ themes from the show along with the introduction of new characters into the collection. The range will be supported through heavyweight TV and digital campaigns, PR and consumer promotions. Antoine Erligmann of Alpha Group said: “We are thrilled to continue our partnerships with Cartoonito and Tiny Pop to launch Super Wings season four content in the UK. The Super Wings Series continues to perform strongly within the competitive pre-school programming space. Pre-schoolers are sure to love the new series with its exciting new theme, characters, storyline and corresponding toy ranges available throughout autumn/winter.”

Hasbro retains master toy licences for Disney’s Star Wars and Marvel brands Hasbro has said it will retain the master toy licences for Disney’s Star Wars and Marvel brands. The agreement, which Hasbro and Disney extended in 2013, was expected to expire in 2020. Financial terms were not disclosed. The multi-year agreement allows Hasbro to release products based on Marvel and Star Wars content on film, television and Disney+. “We are pleased to build on our relationship with Disney and extend our agreement for Marvel and Star Wars franchises,” said Brian Goldner, Hasbro’s chairman and CEO. “Disney’s celebrated franchises are consistently ranked as top toy properties and provide expansive content for us to build upon for years to come.” Hasbro has long benefited from its relationship with Disney. In the last year, Hasbro’s partner brands revenue rose 24% to $1.22b, with the company pointing to strong sales of Frozen II, Avengers, Spider-Man and Star Wars lines. The sales demonstrate that Hasbro’s partnership with Disney continues to be lucrative and stabilising. The company did not disclose when the multi-year deal will expire. “I have always liked Lego products and how they help children use their imagination to play”, said Takashi Tezuka, executive officer and game producer of Nintendo Co. “The new product we created together with the Lego Group seeks to combine two different styles of play – one where you freely build the world of Mario and the other where you play with Mario in the very world that you have created.”

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g Marketin Support Plan ive y s s a M ert p o r iP t l u M Plush

Launchi ng Apr

©Disney & ©Disney/Pixar

‘20

SISO TOYS UK


NPD Insight

The shifting landscape of toy consumer demographics

Rory Partis

Director UK Toys & EuroToys NPD

Rory looks at the changing face of toy consumers, in particular how NPD data is showing a decline in certain categories but an increase in others, such as the 12+ age group.

T

here have been a number of changes in in fact 18+, accounting for nearly a third of all Games the UK toy market over the last few years, purchases. Looking at trends in Games for 2019 particularly within the retail landscape. possibly reveals why: some of the fastest growing But we have also seen changes in terms brands are titles like Dobble, Uno, Pictionary Air and of consumers, of those buying toys and Exploding Kittens, which have arguably succeeded those using them. Over the last two years, NPD because they appeal to young and old alike and are consumer data shows that toy purchases for the 12+ also quick and easy to play. The Supercategory has age group have added nearly £80m to the total market also seen growth in Adult Puzzles in 2019; almost all in the UK, whereas the pre-school age range (0-3) of the growth in Puzzles is from this subclass which has lost over £200m and boys 4-11 has lost a similar is now larger than Children’s Puzzles. Adult Puzzles amount. Girls 4-11 has added £40m, but it is the 12+ age group that is far and away the best performer. Possibly Most of the lost toy sales are from Pre-school & Boys the most striking statistic is that Value £M Lost/Gained vs 2017 £78 this age range now £40 accounts for 24% of all purchases which is actually the same as pre-schoolers and boys 4-11. What is happening in the market to make (£206) (£209) these kidults buy Preschool (0-3 Yrs) Boys (4-11 Yrs) Girls (4-11 Yrs) Kidults 12+ Yrs into toys more than ever before? % Toys 24% 24% 27% 24%

Changing Demographics in Toys

Another supercategory that has seen an increase within the 12+ demographic is Action Figures. Over a third of all Action Figures value is now in the 12+ age group - and this was also the top growth age group too, adding nearly £5m in 2019. The rise of Funko Pop! has been a key contributor, being popular with both younger and older toy consumers. When you look at the most popular licences for the 12+ age group, you can see why Funko Pop! is performing well; the top 4 properties are Marvel Universe, Star Wars, Harry Potter and DC Universe. Each of these licences contributed to the huge growth for Funko in 2019, although the No 1 licence for Funko is Fortnite. Other licences that have enjoyed strong growth for Funko in the last year also fit well with the kidult theme, such as Overwatch, Stranger Things and Game of Thrones.

Building Sets is The 12+ age group the second largest represented 24% supercategory in Source: The NPD Group | Consumer Panel | UK | Full Year 2019 vs. 2017 of the market in value size for the DocumentThe classification: Client/Third Party Confidential NPD Group, Inc. | Proprietary and confidential 1 2019, a figure which 12+ age group, being that has increased worth over £100m significantly in and 14% of all of the added £1.3m in 2019, and the items in this category recent years – it was under 20% in 2016. One of the value for age group. Lego Technic has been one of are generally over 1000 pieces. The increase here biggest increases in the past 12 months comes the top performing brands in the supercategory for could be linked to an increased awareness off mental from the Games & Puzzles supercategory, the most 2019, with some of the best performing items having health and mindfulness, with jigsaw puzzles being popular supercategory for the age group, accounting average prices of over £200. seen as an ideal way both to relax and to exercise the for a fifth of all purchases. Looking closer at Games mind. in particular, the largest age group for this category is

Toy World 30


To monitor what’s happening in the ever-changing toy market, NPD collects point-of-sale information from all major toy retailers. This information, combined with our analysts’ industry perspectives, delivers a comprehensive view of what’s selling and where. We also field over 12m consumer surveys annually to help industry leaders understand why consumers shop where they shop and why they buy what they buy. For more information visit www.npd.com. Follow NPD on Twitter @npdgroup.

Property Progression Total Licence

Rank Jan 2020

Rank Feb 2020

SuperZings

#45

#32

Action Figure Collectibles has been one of the top performing subclasses in 2020 and SuperZings has been a big part of that strong growth. The No.2 property in the subclass has seen sales that are around £250k more in the first two months of the year than in the comparable period in 2019. Series 5 has been lunched recently and the top 4 items for the property are all Series 5 items, with the SuperZings Rivals of Kaboom Series 5 Skyracers being the top item in value this year.

Fastest Growing Subclasses in Toys Fastest Growing Subclasses Skates/Skateboards/Scooters & Fashion Dolls have added most value in 2020 Sales Gained £M Skate/Skateboards/Scooters Fashion Dolls Non-Strat Trade Cards/Collectible… Action Figure Collectibles Standard Building Sets Large Dolls & Acc Card Games Battling Toys & Playsets Adult Puzzles Family Strategy Games £0

£0.4 £0.4 £0.4

£1.1 £1.0 £0.9 £0.8

£1

£2.2 £2.2

£1.4

£2

£3

Source: The NPD Group | Retail Tracking Service | YTD Feb 2020 vs. 2019

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

Some of the key trends from 2019 have clearly carried into 2020 with Action Figure Collectibles still performing well and being the 4th top performing subclass and adding over £1m in sales vs. 2019. Funko Pop! and SuperZings are the two top properties in value and have also added the most value. Skates/Skateboards/Scooters and Fashion Dolls are the two top performing subclasses, both adding £2.2m to the market so far in 2020. Barbie is the No.1 property in Fashion Dolls and has added nearly £500k so far this year, with L.O.L Surprise! being the No.2 property in the subclass. Card Games is also one of the top performing subclasses and has added £800k so far this year, with Dobble, UNO, Top Trumps and Exploding Kittens all performing well.

UK Country Manager: Philip Morris www.bertoy.com www.squishable.com squishabledotcom squishables

philip@bertoy.co.uk

Ph: 07748 150906.


01626 835400

sales@wiltonbradley.co.uk

www.wiltonbradley.co.uk


Talking Shop

Keep calm and buy some toys! As the toy industry continues to face challenging times, it’s independents that are ideally positioned to be responsive to rapidly changing circumstances. Lisa Currie spoke to retailers to find out how they have been trading so far this year and how business is being affected. Whatever the conditions, some lines are still standing out and membership of organisations like AIS is proving its worth in terms of support.

Clair Letton - Wigwam Toys, Brighton

I

n terms of business, in-store sales have been relatively steady over recent months. We are based in a residential area in Brighton, so we rely on regulars who live locally, rather than tourist trade. Because of this, we don’t have the same seasonal highs and lows that many other shops experience, although we have noticed our customers are reticent to spend money in the current climate. Generally, people are being more careful with their money, however the recent launch of our website has enabled us to reach a broader range of customers and we are pleased to see ongoing growth in that area. The entire Wigwam team, myself included, all have creative backgrounds, and this impacts our buying decisions and the way that we merchandise and present the goods to customers. We appeal to consumers through the shop itself, which is very colourful with a great sense of drama and theatre. I think people enjoy the experience of shopping with us as we think carefully about every element, from the music we play to the colours in store. These days, a retail shop has to offer customers a sense of theatre and something that they can’t get online. Toy Fair is always enjoyable for us , as it’s based in London it’s easy for us to get to. We can get back to Brighton on the same day if we want, which enables us all to go to the show. It’s a fantastic opportunity to catch up with suppliers and see what’s new for the coming year. We are really excited about the new Harry Potter Lego sets, which include an amazing moving model of Hedwig, and the nostalgic Scooby Doo and Back to the Future sets from Playmobil. In terms of our current best-sellers, the Cutetitos, Babitos and Fruititos from Basic Fun have been flying; we literally cannot keep them in stock. Pokémon is also a regular staple; sales rise and fall slightly all the time, but at a sub £15 price point, it consistently remains one of our top sellers in store. In the pre-school category we have a really strong selection of books, puzzles and toys suitable for that age group, which all sell well across the board. The retro Fisher-Price collection from Basic Fun is a standout range in terms of sales, as well as the Playmobil 123 range.

We stock a variety of puzzles, from simple ones suitable for two-year olds all the way up to far more complicated 1000-piece puzzles for older kids and adults. They always sell well since it is an activity the whole family can participate in and return to again and again, plus it’s a great indoor activity when the weather is less than favourable. Many more advanced puzzles highlight the work of some fantastic illustrators, and these are always popular and sell well. Cards and boardgames are equally popular at Wigwam and among our shop favourites are definitely Pass the Pigs and Dobble. On the whole books, games and puzzles are absolute staples in our store all

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through the year. They are the categories that parents and grandparents don’t mind spending money on because they provide educational value, longevity, inclusivity and represent excellent value for money. Pocket money lines and collectibles are an important part of what we do at Wigwam Toys too. Lego mini figures, Pokémon booster packs and Sylvanian blind bags/carry cases are among our top sellers and recently, Fruititos and Babitos have joined the most popular lines in this category. In terms of challenges, I think the high street generally has suffered over the past decade, due to increased rents and the rise of online shopping. Uncertainties around Brexit toward the end of 2019 and since January also hasn’t helped matters. With this in mind, I do think the government could do more to help small businesses re-populate the high street and stay there, with legislation aimed specifically at this sector, such as VAT relief and corporation tax relief. The promised review of current business rate legislation is welcome, but it also concerns me, as the smallest businesses currently pay very little if anything. I hope that new legislation maintains this relief and it isn’t sacrificed due to a lack of understanding of the needs of small and micro business. We held a series of events through the year in 2019 where we invited other local groups to host events outside the shop, including Lego building activities. Following a positive response, we have a number of store-based events planned throughout the coming year; this is something that physical stores can offer customers that the online experience can’t; knowledgeable staff, a personal touch and a pleasant and fun retail experience. As well as exciting upcoming events happening within the store, I have also written a piece for this year’s Parliamentary review, addressing the issues of High Street versus online shopping, sustainability and the role of government legislation in sustaining small business and regenerating the high street. I encourage readers to look out for a link to the piece on our blog which can be found on the Wigwam Toys website (www.wigwamtoys.co.uk).


Talking Shop Selina Clarke - Jarrold, Norwich

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arrold is a family owned independent department store situated in the heart of Norwich, and we also have several specialist stores located in Norfolk. Family is at the core of our business and this year we will be celebrating our 250th Birthday, having started out as a drapers and grocers in 1770. The business has thrived and developed massively over the years: needless to say, we are very different now to when we first started. The store covers five floors with all the department store staples, including a toy department, plus a specialist sports shop and art and stationery shop. To add to the overall shopping experience at Jarrold, we now have six places to eat or drink. We are also currently working on a refresh within the store, supporting local themes. Overall, business has been positive, and as a store we were ahead last year. We have heavily invested in food and beverage over the last few years which has proven beneficial in terms of increased footfall. The toy department had a great start to 2019 and up until October we were ahead of 2018, however Christmas came late and was generally a tough period, so we ended up finishing slightly down on the year overall. Despite this we were still ahead of the industry figures. 2020 has started well, but in this new uncertain climate we are currently experiencing, it looks like we are heading toward tougher times. Nevertheless, we continue to focus on what our customers want and expect from us. As an independent, we are at the heart of our community and we spend a lot of time working with our teams on customer service, so that our customers have the best shopping experience possible. We have also been practising ‘experiential’ retail for a few years now, which means we are constantly holding exclusive events, brand launches and demonstrations. Our customers know that they can rely on us to provide the best choice and service in the city and we deliver it in a way that makes them feel part of a family environment. This sense of community is echoed in our position

as an AIS member, which offers many benefits. Aside from terms with key suppliers, AIS helps by being somewhere to turn to for help and guidance. The FOB import offering has got stronger and stronger and helps us with range and margin in key areas. The show also assists us when looking for new ranges, especially when deals have been struck on members’ behalf. Above all, being a part of a buying group offers a supportive network - we all have our own meetings with suppliers, but if there is a common issue or request, it’s great knowing that AIS will tackle it for us all. Supporting their members and the industry is a key focus for the AIS team. Regarding our current best-sellers, Lego is still very strong; the City and Friends ranges have notably both started the year very well. Games and puzzles have also continued to sell well; I think the recent storms have helped with this, since products from this category are an ideal indoor activity for the whole family. We’ve just reintroduced Halilit music into our pre-school section and sales have been strong so far. Peppa Pig is still leading the way for licenced characters and we are seeing good sales across the Brio portfolio. Gibson’s is a very strong seller, and the new children’s puzzles have had a great response with customers, who are also very happy with the box size. The £12 - £18 price point in games is the sweet spot for consumers, and this includes lots of products from Asmodee. The company’s Modern Classic ranges has seen consistent sales since Christmas. In collectibles, Schleich continues to perform well. Wooden toys is an area of focus this year. I personally think wooden toys is such an important part of play and development. Having just had a baby myself, I am finding wooden toys the perfect way to introduce open ended play for our daughter. There’s something wholesome about wood. We can all get wrapped up in marketing spends and TVRs, so it’s refreshing to focus on where it all began. I

Toy World 34

believe that wooden ranges suit AIS stores, as they fit so nicely with department stores and garden centres. Aside from all the normal benefits previously listed, AIS is a very close-knit group where advice from other buyers or Miles Penhallow is easy to get hold of – and reliable. The team is constantly talking to suppliers to give us as much up to date information as possible. Through the year, we will be offered supplier packs for instore events (these are arranged by AIS directly with suppliers) to help with instore theatre, which is always popular with customers. As a department store, overheads are always a challenge. We are constantly working on ways to work smarter and be more efficient without the customer being affected. Online also presents its own challenges, as it’s an area that is continually developing. We have a very strong online team, which we invested in about 10 years ago and this forward-thinking planning is paying off now, helping us to compete in the online channel. Finding new and different ranges is vital; you can never stand still, and we love adding new brands and ranges. A huge advantage for us is the fact that we are an independent; we can respond much more quickly than multiples to new products, work with suppliers more closely and try new things. We can also respond to customers’ needs and requests almost immediately. In the current climate, I think 2020 is going to be a tough year and being on top of stock and supplier communication is going to be key over the next few months. The one thing that we can rely on is how resilient the UK Toy trade is. Indies will hopefully be in the position to pounce on stock when it becomes available, as we can be reactive. This will be a year of core lines and the evergreen products that sometimes get missed in the euphoria of new launches. Equally, with the next few months looking unprecedented, some may see it as a time to take risks and do something different.


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David Fynn - John Sanders, Ruislip

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ohn Sanders is an independent department store with a large toy department which has been trading in Ruislip since 1985. Toys has been expanded over the years to become one of our key departments and takes up roughly half of the first floor, with a Baby shop comprising clothes, toys and gifts for up to 36 months on the ground floor. Since we are located on a suburban high street in Ruislip, most of our trade is local and centred on a loyal customer base. With a history spanning over 100 years, we firmly believe our longevity is due to the way we respond to the needs of our customers, as well as our diverse product offering and a focus on serving the local community. As members of AIS and the Play-Room buying group, we pride ourselves on being able to source a wide variety of different products that are high in quality with varied price points to cater for our consumers in every way possible. Business has been steady for the most part so far this year. Last year proved challenging, following the closure of a major national chain situated next door to us, and Christmas trade was very late again. January on the other hand was unexpectedly strong. We are seeing signs that 2020 will be a better year on the whole; we enjoyed a bumper February Half Term, although the potential impact from the coronavirus may change things moving forward. In the meantime, we remain focused on what we do best. As an independent department store, we are unique in the local area, both in our levels of customer service and in the range of goods we offer. We try to ensure that we offer core ranges in considerable depth, alongside product not easily found elsewhere, in order to make us stand out from our competitors. We are very active in the local community and our visual focal point is the store’s large front window with its ever-changing display, keeping things fresh and up to date. As an AIS member, we have access to all major suppliers via the central payment system, along with specially negotiated promotions and activities. We can also take advantage of the extensive FOB programme which AIS offers, which has proved a key margin enhancer over the years. Having the weekly newsletter also keeps us up to date with latest trends and plenty more useful information. We will miss the Independent Toy & Gift Show this year as our most important show for assessing and planning ranges for the main season. It is very much a show for making decisions and ordering product. All the key suppliers are present in a relaxed and very pleasant environment, with most offering additional incentives for placing orders. With there not being any specific craze currently, we are finding that our customers are concentrating on tried and trusted names. Lego, Orchard Toys, Playmobil and Schleich have all shown growth and remain top choices for our customers, while Pokémon, Paw Patrol and Peppa Pig are established, trusted licences which remain popular. We offer a wide range of Funko, which has been a phenomenal seller. Adult jigsaws are also flying out of the door – not surprising since they make a perfect indoor activity for anyone undergoing a self-isolation period. For this year we will also be looking closely at what ecofriendly ranges are on offer, with a focus on wooden toys since this is an area we are looking to expand.

When the going gets tough…

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o start on a positive, even allowing for the extra day, we traded up for February this year, which we were delighted with. However, the early signs for March are that it is going to be tough. With all the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus, there is a real sense of the unknown concerning what might happen. As ever, there will be winners, anyone who sells hand sanitiser or toilet roll will be quids in.

In these tough times, we have to review our cost base and keep a tight rein on all expenditure. We do have concerns regarding availability of stock from suppliers going forward, and we are definitely noticing that footfall is soft at the moment. Obviously, a lot of these things are out of our control, but looking back on February, there were some winners. Pocket money has performed well for several months now, and this is largely driven by secondary sales at the till. We feature displays of pocket money lines by the tills, and this drives up basket spend. Spinners are still a reliable impulse purchase and squishy poo remains popular, as well as anything else squidgy, such as stress balls. We are also seeing great sales from Sylvanian Families blind bags, which is a nice pick up line. A new launch that has performed well from the off is Lego Dots. It seems to be the larger sets, such as the pencil pot and jewellery box that are selling best. In collectibles, other than L.O.L!, several other lines are selling well. 5 Surprise from Zuru, with the new Unicorn and Dino variants is starting to move well, and the redesigned Mashems and Fashems from Character have also seen an uplift. The new series of SuperZings is off to a great start. However, the star for us is still Pokémon trading cards, which continues to be in our top 10 bestsellers every week. A key feature for early March is World Book Day. This has definitely declined over the past couple of years and now, in our stores, is all about Harry Potter and fairy wings, along with some Disney Princess. With the availability of dress up items in the wider marketplace now, it is not as big an opportunity as it used to be for toy shops. Pre-school is a huge category for us, and continues to grow. With the demise of Mothercare, along with Boots cutting back on toys, there is definitely an opportunity going forward. Non-licensed and generic pre-school toys are where we are growing the most at the moment. Fisher Price and VTech are our two strongest brands, and are well known to all our customers. However, other non-branded suppliers are growing for us; there’s a demand for good quality pre-school basics at great prices which look great on shelf and are good margin drivers. This month, there are lots of things to look forward to in the film world. Trolls should be good when it arrives, and then we are looking forward to the upcoming Minions film. We have done very well in the last few years from Minions toys – it is one of those licences that appeals to kids and adults alike, with the slapstick humour and characters. The break of a few years since the last movie should keep demand strong. We have been impressed by the range from Mattel, and the Lego Minions lines look fantastic.

Toy World 37


Feature

Pre-school

Playing and learning together It’s fair to say that the Pre-School category is facing challenges. Over the past two years, some £200m has been lost in UK purchases. Toy World attempts to shed some light on the situation, and speaks to those who are still very much leading the way for our youngest toy consumers.

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he figure above may come as an unpleasant surprise to many who feel that the Pre-School (0-3) category is relatively protected from the ingress of products usually associated with slightly older children – video games and other screen-led activities, fashion and collectibles. The figures don’t lie though; speaking to one expert, the NPD’s Rory Partis, it seems the bulk of the issue may lie towards the younger end of the age spectrum. Parents, he

says, are more aware than ever on the impact of spending on toys that may not be played with for very long, and therefore may instead be favouring secondhand items and hand-me-downs from other siblings. As readers with young children will know, infants and toddlers don’t really care if a toy is brand-new; they’re more interested in the fun it provides. Pauline De La Riviere, marketing director at Mattel, agrees, and also points to ongoing issues with retail. “The pre-school market is a challenging

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category and there are a number of factors that have affected it over the last two years,” she explains. “The shrinking of the retail landscape, particularly in this category, has not only affected sales but also the service and advice that consumer would receive on products as trusted parental partners. As the economy and the environment continues to be a concern for parents, we see an increase in the secondhand market. This means that brands need to look at new ways to support parents, with advice on product


Feature

Pre-school

needs offered through digital platforms, and through product development to ensure that brands help parents by introducing grow-with-me features that offer a sustained investment.” “2020 is a very exciting year for us,” says Pauline. “Not only are we celebrating Fisher-Price’s 90th anniversary but we have also launched our new brand campaign, Let’s Be Kids. The campaign celebrates seeing the world as kids see it, with optimism and humour, whilst also extending an open invitation to grown-ups to ‘grow-down’ and rediscover the joy of playtime as we continue to bring innovation as well as updating classic in our product range.” The Let’s Be Kids campaign includes a series of video spots that feature popular Fisher-Price toys from its almost 90-year history, including a hero 60-second brand anthem video starring John Goodman. The actor is cast as the classic farmer from Fisher-Price’s Little People collection walking through a fantastical world amid a treasure trove of nostalgic characters inspired by iconic toys such as the Chatter Telephone and First Words Puppy. The campaign has been running in the UK through an extensive campaign showing positive results, and will be also supported with public relations, events and retail moments. “Fisher-Price has made it its mission to put the fun back in functional baby gear, and the play back in playtime,” adds Pauline. “An expansive and innovative range sees new products across the portfolio, from items suited to support baby at birth, to toys designed to entertain toddlers. We have so many exciting new launches, but the one standout will be Rollin’ Rovee. This little buddy has over 190 songs, tunes and phrases at his disposal, which means little learners will enjoy interacting with this smart toy for hours on end. He can even roll a ball back and forth with baby.” “We work closely with our retail partners to make sure we can offer the best product range and marketing support that aligns with their customers,” Pauline continues. “It’s through these partnerships that we are able to support our retailers and offer the best solution for consumers wherever they shop.”

For Toy Barnhaus, which has eight stores, the decreasing pre-school retail footprint – exacerbated by the demise of Mothercare and the cutbacks on toys recently made by Boots - has presented a huge opportunity to fill the gap. Writing in this month’s Toy World column, Stephen Barnes and Mark Buschhaus remain bullish about the opportunity for independent stores within the pre-school sector: “Pre-school is a huge category for us, and it continues to grow. With the demise of Mothercare, along with Boots cutting back on toys, there is very much an opportunity going forward. Non-licensed and generic pre-school toys are where we are currently growing the most. Fisher Price and VTech are our two strongest brands, both are well known to all our customers. However, other non-branded suppliers are growing for us; there’s a demand for good quality pre-school basics at competitive prices which look great on shelf and are good margin drivers.” Hape, distributed by Toynamics, is a best-selling pre-school line at Toyville in Bristol. Tapping into the ongoing desire for quality products which make use of sustainable wood, the Baby Einstein range from Hape is a particular favourite, offering musical toys with ‘magic touch’ keys such as the Baby Einstein Hape Magic Touch Piano and a new Tablet which lets little ones learn numbers, colours and first words in three different languages. This innovative tablet isn’t just educational, but also offers pre-schoolers a new way to emulate their surroundings and the activities they see their parents engaging in. A range of food and kitchen pre-school toys is also hitting the market for 2020; soft food baskets and toy appliances like the Fun Fan Fryer will give pre-schoolers a taste of what it’s like to prepare food and cook, just like adults do. In a recent article entitled Play and Milestones Development, written for Edx Education by Dr Cindy Hovington, open ended toys were highlighted as particularly useful for brain development in young children. An open-ended toy is one with no specific purpose, such as Edx’s deceptively simple Rainbow Pebbles, which can be used from 18 months and up in a variety of play patterns. Play suggestions put forward by the company include asking a child to place a pebble inside an empty tissue – a simple proprioception task – whereas at age three, parents and their kids could role-play being a bank manager a restaurant owner or a grocery store manager, pretending the pebbles are money, pancakes or various items from that bank, restaurant or store.

