Toy World Magazine April 2021

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April 2021 Volume 10 Issue 9


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The Team...

CONTENTS April 2021 Volume 10 Issue 9

John Baulch

87 Feature: Pre-School

46 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 07710 532 952

Anita Baulch

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

News

Regulars

Features

07 08 20 24 28 174

18 Fresh 34 Opinion: Kids Know Best 37 Talking Shop 42 NPD column 44 Letter from America 128 Touching Base

46 50 87 118 120 122 136 140 142

From the Publisher News Industry Moves Marketing World Licensing World Allegedly

Contributors The NPD Group | Mark Buschhaus | Stephen Barnes Rick Derr | Felix Lewis | Lydia Mossahebi

Feature: Games & Puzzles Company Profile: Exploding Kittens Feature: Pre-School Brand Profile: Blue’s Clues and You! Company Profile: Geomag Company Profile: OOOOO Feature: Pocket Money & Collectibles Special Feature: Zuru Special Feature: HTi

136 Feature: Pocket Money & Collectibles

122 Company Profile: OOOOO

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

Mark Crowford

Alakat Published by

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

www.toyworldmag.co.uk @toyworldmag @baulchtweet

toyworldmag

Toy World 5

Toy World Magazine

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Available August 2021

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70747 Violet Vale Magician of the plants

70748 Violet Vale Demon Catch Truck 70752 Skeleton Surprise Box - Sal‘ahari Sands sceleton warrior (Series 1)

70746 Violet Vale - Demon Portal 70745 Violet Vale - Wizard Tower

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70751 Sal‘ahari Sands Temple of the Skeleton Army


W

elcome to our largest-ever April edition of Toy World. That we have been able to put together an issue of this magnitude in the current climate is surely testament to the positivity of the toy community, and its ongoing ability to buck the prevailing retail trend. While many other retail markets have continued to struggle in the post-Christmas period, the toy market has performed well over the past few months, with product categories such as Outdoor Toys and Games & Puzzles posting strong sales outside of their traditional peak periods.

from the publisher

John Baulch - @Baulchtweet

The toy market’s encouraging start to the year should hopefully be boosted even further with the re-opening of non-essential retail stores in the next couple of weeks. We’ve spoken to both specialist buying groups Toymaster and AIS, to hear how they will be supporting their members through the reopening phase and beyond – find out more on page 12. We also caught up with a selection of indies, to hear how they’ve been preparing for April 12th – you can read their thoughts in this month’s Talking Shop section, starting on page 37. Suffice to say that there is a mixture of relief and excitement about the grand re-opening of High Street UK: obviously, toy retailers would have loved to have been open in time for Easter, but the ones we spoke to were very much adopting a ‘glass half full’ perspective – some had begun to anticipate a much later opening date, so they didn’t seem too disappointed with the eventual outcome. And at least they will be re-opening when many kids will still be on their Easter holiday break. For those toy retailers who are looking to freshen up their stock selection ahead of re-opening, we have pulled together some mightily comprehensive features this month, to provide you with plenty of inspiration for new lines to carry. Children returning to school will no doubt be a big catalyst for those categories which thrive on the concept of ‘playground currency’ – collectibles, trading cards and stickers, pocket money toys and the like – so our feature on Pocket Money & Collectibles is

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perfectly timed. We also shine a spotlight on two other massive, enduringly-successful categories this month – the Games & Puzzles sector and the PreSchool market. With so many great new lines about to be launched, there are a host of exciting options for retailers to spruce up their offering for the coming weeks and for what many are anticipating will be a bumper summer season (especially those stores in coastal or tourist destinations). While it is fantastic news that toy stores will soon open their doors again, the situation surrounding trade shows and events is slightly more complex. I believe that most of us are looking forward to the return of these industry gatherings, although It’s taken longer than most of us ever thought – who remembers discussing the ‘traditional’ January Toy Fair Season ‘21 last summer, thinking “surely it will all be over by then?” Having seen the pace at which the situation can change, it’s impossible to make any firm predictions about the time frame for events to return – however, a few notable decisions are beginning to emerge. The AIS Independent Toy & Gift show has announced that it intends to move from April to September, while Toymaster has revealed that it will not be running its show this year, and that the event will make its comeback in its traditional timeslot next May. Sad though I am that the Toy World team won’t be able to meet up with the toy community in Harrogate this year, I do think it’s the right call from Toymaster’s perspective, as you will know if you read my recent Friday Blog which explored the rationale behind the decision. Ultimately, appetite from both exhibitors and visitors is the key to when shows will be able to come back and whether they come back with a bang, or a whimper. Personally, as much as I want to be able to visit a trade show again, I think on balance that I’m happy to wait for the bang. In the meantime, I hope retailers enjoy a healthy surge of visitors when they throw open their doors to the great British public once more. Here’s to a successful re-opening, another crucial step on the road back to normality.


News The Independent Toy & Gift Show rescheduled to September the Independent Toy & Gift Show has been rescheduled from the planned date in April to 14th & 15th September 2021. Play-room, the organiser of the show, says Cranmore Park is set up in accordance with Covid secure measures and that recommended safeguards will be implemented to ensure all attendees feel confident, safe and secure. Government regulations are being monitored and the rescheduled event will be adjusted in accordance with the regulations applicable at the time of the event. The Independent Toy & Gift Show is designed with the independent retailer in mind, providing everything from bespoke offers to unique merchandising solutions, and most importantly access to the most prominent toy and children’s gift suppliers. The show attracts a wide range of professional buyers including those from department stores, toy and gift shops, garden centres and leisure attractions. The theme for 2021 is Wooden Toys, celebrating the classic play patterns and aspirational attributes of toys made of natural materials. Ravensburger is sponsoring the café and will be showcasing its popular Brio range. Hosted by Play-Room, the toy division of buying group Associated Independent Stores, the show is open to all independent toy and children’s gift buyers and is renowned for its welcoming atmosphere, along with its relaxed buying environment. Play-Room preferred suppliers will be notified in due course regarding bookings, those suppliers previously booked into the 2020 show will have first refusal of their originally reserved stand(s). Readers can register for the show at www.independenttoyandgift.co.uk/register-now

Toymaster 2021 show cancelled In an email sent out to members and suppliers, operations director and interim joint MD Yogi Parmar said: “Following the recent government announcement setting out the roadmap out of lockdown, it was clear that the Toymaster Show would not be able to take place on the original dates in May.” A survey was sent out to all members and suppliers regarding a potential alternative date at the end of August, asking if they would attend, as well as asking for any feedback. The responses of this survey showed that, whilst there were still members and suppliers who would like the show to go ahead and be able to meet up, many were still reluctant to commit at this this stage. Among the reasons given were concerns relating to safety, potential travel restrictions, the proposed dates and the added complication of the uncertainty regarding future Covid waves. As a result of this, the Toymaster board has decided that the May Show will not take place in 2021, and the next show will be at the Majestic Hotel in Harrogate May 17-19th 2022. “Whilst it is a huge disappointment to have to cancel the show, we believe it is the right decision for all involved,” said Yogi Parmar. “The Toymaster May Show is renowned within the industry, and we feel the show will be a much better success when we know all our members and suppliers are able to attend safely once again. We look forward to welcoming Toymaster members, independent retailers and suppliers back to a spectacular show in Harrogate in May 2022, and invitations for next year’s show will be sent out at the beginning of January as normal. Let’s look forward to making the 2022 show the best we possibly can.”

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News Lego posts double digit growth as families build together during lockdown Lego has posted its annual results for 2020, the strength of which will not come as a surprise to anyone in the global toy community. Sales last year grew 13% to 43.7b Danish crowns ($6.98 b), over double the 6% growth which the company posted in 2019. In addition, operating profit rose 19% to 12.9b crowns. Niels B Christiansen, CEO, said: “We are very pleased with these results. They show the timeless relevance of the Lego brick and learning through play. This performance is also a testament to the passion, creativity and resilience of our people. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, they worked tirelessly to keep the world playing.” Sales in 2020 were driven by more people of all ages building with Lego bricks, inspired by a strong portfolio which offered creativity for all ages and interests. Top themes were Lego City, Lego Technic, Lego Star Wars, Lego Friends and Lego Classic. Lego Super Mario, which uniquely blends digital and physical play, was released in August 2020 and became one of the company’s most successful theme launches. Investments in products that seamlessly blend physical and digital play continue in 2021 with the release of Lego Vidiyo. Niels B. Christiansen commented: “Covid has accelerated trends that were already in motion. More people shopped online, and we’ve seen more families at home building together. For the past two years we’ve made large-scale investments in initiatives designed to support long-term growth. In 2020, we began to see the benefits of these investments, especially in eCommerce and product innovation.” Consumer sales in all market groups grew double digits, with especially strong growth in China, the Americas, Western Europe and Asia Pacific. The firm has increased its number of physical stores by 134, including 91 new outlets in China, its biggest growth market. The company expects to open 120 stores in 2021, 80 of those in China. Lego gained around 1 percentage point of market share globally, picking up share in most of its key markets. Niels confirmed that Lego is planning to hire several hundred new employees to boost digitalisation further in 2021. While he apparently declined to say how much online sales grew last year, he confirmed that the number of visitors on Lego.com doubled to more than a quarter billion in a year. He added: “We have a solid digital foundation but must move faster. The past year has shown the importance of having an agile, responsive business built on strong digital foundations. We will further develop our capabilities in this area, so we are well positioned to meet the evolving needs of our retail partners and consumers now, and in the long term.”

BTHA welcomes Graham Canning as new chairman The BTHA committee says goodbye to outgoing chairman Andrew Laughton of MGA/Zapf, who completed his term of office on 15th March, and welcomes Graham Canning of VTech as the new chairman and Simon Pilkington of John Adams as the new vice-chairman. Graham has recently been serving as chairman of the Toy Trust Committee, the toy industry charity founded by the BTHA. Andrew’s last year in office has been a challenging one, as the pandemic took hold globally. In March last year, at the beginning of the first UK lockdown, Andrew addressed the toy industry with a message of reassurance and encouragement: “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.” The BTHA has worked tirelessly to ensure that this promise was met. Like every business, it was forced to adapt its working procedures to meet lockdown restrictions, at the same time continuing to support members with regular up to date information and advice. Joining forces with Alan Simpson, chairman of the Toy Retailers Association, Andrew wrote an impassioned open letter to the Prime Minister in November, asking him to add toy retailers to the essential retail list and allow hundreds of specialist independent toy stores to trade in the run up to Christmas. This is just one example of the many ways the BTHA has supported the UK toy industry during Andrew’s stewardship. In a statement, the BTHA said: “We will be sorry to say goodbye to Andy who has served the association so well for many years, most recently as chairman. We wish him all the very best going forward on behalf of members and are sure we will cross paths again in our friendly sector at one of our events. Thank you, Andy.”

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News Toymaster readies for retail reopening Conscious that some of its members don’t yet have a firm date for reopening, Toymaster is nonetheless doing everything it can to help them prepare for when they can welcome customers back once more. The group’s window display programme will begin again from April. Lego is the supporting supplier, kicking things off with its highly collectible new Vidiyo range. This means retailers able to open their doors from next month will be doing so with prominent displays of something completely fresh to draw in passersby off the street. Toymaster’s Spring Catalogue will also be available from for distribution to customers from early April, perfect timing for those in the first wave of reopening. Those in Northern Ireland or Scotland will also be sent theirs, ready for when they open their doors later on. The catalogue will also be hosted on the Toymaster website for those who wish to access it online. Stock availability due to Brexit and shipping disruption is an ongoing issue for some retailers - less than ideal timing when shelves need to be full to bursting with brand-new toys and games. “We’re aware that there are some gaps in stock, and what we’re urging members to do is look at what they are, and try to get orders placed ASAP if they haven’t already,” says Brian. “Behind the scenes, we’ve been compiling all the info retailers would have got from suppliers had they been able to attend toy fairs.” In the January issue of Toy World, we detailed how Toymaster had been busy collating digital catalogues, brand presentations, order forms and much more into a single area on its members’ website, resulting in a handy one-stop-shop with all the most relevant info in one place. Suppliers have been continually added since then, bringing the total to more than 50, alongside a wealth of new product information and order forms that retailers can access quickly and easily. A new media centre, meanwhile, lets them pick and choose from banners, sizzles, images and other assets that they can use on their social media platforms, some supplier-branded, some generic, which can be used to communicate with their customers. Toymaster has also been encouraging its members to communicate. As you’ll read in this issue’s Talking Shop feature, this simple piece of advice is working wonders for a number of the group’s members, who have taken to stock- and knowledge-sharing to ease carriage paid burdens and increase the variety they can offer their customers. The members’ forum, meanwhile, is awash with retailers helping each other out, a collaborative approach that benefits all involved. Due to ongoing coronavirus disruption, the 2021 Toymaster show has been cancelled. This was obviously a disappointment to the group, which had been working hard to try and secure convenient dates for its members and suppliers, but Brian is enthusiastic about the 2022 ‘comeback’ show, which promises excellent attendance and an atmosphere even more jovial than it usually is - and in the absence of the shows, Toymaster will continue pushing as much information out to its members as it possibly can. “We’re also feeling really positive about what will happen when stores reopen,” adds Brian. “When the first lockdown ended in summer 2020, we saw our members have a really good few months. Footfall may have been down, but takings were up as customers increased their average basket spend. Those people that did go out to shop also went to spend, and after all this time, shoppers are understandably keen to get back out there and see all the new toys with their own eyes before taking them to the tills.” He adds: “We obviously expect to see strong sales in Outdoor, and continued demand for games, puzzles, construction sets and crafts. We’re keeping an eye on the Pocket Money and Collectibles category; now kids are back at school, I’m sure we’ll see this sector picking up nicely.”

How Play-room is helping members prepare for reopening Play-room is doing everything it can to ensure its members are ready and able to make to the most of customers returning to stores. Rosie Marshall, head of Toys & Children’s Gifts at Play-room, takes Toy World behind the scenes as its members prepare to open their doors to customers. Throughout the pandemic, the group has been issuing a weekly newsletter containing details of the latest promotions, ‘show’ offers (even though the shows are off), and reopening deals that will help members fill their shelves – and maximise on sales. Rosie and Aimee Hill, Play-room toy selector, have also been attending virtual previews over recent weeks, and using the newsletter to communicate their expert opinions on the toy highlights they feel will best suit members. Play-room hosted a series of webinars for its members, on relevant retail topics from using social media to controlling profits and margins, and tips on post-lockdown trading. The annual bespoke range planner, called Opening the Play-room Door, will be going out to members this month bursting with information on the newest ranges available. The planner will encourage members to ‘have a dabble’, as Rosie puts it, with new lines or suppliers they haven’t worked with before. “Indies can react so quickly to the emergence of new product, so our planner will give them fresh opportunities and hopefully lead to some opportunities they perhaps haven’t considered yet,” she adds. The import programme continues, despite the ongoing challenges, and an autumn/winter import show is on the calendar. The Independent Toy & Gift Show, which Playroom organises, has been postponed till 14th-15th September due to ongoing lockdown restrictions, but demand for a return to physical shows is high and Rosie anticipates a hugely successful show (assuming the road out of lockdown is as straight as we all hope it will be). “There’s definitely an appetite from suppliers and retailers alike to get out there and see people face to face again,” she enthuses. “Virtual previews have filled the gap, but nothing replaces physical shows, and being able to touch those products. I feel confident that by the end of summer, suppliers’ confidence in placing money behind stock will be really high; staycations will boost the UK economy and a lot of disposable income will be spent on toys this year, so the September timing works really well from a trade perspective.” Rosie is also confident that 2021 will be another excellent year for the toy industry, with things ‘heading in the right direction’. “The sun has been shining, and there are much better months ahead for our members and the industry in general,” she says. “I’m really looking forward to the rest of the year, and I know our members are too, starting with welcoming customers back to their shops. We can’t wait.”

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News Andrew Laughton marks end of BTHA and MGA tenures with charity walk Andrew has been a keen supporter of the toy industry’s fundraising efforts over recent years, on both a professional and a personal level, and is now taking on an amazingly tough challenge to raise much needed funds for children and children’s charities. “As many of you are aware, I am leaving MGA and Zapf very soon and will also be finishing as BTHA Chairman,” said Andrew. “To celebrate this, I am walking from what will be my old offices in Milton Keynes to the BTHA offices in South London, following the path of the Grand Union Canal. I’ll be doing this in aid of the Toy Trust and The Fence Club equally.” With so many mass fundraising events like the BTHA Fun Day and The Fence Club Winter Ball unable to take place over the last year, opportunities for maintaining the level of contribution to charity that both organisations have previously achieved have become limited, and new ways have been sought to give support at a time when charities need it the most. “Every little helps, and as Joe Kissane is famous for saying: It’s all about the kids,“ added Andrew. “So please give what you think is worthy of a fat lad walking 110km - or possibly longer if I get lost over the three days.” Andrew hopes to catch up with everyone at the upcoming 48th Teddy Simmonds Fence Club Golf Day, which is scheduled to take place on Wednesday 23rd June 2020, at Oakdale Golf Club Harrogate. This will be the first social Fence Club occasion for 17 months and members of the toy industry are invited to either enter to play golf or just attend the evening dinner. The event is open to all, and attendees do not need to be invited by a member of the Fence Club. For more information on the Fence Club Golf Day, contact organiser Simon Anslow - simon@harrogatefair.com - or telephone 01902 882280 / 07798 737 077.

Eugy sales increase as range expands further Brainstorm is entering its third year collaborating with New Zealand manufacturer Dodoland as distributor of the popular Eugy range. Brainstorm initially launched with eight models but plans to have over 40 of the cute animal craft projects in stock ready for the second half of 2021. Eugy is an eco-friendly craft collectible that allows children to create their own 3D models using environmentally friendly, biodegradable card, each printed with natural eco-friendly inks. The simple numerical sequence assembly belies the intricate creations children can make with each kit. New models joining the collection include a Koala, Sea Otter, Ptero, Rabbit and Red Fox, to name just a few. “This brand of intelligent craft collectibles is the nicest range of products that I have ever sold,” commented Nick Saunders, sales & marketing director at Brainstorm. “When the warehouse team needs more demo models for retailers to display, my hand goes up the highest; I just love making them. I strongly believe that in Eugy, we have an evergreen brand that will run and run. Just look at the reviews. Consumers love the models, and they are very well priced for occasional gifting.” Brainstorm has plans in place to keep adding new models to the range and has even introduced a Christmas-themed collection of three festive Eugys for autumn/winter. To secure stock, retailers need to pre-order these exclusive models by the end of May. For more information on the range, visit www.brainstormltd.co.uk.

Miko to shake up world of kids’ AI with educational robot, Miko 2 Fuelled by the desire to close the gap between the effects of work-life balance and technology on children’s development, three seasoned technologists set about leveraging their extensive experience in AI, robotics and IoT, exploring the world of childhood development and education with specialists across the country. Together, they have launched Miko, a start-up propelled by a bold vision: using robotics to provide an accessible, all-round learning experience for children in India and across the globe. The company’s flagship product, Miko 2, uses playful, conversational learning to educate, engage and entertain kids. Since launching in 2015, the robot has become a trusted name among parents, educators and technologists alike, with over 75m interactions and over 2m learning sessions taking place in more than 90 countries. With more than 34 sensors, the world’s smallest Time of Flight laser-ranging module and over six content formats, Miko 2 is technologically advanced. The company’s growing team is home to leading robotics engineers, artificial intelligence and IoT innovators, psychologists, educators and content developers, all working together to explore the intersections of learning and technology. The company has a global mindset, with 130+ employees and offices in the innovation hubs of Silicon Valley and Mumbai. “As it surpasses every milestone, Miko is still driven by the same core vision - to cultivate a love for learning in children everywhere through artificial intelligence and human ingenuity,” says managing partner, Anisha Global School. “Miko 2 is a great example of how artificial intelligence can help teachers and students get more out of the evolving educational ecosystem, and is surely a significant step towards the future of the educational journey.”

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News PlanetJunko set for global expansion Following a very successful festive period, eco-friendly construction kit manufacturer PlanetJunko is investing in continued expansion into Germany. The company’s Epic Cereal Box Creations book, which comes complete with 30 ‘Magic Corners’ made from 100% recycled plastics, that kids can use to create fabulous constructions from materials found around the house, is being translated into German for release in the region in May. A move into the American market is next on the agenda, reflecting the company’s ambitious plans and outlook. “We have an exciting few months of product releases ahead of us too,” says PlanetJunko founder Pete Rope. “We’re releasing a stand-alone Junko Boat! Kit in time for the summer, so kids can get creative outside; we firmly believe that paddling pools are even better when you can design and construct your dream boat to sail in them. The kits help young creators turn juice cartons, plastic milk containers and much more into boats, and offer plenty of scope for STEM play. In addition to the creative construction journey, the rubber band drive can be experimented with – ‘hacked’, if you like - to make boats go the full length of a 2m pool. There are also lessons to be learned with weight and buoyancy. All we need is some sunshine.” Pete adds: “We consider our Magic Corners to be a must-have for every primary school, as they give kids free rein to make pretty much anything they can dream of from cereal box-type card, without having to use sticky tape or glue. With this in mind, and to bring PlanetJunko fun to more kids than ever, we are releasing our new Educational Range with bulk boxes of Magic Corners from this month too.” A young but growing brand keen to expand its awareness with mainstream audiences, PlanetJunko is kicking off PR and influencer marketing campaigns in April. Increased social media campaigns will focus on video content which brings to life the creative freedom children can enjoy with PlanetJunko kits. To find out more, contact sayhello@laserbeameyes.com or visit the website - www.planetjunko.com.

New phase of growth for Skyrocket Toys Skyrocket Toys started 2021 with the appointment of Will Stewart as the new UK general manager. Will joined from Spin Master, having also previously worked in the toy market for Green Board Games. Skyrocket is now expanding the UK team further, with the appointment of sales agents Keely Large, Kate Knight and David Livingstone. The trio will help to bolster Skyrocket’s presence across the specialist toy retail channel, supporting the growth plans for Skyrocket in the UK. Will Stewart commented: “We are excited to be working with Keely, Kate and David in our new phase of growth. We have gained good momentum over the past two years in the UK with the launch of Blume. With a number of new and exciting product launches this year, including Crystalina and Skyrocket Games, we wanted to ensure we are able to reach and partner with all of the UK toy shops. With the support of our sales and operations manager Edel Siddle, I am excited to see through this next chapter in Skyrocket’s international development.” Crystalina, an attractive range of 4-inch collectible dolls which feature power crystals and LED lights, will be launching this summer, and the company is anticipating high demand for the collection. The new games range is also poised for success and will be spearheaded by action games Avalanche and Monkey Business. For further information about Skyrocket’s new launches and plans for the coming year, retailers can contact the company on salesuk@skyrockettoys.com.

Toynamics UK & Ireland teams up with Playtime PR Following the appointment of Emma Damerell as head of Marketing last month, Toynamics UK & Ireland is further strengthening its UK marketing efforts with the hiring of award-winning communications agency, Playtime PR. As Toynamics embarks on its biggest year of growth yet, Playtime will work hand-in-hand with Emma to deliver strategic PR support for both the Hape and Skip Hop brands, as well as supporting Nebulous Stars and Nanoblocks in the UK. “We have very high hopes for the business in 2021 and Emma has been busy shaking up our marketing plans for the year to ensure we pull out all the stops,” explained David Allan, MD. “Enlisting Playtime PR to support Emma is in line with our growth plans, which include supporting our brands with targeted UK marketing. I was blown away by Playtime’s response to our brief and the way in which the agency operates, and firmly believe it is the ideal PR partner for Toynamics. I’m truly excited to have Playtime on board.” Emma added: “Hape and Skip Hop are key brands in Toynamics’ portfolio, and I was impressed by the integrated layers of activity Playtime can bring to the table to intensify our marketing in 2021. The team already feel like true colleagues and that was an important element for me – that we can enjoy real synergy as we drive the business forward together this year.” Playtime will manage all UK b2b and b2c earned media relations, product placement, influencer campaigns and celebrity nurturing activity for Toynamics, with a focus on delivering tangible business impact through strategic activations and outreach. Lesley Singleton, Playtime’s founder, said: “We’re thrilled to be joining the Toynamics team and to be working with such an enthusiastic and passionate bunch. Hape and Skip Hop are brands with so much potential; we can’t wait to unlock that with Emma this year and help take the business to new heights.” For more information about Toynamics, call +44 (0) 116 478 5230 or email sales@toynamics.co.uk.

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fresh FRESH THIS MONTH:

Each month Fresh sets out to find the latest products that will have toy retailers reaching for the phone. In April we have new releases from: Amscan, KAP Toys and Little Kids.

Licensed partyware and costumes Amscan 01908 288500 | www.amscan.co.uk

With Pokémon marking its 25th anniversary this year, and fan engagement at an all-time high, Amscan is readying for a year of Pokémon-themed parties and events. From partyware, decorations and pinatas, through to balloons including a life size Pikachu and Pokeball Orbz, Amscan has everything retailers need to help their customers plan the perfect ‘catch ‘em all’ celebration.

Also on offer are costumes. Available in ages 3-4 or 8-12, fans can choose from the Pikachu fleece hooded jumpsuit with Pokeball zip pull, the Charizard plush cape, or the Ash costume. The latter comprises a top, shorts and that all-important trucker hat. Amscan’s Baby Shark range is also proving to be a hit. The full party range is available now, including all the tableware, décor and balloons required to set the scene. Party planners can choose from Baby Shark shaped balloons or the new Sing A Tune Balloon, which plays the now-famous ear worm when tapped. For more information, please visit www.amscan.co.uk.

Among Us toys and dress-up KAP Toys 01423 368888 | www.kids-at-play.com

KAP Toys is pleased to confirm its distribution of a selection of official Among Us merchandise, based on the hit game. The line is developed by YuMe Toys and Toikido, with product set to launch in two parts. Phase 1 sees plush and dress-up sets hit the market from May, allowing fans to play, display and even dress up in Among Us character costume, while Phase 2 will introduce YuMe’s mystery capsule programme. Attractive price points catering for a range of budgets means the range offers stockists a highly-sought after assortment of licensed product ideally suited to the toy and collectibles market. KAP considers this to be one of the most anticipated launches of 2021 and is urging stockists not to miss out on the opportunities it offers. The team is working around the clock to get orders processed and stock out to customers as quickly as possible. For the latest updates or information on this fast-developing range, contact orders@kaptoys.com.

Fubbles No-Spill bubbles

Little Kids 07580 601259 | www.littlekidsinc.com Little Kids Inc, a leader in both the bubble and outdoor games categories in the United States, offers a full range of outdoor seasonal toys that include the Fubbles and Wicked Big Sports brands. Designed to prevent accidental spills that occur during normal bubble play, all products from the Fubbles Motorised No-Spill line are ideal for kids and parents alike, promising no-mess outdoor fun all summer long. A push of the activation button will start continuous bubbles flowing from the No-Spill Bubble Machine. With its easy-to-carry handle, kids as young as 18 months and up can carry the machine from the back garden to the park, or wherever else the fun takes them. The Motorised No Spill Bubble Blaster, meanwhile, continues blasting streams of bubbles without messy spills, regardless of how kids play with it; whether they’re running around, turning it upside down or knocking it over, the bubble fun will remain mess-free. Button activated, a continuous flow of solution through the tube means kids can enjoy uninterrupted play. Both the No-Spill Bubble Machine and No-Spill Bubble Blaster require 3 AA batteries (not included) and come with 4 oz. of premium, non-toxic, dye- free Fubbles solution. For more information, contact Rachel Atkinson at ratkinson@littlekidsinc.com.

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Industry Moves Magic Box welcomes global commercial & marketing director Magic Box says the latest appointment will contribute to the company’s mission to become a leading global company in the toy industry. Jose Vicente Savall brings with him a wealth of international toy industry experience. He worked at Hasbro for 28 years in various executive roles, including general manager of several regions: Iberia, Russia, Benelux, Nordic, Easter Europe, Turkey, Greece, South Africa and MENA. Jose Vicente arrives at a time of massive success for Magic Box thanks to SuperThings, currently the UK’s No.1 Action Figure brand in terms of Share of Units and No.2 in value. The property is also the No.1 Toy Property in Spain YTD (*Source NPD Data February 2021). The appointment is part of a new talent drive to accelerate international growth. David Bella, chief executive of Magic Box, commented: “We are thrilled to welcome Jose Vicente to Magic Box. With his experience and the potential of our brands, such as SuperThings, and future launches including T Racers, we are confident he will be a great asset to the business, contributing to our objective of becoming a leading company in the industry.’’ Jose Vicente added: “It is a pleasure to join the Magic Box family, an innovative team filled with enthusiasm and talent. I am dedicated to the growth of Magic Box both nationally and across the globe and I look forward to the journey ahead.”

Sambro International appoints Paul Blackaby as new CEO Toy manufacturer and distributor Sambro International Limited has announced the appointment of Paul Blackaby as its new chief executive officer. Paul joined the Sambro business in February 2020 as chief financial officer, bringing with him many years of experience in both the manufacturing and consumer goods sectors at a senior level. The award winning, Manchester based business recently announced that it was assessing growth opportunities after securing a £13m funding package with its banking partner. Sambro achieved strong sales in 2020 despite the challenges of the pandemic and employs more than 90 people in its offices in Bury, Amsterdam and Hong Kong. A global supplier of licensed merchandise and own brand product, Sambro works with leading entertainment companies to produce bespoke products across a host of product categories, partnering with leading companies such as Disney, Nickelodeon, Mattel and Hasbro as well as producing its own branded ranges such as XOXO and Puzzle Palz. Paul Blackaby commented: “I am completely delighted to be given the opportunity to lead this fantastic business and terrific team through its next stage of development. There has been some great work undertaken in recent years which we will harness and build from – we are all excited about Sambro’s future”.

Ben Hogg joins Vivid Goliath as UK marketing manager Vivid Goliath Group is pleased to announce that Ben Hogg has joined the UK team as the company’s marketing manager. Ben brings with him a wealth of marketing experience from his previous role at Asmodee UK, where he had worked for over ten years. He will be responsible for brand and marketing activations across Vivid Goliath’s wide portfolio including ranges such as Ryan’s World, Love Diana, Reaxion, SuperSand and the ever-growing portfolio of kids, family and adult games. His remit will also include managing a team of brand managers and working closely to steer Vivid’s TV, PR and digital marketing output. “We are delighted to welcome Ben to the Vivid Goliath family” said Emma Weber, Vivid’s marketing & licensing director. “Ben is an experienced marketer and brings with him a fresh perspective and new ideas to our marketing campaigns, as we take our business to the next level. Ben joins at an exciting time, as we continue to grow the business across our toy and games portfolio. Ben added: “Vivid Goliath has an extensive portfolio and, specifically in games, the company is fast expanding across the strategic and adult sectors. I look forward to helping to grow this area as we build out our distribution, and to helping to develop the business to further accommodate specialist retail partners.” Ben can be contacted on b.hogg@goliathgroup.com.

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Industry Moves Clementoni strengthens sales team with new national account manager Clementoni is delighted to announce the appointment of Nicola Beglin to the role of national account manager. With over ten years’ experience in sales and retail management, and specifically in eCommerce, Nicola most recently managed the Amazon account at Mattel. In her new role at Clementoni, she will be looking after existing key accounts as well as exploring new business opportunities for the strong portfolio of product, to help maintain the company’s positive growth trend. Shahbaz Khan, UK country manage at Clementoni, commented: “We are delighted to welcome Nicola to Clementoni. Her specialist sales experience will be a great asset to the business at a time when we are experiencing significant growth in the UK and are having to adapt our business model in light of the pandemic. With many exciting launches planned for 2021, Nicola joins the team at a pivotal time, and we are excited that she will be instrumental in further strengthening our sales team.” Nicola added: “I have been working specifically in the toy industry for over seven years now and am thrilled to continue that path with Clementoni. The product range is really broad, but there is a strong focus on learning throughout, which I find extremely exciting. I am looking forward to utilising my experience to help maintain and strengthen the current growth”. Nicola can be contacted by emailing nicola.beglin@ clementoni.com.

James Luff joins DKB Toys & Distribution UK team In response to a surge in new account signings, DKB Toys & Distribution has announced the appointment of James Luff as account manager, to focus on growing and nurturing independent trade accounts. Having previously spent five years as a buyer at Toys r Us, working across a wide range of categories, James brings a wealth of industry experience to the DKB Toys team. Most recently, James launched and grew the toys & merchandise category across four selling channels - Amazon, eBay, Mail Order and Zoom - as consumer products manager at Zoom.co.uk. His new account manager role at DKB Toys will enable him to focus on relationships with independent trade accounts and work directly with MD Chris Lohmeyer to devise and implement initiatives to grow and develop the business. “James will be a key player in our company growth over the next few years” commented Chris. “Bringing eight years toy industry experience to DKB, he has an inherent understanding of retail accounts from a buyer’s perspective and can ensure all accounts are given the time and support needed to grow their business. A key focus area for us at DKB is working closely with, and facilitating, our independent customer base. By sharing his toy category growth expertise with retailers, James can actively advise buyers on product selection and trends within the market, plus work closely with each account on forecasting and selections to maximise sales. His experience of both online and in-store retail success will prove invaluable as DKB Toys & Distribution expands into new categories going forward.” Contact Chris@dkbtoys.com for more information or visit www.dkbtoys.com.

KidsKnowBest expands marketing division with tailored support

KidsKnowBest, the creative agency with a focus on youth, is bolstering its performance marketing division with a suite of new hires. The added talent will be working to expand the agency’s paid media offering to deliver wider performance marketing campaigns. The recent appointments, in newly formed roles, are Camila del Mazo Nales, senior paid social executive; Michael Heming, eCommerce manager; and Daniel Foot, PPC manager - reporting to Ulrika Lundvall, head of Paid Media at KidsKnowBest Camila joins the agency from a Paid Social executive position with OMD. She will be helping to further elevate campaigns through continuous optimisations to ensure KidsKnowBest stays at the forefront of platform expansion and new targeting opportunities. Michael comes from a PPC role with Reprise Digital and as an Amazon marketing specialist, will ensure that KidsKnowBest campaigns convert at the selling point. Daniel has made a move from MediaCom where he was a digital marketing planner and will be working to reach potential Toynamics UK & Ireland is continuing its customers and increase brand awareness through search channels. growth plans for 2021 with two new additions to This latest move is a response to the growing client need for the team. Alison Whitfield has joined the team as considered performance marketing support across search and operations manager, while Kate Mulliner has been eCommerce with a particular need for Amazon Marketing. Ulrika promoted to the role of business development Lundvall, head of Paid Media at KidsKnowBest is thrilled to be manager. Toynamics says the new appointments expanding her team: “We can now build on our 360o service. We saw are a reflection of the positive growth the a gap in our services and have quickly filled it to offer the best service company has achieved, and in alignment with to our clients,” she says. “We’re always driven by research and data ongoing development plans for the business. Alison Whitfield Kate Mulliner to inform our campaigns, and now we can do this through search Alison joins the company with a wealth of and eCommerce to circle back and create a really solid and informed experience, having previously worked for Geodis Distribution on the Mattel account. She said she process.” is excited to apply her expertise in inventory and stock management, process mapping and quality To find out more about KidKnowBest, visit www.kidsknowbest.co.uk. control to her new role.

Toynamics appoints new operations manager and business development manager

Kate was previously a sales area manager for Toynamics, and her experience is sure to be a great asset to the business development team. Commenting on her new role, Kate said: “I am excited about developing new business, especially eCommerce, as this is proving a big growth driver for us in 2021.” David Allan, MD at Toynamics UK & Ireland, commented: “In line with our plan to support new business growth, I’m delighted to promote Kate and bring Alison on board to help drive our business forward.” Both Alison and Kate are looking forward to growing relationships with customers as they begin their new roles. For more information about Toynamics, call +44 (0) 116 478 5230 or email sales@toynamics.co.uk. Camila del Mazo Nales

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Daniel Foot

Michael Heming



Marketing World Celebs front Lego #VIDIYOVibes campaign New research by The Lego Group reveals that 55% of UK children have been discovering outlets for self-expression and learning via positive mood-boosting activities over the last year. HRVY, Roman Kemp, and Sophie Ellis-Bextor have all signed on to support this creativity, fronting a new #VIDIYOVibes campaign encouraging play, creativity, and self-expression amongst UK kids via a pass-it-on social media movement. The campaign, which aims to inspire 100,000 minutes of FOCO (Finders of Creative Opportunities) is backed by psychologist, Dr Victoria Williamson who has established a link between creative activities and mood improvement amongst kids. The campaign was kickstarted by the celebs using the new free to download Lego Vidiyo app and supporting Beatboxes, which enable users to unlock even more content and creativity, to make videos and share them with their followers. “My kids truly are Finders of Creative Opportunities,” said Sophie Ellis-Bextor. “They haven’t just been using music to express themselves, but also doing so through dancing, playing games and apps. It’s really important to me that they have these outlets and can explore their individuality and I love that the Vidiyo app and this campaign gives them a safe platform in which to do that.” Lego’s research shows that the past year has seen kids getting creative with new hobbies, with music a big part of their lives. The research also revealed that new apps have been a primary facilitator of creative opportunities, and whilst 59% of kids have missed seeing their friends in person, almost a third have made the most of discovering new hobbies with their peers virtually. The Lego Vidiyo app is packed with chart-topping songs from leading artists, including Mabel, The Weeknd, Katy Perry, and Jonas Brothers, and allows users to experiment creatively with music video production. HRVY, whose track with Matoma ‘Good Vibes’ is available on the app, has already been creating and sharing his own #VIDIYOVibes with his followers. He commented: “I’ve always found that music – whether it’s singing, dancing or song-writing – is the perfect outlet for me to express myself and it works wonders for my mental health. I’ve had so much fun getting creative with Vidyo and making a Lego version of my track.”

Edx Education teams up with Annabel Karmel Edx Education has announced a campaign partnership with the UK’s No.1 children’s cooking author Annabel Karmel. The campaign focuses on family bonding activities to help children recover from the year of disruption and distress caused by the pandemic, with a series of fun play and cooking activities, advice and competitions on the popular Annabel Karmel website. Play has never been more important to children; as a way for them to bond with parents and siblings, a highly effective form of learning, helping to understand the world around them, enhancing cognitive and social development and the perfect way to relieve tension and stress. The Annabel Karmel x Edx Education partnership aims to help families discover new ways to bond and play, whether in the kitchen, garden, or out and about. “It has been a tough year for kids, with missed schooling and lack of contact with friends. It is therefore really important for us to support families for the mental health and wellbeing of children,” said Heather Welch of Edx Education. “Encouraging family bonding through play activities and helping children learn different skills not necessarily taught in the classroom are just a few ways we can help children bounce back. What a better way than to partner with Annabel Karmel to provide advice and ideas to play and learn together through cooking and family time.”

Clara Amfo joins Barbie’s inspirational women line-up Barbie has announced Clara Amfo as a UK Barbie Role Model by unveiling a one-of-a-kind doll created in her likeness, joining a line-up of inspirational women and girls. The well know presenter for Radio 1, TV and her own podcast commented: “I have been lucky enough to experience some really special moments in my professional life and to say that I am honoured to be named a Barbie Role Model would be an understatement.” In summer 2020, as the news of George Floyd sent shockwaves around the world, Clara made a powerful on-air speech with a call to action for anti-racism that went viral. She was widely recognised as a powerful force for change across UK media, joining 15 other activists on the cover of the September Issue of British Vogue. Clara is passionate about uplifting marginalised communities and a visible role model for young black women across the nation. The Barbie brand will be encouraging girls to ‘raise your voice’ – showing Clara as a positive role model to inspire children to believe in themselves and their voices. Clara and Barbie are also working in partnership with grassroots London project Milk Honey Bees, whose mission is to celebrate black girlhood by creating an expressive safe space that allows young women and girls to flourish. The brand is also supporting a creative writing community project, creating a powerful social video spotlighting Milk Honey Bees and Clara, sponsoring Milk Honey Bee’s first appearance at the Women of the World Festival, launching the You Can Be Anything virtual series, hosting a round table discussion with thought leaders from UN Women, Clara Amfo and more, and a partnership with Cocoa Girls throughout 2021.

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Opinion

All elements of the funnel Looking at live data to identify current and future trends, Felix examines how such data can be used to support successful marketing strategies.

W

ith so many disparate businesses cropping up in the digital media space, the choice advertisers face to maximise their business goals is becoming ever more convoluted. With this in mind, we have put together five essential tips to help the market choose the right route to achieve these goals.

• Establish the KPI Focusing on a clear outcome for every campaign is the fundamental cornerstone of every successful campaign strategy. Without a clear vision of the desired outcome, campaigns run the risk of being spread too thinly against a backdrop of KPIs which can distract from the overall objective. Marketers often come under pressure to adapt their focus or switch KPIs midway through a campaign, especially if results are not instant. This is especially prevalent in the digital ecosystem where the flexibility offered by many platforms makes this relatively easy to do compared to traditional media. However, this can result in significant wastage. The benefits of data rich digital media mean minimising wastage should be at the core of digital strategy. Therefore, to fully take advantage of the complex algorithms that the form the fabric of the majority of digital platforms, clear direction towards consistent objective is essential. Without this, key learnings that inform optimisations are diminished and can lead to an effective reboot of a campaign.

• Choose the most effective media mix When considering the right channel mix, the key thing to revert to is the KPI. Sales, clicks, views, CPA, viewability and so on; the digital ecosystem allows for all options. Given the stayat-home nature of our current situation, we are unsurprisingly experiencing an acceleration in eCommerce. The major players in the market, such as Amazon and eBay, are capitalising on existing infrastructure. We can learn from this. We must ask ourselves what infrastructure is already in place for advertisers, how we can take advantage of it and what channels complement these methods. As an example, if the business has an existing eCommerce website, the sage advice is to start with paid search and build upon that. However,

given the current situation, many companies find themselves with existing relationships with retailers to maintain, rendering this a less preferable option. We must then consider what channels can enhance their current position and work for their partners. The sharing of data here is essential and cross channel amplification will be a key pillar of shared success in 2021 and beyond. We need to consider that all elements of the funnel work in tandem and across all areas of digital media we can utilise both brand building elements and performance, ensuring they are working as hard as they can for each other. Remaining in control of all elements of the funnel, both digital and traditional is key to this. It is essential to work with partners who can provide this holistic view. For example, by tracking and optimising the impact of TV and Digital for one of our clients, we were able to decrease the average ACOS across their Amazon portfolio to less than 5% (having started at >10%).

• Identify what you can track Tracking activity from a campaign’s start to finish is every business’s ideal situation. However, this is often complicated by issues such as managing multiple stakeholders, licensing partners and distribution channels amongst others. The focus should therefore be shifted to the existing data to identify what can be leveraged to enhance campaigns. If consistent sales data or audience behaviour can be ingested into active campaigns, this can only be beneficial to optimisations. However small the observation, we need to remember it can have a significant impact to the overall result.

• Attribution Attribution is always convoluted when it comes to the toy market. With compliance issues around tracking and the often-blocked ability to see the full consumer journey, attribution is an incredibly hard thing to verify. UTMs are the basic level of information many businesses rely on, but if verification or data collected with consent is available, alongside metrics such as lifetime value and returning purchasers, we can gain insight into the overall structure. This can be built upon and used to benchmark expansion. As we observe

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Felix Lewis associate director of digital - Generation Media

the shift towards a cookieless world, the strongest advice we can give to advertisers is to enhance their 1st party data set and ensure this is as robust as possible. Once verified this can be used as the foundation of future campaigns and ensure you are capitalising on your owned channels.