Toy World 40

As one of the market leaders in pre-school, Little Tikes is aiming to increase its presence in the category by teaming up with Moonbug to launch the first range of Little Baby Bum toys, based on the characters from the popular and globally recognised YouTube channel. Little Tikes’ key focus is to inspire playing and learning together through active and imaginative play, with a new line of products that encourages children to build skills through mobility, exploration and social interaction. “We’re really excited about the number of ranges we have in the pipeline for 2020, which will facilitate these core skills, and support development from birth,” explains MGA’s UK SVP, Andrew Laughton. “Little Baby Bum is a very important brand for MGA. Since its launch in 2011 Little Baby Bum has won global recognition and generated over 23b views and over 21m subscribers on YouTube. We share so many values when it comes to development through play and we’re thrilled with the launch. We’ve created a fantastic line of products and there is more investment and products coming in the autumn.” To ensure the brand stands out at retail, the company kicked things off with a four-week window display at Hamleys as part of the MGA window takeover. An exclusive press and influencer event was also hosted, immersing babies and pre-schoolers into the world of Little Baby Bum. “We have more retailer takeovers planned and will be investing heavily in key retail partnerships with FSDUs and POS,” comments Andrew. “The online retail channel is key for Little Baby Bum, and we’ll be driving more exciting content for our online retail partners with digital and social campaigns to show off the amazing MGA brands and to drive purchase.” All Little Tikes brands will see considerable support across PR, TV and digital, and the company is reportedly in the middle of planning and executing a new campaign in collaboration with Butlin’s. Andrew says: “Focusing on real family moments, we’ll be encouraging the UK to Play Big as we celebrate The World’s Biggest Play Date later this year.” Read on to discover the latest pre-school toys hitting shelves this year.


Pre-school

Mattel 01628 500 000 | www.mattel.com Fisher-Price continues to showcase an extensive range of pre-school led toys, including innovative new launches that enable little ones to experience hours of fun through learning - from musical fun to the alphabet and counting. After a successful launch last year, Linkimals continues to enhance development with innovative technology that enables the four products to link. Bringing together sounds, songs and phrases that teach numbers, colours and enhance motor skills, the Smooth Moves Sloth, Musical Moose, Lights and Colours Llama and Happy Shapes Hedgehog can join to create an immersive learning experience, including an exciting light show to entertain baby. New to the Infant Laugh & Learn range is the Time to Learn Smart Watch. The smart watch design and fun sounds encourage baby to use their imagination and brings role play fun to life, as well as introducing colours and fun phrases which encourage baby to move. Dexterity and hand-eye coordination are enhanced with the Click and Learn Instant Camera. Mini photographers can snap photos while songs and phrases help teach about the alphabet, counting and more. The Magic Colour Mixing Bowl encourages early role play and imaginative fun for little bakers. With a light-up bowl face and two colourful buttons that teach colours, numbers and the alphabet, this mixing bowl will hold babies’ attention as they play and learn.

Little Tikes 0845 0533 333 | www.mgae.com Little Tikes has a broad range of iconic toys with a key focus on playing and learning together to inspire active and imaginative play. Supporting development from birth, Little Tikes has collaborated with the YouTube phenomenon Little Baby Bum to launch a series of baby and infant toys based on the engaging characters and nursery rhyme favourites. Encouraging the development of fine motor skills, the Little Baby Bum Wheels on the Bus Scoot helps to build confidence as little ones take their first milestone steps. The yellow bus provides two modes of play, creating endless hours of fun for little movers. Children can sit on the seat and scoot along or grab the handle and push to walk. With a real working horn, ignition and wiper sounds, little ones will be encouraged to take the driving seat and get on the move. The Wheels on the Bus Scoot is suitable for children 12 months to three years. Little Baby Bum favourite, Buster, is brought to life with the Wiggling Wheels on the Bus toy. Designed to develop infants’ fine motor skills, little ones press the bus to be introduced to the magic of music and its wiggling movements. The Little Baby Bum Twinkle the Star Plush makes the perfect plush friend for youngsters. When Twinkle’s face is pressed, they can listen to the sound of ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ as it plays. The plush star has a soft blanket attached, providing a sensory and comforting experience. Parents can engage and develop their little one’s learning with the Little Baby Bum Singing Storybook, introducing new shapes, animals and colours. Each page has a different surprise, with fun textures and sounds encouraging children to interact and sing along.

Siso Toys UK 01620 674 778 | www.simba-dickie-group.de 44 Cats, the hit animated show from Rainbow, airs on Nick Jr and is also free to air on Pop. With prime scheduling, the viewership has been building each month and the show is consistently ranking as a top five pre-school school show. 44 Cats also premiered on Netflix in December 2019 with the first full season of 52 episodes available on the streaming platform as well as content on the brands YouTube channel. With four airing and viewing platforms in place, Siso’s launch range is comprised of collectibles, figures, playsets and plush. The autumn/winter 2020 range will expand into larger playsets and vehicles. Siso Toys will be supporting 44 Cats with an extensive marketing plan comprised of TV, YouTube, influencers, digital and PR activity. Siso will also be partnering with retailers on bespoke activity to drive sell through. Masha and The Bear has delivered yet another year of impressive sales for Siso, with the brand up 5% YOY, according to NPD. Masha has had another strong year at retail, with Siso expanding upon 2018 with more major retailers on board. Siso invested in a full, always-on marketing campaign in 2019 that saw great sell through with retailers and will be replicated for 2020. The 2020 line-up will offer new interactive Masha dolls and Bear plush as well as the return of the original best-selling bear house playset. For more information contact sales@sisotoysuk.com.

Toy World 42


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Pre-school

Character Options 01616 339 800 | www.character-online.com The development of a whole new wooden world of Peppa Pig brings with it a positive sustainability message. The high quality, durable and sustainable wooden toy range follows on from last years’ successful launch of Peppa’s Wooden Playhouse, and will now include standalone figures, classic vehicles and fun playsets with eye catching and colourful designs. The range is made from FSC wood, and features minimal packaging, made from recyclable cardboard. Staying true to the classic and recognisable Peppa styling, favourites will include the Wooden Red Car, Wooden Family Home; a fold out play set with furniture and figures, and a Wooden School Bus - a shape sorter ideal for the youngest of hands. The Peppa Pig line-up will also embrace a new shopping theme with Peppa Pig’s Superstore Playset. This detailed playset has over eight store areas to discover across two floors, which can be accessed through a working lift. Whether it’s a trip to the fruit and veg shop, a pizza restaurant or a visit to the ice-cream parlour, Peppa Pig’s Superstore will provide a fun shopping themed playtime. The playset incudes a working microphone and several sound effects. This year there will be a new HQ for Fireman Sam and his Pontypandy crew with the introduction of the Fire Rescue Centre. This two-storey, command centre carry case folds out to create a rescue centre featuring a zipline, hinged pole, opening doors and rapid response vehicle launcher. The playset will also be compatible with the full range of vehicles and figures that are available in the collection.

Geomag 07831 886 997 www.geomagworld.com This year, Geomgaworld will introduce new additions to its current Magicube range, including the new environmentally sustainable Green Range. Each new pre-school cube set contains between 8-64 cubes and will be available from June 2020. With powerful magnets, the cubes feature bright colours and are made from 100% recycled plastic. Even the transparent packaging is 80% regenerated PET. Kids can build fun and strong constructions and listen for the unique click. The Green Range offers products that, in addition to guaranteeing children a continued unique play experience, will remain with them as they grow, whilst also encouraging them to respect the Earth. New two cube pack themes allow kids to match animals with their food and with their homes. Each set has six different combinations, from a bee to its hive, squirrel to a tree and bird to its nest, to name just a few. Magicube has revolutionised the junior construction category by reinterpreting classic cube-based toys with a magnetic twist; Magicube has a patented system of magnets that allows the cubes to attach to each other on all sides. Four Peppa Pig Magicube items will be available in two, three and four cube packs. Kids can mix and match Peppa and friends with the two cube pack; build the modes of transport to have a day out with Peppa in the three cube pack and enjoy Peppa’s house and garden with the four cube pack. The line is completed by the STEM focused Maths and Word Building items. These Magicube sets contain 10 and 16 cubes with magnetic clips, showing how mathematical and alphabetical references provide fun activities that reinforce the essential basic skills young learners need. This line is all about creating a positive learning experience through play, ensuring kids gain fluency in their basic skills.

Flair 02086 430 320 | www.flairplc.co.uk The new PJ Masks Save the Sky collection launches in autumn and a new flying base for the PJ Mask’s anti-hero comes in the form of Romeo’s Flying Factory Playset. The detailed set includes both Catboy and Romeo plus lights and sounds, as well as a host of accessories including Romeo’s missile launcher. The heroes can also take to the sky with the PJ Masks Air Jet that features expanding wings, an opening cockpit plus lights and sounds. Completing the theme will be core vehicles and Save the Sky gliders, plus new figures and roleplay accessories. From the core collection, the PJ Masks 2-in-1 Mobile HQ combines a Seeker vehicle which transforms into a multi-storey HQ from which the heroes can launch their missions. At over three-feet tall, there are many features to discover including ramps, vehicle lift, control board and multiple lights and sounds, plus Catboy and Cat Car. For Spring, the PJ Masks Night Time Micros collection includes 12 micro blind bag figures to collect, plus the Trap and Escape playset assortment. The character-based playsets each come with two micro figures; a hero and a villain. Kids can also discover the multiple features within the Night Time Micros Romeo’s Lair Playset, such as a shrink chamber and launcher pad. Ryan’s Mystery Playdate is a new Nickelodeon TV series starring the child YouTuber. Each item in the collection is inspired by moments from the TV show, such as the Ryan’s Mystery Playdate Surprise Door. Kids press the button on top of the door to reveal the Mystery Playdate figures, or place the hint coins on the Mystery Door and try to guess who the playdate is. The Ryan’s World collection, which includes the Ryan’s World Super Surprise Safe, will also grow with new mystery figures, surprise boxes and more. A brand-new Mystery Surprise Vault will be ready for fans to crack, while a new season of Build-a-Friend Eggs will set their own challenge. For more information email sales@flairplc.co.uk.

Toy World 44


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©MGA 2019. MGA Entertainment UK Ltd, 50 Presley Way, Crownhill, Milton Keynes MK8 0ES.


Pre-school

Playmobil 01268 548 111 | www.playmobil.co.uk This spring sees a range of new playsets join the Playmobil 1.2.3 world. My First Train Set introduces little ones to the joy of train travel and features three detachable coaches, tracks, four Playmobil 123 figures, animals and accessories. Also part of the 1.2.3. world is the Plane with Passenger; an ideal first model plane, while for space enthusiasts, Astronaut with Rocket is perfect for young space explorers, featuring strong colours and encouraging interactive play. Children can discover real-life scenario role play with the Family Home. The set contains all the home accessories needed, creating opportunities for endless stories and fun. Spread over two levels, youngsters can move the action seamlessly between each room. The set contains four figures, including two parents, their baby and pet cat, plus furniture for each room and a real bell which rings. Children can recreate park fun at home with Children’s Playground, which comes with all the equipment needed for a day at the park, including a swing, slide and bench. The set also contains four figures. When out and about, the new My Take Along Barn set can be easily picked up and transported, allowing play to continue anywhere. The farm contains a female rider, horse and cat figures, in addition to a jump for riding lessons and a range of farm equipment essentials. The Car with Horse Trailer also joins the range. The Fisherman with Boat set contains all the accessories needed for a fishing trip, including a floating boat, strainer and barrel. Sailor, whale and fish figures are also provided. Joining the Playmobil 1.2.3 Zoo range is the Zoo Vehicle with Rhinoceros, which contains an animal keeper and rhinoceros figures, in addition to the vehicle, trailer and medical kit. The Construction Crane is perfect for budding builders and includes a crane, lifting pallet, building blocks and barriers, as well as a construction worker figure to lead the role play. Shovel Excavator and Dump Truck sets are also available. The Garbage Truck with Garage sorting toy is an ideal early introduction to a range of essential problem-solving skills. Spring also heralds the launch of several brand-new characters to join the Playmobil 1.2.3 world of role play. These include the Princess with Unicorn and Knight with Ghost.

Funrise 01908 555 640 | www.funrise.com Launching later this year and ensuring continual innovation for the Cat range is the Junior Crew which will bring construction vehicle play to the littlest of fans. The fun characterised vehicle range offers a choice of Construction Pals and Buddies plus Lil Movers; each with its own features to discover. For projects of a grander scale and the addition of educational play, Fix It Philip is a construction truck that opens out into a lights and sounds tool bench, complete with screws, tools and accessories which all have a specific purpose. Also perfect for pre-schoolers is Herodrive - an innovative collection of vehicles that combines kids' favourite entertainment characters with a host of exciting play features. The Herodrive Marvel Mod Squad is an assortment of three vehicles - SpiderMan, Iron Man and the Hulk – which come apart and can be reconnected within the range to create mix and match superhero wheels. Each set comes with three character pieces that form a full vehicle, plus an additional fourth bonus piece to start customising right away. By collecting all three vehicles, pre-schoolers will be able to complete a fourth Captain America car to add to their Mod Squad collection. For more information about Funrise’s pre-school collections, email salesuk@ funrise.com.

Trends UK 01295 768 078 | www.trendsuk.co.uk Trends UK is expanding its ELA range with market-leading pre-school licences. The new Hey Duggee Flip & Learn Phone and Smart Tablet, which are both available now, invite young learners to develop skills with the lovable Duggee and The Squirrels. For autumn, Paw Patrol ELAs will launch with a Paw Patrol Smart Phone, Ryder’s Alphabet Pad and Count with Marshall, featuring the fearless pups from the popular series. A unique new ELA concept will join the Peppa Pig range. Following the success of Count With Peppa, the new Peppa’s Phonic Alphabet introduces interactive learning about letters, spelling early words phonetically, plus numbers and colours. A new Mr Tumble Flip Up Phone is also joining the line-up. The recently launched pre-school TV series The Adventures of Paddington will introduce the lovable bear to a new generation, and Trends is introducing a range of ELAs starting with a fun paw-shaped Paddington Paw Pad in late autumn, with further items to follow.

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Pre-school

Rainbow Designs 01329 227 300 | www.rainbowdesigns.co.uk This autumn Rainbow Designs will be launching a series of new wooden toys across two of its anniversary brands. The classic tale Guess How Much I Love You celebrates its 25th Anniversary in 2020, and to celebrate Rainbow Designs will be adding a number of new wooden toy formats to the popular collection. Alongside a new Wooden Shape Peg Puzzle and a Guess How Much I Love You Box of Blocks, featuring a selection of shaped wooden blocks in a variety of pastel colours, there will be a new Wooden Pull Along which features both Large Nutbrown Hare and Little Nutbrown Hare. There will also be a new Balancing Toy with wooden pieces including Little Nutbrown Hare, a heart, clouds and stars, to balance on a wooden moon with an illustration of Large Nutbrown Hare and the wording: ‘I Love You to the Moon and Back.’ Spot the Dog is also celebrating a major milestone this year as he turns 40. New wooden toys joining Rainbow’s Fun with Spot range include a Box of Wooden Blocks, a Wooden Pull along and a Wooden Shape Peg Puzzle. There will also be a Wooden Balancing Toy and Spot Bowling Set, both featuring Spot’s friends, Tom the Alligator, Steve the Monkey and Helen the Hippo, as well as other wooden pieces including a butterfly, bird, colourful balls and a sun with cloud. Also launching this year is the distribution of a new pre-school toy range for the highly anticipated new Paddington TV series: The Adventures of Paddington. The toy range is designed for a new generation of fans, who will discover Paddington for the first time. The series is aimed at pre-schoolers and launched on Nickelodeon in the spring. The Adventures of Paddington Toy Range will launch in Autumn 2020. As well as the ever-popular pre-school ranges including Elmer, The Very Hungry Caterpillar and That’s Not My…, Rainbow’s Peter Rabbit TV range also continues to go from strength to strength with Talking Peter Rabbit and Lily Bobtail toys and plush.

DKL-Beysal 01604 678 780 | www.dkl.co.uk Developed with child development and learning in mind, PlusPlus enhances fine motor skills through active play as kids use their imagination to create whatever their heart desires. Each set comes with an ideas leaflet for children to follow. Playing with Plus-Plus can also help little ones with understanding and recognising colours, as well as physical development; parents can encourage their child to sort the colours while using their creativity during play. The new picture puzzle sets encourage problem solving and include 60 pieces and seven puzzle flash cards. Every puzzle has two sides, a challenge and a solution. Hama Beads helps develop a child’s creativity while playing and for younger children, the Hama Maxi range offers bigger beads for smaller hands, and includes several new starter sets.

Hasbro 0208 569 1234 | www.hasbro.co.uk Hasbro’s Play-Doh Cash Register is built for hours of fun, letting kids role play with the built-in toy scanner that beeps, as well as the handheld barcode stamper and cash drawer that opens with the push of a button and makes a satisfying cha-ching sound. Kids can use the five play food cutters and moulds to create their own Play-Doh foods like make-believe milk and veggies. They can pack it all in the basket and shopping bag for the ultimate grocery pretend play experience. The wallet moulds coins and cash to put in the cash drawer, and there's also a credit card mould. The grocery store playset is suitable for kids aged three years and up, and can also help pre-schoolers practise counting in the classroom. The Play-Doh Cash Register even offers a receipt - little ones can squeeze one out of the Play-Doh receipt printer. New from the Play-Doh Kitchen Creations range is the Play-Doh Kitchen Creations Candy Delight Playset. This Play-Doh Candy factory allows kids to create their own gummy bears, pretend candy bars and play candy cups. They can fill the top with PlayDoh compound, then turn the crank on the candy machine to see the colourful Play-Doh candies pour out. Then they can scoop the creations into the pretend candy buckets to show them off to friends. Five cans of non-toxic Play-Doh compound work like modelling clay to crank up the creativity. The playset makes an ideal arts and crafts activity or gift for kids aged three years and above.

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© 2020 Alpha All rights reserved.


Pre-school

Beverly Hills Teddy Bear +1 800-996-2327 | www.bhteddybear.com Beverly Hills Teddy Bear is based in California, and has been dedicated to creating premium plush for over 25 years. BHTB is best known for its Squeezamals line; a sensory plush created with bright colours and personalities. Most recently, BHTB has launched its newest pre-school line, Tiny Tukkins. Tiny Tukkins is a collectible line of lovable plush animals with a nap time or bedtime theme. Each character includes a dress-up component and fun accessories, with reusable packaging that doubles as the character’s environment and provides a backdrop that inspires imaginative play. There is an assortment of families and themes, each with a unique set of accessories included. With Tiny Tukkins, kids can teach lessons in pre-school, have adventures in the playroom and tuck their Tukkin into bed at night with the Tiny Tukkins Playsets. This offers preschoolers a play pattern that will develop their imagination and creative thinking, as well as caring for those around them. With each character set, children will have the opportunity to experience learning through nurturing and pretend family play. Additionally, Tiny Tukkins fans can follow their favourite characters and more family adventures with Tiny Tukkins’ webisodes on YouTube and Amazon.

Vivid 01483 449 944 | www.vividtoysandgames.co.uk True to Crayola’s mess free ethos, 2020 sees the launch of an innovative solution to glitter play. With a unique compound, Glitter Dots delivers all the sparkle with less of the mess. Provided in a unique packaging format, each dot has sensory appeal and is sealed to prevent drying out; kids simply squish to create. The new range features Creation Packs to make sparkly charms, keyrings and signs, as well as larger Sparkle Stations for the ultimate glitter creations. Glitter Dots launched in January and has TV and digital support planned throughout the season. After a successful 2019, the Washimals line will be expanded with the addition of new playsets, including the Washimals Pets Mobile Truck with a real working vehicle, and a Peculiar Pets foldable Palace Playset that features new Unicorn and Yeti pets.

Hornby 01843 233 500 | www.hornby.com Corgi has launched a new entry level vehicle range called Chunkies. This high quality, sturdy range has been designed to fit toddlers’ hands and is suitable for 3-6 year olds. The range includes vehicles in a multitude of different categories including farm, emergency, construction, military and many others. Every toy in the collection has durable, freerolling wheels which are suitable for indoor and outdoor play and the majority of product in the range also has moving parts. The range includes items such as a tipper truck, an open top double decker bus and an off-road safari truck. The entirety of the published range became available in January. Hamley’s is seeing particular success with the double decker bus, and the range is also making an appearance in a wide variety of other independent and online retailers including the National Motor Museum, Beulieu, where a permanent play-table will be in operation throughout the year. With an ideal impulse price point of £6.99 RRP, the consumer acquires a great deal of product for their money. Each product is made of a mixture of die-cast metal as well as durable plastic. Corgi has also provided a selection of store-activation offers for retailers, with free FSDUs available, as well as Chunkies branded play tables that are also ideal for visitor attraction play areas or cafes. Having had a presence at all the major trade shows in the UK, USA and Nuremberg at the beginning of the year, Chunkies will be appearing at a vast array of consumer events throughout 2020 to ensure customer awareness continues to grow. This includes 3Foot People Festival, Gloworm Festival, a variety of Car Shows, Car Fest North and South, Pub in the Park, Cosford Air Show and the Royal International Air Tattoo. Chunkies support will also be going international with a visit to the International Mini Meet in Germany.

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Just like the REAL THING! Little Helpers love replica toys and with these ‘big name’ Casdon ones, they can have tons of role play fun in lots of different ways!

Casdon Ltd., Cornford Road, Blackpool, Lancs FY4 4QW Tel: +44 (0)1253 766411 Fax: +44 (0)1253 691486 Email: roger@casdon.com www.casdon.com

Real life fun & play!


Pre-school

Halilit 01254 872 454 | www.halilit.co.uk

Tobar 01603 397 105 | www.tobar.co.uk Tobar introduces a new collection of wooden toys to its portfolio, with traditional push puppets, squeaky cars, pullback and go unicorn and dragon, squeaky rolypolys, noisy farm animals, puzzle blocks and a rainmaker. New products come in primary colours and with a scandi style. The Animigos animated plush range now covers a wide assortment of domestic animals and last year moved into wildlife with the World of Nature range. This year, Tobar is adding a limited-edition Magical Rainbow Bunny which will be available in time for Easter. Other additions include mischievous moggy, a sheepdog, lion, giraffe and lamb. Tobar has a classic pre-school range of games and puzzles, including dominoes and shape sorters. The Wooden Learning Clock teaches toddlers all they need to know about time. Wooden robot building blocks and stack and play Safari animals add a new dimension, along with the wooden play and sound Fire Engine, Ambulance and Police Car – all new for this year. The company also has a brightly coloured pull along Tractor complete with a horse, a cow and a pig. This is joined by a pull along Unicorn, which ticks all the boxes for current meets classic. Wooden playsets packed full of pieces include a Farm, Noah’s Ark and Pirate Ship. The contemporary design and bright colours attract the eye and the packaging has been designed to maximise shelf space and eye appeal. The versatility of the wooden range is also demonstrated in the Wooden Car Transporter, complete with colourful chunky wooden cars. The Wooden Stack and Sounds Train is an evergreen classic. This all-purpose product comes in try-me packaging; pressing down on the funnel causes the train to play one of three sounds. The carriages of the train double up as shape sorters and stackers, and the train can be used as a push along toy too - teaching toddlers coordination and colour whilst being fun to play with.

Halilit offers a wide selection of toys that provide developmental benefits for youngsters as well robustness, longevity and value for money. With a new packaging design to bolster shelf appeal, Halilit’s musical instruments have a high-quality and tuneful accuracy which makes them the ideal instruments for specialist baby and pre-school music groups, building consumer recognition and trust for the brand. The brightly coloured music range features options for both impulse purchasers and gifting, with sets such as the Toddler Music Orchestra which combines some of Halilit’s best-sellers and Baby’s 1st Birthday Band - the perfect introduction to music-making. The Baby Xylophone has accurately tuned note bars and beautiful sound, with a safe design ensuring the bars are inaccessible for little fingers. In line with the increasing demand for eco-friendly and sustainable products, Halilit now offers the Wonder Wheels range of chunky children’s vehicles which are suitable for tots from just 12 months. Featuring a Camper Van, Ferry Boat, Car Transporter, Digger and more, this range of durable vehicles is made from fully recyclable plastic, with packaging made from recycled paper and soy ink. Full of child-appeal, the vibrant designs and rounded edges ensure the vehicles are safe and durable. New for 2020, the range of wooden toys from Sensory specialists Edushape has been extended to include innovative Magna Blocks. These painted wooden blocks include clever, safely hidden magnets that make stacking easier for little ones. Magna Blocks are available as Little Red Riding Hood or a Pirate & Sailor scene and make perfect gifts. Other new additions to the Edushape range include the Pull Along Puppy, designed to aid colour and number recognition with numbered blocks and coloured rings, and the Safari Train, which will enhance sorting and stacking skills with vibrant blocks and rolling animals. Both Halilit Music and Edushape sensory toys have attractive CDUs and floor stands available for display and Halilit will support retailers with display samples on certain sensory items.

Bandai 020 8324 6160 | www.bandai.co.uk The Timber Tots pre-school range captures enduring values that appeal to younger children – nature, family and friends. Bringing a host of outdoor scenarios and play themes through animal families and their woodland surroundings, each product line and family has a back-story attached to the Timber Tots world. The comprehensive range consists of collectible animal figures and interactive vehicles and playsets. Each set and vehicle pops up to reveal secret rooms or accessories, and the playsets include carry handles and storage for on-the-go play. The hero SKU is the classic Magic Tree playset which was first launched in the 1970s. The Tree includes two figures and 10 accessories, including a car. Tiny Tukkins are collectible plush animal characters and families that promote traditional play patterns of nurture, learning and collectability. Encouraging imaginative play, the packaging opens to become playsets, which can then be added to, to create a Tiny Tukkins world. Mini blind packaged play cribs include 12 animal babies to collect. Interactive, energy-burning game Froggy Party focuses on getting children up and enjoying physical activities. With over 50 activities to guide younger children through 15 minutes of fun, everything needed to play the game is included and Froggy acts as games master, calling out instructions for children to follow.

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Creating firm foundations through play Over 250 lines designed for under 5’s

Exclusive to A.B.Gee

■ Tel: 01773 570444 ■ Email: sales@abgee.co.uk ■ www.abgee.co.uk


Pre-school

Clementoni 020 3206 1397 | www.clementoni.com

Moose Toys 01637 882 200 | www.moosetoys.com

The Baby Clementoni Play for Future product range is aimed at babies from 10 months and uses 100% recycled plastic and is 100% paint free. The range consists of six products, all which help baby with their motor skills and hand-eye coordination development. The range features a Shape Sorter, Stacking Rings, Ball Drop Castle, Baby Garden, Fun Vehicles and a Workbench. With many parents conveying an ecofriendly attitude to their children, toys which protect nature and are made with recycled or natural materials are being sought. Clementoni wants to ensure it has an active role in encouraging values for the new generation, in particular finding ways to protect the planet, and believes that playing is a great way for children to learn the importance of respecting nature and the environment. The Play for Future range of products follows this philosophy, to help build a better future. Launching for autumn/winter 2020 and suitable for ages 12 months and above are two vintage style items – a Scooter Walker and a Ride-On, both made with 100% recycled plastic. For further information please contact Shahbaz. khan@clementoni.com.

Moose Toys has new additions to the popular pre-school Kindi Kids and plush Scruff-a-Luvs ranges. The Kindi Kids dolls make the perfect companion for kids as they start their pre-school journey. To coincide with season two of the Kindi Kids webisode series, new Rainbow Kate launched in January and Summer Peaches is set to join the collectionlater this season. With rainbow coloured hair and big glittery eyes, Rainbow Kate comes with interactive accessories and changeable clothes. Summer Peaches also comes with two accessories including a Peach Smoothie and Peaches 'n' Cream Popsicle. Alongside the dolls, there are also three new Kindi Fun playsets for children and their Kindi Kids to enjoy. The playsets include the Delivery Scooter, the Backpack and the Lunchbox with a stackable sandwich and magic spoon. Since the launch in Summer 2019, the Kindi Kids YouTube channel has garnered more than 40m views, bringing the Kindi Kids world of imagination and discovery to life. Scruff-a-Luvs is inspired by heart-warming social videos of homeless, scruffy pets being adopted and cared for. The plush aims to encourage children to ‘Rescue and Reveal’ them, through loving and nurturing play. This Spring three new animal ranges will be launched. The limited-edition Spring Babies launched in March and features a chick, a bunny and a lamb. Kids reveal their character by removing their dummy, then rubbing and combing their fur. The Scruff-a-Luvs Friends series features a dog, cat and a brand-new species of pony. Kids wash, dry and brush the rainbow ombre fur to reveal the animal, which also comes with a hair clip accessory as well as an adoption certificate. The limited-edition Scruff-a-Luvs Jungle animal comes wrapped in vine leaves. Kids untangle the leaves to reveal whether they have rescued a monkey, lion or parrot. Each character also comes with its own adoption certificate and a hairclip to help style their fluffy fur. Scruff-a-Luvs partners with the RSPCA to help real rescue animals find their ‘furever’ homes and, since launch, has raised £110,000 for the charity.

Eolo Toys 07772 482 255 | www.eolo.com This autumn Eolo Toys introduces Sprint, the fastest pup in town. The company has developed a super stable pull along toy that will follow kids anywhere. The puppy is activated through his leash button and has three different, funny sounds. The air pump inflates his pop-up ears and wagging tail bringing the puppy alive. There are two furry friends available to collect. The new toy range will be supported with different touch points in the marketing mix and is suitable for kids 18 months and up. For business inquiries, customers can place orders by contacting: uksales@eolohk. com (UK), usasales@eolohk.com (US and Canada) and sales@eolohk.com for all other territories.

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Pre-school

Amscan International 01908 288 500 | www.amscan.co.uk Amscan International has recently welcomed a new collection of Moon and Me partyware, balloons and costumes to its licensed pre-school offering. Inspired by well-loved tales of toys that come to life when nobody is looking, Moon and Me is the story of friendship between two characters from completely different worlds. The new party ensemble features main characters Pepi Nana, Moon Baby, Mr Onion and co. within the design, combined with a colour palette of blue, light grey and pink. The party and balloons collection features nine matching items from invitations, to tableware and pennant banners, as well as foil and latex balloons to complete the setting. Little ones can also dress up as Pepi Nana and Moon Baby with Amscan’s new Moon and Me costumes. Both styles are available in sizes 2-3 years and 3-5 years. The full range is in stock and available to order now. Email sales@amscan-uk.co.uk for more information.

Vtech 01235 546 810 | www.vtech.co.uk From Vtech, Hope is a beautiful Rainbow Husky that will be a child’s best friend. With lots to say, Hope’s barks can be translated through her magic stethoscope, which kids just hold to her chest so they can hear and understand what it is she wants or needs. Hope talks, moves and makes different sounds to signal if she is hungry, has a cold or fever, has hurt her leg or feels itchy. Kids can use the included accessories including a syringe, thermometer, bone treat and recovery collar, along with the seven buttons and sensors, to make sure she gets what she needs. The product Introduces health tips, medical tools and encourages nurturing play in young children.

Ravensburger 01869 363 830 | www.ravensburger.com Ravensburger targets continued growth for the Brio brand this year with a wealth of innovative new products and continued heavyweight marketing support. Following the launch of Smart Tech additions to the Brio World collection, the brand is set to break new ground in the category with the autumn launch of Smart Tech Sound. Adding a further layer of interactivity and customisation, children can record their own voice into the new Smart Tech Sound Engine with the push of a button. Then, as the engine drives under the ‘play sound’ tunnel, they will hear their own unique sound play back. For even more customisation, the Smart Tech Sound Engine can be connected to the Smart Tech Sound app. Using the app, children can choose a new sound for a specific action tunnel or destination, or even record their own sounds and upload them to any of the Smart Tech Sound accessories. A range of Smart Tech Sound sets will be available and compatible with others sets in the Brio World collection. The marriage of technology and tradition is also demonstrated in another autumn launch - the Code & Go Bumblebee. Reflecting the style of iconic Brio pull-along toys, the cute bumblebee can be programmed by pre-schoolers, using the input buttons on its back. After programming a sequence of moves using the buttons, children can see the bumblebee come to life and perform their instructed sequence in movement, lights and sounds. Adding to Brio’s popular pull-along collection, the Pull Along Firefly, designed for children aged 12 months and up, features blinking lights, buzzing sounds and wobbly antenna movements as children pull it along. A year-round marketing campaign is in place for Brio, while extensive merchandising materials are available to ensure stand-out at retail.

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Pre-school

Toynamics 0116 478 5230 | www.toynamics.co.uk New for 2020, Hape has released a selection of food and kitchen lines. The Fun Fan Fryer combines traditional wood and modern technology, and works with an inbuilt fan which makes the food turn in the pan like it's bubbling, sizzling or frying, but with no heat. It includes six recipes on three felt discs, a metal spatula and a set of salt and pepper shakers which click when the tops are turned. For the 18 months age range, Hape has unveiled a range of soft food baskets. The range features a basket for vegetables, one for fruit and one for bread. The vegetable basket comes with a knife with a chunky, wooden handle which makes it easy to hold. Children can pop peas from the pod, peel the cabbage leaves and cut the carrot and eggplant in half. The fruit basket comes with a selection of fruit, including a banana and orange that can both be peeled. New to the Hape 18 months plus range is the Toddler Kitchen Set, which features a pot, frying pan, spoon and spatula to play at cooking with. The double wooden stove features clicking knobs and storage underneath to keep the pots and pans. Toynamics UK & Ireland is offering full marketing to support retailers both online and in-store including full in-store displays, one of which features a gondola with a kitchen for children to play with to help promote the new kitchen lines. Email sales@toynamics.co.uk for more information.

Casdon 01253 608 428 | www.casdon.com With decades of experience, Casdon combines pre-school play with household names to bring perfect role-play toys and accessories to youngsters. The range is conveniently sectioned into Little Helper and Little Cook items. The Little Helper collection is home of the Dyson replica vacuums. The Dyson Cordfree 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 just like the real thing. The spinning beads will mesmerise children and will be an instantly recognisable favourite at home. Designed with the same bright colours as the real-life vacuum, kids can pretend to clean the house just like mum and dad as well as developing essential life skills. Further classics from the range include the Hetty and Henry Household Cleaning Sets. Henry’s set in striking red and Hetty’s in pale pink both feature a dustpan and brush, mop, sweeping brush and more to help with cleaning tasks around the house. The Little Cooks collection is another perfect way for kids to play pretend. 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 to help with serving. Little cooks can also create a make-believe breakfast with the various Morphy Richards sets. For summertime, kids can help mum and dad in the garden with the Flymo Lawn Mower; another exciting replica from Casdon Toys. The Flymo features a foldable handle for easy storage and a mechanical click when the mower is on the move. It also features the iconic orange base. Each collection comes with a heritage and quality that parents trust. Casdon will be increasing its marketing support for retailers with a strategic year-round online campaign to further consumer awareness of all the company’s much-loved toys. For more information call 01253 608428 or email roger@ casdon.co.uk

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Posh Paws 01268 567 317 | www.poshpawsinternational.co.uk Posh Paws has plush toys for pre-schoolers to suit every occasion, from bouncing fun with Sunny Bunnies to high seas adventures with Pirata and Capitano. From the YouTube sensation, and now on TV, Posh Paws’ characters from the Sunny Bunnies collection spread fun and laughter wherever they go. The collection of soft and fluffy toys includes a variety of different sizes and features all five fluffy Sunny Bunnies, Turbo, Big Boo, Shiny, Iris and Hopper, either as small pocket money priced, 10cm tall slammers, that when thrown give out their infectious laugh; medium sized plush which giggle and wiggle; and large bunnies which giggle and hop. Posh Paws is also the official plush partner for Pirata and Capitano, the animated pre-school TV series currently airing on Channel 5’s Milkshake and Nick Jr., and includes a collection of beautifully designed character plush in a range of sizes.


Pre-school

Golden Bear 01952 608 308 | www.goldenbeartoys.com Series three of the Bafta award-winning CBeebies show Hey Duggee launched in 2019 and new episodes continue throughout 2020/21. To coincide with the new releases, Golden Bear is launching the new hero playset: Duggee’s Adventure Bus, which launches at retail in autumn/winter 2020. The 25cm long Duggee shaped bus will take the squirrels on lots of adventures just like in the CBeebies show. Duggee’s ears flap up and down as he’s pulled along, bringing Duggee to life. His hat also has a surprise in store; when kids press it down, a trap door slide will transport their squirrel figurine into the bus ready for the next adventure. Two squirrel figurines and a host of of accessories are included with the pull along vehicle. The playset is ideal for role play, with a picnic set complete with basket, food, blanket and radio. The seats can be placed inside or on top of the bus or alongside the picnic set and there is also a seesaw, and swing that clips onto the slide of the RV.

Spin Master 01628 535 000 | www.spinmastertoys.co.uk

8th Wonder 01942 829 811 | www.8thwonder.co.uk 8th Wonder has a vast range of wooden licensed toys for pre-schoolers. Must-have properties in this category include Hey Duggee, Bing and In The Night Garden, while new licences Paddington and Paw Patrol are set to strengthen the company’s wooden portfolio for 2020. Innovation in the wooden licensed product collection comes from the Light and Sound vehicles, available across Hey Duggee, Bing and In The Night Garden. In plush, the company is launching a range of licensed plush character chairs. For more information about 8th Wonder’s range, email sales@8thwonder.co.uk.

This year, Paw Patrol has brand new content and toy innovation to delight fans. Launching this month, in parallel with new content for the Nick Jr pre-school TV show from Spin Master Entertainment, is the Charged Up range. Mighty Chase’s Charged Up Transforming Vehicle has translucent light up details, sound effects, a projectile launcher, rescue net, a Charged Up Chase collectible figure and can drive in vehicle or hover mode. Kids press the button on top to see the transformation, as the vehicle lifts up, the wheels retract, and caster wheels are revealed before lights and sounds are activated and the projectile launcher pops up from behind the driver’s seat. In hover mode, the caster wheels make it easy to drift in any direction. With the Mighty Pups Charged Up Hero Pups, Chase trades his police uniform for a Charged Up version with translucent details and a mask, which can be lit up by pressing the button on his backpack. Kids can collect the set of six Charged Up Pups and use their imaginations to create endless rescue adventures. The Mighty Pups can also be collected as Charged Up 1.5” Mini Rescue Figures, and a Plush collection of Core and Mighty Pups is also available. Mighty Skye’s Charged Up Deluxe Vehicle, with an included Skye figure, is equipped with lights and sounds and real working caster wheels that make it possible to drift 360 degrees in any direction. There are six Charged Up Deluxe vehicles to collect. Spin Master’s Gund brand offers the Baby Toothpick collection, inspired by one of its personality bears, Toothpick. The Baby Toothpick 12” Fox is made from premium soft baby plush in light orange and cream with embroidered accents. The Baby Toothpick collection is machine washable and available in Llama, Koala, Alligator, Owl and Panda designs. Also from Gund is Flora the Bunny with two play modes. Kids press the left foot to play an interactive game of peek-a-boo, and the right to hear a song. Luvabella Newborn, an interactive new-born baby doll with realistic expressions, has a moving mouth, heartbeat and newborn sounds. She is equipped with a bottle and soother. Spin Master will support these new lines with TV advertising, digital, PR and social campaigns.

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ARRIVING THIS AUTUMN!

THE BEAUTIFUL NEW WOODEN TOY COLLECTION! ©S

McB

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Pre-school

Tomy 01271 336 155 | www.tomy.com Tomy Toomies, the pre-school and bath toy brand, has recently expanded its Hide and Squeak Eggs range with the addition of four new products. Suitable from age six months, the Hide and Squeak Egg & Spoon Set is designed to stimulate the senses with bright, bold colours and squeaky sounds. As children’s motor skills develop, little ones will enjoy the challenge of matching the egg colours and shape sorting each egg onto the end of its spoon. Families can also enjoy an egg and spoon race together once the egg has been matched to its spoon. Just like with the classic toy, the eggs in the Hide and Squeak Egg Stackers come apart to reveal a chick inside, to keep children as young as six months entertained. Little hands will enjoy reassembling the shells, exploring the contrasting faces and discovering their egg cup bases. As toddlers grow towards their next play milestone, they will be able to match the colours to pair up complete eggs, and shape sort them on their matching egg cup base. As play skills continue to grow, they can practice counting from one to six, using the numbers printed on the egg cups, and enjoy stacking the eggs one above the other to create a giant tower. The Hide & Squeak Nesting Eggs features a daddy, mummy, brother, sister and baby egg, each with a distinct happy face. Little ones nest the bases then match and stack the tops in turn to form one finished egg with all the others hidden inside, or they can take them all apart and match all the pieces to make five eggs. ideal for bath time play, the shells can be used as pouring cups that let water run through different patterned holes. Hide and Squeak Bright Chicks features shades of pink, purple, green, yellow, teal and orange. Moving through key play milestones, children can match the shells by the colour of the faces or the colour of their bases. Each egg has its designated place in the box, with a base that fits a different shape. There are round pegs, square holes, triangles and more. Once all eggs are sorted into the colourful carton, they can be stored away or taken on the go.

Learning Resources 01553 819 386 | www.learningresources.co.uk Growing consumer demand for pre-school educational toys continues to be a key focus for Learning Resources. The company has expanded its selection of fine motor skills toys with several new products launching this year, and continues to innovate in the early numeracy, literacy, science, coding and outdoor play categories. For the toddler age group, Learning Resources offers a range of toys with specific emphasis on motor skills and sensory development. Toys such as Steggy the Fine Motor Dino are designed to offer multiple benefits and appeal to consumers through bright colours and packaging with features, attributes and benefits clearly highlighted. In the pre-school age group, coding and outdoor play remain strong performers. The Coding Critters range was developed to teach young children coding basics through screen-free play. The range launched in late 2019, and in the first quarter of 2020 Learning Resources added five additional toys to the range, with more set to launch later in the year. GeoSafari Jr. is an outdoor exploratory range created to inspire children to learn about nature through hands-on play. The toys are developed to be real working science tools, made especially for young children, and the brand appeals to consumers by evoking the element of adventure in packaging and marketing support. Both the Coding Critters and Geosafari Jr ranges are core to the company’s 2020 marketing strategy and are supported with an always-on campaign including retail merchandising support, digital advertising, public relations, social media and influencer campaigns, and digital customer experience initiatives.

Edx Education 02070 975 173 | www.edxeducation.com Edx Education FunPlay kits are an engaging way for pre-school children to play, learn and create. The kits spark children’s imagination whilst exploring key areas for STEM-based learning and beyond. The FunPlay range is designed for children aged 18 months to six years and encapsulates a wide variety of activities. Encouraging learning through play with the interactive activity cards and the Fun2 Messy Tray, children can play in a group or independently. The Edx Education Rainbow Pebbles kit allows children to touch and feel the pebbles in beautiful earth colours, going on to create their own patterns or follow the activity cards provided. With the FunPlay Construction cubes, children are only limited by their imaginations. The cubes can be used for creating animals, transport or buildings, often incorporating basic number concepts, comparing, measurement, sequencing, patterning and counting. The FunPlay Attribute Beads are designed to develop children’s fine motor skills as they learn about size, shape, patterns and colour variation. This set of beads provides endless possibilities for learning important skills whilst laying the foundations for basic maths concepts. The FunPlay kits encourage children’s foundation skills in the early years such as speech and language, motor skills, cognitive, social and emotional development, and curiosity. Play patterns cover many types of valuable play, from quiet and creative to social and active. Marketing campaigns using digital media strategies will be used throughout the year to support the entire FunPlay kits range.

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Pre-school

Alpha Animation 01293 804 599 | www.alphatoysuk.com Alpha Group’s flagship global animation property and pre-school brand Super Wings has recently launched season four of the TV Series. The master toy range will be extended for autumn/winter 2020 with additional lines being introduced to support the new Super Charge theme. The Super Wings brand values of teamwork, friendship and problem-solving remain core to the show and are captured in key lines and playsets, which combine proven product formats with competitive key price points and interactivity. With a new entry price point of £3.99 RRP, kids can collect all their favourite characters from the TV Series with the Transform a Bots and Mission Team Vehicles. The range of Transforming Vehicles has also been enhanced to include new characters from the show along with Super-Charged versions of the core favourites, Jett, Astra, Dizzy and Paul. These five-inch figures transform from plane to robot in 10 simple steps. With over 20 to collect, the figures can be purchased individually or in new refreshed multipacks. Also new for autumn/winter is the Air Base HQ, an interactive playset featured heavily throughout season four. The range is supported by year-round TV investment, digital activity, influencers and PR. The property also boasts a licensing programme, including a stand-alone magazine, books, apparel, accessories and party ranges for Super Wings fans. New launch, UZoom Racers, is a hands-on vehicle line featuring an all-new ‘Rev it Up’ action. Pre-schoolers can start up the engine with the touch sensor technology, before revving the vehicles to hear the engine get ready for action. The range is suitable for children aged two plus and features four bright designs including a Police Racer, Sports Racer, Hot Rod Racer and Off-Road Racer. Measuring around 14-15cm wide and 9cm high, the new racers are the perfect impulse purchase or pick up birthday gift. The packaging offers a ‘try-me’ feature demonstrating the engine turn on and wheels spin, for added shelf appeal. Alpha Group UK has further pre-school properties in the pipeline for 2021 with master toy launches on Chuggington and Rev n Roll which are both supported with new animated content.

Schleich 01279 870 000 | www.schleich-s.com/en Pre-schoolers can discover the world around them with the Farm World and Wild Life collections from Schleich. With a Golden Lion to celebrate this year’s 85th anniversary and #Schleicharoundtheworld being a core global message, the Wild Life collection is high on the agenda. Animal Rescue is the main theme, both on land and in the skies. An icon featuring a globe and an aircraft has been specially developed and appears on all the packaging and advertising materials. At the heart of all the action is the Large Animal Rescue Truck complete with a rotating crane, flexible cable winch, ranger and animals, as well as the Animal Rescue Helicopter with movable rotor blades, cable winch and pilot ranger. Schleich is adding vets and pets to its Farm World collection. The Veterinarian Practice with Pets set is equipped with everything the vet needs to take care of animals. The Veterinarian Visit at the Farm set comes complete with the vet, Labrador retriever and kitten. The vet’s case contains all the instruments needed to examine and treat the animals and the truck’s fold-out loading ramp provides plenty of space for animal transportation. All Schleich’s collections are supported by robust year-round marketing, while innovative retailer packages are available to ensure the range is the focal point of any store. For more information email Schleich@Schleich-s.co.uk

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Coronavirus News Message to BTHA members from chairman Andrew Laughton: Covid19 and BTHA operations “The COVID-19 virus is having an increasing impact on our daily lives, whether personal or business. The association is conscious of the huge disruption and concern being faced by you our members and felt it was right to take stock and set out what your association’s operations are doing and likely to do as we move to a new phase of the contagion in this difficult and unprecedented period. As your association, our key priority is to provide a high level of service whilst assuring a safe environment for our staff. This remains the case and we are adapting to continue to deliver our services to you. Our members’ priorities are the same as ours in terms of client servicing and safety and care for staff . We will follow government authorities’ requests and policy directives as they appear. We are aware that members are checking official websites such as the NHS website and media sources which are expected to include direct government communications with the UK public. You will be aware that we have sent out information from a variety of sources through our weekly member newsflash service to members and will continue to do so. You can view a summary of these communications on our website. Whilst we have robust plans in place to ensure that we remain fully operational, it is possible that there may be some elements of our service that might look slightly different during this period and I would ask for your acceptance of that. Business continuity will continue even if, as is likely, we will need fully to work from home. We are partially doing this at present but are responding to normal email correspondence. If and when we have to leave the London office for a period, we will continue in this vein – and would ask that email is used for correspondence rather than post. Staff would be happy to arrange to talk by telephone of course – in many cases your own normal telephone contact may become a mobile, so please do let us know by email the best number to reach you on and we will respond in kind. Your usual contacts remain the same, but we would suggest that in case of difficulties, emails are copied to Roland Earl (roland@btha.co.uk) and Tracey Butcher (tracey@btha.co.uk) as well at this time to ensure continuity, including payments. Any invoices can be handled if sent by email rather than post and we have a system to authorise payments remotely, using cheques at this time . We would also like to reassure you that the safety of our staff and members is paramount. Presently we have restricted staff travel to business-critical trips only and have cut out all international travel. Any staff member who has personally been to a high-risk country, or who has been in contact with a person who has, would have been required to self-isolate for a period of 14 days. This has not been the case so far and is not envisaged to be the case. We are not currently booking meetings for the next month from members at our office to protect members. All existing member bookings have been kept but in line with common sense, we are not as open as usual. We have had to postpone some important events until the situation stabilises and makes them viable again for your safety and comfort. Please accept our apologies for any disappointment this may have caused. Being a London-based office, we are acutely aware of the risks posed by crowded public transport in the capital and getting to and from London. We hope that this will provide you with re-assurance at this point that the team at BTHA both at HQ and through our other key sources of expertise and action remains operational to the fullest extent possible. To make things easier, please contact Tracey and Roland with any general queries in the first instance and these can be passed on to the relevant person within the team in areas such as safety and sustainability guidance, public affairs work, Make Time 2 Play, the Toy Fair and events (including webinars) and our Toy Trust charity, for instance. The BTHA is proud to serve its members and our sector. However unpleasant and difficult the coming days prove to be for us all, together we will stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity - as we face and meet the challenges ahead. There will be more actions likely to follow and communicate about but we wanted to share this operational information without delay. We would like to wish you and all of your families well as always.”

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The Entertainer halts character visits and instore demos Recognising the importance of hygiene and safety during the Coronavirus outbreak, the company has ceased product demonstrations in store, and has postponed promotional events for the foreseeable future. Although a popular method of customer engagement, allowing children to get hands on with toys, take part in activities promoting popular products and meet their favourite characters, the retailer has suspended all such activities, as the public is urged to avoid close contact and any activity which could potentially further the spread of the virus. A statement on the company website reads: “Unfortunately, character visits and toy demonstrations will be postponed until further notice. We’re extremely sorry for any disappointment this may cause.” However, as many families may be self-isolating, or spending much more time at home than usual, The Entertainer is also promoting Boredom Busters, with £5 off a £25 spend and a range of other offers for customers.

Independent Toy and Gift Show cancelled The AIS show, due to take place at the end of April, has been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak. In a statement, head of toys & children’s Gift at PlaY-room, the toy division of the AIS buying group, Miles Penhallow commented: “Due to the latest advice regarding coronavirus, we would like to advise that the Independent Toy and Gift Show is now cancelled. We would like to thank all our exhibitors and those registered to attend for their patience and support during this period.” Miles added that dates for the 2021 show will be advised in due course.