• Reporting Over the past few years, reporting has become essential for last minute optimisations. Reactions to current trends gives businesses a chance to create gains (or, if implemented poorly, losses) in very little time. The developments in real time reporting and visualisation dashboards are not to be underestimated and companies all around the world are now exploiting their historical data to predict future trends without needing to rely on outside studies. It is important to make certain you are not drawn in purely by visuals and ease of use alone. A successful dashboard will be underpinned by a robust dataset, in some cases supplied by multiple sources. It’s important to ensure that those in control of the reporting and visualisation have a comprehensive understanding of all the data being in order to create actionable insight. In partnership with our sister company Giraffe Insights, we are continuously work on the creation of and interpretation of live data to identify current and future trends, in order to better inform the strategies needed to achieve our clients’ goals. Without this, marketing to children and parents alike in 2021 would be a very tricky business.



Licensing World Dino Ranch signed up by Disney+ Following strong ratings on Disney Junior in the US, Boat Rocker Studios has announced that Disney+ UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand will be broadcasting Dino Ranch. The 52 x 11 minute 3D animated pre-school show set in a ‘pre-westoric’ setting where dinosaurs still roam, premiered on Disney Junior and Disney Now in the US and CBC (Canada) in January. The series is now set to launch on the Disney+ streaming platform in the UK, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand in April 2021. Dino Ranch proved an immediate hit on Disney Junior in the US, ranking as the number one cable series among kids, boys and girls 2-5 since its launch, and is also available on Disney Now and VOD. Two episodes have been posted on Disney Junior’s YouTube, amassing over 1.5m views collectively to date. In the first six weeks since the launch of the official Dino Ranch YouTube channel, the show accumulated over three million views. Dino Ranch follows the exploits of the Cassidy family, whose charges are dinosaurs of all shapes and sizes that are also their best friends. As the three adopted young Cassidy rancheroos, Jon, Min and Miguel, learn the ropes, they discover the adventure involved in ranch life and tending to the dinosaur sanctuary. The deals follow recent global sales of Dino Ranch to Super RTL/Toggo Plus (Germany), Gulli plus TiJi and Gulli Africa (France), NRK (Norway), YLE (Finland) and DR (Denmark). Jazwares has signed on as the global master toy partner for the property and will be introducing a range of figures, plush, play sets, role-play, vehicles and musical instruments. Scholastic has also been signed as the major publishing partner in English-speaking territories.

newsanalysis

Eaglemoss: bringing more to life Toy World spoke to Eaglemoss Hero Collector’s brand manager Chris Thompson and head of sales Glynn Davies about how the collectibles specialist is building on its 2020 experiences and what there is to look forward to this year. Covid struck not long after your debut at New York Toy Fair and Birmingham’s Spring Fair, but it sounds like you still had a good year – can you share some highlights with us? Glynn: Despite the pandemic, our new launches resulted in a record year for our wholesale business, both in terms of sales and new accounts opened across the UK and Europe. The biggest hits were our Harry Potter Knit Kits and Marvel Movie figurines, but we also found evergreens performed really well, including our classic Sonic The Hedgehog figurines, Doctor Who Dalek Box Set, and Batman figurines and cowls. Chris: We had a really strong start with both of those shows – which a lot of distributors and retailers noticed – and followed that up with new lines and announcements throughout the year. We’ve been doing a lot more in the way of mainstream consumer outreach through outlets like IGN and The Hollywood Reporter, and supporting the messaging at trade with Toy World, to create demand for our product at all levels. We want to build on that positive word of mouth and reassure retailers that they’re being supported as we come out the other side of it all.

What’s new from Hero Collector, or about to arrive at retail over the next few months? Glynn: We’re building on our strengths, bringing even more properties to life for collectors in their home or office (or home-office, as the case may be). Firstly, we’re expanding our Marvel line beyond the popular figurines to include a range of prop replicas we call the Hero Collector Museum. This allows fans to create desktop or shelf displays featuring things like Iron Man’s Helmet, Captain America’s Shield or Thor’s Hammer. We’ll be expanding that concept later in the year, both within the Marvel Universe and beyond. We’re also growing our range of Harry Potter Knit Kits to include an infinity scarf (a house snood that you can knit yourself), beanie hat, Knight Bus and a set of Hogwarts-themed Christmas decorations. Chris: We’ll also be playing to our strengths in the sci-fi realm as we bring our popular Alien and Predator lines to stores with new retail-friendly packaging. I’m also really excited for the debut of the iconic Eagle Transporter from Space 1999 later in the year. This marks our first foray into the worlds of Gerry Anderson; we know there’s a lot of interest in this ship and other properties, so hopefully it’s the first of many to come. Beyond that, we’ll be expanding what we do into new areas, such as our upcoming range of collectibles based on the popular Bethesda gaming properties - Fallout, Elder Scrolls and more – as well as taking on some licences and product areas that are completely new to us. I hate to be a tease, but you can expect to hear more about those as we approach summer.

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Licensing World The Adventures of Paddington joins Redan’s magazine portfolio for 2021

Hornby unveils licensing plans for Scalextric Moving forward with plans to launch the dynamic Scalextric brand into a global licensing programme, Hornby is pleased to announce the appointment of licensing consultant, Michele Pearce to represent Hornby in the start of an in-house licensing initiative. Michele brings extensive knowledge and appreciation of the brand through her work as a licensing specialist in the toy category. This, combined with her years of experience working in licensing in the video game industry, means she can bring a new focus to the Scalextric brand. The programme will focus on both the retro archive and the new Scalextric branding, with the aim of finding partners who can realise the brand in consumer product formats that will add to the whole family’s enjoyment of the ultimate slot car racing experience. Lyndon Davies, Hornby CEO, commented: “Scalextric is a brand loved by many and we are confident that there are many exciting opportunities for Hornby to work with licensing partners. Michele brings a wealth of experience to the team and we are very excited by some of the early conversations we have had.” Michele added: “I have been talking to Hornby for some time about the licensing opportunities for Scalextric and how much I would enjoy developing a strategy for the brand. I couldn’t have been more delighted when they contacted me at the start of this year with the wave of a chequered flag to start the programme”. For more information about the licensing opportunities for Scalextric, please get in touch with Michele at michele.pearce@ hornby.com.

With over 30 years’ experience in publishing high quality, award-winning children’s magazines, Redan Publishing is celebrating its recent outstanding circulation results, which placed four of its pre-school titles in the top 10. The current portfolio combines Redan’s unique compilation magazines, Sparkle World, Fun To Learn Friends and Fun To Learn Favourites, with an enviable mix of standalone titles including Fun To Learn Peppa Pig, Fun To Learn Peppa Pig Bag O’ Fun, Fun To Learn Bing and - launching this month - Fun To Learn The Adventures of Paddington. The multi-character titles bring together the most popular licensed characters, allowing children to engage and interact with their favourites as they journey through fun activities. The standalones also encompass everything that pre-schoolers enjoy – storytelling, colouring, sticking, playing, making and baking – with the fun further amplified by complete immersion in the world of a favourite preschool character. The magazines can offer other licensees an engaged and targeted audience where children (and often adults too) develop their affiliation to, and fondness of, particular brands. The experience of completing activities with much-loved characters encourages openness to further extensions of each brand, providing ideal opportunities for promotion and advertising of other licensed consumer product. Whilst advertising needs to be limited in a children’s publication, Redan does offer a few traditional advertising slots in each issue of its magazines. Readers are advised to act swiftly if they would like to find out more. An alternative is to offer product as prizes, which is a low cost and effective promotional tool. Competition give-aways regularly feature and offer all readers an opportunity to win. Other options include being a prize sponsor on a club page, selecting and rewarding readers with a prize for crafts, pictures or letters they have sent in. For more information on Redan’s magazines visit www.redan.co.uk, and for further details on advertising, promotion and competition opportunities, contact marketing@redan.com. Michele added: “I have been talking to Hornby for some time about the licensing opportunities for Scalextric and how much I would enjoy developing a strategy for the brand. I couldn’t have been more delighted when they contacted me at the start of this year with the wave of a chequered flag to start the programme”. For more information about the licensing opportunities for Scalextric, please get in touch with Michele at michele.pearce@hornby.com.

Sinco partners with PMI on launch of first Toikido Among Us product The popular online multiplayer game Among Us was the most downloaded game of 2020, with half a billion users, and has entered 2021 on strong footing. Currently available on iOS, Android, Nintendo Switch, and PC, major Among Us releases and updates are planned for later this year. Set aboard a spaceship hurtling through the cartoon cosmos, Among Us is a social deduction game that revolves around a simple premise: a member of the crew has been replaced by an alien shapeshifter intent on taking over the ship. Players must root out the Impostor or fall victim to its murderous designs. The initial Toikido range will include collectibles, figures, keychains and plush in a variety of single and multi-packs. The planned line will give Among Us game fans access to amazing products while ensuring the toys reflect the style of the game, which offers a mix of fun and social play enhanced by innovative character design. Sinco says the brand appeals to all ages and genders, giving a breadth and depth for retailers that is rare, and lends itself to the type of on-shelf longevity seen with the likes of Minecraft and Pokémon. For more information, please contact daniel@sincocreations.com.

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Gloucester House Basildon Essex SS14 3BX UK


Licensing World Toikido named master toy partner for Netflix’s Back to the Outback Darran Garnham’s new toy operation Toikido has secured the rights to manufacture a toy range based on the new Netflix animated movie Back to the Outback, which will be released this coming autumn. The range, which will incorporate a selection of action figures and plush, will be made available in worldwide markets ahead of the launch of the movie on the streaming platform, which has over 200m paid members in over 190 countries. In the movie, a group of Australia’s deadliest creatures, tired of being locked in a reptile house, plot a daring escape to the Outback, a place where they’ll fit in without being judged for their scales and fangs. Leading the group is Maddie (Isla Fisher), a poisonous snake with a heart of gold, who bands together with a Thorny Devil lizard Zoe (Miranda Tapsell), hairy spider Frank (Guy Pearce) and scorpion Nigel (Angus Imrie). When their nemesis Pretty Boy (Tim Minchin), a cute but obnoxious koala, unexpectedly joins their escape, the gang has no choice but to take him along. So begins a hilarious road trip across Australia, as they are pursued by zookeeper Chaz (Eric Bana) and his adventure-seeking mini-me (Diesel Cash La Torraca). Darran told Toy World: “I’m really excited about this opportunity to partner with Netflix. At Toikido, we are building a company with an ecosystem across licensing, gaming, music, live events and entertainment, looking to bring new ideas and concepts to the market. We have already announced our partnership with Innersloth Games to launch a range of AmongUs products, and the range we’ll be producing for Back to the Outback is another exciting addition to our year one portfolio.”

Tom & Jerry draws $13.7m in US opening box office weekend Warner Bros new Tom & Jerry movie led North America’s box office on its opening weekend in March, with $13.7m in opening sales, the largest debut so far this year and the second-best since the pandemic began. Approximately 42% of cinemas in North America had reopened at this point, according to Comscore, with New York City also due to reopen cinemas at 25% capacity the following week. Warner Bros. said it saw “an enormous boost” for Tom & Jerry from private theatre rental bookings, a new offering by cinemas to attract audiences to return in their own private bubbles. Tom & Jerry was released simultaneously on HBO Max in the US for one month. It follows Warner Bros.’ plan to put all of its 2021 movies online the same day they open in cinemas, a strategy which did not initially go down well with cinema chains, already short of new releases and hampered by capacity restrictions. Prior to the pandemic, movie theatres traditionally had around three months exclusivity on new movies. The success of Tom & Jerry was not limited to the US market: the remake of the classic cartoon series took $33.1m globally on the opening weekend, with China its second-largest market. Speaking to Toy World before Christmas, Warner Bros. general manager UK Rachel Wakley commented: “The fact that neither character speaks makes this franchise easily translatable across the globe, with China and the Far East representing some of our strongest markets.” Moose Toys is the master toy partner for the franchise, with a range which focuses on figures and plush.

Zuru’s Vlad & Niki Superhero Surprise lands in UK One of the largest YouTube channels in the world, Vlad & Niki is ranked the No.1 Boys Show and No.2 Family Show, with over 56b views and more than 90m subscribers across 12 languages via its 15 channels. The energetic videos focus on the boys’ daily life adventures, which are brought to life with special effects and animation, superhero narrative, toy testing, and catchy songs. Last year, the boys introduced Christian, their new baby brother, who is already delighting in his older brothers’ antics. The adventures of the internet sensations will land in the toy aisle from May as Zuru launches a complete unboxing experience with Vlad & Niki Superhero Surprise. “Vlad and Niki are charismatic brothers who have captivated children around the world,” said Aneisha Vieira, global brand director of Zuru. “Zuru has combined the energy, magic and spirit from the series into an experience that pre-schoolers will wholeheartedly embrace.” Vlad & Niki’s Superhero Surprise will be available in Dino Attack and Robot Battle themes. An action-packed comic book adventure will set the stage for a playtime experience complete with corresponding superhero costumes, vehicles, figures and more, allowing kids to bring their own story to life. “Zuru has created a collection of toys that encompass Vlad and Niki’s sense of adventure, discovery and imagination,” said Sergey Vashketov, father of the YouTube pre-school superstars and co-founder of Content Media Group. “Now, kids everywhere can use their own creativity playing along with Vlad and Niki and their Superhero Surprise toy collection kits.” The Superhero Surprise pack features over 20 surprises including a mask and cape, superhero figurines of the duo, Baby Christian figurine, a dinosaur or robot figurine, two die-cast cars, a slime egg, light up skateboard, wrist snap-band, stickers, tattoo and more. For more information, visit www.zuru.com.

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www.clementoni.com

For more information please contact: uk@clementoni.com


Opinion

What we learned from kids and their best friends KidsKnowBest is a leading kids digital media agency, and in this month’s column, Lydia Mossahebi looks at kids’ friendships; how they can filter and moderate their ideas and behaviours, and impact on who kids are and who they want to be.

A

t KidsKnowBest we’re always searching for new ways to understand kids better, so we recently embarked on an extensive new research study, FriendsKnowBest, to discover the social landscape of this generation. The aim was to find out how kids define themselves, the values and interests that are important to them and how they see their place in the world. We wanted kids’ voices and opinions at the heart of this project. It’s always been our approach at KidsKnowBest, and it was imperative that it needed to be kids themselves to tell us who they are and what their world looks like.

What makes your best friend unique? We wanted kids to tell us what makes them unique in their own words, but we knew this wouldn’t be easy. What we do know is that no one knows you as well as your best friend, so we spoke to 10,000 kids aged 6-16 globally, over a three-month period to January 2021, asking them the question through a combination of online polls, surveys and remote interviews. It’s given us first-hand insight into trends of behaviours and interests.

Kids and their friends As we reviewed the results, we began to identify the values that unite kids in each age group. When it comes to friendships, all kids value kindness. For 5–6 year-olds, it was important that their best friend offers them and other people something. Kids we spoke to told us the importance of their friend being kind to other people, playing with them and even making them sandwiches. For 7-10 year-olds, we saw more focus on hobbies to bind friendships together as kids build confidence in themselves. We also saw the growing importance of digital as a space for friendship. We know these kids are digital natives, now quite a complex area which encompasses everything they do online from chatting, gaming to watching and sharing content. 45% of kids find social media a useful way to build stronger relationship bonds, whether that’s through messaging on WhatsApp, sharing content on TikTok or publishing photos on Instagram. We found 34% of UK kids aged 6-10 play games online with their friends, and 1 in 4 say they have a best friend they made online, largely through gaming

platforms like Roblox and Minecraft. Both these stats show how important gaming has become as a facilitator to kids’ socialising.

Areas to keep an eye on As we’ve started to glean insight from this research, I think there are four stand-out trends worth keeping an eye on.

Friend viewing

Lydia Mossahebi editorial director, KidsKnowBest.

Co-viewing with families was huge in 2020 as lockdown kicked in. Families went back to making appointments to view and watch together, turning blockbuster cinema smashes into family-movie-nights. Looking into 20212022, I think we’ll see this continue with more co-viewing among friends. The success of films like Trolls 2 shows kids are searching for content they can enjoy and talk about, whether that’s on Disney, Netflix, YouTube or linear TV. They still want big hits and shared experiences, allowing content to help build their friendships. There’s a real opportunity here for a good solution to let kids share their passions and enjoyment for content digitally.

Being in the moment The shift to slowed down experiences in 2020 saw a rise in board games, puzzles and crafts. In 2021-2022, brands and content experiences would do well to help kids be more in the moment, giving them opportunities to immerse themselves in an activity with no distractions. We’ve seen mindfulness apps such as Calm and Headspace take off in the grown-up space and Moshi Sleep making headway with kids. In a recent industry insights series we ran at KidsKnowBest, our CSO Pete Robinson spoke to Meagan Rothschild from ABCMouse.com who identified that kids finding opportunities to slow down from being entertained or learning and just being in a peaceful moment would be a big trend.

Being useful Alongside kids doing things that are fun, they were also doing things that had a benefit. Whether that was looking after chickens or cooking omelettes, kids weren’t waiting for stuff to come and engage them, they were being resourceful to seek out useful stuff they can do themselves. We know that attainment and progress is a motivator to engage with experiences over prolonged periods. Meaningful relationships with brands, content and experiences will continue to take share of time in

Toy World 34

the future; for brands, it’s about how to help kids get better and more immersed in something they are passionate about.

Being with friends Kids love their friends and in 2020 they really missed them. Friendships are hugely important to kids’ development; they filter and moderate their ideas and behaviours, and impact on who kids are and who they want to be. It has never been more important to do what we can as an industry to help kids spend time, either physically or digitally, with their best friends. The full KidsKnowBestFriends report will be published this spring. To find out more and sign up, get in touch with Jack Day -

jack@kidsknowbest.co.uk.

www.kidsknowbest.co.uk.


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Talking Shop

We’ve missed you! Rachael Simpson-Jones spoke to indies getting ready for the planned April reopening, to hear what lessons they have learned from the last year and what has been selling online over lockdown. Lisa Dyson - Games Crusade, Harrogate promoting these on Facebook and the reaction from customers has been great. One lady bought nine to give out as prizes to her school pupils, while another bought multiple vouchers for upcoming birthdays and other special events. For Mother’s Day, we even had a husband buy his wife a voucher. She’s a regular board game customer of ours and he knows she’ll enjoy spending it – and that she’s getting a little bit more for her money. It’s been a really worthwhile idea. The popularity of puzzles shows no signs of waning, so we’re ensuring we’re well stocked up ready for the day we reopen. Some puzzlers will inevitably buy new products online, but there are still plenty that like to come into the store and browse our shelves, a bit like you would in a book shop. We try to offer an eclectic mix of puzzles in terms of artwork and complexity. Whilst we have a lot of traditional scenes from the likes of Gibson and Falcon, we also offer some of the more unusual Eurographics puzzles, though these have been harder to get hold of recently because of Brexit and the issues surrounding shipping. There are a lot more younger people now enjoying puzzling, whereas before the category was very dominated by people around retirement age. As the demographic has shifted, our offering has changed to reflect it.

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hroughout the third lockdown we’ve simply continued to do what we’ve been doing throughout this whole period being as helpful as possible. When people order with us online, we’ll try and deliver it free in the local area, and we’ve carried on mailing toys and games out too. Customers have also taken to emailing us for product advice and recommendations based on a child’s age and interests. This has temporarily replaced our usual customer service while in-store; we’ve been busy replying with information that customers have hopefully found useful. To generate much-needed income now, I started offering gift vouchers which give buyers or receivers an extra 10% to spend once we reopen. We’ve been

Because we haven’t been able to run in-store board game demos, I’ve been playing two or three a week at home, usually accompanied by a glass of prosecco, and posting an overview and pictures on social media. That has been very well received; people can see that we do actually play these games and know what we’re on about, and if we explain them in a way that helps customers understand whether or not they’d be a good choice for them, we see sales increase in line with customer confidence. Asmodee remains our major supplier of board games, but the trick is to then find points of difference. I look for individual designers and quirky games you won’t find in bigger stores. I listen to a lot of podcasts and undertake a fair bit of research on board games, which often gives me a heads-up about where to sniff out more niche, unique titles. The Smart Games range is a best-seller for us in-store, as its games are very tactile. Customers like picking them up and playing with them, so I’m sure those will really benefit from the April reopening. I’ve also been looking more at pocket money toys, as this an area kids will have really missed. They will have received toys for birthdays and Christmas, but for a long time they’ve not had the opportunity to visit a store and spend their own money. In the months ahead, once we reopen, smaller items and pocket money toys should do quite well. Much like puzzles, I’m not going for mainstream collectibles you can find anywhere. Ty has been very good to me as a supplier,

Toy World 37

supporting my window displays, and the whole range is always popular – Mini Boos, Beanie Boos, Squisha-Boos, Teenie Tys. During lockdown, I invested in a new pocket money toys FSDU, and only the other day were we outside flying some pocket-money pocketsized kites for Facebook and TikTok videos. I think a lot of customers will be very keen to return to in-person shopping, but it will also be interesting to see whether some customers have enjoyed the ease of online shopping to the extent that they want to stick with it. There will be those that want the social interaction and conversation with other people, but also those that find online shopping convenient for their own situation. A lot depends on how things develop once lockdown is lifted, too. In Harrogate, the conference centre has been used as a Nightingale Hospital; once it reverts back to its normal use, we should see more events taking place that will increase footfall. For towns like ours, which rely on quite high numbers of visitors, a lot will hinge on how much travel is allowed. On that note, I am keen to return to toy trade shows this year. It’s so much easier to choose new lines when you’re seeing them in person, as opposed to looking through a catalogue or looking at them on Zoom. Online has been a huge learning curve for us during the pandemic. Although we did have an online presence before, it wasn’t one of my priorities. I’ve also learned to think outside the box much more. Just because one avenue is closed it doesn’t mean you can’t find other ways around them. I’ve been forced to take the initiative, and I’m glad we did.


Talking Shop Bill Bulstrode - Owner, Framlingham Toy Shop

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rading locally as Bulstrodes for over 35 years, we are a well-established independent retailer in the heart of Framlingham, a market town famous for its castle (and more recently Ed Sheeran) in the Suffolk countryside. The last year has been extremely challenging. During the first lockdown we took the time to establish our first online toy shop. This proved invaluable in Q1 2021 and going forward is something we hope to build on. Our presence on social media Facebook, Instagram and Twitter - has been a learning curve, but it’s given the business great free exposure, both locally and nationally. I guessed that we’d be open again by May, and I wasn’t far off. We’re planning on running some promotions when we open our doors; we’re a major Lego stockist and we’re sitting on a lot of product, with orders still arriving regularly, so this seems an ideal way to tempt customers into the shop and move through some of the older stock. People in the local area seem keen to get out, but perhaps not so keen to ‘get in’, in terms of visiting bricks & mortar stores. Our shop is a very safe place to be though; masks are required of course, we have a foot-operated sanitiser pump at the door and numbers are limited for the safety of both staff and customers. Our premises are over 2,000 square feet and easy for wheelchairs and prams, which makes ours a very friendly shop to visit if you need that little bit of extra space. I’m sure that, once they get used to the idea, customers will be back to check out the latest toys and simply enjoy the experience of visiting a toy store once again. We’ve been trying to stock up ready for reopening with a number of companies but it’s fair to say that things are a bit tricky at the moment. I reckon that’s down to a combination of Brexit and the issues with shipping that Toy World has been reporting on. Suppliers are working hard to push orders for later in the year, but many delivery dates are up in the air. We’ll continue placing orders and look forward to receiving new shipments as and when they arrive. Framlingham Toy Shop is a big part of our diverse business and we’ve been a Toymaster member for several years. This has opened new accounts as well as helping us make great friendships within the trade. We previously worked closely with Woodbridge Toy Shop, splitting orders to make carriage and on larger quantities that were too much for us as a single shop. With the sad closing of the Woodbridge store, we’ve built on this ethos with Nigel at Halesworth Toy Shop and Dan at The Toy Box at Beccles, which are our nearest Toymaster members. This is already proving

to be of great mutual benefit. We are also stock- and info-sharing with Dee and Sue at Salter Street Toys in Stafford and Brendan at Will’s Toyshop in Aberdeen. Brendan sent me some Pokémon this week, which just goes to prove that, geographically speaking, you don’t need to be on the doorstep to keep up established partnerships and friendships. The man I must thank for instilling this mindset, really, is Ian Edmunds, when he was Toymaster’s managing director. Ian used to reiterate constantly that members should be helping each other rather than seeing each other as competitors, a message that the group promotes to this day. As we slowly emerge from the pandemic, this has to be the way going forward. A collaborative approach not only ensures that we have what we need, but that our customers have what they want, and keeps everyone happy. I’ve just done my Lego orders for the second half, and a lot of the bigger, higher price point sets are in MOQs of threes and fours, but Dee at Salter Street is willing to split orders so we have two each. This is the perfect solution, especially when carriage paid is going through the roof. I think Toymaster is just brilliant. We love the members’ forum, we love the events; the FOB show and the May show in Harrogate. Yogi calls me regularly to see how things are here, which makes me feel very supported. It’s a great network for independents. We’ll be there for the May show in 2022, though we’re obviously sad to not be attending this year. I’m so looking forward to seeing all the members and suppliers under one roof again. Our main supplier and biggest seller is Lego. The brand performs well across all genres, even some of the less well-known ranges such as Architecture. Over the last lockdown, we made sure that we had plenty of stock of jigsaw puzzles and craft/science kits. Gibsons has supported us well throughout lockdown, and Airfix kits have been really popular with consumers either taking up a new hobby or rediscovering an old one. Schleich has also been reliable throughout, and in its big anniversary year, Pokémon is flying off the shelves - when you can get it. Stock is short, but we’re certainly not alone in that and it creates demand; on

occasion, new Pokémon stock has sold in 24 hours. Squishimals from Jazwares have been extremely popular alongside Ty Squish-a-Boos, and Hot Wheels die cast sells well as it’s so collectible. We do need a craze, something that will take off like fidget spinners did, but like all crazes, you have to be quick to get in and quick to get out. With spring just around the corner, we have forward orders for all things outdoors, too – Mookie supports us well in this area. What we have really missed over lockdown is face to face interaction with customers and, in that respect, having the right staff is vital. I’d like to give some well-deserved recognition to Karen Haynes, who has been with us over 25 years and with me since almost the very beginning. Karen’s my right hand – she could run this business without any input from me and I cannot emphasis enough how utterly brilliant she is. The customers love her, she loves them, she knows all the reps and all our colleagues, and in a small family business that’s invaluable. I’ve been having a good tidy round the shop the past few days, and it’s looking lovely, though fresh stock will make it look even lovelier. We’re optimistic about the rest of 2021. Consumers want to get out and get shopping, so it’s up to us as retailers to make our shops safe and inviting places to be. We’re not out of the woods yet, but we’re definitely going in the right direction.

Andrew Olley - City Cycle Centre, Ely, Cambridgeshire

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his lockdown hasn’t been too bad for us, really. I understand that a lot of bricks & mortar retailers have been shut, but as we’re a department store and sell some essential items the blow has been cushioned a bit, though the toy department has been operating behind closed doors. Click & Collect and free local delivery services have been available, and these have been ticking along well. On social media, regular posts and updates help us keep in touch with

our customers - since March 2020, our followers on Instagram and Facebook have increased threefold and our reach has become much wider. Every time we meet customers face-to-face in the street, they praise our social media aspect. It’s been a godsend for keeping lines of communication open; I would go so far as to say it’s vital to what we’re doing, and far more important than it seemed prior to the pandemic. We’re working on the basis that post-lockdown

Toy World 38

measures this time around will be very similar to those we implemented following the March and November lockdowns. In the shop, we put in place a very successful distancing system to keep customers and staff alike safe, and we’ll be using the same system again come the April reopening. As we’ve been operating from within the store throughout lockdown it hasn’t been neglected, and in terms of appearance is more than ready to welcome back shoppers.



indie viewpoint Our stock profile is adapting from the key items we’ve been selling in high numbers over the past few months – Lego and puzzles, for example – to lines better suited for ranging in-store. Although we’ve been selling online for months, customers will soon be back browsing our shelves, so we’re shifting back towards brands and products that we know perform best when the full range can be displayed, not just key lines. The best-selling toys online can be quite different to those in a physical store; there are always lines that are more pick-up and add-on, and we need a variety of stock to make our department work. This shift is well underway, and orders are arriving daily. Sales of pocket money and collectible toys should definitely see an uplift when we reopen. Our Schleich offering is being significantly stepped up, and we expect very strong sales of Minecraft and Roblox, Lego MiniFigures and MarioBags, and Character Options brands like Mash’ems and Treasure X. Eugy from Brainstorm has been selling very well via online because visually it is incredibly strong, but the average blind bag collectible is quite difficult to show off effectively. In-store, pocket money lines are a whole different ballgame. Being able to see a whole display of product also immediately broadens appeal and increases purchasing opportunities with customers. Sylvanian Families, for example, lends itself incredibly well to in-store ranging for those that like to stand back and take a moment to appreciate what they are seeing. I think games and puzzles will be strong again this year, but I doubt sales will reach the lofty heights they did during the first lockdown. Our puzzle sales have increased fivefold over the past year, and I think that with so many consumers now having that puzzling-bug, we’ll see the popularity of these products continue. Although I expect sales for this category will be down this year, compared to a ‘normal’ year, they will most definitely be up. I get the feeling that people are desperate to get back to shopping in physical stores, particularly children. My customers tell me there are a lot of kids out there with Christmas money saved, looking forward to spending it when the toy shops reopen. They want to be there, look around, see the toys for themselves and make decisions about what to spend their money on in person, not through a screen. There’s a big desire to shop local combined with pent up demand and money to be spent. That’s not to say there isn’t an element of reticence with some shoppers who may be hesitant to come back, but toy shops have always been, and will always be, exciting places to visit. When they reopen, as long as we let people know they are safe environments, the customers will return. We’ve all experienced a period more difficult than any of us could have ever imagined prior to the arrival of Covid, and the supply chain remains challenging post-Brexit, but we have to be optimistic. We’ve got through it thus far, and things aren’t looking anywhere near as gloomy as they were this time last time. Compare where we are now to where we were almost a year ago today – it’s an entirely different situation, and while there may still be setbacks, we’re looking at some much better times ahead. My customers are feeling positive, so why shouldn’t I?

Mark Buschhaus and Stephen Barnes Toy Barnhaus

Light at the end of the tunnel

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ast time we wrote was just before the “roadmap announcement.” Although as we write this reopening is still a few weeks away, it is good to have a date to plan for and potentially some light at the end of a very long tunnel. We are aware it could change, but having some clarity and something to work towards is good. It’s very sad to miss the second Easter in a row, but we understand it’s for the best, and it’s important to get it right this time. If we open as planned, our first week will still be the Easter holidays, so there should be some pent-up demand with kids having money from Easter and probably some vouchers etc left over from Christmas! This re-opening will be very different to the first one, as we have the screens, face masks and social distancing measures instore already in place. The biggest game changer this time is the vaccine, which will hopefully give the public a lot more confidence to come out – by mid-April, hopefully all over 50s should have been vaccinated. The further support from the government on rates is welcome, as is the furlough scheme being extended. This will give us time to bring our staff back gradually and support any who may have health issues. We have already started to move our stores around ready for summer, making space for the Outdoor lines that we believe will be a key category this year. With more people having staycations and staying in this country, we have high hopes for Outdoor. Especially if the early signs online are anything to go by; we are selling large pools already, even when it is freezing outside. The Collectibles category is an area that has suffered during lockdown, as sales are primarily low value and often impulse purchases. We have done well with the wider L.O.L. Surprise! range online, however the key “ball” blind purchases are definitely more of a store purchase. The standout in collectibles is still Pokémon; the latest Shining Fates release has been fantastic, with our first allocation selling out within two days and restocks going very quickly. As there are more launches to come over the next couple of months, it will be great to carry on that momentum when we re-open. Sales of Puzzles has never really died down much at any time over the past year. As a category, it’s been massive, and the challenge is trying to keep up with demand and in stock of the top selling titles. Ravensburger is our key supplier and has been fantastic to work with over the pandemic. We were very excited for their new launch this year; one puzzle that caught our eye was titled “I Love You a Brunch”, with the subtitle “Food Porn”. As you all know, we like our food, but we’re not quite sure how that sits in a toy shop! All the Ravensburger puzzle designs are strong, and the company’s games have also sold well – as has Gravitrax. We also stock Gibsons puzzles, which have been very popular. There’s a wide range of designs, and it’s good to offer an alternative supplier. Games has also been very popular, although sales have steadied a bit now, maybe because everyone bought so many last year. The newer ones, such as John Adam’s Pencil Nose and Windy Knickers are still going well, along with favourites such as Dobble and Monopoly. Finally, as a note to our suppliers, when we reopen, all meetings will be taking place outside in a beer garden. Fingers crossed!

Toy World 40



NPD Insight

How will 2020

shape 2021? Rory looks at whether trends formed in 2020 look set to carry forward into this year and assesses how else the UK toy market might develop post-lockdown.

I

What is perhaps more interesting is that the age t has been well documented that the toy market group which added more value to the toy market in performed well in 2020, with +5% growth in 2020 than any other was the 18+ group, growing at the NPD EPOS data. There have been some +11% vs. 2019, adding more than £54m to the UK toy consistent trends, with growth in key categories market. With most of the focus on kids, it’s easy to like Construction, Arts & Crafts, Games & overlook how important adults are to the market; for Puzzles and Outdoor toys. Generally, there was a shift example, they made up over a third of all Games & to higher priced toys that had strong perceived play Another area of the toy market which has received Puzzles value in 2020. Looking closer at that category, value and often educational content, as parents used a lot of attention is the switch to online purchasing, adults added just over £30m in 2020, with over half these items to help with home schooling over the year. with online accounting for 57% of all toy sales in 2020. of that value from Puzzles. Puzzles undoubtedly But were there any surprising growth areas in 2020? We know this was down to a lot of stores being closed benefited from the Covid-19 crisis, helping kids play Let’s use NPD Consumer data to look at some of the for large parts of the year, especially in November. and learn at home. But huge growth in the 18+ age larger shifts in trends for 2020 and look ahead to what range shows that theyears category is also helping adultshalf ofOnline that might mean for 2021.Although the key age groups of 3-5 and 6-9 account for around all or digital also had a significant influence on the toys that were purchased. Traditionally, the make time for adults. themselves and get back into puzzling, toys in 2020, main from Looking at the changing demographics of whogrowth comes biggest influence on toy sales is in-store shop displays, especially with the added positive impact this can received toys in the UK market in 2020 is a good which accounted for nearly 15% of all sales in 2019. have on mental health. The same can be said for the place to start. The two largest age groups 0-2 Years -£15 £500for toys are This figure obviously dropped in 2020, when in-store Construction category, where the 18+ age group added 3–5-year-olds, who account for around a quarter of all displays accounted for £110m less in value than the over £11m in 2020. When we look at the top sellers for 3-5 Years £766represent just over a fifth £5 sales, and 6–8-year-olds, who year before. Conversely, the main gains came from 2020, higher priced items feature prominently, such as of all sales. Both groups saw value increases in 2020, 6-9 Years £855 £8 an average price digital influences, with social media accounting the Lego Technic Bugatti Chiron with consistent with the total market growth. The increases for £24m more, online reviews for £74m more and of £238, and the Lego Technic Porsche 911 RSR with predominantly came from the categories you 10-12 Years £353would £0 websites an additional £24m. Added together, this an average price of £114. We have often spoken of toys expect: Construction and Arts & Crafts. This is in £197 £18 means that digital influences added around £120m being13-17 usedYears as a refuge for kids during lockdown, but line with the theory that toys were used during home more to the toy market in 2020. The categories that perhaps we can say the same for adults. schooling to help parents and to provide 18+ Years £549 time away £54 are most influenced by digital are Dolls, Games & from screens. Puzzles and Arts & Crafts. Many of the Value £m Value Change £m big winners of 2020 are not only being Source: The NPD Group | Consumer Panel| U.K. | Full year 2020 vs. 19 purchased online, but also influenced Document classification: Client/Third Party Confidential The NPD Group, Inc. | Proprietary and confidential 1 by online content, be it YouTube videos, product reviews or just comments on social media pages.

Rory Partis

Director UK Toys & EuroToys NPD

UK Toy Market Growth by Age Group

UK Toy Market Growth by Age Group

Although the key age groups of 3-5 and 6-9 years account for around half of all toys in 2020, main growth comes from adults. 0-2 Years

£500

-£15

3-5 Years

£766

£5

6-9 Years

£855

10-12 Years

£353 £197

13-17 Years

£8 £0 £18

18+ Years

£549 Value £m

£54 Value Change £m Source: The NPD Group | Consumer Panel| U.K. | Full year 2020 vs. 19

Document classification: The NPDClient/Third Group, Party Inc. Confidential | Proprietary

and confidential

Toy World 42

1

Market conditions will soon be reverting to a more traditional scenario: the kids are now back at school and retail stores are set to re-open their doors any day. The big question is to what extent the shift the market experienced in 2020 will shape the rest of 2021? Will shoppers be drawn back to stores in the same numbers we have been accustomed to? Will adults continue to use certain toy categories to help them unwind? And with the kids back at schools, what impact will that have on toy sales moving forward? Time will tell, but I think it’s safe to say that some of the trends which emerged in 2020 will remain with us in the long term.


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.

Fastest Gaining Categories

Standard Building Sets has added nearly £12m so far in 2021 Sales Gained £M Standard Bu ilding Sets Playground Equipment Item Description Jan Rank # Feb Rank # Family Board/Action… Fashion Dolls Minecraft 36 20 Minecraft has been around for a few years now and was one of the first examples of aFashion Accessories Craft Kits digital licence crossing over successfully into toys. The licence saw strong growth in Adult Puzzles 2020 of +68%, driven by Building Sets and Action Figures, and this trend has continued into 2021. The licence has nearly double the value in February as it had in Non-Strategic Trading… Traditional sh January, with Standard Building Sets being the top subclass, worth around three quarters of thePluoverall value. Reusable Compounds

Property Progression:

£0

Fastest Growing Categories in Toys With the UK being under lockdown since the start of the year, the trends that were first cemented in March last year have continued into 2021. We have seen Standard Building Sets leading the way in terms of growth, adding around £12m to the market in 2021 so far. Interestingly, Playground Equipment is the second largest subclass for value gain, with parents looking ahead to the Easter break and kitting out their gardens in the hope of some good weather. The Family Board/Action Games category is the third top performer. We see a number of Games & Puzzles categories in the top 10, with Family Board/Action Games joined by Adult Puzzles and Strategic Trading Card games. Arts and Crafts, another lockdown winner, is also well represented in the top 10 with Craft Kits and Reusable Compounds both featuring in the top 10 for growth so far in 2021.

£2

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Fastest Gaining Categories Document classification: The NPDClient/Third Group, Party Inc. Confidential | Proprietary

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Millions

Source: The NPD Group | Retail Tracking Service | YTD Feb 2021 vs 2020

and confidential

Standard Building Sets has added nearly £12m so far in 2021 Sales Gained £M Standard Bu ilding Sets Playground Equipment Family Board/Action… Fashion Dolls Fashion Accessories Craft Kits Adult Puzzles Non-Strategic Trading… Traditional Plu sh Reusable Compounds £0

£2

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Source: The NPD Group | Retail Tracking Service | YTD Feb 2021 v Document classification: The NPDClient/Third Group, Party Inc. Confidential | Proprietary

and confidential


Opinion

Only in the

toy biz!

Letter from America

W W

e’ve now gone from normal times, to pandemic, to roaring times, all in less than a year. Only the toy industry can experience this wide range of sales (and emotions) in the span of nine months. What began as an average start to 2020 quickly became a downturn, as indie closures took place worldwide due to lockdowns resulting from the global pandemic. Brick and mortar stores were forced to quickly pivot to kerbside delivery only, as well as fast-track development of their online strategies, while the big box stores that had been deemed essential were raking in the sales, especially on toys. Oh, how that has changed recently. Highlighting the recent popularity of one recent craze that has taken indie retailers by storm, the New York Times ran a headline in March: ‘Squishmallows Are Taking Over’. It’s true that the current Squishmallow and Fidget Toy craze (dubbed the Squidget craze here in America) is only gaining steam. Here at Learning Express, it started on January 14th – I specifically saw a spike in sales on smaller fidget items (under $10) like Tangle, Needoh balls, Popits (Foxmind “Last One Lost”) as well as fidget spinners –yes, fidget spinners, remember 2017?! Then add in the growing popularity and scarcity of Kelly Toys’ hit plush Squishmallows, and you have a full on roaring 20s feel.

It’s an ever-changing landscape, but our best-selling fidget toys currently are: 1. Popits 2. Peapod Babies 3. Toobz 4. Fidget pads/controllers 5. Mochi’s

6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

Needoh balls Squeeze balls Fidget chains Wacky Trax Monkey noodles

After 20 years working at A.C. Nielsen/D&B Research Company, Rick opened the first Learning Express Toys franchise in the Chicago area in 1996, and then became a sub-franchiser, opening nine more stores. Although leaving the corporate environment behind, he has combined his expertise in data and numbers with a passion for the toy retail space. This month, Rick looks at how the latest crazes are driving sales for indies in the US.

Ripe with cash saved up from last year’s lockdowns, and an increase in gifts of money given to kids by grandparents, there is a pent-up demand to spend, experience new products and compete with each other on TikTok with TikTok challenges and showcasing one’s collection or stash of goodies. TikTok is hugely popular and for the first time is driving traffic to physical stores. The media has reported ‘Squishmallow hunts’ where parents drive kids from store to store, looking for their favorite or hard to find Squishmallows. There’s also a growing craze for fidget toys. One family drove four hours to our store in the cold February weather simply to find cool fidget toys. It turned out it was their 10-year-old daughter’s birthday and she wanted to go to Learning Express in Lake Zurich, IL. after following us on Facebook and TikTok. Who would have thought? So how big are these rocketing sales trends? The sales and growth rates we are seeing here in Lake Zurich are being echoed across the US. January was up 49% (YOY), February up 117% and March trending up 133%. As our doors were closed last year from mid-March due to the pandemic, we expect this increase to go much higher – we are seeing truly record dollar sales. Squishmallows introduced a Mariachi series that was on trend, as well as Springtime and Easter assortments that have fueled the market. The latest additions have sold out completely and shelves are dry right now as we write, due to shipping delays and issues with entry into ports. But the Squishmallows line- up throughout 2021 is superb and I’m confident that as soon as we get stock in, it will fly off the shelves, and bring in excited customers. The craze for fidget products under $10 started here in the US with schools and teachers indicating it was OK to attend class online with a fidget toy, to help focus. I believe this then encouraged parents to allow their child to purchase many of these low-cost items with their own money. Then kids began to share what they had on social media. Nobody saw this coming, but the category has seen a massive influx of cash. Having the right product assortment and adding in new types of fidget toys every week, along with stocking the latest Squishmallows, is sure to propel momentum at indies well into 2021. Having TikTok fans join our Facebook Moms online daily, we are ready to stay on top of the latest toy trends, showcase new products and welcome all our customers back in store - when they will value the in-store experience even more.

Richard can be reached on LinkedIn or by email at LE45@sbcglobal.net.

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Feature

Games & Puzzles

The next move

Locked down UK families turned to games and puzzles in their millions in 2020, resulting in an astonishing year for the category. But with restrictions being phased out in the coming weeks, can the category maintain last year’s stellar performance? Rachael Simpson-Jones investigates, with the help some of the category’s biggest players.