Distoy cancelled Distoy organiser David Potter has contacted Toy World to confirm that the show has been cancelled for this year. He told us: “With a heavy heart, I’m afraid I’m left with no alternative but to call off Distoy 2020. I canvassed every registered exhibitor to help me make an informed decision, and it was a landslide vote for cancelling the show rather than postponing it. That was the resounding vote from the exhibitors, but in addition, an enormous number of the visitors told me that the travel restrictions already in place prohibit them from travelling for the foreseeable future – and a show without visitors is no use to anyone. The vast majority made the point that a postponement may only prolong the agony, in the sense that none of us knows when it might be safe to try and put the show on. For many, an August/September alternative simply wouldn’t work, given their commitment to other events. Now we will focus on making Distoy 2021 the biggest and best yet. It goes without saying that I’m devastated that it has come to this, but clearly it’s the right and proper thing to do under these unprecedented circumstances. At least I haven’t made a knee jerk decision – it was only made after consultation with every registered 2020 exhibitor.”

Amazon suspends deliveries of non-essential products including toys Amazon’s ‘Fulfilment by Amazon’ (FBA) programme, through which it provides warehousing and shipment services for products from third-party sellers, as well as larger vendor shipment services, was partially suspended in March. The move applies to warehouses in the US, UK and across Europe, and was set to last until at least April 5th. In a note sent to sellers, Amazon admitted that its household staples and medical supplies were running out of stock, prompting the decision to prioritise certain categories in order to “quickly receive, restock, and ship these products to customers.” Amazon defined six categories as ‘essential products’ which can continue shipping, including Baby Product, Health & Household, Beauty & Personal Care, Grocery, Industrial & Scientific and Pet Supplies. For all other products including toys, Amazon has disabled the creation of new inbound shipments for FBA members, as well as for retail vendors (the business-to-business selling platform). The company said the new protocol applies to its retail inventory, as well as to the products of third-party sellers on the platform. New orders won’t be processed until such time as Amazon alerts sellers that things are back to normal. While April 5th was suggested as the tentative date to restart shipments, Amazon has admitted that it could extend these limitations depending on how the pandemic progresses. This move doesn’t block sellers from selling their products on the platform and fulfilling the shipments themselves, a help document sent to suppliers points out. Indeed, that might be the only option available to sellers and retailers who want to continue offering their non-prioritised goods to Amazon customers over the next few weeks.

Indie toy retailers step up during crisis With many children at home during the outbreak, and social activities severely limited or curtailed, parents are seeking activities to keep their little ones occupied at home. Amazon delays are becoming a reality, prompting customers to realise the value of independent toy stores and ordering online. Local toy shops have reported an increase in sales. Reports from the US describe retailers claiming that business has been on par with the peak Christmas holiday season. Some UK specialist toy retailers are seeing a similar surge. In many cases, customers with bored children are not inclined to wait several days for shipping, and both physical and online sales have therefore increased over the last week. Items such as workbooks, flashcards, arts and craft kits and games and puzzles are in high demand to keep kids engaged at home, as well as to support learning where children are not attending school. Outdoor toys that kids can use in the back garden have also been popular. Amazon has announced that it will prioritise shipping essential supplies for at least the next three weeks, if not longer. As a result, independent and brick and mortar retailers have a competitive advantage, carrying stock of toy product that Amazon has put on hold for the foreseeable future. Some toy stores have reported a 25% sales increase. Many such retailers are starting to take orders over the phone or via FaceTime, email, Facebook messenger and Instagram, in order to reduce person-to-person contact in store. Where they are able, some are even offering local delivery. One retailer told us that they enjoyed taking “good, old fashioned telephone orders,” saying that they were able to offer personal help and advice. “At the moment, it also feels positive to be able to offer a form of social interaction,” they told Toy World. Social media and local signage are being utilised to promote store opening times and services offered. Social platforms can also be used as a virtual storefront for retailers who do not have a website set up Some enterprising toy retailers, including Midco Toys, have begun offering contactless, free kerbside delivery in a 10-mile radius of its stores, on orders over £15, to help local families get hold of what they need. Meanwhile, Toyville in Bristol has decided to try and spread some cheer by including an 'awful' (their words, not ours) joke with every order. As more consumers come to realise the value of local, independent stores, owners hope that once the pandemic has run its course, they will remember to support local businesses more -  all year round, and not just during a time of crisis. Ian Edmunds told Toy World: “Yes it is going to be a challenge – but the indies are used to adversity and we will do all we can to work with our members and suppliers to ensure there is a toy trade on the ‘other side’. Christmas is still the 25th December!”

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Coronavirus News Amazon introduces new measures to keep up with unprecedented demand The company has said it will hire 100,000 new employees in the US amid a surge in sales during the ongoing pandemic. The massive intake will work in Amazon’s warehouses and delivery services, which have come under pressure in recent weeks as consumers avoid shops and stock up online. “We are seeing a significant increase in demand, which means our labour needs are unprecedented for this time of year,” Amazon’s senior vice president of worldwide operations, Dave Clark, said in a statement. “As the Covid-19 pandemic continues, Amazon and our network of partners are helping communities around the world in a way that very few can, delivering critical supplies directly to the doorsteps of people who need them.” The company added that it would be looking to hire individuals currently out of work due to cutbacks caused by the outbreak in the restaurant, travel and entertainment industries, among others. Dave added: “We want those people to know we welcome them on our teams until things return to normal and their past employer is able to bring them back.” Amazon also said it would increase hourly wages by $2 in the US, £2 in the UK and approximately $2 in many parts of Europe. The pay hike comes a week after the company committed to providing up to two weeks of pay to all employees diagnosed with the coronavirus. Meanwhile, workers at Amazon’s UK warehouses are being told to work overtime to tackle the increase in demand. The GMB union said that workers across at least four different sites were informed that they had to work “compulsory overtime” from Monday, which means that some employees must work additional hours as requested – if their contract says so.

newsanalysis The Ethical Toy Program on the impact of Covid-19 on Chinese manufacturing Carmel Giblin, CEO & president of the ICTI Ethical Toy Program, answers our questions about the current pandemic. Toy World is aware of toy factories in China that are switching to the production of medical supplies – is this a government initiative, or a diversification step the factory managers are taking themselves? We’re aware that a limited number of factories, which are members of IETP, are now producing medical supplies, specifically face masks, temperature readers and goggles. Some are doing this to respond to the clear need in the market and some are working in conjunction with the government. This sort of diversification is not unprecedented amongst manufacturers, and I hope it will help us all globally to address the significant health threat of Covid-19.

What impact is the current Covid-19 situation, as it stands, having on toy manufacture in China? Covid-19 is unprecedented, certainly in my working career, in terms of the global negative impact it will have on all sectors and industries. In China, we know most factories are now back to work following the extended Chinese New Year national annual holiday. Our members are reporting on average around 70% of the workforce being present. They have circa 4-5 weeks of backlogged production to address, which is resulting in pressure to meet shipping deadlines with reduced worker numbers. Factories aim to be back to full workforce capacity in the coming weeks. Until then, we can expect pressure on working hours which we must all manage responsibly. Workers who have returned to work understandably have concerns about workload, and fear of future contagion is real too; we’re working with our members to ensure factories are doing all they can to address fears and keep their workers healthy. We can, I think, be hopeful in terms of the continued reduction of cases being reported in China. I very much hope that continues to be the situation.

There seems to be a feeling that, just as China is getting back to full manufacturing capability, the rest of the world is closing shops and demand may not be there at the moment. Is this a fair assessment? Are things getting back to normal, or is there a lingering aftermath? We now are facing global lockdowns, which are both frightening for people and simultaneously the responsible thing to do. Of course, lockdowns impact the retail market – for some companies this pandemic will be a catastrophic event that they cannot survive. The uncertainty, in terms of how long we will all need to take such extreme actions in order to fight Covid-19 successfully, is very difficult for people and businesses to deal with. It’s hard to plan and respond when we simply don’t know what will happen next. I hope that support is given to business and individuals to support society during this extreme situation. I’d also encourage all parts of the supply chain to be in dialogue so challenges can be understood and positively managed.

How is the Ethical Toy Program assisting its members at the moment? Supporting the workers in factories, our members and the entire toy industry is what we are here to do. The work we do is even more critical at this time. We’ve been in constant contact with our factory members and buyer members. The first action we took was to provide advice and guidance to factories, helping them get back to full operational status as quickly as they could, whist ensuring workers were protected. We are granting extensions to factory certification validity period and reminding factories to use our Self Declaration process when they need to. This provides the factory with the ability to manage non-compliances to the IETP standard without risk to their certification in times of need. If anyone wishes to know more about how the Ethical Toy Program is supporting factories, or for other information, please contact carmel.giblin@ethicaltoyprogram.org.

Toy World 68


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Special Feature

PlaY-room

PlaY-room: supporting members and suppliers Toy World caught up with Miles Penhallow, head of toys & children’s Gift at PlaY-room, the toy division of the AIS buying group, to discuss the group’s plans for the year ahead.

I

t was announced on the 18th March that the AIS Independent Toy and Gift Show would have to be cancelled due to government advice on mass gatherings and events amid the global outbreak of Covid-19. Following this announcement, we caught up with Miles to hear more about how the group came to this decision, as well as alternative plans to alleviate any further impact from the pandemic. “We arranged a lot of meetings before coming to a conclusion on how best to act in the current situation”, explains Miles, “It was decided that all shows that were taking place up to June and beginning in June will be cancelled due to recent government advice. We felt that this was the only measure we could take in the current climate. Since we spoke to Miles, the team has reviewed that

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decision and now hopes that the show will take place on Monday 28th and Tuesday 29th September. They said: "Following our announcement that The Independent Toy and Gift Show in April would have to be cancelled, we received several requests to consider later dates in the year from both exhibitors and members. We are therefore exploring the opportunity with our suppliers to host the show later this year, on Monday 28th September and Tuesday 29th September 2020 at Cranmore Park, Solihull. We want to offer this show as a platform to launch the critical fourth quarter of trading following the forced temporary closure of stores. We will endeavour to bring together our members, members of other buying groups and other independents who will need to rebalance their stocks for the run up to Christmas


Special Feature at a time when suppliers will have warehouses full of stock to sell. Christmas is the one event that will not be cancelled! We would like to wish all those that have been involved in this show’s success good health and we look forward, hopefully, to welcoming them through our doors again in September. Please get in touch with Aimee - aimee.hill@play-room.uk.com – for more information.” With the focus now moving onto next year’s show, we asked Miles what plans they have in store and whether or not the existing template of the 2020 show will be carried over to next year. “I think the general feeling is that we will stick with the wooden toys theme - if everyone is happy to we will try and hold the same show but just a year later. The plan is to speak to our sponsors and make this happen. Looking at toys that are more environmentally friendly is still a good message to promote, so for us wooden toys remains a theme we want to cover at the show, especially since the category has so much to offer. We also had a Juran Juran tribute band organised for our evening event this year – rest assured to those suppliers looking forward to this that we will be re-booking them for next year if possible!” More steps are increasingly being taken to reduce single-use plastic in toy manufacturing, and with recent news reporting that McDonalds will be introducing non-plastic toys to its happy meals next year, it seems that sustainability will remain a strong trend for 2021. With wooden toys expected to remain the theme for next year’s Independent Toy and Gift Show, Miles tells us more about why this is an important category for suppliers and retailers, as well as consumers, to consider: “Consumers are getting increasingly concerned about reducing single-use plastic waste, as well as the educational value of what they are buying. As a result, they are being more selective and I think it is

PlaY-room

our job to give them premium choices – wood is an obvious category to promote and it shows that we are reflecting what the consumer is thinking to a certain degree. Also a lot of wooden toys are educational or in the pre-school category, so generally this theme fits consumer interests very nicely." He adds: “What amazed us is how many suppliers (nearly 30 out of the 85 suppliers) currently have some element of wood within their range, which shows that many companies are definitely looking at wood as an option even if it only makes up part of their range.” On the retail front, Brio was a real winner for AIS members in 2019 according to Miles, and whilst this is good news for those retailers, they still faced challenges during a tough market period. Looking back over what was arguably a difficult year for many in the toy industry, we asked Miles how AIS members fared during this time: “We ended the year 4.5% up which was unbelievable,” says Miles. “I didn’t see that coming because all the signs told us that the high street was really suffering, and department stores were not getting the same footfall compared to earlier years. A lot of this success was down to SMF Toytown and other specific members – it certainly wasn’t across the board, according to our figures. A lot of our members found it tough, but most of these were only down by single digits, and this was in keeping with the market. However, despite all odds, SMF had a fantastic year – Alan opened up new stores which really drove our business and gave us a healthy final figure come the end of the year.” Miles also touched upon the recent reports of some major department stores reducing their toy offerings, reinforcing that there isn’t a consistent pattern some department stores are expanding their toy departments, whilst others are pulling it back a bit. “The key is having a buyer who is close to the toys and understands that you can still do some really good work with toys in a department store. I think the biggest damaging factor we have seen for department

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stores, and I am sure it’s the same for independent toy shops, is the closure of Marks and Spencer on the high street – once you lose a real footfall driver, it can have an impact on sales elsewhere. Despite this, we have still seen reports of some good sales so far this year and the weather has helped – we saw lots of parents buying more product over half term to keeps kids occupied indoors.” With an encouraging start to the year, the general mood remains upbeat across the board according to Miles; even with challenges like the coronavirus outbreak causing cancellations and threatening to delay launch dates of new product offering. Indeed, the total impact of the coronavirus remains an uncertain prospect and in this case, Miles urges companies to invest in what they know. “In a year like this, retailers should consider backing those real solid building blocks that consistently perform well and will allow retailers to keep replenishing sales. It doesn’t look like 2020 will necessarily be the best year to take risks on new concepts, because the chances are those new concepts aren’t going to happen at all, or they will be delayed. It could well be a good time to batten down the hatches and get orders and commitments in quickly for security. We very much hope the coronavirus won’t cause too much impact going forward, but of course it is so hard to predict at the moment.” Despite an increasing uncertainty across the industry as a whole, Miles told Toy World that in other news the Import show in March was the busiest show to date with a one-in-one-out parking system and visitors queuing down the road to get in. Whilst the Independent Toy and Gift Show will not experience the same fate this year, Miles wishes to ensure readers that all efforts will be put into making next year’s show great, and that the AIS group will be reaching out to its members and show suppliers to offer vital support during this unprecedented time.


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Feature

Games & Puzzles

Need I play more Games & Puzzles remains a strong and successful category, and is currently helping us get through the Covid-19 pandemic. Rachael SimpsonJones takes a look at the figures, and speaks to suppliers and retailers, to gauge the mood in the marketplace at this turbulent and fast-changing time.

A

s detailed in this month’s NPD column by Rory Partis (pages 30-31), the Games & Puzzles sector is performing extremely well at the moment. It’s the biggest supercategory for the growing 12+ age group, making up a fifth of all purchases. 18+ is currently the largest age group for Games, accounting for nearly a third of all purchases, thanks to titles like Dobble, Pictionary Air and Exploding Kittens, which appeal to a wide range of player ages and gaming preferences. As we’ve previously highlighted, family games nights are still a growing feature of British homes as time away from screens is recognised as being important to health and well-being. To aid consumers and retailers in their decision making, Asmodee has an entire Great Family Games section on its website and

in its catalogue, which highlights titles that are easy to play, fun for all and offer a good introduction to gaming, with all suggestions attractively priced at £20-30. As evidenced by the rest of its broad portfolio, Asmodee offers something for everyone. “We offer titles that can be played at home as a family but equally could be taken to a dinner party with friends for a completely different experience,” explains marketing manager Ben Hogg. “It’s the players who make the game, and our games give them the freedom to set the tone of how they should be played. A great example would be Telestrations. This is an excellent family game; everyone gets a single word that is then drawn, guessed, drawn and guessed by other players and turns into something totally different, with hilarious results. Players can make it as family-friendly or as 18+ as they want

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to; what we try to ensure is that power rests with the players, making any laughs a more organic experience as a result.” Party games specialist Big Potato also boasts a strong line-up of titles suitable for all, from younger kids and families to teenage players looking for something a little cheekier. Head of marketing Becky McKinlay explains: “I think young adults are looking for alternative activities and experiences which give them a break from technology and social media. Board games seem to fit the mould. I think it helps that there’s a whole new selection of party games to choose from - it’s not just the well-known classics anymore. We’ve got quite a few games in the pipeline this year, but the ones that seem to be the most anticipated are Top of the Pops, Herd Mentality and P For Pizza. Top of the Pops is a musical party


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Games & Puzzles

game, Herd Mentality is a social deduction family game and P For Pizza is a letter game where the aim is to be the first player to collect nine slices of pizza. We’re also bringing out a brand-new version of our hit game Colourbrain especially for wee spuds. It’s called Junior Colourbrain and can be played by kids age six and above.” Strategy gamers will enjoy Funko’s new offerings. The company, renowned for its Pop! Vinyl collectibles among other things, acquired board game creator Forrest-Pruzan Creative in early 2019 to form Funko Games. Whilst Pop! will continue to be Funko’s most well-known form factor, 2020 will see a lot more focus and attention on other categories in the portfolio, including the Funkoverse board games offering, which debuted during the run-up to Christmas 2019 with DC, Harry Potter, Rick & Morty and Golden Girl offerings. “New licences in 2020 include Game of Thrones, Jurassic World and Back to the Future, among others,” explains Andy Oddie, managing director EMEA. “The collectible element of each title - Funkoverse uses Pop! figures as the player pieces – makes the games highly desirable. The range will be supported by organised play and retail marketing, to include a heavy social media programme. We have huge distribution and market influence, and the category is a growth area generally, so we’re confident that it’s the right time to be expanding our presence in this sector.” The Games and Puzzles supercategory has also seen growth in Adult Puzzles in 2019, with almost all growth in the Puzzles category stemming from the success of this particular market. Ravensburger achieved the No.1 spot in Adult Puzzles for 2019 and promises that its 2020 line-up will not disappoint. “We’re building on our contemporary offering with a number of new artists, including Stuart Cox’s I Like Birds collection,” says Katy Fletcher, head of marketing and product development at Ravensburger. “We’ve also recently partnered with our first Irish artist, Helen Condon;

her Kinsale Harbour jigsaw has already captured imaginations with extensive media coverage. Our Christmas puzzle is always a popular choice too, and with this year marking the 24th in the series, it’s certainly one to watch.” Ravensburger is aiming to bring quality, diversity and innovation to the Games & Puzzles category for this year, Katy adds, with Ravensburger seeing its eighth consecutive year of growth. “We’re outperforming the market in many areas, and for 2020 we’re building on that platform with additions to tried and tested ranges, as well as breaking new ground. Among our new games launches for later this year is a 3D edition of our popular Labyrinth game, which expands the popular range which has been enjoyed by families for decades. We’re also looking forward to launching exciting new licensed games such as our Minion Alarm game, bringing banana-themed fun to fans of the franchise. Our immersive games portfolio will welcome a raft of highly anticipated new games including Back to the Future: Dice Through Time and Marvel Villainous: Infinite Power. The appeal of the Marvel Universe is undeniably huge and showing no signs of abating. In creating Marvel Villainous: Infinite Power, we can welcome that huge fanbase into the Villainous experience, unleashing all-new game mechanics to explore and new dastardly deeds to accomplish. We’ve already revealed three characters from the game - fan favourites Thanos, Hela and Ultron – and two more will be revealed in the coming months as we head towards the launch later in 2020.” At the time of writing this, I’m more than aware that many of you will be reaching saturation point from stories relating to the pandemic currently sweeping the globe. It really is everywhere. It’s likely that you’ll be reading this issue from the comfort of your own home, rather than the office (and hopefully not surrounded by towers of toilet paper and Purell),

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looking forward to seeing something that isn’t in some way related to viruses. If that’s the case, then I apologise – you’re about to read a whole lot more about Covid-19. That’s because the unique situation we’ve found ourselves in has created ripples which are reaching into every market, including ours. Readers will be aware of current disruption to manufacturing and supply chains, starting in China but now also being felt in European manufacturing hubs as infection rates increase and lockdowns are imposed to slow the spread of the virus. We’ve also heard how some Chinese toy factories have started manufacturing medical supplies instead of toys, to help meet the ongoing demand for face masks, thermometers and protective goggles. At the same time, feedback from retailers indicates that the prospect of weeks (or months) stuck indoors in quarantine or self-isolation sent consumers into an at-home entertainment frenzy from early to midMarch, with sales of games and puzzles booming as a result. This was bolstered by an article in the Guardian by Owen Duffy, author of The Board Game Book, detailing the best games to play if you find yourself spending more time at home. Tongue-incheek comic The Oatmeal even suggested holding a Rubik’s Cube in your hands to prevent people touching their faces so much (that, or an action figure such as He-Man). “Obviously, with people being advised to stay away from pubs, restaurants and cinemas, there's been quite a bit of interest in at-home entertainment,” Owen Duffy tells Toy World. “If you look at social media, people are talking about their plans to play board games with their families. A recent trend in the industry has been a huge increase in games with dedicated solo modes, where a single player can take on the game itself. This is something that a lot of people have been talking about in the past few weeks. Two-player games have also been getting quite a bit of attention. Some players are looking for quick, simple games they can play with their kids while they're off school. I’ll definitely be playing lots of games with my six-year-old


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Games & Puzzles

to cut his screen time a bit. I think the variety of games on offer is one of the real strengths of the analogue gaming industry, and the fact that there's such a depth and diversity of ideas means players have plenty of options to explore in what's likely to be a very challenging time.” Joel Meyer-Nicholas, from Toyville in Bristol, confirms that the pandemic has been having a positive impact at the store he runs with his wife, Lindsay. “Jigsaws had been performing well for us anyway, especially ones from Ravensburger, but over the past couple of weeks sales have gone through the roof,” he says. “Games have been selling really well too, with the number of online orders rivalling what we saw at Christmas. In fact, things are busier right across the shop.” However, he also notes that it’s a double-edged sword at the moment; while the business is benefitting from strong sales of games and puzzles, the aforementioned lockdowns in manufacturing areas means Toyville is having issues getting restocks – as are many other toy stores. In Reading, a spokesperson for the specialist games store Eclectic Games had a similar tale to tell; the Covid-19 situation had created a ‘swings and roundabouts’ effect at the store, with economic uncertainty carried through from last year somewhat balanced out by a spike in online orders. The store has been pushing the message out through its social media accounts that self-isolation and quarantine offers consumers an unmissable opportunity to catch up on games they’ve been keen to play but not had a chance to, and says that other retailers have taken a similar approach, to great effect. On the flip side, the spokesperson told us that new games releases have been severely affected by the pandemic. “There are an awful lot of new titles we were expecting which haven’t arrived, because nothing has been moving since Chinese New Year,” they explained. “Restocks of existing games have also been delayed. However, we’re seeing good sales of lighter games, not so many of the heavier strategy games which need more players and time, while two-player games, family friendly games and sales of Pandemic have skyrocketed. We’ve sold double the number of copies of Pandemic that we would usually expect to sell in this period. What can I say? We love our morbid humour in times like this. It’s a good solid co-op game, it’s not difficult to learn to play, but to win it is challenging. It’s a great option for families looking for something they can play through several times and

not get bored.” At time of writing this in mid-March, Asmodee – which distributes Pandemic – told Toy World that it had also seen a big rise in online orders. As a large part of the company’s business is through bricks & mortar stores, working closely with physical retailers and developing communities has always been at the forefront of its strategy, and now it’s more important than ever. “I really hope they [retailers] get the assistance they need at this difficult time; we will of course be doing everything we can to support them,” says Ben. “I am sure there will be unbelievable pressure and difficulties for families in the weeks ahead due to Covid-19. I certainly hope our games can help bring families together and put a smile back on some faces. It’s a constantly evolving situation. Due to the global nature of the virus, everything is affected in some way. We are likely to have shipping delays, out of stock periods on certain lines and our service to our stores will probably be compromised in some way. I think most toy and games companies are in similar boats here. We will of course keep our customers up to date as things develop.” Speaking to Toy World in mid-March, Tomy’s UK general manager Mary Wood said that the company was likewise experiencing delays in the development of some new products coming out of China. At the time, Tomy was confident that most of these items could be brought in via airfreight in a timely manner, but Mary also expressed concerns about the stance that retailers might take on late deliveries. “I will be disappointed if retailers keep to their policy of imposing fines for this situation, which has been completely outside our control,” she says. “Our warehouse in Belgium is currently still shipping product and we’re monitoring that situation on a daily basis. If sales drop off, we’re going to have to

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review marketing spend, particularly over the next four months. The health of our Tomy team is an absolute priority, but we must also take care of the health of our business and take measures to ensure we come through this very challenging, unprecedented situation strong and ready to respond to both consumer and customer needs when normality returns.” And when normality does return, Tomy has plenty to offer. The company is expanding on both the Articulate and Logo franchises for 2020; in addition to the launch of Logo 2nd Edition, Tomy has two new games launching in autumn/winter from the Logo family - Best of Food and Best of Christmas ‘Not for Kids’. “The ‘Best of’ series has been very successful over the years and we plan to bring new versions and themes out each year,” Mary says. “We launched Best of Christmas in 2019 and sold out 40k units. This game will continue into 2020 with a new version targeting the 18+ audience… think questions about office party antics and alcohol rather than anything too controversial! In addition to these new games, we’ve revamped the Mini Games into a new format and added new titles, Articulate for Kids and Rapidough, to the adult best-sellers Articulate and Logo. These Mini Games relaunched in spring/summer and have been seeing very good sell-through wherever they’ve been in distribution. They will make great stocking fillers at Christmas and offer an enjoyable, ‘snackable’ version of the main game at any time.” Outside of the best-selling Articulate and Logo families, Tomy is also bringing out several new kids’ games. Mary tells us that whilst securing success in the kids’ games markets can be tough, the company feels that it is minimising risk for retailers by extending two of Tomy’s most popular titles Screwball Scramble and Greedy Granny. She explains: “Screwball Scramble Level 2 will be supported by TV, digital and influencer activity, and Greedy Granny In A Spin launches at a volume price point of £16.99 in autumn/winter, also supported by TV. Additionally, from Drumond Games we have the hilarious game Fill Your Pants, plus Bubble Buster and Seasick Sam. All these kids’ games will have full marketing plans behind them, which is critical in order to be successful in this competitive sector.” Over the coming pages, Toy World brings you the latest and best games and puzzles that are sure to be keeping us all entertained over the coming months.


Games & Puzzles

Cheatwell 07770 651670 | www.cheatwell.com

Mattel 01628 500 000 | www.mattel.com Pictionary Air continues to bring families together, making screen time family time. The much-loved game has been re-invented for a new generation, allowing players to draw using a tablet, mobile or smart TV screen and new interactive pen. Uno Flip is an extended version of the classic game featuring new twists like a double-sided deck, special Flip card and tougher penalties. There is a Light Side to the deck, which plays like classic Uno, and a Dark Side, where penalties are tougher. Players must strategise to rattle the competition and be the first to get rid of their cards to win. Uno Splash has durable plastic cards which resist water so players can enjoy playing anywhere, even outdoors. This version also comes with a handy clip that keeps all the cards together and attaches to a beach bag, backpack or camping gear, perfect for holidays. For autumn/winter 2020, Uno will expand its portfolio with a number of licensed editions including Minions, Super Mario, Trolls, Frozen II, WWE and Rick n Morty. Each Uno will feature a special move that is unique to the licence. Scrabble continually updates as words evolve and for 2020, trending words such as ‘Bae’ and ‘Fleek’ have been added to the Scrabble repertoire. The range also includes Scrabble Travel, Scrabble Junior and Harry Potter Scrabble, which celebrates the unique vocabulary from the world of Harry Potter. The Harry Potter Edition includes elements from the original game, but with a special glossary for players to find wizarding words they can play with their tiles. In the Kids category, Please Feed the Pandas sees pandas and trainers team up to perform tricks and score points. In this new game, players are challenged to toss and catch balls in a panda-feeding frenzy. The first team to score five points wins. Pic Fl!p is a fun new card game in which players race to connect images, find a match and get rid of all their cards to win. This fast card game is all about speed. The first player to deplete their entire hand is the winner.

Top-selling board game Tension has expanded with the launch of three new Tension Extensions. Each stand-alone game focuses on a single category; Music, featuring 10 Queen Hits and 10 famous guitarists plus more; Movies, with categories such as Films Featuring Dogs; and Foodies with titles like 10 Pizza Toppings and 10 Male Celebrity Chefs featured. Assorted cartons are available. Crown the Unicorn is a search and find game for children aged four and above, which is easy to set up and simple to play. It follows the story of the lion and the unicorn who fought for a crown. Players aim to return the crown and avoid the angry lion. Also available from Cheatwell is the Bubbles game. Players throw the dice, then match the coloured numbers to the cards. Kids need to spot the correct combination and bag the bubbles. This fast-moving match and grab game helps kids improve their observation skills while having fun. Engenius Contraptions from Cheatwell are flat-packed, put-it-together-yourself marble runs; they are a puzzle to assemble but a delight to see in action. New for 2020 is Bounce, in which marbles bounce on trampettes to the return hopper time and time again. Helix is a spiralling track over two metres in length and Spinball is a compact wooden version of the much-loved pinball machine.

Flair 020 8643 0320 | www.flairplc.co.uk With the Euros coming up this year, Flair is set to launch the football inspired card game, Goal 10; a game of strategy and team building that can be played at home or away. Perfect for 2-5 players, or more if combining packs, Goal 10 has everything needed for a fast action game packed full of challenges. The 65 high quality cards include playing staff, match highlights and sought-after bonus cards. Players draw one card from the pile and attack their opponent with super moves. The first to score five goals will win the match, but players can be thrown into a post-game spat on TV or find themselves taking a penalty. Launching in May with a football focused marketing campaign behind it, Goal 10 is the perfect take-along travel game and the ideal way to add to the Euro football fun this summer. For more information email sales@flairplc.co.uk.

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TV

DIGITAL & PRODUCT

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LAUNCHES JULY!


Games & Puzzles

Asmodee 01420 593 593 | www.asmodee.co.uk Asmodee’s extensive catalogue means that the company offers a game for every individual. To help players find the right one, the company has put in place a renewed focus on its four key ranges. The Easter holidays is an ideal opportunity to get the whole family together around the table to bond around shared fun. Asmodee’s newly introduced Family Games range highlights products that fit this purpose, with easily understood rules that put kids and adults on a level playing field while sampling a variety of genres. The Family Games range stars Ticket to Ride London, a bite-sized version of Ticket to Ride, in which players race to claim bus routes around the capital city. The game has a 15-minute playing time and an attractive design, making it the perfect way to introduce children to the joys of board games. The collection also includes Picture Show – a shadowpuppetry take on charades – plus thrilling adventures in Bermuda Pirates, wacky dexterity challenges in Crazy Eggz and the educational fun of Asmodee’s BrainBox titles. Rounding out the Family Games is Dobble 360, a 360-degree twist on the original model. This edition introduces a rotating, mechanical card display that means players have to use their memory as well as a keen eye to spot the matching images. The classic version of Dobble, meanwhile, headlines the Quick Play range and will be going on the road in 2020, as Asmodee’s successful demonstrations programme puts the Dobble brand in front of more people than ever before, backed by a TV and digital advertising campaign. The Quick Play range is focused on fun, fast titles that can be learned instantly and played on the go. It includes big sellers such as Bananagrams, Cobra Paw and Rory’s Story Cubes plus the trivia fun of Dice Academy and the hilarious memory game Who Did It? Asmodee also offers the Party Games range, aimed at larger groups, and the Modern Classics range, which spotlights the titles that have spearheaded a revolution in modern board games which continues to this day.

Hasbro 0208 569 1234 | www.hasbro.co.uk Hasbro Gaming continues to renew and diversify its classic gaming brands with the addition of Operation: Pet Scan and Cluedo Liars Edition, to its portfolio. The Operation: Pet Scan Edition brings a fun twist to the classic game of Operation. Cavity Sam’s dog, Rex-Ray, has eaten things he shouldn't have, like homework, socks, bunny slippers and a dog bone, and players need to use all their skill to remove them. An ailment is dropped into the dog's mouth and the magnetic dog-o-scope is used to guide it along his belly, but if the buzzer sounds, the ailment drops. Each ailment successfully removed counts as a point and whoever has the most points wins. Kids can also press and hold Rex-Ray’s nose to hear bark and fart sounds. Cluedo Liars Edition board game sees players use Investigation cards to help them deduce who killed Mr Boddy in the mansion. Each player selects a card and reads it out loud, trying to convince other players that they're telling the truth, even if they're not. If an opponent suspects they're lying, they call that player out by hitting the Liar Button. Whether they are lying or telling the truth, an Evidence card is revealed, and players move one step closer to cracking the case. When a player is ready to make an accusation, they secretly look at the cards placed inside the case file envelope to reveal “Who, What, and Where.” A correct accusation wins the game. 2020 will also bring a renewed focus on heritage brands such as Boggle, Yahtzee, Pit and Risk as well as continued support across its core classic games including Monopoly, Cluedo, Game of Life and Operation.

Winning Moves 0207 298 9507 | www.winningmoves.co.uk Adding to the current sell-through success of the Winning Moves Friends range, which includes Friends Trivial Pursuit and Quiz, the company is launching two brand new Waddingtons 1,000-piece Friends puzzles. Fans can recreate favourite scenes and iconic images from the hit TV show with the puzzles, which are available in two designs and exclusive to the UK market with Winning Moves. The puzzles add to the existing popular lines in the Winning Moves Friends collection. The 1,000-piece puzzles sit alongside family favourites like Friends Trivial Pursuit, Monopoly, Top Trumps, Top Trumps Quiz and Waddingtons Playing Cards. Winning Moves has also just launched two new Harry Potter puzzles, on top of the refreshed packaging of the current five designs. The existing range of puzzles includes Waddingtons limited edition Christmas puzzle 1,000-piece, Mario (two styles), Harry Potter (seven styles). The two new Friends additions to the range are available from April.

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Can you beat the ELECTRONIC timer?


Games & Puzzles

Interplay 01628 488 944 | www.interplayuk.com Following a successful launch, Interplay has extensive growth planned for its games portfolio. Supported with significant investment in an integrated marketing programme that will engage the key target audience and encourage purchase decision, the company is introducing thrilling new titles to its line-up, featuring creative new game features. Building on the success of the 5 second Rule brand, 5 Second Rule Spintensity is an all-new intense version of 5 Second Rule with an additional electronic timer and spinner. This all-new intense, electronic version of 5 Second Rule features lights and sounds. As in the original game, players have to name three things, then the new random electronic timer and spinner tells them what to do next; name even more things, draw another card, or pass to the next player. Players can combine this with the original game for even more fun. Featuring a real flying drone, Drone Home is a kids’ action game for 2-4 players, aged six and above, where there is a race to launch four aliens to safety before the enemies knock them out. In the head-to-head competitive play, kids launch their aliens down ramps to get them into the drone. When an alien lands inside, it triggers the drone to start up and fly. Because there is a delay, other players can sabotage the flight by knocking the alien out. When the drone eventually takes off, any aliens inside will make it safely home. The goal is for players to get rid of all their aliens.

A.B.Gee 01773 570444 | www.abgee.co.uk A.B.Gee continues to expand its puzzle portfolio in 2020, boasting a strong collection from Tooky Toy and Jar Melo, designed specifically for infant and preschool children. With many of the items suitable for age 12 months and upwards, the ranges challenge a child’s logical thinking and contribute to early education, helping to improve hand-eye coordination and memory, as well as colour, shape and object recognition. Perfectly sized pieces and softened edges make it easy for small hands to play. The chunky alphabet puzzle features easy grasp wooden letters, making them ideal for little fingers. Young learners need to find the correct space for the letter and join them all together to create their own words or the full alphabet. The puzzle also shows little ones how to correctly draw each letter. The Jumbo Dinosaur floor puzzle, a 24 large piece jigsaw with colourful illustration, comes in a portable box for on the go fun. The dress up bear box is a 20-piece set played on the slide-off lid, where kids can choose from a variety of outfits and facial expressions for baby bear, like a pirate or doctor. Children are naturally intrigued by matching pieces up, and everything packs away into a beautifully crafted box, making it a great travel toy. The selection starts at puzzles as small as four pieces, up to 101. A.B.Gee takes great pride in ensuring all lines are safe and robust for kids at play. Visit the website to see the full range.

Vivid 01483 449944 | vividtoysandgames.co.uk Goliath’s debut launch of the fast action Logo game was a sell-out success last autumn/winter and even made it onto an Instagram post by Spice Girls Emma Button andw Victoria Beckham. Building on a strong first year in 2019 for the Goliath games portfolio, there are several new introductions including Burping Bobby, the stinkin’ hippo. Players take it in turns to feed Bobby treats, but if they make him burp and release his green gas, that player is out of the game. Johnny the Skull is an electronic ghost blasting, treasure chasing game. Players use the electronic blaster to zap ghosts projected from the ship. There are also family favourites Foxy Pants and Shark Bite, family fun with Wordsearch and Googly Eyes, plus classics like Don’t Wake Dad!, Gator Golf and Magic Tooth Fairy. Players can enjoy the mystery of an escape room with Escape Room The Game. Players use the clues to find the code to stop the decoder counting down, before it’s too late. The company is also launching Life on Earth, a brand new interactive trivia game based on the BBC Series Planet Earth and Blue Planet, where players challenge friends and family to answer questions based on clips from the show. The game is produced using materials that are either FSC approved or from recycled items. The pre-school, kids and family games will benefit from strong TV campaigns across the autumn/winter season.

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TRACK YOUR SCORES

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Games & Puzzles

Orchard Toys 01953 423 422 | www.orchardtoys.com Orchard Toys’ new times tables games First Times Tables and Times Tables Heroes have already seen a positive response following the launch at the start of the year. First Times Tables is a fun introduction to two, five and ten times tables. As well as a learning resource to introduce young children to multiplication, it also gives parents the tools to help teach their child. Once children have become familiar with the concept of multiplication, they can play the fun, pancake themed game to put their new skills to the test. Designed for 6-9 year olds, Times Tables Heroes has two games in one box, offering maximum play value. In the Hero City board game, players battle it out to save the city, moving around the board by solving multiplication problems for the 2-12 times tables. If players land on a shield, they have to use their imagination to create a story to help their superhero character defeat disaster and save the city. Players can then turn over the boards for a fast-paced game of Multiplication Bingo, where they race to get three in a row. Both games have been designed to help parents and children prepare for the new multiplication tables check (MTC), which is a new compulsory test in primary schools for children in Year Four from June 2020. Orchard Toys believe that both games will be popular with parents looking to help their children practise multiplication.

Tobar 01603 397105 | www.tobar.co.uk This year sees Tobar venture into a new sector with the launch of the revamped Atmosfear. Atmosfear is not just a board game, but an amplified experience in home entertainment with an interactive app that works across mobile, tablet and home entertainment systems. It's a game of skill, strategy and suspense combined with a race against time. Once players press play, they have only a limited time to collect six different keys and make their way to the centre of the board where the Well of Fears awaits. The Gatekeeper interrupts in an attempt to stop them winning. The interactive app-based gameplay includes random selection to ensure a different game every time, plus digital surround sound and picture. Also available are Poo Head, Hoop Head and Unicorn Hoopla. Players throw various objects at another player wearing a hat with sticky strips and that player has to catch it on their hat or, in the case of Unicorn hoopla, get a ring over the unicorn on the hat. For young children, Shark Attack and Biting Bulldog are action games where youngsters have to be quick or be bitten. Tobar also has the traditional games category covered with pool, darts, table tennis, tabletop football and casino games, plus many more.

Spin Master 01628 535 000 | www.spinmastertoys.co.uk Friends fans from the age of 12 upwards can play two new games inspired by the TV show. In Friends: The One with the Ball, players compete against friends and family to see how long they can last through five ball-tossing, ball-balancing and ball-challenging rounds. Inspired by the classic Friends episode with the same name, there are 50 challenges, plus the ball, and the game builds momentum until players are incorporating multiple challenges into throws. Featured on the Friends TV show, the Friends: Wheel of Mayhem game has all the original wacky gameplay and tests players on their Friends trivia. Youngsters can join in the family fun with Spin Master’s brand-new game for spring/ summer, Trolls Musical Journey. The Trolls are on a mission to unite the music in this cooperative play game based on the hit movie, Trolls World Tour. Using a gameboard made of durable fabric and game movers with the signature Trolls hair, players travel musical lands like Rock, Classical, Techno and Country, and work as a team to collect tokens from each land before Barb can take them. Spin Master also has a new range of Blockbuster Puzzles that will bring back memories of the golden age of video rentals. The retro puzzles come in a high-quality, plastic case inspired by Blockbuster's old VHS cases. Durable pieces snap together firmly for a great fit and ensure a satisfying build. The puzzles feature vibrant art that pops, making each puzzle perfect for framing. Each puzzle measures 18" x 24" when complete and is suitable for ages eight plus. There are three Blockbuster Puzzles to choose from: The Breakfast Club, E.T. and Jaws. Spin Master will support all these new lines with a strong mix of digital, PR and social campaigns.

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Games & Puzzles

Bandai 020 8324 6160 | www.bandai.co.uk Expanding its portfolio to offer accessible, quality interactive games, Bandai UK’s range of engaging family games combines fun and learning with strong mainstream appeal.

Partnering with Zanzoon, the collection includes Froggy Party and Fan Zone. Froggy Party stimulates imagination, concentration and agility, and boasts 50 different challenges to encourage children as young as three years old to get active while having fun. The interactive frog instructs kids to sing, dance or imitate, before having to run to the nearest lily pad. Combining entertainment with physical play, Froggy Party includes everything required to guide little ones through 15 minutes of fun. 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. The games master explains the rules, asks the questions, counts the points and gives out the scores, without the need for any additional devices or applications. Bandai’s games range has also extended into the gifting/tech games space with Gorilla Games. Creating classic arcade games in miniature form, the games feature light and sound effects and patented sensors, bridging the kids toy market and kidult and retro trends. Punch King is the ultimate boxing arcade game in a portable size. With two modes, players can battle to discover who has the most power and includes challenge cards for extended play value. Hammer King brings ‘King of the Hammer’ play to finger size; players pull back their fingers, flick and release to try and hit the highest scores for either power or accuracy. Bandai’s Pac Man Connect n Play provides an evergreen favourite. A hero item within the company’s tech/interactive portfolio, the game comes in an iconic Pac Man case and merges digital gaming with one of the world’s most iconic video game brands. Pac Man was the first video game to include a character, and the Connect n Play version appeals to all ages and genders, in the year of the character’s 40th Anniversary this spring.

Tactic 01483 332 070 www.tactic.net Highlights of Tactic’s collection for 2020 include three new board games to test how players handle high pressure situations. Awarded a Hero Toy accolade at London Toy Fair, 15 Minutes to Self-Destruct is an edge of seat, app-enhanced race against the clock game, where players quickly work as a team to de-activate switches and try and escape before the spaceship blows up. In another race to save the world, Hack My Password challenges players to break through their opponent’s firewall and decode their cleverly chosen password. Land of Clans is a strategy game where players step into the shoes of a clan chief, build and storm castles and collect the most victory points to conquer the Scottish Highlands. Each game is suitable for players aged eight and above, and will be available from August. For trivia lovers, Animals of the World is the third instalment of the company’s educational games series, joining the already popular Flags and Wonders of the World. Containing 200 cards, six continent boards and a world map, Animals of the World will test a player’s knowledge of many species of animal from a variety of different countries. I Love Britain sees players race around the UK and answer questions about British culture, traditions, nature and more. Pre-schoolers will enjoy playing Beach Bounce, a fun 3D challenge game where they try to score three in a row for Team Dolphin or Team Seal by bouncing beach balls into the waves. In the energetic game Spotlight Slam, one player acts out a card whilst the others aim to be the fastest to guess and snatch the right card from the table using their paw club. The bright and colourful game Jolly Polly involves players carefully placing parrots on the swaying tree without them falling off. Tactic has also recently launched a gift range of games for the 15+ market which provide trivia fun combined with hilarity. There are four games to choose from, each containing 200 cards: Who Has…?, Wrong Is Right, Crazy Laws and You Think You Know Me? Another new addition to the Tactic catalogue for summer is party game No Way Jose, where lies are discovered and swindlers are exposed. Contact phil@tacticgames.co.uk or sabrina@tacticgames.co.uk for more information.

Hy-Pro Sports 01582 670100 www.hyprosports.com Hy-Pro has seen year-on-year growth within the games table category. Customers have responded well to the newest range of games tables, stimulating substantial growth in this segment of the category. A new area for Hy-Pro has been desktop table games. The fun gameplay, accessible price point and smaller shelf footprint are appealing to a wider range of customers, and the addition of numerous features adds value not-seen-before to these games. Leading the range has been the launch of the Striker App Connected Table, whereby players can create tournaments and leagues between family and friends. This brand-new concept has generated an inrush of interest and Hy-Pro has plans to expand the range further. As well as investing in new products, the company is looking to improve how the customer assembles the products and how they interact with them. Launching this year will be new digital instruction manuals and a host of other features all designed to continue to improve the customer experience.

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a world-first game concept

designed by real escap e room exper ts

NY N A TO TUR I M N ROO CAPE ES AN M ROO

An action-packed escape room experience in your own home

and Come at s see u ow and h ais s ster a toym

3 game packs in series 1 with 3 levels of difficulty

launches july 2020 with pr and digital support

For more information please contact Golden Bear: Telephone: +44 (0) 1952 608308 customerservices@goldenbeartoys.co.uk Email: customerservices@goldenbeartoys.co.uk www.goldenbeartoys.com


Games & Puzzles

Ravensburger 01869 363 830 | www.ravensburger.com Toy Fair saw Big Money named a Toy Fair Hero Toy. Set to launch in summer, the game sees players take their chances with the three throws of the dice to grow their fortunes and then invest in businesses in a bid to become a zillionaire. Classic game Labyrinth is also expanding with 3D Labyrinth joining the range. Players are challenged to find their way through the 3D style maze to find the treasure. For younger children, action game Slimy Joe combines fun with kids’ favourite, slime. Children take turns to pick flutterbies from inside the giant carnivorous plant’s mouth, hoping it won’t snap shut on their turn. Ravensburger continues to grow its immersive game portfolio with high profile partnerships. Minecraft: Builders & Biomes offers an authentic tabletop translation of the hit video game, while the recently launched Horrified showcases Universal Studios’ classic monsters in a co-operative strategy game. A fourth title in the ever-popular Disney Villainous range, Perfectly Wretched, introduces three new characters to the line-up including Cruella De Vil. Played as a stand-alone or in combination with other Disney Villainous titles, the game will be available from late spring. Recently announced Marvel Villainous: Infinite Power, the next chapter in the Villainous line, will see players take on the role of an iconic comic book villain. Five Villains feature in total, with the three already announced being Thanos, Hela and Ultron. 2020 sees Ravensburger’s 2D puzzle line-up grow with additions from popular artists such as Colin Thompson and Aimee Stewart as well as welcoming several new artists to the Ravensburger fold. These include Scotland-based artist, Stuart Cox, whose modern take on British birdlife adds to the company’s growing contemporary offering. A Positively Puzzling campaign, which kicked off with World Puzzle Day in January will be activated throughout the year, celebrating the benefits of puzzles through events, print, PR and digital activity. In the licensed puzzle category, Ravensburger has a big year ahead with many films set to launch. Among the 2020 launches is a Trolls World Tour range of puzzles, as well as introductions celebrating Minions: The Rise of Gru, Elmer and Hey Duggee. The company will also build on its Gruffalo range, now expanding to the full collection of Julia Donaldson titles. There are also new product launches for evergreen licences such as Peppa Pig, Disney Princess and Thomas & Friends. New licences will also be showcased across Ravensburger’s 3D puzzle range, while sports car fans will welcome the autumn introduction of the Lamborghini Huracán to the collection later this year. The company will continue to showcase its buildings collection with a 360-degree marketing campaign throughout the year.

Clementoni 020 3206 1397 | www.clementoni.com

Red Herring Games +44 1472 348909 | help@crime-time.co.uk

Puzzles continue to be a strong foundation of the Clementoni portfolio, and this year the brand is promoting and launching products which are 100% sustainable. A heart-shaped leaf will be visible on all products from the ranges made from completely recycled materials. Included in the mix are clever Sequence puzzles: pieces join together to create a story, helping children learn how to organise a pattern to complete the story in a fun way. Clementoni has also partnered with Disney to produce a range of 100% recycled puzzles which use original literature artwork of key cinematic releases such as Frozen and Lion King. Disney has been a key licence for Clementoni and the range offers a wide selection of puzzle formats, with varying price points to appeal to different audiences. The licensed range for 2020 includes Trolls World Tour and Minions: The Rise of Gru, across popular concepts Clementoni including the head-scratching Impossible 1000-piece. Clementoni has also announced a partnership with Netflix which will see top streaming shows come to life in puzzles. Kicking off the programme is a range of puzzles from popular series Peaky Blinders, Stranger Things and La Casa de Papel. The range of puzzles for adults and teens includes the Impossible 1000-piece and the Panorama 1000-piece. For further information, contact Shahbaz.khan@clementoni.com

Red Herring Games celebrated the successful launch of its latest family games Burglar and Swag at Spielwarenmesse in January. Best known for its murder mystery games and events, Red Herring has been developing board games for a number of years and has built up a keen interest from international buyers and distributors. The company was able to access two different grants to support its diversification into board games. These funds helped to develop Burglar, plus a new game entitled Framed, which is yet to finish its development stages. Crime and mystery remain best sellers in both books and TV internationally, with the UK enjoying a reputation for excellence in crime fiction, which makes murder mystery games a popular category. Burglar is a family game involving skill, chance, memory and tactics as players hunt for loot and try to escape the building before their opponents. The family friendly game lasts around 30 minutes and becomes more devious every time, as players learn tactics to frustrate opponents and use their best negotiating skills to gang up on the other players. Both Burglar and Swag were crowdfunded successfully on Kickstarter in 2019, and the first edition of both games will soon be in the hands of players.

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Games & Puzzles

John Adams 01480 414 361 | www.johnadams.co.uk John Adams is expanding its games portfolio for 2020, whilst also celebrating milestones including Rummikub 70th anniversary. In the Windy Knickers action game, players help granny hang out her washing while trying to avoid rolling a storm and causing a tornado. Don’t Get Rattled sees players attempt to steal jewels from a snake and requires a steady hand and nerves of steel. Also joining the kids action games range is Munchin’ Monkey, in which players swing the monkey and feed him his coconuts. Once he is full, they will get a big surprise. Following on from the success of Shake Off, players can now keep active with Pose Off; a new family game that gets players to complete challenges whilst holding a yoga pose. Players who stumble or repeat are out. Pencil Nose is a party game where players have to use their noses to sketch words against the clock and hope their teammates can correctly guess what they’re drawing. FartBuster is a fun reaction game. Players watch carefully as FartBuster’s arms light up as he makes silly fart sounds in sequence, then pull FartBuster’s arms to see if they can successfully repeat it. Nightmare Horror Adventures is designed for players aged 16 years and over. This dark, story-based game is full of plot twists, surprises and jump-scares. It is 40 years since Rubik’s was named Toy of the Year and went on sale mass market. To mark the occasion, a new 3x3 Metallic Anniversary Cube is being introduced. The Anniversary Cube is just as mind boggling as the Classic 3x3, with a metallic finish. Ernö Rubik, the creator of the original Rubik’s Cube, has designed a new brainteaser puzzle to celebrate the 40th anniversary. The Pyramid will be just as challenging as the 2x2 Cube. The Rubik’s range of games is also extended with the Revolution electronic cube and Rubik’s Tilt, a retro nod to classic electronic video games. All key products will benefit from a mix of TV, VOD and digital advertising as well as full PR and social media plans.