I

n the weeks and months ahead, options for how to spend our free time are going to increase dramatically. Sports clubs and beer gardens will open once more, kids will be able to meet their friends in the park for a kickabout, and leisure travel will be back on the cards too. After 12 months of being stuck at home, it’ll be interesting to see how the Games & Puzzles category fares as we all start to enjoy our newfound freedom (sensibly, of course) – will the end of lockdown spell the end of games nights and puzzling sessions? Our contributors don’t think so. “We believe the pandemic has reignited a love for playing games, and we expect to see a spike in sales as households are allowed to mix and start looking for entertainment to enjoy together,” says Emma Weber, marketing and licensing director, Vivid Goliath Group. “Most of our portfolio lends itself to multiple players; as we start to get back to the new normal, the more people who join in a game of Double Ditto or Battle of the Ages, the better.” Roger Martin, Hobby & Independent Channel director for Asmodee UK, agrees. “It’s always been our experience that, once people discover or rediscover the joys of modern board games, it doesn’t take any convincing for them to keep playing,” he says. “Once lockdown ends, we expect to see people getting together more and playing more board games together. Everyone who’s fallen in love with Catan or

Ticket to Ride will want to share it with their loved ones.” It’ll also be interesting to see if new trends emerge this year that reflect what the end of lockdown means to us all in the same way that the trends of 2020 reflected being locked down. Demand for two-player games such as Asmodee’s Patchwork and Jaipur, and Exploding Kitten’s Tacocat Spelled Backwards, increased as couples sought new ways to enjoy each other’s (constant, never-ending) company, as did demand for family games and educational games that could be played by parents and their kids. Our lockdown viewing habits have resulted in an influx of games based on TV quiz and game shows (Taskmaster from Ginger Fox and The Floor is Lava from Vivid Goliath, for example) and viral social media challenges, as well as escape rooms and detective or murder mystery games which require more immersive, role-playing participation. Games that got us up and moving have been reacquainting us with the joys of movement in a fun way; in fact, Tomy’s Active Snap is one of UK & Ireland GM Mary Wood’s top recommendations for retailers. “We’re proud that one in every two adult games sold in 2020 was from Drumond Park, and that we were No.2 overall in Children’s Games,” she adds. “Drumond Park and Tomy games are always very well supported from a marketing perspective – we

Toy World 46

understand the need to invest year in, year out - so retailers should be confident when they select a game from us. From a product development perspective, we have a winning formula with Logo and the ‘Best of’ games, which are part of the Logo family. The new Best of Kids and Best of Sport & Leisure are formats that are already familiar with consumers.” Familiarity and brand trust remains an important factor in purchasing decisions, so it’s no surprise that classic and traditional games have entered 2021 on strong footing. Asmodee is welcoming a 25th Anniversary Edition of Catan as well as a 15th Anniversary Edition of Ticket to Ride to its portfolio this year, offering committed fans definitive versions of two classics that continue to grow in popularity, while Ravensburger celebrates Labyrinth’s 35th birthday with a packaging refresh and a raft of marketing activity across the second half of the year. Mattel, meanwhile, is marking the 50th anniversary of Uno with a raft of new product launches. The company, which ended 2020 as the No. 3 Games manufacturer, says classics remain an important part of its plans thanks to their unique gameplay and nostalgic feel. Kelly Philp, director of marketing, Mattel UK, adds: “Uno is and always has been the game for everyone, and 2021 will be no different. We have a host of exciting activity planned this year, with the new Uno Iconic line, comprising five retro



Feature

Games & Puzzles

decks for each decade since Uno first arrived in the market in 1971, a key launch. Last year, beloved word game Scrabble launched the Where Worlds Collide campaign and this will remain a key part in our plans in 2021, supporting the fantastic growth we have seen on the brand already - nearly 200% YTD. Pictionary Air, a modern twist on the classic game, has also performed incredibly well since launch. We will be expanding the range with new Pictionary Air Kids vs. Grown-Ups, with updated clues for adults and new kid-friendly clues, while continuing to support the brand within our media plans.” Kids’ licences have also played a big part in decision making among parents; Ravensburger saw sales of its kids’ licensed 2D puzzle range increase by 31% in 2020, as parents sought non-screen related solutions to occupy and entertain their children. The company is bolstering its puzzle range this year with new items featuring popular characters including CoComelon, Bluey, Baby Shark and Super Mario. “We consistently develop new additions to our market-leading licensed portfolio, adding new properties and generic designs every year,” comments Katy Fletcher, head of marketing and product development, Ravensburger. “Ravensburger has been developing market-leading games and puzzles for over 130 years and remains a family-owned company. That family ethos and interest in quality products lies at the heart of everything we do. We continue to invest heavily in consumer research, listening to our consumers and talking to our retailers to ensure we respond to market needs. Our talented, skilled and hugely experienced UK-based PD team works with local artists and designers, crafting unique, specially commissioned puzzle designs for all ages, abilities and tastes. Because more people than ever have turned to puzzles during lockdown, we’ve expanded our range of themes, art styles and formats/piece counts. We lead the market in developing new categories; our unique 3D puzzle range saw strong growth of +31% in 2021. New additions for this year include a 540-piece Harry Potter Hogwarts Castle and an impressive model of Sydney Opera House.” From one type of 3D puzzle to another,

Kidicraft has also seen success with its 3D-effect lenticular puzzles, particularly its Harry Potter, Selfies, Howard Robinson and Animal Planet ranges. The company says the popularity of its puzzles lies in their uniqueness, and the fact they aren’t widely available, making them a novel option. Image quality is also key. Kidicraft is lucky enough to work with several different partners including fantasy artists Lisa Parker and Anne Stokes, both of whom create stunning scenes that lend themselves well to lenticular image technology. Roy Greenwood, Kidicraft director, continues: “The new range of Plush & Puzzle, featuring Harry Potter, Batman and more, opens up a new area for us and has already received great advanced orders, and the addition of the artist Steve Crisp to our traditional 1,000-piece puzzles range will further strengthen our offering in the traditional jigsaw puzzle market. We’ll continue to expand our ranges within this category throughout 2021 with further releases in the summer for Q3/Q4. We have also launched our first range of Christmas-themed 1,000-piece puzzles which will be available from August. These will be limited and available on pre-order basis, but with a minimum of only six units per design.” The importance of traditional puzzles, which greatly appeal to older puzzlers, can’t be overestimated – especially when the most recent NPD figures indicate that £30m in value was added to the Games & Puzzles category in 2020, with over half that value on puzzles. In the months ahead, the mental health and mindfulness benefits of puzzles will doubtless play a role in helping some adults readjust to non-lockdown life, offering a quiet moment at the end of a busy day. Ravensburger had identified the rising demand for puzzle relaxation before lockdown, focusing its 2020 Positively Puzzling PR communications around the benefits of the activity, the importance of downtime and mindfulness, and the pleasure that comes from sharing time together with friends and family. Many consumers will also simply have discovered (or rediscovered) puzzling purely as a fun hobby and will be keen to carry on with it even when free time isn’t so free anymore. And while it’s great that kids are returning to school, calls from parents and education professionals for summer catch-up lessons reflect concerns that kids have simply missed too much time in the classroom during lockdown for the short pre-summer stint to undo. As a result, sales of educational games and puzzles may well continue to be high in the coming months. “Ravensburger’s generic First Learning Fun range of children’s puzzles and games delivers plenty of fun but also offers educational benefits linked to the Early Years Foundation syllabus,” says Katy Fletcher. “Fun Day at Playgroup, Toys Tea Party, Where Do We Live and What’s the Weather help children develop understanding of their own environments, family structures and the world around them. Our generic sensory-based games, 123 Dough, Ready Steady Thread and ABC Sand with Me, introduce number, letter and shape recognition in a creative, gentle way, building lifelong confidence. New titles in these ranges will follow this autumn.” So, kids’ learning is being supported,

Toy World 48

and adult mental health and relaxation is too, but how are suppliers’ retail partners being supported? Asmodee, which offers a vast catalogue comprising more games than you could shake a stick at, is aware how important it is to make it as easy as possible for retailers to pick out the titles that will work best for their customers. Grouping key games together into specific ranges allows the company to not only do that, but also to support them with range-specific marketing initiatives. This, Roger Martin tells Toy World, helps titles to perform even better as part of a collection than they would as individual products. He adds: “We’ve also recently updated the contents of these ranges for 2021 to ensure that they are as optimised as possible, as well as launching the new Two-Player Games and Brain Games collections in direct response to the trends of the last year. We’re reacting quickly to provide retailers with what they need.” Kidicraft, meanwhile, has made a commitment to maintain its 2020 prices throughout this year, noting the pressure on prices across all categories due to increasing import freight costs. The company’s low carriage paid order value also allows retailers’ channels to maintain good representation, while not tying up essential cashflow. “We see that we must try and maintain our retailers’ margins, especially as prices are also coming under pressure from the increase in online sales,” explains Roy Greenwood. Over at Vivid Goliath, the sales team will be working with the company’s partners to curate the best ranges for each retailer’s customer base across TV lines and best-sellers, complemented by a strong FOB offering so each and every account has a tailored range and product mix. Vivid Goliath also invested in a TV campaign over Easter to help maintain the sales momentum it has enjoyed throughout Q1. The marketing campaigns, which also include YouTube, will reach kids as well as parents and gifters by making good use of creative content. Emma Weber says that while this is a vital factor in the company securing its share of voice in what is a very competitive market, these campaigns can only be as good as the games behind them. “We have a strong line up, mixing classics such as Shark Bite, Gator Golf, Don’t Wake Dad, Doggie Doo and Wordsearch with innovation and new formats across Sequence and the Floor is Lava - already a huge best seller in the US – plus our new Escape Room games. We are also excited to grow our stake in crime games with Unsolved Case Files, another massive US hit, as well as There’s Been A Murder.” When we asked how Tomy would be supporting its retailers this year, Mary Wood pointed out that Tomy is enjoying fabulous support from them, turning the question somewhat on its head. The company’s marketing plans are still evolving, but will combine the strongest elements of TV, social media, digital and PR, with each title in the Tomy and Drumond Park portfolios benefitting from a bespoke programme. However, Mary adds: “The best way to support our retailers is to ensure we have a good supply of stock for our trusted best-sellers; given the current sales forecasts, and the orders we’re taking from our partners, we are going to need to make some big commitments!” Read on to find out more on the latest new games and puzzles to be hitting shelves this year, and what they offer retailers and consumers alike.


The addictive new fidget toy that'll get you in rhythm!

You won't want to miss out


Company Profile

Exploding Kittens

Cool cats and kittens Toy World spoke to Joeri Hoste, director of international sales at Exploding Kittens, the studio behind the best-selling card game of the same name as well as Throw Throw Burrito and the new two-player Tacocat Spelled Backwards, about the thinking behind its games and what lies ahead for 2021. The Exploding Kittens game portfolio comprises some pretty unusual concepts; when designing your games, what major elements do you focus on? Our mission at Exploding Kittens is to create games that make the people you’re playing with entertaining. Whether that’s hurling weaponised Mexican food in Throw Throw Burrito, or making you sound like a caveman in Poetry for Neanderthals, we want you to put down your screen and celebrate your family and friends in the room.

What do your games offer retailers from a commercial perspective, and on the flip side, what can consumers expect from playing them? The advantage for retailers and consumers is the same - our games have wide appeal and can be enjoyed by families with kids, or adults wanting a games night. Every Exploding Kittens game is fun and strategic, and players have control over how the game is played. For example, our most recent launch, Tacocat Spelled Backwards, can be played by all levels and ages and can easily be made simpler or more strategic by using specific game tactics.

Tacocat Spelled Backwards is designed for only two players. Why is this? We don’t often see family friendly strategy games that are designed specifically for two players, so that’s what we set out to create. Tacocat is our second two-player board game at Exploding Kittens, after A Game of Cat and Mouth, and we have plans in the pipeline to develop even more, starting with our latest launch A Little Wordy, a sneaky two-player letter tile game. Tacocat Spelled Backwards will be supported this year by a robust marketing and PR campaign including digital and social media content across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

Do you think the Covid-19 pandemic, and the huge upsurge in gaming that has resulted from it, have significantly changed how people approach and view the games category? Throughout the pandemic, games have helped bring households of all sizes together for affordable and interactive entertainment, whether around a table or digitally. We want to provide our players with a library of games that inspire, challenge and appeal to a wide range of ages and abilities.

What other new games have you launched recently, and how have they been received by the trade? In the last six months we have also released Poetry for Neanderthals, a competitive single-syllable wordguessing game in which you must ‘speak good’ or risk being hit with an inflatable “No!” stick, and A Game of Cat and Mouth, a fiercely competitive, magnet-

Toy World 50

powered Pinball-esque game that challenges players to launch balls through a cat’s mouth. The response to both games has been very positive. Customers love that Poetry for Neanderthals, which was developed and released during lockdown, can be played in person and over video chat.

Can we expect to see more new offerings as the year progresses? We are focused on expanding our portfolio of games and our global reach throughout 2021. Our newest launch, A Little Wordy, is a two-player game for would-be word wizards and we’re looking forward to seeing our fans’ response to it. We’re also releasing new games within the Exploding Kittens and Throw Throw Burrito franchises. Later this year we will, for the first time ever, be applying a popular animated entertainment licence to the Exploding Kittens franchise, broadening its appeal and audience even further. Game development will also expand into digital releases with the recent release of Kitty Letter, a word unscrambling mobile game, and the upcoming release of Exploding Kittens on the Nintendo Switch.



Games & Puzzles

Mattel 01628 500 000 | www.mattel.com The Games category was one of the major success stories of 2020, with Mattel Games finishing the year as the No. 3 manufacturer, up from No. 6 in 2020, and Uno the top growth property in all Games. With a first-class portfolio of games across all ages and stages, Mattel will continue to build on its success this year with innovative marketing campaigns, new product launches, brand extensions and continued support on family favourites like Scrabble. Loved for over 70 years, Scrabble is always updating as words evolve. A strong and diverse product range continues to support the game’s ongoing success and popularity, including Scrabble Original, Scrabble Junior, Scrabble Harry Potter and more. Fans of the iconic word game should look out for exciting news to be announced later in 2021. Mattel Games celebrates Uno turning 50 this year. A variety of new products will mark this important birthday, alongside exciting campaigns. The new Uno Iconic line launches for spring and includes five retro decks for each decade since Uno first launched in 1971. Popular licensed Uno editions are also available, including Mario Kart, Harry Potter and Minecraft. Following the impressive performance of Pictionary Air in 2020, Mattel Games has expanded the range this year with new Pictionary Air Kids vs. Grown-Ups. This new game makes it easier for children as young as six to join in the fun, with new kid friendly clues including illustrations, and updated clues for adults too. Finally, Whac-a-Mole is joining Puglicious in Mattel’s Kids Games range. Based on the classic arcade game, this easy to learn, fast-paced game features lights and sounds to keep kids engaged. The rules are simple – just bop the moles when they light up. Bop them when they’re not lit, and that player will lose points. A fun way for kids to develop their hand-eye co-ordination and reaction times, Whac-a-Mole can be played in one or two player mode.

Tomy

01392 281927 | www.tomy.com With a partnership that combines over 100 years of experience, Tomy and Drumond Park celebrated a record year in 2020, with a 59% uplift in the games market. Tomy’s newest card game for 2021, Active Snap, meets the growing demand from consumers for games that combine competitive fun with keeping active. With the same underlying rules as traditional snap, Active Snap has a twist - those too slow to shout snap when they notice a matching card will be faced with a range of sporty challenges. This year also sees the introduction of a further nine new titles to the Drumond Park and Tomy Games portfolio across a range of games categories. To meet ongoing demand for the best-selling classic game Pop Up Pirate, Tomy will be extending the Pop Up family with the launch of Ahoy There! later this spring. A card game alternative to the original action game, each player must steal Loot cards from their neighbours to add to their own hand, aiming to keep the best ones for themselves. Curse cards will pop up along the way, determining who will sink or swim. Once each player is on their last card, they can tot up their haul; which pirate will captain the ship, and who will be shown the plank?

Toy World 52



Games & Puzzles

Vivid Goliath 01483 449944 | www.vividtoysandgames.co.uk Building on the strong sales of 2020, Goliath Games has big plans for 2021. Many games within the Goliath portfolio saw their strongest ever sales last year, including Gator Golf, Catchphrase, On Your Marks and the breakout best-seller The Floor is Lava. The company is pleased to be welcoming several classic Goliath games back into its portfolio, including Pop the Pig, Doggie Doo, Gooey Louie and Trionomos Deluxe. Sequence is a continued success, and for 2021 will see the introduction of new formats across travel, premium and jumbo editions. The company is also bolstering its family and adult games range with titles such as Unsolved Case Files, a game that puts players in the shoes of a cold case detective tasked with solving the decades-old murder of Harmony Ashcroft. The family party game Double Ditto has already launched in the US, garnering over 2,500 4.8/5* reviews online to date. Skid Markz, meanwhile, is a drawing game that introduces the ultimate combination of humorous and gross themes for hilarious gameplay. Players drag the sitting dog across the page, using his behind to draw the subject depicted on the card they’ve chosen whilst everyone tries to guess what it is. Those looking for the ultimate generational trivia game will enjoy Battle of the Ages, which pits old school against new school and tests who knows more about the other generation. Engaging new pre-school games will also be added to the range, complementing the standout successes Shark Bite, Banana Blast and Don’t Wake Dad. The preschool, kids and family and adult games ranges will benefit from TV advertising this year, alongside a strong digital campaign targeting parents and gift givers across a variety of games throughout the autumn/winter season.

Smart Toys & Games 01903 885669 | www.smartgames.eu With 2020 well and truly reinvigorating the nation’s love of mind-boggling games, Smart Toys and Games is looking forward to presenting its new spring launches for 2021. A global leader in the creation of multi-level logic games, Smart Games is known for designing unique games with innovative mechanics. The company’s upcoming additions promise more of the same, and will engage the minds of children and adults alike. Three hungry caterpillars will keep players entertained in Apple Twist, a game requiring flexible thinking. With each caterpillar wanting a piece of the same apple, players will need to bend them into the right shape. Not only are the caterpillars adjustable, the fruity game board can also be twisted. 60 challenges to complete, from easy to expert, will offer Apple Twist players plenty of food for thought. Pirates Crossfire challenges players to bring the enemy into the line of fire and sink his ships. Alternatively, they can opt to keep the peace and avoid total war. Pirates Crossfire offers four playing modes and includes 80 challenges (20 in each mode). IQ challenge fans can look forward to two new games in 2021. Firstly, IQ Digits tasks players with placing all the puzzle pieces on the gameboard, while making sure the numbers add up. This unique travel game features 120 challenges, from easy to expert. IQ Circuit, meanwhile, will challenge players to place all the puzzle pieces on the game board to create paths. The game offers 120 challenges across five levels, from Starter to Wizard. For more information, email uk@smart.be.

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Games & Puzzles

Amaroni 01205 260 384 | www.amaroni.com

Haba’s My Very First Games series has been developed by educators and game authors for younger children aged two and over. Each game encourages free-play and introduces kids to taking turns, working as a team, and winning or losing graciously. They also stimulate children by setting appropriate challenges for their age, fostering their early development, holding their interest for a long time and, above all, being fun. Most games play in 10 minutes or less. Here, Fishy, Fishy! is a first fishing game for 1-4 children aged two and over. Players are tasked with catching the same colour sea creature as is shown on the die. If successful, the child can add a pop-out token to their collecting board. In free play, children can experiment with the fishing rod, the ‘sea’ (the bottom of the game box, brightly patterned with a sea theme) and the sea creatures within it, bringing them to life in an imaginative way. The game also introduces children to the rules of play and how to apply them, while fishing with the rod develops hand-eye coordination and strengthens concentration skills. Parents can also engage with their children about sea life and the colourful animals included with the game, enhancing language, auditory and creative skills. This game contains one rod with a worm lure, six sea creatures, one sea, four collecting boards with five figures to pop out, one die with symbols and a set of game instructions. Puzzles help children improve their hand-eye coordination and practise concentration and patience. They also teach colour and shape recognition, plus problem solving through strategy and structure with the repeated sorting of puzzle pieces. Little Hand puzzles from Haba are ideal entry jigsaw challenges. Each consists of only a few large, robust and easy-to-hold cardboard pieces. The 6 Little Hand Puzzles (My Day) set focuses on getting up, brushing teeth, having breakfast, going to nursery class, playing outside, and reading in the evenings. Once all the pieces have been correctly fitted together, the matching picture cards can be assigned to the puzzles. The game includes a wooden figure made from beech for free play. Amaroni is the official distributor for Haba toys and games in the UK. For further information, contact salessupport@amaroni.com.

Gibsons 020 8661 8866 | www.gibsonsgames.co.uk Gibsons, the family-owned jigsaw puzzle and board game company, is preparing for the launch of its latest spring puzzles. Seven new designs in a range of piece counts will soon be hitting shelves, all of which are sure to keep families entertained. Amongst the new releases are four ‘blue box’ 1,000-piece designs. Steve Crisp has painted his idea of a perfect Summer’s Day, while Make Some Noise will get consumers excited for festival season. Gibsons is also introducing a playful puzzle from the talented Linda Jane Smith, Gerty’s Garden Retreat, while Derek Roberts has recreated the beautiful Lake Windermere in puzzle form, ideal for fans of the Lakes and those retailers poised to benefit from a summer of staycations. In response to high demand, Gibsons will be producing one of its best-selling puzzles, Gardener’s Delight, in a 500XL-piece count option as well as the 1,000-piece. Gibsons has also announced the addition of two new designs to the White Logo Collection of jigsaw puzzles. This range is ideally suited to puzzlers looking for less traditional scenes to enjoy. Thai Market, a new 1,000-piece addition, transports puzzlers to the markets of Bangkok. Originally commissioned for Hong Kong airlines, this breath-taking ariel image was photographed and edited by the talented Lisheng Chang. Italian Riviera has been illustrated by Bethany Lord. This 636-piece panoramic puzzle depicts a lazy summer’s day in Italy, where activities include taking a dip in the blue riviera or escaping the hot sun under a brightly coloured beach umbrella. As with all Gibsons jigsaws, these new releases are made from 100% recycled puzzle board and FSC paper. Featuring artwork from some of the best artists in the world, each beautifully illustrated piece is designed to fit perfectly with the other pieces, while the thickest puzzle board on the market guarantees each puzzle will stand up to repeated completions. Gibsons has also made a number of positive changes to its processes, so consumers can be sure they’re getting the same great puzzles with minimal impact on the environment. Puzzle boxes have been given a fresh new look, and biodegradable clear labels are now used to secure lids instead of shrink wrap, significantly reducing plastic waste. They also use vegetablebased inks, while the gloss coating on the box gives it extra protection. For more information, contact sales@gibsonsgames.co.uk.

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Games & Puzzles

Asmodee 01420 593 593 | www.asmodee.co.uk Asmodee is diversifying its extensive games and puzzles portfolio even further with the introduction of a major new product line, Loopy Loopers. These highly addictive fidget toys challenge users to establish a rhythm that will keep their marble spinning around its circular course. With four different models available, featuring different obstacles through which to navigate the marble, each one requires players to discover the knack needed to be successful. Offering not only entertainment and satisfaction, the act of settling into a rhythm aids relaxation and sharpens focus, meaning Loopy Loopers pack a big punch for a small product. May sees the arrival of BrainBox Harry Potter, an exciting new addition to the best-selling range of 10-minute educational games from Green Board Games, Asmodee’s first fully owned UK studio. The game offers fans an opportunity to revisit the Wizarding World via family-friendly BrainBox gameplay. Players have 10 seconds to study a card featuring stills from the beloved film series before answering questions on what they saw. With BrainBox titles having already sold over 8m copies worldwide, covering topics from maths and English to football and dinosaurs, the brand’s partnership with the Harry Potter licence is sure to attract a great deal of attention. As always, Asmodee continues to grow its flagship Dobble brand, with the classic edition once again confirmed by NPD data for 2020 as the UK’s No.1 selling card game. Major new licensed editions featuring Pixar, Marvel, Paw Patrol and Minions are all set to hit the market in 2021, ensuring that the addictive image-matching game will carry on going from strength to strength.

Ravensburger 01869 363 830 | www.ravensburger.com Having witnessed a huge surge in demand for its games and puzzles portfolio over the past year, 2021 is all about maintaining the momentum at Ravensburger. This year promises a strong new range of additions set to keep the family entertained and puzzlers puzzling, all supported by a full marketing programme. Ravensburger’s market leading adult puzzle range offers something for all tastes, including classic nostalgia, detailed art challenges and contemporary designs aimed at younger consumers. New additions for spring include 99-piece Puzzle Moments, a great gifting line that appeals to both new puzzle consumers as well as those looking for a jigsaw that can be completed within 30 minutes. Later this year, Ravensburger is extending its lower piece count offering with a new range of 200- and 300-piece puzzles ideal for puzzlers seeking a mindful moment away from screens and daily distractions. All coming in at larger piece counts, experienced puzzlers will enjoy European Map Quirky Circus, a vintage map dating from 1841, Blooming Beautiful by Staffordshire based artist Anne Searle, and Exotic Escape Beyond the Wild by Wiltshirebased Rebecca McCullogh. These special UK commissions have been developed by Ravensburger’s experienced Oxfordshire-based development team. There are also exciting new additions to the 1,500-piece+ ranges, including a 1,500-piece Hogwarts Map. The range will be supported with a social media and influencer campaign, alongside the popular ongoing Positively Puzzling PR campaign. New to Ravensburger’s portfolio of games, the all-new #UpsideDownChallenge game, which launches in autumn, will flip players’ worlds upside down. An entertaining game that turns the simplest of challenges into an almost impossible task, players use the specialised goggles provided to try and win as many challenges as possible. Can they write names upside down? Pour one cup of water into another whilst upside down? This game will keep friends and family laughing for hours, perfect for games nights and parties. Labyrinth celebrates its 35th birthday. To celebrate, there will be a packaging refresh and plenty of marketing activity across the second half of the year for this well-loved family game. Retailers should also look out for range extensions from its popular series of immersive licensed games, in which players take on the role of a classic character and play the movie. Next in the series and launching later this year will be Alien, Fate of the Nostromo. Ravensburger will be supporting its games profile with a host of high-profile marketing activities, from TV, YouTube and social media activity to online demos and influencer campaigns.

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STEP CLOSER AND BECOME THE DETECTIVE

Search for clues. Follow your instincts.

FIND THE KILLER.

THE CLOCK IS TICKING...

CAN YOU COLLECT THE GOLD AND To find out more contact Tactic Games

GET OUT ON TIME?

Phil O’nion +44 (0) 7970 779842 phil@tacticgames.co.uk

www.youtube.com/ TacticBoardGames

tactic.net


Games & Puzzles

Orchard Toys 01953 859539 | www.orchardtoys.com Coinciding with retailers opening their doors again, spring sees Orchard Toys add three news lines to its range. The two new games and activity jigsaw puzzles champion Orchard Toys’ values of education and fun, all with the Orchard Toys twist consumers have come to know and love. Wiggly Words is a brainteasing dominoes-style word game suitable for children from the age of six. Players race to play all their wiggly worm cards by joining heads with tails to spell words. The double-sided cards mean there’s multiple ways to make different words in a wiggly domino line. Not without its quirkiness, Wiggly Words characters include a worm wearing a sombrero, a lookalike David Bowie, and even a superhero. Players can practise spelling words they already know, as well as learn new words while enjoying this fun and educational game. Dinosaur Opposites features 20 two-piece puzzles with friendly dinosaur characters to match. The chunky pieces show opposites such as ‘slow/fast’, ‘first/last, ‘smooth/bumpy’, and many more. Once the puzzles are complete, they can be used to encourage conversation with young children. Finally, Jumble Jungle is a wild introduction to early game play, turn taking, matching and memory with an exciting twist. In this simple pairs game, players race to collect the most animals while watching out for the Cheeky Cheetahs who could pinch their cards. Suitable for children aged between two and five, Jumble Jungle is the perfect first game for pre-schoolers.

Tactic Games 07970 779842 | www.tactic.net Tactic’s gripping new collection of Crime Scene Games invites players to solve crimes around the world, all from different time periods. Challenged to find the evidence, amateur detectives will be immersed in the crime story as they discover and decipher the correct lead, which reveals the clues needed to solve the next puzzle. Launching in September, the series includes London 1892, Moscow 1989, Brooklyn 2002, and Helsinki 2012. The award-winning 15 Minutes to Self-Destruct introduced dramatic race-against-time gameplay in 2020. Building on the excitement, Tactic is now adding 15 Minute Heist to the range for autumn. Players work collaboratively as a team of safe breakers, with the aim of grabbing a stash of gold contained in the underground reserve of the national bank, before the special forces arrive. Looking ahead to Halloween, spooky family game Escape from Ghost Castle is a fun escape room inspired board game which tasks players with choosing a hiding place and trying to sneak out of the castle before the ghosts catch them. Perfect for fans of the BBC’s MasterChef, Tactic is excited to be launching three new after-dinner games. Each sees budding chefs compete in food related mini games to win their pick of the ingredients, before presenting their finished dish at the end of the game. Catering for all tastes, with options including Italian, Indian and Vegetarian, these officially licensed MasterChef games will be perfect for playing al-fresco with friends this summer. The best-selling Of The World trivia series will be expanded in August with the addition of Heroes of the World, covering famous inventors, authors and leaders. A new compact version of the Of The World games has also been designed to test the general knowledge of older players; choose from Architecture, Pop Culture, Brands, and OMG of the World, each containing 50 cards, a scorepad and a pencil. Tactic has also partnered with Finnish teachers to develop educational, ecological and ethical games for pre-schoolers. The Let’s Learn series will help make learning fun across a variety of topics, from Letters, Numbers and Shapes to Nature, Skills and Trivia. A highlight of this new collection is Children of the World, which encourages young players aged five and above to learn about cultures, natural wonders, landmarks and traditions as they travel around the world map board, answering questions as they go. For more information, contact Phil O’nion, UK sales manager: phil@tacticgames.co.uk.

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Games & Puzzles

Hasbro 0208 569 1234 | www.hasbro.co.uk In 2021, Hasbro Gaming will continue bringing families together with classic brands such as Monopoly, Cluedo and Twister. This year will also see the launch of renewed and diversified classics including Monopoly Builder, Hungry Hungry Hippo Launchers and Monopoly Junior Peppa Pig Edition. Monopoly Builder combines the gameplay consumers know and love with a strategy twist. The game comes to life on Monopoly Island, located in the centre of the board. Players travel the board, buying properties and collecting rent and resources, while also using builder’s blocks to build their island city. The more a player builds, the more points they’ll earn. The game ends when the penthouse has been built. In Monopoly Crooked Cash, things aren’t always as they seem - someone has added fake cash and fake Chance cards. Fortunately for the players, Mr. Monopoly has given them his decoder so they can find the fakes and still make a fortune. This exciting game of hidden reveals lets players challenge their opponents for using fakes with Accusation Coins. These special coins must be used wisely, as each participant only gets a few. The player with the most money at the end - real or fake - wins. Monopoly Crooked Cash comes complete with Monopoly tokens that reflect the deceptive theme of this fun take on the classic game. Exciting and quick to play, the Monopoly Bid card game is a game of chance, luck and strategy. Players bid in blind auctions, pay with money cards, steal properties with Action cards and change their luck with Wild cards. Played in rounds, everyone gets a chance to host an auction. When it’s time to bid on a property, players choose how much money they want to risk. Then everyone shouts, “1, 2, 3, Bid!” and lays their money cards down. The player who bid the most money gets that property, and the first to collect three property sets wins. Monopoly Bid is an ideal choice for game night and parties, or as an entertaining indoor activity for kids aged seven and over. Hungry Hungry Hippos Launchers invites players to join a feeding frenzy as they launch plastic watermelons directly into their hippo’s mouth. The motorised game unit means the hippos open and close their mouths repeatedly while players continue to fling the melons, hoping to land the most shots. Each swallowed watermelon will roll back down the scorecard ramp. Like the classic Hungry Hungry Hippos game, this electronic game is fun for kids aged four and up. Monopoly: Peppa Pig Edition sees players move their Peppa Pig, George Pig, Mummy Pig or Daddy Pig token around the board, buying properties such as Snowy Mountain, Peppa’s House and Grandpa Pig’s Garden. Kids can hone their counting skills as they tot up their Monopoly Money throughout the game. This game has been designed for kids aged five and up and is a good introduction to classic Monopoly gameplay.

Golden Bear 01952 608 308 | www.goldenbeartoys.com Golden Bear has announced the launch of three new games in the Trapped series, which will continue to bring the fun and excitement of an escape room experience into the home. Designed by real escape-room experts, these family-friendly games are designed to get everyone up and about, thinking, talking and having fun. Each is suitable for children aged eight years and over and contains everything players need to turn any room in the home into an escape room. The pack contents can be stuck on walls and placed on surfaces in a room of choice, before participants work together to crack the clues, solve the puzzles and escape. The new range of games includes on-trend themes that will resonate with families, including The Zoo, Mission to Mars and Flight 927, each with its own content, back-story and level of difficulty. As the easiest of the new titles, The Zoo is the ideal game to play with younger children, before progressing to the medium Mission to Mars or the harder Flight 927, more suitable for teens through to adults. The first series of Trapped - Art Heist, The Carnival and Bank Job - launched in July 2020, and sales have exceeded expectations for Golden Bear. The company puts the appeal of the range down to the fact that each game provides a very different experience to that of a traditional board game, and also allows families to enjoy the escape room experience from the comfort of their own familiar surroundings. The new games will be available from the end of May and will be supported by a robust PR, social and digital campaign. For more information contact K.lesser@goldenbeartoys.co.uk.

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Games & Puzzles

Galt Toys 0161 428 9111 | www.galttoys.com Jumbo continues to provide inspiring products for puzzle fans to enjoy, including a new range for 2021, Falcon Contemporary. The company has carefully selected artists that represent a diverse range of styles, resulting in an assortment of titles that will appeal to puzzlers worldwide. Each of the beautiful 1,000-piece puzzles shines a spotlight on the finest modern artwork and designs, with titles such as Piccadilly Circus, London Sightseeing, The Wild, Portraits, Flora and Fauna, and the topical Life in Lockdown. The range uses only 100% recycled cardboard and has also been developed with smaller, more compact boxes that are free from plastic shrink wrap, creating a more sustainable way to puzzle. Jumbo’s Falcon de Luxe range is also expanding with a selection of exquisitely illustrated 500, 2x 500, and 1,000-piece high quality puzzles. April releases include the picturesque 500-piece Highland Farm and the 2x 500-piece set, Mail by Rail, which celebrates the mail service at its finest. The selection of charming new 1,000-piece puzzles includes idyllic strolls down memory lane with The Bandstand, The Blacksmith’s Cottage and Pharmacy Shoppe, while Sports Day, Sausage and Cider Festival, and The Country Diary Postcards depict summer fun and the beauty of the natural world. Jan van Haasteren is the leading puzzle brand in The Netherlands, with a growing UK fanbase. In April, Jumbo is introducing more amusing puzzle capers with the release of the 1,000-piece La Tomatina. Jumbo’s leading puzzle brand, Wasgij, is the original brainteasing jigsaw. Puzzlers are tasked with using the humorous illustrations as well as their imaginations to piece together the ‘solution’ to what’s shown on the box. January saw the release of a selection of new 1,000-piece Wasgij puzzles designed to really put fans of the brand to the test, including Wasgij Mystery 20 – Mountain Mayhem! and Wasgij Destiny 22 – Trip to the Tip!, while best-sellers such as Retro Original 5 – Late Booking! returned as part of the Retro collection. More puzzling fun can be had throughout the year, with four new Wasgij puzzles launching in June, including the eagerly-awaited festive Christmas puzzle. Stealth and secrecy are the aims of the game in Stratego Assassin’s Creed. This special edition of the legendary strategy game is new for 2021, and transports players back in time to 12th-century Jerusalem, where they will commence battle between the Assassins and the Templars.

PlayMonster UK 01628 488 944 | www.interplayuk.com PlayMonster UK has big plans for its games range in 2021, following on from a successful 2020 which saw significant investment from the company in digital marketing, TV, social media and PR campaigns for its brands. This activity resulted in the prominent featuring of Drone Home on Phillip Schofield’s How To Spend It Well at Christmas, while 5 Second Rule Spintensity was showcased by Dick & Dom as well as several features in national gift guide press, and on social media, totalling an impressive 1b reach. Helping to make family game time a fast paced and thrillingly tense affair, PlayMonster UK is introducing unique new games concepts this year. Pop-A-Tops, billed as ‘Little games, Big on fun!’, are pocket-sized containers full of hilarious gameplay. Perfect as a travel game or stocking filler, and with an attractively low RRP, the range launches this spring. In Match-A-Martian, players press the popping top and match the Martian, colour and shape on the cards to the same detail shown on the dice. Bake-A-Cake, meanwhile, challenges players to be the first to bake and build their cake to win. More titles will be available for autumn/ winter, including the on-trend Dino Scores and Pet Factor. PlayMonster UK is also supporting Drone Home, the first ever game to feature a real flying drone, with TV throughout spring/summer. For the first time, Silly Sounds, the family-fun party game in which players get to make and guess silly sounds, will be TV advertised from April. More exhilarating family games will launch for the autumn/winter season. PlayMonster’s No.1 brand, 5 Second Rule, receives a refresh with a new tubular version of the Mini Travel Game, and the main game makes a triumphant return with a game board and an electronic timer. Set to be new family favourites, Off the Rails features Ted the Tortoise, who has fallen asleep while speeding toward unfinished track. Players aim to build the track and prevent Ted coming off the rails to win. In Whose Nest, the Crafty Croc has stolen all the eggs, starting a race to return them to the nest to win. Flippity Frog, meanwhile, is a fun memory game with a twist, where no two routes are the same. Players must help the mummy frog safely deliver her froglets home to win, else it will be dinner time for the big bad fish.

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Games & Puzzles

Cartamundi 01268 511 522 | www.cartamundi.com

With kidults representing 27% of the total toy sales in 2020, and demand showing no signs of decreasing, Cartamundi feels that retro and nostalgic games are here to stay. To reflect this, April sees the launch of new Shuffle card games based on classic TV and movie properties from Universal. First up is Back to the Future, in which players join forces to get the DeLorean to the requisite 88mph needed for time travel. The Knightrider card game features lifelong rivals KITT and KARR, who go head-to-head in a destructive battle for victory. One of the world’s most famous extra-terrestrials comes to life in a card game that tasks players with using action cards to find E.T.’s phone parts, while the Jaws franchise extends further with a clever and nerve-racking hunting game. The Shuffle Play & Learn range is a new assortment of teacher-approved games that follow the National Curriculum Key Stages. The products are written in a unique text that make the games easier to read for children with dyslexia, aiding learning outcomes and enjoyment. The launch range includes Colours & Shapes and Writing Letters, with Numbers and Clock Reading launching later in the year. This year also sees several exciting launches in the pre-school games space, as the Shuffle brand welcomes Shuffle Junior. The line-up kicks off with Into the Wild, a developmental discovery into the world of wildlife. Early years approved, the range also includes games such as Matching & Memory, Counting, and Shapes. Colourful flashcards feature the alphabet and numbers, while fun Bingo and Dominoes games as well as a giant floor puzzle and 4-in-1 jigsaw are also available. The range is fully supported with a heavyweight marketing campaign featuring a tie-in with conservation charities and celebrity parents. The Shuffle Junior range is also set to expand further with popular pre-school licences such as Timmy Time and Winnie The Pooh. On the back of the sellout success of the Disney Race Home and Home Sprint Board Games, Cartamundi is introducing further new titles from the Disney franchise. The first of many new additions will be Disney Princess Race N Chase, a fast-paced and frantic game played on a 3D board with moving bridges. In addition, 2021 sees the launch of the Shuffle Rondo range, which features adorable collectible 3D figurines and card games. The launch range features Frozen II and Mickey Mouse, with new additions planned for autumn/winter. In line with its commitment to become single-use plastic free by 2023, Shuffle’s best-selling 4-in-1 games will transition to become Cartamundi’s first plastic free card game range. Finally, Perfectly Puzzled makes its debut in 2021. A puzzle brand with a twist, each offering turns even the most banal scene into a fun puzzle, using beautiful imagery to take puzzlers somewhere breathtaking.

Kidicraft 01282 505988 | www.kidicraft.com Britain has been gripped by jigsaw puzzle mania, and Kidicraft has significantly increased its production to cater to the significantly increased demand by adding numerous new ranges and launching fresh designs, both generic and licensed, to appeal to puzzlers of all ages and tastes. Following on from the incredibly successful launch of the Kevin Walsh Nostalgia traditional 1,000-piece puzzle range last year, Kidicraft has increased this everexpanding range yet further, bringing the total to 15 eye-catching designs featuring scenes to reminisce over while puzzling. These include A Stop for Tea, Taking on Fuel, and The Village Pub. Further designs will be added from July including three Christmas designs. The Christmas designs will be limited; retailers are advised to pre-order soon, for delivery from August onwards, if they would like to secure stock. Ye Olde Toy Shoppes is one of the new 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzles from the artist Steve Crisp. There are six impressive designs within this new range, all of which are available now. A new addition to Kidicraft’s licensed portfolio, the Plush and Puzzle range comprises Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Batman and Superman plush characters, each accompanied by a 300-piece Prime 3D puzzle. The plush toys stand approximately 18cm high. Kidicraft has also launched new designs within its best-selling Harry Potter range. These include Voldemort and Slytherin 500-piece Prime 3D puzzles, which use the latest 3D lens technology to give startling depth and motion to the image. New 500-piece Batman & Robin and Superman puzzles round up the extensions to these ranges. With early trade shows being cancelled, Kidicraft is offering a 5% ‘No Show’ discount on carriage paid orders. Orders must be placed and shipped on or before 14th May 2021. The company is constantly adding new designs and ranges throughout the year; to stay up to date, retailers should follow Kidicraft on its social media platforms. For more information, email Sales@kidicraft.com.

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®

FOR EVERY ACTION there’s a reaxion!

BUILD NEXT LEVEL DOMINO TRACKS!

BUILD and destruct!

Supported by heavyweight TV, digital and influencer campaigns

01483 449944 www.vividtoysandgames.co.uk


Games & Puzzles

HTI 01253 778888 | www.htigroup.co.uk HTI Toys offers an extensive collection of games, with 30 lines for retailers to choose from. The company’s portfolio has grown over the years to include classic family favourites as well as modern, on-trend games. Recycling and sustainability are at the forefront of HTI’s priorities and, to reflect this, the company has introduced OPRL labelling and FSC certification across its HTI Gaming and Woodworks brands. Significant tooling investment from the company has resulted in outstanding quality and content, as well as great value for money. This year will see the introduction of eight new games, sure to be as big a hit with children as they will be with parents. Although the boxes for these games can be used for storage, FSC recyclable packaging is supplied with all board games as standard. In keeping with the increasing popularity of jungle animals, HTI has designed new games including Whack-A-Mal, in which players have to catch the animals before they duck, as well as Bash & Dash, and Chimpan Tree, an action-packed game of chimp launching. With the demand for wooden toys showing no signs of slowing, HTI Toys has worked hard to completely refresh its Woodworks brand, with investment in a new style guide and eight new lines added to this popular range. Affordable and educational, and made from FSC certified wood, the range comprises multiple chunky puzzles and floor puzzles, plus much more.