Gibsons 020 8661 8866 www.gibsonsgames.co.uk Gibsons has partnered with Rebel Girls, the brand behind the internationally bestselling book series, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, which has sold 4.5m copies and been translated into nearly 50 languages. Known for its innovative puzzle designs and best-selling games, Gibsons will release two jigsaw puzzles in April, a card game in the summer and a board game to follow in 2021. The jigsaw puzzles will be available in two piece counts; 100 piece and 500 piece, appealing to girls, teens and young women alike. Each product will make full use of the rich Rebel Girls style guide, which focuses on positive, empowering messaging and bold designs. Following record sales of the London Underground inspired card game, Mind the Gap, Gibsons has expanded its partnership with Transport for London, the government body responsible for London's rail networks, to produce a raft of new branded products. Mind the Gap the card game first launched in 2017 and is a best-seller, selling out year after year. Due to its success, Gibsons, is growing its TFL licensed collection this year with the release of four jigsaw puzzles this month, followed by two brand new games and additional puzzles later in the year. The jigsaw puzzles will be available in 250, 500 and 1000 pieces and will feature the iconic Underground maps and roundels, as well as a selection of the most popular designs from Transport for London’s poster collection. This covers over 100 years of graphic art and contains some of the best examples of posters as an art form anywhere in the world.

Big Potato Games 07472 824 526 | www.bigpotato.co.uk The Colourbrain game from Big Potato is a simple family trivia game where all the answers are colours. Players split into teams and each team is given 11 different coloured cards. Colourbrain is different from other quiz games because teams begin with all the potential answers in their hands. The game begins with a colour-related question. Teams choose which card (or cards) to play and the first team to do so shouts “colourbrain!” The other teams now have 10 seconds to follow suit. All teams flip over their cards and the question card is turned over to reveal the answer. Scoring in Colourbrain is unique, as a team only wins points when other teams get the question wrong. The winning team is the first to reach 10 points. Questions cover a mix of topics and vary in difficulty, ranging from “What colour is a baby swan?” to “What’s the most popular colour of Crayola crayon?”. The game is suitable for ages 14+. The Colourbrain expansion pack contains 120 brand new cards to add new questions to the mix and allow the game to be played again and again. The expansion pack is also perfect for a travel size game to play on the go. Also available is Disney Colourbrain, which features 300 different questions that cover over 20 different Disney classics. Brand new for 2020 is Junior Colourbrain, suitable for kids aged six and above. There are 120 questions all suitable for youngsters covering a range of topics from Mario Kart and Harry Potter to wild animals. For more information, email emily@bigpotato.co.uk or call on 07472 824 526.

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Games & Puzzles

Character Options 01616 339 800 | www.character-online.com Character Options has a brand-new title in the company’s family games portfolio this summer: PenSilly is a raucous new drawing and guessing game perfect for all the family. At the centre of each game is the crazy characterised shaking pen, PenSilly. Players simply choose one of the 75 description cards and 75 subject cards, switch on their PenSilly and try their best to draw the image the cards describe before the timer runs out. There are two levels of play and over 5,500 drawing combinations, but whether a wobbly giraffe or a frightened spider, the skill is in controlling this super shaky pen long enough for team mates to guess the answer and win the points. Players have to be quick and complete the task before the PenSilly’s timer runs out. Pokémon fans can test their knowledge on Pikachu and his pals with the new Pokémon Trainer Trivia Game. Designed for up to four players and with over 1,000 facts to be tested on, would-be-trainers must be quick and know their stuff if they are to succeed in this game. With three levels of play: beginner, advanced or expert, the virtual games master takes care of reading the rules, asking the questions and keeping score. PenSilly and Pokémon Trainer Trivia will launch in the summer and will join other games in the Character Options portfolio including Tap It! and the What’s in the Box Challenge.

Tomy 01271 336 155 | www.tomy.com Following a successful first year of partnership between Tomy Games and Drumond Park, the key launch for this year is the second edition of The Logo Board Game, which will feature updated and modern brands. New to the family games category, Fill Your Pants will be fully supported by a TV advertising campaign and aims to bring the whole family together in a game full of fun and laughter. With fifty different possible categories, including “something spotty”, “something shiny” and “something squishy”, each game offers a new combination. Sketchy is a drawing game where one team draws pictures on the included screen, which will appear on the other side for the opposing team to guess at. The game will also be supported by TV advertising. Tomy Games will deliver sequels of Tomy’s most popular action games, including Screwball Scramble and Greedy Granny. Launching in autumn/winter, Tomy Games’ Screwball Scramble Level Two features ten new obstacles as kids put skill, patience and dexterity to the test whilst steering their ball through the maze. The sequel to the classic game tests coordination and skill on a topsy-turvy journey through a table-top maze full of new surprises. To challenge players further, Screwball Scramble Level Two connects to the original game to form one giant maze with a bridge attachment. Greedy Granny in a Spin sees players set Granny’s eyes spinning with a push of the hunger plunger. When they stop, the race is on to find the card matching the eyes on Granny’s face. The first to spot the matching pair collects cookies, as shown on the dial. Play lasts until all the cards, or all the biscuits, are gone. Tomy Games will also be launching a Harry Potter board game – the magical quiz perfect for four or more players. The Harry Potter Wizarding Quiz is a virtual game with no rules to read and has over 1000 questions.

Golden Bear 01952 608 308 | www.goldenbeartoys.com Trapped is a world-first game concept from Golden Bear where players can turn any room into an escape room. Each Trapped game pack has all players need to enjoy an action-packed escape-room experience in their own home. Up to eight players put the pack contents on walls and surfaces in a room of their choosing. Players then work together to beat the clock, crack the clues, solve the puzzles and escape. There are three Trapped game packs in series one. Designed by The Fantastic Factory in conjunction with real escape-room experts, each comes complete with its own content, backstory and level of difficulty. Every edition gets players laughing, thinking and taking action around the room. What’s more, Trapped is unlike most escape-room games - once played it can be put back in the pack and given to somebody else. Suitable for adults, families and children aged eight and over, this new game is perfect for parties. Packs available in the new range include Art Heist, where players must work together to steal a painting. The puzzle level is medium, with the game lasting for 1-2 hours. The Carnival pack sees players race head to head to see who will be crowned King or Queen of the carnival. The puzzle level is easy and game play is 45 minutes. Bank Job is where players must work as a gang of bank robbers to steal gold from the SOVO Bank. The games last for 1-2 hours and the puzzle level is hard. For all trade enquiries please contact Kathy Lesser on k.lesser@goldenbeartoys.co.uk.

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Games & Puzzles

Jumbo Games 01614 289 111 | www.galttoys.com Jumbo Games is heading into spring/summer keen to capitalise on the growing demand for adult puzzles as part of the flourishing mindfulness trend. To ensure retailers have fresh selections quarterly and give consumers plenty of choice for their next puzzle, Jumbo is releasing more than 30 brand-new, top-quality puzzles. April sees the introduction of 10 new Falcon puzzles, in 500, 500XL, 1000 and 2x 1000-piece formats; each celebrating the quintessentially British illustrations Falcon is renowned for. Puzzlers can take a trip down memory lane with Dancing the Night Away, Looking Across the River, Tropical Conservatory and Country House Retreat, in addition to the 10 1000-piece puzzles released earlier this year. including The Toy Shop, Another Day on the Farm and The Viaduct. Jumbo’s leading puzzle brand, Wasgij, is the original brainteasing jigsaw. The addictive concept is challenges puzzlers to use their imagination and the humorous illustrations to piece together the ‘solution’ to the picture on the box. Each puzzle in the Wasgij range is numbered, which provides consumers with an additional competitive element, as fans look to complete their collections. The Wasgij brand has recently undergone a repack of the existing puzzles, bringing a fresh image to the range. This month will see the introduction to the range of the new Original 34: A Piece of Pride! and the Retro Destiny 4: The Wasgij Games, in celebration of all things sporting. Jumbo’s Jan van Haasteren puzzle brand welcomes two new 1,000-piece puzzles with Cruise Ship and The Art Market. Jan’s distinctive style and collectability factor continues to appeal to UK puzzle fans and offer something uniquely different to the market. There will be a further seven new Jan van Haasteren puzzles released throughout 2020.

Cartamundi 01268 511 522 | www.cartamundi.com Cartamundi has kickstarted its 50th year in the industry with a strong line-up of new products alongside the brand’s core offering of classic card and board games. The company has identified key trends in the market, including young adults choosing games nights over screen time. Innovative and competitively priced games, designed with that market in mind, have been created by Cartamundi, and key influencer partnerships will be deployed to ensure the right audience is reached. Best-seller Color Addict is a colourful card game designed for players aged seven plus. Game play focuses on matching cards to the colour or word card in the central pile, however the colour word written on the card is often printed in a different colour to increase the difficulty. The game aids in developing cognitive memory skills, making it an addictive addition to any game night collection. Hashtag is designed to close the gap between individuals who love games and those who cannot be away from their phone. Each player is dealt a card and has to pick a hashtag on it to search on Instagram – the aim is for players to either find the card with #mostpostswins or #leastpostwins depending on the side of the card they are playing. Alpha Zulu is a fast-thinking word game. Each round starts with a question, such as, “What’s the colour of a London bus?” When a player turns over a go Card they can answer. Players then race to shout out words that start with the same letters as the answer. For example, as the answer is red, a player could answer rainbow, echo, dog. In addition, Cartamundi is producing premium Bicycle playing cards and luxury Poker Sets to meet the increasing demand from aspiring magicians and playing card enthusiasts following television shows like Britain’s Got Talent. Aware of the increasing importance of counteracting climate change, the company is using solely FSC certified materials for its cards, paired with 100% recycled plastic within its packaging.

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Zappies 01273 977440 | www.zappies.com Zappies offers a diverse portfolio of games, often distributed on an exclusive basis and featuring key licences. The company has a range of classic and specialist games including Lord Of The Rings Risk and Walking Dead Cluedo. Both Cluedo and Risk game formats continue to be popular for consumers. Pablo Escobar is a new strategy game launched in December 2019. By using financial skill whilst co-ordinating production, transport and marketing, players can travel back in time to become the King of Cartels in America. Coming to the market this year is Hotel Tycoon, the monopoly style game where players must buy and build hotels to attract guests, as well as Rate My Plate, the hilarious game based on the Facebook sensation. A number of new adult games includes Likes, themed around dating apps , which works by matching the funniest profiles to outrageous profile pictures, and then judging the results with both funny and sickening consequences. In addition, Zappies offers the Noble range, including Harry Potter Jigsaw sets in five differing scenes, the deluxe Harry Potter Chess Sets and the Jumanji replica game. These high-quality games are fun for Harry Potter fans and all the family.


Ages 8+ 2-6 Players

Red Herring Games 01472 348909 help@crime-time.co.uk


Games & Puzzles

Mookie 01525 722769 | www.tptoys.com The Games and Puzzles category is a focal point for Mookie for this year, with new releases set to keep the whole family entertained. Yulu games will have a heavy media presence in 2020 to support the launch of its most innovative games yet. Break the Board is a new launch for Mookie, continuing its entry into the interactive games market. Inspired by the key moment in karate - breaking the board - this game is all about speed and action. Diamond Heist sees players work as a team to retrieve a diamond before getting caught and losing the game. Another release for 2020 is a classic tale of Who Dunnit? - a deduction game with twists and turns along the way. Players must put their detective hat on to determine the who, what and where of the mystery before their opponent does.

Funko 020 3376 3223 | www.funko.com 2020 will see a lot more focus and attention be given to categories other than Pop!, Funko’s most well-known form factor, in the company’s portfolio which includes its newest category extension into the games and puzzles sector. Funko acquired board game creators Forrest-Pruzan Creative in early 2019, to form Funko Games. The company specialises in game invention, game design and playtesting, all of which it will continue to action under the Funko Games banner. Funko Games debuted with the popular Funkoverse light strategy game during the run-up to Christmas in 2019, with DC, Harry Potter, Rick & Morty and Golden Girl offerings. The Funkoverse board game uses Pop! figures as the player pieces, which are highly collectible and ideal for existing fans of the Pop! brand. The new introductions of hotly anticipated Funkoverse boardgame licences will extend the range of available titles for gaming fanatics who have enjoyed the previous offerings.

Smart Games 01903 885669 | www.smartgames.eu Having announced recent strategic partnerships at Toy Fair, Smart Toys and Games has added Skillmatics to its portfolio. Skillmatics develops innovative products to build children’s core skills and reinforce key learning concepts. Created by educational specialists, the range engages young learners as they experience the joy of discovery and self-learning. Based on the principle that children absorb concepts better through repetition, using the Skilly Billy pen on the Skillmatics Write and Wipe Activity Mats keeps learning fresh. With sets available for ages 3 – 99, there’s lots of activities to choose from, including shapes and patterns, brain games and the animal kingdom. The company will also introduce a new brain busting game to its IQ range: IQ Arrows. From easy to expert, players navigate their way through the booklet of 120 challenges to solve the puzzles by fitting the arrows in place. With all seven game pieces needing to be on the board to complete the challenge, this single player mind boggler will keep players guessing which orientation the arrows should be in and how the colours should be arranged for hours. Adding to the Cube Puzzler collection, this spring sees the arrival of Zig Zag Puzzler, suitable for ages 12+. The 3D puzzle game features two playing modes where players can build a pyramid on the blue side of the gameboard or a zigzag on the white side. Coming with a transparent lid for easy storage, players can solve the 80 challenges, 40 on each side, on the go. Two new magnetic travel games, Flippin’ Dolphins and Puzzle Beach, are also new to the portfolio. The Flippin’ Dolphins travel game has seven magnetic pieces and 48 challenges, from easy to expert. Puzzle Beach stimulate skills including spatial insight, planning and problem solving, as players have to find a path to connect children to their friends and beach toys without stepping on anyone. With 48 challenges to complete, Puzzle Beach is the perfect summer game. For sales enquiries, email uk@smart.be.

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Brand Profile

Hairdorables

The Hair Flair Bunch Hairdorables, Just Play’s inspirational girls’ brand distributed by Flair in the UK, has raised the stakes once more with the launch of the Hairmazing fashion dolls collection. After almost two years in the market and with a licensing programme underway, we spoke to Emmanuelle Cadet, head of marketing, to find out what makes this brand tick.

How has the Hairdorables range performed since it arrived in the market? It’s been almost two years since launch and the brand keeps growing with every new series. We created a loyal fan base and with the innovation coming through, we have ensured it has plenty to look forward to. Last year alone we sold over 300,000 dolls and Hairdorables was the fourth fastest growing property in NPD’s Playsets Dolls category.

The girl’s collectibles category is incredibly crowded and right now, one brand is proving dominant. How have you navigated that landscape with Hairdorables? Hairdorables is the only other product ranking in the NPD top 15 in Playsets & Dolls accessories segment, which is a testament to the brand appeal, quality and play value. A key factor to its success has been the wide variety of new products coming

through. The core dolls have different style stories and play feature each season, and their world has expanded to sisters, pets and the hugely popular male BFF’s, the Hairdudeables, which have been so successful that they will have their own line in autumn 2020. The marketing has also been completely aligned with the digital native brand DNA and core values of friendship, style and individuality. This was certainly the case with our Hairdorables Pop Up Salon event last autumn, where fans won the chance to bring their friends to the one-day-only Hairdorables fashion hair salon and meet their favourite influencers.

What new developments will you be introducing to the core range this year? Hairmazing is the big development; this new fashion doll range has stunning details and ontrend clothing, with the packaging opening out to a catwalk. The collection launched just two months ago with great retail reaction and we can't wait to introduce the next series, the Prom Perfect collection. Within the Core collection, we recently launched the Season 4 Scented Series. This new wave will be presented in stylish carry cases which are both funky and re-useable; the the new element is scented hair that matches each of the girls’ styles. Autumn will see us moving into Season 5 with the Hair Art Collection; a further 26 dolls to collect which encourage hair decorating and the Longest Ever Hair Hairdorables. We also have some very special collections later in the year. Hairdorables Loves, which combines key licences with the core doll line, plus the incredibly

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popular Hairdudeables will have their own standalone series, introducing single Dudes plus their essential accessories.

What marketing and in-store initiatives will be supporting the brand over the coming months? It's all about Instagram for Hairmazing. We have partnered with celebrity mums, influencer Amazing Arabella and Instagram friendly girls with high followings to share their own Hairmazing style. On top of this, we have high impact TV and digital advertising plans across both Hairdorables and Hairmazing, and event-based activities later in the year

How is the licensing programme developing? We are excited to have Kennedy Publishing on board; the first issue of Hairdorables monthly magazine will be released this summer. We are also in discussion with best in class licensees for all other key categories such as apparel & accessories, stationery and HBA. We are looking forward to building a consumer products programme that will complement our doll presence at retail.

What are your aspirations for the brand this year and beyond? Hairdorables is an evergreen property for Flair Just Play: we want to keep bringing innovation to the brand, always surprise our fans and offer them something to look forward. This year’s line will certainly deliver on this.


DISCOVER OUR NEW TRAVEL GAMES!

ZIG ZAG PUZZLER

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01903 885669 • uk@smart.be • www.smart.be SG UK TRAVEL GAMES 20200316.indd 1

16/03/2020 09:59


fre 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: Bertoy, Kids@Play, Posh Paws and Panini.

Disney Pixar Onward sticker collection Panini 01604 877 888 www.paninigroup.com

Panini has announced the launch of a brand-new sticker collection for the new Disney Pixar film, Onward. Onward follows two teenage elf brothers, Ian and Barley Lightfoot, on a journey to discover whether there's still a little magic left out there; the siblings want to spend one last day with their father, who died when they were too young to remember him. The collection has 192 stickers to collect, as well as 50 cards that can be stored inside the cardholder which comes inside the album. Collectors can look out for special foil stickers too, and there's also a legendary insert inside which offers room for more sticking. Starter Packs are priced at £3.99, while Sticker Packets are 85p.

Squishables www.bertoy.com

US-based toy company Squishable launched its partnership with Bertoy this Spring, bringing its signature plush designs to much of Europe and the UK. Squishable classics such as Corgis, Avocados, Pineapples and Unicorns will join quirky new designs like Carrots, Strawberry Milkshakes and happy Rainbows. For over a decade, Squishables has filled a niche for high-quality plush with a mischievous twist. Its Comfort Food line of oversized food plush has been particularly popular in the US, with runs on Hot Dogs, Ice Cream Cones, and Bananas, while the classic round Squishable plush Animal line continues to be a core feature of the specialty and department store market. Designed in Soho, New York City, Squishables is known as much for its wide appeal as the charcater's fuzzy faces and bright colours. Fans range from classic school-aged toy audiences to serious adult collectors, plus the collegeaged market. The strong fan group often provides input on designs, and a number of bestselling designs were originally crowdsourced through Squishable’s ongoing Project Open Squish contest. Email philip@bertoy.co.uk or call 07748 150906 for more information, or visit Bertoy’s stand at the AIS Independent Toy & Gift Show.

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esh YuMe Harry Potter Magic Capsules Kids@Play +44 1635 255725 | www.kids-at-play.com

YuMe Toys, from Maxx Marketing, in partnership with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, has announced it will be launching a Wizarding World inspired collectible range in spring 2020: Harry Potter Magical Capsules. Kids@Play will be the distributor of the new range to the UK market.

The Harry Potter Magical Capsules line brings the unboxing and collecting experience to a whole new level. The first in a global roll out of multiple series per year, Series One consists of ten blind collectible capsules sculptured in the likeness of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry’s iconic crest, each containing seven surprises to collect, play and display. At its centre, in a secret chamber, each capsule hides a character from the Wizarding World. Through a unique unboxing mechanism that incorporates colour-coded, heat-reveal and water-reveal hidden messages, consumers uncover which surprise character is hidden within each capsule. For all UK enquiries, retailers can contact Nat Southworth at nat@kaptoys.com.

Trolls World Tour Plush

Posh Paws 01268 567317 www.poshpawsinternational.co.uk Posh Paws International is celebrating the official launch of its plush toy collection, inspired by DreamWorks Animation’s upcoming feature film, Trolls World Tour. DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls World Tour officially premiers in April 2020 and Posh Paws’ colourful collection of 10’’, 7’’ and 18” official movie plush toys is on sale now. All the favourite Trolls characters are included such as Poppy, Branch and Tiny Diamond, the glitter hip-hop troll, while new faces such as Queen Barb, the leader of the Rock Trolls have been added to the cast. As with all Posh Paws products, each character is recreated in the softest of fabrics and to the highest quality, and the collection offers a variety of price points, from pocket money treats through to birthday gifts.

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Special Feature

New York Toy Fair

A New York state of mind Toy World’s publisher John Baulch reports from Toy Fair New York.

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he 117th annual Toy Fair New York saw around 24,000 visitors from 100 countries gather in New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center between 22nd - 25th February. Overall buyer attendance was down 7.7% this year, with a decrease in international attendance and a stricter vetting policy for online third-party resellers cited as being among the contributory factors behind the modest decline. On the positive side, the show saw a 4.5 % increase in representation from both the top 25 toy retailers and from retailers which own brick-and-mortar stores. Over the years, Toy Fair New York has evolved from its original home in the city’s pair of iconic Toy Buildings - where companies occupied private showrooms as many still do in Hong Kong - to a fullyfledged trade show. Nevertheless, secrecy is still a top priority for many exhibitors; the number of closed stands is greater than at any other toy event, while an over-proliferation of NDAs has made reporting on new lines a proverbial minefield. At $27b, the US toy market remains the largest in the world, although previous figures have suggested that it was due to be over-taken by China within the next few years. Whether that still proves to be the case in a post-coronavirus world remains to be seen.

Toy Fair New York remains an outlier in many respects; this year’s event took place seven long weeks after the start of Toy Fair season in Hong Kong, although this was something of an anomaly – next year will see Toy Fair Season contract once more, as the New York show will take place a week earlier. The fair also runs over a full weekend, an unusual configuration in the current pantheon of trade events (only Nuremberg includes both a Saturday and Sunday, and that seems to predominantly cater for the domestic German market). The event is also a rarity in that – arguably – retail is not the dominant force behind the show; of at least equal importance to this event is the strong presence of media and analysts, both integral to the success (or otherwise) of the major US toy companies. Almost 1,000 members of the press attended the show, including ABC News, CNBC, CBS News, CNN, Fox News, The Today Show, Good Morning America, The Ellen Degeneres Show, Shark Tank, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and Forbes.com. On opening morning, the press registration queue was almost as long as the queue for general attendees – no other trade show could claim that. Even though it is not purely a retail-driven show, retail attendance remains impressive, and if

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anything, has grown in recent years. Buyers from the US’s top 25 toy retailers were said to be present, including Walmart, Amazon, Target, EBay, Walgreens and many others. The show also continues to grow its international retail presence: representatives from most of the major UK retailers were present this year, while a post-show report confirmed that the event attracted visitors from many countries which hadn’t attended the previous year, including Bolivia, Finland, Ghana, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, New Zealand, Thailand, Turkey and Ukraine. There was a suggestion that international attendance climbed this year due to global retailers and distributors believing that this may be their last chance to visit a toy show for a while, following the coronavirus outbreak. Inevitably, that was counterbalanced by the lack of Asian visitors and exhibitors; the Toy Association was successful in reallocating the stands which had to be released by Chinese exhibitors, but the absence of visitors from the Far East was both noticeable and unavoidable. Indeed, coronavirus remained the main talking point during the show, as the impact of COVID-19 was already being felt far and wide by that stage. It was clear that the well-documented knock-on effect to the supply chain was going to be felt way beyond


China, and that the immediate solutions were few and far between. As Steve Pasierb, president and chief executive at the US Toy Association, noted: “Getting out of China – especially at short notice – is simply not an option.” For those companies seeking to manufacture their products in other countries, most production facilities in other countries still obtain most of their raw materials from China. Those who rely on US manufacturing plants (such as companies with printed product) were being quoted an unprecedented 10-12 week delivery time due to the backlog created by the China crisis. There was even a rumour that representations have been made to both Walmart and Target to delay the set date for new toy launches this year, to give suppliers some much-needed breathing space. These challenges are all very real and tangible. Then there are the intangibles – in many cases driven by complete over-reaction: people avoiding their local Chinese restaurants across the world or a journalist asking Steve Pasierb whether toys being shipped from China might be infected with the virus. It was good to hear Steve respond by talking about the need for the whole toy community to help our Chinese factory partners through this traumatic period. The truth is simple - we really are all in this together.

and creativity. After the past few years, US toy companies crave stability and are nervous enough about investing and taking risks, without having to worry about tariffs adding an extra layer of concern to the process. Coronavirus, the loss of Toys R Us and tariffs aren’t the only issues impacting US toy companies: to that list you can add Sustainability, Mergers & Acquisitions and the rapid growth of the online retail channel, especially Amazon. The likelihood is that each of these issues is likely to be with us for some time, evolving in line with consumer attitudes and an ever-changing retail landscape. The hot topic of Sustainability certainly isn’t going to fade away: consumers want it, and retailers want it because their customers want it. The challenge is finding the delicate balance between commercial viability and doing the right thing. Neither is Amazon going to go anywhere; it has arguably benefited more than most US retail operations from the demise of Toys R Us, but its ascendancy isn’t without its tribulations, especially when it comes to counterfeit or unsafe products. Steve Pasierb is quite clear on where Amazon’s responsibility lies: ”They can’t say ‘Yes, we built the Town Square, but we can’t control what happens there.’ Neither is it reasonable to make

Of course, coronavirus is just the latest in a long line of challenges which the US toy community has faced in recent years. As Steve Pasierb wryly observed: “I wish we could catch a break. It would be nice, for once, to have a boring year.” First, there was the demise of Toys R Us, a development which still echoes throughout the US toy community to this day. The loss of the continent’s largest – arguably only – specialist toy retail chain was always going to weigh heavy on the industry’s sales numbers in the short term. But the Toys R Us -shaped hole at the centre of the US toy market is about more than just lost retail space: Toys R Us was an innovator and a risk-taker. It took chances on new vendors and new ranges which the other US majors such as Walmart and Target couldn’t - or wouldn’t - take. Many small companies, as well as inventors and designers owe their success to Toys R us, and no other retailer has yet stepped in to fill that gap. Last year saw huge panic descend on the US toy community as President Trump threatened to introduce new tariffs on Chinese-made goods, as well as increase the level of existing tariffs. Had it been implemented, this move could have proved catastrophic for US toy sales. Thankfully, Trump was persuaded to back down – for now at least. As a next step, the US Toy Association is lobbying for the government to roll back the tariffs which are already in place, arguing that tariffs hold back innovation

toy companies responsible for policing Amazon’s website.” Proposed new legislation would be a huge step in addressing the issue, but there is no guarantee that laws will be passed – and every time fresh problems arise, the negative media coverage affects the whole toy industry, not just the transgressing marketplace. As for mergers & acquisitions, the big companies are getting (even) bigger, and small companies are becoming increasingly concerned that they will become left behind and shut out at retail. Despite this backdrop of seemingly perpetual challenges impacting the toy market, the New York Toy Fair always has vibrancy and energy, which is hardly surprising given its location – truly, every day is show-time in New York. Exhibitors go all out, whether large or small, everyone is putting on the Ritz, everyone is hustling. That ‘always on’ dynamism gives the show an upbeat mood, regardless of any concerns bubbling away below the surface. Overall, given everything happening in the toy space right now, the show felt positive, with many exhibitors saying it exceeded expectations. As Toy Fair season drew to a close, the toy community braced itself to cope with the immediate aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak, which will undoubtedly test the resilience and fortitude of every business, large and small, over the coming months.