University Games 020 7254 0100 | www.university-games.co.uk To celebrate a summer of football, University Games’ highly anticipated Official England Lionesses Subbuteo Main Game will launch this May, joining the Subbuteo Main Game and Official England Main Game. Subbuteo a was best-seller for 2020 and a top Christmas toy following a successful relaunch and heavyweight multi-media campaign, which will continue throughout 2021. New accessories include an updated Fences Set and the new Virtual Assistant Referee (VAR) Set. New additions to the kids and family portfolios include Quicksand, Anti-Monopoly and Judge Your Friends, while Lagoon welcomes a series of new Tool Box games. Hammered, Nailed It and You Know the Drill Tool Box Games are perfect for any DIY fan. Presented in toolbox-style packaging, options include charades, trivia and more. Following the 2020 launch of Murder Mystery Case files, two new Crime Case Files need to be solved this year. Case Files can be enjoyed solo or as a group, as players review the evidence to identify the assailant and solve the crime. Continuing with the crime theme, Host Your Own… and Murder Mysteries both make a compelling entertainment option for both inperson and virtual dinner parties and games nights. The evergreen Murder Mystery titles benefit from a contemporary new look; players can enjoy the same great content, but in a new Millennial and Gen Z style. Murder on a Cruise Ship and Murder in Paris, from Lagoon, also join this year’s crime line-up. Both are presented in an elegant whisky-style gift box and contain everything needed to host the perfect murder mystery night. University Games’ puzzle range was a hit in 2020 and there are plenty of new additions arriving this spring. Two new 1,000-piece puzzles have been added to the bestselling Beatles puzzle range. The new Ultimate Beatles Collage puzzle and Let it Be puzzle, featuring the world-famous 12th and final studio album cover, will be popular with Beatles fans. There are also new arrivals to the best-selling Educa puzzle range with titles including Marvel Heroes, The Avengers, Frozen, Disney Princesses, and The Mandalorian Grogu. New for 2021, University Games is launching a new double-sided board game based on Judith Kerr’s The Tiger Who Came to Tea storybook. Specifically created for kids from the age of two years, players must uncover treats for the Tiger to create the ultimate tea party. The reverse side features a fun domino game. Both games are quick set up with easy to play rules and encourage the development of fine motor skills as well as aiding colour and object matching skills. The Tiger Who Came to Tea board game joins a 24-piece Floor Puzzle, 4-in-1 Puzzle Set and Memory Card Game. My First 100 Words introduces kids to their essential first words and is based on the popular book series. The series of games features the Numbers and Shapes Bingo Game, the My First 100 Words Activity Game, and, new for 2021, three different Matching Card Games – Words, Alphabet and Animals. The In the Night Garden range includes a 24-piece Giant Floor puzzle, 4-in1 Shaped Puzzle Set and The Great Garden Adventure. Offering twice the fun and twice the play value, the colourful double-sided board game features all the characters and garden landmarks from the show. For more information, email sales@ugames.uk.com.

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t’s been just five years since we launched the Smart brand in the UK, and I firstly wanted to thank everyone who has supported us on our journey so far, from retailers, online partners, specialist education channels, media partners, PR teams and designers; you have all helped us become an established UK brand. Consumers seem to love what we have started and we now have very exciting plans to announce for 2021. 2020 was a very challenging year for everyone, both personally and economically and whilst 2021 has again started with more difficult times, we can at least begin to see signs of a brighter future. Now more than ever, it is important to focus on working and helping each other, supporting the vulnerable and protecting everyone around us. The toy industry is a very powerful force for good and that has been shown even more during 2020. We have grown significantly as a business during the past year, which has been driven by many factors including very much needed family home entertainment, home schooling, self-development, mindfulness, the growth in STEAM/STEM and of course just having some fun! During these times, we needed fun and laughter. Our product range has also grown in the last year as the design team has been very busy, largely from home, creating more great new products for everyone to enjoy. Our award-winning Smart Games range has again seen the introduction of many exciting new titles in the one player and brainteaser category, with the all new multi-player section adding more family wide play opportunities. This was all supported by our new ‘Up for a Smart Challenge’ marketing and advertising campaign across all social media and in the national press, with impactful point of sale material always available for our partners. This year will see the introduction of 11 new products including Grabbit, Dragon Inferno, Pirates Crossfire, Diamond Quest, Apple Twist, Cubiq, IQ Circuit, IQ Digits, Jump In’ XXL, Squirrels Go Nuts XXL, and IQ Puzzler Pro XXL. In 2020, the IQ range sold over 3m units globally. We intend to maintain our worldwide leadership in logic puzzle games with a greater marketing investment in 2021. Our SmartMax brand had a particularly strong year, outperforming the construction sector growth by some way. The brand helps children discover the magic of magnetic construction at an early age (1+) in a completely safe way. They can experience the power of attraction while building imaginative new creations that stimulate their development skills in a fun way. The pre-school range is performing extremely well, with the My First range enjoying award-winning accolades globally. This year we have introduced My First Acrobats, which joins the recently added My First Sounds & Senses and My First Vehicles. GeoSmart also had a strong year in the construction aisle. With sets that start from 3+, the innovative dual safety system is set for another year of growth. The system has patented stainless steel

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magnetic locking pieces that ensure GeoSmart is safe, strong and easy to clean, and offers longevity too. GeoSmart’s system includes spinners, wheels, tracks, lights, motors and remote controls to provide a colourful and creative play experience. 2021 will also see the expansion of our activity sector. Launched in January, Smartivity is our new DIY science and engineering construction system for children aged 6+. Made from sustainable engineered wood, it is already laser-cut and needs no glue or tools. From cars to rollercoasters and music machines to robots, children will enjoy building, playing and learning from these brilliant STEM activity sets, helping to inspire future generations of engineers. Our Skillmatics collection will also continue to grow with additional learning aids that help parents at every step of the learning cycle. Focusing on developing over 17 key learning skills, from problem solving, memory, reading, reflective thinking and much more, these activity sets will help build core skills and reinforce key learning concepts – all through the joy of play! With Skilly Billy as a companion, together with wipe clean multi-use play boards, there are hours of fun and learning to enjoy.

We hope you enjoy these new initiatives. With a fast growing portfolio, we would like to take this opportunity to welcome two new sales team members to the Smart UK family. Natalie Cox joined us in 2020 as our National Sales Manager and Rory Kelly has just joined us as our Key Account Manager, also covering Scotland and Ireland. They are both incredibly experienced and their teamwork has already played a part in our growth plans. We are so looking forward to what this expanded team can achieve together. Everyone is invited to visit our all-new Smart Studio, initially virtually, but hopefully in person very soon; afternoon tea at Arundel Castle is always an option. The newly constructed s complete with genius bar, lighting, cameras and the latest in communications tech, is now open. Please do feel free to join us - catalogues are also available now. We thank you for the resilience, positivity and close co-operation of the last year and look forward to sharing in your future product plans. We are here to help and support in every way we can. Let’s re-build together.

Natalie Cox

Rory Kelly

Stay safe and healthy! Karen Clarke and The Smart Team



Games & Puzzles

Big Potato 020 3620 9495 | www.bigpotato.co.uk Herd Mentality, Big Potato’s biggest party game of 2020, is officially back in stock. Players new to the game should be reassured by its simple rules. The aim of the game is to win eight cow tokens before anyone else. In each round, players will hear a random question. Examples include: “What’s the worst day of the week?”, “Out of all the players, who is the best dressed today?”, and “What is the best Christmas movie?” Everyone writes down an answer, then reveals them one by one. If the player’s answer is part of the majority, they get to collect a cow token from the paddock in the middle and take one step closer to victory. Players must remember that it’s not about writing the most ‘correct’ answer, but about writing the most popular one. However, there’s one cow in the paddock that players won’t want to collect - the pink cow. If a player’s answer is the odd one out, they’ll have to add the pink cow to their herd. Players in possession of the pink cow cannot win the game, so another player ideally needs to pick it up before it’s too late. Herd Mentality is one of Big Potato’s most popular games and is set to be the company’s biggest bet this year, supported by an integrated marketing campaign to drive awareness and sales. Retailers are urged to place orders quickly to secure stock. Big Potato also has plenty of new offerings coming through for 2021, including a fluffy bao bun game, a social deduction game featuring some sneaky snakes and the company’s first ever puzzle. For more information, email trade@bigpotato.co.uk.

Character Options 01616 339 800 | www.character-online.com Launched for spring with TV support behind it, Totem Infernal Power challenges players to build the Totem Tower by stacking the tops in size order. The fun begins when the first top is launched, and the tower begins to spin. This kicks off the race to build the Totem Tower, stacking as many of the spinners as possible while keeping the totem spinning. Each of the pieces has a specific shape and is equipped with different coloured LEDs which light up as soon as they are placed on top of one another. Stacking all five pieces creates a multi-coloured totem, but the real challenge is how long players can keep their totem spinning. Next, Character Options invites players to work together in a bid to Stop the Robots. Set for release this autumn, and already scheduled to be the headlining game at the upcoming Character Kidz event, this new cooperative game is set in a world where robots are threatening a city. Players must find and destroy the robots before it’s too late, using clever voice recognition walkie-talkies to talk to their virtual partner. By working together, they can identify the robot, solve the puzzles and cut the correct wires. Electronic Spin the Bottle either dares players to perform songs and dances, or answer ‘truths’ that lay bare what they really think. This hilarious game features hundreds of questions, and players can also record their own truths and dares to add to the fun. Projex is a projecting game arcade. Players can test their speed and skill by blasting moving targets projected onto any light-coloured wall, all from the comfort of their own home, and without the need for TV screens or sensors. The game features three targets, five built-in games and three skill levels suitable for a wide player age range. For more information about the full games portfolio, which also includes PenSilly and Pokémon Trainer Trivia games, email sales@charactergroup.plc.uk.

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Games & Puzzles

John Adams 01480 414 361 | www.johnadams.co.uk For 2021, John Adams Leisure is bringing back two favourites from the 80s: Ghost Castle and Go for Broke. In Ghost Castle, players explore a haunted castle and try to avoid traps set by a mean-spirited ghost. The aim is to get out of the castle as quickly as possible and not be left behind. In Go for Broke, players aim to be the first to spend a million. They can choose to live the high life, charter helicopters and yachts, buy and sell antiques, bet wildly on the stock exchange, gamble in the games room or buy a motor racing team - as long as they squander the money as fast as possible. In 2020, Rubik’s celebrated its 40th anniversary and featured once again on ITV’s How to Spend It Well at Christmas, while the Rubik’s Cube was named the No. 1 retro toy of all time on Channel 5’s The Toys that made Christmas Great. This year, the Rubik’s range is being extended with a new Rubik’s Race Pack & Go set, a handy travel version of the best-selling Race game, which will sit alongside the existing collection of puzzles and games. Peaky Blinders has been transformed into a strategic card game. Peaky Blinders: Faster Than the Truth requires players to interact with each other and form alliances, whilst pursuing their own agenda. Also joining the range is the Pac-Man Card Game. This family-friendly card game, featuring one of the world’s most popular video game characters, is quick and easy to learn, with three fun ways to play. Family favourite Rummikub, which recently celebrated its 70th anniversary, welcomes new additions including a Vintage style wooden version, a special Anniversary Edition, a zipped Mini Pouch for on-the-go play and a premium Black version with black tiles in a giftable tin. TV Gameshow fans will find Beat the Chasers, Lingo and a new Tipping Point card game included in the range, as well as refreshed versions of Tipping Point and The Cube board games. All key launches will benefit from a mix of TV, VOD and digital advertising as well as full PR, influencer and social media plans. Contact the sales team at John Adams to find out more. The 2021 Headu range enables educators and parents to get a head start with home learning beyond the classroom. Engaging new educational games include the Easy Coding Game, which introduces young children to coding and encourages them to solve problems effectively in a fun and accessible manner. Also joining the range is the Storytelling Game for Children. Kids are encouraged to express emotions and narrations, while constructing stories and imaginary characters to help them memorise words and text, develop communication skills and get creative. The Puzzle 8+1 products are available in farm and dinosaur themes. These puzzles provide hours of play value and plenty of chances to create new things. Jumbo doublesided jigsaw pieces let kids discover the world around them, recognise animals, and develop their dexterity and fine motor skills. The full range of Headu games and puzzles is now available exclusively from Peterkin. For more information, please contact the Peterkin sales team at sales@peterkin.co.uk.

Mookie Toys 01525 722 769 | www.mookie.co.uk In 2019, Mookie partnered with Yulu Games. Since then, the companies have worked together to bring Yulu’s innovative games to the UK. Break the Board was a hit throughout 2020. Mookie will continue to support this interactive game into 2021 with a strong TV marketing campaign. Axetreme will be a new release from Mookie, a fun, interactive game that is ideal for either solo play or challenges with friends. The game sees players throwing lightweight axes at an electronic target. Mookie is pleased to be launching Noise Pollution this spring, a card focused game with a loud twist. Players win the game by seeing who can get the most laughs from their opponent; they wait to see what sound the speaker plays and use the most fitting cards to match to the funny sound. Noise Pollution will be supported by social and influencer campaigns with a focus on TikTok. Finally, Buzzer Beater is a 5-second naming game inspired by the popular TikTok challenge. Featuring a vertical spinner, Buzzer Beater brings a TV gameshow to players’ front room, challenging them to don their thinking caps, and talk as fast as they can to beat the buzzer. The pressure begins when the clock starts ticking. Players look at the category on their card, while the spinner will decide the category letter and how many things they have to name. It sounds easy, but the ticking five second buzzer really ramps up the pressure.

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More great games from Cheatwell!

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We all think we remember the good old days... but do we? Recall the fads, fashions and fun of forgotten decades!

Over 100,000 Tension games sold in 2020. New titles for 2021 include TV and Sport. MindTrap is jam-packed with 500 puzzles, brainteasers and trick questions; guaranteed to intrigue and delight in equal measure!

For further information on our great range of games and puzzles please contact Steve Asbey at steve@cheatwell.com or call 02392 524098. Alternatively mail us at sales@cheatwell.com or visit our website where you can order on line.

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Games & Puzzles

Cheatwell Games 02392 524098 | www.cheatwell.com Cheatwell’s all-new Family Quiz Night is a trivia challenge suitable for all ages, with questions written in a way that lets kids participate on a level playing field with adults. Perfect for bringing everyone round the table for a fun family games night, this title invites players to battle it out and discover who is the brainiest of the bunch. The memory-jogging board game Nostalgia asks players to cast their minds back to days gone by. Featuring questions on the Swinging Sixties through to the Naughty Nineties, participants will be surprised by what’s slipped their minds both good and bad. Ideal for those who find that one period in their life stands out more than any other, each pack of Top Trivia Decades cards contains 1,000 questions on the fads, fashions and fun from the Sixties, Seventies, Eighties and Nineties. Joining the range this year is a new 2000s pack, perfect for slightly younger players. Players after more of a mental workout will enjoy the brain baffling MindTrap, one of Cheatwell’s most popular games. Jam-packed with 500 puzzles, brainteasers and trick questions, MindTrap is guaranteed to frustrate and delight in equal measure. Another Cheatwell best-seller, Family Tension challenges players to name 10 items related to a fun category. Tension was a hit for the company last year, with over 100,000 units sold. The stand-alone extension editions, Music, Movies and Foodies, are joined in 2021 by TV. Great fun for TV addicts and box-set buffs alike, this extension asks players to name everything from 10 Travel Shows to 10 EastEnders’ Families, and 10 Doctor Who Actors to 10 Great British Bake Off Winners. The Sport extension, meanwhile, is the ideal gift for the committed armchair pundit. Categories include Olympic running events, sports beginning with S, England football managers and boxing legends. For more information, email sales@cheatwell.com.

Exploding Kittens (31) 646 437 146 | www.explodingkittens.com Tabletop game creator Exploding Kittens has launched its first two-player strategy board game, Tacocat Spelled Backwards, a palindrome-themed duel of wits and tactics that incorporates a fun balance of strategy, luck and instinct. Since creating the original Exploding Kittens game six years ago, Tacocat has quickly become one of the most beloved characters. As the company looked to expand the IP in new ways, the inspiration for Tacocat Spelled Backwards was born. During each unique, friendly competition, opponents aim to outsmart one another in battles to win the ultimate prize: Tacocat. This game can be played in a quick and simple round or can be ‘double-downed’ with strategic combos. With its portable, open design, players can go head-tohead anytime, anywhere. A game of clever card matchups, Tacocat’s box is also the board. Players can win duels by playing cards of matching or higher value to defend their hand or may be forced to sacrifice their lowest card. When players reach the final card, whoever has the lowest value card wins the round, bringing Tacocat closer to their side. The game features a foldable box with spaces that spell out ‘Tacocat’, seven palindrome (a word or phrase that reads the same backward as forward) tiles, 38 hilariously illustrated palindrome cards and one Tacocat token. Tacocat is fun for all levels and ages and can be easily adjusted towards either simplicity or strategy by using jumbo attacks that force an opponent to play more cards. Players can play a two of a kind or a run of three (4, 5, 6, etc.) to build upon the strategy gameplay. For more information on the Exploding Kittens portfolio, please contact Joeri Hoste: Joeri@explodingkittens.com.

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Games & Puzzles

VR Distribution 0330 088 0941 | www.vrdist.co.uk VR Distribution saw great success with its family and party games portfolio throughout 2019 and 2020, with interest in games that bring people around the table, are quick to play and encourage quality time on the rise. Reflecting these trends, VR’s Cards Against Humanity and What Do You Meme brands, boasting 60 titles across both ranges, have been experiencing soaring sales. Joining the family-friendly line-up for 2021, which currently includes Cards Against Humanity Family Edition and What Do You Meme Family Edition, Incohearent Family Edition introduces yet another gaming option suitable for all ages. These best-selling games are reaching a wider audience than ever before, thanks to their accessible gameplay and affordable pricing. Beat That! The Bonkers Battle of Wacky Challenges is also flying off the shelves given the popularity of challenges taking place on social media platforms during lockdown. The game lets players enjoy the fun of completing trick shot challenges in the comfort of their own home. Sharing these hilarious moments online for friends and family to enjoy is a must. Sticking with internet sensations, Wilder Games is welcoming a Hot Ones Truth or Dab game, based on the successful YouTube show. Anybody can relive the highs and lows of answering spicy questions or dabbing that hot sauce and suffering the consequences. The Masterpieces puzzle brand is launching in the UK on 21st April, following a very positive reception to the company’s traditional adult puzzles. The brand creates some of the world’s most elegant jigsaws, bringing puzzlers beautiful and detailed imagery in a variety of styles and piece counts, contained within unique packaging at prices to suit all budgets. VR Distribution is also set to launch a range of Doing Things Prank Puzzles from Wilder Puzzles. Developed for puzzlers at heart who want to enjoy something a little bit cheeky, these puzzles appear one way at first – a pile of very cute puppies, for example - but look very different once put together; it’s actually a pile of puppies pooping. At an attractive RRP, the range offers ideal prank gifts for puzzle fans.

Clementoni 020 3206 1397 | www.clementoni.com Puzzles continue to be a strong category for Clementoni. The company currently holds an impressive portfolio of generic products as well as licences from major TV and movie properties. With new ranges rolling out throughout 2021, Clementoni has enhanced its licensing partnerships by introducing a selection of board games. Tapping into the hit Netflix phenomenon Stranger Things, Clementoni is launching an engaging card game in which players must defeat the Upside-Down villains. Each player will take on the role of a character from the series, complete with their own special attributes or powers, but all players will share the same mission - to solve the mystery behind Eleven and to free Hawkins. Drawing different cards dictates areas and plot twists, as well as objects and enemies to overcome. La Casa de Papel (Money Heist) is an investigative and competitive game for 2-4 perceptive detectives determined to foil a diabolical heist. The Clementoni Harry Potter Quidditch board game is a competitive two player race that challenges fans of the magical sport to either score the most points or catch the Golden Snitch to win. Each player chooses a card deck representing one of the four Howgarts houses and plays each card strategically, paying careful attention to the unexpected twists and turns that crop up along the way. Expanding the puzzle portfolio, Clementoni has announced partnerships with two highly anticipated films: Space Jam: A New Legacy and Minions: The Rise of Gru. Two 1,000-piece Space Jam themed puzzles and a collection of Minions adult puzzles will launch to support the movie releases. Clementoni is also introducing two new Giant Floor Puzzles for Baby Shark and Peppa Pig. Large pieces mean these puzzles are both great fun and easy for younger children to put together. The launches join the already popular Paw Patrol Giant Floor Puzzle, with new puzzles arriving later this year featuring Paw Patrol: The Movie imagery. The company’s partnership with Harry Potter for Puzzles across UK/Europe continues to go from strength to strength with line extensions planned for July, complementing the existing range of adult and kids’ puzzles. For further information, contact Shahbaz.khan@clementoni.com.

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Games & Puzzles

Hacche Retail 01242 241765 | www.gingerfox.co.uk Building on its successful range of TV licensed games, Ginger Fox has been developing fresh new ideas that will bring gaming fun into consumers’ living rooms, whatever their taste in quiz or game shows. The Top Gear Board Game invites players to put their foot to the floor as they compete against friends and family to become the Grand Champion. The game involves driving classic Top Gear vehicles around the track, completing fun themed challenges and pranking the other players while trying to avoid hazards and making the best possible vehicle upgrades – all while going head-to-head against the Stig and the other drivers. Players can access bonus digital functionality which will allow them to control the Stig and much more. The new PopMaster Board Game is based on the official PopMaster Quiz, a cornerstone of Ken Bruce’s National Radio show for over two decades. Just like in the radio show, players answer questions based on popular music from the 1950s through to the present day. Scanning the QR codes treats players to a final ‘3 in 10’ head-to-head round read by Ken himself. Families can now bring home the nation’s favourite game show, and face off against each other and their friends in a race to reach £1m, with the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire Board Game. Once in the hotseat, players can take on the iconic money ladder using only their wits and digital lifelines. This game includes 700+ questions and innovative access to lifelines via a smart device. Based on Channel 4’s show, Ginger Fox’s best-selling Taskmaster Board Game brings the essence of this popular show into fans’ own homes - or preferably someone else’s, as things can get messy. Following the success of Taskmaster Board Game, the company is now introducing the Taskmaster Game Expansion Pack, containing 40 new ludicrous task cards and 10 exclusive video tasks, set by Alex Horne, that update throughout the year. Adding a fun new twist to the gameplay, the 10 Prize Task cards raise the stakes as the illustrious winner takes all prizes. Included with each game is a Little Alex Horne with which players can indulge their every whim. Based on the hit BBC2 show hosted by Richard Osman, Ginger Fox’s 2021 Gift of the Year: Branded Gift winner House of Games Party Game is the ultimate test of knowledge and skill. Players team up to tackle trivia or face off against each other in the iconic Answer Smash. Who will be the House of Games champion in this competitive compendium of games? Finally, fans of The Chase can test their brainpower in the new card game Beat The Chasers, based on the popular spin-off series where one quizzer takes on two, three, four or all five Chasers to win a cash prize. For more information, contact sales@gingerfox.co.uk.

H. Grossman 01603 397 105 | www.tobar.co.uk H. Grossman’s Tobar brand includes traditional games such as draughts, Snakes and Ladders and Ludo, and hilarious family games such as Poop Shoot, Poo head and Hoop Head. Exclusive to Tobar, Unicorn Race and Dinosaur Race are joined by Penguin Race this year. The animals chase each other up the escalator and scoot down the slide to win. The best-selling Time Shock continues to be popular. The game tasks players with sorting shapes against the clock, providing frantic family fun. Snappy Shark, meanwhile, has a chomping shark at its centre. Players fill the shark’s mouth with the colourful fish and then take turns to draw cards. Touching the shark comes with the risk that it might slam its jaws shut and charge at the player. Shark Attack is a similar game, which sees players touching the shark’s teeth while trying to avoid a bite. Atmosfear is not just a board game, but an amplified experience in home entertainment enhanced by an interactive app that works across mobiles, tablets, and home entertainment systems. This revamped classic is a game of skill, strategy and suspense wrapped up in a race against time. Random selection ensures a different game every time Atmosfear is played, while spine-chilling atmospheric digital surround sound and pictures help set the scene. Tobar also has traditional games covered. Pool, darts, table tennis and tabletop football feature alongside casino games and marbles. For more information, email sales@tobar.co.uk.

Bertoy (32) 03 777 0533 / 0774 815 0906 | www.bertoy.com Crocodile Creek’s 12-piece Mini Puzzles encourage hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. Ideally suited to little hands, and perfect for travel, new designs include Blast Off and Koala Cuddle. Let’s Begin Puzzles contain 10 individual 2-piece Puzzles suitable for kids aged two and above. New Unicorn and Vehicle themes come packed in a handy storage canister. The new Mudpuppy I Can Be Anything! Puzzle Sticks are double-sided and can be sorted by background colour. The included puzzle tray can be used to arrange the sticks in the correct order, perfect for portable play. For additional information, contact Bertoy’s UK and Ireland country manager, Philip Morris: philip@bertoy.co.uk.

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Games & Puzzles

SJD Games 01296 583 315 | www.2way.games SJD Games is set to hit the UK market with its exciting new 2 Way range of games, all offering strategic, educational and actionpacked family fun. The first two games to launch in May will be 2 Way Words and 2 Way Shapes, followed by four Expansion Packs introducing new themes that will appeal to a wide range of players; Animals, Flags, Numbers and Directions. This fun range offers a totally new gameplay concept which SJD Games feels will revolutionise the market. The gameplay can be adapted for younger players too, so the whole family, from ages 6-106, can enjoy playing it together. 2 Way Words is a duel between two players or teams, in which wordsmiths try to create three, four, five or six letter words while disrupting their opponent’s attempts to do the same thing. Words can be made horizontally, vertically and diagonally, and once made will dramatically change the gameplay dynamics; the completed word is removed and added to the tray, a move likely to spoil the other player’s progress and strategy. The winner is the first player to fill their word tray. 2 Way Shapes will appeal to a different mass market, with players battling it out to create various shape and colour combinations. A successful run of three, four, five or six shapes or colours will see those tiles added to tray, disrupting opponents’ efforts. The 2 Way Games brand has been ingeniously developed so each of the four Expansion Packs can be used on the same battle grid, thereby offering customers great value and gameplay choices across a highly innovative and exciting games range. Animated YouTube video sizzlers bring the games to life for consumers wanting to find out more about the rules and gameplay. For more information, contact Shaun Delaney: info@2way.games.


DO YOUR BEST TO THINK LIKE THE REST Write down a noise that an animal makes.

As seen on This Morning!

You herd correct - the best-selling party game is back! To find out more, send us an email at trade@bigpotato.co.uk or give us a ring on 0208 3620 9495.


Games & Puzzles

Flair 020 8643 0320 | www.flairplc.co.uk Combining toilet humour and good ‘clean’ competitive fun, Shoot the Poop is a hilarious game that challenges players to shoot toy poops into Tank the talking toilet bowl. To play, kids simply place the poop on the poop launcher, aim it, and shoot. The first player to shoot all their poops into Tank the Toilet wins. Shoot the Poop will launch in the UK from July, following a very positive consumer response in the US, and will benefit from extensive marketing support, including TV, pre-roll, and influencer activity. The family fun continues with Pick-Up Pete, another game that US families can’t get enough of. Perfect for pre-schoolers, this is a stacking game with a difference. Players must pile up the chairs while Pete the Pick-Up truck drives around. The winner of the game is the first person to stack all their coloured chairs on Pete as he passes by. Also launching in July, Pick-Up Pete will be supported by a 360-degree marketing campaign. With the Euros set to take place this summer, Flair’s football inspired card game, Goal 10, will be right on target when it comes to answering the growing demand for football related toys and games. Autumn/winter sees Flair introduce a new game to its range. Goal 10 Top Player Board Game has a football pitch board, a new deck of cards, a penalty shootout spinner and a tournament ranking board, and introduces new playability to the popular Goal 10 brand. For more information, email sales@flairplc.co.uk.

Toynamics 0116 478 5230 | www.toynamics.co.uk Hape’s puzzle range offers hours of fun for all ages and stages, with products available across six different development levels. Piece counts vary, from 4-piece puzzles for toddlers up to 100-piece puzzles suitable for older children. All encourage age-appropriate critical thinking and help develop hand-eye coordination and dexterity. Level 1 includes the colourful Farm Animal Puzzle & Play, designed for kids aged 24 months. The reversable puzzle board has two different farmyard scenes, offering a different challenge on each side. While puzzling and playing, kids can also learn about shape sorting. Designed for ages 36 months and up, the Level 4 Alphabet & Animal Parade is a 26-piece wooden puzzle featuring wild animals on one side and the alphabet on the other. Children use their knowledge of the alphabet to complete the puzzle, which can be stood upright on a table. Hape’s Level 6 puzzles are designed for kids aged five plus. The on-trend Solar System Puzzle lets inquisitive minds learn all about the solar system with solid-wood planet pieces, a glowing LED sun and an included poster showing the names of the planets. Also available is the popular 2-in-1 World Tour Puzzle and Game. Providing hours of fun, the 100-piece puzzle turns into a boardgame when completed, which up to four people can play. Hape’s puzzles and games are exclusively distributed by Toynamics in the UK & Ireland. For more information, email sales@toynamics.co.uk

Very Puzzled 07753 618 757 | www.verypuzzled.com

Epoch making toys 08435 574 062 | www.epochmakingtoys.com

Very Puzzled has launched a new collection of puzzles that aims to bring increased diversity to the jigsaw aisle. The range explores different places around the world including Africa, Ethiopia, Jamaica, Cameroon, Ghana, South Africa and Kenya. The new collection will also include the Caribbean, India, and Trinidad & Tobago. Each 100-piece puzzle illustrates the different regions with a variety of landmarks and monuments, as well as notable figures throughout history. The bright, bold colours and fun designs are perfect for children and help them learn about different parts of the world. Founded in 2017, Very Puzzled was created following the birth of entrepreneur Patrick Adom’s daughter. Patrick struggled to find toys and games that he felt represented his daughter’s African heritage and culture, so he decided to create his own range of puzzles that help children explore different cultures through play. Very Puzzled is passionate about creating products that are representative of the diverse society kids live in, and firmly believes children should be able to see people that look different to themselves in their books and toys. This allows kids to appreciate their own heritage, while learning about the heritage and culture of others too. For all sales enquiries, and to find out about more of the Very Puzzled range, please contact Patrick Adom: jambo@verypuzzled.com.

Epoch making toys continues to see growth with its range of tabletop family games featuring Nintendo’s iconic video game and media franchise, Super Mario. With a new feature film launching in 2022, the company expects awareness of and demand for this licence to increase throughout the year. Three top performing products are being carried forward into 2021. The hero SKU of the range, the Super Mario Shaky Tower, is a balancing game that challenges players to place Super Mario characters onto the ledges of the central tower. The rounded base causes the tower to wobble; when too many characters have been balanced, the ball drops, knocking them all off. The winner is the person who successfully balances the most characters before this happens. Coming in at sub-£10, and with three different character and colour packs to choose from, there’s a set for every Super Mario fan. The tense board game Piranha Plant Escape is sure to delight children and adults alike. Players roll the dice and move their character around the board, then press the ‘pump’ button to wind up the Piranha Plant. Just like in the video game, fans must avoid being eaten when it springs open. Epoch’s innovative Link System allows for the characters included with each game to be played with across all other titles, offering Super Mario fans a new experience each time they play.

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Pre-school

Feature

Making little

ones

smile The Pre-School category is one of the largest and most diverse sectors of the toy market. With new licensed properties attempting to challenge the dominance of established brands such as Paw Patrol and Peppa Pig, along with a growing trend for sustainability, the Pre-School arena is as competitive as ever. Rachael Simpson-Jones speaks to a selection of the leading suppliers in the sector to find out how 2021 is shaping up.

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urrently the No. 2 most-watched channel on YouTube, boasting 107m subscribers and over 97b views, Moonbug Entertainment’s CoComelon has taken the pre-school world by storm. The animated episodes, which range from anywhere between three minutes and hour-long compilations, follow JJ and his family as he learns how to navigate the world around him via music, songs, and nursery rhymes. Master toy partner Bandai was appointed in mid-2020, and since then has seen demand for toys soar. For Bandai UK’s managing director Nic Aldridge, this wasn’t a complete surprise – although he does admit its performance has surpassed even his predictions. “I’d been watching the CoComelon success story build online for some time, from even before the channel renamed itself to CoComelon,” he explains. “I felt fairly certain that capturing the essence of life lessons through entertainment, and extending

these to a physical pre-school toy range for children to enjoy at home, was going to be a huge success. But the reception from the trade, and the reaction from consumers, has exceeded even my expectations.” I wanted to know what sets CoComelon apart from other pre-school properties; why is the channel so incredibly popular? As far as Nic is concerned, its biggest appeal is the fact it teaches kids the things that parents would want them to learn. He says: “I think the level of engagement that you get from the brand is one of the key differences. There are numerous videos on TikTok showing children of all ages running into a room when they hear the CoComelon opening theme. This engagement comes at such an early age too, with many of the videos supporting key parenting messages such as the importance of brushing your teeth, eating your vegetables, or taking a bath. As any parent well knows, these are often some of the most challenging times or activities of the day; having support in

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the form of these videos has really struck a chord with parents, as well as their kids. And when these messages are conveyed through song, what could be better?” As music is central to the appeal of CoComelon, Bandai’s master toy range welcomes new First Act instruments for 2021, including a keyboard and xylophone. The company will also continue developing sets which focus on individual videos and songs from the channel, most notably the Musical Tractor, which arrives at retail in late spring. At the same time, Bandai will continue to build on its core plush and figurine lines, developing the depth of collectability in these ranges. Nic says: “At its heart, CoComelon is about learning, playing and singing, so the toy line is an extension of these themes and brings the on-screen to life.” Other toy partners are also on board; RMS International’s new CoComelon range covers a wide variety of subcategories including wooden toys,


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Pre-School

puzzles, arts & crafts, bubbles and sensory items, while Diamant has created role-playing items including an ice cream machine and a slush maker. Its best-selling Glow Pad has also received a CoComelon makeover. Another recent entrant to the pre-school arena, Ludo Studio’s pre-school show Bluey has got off to a very strong start in its home market of Australia, as well as the US, and has now arrived in the UK. Bluey follows the adventures of a lovable and inexhaustible six-year-old Blue Heeler, who lives with her dad, Bandit; mum, Chilli, and four-year-old little sister, Bingo. Ravensburger has been appointed the licensee for jigsaw puzzles, and is joined by master toy partner Moose Toys, which has already been garnering plaudits for its Bluey line. At the Australian Toy Association’s first Digital Awards Ceremony, the 2021 Judges Choice Award (0-6years) was given to the Bluey Pool Time Playset, while the Bluey & Friends Basic Plush won 2021 Plush Product of the Year. “Bluey has won the hearts of children and their parents around the world since it first launched in Australia in October 2018,” says Logan Stone, head of marketing, Europe, Moose Toys. “The property’s huge appeal stems from its warmth, charm and honest portrayal of family life with young children. Kids adore how Bluey is all about play, but it’s also genuinely funny so the whole family can watch it together.” Moose’s award-winning toys, which include the plush and play set named above, as well as figures, are being joined this year by the new Heeler Cruiser Vehicle and the Heeler Home play set, both of which feature prominently in the show. The Heeler Home, which comes complete with articulated figure and furniture perfect for imaginative Bluey story-telling, is Logan’s personal favourite. She says: “The Heeler Home has been one of the best-selling items in both Australia and the US; given its strong track record, we’re excited to launch this item in the UK. This will be our big Christmas driver for Bluey and will be supported with a dedicated TV campaign, as well as digital and influencer campaigns throughout Q4.” From new properties to evergreen brands, 8th Wonder continues to go from strength to strength by signing deals with Mattel and MGA Entertainment that have resulted in the development of new toy ranges for Fisher Price and Little Tikes. Both are consumer favourites in the pre-school space, with timeless appeal that spans multiple generations and has earned them the trust of parents across the globe. The Fisher Price launch range, hitting retail from autumn/winter, focuses on games, activities and music, with wooden stacking toys, skittles and instruments starting at attractively affordable RRPs, while the Little Tikes range, also for autumn/winter release, offers role-play options from shopping and cooking to cleaning up (and even doing laundry). “It’s amazing to be working with both Mattel and MGA,” enthuses Andrea Gornall, senior product & business development manager, 8th Wonder. “Both brands have strong heritage and brand awareness, which makes them perfect additions to our growing portfolio. Welcoming Fisher Price to our range serves

to strengthen our position in the pre-school category even further, while working with Little Tikes gives us the opportunity to develop products that fit in other toy categories in addition to pre-school, such as roleplay. These deals open up a lot of possibilities and will massively broaden the appeal of 8th Wonder toys among consumers.” Noting the need to avoid cannibalism, 8th Wonder’s design team has curated each toy range to ensure they complement the master toy offerings of each brand, while remaining distinct from one another and having their own voice in the marketplace. Sustainability is also at the heart of these toy offerings; all are made from FSC certified wood, which, as well as giving consumers piece of mind (and value for money), offers retailers the opportunity to showcase new eco-friendly toys instore, from two of the most iconic and well-respected pre-school brands in the marketplace. 8th Wonder’s marketing plans will, for now, focus on trade and consumer press, but social media campaigns will also be used to raise awareness. The company’s retail partners will also be consulted on bespoke activity to drive sales in-store. Sticking with eco-friendliness for a moment, we’re also seeing the emergence of new wooden pre-school ranges that will appeal to eco-conscious parents. Based in Northern Ireland, Sawdust and Rainbows creates beautiful indoor climbing frames from sustainably sourced wood that help kids hone their gross motor skills and challenge themselves physically. Rex London, meanwhile, is launching its new wood-mounted xylophone this year. The xylophone features the elephant from Rex’s Wild Wonders range, which also includes a wooden balance game that challenges kids to stack the charming flora- and fauna-themed pieces, helping to develop hand-eye coordination and gross motor skills. Best-selling wooden lines from Hape continue into 2021 too; retailers can choose from a raft of products to complement any in-store eco-section, including musical toys, push & pull toys, walkers and educational offerings, with favourites such as

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the Rainbow Pounder, Noah’s Ark, Shape Sorting Box and Activity Cubes benefitting from support throughout the year. Golden Bear is also enhancing the sustainability of its pre-school ranges by introducing a line of Hey Duggee plush that’s well on its way to being made of 100% recycled materials. All the filling used for the company’s plush toys is already made from recycled plastic bottles, a decision that was taken a number of years ago, but for 2021 things are being taken a step further with the introduction of Duggee outer materials also made from recycled polyester. Hey Duggee is one of Golden Bear’s two fastestgrowing brands - the other being Bing - and forms a major part of the company’s launch plans for this year. Highlights include the Hey Duggee Interactive Clubhouse, Toothbrush and Handwashing Time with Duggee (which will also surely be a winner with parents), and Spin and Groove DJ Duggee. The Bing line-up, meanwhile, welcomes Musical Dancing Bing and Bing’s House. Golden Bear’s wider licensed portfolio also includes popular pre-school favourites such as Love Monster, In the Night Garden, Waffle the Wonder Dog and Mr Tumble, properties that allow the company to do what it does best - create products that inspire, encourage imagination, and, ultimately, are fun to play with. “Quality, safety and reliability are top priority for pre-school parents, and we have an unrivalled reputation in this area,” says MD Barry Hughes. “In addition to this, we pride ourselves in really getting under the skin of our pre-school licences, transforming much-loved kids’ TV characters into high quality toys that are totally on-brand, and that children love.” He adds: “We have developed plans to support all our brands via digital, social, and influencer outreach, which will in turn drive traffic directly to retailers. TV advertising, PR campaigns and collaborations with licensor activations are also part of the bigger picture, with a calendar of activity spikes throughout the year.” Back at Bandai, the focus is firmly on digital, reflecting CoComelon’s online origins. The company will be targeting parents, guardians, and gift givers, and says digital mediums and social platforms are the perfect vehicle with which to communicate key messaging. Nic adds: “We will of course be marketing to the end consumer with over the shoulder parental co-viewing in mind, but CoComelon presents us with a very exciting opportunity to really test the limits of the digital frontier.” He continues: “We also have some extremely exciting retail activations in the pipeline for this year which we can’t wait to bring to market. These are set for later in the year, when we hope all our retailers will be open again and ready to take up these opportunities.” In this feature, we bring you more on the latest licensed additions to the pre-school category, as well as the traditional kid- and parent-favourites hitting shelves this year.



Pre-school

Mattel 01628 500 000 | www.mattel.com Fisher-Price’s expansive and innovative range welcomes new products across the entire portfolio. The popular Linkimals range expands with the Sit-to-Crawl Sea Turtle, which encourages kids to crawl and chase with two ways to play, and 35+ songs, sounds and phrases that teach the alphabet, counting and shapes. Also new to the Fisher-Price infant portfolio is a new line of retro-inspired toys including a Mixtape, Boombox and Lil Gamer, reminding parents and caregivers of gadgets from their youth and introducing these items to a new generation of children. The Laugh & Learn Puppy’s Mixtape teaches the alphabet, counting, colours and more via songs, sounds and phrases, and it also includes an interactive tape ribbon that kids can wind up and down. The Laugh & Learn Busy Boombox is a light-up pretend stereo loaded with activities, music and sounds. The boombox’s fun tunes teach the alphabet, counting, colours and more. Kids can enjoy sliding the station tuner, pressing and toggling the switches, or opening and closing the cassette deck. The Laugh & Learn Lil Gamer is a handheld ‘gaming console’ with a D-pad, A and B buttons, pretend game cartridge and a light-up screen. The console integrates music, sounds and phrases and teaches directions, colours, numbers and shapes. Little People introduces the Food Truck, which lets kids engage in imaginative cook-and-serve role-play. Songs, sounds and phrases enhance the experience. Fisher-Price Imaginext, meanwhile, welcomes new characters to its DC Super Friends and Jurassic World range. Thomas & Friends continues to introduce kids to the world around them through dynamic content and products. New products include the new Bridge Lift Thomas & Skiff playset. This set takes Thomas fans on a fun adventure as the iconic blue engine helps his friend Skiff journey from the docks to the workshop. Kids can also create their own stories with the new rainbow-themed small push-along engines or can build their own Tidmouth Sheds at home with the Thomas & Friends Connect & Go Sheds. Younger kids will enjoy the new Stack and Wobble Train, which includes a large-scale push-along engine with cloud push handles and a cart complete with eight pieces of stackable wobbly cargo.

Learning Resources 01553 762276 | www.learningresources.co.uk The MathLink Cubes Numberblocks 1-10 Activity Set has proven a hit with consumers since launching in December 2020. With this set, children aged three and over can use the special edition MathLink Cubes to build the Numberblocks from one to 10, in all the ways seen in the series. Playing with the set also encourages engagement with activities linked to episodes from Series 1-3, and complements the learning opportunities provided by the show. Ultimately, this helps deepen young childrens’ understanding of early maths concepts. Huey the Fine Motor Hippo helps children build skills they need to prepare for school. By inserting the five colourful peg-shaped birdies into Huey’s back, toddlers build grasping, wrist rotation, and hand-eye coordination skills. Learning Resources toys are designed to have multiple benefits, and so each bird is a different colour, is numbered, and has a different shape printed on it. This helps reinforce early years skills through play. Once playtime is over, the birds store conveniently inside Huey’s back. 1-2-3 Build It! Robot Factory is an early years construction toy that lets children design, build and tinker with their own robot toy. Pre-schoolers can get to grips with the chunky, colourful construction pieces while following along with the set’s build designs, developing key skills such as fine motor skills and spatial reasoning. Children can also build their own creations. This 18-piece set is compatible with the rest of the 1-2-3 Build It! range. Readers can see more of Learning Resources’ fine motor skills toys on YouTube at Learning Resources UK. Learning Resources’ brand campaign, Building Someone Amazing, which launched in 2020, will continue throughout this year. The campaign celebrates the role parents and teachers play in ‘creating amazing kids’. Research shows that home learning during school closures has resulted in consumers developing increased awareness about the benefits of educational toys and games, and that they are browsing and buying them more often. The Building Someone Amazing messaging is ideally positioned to use this increased awareness to grow brand reach and market share. Building Someone Amazing is a through-the-line campaign, and includes digital and print advertising, social media outreach, collaborations with parenting influencers and teachers, content marketing, PR and emails, as well as digital and bricks & mortar retail sales support. The campaign will promote existing popular lines alongside the 100+ new products Learning Resources is launching this year. For more information, email sales@learning-resources.co.uk.