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Feature

Pocket Money Toys & Collectibles

Collection perfection In 2019, Collectibles continued to dominate the market, with sales equivalent to 21% of all toys sold. Heading into 2020, the category looks set to be bolstered by a raft of innovative new ranges and additions to existing best-sellers. Rachael-SimpsonJones finds out more.

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espite being responsible for one in five toys sold in 2019, the Collectibles category declined by 12% last year. Interestingly, products under £5 represented the biggest decline, as the average price of a collectible rose to £5.92. It seems that for many consumers, a small cheap lump of plastic in a blind bag is no longer enough: the trend appears to be moving towards higher quality collectibles with more added value by way of accessories, play sets or packaging which can be incorporated into the play pattern. The appropriately named Wow! Stuff launched Wow! Pods in January. These innovative collectibles make use of a nifty tech element to offer fans of character brands a totally new way to collect and display their favourite characters. A swipe-to-light function and interlocking hexagonal casing means kids can personalise their displays exactly the way they want them. Wow! Stuff is no stranger to bringing cutting edge play patterns to market – this is the company behind the multi award-winning Harry Potter Invisibility Cloak, after all – and reaction from trade shows earlier in the year, and from retailers, suggest that Wow! Pods is another sure-fire winner. “We are keen to uphold our position as a first port of call for Tier 1 licensed brands looking for innovation in toys,” Wow! Stuff CEO Richard North told Toy World. “When entering the collectibles market, we didn’t want to create a ‘samey' item. Our mission at Wow! Stuff has always been to create a ‘wow' reaction from the end user. We wanted to utilise the licensed

brand relationships we have developed over the years and disrupt the collectibles market with something really new, different and exciting. The reaction when a kid swipes to light the Pop delivers on the wow reaction we were hoping for.” Richard continued: “But we wanted to go further by building the leading collectible for the age group of 5-12 girls and boys who love licensed brands. So, armed with the mission to make this the leading collectible for ‘Young Fans of Character Brands’, a strapline we copyrighted, we wanted to ensure that the item looked great when it wasn’t being used. It had to be beautiful when displayed. We’d got the innovative interactive part covered with the swipe-to-light and mystery reveal feature, while the interlocking pod system, which allows kids to construct any kind of pattern across any of their favourite brands, completes the display in way that’s fully customisable and allows total personalisation. The listings from retailers, as well as the continued interest we are getting from distributors around the world, shows we found a niche - a big niche - that covers collectibles, home decor lighting, licensed brands and, most importantly, interactivity and display.” As Wow! Pods is initially launching with a Trolls World Tour line, Richard welcomed NBCUniversal’s recent decision to break the theatrical window on some of its upcoming movies, including Trolls, as families are urged to stay at home due to the Covid-19 pandemic. He explains: “We have a further dozen or more innovative toys and gifts for the Trolls licence

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that have strong retailer listings, so for Universal to take this decisive action is much needed and much welcome. Kids who won’t be going to the cinema due to virus concerns will get the opportunity to download and watch Trolls World Tour at home. This should provide a boost for toy retailers carrying Trolls merchandise.” Hexbug nano, from Innovation First, has made successful use of technical and electrical elements for years. These tiny, collectible, micro-robotic creatures use the physics of vibration to propel forward and explore their environment. Powered by a tiny motor, and 12 fixed, angular legs, each can traverse the ground beneath it and navigate through complex mazes designed by the collector. 2020 welcomes the Hexbug nano Flash, the fastest Hexbug nano yet, which is set to introduce an even more entertaining play experience to the collectibles and robotics space. “The Hexbug nano is our evergreen toy,” says Andy Ryan, marketing executive UK & Europe at Innovation First. “It’s what people associate with Hexbug when they see, hear or think about us. We’re hitting the reset button on nano, and we want to continue to give retailers and consumers everything they know and love about our products. We’re confident the all-new nano Flash does exactly that. The vibration technology and STEM aspects of nano have made us stand out in the marketplace for over a decade. With speeds twice as fast as our original nano, and a longer body with even more unpredictable movements, nano Flash is sure to be a hit in 2020. We’ll be supporting the range with a


Feature

Pocket Money Toys & Collectibles

360-degree marketing campaign including TV, digital and PR support.” Play sets have become a much bigger part of the collectibles experience over the years, with many leading brands now benefitting from a range of sets which enhance the play value of the toys immeasurably. Fans of Hexbug nano can choose from existing play set themes including space and fairground; product development for 2020 has resulted in new sets with rubberised walls which enable children to create a perimeter around the nano’s obstacle course. “We’ve really focused on developing collectible sets that can be expanded using the flexible jelly-like walls, enabling kids to unleash their creativity and imagination by building their own unique nano environments,” adds Andy. “The sets, which are compatible throughout the entire nano range, offer huge scope for variability, making the Hexbug nano experience even more fun for longer.” Traditional collectibles with simple yet evergreen play patterns are still proving hugely popular, as evidenced by the continuing success of Magic Box Toys’ Superzings and Mojipops. Magic Box is on target to double its 2019 sales through extending distribution into the toy channel and is working with Lisle Licensing to increase the licensing partnerships for both brands. “SuperZings is very much becoming an evergreen brand,” comments Julia Cake, UK and Ireland commercial director, Magic Box. “We launched Series 5 in January, with a further Secret Spies series already in the pipeline for the summer. MojiPops Party Series, which also launched in January, has already exceeded sales of Series 1; we’re therefore very excited for the launch of the new Adventure series later this year. Both new introductions will benefit from fresh story lines, TV webisodes and a whole universe of toys and play sets which will spark imagination and creative play.”

Superzings and Mojipops collectibles are also complemented by a range of play sets which give kids the chance to bring their chosen world to life. The MojiPops play sets are offered alongside accessories and themes which let collectors make up their own stories which tap into the range’s creative, roleplaying elements. In line with the popular hero/ villain theme, the SuperZings play sets always feature interaction; whether it be a weapon, a trap or a way to hide from the enemy. “These collectibles will remain popular because of these tried-and-tested play patterns, but the addition of play sets is a way to bring new innovation and excitement to the category,” Julia adds. Of course, it would be remiss to discuss the collectibles category without making a mention of L.O.L Surprise!, which has continued to rake in awards from the latest international toy shows, this year winning both Toy of The Year and a Dream Toy nod for the third consecutive year. “L.O.L. Surprise! is constantly introducing innovation to the range, which keeps the brand at the top of children’s wish lists whilst being incremental in driving the category forward,” enthuses Andrew Laughton, SVP UK, MGA Entertainment. “A good example of this was the introduction of the L.O.L. Surprise! O.M.G. Fashion doll range; complete with new fashions and reusable play set packaging, the range increased the brand’s presence within the fashion doll market, whilst retaining the characters known and loved by L.O.L. fans. The line was hugely successful from launch, with series 1 quickly selling out throughout the UK.” Andrew continues: “An extensive licensing programme has also been vital in helping to grow the brand as a property and boost sales as a whole, helping to ensure L.O.L. Surprise! continues to outperform our competition within what has become such a competitive market.” #Hairvibes launched in January, which Andrew calls the obvious next progression for the brand, in line with the interchangeable hair play theme.

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The range introduced multiple hair pieces that kids can mix & match to create fun hairstyles across the collection. Hair play continues to be a hugely popular theme within the dolls’ category, so MGA expects this to be a key feature within L.O.L. Surprise! moving forwards. “As a toy manufacturer, we are extremely conscious to always innovate with many different play patterns,” adds Andrew. “We work closely with retailers and NPD to understand the consumer demand and meet their needs – this includes understanding where there are gaps in the market for certain product offerings; for example, extending into boys’ collectibles. MGA’s portfolio has seen huge success across the board due to a winning combination of hard work, continual innovation, and creativity within every stage – from product development to marketing. Whilst L.O.L. Surprise! continues to take the industry by storm, our other collectible brands such as Poopsie Slime Surprise and Na! Na! Na! Surprise are also strong contenders within the market and by no means take a back seat. Each brand has a dedicated team behind it to ensure it is given the attention it deserves - the ongoing success of our portfolio is a credit to them.” The coming months will see a high level of support across MGA’s ranges, including major PR campaigns, TV and digital campaigns, combined with ongoing licensing partnerships. So far this year, the company has already celebrated the launch of L.O.L. Surprise! #Hairvibes with a consumer activation in Manchester’s intu Trafford Centre and digital influencer campaigns for the L.O.L. Surprise! Lights range, plus a major influencer campaign to launch Na! Na! Na! Surprise. “We will be keeping a close eye on the government’s advice with regard to coronavirus and consumer facing events moving forwards, but fans can expect much more activity still to come throughout the year,” Andrew adds. Over the next few pages, Toy World takes a look at the newest collectibles carving space for themselves in this competitive category for 2020.


Brand Feature

Hero Collector

Hero Collector

- for the fans To discuss the brand’s concerted push into the retail space John Baulch spoke with Hero Collector’s global brand manager, Chris Thompson. What prompted the move towards Hero Collector? We’re fortunate to have a rich heritage as Eaglemoss (going back almost 40 years) but with the growth of licensed and genre-based collectibles, we saw the need to bring them all under one umbrella – hence, Hero Collector was born. Since that time, it’s become the dominant part of our business, so it made sense to embrace the brand fully and promote it more as its own entity – especially as we try to spread the word at a retail level. Hero Collector speaks a little more to who we are, exemplified by our recent tagline: ‘We’re fans, just like you!’ What that means in practical terms, and what makes us different, is the level of detail that goes into everything we make; not just the collectibles, but also the accompanying magazines that lend valuable insights to the property at hand. Whether it’s a Harry Potter figurine or classic Star Trek starship, we’re creating artefacts for adult collectors at prices that

won’t break the bank; while still offering something higher-end (such as our line of MEGA statues and XL ships) for those who want to spend a little more.

How have you developed your line for retail in the UK? It’s very much a global strategy, so we’re looking carefully at each territory and trying to meet its specific needs. On the UK side it’s been about leaning into what we’re best known for (Marvel, Wizarding World, Star Trek, DC, Doctor Who, etc.) and presenting those lines in newer, retail-friendly packaging. That same approach has been adopted for all our new lines going forward, so you’ll see it on Rick and Morty, Sonic The Hedgehog, Space 1999, etc. Traditionally, people have had an image of Eaglemoss and the packaging, but with Hero Collector it’s a whole new ball game. We’re creating products with racking and storage firmly in mind; taking into account how they’re going look on a shelf. At this stage, some of our lines are also quite extensive, so we’re developing bespoke collections to highlight the key characters and ships,

rather than running the gamut from the most popular to the most obscure. We don’t expect our retail and distribution partners to be the experts on those things – that’s our job.

What else do you have coming up? It feels like we’re adding new licences on a weekly basis, and moving into new areas of product development to match. At the same time, we’re working hard to boost our visibility in the marketplace, hence taking the plunge this year with our first-ever Birmingham Spring Fair followed by our inaugural appearance at New York Toy Fair. In addition to seeing us in new places and featuring more heavily in mainstream news (check out the announcement of our new Space 1999 ship on The Hollywood Reporter), we’re expanding into new genres such as video games, anime and horror. We’re looking at how we can better serve our retail partners, in terms of our products and how they’re marketed to the wider world, as well as building on our existing strengths to make the most of what we already do well.

Magformers 01270 446250 | www.magformers.co.uk Magformers has introduced a range of pocket money collectible sets. MagBuddies consists of four mini sets pre-packed for retailers in a counter-top display of 12. Each set contains five pieces: a Magformers square, character and accessories so children can create a standalone Magformers mini-world or integrate it with their existing Magformers collections. All the MagBuddy sets are inter-changeable and are compatible with all other lager Magformers sets, making them an ideal addon or impulse buy. Four characters in the first series include Max, Maggy, Milo the dog and Minibot the robot characters. The four new characters allow existing fans of the brand to enjoy fun roleplay with Magformers without necessarily having to upscale to a larger set. The new range is also ideal for retailers looking for a cost-effective way to introduce Magformers to their customers. The MagBuddy cardboard display measures 530mm wide and can be sited on a bay shelf, countertop or at the till point.

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NEW

EW

SERIES TWO

N

w e N l l A #hairdorables hairdorables.com

FULLY POSEABLE

Fashion Dolls

TV, DIGITAL & INFLUENCER MARKETING CAMPAIGNS

© 2020 Just Play LLC.


Pocket Money Toys & Collectibles

Vivid 01483 449944 | www.vividtoysandgames.co.uk

Mattel 01628 500 000 | www.mattel.com Mattel presents an impressive range of pocket money and collectible toys in 2020, including Hot Wheels diecast which has new cars to collect in every mix. In 2020, Hot Wheels introduces new gaming-themed designs, including Super Mario, Street fighter, Minecraft and Overwatch. Also available is The Monster Truck 1:64 scale Truck range built for head to head crash battles. With 50+ different truck characters to collect, each car now comes with a Hot Wheels crushed car. The Thomas & Friends TrackMaster and Minis range inspires pre-schoolers to embark on a global journey of adventure and discovery with an extensive range of collectible engines. TrackMaster offers Large and Small Push Along Engine Assortments that help to stimulate children’s imaginations. New from Minis is the celebratory Diamond Anniversary Thomas push-along, die-cast engine, featuring a shiny blue body and sparkly wheels. Pre-schoolers can also bring to life the classic episode, ‘Calling All Engines!’ with the new Paint Splat Thomas and enjoy train play with beloved characters Seaweed Salty and Toby. Polly Pocket introduces ‘Tiny Fun in the Sun’, an all new theme which includes Popsicle Cruise, Ladybug Garden, Owl Camping and Cactus Ranch. The Polly Pocket Large Wearable Compact Assortments each open to reveal a theme. Kids can choose from Pineapple or Rainbow; each compact has two micro dolls, eight fun features and two accessories. An attachable strap means the compact can be carried as a handbag. Cloudees is a brand-new collectible that lets kids discover a surprise pet in a soft cloud they create. They just add water to the large cloud case and shake to create a fluffy cloud substance that reveals the Cloudees character and six surprises inside. The Cloudees characters come from a weather themed land, and for every Cloudees pets there's a matching Cloudees Minis pet. There are 28 to collect in series one. Fisher-Price character brand, Shimmer & Shine, introduces preschoolers to magical, genie adventures. Little genies can now show off their bling with Teenie Genies rings, which features a genie hiding inside. There are over 150 genies to collect in various fun themes.

As Ryan World’s success continues to grow, the UK reported that the brand reached the number one spot in the Top New Properties Chart. Vivid is committed to replicate the US success distributing and marketing a top class range from Bonkers, Headstart, Far Out Toys and Beverly Hills Toy Company from the start of 2019. The 2020 range continues to innovate; The Secret Agent Ryan’s Mystery Mission Case delivers on the popular Spy theme and includes a code breaker, secret agent goggles, two communicator watches, flashlight and five exclusive figures. The Build a Ryan Toolbox also offers hours of role play fun as Ryan fans unlock all the mystery compartments to play with figures, hand tools, vehicles and putty. The company is also launching two new scales, the first under Ryan’s Microverse with new blind bag figure packs, five packs and a Micro Figure Egg Playset. The second new scale is a 6” Mega Mystery Figure in unique packaging.

Hexbug 01925 454 093 | www.hexbug.com This year sees the launch of a brand new Hexbug nano, adding to the range of micro-robotic toys from Hexbug. The Hexbug nano Flash is the fastest nano ever launched, reaching record speeds thanks to the power of vibration technology. Unlike other Hexbug nanos, the Hexbug nano Flash has been redesigned with a longer body, enabling it to navigate more surfaces than before, as well as having different coloured flashing LED neon lights which illuminate the nano underneath as it speeds along. Colours include green, orange, purple, red and blue. The new Hexbug nano Flash environment features cool neon styling and colours that can be connected together to create unique pathways for the nanos to explore; the only limit is a child’s imagination. The environment also includes rubberised walls which enable children to create a perimeter around the nano’s obstacle course, encouraging more play possibilities while allowing children to use different elements to create a habitat of their own design. Launching in Q3, the Hexbug nano Flash can be played with alongside other nanos and Hexbug habitats, allowing children to build different playsets for hours of interactive fun.

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Pocket Money Toys & Collectibles

Tomy 01271 336 155 | www.tomy.com

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

Drumond Park Mini Games are being refreshed for 2020. Families can now take their favourite games, that they love playing at home, on the go; the games are a great distraction for car journeys and the perfect hand luggage size for flying. The Mini Games range is made up of Articulate! Mini; Articulate! For Kids Mini; The Logo Board Game Mini; Rapidough Mini; Best of TV & Movies Mini and Best of British Mini. At a low price point, the games are ideal pocket money treats. Tomy’s collectible offering is expanding with its new Impulse range. The collectible, buildable figures, vehicles and keychains feature a selection of the most popular characters from evergreen licences, such as Super Mario, My Hero Academia, Zelda and Animal Crossing.

Playmobil has confirmed a fresh new concept for 2020, building up a digital and real-world universe targeting the collectibles market. EverDreamerz will provide a new way for young adventurers to immerse themselves in creative storytelling, in a universe built around the power of friendship and aspirational dream worlds. Viola, Rosalee, Clare, Starleen and Edwina are five best friends who discover a magical amulet which allows them to enter their dream worlds and meet new friends along the way. Each box comes with collectible cards, bracelet, beads, charms and accessories, as well as stickers to complete a free sticker booklet, making the unboxing part of the playtime experience. The first series sees the five friends venture to Rosalee’s colourful Candy World dreamscape, where the evil Lady Nightmare tries to turn the girls’ dreams into nightmares. As the power of friendship unites them, they go on to meet a variety of unique supporting characters along the way, found in the EverDreamerz Series One Figures. Each of the surprise boxes comes with five individual accessories. There are twelve additional characters to collect, from Mrs Milkshake to Mr Cookie Bear, Kimby to Karmela. There is also the ultra-rare Balloon Lady and her Golden Muffin charm to look out for. Series Two, set to release later in 2020, will focus on Edwina’s dream world, Comic City, where everything can be both drawn and erased. After all colour is removed from the world, the five friends team up with the unique characters they meet along the way to restore the colour, with a second set of surprise figures being released along with the main characters. The EverDreamerz range, which is suitable for ages seven plus, is available now with a second series launching later in the year.

Magic Box 01403 251 286 | www.magicboxint.com SuperZings Series Five maintains the popular hero vs villain format of the previous series, using everyday objects and food as collectible characters. The SuperZings have been given Flying Powers for the new series and there 80 new characters to collect, as well as rare and ultra-rare Kid Fury. The range now includes Aerowagons and Skyracers, the chosen modes of transport for the new characters, of which there are eight of each to collect that can all be joined together. The great value £5 starter pack continues for Series Five, including exclusive items and a collectible keyring, while the £5 Megapack is a great money saver, offering four characters and an Aerowagon. Playsets for Series Five include Bank Assault with a fun ‘detonating’ safe, and two vehicles which shoot weapons, as well as a Fire Strike firefighter playset which includes vehicles, ‘fire ‘and ‘water’. The ever popular four and ten pack blister formats will also continue. MojiPops Party Series is a brand-new collection of 90+ characters designed within different themes – Gardeners, Foodies, Fruttis, Homies, Cuties and Crafties, all with a special finish in either gold, pearl or glitter. There are also six pearlised characters and the exclusive and a rare Poppy The Celebrity figure. To add to the Party collection, several playsets are available; the 12 Club Room Sets for each theme have interchangeable speech bubbles. Club House Sets are six themed houses which can be opened out to create a dancefloor for MojiPops, and each themed Club House can be stacked together to create the ultimate Moji Club. The I Love playsets see new themes added for 2020 including an I Love Food Truck and the I Love Sunny Beach. Value packs also continue with a £5 Megapack, a £5 Starter pack with an activity guide, and blister packs containing exclusive characters.

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Brainstorm 01200 445 113 | www.brainstormltd.co.uk Eugy exceeded sales expectations in 2019 and the range has been extended further to include new lines including Sloth, Hump-back Whale, Tiger, Mermaid, Giraffe and more. Children can create 3D characters using a simple number sequence with decorated sustainable card and non-toxic glue. Eugy is a collection that ticks all the boxes for retailers, being a perfect pocket money price point, eco-friendly and with bespoke POS to display the products freestanding or onshelf. There are currently 20 different Eugy creatures to collect, with more being added later in the year. The StikBot pocket money line provides endless play possibilities, from imaginative play to creating stop-frame animations. KlikBots will join the collection this year; a new generation of StikBot which comes with interchangeable pieces and articulated limbs and accessories. The characters are called Minions and include Klonk, Thud and Slink. Available in summer 2020, the single figure sets each feature a KlikBot Minion, plus battle armour. The Original Glowstars Company has evolved hugely since its inception with more innovative products added every year. This year sees the introduction of Glow-in-the-Dark Colour Pens, which make great impulse and party bag purchases. Each set features three different coloured pens that can be used for all sorts of arts and crafts projects, adding glow-in-the-dark colour features to all kinds of different media. Kids simply squeeze the 10ml pens, draw and leave to dry. Children can create their own dinosaur figures that glow in the dark, illuminating their bedrooms. The Glow-in-the-Dark Dinos Skeleton range includes Triceratops, T-Rex and Stegosaurus, which each come in the form of 10 or more dino parts for children to build. The skeletons are sturdy enough to display and come with fun dinosaur facts to teach children about their skeleton. Also new for 2020 is the Glow Stars & Mermaids set, which includes high quality, glow-in-the-dark glitter stars and mermaids to create beautifully decorated ceilings and walls.

Wow! Stuff 01902 390 428 | www.wowstuff.com Wow! Stuff has recently launched a new collectible for young fans of character brands that is brought to life with light. Wow! Pods features a unique ‘Swipe to Light’ function which reveals a mystery image either on the character or on the inside of its pod. The pods also incorporate a smart interlocking system that allows kids to construct incredible displays of their collection. Wow! Pods are targeted for children and tweens aged 5-15 who are fans of character brands from the media they follow and the characters they enjoy. Whether it’s a Netflix series, or a major Hollywood franchise brand, there will be a Wow! Pod with a mystery light reveal that fans can collect and connect, to then display in an imaginative way. Each character lives in their hex-shaped pod with built in UV lights. Kids simply swipe to light their Wow! Pod using their hand. They will then see their chosen character, along with a hidden mystery feature or image, instantly revealed with light. The Wow! Pods can quickly be connected and arranged into a unique design, with the size and shape of a display only limited by the imagination. Kids can create a wall of Wow! Pods, or start smaller and build over time, or even create their initials with the pods.

Character Options 01616 339 800 | www.character-online.com The Heroes of Goo Jit Zu ninja warrior heroes have unique powers and different goo-fillings which have made them an ideal collectible in the boy’s market. 2020 has already seen the launch of the Heroes of Goo Jit Zu Marvel range. These superheroes are each filled with a different coloured goo and compound. From spiderweb filled Spider-Man to water bead filled Hulk, each hero has a unique goo filling with a different texture and feel. There are four Marvel Superheroes to collect in series one: Iron Man, Captain America, The Hulk and Spider-Man. As summer approaches, season two of the core collection will launch bringing even more characters into the squad. The ninja warrior team has acquired weaponised arms, armour suits and a special Aqua Blast feature adding to the battle play. The original squad, Blazagon, Pantaro and Thrash will be joined by new Heroes Reptaur, Gigatusk, Redback and the ultra-rare three headed Hydra. The range will also include a special Versus pack with exclusive golden slime filled heroes and villains Rock Jaw and Batter. The Heroes of Goo Jit Zu will benefit from a year-round multi-platform marketing drive including high impact TV, digital campaigns, mobile gaming and innovative influencer activations. Little Live Pets also has a wide range of collectible choice for the second half of 2020 to look forward to. In the core small pets’ range, new birds, as well as turtles and new butterflies will join the collection. Also new is the Little Live Pets Lil’ Dippers. These goldfish friends, with a true-to-life swimming movement, swim from the packaging as they are dipped into water.