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Trends UK 01295 768 078 | www.trendsuk.co.uk

Trends UK is introducing market-leading pre-school licences to its popular ELA portfolio, including unique play patterns based on the Numberblocks and Alphablocks learning concepts from Larkshead Licensing. Ideally suited to helping children have fun with numbers and letters, Numberblocks and Alphablocks have already racked up over 2.3m app downloads between them. The Numberblocks Number Box features fun educational activities involving the numbers 1-10, while Alphablocks Phonic Fun invites children to explore phonics and spelling by experimenting with letters. Trends kicked off 2021 with the launch of the new Paddington Learning Suitcase, based on the popular The Adventures of Paddington animated TV series. Plenty of interactive fun is on offer; Paddington asks questions about numbers, colours, members of the Brown family and, of course, his favourite marmalade sandwiches. The Learning Suitcase joins the Paddington Paw Pad, which hit the market late last year. Support for the range will include consumer press, competitions and PR in spring. Trends UK’s impressive ELAs line up will be further bolstered by the new Peppa’s Touch & Learn Key Fob. Shaped like the Pig Family’s red car, the fob provides fun learning opportunities for colours, sounds and shapes at an attractive year-round price point. Hey Duggee fans, meanwhile, will be keen to get their hands on the new Hey Duggee Sing & Learn Microphone, which features music from the TV series and questions that can be triggered by pressing the quiz button. A number of new lines join the award-winning Little Brian Paint Sticks range. Bath Paint Sticks bring creativity to the tub, with six colours costing less than £5. The sticks can be used on the bath, as well as tiles and glass, without leaving a mess. Stain-free, the paint can easily be wiped away with hot water or bathroom cleaner. Chunkie Paint Sticks are four times the size of a regular Paint Stick. Perfect for larger art creations, especially outdoors, Chunkie Paint Sticks can be used on concrete, flagstones, pavements and pebbles, and wash off easily with just water.

Tomy 01392 281927 | www.tomy.com Tomy’s Ricky Zoom range, based on the hit animated pre-school show, will expand in 2021 with the addition of several engaging new products. A key launch for 2021, and available now, Maxwell’s Transforming Trailer can be turned into a mobile repair station and comes complete with Maxwell and Ricky bikes. Six interactive features guarantee hours of fun as kids recreate roadside rescue scenes from the show. The Wind and Launch assortment introduces action, speed and surprise to Ricky play. Easy to use, kids simply add their figure to the launch pod, wind it up, set it down and wait for the surprise; the wheel launcher explodes and sends the bike racing away, faster and further than ever before. The Ricky Zoom range will also see the addition of feature toys Fix it DJ! and Super Rev Loop. Based on Ricky’s buddies from the town of Wheelford, these characters join the range as 7” figures. Super Rev Loop features bouncy wheels and fun motor sounds to fire up young imaginations, whilst the new Fix it DJ! figure, complete with a screwdriver and socket wrench, can be taken apart and put back together again. Toomies is preparing for the launch of the 2-in-1 Transforming Tractor and the Stacker Decker Bus. Both new products have been specifically designed to help children through all stages of development. With connectivity in mind, they also allow families to expand their existing Hide and Squeak Egg collections. The new Stacker Decker Bus can grow into a double-decker, a triple-decker or even a double-double-decker, made up of four colourful floors that fit neatly on top of each other. Included with the Stacker Decker Bus is a friendly duck conductor. Ideal for kids aged 12 months, this innovative developmental toy grows with children as they enhance their fine motor skills by sorting, matching, stacking and nesting all the pieces. Bright primary colours will capture the attention of little ones and offer on-shelf appeal for adult purchasers. The Toomies 2-in-1 Transforming Tractor features push-along play functionality and the ability to transform from truck to tractor. For little ones wanting to add to their farm collection, the John Deere Build-A-Buddy Range is the perfect addition. The range includes Build-A-Buddy Johnny, Build-ABuddy Bonnie and Build-A-Buddy Corey. Each character has interchangeable parts that can be used on each vehicle encouraging creativity and imagination. From adding a corn head to Johnny Tractor or a tractor front to Corey Combine, the possibilities are endless.

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Coming Soon! from Golden Bear Spin and Groove DJ Duggee

Pinky Ponk Build and Sort Vehicle In The Night Garden® and © 2021 DHX Worldwide

Introducing exciting new toys from our top preschool brands launching for AW21 Bing’s House Playset

© 2021 Acamar Films Ltd.

For more information please contact: Golden Bear Products Ltd. Hortonwood 40, Telford, Shropshire TF1 7EY www.goldenbeartoys.com Tel: 01952 608308 customerservices@goldenbeartoys.co.uk


Pre-school

Bandai UK 020 8324 6160 | www.bandai.co.uk

The CoComelon licensed toy range, manufactured by Jazwares, is a major focus for UK distributer Bandai UK this year. CoComelon, which recently surpassed 100m subscribers on YouTube, teaches children how to take on everyday activities and portrays positive behaviour with a sense of enthusiasm. With its bright and bold colours and cheerful nursery rhymes and phrases, CoComelon encourages kids aged 1-4 to sing and dance along with JJ and his siblings as they learn letters, numbers, animal sounds, colours and more. The CoComelon line has expanded for spring/summer 2021 with a collection of new SKUs including First Act Instruments, a new collectibles range, a musical tractor and additional plush. First Acts Instruments allow children to replicate well-known CoComelon storylines and songs at home. The CoComelon Musical Keyboard is programmed with the ABC song and Music song from the channel, so kids can play and sing along while learning their ABCs. In doing so, they will develop their memory, hand-eye coordination, independent thinking and auditory skills. The keyboard is made with high quality materials and attractively priced, making it great value for money. The CoComelon Musical Xylophone, meanwhile, is inspired by videos from the CoComelon YouTube Series. Made with quality materials for sturdiness and durability, the xylophone is ideally sized for pre-schoolers and comes with two mallets. The retro Timber Tots range features forest families, vehicles and play sets. The classic Timber Tots Magic Tree, based on the original from 1975, is a favourite amongst children and adults. Press on the roof, and the tree lifts to reveal a woodland house. Inside, kids can find two characters, a working lift, a swing, a garage and a secret hideaway. All accessories and characters can be stored in the tree for grab-and-go Timber Tots adventures. Two smaller play sets, Hazelnut House and Mushroom Surprise, come complete with one Timber Tots family character and surprise room reveals. With an assortment of Timber Tots Vehicles to collect, pre-schoolers can transport their characters between woodland homes. The largest of the vehicles is the Adventure Bus, which includes one character from the owl family and even has room for luggage. Family sets are also available, each including four characters from five families: Pawpaw, Nutnut, Chipchip, Twittwit, and the all-new Panda family. Children can now hear the characters singing with the recent release of the Timber Tots Nursery Rhyme, available to download through platforms including Apple Music, iTunes, Shazam, TikTok and Deezer. The sing-along nursery rhyme is just one of the many investments being made into the brand. The Timber Tots website (Timber Tots, Nature is Magic) hosts the full product range, engaging story books and activity sheets for youngsters to enjoy. Alongside this, the Timber Tots Instagram and Facebook page brings the brand to life with regular posts of engaging themed seasonal content. For all Bandai UK sales enquiries, contact sales@bandai.co.uk.

Geomagworld 07831 886 997 | www.geomagworld.com Geomag’s magnetic construction line, Magicube, has revolutionised the junior construction category. The innovative building system is made up of magnetic cubes that attach to each other on all six sides. By harnessing the invisible and magical properties of magnetism, children can give free rein to their imagination as they build colourful 3D models. Magicube welcomes a number of innovative introductions for 2021, with new shapes, SKUs and try-me packaging set to enhance this best-selling range yet further at retail. New half cube, quarter circle and the half sphere shapes will allow a multitude of new opportunities for junior builders, while magnetic wheelbases will let Magicube Shapes constructors free-wheel as well as free-build. The Shapes range consists of four different items, from an entry level starter set right up to the bumper World of Magicube Shapes. Price points vary between £15 and £70, and product is available for shipping now. With a major focus on sustainability and eco-friendliness, Geomag’s Magicube Recycled collection, made with 100% recycled plastic, has the same bright colours and high-quality standards as all its original Geomag sets. The Magicube 100% Recycled Shapes Starter Set is an ideal introduction to the fun world of magnetic construction for younger children. Six pieces are included - two cubes, two half cubes and two quarter circles - allowing kids to experiment with simple yet colourful builds. The Animal Set, meanwhile, comes with three of each of the above shapes. Movement is then introduced with the Magicube 100% Recycled Shapes Wheels Set. Comprising 13 pieces – two cubes, two half cubes, two quarter circles, one half sphere, two wheelbases and four wheels – builders can create simple, free-wheeling models made from recycled plastics in green and yellow shades. The World Set is an amalgamation of the other SKUs, perfect for kids looking to create big builds. This 32-piece set comes with 12 cubes, eight half cubes, four quarter circles, two half spheres, two wheelbases and four wheels. The Magicube Full Colour range benefits from a packaging upgrade for 2021, introducing a try-me function. This will allow consumers to understand more clearly the magnetic features of Magicube; on-shelf product will now clearly call out and physically demonstrate the powerful magnets and the unique ‘click’ of the cubes. As a toddler’s first construction set, Magicube Full Color teaches kids to recognise the primary colours red, blue, green and yellow. A simple system, just like all magnetic construction ranges from Geomag, Full Colour consists of three different items with varying numbers of cubes, from 16 pieces right up to the 64-piece set, all made from 100% recycled plastic.

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8th Wonder 01942 829 811 | www.8thwonder.co.uk

8th Wonder is preparing to introduce new wooden pre-school ranges from both Fisher Price and Little Tikes to market this autumn/winter, after agreeing partnerships with both iconic brands. The new Fisher Price wooden pre-school range is a charming collection of traditional wooden toys produced with contemporary execution for today’s pre-schoolers. The range launches in July across a variety of prices suitable for all budgets, starting at a pocket money/impulse purchase price point. Key items include a beautiful pull-along cart with eight wooden 2D animal figures, a wooden 5-in-1 activity cube with a bead maze top that helps develop fine motor skills, wooden character animal skittles for indoor and outdoor use, a wooden stacking puzzle comprising nine wooden stacking blocks that make three puzzle designs, and a pack of wooden musical instruments including a giraffe xylophone, a crocodile guiro, a pair of lion castanets and an elephant tambourine. My 1st Vehicles is a set of three different wooden vehicles, each complete with fun 2D animal figures. A stylish wooden trike rounds out the launch line-up. The whole range has been developed to provide hours of play and educational fun for every pre-school child. Little Tikes is an expert in bringing young imaginations to life through innovation, and this is perfectly reflected in 8th Wonder’s new range of Little Tikes wooden role-play toys. The partnership launches with eight product lines and will be available from July. Kids can shop just like mum and dad with the new Little Tikes Shopping Trolley, which comes complete with a barcode scanner, chalkboard shopping list and a bag. The new Wooden Food Set includes 20 different types of food and drink, then the new Little Tikes Cash Register, featuring a scanner with lights and sounds, can be used to ring everything up. Afterwards, kids can cook up a tasty treat using the new Little Tikes Kitchen with lights and sounds, donning the included apron and oven glove, turning the clicking dials on the hob and listening for the sizzle of the food. The new Little Tikes Pots and Pans set can be used to deliver a gourmet feast. Finally, kids can clean up after themselves using the new Little Tikes Cleaning station, complete with recycling bins that teach good habits, and then finish their day with a bit of ironing using the new Ironing Board set. For an even more realistic role-play experience, the iron makes steaming sounds. For peak season, 8th Wonder has designed the Little Tikes Deluxe Kitchen. Complete with a number of accessories, plus lights and sounds, this statement piece will make an attractive gift for the festive period. Both the Fisher Price and Little Tikes ranges have been made from responsibly sourced materials, and are certified by the FSC.

Casdon 01253 608 428 | www.casdon.com The Casdon Morphy Richards Kitchen Set comes with an assortment of replica kitchen appliances, including a fillable coffee maker, a kettle with a water level indicator, and a toaster with ‘pop-up’ toast. Crockery, cutlery and play food are also included. With the Casdon Dyson Cord-Free Vacuum, children can feel like they’re helping their parents around the home. This direct replica of the life-sized cordless Dyson has been specifically designed to be true to life, right down to the last detail. It even features working suction and realistic sounds. The Casdon Pan Pile Up, a set of six pans in various vibrant colours, can be stacked on top of or inside one another, providing infants with a problem to solve. This fun toy encourages preschoolers to explore concepts of size and spatial awareness, and helps tune their fine motor skills. The Casdon Post Box, meanwhile, is a bright and appealing development toy that encourages the recognition of colours and shapes. The realistic design and recognisable features make for pretend play fun that feels real and reflects the world kids see around them. The Baby Huggles range is a one-stop-shop for dolls up to 46cm. The Car Booster Seat lets kids take their dolls with them on trips and adventures; the booster seat features hugging hand-shaped buckles and a three-point harness that can be fixed inside any car. Ideal for creative play, the double-side Casdon Wooden Easel features a chalkboard as well as a wipe-clean magnetic surface. Children can draw directly onto the easel’s surfaces or can instead secure a sheet of paper on which to create their masterpiece using the attached clips. Children can host a tea party with the Casdon Tea Set. Complete with cups and saucers, a teapot, a sugar bowl, a milk jug and plates, there’s also a cake to divide up into four pieces. The set can be used with a Mr Kipling Cake Stand for even more realistic role-play fun. The Mr Kipling Cake Stand & Tea Set comes with six replicas of Mr Kipling cakes, each with a different shape underneath that can be matched with those on the two-tiered cake stand. Casdon’s Shopping Basket line lets kids bag a bargain, with two to collect. Filled with miniature versions of well-known brands, including Birds Eye, Mr Kipling and Young’s, the Casdon Shopping Basket is fun, bright and colourful, and ideal for combining with other Casdon role-play toys. Casdon’s Fruit & Veg Basket, meanwhile, is packed full of different fruit and vegetables, perfectly sized for little hands.

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Pre-school

Alpha Group UK 01293 804 599 | www.alphatoysuk.com Alpha Group will be expanding its UK pre-school portfolio in 2021 with flagship property Super Wings and a new master toy launch for Chuggington. Alpha’s hit pre-school property, Super Wings, is heading into its fifth season this year. The extensive content slate continues to air in the UK through major broadcast partners Cartoonito and Tiny Pop, with Series 5 adding 40 new episodes and two specials. Alpha is committed to long term content investment for Super Wings, with Season 6 already in development and Season 7 greenlit. Alpha UK will be bolstering its toy range with an extensive line-up of new products over the coming months, which will support the new Super Pets theme from the TV Series. Series 5 will see each core character joined by their very own pet, which can transform on command and help solve missions. These lovable, comical puppy-like pals offer an entry price point into the toy range. Each of the four freewheeling characters comes with lights and interchangeable facial expressions. Flip Super Wings resemble Jett’s special delivery parcels, which are featured in each episode, and can be flipped inside out to reveal a surprise Super Wings character. The new characters from Season 5 - Leo, Sunny and Golden Boy - will be added to the popular Transform-a-Bot and Transforming Character formats. These toys transform from plane to figure in a few simple steps. With over 20 characters to collect, they are available as singles or in refreshed multipacks. New character Golden Boy even comes with a gold metallic finish to suit his name and personality. For Series 5, the core Super Wings Transforming Characters will also be available to purchase with their co-ordinating Super Pet, ready to attach together just like in the show. The World Aircraft Playset and Mission Team Airport, featuring lights and sounds for interactive and imaginative play, will continue as the key play set lines for Super Wings. Both locations are prominent in the TV series. The Super Wings range will be supported with year-round heavyweight kids’ TV and digital investment, along with parental campaigns on social media and consumer promotions. Alpha Group has been appointed by Herschend Entertainment Studios as master toy partner for Chuggington, which has returned to screens for 2021. The popular pre-school property is rolling out a global franchise plan which includes new content launches and an extensive licensing programme. The animated series, Chuggington: Tales from the Rails, is colourful and contemporary, focusing on core themes, characters and locations, and is supported with a wealth of new music and humour to make it relatable for a new pre-school generation. Content has been developed for both linear and digital platforms and has secured placement with major broadcasters globally. In the UK, the series has already launched on CBeebies where it has secured a prime-time daily slot on linear TV and has already gained over 12m views on iPlayer since launching last August. Alpha’s master toy range launches in autumn/winter. The assortment has been carefully developed to correspond directly to the core characters, storylines, and themed locations featured in the content, and introduces three unique ways to play using different product scales, plus fresh innovation and play patterns to drive excitement and demand at retail. The large-scale Pop & Transform engines, available as Wilson, Koko and Bewster, include a surprise reveal transformation feature for each character. The mid-scale range includes Look Alive engines with moving facial expressions, while the Touch and Go engines boast innovative stop-start touch activation technology. The All Aboard Starter Track Set is based upon Chuggington’s depot, while Mtambo Safari Track Set is the autumn/winter TV driver. The Chuggington range will be supported with multi-platform marketing investment. A new magazine and a nightwear range will also launch later in 2021.

Edx Education 020 7097 5173 | www.edxeducation.com The Edx Education portfolio has been created to help children develop their cognitive, fine/gross motor, communication, language, social and emotional skills, by sparking imagination and aiding the reaching of key early learning milestones. With Junior GeoStix, parents, caregivers and teachers can find new ways to engage their childrens’ imaginations, as well as foster creative thinking. An ideal STEAM product, the new EDX Education range links engineering, art and mathematics, and offers hours of hands-on learning and open-ended play ideas. Using the flexible curved and straight GeoStix, which click together in a satisfying way, children can create their own designs, pictures and patterns, or follow one of the activity cards, while improving number/letter recognition and developing problem solving and fine motor skills in a fun, engaging way. Noting the importance of encouraging children to explore different learning concepts through play, many Edx Education toys, such as the FunPlay Range, provide children with activities and games to enjoy whilst learning. STEAM construction sets are being introduced this year, along with even more brain boosting travel games for pre-school children wanting to play and learn on the go. The award-winning Rainbow Pebbles range continues to grow too. The new Junior Rainbow Pebbles, which are suitable for toddlers from the age of 18 months, are joined by the new Sensory Rainbow Pebbles. Ideal for hands-on multi-functional sensory play, the Sensory Rainbow Pebbles help young minds to learn numbers, grouping, and much more.

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Pre-school

Character Options 01616 339 800 | www.character-online.com Character Options’ World of Wooden Toys offers pre-school fun with future generations in mind. Made from FSC certified wood, the range now includes a host of popular preschool licences, including Disney Princess, Fireman Sam and Peppa Pig. Based on the Princesses from Disney’s most popular tales, the enchanting Disney Princess Wooden Toys range brings the magic of Disney to life for young children. The tactile chunky pieces are perfect for small hands, and the combination of pretty colours with exposed wood and soft styling means the toys look great on-shelf too. The Disney Princess Wooden Cinderella’s Pumpkin Carriage is already proving popular. This stunning pull-along vehicle has smooth-rolling wheels and comes with a detachable horse and three double-sided figures: Cinderella, The Fairy Godmother and Jaq. Kids will appreciate the clever carriage design; one side shows a pumpkin with curling vines, the other, a carriage fit for a princess. Underwater Disney adventures are now possible thanks to the Little Mermaid’s Ariel Inspired Grotto Playset. This playset features a slide that descends into a plunge pool, as well as a shell that opens and a treasure chest. Four double-sided wooden figures - Ariel, Flounder, Sebastian and Ursula – are included. The Disney Princess Wooden Rapunzel’s Tower features opening doors and a fun hair slide, and comes with wooden figures of Rapunzel, Flynn Rider and Pascal, which can be slotted into the wooden boat provided. The spring range also includes two Disney Princess Carriages: Moana’s Sea Voyager and Jasmine’s Magic Carpet. Each comes with a double-sided wooden Disney Princess figure. Each charming Disney Princess Wooden Four-Figure Set, meanwhile, comes with two Disney Princesses and two Friends. A major focus for autumn is the launch of the Disney Princess Enchanted Royal Castle Wooden Playset. Home to all the Disney Princesses, this stunning castle features themed rooms for Snow White, Aurora, Cinderella, Jasmine, Merida and Moana. There’s also the castle kitchen, grand staircase and a spinning dance floor to discover. This impressive and highly giftable set comes with seven wooden figures and a selection of accessories for endless Disney Princess adventures. Since joining the World of Wood in spring, the Fireman Sam Wood collection has been popular with fans of this evergreen pre-school property. The Four-Figure Character Set features two-sided figures on individual bases, while the wooden Jupiter Fire Engine features free-wheeling wheels, removeable equipment panels and a poseable rescue platform, as well as a double-sided Fireman Sam and Penny figure. Finally, the feature-packed Fire Station play set is scaled for play with the other figures as well as the wooden Jupiter Fire Engine. It includes a double-sided Fireman Sam and Penny figure, and features a working firefighter’s pole and water cannon, plus firefighting accessories. For more information about Character Options’ full pre-school portfolio, email sales@charactergroup.plc.uk.

Flair

020 8643 0320 | www.flairplc.co.uk This year sees the launch of Flair’s master toy line for Blue’s Clues & You, which was recently named the No.1 new licence globally. Available trade-wide from July, this range brings the funlearning pre-school show to life. Feature plush that capture Blue’s lovable personality is available, including Peek-A-Blue and Peek-a-Boo Magenta, who – as their names suggest - play peek-a-boo. Dance-Along Blue dances to the show’s recognisable theme song. Collectible figures and play sets such as the hero Blue’s House Playset, and a role-play collection offering items kids will spot in the show, such as the Ultimate Handy Dandy Notebook, Sing-Along Guitar, Mail Time with Mailbox and more, will also be included in the launch range. Flair’s Magic Dreamlight is a soft sleeping companion for bedtime. Available from autumn/winter, this snuggly unicorn will help children to relax, preparing them for a sound night’s sleep. When the Dreamlight is turned on, soothing music plays, and colour-changing lights illuminate the unicorn’s chest. Flair adds to its heritage ranges in 2021 with Sevi. This internationally renowned wooden toy brand delivers quality, developmental benefits and endless play possibilities for children in their pre-school years and beyond. Perfect for both play and display, March launches include the Doctor’s Set, Tea Set, Alphabet Letters and a raft of pretend play musical instruments. The Music Centre Dog is a particular highlight. Flair’s premium plush brand Trudi, which prides itself on offering first companions that will be treasured for years to come, is ideal for gifting. The collection comprises a diverse range of products, from plush playmates and puppets to collectible charms, meaning there’s a Trudi soft toy to suit all ages and budgets. For more information about the full pre-school portfolio, including Minnie & Mickey, Cry Pets and Doc McStuffins, email sales@flairplc.co.uk.

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SES Creative 01304 746030 | www.ses-creative.com SES Creative offers an extensive range of products suitable for ages 0-4, including gluten-free paint and dough, as well as easy-clean products, all made in Holland and tested to the highest standards. From 2021 onwards, all SES products will be 100% CO2 neutral. This message will be clearly marked on all products, increasing product and brand appeal among eco-conscious consumers. SES offers two pre-school ranges, each designed to meet the needs of different age groups – My First and Tiny Talents. My First products introduce drawing, modelling dough and painting to kids aged 1-4, letting creative youngsters produce their very first pieces of art while enjoying simple, colourful and fun activities. SES Creative’s award-winning My First Crayon Beads range ensures that the even the youngest children can enjoy drawing with crayons, without the difficultly of holding narrow objects, or the risk of losing or breaking their crayons. The My First Fingerpaint set includes four paint colours, safe for kids aged one and over, an apron, and a 2-metre roll of paper on which painters can unleash their creativity. The My first range has been expanded for 2021 with new products such Mosaic with Shapes. This product allows children to make up to eight different designs using re-usable sensory mosaic pieces. Other new products hitting shelves this year include SES’ new colouring with water product, Hidden Animals, which further enhances the successful My First range. The Tiny Talents range has been created with a focus on aiding the development of young children aged up to three years old. Offering a raft of entertaining activities, products from within the Tiny Talents range are made from plush, wood, foam, or high-quality plastic, in muted colours that complement modern lifestyles and interiors. Within this range parents will find new and exciting products such as SES Creative’s Lacing Sensory Beads, which let kids explores different materials and colours in a unique way. New for 2021, the Family Hugs soft photo book is a cuddly toy and photo album in one, while the Shape Sorter Bus Suitcase helps children learn their shapes with the use of a sturdy London bus-shaped suitcase. SES Creative has also partnered with Sophie La Giraffe to offer a range of licensed arts and craft products such as baby markers, fingerpaint sets and modelling dough for younger children. To find out more, email sales@ses-creativ.co.uk.

Golden Bear 01952 608 308 | www.goldenbeartoys.com The impact of Covid has resulted in growing demand for toys that help develop kids’ social and emotional learning skills, and that also provide comfort and routine. Catering to these needs, Golden Bear offers a range of pre-school toys developed with all these features in mind, and that also incorporates favourite TV characters which kids know and trust. Based on the lovable canine from the hit CBeebies show, the Hey Duggee Talking Duggee Soft Toy provides calm and comfort to children with its super-soft plush and huggability. Duggee is perfect for cuddling, and when kids give him a squeeze, he will make his signature ‘woof-woof’ in response. The Hey Duggee plush is suitable for ages 10+ months. The In the Night Garden Musical Activity Ninky Nonk Bubble Train, based on the train seen in the bedtime CBeebies show, offers young pre-schoolers a sensory experience with different textures and sounds, including music and bubbles, that appear as the train is pulled along. Kids will love to watch as the bubbles appear and to chase them as they float through the air. The train also features five activity packed carriages that join together, including a textured rain shaker, stacking rings and detachable store-and-go carriage. The shape and character components are perfectly sized for children to grasp and place whilst also helping their hand eye co-ordination. This product is suitable for kids aged one year and over. Time for Bed with Bing and Owly is an ideal bedtime companion. Complete with music and a lightshow to unwind with, this toy helps maintain kids’ nighttime routine, particularly as the clocks change during the year. Time for Bed with Bing and Owly is based on the lead character and iconic nightlight, Owly, from the popular CBeebies show. Bing is instantly recognisable in his baby-blue pyjamas and can also be used as a soft toy for little ones to cuddle up to. Parents can switch on the Owly lightshow to soothe children to sleep with gentle lights, or a combination of music and lights. The volume control allows parents to ensure the music is always at the perfect level for drifting off. For sales enquires please contact customerservices@goldenbeartoys.co.uk.

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HTI 01253 778888 | www.htigroup.co.uk HTI is expanding its pre-school offering, having designed several new products across its key categories for this age group, all of which are ready to hit shelves in autumn. HTI Toy’s Teamsterz brand has been performing strongly in recent years, and currently benefits from the support of multiple key retailers as well as independent shops. This year sees the introduction of new sub-brand Tiny Teamsterz. The key products within the range are the freewheeling vehicles, which are made from soft, squishy plastic. Bright colours and friendly character faces on each vehicle enhance their popularity with toddlers, whilst the chunky design makes them perfect for little hands. Complementing the range are three exciting play sets – a Transporter, a Raceway and a 3-Level Tower Garage – each of which offer a great introduction to the world of Teamsterz. Joining an already extensive role-play range for evergreen licence Peppa Pig, HTI’s new Mini Driver is expecting big things at retail after receiving overwhelmingly positive feedback at this year’s previews. This interactive car dashboard toy is shaped just like the car in the TV series and features a mixture of lights and sounds, so pre-schoolers can learn the core features of a car dashboard with the help of Peppa Pig. The Dolls Prams and Pushchairs category has been a key focus for HTI for the upcoming autumn 2021 season, with a style refresh on every single brand. A major new product launch is Peppa Pig’s Pram, which is shaped just like the pram that features in the TV series. Complete with an adjustable hood, foam handle and bedding set, this doll pram is perfect for children who want to emulate Peppa and will aid the development of social and cognitive skills. Having recently announced its licensing partnership with Hey Duggee, HTI Toys has developed several bright, interactive toys for its role-play range. Encouraging the development of musical skills, the Hey Duggee character keyboard features four of the main characters as 3D figures. Children can create their own music in piano mode, or switch to ‘Woof’ mode to make a tune from Duggee’s woofs.

Rainbow Designs 01329 227 300 | www.rainbowdesigns.co.uk Rainbow Designs will be celebrating 50 years of being The Home of Classic Characters throughout 2021. With a collection steeped in pre-school favourites including Paddington Bear, Peter Rabbit, Elmer, Spot, Disney’s Winnie the Pooh and We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, the Rainbow portfolio has plenty to spark imaginations and entertain young minds. This year welcomes several exciting new additions to the successful and highly soughtafter Adventures of Paddington toy line for pre-schoolers, which launched last autumn. The current range features a soft Deluxe Paddington Plush, 22cm soft toys of Paddington wearing either his famous coat and hat or his pyjamas, as well as collectible Paddington figures and a fun Play Bus. Autumn arrivals set to expand the assortment will include new feature-packed play sets and figure sets as well as a supremely cuddly Giant Adventures of Paddington Soft Toy. Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway, the highly anticipated sequel to the blockbuster Peter Rabbit Movie, is set to hit the big screen this year with May being offered as the latest launch date. Rainbow’s best-selling Peter Rabbit Movie collection has captured the hearts of pre-schoolers and with Easter just around the corner, the Talking Peter Rabbit Soft Toy and Giant Peter Rabbit Soft Toy, as well as the trio collection of Peter Rabbit, Benjamin and Mopsy, are set to be popular with fans of the franchise. New to the Rainbow Family this year is the beloved We’re Going on a Bear Hunt brand. The new partnership sees the introduction of a soft and cuddly 20cm Bear soft toy and a colourful Wooden Shape Puzzle featuring the animals from the children’s storybook. Snoopy arrived at Rainbow Designs this spring. The new Everybody Loves Snoopy range features Charles Schulz’s iconic characters including a Snoopy Soft Toy, a cuddly Lying Down Snoopy, and the Snoopy and Woodstock Soft Toy. A series of beautiful new wooden toys has joined the hugely popular Guess How Much I Love You and Fun with Spot collections. Kids can enjoy colourful new Wooden Shape Puzzles and Wooden Building Blocks, as well as a Spot Wooden Pull-Along and a Guess How Much I Love You Wooden Pull-Along featuring both Large Nutbrown Hare and Little Nutbrown Hare. Also available are a colourful new Spot Wooden Bowling Set and an entertaining Guess How Much I Love You Balancing Toy. The latter has printed wooden pieces including the Little Nutbrown Hare which kids can stack on top of each other, creating entertainment for all when they fall down.

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Pre-school

Jazwares 020 3598 5119 | www.jazwares.com Following the successful retail debut of the master toy line for ‘edu-tainer’ and pre-schooler favourite Blippi in 2020, Jazwares will launch new items in the UK for autumn/winter. All products are inspired by Blippi’s pre-school content, which has amassed more than 20b views on YouTube alone. Retailers can expect to see refreshes to key items from the existing toy line including the ball pit blinds, little vehicles and plush. New hero products include the Get Ready and Play Deluxe Feature Plush, a 20” interactive Plush Blippi that teaches kids how to get dressed. It has eight interactive features and 15+ phrases. The Ultimate Party Playset with sounds, figures and multiple play zones, including a fun zip line, also joins the range alongside the Blippi Excavator, which plays The Excavator song and comes with one figure and accessories. The Blippi Fire Truck has sound effects and comes with two figures. Jazwares is currently previewing the toy line for the new pre-school show Dino Ranch, which will launch in the UK on Disney+ this month following its top-rated launch in the US in January. Dino Ranch follows the action-packed adventures of the Cassidy family as they tackle life in a fantastical, ‘pre-westoric’ setting where dinosaurs still roam. As global master toy partner, Jazwares will launch a wide range of engaging and inventive Dino Ranch toys across a variety of categories including figures, plush, play sets, role-play, vehicles, and musical instruments. Supported by exciting content plans from Pinkfong and the highly anticipated Baby Shark’s Big Show launch on Nick Jr., the best-selling Baby Shark portfolio from WowWee, distributed in the UK by Jazwares, expands with all new innovations and line extensions encompassing interactive plush toys, bath toys, electronic learning toys, musical toys, baby and toddler toys, and more.

Posh Paws 01268 567317 | www.poshpawsinternational.co.uk Posh Paws’ new Sesame Street soft toys collection will launch this summer with two feature soft toys as well as a range of basic plush characters and beanie soft toys. The new feature toys will include Tickle Me Elmo, who is sure to entertain Sesame Street fans with over 20 fun voice and movement features to discover, and Baking Cookie Monster, who comes dressed in his chefs’ outfit and includes three delicious cookie-scented toy biscuits that kids can feed him. To support the full product launch, Posh Paws will be investing in paid social media advertising campaigns, as well as PR and influencer activity, and will be working closely with retail partners throughout the year. Since launching last year, Posh Paws’ Sunny Bunnies toys continue to be a hit with kids. The existing range of soft toys boast sound and movement features that are helping keep kids entertained and active at home, as they laugh and jump around with their favourite characters. Available now are the best-selling Giggle & Hop Large Toys, which form the basis of Posh Paws’ print and digital marketing and PR activities, as well as the Medium Giggle & Wiggle Toys and the pocket money pick-up Sound Slammers. Those looking for high-quality traditional toys should check out Posh Paws’ Ragtales collection, which offers a large choice of British designed soft toys and gifts, made using luxury fabrics, the softest velour and hand-knitted clothing. The Ragtales collection features the lovable ragdoll characters, gorgeous teddy bears and high-quality wooden pull-along dogs that will provide hours of fun for young children. Posh Paws’ range of eco-friendly BBC Earth licensed animal soft toys range includes 18 cute and cuddly animals, as seen in the award-winning BBC documentaries. A cute new range of baby animals is also on its way. All are made using stuffing from 100% recycled plastic bottles and come with 100% recycled card hang-tangs. Just like the popular Netflix show, Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous, Posh Paws’ range of officially licensed soft toys have been a hit with fans. The current range includes the iconic T-Rex and Blue Raptor, both with extra-chunky features and high-quality detailing to bring them to life. New dinosaurs from the show will be introduced to the range throughout summer. For more information, email sales@poshpawsinternational.co.uk.

Simba Smoby Toys UK 01620 674 778 | www.simba-dickie-group.de/en Following another strong year as master toy partner for Masha and the Bear, Simba will continue to drive demand for its collection with new launches and an always-on marketing campaign. The range now comprises a wide selection of Masha dolls and Bear plush, which will continue to benefit from TV promotion in 2021. A hero line, the Bear House Playset opens to reveal Bear’s cosy cottage. The set features two levels of play, interactive features and sound effects, and comes complete with figures and furniture. A new introduction is on its way for autumn/winter 2021. The Masha Shake & Sound Interactive Doll promises to capture imaginations by bringing the world of Masha and the Bear to life for young fans. The company’s trusted Smoby brand offers a large collection of playhouses, ride-ons, outdoor activity toys and more. Fresh for spring is Smoby’s market-first plastic Teepee, which can be pitched both indoors and outdoors. With its simple design and neutral colour palette, the Teepee has a modern, Scandinavian appeal. Cleverly designed to evolve as children grow, this innovative product transforms in height, making it suitable for kids aged 2-10 years old. The Smoby Garden Playhouse is ideal for budding gardeners aged two years and above, bringing the natural world into the role-play world for lots of green-fingered fun. A raft of accessories, 15 in total, provide endless play potential; the guttering filters rainwater and can be used to fill up a water butt, while kids can use the watering can to water the plants, and the plant trellis to hang and care for them. The largest Smoby house to date, the fully-customisable Neo Friends House can be purchased individually or with a kitchen. Kids will enjoy the functioning doorbell, secret door compartments for hide and play, and the picnic table to the rear of the house. For more information about the full pre-school portfolio, which includes a collection of Disney plush, please email sales@sisotoysuk.com.

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An Exciting New Toy Range for Preschoolers!

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Peppa Pig © Astley Baker Davies Ltd. © 2021 Hasbro and Entertainment One. ©Spin Master Ltd. TMPAW PATROL and all related titles, logos, characters; and SPIN MASTER logo are trademarks of Spin Master Ltd. Used under license. Nickelodeon and all related titles and logos are trademarks of Viacom International Inc. BBC logoTM and © BBC 1996. Something Special logoTM & © BBC 2004. Mr TumbleTM & © BBC 2015. Licensed by BBC Studios. PADDINGTON™ and PADDINGTON BEAR™ © Paddington and Company Limited/Studiocanal S.A.S 2020 Paddington Bear™, Paddington™ and PB™ are trademarks of Paddington and Company Limited Licensed on behalf of Studiocanal S.A.S by Copyrights Group. HEY DUGGEE™ and character logos™& © Studio AKA Ltd 2014. Licensed by BBC Studios. BBC logo TM & © BBC 1996. © 2021 Alphablocks Ltd. All rights reserved. TOY-WORLD-half-p- 210X138-NEW layout-3.indd 1

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Pre-school

Moose Toys 01637 882200 | www.moosetoys.com Autumn/winter is set to be a strong season for Moose Toys in the UK, with the growth of its pre-school offering. Seasons 1 and 2 of Bluey are currently available to watch on Disney+, and the show will make its free-to-air debut on Cbeebies from April ahead of the launch of Moose’s highly anticipated Bluey master toy range in July. After topping PreSchool NPD charts in Australia, and seeing sell-out success in the US, Bluey toys will make their debut here in the UK with an engaging range that will allow children to recreate their favourite moments from the show at home. The comprehensive range includes figures and plush, play sets and jumbo plush. Hero items include the Heeler 4WD Family Vehicle and the Bluey Family Home Playset, both of which will be TV advertised. The UK Bluey toy launch will be supported by a 360-degree marketing campaign including TV, digital and influencers, which kicks off from July. Since launching in 2019, Moose’s pre-school doll brand, Kindi Kids, has gone from strength to strength. Webisode content has been a key driver in the property’s popularity with UK pre-schoolers, having garnered nearly 90m views to date. The autumn/winter season will mark the launch of Series 5 of Kindi Kids, which welcomes a new Sisters theme as well as a fresh feature doll. Series 2 of Kindi Minis will feature new collectible mini dolls and a carnival play set. The toy range will be supported by new webisodes airing on YouTube from July, as well as a comprehensive marketing campaign and TV support. In addition to the launch of Bluey and innovation in Kindi Kids, Moose Toys will continue to build on its preschool strength beyond 2021 by partnering with Silvergate Media to launch the new Octonauts: Above and Beyond toy line. As part of the deal, Moose Toys will create a full range of Octonauts toys including figures, vehicles, play sets, plush, games and more.

H. Grossman 01603 397105 | www.tobar.co.uk

IMC Toys 01904 720 908 | www.imctoys.com IMC’s best-selling interactive dolls, Cry Babies, are now available in the new Tutti Frutti collection. These dolls come dressed in fruity, scented pyjamas which smell like the fruit they are wearing. There are three characters: Mel, a watermelon; Ella, a strawberry and Pia, a pineapple. As with all Cry Babies, they cry real tears and make realistic baby sounds when their dummies are removed. The crying will only stop once children replace the dummy or lay the doll down. Each Cry Baby Tutti Frutti doll comes with a dummy and an interchangeable fruit print onesie. Perfect for nurturing role-play and bringing the Cry Babies adventures to life, as seen in the animated series on IMC’s official YouTube channel Kitoons, the Cry Babies doll collection is regularly updated to introduce new characters and reflect the latest storyline themes. For more information, please contact info.uk@imctoys.com.

Tobar offers an assortment of charming wooden pre-school toys at attractive prices, including traditional push puppets, cars, pullback and go unicorns and dragons, roly-polys, farm animal figures, puzzle blocks and a rainmaker. All feature bright primary colours and a Scandi-style design that looks great in any playroom. The Wooden Learning Clock teaches kids all they need to know about time, while the wooden Building Blocks and Stack and Play Safari Animals add a new dimension to play. Tapping into growing demand for emergency service themed toys, Tobar introduces its wooden Play and Sound Fire Engine, Ambulance and Police Car. The company’s play sets are available in a range of on-trend themes, including Farm, Noah’s Ark and Pirate Ship. Contemporary designs and bright colours attract the eye, while the packaging of each set has been designed to maximise shelf space. The versatility of Tobar’s wooden range is also demonstrated by the Wooden Car Transporter, which comes complete with colourful chunky wooden cars. The evergreen classic Wooden Stack and Sounds Train continues for this year. This multi-award-winning toy comes in Try Me packaging which has proved popular with consumers. Bburago is making a name for itself in the pre-school category with its BB Junior range. The BB Junior Volkswagen Press and Go is a great first campervan for kids, while junior racing drivers will enjoy the brand’s range of Ferrari toys, including push-and-go cars and a ‘My First’ RC version. The BB Junior Splash n Play Submarine Projector is a fun new addition to the pre-school lineup. When kids press the periscope, the submarine will project a sea life scene directly beneath it. When in the bath, it will project images onto the bottom of the tub as it floats on the surface of the water. Alternatively, the BB Junior Splash n Play Tugboat automatically activates a water squirter in its chimney when placed in the bath. The full BB Junior range of vehicles, bath toys and gift sets is available to view online. For more information, email sales@tobar.co.uk.

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Pre-school

Sawdust and Rainbows 0845 862 3770 | www.sawdustandrainbows.com Sawdust and Rainbows hand finishes a range of wooden indoor climbing frames in its workshop in Northern Ireland. Inspired by the Hungarian paediatrician Emmi Pikler, who was passionate about ensuring babies develop in the way nature intended, the company’s frames and accessories allow pre-school children to learn and master skills at their own pace. Designed to be used from birth, the frames aid gross motor skills, build confidence and provide a safe way for little ones to challenge themselves. The best seller is the Wee’Un triangle, which is available with a range of accessories such as the ladder and slide. The slide can be flipped over to attach a ball run, climbing disks or ring toss. There are also two sizes of folding hump, a tunnel, cubes, and a Montessori learning tower called the StandUp kitchen helper. Everything comes in a range of colourways including rainbow, pastel, natural and monochrome. A new play stand called the Tearmann, meaning sanctuary in Irish, was launched in March, and coming soon is a new Compact Wee’Un. Slimmer than the original, this frame can nonetheless hold an impressive 250kg. Only wood sourced from sustainable forests is used in the construction of these toys, along with non-toxic, toy safe paint and varnish. Products are UKCA, CE, ASTM, SOR and ISO tested from birth.

Playmobil 01268 548 111 | www.playmobil.co.uk The colourful world of Playmobil 1.2.3, which celebrates its 30th birthday in the UK this year, is expanding. New and imaginative play ideas launched in March, joining the existing range of products for children aged 1½ – 4 years. Complete with overhauled packaging which will better highlight the developmental benefits of the range, the new sets highlight three learning stages; each will build on the previous, promoting development in a targeted and fun way through the first years of life. Easy Start features beginner sets with simple figures. The learning focus is on feeling and exploring, imitating animal sounds, and naming figures, animals and objects. The extended First Challenge play sets allow kids to explore first functions, develop fine motor skills and understand cause-and-effect relationships, while the advanced Little Expert sets place the emphasis on more complex contexts, social skills and first role-play. New offerings will include the Animal Train as well as the My Take Along Preschool, which lets kids replicate fun activities from their own learning establishments. The entire contents of this set fit inside the carrycase, making it perfect for on-the-go play. Children can also visit the enchanting world of fairies thanks to a special new play theme that features sets such as Unicorn Carriage with Fairy, and Fairy Playground. Rounding out the new additions, various figure sets, including Construction Worker with Wheelbarrow and Rider with Horse, are suitable as a gift or as a first introduction to the world of Playmobil 1.2.3. Playmobil 1.2.3 provides little ones with varied play themes and features, as well as opportunities to explore, understand the world and grow through play, while incorporating Playmobil’s Sand and Aqua ranges will enrich the system further.

Rex London 020 8746 1700 | rexlondontrade.com Rex London’s range of pre-school toys and games has been specially developed to enhance core learning outcomes during play in the all-important early years. Parents can introduce their little ones to the joy of playing musical instruments with the classic wood-mounted Xylophone. New from Rex London, this brightly coloured instrument features an adorable elephant character from the Wild Wonders range. This xylophone is a great way to teach toddlers the names of different primary colours, as well as fine-tune their motor skills and hand-eye coordination. An easy-to-follow song book is also included, so kids can start to learn five classic nursery rhymes while they experiment with making their own music. A best-seller, the Wild Wonders balance game consists of 14 wooden jungle flora and fauna pieces. The aim of the game is simply to balance the pieces on top of each other, providing a fun way to improve hand-eye coordination and learn animal names at the same time. Designed specifically to capture the imagination of younger children, the exotic animals will ignite the imaginations of most children, and the bright colours and eye-catching finish of this balance game will delight boy and girls alike. This reflects the company ethos; Rex London has always opted for ungendered kids’ designs, focusing more on characters, interests and patterns that appeal to kids, not genders. Rex London’s ABC Learning Cards set comes with 26 write and wipe cards ideal for kids wanting to practise their writing skills. The set comes complete with a dry-wipe pen, while colourful illustrations will help kids visualise each individual letter as well as words. For more information, contact info@rexlondon.com.

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Pre-school

Rubies 08453 070 707 | www.rubiesuk.com Costume company Rubies has unveiled the latest additions to its licensed portfolio, with new dress-up options for fans of Disney’s latest animated movie release plus fun onesies based on characters from iconic kids TV. The wait for the eagerly anticipated feature length movie Raya and the Last Dragon is now over, as it landed on Disney+ in March to hugely positive reviews. Thanks to Rubies partnership with the major studio, kids can join the adventure and track down the legendary last dragon themselves, dressed as the heroic lone warrior, Raya. Available now as a deluxe child costume, the Raya outfit comes complete with a top and attached jacket featuring glitter detail, trousers with glitter detail, an attached belt and boot covers. A separate cloak accessory completes the look. Rubies is also launching a range of toddler Sesame Street jumpsuits in velour and fleece fabrics, based on two of the most popular characters from the beloved kids’ show. Available in either Cookie Monster or Elmo designs, these cute costumes are available to pre-order now and provide wearers with a comfortable onesiestyle outfit perfect for play, or simply for relaxing at home.

Smart Toys & Games 01903 885669 | www.smartgames.eu The brand behind the award-winning pre-school construction sets, SmartMax is pleased to introduce an exciting spring launch for pre-schoolers. The brand’s best-selling My First collection is expanding with the launch of My First Acrobats, suitable for kids aged 1.5-5 years. My First Acrobats includes six differently shaped geometric building blocks, a mirror platform and three metal balls, each with a different character face. Kids will love exploring the endless stacking possibilities on offer; the sky is the limit, but the acrobats must be well balanced, or they will topple over. With multiple ways to play, toddlers can either follow and complete the 24 picture challenges on the cards provided or combine the pieces in a variety of ways to make the coolest acrobatic structures they can think of. Introducing young children to the world of magnetism, SmartMax encourages logical thinking, and helps develop motor skills and imaginative play from the very beginning. The simple yet effective design of the My First sets enables children of all ages to engage with the product and build their own unique constructions however they please. For more information, email uk@smart.be.


My first - Crayon beads

My first fingerpaint set

Colouring with water - Hidden animals

Colouring with water - Colouring mat elephant

Shape sorter suitcase bus

For more information please contact sales@ses-creative.co.uk or call 01304 746 030

Lacing sensory beads


Pre-school

Diamant www.amav.com/cocomelon.html Diamant is leveraging its strong presence in the international market by signing a new EMEA deal to produce a CoComelon collection. This licence has become one of the strongest internationally for the Pre-School category, with more views on Netflix than any other series. The brand is colourful and educational, and offers creative ideas for play that give parents and children alike much to look forward to. In addition, the nursery rhymes surrounding the brand are well known and much loved. Diamant’s CoComelon collection includes its award-winning and completely original Ice Cream Machine, Ice Pop Maker and Slush Machine. The company’s flagship product, the Glow Pad, which has sold over 12m units globally to date, has also had a CoComelon makeover. Premium quality licensed arts & crafts products are also available for fans of this major pre-school property. Distributors worldwide are already on board with the product line, including Sinco Toys Ltd for the UK market. Please contact dan@sincocreations.com for additional information.

Tonies www.tonies.com Children’s audio brand Tonies has launched three new bedtime Tonies, adding to its extensive range of stories, songs and audio. The screen-free Toniebox has no blue light emissions, often associated with sleep disturbance or circadian rhythm disruptions, and thereby encourages quality sleep. The three new Tonies make ideal additions to any Tonie collection, and importantly help children to drift off easily and enjoy a restful night’s sleep. The three new additions include A Musical Journey from In the Night Garden, which follows CBeebies favourites Igglepiggle, Upsy Daisy and friends on their adventures through the magical Night Garden. Under the Nap Time banner, customers can choose from Nature Sounds, which features the sounds of a tranquil forest at dusk and gentle water flowing, and White Noise, which is safe and soothing to lull children to sleep easily. Research has shown that playing white noise is an effective method of getting babies and children to sleep. The Tonies and Tonieboxes operate through a wireless digital system which connects to an NFC chip within each Tonie using Wi-Fi. Each Tonie is beautifully hand painted, making them desirable and collectible for kids. Pre-recorded Tonies include both classic and contemporary tales and popular bedtime songs. Popular figures include the Lion King, The Gruffalo, Peppa Pig, and Frozen. ‘How and Why’ Tonies also allow children to bring the magic of learning to life, with educational audio content exploring the world of horses, dinosaurs, astronauts and whales. Meanwhile, Creative-Tonies play recorded or pre-downloaded content which can be upload via the Toniecloud or the free Tonie-App, and are ideal for when kids want to listen to something a little bit more personal. One Creative-Tonie comes free with all starter sets.

RMS International 01617 270 700 | www.rmsint.com RMS International has enjoyed strong growth in the pre-school category in recent years with its own Grafix brand as well as a number of successful licences. The business is now building on this growth, having recently signed a licensing agreement for CoComelon, arguably one of the most sought-after brands in the pre-school space. The new CoComelon range covers a wide variety of subcategories including wooden toys, puzzles, arts & crafts, bubbles and sensory items. The products focus on education and messy play, stimulating the senses through several visual and touch elements. Innovative packaging designs have also been used to incorporate the much-loved characters for added on-shelf appeal. The initial response from retailers has been very positive, and demand has been growing ever since RMS made its first presentations. With goods on the water, product will be on shelf from April in the UK and Europe. RMS International has also bolstered its licensed pre-school portfolio with Paw Patrol, having recently signed a licensing deal with Nickelodeon ahead of the new film release. The range of products incorporates arts & crafts, novelties and bubbles. Existing licences continue to deliver great results in the form of the evergreen CBeebies brand, focused on educational fun and puzzles for 18 months+. A new and updated range of Little Tikes products will also be hitting shelves in time for spring, focused on preschool arts, outdoor games, inflatables and bubbles. The new Cosy Coupe Bubble Machine is based on the iconic red and yellow car. The pre-school market has proved to be an area of significant growth for RMS International, which intends to continue developing and investing in this space through licences, white label and own-brand products.

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Pre-school

Toynamics 0116 478 5230 | www.toynamics.co.uk Hape’s pre-school line-up includes musical toys, push & pull toys, walkers and educational toys, with favourites such as the Rainbow Pounder, Noahs Ark, Shape Sorting Box and more continuing into 2021. Activity cubes remain a popular option; Hape cubes offer a raft of features and plenty of elements to explore. New for 2021 from Skip Hop is the Dinophone. Building upon the success of the Unicorn Phone, this engaging toy keeps kids entertained as they explore fun sounds, tunes and more. The new Explore & More Let’s Roll Activity Table features two stages of play, with the option for both floor and table play thanks to the detachable legs. Kids will enjoy getting to grips with the 20 developmental activities, while the light-up piano, swirl slide and other features add to the fun. Toynamics supports all its ranges with high-profile marketing campaigns and a full in-store programme. For more information, email sales@toynamics.co.uk.

A.B.Gee 01773 570 444 | www.abgee.co.uk Building on its already extensive Pre-School range, A.B.Gee has added a selection of new and exciting lines to its popular exclusive Tooky Toy collection. These innovative and stimulating toys create hours of fun and learning, helping preschoolers develop their motor skills and early knowledge of shapes and colours. Hero lines from the Tooky Toy range include the fun Cow Shape Sorter. Suitable for kids aged 24 months and over, this 9-piece set features tactile chunky wooden blocks perfectly suited to little hands. As kids explore the pieces, and experiment with sorting them into the correct hole, parents can enhance the play potential by teaching colours and shapes. Off the back of the hugely successful wooden Noah’s Ark, Tooky has introduced a larger version of this set complete with an accompanying story book so little ones can re-enact the biblical tale whilst their parents read to them. The new 20-piece set features six charming animal pairs, plus figures of Noah and his wife. Injecting learning into play, kids can fit each animal through its matching hole to load them into the ark. The bold, colourful design promises on-shelf consumer appeal, while pre-schoolers will enjoy exploring the ark and bringing the story to life.

DKB Toys & Distribution 07813 725480 | www.dkbtoys.com A family brand known and trusted by parents across the US, Canada and in the UK, Alex Global Products (formally Alex Brands) returns to the market in 2021 as a key IP belonging to the Everest Wholesale/DKB Toys & Distribution family. With over 200 SKUs across the Alex range to choose from, the company will introduce a capsule collection of the top performing 30 SKUs at relaunch, with a view to expanding the range later in the year and across 2022. The Alex Global Products design teams across Canada, the US and China have expanded with extensive competitor intelligence, giving the company deep insight into what the market needs and wants. Popular products from the original Alex Global Products Bath Toys range will see a welcome comeback this year. ABC Stickers in the Tub comes with 26 colourful over-sized stick-on letters that encourage children to develop their knowledge of letters and spelling while in the bath. A drip-dry mesh hanging bag, which affixes via suction cups, offers a handy storage solution. A variation on the sticker theme, the Beep Beep Stickers in the Tub pack allows children to create a stick-on roadway using the multiple foam pieces. Various vehicles enhance the imaginative bath play, including an ice cream truck, bus, motorbike, school bus and racing car. Finally, creating watery works of art on tiles has never been easier with Draw in the Tub Crayons, complete with six washable bathtub crayons and a duckshaped sponge for wiping clean. Contact Chris@dkbtoys.com for more information.

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Screenless fun with the Toniebox. Enjoy your favourite songs and stories at home!

Put the Tonie on top …

sit back and enjoy listening.

Heard enough? Just take your Tonie off.

Toniebox and Tonies available at tonies.com/shop and Amazon

Ready for more? Simply put it back on.


Blue’s Clues and You!

Brand Profile

Something

for everyone

This month’s cover star Flair Just Play is launching its master toy range for ViacomCBS’ hugely popular preschool show, Blue’s Clues and You! Toy World spoke to Nicola Bergot, Flair’s commercial director, and Charlotte Rodgers, marketing manager for the Just Play brand, about why the property is a such a good fit, and what retailers can expect from the launch range.

Nicola Bergot

Charlotte Rodgers

Just Play was announced as Global Master Toy partner for Blue’s Clues in 2020; what does the property offer from a product development perspective?

Charlotte: The show and all the accompanying content, whether on its hugely successful global YouTube channel or on the Blue’s Clues & You! Bedtime stories podcast, is all about pre-school readiness, giving children a voice with an overriding theme of friendship. Blue is a pre-school-aged puppy herself, so preschoolers find the show hugely relatable, and they can all learn together with the help of the presenter, Josh. The toy range is very closely linked to all the concepts seen in the show and reflects the interactive nature of it too. For example, the toy line offers kids their very own Handy Dandy Notebook, while the role-play segment allows them to follow the paw print clues to find out what Blue wants to do. The role-play collection also supports

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the development of storytelling skills, while the collectible figures and play sets are great for fostering imaginative play.

What makes Just Play a good fit for Blue’s Clues?

Nicola: Just Play has an enviable history of creating fantastic products. From plush to play sets and role-play, Just Play demonstrates an eye for detail in creating show-to-shelf products that enable children to emulate their heroes, play like their most beloved TV characters do, and replicate the stories they see on their favourite TV programmes. The company has an excellent reputation for developing licensed toys that capture kids’ imaginations, having brought recent hits to market such as PJ Masks, Spirit, Doc McStuffins and Ryan’s World. The show-to-shelf concept is important to children, and Just Play’s new range perfectly interprets Blue’s Clues & You! in a way fans will love.

What will the launch range comprise? And when will it hit shelves?

Charlotte: The launch range comprises high quality plush, a selection of feature plush and, of course, plenty of figures, play sets, and all the most recognisable role-play items from the show. The range launched in the US in the final quarter of 2020 and has already achieved No. 1 new licence globally for 2020. We can see what consumers are reacting most positively to over in the US, and we are using consumer feedback and sales data to ensure that our UK range features all of the most popular lines, plus a few different items which we know are perfect for UK consumers. Peek-A-Blue and Peek-A-Boo Magenta are stand out items in the US, and we believe they will be equally strong here


Charlotte: We will be introducing Dance Along Blue, who dances either faster or slower depending on the tempo at which the child plays their guitar; Blue also moves her feet and ears and wiggles her bottom to the Blue’s Clues music, which kids are sure to find funny. The Blue House Playset is the perfect place for kids to play with all their Blue’s Clues & You! collectible figures. This set features a number of built-in clues and surprises that really tap into the concepts and themes kids see in the show.

Charlotte: The range will be supported by a strong 360-degree marketing campaign. We have developed a number of creatives that cover a wide variety of items from the toy line and have been made with parents in mind, as well as children. We will also be ensuring that parents, gifters and fans of the show are seeing our ranges not only on their TV screens but also on their favourite VOD platforms, across YouTube, and in their social media feeds. We’ll also have some high profile faces showing off our favourite items. Finally, to ensure that online shoppers convert to purchase, we will be investing in the bottom part of the funnel too. We will also be partnering with Nickelodeon to bring this new brand to life with on-air, online, print and in-store activity planned.

How else do these toys reflect the core themes from the show?

How will Flair be supporting its retail partners this year?

in the UK. We will support these toys with kid- and parent-targeted creatives, as well as media activity.

What new products can we expect to see later on this year?

Charlotte: Children can enjoy finding and tracking clues with their very own Handy Dandy Notebooks or even playing Josh’s guitar just like he does in the show. The Mailbox lets children post their own letters and clues, and then retrieve them. It also plays recognisable sounds and phrases from the show to add to the fun.

We have many exciting new ranges coming through from our GP Flair portfolio too. Godzilla Vs Kong Action Figures will support this year’s new movie, and we’ll be launching some strong arts & crafts lines too. IDO3D is being relaunched alongside the ideal line for the younger crafter, Jewel Secrets, and new additions to our Sneak Artz range. We will continue to support our range of classic retro best-sellers, Plasticine, Spirograph, Mr Frosty and Stickle Bricks, and we are introducing Sevi, an educational range of wooden toys. We are also excited to be bolstering our portfolio with the luxurious plush range from Trudi. We have certainly done a lot of learning over the past year, and we have become more nimble and adaptable in the process. We will be taking this learning into post-lockdown life to maximise opportunities and ensure that they deliver the biggest impact for us and for all our retail partners going forwards. We would also like to say thank you to all our suppliers, agencies and retail customers for supporting us and being so flexible since life changed a year ago. We are confident that great toys will always prevail; we have some great new launches and plans for autumn/winter and beyond.

Nicola: In addition to Blue’s Clues & You!, we have some great new Just Play ranges and standout items in our autumn/winter line, from our new range of Disney Doorables to a new master toy line for Disney Mickey & Minnie, which will be hitting shelves in the second half of this year. In addition, we have a strong range of evergreen items - Disney Princess, Doc McStuffins, Barbie, and Slinky – as well as a new role-play range of Love, Diana products that is just about to launch.

What marketing support will the Blue’s Clues range benefit from?

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2+

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5 mins

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Inventive Playthings for Inquisitive Minds

- GAM NE

Web: amaroni.com SCAN ME!

Tel: 01205 260 384

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3D CO N


Company Profile

Geomag

Geomag making a difference Nikki Jeffery, international media relations manager at Geomagworld, tells Toy World how the company is furthering its position as a leading toy manufacturer when it comes to sustainability.

Coming into 2021, how is Geomagworld building on its current eco-friendly credentials? This year sees the introduction of 20 new items across Geomagworld’s Magicube, Geomag and Mechanics platforms, each one made using recycled plastic. Our environmentally sustainability mission began quite a few years ago. We started by converting to the use of 100% renewable energy and drastically reducing the industrial waste from our production processes. To reduce already polluted waters, we also installed a recovery plant in the waters of a large Italian marina which collects plastics and micro-plastics. In 2020, when we first presented our revolutionary new green range, we made a commitment that, moving forwards, all new products introduced would only ever be manufactured using recycled plastic. We are delighted to be able to stand by this vision as we move proceed into this new year.

Do you feel that ‘green’ toys are of increasing importance to consumers? Absolutely. Consumers are looking for toys that are great for their kids as well as kind to the environment. We are all very aware that our planet is at a critical juncture; making even small changes and better purchasing decisions in all aspects of our life will help avert the environmental crisis we are facing. We are just one company in a very big

world filled with multiple industries, but we are committed to doing our bit to help. Geomagworld is incredibly proud to have developed a truly holistic eco-friendly range. There have always been consumers who specifically seek out toys that offer longevity and have strong social and environmental standards. You wouldn’t think plastic toys could tick all these boxes, but we are proud to be able to offer a solution for consumers that does. The Geomag portfolio comprises great toys that are fun, offer longevity, and critically also give consumers a guilt-free purchase option.

Why does Geomag opt for recycled plastics in the main, rather than something like bioplastics? Considering that a great deal of discarded plastic ultimately ends up in our oceans, it is from the ocean that we decided to begin our journey. It’s fantastic to see other manufacturers addressing their sustainability and trying to improve their environmental footprint just like us. Everything will help - as a combined force we can make long term changes for our planet. Utilising more eco-friendly manufacturing processes, more ecofriendly raw materials and reducing packaging will help address the issues the planet faces, but for Geomagworld, it’s of paramount importance that we do all we can to reduce the physical plastic waste found in our oceans. We are convinced that the road to follow is that of a circular economy, in which we select recycled raw materials. We prefer to exploit the materials that already exist, and are currently widely available, by giving them a second life.

How can retailers best highlight the sustainability benefits of Geomag instore and online?

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We’ve created a comprehensive toolkit for retailers containing everything they need to highlight the eco-friendly qualities of the various Geomagworld ranges. New 2021 items will be clearly identifiable as made from recycled plastic; we have added much clearer on-pack messaging highlighting the recycled elements of each set. On the new call-out panel, consumers can also see a picture of the handy new recycled-plastic storage box included with Geomag and Mechanics lines. Additionally, all ranges within the portfolio - Magicube, Geomag and Mechanics – benefit from a wealth of supporting material that can be provided for use in-store or online. This includes lifestyle images, editorial and tutorial videos, TVC videos, press releases, social media content, demo areas and demo stock, as well as a plethora of POS solutions suitable for any store size or position. There’s something for every retailer, big or small, and if we don’t have it at the moment, just ask and we can look into it.

Looking ahead to future years, how might the Geomag product range become even more environmentally friendly than it is now? The future will see the continued roll out and use of recycled plastics within our manufacturing process. We have already committed to only ever manufacturing new items using recycled plastic, so we are confident that within the next 12-18 months our entire range will be made of 100% recycled plastic. Geomagworld is aware that today more than ever, innovation must go hand-in-hand with two fundamental priorities: minimising impact on the natural world, and maximising social benefits as much as possible. We are continuously improving our products and our production processes, in the firm belief that great results are obtained with concrete actions.


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Company Profile

OOOOO

Things that make you go

OOOOO

The way consumers find, appraise and purchase product is changing rapidly, as highlighted by the arrival of the innovative new ‘entertainment commerce’ platform OOOOO. With Toys.tv one of OOOOO’s Top 3 channels, and the ThreeSixty Group – owner of FAO Schwarz - on board as a leading partner, this unique proposition seems certain to shake up how toys (and much more) are bought and sold. Toy World spoke to Sam Jones, OOOOO co-founder, Jan-Eric Kloth, president, Retail, International Wholesale & Corporate Strategy, ThreeSixty Group, and David Ripley, who has enjoyed a long and distinguished career in the retail toy channel, now category lead for Toys.tv, to find out what OOOOO offers, how it works and why toy companies should get involved.

T

Sam Jones

he OOOOO premise is deceptively simple. Named for the universally recognised noise people make when they receive something ordered in the post and open it to find that it is every bit as brilliant as they hoped it would be, the mobile app-based entertainment commerce platform lets users watch content and buy the products featured quickly and easily by tapping on an icon that adds it to their basket. If QVC and TikTok had a baby, it would probably look something like OOOOO. It is arguably unfair to use other apps to describe OOOOO, as it’s a far more multi-faceted affair than the elevator pitch above would have you believe. The Toy World Team has been exploring the app before this month’s hard launch (necessary research, you understand), and it’s certainly a slick, accessible and intuitive offering. As explained by co-founder Sam Jones, who has spent a long time living in Hong

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Kong and Singapore, the Chinese marketplace has been a major source of inspiration for his creation, which has been co-created with Eric Zhang. There, mobile phones are at the heart of consumerism, and the technology is significantly more advanced than that seen in the likes of the UK. Video technology in particular has come on leaps and bounds in the previous few years; TikTok, Douyin in China, revolves around short pre-recorded and live user-generated broadcasts, and is wildly popular among Chinese consumers. As a result, there are many companies out there looking to harness the demand for content and bring it into the retail space. Some in the Far East are already doing so, such as Pindoudou, the largest agriculture-focused technology platform in China, and Kuaishou, the region’s second biggest short-form video platform, but both are geographically and/or categorically constrained. And that’s where OOOOO, with its 40+ channels (some still under construction), covering


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Company Profile

OOOOO

everything from toys and books to stand-up comedy and online lectures, comes in. “The OOOOO platform is first and foremost founded upon entertainment,” Sam tells us. “We’re showing viewers a toy being played with and demonstrated in very much the same way you would be when you visit a good experiential toy store, but embedded behind the content is the ability to buy that toy and have it sent straight to your house or office, without ever having to leave the app. Our team wants to be one of the first to take the entertainment commerce proposition into western markets, with toys positioned as one of the three biggest categories offered through OOOOO via Toys.tv.” As mentioned at the very start of this piece, ThreeSixty Group is on board as a leading partner. For those newer readers who may not know the group’s backstory, ThreeSixty Group is a privately-owned CPG company. Its portfolio includes the iconic FAO Schwarz, Sharper Image and exclusive licences for Discovery among others, and its brands and products are sold in over 70,000 retail locations in the US and across the world. For president Jan-Eric Kloth, who notes that over 50% of Chinese retail sales are now completed online, the partnership with OOOOO’s Toys.tv gives ThreeSixty Group and FAO Schwarz the first tangible opportunity to capitalise upon a new and growing type of commerce.

Jan-Eric Kloth “ThreeSixty Group has recently been creating content with its FAO Schwarz retail brand, utilising the New York store as a physical space for live broadcasts, product shows and shopping events, and using a variety of online and social media platforms to amplify our brand creations,” says Jan-Eric, when asked why a partnership with OOOOO appealed to him. “What OOOOO is doing is taking the concept of entertainment commerce to the next level by providing brands with a platform on which traffic already exists. I am convinced that entertainment commerce is a revolutionising channel for the retail sector. There’s no one else within Europe offering something like OOOOO, and the opportunity to make use of the platform, and to tap into that audience, without having to worry about the

technology side of things, was too good to pass up. We are planning to have a FAO Schwarz show on OOOOO within the app which will present the best toys and brands that the industry has to offer, just like we do in our physical flagship stores. I’ve already spoken to a number of our strategic brand partners, and there is a great deal of interest. From OOOOO’s perspective, the flagship FAO Schwarz New York store is a ready-made marketing platform suited to a vast range of toy brands, and as the desire to create content (as well as the know-how to actually do so) is already there, ThreeSixty is the perfect partner with which to take the concept forward. Jan-Eric adds: “When Sam approached me, he said: ‘You are doing in your physical stores and on your website exactly what I want to do with OOOOO – bring the best brands into the world of entertainment commerce.’ It was a great match. However, that’s me speaking with my retail hat on. With my toy hat on, I want to find out which brands within the portfolio, whether that’s Discovery, FAO or Sharper Image, do best in an entertainment commerce environment. OOOOO can provide incredibly valuable consumer data, stemming from Sam’s background at companies like Wish. When you combine all these factors, you can see why working with OOOOOO is an obvious choice for ThreeSixty Group.” Toy companies and brands looking to get in on the action themselves certainly have plenty of options to consider when it comes to content creation. Whereas traditional retail TV such as QVC would require product to be taken to a studio for filming and broadcast, OOOOO removes the shackles and turns almost anywhere into a set from which to create, flipping supply chain discussions on their heads. Want to film toys as they are coming off the production

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line within your factory? Not a problem. Fancy asking for real-time feedback from a pre-selected audience on whether your product lives up to expectations? Can do. One of the features of the app is ‘Hot or Not?’, which lets R&D teams collate comments and reactions to a toy (or shoe or bag) as it is being designed, drastically cutting down on the usual time it takes to get a product from concept to shelf. Toys.tv, like all OOOOO channels, offers four different types of content. Epic events (Sam uses Ed Sheeran flying a drone through Hyde Park as an example) will be complemented by in-store activations filmed using toy experts that will show off products in a way consumers have never seen before. This is where partnerships with the likes of FAO Schwarz will come into their own, with the retailer’s New York location playing host to incredible content creation that will elevate the brand to something altogether new and exciting. Then there’s the OOOOO Lab, billed as a James Bond/Q-esque set where toys will be put through their paces in quality tests intended to highlight to viewers the value for money and play potential a toy offers. Finally, toys will be passed to creators in the community to touch and play with and share their views on, in a style similar to YouTube unboxing videos, which we all know can attract huge views. “One of the biggest benefits of using OOOOO for a manufacturer is speed,” Sam adds. “You could launch a toy, and within one or two days it could be featured on our platform, be filmed in Central Park in New York, and be in the hands of professional influencers and content creators on an app that not only helps it be seen by many, but purchased by many too. We’ve just hired a professional videographer that used to work in Boswells’ toy department in Oxford; he’s also a Dungeon Master and knows everything there is


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Company Profile to know about Star Wars. I chose him because if he can’t bring a toy to life, no one can. Our content execution has to be creative, but there are toys that might be better off placed in-store. For these, we can do OOOOO pop-up events that consumers can attend in person, as well as split screen content featuring two or three or four creators, all of whom have the product with them and can give it a new dimension. There will always be products that need to be touched and played with, but I believe 90% of toys are demonstrable on OOOOO in a way that consumers will love.” Due to the size of the toy category, and its target demographic, OOOOO will be launching a standalone Toys.tv app later this year, on which 100% of the content will be related to toys and games. Demarcating OOOOO and the Toys.tv app recognises that while parents will tend to lean towards the former, given that a number of its channels focus on products and contents geared towards an older audience, Toys.tv will primarily attract kids. It also means a deeper, more focused experience for the audience, with even more safeguards in place than the parent platform has, ensuring kids are seeing only appropriate content. And when you consider that seven or eight of the top 15 US YouTube influencers are kids below the age of 10, Toys is clearly the most natural choice of OOOOO’s top three categories to take in this direction. We were keen to dig a little deeper into the content creation side of OOOOO; how can toy companies be reassured that the content being produced is a) high quality b) kid-friendly and c) being seen by the right people? Sam is quick to point out that, as outlined earlier, OOOOO isn’t a 100% user-generated platform, unlike some others. Creators are pre-selected based upon their existing portfolio of work; content must be insightful, watchable and ‘clean’ first and foremost. On Toys.tv, for example, OOOOO has already selected a former Hamleys demonstrator, Stefan, to be part of its creator team. Brands are also welcome to create content themselves, which FAO and Marvin’s Magic are already doing, if they feel that their experts and creators are better placed to do so. After all, credible voices will only serve to enhance the platform’s reputation for content and trustworthiness. “We all have to get used to the fact that there is going to be a lot more user-generated content emerging from all marketplaces,” comments Jan-Eric. “This is going to be a learning curve for many companies that till now have engaged in more traditional marketing, understandably, but one of the many brilliant things about OOOOO is that it allows you to transition into the space, learn with it, experiment with it. This was another of the big motivations for me when it came to the partnership.” For toy suppliers and manufacturers, OOOOO offers a more cost-effective way to bring products to market and sell them compared to platforms such as Instagram or Facebook, which charge for advertising and push consumers out to external sites. OOOOO users are rewarded for bringing their friends to the platform – more users mean more sales – and savings on advertising are passed back in the form of gifts or discounts. It also allows anyone with a mobile phone to become a content creator, and with consumers demanding increasingly more raw, believable,

OOOOO

viral ‘advertising’ in the form of video and product demos, this lets companies tick a lot of boxes for what may well be a significant saving.

David Ripley David Ripley, whom many readers will know from his long career in the toy retail channel, most recently at Groupon, has been appointed category lead for Toys.tv – and he’s keen to reiterate Sam’s point regarding cost effectiveness. In his former role, David used Facebook Wizard, a commercial advertising tool that cost Groupon $1 for every $1 spent by a customer. The model meant that while customers could be monetised in the future, cost parity at the point of advertising made using the social media platform expensive yet inefficient. OOOOO, it seems, is a decidedly different affair. “I’ve worked in pretty much every retail channel, from grocery, high street, out of town and eCommerce marketplaces, to, more recently, pureplay eCommerce with Groupon,” says

Toy World 126

David. “The latter gave me a very good idea of where retail is going; eCommerce is a growing segment as we all know, but behind that there is a forgotten stat – these sales are mobile-biased. At Groupon, I saw purchases made on phones and tablets increase from 45% five years ago to 75% late last year. OOOOO is truly a mobile-first and mobile-only platform. If you look at our website, it’s purely a corporate overview. You must have the app downloaded to actually see how it works; open a show and watch it, and immediately you’ll realise just how much OOOOO offers. The audience can ask questions about a product in real time, and the creator can see that question and answer it immediately. You can add the toy to your basket and head straight to checkout. You can watch a tutorial on how it works to ensure you and your kids are going to get maximum enjoyment from that toy. And you’ve also got an advocate there on your screen, demonstrating the product. I know a lot of bricks & mortar retailers are looking for that holy grail that will allow them to branch out from physical selling in a way that still lets them provide the one-to-one experience and service they’re known for. OOOOO offers the very best in next-level dynamic marketing, and I feel very strongly that it is going to revolutionise the retail space.” At the time of speaking to David, he’d been with the OOOOO team for four weeks, and during that time, he tells us, the technology powering the platform has already come on leaps and bounds. He’s clearly very excited to be a part of the OOOOO journey. There’s a pipeline of features now in development to make it even more interactive and engaging than it already is (with new features being added on a weekly basis), and ambitious global growth plans are also in place. Readers wanting to find out more should contact David on david@ooooo.com, or download the app from the App Store or Google Play.


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Keeping in touch Toy World caught up with leading suppliers to find out how they have found preview season this year. We asked their thoughts on when they might return to physical shows and found out how they are helping retailers prepare for the big reopening.

Kate Scott

Samantha Goodburn

Marketing & business development manager, HoloToyz

Marketing & PR manager, Gibsons Games We certainly all missed London Olympia and the NEC this year and can’t wait for both events to return in 2022. However, despite being stuck at home we had a very successful show season. We held our first ever Virtual Trade Show in the first week of February. Customers signed up for 1-2-1 video calls with our team, enjoyed a live Q&A panel with our directors, and viewed a raft of newly created product videos we’ve developed to showcase our new releases. Our virtual show was a great way to connect with our customers after so long, and to discuss listings for later in the year. We plan to attend the AIS Independent Toy and Gift Show in September and hope that it will kickstart the physical shows after so long. We really miss meeting our customers and partners face-to-face, and can’t wait to get back. We have a special offer on all our games and children’s puzzles this month, ready for the big reopening. With families looking to spend more time off their screens, and to enjoy more traditional pastimes, we hope that this offer will encourage consumers to shop with and support their local retailers when they open their doors again.

Obviously, we would have loved to have attended the fairs this year, but we took part in the Spielwarenmesse Brand New Live Presentation on Instagram which was a hugely positive experience for us. We were very excited to showcase our new range of temporary tattoos, stickers, books and wall decals that come to life via augmented reality. We have been kept busy with Zoom calls and new orders ever since, and it has given us an opportunity to meet with people we would most likely never have come across at the shows, so it’s not all bad! As soon as we are allowed to leave Ireland and the shows are open, we’ll be back. Spielwarenmesse 2020 was brilliant for us, and we have some big news coming with licences, so we will have some exciting products to share at the next shows we attend. We’re looking forward to meeting and presenting to people in 3D again without having to worry about muting or freezing. As we are a new brand, our main focus in the months ahead will be on marketing. Influencer marketing is still a priority for us; we will be building our network of influencer collaborations to build awareness, excitement and knowledge about our range.

Ben Hogg

Clive Wooster

Marketing manager, Vivid Goliath Group

MD, Geomagworld

I joined Vivid at the end of the autumn/ winter preview season. It was great to see the variety of ways in which the company presented product to buyers during this unusual period, ranging from an assortment of strong sizzles through to engaging live demonstrations from our showroom, which has resulted in the best presentations we could have possibly offered, and a wealth of information conveyed to retailers. We all miss sitting around the table, showing samples you can touch and feel, and I can’t wait for this to return we move into spring/summer 2022 planning. We are big believers that the best possible way to show product is at a trade show and we’re look forward to attending as soon as these open back up - hopefully later on this year. We have a variety of marketing campaigns planned to start over the Easter period, and across the reopening of shops, to help drive consumers back into their local toy stores. We will be TV advertising games for the first time over Easter and running digital and social media for key brands such as Ryan’s World, to support the World Tour range. Digital and social will also be used to announce the latest ranges across Collectibles and Fashion Dolls for Love, Diana. We are also anticipating the arrival of longer and warmer days this month; April is a key period for our Outdoor ranges. These will be supported by TV across Phlat Ball, Wubble and Ryzr as well as our new launches, Hydro Clash and Wubble Rumblers.

We undertook virtual presentations from midJanuary this year with pretty much all our major customers. These seemed to be well received and we certainly enjoyed doing them - it was great to interact with buyers again, even if they were sitting in their kitchen (or attic). We limited our presentation time following feedback, and Nikki and I did a double act to communicate all the exciting developments and news for 2021 across our Magicube, Geomag and Mechanics product ranges. This included the fact that two-thirds of our current line is now made using recycled plastics, our new coordinated packaging, some of which incorporates try-me features, and our completely top-to-bottom redesigned Mechanics line for autumn/winter 2021. We’d love to get back out to physical shows, but we all need to put the safety of our customers and our teams first. I’m not sure early summer is going to meet that criteria, but hopefully things will progress to the point where we can attend shows safely. I’d like to think the Toymaster and AIS shows could be the first ones; we missed talking directly to our independent customers in 2020 and really need to put that right. During the most recent lockdown, we continued our drop ship programme, which a fair few indies took advantage of. We also have various promotional programmes in place ready for re-opening to make sure shelves are full. Stock availability is a key point – as our manufacturing is undertaken in Switzerland, we’ve had a relatively easy time keeping our stock at good levels in the UK warehouse. If retailers order it, we’ve probably got it.

Toy World 128


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Kelly Philp

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Director of marketing, Mattel UK

Not surprisingly, we felt a degree of apprehension heading into the traditional toy fair season without either London or Nuremberg taking place. Both are key events for us, and traditionally set the tone for the year ahead. Nonetheless, we have endeavoured to mitigate the absence of physical toy fairs in several ways, not least of all the Virtual Preview that was run by our HO team in Germany. This proved to be an excellent way of engaging both our own team and retailers alike, and the innovative use of green screen technology certainly made the product presentations hugely impactful. In addition, our sales team has been very busy making use of Teams and Zoom technology, taking customers through our 2021 new release programme and marketing plans. These have proved to be very successful means of communication. So yes, it’s been very strange; we’ve all missed the social side of Toy Fair and meeting up with our retail partners and colleagues. That said, there have certainly been some great learning opportunities too, and there are elements of the virtual content that we will make use of again in the future. Overall, we are delighted with the level of retailer support and ranging, and we are confident of another recordbreaking year for Schleich in the UK & Ireland. We are encouraged to see the revised dates for the AIS Show, although we’re obviously disappointed to hear of the cancellation of the Toymaster Show - both are very important events for us. Our marketing programme also includes some key consumer events, such as the Royal Dublin Horse Show, so we hope that the second half of the year will see these remain on the calendar. We have been working closely with our retail partners to ensure that they are as well informed as possible on all our new products, promotions and marketing activity, and that they are adequately stocked up to cope with what we all hope will be a significant level of pent-up consumer demand. In addition, we’re ramping up our marketing efforts to raise consumer awareness of some of our great new products, including a raft of TV and digital activity to help drive even more demand for Schleich ranges in advance of the big reopening.

Mary Wood

Simon Tomlinson Head of Marketing EMEA, Learning Resources It’s been a bit strange being at home during January and February, with no London, Nuremberg or New York shows to go to. We really value show season; it’s such an important time to meet our customers, meet new people, discuss the industry and showcase our products. This year, though, we were well prepared for the cancellation of shows and had several measures in place. Firstly, we invested significantly in product videos and presentation software to showcase our products digitally. We also ran several International New Product Webinars earlier in the year which were very well attended by customers across the globe. We also supported the online event solutions presented by Spielwarenmesse 2021 to showcase our brands. Moreover, we’ve invested in our website and have really embraced digital meeting tools. This has resulted in some very positive dialogue with our customers whilst we wait for the opportunity to meet once again face-to-face. We will return to physical shows when it is safe to do so and we can see a value in attending, but I genuinely cannot see this happening until well into the second half of this year. We have had an ongoing dialogue with our partners throughout lockdown and very much look forward to seeing bricks & mortar stores open their doors. We’ve seen that many of our partners have vastly improved and upweighted their digital and social offerings due to the lockdown, which means that now more than ever we’re able to work with them on cross platform promotional ideas and messaging, as well as in-store activation and promotions. This has allowed us to plan social competitions that will drive footfall into stores, for example. We’re looking forward to working with our partners in the coming months to really get these kinds of initiatives off the ground.

It’s certainly been a challenging time; you miss seeing buyers in person and having those face-to-face interactions. Virtual meetings don’t enable buyers to interact with toys, and days and even weeks of virtual presentations proved to be a lot of effort for both them and us. We tried to make our presentations as smooth and as efficient as possible, and used different ways to support buyers, making sure they get all the relevant information they need on our product ranges and marketing plans. It’s difficult to give any specific date for returning to physical shows. We will have to wait and see how lockdown easing goes and what make sense, along with the government guidelines. Our No. 1 priority will always be the health and wellbeing of our employees as well as our retailers. But, of course, we hope that our return will be sooner rather than later. Our marketing investment is always on, but we are investing in driving footfall to bricks & mortar stores to support the reopening via a range of activities. We know how important it is to encourage consumer back to high streets and retail parks, and we’re working on some unique and innovative ways to do so using the latest digital technology. This will ensure physical stores as well as the digital purchasing opportunities get our support. We always want to showcase the breadth and depth of our ranges to consumers and support that magical experience of a child picking a toy in store.

General manager UK & Ireland, Tomy We’ve been delighted with the feedback from the retailers that were able to join us for Tomy’s virtual toy fair, which we ran across the week London Toy Fair would usually take place. We were hearing that retailers were getting a bit fed up with ‘death by Powerpoint’, instead wanting to see product samples even if they were not able to touch and see them in the flesh. Taking care to keep the number of people in the office to a minimum, and making sure that all possible precautions were taken to keep everyone safe, people from either our sales or marketing teams presented live to show attendees. I think we’ve all been missing that face-to-face interaction and seeing actual product, so these sessions worked very effectively. They also ensured that all those presenting worked on being succinct and making the time work for the retailers who attended. We also recorded these sessions for our UK field sales agents and EU distributor team to use, which seems to have worked well. The net result is that we seem to have had earlier decisions on selections, which has put us some weeks ahead of where we would traditionally be at this time of year. This means we are better planned and organised than ever. It’s very hard to answer any questions on physical shows right now. Personally, I am really struggling to see how, until a very large number of people have been vaccinated in the UK, it can be practical and/or safe to attend physical shows. Then, even if most people are vaccinated in the UK, could an event such a Nuremberg Toy Fair even take place when people from literally all over the world are gathering? If other countries’ vaccination programmes are not as advanced as ours, then an event such as this is hard to envisage. The other side of the show situation is that we were able to save a significant amount of money, time and resources by not attending some events. We’re now asking ourselves how best to proceed in 2022. We want to support the UK toy trade, and always will - it’s just a question of how best we can do that. I am sure our thoughts will evolve over the coming months. I think the No. 1 priority for the reopening of non-essential retail is to ensure once our customers can open, we have the stock to support them. Logistics has been one of the biggest challenges for our (and I am sure everyone’s businesses) so far this year. Between the lack of containers, rocketing container costs, surcharges on deliveries and Brexit it’s not been easy, but we have worked hard to mitigate the negative impacts of these issue we so we can support retailers in the best way possible as they open their doors.

Toy World 130


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Global licensing & brand director, HTI Toys We’ve found this preview season to be challenging due to the restrictions on face-to-face meetings. However, our customers have been extremely supportive whilst we have been working online. Our virtual showroom tours allowed our product team to work closely with HTI’s account managers on new product presentations, creating a winning team with a great depth of knowledge. HTI has made considerable investment into its ranges; as a team we’re confident that our product offering is as strong as it has ever been, and we have received some incredible feedback from customers reflecting this belief. We are therefore really looking forward to the launch of our new items online and in stores this autumn. Guidelines have been changing frequently over the last few months but, taking into consideration the vaccination programme and government planning, we are hoping that this will allow our team to attend physical shows later this year. Ultimately, we will be returning to shows in line with other companies from within the toy industry. The latest we have heard about is Distoy, which will now take place in autumn. We’re looking forward to meeting our customers again in person and have a very positive outlook for the remainder of this year and beyond. We do feel that the platform for shows may change over the next few years, with more companies now making use of virtual environments. We are working with our retail partners on an individual basis to give support for the highly anticipated re-opening of non-essential stores. Our sales team has had several discussions with buyers to ensure stores will be fully stocked and ready to meet demand. We understand that children may not have been able to visit a physical shop with their parents for a few months, meaning the first visit to a store will be an exciting one, whether it be a grocer, toy specialist, discounter or independent. We have worked hard with merchandisers to ensure the products on the shelves are engaging and stand out at a time when this is more important than ever. To help build momentum, we plan to work with parent influencers, gifting our key lines for this Easter for them to review. We will also showcase new items on our social media channels, tagging retailers in posts with the aim of driving sales in-store. In addition to this, the marketing team has produced new digital assets including imagery and demo videos of our new items, which will be provided to retailers and promoted via our social channels.