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For more information contact Laura Bull - UK & Ireland Sales Manager l.bull@magicboxint.com - 07748 140700


Pocket Money Toys & Collectibles

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

Zuru 01604 401 719 | sales@geemac.biz A new wave of 5 Surprise blind collectible capsules hits the UK market for 2020. Brand new Dino Strike includes 13 dinos to collect and battle, each with customised accessories. Available this spring, a second series is planned for launch during the Q3 period. 5 Surprise Unicorn Squad launched in the autumn of 2019 and has received double the orders of all previous lines. With Unicorns Series 2 (Glitter) on shelves in spring, a further two waves have been planned for staggered launches throughout the year. Both Dino and Unicorn themes bring a host of surprise toys and super rare character figures to collect. 5 Surprise Mini Brands will also be available in the UK from autumn 2020 following the line’s hit launch in the US market last year. The Smashers Dino line and new Epic Dino Egg will continue to be a focus throughout the first half of the year. The Epic Dino Egg has introduced a new way to play for the Smashers brand, retaining the smash open element but with the added element of an engaging unboxing and construction experience. Each egg holds over 20 surprises for children to uncover an exclusive Smash-O-Saur Dino. All the Smash-O-Saurs bones are hidden within different compounds, which children need to excavate from putty, slime, fizzing volcanos and dino dirt before constructing the epic Smash-O-Saur. With three to collect, each Epic Dino Egg also includes six Smash Egg Smashballs, digging tool, scratch-map and Smash Egg rebuilder. A new ice-age themed trio of Dino-Thaw Epic Eggs will launch in July and take children on a journey across the Arctic Tundra in a search to find frozen dino fossils. Cotton Candy Cuties offer soft and fluffy scented cotton candy foam with a surprise squishy cutie inside. Series two introduces a new Glitter Sparkle line which includes four new colours and six new squishy surprises.

Playfoam is an innovative, high quality reusable compound that offers consumers a long-lasting sensory sculpting toy that isn’t sticky and doesn’t dry out. The brand lends itself to the bricks-andmortar retail environment; distinguished by its brightly coloured packaging and display units that make it easy for retailers to create and merchandise eye-catching Playfoam Zone displays in-store. The bright colours have instant shelf appeal, and the peekaboo windows and transparent packaging elements allow shoppers to see the product features. To appeal to young shoppers, the brand offers several SKUS at pocket money-friendly price points. The Playfoam Pals range combines Playfoam with collectibles, two key toy categories. Each year, Learning Resources releases new series within the range. For the first half of this year, the company will focus on Playfoam Pals Unicorn Magic. Unicorns remain a key trend in toys and collectibles, and the series comes in a rainbow-shaped pod with a locket and unicorn-themed character, with 45 unique characters to collect. Playfoam Pluffle launched in the compounds category in late 2019. Where Playfoam is about construction, Playfoam Pluffle is about deconstruction. It’s designed for sensory, tactile play - when kids squish a handful of Playfoam Pluffle and then release it, it has a mesmerising lava-like flowing action. This non-sticky, non-drying compound comes in six bright colours and is packaged in a transparent tube, so consumers can see the flow when browsing products in store. The tactile, sensory nature of Playfoam Pluffle lends itself to interactive in-store displays and demonstrations, and it appeals to a wide age group. To promote the brand, Learning Resources offers retailers ongoing merchandising and display support, and continues to market Playfoam through online and offline targeted campaigns.

Epoch Making Toys 08435 574 062 | www.sylvanianfamilies.com Sylvanian Families, the evergreen brand from Epoch Making Toys, continues to add to the collectibles sector with the new Baby Party Series Collectible Bags. Tapping into the continued consumer demand for surprise products, there are eight baby figures to collect, all with a party themed accessory, including a birthday cake, musical instruments and party games. A mystery ninth figure is also available. Tying in with the newly launched Family Adventure range, a Baby Camping Series will also be released in autumn/winter. The new range reflects the brand’s core values of wholesome family fun, love of nature and outdoor adventure, as showcased in the Camping Series. The eight baby figures and a surprise ninth figure all feature a camping themed accessory, such as a log fire, cooking equipment, binoculars and lantern. The aim is to immerse collectors in the idyllic, nature-themed world of Sylvanian Families. Items from the collectible series make ideal pocket money buys for core fans as well as younger children discovering Sylvanian Families for the first time.

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Pocket Money Toys & Collectibles

Spin Master 01628 535 000 | www.spinmastertoys.co.uk The four inch Batman Mission Figures collection includes Batman, The Joker and Robin. Each box contains a collector card and three mystery accessories hidden in compartments including gauntlets, shields, blasters and more, plus one Batgear accessory in every pack. Each figure comes with a collector’s guide. Following its 10th Anniversary relaunch last year, the collectible Bakugan Battle Planet toy line continues to grow this season. Innovative, marble-like balls instantly transform into multiple collectible characters when rolled over a magnetic card. New to the collection is the Deluxe Battle Brawlers Card Collection. Stacked with Action, Evo, Hero and Flip cards, plus one jumbo-sized foil Collector Card, Kids can battle or trade with friends to create the perfect deck. Also new are the Bakugan Battle Brawlers Booster Packs, filled with 10 collectible trading cards. Packs include an assortment of Action, Evo, Flip and Hero cards, plus two rare cards, one holographic foil card and one Super Rare, Awesome Rare or Bakugan Elite card. The Unicorns of Uni-Verse is an unboxing collectible with a surprise unicorn hidden inside every Uni-Verse cloud. Once the cloud is dissolved in warm water, the water will change colour and turn into a slimy texture. It reveals a unicorn figure, plus two accessories and a unicorn Toot or Tear-shaped friend. There are over 40 Uni-Verse unicorns to collect, each with a scratch-off bio card and a collector poster. New Hatchimals Pixies are 6.4cm Vacay Style collectible dolls. The Pixies are dressed in outfits inspired by their locations. Glittery suitcases open to discover a Pixie plus one surprise accessory, plus a display stand and themed stickers to decorate the suitcase. Two more mystery accessories can be found in the Pixie’s carry-ons. There is also a chance to find an exclusive stowaway Hatchimal inside. A new season of Pet Obsessed Hatchipets is also launching. New to the Candylocks range is Candylocks Pets; scented collectible surprise pets with hair that resembles cotton candy. Collectors can find unicorns, llamas, dogs, cats, foxes and more. There are over 20 Candylocks Pets to collect, including one ultra-rare, each with a different scent, name and tropical treats theme. The official 1:64 scale die-cast Monster Jam monster truck features official BKT Tyres, stylised chrome rims and an authentic chassis with chrome detailing. It also comes complete with a driver and a collectible Monster Jam VIP wristband. Fans can keep track of their collection with the exclusive collector’s poster. Spin Master will support these new lines with TV advertising, digital, PR, experiential, sampling and social campaigns.

H Grossman 0141 613 2525 | www.hgltoys.com Go Flo Bucket is a combination of the latest flowing foam which has a life of its own. Flowing through fingers and moving slowly along, the foam looks like it is alive, and the melting texture will excite both children and adults alike. The Go Flo Bucket comes in different sizes and is just one of the latest additions to the pocket money line from Grossman. Multi-coloured putty in a mega pot is also on offer; retailing at under five pounds, it makes an ideal pocket money purchase. Wonderbounce Putty is also new to the Grossman line up. The putty rolls up into a ball with mega bounce and is available in different sizes. Grossman’s slime and putty range has everything from Planet Putty, glow in the dark, glitter and rainbows to Mermaid, Flamingo, Shark and the best-selling Unicorn Poo. This year Sloth Poo has also been added. The Grow range sees eggs immersed in water hatch to reveal their contents. Grow Aliens, Dinosaurs, Mermaids, Flamingos and Unicorns have all been a success and this year a Penguin egg and a large growing Mermaid will join the range. New pocket money introduction the Flash Sloth is a fun, on-trend bath time item.

Funrise 01908 555 640 | www.funrise.com Bright Fairy Friends (BFF) delivers a unique magical light up experience and lots of hidden surprises. Each 6” doll is packaged in an on-trend mason jar which doubles as her fairy home and lights up when motion is detected. With 12 to collect, each jar is an all-in-one fairy home and room light and includes multiple surprise accessories for a child and doll including stickers, hair-clips and a miniature hairbrush. The Fart Ninjas collectible range is ideal for kids who enjoy pranking their friends and family. Launched in autumn 2019, the Fart Ninjas range has achieved millions of views across YouTube and now there are new ninjas to find, with 36 to collect through 2020. Along with the latest Single Pack Ninjas, the all new Fart Ninjas Fart Grenades collection sees kids pull the keychain pin and roll the grenade into action for a stealth fart, or press the button for on demand toots. For more information on these collectible ranges, email salesUK@funrise.com

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Skyrocket 01489 668441 | www.skyrocketon.com Skyrocket Toys has announced the launch of a new range of collectibles from Blume World. The cute Blume Baby Pops are presented in a flowerpot with either a Blume baby or an accessory hidden under every sprout. Each product delivers value for money by offering many different ways to extend play value. Kids simply pull each sprout from its flowerpot, hear the distinctive “pop” sound and discover whether there is a baby or accessory hidden beneath. At least three Blume babies are hidden in every Baby Pop, with accessories including stickers and a collectible poster. There are up to 50 babies to collect, and each comes wrapped in a removable swaddle, with a unique baby expression. The babies also have an extra special gender reveal; kids simply put them in cold water and watch their colour-changing nappy turn pink or blue. The flowerpot also opens to reveal a secret nursery playset with 25 surprises hidden inside. Decorated in one of five themes: Zoo, Woodland, Sea, Llama and Unicorn, the playset provides endless fun. Baby Pops are suitable for ages three and above. For all sales enquiries contact Amy Saunders on amys@skyrockettoys.com and visit www.BlumeDolls.co.uk for more information.

Schleich 01279 870 000 | www.schleich-s.com/en Schleich’s Eldrador Creatures themed world will be joined by new creatures from the newly created Jungle World, which is scheduled to be launched in the middle of the year. With special design and unique features, the Eldrador Creatures play figures guarantee action-packed play for children aged from 7-12. The newly created Jungle World differs greatly from the other worlds with its wild flora and toxic yellow thorns. There are three new creatures: the monster gorilla with its strong arms and sharp claws; the plant monster with two heads and its dangerous thorny whip weapon, and the jungle creature who is king of the jungle and covered in thorny vines. The fantasy range also includes the first Eldrador Mini Creatures range. Blind bagged and at pocket money prices, series one will have 17 mini creatures to collect; four from each of the worlds, plus a gold mini hero figure to hunt for. A unique stacking feature can be used in game play, plus the creatures are joined by a range of Eldrador Robots which can be combined with the mini figures to make ultimate battling warriors. Fans can also check out the Eldrador dedicated microsite at www. eldrador.com. For more information about Eldrador and the new Mini Creatures collectibles, email Schleich@ Schleich-s.co.uk

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Topps 01908 800100 | www.topps.com Following on from the success of I Love Llamas, Topps is launching a further new collectible range involving sloths. I Love Sloths features 14 fuzzy Sloths, each with a sweet scent and a sticker sheet. The Sloths are packaged in recyclable material and the collection includes two special limited editions for collectors to find. At a low price point, these characters are perfect for pocket money purchases. Football fans have been eagerly awaiting the launch of Match Attax Extra, available from Topps now. Match Attax Extra is a follow-up edition to the main card launch and includes extra cards and extra gameplay. The new edition features squad updates, Flashback cards, new 100 club and limited edition cards. For the latest updates on all Topps collectibles, search ToppsUK on Twitter and Instagram or visit the Facebook page.


Pocket Money Toys & Collectibles

MGA Entertainment 0845 0533 333 | www.mgae.com

Tobar 01603 397105 | www.tobar.co.uk The collectibles category is getting a huge boost this year with the addition of Tobar’s wooden toys range, many of which fall into the pocket money price range. The new collection includes slide whistles in the shape of unicorns and dragons, yo-yos and spinning tops, as well as pull back toys - and ever-popular push base toys are back. These lines are joined by finger puppets, flexible wooden jointed monsters, ballerinas, robots and a worm. With rainbows remaining a popular theme, Tobar’s range includes pom pom pens, slime and putty, snap bracelets, rings, hair slides and bows. Unicorns are represented in the form of finger puppets; fizzers and balloon balls, plus a brand new Jellyball; pens; keyrings and pencils. The range continues to include popular creatures such as flamingos and llamacorns, mermaids, sharks, dinosaurs and sloths. Nee Doh from Schylling continues to be a bestseller, with a full range of stress relieving, squeezable Groovy Globs; Tobar is the exclusive UK distributor for this line. Tobar’s new mutli-coloured Squiggle Bandz can be worn as bracelets or knotted together. When not stretched, they form a squiggly animal shape. Available in an assorted CDU and in neon, glitter and glow in the dark options, Squiggle bandz are set to a be a playground favourite. Embryonics is a brand-new collectible fusion of alien and slime, another playground craze in the making. There are six coloured eggs to collect, each with one of six named aliens in three different colours: 18 permutations in all. The enticing packaging has a heat reveal sticker on the front. Each Alien has its own story and the Embryonics family will continue to grow throughout the year.

DKL Beysal 01604 678 780 www.dkl.co.uk DKL-Beysal’s new lines for 2020 include Mini Whinnies Unicorns, the latest creation from Breyer Model Horses. Exclusively distributed in the UK by DKLBeysal, the new blind bag collectible allows unicorn lovers to collect eight different styles. One of every two CDU of 48 also includes the highly desirable golden chase piece. The collection allows retailers to maximise sales in the pocket money and collectibles sector as well as combine unique selling points with all important longevity.

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MGA Entertainment has new launches for the collectibles market from L.O.L. Surprise! and Poopsie Slime Surprise. The new L.O.L. Surprise! Lights series includes L.O.L. Surprise! Lights Pets, L.O.L. Surprise! Lights Glitter and L.O.L. Surprise! O.M.G. Lights Fashion Dolls. Refreshing the unboxing experience, kids simply use the included black light to reveal glowing, neon surprises. The new L.O.L. Surprise! Pets have extra-long removable fur and showstopping hairstyles. Kids remove the fur piece by piece to reveal which pet is hidden underneath and reapply it to create a unique style. They can shine the black light to reveal more surprises on any of the 12 L.O.L. Surprise! Pets. The L.O.L. Surprise! Lights Glitter range brings bright and bold looks to the neon catwalk. Each doll can be bathed or fed for a water surprise and colour transformation, and there are 12 brand new Lights Glitter characters to collect. Each one comes with eight surprises, including an outfit, fashion accessories and black light. Offering fans 15 surprises to unbox, each of the L.O.L. Surprise! O.M.G. Lights Fashion Dolls is a big sister to fan favourite L.O.L. Surprise! characters. Complete with beautiful hair and blacklight neon fashions, each character has its own individual style. Fans can now collect all four new characters; Groovy Babe, big sister for Beatnik Babe; Speedster, for Drag Racer; Dazzle, for Glitter Queen; and Angles, for Shapes. Rainbow Surprise by Poopsie is kicking off 2020 with more surprises to collect. Rainbow Surprise Fantasy Friends spit slime and spray glitter when fed water. There are 16 characters to collect and the perfume bottle package also sprays glitter, adding an extra sparkle to the unique slime. Fans can unbox over 10 surprises and create DIY slime makeup with Rainbow Surprise Makeup Surprise. Mixing the slime powder will create white slime, whilst the eyeshadow and lip gloss can be added to inject colour. Children can use the eyeshadow and lip gloss themselves. Scented pearls filled with colourful glitter add a surprise scent to the slime, and the stylish lipstick package can be used to store the slime for on the go.


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Pocket Money Toys & Collectibles

Moose Toys +441637 882200 | www.moosetoys.com

Bandai 020 8324 6160 | www.bandai.co.uk For 2020, Bandai UK unveils new ranges and extensions to its best-selling brands with a host of affordable lines. Bananas continues to grow with a wave of new series planned to launch throughout the year. The peelable, collectible fruits include Bananas bunches and singles with new Crushie collectible characters to collect and wear. Themes for 2020 include the Selfie series and all new Huggers, with new Hugger Crushies, collectors peel to reveal a mask, stickers and collector sheet. A triple pack of Baby Bananas, complete with baby Crushies has also been developed to further extend range appeal. Yolkies hit shelves in February and is currently proving a hit with children and Gen Z audiences following a Tik Tok campaign with high profile talent from the platform. Combining edible slime with collectible surprise toys encased in mystery eggs, Yolkies captures popular trends while bringing a delicious extra and additional play value. With 12 egg characters to collect in each series range, the edible sugar-free slime egg will be available in additional flavours as the line grows. With Dragon Ball a global focus for Bandai, the company’s brand portfolio includes lines appealing to both the anime collector and a new generation of fans. An entry price point of RRP £2.99 for the Foil Bag Figures offers an affordable option to kickstart collections. There are 10 Dragon Ball Super characters to collect within the assortment, and each comes with a stand for displaying the surprise figure. Pocket Titans bring Battlebot playsets to the collectibles market and the range has been designed to connect, collect, and combine. Each figure is blind packaged in a Cube which doubles as a buildable battle base for extended play - and to minimise waste. Each Cube contains one of the 12 collectible robots in Series One to construct, and comes with water decals, stickers, weapon, and bio card. World’s Smallest is a collection of some of the world’s most recognisable and classic toys recreated in miniature. Tapping into the on-going trend surrounding retro and nostalgia toys, the collection includes fully working smallscale versions of Etch-a-Sketch, Chatter Telephone, Rubik’s Cube, Stretch Armstrong, Action Man, and Hot Wheels. The collectibles are a favourite with adults and children alike. Six new collectible characters have been added to the squishy plush range, Squishimals, and are available at either 10cm, 20cm or 32cm. Aimed at girls aged 4-9, the range features high-quality material to provide the cuddliest of squishy collectibles.

Moose Toys continues to innovate in the collectibles aisle with the launch of a new range, inspired by the online social language of gifs. Oh! My Gif brings the world of digital gifs to life through a range of collectible characters, packed full of funny, surprise movements and unique messages. The characters, known as GIFbits, physically replicate the looping movement of some of the most popular gifs on the web. Kids can twist, turn, push and pull their GIFbit to bring it to life and reveal its popular internet feel. Each GIFbit comes in a blind box and is revealed once the packaging is opened. The packaging then converts into a photographic backdrop, becoming an extension of the play pattern. Each Oh! My Gif pack also contains an augmented reality card which kids can scan using the exclusive Oh! My Gif mobile app – unlocking a digital version of their GIFbit. Along with the physical versions, these can then be collected and shared with friends and family. With over 60 characters to collect across series one and two in both physical and digital form, Oh! My Gif is designed to be an instinctively collectible range. There are six different teams including #Besties, #Fail and #Supp, with rare and ultra-rare GIFbits, plus the limited-edition light up #OmgOmg Lazer Catly character. To help bring the range to life in store, Moose has also created a unique, theatrical FSDU for retailers, which features a ‘try me’ function for customers to experience the looping movements first-hand, whilst offering a free AR scan on the front of the unit to unlock an exclusive character to download. Oh! My Gif is available in both a single blind pack and a three pack with one blind GIFbit. Aimed at kids aged 6-10, the new range will be available from May 2020.

Flair 020 8643 0320 | www.flairplc.co.uk Flair offers a wide variety of collectible brands, including Shopkins and new concept I Dig Monsters. Launching in autumn, I Dig Monsters is inspired by the social media ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) craze. Central to the collection are a squad of charismatic Vinyl Monsters that can only be revealed by carving them out of the cold-to-touch compound surrounding them. Each unit is presented as an ice lolly which must be scraped, grated or carved to reveal one of 28 Monji Monsters to collect in Series One. Each Monji figure has a degree of rarity, but there are also ultra-rare and limitededition designs to collect. A temperature activated colour change feature will add to the opportunity to deliver this cool, sensory-based unboxing experience. Also available will be larger I Dig Monsters packs, which not only have the collectible to discover, but an additional cute plush Monji Monster too. Shopkins next Real Littles season this spring will introduce the Icy Treats. Real brands of choc ices and popsicles will join the crew, wrapped in authentic packaging. New to the brand is the very first melt-away packaging; each two-pack comes in an ice bag. Kids pop it into water to watch it melt and reveal the Shopkins inside. The two-packs will be ideal to start any collection, while the Stacey Cakes and Icy Treats Scooter Pack will be the hero item. The exclusive Shoppie Doll is ready to deliver her treats on the instantly recognisable Walls brands scooter. For more information about these and other pocket money collectibles email sales@flairplc.co.uk.

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Designed to provide fans of entertainment brands with an extraordinary depth of realistic collectibles

FIGURINES • STATUES • BUSTS • SHIPS • KITS THE OFFICIAL STARSHIPS COLLECTION

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HARRY POTTER, FANTASTIC BEASTS, characters names and related indica are © & TM Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (s20)

TM & © 2020 WWE. All Rights Reserved.

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GlynnDavies@Eaglemoss.co.uk and NeelamSamplay@Eaglemoss.co.uk


Allegedly

The coronavirus outbreak has completely taken over. The phrase ‘Breaking News’ has been replaced with ‘Oh, ****, what now?’ Chris ‘Failing’ Grayling has been appointed to chair a coronavirus intelligence committee – the only time you will ever see the words ‘Chris Grayling’ and ‘intelligence’ in the same sentence (unless preceded by the words ‘distinct lack of’). A coronavirus conference has been called off due to…. you guessed it, coronavirus! UK consumers are panic-buying, with empty shelves where toilet rolls and pasta once proudly sat (although there is still brown pasta available – we’re not quite that desperate just yet). American consumers are also panic buying, although for some strange reason, in their case it is guns & ammunition. However, some things don’t change - Groupon is still sending an email every 30 minutes, offering me a very reasonably priced Italian meal for two (even though the Prime Minister has ‘advised’ me to avoid such indulgences). As a result of this unique situation, this month’s Allegedly has been renamed ‘coronavirus update’…. The past month has seen the postponement or cancellation of numerous trade shows across the globe: Las Vegas Licensing Expo, video game show E3, the Canton Toy Fair, MIPTV in Cannes, Bologna Book Fair, London Book Fair, Paperworld Middle East in Dubai, Shop World in Las Vegas, the Harrogate Nursery Fair…. all gone. Who will ultimately pay for these costly no-shows, especially the last-minute cancellations? Stand fees will surely have been paid months ago. Insurance companies must be very nervous, although it is not at all clear whether claims based on pandemics will be honoured… It's not just one-off events which are being affected; so many traditional working and social activities are being curtailed. Mattel, Hasbro, Moose and many other toy companies have shut their UK offices in recent weeks: no-one has been tested positive at any of these companies, they are purely precautionary measures and apparently everyone is set up to work remotely. The Italian government has gone several steps further and ordered all shops to close for the next month unless they are selling essential items (pharmacies and food stores basically). This will certainly skew the NPD market share data for the foreseeable future: it will be great news for those suppliers which have a strong presence in the grocers, not such good news for those who trade predominantly with the specialists… Then there is the hokey-cokey currently taking place amongst the major Hollywood film studios. A quick recap for those who may have missed it: James Bond has moved its release date back from April to November; Universal’s Trolls World Tour nipped in and nicked James Bond’s slot, giving licensees and retailers an extra week’s Easter trading, at which point Peter Rabbit threw his carrots out of the basket, postponing the launch of his second movie outing to August, leaving licensees and retailers hopping mad (sorry, I couldn’t resist that). Universal went a step further, announcing that it would be making Trolls World Tour available to download on the same day that it hits cinemas (10th April) – at least, those cinemas which remain open. This is a bold move which will potentially divide opinion in the cinematic world, but one will be hugely welcomed by toy licensees and retailers…

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Consider, too, just some of the potential knock on effects of the current situation: can it really be true that some Chinese factories are already taking the ‘opportunity’ to renegotiate pricing in the wake of a growing backlog? Will toy companies be prepared to commit to TV and other marketing campaigns while uncertainty surrounds product availability? Then there is the licensing angle – I have had several licensees raise the question as to whether licensors will be prepared to reduce minimum guarantee commitments or add time to licensing agreements to take prevailing conditions into account. As one licensee commented: “This situation is unprecedented – now we’ll find out which licensors truly believe in the word ‘partnership’…” Wilko has shown wilful disregard for these troubling times by deciding to reduce sick pay for its staff rather than increase provision for it. Effectively, the new rules – which come into force on April 1st (but are very far from being a joke) - will mean that if a Wilko employee is ill more than once in a year, they will not be paid beyond the statutory minimum wage of £94 per week. This, in turn, will surely discourage staff from taking time off, even if they suspect they might be ill – I shall certainly be looking for somewhere else to buy my deodorant, printer paper and largely uninspiring own-brand toys in future… Disney Stores across the UK have closed due to the outbreak, with a notice posted in store windows stating the closure is to ensure the health and safety of guests and staff. The notice says the closures are temporary, with no re-opening date given. Disney Stores also said: “We apologise for any inconvenience caused. Our products will continue to be available on the website.” Meanwhile, FAO Schwarz has also temporarily closed its flagship toy store in New York City until 30th March, although it will continue to trade online, offering home delivery… Some major retailers – including Smyths and Asda – have contacted suppliers to cancel visits to their offices, suggesting either online meetings or calls as an alternative where necessary. It is also thought that some major toy companies have placed a temporary ban on all international business travel, which is believed to apply to all employees…

If families are indeed stocking up on board games, I wonder how many will alight upon Asmodee’s highly topical game Pandemic? One individual has certainly seen the humour in the situation, judging by this doctored game card:


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Profile for TOYWORLD MAGAZINE

Toy World Magazine April 2020  

Toy World Magazine April 2020