Jordan Sullivan Director of Fun, Waboba Preview season this year has obviously been very different, but it’s simply forced us to pivot and adapt to the situation. Knowing that we wouldn’t be seeing our customers in person, we set up a virtual showroom and scheduled video meetings to showcase our products. We also created a new product sales kit to send customers, allowing Waboba to still show off its new items and make a strong impression. But we miss seeing everyone and being able to play with the new toys together in person. Hopefully we’ll return to shows at the beginning of next year, once the pandemic is under control and vaccine distribution is widespread. We want to make sure it’s safe not just for us, but everyone else too. Unfortunately, we do not foresee Waboba attending any physical shows this year. We know the retail reopening dates are not yet set in stone, but we have worked closely with our UK distribution partner, TKC Sales, to ensure that we’re ready to support our retail accounts as (and when) they reopen with plenty of stock of our best sellers and newest products. We’re fortunate in that we offer a great range of outdoor recreational toys, which are still in high demand because outside is the safest place to play. We’ve expanded our product range considerably over the last 12 months, with the introduction of new beach toys like volleyballs and footballs, backyard toys, an ecofriendly series called Rewild, plus the Wingman Pro and Airlyft flying toys. Our retail partners have a lot of fresh, innovative and fun Waboba products to choose from, ready for a busy spring and summer staycation season.

International brand manager, Edx Education The preview show season so far has been dynamic despite being grounded. It’s allowed us to get around the world without getting on a plane and opened up lots of new opportunities to build partnerships and communicate with more suppliers and consumers. The past 12 months have sped up digital developments within the industry and made the world an increasingly connected and accessible place, which has been great for brands like us. We anticipate the return to physical shows won’t fully get underway until 2022. This year is likely to be a balance between physical and digital shows. Yes, the world is getting phygital. The nature of physical shows has changed dramatically and there will be aspects of this new normal which are likely to stay. We now have amazing digital tools that allow us to talk to suppliers and consumers, and these are well worth embracing as we move forward. Until physical shows are back in full swing, we are enjoying building a digital base, developing products, and working with our fantastic international Edx Education teams and suppliers. We have been in contact with many retailers ahead of reopening to acquaint them with all the new educational toy ranges Edx Education is introducing to the market. Based on the positive reception so far, we are looking forward to a successful 2021. Building on the back of the digital learning boom, Edx Education has also been developing more online tools and resources that extend and complement our ranges, further fostering children’s creativity and learning ability the way they learn best through play. These digital enhancements will greatly benefit our retail partners, all of whom are now able to offer their customers added value. Readers wanting to stay in touch with Edx Education can sign up to our monthly newsletter for the latest articles, videos, product info and much more.

Debra Tiffany Marketing manager, Brainstorm It has been a busy few months. We invested in upgrading our showroom so that we could host meaningful video meetings, and at the time of writing I’m pleased to say we have seen just about all our key UK and ROI accounts. We’ve also held many meetings with export retailers and distributors. We are very lucky to work with a great team of sales agents which has been presenting to the independent trade, sometimes with our support from the showroom. We realise that many customers enjoy the freedom to self-select their ranges, so we have invested more in our website too. We created video demos for most key lines which remain in situ at www.brainstormltd.co.uk, which let customers see our products in action at any time. Knowing we wouldn’t be able to present to the many media contacts who come to the shows, we also offered a virtual toy fair for press which was very well attended. Despite the above, it just hasn’t been the same as meeting up in person; we have really missed that. We are scheduled to attend the Harrogate Home & Gift Fair in July and of course we will support the Play-room show with its revised dates. We have our fingers crossed that these events can go ahead; the team here is definitely ready to meet with customers and our wider circle of trade friends face-to-face. We have stock, including new items, POS and our marketing machine at the ready. The reopening of retail very handily coincides with a scheduled push on Aqua Dragons, StikBot and KlikBot, the campaigns for which have TV advertising at their heart. All will feature on the small screen for 16-days throughout the Easter period in the UK and ROI.

Toy World 132


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Managing director, Orchard Toys

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The past few months of previews have certainly been different, I think we would all agree. While we missed having the face-to-face contact with our customers that we so enjoy, our Virtual Toy Fair was a great way to catch up with retailers online. At times it has been challenging trying to show off all the wonderful attributes of our products over a video call, but we’ve been getting creative and making it work. We’ll be returning to physical shows in the autumn now, starting with the AIS Show in September. The whole team is already really looking forward to being able to meet with our customers in person once again. After that, we can then get geared up for January/February 2022, when global travel will hopefully be permitted. Now there is light at the end of the tunnel, we can sense a little more excitement for the year ahead from our retailers. We extended our Virtual Toy Fair, which allowed us to continue discussions with our customers about how best to support them when they reopen. The extension meant more retailers were given the chance to learn about our new lines, to place an order, and to take advantage of our exclusive show offer, which was extended on all qualifying orders for the month of March. As a result, our retailers have plenty of fresh stock ahead of reopening in the coming weeks.

It’s been over a year now since we’ve been to any physical trade shows. Of course, many organisers have transitioned to digital fairs which we’ve been delighted to take part in, as we’ve launched some really exciting new products this year. We have also released two trade catalogues (in three languages), showcasing these new products and best-selling collections - the spring catalogue is still available to download on our trade website. The demand for these has been really positive in lieu of the usual show season. None of this compares to meeting our customers in person, though. There’s still a lot of uncertainty regarding the roadmap out of lockdown, especially regarding travel to Europe. We’re expecting (and hoping) our first show will be Spielwarenmesse in July. We’ve been attending for many years now, and we’re really looking forward to visiting Nuremberg in the summer, all being well. Following feedback during the early part of the pandemic, we have started a Stockist Spotlight feature on our social channels and email newsletters, to showcase our amazing retail partners across the world. The response to this has been great, so we will continue to work with our trade partners on these. In terms of preparing for the big reopening, we’ve made sure to keep as well stocked as we can, including investing in many new products so our customers have plenty to choose from, whether their business is a small independent shop, gallery or museum, or department store.

Rebecca Deeming The BTHA’s Rebecca Deeming brings Toy World readers up to date on the current news from the association.

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e have been busy for the first few months of this year continuing to provide support for members on Brexit and Covid-19 matters. The BTHA has represented members in discussions with government throughout the Covid-19 crisis, calling for help for the industry, and regularly updates the Covid page on the BTHA website with government help and support. This includes access to lateral flow tests, information on the furlough scheme, available grants etc. On Brexit, we have an updated version of the BTHA’s Brexit Product Issues guide available for members to download from the website, as well as an updated Toys and Brexit guide on customs. Formerly the Age Appropriate Design Code, the six-month countdown has now begun until the end of the transition period of the ICO’s Children’s Code. The code will apply to all major online services used by children in the UK, including apps and websites, and includes measures such as providing default settings which ensure that children have the best possible access to online services, while minimising data collection and use. We are working closely with the ICO to ensure BTHA members are prepared and complying with the code when the transition period ends in September. The ICO will be providing monthly blogs on the BTHA website for members, providing them with all the information they need to know. We are currently preparing to feed into two consultations and require feedback from BTHA members in order to contribute on members’ behalf. The first consultation is on the Product Safety Review, which examines the UK safety regime. It has the potential to have a huge impact in the industry as it sets the future framework of the UK safety regime. First activity is a call for

evidence, with a consultation likely to follow, depending on the evidence later in the year. It is made up of a number of chapters and will require substantial resource and input; the review includes AI, connected products, labelling, EU alignment, product specific issues, potentially mandatory 3rd party testing, online marketplaces and online sales. The second consultation is on the UK exhaustion regime, regarding the reciprocal arrangements that existed before Brexit which have not continued after our departure from the EU. To help us feed into the consultation, we want to know from members how they have been affected by the changing nature of exhaustion rights and any consequences this may have on business going forwards in terms of licences. If any members have any feedback on either of the consultations mentioned, please contact Rebecca@btha.co.uk. Last month, Andrew Laughton stepped down as chairman of the BTHA. We’d like to thank Andrew for all the time he’s dedicated to the BTHA over the years as chairman and also as a dedicated member of our council. We wish Andrew all the best and welcome Graham Canning who has now taken over in the position. In June this year, Andrew is taking on a special challenge in aid of the Toy Trust and Fence Club. He will be walking from the MGA/Zapf offices in Milton Keynes to the BTHA offices in London and hopes to cover the 110km route in four days. If anyone would be like to sponsor Andrew and donate to these two great charities, there is a fundraiser page on Virgin Money Giving. And finally, with toy retailers hopefully set to open this month, the BTHA would like to wish you all the best and hope this marks the start of a positive rest of the year for you all.

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Feature

Pocket Money & Collectibles

Pocket power While some categories saw sales surge in 2020 due to lockdowns, others, such as Pocket Money Toys and Collectibles, slowed down. However, a few factors mean a turnaround is on the cards for 2021. Rachael Simpson-Jones speaks to suppliers in this category to find out what the year has in store (and in-store).

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he closure of non-essential shops has impacted numerous consumer behaviours. In toys, one of the biggest casualties of this has been the Pocket Money and Collectibles category, which – up till March 2020 – was performing incredibly well. By March 2021, we were reading in last month’s issue that toys priced at less than £5 lost almost £30m in value terms in 2020, and were showing a volume decline of -22%, with 1.2m fewer units being sold. Ouch. Still, it certainly can’t be said that all brands within this category have fared poorly over the last 12 months. Surging interest in STEM toys during lockdown, largely due to homeschooling, resulted in a year-on-year increase in value and unit sales of Hexbug, Innovation First’s innovative robot collectibles. Retailers have also been reporting strong sales of Schleich throughout the year, irrespective of whether stores were shut, making it another brand that has very much bucked the trend. “This year we are launching three new collectible concepts, all at sub-£5 – bayala unicorn foals,

Eldrador Mini-Creatures and Schleich Puzzlemals,” says Paul Dearlove, trade marketing manager, Schleich UK. “All are based on popular Schleich properties, so there is already established consumer demand and retailer confidence; we aren’t relying on licensed properties or totally unproven concepts. The bayala unicorn foals, in foil bags, are based on the hugely popular bayala unicorns. Likewise, the 17 collectible Eldrador Mini-Creatures blind bags are based on the existing four worlds of Eldrador, and the mix-and-match Puzzlemals are part of the hugely popular Farm World and Wild Life ranges.” We’ve also been reporting on the phenomenal response to the Pokémon Shining Fates expansion in recent weeks. With demand from fans at fever pitch in what is the franchise’s 25th anniversary year, Asmodee says every wave brought in has been sold out before arrival – and this is with toy shops still closed. “The 25th anniversary year is attracting extra attention as people continue to discover and rediscover their love for the evergreen Pokémon brand, with some notable coverage of the Trading

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Card Game from popular YouTubers in recent months also contributing to demand,” explains Roger Martin, Hobby & Independent Channel director for Asmodee UK. “In Shining Fates specifically, many of the ‘.5’ releases - those that sit outside of the game’s usual blocks of four expansion sets per year - stem from expansion sets that had originally only been available for purchase in Japan. This drives excitement among consumers, as they have already seen an outline of the content and are hungry to get it in the UK for the first time. Shining Fates booster packs also give fans the chance to find a very exciting Charizard VMAX chase card, making it another very tempting proposition.” The early release of Shining Fates meant the Sword & Shield 5: Battle Styles expansion – which will feature the new Single Strike and Rapid Strike gameplay mechanic for the first time - was pushed back to mid-March, when expansions traditionally come out in the first week of February. This means that retailers benefitted from a second new Pokémon release just weeks before they can reopen their stores. The reopening of non-essential retail will surely



Feature

Pocket Money & Collectibles

be a turning point for pocket money toys and collectibles; we all know kids are keen to get back into stores and spend their saved-up money, and retailers are keen to tempt them in. Ultimately, while some pocket money and collectible ranges may have proved challenging for toy shops in recent months, these products will play a major role in kickstarting the physical toy shopping experience once more. “People are desperate for some sense of normality, and when stores open, the ‘treat’ of going to a toy shop can safely return,” says Julia Cake, UK & Ireland commercial director, Magic Box. “Parents will be looking to reward children for coping with home schooling and lockdown, and there will be saved up pennies from birthdays and Christmas to be spent. A trip to the local toy shop will feel extremely special after the year that was.” With many schoolchildren now back in the classroom, playground ‘swapability’ will also fuel kids’ appetites for collectible products. Social media, Twitter in particular, has been awash with the hashtag #GotGotNeed, as locked down collectors of Panini’s wildly popular Premier League, UEFA Euro 2020 and Scotland sticker collections desperately tried to make use of socially-distanced swaps to complete their collections; being able to do this during playtime and breaks will surely be infinitely easier. Several retailers have also mentioned how nice it would be to have a craze this year – could H. Grossman’s Pushpoppers be the answer? There are certainly those that think so, including regular Toy World contributor Rick Derr, Paul Reader, marketing director at Toymaster, and H. Grossman’s own CEO, David Mordecai. Interest in the tactile rubber toy has been so great that H. Grossman recently placed orders for half a million units that hit retail in mid-March. David says: “We have all sorts of styles; rainbow, glitter, tie dye and glow in the dark, with lots more items coming through the year. The reaction from retailers has been wild.” From crazes to mainstays, MGA Entertainment’s hit collectible brand L.O.L. Surprise! managed to retain its No. 1 toy property spot in 2020. The company says L.O.L.’s position is improving weekly, even before its major new launches, and that it expects the brand to grow exponentially over the coming months with its new tentpole launch Dance Dance Dance! Initial sales reads have beaten MGA’s expectations and look set to continue to grow week on week as marketing plans continue to ramp up. “We’re gearing up for what is set to be the most record-breaking year yet for L.O.L., with a series of range expansions on

existing lines and exciting new product innovation throughout 2021,” Neil Bandtock, MD UK & Ireland, MGA Entertainment, told Toy World. “March saw the launch of Dance Dance Dance! supported by partnerships with major music icons and Pineapple Dance Studios, taking Remix a step further by introducing official L.O.L. dance moves and dance themed characters.” “The rise of popular film and TV franchises within the toy market and the ever-growing popularity of online streaming platforms means children no longer want just a toy, they want to buy in to an all-encompassing entertainment brand where they can play with the toys, wear the clothes, listen to the music and watch them on their screens,” adds Neil, when asked why music is at the heart of the new L.O.L. series. “Music felt like the next logical step in creating an immersive experience for L.O.L. fans, bringing our characters to life whilst creating an opportunity for 360-degree marketing to engage consumers across toy, licensing and now music. The growth of channels like TikTok and Instagram Reels has also really driven an opportunity for savvy brands to engage directly with consumers through easily shareable short form content.” MGA’s partnership with Magic Star of Sony Music UK has also resulted in new music and lyric videos featuring animated L.O.L. characters dancing and singing to new songs developed in partnership with the label. As we’ve seen in other categories, animated content has become an increasingly important element of toy range development, with kids consuming ever more content online through platforms like YouTube. IMC Toys says its animated content strategy has been the main driver of its 2020 successes; its English Kitoons YouTube channel, which hosts the Cry Babies Magic Tears and VIP Pets series, among others, boasts 485k subscribers, all of which are potential buyers of these collectible toy ranges. Magic Box Toys also supports its popular SuperThings collectible brand with animated content. Julia Cake explains why. “We know that toys work well if there is a TV or movie licence behind them, so when it comes to nonlicensed collectibles it is just as important to give the toys a voice, give them substance and bring the brand to live in visual form,” she says. “Equally, the rate at which children consume online content is constantly on the rise; therefore, to build brand awareness and appeal, it’s vital to add animation to our strategy. SuperThings has had its own YouTube channel since launch, and we release new webisodes with each series to ensure our content is fresh

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and relevant. Each episode exceeds our expectations in terms of views and reach, so we know that our fans love watching their favourite SuperThings characters on screen.” The launch of Power Machines, Magic Box’s latest SuperThings series, will be supported by an extensive marketing and PR campaign, including a 1,600 TVR TV advertising programme, cinema advertising, strong social media presence and instore theatre and merchandising options to support retail partners. In addition, a YouTube advertising campaign launched in January with an expected 10m impressions, while commercial partnerships with leading children’s media titles will roll out throughout spring. Innovation First, meanwhile, which held back the full launch for its new JunkBots collectibles due to the pandemic, instead choosing to establish awareness and build demand via marketing campaigns, is now gearing up for a busy year. The JunkBots Alley range, which lets kids enjoy rummaging through junk-filled blind trash cans and dumpsters to find mix & match robot parts, as well as power cores that bring each JunkBot to life, will be joined this year by Season 2, JunkBots Factory. Andrew Ryan, marketing UK & Europe, Innovation First International, says: “We’re investing heavily in JunkBots and will be implementing robust marketing plans for the calendar year, which includes launching JunkBots Factory. This series expands on the first series by introducing newer, larger sets that go beyond what has been created for our first season range. It’s going to be a very exciting year for the brand.” Beloved collectibles brand Corgi is also introducing something new for this year – or should that be someone? Mumbles, the brand’s iconic canine mascot, has been brought to life as a brand ambassador for 2021 as part of Corgi’s efforts to broaden the appeal of its collectibles and pocket money toys amongst younger consumers. A spokesperson said: “Feedback from collectors has reminded Corgi that collecting is a deeply personal hobby that evokes nostalgia-soaked memories of childhood. We wanted to bring that magic to a younger audience. Whilst many of us experienced collectors use Corgi to look backwards, we hope to use Mumbles to show children a way forward. With Mumbles’ help, we’re entering a different market to the one Corgi is traditionally known for, in the hope that we can introduce all the best Corgi traits to a younger demographic.” In this comprehensive feature, Toy World brings you much more from the Pocket Money Toys and Collectibles category, all of which will tempt kids back into the nation’s toy shops in the coming weeks.



Special Feature

Zuru

Small world Toy World spoke to Will Collinson, UK general manager at Zuru, about the plans to expand the company’s hit collectible range 5 Surprise Mini Brands, and to find out exactly why small is so big this year.

5 Surprise Toy Mini Brands launched late 2020; how has the reception been in the marketplace? The initial sales and customer reaction to 5 Surprise Toy Mini Brands has been phenomenal. This is without doubt the ‘year of the mini’, and Toy Mini Brands comes hot on the heels of the hugely successful autumn/winter launch of our licensed food shopping brand collectible, Mini Brands. In a matter of weeks, Mini Brands shot into the top 30 ranking items in NPD, which, given the low ASP, is remarkable. We therefore expect Toy Mini Brands to follow suit. If brand growth in the USA is anything to go by – which is 18 months ahead of the UK in the 5 Surprise brand lifecycle - the best is yet to come. We’re obviously seeing mini-mania take over the kid demographic, but it’s also making huge strides in the 13+ TikTok-driven space too.

In the UK, shop closures have caused some challenges for the Collectibles category. Has this impacted Toy Mini Brands? Store closures have been especially challenging for the specialists and retailers deemed as ‘nonessential’. However, the toy industry is wonderfully resilient and it’s great to hear how affected retailers have taken these challenges in their stride and pivoted in relation to the changing shopping habits, with a focus on eCommerce capabilities when it comes to lower price points. Having said that, lockdown measures have undoubtedly played into the hands of certain channels. Grocers, which usually enjoy a substantial share of the collectibles market as it is, have clearly been able to capitalise on the additional shoppers browsing their aisles seeking 5 Surprise.

How does social media tie into a product like this, and how was it utilised for the launch? Mini Brands exploded into North America in 2019 and became an instant sell-out. The brand went viral on TikTok in April, continued growing on the app and driving huge conversion at POS, then went on to be the No. 1 googled toy in December; the importance of social media was clear from the start. Prior to the launch of the UK range, we saw UK super-fans, driven by the TikTok hype, prepared to pay up to 10x more for the North America capsules from US sites. The virality and huge engagement across these platforms is what confirmed our decision to go with a 100% digital marketing strategy, which has shown phenomenal results to date. #MiniBrands on TikTok recently surpassed 1.3b views, with the official page garnering 325,000 followers in just nine months. We have created a specialist team that works closely with some of the biggest creators across Instagram and TikTok to create funny and engaging content, from unboxings and memes to our favourite Mini Brands swapping pranks.

What expansion of the range can we expect this year? The Mini Brands and Toy Mini Brands strategy sees a new wave of miniatures released every six months, driving the collectability we know is so vital in this space. From Easter, fans can find allnew Mini Brands in the assortment, with a total of over 160 products now made mini in Series 1. This autumn/winter we will also be introducing a new

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wave of Toy Mini Brands and debuting the muchanticipated Series 2 of Mini Brands. We will also be introducing new play sets across both ranges that really facilitate the role-play element of the range and serve as the perfect display for avid collectors.

How will Zuru be supporting Toy Mini Brands this year, both in terms of marketing and of retail partnerships? As ever, we have a plethora of retail partnership initiatives in place, and we will continue to engage with all our key partners on how best to bring our brands to life at store level. One of Zuru’s core tenets is to delight our customers wherever they are, and 5 Surprise is no exception to this. Regarding marketing support, we are continuing with our digital strategy and are working closely with partners such as YouTube, Instagram and TikTok. It’s also finally time to see Hammy’s adventures in our UK creative. Hammy is the superstar of all our YouTube videos and bumpers. We will adopt an always-on approach to reach kids and their parents with this hamster’s adventures in her Mini Brands house. For older fans, the key channel will still be TikTok, where our talent ambassadors will share new unboxing and prank videos before Easter to launch Series 1 Wave 2 of Mini Brands, arriving in stores soon.


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Special Feature

HTi

doing a bubble take HTI Toys recently completed the relocation of its bubble production facility from China to the UK, marking a major step in the company’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint whilst dramatically increasing speed to market and maintaining a value proposition to their customers. Rachael Simpson-Jones spoke to Colin Houlihan, executive director of the HTI Group, to find out more.

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hen Toy World last paid a visit to HTI’s Fleetwood site, the company was in the early stages of setting up its UK bubble making facility. Two years, 12 days and six hours later - a level of detail indicative of Colin’s immense pride and involvement in the move - everything was complete. For HTI, the decision to bring its bubble manufacturing back to the UK began with answering the big question, ‘Why?’ Firstly, across all sectors and as we all now

know, the impact of manufacturing on the environment is of ever-increasing concern among consumers. With a significant chunk of a product’s carbon footprint coming in the form of transport, be that air miles or sea miles, HTI felt that onshoring a bubble factory was a hugely positive move in terms of sustainability. Secondly, HTI had the space to not only build a production facility, but to operate it with minimal labour thanks to automation. Full automation was paramount as it gives the company the opportunity to be competitive compared to product manufactured in the Far East. Additionally, the move ensures that the quality of finished product, from bubble solution to the bottles, is a step up from traditional Far East sources. “As much as the provenance of a product and the security of having a UK manufacturing facility is important, if you’re not competitive in the marketplace then you’re setting yourself up to fail,” Colin explains. “Our decision to bring bubbles back to our shores had to be commercially viable, and despite the various challenges along the way – such as trying to get a 180-tonne blowing machine into position, with only 3mm clearance from millions of pounds worth of product on racking we couldn’t move – we think we’ve done just that, in time for summer too. The whole operation was a huge team effort, and although we missed the intended completion date, albeit only by a month, that moment when we turned the machines on for the first time, and everything worked, was a really special one for all of us.” An evergreen line, HTI’s bubbles are in demand

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all year-round, so when deciding on the perfect product with which to kick off its onshoring journey it was the obvious choice. Speaking with Colin, it is clear that this is only the beginning of a long-term commitment to become a greener toy company; the creation of the UK bubble factory has proved that such projects are not only possible but are also financially viable, and that knowledge will pave the way for future moves of a similar eco-friendly nature. A massive part of the transport footprint has been cut out; for HTI, the positives for consumers and retailers, and the chance to make a difference, no matter how small at first, had to be jumped at. Colin continues: “Interestingly, we feel that it’s kids driving a lot of these conversations rather than parents. We think this generation of youngsters genuinely understand the issues of sustainability and environmental degradation, and they are therefore the ones placing pressure upwards, rather than those messages trickling downwards. This will help to stimulate the discussion around toys, and, ultimately, change the way we all behave. HTI isn’t going to back off making strides in sustainability simply because it’s more challenging, or more expensive. We’re making these changes because it’s the right thing to do, and it’s a core value of ours moving forwards that we continue to reduce our impact on the environment.” From the beginning, HTI’s bubbles bottles have all been 100% recyclable. They are currently made from a minimum of 30% recycled material, and one of the company’s customers is actually now stocking a line made from 100% recycled material. Continued sustainability


was therefore at the heart of the bubble project. Transparency, too, was a key factor. The doors of the new UK plant, which has been fully audited and certified, are open to anyone who would like to look around, any time they care to visit (Covid permitting, of course), and Colin is understandably very keen for HTI’s retail partners to see the bubble production process for themselves. For obvious reasons, those companies whose manufacturing is based in China or elsewhere in the Far East simply do not have that luxury. The water used in HTI’s bubble production is also cleaner thanks to the use of a state-of-the-art filtration system, and the ingredients used for the solution are high quality. The dramatic reduction in speed to market that will result from the new bubble facility should be seen as a huge win for retailers. As with all seasonal products, buyers know there is always a level of unpredictability and risk; the importance of locally made sustainable product, available at a competitive price, is therefore a no-brainer, according to the company. HTI wants to provide a solution and thus remove the stress

of buying without facing double-digit lead-times, Colin says. After all, who can afford to wait for 16 weeks for a replenishment on bubbles? “We wanted to bring attention to our new factory, as although capacity will remain limited and maybe we cannot find a solution for every retailer this year, demand has been such that we have brought forward our planned next stage of investment to cope with orders for the second half of 2021. For those like-minded retailers looking to partner up with a like-minded company, we would encourage you to join us on our journey.” Colin tells me HTI is currently exploring additional areas that he believes the company could successfully onshore, with a clear focus on ensuring the recyclable nature of its products is at the forefront of everything it does. The building of the bubble factory has given HTI a much deeper understanding of effective PET and HDPE product creation, and greatly increased the company’s manufacturing expertise – building a factory from scratch in an empty space

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will do that – and this is now the jumping off point for what appears to be a very exciting few years ahead, with a UK manufacturing entity a key focus of future progress. “It’s also worth mentioning that a lot of what we’ll be working on next will involve careful consideration of the lifecycle and longevity of the toy in question.” adds Colin. “We often speak of recycling products, but that can mean gifting a preloved toy to a friend or relative; it doesn’t have to mean breaking it down and turning it into something new. At HTI, that means quality – if we can make products that last longer than their competitors, and therefore have an extended life, then why wouldn’t we? We must minimise our carbon footprint, call out our green credentials, and provide longevity with all our toys. The message we want to hammer home is that change is coming; consumers are only going to increase in their demands for greener toys. We all have a part to play in this, and I hope that what we’re doing at HTI, and what other companies are doing too, will provide the confidence needed to get on board.”


Pocket Money & Collectibles

Konami Digital Entertainment B.V. 01753 271737 | www.yugioh-card.com/uk Yu-Gi-Oh! history comes to life in Ghosts From the Past. This 132-card all-foil collectors’ set bolsters nine popular themes from the past, introduces two new themes, helps fans build some of the Decks featured both in this booster and in recent Core Boosters, and debuts five new Ghost Rares considered must-haves for any collection. Ghosts From the Past includes new cards for nine different themes from the past. Strategies from many different eras in Yu-Gi-Oh!’s history, like Dragunity, Shaddoll, and Cipher, will be bolstered. The villainous Spectre’s ‘Sunavalon’ strategy from Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS takes root in Ghosts From the Past. This Plant-Based Link Summoning theme lays out a cunning web of interconnected monster effects to trap unsuspecting Duelists. The second new theme will be a game original strategy. Yu-Gi-Oh! fans who thought the new Metalfoes cards in Blazing Vortex were cool, but didn’t have the rest of the cards to try the Deck out, can now find them in Ghosts From the Past. The original Armed Dragon LV10 is included, for those that need to complete their Armed Dragon Deck, and collectors can also find cards like Raidraptor - Tribute Lanius, Dark Requiem Xyz Dragon, and Phantom Knights’ Fog Blade. These will be popular additions for fans after that Raidraptor/Phantom Knight team-up Deck they’ve been working on since Phantom Rage released. Five cards in this set will appear exclusively (and rarely) as beautiful Ghost Rares. Collectors will see cards they love, such as Blue-Eyes Alternative White Dragon, like they’ve never seen them before. Ghosts From the Past has 132 cards total, with 45 new cards and 87 returning cards, five of which appear only as Ghost Rares. All other cards appear in the standard gold Ultra Rare technology. Each box contains three 5-card Ghosts From the Past packs, offering a total of 15 cards.

Vivid Goliath 01483 449944 | www.vividtoysandgames.co.uk Vivid has launched this year’s official Love, Diana range, as the star of YouTube’s Kids Diana Show’s reach and popularity continue to increase. Vivid is working with a selection of industry-leading suppliers to launch an all-encompassing product range based upon Diana, her family and their adventures, with a focus on the positivity of friendship and family, creativity, and the power of play. The Love, Diana collectibles range comprises a selection of articulated mini figures of Diana, her brother Roma, and myriad other characters from her channel. Autumn/winter will allow Love, Diana fans to discover a host of new characters, outfits and accessories, plus two new themed mash-up play sets at a mid-level price point. The range will also welcome two larger-scale play sets with multiple levels of play, inviting children to create imaginative pretend play scenarios in their homes and integrate their other Love, Diana collectibles. Based on popular themes from the channel, each set will include exclusive collectible figures and accessories to match the chosen theme. Ryan’s World continues to go from strength to strength, with the Ryan channels racking up over 4b UK lifetime views. Off the back of the overall brand success, Vivid is launching a raft of new product for 2021. Ryan’s World Tour is a key new brand initiative, with a product range based around Ryan and his global adventures as he learns about different countries across the world. The line includes new collectible figures and play sets from all four corners of the globe. Kids can collect 80 different versions of Ryan and his friends, each with a unique style and flag sticker for the country they represent. The core of the range focuses on its collectability, with single figure Mini Globes, 2-figure blind bags and a 6-pack of figures allowing children to expand their collection. In addition to the new World Tour range, the core range of product will be bolstered with a series on all the key collectibles, including Series 7 of Mystery Figures, Mystery Putty and Mystery Squishy Figures, which sold over 600k pieced combined in 2020 YTD. Additional refreshes will be introduced across the range, with more big news to be revealed for autumn/winter.

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Pocket Money & Collectibles

Mattel 01628 500 000 | www.mattel.com Mattel is introducing an impressive range of new collectibles and pocket money toys in 2021 from its portfolio of world class brands, including Hot Wheels, Thomas & Friends, Polly Pocket and Hello Kitty. Hot Wheels die cast has fresh new cars to collect in every mix. In 2021, the brand introduces the Disney Character Assortment to its die cast range. This assortment of 1:64 scale vehicles features realistic details and authentic decos as magical as the characters they represent. Expanding the world of Hot Wheels Monster Trucks is the new Monster Maker, which combines Monster Trucks and 1:64 scale Hot Wheels cars to deliver an entirely new way to play. This assortment offers different colour truck chassis. Each comes with two Hot Wheels die cast models to mix and match. Also new to the line is the Monster Tredz Assortment; each vehicle has over the top new wheels for on-shelf appeal with kids. Thomas fans can create their own train adventures with the new rainbow-themed small push-along engines, available as Thomas, Toby and Harold. Polly Pocket, the original micro doll collectible, welcomes all-new animal themed compacts to the Pocket World Assortment, including Horse Show, Hedgehog Café, Piglette Country and Corgi Hotel. Each set includes two dolls with new articulation; five moveable joints allow richer pose-and-play action. The compacts also come with a strap so kids can wear them as a wristlet or purse, making them perfect for anywhere, anytime Polly Pocket fun. Sanrio Surprise Minis collectibles offer triple the fun. Each cute Hello Kitty figure is a self-stamper, pencil-topper and keychain, in fun food themes including watermelon, French fries and smoothies. Kids can attach their figure to backpacks, purses and more with the removable keychain ring.

MGA Entertainment 0845 0533 333 | www.mgae.com The new dance-themed range from L.O.L. Surprise! offers kids 12 new and original Dance Dance Dance Dolls, all of whom are ready to show off their moves at the ultimate L.O.L. Surprise! dance-off. Each character comes complete with eight accessories including a black light that reveals glowing surprises, and a holographic card that shows kids how to do unique dance moves such as the Wheels on the Coupe, Vogue It BB, or Runway Surprise. The characters can also be placed on the spinning dance floor to watch them strut their stuff. These dolls have attracted the attention of the iconic Pineapple Dance Studios, which has been running L.O.L. Surprise! themed dance workshops to encourage kids everywhere to get dancing and learn the new moves. The latest collection of L.O.L. Surprise! Furniture Packs features four fan-favourite re-released characters - Dawn, Dusk, Sugar and Spice. These cute sets let L.O.L collectors immerse themselves in a miniature world of fun and storytelling. Each comes with everything needed to create the best L.O.L. Surprise! playtime possible and is compatible with other dolls and sets in the range, making the Furniture Packs an ideal way to expand the play possibilities. L.O.L. Surprise! is expanding its core collectibles with new themes, kicking off the season with the brand new L.O.L. Surprise! All Star B.B.s Football. Following a partnership with the Manchester Football Association and England footballing legend Steph Houghton MBE, which will encourage girls to get outside and play football, these characters have received a sparkly makeover and come with new team uniforms and football-themed accessories. Each doll includes eight surprises to unbox as well as its own collectible trading card that doubles as a backdrop, while the ball becomes a goal for imaginative play. There are 12 football characters to collect from two teams – Pink Lightning and Teal Rockets. Each of the eight new brothers from the latest series of L.O.L. Surprise! Boys has a similar style to his sister character, but with a unique twist. Kids can feed or bathe their doll to discover water surprises, including colour change features. The ball also becomes a carrying case, doll stand, or play set. In addition to its latest ranges, L.O.L. Surprise! is also venturing into the world of Roblox. The global initiative aims to bring the dolls to life and allow kids around the world to engage with the brand in a co-play experience on the popular kids gaming platform. The brand has partnered with SuperAwesome, a leading kids internet safety company, to ensure the experience adheres to child-privacy laws in participating countries. MGA Entertainment has continued to expand its Na! Na! Na! Surprise collection over the last year. The brand now has a total of four series of collectibles, each offering a unique unboxing experience, soft posable fashion doll and wearable pom. Last year the company also expanded the range with two new play sets - the 3-in-1 Backpack and Ultimate Surprise. The Na! Na! Na! Surprise Sparkle Series features sparkly, sequined pom purses, each with two surprise accessories including fashions and scented shoes. Inside the purse, kids can find a soft, posable, animalinspired fashion doll with unique printed details and beautiful hair. Each doll also includes a tag revealing their name, birthday, and motto. As with previous series, the pom purse has an animal-inspired clip that can be attached to any bag for added style. Na! Na! Na! Surprise will continue to build awareness and demand throughout the year with several new launches and themes, including the expansion of its play set range with the Plush Car.

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Pocket Money & Collectibles

Bandai UK 020 8324 6160 | www.bandai.co.uk Fans of Dragon Ball, one of the most successful manga and anime series of all time, can enjoy an entryprice-point action figure range thanks to Bandai’s latest collection. The highly articulated Evolve Action Figures come with a sub-£10 price-tag. Bandai has added new 12.5cm versions of Goku Ultra Instinct Silver, Golden Frieza, and Jiren Full Power Final Form to the range. Collectible arts & crafts fashion IP Harumika introduces a host of styles for spring, with new Nature Mood and Tie-Dye themes added to its popular line of Single Torso Sets. The sets allow kids to channel their creativity without the need for gluing, sewing, or cutting; simply arrange the fabrics around the mannequin torso and tuck them into the slits using the stick and pins. The single torso assortment comes with a torso, stick, 10 pins and three fabrics. Existing mood boards include Street Blues, Neon Beast, Charming Countryside and Sweet Peru. Since its relaunch last year, Harumika has established a growing community which lets children access YouTube and Instagram channels to share creations, gain inspiration and learn new techniques from tutorials. Currently performing as the No. 1 show on Pop, Miraculous follows the adventures of highschool student Marinette and her LadyBug alter-ego. With a new TV season planned to air from Easter 2021, and a feature film debut due in Q4 2021, the show’s popularity is expected to soar along with demand for licensed product. Bandai UK continues to invest in the brand with the introduction of new Kwami collectibles to join its existing range of fashion dolls, play sets, roleplay accessories and plush. The collectibles offer a pocket-money purchase option within the range, giving children an affordable opportunity to unlock the magic seen in the animated series. The collectibles themselves are housed in Miraculous blind boxes and are molded holding their precious Miraculous. Pearlescent and glitter packaging finishes create retail standout before the unboxing surprise reveal even begins. Four of the show’s major characters feature within Bandai’s collection of 12cm collectible small dolls. Ladybug, Marinette, Cat Noir and Rena Rouge come with 15 points of articulation and removeable signature accessories. Nuzzy Luvs, a collection of cute plush pet characters which fit in the palm of a child’s hand, feature a range of sound and movement response combinations. With five styles to collect, including a monkey, cat, husky and two rabbits, Nuzzy Luvs respond to one another and their ‘owners’, letting them know when they feel happy, frightened or tired, or simply want attention. Bella the Rabbit is the latest character to join the Nuzzy Luvs collection. Bananas continues to grow with a new series of peelable, collectible fruit bunches and singles. Complete with new Crushie characters to collect, each Banana also includes stickers and a collector sheet. A triple pack of Baby Bananas has also been developed to further extend range appeal. Baby Bananas include a Baby Crushie and baby accessory, a birth certificate and a collector sheet.

Character Options 01616 339 800 | www.character-online.com Over 10m Heroes of Goo Jit Zu toys were shipped globally in 2020, and Character’s stretchy heroes are now getting ready to embark on a new cosmic adventure. Launching in the second half of the year, the Heroes of Goo Jit Zu Galaxy Attack Series will see three of the existing Heroes venture across the galaxy in a quest to discover the origin of goo. Replete with cool space suits, Cosmic Pantaro, Astro Thrash and Solar Blast Blazagon will soon find themselves up against four Galactic Goons, including a limitededition Crusticoid alien with an eye-pop attack feature. All seven new characters will be available to collect from autumn. An exclusive Cosmic Fury Versus Pack is also available, which sees Sun Fire Blazagon takes on Dark Matter Terrack, who features an X-ray bone filling. Two Vac Attack characters - Air Vac Thrash and Air Vac Orbitox – can be pumped, stretched and posed for action-packed battling play, then released back to their original shapes. This spring also saw Character Options introduce a new way to play with the Heroes of Goo Jit Zu. Smaller in size but big in stretch value, the Heroes of Goo Jit Zu DC Minis collection presents the iconic DC Heroes as kids have never seen them before. There are eight super stretchy heroes to collect, including the Ultra Rare Man of Steel Superman and golden Batman, The Flash, Cyborg, and DC’s ultimate villain, The Joker. Having marked the brand’s 10th anniversary last year, there is plenty of new product on offer for Mash’ems. This licensed collection of squishy collectibles will benefit from a raft of hot new properties set for release over the coming months, each of which benefits from a large and enthusiastic fanbase. Arriving just in time to support the new movie, Minions Rise of Gru launches later this month. Autumn/winter arrivals include an enchantingly squishable Disney Princess collection, a squashy Spider-Man selection, and an assortment of Jurassic World characters. This twistable, squishable line will be supported by a major campaign that will drive awareness and demand at retail, including dedicated TV support. Mash’ems’ first TV campaign launches in May, showcasing a huge range of the collectibles characters, with multiple TV spots and coverage for all licences across the collection. For more information about these and other collectibles ranges from Character Options, email sales@charactergroup.plc.uk.

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saDdle Up anD ridE witH papO !

diScoveR gE n A fulL raineS Of fiGur ect To coLl

80313 / The Pony Club creates the ideal playset for Papo figurines. 4 figurines included. (High quality cardboard and easy assembly).

new new 51566 Wild west horse and cowgirl (New)

51564 Walking horse with riding girl (New)

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deS h c n E r f 100%

51563 Competition horse with riding girl

ll of r tise. A e p x e d ped in lent an nch ta and develo playing e r F n po ed nd raws u ning a design Papo d eations are f mixing lear im o its cr . h the a for children it w , e c n a r F 51561 Competition horse with rider

51562 Jumping horse with rider

51560 Jumping horse with riding girl Discover the Competition Series ! Through their realism and high level of details, these hand painted figurines offer a wonderful support for play and carefully reproduce the horse riding world.

Visit Papo website and discover the full range of figurines : www.papo-france.com


Pocket Money & Collectibles

Skyrocket Toys 01489 668442 Crystalina light-up fairy dolls combine the empowering energy of crystals with collectible doll play. Each character is unique, embodies a crystal element imbued with magical properties, and comes complete with a wearable amulet capable of passing crystal power between itself and the doll in the form of LED light patterns. There are eight 4” dolls available to collect in the first wave, each with beautiful rooted hair in a range of styles, and in colours that reflect the crystal element at work. A variety of skintones increases the diversity of inclusivity of the Crystalina brand. Kids can choose the energy they want to harness that day depending on their mood or the challenges that await them, whether it’s a presentation at school or competitive sports event. The dolls and amulets embody Love, Creativity, Confidence, Strength, Clarity, Truth, Courage and Optimism. Shaking the doll changes the colour and pattern effects; the more dolls a child collects, the more crystal power they can harness by accessing new lights and patterns. The wearable amulets can also be swapped with friends, while the dolls and amulets can be displayed in a Moon Stand that amplifies the magical powers of each character and crystal. New Crystalina waves will launch at intervals throughout the year to drive collectability and repeat purchases, with the next waves planned to hit shelves in August and October. The property will also be supported by a full 360 marketing campaign comprising TV, digital, influencers and PR. For more information, contact salesuk@skyrockettoys.com.

Moose Toys 01637 882200 | www.moosetoys.com 2021 is set to be a big year for all things micro, with Moose’s premier collectible brand, Real Littles, expanding its product range. The Real Littles range of mini on-trend backpacks and handbags features real, working micro surprises inside, introducing whimsy, design and high fashion to three exciting new products perfect for storing, stashing and styling. The mini-collectibles trend is all over TikTok and other social media platforms, with kids and adult collectors alike creating plenty of engaging content that showcases their Real Littles finds. The new Real Littles range has recently launched in the UK and consists of three core lines. Real Littles Handbags invites kids to enter the world of luxury fashion with high-end inspired handbags that make use of the latest designer finishes and materials. These eye-catching collectibles come in a variety of colours and textures. The spring collection includes a shimmery sequined mermaid-themed tote and a unicorn handbag covered in glitter. Each bag also includes six mini surprises; from a mini pen, coin purse and lip gloss to compacts, a hairbrush and a tiny water bottle, there are more than 30 to collect. Kids also have the chance to find a limited-edition ring watch. Real Littles Lockers, the go-everywhere, hold-everything, must-have of the micro sets, are miniature versions of school lockers that offer personalising and customising fun. With 15 decorating and accessorising surprises inside each pack, there’s no shortage of creative inspiration for kids to enjoy. Wallpaper, carpet, chandeliers, mirrors, storage baskets, stickers and stationery are waiting to be discovered along with plenty of other surprises, including a working lock and an exclusive take-along shimmer and shine Unicorn Duffle Bag with matching bag dangler. Rounding out the launch range, Real Littles Backpacks are collectible, colourful, micro-sized backpacks filled with mini stationery surprises in different colours, styles and finishes. Inside, collectors will find lunchboxes, glitter stickers, scented markers, stackable coloured pencils, stamps, staplers, notebooks, stencil rulers and more, all fully functional. With more than 55 mini stationery surprises to collect, kids will have fun amassing their own assortment or swapping them with friends. The backpacks come in the latest looks, colours, materials and finishes, including plush, sequins metallic, jelly and more. There’s even a working limited-edition mini calculator keychain to find. Autumn/winter will see the range expand with fun new backpack and handbag designs, as well as a Luxe collection and new licensed backpacks. The range will be supported by a TikTok campaign as well as TV, digital and influencers. Further building on the toyetic fashion accessory collectible trend, Moose Toys will also be launching a new wearable collectible brand in autumn/winter. ScrunchMiez is a fun and innovative twist on the universally loved fashion accessory, the scrunchie. Not only do ScruchMiez branded scrunchies feature cute plush character heads on the classic design, perfect for wearing in hair or on wrists, just like traditional scrunchies, but they also transform with the pull of semi-hidden drawstring into endearing collectible plush friends that kids can play with or use as backpack clips. The range will hit UK shelves in July and will benefit from a TV and digital campaign.

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SEASON 2 AVAILABLE NOW!

FULL TV & DIGITAL SUPPORT

Show off your creations! Lots of mystery pets to collect

Girls turn into jewellery!


Pocket Money & Collectibles

Brainstorm 01200 445 113 | www.brainstormltd.co.uk Brainstorm has added to its KlikBot range for 2021 with KlikBot Kreatures. The impulse price point line features eight different KlikBot Kreatures that come in a blind capsule, making them a great collectible option for retailers. The capsules are available in a 12-piece CDU, and each contains two rare gold KlikBot Kreatures to drive repeat purchase. As with all characters from the popular StikBot and KlikBot ranges, each figure offers endless play possibilities. In addition to making a great fidget toy, the Kreatures can be used to create stop frame animation using the StikBot app. The articulated limbs and accessories make it easy to create precise animated videos. KlikBots can also be combined to extend play even further by creating KlikBot mega-Kreatures. The range will be TV advertised throughout the year at key selling points, and supported by digital marketing and PR. Eugy has been a runaway success, with the range continually expanding to include even more new animals and characters. The environmentally friendly 3D model making kit is made from biodegradable card, and lets kids follow a simple number sequence to create chunky collectible models that can be played with and displayed. Thanks to the sustainability of the product, coupled with the pocket money pricing and collectability factor, the Eugy range is proving a popular choice for gifters wanting to make more eco-friendly purchases. New lines will be added in spring and summer including Ptero, Sea Otter, Blue Whale and Polar Bear. Three Christmas Eugy models will also be added; these are available to pre-order from May for delivery at the beginning of October. The Brainstorm Toys range includes the ever-popular Torch & Projector collection of hand-held torches with a retro feel. The new lines let kids project images of Funny Animals and Puppies onto their walls up to a metre wide, or simply use them as torches. Also new for 2021 is the Glow Stars and Dragons set, part of The Original Glowstars Company range. This great value set features 35 high-quality glow in the dark stars as well as eight glow dragons. Perfect for decorating rooms or accessorising furniture, each needs only a few minutes exposed to a light source to trigger its impressive glow in the dark ability.

Panini 01604 877 888 | www.paninigroup.com Panini has announced the launch of its highly anticipated UEFA Euro 2020 Tournament Edition official sticker collection. Bigger and better than ever before, this new 678 sticker assortment features all the statistics and fun facts fans could wish for. All 24 qualifying national teams are represented and, for the very first time, 23 players are featured for each squad. There are also special stickers covering every aspect of the competition, with information about the host cities and the history of the tournament. With games being played in Dublin, Glasgow and London, this year is set to be extra special for UK fans. Available now, the collection – which includes individual Sticker Packets, Starter Packs and Collectible Tins containing 10 Sticker Packets - will benefit from a multi-faceted marketing strategy including a heavyweight TV and digital campaign, a national newspaper promotion, nationwide sampling initiatives, print advertising and a dynamic social media campaign. Previous years have shown the company that getting albums into collectors’ hands is the most effective way to raise awareness and grow sales. Panini has made free promotional albums available that retailers can give away to football fans in the local community. To aid displays, POS packs containing a window poster and shelf talker, plus a limited number of floor display units and shelf clip unit that holds a CDU of packets, are all available on request. Early indications suggest that Panini’s Official UEFA Euro 2020 Tournament Edition Sticker collection is set to be one of the biggest collectible revenue opportunities of the year. Sales peak through April and May, in anticipation of the first kick of the ball, so stockists are advised to order early. Contact Lewi at click@clickdistributionuk.com to find out more.

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Adorable Fruit Unicorns n r o ic n U ld o G l ia c e p S d n a to collect!

Series 1. Code 70631. Available Now. Series 2. Code 70632. Available July.

For more information, please contact your Schleich® representative, or contact us on 01279 870 000 or orders@schleich-s.co.uk


Pocket Money & Collectibles

Waboba 01380 872950 | www.waboba.com From the street to the backyard, Waboba has everyone covered with the Moon Ball range and its Wingman flying disk, pocket money toys that fit in a pocket. To help retailers of all sizes maximise on impulse purchase opportunities, regardless of their floorspace, Waboba has created a bulk display for its best-selling outdoor pocket money toys. The single display offers various solutions; by itself, the bulk display features a narrow stand with an open dome for Waboba’s hyper bouncing ball portfolio, which includes the Moon Ball, Octzilla, Spizzy, and Lava balls. The dome holds 50 balls to create a striking in-store feature. Building on the success of Moon Ball in previous years, and with the new Wingman flying off shelves, Waboba has also created an add-on solution for the bulk display of these best-selling toys, without taking up any additional space. In addition to eye-catching new signage, clip strips are now available which hold 24 Wingman silicone flying disks — 12 on each side of the dome. The clip strips hold all Wingman styles, including the original size, the light-up Wingman UFO, and the new larger Wingman Pro, which flies over 60 metres. Spring welcomes an assortment of new Moon Ball colours for kids to add to their collections. The new rainbow Moon Balls range is the company’s most colorful offering yet. Featuring white stars and ombre colourways such as blue-green-yellow and purple-red-orange, this latest launch offers a whole new world of Moon Balls to collect and bounce. To increase the appeal and play potential of the Moon Ball brand, Waboba has created a new smaller size ball in six on-trend pastel colours. The Mini Moons are 40% smaller in volume than the original Moon Balls, but still produce an impressive bounce height and the same iconic ‘pop’ sound kids love when they rebound off a surface. Waboba is planning to promote these items with major campaigns on social media, working with influencers and ambassadors around the world to drive awareness and demand for product. To order, or for more information, please visit virtual.waboba.com or email sales@tkcsales.co.uk.

Zuru 01200 445 113 | info@zuru.com Following the success of 5 Surprise Mini Brands, a new wave of miniature household favourites is set for a Q2 UK launch. Each 5-part capsule will house authentic mini replicas of even more real shopping brands, which can be added to existing collections. Children can enjoy unwrapping and peeling the segments to reveal five mystery miniatures in every capsule. There are 60 miniature versions of favourite toys to find from the likes of Nickelodeon, Zuru, Rubik’s and Crayola, along with rare glow in the dark, shimmery and super rare gold minis. There are also four miniature shopping accessories to collect, including bags, wheelie baskets, carts and shelves. A newly streamlined 5 Surprise range includes the Dino and Unicorn Squad themed lines, now both in their third series. The latest series, 5 Surprise Dino Strike Hunt, includes 13 dinosaurs to collect and battle, each with customised accessories and hunting vehicles, while 5 Surprise Fairy Unicorn Squad introduces 13 Fairy unicorn characters to accessorise and style. Rainbocorns features a comprehensive licensed range with new wave introductions planned throughout 2021. The latest line extension, Rainbocorns: Puppycorn Surprise, adds pocket-money and impulse purchase opportunities to the brand portfolio. The Puppycorns Surprise collection comprises seven collectible mini plush puppies including a Dachshund, Pug, Dalmation, Poodle, Labrador, Husky and rare ‘best in show’ Show Bulldog. Puppycorns come in a bright teal reusable egg, with on-theme puppy ears giving a hint into the puppy-focused unboxing experience. Children simply hatch open the eggs to reveal seven surprises including Puppycorn plush characters, scratch ‘n’ reveal hearts, scratch ‘n’ sniff stickers, Boo-Boocorn puppies and collectible eggs, Puppycorn poop and a collector’s guide. Smashers Dino Ice Age Mini Surprise Eggs offer the same concept as the popular Epic Egg but at a pocket-money price-point. Children can slime, fizz and smash their way through to reveal the Smash-O-Saur Dino parts. The Mini Surprise Eggs include three compounds containing dinosaur parts, one of six Smash-o-saur characters, a Smash Egg Smashball and a Dino claw scratch ‘n’ surprise sticker. Repeat purchase and collectability is driven by the desire to collect all six dinosaurs, which can be mixed & matched to create the ultimate Smash-o-saur. A Smashers Dino Ice Age 8-pack of collectible Smash Egg Smashballs is also available as an affordable pocket-money option as part of the wider range. Oosh Potions Slime Surprise combines hands-on DIY slime making creativity with magical role-play scenarios. There are four different magic potion bottles, each containing two surprise potions to create. From the BFF’s Elixir to the Enchanting Potion, children can engage in creative, imaginative play as they follow each magic recipe. The base of the sparkly potion bottle doubles as a bowl in which to mix potion with the included glow-in-the-dark mixing wand. Every potion comes with its own gooey or powder base, three different accessories to add, storage bottles and an easy to follow recipe. There are eight magical potions to discover and collect. Each potion bottle includes a magic pot, magic wand, potions bottles, magic mermaid surprise beads, magic unicorn surprise sparkles, an instruction sheet, magic dust, a seashell spell activator and sweet seashells liquid glitter. All brands will be supported by PR and marketing campaigns, including global television commercials, and digital and social media content across all channels.

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TV & L A T I G I D

Lava

StONE

ICE

JUNGLE

17 Mini Creatures to collect, including rare GOLD figure! Great pocket money purchase! – RRP £2.99 Robots combine with Mini-Creatures for extra battle play! For more information, please contact your Schleich® representative, or contact us on 01279 870 000 or orders@schleich-s.co.uk

© Schleich

ELDRADOR MINi CREATURES COLLECTIBLES!


Pocket Money & Collectibles

Schleich 01279 870000 | www.schleich-s.com/en/GB For 2021, Schleich introduces an additional element of surprise to its collectible figure ranges with the launch of two new blind bag bayala unicorn foals lines, new Eldrador MiniCreatures, and an innovative new pocket money concept, Puzzlemals. Six magical collectible Unicorn Foals - Florany, Lenuja, Olaria, Whalda, Elany and Rajana – will be making their way into the hands of bayala collectors this year. Each lovable foal, replete with flower tattoos and glittering manes and tails, will be an ideal addition to existing bayala collections, and is attractively priced for pocket money purchases. Retailers can make use of a convenient CDU display holding 24 Unicorn Foals. Series 2 launches in July, with 12 new Unicorns driving repeat purchase among collectors. Each Unicorn features bold colours and fun fruit tattoos. Kids can look out for the special Golden Unicorn, which can be found at the end of the bayala rainbow. The new Eldrador Mini Creatures range hits shelves in August, supported by a major TV, digital and PR campaign. The initial range will comprise an impressive 17 different mini creatures to collect; four figures from each of the four Eldrador worlds - Lava, Ice, Stone and Jungle - plus a Golden Mini Hero. These collectible characters can be stacked to form pyramids or towers, only to be brought crashing down to earth again. Mini Creatures are also compatible with the four World Robots, allowing them to gain even more fighting power for battling play. In September, Schleich will launch a new collectible concept, Puzzlemals. By pushing together six different front and rear animal halves from the Wild Life and Farm World ranges, children can create funny and crazy combinations such as an elephant with a gorilla’s head, or a koala with the paws of a polar bear. Surprise reveal packaging means only the front half of the animal can be seen at purchase - the rear part is a mystery until it is unboxed. The range of collectible animal halves includes a cute koala, imposing gorilla, snow-white polar bear, fluffy lamb, barking dog, and meowing cat, all at pocket money prices. For more information on the entire Schleich portfolio, email orders@schleich-s.co.uk.

Magic Box Toys 01403 251 286 | www.magicboxint.com SuperThings Power Machines from Magic Box Toys is the latest series in this popular hero vs. villain collectible brand. The 80 new characters form six groups - Wicked Circuits, Energy Brigade, Mechanic Warriors, Tech Masters, Electric Squad and Cyber Fighters – all of whom have all been unleashed from Kaboom City as blind packs. In addition, kids will be keen to find the new Ultra Rare glowin-the-dark Dr Volt, along with Volt’s two gold rare Leaders and six silver rare Team Captains, which will enable collectors to complete their army. As the chosen mode of transport, Power Jets will house either ninja, flame, boxing or electric style weapons such as a Shenobi Saw spinning blade, Motor Puncher boxing glove and Spark Drill corkscrew which can be manually operated for battle. Each Power Jet pack includes a SuperThing character. There are eight to collect. Offering the ultimate combat armour, the eight giant Power Bots each feature a secret compartment where SuperThings can fight from safety. Each pack includes a SuperThing character. Magic Box has also developed value-added packs including the blister 4-pack and 10-packs, a Mega Pack and a Starter Pack. Complementing the collectible series will be a toy range designed to enhance the world of SuperThings. Battle Spinners are rip-cord operated spinning capsules which house SuperThings characters and propel them into battle. There are eight to collect across four characters. The Battle Arena Playset will bring together all the characters under one roof to fight it out once and for all in the ultimate war of the worlds. Complete with two exclusive SuperThings and two exclusive battle spinners, kids can place their favourite characters in the audience to watch the rip-cord action duels.

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Pocket Money & Collectibles

Flair Just Play 020 8643 0320 | www.flairplc.co.uk Sneak’Artz is Flair’s all-new customisable craft collectibles range. Launching with 24 mini shoe styles for kids to collect and design, each Sneak’Artz Shoe Box pack contains one customisable shoe, washable pens, charms, stickers, and an attachable key chain. The Sneak’Artz Bumper Set, with its two-shoe format for added creativity, comes with an exclusive spray can, glitter and four-dot pens, accessories, and stencils. Autumn/winter will see the introduction of the next generation of Sneak’Artz. This new wave will come with hydrographic papers, a new processing technique that allows kids to transfer graphics to their Sneak’Artz shoes. This series will launch with a special edition Galaxy theme, allowing kids cover their mini sneaker styles with eye-catching cosmic graphics. Disney Doorables lets kids reveal a raft of Disney characters hidden behind surprise doors. Available as Mini Peek Packs and as A’Doorable Mini Playsets, there are 62 characters to collect. Fans can look forward to further product launches for autumn/ winter, including Disney Doorables Series 5, along with 41 new characters to find. The Disney Doorables Collectors Packs will contain special edition figures, and there will also be new Mini Playsets and larger Beyond the Door Playsets to collect. The Totally Tiny range welcomes new deliveries. Letting kids create treats their way, this collection of miniature pretend food treats has quickly become a must-have addition to doll play. Spring/summer sees the addition of Tiny Lunchbox Collectibles to the range, while the new Birthday Party Food Set and the Mega Value Food pack, which contains more than 50 miniature food pieces, launch in autumn. For more information, email sales@flairplc.co.uk.

HTI 01253 778888 | www.htigroup.co.uk HTI Toys has a history of bringing key, on-trend novelty items to market, with its Pocket Money portfolio going from strength to strength over the years. The team’s continued passion and knowledge of this fastpaced category is apparent, with the company dedicated to reacting quickly to new playground crazes. As in previous years, 2021 will see multiple new additions, including both brands and products, to the HTI portfolio. The team has focused on investment in HTI-owned tooling for new products, garnering a wealth of positive reactions throughout preview season. The popular brand Magical Kingdom has had a complete styling refresh for this season, with the introduction of a new logo and on-trend packaging designs. HTI Toys has taken two of the key trends for this season and incorporated them into the style guide, with the use of rainbows and unicorns throughout the range. Key new pocket money lines for this year include the pretty Unicorn Styling Head, featuring rainbow coloured hair and several accessories, and the novelty Uni-Horn, which has already been backed by a key retailer. The Magical Kingdom range wouldn’t be complete without the classic pocket money items it is known for, including jewellery cases, fairy dolls, light up ‘blinkers’ and putty, all of which are still available with impactful new designs. HTI Toys’ Dino World range offers retailers a complete pocket money solution for the perennially popular prehistoric theme, with a host of items to choose from including various sizes of dinosaur figures, hatching dinosaur eggs, and dinosaur-themed bouncy balls. New for 2021 are the Push & Go Dinos. Complete with their very own carry cases, these dinosaur figures can speed across surfaces. Kids will enjoy trying to catch the dinosaurs as they zoom away. Also new to the range, and ideal for younger children, the cute Dino Flashlights feature a hidden torch inside the dinosaur’s mouth. Those looking for more of a thrill, meanwhile, can opt for the Super Launcher shaped dinosaur head, which is supplied with a car that shoots out of the dinosaur’s jaws.

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H. Grossman 01603 397 105 | www.tobar.co.uk Known for its pocket money and craze lines, HGL leads the way again this year with Pushpoppers. Ideal for those that enjoy the addictive sensation of popping bubble wrap, Pushpoppers are available in a range of colours and sizes including rainbow. The company has already received substantial advance orders for these unputdownable pocket money toys, so those who haven’t yet got in touch are advised to do so quickly. Numerous range extensions have been planned throughout 2021 which will refresh the Pushpoppers line and drive the appeal of these simple but compulsive toys. The wooden toy category will be bolstered this year with the addition of Tobar’s new range, many of which fall into the pocket money price bracket. Eye catching yet traditional, this range of products includes everything from slide whistles in the shape of unicorns and dragons to yoyos and spinning tops, pullback-and-go toys, finger puppets, flexible wooden jointed monsters, ballerinas, robots and even a wriggly worm. Tangle Toys remain a popular pocket money option. Tobar is now the sole distributor for the UK and parts of Europe. This year sees several tangly, twisty new additions in themes including metallics, textures, lighting, pets and charms. Kids’ passion for rainbows continues unabated. Tobar’s range of rainbow inspired pocket money toys includes pom pom pens, slime and putty, snap bracelets, rings, hair slides and bows. Unicorns likewise remain a best-selling theme; kids can choose from money banks, finger puppets, fizzers and balloon balls, a new Unicorn Mesh Ball, pens, keyrings and pencils. The pocket money range also features flamingos, mermaids, sharks, dinosaurs and sloths. Slime and putty are also available, as are jellyballs in a variety of shapes and sizes. Nee Doh from Schylling continues to be a best-seller. Tobar is the exclusive UK distributor of this line of stress relieving, squeezable groovy globs. Multi-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 in neon, glitter and glow in the dark, Squiggle Bandz are sure to be a playground favourite this year. For more information, email sales@tobar.co.uk.

Diamant www.amav.com Established in 1963, Diamant Toys is now run by the third generation of the Diamant family and continues to go from strength to strength worldwide. The company is known also by the name of its American subsidiary, Amav Enterprises. Diamant products are completely original, having all been invented by the company from scratch. In 2020, the Keypsees collectibles range launched. Whilst it has been a trying time for collectibles, this line immediately became a winner for retailers regardless of where it was launched. Keypsees lets kids immerse themselves in a multi-layered unboxing experience. Wave 1, Pets, has seen kids discovering the identity of the animal inside the packaging, revealing the surprise accessories within the sparkling packets - a comb, a bow, a food dish or a bone, depending on the animal discovered – and enjoying the fun of putting all the different pieces together. Finally, they can use the magic key to open the pet’s new home. Pets has been followed by Wave 2 of Keypsees, Mermaids, as well as Mermaid Treasures, another new collection. All have become an immediate sell-out, despite lockdowns and other obstacles. For additional information please contact sales@diamanttoys.com

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Pocket Money & Collectibles

Hexbug 01925 854 282 | www.hexbug.com Hexbug, which recently launched its JunkBots Alley Collection in the UK, is already developing the second wave of new JunkBots collectible products ahead of an autumn/winter global release. The JunkBots Alley Collection, which has proven hugely successful in the US, will be joined on shelves later this year by the JunkBots Factory Collection. 24 new collectible characters will be introduced together with new small and large themed play sets, which will allow kids to build JunkBots using the various pieces and parts included, such as small connector pipes and factory equipment. These developments will further emphasise the play value and diversity of the range. As with the JunkBots Alley range, the new collection will include Trash Bins and Dumpsters which allows kids to break the chain, empty the trash, and find the clues needed to build their new characters as part of an exciting unboxing experience. Power cores will also be included to bring each robot to life and incorporate the tech elements synonymous with the Hexbug brand. An integrated marketing campaign is already being planned for the launch of JunkBots Season 2, spearheaded by a TV campaign and a comprehensive digital plan. JunkBots enthusiasts can find out more about the JunkBots Alley Collection now at junkbots.com, where a sneak peek at what’s to come from the JunkBots Factory Collection is also available. For more information on JunkBots, contact Hexbug sales at eusales@hexbug.com.

Zapf Creation 0845 0533 333 | www.mgae.com Following on from the success of its previous collections, Baby born Surprise’s Butterfly Babies collection has been designed to offer a picture-perfect follow-up to the previous series, Garden. The new range offers 12 characters to collect including Purple Princess, Water Pixie, Ladybug, Twinkle Rose and many more. Ideal for imaginative play, there are over 10 surprises for youngsters to unbox as part of the experience. The fun begins by unwrapping the butterfly baby from its cocoon, which then magically transforms into glittery detachable butterfly wings. Once their beautiful butterfly has emerged, kids can then reveal the baby’s eye colour with water and find the bottle to reveal if they are a boy or a girl. From there, children can enjoy hours of play by naming their new friend, feeding him or her real water, and wetting their nappy to discover its colour and pattern; in turn, this reveals the baby’s birthday and horoscope. The dolls also come with collectors’ sheets that kids can fill in as they discover each surprise and find out more about their new baby. Zapf’s first collectible range, Baby born Surprise, is set to launch a highly anticipated new wave of characters, Mini Babies, this autumn. With nine sets to collect, these adorable siblings of the original babies are sure to be popular with existing collectors of the brand. Children can unwrap their toy to reveal either twins or rare triplets and find out which colourful new characters will be joining their Baby born Surprise family. With anything from the triplet Peas in a Pod to discover, to the double scoop Sundae Twins or Candy Triplets in a sweet swaddle, the Mini Babies range is full of surprises. The new line will be enhanced with a surprise play set that transforms from a moving bus into an impressive playground complete with swings, a seesaw and more, due to launch later in the year.

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Pocket Money & Collectibles

Sinco Creations 07793 121778 Sales@Sincotoys.com Sinco Creations, part of the Singleton Trading group, is launching a new range of iconic collectible Hasbro mini games. These classic titles have been shrunk into pocket-friendly entertainment so kids can game on the go, whenever and wherever. The keychain games measure just 5x8cm but retain all the fun of the full-size experience. Each comes in a colourful box with a sturdy rubber band that keep everything together. Fitting easily in a pocket or on a belt loop, these collectibles are perfect for gifting and swapping with friends, or enjoying at the park, on car journeys, or even while clad in pyjamas at home during a quiet night in. Displayed in assorted CDUs to drive POS impulse purchases, Sinco Creations’ miniature Hasbro keychain games are available in eight classic gaming titles; Connect 4, Game of Life, Guess Who?, Operation, Cluedo, Trivial Pursuit and Monopoly; a limited edition Golden Monopoly is also available, adding to the collectability of this fun new range. The games are suitable from the age of six years and above, and can be played with 1-4 players. For more information, please contact Daniel Smith: daniel@sincocreations.com.

Mookie Toys 01525 722 769 | www.mookie.co.uk Silverlit has key lines launching in the pocket money category. BioPods are robotic creatures hidden in pods with a glowing eye on show. Kids can build them up to discover what creature lays inside. Each Biopod will reveal a buildyour-own robot that moves and features realistic sound effects and light-up LED eyes. There are 13 to collect. Exost Jump friction-controlled cars have packaging that turns into a ramp from which the vehicles can perform impressive jumps. With six styles to collect, all kids need to do is charge and go. Last year saw the launch of Curli Girls, and for 2021 Mookie is launching adorable Curli Pets. Pocket sized pals with Magi-curl patented hair, each sits comfortably in their salon chair. Kids can dress them up, style their hair and carry them around.

Playmobil 01268 548 111 | www.playmobil.co.uk Children are now able to start or expand their Playmobil collection with the new Fi?ures Series 19. This series introduces 24 new heroes and heroines for the toy box, all with fun and engaging accessories to discover and collect. Kids can combine their new characters with myriad other Playmobil sets and worlds, as each is compatible with other ranges and allows for mix & match play, or can instead kick off a totally new collection of figures to discover with and display. The new series is sold in surprise packets, adding an element of suspense and excitement. The range includes characters from a wide range of different careers and theme relevant to today’s kids, such as Fire Fighter, Crash Test Dummy, Princess, Zoo Keeper and Aviator. There really is something for everyone. There is more in store for the Fi?ures collectibles line-up too, with Series 20 launching later in the year.

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Pocket Money & Collectibles

Asmodee 01420 593 593 | www.asmodee.co.uk Set to enjoy the spotlight this year is the Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG). Following an exceptional 2020, the Pokémon franchise is expecting even bigger things this year as it celebrates the 25th anniversary of the original video games. The Pokémon TCG’s part in that celebration has already begun with the release of the eagerly anticipated Shining Fates expansion, a special set focusing on the franchise’s ultra-rare and powerful Shiny Pokémon. Shining Fates marks the first time that an expansion has been released so early in a year, signalling the ramp-up of activities for this perennially popular product. With much more still in the pipeline for this year, retailers won’t want to miss out.

Two in 1 Direct 07967 004 585 | www.catsvpickles.com

Golden Bear 01952 608 308 | www.goldenbeartoys.com

Pocket money collectible line Cats vs. Pickles is inspired by Cepia LLC’s amusing property, in which Cats are petrified of Pickles, but all Pickles want is a bit of love. Exclusively available in the UK through Two in 1 Direct, the Cats vs. Pickles line launched earlier this year with collectible plushies. These character-based toys can be bought as single packs, 2-packs and themed 4-packs, with 100 different styles driving repeat purchase and excitement among fans. Each irresistibly squishy, bean-filled character features colourful and embroidered designs that reflect their individual personalities. Fans can collect different themes of Cats; Foodie Cats such as Paw-Purr-Oni, Scary Cats like Skelecat, Sweet Cats like Mint Chippie and Smarty Cats like Mew-sical Meow. Four sought-after rare plush Pickles are also available. The soft plush characters make appealing sensory toys, thanks to their ability to reduce stress and anxiety. They also have appeal as a fidget toy; a category that is seeing a resurgence in the US, with the UK not far behind. Further adding to the collectability of the range, Cats vs. Pickles welcomes Kitty Condos. Launching this autumn/winter, these light-up, customisable playsets stack together to create bright and cheerful neighbourhoods for kids’ plush pals. Kitty Condos will be available in two pocket money friendly options - Core Habitats and Themed Habitats – both of which come with one container, accessories and an exclusive character. Those wanting to splash out on their collection that bit more can opt for the 22-piece Deluxe Habitat. The Cats vs. Pickles toy line, which also includes the all-new Jumbo Plush Character Pillows, benefits from a significant volume of bespoke YouTube content and extensive marketing and PR support, including a major TV launch in June this year. There’s more on the way from Two in 1, which will soon be announcing a new partnership that will see the company bring one of the fastest growing global toy brands to the UK. To find out more, contact Paul Fogarty: Paul@allin1products.com.

Golden Bear has launched Zipstas, a unique new range of wearable collectible mini backpacks which transform into cute and cuddly plush toys. Based on the catwalk trend of mini backpacks, the first series of Zipstas has six different backpack designs for kids to choose from. Each bag can be unzipped and turned inside out to reveal a cute plush unicorn, panda, koala, narwhal, watermelon or cupcake. The design on the front of the bag will give clues as to which plush will be revealed once the bag is unzipped. The mini backpack range combines high quality design with portable fun. Zipstas are small, compact and lightweight with sturdy straps, making them perfect for holidays, day trips or school. Zipstas are available now and are suitable for kids aged 10+ months. There are plans to expand the range throughout the year. For more information on Zipstas or any other products in the Golden Bear portfolio, please contact: customerservices@ goldenbeartoys.co.uk.

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Pocket Money & Collectibles

Hornby 01843 233 500 | www.hornby.com December 2020 was a pivotal month for Corgi. Having been a nameless brand icon over half a century, the loyal Corgi Mascot, Mumbles, was formally introduced to younger consumers. Taking his name from the beautiful coastal community in Swansea, Mumbles’ purpose is to be the point of communication for the Corgi brand, capturing the interest of younger collectors while stealing the hearts of older ones at the same time. Mumbles is currently the ambassador of Corgi’s Chunkies range, taking young collectors on imaginative adventures using a play-proof version of the brand’s iconic die cast models. Built with robust, free moving wheels and a combination of both plastic and die cast metal, the collectible Chunkies assortment includes a range of themed vehicles such as the Police Tow Truck and the London Bus, all at pocket money prices. Also an avid flyer, Mumbles has now overhauled Corgi’s previously released showcase range, now known as Flying Aces. Highly collectible and small in stature, these fit-the-box die cast aircraft models are the perfect pocket money purchase and portray both modern and historic aircraft. Idea for aviation enthusiasts from the age of six, each Flying Aces model comes complete with its own display stand. The range includes the Hawker Hurricane and the newly tooled F-35 Lightning. Over the coming months, the Corgi team will be working towards a full Mumbles takeover of its young collector range, taking the form of everything from educational and informative activities to product driven stories and adventures with the new mascot.

Winning Moves 01706 558539 | www.winningmoves.co.uk Winning Moves understands that money may be tight for some families this year but is fortunate to be in a position whereby much of its product portfolio falls within the pocket money range. Best-selling pocket money lines include The World of Top Trumps - Top Trumps Classics, Top Trumps Juniors, Top Trumps Specials and Top Trumps Limited Editions – alongside Waddingtons Number 1 playing cards, Top Trumps Quiz, Pass the Pigs, and more. This year sees a number of new additions join Winning Moves’ pocket money range. The Waddingtons Number 1 Playing Cards family features both generic and licensed card decks. The company is adding a Rainbow deck as well as a Black and Gold deck to the generic assortment, both of which are made from premium quality materials and finished with a glossy texture that makes them sparkle. The licensed arena, meanwhile, welcomes a pack of Lord Of The Rings playing cards in anticipation of the budget-breaking new series coming out at the tail end of the year, and a The Mandalorian: The Child pack, which will sit alongside Winning Moves’ existing pack of Mandalorian playing cards. Given the popularity of the past two seasons of this Disney+ show, the company expects this pack to be a particular favourite with Star Wars fans. Finally, with Season 6 of the show currently shooting, the upcoming Peaky Blinders playing cards will feature everyone’s favourite, Thomas Shelby. The Top Trumps range also continues to grow with new additions bolstering the existing selection all year round. Between January and February, Top Trumps partnered with McDonald’s to place 10 unique packs inside Happy Meals up and down the country, reaching millions of households. The feedback and results have been overwhelming, and Winning Moves is capitalising its rebranding off the back of the campaign’s success. The rebranding splits Top Trumps into four segments: Classics, Juniors, Specials and Limited Editions. Each segment focuses on different aspects of the gameplay, comes in different packaging, and markets itself towards different demographics. Getting the right licences is key to the company’s success, which is why Winning Moves is pleased to be launching a CoComelon Top Trumps Juniors pack, a Star Wars: The Mandalorian Top Trumps Limited Editions pack, and a Minions: The Rise of Gru Top Trumps Specials pack.

Papo 0121 274 2121 | www.papo-france.com With spring on its way, it’s time for aspiring explorers to discover the insects and other small animals that populate our gardens. When inclement weather brings outdoor play to an end, Papo’s range of figurines brings the wildlife indoors. A wide choice of collectible figures is available, including a butterfly, caterpillar, ladybird, dragonfly, grasshopper, bee, ant, snail, praying mantis and hedgehog. Each extremely realistic figure is hand-painted and carefully modelled to accurately reflect the anatomy of the real thing. Papo’s animal and insect figures therefore offer inspiration for imaginative play, as well as support for educational learning based on the wildlife and the natural world. Within the range sits the Papo Butterfly, modelled upon the widespread Monarch butterfly. The figure’s four orange wings are crossed by black veins, and a double row of white dots border its extremities. The Ladybird figure, meanwhile, perfectly reflects the striking red and black spotted carapace of this commonly spotted garden insect. Papo also offers a large collection of more than 600 figurines across themes including terrestrial wildlife, marine life, the farm, horseback riding and dinosaurs.

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FOR MORE INFORMATION: 01925 854 282 eusales@hexbug.com


Pocket Money & Collectibles

Toynamics 0116 478 5230 | www.toynamics.co.uk For 2021, Hape is offering retailers a comprehensive selection of pocket money toys and games which retail for between £1.50 and £8, complete with a rotating CDU. Featured in the selection are bird whistles, magnetic drawing boards, stamps, crayons, spinners, kaleidoscopes and more. Hape also offers smaller CDUs for retailers with limited space, as well as refill packs. Nanoblock pocket money construction toys are available in both FSDU and CDU displays. These micro-sized building blocks, designed for ages 12 and above, offer a variety of different designs for kids (and adults) to build and display. Packs are labelled with difficulty levels from one to five. Retailers can select from a range of different generic themes including animals, food, music and more. Licensing is the most popular category within Nanoblock and Toynamics has expanding its licensed offering for 2021, offering the new Sonic the Hedgehog and Crash Bandicoot collections. Hape and Nanoblock are exclusively available from Toynamics UK & Ireland. Email sales@ toynamics.co.uk for more information.

Sambro International 0845 873 9380 | www.sambro.com Sambro’s Puzzle Palz range continues to be a firm favourite with children across the globe. These character-based erasers, which can be taken apart and rebuilt, have already sold over 19m units worldwide. The range includes characters from Paw Patrol, Avengers, Barbie, Trolls, Mickey Mouse and Friends, Baby Shark, Minions, Disney Princess, Frozen, Spiderman, Toy Story and Disney Classics. The standard Puzzle Palz capsule is supplied in a convenient CDU, giving retailers maximum flexibility. In addition to the standard capsule, Puzzle Palz are also available as a gift pack and in giant format for maximum fun and collectability. The range is already enjoying a strong following online with fans of the franchises, and to keep fans engaged and collecting the company will soon be launching its new Puzzle Palz Vehicles.

Simba Smoby Toys UK 01620 674 778 | www.simba-dickie-group.de/en Simba Smoby Toys UK’s renowned collectible die-cast vehicle brand, Jada Toys, is prepared for a strong year of growth. Celebrating the best in action film merchandising, with scaled replicas of the most memorable wheels from film and TV, Jada models feature an impressive level of detail. A must-have for any Bat-fan is the collection of 1:32 scale Batman vehicles. Each of the six packs contain a metal figure and vehicle modelled on Batman’s on-screen appearances. The Fast & Furious collection, which is also part of Jada’s Hollywood Rides series, will enjoy greater traction this year with the release of the F9 movie in May 2021. Fans can collect popular cars from the eight-film, multi-billion-dollar franchise, as well as new additions from Hobbs & Shaw. The Ryan’s World Mystery Eggs let kids create their own unboxing videos as they crack open the bright yellow egg to reveal a free-wheeling 1:64 die-cast fantasy race car. With 12 different die-cast vehicles waiting to be discovered, including the Combo Panda Speedster and Ryan’s Muscle Car, plus one chase model, the race will be on to collect them all. For more information about the full brand portfolio, including Smoby, Disney Plush, Jada, Ryan’s World, and Masha and the Bear, please email sales@sisotoysuk.co.uk.

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Pocket Money & Collectibles

Epoch making toys 08435 574 062 www.sylvanianfamilies.com / www.aquabeads.co.uk A sixth series of the Sylvanian Families Baby Collectible bags has been released, featuring a costume theme. Part of the new Amusement Land range, each surprise bag contains a baby figure dressed in fun outfits such as mermaid, pirate, ghost and fairy. There are seven figures to collect plus a mystery eighth figure that glows in the dark. The Baby Collectible bags are ideal pocket money buys for existing fans as well as children new to Sylvanian Families. Epoch has also extended its Aquabeads arts and crafts range with a set of Mini Theme Assortments, which includes the Mini Farm Set, Mini Jewel Set, and Mini Mermaid Set. Each mini kit can make four designs and includes all tools needed to get started.

IMC Toys 01904 720 908 | www.imctoys.com Smaller, collectible versions of the company’s best-selling Cry Babies line, IMC’s Cry Babies Magic Tears is celebrating substantial growth across its social platforms, including reaching 100k followers on TikTok. To complement the latest wave of Cry Babies Tutti Frutti characters, the Cry Babies Magic Tears are available as a Tutti Frutti range. Cute and fruit-scented, there are 13 characters to collect including a rare Tutti Frutti. Kids open the blind-packaged Smoothie beaker to discover the dolls, complete with two common accessories - a magic bottle and a dummy – plus four personalised accessories for each fruit: a spoon, bowl, sunglasses and a dress. Every doll comes with a unique accessory depending on their personality, a personalised sticker sheet, and a backpack. When kids feed the fruity doll with the magic bottle and then squeeze her belly, she will cry coloured jelly tears, just like on the Cry Babies Magic Tears animated series which can be seen on IMC Toys’ official YouTube Channel, Kitoons. Cry Babies Magic Tears content and videos can also be viewed across the Nickelodeon network and dedicated digital hub linked to Nick Jr.co.uk. Following 2020’s successful UK launch of VIP Pets, the new Glitter Twist series will be launching at retail in late spring. Six characters from Series 1 now come with new styles, and three new characters have been introduced, each available in two different styles and with different personalities and hobbies, plus a touch of glitter. The 30cm long hair on each character allows kids to create the perfect look once they unbox their VIP Pet from the glittery blind-packaged shampoo bottle. Pouring water on the doll reveals the hair colour and unique style. The VIP Pet can then take a seat in the salon chair, and the glittery accessories used to create cool hairstyles. Suitable for kids aged three and above, the all-new VIP Pets Mini Fans have launched to great success following a collaboration with Mini Mode: Global Kids Fashion Week. Reflecting the new characters seen in the latest VIP Pets animated series, also available to watch on Kitoons, VIP Pets Mini Fans are slightly smaller dolls than the originals, offering retailers an extended range at an even more attractive price point. The cool and crazy supporters of the VIP Pets, VIP Pets Mini Fans share a passion for hair, just like their idols, and form six different squads. Children can take the unique blind-packaged heart-shaped comb, submerge it in water, and watch the rainbow water-reveal. The rainbow trail experience precedes a host of surprises to discover, including a Mini Fan character, styling accessories, collector sheet and a sticker sheet to create a mini hair salon. Each character has 20cm long hair and comes in different colours and hairstyles, including accessories for styling. For more information on Cry Babies Magic Tears, VIP Pets and other ranges by IMC Toys, please contact info.uk@imctoys.com.

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Wow! Stuff 01902 390 428 | www.wowstuff.com Wow! Stuff continues to expand its roster of Tier 1 licensed brands with the addition of Universal Pictures’ and Amblin Entertainment’s blockbuster franchise, Jurassic World. An extension to Wow! Pods, Jurassic World Wow! Pods SFX feature a special effects sound mode. Kids can swipe to light to reveal hidden icons inside the hexapod, while clapping triggers dinosaur roars that are authentic to the sounds of Jurassic World dinosaurs. Each pod can be connected and displayed to create an interactive and exciting showpiece. Perhaps the cutest star of Wow! Stuff’s new collection, Drop ‘n Pop is a dinosaur egg like no other. When dropped onto any hard surface, the egg pops open to reveal a super soft plush dinosaur. Kids can choose from Bumpy, the baby dinosaur featured in Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous, or the infamous T. Rex. When open, the dinosaur sits happily on the base of its egg, making it perfect for display. They are also easy to squash back into the egg and re-seal, ready to Drop ‘n Pop again. For sales enquiries, contact Leanne.royce@wowstuff.com.



Allegedly

Lockdown has clearly gone on far too long. If you need evidence, look no further than controversial TV presenter Piers Morgan, who recently dedicated a section of his morning show to shouting at a toy potato. Poor Mr Potato Head had already attracted an avalanche of social media coverage, following Hasbro’s announcement that it would be dropping the ‘Mr’ soubriquet from its overall branding. Unfortunately, the nuance of this move escaped many people, who felt strangely compelled to turn a simple rebranding exercise into the coming of the apocalypse. Whether this was a clever PR strategy from Hasbro to drive engagement or just a simple misunderstanding by some rather uptight individuals – after all, the company will still sell both Mr and Mrs Potato Head as individual SKUs, along with a new set that allows children to create whatever family unit they choose – the announcement swiftly became headline news. Initially, I was asked by the producers if I would like to appear alongside Piers to ‘debate’ the development. However, by the time I had decided it might be quite fun, they had elected not to include any guests, to allow Piers full rein to vent his frustration on a spud he certainly didn’t like. Maybe it was for the best that I wasn’t there to point out that he was perhaps lacking a sense of perspective: only a week later, Piers stormed off the programme after some gentle criticism from a colleague, never to return… As we edge towards stores re-opening, major retailers across the globe have been looking at their head office and store estate infrastructure and, in some cases, planning dramatic changes. Asda recently announced that 5000 jobs were at risk, although that would be mitigated by the creation of 4500 new jobs, principally aimed at boosting the retailer’s online service. John Lewis unveiled a disappointing set of results, while sadly re-iterating that not all of its branches will re-open after lockdown, which chairman Sharon White admitted would have “implications for our supply chains.” And it isn’t just ‘struggling’ retailers that are looking to make big cost savings: Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group is said to be cutting over 300 jobs at Evans Cycles and moving the hundreds of remaining store staff to zerohours contracts, despite the huge demand for cycles over the past year… Arguably, of even greater concern for toy suppliers is the news that has been coming out of Sainsbury’s Argos in recent weeks, with Sainsbury’s planning a restructure that could see 1150 jobs disappear, including 500 at head office. In addition, chief executive Simon Roberts described the new

plan as “putting food first” - rather worrying for toy suppliers. A now-deleted social media post suggested that that Infant Toy & Nursery buyer Matthew Stent will be leaving the business after 14 years. Meanwhile, conversations with several toy suppliers have highlighted cancelled plans, a hold on listings for new brands and an air of concern from the Argos buying team over the impact of the proposed restructure of the general merchandise business. Regardless of whether Argos is still the number one toy retailer in the UK or if it has been overtaken by one of its rivals such as Amazon or Smyths, it remains pivotal to the UK toy market and these latest developments will undoubtedly be causing more than a ripple of concern throughout the toy supplier community. Let’s just hope that things settle down and there is clarity sooner rather than later – although, as I always say when reporting on developments such as this, other toy retailers will be watching the situation closely, hoping opportunities might open up for them as a result of the turmoil. The pandemic may have heralded many changes in the retail arena, but it hasn’t altered the fact that one retailer’s loss is invariably another’s gain… Distoy has announced that it plans to move the show from its traditional June slot to the end of October. Speaking to organiser David Potter, he feels that the extra five months will allow the global vaccine rollout to render the show viable. International visitors should hopefully be comfortable visiting the UK, providing they are permitted to travel by that point. Of course, it’s important to bear in mind that many other countries are currently lagging behind the UK on the vaccine rollout front – that could yet have an impact on all shows across the globe which cater to an international audience. But David remains hopeful that there will be an appetite to meet in person by that stage and is confident that he can deliver a worthwhile event… As an industry, we’ll have plenty of post-pandemic challenges to face, not least of which is a rapidly declining birth rate over the past 12 months – it turns out that those people who predicted a lockdown baby boom couldn’t have been more wrong if they had tried. Looks like we found other ways to amuse ourselves while we couldn’t leave the house; personally I blame Lego, whose stellar annual results were unveiled last month. With a whopping 13% rise in sales being partly attributed to families at home building together, it seems some couples were more inclined to get creative on the kitchen table with Lego than turning to other forms of recreation.

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